Cutting Cords with Love

2017 has been full of A LOT of change for a lot of people!  It seems things are coming up to be dealt with that have been dormant for some time for lots of people in my life.  As I enter my birthday week and my personal new year, I am reflecting on where I have been and where I want to go.  It’s been a particularly tumultuous 12 months…  I have divorced, moved twice, got a new full-time office job, lost friends, gained friends, started a band, lost a band, started another band, legally changed my name, lost co-workers, gained co-workers… There’s just been A LOT going on!

My last divorce was finalized in February but my ex husband and I were getting together regularly to watch Dr. Who on Sundays.  When the season ended, so did the 12th doctor (Peter Capaldi … swoon…my favorite actor ever!!!) and so did the last thing my ex husband and I were sharing in our lives…at least for now.  The regeneration of a Doctor is always emotional but the timing of it made it even more so for us.  We both grieved pretty heavily.

A short time after the end of the season, my ex husband packed up the remaining items of mine and asked me to remove them from his house.  He asked that if I didn’t want any of it, I still figure out something to do with it.  Once everything was out, I handed over the key to his home I still had in my possession.  It was a necessary boundary and a necessary stage but it was painful.  It drove home what I already knew but didn’t quite accept… our marriage was really, really over.  I wasn’t going to get away with just abandoning the things I didn’t want to look at; I had to face them and decide what to do.

Last night, I unpacked a painting I had made for him of a tree created on two separate canvases that lined up together to make a complete piece. There was a heart with our initials that spanned the base of the tree and into the roots.  I signed it on the back and wrote “To the most beautiful man I have ever known”.  It hung in our home until, ironically, the year our marriage started to come to a close.  I meant those words when I wrote them.  I still think he’s a beautiful man; I just don’t want to be married to him anymore and he doesn’t want to be married to me.   I also unpacked wedding gifts, souvenirs from our honeymoon taken at our five year anniversary, a piece of artwork he made for me that used to hang in our bedroom, a plaque with the definition of love and engagement photos.  There are more boxes to go through but that was enough for one night!

I am feeling a bit raw today…  I am grateful he loves me truly and deeply enough to let me go.  I am grateful for all the good times we shared.  I am grateful we are both better people now than we were when we got together.  I am grateful to have been with such a beautiful, wise man and always will be.  I am grateful our split was so cooperative and peaceful.  I wish him to find someone who matches him in ways I couldn’t while encouraging him to be the BEST version of himself as I did.

As I think about my failed marriages (yes, I have had 2), I did a lot of things right, I did a lot of things wrong and there’s SO MUCH I want to do better in the future.  I was still a teenager when I got married the first time.  I was trying to make my mark on the world and did what I thought all ‘good’ women did…. get married and have children.  Our incompatibility and my son’s special needs were just too much to bare.  We split when I was 25 but did a pretty smashing job co-parenting.  My second marriage was between two people trying to fill voids within themselves.  Our hurts and strategies for masking those hurts were compatible.  We were/are extremely mentally compatible and polite to each other.  Too polite… So polite we avoided conflict for almost a decade and when it came up, we weren’t committed enough to our marriage to get through it.    I see now I was trying to create a successful 2nd marriage to prove the end of the 1st one ‘wasn’t my fault’…  Yikes!  The truth is, in any relationship, it takes two to make or break it.  If it’s ending, it’s partially due to what I brought, or didn’t bring, to the equation.  The same is true if it’s continuing.

In all my relationships, I am learning how important it is to speak my truth with kindness and respect even if it’s uncomfortable.  I need to express what I am okay and not okay with but not try to control what other people do.  The only things I can control are my thoughts and my actions.  Everything else is outside of me.

I am committed to making this next year one of my best yet!  My home is already the most beautiful place I have ever lived in and I am excited to have a music room to share!  My relationships in my inner circle are strong.  Healing is happening with those that I’ve been apart from for some time.  I am in the process of getting back on track with my eating and exercise habits.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

Cheers to the next phase of life!

 

From my heart to yours,

 

Thanks for reading

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Living in Alignment

I have spent most of my life preoccupied with being happy “when _______”… When I have more money.  When I am out of debt.  When I lose weight.  When I have a better job.  When I don’t live here anymore.  When I catch up.  When I get more organized…  If I wasn’t thinking “I’ll be happy when…”, I was thinking I would be happy ‘if only’.  If only that person wasn’t in my life.  If only that person was still in my life.  If only my son didn’t have special needs.  If only I had been born into a different family.  If only I looked like her…

This past year has been one of the most painful and joyous of my life.  Many things have worked out perfectly and many things have felt like they were going terribly wrong.  I’ve faced fear on a level I never knew before.  I’ve also experienced love, acceptance and a sense of belonging on a level I never knew before.  I’ve grown more than I ever knew I needed to.  I’ve felt the greatest joy and the deepest sorrow of my life.  I recognized most of my suffering boiled down to wanting something to be different than it was.  The roller coaster I’ve been on was created by pretending things were the way I wanted them and then being crushed when reality reminded me they weren’t.

Today, I felt something new… I am happy to be here.  HERE… NOW…. The future is full of promise but it’s uncertain.  None of us know how many days we will have breath on this planet.  Everything we think we know can change in an instant.  But none of that has happened yet!

There’s a chant we sing in a women’s circle I regularly attend with the line “now is the only moment”.  Truly… NOW is the only moment.  Happiness isn’t found in the next thing.  Happiness is right here, right now.  Contentment.  Peace.  Being.  Belonging… It’s all RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.   Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz”… “if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”  I GET IT NOW!

I survived for a long time by suppressing unpleasant feelings.  Distracting myself from them.  Pretending they weren’t there (I’m VERY good at that!).  Sadness, loneliness and anger still aren’t my favorite feelings to feel but I’m learning if I block them, I miss out on a big part of life.  I block my growth and I ultimately sabotage myself from being able to have the life I desire to live.  I keep myself from feeling fully joyful too…

I like to think I have no problem being outspoken or going against the grain.  Sometimes I have been caught being contrary just to prove it to myself (blush).  I am often described as “strong” and “free-spirited” but…. I’ve had trouble speaking my mind in my most intimate relationships.  I didn’t want to risk losing the person I loved.  I thought my last husband and I had it figured out, having difficult conversations instead of avoiding them.  We DID do a good job having tough conversations but… we avoided the toughest one for over a decade.  When we finally had it, we decided to end our marriage.

It’s through our breakup that I realize how much he loves me and how much I love him.  True, pure love.  Not romantic.  Not the kind for selfish interest… The kind that wants the very best for the other person.  Friendship love.  Familial love.  I feel sad thinking about the good times we shared in the past.  We had some really GOOD TIMES… But they are over now.  In a lot of ways, I missed out on all they could be, worried they would end… but when they did, it was for the best.  Go figure!

I was reminded at a recent conference in order to have a healthy life, our hearts, heads and hands need to be in alignment.  If our heads are acting in conflict with our hearts, or vice versa, we experience stress.  If our heads and hearts are in conflict with what we are doing, that’s addiction.  I’ve done all three…

So, friends… I’m working on living in alignment.  My heart is strong and knows exactly what it wants.  My head is smart and watches out for potential trouble but it’s not as wise as my heart.  And my hands will do whatever I choose… May they bring blessings to everyone I touch.

 

From my heart to yours,

 

Thanks for reading

Storms Pass

I have known for some time now that life continues in cycles. No matter how long I have practiced mindfulness or how many personal growth exercises I have completed, there is always another layer to explore. The more aware I become, the more I recognize patterns in my relationships. When I say “relationships” I am referring to all kinds (family, friends, romantic, professional).

In my last post, I spoke about my illusion of control. I say illusion because even if I do successfully influence someone else, it’s only because he or she allowed me to. If someone influences me, it’s only because I allowed it. I am responsible for my thoughts, feelings and actions. I always have choices. Any time I think I don’t, I have the option to stop believing that.

My coaching practice is showing me how certain concepts work universally. Whether it’s deciding on a job, romantic relationship, or raising teenagers, the strategy is similar…decide what makes investing my energy worth it and ask for what I want clearly. Own my power and speak truth with kindness, outlining consequences of options… If I put blinders on and go for a goal without being mindful of the current moment, I get off track. If I try to control anything outside myself, it doesn’t work well. If I give my power away to someone else by thinking too much of his or her opinion, losing touch with my inner knowing, I fall and wonder “how the heck did I get here?”…

When I fall, I get back up. I have rebuilt my life, almost from scratch, more than once. Every time, I intended to learn from my mistakes, owned my part of whatever went wrong and planned to make fewer mistakes going forward. Every time, some of the same problems appeared with completely different people in a completely different environment. Huh…

In the past, I blamed people and circumstances outside myself for my emotional condition. Sometimes it is necessary to leave a person or place but it’s never completely the other person’s issue. I know first hand circumstances repeat until I learn the lesson. Each time, I recognize and address it more quickly than before. Practicing gratitude and self-love help me navigate through the rough patches. Beating myself up about ‘failing again’ isn’t helpful at all. Eventually, I avoid the issue entirely (once I have fully learned the lesson).

In the past, I let emotion run my life… ‘Self control’ was modeled for me by people who shut their feelings off. I didn’t learn how to process my feelings in a healthy way or use emotion as a barometer growing up. I am practicing both now.

Emotions are like weather patterns, constantly moving with varied intensity. There isn’t good weather and bad weather… People only say that because sometimes the weather makes it uncomfortable to do what they want to do.

I am learning it’s important to check my internal ‘weather’ every day. When I am on the right track, I have peace. When there is something I need to learn, I have a storm. Neither lasts forever. No matter what the weather, the sun rises and sets. There is a certain level of stability and peace available no matter what storms may come.

Any time I notice myself forgetting that, my mind racing and/or my heart hurting, I can focus my attention on my breath. I can remind myself all is well and I am safe in this moment. I can tune into spirit for guidance and strength, do the next right thing and embrace the process. I can and I do!

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

 

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More than a Coat

I have struggled with overspending for as long as I can remember.  I am now committed to planning a budget and sticking to it because it’s necessary to live the life I want to live.  I am learning to enjoy my life outside of things.  In the past, I have used money in exchange for love and that isn’t a fair trade.  I believe life supports me; all I have to do is show up, be present and do the next right thing.  Yesterday was a powerful reinforcement of those beliefs.

I had a coupon from Younkers for $60 off an outwear item that costs $100 or more and I needed a coat.  I had up to $55 budgeted for it.  My partner found me the PERFECT one but when it came time to check out, it rang up at $79.99 (40% off). The clerk couldn’t change the original price back to $110 so I could get a better deal with my coupon.

I froze.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I asked the clerk to ring up everything except the coat.  I had money for a $55 coat.  I did not have money for an $80 coat.

As I walked through the store to see if someone else could get the coat price down to one I could afford that day, more and more things were jumping out at me and my mind raced with dialog.

“Oh, what a cute tumbler, I could use it!”

“You already have all the tumblers you need, another one would take up room in the cupboard and not bring you any more joy”

“Oh yes, that’s right”

“Slippers!!!  I can use slippers!”

“You have slippers that fit and buying more will not bring you more joy.”

“Right”

“Oh, pants!!!! My son could use more work pants.  Good mothers buy their sons plenty of pants.”

“Dear one, your son is loved and cared for.  He has pants to wear to work.  They wash, they fit, and if something happened, there are 24 hour stores that sell them.  He will not go without pants.”

“My goodness, I need to get out of this place”

I refused to let myself go down the path of bargaining with myself for an extra $25.  I attempted that game many times before and always came up short.  As I shared my angst with my partner, he likened the experience to an alcoholic visiting her favorite bar.  In a former life, I would easily spend $400-$500 in a single visit buying all the items I didn’t buy this trip.  The result was a house overflowing with stuff, an empty bank account and unending stress.  I reminded myself I am changing and it’s safe to change…

We eventually arrived at another counter with an experienced looking woman who I hoped could help me.  I approached without expectation that I would get the coat or not get the coat but I REALLY WANTED the coat.  When I explained the situation, she regretfully informed me that she couldn’t adjust the original price either.  My heart sank.  It was perhaps the most perfect coat I have ever found but I was $25 short.  In my disappointed state, I asked the woman behind me if she wanted to go while I thought about my situation.

Although she could barely speak English, the woman next in line handed me a printed out coupon stamped with yesterday’s date.  It was for $25 off any item $50 or more.  I read the offer as words but the meaning didn’t sink in.  I looked up at the woman who handed it to me as if to ask “what is this for?”.  Her eyes said it was for me.  I looked back down and suddenly realized this coupon would make the coat affordable!  I looked back up on the edge of tears and said “Is this for me?” accompanied with a gesture.  She nodded.  The waterworks came as I said “thank you so much” over and over again.

Tears are flowing as I write this now… I am grateful for the kind hearted woman who was born speaking another language but connected with me anyway.  She was a quiet person; I can be loud.  Her face didn’t express her emotions outwardly like mine does but she had wise, knowing eyes.  When I made eye contact, I saw a hard working woman who knows the pain of heartbreak and has made many sacrifices in her life.  I felt like she understood me completely in that moment despite our differences.  After I paid, I turned around again and asked if I could give her a hug.  She agreed and even more tears fell down my face.

I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude and grief for all the times I felt misunderstood and unloved.  On top of the gratitude for the coat, I was grateful for the experience and the sensations of my feelings I was experiencing in real time.  She reinforced my faith that everything works out perfectly!

Thank you, dear, sweet woman who made it possible to buy my coat.  I will think of you whenever I wear it.  Remembering your kind act helps me be aware of opportunities to give what I have at the right time for someone else.

 

From my heart to yours,

 

Thanks for reading

Reminders from Paramahansa Yogananda

Today, in my sacred space, I was moved to search for teachings from Paramahansa Yogananda.  I downloaded “The Law of Success” and started reading.  As I read, the following reminders flowed into me…

Aligning my will with the will of the source of life is the way I experience success.  In every failure, there is an opportunity to grow and heal.  There is no need for suffering.  Suffering is a flag that says “hey, something is off here”.  Answers appear when I go within and ask what is off with an open heart and mind.  The answers to every problem and solutions for every need are available at any moment.  The quicker I learn lessons, the less trouble I experience in life.  I give no energy to focusing on the trouble.  Instead, I spend my energy focusing on the lesson, the gift, within the situation.

It is important not to do things for selfish power or to be “special” because of what I can do.  That is a desire of the ego that distracts me from my spiritual quest. It is important for me to set aside time to connect with the source of life so I can attune my will to that source.

I have tasted the sweet fruitage of aligning myself with the unconditional love, goodness and power from the source of life.  I also know the tragedy, stress and suffering from pursing goals that “prove” something.  This duality is a gift in my life.  I can choose the former whenever I wish.  I choose it now.

This is freedom.

This is joy.

This is passion.

This is the gift of my life!

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

Everyone Has A “Thing”

I believe in the depths of my soul that everyone has something they are good at, including people with dramatically differing abilities.  Problems are caused in people’s lives when there’s a disconnect between their abilities and what they are doing.  Align life with strengths and magic happens!

I believe that life supports me and the spiritual realm has my back.  I didn’t always believe that.  I’ve redefined what the ‘spiritual realm’ means to me many times.  Every definition I’ve had was what I needed at the time.  Energy spent fearing failure is wasted energy.  There is no failure… Even if something doesn’t work out, there’s a valuable lesson available in the experience.

There are some experiences I would like to protect people from if I could.  The way some people treat each other is abominable.  However, every survivor of abuse I have ever met has more strength of character in his/her little finger than someone who’s coasted through life.

When I wrote down the terrible things I experienced in a recent spiritual journey class, my dearest values were revealed.  I hold dear the concepts OPPOSITE of the negative experiences I’ve had. I felt controlled so I value freedom.  I felt disrespected so I value respect.  I felt mistreated so I value kindness.  Etc…

In the space I am in now, I do not fear failure because I welcome lessons in my life.  I grow.  I learn.  I own my destiny and embrace my inner source of power.

 

From my heart to yours

 

Thanks for reading

Choosing to Not Return to the Burning Barn

During a recent gathering of great minds who help me keep perspective, one of my closest friends shared an intriguing observation.  If you remove cattle from a burning barn, they have to be restrained in a safe location or they will return to the burning building.  Why? Because they associate the barn with safety.  Even though the barn is no longer safe, their instinctual brains are driving them back to what they associate with comfort.

When I first heard this account, my mouth dropped open and I stared blankly.  The group thought that I was worried about the cows.  I wasn’t thinking about cattle.  I was thinking about how often I have returned to unhealthy behaviors because they are associated with comfort in my instinctual mind.  Somewhere along the line, ice cream, chocolate and milk gave me comfort.  Somewhere, I got the idea that life is about suffering and hard work.  My rational mind thinks that’s insane but my cow brain still desires to go back to the burning barn.

I started to think about how many people I have watched go back to their burning barns.  Addictions of various forms: food, money, sex, work, religion, exercise…  All of those things can be harmful in the extreme (in either direction… too little or too much).

I am practicing living in the moment, here and now.  Feeling my feelings as they happen, being in control of my actions but not which emotions I let myself feel.  It gives way to spontaneous tears, incredible joy and occasional anxiety.  But, you know what?  I’m still here!  My feelings aren’t fatal but continuing to go back to the burning barn is.

Mindful Movement

Recovering from a recent injury, I asked myself why I was doing what I was doing.  I had intended to run 1,000 miles this year, complete some kind of race every month (one being another marathon) while working full time and going to school online.  Six months in, I realized my activity has been taking me away from myself and I’m losing connection with my soul.

My school studies are challenging on an emotional level because in order to be prepared to help others, I must address my own issues.  I’m allowing myself to do this work, to feel what I feel when I feel it.  It is not a coincidence that the area of my back I recently injured is in the location of my heart chakra, a place that has refused to move for some time.  I do believe there is connection between our minds, our experiences, and the tissues in our body.  I have learned that by listening to my body, I can discover areas of my mind that need attention.

I am embarking on a new journey of daily mindful movement in the form of Adamantine Yoga taught by a local guru starting Monday.  I have a fire in my belly and desire to share my gifts with anyone who wishes to receive them.  I have no plans to stop running at this time and I will continue to support others in their running goals but I am being called in a different direction in this time of my life.

This morning, I went a little over nine miles with people I love.  I ran with my heart until I didn’t want to run anymore, until my breath was labored instead of deep.  Then, I walked until I wished to run again.  With each step, I was aware of the energy flowing through my veins.  The day was beautifully cloudy, warm and humid.  The forest was green and wildlife filled the air.  I am grateful for what my body can do.

I must take care of my body, it’s the only place I have to live (Jim Rohn).

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

What do you want to do?

We are born knowing what we want.  As babies, those wants are pretty simple: food, comfort, clean butts and sleep.  As we grow up, we learn about the difference between wants and needs.  Our ‘needs’ stay pretty much the same but our wants get more complicated.  Social mores come in and tell us what we should and should not want.  Parents, religious organizations, media, social networks… They all have something to say.

Somewhere along the line, we lose touch with who we really are because it becomes clouded by the voices of others.  Getting what we want becomes more complicated than learning how to emotionally manipulate the people around us with a good tantrum. Few parents know how to turn that tantrum into a emotional processing learning experience and instead teach us to shut it down.

I distinctly remember knowing at 5 years of age exactly what I wanted and how the world worked (Robert Fulghum nailed it with “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindgergarden”).  At 25, I hadn’t a clue.

Now in my mid thirties, beyond anything I do or say, I aim to be true to myself and encourage everyone around me to do the same.  The most common response when I ask “What do you want to do?” is “I don’t know what I want” but THAT IS A LIE.  Not a malicious, intentional lie, but no more true than a lie.  

The truth is, somewhere, sometime along the line, it was decided (consciously or unconsciously) that what they wanted was not possible.  “You shouldn’t want that”, “you can’t have that”, “forget about it”…  And they did.  It was determined that pretending they don’t know what they want and coping with mediocrity was preferred to the anguish of knowing what they want but not having it yet.  Anyone can bring it back though, if they’ve got the guts.  

The road to your heart’s purest desire is not without a few rocks and pointy objects but it’s worth traveling.  Please hear me, it’s WORTH TRAVELING. 

Trying to figure out what I want to do “for the rest of my life” is too big of a chunk to process.  So I start with what I want to do this year, this month, this week and if that still seems to big, I start with this day, this hour, this minute, this second.  I found a safe place where I can just ‘be’ without judgment.  If judgment comes in, I don’t judge the judgment, I just let it be.  Observe it, acknowledge it, but detach from it.  Feelings are not facts.  I’ve have nothing to fear but fear itself.

My latest endeavor is expressing my emotions with a drawing journal.  Sometimes I draw, sometimes I write, but it is a safe place where I can put down what is on my heart.  It’s not always pretty and I accept that.  Sometimes I am surprised by what comes out but it’s liberating to have a safe place where nothing I do is ever wrong.  

How do I know if the trials and tribulations I experience are because I am getting closer to my fountain of truth or because I am off track?  I ask myself a few questions: What am I afraid of? Am I clinging to a belief/something/someone that is causing this pain?  (If yes, I’m bringing the heartache on myself.  If no, I’m about to learn an important life lesson.)  Do I unconditionally love and accept myself right now? (If yes, I’m about to learn an important life lesson and this pain will not last long.  If no, I gotta start now.)

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

Hungry

Working on building a stronger relationship with my self, I’m learning what drives my appetite.

I lost a considerable amount of weight essentially counting calories and working out. I burned more than I ate.  I learned to eat more nutritious food but mostly because it was low calorie, not really because it was nutritious.  I told myself I would always want too much and I had to control it.

Now, I am telling myself I can be trusted.  I’m practicing asking myself my three questions (see earlier posts).  Last week, I ate more sugar than usual.  I had treats while traveling on business.  I barely worked out.  However, I did not gain any weight and I broke my personal record for a 5K Saturday morning feeling great!  My desire for the things I wanted last week went away.  It’s almost like my inner self was testing to see if I really trusted her or not.  Perhaps she needed something in what I was eating.  She was scared and what I ate helped her feel better.

I only want so much healthy food.  This morning, I substituted a pancake for sauteed kale.  When I eat kale, it feels like my body is saying “yay!!!!!!!” even though I don’t care for the taste much.  I recall times of eating twice as many pancakes and feeling like I still wanted more.

I’m done telling myself I’m fat.  Instead, I’m telling myself that it’s ok to lose the fat I do not need and working to stay in tune with my inner voice.  I’m done comparing myself to other people.  This is my body, this is where I live, no one else.

Instead of controlling my appetite, I’m working with it.  My fat keeps me warm when others are cold.  If it’s fed with non toxic food, it’s there to fuel me when I need it to.  When I was 230lbs, I would have been THRILLED with 168.2 so I choose to be thrilled now.

I deserve to be the best I can be.  Nothing more, nothing less.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading