The Power of Serendipity

serendipity

So much of life depends on chance meetings, twists of fate, or pathways that suddenly branch out in a new direction. -Deepak Chopra

The quote above is one of my favorites. It embodies all that is true about serendipity, or finding great things by chance. These words have been represented in countless ways, from “Stop searching and it will come to you” to “Go with the flow.” In other words, we will get what we deserve when we least expect it, and life’s twists and turns are an important part of the path we’re meant to go down.

I want to share part of my life story with you – the story of how all of my dreams came to me by chance…

When I was a junior in high school, a friend suggested that I write for the school newspaper with her. I’d always enjoyed English more than any other subject, so I thought, why not? It was a path I’d never expected to go down, but I loved every minute of it. Interviewing people was a way for me to come out of my shell. Writing articles gave me a newfound sense of confidence.

As my senior year came to an end, our newspaper teacher suggested that I study journalism in college. He said that my writing was strong and it would take me places in life. I decided to take his advice and run with it.

One year later, I was a freshman in college, studying Magazine Journalism. I took two classes, News Reporting and Editing I, with Professor Brunson. I put my all into these classes, feeling (for the first time in my life) honest interest in the subject matter. After earning the highest score on both midterms, Professor Brunson sent me a private email. It was a message I’d never expected to receive. It was a twist of fate that branched out into the rest of my dreams in life.

He said that he was impressed by the work I’d done over the past year. He saw great potential in me and wanted to help me accomplish my goals in life. We had a meeting, discussing my dreams for the  future. He admitted me into the UCF Society of Professional Journalists and gave me the link to their Facebook page, where regular internship and job opportunities are posted.

That Facebook page is where I stumbled upon the internship opportunity at Parenting magazine. It was a life-changing opportunity. I learned the in’s and out’s of magazine publishing, writing for a magazine with millions of subscribers. It solidified my dreams, showing me that magazine writing has the power give me genuine happiness.

Last week, I stumbled upon another fantastic opportunity on the very same website. It was an internship position at Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine, located in the same building as Parenting. I slipped away from the Parenting office and went for an interview, and you won’t believe the result.

As I was writing this very blog post, about the luck of finding things by chance, I received a call from the editor of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. It happened 10 minutes ago, as I was typing. They’d love it if I would be their intern for next semester, my final semester of college.

I tell you this story for a reason.

Sometimes, things that come to us by chance have the power to change our lives completely. Don’t be afraid to stray off of the path you’re on right now. One little risk I took, to write for my high school newspaper, ended up showing me all I want to achieve in life. That one experience led to my dream of being the Editor in Chief of a magazine one day.

It was serendipity, coming across a great thing by chance, that created these opportunities. One small twist of fate led to another. The same thing can, and will, happen to you. All you have to do is be open to it. Be ready to take those risks and accept the twists of fate when they come storming your way. You never know when a fork in the road will lead you to the treasure you’ve been waiting for.

Do you have a powerful story of serendipity? Share it with me. Leave a comment.

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My Issues With Social Media

I use social networks often. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all easily accessible on my iPhone. I’ve gotten into the habit of scrolling through my news feed for quick source of entertainment. I know I’m not alone. I watch as other people go out to dinner and spend the entire meal checking their social networks instead of conversing. For some, it’s even become a nervous habit.

Checking social networks all the time may seem harmless, but it isn’t. In fact, I think it does more harm than good. There’s something wrong when someone checks a social network before getting out of bed in the morning, which I’m guilty of doing. This may not apply to everyone, but I know it applies to a large majority of social media users.

Here are my main issues with our newfound online social habits:

1. We’re constantly comparing our lives to the lives of others.

2. The lives people portray online are nothing like reality. People only put their best faces forward. 

We end up comparing our lives to other people’s highlight reels, making our lives seem inferior. Some of you may already know this, but it occurs mostly on a subconscious level, so it could be oblivious to many others. Checking social networks seems like curiosity, but it’s actually an infatuation with the way other people live. We want to know how we rank in comparison to everyone else out there. We post things because we seek other people’s approval.

It’s important to know that people’s lives are not as great as they appear on social networks. Everyone has their down times, negative thoughts, and troubles with life. I don’t want people to think that my life is always positive, just because I write a blog about positive thinking. I struggle with thinking positive daily. I write this as a reminder to myself and to all of my readers.

My wish for you – embrace your life as it is. Don’t ever catch yourself thinking that someone else’s life might be better than yours because it seems that way on Facebook. Who you are right now is beautiful and one of a kind. Also, stop using social networks to seek approval from other people. Their approval isn’t needed.

In an effort to see only the beauty in my own life, I’m not going to check any social networks today. One day may seem like nothing, but it’s a big deal for someone who checks them periodically throughout the day. Break the habit with me. If you think you can handle it, give it a shot.

Giving Thanks

I’m baking cheesecake-filled pumpkin cupcakes this morning with cream cheese icing. They’re a Fall/Thanksgiving tradition of mine. I have to wait about 3o more minutes for the cream cheese to reach room temperature, so I thought, why not write a quick post while I drink my coffee? In honor of Thanksgiving, here are a few things I’m thankful for.

1) My family. It pains me that I can’t be with them today, but they’re with me in my heart. My mother and father are my biggest fans. They give me endless support in everything I do. My sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents are all my lifeline. Words cannot express how thankful I am for each and every one of them.

2) My boyfriend. He came into my life at a time when I had no hope left in love. He’s been a part of it ever since. He’s my best friend, always there for me, always making me smile. He puts up with my daily mood swings and sarcastic comments. He loves me and all of my flaws. This man would never let me go. What more can someone ask for?

3) My friends. I have many acquaintances, but not many true friends. There are a select few who I know will always be a part of my life. We could spend weeks or months apart and it wouldn’t change how close our friendship is.  I treasure this kind of friendship. Thank you for always being there, making bad decisions with me, and never judging. You know who you are.

4) The opportunities I’ve been given. I’m thankful for the chance to go to college and earn an education. Not everyone is given this opportunity, so I want to give thanks for it. College has given me endless opportunities and chances to improve myself. I’ve met some of my best friends. I’ve learned who I am and who I want to be. My future is bright because of this opportunity.

5) You, my readers. My blog readership is still very small.  I want you all to know that I can see each and every page view. There are days when only one person will look at my blog. I wish I could see who that person was and thank them. Each individual view of my site fills my heart with gratitude. I’ll forever be thankful for anyone who is touched by this blog and my writing.

 

It’s time to bake some cupcakes. What are you thankful for today? Leave a comment.

A Letter to my Fellow Procrastinators

There’s a good chance (if you’re a bonafide procrastinator) you’re reading this blog post as a way of procrastinating. It’s more appealing to read an entertaining blog post than to write an essay or do the dishes. I only know this because I read other blogger’s posts as my own way to put off more important things.

I’m even writing this as a way of procrastinating, right this very moment. I’m sitting on an airplane, avoiding the homework I know will be put off until last minute, and writing this blog post instead. I am the queen of procrastination.

There are times when I feel like my work comes out better when I have no time left finish it. There’s something magical about that last hour before a deadline, so I wait until that time is near before even starting. I know I’m not alone. I’ve heard from many procrastinators who do the same thing, those who say that it makes their work better too.

But is this just something we tell ourselves? Could it simply be a way to justify our own laziness? Think about it. If we would just begin working on something when we initially hear about it, then revise and revise until the deadline, of course it would come out better than our quick and easy version.

It never works out that way though. I think this might happen because our minds will do anything to avoid hard work. We tell ourselves the most ridiculous excuses, or spend hours doing useless tasks before getting to what really should be done.

I clean the house whenever I have a large homework assignment due. And I’m not talking about just wiping down the counters – I put every little thing away, make the bed, vacuum, and do the laundry, all before even looking at my homework. Every single time.

This, of course, is ridiculous. I’m aware of that, which is the first step to recovery.

So, how do we stop procrastinating?

I can’t remember exactly where I heard this advice. I think it was on Zen Habits, the blog written by Leo Babauta, but I’ve never forgotten it since.

Here is one easy way to stop procrastinating: Start. Just start whatever it is you’re avoiding. Once you take that first step, the annoying task will become effortless. This is what I tell myself when I know I’m procrastinating and have no desire to begin. I tell myself that all I must do is start, and it works every time.

I knew I needed to write a blog post today, but I wasn’t sure how to stop avoiding it. So all I did was begin. I began to write about the topic of procrastination, and everything flowed from there. Apply this technique every time you find yourself avoiding something. All you have to do is start.

But don’t always beat yourself up over procrastinating, like I do. Sometimes it’s good to take a break and relax. Another quote I always remind myself of from time to time is this one:

Time you enjoy wasting is not a waste of time.

What are some of your peculiar procrastination habits? Do you think we really work better at the last minute, or is it just an excuse? Leave a comment.

What’s Love Got to do With it?

Love has everything to do with it.

By it, I mean positive thinking and following your dreams. I’ve shied away from writing about love, all because one male reader told me he didn’t want to read blog posts full of “mushy love stuff.” That’s understandable. This love is much more than that.

The love I’m talking about is love for all things. Love for your family members, love for all human beings, and love for nature are equally as important as romantic love. I’m going to delve a little deeper into those three topics, just to graze the surface of love for all things.

Love your family.

Forgive them of their wrongdoings and mistakes. Love them more than anyone. We only get one biological family in life. These are the people whose characteristics you’ve inherited and will share forever. In the toughest of times, at least in my experience, family members have been the only ones I could truly count on. Having love for your family members is the start of having love for all things. They are your foundation in life, and the most deserving of your love.

I understand that there are some family situations where love just isn’t a part of it anymore. There are tragic circumstances where family members are taken away from the world too soon, or they’ve disappeared decades ago and will never return. The effects of this can be felt for the rest of someone’s lifetime, but love them nonetheless. The relationship started as a loving one, and that’s the way it should be remembered.

Love all human beings.

This can be the most difficult love to give, at least for me. Someone will cut you off while driving or do something terrible to betray your trust. How can you love that person? You don’t have to like them, but treat them with love. The saying “kill them with kindness” applies here. Realize that people make stupid decisions. Trust that karma will take care of payback. Be the type of person whose loving attitude can’t be shaken.

Also, treat random human beings with love. You never know what one person may be going through. Your smile or simple “hello” can make their entire day brighter. Give a random compliment. Don’t bow your head in shame when someone walks by. Treat all people you encounter with love, and love will become the most powerful force in your life.

Love nature.

This is a tough one for me to put into words, mostly because it deals with our soul. The soul is a topic far too deep for the final section of this blog post, but know that our soul can be found in all things. Ralph Waldo Emerson made me realize this, a historic author who, amongst many other things, explained the importance of being one with nature.

You know that feeling of significance when you watch the sun rise, or stand on the edge of a mountain and look out at the world far beyond? That’s the mind realizing that we are a small piece of a tremendously large universe. It’s our soul that can be felt in nature, and nature must be treated with love and respect.

Love all animals and creatures. Watch them with fascination and realize that they too have a very important place in this world. Love trees and flowers and bodies of water. I realize that I’m talking like a hippy now, but these parts of nature are beautiful things. It’s important to treat nature with love if we want to live a positive lifestyle.

 

I tell you to treat all things with love for one reason – Love is powerful. Once you start to live a life that is motivated by love, fantastic things will come to you. Loving all things is a large step in living a positive life, for the rest of your life. How have you acted with love today? Leave a comment.

Seeing Positive in the Darkest of Times

Life has thrown me a curveball. Someone up above is testing the power of my positivity.

I made the mistake of leaving my purse in my car yesterday when I went to work. When my shift finally finished at midnight, my passenger window was shattered and my purse was the only thing missing. Inside was my wallet, loaded with $150 in cash, my driver’s license, two credit cards, a debit card, my pin number, and my social security card. I also had my day planner and a very important workbook for one of my classes in there, both gone now. They hit the jackpot, and I was in shambles.

The first emotions I felt were extreme sadness and regret. I could have easily prevented all of this from happening, if I hadn’t been SO stupid. I panicked, cried, and had no idea what to do. My manager called the police for me, and shortly after, the road to semi-recovery began.

When I was driving home at 2:30 AM, I felt violated. They found out everything about me… where I live, what I’m doing this weekend, when my homework is due, what classes I’m in, how much money I have. It doesn’t get much scarier than that.

I found out today that my insurance doesn’t cover the window replacement. My bank said they “most likely” won’t be able to reimburse me the $500 dollars stolen because my pin number was with the card. It was “negligence” on my part, they say. I’ll be the first to admit that it was a huge error, but does that mean I deserved it?

To top it all off, I risk being the victim of identity theft.

It’s extremely hard to see the positive side of this, but what else is there to do? I can’t sit here and dwell in regret and fear. As an inspiration to my readers and myself, I’m going to find the positives.

Here goes nothing

1. As my father said, it could have been much worse. I could have been robbed at gunpoint by whoever did this.

2. The things they took (apart from my identity, which hasn’t been completely stolen yet) are all material things. They’re easily replaceable. I’ll make more money, get new cards, get a new purse, get a new wallet. Which leads me to my next point…

3. They didn’t take away the ones I love. My family, my friends, and my boyfriend are still safe.

4. It’s a lesson I will never ever forget. I can’t stress this enough.

5. On the humorous side, I get to take a new driver’s license picture! Preferably tomorrow when I haven’t been crying all day. Goodbye awkward picture from when I was 16.

6. I will always be a better person than whoever did this to me. I will never stoop as low as they did, because I’m blessed with morals, values, and people who would never let me reach that point.

7. Things will get better, and life will move on. Without a doubt.

Where to Find Happiness

If you’ve been looking all over the place for happiness, stop right now.

You might think ultimate happiness can be found in a better career. Or that you’ll be happy once you look skinnier and more fit. Or, of course, more money would relieve all of your stresses in life…

Initially, yes, these things will bring you happiness. You’ll feel intense satisfaction when you finally earn the promotion you’ve been waiting for, or when you see a bank account overloaded with money. But how do you think it will feel after several months or years with these things?

The job you were waiting for will become just as routine as the last one. Your looks will become second nature, just a part of the package that is you. More money can buy everything your heart desires, but as the cliché saying goes, money cannot buy happiness. And that’s because these are all material things. We will never be happy if we always think the next best thing will bring us more satisfaction.

If you want ultimate happiness, there’s only one place you’ll find it.

Happiness is already inside of you, right now, right this very minute.

It’s a state of mind. Being truly happy means realizing that we already have everything we need in life to be satisfied. If you have relatively good health, and the opportunity to live another day on this beautiful planet, be happy. Too many people don’t even have those two blessings in life.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t strive for a better job, improved looks, or more money. It’s great to dream of improvement and success, but don’t expect it to make you any happier than you are right now. Once we let go of finding more happiness and realize it’s already inside of us, those achievements will come to us effortlessly.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s a good time to start thinking of what we have to be thankful for. What’s one simple thing you have that makes you feel happy? Leave a comment.

 

For Anyone Unsure About Their Future

This blog is about how to follow your dreams. I’ve realized that this might not be a relatable topic for everyone. Following your dreams is rather vague, and it’s tough to do. It asks you to solidify what you’re looking for and go for it.

But I want to make something clear. It’s perfectly okay to not know where your future lies.

Not everyone knows what they’re looking for in life. I want to assure you that with time, you will figure it out. This post is for any reader who is unsure, who hasn’t quite figured their dreams out yet. I have a few positive words for you:

1. You aren’t alone.

I know so many people who haven’t been able to figure out their ultimate goal. They wonder why they’re even putting in all of the hard work, whether it be in school or at a job that leads nowhere. They worry that they might never figure out what they want to do, or who they want to be.

In college, we’re pressured to pick one major that we’re interested in, leaving us with a limited number of career options. Do you think everyone suddenly figured out what they wanted to be and went for it? It’s extremely rare. Most people pick what sounds interesting and pray it’s the right choice later on. For some people, it ends up being the right choice, but for many others, it isn’t. This happens because they forgot to do one thing.

2. Start with what you’re passionate about.

This might not come to you right away. Many people struggle with figuring out what they love to do, but it isn’t as difficult as it seems. What is it that gives you satisfaction? Is it helping other people, or solving a difficult problem? Do you love watching sports or eating food? There’s a distinct path for everyone. If you haven’t found that path yet, build it yourself.

Doing what you love doesn’t mean that your future will suddenly be simple and figured out. But it will give you a reason to keep on striving. You can always remind yourself that you’re going after what you love, not what anyone else has decided for you.

It doesn’t matter if it takes you 30 years and five failed careers. It’s never too late to start over once you know what satisfies you. We live one life. There’s only one way to be both happy and successful – do what you love to do.

Writing is what I’m passionate about. I love putting words together that will inspire other people. What is it for you? What gives you satisfaction? Leave a comment.

Seeing Life Through The Eyes of a Dog

Several months ago, I read the novel The Art of Racing in The Rain by Garth Stein.  The book is written entirely from the perspective of a witty dog named Enzo, and starts out on the day he knows he will be put down. Enzo takes the opportunity to look at life in retrospect and reflect on the things he’s learned along the way. He shares funny, heart-wrenching, and delightful moments from the eyes of a dog.

It’s full of lessons and viewpoints that, without reading, would have never even crossed my mind. I want to share my interpretation of these lessons with you today. I want to show you two simple things we could learn by seeing life through the eyes of a dog.

1. Be selfless. 

Dogs are the only companions who love you more than they love themselves. Their entire lives revolve around you coming home, feeding them, and scratching their bellies. They sit at the window, peering out, waiting for your arrival. As soon as we arrive, they jump up and down with pure delight. This selfless behavior makes us feel so good inside. It shows us that we’re loved.

Meanwhile, we often walk around in a bubble thinking the world revolves around our lives. In reality, everyone else is walking around thinking about themselves too. Imagine how much more fulfilling our lives could be if we treated other people with the selflessness of a dog. Instead of worrying about ourselves, we could put their love and attention first. Take a minute to think about how you can make someone else feel great about themselves.

2. Be content with where you are.

The picture I used above is a great example of this. Ace is my boyfriend Rob’s dog, but I’ve quickly become his second favorite person in the world. And Ace loves it when I do the laundry. He sits on the bed (not always directly on top of the clothes) and watches as I do my human thing, putting all of our clothes away. He never complains, whines, or wants to be somewhere else. He’s pleased with the present moment, delighted to simply sit and be with someone he loves.

Take one moment today to sit and be delighted with where you are right now. Don’t worry about what you have to do tonight, how you’re going to pay bills next week, or where your life will be 10 years from now. Think like a dog and appreciate the beauty of the present moment, because this is the moment that truly counts.

Unexpected Dreams & Success

Sometimes, it’s the dreams we never even knew we had that prove to be the most fulfilling.

I wanted to write a quick post about a small dream that came true for me, a dream I didn’t even know I had. As I said in my last post, I’m doing an internship at Parenting magazine right now. I’ve been dabbling around in all areas of work, trying to find my niche.

I recently started writing posts for the Parenting – Show and Tell blog. My first post received 27 Facebook likes, 6 tweets, and zero comments. It wasn’t much, but to simply see my name on there made me feel proud. I decided to write to the online editors the next day and ask if I could do another post. They suggested I write about a boy who wrote a letter to the NFL, asking if they would use pink penalty flags for breast cancer awareness.

My mom called me today telling me that my post was the first headline on the AOL homepage. In three hours, the blog post went from having 20-something likes to over a thousand! It went from zero comments to 128, which is more comments than any of the Parenting posts have received this month.

It’s such a gratifying feeling to know that such a large number of people care about something I wrote. This is the dream I didn’t even know I had. When I wrote the blog post, I remember thinking to myself “People are going to like this…” and look at the result. I wrote it for fun and entertainment, and it turned out to be something thousands of people liked.

This is why I push you to follow your dreams in any direction. Things won’t always go down the path you have planned, but sometimes, the new path is the one you were meant to go down. I hope and pray that one day this blog, Powerful Belief, can reach the same kind of appreciation. I hope that I’ll unexpectedly write about something on here that inspires thousands of people.

From now on, I’ll be doing my best to write posts for Powerful Belief on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, and Friday’s. Please leave a comment here and let me know your thoughts, your dreams, and if anyone is out there reading this!