life lessons Archives - Dr. Mary Pritchard

Honoring the Rhythms of Your Body and Of Life

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As I write this is it almost March, the herald of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Yet, if the inch of snow we got last night wasn’t enough to let me know that it isn’t quite time to Spring into action just yet, my body is telling me loud and clear: it’s still time to rest and hibernate.

We talked a couple of weeks ago about the Frustration of February and how, after a long, hard Winter, many of us in the Northern Hemisphere are ready for Spring to bloom. Yet, as in Nature and in life, there is a Season – a right time – for everything. If I’ve learned anything over my 43 years on this planet, it’s that you can’t force things to happen. You might think you are in “control” and have it all together, but don’t be surprised if and when Universe knocks you off your high horse!

I used to be a control freak. Truth be told, it’s still something I fight nearly every day (I was born on the cusp of Virgo…). Several years ago I had a pretty bad year. It was one of those years that was jam-packed more “life lessons” than I cared to learn, but learn them I did. Three of the biggest lessons I learned that year were:

  • Life happens for you, not to you – I used to get so mad at the Universe when things went wrong. I would think to myself, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” Yet, I learned two important lessons that year: 1) I wasn’t in control of everything; I couldn’t be. 2) Playing the victim and asking, “Why me?” was getting me nowhere. Here’s the thing: you can’t control everything, but you can control how you respond and what lessons you learn from everything that happens for you. Life is nothing but a journey of opportunities for growth, after all.
  • Honor the rhythms of your body and of life – I used to try to be the Energizer bunny. I would go and go until I crashed. I would work through pain, sickness, grief. Work became my go to coping mechanism because it’s what I learned growing up. Unfortunately, that viewpoint very nearly killed me (I almost died of pneumonia when I was 25). I’m nothing if not a slow learner, and I am still a work in progress. But here’s what I know about me: my energy levels vary. They are not constant. Also, I am not the Energizer bunny (nor are you, for that matter). We weren’t meant to keep pushing ourselves until we break. It’s not healthy and it likely won’t make you happy either. (See today’s video for more on cycles and rhythms.)
  • You can’t fight the Universe – after my very stressful year of learning these lessons, I started January of the next year with a new motto: instead of fighting the Universe (a battle I never won), what would happen if I tried to go with the flow more, laughed a little more at myself, and tried a little harder to pay attention to the lessons Universe was trying to teach me? This wasn’t easy, mind you, as it was a complete 180 from what I had been doing most of my life. But, I found that if I just stopped resisting for a minute and allowed myself time to breathe, check in with myself, and ask, “What’s the lesson here?,” Life got, if not easier, then at least more enjoyable. Those onions didn’t seem quite so bad and instead of getting hit with Cosmic 2x4s, Universe turned to more gentle nudges and whispers because I was finally listening so it didn’t have to scream so loudly!

In today’s video, I discuss a little bit more about these life lessons and how you can learn to harness the power of the cycles and rhythms of your body and your life.

Why is This Happening for Me?

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I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a podcast, Lori's Lemonade Stand, this past week. I'll let you know as soon as the episode goes live. She started the episode by asking me to dish the dirt. She wanted to know where I came from, what my story was, why I say that my mess is my message. And dish I did. And I thought, “What a wonderful idea. What a wonderful way to begin a podcast episode!” 

I talked about this before – on the blog, in my podcast, and on telesummits. Often times people think that because you have a podcast, or YouTube channel, or a blog, that you somehow have it all together, have it all figured out. When faced with a particularly challenging life struggle, clients often ask me, “When is this going to be done? Haven't I learned my lesson yet?” The answer is: it depends. Sometimes we may think that we've learned our lesson, and for a while – maybe even a few years – everything goes smoothly. And then there's that day. That day when you think that whatever lesson you thought you'd resolved comes roaring back into your life once again.

What I've learned in my 43 years on this planet is that life is but a lesson. We all have what I like to call onions – our particular life challenges, struggles, lessons that we were sent here to learn. But onions have many layers. We heal one layer and we think, “I'm done!” Only to find out weeks, months, years later that in fact we weren't done, it's time to dive deep into yet another layer.

As frustrating as these onions may be for us, I encourage you to start to look at them with a slightly different perspective. Instead of getting angry or frustrated, what if you could learn to see the beauty of the lesson that it's trying to teach you? In today's video I talk about how to do just that.

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.



Laughing with the Universe

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laughterI was talking to my friend Lori today – yes, Lori of the “Why did you break your heel?” fame. We were talking about awakening and how once you awaken and learn to listen to what the Universe is trying to tell you, you no longer have to get hit with Cosmic 2x4s.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that 2013 was my year of Cosmic 2x4s. By Fall of 2013, I felt like Lieutenant Dan in the storm-at-sea scene in Forrest Gump when Dan is raging against God and the elements – taunting God with something like, “Is that all you’ve got? Bring it!”

But as 2013 rounded the corner to 2014, I realized something. Telling the Goddess/God/Universe to “Bring it!” will get you exactly what you asked for – more Cosmic 2x4s. By fighting with the Universe, taunting it, I only managed to bring myself more heartache and more pain, which was the opposite of what I really wanted.

So I learned to laugh. Not at the Universe, mind you, but with the Universe. I started seeing those Cosmic 2x4s as lessons I needed to learn. And learn them, I did – after all, when I didn’t or when I slipped up, the Universe kindly sent me a reminder! After a while, those Cosmic 2x4s turned into gentle nudges. And as I learned to laugh with those as well. As time passes, I’m getting more and more ‘gut feelings’ than gentle nudges. Feelings from my intuition that make me stop my course before I do something that would cause the Universe to send another gentle nudge or Cosmic 2×4 my way.

It’s so much easier to be at peace with whatever lessons the Universe feels I need to learn than fighting those lessons. Life is so much more pleasant.

A spiritual teacher once told me, “Life is supposed to be hard.” I now disagree. Life should be easy – we simply have to learn to surf the waves of life rather than fight them. Am I saying that by allowing nothing bad will ever happen to us? No. But by allowing, you’ll be more likely to see the blessing of the event. For example, when my father was diagnosed with cancer, I learned that work – my to-do list, in particular – really wasn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. Work would be there tomorrow, whereas my Dad might not. In fact, he only lived a year and a half after his cancer diagnosis.

Did I grieve once he passed? Of course. It felt like my heart was being ripped in two. But the more I allowed myself to grieve, the more that sadness and emptiness passed through me.

My friend Kami has a saying about life’s little lessons. The first step is to eat them – swallow them whole. Unfortunately, most of us stop there. And that lesson turns fetid, rotting away inside of us. After we eat the lesson, we should digest it – process it, journal about it, make sense of it, figure out what it means to and for us. And then, eliminate it. That’s right – let it go. Once you’ve digested it, there is no reason to keep ruminating like a cow chewing cud. The lesson is learned, you’ve gotten use out of it, so let it pass through you.

I wish I could say I always did that – eat, digest, eliminate – but I’m only human of course. Thank the Goddess that the Universe is always ready to serve that lesson up to me again on a silver platter until I finally learn to digest and eliminate it once I’ve eaten it!

So here’s to the Universe and life’s little and not-so-little lessons. May you find the courage to eat them, the strength to digest them, and the wisdom to let them pass through you.