How I Visualized The Wrong Future

Two years ago I was a mess. I had given my all to getting into graduate school but had failed – but don’t feel too bad for me yet – I only applied to one school so, really, how bad did I want it, right?

The truly sad thing was that I had no idea what else I wanted to do.

For that past year I had kept a journal about my journey of applying to grad school – getting a mentor, taking an intesive Latin course, gaining volunteering experience and turning thirty (eek!).

With no idea what I wanted to do or be, the only thing that gave me comfort was that journal. I struggled to get down any thoughts about what was next for me and I could only hope that my depression could sink into its pages instead of infecting my daily life. I still had to go to work and be a teacher. I still had to make a living and not fall apart for my husband who was having a tough go at work too.

But every time I thought about the future, all I saw was black. I couldn’t bring myself to create anything. So I just wrote.

Lucky for you, I eventually realized that I could turn my journal into a blog. From the blog I realized I really wanted to engage with other thirtysomeones around the world who were faced with the same fears that I had. That was my first vision I made of the future.

From this I was able to use everything I knew about visualization and the Law of Attraction to motivate myself and move towards this vision.

Two months later, the school that I teach at developed a side program to teach English to 30+ students. I had nothing to do with it– no one at work knew about my blogging and I wasn’t about to direct them to the page where they could see dirty tidbits of my personal life. But I had somehow brought more thirtysomeones into my life. This new program would bring them from all over the world – exactly what I had asked for…

Yet, I kept my distance because I was focused on developing my own program for thirtysomeones, and I realized that I wanted to teach my own course – to create a program that would help others like me find their feet again and be happy and prosperous. I visualized myself teaching and helping rooms full of thirtysomeones with their dreams.

Then, one day, about a year later, I missed my subway stop on the way to work because I’d been fiercely meditating on this idea.

That day my boss handed me a new schedule and told me that all my classes were changing to be 30+. As I write this, it sounds contrived, right? Actually, if it hadn’t really happened to me, I might not believe it either.  I was literally handed everything I had asked for.

There are really two things that I hope you take from my story. The first is that visualization and the power of creating our future with our minds is real. A year after I had an idea about teaching people over thirty from all over the world, I was standing in front of a classroom full of them.

The second is that I made a mistake. I really wanted out of teaching English. I didn’t care how old they were because I was so much more focused on my own thing. My mistake was that I wasn’t specific enough. Once I realized what I had manifested wasn’t exactly right, I got down and dirty with my visualizations and put in all the detail I needed.

Now I think my vision is nice and detailed.  I want to teach thirtysomeones from all over the world how to get over the feeling of hopelessness.  I know that there are more people like me who have been silly enough to think that life ends instead of begins at thirty.  And as I wait for it to manifest in my future I am happy to practice on thirtysomeones from all over the world who are improving their lives by learning English.

Shout out to my 30+ students following along for reading practice!

How Gratitude Can Mess With Your Life

When I first started a gratitude practice I was terrible at it. I listed things in my journal and even on my phone during my commute but I felt a little silly and it felt really contrived. “I’m thankful for my job,” I’d say, but not mean it at all.

Have an attitude of gratitude and great things will come your way,” they’d say. So I kept at it, but resenting it just a little.

After about two months of making a morning list, I started to feel the shift. I found myself relying on the things I was thankful for throughout my day.

If I was having a rough time at work, I’d remember how thankful I am to have a happy home with my husband and my dogs. I’d smile and be able to keep going until I saw them. And when I did get home after a long day, I was even more happy to see them than before. There was one particular day when I even cried tears of joy on my front porch.

The practice eventually filtered into my normal thoughts. When I’d see someone less fortunate or disabled, I said a silent prayer of well-wishing but also of thanks that I am so blessed. These thoughts particularly started to stay with me during my workouts and inspire me to push me further.

All of that was wonderful – “they” were right.  I did feel happier.   Then someone suggested I include my gratitude list into my meditation. So I tried it for a few days and I really liked it at first because it saved me time. But soon there became an even greater reason to love this idea.

I started to see my gratitude in a totally different way. While I was in a meditative state, concentrating on the things in my life that I was grateful for, I gained a sense of clarity around the things that I truly desired in my life. I’ve even been able to become truly thankful for my job and it’s only because I was able to shift my perspective through meditiation.

In other words, I started to see that the things I was grateful for were the things that mattered and were the things that were driving me. In meditation this comes out so much more powerfully because you’re in touch with your instincts and true desires and your conscious mind can’t edit. You can truly see where your heart is directing you and where your priorities lie. Before, I never felt like I was being authentic when I would be thankful for my horrible job. But when I brought it into meditation it began to resonate with a certain aspect of me. I was able to make a connection to it that brought me some peace. It’s hard to explain – I guess you had to be there…

And this is the point! You should be doing it too – to get the same clarity.

Being grateful throughout your day can absolutely add to your happiness though not necessarily your clarity.  Clarity is really where it’s at because clarity tells us what we want and how we’re going to get it. Meditation is the path to clarity and therefore, the path to success.  

Here are some more great studies for you if you still need convincing!

          Harvard Study                       Another Study                     For the Skeptic           How to get clarity

Let me know if you try it this week and follow me on Twitter (@ashewoodz) or Facebook for my upcoming gratitude meditation.

Revamping the Thirty – “Something”.

With all the talk I do about being in your thirties, I’ve developed an unfortunate distaste for the word, “thirty-something.” It’s not that it’s too long or hard to say, I just hate it’s smug, nondescript attitude and, if you notice, how it comes across as pretty dismissive and impersonal:

“You are thirty…something. Whatever.”

Furthermore, we aren’t things. I’m a human being. A North American human being at that, which means that my age is critically attached to my identity, and I’m really sensitive about the entire topic of age and aging, so how dare you dismiss me as a something-aged person and force me to question my entire self-worth!

         stressed-woman-pulling-her-hair-frustration-screaming-38895868

To avoid any of these dramatic outbursts in the future, I’ve coined a term I hope we can all live with.

From now on, I’m referring to us as thirty-someones.

And as my thanks to you for following the blog or following me on Facebook and Twitter, and passing on the use of my clever new term, I have a FREE goal-making strategy infographic that I made especially to empower us thirty-someones. Ahhhh, I feel better already.

You can get your FREE copy at my new Facebook page and clicking LIKE, therefore restoring my Western-sense of self worth.

I’ll be expanding the information on the infographic in the weeks to come so leave me your comments and questions and we can get the conversation started.   I think we can agree that the first step is using better terminology that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The Power of ONE for 2015

Happy 2015 Everyone!

I hope everyone had a chance to look over the past year and gain some personal insights. Something I discovered and I’d like to share with you is about my personal goal achievement strategy for 2015 that I hope can help you this year as well.

During my reflection on 2014 I looked over my monthly plans (big, legal-size paper with each month written at the top, categories underneath, subcategories, sub-subcategories, and even distraction doodles…)

  DSCF0923[1]

Each month had some accomplishment check marks, but it’s plain that the things that I really wanted never got checked, and boy am I feeling it now.

I LOVE lists but I realize that I have become a bit of a slave to them. Month after month I see check marks on little things, so I think I’m progressing and I give myself that pat on the back.  BUT, as I said, none of the big goals were accomplished. Somehow I got so distracted by the little check marks that I lost sight of the importance of my priority items– the things I deeply desire. I did work on these things, a little bit each month, and I just figured that was enough.

This year I’ve decided that’s not enough for me. I want those big ticket items – those things that my inner voice is telling me I need to strive for so I can live the life I’m dreaming of.

I love making goals as much as the next guy – it’s fun to dream big and make plans. But I have to move away from checklists, and this means no list of resolutions (EEk!  I’m not sure if I can do it…).

So…my ONE resolution is that I will focus on ONE thing at a time, instead of many. No lists, just priorities.

Of course, this is only ONE way you can tackle your projects in 2015. I’d love to hear your ONE resolution or your 2015 game plan.  And if you’re a little stuck, don’t worry – I’ll have tons of new goal-setting material coming very soon (it’s the ONE thing on my list right now).

So stay tuned and Happy New Year!