Depression – Breaking The Silence

3.27.15In life we experience great moments and happiness. Accomplishments that enable us to feel as though we are on top of the world. But we also experience tragedies and disappointments.

Life can equate to riding a roller coaster as we all ride roller coasters differently. Some scream, some put their hands in the air, and others sit emotionless. Regardless of how we ride, we all experience the roller coaster going up and down, twisting and turning. High speed drops that truly defy whether we can stand the challenges at any given moment. And when we are finally able to catch our breath, we become filled with overwhelming emotions.

It has been said that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise again. But hitting rock bottom can flirt with depression, which is entirely a new ballgame. It’s dark. It’s cold. There is an imbalance. When you are depressed, there doesn’t appear to be a higher ground or an end in sight. Some may consider themselves depressed while others are clinically diagnosed. Regardless of the how factor, depression is real. It’s not always visible and it’s not widely spoken about.

I’ve known individuals who have taken their own lives because they believed their pain was too great. I’ve read about celebrities doing the same, not comprehending how they possibility could be hurting given their fame and wealth. So many questions with unknown answers.

The emotional pain may be too great to mend quickly. But, with the right support, anything is possible. There are resources available to assist those in need how to overcome depression and ultimately lead to better lives.

Together, we can help those affected directly or indirectly by depression. Pass along our strength. Provide opportunities that were available previously. Teach how to rise up after each time they get knocked down. Show them all that life has to offer so they can enjoy many more great moments and happiness down the road. While there may be setbacks along the way, together we can make a difference.

Speak up if you or someone you know is depressed. As painful as it may be to watch or listen, we must help them fight their battles. No one is here to judge. No one has to go through depression alone.

Break the silence and “keep those feet moving.”

How to Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance

3.20.15We work. We work. And we work. Seldom do we have enough time for ourselves. All the constant work related pressures, it’s no wonder why we feel run down, short of patience, and ultimately sacrifice our health.

With so much emphasis on our careers, we lose sight of our own personal needs. Yet alone, feel guilty for taking a few moments to ourselves each day. In turn, with all that pressure and stress we endure, our immune systems weaken, which could potentially lead to serious illnesses. Rather than decompressing after our day, we log back onto our computers and work for another few hours. Why? Are we that over capacity at work that there is a need to bring work home? Are we afraid that we will lose our jobs if we can’t prove we can increase our capacity? Or are we simply trying to get recognized for our efforts with a promotion?

At what costs do we compensate our work/life balance? Which has a greater emphasis, financial or health?  For some, the answer is quite simple, but for others, there’s a reason why there needs to be a work/life balance structure.

Despite my strong work ethics, I’ll admit, those extra hours worked at night, increased workload capacity never translated to a promotion or greater financial gains. Nor did it lead to better job stability as I still found myself unemployed at times. It was only recently that I learned the true value of a work/life balance. Secrets that I wished I’d known previously. Perhaps it may or may not change where I am in my career per se, however, it would have afforded me greater opportunities to take advantage of time I had available, but chose to work instead.

Enclosed are 5 ways to maintain a healthy work/life balance that are far too often overlooked.

1) Use your vacation days, it’s call sanity.
2) Exercise, no matter how tired or over capacity you are, make time available. A good workout releases tension, which is necessary.
3) Prioritize your own downtime of at least one hour per day, it’s called relaxation.
4) Nothing is more important that spending time with your family, children. Learn to take full advantage of it.
5) Sleep, nothing good follows on a short night’s rest. Medical facts can support this.

Maintaining a work/life balance is challenging. But balancing your work/life will enable you to better structure your time with your family, friends, and ultimately yourself. As for your health, it will thank you for it later on.

Prioritize your work/life balance and “keep those feet moving.”

How to Cope with Loss – An Alternative Perspective

03.13.15Words can never truly describe our thoughts upon losing a loved one. Whether directly or indirectly, these losses have a profound effect on our lives. While some rise up to make a difference, others succumb to depression.

Without question, it’s difficult to comprehend a loss. Whether it’s a spouse, child, family member, or friend, we feel lost within our world. We become so accustomed to physical presence and when it is no longer there, it feels weird. It’s unsettling. There is a pure awkward silence. A void.

Voids are often troubling for many. You find yourself searching, talking out loud, or even staring aimlessly. Trying to make sense of what’s happening and how you got where you are. Trying to understand why you have more pain than before. Whether there are answers or not, you know you have to keep going.

The pain you feel of them not coming home, not able to talk, or physically be in our presence is all part of the void. A disbelief, a shock that they are really gone. No more point of contact, no more opportunities. You start reminiscing about would’ve, should’ve, could’ve scenarios to justify, but in the end, does it really bring comfort?

Support groups can only provide so much. They can provide guidance, share words of wisdom, and serve physical presence. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you to move things forward.

I can’t take away your pain. I can’t undo the past. But I can share an alternative perspective on how to cope.

Find your favorite picture of a loved one. Stare at it affectionately. In a brief moment, you may start to crack a smile in remembrance. Chuckling to yourself at a funny moment you shared. Listen closely, you can still hear their voice. Find your comfort within the loss.

While loved ones depart from us physically, they will always be in our hearts. When you need a hug or a pickup, close your eyes. Feel their arms wrapped around you. Hear their voice. And when you ready, open your eyes. Tranquilly will settle over you as you are at peace for the moment. Repeat as necessary until your find tranquility. You’ll never be alone, those memories will always be with you.

Feel their heartbeat and “keep those feet moving.”

Raise Your Standards

Goals, dreams, and expectations all intertwine together. They provide benchmarks for success. Without these opportunities you are merely surviving life not making the most of opportunities given.

Examine your standards. Are they set too low, too high? Are they attainable or completely predicated on preconceived notions?

We have goals. We have dreams. We have expectations. Too often those expectations are not attainable, not quantifiable. Is it entirely feasible that you can be promoted on the job within one day? Overcome addiction in a week? Or beat cancer within the first month after surgery alone without treatment?

My recent job performance review enabled me to examine my personal goals. Throughout the year I met and exceeded expectations. I pushed capacity limits and made significant gains both personally and professionally. The standards that were set forth for me by my department, I took it to the next level as I held myself accountable to even greater standards. I had one goal in mind, to be in line for a significant monetary increase based upon performance.

Despite receiving high marks on my performance, my annual merit raise of 2% is something I bite my tongue on. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Or perhaps the message relayed was “Welcome to Corporate America.”

I spent the weekend pondering my own personal standards and concluded that the standards I set are mine alone. Others can set those expectations, but those expectations don’t always reflect my standards. I define my standards, no one else. This is the life I lead, it’s up to me to decide what I choose to or not accept.

To be successful you have to raise your standards. I’ve learned it’s not about monetary compensation. Instead it’s about personal satisfaction and the strive to reach greater standards. It’s perfectly acceptable to set the bar high. Stretch attainable, quantifiable measures. In the end, you hold yourself accountable for your standards. In time, those standards will ultimately lead to greater achievements and prestige.

Set your sights high. Spread your wings and fly. Soar through the air. Nothing can stop you from achieving your goals, dreams, and expectations. As for that merit raise, I know I am better than that.

Set the bar high and “keep those feet moving.”

February 27, 2015 – Rubik’s Cube

2.27.15Have you ever noticed that life resembles a Rubik’s cube? Colors represent different types of crises exposed. No matter which way you turn the cube, colors become integrated together, sometimes without any real logic. And just when you think you made all the right turns, you discover that the colors are further scrambled. But as you continue to turn the cube, you’ll begin to notice how you are solving each crisis one by one.

Rubik’s cubes come in all different sizes, shapes, and forms. Much like crises, not all of them move in the same direction.  You may have to improvise as you think about the direction of each turn. Despite the difficulty, you have to keep turning.

There are moments in life when it is just easier to toss the Rubik’s cube away. The odds against you are overwhelming. The agony of continuing is too great and the desire is lost. But before you give up, ask yourself one question, “Have I truly done everything I could to overcome the crisis I face?”

As I’ve taught you in these blog postings, you have the power to overcome any obstacle you face. You have the power to knock down barriers that stand in your way. You have the power to rewrite fate and direct it. It all starts with your perception and how you game plan for success. In the end, fate doesn’t control that Rubik’s cube, you do.

Solving my own Rubik’s cube is one of my greatest accomplishments today. Looking back at the battles fought. The pain from life’s punches. All that I’ve endured over recent years have led me to the life I lead today. The experiences gained propelled me to climb mountains, overcome obstacles, and ultimately become strong and powerful. I truly believe there is nothing I can’t do. Each day I remind myself these very words…

Become so strong that no one can rise above you.

Become so tough that no one can hurt you.

Become so powerful that you become untouchable.

Solve your Rubik’s cube and “keep those feet moving.”

February 20, 2015 – Champion

2.20.15To be a Champion, you need the desire to overcome obstacles. To put forth hard earned effort each day. To prove to yourself that you have what it takes to succeed no matter the odds or what others may say.

To be a Champion, you have to train like one. Each day taking vicious hits and rising back up. Pushing yourself to extremes. Taking it one step further than the last step.

To be a Champion, there is no time to rest. No time to feel pain. No time to give up. Just keep going. Any doubts you may have, you need to set them aside and stay committed to your goals, accomplishments, and dreams.

Champions are not sports oriented only. The same concept applies to any given obstacle you face. Be strong, be tough, go the distance. Prove to yourself that you have what it takes to succeed. Learn to block out external noise to stay focused. It doesn’t matter whether your obstacles involve illness, addiction, depression, finances, or any other crisis. Empower yourself to rise above all. So go ahead, make a name for yourself. Be famous, be a role model, be an inspiration.

Champions are defined by success. Success defines a legacy. The greater the obstacle, the greater the legacy. A simple formula misunderstood by many. Success is not as difficult as some make it out to be. With hard earn efforts, will power and stamina, anything is possible.

Don’t be afraid of success because success is certainly not afraid of you. Empower yourself to become indestructible. Only when you achieve that status level do you become truly a Champion.

When you’ve reached the top. There is only one way to go. No, not down, but up. Continue striving to be the best. Soar to new heights and keep climbing. Champions never look back for they are already training for the next obstacle ahead.

Be a champion and “keep those feet moving.”

February 13, 2015 – Finding the right support

02.13.15What do substance addictions, behavioral addictions, depression, coping with grief, and coping with medical illnesses have in common? The need for a support group whether it’s by peer, family, or group.

Regardless of those affected by a crisis directly or indirectly, support groups are a sign of strength not weakness. However, finding the right support group for crises will enable you to climb back to the top. To become stronger.

Upon any crisis, I use the following soccer/football analogy… You are the starting midfielder, you control the game. You control where you want the ball to go. The goal is your target. The remaining field members are your support group. Those that you can turn to for continued support, share ideas, or anything else. These are your strong players, individuals you want on the field with you. The individuals on the bench are those you can substitute in and out based upon the crisis. The manager is simply your time clock. Everyone else is in the stands making noise. Giving you advice, opinions, or simply just creating noise. It’s up to you to block out the external noise and focus on the playing field itself. But what happens when you run out of bench players?

There are moments when we come to the crossroads that we evaluate certain individuals for who they are. Determine whether they will continue to serve a purpose or if they primarily contribute to the external noise. Our substitute members have attributes that we admire and/or despise. But knowing and understanding their core will dictate a clear resolution on their commitment. More often than not, crises do an excellent job distorting their overall core.

Good apples can become bad apples, however, you can’t change a bad apple to a good apple. Once it’s bad, you can’t change it back. It’s still bad. You can clean it, preserve it, but the core remains the same. All the promises in the world doesn’t mean anything. The core has now been molded and shaped.

Most apples in the world are generally good, clean apples. The outer layer may be a little dirty, but as long as the core remains intact, the apple is still good. Choosing the right apples are a challenge. Sometimes the bad apples align themselves and can blend, but given time, true colors begin to differentiate it.

Remember, when overcoming crises, you do have a choice who you want on the playing field with you. Bad apples or not, you decide whether to replace it or keep it. Never settle just to settle.

Find the good apples and “keep those feet moving.”