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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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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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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.

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How to Tap Into the Healing Power of Nature

Nature Guides: Release & Reconnect Through Writing

Before I learned and assimilated coaching tools into my life, I looked to nature to find peace and joy. When my life felt chaotic and overwhelming, nature gave me centeredness and balance. Something as simple as taking a walk amongst trees or sitting in the sand staring off at the ocean could clear my mind and deepen my breath.

Have you ever found calming relief by immersing yourself in nature’s beauty? Do you find solace staring at clouds or rain falling? I certainly do. And then I learned to capture those beautiful moments so that when nature wasn’t close by, I could return to that space mentally and emotionally simply by looking at my pictures.

Photography was (and still is) an additional creative outlet that gives me a break from the demands of everyday life. It offers the opportunity to zoom in on the details of a caterpillar inching its way along a leaf or a hawk’s eyes as it scans a clearing for skittering mice. I find animals to be extremely fascinating subjects, especially because I can learn so much from them. And landscapes provide such serene beauty; I enjoy the peace they bring my heart.

When our mind is abuzz with mental chatter and we’re spinning, it’s often helpful to move it from our brains to a piece of paper. Getting it out of our heads makes space, and putting mindful language to it also helps us better process it internally. If you’re like me, journaling can be extremely cathartic.

Well before I had coaching, these were the tools I used to make sense of my life, my journey, where I’d been, and where I hoped to go. For that reason, I wrote a book that combines all of this together so that I could help others utilize these resources, too.

Merging my nature photography with interesting facts about the picture’s subjects, I use them as a metaphor for solving a variety of common life challenges and then ask questions similar to those I ask my clients during coaching. By answering the journal prompt questions, you can tap into your higher self and your brilliant inner wisdom.

If you love wild animals and landscapes as well as enjoy writing, I invite you to buy my book, Nature Guides, and use it as a resource to find the answers you seek.

May you be well. May you know peace. May you find joy in the pages of Nature Guides: Release & Reconnect Through Writing.

 

 

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5 Simple Steps to Reconnect with Yourself

Practice Self Care

It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of work and life demands, and bypass our own physical and emotional needs. We prioritize immediate fires, of which there always seems to be two more starting as soon as we put one out. When we finally settle into bed at night is usually our first opportunity to process what actually happened during that day, which was a blur. (Spoiler alert: there’s another way!)

I remember this vividly when I worked in corporate marketing and communications. I’d go for hours in back-to-back meetings, holding my bladder because “there just wasn’t time for it.” I’d ignore the numbness in my feet caused by stylish, yet painfully tight, high heels. I’d push through back pain, caused by sitting in front of a computer or in meetings all day, by popping Advil like popcorn. Then to relax after work, I’d drink a half bottle of wine and binge watch TV to numb my mind. Rinse and repeat.

Sure, I worked out to maintain a certain weight and physique, but it was driven by the social pressure of fitting in and wanting to be liked. Even then, I’d ignore my body’s exhaustion or push past the pain and force on it what I thought I should be doing.

All of it was a complete disconnection from my body. As a result, my body revolted with a herniated disc in my lower back, plantar fasciitis, migraines and regular knock-me-down-for-the-count colds. These were all blaring neon signs from my body that it wanted my attention and changes were needed.

When I learned to tune into my body and communicate with it, how dramatically my life and my health improved!

Do you have similar health and stress issues? Do you ignore the messages your body gives you?

While I’ve developed a more in-depth program called Learn to Love Your Body in 30 Days, here are a few simple tips to make some initial shifts in reconnecting with yourself:

  1. Practice feeling into your body.Starting from your toes all the way up to the top of your head, focus your awareness into the physical sensations of each area of your body as you scan. Do this two to three times a day.
  2. Pay attention to your body’s responses.When your body gives you physical responses, notice and acknowledge them. Where you can, give it what it’s asking for: a nap, stretching, movement, bio-break, food, water, deep-slow breathing, etc.
  3. Take regular breaks.For every sixty to ninety minutes of focused attention, go for a short walk or do something creative like doodle. Put away your electronic devices and give yourself a mental pause.
  4. Meditate. You can find a variety of free meditation options on the app Insight Timer. Simply connecting with stillness allows you to reconnect with yourself.
  5. Regularly ask yourself, “What do I need right now in this moment?”Then wait for a response. Even (and especially) if the response is silly, listen to it. You might be surprised at how wise the answer is.

If you’d like to dig deeper into Mind-Body Connection, consider joining my 30-day program. Have questions about it? Email me at: inversioncoaching@gmail.com

 

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How Fascination and Joy can Lead you to Your Purpose

From the smallest insect to the largest whale, each living being was created for a purpose and plays an integral role in the ecosystem. In an untouched and raw form, all of nature works in balance.

You, too, have been given talents, strengths, preferences and tastes that combine to create the unique you that you are. They wouldn’t be yours, and you wouldn’t be here, if you weren’t needed to serve the world in only the way you can. If everyone played the part they were born to, humanity could also be in balance.

Instead, we’ve built hierarchical power pyramids and convinced ourselves that the only way to be happy is to be at the top. Many struggle to stand on the backs of others to get just a bit higher, and higher. All the while believing if we could only reach the next level, then we’d finally be happy. Yet, upon reaching each level, we thirst for more. It’s never enough. (If this doesn’t sound even a teensy bit familiar, where do you live and can I join you?)

Why is it not enough? Because higher isn’t really what we want at our core. It doesn’t fit into the shape of our hearts, which knows our purpose and loves every aspect of it.

In ancient wisdom traditions, elders encouraged their youth to play their hearts out. Through observing what stoked the individual’s attention, fascination and imagination, they could determine how this child could eventually serve their greater community. While this practice has been lost in our current culture, everyone has an opportunity to tap back into that tradition to find their purpose.

The breadcrumbs are in what delights, fascinates, and energizes you.

Growing up, how did you love to play? What did you dream up? What imaginary problems did you solve? What topics fascinated you? What information did you soak up and remember easily?

Assuming you’re an adult, what activities cause you to lose all track of time because you are so enamored with the experience?

If you could get a free day to do whatever you wanted to do, no matter the financial cost (and within legal and moral boundaries), what would you do? (If your answer is sleep, then my hunch is you’re overworked. So what would you do after you caught up on however much sleep you need?)

There is a way to use what brings you joy to serve others. It makes you happy because it’s part of your path, it’s part of who you’re intended to be and what you’re intended to provide your community. It simply requires your imagination and problem-solving to understand how to make it your vocation.

It may not even exist as a job, business, product or service yet. You may need to create it. And while that takes work, your passion and sense of fulfillment will outweigh the trials to create it. If it doesn’t, you haven’t yet found the right fit, though you’re probably in the ballpark.

If you don’t love what you do, you’re robbing the world of your gifts. You owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and your community to live a joyful life that also happens to give the world exactly what it needs.

***

If you’re ready to explore what brings you joy in order to find your purpose, coaching can help. Let’s talk!

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Why Diet & Exercise Alone Won’t Work

When we reject our body for not matching magazine-cover perfection, we disassociate from our body. That disconnection numbs us from the signals our body gives us that tells us what it wants and needs. What that is will be different in each moment because it is unique to the circumstances and context we are in. What our body needs for fuel can change from meal to meal and from person to person.

When we overwork ourselves to exhaustion, and then push ourselves to work out, our body starts to create a negative association with working out.

For those of us who struggle with our body image, we have a tendency to use diets and exercise as self-inflicted punishment for doing “bad” things like eating “bad” food and being “lazy.” We shame ourselves for not doing what we believe we should. It becomes a downward demotivating spiral.

It’s no wonder we push against it like a stubborn child wanting to do the exact opposite of what a parent advises. And it’s why standard dieting and exercise programs don’t work for those of us who are caught in the body-shame-spiral.

When we learn to love our body exactly as it is, we can then reconnect with the messages it gives about food, drink, movement, and rest. When we love and accept ourselves, we connect with the motivation to be our best self.

In my mid-twenties, my boyfriend frequently, verbally criticized my body. The more he critiqued, the more I shamed myself. This caused me to eat more to fill a void and I always felt too exhausted to be active, which led to more criticism, which led to more eating and exhaustion. I told myself I was unlovable because of my weight.

At one point, I forced myself to go on an extremely restrictive diet and hit the gym every day. In two months I lost fifteen pounds. I excitedly shared this achievement with my boyfriend, who responded, “Just imagine how you’d look if you lost twenty-five more.”

I gave up and gained it all back shortly after. When we broke up, I was forty-five pounds heavier than when we had first met. Shedding that unhealthy relationship, I easily lost weight without changing my daily routine because I was so much happier.

Contrast that with my husband. When we first started dating, he was genuinely complimentary and openly affectionate. When I would body shame myself, he knew exactly what to say to pull me out of it. When I learned to see myself how he saw me, with love and admiration, I had so much more energy. That energy and desire to be active and out doing things also sparked in me a natural desire to eat more fruits and vegetables. It wasn’t because I told myself I should, I actually wanted to. I was drawn to them.

Taking a culmination of these types of life lessons with my own body-image journey and combining that with the coaching tools that work for my clients, I’ve developed an online program called Learn to Love Your Body in 30 Days. If you struggle with your body image and are tired of fad diets and exercise routines that never become a habit, I’d love for you to join me. We start June 3!  Learn more here!