I was born an extremely strange child. That’s me up above in the background, pulling on my eyelids with martian bobbles on my head. That’s my sister up front, looking marginally annoyed and confused by whatever I am doing and my existence in general. I have evoked this response from her, and many others, since my first breaths on this Earth, and I have a funny feeling I may continue to do so until my last.
When I was little, being weird and silly worked for me. It was a great way to ease tension, get myself out of trouble (my mother ALWAYS broke), distract myself from boredom and use my imagination in creative ways. We had a giant dress-up box in my basement and whenever it was raining and I couldn’t play outside and peel acorns for -the squirrels, down to the basement I would go. I would spend some time finding the perfect outfit, march back up the stairs (sometimes at my own risk depending on my threads), head into whatever room my family member, house guests, friends or door-to-door salesman were in and just stand there…until somebody noticed and burst out laughing.
I continued this behavior throughout high school, not assumed “most likely to succeed” or “best dressed”, but certainly nailing “funniest girl” when it came time for my peers to vote for our senior yearbook. I could handle that. Funny was my thang. I never felt weird or judged for being a goon. It just came naturally and, even when others scoffed at it or thought me obnoxious, I did my thing and tried not to worry about it.
In short, I was a big dork. However, life hasn’t always been a series of silly moments for me. I went through a very dark time, much like most people I know. As I got a little older, life threw a rather quick succession of shitty events my way, and somewhere in the midst of it all, I lost my spark. Being silly and goofy became that thing that other people who weren’t going through drama did. It seemed like a waste of time and an act of immaturity. I began relying on substances and things outside of myself to help me hold on to that feeling of joy and freedom that being myself had previously allowed me to have. I gave half-ass smiles when I knew it was appropriate and made self-deprecating cracks once in a while just to keep up my shtick, but inside I felt very broken and unhappy. Slowly, the zany, dorky person who I naturally am, got lost in a spiral of self-judgement, self-pity and the feeling that this is how I was “supposed to be” after the things I had been through. To put it bluntly, I was pissed off, bored out of my mind, depressed and TOTALLY out of alignment with who I was.
Fast forward a few years (like 10). I gave birth to my son and spent the first year or so of his life looking at him much like my sister is looking at me in the debut picture of this post. How is he smiling and happy and goofy all the time? Where does his energy come from? Can I have some of it????? I couldn’t help but smile myself. Two years later, my daughter was born. By this time, I was starting to get the hang of this whole motherhood thing (if anybody can truly “get the hang” of parenting, that is). I began to watch their interaction with one another, and from the very first day I brought her home, I watched them find joy in each other. They laughed incessantly together from the day she could laugh. They began to imagine and create together as soon as she could do that. They played dress-up and restaurant and superheroes and would come to me almost daily to see who’s creative outfit was the best (they still do, and they always tie). Watching them, I started to learn how to play and be silly again. I remembered how much fun impromptu dance parties in the living room are, how much fun it is to make others laugh and how amazingly freeing it is to let yourself be the dorkiest, craziest version of yourself, no matter what.
I am proud to say that now, at 35 years old, I am once again an unapologetic dork, like it or lump it. It took me a while, but I finally realized the importance of owning my inner dork, without exception. I’ve also realized that we ALL have an inner dork. Mine shows up through goofy costumes, bad dance moves and singing off key, but maybe yours is something else. Maybe you like telling really bad jokes. Maybe you’re really into stamp collecting or enjoy looking in the mirror and making up your own commercials. Maybe you like to secretly escape to Star Trek conventions or enjoy watching Anime action/adventure flicks on the weekends. Whatever your inner dork digs, let it shine! You enjoy these things for a reason, and denying them because of social norms or how others might perceive you, isn’t doing you any favors. There is endless joy in embracing the things that allow you to be a total goofball. When we take ourselves too seriously, we slowly extinguish this beautiful part of ourselves. When we learn to love it, we inspire others to do the same.
Yes, I am a dork, through and through. I am a dork and I own it proudly. I am also married to an incredibly awesome dork and the mother to two of the most amazing dorks I know. Find your passion, embrace it and share it with the world, no matter what it looks like. This is what makes you uniquely you. If you’re really ready to let your dork flag fly, share a picture of your dorkiest moment in the comment section below! I’d love to see it!
If you are ready to release your limiting beliefs and learn to love your inner dork again, visit my website HERE or call me for a free consultation at 561-951-7045. You can also like me on FACEBOOK to keep up with my latest classes & events.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband walked in to my bathroom to find me sitting on the floor, head resting on my knees, sobbing uncontrollably. Though his first impulse was probably to hightail it out of there, luckily I have the best hubbers EVA, so instead, he sat down next to me and cautiously asked if I was okay. My answer…”NO, I’m NOT okay…I’m fucking awful! Just awful!” So there…glad that you asked? As I started to list off all of the reasons I was doing so terribly, I began to come to the realization that all of the rage that I was feeling inwardly, I had been projecting outward to him and my kids for the past couple of weeks. This, of course, just made me sob harder and feel worse because now, not only was I feeling awful, but I was also an asshole because I had been treating others awfully. Geesh. No pressure. You know what, though? The realization was SO freeing, because it allowed me to take a big, hard, necessary look at myself.
All of us are guilty of this at one point or another. When we are feeling any type of disdain towards ourselves, we project it out onto those closest to us. For example, think of a time where you felt guilty or angry at the way you had talked to your kids. Next thing you know, you’re tearing into your spouse about the way that they are talking to the kids or over-disciplining or looking at them funny. If you don’t have kids, think of a time where you were at work feeling underappreciated. Suddenly you see a co-worker getting praised and you unconsciously start recognizing all of the things that co-worker has done wrong in the past few weeks. I even made cupcakes for the manager’s birthday party last week…she didn’t bring shit, he can’t even remember to put the toilet seat lid down…eww…but they seem to think he’s so freaking smart, she’s such a suck-up, etc. Maybe you don’t feel like you are making enough money and coincidentally you suddenly feel the need to lash out at your brother/sister/spouse/parent/friend for the way they are handling (or not handling) their finances. You begin to judge what’s happening in other peoples lives, rather than peek under the hood and find the source of the discomfort within yourself. Pretty shitty, right? Yeah, I felt that way too.
As I melted down in my bathroom that day, I was flooded by the reality that I had been a real bitch the past couple of weeks. I let everything out…all of the ways that I was angry, disappointed, aggravated, annoyed and disgusted with MYSELF, and each release allowed me to see how this feeling was being reflected out to those around me. Hubbers would come home and tell me something positive that had happened in his day and I would respond by completely invalidating him in one way or another, simply because I didn’t feel positive myself. My kids would be laughing and playing and being silly and I would get aggravated at how loud they were being, because I didn’t feel joyful. All of this happiness was completely accessible to me, but I had allowed my own inner thoughts to essentially create a prison that kept me from enjoying it.
Now, it should be said that I am naturally a person that has big expectations of myself, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting big goals. What I realized through this purge, however, was that I was putting up all of these big expectations without having any compassion for myself or acknowledgement that I am human. Then, when I didn’t make a deadline or get the result that I was so attached to getting, I was feeling like a failure and thus began my old pal, Inner Critic, chattering away and reminding me of all of the ways I wasn’t good enough. Man, when that voice gets started, she just doesn’t SHUT THE FUCK UP! If we choose to listen to that voice, we can end up on a serious downward spiral, that only we have the power to stop.
Give yourself one day to really pay attention to the voice in your head. What does it say to you? Does it compliment you in that pretty dress or tell you that you look like a fat slob? Does it pat you on the back for your witty remark or does it insist that you shouldn’t have made that stupid comment because nobody thought it was funny? Does it cheer you on as you hit obstacles and keep moving towards your goal, or does it use these obstacles to discourage you by reminding you that you should have played it safe or that you should quit while you’re ahead? A good way to gauge the volume of your Inner Critic is to really start to listen to it. If the things this voice is saying to you are things you couldn’t imagine saying to somebody that you love, chances are that you shouldn’t be saying them to yourself. The more awareness you bring to this voice, the more opportunities that you have to redirect those thoughts to a more compassionate voice within you.
Don’t be like me…don’t vomit your emotions onto your husband through a two-hour barrage of tears because your Inner Critic got so loud that you couldn’t shut it up! Beat your Inner Critic to the punch. Seek them out before they seek you out. Pay attention to the thoughts in your head and demand compassion from yourself, way more than you demand perfection. What I have found through this entire process, and the reason I’m sharing it with you, is that I am lighter, happier, freer and filled with gratitude at the amazing things in my life. I know for a fact that I will never let my Inner Critic get that loud again because I love myself and I love the people around me and I love that they love me too! That’s a whole lotta love. You should get on this love-train. It’s a fun place to be!
Learn more about me by visiting my website HERE, or join me on FACEBOOK to keep up with classes and events I have coming up. Learn about my 12-week coaching program, “Ascend to New Heights” by watching THIS VIDEO INTERVIEW
I was on the phone earlier today with one of my best friends in the world who always acts as a supportive sounding board when I need to vent, freak out, or just bitch about life in general. Here I am, deep in the throes of complaining about the areas of my life that aren’t moving or progressing quickly enough, when I almost landed my heel squarely on top of an inch worm meandering along the top of my coffee table. He looked up at me with his squishy little inchworm face as if to say, “Listen lady…get that roadblock out of my way…I’m trying to make some progress here!” I moved my foot and marveled as he slowly and steadily continue his trek across the tabletop. “Pete,” I said “I think I have just been given a sign from the Universe!”
Later, my mad Google skills came in handy as I researched the significance of this little guy showing up (I’m all about Spirit Animals). I found my way to an awesome website on the subject (aptly named spirit-animals.com) and the quotation box at the top of the page informed me that this adorable, tiny, green worm was telling me that “Transformation is at hand. Just one more small step and you are there.” I knew I liked him! This little fellow showed up in my life at the perfect moment to help me see the error in my thinking. Instead of seeing all of the things I haven’t been able to accomplish yet, I needed to shift my focus to all of the steps I have taken to move in the direction that I want to be going. Well played Universe.
At some point or another, we are all guilty of thinking this way…probably more often than we might even be aware of. How many times have you mentally beaten yourself up because you haven’t lost the ten pounds, or eliminated sugar from your diet, or run the marathon, or expanded the business to reach another 1000 customers, or paid off all of your credit card debt, or perfected your dance steps, or become a rock star, or performed life-saving surgery, or kept up with your laundry for an entire week, or cooked the perfect chili, or planted a vegetable garden that actually grows??? We could go on forever and ever, but you get the picture. The vast majority of us are CONSTANTLY making ourselves feel like we are less than enough, instead of acknowledging that the process of transformation takes a balanced combination of time, belief in your vision, and perseverance. That’s not to say that miracles don’t happen and you can’t go from picking up the guitar for the first time to overnight rockstar, but again, for the vast majority of us, it’s going to take a little more than that…and that’s OKAY!
We tend to get into this trap of thinking that because we aren’t yet experiencing the reality of the end result that we want, nothing is happening. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Every step that you are taking in the direction of your end goal is getting you closer to reaching it… whether it feels like it right now or not! Think of our little friend the inchworm…if he had gotten so focused on reaching the end of the table how overwhelmed would he be feeling? Probably just enough to stop moving, let out a tiny, exasperated inchworm sigh, and completely give up trying to get there altogether, which would have likely led to my heel landing on him and squishing him right into the table. It would have been a tragedy for the little guy! It’s not that nothing is happening, it’s just that the things that are happening might not be lining up with our perfect time frame, causing fear, self-doubt, and anxiety.
If you happen to find yourself at that intersection of fear and doubt, practice patience with yourself. Instead of focusing on all of the things you haven’t done, make a list of all of the things you HAVE done! Put any silly thing that you can think of on there! Emailed a person that could potentially help you reach your goal, landed your first gig/client/class/etc, daydreamed for twenty minutes on all of the amazing things you were eventually going to create…maybe you just got out of bed and showered even though you were riddled with all of this anxiety! List them ALL, big and small, and refer back to this list every single time that doubt starts to creep back in.
If you feel like you actually haven’t done ANYTHING to start working towards the goal, then now’s the time to do that. First off, set one! Then, make a list of all the steps you will need to take to reach it, and start taking them one inch at a time. When the overwhelm starts to creep in, just take a deep breath and go right back to focusing on the one task at hand.
The fact is, if you do nothing, you are sure to remain where you are. If you start moving, you have nowhere to go but forward. Don’t let yourself get squished to the table by the big heel of self-doubt. Nobody wins that one. And if you need help getting motivated, ask for help! Reach out to your friends, family, mentors, teachers, counselors, coaches (I happen to know a pretty good one), and anybody else who inspires you to dream big and move into your greatness in every capacity! You are the only one who can take the first step!
Learn more about me by visiting my website HERE, or join me on FACEBOOK to keep up with classes and events I have coming up. Learn about my 12-week coaching program, “Ascend to New Heights” by watching THIS VIDEO INTERVIEW
I’m part of this amazing group of people on Facebook whose sole purpose is to light each other up as they pursue the manifestation of their hearts desires in this crazy thing we call life. Some people post in there about their desire to find their true love, some about being financially free, some wanting optimum health, others of their dreams to start a family or a successful business, etc. and so many others in the group offer words of love and encouragement. It’s pretty inspiring, and I find myself wandering into this group whenever I might have a moment where I forget just how much love there is in the world (because let’s face it…it isn’t always sunshine and puppy dogs…there’s a whole lot of mud puddles and shit piles along the way).
Recently, as I perused the feed on this sight, something I hadn’t noticed before caught my eye. Scattered among the stories of successful manifestations and requests for well-wishes, healing thoughts and uplifting comments, was an underlying current of sadness and a feeling of lack. So many of these people posting, weren’t posting about success, but about their failures…an inability to change the things that have been showing up in their lives. Things weren’t happening as fast as they were “supposed to” or they weren’t any “good” at manifesting. They didn’t feel that they had what it takes to get the job done. I sat with this for a few minutes, and I found myself getting increasingly agitated. It took me a while to pinpoint it, but then, there it was. Wow…we are force fed a LOT of bullshit when it comes to the idea of manifesting!!!
Although there are many incredible teachers out there on the subject, somewhere along the line it seems that we started to believe that all we have to do is close our eyes and picture an endless wad of money (or whatever your desire is) filling our back pocket and suddenly, there it will be. Now if that works for you, more power to you (and please call me after you read this so we can chat…I have a few questions to ask you…for a friend) but for the vast majority of us, it’s going to take a little more work than just envisioning what we want in order to actually cultivate it to fruition. It’s going to take an alteration in our relationship to what we are trying to manifest, and than, constant motion in a new direction. Sounds a little more difficult, right? Well, not really. I mean, have you had much luck the other way? If you are still reading this, my guess is that you haven’t, and that’s a little frustrating, right?
“Okay genius…” you may be saying, “so tell me then, how DO I manifest my hearts desires?” My response? Well, now that really depends on YOU. Like I said, manifesting is truly all about changing your relationship to that which you feel like you do not have enough of. The feeling of not having enough is a feeling of lack, and the feeling of lack, in any capacity, is what is limiting your ability to manifest. So then naturally, the first step is to identify what the limiting belief is before you can start to change it. What do you feel like you are lacking, and perhaps more importantly, why do you feel like you are lacking it? Next, set a goal…what do you WISH you could believe about this? Now, it’s time to start making small, tangible steps towards what you would like your new belief to be.
You can’t just say one day “I don’t have enough money” and decide the next day that you will change your thought process to, “I’m a millionaire”. It’s not going to feel real to you….in fact it’s going to feel like complete bullshit, am I right? The key is about baby steps that CAN feel real to you. For example, perhaps the first step is just saying ,”I may not have had enough money in the past, but I know that I have the ability to change that for my future…and here is one way I can start to change that now”. After that it’s just about progressing the thought process until it becomes a more natural way of thinking…a conditioned response if you will. Perhaps after a week of repeating this new possibility to yourself and accomplishing that first step, it feels okay to compound on it. Maybe it becomes, “I have taken the first step towards manifesting my financial freedom and I feel proud of myself for following through. Now I know that I am capable of making changes and the next step towards my ultimate goal will be (insert here).” Once this feels okay, you build on it a little more, each time adding a new goal or task (that’s the constant motion I mentioned) that leads you one step closer to your brand new, shiny belief that you are indeed financially stable and secure (if we are continuing to use the above example). Does this sound familiar at all? In one of my previous blogs I talked about turnarounds…a staple in the coaching business. Well, this is the outline in a nutshell.
Unfortunately, we can’t change (for now) the fact that we DO live in a society that is all about immediate gratification. Doubly unfortunate is that this need for instant gratification is what leads us to feel like we aren’t doing enough, fast enough, in the first place. BUT…as I just gave an example of, the key to undoing the belief systems that have led you to where you find yourself now…a place of lack…IS on your keychain, which means you definitely have the power to unlock a new possibility. Does it suck that it might take a little more work than just closing your eyes and creating a clear picture of the new convertible or the perfect relationship or yourself 40 pounds lighter? Not really! In fact, it’s pretty empowering to know that you can ALWAYS take at least one step away from the things that are weighing you down now in the direction of something else that will make you happier, healthier, more vibrant and whole. You literally never have to stop! If you get somewhere that makes you happy for a while and suddenly one day, you wake up yearning for change…you can start the process all over again! Not to mention, think of how amazing you will feel when you’ve achieved the new belief and you can look back knowing that you did it yourself…not just with the power of your mind, but with the fierceness and devotion of a warrior. Kind of incredible, right? Believe it or not, this journey isn’t about hardships…it’s about what you do with them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the pen is in your hands. Write something worth telling.
I lived in a tent for almost a year once up North. I was 19 years old and had just finished a trip cross-country with my then-boyfriend. We had grandiose visions of a 6-month trip to backpack across Europe and we carefully laid all of the plans. We would set up camp in an empty field on my friends property, spend the summer landscaping ridiculous hours, eat like college freshman and spend every penny we saved on backpacking gear, plane tickets, Eurorail passes and youth hostel reservations. It was fool-proof, right?
Everybody else seemed to think I was crazy. I’ll never forget the look on my poor mother’s face the first day she took the dirt road down my friends property line, swung a hard right into the field and pulled up outside of my new digs. I think she said something along the lines of, “Oh my God, you are kidding me, right?”. Her husband just kept shaking his head as we proudly showed him around, continually mumbling, “Wow” under his breath. My sister laughed her ass off at me and told me what a dipshit I was. Even my cat, Doja, tilted his head disapprovingly when I showed him the perch we built in a nearby tree to keep his food away from the coyotes. He gave me that look implying I must be fucking joking. Had it really come to this? Not that I could actually blame any of them…this wasn’t exactly the first in my long line of questionable decisions, but I wouldn’t be deterred.
I worked my ass off that summer, digging trenches and pits, planting trees, grading properties, spreading mulch and rocks, mowing and trimming trees. Bruises bloomed all over my body with the physical labor and my muscles ached like nothing I have felt before or since. I still have a giant scar on my left thigh from the damned hedge trimmers! The boys called them rat bites, and I imagine the feeling was quite similar. Still, we would go back to the tent each night, full on fast-food, exhausted and sun-drenched, but ready to face the next day with nothing but our end goal in sight. Nothing could slow me down.
While everybody else saw a shitty little tent, boyfriend and I saw freedom and opportunity. I saw myself getting closer and closer to pursuing a dream that I was determined to make happen. I was able to overlook the lack of amenities, running water and hot food. I was able to find some comfort in taking my showers at the landscaping office loft in a rickety stand alone stall while my fellow co-workers milled around below. I was able to smile confidently when others scoffed at what I was doing, because I saw it so differently. It didn’t matter what anybody thought of me…I was following my dreams.
Fast-forward to September 11, 2001. Ring a bell? That’s right…the day the Twin Towers went down. We had been tent-dwelling for 7 months by this point and our departure date was fast approaching. The reality of the news broadcasts hit me like a ton of bricks. Everywhere I turned were warnings that Americans should not travel abroad…that it was not safe. I remained undeterred, still completely convinced that this was my fate, but I was soon to learn that she (fate, that is) is a tricky little Diva. For whatever reason, boyfriend and I had purchased our plane tickets at different times. As we sat down by the light of a kerosene lamp in our teeny little tent, unpacking and repacking our backpacks for practice, something rather important came to our attention. We realized suddenly, that unbeknownst to either of us, we had booked our tickets 10 days apart. I was beside myself pissed! How could this have happened? October 01 was just weeks away and, instead of getting on a plane to skip off to London for an adventure, I would have to spend another 10 days milling around Cape Cod while a gray, dismal Autumn set upon it. Boyfriend urged me to stay positive and promised to meet me back in London the day my flight came in. He left a few weeks later, leaving me and my tent and the gray weather some time to think.
During this time of introspection, a few things became clear to me. The first was that lots of people had some pretty valid reasons why they didn’t want me to take this trip. I was urged not to go by every childhood friend I’d ever had, my parents, my sister and countless others, which of course, only made me want to go more. Then one night, I had a random conversation with a stranger, and for whatever reason, his words resonated and I had a moment of realization that indeed, this was not my trip. It was boyfriends trip and I was just along for the ride, living somebody else’s dream. This knowledge was further compounded when 2 days later, 3 days before my flight was set to depart, I received notification from boyfriend that he had missed his flight back to London and would not, indeed, be able to pick me up at the airport. I would have to meet him in Amsterdam. I clenched my teeth and painstakingly made the decision to cancel my trip.
All of a sudden the tent morphed into something sinister right before my eyes. All of the long summer nights spent sweating my butt off within its walls, sharing a single mattress with a man that moved too much in his sleep, the relentless sweeping and sweeping and sweeping to try to get nature back on the outside of the tent…I resented it all. I hated the musty odor, the way I had worked myself to the bone every day doing physical labor and the fact that I had not a penny to show for it, spent as it had been on this trip. And now, it was getting colder and rainier outside every day and I was sitting here alone…cold, tired, aggravated and feeling like a failure, stewing in all of this anger, while boyfriend flitted across Europe with my portable cutlery set. My perception of the situation transformed as my relationship to it did. Suddenly, I saw no hopes and dreams manifesting, but a waste of 8 months of my life instead.
I share this story for two reasons. Number one, because it was a pretty interesting time in my life and it’s always a funny story to share. Number two, hindsight being 20/20 like it is, I have come to find so much value in this experience and I have realized how greatly it has helped to shape the woman I have become…particularly my rather warped sense of humor (tee hee). Most importantly, it has really helped me to realize how much our perception influences our emotions and life situations. When we can stare a difficult situation in the face and find a silver lining, we are giving ourselves an opportunity to create possibility for something positive. In coaching, this is called a turnaround. Alternately, if we get so entrenched in the negative aspects of a situation, we are allowing ourselves to fall prey to its perceived power over us. In coaching, we call this a limiting belief, holding us back from the greater possibility that lies within the lesson. In the story above, my relationship to the greater goal helped me drive myself forward and look beyond the hardships of the situation, however when that goal was removed, it was easy to let myself slip into dismal territory.
This happens so often. Maybe all of a sudden the job you prepared for, interviewed for and were hired for, loses its luster 5 years down the road. Perhaps its a relationship you are in or a way of thinking that has become engrained. Possibly its a habit you deem bad. Your wants and needs have changed and whatever you are doing, isn’t growing with you. Do you sit back and stay where you are, knowing that perhaps its “easier” or it’s what’s expected of you, even though your relationship to the situation has changed, or do you see that you are being offered an opportunity to change? Do you get lost in the routine and monotony, or do you find the silver lining? What have you learned from this place which has provided tools for you moving forward?
So where are you holding yourself back? Where are you perceiving the people, circumstances and situations that make up your life in a negative light? Where are you getting stuck? Name all of those things, and then spend some time searching for the possibility. What have you learned from these perceived trials? What might they potentially blossom into for you if you could try to see them in a more positive frame? How have these things helped to motivate and inspire the current you? How have they showed you who you are and what you want from life?
Each of us holds the key to our own happiness. The pen is in your hand, so write the story that you want to live. If what you’ve written so far isn’t making you feel happy or excited, crumple up the paper and start over again. Change your perception and change the whole game. You are the only one who can decide whether to see it as a tent or the Taj Mahal.
Note: The above picture is not of my camp sight, but it definitely gives the basic idea.
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We were a few weeks into my Yoga Teacher Training, the whole lot of us shimmying around periodically on mats and blankets and bolsters in an effort to bring feeling back into our asses. It felt like the 10-hour long Saturdays, most of them spent sitting on the studio floor, were starting to wear my sit bones down to bloody stumps, but there was literally NOWHERE I would have rather been. I loved reading, listening and writing about this amazing, potentially 10,000 year old tradition. I loved deciphering the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras. I loved bending my body into shapes I didn’t know existed and challenging it in ways I never would have thought to do so. Most of all, I loved experimenting with all of the exercises that forced me to experience the mind, body, breath connection ingrained within us all. Learning about the ways that our bodies hold our past experiences and how this energy gets trapped within us…I was hooked. It was this night, sitting in this cozy studio among my fellow seekers, fully engrossed in listening to my teacher, Scott Feinberg, that he said the three words that I have revisited time and time again since, that truly changed my life. “Own Your Bigness!”
I had spent the past 15 years or so struggling to find my place, dealing with divorced parents, a tragic accident at a young age, a move to Florida, several abusive relationships, a bumpy ride with recreational drugs, and then the transitions into adulthood as I got married, bought a home and had two children. I struggled with motherhood, constantly questioning my right to these two amazing souls who had come to me. I found myself quieter, more withdrawn and really fighting to maintain my self esteem. I battled with depression on and off, and only began to remedy it when I found yoga. For whatever reason, as I sat here this Saturday, these three words struck a nerve in me like nothing else ever had. My bigness? Shit, did I have any of that left? I know I used to have bigness. I used to own the crap out of it! Where did it go and was it really, as he was suggesting, possible to get it back just by owning it? How does one go about owning their bigness and if there’s a course on it…where the hell do I sign up?
I began to use these words as my mantra, repeating them to myself over and over and over again every single time I was faced with a challenge. “Own it, Jillian. Own your bigness. Nobody else is going to own it for you.” At first it felt a little fake and forced, but the more I said it, the more it grew inside of me. It continued to blossom through the rest of my training until it was REALLY put to the test the day I taught my first real yoga class. I must have said that phrase in my head 400 million times as I stood outside the studio door trying to catch my breath and not faint in front of my students. I thought for certain I would throw up or lose my words or die of embarrassment as I crossed the threshold and took my place at the front of the class. Go figure, I actually survived that day and have gone on to enjoy teaching. Can you believe it? I couldn’t even fathom it at the time.
So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, these three words started a new pattern in my head…a new way of thinking, which has led to a whole new way of life for me. These three words have allowed me to continue on my path and have moved me in the direction I’m pointed now, life coaching with others to teach them how to break down their own thought patterns and create something new and fresh and beautiful, beyond their past experiences. These three words have taught me that being our own biggest cheerleader is the most important and heartfelt gift we can give, not only to ourselves, but to those around us. When we can learn to allow ourselves to own our own bigness…no, not just allow…INSIST that we do it, we are offering our best self to those around us as well. Suddenly our limitations start to fall away as we connect to this powerhouse of energy, love, possibility and bravery within us. The coolest part is that we ALL have it. It’s not limited to the super rich or mega popular or the extremely good looking. It’s only limited to us if we allow it to be.
The best part about all of this for me? Well, I’ve gotten to pair up my love of inspiring this excitement and truth in others with my love for the mind, body, breath connection. Working with the Chakra system (the main energy centers in the body where we store emotions and experiences), I have been able to use a 12-week program written by my teacher, Amy Lombardo, to help my clients navigate the areas in their own lives where they may not be owning their bigness. I have watched transformation after beautiful transformation. I have witnessed intense releases of past hurts and that moment where something becomes fully clear within you. I have seen my clients grow beyond their own limitations and far exceed their own assumptions of what they were capable of. It has been beautiful, liberating, humbling and eye opening for me, and keeps me a student even as I progress on my path as a teacher. It seems that just at that moment where I’m starting to doubt my own bigness again, I watch something amazing happen and I am reminded of all that is possible when we believe in ourselves. If you had asked me once what I thought I would be doing for a living, I never could have foreseen this, and I couldn’t ask for more.
So teach the class, stand up and tell that idea you think is too stupid to share, apply for the job you want, take a leap of faith, ask him/her out on a date…and BELIEVE in yourself. Own your bigness, because nobody else can do it for you.
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Every morning that we wake up, we are given a unique opportunity to approach the gift of this day from a place of peace that resides deep within us. In this place, there is no self-judgement, no shame, no comparing ourselves to others, and no apologies for the things which make us different. This is a place where we are fully connected to what makes us the fascinating, ever-changing, talented, powerful beings that we are. It sounds like a dream, right? Well, however elusive this magical place feels to you at this given moment, it may help to hear that it is so much closer than you think. Right at your fingertips, actually, and all you have to do is learn how to access it.
We are brought into this world relying on others. Our families keep us safe, warm, fed, and clothed, as well as offering us boundaries and rules. Our teachers, communities, and peers expand on these boundaries, educate us, and offer us endless opportunities to connect. We realize at a very young age the need for human connection, for without it, it would be impossible for us to thrive. These are all necessary steps on our journey through this life, however, a problem can begin to arise when we put so much emphasis on what others can do for us, that we forget what we are capable of doing for ourselves. This absence of recognition in our own abilities can lead to an extremely distorted image of self-worth. This is often where our paths begin to veer from all that we are destined to become, instead moving us to a place where we settle for wherever we are. This is the place where dreams are lost and life becomes a monotonous routine of daily tasks and disappointments. Not to say that we are unable to find happiness, but that our happiness loses the technicolor it once held for us. We find ourselves at a crossroad, where we feel disconnected from ourselves, without quite being able to explain what it is that’s making us feel this way. This is a time of choice. This is where we are confronted with the opportunity to access this place of inner reserve.
To our left, we see our life the way it is. The landscape is flat and drab, but predictable and comfortable as well. To our right, we see a mountainous terrain full of possibility and excitement, but also riddled with deserts of fear and unknowing. We know that if we take a step to the left, we are choosing to be content with our discontent, and allowing our dreams to slip further from our grasp to possibly be rediscovered later down the line. If we take a step to the right, however, we realize there is no turning back, for once we have begun to embark on this path, we will never again feel content living in the familiar. If we choose to go right, we are choosing a path of self-discovery; one that will surely be difficult and scary at times and which will definitely push us far outside of our comfort zones. We are choosing to shed our limiting beliefs and go in search of the truth that is burning deep in the core of our being. We fight back our doubts, and allow that nagging curiosity to win out…we take a step to the right.
As the next leg of our journey begins, our light instantly begins to burn brighter. We start to look at ourselves from an angle of interest. Our passion is reignited as we dig through the layers upon layers of conditioned responses that have accumulated throughout the years, only to discover little gems of our own personal wisdom buried within the debris. We begin to realize that we have been seeking outside of ourselves for answers that we had all along. We start to remember that we DO know who we are, that we DO know what’s best for us, and that we CAN trust ourselves. We begin to play games with the friend we have found in our intuition, testing its knowledge time and time again, to find that the more we trust it, the more keen it becomes. With this dawning sense of self, our confidence is boosted. We realize that we have something to offer. We start to understand that we are here for a reason and that life is not just some series of banal tasks that need to be accomplished. We start to take back the power that we have given away over the years, and the connection that we once desired begins to change shape. We no longer feel the desire to be connected from a place of lack or need, but rather we long to be connected to bask in other peoples light, to shine our own out, and to lift one another up as we each continue on our paths. Our passion is in full flame, and nothing can stop us from moving full steam ahead.
Oftentimes when we reach this place, we may feel the need to scream out to others, so sure that we have found the key to happiness. However, we must remember that life is about balance. Although we have found our way to higher ground, there will still be valleys we must cross, this time equipped with new tools to help us battle the shadows we find, both in ourselves and in others. This journey is never over. Each time we climb to a new plateau, there is another opportunity to climb higher still. Perhaps we even go back down a bit before we ascend further, hopefully lifting others up with us when it is time again to climb. You may even find yourself stagnant in one place for a while, but the best part about the journey is that you can never unlearn the things that you have learned along the way, and so inevitably it will continue eventually. The first step is simply to take the first step.
There are so many ways you can do this. Join a group in your community with the similar interest of embarking on a journey to their highest self, buy a guided journal, go on YouTube to access guided visualizations, start a meditation practice, or hire a life coach who you trust to help you navigate the journey (I know a pretty good one… AHEM). Whatever it looks like for you, take the first step, and I know you will be amazed to watch all of the next steps start to fall into place. Life’s an adventure. Live it up.
Thich Nhat Hanh once said that “Compassion is a verb”. A verb is a word used to describe an action. Compassion is defined on Dictionary.com as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune”; a feeling…a noun. Although there is a clear paradox in these two definitions, Hanh’s statement is truly powerful. He is implying that compassion is not a passive state of being…it’s not just a feeling. The state of compassion points us to a need for action.
The world is currently in a sad shape, so surrounded are we by hatred, fear, war, and adversity. Countries are bombing one another over the very things we should be coming together over. God, no matter what name you call Him/Her/It by, should be a unifying force between us, and yet our need to be right continuously throws up senseless barriers. Natural disasters are wiping out countries that are living in absolute squalor, yet we have building materials stocking shelves in every Home Depot across the country, sitting unused. Children across the world are starving, and here we are with a Publix on every single corner. I could go on and on and on. We have all experienced that moment, watching the news, sick to our stomach at the turmoil we are seeing on the screen, wondering how people can do these things to one another, to the planet, etc. We watch helplessly on, feeling sympathy for others in their suffering and wishing there was something we could do about it. However, can you imagine what kind of a world we could create if, together, we put some action behind these feelings?
This post is not meant to be depressing, nor is it meant to be a rant about all of the things we are doing wrong as a society. It is simply meant to raise awareness. How are YOU showing up each day? Are you putting action behind your compassion? It’s so easy to get caught up in the feeling of being one, small voice, but we are each so much bigger than that if we simply TRY to be heard. One small voice becomes two small voices, and then three and four, and eventually hundreds of voices getting louder and louder and louder, until perhaps the day comes where our voices boom louder even than the poverty, louder than the hunger, louder than the bombs ravaging countries. However, if we allow ourselves to fall back into this helplessness we may feel, we are relinquishing any power that we could potentially have to positively impact our future and the lives of those around us.
Each of us will leave our impact differently. Maybe we become the voice for those without the resources to speak out, maybe we raise money for a cause we are passionate about, or maybe we fly abroad to volunteer in impoverished countries. Maybe our role in the process is as simple as lending an ear to someone who needs to be listened to, or offering a smile and a hug to someone who is going through a tough time. All of these acts, no matter how big or small, matter. YOU matter! Your voice matters. Your decision to take action rather than submit to the world as it is, matters. SO. VERY. MUCH.
As we approach a new week, I urge each and every one of you to use each day within it to take some form of action. Where does your compassion draw you? What cause, circumstance, person, or charity needs your one, small voice, so that theirs can grow loud enough to be heard? Start simple. Write a blog, send a love letter, share a smile, buy the guy in line behind you a cup of coffee without telling him. Every act of compassion ignites a spark in its recipient and any others lucky enough to watch it happen. Be that spark. We are all one family, all wanting the same things from this life. Safety, security, happiness, triumph, peace, and love. You, no matter who you are, have the opportunity to help provide these things to people all across the board, whether you know it or not. Your one, simple smile could be just the thing that ignites the spark in another, who then goes off to change the world. You never know how powerful you are, but know that you are far more powerful than you think.
How many times have you had the same conversation over and over and over again? There’s that one person who constantly feels the need to tell you their story, their hardships, their accomplishments, or what they said to the Comcast guy when he was late for their appointment….even though you have heard this story SO MANY TIMES! Whether it be with your spouse, children, coworkers, bosses, or maybe the guy at the gas station, we often find ourselves stuck in these cycles of endless conversation. It’s easy in these situations to get frustrated and cast our aggravations on the other person. We ask things like, “Why don’t they get it? We keep having this conversation!”, or “How many times is he going to tell me this? He’s like a broken record!” Think about one of those situations in your own life. Get a clear picture of it in your head. Imagine the words being spoken, see the other persons face. Start to feel the reaction in your body. Is your jaw clenching? Maybe your shoulders are beginning to creep up towards your ears? Are you crossing your arms? Do you feel tired, bored, or drained?
Now, let’s switch gears for a minute. Think of a time when YOU have been the one feeling like you have to say the same thing over and over again. Maybe it’s reminding your kids to put their clothes in the hamper, nagging your spouse to help around the house without being asked, telling the story of that time you scored the game-winning touchdown…..in high school…..25 years ago. Yep…we ALL do it. Now try to pay attention to where it may be coming from. Dig deep here. Why do you tell this story? How does it make you feel? What’s your role in the story? Are you the victim, hero, martyr? What is it that makes you constantly go here? Likely, you will come to the conclusion that, no matter how many times you are repeating yourself, you don’t feel as if you are being heard, appreciated or validated in whatever it is you are trying to express.
There is a big difference between listening and ACTIVELY listening. We live in an age where it is not only easy, but NORMAL, to be bombarded by distractions everywhere we turn. The smartphone pings one of several tones…you race to discover if it was an email, text, Facebook, Instagram, or voicemail notification. (Actually, it was WordPress letting you know I just posted another RADICAL blog post, but I digress). The point is, there are so many reasons NOT to focus on the person right in front of us, that why would we feel like we are being heard? The sad thing here is that, as a society, we are losing focus on how important communication is, and in losing this focus, we are beginning to lack understanding of just how powerful listening can be.
When we create a space where someone feels truly listened to, the possibilities are endless. When we hold a place for honest expression, stories begin to lose importance, because they no longer define the person telling them. The story teller no longer feels the need to identify so strongly with these memories, habits, or routines which may have been holding them back. Feeling truly heard, we are able to move on to better stories. Imagine this…think back on a conflict in your life where you felt like your voice was not being heard. Maybe you are fighting with your significant other, and it feels as though everything you say is being turned around. Finally, you bow out of the conversation defeated, realizing that you are getting nowhere. You feel a sense of hopelessness, perhaps some anxiety and frustration. You call a friend, or your mom, or you sit down next to your dog, and they LISTEN! THEY TRULY LISTEN! Like, let you have the floor, freak the BEEP out, say everything and anything you need to say without interjecting, forming opinions, or offering unsolicited advice, cry, scream, punch a pillow…whatever it is, without judgment. How do you feel? A rush of relief? A little silly for getting so heated? Validation? Whatever you are feeling, I can almost guarantee you when your significant other walks back into the room, the thing you were discussing so feverishly will have lost a lot of importance, because you no longer feel that burning desire to be heard.
Sometimes we just need to be heard, without being labeled as right or wrong. It’s that simple.
I’m not suggesting that we need to enable our friends and loved ones who are stuck in these patterns, but am merely offering that perhaps if you truly listen to what they are saying, you might hear something entirely different underneath. Are there those who are married to their stories? Unfortunately yes, there are, but you don’t have to engage with those people. However, if you are experiencing these cycles with people you love, than chances are there is just something not being said, or something not being heard. Listen up, and you may be surprised at what you find. The coolest part about this, is the more that we begin to incorporate it in our lives, the less we will find ourselves caught in these cyclical conversations, because people will feel as though we heard them the first time.
So, how can you bring this into your life? Take the next 24 hours and observe your habits in conversation. Notice if you are fidgeting, thinking about other things, fixated on an ant climbing up the wall behind the other persons head (I know…I’ve done it too). Are you able to make eye contact? Can you keep your thoughts directed on what the other person is saying? Just observe yourself without judgement and begin to acknowledge how you might incorporate more positive interaction with those around you, and make THAT your practice for the following 24 hours. Make a diligent effort to be a better listener and see what happens. Take notes…write down any differences you notice in how others interact with you. Share your results in the comments section below. I’m excited to see if anything changes for you.