6 Lessons learned during my Year of Me

6 Lessons learned during my "Year Of Me" | Sedruola Maruska

Last year, 2017, was the “Year of Me”. . . This year, 2018, is the “Year of Kindness”. Throughout 2017 there were lessons learned that directly contributed to the kindness theme for this new year. I’d like to share a few with you.

I’ve never been good at resolutions. I’m not sure why, but they never appealed to me. But at the end of 2016  I wanted and needed to do something to counter the sadness, pain and disappointment I felt. So, after reading Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person I decided to focus on “me”. After all, we are the creators of our reality right? We determine what happens in our lives by the actions, reactions or non-actions we take. So I focused on me. Which forced me to focus on my family, friends and immediate circle of influence.

When you decide to do something like that, there are going to be lessons along the way. My mom always told me “you don’t have to make your own mistakes, you can learn from someone else’s.” So I’ve decided to share some of the lessons I learned last year (and some I learned right before).

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Lesson 1 – You are not alone

You are not a singular entity. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. No matter how much you’d like to think that some things you do will only affect you, it’s not true. You are connected to those you love and those you come into contact with regularly or randomly. The decisions you make for yourself always affect someone else so decide wisely.

Lesson 2 – Taking time for yourself is wise

I love going to the spa. I love the solitude of the space and the ability to fully be taken care of so I started getting a quarterly massage. Why? Because when I’m not connected to myself or taking time for myself, I’m not very good for others. I’m more irritable, withdrawn and resentful of the people around me. So whether it’s taking half a day at the spa, thirty minutes to read a book or 5 minutes to close my eyes and breathe I count it all “me” time. I enjoy it and then allow myself to continue in all my responsibilities.

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6 Lessons learned during my "Year Of Me" | Sedruola Maruska

Lesson 3 – Be fully yourself

Do you ever feel strangled by your own need to say, be or do something? Then, instead of getting out of the situation you put on a mask, robe or aire? Yeah, stop that. Authenticity is when you tap into yourself fully and allow that person to express themselves. It’s a journey I began in 2017 and will continue along my journey. The more honest I was about myself, what I wanted, didn’t want, liked or disliked, the freer I felt. “Authenticity” seems to be a buzzword, but there are so many truths in simply being yourself and embracing who that is. It’s something that will grow, but to begin try siting with yourself for five minutes without distraction. Focus on the moment and see who and what develops.

Lesson 4 – Forgive, yourself and others

There’s a quote from the Buddha that says “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.” It’s incredibly true. The more I decided to release my anger toward any situation, circumstance person etc. the better I felt, the clearer my purpose was and the more authentic I could be in any given situation. The more I released my critical self talk, the better I could express myself. Forgiving is one of the hardest things to do, but it’s so necessary to moving forward in life. Sometimes it’s as easy as just whispering “I forgive you” and walking away knowing you’ve let it go.

Now’s a great time to follow me on Instagram 🙂

Lesson 5 – Stay open

Stay open to love, kindness, understanding, counsel, critiques, people, places, foods and everything the Universe has to offer you. Stay open to being fully yourself and present in your life. In every situation you have the opportunity to decide how to react. Take the time to think, consider then act according to the authentic person you are and stay open to the lessons. There’s opportunity for growth and learning everywhere but to see it, you have to be open to seeing.

Lesson 6 – Allow your greatness to flow

Lastly, one of the biggest lessons I learned was to allow my greatness to flow. To not only offer and give my best self in all situations, but to allow others to give and offer themselves in return. Receiving is one of the hardest things we do. We feel, at times, that it shows we’re in “need” or “weak” or “incapable”. Funny thing is, all those things may be true. We may actually be in need, weak or incapable of doing for ourselves in a given situation, but it doesn’t make us less. Once we begin to realize we’re all connected and to help one is to help many, allowing the flow is easy. Today may be my turn to give to you, tomorrow may be your turn to give to another. Keeping the flow going, making sure that when we’re in a position to give we give, and when were in a position to receive we receive graciously.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy


It’s this final lesson (there are others, but we’ll stop here) that inspired my 2018 theme of “Kindness”. 2017 ended with my breast cancer diagnosis, an amazing trip to Turks & Caicos and deciding, moving forward, how I was going to keep my theme. . . I’ll talk about that next time.

For now, I hope these observations have helped kick start some of your own. What lessons were triggered for you while reading this list? I’d love to hear your ideas on how focusing on self can actually heal and mean embracing others.

What is Authenticity and Are you Authentic?

What is Authenticity and Are You Authentic? | Sedruola Maruska

I was stalking browsing my Instagram feed the other day when something I read stopped me dead in my tracks.

The reason I stopped wasn’t because I was so in awe of the information, but that it slapped me directly between the eyes. The whole tableau was wrong which is why it knocked the air out of me for a few moments.

Here was an influencer (judging my the number of followers they had as well as likes & comments) saying something to disparage other influencers. It was a simple sentence “these people out here trying to say they’re authentic with their curated feeds, makeup and clothes.”

What? In looking through her feed it was clearly ‘curated’ because it was lovely. But why question someone else’s authenticity, hold yourself up as ‘better’ when you’re doing the same thing?

The Question

So, I since I’m on a journey of self-discovery this year, I began to ask the question. What is authenticity? How do I know if I’m being authentic or not? We’re all out here doing our thing. You may be all about makeup while the next person is all about curing disease, is one more authentic than the other?

If my area of expertise asks that I dress a certain way most of the time and you happen to catch me “out of character” does that make me inauthentic?

What is Authenticity and Are You Authentic? | Sedruola Maruska

I grew up in a religion with many rules one being no jewelry. Mind you people could wear expensive watches, brooches and other adornments, but shame on you if your ears were pierced. What’s the difference? It always perplexed me, but I digress. When I was 26 I started my downward spiral personal walk and decided, against all inner-programming to pierce my ears.

When I’d go to church (because I was not yet the heathen person I am today) I’d wear my earrings. There were two reasons for that: 1) I didn’t feel in my heart that wearing earrings were “bad”; 2) I wasn’t trying to be something I wasn’t. There were times I thought of not wearing earrings to church because I hadn’t worn them all week, but I’d always wear them. I knew that had one of the good church folk seen me wearing earrings, and I took them off for church (out of respect) I would be labeled a “hypocrite” the ultimate in inauthenticity. That was not me, so I wore them (maybe to their offense) to church every week.

To me, being true to myself was more important than what the ‘good’ church folk would think. But to them, was I being inauthentic? Did they look at me and think I was not being true to myself because I was not being true to the church teachings?

The Definition

As I pondered the question I realized I needed to consult the oracles at Merriam-Webster. Although I felt I knew the definition of the word, having someone so strongly berate others made me feel I knew nothing.

Authenticity – Noun – Form of Authentic – true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions

Hold up! Did you read that? “True to one’s OWN personality, spirit or character…” What does that mean?

It means that being authentic is being true to yourself. If you’re putting yourself out there in a way that is true to who you are, your character, values, ideas so on and so forth, you are being authentic. The only person who can know if you’re being inauthentic is you.

Being authentic is not based on what I think you should be or do, but on what YOU think you should be or do. When we encounter inauthenticity we know. Something in our spirit tells us. If we’re listening, we tread lightly, if not, we get burnt.

Inauthenticity is when you portray your marriage as the one to be aspired to, but you’re in hell on earth. Inauthenticity is when who you are and what you portray do not align. It’s not when someone looks at you ans says you’re not authentic based on what you’re wearing.

The great James Baldwin says “I can’t believe what you say. Because I see what you do.” Being authentic is when what you say and do are aligned.

My Conclusion

So, after I pondered the post, consulted the oracle and explored my psyche I came up with this: What we say, do or criticize always says more about us than it does the other. Although I knew where the poster was coming from, they showed their insecurity more than anyone elses’ inauthenticity.

We don’t need for others to fail in order for us to succeed. If we stay true to ourselves we’re better off. If I don’t like what someone is sharing, thankfully, I can stop following. I’m also free to stay the course on what I’m working to accomplish. Throwing shade on what you’re doing, because it’s closely aligned to my venture, doesn’t make me better. It means I’m distracted.

In the end I examined myself and found being true to me is my authenticity. Speaking, living & sharing my truth is being authentic.

Go, speak, live and share your truth, no one can tell you you’re not authentic if you’re being true to yourself.

It’s Free Money, Grab It

It's Free Money, Grab It | Sedruola Maruska

It’s free money and it took me a year to decide to grab it!

Have you ever contributed to a fundraiser when they’ve said your donation will be matched? That means, if you donate twenty dollars, someone else will donate twenty dollars on your behalf making your complete donation forty dollars. Those are the best times to donate because your money grows.

That’s why I don’t understand why of the 50% of us that have access to a 401K plan only 30% of us are using them. Why? But then I look at myself and I’ve had access to a 401K for over a year and I just joined. It took me a year to do something that is a no-brainer.

Reason’s Joining a 401K is a no-brainer

Why do I say its a no-brainer? Let’s consider these:

  • It’s free money! Your employer has said “I’ll help you with your retirement investment, but you have to do your part. Whatever you contribute up to ___% I will match. Your employer wants to give you extra money because you’re making an effort.
  • It’s easy money! You don’t have to think about your 401K contributions and when to sent them. All you need to do is start the process, pick your investments and live your life. It’s all done automatically with input from you once a year.
  • It’s smart! Having a 401K that grows in the background is a smart way to invest in your future automatically. In his book The Automatic Millionaire David Bach talks about how you have to pay yourself first automatically before you pay anyone else. It’s not about having tons of money, it’s about investing it automatically & regularly.
  • Tax Breaks! Investing in a 401K is a way to alleviate your tax burden because the money you invest is tax free. You’re only taxed when you take the money out, and that may mean you’re taxed at a lower rate later when you’re in a lower tax bracket.
    Right now, according to AnnuityDigest, 80% of these tax breaks goes to the top 20% of the population. . . let that sink in. . . a tax break that many can get, but only 7% goes to the bottom 60% of the population. The rich get richer because they continue to invest in themselves and get tax break associated with their investments. . . we can too!

It's Free Money, Grab It | Sedruola Maruska

Reasons we don’t join

With all this free money sitting around, why aren’t 100% of the people eligible for 401K programs, not taking advantage of the free money?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself:

  • It seems like a hassle. As silly as it sounds it seems like a hassle to have to think of one more thing to get done in your day, week or life.
  • Thinking about retirement is scary. We all like to think that we’re going to be young forever. Why do we need to think about retirement when we’ll live forever? As irrational as it seems, we all think it. We believe if we don’t think about it, we won’t get old. Think again.
  • I can’t afford it. Using the word “investing” always elicits a feeling of “oh my gosh, I don’t think I can afford to invest.” We think we don’t have the money to invest now, maybe next month, next week or next year. Right now we have too many bills to catch up on, we can’t send any to an investment.

There are other reason that aren’t mine but that I’ve heard or seen such as:

  • I’d rather give my money away
  • I’m making tons of money, I don’t need to worry about that
  • We’re rich, I don’t need to worry about that
  • I’m self-employed I don’t have access
  • I don’t want to lose money

There are counter arguments for all these scenarios which boil down to, “you can’t afford not to invest in your future while you can.”

Why I invested in my 401K

So I come to the place where I invested in my 401K this week because:

I’m young, but I’m also almost 50! I have two young kids and the free money is on the table but I’m letting it sit there. It’s not very smart or kind not to have some sort of safety net so your kids won’t have to support you in retirement.

The amount I would be investing I’d never see. I calculated that if I invested up to the amount my company will match (I wouldn’t go above that except to use another vehicle) it would amount to such a minimal amount we wouldn’t even feel it’s affects. Do you want to know how little it would be? Let’s take an example: You’re making $62K a year, your investment percentage is 5%, which is the maximum your company will match. That means you’re investing $3,100 a year ($6,200 with your company match). It breaks down to $258 a month. There are ways to adjust so the $258 won’t be missed.

If that seems like more than you can handle, here’s another way to do it. Start as soon as you can with 1% then allow your investments to grow by 1% a year. What happens then is any raises you get will offset the investment amount and you’ll never feel the pinch.

We have a lot of things we’d like to do now and later in life. If we want to live our preferred lifestyle, we’ll need to have enough squirreled away to draw from. I’m not getting any younger (although I still feel 35) and I don’t want to look back with regrets.

It took me ten minutes to start the process of investing in my 401K plan. No hassle at all!

What to consider / Action Steps

It’s time! It’s time for you to get a handle on your financial situation and think about how the decisions you make now will affect your future. The future is formed in this moment.

  1. Find out about your companies 401K plan
  2. Start your investment right away
  3. Invest up to the amount your company will match (invest in other things with extra money)
  4. Be aware of the time it takes to be fully vested. That means, for the first year, if you are no longer working a the company, only the amount you put in will go to you, but if you stay for 5 years, both your investment and the companies investment will go with you if you leave.
  5. If you change jobs you can: 1) Rollover your current investment to your new company; 2) Rollover your investment to a private IRA account; 3) Liquidate your funds but get a hefty tax penalty.

It’s free money, start investing then do more research if you’d like. If you research you can find all kinds of reasons why you should or shouldn’t invest in your 401K. Decide what’s best for you, but in the meantime, start your investments then educate yourself. If you find it’s not for you, roll it over to an IRA and keep moving.

In the end it’s your money and it’s about getting into the habit of paying yourself first automatically. Start paying yourself on a regular basis. It’s important for you and your children.