Day 78: Cultivating Hope

It would be really easy to get carried away right now with the fear mongering surrounding the Coronavirus, especially where I am at which is the epicenter of the virus in the USA. People here are generally keeping their heads with the exception of sold out grocery stores.

I am usually oblivious to things like this. I am aware it’s a thing, but I don’t watch the news in any capacity. I chose, many years ago, to cut those things out of my life as I think they are hugely biased and based in fear. Fear is an amazing driver. If you get enough people confused and scared, they stop thinking rationally and start acting from instinct. Breakdown in communication and humanity start to happen. This is when powerful people and entities can come in and shift things to their agenda. Do I think that is what is happening with the Coronavirus? I have no idea.

I know there is a flu going around. I know it is most heavily effecting the older populations. I know that people are scared and going into survival mode. I know that now is the time that we need to keep our heads and cultivate hope.

This can seem an overwhelming task when the daily anxiety of the safety of friends and family is at stake, but it is crucial to getting through situations like this gracefully.

How does one cultivate hope??

It starts with a decision. Fear is a choice. As I always say, choose different. Once you shift from fear to findings all of the wonderful things about this life you will be amazed, but suddenly the news coming in won’t be so scary anymore. Your awareness will begin to shine on positives and I guarantee your mood will be elevated.

Start by looking at the evidence. Whether we are talking about a pandemic or an issue closer to home it’s crucial to remember that everything runs its course. We have seen this time and again through history. Humans are resilient as hell and will rise up above this.

When we are talking about things like hope within one’s life it’s the same concept. I know depression and apathy and fear can all seem like they will never end. Realizing that you’ve been through worse or a similar hardship and come out on the other side is sometimes all the evidence needed to derive comfort and tenacity needed to continue forward motion.

Another good way to cultivate hope is to keep an eye on the positives. Find all the shit you appreciate in your life and really FEEL the appreciation. It warms the heart and brings healing. Look to the future and picture all of the really cool stuff you are going to do and find the excitement in those things.

One of the hardest parts about a situation like coronavirus is to not let fear take hold. It’s so difficult to know where to turn for accuracy in reporting and the news and it’s super easy to let fear in. When I am feeling like that I like to take a minute and do a body scan and go through each system feeling how good or off it feels and then asking what can I do to make that system stronger. When there is a feeling of proactivity people can remain in themselves and it makes decreasing stress levels a little easier.

I come back to the teachings of my buddy Mike Kemski. Highest Energy Wins. If we choose to let fear be the highest energy pretty soon panic will ensue, but if we can shift that to something more useful… it’s a whole new world.

Keep your heads, people. We truly are all in this one together and losing touch with humanity will only breed chaos. Focus on the fact you get some time off of work, you get to spend some time with family and children. For me, it’s proving to be a mental reset.

Much love to you all, stay safe out there and wash your damn hands. ❤ ❤

Day 77: Accepting Feedback

I had an experience today with an instructor for my coaching program. It wasn’t a pleasant interaction but because she was of a “higher” status with respect to the situation that we were in, I let her feedback overwhelm me a little bit.

I recognize that I am in a stage of my own growth where I need some cheer leading from people. I need encouragement and I need to listen to those that I know truly have my back, and no one else. I am like a fledgling bird trying to figure out how to fly.

The situation this morning raised the volume on my inner critic. The one I have just recently begun to quiet. The dialogue was not pretty. It came in hard and fast and brutal. You aren’t meant to be a coach, you have nothing to offer.

All because she had given me some constructive criticism that was not delivered in a manner that was useful to what I needed at the time.

The really cool thing though is that I am able to recognize it isn’t what I needed.

I was also able to recognize where I needed to work on some boundaries and be firm in who I am. I took a look at that, who I am, and how I want to show up and sat with that for a bit.

I don’t even remember what she said that set me off. The words don’t even really matter.

I decided that her feedback wasn’t that useful to me because I do not want to show up for my clients like she shows up for hers. There is no anger in it, it is from a place of love and curiosity for who she is and the people that she treats.

It was a good reminder that people will give feedback and criticism based on their own experience. One piece of criticism can outweigh a hundred pieces of praise. Words from a complete stranger can cause internal questioning so deep it can ruin the day. But. We decide how much power we place on those words. We can decide if that feedback is from someone that we trust and admire who show up in a way that we want to emulate. If the answer is no then let the words go. Look for the other things that came from the interaction, the insights and strengths and focus on those.

What I did get from the experience was a lot of growth on my end. I was able to identify an area in my personality where if I do not figure out how to manage and shift it a little better it will end up being an energy drain for me and could negatively effect my clients. I was also able to sit in my own truth and decide what was useful for me and what wasn’t, something that I would not have been able to do a year ago. I was able to accept her world view and more importantly, mine, and make it okay to have had that experience. I was also able to quiet the inner critic and lovingly disagree and come up with all of the reasons that I do belong in the coaching industry.

These shifts are not small. They may seen common sense to some, but for me it is huge. I came from a place, just a year or so ago, where I was so confused about what was me, what was the outside world, where my voice was and if it was even okay to listen to it. This is still something that I sometimes need to decipher.

It is a reminder that transformation is possible. That once steps are taken there is no going back and that one only has to be brave enough to keep moving forward.

I am scared as hell to keep going. I have no idea what happiness or joy or living in those emotions feels like, but I am getting more glimpses every day. Sometimes I want to stop. To stay where I am at and accept that the changes I have made, which have improved my life a little bit, are enough because I have pulled myself out of the deepest depths of pain. I am still in the cave though, it’s still dark here and I am still walking blindly, but for the first time in my life there is a small circle of light starting to appear, a beacon that I can finally see as a guidepost.

If I can share nothing else of my journey it is this, to keep going. I say it as much for myself as anyone else reading it. Change is small at first, but mountains are built on grains of sand and right now I have gathered enough to see the foundation and there is nothing more motivating than that.

Keep going. You are more than enough and more than worthy to have everything you want in this life. And so am I. ❤ ❤

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Day 76: Rewriting Your Story

I used to think that life was just… how it was. I came from a shitty childhood, life was hard and that was just how it was going to be.

I would see these people and even come across some of them intimately, that just seemed to have it all together. Good things kept happening for them and well, they were just lucky.

I used to think that I was fated to what my life was, that some being bigger than myself had decided I should have a shitty life and that was that. That was the hand I was dealt. I used to really judge and quite frankly, kind of hate those people that just had it all together.

I used to attract people that felt the same and we would sit and lament about how shit our lives were.

My life hasn’t made a complete 180… yet. It has taken a lot of really conscious effort and a lot of self awareness but more and more these days I am feeling things shift. I am seeing progress and results in a way that is tangible and real. I am finding more and more people who are forward focused and I no longer attract the people willing or wanting to sit in shit. The friends I do have who are still here and were my bitching buddies are also working on bettering themselves so we are journeying together and that feels really good. And I am starting to attract some really awesome people in my life. People who have gone through the same darkness that I have and who have come out the other side and transformed their lives. These people serve as guides, mentors and valued friends. When I look around now I can see all of that. Even if I am having a down day, I can see the progress and I can find the good, the strengths, and I can make praise a mindful, daily practice.

Somewhere along the line I accepted that I am writing my story. My decisions have shaped my current reality and I am the only one who can change it. That is such an empowering thought.

Rewriting my story has been… by all accounts…. quite a long process. And I don’t really think there is ever a “being done” with it. I think that people who have been wired to live in fear and darkness find solace there and have to do a daily rewriting, sometimes a minute by minute one but my experience is teaching me that it can become faster and faster and the fear tamed quicker with each successive progression. And it really helps to have friends that can help you see blind spots and steer you towards a better outlook.

Today I see change. I see progress. I feel love and hope and joy. I know these emotions come and go and that darkness will come back to me, but I am not worried about that. I read something that was along the lives of “if you can pull your head from the future, and your heart from the past you will know how to live in the present” and that is what I am doing today. I am being present, enjoying the happiness and just being me. Rewritten. ❤ ❤

Day 75: Small Acts of Kindness

Sometimes the best thing to do when you are feeling a little out of sorts is to extend your hand to another.

I had a coaching call with a lady who told me something really simple and profound. I’ve heard it before but the way she told it to me, the energy behind it, shifted something in me. She told me I was enough. And that I was worthy.

She told me to write it on my bathroom mirror, so I did.

Then when I went to the coffee shop I put a post it with the sentiment in their bathroom mirror.

I did the same at the other public places I went today.

I have no clue if it effected anyone’s life, but it felt like sharing a little love to me. And it warmed my heart.

The best thing to do when you are feeling the darkness in your world is to remember you have a light and shining a little of it out through little acts of kindness may be just what you need to remember your purpose, amplify your light and be the change you seek. ❤ ❤

Image by Mr vo from Pixabay

Day 72: Self Awareness

Yesterday I wrote about holding space and I forgot to talk about the most important part, holding space for yourself.

There is great beauty in having someone in your life to do this for you. It is incredibly helpful. But the ability to hold space for yourself, to let your thoughts and emotions come without judging them, to accept that they are there and maybe they aren’t as nice as you’d like, is an act of self care that far outweighs any of the spa days and massages. It is truly an act of self compassion. When you sit with yourself, there are no barriers, no attempts to shield another person from the darkness or the light, it’s just you and in that way you can dig much deeper into yourself and your journey than you can with another person. This is not to say that personal growth should always be undertaken alone. We NEED other people to help us stay the course, to inspire us to keep going when the going gets tough, to cheer us on and call us out when we need it. Being able to do this for yourself….it’s not easy, but is one of the most rewarding things that a person can do.

When I started this blog I made a promise to myself that I would stay honest and authentic. So I’m going to dig into some dark stuff here. Maybe it will help someone, maybe it will help me to process.

I reached out to Mr. X this week. I don’t know how I feel about this actually. There is a small part of me that feels like I am failing womanhood by doing so, a much larger part of me just wants to hear some kindness and support from someone I love.

I am struggling really really hard to get through this situation with him. It’s all self induced really. The darker parts of me want him to know how much he has hurt me. The other part wants to shut completely off so no one can see that pain. There are parts of me that know some of the things he did and said weren’t really okay to me, but I let them go because I am really good empathizing with other people and accepting less than ideal behavior for fear of losing the relationship. When I try to talk stuff through with friends, even me just telling them I am going through a breakup of sorts (without all of the details), the automatic, immediate reaction from them is to tell me I need to cut off all contact. I need to go out and get wasted and numb the pain and move on with some other guy. They want to immediately demonize him and I don’t. Then, my friends start telling me things like I sound like a woman who is in love with an abuser. Some of the shit they come up with is absolutely ludicrous. I realize it is them dealing with their own pain and issues, so I don’t talk to them anymore about this. I am mostly alone processing. And this is where holding space and self awareness comes in.

The reasons I reached out aren’t totally conducive to my own self love but have helped me flush out some patterns that I realize now are from my childhood. One of the reasons I wanted to talk to him is because I love him, and I really miss him and I want a hug so god damn bad and to hear what is going on in his world. I know that those wants are lifting a scab that needs more time to heal, so maybe isn’t completely in our best interest. One of the other reasons is because there is a part of me that wants to string him up and use him as a punching bag, to dredge up all the shit he said that hurt me and launch into a verbal lashing that would make a sailor blush.

When this first came up there were so many emotions that came with it – righteousness, anger, pain, guilt, shame. I felt simultaneously that it was my place to want this and he should just take it, as well as feeling like a completely rubbish human being for even allowing that thought to cross my mind with reference to someone that I love. I have been judging that thought hard. I know where it comes from. I lived this experience my entire life. Every time anything was done to my mother to “hurt” her, even if it was a simple expression of self, she would lash out. I’m talking screaming and crying and trying to hit things. Feeling this, knowing this is in me and that I allowed it into a space where there once was so much love really weighed heavily on my heart. And then I realized, we haven’t talked yet. This is not the action that I have to choose. It is one option, but not the one I will feel the best about, and not one that supports me in being a better version of myself. So I stopped judging it, accepted it was there and allowed it to just be.

To set aside that anger almost feels like giving in. It feels like giving up on fighting for a relationship that I cherish so deeply. And this is where the internal battle ensues. I don’t know if it is this way for most people, but for me it is really intense. I have a massive amount of resistance to the thought of just letting go and accepting what has happened. Even though I know it will make me … and him feel better. And letting go would be an ultimate act of love, for both of us, but I’m just not there yet, and that’s okay too.

I was never one of those little girls that had BIG dreams. I never dreamed of being a vet actually. It was something that I thought would come naturally so I did it. I never dreamed of a wedding and kids or a big fancy house. My whole life, from as far back as I could remember, I have wanted one thing. One thing that lit me up, ignited my heart and kept me going in pursuit. I wanted to find an out of this world love connection with a man. That’s all. I have never settled for less and thus have been single pretty much my entire life. To find the feeling that I wanted in this amazing and beautiful human being who makes me heart light up, who induces butterflies in my chest, whose touch sends goosebumps down my body… and then to “lose” it…. feels …. empty and hollow and dreamless. I don’t know how else to describe it. When you have put all of your energy into searching for one thing and it doesn’t show up like you thought it would and you can’t actually access all of it, it’s a huge bitter pill to swallow.

So I find myself sifting through the ashes, wandering in the darkness, playing with all of the pieces and seeing what fits and what doesn’t and it is there I realize that my heart opened with him, so it is capable of opening, but that I need a lot. I need a lot of love. Not many people can provide that. And to expect that one person will be enough for all of that is too much for anyone to bear. It all comes back to me. Me being able to fill myself with love. Me seeing me for what I am and accepting it, embracing it and figuring out how to live in this world where I don’t feel like I have ever belonged. It is about finding a new dream so that there is some compulsion to stick around a while longer in this experience. I like puzzles so this is right up my alley. I have created my life as one 3-D, monochromatic, million piece puzzle to solve. And I am a hell of a creator.

As my mind wanders to all of the interactions we could possibly have, I know that the one thing I will not allow myself is to use him as a punching bag to sort through my own insecurities and fears. He deserves better than that and so do I.

Image by Mrdidg from Pixabay

One of the things that helps me with self awareness is clarifying my values. This is a new exercise for me so I am in the stage where it isn’t automatic quite yet. I struggle really really hard with is knowing what is MY voice. I understand Mr. X and how his brain and heart work so I can live in his perspective. I get where my friends are coming from, the ones who tell me to go out and party and just move on so I can live there too. Obviously, I can live in my own past which dictates situations like this call for a complete excision of the relationship from my life with never a look back. I am comfortable there too. Where I am not comfortable is the new paradigm of what I want to be, who I want to be, how I want to show up in the world. Since there are so many noises coming in I decided to make a values list to take all of the static out of the equation.

What are my top values? Authenticity, kindness and love. There are other ways I want to show up, but to simplify I am starting there.

Then I say okay, is getting pissed and verbally abusing someone you love in line with those values? No, obviously. Is it authentic? Yes, because that is what I feel, but it isn’t necessarily a truth. Is it kind? No, not at all. Is it born of love? No, it doesn’t express love for him, my words would not be born of love and it certainly won’t help me feel more love for myself. That is my voice. That is self- awareness.

Whenever someone says something to me with relation to this situation (and any others I am confused about) I run it through those filters, does that feel authentic to me, is it coming from a place of or expressing kindness and love? If yes then I may place it in my toolbox, if not I allow it to be there, know it is an expression of me and then let it be and give myself a huge proverbial pat on the back for winning another round, for feeding something better.

I also like to go back to what I wrote yesterday about people knowing what is best for them. I have to remind myself often of this. I know what is best for me. Not my friends, not Mr. X, me. Even if I choose a dark path, it is my choice. Doing something different for someone else will not create sustained change.

Some other self awarenesses that I am sitting with include: I am stubborn… like REALLY stubborn and I sometimes act out when I don’t get my way. The way I express my anger sometimes is very intense, with little to no space between my anger and lashing out. Sometimes when I am hurt I want other people to hurt too. I don’t trust words, only actions and it is still a really long road to gain my trust. In the wake of this situation I do not want to open my heart to anyone but me. Physical touch does not feel good to me with other people. I can walk away from most of the people in my life very VERY easily as I do not actually allow myself to connect with them. These are things that keep coming up, that I sit with, filter through and see how I can utilize them. Most of the time I just work on shifting perspectives to something more useful.

I am stubborn, but I am also very passionate about what I feel and when I come up against something that is a true “wrong” in this world I will fight for what is right. The intensity of my anger and fear and pain are the opposition to the intensity of my love which when opened and softened to people can create a space for a love that is huge and very filling and warm. I may want to hurt people when I am hurt, but I actively pursue other solutions. I still act in the kindest way that I can, and seek to see their perspective. My love is deep and not easily given and I have reasons not to trust people and that is okay, the ones who stick around for me earn my loyalty, respect and love. I am very very good at protecting myself and have created a space where I am safe. I don’t need to soften to everyone for them to receive some of the love I have to give, my body is my own and it does not need to be a tool for expression of love.

See, when I put it that way those traits are empowering and come from a place of alignment with my values.

Personal growth really is all about figuring out how you want to show up, becoming aware of existing thought patterns, finding different perspectives and interacting with them to build a new reality brick by brick. It isn’t a fast or fun process, but the new version brings with it a whole new life and a new playground to find your dreams, build your reality and flourish in the life you have been given. ❤ ❤

Top Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Day 59: A Prelude to Happiness

I think there is something that happens when you grow up in an environment where you are not loved in a way that you need to be loved. I think you don’t learn what love is supposed to be and when the only thing you know is fear and insecurity you adapt and figure out how to live there quite successfully. When you have adapted to any situation it starts to feel normal. Then, at some point in your 30s you realize you want to know what happiness feels like.

It seems like it should be an easy thing to do, find things that make you happy and then embrace it.

For me, that is not my experience. I could find things that made me happy for a split second, but it was as if there was something preventing that feeling from traveling to my heart. I knew I was happy in those moments but I didn’t FEEL happy.

Then I learned about love. I learned that love can be the most overwhelmingly beautiful experience and also one of the darkest parts of living. Love can heal and destroy. I thought true love would be this nirvana, and I still think it can be, but I think that real love comes in layers. Once there are enough layers of experience and disagreements and sticking around love settles in for the long haul. This to me is true love. Love that stays.

My love experience has been a rocky one the last few months. I have no clue where my future will end up, what man I will end up with, if I will even find a partner. But I do know that I am loved, very very deeply. When that love isn’t around I feel really sad.

I used to think that the depth of anguish I felt was in direct proportion to how much I loved someone. It turns out that depth of pain is really a reflection of how strong I am and how much I can handle. In an effort to feel something, sometimes I will amplify that pain to the point of near breaking. It expands that boundary of what I am capable of feeling. I am really well versed in expanding the pain and it is and has been, where I have lived for many many years.

This morning for a second I felt a glimmer of happiness in my heart and I immediately squashed it. Didn’t I remember I was supposed to be mourning the loss of Mr. X in my life (in the capacity I wanted him anyways)? The feeling came again for a second and again I thought, aren’t I supposed to be sad?

What is the prelude to happiness? For me, it was giving myself permission to feel happy.

I was driving down the road repeating to myself, “It’s okay to be happy. ” It is okay to be happy in the middle of sadness. That pain isn’t gone, it just released and moved around a little. It is okay to experience happiness even though your heart is breaking. It is okay to feel happiness during mourning.

After repeating these things a few times, the guilt started to dissipate. I remembered that another thing love is to me is wanting the person you love to be happy, whatever that looks like. In that moment I knew that Mr. X would be happy that I was happy. Happy that I was smiling in spite of the pain, happy that I was moving forward without him.

So I chose to smile, to sing a little in my car, to embrace the feeling and let it plant a seed in my heart. The next time it comes to bloom I will welcome it with arms open a little wider. ❤ ❤

Day 23: Embracing The Negatives

I know what you’re thinking… “girl, that’s supposed to say positives right?”

Nope. I got it right. Embracing the negatives. Sometimes there is a place for that, when the “negatives” can be used strategically to push forward. And right now, for me, that place is heart ache. ** Maybe I should change my language here. Negative has this connotation of being “bad” but for purposes of this article, a negative is just something that isn’t aligning with my desired outcome.**

We are taught that the only way to be happy is to focus on the positives! Let love in! Shun the bad! Nope…. nope, nope. Not for me. There is a reason the “negatives” exist. They provide contrast and are tools in themselves. They are powerful guides and shouldn’t be ignored. It is all a matter of how those tools are used as to whether they can be constructive or destructive.

The sticky thing about grief is that it comes in waves. One day I can be rocking, creating my own sunshine, the next I can be sobbing on the floor. This is when you can embrace the negatives and use them to slingshot you forward.

Getting over the life you saw yourself having with someone is hard. Sometimes you do have to embrace the negatives, put the positives in a box, and even though it’s a much bigger box than the negatives, you have to shove it aside for a moment.

Sometimes all I can do to keep moving is replay all of the things that were said that are the evidence for why we won’t be together. “Maybe we aren’t good for each other.” “Our season is over.” “We do better at a distance.” All of those little knife wounds are actually my friend. My way to move on from the one person who has asked me to do so, who has needed space every time we see each other. The one person that feels like home. The one person my heart practically bleeds for. The way to successfully do this is to not make it personal, because it isn’t. All of those things are a reflection of situational issues, not a reflection of me as a person. And they are all in fact, correct and honest and vulnerable. And even in that I find more love for the keeper of those words. See… herein lies the problem. I understand so completely where this man is coming from and I love him so much that I find appreciation for the things he says… even when it cuts me to the core.

The “negatives” are an exceedingly skewed perspective of a really beautiful relationship (and they aren’t negative or bad, they are just honest and authentic – it is my perception of them that labels them as negative). It is a perspective that I know will cause its own hurt as these words are devoured by the other player. But the negatives function as evidence. It’s building a case. It’s ushering my heart to a place where it can open the door for something else. Because if I focus on the positives, the “you’re beautifuls” and the “I love you’s” right now, it lets my heart take the wheel. It’s lets in hope. It lets in a love that cannot be tamed. It lets my imagination run wild. For each brick of a boundary laid I am there on the other side pulling it back down. I am there telling myself we just need more time, he needs more time. I require a massive amount of energy to move, to shift… my heart has a huge capacity and can handle a ton of shit. Filling it with these things pushes out some of the romantic tendencies and allows room for the new landscape. Friendship. In displacing the romantic and allowing friendship to enter instead, that positives box can be cracked once again and those beautiful words can be taken back into the heart under a different lens. I am loved, I am beautiful, I am capable, I am cared for, I am safe. In any relationship it’s all a matter of adjusting expectations and wants and aligning goals.

This can be done gently and lovingly and in honor of both parties and that is what I am choosing today. I have no anger or resentment towards Mr. X and maybe I am right, we do need more time. In this moment though, we aren’t meant to be and I have to focus on that right now so that I can stop the loop of what ifs that I am trying to use to define our future. Stopping this cycles allows me to appreciate the present moment and the relationship that we do have.

So yes. Sometimes focusing on the negatives is all the self care I can muster for one day. Because all I really need to do is keeping taking one step at a time. ❤ ❤

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay