Success: It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination

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I graduated college three years ago in December. As exciting as this was, I wasn’t sure where I was headed after. I knew for sure I didn’t want to jump right into a job. The previous summers I worked as a server part time, and in college I was a tutor which was also part time. I knew for sure I wanted a break. After four and a half years of mentally, socially, and emotionally challenging times, I felt it would be best to rest. Also, I had just moved out of my house that summer before graduation and was anxious to just spend unlimited amounts of time with my boyfriend. Yet, there was a voice in the back of my head that said, “No, you have to get right to work!” Of course that voice was planted there from the social stigma and pressure of, “you HAVE to get a job right after college or you won’t succeed.” Granted, most of my friends actually did have jobs lined up. Solid career jobs. Teaching, nursing, and so forth. I felt torn. My gut and heart told me to take time to discover what it was that I really wanted to do…my head told me otherwise. I remember going to a couple of my professors and chatting with them about what I wanted to do beyond college. I asked them if they thought it’d be okay to take a break, like a year off after graduating. My one English professor said, “Absolutely! I wish I had done that when I graduated; I would have made different choices and would have been happier.” I was shocked and comforted to hear this.

A book that my boyfriend, Dave introduced me to helped me tremendously. There were two actually. A short one titled, “How to Find the Work You Love”, and a huge one titled, “Zen and the Art of Making a Living.” (links to this good stuff at the bottom!) Both were designed like a workbook that guided you toward inner truths of what passion you wanted to follow. So, following my heart, as I chose to take my break, I took a shot at the books right away in the new year, 2015. I read and worked through them diligently and the results for me were fantastic! I was able to narrow down skills, values, passions that really meant something to me and aim those things towards a career.

I still had not found that job yet. I had my heart set on editing. Back in college, I had the assumption that the only way to get any kind of editing position was to be in a large city. I had visions of living in Pittsburgh and finding work there. Of course, once I moved in with Dave I eliminated that as an option. Then, surreptitiously while visiting one of Dave’s friends, I discovered a freelancing website and what freelancing was. This was something I didn’t have much knowledge on, and it wasn’t on my radar at all for work. Yet when I asked more about it and learned more, it sparked something inside. A new little voice popped in and said, “yes! I think this would work!”

I began researching several freelancing websites. 3 out of 4 were not very reputable, and there were a lot of scammy jobs out there. The one Dave’s friend mentioned was called oDesk at the time, currently Upwork. Finally, a reputable site that seemed to have what I was looking for. Long story short, I created a profile and started applying for jobs. Mainly, I was looking for other freelancers who were writing to self-publish. Yet, there was a myriad of jobs that I ended up doing. It took a year or so to build up my profile and my reputation/ratings on the site. And all along the way it was a huge learning experience. I learned how to professionally communicate solely through messaging and emailing which was challenging. I learned how to write an appealing cover letter and profile. I learned how to confidently deal with problems that arose. And all along the way I was enjoying it!

I had found the work I love! Am I making buckets of money? No. Thankfully, I work with Dave at his storage business and that provides steady income, but this was the job that was and is my passion. What I had to learn was that balance between the drive for money and the drive for inner joy. For about a year or so I struggled with not having a lot of money…yet again that came from societal standards. I felt like I “should” have x amount by x time. I “should” have this, and be doing that. What I eventually learned is that no, I don’t have to be anywhere or be doing any specific thing by any specific time. How liberating!

Since I’m an introvert, working from home is a dream come true. Not having to be in a crowded building or office is really nice. Not having to have to follow someone else’s rules is great. Being able to pick and choose jobs that suit me personally is awesome. Having a variety of jobs and working with people from all over the country and world is exciting. And being able to create my own rates and bid on jobs based on what I believe I should earn is phenomenal! I set my own schedule, and have my own comfy office down in our basement that I like to call my zen room. No stress whatsoever.

***

So I’m working a dream job that the universe seemed to hand to me after taking a desired break after college, and then along comes a life altering course that I chose to take to overcome family issues. This course I’ve mentioned before, and will mention forever is The Landmark Forum.

Once I completed the three day, intensive personal development course, (which led to some HUGE breakthroughs in my life…I’ll save that for another post), I followed up with several 10 week seminars that are a supplement to the course. To date, I think I’ve done about 4 of them and am about to sign up for my 5th!

Through these seminars I have been able to continue to redefine my perspectives on life. I have chosen several areas of my life to work on, and somehow the work entwines itself into every aspect of your life. The current one I am in is called, “Living Powerfully: Defying the Predictable”. The last one was about success. Why I gave a brief history of college, work and money is because I’ve been cruising at a point in my life where things are just working. I’m happy. And I’m successful.

Through all my personal development personally, with Dave, through books, and most importantly through Landmark, I’ve learned and developed the ability to create anything I want for my life! To come from nothing. Which means constantly recreating moments. Dealing with breakdowns powerfully, getting to the root of issues to clear them completely. One of the key distinctions that struck me and stuck with me is that success is not a place to get to, rather a place to come from. Meaning, you just already, always are successful! There’s no end point. Instead of Do, Have, Be, you live life Be, Do, Have. Meaning, instead of doing things in order to have something so you can be happy… you can just be happy (come from a place of happiness no matter what your circumstances are), do what you love (because that’s what comes naturally for you) and have anything and everything you want! The same with being the cause in the matter of life no matter what your circumstances are. You have to BE to create.

There are no boundaries when you are constantly in control and creating new possibilities. Over and over again. I’ve let go of my money worries. I’ve stopped being in some future that doesn’t exist and choose now. Right now. And now, and now and now. All we have is now. This has helped me not freak out about not having as much money as I’d like.

My confidence shattered the ceiling. I’ve been gaining jobs more rapidly, speaking to others, strangers in ways I wouldn’t have years ago. I’ve self-published a poetry book and sold dozens of copies. I’ve gained and held integrity regarding my editing job along with my responsibilities at the storage business. There’s just…so much!!

I guess one of the main points I’m trying to make through all of this is that: standards are made up. You don’t have to follow them. So, when getting out of college, there’s no one you have to please but yourself, and if jumping right into a job isn’t for you, then don’t do it! It’s as simple as that! Create the space for yourself where you can grow and flourish. Create the space to discover. Play! Play in this space and you’ll be surprised at what you uncover.

Two: Success does NOT depend on social status, wealth, possessions, what degree you have, what job, etc. All that matters is what makes YOU happy! You are successful because you are successful! Because you say so! Other people do not rule YOUR life. I spent a lot of time comparing myself to others in the past. I wasted my time. Comparisons are odious, after all. So, look at where you’re at. What are you doing that makes you truly happy? Where aren’t you happy? What’s missing? How can you take an action that will cause a breakthrough in that area? You have a say in your life! All day, every day. There are so many people who can’t get out of their heads. They can’t get out of their own way. All it takes is seeing. And perhaps taking some responsibility and having integrity.

I remember contemplating grad school. Thinking that it would good in order to get better jobs. Because, you know, college “just isn’t good enough anymore.” No, having a higher degree and or a doctorate does not make you more successful than others. (As I once strongly believed.) It’s certainly not necessary for success. This is a big take away for myself that I’ve noticed as I’ve continued on my path. I don’t need to follow what society stresses and pins as a high honor (and sometimes more of a bragging right.) Kind of like those that feel the busier they are, and more exhausted they appear, the more heroic they’ll seem to others. Life wasn’t meant to be lived that way. And no, you don’t “have” to.

I am thrilled with where I’m at, how far I’ve come, and where I continue to go. I am constantly evolving with no end goal. There is never a finish line. Never that one place you “have” to get to. It’s a deadly trap to fall into if you live in the mindset of, “if I just make it to here and have this…. I’ll be happy!” Because there will be always be “one more thing” you “have to” get to. And so you’ll live your life chasing down every “thing” that you think will make you happy until eventually…you’re a piles of bones in the ground.

In the end, we’re all a pile of bones…so why not live this big, beautiful conscious, ever-evolving life with peace, grace, and ease? Why not have everything you want without chasing and exhausting yourself physically and mentally?

Why not live the life that YOU can create?

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Who Doesn’t Love Good Stuff?

How to Find the Work You Love

Zen and the Art of Making a Living

The Landmark Forum

My Book! Sanctity of Season

 

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We Cannot Live With Our Minds Alone

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We can compute, analyze, create, destroy, but where do important emotions like love, peace, compassion arise from? Where does deeper creativity spring forth from? How do we do more than just…survive? At a recent holistic show, Dave chose to give a lecture on “Heart-Based Perception”. Meaning, how we feel the world around us, and are able to have an instinctive and deeper overall knowing of things. He suggested that when we use our thinking, rational brain, we can certainly make decisions, create, and survive, but sometimes that can only get us so far. And sometimes, those decisions we, or even higher-ups make aren’t so great.

Enter: the heart. It’s the largest perceptive organ in our bodies. It carries and projects a measurable magnetic field that radiates outward up to at least three feet away. And when in close proximity of another, both energies collide and merge. If you think about it, everything is energy. Your body, the air around, every plant and animal has their own energies that are pouring out every minute of every day. The entirety of space is humming, vibrating energy. We are immersed in it all the time. Some of these energies are subtle, so we don’t feel them. Yet, when tuned in, you can easily tap into that energy all around. Check out the link at the end to learn a bit more about physical heart energy.

Reiki is one such practice that facilitates healing using the abundant, swirling energy around us. I have been practicing reiki for a couple years now. I achieved level one, which focuses on direct healing with another person. And level two is where you can do long distance healing using that powerful heart energy. Even with level one, I use my heart energy, the other person’s, along with outer God or Spirit energy in order to heal and release either physical or emotional pain.

Considering that your body uses and stores energy, i.e. food, it’s easy to understand that emotions are energy, too. When negative emotions become locked in, anxiety and depression can occur; especially when there’s no healthy outlet for that energy. On a physical level, our backs and shoulder blades will tighten, our spines will stiffen, and so forth. Yet, I truly believe that we can release any type of pain we have by simply using our heart.

What convinced me of this recently was an incident I had shoveling snow. In mid-March, we had the largest snow storm ever. 26” of the white stuff buried us. Dave struggled with the plow after many attempts just to move the truck a few feet! Once he got it going down the driveway, he got stuck. So, I had to help him shovel it out. I wasn’t happy. My back began to hurt after a few lifts. (And I was trying to lift carefully). It wasn’t too bad. It got worse when I helped him again at the bottom of the driveway, and then again multiple times at our storage business. At that point, I was beyond fed up with the snow. As I cleared pathways, I cursed and hurled my shovel angrily over and over again. In the moment I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but I just remained in that state.

Within the next couple of days, the most excruciating lower back pain arose. I literally couldn’t sit, stand, or lay down…every way I moved just…hurt. Badly. I asked Dave to work on me some to loosen the tightness. He had to work on me for a week straight, twice a day before it subsided. Yet it wasn’t the physical massaging that helped it. Dave advised me that it’d only completely release if I acknowledged the pain and why it was there- basically why I put it there. Then, if I used my own energy from the heart to help it along, it would heal faster. I used my own energy, as well as visualizations of water trickling down my back and through the tight knots. I breathed in white light, positive energy, and exhaled the negativity that was locked in. Lo and behold, after putting that concept into practice, the very next day there was a dramatic difference in my pain level. And a few days after that, there was barely any pain at all, and Dave said that the physical muscle tightness decreased tons. So, moral of the story: it was my conscious and unconscious effort that helped release something inside of me that wasn’t purely physical. I found that to be absolutely astounding.

Going back to anxiety and depression…I see so many suffer. I used to suffer, too. I found a way out. It wasn’t in expensive counseling sessions, medication, or anything artificial. I put myself into a program that helped me dive into myself to release what I had stored up. Some of it I didn’t even know was stored up! It’s astounding what you can discover about yourself when you allow your mind to get out of the way; when you listen to your heart. Once you get to the root, you can let go of what you’ve been holding on to. Let go of what doesn’t serve you. Acknowledge it, take responsibility. In regards to the heart, if you’re not truly feeling, or being perceptive in a deeper way, you’re merely surviving.

When any one of us is in survival mode, we’ll do anything to keep old, and sometimes harmful ways in place. We’ll shut ourselves down, shut others out, and get angry, and blame. We get trapped in a fear. But remember, fear is an illusion. Always.

These fears, anxiety and depression keep us from truly connecting to another human. There are barriers that don’t allow you to feel another, feel and listen to another’s heart. Your energy might still blend in, but in a sense it could be reflected back; in fear there’s no room to grow. With yourself. With another being.

Have you ever felt like you were in the right place at the right time? Where you met someone for the first time, and knew that it was meant to be for some reason? Or, maybe it was something simpler than that, perhaps you felt you should drive a different way to work, walk a different path. All of those things happen when your heart leads you.

Your heart is tremendous. Listen to it, connect yourself to something higher. Connect yourself to yourself! Once you begin to unlock your subconscious intuition and turn off the misleading mind, you’ll begin to see new possibilities that hadn’t existed before. Flourishing creativity, being part of the flow of life instead of against it in work and at home, enhanced and clearer communication, overall stress-free living…these are possibilities you could create, and live. I have- it takes work, and like anything worth doing, practice.

Here are some ways to begin practicing:

  • Simple meditation- with a focus on what’s in your way, identify first, let go second, and create third. Visualize rays of light, a wave of energy flowing outward from your heart. See them slowly expand outward with every breath you take. Then, feel Feel your energy reaching further and further. Connect with someone close to you in your mind. Imagine that heart energy enclosing them in a calming green light. (Green for the heart chakra). Write down your experience afterward.
  • Write- just write down your feelings. Write where you’d like to feel more, how you’d like to feel more. Is it connection you’re longing for? Wanting to eliminate anxiety? Write that down! Then write what your life would be like if your heart ruled and led the way. No obstacles.
  • Reiki – level one. There are many classes out there both in person and online!
  • Reading- I’m sure there are tons of books out there, but one that will help you become focused, and let go of metal clutter is “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. Pure brilliance! (Link at bottom).
  • The Landmark Forum! – An astounding three-day course designed to help you find and activate your true potential. Diving into the past to find how and why certain behaviors are dominating your life, becoming complete with them so you can create whatever you want in life are just a couple of things you can get out of this mind-blowing course. I highly recommend it!
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https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/science-of-the-heart/the-energetic-heart-is-unfolding/

https://www.amazon.com/Power-Now-Guide-Spiritual-Enlightenment/dp/1577314808/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493757570&sr=8-1&keywords=the+power+of+now

http://www.landmarkworldwide.com/

In Every Moment, Be Grateful!

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Your alarm rattles your brain in the morning. You reach over, and hit that snooze button for the fifth time. “What’s the point of getting up today?” You might ask yourself.

What you might not be asking yourself is, “What am I grateful for today?” When you’re down and out, that certainly can be an annoying question that you most likely wouldn’t want to answer. Yet, through my personal experience, others’ stories, and articles of research, it’s proven that being grateful ultimately alters your overall state of being.

Launching into the day with grateful thoughts can seriously boost your mood and attitude; you can then carry those feelings with you all day long. If you need a refresher, take a break in the middle of the day to be grateful for whatever you have in that moment.

There are a couple tricks to helping this stick. Let’s start with the morning. Don’t just passively list a couple things in your head when you wake up like, “oh yeah, I’m grateful for…I dunno…my bed, and my pillow?” It’s extremely helpful if you have a journal, notepad, scrap of paper, so you can help make those things more real. Grab your paper right when you wake up and just jot down a few things that you truly feel grateful for- even if it really is your bed and pillow! Nothing is too small. Notice how you start to feel as you jot things down. Feel free to jot those feelings down as well. Write down as many as you can think of.

I personally struggled with getting up in the morning just a couple years ago. To me, there wasn’t anything to get up for…no activities to do that really sparked my interest, nowhere to go, just…nothing special. I felt miserable. I had no routine to get myself into. And Dave would always have a multitude of activities to keep him busy. This added to my feeling down. I always compared myself to him and what his life was all about. I was completely missing what was right in front of me!

We both stumbled upon this super cool journal called “The Five Minute Journal” about a year ago. It’s a gorgeous, hardcover book which includes an inspiring intro section on how to use it, and pages designed to help you become motivated, on track, and yes, grateful! There are three short sections to fill out for the daytime, actually, right when you wake up: three things you’re grateful for, three things that would make today great, and a daily affirmation. For the evening, you fill out “three amazing things that happened today”, and a section on how you could have improved your day / what you could have done differently. It took me a while to get into the habit of writing in it every day…especially in the morning! I would begrudgingly and drowsy-eyed pick up the book, stare at the page, and just kind of blank out. What on earth was there to be grateful for early in the morning?! Okay, so long story short, I got it. I really got what the little book was about. And it totally shifted my whole perspective on mornings. Not just mornings… being grateful caused a reaction in my brain that helped me with my overall attitude. No longer was I a slave to feeling down.

The fun part is that there are no limits. You don’t just have to write about the big things, but little things count, too! You could be grateful that you’re warm, that you are able to write, that you got your hair cut yesterday….anything! I would often write things like, I’m grateful for my four cats. I’m grateful for my boyfriend, Dave sitting next to me. I’m grateful for the sunshine coming through the window.

I found myself smiling as I wrote.

When finished, I would get up, feeling much happier than I did right when my alarm went off. I would go about the rest of my day making mental notes of all the things that made me grateful. And again, I would smile.

How does this all work, anyway? Aside from all the research, I personally believe that humans as a society are naturally inclined to look at the negatives, to complain, and to find it easier to be down than not. Why? Struggle is the biggest commonality amongst everyone! Jobs, finances, romance…the list is endless. What’s the first thing most do when they get into a conversation? Talk about what’s going on in their life, and what’s not working. We search for that outside sympathy. We have to justify our feelings. Oh, your job sucks, too? Yeah, so does mine, I totally get you. Let me tell you more about how mine really sucks… It’s a vicious cycle that can consume your entire life.

Reality check- It doesn’t have to!! By all means, anytime now, break out! There isn’t any enlightenment in playing a victim, in just agreeing with someone else’s misery, in contributing to the misery bucket that’s most likely overflowing. Instead, share with someone what you’re grateful for. Pause, look around, look in the mirror, see the positive, and talk about gratitude. Lift one another up. There’s so much benefit both physically and emotionally.

Your car breaks down, it’s raining, you’re alone, and your cell phone is nearly dead. What’s there to be grateful for? Be grateful that you’re okay! That you didn’t get into an accident, or injured. Be grateful for the 5% of battery life that’ll get you one call to get you out. The point is, is that there’s always a plus side to the negative- always. The light of gratitude can be found in the darkest of places.

The only moment we have is now. Right now. And, now. Now.

What are you grateful for?

Please check out this link to the Five Minute Journal! And make sure you read my review of it on their page! I promise it’s pretty wonderful.

The Five Minute Journal

Lighthearted Musings

20170224_142215It was 73 degrees out today…closing in on the end of February…a definite first for me in PA! I took the opportunity to go for a long walk with my Dave. We walked along a path carved out next to power lines that run for miles in two directions. Despite a lot of mud in some spots, it was the perfect hike. Once away from the road, just the sound of wind in the tall grass mixed with a few birds, and occasional trickling water sailed through the air.

It’s in moments like these I tend to feel completely at peace. Sometimes, it’s nice to just be. In the moment. Completely. Letting all worries melt away…letting go of the disheartening notions of the earth heating up more, and glaciers melting way up north. Letting go thoughts of those so-called leaders running the country…letting go of smaller worries…letting go of everything! It feels incredible to just appreciate the simple things…really see, and feel them for all of their simple beauties…

Leaving our trail of footprints in the mud as we held hands and walked. Picking up tiny pieces of white quartz in small streams crossing our path. Running my fingers through the cold water, grazing the soft, fine silt that rested in the bottom. Seeing mountains miles away from the top of the ridge, one mile from the road. Smelling sweet ferns, still shriveled, yet prevailing alongside the path. Molding reddish clay into a sphere, letting it dry on my hands. 20170224_141859Discovering princess pines popping up in the midst of purpled tea berry leaves, surrounded by moss. Feeling the sun’s warmth spread on my back through my t-shirt. Taking deep breaths of fresh air while observing the blue sky, winds pushing puffy clouds along.

Discovering an old spring house during our descent…wandering over through marshy grass…finding all the places where water was appearing, then disappearing again into the earth. Drinking from a pool of bubbling spring water a little further up, letting that 20170224_144728piece of nature, that moment become part of me. Stepping on deteriorated fallen trees, feeling the wood compress under my sneakers. Observing the peeled “eyes” in some trees where a foreign fungus had taken over. Looking up to find dozens of birch polypore’s poking out from a long deceased, branchless tree.  Seeing rocky, dried up trenches where water once flowed and connected to larger streams. Appreciating the bright green, plushy moss that crawled along the forest floor as we carefully made our way back to the car.

20170224_145122Take in the beauty that surrounds you every single day. If you don’t think there is any, take a look. Take a closer look. You will find it. It’s in every step you take…within every knotty tree you see…upon every smooth stone you turn over in your hands. The presence of God is woven into every atom, and particle that makes up nature.

Feel revived and fully alive.

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Creating Healthy Boundaries

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“When confrontation arises, we face it without aggression. When someone opposes us, we do not give in to anger. We view no one as a competitor because we do not seek our own way.

We know our strengths and we know our weaknesses. We use them each for benefit. We are not trying to fix ourselves or others so we move naturally and easily along our path.” –Tao Te Ching (translation of verse 68)*

Sometimes, you just gotta walk away. Take a deep breath, and take some steps back. Are you dealing with someone that you still want in your life but your relationship isn’t quite meshing? Have you been trying to convince them of a point of view, an attitude, a new way of being, a belief? There are times when no matter how many words you say, conversations (or arguments) you have, a person will not change their view. And that’s okay! Instead of getting stuck with spinning tires, lay off the gas, and turn the motor off! Breathe. I’ve been learning and practicing this essential trick for the past few months with my family.

Here’s a secret to letting go: realize it’s not the person that you are walking away from- it’s their behavior. I struggled with that concept for a long time until Dave led me to a personal epiphany. So many times people are quick to judge. Quick to doom a situation. Quick to give up and think that they have to get rid of the person that they are in conflict with. Yep, that’s where I was! In my mind, I was never going to have my family back, because they will never change, and the only solution to heal the pain then was to detach completely. And that felt pretty crappy. I still yearned to talk to my family and remain in close connection.

I had to give up what was in my way since they weren’t willing to give up what’s in their way.

It didn’t take me long to drop all my “nevers”. Why worry about some invisible future that may or may not happen? I held onto my mindset of being in the now. Right now. No other moment. Not in the past or the future. Eckhart Tolle sums it up quite well- “What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. ‘Who am I, then?’ The one who sees that.”

Sometimes it’s crazy hard to let go, and just be in the present moment. Therefore, it’s even more difficult to create those healthy boundaries! Typically, you remain trapped on the hamster wheel, spinning faster, and faster, (coming up with more and more arguments as to why “you’re right”) and eventually, your legs run out of stamina and you’re flung off and splattered against a wall- defeated.

If you’re truly dealing with someone you authentically care about, show them! The greatest gift you could give them is a boundary! With a boundary, you can still communicate. In my case, the boundary was not physically seeing my parents because they refuse to acknowledge Dave. That hurts both of us. Yet, I created the possibility of still being as close, and loving as I can to them. I call my mom often, and we chat for hours! We haven’t exchanged gifts in about 3 years…last year was the first! I could speak with my dad more easily, too. What it boils down to, is that I can just be myself.

After all, when you’re just yourself, your completely honest self who’s not trying to resist, not trying to change, or feed into drama or create it, who could hurt you?

Beauty reigns in simplicity. It all starts with a conversation. Talk to the person you care about that you feel you have to create a boundary with. Stand firm in your belief. If the other person becomes angry, or sad, remember to not take it personally. They have a right to their feelings, too! It’s also healthy to let them express everything they need to. There will come a point in the conversation when those options are exhausted. There will be an energy shift where you feel a mutual understanding being reached. This is a good place to end the conversation peacefully. Express your care, and love for that person, and hopefully they will return it back. After this, all following conversations should be easy.

How can these boundaries be overcome if one person isn’t willing to budge, yet continues to be civil and close, but distantly?

I’ve come to believe, with Dave’s insight, that if the person in opposition truly cares, and feels that they want to reestablish a connection, or mend some aspects of the relationship- they will. They will be the one to come to you to mend some broken fences. (I have yet to experience that, fully.) But! I am happy to say that that has happened with an Aunt of mine. Dave and I are becoming closer with her, and the feeling is amazing!

Pro Tip: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT ever blame the person that you’re upset with. When you blame someone, you make them wrong. In situations like these, no one is right or wrong. Keep that in mind when attempting to work it out.

Hold a space in your mind, in your heart. Your boundaries won’t last forever, but in the meantime, they will be healthy!


 

*Image result for a path and a practice by william martinQuote taken from one of my favorite, most influential books- A Path and a Practice by William Martin.

 

 

 

New Chapters & Transformations: By D. Cooper

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A short intro before my guest blogger’s post: I find it uniquely intriguing how at the deepest core, all of us humans are all the same, yet we can experience and live such amazingly vast and varied lives with a million and one different perceptions. In the basic human experience, we all breathe, eat, live and die. We also witness other humans, with shared blood, pass on. Yet again, no two grieving humans have the same perception or express the same emotions. It fascinates me to learn of other peoples’ lives- in a deeper, more meaningful complex manner. I want to know what makes those I know function. I want to know what and who they live for, how they perceive this human experience, what their beliefs and values are and how they analyze and figure out where to go from their ever present moments. After all, we only have now. This moment. Not the next and not the one before it. We have the extraordinary ability to create the future we are living into. I thirst to know what motivates people to make the choices and decisions that they do; to know how and why they create their own distinctive future.

Everyone I meet teaches me a lesson that I was meant to know. Recently, I worked with a shining, motivated soul named Dwanna Cooper from New Mexico. When I edited her book about how to effectively read job ads, I never thought I’d develop an intricate connection with her…learn about her feelings, desires and values. I certainly never expected that she’d want to share a piece of her human experience with me. Now, I couldn’t be more blessed that she has. D. Cooper has an enormous treasure chest of insight that she is more than willing to share with others in order to help them learn, grow and transform! Here is a personal glimpse into this multi-faceted, talented, successful HR Professional’s life: Oh, by the way, she’s also been an expert ice skating instructor for over 15 years!! Pretty cool, right?


transformación personal

When I look back on my life I can most certainly pick out the beginnings and endings of new chapters in my life. There are certain events in my life that often mark new chapters such as new jobs, moving to new places, new friends, and new loves.  There are also unfortunate events that trigger endings such as death of a loved one, loss of love, or friends, or jobs.  But more often than not, I see the good that came from those changes in my life and those new chapters in my life and always grew as a person.

The funny thing about changes or new chapters though is we don’t always recognize them as they are happening.  While hind sight is clear, seeing those transitions while they are occurring is not always obvious.  And, even if we do recognize them, we’re still not prepared for the outcomes.

We all know that as children we will outlive our parents.  However, I don’t think we are ever ready when that day comes. We see the illness or the event that triggers the beginning of the end and then we watch the decline and we still hold out hope against hope that they will still pull through. And, when they don’t we are still not prepared for that ending. I recently went through that ending with my father.

My father was my rock and my biggest supporter.  He was my health guru, my confidant, my guide, my shoulder to cry on or share my frustrations with, and the first person to share my joys with. Most of all, he was my friend. He was just always there for me; there are very few people in my life that I can say that about.  So I think this is why it’s just so hard to accept that he is no longer here. So, even though I know he is gone I still take my steps forward hoping he is still with me in some way.

So, this is my new chapter.  I’m unsure of what will come next but I have in front of me a new job, a move to a new home and a different future—without him.

One of the things I am finding so far is that my friends are becoming my family.  I have always had good friends but I am relying on them more and caring about them more.  I think this is a good thing.  I’m learning how to love more and to extend that love outward. And, I think they are feeling more needed and I think everyone needs to feel that from those that they care about.

Another thing I am finding is that I’m planning my future better. I’m thinking more carefully about my next steps and taking them with my eyes on the future.  After all, I have only myself to rely on as lonely as that is at times. While I have a partner in my life, I have no one to look out for me unconditionally at least not like a parent.  It’s different now and I am ultimately responsible for myself.

And, then I find that I am thinking about retirement.  While it is still about 15 years away, I am taking more cautious steps and holding on to my money more.  I’m also re-assessing the role of “things” in my life and moving out the unnecessary stuff and keeping only what is dear to me. It’s funny how we collect stuff.  Right before my father died we went through his garage to get rid of what he no longer needed or wanted.  The irony is that when he died, he couldn’t even take what was left with him. Stuff is irrelevant but yet we cling to it.

I am also thinking about alternative incomes that I can build so I have options, even when I have a job–something that I enjoy but will make me money in my spare time. It’s always good to have a backup. I think this is also because I have no parents as my backup.  Not that I asked for money or needed it from my parents but they were always my safety net.  Now, I am my own safety net.

All in all, my heart is still broken from losing my dad but I’m taking the next steps, moving on to the next chapter and most likely on to more transformation.  It sometimes saddens me to think that even at my age I’m not too old to be an orphan.  And, I’m not sure if losing both your parents has any upside but if there is I hope to find it.  I’m sure I’ll become stronger and I know my heart will heal eventually.  I’m open to what the next chapter brings.  After all, nothing is for sure except change and if we pay attention, a new chapter that leads to amazing transformation.
transformation_butterfly


Check out D. Cooper’s book about effectively deciphering job ads in order to find that perfect job you want! Easy to read, follow and put into practice!

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Reading-Job-Ads-Know-ebook/dp/B01CF52HL2?ie=UTF8&keywords=D.%20Cooper&qid=1462494065&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2

I am Darkness, I am Light

Everything is born out of darkness. The planets, in their infinite intrigue, the sun in all its brilliant splendor, the moon graciously illuminated by the sun, the tiniest plants that emerge through a million granules of dirt. And, us. Humans, created inside another human, curled up, eyes shut tight, surrounded by- darkness. Upon birth, we are welcomed by light. The same light that continues to nourish us until we close our eyes and once more welcome darkness before we transition onward.

I’ve come to believe that if we didn’t experience darkness, fall into it, feel it seep into our core, we wouldn’t transform or progress. We would never see our faults…to ourselves, to others. We’d be condemned to a life of complacency and self-righteousness.

On the flip side, remaining in the darkness for too long can be unhealthy, and downright dangerous. Let me share with you some very personal stories of my darkness. The darkness I became trapped in, and the darkness that helped me break through to blinding white light. These are two poignant times of my life where I can think back to and remember the lessons learned.

The blackest darkness came during a period of time I was dealing with my family with another unconventional relationship with an older man. Back then, I was no where near who I am today, so I didn’t know how to communicate in an effective manner, to take responsibility or to get help. Honestly, I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. During that period, I became stuck. After lying to my parents about being at college during a spring break when I really wasn’t, my parents were enraged and upset. So was I. They told me that they didn’t want me to come home for the summer, which was only two months from that spring break. Initially, I thought, okay they’re really mad, but they’ll come around and we’ll have a good, long, hard, rational talk. Well, we did have that. They did say that I could come home (with all kinds of stipulations…that I was willing to accept since I was so desperate to come home). I was thrilled. A little upset over said stipulations, but I didn’t care. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with my parents. It was true turmoil leading up to this point in trying to apologize and negotiate. So, after I began feeling better, my parents and I had another talk, and when we did…they shifted their viewpoint and changed their mind: they no longer wanted me to come home. They were adamant about not letting me. I had no where else that I wanted to go. Places to go- probably. Places I really wanted to go- none, not even to my ex’s. Devastation and pure rage hit. I had one of the biggest breakdowns ever in that apartment on the fourth floor. Screaming, crying, hyperventilating, throwing books…etc. This went on for quite some time, all the while my roommate and her boyfriend at the time were over. Embarrassed, I explained what happened and why I was a wreck. There wasn’t much they could do. Days passed, and I calmed down, but the inner torture and turmoil did not. The situation was so extreme and difficult that my older, distant boyfriend at the time was helpless. At this point in my life I was barely open about my liking older guys. There probably was only a short list of three friends that knew. Of course, I was terrified of judgement back then. Point is- I had trouble reaching out to them. The friends I did couldn’t help me. Depression spiraled, and like any desperate, depressed soul, I contemplated suicide. I wrote a letter (not a letter that I was going to do it), but a letter that I was considering it, because the situation got so bad, to my parents. They were going to be the first to know. My senses came about and I realized after writing out the letter, that I couldn’t possibly go through with it, even though I felt strongly left alone. I tucked the letter away and didn’t talk about it. Soon after I chose to see a counselor, (which didn’t help in the slightest). So, on I remained in my utter darkness. Alone. Afraid. So afraid. Desperate. Sad. Lost. Completely lost.

Long story short- I remained in this until one day, my parents finally changed their mind again and said that I could come home. I did, and that summer was certainly a difficult one for numerous reasons. That darkness was not the good kind. I would like to say I’ve never experienced a darkness  like that after, but sadly there were other episodes.

Now! Here’s a story about how I was able to identify my darkness and get out of it. About a year ago, as I was sitting with Dave at the kitchen table, I was in a facebook messaging argument with my mom. When I was finished, I was so flustered I bawled. Dave immediately was concerned and thought of a solution. That solution: the Landmark Forum. After attending a personal intro, (begrudgingly I might add), I attended what were the most intense three days of my life. Within a windowless room with a peppy woman as a leader, myself and about 100 other dubious souls sat, listened, participated and ultimately transformed. Not everyone did, and in the beginning I didn’t think that I would either. I could go into immense detail about the weekend, but I’ll save that for another post! This long story short was that, during that time I realized that a lot of the darkness that I was encountering was within me! All of it. Every drop. I literally “didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Then, I discovered what was hidden, and felt that I had to take action. That action was calling up my mom on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in May, on a park bench in the middle of Philly. It was tough. I recall sitting there, heart ready to bust through and fly across the park, nervously fidgeting, telling Dave that I couldn’t do it over and over and over, until- beep. Riiiing, riiiing. “Hello?”

A lump the size of Texas arose in my throat and I found myself unable to properly speak. “I can’t understand you!” My mother said as I started crying. Finally, the words came gushing out. I explained to her where I was, what I was doing and how it was helping me. Then I went on to apologize for the past. For all those times I lied and hurt her and my dad. In those brief moments, moments that I would carry for a lifetime, I became fully responsible for the old me. The old me who fought and lied and hurt her parents. I let it all out. There was silence for a time after. My mom didn’t know what to say. She eventually admitted that she was really hurt. But then went on to say that things couldn’t be different from the way they were. I didn’t get angry, but tried to tell her that yes, things could be completely different. Our relationship could be mended. I guess she couldn’t see what she couldn’t see. Time was up; I had to get going to make it back in time. After informing my mom of this, I told her I would most likely call again. I think she had tears at this point and said okay.

I said, “I love you.”

Silence.

“I love you.”

My mom hung up without those three words in return.

I lost it again. Hurriedly collecting my things through tears, we went back. I shared my story to the now less dubious 100 some strangers. It was liberating.

Ever since then, I have been a completely different person. The Landmark seminar I’m currently in is continually helping me see my darkness, to be in it, and to help me know and see that there is a way out. But I can’t know that way out unless I’m in the “sewage”. I get that! If you aren’t willing to see where you are stuck and struggling, either because you don’t want to, or because you’ve just adapted to the sewage, darkness, what have you, then you won’t be able to be open to or have a miracle.

Now, every dark spot I am willing to recognize. I know that I’m in it. I recognize and acknowledge what’s going on and right where I’m at. I know that I can get out. Some hard conversations might ensue…conversations with my parents about their harsh attitude about Dave. But those are the ones I need to have in order to show them the darkness, so that maybe we can get out of it together.

I’m not saying that Landmark is the solution for everyone. But I know that everyone can get out of their darkness and become the brightest beacon of light in their own way. Take the time to recognize where it comes from, how you got there, what you’re feeling/how it’s making you feel. Then analyze the possibilities of the situation- the possibilities where you could break out. Really look at all of them. Don’t just settle for the first one that comes to mind. Surprise yourself. If that means having a difficult conversation with someone, do it. Let go of fear. If that means seeing a counselor or doctor, do it. If that means looking into different self-help programs, books, or workshops, do it! In order to make the change you wish to see and live you have to take the first step. And I know that the first step is the hardest! Once you make it though, you can continue walking forward, positively into the direction of your dreams and desires.

It all starts with you and what’s deep inside!