Teens Self Help

Website connected to TeensSelfHelp.com. For me is a medium to express myself and talk about my feelings. "Believe in yourself, in the power you have to control your own life day by day. Believe in the strength that you have deep inside and your faith will help show you the way. Believe in tomorrow and what it will bring. For things will work out if you trust and believe there is no limit to what you can do!" (Larry S. Chengges)

Monday, May 01, 2017

Don't Take Anything Personally

How hard it is not to take things personally! You always find in life people that make you feel bad, that judge you, that criticize you, that talk about you (for no reason at all), that bully you. I know some of us are more sensitive than others. In fact, I believe that as I’m getting older I’m becoming hypersensitive, and I must try harder not to be affected by the words and actions of others (by the negative energy of others). I always remember Maya Angelou’s quote (which I love!) “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is so true! So we must try our best not to be bothered by the negativity and “drama” that others create and carry with them. We must try to ignore their "poison."

But how can we protect ourselves from such “poison”? How can we ignore these people? People that take their frustrations, anger, resentments, guilty feelings on others? People that love to make fun of others, that call others names, that bully others in different ways. They either lack empathy, or are in such “pain” themselves that feel the need to cause pain in others. Why? And now we have a president who enjoys doing this... bullying and demeaning others, not a very good example for the citizens and young people of this beautiful country and this world.

Don Miguel Ruiz, who wrote "The Four Agreements" and "The Mastery of Love" wrote: “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world."

"When we really see other people as they are without taking it personally, we can never be hurt by what they say or do. There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally. The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don’t take it personally you are immune. Someone can intentionally send emotional poison, and if you don’t take it personally, you will not eat it."

"As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won’t need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others.”

What a beautiful message, but so difficult to follow his advice. It is hard isn't it? What a challenge we have to put this in practice for a more peaceful and happy life. We can do it! We can arm ourselves with patience toward others, and fill ourselves with compassion, understanding, love and kindness. Let's try our best to put this in practice and not take things personally - just go with the flow and live one day at a time!

"Don't let the behaviors of others destroy your inner peace." ~ Dalai Lama

"How you make others feel about themselves, says a lot about you."

"You don't ever have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It doesn't matter whether someone is a relative, romantic interest, employer, childhood friend, or a new acquaintance. You don't have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It's one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, and "continues" to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go."
~ Daniell Koepke (check her online, she's a clinical psychologist and has written some great quotes)

"Some people will never get you... NEVER. When you accept that, you will have peace and inner direction."

"One of the ugliest things in the world is a human without compassion." 
~ Karen Salmansohn

"Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution."

"Negative people give off negative vibes and are an energy drain. Surround yourself with positive people." (Womenworking.com)

"It's OK to dislike someone, but it is not OK to disrespect, degrade and humiliate that person." (Womenworking.com)

"Keep your distance from people who will never admit they are wrong and who always try to make you feel like it's your fault."

"The more you love yourself, the less nonsense you'll tolerate."

"Happiness is an inside job. Don't assign anyone else that much power over your life." ~ Mandy Hale

"One day at a time
this is enough!
Do not look back and
grieve over the past
for it is gone
Do not be troubled
about the future
for it has not yet come
LIVE IN THE PRESENT
Live in the present
and make it so BEAUTIFUL
that it will be worth remembering."
~ Ida Scott Taylor

"BE SOFT
Do not let the world
make you hard
Do not let pain
make you hate
Do not let the bitterness
steal your sweetness"

"Try your best to stay POSITIVE."


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Sunday, July 03, 2016

Poisoned Minds

I recently ordered a book called "Poison Mind" - the true story of the Mensa murderer and the policewoman who risked her life to bring him to justice. This so-called genius (a Mensa member) killed his neighbor, one of her children and a grandchild by poisoning their Coca-Cola drinks, just because he was upset that the teens that lived next-door were very loud. I heard about this story on TV, and yes! I'm fascinated with crime shows (stories of murder)! It is so hard for me to understand how some people become so cruel and angry, and so "poisoned" - that they choose to inflict pain in others, abusing them and even killing them. Some people even feel pleasure when they hurt others (even doing the most inconceivable things). Mind-blowing! I like to try to analyze the minds of others. What motivates them to commit such crimes? How can seemingly "normal" people (or what we thought were normal people) commit such atrocities?

I like to ponder things (many things), and in listening today to Thich Nhat Hanh (a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, a beautiful peaceful person) speak about "Mindfulness," "Happiness" and "Compassion" and how we can learn to accept our suffering and become more compassionate and loving toward others, some questions arose in my mind: Can human beings become so "poisoned" -  embracing anger, negative thoughts, resentments, guilt, fear and other negative emotions so deeply - that they lose control or snap and do terrible things? Can people become so afraid that they feel justified in killing others? Can people have such little tolerance toward others, and such anger, that they see nothing wrong in killing, injuring, bullying or insulting others? I'm afraid the answer is YES to all.

And then, the questions are WHY? and HOW? (how did it come to this?) and what can WE do to enlighten others? Hatred, misery, violence are not the answers! I feel that it is our responsibility to do our best to nourish ourselves with positive thoughts and emotions, "to feed our happiness" like Thich Nhat Hanh said. To make sure that our minds are not so "poisoned" and brain-washed, that we see nothing wrong with hating and harming others (physically or mentally). I also heard someone say (today) that one of the hardest things we have to learn is to "love others that are not lovable." This also spoke to me, it is so hard to do! Our goal should be to become "loving" and "peaceful" human beings and all that that entails. Learning to be patient, at times extremely patient, kind, happy, unselfish, caring and understanding people, not an easy task! But so rewarding! We must try our best to avoid conflicts (including wars), through our positive interactions with others, communicating properly and avoiding confrontations. I know, life is hard, we cannot get along with everyone, we cannot be "always" happy; but we can make it a happy life when we learn to get rid of what "poisons" us. When we learn to appreciate what we have (the good things) and understand that it is our responsibility to make our lives happy, that WE CAN DO IT, that we can accomplish and create great things, and just try our best to take it one day at a time, being mindful of the beauty that surrounds us, enjoying our many moments, our family, our friends, nature, etc.

I remember that Norman Vincent Peale (in "The Power of Positive Thinking") wrote that inspiration is like nutrition, we have to take it everyday - "inspiration and motivation are exactly like nutrition, you have to keep on taking it daily, in healthy doses." It is our responsibility to do this!

We cannot feel like victims in this life (even if many terrible things happened to us). We have to learn to forgive, to let go, to heal, to become the best that we can be! We have to, again quoting Thich Nhat Hanh, "understand the suffering that is within us and learn to be compassionate toward others." We MUST learn to love ourselves! "Happiness is like love, we must feed it." We must "be fully present in the here and in the now." "Touch the miracle that you are alive." Learn to love your life or do whatever you have to do to love your life!

Louise Hay is also a wonderful teacher! She believes in the power of affirmations. Check her out! She gives great advice and has written some great books! There are many teachers out there, find them! Find inspirational messages in books, in magazines, in websites, wherever! Positive messages! Don't poison your mind with negative stuff (you can replace "stuff" for any word you wish, anything that diminishes who you are, that makes you feel bad and unworthy, that makes you angry, fearful or anxious). You are a beautiful person (we are beautiful persons), with a special mission/purpose and a spark of greatness within us! Don't ever give up!

Always remember that to be healthier (mentally and physically) we must pay attention to our feelings, thoughts and emotions. These can poison us if they are negative for extended periods of time. We will have them, it's normal, but we must learn to let go of them (whatever it takes without harming others or ourselves). It's easy to become our own worst enemy, like they say, and there's plenty of new research making the connection between our bodies, minds and spirit. If our souls, or minds, or brains, or deeper selves (if you prefer to call it this way) are sick with poisonous thoughts and emotions, our physical bodies will suffer too.  We could get physically (and/or mentally) ill. So it's imperative to "pay attention." Take good care of yourselves! All the best to you!

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

And so it goes... and life goes on!

Here I am again trying to write something on this blog, which most of the time I neglect due to my work responsibilities and the many distractions we have today. I love "wasting" time using Facebook, creating fun exercises for my students (I teach two Graphic Design classes now), creating digital art, reading, taking care of our very old dog Lucy (17 years old) and our other pets (an old cockatiel and an old lop-ear bunny), doing things with my family, gardening, etc. And to me now, more than ever, time flies!

Why is it that as I get older time seems to go faster and faster? Who knows? I think we simply get too busy at times. One thing I always noticed, particularly in this country (this doesn't happen in Latin America as much), is that people -in general- work very hard. People work long hours, some with crazy schedules, and are always rushing. I keep telling myself "life is not a race" and yet, I have done this too. As a teacher, you not only work in school, you also work from home, and being a perfectionist is a problem - I tend to overdo it. There is nothing wrong with working very hard for a period of time, let's say a period of 20 years (or 30 years, depending on your preferences), but after that, we must learn to shift our priorities, in my opinion, and concentrate on other things that have special meaning to us, things we always wanted to accomplish but didn't have the time to do. Maybe volunteering in an Animal Rescue place, maybe writing or pursuing artistic endeavors, maybe traveling and photography, etc. (the list is endless...).

And so, life goes on! And life, to me anyway, seems to fly pretty fast, and I'm on a stage in my life where I want to SLOW DOWN and simplify my life, as much as possible. I don't want to worry about pleasing people anymore, about going out of my way to make things "perfect" or as "close to perfect" as possible. Who cares? It's okay to make mistakes! It's okay to do less!

I have to admit I was very disappointed when after working so hard for 11 years, in a school that I loved, I was let go (with five other people), just like that! It's been a struggle to come to grips with the reality that sometimes people don't care how loyal you are, how dedicated and hard you work, if they have another agenda -you do become "dispensable."

I used to believe and still believe that WE ARE ALL INDISPENSABLE (in one way or another)! It's just that some people don't truly appreciate our work, or they worry about their company's/organization's/school's financial situation too much (many times unnecessarily) and rush to fire people that don't deserve it. While other employees that are not productive, loyal, deserving and caring remain in their positions. It is an irony in so many ways, mind-blowing, but we must move on! “Let bygones be bygones,” like people say.

So here I am at another crossroad in my life, trying to decide what to do in my future. Besides teaching digital art, I would like to find more time to do the many things I love, and definitely "work" less, even if this means making a very small salary. We don't have to prove to anyone how productive we are, how much we can do, how much we have, and get so busy that we don’t find time to do the “ordinary” things that are also important in our lives. Life is not a race!

Let’s simplify our lives and find time to enjoy nature, our families, a hobby, learning something new, helping others, and doing the things that have meaning to us. Let’s do what makes us happy and what gives us life!

"Do the things that you know give you life! Don't feel bad to leave, when you know you MUST do the things that give you life." ~ Barbara Brown Taylor

According to Barbara Brown Taylor, who wrote the book "Learning to Walk in the Dark" - we must ask ourselves: "What is giving us life? What is saving our life?" Important questions indeed! Let's reflect on this.  And so it goes... and life goes on!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"What about you? What are you going to do?"

I have to admit that I loved watching Pope Francis (Papa Francisco) on TV while he was in Philadelphia. He seems to be such a gentle, humble and intelligent man; besides compassionate, caring, friendly and funny. I also loved his messages. In his homily at the Basilica he mentioned the story of Katharine Drexel and how the Pope of the time, Leo XIII asked her "What about you? What are you going to do?

These simple questions challenged young Katharine and made her believe that she had an important purpose in her life, an important mission to try to make this world a better place. She understood the importance of helping others and of giving her life to serve her church and to serve humanity - a beautiful commitment. Saint Katharine Drexel used her personal fortune to fund schools for Native Americans and African Americans. She was canonized in 2000. She was a great example to all!

We must always ask these questions to ourselves: What about me? What am I going to do? What is going to be my contribution to make this world a little better? It doesn't have to be as generous and big as Saint Katharine's contribution; but just to try our best to find ways to be of service to others. When we give our all to a cause greater than ourselves, we feel immense joy and a great sense of accomplishment. The rewards (spiritual and mental) are tenfold (tremendous) and worth it!

So, think about these questions. Think about how you can help others (your friends, your family, people in need, and even yourself). Find some time during the school year, or during the month, or even every day to do something (no matter how little) for others. Random acts of kindness will give you immense happiness, I promise! I challenge you to take this on!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Whatever Happened to Integrity and Character?

I have to admit that one of the things that really bothers me as a teacher is when some of my students don't apply themselves and cheat or try to cheat. When they don't have the discipline and self-value to try to do their best, to do their own work and to not depend so much on others to "help" them succeed in school or in life. There's really nothing wrong with getting help from others, "assistance," but when they actually copy the entire homework from another classmate (or an entire test) and they don't think anything of it, it drives me crazy! I guess I take it personally… (I shouldn't). I know many think they can get away with it! Luckily, this is the exception rather than the norm, or at least I hope so!

Some students show lack of care, integrity, character, responsibility and have an "I don't care about school" attitude, this is what annoys me to no end! It's a slap on the face of their parents, their teachers, and the caring people in their lives (and the millions of people in this world who would do anything to have the privilege to get an education like them). Their parents are paying very high tuition and believe their daughters are doing their best and taking advantage of a good education; when in reality they're just "fooling around." They have no interest in pursuing worthwhile goals; they don't like to challenge themselves...

I know students feel overwhelmed many times (with school work and extra-curricular activities, including regular work) and they have the pressure to "achieve," to get good grades, to try to get some sort of scholarship for college; and I know that now a days, with so many "distractions," it's hard for many of us to stay focused. Many people take the easy way out - they don't do their own work and they copy many things from the Internet, just changing a few things here and there (to not make it so obvious). As things get harder in a course, they struggle more and they will try to "copy" more from others because they haven't been keeping up with their work and studying. As teachers, we prefer when the students are honest and explain to us the real reason or reasons why they couldn't complete their homework - we'll gladly accept it the next day (or another day); or why they are not prepared to take the test, and we'll give them an extra chance (even re-test them many times).

The good thing is, there are a lot of good responsible students out there too - students that take pride in their work, students that are conscientious and hard workers. These are the students that inspire me and challenge me to become a better teacher, they bring me joy - I admire them and I'm proud of them (like their parents must be too). Most of my students are very respectful, loving and happy girls! I know many don't realize yet that they're responsible for their own lives, and that they are the ones who create their own future with their actions, thoughts, intentions and hard work. I hope I can inspire them to become responsible and honest individuals, and to use their talents in positive ways. Integrity and character do matter!

Of course a big problem is that so many people (famous or well-known individuals) give them the wrong example. We're constantly hearing stories of the athletes who cheated for years, the composers or writers who stole or used someone else's work, the judges or politicians who accepted gifts from others, etc.

Remember... YOU CAN BE A TRUE WINNER!

Winners are People Like You (a favorite poem of mine)...
If you choose to be a winner!

Winners take chances.
Like everyone else, they fear failing, 

but they refuse to let fear control them.
Winners don't give up.
When life gets rough, 

they hang in until the going gets better.
Winners are flexible.
They realize there is more than one way 

and are willing to try others.
Winners know they are not perfect.
They respect their weaknesses while 

making the most of their strengths.
Winners fall, but they don't stay down.
They stubbornly refuse to let a fall 
keep them from climbing.
Winners don't blame fate on their failures 
nor luck for their successes.
Winners accept responsibility for their lives.
Winners are positive thinkers who see good in all things.
From the ordinary, they make the extraordinary.
Winners believe in the path they have chosen even
when it's hard, even when others can't see
where they are going.
Winners are patient.
They know a goal is only as worthy as the effort 

that's required to achieve it.
Winners are people like you.
They make this world a better place to be.
~ Nancy Sims

"Character is what we are when no one is looking. It is not the same as reputation or what other people think of us. It is not the same as success or achievement. Character is not what we have done, but who we are."   
~ Bill Hybels

"Integrity is all about truly being in private what we profess to be in public."   
~ Robert C. Crosby

Check: Integrity and Character (click the link)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Don't let others define you... DEFINE YOURSELF!

Lizzie Velasquez is a true inspiration. She suffers from a very rare condition that prevents her from gaining weight. People have made fun of her, bullied her and told her she would do the world a favor if she killed herself (how cruel others can be at times), yet, she hasn't given up. All this has actually inspired her even more to become a great person, accomplish her goals (she has many) and live a happy life. Awesome human being! She chooses to be happy no matter what! We can all learn so much from her!

Please watch videos of Lizzie Velasquez - she's a true inspiration! I hope some of her videos inspire you to feel better about yourself, to stop putting yourself down, to learn to love yourself, to try to reach for the highest star. Don't EVER allow others to label you and define you; you must define yourself!

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

TOO MUCH NOISE!

"A life full of noise is a life without relief or space to simply be."
~ Mark Owen-Ward

I was thinking the other day about how "noise" negatively impacts our life day in and day out; especially in this day and age of digital technology, and how we don't even realize it. Noise is everywhere! And we kind of get used to it, since most of the times we cannot tune it out. More and more, "noise" in unavoidable and a nuisance, perceptible or imperceptible. Wherever we go we are subjected to the loud and annoying ringtones of cell phones, loud conversations, TV's, radios, car stereos, and the outdoor noise of planes, cars, trains, all-sorts of machines, etc. We must understand that excessive noise causes us a lot of stress. We must also learn to be more considerate of others and produce less noise - "our noise" affects others.

High noise levels can contribute to many health problems and also affect our ability to concentrate and focus on specific tasks. It definitely raises our cortisol levels, thus making us more susceptible to disease and affecting our sleep. Our bodies experience the so-called "fight or flight response" too often, and our heart responds by increasing its rate and blood pressure. Our digestion and other bodily functions are also affected. We need to find quiet moments during our day in order to recharge ourselves and be more productive, and feel more energized. "Quiet" feels good after a hectic noisy day. Find time to relax ("chill time"), to listen to relaxing music, to write, to read, to exercise, to enjoy nature, to pray - time to avoid indoor and outdoor noise. Time to go within... All of us need quiet time, wind down time.

I like to do Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a gentle way to fight stress. Tai Chi is a Chinese system of slow meditative physical exercise designed for relaxation and balance and health. I attend Tai Chi classes once a week and practice it at home. It helps me relax, because I have to concentrate on the movements and on my breathing. I truly love it. But, simply walking and paying attention to your breathing and enjoying your surroundings is another great way to relax. Find time to enjoy nature, to be mindful of the beauty in our world!

We are all extremely busy most of the time, we thrive on "busyness" and have a hard time relaxing. We feel like we are in a race of sorts, and have a hard time slowing down and stopping what we are doing - it's the sign of the times. But no matter how busy we are or get, it is imperative to find "me-time" and "quiet-time." Trust me! This doesn't mean that we shouldn't at times blast our favorite music, or sing out loud or enjoy "loud" people - just that we must try to find some time in the day to embrace "silence."

Try your best to find this very special time every day, and you will discover how much better you can feel and how much more productive you can become by embracing this discipline of "quiet time."

"Quiet yourself and listen to your heart..." ~ Jack Kornfield