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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?

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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

 

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The Paralysis of Perfection

Have you ever had a juicy goal or dream that went nowhere? Maybe it was because you couldn’t get past the perfect ending you envisioned. Getting stuck there is largely thanks to the hoards of mental critics that magically appear when you’re about to do something you’ve never achieved. They instantly perk up and fill your head with refrains of: “How are you going to do this?! You’re not ready! Who do you think you are?” They readily supply you with a constant stream of evidence of your imminent failure. That you aren’t smart enough, you don’t know the right people, you don’t have enough money, you have no clue what you’re doing…anything and everything is game.

In short order, you’ve talked yourself out of something you passionately wanted to do. You haven’t taken one step, but in your mind, you’ve pinpointed and played out all the ways you’ve already failed. Your dream suffered Death by Doubt.

Waiting for the perfect moment doesn’t get you anywhere. I’ve missed out on opportunities and experiences because I let my fear of “doing it wrong” stop me. I’m now in that camp that believes it’s better to have tried and failed than to never try and be left with a dreaded “What if?” Waiting until you’re completely prepared and ready will paralyze your dreams…because that time hardly ever comes.

Please don’t misunderstand me…I’m not advocating running headfirst into life without any consideration. This rally cry is for those who have a tendency to be too thoughtful, too cautious. It’s for the Type A personalities and perfectionists. You know who you are.

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I chose this picture I took in Utah as an example of nature following through with her desires without worrying about a perfect ending. This twisted specimen is not what we normally envision when we think of trees. I was grateful the trees had carried on despite whatever challenges and odds they had faced…and there had to be a few. Each tree had a massive goal, and it succeeded in my opinion, but in a way that couldn’t have been predicted.

Nike was spot on with its iconic slogan, “Just do it.” The thing about “just doing it” before you’ve got it “all figured out” is…at least you did something. There are only three things that can happen after you take a step toward your goal:

  1. You fail. Maybe even worse than you could have predicted. Now you know what doesn’t work, and knowledge is power. If you still want to pursue that goal, you can brainstorm another tactic or try again with a refined approach based on lessons learned. If you figure out that your awesome goal wasn’t as awesome as you imagined, great! You can move on, with more perspective in your pocket. 
  2. The result is what you expected or hoped for. Yes! You know what works and can continue. Rock on!
  3. The result is crazy successful, beyond what you thought was possible. Major celebration time! You see that the only limits are the ones you put on yourself. 

Remember, most of the success stories you hear are about a victorious end result following many failures. If you have a passionate desire, a dream that won’t leave you alone, a juicy goal that excites you as much as it scares you…take that first step, no matter how small.

Do your absolute best each step of the way, and let go of whatever is out of your control. Trust yourself, trust Life. Celebrate your courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. Remember WHY you are reaching for this big, scary, audacious ending. Let that vision light you up and keep your fire burning. But just DO something.

What better time to start than right now?

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Lessons from my “Balance Bootcamp”

It’s been a while since my last post (2 months and 4 days to be exact). I’d like to explain. Not because I think you’ve been offended or curious about my absence, but because I want to consistently provide valuable content and conversation here, and I’d like to share why Consistency took a side road.

During June and July, I wrote a book that has to do with personal transformation (a term I prefer over “self-help”). It’s for anyone who feels a little lost, is seeking more direction and fulfillment, and wants to live their juiciest, most awesome life! I can’t wait to share more with you soon, but in the meantime, I can tell you that my book will be back from the editor next week…whoo-hoo!

Another contributing factor to my absence was the start of graduate school. It has taken my brain a month to recover from the shock to my neural pathways, since it’s been [ahem] quite a few years since my last academic experience. It’s also been a significant challenge figuring out how to balance all the lovely moving pieces of my life.

While I don’t have it down perfectly–who ever does?–I have found my center once again. The last two months served as a lesson for how positive, powerful thinking is a daily practice. It’s not like riding a bike, where you never forget how to successful use it. You have to work at it by being self-aware, remembering the basics, calling upon Faith, and allowing time for quiet reflection (where our most enlightening moments lie). Balance is certainly not a one-and-done sort of thing.

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I like to always leave you with some takeaways, so here are some lessons from my recent Balance Bootcamp:

  1. Remember the big picture–why you’re putting yourself through (and enduring) challenges to reach your goals. Knowing why you’re doing something, and keeping your eye on your desired result, will help keep you afloat.
  2. It’s okay to feel crappy. Ignoring or pushing down your feelings will usually lead to a blowup or meltdown later on. So recognize the fear, doubt, and frustration, and feel them. But then…
  3. Allow yourself to move on from the drama. I relied heavily on this mantra: “All is well. Right here, right now.” It put things in perspective. 99.9 times out of 100, nothing is happening in the moment to cause the negative chatter in your head. You’ve got to get out of panic mode in order to see the road ahead. There is always a solution, you just might not be seeing it right now.
  4. You CAN find the time to do what’s most important. But you have to plan for it! If it’s important to you, schedule it. And do it first, if you can.
  5. Take time to practice self-care. The busier we are, the easier it is to neglect ourselves. Big mistake. Even a few minutes to do something that gives you joy, centers you, or allows you to relax is crucial for your well-being. Forcing yourself to push on doesn’t end well.

 

 

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Getting Back to Happy

Have you ever gone through a vibrational rough patch? When you experience low energy or emotional numbness, not just for an hour or a day, but for several? That happened to me a few months ago. I couldn’t seem to shake the funk I’d been dragging around for so long, I was concerned it had become part of me. It ticked me off, actually, because I wanted *so badly* to get back to being happy. I kept saying, What’s wrong with you? Come on, get happy! BE HAPPY!! Berating myself into happiness wasn’t working. As you’ve probably experienced in your own life, that never works.

How do you get back to happy? 

I commanded myself to walk to a nearby park, even though all I wanted to do was lay in my bed. It was a bright day that sharply contrasted my mood. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. I wanted that too. I took a seat on a step leading down to an expansive pond, and turned my face to the sky, looking for answers. Looking for a way back.

What do you do when you’ve temporarily lost your joie de vivre?

The pond rippled from the wind. It was beautiful. Effortless. Everything was going with the flow. The twigs, patches of pollen, multi-colored leaves, and ducks were going with the flow of the water. Not resisting. Not second guessing or asking why. Just going with it. The grass and tree branches were bending with the breeze. Allowing nature’s abundance. None were saying, No, that’s not good enough. No, that’s not the right way. No, I don’t want that. 

Seeing all the raw beauty and noting its effortlessness grounded me into the present. The dialogue loop in my head shut off, taking all my concerns with it. I was thankful for the warm kiss of the sun through the chilled air. I was thankful for my sunglasses that allowed me to easily gaze at the sky. I was thankful for the punctuations of laughter and gleeful yelps from children in play. My focusing in on what was right before me brought me into a state of gratitude. And I remembered…

Life is a bowl of cherries

Photo by Kristin Rath

Gratitude is the way back to joyfulness.

Gratitude isn’t about guilting yourself into thankfulness for the things you *should* be appreciating, but about what you can appreciate in the moment. Whatever it is. The sun, the sky, the soft blanket around you, a really great cup of coffee, breathing. My mom has said to me–when I’ve griped about some minor thorn in my side–“Well, at least you have two legs that work. Not everyone does.” Not always what I wanted to hear, but she’s right. That was indeed something to be grateful for.

Gratitude is the answer. It can lift you back to what’s really important.

How could I have forgotten this simple but powerful practice called gratitude? We take things for granted. It’s just human nature. The trick is training ourselves to consistently bring our focus back to what we have and what’s going well in our lives, instead of focusing on what we don’t have and what isn’t working.

Gratitude is a gift. One that we can conjure up in an instant and gift to ourselves and others in a moment. And it doesn’t cost us anything. Rather, it gives back to us in the form of joy, peace, love, compassion.

In gratitude, we raise our vibration. With gratitude, we can get back to happy. Even when it seems impossible.

What can you be grateful for, right now?

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Mind Your Monkeys

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Photo by Patrick Nijhuis

I have a mind that never shuts off. It’s like a 24/7 news station, giving me up-to-the-minute warnings, analysis, investigative reports, predictions, and reviews. This is great for brainstorming and multi-tasking. Not so great for relaxing and re-centering. It can become quite a jungle up there. I like to call my virtual wild kingdom of ideas, movement, and chatter Monkey Mind. If you think you’ve heard that term before, you’re right…I snagged it from the Buddhists. Don’t worry, I cleared it with them first.

When life throws me a challenge, my monkeys tend to call out in protest, a little like this:

Monkeys:  Who do you think you are? You can’t do this!

Me:  Why not? Other people have.

Monkeys:  Yeah. Smarter, better looking, more charismatic, more talented people.

Me:  That’s so mean!

Monkeys:  Look, we’re just telling you how it is, sugar puff. [Nods of agreement all around.] You’re a nobody in this world and you might as well face it. It’ll take you too long to master the skills or gain experience, and frankly you’re too old to start now.

Me:  No! I can do this! I believed in myself yesterday. [Pause.] At least I think I did.

Monkeys:  Well, that was Head in the Clouds Day. This is Come Back to Earth and Deal with the Hard Truth Day.

Photo by K.C. © 2013 Kristin Conroy

Here’s a hard truth: I can’t banish my Monkey Mind permanently. It’s part of my personality, inherited from a long line of overly active-minded ancestors. I can, however, keep the uprisings to a minimum. I’ve succeeded in taming my monkeys from wild, screaming primates who fling poo to civilized primates who drink tea and discuss the meaning of life in hushed tones.

I used to listen to my monkeys, mistaking their rants as gospel. I didn’t even know I had a Monkey Mind until a few years ago…I thought I was just crazy. I used to let them run the joint, allowing them to feed me a diet of self-doubt and anxiety that kept me from attaining groundedness and balance. It wasn’t until I accepted the presence of my Monkey Mind that I was able to do something about it. 

I know there are others like me out there with Monkey Minds because…well, I’ve met some of them. And that usually means there are many more I haven’t met. Therefore, I’d like to share what helps me soothe my vine-swinging mind primates, just in case you are one of those special people. I learned to be the zookeeper of my monkeys. I not only have to show them who’s in charge but take care of them as well. Make sure they get sleep, love, playtime, mental stimulation, and proper nutrition. I highly recommend practicing yoga. Find the kind that works for you. It’s not only beneficial for your body, but makes you feel mentally lighter and more focused too.

The biggest effect on my monkeys, however, is eating real food. Real food means food that’s minimally processed and originally sourced from something other than a box, bag, or can. Dark leafy greens especially make my monkeys sit down and shut up. Believe me, there’s a difference between forking in the good stuff and indulging in too much crap. I’ve tested this theory out more times than I’d like to admit. Eating well keeps your monkeys stay cool, calm, and collected. Take a gander at my recipes page for good eatin’ ideas.

Photo by Dominic Morel

Photo by Dominic Morel

Another significant part of the primate training process is keeping things in perspective. A Monkey Mind distracts you from focusing on what really matters in life. Monkeys have short-sighted vision, seeing only the fleas on the neighboring monkeys’ backs instead of the beauty of the jungle and the opportunities it offers. When my monkeys are in a frenzy and giving me directions to the loony bin, I arrange a sit-down with them:

Me:  Is worrying about this important to my happiness?

Monkeys:  Huh? Ummm…no.

Me:  The happiness of my friends and family?

Monkeys:  Hmm…I guess not.

Me:  Will focusing on this help me achieve my dreams or goals, allow me to grow or evolve, or effectively solve the problems of the human race?

Monkeys:  NoBut, but…

Me:  No buts, monkeys!  Answer me!

Monkeys:  [Sighs all around.] Noooooooooo.

Me:  Ha! I thought so.

In this case, as is usually the case, I’ll then kindly ask my monkeys to return to their cages to do some Sun Salutations.  Now, this doesn’t mean I can avoid things like bills, chores, errands, annoying work projects, or dealing with difficult people. But comparing these “problems” to the grand scheme of life prevents me from having a panic attack or tantrum because of the misplaced focus of my near-sighted monkeys.

It’s a challenge to live with a Monkey Mind, but when you’re in control, you can live a happy, balanced life. I encourage you to focus on experiences, not things.  Focus on love and appreciation, not being right or perfect. And by the way…perfection is for crazy people. Forget about trying to get there, have that, or wanting others to be that. You and your melon full of monkeys have no use for perfect because…it doesn’t exist.

So in conclusion:

  • Be aware of your Monkey Mind and accept it. It’s part of your charm.
  • Know your monkeys. What sets them off and what calms them down.
  • Be master of your monkeys. Otherwise, they’ll master you.
  • Enjoy life! Laugh fearlessly, love infinitely, give of yourself fully, grab opportunities firmly, learn voraciously. Do things that scare you so you can grow. You only get one chance to live this life. So make it count!