Let’s Erase the Stigma of Mental Health

Seriously. No one should feel bad or ashamed, because they go to a therapist. We need to erase the stigma surrounding mental health in this country.

When I was battling severe depression, it was doubly exhausting to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders as I felt the need to hide my issues from others. Anyone with depression knows, it zaps your energy enough to then put so much into keeping it all a secret. But at the time, it felt necessary for me. I felt ashamed and less than because I was struggling with a sadness so severe that I could barely function. It made me have an anxiety attack once just to go and talk casually with a potential new employer about work I really wanted to do for them, because the thought of having to be ‘on’ and ‘sell myself’ was THAT overwhelming. It was also no fun to be on the verge of tears literally all the time, yet still have to go to work and hold them back. I avoided talking to people. I avoided phone calls. I avoided as much life as I possibly could. I always worried that my secret would be found out, which at the time terrified me. I felt like I was broken.

Just taking the steps to find my first therapist was daunting. But that step ended up being crucial to turning things around. I went to someone who had me try loads of natural supplements and even a SAD light as I was living in a rainy, gray Oregon winter at the time. When none of those worked, we moved onto medications. First Prozac which helped me immensely at the time. Then there became a need for less side effects, so I saw a psychiatrist to have my meds adjusted. Moved onto Wellbutrin. Then eventually landed on Lexapro. The names of medications don’t really matter, because they’re what I needed at the time. I write this for anyone else who has struggled with depression and has taken multiple medications before finding the ‘right’ one. There was a time when I thought I’d be taking Lexapro indefinitely, because of how my doctors believed my Lyme Disease was affecting me.

You are not alone. Many of us deal with mental illness and most don’t talk about it. I’ve been able to move past my years of depression, with appreciation that I’ve experienced such lows in my life. Those things we’re most ashamed of tend to connect us the most deeply with our fellow humans. This human life can be really difficult. We aren’t taught positive ways to cope, so we end up getting completely overwhelmed when challenges inevitably arise. If you’re like me, then you may relate to the fact that I used to internalize everything happening around me as something that was my fault. As a child growing up in a tense household, I took all of the negative energy on as my own and it was the start of my depression. I felt confused, alone, and unlovable.

It is my hope that in sharing, I can help remove the stigma for just one person currently being challenged by mental illness. You are not alone. Do not be ashamed of needing to see a therapist. It’s brave of you to take that step and you should be proud of yourself for recognizing when you need help and asking for it. I know none of it is easy for you.

Know that many therapists will offer a sliding scale if you lack insurance that covers it. Don’t let money stop you. There are ways. If you’re a student, check in with your school. One of the best counselors I ever went to was at the community college I attended for nursing school. She was in training, but she was the best for offering practical and positive ways to cope with my stressors at the time, which was my health crisis.

Know too that you might not find the ‘right’ therapist for you on the first try. I have been to several and they are not all the same. I’ve had some that were a good fit and some that were a terrible fit. I was once so overwhelmed with life that I asked my therapist directly for positive coping mechanisms to get me through the stress I was feeling. She didn’t offer me any that day, and I never went back to her again. You know yourself better than anyone. If you’re not having a good experience with your therapist, trust yourself and find a new one. Of course be mindful that you’re not just sabotaging it, because you never wanted to go in the first place. But your therapist should help you feel better overall, and you should feel safe and heard.

Pay attention to your intuition or repeating messages. Is a particular office calling to you? Do people around you keep mentioning the name of the SAME therapist to you? Do you keep seeing an advertisement for a particular therapist over and over? Follow those leads, because your higher self is guiding you. Trust it.

Thank you for reading! If you like this post, please like and share it. Follow me on IG and Facebook for more positive content and perspective on life. Much love!

I Hope You Live Louder!

This is what I want for all of us: that we live louder and shine brighter! If you don’t know it yet, living a life 100% true to yourself, and in touch with your higher self, your soul, is part of what is going to shift the energy humans are bringing to the planet. Being our authentic selves is a big key to healing ourselves and in turn, humankind and the planet. Learning to love ourselves and others unconditionally because we look at everyone with compassion for their human experience.

It sounds counterintuitive when we’ve grown up feeling the need to blend in, the need to be like everyone else so that we don’t get made fun of and rejected by our peers. We’ve been programmed to buy certain things so we can be a certain way. I get it. I’ve grown up with the same programs. I’ve been systematically working to break them down. Changing our thoughts is paramount to changing our lives and in turn, the world around us. How many of us live without peace of mind, yet wish we had peace on the planet? How many want to see others happy, but we are not doing the things that create joy in our lives? It all starts with us on the individual level.

Our lives shape us in a way that is completely unique to us, and it’s by design. Everything is by design to get us to wake up, to realize our limitless potential as powerful creators in this life. I would not be who I am today without EVERY SINGLE THING I’ve experienced.

For instance, I am a good writer, because I used to write letters to my friends and family all the time! I wrote when I went away to college and when I was working in remote camps studying wildlife.

I have such a grateful view of the world because I got so sick that I almost died.

I love my body so much, because even with everything that it has been through, it allows me to do the things I love like hike, swim, and dance. There was a time when I didn’t think I’d be able to do any of those things again.

I was able to create playlists for ecstatic dance with such a huge variety of musicians, because music is what I turned to in my darkest moments. It’s also because I got recommendations along my path as I moved around as a wildlife/fisheries field biologist for the better part of 10 years. Music has been my fuel.

I was such a compassionate nurse in the hospital, because I’ve been the patient for so many years. I know the things I needed to hear when I was scared and in the hospital, so I was able to speak those things to others.

I laugh loudly without a care for who might hear me, because I have spent many days alone sobbing hard and wishing my life would end.

I appreciate wild places extra, because I grew up watching in horror as local mountains were excavated to make way for mines and highways, and smokestacks from steel mills appeared to create the clouds.

These days, I am quick to speak the feelings I have for people, because I have lost many dear friends at young ages. I know that more time is never guaranteed to any of us.

The list goes on and on. Our lives shape us. There are things that make us uniquely who we are, and those are the things that we’re meant to strengthen and share with the world! None of us were created to live small, quiet lives! The world needs you to feel as comfortable as you can being your true authentic, and vulnerable self, so that you can do the work and help shift our reality in a way that only YOU can! Show up and get to shining! It’s time to spread your wings and fly! And it’s time for all of us to make room for each other by holding space of unconditional love and acceptance in our hearts. Nothing good comes from not accepting other people for being different than us, just as nothing good comes from us hiding our true selves from the world!

I can tell you from experience that the more you cultivate the love you have for yourself, the more you won’t care what other people think about you. The less you care about what other people think of you, the more fulfilling your life will become. The more fulfilling your life becomes, the brighter your light will shine. When your light is shining bright, you provide light in all of this darkness to light your way to living your soul’s purpose, and to be a light for other people to find theirs.

The magic in my life happens when I’m acting as a lighthouse for others. I inspire you by following my joy and living a louder life. You in turn start following your joy and living a louder life. You inspire someone else. We create a ripple effect this way.

What kind of ripple are you currently creating with your life? Is it negative or positive? Are you complaining and gossiping all of the time, or are you living with gratitude and lifting others up with sincere compliments and unconditional love and acceptance?

The change we want to see in the world really does have to start with us. I want to live in a world where we care for each other like family, where we love and accept people for who they are, where everyone lives with equality and experiences the same opportunities, where we lift each other up and encourage each other to shine brighter every day! You’ve got this one life to live. Are you making it count?!

Thank you @tduckster for posting this today!

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Find me on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiration! Reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com if my words resonate with you, and you could use some intuitive guidance and healing energy to further align you with your soul’s path. It’s my passion to help others live their best lives! Much love to you!

Listen to Matisyahu’s “Thunder” HERE

Spiral of Healing

When this gorgeous orange cat showed up meowing at my front door at the end of October last year, I knew he had been sent to me on purpose. I had literally cleared my heart and spoke my intention into the Universe that our next dog would arrive at our door a day or so before. My son was dying for a dog here. I decided I was ready if the Universe thought it was good for us.

Fast forward to a pet communicator telling me that this cat was an answer to my prayer and a powerful healer here to help me not worry because things were all working out. Here to remind me to keep me collecting as much joy as possible.

I didn’t understand then. I didn’t feel like I needed a powerful healer. And then the last month or so of my life happened. This cat came to be with me NOW.

Nothing major has happened. I’m like many others on this planet right now who have been cycling through some tough stuff welling up from my past. You know…the bit of a roller coaster clearing cycles we’ve been feeling in recent months. All just being brought to the surface so we can finally heal and move forward completely with the new energy we’re able to tap into now.

Abandonment wound. I have one. From my research, most of us might. Can happen in childhood when we feel abandoned by our parents emotionally. Can happen when a parent leaves and doesn’t have anything to do with us. Can happen when a significant person to us dies. Can happen when a lover leaves or a divorce happens.

What I’m realizing is that it’s my big thing, meaning the big thing that’s healing in me every time one of these waves comes over all of us. It’s what I was healing in my last relationship.

I thought I was done with it. It got triggered recently, but almost as soon as I did, I realized that I wasn’t feeling the emotions of that moment, but instead of moments past. You’re probably feeling some things from moments past too, because I’m hearing that a lot from other people. It’s not just our moments past that we’re healing now, it’s our parent’s moments and their parents etc etc. It’s important work. Tiring work. So naps might be needed or earlier bedtimes. Crying might happen. Extra self care and love is needed.

What I’m being shown is that it’s really all about learning to feel what we feel when we feel it and allowing those feelings to flow how they need to. I know I put off a lot of feeling from when I was a kid experiencing things I didn’t really understand. I made up stories in my mind about what was going on and why. And I’m realizing that that’s OK that I did that, but now, I’m stronger and able to deal with those issues. They’re coming up to feel now. Sometimes it’s obvious as to where my feelings are coming from. Luckily, our triggers make things known, so we can feel and heal those old wounds. Amazing to be grateful for triggers. Never thought I’d write that sentence. If we feel these things, we’ll release them and they won’t have a stronghold on us anymore. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that to release what is coming up to be healed right now.

If you’re like me, your mind might get satisfaction in looking up traits associated with abandonment. Did you know that serial monogamist relationships in succession without break can be a form of self-medication? Guilty. We’re all human. Me, you, that person who drives you crazy. We’re all doing the best we can with where we are and we’re healing as we go. We all have lessons to learn and we all have things that need healed, or we wouldn’t be here. You are not alone. I know that for me, reading some of the things that go with abandonment wounds added clarity to my life and also reminded me of how far I’ve come.

Stop right now. Take a deep breath in. Think of the last year and all you’ve come through. Take a moment to feel good about how far you’ve come. Sending you so much love as we continue forward on this spiral of growth and expansion. We have not begun to move backwards. We’re simply digging deeper, so that more suppressed pain can be released to make way for even more light. Hang on. This all holds purpose for all of us.

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

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The People Flow

In January, I was able to get author Scott Stabile of “Big Love” and “Just Love” to come to my town and host one of his Writing Yourself workshops. If you don’t know about Scott and haven’t read his book, I highly encourage you to start following him on social media (FB and IG) and to read “Big Love”!! I fell in love with Scott and his ginormous heart before meeting him in person, but wow, that man’s energy is so grounding and healing that it feels like he could calm the whole world. Scott’s message of forgiveness and unconditional love is extra powerful, because all that he has been through. But I’ll let you read his book to find out why.

Scott posted this over on IG, and it’s a side shoot to a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: relationships we have with other people. As I have become more aligned with my true self, I find the flow of people into and out of my life more fascinating than upsetting. My mantra with everything is: I cannot lose anything that is meant for me. This works for people, situations, jobs, and opportunities etc. Anymore, as something or someone leaves my life, I find myself excitedly wondering what is going to come in to fill the space. There is always something. It might not be a person for a person or a job for a job, but rest assured that there is indeed a divine flow to this life we’re living. As we clear things no longer serving us, or as things are cleared FOR us, new doors open. Every time. As you love yourself and remove yourself from relationships and situations no longer serving you, new, beautiful things will flow to you. New people will flow to you.

I have gone through a lot of loss of people in my life, not just from people I know dying, though that’s happened more than I’d choose, but from the ebb and flow of people out and into my life. I think what I have learned from it, the perspective I have gained, makes it all worth it at this point. After all, isn’t everything in the past worth it once you’ve attained the ability to see the world with lenses that opens you to the magic all around you?! When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend starting when I was 15, so maybe around my junior year or so. He became my best friend and his family became my family. I think that family is what I was needing most at that time. My family felt stressful to me, so I often spent time at friend’s houses. It was my way to escape the tension and turmoil. His family treated me like part of the family. We stayed together for almost 8 years even though a decent amount of that time was spent long-distance as we traveled to college and then jobs. In that time, his Mom would call me to see how my job interviews went. She’d check in on me when she knew I was sick. She was like another Mom who, at the time, was more involved in my life than my own Mom. I loved her and the rest of their family a lot. I had become interested in my now ex-husband at the end of that relationship. We had been going through the motions for a while. As that relationship came to an end, and I began hanging out with someone else, I felt like I had to cut ties with his whole family. And it hurt. Bad. It was especially painful when I realized that without his Mom calling me, I didn’t really have family calling me to see how I was doing. I felt utterly alone and it was painful. I look back and see how I had developed a pattern of dependence on other people in order to feel loved, and so it wasn’t often that I was single. I went from one long-term relationship and wound up in another. I didn’t do the work to heal, instead, I chose to continue to fill the void that I felt. I didn’t do any of it consciously, it was all subconscious. How often do we do this though? Get afraid to feel the pain of our childhood and end up filling that void by clinging to people? I am sure it happens a lot. I think that that’s a big reason why humans generally find it so difficult to let go of people. We wrongly place measure of our value on the people in our lives, which means that when they leave, we often feel a bit kicked in the stomach. We fight, we scream, we cry, and sometimes we beg them not to go, or we prevent ourselves from leaving them.

A different way to look at this is that while we do genuinely miss people when they leave our lives, I think it’s more about what we perceive that they take with them that hurts the most. Like their love. I grew up in a family affected by alcoholism. I don’t say that to hurt anyone or place blame for how I am somewhere else, but I say it because it’s an important piece of my puzzle, part of what makes me, me. Suffice it to say that it’s a pattern that ran through many generations of men in my family, on both sides. I see it as fairly inevitable that it would continue to play out until someone came along that was strong enough to feel the pain and heal it. I am that person in my family. At any rate, I remember really struggling with my emotions and what was going on around me as a kid. I coped by holding in my emotions, by stuffing them as deep as I could, so I wouldn’t have to actually feel them. My feelings of sadness and anger overwhelmed me, and as a child, I didn’t really know what else to do with them. At times, they’d come out in fits of rage when my Dad would pick fights with me after my Mom had left the house. But mostly, I internalized them to keep the peace, or in a naive attempt to create peace. Through all of this, I internalized the feelings of abandonment and neglect I felt. At some point, I decided I must not be enough, I must not be lovable. And I carried those beliefs with me for most of the last 39 years of my life. I didn’t feel lovable, so I didn’t love myself. The only love I experienced then, came from other people. Without consciously knowing it, I operated from this place. I sought to fill that void. I sought the love I really needed to be giving to myself. I did things to feel love. I found friends. I found relationships. I found other families. It took a lot of healing and reflection to realize these things about myself. I share them now, because our common connection is our human nature. Perhaps my words will help someone else not feel alone. I hope that you realize that you are not alone in your struggles. Ever. For every struggle we experience, there are likely thousands, maybe millions, maybe billions of others who have gone through something similar.

My lifestyle has lent itself to the flow of people into and out of my life. I left my hometown for college a 17 hour drive away in Florida, then transferred to a different college in South Carolina, before settling at yet a third college in North Carolina. For the record, I still managed to graduate with my undergraduate degrees in 4 years. Does that really even matter though? I then did internships in various places. When I graduated, I traveled to Alaska. In total right now, I’ve lived in 10 states, and my full resume with all of my now 3 different careers is quite possibly 12 pages long! Yes, that’s real. So as you can imagine, I have met and worked with LOTS of different people in my life! When I left for college, I left friends I grew up with behind. When I left every college, I left friends and sometimes boyfriends behind. When I left jobs, I left coworkers/friends behind. I was with my high school boyfriend for almost 8 years, I was then with my ex-husband for nearly 10 years total. When my boyfriend and I broke up, I lost family, including a baby I lovingly referred to as my pseudo niece. When I got a divorce, I lost family, including a baby nephew. I also ‘lost’ friends in the divorce though I put it in quotes, because friends lost in divorce were never really friends, so nothing was truly lost. Friends, after all, are people who are there when we need them. I lost a community of people I had worked with. I later fell in love with my best friend of 20 years and so when that ended, I lost a best friend and a lover. At the time, losing my best friend who knew me better than anyone was excruciating. After that, I lost my dog of nearly 14 years that had been through every major life transition I experienced after college. When we lose a pet, we lose someone who only ever added positive things to our lives, so that too hurt very badly. But you know what? I survived all of it. My nomadic existence gave me a unique perspective on life, and on people in my life.

I have come to find that we always meet the people we are meant to meet when we’re meant to meet them. And we always have the people around us that we need while we need them. But the flow of people is meant to be free and flowing. At least, that’s what I think. I used to be sad when friendships faded, but now I just see it as the natural flow of life. We are all meant to teach each other and help each other grow, and when we’ve outgrown the relationship, it ends. Back in the day, handwritten letters connected me with fellow field biologists who were also in faraway places removed from technology. With the invention of social media, I have managed to stay in touch with lots of people, all over the world at this point. But the relationships changed and landed where they are meant to be now. I have lots of people I could pick up with where we left off, and I hope to with many of them someday. But even if that never happens, I am so very grateful for the connections we shared when we were hanging out in person. That importance in my life is there regardless of if I ever see them again. Every interaction and connection has added to who I am as a person.

My family lives across the country from me, and there was a time here even 6 years ago that I felt utterly alone in the town where I live. I was newly out of marriage and a new nurse who had been through the ringer as far as my health was concerned, plus I was a Mom, so I wasn’t really out meeting new people. Over time, I began to make friends and connect. As I became more comfortable as a nurse and healthier, I had more energy on my days off to do fun things and meet new people. I even formed friendships with people I was able to trust with my son’s care. It took time, but I built a community of people I could count on. Then, in 2018, I got in total alignment with my soul by listening to my intuition about everything. My tribe started showing up in full force! Now, I have so many people I know I could count on if I ever needed anything. It’s like night and day, and I am so grateful and proud of the family I have created here.

In my opinion, if you are struggling with feeling alone and isolated, the best thing you can do for yourself every day, and every time you feel overwhelmed by life, is to meditate. Start using it as your coping mechanism. Set a timer and start with 2 minutes at first, move up from there to find your personal sweet spot of time. Mine is 25 minute increments. Meditating will align you with your higher self, and your alignment is one thing that will help draw your tribe to you. Your tribe meaning the people who accept you completely.

Also, start showing up in life as your 100% authentic and vulnerable self with everyone you meet. When you get a good energy from someone, open up and talk about the things that really matter to you and really interest you, regardless of how strange those things may sound to some people. It was when I started accepting and loving myself as exactly as I am, and not caring what other people thought of me that I really became free and light! That light is what attracts people to me. It must be, because I don’t wear makeup or fancy clothes. I don’t dye my graying hair. I don’t get botox for my wrinkles. I don’t hide my true self. This is a big reason why I am now living my best life! I get loved for being me! I get paid for being me! There was a time when I was younger, that I would be suspicious of people who said they liked or loved me, because I didn’t feel like they really knew me. These days, I am sure that anyone who likes or loves me is seeing the real me, because I now only have one version of me in the world. Like me, love me, or not, and I am OK with it. I don’t need your love anymore, because I found my own. I don’t need your acceptance, because I accept myself. What I wish for you is that you find your own love and acceptance too, and that you realize that you are far more valuable to this world exactly as you are, without the mask society tells you to wear. Get really comfortable with yourself and being alone, like really live it up in your solitude, and you won’t have to do anything to find your people! They will come to you! In fact, you might even have to turn people down, because you’ll start to enjoy your solitude so much! Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

In my experience, when you get to this place of acceptance of the natural flow of people, you won’t cling to anyone anymore, because you’ll trust that you won’t lose anything meant for you. When you have your own love and acceptance, you stop needing anyone to be any certain way or do any certain things. You can love people to love them. You don’t need their love in return. You let them come, and you let them go, and you still remain in peace about it all. You learn your worth, and want to only spend time with people who want to be around, make time to be around. It is the best feeling to love this way! It feels so free, and empowering, and TRULY loving.

Please follow me on Facebook (/peacefuljellyfish) and IG (peaceful.jellyfish) for more content and impromptu Live videos. If my words resonate with you and you’re struggling with the flow of people out of your own life, reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com for the opportunity to work with me. I’d be happy to offer a free consult to see if we’d be a good fit.

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

Are You Giving Your Power Away?

“Life is much too short to continue to wait for someone else’s permission to fully live.”

Often we don’t realize we’re doing it, waiting for permission that is, but many of us are. Who are you giving your power away to?

Your parents? The ones who think that you should follow the status quo, because even after their divorce and decision to not date, they still believe that ultimate happiness for everyone lies in the house, the fence, the marriage, and the kids? When are you going to realize that you don’t have to live up to your parents’ expectations of you in order to be a fully whole and worthy human being? If your parents shoot down every idea you present to them that lights you up, stop telling them your plans. Stop asking for their opinions. Your journey is yours alone, and sometimes even your parents won’t understand you. And that’s OK.

Your kids? Maybe you’re a parent and you have Mom guilt about taking a trip alone. I know I did before I left for Western Australia in June of ‘18. Even though my son had balked at the idea of such a long flight, I still felt bad that he wasn’t going with me. But, at one point, I realized that it wasn’t right to put the burden of not following my life-long dream on my son’s shoulders. I think we wrongly do that a lot. We categorize ourselves as parents and then feel bad for anything we do outside of that role without our kids. We’re essentially feeding into the notion that our joy and self-care stops being important once our kids are born. But, if I have learned anything at all, it’s that I am a much better Mom when I have been consciously keeping my own bucket full. Our kids will be much better off if they have parents who take good care of themselves body, mind, and spirit. Our kids learn by what they see us do, not from our words, so in taking care of ourselves, we’re showing them how to take care of themselves. It’s not selfish, it’s vitally important.

Your partner? Perhaps they don’t like to do the things you want to do, and so you’ve just given up and decided that it’s easier if you just don’t do them. If you’re living that way, it’s only a matter of time before you lose yourself completely. It’s depressing to live a life in which you’re not following your joy. If your partner loves you unconditionally, then they will understand that it’s important for you to do things regularly that bring you joy. Maybe that’s not it, but you’ve been miserable for a long time and you’ve tried counseling and nothing is working. Your partner hasn’t made any effort towards making the partnership better, but then tells you they don’t want it to end. Know that you do not need their permission to leave. Know that any outsider who judges you for your feelings about your relationship has no business doing so, because they’re not in it. They can’t understand your experience, and they can’t see the dreams you hold for your life. It’s OK to let go. You don’t need anyone else’s permission but your own. I had friends offer their two cents as I was deciding on what to do about my own marriage. All it did was add to my guilt for feeling the things I felt. I stopped talking about it with other people, and ultimately made the decision that was best for me and my family. Side note: if you’re reading books titled things like “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”, it’s really time to leave. If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no. That goes for any decision in life.

Even when advice comes with good intentions, no one outside of us should hold power over us when it comes to living our best lives. Our journey is unique to us, and we’ve got to stop trying to get others to understand it before we feel comfortable enough in making decisions. We have one life to live. Make it count.

Want to work with me one on one? Check out the Work With Me tab and see if the combination of Intuitive Reiki Healing and Joy Coaching resonates with you. Feel free to email me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com. I love to hear from people!

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The Pain Before the Transformation

I am living proof that great pain can lead to massive transformation.

I spent much of my life as a peacekeeper and people-pleaser. I put the peace of a space and others’ well-being above my own. I became a sort of chameleon, changing in small ways to try and reduce tension in my house growing up, and later as a way to keep other people comfortable. I had an innate sense that if everyone around me was OK, that I would then be OK too. But I wasn’t OK. With each concession I made to create less waves, I moved farther and farther away from my true self. I didn’t notice it at first and couldn’t have predicted the level of depression and dis-ease that changing myself for others would cause someday.

When I found myself in a loveless marriage where I was lonelier than I have ever felt in times where I have actually been alone, I ignored what my heart was telling me. I had been so adamant about creating a family for my son, to be a happy, intact family that I hadn’t experienced, that to follow my heart meant to leave that dream behind for all of us. So, I ignored that knowing sense that I felt. I buried myself in raising my son. But it could not last forever. Eventually, my heart grew weak and nearly stopped working and I found myself at rock bottom. In one fell swoop, my health was taken from me, and I nearly died of heart failure. An emergent heart surgery later and I slowly began to find my way back to myself.

The recovery felt fast at first, until it became apparent that my heart condition was going to be a recurring theme in my life. Doctors had trouble figuring it out, and so they did what they could to ward it off with a steroid bandaid in the form of prednisone pills.

There are lots of parts to this story, but the take away is much more important at this point, for me and for you.

1. Stop putting yourself second to the wishes of others. Humans are fickle beings, and won’t stay happy for long before you’re feeling the need to do more to feed their happiness. You don’t have the ability to make anyone else happy if they themselves haven’t found a way to cultivate happiness in their own life. We can add to another’s happiness, but we are not responsible for creating it.

2. Stop changing yourself to fit in with the people around you. In the end, you’ll feel like a shell of yourself, plus you’ll soon realize that they’re not your people anyway. Who wants to hang out with people who don’t love you for being 100% yourself? The chameleon game is an exhausting one. You’ll find yourself eventually losing yourself and wondering how it happened. It happens in small, incremental changes you make in yourself to make others comfortable. You likely won’t realize it’s happening until you’ve forgotten even the basics of what you like to do for fun, and who you are at your core.

3. Stop doing things that stress you out, like really stress you out. If you’re in a relationship that adds more stress to your life than happiness, don’t feel bad about putting yourself first and leaving. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone by staying. Life is much too short to spend it with people who don’t light you up. Same goes with anything else in life.

4. Stop doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. It’s not only the definition of insanity, but it won’t get you into a different life that you’ve been imagining for yourself. If you want something different than what you currently have, you’ve got to be willing to move out of your comfort zone and do new things.

5. Start putting yourself first. Do things that make you happy, that bring you joy. What have you been putting off that you really want to do? What steps can you take towards doing it now? Start saying no to things you don’t want to do.

We can use our experiences to guide us in life or we can use them to feel like victims. The choice is ours. If you’re stressed, or sick, or not living your best life, it’s time to look at the areas of your life that are no longer working for you. The days of being a people-pleaser, peacekeeper, and martyr are over. The time has come for us all to realize our limitless potential to create a life of our dreams. Life is much too short to continue to wait for someone else’s permission to fully live! Give yourself the permission you need to go after your dreams like this is the only shot you’ve got!

I am passionate about using a mix of intuitive Reiki Healing and Joy Coaching to encourage others to follow their joy and passion towards living a life in alignment with their soul’s purpose (ie. living their best lives). Guiding others in this way and offering the confirmation that they need to follow their dreams lights me up like nothing else! Please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram for more written content and impromptu FB Live videos. If my words resonate with you, please feel free to reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com to tell me about it! I love connecting with people!! Maybe you have a topic you’d love me to write about?

Photo excerpt from “Life Visioning” by Michael Bernard Beckwith

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Dance Like No One is Watching!

Edward Hernandez

I have always LOVED to dance! It’s one of my absolute favorite things to do ever! I started off dancing more in my life in the Fall of 2017 when I decided to stop waiting for people who would be open to going and seeing live music with me. So, I just decided to start going solo. That began with short trips to Santa Cruz when I saw that a funk band would be playing. One of my best days over there was in early 2018 when I combined my first time surfing with a night out dancing (you can read about it HERE). When I was in my 20’s, I was never afraid to be the first one on the dance floor if I liked the music. Then along the way, because of the people I began to hang out with, I was made aware of the fact that there are people who will sit on the sidelines and make fun of the people dancing. It surprised me. So I became more shy about dancing. I could literally hear what was being said about the people dancing, and if I did dance, I worried that people were talking badly about me. In college, I went to an amazing school where I didn’t feel like I had to be any certain way. All bands that came to campus, all music being played were opportunities for ecstatic dance for me, because I danced however I felt the urge and truly danced like no one was watching. In that case, people weren’t watching, because they were also dancing however they wanted and were too busy having fun to focus on me. It was FANTASTIC! I think that’s where I learned to dance and be free in my skin. I am so grateful for that experience even more now that I realize that not everyone has experienced a truly safe space to freely express themselves.

I have been so blessed in the last few months to get to go dancing a lot, solo, with friends, and on a few dates even! It has given me so much joy! I’ve decided that I am going to make even more dancing a priority in 2019! I had started ecstatic dance in my town last Fall, and it was so much fun! People enjoyed having a place to go to dance however they felt moved to, away from people constantly invading their space, and free from spectators with cameras and snide remarks. When that project dissolved for reasons not in my control, I sought other ways to add more dancing to my life. I visited a yoga studio holding ecstatic dance and I began to seek out more live music again. I’m not too proud to say that I also dance a lot around my house, alone. But there is definitely a unique energy that comes from a crowd of people dancing to a band, or even a DJ that doesn’t compare to doing it alone at home. I get so energized by crowds of people coming together for the sole purpose of having fun and dancing. I have been a part of full dance floors of people, and I have been to shows where no one was dancing. In 2018 to present, in the times when the dance floor has been empty, I have thought back to the person I used to be who didn’t care what people thought of her when she was the first one on the dance floor, and in those moments, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and DANCED! You know what always happens when I do that? Other people eventually join me and start dancing too! It has been an especially fun challenge to force myself to be the first one dancing since I decided to stop drinking alcohol entirely last summer. Having a few drinks to build up ‘liquid courage’ and getting on the dance floor first is one thing, but doing it after only chugging water is quite another. Try it! I find that I sweat so much while dancing that even if I drink water all night, I still wake up feeling dehydrated!

One thing I’ve realized is that until recently, I hadn’t dated someone who liked to dance as much as me. Granted, my relationships have generally looked like this: start dating, stay together for years, and then break up or get divorced. I haven’t really done the “dating lots of people to figure out what I like” thing. I find someone I like, and I go with it. But wow, what a game changer it was to go out with someone who also loves to dance like no one is watching!! We ended up dancing for most of 5 or 6 hours of our first date, and I can guarantee you that no one around us would have ever guessed that we had only just met! I had a ridiculous amount of fun that I want to have more of in my life! Similar to the energy of dancing as part of a crowd, there’s an amazing energy created when two people dance their faces off and act goofy and carefree together for that many hours! I am so grateful for that connection and that time!

Last night, I went out solo to see my friend, Edward Hernandez, play ukulele with a friend of his. You can check him out HERE. The dance floor was completely clear without so much as a person standing on it for the entire show. I stood on the sidelines bobbing my head and tapping my hands and feet for most of it. A lot of the songs were on the slower side. Then, he got to his last song, and said that it was a dance song and invited people to come dance. No one moved a muscle. I thought about it, then I figured why the hell not?! So I pushed past my comfort zone (yes, even now after all of these times, I STILL have that nervousness that I have to ignore), and made my way to the dance floor. You know what happened? I had a lot of fun, and eventually some other people joined me. A DJ played after my friend, and I stayed to dance. I find that every time I get on the dance floor and do my thing in all of my joyful glory, other people want to join in. So even if you intend to dance alone, know that it won’t be long before someone or a whole group of people tries to join you.

If you find yourself staying inside your comfort zone, but not experiencing as much joy as you want to be, then I encourage you to ditch the comfort zone that is holding you prisoner in the camp of ‘I am worried about what other people will think of me’! When are you going to start living life on your terms?! When are you going to understand that this life is a fleeting gift meant to be LIVED?! How can I get you to believe that your purpose is the thing that brings you the most joy in life? Your purpose is not elusive, it’s your ability to prioritize your joy that prevents you from finding your purpose. Do the things that light you up more often, because they will connect you with your soul, and then you will be guided to new people, situations, and opportunities that will enrich your life in ways you’ve never dreamed. What will you be leaving your comfort zone for in 2019? What experiences are you hoping to attract into your life this year that are worth taking some leaps?

If you’d like some extra encouragement and support as you work to find or add more joy to your life, reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmailcom for more information about a combination of Intuitive Reiki Healing and Joy Coaching! I am very passionate about helping others find more joy, peace, and happiness in their lives! It’s a big part of my soul’s purpose.

Please follow me on FB (/peacefuljellyfish) and IG (peaceful.jellyfish) for more insightful content and impromptu FB Live videos. I also have a YouTube Channel for you to check out!

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Listen to my friend, Edward Hernandez, covering “Dream On” by Aerosmith HERE