Because you gotta have faith…right?

You can strategize and plan and possess all the motivation in the world to reach your goals, but that doesn’t guarantee your path will be smooth or that your journey will be easy. There will be stretches where you feel like you’re driving up a steep incline on a gravel road during a flash flood. Actually, the bigger your pursuits are–and the more you commit to your goals–the more likely you’ll encounter a Mt. Kilimanjaro hurdle. Even when we aren’t shooting for the stars, we all encounter hardships and difficulties that make us wonder:  When will this nightmare stop? How will I get through this?

In these moments of uncertainty…that’s where faith comes in.

Let me first explain what I mean by faith. It isn’t necessarily tied to religion. And it certainly isn’t what George Michael was referring to in his song, Faith–although this post’s title was inspired by the chorus.

What I’m talking about is that unquantifiable “knowing” that there’s something bigger, wiser, and more rock-solid than you out there. It’s realizing that we, as limited humans, have a hard time imagining all the ways a life, a decade, a day, or even a moment can go. It’s admitting that there are things we can’t explain but know them to be True.

So what’s the point of having faith? After all, having it doesn’t reduce the number of times you fall down. It also doesn’t make the fall less painful or disappointing. But what having faith does do is offer a sense of comfort that you’ll (eventually) come out the other side and (eventually) be okay. That’s literally priceless. No one can buy that kind of comfort.

Yes, there’s a reward for faith. But not like we normally think of rewards. People with faith don’t get a pass on hardship. And people without faith aren’t subject to more suffering. Nobody owns the title on hard times. However…

Faith makes failure and adversity easier to endure. Once the inciting moment of your obstacle has passed and the shock has settled in, there’s finally a space where you can take a full breath. A moment where your mind shuts up and there’s a brief pause of silence, of floating, of peace. The reprieve may only last for a blip in time, but it’s long enough to hear that inner voice…hey, remember that “power bigger than you” belief you have? That Bigger Power hasn’t given up on you. So don’t give up on it either. You’ll get through this…somehow. You gotta keep the faith. 

Having faith provides you with the sense that you are never alone in facing your battles. That, too, is priceless.

That inner “knowing” voice is more of a feeling for me, a presence that blooms in the center of my chest. Reminding me that even though I can’t see a way out, solution, or happy ending…THERE IS ONE. If only I can manage to get out of my own way. If only I would stop resisting, accept what IS and what ISN’T, and step (or free-fall) into the flow.

Even when you synch up with faith, you don’t necessarily stay in the flow. Faith can come and go. It’s not an object you own forever. It’s more like a living thing that needs to be tended to, fed, and given attention. Some people lose it, forget it, or reject it. But once you’ve experienced what faith feels like, you notice the difference between having it and not having it. Faith-less times are tougher, there’s a deep hollowness where its presence used to reside. That hollowness can distract you from seeing the solution, helping hand, or path out to the bright side of life because you’re so focused on scarcity and filling that hole.

Faith isn’t always easy. Actually, it’s often NOT easy. But I, like other Faith-ers, do it anyway. Why? Because the more I accept that I may not know what to do when troubles strike–with no tangible evidence I’ll be okay when the fallout settles–and have faith anyway, the more evidence I receive that my faith-ing makes a difference. The alternative gives you nothing back in return; there is no advantage to being faith-less. So, despite the ineffable characteristics of faith– the delicate balance of ebb and flow, the lifetime of practice it takes to have, hold, and preserve it–it’s absolutely worth it. You gotta have faith. 

Redefining Roadblocks

There’s something about encountering a roadblock that makes you want to curl your upper lip into a snarl. You’re on the route you want to go, to the place you want to be, and then….

BAM! Full stop. Can’t go that way. No can do.

Some roadblocks are small and not a big deal. Other times, they are. Huge.

When you’re driving, you can consult Google Maps or Siri or some other all-knowing navigation system. But what do you do when the roadblock appears not on a highway or street, but in your life, on the path to your goals?

Roadblocks are a part of life, happening whether you expect them and deal with them like a pro…or not. I used to see roadblocks as a sign of defeat or inadequacy, so I’d often do all I could to avoid bumps in the road–which, in the mantra “go big or go home,” often leads to the latter option. When I did go big and it didn’t pay off, I worried I wouldn’t find an alternate route to my dreams.

Now? Roadblocks are my teachers, guides, reality checks, and rescuers. I throw out the welcome mat to them. Here’s why:

Roadblocks test your resolve and desire.

When your car hits potholes, you find out just how good your suspension and tire pressure is. When you hit one of Life’s potholes, you find out just how committed you are to the direction you’re headed. Your commitment level may fall into one of these categories:

  • Zero interest. You’re done. Congrats, you’ve discovered the path you were on isn’t for you. A valuable insight–to get to sooner than later–so you can get on with your life.
  • You’re still committed. But also bummed out, burned out, and/or stressed out.  These feelings are normal when you hit a wall. Uncomfortable for sure, but not a terrible place to be. Even doubt, worry, and fear can be useful…as long as that heaviness doesn’t persist long enough to hold you down permanently. Consider why these feelings arose and tune into the mind chatter that’s accompanying them. Maybe this is your opportunity to deal with an unsupportive belief or story about yourself. Because if you don’t now, they’re sure to show up down the road too.
  • You are all in, no matter what. No roadblock will shut you down! You’re a rock star. This commitment level is reinforcing your passion and your path. But before charging ahead, evaluate if the roadblock you’re facing could have been avoided by a different strategy, execution, or attitude. Slow your roll before taking immediate action–take time to reflect on the journey up until now, adjust your plan if necessary, and only then act upon the resulting action step.

Roadblocks force you to think, reflect, question, and brainstorm.

When you encounter a literal roadblock, you consult your smart phone’s or car’s map for an alternate route. When you hit a roadblock in life, you also need to take the time to evaluate the situation. Maybe you didn’t think much about the direction you were going and a deeper dive is in order. Have things changed that, in turn, ask you to reevaluate your wants, goals, and vision for your future?  Perhaps now’s a chance to get clear about your motives, why you started down this road in the first place and what you hope to get out of it. Will it serve your heart’s and soul’s purpose or needs? Or did your pursuit originate from a “should do”?

Roadblocks provide opportunities to learn, grow, and discover.

Like some of the most memorable and pleasurable road trips, unexpected detours may end up being the best part of the journey. And if they aren’t, you at least learn something about yourself and your travel companions along the way. The discovery might be that the “detour” is actually your true path. The lesson could be that the direction you were going was right but the timing wasn’t.

Metaphorical roadblocks test your flexibility and coping skills. Ask yourself questions. Listen to the answers. Brainstorm alternatives. The trick is to use roadblocks to your advantage so that when you finally get up and over them (which you will!), you’re an even better version of yourself because of the experience.

Bringing Your Dreams to Light and Life

One of my Big Dreams came true. I’m a published author.  Although I “knew” this day would come, it didn’t unfold as I’d imagined.

Have you ever wished and hoped for something, and then had the courage to start taking action on it, and then failed a few (or many) times, and worked on getting better and put in more time and effort because, in your bones, you knew this is something you must do–even if it doesn’t earn you a living or recognition–because you can contribute in some small way to the world? 

And then, after all the doubts and fears that you aren’t good enough–all those Who do you think you are for doing this? What makes YOU so special?–filled your ears and then your inner lion roared back that you are indeed worthy and every amazing accomplishment ever done was by a someone (who was once a no one) who did something and why not you

And then one day, that thing–that you wanted so badly and worked for so determinedly–happened. Not just in your imagination, daily visualizations, or dreams. For real. It’s an incredible feeling, isn’t it?

dawn-on-mountain

That’s the path my dream of becoming a published author took. Long, winding, challenging, and in its own time frame.

I’ve written two books before, but you won’t find them anywhere because they never made it past a few drafts. Although I’ve made peace with that part of my history and did grow from it, those “failures” were definitely in the forefront of my mind when I set out to write this current book. This time, however, I was going to get out of my own way. I wasn’t going to let fear and doubt stop me from believing in my Big Dream or taking continuous action toward it.

I had experiences and knowledge I knew could help someone, and it was my soul’s and heart’s wish to give it to that someone. I wrote my book for the friends who know they are meant for something more but can’t see their path. I wrote my book for the strangers I’d overheard venting that they need to change their life now. I wrote my book for the high school and college students who are frustrated because they don’t know what they’re meant to do or be. I wrote my book for the adults who suddenly find themselves living someone else’s life.

I wrote my book for all these people because I was them. In realizing I’d discovered, learned, and gone through things that could help others, I couldn’t keep it to myself. And I didn’t.

As a friend and fellow author, Jai Maa, says: “There are no goals bigger than you. There are only goals that require you to be a bigger you.” I took that encouragement to heart. I hope you can too.

Be big, bold, and bright. Go after what you want. Let no one and nothing stop you. In bringing your soul’s dreams to light and life, you are making the world a better place for all of us. 

To learn more about my book Meant for More: Create Your Dream Life, Plan Your Path, and Start Living It Now please visit my author website

 

How to Keep High-Vibe Around Negative People

You wake up in an awesome mood, get ready to take on the day with a song and smile, and leave your home with a spring in your step. Then, something happens. You can’t quite peg when it started, but your energy sags to the floor, your smile fades, and irritation has replaced joy. You morphed from a spirited soul into a prickly sourpuss. What happened?

People, usually. Everything is made up of energy–that includes us–and whether you realize it or not, you’re affected by the energy of those around you. Ever met someone and felt immediately at ease? Or stood next to a person and felt a kind of force field around them that made you want to run in the other direction? In both cases, you were responding to that individual’s energy.

smiling-french-bulldogIn order to do something about negative vibes, you have to be aware that your energy and well-being are being adversely affected. If you suddenly have this uncomfortable energy and you don’t know why, ask if it’s even yours. Who have you been spending time with? What was the positivity level of the topics and how did the conversation make you feel? Although it doesn’t matter as much to identify the source as it matters to notice the shift in energy, being aware of when and how you encounter negativity can help you avoid people who are repeatedly downers. On the flip side, it’s valuable to notice who makes you feel really great!

Let negative energy go. It sounds much simpler than it is in practice, but once you’re aware of your energetic downturn, stop it in its tracks. Sometimes slapping a smile on your face can jolt you out of your fledgling funk, but other times, more action is necessary. (See below.)

Employ negativity zapping tactics. When you sense negativity, or know you’ll be entering a potentially negative environment, you can use the techniques below.

  • Visualize a bubble of white light around you. See it as a protective shield that will block any negative energy. This imagery isn’t “magic” but what it’s doing is putting you in the frame of mind that you have control over how others affect you…or not.
  • Imagine your heart energy radiating around you 360 degrees. See its radius growing farther and farther, past the room you are in, the building, the city/town, the state, until it’s bigger than Earth. When your light energy is this expansive, any problems or negativity seem dwarfed and powerless in comparison.
  • Have one of these uplifting essential oils handy: Peppermint; lavender; lemon, orange, or grapefruit. Depending on the essential oil company’s guidelines, you can apply a drop to pulse points, warm a few drops between your hands and inhale the fragrance with deep breaths, or add a drop to a glass of drinking water. Note: Citrus oils make your skin sensitive to the sun, so exercise caution if ingesting or applying the oil to your skin. 
  • Speak up. If someone is dumping their bad day on you, you can let that person know in a kind way that you aren’t in a place where you can take on their issues. Or you can change the subject to something more uplifting. Or you can listen to their concerns without taking on their energy. If an energy transfer does happen, take some time to revive yourself. Blocking energy drains energy, so practice self-love.

Citrus-Infused Vodka

Citrus in jar with vodkaI adapted this creation from Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe for Aquavit for holiday gift-giving several years ago but never got around to posting it.  The recipe was such a hit and so amazingly delicious, it would have been a shame to keep this under wraps any longer. 

I never attempted to recreate Samuelsson’s original recipe, so I don’t know exactly how my infusion differs from his.  All I know is that my version is dangerously good!

Samuelsson has a great thing going with his Aquavit, but I made it a bit easier for you.  Fresh mandarin oranges, kumquats, and kaffir lime leaves aren’t always readily available–at least in the Northeast United States–so I did some ingredient swapping.  I used clementines instead of mandarin oranges, but navel oranges and tangerines work too.  Instead of kumquats, I substituted the flesh of lime to get that tangy/sweet flavor.  Lime peel (just green part, no pith!) took the place of kaffir lime leaves.  Another tip: You don’t need to go with expensive vodka, as the infusion flavor is so strong, but do choose a decent potato-based one.  

citrus in jarsAlthough this recipe takes very little time to prepare, it does take planning…the infusion won’t be ready for a week or two (give it a taste after 1 week to see how it’s developing).

Before you run out to collect your citrus, make sure you have a very large glass jar or two, whatever can hold around 3 quarts (or 12 cups) of liquid.  I had to use two jars.  Make sure they are thoroughly sanitized.  That goes for the citrus too.  Don’t store the jars in the kitchen or other areas that get too warm.  I used a nice cool corner of my closet to store the jars.

The resulting liquid will be a vibrant yellow and looks striking in a glass bottle. If you plan on gifting this tasty spirit, find some nice bottles you can sterilize. I’ve used apple cider vinegar bottles, 1800 Tequila bottles, maple syrup bottles…so many options. You can also return the infusion to the vodka bottle for serving at home.

Recipe for Citrus-Infused Vodka

For syrup

  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced – Using the edge of a spoon is a simple way to peel the ginger and wastes less than using a knife.
  • ¼ cup sugar (turbinado, sucanat, or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 small limes (or 1 large lime), peel only – You want the green part of the peel only.  A peeler provides more control and you get larger, easier-to-strain pieces than if you use a grater or microplane.

For citrus infusion

  • 2 limes, cut into 6-8 wedges
  • ½ of small lime (or ¼ of large lime) flesh only, cut into 4 pieces – Remove remaining peel and white pith from lime used in syrup recipe above.  Use any remaining lime to squeeze in the water you’re drinking…You ARE drinking water, right? 🙂
  • 1 pink grapefruit, cut in half and then sliced to ¼-inch thickness
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced to ¼-inch thickness
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced to ¼-inch thickness
  • 2 clementine oranges (or tangerines or navel orange or mixture), peeled and divided into sections
  • 1 liter potato-based vodka

Combine water, ginger, sugar, and lime peel in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove syrup from heat and let cool.  Drop fruit into clean 3-quart glass jar.  Add syrup and vodka.  If using two jars, divvy up fruit, syrup, and vodka between them.  Screw top on jar and let sit at room temperature (or cooler) for 1 to 2 weeks.  Pour infusion through mesh strainer into different container to separate fruit from liquid.  Discard solids.  Pour infused vodka back into original bottle using funnel.