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Serendipitous Living

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How to Love Yourself First

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My 15-year-old daughter sat next to me in the passenger seat as I drove, curiously opening the pile of notes before her wondering what each one would reveal. We had just been given a box of memorabilia from when I was a young child.

“Dear Mom, I love you and you are the most loveable person in the world and wonderful. I love you very, very much. xoxoxoxoxoxo Love, Lynnie

“Day by Day, I Love You. Night by Night, I say, “No matter what will ever happen, I’ll always Love you anyway. Love, Lynn”

“To Mommy, Just want to say I LOVE YOU. Love, Lynn.”

One after another expressing my love to the person who I knew needed to hear it. My mother.  A woman who suffered from Manic Depression and struggled to manage her debilitating highs and lows as she attempted to live a “normal” life. 

It appeared I needed her to know…to feel…Loved. I did my very best to shower her with proof that she was important and thought of with warm and loving thoughts.  What I couldn’t do was convince her to feel the same. I couldn’t get her to see what I saw or felt, but that didn’t stop me from trying. 

My efforts were strong, but her will won out. She committed suicide right before I turned 15 years old…the same age as my own daughter reading my love notes from childhood.

“That is just another example, ” I told my daughter,” of how people can’t receive what they don’t feel. We can love someone with every part of our being, but if they don’t feel it for themselves, they won’t be able to feel it from outside of them either. It has to start with yourself.”

I’m a professional counselor. I’ve heard myself say those words many times before, but not when describing my mother. Even as I said the words they began to sink in more.

There was nothing I could do….

Suicide brings on a complicated kind of grief. All the typical cycles are present…the denial, the anger, the sadness, the regret…on repeat. The “what iffing” that joins in is one that seems to have it’s own relentless voice. 

“What if I had…what if she had…what if he had…what if they had…?” 

Over and over again. What would have been different? Even when we’ve accepted the WHY, we still struggle to not keep asking “But what if?”

I’ve dedicated my life’s work to helping people enjoy life more. I’ve dedicated my own effort to doing the same for myself. I know crippling anxiety. I know the heaviness of depression. I know what’s it’s like to question, what the hell am I doing here? 

I also know what it’s like to want to feel loved and appreciated but put myself in positions over and over again that gave me the opposite feeling. I know what it feels like to keep trying to prove myself and not feel accepted in return. I know what it’s like to assume life is never going to actually improve, despite my desperate desire for it. 

But I also know that life has a way of giving us what we need and feeding us our worth when we open ourselves up more and let it in. And the only way to do that, is to start with how you feel about yourself.

What Happens When You Start to Love Yourself First?

If you don’t think you are good enough, then you won’t accept the compliment. If you don’t like the way you feel, you will look for the validation of your value outside of yourself over and over again, but you won’t be able to fully absorb it. It will fill you briefly, but then you will be hungry for more soon after. It won’t be enough.

And that’s because you can’t hold on to what you don’t fully believe.  If you won’t take it in then why would you ask for more of what you want? If you don’t feel confident enough, then why would let yourself be in a relationship that feeds your desire to be loved? Really loved with actions that prove it.

In order to own it, truly own the love and acceptance that is given to you, you must love yourself first. The way you view your life, your value, what you give to the world and the people in it. You’ll benefit from looking inside of your own heart and identifying the pains and the voices that keep you down. And you will really benefit from challenging them!

You want proof that you have something to offer? That you are enough? Then spend some time getting to know the you you want others to see. The scared parts, the lonely parts, the protective parts, the angry parts, as well as the loving parts, the proud parts, the compassionate parts, the optimistic parts who see hope clearly and the light of a cloudy day. Get to know those parts, all of them. And befriend them. Accept them, feel compassion for them and learn to let them really be loved and honored for who they are. 

Those parts want to be seen, heard, understood and accepted, as well acknowledged for the gift they are that makes up amazing you. 

Take out a piece of paper and list out the parts of yourself. Give them names and their dominant characteristics. Introduce them to each other. Ask them the questions you’d ask someone you were just meeting. 

When do they show up in your life? Where did they come from? 

Who do they remind you of? Who are you drawn to the most? Who irritates you the most? 

How are they protecting you? How are they harming you? Ask them why. 

Get to know them each as the parts of you who make up your amazingness as a whole. We are not looking to abolish them, but accept them. All of them. They each have a purpose. Learn what that purpose is and how you can learn to work with them, not against each other.

If you can’t understand why you don’t feel loved or why it comes so fleeting into your life, start with you. 

All of you.

You deserve the time, focus and energy it takes learning to accept and appreciate yourself and all the sustainable joy that comes with it.

The original post is on Purpose Fairy.

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Say Yes to What Excites You and Make This the Year You Really Live

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“I imagine that Yes is the only living thing.” ~E.E. Cummings

During the fall of 2017 I began openly dating, four years after my separation and divorce of a twenty-plus year relationship. It was scary. And I was clear—I didn’t want a commitment, I just wanted the experience and some fun.

My third round of online dating, I finally went out with some younger men who I assumed lined up with my non-commitment goal. It was different and fun, but also not quite what I wanted.

In December of that year, my friend, who was interested in getting to know me more and had been asking me to lunch for months, called me out on my non-commitment. I always had the perfect excuse as to why I couldn’t go. But none of them were as valid as the truth: I was scared.

What if I enjoyed my time with him? What if he liked me and I had to let him down because I wanted nothing to do with a real relationship? My biggest fear is hurting other people, so I didn’t want to even consider that option. Until he said, “Why don’t you stop avoiding and commit to lunch.”

I really dislike being called out, especially when it’s right. So I went.

And you know what happened? What I feared. I enjoyed myself—for four hours. It was filled with great conversation and great company. We closed down the restaurant with our lengthy stay. For someone who listens to people all day long as a professional counselor, I thoroughly enjoyed being listened to and heard. It was wonderful.

And from that moment, my goal for 2018 was born. The Year of Yes.

For the entire year I would commit to saying yes to opportunities that scared me. Ones that made me squirmy and uncomfortable and that promised to teach me something every step of the way.

In 2018, I created podcasts, which I had been avoiding. It scared me to put my work out there and expose myself. As I created them I discovered I loved them. They inspired me to continue doing the work I’m passionate about and still do.

I also opened myself up to doing a number of interviews that completely took me out of my comfort zone. If someone contacted me or an opportunity arose that made my heart beat fast, I said yes without thinking.

When my voice of inspiration popped up and guided me to write and post, I did. When I felt the pull to take financial risks that made me question my stability, I took them. If it felt scary but exciting, I said yes. And didn’t look back.

When the days were sunny and I had a ton of work to do, but a fun option presented itself, I chose the fun. Not an ounce of regret.

I said yes to adventure. I traveled more readily and confidently in 2018 than any other year of my life. I’m an anxious flyer and I jumped on a tiny plane up the coast and large planes across the country. I explored. I stayed open. I was scared, but I did it anyway, and loved it.

I also said yes to a new relationship—sloooowly. Very, very slowly.

In that relationship I noticed things in myself I could not have seen on my own. How quickly I want to bail if I’m uncomfortable. How hard it is for me to receive kindness and love and allow it to be a comfortable part of my life. How much I clam up when I want to run and how easy it is for me to shut down, all while teaching others how to do the complete opposite. Which meant I too, had to practice what I preached.

I learned to communicate like a champ. I shared my feelings when I would normally close them off. I let myself get close to people when I’d rather stay much, much further away.

I chose to say yes. I said yes to myself. I said yes to my life.

And I lived.

I lived in a way I’d been wanting to. I let the yeses guide me to the next step and the next place to grow and enjoy myself. I proved to myself over and over again that the rewards far outweighed the risks of what I thought it would take to be enjoying—truly enjoying—my life.

I reaffirmed what I believed to be true: When I follow my heart, my intuition, my knowing, life has a way of working itself out. Not without some level of discomfort. Not without experiences of pain. Not without changing some tough habits to shake. But all with a value that lasts and creates experiences I’ve desired all along.

I learned that my fear was also my thrill. My shaking and restlessness were also my courage. My pause was my inhale before the exhale to true joy.

We are trained to fear, to hold back and question all the things that can go wrong. We are masterful at saying no to living, to taking chances and being uncomfortable.

We want proof we will be okay. I know I do. And luckily, it already exists.

We have years of being afraid of worst-case scenarios that never played out.

We have memories of taking risks and things turning out even better than we expected.

There may also have been times when things didn’t work out better than expected, or even close. But when we didn’t get what we wanted, we usually got what we needed—we learned, we grew, and we opened ourselves up to new connections and possibilities.

From all our assorted adventures, there were pains that helped us grow stronger and triumphs that helped us feel braver.

We have proof that when we follow what feels right, we’re always on the right path for us.

We have a life that lovingly and courageously wants to be lived.

What would happen if you started saying yes? What would your life look like if you let yourself live? If you pushed through your fears and excuses and let your curiosity and excitement lead the way?

You have all the reasons you can’t. But you also have the reasons you can.

What will you choose?

Original Post on Tiny Buddha



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A Simple Way to Practice Trusting the Process of Life

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As the new year began I committed to myself that I would practice what I preach and really learn to Live Serendipitously- in the flow of life. This meant I would practice to letting go and see how life is truly happening for me and build evidence to prove this.

I believe this concept wholeheartedly, but I also am human and don’t like getting slammed with unexpected life stressors as much as the next person. I welcome growth and change, but experiencing pain and disappointment is not favorite way to get there.

So you know what January offered me? Pain. And frustration. And impatience. And heartache. 

Not the devastating kind, but just enough confusion, hurt and stress to take me out of my flow and have me question what I was doing- a lot. I was cranky and irritable. I felt lost and confused. I cried nearly every day to relieve the stress build up and gave myself the space to feel my feelings. 

I experienced strong waves of anger and resentment and let myself feel every ugly part of it. I did not appreciate it at all, but it helped. I chose to not repress and found myself venting angrily to get it out. It was incredibly unpleasant as anger is my least favorite emotion. It generally makes me feel powerless and stuck. I let myself experience it, but I refuse to live there.

Despite my uneasiness with the process, I let myself be in the flow of what was happening and ride the waves of discomfort knowing they would eventually end.  

Thankfully, on New Year’s Day I also began tracking the good things which occurred each day. I purposefully noticed the unexpected joys and opportunities I didn’t see coming which found their way into my life. I use a Gratitude App on my phone that allows me to add pictures and list the things that made me feel good each day.

I began the practice of recording that which lifted me up, made me smile or brought me hope. Whether they were compliments or experiences or simple surprises like small gifts through words or actions from others, I wrote them down. I noted what I saw or created or even committed to doing or giving to myself. 

Every single day had a gift. And I tracked it. 

This practice allows me see that even in my dark moments, there is a glimpse of light, of hope, of joy, no matter how small. I did not know the month would bring so much challenge. I had no way to predict it. But I also did not know that so many wonderful things would happen or what they would be. 

Tracking my daily joys allows me to increase my faith that no matter what happens next, something will help balance it out. It may be a moment that feels good and lets me know it’s not always going to be hard and challenging. It may be a promise of hope or a reminder of being loved and seen. These moments give me proof that in some way I am supported, even in the smallest of ways. And the small moments and surprises adds up.

Some days I tracked unexpected joys right after they happened and others I would add in at the end of the day or early the next morning. Each time I wrote them I re-lived the joy and the feeling of gratitude and awe that came with them. This is a gift in itself! 

As I reflect on the past month, I’m intrigued with how much my challenge changed and then dissipated, as well as the amount I learned about myself and my reactions to life. What I have deemed a very hard month was also one filled with wonderful events, opportunities, interactions and enormous gifts of joy. Had I not tracked them or taken the time to reflect, I would have said the month was a disappointment and stressful all throughout. 

Tracking my joys shifts my perspective and also firms up my faith and proof that life is truly happening for me even when I can’t see it in the moment, but I know the gifts will find their way. It allows me to truly Live Serendipitously with more trust and evidence that life is happening for me. 

My cousin Andrew says that life seems to be something of a project. The unpredictable ups and downs give us something to discover and learn as we go. I couldn’t agree more. And I for one, plan to make the most of this project and take in all the joy I can along the way. Ready to join me?

Article also posted and shared on Biz Catalyst 360.



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Maybe It's Time to Make the Unknown a Known

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Ending unhealthy patterns and changing the dynamics in relationships is haarrrd. Especially the relationship you have with yourself.

Often you can not see your own repeat behavior in a relationship because the emotional ties and attachments make it much harder to see.

This is why we have an intuitive voice. An inner knowing that whispers and eventually screams “Knock it off and change it up!”

But change  can also feel haarrrd. And if the change you want is accompanied by risks and fears (and most are) it will slow down you actually following through with what feels best. 

So how do you know you are moving in the right direction for you? Because your choice may feel scary, but it also feels like freedom. Being on the other side FEELS like freedom.

And because you have an arsenal of proof that when you do hard things and follow through with tough decisions, the details work themselves out.

The emotions balance themselves out. The fear dissipates when you see that this change you’ve been putting off is EXACTLY what you needed and will progress you forward to even more freedom and love of life. 

If you’re not there yet, the hints and clues will keep coming and the voice will get louder. The discomfort will grow. And it’s your call.  What will you choose?

Fear or trust in yourself, your abilities and knowledge that Life supports you when you support yourself. 

Maybe it’s time to make the unknown a known.

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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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Living Serendipitously

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Serendipity occurs for us even when we are not paying attention…

In my early 20’s, while trying to figure out what I was meant to do, I felt stuck. I was studying psychology in college, and it didn’t feel right. My initial passion to learn what makes people tick began to dwindle the more classes I took. The college I attended was focused on research, and the theories presented seemed to make simple processes unnecessarily complicated. I was frustrated and discouraged and unsure if I was on the right path for me.

I had a strong drive to help others but not in the way I was learning. I felt alone in my struggle and confused by the direction. The summer before going into my senior year of college, I wondered if I should change my course as I neared the end of this phase. Since I was good at keeping my fears to myself, it came as a surprise when my brother suggested I read a book that inspired him. That was the first time he recommended anything to me. I took his advice and read the book… the book I had unknowingly been waiting for.

In the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl, a renowned psychologist, wrote of his accounts as a prisoner in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. He shared the horrific stories of the violence he witnessed and how he survived. He also shared the theory he developed that there is a purpose to all of our experiences and we can find meaning in just about anything.

A focus on the good. The gifts in the midst of chaos. The opportunity to grow and prosper from whatever we are faced with.

This was how I saw life, and this man who had experienced so much trauma saw it too. It was this book, his experiences, and views, which reminded me I was headed in the right direction for me. It was the serendipity, the unexpected gift, the reminder I needed to keep going.

Life is serendipitous. It is filled with unexpected pleasures, gifts, and opportunities. Our experiences are meant to be. And we are supported in these experiences, even the ones that feel like they are tearing us down.

Our lives are designed for us to learn, grow and experience joy. All of us. We are given opportunities through our relationships, our jobs, our children, our playtimes, our accidents, our illnesses, our losses, our chance meetings with strangers and a whole host of other ways, to learn about ourselves and how we give and receive love.

We are given choices and hints and whispers and sometimes shouts of which direction to go next and it is up to us decide how we want to live our lives. Each decision we make creates new opportunities to learn and grow. Sometimes these opportunities feel challenging and painful, and sometimes they are so filled with ease we wonder if they are real. They are all real, and they are all for us.

How do we know this? How can we trust it? By creating the proof. By practicing awareness that hope and grace surround us. All we have to do is open ourselves up to it and receive.  

Each day listen to your inner voice to create some of the joy you are looking for. Start to take note of the good things that are happening to you and around you. Notice when someone compliments you when you least expect it and how it feels. Notice when your children give you an extra hug and tell you they love you. Notice when you thought you couldn’t pay your bill and the money showed up at the last minute, or you were given an extension when you asked. Notice the opportunities that appear “out of the blue.”

Notice the ideas that are repetitive in your thoughts and how good it feels when you follow through and trust them. Notice that when you take care of yourself, your mood starts to shift quickly, as does your perspective.

Notice how when you felt grief over loss, your friends and family stopped what they were doing to lift you up. Notice how the disagreement that was long overdue with someone you love allowed you to start communicating more openly and honestly. Notice all the things that bring you joy and see how they multiply. Not in how often they occur, but in how often you let them into your heart with awareness.

The more you focus on the good and see the gifts in every day, no matter what is going on, you train yourself to see the temporariness of situations, especially the uncomfortable ones. You begin to recognize....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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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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There's Purpose In Pain and A Gift In Every Loss

“There’s a bit of magic in everything and loss to even things out.”- Lou Reed
 
“Although I have spent years training myself to reverse my own anxiety, I have only left survival mode in the last couple months and am learning what that feels like and to be comfortable fully trusting that I am and my children are taken care of. I am at my goal of better than fine- but I’ve never been here before.  And while I know my work is in the interim of where I’ll end up, I am learning to appreciate where I am in the journey. It’s a wonderful and foreign place and I know this appreciation is also a practice, but it feels incredibly important.  I don’t want to just say I am grateful, I want to fully feel it. I am whole without more, just as I am. I create as I choose.  Peace is happening now if I allow it. Big revelation.”

I sent this text to one of my closest friends one morning after a particularly empowering meditation.  Our daily conversations were always this deep, introspective and growth oriented.  It felt good to write out my inner thoughts and fears and I was excited for every one of her heartfelt and insightful replies.

Her response…”That is incredible! I understand the angst of living in the now. Took me years of working hard at trying to change my patterns and reactions that I picked up as a result of living so many years with fear, angst and chaos. So Lynn, live it, breathe it, be it! You earned it! I’ve only known you a short time, but 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 for you! For your friendship, for your support, for your love, I’m the luckiest girl in the world.”

Five days later, after many more texts, and one evening of sharing our joy through our growing pains in person, my treasured friend died in her sleep.  Unexpectedly for those who loved her, her soul exited peacefully and left an enormous hole in the hearts of her son, family and friends who relied on her unwavering strength and glowing light to keep us comforted and inspiring our own power.

I, for one, was devastated.

The peace I had felt a week prior was shattered. I felt nothing but shock, anger, confusion and a deep, deep sadness. But worst of all, I felt alone.  Keep Reading...

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...

Five Minutes A Day to Change Your Life

I am just like you. My mind doesn’t turn off.  My internal amusement park has more attractions than Disney World, yet it’s not always quite as fun.  With so many ways to distract ourselves, at times it seems impossible to shut it down.  And sometimes, it is.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t reign it in.  We have way more control than we let ourselves believe.

When I first began to practice meditation, I was in the beginning of my divorce process and I knew I had to do whatever I could to stay emotionally balanced.  With the non-stop worrisome thoughts of what to do next, I was determined to slow down my high speed thought train of fear and discomfort.  I tried every tactic I came across. Between meditation challenges with guided imagery, mantras, chanting, and total silence, I was determined to find my niche. Yet no matter what I tried, I could not find one that found the off button for my thoughts. They just kept going…

After several weeks of getting up early to attempt to meditate, I began to notice a change in my practice. The initial dread of failure began to temper.  Despite the constant questioning of whether the practice was helping, I found myself eagerly anticipating the experience each day. I began to look forward to sitting alone with myself, with my thoughts, still.

The more I practiced, the less I began to judge my process. My thoughts still flowed, but I stopped demanding that they go away.  I gave them permission to come in and out while I continued my practice of sitting still.  I began to notice at the end of each experience that I felt calm, clear and at peace.  Was it possible this was meditation after all?  Keep Reading...

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...

Why YOU Need a Date Day with Yourself

I was off. I knew I was off. I felt my inner exhaustion which only made me more frustrated. I didn’t have time to be off. As a professional counselor, my livelihood requires me to be on. But I wasn’t. I heard my inner self, my higher self, Lulu (yes, I’ve named her) say, “You can’t keep going. What are you going to do about it?”

 I’d overworked myself throughout the week and midway through really questioned who I thought I was. I was totally drained, angry, knowing it was my lesson and the only way to help myself was to step back and ask myself what I needed.  

“Honor where you are….” Lulu would say.

“But the laundry and dirt in the house doesn’t honor where I am,” I would retort.  Or the paperwork that was piling up that I kept ignoring.  And how about that need to spend quality time with my kids, despite finding myself repeatedly apologizing for being so cranky and unpleasant. It was time to surrender.

I made plans to walk with a friend on the day I had designated as my catch up day and figured that would be enough of a boost to keep going. It was a great start. Beautiful early morning, enlightening conversation…perfect. Afterwards, I told my friend I was going to take myself to breakfast and do some work there. Balance. Even better. Thanks for the idea Lulu.

As I sat in the café where I had spent many days beginning to create my business, bringing in very little income, generating ideas and writing, I felt nostalgic.  I remembered writing about my technique of taking the fear out to make major decisions and being proud of my work. I remembered the ongoing practice of employing faith into my everyday life as I rarely felt like I knew what I was doing. Instinctually I began to write about it, tears streaming down my face, in public…honoring where I was at.

At the end of the written page I realized why I was there. I was being reminded of the necessity of trusting in myself and how I felt. It was loud and clear, change was upon me again and my most valuable resource was following my own guidance. Got it Lulu. Thanks.  Now help me wipe away these tears before embarrassment kicks in. 

It was then I knew I had to spend the day with myself reconnecting. I felt neglected. I felt depleted. I needed some space to love and honor my valuable time. The most important work I had to do was with myself.

I drove off to my typical date day destination, a meditation bench that had special meaning for me. When I arrived I learned I’d have pay a fee to get in and I only planned to be there for 15 minutes. I quickly chose to turn around and recognized my need to change up my routine, to trust a new plan, to know I’d be okay. 

I let my heart be my guide, turning down streets I’d never been before, driving aimlessly, yet with clear direction.  I drove down windy roads sharing a lake view, up hills displaying hidden orchards, down dirt roads that promised quiet contemplation.  I text a friend telling her what an amazing day I was having and how I had no idea where I was but I was so happy with the freedom. I could not compare the feeling.  I just felt…bliss.

After steering my way back to a main road I had the vision of stopping at a winery. I wanted to do a wine tasting. I have no idea why. I was in yoga pants and a tee shirt, hardly dressed for this type of outing. Within three minutes one appeared on the side of the road.  Seriously??

Taking the sign I drove in, ecstatic at the find. I didn’t even know what town I was in. The first woman I made eye contact with when I walked in greeted me like she knew me, and I felt like I was supposed to be there.  After a brief conversation she realized she recognized me from my social media business page, AND her oldest friend was my friend I had JUST been texting.  We’d never met. Can the world be any smaller?

After a delightful stay and great conversation, she suggested I get lunch at another café down the road. Since I was on an adventure, I knew I had to trust the sign and go for it.  I took off, directions in hand, gleefully on my way for what was next. After driving for at least 20 minutes I questioned if I had gone the wrong way. The sign welcoming me to the next state suggested indeed I had.

I turned around and ventured back to my destination, learning I had gone in the entirely opposite direction. Typical flighty me not paying attention. I laughed at myself, enjoying my own silly mistake, although curious why Lulu felt I needed the extra mileage.

The café was quiet and the food was as delicious as promised. l began jotting down notes of my day, wondering why I ended up there.  Within 10 minutes, the small café was filled and I looked up from my table to see a friend who I met through my oldest friend.  We had lived in the same town 3,000 miles away at different times, but had always found the connection uncanny. She came over to say hello and comment on how she admired the work I was doing.  We were both 30 minutes from our homes, an unlikely destination to meet up. My heart elevated as I realized this encounter was why I was there.

Had I not taken the “wrong” turn, spent extra time enjoying myself in my day, I would not have seen her. The timing was perfect, yet again.  I did not go off course, I was exactly where I needed to be.

Driving home, I marveled at the experience that shifted my energy completely. I felt rejuvenated, inspired and filled with gratitude. 

When we are most connected to ourselves, we are also more likely to fully trust ourselves in the decisions we make, a necessity for even the most day to day living.  To understand and value ourselves is imperative for our emotional health and wellbeing. The key is to commit. Commit to being a priority in our own lives. Commit to respecting ourselves. Commit to being no less important than anyone else.

Reconnecting with ourselves is by far one of the most important and simple ways to bring us the balance we require to live a life full of contentment. We deserve to be taken care of just as much as anyone else. But only we can decide if we will or we won’t. Honoring where we are and giving ourselves the gift of time to care for ourselves not only nourishes our spirit, it enhances the lives of those around us.  

The ultimate win win.  Thanks again Lulu.

The Almighty Powerful Thought...and how to change it

My chatterbox mind was in full effect.  One thought racing to the next. Which thoughts would dominate was rarely in question.  They always come back to the “what ifs”, the “what’s nexts”, the “but how do you knows.”  They are the familiar trio which can overpower the calming thoughts swiftly and easily.  Most of the time, I don’t even know they’ve arrived until I start to feel my physical ease dwindle.

The morning walk I was on when I noticed them was no different than the day before.  Early morning sun, quiet and peaceful…until the thoughts nudged their way in. I was midway up a hill, pushing my body a little harder, when I heard another voice in my mind get louder, “Stop. We don’t want to do this right now. Let’s change this up and make it a gratitude walk. Focus on the good. Focus on now.”  Another voice chimed in, “Great idea. Let’s do it.” 

I instinctually looked up at the sky, beginning the chant of thanks.  I was grateful for the blue sky, the cool morning and bright glowing sun. I was thankful for the trees donning their green glory. I was thankful for my legs being strong enough to take me where I wanted to go and for the ability to even be out walking on such a lovely morning before my work day began.  I felt my mood instantly elevate, the chemistry in my brain shifting with my thoughts.  I kept going, listing small details, yet feeling a powerful sense of thanks for the beauty around me.  

I began to notice things I had not noticed before.  Details that had likely been the same for the past two years I’d been on this walk, but didn’t see.  I noticed how tall the trees were.  They looked down on me lovingly with their wisdom and whispered their secrets of balancing the seasons of change. They had been rained on, snowed on, pushed constantly by wind and lost their leaves every year, but yet they continue to grow. They had withstood extreme cold and heat, been damaged by storms, broke branches and lost limbs, while watching others be taken out to make room for new houses, yet they stood taller one year after the next.  They were strong and stable and made room for the new while the old fell away.  Looking at them, you would not know how they sustained the cycles, they looked as radiant as ever. 

As I marveled in the divine strength around me, I felt my eyes well up with tears of joy and appreciation.  The “what if’s” and “what’s nexts” were gone, replaced with the energy of gratitude and presence of my surroundings.  And all it took was a decision.  A change in thought. And follow through.

It didn’t take two months, or two days or even two hours to adjust my perspective. It took minutes. With a quick alteration in intention, the world around me seemed to change. But it didn’t. I changed. I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want to spin in anxiety and I didn’t have to. I made a choice. 

We do have the power to change our thoughts. We do have the ability to craft a life we desire. We do have the potential to have what our heart is telling us is rightfully ours.  We just have to listen, accept and follow through.  And we won’t do it perfectly every time because we are human, and that is okay.  It is part of the enriching experience of being authentic and whole, but it’s our experience to create as we wish. Choice and creation is the strongest birthright we are gifted. What’s next is up to us.

The 30 Days of Me

A few weeks ago I came to realize that I have been in survival mode for the past couple of years.  Maybe not full blown survival mode, but always plotting and planning for what’s next and constantly assessing myself for my emotional and mental balance, as well as my financial security. This would be the result of my making one major life decision after another, which my father has pointed out, people just don’t do for a reason.

But I did and they have been the best decisions for me.  Not easy ones, but the best for my growth and long term well-being. I’m still learning from them, but I am finally at a place where my life has something that resembles structure and a bit more security. I have been craving this security so I wanted to acknowledge that it had arrived.  The only problem, I don’t know what it feels like to be settled for longer than a few days.  The thought of settling myself felt unfamiliar and disjointed, but important to try.

So I started to make lists of what I needed to feel more balanced.  Most of it requires organizing and my busy little brain struggles with that one, but I’m working on it.  I also noticed I was beginning to feel even more off balanced when I was trying to balance myself. I know, not cool. 

After a couple weeks went by I noticed I was beginning to feel a real energetic slump.  I listened to myself encourage my clients to reconnect and learn how to support themselves and it all sounded wonderful. I had done all of this before.  I hit an emotional wall one day last week and begged the Universe for support.  And then it was so obvious I was almost a little embarrassed…it was time to take care of me. I had been feeling disconnected and lost which meant it was time to regroup and reconnect.  After all, I am the one I spend the most time with, I might as well enjoy my company.

I questioned how I would support myself and decided to write them all down. The ideas flooded out of my head. Along with activities came introspective questions that were begging to be addressed.  I needed time to do this, but time feels so limited these days. Yet in order to make this work for me I know I needed to commit.

And so the 30 days of Me was born.  I have been doing at least one thing each day that supports, empowers and helps me reconnect to myself and will do so for 30 consecutive days to create this behavioral habit. In order to fully commit to this process and create this program for myself (and in turn you) I am posting my daily questions and some of the activities I am doing on Facebook.  If you are ready to reconnect to yourself (and you are!) follow along and commit to making it happen. Commit to you!! It’s been a week and I am enjoying this process so much! 

Start by creating a list of 30 things you can do to support yourself.  My list is quite diverse including journaling, buying an outfit that empowers me, looking up inspirational quotes, reading the books I’ve been neglecting, watching a movie when I have other things to do, buying myself flowers, exercising, drinking tea in complete silence, making a list of my achievements, updating my business and personal goals, receiving an energy healing, getting a massage, connecting with my children…so many! 

I notice that it is when I need more time for myself that I typically blow off my self- care practices, which is why this is all so important. Sound familiar?

My list of 30 things I can do to support myself is growing rapidly. And I am finding the more I do for myself, the more I enjoy myself even more.

Isn’t it time for you to enjoy yourself? Obvi.

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.