When the going gets rough, the tough get positive….

Some days I wake up a Negative Nancy. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to transform my downtrodden demeanor. But I say ‘no surrender’! As adorable as Eeyore is, I refuse to be him. I totally love it when I wake up feeling like Tigger, but realistically I’m usually more of a highly opinionated Christopher Robin. At least he’s got the sweet boots, right? Hurray puddle skipping! I digress…

I know that life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies and sunshine. Even UniKitty (We just watched the Lego movie) can’t hold it together all of the time. Her world literally explodes before her eyes; she finds real need to shed some tears. My conclusion is that like anything else in life worth having, maintaining positivity is real work.

I completely believe in a ying and yang to life. For in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances, we can find reasons to be grateful, even to celebrate. It’s been a year since the tragic suicide of my uncle, and on that same day this year my youngest sister turned 21. It was wonderful to celebrate the beautiful woman she’s become and realize that even though life can feel too short, it is up to us to make the most of what we have. We cannot choose the hand we are dealt, but we always have the power to choose our perspective.

One of the biggest ways I work to maintain optimism and a positive outlook on life is by setting and completing goals. This involves making a plan for what I will accomplish in the next hour, day, and week as well as hashing out some bigger-picture long-term dreams. The process of working to make dreams into reality is something I allow to really drive me. Brian and I set a big goal the other day, to visit the Galapagos Islands. I used to feel that this was an unachievable item on my ‘bucket list’, and in doing some research and basic planning, we were able to transform this into a realistic goal for ourselves. When you allow yourself to believe in your big dreams, you can’t help but believe in your small dreams.

The next step for me is to maintain that post-accomplishment positive glow! Reveling in each accomplishment along the way can feel almost as good as hitting the peak when it’s done properly. For me this can involve some creativity and silliness too. For instance, when I was feeling down about my body and feeling limited by my foot injury the other day, I invented a couple of Galapagos marine iguanas that I named Positive Polly and Positive Pete. They sat on my shoulders as I was doing push-ups, not weighing me down, but encouraging me that everything is possible when you believe in yourself and your dreams. I started thinking about how strong I am, and that the pushups maintain the strength I’ll need to battle the currently when we dive in the Galapagos. My little playful vision inspired me to channel all my positivity, and stomp out every glimpse of Negative Nancy that Pete, Polly and I encountered on our physical and mental journey through that workout. By the time we were done, I seriously felt like ‘the man’!

I definitely want to reiterate here that I understand maintaining positivity isn’t a cake walk. (Although I’ve personally never won a cake at a cake walk). Honestly, it’s downright difficult sometimes. When the hard times come, I try to keep things in perspective and remember all that I am grateful for, and all that I’ve accomplished. I remind myself that the person I want to be is loving and appreciative, and doesn’t let herself get weighed down permanently by parts of life that don’t go smoothly. There is no better time to start being the best version of myself than today.

Whatever your hopes and dreams may be, I encourage you to not just toy with making them a reality, but to in fact lay out a plan for yourself starting at the mountain peak, and scaling back to all of the practical and reasonable steps you will need to take to get there. Take the reins, hold yourself accountable, and don’t give up. Allow yourself to be inspired by each step in your journey. I absolutely believe that life is what you make it. None of us can know for sure how much time we get, so why not make life fantastic?