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How to Define What Matters Most (Part 2 0f 3)

It wasn't until I defined what mattered most to me that I finally got out of the mentalscape of feeling like something was missing in my life. Before fully defining what mattered most, I found myself clinging to outside circumstances hoping they'd bring more happiness. If they did, it was fleeting, and I was back to experiencing lack. The first time I was introduced to the concept of what mattered most to me, I was reading The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. I came to a chapter where he instructs defining our values. "What do you value about what you want in life?" was the reflection question that changed how I experienced meaningful connections, the part of life that seemed lacking. WHAT DEFINING MY VALUES DID FOR ME I no longer felt like I had to earn love. I no longer felt like I had to control situations to feel connected. I learned that my values about the situation were my anchor, my constant, my eye in the storm. Regardless of external circumstances, my values kept me in check with what was meaningful to me. If my sons used a disrespectful tone, my values of being a levelheaded, nurturing mom helped me to 'check-in', not react, not take it personally, and instead, I addressed the tone with a kind voice. I found that when I changed, the world around me changed. My son would not be in the defense, corrected his tone, and by holding the space (another value of mine), the situation was realigned with my values. My values helped me define my boundaries, not only with others but also with myself. They help me decide what's most important to prioritize and make time for it. They helped me focus on the goals that mattered. Plus, along the journey of the goal, my values helped me to connect with the moment, the everyday happenings along the journey of life. I was no longer chasing goals or chasing happiness in the end goal. I focused my mental and emotional energy on a value-focused life versus an accomplish-focused life. A value-focused life gives us meaning in what we do. We have deeper roots within ourselves for cultivating happiness rather than trying to get the world around us to create happiness. It doesn't mean we will feel happiness and peace all the time. What it means is that when we don't feel it, we deeply know what matters most is still within us. We can respond and take action according to our values regardless of how the situation feels. In such, we are creating a life we love by honoring our values. WHAT LIVING OUR VALUES LOOKS LIKE When I first created a list of things I'd like to do more of, I added travel. I chose to travel to Seattle to visit a friend. I had never been on a flight by myself, and even before this, I had rarely ever flown anywhere. I was in unfamiliar territory, feeling nervous and apprehensive. I asked my friend for help to book the flight. We chose a direct flight to help me with my first solo. No matter how much anxiety and second thoughts popped up in my mind and body, I chose to focus on my values: friendship, meaningful connection, travel, exploration, and independence. My values gave me the willingness to try something new that aligned me with who I really wanted to be. During my travels, every time anxiety would well up in my throat, make my heart pound, and create a vulnerability on my skin, I would practice being in the moment. I breathed deeply and had a conversation with my mind and body. I would remind myself I was nervous because this was new, not because it was threatening. I'd tell my body, "This is like an adventure." I tell my mindbody that this feeling could be associated with adventure and exploration, not fear. I'd say, "Remember the anxious excitement before roller coaster rides when you were young? That's what you are feeling. This is what anticipating excitement and adventure feel like." In these conversations with my mindbody, and allowing the feelings to pass through while anchored in my values, I was teaching my mind and my body how to reassociate with the feeling. I was learning again the difference between true fear and anxious anticipation. I was relearning the feeling of doing something new and adventurous. In the moment, I still felt uncomfortable. However, I didn't let the anxiety get carried away. I used my mindfulness skills to recenter to what was actually happening in the present moment. The uncalm that I still experienced in my body was accepted and allowed versus fought and resisted. The "mind stories" that would pop up about the event or anxiety were "caught" and not allowed to create more anxiety. Instead, I redirected my thinking to my values. I'd say, "We want adventure and exploration. We want the fun of travel. We want to visit our friend. Let's see with curiosity the adventure and exploration. Have fun. Wonder." VALUES ENHANCE WILLINGNESS TO DO WHAT WE REALLY WANT With my willingness to stick to my values and not become the thoughts and feelings of resistance, I have opened my life to greater possibilities and joys. I still experience fear and apprehension about new things. My mind still creates the mindstory to change plans or quit. Yet the intensity of the voice of the mindstories has become less urgent. The value-driven action taking has created results I love. I am willing to feel what comes up because it's worth it. The feelings of previously interpreted anxiety when I do something new are now a mix of that anxiety with some wonder. The wonder and curiosity of what is on the other side are greater than the urge to quit. I learned to use my values as a compass to take action in what matters most. My values give me an understanding of my feelings and thoughts. They also help me process my feelings from a place of acceptance and assurance. My values are a guide that shows me where to redirect my thoughts. This process not only helped me to trust and love myself more, but it has also helped me retrain my autopilot thinking and feeling that my past self unintentionally created. This process has led to my physical healing and emotional freedom. My mind awareness anchored in my values helped me define what mattered most. My life is now along a new trajectory for fulfillment and abundance. I am living the life of my dreams, finally climbing over the wall that separated me from them all along. HOW TO DEFINE YOUR VALUES Make a list of 5-8 areas in your life. For me these areas are: health& body, career/vocation, finances, friends & family, significant other, personal growth, home environment, fun & leisure. In each area of your life, brainstorm what you value. In personal growth, I value self-expression, authenticity, self-love, connection with my intuition, spirituality, journaling, and meditation. In health & body, I value vitality, energy, good sleep, & movement. In each area of your life, notice or write down ways that you ALREADY connect with these values. Often we miss what we already do well. Recognizing how we already connect with our values helps us to cultivate meaning and purpose with what we do in the present moment and along the journey of our goals and our life. Now, write down many new ways you can connect with your values in each area. This is the part of my life areas where I detail the activities I can do to connect more deeply with my values. If, for example, in my health I value vitality, an action step I take is to listen to my body. If the body is tired, I don't over run it. Another action step I took during my healing journey was to nap when needed, without guilt. Now, for vitality, I do things that lift my spirit, like going on hikes, yoga, cleaning the car, play board games, or travel. As you write your actions, you will see that actions also interconnect with other areas of you life. Playing board games and travel enhance me vitality (area of health in my life) and also cultivates relationships, a value I have for family, friends, and significant other. In both playing board games and travel, I am also having fun, another area of my life I want to cultivate. Value-focused action creates a ripple effect in our life as a whole. You can get a step-by-step walk-through to defining what matters most to you. See what a difference your everyday life can be when you have a value-focused life. Writing my values in every area of my life helped me to decide what was most important to me. I discovered what I REALLY enjoyed. I had a compass for what I wanted to do in life with meaning and purpose. If it were not for living a value-focused life in travel and friendship, I would have been limited by discomfort and fear of trying anything new and unfamiliar. I would not have taken my trip to Seattle. Little did I know then that I was cultivating the practice of living a life I love. Defining my values has given me a compass, a true north for decision making, feeling calm in the storms of life, and experiencing deeper connections with myself and others. My values help me create a fulfilled life: mind, body, and spirit.

What Matters Most to You and Why it's Important to Know It (Part 1 of 3)

For most of my lifetime, I found it difficult to feel happy. If I made lists of what I love to do and pursued to do them, I would eventually feel let down. The moments slipped away or they were epic fails. I recall saying to therapist after therapist, "I have everything I want. I have no horrible situations. Why am I not happier?" What I didn't know was that underneath the list of what I love was something else I didn't yet have defined: I didn't know what qualities in those moments to connect to. I sought happiness from outside events instead of also connecting with my inner "why" of those events. Connecting with my inner "why," the qualities in the moments that matter to me, I could cultivate a life I love in what matters most to me. THE DAILY LIFE When I read The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, I made a list of what I would love to experience in each area of my life. I put this list by my desk with the intention to start making a conscious effort to create a life I love. I started with my relationship with my sons. At the time, I was a single mom of 3 boys, 1 in middle school and 2 in high school. I chose to drive my sons to and from school so that I may have quality time with them first thing in the mornings and first thing after school. Despite this choice, I found myself feeling stuck as a taxi mom, shuttling them to and from school 1 1/2 hours a day. In addition, there was another 1 1/2 hours of mom-taxiing on days of extra-curricular activities, which was most of the week. For those moms out there, you know the drill. Packing dinner in the car because the drive home from practice would be long and late, not to mention the angst knowing they still had homework to do. The initial hope that driving my kids around would be quality time was now a slog. I wanted a slow down. I wanted a family life that didn't revolve around school and after school schedules. I resented the school system for creating a lifestyle for my sons that made for 12-16 hour weekdays plus events on the weekends. I was burnt out, and I saw that my sons were also burning out. MOMENTS SLIPPING AWAY I decided I was going to at least make the best of what we had. I started with dinnertime. I knew that families who eat at the dinner table tend to have closer bonds and deeper connections. I recalled the dinnertime my parents, sister and I enjoyed. I wanted that with my sons, dinner together at the table with bonding conversations. We had 1-2 weekdays at the dinner table depending if it was an extended weekend the boys were going to their dad's. I chose to set up these 1-2 days per week with the intention of having wonderful dinnertime together. During this time, I was in my 'year of health' with a restricted diet. I cooked all my food and never ate out, making sure everything I ate was exactly what I knew my body could digest without pain. This health commitment made for a lifestyle of home cooking. Despite the hectic family schedule, this health priority in my life made dinner at the dinner table a doable goal. No matter how tired my body was, I would make dinner, set the table, and light a candle as our centerpiece. I called the boys to the dining table for our time together. This was the moment I looked forward to all week. Finally, some downtime to BE together, sharing conversation over a meal. However, regardless of how I set it up, the moment slipped away. The meal was done before I could savor the time together. On good days, the conversation was dry, matter of fact, and lacking heartfelt connection. On hard days, the conversation was a teenage son complaining in a way I internalized as feeling unappreciated or disrespected. Despite all my efforts to set the intention, I felt disconnected & alone at the table. Plus, I still had the kitchen to clean up, all by myself. THE MISSING LINK TO WHAT MATTERED MOST Months went by, and something changed. It wasn't the school dynamic. It wasn't my health (that took a few years). It wasn't the conversations at the dinner table. It was me. It was my inner landscape, how I started to change from the inside out. We hear the saying, "Happiness comes from within." Seriously, what in the world does that mean? How do we even go about achieving happiness from within? I know I didn't learn it from school. I know my parents tried their best, but they didn't have a 'happiness from within formula' to teach me. I was 36 when I found a mentor and a book that opened the door to feeling happier. I walked into the world of mindfulness, meditation, and self help books that addressed living with intention: mind, body, and spirit. As I practiced mental awareness and redirecting my mind to what mattered most, I began to see this was a life skill. We can learn how to cultivate a life we love. By focusing on what we want more of rather than focusing on what we don't want, life changes. By noticing our thoughts rather than being our thoughts, we are freed from unnecessary mental hamster wheels. By allowing our uncomfortable feelings without having to buy into what the mind may make them mean, we can avoid getting emotionally derailed and instead have the ability to remain levelheaded despite the feeling. For me 'happiness from within' became a practical, applicable life skill. I had mental framework to help guide me when life felt like it was missing something. I was able to realign with who I really wanted to be when life was challenging. I could not be 'so emotional' and learn to be the eye of inner peace in the storms of life. I learned ways to recenter, refocus, and recharge. I felt happier and now knew how to connect with it. HOW I DEFINED WHAT MATTERS MOST TO ME What tipped the scale from 'tendencies of depression' to 'happiness from within' was defining my "why" in the things I loved. Recall the dinner table experience? I was trying to feel more connected to my sons by expecting their dinner table interaction to trigger in me the emotions I sought. To expect the external world to fill our cup of happiness is a formula for disappointment. However, to cultivate within what we inherently love about the external experience is how we create happiness from the inside out. I didn't know at the time that I was creating a 'happiness from within' life. I was simply practicing into a life I wanted. I wanted to be together at the dinner table. I saw this experience was a let down week after week. However, I learned that if I connected with the values I wanted rather than the feeling, I would increase my willingness to show up as well as my connection in the external moments. I set out to create a list of my values for family, specifically time with my sons. Here was/is my list: connectedness support love communication effortlessness cooperation tradition joy fun harmony I decided to write about how I connect with these values ALREADY. I also wrote about new ways I can connect with these values. I meditated on how these values FELT in my body. I gained MEANING and PURPOSE in everything I do with and for family. I was deeply connecting with my values for family, the inherent part already within me that no external circumstance needed to fill. As the weeks went on, I began to cook dinner without expectation. I chopped vegetable as if infusing them with love, delighted for their goodness in our meal. I set the table without needing a compliment about table setting, and enjoyed the beauty of it. I lit the candle thinking about the inner light in every one of us. When we ate together, I was no longer disappointed that the time was only 10 minutes-ish. I savored the moment, and in-kind, the moments felt timeless. I Listened. If one of the boys was moody that day, rather than say to myself that "he always ruins the dinner time together," I chose to notice that thought and redirect it to, "I accept my son's mood and will hold the space for him." I was less reactive and more responsive. My response was now aligned with my values. I learned that when I align my thoughts and actions to my values, I am creating a life I love. I also learned that when my feelings get riled up, I can listen to the message they have about a value in misalignment or being threatened. I learned to be a listener versus a reactor. I learned to feel intense feelings while remaining levelheaded. All this because my values anchored me. WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHAT MATTERS MOST TO YOU Your values tell you why you feel the way you feel. Your values tell you what to prioritize. Your values give you a compass for decision making. Your values are not in flux like feelings can be, so you can lean on them when life gets hectic or when you get triggered. Your values help you to catch your mind's thoughts that are unhelpful or unserving. Your values help you reframe thoughts towards what matters most. A value-focused life versus an accomplishment-focused life gives us an anchor for meaning and purpose in the process of life. Rather than waiting someday when, we have within us what matters most already. Get a free guide to defining what matters most to you. This has been a foundation for creating a life I love. May it help you do the same.

What to Do with Your Inner Critic

I have noticed more and more people speak about having an inner critic. They say they have one, but what I have noticed is two things: The awareness of their inner critic stops there. The inner critic is considered part of who they are. The possibility of changing their relationship with their inner critic is not considered or, more commonly, ignored. They want to 'do something' about their inner critic, but they don't know how to even start this process. My journey with my inner critic has been one of 'I don't know what to do with you' to having a relationship with a part of myself that has connected me to my true self. My inner critic is now my friend and she shows me what is most important to me. We share conversations and work together to create a life we love. UPON AWARENESS I recall the first time I became 'aware' of my inner critic. I was 36 years old. I went to see a therapist to help me with my relationship with my eldest son. As I sat in his office, relaying my story (chronic illness, divorce, single motherhood), he said, "Given what you have gone through, you are doing remarkably well. All you need is a little help with how you relate to your thoughts." "What do you mean?" I asked. He proceeded to explain to me that my thoughts could be observed. That I could watch them and notice they are not always true or helpful. He mentioned what I make things mean are not always accurate. He said that with some mindfulness practice, I would notice a big difference in my life. "Mindfulness?" I had heard of the word mindfulness, but the mindfulness practice he spoke of had an entirely different meaning. His definition of mindfulness is "The paying attention in the present moment to what is going on inside your body and outside your body without judgment." He recommended the book The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. THE FRUSTRATION OF AWARENESS For the first time in my life, I was grasping that my thoughts could be watched and observed from an objective point of view. I could look in as an unbiased observer not buying into every thought that crossed my mind. I could notice when my thoughts were not always accurate, not true, making assumptions, creating mind stories, and when they took me out of my present moment. It is one thing to notice our thoughts, including our inner critic. It is another to know what to do after we have this awareness. Once I recognized I could notice my thoughts, I wanted to know what to do with this new awareness. The ignorance was almost better than the awareness. I felt empowered by awareness of my thought, yet I felt disempowered by not even knowing what I could do with it. I also felt angry. Why had no one told me that my thoughts are not always true or helpful? Or that I could pay attention to thoughts rather than always be them? I could have used this as early as elementary school! I remember walking with my friend and saying, "When I figure out how to use thought awareness as a tool for having a better life, I will teach it." RECOGNIZING THE INNER CRITIC Among noticing my thoughts, I recognized within them was an inner critic. The part of my thoughts that are not always true or actuate. She tends to create doubt, fear, and anxiety in my body. She second-guesses my ability, my beauty, my worth, and my credibility. She tells me to avoid risks and challenges. If it's not familiar and predictable, it's bad. Not everyone's inner critic is the same, but for the most part, when someone is unaware of and identifies with their inner critic, it holds them back from their greatest potential. CREATING A RELATIONSHIP WITH MY INNER CRITIC I began a dialogue with my inner critic through journaling. I didn't like her. My awareness of her filled me with resentment for all the turmoil she had caused in my life. However, I began to realize disliking her was disliking a part of myself. I did not want to dislike myself. Instead, I decided to have a dialogue with her. When she showed up, I asked her, "Is what you say true? What do you make the situation mean? What is most important to me right now? How can you get on board with what I want?" With practice, I gained the self-discipline to stop her midrun. Reaccess. And in such, she and I became friends. Triggers became less trigging. I noticed I could also redirect my thoughts, shift them from scattered, anxious thinking to 'what's most important right now; where I am at right now?' With practice, there was less and less intensity in my inner critic's urgency. I became my mind rather than being unconsciously at the whim of an undisciplined mind. I recognized the undisciplined mind scattered my energy, leaving me mentally, emotionally, and physically depleted. Thoughts were no longer unconscious, autopilot habits. Instead, my thoughts created new habits of thinking with intention and purpose rooted in what matters most. WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR INNER CRITIC Notice. Notice when the inner critic shows up. At first, noticing will not happen right away. Noticing may not happen until after the inner critic has made her say. With practice, we start noticing during the inner critic's dialogue. Call it out. Once you notice your inner critic, call it out. This can be right when it starts to take form in your mind, it could be in the middle of your inner critic's habit of being part of your automatic thinking, or it could happen after your inner critic has already made her speech of the day. Regardless of when you notice, call it out. Calling it out begins the rewiring of your brain, a new pattern of thinking, which paves the way to a new relationship with your inner critic. WARNING: Calling out your inner critic will be hard at first. It will especially be hard when you catch your inner critic at the onset or in the middle of inner dialogue. There will be a very deep desire to identify with her and not stop your inner critic from having her say. Have a conversation. Because the habit of the inner critic is inner thought, allow yourself to remain in inner thought by having a conversation with your inner critic. The difference in this form of inner thought is that you are now aware of your thoughts rather than letting them take shape without you knowing it. In this conversation with the inner critic, ask her, "Is this true? Is it kind? What are you making things mean that may not be accurate?" In this conversation, your inner critic and yourself will notice patterns that are not helpful. Be gentle, kind, and compassionate. Rather than dislike your inner critic, be an example of how your inner critic is to treat you. Show her what it is to be nonjudgmental by being nonjudgmental. Show her gentleness by being gentle. Show her kindness by being kind. Show her compassion by being compassionate. Your inner critic, after all, was created unintentionally. Now, with intention, you are teaching her how to be nonjudgmental, gentle, kind, and compassionate. With practice, you will notice your inner critic is less reactive. And when she is reactive, with practice, your inner critic will notice this and evaluate rather than assume. Journal. By journaling with your inner critic, you slow down the thought process. You also get an opportunity to more fully connect with your awareness of your inner critic and your true self. Journaling is thought to connect you with heart-center thinking vs logic-center thinking. I believe journaling opens up our connection with our heart-mind, fostering alignment with our thoughts, intentions, and action. Journaling, as a practice, can heal us, mind, body, and spirit. Our thoughts are part of who we are and create our reality. In awareness of our thoughts from an objective point of view, we pave a new path for our life journey. We can notice our thoughts without having to be them. We learn to be rooted in what matters most. We are no longer a victim of thoughts that are unhelpful, outside circumstances, or other peoples' opinions. We create a relationship with our True Self and become empowered to create a life we love.

My Health Journey, What I Learned, and My Greatest Insight to Share with You

I had spent over 12 years seeking healing through modern medicine. One year my body was experiencing a headache that would not go away. It ranged from a pain scale of 2-9, and no over the counter medication or prescription was helping. I recall time standing still for a few days as I waited for the results of an MRI. As with other health issues, the results came back as normal. Finally, after over 30 days of headache, while having a girls' board game night, a friend recommended acupuncture. Without knowing at the time, I began a health journey committing to various modalities of healing until I found a solution for optimal health. Although the acupuncture helped relieve the migraines, I found myself still experiencing extreme fatigue. I then tried functional medicine. I chose functional medicine because I was drawn to its philosophy of discovering the root cause of illness versus treating symptoms with medication. What I did not know during this 2-year commitment, was the people I would meet that would introduce me to ways they healed. THE PEOPLE I MET AND THEIR VARIOUS HEALING STORIES I met a woman whose stomach was so dysfunctional, she was going to have stomach replacement surgery (I didn't even know that was a thing). Before the surgery was to occur, she started taking aloe vera pills, and it repaired her stomach so significantly that the last test before surgery, the doctors decided to postpone the surgery. She continued taking the aloe vera pills and they healed her! I tried the same pills, but my body did not respond well to them. I didn't even finish the first bottle. I then met a woman who healed from a supplement her essential oils company created.
It had Melissa and microgreens that cured her of chronic fatigue, heavy head, IBS, and an overall lack of motivation. I can not recall how I met her, but I did go to her home to enroll in essential oils and, especially, to order the supplement. Again, my body did not respond well to the supplement. Another closed door. In the meantime, I was still seeing my functional medicine doctor. I was on a diet that consisted of fruits, vegetables (with the exception of those that had lectins, such as peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant), chicken, fish (not shellfish), and coconut milk. No dairy. No red meat. No caffeine. No processed foods. No nuts. No seeds. No soy. No grains. No added sugar. I was committed. Among the protocol with the functional medicine doctor was to see a massage therapist once a week. My muscles, despite even seeing her over a year, were like rocks on my shoulders and ropes along my spine. She was an amazing masseuse, but my body, every week, returned with the same tension. One day, while I was in the waiting room for a massage, at a rescheduled time, I met a woman who's daughter was getting a massage. This woman said that remote energy medicine healed her daughter from such extreme IBS that she was skin on bones. She showed me pictures. She said, "What have you got to lose, it may help you too." MY BELIEFS CHALLENGED Now before you close this blog post because I've mentioned energy medicine (and it's not your thing) and (if it's your thing) before you decide energy medicine is your answer, there is another part of this story that was the true healing I received. One that makes the nonenergy healing believers see truth and the energy healing believers receive their own power back. You see, the energy worker I saw, did work on me, over the phone for 7-20 minutes at a time once a week. Her modality of healing showed evidence of working within 3 short weeks. I knew, from my restricted diet, that if I ate honey, I'd be doubled over in pain. When she treated me for sugars, including honey, that week I could eat honey with no pain. This became a 2 1/2 year journey of treating one thing at a time, each treatment having "detox symptoms," yet opening my world to more foods to eat, increased vitality, and freedom. However, all along I felt something was missing. I realize I couldn't ever really be healed because I was dependant on the energy worker, desperate for her work to help me. Every week presented yet something else to treat. I also wanted to know, "How did this work?" It had me question my beliefs on how to heal, what we are capable of in healing, what personal energy is, and shifted my perspective of reality. In addition, at this time, I was in life coaching school. I deeply knew that I could not help others as a life coach if I depended on another for my own wellbeing. HERE ENTER THE CRUX OF MY HEALING I began to learn that healing was not only about treating my physical body, but also about addressing my mental, emotional, and spiritual body. Though at the time I didn't know it, I was already learning this shortly after hiring the energy worker. Over time, I came to understand that physical illness is tied to unhealed emotional pain or misdirected mental energy. It is tied to a disconnection from the spiritual self, the knowing of our True Self. My ventures were breaking down belief systems I had about faith, medicine, and reality. I journaled about it and spoke to no one for quite some time, for fear of being called crazy. Yet, innately I knew I needed to talk about it. I then allowed myself to share with my (then fiancee) husband, my parents, some friends. I took classes to become a Reiki master. I did inner child work, sound healing, meditated daily, and joined meetups who spoke on the topic. I tried different modalities of healing like Donna Eden Energies, Biomagnetic therapy, EFT & Hypnosis (of which I learned I was doing self-hypnosis all along). What I learned from the people I met, both practitioners and clients of these practitioners, is this: All the western medicine or energy medicine will not help us unless they also address 1 crucial thing, our mindscape. If we do not change how we think and believe, we will continue to think, feel, and act as we already do, recreating the reality we already experience. Even if a person were to heal from one ailment, if the mindscape had not changed, another part of life will fill that void. This is what happens to lottery ticket winners who either lose their wealth shortly thereafter or seem to still have unhappiness despite the win. This is what happens when we think getting married will make us secure and happy, just to find equal or increased amounts of insecurity and loneliness after marriage. This is what happens when a couple thinks having a baby will solve their problems, yet it seemed to only compound them. This is what lead me to my physical healing from IBS and chronic fatigue. This is what lead to my way of being as an evolving person who knows she's always in a state of growth, even when growth appears to be nonmoving while integrating and reflecting. This is what lead to me incorporating mind, body, and soul in my personal and professional life. My journey started as a healing journey, little did I know it was the journey to discovering my True Self and connecting to my True Nature. I began to identify as a spirit with a human experience and a human with a spiritual experience. The practice of mindfulness led to a new way of being, where my perspective of the world was one of Higher Self looking in, a calmed, objective inner peace. I practiced being more and more nonjudgemental of self and others. And with time, nonjudgement has become more of a feeling than a concept. WHEN I FINALLY HEALED: MY GREATEST INSIGHT I recall the first time I didn't need a nap and realized it at 4 pm. I stood in front of our home office talking to my husband. I remember like yesterday the instant flash of insight and saying, "Huney, I didn't need a nap today. I didn't even THINK today that I may need a nap! And I feel fine right now! At 4pm!" As I celebrated I also had a feeling of fear rush up in my body with a new thought, "When will I experience this again?" It took a while, but gradually, I found the need to nap less and even stopped planning for them. One day I was having a conversation with my biomagnetic therapist. I was sharing the need to nap less and asked, "When will I be fully healthy?" Just then, I had another flash of insight that washed over my entire body. I realized, "Even healthy people nap. As a matter of fact, even well-known people were known for napping." That moment, as if Truth resonating in every cell in my body, I knew I was fully healed. My body was no longer on the journey of health, and my soul was now aware of her journey of self-discovery in life.

How Journaling Led to my Healing: Mind, Body & Spirit

I don't know exactly how I got started writing in my journal every morning, but I do recall the writing began with a desperate need to share my pain. It was the first time my pain was so deep, I did not want to share it with people I trusted. The pain was raw, irrational, and unkind. WHEN THE NEED TO WRITE BEGAN I was going through a second divorce with the same man. It was 2013, and my health was also at its worst. During that divorce, I was so ill, I lost 22lbs in 3 months. Among the illness was a fear of eating because eating would cause excruciating pain. The chronic fatigue at that time was also extreme, the body demanded 3hr naps daily and still feeling tired throughout the day. I was seeing several doctors for these ailments but had no answers. THE OPENING OF PANDORA'S BOX So, it was in this physical and emotional pain that I began writing. I wrote to God. I wrote asking Him for help. I wrote of the heartache, the anger, the resentment. I wrote of the "why me?" I wrote of the anguish and fear. I wrote, "Dear Lord God, please help me." Many of the early writings were desperate pleas for help. What I didn't know at the time, was that the journaling opened up a portal for healing. The writing revealed what I ignored, stuffed, denied, or buffered. It made me take responsibility for my part in the divorce. It made me repent, but not to God. To MYSELF. It began with anger toward myself: "Why did I let this happen?" "Why did I ignore the red flags? I saw them right in front of me!" "Why was I such a pushover?" "Why was I not enough for my husband?" "How could I be so easily disregarded, ignored? "Why didn't anybody tell me? REALLY tell me." I wrote out the hate I had for myself, for my inaction, for my avoidance. I wrote out the disgust I had in myself for not having the bravery to address the red flags. I wrote out my self-loathing for 'letting this happen to me.' I wrote out how it was unfair. I wrote out the pain of feeling easily replaced, 'left in the gutter.' I wrote and wrote and wrote. THE TRUTH IS REVEALED As I let go of all the mind stories, they were a verbal vomit, a release of something in my body that my body needed to expel in order to heal. I saw in my writing, my letters to God, a new relationship developing with myself, my story, and God Himself. I began to see the lies and mistruths I told myself to hate my ex so that I didn't have to face my own responsibilities that added to the dynamic. I began to notice my inner critic, a voice in my mind that does not always speak truth. I began to learn to have a dialogue with my inner critic, getting her on board with what is, not what she made things mean. I began to see how all along my inner critic was trying to protect me but often made things worse. Instead of disliking her, I learned to nurture her. I learned to discern WITH her what was true and what wasn't. I honored what she made things mean ("I'm not worthy."), and dialogued with her the truth ("You are lovable and worthy."). I created affirmations in my writing, new truths for my inner critic, for the wounded depths of self to heal and love herself. SELF-FORGIVENESS & SELF-LOVE IS CULTIVATED The writing led me on a journey of self-forgiveness and self-love. I learned that forgiveness was not saying what someone else (or I) did was okay. Forgiveness meant I no longer held onto the pain in my mind stories, releasing myself from reliving the pain. I realized that without the forgiveness, I let hurts of others and my past faults fester inside me, inflicting me with the incident over and over, despite the fact that it doesn't exist anymore. I realized the power of my imagination and the power of noticing and directing my thoughts. SPIRITUAL WELLBEING The writing also transformed my relationship with God and my belief system of Him. I now also regard Him as Source and Universe. I have come to believe He is in all things, visible and invisible. I have come to believe I am a Spirit having a human experience and a human having a spiritual experience. I now also write to my Spirit as well as angels, saints, and guides I believe God has gifted us to help us on our life journey. I believe this relationship with my Higher Self and the spiritual world makes for a more loving, belonging, and supported life. Most of all, my spiritual growth in writing a journal has taught me love. To love all. To be love. To love myself, even at the times I may not be lovable. To not judge others or myself. To let people be who they are without having to categorize, label, or judge them. This process of spiritual growth has planted a seed in my heart to help others find their own version of love, joy, fulfillment, and inner peace. WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE The journaling is a date with myself first thing in the morning with my cup of coffee. My coffee is now an anchor for my morning writings. She symbolizes a friendship that is always there for me when I need her and never lets me down. She is reliable and supports me in all my moods. She has no judgment of me or what I write in the journal. She is a metaphor for the friend I am to myself. For the most part, there are no journal prompts, though I have used them and still do to help me get clear about the things that I have not contemplated or want to consider. Most days, I write whatever comes to mind. Some days are mundane, useless words. Other days profound insights. Some days are complaining, judging, and wallowing in self-pity. Whatever the mind needs to release, it is released. I become aware of 'what exactly is going on between these two ears.' With this writing practice, my thoughts have become disciplined rather than scattered, chaotic, and creating fewer whirlpools of lack or worry. When my mind does go into the whirlpools of lack and worry, I catch it in the act, notice they are just thoughts, detach from them, and decide to focus my mind on what is most important. I know that this practice is showing my mind how to create new mindstories that support me. THE CONSEQUENCE I now notice my thoughts on a daily basis. They are less jumbled and scattered. They are watched and observed rather than taken for truth. I don't "buy into" every thought that I have or that I hear from the outer world. I am less triggered by thoughts or events. I have mental well-being I innately knew existed but didn't even know I wanted. WHAT IS THE COST OF MORNING WRITING Time with yourself Time with your thoughts Time to release pent up pains Time to heal Time to listen Time deciding what is actually important Time connecting with what's important and making that a daily priority A creating of meaningful connections with yourself and others An increased happiness baseline An increased patience A mental landscape of less judgment and more calm regardless of what people say or do A life transformed into one worth living A life of opening your eyes in the morning and feeling in your mind, heart, and body love for life A reliable constant within yourself that nothing in the outer world could take away. A LIFE WE LOVE IS A CHOICE Creating a life we love is a choice. We can either fall victim of the world dictating who and what we are or we can choose a new perspective where we have the power to create a life we love. For me, journaling was the release of the emotional pains that lead to a healthy mind, body, and spirit. It was the outlet I needed to get clear on what was important to me. It taught me that happiness actually lies within me, not found outside of me. It showed me that the difference between a life I struggled in versus a life I love was all in how I decided to use my imagination, my thoughts. Writing helped me to get in touch with my mind and my soul, no longer at the whim of an undisciplined mind. Writing connected me to the part of me I can eternally trust.

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©2020 by Mari Shofner's Transformational Life Coaching, LLC