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Leaning Into Trust & Presence

Chasing Hurricane Dorian

Trusting in a higher power and master plan can be challenging. It’s easy to get caught up in our fears of the future and believe we’re in danger, especially with all the fear-based messages that surround us on social, in the media and in conversations.

The antidote to fear is presence and faith. I recently had an opportunity to test them both.

When news broke about Hurricane Dorian tracking toward southern Florida, my husband and I had a decision to make. Keep our vacation plans to visit Florida and N. Carolina or find another destination. The night before our flight to Miami, we watched the news reporting that Dorian’s estimated path would head straight for us. Dorian was increasing in destructive power and slowing down speed for maximum damage.

Yet, we each had a knowing calmness about us. In my body, I felt continuing as we’d planned was the right decision. In my mind, I second-guessed myself, “Am I naïve or just plain crazy?”

We made a deal, we would go and stay present and mindful. We would adjust as circumstances unfolded because the reality was that it was too soon to know anything for certain. Hurricanes are unpredictable.

We hatched a couple backup plans. We could head west to Naples, where his aunt has a vacation condo. We could take our rental car up to N. Carolina, where we had already intended to spend the second half of our trip. Or we could find another hotel further into Miami and wait it out. That’s it, we didn’t need more scenarios than that otherwise our minds would control all our time.

During our layover in Houston, we listened to the conversations of passengers on our flight. We seemed to be the only non-residents. Folks were heading home to board up and then evacuate their families.

“The hotel would tell us if they were closed, right?” I half joked with my husband.

Once we arrived in South Beach, the streets were eerily empty for a Labor Day weekend. We still had three days before Dorian was projected to arrive. There was no sense in ruining the short time we had by worrying about something that wasn’t present, out of our control and still so unpredictable.

Therefore, we made the most out of it by visiting all the spots we had picked out such as Wynwood’s street art, the Bayside Marketplace, and Little Havana. When NOAA gave its updates every three hours, we tuned in. Otherwise, we simply enjoyed the activities without the crowds.

On our last full day, Dorian was tracking farther north and Miami looked to be out of the cone. We headed to the Everglades for an airboat ride to see alligators. The state mandated closure at 1 p.m. and we arrived just in time to board the last boat out.

The farther north Dorian moved, the more comfortable we felt about continuing on to Key West, where we originally intended to spend another three days. However, now the concern became that Dorian’s eye would hit landfall in the U.S. in Wilmington, N. Carolina. We had a flight there on Wednesday evening and Dorian was estimated to arrive late Thursday through Friday.

Again, it was too soon to call anything for sure. So we drove to Key West and enjoyed a wonderful time exploring the beaches, shops and sites. We appreciated a few days of rain and few tourists. The result was gorgeous sunsets and the ability to visit the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S. without any competition for parking or photo opportunities. (I’m told this is extremely rare.)

Leaving the Keys, my husband’s friend, Chris, called us from Wilmington.

“Are you sure you still want to visit?” Chris asked. “Dorian will be a category 3 and we may be without power and water for days. Plus with flooding, you may not be able to get out of town to fly home.”

My husband and I considered his concerns. I tested my body compass and it told me we should go.

Chris met us at baggage claim with a sign that read “Storm Chasers.” The airport closed two hours later. We were one of the last flights in. Still, I felt calm about it.

Over the next two days, we had a glorious time playing board games, eating “hurricane food” (ie: chips, dips, and other junk food), and listening to the howl of the wind and pounding of rain and thunder. As Dorian neared, it dropped to a category 2 and by the time it arrived in Wilmington, it was a category 1.

The morning after the storm, the weather was spectacular. We went to the beach, where I learned a locals’ contact sport called Sea-Shelling. I joke, but it is some serious business out there vying for the best shells that wash up after a storm. The beach was bustling with folks collecting giant whelk and conch shells, of which we gathered a few to bring home.

It was a beautiful trip that could have gone quite differently if we’d let fear rule our minds. If we lived in fear the full twelve days, we wouldn’t have enjoyed ourselves the way we did. Instead, we chose to lean into the present moment and trust that everything is as it’s intended. The result was having an absolute blast. And we were always perfectly safe.

We do ourselves more harm in fearing the worst than the worst could ever actually do to us. If you find yourself fearing something, I invite you to get still and ask yourself: “Right now, in this exact moment, am I safe?”

If the answer is yes, breathe into that.

Right now is the only time that exists. Everything else is manufactured in our minds.

In the words of Yogi Amrit Desai, “Exist in perpetual creative response to whatever is present.”

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Breaking Down People-Pleasing Tendencies

Elephant ripping down tree

We all have a desire to be liked and approved of by others. It’s built into our psyche. We’re social creatures by nature. We all want to belong to a community. Psychologists refer to this as our Social Self, the part of us that learns how to behave a certain way for acceptance and love.  It’s our tendency to conform and please rather than stand out or disagree.

This belonging is wonderful if the community and its values align with our essential nature. However, if we pretend our way in, it creates dissonance and internal strife.

Martha Beck says, “We go blind to our deepest selves to fit in with other people.”

On the enneagram test, I’m an Achiever. That means, on the positive end of the scale, I get shit done before deadlines and exceed expectations. On the negative end of the scale, I have a tendency to lose myself, and my own inner guidance, in the desire to please others, especially authority figures.

There’s even a mantra for Achievers to help them maintain balance: “I am loved for myself.”

As an Achiever, I excelled in my corporate career. My urge to people-please often overwrote my inner guidance system. As such, I was a good worker bee that always received high marks and consistent raises. Physically, though, I suffered from frequent migraines, colds and lower back issues. I later learned through Mind-Body Connection that these were psychosomatic symptoms resulting from not having my own back, not being my own person, not speaking my mind, and avoiding standing out from the crowd.

As a coach, I’ve found so much freedom in embracing my authentic self. I’ve enjoyed the process of reintroducing myself to my Self. Part of me had to relearn what was genuinely me versus the “programmed” me.

Recently I’ve had some corporate speakership opportunities arise. Excited to blend both of my roles together, my business-side and my coaching-side, I dove in with exuberance. One company in particular was interested in an inspiring speech to motivate their team to operate at their fullest. Right up my alley with how I coach my executive clients.

My first attempt was in my wheelhouse of pushing your edges, testing your limits and getting comfortable with uncomfortable in order to achieve amazing.

And it went over like a ton of bricks. They said it was off the mark, condescending, pedantic and cliché. A week or so later, they informed me that they wanted to shop other candidates.

This immediately sent me squarely back into my old people-pleasing role. I panicked. I lost faith in myself. I reverted to my old habit of looking for them to tell me what they wanted me to be so that I could be that.

I requested a second chance, and they suggested I focus on sports analogies. So I chose some that spoke to people’s inner fire and passion for their sport and how that fueled their mastery. To be clear, sports aren’t my forte. Frankly, I’m bored watching sports. But I can resonate with people who love what they do because I also have an insatiable appetite for learning about healing and spiritual growth.

Within five minutes of presenting this alternate angle, I was told it was still off the mark. They reiterated what they saw as my failings from the first pitch and expressed they had hoped that I’d have something more inspirational. They wanted real sports…team sports…and proceeded to outline my speech for me, including audience engagement.

This completely deflated my balloon. I spent the rest of the meeting nodding and pretending I was on-board with their suggestions. I didn’t push back; I didn’t speak my mind — out of fear of rejection. Afterward, I was told that my reaction only confirmed they didn’t think I had the chops for public speaking or writing inspirational speeches.

This irony is best summed up by another Martha Beck quote: “We lie our way through our lives to get people to like us, and then we find out they didn’t like us because we were lying.”

Over the next few days, I self-coached and received coaching to dissolve many limiting beliefs. And despite my instinct to fall back into my role of people-pleasing puppet, I reconnected with my integrity and original medicine to create the presentation I would have pitched the first time if I’d had more solid faith in me, my worth and my coaching niche.

And I fell in love with it. This new speech features lessons animals teach us about working together, trusting each other, everyone playing an integral role, knocking down whatever obstacle stands in your way, resilience, and strength in numbers. It completely aligns with my purpose and my own special sauce.

At this point, I have no idea if they’ll like it. And it’s completely ok if they don’t because this whole process taught me a valuable lesson about owning my gifts and my personal brand. I know I’m not for everyone. That’s a beautiful, wonderful thing.

In the words of the highly successful and inspirational Susan Hyatt, “Boldly be not for everyone.”

My people already get me and love me for the real me. My personal stories, journey and metaphors will resonate with folks because I’m in my integrity and not trying to copy others. If some people aren’t ready for that yet and find it too “fluffy, soft, tree-hugging, etc.” then I can accept that they are on their own path and it doesn’t have to be mine.

If you’re struggling with your own people-pleasing tendencies and want to break free of those puppet strings to reconnect with your authentic self, I can help!

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Reflecting on my 20 Year Grief Journey

Steps Forward in Sand

There’s something about turning forty that causes reflection. Not only is it a significant life milestone, it also marks a new threshold of spiritual maturity. In December, I will have lived as many years without my mom as I had with her alive. There’s a balance in that, and a peaceful strength.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my grief journey. The first ten years after her death, I spent in a victim-state of self-loathing, shame and guilt. The most recent ten years have been spent finding my way back to myself. I have healed in layers and compassionately addressed the pockets of pain as they bubbled up.

Healing grief doesn’t happen all at once. It’s complicated, messy, and tangled with a whole bunch of other facets of your own history mixed with others. And it’s absolutely beautiful when the light enters and dissolves the pain.

If it weren’t for my grief journey, I wouldn’t have had a need or desire to pursue the various healing modalities that have led to my spiritual insights and growth. I’m completely fascinated with learning about our mental, physical and spiritual interconnections. Each time I’m exposed to a new piece of information or tool, I’m enthralled.

I love sharing them with others, too. Coaching my clients brings me so much joy. Witnessing their breakthroughs and dissolving of long-held pain fills me with immense gratitude and purpose. Plus, I’m elated when I get an opportunity to discuss other people’s journeys and what helped them overcome their challenges because it adds to my knowledge and pursuit of new skills.

I still have so much to learn and knowing that more delicious experiences are coming excites me, as well.

In this way, I’m grateful for those ten years of excruciating pain. Maybe I would have found my way here anyway, and maybe I wouldn’t have. I do know that without the experience of the low, I couldn’t have a benchmark to experience the height of the highs. Nor would I be able to help others through their grief journeys.

This is the impetus for the Bali Healing Retreat I’m cohosting in November. It’s an anniversary to honor my grief journey by shepherding others through theirs. I’m so grateful that my coaching colleagues want to support me, and others on this path, in this way. They’re willingness to bring their special gifts to compliment mine and create a well rounded and wholly healing experience is so beautiful. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better combination to do the deep and beautiful work necessary.

If you are ready to turn your grief into spiritual fuel and unite pieces of your soul, consider joining us. I would be honored to hold that safe and sacred space for you. Find out more info here!

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5 Tactics to Fall (Back) Asleep

Lion Resting

Most of my adult life I had trouble sleeping as the result of an inability to turn my analytical, stressed-out mind off. As a planner by nature, my brain was consumed by “remember to do this” and “I still need to figure this part out.” If personal or professional relationships were rough, it would spin on what went wrong and envision various future scenarios where “I’d show them.” All of it added up to frequent staring at the ceiling or lucid dreaming about what I’d be doing the following day or week. Any of this sound familiar?

Unless you have a physical condition that inhibits breathing, most insomniacs suffer from high levels of stress and anxiety. So simply finding tools to relieve that in your waking day will improve your sleep. It wasn’t until I learned coaching tools to alleviate my stress that I naturally slept better. Before then, I used the following five tactics.

5 On-the-Spot Tips for 3 a.m. Tossing:

  • Keep a notepad and pen by your bed. If you’re awake anyway, might as well get what is in your head out on paper. There are a few ways to do this. The first is to divide the paper in half and make a list on the left of the things in your control, and a list on the right of things outside of your control. Dump everything you’re thinking about into these two categories. For those on the left, star anything that you can fix right in that very moment at 3 a.m. (My hunch is, each one can wait until the morning…and it’s just giving your mind space to critically consider and recognize this.) For those on the right, write somewhere near them: “I accept the reality that I have no control over these no matter how much I want to.” No amount of thinking and over-analyzing is going to change that.
    The second option is to journal it. The act of pulling the jumbled yarn of story out of your head onto a piece of paper gives it somewhere else to live. Once it’s out, you can always come back to it in the morning and address it. If, and only if, you still want to by then.
  • Redirect your brain to what is going right. Forget counting sheep, start counting on your fingers everything that is working in your favor. Make this list exhaustive. Put everything on this list from you brushed your teeth to managed to find your way back home from work and kept your kids or pets alive. No matter how trivial it may seem, count it. You’re shifting from a lack to a sufficiency mindset, which calms your system down and grounds you. If you’re like me, you’ll fall asleep mid-count. I’ll often wake up in the morning still holding a finger.
  • Use essential oils. I personally recommend Young Living products Tranquility, Stress Away and Dream Catcher. (I’m also a YL distributor, so I’m biased in their favor…and recommend that you find a brand you like with blends that include Lavender, Vetiver, Clary Sage, and Roman Chamomile.)
  • Put in some ear buds and listen to calming sounds like rain, crickets or ocean waves. There are plenty of audio recordings available online and through audio apps, including on Insight Timer. I set it for 30 minutes on ocean waves and am usually back asleep before it ends.
  • Cool down your bedroom. Keeping your bedroom cool naturally reinforces your body’s instinct to sleep and mimics what our bodies do to prepare for sleep. Room temperatures ranging from 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit stimulate the production of melatonin, known to encourage sleep. Studies have also shown that people who have insomnia also tend to have a warmer core body temperature, so they need a colder room to counter-act this enough to signal the body it’s time for bed.

Combining all five of these tactics can help you not only get more sleep, but also a higher quality of rest and rejuvenation. This helps alleviate stress, which then helps you sleep better, and thereby self-perpetuates. Test these out and see what works best for you.

Sweet dreams!

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5 Simple Steps to Stay in Your own Business

Bird Sticking his Nose in the Earth

I don’t know what it is about the human condition that makes us love to be in everyone else’s business. It’s a tempting and addictive pastime. Walk into any family dinner or social gathering and I guarantee at least one conversation involving the words “should” or “shouldn’t” as it pertains to someone else.

Whether it’s judging relationship dynamics, parenting styles, outfits/hair, careers, activities of choice, or social media updates, it’s so much easier to be up in others’ business than to fix what is buggin’ in our own.

I am not immune to mentally running other people’s lives on their behalf, either. I catch myself all the time in my personal life. (So as to not confuse personal with my professional, life coaching is not about giving other people advice; it’s about helping them find their own answers and remaining completely neutral and unattached to the outcome. It’s a judgment free zone.)

When my judgy-meter is dinging, it’s always my signal to pull out a Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet and do The Work. Why? Because my judgment and “should”-ing means I’m avoiding dealing with my own junk.

So if you find yourself telling other people (either in your head or out loud) how they should be handling or doing anything, I invite you to follow these 5 simple steps:

  1. Ask yourself: Whose business am I in? My business, their business, or God’s business. (Hint: If you want someone else to be doing something different than they are, that’s their business — even if it affects you, it’s still their business. If you want circumstances out of anyone’s control to be different than they are, that’s God’s business.)
  2. Pull out a Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet. I’ve provided a link so you can download one directly from Byron Katie’s website.
  3. Find the statement on that sheet that gets you the most riled up.
  4. Simplify it to the best of your ability. Think concise. (Example: John should be more responsible.)
  5. Self-facilitate or find an objective third party to walk you through The Work. I’ve provided a link so you can download this One Belief worksheet directly as well.

You know what? Inevitably by the end of this process, I couldn’t care less about the other person’s business I was in. Phew! What a relief! I have my hands full with running my own life, why would I want to be responsible for everyone else’s too? That’s just exhausting.

Let me know what you think of this process in the comments below! Or, if you have questions about it, feel free to ask and I’ll get back to you.

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Top 10 Limiting Beliefs About a Loved One’s Death

Bali Healing Retreat

I was reading an article about Bronnie Ware, a former caregiver for those who were dying, and a blog she wrote entitled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” It caused me to think about the regrets of the bereaved as well. As someone who had caused my own suffering for many years after my mom’s suicide, I reflected on the stories I told myself. (My hunch is that these may resonate with you, too.)

Before we dive into the stories, though, I want to talk to you about clean pain and dirty pain. Clean pain is just that. Pure, flowing energy. Loss of a loved one is clean pain. Clean pain is part of life and part of our human experience. Clean pain needs to be felt and processed in the waves that ebb and flow.

Dirty pain are the stories we tell ourselves about that clean pain. Dirty pain can keep us stuck in a cycle of suffering. Limiting Beliefs are dirty pain.

Top 10 Limiting Beliefs About a Loved One’s Death:

  1. The more I suffer, the more I prove my love.
  2. I should have (actions not taken before their death).
  3. I’m a bad person if I don’t think about (loved one) all the time.
  4. I’m a bad person if I move on.
  5. I should have been a better (role in that relationship).
  6. I shouldn’t dishonor the memory of (loved one) by talking or thinking about their shortcomings.
  7. (Loved one) should be here right now.
  8. If only (different circumstance), they’d still be alive.
  9. I can’t live without (loved one).
  10. I shouldn’t be happy without (loved one).

Any of these sound familiar?

When I believed the above, I suffered deeply. Slowly over time, with grace and professional help, I released these painful thoughts and replaced them with truths.

I realized that everything always happens exactly as it should because that’s reality. There is a greater plan at work and I can’t possibly know the reasons why in my limited capacity as a human. I am not God, and to think I know best is all ego (and a lie).

My mother shouldn’t be here now because she isn’t. I can live (and have lived, obviously) without her.

My mother would never have wanted me to suffer as I did. She loved me and always wanted me to live a happy, loving and fulfilled life. The more I live my best life, the more I honor her. The more I let go and move on, the more I am able to achieve what she tried and failed to do.

If you’re ready to release any and all of the above limiting beliefs, consider joining me and four other master coaches at our Bali Healing Retreat. We’ll dedicate a good portion of our four days together on addressing these beliefs and others. You’ll open up some space in your heart and mind again for forgiveness and self-love.

There’s peace and joy on the other side; I’ve felt it. We all deserve to be happy and live a fulfilled life. It’s time to allow yourself that.

If you’re ready to drop your baggage around loss and grief, join us November 26 to December 1, 2019. Our early bird special pricing ends soon, and we only have limited spaces available, so act quickly! (Plus flights right now are at some of their lowest pricing.)

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Questioning Unquestioned Beliefs

Rainy Sunrise

This morning while walking my dog, it started to rain. This is unusual for late July. I took the opportunity to feel into it with all my senses. The smell of wet pavement and moist dirt. The feel of warm raindrops on my arms and face. The sound of the rain hitting leaves, skin and our path. I watched as the dark spots started blending together until everything was covered in a sheath of water. It was beautiful.

Any time it rains, I’m reminded of my high school swim team and one of the first times I questioned my previously unquestioned assumptions.

It was my sophomore year and we had practice two hours a day, every weekday during the season. Partway through one particular practice, it started to rain during timed laps. When I reached one side of the pool, I pulled myself out.

Coach said, “What are you doing?”

“It’s raining,” I replied.

“What, are you afraid you’re going to get wet?” he said.

This took me by surprise, especially since I stood there dripping pool water from my body as it mixed with the raindrops on the cement.

“It’s dangerous to swim while it’s raining,” I said, remembering all the times as a child that my mother would frantically yell at us to get out of the pool if rain started to fall.

“How do you figure that?” he asked.

I thought back to the fear behind my mother’s warning. She envisioned lightning striking the pool and electrocuting us.

“Lightning,” I said.

He looked up at the grey sky.

“Do you hear thunder?” he asked. “See any signs of lightning?”

“Well, no,” I said.

“Then get back in the pool,” he said. “If I think it might start thundering and lightning, I’ll end practice.”

I had never before questioned my behavior resulting from the combination of rain and swimming.

How many other areas of life do we take the fears of our parents and absorb them as our own? How often do we assume belief structures without ever questioning them? What actions do we take automatically without ever understanding why?

I know I still have a ton of unquestioned beliefs about money, relationships, career, gender roles and expectations (even as a feminist); the list goes on. I picked them up from culture, my parents, friends, community, etc. without even thinking about it.

I invite you to also question your own beliefs; especially the ones you’ve held since childhood and sound a lot like a parent’s voice in your mind. No harm can come from inquiry. It’s simply becoming curious about them.

Ask yourself: Is it true? Can I know for absolute certain that it is true?*

Then become curious about yourself and your behavior when you believe it. What do you do? How do you treat others? What are the resulting emotions? What happens because of this belief?

And then become curious about how you might react if you didn’t believe it. Would your behavior or emotions be the same or different? If different, how so?

Notice what changes, if anything. You might surprise yourself at what comes up.

If the original belief doesn’t serve you, try on alternate beliefs to see how those feel. Test out the opposite belief and see if you can find proof to support that the opposite could be true. Try on variations of it to see what feels most true – when YOU can decide your own truth rather than adopting others’ beliefs.

Let me know what comes up in the comments below! (And if you’d like a formal facilitation of this process, I’m also happy to schedule a coaching call to walk through it.)

 

*This process above is based on Byron Katie’s The Work.

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How to Forgive Yourself & Others

Bridge to Forgiveness

Forgiving others and ourselves just might be the hardest – and most necessary – gifts to give.

Why is forgiveness important?

When we hold grudges and judgments, it acts like a cancer in our body. It gnaws away at our happiness and holds us back from feeling completely fulfilled. When memories are triggered about someone we resent, it can often send our minds into a tizzy of rehashing the same painful moment over and over again.

If we push it off or shove it down, it inevitably resurfaces. In the wise words of Carl Jung, “What we resist, persists.”

The unhappiest people I know are those that harbor a lot of anger and resentment of others. They’re also the most prone to illness and chronic health conditions. Science today recognizes our mental and emotional states directly affect our physical health.

Who wants to live like that? (Surprisingly, a lot of us. Just look at the news. It’s filled with angry, judgmental people pointing fingers.)

I know from my own personal experience, bitterness and joy do not coexist easily together.

My mother and I had a challenging relationship. She was clinically depressed and when she put pressure on me to play the role of mother in our relationship, I resentfully obliged as the “good daughter.” Later, when she committed suicide, I didn’t want to forgive her for it. I also blamed myself for her death. (Double whammy.)

In my mind, I needed to pay a penance. I felt I deserved to suffer. And suffer I did.

I became involved in unhealthy relationships with men I knew weren’t good for me. Even going so far as to sabotage the beginnings of relationships with good men that would have allowed me to feel the love I was denying myself. At a subconscious level, I think I invited in suffering and pushed away anything that resembled joy.

Of course this all self-perpetuated because the more pain that I endured, the more resentment and anger I grasped onto. The angrier I was at myself for creating and allowing it, the more I invited it in.

It wasn’t until I could accept both her actions and mine, find compassion for each of us, was I then able to forgive. And friends, that is such a precious gift. I only wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out. Therefore, I’m passing my process along to you:

Four (not-so-simple) Steps for Forgiveness:

  1. Acceptance. The first step is to accept that shitty things happen. (Until they don’t.) We don’t have to like it, we don’t have to approve of it, and we don’t have to condone it. We merely have to accept that reality is as it is. We cannot change anyone or anything that’s already happened. Nor do we have to know why it did.
    A wonderful tool for finding acceptance is The Work™ by Byron Katie.
  2. Compassion. Once we accept reality, then we can look for compassion. We try to see from their perspective and try to understand their circumstances. Sometimes shit rolls down hill and folks do the best they can with the manure they’re given. We can’t possibly know all the information that led to the action in question. It’s most likely rooted in their own pain and suffering.

    If you’re looking for compassion toward yourself, it’s helpful to realize and accept that we all make mistakes. It’s part of the human experience. “Do your best until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

  3. Is there a reason to keep it? Ask yourself if there’s a stress-free or pain-free reason to keep your grudge. If you can come up with one, ask yourself if that truly is stress or pain-free.
  4. Forgiveness. Offering forgiveness doesn’t mean we are agreeing to more of what happened. It’s simply allowing ourselves to release the anger and resentment that doesn’t serve us, nor change what’s happened. It’s saying to yourself that you’re willing to let the past stay in the past, so that you can move forward into a happier and lighter future. It’s no longer looking for payback or penance.

    Write out, “I forgive (name) for (cause of pain).” Another helpful tool is to add, “I forgive (name) for not being who I wanted them to be.”

If you’ve done the first three steps and the last isn’t coming easily, my hunch is there’s more work to be done in the first two steps. That’s ok. Some pain takes longer to let go, especially if we’ve been holding it for a long time. It might feel foreign without it and that is sometimes uncomfortable territory.

Keep trying. Keep going back through the steps. Eventually you’ll be ready to release it. When you are, the joy that fills in the cracks feels oh-so-delicious!

****

If you’re ready to find forgiveness around a huge loss in your life, I invite you to join me and four other Master Coaches at our Bali Healing Retreat from November 26 to December 1, 2019. We’ll be focusing on healing our grief around loss, and forgiveness is a big component of that.

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It’s Okay to be sad Sometimes

Bimmer the Dog

To feel the full range of emotions is to experience our humanity fully. Yet, as a society, we seem to celebrate the stoic, the even-keel, and the put a happy-face-on-and-push-through-it behaviors while shaming those who are authentically expressive.

I’m here to say it’s ok to feel sad. It’s ok to feel angry. It’s ok to feel fear and doubt. Emotions are simply energy in motion. The more we resist letting these emotions flow, the more that energy stagnates in our body. Over time, that can cause physical ailments. Body, mind and spirit are all connected.

For me, this week, I’m feeling bouts of sadness come and go in waves. I learned a few days ago that my dog I shared with an ex many years ago will be assisted across the rainbow bridge this Saturday. I am grieving this inevitable ending.

I remember picking up Bimmer, a rare grey and tan Chinook, from the breeder in Kirkland, Washington. He was a ten-pound, rolly-polly, fuzzy ball of uncoordinated energy bounding toward me with his sisters and brothers. He had the most beautiful, bright blue eyes that were full of curiosity. I fell in love instantly.

He cried so much in the first twenty-four hours after bringing him home. He had left his pack…his mom and siblings…to go with a stranger. It broke my heart as quickly as his adorableness filled those cracks.

There was potty training followed by obedience training. As he grew, he experienced separation anxiety and we worked on giving him a job to do while we were at work, which greatly alleviated it. He quickly developed into a 110-pound gentle giant with a long tongue that loved to lick anyone within a few feet. It inspired a welcome mat to the house that said, “BEWARE: Dog can’t hold his licker.”

He was my buddy, my constant companion through some really tough times in my life. He eased my broken heart after splitting with my ex. He kept me company, reminding me I had value, when I was laid off from my job and feeling lost and alone. He kept me physically safe by ferociously barking at a man who threatened me and rattled my windows and doors in the middle of the night.

When I foreclosed on my house and couldn’t find a rental that would allow a dog his size, I reluctantly gave him to my ex, who also loved him dearly. It was the right thing to do for Bimmer, who needed space and consistency…even if it broke my heart.

He’s now twelve years old. I have missed the past seven years of his life. Now it’s time to rejoin his brothers and sisters, who wait for him on the other side. I know he’s lived a happy, long life. And still, I am sad. I grieve for myself, who remembers what a joy he was in my life. I grieve for those who know him and his loving spirit. I grieve for the loss of life, even though it’s all part of the circle.

So as I write this tribute to honor Bimmer’s life, I also let the tears flow. I feel the weight in my heavy heart, the pain in my throat, and the hot tears falling from my eyes down my cheeks. I notice where the ripples emanate from and to and let it wash over me.

To Bimmer: Mamma loves you. May your spirit be well. May you rest in peace. May you know you left this world a better place and me a better person for having loved you.

To those graciously reading: May you allow yourself to feel all the feels as they arise. May they flow as naturally as you breathe and your heart beats. May you experience your humanity fully.

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Learning to Receive

Breathwork Meditation Healing Circle

As a coach, eldest child, woman, lifelong caretaker of my loved ones, and recovering rescuer, I’m accustomed to attending to everyone else’s needs. It’s easy for me to spot where others are burned out, and offer my assistance, which usually comes in the form of coaching.

While I recognize my own need for self-care, I have a tendency to do just that…give it to myself. If my body says it’s tired, I rest. If it wants to move, I move. If it is hungry, I feed it. If I am overwhelmed in a social setting, I find a quiet space to be alone. If it’s been a busy day, I’ll take a bath. I’m quite self-sufficient.

What I haven’t learned to do well is receive care from others.

It hit me the other day when I attended a Love Bubble breathwork class on the beach led by the amazing Jenna Reiss. She and I had met serendipitously at a Byron Katie event. Then we met again at a Gabby Bernstein event. I knew from her energy that I wanted her in my life. And yet, despite our ongoing efforts, running our individual businesses got in the way of our connecting in person again.

When I saw her social posts about leading a breathwork class, I jumped at the chance to see how we might collaborate on future workshops together. It didn’t even occur to me to attend simply to receive her gifts. So when she asked what “Love Bubble” meant to me, I responded as a coach, not as Jennifer. She invited me to drop my roles and responsibilities…and even suggested I put my body a little further into the love bubble circle of blankets to receive just a bit more.

It was exactly what I needed to shed the societal pressure of being the independent woman that doesn’t need anything from anyone else. To give myself permission to receive someone else’s care, to be myself with all my flaws and baggage in someone else’s safe and sacred space. To heal the parts of me that needed another layer peeled off and released.

Healing and spiritual enlightenment is not a destination; it’s a journey (which I recognize is cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true!). If anyone tells you they have all the answers and everything figured out, they’re unconsciously (or maybe even consciously) incompetent and my advice is to run the other way.

My experience in that love bubble was oh-so-delicious. My hands, lower arm, lower leg, and back of neck wrapping up around my ears were vibrating at such a high frequency that they felt tingly, numb and immobile. At one point I was laughing deeply, and another I was convulsively crying. My heart opened up so fully and my higher self shined through.

Through coaching, I have forgiven myself on the mental and emotional level for some things in my past, yet in that circle, I forgave myself even more deeply at the spiritual and soul level…and forgave others from my past that I’d been harboring judgment toward. It felt so lovely and so loving to let all of that go, peeling it off like a heavy winter jacket.

Aside from the freedom I felt afterward, it was a good reminder that it’s okay to receive from others. It’s okay to be the client and allow other’s gifts to be received.

If you’re like me and feel a strong need to never ask for help, I invite you to try it. Ease into it if there’s strong resistance. Because we all need each other. None of us are meant to figure it all out ourselves. AND by doing so, you’re allowing someone else’s light to shine and that is also a gift.

When we receive, we give…when we give, we receive.