Love is the ONLY Answer

frozen wave against sunlight

Photo by Hernan Pauccara on Pexels.com

The other day, after taking my son to school, I had the feeling like I needed to go for a run.  I’m not really a “runner” in that I hardly ever do it, but every once in a while, I wake up with this feeling like I need to run.  I’ve done a few 5K’s and always without any kind of prep.  Yes, I am blessed that I can do that, and I am completely in LOVE with my body for what it allows me to do!  Do you ever stop to think about how blessed you really are?  Do you ever peel back the layers of your life and compare your life to the life of others and just really sink into your grateful heart?  I felt so grateful as I ran for so many reasons that I found myself dancing with my arms and singing as I went.

I had the thought that I wanted to run for my body’s sake, for the feeling of it.  Pushing my body while I am able to get stronger and better than I was yesterday.  I also felt like I needed to run for clarity.  For the majority of my run (and walk because let’s be real, I walked too), I was listening to A Tribe Called Quest’s album ” We Got it From Here. Thank You 4 Your Service”.  It’s an amazing album if you haven’t ever listened to it.  It really touches on some major, real life issues that I have been thinking and talking about a lot lately, namely equality or lack thereof.

One of the songs “We the People..” has a chorus of:

“All you black folks you must go,

All you Mexicans you must go,

All you poor folks, you must go,

Muslims and gays, boy we hate your ways.”

How do these lyrics strike you?  They make me sad, because it’s the truth of the message often sent to these groups of people.  Even when I was a kid, I knew that everyone deserved equal rights and treatment.  I knew that the racist remarks I heard from some of my family members growing up were not OK.  I knew it to my core.  I often spoke out against it in fact, which made family gatherings fun, because I often heard “Don’t go saying that stuff around Jammie, she’ll get mad”, which made me feel like somehow I had been the one who had done something inappropriate.  Funny how people know that if they’re the ones doing the pointing, they displace the pressure from themselves to the other person/persons, even if they, themselves, are in the wrong.

I had a big realization as I ran that I hadn’t thought about before.  I see how my life has lined up to have me work with, and then be a caregiver of people from all walks of life in states all over the US, so that I am really able to connect with certainty with the concept that we are all One.  The notion that we’re separate is a man-made falsehood that only brings judgment, hatred, separatism, and violence into this world.  When in actuality, we’re supposed to start with loving ourselves fully, so that we can spread love in the world.

I am a white woman.  Aside from the fact that I live in a very male-dominated society, I generally feel safe in my life.  I have the typical fear as a woman of walking downtown in my town by myself at night (though I did NOT feel unsafe while solo in Sydney Australia in the Harbour area at all hours of the day and night).  I’m not a fan of being solo in parking garages at night.  With that said, I recognize my white privilege (though I also know that I have gaps in my view, because it’s the nature of the beast in a lot of ways).  I know that when I have been pulled over by a cop in the past, while I was nervous for being pulled over, I have never feared that I would be shot or killed.  And you can tell me that you’re white and you have been fearful for your life in those situations, but the reality is that the fear that you have had does not touch the level of fear held by a black person in this country.  They have to think about their actions even in situations where they are being taunted or even physically assaulted, because they know that should anything happen to the other person, they will likely be the ones to take the biggest fall for it.  They worry about getting pulled over for routine stops, because so many have lost their lives that way.  I cannot imagine the worry that they experience when they send their teenagers out into the world, not knowing if someone will mistake something they do with an act of disrespect or violence that then gets them killed.

We live in a time when our government thinks that it’s OK to separate children from their families in the name of securing our borders and protecting our jobs.  I call bullshit.  How many white people are losing jobs in the agricultural fields to illegal Mexican immigrants in this country?  These hard-working people work for wages much less than most of us would even consider given the extreme heat and harsh conditions that they are subjected to.  This country was founded on the premise that it was a place where people from all walks of life could come for refuge, or to build a better life for themselves.  But now, we find ourselves in times where money and greed are placed as higher priorities than love and compassion for our fellow human beings.  We block the immigration of refugees.  We have stopped being a safe haven.

The white people moved into North America and claimed it as their own even though there were Native Americans already living here.  So they killed off a bunch of Native Americans and sent the rest packing to areas they themselves didn’t see value in. (Fast forward to today when those lands have oil on them and the white people now want those areas too! When will it stop?). Then, they brought people over from Africa to be their slaves to do their work for them. Now, I am baffled when white people are pissed off that black people live here! We dragged them away from their lives in Africa, so yes, they live here now. (Does anyone else have these thoughts?). As white people, I don’t think we are on the side that can be upset with it. Since then, the richest white men work to hoard the land and their material wealth, while keeping the rest of us feeling small and in line, so that they can keep it that way.  People have reacted strongly to my Facebook posts on the topic of my opposition to black people being pulled over and shot during routine traffic stops, and they like to say that the person “brought it on themselves”.  They like to use weak excuses that point to a large majority of black people who choose to “do bad things”.  The reality is that none of that is true.  What is true is that wives of police officers seem to have a hard time accepting that there is a such thing as corrupt police, which doesn’t necessarily mean that their husband falls into such a category.  What is true is that the underlying racism in this country lends itself to the quantity of black people being killed and jailed.  I think we need to get smart about who we side with though.  I certainly don’t side with the white men who have led the majority of terrorist attacks in this country just because I am white.  And I certainly would not choose to accept sweeping negative beliefs about Muslims if I belonged to a church that spoke of such things.  No matter what we have been taught, our race and religion are HUMAN.  Colors, shapes, sizes, beliefs, and preferences are a ploy to stretch and grow our hearts to love more, and to love those who do not look, believe, or behave the same as we do.  If we stop at our shallow impressions based on such things, we miss the opportunity to connect and make a new friend.

The way this society is run, you would think that we live in a Universe of lack, but in fact, we live in a very abundant Universe.  We have been brainwashed into thinking that scarcity ranks supreme, when in fact, we have enough of everything for everyone, but we choose to do things like throw perfectly good food away rather than give it to people who need it.  We seek to grab more of the proverbial pie for ourselves, and hold beliefs like each man for himself when it comes to giving some of our abundance away.  The key to life is creating an abundance in our own life in the form of love, so that we realize that we are always being taken care of, and always have enough to share with others.

Recently, I read an article about a 9-year old boy who killed himself after he was bullied by kids at school after telling other students that he was gay.  As a Mom to a 9-year old boy, my heart broke when I heard that news.  We’ve created an environment for ourselves and our children where we generally don’t feel like we can be our authentic, vulnerable, expressive selves for fear of judgment, ridicule, abuse, or violence from others.  How sad is that?!  I don’t care what your beliefs are about the LGBT+ community, as a human, do you not see the horrible repercussions of treating people so poorly for being different from you?  Our beliefs about this issue are trickling down to our kids, who would otherwise hold only compassion for other kids.  It’s leading to bullying and harassment that is ultimately killing our kids.  Is your belief about a group of people worth the death of a child?

Sure, there are things that have improved in this country over time, but the reality is that there is still so much racism, sexism, and bigotry in this country.  Those of us who are white could have slipped into a period of time where we believed that equality across the board was a thing, but I think if anything, with the election of Trump and the darkness that has come to the surface following, we can be sure that a lot of these issues had been merely swept under the rug just waiting for the right time to emerge.  I truly believe in the adage that to be healed, we have to see the dark side of things.  We have to recognize when people aren’t being treated fairly in order to make the needed changes.  The dark has to be brought to light for the healing to happen.  It’s the only way.  It works like that in individuals as well as the collective.  I cannot heal a destructive thought pattern that I hold if I do not recognize it as destructive.

I know that life can make us hard.  Life can make us cold.  We are constantly fed a campaign of fear in all formats.  So, we often live our lives afraid.  We build protective walls around our hearts and our houses in an attempt to protect ourselves and our families.  We try to sort people into distinctive categories acting as though gray areas for every category do not exist, and then we further assign labels of “good” or “bad” to them.  We then set limits around the love that we can offer to these groups.  At one point, I realized that the walls I had built up around me for protection from getting hurt were acting as a cage that prevented me from having the deep connections with others that my soul craves.

What I have come to know is that we are all the same.  We are all souls here having a human experience.  Many of us grow up with wounds from our childhood.  Perhaps we were abused, neglected, or abandoned and we never fully processed it, and so we hold onto those feelings as adults.  We seek to fill our void with people and things rather than doing the often difficult (but oh so worth it) inner work to move on from our deeply etched feelings of not being enough, of not being worthy, and of not being lovable.  We project how we feel about ourselves onto other people.  The parts of ourselves that we have not healed get reflected back to us in other people, and we place blame on others for how badly we feel.  So people act out.  They withhold love from themselves, and so they withhold love from others.  One that does not fully love themself unconditionally is not able to love another unconditionally.  We are all only capable of giving the amount of love that we carry for ourselves.  This is why self-love is the absolute best thing that we can all offer to each other and this planet!  It starts with each of us.  If we miss that step, and build relationships anyway…or build cities anyway…or build governments anyway…what we find is that eventually, they crumble from the stress of having too weak a foundation to support them.  People have been trained to believe a certain way about various groups because of what their religion and government has told them vs approaching everyone as just as important as themselves.  But, if you think about it, in a society where people are made to feel small, afraid, and not whole in and of themselves, it is no real surprise that people view others in the same light.  If you think that the lyrics above are an exaggeration, I ask you to thoroughly examine the privilege that you are experiencing by not being part of one of these groups.  Just because you, yourself, does not experience discrimination, it does not mean that it’s not a huge problem in this country.  If you find yourself feeling defensive as you read this post, I ask you to question where that feeling is coming from vs simply reacting to the trigger.  As humans, we tend to bury our darkest truths and emotions deep, so that it can take a while to dig it all up and expose it to the light.

It has been a process for me to get to a place where I fully love myself.  I had very low self-esteem for much of my life.  Once I did start making positive strides in how I viewed myself, I found myself still missing the mark a lot of the time.  I would say that I loved myself, but I wasn’t actually showing myself love.  And as with everything else, actions always speak louder than words.  If you merely say in passing that you love yourself, or you love the qualities about you that you or society has deemed “lovable”, and you’re putting everyone else’s needs above your own, you are missing the mark.  I was missing the mark.  I was a people pleaser who lacked self-esteem.  Unconsciously, I did for others and gave my love so that I could in turn receive the love that I felt was lacking (ultimately it was lacking from myself).  Things only began to change once I realized what actual self-love looks like.

Self-love looks like putting yourself first for a change (yes, even above your children).  It looks like doing things that bring YOU joy regularly, and not just going along with what others are wanting to do.  Self-love looks like recognizing when you need solo time to recharge and scheduling a time to make it happen.  It looks like making time for a bath if you enjoy it more than a quick shower.  Self-love looks like taking care of your body in whatever way feels good to you.  It looks like sleeping when you’re tired.  Self-love looks like saying no if you really don’t want to do something even though it feels like everyone else wants you to say yes.  We all have different things that make us feel loved up.  Find those things, and stop waiting for someone else to do them for you.  You will feel better when you take back your power and start creating your own joy, your own happiness, and your own peace and stop expecting it from some external situation or person.  As you grow in this way and begin to really love yourself, what you’re going to find is that it will become impossible for you to not accept other people as they are, and to be against anyone.  In fully loving yourself, you see that whatever you are doing to another, you are actually doing to yourself, because you’re better able to recognize that we all have these struggles to go through and overcome, and that we are all the same.  Having gone through all that I have been through, I find it so easy to view another person at more of the soul level.  Look for the beauty of your own heart, and then look for the beauty of another’s heart, and you will find it there, under the fraction of that person’s story that you have come to believe.

With empathy, I can see that the Mom on meth who just had a baby is hurting so badly because she does not get to take her baby home with her from the hospital.  I don’t have to know her entire life story to have compassion for her. I can imagine that her soul has lessons that it wanted to learn via addiction in this life, but I can also connect with her as a Mom myself.  I’ve spoken of this before on this blog, because to me, it was a very powerful thing when I stopped my judging mind, and turned on my loving heart when taking care of these Moms.  I have no idea what led them to using meth, but I do know that it’s one of the most addictive drugs available.  For all I know, she was peer pressured into doing it one time, and that set her up for many years of addiction.  Why do we even need the back story though in order to be compassionate human beings?  In taking care of so many people over the years, I can tell you that we all have the same underlying issues causing our lack of self-love, which then causes our critical judgment of ourselves and others.  The lack of self-love leads to self-destructive behaviors.  For some, this may mean hatred towards self and others, it may mean drug addiction, or it may mean putting ourselves last to the point of dis-ease.  When you heal those aspects of yourself, you really do start to have love in your heart for everyone.  I now have love in my heart for people I never thought possible, which has added a whole new level of love and peace to my life.  We cannot love ourselves and hate others, and we cannot hate others and truly love ourselves.  If we have hate in our hearts for someone, we have a disconnect in ourselves that needs healed.

Please give yourself permission today to think a different thought and make a different choice than you did yesterday. We are human, we are allowed to change our minds.  We should be allowed to think for ourselves and choose love and compassion over hatred and fear, even when it’s our minister telling us who we should or should not love.  As a child, I knew right from wrong.  I inherently knew that all people should be treated equally and fairly.  I knew that with such conviction, because it is true.  Love is the only answer to every problem in our lives, and in the collective.  If we do not learn to fully love ourselves, then everything we do in the name of “good” is always going to have holes in it at the core.  When we give and give from an empty cup that we have not taken the time to fill for ourselves, we end up with illness/dis-ease.  It is only when place priority on filling our own cup, does it then begin to overflow with joy, abundance, and love.  I am living from that place right now.  My cup is overflowing in ways I never thought possible, and my sincerely grateful heart wishes for nothing more than to use all of the excess to help make this world a better place.

If this is resonating with you at the core, but you feel overwhelmed with where to start, please reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com.  It is one of my passions to help fill this world with true, unconditional love, and that starts with each of us as individuals.

Thank you so much for reading!  If you like this post, please like and share it!  Much love!

Watch the video for A Tribe Called Quest’s song “We The People” HERE

Time

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Photo by Giallo on Pexels.com

Time is a strange thing.  There are times in my life when time seemed to stand still, like the night I spent in the hospital on the verge of heart failure while I was waiting for a surgery to save me.  Then there are times when time seems to speed by so fast that it takes my breath away, like summer days spent traveling and snorkeling with my son.

Today has me emotional.  I know I am not the only parent feeling this way today.  Where I live, today is the first day of school.  I walked my new 4th grader to school today.  And now, after getting back home and reading a really touching post by one of my best friends from college on this, the day after her son turned 16, I sit in a puddle of tears.

I know that many people I know have had to take their kids to college and support them as they leave the nest.  From where I am standing, that remains a reality difficult for me to fathom.  Still others have new high school students today.  I know that some friends may wish that they had a 4th grader today.  But, as with everything, our experiences are all relative and what we have going on in our own lives is what really counts for us personally. Today, my mind is thrusting me back through the years.  It’s funny how with every milestone, I get transported back into time when my son was a baby, newly born.  It’s not in a way where I am wishing that he was a baby again, but more just wondering where the time since that day has gone.  As normal as this whole back to school after summer thing is for humans, it always reminds me of the version of him, or incarnation, as my friend Michele put it, that I will experience and say goodbye to this year.

It’s the part of parenting that people don’t often talk about.  The thing that you don’t even realize until you become a parent yourself.  The part where you welcome and then say goodbye to all of the various incarnations of your child that you are so blessed to witness.  As my friend Michele Rosa Gee wrote so beautifully today, “Birthdays bring a fascinating combination of emotions as a mother.  Not only am I celebrating the person I see before me in this moment (which is what we normally do on people’s birthdays), but I’m nostalgic for the many incarnations of this boy I have seen through the past 16 years.”  She goes onto say something else that really spoke to my Mom heart and that was “And I am amazed at the depth of sadness that I feel as I project into the future the growing separation that is natural between a mother and child.”  I think this goes for birthdays, and other milestones like crawling, then walking, dressing themselves, and all the first days of school, and every other monumental occasion that we, as parents, get to experience during our child’s life.

For some of us, me included, this time is also dotted with a lot of time spent away from my child.  My son’s Dad moved out of the house when my son was barely 4 years old.  Prior to that time, the only time I spent without my son involved hospital stays and time spent in class during nursing school.  I had never experienced a night away from my son, let alone several at a time.  You would think that over time, this would become “normal” for a mother, the back and forth, the time spent without your child.  But for me, it has never felt “normal”.  For me, it has been the most difficult part of my divorce.  As a Mom, I feel like I should be with my child all of the time.  Maybe that’s my mind and ego speaking, but it feels like it’s my heart.  After living this way for over 5 years, splitting the weeks and holidays with his Dad, it is not an easy thing for my Mom heart to get used to, especially when I hear someone say that they have rarely spent any time away from their child.

But I have come to trust mine and my son’s journeys.  I know that regardless of the apparent shortcomings of this arrangement, it is better for all of us.  I know that my son is being raised by two people who are much happier apart than they were together.  As someone who experienced the contrast of parents who didn’t get along, but stayed together “for the kids”, I know that I would rather spend time away from my son than to have him grow up surrounded by tension and negativity.  Because I believe that there are no coincidences in this life, I have to accept that reality not only in times that feel good and magical, but also in times that feel difficult and unnatural.  I have seen what illness has done for me and my life, and I trust that when things feel hard, there is growth and expansion happening for me, and for my son.  I hold onto that knowing that we are both always being taken care of and that we will get from this life exactly what we each need.

It has been really interesting to see how I feel during significant milestones now that I am more conscious that I have ever been before.  As I learn to be more present during all the moments of my life, I feel more acutely aware when a milestone will be a first and a last at the same time.  There is no little brother or sister to walk to the first day of 4th grade in a few years, so, I can’t even hold onto the illusion that there will be another day when I walk a 4th grader to class on the first day of school for the first and the last time.  Just as I practice mindfulness in other parts of my life and know that this moment is all I ever truly have, today is the only day I have for this milestone.

As I move towards deeper levels of self-awareness and acceptance, and into deeper levels of consciousness, I am reminded daily of how difficult it can be to stay fully present with our kids.  I think it’s one of the things that kids are meant to do, expand us in ways that don’t feel possible.  For instance, when my son is trying to get a rise out of me by singing loudly in my face, and I am feeling the need for a stimulation time out, it is hard to stay present.  My mind wonders and I wish for a future moment of peace.  I think that it is generally easy to stay present with ourselves, how we’re feeling, and what we’re experiencing when we are alone.  I meditate regardless, but when I am alone, I have the quiet and space to check in with my higher self frequently over the course of the day.  But I know that the real test comes when I can keep the same peace and hold the same space for myself regardless of what is happening around me.  I intuitively know it.  It feels like one of the big keys of life.  I witnessed this as a Registered Nurse in the hospital.  When I started out, I felt like I needed a quiet place with no distractions while I charted everything about my patients into a computer.  The more seasoned nurses laughed at that requirement, because they had already learned that kind of peace and quiet did not exist within that environment.  After over 5 years of working in the hospital, all I needed to get my charting done was a working computer.  I became so good at focusing on what I was doing at the computer even with distractions all around me, that at times I wouldn’t hear another nurse ask me a question.

It’s all about being able to tune out the distractions from our environment, the people around us, and our own minds so that we are able to stay present and at peace during anything that shows up in our lives.  When we realize how important our own internal peace is, and we learn how to achieve and maintain it through even the most trying of times, we unlock the key to happiness in our lives.  Of course, this doesn’t mean ignoring our feelings, but it does mean realizing that each moment has something worth experiencing.  Today, I was really present in the experience of walking my son to his first day of 4th grade, which is why I feel so emotional about it.  Everything that has happened in my life has cumulatively led me to exactly where I am right now, and to how I am feeling right now.

With each milestone, I am reminded of the imperative need for me to get out of my head, so that I can soak up the fleeting moments I have with my growing son.  I am reminded of all of the past moments that will never exist again and the years flash on a screen in my head, birth, 1-year-old, 2 years old, 3 years old, 4 years old, 5 years old, 6 years old, 7 years old, 8 years old, 9 years old.  I think part of it is that we equate parenting with so many tasks: the meals, the snacks, the trips to school and back again, the extracurricular activities, the homework, the play dates, the baths, and the bedtimes.  Sometimes we humans go on autopilot, and do more than be.  We quickly seek to accomplish all the tasks as efficiently as we can, zooming around left and right.  But, as we do this, and we turn life into a series of tasks and activities, we sometimes forget to slow down and soak in the moments that truly define our lives.

As I become more conscious and therefore more present in my life, I feel these milestones all the more strongly, because I am very aware of the preciousness of each moment with my son.  If being a Mom and experiencing this as reality through the powerful manifestation of a son that grows and changes with each passing day doesn’t wake me up to only living in the present moment, I don’t know what will.  It can be a somewhat painful process, being a Mom and watching your son grow and change, grow and change, but wow, what a wonderful ride.  Right?!  Isn’t it beautiful that etched within each of our children is the powerful lesson that NOW is the only moment we have with each other?

We can’t relive a moment that has passed, so we must soak in every moment we have, so that we live with no regret in our hearts, and more joy in our lives!

Thank you for reading!  If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it! Much love.

Do you need uplifted and reminded of how wonderful it is to be alive today?  If so, listen to Brett Dennen’s song “Blessed” HERE

Are You Grieving for Your Lost Health?

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When I was feeling my worst, I was doing all I could just to keep my head above water.  I went into crisis mode.  On top of feeling terrible and being exhausted all of the time, I really had no idea what was causing my flares of pericarditis.  So I was living in fear.  I was afraid that I would walk too much and have chest pain again.  I was afraid that too much stress from school and home life would cause me to flare.  I never knew when or where I would be when I’d flare and it made me feel paranoid.  I always had to be prepared, so I routinely kept my prescription of prednisone in my bag in case I needed a higher dose.

I was talking with a good friend of mine the other night who is currently living this reality.  He doesn’t have pericarditis, but his illness is no less mysterious or maddening.  In talking with him, I was reminded of a counselor I saw during nursing school.  She was in training to become a licensed counselor, and she had an office on campus at the community college I was attending.  I remember time and again going in and talking with her and just voicing my frustrations with the way that my whole world had been suddenly turned upside down.  I spoke of my fears and the unpredictability of my illness.  I spoke of not recognizing my own body, because I had gained so much weight from being on steroids.  I spoke of my dismay that after a year of struggling with recurrent bouts of pericarditis and even a second hospitalization, that none of my doctors could offer me any answers.  All they could tell me to do was to take prednsione to suppress my immune system and prevent the inflammation around my heart.  One day, as I was really struggling, I went to talk to my counselor.  She pointed out the fact that I was grieving my lost health.  It was a light bulb moment for me, because I had never thought about it like that before.  She was right.  I WAS grieving for my lost health.  My mind was having a hard time accepting my new body and the restrictions that came with it.  It was difficult to wrap my brain around the fact that I had been healthy, had exercised regularly as part of my work, and had eaten healthy as a long-time vegetarian.

When I realized that I was grieving, and my counselor went over the stages of grief with me, oddly enough, I felt a great sense of peace come over me.  It made me feel normal about how I was feeling.  I could see that the ups and downs of anger and sadness and back around again were part of my grieving process.  Knowing this allowed me to release expectations I had for my emotions through this time.  I began to accept my emotions, and I was more open to allowing them to flow.

So I ask you, the one dealing chronic illness, are you grieving for your lost health?  Are you grieving for the life you feel that you have lost?  If so, know that it is normal and OK, and that it is better to feel your emotions and release them as they come up than it is to keep them locked tight inside your chest.  We sometimes think that we’re doing ourselves a service by locking our emotions up so that they can’t spring out and consume our hearts, but the reality is that if we allow ourselves to feel our feelings as they come up, in whatever form they appear, we will be able to heal much more quickly.  Emotions that aren’t expressed get trapped in our bodies and lead to more pain and dis-ease.

It was the most challenging time of my life.  I felt so alone and helpless.  I looked for silver linings as best I could and I pushed through my exhaustion so that I could be present for my son.  I wondered if I would ever regain my health. I wondered if I would ever feel comfortable in my own body again. I wondered if I would always have to be fearful that things I did might cause a flare.

I write this on the other side.  I have gained perspective on life and on my health challenges that I would not have gotten had I never gotten sick.  I have experienced a total transformation of self that was brought on by my years of illness.  I was asked to take a more balanced approach in caring for my body, mind, and soul.  I was asked to tear down the beliefs I held about myself and my life that made me feel bad.  I was asked to reexamine the way I was treating myself and how I was showing up for myself.  My illness caused me to turn over every rock so that I could find all of buried thoughts and beliefs that were holding me back in life.  I was shown what was important in life.  I was taught to not sweat the small stuff and to appreciate everything and everyone I have in my life while I have them.  I was taught the delicate nature of life.  I was taught that there are no guarantees in life and so we should make the most of every day.  What is it that you might learn from your own challenges?  It helps me to look for lessons in challenges now, because I see how perfectly my illness was placed in my path to expand me to heights I didn’t know were possible.  It has made me trust the process now when things aren’t going the way my mind wants them to go.  Even when I can’t see the full picture as to why something is happening, I live with a great sense of trust that the Universe always has my back.  The Universe (or god, source, higher power etc) always has your back too.

Above all, I was taught that self-love is the key to life.  The love we hold for ourselves trickles outwards from us, so that we can love each other in a more balanced, non-judgmental and unconditional way.  How much do you love yourself?  Do you find ways to show yourself love every day?  Self-love involves loving all parts of ourselves.  That can be the tricky part.  It’s easy to love myself when I am happy and laughing.  I have a more difficult time loving myself when I lose my temper or raise my voice in anger.  I am learning and growing just as we all are.  We’re all works in progress, and that process never stops.  We just keep expanding.  We keep learning how to respond to life vs react.  We keep learning to keep an open mind and open heart with how we approach ourselves and others.

If you’re reading this, you survived another day.  Just keep being gentle with yourself in whatever life circumstance you’re in currently.  Your illness may be requiring that you slow down for now, get the extra sleep, limit the stressors in your life, give yourself some extra love, and put yourself first for a change.  Can you see the ways that your body is crying out for more love?  Notice the shift when you view your own illness this way.  When we take care of others when they are sick, we don’t get mad at them and their bodies for needing more care, right?  We don’t curse at our friends and family and make them feel guilty for being sick.  So then, why do we treat ourselves that way?

I went from a time when I was really ill and wondering “why me?” to now when I realize that facing a complicated illness like Lyme Disease and not just surviving it, but thriving beyond it is one of my superpowers in this life.  This is why we humans must be careful with the labels that we place on things, because sometimes it is difficult to know “good” from “bad” when we’re in the thick of it.  I’ve said it before, but I went from calling my illness “the worst thing that ever happened to me” to “one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”

Know that it might take more love and care than you have ever allowed for yourself before, but that we can all rise up above our challenges and see brighter days ahead!

Part of my soul’s purpose is to help others navigate through their own illnesses and challenges in life using  the perspective I’ve gained.  If you’d like some personalized support and guidance, reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com!  My favorite thing is combining the healing power of Intuitive Reiki with Joy Coaching to help others move through their chronic illness with more support than I had during my own healing journey.

Thanks so much for reading!  If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it! Much love!

Watch the video for Michael Franti’s song “Once a Day” HERE  This is what Michael Franti posts about this song:

“‘Once A Day’ is about unexpected moments in life. Some days we have unexpectedly beautiful moments and others that are unexpectedly challenging. Last year I had a really challenging moment when my son was diagnosed with a kidney disease called FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis). We thought it would break our family apart, but moving through the initial tears, made us realize life is precious and that we need to hug, kiss and be close to each other every day and through that we could ‘rise up’ and face his illness together. I hope that Once A Day brings inspiration to anyone in this world who is going through challenging times. Through music, dance and gratitude for this life we can all ‘Rise Up’!” –Michael Franti

Blogging for a Year!

I have been officially writing on this blog for 1 year today!  It is said that a lot can change in a year.  My life is living proof!  Over the year that I have blogging, so much has happened.  Just from a blogging perspective, a lot changed once I made the decision to start sharing more of myself and my story with other people this way.  I think the biggest thing I learned is that my story is a powerful one that can inspire others on their own journeys.  The other thing I learned is that we can truly rewrite our stories if the old version is causing us strife or disempowering us.

It is a very humbling thing to have someone read your first blog post and reach out to you saying that your post gave them hope on a day when they were feeling suicidal.  I decided then that if my writing did no more than give that one person hope on their own journey, it would be enough.  Through this blog, I have reconnected with old friends, reconnected with family, and made new friends.

Prior to starting this blog, only those closest to me really knew my story.  Because of my depression, struggles in my marriage, and illness, I kept a lot to myself.  I now see that I was sort of holding myself captive by staying so closed in.  I am a Gemini and a communicator by nature, and to be otherwise makes me feel a discord with myself at the soul level.  Writing here has opened me up in ways that I had really been craving, both with myself and with other people.  I have found that opening myself up to this level of vulnerability and authenticity here has also opened me up in the same way in real life.  There’s a lot of power in sharing, because you no longer feel like you have anything to hide.  You realize that more often than not, people reach out to you commiserating and saying they’ve felt the same way.  You realize that all you have kept inside was nothing to be ashamed of and in fact, by sharing all of it, you can help a lot of other people navigate their own lives.

I thank all of you who have been reading along on this journey of mine!  I now have 50 subscribers to this blog who receive a notification every time I publish a new post.  Thank you all for subscribing!  It lets me know that my words are resonating and not just falling silent once I press the publish button.  In 1 year, I have had 1,047 visitors to my site.  I have had 2,214 blog views.  In 1 year, my blog has been viewed from the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, Philippines, Sweden, Ireland, Serbia, Netherlands, Romania, Singapore, Hong Kong (China), United Arab Emirates, Costa Rica, Botswana, Japan, Russia, Belgium, New Zealand, Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Croatia, Brunei, South Africa, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Greece, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Nepal, Austria, Monaco, Nigeria, Ukraine, Thailand, and Switzerland!!  The internet has really connected us all more than we normally even consider in our day to day lives.  How amazing that my words can be read in so many different places all over the world?!  Thank you to everyone who has read my words near and far, I hope that they inspire you in some way.

If you would have told me last year this time what my life would look like a year from then, I would not have believed you at all!  Absolutely everything has shifted for the positive in my life!  At the beginning of the year, as I had been dealing with negative health effects of the stress of my job for a while, I had an inspired idea that left me unable to sleep.  On thinking of what would make 2018 my best year ever, I thought that it would be epic to quit my job, start my own healing business, and travel to Australia (my life-long dream destination) and Hawaii all in the same summer!!

Friends, since May, I have done all of those things!  I am amazed at the unfolding of my life!  I couldn’t be more grateful for all that I have experienced this year, and for the fact that I still have 5 MORE MONTHS of this year still to go!  I see the divine hand that has led me on this path and it has been even better than I could have imagined because of the added bonus of growth and insight that has come from my experiences.

We usually walk around feeling very stuck in our lives.  We think we can’t leave jobs because we’re worried our business won’t work out, so we usually don’t even try.  We say we can’t travel because we don’t have the money.  We give ourselves one good vacation a year, because it’s like a weird, general social norm in the US to work more than we play.  Everything is still evolving for me on this new path, but just the feeling I have to be so connected with my higher self on a daily basis has been worth it.  Let alone the amazing places I’ve seen and the people I have met.  Australia you guys.  Wow.  I am in real love with that place!  I plan to post more about it, including a slideshow of my pictures, but so far, I’m mostly still at a loss for words for that experience.  My sister and I were able to have our first family vacation together with our families in Hawaii.  I spent much-needed time meeting, and then snuggling with my baby niece.  Plus, tons of snorkeling!  My son got to snorkel in the ocean for the first time.  I saw a few sea turtles, an eel, dolphins plus thousands of tropical fish!  Ah, I could get used to having at least two epic vacations a year!

I’m in a place of trust and it’s causing me to release all of my old doubts about myself, my old beliefs about what is possible in life, and my old beliefs about lack just to name a few.  I’ve gotten more committed to meditating and checking in with my higher self about every decision from what I eat to what I do.  I have had so many inspired ideas come to me in the time since returning from Hawaii.  Following through on those ideas is connecting me with more amazing people and opportunities.  I’m looking at life in a whole new way that has given me a sort of freedom that I have never experienced before.

Life is truly is what we make it.  If we want more adventure, we’ve got to look for ways to incorporate more adventure.  If we want more travel, we need to travel.  If we want better health, we need to start meditating daily and connecting with our higher selves, so that we can follow the guidance from within needed to heal ourselves.  Drown out the outside influences of your life that make you neglect to listen to your own intuition.  Turn off your TV, stop listening to people who haven’t been living their dreams, stop letting outside people and things influence you more than your own heart. When you connect with yourself in this way, you will find amazing ideas, people, situations, and opportunities begin to appear in your life in perfect timing!  I have had so many things happen in the last week and a half that I can’t keep up with it all as far as writing it all down to share.  I see how every seemingly little thing is by design and it’s really beautiful!

I’ll share an example.  One of the things I have written and read aloud every day since a workshop hosted by Jake Ducey that I attended in November as part of my larger Chief Aim is “I am a part of a thriving community of healers and artists.”  Earlier this week, I got the inspired idea to create a gift basket focused around “Healing Arts” for the Center for Spiritual Living’s annual fundraiser this year.  My idea is that the basket will showcase the work of various healers and artists in my town, so that people will realize what is available to them right here.  I am donating a Distance Reiki session to the basket, and after several contacts, I have secured multiple gift certificates for various forms of healing including Reiki, Sound Healing, and a How to Create Sacred Space & Crystal Grid Manifesting session, a painting, and a cool pyramid made of shungite that is a very healing stone.  In two days, I reached out, connected with, and met several new people, and learned about new healing modalities offered in my area.  This is how life can work when we are in the flow.  Our inspired ideas (the ones where you get excited to your core) happen on purpose!!  When you start following them like I have been doing, they lead to amazing things for you and others around you!  They even help you manifest your desires!  In my experience, inspired ideas lead to all that I am seeking to manifest in my life and more!  Whoever wins this basket is in for a serious treat!!

On this journey I am on, I would get nowhere if I compared myself or my journey to others, because they are not me.  Even when our journeys look similar, they are not the same, and they are not meant to be the same.  We are all here to shine the light that WE have, not dim our lights, or try to blend our lights in with everyone else’s.  I understand that conformity was once an act of survival, but at this level of the game, conformity is killing us all slowly.  The key to this game is to live our joy, so that we can match the frequency of all that we wish to manifest.  I know that life can discourage us, especially when the energy is such that is bringing our old patterns and beliefs and anxieties back to the surface for healing.  Even in such time, we are all being taken care of completely.  You will know that you are aligned with your higher self when your thoughts and words start showing up as things and people in your reality.

Once you find a way to tap into that magic, life glows like it’s radioactive.

I’m living it right now! We each have something we came here to do.  What did you come here to do?  Are you doing it? Are you working towards doing it?  What is stopping you?

I am starting a meeting group locally centered around the book “The Surrender Experiment” by Michael Singer.  My idea is that everyone who comes to the meetings will have read the book and are willing to surrender to the flow of life more.  I will share my story and ways that I have surrendered and what that has created in my life.  After that, we will meet on a weekly basis to discuss what has shown up for us in our lives and how we have flowed with it and what doors that has opened for us.

I just had the idea that it could be really fun to coach people in this way!  It could take place via phone and I would share more details about how I do this and what has shown up for me, and I could provide individualized support for you as you begin to allow more flow in your life.  You don’t have to change every area of your life to live this way.  Even focusing on one area where you’re currently dissatisfied would make a huge impact.  My coaching would mean 1:1 support, as well as all of my intuitive insights about you and your journey that I receive during the time that we work together.  If this resonates with you, please read the book, and reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com!  I’d also love to hear from people who are currently living this way!  Please leave comments down below!

Thank you for reading!  If you liked this post please like and share it.  Much love!