Posts in Personal Growth
Tap Into Your Natural Energy
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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!

Don't Be Afraid to Check in with Yourself
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Which one word from the list below best captures the way you feel about your life right now?

Fill in the blank: I am ________________.

Striving

Trusting

Battling

Searching

Praying

Straying

Glowing

Growing

Existing

Thriving

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.

Create Your Own Kerfluffle

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.

*Kerfluffle—Verb: To rile up, confuse, or anger a cat (especially kittens) into fluffing up.  (Urban Dictionary)

Writing this Life
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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.

Purifying My Spirit With An Inipi Native American Winter Sweat
This is a view from the Retreat House across the yard to the lovely yoga/meditation studio and the Inipi is the little mound to the right.

This is a view from the Retreat House across the yard to the lovely yoga/meditation studio and the Inipi is the little mound to the right.

The warm and welcoming Retreat House.

The warm and welcoming Retreat House.

The tobacco taste from the Chanupa is still on my tongue (reminding me of the experience). The stars are still in my eyes (showing me the infinite possibilities of the universe). Maybe most important of all, the smile is still in my heart (allowing the peace of the purification ceremony to remain within me). I will definitely participate in this experience again.

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.

Transparency
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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.

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.

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.

 

 

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.

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.

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.

 

Claiming Her Power

When she finally accepted she could not collect her self-esteem by being perfect in the eyes of the world around her...

she fell.

Hard.

The quest to find her missing worth had led her on a fast paced journey far far away from herself.

Her solution had always been to find someone outside of herself to give her the accolades she so desired, to find her worthy, valuable, lovable, and to fill up her bucket of self esteem with their praises. She searched for value from everywhere, because she was certain it would be enough to fill the hole within her.

Only after years of trying she came to see it didn't work that way. Finding meaning from outside of herself by doing things "right" was like trying to hit a moving target. She was never quite able to grasp it. What she heard from others was never enough to fill the great void within. She grew weary from the constant trying, and super sensitive to even the slightest of criticisms.

Certain that someone, somewhere would see her value if she just did things a little better, faster, smarter, she kept up the facade. For way too many years. She wanted the world to think she had it all together. But that was a lie, and deep down she knew it, and the weight of that knowledge was eating away at her happiness from the inside.

As she slowly realized she was coming undone, she fought even harder to hang on, as giving up was not an option for someone like her.

So she continued to search outside of herself for the answers, not knowing then that she was wandering even further from the person she had once been.

She stopped believing she was lovable. She stopped believing in herself. She stopped trusting that she had the answers. And that made her weak from the inside out. It gave rise to a voice so mean it drowned out the whispers of her spirit.

She looked for love in all the wrong places.

If only she had known there was one only place to start. Her own heart.

She needed to begin to love herself, embrace both the dark and the light parts of her, to begin healing.

It took the hard fall to the bottom of the well of self-loathing, and a large letting go/cracking open, to let the light of worth back in.

In the quiet darkness at the bottom of that deep well she was forced to turn inward. There was no one else to seek praise from in that darkness. She had to face herself. She had to look into her own heart. Did she even like herself anymore?

A quiet voice arose from the darkness.

You are worthy. You are loved. Everything is going to be okay.

The soft words of comfort began to warm her soul from the inside.

She understood then that failure was an option. It was how we learned. It was how we grew. It didn't mean the end, it was instead a new beginning.

She let go of the heaviest of baggage she had been carrying with her, the need to be perfect, the need to please, the need to constantly pick up her pace.

It didn't happen overnight, but she slowed things down, she turned inward, and she began to find herself, a few small pieces at a time. This time around she vowed to stop looking outside of herself for the answers, instead to trust her inner knowing for the next right step.

It was there she found her power. It had been right there all along. At the heart of herself.

 

Making Her Choice
Photo credit: Jan Hubert
Photo credit: Jan Hubert

When the boat of security she lived in first began to pitch wildly in the waves of her deepest, darkest truths, she felt a fissure of fear.

Even before her boat capsized, she understood she would drown.

In a sea of salty tears.

They came from somewhere deep. Somewhere foreign feeling.

A place she hadn't dared to go for a very long time.

She let herself sink into the depths of her sadness for she was so tired of struggling.

Maybe, she thought, if she just rested for a moment or two, she'd muster the energy she needed to soldier on. She gave into the quiet, calm and sank even lower. She pictured herself in the eye of the storm allowing the millions of thoughts in her head to slowly empty, until there was only one.

I am a failure.

With a jolt her feet hit rock bottom. No where further down to go.

She just couldn't muster enough energy to fight that deepest, darkest thought any longer. Immediately she felt the bleakness of her wasted life in every pore of her body. The would have, could have, should have's stacking up before her to be reviewed. She knew she had let everyone down, had let herself down worst of all. She was so far off course she saw no more possible paths to take. Was this the fall she feared she'd never recover from?

In the darkness of her soul came the words she needed to hear.

Everything will be okay, everyone will be okay. Let it go. You've got this. And oh by the way, You are worthy.

Fresh tears flowed as she let the words surround her like a blanket. Only this time the tears weren't the same. They didn't hurt as much, they were softer, warmer, meant to soothe not sear.

And as they warmed her cheeks, they warmed her heart a little, too. She felt a little less alone. The tiniest spark of hope begin to grow in her.

At one time giving in, giving up the reigns of her life had been the furthest thing from her mind. The thought of letting go had only made her hold on tighter, try harder, do better. Now she knew her only option was surrender, she no longer had the energy to fight against the current of her heart.

She took a deep breath and some of the tight spaces in her body began to give a little.

Instead of dying in this low, dark space, she realized she actually could breathe a little easier here. The crushing weight on her chest began to lift and in the far corner of her dark soul a spark of light began to grow. The light was warm and comforting and filled her mind, heart and whole being with a feeling of acceptance, understanding, and ease.

It felt so refreshingly beautiful she was afraid to acknowledge it, fearful it would retreat and pull her back into the darkness.

But it grew brighter until it nearly filled her, and then she heard the voice again:

Inside everyone is darkness and light. Good and bad. That is the way it is meant to be. A person cannot be 100% perfect. That means there will always be darkness within you. But there is also light. So much light. You are no different than anyone else. You, like everyone, must learn to live in the light of you. Once you do, your mission here is to show others how to do the same. Teach others to dance in the light. Their own light. To take back their power.

And then there was quiet again. She wanted (as usual) to ask a million questions. To learn what she needed to do to stay in this welcoming light.  She wanted to know how she could possibly teach others to find the light. She wanted help to do it all correctly, but no words came out of her. There was only the silence.

And in the blissful quiet of her soul she discovered she already knew the answer to her unasked questions.

I hold the power. I've had the power all along.

She was the answer. She had all the answers within. She always had. She needed only to believe in her own power, to be still and listen to hear the answers to her questions.  In that quiet, calm space deep within her was all the knowledge she'd ever truly needed.

And the words she heard this time were her own.

I see you darkness. I acknowledge you are part of me. I understand that within everyone is darkness, and also beautiful light. I have a choice from which place I operate and I vow to live from this moment on in the light. I surrender my grip of control to a higher power for I know that I cannot see the whole picture from my tiny view. I will trust that I am enough, imperfectly as I am, and that I am worthy of everything I dream of. I will allow my life to unfold and to believe in my own power to discern the correct path. I will let my heart lead me to where I was meant to be all along.

And just like that she was filled with light. She was back home to herself. The same girl, yet forever different. Changed. Enlightened. Recharged. Renewed. Ready. Free. Hopeful. Reconnected.

Choosing never to be alone again.

For more in this series:

Losing Her Magic

Finding Her Worth

Garnering Her Courage

Garnering Her Courage

And when she could no longer hold all the pieces of her life together, she summoned the courage to fall apart.

Once she hit rock bottom, with no where lower to go, she came undone and broke into a million tiny pieces. The relief she felt was unexpected. With nowhere to go but up, she felt the lightness of hope instead of the weight of crushing despair. Her greatest fear had always been that if she gave in to the darkness, she would not be able to recover from the fall.

How had she not realized that the hanging on had been like a cement block around her neck?

So she began the process of letting go.  She gave up the constant struggling against the current of her heart, and began to float back to herself. 

Some changes were immediate, others took longer for the world to see. They said she was reinventing herself, but she knew it was more about coming home to herself after years of trying to be someone/something she was not.

She worked hard to unlearn the strategies she had created hoping to stay safe, appear good and be beyond reproach. Some days it was more of a battle than a release.

She stopped

playing it so safe she kept herself in a fake bubble of safety so she wouldn't fail

staying productive so she was never called lazy

perfecting her outward appearance so the world would like her

trying to right all the wrongs that were not hers to fix

Years of control and constant striving forward to achieve began to melt away. It left her feeling lighter and freer, but also a bit unsteady. She struggled to find her balance even though the ground beneath her was in a constant state of change. Some of it she liked, some challenged her to her very core.

During the years of growing up it hadn't occurred to her that she was a person in need of time to just be. Always thinking she was too old, too busy, too necessary to just sit among the trees, or to play with rocks, she had always kept up her forward trek. Sadly, her progress had become the measurement of her own worth.

And that led to utter exhaustion, and her ensuing fall.

Rock bottom has an interesting way of giving you a new perspective and she came up fighting with fresh new eyes. Hope filled, happier eyes who now saw the necessity of spontaneity, of living a more unplanned life, and who craved freedom, peace, and joy. Comfort zones were meant to contain, and she was clearly ready to fly again.

She let her life get messy. She watched for signs from the universe meant to direct her onto her true path, occasionally impatiently jumping at opportunities that were not meant for her. She let herself fail. She let herself experience new things. She began to grow wiser.

And gone was the feeling that she would not be able to handle anything that happened to her. She knew she was growing stronger. She filled her mind with beautiful things, gone was worrying away the moments of her life in preparation for the what if's that might never actually happen. She traded them in for living in the moment, experiencing the beauty of life right in front of her.

As a result her cupboards grew unorganized, cobwebs formed in the corners of her rooms, and dust settled on everything. She didn't care. She rarely even apologized for it anymore. She just let it be.

Instead she laughed. She danced. She sang. She created. She was silly. She made mistakes. She moved on. She began to believe in herself again. She made time for the things that mattered and didn't feel guilty for letting the rest go. She became wise in understanding she could never be what others wanted her to be if she was not honoring herself. After years of putting herself last in line she made time for herself. She became a calmer, happier, better version of herself.

She lost friends, but gained her self-respect.

She made mistakes, yet bounced back with inner reserves she once didn't believe she had.  

She grew weary of games, drama, and judgment. She stopped trying to figure it all out, to stay ahead of the game, and just made time and space to be herself, to fuel her soul.

Following her heart gave her the positive energy to live life her way. To lead with trust, knowing and belief. Her journey up from rock bottom brought her ever closer to the person she was always meant to be.

It took great courage to dare to fall apart, but she now understood the reward was worth it.

 

 

 

 

I Believe...

The question shouldn't have shocked me all these years later, but it did. I was taken back to another time, when I was an awkward school kid living on the west side of GR. A place where the next question after what is your name? was what church do you go to?

There was a moment of panic before I answered the person on the phone last week, as there always used to be. The truth never seemed to be the "right" answer when I was a kid. It always led to more questions, judgments, and often left me feeling like whatever I believed wasn't good enough.

Back when I was that little kid I thought it an odd question to ask someone what church they went to -- as going to church in my family was for big holidays only--otherwise we were up north at our cabin in the woods on weekends. Church was only a small part of who I was, so when I answered I was truthful and said I rarely went to church as I was out of town. That answer was clearly not the "right" one as I received so many of the oh you are one of those kids looks, I eventually began answering instead with the name of the church I rarely attended, First Park Congregational Church.

Unfortunately that only led to more questions like 'what denomination is that'? Are you a Christian or a Catholic? To little me, this was confusing. Church to me was a stale, old, scary place that smelled like old ladies perfume and where I had to sit still and quiet and try not to fall asleep through a bunch of mumble jumbo. I never liked it there. When I was old enough to get up and leave the main room for the kid classrooms partway through the service, I often got lost if I didn't have someone to follow. It was terrifying to my little self to be lost amidst the musty old smell and endless identical doors. The only part of church I even remotely liked was talking to people (my cousins and grandma in particular) after church in the big open room where they served punch and cookies.

What denomination was I? Clearly I needed to ask some questions because I didn't know what that meant. I made it a point to ask questions, and anyone who knows me knows I ask a lot of questions if I don't understand something.  I asked for years actually. In high school I made it my mission to try as many of the local churches as I could to find one that seemed to accept me as I was, and that seemed to make sense. As I learned what denominations were, and saw how many different faiths, churches, and variations of beliefs were out there, I got overwhelmed with all their crazy "rules". Every time I thought I'd found the one for me, it didn't take long for me to realize that something was off.

We can't do that on Wednesday night as we have to go to youth group, no I can't play on Saturday as it it our day of rest, or it isn't right to mow your lawn on Sunday.

Well I can't go to the movies or listen to that kind of music, but I do it secretly.

Our church thinks dance is evil so we can't have a prom at our school, but our parents have a private party for us instead where we get to dance.

You have to accept Jesus Christ into your life or you will go to hell like (so and so). Do you want me to help you accept him into your life right now?

You must always pray before you eat.

Please wear a hat to church or you aren't allowed in. No, don't t wear a hat to church or anything jean-like, you have to wear your Sunday best.

I can't play on Sundays we have to go to church at least two times.

Please join us for communion, no--you can't have communion in our church unless you are confirmed.

Say the lord's prayer like this, not like that.

It is time to kneel, now stand, now sit. Oh, no we don't stand up for that part here.

It was all so confusing to me, and so unnecessary to go through all those rules just to talk to God.

My church is, and has always been, sitting under a tree, preferably in the woods, appreciating the natural beauty and getting as close to my Creator as I could. To let my mind empty of worry, fear, everything unnecessary and to just be, listening to the sounds of the forest and the voice of my higher self, the godlike part deep inside me. And to hear the voice of the God who lived in heaven outside of me. I knew how to do that. In my own way.

I didn't know how to navigate the unusually difficult organized religions of the city I grew up in. Over the years my answers to the eternal questions about my faith changed to announce up front that I was a Congregationalist and I attended First Park Congregational Church. I didn't say (only on holidays) or (that nature was my real church). I also didn't explain about the denomination or what other congregationalists believed, and most kids never asked. Maybe because I said it so matter-of-factly they thought they should already know what it meant. For those that were persistent, I told them it was similar to being a Lutheran because someone told me that once. I never told people I still didn't really know what it meant and how it was different from what they believed, or why it mattered.

I truly believe that my individual beliefs should not make me feel shame when asked if I am a Christian, whether I answer it yes or no. But by the clenching of my gut when I am asked to explain my beliefs even today,  I realize I have old wounds that I need to continue to work through. 

I hate should-haves. But I should have immediately said I wasn't going to answer the "Are you a Christian?" question to the person on the phone last week, not because I am ashamed of my answer but because it didn't matter in the context of what we were talking about.

You do not need to judge me, categorize me, pray for me, save me, or avoid me based on what I believe. I will not get you into anything "bad". How can I? I am just me. I believe what I believe and encourage you to believe what you believe, and if it isn't working for you, ask some questions, learn, grow, open your mind and find something that does.

Recently I helped open a little art studio called Soulistic Sisters because in finding other like- minded, open-hearted women who loved to create things, I found my tribe. My support. My circle. Their acceptance gives me the encouragement I need to keep asking questions, to keep learning and growing into the best person I can be. At our studio, we promote acceptance, diversity, and choose to empower each other, while being open to explore new things together. I have finally found the safe space and fellowship I needed 45 years ago when an impressionable and shyly unconventional girl was growing into her true self.

Our studio is not religious, nor does it exclude you bringing your religious beliefs to the table. In fact, all three of us who partner in Soulistic Sisters come from very different backgrounds, yet we wish to be inclusive and welcome any and all perspectives. We love to learn, and want to continue our growth in all directions.  Your perspective, your beliefs should we ever choose to talk about it, are completely respected around our table.

It isn't about what you believe. It is about who you are.

So person on the phone...to answer your question (fully) now that I have time to think, here is what I believe.

I believe...

in a higher power, in God, in a creator.

in myself.

a piece of God lives within each of us.

in little and big miracles.

in prayer.

in the power of silence.

in honesty.

in LOVE.

in treating others as you wish to be treated.

in angels, fairies and signs from the other side.

in the power of music to inspire.

that dance has the power to heal.

in your right to believe as you wish.

in my right to believe as I wish.

in the beauty of nature.

in the power of positive thinking.

in leading by example.

in curiosity.

in the importance of finding balance.

in the necessity of every person finding their center.

in your unique beauty.

in my unique beauty.

you have the right to your beliefs and I have the right to mine.

in acceptance.

in truth.

that finding your creative side is a key to greater happiness.

happy is a state of mind.

yoga is a gateway to your higher self.

learning keeps your mind alive with wonder and awe.

the warmth of the sun is regenerating.

in the power of trees to heal me.

in setting intentions.

it is never too late.

The Grass Is Not Always Greener

Please stop wishing you were more. Or that you could do things better. Or that you were a size 6, had a new car, or a "better" job. If I remember correctly, thinking like that is exhausting and really unhealthy.

Instead, just be where you are...or maybe more importantly, just be happy where you are.

Don't try to be where the girl in the front row at yoga class is. She's half your age and totally fit. Yes, she can do a headstand and has to-die-for-abs and high school cheerleader-like flexibility, but her life is a mess. She's scared, anxious and takes it out on herself by exercising (too much). She longs to feel loved and wants a home and a family like you have.

Or remember that really put together lady at the nail salon?  She may be jetting off to Hawaii in the morning with her rich boyfriend but she hasn't talked to her family in years. She's really lonely and the grudge she's holding is weighing her down like a lead balloon. Each year when the holidays roll around she is surrounded by strangers in a fancy setting, yet she longs for a real Christmas tree and family board games in front of the fireplace in her pj's, like you have.

We have to stop comparing ourselves to others, and to keep in mind that things aren't always how they look on the outside.  Absolutely no one has the perfect life, all the time. There are always going to be hurdles, troubles, and roadblocks to the life we envision. Yet that does not mean we can't enjoy the life we have right now, on our way to our ideal. In fact, one key to living a life of meaning is to embrace where we are at this present moment, to accept, allow and appreciate the life we have, even with all its challenges.

If we keep searching for the lesson in the moment and find something positive in our situation, we can add small nuggets to our internal arsenal that will help us better respond to the next situation that comes our way, good or bad. Since life continues to crank along after our mistakes and mishaps, we need to move with it and not dwell on if onlys or what ifs. 

I know from experience it often feels like we are trudging through thick mud, and barely moving, but we are moving forward, and someday real soon you will wake up and realize you have made it out of the muck and are able to dance in the sun.

If you find yourself wishing your life was as put together and on track as someone else 's, remind yourself that the grass is not always greener. No one has all the answers, or has everything perfectly figured out. We are all equally flawed, and yet we are also all uniquely equipped to love and appreciate the life we are living. We only need to stop judging, comparing and wishing it away. Being brave isn't about being over the top daring, it is about having the courage to take another step when the path ahead isn't clear, or some days isn't even visible. It is about trusting your footing even when the ground in front of you appears rocky. It is about loving what you have but also daring to make your dreams a reality.

You are beautiful, blessed, deserving, worthy, and so very loved. Believe in yourself and know that you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment. Appreciate what you have. Love yourself, your body, your partner, your children, your life. And be brave enough to take a step toward your dream no matter if it feels like it is so far away it only exists in an alternate universe. That is how magic happens.

Be where you are, and be happy there, but never give up on your dream.

Love Is An Open Door

Is there a relationship in your life that feels less than perfect right now? One that threatens your inner peace? Consumes too many of your thoughts and leaves you feeling anxious or guilty or generally out of sorts when you think of it?

Maybe it is time to do something to clear the air.

Your well being and peace of mind are valuable allies in creating a balanced happy life. To extend too many thoughts and energies to a situation that doesn't bring you joy, and ultimately makes you feel bad or small, is excess weight you need to get rid of. 

But what is the appropriate course of action? There is no right answer, only suggestions to consider, because the answer is unique to you. The solution has to allow you to move on, to let go, to be okay with the outcome even if it isn't exactly what you hoped for. And it cannot compromise your integrity or your authenticity. While I personally don't believe in lying to make things right, or apologizing for something I don't believe I did wrong, I can and have swept the situation under the rug and simply let it go. But that doesn't always work either.

The ultimate "right" answer is the one that sits well with you.

Here are some possible courses of action:

1. You could be honest with this person, admitting your wrong doing and say you are sorry only for your portion of the conflict. 

2. You could agree to disagree acknowledging it isn't imperative that you two ever agree, just that you are able to accept each others differences and get along for the sake of keeping the peace (in the family, or the workplace, or wherever).

3. You could let go of any expectations this person will change after your attempt to reconcile, because chances are, they will not. Since you are doing this for you and to rid yourself of the lingering feeling of regret at not attempting to clear things up, even if it does not create the outcome you hoped for, you will feel better for having attempted.

4. You could stand in your personal truth and recognize that you don't have to please everyone around you and if you are okay with you, so should everyone else be. Even if you don't see eye to eye, or for that matter even like each other.

5. You could maintain control of your emotions even if the confrontation goes badly or if the other person is not receptive to your wish to make amends. Adding more drama to the situation by losing your cool only effectively hands all control over to the other person.

While no one can tell you what to do, sometimes talking it out with an unbiased person helps to see the situation with more clarity. In any case, holding onto negative feelings for someone only weighs down your mind, body + spirit, not theirs. Take appropriate action in whatever way feels right for you to create change, and to either close that door or open another.

Growing Into Me

I looked in the mirror today and noticed that my hair is really long, probably too long.

Not too many years ago there would have been a voice in my head telling me I am too old for long hair, insisting I cut it to look more appropriate for a woman of my age. I am so glad my mean voice is 99% silenced. My hair takes all of thirty seconds to put into the side pony I wear everyday. It is so easy, I won't be changing it anytime soon.

Simple, easy, and comfortable should be my three words for the rest of my life.

As I glance down at the clothes I pulled on this morning I realize with a smile that it took less than 15 seconds to grab fresh leggings, a t-shirt and a throw a longer sweater over them both to be dressed and ready for my day. How fantastic. I remember the days of staring into the closet and trying to put together an outfit that made me feel confident.

These days I confidently experience the world in my leggings--not letting that inner voice question if leggings are appropriate for a 50+ year old, or even worrying if my shirt is long enough to cover my butt. I think I am supposed to care more about my appearance, yet I don't. I am so happy with how comfortable I am in my own skin, I don't let much (especially what others think) throw me off.

Being casual about my appearance does not stop me from completely admiring and appreciating a person who looks stylishly pulled together, but in all honesty that person is not me. Even when I try (which is rare these days) I feel like I am playing dress up anyway, and still missing the mark, so why not just be comfortable.

I cannot believe I spent so many years in clothes I hated. Ones that didn't move with me, that bit into my waist or bunched up under my arms and pulled across my shoulders/chest every time I sat up straight. The ones I wore because I thought I was supposed to. It astounds me that I actually wore high heels (by choice).

Now I come home at the end of a day sweaty, worn out and sporting dirty tired feet, but loving the fact that I am so present I can feel every inch of my 53 year old body.

When I was in a job that wasn't right for me I used to arrive home jazzed up, with a head full of swirling negative thoughts, to do lists in every pocket, and my chest constricted in fear that I had forgotten something important or let someone down. I was so out of touch with my body even the constant ache in my belly felt normal.

Being present and aware of my body and breath is exactly the life change I needed to live healthier and happier. Now, after leading yoga all day, I arrive home blissfully wrung out, but at peace with myself. The world no longer passes me by, I am able to see it change in front of me. Buildings don't go up seemingly overnight like they once did. I do my best to be unhurried. I try to do less planning and more enjoying.  My to do list rarely has more than 3 must do's and 7 if I have time's on it.

I've grown into me and into a person I actually like. One who is Present. Aware. Appreciative. Accepting.

Holy crap, I've grown into a person who is actually happy with who she is.