Read About Our 2016 Scholarship Recipients Monthly Experiences in the below update journals.
FEBRUARY 2016 UPDATE
Home Life Area After the Declutter & Detox Workshop
One of the visions for my home life area was to “live in a space that is inspiring and supportive with clutter managed in all areas of my home.” For a long time I’ve felt that our living space doesn’t inspire me. It is often cluttered and filled with things we’ve accumulated over the years that I don’t especially love. During the workshop, Alice suggested starting with just a small area like my nightstand, so not to get overwhelmed by clutter by others in the house and to just focus on my space. I took her advice and cleared my nightstand when I got home after the weekend workshop. It was great, that small space next to my bed felt fresh! I removed all the clutter and instead displayed my favorite photo of me and my husband, put out candles, posted my Happiness U affirmation cards and placed a small plant out.
I spent the week reading Alice’s book, Feng Shui Your Life, and by the following weekend I had a vision in mind for redoing our bathroom. I figured I’d start with a smaller space that everyone uses. Together everyone in the family had a part in creating our new inspiring space and now it’s our favorite place in the house! We were amazed with what we created and how good it felt.
The past two weeks I have decluttered our bedroom and am now making a space somewhere my husband and I enjoy being. There were many items from our past that didn’t have positive memories, dust, paper clutter, etc. Once all that was cleared we painted the room, moved around furniture and are slowing bringing in the things we love. I have been sleeping so peacefully at night for the first time, it’s wonderful! The kids admire how nice the room looks and feels, and now they are motivated to clear out their rooms and create their own personalized space.
It’s amazing – once I took the time to write down the vision I wanted for our home and actually created an action plan, things just unfolded. By starting with a small space like my nightstand, the momentum spread to several rooms in the house. This is a place that we’ve lived in for over 10 years, and only now it’s becoming the home that expresses who we are and is enjoyable to be in. It is still a work in progress but we are making it happen.
At first I was hesitant about devoting the whole weekend to Happiness U since I missed several family events but I am so grateful that I did. What I was able to learn at the workshop and bring back home is invaluable, the workshop not only impacted me but is having an affect on my whole family.
My family’s reaction – I decided not to share much with my husband about what is happening at Happiness University. He doesn’t ask. This is a social experiment to see if positivity rubs off on a negative person. I did ‘gas’ him at our last couple’s counseling session, letting him know that it was not my responsibility to create happiness for him. That is his responsibility and his life experience. Omg! Then there’s my 19 year old son, the skeptic, who has been complaining that I am trying too many new things. He wants stability in his world. The last thing he would like to see is that Mom is doing or saying different things. I replied, “Change is a guarantee! Nothing stays the same.”
The January 30-31, 2016, ‘Declutter & Detox Your Life’ weekend, made me realize the value of accepting who I am and where I am in in life. It made me believe that I do need to declutter everything physical, emotional, and psychological, so that I have more energy to move forward. My time and energy are valuable resources that I want to use wisely. I started by organizing my dresser drawers the Mari Kondo way, and learning to not feel guilty about getting rid of stuff. I found it easier to throw away the expired foods that were just piling up in the back of the refrigerator. Now I don’t bother answering nosey text messages from friends who ask, “Suz, what you doing?”, or “What you cooking for dinner?”, or “Are you still working in the garden?” I distance myself from friends who drain me or ask for too many favors. I notice less procrastination on things I have been putting off. I have always used a ‘to-do’ list, but don’t feel defeated if I don’t get to cross off something I wanted to do for the day. It goes on to the next day’s list. The overall feeling is that I seem to have more confidence about decisions I make according to what I think is right for me.
Before Happiness U, I didn’t know that the flow of negative and positive energy was real. I attributed this to random good luck or bad luck in life. I sort of knew and observed this in other people, but still allowed myself to get upset or frustrated whenever the vibe was bad on me. Now, in my job setting, I remind my clients that they can take on more responsibility for their feelings, their excuses, their obstacles in life. I see individuals are responding with head nodding as if they understand and agree to move forward. It’s beginning to change where the client realizes he is empowered with choices.
Another thing that is amazing… synchronicities. The day after I attended the ‘Personal Writing’ talk by Plynn Gutman, at Happiness U, I saw a TV story about the French model, singer, actress, Lou Doillon. She mentioned that she never felt as accomplished as her parents were (although she was famous in her own life) until a friend pointed out that her best works were hidden in her personal writing. She took those words and made them into music, then won the “Best Female Artist” of 2013. The next day, I met up with my lady friends at church, and for some reason, each one of them gives me a gift… candy roses, a book about house plants, and a ‘Create Your Own Happiness’ journaling tablet. They said these things reminded them of me that week. Why me? Why were they all thoughtful of me? Mind-blowing synchronicity! That’s all I can say.
MARCH 2016 UPDATE
Last month during the Life Planning Workshop weekend, I was surprised to learn that I place higher priority on home than I do my children and than my spouse, can you believe it? It was nowhere on my priority list! This realization was very enlightening because I had been getting feedback from my husband to spend more time with the kids, spend less time at work, to go to the kids’ sport practices more. Much of the time I find myself concerned with what’s for dinner, what to make the kids for lunch, finances, is the house in order, what I have to do for work and it takes me away from hanging out with my family. Either I am doing something in the house or not present in the moment if I am with them.
At the Life Planning Workshop, I decided to rearrange my priorities and put my kids and husband at the top followed by money and home. Following the class I have been making a conscious effort to stay outside in the yard with the kids longer instead of rushing into the house to cook. Last week, I left work on time and stayed at my son’s basketball practice for an hour. I feel a little less pressure to make sure dinner is ready by a certain time, or that the house looks a certain way. I think those were expectations I put on myself. When in fact my husband and kids don’t care whether we eat at 7 or 9pm. Before this, I had been feeling like an outsider sometimes with my family and a little envious that my husband gets to spend more time with them than me because I’m at work. However, by making small efforts like this, I feel more connected to them and less like an outsider who just makes sure all the meals are prepared, the house is taken care of, and homework is done.
I am still working on giving my husband more attention, at least he’s on the list now. Sometimes there is a miscommunication between us and he often misinterprets my nonverbal expressions and jumps to conclusions that I wasn’t even thinking. I’ve realized that he is a very sensitive person and his reaction probably comes from his own insecurities. I am trying to be more aware of the way I communicate to him and can use some of the tools Alice mentioned in the class this past Saturday on using words.
I am taking each day one at a time and trying to be mindful of my actions and what’s going on around me.
March felt like it was a slow month, or a month that I needed to practice slowing down. It seemed I was having withdrawals from not going to enough classes at Happiness U. I was surprised that my counselor cut me loose, or she decided I did not need to return for another session. She said goodbye, in a way, when she did not suggest a follow-up appointment, and instead left it open for me to call. I am relieved about it. I hope it means that she thinks I am communicating more openly and handling relationships better.
I wish I had attended all of Max Gin’s Mindfulness Meditation classes at Happiness U. I seemed to have a month of low energy and couldn’t make myself go to classes on weekday nights after work. It really felt like I was getting grounded – whether it meant I focused a lot on hunkering down on the workload at my job, or that I spent hours in the garden making planter beds and sowing vegetable seeds, or just taking care of personal business, bank accounts, packing hubby’s lunches, going to my own medical appointments, caring for my sick cat. This month was more about self-appraisal, being more introspective, dealing with the things that cause obstruction in my life rather than movement and flow and progress. I want to do more decluttering. I want to create more synchronistic events so that things start to happen and align in my life. As I am learning, write down your thoughts, affirm what you want, draw in the positive energy, create what happens in your life.
APRIL 2016 UPDATE
When I look back on April, I felt a little disconnected from things, wished I could’ve attended more classes and devoted more time to myself. There has been a lot going on with the kids’ sports, school activities, and we got ambushed with several birthdays during this time.
I was thinking about this yesterday and feeling a little bummed while I was at work, then I noticed something when I looked at the clock, it was 3:33. That was kinda cool, perhaps a synchronicity telling me it’s okay and I’m on the right path? That lighted my spirit a bit then later in the afternoon it happened again. I looked at my phone and it was 5:55! It reminded me of my friend Pam who would always hum the twilight zone theme when synchronistic things happened. Not exactly sure what it means but I take it as not to be too hard on myself and to keep moving in a positive direction!
Happiness is a choice. Now I know that I can make conscious changes in the way I want to live life. I practice keeping positive thoughts. I practice selective hearing. Everything negative goes in one ear and goes out the other. I practice controlling my emotional reactions. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset. I am irritated by the same people who come to work and predictably demonstrate that they have a bad habit of complaining… just about anything… about lack of work space… about the weather… about physical pain or illness. Anything. Everyone has negative thoughts but they can make an effort not to dwell on them. Certain individuals enjoy bathing themselves in negativity, and what’s worse is, they don’t smell it.
I am in the slow process of decluttering my house. Maybe not as methodical as Marie Kondo recommends doing it, but as I start to declutter, there is a feeling of accomplishment. Not wanting to give away all my books, I am reading them before I let them go. Joel Osteen, in “Everyday Is A Friday”, says only 10% of our happiness is connected to life circumstances and 40% is dependent on our life decisions. “You have what you need to be happy. Don’t let go of that power. You are responsible for a good attitude and blooming in the midst of weeds. Sew a seed to inspire people around you.” That is why I made four crown flower leis last week and gave them away to four friends. I cut my spring garden blooms this week and gave them to four co-workers who were thrilled to receive them. I wanted these people to feel appreciated.
My friend texted me this week. The tone of her voice was admonishing. At first, I didn’t appreciate her saying that I was missing out on God’s blessings. She recommends that I attend Bible study, that I fast and pray, and that I attend church more often. This is someone who attends three different churches on the same weekend. Self-love and self-care and self-value come first. A key to happiness is to know I deserve a blessing just because it is God’s goodness. My friend knows that if you partner with the power of God, paths will open and the blessings will flow into my life.
MAY 2016 UDPATE
May was a busy month as always, since we have five birthdays to celebrate during that month. Seems like we had a dinner at our house every weekend. As the host, I often find myself getting stressed out or irritable towards the end of the night. I realized that, other than my father-in-law, who usually cooks a few dishes, most of the set up and clean up falls on me. I usually feel myself getting irritable as the night goes on, knowing I’ll have to bring out and serve dessert without a moment to relax, followed by cleaning up, making numerous trips to the house, making doggy bags, and doing dishes. I think my desire to please and be a good host has spoiled our guests! I feel more like a waitress at dinner! How do I change this pattern? This is not something that only happens in May but every time we have a get-together. My husband has sensed my frustration and started helping me clean up. And now the kids are learning to help keep up. I will keep focusing on how to make these get-togethers more enjoyable instead of focusing on the part I don’t like.
This is May in hindsight. Work was more stressful than usual. Besides having three new RNs on staff this year, one doctor quit after five months. Uh huh, it’s busy at the workplace. I average 9-12 hours per day at work. It’s dark when I leave the office. It’s somewhat spooky walking to the car at night. I am grateful that there are motion-detecting lights in the parking lot. I love my job, but it makes no sense in spending 60 hours/week at work when the job pays you for 40 hours.
I would like to work smarter, not harder. I will be starting graduate school in August. This is long overdue. It’s been 20 years since I went to college. I am apprehensive about online learning. I don’t remember the rules of APA format for term papers. Every day, we are getting older. Every day we are getting closer to dying. Yet, everyday we are living. In our culture, it means push yourself to grow. Keep growing! Be open to new things. Be aware of how you are creating your life.
JUNE 2016 UPDATE
June in hindsight. This month, I felt overwhelmed. No wonder I picked Overcome Overwhelm 101, and did not complete it. Hehe! Where did the time go? I went to New Orleans for a week-long global conference at the ADA (American Diabetes Association) Scientific Sessions. I sat in sessions, listening to researchers and scientists talk about evidence-based studies in mice and humans on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diet, and new medications. In the end, the medical society determines that it needs more scientific studies to get more answers. This requires more money and more time.
I also went to another conference in June. I attended a Biotech conference in Anaheim, CA. I am relieved that June came and went. I filled up my brain tank. Now, I am digesting the information, making sense of it, and sharing it.
What I learned at Candace Thoth’s talk in June, is that self-love is realizing that you are worthy. I always think that I don’t deserve to go on a vacation. Taking a trip for pure pleasure is a luxury. My dad never thought of traveling for joy and relaxation. He didn’t think we could afford to do that. His life was all about saving your hard-earned money. That’s something I learned in childhood. So today, I only take trips with a purpose. An extra vacation day or two is attached to a business trip. The real question is, do I feel worthy? I cancelled an appointment at the Hilton Hotel Spa last weekend because I couldn’t see spending $200 on a 55-minute massage. My friends said I deserved it. They went to the spa without me. Self-love in action means to do activities that support physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. To enhance this behavior, I know I need to be able to receive love and schedule in activities that create self-love. I will work on that.
Can’t believe the year has been going by so fast! This has been a better year than last. Well, maybe I am now more equipped to deal with challenging situations that arise by looking at things differently.
Recently I have enjoyed catching up on missed classes by watching them on Facebook. The class on personalities by astrology types was insightful. The description of Leos fit my husband to the T, even the part about having nice hair. Haha When we first met he would blow dry his bangs so they were perfectly feathered. And now that he’s older, his mane is not as full. The description helped remind me to appreciate what he does and to acknowledge it. I would often come home and he says don’t you notice anything? I mopped the floor today, or I cleaned the sink, I painted the garage, etc. While myself, being a Virgo, I don’t seek compliments when I do things, but he does. I am trying to be more aware of that lately and acknowledge those things.
Also, it used to bother me how sensitive my son is, he is the type to wear his feelings on his sleeve. At first I thought that is a sign of weakness to show your disappointment or fear but realized I should embrace that in his personality. The fact that he is in tune with his feelings and able to express it is not a negative thing.
For the remainder of the year I want to focus on completing my Life Book to prioritize things in my life and get more focused.
In July, I made a promise to live my life with more intention. Funny how traveling to another place and returning home seems to make home look different. It’s a good time for a reality check. I asked myself if I was really getting anywhere in life by doing the same thing… waking up, going to work, going home, waking up the next day, going to work again, going home? Do you get results if you focus your energy on something?
Well, you become whatever it is you spend time on. This month, we had an inspection from JACHO (Joint Commission of Health Organizations). I received a warning on the day the inspectors were coming to ask questions. It’s a good thing that I really didn’t believe they would interview me. I had no time to be nervous. I was interviewed by one of five inspectors on the team. She was so impressed with how I perform my job, she kept talking about that interview. I learned this from my supervisor after the debriefing. I received a big hug and words of appreciation for the hard work I do. I am a hero. I am the star! The inspectors found what they were looking for. We passed our accreditation with flying colors.
I have been thinking a lot about my potential to achieve more success and happiness. I heard Bob Proctor speak about the Law of Attraction and personal development. This ‘Attraction’ thing really works. The Universe gives back when I give to it! Last week, my patients seemed to all be bringing in gifts – two deliciously sweet piri mangoes, three avocados, a bright pink dragon fruit, a tray of Kozo Sushi. I, in turn, gave away some avocado. I appreciate making positive connections with people like never before. Just a simple act of kindness or word of encouragement is magical. People respond to that. It’s a lesson in personal development when this introvert wants to make more friends. When I make the effort to get to know more people, it enriches my life.
Of course, I am also establishing boundaries in relationships. I have a friend who I feel takes advantage of me. One day, she asked me to help her deliver two large boxes to the post office. The boxes were supposedly too heavy for her to carry. She and I are the same age and size. What makes her think I can carry the boxes if she can’t? Her son was not available to do it for her. He had planned to go to the beach with his friends. I thought mom and son didn’t have their priorities right. I already had something scheduled that morning. My recommendation was to either borrow my hand truck or take the boxes to the post office on a day when her son could do it. The place or position you have in life is created by you and your actions or inactions. Where are you going? July is my reality check. I will spend more time and energy in things that promote my well-being.
AUGUST 2016 UPDATE
Hard to believe it’s already September! Where has the year gone? When I look back to where I was at a year ago I feel like I am in a much happier place now, have better relationships, and am more equipped to deal with things that come up unexpectedly.
The other night I found myself upset about something that happened. After sulking for a little and realizing that I was taking it out on others around me, I consciously told myself that it’s my own decision to be acting that way and I have the power to change my attitude, so I took it upon myself to change my mood so I could be in the present moment again and enjoy what was around me.
In the past I would’ve sulked all night or even through the next day dwelling on a minor issue. That’s a waste of energy. I see now. I am more engaged with those around me now. Slowing down to take the time to listen and being aware of my body language to understand what I am communicating to others non verbally.
Yikes! Where did August go? I must have been overwhelmed, so much so, that I didn’t finish Overcome Overwhelm 101. Sigh! And, I only attended one class at Happiness U this month. Two sources of stress: work and school. There are 10 people in our Specialty Clinic (three docs, five nurses, a pharmacist, a medical assistant). In August, four people moved on to other job positions. Now, I am carrying a bigger load and working longer hours. The second reason for overwhelm is that I started graduate school. Being that it’s online, it becomes very tedious. And what makes it harder is that I’m not computer savvy, so it takes me twice as long to get assignments done. I have procrastinated going back to school for at least five years. Now, sleep deprivation is getting the best of me. Joe Coffee is my best friend!
Alice was right when she said Uranus is going to retrograde – change is happening. I have new challenges and a shift in priorities. Family and friends think I am taking on too much. They try to comfort me by saying I should not push myself so hard. That’s not what I want them to say. It’s scary when you face personal challenges. I know it will get easier. I know this is only for a season. Alice’s Facebook post on 8/2/16 said, “Nothing in your life is falling apart. Everything is falling together magnificently. It’s only scary because you have not yet seen the final results.” I love that! And as long as it’s in the planets, I don’t need to ask why this is happening to me. “The next few months make you move on a path that is more in alignment with what you value today. The planets will help you overhaul. Dig deep. Be flexible. Wake up to something new by the year end.”
I loved the class on ‘Understanding Color Consciousness’. My favorite colors are green and orange. Green feels calming and it stimulates growth. Yes, I neglected the yard this month! The weeds grew waist-high due to rain and human neglect. My husband and I spent two days majorly cleaning the yard, pruning back the peach tree and crown flower tree, digging up cane grass using a pick, etc. My other favorite color is orange for the energy it provides. I decided I will need to add orange in my living room. And, the color I need more of is blue because it represents honesty, truth, justice, authority, and wisdom. To create what I want in life, I will show more of my true feelings at home. Now that the kids are grown up, I want to be able to say, “I need you to do this for me. I want this and that.” Instead of giving in to everyone else’s needs or wants, I will communicate my wishes. “I want a potter’s bench and it will be lavender. I want a rain barrel system, not one, but two or three.” Let’s see what happens next.
SEPTEMBER 2016 UPDATE
August was a month of overwhelm. September was a month for suffering. Since earning a Bachelor’s degree 21 years ago, I finally went back to school. I have procrastinated this thing for so long. It is distance learning and all done online. I’m not very good on the computer. I don’t think my advisor is helpful; she’s in Alabama; never picks up the phone; answers my e-mail in big red letters as if she is responding in anger. Ugh! I kept thinking “school is killing me!” But then, my friend in Japan reminded me that I am not a quitter. That was good enough to make me persevere.
I stopped doing a lot of stuff to re-learn how to study.
About the only Happiness U thing I did in September was to learn about feng shui. This helped me a lot… to know that feng shui is about knowing how your environment stores energy, and how it exchanges energy with you. Now, it doesn’t bother me that I don’t have a dedicated weekend day to clean house. I will pick one area to clean at an unplanned time. And it only takes a few minutes to tidy up one corner of the living room where junk has accumulated over time. It only takes a few minutes to clean a bathroom. It only takes a few minutes to remove the dust bunnies from the oscillating fan. It takes a little time to pull weeds in the garden if I just work on one small section once a week. It’s become manageable. How do you make changes? Have a beginning; there will be an end. How do you survive? Get support, as in a reliable friend (willing to do a favor), good chair and bed (for rest), good bras (for support), good shoes (foundational, represents a journey).
OCTOBER 2016 UPDATE
This past week I’ve been thinking about what to write for October’s update and I was stumped. I kept thinking about what to write but nothing was coming to me. Guess I was getting worried over the thought of not learning or improving myself any, this past month. Then it hit me tonight, all the different experiences and emotions October brought.
From my son surviving his first season of cross country and watching him discover something he enjoys, to my daughter realizing that her hard work of practicing softball earned her the starting position to pitch in a tournament. When I watch them I become the nervous mom yelling from the side. They just amaze me. There were joyous moments like participating in the breast cancer walk, to celebrating my aunt being cancer free for a year. And sobering moments having to deal with my grandma being under hospice care. It is difficult to accept that the woman who was so strong and never stopped taking care of everyone is now frail and slowly deteriorating.
I continue to take on more responsibilities at work, learning as much as I can, and contribute to the company wherever I can. In addition to everything else, we fostered several kittens, that were found in the parking lot, for three weeks. The kids stepped up to the responsibility and we found ourselves innocently attached to those kitties but gave them up to the Humane Society last weekend. Today I learned that a dear aunt passed away. Ironically, I just visited her yesterday after putting it off for several weeks. That was a reminder to live in the moment and not put things off.
So after thinking I didn’t come away with much last month, looking back it was indeed a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. Each experience unique and an opportunity to grow.
Thank goodness that Alice has been recording her talks on Facebook. While I am usually doing homework, I have been joining in. I was reminded about subliminal messages that affect aging in people. Be aware of the reality you are creating. Set your intention for things to happen. Just as exercise makes you stronger and healthier, positive thinking can reduce your mental decline (like Rock Star Mama).
Some of these suggestions, I have taken to heart:
- I hate exercise, but moderate exercise slows brain aging and extends some years to your life.
- Getting better organized leads to less forgetfulness and reinforces efficiency.
- The older you get, the more you have to filter distractions.
- Challenge yourself to learn new things.
- Eating well and watching your weight keeps you in the right frame of mind.
- Sleep is important.
Then for memory, which I need more of in school – walnuts will help your brain function; repeating words out loud will cement memory; attaching a visual to something will help store information in the brain. Yes, I can apply all these tips to help me remember!
Recently, I have been interested in knowing more about ‘chi’ or life force. In Eastern cultures, in martial arts, in yoga, there is an awareness of this concept. In my profession as a nurse, some patients suck a lot of energy out of me. In order to now conserve some emotional or mental energy, I have been decreasing time spent with certain patients. What are the strategies for replenishing ‘chi’? I can’t help feeling half empty? Alice, can you speak about ‘chi’?
NOVEMBER 2016 UPDATE
For the November update, I decided to share my responses to the questions Alice threw out at the last class on the End of the Year Astrological Check Up.
- What did you let go of?
This past year I let go of negative feelings. I let go of feeling like a victim of the universe and the idea that bad things keep happening to me. I also let go of some of my worries about things that are out of my control, realizing that it is a waste of energy.
- Where have you developed a new vision?
Being open to challenges, approaching then as a learning experience and meeting a challenge head on. Using techniques Alice taught on neutralizing feelings by recognizing advantages and disadvantages then moving through the situation. I also developed new vision on creating a better balance between work and family – choosing to come home on time and to be present state of mind when I’m home.
- Where have I broken from a limitation?
Still thinking on this one…
- Where have you taken responsibility?
I am learning to be more responsible for my attitude. I am in control of my own happiness. Before Happiness U, I would often find myself sad, lonely, and feeling like just an observer in my family. I think I brought on many of those feelings upon myself and would get caught up in a nasty spiral instead of consciously taking control and choosing to be happy.
- What opportunities are you thankful for?
I am of course thankful for being a Happiness U scholarship recipient this past year. I have learned a lot this past year and continue to work towards personal growth. I am grateful for my job, and the opportunities I am given to advance my career. I attended my grand aunt’s funeral today. While it was a sad occasion, I was grateful to be able to connect with family I haven’t seen in a long time or never even met before.
Either overtime on the job or schoolwork sabotaged my plans to be there in person for Happiness U. I am thankful that I can listen to Alice on Facebook. Her talk on “What in the Universe is Going On?” was enlightening. The explanation of the Super Moon and the planetary movements reassures me that everything happens in good time. I need to send more positive vibes to my college instructors, one in particular. She is not accommodating at all! I am four hours behind, and while the other students who live near Alabama have a midnight deadline for class assignments, I have to explain to her that I work all day and cannot complete an assignment at 8pm? I should have been in Alice’s class on overcoming procrastination, huh?
Okay, so it’s time to reset for December. I have this vision that I can do better!