Four Ways to Handle This COVID Thing Without Losing Your Mind

Do you feel like you’ve lost control of your life or wonder why you have a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings, lately? Or, do you feel like you are going to lose your mind during this COVID-19 pandemic?

I sure have! I was not, at all, expecting this worldwide illness, and it caught me completely off guard.

If you have lost your job due to this latest coronavirus and had to stay home with or without anyone else, you must have felt off balance and wondering what the hell is happening or when all of this will end.

You are not alone.

I discovered it is normal to feel discombobulated, angry, sad, or even depressed. What has happened to the world is very traumatic. And trauma requires healing, and healing takes time – sometimes lots of it.

You might be one of the lucky people who did not lose their job and is able to work from home, you might be retired, or a stay-at-home mother who was not affected too much by the pandemic. You might be a person who is a first responder on the front lines (I have the utmost respect for you!). Or, you might be someone, like me, who lost their career and now has to “redo” herself. Wherever you are during this pandemic and whatever you are experiencing, know that it is normal to feel confused, afraid, and bewildered.

I actually had quit my corporate job to become a full time copywriter and content writer ONE WEEK before the virus was designated very contagious. I was planning on taking some time off to recoup from my very stressful former job and then work on building my business. I did not expect a pandemic, the world shutting down, and my partner losing his job. None of that was part of the plan.

But, life happens. Yes, it does.

My plan was to move on from my former job and career quickly (that did not happen – I had to rest and heal and get back on a schedule and lifestyle that supported my wellness physically, mentally, and emotionally, and that took much longer than anticipated). I was going to start my business in March (um, no, didn’t happen either). I was planning on living a great life that suited me until retirement, but then COVID happened.

Ugh. Can you relate to any of this?

Since end of February, I have been ill twice, had to have a root canal, threw out my back, which put me out for three weeks in Apr (the pain was awful), and watched my savings fly out the window month after month (it is still flying high). Life doesn’t always go as planned, does it? Sometimes, no matter what you do or how impeccable you think your plans are, life happens and throws you for a loop. It happens to all of us, sooner or later.

In addition to all of this, I have not been able to write. Until recently, my mind has been in some state of “foggy disillusionment,” for lack of better words. What kind of business was I going to have if I couldn’t write, when writing is THE BUSINESS? Yikes. I was not in a good place.

But, I finally snapped out of my funk.

To be honest, I am not sure exactly how I did it. Nothing big happened. I think I finally realized that the world is experiencing something unprecedented and decided to be kind to myself and lower my expectations. Once I did that, I learned the next four lessons that stopped me from feeling like I was losing my mind:   

  • I acknowledged that it is normal to feel confused and angry. You can too. What is now happening to the world is shocking. It is unexpected, hit us like a brick really, and no one knows when it will all end, or if we are ever going back to “normal.” The ramifications of this on the human psyche is nothing less than traumatic. One of the definitions of the word trauma is “an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.” So, it is normal to feel shocked, fearful, and like you are losing control of your life. It takes time to heal from trauma.

The solution is to be gentle with yourself. Know that you are not alone. Know that so many other people are feeling what you are feeling. Know that this too shall pass, and that life will get back to normal. It is okay to feel your emotions: feel your anger or your sadness, but don’t stay in that space for long. Feel it, talk about it with someone, scream if you have to, and then move on.

  • I established a new routine and stuck with it. You can too. I can’t tell you how much this has helped me! Whatever your routine was prior to the pandemic, most likely it does not exist anymore. The human body and mind works best with a routine for physical, emotional, and mental wellness. A lack of routine is a recipe for disaster.

The solution is to establish a routine during these troubling times: get up at the same time every morning, eat well and exercise, set time aside to do what you do, whether work or something else you love, and go to bed at the same time every night. A routine will help you to cope with the uncertainty in this world right now. This lesson alone helped me tremendously.

  • I decided to do something that I love to do every day. You can too. This may seem obvious, but when human beings are thrown off balance, we don’t always realize that doing what we love will bring about momentum and get us out of our self-imposed funk.  You have been given a throat punch from COVID-19. Punch it back.

The solution is to be good to yourself by doing something creative that you love or learn something new. I have reorganized my craft room, and am now in the process of reorganizing my garage (both were a horrific mess). The reorganization gave my brain a time out from worry, fear, and confusion, and helped get my creative mind working again, so I could write again and plan a new career. Being creative always helps heal your mind from trauma. Punch back COVID-19 by being good to yourself, even if it is only for a half hour per day. Just start and don’t wait until you are motivated. The motivation will appear after you begin.

  • I chose to reach out to other people. You can too. This one is obvious to extroverts, so I am writing to the introverts here. If you are introverted like I am, reaching out to others might be the last thought you have during this worldwide crisis. I empathize. But, even the most introverted person needs human companionship, once in a while.  
  • The solution is to communicate with at least one other person every day. It does not matter what method of communication you use: phone, IM, chat, email, Skype or Zoom, or in person (safely). What matters is reaching out to someone else who is also going through the same feelings, thoughts, worry, stress, or sadness. It will help you handle this unexpected life of isolation better, give you hope, and remind you that you are not alone. If you live alone, especially, it is vital to reach out.

We are all in this together. Despite all the layoffs and furloughs, massive unemployment, fear, sadness, discouragement, uncertainty, and anxiety, you are still able to have some control over your life. You get to choose how you will take care of your mind, body, and emotions through these unpredictable times. You get to choose whether to live in disappointment or to live in acceptance and creativity during COVID-19.

Here’s to taking good care of yourself and to hoping for a better, new normal in the near future.  

The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly by Franziska Iseli, A Review

Unique and inspiring, The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly by Franziska Iseli demonstrates how to live your best life by stepping out in courage despite the fear you may face.  

Most people stay locked in their fear. How many times have you not pursued your passions because you were afraid? How many times have you told yourself that you “can’t do it,” or how many times have you given up because things got too difficult or because you were afraid?

I sure have!

Franziska, in The Courage Map, gives us a guide on how to change the habit of fear, to live boldly, and do the great things we aspire to do.

The thirteen principles in Iseli’s book are very helpful and will inspire you to live a passionate and fearless life. Each chapter explains how to overcome obstacles that hinder our dreams, our desires, and our goals. An adventurer and world traveler, Iseli beautifully weaves her travel stories from her motorcycle trip on the Silk Highway from Switzerland to Kazakhstan into this book, explaining how she overcame her fears by taking needed courageous steps. She recaps the lessons and beautiful, unforgettable moments that came from those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

This book was a pleasure to read. As a lover of traveling myself, some of her amazing stories brought tears to my eyes, not only because I could imagine myself experiencing what she wrote about (I have always wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle and travel around the country but did not due to … wait for it… lack of courage), but also because I resonated with the interpretation of her travel experiences and how her courage brought about a richer, more fulfilling adventure. Franziska also includes suggested intentions, exercises, and questions at the end of each chapter for further contemplation and self-improvement.

I recommend The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly by Franziska Iseli to anyone seeking to learn how to live with courage and live in the present moment, or to those seeking self-improvement, a passionate life, mindful living, or more joy in their lives. This reading would also be exceptional for those interested in psychology and human behavior.

A bit about the author, Franziska Iseli:

Franziska Iseli is a visionary and eternal optimist. No challenge seems to be too big for her, it seems. She is known for her rebellious nature and doing things differently. She has this rare combination of being both creative and strategic, which makes her a powerful leader in the business world as entrepreneur and co-founder of several companies: Basic BananasOceanLoversMoments of Humanity, and The Business Hood.

In addition to The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly, Franziska Iseli is the author of Perception: Take charge of how others view your brand, Become Irresistible and Make a Bigger Impact, and Bananas About Marketing: How to Attract a Whole Bunch of Customers. 

In her spare time, Franziska loves going on mad adventures, surfing the ocean’s waves, motorcycling around the world, playing music with her band Salty Lips, learning, writing, meaningful discussions, and spending time with family and friends.

To learn more about Franziska Iseli, visit: FranziskaIseli.com.

To purchase a copy of The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly, visit Amazon.

Thinking about publishing your book? Visit TCKpublishing.com.

December Book Review: I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life by Marissa Peer

A quick, easy but profound read, I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life by Marissa Peer is a book for those who are willing to heal from their childhood emotional wounds and want a simple, very effective solution with dramatic change. Marissa’s book will help you realize what is holding you back from living the life you truly want and deserve.

Sound cheesy? Well, it’s actually not.

Let me tell you I used to be very insecure. I grew up in an emotionally abusive household and was constantly told I was never enough explicitly and implicitly: no matter what I did, it was not good enough or wrong. I was made to feel that my very existence was shameful. A childhood like this is incredibly damaging on so many levels. It takes years, decades, and sometimes a lifetime to change these beliefs and reverse the damage from this type of abuse (and it took me decades to heal). Learning how to accept and love myself, to love others, and to love my life is to thrive, and this is what Marissa’s book taught me. It can do the same for you!

Marissa demonstrates, step by step, how to heal from the emotional damage you might have experienced by changing your thinking to create happiness, better handle anxiety, and feel a million times better. She demonstrates how our thoughts can be destructive habits and to change them is to create a more joyful life, and more. What I love most about this book and Marissa’s approach is that she gets right to the bottom line: you believe you are NOT ENOUGH.

If you are addicted to alcohol or porn, if you have issues with self-image, if you eat for emotional reasons, or end up in harmful relationships, etc., you basically believe there is something wrong with you (consciously or unconsciously), or that you are not enough. Through decades of research and experience, Peer has determined that the common thread to additions or damaging behavior is the belief that we are “not enough.” She offers the solution to misery, and it is easier than you think it is.

I recommend I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life by Marissa Peer to anyone who has been abused, those who struggle with low self-esteem or self-hate, and those who are ready to become healthy and happy. Honestly, you can read this in one or two hours and do the exercises she recommends, and it will improve your life!

A bit about the author, Marissa Peer:

Marissa Peer is a motivational speaker, psychologist, and hypnotherapist. She started her career as a child psychologist, and after decades of counseling clients realized there was a faster, more efficient way to heal her clients’ emotional wounds, so she developed her own pioneering hypnotic therapy. In addition, Marissa is a national magazine columnist and has appeared on major media outlets and television shows including GMTV, Lorraine Kelly, This Morning, Sky News, ITV News, BBC News, Channel 4 News, BBC Radio, Supersize Versus Superskinny, Celebrity Fit Club, Celebrity Big Brother, and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. She has appeared on countless news channels in America, Scandinavia, Japan, Africa, and throughout Europe.

A best-selling author of five books including I am Enough, Marissa lives in Britain and improves people’s lives worldwide.

To learn more about Marissa Peer or to purchase a copy of I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life, visit: MarissaPeer.com.

November Book Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Truly fascinating and unique, Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, is a detailed, engaging summary of the history of human beings.

Harari demonstrates how humans are the only species willing and able to believe what only exists in the imagination such as money, human rights, religion, and states. He brilliantly weaves the history of humans as far back as the Stone Age to modern day with the goal of discovering who we are and why we do what we do.

What fascinated me the most about Sapiens was the author’s viewpoint on the processes throughout history that shaped and influenced human thought: the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, the creation of money, philosophical inquiry, the birth of science and the scientific revolution, capitalism and the industrial revolution, the creation of boundaries and states, the information age, genetic engineering, and more recently, artificial intelligence. Yuval also mentions how modern animal agriculture is one of the worst atrocities humans commit. His book bridges the gaps between biology, economics, history, and philosophy. It is a stunning read.

The culmination of Harari’s, Sapiens, is the conclusion regarding the upcoming artificial intelligence age. Harari argues that humans have not evolved and concludes that robots (or AI) will eventually eliminate most jobs, and that the rich will eventually be able to re-engineer bodies and minds. His book shows that humans pride themselves on their high intelligence, however most of us are not happier for it. I hate to state the obvious, but this reading provokes deep thought and emotions, and book clubs should definitely add this book to their reading list. Sapiens was received well by the general public but some scholars have criticized Harari’s assertions and conclusions.

I highly recommend Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari to those interested in a deeper examination of who we are as human beings. The book covers the relationship we have with science, religion, ecology, money, politics, our happiness, and our future. For students of world history, Sapiens is a must read!

A bit about the author, Yuval Noah Harari:download harariProfessor Yuval Noah Harari is a historian, philosopher, and bestselling author. Born in Haifa, Israel, in 1976, Harari received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 2002 and currently lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of History. He has written another book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, after writing Sapiens, and also authored 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. His books have sold millions of copies worldwide.

To learn more about Yuval Harari or to purchase Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, visit ynharari.com. 

Forget Your New Year’s Resolutions: Do This Instead

The new year is here (or almost here depending on where you are in the world), and you are feeling apathetic about creating goals for 2020. Or, you are sick of people asking what your goals are. Or worse, you are tired of setting up goals for the coming year and failing to achieve them (Sometimes giving up during the first week of the year!). Nothing could feel worse than this.

I have been there and emphasize.

“What are your goals for 2020?” “Did you create a list of New Year’s resolutions?” “Are you going to the gym on Jan 1st to start the new year with a bang?” Oh stop already! Shut up already, right?

Blah, blah, blah…

Here’s the hard truth: goals give us direction and purpose but they do not always make us happy. Read that again: goals give us direction and purpose but they do not always make us happy. So, then what?

Throughout my various decades of living with lots of trial and error including elation, misery, and everything in between, I have learned that without intent, goals do not make us happy, they do not ultimately satisfy, they do not bring joy, and we feel flat and discouraged.

What is Intent

According to dictionary.com, the word intent is defined as “the state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions towards a specific object.” Intent is also defined as “meaning or significance.” The origin of this word, intent, was first recorded in Middle English (1175–1225). It is from Late Latin intentus “an aim or purpose,” and from Latin intentus “a stretching out.” Intending is directing your mind towards a path that gives your life meaning. It is the mindset that comes before setting your goals. An intent can be used for a life goal, a goal for the day, the week, the month, or the coming year. For the purposes of this blog, I will explain how to create an intent for the new year.

Why an Intent

We all seek and want to have meaning in our lives, but sometimes we fall short. Have you ever set a goal and not accomplished it? Or when was the last time you gave up on your goals when things got tough and then beat yourself up later? We have all been there. I believe that when we give up on our goals, it is because we did not set a personal intent. Our intent is the first step in accomplishing what we want.

If we ponder what the deeper meaning is behind what we do, we will survive the challenges that life throws at us. When things become difficult and we are tempted to quit, we will muster up our resilience and do whatever we need to do to make it happen. If we set an intention for the year, for example, we will not give up because we know the meaning behind the action. We will not give up because we know that every small thing we need to do to reach our goals contributes to a higher purpose.

How to Form an Intent

Consider what you believe, what you stand for, what you love, what you value, what you appreciate, what you see in the world that you think needs to improve, what you despise, or what makes you come alive to set your intent. Ponder, meditate, or journal about it. Does anything stand out to you? For example, my intent for 2020 and the coming decade is to inspire authentic transformation in others for a more compassionate world. This is my intention, my BIG picture and the reason why I get out of bed in the morning. Our world is very troubled, and I believe, together, we can improve it. So, based on my personal intent, my main goal for 2020 is to grow my business to a full-time status so I can inspire and teach on a bigger level. Make sense?

How to Take Action on an Intent

Taking action on an intent is where our goals come in. Yes, I mentioned the G word, “goals.” Here is a short process on how to achieve your dreams based on your intent. Remember that an intent precedes your goals: it is what gets you up in the morning and dictates what you will do each day.

  1. Decide what your intent is. Write it down and put it somewhere where you can see it every day: add it to your cell phone, iPad, laptop, mirror, wall, journal, or anywhere you will see it. Let it be an encouraging reminder for you daily!
  2. Ponder how you want to achieve that intent. This might take some time, so be patient with yourself, and give yourself time to truly consider it. What are your strengths, what do you love to do, what would you love to learn, or what do enjoy doing that you would do without getting paid? What could you do that would best make your intent a reality? You might go back to school, start a business, become a long distance runner, open a community center, become a philanthropist, start a Meetup, etc. The list is endless but specific for you.
  3. Decide how you will make your goals a reality. This is, in my opinion, the most challenging part. Brainstorm some main things that need to happen for you to accomplish your goals WITH your intent in mind. It is important to focus on your intent, so you are excited when writing down the major steps needed to accomplish your dreams. For example, if you want to start a dog-walking business in 2020, I would list something like this: decide on a name for the company, create a website, research established dog walkers and how they do business, learn how to run a business, etc. Depending on your level of experience or knowledge, these are major projects that will require some time to accomplish. Once you have these written down, you can proceed to step four.
  4. Break down your main goals into smaller tasks that you can accomplish daily. You could even just do ONE task a day, and you will get closer to reaching your ultimate goal. For example, to start the dog walking business, you could list what needs to be done to research other dog walking businesses: do a google search, visit your local Chamber of Commerce, ask your local community center if they know anyone in the business, read blogs or articles about the dog walking business. You get the picture! Every task will bring you closer to your goals. What is important is knowing that every task contributes to deeper meaning in your life (your intent).
  5. Do not give up when things become tough. Notice I said “when” and not “if.” You will experience resistance of some sort (we all do) because you are growing, and with growth comes some difficulty. Remember your intent for your week, month, year, or even decade and you will have the strength to proceed despite some obstacles. Some goals might take longer than you anticipated, and this is okay. It happens. If you have a clear intent, you will eventually succeed. Go for it!

Resolutions, especially for the upcoming year, usually fall by the wayside. Intent is a state of mind that directs your actions towards a specific object, to a specific dream life, if you wish. Learn to create intent, follow that intent with specific goals, and be mindful of your intent every day. If you do, you will accomplish great things. Your life will matter. Your life will shine.

Happy 2020 and the years beyond.

Happy Holidays to My Readers

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” – Virginia Woolf

As a thinker and writer, I appreciate you, my readers, IMMENSELY.

A writer must write; a writer is a creator full of more ideas than they can express. A writer is an artist with words. We ponder, wonder, draft, organize, re-organize, agonize, rewrite, express, and criticize our writing more than you can imagine.

We read a lot.

We think a lot.

We love life and written communication. We love to learn. We live to ask, “What if?”

We want to be read and heard. We want the people in our lives to understand that writing is something we need to do. It is us.

Writers write to express who they are, to discover who they want to become, to change the world, to tell their story, to persuade, to convince, to examine, to entertain, to emote, to share, and just because. Because they must.

Thank you for reading my musings. My hope is that they have inspired you to think beyond what is familiar.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,

Vilma

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