Autumn’s Inspiration

DSC01008-3I started this blog years ago with the intention of fueling my own undernourished spirit. Job after job of soul crushing work depleted me. This blog has been life giving and worth every ounce of time I put in it. It’s led to connections, jobs, and podcast interviews. But more importantly, it pushed me to stop living in the lines and start shaking things up a bit.

And then one kid came. Then, another. My freelance writing career took off. I began to live the dream instead of just dreaming about staring out my window typing on a Mac laptop like Carrie Bradshaw.

But somewhere along the way I started to sacrifice my dreams a little. I became the mom that I saw everywhere. The mom who put her kids first and everyone suffered as a result.

I saw author Wes Moore on Super Soul Sunday, which you can view here, this past weekend and was reminded of all the magical, mystical, whimsical dreams I had for myself. In this wise sentence, he stirred something in me:

“I knew it was incredibly risky to go out, but I think I had to make a very conscious decision that I would rather flirt with failure than never dance with my joy.”

How many of us live just getting by because we were taught that there was a single equation for happiness and any diversion would ruin us, put us on the streets, and shame us for life?

Maybe those impediments are placed so we can grow into the fierce people we were meant to become. But if we use it as excuses to stay small and safe, we’re wasting space in the world. We’re wasting the unique, quirky, beautifully messy life we were given. We were given it all for a reason. When we don’t use it to heal others, speak, write, create, we are wasting it all.

I don’t know what my next chapter holds. I know that I will continue to write, make an impact, and pursue what’s scary. I know that I won’t give up on my dreams. The rest is all up to faith.

People let’s spend our energies fueling our spirit and investing in our purpose. Let’s stop overworrying, overjudging and overgossiping! Use it instead to create what you’ve always wanted to do. Even if it’s not perfect right now. Even if it’s not the greatest thing in the world. Do it. Do it because you were meant to do more than live in the lines.

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Soul Lessons: How Memories Can Heal You

{Etsy blessing: Angeliccraftacademy}

{Etsy blessing: Angeliccraftacademy}

Actress Shirley Maclaine sat with Oprah a few Sundays ago on Super Soul Sunday to talk about aging, wisdom and life. I’m a big fan of Maclaine. I agree with Winfrey’s characterization of her as a “spiritual trailblazer.” Every statement she makes drips with profundity. I had to keep pressing pause on my DVR so I could soak it all in.

One of the things she said was memories, what we choose to remember, holds significance. Why do we, for example, remember our father scolding us, but forget a shopping trip with our mother? Maybe, there is a secret lesson in our memories.

Part of that is due to how we’re hardwired. This article says, for example, we’re more likely to remember things associated with strong emotions. But out of the emotional memories, could there be a deeper reason why we hold on to some and not others?

I think it’s worth asking.

Maybe there’s a reason why our minds won’t let go of a particular incident-your parents arguing, a friendship that ended bad, a job that you really enjoyed doing.

Maybe it’s worth revisiting the memory.

Is there something you need to learn, return, heal in order for your brain to let it go?

If we’re open to rediscovering why that memory stays in the first place, we might open the door to greater healing. We may be able to kiss that wound of sorrow or rebuild a burned bridge. We may be able to find out what still needs tending so we can heal what’s still hurt and vulnerable. When we uncover the mystery of forgotten memories, we may finally be able to forgive, grow and move forward.

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It’s Not Them. It’s You!

{image via The Urban Slant}

{image via The Urban Slant}

The hardest thing to do, which is also the most life-changing, is to take responsibility for your life. This means that you look at everything going on right now, not as evidence of bad luck or misfortune, but as the decisions that led you up to this point.

It is not about self-blame or self-pity. You may indulge in both for awhile. You may need to. But to truly grow as a person and be happy, you need to empower yourself. That takes seeing your life as it is not colored by someone’s bad choices, your parents’ mistakes or hard luck.

When it comes down to it, it’s so much easier to blame someone else than to understand, have compassion for, and be aware of what you did to yourself.

It was a hard look at my own life that made me realize this. It took years for me to wake up. I saw that the company I chose to surround myself with, the situations I put myself in and the life that I used to lead were the results of bad choices stemming from a low self-worth. It’s also hearing a quote by Theodore Roosevelt spoken aloud by author, professor and public speaker Brené Brown on Super Soul Sunday that made things sync for me.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

It’s not bad luck that led to moments of insecurity and self-doubt when it came to following my dreams. I realized that I chose people in my life who reinforced a long-held belief that I could not write, that I was not a good enough writer, and that I would never live the life of my dreams. I saw a trail of critics who validated what I was feeling internally. When I finally lifted myself out of the negativity, I saw that I was the one who was putting myself on the line, risking everything, and being vulnerable by following my dreams. The people I listened to were simply good at being on the sidelines, feeling courageous in their critiques.

I say this because you may be in the same boat as me. You might be struggling, working hard, dealing daily with people who don’t support your dreams. You will encounter this whenever you strive for a non-traditional life. Don’t make things harder on yourself by surrounding yourself with negative, non-supportive people.

Happiness and success come when your insides match your outsides. When you notice that the people you spend the most time with are loving, understanding and genuinely care about you, then you’ve done it! You’re on the road to the life you were meant to live.

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When Your Best Isn’t Quite Good Enough

{Etsy print from lizzylemonsouthsea}

{Etsy print from lizzylemonsouthsea}

From Out of Control to Controlling

I felt out of control a lot as a kid. We all did. We were completely dependent on tall, powerful beings that controlled what we could eat, what time we could go to bed, and what we did. While there is comfort in depending on others, it made me feel trapped, unhappy and unsafe. As a result, I developed ways to carve out a sense of freedom in little ways.

It turned me into a nerdy perfectionist. I demanded A’s in all of my classes. And when I didn’t get it? I pulled a Cher (from Clueless) and talked my way into one. This may not sound surprising to you. But imagine a C average grade school student who was so shy she would rather fail a class than do an oral report, and you might understand how shocking this was. But getting good grades was so immediately gratifying! There was nothing else in my life that allowed me to get direct and positive results like that. The idea that I could change my world by simply working hard taught me an important lesson about life:

Hard work = Good grades

Unfortunately, I learned after college and graduate school that life itself didn’t work that way. Sometimes you can try your hardest and still end up failing.

What Failure Means In Your Life

There are many moments in my life when I feel like a failure. I feel it when I don’t get a writing job. I feel it when I’m having a bad day. Sometimes I’m overcome with self-doubt when I wake up in the morning. But I never let it stay.

I realized that I am not God. I don’t know why things are happening so why sabotage the gift of what is for the gift I want.

On Super Soul Sunday, spiritual teacher Panache Desai said something so profound that it completely altered the way I saw my life.

He said, “Life is happening for you and not to you.”

It was just a play on semantics, a simple juggling of words. But the idea stayed with me, shook me up and changed the way I saw everything in my life.

Maybe that writing opportunity I didn’t get wasn’t right for me so it fell out my grasp. Maybe that house I was dreaming about wasn’t taken from me, but hidden for me so that I could find the true home of my dreams.

I used it on a trip to California last week and saw gifts bloom like flowers in Spring time. I didn’t hem or haw over lost sleep one night and the next morning I was grateful for the fatigue-I slept like a baby on the plane. I wasn’t worried about being on standby and got first class instead. I didn’t plan our trip to Monterey and found places my husband and I, who have been there multiple times, had never been. In the week that I was there, I learned that by letting go of my own expectations, I made room for life to unfold as it should. And the outcome was more beautiful, and more breathtaking than I could have imagined.

The thing about failure and about being “good enough” is that it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Maybe what you’re labeling as failure in your own life is simply your life..

unfolding for you

not to you.

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The Key to Having More

{Etsy print by wickedpaper}

{Etsy print by wickedpaper}

Everyone wants a better life. They desire bigger homes with huge lots, more money, a better job. But when it comes down to it. What we’re really after is more love, deeper relationships, a more meaningful life.

And you can easily get all of those things. You just have to focus on what you really want and stop getting distracted with all the other stuff.

Watching Oprah interview Nate Berkus on Super Soul Sunday was a great validation of that. She talked to him about his newest book, The Things That Matter. I love the title for its simple play on words and its breaking down of the stereotype that things don’t matter, that they are superficial. It also brings attention to the things and people that really do matter. Once you get clear on that, you’re that much closer to getting what you truly want in life.

On Letting Go

One of the reasons why we don’t have what we want at this moment is that we’re holding on to something-a memory, a belief, a relationship-that just doesn’t serve us anymore. We hold on out of fear that we won’t get anything better. We hold on because what we know is less scary than what we don’t know. We hold on out of a lack of faith that we can’t get what we want. We hold on because a foggy past can easily meld into an idealistic memory if we aren’t too careful.

I love what Oprah says about holding on:

“Most people are trying to hold onto wanting the life to be what it was. One of the greatest spiritual lessons I’ve learned from anybody who’s sat in that chair [for Super Soul Sunday] is that when you are resisting the reality of what is that is where all of your suffering comes from. You’re wanting the moment, the time, to be something that it can’t be is what causes the suffering. And your ability to transcend and accept that that is gone, and now I must move on and create a new normal is the real great spiritual lesson no matter what it is you’re going through.” [If you want to watch the entire show, Oprah has the full episode on her website.]

Once we let go of what was, we make room for what is. Life is such a gift if we stand out of our own way and let it happen.

On Gratitude

When we focus on what’s not working, life can be a real bummer and love sucker. When we immerse our selves in what’s working, it’s as if the world opens up like a budding flower. Suddenly, you have a lot more than you think you did. Your friendships may not be working or your job may suck, but you have an understanding partner or feel safe and comfortable at home. Every single person can find something to be grateful for even if it’s for this single breath. When you devote time to what’s working in your life, your life grows.

If you want more in your life, you can create a wish list/collage, you can gripe to your friends about it, but don’t forget to work on these two things. If you do so, you’ll be surprised by how much things change in beautiful and unexpected ways.

What matters to you? Is it your family, your health, your pet dog? What are you most grateful for? Let’s share the love and let it grow here.

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Finding Your Life’s Purpose

I used to think that finding your purpose was as impossible as finding your keys on a busy morning. It was something you couldn’t do on your own. And it had to involve a little hair pulling and be stress inducing.

So I did that. I confronted it the way I did any problem. I used my left brain, researching like crazy, spending hours in bookstores and libraries pouring over job descriptions in the hope that I would eventually find my answer.

Of course, I didn’t find it. Because digging for truth from external resources never gets you to where you want to go. The only way to find out what you were meant to do is listen. You already know.

{I took that frame with my iPhone so forgive the wavy lines.}

The moment we’re desperately seeking something we’re forgetting our own inner wisdom. The intuitive voice that says, “Remember how you used to love creating stories when you were a kid,” or “think about all the time you spend taking pictures as a teen.” It’s that little spark of energy you feel when you’re doing something you thoroughly love. It’s the activities that make you feel like you’re in the flow. It’s an experience that years after it happened touched you and now you’re changed forever.

A dream isn’t something that needs to be discovered. A dream is already there.

It could have been planted as a seed from the time you were born or it could have grew into an entirely different plant as you’ve gotten older.

Your dreams are an already existing garden. Why haven’t you found it yet? You’ve let the weeds grow over your passion because of time, fear, and the dream killers who you’ve allowed to dictate your life.

If you’re feeling lost, stuck, confused about what you want to do with the rest of your life, stop asking others for help. Stop perusing the career section in your local bookstore. Instead, peer down into your neglected past. Remember your roots and nourish the moments that you used to love, but forgot about. Cultivate your passions and you will eventually rediscover that garden and those precious seeds you planted as a child.

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