Be Happier with One Very Simple Life Hack

Be Happier with a Smile

Start being happier today! Did you know the most critical time to smile, laugh and dance is when you’re not feeling you’re best? That’s right. When you’re having a tough time with certain situations in your life, when goals seem to be walking farther and farther away from you, when things seem a little or a lot off-balance, when your heart is broken, when you find yourself a bit lost – that is the time to smile.

That is the time to push harder. It’s the time to give yourself a pep-talk as often as you feel you need it. It’s the time to read corny, motivational things, to scatter affirmation sticky notes all over your apartment, to blast a nice Wilson Phillips jam (or some other free-your-soul, sing-your-heart-out kind of jam you might like). That is the time to tell yourself everything is going to be OK over and over again, because if we’ve all learned anything from tough times, it’s that everything always turns out OK. Sure there are scars, and big changes, and loss, but in the end, everything turns out alright, life goes on, and you find happiness again.

Stop thinking tough or confused times are not times for smiles, laughter and dancing. Those are the times when it matters the most to push yourself to be positive, to get up, dress up and show up (as Regina Brett would say), to find joy in small things, to try new things, and fight, fight, fight. It is the time to believe the hardest in yourself, in your potential, and in the good things that are destined for you. It’s the most important time to do all of the things that make you happier. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my Sunday night pep-talk to you and to myself. I hope it helps get your week started off right! It’s so simple. Cheese it up more, especially on the bad days, and see how you start to feel happier in no time!

Love,
Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Luck Needs Your Faithful Reminder Tonight

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve really become serious about making progress on what has evolved from one huge book with every life-improving/motivational topic under the sun to a much more digestible series of eBooks that will each cover one topic. One night a week I come to a Starbucks in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago because its open later than any other coffee shop I’ve seen. And, I write.

It’s a really great spot for writing. This location has an awesome set-up with a sort of counter-stool area that allows you to work while you look out onto the street. Watching people walk by and life happen while I write just helps me stay focused in a weird way. I am productive here. My creative juices just go buck wild.

Now this is also the neighborhood where I volunteer every other Saturday with what is mostly street-based youth. In the last couple of weeks, as I’ve been writing and watching life happen from this Starbucks window, I’ve seen several of the youth I volunteer with walking by. A few of them pace back and forth for the several hours I sit here, suitcases in hand, often looking lost and as if they are just passing the time, because well, they have nowhere to go. And it’s incredibly heartbreaking.

Here I sit drinking my $5 coffee, thinking of myself as unprivileged because of the circumstances I come from, constantly stressing out because of the mountainous debt that keeps me up at night,   and forever worrying about how and when I am going to get to where I want to be in my life with respect to career, love, family stability and everything else I worry about. When will I finish these books, when will I have financial stability, when will I truly get past the issues of my troubled childhood?

But then I see these kids, walking back and forth, with everything they own in one suitcase, trying to figure out where to sleep tonight, and I remember just how incredibly lucky I am. Suddenly, I focus less on everything I do not have, and focus more on all of the great things I sometimes take for granted in my life. I start to pay more attention to all the luck I do have, despite whatever misfortunes I might struggle with.

So I just thought I’d write a little note to encourage you to focus on everything that you have, and try and give less heart and brain space to all of the things you wish you had or you feel you’ve been cheated out of in life. Because if you have a roof over your head, health in your blood, and food in your stomach, you are already so much more fortunate than a lot of people out there in this troubled world. 

If you really try and focus on the fact that you are indeed very lucky just a little more often, I think you will find more HAPPY in your heart and more peace in your mind. So tonight, before I go to bed, and every night after that, I will say to myself, “You are very lucky,” and I hope you will give it a shot too.

With eternal love and hope,

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

A Testament to the Power of a Positive Attitude

The Power of a Positive Attitude

I love positive people and positive attitudes. I really do. Every time I come across one, I feel reinvigorated to spread my Care Bears attitude around even more, and follow what I believe to be my calling as a motivator of the masses (well one day). Each time I meet an exceptionally positive person who I see CHOOSING to maintain a positive attitude, I also start to think maybe I am not crazy after all. Maybe there’s lots of people out there just like me trying to prove the devil is a liar, and smiling through life, trying to make the world a better place for themselves and for others.

This brings me to my Zumba instructor Wanda, someone who I believe is a true testament to the power of a positive attitude. Wanda teaches Zumba at the L.A. Fitness I go to in Evanston, IL on Tuesday evenings. She’s this vibrant, brightly dressed, petite woman with great, wild, curly hair, and a smile that is a bigger and more powerful than her whole person.

Most days, positive attitude and all, it’s hard for me to get to the gym after long, grueling days at work, but lately, Tuesdays are actually hard for me to miss. No matter what kind of day I’ve had, I know Wanda, her contagious smile and that life-line giving Zumba music will take my mood up a notch or maybe even 10. And it’s not just me.

At the beginning of every class, everyone looks tired, stressed and tense. Very little remnants of any positive attitude can be seen anywhere in the room. Those who are in class for the first time have frightened looks in their eyes. How hard will this class be? Will this woman be a tyrant and try to kill us all (through hardcore exercise of course)? But then, probably no more than five minutes into class, the faces around me start to soften and the smiles begin to get wide.

Wanda’s positive spirit and happy demeanor is incredibly contagious, and it helps everyone forget that their legs, feet and entire bodies are hurting from the intense workout. Sometimes, when the music player in the fitness studio doesn’t work, Wanda makes up her own songs and keeps us all on track. She too says the devil is a liar, and she can make her own way, and I totally agree with her. Now that is a great testament to the power of a positive attitude!

I am inspired by Wanda. She teaches Zumba and has been doing so for many years, but in my eyes, she does so much more than that. To me, she uses her talent to bring cheer to others, while also helping them to strengthen their bodies, and more than with her knowledge of fitness or all the latest Zumba moves, she accomplishes this through a positive attitude and outlook on life.

So today, let’s all try and be a little more like Wanda, and smile at each other, dance and sing to the beat of our own tune, and when something doesn’t work, let’s find a different way to get there. Pick up that positive attitude I know you have inside of you, and run like hell with it! 

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Mean People Suck: Don’t Let ‘Em Break You

Mean People SuckFor the last few days, I’ve been working on a blog post on a completely different topic, but that’s the thing about sharing motivational morsels; it always works best to attack the issues of the day. That’s why I’d like to have a quick chat (albeit a one-way one until someone chooses to comment), on the importance of working together and not against each other, and not allowing MEAN to break you. Quite simply, mean people suck, and I just won’t have it!

I see it all the time in the ol’ day-to-day action. People are so quick to point fingers and find someone to blame when a situation gets sticky, but I always urge myself to focus on results and solutions. I also stress the importance of communicating positively and fairly, regardless of how tough the cookie you have to serve might be. Regardless of the situation, always try to work together towards results, rather than against each other towards conflict. Mean people suck! Don’t be one.

Now I know it’s hard to hold on to your cool sometimes when people fling attitudes and snotty, little pointy fingers at you, but it is definitely something you should always woosah yourself through. Letting negativity or conflict bring you down to its level, what I’m referring to as the MEAN, only worsens the situation and spreads more negativity. Standing your NICE ground, on the other hand, usually helps to soften the situation, and well, quite honestly it gives folks, even the mean ones, a little more hope in humanity. And we could all use a little bit more of that, I think. Focus my friends. Mean people suck. Always choose to be nice instead!

And never let the MEAN break you, make you bitter, or dull your shine – mean people suck, but you don’t have to. At the end of the day, when I’ve walked away and calmed down from my own verge of breaking my NICE, I feel like I always win, have better relationships, garner more respect from others, and just feel healthier. Giving into the MEAN might temporarily feel like a victory, but in the end it is that MEAN that would have won once you gave into it and it’s evil little ways. Mean people suck, but I simply won’t let them change me.

So stay cool, be nice, spread kindness, let the mean-sicles be mean, and keep your heart and spirit healthy with all the NICE you can possibly muster. Because like my pal Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” and, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

One more time just for good measure, shall we? Mean people suck!

Happy Tuesday!

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Kindness Counts: 9 Tips for a Kinder Existence

Kindness Counts

Every day, I pay attention. In fact, I probably pay more attention to every minute detail of my surroundings and social interactions than my brain and heart can really handle sometimes.  One thing that I catch myself paying extra, special, focused attention to is people’s attitudes. I notice when people are kind, even if just in tiny, little, minuscule ways, and it always, always, without fail, gives me a little boost, a little pep in my step, and a great big smile.

Then there are the times when I pick up on a more negative energy; attitudes that feel more like quick, sharp bee stings.  Sometimes it’s really subtle – a slightly irritated or condescending tone of voice, a less than pleasant look, or an off-putting gesture. I imagine people often don’t even realize they are being a little on the jerky side, or how their energy might affect others around them. But me? I notice. That’s just Sonia. I’m sensitive to people’s energy, and I pick up on that stuff. I think a lot of us do.

Enter the topic of kindness which I haven’t visited in a bit. I believe with everything I have that there is always a positive way to have a conversation, even when it involves a tough or controversial topic. I believe there is always a small gesture you can make to help someone feel more comfortable, always a positive way to tackle a situation, always a small way to be kind, and rarely a thoroughly good reason to be a dick. Yes, I said it.

In that vein, here are nine small, but meaningful ways to live a kinder existence.

Kindness Counts Tip #1: SMILE!

Whether it’s at a homeless person on the corner, your neighbor, the cashier at your grocery store, a fussy child, your co-worker, just SMILE! It’s free, it’s easy, and trust me, it makes a sizable difference. Most of us just want to be acknowledged, and there is no better way to acknowledge someone and their humanity, than through a great, big CHEESE.

Kindness Counts Tip #2: Show appreciation.

Take time to thank those who contribute to your life (made you laugh, did you a favor, offered advice), whether that’s  a mentor, a friend, a nurse, the bar tender at your favorite spot, an old professor, a family member, anyone. Maybe it’s just an actual “thank you” and a smile, maybe it’s a thank-you note, or a small treat. It might take you five minutes of energy, but it will give someone else a whole day’s worth of warmth.

Kindness Counts Tip #3: Respect others.

We are all different – complete with our quirks, our bad days, and our likes and dislikes. But we all contribute in our own very special way, and I believe we should respect what everyone has to offer. Never make people feel they are less than you. Never talk down to people. Never ignore them. Try to find a happy medium between what you bring to the table and what they bring, knowing neither is better than the other, just different, and equally as valuable.

Kindness Counts Tip #4: Listen.

People want to be heard. Hell, people NEED to be heard. Even if you don’t agree, just listen. Give people a turn, and then talk. Give others the opportunity to let go of what weighs on their hearts and minds. Then when they have what they need, they’ll turn and listen to you. Don’t shun people out because what they are saying is not what you want to hear. Just listen.

Kindness Counts Tip #5: Apologize.

Hey, screw up much? Of course you do. We all do, and that’s A OK! Practice self-awareness. Realize when you’ve made a bad choice, offended someone, hurt some feelings, and apologize. People are pretty easy, folks. They just want to have their feelings validated. They don’t actually want to hold on to grudges. They just want to hear you’re sorry. Screw up, own up to it, apologize, and move on. Screw up, hold on to that pride like a kid to a chocolate bar, make the situation worse, and dwell. Easy choice, I’d say.

Kindness Counts Tip #6: Be honest.

Clearly, there is a place and a time for brutal honesty, and you can’t always go around telling everyone exactly how you feel. Plus, being honest doesn’t equate to being a jerk. Instead, just be as honest as you can as often as possible. Especially in situations where people are reaching out to you, asking you straight out how you feel, give them the answer they deserve, the honest one. Don’t beat around that old tired bush, just come out with it. Don’t lead folks on, or tell them what you think they want to hear. That ends up hurting a lot more in the long run, every time. And hey, some people might not like what you have to say, but in the end, they will always find a way to respect it.

Kindness Counts Tip #7: Build spirits up. Don’t tear them down.

Give compliments where compliments are due. Encourage people. Support them. Help them wherever and however you can. Again, SMILE! Don’t interrogate. Don’t search for flaws. Search for good qualities. See the good in people. Forgive. Give chances. Stay positive. Don’t hurl insults at every turn, even when they are hurled violently at you.

Kindness Counts Tip #8: Don’t let ‘em harden you.

OK. So you’re throwing out all the kindness you can muster, and you are still getting nasty attitudes, rude comments, and harsh dismissals. So what? If we give into that, we only perpetuate the ugly little cycle. Be nice even when others are not. Be the positive light in Negative Alley. Don’t let ‘em harden you. The right people will appreciate it, and the harder ones? Well, sooner or later, if you just keep pushin’ through kindness, you’ll strike a chord, and soften them right up! Negative or angry people are not bad people. They just need your kindness the most.

Kindness Counts Tip #9: Be humble.

No matter what you achieve in life, what faraway lands you might travel to, how great your possessions and accolades might be, stay humble. Always remember the path you took to get there. Remember the bad days when the good days come. Remember those who helped you along the way. Never start to think you’re better than anyone. Know that things can always change. Appreciate, love and share kindness. Don’t get cocky, and don’t you ever dare think you have nothing left to learn.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Short & Sweet: Tuesday Motivation Tidbit

Today, I just wanted to share a quick note on giving it your best. Even when life stresses you out, when people give you grief, when you start to feel like you really don’t know if you’re coming or going, or coming again, give it your best. And by that I mean give every day your best. We are human, flawed, limited by time and resources, and this just 24 hours in a day to get it all done thing isn’t changing anytime soon. So if you didn’t reach that goal today, if that dream seems like it might take just a few more weeks, months or even years, if you had an argument, if you lost a battle, constantly remind yourself that tomorrow is another day; a brand spankin’ new day full of brand spankin’ new possibilities.

Letting your day’s disappointments take over you will only diminish your chances at shining tomorrow. So always, always stay positive, take a lot of deep breathes and talk to yourself, a lot. And no, that doesn’t make you insane in the membrane even though many of us like to make that joke. I believe and know from experience that talking to yourself is one of the best ways to stay connected with your own needs, to reflect and to find better ways to tackle tomorrow. What am I ALWAYS telling you? Be your own best friend, be your own hero, be your biggest supporter. This counts the most on the not-so-good days.

Tell yourself it’s going to be OK. Talk through the problem in your head. Give yourself a good ol’ fashioned pep talk, and see how quickly you start to regain confidence even after the worst of days. Positive thought is a self fulfilling prophecy, and not the bad kind. It’s the very, very good with a cherry on top kind. Plus, you must never, ever give up on yourself no matter how many times you might fall. Those falls are just life’s sneaky little tests, and you have the power to pass them all if you believe it hard enough.

I’m off to the warm beaches of Miami for a few days, so I won’t get a chance to write until next week. I hope you all have a positively positive week, and keep those spirits up, no matter what trouble you might find. I will work to do the same.

And thanks to the folks who followed the blog this week, and all of those who’ve followed or Liked before. This space means a lot to me, and I’m grateful that you are finding value in it.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

From STRESS to STRENGTH in 24 Hours

Whoa! This week just came out of nowhere and slapped me in the face with STRESS. Per my usual style, I think there is a great lesson to learn in my current (although already much better) plight, so I will share it with you! Let me explain how I went from STRESS to STRENGTH in 24 hours. Here it goes.

Bye, bye Ms. Jetta

My sweet, reliable 2006 Jetta Volkswagen has been living on the struggle bus for a few months now. I really don’t know anything about cars other than how to turn one on and drive it, but I’ve had the feeling for some time that something was terribly wrong. You see, the ol’ Jetta got into this nasty little habit of jerking or stalling while driving. Sometimes it was soft and sometimes the jerking was so bad, my body would actually bounce a little off the seat as an involuntary shriek would spill out of my mouth like a baby rejecting split pea soup.

I knew this would not be a cheap repair or a simple process, so I just kept prayin’ on that ol’ steering wheel, and counseling the car to stay with me for just a while longer. Last week, though, the jerking was becoming noticeably worse and worse, so it was time to bite that awful car repair bullet. I had to take it to two different places, and deal with the whole rides there and back situation for several days to get to and from work while the car was being checked. The last place finally told me the sad, sad news. My baby’s transmission had all kinds of problems I couldn’t even begin to understand, and it was best to take it on home to the Volkswagen dealership, and check whether I had any kind of extended warranty on the transmission.

So, fine. I take my car home, and ignore my troubles for one more night through arcade games and some major dancing. Hey, it was Friday night. I can’t be consumed with STRESS on a Friday night! So, the next night I decide to face my impending financial doom, and start looking in my car file for any shred of hope I could find. And there she was. So pretty, so crisp. It was an extended warranty for the transmission valve body (whatever the heck that means!).

I make my appointment to take the car in to the downtown Volkswagen dealer Tuesday morning, and I’m feeling pretty breezy at this point. I drop it off at 7am, and they assure me that if it’s the transmission valve body, they would repair it at no charge. BUT, around 4pm, while I worked from home, I got the call. There was a whole heck of a lot more wrong with the car than this transmission valve body business I thought would save my poor me, and it would cost way more to fix it than the car was worth. Plus, I still owed over $5k on it. It was now time to consider purchasing a new car somehow, with no down payment ready and totally unprepared for such a purchase.

So I take my STRESSED out little toosh down there, and there they were just waiting to take full advantage of my desperation. Somehow I was convinced I was getting a great deal on trading in my car, and leasing a brand new one for a lot more money despite my awesome credit score. They even made me believe I had actually negotiated down the price significantly when I threatened to leave and go somewhere else.

They also insisted this lease on a brand new Jetta was their best deal, even better than any used car they had available. It was not until I got home, and began to really analyze the situation that I realized I probably should have taken my car, and shopped around for a better deal. There, I began to freak out. My car payment would now be higher and so would my insurance premium because of the leasing situation, and the car wouldn’t even be mine. Plus, I hated the feeling that I had just been majorly played because I wasn’t really thinking straight, and to top it all off, my school loan payments start this month! More STRESS.

I go back this morning and attempt to express my disdain and realization that I probably got majorly ripped off, but they have very convincing answers to all of my accusations, plus said I didn’t have an option to back out. I basically left feeling incredibly defeated. Plus, it all happened so fast. I didn’t even really have time to get used to the idea of getting rid of my former companion, the car who had been with me through so much. I was STRESSED, confused and mourning. Situations like this bring back a lot of my poverty and single hustler noise. They remind me that no matter how far I’ve come or how hard I’ve worked, it will still take a long time to fully remedy the effects of that poverty, and that I have nowhere to turn for a little financial assistance in times like these.

Moving from STRESS to STRENGTH

I took the day off of work and basically spent it freaking out, nauseated and majorly STRESSED. But in-between all of that I also made some calls, moved some bills around, reviewed my budget, found some solutions, searched for freelance work,  and slowly started to travel back to STRENGTH. It is now about 24 hours since I originally came home from the dealer with this shiny, new financial burden, and I finally feel like everything is going to be OK. I even found myself looking in the mirror, and saying, “You see? Everything is going to be OK. You’ve always made it without anyone’s help, and you’re going to make it now.” And most importantly, I now have a safe way to get to and from work. My poor ol’ Jetta was nothing but a ticking time bomb.

So what’s my lesson to you? Life is stressful. You can’t always plan for big changes, expenditures or losses, but you can always turn things around, choose your attitude, and find some different options. Take your time to grieve, scream, cry, freak out, and STRESS – whatever you need to do – just let yourself feel it out. And then, once you’ve allowed yourself that time, make a nice cup of chamomile tea, get your thinking cap on, and focus. Don’t let the STRESS break you down for too long. Instead let it remind you of all of the wonderful things you’re capable of, and every STRESS you’ve overcome before. Start focusing on solutions, and forget regret. Also focus on everything you have, and how much worse it could probably be. Most importantly, remember,we can never go backwards, but we can always move FORWARD.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

3 Ways I Never Gave Up

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I’ve never been a huge fan of the word NO. It just always seemed too limiting to me, and little by little, I discovered that NO is usually nothing more than an easy way out; nothing more than a test of how fast I, or anyone, will give up.

When I was younger, I remember asking my overly strict father to give me a good reason why I couldn’t go to the movies with friends. I held a job since I was 15, I was an excellent student, I was a responsible kid, and I deserved a YES. After all, I wasn’t asking to go to a rave or anything outlandish for a 16 year-old. So I’d say (in Spanish), “Give me a logical reason why I can’t go, and I will let it go. I don’t even need money to go. I make my own.” Dumbfounded, more often than not, he’d budge and say YES. Why? Because you can’t fight logic, and most of all, it’s hard to fight that kind of gumption from a teenager. It might be important to mention here that I grew up being terrified of him, so standing up for myself was an even bigger deal. I think it was the beginning of a life of fighting NO, even when I was shaking in my boots while doing it.

So how do you fight NO? It’s simple. You fight NO by never giving up, by not allowing others to define your limits for you, by showing people you really want IT (whatever that IT might be), and by demonstrating that you’re worth the YES. To illustrate my point and hopefully inspire a little NO warrior action in you, here are three ways I fought NO and never gave up (I’ll share more examples in the future). I’ve briefly discussed some of these situations here before, but I really want to take a fresh look at them through a “never give up” perspective, so here it goes.

1. When I applied for my first master’s program with the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, I was denied acceptance based on one factor. I’m a horrible standardized test taker, and I just wasn’t cutting it on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). The rest of my academic record was impeccable, but the test weighed more, and there I had it, a big ugly NO staring me in the face.

But, no ma’am. I wouldn’t stand for it. I knew I was just as capable of completing that program as other applicants with higher test scores, and I firmly believed I deserved a spot. So, I fought, and wrote a letter to the Dean that started out something like this:

Dear Dr. Treise,

They say 90 percent of life is just showing up. This is me showing up.

Then I went on to explain that my rejection seemed unfair in light of an otherwise impeccable academic record, and the fact that I was passionate about the degree I wished to obtain. I asked her not to judge me based on one day and one test, but on a lifetime of hard work and dedication instead.

So what happened? I can’t remember the timeline exactly, but I think it might have been about a week after I sent the letter that I received a phone call from Dr. Treise herself expressing her awe at my initiative and personally welcoming me into the master’s program I had originally been rejected from. I finished that degree with a 3.77 GPA, and a successfully defended Project in Lieu of Thesis despite an abysmal GRE score. I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder in my life, but I wanted it, and I did it.

Bam. NO? I don’t think so!

2. Moving to Chicago from Miami took me about three years from ideation to fruition. It seemed like everything and everyone was against me. My family did not support it, and neither did my dire financial situation. Lots of people around me told me I was crazy, and that I should accept the life I already had. Say whaaat? That is super limiting talk, and this girl just doesn’t play that.

Despite all the negativity, I’d apply to jobs, get interviews, and get close to an offer, but at the end of the day I wasn’t local, and thus came the rejections. At some point, I started sending hard copy resumes and cover letters to employers asking them for an opportunity to speak to them, and explaining that I wasn’t looking for relocation assistance (heaven knows I needed it, but I’d figure it out when the time came). I even scrapped together some money to come visit Chicago and setup appointments with employment agencies. The answer was still I’d have to move first. Then, in one of my last desperate attempts, I applied for a 10k private loan to make the move. DENIED.

Finally, the idea came to me that I had always wanted an MBA, so why not now? That would be my ticket to Chicago. So I used my tax return to start the process, take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test), apply to several schools, etc. Here again, worst standardized test taker possibly EVER, so I bombed.

I was shattered. I’d never get into an MBA program now. I cried for a few days, and then I got right back up, and began devising my next plan. I borrowed the money to re-take the test, and this time I did a little better; good enough to gain me an acceptance from one great school, even if it was on probationary status.

So I made the move, and lived off of loans, part-time work/internships and entry-level jobs until I finished the degree and got settled into a great full-time position at the right level and for a lot more than I had ever made before. Plus, I was off academic probation within one straight A quarter, and was hugely successful throughout the entire program.

NO? I won’t make it? I’m not smart enough? Errrrr. WRONG.  I still made it ya’ll.

3. Back in 2009, life was ROUGH. Nothing seemed right. I was broke, heartbroken, lost and confused. I’d worked so hard my entire life, and it just didn’t make sense to me that I was struggling so badly just to make ends meet and keep my spirits up. It was then that I slowly started to awake to how my humble upbringing, lack of parental support, and history with emotional abuse had really affected me. There were days when something as simple as grocery shopping seemed like climbing Mount Everest. I remember oceans of tears, and a feeling of hopelessness that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

But I kept chuggin’ along. I stayed focused on my escape to Chicago. I kept working through the tears, both at my day job and freelance writing at night. I scrapped money together to visit friends in other cities and take a few breathers. I pushed through the hopelessness, and I fought, because I always knew it had to get better, and there was something bigger waiting for me.

And now, if that Sonia met this Sonia, she wouldn’t even recognize her. I have taken control of my life, my surroundings and my feelings, and I’ve been on HAPPY Street for close to three years now. Of course, I have bad days. That will always be a part of life, but now I have the tools to recover faster.  Plus, I’ve learned to seek more love from myself than from any outside source, and now I’m not so vulnerable to the things I cannot control.

Sometimes I think what if I had given up then? What if I had taken all of life’s NOs and ran with them? I would never have been able to enjoy the person I’ve become, the life I’ve built, the wonderful people I’ve met, and this frequent feeling of JOY that fills my heart where a lot of sadness used to live. And there we have it folks. The moral of the story is you should never let others define your limits. Just because someone else might not have been successful in a similar endeavor, doesn’t mean that you can’t find a better way.

Do you have a fighting NO and never giving up story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it, and others can surely benefit from it as well. Come on, give it to me!! 🙂 And remember, success is not always about being the smartest person in the room. More often it’s about hard work, perseverance and heart.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

6 Ways to Self-counsel

Man, it can really be a doggie dog (dog eat dog) world out there for someone trying to stay POSITIVE. Some days it’s like trying to ward off those gremlin-looking monsters that shoot at you in video games. But I still believe you do so much better by at least trying, by smiling at evil and maintaining your cool in every situation. It’s so hard, but it’s all about that fighting spirit I’m always talking about.

Here are six self-counseling approaches I take to warding off negativity, especially on the really hectic days. And yes, it includes a lot of talking to myself which I believe, contrary to popular belief, is incredibly helpful in navigating your way through life. It all goes back to that concept of being your own #1 supporter, your own best friend. Try them sometime. I think they can help you too!

    1. “You are SONIA. This situation does not define you. These people do not define you. You are smart. You are capable, and you can do anything.”
    2. “You did your best today. Tomorrow is a new day to make it better and shine.”
    3. “You will never please everyone. Accept it!”
    4. “I am not better than anyone, but certainly, no one is better than me.”
    5. “You can’t do it all at once. One thing at a time, you will get there. Be patient with yourself.”
    6. And finally, after a bad day, I just try to go out and do something that centers me and brings me back to who I am.  I do something I’m passionate about or have a lot of fun doing.  I reach out for support, and meet up with a friend. I remove myself from the negative situation or thoughts, and get back to my happy place.

So, tell me, what do you do to center yourself after a bad day?