Accepting and Working Through the Evolution of YOU

Where is my life going?As a highly solutions-based thinker and person, for a long time I thought that once I had it all figured out—who I was, where my issues stemmed from, and what I wanted out of life—that was it, and the rest of it was going to be cake. Ha! Then I turned 30, and subsequently 31, and realized, stubbornly and slowly, that life really is a journey, not a destination.

And with that realization has come an overwhelming need to shift gears a little, and move away (just a temporary step or two) from my accomplishment-obsessed mind to a kinder, gentler version of myself who allows herself more room to slow down, to reevaluate, to change and flex, and to adjust to new ideas, new feelings, and new needs.

Here’s the thing. Last year I thought I had every single last bit of it figured out. I felt unstoppable and invincible. Then relationships fell apart, my safety was compromised, and life got really messy, really fast. Everything that was going on around me (and it was a lot!) had a sneaky little way of making me reevaluate what really matters, including thinking more about basic needs I desperately needed to nurture and pay more attention to (and fast!). These tend to be those small, but critical things we all tend to take for granted in the midst of pushing full steam ahead toward dreams, keeping busy schedules, socializing, juggling, and well, living our lives to the fullest, as they say; things like rest, safety, and balance.

Soon, as the fog began to lift little by little, it became more and more clear to me. Sometimes you really just need to STOP. Give yourself the freedom to pause. Allow yourself to think. Every season in your life is not meant to be lived on a high. Some seasons are for learning, strengthening and shedding the old so that you can come out of the other side of struggle with something so good you couldn’t possibly have dreamed it up before.

Trust me, I know it’s hard. I literally have to talk myself down from that nagging urge to go, go, go all the time, but sometimes, when things start to fall apart, we have to listen to the universe, take a step (or two!) back, and let all the questions and doubts take a good, long swim so that the answers might have a fighting chance at rising to the surface and propelling us into the next adventure. Because you the more you struggle, the faster you sink.

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember through it all is that you do not lose your value in times of confusion and unrest; you do not stop being YOU. You do not stop being strong. You do not forsake all of the progress you’ve made and learning you’ve done until that point. There is positivity in the fight, in never giving up, in forging ahead through the pain, and keeping hope alive for another good (screw that—GREAT) season to come!

So if you find yourself just going THROUGH right now, take a deep breath, and accept that life is beautiful but life is also cyclical. Accept that you are ever-changing and evolving, and so is the life that surrounds us and lives within us. Work through it. Read a lot. Talk it through. Don’t give up on the puzzle just because you’re missing a few pieces, or you’re not sure how the big picture is going to pan out. Keep looking for joy in the small things, and trust that the answers will come. Most of all, just keep swimming!

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

14 Life Lessons Learned and Relearned in 2014

Run Into 2015 with a Few Important Life LessonsIt’s the last day of the year, and we’re all summarizing, dissecting, evaluating the last 12 months in our heads. Was it a good year, did we acquire any new life lessons, did we accomplish something new, did we lose, did we win – how’d it go?

For me, 2014 was such a great year that I’m almost sad to see it go – it’s truly amazing how much can change in the span of one orbit around the sun! In Sonia’s world, 2014 was a year of renewed strength, of change, of battling fear – and dare I say winning! – of adventure, of laughter and lots of action. Now that I talk about it, I think I need a nap – but one of those my heart and belly are so full that I could use a good snuggle-to-bask-in-the-glory-of- it-all naps. But since I have to get ready to go out and bid farewell to this incredible year, I’ll stay awake instead and share some life lessons I learned and relearned this year – hopefully they can bring you a little insight to run into 2015 with.

Here we go!

Life Lessons #1: The healing process is greatly aided when you make a decision to move on, make plans to help in that decision, and stick to them like your life depends on it – because well, it does.

Life Lessons #2: You never truly forget someone you once loved, but you CAN find ways to move on and focus on lessons rather than on negatives. You can come out of pain victorious – but you have to make the decision to do so!

Life Lessons #3: People say I plan too much – but in 2014, I learned and relearned, that without a plan, nothing gets accomplished. On the other hand, with a solid plan and solid action, the world can be yours. But listen, don’t get crazy – you can’t and don’t have to plan every second, but set some goals, think about what you want, and make it happen. Just like this…1, 2, 3…!

Life Lessons #4: Treat your happiness like it’s your job – work hard at it, put effort into it, commit to it – and stop waiting for other people to get it done for you, because they never will.

Life Lessons #5: If you are secure in who you are, no one can bring you down for long- so if you don’t know yourself quite yet, get to knowin’ right now!

Life Lessons #6: People will always try to tell you who you are, what to do, how to do it, and what choices to make – be patient with them and know yourself enough to nod politely, walk away peacefully, and then make your own decisions. Only you know what truly works for you – don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Life Lessons #7: When people question us and our characters, it hurts. Listen, take it in, re-evaluate, and take what makes sense while throwing out what doesn’t. Just because someone has an opinion, it doesn’t make it fact.

Life Lessons #8: Change is incredibly scary, but stagnation is death. Take some chances, risk something, make the change your life, mind, body and spirit crave – you’ll get through the scary stuff, I promise. But never going for it will always weigh on you. It might even kill you.

Life Lessons #9: There’s a lot of things in life we can control and many others that we simply cannot. Focus on what you can control, and stop beating yourself up about the things you can’t. You will be so much more at peace this way!

Life Lessons #10: Measure your life by the things that matter to you instead of constantly trying to live up to someone else’s definition – because try as you may, you never, ever will.

Life Lessons #11: When you go through something hard, share the lessons you’ve learned, share your wisdom – help someone else get through it a little faster or easier than you did. It’s cathartic, it’s good for the soul, and it puts healing out into the universe – you don’t have to be a writer to make a difference with your stories. Don’t be stingy – and share. It makes a huge difference!

Life Lessons #12: There’s something about turning 30 (at least for me) that makes you appreciate your parents more – understand them more, give them more credit, thank them more. Maybe it’s the realization that they won’t be here forever or having a deeper understanding of your own imperfections. Whatever it is – it’s a beautiful, beautiful place to be. Cherish it, and make sure to let them know how much you appreciate them.

Life Lessons #13: Your life is yours to make – so stay alert to all the people and things that try to divert you – because you will encounter about a bazillion, and never, ever forget it.

Life Lessons #14: Happiness is not about perfection – it’s about taking all of the many imperfections and working with them, around them and through them – declaring loudly, “You can’t stop me!”

That’s it for today, folks. Here’s to a 2015 filled with even more life lessons – and more good, more smiles, more love, more positive change, less bad, less frowns, less hate, and as little negativity as humanly possible – because, well, negativity is just YUCKY! That’s right – I said it – with the same disgust a toddler gives his broccoli – YUCKY!

Always keep your eyes open – those life lessons can be a little sneaky sometimes, but they’re there. Happy New Year ya’ll!

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

A Circular Progression: Changing Hate to Love


Changing Hate to Love Hey ya’ll, and happy Wednesday! Guess what? I’ve got a little, big somethin’ on my mind and in my heart, so I thought we’d have a little chat about changing hate to love.

Here’s the thing – and get ready to get deep with me for a minute here. As human beings, it is perhaps one of our greatest misfortunes that so much of our history is plagued with dark, fear-rooted, often unreasonable, purely wasteful hate. We hate and hurt each other because we are different. We judge and ostracize each other because we don’t agree. We kill each other because we are greedy, self-centered, jealous and cruel. And recent events only confirm this circular progression and perpetuation of senseless, incredibly unproductive hate where I fire, and you fire back, then I fire again, and it never ends, until our spirits are defeated, and there is no one left to fire back at.

Still, on the other side of all of that – we are all basically good (I believe) and basically the same. We all have blood coursing through our veins, thoughts in our heads, people and places that we love, things that we care about, feelings we feel. Every color, every size, every shape, every origin, every preference – smiles, cries, loves and hurts – in much the same way.

And yet, we focus so much on all the ways in which we are different – finding fear in the unknown, thinking we have to understand each other in order to respect each other, believing we have to love or get along with everyone in order to believe they are worthy of the same rights we enjoy, thinking basic kindness should only be reserved for those who reflect back what we see in our own mirrors. We work against each other instead of with each other – toward war instead of toward change. We pick and choose who we deem worthy of basic humanity. We perpetuate hate. We feed it. We light it up. And in the end, nothing is accomplished. Our problems get bigger, our pain becomes deeper, and our lives become broken.

There’s another way. We can start changing hate to love today if we just try to be a little more intentional with our interactions, and open our hearts a little more to the basic humanity we all share. Think about it. What if we just focused on all of the ways in which we are human, and made a real, conscious effort to lead with love and light – whenever possible and as much as possible – and left everything else behind? Couldn’t we be more productive, more efficient, more fulfilled, healthier, happier, brighter, and less plagued? Couldn’t we start changing hate to love? I think so.

And listen, I can’t change your ideas, your beliefs or your prejudices – whatever they may be, but I just urge you to think in terms of kindness, think in terms of humanity, think in terms of our shared experiences rather than our polarizing fears. Remember that the hate you emanate breeds darkness and contempt in your own life and heart – and in the lives and hearts of those you care about too. Wouldn’t you like to see a little changing-hate-to-love action happening in your own life and between those you love?

Don’t worry. We can start small. Let’s be nice to each other – classic, simple, straightforward NICE. Let’s open doors for each other and forgive people when they bump into us. Let’s say please and thank you. Let’s offer up a hand and help. Let’s not respond to hate with hate – let’s think for a moment that maybe a person who is being hateful is suffering – maybe they had a bad day, maybe they don’t feel well, maybe they’re scared – and let’s fire back with a smile. Let’s start changing hate to love. Let’s say good morning. Let’s say excuse me. Let’s be polite to people we don’t understand, to people different from us, to people who might scare us. Let’s be open and honest. Let’s communicate. Let’s not pick and choose who we are kind to on a daily basis – instead – let’s just choose kindness – every time. Let’s start changing hate to love!

I’m not saying these small acts will change our deeply wounded world in moments, days, months or even years – but the sum of days full of small decisions to lead with light and love instead of with darkness and hate – I believe can begin to mobilize slow, meaningful, purposeful, continuous change, and light a path towards something better so that future generations can live in a world with a little more understanding, a whole lot more love, and a little less war.

I don’t know – maybe I’m being overly simplistic or entirely idealistic. Still, call me crazy if you must, but I think it might just work. Come on – are you up for it? Let’s band together and start changing hate to love today.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Photo © Ivelinr | – Love Or Hate Photo

FEAR is a Bully & a Phony


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about fear, and I’ve come to realize how much of our lives are affected by what seems to me is nothing more than a big, grizzly, rock throwing bully. Too often, we let fear stop us from going for professional opportunities, from loving, from trying something new, from taking a risk, changing our path, expressing ourselves, and just living.

I’ve always been one to fight fear, and trust me, there are many things that scare me. But I’ve always forced myself to face fear, to go for it, to fight back, because fear is rarely ever real. Fear is something people use to modify your behavior, to convince you to live your life based on their expectations. I also believe fear is something life uses to test you, see how easily you will give up, how quietly you will stay seated.

In true Word Share Junkie style, I’ll share a few ways I’ve fought that bully fear throughout life, and how much better things turned out because I did. Here’s hoping I can inspire a little gumption in you today to stand up to the bully, and take more control over your life and your destiny.

When I was a teenager, my dad was insanely strict and really not a very laid-back fellow. I was always a little terrified of him, not because of any psychical threat, but because his screams were so chilling and stomach crushing that they instilled fear. Fear of what, I’m not exactly sure. But even with that fear nestled firmly in my gut, I began to fight back. I’d always ask for logical explanations when he’s day no to a simple outing request. I’d call a friend to drive me to work when he wouldn’t show up to do so, because he didn’t want me to work, even though I’d get in trouble for it later. I voiced the fact that I was a good student, a good kid and a hard worker, and I deserved certain liberties.  And sometimes, it got really nasty. I felt like I was somehow causing trouble for others, especially for my mother, but in the end I realize I was standing up for myself and against the illusion of fear, and today I believe my mother is proud of me for that.

When I moved to Chicago back in the summer of 2010, I was terrified. I didn’t know how it would go for me here, and I was afraid I wouldn’t hack it in my MBA program. I’m a smart girl with many talents, but math had never been one of them, and I was afraid a curriculum heavily focused on quantitative courses would crush me. I was afraid to leave behind a full-time job to go back to being a student, living on loans and interning, etc. Leaving my little sister was insanely hard (she was 8 at the time), and I was afraid she’d resent me for it.  I was also dealing with everyone around me doubting my decision to leave, and trying to guilt me into staying.

But I packed up that fear, and I drove to Chicago anyway. I busted my butt in school, and made it through those quantitative courses, and got my degree. I found internships, encountered many great mentors, developed a lot of incredible friendships, lost 50 pounds, and became a better person for my little sister to be around when I go home to visit. The depression I experienced in Miami for too long had lifted, and I could now be more there for her than I was ever able to be when I lived in the same city.

When I finished school, and realized it was time to really start pushing on my writing career, my author and motivational speaker dreams, I was terrified too. I’ve always been an extremely open person, and I’ve never really been one to hide anything (like, ANYTHING), but it was a different thing to start writing everything down for strangers to read. It was incredibly scary to think of putting myself out there in such an honest and explicit way. I was scared of what people might think, how my family might react, etc. I was scared no one would be interested in what I have to say or share.

But I started the blog anyway, and continue to work through my book and my fears, build my social media presence, forging ahead to where I see myself in maybe 6-10 years. I somehow find the time to work on everything piece by piece while I do the other things I love; marketing, nurture friendships and relationships, and live my HAPPY.  Plus, I’ve received some great feedback, and heard from many folks who are already saying my message helps them in some way.

As my final example, I’ll bring up LOVE for the first time on this blog (oh boy!). I haven’t had the best luck in this arena, despite my general success in most other facets of my life. I haven’t really had a real relationship in about a decade, although I’ve dated quite a bit. I’ve been hurt and disappointed immensely many times, and given up on the whole idea of love for long periods of time. But now that I have realized the growth I’ve attained from those experiences, I choose to love regardless of the fear. I choose to be open to it despite the very real risk of getting hurt. I choose to fight back, because I know I deserve love, I know it’s out there for me, and I know I will attain it.

So really, my point is where would I be today if I had succumbed to fear? Where would I be if I had allowed my father to control my life, if I had let people convince me to stay in Miami where I was terribly unhappy? What kind of life would I have if I had allowed my fear of numbers to keep me from attaining that MBA and taking my career to a new, desperately needed level? Where would I be if I had let all of my past experiences and history with emotional abuse keep me from loving people openly and completely, from believing in others, from believing in the good in this world and in us all?

It’s a scary thing to imagine where I’d be, and I’m so glad I’m here and not there. So when you encounter fear, recognize the bully, and fight. Once you get past that initial hump of fright, you will realize fear is also a big phony, and you will have won because you dared to question it, fight it and reject it.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie