Fragments of time or “snapshots” of a moment are brief and do not give the entire picture of who a person is as a whole.

Who do you think the person standing next to you in the grocery store line is? Who do you think the person that just raced past you in the street is? Who do you think you are? Who do you think I am?

Fragments of time or “snapshots” of a moment are brief and do not give the entire picture of who a person is as a whole. If you saw me yesterday standing in line rolling my eyes at the person in front of me, or two days ago stopped by the side of the road to “rescue” a dog, or last night laughing at my husband so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks, or yesterday arguing with my 11 year old about which binder was suitable to buy for 5th grade, these are just moments. These are not a description of who we really are. Yet, we judge each other because of them.

We can’t take in the entire picture of every single person we don’t know and craft a story about what we believe them to be about.

Judgement isn’t always about viewing someone in a negative way. It can also be creating a fantasy around their lives based on snap shots of brief moments we see. Or, more accurately, what we think we see.

How many times do we look at social media with an envy of a life that seems so perfect? The perfect family, smiling faces, perfect relationships and endless fun. Is that your constant reality? It’s definitely not mine.

Below is a photo of my son and me, being silly, not a care in the world, making memories and just being in the moment. What you can not see is how long it took to get dressed, put on our snow gear and how long it took to finally get out the door.

Before this photo was taken, we were laughing so hard at my son and his funny personality. But, after the photo, when it was time to come inside and peel off all those layers, that certainly did not consist of laughing, smiles nor was it fun. However, two very different moments not captured, so how can you think you know ALL circumstances of anyone’s life based on one picture posted on social media?

My point is this: I have purposefully designed a life that has meaning and purpose. I try to make the best of each day and create memories for my children that they will cherish into their adult years.

However, that doesn’t mean I get out of bed every day with a smile and eager to step into my “perfect” day.
I may wake feeling happy. I may wake feeling tired, anxious or depressed. Either way, I’m not defined by it.

I’m not ‘good’ and I’m not ‘bad’. I’m just a human. I feel a variety of emotions. Please don’t base your opinion on my life based on any photo I may post on any of my social media sites!

It’s not realistic to ask ourselves never to judge anyone again. To never create a story around how fabulous/awful/amazing someone is from the thirty second window from which we viewed them. But perhaps we need to keep in mind that it is just a snapshot. It may even be a series of snapshots. Perhaps a whole album. But it’s unlikely to be the whole story.

I mess up, I make mistakes and I don’t always get it right, but I no longer dwell on it. I look for the lesson and then I move on. I’m not interested in repeatedly punishing myself. How does that serve me? How does self punishment serve any of us? If we focus on acceptance and tolerance, then we can make a difference. If we focus on criticizing others, then we stay stuck and we all suffer.

Just accept that you’re going to screw up sometimes and so is everybody else. Nobody is worse than or better than you. Different, maybe, but that’s OK. Different is good!

Change the world by acceptance, guidance, love, understanding, compassion and accountability.

Each step that is taken to create a better world is taken by YOU!

Stop Fast -Forwarding Your Life

Stop Fast-Forwarding Your Life.
Enjoy the present moment, even when it is hard. As a matter of fact, enjoy every moment in this life, good and bad, because these moments will never happen again. No matter how hard you try to go back or fast-forward to a new day, right now is our only guarantee in this life!

Remember, the past is gone and the future is still uncertain. Live now because it may be all you ever have. Really think about that, and let it sink in. Now is all we have, nothing after is ever guaranteed. I say this often because it is reality. Tomorrow is never promised, yet we spend much of our time looking ahead to better things, when really our present moment will never happen again.

We spend our days, working, running our children here and there, preparing for tomorrow, next week and looking ahead to next month. It is great to organize and prepare, but don’t forget to be present and in the moment, especially with our children. The older my children become, the more this really sinks in.

Of course I am like many mothers who look back wishing they would have done things differently. Here are a few things I try not to dwell on as a parent.

  • Changing the past.
  • Wishing my kids were small again.
  • Wishing I had done things differently when they were little.
  • Looking ahead to any obstacles that may arise as my children grow into young adults.
  • Stop saying “what if”.

“While we try to teach our children about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”

I try not to look ahead at the “what ifs” and stay in the present moment with any loved one. What we have now is what matters the most. We will learn and grow as we get older, so be the best version of you right now.

Life is ironic and we will never fully understand it. It takes some of us to experience disaster, sadness, silence, absence, grief or loss to learn how to appreciate victory, happiness, noise, presence, and life. Always value what is right in front of you. Stop looking to the future or behind at the past, dwelling on old regrets speeding through the day wishing it would end and a new one would begin.

Here’s the thing: we are missing the awesome blessings standing right in front of us!

As tempting as it is to believe that the future is going to be all sunshine and rainbows, the truth is that it doesn’t get better in the future unless you make it so. Keep in mind, you will be the one to achieve the future you desire. You have to do the work to make it better, and that involves being here now.

Stop dwelling on your past, things that annoy you in your day-to-day life, or the fact that you’re miserable at your job, use them to grow and make decisions about what needs to change to make your life better right now.

When you learn to recognize what you already have, any additions will be a bonus.

Chara

4 Steps for Reaching Genuine Happiness and Success!

“The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake – you can’t learn anything from being perfect.” – Adam Osborne

I guess you could say I have made many mistakes throughout my life. I’ve spent the past few years learning, growing, and getting it right!
Pulling myself out of the chaos and confusion would become my primary goal in life. For once, I felt consequences, and aimed for victory! For as long as I can remember, I had big dreams.
Growing up and facing circumstances out of my control was never easy, but those situations would one day be the reason I was driven to pursue my dreams. I have discovered the secret to maintaining balance, harmony, and spiritual equilibrium. Can you guess what the most important component is to reaching these three things? YOU! Yes, that is right, every positive change will begin with You! I am going to show you why YOU are so very important to achieving great success.
It is safe to say I’ve always been driven by my dreams. For many years, these dreams were enough to get me through to the next day. I held on to hope for a better life. I longed to be a successful leader and advocate for health and fitness, and help others overcome all obstacles. What many discover, including myself, is that we are our greatest enemy. We are our own worst critic. We get in the way of achieving great success by how we view ourselves. Once we shift our thoughts, our lives begin to change.
What motivates you the most? Mine happens to be my spiritual connection, my wonderful husband and my three amazing kids! When I want to quit, I think of the above and I immediately gain momentum and strength to keep moving in a positive direction.
Over two decades I aspired to be a runner, fitness guru, expert in weight loss, and promote healthy nutrition and maintain optimal physical fitness to all of my clients. So I did. I placed most of my time, energy and resources into doing just that! Yet over time, the added stress, heartache, life disasters, unforeseen obstacles, and disappointments knocked me down more times than I can remember. But, I always got back up! Why? Because I wanted to!
Even if I did not jump right up, I got up, and I moved forward, learning and understanding from any recent failures. Nine times out of ten, most of my mistakes and failures could have been avoided, if I had shifted my focus and changed my thinking.
You see, the problem is, even when I was dreaming big, and following my gut, I was also living with a negative mindset, making mistake after mistake in my personal life.
But then it all changed. My mistakes became my life’s biggest lessons. This is were many of us screw up. We make a mistake, but we do not learn from it. We repeat this many times and these behaviors eventually change the outcome of our lives. Let’s face it, we are never prepared to lose the things we love the most, right? It may take losing everything before the lesson actually sinks in. Don’t repeat the mistake until it is too late. Take the lesson and use it to grow and change the behavior now! It is NEVER too late!
Fear held me back countless times throughout my life. I feared making mistakes, failure, rejection, and loss, but, believe it or not, I feared success, too. For many years, I set goals for myself – being a fitness advocate and creating programs that helped individuals reach their highest physical fitness level with nutrition and exercise programs that were challenging, yet effective. I had immersed myself for years, practicing, implementing, trial and errors, and studying. Studying and studying, oh and did I mention, studying? It was time to launch my programs to the online world!
You see, I knew I was capable of doing anything, all it took was hard work and dedication, but my previous mistakes were always on my mind. So, it took a little bit longer to get there. The more good I was doing, the more my confidence grew. My personal training business was doing great and now my fitness programs were taking off online and doing so much better than I ever imagined. Things were really taking a turn for the better. Victory and success weren’t just dreams, they had become my reality.
After a few years of having earning great success with my career, life hit again! Disaster struck, and I became ill with a virus of unknown origin. I began feeling sick, on and off, in the summer of 2015. This would continue for months and turned into constant fevers reaching 105-107°F by November.
I experienced flu-like symptoms several times over the course of five months.  Fatigue had consumed me, I was weak and tired all the time, running fevers at least twice a month. I went to a doctor, however the blood work came back normal. There were a few wrong diagnoses during this time, however, these would soon be corrected once I was hospitalized. As my health continued to decline of course so did my motivation.
November of that same year, my fever hit 105 and landed me in the hospital for several days.  My liver enzymes were dangerously high and the fevers continued to rise. The days in the hospital grew into a week, then two weeks. At one point my fever hit 107 and I was hallucinating and having seizures. The doctors were unable to get my fever down as my liver enzymes continued to rise.
The doctors told my husband to call the family in, things were not looking good. As I laid in the hospital bed, praying to God to keep me alive, I begged him for a another chance at life. I promised I would get it right! My fever would not break and I continued to pray and hold onto hope that I would turn the corner. I fought harder each day and always remembered my motivation, my spiritual connection to God, my husband, and my three children. I never gave up! I continued fighting and fighting to get better!
By the grace of God, I eventually pulled through this. It took months to recover and to this day, the doctors are not sure where the virus originated. Scary, right? Could this be a lesson?
This illness turned out to be a blessing. I dreamed even bigger than before and my passion for living a happy life soared! I remember one night, while in the hospital, praying and promising God, if I woke up and pulled through this, I was going to do great things and share my life story with the world. It was time to stop hiding from my past! My energy and focus for health and fitness were now being shared with an overwhelming passion to write a book!
I had hidden my childhood horrors most of my life, simply out of embarrassment, guilt, and shame. I felt the situations were isolated and I was the only one in the universe to experience these horrible things. Through intense therapy and making a conscious effort, I had forgiven most of the people who had harmed me. But I still had work to do. I wanted to reach out to those who had experienced similar heartache, become a beacon for those in need, and a messenger for the uneducated.
I now appreciate the fact that many have suffered through very similar disasters, abuse, and personal defeats like I did.
Over the months of healing and recuperating from this virus, I placed most of my free time, and energy into writing the book, Disguised Blessings. My dreams shifted into a new and unfamiliar part of my being. I continued to revisit a place I fought most of my life to avoid remembering. But I was driven to help people in a very different way.
Health and fitness is what I learned and knew so well. Sharing my story was uncomfortable, but would end up being the most liberating thing I could do.
As I continued exploring new emotions about releasing this information for the entire world to read, I was hesitant and reluctant to proceed.
I can remember thinking, If I had resources and a book like this many moons ago, things would have been much different. Being able to relate to another with similar experiences, would have helped me a great deal.
So, I moved forward, hitting roadblock after roadblock. I can not tell you how many times I pulled out of releasing Disguised Blessings. Fear consumed me, yet again. Fear of how this would affect my children, fear of exposing this and putting myself out there in such a way. I began to feel vulnerable, naked and embarrassed by the truth of my past and what happened to me as a child.  I was at a standstill with pursuing this dream for many months.
But then it happened, I gained the courage and strength to send the manuscript, allow the publishing process to take place and move forward knowing this book would help others and have a positive impact on everyone! I reminded myself: this was not about me, this was about all of you!
As I explored a variety of ideas, I discovered these very important steps. I noticed when I followed them, and remembered what motivated me the most, my family, I was immediately back on track and moving forward towards my desired destination. The steps helped me stay focused, learn from my previous mistakes, and continue following my dreams.
These are small shifts in mindset but with a powerful long-term success and happiness:
1. Step one: Self-love
Loving yourself is not selfish, it takes practice. Loving yourself is not a sign of vanity, it builds self-esteem and courage.
Loving yourself is one of the most giving and humble acts you can do for others. When you love yourself you are more likely to really give love and inspiration to others. It exudes one’s authentic self and it’s contagious!
Love is powerful.
Growing up, loving myself was obsolete. Once I discovered how critical this was in order for me to grow, I worked long and hard at doing so. Practice, practice, practice. Say nice things to yourself about yourself and positive and rewarding actions automatically follow.
I know, this sounds funny, but it really works! Who is comfortable talking to themselves about themselves? I certainly was not! But then I discovered how important this would be in reprogramming my thoughts.
Practice saying nice things about yourself out loud first. Then, look in the mirror and say the same things. You may giggle at first and feel uncomfortable, but keep practicing this exercise. Over time, it will get easier and you will gain an enormous amount of confidence and self-esteem.
2. Step two: Change your thinking
What we think, we become. This has put me at a standstill most of my life. I felt I was not worthy of anything good. Self destruction was my friend and I destroyed anything good. Bad things have a way of making us believe we are bad people. This is not true. Bad situations can alter our thoughts, but we must stand up and have the strength to avoid all negative thoughts that come into our minds.Our thoughts become our reality. We become what we think about the most. Shift your thoughts in a positive direction and you will notice an enormous amount of energy gained to drive you towards positive action!
Once I learned to how to love myself and changed my thinking, everything around me changed. The people I attracted, my circle of friends, my relationships, all of it changed in a positive way. My life changed drastically, for the better.
The bad things that happened to me as a child were not my fault. It took decades for me to understand this. However, the choices I made as an adult were my responsibility. I began to shift my thinking into a positive direction and great and wonderful things were transpiring. I no longer viewed the world as “bad”. I began to see all the good just by changing my thinking.
I stopped challenging all the good aspects of my life and I no longer tried to destroy them. I welcomed them, and was driven to keep going in the right direction. My personal training business blossomed into a very large community. My memoir was in the process of being published, and I felt liberated. Was it really possible to change my life after such disastrous events? Absolutely, and I am living proof this works!
3. Step three: Stop making excuses
Excuses are the stepping stone to failure and creating one’s very own failures. We will find every excuse not to change our current situations, even when we know we need to. Let’s face it, who likes change? Change is scary and we are all creatures of habit.
What we do over and over, we repeat. This works as a disadvantage, but will also work to your advantage.
If you want to lose weight, but you make every excuse not to workout, how will you accomplish this? If you want to eat better but won’t find the time to meal plan or cook, how will you accomplish this? You need to stop making excuses and do what is required in order to reach your goals.
If you suffer from any form of trauma, you must be willing to shift your focus into creating a life after the horror. Memories will remain, however, you must learn to immediately put those thoughts into a safe place and proceed forward with the understanding the past events can no longer hurt you. You are safe and you are in control of how your life will turn out. You are the most important part of healing. Find a safe and healthy way to react to those memories.
Examples: Journaling, exercise, yoga, meditation, art and painting. All of these things are great for the mental healing. Whatever works for you, make sure you use all resources to shift your energy when those memories invade your thoughts. Repeat healthy actions, over and over until they become habit. This will eventually take over and replace the bad habits you wish to make obsolete.
Everything we do and say is a choice! Choose to do the work and take action. If you want to accomplish success and reach your goals, what is stopping you? Get out there and do it!
4. Step Four: Balance
In my book Disguised Blessings, I explain seven tips on creating balance, harmony, and spiritual equilibrium.
It is so important to create balance in all areas of your life. Many of us focus on one or two things, placing all of our time and energy into these things and neglecting other very important components in our life.
For example: You want to lose weight, so you focus all of your time calculating calories, adding your nutrients, buying every vegetable in the aisle to make the healthy recipes you found online. You put everything into this and leave no room for a mistake in your plans.
But then it happens! You’re at a social gathering and you have a piece of cake. That is it! You tell yourself you’re a failure and the next day you quit your nutrition plan. All the food you bought rots and you throw it out. You now wasted valuable time, money and energy.
What if you create balance with your new meal plan? Give yourself freedom to have a few slips throughout the week. You must understand that you will fall off the wagon from time to time, and that is okay! Don’t stop or quit because you slipped a day or two. Who cares? There must be balance in everything we do. This goes for everything. Allow room to grow in all areas of your life.Relationships, career, yourself, fun activities, and so on.
When we take responsibility for ourselves, shift our focus, change the way we think, and balance life, we take control of our experiences and the outcome.
I know that it’s still an ongoing process for me, but I also know that by using these steps we can all deal with any situation we find ourselves in. That day I chose to take control of my life and step into the unknown, success and happiness was right behind me.
If you’re feeling tired and worn out, dig deep. Get up, shake off the negative and breathe in the positive. It takes strength and insane courage to get back up, but you can do this!
This is not about faking happiness, its about being real and true.
Getting to the point where you’re ready to change is what might take a little longer—but with the right steps it will happen.
“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” – Unknown
This life is pretty damn amazing!
Chara

Pick up your copy of Disguised Blessings today. Now available in paperback and Kindle editions. https://www.amazon.com/Disguised-Blessings-Inspiring-Transformation-Reclaiming/dp/0998217107/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483876715&sr=8-1&keywords=Disguised+Blessings

Begin to Love YOU!

I have finally reached that point in my life, that I have heard people speak of, but did not understand until now. I no longer find it necessary to try and impress anyone. If someone feels empowered by saying negative things about me, this is out of my control. It hurts, but I am still good. This is very hard to do, but it is certainly possible! When you put yourself out there, you must expect judgment and ridicule from others. There is no way to stop this from happening. It won’t matter who you are, someone will find fault in everything you do. But, hold your head up high, and forgive them.

It really takes personal courage to be yourself, especially through the most difficult times. Once you allow your authenticity to be revealed, you will not want to go back. There may be times when you will want to stand up for yourself, expressing your hurt by confronting the negativity, but most likely it will come out in ways you will regret,. Don’t do it! I have learned to calm down before I act. Many times tears are a natural side effect from feeling the hurt that others may cause you. This is good, this is healthy, but whatever you do, DO NOT react to them.

Continue to be yourself. Shine your beautiful self, holding nothing back. Here are a few things to practice that will allow you to see your awesomeness!

1. Look in the mirror, (I know even this can be very hard to do), look yourself in the eyes, and say nice things. Example: “You are kind, you are good, you are strong, you are not anything anyone says, you are worth it, and you are beautiful’! This may sound very funny, and the first few times will make you giggle and stop. This took me many, many times. First to be able to look in the mirror and think nice things, let alone say them! If you find you can’t do this, try saying these things out loud first, and repeat them. Once you are comfortable saying them, try the mirror exercise.

2. Do nice things for others. This not only builds your confidence and self esteem, but this is your way of giving back and helping others. We live in a world where many people need your help. Be sure to always lend a hand and smile at everyone!

3. Take a picture of yourself. Yes, a selfie. Before you panic, listen; Those struggling with self esteem and confidence, also struggle to have pictures taken of themselves. Most of my life I hid from the camera. I would NEVER allow pictures, let alone post them on social media. This helps us to practice self love and acceptance. I am not saying post a selfie every day and become obsessed with your physical body image. I am saying be comfortable seeing yourself and your reflection. All people are beautiful but some of our actions make us feel not so pretty. What if we all were able to understand this? What makes us feel ugly and why do we react and do things that will hurt others and ourselves? Most of the time, it’s because we do not respect our worth or like ourselves. Stop this!

4. MOST IMPORTANT STEP: LOVE YOURSELF! Love the good and the bad. Love everything. Learn from the bad and move on. Be grateful for the good and move forward.

You only have one life. It may take many tries, errors, and lessons before we get it right. Turn away from all negativity that will sabotage your positive efforts and continue to grow.

https://www.amazon.com/Disguised-Blessings-Inspiring-Transformation-Reclaiming/dp/0998217107/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482058887&sr=8-1&keywords=Disguised+Blessings