A Story the World Isn't Ready For

I sit at the dining room table. The slightest glimmer of the rising sun brightening the sky outside the floor to ceiling window as I take the first drink of my yummy, albeit nutritious, breakfast smoothie. My usual songs of rising playing and my coloring journal in front of me. Oftentimes my morning writing turns into written prayers, as if talking to Him helps to clear my head while also making it all the more real. The work I am doing. The words I am speaking. The fight I am fighting.

I know He is listening, and yet I often have to remind myself I am not alone in this.

When suddenly I am surprised by the words I am writing, my own words, in the chosen color of pink for today,

Why Lord did you write this story for me if you aren't going to give people the ears and hearts to hear it?

As soon as I see the sentence, the prayer, it does not take but a half breath for the next sentence to come out of my hand,

 
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Give ears to the earless.

I close my eyes as a exasperated breath escapes my lips, damn it.

Yep, I curse, even when I talk to Him. He knows I am thinking it anyways. And, guess what? He loves me anyway.

Please God, help me to find a way to do this. I pray for clarity, creativity and courage to create the openness...

Perception may be that I am uber successful, the emails I get each week thanking me for my work and also asking to take me to lunch to learn from me speak to this. And yet, most days I feel as if I am jumping up and down, waving my arms desperately and screaming, "Does anyone see me? Can anyone hear?"

I have come to realize I am in the business of the invisible unspoken; I speak my life into a world of people who don't want to hear my story, in fact some of them actively deny it.

Let's just start with therapy. The stigma is changing as people begin to not only admit but boast that they see a great therapist and you should too. Yet, mental illness is widely misunderstood by both the general public and I am finding even more so by the medical community; let alone, that happiness is a choice and takes intentional daily work. I am a therapist. People love my resources, my education and inspiration. Yet, they struggle, and sometimes even refuse, to do the damn work themselves.

Then we've got my side gig in network marketing with a supplement company that I am very proud of, whose products have changed my life and an industry I love more and more each day. The misconceptions on network marketing and supplementation are endless. People question my motives, products and the industry daily. When all I am trying to do is help myself and others find freedom in their health and finances. Rather, than open up to a different way, what I think is a better way, many choose to stay in their known misery (not much unlike my daily work as a therapist).

Finally, my purpose and calling here on earth; my motherhood, although most won't call it that. My story scares most people, I am the epitome of life not turning out how you planned, hoped, dreamed or paid for. I am the worst case scenario: tried to have kids, paid a lot of money to have kids and ended the journey without them.

I am childless and a mother.

 
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I am the case who lowers the infertility clinics statistics because I did not get the baby and I am the therapist who is helping women thrive through and after this journey no matter what they get. Because despite what the media and the average clinic wants you to believe, not all of us end up with babies; yet there are many versions of the happy ending, I promise.

I am the infertility community's black sheep and one of the hardest working advocates for anyone no matter where they are in the journey. I know my narrative scares the shit out of most and yet it is my scary story, the permission to speak the unspoken and to say enough that helps so many thrive no matter what they get in life.

I am the general society's unacknowledged unsuccess story and a change maker, even if only on the tiniest of scales. People want the story of someone who never gave up and got the traditional happy ending. When in reality those stories are actually few and far between because none of us get out of this life without having to redefine something and choosing to thrive thereafter. My truth is about thriving when life did not turn out, and despite what is shared in the media, or even in my own community, I have one hell of a happy ending. I fight for it, create it and receive it every day.

I was made the mother I am to teach and model it for you.

Now sitting on my orange couch flanked by three little dogs, I take a sip of my steaming decaf coffee. I set the timer on my phone for five minutes for my creative writing which begins as a continuation of my earlier written prayers. My handwriting slows down and clears up after I write again, why give me this story if no one is ready to hear it?

Because, my child, it is not about you, it is about them. It is about Me. Therefore go out and love like Me. Walking in the grace and the mess of truth in love and the complicated gray. I promise, you were made for such a time as this and they are listening.

11 Easy Ways to Calm the F Down

I’m tired all the time.I am not sleeping well.

I worry so much.

I just want to be happier.

I feel like my life is passing me by.

All comments I hear from almost every single client who has ever had the courage to walk into my therapy office. These are also comments I hear from just about all of my friends and family on a regular basis.

As a true educator and mental health therapist I have a usual first recommendation for just about every single client and my loved ones: self-care.

So much of our lives will be improved by working on self-care, however most of us are not choosing to make the time to practice it daily. Self-care that includes a morning and nighttime routine, exercise, proper nutrition, supplementation, water intake, meditation and true talk therapy, especially talking about shame and fear must be practiced daily.

We cannot give from an empty well.

Practicing self-care fills up our well.

The biggest eye rolls and groans I ever get?

That, of course, would be whenever I mention the word meditation.

Despite the growing research and popularity of meditation it, unfortunately, is still far from a household name, let alone a daily practice.

The biggest complaints about meditation being:

I don’t have time to meditate!

I can’t get my brain to shut off!

I don’t know how!

My responses to these complaints, right after, “I know, it can feel so hard!” are:

Meditating will actually help you to feel like you have more time and energy!

It is really more about focusing and freeing your mind than shutting it off!

There are so many ways to try!

I practice what I teach and have meditated more days than not the last four years despite being wired as someone who will never be naturally meditative and calm.

As my new acupuncturist asked me a few weeks ago, “Do you consider yourself pretty Type A?”

To which my response was a scoffing and owning, “Um, yes!”

“You’re pretty intense aren’t you?” he asked.

“I am. I like it. I’ve learned to manage it and I don’t want you to take it away,” I proudly stated back.

Type A, intense or passionate, no matter how you describe it, it is one of my best qualities.

It can also be the quality that kills me if I am not careful.

Our strengths can become our weaknesses, and so I’ve learned to manage my intensity with my self-care practices, and especially with my mediation practices. The most helpful way I have stuck with my meditations is to have a toolbox of different ways and resources to meditate.

Because I have chosen to find some way to meditate most days, my sleep, mood, presence, immunity and happiness are all much improved!

Here are some of my favorite resources to get you started as well, give me five to ten minutes every day for the next 21 days using one of these techniques:

  1. Color in an adult coloring book. I love Johanna Basford.
  2. Use an app like: HeadSpace (my personal favorite), OMG I Can Meditate, Calm, Mindvalley Academy 6 Phase Meditation (my new favorite) or Oprah and Deepak’s app.
  3. Watch a candle flame.
  4. Use an scented essential oil, rub it on your hands and wrists and sit quietly, when you get distracted smell your wrists and refocus your mind.
  5. Listen to the same instrumental song every single day. Breathe by Stanton Lanier is my favorite.
  6. Search a guided meditation on YouTube.
  7. Use a mantra. For example: I am calm or I am loved or Love (in breath), Peace (out breath). Repeat it over and over.
  8. Chanting like from Gabby Bernstein’s YouTube channel.
  9. Try acupuncture.
  10. Count your breaths, inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3, exhale 4 and so on. Only count to 10 then start back at 1. Repeat for ten minutes
  11. A real time feedback tool, my favorite is Muse. Muse provides you with nature sounds for feedback, such as birds chirping when you are in the calm state.
 
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So sit your @ss down and try one of these meditations for ten minutes every single day.

Challenge accepted?

I bet you feel a difference for the better, and if you don’t let me know.

But, I’ll probably tell you to try again with a different tool.

It is all about being open to new things and finding what works for you.

Go out my intense, passionate, Type A warriors and find the glory of calm.

~~~

The only affiliate link above is Muse. By purchasing Muse through this link you get 15% off the purchase price and I make a small commission. All the other links are simply because I love their work and have found them helpful in my journey.

***Contains Amazon Affliliate links.

Through the Darkness We Can Awaken4

Every day I help people through the toughest times of their lives. Every day I model the work I teach. Every day I challenge and comfort. Every day I teach and sometimes even beg. Everywhere I go I am asked advice. Everywhere I go people often feel comfortable enough to tell me their deepest darkest struggles. Everywhere I go I see people searching, seeking and fighting to find more happiness in their lives and trying to figure out how to be more whole.

What I know for sure

We will all have to eventually do the work to be happier and healthier versions of ourselves. We will all have to embrace our lives, get out of our own damn way and own all the parts of it. We will all have to love ourselves enough to choose to change.

And, without a doubt, especially lately, I am learning this work must include taking care of ourselves. It must include the self-care part of our recovery, the self-care part of our lives.

The dark

No matter what your darkness may be; there is never dark without the light. At times in our lives our darkness may be our current circumstances, in which case we do the work to remind ourselves that this too shall pass. At times in our lives our darkness may be our haunting past, in which case we do the work to heal, let go and choose how we are forever changed by it. All the time our darkness can easily drown us and forever change us for the worse if we allow it.

I am awake

What I promise is that the dark only gets darker and last longer unless we choose to do the work. What I promise is that there will be days that being awake can feel so vulnerable and downright brutal. But, what I can also promise is that they will be the best days of your life.

Lately, the difference between the times when I am in the dark and doing well and the difference between my clients that are greatly struggling in their own darkness and the ones who are saying to me,

I am finally awake

is a lot of self-care and a lot of choosing to do this work.

This brutal, hard, frustrating but amazing work of recovery. Especially, the self-care part of this recovery. My clients who are looking at me with engaged eyes and love for themselves are the ones who have trusted me enough to try to choose to love themselves just a bit more by practicing self-care.

The self-care of making time for ourselves. Practicing daily routine. Eating, sleeping and moving better. Looking inward through prayer and meditation and presence. Truly practicing self-compassion. Bravely creating. Using our words effectively. And, beginning again when we mess it up a bit.

This is not easy work, but it is very simple.

I simply choose my self-care every single day.

I simply choose to move through the dark in order to shine.

And, I will challenge, comfort, model, beg, teach, love and help until you simply choose it too.

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The Overwhelming Unknowns

There will always be some unknowns in our lives at any given time. Life is unpredictable and people are complicated and despite our demand to be in control of everything, it just isn't up to us. There seem to be a lot of unknowns in my personal life right now, as it also seems to be a theme for a lot of my clients too. What I am finding is that if we aren't careful these unknowns can pull us under into overwhelmed darkness.

What are some of your unknowns?

Where to go to graduate school? Whether or not to get sober? How long is this injury going to last? Will I ever recover? Does this ever get easier? Will it sell? Will I get published? Can I trust him/her/it? Will he get better? Will we be okay? What it will be like? Will we get through this? Will he/she ever be happy and healthy? What will the doctor say?

The questions of life, the futures we can't tell and these overwhelming unknowns can feel like suffocating death sometimes; and if we aren't careful they become the dementors to our light.

Making us doubt ourselves.

Making us stumble and struggle.

Making us lose our way.

For me, there are a lot of unknowns. I don't know if I will ever see Ever Upward in print. I don't know if my message will reach others to help them on their journey of recovery. I don't know if I will ever feel my true purpose fulfilled. I don't know if my losses will ever be fully healed or worth it. I don't know what it will be like to have my parents live with us for a while. I don't know what my dad's long term recovery looks like. I don't know if I will find trust in my faith.

I don't know... a lot.

And if I sit too long in these overwhelming unknowns my heart begins to race, my jaw clenches, my thoughts become sluggish and racing all at the same time and I begin to lose me. And when I lose me, I struggle to practice my self care, my happy and my recovery. And when I struggle to practice these things the only thing guaranteed to happen is more struggle, more numbing and the return of the old me.

So the only thing I know to do when the suffocating fog of overwhelming unknowns begins to descend upon me is to go back to the basics; sleep enough, eat right, exercise, color my mandalas, read, write, meditate.

I practice and I do in order to really get back to being and feeling. This is what works for me at least.

 
 

Because, this much I know is true:

If I work my recovery, practice self care and practice happy, I will be okay no matter what.

If I reach out for help and own my struggle it will not overtake and own me, and I will and can help others.

If I practice patience, all of the overwhelming unknowns will eventually become known; like it or not, they will come to be in exactly the way they are supposed to be.

Because, I know at least one thing for sure, if it isn't okay it isn't finished.

But, as I have also learned, sometimes we also have to reevaluate and redefine our okay, in other words we must always find our essence of ever upward.

No Seriously, Dance Like No One’s Watching: Practice Happy to Be Happy

I had two clients ask me this week, “Do you really do all of this stuff yourself?” By “stuff” she meant the to-do list of self care I have been recommending to her for a while now. And, for the first time in probably my entire career I was able to wholeheartedly say, “Yes!” Therapists struggle too. We struggle with being brave. We have difficulty in some of our relationships. We make mistakes. We too can suffer from anxiety and depression. We have hurts and traumas. We have shame. And we fall off the wagon of good self care, ultimately struggling to practice what we preach at times.

In other words, we’re human.

I didn’t become a therapist for the money or the freedom of being self-employed, I became one because of where I came from. My story, my struggles and flaws, all brought me to exactly where I needed to be, helping others. My story has always helped me to be a good therapist. However, the work I’ve done this last year of my life after enduring the losses of IVF, has helped make me the best version of myself, and therefore an even better therapist.

Surviving IVF, but more importantly, choosing to thrive after the losses of IVF, has culminated into changing my entire life. I’ve changed the way I eat, the way I move, how I cope and how I take care of myself.

I chose change.

I chose the work of change to get back to the real me; the me, I honestly, hardly even remember ever existing.

This work has included everything I have always taught to my clients.  But now, I practice it myself every day.  I don’t do it perfectly, and there are definitely the days I stand in my own way and fall off track, to only then have to shake it off, and start it over.  I practice it daily so I can model to the people in my life, clients and loved ones, that’s its possible and worth it.  I practice it so I can push them forward and cheer them on.  I practice it so I can empathize with how easy it is to get off track.  And, I practice it so I can get how annoying it can be doing this hard work.

This practice is time consuming and a downright pain in the ass some days.  But I know if I make it a priority and truly practice it all, my life will continue to improve.  So every day I try to exercise, dance (stupid dance, really just bouncing around and kicking to my happy songs), meditate (even just 5 minutes of concentrating on a mantra helps), read, write, journal, color (yes in an actual coloring book with crayons), do yoga (which is never very pretty), listen to happy music (my favorites are Roar, Brave and Shake It Out), play with the dogs, and watch something happy or funny or uplifting (www.24hoursofhappy.com or www.upworthy.com).  There are days where everything on this list gets done, and then there are the days that life only allows enough time for a few. But I know, we all can find the time to do a good portion of this list every day, whether or not it is cutting out 30 minutes of television or turning off the technology for an hour at night.  The best part?  I promise, it’s worth it.

Practicing all of this of self care provides me the strength and the space to live as my authentic self. With this I can I live feeling the fear but being brave, embracing my flaws and losses, and living my authentic truth.

So, I practice happy to be happy. And, I choose, every day, to live the true spirit of ever upward.