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.

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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

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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Let’s Help Each Other Out of Our Boxes

greyscale photography of human grave

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When people do not feel accepted for who they truly are, suicide rates go up. We’re seeing that across the board, though especially within the LGBT+ community. You can read some statistics about suicide within the LGBT+ community HERE on the Trevor Project website.  Placing further limitations on the rights of those who identify as transgender could mean many more lost lives. I really hope that that bothers you as much as it bothers me.  I do not believe that anyone’s comfort is worth more than someone else’s life.

It’s time that we show ourselves unconditional love so that we can spread unconditional love and acceptance to others. I think the health of our society can be judged by the happiness and peace of the people in it. We’re really out of touch if we think that we have a healthy society when so many people continue to kill themselves and others.  We have a lot of room for improvement in creating a culture that places more priority on authenticity and vulnerability and less on trying to conform us and fit us into generic, one-size-fits-all boxes. Humans aren’t meant to fit into boxes of any kind.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine several months ago and it was really eye-opening for me. We were talking about sexual orientation and the fact that they had been in relationships with men and women. They spoke of the fact that sexuality isn’t a black and white issue and that people can feel attraction to both sexes, but then feel forced into identifying a certain way. We spoke about the fact that humans like clearly defined labels, and that sexual orientation had, for the most part, been reduced to people being forced into the neatly defined boxes of either straight or gay. How accepted is bisexuality as a whole?  The day my friend and I were talking, I just sort of took it all in and ruminated on the way that we tend to try and define each other based on things like race, religion, and sexual orientation. They’re all just boxes of conformity and should not be used to define whole groups of people.

It got me thinking. My belief, shared with many on a spiritual path, is that our bodies house our souls which carry both a divine masculine and divine feminine energy. Both sides are important for each of us as we use them to be the people we came into this life to be, so that we can do what we came here to do. I think ultimately, it’s about striking a balance within ourselves between our masculine and feminine halves, accepting what each brings to the table, and accepting whatever combination shows up as us. Some of us feel more feminine and some of us feel more masculine, and that’s OK and normal regardless of sex. As you all know, it’s hard enough to learn to accept ourselves in this life, without the extra influence of having outside voices and outlets shout at us about who we ‘should’ be, how we ‘should’ act, and what our sexual orientation ‘should’ be. But in our own pain and lack of self-love and self-acceptance, we tend to harshly judge others in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. We keep the focus off of our own issues by pointing loudly at other people. This simply leads to even more separation and hate, which is the opposite of what we need if we truly want to live in a more peaceful world. Separation and hate makes guns feel like an answer to the pain. But neither homicide nor suicide are the answers. Love and inclusiveness ARE the answers.

I think sometimes it’s not even about hate necessarily, but about protection from perceived threats. For instance, people will generally prefer to stay comfortable in their own lives, especially if their lives aren’t being personally affected by the injustices, than to speak out and out themselves against the voice of the majority. But I believe that the most change will come when those of us who live lives of privilege educate ourselves on the issues at hand and do our part to speak out and stand with those who need our support. When we have people with political power refusing to sign marriage licenses of gay couples, it is not only the gay couples who should have a problem with it and work towards changing it, but all of us. When we have a government separating children from their parents in the name of ‘border safety’, we should all have a problem.

A quote from the late Elie Wiesel, human rights activist, author, and Holocaust survivor, speaks to this beautifully:

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

At a recent event with Glennon Doyle, a young boy got up to speak about the issue of kids at school talking about how gay and transgender people were not loved by god and would go to hell. Glennon told the boy essentially that when you stand with the kids who are hurting, you can never go wrong. She said if you ever hear words of fear and shame being used to hurt people, that’s not god. Glennon said god is only ever love. She spoke to the fact that god doesn’t make mistakes in creating people. In my opinion, we should all be standing with the people who are hurting. I am sure that many of us have experienced people not being nice to us, and haven’t we always appreciated the support of others during those times?

I think that the boxes we attempt to place ourselves and others in are the ultimate betrayals to humanity. Once we pretend that we know someone or an entire group of people, we stop being present to their truth and the unfolding of their being. We expect certain things from them. We get uncomfortable when they change or don’t fit into the category in which we’ve previously placed them. We close ourselves off from allowing their fluidity, growth, and expansion.  We relate to them with an us-them mentality that is neither loving , nor inclusive.  I believe that this us-them division mentality was taught to us and continues to be fed to us on purpose.  I believe that when we are made to see others as different from ourselves, then we’re less likely to fight our government when they want to drop bombs in ‘other’ places on ‘other’ people.  It causes a divide in our nation that makes us fight and kill each other rather than fight against the people and policies that continue to hold our brothers and sisters down.  If we understood that humanity is one family, living beings are one family, we would be outraged when ANY members of our living family were killed, tortured, ridiculed, beaten, broken, and treated like second-class citizens. We lose power when we’re divided. Our power multiplies infinitely when our intentions are for more love, equality, compassion, humane treatment, inclusiveness, and acceptance for all, not just the select few we deem as worthy of what should be basic human rights. It is essential that we always consider how we would want our own children treated when we take action or vote on laws, choose to speak up or stay quiet. Whatever treatment you want for your own children if they were in a given situation is exactly what should guide your actions and decisions in life. All children are someone’s children and all adults are just an older version of those same children.

When I started on this path towards complete transformation several years ago, I was in a relationship and had the person say to me, “but I like you the way you are and I don’t want you to change.” It was one of the biggest signs that the relationship was no longer healthy for me or serving my highest good. Change is the only constant in this life, so when we pressure others into fitting into a box or staying the same, we ultimately tell them that we do not accept and love them unconditionally. Expecting or wanting someone to stay the same may sound like a compliment, but it is a way of telling them that our comfort in familiarity is more important that our love for them. If we love people unconditionally, then we do not ask them to change OR stay the same. We love them when they are straight or when they are gay or when the lines of those categories is blurred.  We love them when they have a different religious or spiritual backgrounds than us.  We love them when their skin color differs from ours.  We love them because they are our human family and we are all in the same boat of navigating through this messy, human experience.

We have to remember that god/the universe/the divine/source never makes mistakes when it creates something or someone. For instance, you can be sure that if someone is gay, that they are meant to be exactly as they are, irregardless of what society, your church, your family, or your upbringing has led you to believe. We are all exactly as we are meant to be. G/U/D/S is always love. We are all parts of that love. We are meant to show ourselves and each other unconditional love. It’s the key that we’ve been missing on a personal and global level. When I accept myself completely, I accept you completely too. When I love myself unconditionally, I am able to love you unconditionally as well.

I continue to be most attracted to people who don’t conform. The dreamers, the healers, the artists, the travelers, the peaceful, the medicine people, the change-makers, the eccentric, the lovers, and all other forms of beautifully unique, real, down-to-earth people who are living their truth in alignment with their soul/higher self.

This year has pushed me into becoming my most authentic self, and it seems fitting that I also seek authenticity in those closest to me.  It is only by living in the most authentic way that we can finally feel love from others, like truly feel it, because we know that we are being seen and loved for the real version of us.

I want honesty and vulnerability in my connections with others because I crave deeper connections with the people around me. When we are real with each other, then we know that we are all much too vast and limitless to fit inside of any boxes. Accept me as I am, separate from any categories your mind wants to place me in, and give me a hand as I step outside of this cramped box that our culture has tried to squeeze me into for all of these years. And I’ll do the same for you. Let’s give each other the freedom to be the truest version of ourselves as it is revealed to us one minute at a time.

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

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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

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

Why is it so Difficult to Let Go?

Letting go.  The energy right now is stirring up feelings in all of us that we need to purge the things in our lives that are no longer serving us.  It’s happening with everyone I talk to.  It’s happening in my life.

Thoughts and Patterns

For me, it’s shown up as old feelings, thoughts, beliefs rising up to the surface to be dealt with and healed once and for all.  When I started having these old beliefs and patterns show up again, I got anxious.  I was sure that I had already moved past all of my worries of lack.  I thought I had gotten right with all of it.  Well, this energy swirled up and there it all was again.  My five senses didn’t help either.  My sight told me that my bank account was lower than I felt comfortable.  I was in Hawaii when all of this surfaced and still had to pay for food and activities for the duration.  Luckily for me, I am connected to an amazing community of empaths who were also sharing what they had been feeling, so I knew I wasn’t alone.  And I realized too, that all of this was for a higher purpose, to free me from my mind-created limits so that I can have peace regardless of anything outside of myself.  So, I went within.  I felt my anxiety and I coped with it by meditating daily.  I had stopped for part of my vacation, and clearly, that did not help me.  I sunk into the feelings and realized the truth:  that I am always being taken care of and that I have everything I needed in that moment.  It’s sometimes the moment by moment examination of my life that brings me the most peace.  I stop what I am doing and realize I am OK right NOW.  I have the money I need NOW. I have the roof over my head NOW. I have the amazing family around me NOW.  I began to feel better.

Once I moved through those feelings, I looked at the beliefs surrounding my abundance or lack of abundance and I shot them down one by one.  I knew I had enough resources to take care of us on our trip.  Enough to pay rent and our bills.  I also realized that a late payment here or there because I am on a unique journey of creating a new life for myself is OK.  It won’t kill me.  I won’t be thrown in jail.  I trust.  I trust that I will always have more than I need.  I trust my journey.  I trust that I am always being taken care of.  I know the limitless nature of the Universe and of my life.  I have experienced amazing things that have shown me what we are capable of doing in this life.

Isn’t it interesting though that letting go and releasing is what we’re being taught all of the time, but that it’s one of the most difficult things for us to do?  I know I am not alone in this.  We are always being asked to surrender and release things, people, situations that are no longer serving our highest good.  Sometimes it is so obvious that it feels like the Universe just smacked you on the side of the head to let you know when to let go.  But still, often times we continue to hold on.

Jobs

It got me thinking about where that sense of holding on comes from, especially if we know that something is no longer for our highest good.  Is it habit? I have found thoughts, beliefs, and behavioral patterns the most difficult things to let go of, to change, to replace.  I am sure that’s due to how our brains are wired and how synapses between neurons are created with repetition.  When we’ve been hearing the same things around money all of our life…like money is hard to come by…there’s never enough money…you have to work hard for money…our brains get wired for lack.  So it takes time and a lot of conscious effort and reprogramming to change those thoughts that became beliefs.  If it took years, sometimes hundreds and thousands back through our ancestry, to create those beliefs, then it’s normal for it to take a while to change them.  And that’s OK.  That’s actually a good reminder for me too.  I have been working to change my beliefs around abundance for a few years, and have just started to really make headway with it this year.  BUT how amazing that I have now seen changes?!?!?!  I got discouraged by my reaction to my bank account, but really, I have come SO far.  I’m one to not always recognize and celebrate my victories along the way.  To me, this is victory!  Living in the flow, at complete peace, as my whole life transitions in ways I can’t even fully see yet, is a gigantic victory.  I think I am going to relish in that truth today.

Thoughts and beliefs aren’t the only things that we are being asked to release.  Everything in our lives is fleeting, there is no constant but change.  We are being asked to let go of jobs that no longer serve us, friendships that no longer serve us, living arrangements that no longer serve us, romantic relationships that no longer serve us, and material items that no longer serve us.  But, much of the time, it is easier said than done.  For me, I notice that in times when I am having trouble letting go, I get a sense that I will never have a job like x, that pays x or I will never have a connection like I had with x again, or what if in the future I need x item, if I get rid of it I won’t have it.  We get ourselves so attached to things outside of us that we start to believe the lies that our minds tell us about them.  Think of how many of us stay in jobs we don’t enjoy because we feel that we HAVE to.  Have you ever experienced that?  Where you feel like if you let that job go, there won’t be another to take its place fast enough…or that the next one won’t pay enough?  I have.  And I know that I am not alone.  We never are in any of our struggles.  We are wrong.  There is always another job.  In fact, if we are miserable, then there’s always a BETTER job out there for us!

I’ll tell you a story that really sheds light on this.  After college, I went away for the summer to study seabirds in Alaska.  When that job ended, I moved with my boyfriend back to my college’s town.  I mostly just wanted to be in that place with the good friends that I had made there who were also staying.  My job wasn’t my focal point, I just needed one to pay the bills.  Of course, I am one that prefers that my work have some kind of positive impact or meaning.  I took a job with a local daycare in their preschool classroom.  I think because of my degree, I *might* have made about $8 per hour.  I have always loved kids and had done some teaching in third-grade classrooms as part of the work program at my college.  I was content with this job.  I was grateful to get this job.  Aside from the fact that I was sick for almost the entire 3 or 4 months I worked at this daycare, I had very little support.  As it turned out, it rated low on the scale used to score daycare centers in that area, and I could see why.  Moral among teachers was low.  The student to teacher ratios were higher than they were supposed to be.  When I started, I was the second teacher in the class with mostly 4 year olds, but a few 3 and 5 year olds as well.  The other teacher had more of a primary lead in the classroom as she had been there for a while.  I got my bearings and learned the children’s routine and tried to be a positive influence on the kids’ lives.  (Wow! I just remembered that there was another teacher who would join us here and there and we would have the kids sit quietly and chant ohm! I had forgotten that!)  We were doing our best.  I did a good job.  Parents often commented about the smile that I always had on my face.  Then, sweeping changes were moving through and teachers got uncomfortable.  The lead teacher in my classroom quit one day out of the blue.  I was bumped to lead teacher.  My roster of kids suddenly became overwhelming.  I was on my own.  Still, I did my best.  Mostly, I was a referee in those days saying things like stop punching Tommy and you cannot use the scissors to cut kids’ hair.  Please stop running.  You get it.  I was still making play dough at home and bringing it in.  I was buying workbooks with my own money to teach the kids how to write the letters and their names.  I would go home and cry.  I was stressed. And the owner of the daycare would often tell me that she would relieve me by a certain time in the afternoon so that I could leave the kids with her and start cleaning the classroom, but often, she wouldn’t show up.  I had no other job possibilities on the horizon, so I felt stuck.  I didn’t see a way out, but I was miserable.  With so many kids and so little support, my plans for classroom were difficult to carry out.

Then it happened.  The owner told me she’d come and relieve me from the playground at a certain time, but failed to show up for 1.5 to 2 hours past that time.  It was the last straw.  So, without warning to me or her, I made sure the kids were under supervision and took her aside and quit.  I quit on the spot.  I had never done that before, nor have I done it since.  When my boyfriend got home from work, I told him.  I was nervous about not having funds to pay for my share of the expenses.  I was worried that it would take a long time to find a new job.  But, you know what happened?  I was taken care of, completely.  As it turns out, one of my best friends had just applied for, interviewed for, and gotten a job at a local veterinary clinic, but she had decided that she wasn’t going to take the position and she urged me to call them.  Within a week, I had called them and had an interview, and by 2 weeks, I was in a new job!  That’s how the Universe works!  When we take care of ourselves and we allow ourselves to release a job that no longer serves us, a new job comes our way!

Relationships

How many times have you known that you needed to end a relationship, but you kept it going anyway?  I think we are all familiar with the thoughts that we’re never going to love someone as much as x, or we’re never going to have the connection that we had with x, or we’re never going to find someone like x.  Is that usually the way it works out?  You break up with someone and you NEVER love again?  No!  Not at all. But boy, when we’re in the thick of it, we sure do believe all of the things that our minds tell us. We believe in the lack of life.  What we need to ask when out minds say those things and attempt to play those kinds of tricks on us is, is this true?  Is this really true?  Am I never going to love anyone again?  Is no one going to love me ever again?  Are the answers to these questions obvious when you ask them while you aren’t in the thick of a break up? The trick is to remember the truth vs what your brain is telling you when shit hits the fan.  The trick is also to trust your intuition over your brain, because your intuition will never steer you wrong, but your brain will try.

As I write this, I get a notification with these timely words:

“Stop returning to people and things that don’t feel good.  There’ll be no need for healing when you learn to cut off the source of your struggles.”

— @sourcemessages on Instagram

Yesterday, I went to one of my happy places in the river to take a dip and cool off.  While floating in the middle of the stream, I asked that all that I am meant to release, be released.  I set the intention that the water would work with the already powerful, swirling energy of the day, and wash away all that I need to let go of at this time.

With the energy of the full moon, and the longest lunar eclipse that just happened yesterday, we are all being asked to examine our lives and step into all that we have been working to manifest.  It is impossible to receive when we aren’t willing to let go of what we have that is no longer serving us.  We need to tell ourselves the truth.  We need to stop glossing over things and settling for less than we want on account of feeling like we’ll never be able to get what we actually want.  What we want is always available to us, we just have to get out of our own way.  We have to stop looking at life from a place of lack with limited money, limited lovers, limited friends, limited jobs, limited material items, and limited experiences.  The only limits that exist in the world are the ones created by our minds.  From experience, when you stop worrying about lack and start seeing all of the abundance in your life, you realize that you’re being completely guided and supported at all times.  It really is true that when one door closes, another opens.

I encourage you to purge all that feels heavy and stifling, and stressful while you feel motivated.  I am once again being urged to purge and declutter my house.  We can all do it knowing that it will clear out the old to make way for the new.  We live in an abundant Universe.

How are you feeling this week?  Have you been sorting through stuff and making trips to Goodwill?  Have you been emotional about all of the old thoughts and patterns resurfacing?  You are not alone.

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