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One Thing That Changed EVERY DAY of My Life in 2012

Photo: Toan Lam, Journal by: Caroline Harper

I’ve never really made New Year’s resolutions. But last year, I resolved to do one thing that changed me (from the inside out) every day of 2012.

I finally got around to keeping a journal — why did I wait so long?!

It’s not just one of these woo woo journals for the sake of saying you keep a journal. Instead of a sole gratitude journal, I started an evidence/gratitude journal — inspired by two people, one of whom I know, another who I will know or at least meet one day: Devyn Rush and Oprah Winfrey.

I’ve always been a fan of Oprah and have always kept her crusade to inspire folks to keep a gratitude journal in the back of my mind. It sat on the back burner until December 19th of 2011 — that’s when I finally lit the flame.

An inferno of miracles ensued.

I always thought, why keep a journal? I am present now, enjoying the now already. Well, what I realized is that this is where the magic happens — when you actually put them down on paper, effervescence happens… your thoughts manifest into something tangible, something real.

 

My friend Devyn Rush, a former American Idol contestant who is also a national spokesperson for U.G.L.Y., a bully prevention organization, told me about this journal, “Building the Best You.” If you get the privilege to know Devyn, you will walk away feeling reenergized by her infectious positive energy. At her behest, I decided to finally put pen to paper and took the penning plunge promise. My goal was to write in it everyday — I knew this would be a big feat for me because I get bored easily — but I’m proud to say I did it. Woo hoo. And whoa! Wee. Wow.

This viscerally changed me from the inside out.

What’s the difference between a gratitude journal and an evidence journal? The evidence part is when you log what you did for the day — then the gratitude part is when you write down things that unfolded that you’re grateful for.

Everyday I wrote down what I did that day, then at least five things that I was grateful for. The Building the Best You journal is a two year journal, each page is split in half. The left fold is year one, the right fold, year two.

I remember Oprah saying, “Some days I’d be grateful for seeing a squirrel in the park.” And boy wasn’t that the truth. She’s right, it doesn’t matter how simple something seemed or the lack of things you felt grateful for, it’s the fact that you’ve put this gratitude exercise into practice. And like a muscle that is put into action, I’ve become more aware and conscious of the beauty surrounding my life everyday. My favorite author, Eckhart Tolle, calls this “awareness.”

No matter how bad my day was, I found myself grateful for the lessons that came in different ways, shapes and forms. I started searching for things that I was grateful for during my days: a phone call from a loved one, discovering yet another street-corner style hero to feature in my nonprofit, Go Inspire Go, or a walk with a friend along the pier. It became habit.

I randomly flipped through my journal a couple of nights ago and was happy to see that I was grateful for “being present” and “my breath” and feeling connected to something bigger than myself were constant themes. What a big accomplishment.

Among the highlights of things I’ve logged:

1. Being more present than ever before: to nature, people and my spirit — not the “ego” or “thinking thing” rather, what Tolle calls “the watcher” — my inner compass.
2. Connections to people. I felt like the Universe sent me personal and professional connections that continue to help me grow as a person as well as progress within my nonprofit, Go Inspire Go.
3. Realization that when you become present and surrender to the ebb and flow of life, you are open to receiving more. Gratitude begets more goodness (and things to be grateful for).

What I’ve realized is that the miracles have always been there; I just became aware that they were happening — which in turn created and ignited more miracles. That’s the law of attraction at work. Ever notice how when you start the day by saying, “This is going to be a bad or stressful day” — the universe delivers a “Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?” What about those days when you say, “It’s going to be a great day!”

As a kid, I always woke up thinking, “What will I learn today? Who will I meet? What will happen?” Now I go to sleep logging the days happenings, building awareness and counting my blessings. In a sense, keeping this journal brought back the child within and has taught me to unlearn certain things we’ve learned as adults and to go back to that innocent, creative, awe-filled child’s lens we all had when we were discovering the world as children.

I’m glad I finally took action to count the miracles and enjoy them fully — I’ve evolved physically, mentally and spiritually thanks to the simple five-minute exercise of keeping an evidence/gratitude journal.

Are you aware of the miracles showing up in your life everyday? Write them down and witness them multiply.

My favorite author Eckhart Tolle says that the universe conspires to help us all. “But if the shutters are closed the sunlight can not come in.”

Cheers to a new year of counting your blessings and logging the light that comes through your window.

Happy New Year — Happy New You.

Sincerely,

Toan

P.S. What can YOU do?
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Are You Scared About Life Without Oprah? (VIDEO)

Did you know there is only one "The Oprah Winfrey Show" left? It’s hard to believe, but the queen of daytime TV will soon be leaving her throne, sending young women, mothers and housewives everywhere into a sheer panic.

If you find yourself to be one of these women (or men!) wondering if there really is life after "Oprah," don’t fret. With the parody song "Scared About Life Without Oprah," Maxine Lapiduss proves you are not alone.

Watch for a cameo by "Glee" star Jane Lynch and listen to Lapiduss lament about her upcoming life without a daily does of "O" in song.

Adam Lambert is Gay: Can You Handle It?

Word on the street is that American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert is gay. This has been confirmed by him in an upcoming cover story interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Never mind that anyone with a respectable gaydar already knew this the second he walked into the audition. Now the whole world knows with absolute certainty from a primary source that Adam Lambert is sexually attracted to other men.

Adam Lambert’s gayness is making the news waves. Los Angeles Times, newspaper of one of the gayest cities in America, is already jumping all over this.

What do we all need to do as a society to make gayness as mundane and boring as brown hair and freckles? Imagine if Kelly Clarkson was interviewed for her heterosexual sexuality. Bo-ring. What is it about gayness that seems to still terrify and threaten so many people? 

After all, the California Supreme Court just last month upheld the Proposition 8 Gay Marriage Ban. If big, gay California still has a hard time accepting gay marriage, then we still have a lot more work to do.  

Here is my personal theory for why gayness scares so many people. We are afraid as a society to use more brain power than we really have to.

Take the Adam Lambert situation. What is he going to do in his future music videos? Will he have to play-act falling in love with a girl even though the whole world already knows that he’s gay? When girls listen to his songs, do they pretend that Adam is straight, or that they are dudes? Just thinking about this conundrum already makes my brain hurt.

Take also this ongoing situation of gay marriage, of whether or not this should even exist. Let’s pretend that we all live in the Republic of Massachusetts, and we are wedding planners for gay couples. Which person chooses the bridesmaids? Do we just double the number of grooms?  Do both dads give away their respective lesbian daugthers? And don’t even get me started on the gender-specific roles that have always been taken for granted–"Maid of Honor," or "Flower Girl," or "Best Man." 

Just look at how the mere presence of homosexuals makes the institution of the Western wedding all weird and complicated. Now imagine how much weirder and more complicated it would make our other pillars of society. Could it be that the rest of us are afraid to really learn how ridiculous, limiting and sexist our own heterosexual worldviews are capable of being? 

Adam Lambert is gay. So is your neighbor, your teacher, your supermarket cashier, your local politician and at least one in every eight people you will ever meet. Here in Los Angeles, Fairfax High School recently elected a dude for Senior Prom Queen. Can you handle it? Get those mental hamster wheels spinning towards change. You don’t want to get left behind now, do you? 

 

 

 

Morning Motivation: American Idol and the power of choice

The day of American Idol’s season eight finale has finally arrived, and avid fans around the country will be eagerly waiting to find out if their votes will crown Adam or Kris the new American Idol. Adam is the formidable rocker who remained true to his own inimitable style throughout the season, and Kris is the “dark horse” who surprised and delighted many around the country when he was chosen over fellow finalist Danny Gokey. Last night, voters made their final choice between the unforgettable larger-than-life originality and stratospheric high notes of Adam Lambert, or the more low-key, beautiful artistry of talented musician Kris Allen.

Everything about American Idol reflects the power of choice: the singers made the choice to audition (some did not), they chose which songs to sing, they chose the arrangements of each song, they chose what to wear, the judges made choices about each performance, and the audience made choices about whom to vote for (or not to vote, or not to watch the show at all.) The show is propelled forward, week after week, by the power of choice.

Similarly, your life is continuously propelled forward, moment by moment, by your power of choice. You choose which thoughts and memories to take with you from this present moment into the next moment, and you choose what to let go of. You choose which relationships and which job opportunities you want to pursue. You choose how to spend your time and money. And perhaps most importantly, you choose how to respond to the things that are outside of your influence and control.

Here are five brief quotes about the power of choice:

  • Right now you are one choice away from a new beginning – one that leads you toward becoming the fullest human being you can be. – Oprah
  • If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. – Neil Peart
  • It is always your next move. – Napoleon Hill
  • It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny. – Jean Nidetch
  • Man’s power of choice enables him to think like an angel or a devil, a king or a slave. Whatever he chooses, mind will create and manifest. – Frederick Bailes

May you consciously go forward today to wield your power of choice!

To read other motivational and inspirational thoughts throughout the day, follow me on Twitter:
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