Sacred

I’ve come to an extremely important and potentially life-altering realization. The seeds of this knowledge have been with me since birth, but have remained hidden from sight, and yet somehow nurtured, even in their dormancy, by every experience I’ve ever had. Every hardship and every triumph along the way has fertilized the soil of my life and been integrated into my growth, leading me to this place.

And when I look back in reflection on the myriad of experiences that have brought me to where I stand now, I can easily see the evidence of this one indisputable fact: my life is sacred.

Please, don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say. With this statement I do not assert myself to be any more important or special than you or the next person. Rather, I am hereby staking my claim to being a physical manifestion of a Divine spark of light. I might add for the record this is something every human being can say of themselves, because it is the absolute truth for all of us. All you need to do is choose to see it, acknowledge it, and believe it to be true.

I was born unto the Creator of all things (call it God/Source, or whatever other moniker suits your fancy), and by virtue of this, I am an extension of the Divine. The ever-present universal energies of love and light from which I was created are always with me, and part of me, because it is my essential nature and the ultimate truth of who I am.

“What if you were to simply take in the entire world in the same spirit as if you had just walked into a holy place?
Because we are in a holy place.

The divinity that you see outside you is also within you.
Know this.
Don’t doubt it or question it—just for today.”

“I am everything you experience.
Your life is my gift to you.
And you—you are my most beloved creation.”

Panache Desai, Discovering Your Soul Signature

This realization represents a considerable shift in my thinking. It has left me feeling shook, with literally no option other than to accept complete responsibility for my life and everything in it. For better or for worse, my life is a masterpiece of my very own design.

Speaking from recent experience, the level of love and attention I focus on myself has a direct impact on how I choose to spend my time and energy. Subsequently, the energy that ripples out from the decisions I make in every moment is what creates my reality. Placing myself last on my own priority list has shown me, time and time again and in no uncertain terms, how to feel like junk and live in diametric opposition to a purposeful and intention-driven life.

However, the idea of regarding my life as sacred single-handedly places such emphatic emphasis on my raison d’être that it brings every other detail into focus and becomes a yardstick by which I’ve started to measure my thoughts, words, and actions. Knowing that when I begin to veer off track or lose my footing, which will no doubt happen because I am human, SACRED is the compass that will bring me back to my true north.

Sacred is, at once, holding myself to a higher standard while allowing myself grace to make all the mistakes. It’s a lofty and ambitious—even holy—word to focus on, but it’s appearance on my radar screen of life is a beautiful, divinely-timed, and completely necessary occurence. I may even dare call it a miracle.

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The rub of choosing to see the Divine in my human self is the obvious and interesting point of contrast, and the challenge of navigating the complexities and potential pitfalls of this duality are not lost on me. If I’m being completely honest, which I know no other way to be (honesty is an important core value), the deep sense of devotion, dedication, reverence, and veneration to myself above all, as the word sacred connotes, is a foreign concept to me for a number of different reasons.

I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious or church-going family, and aside from a short-lived stint of curiosity around the traditional Christian God, religion, and the bible when I was seven, I’ve never really worshipped any particular God or deity. The idea of worshipping at the altar of myself on the daily, quite frankly, seems a little bit cray-cray. Yet, by the very same token, it’s likely the exact thing I need at the moment. And on the brink of one year—and a decade, even—ending, and another year and decade about to begin, I’m willing to give sacred a try.

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
Alexander Pope

Yes, I’ve realized the error of my past ways (I am still human, after all), and as I continue along my path of learning and evolution, I’ve chosen to forgive myself for my previous misgivings. Standing in the present and looking toward the future, I’ve wiped the slate clean, and I couldn’t be more clear about my desire to invite sacred to a very prominent seat at my table. And as I do the work of crafting my intentions, goals, plans, dreams, and vision for the coming year, I will create sacred rituals and allow myself the luxury of reveling in the feeling of holding myself, sacred.

I am in the process of deciding where to direct my energy and how to spend my time in 2020, getting clear about what feels good and right to my soul. Although I’ve completed similar processes a number of times before, this time around is a bit different as I am guided by the knowledge that I am sacred. From this deep sense of reverence, I am inspired to move forward with both confidence and purpose into the year ahead.

And when I begin to slip back into doubt about who I am and why I am here, as I know I inevitably will, I will say a little prayer and gently remind myself:
I am luminous. I am both a wave in the infinite ocean, and the ocean, itself. I have access to infinite creativity, boundless potential, and the field of infinite consciousness. I am grateful to have my own unique set of gifts and talents that I am meant to share with the world. All of this and so much more is true because I am a spark of the Divine.

The life I have been given is sacred.

Yes, friends, the time has come to honour myself and my life as sacred.

SACRED.

And just in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, this is the word I have chosen for 2020—the year when, no thanks to corrective prescription eyewear, my vision is crystal clear and everything is coming completely into focus.

If you’ve made it all the way through this post, bless you! I know it’s been a long one! Please accept my sincere wish for you to make 2020 your brightest and most beautiful year yet.

And if you’re interested in choosing a word for yourself to guide you in the coming year, or visioning/planning your goals and intentions, or creating a vision board (I’m doing all of these, by the way, because…why not?), I’ve compiled the following list of questions to guide you through the process. By no means is this an exhaustive list. Rather, it is a process of inquiry compiled from a number of sources to be used as a starting point in planning and creating a life of intention and meaning.

Before jumping into the questions on this list, I recommend you first get comfortable and still, whether seated or lying down, and become very quiet. Do a guided meditation or simply focus on your breath for about five minutes, or however long you’re able to focus. Then begin the process of listening deeply to what bubbles up and what your heart is telling you. Grab a journal and a pen and start writing down whatever comes up for you, without editing or censoring yourself. Above all, enjoy the glorious ride, knowing that you can create a life that looks and feels exactly how you want.

Questions for Reflection:
Looking back at the previous year, what worked for you and what didn’t? What were your some of your wins and your losses? What did you learn from these situations?
How did you use the past year to grow (or stay stuck)?
Is there a goal that you didn’t achieve that you still would like to work toward?
What are you grateful for from this past year (or even the past five years)?
What do you want to keep from the previous year, and what do you want to throw away? (consider habits/routines, relationships, material possessions, and more)

Present Day Assessment:
Are there any commitments that no longer feel good and right to you?
What are your core values?
What are your strengths?
What do other people tell you you’re good at? What lights you up and what do you love to do?
In a very general sense, what does feel good and right to you? List it all…
Who are your role models and why? What traits do these individuals possess that you aspire to?

Looking Ahead to the Future:
In which areas of your life would you like to learn and grow in the coming year?
Which areas of your life require more attention and focus?
If you won the lottery tomorrow, and no longer had to work to earn an income, how would you spend your time?
How do you want to make the world a better place?
What does your ideal day look like, from start to finish?
Do you have a bucket list? Create a list of 25 things you’d like to do before you die.
Going into the year ahead, how do you want to feel?
How can you look to align your life with your strengths, core values, likes/dislikes, and how you want to feel?
What do you want your life to look like in three years time? Five years? Ten?
What are three things that are holding you back from accomplishing your wildest dreams? Choose one of these obstacles/impediments and write an action plan to overcome it.

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Chapter 43: Love is a Unique Achievement

Hello, loves. It’s me, My Phare Lady. Remember me?

It’s been quite some time since I’ve felt like writing, and what’s more, since I’ve felt like I had anything of interest or value to share. Being locked into a pretty solid funk since September of 2018 hasn’t helped, either.

Let’s just say these past 12 months have felt particularly draining and heavy. The time has dragged so slowly it felt like I was attempting to run through molasses. Yet—strangely, somehow—days, weeks, and months passed in the blink of an eye. The monotony of my daily responsibilities squeezed me like a vice, the pressure leaving me with an absence of desire to do anything more than the bare minimum.

After facing an initial series of strikes and blows about this time last year, I chose to get still and quiet. I was trying to stay present, to really feel into the sensations of the beliefs and emotions that were locked inside the cells of my body and keeping me jailed in a prison of my own making. But as the feelings of shame and discomfort continued to swell until I was almost certain they would swallow me whole, I slipped back into some familiar patterns.

I neglected my own needs and set aside most of the self-care practices that had generally kept me functional and (reasonably) sane. I numbed out the uncomfortable feelings and immersed myself in frivolous distractions. And through it all I used the excuse of being too “busy” to do the things I claimed were most important to my heart—to my happiness and wellbeing.

Maybe that’s why I am so incredibly grateful for the return of September—because it’s always felt like my ‘new year’. Historically speaking, it has been a time of re(birth), renewal, and new beginnings. It’s a time to wipe the slate clean and start anew. Not to mention, the time has come to close this last chapter of my life so I can begin the next—one in which I am the author of my own story.

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My kids’ schools are located just a few blocks away from each other in a mature neighbourhood in the town where we live. One of the best things about this area, in my opinion, is that it features the grandest trees (60-80 feet tall, on average) with the most majestic foliage. The other day at school pick up time, I nearly stopped in the middle of the road as I was driving when I noticed how the leaves had suddenly turned to the most brilliant shades of rust, gold, and even deep purple. The result was a glorious canopy of fall colour that shimmered gently overhead in the autumn breeze. Not only was it a splendid sight to behold, but also it reminded me (again) how there is so much beauty all around, if only we choose to see it and be open to truly receive.

As if right on cue with the changing of the leaves and the season, my outlook has shifted quite dramatically. My energy is increasing, and the promise of hope and possibility are returning to me once again. I am moving my body more, and remembering each day how glorious it feels to be outside—to take in nature’s splendor with all my senses, and to appreciate every aspect of my life as I welcome each new breath of fresh air into my lungs. Dare I say it’s almost as if I’ve been wandering around in the dark, wondering if I would ever see the sun again, when I finally feel a little warmth at my back and a glimmer of light on my cheek.

Everything seems just a little bit ‘brighter’ at the moment. My disposition, just a bit sunnier. Although fall’s official arrival is just around the corner, I have some extra spring in my step these days. While I’m not able to pinpoint why, exactly, I don’t even think the “why” matters much. All I know is that I am excited to welcome with open arms this change in my life’s season.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’ve spent a lot of time—far too much, really—worrying about how I am perceived by others, preoccupied with being accepted, and concerned about whether people like me. My previous operating system was entirely based on the fear and limiting belief of not being enough, or perhaps even too much, for others. In this new season of my life; however, I am turning over a new leaf by renewing my focus on gratitude, bravery, and above all, self-love. This shift has me feeling both refreshed and liberated.

So instead of recalling all the ways I’ve failed in the past (and the ways in which I believe others have failed me), and rather than analyzing and attempting to control the inevitably uncontrollable future, I’m consciously and courageously choosing to return to presence and the practice of gratitude. Because it’s nearly impossible to separate one from the other, this process also has me coming back to the importance of embracing love over fear.

Over time and through the lens of my life’s experiences, I’ve really come to understand how fear is an extreme form of rejection, whereas love, on the other hand, is the ultimate form of acceptance. When I think of these qualities in those terms, it shifts my way of thinking to a whole new perspective with a different meaning.

Although it’s been difficult in many ways, this past year has taught me so much. Most important of all, it has shown me that, in order to achieve the inner peace and harmony I want, everything I do—every action and reaction—must originate from gentle, loving acceptance. This perspective also reminds me to view my life with loving kindness, to speak and act from love, to remain open to receiving the energy of love, and, most importantly, to love myself first so that I may be able to extend my love to others.

LOVE

It’s been an interesting year…

I haven’t been that visible in this online space, but rest assured I’m still here.

I am not making any excuses about where I’ve been, and I will not be making grand claims about what I plan to do in the future. (The beauty of being present is in taking one baby step at a time.)

This is just me sharing a glimpse of how I am evolving, while at the same time staying grounded in who I am; remembering what I stand for and why I am here.

This is me loving and accepting who I am in this moment, while not giving up on the person I want to become.

There is no doubt about it—this thing called life can be challenging at times. It’s both undeniable and totally ok. No one ever said it would be easy. And in case anyone out there needs a reminder, it’s alright to not be ok all of the time. (I keep seeing this message all over social media, but it bears repeating here, nonetheless.) You can surely count on the fact that life will knock you down, and also that you’ll need to pick yourself up off the floor, wipe off the dust and dirt, and be willing to try again the next day.

And I suppose that’s really what this post represents—me picking myself up off the floor for about the 8,376th time in my life. And after all I’ve seen, done, and been through in the past 43 years, all I really know to be true for sure is that:

  • Living in the energy of love feels infinitely better than constantly being motivated by fear.
  • Keeping your heart open to love through the difficult times ain’t easy, but it is worth it.
  • Loving and accepting myself exactly as I am, flaws and all, is the secret sauce to feeling whole.
    –AND–
  • A willingness to continue to return to love through all of life’s triumphs and hardships, is, indeed, a unique achievement.

“If I asked you to name all the things you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?”

It’s taken me the better part of 43 years to figure it out, but now that I have, I’m ready for my next chapter.

 

 

Bad Blogger (Made for More)

Hi, I’m Andrea, also known as MyPhareLady. I’m going to make a bold and shocking statement: I might just be the world’s worst blogger, by social media industry standards, anyway.

The following is a list of eight solid reasons to support this claim:

  1. Historically speaking, I haven’t done the best job of posting regularly and consistently.
  2. I don’t have a large following.
  3. Sometimes when I put my stuff out into the world via a blog post, I have absolutely no idea if anyone ever reads, or moreover can relate to what I’ve written.
  4. I don’t receive many comments on my posts.
  5. My blog isn’t driven by a specific product or service. (I’m not trying to sell anything to anyone.)
  6. I don’t put much energy into curating beautifully staged photos with perfect lighting to complement my posts.
  7. I make absolutely no money running my blog. I don’t have companies approaching me about sponsorships and endorsement deals, nor do I accept paid advertising on my site (not that anyone has ever asked me about any of these things…lol).
  8. I don’t really advertise or promote my blog, apart from sharing with family, friends, and on my personal social media feeds.

There. I said it. These are my blogging “failures.” The many reasons I suck at blogging. But I can also say that none of these things had anything to do with me wanting to start a blog in the first place.

So, the next (and most obvious) question is, if you’re not doing it to make money, why bother having a blog, right?

Well, the reason I started this blog was simple: because it originated with a tiny whisper from my heart. And although this small voice from within was barely audible, I was incapable of ignoring it. Well, I suppose I did try for a while, but it was persistent and just kept getting louder and louder, so I eventually caved to its demands.

I couldn’t make much sense of it at the time, but I knew I must honour the deep longing to share my writing with an audience, even through my uncertainty and fear. There was a reason for listening to the whispers of my heart that I couldn’t comprehend then, nor am I even sure I understand now—to not only take that leap of faith into the world of creative self-expression, but also to make myself vulnerable to a vast Interweb of strangers at the same time.

courage

Switching gears—and please bear with me as I promise to bring these thoughts full circle by the end of this post—I recently discovered an author, momprepreneur, and all-around magical unicorn of a woman by the name of Ms. Rachel Hollis. Seriously, this woman was not even on my radar two months ago, but a friend invited me to go see the final screening of her documentary, Made for More, in our city in August. I jumped at the chance (because, who doesn’t want a night out with a girlfriend?), and I was pleasantly surprised to learn how authentic, raw, and vulnerable she is, not to mention her determination to inspire and uplift other women is unstoppable. Needless to say I found the documentary (and Rachel) to be refreshing and inspirational in every possible way.

I’ve since started following all of her social media, devoured her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, and, in an effort to end 2018 with strength, intention, clarity, and grace, have been participating in her #last90days challenge. In the relatively short time I’ve known of Rachel Hollis, I’ve received so much inspiration from her work and the simple truths she has made it her mission to share. Among these are the importance of: being completely and unapologetically yourself; maintaining a growth mindset; going all in, as in being 100% invested in your goals (still working on this one); paying no mind to other people’s opinions; and, last but certainly not least, that all women deserve to belong and be supported by community.

Discovering Rachel Hollis has reminded me about what’s really important to me, what’s important in life, and also why I started this blog in the first place. For me, it was never about making money and having a billion subscribers. Rather, it was always supposed to be an online space dedicated to authenticity, growth, community, and connection.

Thanks in large part to Rachel’s wisdom and teachings, I’m able to see it all so much more clearly now: my passion, and ultimately my goal for this blog, is to bring women together in the spirit of community to create dialogue around topics that matter. This is a vehicle for sharing my thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and using them as a catalyst or starting point for conversations with other women. It’s a way for me to use my voice for good, to help others on a parallel or intersecting path—to build a sisterhood of like-minded souls who, just like me, are seeking a community in which love, support, and kindness reign supreme.

Even though I know all too well the metrics that define a successful blogger, and even though I admittedly fall way short of these metrics on all accounts, I cannot shake the feeling that I must continue to forge ahead. I must keep writing. I must keep sharing the pieces of myself and my life experiences I feel called to share. I must do so, not because I’m seeking fame or notoriety, but because this blog is here for a reason, and dare I say I think it’s supposed to serve a far greater purpose than anything that can be defined solely by monetization or subscriber statistics.

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And perhaps most important of all, this blog has taught me, time and time again, that when my heart speaks, what it’s telling me is not up for negotiation. I MUST listen. And if listening to my heart and following my dreams in spite of the evidence that’s stacked against me means I’m the worst blogger out there, I suppose I’m alright with that.

And I’m pretty sure that it’s all because I’m learning (and maybe even starting to believe) that I am made for more.

With all my love,
MyPhareLady
xo

WAIT! Don’t go yet…just one more really IMPORTANT thing:
I want to know what big dreams and goals are you working on, and more importantly, what are you doing to get through the challenges and push past the setbacks you encounter along the way? Are you working toward something that feels so completely out of reach, or even impossible, that you often think about giving up, but choose to keep going anyway?
I’d really love to hear from you. Let’s get this conversation started…drop me a line in the comments below!

Moving Toward a Healthier Me

I’m a little riled up and I need to get something off my chest…

I’ve spent a lot of time focused on self-improvement and personal growth over the past five years. I’ve made no secrets about this. My own physical fitness has been a significant part of this journey, and I’ve tried a number of different approaches.

I’ve been quite open about my love affair with movement. I’ve done outdoor bootcamps, running, group fitness classes, yoga, and a whole bunch of different home workout programs.

And I’ve even hinted at how I increased my physical activity while severely restricting calories in an attempt to lose weight, inches, pant sizes, and the shame I felt around certain parts of my body being bigger than they “should be.”

But what I’ve never really talked about openly before is how I’ve done a lot of different things with the goal of making my body into something it’s not, and may never be. How I’ve tried with all my might to take up less physical space in the world, with all of my efforts stemming from a deep-seated desire to correct my perceived flaws and imperfections.

Despite successfully losing nearly 20 pounds and close to as many inches in one particularly rigorous cycle of diet and exercise a few years back, buying into the vanity side of the health and fitness industry has left me hollow and jaded. I think I may have actually lost a piece of my soul as some of my fat melted away, but then it just came back again, with a vengeance (the fat that is, not my soul). The worst part is, at the end of it all I still feel as though I don’t measure up to society’s expectations, or my own.

I’ve been on this tireless quest to reshape my body into something that more closely resembles the ideal woman, with toned arms, flat stomach, firm legs, and of course, a thigh gap. But after trying and trying and trying, reaching and striving, grasping and clawing my way through the thick of my own dissatisfaction with myself, I just have to say I’m tired. Like, exhausted.

At the risk of provoking some and offending others, I’m just gonna go ahead and say what’s on my mind: dieting and exercising for weight loss and vanity alone is shallow and short sighted. That’s the simple truth. And I’m pretty sure those who go at it from this angle will find themselves in the same position of repeatedly regaining the weight they lose, just as I have. Because as long as we’re not addressing the underlying issues— the reasons why we eat crap, or don’t eat enough, and don’t move our bodies enough—we’re only masking the problem with a temporary band-aid.

The diet and weight loss industry is built on the fear and desperation of the people it serves; it preys on our vulnerabilities. The industry knows we’re all looking for a quick fix, and that’s why it packages up the promise of a better life for us in a shiny, irresistible package. The industry knows we’ll come back time and time again for more after the initial promise stops working. The industry knows there’s no such thing as a magic pill, but will sell one to us anyway. The long and the short is that anything that’s promising you extraordinary results in a short period of time is too good to be true. Period.

These are the lies we believe when we’re afraid we’re not enough as we are. This is the garbage we buy into when we don’t love ourselves, because we are motivated by our fears.

In my attempt to see this situation from all possible perspectives, I’ve run the full gamut of emotions—from frustration to anger and despair to resignation. And I suppose you could say I’ve reached a metaphorical crossroads in deciding that it’s time for something to change. The world around me isn’t going to budge, so I guess it’s up to me.

The only thing that makes sense to me at this point is the realization that taking care of myself needs to come from a place of love, rather than being instigated by my feelings of insecurity, my hatred of my thighs, and the fear of not being good enough.

Let’s face it, exercise is not punishment for what I look like, or what I may have eaten last night. And it most definitely is not something I should engage in from the standpoint of being disgusted by what I see when I look in the mirror. As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been guilty of this attitude in the past, but I’m really starting to see not only how damaging this is to my mental health, but also how counter-productive it is to continue down this road.

The ability to move my body is a privilege not everyone has in this life, and is something  not to be taken for granted. I want to move my body in ways that feel good to me. I want to take the best possible care of myself. I want to feed myself healthy, nutrition-dense foods, because my body—my physical container during my time here on earth—needs the highest quality fuel to function optimally.

So, if I know what’s good for me (and I’m starting to think I do), I can see how approaching nutrition and exercise as self-care, coming from a place of love instead of fear, could make all the difference. Instead of exercising because I feel like I’m not enough the way I am and feeling desperate to change what I don’t like about my body, I need to change my mindset, instead.

It’s a strange place to be in, and one that I’m not sure I entirely understand yet, but my goal is to cultivate the energy of loving myself as I am right now while being open to improving my health and wellbeing at the same time.

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The words of affirmation that will guide me (please feel free to borrow any of these if they feel right to you) are:
I am active because I love myself.
My body deserves to be treated well.
I feel good when I move my body.
I nourish my body by eating whole, healthy foods.

As I’ve already suggested, the reasons for leading a healthy, active lifestyle run way deeper and are far more meaningful than vanity alone. And according to one article I found online, thinking of exercise as beneficial for reasons other than weight loss helps people stick to exercising more regularly—about three more hours per week than people whose primary focus was solely on weight loss.

With this in mind, I’ve come up with the following list of reasons to exercise that have absolutely nothing to do with weight.

  1. Breaking a sweat is super healthy, as it allows the body to release excess sodium, keeps blood pressure in check, and rids the body of some environmental toxins. Just remember to rehydrate with plenty of water during and after a good sweat session.
  2. Increasing your heart rate with exercise strengthens the muscles of the heart, as well as reduces the risk of heart disease. With heart diseases and other related conditions on the rise, this is a very compelling reason to look after the health of your ticker.
  3. Any weight-bearing exercise, such as running, dancing, or resistance training, will help with bone density, thereby reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis that increase with age.
  4. It has been scientifically proven that those who exercise regularly actually live longer. Just 150 minutes of exercise per week (that’s just five, 30-minute sessions) can add up to seven years to your life.
  5. If you’re feeling fatigued or lacking energy, consider that exercise can leave you feeling like you have more energy thanks to the effect of endorphins—the feel-good vibes and rush you get after exercise, also known as “runner’s high”.
  6. Stressed out? Working out helps manage and release stress by battling cortisol, the stress hormone.
  7. Feeling blue? Exercise is a natural antidepressant and mood lifter, improving overall mental health and helping stave off symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  8. Aerobic exercise can reduce both the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS, alleviating mood swings, depression, fatigue, cramps, and even balancing out hormone levels.
  9. Regular exercise promotes improved restful sleep, lowers incidence of insomnia, and promotes higher quality of sleep.
  10. The habit-forming power of a consistent exercise routine is transferable. Some notable improvements you may notice as a result of engaging in regular exercise include increased ability to focus on tasks, boosting creativity, and fostering greater productivity in many areas of your life.

It seems to me these are the real and meaningful reasons to treat yourself well with regular exercise. It all comes down to putting yourself first. Loving yourself and being good to your body are the only “why” you need.

So for the love of all that is good and holy, can we just give the diet and fitness industry (and all the superficiality and lies that go along with it) a great big collective middle finger? Can we all agree it’s time to break up with the idea of being defined by our weight, measurements, and dress size? And wouldn’t it be nice to just go for a walk or ride a bike or do some other type of movement that feels good to us, and maybe eat a few extra veggies somewhere along the way today? How awesome would that be?

I’m kind of done with hating myself. I know it may seem quite radical, but I’m going to try loving myself from now on and see where that takes me.

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What if, right?

As always, if you have any thoughts to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

The Flip-side of Resistance

If I were to pick only one word to describe my life, one word to sum it all up just perfectly, it would have to be: Resistance.

Many of the people, circumstances, and experiences I encounter, I resist. I oppose. I withstand. As far as I can tell or remember, I’ve been resisting most of my life, and if someone were to make my life into a book or movie, it would have to be called, The Great Resistance.

When it comes to actually feeling all my feelings, receiving feedback, and trying new things, my first and natural reaction is to resist. I resist listening to and following my intuition, being consistent with self-care, and accepting love that is offered to me. Allowing myself to fully participate in positive experiences and doing what I know is my calling? Yup, you guessed it—even more resistance! And when I encounter struggle or conflict, I put up resistance with a capital “R”.

As you can see, I take resistance to a whole new level. You might even say I’m the master, Grand Puba, and high priestess of the resistance department. I am literally resisting my own life, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a bit like trying to sprint through Jello.

If you’re wondering how that’s working out for me, well let’s just say it’s not really.

I have enough self-awareness to know that simply being aware of my resistance is no longer copacetic. Capiche? (You know what I mean?) The Great Resistance is preventing me from experiencing sustained joy and happiness and blocking me from finding my flow, ya know?

I had a little A-HA! moment when I realized: The flip-side of resistance is acceptance.

This is BIG, life-changing stuff here, people!

acceptance

I’m not talking about taking the road of acquiescence, passivity, or even resignation. I’m talking about being able to take whatever comes my way for what it is. Greeting every moment with interest and curiosity, rather than judgment. Setting aside all of my expectations and preconceived notions about what my life should look like in favour of receiving whatever it is. And believe me when I say that for me this is as much about allowing the good stuff as it is about welcoming the negative without a bunch of unnecessary drama and hoopla.

I think I’m starting to get it…

What I need, and what I’ve been searching for all along, is acceptance. I have a choice: I can continue to cause my own suffering by resisting everything, all the time, or I can choose to walk the road of acceptance, instead.

“Acceptance does not mean you agree with, condone, appreciate, or even like what has happened. Acceptance means that you know, regardless of what has happened, that there is something bigger than you at work. It also means you know that you are okay and that you will continue to be okay.”
Iyanla Vanzant

Resistance is a close cousin of fear, so it only makes sense that acceptance is one of love’s siblings. With this massive revelation, I’m setting my sights on seeing my resistance for what it is (essentially, fear in disguise), and gently moving beyond it to a place of loving acceptance—in all ways and with all things.

radicalacceptance

Starting right now, I am choosing acceptance over resistance, and committing myself to making acceptance a daily mindfulness practice.

One day at a time, one breath and one baby step at a time:
I will practice accepting whatever comes my way.
I will practice letting go of things I cannot control.
I will practice seeking solutions instead of complaining.
I will practice listening to the whispers of my sadness, pain, anger, and frustration.
I will practice seeing the beauty that exists in the world.
I will practice gratitude and focus on positivity.

Yes, I do get it now.

I accept responsibility for myself—all the good and bad parts.
I accept that I’m human, and I will have both good days and bad days.
I accept that acceptance is a practice.
I accept that this is where I begin.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat the practice of acceptance, times infinity.

See you on the flip side…
of resistance.

Has anyone else chosen to walk the road of mindful acceptance? Do you have tips, an experience, a story, or a comment to share? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me a note in the comments below.

Good Day

Two geese are meandering in the grass near the shoreline.

Several trees are rooted in place mere feet away from the water’s edge, but one in particular catches my eye. It’s early spring, and like so many of the others, its leaves are just beginning to bloom.

But this tree is different than the others. It’s special. This one is my tree.

branches

I approach, gently placing one hand on its bark; a gesture meaning, “I come in peace”.

My tree looks strong, with five main limbs branching out from its trunk.

I take a few breaths before I slowly begin to move again.

The lowest of the limbs is a little higher than my chest, and looks solid enough to support me.

perch

I scan to see if there’s anyone around, anyone whose disapproving glances may prevent me from accomplishing my secret mission.

Only my friends—the two geese and my tree—are here with me.

I come up with a quick game plan in my head.

Get one foot on top of the low limb and then hoist myself using upper body strength assisted by the two higher limbs? Can’t get my hand position right and not enough leverage. Ironically, the realization takes me back to the challenge of indoor rock climbing, and the frustration that ensued.

With renewed determination, I take a few deep breaths and try again. The geese are honking, and I imagine they’re cheering me on. Alas, both feet end up back at ground level.

I approach from another angle; one hand on each of the higher limbs that ascend almost as straight up as the base of the tree itself, as I use my feet to scale its trunk.

My grip is slipping again, and just when I think I’m not quite strong enough and will have to let go, I get one foot up into the crook of my tree.

I pause for a moment—to catch my breath and figure out what’s next.

I’ve been afraid of heights since I broke my arm falling off a four-foot structure when I was six. It’s interesting how much I changed and how I learned to embody fear on that fateful day…

I’m only about five and a half feet off the ground, but my heart is racing. Part exhilaration, part fear. The exact ratio of the two is unclear.

I walk my feet forward over the lowest limb, very slowly, testing to see if it will hold.

There’s no discernible movement in the limb, so I lower myself into the crook, shifting my weight forward slightly to settle into this perfect resting spot.

Here I am now, grown woman in a tree. Not a care in the world—except for maybe how to get myself back down to the ground. But for now I’ll just stay up here in my tree, enjoying the view for a while.

From my sturdy perch, I look out beyond the thick of branches over the water. My thoughts are consumed by the simplicity of nature. Its sheer existence is breathtakingly beautiful.

Birds are singing to each other in the manner of call and reply. The water is still. Grass on the verge of turning green. Sky above, earth below.

In these precious moments as the trees and shrubs begin to emerge from their winter slumber, there’s a prevailing sense of calm, and a palpable sense of hope for the future.

forwardview

A penny for my thoughts?

Despite my struggles to get here, I feel strong and supported.
I feel as though I’ve come home.
I am at peace.

The auspicious nature of this day far exceeds finding two quarters in the grass on the way back down.

It is neither luck, nor coincidence.

It is all meant to be.

Every detail unfolding exactly as it was written in the grand design of it all:
The geese and the tree. The struggle and the climb. The perspective and the view.

The journey and the destination.

No doubt in my mind I’ve arrived here, in this place, on the wings of an idea called freedom.

I’ve waited a long time to be here and to feel this.

I know there is immeasurable joy to be found in simple pleasures, like riding my bike and climbing my tree. Remembering what it feels like to be a kid.

There’s so much life here, and I finally see I’m part of it.

Now that I’ve found this place, I’ll definitely be back again.

Good day? Yes, I suppose you could say that.

Trust is the Word

Despite any appearance to the contrary, I’ve always been a fake-it-till-you-make-it chick. And when I stop to think about why this is so, all signs point to an obvious lack of trust in myself.

Through my personal journey of contemplation and self-reflection over the past several years, I have realized there are some major chinks in my armour, not the least of which is an inability to trust myself. Further, this has made me painfully aware of another vulnerability: I cannot fully realize my potential on this planet until I have completely embraced the radical concept of self-trust.

Trust is inextricably intertwined with some other equally nebulous ideas. When I think of trust, I also think of BELIEF, CONFIDENCE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY, FAITH, COURAGE, and BRAVERY.

TRUSTme

I honestly believe my reasons for lacking trust in myself boil down to 1.) fear and 2.) having an overly active loud mouth of an inner critic. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario when I consider which of these came first, as they apparently fuel and feed off of each other.

But coming back to the concept of trust, turning this word back on myself has been an interesting exercise. I mean, it’s one thing when you realize that you’ve lost trust for someone whom you consider to be important in your life, but when that person is yourself, whoa!

I would argue that trust matters most in relationships of an intimate nature. And what is more intimate than the relationship one has with oneself? By this logic, trust is a biggie. It’s huge. The absence of it a major clue that, “Houston, we have a problem!”

It’s hard to like someone you don’t trust, and it’s hard to like yourself if you don’t trust yourself.
Leo Babruta

But I’m here to tell you, straight up, there is a void inside my soul where the trust button is supposed to be. It’s like a vacuum in which there is no air for my flame to burn. Heck, there’s not even a spark to light the flame. For some reason, the visual of a motherboard with an empty slot where the processor is supposed to be comes to mind. There’s a label with an arrow showing exactly where the trust processor belongs, but it’s just not there.

This visual demonstrates how integral I have come to believe self-trust is to pursuing and achieving anything worthwhile in this world, because, even though I’m no technology expert, I’d imagine a motherboard without a processor is virtually useless. Haha, virtually, get it? Similarly, without that trust ‘processor’ functioning in me, it feels humanly impossible to follow through on my purpose with the serious work of this life.

Trust is a funny thing. You can’t see it, touch it, taste it, or smell it. It’s either there or it isn’t. You know when it is there and when it isn’t.

And that is precisely my reason for choosing TRUST as the one word to guide me in 2016. It is the one thing I know am currently lacking and that has the potential to change the course and trajectory of my life.

Trust is something akin to a special brand of blind faith. It is the unwavering belief that, in the face of adversity and against all odds, life is going to work out exactly how it’s supposed to. It’s that unshakable place of being firmly rooted in the knowing that life is always working in your favour.

For me, trusting myself implicitly would mean defeating self-doubt and being so thoroughly self-assured that my every move is guided by a very cool (yet non arrogant) sense of confidence. The reliable presence of trust in my life would translate to avoiding the urge to compare myself to others and bypassing the impulse to second guess my instincts. Perhaps most importantly for me, embodying trust would be like knowing with everything in me that, no matter what the universe throws my way, ‘I’ve got this.’

When baking a cake, you make sure to include all of the ingredients in the recipe. When you’re building a life you love, you’ve got to start by trusting yourself.

If I sit down to write not having a concrete idea in mind before hand, I need to trust the ideas will come to me, and through me. And it all starts by having that trust in myself in the first place, to get my rear end into that chair and just start typing.

Trust is the fertile ground in which I have planted my seeds of intention for 2016. With its constant loving attention, I am better equipped to nurture my seeds and encourage their growth. With trust as the foundation of everything I do, I believe there’s nothing I cannot accomplish. And with some good, old-fashioned hard work, my efforts will finally take shape and flower into reality.

2016: I trust it’s my time to shine!

Trust words

Living from love

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the big “L” has been top of mind. It’s not that I’m one of those mush-gushy people who wholeheartedly buys in to the commercialism of the made-up-holiday, but I definitely have been focused on cultivating more of the ultimate feel-good feeling in my own life. However, I suspect that I may have a slightly different perspective than most of the other passengers on the V-day train. I’m seeking that precarious tipping point, looking to counteract the darkness and heaviness of fear with the light and airy, easy breezy, beautiful fullness of love.

As Marianne Williamson said, “a miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love.” When I first came upon these words, they hit me like a lightning bolt, sending a powerful electrical current through my then mundane existence. Quite simply, the profound simplicity and blatant truth of these words rocked my world. This is because they helped me to realize I was living from a place of fear.

John Lennon had more to say on the subject:
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfection. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” Just as John Lennon so aptly stated, I recognize that fear is the underlying current that caused me to pull back from life. In a constant state of contraction, I tiptoed around my fears and insecurities to merely “get through” my days. The problem, as I now understand it, is that living from fear amounts to not really living at all.

loveI’ve definitely been more focused on living from love since gaining this awareness, but I’d be lying if I said it has been easy. I still struggle to release the stranglehold fear has on me, and some of my limiting beliefs sometimes feel so deeply engrained they continue to rear their ugly heads far more often than I’d like. They pop up out of nowhere, sneering and snickering at me as if to say, “No matter how hard you try, you’re never going to catch us. Na-na-na boo-boo!” The most challenging thing for me is allowing the painful fear-based stuff to come up to the surface. With nowhere else to escape, I’ve had to face and feel, sometimes with crushing physical pain, as my heart bursts open to release the stories that have been buried deep inside.

And yet I know it all comes back to me. If I want love to be the dominant energy or force in my life, I need to be honest, aware, and present. I need to keep reminding myself that fear is a liar and it’s essential to love myself first. As Swami Sai Premananda once said: “Practice love until you remember that you are love.” No one else can do this for me—or you, for that matter. Practicing self-love, quite simply, is the most important thing we can, and must, do for ourselves.

My self-love practice has grown to include daily meditation, regular exercise, nutritious food, lots of sleep, writing, reading, being gentle with myself, relaxing my insanely high expectations of myself and others, and daily double doses of positive self-talk. It’s hard work and it takes practice, every day, but I believe I’m worth the effort. I am a work in progress.

Other ideas for attracting more love into your life and cultivating a life you love include:
• Practicing gratitude
• Making peace with the past
• Living with intention
• Spending time in nature
• Embracing fear
• Taking ownership of your own life
• Helping others

In closing, I’d like to share one last quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.”

Thanks for reading, and until next time I extend to you all the love and gratitude in my sparkly heart.

P.S. If your heart is so inclined, please join @SoulChatYeg on Twitter for a discussion about love this Wednesday, February 11 at 8:00 p.m. MST. You can follow along with the questions and answers using #soulchatyeg

AND/OR

Feel free to drop me a line about your experience with fear and love, or let me know what your favorite self-love practices are.