Monthly Archives: April 2016

Dismantling the Wall Around My Heart

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I've been dreaming of my father lately. Two nights in a row he's visited me in slumber. It's got me thinking about love. About life.  About lessons passed down from father to daughter, mother to son.

But are these lessons – these things that become our belief systems – that we allow to define us – even true?

In the Sacred Circle, we've been exploring our belief systems, our core values, our life lessons. We are re-examining the women we thought we were and releasing old belief patterns that no longer serve so that we can heal and become the women we are meant to be.

As part of our Full Moon/Earth Day celebration and ritual, we each made an altar defining a core belief – one we know is holding us back from becoming the women we want to be. 

The funny thing is that the altar I designed and the altar it turned into were two different things; two different belief systems. This brings me back to my father.

My father's father died when my father was 12. My father’s uncle, the man who took over as his father figure, died a few years later. While his sister married and his mother remarried, my father was left to fend for himself. He learned an important lesson from all of this turmoil – a core value that would define the rest of his days: people you love will always leave you, so protect your heart. Don't let anyone get too close so you won't get hurt.

He passed this core belief down to me. Not through his words, but through his actions. I too learned to protect my heart, so I built my heart wall high. My mantra: don't let anyone in so you don't get hurt. The problem is: it doesn't work.

If you prove trustworthy, then I let you in. But it turns out, it's not that simple.   

This brings me back to my Earth Day altar. When I built the altar, I knew that the rose quartz symbolized me. I put flower petals around it because I thought it was pretty and I thought it would help reinforce my core belief that I am enough just as I am. 

2016-04-23 08.12.26I put the altar in my front yard underneath the tree where I knew it would be protected from wind and rain. 24 hours later I realized how unprotected it actually had been. That's when I had my “aha moment” – about my heart wall, about my dad, about what that altar really represented.

Those pretty flowers I scattered around the rose quartz? That was my heart wall – one Mother Nature decided to scatter overnight. The petals I had so carefully and painstakingly placed, torn asunder. That was the second night I dreamed of my father. In my dream he was driving a car and I was in the passenger seat. We had just learned of his sister's death and he shut down, leaving me to take over driving the car from the passenger side. You see, that's what you do when you have a heart wall – you shut down so you don't feel the pain. But it doesn't work.

That's what Mother Nature was telling me. It's time to take down your heart wall.

It's time to become the woman you were always meant to be.

If you are ready to become the woman you were meant to be, ready to dismantle the old patterns and beliefs that have been holding you back, I invite you to join us in the Sacred Circle. It’s time to step into your power.



Full Moon in Scorpio

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full moon over water collage

The full moon is the time of a birth, a time when the seeds you planted at the New Moon prior (approximately 2 weeks ago) come to fruition. So if you set goals and intentions at the New Moon, now is a great time to bring them out and evaluate your progress.

  • What do you need to do between now and the next New Moon to birth your intentions?
  • What needs to happen in your life for that to occur?
  • What do you need to finish up?
  • What do you need to let go of?


This month’s Full Moon is in the sign of Scorpio. Feeling overly emotional? You have Scorpio to thank for that! As a water sign, Scorpios are very emotional, but it tends to lie under the surface. They often try to keep their emotions in check, so they may seem stoic on the outside, but on the inside they may feel in turmoil. Scorpios also tend to be very passionate and need to express their feelings to feel truly heard and that they are living an authentic life.


How Can You Harness the Energy of the Full Moon in Scorpio?

You can add the energy of Scorpio to your Full Moon reflections by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are my emotions telling me right now? Are there things I am hiding under the surface and not acknowledging? If so, what and why?
  • Where am I not being honest with myself?
  • What am I feeling passionate about right now? How can I bring more passion and joy to my life?
  • What do I need to release so that I can be more in alignment with my authentic self?

I think we can all take advantage of the Full Moon in Scorpio to better align ourselves with our Soul's Vision.


Walking in My Power in a Snowstorm: Lessons Learned from Life Not Going as Planned

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snow storm11 of my research assistant students. Check (well minus the 2 whose flights got cancelled). 7 colleagues and their 20+ students. Check. Snowstorm that leaves us stranded in Denver, Colorado for an extra day. Check.

Life doesn't always go as planned. Luckily I've learned along the way that

Yet our job is also to realize that sometimes we may not know… Maybe it's a conversation we had with someone that changed their life. (A former student actually sought me out to thank me for a class he took from me that changed his career trajectory!) Maybe it's a chance meeting on an elevator where we learned something that would help us later on in life in a way we may not have anticipated (A chance conversation I had with young woman I've never met before sparked a new research interest for me!). Maybe it's simply the lesson that it's okay to ask for help, and to receive it.

I learned multiple things on my trip to Denver:

  1. Sometimes you have to let go – I can't control the weather anymore than I can control my website malfunctioning after the latest WordPress update. I also couldn't control two of my students getting stuck back home due to flight cancellations. My poor students panicked. How would they give their presentations if they couldn't get to Denver in time? I soothed their nerves, had them email me their talks and gave them myself. Problem solved.
  2. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches – Usually when I go to a conference, my students want to explore the city in between their presentations while I work from my hotel room. This time, my sweet students made it clear that more than anything, they wanted to spend time with me. We went out for lunch and dinner nearly every day. We hung out in the hotel lobby in between sessions. Even my colleagues wanted to socialize, which is rare in our overbooked lives. I got very little work done, but that was okay. Apparently I needed the social time as much as they did.
  3. Sometimes you have to ask for help – when my website lost functionality in the middle of a high site traffic week, I tried it I fix it myself. I do that, as I am a fixer. I called my hosting company, tried to re-upload content, and looked to support forums for answers. Nothing worked. So I finally reached out to 3 separate website support staff. They were able to restore some functionality, but a week later, the site still isn't fully restored. And I am dealing with that (see learning to let go above!)
  4. Sometimes you have to trust – I knew the snowstorm would pass eventually – or at the very least, the airport would reopen. I also know that sooner rather than later my website will be fully functional again. (Both were excellent lessons in patience for me!) But the bottom line is: I got to a point with both issues where I knew I could not fix the problem. It was beyond my control and/or skill set. I had to trust in the Universe that all would turn out as it should… Eventually.
  5. – My weekends are usually filled with time with my man, chores, catching up with work, planning for the next week, and a little much-needed self-care and play time. On this particular weekend, I had planned to rip up the carpet in my house as I scheduled to get my house recarpeted two days after I got back from the conference. The snowstorm delayed me a day and I was fretting over whether I had time to actually get the house ready for recarpeting. I could have asked for help. I didn't (I'm a doer and fixer, remember?). I figured I'd just stay up late if I had to. It would get done. In between sessions, I checked my phone. “Floors are ready for carpet. And Nike (my unruly puppy) and I got into it while I was mowing your lawn.” I almost cried. My boyfriend took care of my chores and the onerous tasks of moving all of my furniture out of the rooms and ripping up my old carpet and plentiful carpet staples. Did I mention this was his last weekend off before he goes on call for a 70+ hour work week? His generosity never ceases to amaze me. 

I think what I learned most from my trip to Denver is this: we all have unique talents and gifts. It would behoove us to spend our time on those rather than wasting time on things that don't really help us move toward our Soul's Purpose (if you don't know what that is, we are working in that in my group coaching program!). My weekend may not have gone as planned, but I did – inadvertently – spend my time on the things that I do best and will move me toward where I want to be in the next phase of my life: educating, mentoring, coaching, and walking in my power. I even made sure I had some time for self-care and snuck some baths in there!

Moving forward, I know the week ahead will be hectic: another conference, rehearsing for a belly dance show next weekend, playing catch up from being out of town, and – thanks to my boyfriend – the recarpeting of my house. But I also know that everything will work out as it should. I just need to focus on walking in my power, practicing what I preach, and doing what is aligned with my Soul's Purpose. And let go of all the rest.


The Princess and the Pea: Reflections on the Princess Archetype

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I remembered the first time the pain of endometriosis hit like it was yesterday. I was 17 and my mother and I had just eaten at Bennigan’s restaurant. I had experienced menstrual cramps before and this wasn’t it. Doubled over on the floor, wracked with nausea, I thought I had food poisoning and never went back to Bennigan’s again.

Approximately 28 days later, it happened again.

Back in the late 1990s, little was known about this crippling disease. My ob-gyn made an unofficial diagnosis of endometriosis and put me on birth control pills. A few years later, a formal diagnosis was made when an ovarian cyst ruptured and I had to go in for emergency surgery (at the time, endometriosis could only be diagnosed with exploratory surgery). This began a decade-long journey filled with synthetic hormones, prescription pain pills, drug-induced menopause, and five surgeries that would culminate in my body putting itself into natural menopause at age 27. (I later healed my body and came back out of menopause at age 36.)

The funny thing is:

2) My Prince Charming was going to come save me and take me away from the hormone hell I was living in.

It wasn’t until I was 40 and newly divorced that I realized the ridiculousness of both of those beliefs. That I wasn't broken and didn't need saving. And even if I did, I was going to be the one to do it.

I’m not sure where I learned to rely so heavily on this idea of Prince Charming – maybe from childhood fairy tales or Disney movies. Ironically, I didn’t even realize that I was looking for my Prince to save me, so deeply held was my belief in him. But as I sat journaling one day, I realized that I had been waiting on this Prince my entire life.

As I started to examine my own belief system, I began to unravel my thoughts about what it meant to be a woman in today’s society. On the one hand, we were raised to believe that we could be or do anything we wanted to and encouraged to be ambitious and independent, firmly seated in our masculine energy. On the other hand, we were told we had to learn how to cook because “the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Apparently, we would need a man for something, even if we didn’t exactly know why at the time.

As my childhood turned into my teenage years, I was encouraged to be a debutante. My mother hoped those years of cotillion lessons would finally pay off. Unfortunately, she’d done such a good job of pushing me academically that putting on a white dress and dancing for boys was the last thing on my mind. I had AP tests to study for so I could get into college. And that’s what I did.

In college I learned two things: 1) I needed to get my PhD if I wanted to do anything with my Psychology degree, and 2) I was quickly aging past my prime to ‘catch’ a man. Although I thought the point of college was to advance my education, there were many women who went to college for the express purpose of finding a husband. We jokingly called it the “Mrs. Degree.”

Yet, the culture behind the Mrs. Degree was real, and it was based on the belief that women needed a man: they could not function without one.  As I watched my parent’s marriage unravel while my own fertility – what I then thought was the key defining element of what it meant to be a woman  – was in question, all I could think was: I want to escape. I want someone to take me away from all of this. Enter my now ex-husband. I finally got why I needed a man to save me and thought I had found my Prince who would, in fact, save me, in one fell swoop.

As my teens turned into my 20s and my 20s into my 30s, I discovered that life isn’t like a fairy tale. I had my Prince, but he didn’t save me. I had my ‘castle,’ but the septic tank was going bad and we had to shell out a lot of money we didn’t have to fix it. There was no glass slipper, no fancy gown, no ball. Instead, there were surgeries, failed attempts to have a child, and bills to pay. The worst part about it? I still felt broken and assumed it was my fault. I was the one with the job that didn’t make enough money. I was the one who had endometriosis and couldn’t have kids. I was the one who had wanted the ‘castle in the forest’ so I could be surrounded by woodland creatures (and I was – although they never helped out with any household chores – I think Cinderella got the better end of that deal!). All I had to show for it was a stack of bills and a failing marriage.

As my 30s came to an end, I finally realized my husband wasn’t Prince Charming and he wasn’t going to save me. Yet, there I was, still broken. We cut our losses and went our separate ways for myriad reasons. In the end, getting a divorce was one of the best decisions I ever made.

It forced me to take a long look in the mirror. It forced me to stop waiting for a man to come save me. It forced me to be my own Prince Charming. More importunately, it forced me to confront my belief systems. It made me realize that I wasn’t broken – never had been – and didn’t need saving. It forced me to be the woman I was meant to be. It forced me to heal.

If you have been living in your own version of the Princess archetype and waiting, consciously or not, for someone to save you, I invite you to join my Sacred Circle, where we are working on finding ourselves, healing our chakras, our insecurities and not enoughness issues, so we can step into our Feminine Power and live the lives we were meant to live.

Healing Your Roots: Where Do Your Not Enoughness Issues Stem From?

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I was talking with Peggy Nolan on her podcast, Let Go Move Forward, about letting go of our inner critic. We've talked about all the different ways our inner critic can show up on the blog before, but Peggy had an interesting question:


The answer is both simple and complicated at the same time: We are wired that way.

Bear with me; I'm going to put my academic science geek hat on for a moment. We are actually wired to compare ourselves to other people. It's an important way that we learn things about our world. It's how we learn to walk and talk relatively quickly as a child. We watch others and mimic their behavior (our brains actually contain special neurons called mirror neurons that serve this purpose).

The problem is that as we get older, our need to mimic other people’s behaviors so that we can learn new skills dissipates. But our mirror neurons don’t necessarily know that. They want a job to do and it’s their job to compare us to and mimic other people. For many of us, this gets warped and twisted into the version of the Inner Critic I call Comparison Queen Carla: enter not enoughness issues. Suddenly instead of using our natural social comparison tendencies as a way to learn and grow, we start using these innate reactions as a way to judge, criticize, and belittle ourselves.

This actually starts fairly early in life, usually between ages 3 and 5, as that is when we begin to label and judge ourselves and other people. It’s also when our not enoughness issues typically begin. The older we get, the worse this tendency can become if you don’t take active measures to combat it.

It’s time to go back to your roots and heal these deep seated not enoughness issues. If this idea appeals to you, I invite you to join our Sacred Circle. We are spending the next two months healing our not enoughness issues by going back to our roots and healing our chakras one at a time. By doing so, you'll learn to ground and center, uncover your passions, walk in your power, love yourself more, speak your truth, reconnect with your intuition, and see yourself as the embodiment of the Divine Feminine that you are. All of this for less than the price of a cup of coffee a day. Join us!


My interview with Peggy Nolan: