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This is Terri.

She used to be a control freak. She thought if she planned out her life, it would keep her safe.

Safe from embarrassment, failure, reprimand.

She spent lots of energy and time making sure she knew what came next and how she would deal with what came next.

She forgot how to live in the present.

She lost the joy that comes in the freedom of being.

The beauty of nature.

Taking a walk with no idea where you are going.

She lost touch with fun.

She forgot how to play.

She grew more and more desperate to be accepted.

She tried making everyone happy.

But then she only felt lonelier and lonelier inside.

She became an island.

Being an island was awful.

She reached out but no one would help her. Or so it seemed.

Everything new she tried just left her frustrated and to her horror she became a negative nelly.

She was everything she hoped she never was.

She grew darker. She hung on tighter to things she should have simply let go.

She tried harder. It only drove people further from her.

She swore she would do better, be better, and she set goals, to-do lists, and set out to make them happen.

When she realized that nothing was working. She gave up. She let herself fall apart.

Hit rock bottom.

And it was there in the dark she realized it was all up to her.

If she could remember who she was before the world told her she wasn’t enough, or wasn’t good enough, or needed to do it better, she might be able to turn herself around.

So she set out to find herself. Indeed, she gave herself permission to move way out of her comfort zone, to change her mind, to fail at things, until she was able to remember what made her happy.

What made her laugh. What made her cry tears of joy. What inspired her. What made her lose track of time. What calmed her when she was feeling overwhelmed.

In time, she began to remember trees held a magic power for her.

Freedom from a strict schedule allowed her the spontaneity to ignite her creativity.

Laughing at herself was so helpful to quieting her mean voice.

No one was perfect.

No one expected her to be perfect.

Everyone who truly mattered would accept her transformation from who she had become into who she was always intended to be.

She suddenly began to accept she was loved beyond measure.

She was worthy of all that she wished for.

She was intimately connected to the world.

She was supported by the universe and those she loved.

She mattered.

And she embraced herself.

Wrapping her arms around herself she began to believe in her own power again.

And she felt free to be herself for the first time since she could remember.

She had forgotten how good it felt to be fully in her own footprint.

Begin Within FREE Worksheet
 All your answers begin within you.

All your answers begin within you.

I have developed a simple (yet often profound) worksheet to help others find their way back to themselves. While all the answers are within you, you have to start reconnecting with your true self to uncover them. Happy digging in. Enjoy!

Free Downloadable Worksheet

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Fearless In Faith
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I was lucky enough to be able to meditate in the woods today, and in my favorite magical spot despite the intermittent precipitation that fell from the sky in great wet globs. (I thought it was rain, but it looked like hail and felt like s-n-o-w). The protection of a large poncho kept me warm and dry as I hunkered down on a fallen log and tuned in. When I drew my oracle card this morning it told me who to call into my meditation to give me some direction, and they did not disappoint. This is what I heard:

People will have you follow rules they themselves have made, or been taught, because they are afraid to trust their own way. Do not fear following your inner guidance; it will never lead you astray. Ego, fear, greed, hate, or a need for power will lead you down the wrong paths. Believe in your goodness from within and listen to your higher self. Do not be afraid to do it your own way.

I have been struggling with what comes next for a while now. Loving the life I have created, cherishing the peace in my life— I still yearn for the elusive “more”. I came across this post I had written over four years ago now and it fit well with my message this morning, and just in case someone else needs to hear it, I am sharing.

Words from 2014……

Finding my faith again, my spirit.

That part feels so much better. I have connected with God again -- in my own way. And this time, it is good enough. No one will be able to tell me it isn't enough, or it isn't real. Because on that point I am fearless in my belief that what I believe, how I talk to God, how I pray, what I believe to be truth --is perfect. For me.

I don't look like you and I am not you, I am only me. And that means it is okay to find my unique path. My direct line to the creator, the universe, the Great Spirit is perfect just the way it is. I don't need you to okay it. To even believe it. Please don't judge me and make me feel bad for what I believe. We are all on our own unique journey to make sense of what we are taught and what we really believe.

I have stood firm in my beliefs (even as I continue to figure them out) to those who judge my version of faith simply because it is different than theirs. And they have walked away.

Nearly all of my life this kind of abandonment would have left me feeling like I had done something wrong, that I wasn’t good enough. Now I see that letting the wrong people into my sacred space might have been a miscalculation on my part--but it has also taught me a valuable lesson.

Some people are not ready to stand in their truth. Some are actually more fearful than I am. We are all at different points on our journeys to faith, no one is farther than anyone else ---just in different places. Some people will leap ahead only to have to stop and backtrack, some will plod slowly forward making progress, and some will stay in their endless loop, repeating lessons -- staying safe.

I will find my own path and I will be fearless in my faith.

Who Am I?
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I am Vibrant, Intuitive & Wise.

I crave Freedom.

I can't live without Love, Sun & Trees. And possibly potatoes (specifically french fries).

I want more Spontaneity in my life.

Stillness, Laughter and Nature fuel my soul.

My best self leads by example and empowers others to reclaim their personal power.

I believe in uniqueness and think in possibilities.

I often overthink especially at night when I am supposed to be asleep.

It still bugs me when people don't like me, yet I am learning to let it go.

My brain will remember random things about you, but totally forget your name.

I am a natural hostess often knowing what you need before you do.

I see colors behind my eyes and sense innermost feelings people do not express, which sometimes gets me into trouble. 

Objects, especially old ones, speak to me on a frequency I cannot understand but can feel in my body. As a result I avoid museums, antiques and old places.

Grounding and shielding have brought me more inner peace than I can ever explain.

I am inspired by children, confidence, nature and genuine kindness.

Yoga is my gateway to happiness and allowed me to reconnect with my true self.

Life used to be black and white for me, filled with judgment and comparison and ridiculous rule following. It was exhausting and frustrating. I have left all that in my wake.

I have learned no one has the right to make me feel small, less than or unworthy. My worth comes from within. When someone bullies, shames or ridicules me, it is about them trying to feel bigger.

When I cannot see the path ahead, the next step is inward.

I recharge by sitting or walking in nature, creating art, writing & resting in the sun.

I believe I have a purpose that is yet to be revealed.

Going With the Flow
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I'm in my happy place, a week earlier than normal. That should be a great thing, right?

It however, looks more like a snowy winter's morning outside than the spring it should be. Once I might have been bummed, as no walk with my trees is happening today. Instead, I am going with the flow. Change of plans. I've got plenty of things to catch up on inside.

This go with the flow attitude, this new way of thinking is still a little foreign to me. I do not love change. I do not love the unexpected. It upsets my inner rhythm. It makes me feel a little off center. A tiny bit unsafe. I like the feeling of contentment that comes from a routine, a familiarity of sameness I can count on. So when changes, big changes, loom, I get a little freaked. In the past, I would get sad and cry a lot. In my present state of living life without a mapped out plan, I am opting for the glass half-full perspective.

This life change is going to be fun. This empty nest thing will allow me the freedom I crave. More creating time. More time with my love. More fun.

I know change is necessary or you become stagnant (which might be a nice word for stuck). I dislike being stuck more than the uncertainty changes bring, therefore I am practicing what I preach, and trusting the flow of life.

My girls are moving to their own place this week, moving their things and themselves out of our house. The boys have essentially been gone for a while. That means we will be empty nesters. Just the two of us in this big, quiet house. It is, as all life changes are, bittersweet; both exciting & sad.

I am so happy for the girls moving onto their next step of the journey, and also sad for Papi and I who will miss their constant and very alive presence in our home and lives.

The positive benefits of this change I am choosing to embrace are that I will have more actual play time with Nollie. My attention and time won't be shared with house duties, work, dance practice and cooking. I will now have the quiet time needed to get my stuff done and be ready for spontaneous fun with my little love when she comes over to play. I am so thankful for that!

Incredibly the March 31st snow is seriously piling up outside right now, but instead of being sad that a walk to clear my head with my friends the trees isn't happening, I choose to clear my head by writing out my feelings. This is all going to work out the way it is supposed to.

Breathe. Just breathe. I've got this.

P.S. Hello blog, it's nice to be back.

Reflections on a Snowy Winters Morn
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Time goes faster the older I get. I didn't anticipate this as a kid sitting on my warm driveway soaking up the endless summer sun. I wish now I would have made a point of appreciating the freedom I had then, the clarity of thought, the uncomplicated simplicity of my life. But I was a kid, who knew that life would eventually roll along at so fast a pace it would seem there was no way to step off for a mindful moment?

My parents might have tried to tell me. But as a kid, who really listens to their parents?

I spent 2017 enjoying the moments directly in front of me, being 'present' as they say, and time didn't slow down at all. If anything, it seemed to move even faster. As I sit here reflecting on the year gone by, I so want to keep each precious moment of 2017 in my heart, relishing the cuddles from my sweet grand daughter, replaying the sound of her giggles and my husband's laughter as they played together, gazing up at the perfect blue sky of a summer day at the lake. Those little things fuel my soul and make my heart sing. I never want them to forget them.

Another thing my parents may have tried to tell me way back when, is that everything changes, nothing ever stays the same.

The calendar turning to 2018 brings a brand spanking new chance to appreciate the moments right in front of me for another year. I know that I cannot recreate the ones I loved so much in 2017, but I have to remind myself there is no reason to think the new ones will be any less great.

I've learned at least one thing in my 55 years; you have to find your own joy. What things currently bring you happiness will change as you do, and as time goes by. Sometimes it means I have to dig deep for a silver lining and other times I have to fight to contain the awesomeness of the moment so I won't miss any second of it.

Life will be different for me this coming year as I can feel the winds of change blowing in. In the past I have tended to resist the unknown, to choose safe + familiar over new adventures, but I know if I do that I will become stagnant (again) and I do not want to waste this beautiful life of mine. So I will do my best to surrender to what will be.

In 2018 I will embrace what is, and graciously attempt to let go of what isn't. I will fill my heart with my own simple joys. I will continue to treasure all the moments with the members of my sweet family-- the little grand babies and nieces, my all grown up children and their significant others, the wise old ones (my parents), the one who is always my rock (my husband), and even with the ones that try my patience but give me the best of hugs. I will literally and figuratively "draw" out my own unique artistic talent by pushing past the self-critical voice I hear and find pride + promise in my work. And, I will allow my failures to be my lessons and my successes to be sweet reminders of my growth. I will shine in 2018. And if I am lucky, as I appreciate each wonderful moment, I will be able  to slow down time so I can enjoy life even more! .

Love + Blessings to you in the new year.

Namaste.

 

 

 

My Three Words to Live By For 2018
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Words are powerful and I love them! That is why choosing ONLY three words to live by for a whole year is super hard for me. I try to let the words choose me, which means I change my mind a lot, especially coming into the home stretch, the countdown to January 1.

I thought it might be helpful to look back and see where I have come from since I began this process in 2013. And to my surprise, even though it feels like I duplicate my intentions, so far I have not used any of the same words. Here is the framework of words that have shaped my last 5 years. I am hoping they might inspire you try this process and to choose your own three words to live by.

 2013 -- Simplify, Linger, Appreciate

2014 -- Clarify, Cultivate, Savor

2015 -- Freedom, Growth, Joy

2016 -- Express, Embrace, Create

2017 -- Illuminate, Trust, Thrive

What calls to me in 2018 are words that move me out of my safe zone and nudge me into a year of adventure and additional personal growth. I've been kind of coasting the last couple of years, really enjoying my life and being present to all its beautiful moments and now I feel the need for bit of change. You will see some new workshops scheduled at the studio so I can tap into the passion, talent and knowledge others are willing to share.

Here are my words for 2018: FOSTER, EXPAND & DARE.

Foster- to promote the growth of; to raise or rear; further; encourage.

Expand- to spread, stretch out; unfold; to express in fuller form or greater detail; develop.

Dare- to have the necessary courage or the boldness to try; venture; hazard.

I intend to foster my own growth and the growth of the studio and everyone who walks through our doors. I plan to expand my knowledge of holistic approaches to healing, and stretch myself into new directions becoming a student again. I promise to be bold(er) about sharing what my life's journey has taught me so far, either through my words, art or personal interactions. 

If you are interested in trying this process instead of setting resolutions destined to fail, I have a Three Words to Live By Workshop on Thursday, January 4 from 6-8 pm at the Studio. There is still room for more people to join, click here to sign up.

This process has not only worked for me, it has allowed me the freedom to grow organically in new directions and to be confident about changing my mind, and my direction, along the way.

My Vision Board Results: I Crave Freedom

I was recently reminded that things happen for a reason, and more often than not, differently than we expected them to.

I used to be a control freak, trying to plan out my days to finish my dreaded and daunting To Do list, bent on achievement. My self-care time was always put on hold until I finished this and that, or made headway on a certain project or idea. As a result, there was no me time for me to refuel and re-balance. It was not a thriving lifestyle, it was exhausting.

These days I have slowed it all down, my life, my list, my expectations--- everything. And yet I still crave more freedom, more spontaneity and more "me" time. How do I know? I made an I AM Vision Board this past weekend. It was a small group who showed up to tune in, but a powerful one. It gave me a chance to participate in the process and to recognize how making  time for yourself, to listen, to tune in, always unveils patterns we have missed.

Reading my own board, I recognize that my inner world is very peaceful now but my outer world feels messy, unorganized, stale. I crave more simplicity, less clutter, (some new home furnishings it appears) and relaxation time with no agenda.

Creating this unique roadmap for myself will allow me a chance to put forth the best version of myself, so my family, my students, my corner of the world gets the best "me" I can be. I look forward to the changes that will come as I use my vision board to guide my choices.

I am always humbled by the wisdom we all have within us, if only we make time to listen to it.

As the new year approaches we have a chance to wipe the slate clean again and start over. I highly recommend tune in time to make your own vision board, choosing your three words to live by (and not setting resolutions), and creating a framework for a year of growth and re-connection with your true/best self.

Next Vision Board opportunity with me is on Friday, December 8 from 6:30-9:30 pm. Check out the Soulistic Sisters events calendar for registration details.

 

 

The Courage Within
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I had a really good week.

I made it through a full schedule of classes without my body falling apart, I am getting into a GROOVE with my students at GVSU and I launched my new website. All three are reasons to celebrate, yet the thing I am most proud of is that I am doing them all MY WAY.

As part of the clearing out process that comes with a website/blog switch, some old posts left in my drafts are popping up. I know my last post was also about staying in the wrong place too long and what it does to a person, and normally I would not share two of the same in a row, but I feel compelled to share the message that making change is up to you.

NOTHING, no job, no person, no life situation should ever be allowed to make you feel less than. To make you feel like you constantly have to prove yourself, to make you question your worth, to suck the joy out of you. Life is not meant to be so hard.

Over 5 years ago I found the courage to let go of what was no longer serving me as I set off to follow my heart. It was a scary fantastic thing to do. The result is I now end my days with a smile, a sense of worth/belonging, and knowledge that I make a difference. The dirty feet, messy hair and sweaty clothes I come home with are an in-the-present daily reminder of this. What a difference operating from your sweet spot makes in a person's level of joy. Below is the post from my drafts, I hope my words resonate with the right person today and encourage change.

You are enough. You are worthy and deserving of joy. You have a place in this world that is meant just for you. Find it.


Courage does not mean that you possess the strength to carry on. Courage means that you will carry on when you feel that you no longer have the strength.

This is one of the first statuses I saw when I opened up Facebook this morning. Maybe it was an answer to last night's prayers asking for the strength to get through the funk I am in. Maybe it was just what I needed to realize that I need to find the courage to plow through my current problems and face my fears. After struggling through another sleepless night, and waking up to the same sad, scared, tears-really-close-to-the-surface-feeling I have experienced for the last couple of weeks, I am ready for a change. I do not want to feel like this anymore. It sucks.

I believe in being honest. So I will tell you that my blog has been quiet because I haven't been myself. I don't know what people who suffer from depression feel like, so I won't say that is how I have been feeling, but I think it might be appropriate. I will say I am stressed, beyond stress I have ever felt before. Emotional is maybe not a strong enough word.

It stems from me feeling like a failure. At work. I was hoping by now that I would have achieved a different result, I've certainly tried hard enough. But a year after I began my quest to find my place within a changing industry and a stagnant company, nothing has changed. Honestly it has gotten even worse, for me. Because now that I have tried so hard, and beat myself up every step of the way trying to make sure I was doing the right things, and they haven't worked, I now I feel that I have indeed failed. Not a feeling I am used to.
 
Lately this feeling of failure is the last thing I think about before I go to sleep, what I think about during the night when I cannot sleep, and what awaits me when I wake up in the morning. It permeates everything I do. It is wrecking one of my favorite times of year. It is wrecking the joy I feel being around my own family.
 
I hate feeling uncertain, unappreciated, unsure, heck, unwanted. I hate that there is a now a knot in my gut all day long. I was foolish enough to think that people at work would see how hard I was trying. That by me finding the courage to take some chances and think outside the box, it would count for something. That someone in management would appreciate and recognize the lengths I was willing to go to find a solution.
 
Instead my value to the company is even more in question. So much so, I felt like I was summoned to a meeting to get my walking papers last week. I didn't, at least not yet. That is never a nice feeling to experience, but it is especially hard for me because our family size has recently increased by two. At this moment in my life, my contribution to the family income, is crucial.
 
Why is it that after doing a job for almost 24 years, my opinion does not matter? Why is it that after continually attempting to share ideas, and implement them, I am questioned about what I really do, what my role is? Whose fault is it that I am in a "grey area"? Why am I, after 12 years with this company, asked to write my own job description to clear up the confusion about what I do?
 
How can I not be offended by this? And not then take everything said as a criticism? My new boss (who has been at our company for a year) told me he has no idea what I really do. How is that even possible? If someone told you that you needed to start submitting a report every Friday about what you were going to do the next week, how would you take that? I cannot "not be so sensitive". I must be wired differently.
 
I take it like this, I am a failure. If no one can see any value to what I bring to the table, somewhere I have made a crucial error. Did I fail to advocate for myself? To make sure I achieved recognition? I am not motivated by my personal gain (at least not monetarily). Job satisfaction, passion for what I do, and joy come from feeling that I make a difference. Clearly I have failed to make that difference in my workplace, I have failed to matter. And that is my worst fear realized.
 
So, I am facing it. I am now going to find the courage to carry on. This blog will no longer remain quiet. I will once again achieve success. My promise to my family is this: I will not be sad anymore. I will fix this.

When one door closes, another opens.
 
If you find yourself in a similar situation, maybe these quotes will help.
 
He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he who loses his courage loses all. - Miguel de Cervantes

Have the courage to face a difficulty lest it kick you harder than you bargain for. - Stanislaus

Hit the Road Jack
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I spent too much of my life at a job in a place that never wanted me, didn't appreciate me, who resented me even. Why did I stay so long in an environment that brought me down?

Looking back I should have left so many years earlier. I allowed the unhealthy workplace to eat away at my self-esteem, to make me question my worth, to make me feel as if I wasn't enough.

I should have walked out the first week, the first time I was demeaned by a coworker who thought they should be my boss. The first time I was pushed to tears. I don't do well with meanness, I never have, and I should have known if it happened to me on the first week of the job, it wasn't going to be an isolated event.

It continued to happen in little ways, and in big ways for 12 years. And I am sad to say, I let it. I should have walked away, dared to do something different, but I kept trying to fit in, to make it work, to fix it. It was a great place "on paper", and the job was something I could do and do well, and I loved the flexibility in my schedule. But it wasn't worth what I lost there. Underneath the pretend, I knew I wasn't welcomed by all, and trying to please, trying to prove my worth and be seen as valuable to those who would never care, was a huge waste of my precious energy.

Underneath the company's "make sure we look good from the outside" facade, was an inside filled with a good old boys network that I would never fit into. Women were second class citizens who did a lot of the work and who management allowed to be bullied by a small group of unhappy, negative male employees.

A leader, by dismissing his employees complaints or avoiding the awkward conversations to handle the inequities, in essence condones the bad behavior and allows the unfair, inappropriate bullying to continue to happen. Over time this creates an apathetic, unhealthy, unmotivated group of employees, led by the meanest of the mean. Any responsible, conscientious, highly sensitive person cannot survive unscathed working in a company with all that negative energy.

It certainly took a toll on me.

I stayed so long for several reasons; because I was scared to go elsewhere, because the flexibility of the schedule worked so well for me, and maybe deep down I wanted to prove them wrong.  I thought if I tried hard enough, they'd see my value. Therein was my biggest problem. Looking for value and recognition outside of yourself is always a recipe for disaster. No matter how great I tried to be, I was never going to hear what I wanted to hear from the management in that company, and it wore me down trying. I became anegative, critical, angry, overly sensitive shell of myself.

I am much stronger now, after several years away from that toxicity and lots of personal growth work. I was able to gain back my positivity, and my self-worth. Deep down I am still the same person I always was, but I now have confidence from within in my abilities and in myself again. If I were to have started at this place in my present state of mind, I would never have hung on so long. I would more than likely have never signed up to work there in the first place.

If life has you feeling negative, stuck, angry, sad, or numb -- take a look at it from all angles. Creating your ideal life is up to you. What situation in your life is dragging you down or making you feel you have lost your personal power? There is always a way out. Take it. You don't have to justify it to your parents, your siblings, your co-workers, or anyone else -- and don't let the naysayers tell you you can't just do what you love. They are the most stuck and will say things like that to keep you stuck as well. You can do what you love to do, if you dare.

It doesn't have to make sense to anyone else when you make changes to improve your life. If you feel the need to take a demotion, change your job or your career, say goodbye to a relationship that just isn't meant to be, or sell your huge house and live simpler, then give yourself permission to do it right now. The world will not see the full version of you, until you do. 

You have the reigns, you control the speed of your life and you choose where you work, who you stay with, where you live, and how you live. Stop listening to the advice of others who see your life from the outside as a completely different life than the one it feels like you are living inside. Shift that energy, disrupt the status quo and create your ideal life. I learned in the process that I was making life much harder than it had to be, by trying to change a broken system, to fit in where I wasn't meant to.

You deserve to be lifted up, not beaten down by the people surrounding you.  A good person, with good intentions, who has natural talent and deep sensitivity can find work or love or whatever you seek, but only if you trust in your own inner wisdom to lead the way.

Take that leap. Life is so much sweeter on the positive side.

When I Was Me
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When I Was Me...

Life was full of awe and wonder.

I was free to dream.

I was bold and brave.

Strong and magical.

Creative and kind.

I believed in myself and all my magical powers.

I saw beauty in the world even on the cloudy days.

I spent hours in the shelter of the trees dreaming of worlds only I could see.

I doodled and wrote poems without a care if they were good enough.

I saw possibilities in all people.

I believed I could do anything.

I wasn’t afraid of trying. Or of failing.

And then one day I was.

And so I stopped doing the things that brought me to peace.

I worried what it would look like to others.

I put myself into a safe little bubble to protect against the hurt.

Soon that bubble grew stagnant. Stale. Grey.

I grew farther away from me.

When I sought to bring back the color, the spark, the imagination of life, I mistakenly looked outside of myself for the answers.

I began to emulate others. I attempted to fit in. I tried hard to measure up to my own impossible standards. I looked for others to assign me worth, to show me the way.

Believing they would know the path I needed to take to help me rise to my full potential.

Instead, they rose to theirs. I faltered.

I tried again, another way. Maybe this time I hung on way too long thinking it would all become clear, and ruining whatever it was really supposed to be; a stepping stone, a launch pad, a place to rest.

Until I slowly began to realize the power was within me. Inside of me. Mine to use or to ignore. It had been there all along.

I played with it for a while. Taking a small step here and a bigger one there. I had some success, got a little braver….and failed often. Not seeing that I was moving forward I began to judge myself. And when being judged, I freeze. The what ifs began to take over, until I was stuck again. In a prison of my own making. Too scared to bust out.

Yet there was a tiny quiet voice inside that waited patiently for me to listen.

She kept dreaming, kept believing in me, because she knew I would work my way back.

One dark day I lost my way completely. Too exhausted to continue the uphill battle within myself, I fell to the cold, hard floor. Tears began to fall, and I could no longer hold them in.

After the falling apart came the eye of the storm. Calm. Peace. The quiet space where I began to hear again.

And I heard her say: welcome home.

 
My Addiction Was Control

Ever since I can remember, I craved control. It was the only way I knew to keep myself safe from making mistakes. I controlled my world to keep from being caught unawares. As a result, when my kids were younger and I was working full time, I kept myself (and my family) on a tight leash. Trying to be perfect doesn't leave much room for anything else.

I wasn't the type to be spontaneous, or to procrastinate, instead I was efficient and planned. I made lists and prided myself on checking things off as I accomplished them. It became an addiction of sorts, a worthiness booster to be organized and in control. I tried to always be ready, to be prepared for anything, to impress the world by looking like I had it all together. And sometimes I really did have it together, but the effort it took to maintain the control ate away at my happiness. And it gave more fuel to the mean voice which grew in my head, every time I fell short of perfect.

I really thought everyone lived with a mean voice, an inner critic like mine, who constantly pushed me to be better, to accomplish more, to never fail, to never give up, to never let anyone down, to be beyond reproach and who screamed about how stupid I was when I eventually screwed up. I now realize it isn't like that for everyone, and I was one of the (un) lucky ones who's inner voice took a negative and nasty turn.

Attempting to live beyond reproach is a slippery slope to navigate, primarily since it is IMPOSSIBLE. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone fails. If they don't, they aren't trying, heck they aren't really living, they are simply keeping themselves safe. No one is truly ever perfect, there is always something that can be improved upon, and hearing the helpful criticisms and suggestions given by those I was trying to impress, felt like mean jabs that lowered my self-esteem. Could they not see how hard I was trying?

"We put so much time and energy into making sure that we meet everyone's expectations and into caring about what other people think of us, that we are often left feeling angry, resentful and fearful." --Brene Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me

Desperate to hear the words I wanted to hear from others, I tried harder to attain that praise. Imagining if I was perfect, I'd hear what I wanted to hear. Yet no matter how good I got at things, my own mean voice often reminded me that I could have done it better, faster, righter: if only I had done this...or that. So I was never beyond reproach from my own inner voice, even if I had heard the words I wanted to hear from the outside.

You will never find your own worth if you search for it outside of yourself. Which is why in the end, I had a magnificent crash and burn mid-life crisis, and was forced to start the journey over.

Once upon a time on a cold day in November I took a walk and sobbed my way through the darkest thoughts I had ever had about not being enough, not being good enough, not being worthy of love, of praise, of all the things I had been given. I was convinced I had messed up my whole life, screwed up parenting, and I couldn't even get being grateful for all I had correct. I slogged through the darkest of shi* on that walk and came to decision that life as I had known it was over. I was going to take a leap of faith and jump in without a plan.

No more miss perfect, no more worrying about how it all looked from the outside, or how crazy people would think me to walk away from a good job, and a nearly 24 year industry career and start over. Worse yet, to leave without a real plan. The only plan was to not have a plan and instead learn to follow my heart. Life had gotten too hard, I had made it that way, and it was up to me to change it.

The first stop after quitting my career and walking away from all I knew, was to sign up to be a substitute teacher. I didn't ease into it that role either, I chose a two day middle school assignment as my first experience to move out of my comfort zone. It pushed me so far out, I nearly walked away from substitute teaching an hour after I started. But I stuck it out.

A friend actually saved me that day, he was working in the building and stopped by to check on me. He ate lunch with me, and calmed me down. He let me know it was okay to be scared to death, and making mistakes was natural, and convinced me no one would think less of me if I didn't come back for the second day.

To walk away would have been a bonafide failure in my book, so I stayed with that awful assignment and made it through day two, vowing to never return to that particular middle school. And all that spring I gave it my best shot, I took assignments in all grades from K - high school, special ed, phys ed, split level classrooms, I wanted the full experience. And I got it. Realizing only later, after school let out for the summer, that substitute teaching was really not my thing.

I had been keeping my life so controlled and safe it had been years since I had been brave enough to get out of my comfort zone, to allow myself to be lost, unsure, uncomfortable, and caught unawares. Since there was no way to plan your day during substitute teaching, or to follow the rules and do things "right" or perfect, as the rules changed in every school, and in every classroom (sometimes there were no lesson plans for me to follow at all), I was forced to stay in the moment. To just be myself and deal with whatever came my way in each unique situation. It was uncomfortable, especially for the control freak me, but the times I succeeded in connecting with the class, or feeling like I had actually had a good day, gave me a new sense of accomplishment. It started rebuilding my inner strength. I was no longer checking things off my to do list and judging my worth by accomplishment, I was learning to live in the moment and slowly beginning to believe in my worthiness again, from the inside.

For a person who didn't like messing up, I was forced to ask for help often, to own my mistakes, and to extend grace to myself when I handled things poorly. I not only learned to be more comfortable with making mistakes and letting go the reins of control, I learned to give myself a break and to begin quieting the mean voice inside.

If life has you stuck in a pickle, the only way out is through the darkness, through the mud one step at a time. Find the courage to begin within, start by crawling if you have to, and let the winds of change blow in their magic.

Taking It All In
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I'm not writing much at all lately.

In my dreams I am busy, a prolific writer, yet by the light of day I lose the words. In the safety of sleep, I always have ideas, good ones if my sub-conscious is any judge, and then they poof when I wake up and start my day. Oh, I could blog about my random thoughts all the time, but that "big" book idea, the story I am feeling called to tell always seems elusive during the daylight hours.

Isn't it weird how I can sit down with nearly anyone else and suddenly "know" what they should write about? I get their story. Most aren't even interested in writing their story, and yet I can see it so clearly. The story that others would benefit from hearing; whether it be the struggles they overcame, their major win against giant odds, their strength and perseverance when others would have quit, etc. It doesn't have to be a big a huge crazy life experience or trauma to be a story worth telling. Stories come from ordinary people who are living life to the fullest as their truest self. The lesson(s) they have learned are what inspire others, and gently bring others the strength to make changes in their own lives.

If I apply this thought to my book question, I come up with one major theme that encompasses all I have learned so far. Each of us has the power within us to change our life.  I think we are our own roadblock to whatever it is we desire. Sometimes we get stuck simply because we hold ourselves back from all we can be.

My message isn't a new message by any stretch of the imagination. It is, in fact, the underlying message of all of the great spiritual teachers of our generation, or at least what I hear their works saying to me. But the road I took to learn this great lesson, is my own.

I've been on a journey and I don't intend to stop learning, growing, changing, evolving, expanding, understanding, appreciating. As long as I do it in ways that feel right to me, ways that allow me to be myself without compromise, I will succeed.

I had help from great mentors along my journey and from great friends who allowed me to change and grow into me, while still loving me. Change is scary hard. Letting of your old story leaves you feeling vulnerable, naked and afloat. But in my opinion it is also the most freeing you will ever feel. And it sets the stage for you to begin growing into the authentic you.

Getting started is hard. There is no one first step that works for everyone, in fact each person's path to growth is different. But surrounding yourself with open minded, like-hearted people who are serious about their own journeys, helps.

I might be stalled right now, but I am not stuck. Far from it. I am taking it all in, observing, enjoying, being present to as much of my life as I can. To quote a song, I don't want to miss a thing, I did that once upon a time and I am not doing it again. I eventually want to write something that helps move people forward toward their best life and whatever it is they secretly yearn for: to find love, to be happier, to find purpose, to simplify their life, to create a legacy, to live without stress or whatever it is. I believe each of us has our own unique hidden desire(s), things we really wish for but think we are unable to attain because we aren't talented enough, or we don't have the means, or the time, or worse yet because we think we are not worthy of receiving it.

I know in my own life I have created roadblocks for myself. I have stopped my own forward progress. We create a lot of excuses for why we don't move in the direction of our dreams, and that has to stop.

You are so worthy my friend. No matter what your belief, or religion, or your feelings about God, you are worthy of whatever you desire. Whatever higher power you believe in wants you to succeed, wants you to shine, wants you to be your truest most beautiful, uniquest self. And finding that power within is what brings you all that you wish for.

Bye Bye Perfectionist

A couple of times recently I have been reminded that my life, my transformation back into the real me, is publicly out there on this blog when people I barely know have either asked me about it, commented on it, or referred to it. I am thrilled people have read parts of it and are intrigued enough to have questions. My whole journey began by writing it out. When I first yearned for something "more" in my life, I wasn't even sure what I was missing, I found myself writing it all out in a blog. It helped me organize my thoughts and uncover some of the feelings I was hiding deep.

It is also no secret one of my bucket list items is to write a book about my journey and what I have learned. Not to tell people "how" to do it, but to lead by example and encourage anyone they can change if they want to. My path will not ever be your path, yet some of the steps I took might help you. My roadblock seems to be in knowing how I should take what I have already written,  add in some additional thoughts, and combine them both into a book worth reading. I have always said I was a better editor than writer, but that seems not to be true in my own case.

How did I change my life? How did I transform from a rigid, unforgiving, perfectionistic, planned control freak into a freer, happier, live (a little more) in the moment me? It took a lot of inner work to shut down my inner critic, make some life (work) changes, step out of my comfort zone, and face my fear of failure head on. It took patience and trust and it took letting myself fall to rock bottom before I could see the way out. Maybe I should ask those who lived through it with me, to lend their perspectives? People I worked with, my husband, my children, my best friends. A lot of my most difficult work came from the inside. Because from the outside I faked it pretty well to those who didn't really know me. I was rarely a hot mess despite what was happening on the inside and was okay to have around (even if I was controlling) because I took charge and made things happen, running things smoothly and efficiently was my skill. But those who knew me well could see that on the flip side I was a fun sucker, lacked spontaneity and had a hard time deviating from my plan. I am determined NOT to be a fun sucker anymore. Ever.

I am still organized (in a lot of areas), that hasn't changed. And probably never will. But I know that once I quieted my inner mean voice, I found a softer side of me. I no longer want to watch life from my safe bubble, but to get down and dirty in it. To have some fun. To live in the moment. To stumble and fall, and get back up to try again. To allow myself to experience life and (if that means being the hot mess I once avoided at all cost once in while) then          so be it.

If I can change, I know if you really want to, you can too.

If you run from quiet, still, alone time, or find yourself easily bored when you do, you might be the perfect candidate to start where I did, with yoga. To me yoga is a moving meditation which uses breathing to bring a person into the present moment and put them back in touch with their body. It helped me stop overthinking, calmed my spirit and reconnected me with the inner wisdom I need to thrive. It reconnected me with 'me'. As I grow, my yoga practice grows with me. I have accepted that I will never be perfect and understand there is no "right" way to do a pose, only my way. Clearly yoga has helped me loosen up more than my hamstrings!

Your path will not be mine, but yoga is a great starting point for anyone. You may cross it off the list after trying it, or you may find like I did, that it can be a much needed lifeline to help guide you toward greater happiness and purpose. I'm teaching this summer -- ready to join me?

Namaste.

 

Friends Like Trees

At somewhere around the age of 50 I began to remember my very first friends.

The trees.

For my younger years, many weekends were spent up north at our cabin in the woods. In the front of the cabin was a river, and the backyard was all woods. I could play in the back all by myself but could only go out front if supervised.

Trees were the first to listen to me, without interruption, advice, or judgment.

The first to accept me as I am.

To calm me simply with their presence.

They give the best silent advice, allowing you to figure it out from within.

Looking back I realize they never tried to be anything other than what they were. They remained solid, strong, truthful always.

They didn't try to make me like them or try to be something they were not, just to fit in.

They didn't change themselves when someone new came along, so they could impress.

They didn't say all the right things to make me happy then turn their backs on me when things got rough.

They didn't be nice to my face and say mean things about me when I left.

They never tried to make themselves feel better by making me feel bad, or by judging me, or comparing me to others, or ridiculing me.

They remained loyal even when I strayed. Even when I made mistakes.

They held space for me. That is what true friends do.

We should all be more like trees. Like the kind of friend a tree is.

Loyal

Accepting

Understanding

Faithful

Truthful

Patient

After nearly 50 years I have come back to my tree friends, and I am grateful they have quietly been awaiting my return.

If is as if no time (and all time) has passed since I have spoken to them.

Years of life lessons have made me wiser, and also shown me how little I really understand.

The trees hold many answers. After all they remain rooted in this earth long after we leave it.

We should all strive to be friends like trees.

 

 

Is This Your Season?

Every spring I come back to Big Star Lake and its surrounding areas with a sense of anticipation. Not only for the warmer weather and the summer of fun to come, but to see spring renewal at its finest—or what I call the pop-up swamps. Low lying areas in the woods where the spring waters pool and become instant swamps teeming with new life and sound.

This year there were fewer pop up swamps for me to enjoy on my first walk through the woods. Maybe because we didn’t have a lot of snow to melt along with the first spring rains? Everything looked a little different to me, and yet a lot remained the same. The sounds around me for sure alerted me to the arrival of spring, as did the sun on my face and the wind in my hair, so welcome after winter’s chill. 

I wrote this blog post last year and never posted it, so I thought I would share it now.

Pop up swamps teem with the sounds of spring.

Amidst the frogs, birds, and insects I hear the wind whisper: Renewal. Resolve. Rejoice.

I feel it, too in my bones. Renewal, I mean. I feel freer as I walk down the dusty path my cloak of troubles billowing out behind me.

It can happen overnight this change from the quiet and safe of winter, to the jubilant and wild spring life.

The shift from hibernation to growth and change.

Like people, swamps house crazy potential within.

In just moments they can leap forward and take off, nearly out of nothing, to become vibrant pools of life.

The quiet work that has gone on underneath during the quiet of winter, paves the way for quick spring expansion.

If you listen closely you might hear the question in your ear: Who Are You Now?

Like the pop up swamps that form from the spring’s heavy rains and winters quiet snowfall—you are ready to burst forth in all your alive glory.

Don’t hold yourself back. There is no time like the present to burst forth with the real you.

Conditions are right for forward motion and incoming joy.

The lowlands are the birthing spot of the swamps—just like the low times in our lives are opportunities to learn soul lessons we not only recover from, but flourish from after we get through the tough parts.

Without darkness there would not be knowledge of the light.

It helps if you stop resisting or constricting during times of darkness and instead allow yourself to be open to the feelings that come. Scary, yes. Uncomfortable, yes, but it is not necessary to rid yourself of them immediately. Accept the emotions, sit with them for just a little to uncover their true lessons. The heartaches of your low times will help you appreciate the upcoming moments of joy, and help you fully understand your journey later.

We build things from the ground up for a reason. Rock bottom is, if nothing else, SOLID ground to grow from.

When you feel stuck in life or in your progress:

1). Do not be afraid to ask for help, to take help or to offer help.

2.) Be open to other perspectives on your situation but remember no one outside of you can “fix” you.

3.) Expect to have some internal work to do to be able to let it go and get through to the forward motion part.

4.) Let go of all planned outcomes and surrender to organic change.

5.) Give yourself a break.

Maybe this spring will be the season of your renewal, your growth, and your expansion into the best version of you. I am eternally hopeful that it will be mine.

Reflection: One Year Ago

One year ago today I wrote a post announcing Phase 2 of my dream, the opening of a space where I felt comfortable holding workshops and making connections, and the beginning of Soulistic Sisters, a partnership with two crafty and artistic friends offering opportunities for others to come create with us. A year away seems like a long time when you are in the planning/idea stages of a dream, in reality it flies by, each month going faster than the next.

I wouldn't exactly say the past year has been easy, yet in reflection, it also has not been hard. I suppose as with any new venture, there were highs and lows. The highs for me were the times my workshops and classes filled up with people eager to learn and create, and/ or the times where I felt what I offered helped someone move forward with a new understanding, a new resolve to make changes to be happier, or to see things differently. The lows of course, were the times when no one showed up or no one seemed interested and we had to cancel (and yes there were plenty of those). It is normal to take it personally when something doesn't go as planned, to think you are the problem or the reason, and yet I know how silly and unhelpful that kind of thinking is in the long run. Throughout the year I clung to the thought that what is supposed to happen, will happen, even if it was just me and one other person who showed up for a class.

Working around our full time jobs has meant our offerings were hit or miss with our audience. We played around with days, times, and new ideas to attract more people to our studio. We repeated some classes that were popular the first time around, and stopped offering the ones where no one seemed interested--even if we ourselves still loved the idea. We tweaked, refined, and retooled and asked for suggestions as if searching for a magic formula of success, finding in the end, there really isn't one. We just have to trust and believe that what we are doing, we are doing for all the right reasons, and that what is supposed to happen, will happen.

The encouragement we received from those of you who frequent the studio has been great fuel for us to continue moving forward and to keep believing that if we "build it, they will come". To the many of you who have supported, shared, suggested, reviewed, and encouraged others to join you at our studio, we are so grateful to you. Growing our reach (without spending a lot of marketing dollars) is not easy, and it is only through word of mouth and your help, we have been even a small bit successful. Thank you for the love. Thank you for your trust.

Believing that each person who walks through our door is a uniquely talented artist (in some medium), and that every artist needs a group of supporters and challengers to learn from, is what will keep us going. I believe that our mission to bring people together to explore, connect and create is so important. I know it has moved me out of my comfort zone while at the same time helped me find my groove. I have found an outlet for a creative spirit I didn't even know I had. I have learned to manage chaos with mindful artistic activities and I relish the opportunity to share more of what I have learned with others.

I love our little space, I love the variety of things we offer, I especially love the unique and beautiful souls who come through our door to learn, to teach and to share. As I begin to plan another year of activities I will be leading, and look for areas in which I can grow my own knowledge base, I trust the universe will help it all come together. Just the way it is supposed to.

We must all believe in our own abilities, to seek new ways to work from our place of ease so that we can shine our brightest light, without fear, without regret, and by doing so help others begin to shine theirs. I hope our studio continues to provide an outlet for others to shine. To help them find their tribe and their supportive accepting community. To expand horizons. To open minds. To help everyone begin to believe in their own unique, creative, beautiful spirit.

Namaste. Cheers to seeing you at the studio soon.

Terri

 

 

What If?

What if you were completely free to live without all the things that weigh you down?  Things like doubt, worry, depression, people pleasing, or obligations you take on even if you don't really enjoy them. What if you could start over with a clean slate and just be free to be you,  would you do it?

It is hard to think that anyone would say no to the chance, yet I see people pass on it every day. In a way, that is exactly what I did for far too many years. Year after year, I searched outside of myself for answers and validation, blaming others when things didn't go the way I hoped. In essence, I walked right on by the chance to begin anew over and over again.

Until I crashed.

It took a falling apart to be able to piece myself back together in the form of the real me. Good news! It means, if I can do it, so can you. Now it doesn't mean there isn't "work" involved, because for a while it is all emotionally exhausting. But the ensuing sense of freedom and growth you gain as you dig deeper is worth every hard moment of inner work.

My journey started when I slowed myself down enough to try yoga, thanks to prodding from friends who knew me better than I knew myself. Yoga was something I thought I would never like/need because it was too slow, and I loved to move.

They say 'What we resist; persists' and they say it for a reason. I needed yoga like no other and the opportunity to try it kept presenting itself to me. Once I did, I realized how much I needed to slow down, to tune in, to feel myself again, because running from what was truly in my heart was killing me.

Yoga was my bridge, my gateway back to myself. My real self, not the creation of me I presented to the world. I wished to look perfect. To some, I was. The more perfect I pushed myself to be, the more I began to hate myself. My "hate" became a negative voice that never stopped criticizing me. I was always thinking that I could do better, be better, be beyond reproach, immune to constructive criticism because I was going to do it completely right. I sought to validate this fake "me" by trying to always be right, or worse, by making others feel wrong.

It didn't take long to become a negative force in the world. It became hard for anyone to live up to my expectations, because I never did. It was hard to make me happy, because I never truly was.

What a sad state to be in. What a lonely place. What a nightmare it was. Surrounded by worry, fear, living in judgement, hearing and thinking only negative thoughts, losing all sense of gratitude. Yuck.

I didn't hear any compliments that came my way, only the criticisms. I couldn't accept any niceness from others, only felt their meanness. I wouldn't accept any niceness from myself either. I lost the piece we all need to heal from the inside, self-love, self-acceptance, self-care. All of that comes from within, and I spent all my time outside of me looking for validation, approval, acceptance, and love.

It took me a while to realize it was within me all the time, even though the things I read and studied told me it was. I had to find my own way to access it.

Yoga started it, learning I was an hsp was the next step, and reiki energy work finished off the trifecta so that I could regain my power. The recipe will be different for each person as we are all on our own journey, but the results of tuning in can be the same.

Power. Acceptance. Change. Happiness. Love. Freedom. Expansion. Strength.

Every positive word you can think of comes from reclaiming your personal power. Don't let your life pass you by without taking a chance on yourself. Be the person you were born to be. Make waves, create ripples, be 100% YOU. You will only be truly happy, free and whole when you do.

There are so many people who have traveled a path to get where they are and are willing to share. Find someone who resonates with you, who gets you and go learn from them. Teachers come in so many different forms. Listen, look, feel, trust your instincts and find your inspiration, then work hard and fly free with the what ifs....

I can't wait to see your beautiful light begin to shine as bright as it was always meant to!

Namaste beautiful soul. Namaste.

 

My Three Words for 2017

Peace-filled New Year Greetings!

It is hard to believe a year has gone by again. I had great plans for 2016, mostly revolving around accomplishment. You know, things I "hoped" to do: write that book, create more podcasts, produce some great inspiring blogposts, organize, simplify, meditate more, etc.

As I reflect on the past year, I realize I didn't accomplish a lot of those things on my mental to do list, but I am proud of how I allowed life to happen, and how I gave myself the permission to enjoy it. I spent oodles of time with my sweet grandbaby, as much time with the rest of my family as we could all carve out, stayed peaceful within-- even if life got a bit busy, stopped worrying about money for the first time in my life, and let some things go that were weighing me down. I also stepped a few steps out of my comfort zone when I found a space and started Soulistic Sisters Studio with two friends. The studio is a refuge for me, especially when I cannot be up north with my trees. In it I feel safe, and like I am coming home. I find it brings out my confidence, my best self and I feel like I belong there. I still hear 'If you build it, they will come' in my heart, and I trust that what is meant to be will happen, as we grow our community one sweet soul at a time.

I haven't written a blogpost in a long while, much longer than I intended in fact, and not because I had nothing to say. I was intent on enjoying each day to the fullest in 2016. And maybe, just maybe I am becoming the person I was always meant to be. I had a major miracle happen in my life about a week ago. Someone I had met only last year, who took a yoga class with me, then became a friend, paid me the biggest compliment of my life. She called me a free spirit. A free spirit. I felt like Rudolph when he finds out Clarice likes him and he flys into the air without effort.

I was once so FAR from a free spirit I could only watch enviously while others were free spirited, as I wished/dreamed/imagined a "me" who wasn't an over achiever, and who lived happily without being scheduled and planned. Truth be told,  I am still doing a happy dance knowing someone currenlty sees me this way. I will hold this sweet thought close to my heart as I continue to recover from my once type A, control freak, people pleasing, critical, judgemental, perfectionistic self.

If I can change, so can you! It also made me realize the POWER of telling someone how you view them. We never see ourselves clearly enough, and having someone affirm my hard work has made all the difference in how I will approach my 2017, I even changed the words I thought I was going to choose as my Three Words to Live By because of it. I encourage you to reach out to someone with a random act of kindness and tell them how you "see" them. Who knows, it could be the little push of courage forward they need to transform into who they always wished to be.

My New Year's Wish For You:

Live 2017 with positive intentions. May you not only recognize the power within you to change your life in any way you desire, but also believe that you are worthy and deserving of everything you wish for. Begin healing yourself from the inside and watch your beautiful light grow brighter. Always believe in the Power of YOU. Shine on friend.

My words to live by for 2017 have finally chosen me.

Illuminate

Trust

Thrive

Happy New Year from my happy heart to yours.

P.S. Have you chosen yours yet? I can help with this.. :)