Tag: change your life
Open to Grace
In Yoga Teacher Training, we are taught that opening up to grace is an integral part of our practice. It’s that moment in a yoga class where your teacher is instructing you to settle into the space around you, let go of thoughts, worries and to-do lists that might be sabotaging your relaxation, and let yourself become present and aware so that you can receive your yoga practice. In a dimly lit studio, sprawled out on your mat, with no disturbances other than the gentle sound of you and your neighbors breathing, soft music playing in the background of your thoughts, this can be a relatively easy and safe space to do just that…to completely let go. After all, that’s why you are there in the first place, right? What happens, though, when you’re not on your mat? Opening to grace feels a lot more difficult to do when you are in the throes of your day to day activities, children arguing in the background, a pile of bills arriving in the mail, stacks of paperwork to get through at the office, a lawn to mow, and the mountain of laundry spilling out of your clothes hamper staring at you every time you enter your room. However, these are the times when opening to grace is absolutely the most important.
Grace is defined by dictionary.com as “simple elegance or refinement of movement”, but to me, it is so much more than that. It is a willingness to surrender to the truth that we are each going through exactly the things that will help us to become the best versions of ourselves, even (especially) in the moments where it feels completely the opposite. It is the ability to find strength in our struggles and to participate fully and completely in all aspects of our lives, good, bad, scary, exciting, or otherwise. It is the knowledge that our perception of what is happening in our lives is so much more important than the situations themselves, because the situations are impermanent. It is the power to stand strong through the storms, holding firm to the knowledge that calmer waters are ahead of us and that there is an important lesson for our soul within each and every moment. How amazing would it feel to bring the same peace, calm and quiet that you find on your mat, or out in nature, or in your bath (or whatever it is that you do to connect to this space) into the daily situations that are a natural part of life? Well, you can, which is pretty good news.
Take a minute to inventory what’s going on in your life that’s stressing you out or causing worry or fear. Write it all down. Read it back to yourself without any judgement. Instead, maybe you can find a little curiosity. What is your soul trying to help you to learn by these difficult situations? For most of us, our difficulties often become repeating patterns, causing us to feel like something is wrong with us or that we are just destined to always have this particular issue in our lives, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. These moments that challenge us are opportunities for us to get know ourselves better. For example, if you are somebody who is constantly struggling financially and worried about how to pay the bills, this might be your soul telling you that your job is not in alignment with what you really want. It may also be an indication that you have some limiting beliefs around money that need to be acknowledged and explored so that prosperous energy feels welcome to flow into your life. If you find yourself struggling with relationship after relationship, perhaps it is your soul trying to urge you to look in a different place, or to learn to love yourself first so that you can openly receive true love back. Maybe it is an indication that you subconsciously don’t feel worthy of love and so you are inadvertently pushing it away.
Remember, we attract the energy that we put out…like attracts like. Therefore, it’s not what we WISH we believed or what we WANT to believe, but the actual beliefs stored deep, down within us, that are shaping our realities. It can be scary to dig down and unearth them, but consider for a moment, a diamond. My dear friend and colleague, Amy Lombardo, put this in such great perspective for me. Diamonds are formed way down in the Earth’s mantle (about 100 miles deep), and start as chunks of coal. It takes a tremendous amount of heat and pressure to create this sparkly gem, but once the work has occurred, the diamond is pushed to the surface naturally for all to enjoy. Your thoughts are like these diamonds. YOU have that same sparkly gem deep within in you, just waiting to be exposed to the heat so that it can emerge and shine brightly out to the world. When you can accept that knowledge and open to grace, knowing that you have a deep well of untapped potential within you and the power to change your reality, the world opens back to you. Your sparkly gems are naturally pushed to the surface and the Universe responds by shining back.
Where in this very moment can you open yourself to grace? Where can you replace fear with curiosity, and hopefully learn something about yourself through the process? Start right now. The more that you practice this the easier it becomes. Opening to grace is not something that needs to be confined to your yoga mat. It is accessible in each and every moment to help you come back to center, find your calm and elevate yourself towards all of the possibility just waiting to be discovered within you!
If you need some help unearthing your spark, please visit my website HERE to learn more about transitional life coaching and my 12-week program, Ascend to New Heights.
Ripping Off the Band-aid
Jim Morrison…you’ve got to love him. Not only was he excruciatingly gorgeous with a voice and stage presence that could melt the polar ice caps, but he said some pretty brilliant shit as well. We may never know if it was the many hits of acid speaking or if it really was his Indian spirit guide, but whatever the source of his words, they were undeniably insightful and still hold impact and validity today. How many times have you caught yourself gripped in the ruthless hands of fear?
We live in a society that is largely ruled by fear. From the time that we are born we are conditioned to be afraid of things. Some of it is necessary to our survival, such as not touching the stove or sticking a fork in the electrical socket, but many of the other things that we are taught to be afraid of can thwart our growth in so many ways. We are taught largely to listen to others which causes fear of our own inner voice. We are taught to follow the norms of society which can lead us to fear the decision to carve out our own authentic paths and follow our dreams. We are taught to compare ourselves to others, which births the fear of never being enough within ourselves. We are taught to fear being without material possessions, which causes feelings of greed within us. We are taught to fear the things/people/places which we do not fully understand, which can prevent us from educating ourselves about the different cultures, religions, races, sexual orientations and physical landscapes that surround us in this amazingly diverse world. In short, our fear begins to shape us from our initial breaths on this Earth and continues to shape shift as we experience the world. But what if we could change that? What if we could look closely at our fears…stare them straight in the face, stand up boldly and move bravely into them? What is the worst that would actually happen?
Take a moment to think back on all of the things you have been afraid of in your life and write them down. We’re going to use them in a minute. Yeah, I know, it’s a big list, right? When I think back on my fears what I notice is a progression. When I was in my early 20’s I had been through some terrible relationships (I mean like surrrrrrrrrrriously, abusively bad) and I swore I was done dating. Then I met Josh. I was terrified of him because I knew I really liked him. Then he asked me to marry him and I became afraid of that. What if it didn’t work out? Then we got married and decided to get pregnant…new biggest fear as my belly expanded and my whole world threatened to change. Eight and a half months pregnant, we found our first home, closing ten days prior to the birth of our son…#freakingout. Here comes Jacob…motherhood became the thing I feared the most because I had no idea how to do it. Then Josh lost his job. New mortgage, new baby, no job…does it get more terrifying? I swore we were doomed…until Josh decided to start his own business (which of course scared the crap out of us both as well). Suddenly, another baby was on the way. Jocelyn was born and I quit my job to stay at home with them…this became the scariest decision of my life, but I did it anyway. This progression continued on and on, presenting me with new fears along the way, until finally one day, I realized that it wasn’t the situations themselves that were terrifying me, but my reaction to them. I started to look back at this long laundry list of fear I had been carrying around with me and realized that as each new fear had arisen and I had moved through it, the fear for that particular event had dissipated and morphed into a new fear. It dawned on me that there will always be things to be afraid of, but it is up to me whether or not I let the fear have control. I have a choice in each situation to square up against my fear and challenge it, and so do you.
I am happy to report that moving through my personal fear has led me to a 10-year (this July) marriage to my best friend and the most amazing guy I know, 2 kick-ass little kids who challenge me to grow, expand and be a better person each day, a beautiful home that is my sanctuary, my husband and I each owning our own business and the fortitude to keep moving through fear as it shows up. That’s important to acknowledge by the way…I still get afraid. All the time actually. Life isn’t always sunshine and butterflies. My husband and I argue, my kids can act like little shits, my home needs repairs and our businesses fluctuate through good and bad times (and the bad times can be REALLY scary), but we keep on keeping on anyway, moving forward with the knowledge that this too shall pass and that we can look our fears in the face and move on anyway.
So where does fear show up for you? Go back to your list. If you didn’t write it, do it now. Take a close look at all of these places that fear has popped up in your life from as early as you can think of. First off, see if you notice any patterns. Are your fears largely based around one particular area? Money? Relationships? Your Career? Self-esteem? Now, notice any of these situations where you faced your fear and moved forward anyway? What was the outcome? If you haven’t had the opportunity to face any of these fears, guess what today is? That’s right, your opportunity. You don’t have to dive in headfirst, but think of a way that you can start to move into your fear slowly. If your fear is primarily surrounding relationships, maybe today is the day you finally make that online dating profile (don’t worry…you don’t have to go live until tomorrow). If your self-esteem is taking the hit, maybe today is the day to buy the dress you’ve always wanted, even though your head screams that you’re not feminine enough to pull it off. Tomorrow, rock it. Each day take baby steps to move into your fear. You will likely find that the further you go, the less powerful it becomes.
Interested in life coaching with me? Visit 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
Can I Tell You Just How Powerful You Are?
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.
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The Power of Active Listening
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.
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Find Joy in the Little Things
I woke up early this morning….really, really, really early, and for some reason I just could not go back to sleep. Typically this would annoy me, but I paused for a moment and listened into the sound of absolute silence throughout my house. I took a breath, threw back the covers, and decided to shift my mental state and take advantage of this rare moment where my house was actually calm and quiet. I tiptoed out to the living room, quietly closing bedroom doors as I passed, snuggled up on the couch under a blanket, and took some time to journal and read. By the time my daughter (pictured above in her own beautiful expression of pure joy as she played on a beach in Maine) finally came out with the breaking of the morning sun, I was feeling completely relaxed and ready to start the day.
This is what finding joy in the little things means to me. All it takes is that split second decision to change our mindset and choose to find a positive in whatever annoyance, boring task, challenge, unexpected situation, or unwelcome person shows up in our lives. Do you know what I found? As my morning progresses, I have been able to find joy in all sorts of other little things without even having to try, because making the decision to start the day off that way has set the tone and intention for the rest of it. I found myself willing to sit an extra ten minutes this morning snuggling with my kids and asking them how their sleep was, as opposed to jumping up and rushing around. I found myself watching their sweet, sleepy expressions more closely as they described to me the contents of their dreams. I found myself giggling uncontrollably as my giant dogs tore out into the yard, exhilarated that the air was actually COOL this morning (always a big shocker when you live in Florida and are recovering from another brutally hot summer). At the grocery store, I was so happy with every item I put in my cart, realizing how lucky I am to be able to provide my family with nourishing food. I felt amazingly accomplished walking back into the house, laden down with grocery bags, knowing that the rest of the day is open to so many brilliant possibilities. And even now, I find myself thankful for the opportunity to share these experiences with you…and I also find myself eager to post this so I can see where else I might find joy today.
Buddha said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so let us all be thankful.” If we could all live by these words, how different our society would be! If we were able to fill up on hope, possibility, curiosity, thankfulness, and little joys, even in the face of adversity…fear and hatred would be eliminated. We don’t have to force others to feel this way, but we do have an obligation as part of our human family, to start with ourselves and begin to pay attention to where we are putting our energy. Where could you start today to see joy in the mundane, the aggravation, or the challenge? It’s still early in the day…press the reset button if you need to and start living from that place now. Happy Sunday!
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Let Yourself Dream BIG…
If I could give you one piece of advice today, the title of this blog post sums it up. Let yourself dream BIG! I’m not talking kind of big, or a little big, or big just to the point where it feels attainable….I’m talking REAL BIG! Envision your life exactly the way you would ideally love for it to be, and actually allow yourself to marinate in it for a bit. Set a timer, lay down somewhere super comfy, close your eyes, and see it all up close and personal. Imagine it as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Walk through the corridors of your mansion on the water, feel the wind blowing through your hair as you race down an abandoned road with the top down in your new convertible, smell the decadent meals being prepared for you from your gourmet kitchen, gaze into the eyes of your soul mate as they happily gaze back, climb to the top of a mountain and listen to the sounds of nature and solitude, feel the burn of the warm sand on your back as you relax beneath a cloudless, blue sky with the sounds of the ocean crashing on the shore. Let yourself be fully present to all of these sensations, and make time to do it EVERY DAY!
I know where your mind might be going right now…yep, I’m onto you. “Here she goes…she’s read too many damn New Age books and thinks that doing all this is going to miraculously manifest all of these things into my life. Well, it sounds like bullshit to me.” Well guess what? I have some good news…it sounds like bullshit to me too…and miraculous manifestation is NOT what I’m suggesting. Does that stuff work? I’m sure it probably does for some, but for the rest of us, it probably takes a little more determination, flexibility, hard work, and bravery to achieve real tangible results. So what IS the point of all of this daydreaming?
Daydreaming is what’s going to keep your soul alive and bursting with creativity as you move through the challenges, speed bumps, and even the little victories, that will inevitably appear as you continue on your life path. The fact is, making your dreams come true WILL take effort on your part, but that doesn’t mean that it has to suck. Taking the time to reconnect to the grandiose vision of your perfect life that you have in your head, reignites the spark and fuels the fire of whatever end result excites you. It also keeps you open to the possibilities that truly exist. Success, happiness, peace, balance, health, vitality, prosperity…these are not things solely available to those born to privilege or to gurus, wise men, or other spiritually enlightened beings. These gifts are available to each of us, although our path to achieving them will look different across the board. If somebody handed you a present with your name on it, would you say, “No thanks, I’m cool.” or would you eagerly grab the present, rip the paper off it, throw back the damn lid and WOO HOO with delight at the sparkly ball of possibility that sat inside? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’d politely refuse too…..NOT!
So what’s the next step? Maybe all this daydreaming stuff still feels a little weird to you. Maybe you are a little curious. Hell, maybe you’re not even reading this anymore because you are laying on your bed with your eyes closed and a big, silly-ass grin on your face! Wherever you are, it’s the perfect place to start. Grab a journal, answer the questions I’ve listed below, and start creating this vision for yourself. Go BIG…remember, we’re talking REAL BIG! MTV Cribs BIG, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous BIG, Harlequin romance novels BIG….they are your dreams….OWN THEM. You have them for a reason! Are you ready? Good! Remember to get as specific and detailed as you can. Grab a pen and write this down:
In my ideal vision of my life:
What does my romantic life look like?
Where am I living?
What am I doing for work?
How much money am I making?
Who am I friends with?
Where/when/how often am I vacationing?
What are some risks I am taking or ways I am challenging myself?
How am I giving back to others?
What does my spiritual practice look like?
Okay, this is a good start….now KEEP GOING! Write so much your hand hurts and your heart is pounding from all of the excitement you’ve generated. And then read it back to yourself, add anything else you might want to add, and read it again. Read it every day. Dream it every night. Make it your mantra. And start taking REAL steps towards making it happen EVERY SINGLE DAY! That will be different for each of us, but choose just ONE thing. Maybe you are looking for a new relationship, so each week you commit to going on one date, or putting yourself in one place that would be good to meet your ideal mate, or going to get yourself a makeover so you feel amazing and bold and ready to knock ’em dead.
We are all rock stars in our own rights. YOU have the key to your happiness. You won’t find it anywhere else. Dream big and open some doors!
Pre-conditioning….and a Dog Named Bacon