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fear

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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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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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