Taking advantage of this snowy stretch in Michigan to record a half hour gentle yoga stretch class. It’s not perfect, but it should do for those of you asking for some home practice options!
When do you feel most alive?
It seems crazy to me that we have to think so hard about what makes us vibrate with positive energy, and yet until I took the time to focus inward and become aware, I didn’t have an answer to this.
I know from experience it is possible not to know. In my case I was always looking ahead and had lost my ability to connect to the present moment, and with it, my ability to discern when my mind, body + spirit needed rejuvenating.
Along the way my answer to the question has changed as I have grown. I used to think that helping others energized me, and it still does get me fired up at times, but I also recognize it can drain me if the person I am helping isn't ready to make real changes. If someone isn't ready, no amount of “helping” in the world can create forward motion. And when a person relies on a outside situation like helping someone else move forward to energize them, they are giving away their power to that outward focus. That is what I was doing. And it meant I was on a roller coaster. The kind of alive I am asking about in my original question needs to come from inside you, not conditional to a person or a situation outside of you.
So, when do I feel optimum, whole, balanced, and buzzing with intention?
I feel most alive when I have spent time in nature. Walking or sitting in the forest is my favorite, with my beloved trees.
How did I forget how important time outside was for me? I knew this as a kid. I spent endless hours of alone time in the woods daydreaming in the shade, searching for rocks in the tree-lined river, netting turtles out of the tree rimmed pond, walking the tree filled paths around our family cabin, or cross country skiing through the snow covered woods. I let my grown up life and responsibilities push aside my need for connection with the earth.
Yet a few years back even as I began to recognize my need to spend more time outside, I began walking with someone else, or I wore headphones and listened to music. Not exactly the best way for me to be present to the experience of being outside. Headphones silenced the sounds of the "now", giving me way too much time in my little bubble to overthink and talking with someone while walking isn’t very mindful either.
What I needed was to tune into the sounds of the world around me, not to continue to tune them out. Noticing things like the breeze rustling through the top of the trees, hearing the birds chattering to each other from nearby branches or the scurrying of little feet in the forest, are what bring me back to the present moment. The sun on my face, wind in my hair, and quiet time with the trees grounds me, balances me and rejuvenates me.
I encourage you to find your own personal fountain of youth by tuning into what makes you feel more alive. Maybe next time your energy is low or leaking, you should try taking a walk in nature and see if my solution works for you? If not, figure out what your own personal recipe to rejuvenation is. Once you uncover what fuels you make it a priority to do more of it!
Which one word from the list below best captures the way you feel about your life right now?
Fill in the blank: I am ________________.
Did you find a word? How difficult was it to select only one word?
Today I would say my word is trusting. Yet, if I put myself back in time to a year ago, or even five years ago when I first wrote the post below, I would not have chosen the same word I picked today. I am happy about that because it tells me that I am making progress in my transformation. I am no longer stuck. For many years during my deep dive into personal growth I continually felt like I was stuck on “searching”.
Years of searching for the missing piece sounds exhausting, and it was. Mistakenly I was always looking ahead for something, anything that was going to be the answer to my happiness.
I wanted change. I wanted more meaning in my life. I wanted to be appreciated in the workplace. I wanted to stop thinking so much. I wanted to sleep like a rock, to experience big joy, to appreciate what I had, to live in the present moment and make impulsive, unplanned decisions.
So I searched and searched, I wrote, I read, I observed and as I kept my eyes on the far off horizon where I was sure the solution was hiding, I missed the life that was happening right in front of me.
I moved further and further away from myself, focusing outward instead of addressing what I needed to most --- the innermost me. A wise person once told me that I could not expect to see healing in those around me, unless I healed myself first.
Me, heal? That would mean admitting I had something to heal from…. a scary and daunting admission.
The answer to everything I wanted was inside me all along and it took me coming undone, me having a “breakdown” of sorts in order to begin to face my biggest fear: Me.
As I write this journal entry I believe I am thriving. I’ve done the hard work. I’ve seen the darkest there is inside of me and faced it head on. She doesn’t scare me anymore. I kind of I won’t let that dark side of me get so big ever again.
For a long time fear held me back from thriving. Fear of what you may be wondering?
Fear of everything. Failure, success, change, embarrassment, fear of not liking myself, fear of everyone else not liking me, fear of losing control, fear that I might lose control and never be able to piece myself back together again. I was afraid because for too many years I had remained in safe mode.
And yet, I lost it anyway-- no matter how hard I tried to stay protected, in the end I still cracked wide open. Some would say I failed, I say I finally opened myself up to begin to thrive.
Interestingly enough, you can’t begin to thrive if you stay safe (and stuck) and protected in your little bubble. You have to take chances and move out of your comfort zone, be willing to take a risk or two, and feel a little out of control in order to truly grow.
The definition of Thrive is:
1. to prosper; be fortunate or successful.
2. to grow or develop vigorously; flourish
Thriving = being brave enough to face your fears, confident enough to let others see you fail, open to growth in any direction, and prepared to succeed.
I love finding old journal entries that speak to me and record my growth. At this very moment the word I would choose is trusting. And I am. Trusting myself and my talents, trusting the universe to support and guide me, and trusting that only I know the way for me.
Ever feel the need to shake your life up and rearrange the pieces?
A few years ago I was lost.
My life wasn't going the way I had always thought it would. I was at the age I once thought of as "old" and I had always assumed that wisdom and contentment came with that big number. Being accomplished, settled and happy came along as well, or so I thought.
But I wasn't any of those things, except happy in my marriage. My well organized life lacked purpose and deeper meaning and weirdly enough instead of feeling wise with age, I felt like a naive 17 year old.
My confusion permeated everything. My job. My relationship with my kids. How I felt about myself. And wondering what my real life's purpose was weighed heavy on my heart and my mind. At that time my oldest had just left for college and I was reeling with the change it brought to my identity. Who was I if not busy mom anymore?
I started making some small changes to get out of my slump, distancing myself from things I had always done and rethinking ways of being that were ingrained in me. It worked for a while. On the surface I was more alive, but deep down I still wondered why everyone else seemed so happy and questioned why I was not.
I really dislike feeling stuck.
I wished for my life to feel right from the inside instead of always worrying about how it looked from the outside. I made a bold move and tried shaking things up by changing jobs and leaving the one I had held for nearly 24 years. It proved to be all things a highly sensitive person should not do---and halfway through my first year I was both mentally and physically exhausted, and very negative.
What helped me out of my slump the most was to begin writing again. Which after years of NOT writing anything, felt great even if the writing wasn't. It was an outlet to share my truth and I wrote it solely for me. But others read it and let me know that it resonated with them.
So it did give me some clarity, but it also led to more confusion. And when I am confused or unable to grasp something, I ask more questions. Then if I don't understand after the answers, I get frustrated (patience was never my virtue) and then overwhelm sets in and I give up. That leads to some serious negativity.
My mean voice found the fuel she needed to take over and paralyze me with the fear of doing it wrong. I became so afraid of doing anything wrong that I just stayed safe and coasted along -- alternately controlling things, and then getting exasperated when they didn't work out the way I envisioned and then giving up. But never growing forward.
Staying safe I now realize, is another name for staying stuck. No forward movement = frozen, stagnant, trapped. My biggest fear.
I didn't yet understand that the power was within me to change my life. One baby step at a time. The only way to get unstuck is to move forward, a step at a time -- don't try to solve everything in one move, just begin making the necessary changes to open up doors.
I read the book entitled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway and it made me see that what I feared most was moving out of my comfort zone and not being able to handle it. The whole book can be summed up like this: What is the worst thing you can imagine, now if that happens, can you handle it? Then, if you can handle that, you can handle anything.
Too easy? Not really. Thinking in that way made me see that it is okay to fail. To try again. To fall flat. The world does not end. Just because I fail does not mean that I am a failure--my mean voice had me so tricked into thinking it meant exactly that!
Stop looking outside yourself to make the changes you need to make from within. Stop giving away your power to others: bosses, friends, situations, history, or the mean voice in your head.
Take a step forward. Shake it up. Create a kerfluffle*.
You may find that is exactly what your spirit needs to find the sunny side of the street.
It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect, resolve, release and start anew.
There has been a lot of internal shifting for me in the last couple of months, some tying up of loose ends, some releasing, some acceptance and some internal discomfort. I’ve been forced to go deep within, a lot.
As hard as I try to surrender and let life lead me, to let it show me the next step, I still have the need to “know” where I am headed and why I am headed there. I recognize that the process of really living life is not supposed to be like that.
I am a recovering perfectionist, control freak, and over achiever.
Inside me, I have come to learn, is a free spirited, curious, simple girl aching to come out and play.
If my job is simply to be happy, to live my best life, to lead from a place of light and love and goodness, I make life harder than it needs to be. I recognize how exhausting this constant need to have a plan, to be on a determined path is for me (and probably for everyone around me) but it is very hard for me to not fall back into this lifelong way of thinking. I’ve been looking ahead ever since I can remember.
The free-spirited flower child inside of me dreams of days filled with nothingness (which to her is letting curiosity lead into endless possibility and random distractions). She wants to sit under the trees and daydream or doodle and have nothing on her to do list. She wants to refrain from making plans, so she won’t let anyone down by canceling or failing to live up to her end of the bargain. She is far more introverted than you might think. She wants more play and less schedule. She wants endless summer vacation. She wants more time to simply BE and she is the kind of person who knows that simply being is enough.
There is also another voice inside me. This one wants to make a difference in the world. The teacher in me wishes to share what she has learned in hopes it helps someone else find wholeness and happiness. She dreams of empowering others with her own brand of wisdom + words. This voice wants/needs some accountability, some structure to bring this dream to fruition. Maybe deep down, she even craves a plan.
2019 has me striving for balance between Freedom and Focus. I may not know exactly where this road is taking me, but I can take charge of how I travel it. I choose to travel it with love, patience, health, and a big dose of wonder. And, I want my heart to be filled with daily awe and gratitude as I take action and hold myself accountable.
As I walked around the lake today, my words for 2019 chose me. As usual I didn’t receive the words I expected, but I trust they are the words I need to grow. For the past few years I have been all about the undoing – unbecoming all that I had become – to reconnect with my true self.
As part of this process I uncluttered/simplified my life in as many ways as I could. I’ve been saying no to obligations, old beliefs, people, opportunities-- anything that no longer served my best interest. As I began to narrow my focus and shore up my intentions, I honed in on what fills me up with the positivity and light I was meant to be filled with. I found that my curious + creative mind loves to lead me into new learning adventures. It is endlessly interested and easily sidetracked into a wide variety of things. While all that freedom and fun of the last few years was refreshing, there is a need inside of me to finish something and to create something I am proud of. I guess you could say I have a burning need to write something a little more formal than blogposts to share what I have learned.
To bring this nearly lifelong dream to fruition, I need words other than wonder, adventure, and inspiration, the ones I wanted for the coming year.
I need a plan.
Not a plan like in the old days, where every second was accounted for and accomplishment ruled; more like a new direction.
So the words that chose me this year are: Connection. Direction. Focus.
Connection: Association or development of something observed or imagined; relationship.
Direction: Instruction or guidance for making; a purpose or orientation forward that serves to guide, motivate or focus.
Focus: To concentrate, to direct one’s attention or efforts.
I will continue to connect to my body, my spirit, my inner voice, and my creative source. Along with that I wish to deepen all the connections in my life. To people, to purpose, to spirit, to my wish to live intentionally in the little moments of life.
As I do this I will be open to direction from a higher power, my angels, guides, teachers and students to accomplish this.
And I will find a way to focus my efforts so that I feel less scattered, sporadic, wishy-washy and more (dare I say it, productive).
At the end of 2019 I want to be able to call myself a writer and mean it, or maybe even more specifically, an author of something real.
I wish you all a year of knowing exactly what you need more of to bring your best self forward. Thank you to those of you who have supported my journey and loved me as I continue to work on the “unbecoming me” part.
This is how I feel more than a week after my visit to The Higher Haven Retreat Center which included a sacred Lakota Inipi* ceremony also known as a sweat lodge. It was a deeply peaceful experience for me, like I called home a piece of myself I wasn’t even aware I was missing. When I saw the Facebook announcement come across my news feed, I signed up immediately, without overthinking it or talking myself out of it. Instead, I trusted my inner voice. It turned out to be the right ‘next’ thing for me on my journey.
There is something very comforting about the land, the retreat center, the Inipi*, and even in the host Paul’s presence at The Higher Haven Retreat Center. I am a person who usually requires the why and the deeper meaning behind, before I go all in, but in this situation I felt the need to just experience/ participate and not to question it so much.
You could say it called me home.
This winter sweat was a magical experience for me. The lingering tobacco taste on my tongue from the Chanupa* puts me right back into the velvety blackness of the tent. I can still see the faces in the lava rocks, feel the heat of the steam, smell the smoke from the fire, and hear the drum beat and Paul’s hauntingly rich voice fill my soul. In the sacred space of the Inipi* I connected with a primal part of myself, and while the inky blackness left me feeling separate in my experience, I also felt very connected to everyone in the tent and to all my ancestors. Is it silly to say that everything became clearer in the darkness? Because for me it did.
I have mentioned before I am able to see colors when I close my eyes, when I meditate or sit in stillness. Those colors are my way of tuning in and bringing myself home to my body, mind + spirit. For the first time EVER, I was able to experience what I normally do with my eyes closed, with my eyes wide open. I could watch my inner screen and share in the magic with my eyes fully open. It was unbelievably cool. Usually I feel closing myself off from the world leads me to my inner wisdom/vision, in this case it was like my own personal screen was the top of the tent. I am kind of glad no one could see the goofy smile on my face, or the tears that spilled when I realized the colors were all around me even with my eyes open.
Here is the prayer I gave in the darkness of the Inipi:
I ask the ancestors, guides, angels and loved ones to help me release everything that has held me back. To provide closure on the life lessons I have learned thus far, and to illuminate my next step. I ask for guidance, support and clarity. I especially ask for wisdom with the words I will write. I thank you for the healing, the insight, the support, patience and unconditional love I have been given on this night and throughout my lifetime.
After everyone shared their individual prayer(s) we replied with “Mitakuye O’yasin,” meaning “all my relations,” or “all are related.”
I went in with no expectations and left feeling as if I had experienced exactly what I needed. I know the others felt the same way. It may not have gone the way our host Paul had originally planned it, but we all learned that the beauty of surrendering to life as it is, is where the magic happens.
The whole experience; the meditations, the sweat, the quiet time away from electronic devices, making new friends, each piece was necessary to make me feel complete. I felt as if pieces of me came back and filled in the voids. When I left the sacred ground, I felt whole. Calm. Steady. Right.
If your spirit calls you to The Higher Haven Retreat Center, go. Experience it. It could be exactly what you need as well. Paul is doing another winter sweat on Saturday, Feb. 23. Click here for details.
*Inipi is a purification rite and is necessary in order to help the vision quest seeker enter into a state of humility and to undergo a kind of spiritual rebirth. The sweat lodge is central to Inipi. Prayers offered there draw on all the powers of the universe — Earth, Water, Fire and Air.
*Chanupa The sacred pipe and ceremony are at the very heart of the native people's culture as they travel the Red Road. Smoke coming from the mouth represents the truth being spoken, and the smoke coming from the pipe, a path for prayers to reach the great spirit.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
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.
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.