#AtoZChallenge | Awareness

A swan swimming with it's image mirrored on the water.
Image by Krzysiek from Pixabay


Awareness is a state of having knowledge or consciousness.

Whether it’s being aware of your surroundings or of your own self, it does take mindful effort. Unlike the Zen masters who are trained to be in a perpetual state of awareness, the average person is not.

That’s mainly due to the disciplined instruction those masters undergo and the lifestyles they lead. I doubt that a day in the life of a Zen master looks anything like ours!

However, we’re all capable of learning to be more aware.

Self-awareness means being aware of your own identity, which is unique to each person. Our abilities, thoughts, and experiences make up who we are and how we see ourselves. Our minds store information about past events that condition how we feel and react to similar things in the future.

It’s important to notice these responses and identify any preconceptions or conditioning. Only then can we make the necessary changes to become more self-aware.

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” ~Abraham Maslow

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of the best-seller Emotional Intelligence (EI), believes that self-awareness is the key to EI. Being able to manage our emotions and thoughts as they occur enable us to act consciously versus reacting passively.

Studies have shown that self-aware people are generally more mindful and self-reflective, as well.  


So, how do we become more self-aware? There’s lots of great advice out there, but I found the following items helped me when I was seeking to know myself better:

  • Honesty – It’s crucial to be impartial when doing a self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses; you must be honest.
  • Journaling – Recording daily events and how you react to them, noting the accompanying emotions. This can help identify reactionary patterns that may need adjusting.
  • Mindfulness in communications – Becoming a better listener to yourself and others. This includes body language and any “automatic” responses…without judging. 
  • New perspectives – The goal is to gain clarity of the relationship you have with yourself and other people.

Know Thyself

The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” is a challenge for everyone. We all possess a particular worldview, shaped by societal factors such as: economics, religion, education level, family size and structure.

Changing that worldview isn’t easy and was years in the making. It took a life-altering event to realize that I didn’t truly know or appreciate myself. The choices I made were based on preconceived notions of who I thought I was. Comparable to peeling away layers of wallpaper, it was a joy to finally reach the real “me.” Unencumbered with the old fear and doubt, I was able to grow in wonderful ways.

I bought the framed aphorism above, which states “gnōthi seauton” (know thyself) and placed it in a prominent spot. This is my daily reminder that self-awareness must be ongoing in order to live an authentic life.

And anything less than authentic is phony.


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Thankful Thursday | Rituals

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Getting out of bed in the morning sure has changed.

For one thing, it takes a lot longer. There’s a series of stretches that must be done before I actually get up, as my back and legs are a “tad” stiff.

But, that’s after removing the night splint I use to ease the plantar fasciitis in my right foot.

Of course, I have to first take off the cotton gloves that cover the Bag Balm, slathered on my hands the night before to treat the dry skin of psoriasis. Otherwise, the gloves get stuck on the velcro straps of the night split.

Gone are the days when I hit the ground running. Running to get the kids off to school and myself to work. Thankfully, I didn’t require stretching or anything else, because there simply wasn’t time.

When I think back to those days it amazes me what I accomplished inside of twenty-four hours. These days I have to pace myself or risk pulling a muscle. 😉


One thing I’m truly grateful for this week (and everyday) is my morning coffee. And, more importantly, the time I have to enjoy it.

Knowing the Keurig awaits is all the incentive I need to get out of bed despite the annoying delays.

What is it about a simple cup of Joe that gets coffee lovers moving in the morning? One estimate says 64% of Americans drink coffee everyday. Is it the bold taste of the beans or the caffeine rush? Is it the heady aroma that tantalizes our olfactory nerves?

I believe it’s a combination of all those things, as well as the ritual itself. Humans are known to be creatures of habit. Our habits or rituals give us a sense of security and provide structure to our schedules and meaning to our everyday lives. 

man wearing black crew neck shirt and black jeans

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

But, when we’re younger we often don’t have the opportunity to truly enjoy them. Careers and family responsibilities take up a great amount of our time and energy. That cup of coffee is usually gulped down from a travel cup as we make a hurried commute to our next destination.

For example, the young man in the photo above is putting on his shoes as his coffee sits cooling in the background. The building across the street signals that he lives in the city and there’s probably a steady stream of interesting people on the sidewalk below. If it were me, I’d be drawn to the window, to relax, sip the java, and people-watch. But, he probably has to get to work, school, the gym, or someplace else. He probably won’t have time for another 30 years, or so.

These days I have the luxury of less work and more time. The kids are grown and flown. My job is part-time with long weekends and the summers off. The housework doesn’t require the same level of attention as before. Everything is easier, albeit somewhat emptier, at times. However, my hobbies and ongoing projects fill up any voids that come along. 

The morning routine is to enjoy my cup of Joe at a leisurely pace, planning the day’s chores and activities according to my schedule. While this schedule demands some age-related conditions like morning stretches, it also allows a little dreaming over a second and, sometimes, a third cup of coffee.

And that’s a ritual I can really get behind!