Processing Hurt Feelings and Negative Emotions

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It happens to all of us. We’re having a great day and then … we get in a fight with a loved one, someone says something hurtful to us, we run into an ex. Good, bad, or wish-that-never-happened, emotions occur. After all, we are all just energy, and so are our emotions: e-motions = energy in motion. So rather than getting caught up in negative emotions, I encourage you to learn to let them be energy in motion.

Easier said than done sometimes, though huh?

So how do you deal with these hurtful circumstances or negative emotions? I’ve developed a 5-step process that I use. Caveat: when you first start using this process, it does take some time. However, it gets easier and faster the more often you do it.

1) Write down (or tell a trusted friend) what happened – the key here is to focus on the facts. Don’t add your interpretation of events or assume you know what the other person was thinking or feeling. It should be something like, “He said this and I said that.” Don’t add in your emotions yet – that’s coming in the next step. Don’t skip this step either. It’s important to get it down from almost a third-party point of view so you can gain more clarity about what actually happened.

2) Write down how you feel and why – this is where you get to feel those emotions. All that hurt, anger, sadness – get it out. Then dive into the why. Why did what he said to you upset you so much? Dive deep here – yes, our emotions are reactions to what happened in the moment; but on top of that, they are often also reactions to things that have happened in the past. This “double reaction” serves to intensify the emotional experience for us and sometimes may feel like it’s been blown up bigger than it would have been otherwise.

3) Figure out what needs to be done and why (realize the answer may be “nothing”) – from a third party perspective (this is why doing this process with a trusted friend can be helpful), figure out if there is anything that actually needs to be done here. For example, if you received a rude email or text from someone, do you need to respond? Today’s video goes more in depth on this step.

4) What do you want to do and why – this is where you get to say all of the things that you really want to do (even if you think it’s not appropriate to do). If you want to say something nasty to that person, this is where you get to write it down (note: you are not acting yet, you are just writing down what you really want to do). Then dive into your why. Why do want to do that or say that? Is it because you’re feeling vindictive? Is it because you’re hurting and you want them to know how much they hurt you? Are you trying to “right” a perceived “wrong?” Get it all out.

Breathe.

5) Decide what to do – this is where you look back at everything you wrote and decide what action step will be for your highest good (or in alignment with your Soul). We may want to say something nasty to someone that hurt us, but that likely is not in alignment with our highest good/Soul’s purpose. I like to think of Byron Katie’s advice here. She encourages us to ask ourselves 3 questions:  1) Is it true? 2) Is it kind (to us and to the other person – note that kind is not the same as nice – I talk more about this distinction in today’s video), and 3) Is it necessary?

I hope this series of steps helps you gain clarity on how to process your negative emotions. Let me know how it worked for you in the comments!

I Give You Permission to Just Be…

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Summer is here and I am in mini retreat mode. Yet, I’m finding it challenging to settle in to the pause. Rushing to get things “done” so I can go on vacation, my mini retreat has felt more like my regular work weeks than I’d like.

I was talking with my Sisters in the Sacred Circle about how we were going to handle my limited internet access during my vacation time (we typically converse daily in our Facebook group). I was concerned that I would be letting them down if I went for a few days without connecting with them. But one by one they started to chime in that I needed a break and it was okay to actually take a vacation, even from the Sacred Circle. They assured me that they would be fine during my absence.

Suddenly I felt like I could breathe again. I hadn’t realized how much pressure I had been putting on myself to preemptively handle everything that might crop up in the two weeks I’ll be gone. But of course, you can’t predict the future, so it’s nearly impossible to account for “everything” that could happen.

The more I’ve been thinking about my struggle to cut down on “work” mode and move into mini retreat mode, the more I’ve realized that this too is a life lesson. I think one of my Sisters said it best when she said, “Maybe you are supposed to learn the lesson of disconnecting from “work” and focus on fun and adventure!!” She knows me well!

I’ve found this concept of giving ourselves permission coming up a lot lately – with my private clients, in my group coaching programs, with friends, and, yes, for me personally. This reminds me of an experience I had with a client a few years ago. I had asked her what she did for fun and she said, “You don’t understand, when I let myself sit down on the couch for even 5 minutes, the voice inside my head [the inner critic] tells me I’m being lazy and I should get up and do something.” How many of us can relate to that? We wear our busyness as a badge of honor. We pride ourselves in never taking sick days or vacations. But is that really the way you want to live your life?

When my partner and I first met, he told me that he had over 6 weeks of vacation saved up. At two weeks of vacation a year, that meant he hadn’t allowed himself to take a day off in over three years. He was also working two jobs at the time, so he worked most evenings and weekends as well. I would’ve been more stunned if I hadn’t had been guilty of the same thing…  As we talked about this, we realized that work was an escape for both of us, but now that we were happy and had someone in our lives we actually wanted to travel with, we should do something about it. We decided to hold each other accountable for taking time off and exploring the world and having a little fun. So we made a pact to take at least 2 week-long vacations per year. We made a bucket list of places we want to go and are continually adding (and now crossing off!) places we want to go. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to our vacations!

Yet, you don’t have to take weeks off or go to exotic locales to give yourself permission to just … be. In the busyness of our everyday lives, sometimes the idea of a vacation seems like a far off pipe dream. And yet, it doesn’t have to be. What would happen if you gave yourself permission to take 5 minutes to yourself every day to simply unplug and be? How would that change your life? If 5 minutes seems too easy, then go for 10 or 20 or even 30 minutes! You don’t have to sit in meditation or have a plan for your 5 minutes. In fact, I think it would be better if you didn’t. Rather, just allow yourself to simply be. Like an empty bowl, simply be there – open and ready to receive.

I’d love to hear what you find in your daily practice. Give it time and I bet the insights that simply be-ing give you will be profound.

Unleash Your Inner Wild Woman!

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As a child, I was taught that “wild” was somehow bad. It meant untamed, unruly, dirty, or naughty. It was something no “good girl” strived to be. Yet… something inside of me was always curious about this Wild Woman. Who was she really? I envisioned her as very dirty with mud on her face and sticks in her hair – something that thrilled the tomboy inside of me. At the same time, the “fairy tale princess” version of me knew that I would get in trouble if I ever did that! After all, I was always told to come down from the tall trees I loved to climb – it was dangerous and not at all ladylike.

As I grew, my inner “wild child” was suppressed even further. There was no place for her in piano practice, or at ballet recitals or in cotillion lessons. No, those things required precision and perfection – not messiness. There was certainly no place for her at school, nor later in the workplace. She was simply not allowed to exist. So I cut that part of me off and buried her deep down inside.

Until…

I’m not even sure the day it happened, but some time in my late 30s, I began to hear her calling me. There was a part of me that begin to rebel. It was a whisper at first. The stolen moments swinging on the local school playground when no one was looking. The urge to die my hair a deep red. Singing loudly and off key while dancing in the living room when no one else was home. The endless hours spent running in a failed attempt to run away from the structures I had imposed on my life.

In those moments, she was there calling me to come home. To join forces. To unleash her.

But I was too scared. What would happen? What would people think? What if she changed me too much? What if..?

In today's video, I have an invitation for you to unleash your wild/unabashed/raw/real self. 

If so, I invite you to join me for Season 6 of Woman Unleashed.

Bringing More Joy to Your Life

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If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you.” – Joseph Campbell

 

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Follow your bliss?” Sounds like fun, doesn’t it – to do what calls to you and let the rest go? Or maybe you’re thinking, “That would be great… if I had the time…” You may desperately want to “follow your bliss,” but somehow life keeps getting in the way. Can you relate?

I was talking with a client the other day who was struggling with the idea of following her bliss; she felt mired down by family and work responsibilities. “How can I follow my bliss, or even my heart for that matter, when I barely have time to eat some days?” she asked me. That’s a good question, and one that many of us struggle with.

We all have hopes, dreams, and ambitions. More importantly, we all have needs – things that make us happy and function better on a day-to-day basis. Yet, getting even our basic needs met can be a struggle when we feel weighed down by family/career/life responsibilities. As women, I think many of us were taught growing up that we should be last on our to-do list – if we allow ourselves to be on there at all. We spend so much time giving that at the end of the day, we are too exhausted to give anything to ourselves. In other words, we’re too tired to even figure out what our bliss is, let alone follow it.

The problem with that line of reasoning is this: more depletion only creates more depletion. If you don’t take time to fill your own cup, then your feelings of exhaustion will continue to get worse. Take it from someone who’s allowed herself to get so depleted that she almost died from pneumonia – twice! Yet, if we take time to follow our bliss, and fill our cup on a daily basis, even if it’s just for a few moments here and there, we not only feel better, but we can be of more service to our family, friends, and the world.

I had to learn this lesson the hard way, and I fought it at first. I couldn’t understand how taking precious time from family, friends, and work responsibilities to take care of me would result in more time for family and friends and more energy to give to others. Yet, it does.

So how do you make time to follow your bliss when you can’t even figure out how to make time for you? In today’s video, I answer that question. I hope it serves you.   

A Lesson in Presence

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How often do you multitask, or divide your attention between more than one task at the same time? I do it often, usually without noticing I'm doing so. Even though I have meditated for years, I still struggle with being present.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day. We spend so much of our lives thinking or doing, while we're doing something else, that we often let life pass us by, not noticing the miracles unfold before us. Because I too often fall into this trap, I've recently begun a daily practice of noticing – noticing the flowers as their buds form and then open, noticing the first signs of Spring, noticing the hummingbirds at my feeder. But it's effortful for me at this point. It doesn't feel natural to simply just be present and allow whatever is going to happen to happen. I'm still so easily distracted by my monkey mind.

So I began to explore why I do this. Why I can't simply be still and allow the unfolding. I came up with several ahas from my reflection process:

  1. I still have too many things on my to do list each day – although I limit myself to a to do list of my three most important tasks, these tasks often have many subtasks that need to get done for the entire task to be completed. But that's cheating. It's not my three most important tasks if it's really 20 tasks that comprise those three. 
  2. I still struggle with not tying my sense of self-worth to my productivity. I think many of us were raised in environments where our worth – our value – was determined by how much we accomplished each day and/or how well we did it. Breaking decades of conditioning is difficult to do. Thus, although I am aware that I still do it, it doesn't always mean I can stop myself in my tracks. 
  3. As much as I enjoy my meditation time, too much silence is still a bit uncomfortable for me. I find myself wanting to fill that silence with something. So I need to learn to get more comfortable with silence and stillness. That will be a challenge for me, but one I am eager to accept.

How do I plan to accomplish all of this? To get more present, more comfortable with be-ing, more comfortable with silence and stillness? I'm going to have to get outside my comfort zone.

  1. Instead of organizing my day around the tasks that I need to get done before I quit working, I'm going to try exploring organizing my day around time. So if I decide I'm going to stop working at 2 PM, I stop working at 2 PM, regardless of what I have or have not gotten done that day. While this will be uncomfortable if I have not accomplished everything on my to do list, I think it will help me re-organize and prioritize what's most important for me. It should also have the side benefit of holding me more accountable to actually focusing during the hours I do allot for work (I am notorious for getting derailed by email…)
  2. I'm going to schedule in “noticing breaks.” I want to be able to go outside and just be. Listen to the birds chirping, notice the wind as it crosses my skin, stop and smell the roses. That being said, I think it will actually be more challenging for me if I take some of these breaks inside – where I'm more likely to get derailed or sidetracked by things that are crying out for my attention – like dirty laundry it needs to be washed or things I need to pick up in the kitchen. Just noticing those things, being a silent and still observer, and not acting on them, will definitely challenge my sense of orderliness. It should be a good exercise for me.
  3. I'm going to practice my active listening skills. So often when we're engaged with someone else – either in person or on the phone – in the back of our minds, we're thinking about something else. But that's truly not fair to us or to them. And it certainly is not being present. Most people can sense when we're not present with them. I'm sure you've had that feeling before – that someone wasn't really listening to you when you were talking to them. Half the time, I'm guessing the other person doesn't even realize consciously that they're doing it. I know I don't. The challenge for me will be stopping when I notice my mind going down a rabbit hole and actually being mindfully present.

 

Are You Getting the Support You Need?

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I was talking with a friend the other day about Superwoman Syndrome – the idea that as women today, it's not enough to know that we can do whatever we set our minds to. It's almost like we feel like we have to do it all, or we're less than. 

So many of my clients, and I have certainly been guilty of this myself, define their self-worth by the length of their to-do list and the number of items they're able to check off each day. It's as though, at a fundamental level, we feel our worth is somehow tied to our productivity. The problem is, our productivity is usually defined by somebody else's to-do list (that is, items others wish us to do for them). At the end of the day, we may find ourselves feeling “productive,” yet unfulfilled and exhausted.

I found myself reflecting on this conversation for several days. A quotation – I have no idea who originally said it – kept running through my head: “if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself.”

I think somewhere along the way, this got translated into something entirely different in our brains: instead of “if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself,” it became more of “you should be able to do everything by yourself. If you can't and you have to ask for help, it means you're weak.”

So we stopped asking for help and we started placing more and more burdens on our own shoulders, somehow expecting that we would be able to do it all and do it all perfectly, with no thought to our own health or sanity.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I agree, and I would take it one step further. It takes a village to run a business. It takes a village to raise a family. It takes a village to be human. We need each other to survive and thrive. 

There is no shame in asking for help, or in allowing yourself to receive it. I give you permission to ask for help. I give you permission to accept it with open arms. You don't have to do this alone. In fact, you weren't meant to.

In today's video, I guide you through a process you can use to decide when and where you might need a little support. You've got this. There are others waiting to help you.

 

It’s Time to Take Back Your Power

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It was 6 o'clock in the morning on a random Friday in November of 2013. A woman I'd met one time and barely knew messaged me on Facebook. She asked me: why aren't you walking in your power?

After the initial shock wore off that a woman I barely knew was messaging me about some really weird thing on Facebook, it dawned on me: she was right. I hadn't been walking in my power because I'd been too busy giving it away.

The problem was that I wasn't really sure what taking back my power or walking in my power even meant. I always learned growing up that power was a bad thing – if you have power, then you have power over somebody else. I didn't want that. That didn’t feel good to me. So I had to figure out – what is this elusive thing called power and why did I need to walk in it?

It’s been quite the 4-year journey since that random message I received on Facebook. But since then I've come to define my power as this:

  • it's my ability to share my truth from my heart,
  • it's my ability to stay true to me and what's best for me regardless of what anybody else thinks,
  • it's listening to the voice of my inner wisdom – my connection to Divine – and honoring it.

So how did I do it? How did I take back my power and learn to walk in it?

  1. I stopped trying to please everybody else, because I realized that was exercise in futility. – This was not easy to do, mind you. I had been the “yes” woman for so long that I had people trained to assume that if they asked me to do something, I would graciously comply. More on how I did that in today’s video.
  2. Rather than turning to everyone else for advice, I started listening to that still small voice inside of me because I realized that I actually do know what’s best for me. – This again was challenging. I had become so disconnected from myself that I could barely hear that still, small voice and I certainly didn’t trust it. But over time, and with practice, I learned to reconnect with my intuition.
  3. Most importantly, I stopped hiding who I am and started sharing from a place of my authentic truth – the real me. Purple-streaked hair and all.

I want to leave you with this thought:

But you don’t need someone else to tell you what to do. You have everything you need inside of you.

Express Your Inner Wild Woman [Guided Meditation Inside!]

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The classroom I am teaching in this Summer is very chilly. Toward the end of class one day, I let my bun loose so my hair would cover my neck and warm it up. “It’s a little bit early to be letting your hair down, isn’t it?” one of my students teased.  I thought to myself, “No, no it’s not. In fact, this is the perfect time to let your hair down and let your Inner Wild Woman out to play.”

Spring in Idaho can be deceptive – 80s and sunny one day, 40s and rainy the next. It often looks warmer than it truly is. And yet… there is a part of me calling to get outside, to shake my hips and move, to fully express my creative self.

Earlier in the year, I started a series I am calling, “Chrysalis.” The first painting, which I finished in February was just that – the cocoon of a monarch butterfly waiting patiently to spread her wings and fly. The second in the series, which I finished in March, I call “Emergence.” It truly represents the energy of Spring for me – half in and half out of the chrysalis. With the chilly and ever-fluctuating Spring we’ve had here this year, it has felt like I have one foot testing the waters so to speak and the other, planted firmly inside where its warm. The final painting, which I started in March, has no name, nor have I finished it. It will be the last in the series – the painting where the butterfly spreads her wings and flies. I look at that half-finished painting nearly every day and think, “No. It’s not quite time yet.” Part of me is ready to spread my wings and soar, and part is quite comfortable in the safety of my cocoon. And yet, I cannot stay here forever.

2016 was a year of closure for many of us – a necessary part of the circle of life. We must close and release what no longer serves so that we may open the doors of possibility. But there is a waiting time. A time when we’ve emerged from that cocoon, but still aren’t quite sure where we’re going or how to get there. May feels like that to me. Sometimes this “hurry up and wait” energy is quite frustrating; other times I am grateful for this time of slowness before the fire of Summer heats everything up and motivates us to move. May is a time of harmonizing, clarifying – we need to make sure the goals we set for ourselves earlier in the year still serve us and that we’re not holding onto pipe dreams.  It’s a time to both open to receive guidance and focus our intentions to move in the direction of what we want to manifest this year.

So how do you handle this energy? It’s time to get in touch with your Wild Woman self and ask her how she wants to be expressed right now. It’s time to make sure you are getting your own needs met. It’s time to root firmly into the earth’s energy, harmonize with your Soul’s purpose, and take aligned action one baby step at a time. It may not quite be time to soar, but it is certainly time to explore and test your wings a little bit!

In today’s video, I lead you through a brief guided meditation to meet your Inner Wild Woman and ask her what she most wants for you right now. I hope it serves you!

Tend to the Garden of Your Soul

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I've been getting a lot of emails lately from women who are experiencing what I like to call “bright shiny object syndrome.” May is here, and they're ready to finally blossom. Yet, they're not quite sure in which way they want to grow. In other words, it's like being at a buffet and there are too many items to choose from.

I, too, have been experiencing this as of late. But I've been around enough to know that this is a combination of multiple factors, and not something I need to act on right now.

I like to think of May as the time when we tend to our garden. It's an invitation to look at your life in its current situation. Where are there weeds growing? What do you want to harvest this year? What seeds do you need to plant now to make that happen? What's coming up that's left over or reseeded itself from last year? Do you even still want these things in your garden?

I invite you to think of your life as a garden. Examine each and every area. What's working well for you? What is working okay, but could stand a little improvement? What is not working at all? What do you just need to scrap all together and start over with? There's no judgment here. You don't even have to have all of the answers right now.  In fact, it's probably better if you don't. You need to leave yourself open space, an opportunity for things to be a little different than you expected. In fact, rather than going into this exercise with the attitude that you have to figure it all out, I invite you to go into it with an attitude of exploration. Try something new. See if you like it. If you do, keep it. If you don't, toss it. Give yourself permission to explore and see how life can be even better than you imagined.

But that's okay. Everything happens for a reason – even the things that we don't like. How can you use each one of these “life lessons” as opportunities for learning and growth?

I know that sometimes when you're feeling down, when things just aren't going your way, it's difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. May is a time of learning to trust yourself – of learning to have faith that, no matter what, it's all going to be okay. Even if you don't know how it's going to work out, even if you don't see a resolution, it will all be okay. In today's video, I help a viewer who is struggling with learning to live in the moment and be grateful for what she has when she feels like nothing is working out her way. I hope it serves you.

How can you tend to the garden of your Soul today?

 

What Do You Most Want Right Now?: Listening to that Still Small Voice

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It was Friday of dead week (the not-so affectionate, yet somehow appropriate term for the last week of classes) and I was exhausted. After working 12+ hour days for an entire week and more of the same planned for the weekend, I had a heart-to-heart moment with myself.

I asked myself.

Chocolate was the first answer that came to mind, but then I dove a little deeper: I need a break. That's what I most want right now. I haven't been practicing what I preach. I've been pushing too hard, letting others overstep boundaries. I need time for myself – Time to unwind, time to be me, time in nature alone. After a week filled with meetings and grading, I need to give myself the gift of my own time.

So I did.

I took off at 4:30 Friday afternoon, sat outside and soaked up the sunshine for a while, and then went climbing with my man. A little physical activity to release the tension of the week. Just what my body needed. But I still had to care for my mind and my spirit. So I took off Saturday. I journaled, meditated, spent some time in nature alone.

I believe that every year we have a life theme, intentionally chosen or not. Last year my theme was discernment – learning to decide what was good for me and what was not good for me. This year my theme has been balance. Universe has tested me again and again, sending me continual reminders when I've gotten out of balance. 

Balance is an often talked about term, yet it remains elusive. What does being in balance actually mean? For me, it's a balance of masculine and feminine qualities. It's a balance of doing and being, giving and receiving. It's a balance of work and play. It's a balance of self-care and being of service. 

With our endless to do lists, it's so easy to forget that we should be on them. That we too are deserving of our own time and energy. It's so easy to fall out of balance. 

I have mastered the art of pushing, striving, doing. That's what I did for the first 40 years of my life. But in the last few years I've realized that it doesn't have to be that way. And I've been much happier for it. Yet, that balance I keep seeking still sometimes feels elusive.

I think I've finally realized why. I kept trying to “get there” – to that place of balance, desperately hoping that once I arrived there, I would somehow stay there. But that's an impossible task because balance is more of a flow or a feeling of rhythm than a consistent state you achieve. This flow of balance, like a river, is ever changing. Thus, being in flow, in balance, is a process of constantly checking in with yourself to make sure you still feel in the flow rather than in a state of doing or efforting. 

I understand that this goal may seem lofty. After all, we all have things we must “do” each day – make breakfast, go to work, shuttle the kids to soccer practice, etc. Sometimes our to-do lists require some amount of efforting, or doing things we don't necessarily enjoy. Yet, that in and of itself is an opportunity to play with this idea of balance. My colleagues and I like to make games out of grading so the task doesn't seem so onerous. I take frequent grading breaks to reward myself every X number of papers or minutes I’ve spent grading. Another of my colleagues treats herself to a good piece of chocolate or glass of wine after an evening of grading. It's about finding and returning to that space of flow even in the midst of chaos or efforting.

How do you know when you've gotten out of balance? For me, there are clear warning signs when I'm getting out of balance: feeling “out of sorts,” sleep deprivation, clenching my jaw during the day or while I sleep, forgetting to eat because I'm too busy, and finding myself short-tempered. Knowing your red flags is the first step to stop getting out of balance in the first place.

The question then remains: what do you do if you're already out of balance? First, don't beat yourself up. Even if you think you should've known better, or should've done something differently, there's no sense in beating yourself up. Life happens. Second, breathe, check in with yourself wherever you are. Third, ask yourself: what do I need right now in this moment? Allow the answer to bubble up from that heart space – not that ego mind with all of your to-do lists, but from your heart itself. What did you need to come back into balance? Fourth, go to that thing right now if possible, or if not, as soon as you can get to it. Make yourself a priority – and you'll find you fall out of balance a lot less often.

So I ask you: