Lately it seems so acceptable, even normal, to talk or joke about “needing” our daily glass of wine to take the “edge off”, or just to relax, yet so “strange” or almost “taboo” when someone says, “I am having a rough time keeping my shit together these days and could really use some support?” Isn’t it really the same thing? Or is sticking with the wine more like saying, “I’m struggling to keep my shit together but I’m going to numb that with my wine so that I can wake up and do all the same things tomorrow and hope it ends different.”?

I don’t drink, not because I think there’s anything wrong with it, or because I “have my shit together” but, in a nutshell, my Dr. told me not to. I now have almost no tolerance for any alcohol. Does that mean I never enjoy a glass of wine, no, but it is rare, and I’m still surprised at how uncomfortable I seem to make people by not drinking. Why is that? Is it that people think I’m judging them negatively for drinking? Do they think it’s bad that their drinking? If not, why would I? Do they think I’m saying, “I don’t need it”? Would that mean I think they do? Why would I think that?

I actually used to wish I could have that wine, sometimes to “take the edge off”, but more often just to blend in. But what would that mean, that making others feel comfortable is more important than my health? Actually, if I didn’t have three sons counting on me to be their mom, I probably would have chosen to blend in more often, but not anymore. And that makes me wonder…how many others are in a similar situation? How many of us are just trying to blend in, and Why?

I see Facebook posts, hear jokes in exercise classes, and even see diets that make sure to include that glass of wine. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help wondering why so many women, many moms, caretakers and professionals, find it more acceptable to talk about their wine habits then about why they “need” it? I fully understand and appreciate that, for some, it’s truly the enjoyment of the beverage, and for others it serves as a sort of meditation because they make a point to sit, relax, and breathe while enjoying their wine. But what about those of us who drink our wine, or take our anti-depressants/anxiety/etc. pills, because we need them? Do we really “need” them…or is it just a habit?

Recently I was at a cocktail party and I felt as though I was witnessing a competition over who has that first glass sooner after getting home; it was received as normal, even admirable. As if the more we needed the glass the more overworked and underappreciated we were and, somehow, that was being worn like a badge..? What is up with that? I get it, it’s what our society has become…blah blah blah, but really? Are we REALLY ok with that? Are we happy? Who cares how much you work, how many things you have, etc. if it doesn’t make you happy? Who are you doing it for? Do you think that anyone who loves you wants to see you NOT happy?

What if we, as women, just decided to be honest with each other instead of trying to impress each other? What if we just started talking to each other?  What if we just started being true to ourselves? What if we worried less about what our social medial followers thought of us and more about what the people who truly loved us thought? Would it change anything?

I decided to be “brave” at the cocktail party and I asked some of these questions… Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’ve learned not to value myself based on others opinions…it pretty much went over like a lead balloon. Maybe it’s just me, but I wish I had spent more of my life cultivating mutual, supporting relationships than I did numbing, blending and pretending not to need anyone, that everything was “fine”, or even “great”.

How many of you judge others the way you perceive them to be judging you? I’m guessing not many, and that’s why I’ve decided to give others the benefit of the doubt that their not judging me either. What’s the point, it’s not like we are going to change anyone’s mind anyway. What people think about you has much more to do with what’s going on with them then anything that’s actually going on with you.  Think about it, if you’re having a great hair day, do you even notice anyone elses hair? But what happens when you go out feeling self conscious about your hair?

After a while, you’re bound to reap what you sew, so be careful; this is your one life, spend it being YOU, not who you think others want you to be. You are unique and special, you were not born to Blend In, you were born to Stand Out, to be the one and only YOU!

Your entire life is made up of tiny little moments, starting now. Who do you want to be and what are you willing to do, be, or not do or be, to achieve that?

           

Our youth is starving for some HOPE, we owe it to them to deliver.

We are all energy; we are all connected…

When we cast our negative energy into the world, it causes a ripple that effects everyone who sees/reads it, they absorb it; if they are in a relatively good space from an energy or mental well-being standpoint, it may not have any immediate effect. However, BE AWARE that the negative energy in your “tiny rant” of opposition, hate, racism, blaming, bashing, accusing, etc… may be the one bit of energy that tips the scales for one individual. It may cause them to go into a downward spiral that they can’t stop, they may hurt themselves or others because of it, if nothing else, they will most likely continue to spread more negative energy into the world. And so it goes…

Of course we all want to find a particular person or thing to blame for things we don’t like, but that’s because we want to believe we can control it. The truth is, we can only control what we take responsibility for, once you give responsibility away, you have given away your control.

So the good news is…we are all responsible for the state of our nation today. Every single one of us. We are either trying to solve the problem or we’re making it worse, but everyone has an effect, there is no neutral.  See, THERE IS NO US AND THEM, there is only US, and we effect each other, intentionally and unintentionally.  The unintentional effect is collateral damage, but guess what? It hurts the same regardless of the intent. Pain doesn’t care if you meant it or not.

Every time we post, snap, protest or whatever it is we do to communicate these days, we have a choice. We can add to the swirling sea of hate, opposition, division, fighting, accusing, blaming, etc.. the negative energy that is obviously swallowing up our youth, or we can JUST STOP.

We can stop and think before we “post”. How do I feel about what I am posting? Does it make me smile inside (positive energy) or does it cause me that burning, shoulder raising feeling (negative energy)? If it doesn’t make you smile, think again…do you really need to post it? Are you solving any problems by doing so or are you just adding your sticks to the fire of negativity that is already incinerating all hope? What is your goal? What are you trying to achieve? And then ask yourself, what are you actually achieving? Is your post really going to do anything besides maybe make you feel better about yourself in some way? And at what cost?  Any chance your words may upset someone? Was that the goal? Did that help the actual problem you claim to be trying to solve?

When is the last time you got someone to listen to you by “yelling” at them or telling them why or how they were wrong? When is the last time that worked on you? Can you get your point across in a way that isn’t negative? Can we realize that we are all trying our best to do what we believe is right and just talk to each other?

What if, at a minimum, we all pledged to put out at least as much positive energy into the internet as we do negative? What if for every post that spews hate, racism, division, fighting, accusing, blame, gloom etc… we posted one that spreads love, connection, peace, helping, congratulating, responsibility, gratitude and/or joy? And if that seems like too much of a challenge, WHY?  

We are without a doubt living in the greatest nation in the world, yet no other nation finds more to complain about…You find what you’re looking for. Focus on the positive and you will help change the world. Ultimately, we ARE what we DO on a regular basis…

What if we pledge to start seeking out and spreading the positive for our youth? What if we go out of our way to give them hope? What if we start now…what have we got to lose?

TIP: If you can’t post it with a heartfelt smile, reconsider. 🙂

 

Love is the party, pain is the hangover… so do you never celebrate again to avoid the hangover…or do you decide the party is worth it and just learn to recover from/treat the hangover?

The hangover may or may not even happen, what if you choose to deal with the magnitude of it only if/when you need to? But don’t let it prevent you from going to the party…this is your one best life.

What if all of life is just figuring out what you need/want/like/etc…through trial and error, nursing yourself back to health, repeat and become stronger in the process.

Not stronger as in “more prepared for a fight” or “better able to handle more without getting hurt”, but stronger as in increased knowledge of yourself and realizing that you will survive, life will go on.  Stronger in the knowledge that you allowed yourself to experience something wonderful and it was worth it. Stronger knowing that you can choose to stay stuck dwelling on your past “mistakes”, or you can acknowledge the strength you received from overcoming them and use it to empower your future.

Life is all about the learning; experimenting, enjoying, failing, succeeding, etc.… But none of those things are possible without leaving our comfort zone and refusing to let fear hold us back.

What are we so afraid of anyway?? You are so much stronger than you know! Let go of your self-limiting beliefs, have faith in who you are and allow yourself to truly LOVE YOUR LIFE!

The voices in your head are merely recordings of your past.  Your deep inner knowing is the truth for your future.

Sit quietly and listen, feel what your body is trying to tell you in a language with no words.

Notice the voices in your head…they are nothing more than your past experiences, childhood memories, etc…your “Nurture”, not necessarily your “Nature”.

As a child, you don’t always have the choice of where you grow up, who you are surrounded by, the experiences you are exposed to, and so on. Yet these are the very things that have created those voices you hear in your head today. From this moment forward, however, you do have the choice! You are no longer that child with limited control over your life, with limited ability for reasoning and distinguishing…today you are a capable individual, capable of making your own decisions, forming your own opinions, behaving the way you feel best represents who you want to be, and choosing to live accordingly.

Your true self, the person you were born to be, has always been within you. Now is your opportunity to reconnect but it will require awareness, patience and trust. You will need to become aware of your “thoughts”about a situation vs. what is true. You will need to be patient and not let yourself react without a pause to consider what you are feeling. The hardest part may be to trust your “feelings” as much as you have trusted your “mind” up until now. You will need to listen carefully; if you have ignored your inner voice for a long time, it make take a while for you to recognize when “its” talking, it make take a while for “it” to recognize that it’s being listened to. Trust and consistency…

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”  – Henry David Thoreau

Fill your mind with the voice of your own heart, make your thoughts intentional.

This is your one life, you are unique for a reason; BE YOU, not who your mind believes you SHOULD be.  Never forget to include yourself on your list of most influential people in your life…you are the only one guaranteed to live with the consequences of your choices.

Trust your feelings, create new recordings in your mind, your past is behind you but the rest of your life is just beginning…enjoy the process!

Life is merely a collection of moments, strung together in chronological order. Imagine if you could find a tool that allowed you to get just a little more out of each moment…how much more that could mean for your life?

Recently, I was on a retreat.  One morning we had the opportunity to attend a guided meditation in a beautiful Sanctuary. After the session, I strolled down to an area called “Serenity”, where a bench overlooks a beautiful little pond filled with lotus blossoms preparing to bloom for the day. As I sat quietly, an older woman came by and asked if I minded if she shared the space with me. I happily moved over and we both sat, in silence, staring out over the pond.

Suddenly she exclaimed, “I just don’t really get meditation”. I asked if she had just been in the sanctuary to which she replied, “yes, I keep hearing all about meditation and I’m trying really hard…but I don’t think I really get what it’s supposed to do for me or my life”. I smiled and said that it was probably one of those things that she would realize as soon as she stopped “trying”. The two of us remained sitting in silence, looking over the pond and enjoying the warm morning sun on our faces.

After several minutes, a turtle came right to the edge of the pond and peeked his head out, as if to ask what we were doing at his pond. The woman laughed and said, “I didn’t know there was anything in this pond but the lotus”.  As we sat quietly a large catfish began to swim out from under the floating flowers, followed by several large coy fish in varying colors. Before we could finish admiring them a school of smaller fish hurried by, as if to see what was going on. It wasn’t long before a large frog began to sing his song from the far bank as three stunning little hummingbirds seemed to float right in front of us. It was absolutely beautiful, almost like being in a fairy tale. The butterflies flew from one blooming Lotus to another and the dragonflies seemed to be playing tag along the top of the water. A brightly colored mallard duck came waddling down from behind the yellow blooming cactus plants and casually plopped himself into the water as his mate remained behind in the shade. The lone turtle was soon joined by two friends and they began to sun themselves on the rocks protruding out of the water. None of the wildlife seemed to either notice or have any concern for our presence.

As we sat there admiring each new arrival, the woman looked out over the pond, let out a big exhale and exclaimed, “It’s really amazing…the longer you just sit here quietly, the more you become aware of.”  I took in her words and smiled. As I turned to her, I put my hand on her knee and said, “What a beautiful metaphor for how meditation enables you to live a more fulfilling life”. She sat silent for a bit, turned toward the pond, admired all of our friends, and suddenly began to laugh. “I get it” she said, “I have sat at this pond so many times this week but each time I have either been chatting with my husband, looking at my emails or figuring out which class to go to next. I have never actually taken the time to just be here.”  She said she was “grateful to the universe” for putting me at the bench to help her stop, be there, and notice all that she had been missing. With that, I thanked her for her beautiful metaphor and for helping reinforce my feeling of connection, the thing we all strive for most.

As I stood up to leave, she explained that she was going to stay at the bench a while and enjoy all that she had been missing. She marveled as to how all of the wildlife seemed to be appearing out of nowhere yet it had been there, right in front of her, the whole time. She realized that it was the first time all week that she had sat on that bench for the purpose of being on that bench. Before now, it was just a place to sit while she did something else. Being there this time, with no other focus, she was able to make space in her mind to allow for new awareness’s to be received. Instead of cluttering her mind with thoughts about the past or the future (what she just did or needed to do), she allowed herself to truly experience the moment, the “now”. She was emotionally present and we both felt a greater sense of fulfillment as we parted.

“Meditation is the process whereby we gain control over the mind and guide it in a more virtuous direction. Meditation may be thought of as a technique by which we diminish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones”. –Dalai Lama

Meditation is the tool that empowers you to stay emotionally present in the moment. Doing so helps you get off auto-pilot and become an active participant in your life. Ultimately, this is the easiest and most assured way to live your Best Life.

There are as many different ways to meditate as there are people, there is no “right way”, just a way that is right for you. If you are brand new to the concept, guided meditations are available all over the internet, start with one, see what you like, what you don’t, and keep trying until you find what works for you. There is sitting meditation, standing, walking, laying down, etc.…, this is your one life and once you discover the benefits of taking 5 minutes a day, you’ll wish you hadn’t waited another second. Start where you are, start now, and don’t stop until you find what works for you. Enjoy your search, it is the journey that provides us with what we need to succeed when we reach our destination.   –Namaste

As I drove home, through a quaint older neighborhood with fully mature trees hovering their branches overhead, the fallen leaves all seemed to scurry across the road in front of me.  They were jumping, skipping, and a few even doing a little flip of excitement now and then.  Some left, some right, some straight ahead, but mostly in a big group all appearing to be heading the same general direction.  It looked like the front of an elementary school at the end of a long day when all the children come running out of the building, yelling with enthusiasm just because they can.  It made me smile, and it made me think…

Just days earlier I had expressed my sadness about seeing all the beautiful leaves beginning to fall from the same trees.  But what if those leaves have been waiting for this moment since spring?  Maybe they’ve been blowing in the wind restricted by the trees hold on them.  Are they now free?  Free to run on the ground, to play with the leaves from the trees across the street, to explore the neighborhood they have been staring at from above all summer?  I don’t know, but how fun to watch them play and imagine their joy, as if they knew something I didn’t.

All these years I’ve assumed that it was sad when it was their time to fall and “die”.  I’d never even entertained this other perspective.  I wonder why? Was it just what I had been told? I grew up somehow just ‘knowing’ that it was sad when things died; but these leaves didn’t look the least bit sad.  They looked as if they were just beginning a new chapter of their lives; it was just going to take on a different form. This wasn’t an “ending” as I had perceived it, this was a new beginning. It wasn’t death after all, it was just change.

I will never look at leaves in a tree or on the ground the same way again. Whether they are just budding, bright green, turning colors, about to be set free or nourishing the earth, I’ll be reminded, this is the cycle of life and each moment is meant to be enjoyed for what it is, not what we think it should be, or what someone told us it was.

Maybe all of life is merely what we perceive it to be at any given moment along the journey… which would imply that, if we are not happy about a  situation, we can at least try to look at it from a different perspective. Isn’t it at least worth a try? What if it’s just your beliefs or thoughts about the situation vs. the situation itself?

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” –unknown

 Enjoy the beautiful leaves!

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When you share, you feel you matter enough for someone to want to know your story; everyone needs to share.

Sharing: How much? When? What? Why? With who? Etc.…etc.…

It seems like the answers to these questions should be so simple, so why do so many of us struggle with them?

Studies show:

I’ve read a lot of studies touting the therapeutic benefits of sharing your stories. However, the same studies warn of the detrimental effects of sharing those same stories with the “wrong” people, at the wrong time, etc.…

I’ve read about the physiological changes that necessarily take place in our brains when we “remember” a certain event. Apparently, each time we remember an event, our brains automatically fill in any missing/forgotten/fuzzy pieces with “something that works”, i.e. something that confirms our preexisting belief. We move on continuously noticing things that reinforce these beliefs. To make things worse, each time we remember that event, we are really only remembering our last memory of it…still with me? Our memories of these events effect our feelings about them, and that effects who we are today. Based on that alone…I can definitely see that one obvious benefit of telling your story would be that someone else could help you verify the facts later on.

Some studies have shown how sharing stories helps satisfy our intrinsic need for connection. It makes sense, when you are with someone who knows a lot about you, you generally feel a greater sense of connection with them. They know the real you and they’re still hanging out with you; that’s reassuring and probably relaxing. It’s as if just by sharing your stories with another person, the two of you now share some common history. Even though you didn’t live through the actual event together, you relived it and allowed them to share in that experience; they are now somehow connected to that part of your life as well as the present. When someone shows an interest in listening to your stories, they’re telling you they are curious about you, they want to know more. This can be incredibly validating for you as a human being.

Social Media:

Sharing leads to feelings of connection, from which comes the feeling “I matter”. When you feel you are part of something bigger than just you, you have a purpose, you fit somewhere. Science has proven multiple times in multiple ways that communities that connect thrive; we are meant to share, we feel the NEED to share.

That explains why Facebook, Twitter, snap chat, etc.… are so successful. It’s natural, they feed off of our physiological wiring. However…social media is not real sharing, and that’s why, I believe, it tends to cause more social problems than it helps. True beneficial sharing is necessarily a two way street; it requires mutual trust and doesn’t expose you to judgment.  With social media there is a lack of trust and an overabundance of judgment. Add repetition over time and you have the perfect recipe for anxiety, depression, imposture syndrome, comparisons etc.… It may not seem harmful at first but, each time you look at social media put a grain of sand in a bag and carry it on your back. You’ll be surprised how quickly that bag fills to the point where it crushes you.

Sharing involves talking with each other, not about each other.

To Share or Not to Share:

I’ve known people who choose not to share their lives. The feeling is that if you don’t share something about yourself with, say, your coworkers, then when you go to work each day, the people around you know nothing about it; it’s almost as if it never happened/doesn’t exist, at least in that part of your world. No one is going to ask you about it or do/say something to remind you of it.  You don’t have to wonder if anyone is thinking or talking about it or what their opinions may/may not be. This is probably extremely appropriate and perhaps even beneficial in many situations. It’s as if that part of you is completely disconnected. In this way, perhaps disconnection can be positive.

Some people say they don’t want to bother people with their stories, waste their time etc.…, some are simply too embarrassed or ashamed and want to pretend it never happened. Others say they started not sharing in order to protect people; ie… to not disappoint, hurt feelings, etc…  But who are you hurting in the process?  Is the cost worth the benefit?  What would happen if you stopped?  Are you sure you’re not underestimating these people?

Many people simply feel that they just don’t have anyone to share with. Some have spent their whole lives listening to others, being the rock, and they don’t want to jeopardize their image by needing to share; their role was always to be there for others and now they don’t know how to ask others to be there for them.

In any case, if you continue to go on not sharing, so that you can pretend certain parts of your life/self didn’t/don’t exist, because it’s a habit or you don’t know how/with who, what does that do to your sense of self-worth? How do you go on living in an environment that you feel so unattached to? How does a plant survive without roots…? A cut flower in a vase can only last for so long without some help from an external source. A fully established rooted plant however…that plant thrives because of its connection to the earth; it is able to get everything it needs. The cut flower survives for a limited time, the rooted plant can thrive indefinitely.

Sharing the Past vs. Living in the NOW:

Recently, I have started to wonder what the physiological effects are of not sharing, for whatever reasons, and our innate need for connection. The “non-sharers” I’ve spoken to definitely tend to feel less of a sense of belonging in general. Many of them begin to feel as if their past (their stories) don’t really matter…after all, aren’t we all about living in the NOW?

I believe that living in the NOW is extremely important, however, I also believe that it’s everything that we’ve been through or experienced in our past that has made us who we are, put us where we are, and created our current set of life circumstances. I believe truly living in the NOW requires doing it as a whole person, not just the parts of you that you decided were worthy of bringing along.

I’m a big believer in “everything happens for a reason”, I also think that sometimes we have to either try harder or wait longer to figure out what that reason is. However, if we simply ignore or pretend certain aspects of our lives didn’t happen or don’t matter, than how will we learn the lesson it was meant to teach us? How will we discover the “reason”? Perhaps that’s why so many of us find ourselves in certain situations over and over again; the universe is trying to teach us something but we just want to push that “set of circumstances” under a rug and pretend it never happened or isn’t continuing to happen…and we keep doing that…every time it repeats itself.

Every year that goes by without sharing your secrets seems to somehow make them worse, it’s not like the past changes, but its power over you somehow continues to grow. It’s almost suffocating, as if you’re drowning, maybe that explains certain phobias, anxieties and/or depression? I believe that when you don’t share significant events in your life, your mind begins to mess with you. Memories become distorted and the truth harder and harder to remember; was it really your fault or did you just convince yourself of that? Do you find a way to twist things so that they don’t seem as bad? By convincing yourself that one experience was a certain way, do you go through the rest of your life behaving or thinking differently to continuously justify that idea? Can your perception of a single event actually begin to distort your decision making from that point on? Yes, I think it can. So, physiologically, the way we internalize and/or process an event(s) as a child actually continues to affect the way we behave and the choices we make as we become an adult.

If we have no one we trust to share with, then our mind is free to direct the show with no outside influence or the interference of different perspectives.

Where to start:

I have met people who have shared so little of themselves, and feel correspondingly little connection with others, that, over time, they have begun to wonder if anyone would even notice if they were to just disappear. If we don’t feel like we are part of the puzzle, so to speak, than are we just an extra piece?  What’s the point of an extra puzzle piece?  Others, who have spent the majority of their lives trying to take care of others (Hero Support), tend to believe that their services would be missed; that they would let down or disappoint people. These people describe themselves more like the board the puzzle pieces are being laid out on, this belief gives them some purpose. All of these people often feel alone, regardless of  how many people are around.

If you’ve gotten to that point…why aren’t you sharing? Do you not want to or do you just not know how/where to start? Do you have someone to share with? This may not be what you want to hear but…, sometimes it helps to hire someone to share with for a while.  It’s possible that you may just be out of practice; it can actually help just to talk to someone who makes a living listening and offering different perspectives.  You don’t have to feel guilty for “wasting” their time, or wonder if they really care; it doesn’t matter, do it for you (generally speaking, people go into those professions because they care).

If that sounds too crazy, what about a journal? Even if you don’t think of yourself as a “writer”, it can be incredibly therapeutic to just release your thoughts on to paper and then, when you’re done, to read what has come out; most people are surprised by what they find.

Do you have one friend who shares with you? How does that make you feel? What do you think would happen if you shared with that person? Why not try it with something neutral to start with, maybe a childhood memory or a work/home related story, perhaps whichever the person is not part of…

Do you know that every single one of us was put here for a reason? Created to be exactly as we are. Have you noticed that you are at least a little different than everyone else? That there is no one else exactly like you out there…there’s a reason for that. The world needs YOU, but how can that happen if you keep You all to yourself, or keep pretending to be someone else?

Not everyone deserves to hear your stories, but you deserve to be able to share them, you deserve to not have to carry all the weight of some of them and/or to relive and celebrate the joy of others. 

Oftentimes, when we share childhood memories as an adult, we process them very differently, from a new perspective, and thereby go forward living with them much more peacefully; maybe you learn something or at least feel differently about it. Sometimes doing so can help you let go and move on, even find serenity where there was once pain or unrest.

I think it’s important to share, I think it’s important that you feel worthy of sharing, that you know that your stories are important and that you matter. I know that it’s not always easy but…what’s the alternative?  Reaching the top of a mountain is only as awesome as the difficulty of the climb…

I also believe that sometimes it’s not entirely your conscious choice not to share. Maybe you’ve become surrounded by the wrong group, maybe you’re comfortable there but, are you happy? Are you thriving or just surviving? I was once assured that my pet lizard was happy in its tank because it had never known anything different…

Maybe it has nothing to do with your current “tribe”, maybe you’ve just developed a habit over time, for whatever reason(s), and you have no idea how much those around you would love to know you better, to feel more connected. Have you tried? If not, what are you afraid of? Is that really any worse than living with that fear?

None of us were meant to go through life feeling alone.

You matter, you’re stories matter, your life matters, and it’s all here for a reason. This world needs you, you’re the only one we’ve got!

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