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.

 

What This Yoga Instructor Wants to Hear

Truth.

If class was good, tell your instructor. It just might make their day.

Some days everyone is quiet at the end of class. As a yoga instructor I always wonder is that a good quiet? (like I am just all chill right now) or a bad quiet? (like you just killed me or that class totally stunk). I never know and always wonder. Sometimes I will get lucky and someone will stop me later and tell me it was a great class. Or that they loved class. Or even that they feel better after it. Or they apologize for not having kept up with me. Which is never needed as I consider someone who is listening to their body and doing what they need to do, a great student and, one who understands I am only a guide.

I will take any comments, even criticism (although the highly sensitive person in me is still learning to let the harshest ones roll off my back), because it gives me feedback I can work with. Usually there is always someone who doesn't like class --and that is okay, too. Not liking a class can be because it was too hard/too easy, it worked a body part that was weak in the student, or it didn't work the student as much as they wanted. Sometimes a bad class is nothing at all to do with the instructor, it can be the student having an off day or week. They get too hot, or are dizzy, weak or off balance or they are just plain too tired to do things the way they normally do.

What your yoga instructor wants to hear is truth.

Tell them when you feel great after class.

Tell them when you feel sore the next day.

Tell them you loved the song they played in shavasana.

Tell them you were finally able to connect your hands in the side angle bind.

Tell them yoga is the highlight of their week.

Whatever it is, please feel free to talk to them. We are human and we want to know how we are doing, how we can be better, or just to hear that we are making a difference in your life/body.

Never force it. Never lie. Just share truth when you can.

Thank you!

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

Hello I'm Terri Spaulding...

inspiring little girls who walk with inner confidence

I write so much so fast, I often lose important pieces of my journey. Here is a post I wrote nearly two years ago and saved it to my drafts but never shared. Perhaps it was that tiny voice inside that told me I had already posted something similar and no one would want to read another version of me coming undone.

Today felt like the time to let this fly. I hope hearing these kind of posts is inspiring to you and reaches you when you need to hear there is hope at any age to change and grow into the YOU you were meant to be. Each post seems so uniquely different to me, because it represents something else I needed to free, heal, admit or let go of, yet I also realize many of my posts have a common message and theme. Feel free to advise me if you are getting tired of them.

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Please allow me to re-introduce myself, my name is Terri and for a long, long while I was simply pretending to be me.

I am a naturally curious, creative, truth-telling, highly sensitive/highly aware person whoconnects dots. I always have something to say.

Word Lover -- Student of Spirit -- Unabashed Tree Hugger

When I want to learn something new or understand a different perspective there is no stopping me. I am relentless in my thirst for knowledge and often lose track of time. The days I am able to fill with reading, writing, collecting rocks or taking nature photographs while out walking, are the best kind.  Sprinkle in some sunshine, water, my beloved trees and quality time with those I love, and I am in my element.

You will no longer see a 'me' who dresses for success, nor volunteers her time to further everyone else's dreams. I have my own ideas and I have learned to say YES to all the things that matter most, and no to those that don't.

I happily end most days with dirty feet and a messy side pony.

I played the roles of my life fairly well: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, worker bee; not many ever guessed I was sort of faking it. Heck, I may even have convinced myself.

When others began to define me as organized, responsible, practical, and helpful, I took their praise and ran with it. I built a "me" based on how I wanted to be seen, and in doing so only moved further away from the real me.

The real me isn't organized or overly planned. You may think by looking at my counter tops (which are usually clear) that I am a neatnik, but please don't open my cupboards or drawers or peer too closely into the corners of my home. All is not what it seems.

For years I was a clean freak. I actually cared about dust. Most days now I barely notice it. Well, until someone stops over and then I suddenly see every imperfection. But I am learning to let it go. (Dust comes right back anyway, right? And weirdly, so do spiderwebs). If I don't look in your corners, will you promise not to look in mine?

For years I just went through the motions; doing what I thought I should do, doing what I thought I was supposed to do, doing what the world expected of me. I made 'doing' so important I eventually lost touch with being, with the essence of me. I gave up my power to all those external things and stopped refueling from the inside. I stopped doing the things that brought me joy. 

I forgot how to just be. I forgot how much I loved sitting under a tree or walking in the woods, or collecting rocks. I forgot how to daydream, to be inspired by all the little beautiful things in nature.

I lost all spontaneity and gave up meandering for getting somewhere fast. I was always in a hurry.

I stopped dancing like no one was watching. I stopped writing. I stopped growing. I stopped leading with my heart.

My days were packed with so much accomplishing I had little time to enjoy anything. And I wasn't showing up in my own life, or the lives of those I loved, the way I was meant to. The way I had been born to.

I lost myself. Lost my once positive disposition. Lost faith in me. Lost my connection to joy.

Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say life circumstances converged upon me and broke me wide open. Stopped me dead in my over accomplishing tracks. Hitting rock bottom involves a fall--and when you are at rock bottom you have no where else to go but up.

A little less than a month ago I turned 52. I used to think being that age was an ending. I am so happy to say that it is only the beginning of a new era for me. One that finally feels authentically me.

Each day I am filled with awe and wonder at how fortunate I am to have found joy, freedom and inner peace doing what I love; doing what comes easily to me. Following my heart.

I made life way too hard for a lot of years and while I still have work to do, and many lessons to learn, I am making great progress to living authentically as me. Living from my heart has made all the difference in my journey back to me.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Finding Her Worth

And when she allowed herself to feel worthy—something shifted in her. Doors began to open that long had remained closed.

She stopped following everyone else’s rules.

And she began to think on her own.

She found if she listened close, she could hear her own heartbeat again.

With practice it grew louder, stronger, and braver.

Slowly, but with great emotion, she began to blossom.

Her magic began to return in little and big ways.

It started with great sadness at everything.

Then she began to notice beauty all around. Her corner of the world went from grey to brilliant, nearly overnight. She was filled with an energizing wonder. And fueled by awe.

There were leaves on the trees again, dragonflies who landed on her big toe, and sparkles of light on the water that she was certain were a million tiny angels waiting to play.

There was beauty in the sun, in the trees, and in the smiles of every person she encountered.

Her body felt lighter, freer and her spirit began to soar.

To fly.

Like she used to in her dreams when she was little.

In the worst of times she dreamed of tornadoes, teeth falling out, finding money that wasn’t really there and dirty bathrooms. She lived in fear, surrounded by worry, and desperately trying to control everything around her.

Now her dreams were of happier things.

Slowly she stopped being scared that she was doing it all wrong. She un-clenched the tight muscles of her body. She breathed.

Because the fear of screwing it all up had already happened. She had failed. She wasn't perfect, nor she realized, would she ever be. And dwelling on all her past mistakes, both large and small, only kept her trapped.

So she tried something new.

She began to believe in herself again. To take back her power.

And with the courage and joy that came along with the newfound freedom of following her heart, she allowed herself to start doing it all right.

Her way.

She rediscovered the magic.

She found the love.

And all that had once been a distant dream, a hopeful wish, became hers.

She not only began to flourish; she was able to breathe fully for the first time in forever.

 She listened to another voice inside now, and this one was kinder and gentler.

It forgave, it loved, it was compassionate. It didn't judge.

And it said all the right things to bolster her confidence.

And on the day when the voice told her she was indeed worthy of everything she ever dreamed.

She cried.

And cried.

Until the tears finally changed from sadness to relief. No longer were they heavy tears she tried to stem.

Instead the happy, joy-filled tears fell unabashedly, cleansing her soul of years of struggle.

And she began to float with the current, instead of frantically swimming upstream.

Her spirit felt hopeful.

The world was no longer the hostile, busy, noisy, draining place she had allowed it to be.

And since he was no longer fighting so hard to be something she was not, she was at ease in her body.

She became peaceful. Calm. Quiet. A better version of herself.

And when the now tiny mean voice inside tried to make her feel guilty for all the years she wasted trying so hard, she reminded it that it no longer had power over her. She was the one in charge.  

Now when she meets people who struggle like she once did, she wants to shout from the rooftops that it doesn’t have to be so hard. But she knows that everyone has to learn their lessons in their own time.

And nearly everyone not living authentically as their true self needs to hear a new gentler voice inside.

One that says all the right things.

You are worthy.

You are good.

You are loved.

You are blessed.

You are powerful.

You are enough.

Because she now knows if you believe in yourself, your whole world changes.

You CAN soar.

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.

A Lesson of Surrender, Patience and Faith

I've been having bad dreams lately. I think my spirit is telling me that I am off kilter.

When you pin your hopes on something and it doesn't go exactly as planned, it is easy to get discouraged and to lose the drive to continue. When this happens to me, and it has, often, you need to evaluate if you are doing what your heart tells you, and more importantly if you are doing it with the right intention. If the answer is wishy-washy or uncertain, then you may be in the wrong situation or trying to force something that wasn't meant to be. If the answer you hear is a resounding 'yes', I am following my heart and 'yes', I believe this is the right thing to do, then you have to give it time and see it through.

I am referring to the space + studio we recently opened. It is scary having a lease and a bill to pay that I didn't ever have before. Even though I prepared myself that break even was okay for me for the summer, I had secretly hoped for more. No great cause for alarm or anything as break even is happening, but there is possibly some roll up your sleeves work ahead to get things going that I need to do. Because I am listening to my heart in this situation, I know I just need to give it time and see it through. It feels so right. But I am not going to pretend that at times I don't get a little anxious and disappointed. And honestly, worried. Gosh why is it so easy to let doubt creep in?

Doubt is a low energy feeling that is not my friend. It tells me I am sliding out of balance. This is when I know I need time with my trees. I need space to breathe. I desire a warm, gentle breeze to come blow the doubt and discouragement out of my brain. Deep within me I know I am doing the right thing this time around. A needed thing. I just need to put on my big girl pants and keep trudging forward.

Doubt is definitely an energy sucker for me.  And letting go and trusting is really challenging for a recovering control freak like me. But I am prepared to do it!

I am so thankful for wonderful supportive friends and family. And for bright patches of hope amidst the little disappointments.

Perhaps the universe is making sure I really understand this lesson in surrender. Life and plans may not always run smoothly and easily, but I plan to hold on fiercely to my dreams and maintain faith, patience a positive attitude.

There, personal pep talk complete. Time to go enjoy the day.

You Inspire Me

Yes, you. Every time you sign up for an event, or come to a workshop to reconnect with yourself, or try a new pose in my yoga class, you inspire me. And you teach me, too. Yes, really you do. I would not be half the person I am today if it weren't for the lessons you have taught me.

Thank you.

For your courage, your sass, your strength, your curiosity, your creativity, and your super inspiring belief in yourself.

I love that you aren't afraid to change directions mid-plan, to acknowledge you changed your mind, to try new things even if they feel awkward, to shine your light as bright as you can even in the face of criticism from others, to fly your freak flag without worry of what others will think, to make mistakes and still rise up strong after them. Watching you grow, change, and evolve into the best "you", the real you, gives me the strength to keep searching for the real me.

You give me the courage to shine my light as bright as I can and to let go of the need to dim it when others feel threatened by its brilliance. 

I have the luxury of not only following my heart and making a living at it, but I also get to be inspired and motivated by super cool people every time I step on my mat or open the doors to the studio. How can you not be influenced by watching others grow, change and create forward + positive motion?

Some days I am bursting with pride like a mama hen as I watch my chicks grow and evolve into their true and happiest selves. 

Life is truly good.

Yoga Should Feel Good

I was digging through my drafts over the weekend and ran across this post from a couple years back. I had written it after I tried a new yoga class and was less than satisfied with the instructor and the way the class left me feeling afterwards. It has stuck with me over the last couple of years as a lesson learned about what I never want to do. I can only hope no student ever leaves my class feeling as I did. Here is the old post, written in italics:

While I might not say I fully love my body, I will say I am okay with it. By now I know my
body's strengths, its limitations, and of course the "wish list" for what I would improve on it if there was an easy way to edit your body. But overall I'm comfortable with "me".

Why then, after trying a new yoga class, did I feel inadequate, embarrassed, and have the awful feeling that there was something wrong with me. That somehow, I was not right for yoga?

It always made me sad to hear people say they were hesitant to try yoga. Or that they were intimidated by yoga. I always wondered where that fear came from, and now I know.
Last week I tried a new instructor and a class called "beyond" yoga, which was billed as a regular yoga class.

There were only two of us there, which from the get go makes things a bit awkward. In this particular instructor's style of teaching, she did not "do" the practice with us as I do, instead she watched us, like a hawk. Some people may like the individualized attention but for a highly sensitive person like me it was torture to think she was watching my every move. It didn't help that she verbally, and physically, corrected, and corrected, and corrected us. To the point where even I, a yoga instructor, was lost in all the instructions. Gone was the calming, peaceful feeling I get when I tune into my body during yoga. I was a jumble of nerves as the 1.5 hour class dragged along. The instructor spent a lot of time talking about herself and her recent enlightening experience as she sat on a cliff and meditated. Usually someone who appreciates stories, I was finding nothing inspiring about hers.

Apparently what my body looked like in the poses she talked us through did not fit her vision of what it should look like. Her corrections were based on how she thought it should look on me, without ever asking how it felt. This seems wrong to me, because no two bodies are exactly the same. Even if I felt good in a pose using my props, she corrected me to do it differently. Her constant suggestions made me feel increasing worse about my body and super hesitant to move into the next position.

Wanting it just to end about halfway through the practice I could no longer stay silent and wondered why she couldn't she see/sense/feel how frustrated I was getting. I felt compelled to offer up a reason why I wasn't doing what she asked for so I said: "Well, I am a tight-muscled girl." And her response was, "Oh let's not talk in the negative", and then whispered conspiratorially to the other woman in class whom she knew, "we need to teach her to appreciate her body."  Really? I wanted to walk out but stayed the course, finished the class and got out of there fast.

Epilogue: That place is closed now.

I do appreciate my body. All of it. The things it can do, and the things it cannot do. I think overall I am very in tune with it. Very honest and real about what I do easily and what poses require props and modifications to have me even come close to looking like the poses shown in Yoga Journal. And living in a tight body has helped me understand how alignment is different for each unique body, and made me realize the importance of asking how things feel rather than to make a judgement based on how they look.

After thinking about this experience over time, I'm sad that a fellow yoga instructor made me feel that my body was inadequate for yoga, and then topped that off by making an incorrect assumption about how I felt about my own body. The reality is that I am a tight-muscled girl, I am my father's daughter. I am not very flexible and I am ok with that, and with "me." I work hard to stay as flexible as I can, to open my body up and to work with what I have been given. Perhaps it is just me looking for the silver lining, but I really believe that the tightness of my body gives me great insight into the bodies of my students and how they may feel as we move into poses that require a level of flexibility or strength they don't currently have access to.

No one should have the right to make another person feel that they are not doing it right, that they are not enough, or that they are lacking. No one should be able to take away someone's joy in moving their body or doing yoga in whatever way feels good to them. If you need savasana for the whole hour--as an instructor it delights me to see you take it.

If your yoga instructor currently leaves you feeling bad about yourself or your body and what it is able to do, (especially if the instructor is me), don't go back. But please do find another class or instructor that speaks your language. Yoga should feel good!

Namaste-

Terri

Dear Momma

I've been on a cleaning streak this weekend. I am delighting in the feeling of releasing my junk.

In clearing off my desk I realize that I write a lot. Sometimes I run across things worth posting. Here's one I thought was. It is a letter "Nollie" wrote to her Momma at Christmas. A reminder to all women how important it is to be the best "you", you can be for those who love you. Even if that means taking time out just for you without guilt, or daring to risk failure by following your dreams, or letting the house be dirty while you stop everything to giggle & play.

Stay present with your littles, dream big, take chances, love fully. If we keep ourselves "safe" and live in the 'I wish I would have', our littles may someday do the same. Soar baby. Soar. You've got this!

Dear Momma:

My little hands and little heart want you to know how much I love and appreciate you. To me you are the most beautiful person in the world, and I love you unconditionally. You ARE my world. I watch what you do to know how I should be and count on you for guidance as I grow and learn. Until I am bigger and can talk with words, I can only give you my unconditional love and trust in return.

Well, that and my smile –the one I save just for you—the one that I hope you see reaches all the way to my eyes and lights up my face, and my sloppy open mouthed kisses that show you that I want to eat you up because you are so yummy, and my night time cuddles where I get so close to you that I can smell you and feel your hair and your soft face so that I can feel safe and take in all your momma love to fill me up.

I am growing up fast. I am learning new things. I will always need your help to grow into the best me I can be. Even when I do have words and we argue or disagree. I will always need you to be my rudder, to keep me on track. Right now I want you to read to me, play with me, sing to me, dance with me, explain the world to me the way you see it and I also want you to teach me to dream, to write, to draw to create, to imagine and to tell me that I can be and do anything I choose to. Just like I know you can also achieve anything you really want to do or be.

I want you to also know that you never have to be anything more than “you” around me and I will always be proud that you are my momma. Because I will always love you. Unconditionally.

Some days I know that I challenge you, and as I grow I will probably challenge you more—just like some day you will challenge me. That is the way it should be. With unconditional love, we can be truthful and honest and agree to disagree and that is okay as long as we finish those moments with love and hugs. We will not run away from the tough stuff, we will face it together. That way I will know that it is okay if I make mistakes, and that you will still love me and believe in me, and so I can show you that it is okay if you make mistakes, too.

I know you have things in life you want to accomplish and for that I am so proud of you. Someday I too will have big things (bigger than walking or talking) that I want to accomplish also. I know you will be there to help me through, just as I am here to remind you that you are loved beyond measure and that you can get through anything with me at your side.  Some of the things we want to accomplish will be easier for us than others. I want you to know that I will be here to support you (and know that you will be there to support me, too) even if that just means holding my hand as I grow brave. To wipe my face, clean my poopy diapers, brush my hair, paint my toenails, teach me my colors and my numbers, show me how to navigate the world as my own person. Together we can be each other’s strength.

If things get tough for you I hope that you will feel my little hand in yours, giving you my love and support and encouragement for you to keep going. No dream is unachievable, no wish too great for you to receive. Hold hope, faith, and love in your heart like I will, and together we will be unstoppable.

I count on you to care for me and to inspire me every day. You will always be my sunshine. My comfort. My safe haven. My beloved Momma.

Remember to take care of yourself and be the best you you can be to show me the way.

I love you Momma with all my heart and soul. Thank you for being the best and only Momma for me.

Nollie, Dec. 2015

A Leap of Faith

Every time I lead a yoga class I have the opportunity to set an intention. Some days the intention pops in without a thought as if it had just been waiting for me to notice it. On other days, when there are too many thoughts/intentions swirling around in there, I simply ask for the ability to shine my brightest light; it is perhaps considered a 'catch all' intention for me.

That does not mean I take it lightly. If I am to shine my brightest light I need to believe in my own power. To walk my talk, practice what I preach, move out of my safe zone and take chances toward living my dream.

I've had a lot going on in my head the last year. A lot of thinking, a lot of visualizing, a lot of dreaming and imagining, and with the help of two crafty friends, finally ONE BIG LEAP into the exhilarating unknown of renting a space of my own.

I have toyed with the idea of having my own space to work from long before I left my safe job and followed my heart. I didn't really want to open a yoga studio, although I did consider it for a bit, nor a store, I wanted to create a space where people could gather. And where they would want to return to. Again and again, learning new things, meeting new people, organically creating a community of like-minded, like-hearted people poised and ready to grow into the best, happiest version of themselves.

As soon as I would think "I want a space", another thought would immediately follow "but I don't want another place to take care of." I am certain that the universe was as confused as I was.

The more I watched others around me live their dream and create their own spaces of comfort, where they did their best work, I recognized that I needed to take another step forward if I was to learn from them and create a nourishing space to grow myself. While I can see the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears that go into making small, local businesses work, I also see the rewards. I am willing to accept the challenge knowing in the end it will be worth it. "Build it -- they will come", I cannot tell you how many times that intention popped into my head over the last three years.

I have watched with awe + wonder the many friends and acquaintances who have forged their own paths to become independent, small business owners. I admire their bad-assery, their focus and their courage. Whether you are a retail shop owner, an artist, a jewelry designer, an art studio owner, a yoga studio owner, a make up artist, a wedding photographer, a realtor, or an at home day care operator, you inspire me to be a better person as I watch you do your thing.

It occurred to me one Saturday as we crafted around a table, my dream was bigger than me--it really had two parts, and to accomplish it, I needed help. The space would be twofold. A space to do my personal growth/self-discovery workshops, and a space for creativity. If reconnecting with my creativity was such a big boost to my happiness level,  maybe a joint effort with my artistic friends could help get others moving forward toward greater happiness as well.

With a clear intention in my head, phase two of my dream came together quickly. The right space became available, and the dream became reality (and a lease) beginning today.

I am so excited. Now the plan is to fill the small studio with the love, light and growth of the strong, creative, beautifully talented people I continue to meet daily.

Please come Explore + Connect + Create with us. My company is still called Get Off Go (Coaching), and the joint effort between Amanda, Sue Ann and myself is called Soulistic Sisters. Here is our mission statement, our vision and our logo. And a list of our upcoming workshops. We hope you will join us as we begin to live our dream and hopefully, help uncover yours.

 

Mission Statement: To cultivate a community of spirited women who embrace holistic methods of raising their personal consciousness and who collectively seek ways to lift the vibration of the planet. Soulistic Sisters flourish in the company of other like-hearted, aware and awakened women of all ages and believe in lifelong learning, the power of creativity, and the importance of finding and maintaining inner peace. We relish community, authenticity, and each other's badassery!

Purpose: Our studio is a supportive and fun space to create and learn. We offer a variety of holistic workshops to awaken your spirit, ignite your creativity and connect you with your tribe.

Soulistic Sisters Studio --- Come Explore + Connect + Create with us soon! Here is a list of our March workshops.





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.

If You Could See Yourself the Way I Do...

If you could see yourself the way I do...

You would never doubt your beauty. Your strength. Your creativity. Or your talents.

You would never, ever doubt your intrinsic worth.

You bring an incredibly special light to this world just by being authentically you, even on the days you feel less than bright.

So many of us believe that we need to be fixed. That we need to be better. That we need to be something we are not. And we are SO very hard on ourselves. Our mean voice never gives us a break, never allows us to feel the warmth of a compliment, or bask in the glow of a job well done. We are always qualifying, defending, apologizing so someone else doesn't suck the wind out of our sails and criticize us first. We want to be the first to expose our weaknesses, to let the world know that we are aware of what we could have done better, because deep down we are so afraid that we will fall apart if you tell us what we fear most, that we did it wrong, or worse that we failed. 

Some of us do not remember a time when we didn't try so hard.

But there was a time once. A time when we believed we could be anything we wanted to be, when we unapologetically let our talents shine and when we never doubted our purpose, or that we mattered, and mostly when we didn't struggle to be (the elusive) "more".

We need to get back to that time when we were enough just as we were and when the voice in our head loved us, instead of always disapproving of the way we did things.

We must stop comparing ourselves to others, quit striving to be perfect, cease wanting everyone to like us, and begin loving ourselves, not trying to get others to love us. We need to lose the ridiculously high standard we hold ourselves to, so that our light can begin to shine bright again.

Like it once did, when we were innocent and free of the load of shame and guilt we've collected as we've grown.

Don't let your own mean voice dim your brilliant light. Stop thinking of yourself as a being who needs work and improvement, instead view yourself the way the world sees you: as Beautiful. Unique. Special. Full of potential. Perfectly Imperfect.

We often have no problem seeing others for who they are, appreciating their strengths and accepting their weaknesses. See yourself in the same forgiving light, stop comparing, stop measuring, stop judging yourself and simply LOVE yourself for the unique being you are.

You are a warrior.

Strong, solid, courageous, gorgeous and kind. You have talent, grace, beauty and wisdom that no one else has. Use your strengths, shine your brightest light out into the world without worry, without fear, without moderation.  

Do not dim your light for anyone. If someone cannot handle your brilliance, they are not meant to be in your life. If your mean voice is not supportive, shut it down immediately, and search out your inner cheerleader.

She sees your brilliance. She's cheering for you. Can you hear her?

Speak in a kinder, gentler voice to yourself and remember how much you are loved.

If I Can Do It, So Can You

Most of us are leaders in one way or another. Some of us don't lead corporations, or troops, or inspire trends in the fashion industry, yet we all have the potential to be influencers of those around us, especially those we love. In fact, we never truly know who is watching, imitating, learning from or listening to us. Our reactions/responses to situations, both good and bad, are often life lessons for others, and hopefully most of them aren't lessons about what not to do.

A few years back I was a chronic worrier and the stress of always thinking ahead to what might happen then trying to prevent it, affected me physically and emotionally. I became someone I was not, a critical, unhappy, burned out mess. My insides constantly felt like they were going to fall out (I carry my stress in my gut), I had trouble sleeping, and all I could do was see the negative of every situation. I allowed my fears, worries and expectations to get the best of my emotions, and the best of me.

One of the biggest catalysts in my life was making a Vision Board in 2011. I went into the process blindly, not knowing what to expect, which turned out to be the best thing for me. For once I didn't over think it, I just trusted the process as it happened. What came out on my board made no immediate sense to me, yet a few years later so much has changed. That Vision Board sparked so many changes and set the wheels in motion for me to make healthier and happier life choices. My career, my outlook on life, my relationships. my level of inner peace, and my health are all so much better now.

I realize the "control" I once clung to was a mirage, a quagmire of crap I concocted to keep myself safe from failing, from getting hurt, and ultimately from succeeding. I have since figured out I have no control over anything except how I respond to the life I have. And, that my happiness level is completely up to me.

I want to be known as a person exactly opposite of who I once became. One who is a joy to be around, who brings a healing and peaceful vibe with her into all situations. One who allows life to happen (without constant resistance), who appreciates all she has and never loses faith in herself or those she loves.  It took a while for me to figure out my personal prescription for wellness, but once I did, I am now able to maintain (and keep) a deep sense of inner peace. I think I have finally grown into a better version of me.

The Vision Board Process worked for me, so I know it can work for you also. If you are interested in making some life changes and trust me to help that process along, here are two upcoming chances to Vision Board with me:

Saturday, January 30 from 9:00 am -12:30 pm at Inspirations of Art Studio (spots are nearly full) $35 early registration| $45 after Jan. 20. Register with me by sending an email to terri@getoffgo.com or calling 616-446-7147.

Saturday, February 13 from 11:00 am- 2:30 pm at Armentality Movement Arts Center. Advance Registration /$45 ***Invite a lady friend that can benefit from this workshop for 1/2 Tuition | After February 6 /$55Register at Armentality.com or call 616-550-8244.

I hope to see your beautiful soul around the table at one of my workshops. It is never too late to grow + change and to live the life you've always dreamed of. You deserve it!
 

Balance

It is a sparkly new day. The last day of my mini-break. Maybe the first day I haven't felt sick since my two week hiatus started, thanks to the antibiotics I finally called in for.

In my head I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish as I embraced two weeks of "rest" from teaching classes. In the reality of Christmas and New Year's, the list stayed in my head as necessary sleep and rest, and holiday commitments slowly ate up the time. The good news is I now have a whole new year ahead to "accomplish" that internal list.

I used to get mad at myself for allowing time to get away from me, now I keep my plans loose in hopes that something spontaneous, or nothing at all with come forth. Vowing to live in the present means not following the predetermined path (or to do list) inside my head and it often leads me to places I wasn't intending to go. Sometimes those prove to be the most enjoyable learning experiences and at the end of the day allow me to sigh in appreciation and content.

I have always been a serious homebody--especially in the winter. I could stay snowed in all winter as long as I had family and wine. Playing cards, watching cheesy hallmark movies, crafting, taking naps with my grand baby, making dinner, never leaving the house for an entire weekend = heaven to me.

Sometimes I wonder if I have gone too far in the opposite direction and am too loosely planned, but then I think about the "old" me, the busy me, and I realize I never want to be her again. I don't know if it is a natural progression as I age, or just my new go with the flow philosophy, but I've noticed that too many things on the calendar overwhelm me really fast. It used to be the framework that kept me afloat and many people still expect I am going to return from my hiatus to become that person again.

In my heart, I know I am not.

I sometimes wonder, have I become lazy? Selfish? A bad friend?

Then I realize that just maybe I have finally dialed into the balance that works for me, the one that keeps me at calm and peace and allows me to respond to the unexpected situations in life rather than react like I used to. I am cautious about over committing myself and then not being able to live in the present moment as it unfolds with all its unplanned glory. I really don't like rushing or scrambling anymore. Slow and steady wins the race for me.

Balance. I once read a book that said creative and passionate people don't need balance; balance is bad. Boring. Uninspiring. That passion/talent/creativity exist in the highs and lows, and we should never simply strive for balance.

I thought about that for a long while, I even tested their theory and discovered that balance is where I thrive.

I understand achieving the perfect balance is an individual thing. No one can tell me what my prescription for wellness is, even I find myself reevaluating daily to make sure I walk that delicate line. And on the flip side, I cannot tell anyone else what their recipe for wellness is.

I can tell you without hesitation that you have all the answers you need, deep inside. And the challenge will always be in learning to listen.

Emergence

As I reflect on my 2015, I am pleased to note that I leave it with a smile and a contented sigh. By other people's standards I certainly did not accomplish a lot, nor did I make everyone I care about happy; but I don't think that was what I needed to be my happiest/best self. I needed a quiet, focused, simple life in 2015 -- and that is what I got. I was inward focused, a serious homebody, and I stayed true to my 3 words for the year: Freedom, Growth & Joy. The result of doing so is that for once I ended a year thoroughly enjoying the journey, even if it had a few unexpected twists and turns.

Here are some of the things I will take away from the past year:

  • Family is not defined by blood
  • Sometimes the best most unselfish thing you can do is to just send someone love
  • Letting go of expectations is a huge key to finding inner peace
  • Freedom is waiting on the other side of silencing your mean voice
  • Embrace stillness + quiet daily, only then can you hear your inner (true) voice
  • You cannot please everyone
  • True friends love you for who you are, not what you do for them
  • Believe in the power of you, always, you are more powerful than you know
  • Love is fuel
  • Grand parenting is like a do over of all the good parts of parenting you slept through the first time around
  • You are never too old to grow, change and embrace your full potential

I picked my three words to live by in the last few minutes of 2015. I think they found me -- reminding me that I cannot become the butterfly I was meant to be until I leave the safety net of my self-created cocoon. I believe these words will challenge me into a better version of myself in 2016.

Express

My feelings, my ideas, my true self -- not only through writing but in little ways and conversations every day. I want to have the courage to truly be me, without doubt, regret, or explanation and without worrying what others might think.

Embrace

My talents, my strengths, my imperfect self and my beautiful life. I want to allow in success and continue to believe that I am worthy of everything I desire.

Create

It is time for the ideas and visions I have in my head to make their presence known to the world.

I won't promise to write more in the coming year as that feels more like a resolution than a direction, but I think it will happen naturally as a result of me keeping my three words at the forefront of my mind.

In 2016 I do promise to shine the brightest light I can. Even in the darkest moments of real life.

Namaste,

Terri

 

 

All About the Mushrooms

Nature is uniquely beautiful.

I went for my morning walk with my camera in tow today, not unusual for me, but for most of the summer I left it behind. Today I felt the urge to carry it, and only a short distance into my trek I realized why. Fungi was calling.

Throughout my quiet walk, several people stopped me to chat, one even asking me if I was "the" photographer who posted all the beautiful bird photos on the BSL facebook page. Nope. Not me. That's my friend Judy. I like to take photos of weird things. Last fall it was leaves with droplets of water on them, one fall it was treelined roads, and today it apparently is all about the mushrooms. They had popped up everywhere on my walking path, seemingly overnight, and I was fascinated. Maybe even a tad bit embarrassed.

I think the most beautiful patterns come from nature, in their weird, awesome, ugly way they inspire me. And they also remind me of other things. Today I saw sea creatures, candy corn, brains, sponges, chocolate cookies, and some other unidentifiable things.

I decided to share some of what I encountered. What do you see?