Rising Strong – how to bounce back after a fall

Rising Strong - how to bounce back after a fall

Once in awhile, there comes along a book, a film or a moment that changes everything in your life. This one vital piece in the puzzle of life that makes all the others click in place and make sense. The first such book for me was Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I read that when I was 15 and it forever altered my ability to overcome any obstacle in my life.

The most poignant lesson from that extraordinary account and analysis of life in a WWII concentration camp, came in one succinct line:

No matter what I have faced since I was first introduced to that concept, I’ve never forgotten that vital key to empowerment.

And now there’s another book that has grabbed me by the collar and forced me to look long and hard at all the times I’ve come up against those obstacles. A book that digs deeper into what Frankl was describing, a book illuminating how the strong rise again.

Rising Strong¸ by Brené Brown is her latest tome on the subject of her research on shame, resilience and the courage to continue to rise after a fall.

Her whole thesis, I believe, could be boiled down to this:

“When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.” – Brené Brown

Without giving too much away, I will tell you that The Rising Strong process, as she calls it, can be broken into three aspects of the journey. The Reckoning, the Rumble and the Revolution. To give a super brief explanation of each stage… the reckoning is first just becoming aware of what you’re feeling, which is oftentimes harder than you may think. The rumble is dealing openly and honestly about why you’re feeling that way and what’s contributed to it. And finally the revolution is choosing to deal with it in a different way than you have before.

You must go through all stages, sometimes repeatedly, in order to finally rise strong against whatever is happening. But once you take that first difficult step, you’ll already be better off than you were before.

Looking back at how this has played out in my own life is fascinating. When I first graduated from college, I moved to London. The original plan was to stay several years, but as I’ve mentioned in other posts, things didn’t go according to plan.

My temporary work visa ended and I have to leave. I went to teach ESL in Ukraine for a few months and then returned to England for another short while looking for a more permanent job to keep me there. After months of looking and trying I had to return back to the U.S., feeling like an utter failure. Ugh.

But I didn’t stop there. I tried once again to move to the U.K. and did my second master’s degree in Northern Ireland. Again, big hopes were dashed as once more I couldn’t find a permanent job to extend my visa. In a deja vu turn of events, I returned back across the Atlantic.Each time I tried and failed to stay in Europe, my ego and pride took massive hits.

Had I known about the rising strong process years ago, I would’ve saved myself a lot of pain and misery as I sorted through my emotional rollercoasters.

As it was though, I held on to a lot of anger, resentment and confusion for years after. It’s only been in the last couple years that I’ve allowed myself to heal after each of my major falls.

The rising strong process is a tough one, don’t get me wrong. It’s not for the faint of heart. Being honest and vulnerable is the bravest thing you can possibly do in this life. But the price of the temporary pain is beyond priceless.

“Integration is the soul of rising strong. We have to be whole to be wholehearted. To embrace and love who we are, we have to reclaim and reconnect with the parts of ourselves we’ve orphaned over the years. We have to call back home all of those part of ourselves that we have abandoned.” – Brené Brown

Once you’re fully whole again, nothing in this world can stop you from reaching your fullest most magnificent potential. And that’s the highest honor we can do for ourselves and the world.

Have you read Rising Strong? What did you take away from it? Or what books have changed your life? How did they do that?

Tools for Life – Add light and energy to your day!

Tools for Life - Add light and energy to your day!

Let’s face it… some days are more of a struggle than others. I totally know how that goes.

The alarm comes much too soon, the coffee is not nearly as effective as usual and all you can think about during that never-ending-god-forsaken meeting is how comfortable your bed will be whenever you finally get back to it.

For days like that I turn to a few simple solutions – you guessed it! Time for another edition of Tools for Life, where I give you two simple tools to keep in your belt for those times you need a little extra help.

Today we’re going to add a little light and energy to your life with lemon essential oil and citrine crystal.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard that or even guessed that lemon oil is very extremely useful. It’s in everything from cleaning supplied to candles. It’s such a versatile oil you can use it for almost anything. Physical energy boost, mental clarity enhancer and spiritual confidence enhancer. It’s one little oil that definitely packs a punch!W28QPZPAK6

It refreshes and renews the body in almost every way possible. Its antibiotic, antioxidant, antidepressant… pretty much anti anything you want!

Mentally, it clears the clutter and gets you back to focusing. And don’t we all need that?! Emotionally, it aids with raising your mood and boosts self-confidence (thus the antidepressant aspect). Metaphysically it corresponds with your solar plexus chakra – the center of your self-confidence. It connects you to your divine nature and higher consciousness.

It’s such a happy oil that I can’t help feeling uplifted the moment I open the cap.

My favorite use for lemon oil? As a pick me up in the morning before my walk. I just put a drop or two into a glass of water and drink it down. I can feel my mind clearing up and my body detoxifying at the same time. Lemon oil is naturally purifying and aids in digestion.

NOTE: Before ingesting any oil check that it is safe first. Some oils are not for internal consumption, so always check beforehand.

Lemon oil will surely put a spring in your step, so try some today and discover all the amazing benefits yourself! If you’d like to get the oil I use, you can get it here.

And here are some awesome DIY recipes if you already have oil and want to try new ways to use it.

Moving on the next tool that’ll add light and joy to your life, citrine is one happy little stone.

il_570xN.916320735_lra6Citrine is a bright yellow stone that resembles a little sun. It’s known as the “success stone” for the abundance it brings and is also connected to the solar plexus chakra. It clears unwanted or negative energies and can engender hope. Like I mentioned with the selenite last month, citrine doesn’t pick up any negative energy so you never need to cleanse it.

It’s a great stone for meditation, spiritual development and of course building self-confidence. Like lemon oil, it clears mental clutter and helps you focus. It increases creativity and inspiration. And it can also ease depression and self-doubt.

NOTE: I’m not a physician and cannot diagnose you. If you are suffering from severe depression please seek professional assistance.

Like any other crystal, you can use a tumbled (polished) version and carry it in your pocket, hold it in your hand, or there is always lots of wonderful jewelry made with citrine to be found everywhere. One of my favorites is this gorgeous piece from Elemental Origins.

Citrine and lemon go together so well, it was almost like they were created from the same source. And perhaps they were! All I know is that I love both of them for all the benefits they bring and they never cease to amaze me whenever I use them and immediately feel lighter all around.

Try them out today and see what a difference they can make in your life!

When the fires of pleasure burn bright – Celebrating Beltane

When the fires of pleasure burn bright - Celebrating Beltane

You may not have heard of Beltane per se, but most people have some knowledge of May Day. Although the spring “officially” started at the time of the vernal equinox, also known as Ostara, the 1st of May is when it feels that spring has finally arrived.

Since the equinox, the sun has come out to play more with longer days and warmer temperatures (generally, unless you live where I do). 🙂 Trees and flowers are blooming all around.

It’s a time for celebration and rejoicing! Summer and fun is just around the corner!

Traditionally Beltane was one giant party. In the pastoral British Isles, Beltane marked the true end of harsh winter and fickle spring. It was a time to start preparing the land and animals for the growing cycle and to rejoice in surviving another year.

Fire was a very important part of the celebration and was prominent in the rituals of old. Often communities would gather around large bonfires to honor the growing sun. Farmers would walk their livestock between the bonfires to ward of disease and ensure a fruitful harvest. And then the real fun began with all-night parties!

Being the time of fertility and growth, Beltane became synonymous with carnal desires. Think old school Carnival… but with less bling and more flowers. Having been cooped up all winter long with family and possibly some animals, couples would sneak off to the forest and wild areas to celebrating their youth and feed their passions. It was quite the randy affair.

Modern celebrations are perhaps a bit more restrained but no less energizing. It’s unlikely you’ll be in a place to start some bonfires, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live it up with a few modified traditions.

Let’s light our own fires as we move more fully into the wheel of the year.

Here are 4 fun and festive ways to celebrate Beltane this year:

U5LYW9UWS0May Day baskets – I’ve never taken part in this wonderful tradition but many of my friends have told me about it. It’s basically a more summery version of an Easter basket plus the fun of a “ding-dong ditch”. You create baskets full of flowers and candies and other fun summer items (maybe some bubbles or sidewalk chalk, etc.) and then leave in on your neighbor’s door. Ring the bell and then – run! Obviously, it’s a bit more fun if you actually know your neighbor, but still it’s always nice to receive gifts even from strangers. Bonus points if you do this for your secret crush. 😉 Learn more about the history of May Day baskets in this NPR report.

Mini Maypoles – I’m guessing most of us don’t have acres of land upon which to erect a giant pole into the ground and then run around it with 12 of your best friends, wrapping ribbons until the pole until it resembles a tilt-o-whirl gone mad. However, if you do have a sizable yard and the inclination to set it up for some serious fun… I highly recommend doing a Maypole dance. But if you are like me, living in an apartment without a lot of space to be had, then you can always do a smaller version of this awesomely strange tradition. Channel your inner Martha Stewart and go to the craft store to collect supplies. In this case, a foot long dowel rod will do. Ribbons, of course and perhaps some glue. Don’t forget a foam platform to place the rod into to keep it upright. Then decorate the rod as you would its larger cousin and add wild flowers if you’d like. Now you have a gorgeous minified version that can be a great centerpiece for your table.

20150711_135754Wild Flower walks – This is a great time to get out in the world and glory in the changing seasons. It’s not boiling hot yet (I really dislike heat), but not freezing anymore (unless you live in the great north). Go talk little walks around local nature parks and watch as the earth comes back to life again. Take pictures of the buds you find and then track their progress. I have a particular path I walk around near my home and I’ve taken pictures all year long. I skipped walking during the super snowy time, but it’s been amazing watching all the plant life and animal life opening up again.

Color your life – This is going to be on my list of fun things to do for a while. Coloring!! Bust out the sidewalk chalk (maybe received in a May Day basket), or your colored pencils and let your inner artist out! Spring is all about color as blossoms burst into life in all the shades of the rainbow. On my list to develop this year is my water coloring skills. I used to do some oil painting with my mom long ago, but water colors seem more whimsical and playful to me. Whatever you choose be sure to enjoy yourself!

Summer is now just around the corner. Beltane is a reminder that no matter how long and dark the winter may be, everything is permanent and change is inevitable.

How did you celebrate Beltane this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Try these tools when you need to balance your moods

Try these tools when you need to balance your moods

A few weeks ago, I got very sick. I was out of commission for a week with a cold that wouldn’t go away. It was not a fun way to spend the first few glorious sunny days after a long snowy winter.

But I blame myself, in part. I went out in my summer clothes in the midst of winter. (Now, this is rather a typical Coloradan thing to do, and I wasn’t the only one around in flip flops already!) Yet, despite the tricky sun coming out to play – it’s still very much wintry temperatures out here.

Yes, spring is coming, but it ain’t here fully yet!

Just like a runner who starts training too soon after recovering from an injury, I pushed the envelope too fast too soon and got my butt kicked for it. This happens more often than we like to admit I think. Impatient with being sick, or cooped up inside for weeks, or not feeling 100% ourselves, we try to get back to your normal routines before we’re really ready.

So when you need a gentle helper in keeping a harmonious balance mentally or emotionally try these two to
ols.

Amethyst

brazilian-amethystSure, I may be a bit prejudiced in thinking that amethyst is the best crystal since it is my birth stone, but it really is one of the most popular and helpful of the crystal world. It works on all planes (emotional, spiritual and physical) and brings balance, patience and peace.

Amethyst is a calming stone that’s a great all around healer.

It can also help with stabilizing emotions and developing inner strength. It supports you in staying grounded in your beliefs but also connecting to your intuition and trusting your gut. Amethyst is common in jewelry as well as in tumbled forms. The most beautiful form, to my mind, is in its natural geode state.

Whatever form it comes in, keep it close to you when you’re feeling off-balanced or anxious. I wear an amethyst ring nearly constantly and one of my favorite necklaces is an amethyst in druzy (unpolished) style. Rub the amethyst when you when an extra boost of calming and visualize a white light surrounding you, keeping you safe and clearing away your stress.

Geranium oil

Gernaium_lgAnother great tool to help keep you balanced in heart and mind is geranium essential oil. One of my favorite parts of spring is watching all the beautiful flowers coming out to bloom. Geranium is such a happy looking flower, how could its oil not be helpful? 🙂

Geranium helps you stay focused mentally when you feel scattered. It helps to clarify thoughts and put things in order. Emotionally, geranium helps to balance out of whack or chaotic emotions. It’s a great help when going through transitions and transformations.

Like amethyst, it’s protective as well as healing, keeping negativity at bay while you work to bring in positive vibes.

Depending on the grade of oil you have, you can burn in the oil in a diffuser and smell the lovely fragrance. If you have higher grades, you can dab a little on your skin. I prefer behind the ears and at the wrists, but wherever you feel you want to put it is good. If you find you have skin sensitivities, stop using the oil immediately! Balance won’t come if you’re getting a rash instead.

The key to keep balanced emotionally and mentally is to always be gentle with yourself. Some days you may be able to rock it out like a boss and get all your tasks accomplished. Other days, it may be a huge feat just to dress and get breakfast. If that’s the case, remember that all things are temporary, the highs and the lows. But using these tools will help keeping those highs and lows from becoming a vast chasm.

Your turn – what tools do you use to stay balancing? Let me know in the comments below!

Celebrating the balance of day and night

Celebrating the balance of day and night

“Spring is in the air!”

You’ve probably been hearing that a lot lately. Maybe it lights you up and gets you excited for all the spring cleaning, planting and generally more energetic activities that warmer weather brings. There are few people who can resist the allure of longer sunnier days and higher temperatures. Even though winter is my favorite season, even I get sick of the constant scraping of snow and ice from the car, all the bulky winter sweaters and the never-ending dinners of soup and root veggies.

When spring comes, I’m ready to get out there and start soaking up the sun and fresh air again!

But there’s more to this season than fluffy bunnies and chocolates coming out the wazoo.

The pagan holiday of Ostara, also known as the Spring Equinox, marks the day when the sun’s annual trek along the north-south axis reaches its zenith at the Earth’s equator. Although it’s said that the night and day are equally balanced on this day (literally meaning “equal night”, in Latin equi – nox), that’s not true in all parts of the world.

And as I mentioned in a previous post , balance is not always about equal amounts. Life is never fully balanced. It’s more of a tight-rope kind of walk, tilting this way and that. It’s about constantly shifting your weight wherever it needs to be in order to stay on the wire.

In winter our energy was being stored and used in small bits, as needed. Generally winter is about finishing up old work, tying up loose ends, not starting whole new projects. That’s for the springtime when the energy is rising again and new growth comes easier. Now’s the time to begin new endeavors and get the most of the natural cycle of death and rebirth.

So to make the best of this new sun-filled energy, here are five activities to celebrate the coming of spring.

Get out in nature!father daughter walking

In many places in the northern hemisphere, snow is melting, grass is beginning to poke its head up again and birds are making their triumphant return. Now is a great time to get out in the crisp air and experience the return of plants and animals after their winter hibernation. I’m excited to start doing my morning walks again, minus the snow boots and pants! Though it’s still quite chilly in the morning, seeing all the budding life around me makes it worth the brief moments of cold. So go out to the park, take a hike or a field trip to the zoo to watch the babies getting to know the world. Nothing says spring like baby animals! 🙂

Get crafty!

RKVZU56K73Obviously the best known spring craft is painting Easter eggs. This is one of my all-time favorite traditions for sure. But that’s not the only way to bust out the spring creativity. If you’re a gardener, then why not paint your own flower pots? You can get simple ceramic pots at the store and with a little paint and love, create a happy home for your little seedlings. If you’re in a place where you can see dry sidewalks again, maybe it’s time to grab the kids, some chalk and go to town decorating your walkways. Kids have a really hard time with cabin fever, seconded only by their parents. Make the arrival of spring a family affair by heralding the warm weather with some fun outdoors.

Go and get your play time on!AFD3CB0246 

Which leads into tip #3 – go outside and play! Sure you may still need a light jacket (or even heavier one) but as the days have more light, it’s a great time to take advantage of it with some after work playtime with the kids. Break out the bubbles, play a rousing game of tag or hide and seek. There has been some pretty intense wind in my area lately. If you are experiencing similar crazy weather, then get a kite and put it to good use! There’s no better lesson about balance and harmony than trying to keep a kite in the air!

WV6Q25F8ZJTill the soil and start planting!

Spring of course is the time to think about sowing the seeds for new growth. However, planting can take many forms. Sure there’s the usual flower pots to work on and getting the garden ready for the big planting time. But think also about your figurative seeds you want to plant. Has there been some habit you’ve been meaning to start working on? What about that scrapbooking project you keep thinking about doing? Make this the time to start laying down the seeds of new projects and don’t forget to nourish them as you would your physical seeds. Watch them grow throughout the spring and summer so by the time the fall comes, you have real progress to show for your efforts!

NS5Q6MVMZQWho doesn’t love the smell of baking?!

Finally, one of my other favorite traditions in spring is all the holiday breads and cookies. Each family has their own tradition, and my mother used to make Easter bread. Mmmmm… yum! Dust off your bread tins, cookie sheets and bake up some delicious symbols of abundance! This is a great way to show the coming spring that you’ve not only survived the winter, but you’re ready for more growth and abundance to find you! If you have any favorite recipes, teach them to your children and keep the traditions going.

However you celebrate Ostara/Spring Equinox, be sure that you laugh and have fun! Spring itself is like a big joke upon the cold, harsh winter. Yes, winter will come around again but at the end of it we’ll be around to play and rejoice in the energy of rebirth.

You tell me – what are your favorite spring traditions? Leave a comment below.

Here are 2 tools to balance your body and mind

Here are 2 tools to balance your body and mind

As we continue to gain more daylight, growing every little bit more until the equinox – when the day and night are equal – I want to focus on bringing more balance into your life.

Now I know that balance has gotten a bad rap lately as the overused “work-life balance” shtick has fully run its course and then some. However, I’m going to posit that there are many types of balance. Some literally mean equal – as in the equinox, which is Latin for “equal night”, and others are more about being in harmony.

This month we’ll talk about how keeping a harmonious balance in your life is critical to enjoying the highs and coping with the lows.

First off – tools to balance your mind and body!

At the beginning of this year, I started a new morning routine. It’s from The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrond At first I thought it would be just too much work and trouble, even for the purportedly amazing benefits, but I was willing to give it a 30 day try (as per his challenge). I’ve managed to stick with it right through to March already and it wasn’t as hard as I’d expected to add this routine into my morning. I like to take things easy upon waking up and this allowed me to slowly wake up and get moving in my day.

Part of the miracle morning (there are 6 steps, I’ll tell you more about that later) is silence and exercise. For the silence part he recommends meditation. Since I’d already been dabbling in meditation over the past year I thought, sure why not? That’s easy enough.

“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.” – Jean Arp

Usually I prefer guided meditations that help you focus your mind and take you on a little journey. However, I thought listening to someone else talking me through meditation doesn’t really count as silence. Therefore I tried to do a more stereotypical “clear your mind of thoughts” type of meditation.

One of my favorite apps is Calm (website is Calm.com). They have beautiful nature scenes that make you feel like you’re really at the beach, or in a flowering meadow. Calm does have guided meditations (more options are available for subscribers) but I usually use the timer feature.

I will admit that I’ve found it difficult to keep my mind easy breasy. But meditation is not meant to clear all your mind of thoughts, it’s really about keeping you in the present and not getting carried away by those thoughts. This is a problem for me at times, for as an Aquarius, I think – A LOT.

Rather than trying to tame my thoughts I simply envisioned them as clouds in the sky, and me lying in the meadow watching them float by. I could then acknowledge they were there and let me move along. That has helped my meditation practice greatly, and it’s easier to bring my attention back around to the present moment.

The trick with meditation is – there is no trick. Just do whatever works best for you to stay aware of this moment.

If that means breaking the supposed “rules” of meditation, then do it! Just keep yourself aware of the moment you’re in. After all it’s all we have in the end.

Next was figuring out how to incorporate exercise into my morning. Since it was cold outside the last few months, my usual morning walks weren’t that appealing anymore but I definitely wanted some kind of activity first thing to get me going. Coincidentally, I had been introduced to Yoga with Adriene just a few months before and she was the answer to my Miracle Morning exercise problem.

Now, if you’ve not seen Yoga with Adriene yet, then stop, go to Youtube and check her out now. Go on, I’ll wait. 🙂

Okay, now you see how awesome she is, let’s talk about Yoga Camp. Adriene did a 30 day Yoga Camp challenge that is sure to get anyone off the couch and onto the mat. FULL DISCLOSURE – I technically haven’t finished the camp. I’m like 4 sessions off, but I did do yoga every day for 30 days, so I’m taking that as a win!

For me, YWA was a goddess-send. I’ve been doing home yoga for the last few years with the paltry few DVDs I owned. But here was something that changed and updated and kept being interactive without becoming routine (I did the yoga DVDs so much that I can repeat what they say before they say it). Don’t get me wrong, starting out with something was better than nothing, but I needed more variety and I found it big time!

Leo watching Yoga with AdrieneWhat I love most about YWA is that she’s so real. She says dorky things and then laughs at herself. And I find myself literally talking back to her like she would hear me! Yeah… talk about awkward gals. Oh, and bonus – even Leo likes watching her too!

Also, she knows her audience are all real too and all unique. She gives tons of choices and makes you feel like you can do yoga no matter what your physical state or experience is. In fact, I now say I have a “yoga practice” because of her. Whereas before I would say I “sometimes do yoga”.

But now I’m not afraid to try new poses or stick to my favs. As long as I do something, every day then I feel good. And when I happened to skip a day I could tell something was off. I haven’t skipped since. Even it’s just literally one minute and one pose, I still do something to help keep myself balanced mentally and physically.

“I always think I look better after a yoga class. It’s the same as a massage. We look so amazing after a massage because we’re relaxed.” – Andie MacDowell

Whether you’re a full blown yogi or an interested novice, Yoga with Adriene will help you keep your body and thus your mind in harmony. (If it sounds like I have a girl-crush, it’s because I do. I think we’d be besties if she knew I existed.)

So there are just two ideas to help keep you on an even keel. What other tools do you use to stay balanced?

Springtime and new growth – The Birth of SpirWitchuality

birth of spirwitchuality

When I was little, I loved created graphics using Print Shop. (Anyone remember that oldie but goodie?) For a few years I would print out homemade calendars and color them in on New Year’s Eve in a solid, yet still unsuccessful attempt at staying up to midnight.

There was one graphic that I kept for many years, lasting on my wall all the way through high school. It was of a little rose in a vase. This time I didn’t color it in, but left the dark black outline to contrast against the white page. Then in pencil I wrote:

To: Heaven
From: Dacia

Yes. I gave heaven a printed out clipart rose. I’m such a sweetheart. <3

I tell you this story not to boast about my cuteness as a child (though I was damn cute!) or to brag about my mad computer skills even back in elementary school, though they were pretty mad for the time. No, I’m telling you so you understand that spirituality ran deep for me even then.

I’ve always been connected to divinity and found ways in my life to express it, even as a young child.

Some paths seemed more natural than others. For instance, I knew when I was young that I’ve lived many lives. It was clear to me that my soul was much older than my little body. I was also intuitively drawn to the tarot and thus my aunt gave me my first tarot deck when I was 14.

Then there were some paths that didn’t seem to fit all that well. I went to Catholic mass for several years, was very involved in the choir and even when to a Christian summer camp. (I have to say that the adult summer camp I went to last year was much more exciting, but that’s probably because we had happy hour every night.) Although I loved the ceremony and ritual of Catholicism, I couldn’t get behind the doom and gloom, sin and evil part of it all.

So I melded my natural inclinations and beliefs with whatever I found that resonated with me through the years, be it the story of the Good Samaritan or the tale of Buddha’s enlightenment and peace loving principles. Eventually, I came to claim Wicca as my predominant spiritual practice, though I still mix it up with anything that fills me with divine wonder.

And what does all this mean to you? Why am I blathering on like this? Because, just as spring is beginning to peek it’s head out, my business is blooming and growing into its fullest expression.

I’m so pleased to announce the birth of SpirWitchuality! The home for alternative spiritual exploration.

SpirWitchuality is my term for discovering and living a spiritual life in harmony with “witchy” principles. Such as a respect for nature, communion with divinity on your terms, opening up to guidance by the universal powers and trusting your own intuition and inner knowing.

It’s become increasingly evident lately that all things “woo-woo” are being more widely explored and all sorts of people are turning to new age-y ways to help deal with the modern day stresses of the world. I’m thrilled to see this trend and can’t wait to help all those spiritual seekers find the truths that resonant with them best.

I have great plans for upcoming classes, freebies and workshops, oh my! Lots will be unfolding as the year progresses, so keep an eye out for updates. And if you’d like to find out more about my services now, come on over here and read more! Until then, love and light to you all!

Oh, and don’t worry, I’m not going to go too crazy like this new age sister. 🙂

Committing to the great unknown – Marriage in the new age

committing to unknown - book review

Continuing on in the month of love, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the source of much inspiration and frustration in the romantic world – love stories.

From Jane Austen to Nora Roberts, Pretty Woman to Dirty Dancing, love stories whether in novels, films or our own imagination have the power to raise our expectations or dash all hopes.

We all know the scene. It’s the last few minutes of the movie and the love interests are finally opening up their hearts to each other. They’ve overcome misunderstandings and mistaken identities, all to get to this point of seeing and accepting each other.

They embrace, kiss passionately as the credits start to roll and you know they’ll live happily ever after.

What a crock of bullsh**. Don’t get me wrong, I love myself a good romance. And I’ll continue to read as many romance novels as I can get my hands on, but I’ve always wondered what happened after. After that final kiss. What’s the pillow talk like in the morning when the prince wakes up next to the peasant and they start to live their everyday lives together? When they start to deal with the daily annoyances and petty issues abound.

“A fish and a bird may indeed fall in love, but where shall they live?” – Elizabeth Gilbert

There is rarely a movie or show about actual marriage itself, unless you remember Married… with Children, which is just another kind of exaggerated view of love and marriage. You never really see what’s behind the day to day union of lives and how a couple deals with paying bills together or deciding whose turn it is to cook dinner and do the laundry.

G2ZSH1CZMNAnd since most of our view of reality is heavily influenced by society, which includes books, films and anecdotal evidence, the choosing of a partner and merger of two separate lives into one is fraught with unrealistic expectations and often misguided beliefs about what happily ever after actually looks like.

“Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life’s expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Which is why I so greatly appreciated the candor and honest reality of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. This is the story that happens after her happy ending from Eat, Pray, Love in which is found herself and her ability to love again  post-divorce.

I loved this book because I’m also a bit of a skeptic when it comes to terms like “death do us part” and “I’ll love you forever”. Absolutes like that kind of freak me out. Not because I don’t think people are insincere when they speak the words (though s me may be), but more so because I put great stock in the human ability for self-delusion.

We humans can say something and absolutely mean it one day, but then 100, 1000 or 10,000 days later may not have that same belief.

I’m sure almost every couple goes into marriage believing with all their being that this is the one person on the planet that will bring happiness to the rest of the lives. That once their lives are joined then all misery will be secondary and easily overcome. And perhaps for some that’s true. However, with the rate of divorce in the industrialized world as high as it is, that’s not the whole truth.

So in this pseudo-sequel, Liz not only discusses candidly her own reservations about marriage but goes back through history and culture to discover the true meaning and purpose of marriage throughout the ages, (particularly looking at western culture, with some anecdotes of her travels through Southeast Asia).

She went back to the beginning of marriage, when it was merely used as a political means to an end, and how that transformed through the centuries as women’s rights and autonomy grew. Even delving a bit into family history and how her mother and grandmother viewed their marriages and what they compromised for the sake of the family.

photo-1451444635319-e5e247fbb88dHer approach of weaving the story that’s part anthropological and part biographical made for an interesting read.

Rather than just straight memoir, Liz melds both the lessons she learns in her extensive research as well as her circumstance of being in limbo both legally and in travel plans.

As you may have guessed from the title, Liz finally found a truce with her fears and cynicism around marriage. And from reading the book, I too have a different view of the bonds of holy matrimony. Love and marriage are vastly more complicated than much of our popular culture shows. It is more than just last minute confessions of true love and sultry kisses. It’s the everyday choice to work together through whatever joys and sorrows the world brings.

“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert

And once that choice is made, it has to be continually renewed. Love is not an easy ride. It’ll push you and pull you. It will drive you crazy with happiness and with tears.

But one thing I think most of us can agree upon is that it’s very much worth all the ups and downs.

If you haven’t yet read this book, then go out and get it today! It’ll open your mind and heart to marriage. And just to show I’m not anti-romance, here’s a few amazing movie clips for you…

What does marriage mean for you? How did you decide to marry your partner? Or does the word still freak you out too? Let me know in the comments below!

I Heart Valentine’s Day – 14 ways to love yourself

I heart V-Day - ways to love yoruserlfI bet I know what you’re thinking…Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and you still have no plans? Now you’re trying to decide whether to ask the geeky but kind of cute IT guy in the office out, just so you could say you have a date. Or scrap the whole idea and do an “anti-Valentine’s Day” party with your girlfriends.

Luckily, those aren’t the only two options out there. There’s always a third option. Have your own day of love and celebrate YOURSELF!

Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers anymore.

Here are 14 great ways to treat yourself like you would your special someone!

  1. Treat yourself to a spa day – There’s nothing like soaking your feet in warm water for a pedicure or getting the knots worked out of your body during a massage. Spa days are my favorite kind of self-care. It doesn’t have to be expensive either, there are lots of great massage deals around and tons of resources for home spa treatments. Just make sure to get the ambiance right and you’ll be relaxed for hours after.
  2. ZNN96DDKLTTake a day off from taking care of others – You know what I’m talking about here. It’s so engrained to be thinking about everyone else that it’s hard to notice when you even do it. But for one day – or even one hour – just focus on your needs and wants. Ask your hubby to take the kids out for a while so you can take a long luxurious bath without interruptions. Or watch a guilty pleasure show without the constant distractions. Take time just for you, because you are worth it!
  3. Sleep in a few minutes longer and enjoy the sensations of waking slowly – It’s best to try this on a day when you don’t have to run off to work or get kids ready for school. But on a Saturday or Sunday morning, before you rush out of bed to start your busy weekend, take a few moments to just snuggle in and feel all the sensations of the morning. The warmth of the bed. The faint glow of the sunrise. Maybe even your partner snoring next to you. Just take in and appreciate all that’s happening around you in the moment.
  4. Give yourself a hug (no, really, do it!) – This is one I got from my yoga practice. Sometimes the instructor asks us to hug ourselves as a stretch. The other day I gave myself a hug during my yoga routine and really felt the self-love course through me. It was like I was saying to myself, “You’re awesome and you can take on any challenge.” There’s nothing like that to give you a boost. So, go ahead and don’t be shy. Give yourself a hug today!
  5. Get some ice cream, wine and sappy movie (with or without mood lighting) – This can be adapted to any kind of desired date night. Simply choose your favorite beverage, snack and movie and have a blast! For me, I love my sci-fi or fantasy films and always feel much more hopeful about the world after watching them. For added fun, I light candles all over and enjoy the ambiance.
  6. reading with a cuppaGet lost in a steamy romance novel – This is another fun one that I highly recommend! I used to balk at authors like Nora Roberts, but now I’m a HUGE fan. Just like with my sci-fi/fantasy love, romance novels give you a break from the “real world” and leave you feeling better afterwards. Sure, they can be a form of escapism. (I may have had a whole year of reading nothing else but Regency era romances, but I’m over that now. More or less.) But sometimes it’s not such a terrible thing to let your mind or heart rest and recharge to fight another day. As long as you don’t run off to Austenland or something. 🙂
  7. Learn a new fun hobby you’ve been meaning to for a while – This suggestion can be applied during any time of the year really. We all need to stretch our creative muscles sometimes and learn something new. Lately I’ve been experimenting with baking my own bread. Yes, it takes about 3 hours each time, and it’s much simpler to just buy bread at the store. But I’m finding I love the process of letting the dough rise and then shaping it into loaves. Also, it just tastes better! So try something you’ve been thinking about for a while, and see if it’s a hobby worth keeping around.
  8. Try a new activity like belly dancing or yoga and get back in touch with your body – Another way to build new habits is to try an unusual activity. We all know the gym can get boring and some days you just CAN’T fathom getting out of your warm bed to go for a run. So try something else! Belly dancing is a fantastic workout and you really start to feel yourself more in tune with your body. If you haven’t gotten up the courage to try yoga yet, give that a shot! I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene for anyone. She makes yoga easy, simple and fun!
  9. Go to your favorite store and pretend you could buy anything you want – then picture it in your life – This suggestion is a more Law of Attraction kind of thing, but also fun, as long as you have the right mindset about it. Go to your favorite stores and window shop for a while. Imagine all the gorgeous clothes you’d buy and the awesome kitchen gadgets you’d have. See them in your life with all five of your senses. And then watch to see if they appear in real life.
  10. sliced fruitMake your favorite comfort food for no reason (optional if you want to share) – Instead of taking yourself out on the town for V-Day, have a stay at home dinner with all your favorite foods. Get out mom’s chili recipe and grandma’s heavenly cookie recipe and go for it! Have a night of culinary self-care and show yourself some love through food. If you’re willing to share with your loved ones, then the more the merrier! Just be sure you’re enjoying the process and not slaving away in the kitchen for everyone else’s sake.
  11.  Make a list of all the wonderful qualities about yourself – bonus if you post it were you can see it every day – Again, this one can and should be used more often throughout the year. Basically start keeping a list of all your great and amazing qualities! If it’s hard thinking of anything, that’s a sign you need to do this exercise more often. Start with simple things in needed. For instance, I love my nails and hair (both strong and lush). But I also love my laugh and sense of humor. Give it a try and see what you love about yourself!
  12. Give yourself a compliment every day and look in the mirror while saying it – In line with the previous one, this is also great for building up confidence and self-love. Look in the mirror every day, as you’re getting ready to start the day, and give yourself one compliment. Start simple again. Say, “I love how you made coffee this morning!” Or, “You look great in that new top and are definitely going to rock the presentation today!” Try this for a week and see how your confidence blooms.
  13. bubbles in yardRecapture joyful past times of youth – color, sing and dance, make friendship bracelets, whatever! – Sometimes I look at children and think, “damn, you have it good.” And then
    I remember the school drama and my teenage years and thank the goddess I’m over all that. But there’s one thing I miss about being a kid and that’s the process of unbridled creativity! Go ahead and join the adult coloring book bandwagon. I’ve got three coloring books myself! Or go get some thread and dust off your friendship bracelet making-skills. I’m still wearing the one I got last year at adult summer camp! And if you’re really going for it – then go to summer camp and really release your inner child. I bet you won’t be sorry.
  14. Place your hand over your heart and tell yourself “I love you” at least once every day – bonus for looking in the mirror while doing this – Finally and most importantly, don’t forget this one simple task of building your self-love. It takes only a moment but the results are timeless. Just hold your hands over your heart and tell yourself “I love you.” Looking in the mirror while doing this will add oomph to it and make it more real. Remember what the Dalai Lama said, if you can’t love yourself, you can’t love others (and they can’t love you).

Pick a tip to use this weekend, then come back and let me know how it made you feel to focus on loving yourself!

Leaning into fear to build the life you want

Last week I traveled to a new-to-me place.. Orlando, Florida. I was there because of the Life Editors Academy – my yearlong mastermind group. It was our first ever retreat! At last I was able to meet live, in person with all the lovely ladies I’d been working with through Facebook and group calls. It was three days of jam-packed dreaming, planning and laughing!

I’d never been to Florida before and although I didn’t get to go to Disney World this time around, I did go shopping at Disney Springs center. Like most of my generation, I grew up with Disney films. (The Little Mermaid was the Frozen of my day.)

20160121_112317It was a great treat to go to the place where much of my familiar childhood films live in reality. Not to mention the plethora of cute little toys, clothes and handbags… I already started on my Christmas list! 😉 However, this trip was more than just a welcome break from the Colorado winter. Like I said, it was a lot of planning for this year.

You know… the year for me to TRANSCEND and become more than I’ve ever been before.

I have to admit, when you’re conspiring with 8 other amazing women, all with their own stories and big visions, it generates a lot of energy. I feel so jazzed up right now I’m about ready to take off! Although I’m very glad I’m done flying for a while. I forgot it actually takes a lot out of you to just sit on an airplane for a few hours.

But back to the retreat… It was just the thing I needed to get myself together and focusing on my big goals this year. There will be some amazing new stuff that I’ll be rolling out to you all within the next month. So keep an eye out! But for now I’ll just recap my time in ‘gator country and leave it at that for now.

pool at retreat houseSome of the highlights of the trip were watching Inside Out – a very cool movie! And finally watching The Secret. I’m not sure how I never saw that before! Also a very moving and life changing film, and with nearly as much crazy animation. 🙂 Beyond the downtime with some movies and chilly dips into the pool, we also made some crafts! We made vision boards (mine is still in progress…) and painted gratitude rocks.

My all time favorite part though was the great company and life altering meals we shared.

We had our very own personaLEA sistersl chef/yoga instructor and I’m not convinced that she was an angel sent down from heaven to us! I can’t remember the last time I ate so well. I miss you already Heather! <3

I wasn’t the only one wishing heather would come back and be their live-in chef. All my academy sisters felt the same. And that’s not the only thing we shared. Coming from diverse locations like Nova Scotia and Tennessee, we all clicked together wonderfully!

Realizing that our surface differences were just that, we shared our similar visions and deepest fears. Though our backgrounds, experience and dreams may be different, our determination to reach them all shines through the same.

And I know that the journey to our goals will be much easier because of the support of these beautiful, soulful businesswomen.

All in all, it was a blast of a trip! Too short by far but also just enough to light the fire under me that I’ve been needing. So to end my homage to the Life Editors Academy, here’s a little video to show off my time there. (More pictures and videos of the retreat to come soon!)