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. 

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.

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.

bootcamp-sign

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.

 

 

4 Steps to Conquer the Overwhelm

ostriches in group

There are times when your mind is racing out of control from stress, you’re feeling the wild horses of anxiety gallop in, and you hope the earth will open up and take you out of your misery.

We’ve all been there.

Here are 4 steps that can bring you from a place of overwhelm to to a head space where you can deal: 


#1. Breathe. *REALLY* breathe.

How often we forget to fully implement this simple yet crucial step! When we breathe deeply, we not only calm our system but take our mind out of crisis mode. Stop whatever you are doing and focus in on the sound and rhythm of your breath. Inhale and exhale fully until your heart rate slows. Bonus move: Try tilting your face upward 45 degrees while you do this. I find it naturally tugs your mouth into a slight smile in this position.

#2. Strip away the story.

Emotions cloud our ability to separate fact from fiction. While our feelings are completely real to us and valid, we have to question the story we’re telling ourselves that’s causing our distress. Is it really true?

Suppose we are in conflict with someone. Instantly, we think we’re experts in interpreting their facial expressions, the meaning behind their words, and accurately predicting their next moves. We are the only ones to have successfully entered another person’s head, right? Nice try. While we have the capacity for complex ideas and understanding, we also have fantastic imaginations that can construct entertaining stories. Imagination is a wonderful quality in the creative process, but can create unnecessary drama and pain during stressful situations.

To cut through chatter and get to the facts, try analyzing your circumstances like a scientist. What scientists think of or consider as “real” are things they can prove. Strip away all the story and see what facts are left. What remains is likely a much tamer situation than originally thought.

#3. Slow your roll.

Determine if any action is required. If not, don’t do anything right now! Most of what we worry about works itself out without any action on our part, or we find out that what we were worrying about isn’t as dramatic as we’d assumed (see Step 2).

But, wait, don’t we have to act quickly when things go sideways, put out the fire before it spreads? No. Or at least not until we can confirm we are about to take decisive and supportive action, as opposed to simply reacting. Our primitive brain’s job is to keep us safe, so when there’s a perceived crisis, our instinct is to react. That fight or flight stuff worked really well for our ancestors when there was a tiger chasing them through the jungle. But unless we are in immediate danger, it’s usually to our detriment that our mind urges us to react. I think we can all agree that most decisions made from a state of overwhelm never have the best results.

So resist the urge to “do something.” Overwhelm energy—that extra energy you don’t know what to do with but is screaming to get out—feels crappy. Unfortunately, we often do or say things that are destructive or unsupportive in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort—like lose ourselves in junk food or take out our frustrations on someone else. Instead, do something active. Take a brisk walk, tackle some yard work…punch the air if you have to. Once you expend that energy, you’ll feel more relaxed and less reactive.

#4. Unleash your angst without causing casualties.

Still charged up? One way to freak out responsibly is to write down all of your friction-building feelings about the situation. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and let it all out, anything that you’re thinking. Voice record it if that feels more natural to you. Don’t stop until time is up. This exercise gives you permission and freedom to express how you feel and to identify what it is really bothering you. Then, tear up or delete your entry, allow yourself to let it all go, and move on.


While these tips can’t wipe away adversity, they can at least help squash overwhelm so we can deal with situations from a more centered place. One in which we can tell our brain’s crisis center, “Hey…thanks for looking out for me and being ready for action. But I’ll take it from here.”