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Facing Fear

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Why Living is Always Worth It

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My 12 year old son came home from school recently and mentioned he wrote a poem for class that had two of his teachers in tears. I asked what it was about and he said, “After your mother’s death.” 

My mother, who had committed suicide.

“Really?” I asked, “what about it?”

“Oh nothing,” he squirmed and then no longer wanted to talk about it.

That always drives me nuts. Reel me in to push me out. Frustrating.

But what I’ve learned is that IS him letting me in. He is only willing or able to so in small doses for heavier subjects and the only thing I can do is wait until he is ready to share.

With that said, I keep asking. Also in small doses. But to let him know I’m paying attention. A couple days later, he brought home his poem….and quite frankly, it blew me away.

“Did she have to go?

Could she have stayed?

What would it be like on this day?

Did she think she wouldn’t be missed?

After all that is what she thought?

Some have overcome this death,

When others mourn in thought.

Some have never met her.

And never will.

So maybe just maybe she could have stayed.

Did she have to take her life?

Just throw everything away?

What about the people to come?

Her family that was so big,

Did she not know we would love her anyway?

So why throw it all away?

The one action, the one thought,

That changed so many lives to this day.

Only if one thought changed, one thought shifted,

But it didn’t and it took her life away.”

He expected tears from me and they came. They always come. Even easier now as I see the gift of their arrival rather than the shame of being so sensitive.

“That was amazing. Your perspective is inspiring to me. It reminds me why I do what I do. Thank you for sharing.” I said to him.

Still squirmy, he was unsure if I’d be upset. He was looking for reassurance that his words, his voice, had value. At that moment, I could only give him half of my own thoughts. I had to sit with the feeling that came with them.

Being the child of a parent who committed suicide is not really a category I live in. I wear no badge of ongoing pain, or talk about the experience of how damaged I am because of it.

Although, in truth, I am. Damaged is not a fair statement, but touched…changed…strong because of it. 

For me, I made a decision long ago that I would use the experience to enhance my life, not ruin it and use it as an excuse to keep screwing up and saying that life owes me because I’ve been hurt…by the will of someone else.

The victim mentality makes me edgy. And feel powerless. Its not a place I’ll let myself live.

Instead, I’ve used my scars as motivation to prevent someone else, like me or my mother, sensitive and imperfect beings, from feeling stuck in misery and worry. The kind that allows fear and frustration to rule the days.

I used to. I had to try it on first. But even during that time period, I knew it would not last for me. I couldn’t live like that. Being miserable bores me. I become impatient with my woes. I get lost in my symptoms of depression and anxiety and I am dedicated to finding my way out of the maze to make it easier for the next time I enter.

And I will. Its part of my human experience. I’m not immune.

I’m filled with dysfunctional patterns of protection I’ve had to unravel and re-wire in my brain and in my choices. Those come with the experience. My inner optimist wants to ignore them, but the realist in me says, you’ve still got shit to work on. And I do.

But I also won’t be held back.

My little boy’s beautifully expressed thoughts reminded me that life does go on. That we continue to grow and thrive after great loss, but we don’t forget and we don’t move on unchanged.

He never met my mother, his grandmother, but he has seen the way her life and death changed mine and in turn his.  Had I not been so motivated to change, he would have a very different mother. Had I not been so vulnerable to face my demons, he would be experiencing them by default.

I knew when I had children I would have to teach myself to mother them. I knew I had to dig into myself and find the courage to learn to love without limits and not protect myself from the fear of loss or pain by holding them too close.

When you lose someone you are attached to suddenly, it has a lasting impact on your ability to trust. And yet…I’ve chosen a life where my purpose is not only to learn to trust more, but to teach and inspire others to do the same.

I have been surrounded by suicide for the majority of life. Mostly the loved ones left in the wake. From friends to close connections to clients, I’m well versed in the feelings and understanding of what it’s like to experience the guilt and sorrow and anger and confusion, after someone ends what we find to be so precious.

I know what its like to be lost while trying to make sense of it all.

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I’ve also worked with many who let the obsession of not wanting to be here take over their lives. Those who have attempted to die and those who just wish it would happen so they could move out of their internal hell hole.

My question of the why’s have been answered. I can see how and why people get to the brink of wanting to end the pain. Its heavy and its real.

But I’ve also seen and felt what its like when the corner turns. When the one thought changes to a new one of hope. Of opportunity. Of light in a very, very dark tunnel.

Anything is possible. I don’t just believe this, I live it.

I laid down with my son that night before he went to sleep and told him, again, how much his poem had touched me. 

I told him how I could hear his own “what if’s” in his words and feel the questioning that life often brings…and that I will always walk with him to help him find the answers he seeks. Its what we do for those we love.

I reminded him that Hope is the driving force behind my life’s work and Trust has changed me. And that Support is available to all of us. We just have to ask. 

He hugged me close and said, “I love you, Mom.”

And once again, I knew, its always worth it. Life, the work that comes with Living…always, always worth it. 

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Getting Comfortable With Discomfort- Your Own and Others

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The look on my teenager’s face was one of complete distraught. She was angry and hurt and confused and fearful of what I would do next.  I was fearful too. I knew the decision I had to make and it was not the one she wanted. I was going to have to dig down and let go of my fear of her feeling the pain to make the decision that was best for her…in my opinion. This parenting gig can be so damn hard.

And I did. I made the call I knew she’d resent me for and she looked at me like there was no one on the planet that could hurt her more than I just did.  She composed herself respectfully until we got into the car and she let me have it.

Anger and tears and “how could you’s?!” spit out of her on repeat.  Seething disgust that I had taken control away from her and made decisions for her. I am raising her to be independent and make her own decisions, so for the life of her, she couldn’t grasp why I would take it away.

I know that feeling. The one where you can’t accept that someone has some level of control over your life. I don’t do well with it either. And I knew it was going to hurt and it did. Both of us…deeply. But I also knew that underneath my fear (of exactly that moment) it was going to get better. I just wanted it better now.

The part of me that doesn’t want to see another in pain wanted so badly to make it go away. To find the quick fix and dissolve it.  But I wasn’t given an answer or an idea that would do that. So we were stuck with sitting with the discomfort and feeling the pain.

After a few hours of separation and her ability to fiercely hold on to her anger and hurt, I felt stuck again when I saw her. The next decision was the hardest.

I wanted to distract her from her sorrow. I wanted to take the pressure off myself. I wanted her to stop being angry at me… but I KNEW that’s not what my job was. It was to be near her, to respect her pain, and to respect mine in the process. It was to give us both space to feel the discomfort and let it be what it is. Uncomfortable.

So I sat with her while she cried and told me how wrong I was. And then I held her…because I knew she was ready. Not a moment before.  And she let me. That’s when I knew it was going to be okay….because it always is.

As a professional counselor, I know the hardest part of my job is when the BEST thing I can do with another person is to sit with them through their pain. To let them wade through the muck and feel the choking sensations of sorrow and offer my hand so they don’t feel alone walking through it.

It is, by far, the most emotionally draining part. It rubs up against the part of the me that does not like to feel helpless, despite knowing that giving them room to feel and know they are not alone IS Helping.  To be their guide in darkness until they see their own light.

I find this much easier when it’s a client I’m working with where the relationships has its established boundaries. When it comes to people I have a close connection with, it’s much harder. It’s uncomfortable to feel other people’s pain as is, but throw in being emotionally attached to the outcome. It’s HARD.  And yet, the practice is the same.

Sit with the discomfort and know, sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.

We live in a quick fix, pill popping, make the pain go away fast kind of society. Why? Because we are uncomfortable with feeling the challenging emotions.  And when we are uncomfortable with our own, we certainly are not going to be comfortable with being around someone else’s. 

We have this desire to avoid and distract and it turns out, that doesn’t actually make the underlying concerns go away. They will continue to return until they are responded to in a way that pleases them.  And usually what pleases them is what makes us curse and complain and question why the same issues keep popping up. Super annoying.

So how can we practice this? How can we get comfortable being in the space with those who are uncomfortable and hurting? By allowing ourselves to feel without attempting to make it go away as quickly as possible.

And that starts with us. 

Get comfortable with you.

When you feel an emotion that is unsettling, lean into it. If its anger, let yourself heat up and get tight and feel the sensations that come with it. Allow them to be what they are.  Listen to the voices that come with them. Who are you really mad at? Who do you feel has your power? And how can you take it back?  Sit with it a little longer, then release it through screaming in a pillow or in a place you are by yourself, or do some physical activity to let it out. Even jumping jacks or shaking out your body in the moment.

If its sadness, let it rise to the top. If there are tears, let them roll out. If you feel like you are being swallowed up, breathe through that sensation. Let it be what it is. The more you let it come up and be felt, the sooner it will resolve itself.

If it’s guilt, ask it questions. What have you learned from it and how will you change your responses and behavior based on what you now know?  When you practice forgiving yourself, you take away the power of the past and bring it to the present. And the present is the only place we can actually create change.  Why not allow yourself to be there?

As you practice becoming comfortable with your own emotions, it will become easier to sit with others through theirs.  Disappointment is a part of life and you don’t want to get rid of your experiences because they make you into the beautiful and unique person you are. Allowing yourself to feel can shorten the discomfort of your clinging need for pain. Relief is always just around the corner.  Keep reading...

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5 Highly Effective Ways to Practice Trusting Yourself

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I have this really weird job where I get paid to listen and give advice reflecting back what I’m hearing…on how you can best live your life. I mean, in theory, I would really have to know what I’m talking about to be trusted with such an important task. Who am I to tell you how to live a life that feels right for you? I’m not living in it. In truth, I’m some chick that has a few pieces of paper in a closet somewhere that deems me an “expert.” Is that enough?

Nope. It’s not.

Why do I know I can be trusted? Because I trust myself.

Most of the people who show up in my office or in my inbox are at a point where they simply don’t trust themselves and the information they are getting from the outside world. They are confused and feel lost from strong emotions that have them down, anxious and angry. They struggle with understanding the events around them and their purpose and are not sure what steps to take next because the ones they are taking don’t seem to be getting them on a path they want to be.

And I, with all my own expertise in feeling lost and sad and anxious and angry, can thoroughly relate. I know what it’s like to question my every move and hope that my decisions are “good enough” or won’t steer me down a dark alleyway that will leave me feeling terrified I took a very bad turn.

Because of this, I also know the only way off of this merry go round of confusion is to TRUST. Trust that I know what I’m doing and I can’t screw it up, and trust the process of life that won’t let me even if I could. How do I know I can trust? Because I practice---every single day.

And I really mean practice. Some days it all seems obvious that I can not and will not mess it up, or it won’t get screwed up for me. Other days, I am nearly certain that I have no idea what I’m doing and I need all the support I can get to reassure me that I do. I’ll fill myself with fear and have to go through my mental checklist of why I know that is not true. It can be pretty tiresome, but on the days that I see the truth, that I really do know what I’m doing---it’s all completely worth it.

The tricks and practices I use to help me on my off days are pretty simple, and also super effective.

1. Write Out My Fears

List them all out. What are the fear voices telling me? What’s the worst case scenario?  Once I’ve identified the fears, I write down what I am in control of and what I am not in control of.  Are there things I can do to help alleviate my fears? Action steps I can take? If so, write them down and choose which ones I’ll do. And the ones I’m not in control of? Well, that leads me to practice #2.

2. Identify My Core Beliefs- What Do I Believe In?

I believe in a power that is greater than me. Sometimes I call it the Universe, sometimes I call it God, sometimes I call it Life.  One of my clients calls it the Tarantula Gods. That creeps me out and makes me laugh at the same time. It doesn’t really matter what you call it. What do you believe is its purpose and what is the impact you feel it has on your life? I believe both you and I are connected to this power intuitively.  You may even call it your Higher Self- your intuition that knows what it’s doing.

I believe that all of our experiences happen for a reason and that we are guided by this power to help us out along the way. I also believe that we are supported by this power and we are given what we need to keep us safe, comfortable and to live and thrive. So, when I am struggling to trust myself, or when I feel I am not in control of something, I go back to my core beliefs and remember that I am supported already and I will be more than okay…because I always am. Which leads me to practice #3.

3. I Use My Past as Proof

 I have spent lots of time worrying about things that never happened. I tried to mentally control them with my mind. It turns out, that never actually works. Sometimes I feared the worst until the bitter end and was proven that the worst was only in my mind. It rarely ever comes to fruition. And if it did, I learned some invaluable knowledge I wouldn’t have learned if the outcome had been different. Something positive always rises from the challenges. Whether it’s knowledge, or strength or an experience that is life altering in a powerful way- the good balances out the difficult parts. Every time. 

When I look at my past, I see that I am always supported and there is nothing I can not handle. I am always given what I need when I need it. And usually, the fears are just ideas that get replaced with the next one. They simply are thoughts ready to be acknowledged and moved on from.

4. I Listen- To Myself

I listen to my feelings. I let myself feel them and tell me where it is I want to be. This is my intuition speaking to me. I recognize the answers that feel right. I take out the fear to make them more clear. I let myself look at whatever it is and ask if I fully trusted, what would I do? This is what helps me manage the clutter in my mind. I let myself feel and I remind myself that my feelings do not steer me wrong. Because in truth, there is no wrong. Every direction takes me where I say I want to go. The road there may just look different.

5. I Ask For Perspective, Not Advice

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you feel stuck. It’s helpful to hear other perspectives. Then you can determine what feels right for you and take away what you want and leave behind what you don’t.

But, this is a big one. When we don’t trust ourselves, it’s easy to ask other people for their opinion or view.

We feel maybe they know more than we do. We trust their life experiences over our own.The danger with this is that often people give advice through their own filter which means, they may speak through their fears or experiences that left them feeling distrustful.

What’s right for them, may not be what’s right for you. The best advice is your own.

If you have someone who can reflect back what you are saying and feeling to you in a way that makes it not about them- this is awesome. And valuable.
But the key is to look at your feelings, not theirs. Only yours are designed for you.

Trust is a practice. And that is okay. Fear is a normal part of life and it has its purpose.  It’s important for us to feel all of our emotions so we can pick and choose the ones we want to focus on.  Keep Reading...

 

 

 

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A Simple Way to Change the World...and actually enjoy it

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I was shaking as I sat down to put my feet over the edge of the rock cliff. I have a strong fear of heights and that vision of going over and falling to my bone shattering doom is always unsettling.  But I was determined. And scared. But apparently determination would win out that day.

I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. I wanted to push myself to the edge and just sit in the fear, let it wash over me, and not move.  It was hard. But I knew I had lived through harder things. And that fear was just a feeling. I wasn’t actually going to fly over the edge. At least I hoped not. 

Several weeks prior I had dangled my legs over that same ledge and felt the familiar sense of shaking fear. Next to me, sat my friend who seemed un-phased by the potential danger…even commenting that his fear of heights didn’t seem to bother him anymore which almost made him sad.  At that point, I felt I could feel it for the both of us. We sat there together, legs moving back and forth. Him looking at ease, me with my heart racing trying to find my calm. I never would have sat there by myself, but with him sitting next to me I felt safer. I felt protected.  He looked fearless as he encouraged me to do what made me fiercely uncomfortable.  I was inspired by his attitude and his strength. Even though I could see he was pretty unimpressed with himself.

When I returned to the ledge on my own, I knew I could do it. I had proof it was possible. I imagined sitting next to my friend and feeling safe…and even though it didn’t take the fear away, it inspired me enough to keep going. I took a picture of my shaking, dangling legs to remind myself I could be strong and brave if I let myself be. I was in the middle of facing many of my fears in life. I had to keep going.

I sent the picture to another friend who was also in the middle of facing and living through many of her own fears as well. She praised me over and over again. She told me the story of a fire tower she climbed once with a friend and was terrified of it. She felt stronger with a friend as well. She wondered if she could climb it alone.

Later in the week, she announced she was going to climb the fire tower solo. She wanted to prove to herself she could. She text me several times from the bottom of the tower saying she couldn’t do it. She wanted to but she couldn’t find the strength inside herself.  With each elevated step, the panic took over. She was disappointed, but she was glad she made the attempt.

Less than a half an hour later, she sent me a picture of herself at the top of the tower. She looked horrified! But she did it.  She took each uncomfortable step and made it to the top. She was so proud and in love with herself for her accomplishment she could barely find the words to express it. Pure bliss. Pure pride. Pure love. And pure understanding that we are the only obstacle getting in our own way.

She was overwhelmed with all that she had learned in that experience and it took her a few days to process it all. She wrote about the experience documenting the internal journey that got her there. She was excited to share it. We met that week and talked in person as she once again shared how amazing she felt and scheduled her post to go out the next day.  Still overjoyed she went home on top of the world.

The next morning her scheduled post popped up on Facebook…only hours after it had been discovered that she had died in her sleep. The timing was eerily and sadly perfect.

My friend transitioned from this life on top of the world. She loved herself with complete acceptance of who she was and what she stood for.  She lived as a gift and left with a gift that most work much of their lives hoping to attain.

I returned to the ledge the other day and realized I hadn’t been there in almost two years since she passed. I sat on a rock ledge overlooking the area…not the same one…I didn’t need to prove anything to myself that day. I remembered how inspired I was by my friend’s strength when he sat next to me on the ledge and I remembered the pride my other friend felt when she rediscovered her own. He inspired me, I inspired her, and she inspired herself to be who she already was.  Everything connects. Everyone connects. We are all in this together.

You have no idea how many people you’ve inspired or touched or encouraged just by being yourself.  You don’t know because we don’t share our stories enough. We don’t tell each other how often we appreciate each other and how meaningful we find our connections. We don’t even realize how much we need each other to enjoy this life.

We share our heartache and frustration way more than we do our joy.  And I know for sure we don’t say thank you nearly enough.  For our experiences. For the moments that tap into our strength. For the people that surround us who show us more…and who motivate us to be more.

Most of us live in cultures which support “misery loves company.” We don’t want to feel alone in our fears and our sorrows. But what if we spent more time sharing our successes and our conquered fears? What if we spoke more of our beautiful friendships and relationships, as well as and the moments we meet strangers who make us think twice about our place and our purpose? What would that be like?  Keep Reading...

 

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Facing the Fear of Change: Big Risks Can Bring Big Rewards

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“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ~Barack Obama

If someone said to you, “Hey, you know how you are feeling the need for change and you’re not sure what to do? Well, I can’t tell you what to do, but I can guarantee that if you follow where your heart leads you, you’ll create the possibility of more joy than you’ve ever felt before. All you have to do is walk through the doors that will keep opening up for you and trust, completely, that you are on the right track. You may question it at times, but keep going. You’ll be fine no matter what.”

What would you do? Would you follow the guarantee or would you keep doing what you’re doing?

What if the caveat was added, “Oh, you should probably know that if you do this, you run the risk of losing much of what you’ve known and who you think you are now will look completely different the next time you look in the mirror.”

Ummmm… hold up. Let me think about that.

That’s basically what happens when you know it’s time to change up your life and you’re innately scared to do so.

So, what do you do?

I spend a lot of time in deep reflection and introspection. And it’s not because I want to; it’s because I am constantly trying to understand myself, to figure out where I’m headed and what’s potentially holding me back from getting there.

Most of the time, I feel completely in the dark. And while my grandmother always told me that there is nothing in the dark that can hurt you, I’m human; I question this theory. And yet I continue to trust that she’s right. She lived over eighty years and was the most inspirational woman I’ve known; she must’ve learned something pretty valuable to be expressing these bold opinions.

So I had the nudge to change myself and I went with it. No, that’s not accurate—I had the internal and external shove and I went for it.

In the matter of a few short years, I got divorced, bought a house, lived alone with my kids, completely supported myself financially and then left my job, started a business, and changed the majority of my friends. I chose to start completely over in many ways.

On paper, I looked a bit off balanced. Keep Reading...

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Resentment: The Kiss of Death in Relationships...and How to Let It Go

One of my oldest friends called me a few weeks ago to get together. She mentioned it had been 2 years since we had seen each other. That seemed like an awfully long time to not connect with someone who had been such an important part of my life.

I had felt the distance between us for some time and I told myself that this was just another loss I was going to have to accept.  There seemed to be so many. As I changed, the faces of the people I spent time with did too. I know friends drift apart, but I also knew this one felt different. I knew…but I didn’t ask. I didn’t ask because I was scared. If I asked, then I’d have to deal with the discomfort. And that rarely is motivating.

We opted to go for a hike after our 2 year hiatus. The conversation was easy. We caught up a bit and shared some of our recent highlights.  And then the pause…”I’ve been wanting to talk to you about something for the past two years.”  She continued to tell me how hurt she had been when I was not as supportive towards her as I could have been at a time when she needed it. And she was right. I wasn’t. I was juggling so much at the time and what she needed from me was something I was not in a place to give. And instead of telling her that, I kept it to myself. I retreated. I said “I’m here if you need me,” and waited for the request.  But the request didn’t come.

What I didn’t know was that she didn’t want to have to ask for help. She didn’t want to ask for my support. She didn’t want to have tell me that she needed more than I gave. She wanted to “be strong” and deal with it. And that- that feeling- I know oh so well.

So instead, she held it in. She held in the hurt and the resentment and the frustration of unmet expectations. She let it sit in the compartment that keeps us from trusting the ones we love. I hurt her. Was it intentional? Of course not. But I did.

When I told her my angle, I was honest. She had believed I was a good communicator and I am. But not always with the people I’m closest to. It took some deep digging into myself to see it. The more I attach, the more I fear being left and the more I will avoid conflict.  And if I sense conflict or the risk of being rejected, I will detach.  It’s a lifelong pattern I recognize and work through.  The human thing is tough!

But I was also in a place I was not able to be what she needed me to be. Take out my faulty communication, I was still going through some really tough stuff myself. So much so that I didn’t even notice that I was a less than impressive friend. I was wrapped up in my own internal drama. And I also didn’t see it.

We say hindsight is clear and it is. I am grateful for it. Because listening to her hurt reminded me of how painful it is to hold on to resentment towards those we love, or once loved wanting them to be something they are not or can’t be. Or wanting what they are unable to give us at a time because of their own limitations.

I know this feeling. I have held on to strong expectations of others they could not meet. I have felt abandoned many, many times. I have been let down even more. I have detached from those I once loved instead of communicating how I felt. I have retreated and shut down when I could have made another choice….to speak up, to ask for what I need, to be vulnerable and to be loving while doing so. It doesn’t HAVE to be so hard and so painful. There is another way.

And my beautiful friend reminded me of this. By being brave and honest and bold.

How many times have you shut someone out instead of talking to them? How many opportunities have you ignored because they seemed too uncomfortable and you told yourself- I just don’t care. Bullshit. You do care. We all care.

You don’t have to change. I don’t have to change. But what if we did? What if we started to talk to each other regularly with compassion and honesty? What if we shared what we felt instead of shoving it down in hopes it will just go away? What if we spoke out of love instead of out of fear? What if we forgave each other for not meeting our expectations—the ones we can barely meet ourselves?

What would THAT be like?

Being open and vulnerable requires trust. Trust in yourself. Trust in the people around you. It doesn’t always come natural to expose ourselves. But the more we practice and open up, the more we may learn just how good it feels to be authentic…to be true to ourselves…and to feel confident enough to live and love as we are.

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The Story Behind the Story...The Secret to Beating the Dragon

Book Summary:

Andrew and his grandmother are best friends and spend their time together telling stories of conquering imaginary dragons (fear) by being brave (looking fear in the eye). As Gram ages and her life ends, Andrew is left to battle the dragons alone until he discovers that Gram has been with him all along.

Embrace the moments…that’s my focus lately.

My children’s book, The Secret to Beating the Dragon, was delivered to me the other day. My initial reaction was excitement…and then an immediate sense of sadness because my kids weren’t home to view it with me for the first time.  I wished they were…

But I am a firm believer in Divine timing. I do believe life is perfectly timed out for us, even when it makes no sense to us at all. So I questioned, “why must I be alone to see the book for the first time? They love it too!”

And it hit me….the night I wrote the story I was home alone for one of the first overnights my kids were with their dad after our separation.  I missed them and it gave me the opportunity to sit with myself and feel. Let’s be honest, that is not something we typically enjoy. But I wanted to embrace it and felt inspired to write.

I sat in my kitchen, notebook in hand and let the words fill the page.  Crying as I wrote, I felt the emotions of love and loss and strength and courage. And then I text the story to my cousin, Andrew, whose relationship with my grandmother inspired the story to begin with.  Along with him, I cried some more.

The story is heartwarming and I knew I wanted to share it.

The moment has come full circle.

But the day I held the book…that moment was for me. And Andrew. I text him the picture of it immediately. He is the primary reason I wanted this story to come to life. His love for his grandmother...and hers for him. Beautiful and inspiring and the kind of love that makes you remember why you love---because it feels amazing. Also, the kind that reminds you why it’s hard to let go---because it feels amazing.

The night I wrote the story, I felt their love so strongly.  I felt how he missed her and how he did everything to make their time together the best it could be. And I felt how much she appreciated it…how much she appreciated him.

She was living with Alzheimer’s disease in her home in the middle of the woods of Maine when Andrew moved in. My grandfather had died a few years prior and she had been living her life to the fullest since, but with the onset of Alzheimer’s, no one wanted her to be alone. My brother lived there for a period as well. Both he and Andrew cared for her as long as they could as they were going through their own life transitions.

Her vibrant spirit and strong independence was shifting. She was going downhill and life was hard for her. I would call her on my way home from work and tell her the same jokes each day because I knew she didn’t remember them from the day before. And she would laugh- every time. Same jokes, same response.

I just wanted to make her smile.

She would complain that she knew her memory was going and it was so frustrating. I hurt for her. It hurt me that she hurt. So I told her that she was living the dream…she was living in the moment, because that’s all she had.

But for me, it was painful.  I just wanted to take her pain away. I loved her so very much. The idea of her suffering was awful.

I was grateful Andrew was there. His humor, his personality, his dedication to our grandmother was unmatched. He would come home from his job on the ambulance and tell Gram of his adventures in the field. Having volunteered on an ambulance herself after retirement, she was eager to hear his stories.

She craved adventure as much as he did and they would share a glass of whiskey as he told his tales of the day.  And Andrew, the charismatic and funny man that he is, is an excellent story teller. No doubt she took it all in, happy to live through the bloodline she created. Appreciative to experience life through the eyes of love and admiration.

I tear up nearly every time I read the story. I’m sure at some point I won’t. But for now, I still feel the intensity of the love and the loss and the exquisite beauty that comes with it.

While the book was coming to life this past fall and early winter, my beloved aunt, Andrew’s mom, was dying. I’ve accepted that I cannot find words that best describe my aunt. Her pure spirit and genuine kindness frame the most giving soul I’ve ever met. She is simply- love- in its truest form.

The kind of love that makes you remember why we love---because it feels amazing. Also, the kind that reminds you why it’s hard to let go---because it feels amazing.

I can’t capture the magnitude of her loss- it runs too deep- but I can say that the timeliness of having our family together to help me critique the character images in the book was impeccable. Sharing our views as we bonded over our pain while I saw my beautiful aunt for the last time----Serendipitous.

Again, Divine timing at its finest.

The journey of bringing a vision to life is quite an adventure. And I love me some adventure. Even the sucky parts.

I’m thrilled to share the legacy of my family. One of immense respect, loyalty, love of living and an unwavering commitment to make our dreams come true.

Thanks for sharing Gram and Andrew. Love you from the deepest parts of my heart.

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Using Writing to Work Through Your Fears

There is a real push to encourage each other to think positively.

Flipping our situations and circumstances to make them work to our advantage…and that is very good advice. Personally, I do this often to reduce my own stress level and it’s what I emphasize in my work with others. Reframing challenges into opportunities for amazing growth feels awesome. However, retraining ourselves to think positively after habitually focusing on the obstacles and excuses in our way rarely comes easily.

There is a conscious practice that comes with it to strengthen our abilities to create a new habit of thinking that has us living our lives filled with freedom and awesomeness.

Most of what we struggle with comes from our fears. Fear of the unknown stemming from fears of rejection, abandonment, pain, failure, dependence, loss…and the list goes on. In order to face these fears it’s to our advantage to look at them, feel them, understand them and work with them to move through them.

Because we have so many thoughts going throughout the day, it can be hard to keep track of what it is we are really afraid of when the sinking feeling hits that stops us dead in our tracks.

An extremely helpful technique to work with our fears is to write them down.

It doesn’t matter if you write them in a journal, on the computer, in your phone, on a napkin, or the back of piece of junk mail and then burn them…the key is to get the thoughts out of your head.

You can list them situationally or in general. Write your fears and where they come from. You can rank them in priority status or by which ones are strongest. It doesn’t actually matter as long as you get them out.

After you write them out, question them further.

Is there a solution? Can you problem solve? If not, what would it be like to let it go and release the need for control? What would it feel like to trust that it will resolve itself?

Write out the worst case scenarios.

How will they change your life? Will you still have your family? Your friends? Your dignity? What could you possibly lose that you can’t gain back?

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15+ Standout Ways To Start Living An Authentic Life

Living authentically means trusting yourself.

Trusting your judgments, your visions, your ideas and knowing that no matter what you are going to be okay. We are taught how to fear early on in life by many of the influences around us and then end up spending a lot of time deciphering what feels right for us versus what doesn’t, with a dash of hesitation in between.

Anticipatory anxiety comes from fear of the future and the unknowns accompanying it. Fear of all the things that could wrong and how that it may impact us. Even if we trust our decisions, we may fear that other people’s decisions will “screw everything up,” so we want to plan for that too by worrying about it.

We may believe that by worrying enough about something, a solution will reveal itself or better yet, we can avoid the discomfort altogether by not doing or saying anything and continuing to live in limbo…hoping it all just works itself out on its own. But if that’s not working, then let’s just go back to worrying so we can see all the potential obstacles in the way.

Where does worry get us? Living in the pain we are trying to avoid.

How do you know you can trust yourself?

Turn around. Look at your past. Look at the many, many times you were scared to speak up, or take a step forward, or make a wrong turn. Did you ultimately end up okay? Eventually at the place you wanted to be, with the kind of people you wanted to be with, feeling safe and loved and more comfortable in your skin?

Perhaps not every step of the way, but did you finally arrive? Most of the time, yes.

But if you didn’t, what did you learn along the way? Where did you find your strength? How did you get through it?

You may have found great support by others you didn’t know was available to you or you may have even dug down and found your own ability to support yourself. You may have even began to see that what you thought you needed, you didn’t. You may have learned that you could rely on yourself…in turn, trusting yourself.

Most of us are talented at not trusting ourselves.

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Who Will You Be Today? The Importance of Being Yourself

I stood in the dark parking lot for several minutes before going inside the restaurant that waited for my arrival. The expectation of the night remained unknown.  I was unprepared and uncomfortable and really, I didn’t genuinely want to be there. Yet the discomfort of the invite drew me in as a means of addressing one more fear I’d long held.

It wasn’t meant to be a big deal, this networking dinner I’d been asked to attend.  My friend said “come mingle and meet people in your field”. I knew it was a good idea, meeting new mental health professionals who had long worked independently. I loved to share my views on mental health. I wasn’t new to the work, but I was just beginning my private practice so I didn’t at feel like I knew what I was doing. I was insecure in my ability to share my opinions independently, not representing anyone else other than myself.  

I heard the question in the darkness break my internal stillness….”Who am I going to be tonight?”

It was a valid question. I’d spent most of my career in a profession that required me to filter my words and opinions. I had to craft my views wisely to ensure the face I showed was acceptable to the employer I represented.  I could not have been successful if I didn’t curb my true inner thoughts and feelings…which was also the reason I was no longer there.  I longed to break free of the constraints and in that parking lot, I recognized that I was free. This was my choice, my gig, my terms, and yet I wasn’t exactly sure what that looked like.  I wanted to assist whichever part of me was going to show up to be prepared.

After a brief assessment of who was best suited for the presentation, I heard the next question…”why don’t you just be yourself?”

The exhale came fast. I was terrified. The internal fears flooded quickly. “What will they think of me if I share my non traditional views? How will they reject me once they realize I am not one of them? Will the start of my new career be the end of it?”

And then…”wait, what am I really afraid of? I have absolutely nothing to lose. Go be yourself and try her on. What’s not to like?”

Deep breath.  Keep Reading...

How New Age Thinking Can Ruin Your Life

"Whatever you do, don’t think negative thoughts or you will bring them to life.”
Whenever I read this or hear someone say this I want to scream. First, I stop and question if that is true because, well, I’m human and if it is true, I’m screwed. Then, I let my intuitive and logical mind unite and remind me that, if that was the case, I would have been poisoned, stabbed, suffocated, burned to ashes, drowned, publically flogged or have been locked up in a padded room by now.

And since that hasn’t happened yet, I’m pretty sure that this “fact” can be re-categorized as an urban myth. As a rational minded mental health professional who is equally committed to her spiritually based mindset, this popular belief drives me even more nuts.

When someone tells you not to think negatively, it’s like saying, don’t think of the color red. Whatever you do, don’t do it. Don’t think of the color red. Block it out of your mind. Don’t do it! Are you doing it? Are you thinking of the color red? Why are you thinking of the color red?? I told you not to. Now your whole world is going to look red. And in your effort of making yourself feel better, you instead feel like a failure, beating yourself up because for the life you, you simply can not block red from your thoughts.  Which makes the red feel even brighter and stronger in your mind.


When we experience challenging moments in life, we are going to have negative thoughts. We are going to have sad thoughts and angry thoughts and fear filled thoughts. To tell ourselves we shouldn’t feel that way is a huge disservice and setback to our healing process.


Giving ourselves permission to feel and think how we are feeling in the moment is sooo important in the process of acceptance. To deny ourselves how we really feel is the act of stuffing our emotions down and that’s the kind of stuff that actually gets us in trouble. Those feelings want to come out. In those moments, they are asking to be heard, they want to be accepted and understood. And when we tell them they are wrong because we are uncomfortable with them, they grow even stronger to keep our attention.

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How To Climb Up When You've Hit Financial Rock Bottom

I was on hold for over an hour…no one was picking up.  I had the phone on speaker so I could work on other things, but I was a little taken back by how much effort it took to get someone to help me.  I was applying for the Snaps program, ‘Food Stamps’, state aid to feed my children.  It was awkward enough as it was and I just wanted to get it over with, but instead I had to wait. Was it this difficult for everyone?

I had just resigned from my job and had next to no income while I took a couple more classes to be eligible for a license in professional counseling.  My father suggested I apply a few weeks prior and I nearly scoffed at the idea. I didn’t see how I could apply for aid, I made a choice to leave my job. I chose to reduce my income temporarily.  I chose to take a risk in hopes it would give me a greater gain.  I didn’t think I earned the right to ask for help.

His view was that that was what the program was for...temporary help to get by. And more importantly, it wasn’t just about me. I had two children I had also made a choice for.  They had to live with my risk and decision.  For that reason alone, I decided to apply.  I made a decision to live without, but they had not.

Lots of paperwork, several more hour long phone calls, an interview and escorting my pride out the door awarded my children a monthly allowance of financial food aid.  I was not personally awarded aid initially since I had made a choice to leave my job, but my children were not penalized for my choice.  Somehow, that made me feel better.

As my bills rolled in and my income did not, I was incredibly grateful for the help we were given.  And yet, I found myself uncomfortable every time I was at the grocery store checking out.  Because of that, I swear, my card didn’t work and the cashier would have to override and punch in the numbers several times often asking if I was sure there were enough funds available. I was sure. I kept careful track. And I was embarrassed, every single time. 

I reminded myself that it was me judging myself. It was me who didn’t feel deserving. I wasn’t doing anything wrong and asking for help is more than okay.  But I still squirmed. I still questioned what they thought of me.  Keep reading...

Stop Worrying with this Secret to Predict the Future

“I just want to know what is going to happen.”- Almost Everyone You Know
Perhaps not those exact words, but certainly similar words with the meaning behind them. We all inherently want to know where we are going and what we are doing at some point.  Predicting the unknown to make it a known is what makes us feel safe, right? If I make a decision, I want to know it’s going to lead me to the land of joy, no matter what.  

As a professional counselor, I have the luxury of listening to people’s stories all day long.  I ride the emotional roller coaster with them while watching the events that transform their every thought and move at that time in their lives.  We navigate the endless fears that come from the nonstop unknowns they face.  For me, it’s like watching an ongoing movie wondering how it’s going to play out, on the edge of me seat, holding out for the happy ending. My job is to help them see the life preservers that are slightly out of their view and the flowers that are waiting to be made into bouquets that grow right of the mud. If you pay close enough attention, they are absolutely everywhere.

Because of my years of experience of watching and listening to others, as well as living my own roller coaster of a life, I have become quite adapt at predicting the future.  Sometimes the movies become so obvious to me, I want to fast forward and tell them how it’s going to end, but I know that’s not actually my role.  So we watch together, take the dark and windy turns, hold our breaths and exhale and laugh when we rewind and see all the parts where we questioned what would happen next.  And I am always honored to be an invited guest in the portion of their life I’ve been included in.

I will share with you what I’ve learned over the years as fact.  And I encourage you to consider this practice as you hone in on your natural predictive capabilities.

As a human, you have likely questioned your decisions at times and include all the possibilities of what can go wrong and how to avoid them.  Your predictions may include “what if I lose all my money or security or get hurt or sick or am rejected or worst of all…am embarrassed in front of others! And suddenly our minds run us into dark alleys with creatures from foreign lands that had nothing to do with our original concern. The thought train of fear. We’ve all bought the ticket at some point.

We know fear is immobilizing. We know it stops us in our tracks.  And yet often, we think of our fear as keeping us feeling secure, even if it makes us feel insecure.  We’re funny like that.  We want a guarantee of the outcome so we can plan accordingly. How can we make a solid, safe decision without knowing?  Continue Reading...

When Grief Finds Its Purpose

“Hey, I found this outside the door with your name on the card,” she said holding a beautifully wrapped gift box, her hands extending it to me.

“Really?” I questioned. Who would be leaving me a gift outside my office door?  As I began to read the card, I felt silly by the obviousness of it all.  It was from my mischievous friend, standing right in front of me. I laughed and felt ridiculous at the same time.  My friend, Jayne, who I had met through work, had become one of my strongest cheerleaders and supporters in my life in a very short amount of time and I was grateful she was simply in the room. I’d spent so much time with clients lately, I'd forgotten the feeling of human friendship in the flesh.

Good Things are on Their Way to You, it read, along with a heartfelt note of thanks for our friendship and acknowledgement of just how much it meant to her.  The gifts inside the box were a blend of silly and serious tokens.  A spiritual book her mentor had written, novelty napkin and matches with funny pictures and sayings, and a few other items that represented just the kinds of things that would make us smile and pause. It was the perfect gift.

We waited a few minutes to acknowledge that we were, in fact, alone in the office.  We were running an empowerment group we just began advertising for and were thrilled that no one showed up.  It was just us, happy friends who got to spend the next hour telling stories of our week and the immense growth we were feeling and a genuine appreciation that our previous struggles were finally beginning to pay off…and more importantly, we were understanding why. 

We laughed hard at ourselves and the texts we sent earlier in the day.  She had become that friend for me, that offered me daily support and we would text each other all day long with updates and words of encouragement and insight…like an interactive friend journal. We knew just how the other was feeling and exchanged the play by plays of learning our daily lessons in living. Deep, spiritual and always an additional bonus of humor. She totally got me.

When she walked out the door that night, she showed me how big her pants were and I scolded her for wearing them.  Money was tight for her and she didn’t want to add more to her credit card and I went on a tangent about deserving and blah, blah, blah…buy some pants that feel good.  While I was getting in my car, she yelled out, “I Love You!” and I responded that I loved her back, thinking, “Huh, I should say that more often.”  I looked over at my friend waving goodbye and she looked stunning…and happy.

That would be the last vision I had of her.

My beautiful friend went home that night and died quietly in her sleep.

To fill in the gap of what I’ve experienced since that last sentence would be a book in itself. It’s been…incredibly painful. And I am no stranger to grief.

I’ve thought a lot about loss since then and why it’s such a challenge to manage emotionally.  I see how the more we attach ourselves to people, ideas and beliefs, the more we risk being hurt when we discover those people, ideas and beliefs can change overnight.  The stronger we attach, the higher the risk of disappointment if something goes “wrong.” They are the kind of thoughts where anxiety festers, and a fear of attachment begins.

It’s so easy to focus on loss when it happens…everything that’s missing.  All that we’ve lost, including the loss of the dream of the future and the way we thought it would be.  We focus on the change.  It’s a typical response and it hurts like crazy.

But when we slow down and look at what we’ve gained from a person or an idea that didn’t play out the way we once believed it would, we can begin to pull out the positives, the gifts, the experiences we wouldn’t have had otherwise.  And that’s when we can start to see the gain in almost anything.

If I was given the offer to create a friendship with a person who would change my life and perspective in such a way it would alter my view of my world, myself, how I give, how I love and how I want to grow-- but it would be taken away from me when I least expected it, would I take the offer?

Would I have had the courage to accept the experience for what it was?

I’m a risk taker, but risking dropping the peace in my heart is not my strong suit.

And yet, I took a risk to befriend someone who altered my life forever so profoundly that I will never be the same. I will take all that she taught me to expand my view of faith and create new opportunities that wouldn’t haven’t been inspired without her.  I will hear her voice when I’m scared and she will counsel me through as I try to avoid all that I want to pursue, but am fearful of.

Without taking the risk to attach, to love, to let go and trust that we are supported by life, how can we ever live in our dreams? Every idea and experience and person comes into our lives to teach us something and when they are present, we are unaware of how they will play out.  Does that mean we are best to avoid them? How many incredible experiences would we miss out on if we chose not to risk potential temporary discomfort?

When we look back on all the pains we’ve lived through, how many would we give up if it meant we couldn’t be where we are?

I wouldn’t give mine up either. I wouldn’t be who I am without the risks and challenges and I am liking this woman I see transforming. I am eternally grateful for what I’ve learned. Worth every tear I’ve shed and feeling of emptiness, especially now that I am beginning to refill my own cup.

When assessing risk, the ultimate question becomes, which will bring me closer to my joy and which will take me further away?  I choose joy in whatever form it comes in. You?

How To Handle Fear of Change When Life is Changing Unexpectedly

 

I sat at my desk and stared out the window at the flagpole almost daily, longing to be outside and breathing anything but the staleness of each day.  I had no idea where I wanted to be or what I would be doing, but I knew I was reaching the end of my rope.  I was unhappy and tired of listening to my own complaints to my friends of just how miserable I was. My mantra in life and as a high school counselor had consistently been, “if you don’t like what you’re doing, than do something about it.”  I desperately wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what.

So I sat and waited, feeling the internal nudge to make a change, yet feeling my feet drag even more forcefully. I only had questions, not answers. I had a mortgage and two children to care for in my newly single life.  My plan had to be concrete and fool proof in order to proceed. 

The odd part was, I liked the work I did at my job. I loved counseling kids. I loved teaching them about their strengths and helping them see what was clear from the outside looking in. I liked who I was when I was with them doing what I do best. It was the rest of the work that felt contrived and half-hearted and quite simply, confining. I felt myself creeping out of my shell with a censor that blocked my words and the authenticity of what I knew to be true. I craved the freedom to express myself untethered.

I made a pact that I would start actively generating ideas for ways to get out. I had become comfortable in the discomfort and it was not how I wanted to live my life.  I had been making huge changes in my personal life and clearly I was ready for one more. I would make this one on my terms though. I would make sure everything went smoothly to ensure its success.

Within weeks of making this pact to myself, I was sent an email letting me know of a mandatory meeting scheduled for me with a person of power at the school I worked for. I knew it was a warning sign the minute I read it. Life was about to change. It was scheduled for a few days away, which gave me the opportunity to lay awake obsessing over what it could be about and worrying how I would respond. I went into the meeting prepared for the worst and the worst was actually worse than I thought....Keep Reading...

Put On Your Big Girl Panties and Be Brave

 

I stared at this text for what felt like several minutes letting it soak in.  It was like I couldn’t fully comprehend it.  I had just divulged a long standing secret fear to someone I deeply admired and the response was more profound than I was expecting.

For the majority of my life, my goal was to be fearless.  Fear less…or not fear at all.  Fear had held me back for a very long time until I was so uncomfortable in my skin I could no longer take it. I had to make changes. Huge ones! And each of them were blocked by fear.  Yet it wasn’t until I made the changes despite the intensity that I realized the fear was only blocking my joy.

This lead to an even stronger desire to be fearless. I challenged myself often to do things that made me uneasy to prove to myself I could. I made decisions that were the opposite of what I would normally do to experience more of what I didn’t know existed.  Some fears were small, like ordering new foods I wasn’t sure I’d like or mingling at an event where I didn’t know anyone. Others were life altering, like buying a house out of my financial league after leaving my marriage, or resigning from a secure job and starting my own business with very little knowledge of what it would take.

The whole time I thought I was practicing fearlessness, but that could not be further from the truth. I was absolutely terrified! Each big step had seemingly hundreds of small steps that provoked inner angst.  And each small step reminded me that there were many more left like them. I rarely feel like I know what I’m doing, but I keep going anyway.  I practice Bravery and Courage.  Bravery to work through my fears and Courage to keep going. I am not fearless. I am actually anything, but, fearless. What a relief to know it isn’t fearlessness that will keep me moving forward. Keep Reading...

The Inspirologist

Less than two weeks prior to her transition, Jayne Fletcher climbed her final steps to clarity on Earth with her son, divinely timed as usual, before her rise to clarity in the Heavens. Her growth and light were extraordinary and her learning immense. She longed to share them.

Jayne shared her pride with me via text…“I have never been more proud of myself. Never. Never in my entire life. I’m so proud of my accomplishments I’ve made in my life, to bring me to where I am today. It’s incredible. I am blessed and I am fortunate for all that is. Thank you.”

This first quote was the text she sent me when she reached the top of the physical steps of the tower she climbed, facing a long standing fear. I share her words and story as the Inspirologist with you to allow your heart to grow and expand as hers did. 

“I’m so clear on my dream and when I spoke it out loud, I was inspired by my own strength, clarity and direction.” The Inspirologist

When I first met Jayne only a year ago, I was immediately drawn to her.  We were being invited to work in a spiritual healing center and create our own network of clients.  We both spoke of our current status of life transition, leaving jobs unexpectedly and knowing it was clearly to do the work our soul craved.  Yet, it was scary and unstable and a huge risk.  And we were waist deep in working to make things work while embracing the faith we believed we needed to move forward living a trust based life. But the truth was, we couldn’t get ourselves to do anything else.

Our connection was instant and my trust of her and in her was an enormous gift from the start. She made it easy.  She laughed at my jokes, understood my intense emotions and shared my passion for hope.  It was clear we were meant to work together.

“Love is our survival. We seek it for so many reasons, but the primary is acceptance.” -The Inspirologist

As our friendship grew, so did our self love. We took turns supporting each other as life twisted and turned with moments of gratitude and moments of frustration and pain.  We shared our dreams and what we’d learned and the value we found in each experience, challenging or blissful, they each had a gift.  We looked for the deeper meaning of discomfort and pulled out the pieces which gave us solace. 

Jayne believed in the power of love as the strongest method of healing. Looking inside ourselves and seeing who we truly are and knowing that we deserve all good things that come our way. Without self love, we are unable to accept love from the outside.  Without self-acceptance, we can not fully grasp that we deserve all things beautiful and bright.

“Accepting who you are is key. Accepting who you are diminishes the insecurities and the fear.”-The Inspirologist.

Jayne knew that seeing our internal strength was the only way to find true peace.  We can look outside of ourselves and grip onto the strength of another, but it will not give the lasting strength we desire.  We can search for acceptance and approval through others from the outside world, but it is only our own eyes that clearly see our truth. When we accept ourselves, we accept the life around us.  

“How would you feel if you were alone? Feel inside what it is…then heal from that place.” The Inspirologist

Jayne spent the last few years entrenched in her own healing and understanding. She knew it was the only way to move forward with grace and knowledge.  She wanted that knowledge, she asked for it, and it was hand delivered in many ways.  She found her strength to heal in her faith, in her ability to truly KNOW that she was loved and supported.  

“Trust the process, hold the vision. Hold true to what you want.” The Inspirologist

Jayne practiced trust each day.  She recited her morning prayers and affirmations with consistency, living in peace and wholeness with every chance she could get.  She loved her vision.  She nurtured it, fed it, held it next to her heart so it would feel the life she breathed into it.  She wanted to help people grow and heal.  And she did.  She shared her words, her knowings, her gift to connect with Heaven and all those who inhabit it.  Her work as a medium was fulfilling, but not as fulfilling as sharing her belief in the power of self-love.

“Reality- people want to believe. They’re desperate to hold on, to understand, to see. They need validation, they need love. They need to hear.” The Inspirologist

I knew I was meant to meet Jayne to learn more about myself and feel the genuine connection of friendship.  She was my reflection of strength, faith and self-love and taught me what love really means….internal strength, trust and peace.

“You have all the resources from within. Trust.” The Inspirologist

Jayne’s life path was not an easy one, but she was grateful for it.  She knew her lessons were meant to help her be who she dreamed of.

“As I’m sitting here by myself, I feel such gratitude and growth.  Learning may be a pain in the ass, but it does feel flipping awesome.” The Inspirologist

When Jayne finally began sharing her insight and knowledge on Facebook, it was like she gave birth to herself. Her voice was being heard. She was impressed with herself and she felt adoring passion for her work.  

“This has been the best year of my entire life.  A year of learning, understanding and clarity, it’s been incredible sharing my thoughts, dreams and sorrows. Thank you.  Thank you for what was, what is and what will be. I am so grateful. I’m the luckiest girl in the world.” The Inspirologist

Jayne left this world so filled with love for herself, for her little Buddha Matthew (who by the way, she quoted so often for her own inspiration) and for her life.  She came to learn and teach and that she did. And without question, she will continue to teach from the other side.

As I read through months of our texts of support, I embraced the many lessons she helped me see. So profound, so loving, so filled with depth and knowledge. And yet her support for all of us continues on…

“FYI...you got this. You can handle anything that comes your way! Remember that! Breathe and know that this is a learning for another step in the direction of your goals. I heard you needed to hear that.” – The Inspirologist

Jayne is a power player in this great Universe of ours and God continues to shine her light. She wouldn’t have it any other way.  She wants us to embrace the moments we have and appreciate the journey. It’s the quickest way to a peaceful and joy filled life.

“No one knows the exact timing your life, Dear One, when you are ready, it will find you. Be present, be open, be free. Free of expectations of what lies ahead.” The Inspirologist

The evening before Jayne transitioned to Heaven, she and I spent our last hour together sharing our excitement and our growth. She was filled with happiness and pride and in awe of her own courage.  She was simply…stunning.

On her last day on Earth, she learned her final lesson.

“I found my greatest love through fear.” The Inspirologist

Jayne faced her strongest fears and was rewarded with the gift of peace. A peace she wants to share with all you. I share with you a last message of love…

“Understand that the truth of what lies ahead is in the path of greatness. Go be great! You are progressing at warp speed to achieve greatness not only within love, but within the circle of life. Go to the edge where you’ve never been before. Go In Peace”

- With all her love, The Inspirologist

Turning Grief Into Gratitude

As I come upon the one year anniversary of a life changing event for me, a time where I want to focus on celebrating my accomplishments, I instead find myself rounding up my grief.  

I don’t speak of it often because the event is still confusing for me and pangs of anger and sadness can rise up quicker than I can escort them out. It is a story of betrayal, of lies, of weakness and yet, an event that would cause me to dig deep to decide and follow through on how I would allow myself to be treated and what I truly deserved.

I was told I would no longer have my job, a job I once dreamt of having, a job I did well at, a job where I grew close friends who had supported me through some of the other major life changes I’d undergone…getting married, having my babies, deaths of loved ones and even the end of my marriage.  In so many ways I grew up there, it was my security, it was my home base, and then when I least expected it, it told me I was not welcome there anymore.

Let me be clear, I still had a job, but not at the place I had called my home.  I was not fired, I was told that I would have no choice but to take a different job if I still wanted employment.  For someone like me who needs to understand EVERYTHING, it made no sense at all.  I had not done anything wrong. I was good at what I did. I created opportunity to give as much as I could while I was there. Yet, I knew in my heart why it was happening.  I knew I didn’t belong there anymore, but it hurt tremendously.  

The feeling of intense heartache and anger was not foreign. It was not the first time I had been treated poorly in my life. And I knew I had to make a decision on if I would allow the pattern to continue or if I could muster the courage to change it.  I asked myself the same questions over and over again…what do you want, what would you do if you removed the fear, and what would you tell yourself if you were your own spouse? My answers came quickly, but it didn’t stop me from asking them…repeating “Are you sure? Are you really sure?” I was sure, but wow, it was scary.

I was quickly reminded it wasn’t just about me. I had children to think about, a mortgage, and no actual knowledge of what life outside my little bubble would look like. Prior to making my decision to leave a secure job completely, I didn’t even know what the hell I was going to do!

And so began my first step in my giant leap….huge leap….of Faith.  I knew myself well enough to know once I made up my mind there would be no turning back.  And there wasn’t.

I want to tell you that it was smooth sailing after that. I want to tell you there have been no obstacles. I want to tell you that the fear dissolves.  But the truth is, even being on the “right” path, there are still obstacles, there are storms like I’ve never seen, there are fears that follow me around like we have been besties for years and they still lie to me that they are keeping me safe. The learning curves for me are enormous.  And I become overwhelmed and frustrated and exhausted.  

Yet, when I think of what my life would have been like if I chose the other path, I can’t even fathom how I’d still be breathing. I would have survived, I would have made it work, but I wouldn’t be truly living….at least not comfortably in my skin. And not directly on the path to my own happiness.

 A year later, I AM living an authentic life.  One I’ve had great help designing and one that hasn’t even begun to exploit what I know I have yet to do. I am given amazing gifts nearly every day. Extraordinary highs I've never experienced and a sense of knowing I would have never believed existed. I have had spontaneous tears of joy that seem to come from nowhere and the sensation of my passion bubbling to the surface. I hear myself say thank you all day long...and I mean it from the depths of my soul.

I wish my accomplishments took the sadness out for me. I wish I didn’t still feel the heartache. But maybe that’s just the reminder, that I had a good life to walk away from.  And there really don’t need to be any regrets.  It was just time to move on to the next part of who I am.  

Acceptance…the last stage of grief.  I’m just a few tears away.

I was telling my son that I will be celebrating the date and he highlighted my bravery, stating that not everyone has the courage to do what I’ve done. I disagreed and still disagree. Everyone has the same amount of bravery to access, it’s whether we choose to use it or not.  

How do you want to live your life?  We are all asked the same question and we are all given opportunity to create exactly what we want.  And when the opportunity presents itself, and it always does… it’s our call what comes next.

Making A Big Decision When You're Not Sure Which Way is Right

Over the last two and a half years I have made some big changes in my life. And by big, I mean enormous.

First, I moved with my husband and our children from a home I loved for ten years. Shortly after, my husband and I ended a twenty-year relationship and marriage. With that separation, I made the decision to buy the house we had moved to, which on paper, I shouldn’t have been able to buy.

Apparently ending a long commitment and beginning a large financial one on my own wasn’t enough for me though. The following year I resigned from a secure job to pursue a dream I hadn’t fully envisioned and started a business without projected goals.

When I list out all the changes, I start to question my own sanity.

I have never been one to make quick decisions, especially ones that I hadn’t thought through. I was raised by my father, a self-proclaimed workaholic, who spent his career as a high powered executive for a high risk industrial insurance company.

I was not bred to believe in taking chances, to live on instinct alone, and to leave anything that resembled security. You just don’t do that. But something was stirring in me that kept me unsettled.

I knew it was time to make changes, and I knew those changes were absolutely not guaranteed to work in my favor. I was scared—no, terrified—to alter the course of my life, but standing still gave me even more anxiety.

How do you make the decision to change your entire life and know it’s truly right for you?

I have a secret, one that I’ve used consistently in recent years when making decisions that weighed heavily on me.

It’s a technique that simplifies the agonizing back and forths of “should I or shouldn’t I?” One I wished I learned when I was younger to ward off some major bouts of indecisiveness and internal torment. Although in retrospect, I would not have been ready to use it until I was actually ready to hear it....Keep Reading

The Growing Pains of Becoming My Authentic Self

I have been writing two or three paragraphs at a time for weeks on various topics and I couldn’t figure out why. I have so many things to share and ideas I know would be helpful, but I just can’t seem to get them out. And no matter how much inspiration I ask for, it’s just not coming.  Why? Because as of late, my world is small. I used to write about experiences I saw and learned from others and right now, most of my experiences on a daily basis are mine and mine alone.

I am in a healing phase of my life and have been for many months now.  I have been processing years worth of discomfort while trying to get my life in order. It has been a wonderful time of growth and a challenging time of allowing the emotions to come up and out.  I have had to look at my demons and question their purpose as well as hone in on my strengths to see what skills I want to sharpen.  Most days I am equally focused and driven as I am lost and confused. 

The other day I woke up with a determined purpose. I had unfinished business regarding the end of my marriage I had to attend to and I’d been dragging my feet. I had been getting the not so gentle internal nudges, but I can be a turtle when it comes to finalizing painful things.  This was one of them. 

I was feeling proud of myself mid morning for getting it done and then out of nowhere, the pangs of sadness started to jab at me. “No thank you,” I said to myself, “I’ve felt those already, we’ve been over this. Move on already.” I successfully pushed them down to move on to the next task. I had things to do.

It had been snowing all morning and I decided I would get some fresh air and exercise and begin to shovel my 700 foot driveway.  I had my music playing loud to drown out the thoughts and use my anxious energy for a purpose.  It was cold and my back was sore, but that discomfort was nothing compared to what I felt brewing underneath.  

After thirty minutes of shoveling, I realized there was a layer of ice below the snow that was going to make clearing off the rest of the hilly driveway difficult. I stared down the snowy path and questioned if it was safe to even drive on.  How will I get out? What am I going to do? How do I fix this? 

My immediate inclination was to call my ex-husband. The man who was once my practical fixer for all things I couldn’t figure out.  He’d walk me through it. I pondered how we would fix this problem together.  And then a tiny stop sign made its way in my head. “No, you can’t call him. It’s not his job to bail you out. You need to figure this out without him. That’s not your life anymore.” 

“Yes, but I could really use his help. He’ll know what to do.” I argued.

The stop sign grew larger and the voice bolder than before. “Stop! You know it’s time to accept the change. Accept it, Lynn. You’ve got to break this pattern.” 

“But he’s what I know. I can rely on him to fix this.” I wouldn’t back down. 

“Then go ahead and call him. Start the pattern again. You know how it goes.” I calmly replied.

The urges were so strong and I felt myself crumbling under the pressure. One warm tear rolled down my cheek, then another…and another. Little waves of emotions seeping out of me slowly.  I couldn’t stop them. They wouldn’t stop.

I sat on the steps of my garage in the house I bought alone and sobbed.  How did I get here? What am I doing? This is not the life I would have chosen. I felt completely defeated and alone. I prayed for help. I asked for support. I needed to pull it together.

I took enough deep breaths to call my best problem solving side kick…my sister from another mister.  As usual, she calmly took control and offered to fix my problem without even taking a breath.  Only your closest friends can decipher your needs through your sobs.

Seconds after I ended the call with her I heard the teenager I’d recently hired to plow my driveway come flying up it. I hadn’t asked him to come, he just did. Fifteen minutes later my driveway was cleared and additional help was on the way.  Problem solved. 

Once the tears stopped, I re-visited the harsh questions I asked earlier. 

How did I get here? I chose this path.

What am I doing? Following my internal direction that is stronger every day.

This is not the life I would I have chosen?? This is exactly the life I have chosen and I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I am exactly where I need to be and figuring it out as I go along. And forward I will go. 

As for feeling alone, I had help within thirty minutes of asking for it. That’s some seriously good service. I am never, ever alone. 

In my life as a counselor, a healer, a mentor, a mother, a friend, I find it easy to see the patterns in others. I can sense and solve a problem that is not my own in record time when needed. I can feel the pain in others and process it. I can also take the emotion out and see it for what it is. But when it comes to my own life, I am as human as it gets. 

Sometimes I learn from my mistakes quickly. Sometimes I have to repeat them numerous times in various ways to really, fully get the gist.  But always, I am learning and growing and living and teaching everything I pick up along the way.  I believe these are the growing pains of coming into my own authenticity.  I can only imagine it will get easier with more practice and continued dedication. 

And if it doesn’t, I will always have more to learn and learning is one of my favorite things!  For today, I am grateful for the opportunity to practice and to reframe and for the invaluable experience of learning how to heal myself.