The Pain Before the Transformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo excerpt from “Life Visioning” by Michael Bernard Beckwith

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

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!

I Am You

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Happy New Year everyone! 2018!  Wow, just like that, another year has come and gone! For me, 2017 held a lot of change:  endings, beginnings, including the start of this blog. As 2017 wrapped up, I felt a heaviness in me.  Maybe due in part to the changing seasons and lessening of outside time and sunshine in December, but also likely due to the purging of old patterns, belief systems, and emotions of 2017.  Do you ever feel like you move about not always fully feeling your emotions when things happen?  I know I do.  I kind of push on through, and at the end of the year, I felt that catching up with me.  I think it’s a defense mechanism that I have developed over the course of my life.  Keep going and maybe then I won’t be swallowed whole by my emotions.  Maybe then, I will be protected from spiraling down into depression that I have had a lot of experience with in my life.  But, I have come to see that I handle things differently now.  Even when sad things happen or life doesn’t go as planned, I have a way of seeing the divine-ness of everything.  And I have learned to allow myself to feel more in the moment.  I have also learned to pause during difficult conversations, so that I allow myself a moment to feel and to put those feelings into words before speaking them. In so many ways, 2017 was a year of tremendous growth for me.  I am looking forward to seeing how the new seeds of growth that I planted throughout 2017 blossom into being in 2018.  I can feel that 2018 is going to be an amazing year of manifestation.

“I am you

You are me

No more leaders

We must lead if we want to see God in the enemy”

Matisyahu’s song “Mist Rising”

If you know me, or follow this blog at all, you know that I listen to Matisyahu all. the. time.  Sometimes, even after I’ve heard a song a million times, certain lyrics will jump out at me as little messages from the Universe.  The above lyrics really stood out to me one morning as I was driving to pick my friend up to go for a hike.  I had a moment after hearing them where I thought, yes, we’ve got to stop looking to other people to make the changes that we want to see in this world.  We’ve got to stop looking to our appointed leaders for the answers.  If we want to live the truth that we are all really one, and not separate from each other like we are made to feel, then we have to start leading by example in our own lives.  We are all made of the same, divine energy.  We are just the Divine, Universe, God, consciousness (or whatever else you like to call it) having an experience in human form.  That’s it.  We are here to grow and evolve in consciousness.  We are here to face obstacles and transcend them, so that we wake up.  We are here to find our soul’s purpose and then use it to make the world a better place.  We have to lead if we want to be able to see divine/Universe/God in our enemies.

We are not separate.  We think we are.  We walk around feeling alone.  We pit ourselves against others, people in other groups, in other countries, of other religions, but the reality is that we are all one in the same.  We all have our specific journey that we are supposed to be on in the time and place where we find ourselves.  We are brain-washed to think that we are not enough as we are, so that we’ll buy the new latest and greatest gadgets.  We’re made to feel small and inconsequential so that we keep our heads down and work hard to keep a few rich and in power.  But friends, we are so much more than we have been led to believe, and we can have so much more in our lives than we even believe is possible.  We are all on different paths to the same destination, our awakening, our rising of consciousness.  The us vs. them mentality is merely a distraction.  It’s one way to keep us all feeling alone.  It prevents us from really connecting with each other in a deep way, because we’re always afraid that our problems are worse than the next person, or our insecurities are bigger than everyone else’s, or that our dark sides are darker than everyone else’s.  But that’s simply not true.  Like I have said before, in the times when I have opened up and gotten vulnerable with others, and have really listened to others share their stories, I have found that while on different journeys, we all fundamentally end up with the same baggage and the same feelings about ourselves.  Keeping this idea that I am better than (fill in the blank) or that I have my shit figured out more than (fill in the blank) is just a judgment that my human mind, my ego, is placing on the situation.  It is no more true than the stories I have carried about myself.  And it keeps me feeling separate.  Likewise, when I place others on a pedestal and see them as better than me, I also keep myself feeling separate from others.  But, it’s when you can see everyone as equal in this game of the divine having a human experience, that you really feel like you can connect with everyone on some level.  Even if my beliefs are hugely different from yours, I am sure that we can connect in some way.  Maybe you’re also a Mom, or a Nurse, or maybe you grew up feeling like you had to prove yourself to feel worthy, to get the love you so desperately wanted.  Maybe you can relate to my stories of chronic illness that I have lived through.  Or maybe you connect with me because you too have struggled with severe depression.  Whatever it is, it’s there and it connects us, and it makes you see part of yourself that you like, or that you hate, in me.  The people around us are always reflecting back to us the things that we need to learn about ourselves so that we can grow and evolve to become the best versions of ourselves.

I think that this can be a difficult subject to grasp.  I will use an example from my own life on both sides of the coin.  I am attracted to creative people.  I love it when people produce something with their creative talent and then release it into the world for others to see, irregardless of how it might be viewed or judged by others.  I am creative, but I usually recognize it in others more than in myself.  But it really has to do more with what I perceive about an artist who puts their work in the public eye vs. me who has usually just made things for friends and family, or for my home.  I love being around people who are adventurous.  Creativity and an adventurous spirit are qualities that I carry.  When I see these qualities reflected back to me in others, I enjoy it.  I see our commonalities and I love them in me and the other person.  This also has a flip side, because the things that really anger us or upset us about other people are also merely reflections of things that can also be found in us.  We all hold a balance of light and dark.  None of us are completely light nor completely dark in nature.  It’s interesting to me that sometimes in relationships, when we see things that we like about ourselves in another person, we really like them and want to spend more time with them.  But when we catch a glimpse of something in the other person that we have not yet learned to like or accept about ourselves, we tend to push them away and not want to spend time with them.  Have you experienced this in your relationships?

I have talked about this before in previous posts that at square one of stepping into our power here as humans is learning to love ourselves.  For myself, I have found that I am usually MUCH more compassionate with other people regarding qualities that we would label as bad or dark, because generally, I have been more empathetic to others than to myself.  If someone graces me with their truth in all of its wholeness, light and dark included, I find that I can connect the dots to see how they came to be all that they are, and I am always grateful for the way that they openly share themselves.  None of us can ever truly understand what another person has gone through, no matter how well it is explained to us.  And really, it’s not our job to understand, just as it is not someone else’s job to understand us.  But we can still be understanding, and we can show others kindness and compassion for their journey.  And we can love them, in all of their messy human-ness, baggage, triggers, and all.  In doing so, in loving others for all that they are, not for their potential to change or only for the things that we like about them, we can come to love all parts of ourselves.  Because really, if another is worthy of my unconditional love, then I am worthy of my own unconditional love.  Do you see how the two go hand in hand?  That kind of love. That kind of acceptance and unconditional love is what we all want for ourselves. Right?  But how can you receive it if you do not feel worthy of it from yourself?  How can you give it if you still think that you’re better than, or worse than other people?

In one of Eckhart Tolle’s books, he says that the purpose of relationships is not to make us happy, but to wake us up.  I think that’s brilliant.  The us vs. them mentality keeps our attention on things outside of ourselves, rather than on the things that really matter like unconditional self-love.  If society is always telling me that I’m not enough so that I’ll buy more things, or give my power away to other people (by making them responsible for my happiness for example), then I won’t be focused on building my best life.  I won’t be realizing my limitless potential in this life.   Instead, I’ll live small, and be more apt to follow than to lead.  But like I have said, we are meant to transcend the obstacles that are placed on our path.  Like the lotus flower, we are meant to rise out of the mud and bloom, not get stuck in it comparing our mud to the mud surrounding the other flowers.  It’s not about our challenges, it’s about how we handle them.  It’s how we carry ourselves and respond when the shit hits the fan that really counts.  Realizing this has come from a lot of reflection and work on myself.  I did not always accept my reality gracefully.  The more that I can see how every experience and meaningful relationship shapes and grows me, the more confident I have become in the fact that the Universe is always supporting and guiding me in ways that are for my highest good, even when it appears that “bad” things are happening.  I know that I have always made it through my challenges so far and that they have made me a better person and have given me my current perspective on life. So when things happen, I assume that it’s all for the best for everyone involved.

In my own life, I have had the experience where the person that I was dating wanted to start seeing someone else.  (I have also ended relationships for this reason)  It happens for various reasons.  We’re human.  Situations change.  People change.  In the past, I have taken their decision personally.  I felt deeply hurt by it and became angry and resentful.  I felt like a victim.  I can imagine that many of you can relate to that reaction.  Since becoming more conscious, I have had the completely opposite experience as well.  The person told me that they wanted to see someone else.  I admit that there was still a level of sadness in saying goodbye, but I saw the whole situation in a completely new light.  I understood that this person who I loved felt compelled to follow his heart, and I respected that.  On one hand, I would not want someone to continue to hang out with me when they really want to date someone else, and also, who am I to keep anyone from following their heart?  I personally try to not live with regrets, so I appreciate when others live from that same space.  And so, rather than having a heated discussion that involved my hurt feelings and blaming this person for them, I simply let him go.  Honestly, I did not feel hurt and angry about his decision, because I trusted that it was best for both of us in the end.  I told him that I had really loved our time together and that I had so much fun on my adventures with him and that I hoped that he and this other person would share a lot of joy together.  I told him that I was really grateful that I had met him.  And it was beautiful.  So beautiful in fact that I write about it here.  Now, I will not take all of the credit here, because we had developed the ability to have open conversations with each other, and that took two.  Our sweet connection took two.  But do you see how one person can make such a difference?  Do you see how my response painted the kind of ending that we shared?  Had I come at him angrily, it may have completely dissolved our connection and prevented us from remaining friends.  But I chose to accept the reality with gratitude for what this person’s presence had meant to my life rather than to leave on a bad note simply because I was not the one deciding to end things.  We each have that kind of power!  It was not his job to stay and make me happy.  It was his job to follow his heart on his journey as he saw fit.  It was my job to accept reality without taking any of it personally.  It was my job to take care of myself.  I did not leave the situation thinking that there was something wrong with me, or that I had done something wrong.  And I did not leave angry.  I left with a lot of peace about it all, and a lot of love in my heart for this person.  I sincerely wanted nothing but love and happiness for both of us.  When you realize that we all have our own journeys to live our joy and to find our purpose, you also realize that the only journey that we each need to focus on is our own.

It is really none of my business what someone else wants to do in their free time, or who they want to spend their time with.  All I can do is stay as present as possible when I am spending time with the people in my life, so that I can fully experience and enjoy their presence in my life while they’re in it.  Life is short.  Nothing is guaranteed.  I have found that when I am able to stay present in the moments in my relationships, and I treat my relationships with gratitude and take to heart the fact that we are all only here for a short time, I have little to no regrets when the relationship ends or the person dies.  When I say that I stay present, I mean that I do not let my mind wander all over the place to the past and future.  I am not thinking about my to-do list.  I shut my brain off and I just am.  It gives me the space to be free in the moment.  To feel the sun on my face.  To feel the cold water hit my skin.  To look at a person and see a beautiful soul smiling and laughing.  To me, being present means allowing myself to enjoy a moment, activated by my five senses, without bombarding it with a bunch of thoughts.  And if I do think, I think things like, this is amazing, I am so glad to be here, this is so fun, and I am so grateful to have this time with them.

Try it. Set your mind aside.  Stop the whir of thoughts telling you what you “should” be doing.  Be present with the people in your life while you can.  Turn off your phone and focus on where you are in the moment.  And then move from there and work to put yourself in other people’s shoes more often.  Attempt to see the world from their vantage point for a change.  Stop judging yourself and others so harshly.  Can you see that we all have light and dark inside of us?  Can you see the beauty in it?  Can you see the beauty in the dark depression that I experienced in my life?  I can.  Knowing that level of pain is what allows me to really enjoy all that I now have in my life.  I’m not sure that a really happy, joyous heart gets that way without experiencing some form of depression or shadows in life.  The pleasure of life is much more profound when you can still remember how much life can hurt.

Our differences are meant to be.  Our journeys are supposed to be unique.  We are each supposed to be unique.  We’re supposed to have differing opinions.  But, we’re not meant to walk alone on our journeys feeling separate from the other humans around us.  We aren’t meant to fight each other and attempt to hold each other down.  We are not meant to be hardened by our pasts.  Regardless of how hurt I have been by things that have happened in my past, I still feel as though the connections that I create with people who cross my path are the important part of my journey.  I crave deep connections with people.  Part of the process to get to that level of connection is realizing that I am you, you are me.  The world I am living in is full of people who are out living their passion, connecting with other people, getting inspired by each other, and lifting each other up to live our best lives.  We are meant to lift each other up.  We perceive the world through a veil of our own thoughts.  If you want to see the incredible world that I see, make that choice, and join me.  Our lives are only as good as our thoughts allow them to be.  Change your thoughts, change your life!

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it!  And please feel free to comment down below.  I would love to hear from you!

Much love.

Listen to Matisyahu’s “Mist Rising” HERE

 

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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Living with JOY!

Do you know what brings you joy?  I mean like the kind of joy that leaves you smiling from ear to ear, where you just want the moment to never end.  What makes you feel most alive?  (I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!)

As I came out of my years of illness and found myself on my own again, I realized that I had forgotten what made me happy.  I had gotten so used to living a life of stress and turmoil that it had been a long time since I really thought about the things that add joy to my life.  I worked with a woman who had me make a list of things that bring me joy.  The items came slow at first, but as I wrote, the momentum built.  It was around this time as I was working to uncover the things that brought me joy, that my son asked me a question and then brought up a point that really hit home for me.  “Mom, what do you do while I’m at school all day?”  At that time he was probably 6 years old, a first grader, and I was working every weekend and had him on my days off.  So, I started listing things like go grocery shopping, clean the house, do laundry, read, nap.  Basically, all of the things that I didn’t do on the days that I worked.  He then said something like, “boy, grownups really do a lot of work all the time,” and/or “grownups don’t do much fun stuff.”  It was so simple yet so profound.  What WAS I doing with my free time??!  Was I making the most of it?  The answer was no, I was not.  So I decided to make changes to my life.

Some of the things on my list were:

  1. Reading with my son
  2. Dancing
  3. White water rafting
  4. Camping under the stars
  5. Hiking
  6. Seeing live music
  7. Exploring with no destination
  8. Skinnydipping
  9. Listening to music
  10. Talking with friends
  11. Reading
  12. Traveling
  13. Drumming
  14. Writing
  15. Being around my whole immediate family
  16. Laughing with a friend
  17. Listening to my son tell me about something he’s really excited about
  18. Jumping into rivers
  19. Snorkeling with fish
  20. Being outside
  21. Yoga
  22. Feeling sun on my skin
  23. Lying on the beach listening to the water
  24. Jumping into lakes
  25. Meeting new people
  26. Hanging out on warm boulders in/near rivers

From March of 2013 to July 2015, I worked on a very stressful unit in the hospital with adult oncology patients.  At first, nursing felt like my passion, my purpose in life, but after a few years with a heavy load of patients, sometimes six at a time, my enthusiasm turned into exhaustion.  I’d go home, shower, eat cereal for dinner, and go to bed, then wake up and do it all over again for the next two days.  My days off felt less like true days off and more like days to recover.  I was still on loads of medications back then and didn’t really feel like I had my health back yet, so I was taking it easy physically and trying to get extra rest on my days off.  I also worked to rebuild my life while learning my new role as a single, working parent.

In July of 2015, I landed my current job working primarily with babies and kids.  It had always been my dream nursing job, floating between all of my favorite units from nursing school.  Pediatrics was always my goal for nursing.  I was so happy for this change.  And after starting a homeopathy remedy in January of 2015, I was now beginning to feel the positive effects of it on my mental, emotional, and physical health.  All of this led me to the place at the end of 2015 when I was feeling so good, and felt like I had the energy to focus on how I wanted my life to look.  And I even had my son noticing that I was filling my days with a lot of boring adult stuff.

So, I began to get outside more.  I had always loved being outside.  I now felt like I had ability to start getting out hiking again.  At this point, my last flare of pericarditis was a few years behind me in November of 2013.  I had been noticing the strength of my body coming back and the exhaustion dissipating.  I sought to make new friends and explore new places.  I ended up finding myself outside in the mountains in rivers a lot, and at the coast next to the ocean.  I started to notice how alive I felt when was hiking on a new trail.  I felt the joy in me well up as I jumped off rocks into rivers and lakes.  I began to find my passions.  As I noticed the things that made me feel most alive, I stored them in my mind and made a conscious effort to do those things as often as possible!  And my life began to get really full.  I was LIVING!  I worked to do chores for a portion of one of my days off, so that I could spend the rest of my time doing things that fed my soul.  I have lived like this ever since.  Sometimes I am urged to go for a hike, and sometimes I am urged to curl up and read a good book and take a nap.  The point is that I stopped worrying about all of the adult things that I am “supposed” to do, and instead I started to do the things that would bring me the most joy.

Nothing makes me happier than exploring and having fun with my son.  At the beginning of the summer this year, we sat down to make a list of things that we hoped to do during summer vacation.  I knew that with only 10 weeks, summer would go by so fast, and that we could easily get swept up in a bunch of lazy days if we didn’t start out with some kind of direction.  At my son’s request, we took turns listing things.  I’d name something, and then he’d name something.  We went back and forth until we had filled an 8.5 x 11 sheet of printer paper.  We wrote down things like backpacking, the local trampoline place, walking at a local oak preserve, hiking and camping in the local NP took up several, the local arcade, Six Flags, seeing Matisyahu live again, and going to the beach.  We actually checked a lot off our list!  And we had a blast!  Having the list kept me focused as I planned our time together week to week.  I highly recommend that you try this approach to summer if you’re like me and my son and want to squeeze out as much fun from the 10 or so weeks that your child/children have off from school in the summer.  I had the advantage of having four days off in a row every week to make so many things possible.  But, this would also be a helpful approach for weekends off as well.

Why do we do the things that we do?  Do you ever think about that?  Are we living the life that we want to live, or are we living the life that we have been told that we ‘should’ live?  Every day, we get bombarded by ‘shoulds’.  I ‘should’ go to college.  I ‘should’ become a lawyer, doctor, teacher etc.  I ‘should’ buy a new car.  I ‘should get married’.  I ‘should’ have kids.  I ‘should’ buy a house a fill it with a bunch of stuff.  I have always sort of just naturally lived outside the norm, but I also found myself fulfilling a lot of the ‘shoulds’.  These are just some examples that I think are pretty universal.  For instance, when I graduated high school, I felt like I HAD to go to college.  I didn’t even think there was another choice for me.  I mostly put that on myself.  Sure it was talked about in high school a lot, but at the time, I felt like taking out loans and going to college was the only way that I’d be able to move from my hometown and travel.  I see now that that’s just not the case.  A friend’s awesome daughter just graduated from high school and is now spending a year in New Zealand on a work visa.  And my inner teenager is completely inspired by this move!  The possibilities!  There are many other ‘shoulds’ that I am sure you are thinking about right now.  I could go on with other examples of how I would ‘should’ myself through the years.  Are you ‘shoulding’ yourself about something in your own life?  Are the ‘shoulds’ from other people or society causing you to miss that you’re living a beautiful life just as you are? It is OK to throw out what other people expect of you and live the life that YOU want to live!  Life is too short to not live your own joy!

One of the best things I ever did for myself was to stop it with the ‘shoulds’!  When a ‘should’ came up, I would acknowledge it and look at where it was coming from and then just dismiss it.  Even in my current life, if I wasn’t so strong on my path, I could be really giving myself a hard time by comparing myself to other people my age.  I could be feeling like my life is lacking, because of comparison to other people.  But, I choose not to live that way.  I base my success in life not on whether or not I own a house or drive a fancy car, or have an intact family or have a bunch of fancy gadgets, but on my level of happiness and inner peace.  I do more things that give me joy and peace.  I find that peace generally comes when I quiet my mind and accept life as it is.  The happiness comes when I add more things to my daily living that bring me joy.  These aren’t impossible things, but it takes work to recognize the things that are stealing your peace and to adjust accordingly.  It takes work to shut off your mind and the ‘shoulds’ that you’ve been hanging onto for so long.  But the worthwhile result of all of that work is a contentment that has to really be experienced to be fully understood and appreciated.

I know that we aren’t meant to work all the time, never doing the things that make us happy, and then die.  That’s not at all what life is about.  If that is your life and you aren’t happy, then I would suggest that you work to change it.  I think the root of the issue is that most of us feel a void in us.  We aren’t sure why it’s there.  We don’t know how it got there, or when, but it’s there.  It’s that feeling that makes people shop and gather a bunch of things that they’ll never use.  It’s the feeling that causes people to jump from one relationship to the next.  Because that feeling of void in us is so strong and scary at times, we usually seek to fill it up with things and people versus figure it out so that we can get rid of it.  So, there are many people walking through life doing the things that they were told were important, and they have jobs they hate and relationships that leave them unfulfilled, and a whole house of stuff that still leaves them feeling that deep void and lack of fulfillment.  But they just keep going, because that’s just what they’re “supposed to do”.  I have experienced the other side.  I can tell you that it is possible to love the work that you do.  I have had, and loved two different careers now.  It is more than possible to live a life you love.  It is possible to turn your passions into your life’s work.  Each of us is born with a unique set of gifts to share with the world.  We then travel on our individual journeys and collect moments that give us each a very unique skill set and perspective on life.  I am not the only one who believes that the purpose of this life is to wake up and also find your gifts and give them to the world.  If you have a dream, believe that it is possible, because you are able to imagine it.  If it wasn’t possible, it wouldn’t even be available in your mind’s eye.  The fact that you can dream it means that you can create it.  And you don’t need a degree or someone else to tell you so.  You have the power to dream up a life and live it.  But you have to trust and let go of the self-limiting beliefs that are holding you back.  It takes work to shine a light on your beliefs and let go of the ones that no longer serve you.  It takes even more work to recognize when the beliefs that you’re holding aren’t even yours.  Maybe your parents have been telling you what to believe up to now.  Maybe society has been screaming so loudly in your ear that you haven’t been able to hear the whispers of your soul, your higher self.  I have learned that my mind is very loud compared to my intuition, so it helps when I quiet my mind with meditation or time in nature.

Right now, I am working to unravel and change my beliefs surrounding money and abundance.  I can see that I am holding onto beliefs that aren’t serving me based on what I am seeing show up in my life around finances.  Just when I think I have it figured out, I find a piece of the puzzle that I hadn’t been aware of.  I am sure that many of you can relate.  I come from a strong line of women who took care of their families largely on their own.  Both of my parents come from very large families where the household lived on one income for 6 and 8 kids.  Mostly, the Dad’s worked and the women were left to raise the kids.  They had what they needed probably most of the time, but nothing extra.  So beliefs like money is hard to come by and we don’t have what we need got passed down (I’m just speculating based on what my experience has been).  Growing up, my parents always wanted us to have all of the things that they felt they didn’t.  So we were given lots of stuff.  But with one income and three kids, there was a level of struggle that was palpable.  As an adult, I have uncovered beliefs in myself like money is hard to come by, you have to work really hard to make money, money doesn’t grow on trees, money and finances equal stress and uncertainty.  I have to really work to trust that I am always being taken care of and that I am always given what I need, especially when several unexpected expenses come up at the same time.  So I have to focus on today, the present.  I have what I need today.  I have food.  I have shelter.  I have the necessities and then some.  I have excess.  And so I work to acknowledge that every day.  My sister and I once talked about the fact that no matter how much money we make, we never feel like we have enough.  That’s part of our money programming.  Upon recognizing that we are both doing just fine, as a doctor and a nurse, I realized that what I was telling myself was simply not true.  And that’s what led me to dig deeper into my beliefs about money and other areas of my life.  The first step is seeing the belief, then you look to see how it’s affecting you and your life, and then you find a way to change the beliefs that aren’t working for you.  For me, I stopped and realized that I always had what I needed and then some.  I started being more grateful for what I had versus being upset about what I felt like I didn’t.

Sometimes, we spend so much time working to fill our void that we end up in a life that leaves us unhappy surrounded by a pile of things that just create more chaos around us.  Rather than living our own joy, a lot of the time, I think we chase dreams that aren’t our own and chase material things that we don’t even enjoy.  I was talking to a friend recently and we got on the subject of “stuff,” and how it feels like excess stuff clutters up our lives.  He told me about a documentary he had watched and enjoyed on Netflix called “Minimalism:  A Documentary About the Important Things” with Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus.  I watched it and really loved it.  They have a website and are also on Facebook.  They’re two guys who have paired down their stuff in a way that declutters their lives.  On their about page on their website HERE, they explain it better than I could: “Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”

My next step is to declutter my living space.  I have been urged to do so for quite some time now, but I keep putting it off.  A lot of the stuff I need to go through is in my closet and behind other closed doors, so it’s been a bit of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.  But that’s starting to not be the case anymore.  I know it’s there and I feel it cluttering my space and my mind more all the time.  And I keep being shown examples of people who have minimized their stuff with great outcomes, so I know that’s the Universe’s way of telling me to follow suit.  I believe that when we clear the things/patterns/beliefs/activities/people out of our lives that aren’t giving us joy, we make room for more meaningful and positive things, people, and situations to enter our lives.  Doesn’t that make sense?  We can’t make room for the things that we want in our lives if our lives are already full of a bunch of things that we don’t want.

I listened to a podcast by the Minimalists titled, Masks, this morning.  You can find it HERE.  They talk more about what I have addressed here.  It was really great listen.  They ended the podcast with this:  “Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.”

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Listen to Michael Franti’s “Do It for the Love” HERE

 

 

 

Forgive Others

What does it mean to forgive someone?  I’ve been grappling with this question for years.  Various memes, articles, and quotes tell me that forgiveness does not mean that you are excusing the person’s behavior, but that when you forgive, you are freeing yourself.  There have been times when I believed that I had completely forgiven a person, but then something comes up, and buried feelings float back up to the surface, and I am reminded of more work that I need to do.

This morning, a friend posted a video of a Holocaust survivor named Eva.  During the Holocaust, Eva was a young girl living in Romania.  She and her entire family, including her twin sister, were taken to the concentration camp of Auschwitz.  Within 30 minutes of getting off of the cattle car that transported them there, Eva was separated from her Dad and Mom and never saw either of them again.  When the SS Officers realized that Eva and her sister were twins, the two young girls were sent off to special barracks were the doctors were performing experiments on twins in an attempt to figure out a way for the Aryan race to proliferate faster.  As you can imagine, it’s a very sad story, but also a very inspiring one.  You can watch the video HERE.

The reason that I am writing about this video is because in the end, years after the Holocaust had ended and Eva was an adult, Eva took it upon herself to go to Germany to meet with one of the doctors from Auschwitz and later, ultimately forgave him for his part in the torture and killing.  She later forgave Dr. Mengele, the doctor directly responsible for the torturous experiments that were done on Eva and her sister.  To me, this was extremely powerful.  Here is a woman who lost everyone but her sister at Auschwitz, and she’s finding it in her heart to forgive the people responsible??!!  While I acknowledge that all struggles are relative and that we don’t have to go through the Holocaust to have deep wounds from a painful past, to me, if Eva can forgive these SS doctors, who am I not to forgive people in my life?  Later, Eva was denounced by many other Holocaust survivors, because of her act of forgiveness to these doctors, but she stood by her decision.  Eva saw that forgiveness had led to her own healing, and to her, that was more important than staying in line with everyone else.  So I went for a walk on this gorgeous day.  And as I walked, still amazed by Eva’s ability and willingness to forgive those SS doctors, I started thinking about forgiveness and my own relationship with it in my life.

In the years when I was struggling with illness, I felt trapped in a body that I no longer recognized and simultaneously,  I also felt trapped in a marriage that had become toxic for me.   My belief is that we all choose the big, key players in our lives.  As souls before we incarnate into this life, we choose our parents, siblings choose each other, and I believe we also choose those who we share major relationships with in our lives.  And likewise, our children choose us, their parents.  In every case, our souls make agreements with each other to help each other learn various lessons in this life with the ultimate goal of our incarnation being to awaken.  (If you want to read more about this, check out  the book, “Your Soul’s Plan:  Discovering the Real Meaning of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born” by Robert Schwartz that I posted on my book list.)  Each of our souls reincarnate to this Earth School many times over, thousands of times, in order to learn the lessons that we are meant to learn that will eventually wake us up. And many times, we travel with a soul group that we have known in past lives.  So it is highly likely that my ex-husband and I have been closely connected in many past lives.  We choose the souls in our lives knowing the details of what the relationship with them will look like.  To put it in the simplest terms, I think that his soul lovingly agreed with mine to enter into my life this time around in a relationship that would tear me down, so that I could eventually build myself back up from the ground to be the person that I came here to be, and to do the things that I am meant to do.  And for that, I am very grateful.  It’s like the story of myself was broken down, and when I got back to re-writing it, I relocated some of the positive aspects of myself, but released a lot of the negative parts.  I believe had that not happened, I would have likely been carrying some of those negative parts of my story around with me for a lifetime.  I see now that I was ready to finally question and work through the self-limiting beliefs and the story that I had held about myself for so long.

My human mind has worked hard to come to terms with the way things happened, and I am still working to forgive, so that I can be free.  I see myself as a willing participant in a marriage that I chose for myself.  That being said, I learned some lessons the hard way.  I questioned everything I did, said, and felt, and I allowed myself to completely lose my sense of self.  And the situation, with us living so far from any family members, was very isolating.

I have forgiven lots of people in my life, and have also been forgiven lots of times.  And I know the relief that comes with forgiveness.  The act of letting go of what happened moves you beyond suffering, so that you can go on and live your life.  I am very aware of the feeling of stuck energy in my body when I’m holding onto the feelings of resentment.  I know that to end my mental suffering, I must FULLY forgive people.  So what is the process of releasing that?  How do I move past the abstract thought of forgiveness and actually forgive?  A big part of it for me is remembering that we are all humans doing our best in the life that we have been given.  I do not claim that I was a perfect spouse.  I had baggage with triggers that were getting activated regularly, and I was not mindful of them during that time.  I realize now that a lot of the time, we all walk around with our baggage getting triggered, and we think that it’s all happening because of one person, or one situation, when in fact, we are likely dealing with feelings, emotions, and beliefs that we picked up during childhood, or even from our ancestors.  A marriage is bringing two people with all of that baggage together, and if neither person is even aware of their baggage, it can be a disaster.  When I look at my ex as a whole, I can see the story of his life and all that he has been through, and I can see how he came to be, and I feel compassion towards him.  I know that we were both doing our best in the marriage even if our best was less than either of us believed we needed at the time.  I also recognize that if it wasn’t for him, I would not have my amazing son.  I highly recommend doing this practice in your own life.  That’s a big part of the work I’ve done to get me to a place of true self-love.  I look at the whole picture of myself, from my birth to the present, and I am reminded of all that I have experienced in this life, and how far I’ve come.  Think of a person that you’re having a difficult time forgiving (even yourself), and do a quick overview of their (your) life in your mind’s eye.  (this requires that you know the person pretty well, otherwise you can just trust that everyone you meet has been through a lot to get them to the person that they are now).  Can you see how the pieces might fit together?  Can you view them with compassion as a fellow human being doing their best in this life?  Can you step back and stop taking things personally, so that you can see that no one’s actions or words have anything to do with you, but everything to do with them?  I know sometimes the things we have to forgive are absolutely horrific, so in that case, can you forgive solely out of kindness to yourself, for your own healing?  To free yourself?

We all have similar baggage and triggers, but we can react to those triggers in very different ways, which is why relationships can be so complicated.  It takes a certain level of mindfulness to navigate through the triggers and subsequent reactions that come out during a relationship.  It also takes mutual forgiveness to get through those times, and come back together.  I am extremely grateful that I have experienced first-hand how drastically mindfulness can positively impact a relationship.  When two people can be triggered and react, yet come back together and talk about what happened, and are able to see that their individual reactions had nothing to do with the other person, it is a beautiful, beautiful thing.  And it allows for self-awareness, individual growth, and compassion to blossom in such an amazing way within the relationship.

As I was out walking today, I actually asked my guides out loud for help and support so that I can finally forgive.  I told them that I was having a really hard time with it, but that I am ready.  So as I switched gears and headed to another spot, I was just enjoying my surroundings and the weather, not really thinking of anything in particular when I came upon this little sign that someone hung on the bridge that read “Forgive others.”  And I just started laughing.  There really are NO coincidences in life!  I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!  As my friend, Erin, likes to say, nicely done, Universe!  Nicely done!

 

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While my health problems did have physical causes, I believe that the disease I experienced stemmed from the fact that I had stopped listening to my intuition. Eventually, when you live in a state of mental and emotional stress for so long, the toxicity will manifest in your physical body.  If you don’t listen to your intuition, your gut, your heart, and take care of yourself first and remove yourself from negative situations, the Universe will step in and make you physically ill to get you out of them. That’s how the Universe works:  we get small warnings, then bigger warnings, and then it eventually knocks us on our asses!  So, it is important that we learn to pay attention to the small warnings, or better yet, learn to follow our intuition more closely and trust it.  When we follow our intuition and live in the flow, we will find that we no longer need to experience the big tests, like a complete loss of our health, and that our lives become easier and more fluid.

I had to almost die, so that I would finally start giving myself the love, attention, and care that I always deserved from myself.  But you don’t have to wait until you get to that point.  We have all heard that chronic stress is bad for our health.  Well, after getting sick, I would physically feel the effects of stress on my body.  I noticed that stress caused flares of the pericarditis.  So, naturally, I started limiting the stress in my life.  I began to stop sweating the small stuff, because none of it was worth my health.  Knowing that my body couldn’t handle the stress of my marriage AND the stress of being a new nurse, I finally worked up the courage to get myself out of the marriage.  Once I started following my intuition again, I immediately became healthier without changing any other part of my health regimen.  And over time, with regular use, my intuition has only gotten stronger and stronger.

We must all work to forgive the people in our lives who have hurt us, because we are the ones who suffer, not them.  We must recognize that holding onto negativity or resentment creates stress in our own bodies which will eventually bring about pain and disease.  And we must forgive regardless of if we ever get an apology or not, because it’s really about us and our own healing at this point, not them.  Remembering that I have made mistakes and have hurt people in this life helps me respond to others from a place of empathy and compassion when they hurt me.  Regardless of what we think about some people in our lives, they, like us,  are on this Earth for a reason, and they are in our lives for a reason.  And they are experiencing their own set of struggles in this life.  Again, the message comes back to self-love.  Love yourself enough so that you are able to move on and forgive others.  More self-love = more love for others = what the world needs right now.

Sending you all so much love!

Michael Franti “Let It Go”

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