Posts tagged growth
Is This Your Season?

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

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

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

Pop up swamps teem with the sounds of spring.

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

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

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

The shift from hibernation to growth and change.

Like people, swamps house crazy potential within.

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

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

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

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

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

Conditions are right for forward motion and incoming joy.

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

Without darkness there would not be knowledge of the light.

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

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

When you feel stuck in life or in your progress:

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

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

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

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

5.) Give yourself a break.

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

What If?

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

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

Until I crashed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste beautiful soul. Namaste.


My Three Words for 2017

Peace-filled New Year Greetings!

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

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

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

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

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

My New Year's Wish For You:

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

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




Happy New Year from my happy heart to yours.

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

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.


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.



A New Year's Message from A Grateful Me

Hello lovely reader:

As another year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the twists and turns my life has taken in the past year. As a girl who once attempted to plan out her life, it is almost laughable that a lot of what happened is nothing I would have ever planned. Some of it is nothing I ever imagined I'd even experience and yet it has to be one of the best years ever. Maybe not in the way most people would measure a successful year --- like by how much money I made, or how much I grew my new business, or what new stuff I was able to acquire. Instead I am measuring it by how much happiness was in it, how much love I felt and how easy it was to be fully me.

In 2014 I practiced being present to all the little things that mattered (and even to the ones that didn't seem to matter). I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss a thing. I rejoiced in both sunny and cloudy days, in planned fun and in unexpected detours, and I was able to find the sunny side of nearly every situation. As a result, I felt calm, peaceful and happy nearly all the time. Where I once would have let the unexpected get me down and stress me out, I went with the flow, stayed peaceful within, and paid attention to the greater meanings. And there were plenty of life lessons.

Even when it wasn't all rosy I looked forward to each day and the new possibilities. I watched for signs and remained open to opportunities. The times I was able to spend with my love, my family, my trees, my magic friends, my students and with my words were among the best moments of my life.

I have also experienced great kindness this year. Compliments I never saw coming (which to me are delightful affirmations that I am on the right track), and connections that rekindled or were made for the first time which turned out to be exactly what I needed next. I have been blessed to learn so many new and exciting things, and to put into practice what I have learned to empower others. Not only have I been able to guide them to personal wellness, I get paid to help them feel better in their own bodies. How lucky I am to have arrived in this beautiful place!

I made a lot of time for me in 2014. And as a result I feel like I can breathe again. My three words to live by were Clarify, Cultivate and Savor and in looking back, I believe I really did infuse them into my year.

Clarify: I let some things go this year along with the worry and fear and control I once clung to, and they were really important things: friendships, opportunities, job offers,  responsibilities. Clarifying and letting them go left me feeling lighter and freer.

Cultivate: I have learned some important life lessons in 2014 with the help of some incredibly talented friends and students. Their honesty and willingness to allow me to grow with them has lit my path ahead. One really big lesson that took me many tries to learn was saying "no" to furthering other people's dreams, and fully saying "yes" to furthering mine. I learned to believe in myself again and that is huge.

Savor: Part of appreciating what is right in front of you is being present to the beauty of everything.  For me that requires downtime to rejuvenate.  I made time to "turtle in" this past year and that allowed me to be the best version of myself. The people in my life deserve the best I have to offer and in order to give it to them, I require a lot of unplanned creative "me" time. I have learned that me being overwhelmed is awful for everyone around me. Keeping myself clear and bright allowed me to shine my best light ever in 2014. I think maybe I accomplished something I have always attempted --- to lead by example.

I wanted to reach out via this post and wish you a wonderful new year filled with love + light and to encourage you to make the changes necessary to bring forth the best YOU! Thank you also for reading my blog. Although I write for me (because that is how I process, grow and learn) I am grateful for every person who comments on the blog (or in person) to say that my words resonate. I am a word girl, and I understand that coming upon the right words at just the right time can be life changing. It is an honor to hear that a few of my posts have found their way to the right people at the right time this past year.

Namaste: the Spirit in me sees, honors and appreciates the spirit in you. Have a happy and blessed new year. My words for 2015 are Freedom, Growth & Joy in case you didn't notice. Have you chosen yours yet? I would love for my readers to hear what direction your life will be taking this next year.

--Terri Spaulding

P.S. Just in case you were looking for inspiration and/or ideas on how to make 2015 a year of forward motion, here is my latest newsletter with upcoming opportunities to come grow with me. Feel free to share this link anyone who might interested. Word of mouth, personal recommendations, and shares are the way I find my proper audience. Many, many thanks in advance.


Growing Into Me

I'm not the same person I was. Not at all.

It is funny to see the realization dawn on the faces of those who knew me "when".

Questions of: Who are you? And what did you do with Terri? play across their faces.

The "old me" as I call it, or really the mask I wore to the world showed me as extremely organized. Planned. Productive. Future thinking. Busy. Distracted.

The "real" me is calmer, quieter, less organized and way happier.

But this brings up a question or two. Where did the majority of my old friends go? The ones who counted on me to organize, plan, prepare and hostess events that they enjoyed. They seem to be gone, along with my mask, my organized self and my clean house. Have I neglected them, or am I just no longer what they need?

Forward motion brings changes. And I recognize that this is all okay. Things are happening as they should.

But the new me still needs to be around people. I especially appreciate like minded people, the ones who get me for who I am: a student of spirit, a girl who communicates with trees, who sees colors behind her eyes, who lives to see signs that she is on the right path--even if she can no longer see the path ahead of her as she travels.

I believe in the real me. The new/old me. She is happy, honest, mostly carefree, and totally alive in the beautiful moments of life. I am not always in my head thinking about what might be (well, that still happens occasionally), or looking back at what was. I live more spontaneously and enjoy the moments at hand.

From the light shining off the dew in this morning's grass, to the larvae I saw stuck to my beautiful backyard tree --to the hug I got from my grown up son, still sluggish from sleep, I appreciate every little thing in front of me. I am thankful for every. beautiful. moment.

Reconstruction in Progress...Pardon My Dust

I've been concentrating on the "now" for the last few weeks, and as a result it has been very quiet on this blog. In a way I have been reconstructing myself, crawling out of the darkness and into the light of my life.

It isn't as though I haven't been writing....I just haven't shared. I've been sorting things out, following signs from the universe--savoring the little moments of spring that somehow I have managed to miss for 30 some years. It's been heavenly to see my beloved trees get their clothes (leaves) back on. As much as I think I am watching them for signs of change via buds and blooms, it seems they go from bare to bedazzled overnight. It is magnificent.

I spent the first half of this year "turtling" in and focusing on finding and keeping my calm inner center, and now I am feeling the urge to be creative. For years I have believed my own lies and thought that I was not artistic. I recently took a chance on trying my hand at painting, and oddly enough it gave me self-confidence (not so much in my painting), but in my artistic vision.

I am oddly proud of the things I have created lately. (And it feels really weird to admit this to myself and to you.)

Maybe the difference is that I have stopped judging everything the way I once did, so I don't paint, photograph nature or write for any other reason than it fuels my soul. I don't care if anyone else likes it. I am not doing it to be liked. I am doing it because my inner voice tells me I need to do it.

It is not only freeing to release judgment of my own work (which I did for decades and always found it lacking), but crazily motivating to allow myself to feel pride in it. I spent the majority of my life pointing out flaws in myself instead of celebrating my strengths. This new self-appreciation does a lot to support my inner cheerleader, the one who not only believes in me, but encourages me.

As memories and childhood experiences float through my now quieter mind, I realize that I spent the majority of my life as an observer of the world around me. It was my way of making sure I "fit in", wasn't a burden, did my share, and never let anyone down. I was a good person to have around--I got things whipped into shape, I walked in front of many and smoothed out bumps in the path ahead--sometimes before they even recognized there was going to be a bump-- but in doing so I rarely considered my own needs. I focused outward and wrongly believed that putting myself first in line meant I was being selfish. Silly me. I have learned that I cannot fully be present with those I love unless I am being true to myself. The old adage "You cannot heal those around you until you heal yourself" is one that has made a huge difference in me in the last year. Finding my way back to "me" has led to better relationships with everyone I love.

I recognize now that I never really fully lived or appreciated the moments of my life. I was just passing through until....until something. Next week, more money, when the kids grew up, when I had the house clean. I put off my joy until I accomplished the next thing, only it got so crazy that the next thing never stopped coming. It was like an obsession to keep accomplishing or what ...I would fall apart? I would fail? I would be judged lazy? I would cease to exist? I am not really sure what my ego convinced me of....I just know that life became overwhelming and exhausting.

Maybe my book (the one I have started writing) will help peel back the layers of why I allowed this to happen. Maybe writing it out will help someone else learn from my mistakes and avoid the dark trap of accomplishment and doing.

All I know is that I am forever changed. I intend to truly live in every moment of my life. I will put myself at the front of the line because I realize I am nothing to those I love unless I am truly and 100% myself. And to be truly myself I have to heed the quiet voice inside that says move your body, creatively express your soul, talk with the trees, and laugh with those you love; often and fully.

So I am, and I will continue. And I will savor every second.

Goodbye Resolutions: Hello Three Words to Live By

I have done away with new year's resolutions forever.

Instead of inspiring me throughout the year to be the best I can be, resolutions wind up bringing me down. The new year invokes an image of a clean slate, a do over, a chance to start fresh for me, but that also brings forth self-reflection. For years I have hauled out my list of New Year's Resolutions from the year prior and "judged" my own performance. Some years I have actually accomplished a couple of the resolutions on my list, but most years I just wind up feeling bad about what I didn't do instead of being happy about what I did. 

Last year I decided to try something new. Instead of creating a list of resolutions I was destined to fail, I chose three words to live by in 2013. Not sure how it would work, I also set a couple back up resolutions. After a year of incredible change and growth I cannot even remember the resolutions I set, but the words were part of my every day life. It was like having an automatic intention to live by.

As I look back on 2013 I realize how well this new approach worked for me. I am proud of my achievements instead of busting myself for what I didn't do and I am feeling positive. That in itself is a minor miracle --given that most of my life I have lived with a mean inner voice who isn't always quick to hand out compliments.

Whether you set resolutions at the beginning of each new year as a rule or not, the three words to live by is a tradition I encourage everyone to try. I used my three words from last year as a filter to weigh each new opportunity in 2013 against. That helped me rethink old commitments and assess new opportunities to make sure they aligned with my three words and the direction I wished to go. 

As I approached the end of this year I contemplated my new words, settled on three and then changed them right before writing this. They have to ring true -- and when you find the right ones, you will know.

My words for 2014 are: clarify, cultivate and savor.

Clarify and cultivate were chosen to remind me that my work is not done; I am still growing and changing, and as I do, I will need to refine (or clarify) often to make sure I am on the right track. Not one to stop and smell the roses as often as I should, choosing savor as my third word is a way to remind me continually that life is not just about accomplishing, it is also about enjoying and appreciating the little moments. Something I began in 2013 and plan to continue doing for the rest of my life.

In case you need some word ideas, here is a list. Do any of these speak to you? 

simplify, linger, thrive, create, appreciate, illuminate, flourish, shine, believe, spirit, affirm, seize, trust, succeed, savor, accomplish, prosper, expand, uplift, radiate, enlighten, astonish, revel, pleasure, relish, enjoy, ease, courage, devour, clarify, cultivate, surrender, spirit, balance, serenity, integrity, success, purpose, commitment, flexible, allow, energy, motivate, absorb, tranquility, peace, serenity, organize, visualize, anticipate, aware, awaken, faith, grace, shimmer, sizzle, dazzle, sparkle, enlighten, reach, trust, blossom, connect, experience, wisdom, strength, hope, joy, breathe, gratitude, grow, release, balance, brave, control, explore, express, finish, flow, find, nourish, heal, try, play, activate, healthy, nourish, slowdown, reflect, collaborate, celebrate, communicate

Ending the year on a positive note allows me to ring in the new year with hope in my heart. Hope that 2014 will be the best year ever, and that I will see forward motion in my loosely outlined plan to become the best version of me that I can be.

Cheers to a new year filled with unending love, light + peace.







Are you Addicted to Collecting Tools?

And I don't mean the kind on the workbench that go into a toolbox, I am referring to the "tools" necessary to recharge your life. Things like self-help books, classes, workshops, videos, exercise classes or supplies for new hobbies.

If a person wants more joy or purpose in their daily life, one of the first things they often do is start something new. However if they only get as far as collecting the things to start a new hobby, or move in a new direction--  but never actually begin anything, they won't see much growth. They will simply be a tool collector and end up with more "stuff".

Let's say you have decided you need a creative outlet.  You start by buying all the materials needed to paint. It can be exciting just to research something new, and the trip out to buy those new supplies increases happiness levels. (A combo of shoppers high and a temporary sense of purpose.) What I find much harder, is mustering up the courage to actually use the paints.

For years I thought/said/believed that I had no creative talent. Spending 30 years in a field where I was surrounded by artists of all kinds didn't help me feel confident in my own limited abilities, and being highly critical of myself made it scary to even try. 

A few weeks ago I bought myself watercolor painting supplies and I actually dared to use them. I had so much fun creating "paintings", in truth they were more like scribbles, but I didn't let that bother me, I actually found myself smiling and happy the whole time. It was so freeing to paint and not care what it looked like when I was done. In some strange way it was mindless fun -- and it gave me the space to let some things I had been thinking about gel. As a result of my creative painting, I got clarity from within on something I do have some talent in, my writing.

While I have found it is easy to collect tools, using them is definitely harder. 

So I'm challenging you to do something that moves your spirit forward. Try making some time to read those self-help books you've collected and then be inspired to go do something out of your comfort zone. Take a step in a new direction, volunteer somewhere, join a group of people with a common interest, or sign up to try something you've always wanted to learn more about. You never know where one small step can eventually lead you. This I know from experience.

Question of the Week #51 / What Is One New Thing You Could Try To Get Out of Your Rut?

In case you didn't realize this, it's okay if the something new you try turns out to be something you don't like, or that you eventually lose interest in. It is even okay to stink at that something new and to be disappointed or embarrassed by what you consider a failure, the truth is, it is all part of moving forward and growing up.

If you find yourself liking the something new, you might also want to prepare yourself to be super energized and possibly a little impulsive about what comes next. Some things that I've tried lately have led to such positive energy, new ideas and good karma they've inspired me to take leaps not steps.

My advice: start with a step, but be prepared to leap. Comfort zones are not all they are cracked up to be.

Are You Striving for the Impossible?

In the past I was never the kind of person able to say "I did my best" and leave it at that. As long as I can remember I have strived for an ideal, a perfect "whatever" that was so good it was beyond criticism, even my own. In all of my 51 years that has never happened. All compliments have been taken with a "yeah but", or several "if onlys".  I've always focused on what could have been better and not celebrated what went well.

I realize now that this is exhausting and frustrating and FUTILE. It feels what I imagine is like a never ending Ground Hog's Day loop. I understand that I have been striving for the impossible and I eventually let that wear me down.

Where did I ever get the idea that I had to be perfect to be of value? In reading more and more about a highly sensitive person, I realize that is just part of my dna. My head and heart have never known any other way to be. The child in me must have been so affected by my own reaction to the criticism I received when I made mistakes, that the adult in me attempted to never make any.

There is no perfect anything in a black and white mind like I once had. There is always a judgment, a critique, a report card, a here's what you could do better next time thought. It is exhausting to attempt to drive yourself toward a perfect "anything"--- you get caught up in judging yourself against your last performance, or against the performance of others -- a completely unfair, highly critical trap that causes years to go by like the blink of an eye, with little chance to experience any personal joy.

This past year I came face to face with the dark side of my perfectionism and the shame it brings. I am happy to say that I squared off against it and have since learned to accept that I will never be perfect in my actions, or in my thoughts, feelings,  performance, writing, cooking; I will never be perfect in anything. Especially if I am the judge. No matter how hard I try, nothing will ever reach my idealistic standards.

I will never be perfect. Nor will attempting to be perfect make me more lovable, more worthy, more of value than I already am.

Yet even as I say it out loud... I will never be perfect, I hear a tiny whisper inside telling me it's a cop out, an excuse not to do my best work. (Clearly that is an area I need to work on).

For anyone who shares my perfectionism, this admitting that I am not perfect is a huge step in the right direction. I will never be perfect, nor will my own judgment of my performance ever not have criticisms attached. But --- I no longer let that mean voice have the floor. I acknowledge she's in there, but I let the calm voice who looks at the positive side and sees the good in what I did, take charge.

Now when I say that I did my best, it is enough. I am enough.

Some of you will not understand how huge this is. Others may laugh at me -- or have no frame of reference to understand where I am coming from. That too, I have learned, is perfectly okay. My message will not resonate with everyone. It may only be relevant to 20% of the people on earth, the 20% who are wired like me. The 20% who are highly sensitive people.

I am perfectly imperfect. And that is good enough for me.

Life's Little Challenges

Going With The Flow.

How many times have you had a day (or an event) all planned out, every last detail under control and then something happens to bring on chaos? A burned dessert, a sick kid, a traffic tie up, an unexpected expense, or a last minute injury. Whatever the circumstance, it creates a disruption.

Most of us can relate to times in our lives when our carefully laid plans took a back seat to something out of our control, times when we had to let go of our expectations and attempt to adjust or accept an altered plan. The way we deal with these unexpected changes says a lot about us. So do you fight them or accept them?

Question of the Week #40 / How do you handle life's unexpected changes? 

Recently I had the opportunity to spend a day and a half with two really cool people. In the course of our conversation a story (or two) came out, about how we have reacted in the past to being thrown off by the unexpected. Being a reformed control freak, I admitted that I have not always (or maybe ever) reacted calmly when this happens to me.

My friend shared with us her coping technique and it has helped open my eyes to a better way to handle things. When something unexpected and maybe not so positive occurs in her life, rather than reacting with anger, frustration or stress, she takes a deep breath and shouts "plot twist".  It stops her negative reaction and ends up giving her the perspective to see the situation for the temporary disruption it is, then allows her to respond accordingly. Shouting "plot twist" is like telling the universe "ok, I can handle this."

I've been using the "plot twist" idea to remind myself when unexpected changes occur, that all is still ok. My new lighter way of being believes that everything happens for a reason-- even if it isn't exactly what I was planning. That little bit of a reality check reminds me to stop resisting and go with the flow. So far, it seems to be working rather nicely.

The struggle is part of the story. 

Who Knew What I Needed Most Was To Believe In Me?

I saw this post on this morning and it “spoke” to me. Since it did, I felt the need to share it so you could learn from it also. More people than you might think suffer from self-sabotage, and until you learn to believe in yourself, to shut down the inner critic, you will remain stuck.

Hope this speaks to you as well.

P.S. I so want to go surf with Bartholomeus.

How to get out of your own way?

Stop judging yourself.

via Rebelle Society on Aug 28, 2013

{Photo credit:}

By Bartholomeus Nicolaas Engelbertus.

We have met the Enemy and He is Us." (Pogo - Walt Kelly, Cartoonist 1913-1973 US)

Getting out of your own way is simple. What is it you do that is stopping you from doing what you really want to do?

I used to be a master at staying busy doing tasks or jobs that prevented me doing what I really wanted, or needed to do.

You can spend much time working on your sales pitch, getting your website content ‘just right,’ instead of getting out there and asking folk to buy your product.

You can spend much time sorting out little problems, rather than starting with the ‘biggie.’ What about dealing with other people’s problems instead of your own?

When this looks familiar, something is in the way. Now let me save you heaps of time; it is you. You could call it ‘mindset,’ but I still think that is you. For me, it’s me, every time!

How do you get out of your own way? Easy, stop looking at yourself. Do not see yourself from a perspective which is outside of you, the perspective of the narrative. If you are not looking out from your own perspective, ladies and gentlemen, you have left the building, not Elvis!

Notice when you judge yourself. Notice when you compare yourself. You are really looking from the outside in, then take some kind of position of judgment. Stop being your own judge, leave that to other people.

Judging yourself, looking from the outside in, reinforces the belief-systems that previously stopped your aspirations. Be brave, look from the inside out.

Come from the deeper natural side, let the gut, heart, and instinct rule! Use reason to guide it, not the other way around. This way you are beaming a new kind of signal into the shared realities of your roles. Do this long enough and the world responds.

It is nature’s way to evolve, and people respond mostly to ‘why’ you do things, and not to ‘what’ you do. It is the ‘why-drive’ as I like to call it. By mixing in new ingredients in the shared reality you have with others, the recipe changes and the food will taste different. A new thing has been created, and when there are new ingredients there is new opportunity.

What I mean is not like manifesting from a perspective of influence: what power hungry manipulative freak came up with that anyway?

No, this is evolution baby! Working with nature’s way (change), and by doing so, driving its change. Next time you see yourself from the outside in, have a little laugh at your own expense.

You can only fly with the winds of change when you are looking out of your own eyes with love.

You only have your own perspective, so stop pretending, stop judging. Come back home, and if you do not know where that is; it is where the heart is — remember?


Featured in international media, like The Saturday Times, and MSN Extras, Surf Life Coach Bartholomeus Nicolaas Engelbertus’s unique personal growth approach (subtraction of ‘the undesired’ — instead of telling a person ‘what to do’) is the driving force of the anti-conventional Natural Self System. The Epiphanies found from his near death surfing accident, and overcoming dark times resulting from undesired personal life change, are the source and inspiration of this unique approach. Bartholomeus is the creator of The Natural Self System, and runs Life Changing Surf Life Coach Retreats in Cornwall, Portugal, and Mexico. His latest book — ‘Waves of Change’ — focuses on Thriving on Change, by Unleashing your Natural Self. You can connect with Bartholomeus via and Facebook.

Reposted with permission. Actual link here.

Find Your Own Fun | Do You Even Allow Yourself Time To Think About Fun?


“Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they’re looking for ideas.” — --- Paula Poundstone

I recently completed a passion mining exercise and surprisingly among my top 5 passions emerged this one: "Have more fun with friends and family."

I wasn't expecting to see fun among the top 5 but maybe that is because I don't actively spend time thinking about it. I guess I ruminate about things like purpose, meaning and how I can make a difference in the world and still provide income for my family so often, that I rarely think about fun.

I suppose it seems like f-u-n should just happen, but even as I purposefully attempt to slow my life down, I realize that some of us have to work at "fun" more than others. We have to be deliberate in making time for it. Left to my own devices I would oftentimes choose accomplishment over f-u-n. It is in my nature (and always has been) to set goals, to be efficient and to get things done. This exercise made me see that somewhere deep down I believe I am missing out -- or have missed out on some fun time in life.

It is weird that I can make myself a giant "to do" list of things I think I should get done,  in less than a minute -- pretty much at any given time. But creating a list of  fun things is more work than it should be. Each item I start to add to the list has so many buts attached to it: I'd like to write my book, but.....I really need to respond to the emails in my inbox in case one of them leads to my dream job. Or I'd love to spend the day making something out of paper, but I really should update my Linked In profile first. There always seems to be something more practical to do.

I have also come to realize that everyone has a different idea of what "fun" is. I imagine some people draw their ideas of  possibilities for new "fun" by watching others enjoying an activity. We might notice someone sailing for example, and think: "I should try that." Or maybe our idea of fun is based on an activity we used to love doing, and we think we'd be having a lot more fun if only we had time to ..... sew, paint, or grow a garden again.

But the truth is that finding "fun" can sometimes be a moving target. It can depend on our mood, our current job or life situation, the weather, our health, our attitude, even our unique personality and how we are wired on the inside. And I think  our ideas of fun change as we grow older, too.

So how often do you allow yourself time to rethink "fun"?   

The Question of the Week #27/  What Do You Consider Fun and Do You Need More Of it in Your Life Right Now?

Need help  jump starting your list? Here are something things that helped me rethink my idea of fun.

What did you do as a kid?

I am a big believer in thinking back to when we were kids and remembering what we spent our free time doing. One of my earlier questions of the week revolved around what roles you played as a kid. Now think about the activities you spent time doing, especially on rainy days. The things that interested you then, might actually help you think of things you want to do now.

Go big.

In other words don't let others tell you that your idea of fun isn't acceptable. If you like collecting things, or scrapbooking or reading children's literature or writing poetry, do it. Fun is as unique to you as is everything about you.

It's ok to change your mind.

Lots of people find that they love the idea of doing something but once they get started do not actually even like doing it. (Include me in this category). As we age our bodies change, our patience levels adjust, and our basic needs are different... so things we once found fun might not interest us anymore. Like dusting off that softball glove, or  putting on the roller blades.... clearly that would be entertainment only for those watching my attempt, not for the parts of my body sure to end up on the ground.

Here are my current ideas of FUN:

1. A day with no schedule, no responsibilities

2. Reading for hours (a real printed book)

3. Deeply connecting with someone via a face to face conversation

4. Helping someone see things differently, showing them a new perspective

5. Playing with my camera

6. Karaoke

7. GROOVIN' with friends

8. Taking a walk

9. Teaching someone something new

10. Relaxing in the sun

My choices are different than they once would have been. A lifetime of being an extrovert has left me with strangely introverted ideas of fun as I age. I now enjoy my time alone or with limited people around. I like doing less of the organizing I once thrived on. Instead I like to just be,  with time to think, to be more spur of the moment and to live without a plan. A few years back my list would have been filled with more active doing, and centered more around helping others have fun around me. Not sure if this new idea of fun for me is an age related thing or maybe I am now able to hear my inner voice, the one that is telling me to slow it down and take time to enjoy this life, or it will surely pass me by.

I'm curious about your list, did rethinking your idea of FUN change any of the things you thought would be on it?

Please comment and share... and don't forget to do something fun just for YOU this week.


What One Word Describes You As a Kid? / Question of the Week #16

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Think back to when you were a kid. What were you like? Do you remember? I think that most of us have an idea of what our personalities were like as children-- either from pictures, family stories or what our parents, siblings or other family members told us. I see memories from my past in movie form. Not like my whole life in a movie, but I remember certain scenes, random places and times from a third-party view. As if I am in the corner of the room filming it.

Back then I see the little me as always observing people. I watched interactions between people, studied people's unique gestures, and noticed the body language of people interacting in a group. If I thought one of my mom's friends was pretty, I wanted to be like her. I mimicked their gestures, listened to the flirting between the adults, watched my mom hostess.

I know back then I never liked standing out, preferring instead to blend in. I never liked doing much that was scary, silly or risky. I wanted to be liked and I definitely did not want to do anything wrong. While not shy, I rarely took center stage or wowed anyone. And I liked it that way.

Question of the Week #16 / If you had to describe yourself as a child in one word, what would it be?

The first word that comes to mind when I see myself from that third-party perspective , is cautious.

I was cautious as a kid.

The kind of kid that followed the rules and didn't break things, have accidents or get stitches. (Until I was 14 and got bit by a dog.)

So what word describes you as a small person?

P.S. .....and if you'd care to share how memories from your childhood come to you, I'd love to know.