when the universe conspires for you

gratitude, happiness, inspiration, life, loss, Positive Thinking, quotes

PauloCoelho

Something happened this past week that has left me scrambling to find meaning behind it. I am the woman who believes that everything happens for a reason, and as much as I would love to know that reason in that very moment, it usually doesn’t show itself until some time has passed. On Monday, October 22nd, I found out that my department at work is basically being dissolved within the next 6 months. I realize that this announcement probably left some people very upset. On the surface it’s unsettling news. There are hundreds of people in this department spanning the nation, and I don’t think any of us were anticipating a decision like this. I know I wasn’t. However, my immediate reaction was not panic, or disappointment or fear, in fact it was the opposite. How strange, right?

You see I have been questioning my job for the past few months. Before I found this opportunity I was hungry for a 9-5 corporate position where I could learn, grow and achieve success. Then it sort of fell into my lap, and I was happy and content with this new path, up until recently. About 10 weeks ago I started having a quarter + some life crisis. I began to notice that I was feeling unfulfilled with my current career choice. So I began listening to podcasts featuring inspirational stories. Stories about women who quit their jobs and chased their dreams. Women who are building empires and finding success doing what they love. This was truly inspiring, but I was far too scared to try anything like that. So instead of quitting I started this blog, and began envisioning what I ultimately want for Positive Aggressive. But some days I would come home so stressed out and drained from my job that I had no desire to focus on this endeavor.

Now enter the life changing news that I received on Monday. Somehow the universe conspired to do what I couldn’t. There are still many unknown variables that are in play, there will still need to be someone from our department at the office. Only this new job description may include the removal of about 90% of the former job duties. This would relieve the stress that I feel on a day to day level. Even though I was feeling that way about my job I still loved the company and the people that I worked with. Those are characteristics that aren’t always easy to find.

This sudden information made me realize that I was taking this job for granted. It was huge wake-up call in that respect. Even though I was feeling unfulfilled and not entirely happy, I ultimately was lacking gratitude for what I had in the current moment. Just 17 days ago I noticed that I needed to work on my gratitude for the job that I had, and I began to focus on positive affirmations. I surrounded myself with this message: I clearly see all there is to be grateful for in life. I acknowledge the blessings I have received in my life with gratitude.

I put this on my phone, I wrote it on a sticky note, I kept it in my email, I repeated it over and over in my head. Within 11 days the universe decided my fate for me. Within 11 days I got the notification from corporate. How crazy is that?! It gives me chills. Although I have no idea what this next 6 months will look like, I am hopeful, excited and I am grateful for all of it.

Photo Cred: Quite Contemporary

 

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guest of the week: amanda zitzelman

brain aneurysm, friendship, gratitude, Guest Blogger, happiness, inspiration, Kindness, Positive Thinking, survivor

 

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This week’s guest blogger is a woman that I worked with last year, a woman that I admire. Her strength, courage and perseverance is inspiring. Earlier this year Amanda suffered a brain aneurysm, and she survived. Below you’ll read her encouraging words and hear her story of this life changing event. She shares her struggles but also shares what she’s done to turn this experience into a positive one. We chatted the other week for almost 2 hours and sometime in the future her and I are planning on starting a podcast! She inspires me everyday. She also started a GoFundMe page that she talks about in this post.  I’ve included the link at the end of her story. Thank you Amanda for taking the time to write this post, it means so much.

“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to write this post. I want to thank Sarah from the bottom of my heart for giving me a chance to share on her blog.

“Life is all about how you handle Plan B.” – Unknown

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post. How do I want to share my story? What details, if any, do I provide? I wrote a draft with the timeline and details of what happened. But details can be boring and it’s easy to get bogged down in them. Then I wrote a draft that had condensed details and a brief timeline. What happened and the timeline IS important but doesn’t necessarily add value to this post.

In the beginning of May my brain exploded, or in other words, a brain aneurysm ruptured. Let me frame this for you: 50% of all ruptures result in death and of those who survive 66% have some type of disability. Post-rupture I was out on FMLA. Much of my first month home was spent sleeping, napping, or just resting. A brain injury recovery can take many years and even then survivors are never quite the same.

I said it before and I will continue to say it – I am blessed. I survived and I don’t have any physical deficits. My cognitive and motor skills are in tact. Yes, I get neurofatigue. Yes, I get worn out much easier than I used to. Yes, I get headaches.

It is an odd thing to have come that close to death. One of the things I see a lot in my survivor groups are people who are grieving their old life. I sympathize with them and understand. However, my life is not wildly different than it was pre-rupture. I don’t ever say this to rub it in someone’s face about how well I am doing. I share it because I (now) know statistics were against me. But even for how well I am doing I am still a stroke survivor. I am still a ruptured brain aneurysm survivor.

One of my biggest struggles has been balancing “I’m fine” with “I went through this huge life changing event.” I never want to use it as an excuse but I don’t want to downplay what I went through. I’ve been struggling with what I refer to as survivor’s guilt. I’m so thankful things turned out so well for me but I sometimes feel bad that not everyone who survived is doing so well. I try not to get hung up on this too much because so much of it has to do with where the rupture occurred, timing, proper diagnosis, age, overall health, etc.

Time is valuable in so many ways. It can save a life in a medical emergency (such as it did in mine). It is a currency that you cannot get back. How you spend it matters. Who you spend it with matters. What you do with the time you are given matters. What is unique about time is everyone chooses to spend their time differently but time all spends the same. Once it is gone you can’t get it back.

This is something I have been thinking about a lot the past several months. I had a lot of time on my hands being out on FMLA. Some of it was spent doing schoolwork as I did not drop my last class for my master’s degree. As I mentioned a lot of time was spent sleeping, napping, and resting when I first got home. Eventually, I stopped sleeping as much but still was on restrictions so couldn’t do much. Towards the end of my FMLA I started crocheting again. I thought if I was going to be sitting around I should at least do something productive.

I started a GoFundMe to raise money so I could make blankets for brain aneurysm survivors. I have made three so far that I have given away in one of my survivor groups. This gave me something to do and give back to a group that gave me so much in the days after my rupture. It also gave me something to do with my time.

I really understood the value of my time and how I wanted to spend it. We often work to make ends meet (unless you happen to be born into a wealthy family). But we were not made or meant to work to live. There are so many more things that are much more important. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely have to work or my bills aren’t getting paid.

Pre-rupture I was working through lunches and if it was particularly busy I would be there until 6pm sometimes even 7pm. No more. I made the decision that when I went back I was not working through lunches and I would be leaving at 5pm. And I have pretty well stuck to that. There was one day when I was there until about 5:45pm and one day I worked through lunch but that is it. In both cases there was an extenuating circumstance.

Doing this has brought me less stress and even some peace. We need to find a work/life harmony. This can be difficult but it is vital. It is in our non-work life activities that we do things we enjoy and love. These are the things that bring us joy and help us to weather the stresses of our work life. Our time here is incredibly short. This gift of life can be taken from us at any moment.

Find joy in the little things. Find peace in the quiet moments of your day. When we do this we start to find our mind shifting. It doesn’t mean that life becomes perfect but we start to attract the good things. Positive thoughts become the norm. It is easier to find the good in a situation that is otherwise difficult.

Whatever we fill our minds with will spill out in the forms of our emotions and actions. If a mind is filled with negativity or hate it will spill out. On the flipside a mind filled with love and positivity it will spill out.

Life will never be perfect. Might as well buckle in and enjoy the ride with all it’s twists and turns.”

Blankets 4 Brain Aneurysm Survivors

 

 

friendship: tangled roots

friendship, gratitude, happiness, Love, Positive Thinking, relationships

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This past weekend three of my closest friends and I had the honor of being bridesmaids at our best friend’s wedding. When I think about life and relationships, I feel lucky to have these women by my side after all these years. The bride is one of my oldest friends, we grew up around the corner from each other. If I try to think back to when we first met, I truly can’t remember a time in my life that she wasn’t there.

I’ve had many “best friends” over the years. I used to search for myself in others, this sort of behavior started at an early age. I bonded with girls that I thought I wanted to be. I would go along with everything they did, and I rarely voiced my own thoughts or opinions, just to be accepted. This would become a pattern throughout my young life.

The universe did however, sprinkle some special people in along the way. Friendships where I didn’t feel the need to behave that way. These women always accepted me for who I was and the mask would come off when I was in their presence. What a comforting, peaceful, feeling. I didn’t need to pretend anymore. I am happy to say that I’m still incredibly close with these very same women. These relationships span some 15+ years.

There are 6 of us in this particular group and we’ve all managed to keep our bond going strong. We each have separate lives with friends separate from our group, but that doesn’t change anything. Two of us moved away and yet we’ve never strayed from each other. There are definitely periods of distance and we’ve grown apart some, but at the center of each of our hearts we hold this friendship dear. That is why I picked the image for this post. We are tangled. We grew side by side for many years, we were there for each other when things were the messiest. I am thrilled to see these ladies with their lives [mostly] figured out (because I mean c’mon who really ever has it all figured out?). We’re all building our lives up, the mess is behind us. We can all sit back and watch each other grow and flourish. And if things ever get messy again we’ll be there for one another.

Something amazing happened at the wedding. Our group was originally 7, but she had moved during the earlier part of high school and her and I lost touch. She was at the wedding. The bride brought the original group back together again. It’s been 16 years, I think, my memory is a bit foggy, but roughly 16 years since I’ve seen this person. Her and I were very close for a period of time and wouldn’t you know that nothing has changed in that absence. The first few moments may have been a little awkward, but once the initial shock wore off, we picked right back up where we left off all those years ago.

That’s the magical thing about true friendships. They know no distance, or boundaries of time. I have several of these relationships today, even outside of our group, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the universe for putting each and every special individual in my life. If we haven’t talked lately, or even if we have, know that I love you very much and I am forever thankful that you are in my life.

 

being okay, with being okay.

gratitude, happiness, higher power, podcasts, Positive Thinking, quotes

girlfield

“The happiest of people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything they have.”

BOOM. This powerful phrase just knocked me on my ass. I was driving home and I saw it on the church marquee near my house. I don’t practice any set religion but I have a higher power, a God of my understanding and he/she/it likes to slap profound messages in my face. And I love it. Considering I just had a major discussion with my significant other on this topic two days ago, I don’t think this marquee message is purely coincidence.

I have really been struggling lately with my happiness. For someone who believes that happiness is a choice, you might think that I would or should be happy all of the time. Or that it might be easy for me to change my feelings around and instantly be happy. I know I think that. Maybe that’s my problem. I beat myself up when I am anything but happy. The truth of the matter is that I need to be okay, with being okay. That’s hard for me. I am such an all or nothing person, so even keel doesn’t make much sense to me. At the end of the day if I’m not happy, I’m sad. But I’m not even really sad. I know deep sadness, and this isn’t it. So what am I? I’m just okay. I’m going through the motions. For some reason that is not okay with me.

Some people say to practice gratitude when you feel the way I’m feeling. It’s not that I am ungrateful. I have gratitude every single day when I open my eyes. I should not be alive. But I am. I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, fur babies that I adore, my sobriety, an amazing relationship that I’ve waited 13 years for, a hot shower every morning, food to eat, a bed to sleep in, a job to provide me with income, a car to get me to that job, best friends from home, best friends from this new city, best friends in different parts of the country and the world, family members that are there for me no matter what, and the list goes on.

If I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t felt much fulfillment lately. I’m happiest when I’m creating and helping others. Every few years my creativity comes bursting out of me, and I let it out briefly, then I stuff it back inside, and resume my daily routine. I’ve recently started listening to podcasts created by these extremely talented and fierce women. They talk about pursuing their dreams, and going after what makes them happy but also making a living out of these dreams. It really is awe inspiring to listen to their stories. However, this yearning for what they have and not being there yet myself, I believe, is the contributing factor to my not being okay with being okay. Truth is, none of these stories start out with instant success. There is typically a struggle. Always some barrier to over come. Without the struggle how can we appreciate success? They all started somewhere. This is my starting point.

New mantra: I embrace the beginning, I’m okay with where I’m at. I also have a new goal towards leading a more positive life: being okay, with being okay. What’s one of your goals that you’re working on?

guest of the week

gratitude, Guest Blogger, Kindness, Love, Positive Thinking

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I went to my dear friend Annie with an idea for a blog. This idea. Positive Aggressive. She was 110% on-board and supported and cheered me on. I went to her because I value her opinion and I knew that she would give me honest feedback. Not only did she give me that, but she gave me an amazing idea. Guest bloggers. I am the type of person that is interested in anyone’s story. I love to hear about people’s lives, it fascinates me. Yesterday at work I practically hounded this woman who was born and raised in Fiji to tell me about her experience and her family. It was quite incredible. So naturally I approached Annie to be my first guest writer and I couldn’t have chosen better. She is a talented writer and a passionate human being. I loved reading what she had to share and I know you will too! And no, I did not pay her to say these kind things about me. Annie really is the kind of soul that sees the best in everybody and has a huge, loving heart.

Hi y’all!

I’m Annie, a dreamer/doer/lover of all things broken and beautiful. When my sweet friend Sarah asked me to contribute something to her new (and fabulous, if I do say so myself) blog I was honored. I wasn’t sure what I’d write about, so I thought I’d leave it up to the power of prayer and meditation.

I had a crazy work week, which is a constant and re-occurring theme in my life. So,on this lovely fall Saturday, my plan includes a guilt-free relaxing morning on the couch (with no bra or pants on, mind you) with edible cookie dough and season five of Grey’s Anatomy. And in the middle of a Christina and Meredith dance off moment,my “prayer and meditation” paid off: I had my topic.

I thought I’d write about friends: beautiful, loving, compassionate, soul connecting friends and the gratitude I feel when I speak their names. The friends that give you warm and fuzzy feelings when they cross your mind, even after days, months or years since you’ve seen or spoken to them last. Thoughts of my sweet friend Sarah have those effects on me. I knew from the moment I met her that I’d met a woman who would serve a greater purpose in my life. Sarah and I share a pain that only some young adults feel: the pain of losing a parent too young. It’s the club that no one wants to be in, but once you’re in you feel thankful to be among like-minded company. There is large, gaping hole in my soul that aches when I have thoughts of the sweet father who passed six years ago, this part of my soul understands the part of Sarah’s soul that aches, too. We exchange empathy for one another in such a way that God’s fingerprints can only explain. We have a common bond, a connection that only those who have similar experiences can understand. I wonder if you get it, too? I’m sorry if you, as our reader, are a member of our club. But if you are, please know you are not alone and your pain is our pain, too.

Throughout my life, I have been given the privilege to live and love in many different parts of our country. I can list off hundreds of humans that I’ve crossed paths with that have left footprints on my soul. Let me tell you about a few: There’s Amber, we met in Florida in 2009. She is “my person.” I haven’t actually spoken to her in about six months. But, every time our busy lives allow for us to connect, we re-ignite our flame. She’s a wife, a mom of two and a friend who lives by spiritual principles, connecting to other women around her, changing lives. We are both in the business of passionately serving God’s kids. When we first met, at particularly low spots in our own lives, our internal desperation allowed for us to form a bond that holds tight through the years and the miles between us. She’s also apart of the club, another side that reflects our level connectivity. I am eternally grateful that the powers of our universe brought us together almost ten years ago. Amber and I pick up exactly where we left off. She is one of my soul sisters.

And Brent in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he regularly posts to social media about his father who suffers from the end stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I met Brent at random while attending a philanthropic gathering in August of 2015. When he and I hug, we embrace each other with one of those super tight and meaningful hugs; the good inside of me always has the ability to recognize the good inside of him. We formed an unbreakable bond in our first exchange and I am grateful to the Gods for his presence in my life. Now, when I read his words, I physically feel the love in my heart and the admiration I have for him. I often pray that his pain is softened and I believe that some days he can hear my prayers. I believe that when I speak Brent’s name, God nudges him and he smiles for a reason he may not be able to explain. I wonder sometimes how two people can be so connected internally but yet exist so far apart physically.

And my timeless firecracker, Emma. Emma is my BFF. We met in ninth grade where we fought over a boy in Mr. Langan’s first period history class. Out of all of the people I’ve met in my life, Emma is one that I know I’ll never get rid of. They say if you have a friendship that lasts more than twenty years, it’s likely to remain. I find peace knowing that I get to have Emma until the end of time. Her friendship is like coming home, it’s familiar and comfortable and natural. And, although she lives in Las Vegas and we only see each other once a year, we talk almost every day and she consistently proves to me that she knows me better than I know myself. I suppose that’s what two decades of love and tolerance can do to two people. She’s a mom to two beautiful children, a girlfriend to an amazing man, a daughter, a sister and a Green Bay Packers fan. My confidante. NHFL. Do you have a friend who means so much to you, in such a unique way that there aren’t really words to describe your feelings? That’s how I feel about my Emma.

I hope you find solace in reading about my friends. My people. My loves. And, I hope you find yourself thinking of yours, too. I hope you appreciate the people who bring joy to your life. I hope you feel gratitude in your heart for your people. To shift gears slightly, I want to mention how heavily of a believer I am in the power behind gratitude in action. Gratitude, just like love, should not only be felt but also enacted. Both words, when used correctly, can turn into beautiful actions. When I think of someone I love, or someone who’s presence in my life has meaning, I tell them. There have been many times over the months that I haven’t seen my friend Sarah that I randomly message her to let her know her worth in my life.

My suggestion to you is this: tell people you love them. It is impossible to overuse the words “I love you.” If you feel it, say it! My life has changed with every smile I’ve encountered, every hug I’ve felt and with every exchange of the language of our hearts. Pick up your phone, send the message. Dial the number you’ve been meaning to dial. Meet people, embrace your experiences and exchange love. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Fall in love with people. Find similarities instead of differences. Everything you do, do it with love.

Let Love Rule.

Annie, xo

driving through the weeds.

flowers, gratitude, Love, Positive Thinking

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This past weekend did not start out great. I won’t bore you with the major details but my boyfriend and I were heading out of town. Keith was chosen to be the best man at his best friend Brian’s wedding. I’ve grown to love Brian over these few years and his new bride Jess. They are perfect for each other. They were both there at the beginning of my journey with Keith, and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that positivity does not always come naturally to me. In fact, Friday was a day where my positive attitude was nowhere to be found. Nothing went our way early on and it was very upsetting. The morning started out with Keith leaning on me for support and me crying half way through the day leaning on him for support.

Expectations. They do it to me every single time. Just when I think I have the upper hand and I’m finally over expectations, WHAM! Life hands me another lesson. A lesson that teaches me that I am not done having unrealistic expectations. That I am only human and alas I must continue to learn. When you’re “in it” it’s hard to see the big picture, it’s hard to see past the eye of the storm.

It’s when you’ve made it through, that the magic really happens. The self reflection. On our 4 hour road trip, about half way, I blurted out to Keith “Yes today sucked, and nothing went our way, but Brian and Jess are getting married.” He said “You’re right”. In that moment we both understood the bigger picture. We were on our way to witness a sacred ceremony between two people who love each other. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic, and that is how I view a wedding. At the end of the day it really didn’t matter what went wrong.

We had a great night at the rehearsal dinner catching up with old friends, laughing until our sides hurt. The ceremony was stunning, I teared up as soon as I saw Jess walk out, she was breathtaking. The way Brian looked at her as she walked down the aisle was magical. The speeches were perfect, the music was on point and the food was tasty. Conversation was good and the dancing was much needed. It was a night to remember.

The drive home left room for more self reflection, I started to focus on gratitude. I thought about Friday before we left on our trip. I thought about my vulnerability and how grateful I am to be in a relationship where I can show that side of myself. I felt grateful that the shoe can be on the other foot and that Keith can be vulnerable with me. This wasn’t always the case for either of us in our previous relationships.

While thinking, and driving, I began to notice these yellow plants all over the side of the Pennsylvania highway. I couldn’t tell if they were flowers or weeds. I wondered how many people driving by thought the same thing. Did the majority of people think they were weeds and dismiss their beauty? I did, for a brief moment. Then the sun came out.

There’s something majestic about the sun breaking through the clouds. It lit up these beautiful plants and it made me realize just how much of our lives we think are weeds. For instance, when something doesn’t go the way we want it to. However, it’s when you stop and think about a situation or begin to see things differently, once you start to embrace and learn more about yourself, then you can see the flowers.

goat yoga and gratitude

gratitude, Yoga

GoatYogaEver since I heard the term “goat yoga” I was sold. The thought of hanging out with goats while practicing yoga was enticing. At a fitness class earlier this week someone mentioned they were going to attend a goat yoga class over the weekend. I immediately asked for the details.

Saturday came around and I almost didn’t go. It was chilly and rainy out and part of me just wanted to sit on the couch watching Fixer Upper while drinking coffee. Then my inner voice said “Sarah you’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, get your butt up and go!”. Sometimes I have to be my own cheerleader. I love being lazy! But that’s what Sundays are for right?? So I got ready, then my boyfriend and I headed out the door to Returning Home Farm in Verona, PA.

Since it was raining out the class was inside a barn, added plus. Space was tight but we didn’t mind. I knew right off the bat that I wouldn’t be doing much yoga in this class. I’m pretty sure I have A.D.D and I love animals, so my concentration went out the window as soon as the goats came in. I even asked the teacher before class if it was okay to just hang with the goats and not focus so much on the yoga.

I loved the teacher, she was easy going and fun and offered different options of class participation. She made suggestions on how to concentrate while the goats pranced around, she also mentioned that she wouldn’t be offended if you just spent time with the goats. This was my kind of teacher. I’m not the kind of student who enjoys being told what to do. I like my freedom and respect suggestion. So her approach was appreciated.

The teacher also introduced a theme to the class, since we are entering fall the theme was: Light to Dark. She talked a lot about dealing with dark emotions. Embracing the darkness but also trying to find the light. I was so excited for this topic because to me that is what this blog embodies. Positive Aggressive is about my journey to living my best positive life. Yes I have negative emotions, no I am not ashamed of that. I embrace my negative emotions, I acknowledge that they are a part of me. This allows me to work on turning them around.

She also shared a quote during shavasna about a woman who lost everything and had the ability to find gratitude. I haven’t been able to find the quote online but when I do, I’ll share it. I just remember the way the quote made me feel. It reinforced the power of gratitude. I need always be reminded to be grateful. When I focus on what I don’t have my gratitude falls by the wayside. Something as simple as being grateful to be alive is a game changer. On days when I say that out loud to the universe my attitude seems to change drastically. The simple truth is that we’re all fortunate to be here, to be given this life. So I am on this journey to make the most of it, won’t you join me?