Bye Bye Perfectionist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste.

 

Friends Like Trees

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

The trees.

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

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

The first to accept me as I am.

To calm me simply with their presence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loyal

Accepting

Understanding

Faithful

Truthful

Patient

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

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

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

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

We should all strive to be friends like trees.

 

 

Is This Your Season?

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

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

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

Pop up swamps teem with the sounds of spring.

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

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

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

The shift from hibernation to growth and change.

Like people, swamps house crazy potential within.

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

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

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

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

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

Conditions are right for forward motion and incoming joy.

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

Without darkness there would not be knowledge of the light.

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

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

When you feel stuck in life or in your progress:

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

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

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

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

5.) Give yourself a break.

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

Reflection: One Year Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste. Cheers to seeing you at the studio soon.

Terri

 

 

What If?

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

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

Until I crashed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste beautiful soul. Namaste.

 

My Three Words for 2017

Peace-filled New Year Greetings!

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

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

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

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

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

My New Year's Wish For You:

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

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

Illuminate

Trust

Thrive

Happy New Year from my happy heart to yours.

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

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.