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How Much Dirty Pain do you Hold? Take This Quiz!

Clean vs Dirty Pain

Pain is an inherent experience in life. Most of us have been injured or heartbroken at least once. So it’s safe to assume you are familiar with both physical and emotional pain. A concept I find that many aren’t as aware of is clean pain versus dirty pain.

Clean pain is physical pain (such as a broken leg) or loss (such as a job or best friend moving to another country). Dirty pain is the story we tell ourselves about that clean pain. It causes deeper and unnecessary suffering. Clean pain is inevitable; dirty pain is optional.

For example, my mother’s suicide is clean pain. Loss of a loved one, and the emotional grief as a result, is clean pain.

Believing her death was my fault, or regretting actions taken (or not taken) prior to it, would be dirty pain. Any “should have, could have, would have” hindsight guilt is dirty pain. Dirty pain prolongs, drags out and muddies our ability to grieve cleanly and clearly.

As a master coach, I help you differentiate between the two. Each requires its own special focus, and different tools, for healing and moving past the pain.

Healing clean pain, such as grief, is mostly giving the time and space to feel it. Often we distract ourselves and bury it in busy-ness because we have a natural aversion to pain. When we give ourselves permission to feel into it, look at it, be with it, and accept it, that emotion will flow and go through it’s natural course…ultimately dissolving and integrating into a new, wiser version of ourselves.

Dirty pain is trickier. It’s like a tangled ball of string. Between society’s conditioning, the belief structure we grew up with and accepted without question, and our own personal journey of collecting stories about the way our life should be, it can be challenging to untie and untangle the knots.

Like a tangled ball of string, we approach it one knot at a time. Sometimes the knots are interconnected and we have to find the source of one other knot to untie before we can untie the one at the forefront. This is pretty much the process of coaching.

I hold safe, sacred space for us to untangle and dissolve the dirty pain as well as process the clean pain.

Are you curious about how much dirty pain you’re holding? Take this quiz to find out!

When answering the questions below, choose one area of loss to focus on. (Repeat the quiz for each loss to understand which one(s) may be holding the most dirty pain.)

Answer “True” or “False” to the following:

  1. If I’d made different choices, I wouldn’t have lost (person/place/thing).
  2. I should have been a better (role in that relationship).
  3. If others had taken different actions, I wouldn’t have lost (person/place/thing).
  4. I can’t survive without (lost person/place/thing).
  5. I can’t be happy without (lost person/place/thing).
  6. I shouldn’t be happy without (lost person/place/thing).
  7. I’m a terrible person because I…(insert action or inaction).
  8. If only (different circumstances), I wouldn’t have lost (person/place/thing).
  9. (Person, place, thing) should be here right now and for future milestones.
  10. The more I suffer, the more I prove my love, value, and/or dedication.


For every question you answered “True” give yourself 8%. Add up your percentages, and the total is the percentage of dirty pain that you carry regarding this particular loss.


If you’re looking for a safe, sacred space to untangle your mental knots and dissolve dirty pain, I’d be honored to work with you. Schedule a session!

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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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What is Your Time, Joy & Health Worth?

Great blue heron

Our minds are incredible. We create music, art, technology, and solutions to our ever-evolving problems. We process millions of bits of information per second. We are constantly innovating, learning and growing. We dream up alternate worlds and fantastical stories that entertain and delight us. And yet, with all that power, we can find ourselves spending much of it on reliving painful memories or envisioning worst-case future scenarios.

The person who cut us off in traffic and then flipped us off like it was our fault, the underhanded slight our coworker made in a meeting, or a friend who lied can take up an enormous amount of brain space. Sometimes it is busy envisioning future doomsday scenarios of the ten thousand ways an anticipated conversation or event will go down. Like somehow if we could see around corners we would be better prepared for the horrors of what our mind has concocted (which rarely, if ever, end up happening).

My hunch is, if we were to count the minutes and hours spent living in the past or the future, we would find that it far outweighs engaging in the present moment.

Think of all that we could have potentially achieved if that time were spent “exist(ing) in perpetual creative response to whatever is present.” (Yogi Amrit Desai)

What would you do if you could maximize your potential?

That’s what coaching offers. It helps you flush the junk away so that you can free up that mental space for more productive and fulfilling activities. You get your time and joy back, and often as a result, your physical health improves.

What is that worth to you?

For me, it was life changing. So much so that I have made it my vocation because I so passionately want to help everyone feel as good as I do. When I found this other, easier way to live, I shouted from the highest mountain, “Join me! The view is amazing!”

If you’re ready to unpack the burden of your mind’s limiting beliefs and painful thoughts, let’s talk. I have a hunch you have an incredibly joyous and impactful life that’s just waiting to be lived to the fullest!

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Fear Part II: Each of us is Worthy

Wiley Coyote

No matter how many times I do The Work, I’m still in loving awe of the wounds that continue to surface and be released. In the words of Lloyd Dobins, “Continual improvement is an unending journey.” I will not stop seeking spiritual growth because the freedom it brings is so delicious.

Most recently, I’ve been working on my fear of public speaking, which was born from an incident on a stage where my mind was wiped clean of all thought and my tongue disabled. Since that Spring of 1997, any time I was called on to speak in front of more than a couple strangers, I felt fear.

My heart rate drummed like pounding rain, my palms would sweat, my tongue would feel like sand, and the words I searched for would swirl around evasively in my mind. Most often, I would write down what I wanted to say before I ever spoke…practicing it over and over again in my mind, and then repeating verbatim when the time came.

The more this happened, the more reinforced my fear became until it was a belief that my brain and body would betray me.

At first, I uncovered and dissolved this limiting belief by turning it on it’s axis and realizing that it sabotaged me from going down a path that wasn’t my calling. It actually saved me. Had my time on stage worked out, I might be an actress or a news anchor. That’s not my intended path.

Yet, the public speaking fear continued to grip my heart like vice clamps.

The real culprit was worthiness. Resistance was using my fear of not proving worthy enough. Who wants to listen to me? What do I have to say that is of importance? My words are not worth people’s time.

Aha! There you are, you sneaky little painful thoughts!

Thanks to a very dear friend and fellow coach, we looked at this silly – yet paralyzing – belief group and found plenty of proof to the opposite.

I am worthy of people’s time and attention. What I have to share has value. My story and my experience is mine and mine alone. No one before me and no one after me has lived my life. While there may be some commonalities, for sure, it is uniquely mine. AND SO ARE YOU AND YOURS!

On a call with Martha Beck, she shared, “There are only about five stories ever told across all time, and still we all want more. We want to hear it over and over again.”

Think about it. The best-selling books, blockbuster movies and Tony-Award winning musicals are all the same stories about the same struggles with the same archetypes told in different ways, with different backdrops, characters and voices. Yet we still can’t get enough of them. And we continue to create more in unique and innovative ways.

What I have to say may not be for everyone, and I actually prefer to reach only those who need to hear it. And it may not be life changing. Yet planting seeds is still a necessary step before ever picking fruit.

Each one of us is worthy.

What story do you have to share?

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Memory is Unlimited, but Storage is Costly

Jennifer Bauer taking photos in Yosemite

With the introduction of digital cameras, photo storage changed from space-consuming boxes of film to a computer’s hard drive. All of a sudden, we were not limited by the amount of film cartons we could carry because memory cards were small, lightweight, cheap and could be used repeatedly after downloading.

Rather than conserving shots, we can take as many as our fingers are capable of and now have the ability to experiment more abundantly with camera settings.

I love how this has lent me ample space to learn and grow my photographic skills. Yet, because I take so many photos now, storage is costly.

On my first trip to Africa, between my husband and I, we had 20,000 photos. It took us more than six months to go through them all, select ones we liked, post-process and then de-select so that we didn’t overwhelm our poor family members who had to endure the picture show and tell of our honeymoon.

That’s just one trip. And we travel – a lot.

You know what we don’t spend time doing? Deleting the terrible pictures. Like somehow, someday we’ll need them or regret not having them.

This got me thinking how this relates to our own mental state…our own personal memories that we hold onto.

Making memories is easy and unlimited. Storage is costly when it’s mostly made up of junk.

As a life coach, it’s my business to help clients release stored up junk. We do this by recognizing that they have a choice in whether to keep their painful stories or not.

The first step is questioning its truth. Then, I ask them probing questions to uncover the large cost of the thought on their mental and emotional health, behavior, relationships, and even the relationship they have with themselves.

Once they feel and understand the true cost, we explore what might be different without it. If they were to delete the junk photos of their past and future fears that are emblazoned on their mind, how would their behavior, emotions and interactions be different?

Oh the freedom found here!

Then we look for alternate truths…alternate photos that they hadn’t looked at before.

And like a reverse Polaroid, the belief dissolves. The memory has been released from storage.

It’s a beautiful process, if you’re open to exploring it. If not, there’s always storage in the cloud. How much are you willing to pay to keep the junk photos?

If you’re curious about how Byron Katie’s The Work™ can help you dissolve your limiting beliefs, let’s talk!