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!

Fear or Love?

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I used to make my decisions based in fear.  But it was a subconscious thing I was doing.  In fact, it was so subconscious that it took an intuitive reading with some students at the Berkeley Psychic Institute to have this pattern pointed out to me.  They specifically told me:  “You’ve made a lot of your decisions based on fear.”  It was a HUGE aha!  moment in my life, a total game-changer!  And as if my life was a movie playing out on a gigantic screen in my head, I began seeing images for my past flash upon the screen.  Mostly, I saw the big transitions in life.  I flashed to the time when I was deciding on college during late night school.  I remember having fear that if I didn’t use the opportunity and resources to leave my hometown, that I would be stuck there forever in the life that everyone around me was living, devoid of the travel and adventure that I was so longing to experience.  I see now that a lot of my beliefs were passed onto me from my family.  The notion that money was hard to come by, and that success could only come after earning a college degree.  I see now that those are just stories we tell ourselves that ultimately work to hold us back.  Fast forward some years later, and before my marriage, I had some fear that if we didn’t take the next step in our relationship and get married, that the only alternative was to end the relationship.  Shit or get off the pot, right?!  This was something that I put on myself.  And with my current perspective, that notion seems completely ridiculous.  But how many of us carry this story around?  In reality, relationships can be whatever we want them to be without us having to fit it into a box that someone built a long time ago.  Again, long-held stories passed down generation after generation.  We absorb the beliefs and stories held by our families and we subconsciously carry them into our adulthood.  But many of the stories that we carry are not serving us well, and even though they feel like the truth, they are not.

And it’s not just the big decisions that count when we examine our lives to see if we’re living from a place of fear or a place of love.  It’s the small every day decisions after all, the moments, that we have every day that add up in seemingly more rapid succession all the time, that create our lives.  It’s our day in, day out moments that determine our future.  An interesting thing that I heard recently in one of Jake Ducey’s videos, is that our current reality is merely a reflection of the decisions and beliefs of our pasts.  It’s not defining who we are right now.  We define ourselves in the present moment.  So the work that we’re doing now to create the best version of ourselves, the work that we’re doing to free ourselves from the stories, will all make way for a brighter future for us.

In general, I have to realize that I am doing something in order to change it.  And in this case, it took having this pattern of living in fear recognized and spoken out loud to make me see how I had been creating my life.  In that moment, I decided that I did not want to live in fear.  I did not want to make decisions based on my fears, because I know that the fear prevents me from taking positive action in my life, and prevents me from doing things that I want to do.  Fear comes in handy when it comes to keeping us from getting hurt in the moment, like a healthy fear of not wanting to touch a hot stove top, or the fear that keeps us from stepping into a busy road without first checking that no cars are coming.  But a lot of the fear is unfounded.  Our minds build things up.  Have you experienced that too?  Maybe you avoid doing something because you’re afraid of all of the things that “could” go wrong.  There are difficult things that I felt I had to do to not live with regrets in this life, and my fear almost stopped me from even trying.  But on the other side of so many instances where I chose to follow the love in my heart vs. the fear in my mind, I have found that it is much more satisfying and fun to turn those fears off and LIVE!

To me, basing my decisions on love is a much more fulfilling and authentic way to live.  When a decision is before me, I try to silence my fears and listen to my heart, my higher self.  I like to be led with my soul, because in my experience, the things that follow fill me with the most joy.  I believe the purpose of this life is to live our joy and to share it with others.  Like Jake Ducey said during his “Genius Within” seminar, we should all be working towards having everything in our lives making us really REALLY happy!  And as Eckhart Tolle said in the “Power of Now”,  when something in our life isn’t making us happy, then we need to work to remove ourselves from the situation, change it, or accept it.  We only have those three options.  Small things like going outside of my fear of rejection and introducing myself to someone new has led me to my closest friendships here.  But in the moment, I had a fear to put myself out there, a nervousness, but I reached out anyway because for me I had set meeting new people and making new friends as a priority in my life.  It was something that was important to me.  And I could see that if I always did the same things, I was going to get the same results.  So, if I hadn’t been making new friends because I let my nerves stop me from speaking up, I was going to have to change that behavior to get a new outcome.  It works!  I have had it reinforced so many times now that when I am faced with a new situation that pushes me outside of my comfort zone, I consciously don’t let the fear win.  I know that if I lead with my heart, beautiful things come of it, or that the experience will grow me/my life in powerful ways.  So either way, it’s always worth it.

We don’t make new friends by sitting back and allowing our nerves to control our actions.  We don’t go on adventures if we stay home and “what if” ourselves to death.  What if a mountain lion attacks me? What if I get lost?  What if I can’t hike for 8 miles?  What if the cute boy turns me down?  What if no one likes me?  What if my business fails?  We spend TOO MUCH TIME focusing on all of the things that could go wrong and not enough time focusing on everything that could go right!  “What if” will keep you living a small, uninspired life.  Stop asking yourself “what if” (fill in the negative outcome), and take action.  Follow your heart and trust that you will be rewarded for it.

Our egos are powerful.  They exist to keep us safe.  They have collected a series of beliefs, patterns, thoughts, behaviors from our experiences, but also from people that we have been surrounded by, our society, culture, and even our ancestors.  Subconsciously, our lives are being affected by things that we believe to be true that we have never fully examined.  How are your subconscious beliefs affecting your life?  Can you see that everything and everyone outside of yourself is not really your issue?  Maybe you’re just starting to ponder this for yourself, so maybe the concept that all of our issues come back to us is foreign to you.  Or maybe you’ve been doing the work for a while now, and you have come to realize that the situations in your life are just reflecting your inner state back to you.  Regardless of where you are on your journey, you are right where you are supposed to be in this moment.  We all learn the lessons we are meant to learn when we are meant to learn them.  Sometimes, we have beliefs that we aren’t deserving of love, things, xyz, and so those beliefs manifest in our reality, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When we believe that our life is lacking, we see lack show up in our life.  When we don’t believe that we are worthy of something, we don’t see it show up in our life, no matter how badly we want it.  Have you ever heard the saying, “we don’t get what we want, we get what we are?”  So when we walk around feeling unworthy, that’s how we are showing up in life, and our experiences work to reinforce our thoughts.  Start feeling worthy of all success and watch your life change.  Start living in love with yourself, and watch people show up in your life who love you.

Last year, my doctor found a lump in my breast during a routine physical.  Initially, I got scared, it surprised me.  But luckily, this came after my realization that my previous illnesses had been for my own good, so I functioned from that place, and I set the fear aside.  Instead of worrying incessantly about all of the “what ifs”, I thought 1. it may be benign in which case no amount of worrying is needed or worth my time 2. if it is cancer, I have worked in oncology and I know the doctors and have a good understanding of the path of treatment that I would choose 3. I knew I was being taken care of no matter the outcome and 4. I trusted that if it was something that was meant to kill me, that I would be OK and my son would be OK because the Universe is always taking care of us.  I told my family because I felt like they needed the head’s up just in case, so they wouldn’t be so blindsided if it was cancer.  But I took my own advice that I give to parents when their baby is having an extra test to check their heart or spinal cord, and that is to try really hard to not worry unless the test comes back and the doctor tells you it’s something to worry about.  And I just flowed with it.  On the day of my mammogram, I was in a great mood.  My sister was visiting and it was a beautiful, sunny day.  I was curious about the whole mammogram process.  I had zero fear when I walked into the building.  I smiled, and talked to people I came into contact with.  I was excited when they told me that I’d also have the needed ultrasound done at that same appointment, because it would all be done that day.  I lived with the trust that I was being taken care of.

And guess what?! It ended up being no more than a small, fluid-filled cyst.  A tiny little spot of fluid, no more, no less.  I was SO happy that I had not wasted my time worrying!!  Imagine the weeks of time that worrying would have stolen from me.  All to find out that it was nothing.

Don’t get me wrong though, my old self would have been completely losing my shit!  I probably would have been on the verge of giving myself a stomach ulcer by thinking about it so much.  The hamsters in my brain would have prevented me from sleeping and from enjoying all of the moments between the doctor’s office and the day of my mammogram.  I would have been researching all of the worst-case scenarios and the possible treatments.  I would have made myself sick, because I would have been so worried that I was sick.  It sounds completely ridiculous when you put it that way, doesn’t it??!  A perfectly healthy woman making herself sick by worrying that she might be sick.  But that’s the power of the mind.  I can’t reinforce that point enough.  If you believe that you are sick, you will be sick.  If you believe that you are healthy, you will be healthy.  If you believe that your body can heal itself, it can.  If you believe that you need expensive drugs to heal, then you do.  Our minds are much more powerful than we give them credit.  Think about the placebo effect.  When we are told, and tell ourselves that we are taking a beneficial medicine, then we see the positive benefits of that medicine, even if all we are taking is a sugar pill.  Jake Ducey cited an example during the seminar where during WWI, they ran out of IV morphine and started using IV normal saline when performing major surgeries.  So they were telling the soldiers that the normal saline was morphine as they were amputating limbs and performing surgeries.  And what they found was that the soldiers experienced the same pain relief with the normal saline as they had with the morphine!!  How?  The mind!  Our thoughts create our reality.

How often do we worry ourselves sick about something?  How often do we get stuck in thought cycles that are harming us or holding us back?  How long are you going to allow your mind to keep you down?

In all of the self-development work that I have done, and am doing to become my greatest version and to live the life of my dreams, what I find all the time is that when it comes to living my biggest life, I am my biggest obstacle!  ME!  So, I am working to get out of my own way.  I am working to reprogram my subconscious mind.  I am working daily to make sure that I am injecting positive thoughts into my some 65,000 thoughts per day.  I do that by reading uplifting books, by watching uplifting videos, by listening to uplifting music, and by surrounding myself with uplifting people.  Just because we have always done things a certain way, just because we have always thought a certain way, or lived a certain way does not mean that we have to keep things the same if we are not living the life we want to live, or experiencing the joy and peace that we wish to experience.  Jake Ducey told us to let how we feel about things be our barometer for what we are manifesting in our lives.  That the way that we can tell if something is working in our lives is how we feel about it.  You know it’s working for you if it makes you happy, if it makes you feel good.  There is no limit to the amount of joy we can experience in this life.  And it helps no one if we lessen our joy because those around us are not joyful.  I used to do that a lot, and still find myself falling back into that pattern sometimes.  But, we have to remember that everything has a ripple effect, so rather than changing our joy and love to fit with everyone else’s fear and negativity, we must live our joy, and our love, and allow THOSE emotions to permeate the world.

Positive change in the world will always start with positive change in ourselves.  There is no shortcut around it.  Please do not fear the work, because I am no different from you.  If I can make these grand, sweeping changes to my thoughts, and my life, then so can you.  Don’t waste your life waiting around for someone or something to save you.  Save yourself.  You’re the only one who can do it.  And there’s no better day to start than today.

I hope you do one thing today that scares you.  Be afraid and do it anyway.  What’s the best that could happen?  You’ll never know if you don’t try.

Instead of music, I will leave you with this link to a VIDEO (less than 6 minutes long) that sparked me to write about fear and love today.  It’s a speech that the actor, Jim Carrey, gave at a commencement ceremony, put to drawings.  He touches on some powerful concepts that I think you will find thought-provoking and positive.  Enjoy!

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The Plague of Fear

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We have a problem.  We have a big, gigantic problem in this country right now (well, we have more than one, but I’m writing a blog post, not a novel).  Fear.  Fear comes in a lot of different forms.  Some of it is founded, because of things that have happened in our past, like the shooting in Vegas.  But some of our fears are not founded.  Some of our fears may have been passed down to us from our immediate families, or ancestors.  Some fears are created in our minds and have no logical foundation.  But because many of us still believe what our minds tell us, we believe every fearful thought that our minds create.

Lately, when I have talked about going hiking alone, people have asked me things like “aren’t you scared to be out there alone?” and “do you carry a gun?”   Honestly, the thought has never crossed my mind once. And I’m not even sure what I would be protecting myself from on the trail. Animals? Black bears? Mountain lions? Black bears are generally not aggressive. And if a mountain lion decides to attack me, I’ll never even see it coming.  I’ve never understood why anyone thinks that we’ll all be safer if we’re walking around carrying guns to protect ourselves.  If people weren’t carrying guns around, what exactly would we need to protect ourselves from??!  In my experience, while I have encountered wildlife such as grizzly bears, black bears, and mountain lions when I have been hiking for work and leisure, I have never been as scared of any wild animal in the way that I am afraid of a human who carries a gun.  The people who I have met out hiking on the trails have been some of the kindest souls, and I have never feared any of them.  What I do fear in those wild settings is another person who decides to carry a gun because he or she is afraid.  Generally, the trails are filled with good people out to enjoy nature and/or escape all the people in the cities walking around carrying guns. So, where does all of this fear come from? Guns aren’t going to fix anything. At all. Ever.  So, unless you hunt as a means to get food for you and your family, or you’re in the back country of Alaska where the ratio of grizzly bears to humans is high, I see no place for guns in nature.  As a woman, I am MUCH more afraid to walk around a city at night by myself than I ever am when I am out hiking.  And part of that is related to guns and the rising amount of gun violence in this country.

I know that people who favor being able to have guns see the issue as a rights issue first and foremost, but I think it needs to be talked about instead as a safety issue.  While I do not like the idea of our government limiting our rights, I have a bigger problem with my fellow citizens who continue to open fire on large crowds of people using semiautomatic rifles.  It is one thing to have a gun for hunting, but it is quite another to have semiautomatic rifle meant for the mass killing of other humans.

I realize that the way we treat mental health in this country is also partly to blame, but even with that being said, the extent of damage done with a non-assault rifle would pale in comparison to damage done with assault rifles.  If a shooter had less ammunition readily loaded, the chances of them being able to mow down a crowd of people in a matter of minutes without being noticed and stopped would decrease significantly.  I know it without having to read research papers and without studying the statistics behind it.  You know it.  I think we all know it, but here we are still arguing about gun rights while innocent people are being murdered.

Gun violence is not new, and even the first shootings that took place in schools have somehow sunk farther into history than I care to admit to myself.  But as time goes on, it just feels like these attacks are showing up more and more in places where people gather to celebrate, connect, relax, or experience joy.  And that’s scary.  It’s scary because it’s unpredictable and can literally happen anywhere at any time.  While we’re at the movies, concerts, school, and church.

I believe that we are being given the opportunity to see just how broken our current society is.  At what point, do we collectively face ourselves as a nation and decide that enough is enough?  When do we start coming together so that everyone can have equal rights, experiences, and opportunities?  When do we collectively start putting ourselves in other people’s shoes so much so that we cannot bear the thought of hurting another human being?  When do we stop looking at other people as if they are the problem and realize that it is our own fear and hurt and doubts that prevent us from fully embracing ourselves and therefore fully embracing others?

Friends, it starts with each of us.  And not necessarily in the sense that you might believe.  Of course I think that pushing for and taking action to have new legislation rolled out that would block the sales of assault rifles in this country would make a positive impact on our society.  But I do not believe that it’s the only thing that we need to consider.  I think we need to really look at and face the demons that we each carry.  Right now.  Today.  What is it that creates your fear?  Why do you believe that owning a gun will keep you safe?  What makes you hate yourself so much that you can hate another person enough to shun them, hurt them, or even kill them?   What is it about the (fill in the blank) race, (fill in the blank) gender, (fill in the blank) sexual orientation that makes you think that you are separate from them?  That you are better?  That you are better to the point of wanting to deny them the same freedom that everyone else has?  To the point of wanting to cause them harm in some way?

In my own life, I can see that the times where I felt like I was being destroyed, when I felt like I hit rock bottom, were the times when I was given the opportunity to start over.  I was given the opportunity to build myself and my life back up the way I wanted it to be.  I can tell you that it was not an easy road.  I did not gain my current perspective, level of gratitude, or positivity easily.  The really good things in life don’t come easy, you have to do the work.  We all have to start doing the work.  I think that sometimes, you have to be brought to such an immense level of pain and suffering that eventually it breaks you so that you begin searching for another way.  That’s the beauty in many of our struggles. The point where we stop and look at the hurt in our daily lives and see that it’s just not working for us anymore.    THAT’S where we start working for real change.

All of this may seem unrelated to my original topic of gun violence, but just bear with me here.  We each live from a place of our own experiences.  We were destined to come into this life with the human personality and body that we have.  We are all made perfect for the journey that our souls wanted us to have in this life.  But we’ve developed a way of looking at ourselves that does not serve us.  I know that I spent many years seeing a lot of my “negative” qualities and “flaws” and focused more on them than I did on all of my “positive” qualities.  As humans, we sometimes beat ourselves up so much that we overlook how amazing we truly are.  And as I have said in other posts, when we judge ourselves so harshly, we also are more apt to judge others harshly.  When deep down, even on a subconscious level, we hate ourselves, we are more prone to hate others.  Let that soak in for a minute.  Self-hate and loathing are not easy things to admit to ourselves.  Sometimes we bury those feelings so deeply that we do not even see them, but they’re doing damage in our lives subconsciously.  We work to distance ourselves from our emotions and qualities that we deem as “bad” or “negative”.  We have gotten so good at distancing ourselves, in fact, that we’re all walking around feeling broken, but don’t even fully understand why.  When we’re constantly seeing parts of ourselves as “bad” or unacceptable, we’re going to focus on those aspects in other people as well.  So to feel more genuine love for other people, we really have to cultivate our own self-love first.  I believe that self-love is the key to real solutions of change and the lack thereof is the underlying cause of the turmoil that we are facing right now.

I have lived both ways now.  For many years, without even realizing it, I did not love myself.  I fought against parts of myself that I did not like, or that other people did not like about me.  And at the time, I could not see how that was negatively impacting my life.  I did not feel happy.  I sought to fill the void in me with relationships.  I aimed to please people.  I came to believe that as long as the other people around me were OK, then I would be OK, so I sought to make people happy.  I avoided confrontation.  I avoided rocking the boat.  I cruised along like this for a long time.  Until my life fell apart.  And my life felt like it was falling apart for years.  It wasn’t a quick process, but eventually, I worked with people who helped me pick apart my beliefs.  I started to see how my beliefs about myself were negatively impacting my life.  And it became almost like a game to me, to find the underlying beliefs or thoughts, to examine them, and then to decide whether or not to keep them based on how they made me feel.  As I shed more layers and uncovered more of my actual truth, I began to experience self-love in a way that I had never before.  And I can tell you that this self-love has created a positive ripple effect through all areas of my life.  One of the biggest shifts comes from the fact that I have much less judgement about other people than I used to.  It’s really not about getting rid of the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, but rather realizing that it takes all of the little parts to make the whole of us.  We all have light and dark in us, but it’s not about rejecting the dark.  It’s about realizing that we ALL share light and dark and it’s OK.  If something about us is really upsetting to us to the point where we don’t feel like we can live with it, then we have to remember that we have the power to change.  Just because we have always hated a certain group of people does not mean that we must continue on that path if it’s hurting our heart.  Just because we have always believed something does not mean that we have to believe it forever.  Give yourself permission to change and grow.  Give yourself permission to live with a more open mind.

Sometimes our judgments of people are sneaky.  Do you routinely judge those with differing opinions to yours?  Do you judge when people have different values or a different lifestyle to you?  Do you believe that your beliefs are true while other people’s aren’t?  I have looked at my own judgments of people.  Even now, they come out at times, but I notice them.  I see that I am judging.  I see that my ego is just working to make me feel better than others.  My ego works to keep me separate from others, so it looks for our differences.  But my heart, my soul, is always looking for the similarities.  As I connect with the love that I am, I connect with the love that other people are.  When my mind and ego get out of the way, I see things to love in others more than I see things to hate.  I have begun to naturally see the light in others, the good.  I think that sometimes I am actually glimpsing people’s souls.  The souls of humans are absolutely beautiful.

When you break down the beliefs in your own life, you begin to see that we are all the same.  We are all souls here having a human experience, regardless of what that experience looks like.  We have come to feel very separate from each other, but it’s simply not true.  I am no better than you, and you are no better than me.  We are unique, but we share our humanness as our ultimate commonality in this life.  Try embracing that for a change.  Treat every person you meet as you wish to be treated regardless of differing beliefs or values you might each have.  It doesn’t matter.  How we treat ourselves and other people is what really matters.  The rest is a bunch of stuff our minds create.  If our collective goal became to treat each other with respect and compassion, there would not be room for violence and hate that we are experiencing in this country.  Accept those around you with grace and compassion and see how your life shifts.  When we each do that on a regular basis, we create peace in our own lives.  When we create peace in our own lives, we create peace in the world.  As Michael Franti sang, “we can bomb the world to pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace” and “violence brings one thing, more and more of the same.”  Fighting is not the answer.  Guns are not the answer.  Hate is not the answer.  As cliche as it may sound, love is the only answer.  Love yourself completely so that you may love others.  It’s the only way to end our suffering.  It’s the only fundamental way to stop all of the gun violence.

Have we reached our breaking point yet?  Have we suffered enough?

Sending you all much love and peace.

Listen to Michael Franti’s “Bomb the World” HERE

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