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self-care

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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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Tired of People Pleasing? Tips to Change It Up

“What do you want to do?” you question regularly.

“I’ll wait till everyone else has gone first.” you’ve said.

“Let me know what everyone decides and I’ll follow.” is your consistent response in the group text.

Do you have an opinion? Yes. Do you have a preference? Sometimes. But perhaps you’re so used to letting everyone else decide for you so you know they will be happy and you will suck it up like you always do.

After all, you are a master sucker upper. You could even list it as a skill on your resume.

Ahhh the life of a “people pleaser.” I know it well. As a recovering “people pleaser” I’m well versed in the signs and symptoms when I see them.

The truth is, you do have an opinion and you don’t always want to say yes when people ask you to help them out. You also don’t want go to the places that “everyone” says are a must, but you feel compelled to follow the pack in that oh so small FOMO….Fear of Missing Out…or worse…FOR…Fear of Rejection (yes, I just made it up).

But it’s true. You know it. All the people pleasers know it.

And since you say yes oh so often, you also feel that familiar pang of ongoing resentment. The one that you feel when you say yes, just to make someone else happy. You know that “yes” that you regret only moments later and resent them for even asking. Because really, don’t they know you don’t want to despite the fact that you always say yes??

Ummm…no. No they do not.

They do not because you haven’t told them. They do not because they are trusting that you will be open and honest with them regarding how you really feel. They do not because you’ve been hiding your true feelings in hopes that they will like you and accept you and think you are wonderful. And you are! You are wonderful! Even if you said no…

So how do you stop the madness? And the accompanying resentment…which is mostly towards yourself for not speaking up.

By practicing saying how you really feel. By checking in with yourself before you answer and asking if you are saying yes that you really want to. By trusting that you are worthy and good enough that people like you for who you are and not what you can offer them. By accepting that even if someone is disappointed in your decision and ability to take care of yourself, that it is not going to ruin you and leave you loveless. 

On the contrary, the more you speak how you feel, the more people will trust and respect you.

The more you share your true feelings in a respectful way, the more people will be drawn to your honesty and value what you bring to the table. They will know what to expect from you and that creates a safety people like. And the more you allow others to see the real you, the more likeable you will be. You don’t have to win anyone over to be good enough. You already are.  Keep Reading...

 

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Just Say "Thank You"

There you are, standing in line at the store, head down playing with your phone searching for something to distract your attention while you wait and you hear a voice behind you say, “I love your shoes. You look really great!”

You look up, wondering if the words are meant for you, and by the piercing look on the stranger’s face, it is clear that they are.

Immediately, you search for a response to deflect the outward sign of approval.  “Oh I got these on sale down the road at Lucky’s. They are comfortable though.” Your head goes back down, slightly awkward, not knowing what to do with the attention, you return to business as usual, pleased with the compliment, but not knowing what to do with it.

As you stare at your phone, you receive a text from a friend who knows you’ve been having a rough couple of weeks.  “I’m going to pick up dinner and drop it off for you tonight so you can just relax. What are you in the mood for?” it reads.  You are thrilled at the prospect of not having to cook and the idea of a responsibility free evening is wonderful. You know you need a break.

“Thank you for offering, but I’m all set. I have food that needs to be cooked before it goes bad,” you immediately respond. As much as you would love to be taken care of, you don’t want to put anyone out and feel like a burden.

Sound familiar? 

You know that feeling you get when you give someone a gift that they adore and you can feel their genuine gratitude?  Feels good, right? Or when you know someone you love is struggling and you are able to do little tasks for them to take the edge off their discomfort? Or when you listen to a friend pour their heart out and feel the relief of knowing someone cares? You feel useful and gratified that your support made their life a little easier, a little brighter, even if only for a brief moment.  It’s a wonderful feeling, allowing us to feel like we’ve made a difference. The ability to help others is a reward in itself!

When you do not allow someone to do the same for you, you are taking away their ability to feel this bliss. You are letting your feelings of unworthiness reinforce their feeling of lack.  In truth, it’s very poor manners. They have offered you a gift and you’ve essentially taken it out of their hands, crumpled up the bow and thrown it on the floor.  Their opportunity to feel good helping someone else has been robbed. Ouch....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 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.