Friday, November 22, 2013

Are you being "too nice"?

Recently, I was guided to read another book by one of my favorite authors and mentors, Doreen Virtue. The title of her latest book, "Assertiveness for Earth Angels: How to be Loving Instead of Too Nice." spoke to me loud and clear and if you are reading this, I bet it will for you too! :)

Well, hello, this book was full of wisdom, lightbulb moments, and engaging exercises/dialogue to help flex your assertiveness muscles.

In my first book, Your Wide Awakening: A Guide to Anorexia Recovery, we explore the idea of Highly Sensitive People. Through my research and meeting with others suffering from eating disorders, addictions, depression being sensitive seems to be a trait seen across the board. Virtue describes a highly sensitive person to be "receptive to the energies in any room they walk into. They’re attuned to other people’s moods and feelings and to environmental factors such as chemicals, pollution, or noise. And they’re also sensitive to other people’s opinions. This sensitivity is both a gift and a lifesaving instinct."

This a trait that tends to be seen too with Earth Angels, as Virtue calls them. She explains an Earth Angel as this, "Do you feel different from other people, as if you were dropped off on this planet and wonder when someone's coming to take you home? If so, then you may be an Earth Angel. If you have a passion and talent for healing, teaching, or helping others, yet you yourself have substance-abuse problems, weight issues, relationship challenges, and the like, then you may be an Earth Angel. If you're highly sensitive and you abhor violence in any form, then you may very well be an Earth Angel!"

Does this sound like you?

And since you are sensitive, you don't want to ruffle anyones feathers and chose to avoid conflict. You stay in a place of hurt and resentment as you chose to repress your feelings. That is a cold lonely place I can tell ya! You heart physically aches because your breath is tightened and tension is felt all over the body. You live in a state of fear, you close off your heart to your purpose and that is so painful, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Your feelings are yours and they are meant to be expressed. I know its been hard for those of us who are people pleasers of the world to express your true feelings and maybe you are really terrified to tell someone how you feel. A quote I swiftly return to in scary moments that I have daily, is by Brene Brown and she says, "“You cannot have courage and comfort.” Brene says "when we choose courage and stand in a place of bravery, we feel most alive."

Yep, its scary but when we speak our Truth, what stands on the other side is empowerment and freedom, something we all deserve in this lifetime.

The book offers healthy ways to speak your truth in a loving, kind way with a peaceful resolution. If you are always holding your feelings in, at some point, they will bubble over and out your mouth in a way that is doesn't sit right with you or the other person. It is really about being authentic with other person. Really expressing the truth with a dialogue of ..." I feel when..."A healthy relationship can occur when you are super honest about your feelings.

A really important concept Doreen explores is healing unworthiness. In coaching myself through an eating disorder and now others, I found that my feeling of unworthiness was directly linked to my level of assertiveness. I really had to look at the cold hard facts that I am worthy to be loved. That I am worthy of goodness. I really had to own that.

You are sooooo worthy too, my dear.

Another important point Virtue discusses in the book among so many other things are RED FLAGS. You know, those whispers, signs, physical symptoms in the body like perspiring, stomach pain, "gut" feelings that your inner guide is sending you about getting into/continuing a relationship with someone. Your inner guide is waving its big flag stating, "WARNING, WARNING, TOXIC RELATIONSHIP AHEAD...PROCEED ON!" That's really about tuning in and heeding that warning and following through with not getting involved in that relationship. Guilty as charged over here, I don't always do that. I think,"Oh no, they were just having a bad day. Or I bet I can change them or give them some guidance." Um, no silly me, you can't change anybody, not ever. As Doreen reminds us, " A leopard doesn't change its spots."

I can truly say, this is a life changing book for the Too Nice Nancy's and People Pleasing Penelope's of the world. Whether you are spiritual or not, this book offers compassionate and loving tools on how to say "no" and to establish healthy boundaries in your world so you have more time to give to healthy relationships, your hobbies, and your purpose. There are so many truth nuggets and healing exercises throughout the book that will really guide you in awakening to your Light. By using Doreen's inspiration and you taking inspired action, you will feel lighter, more authentic, and definitely more assertive. ;-)

The following is an excerpt from Assertiveness for Earth Angels: How To Be Loving Instead of “Too Nice” by Doreen Virtue, published by Hay House (November, 2013), available at bookstores or online at Permission granted by Hay House.

"Whenever we avoid conflict by keeping our feelings to ourselves, we do ourselves and others a disservice. This is a form of dishonesty and manipulation. We’re trying to control the other person’s reactions by controlling what we tell them.

So when someone asks you if you’re upset and you say that you aren’t when you really are, you’re being controlling. You’re trying to keep them from being angry with you or from starting an argument with you. Or, you’re holding your feelings inside to prevent the other person from seeing that you are hurt.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go to the other extreme and bulldoze the other person with the blunt truth.

There’s an in-between way to handle conflict that’s just right and very healthy and honest. After you’ve collected your thoughts and feelings, go to the person and say this magical phrase: “I’d like to clear some things with you.”

This nonthreatening phrase keeps communication open because the other person doesn’t feel accused. Start by taking a deep breath and silently praying for strength and a clear mind. Even though your heart may be racing and you might even be perspiring, know that anytime you do something for the first time, you’ll feel intimidated or afraid. Each time you practice a new behavior, it becomes more natural and easier.

Look the other person in the eye and say to him or her from your heart and without apology: “I really care about our relationship, so I need to share my feelings in order for us to clear them.”
Now, the other person may feel threatened by this and might immediately become defensive or even argumentative. Don’t let this throw you, unless the other person becomes verbally or physically abusive.

(Don’t try to negotiate with an abusive person, especially if he or she intoxicated. If abuse occurs, leave immediately and seek appropriate support or protection.)

In most situations, others will be open to hearing you. During your discussion, it’s vital that you own your feelings. This means: don’t use blaming or shaming words. Even if you do blame them, saying that you do will shut down all further communication.

Use phrases such as I feel, I felt, and to me. This way, you’re not poking and prodding at the other person and inadvertently provoking their defensiveness.

Do your best to keep your cool while talking about and owning your feelings. If you start to cry, let yourself be real. The same with anger: allow yourself to be authentic, but don’t act on this emotion, such as by yelling or calling names. Also, please don’t put yourself down in any way.
Don’t diminish, disparage, or apologize for your feelings . . . ever! Remember: You have a right to your feelings, even if other people don’t understand or agree with them! Your feelings are your signals of deep truths inside of you. They’re the language of your soul, and they need you to listen to them.

After you’ve talked about your feelings, allow the other person to explain his or her own. There are always two sides to every story. However, notice your gut feelings while you’re listening. If you get an uneasy feeling that the other person is covering his or her tracks or being dishonest with you, then note that—because he or she probably is.

As your assertiveness level grows stronger, you’ll have the courage to say to a person who’s lying to you, “I don’t believe what you’re saying,” or something equivalent. But for now, just notice that you get the feeling that he or she is being dishonest, manipulative, or defensive.
This isn’t the kind of person you want to spend much time with. Those are toxic behavior patterns that permeate all of that individual’s relationships.

If the other person starts blaming you or is defensive, the conversation will go in an unhealthful direction. Blaming is a key symptom of the ego’s fears about being exposed. As long as one or both of you are involved in blaming, nothing will get resolved.
Toxic relationships will pull you down every time. You don’t need to have a toxic relationship when there are so many nontoxic potential friends and partners available. Never believe you have to settle for an unhealthy relationship. You don’t.

A boundary is your limit, which no one can overstep or violate. No matter who the other person is or how much you love him or her, your boundary is something that he or she is not allowed to breach.

For instance, I have boundaries in all of my relationships that dictate that you must treat me with respect. I, in turn, will treat you with respect. This is a nonnegotiable boundary for me, and if anyone violates this and is disrespectful toward me, I will try to clear the energy by discussing my feelings and boundaries, and then listening to the other person. If he or she continues to be disrespectful toward me, the relationship is over, without any guilt on my part. I still love the person, but because of the behavior overstepping my firm boundary, I no longer have contact with him or her. Boundaries are a necessary part of self-care, just like washing your hair or wearing shoes to protect your feet. They are healthy, normal, and necessary.

Every relationship has issues and negotiations about each person’s personal boundaries. So it’s not whether you have conflict, but how you deal with conflict that matters for a long-term relationship.

Personal boundaries include how much . . .
. . . body space and distance from other people you need.
. . . time alone you prefer.
. . . affection and romance you need.
. . . you need to hear words of affection.
. . . you need your personal items to be left alone and untouched by others.
. . . you require honesty, reliability, and sobriety within the relationship.
. . . financial equality and fairness matter to you [. . . and so forth].

Part of being an assertive Earth Angel is learning how to have the strength and the courage to maintain your boundaries. It can get exhausting when it feels like other people are trying to step all over your boundaries. It might wear you down, and you start to think, Does this really matter? Well, it does!

Your inner self relies upon your outer self for caretaking. You might say that your inner self is like a little child you’re nurturing. That means that if it’s tired or needs to play, your outer self should honor this and not push your inner self beyond its limits.

Even though the other person may be disappointed or even angry when you say no, believe me when I tell you that he or she does understand. Remember that the other person is human, too, and knows what limitations are like. Even if your refusal comes as a disappointment, deep down he or she will respect you for it!

When you say no, you’re modeling healthy behavior for others. Part of the reason why they may react angrily toward you is because it’s never occurred to them that they could say no to unreasonable demands put upon their own time!

So when you do something that people haven’t seen you do previously—like saying no—they may be surprised. They may take your no personally, and it’s okay for you to briefly explain that this isn’t anything personal and has to do with you maintaining clear boundaries with respect to your schedule.

Don’t feel like you have to explain why you’re saying no, though. The more you explain why, the more leverage the other person has, which he or she can use to manipulate you into changing that no into a yes.

Boundaries mean that you teach people what you will and won’t accept in the relationship. They can be a lot of work, but that’s what it takes to build a healthy relationship with yourself and others.

Another important boundary is to respect your right to schedule your time. Don’t allow others to dictate your schedule to you. For instance, you have the right to not answer the phone or doorbell when it rings, and to not feel obligated to immediately answer e-mails or social-media posts. If someone asks you to drop everything to drive him or her across town, you have the right to say no. It’s like the old adage “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.” We must overcome impulsive rescuing tendencies.

Source Is the Only Source
A lot of people use guilt to manipulate others into getting their way. They also include flattery mixed with guilt. So, as an example, they’ll say, “Only you can help me; and if you don’t help me, there will be horrible consequences for me.”

As a sensitive Earth Angel, you don’t want anyone to suffer, so you allow the other person’s words to manipulate and control you. Then you feel weak and used, as well as resentful and angry. Add to this the frustration that arises because you’ve backtracked on your promise to take excellent care of yourself . . . and you’ve got a heap of toxic energies inside your mind, emotions, and body.
It’s so important to remind yourself that every person has the same Source: God. Those who play with your emotions to get their way are creations of God, just like you and everyone else. You’re not their God, nor are you their Source. So, allow Source God to be the person’s caretaker. Pray for guidance about how you can truly help him or her gain strength and be self-sufficient.

Of course, there will be instances where you’re acting as an Earth Angel and bringing forth God’s help through your efforts. But those instances are clearly guided by love, not by guilt.

If you’re giving because of guilt, it’s not true or pure giving, as was discussed in the previous chapter. Your gift out of guilt is tainted with toxic energies."

Thank you Doreen for giving us the gift of your voice and granting us permission to use ours. It's always been our right, we just needed to be reminded. :)))

Love and Light Always,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Guest Post: Heather Waxman on BODYpeace

I am honored to introduce you to my soul sister, soul partner in crime, coach, friend, and inspiration to the blog today. I know you will enjoy her insight and wisdom as I much as I do. Every time we talk, I leave with a brighter spirit and feel spiritually fed. Heather will be releasing her first guided meditation album next month (eek! Can't wait!)

The One Thing You’re Not Doing to Love Your Body

Diets don’t work. We know this. Fruits and veggies are our ticket to body health. We know this. So, what is it that is really holding us back from loving our bodies when we have all the right tools in front of us?

The conversation around body image has forever been a hot-button topic and it has certainly played a huge role in my journey to BODYpeace. I suffered from anorexia nervosa for six years, binge eating for two years, and exercise obsession for almost all of that. Basically, I really wanted my voice to matter and, I figured, if I was skinny that people would really care about what I had to say.

Throughout those 8 years, I tried all of the practical stuff to become recovered, whatever that means. But that’s another conversation. ;) I tried gaining weight according to my BMI chart. In college, I was even threatened to be kicked out of school if I didn’t gain weight. So, that worked temporarily because I wanted to stay in school. But every time I did the whole recovery thing, nothing would stick. I would gain the weight and then lose it right back. I felt out of control. I felt like other people were telling me how to live, what weight to be, and what to eat … and the control I was seeking was just being ripped right out from under me.

It wasn’t until I invited a spiritual conversation around the body into my life that things really began to shift. I remember the night so clearly. I was holding the snack cupboard door open, one hand propped on my hip, and I was staring at the giant bag of sea salt popcorn that I was ready to devour. My eyes welled up with tears. I’d had it. “No!” I screamed. I bolted downstairs, hit my knees, and sobbed. “God, Universe, whatever you are. Please help me. Please help me. Please,” I said.

The next morning, something shifted inside of me. What I didn’t realize at the time was, that night, I’d said a prayer. When you pray, you ask the Universe to help you. And so it did. I was led to A Course in Miracles, a metaphysical text about living a life filled with love and releasing your limiting beliefs, and started to become a self-help junkie.

After years of patience, practice, and gentle self-care, I’ve come to really love my bod pod for what it truly is: a vehicle through which I express love.

When I said that prayer that night, I asked for a miracle. And I got one: a new perception on my life, which allowed me to be led, one moment at a time, to the right teachers and situations and relationships to help me put the magnifying glass on the limiting beliefs that were holding me back.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is listen. And I listen through meditation. The practice of meditation has changed my life and, without it, I wouldn’t be in recovery today. Meditation has given me the green light to see my body first with spiritual sight and then with physical sight...

You know how people say your body is a temple? Let’s dive into that for a sec. What do you know to be true about a temple? Every temple has an altar, and the altar is the holiest spot in the entire building. The building is super important because it houses the altar, but the most important aspect of the temple is the altar itself. That is the place where all the super powerful stuff goes down. The same is true for you. Your body is a temple. Your inner soul sister is the altar. Your body is a container that holds the most precious part of you: your inner soul sister, which is your very own sacred space of truth. That’s where the powerful stuff goes down for you. So, it’s really important that we take care of our bodies, so we can nurture our inner soul sister and be open to receiving the guidance that is all around us at all times. By nourishing our bodies with a spiritual practice, healthy foods, and exercise, we are, in effect, nourishing our inner soul sister. When she is in tip-top shape, we can open up our minds to receive guidance and, therefore, fall more in love with our bodies.
Your body is an instrument of love. When you look at your body that way, it is much easier to make the best decisions for your body, because you’re tapping into your intuition. You’re seeing with spiritual sight.

The true purpose of your body cannot be seen with your physical sight. The true purpose of your body can only be truly understood with your spiritual sight. You gotta put on your spiritual glasses and look through new lenses. You might have never put on your spiritual glasses before, and that’s totally cool. The fact that you’re reading this now means you’re willing to at least put them on, so you can trust you’re exactly where you need to be.

So, how do you begin a journey to BODYpeace? Here are my top three tips:

1. Meditate! Start here with my FREE meditations. Treat yourself to getting comfy cozy with your inner soul sister. It’s the best gift you can give yourself.

2. Check your self-talk. Do you talk to yourself like a soul sister or do you talk to yourself like a bully? Check yourself. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your child or your BFF. Be gentle and uber patient with yourself.

3.Bless your food and bless your bod. At each meal, I say, "I bless my food. I bless my body. I bless what this food can do for my body." When I invite Spirit into the meal, I can re-focus on the purpose of food: to nourish my body so I can be a vehicle to express love and kindness at my highest capacity.

4. When you feel triggered around a food, ask yourself “Will this food heal me or hurt me?" You intuitively know the answer. If the answer is hurt me, you can out yourself to a friend or someone who will be supportive. We all need someone we can turn to in moment of weakness.

Did this reasonate with you? Share with us your thoughts on BODYpeace...
Stay lovely,
Heather Waxman is a life coach, writer, musician, and speaker. Here upcoming meditation album, Soul Sessions, will be released in December 2013! For more inspiration and all things soulFULL, come visit her at her web site or say hi on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Are we separate human beings?

“Human beings look separate because you see them walking about separately. But then we are so made that we can see only the present moment. If we could see the past, then of course it would look different. For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well, and when they were part of his grandparents. If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, it would look like one single growing thing--rather like a very complicated tree. Every individual would appear connected with every other.”

― C.S. Lewis

We are expanding. We are uniting. We are making friends with people on the Internet.

I remember in 3rd grade signing up for a Pen Pal in Spain and hoping she would return my letter. I sent her a letter in fancy Holly Hobby stationary with a decorative envelope. I can remember writing in my most neatest cursive. Now, with the help of the internet and the famous hashtag, I can click on two buttons and meet a friend in Spain with the same interests as me and we can be friends! In moments!

In this first installment of a month-long blog series, we will discuss the differences between your false self and your True Self.

A way our True Self can get tricked up is thinking we are separate from one another. This idea of Separation versus Unity.

Can we agree that we were all conceived by a sperm meeting an egg? Can we agree that we all part of the same Universe? I remember witnessing Unity on September 11, the World came together to mourn, to help, to be a little kinder, to be more grateful that day. Sure, there may have been a handful of people that were not feeling this way. The choice is not to focus on them. The choice is to focus on that fact that We came together that day. We chose to be One.

As we grow up, we learn separation. Things like, "She has nicer clothes than me, a bigger house, and better legs. OR He is better at football than me or He gets more girls." OR " I can't believe she made that mistake!"

Which brings me to this story.

A few days ago, a writer from Connecticut wrote a blog post for Huffington Post about how she left her four year old daughter unattended in a bathtub (for about 2 minutes) to put her other child in the shower down the hall. As she finished up getting him settled, she heard her computer ping an incoming email. She chose to read it and then go in to check on her daughter. When she entered the bathroom, her daughters eyes were closed as she had fallen asleep. The mother's first reaction was "she's dead!" Moments later, her daughter awoke and the mother felt relief.

As I read the post, I knew she had a message to share with the world. Her message was to become more self-aware. I am pretty sure we are all guilty of checking our phones, talking to others, responding to an email, or being distracted while driving when our focus could be on the task at hand. I know I am!

As I read the comments below her post, people were saying some nasty stuff to her and how terrible a mother she is. I am fairly certain she shamed herself when she saw her babygirl in the tub. I hope she has forgiven herself because mistakes do happen, everyday.

This woman chose to be vulnerable and courageous by admitting her mistakes, flaws, and faults. As spiritual beings having a human experiences, we will fail, we will make mistakes, and we will have adversity. None of us are exempt from this. Yep, that's how we grow. We are unified in the fact that we do make mistakes and we do need Love. This mom made her mess her message. She chose to put herself out on a line to give us a strong reminder of how we can be so busy that we could make a terrible mistake.

Faith brings me to a place that her experience was no accident. She had to see that her distracted living could cost a life. It was a public service announcement to us all to gently remind us to stay in the moment, be present and more mindful. I admire her courage and grace.

Where can you witness your thoughts today where you might be acting more separate than unified? Without judging yourself, witness the thought, see it, let it float on by, and choose a better thought, a more forgiving thought, a less judging thought. We will have these thoughts everyday and some days will be better than others. It's simply okay. We are human.

I share this story in hopes that we can see how unified we really are. We are all soul brothers and sisters. Our experiences and gifts appear to make us different but we are all perfect souls walking around in human bodies. Some experiences can really hide our True Selves but each day its up to us to come back to what we already know, we just forgot. Each day its a chance to reawaken. The past is history. You are starting fresh today.

Today, I thank My Jenn-eration for sharing her story to remind us to stay present and allowing us to see that we are all human and we all mistakes. We are one.

Friday, October 11, 2013

False self v. True self

Virtually any disease, addiction, disorder, ailment is a daily battle with your false self. Metaphysically speaking, mental/physical disease is a breach of a relationship with yourself or someone else in your life. In Louise Hay's groundbreaking book, You Can Heal Your Life, Hay reveals that failure to deal with spiritual, emotional, mental or physical issues is likely to result in the manifestation of illness or dis-ease in the body.

When we are conceived, we are a swirling vortex of divine energy and unconditional love. The body develops around this energy so we can enter human life on the Earth. This divine energy is pure, real, and radiating with beautiful energy.

When we interact with our new human family, we learn fear or we watch others engaging in their false self. We also learn true self which is all loving, forgiving, understanding and nurturing.

We are human beings so we are meant to experience both selves, (its perfectly ok to experience false self thoughts! We get triggered! The dark inspires the light.) but the real practice (holy practice!) is not spend too much time focusing our minds from a false self perspective.

What we focus on becomes our reality.

A false self is shaming. The false self complains. The false self gets jealous, blames others, resents others, and feels separation from others.

Most of the time if we have a illness, we have something that needs to be healed from our past.
It is a daily struggle against our false self thoughts. The false self tells you, "You are not good enough. Look at you, no one loves you. You make others lives more difficult. I will never be __________ as her. There is no hope for me.Everyone else is happy but me" But beyond all those false self thoughts is a little voice (the inner child-your true self) desperate to get your attention, "its saying, you are love, You are special, You matter, Can you hear me?" That's when the work begins to peel back the layers of what's triggering these false self thoughts.

In the work that I do, I help people peel back those layers and get to the root of the issue ( the root usually looks like divorce, trauma, abandonment, illness, shame, death in the family, parental/societal expectation for constant achievement, etc.) The issues I hear a lot are " My mom doesn't love me. My dad left us. I was constantly criticized, I feel different than my family". With my clients, I help them heal that through mediation, talk therapy, yoga, and my love and compassion that extends from my very own heart. When you don't allow yourself to heal or you judge your feelings, you are repressing them which leads to a life that is depressing. The real you gets blocked. The real you is needed in this world. You have a gift that one else has. There is only one YOU.

Once we can work on ways to commit to healing the past and accept what is done, we can work on the present on ways to cope with the false self thoughts that enter our minds on a daily basis. Its definitely a big ol practice and some days are better than others. (Take it from me!) Life is a series of ups and downs. No one gets out of life without losing a love one, experiencing pain and a heartbreak, or a traumatic experience.

In the next six weeks, starting October 15, (also the day of birth for my life coaching business!!!) I will be exploring different ways the false self pops up in our daily lives. You may find yourself in many of these posts and that's great! We are here to grow, learn,and teach one another.

Love and Light ALWAYS,

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hashtag. Beautiful.

In today's society, hashtagging is serious business. According to Wikipedia, "hashtags provide a means of grouping such messages, since one can search for the hashtag and get the set of messages that contain it" So, for example, if you want to find pictures of dogs or discussions about dogs, click on #dogs and a whole series of pictures, messages, tweets pop up on various social media websites of all kinds of things dog related.

There are some hashtags that are downright scary.

In my business and with the launch of Your Wide Awakening: A Guide to Anorexia Recovery, I decided to check out some hashtags related to all things #eating disorder.

What I found was shocking and downright heartbreaking.

Young girls and boys taking pictures of themselves with ribs poking out, cuts on wrists, declarations of being on the verge of suicide, messages about how much they hate themselves and how much no one understands.

I understand. I do.

So since August 16 this summer, I made a promise to myself that I would visit these hashtags a few minutes before bedtime and offer messages of hope, love, and send healing thoughts and prayers to those suffering.

I can pretty much guarantee these young men and women are looking for love and validation. One of my favorite things Oprah Winfrey has ever said is:

"I've talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common: They all wanted validation. If I could reach through this television and sit on your sofa or sit on a stool in your kitchen right now, I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: 'Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?'"

When I visit their pages, I tell them what I want them to know. "You are beautiful, really beautiful." I tell them " I get it. I've been there. Keep going. Baby steps."

You see, we all come from the same Source. No matter what you call it. We all start out as Light, as Spirit. Its this swirling vortex of loving energy that forms a human body around it. That Light is beautiful, radiant, warm, and unconditionally loving.

When we get here (Earth), fear sets in and we forget who we are. It's through living that we learn to REMEMBER. Maybe someone criticized you all your life. Maybe someone abandoned you. Maybe you blame yourself for a mistake. Maybe someone told you weren't good enough. Maybe someone pushed you to ACHIEVE, ACHIEVE, ACHIEVE. Maybe someone told you to be perfect.

But you already are. You were born perfect.

You are beautiful on the inside and that shows on the outside too. Beautiful is your Soul's energy radiating love and joy and giving back by using your innate talents. You are not your mistakes. You are not your body. Your body is a messenger of love. Its not about that one eye is bigger than the other or you have too many freckles or whatever disparaging message you are telling it.

Your Soul, Your Light is all glowing and all knowing. As you peel back layers of unhealed wounds, remember that. Please know you are safe and special and wonderfully You.

Hashtag. Beautiful.

Love and Light ALWAYS,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Muddy waters...

Muddy waters...

Picture this: You are swimming in a lake, enjoying the beautiful scenery, the soft gentle breeze. The sun feels warm and heavenly. The water is cleansing and relaxing. Your cup runneth over. However, the time comes when you need to get out and get back to work. As you near the edge of the lake, you start to tread in some muddy waters. The mud feels thick and squishy. It's trying to pull you down into its heaviness and darkness. You get stuck. It's cold and lonely and all you want to do is either get back in the lake or get out to do what you do best: serving others. But you cannot get out or can you?

Guess who was in muddy waters all last week and into this one? ME! Yep, got stuck!

It is very dangerous territory for me to get stuck. My ego mind starts saying silly stuff from the past and I get caught up in it. "See, you are back at square one...knew you couldn't do it. He's right. She's right. I can't (fill in the blank)"

We have two choices in how our days should unfold. Fill your bucket up and then go fill up other's buckets. How you fill your bucket up is up to you. Nature walks, long runs, yoga, meditating, prayer, playing with animals, hot showers, etc. are great bucket fillers. Also, by filling up other people's buckets, yours gets full too! Sometimes during the day, you step in muddy waters. The muddy waters may look like this: A dish gets broken. A boss gets on you about your tardiness. You receive some bad news. A person close to you has bad energy. You break your phone. You make a mistake. You start reliving a moment from the past.

Life can be difficult at times. There are moments that can take your breath away and leave you in a state of shock.

Muddy waters take on all kinds of appearances. But you CAN get out. You can pick yourself up and get back into the present moment.

1. Breathe. Keep breathing. Feel what you are feeling. Did you make a mistake? Give yourself a big fat hug and say its okay. What can you learn from that mistake? Are you reliving an argument you had last week? Are you worried about what others are thinking and saying about you? Feel what you are feeling. Breathe into that and let it go.

2. Identify the feeling. Is it shame, guilt, impatience, irritation, anger? Really feel where it lives in your body.

3. Now chose a better feeling thought. The Universe wants us to feel good all the time. Suffering is what we decide for ourselves. Let's say you had an argument with someone. Are you irritated? Let the irritation feeling come up...give yourself some space and now chose a better feeling thought. Can you be hopeful that the situation will work itself out? Can you send love to the situation and pray for healing? Can you see that its all working out for your favor? Resentment and anger keep you in the muddy waters. And the longer you keep your feet in the muddy water, the deeper you go.

This healing could happen over a course of a few days or in a few moments. But as you use these tools, it gets easier. You can tell when you start to get stuck in the muddy waters. And you can use these mindfulness tools to keep from going deeper. This is called emotional resilience. Hmmmm. that word resilience is beautiful. It's inspiring. Emotional resilience simply refers to one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises. More resilient people are able to “roll with the punches” and adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties, while less resilient people have a harder time with stress and life changes. You can improve upon this skill by working it often by using the tool above.

What does emotional resilience mean to you?

Love and Light ALWAYS,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


“God is silent. Now if only man would shut up.”
― Woody Allen

Since becoming a mother, my head and my heart burst wide, wide open.

My mind was a cluttered chatterbox for almost thirty years, repeating negative mantras about my worth over and over again.

I just wanted to get outta my head. Argh. The mind chatter was so loud, I would try to stifle with it with overexercising, controlling what I ate, isolating from friends and family. Its called numbing. Oprah Winfrey and Brene Brown were chatting about numbing on Super Soul Sunday this past weekend. We all do some form of numbing - the TV, shopping, internet surfing, gambling. Some take it to extremes, others do not.

When I had my girls, I couldn't keep it together. I had this audio tape that was so loud screaming hateful things about myself that I couldn't think straight! I had one baby crying for more bottle and the other pulling everything out of drawers...all the while my head(ego) was saying "you are a horrible mother, you are a failure,etc. etc."


Silence saved me.

Silence saved my family.

Silence is my teacher and I'm its faithful student.

Silence happens in the bathroom with the door shut. Silence happens in my guest room where no one can find me. Silence happens on a late night drive to Target. Silence happens in nature. Silence happens on a mountaintop. Silence happens inside of me. Breathe in energy, exhale stress.

My daughters taught me about silence. They taught me that I need to get quiet and still so I can be a better mommy. I thought I needed to go, go, go. No time for me. Well that worked out pretty shitty. The Universe gifted me these little earth angels to save me. To save me from myself. To teach me to fight. To teach me to value me. To teach me how to love wholeheartedly. I marvel in their teachings everyday.

I discovered through silence that I am a highly sensitive soul. Sensitive takes on a meaning to me that is positive not negative. I used to believe it was negative as I took things personally. Yea, I am still working on that one but logically I know that its the other person's projections and not my own. My nervous system is so sensitive I can actually feel another persons energy. For so long, I would match that person's energy, whether it was anxious, happy, scared, excited, sad, angry, etc.

Kids can experience all of those emotions in a span of one minute! Whoa, roller coaster city over here.

Silence taught me to separate myself from what is going on around me and to go within. Stay connected to my breath and know that only love is real. Respond rather than react. Stay. right. in. this. moment.

Silence makes me more self aware. Silence removes the fears and blocks I have about purpose.

Silence saved my life.

Silence healed my soul.

I'm wondering, has silence saved you too? Do you value silence, do you have a practice of stillness? What centers you back in the moment?

Love and Light Always,


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

We all want to feel safe and loved!

The reason why we are here is to give and receive love.

Our relationships are what give meaning to our lives.

The greatest love of all is your relationship to your Self, how you talk to Self, and how you nurture Self. And how we do that is by tuning in to our Self/Spirit by being reflective.

Meditation has been the buzz word as of late. I get that it can be difficult to start and in fact, mediation may not be the right fit for you.

Being reflective and listening to your Soul's needs can take on many different appearances. Some people need a long run, a soothing bath, a hike in the woods, journalling, ride on a boat, or playing their favorite musical instrument. Sitting in lotus position and hearing your thoughts might not be for you. Find what works so you can build a strong relationship with Self.

Once you feel like you have a strong relationship with yourSelf, then relationships can flourish. You will seek out relationships that compliment what you need. You many find that you are in relationships that no longer serve what you need because you are becoming more self aware through your reflective practices.

This is where speaking up and honoring your Soul's needs come into play.

Let's say you are struggling with one of your relationships. You have the conversation that your needs are not being met. You write down all the things you need to feel safe and loved. You express your needs. You feel vulnerable and let all your feelings out in the open. This gives the other person a way to see it from your perspective and can correct some of their behaviors to get the relationship back in its flow. This doesn't mean the other person needs to change who they are. But to continue a fulfilling relationship there needs to be a give and take.

One of two things can happen, the other person can see that you are hurt and longing for more from the relationship. They work on getting your needs met to continue the relationship. Or you keep expressing your needs and you are neither "seen" or "heard", it may be time to build courage to get your needs met in another relationship elsewhere.

To quote on my favorite spiritual mentors, Mastin Kipp,

"It’s the mark of a Master to share his or her feelings, rather than blaming someone else for not meeting the needs that were never expressed in the first place. It’s the mark of a Master who is strong enough to walk away from a broken and unfulfilled kind of love if his or her needs and emotions aren’t being seen. It’s the mark of a Master to be able to also meet the needs of their partner."

Are you being vulnerable and expressing what you want from your relationship?

So, today, try letting your loved ones know how you feel. What comes out of the conversation will be a true test as to where your relationship is heading.

The truth shall set you free. Are you feeling safe and loved?

Love and Light ALWAYS,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is the End of a Relationship a Bad Thing?

In the last month or so, I have been asked about relationships by friends and relatives. I feel there is any energy in the Universe that the world is awakening to the fact that the end of a relationship is not necessarily a bad thing.

Let me explain...

Yes, it can be heartbreaking and painful. Believe me, I have been there.

I have sobbed in my bed with wads of kleenex, depressing music, and sense of hopelessness. But there comes a point where the tears dry up and you put your big girl panties on. You set out to be brave and try at it all over again!

Can you look at the end of a relationship as you are not growing in the same direction? As you grow and evolve in your own life, the people in your life must grow with you or the relationship may not match your ever evolving Self.

One of two things can happen towards the seemingly end of a relationship: Your friend or romantic partner could be inspired by your changing ways and grow with you or the relationship will end because you two are not a match anymore. You just don't fit! It is no one's fault. Your needs changed.

The truth is, we are growing, evolving and changing everyday.

You attract into you life who you are.

When you make shifts and positive changes in your life, the relationships in your life must change too.

When a relationship ends, you make room for healthy new ones to help you and grow in your journey.

When the relationship feels icky and draining, trust that your heart is telling you something. It's time to make a change. Take the lessons with you from the relationship. Be eternally grateful for those lessons.

Now, new relationships in your life can step in and compliment your miraculous journey.

Stay the Course, the Universe is supporting you!

Love and Light,


Monday, July 22, 2013

What To Do If You Suspect Your Friend Has an Eating Disorder

I am often asked, "I have a friend who I suspect may have an eating disorder, how can I help them?"

Your first inclination may be to feed them, take them out to eat, force food down their throats, etc. Yes, that is an important aspect to helping them but what they are really looking for is Love.

Love heals.

Unconditional love is the ultimate healer to someone suffering.

I get it. I know its hard to truly love this person when they hate themselves so much that they would starve themselves, purge their food, isolate from you, lash out as a defense mechanism, etc.

I can only speak from experience what I think may help and what I have observed being around other eating disorder patients that could change your loved one's life.

What are you to do if you know someone is battling an eating disorder?

1. Be there. This loved one of yours is in so much pain inside that she/he is hurting her/himself on the outside too. Be present with them. If they talk, don't become the fixer. Become the listener. Listen with a kind compassionate heart. You may not understand why they feel so low or why they won't eat but you have compassion and love for them so just be there. Show them you have faith in them! Reassure them they will find love, peace, vigor for life again. Ask them, how can I help? What would make them feel better?

2. Do not focus on the food. I repeat, do not focus on the food. Try not to be too watchful of your friend's eating habits, food amounts, and choices. Do not stare. Do not lecture or judge what they are eating. They will feel judged and attacked. I know this sounds complicated but eating disorders are extremely complicated. Take the focus off food and talk about other cool things. Plan a trip somewhere fun with them as you eat. Rearrange their bedroom after the meal. Value their spirit and what they love.

2. Figure out what they love to do and do it with them. What was one of their hobbies before they spiraled down? Paint pottery? Go get a pedicure? Go see a movie? Take a short walk? Take the focus off food and exercise and spend time with them. Quality time. I think this is the biggest key to helping your pal. Show them they matter and you value the relationship. Show them too that they are fun and you enjoy doing fun things together.

3. Don't take anything personally. This person is in the battle of their life. Their thoughts are mostly negative about themselves. If they shut you out or call you names, its not about you. They are saying these things to you because this how they really feel about themselves.

4. Hug. I remember specifically people saying they just couldn't hug me when I was severely underweight. That broke my heart into tiny little pieces because that's all I wanted was a hug. I wanted someone to take me in their arms and say, "you are gonna be okay, I love you." I was also told when I hugged, I hugged really hard and people were turned off by that. I was so desperate for love, I wanted to feel it and never let go. No matter how painful it may feel to hug your emaciated friend, do it. They absolutely, positively need to know they are supported, loved, and cared for. Physical touch is necessary.

5. Take care of you. This may sound odd but you must take care of you too. This disease can be time consuming and painful to your entire family and network of friends. Call someone. See a therapist. You need support too. Its hard to see your loved one so deeply hurt and struggling. Make sure to nurture your soul and seek support from people who care for you too.

6. Tough love. If the disease seems to be progressing and you have done all the listening, consoling, and praying you can possibly your doctor, therapist, inpatient/outpatient eating disorder center and get the patient in as soon as possible I can pretty much guarantee your loved one will go in kicking and screaming but the problem is just too big for you to handle. Its not a funk they are in anymore. They are fighting for their life. They are slowly killing themselves. Be prepared for your friend to be angry at you. The eating disorder has clouded their reality and until they get help to manage their mind, they wont simply see that you are only trying to help. Let any guilt subside, you are really doing the best thing for them.

You are a gem to the person hurting. Stay strong for them. It may be hard because, of course, you have your own life too. Make sure to not let this become your life. I promise you, they value your love as if their life depends on it. Because you know what it? It does.

Be the beacon of hope and light for them. They will never ever forget what you did for them as they recover. Stay strong. Thank you for all you continue to do.

Love and Light,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What's Eating Us?

We live in a world where the diet industry is a mega cash cow! The Wall Street Journal recently published a press release stating that the diet industry is currently worth $109 Billion and is expected to reach 137 billion in 2017.

At the dentist this morning, I felt bombarded by diet chit chat. The office has these fancy TVs pointing at you as they polish your smile. Commercials, news segments on the Today Show showing the latest diet trends, and celebrity banter about weight loss pointed me to write this post.

The North America Weight Loss / Obesity Management Market was worth $104 billion in the year 2012 and is expected to reach $139.5 billion by 2017. U.S. is the largest market, followed by Canada. The market will grow at a healthy pace in the next five years due to the increasing number of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiac problems, increasing personal disposable income, government initiatives to increase awareness of health and fitness, and technological advancements.

This market includes: commercial diets such as Weight Watchers, weight loss surgery, pills, wellness plans, nutritional counseling, diet foods, books and yes diet soda. One of the companies highlighted as a big diet industry player is Coca-Cola. (And pepsi too.)

As a recovered anorexic, I have passion to understand why we use food (or lack thereof in an anorexic's case) to numb out, pig out, or tune out our hard emotions. Food is a legalized drug.

No diet book, surgery, calorie counting, restricting, gluten free, fat free, sugar free, low sodium food item is going to solve your weighty woes.

The hard work starts with the 'ol noggin.

The food is not the problem. It's the symptom.

What is going on in your life that you want to restrict or overeat? Are any of your important relationships suffering? Are you in a job you dislike? Is your house a mess and full of clutter? Are you holding onto resentment? Are you holding a grudge? Are you scared to be who you were meant to be?

You see it time and time again. Even with me, I tried to heal anorexia by eating again. Sure, I thought, I will gain back the weight, eat some foods I had been avoiding, and exercise moderately. It worked for awhile and then I relapsed...back to my old ways. I did not work on what was eating me. For others, they go on a crazy exercise regimen, eat high protein foods, drop weight and then six months later, they are back to their old size. You gotta fix the inside too! It's not just an outside job.

I dug deep to the pit of my soul to heal anorexia. And it took A LOT of tries. It is still an inside job I take seriously day by day.

Any of you suffering with an eating disorder (binging, emotional eating, anorexia, obesity, restricting, overexercising, bulimia), I want you to know three things.

1. No diet will ever work. No fat burners, prescription drugs, prepackaged diet foods will solve your unhealthy relationship with food. Start today with sitting quietly for one minute. One. Ask yourself, this question, what is Eating me? What is one thing I can let go of today that will free me from this prison of treating myself poorly? It may be very emotional. Believe me its heavy stuff. Why do you reach for the 7th cookie? What are you avoiding or stuffing? Why do you look in the mirror and hate what you see? A therapist may help. Talk to a trusted friend. Journal it out.

2. Watch a healthy person eat and move. Do you know someone who exercises moderately, is at a healthy weight, and eats what they want? I am pretty sure they do not calorie count, exercise for two hours a day, and eat a box of chocolates at ten o'clock at night. They listen to their bodies. They don't worry while they are eating, "is this gonna make me fat? I shouldn't be eating this!, (blah blah mind chatter)I really think the best advice is eat real food (i.e., no food label on it) and enjoy some junk food when you feel like indulging but be sensible. Catch yourself eating too much and go distract yourself with your favorite hobby or have some fun with your favorite pal.

3. From the bottom of my heart, I want you to know this: You are full of possibility. You are full of courage. You are full of love. Set all of that on fire today and make just one person's day with your words or actions. I promise it will change your day. :) And your life!

I don't have the answers and either does the diet industry or the government. There is no magic pill.

Anyone I have ever known who has ever successfully recovered from depression, an addiction, divorce, eating disorder, being overweight has done it through loving themselves enough to do the hard work of healing emotional wounds and surrounding themselves with a great support team of unconditional loving people. Do the work, keep the faith, and keep your circle tight with loving caring pals.

Save your money and love yourself inside and out.

Love and Light,

Monday, June 24, 2013

Puppy Day One: God is Dog Spelled Backwards

Since last year, we have been telling our daughters that we will get a puppy at the end of the school year. The heavy badgering/nagging/questioning began in February and then we said Easter to bump it up a bit. At Easter, it didn't feel right so we told them a new puppy would be their summer gift/job! We kept to our promise and our baby boy was delivered to us on June 23rd, his adoption day!

Meet Bubble....

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”
― Charles M. Schulz

He was the runt of the litter and the only pup that would come to us. He picked us. The breeder chose the name because he was small and delicate. The name has sorta stuck, especially to two 7 and 6 year old girls!

The girls are off to their first day of camp today so it's me and Bubby navigating his first day together.

Here I go: I can't help but feel I am in the presence of an angel when I am with our new pup. My dear friend, Jen, reminded me, when my dog, Sadie, died last year, "Dog is God spelled backwards." Sadie was a companion throughout my ups and downs. Always by my side. Leaned in with a gentle nudge when my heart felt heavy and my tears were flowing.

I knew I always wanted another dog after she died but I wasn't sure when.

Today happens to be my birthday. What a gift! I heard you, Universe! :)

As I watch the little pup today, I can't help be what reminded of what dogs teach us:

1. Unconditional love: Doesn't matter what kind of day you are having, what mood you are in, what time it is, a dog is there to give a gentle nuzzle, stay by your side and in some cases like my first dog, Puffin, used to do... lick my tears away. Whose the first one to greet you when you come in the door?

2. Forgiveness: If you forget to take them out, go for that daily walk, get angry with its behavior, dogs don't hold grudges. They let it go and they are on to the next fun thing. They forgive and forget and move on. They love you and serve you all day long.

3. Joy: This pup is pouncing now and thinks everything is fascinating. It's a joy to watch him experience joy. He looked up at the sky this morning as to say, "Thank God for this day!" Their life is simple and they love it!

4. Gratitude: Every hug, kiss, belly rub, tickle, our playful romp in the grass is graciously received. They express gratitude everyday by the simple wag of the tail. That alone tells us enough.

We are human and we are meant to experience discomfort, stress, contrast, and sadness, among other things. But, a dog, is inspirational. They are little angel fairies on Earth giving us cues and hints on how life is meant to be lived. I can't help but think that God spells dog backwards is no coincidence. I really feel like God is with me today. It is a soothing, comforting feeling. This experience also has deepened my faith to know God is always with us, through love.

Will I be saying this tomorrow when he has eaten the heel off my shoe, or chewed through my kitchen chairs? :) Yeah, I'll get over it.

Well, I guess I will take it day by day. That's all we can ever do.

Day by day.

Today, I chose to enjoy my birthday with my new forever friend.

Have a great day everyone.

Love & Light,


“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.”
― Milan Kundera

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I struggled with anorexia for a decade...

I struggled with anorexia for a decade.

I really struggled with who I was for a decade.

You see, I wanted every single person I met to like me. Every single one. Now I know that is simply not possible.

So I would change who I was for the people I was around. Ahh, yes shallow. Yes. The ones who saw through that and stuck around long enough got to see the real Jensy, the authentic Jensy.

In all that confusion of who I was, I developed an eating disorder to gain some sort of control in my life. I felt so confused all the time. So uneasy. I began to slowly commit emotional suicide that manifested on the outside. I weighed eight nine pounds at anorexia's height. And I still felt confused but now scared and lonely.

I recently came upon a book called "Ask and It is Given" By Esther and Jerry Hicks. It's a book about the Law of Attraction. I can't fully teach you what it details because its lengthy but if I had to come up with a summary of the book it would be: "Choose to be Happy. Choose better feeling thoughts moment to moment." I wish I would have read this book when I battled anorexia!

According to Hicks, ANY emotion/thought is better than depression. They included an emotional scale in their book that helps you work from feeling bad to feeling better about whatever you are experiencing. Find where you are emotionally on the scale, and then try and find thoughts that feel just a tad bit better about it. You take small steps or make tiny shifts toward joy.

You can't go from the pits of hell straight into love, optimism, appreciation, joy, etc. in an instant. There is a process. Mine was a decade long process but yours doesn't have to be if your struggling with any sort of eating disorder, grief, loss, depression, breakup/divorce etc.

You start where you are and choose everyday to be better.

Their theory here is if you are at #22(Depression) as I was for so long, you can soften the depression by going up the scale toward 1. You may skip a few here and there but you can never go straight to one. So choosing a thought/emotion that is #20 Jealousy, you are doing a little better.

Let me give you my example to be more clear.

I was at #22 (Depression) when I was anorexic. I said things to myself like "I am stupid, I am ugly, no one cares about me. I hate who I am." (Just writing this makes me wanna cry and hug that Jensy.) I would jump from #21(Insecurity) to #17 (Anger) and back again never really getting above a #9. (Pessimism) I lived in the higher numbered emotions for so long, I set up shop, ate, drank and slept there.

Then I woke up. I awakened. A passage into motherhood can sometimes do that to ya!

I know now that I had to spend some time in the emotions 22-8 to get some clarity. I wanted so desperately to be at #1 (Joy/Freedom). We all want to be #1. But the only way we can get to #1 is by doing the following three things:


Everyday we have choice. It can be better than yesterday. Or not. Setbacks are inevitable but you can train yourself everyday to get back up.

The Awakening happened when I became content (#7) with my life. I started to notice all the wonderful things in my life instead of focusing on what was not so great. Then as my body slowly came back to a healthy weight I started to become more hopeful (#6). I wasn't upset with the way I looked and felt comfortable with my food choices. Yes, there were a ton of days where I felt anger(#17) or rage (#19) but after my Awakening I was able to have Hope (#6) that things would be okay. Appreciation (#1)for my life started to happen more often and Empowerment (#1) came in writing my first book a few years later.

So you see its a process. Overcoming any adversity is a process. You wake up every morning knowing that if you are patient, put in the hard work (in my case the hard work was relentless research, a lot of therapy, overcoming fears around food, overcoming the fear of being myself and surrendering) and finally, COMMITMENT to RECOVERY despite any obstacle, then you are on your way to sustainable happiness and freedom from any despair.

What are your thoughts about Hicks' emotional scale. Can this help soften anything you are struggling with right now?

I would love to hear about it! Visit my Facebook page: Your Wide Awakening and post it in the comments.

Love & Light,


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Just Beat a Pillow!

It was a calm, cool Tuesday night. We had just got home from piano practice. Tuesdays are our most hectic nights because both daughters have extra activities after school. Piano, dinner, dance, bath, story, prayers, bed. In that order, with no downtime!

During my oldest daughter's dance class, my youngest and I take a nature walk or go for a dollar store run near the studio. It is a nice time to bond with my youngest.

As we are getting ready to head out the door for dance, one of daughters proceeds to kick (hard!) not once, but twice my other daughters shin! I watched the whole thing as their backs were turned to me. I couldn't believe my eyes. What was THAT?!

I said, "No way we are going anywhere today, no nature walk, no dollar store goodies, nothing!" I am pretty sure real smoke came out of my nostrils, ears, and mouth. I felt sort of possessed! The shock was all to much to handle.

I could not fathom that this was for no reason. It was a straight up Nancy Kerrigan style assault. No one saw it coming! There is nothing worse than getting nailed in the shin. Apparently, we need to wear our soccer shin guards not just on the soccer field but in the house too.

So I dropped my daughter off in front of the studio and my other daughter and I headed back home.

I couldn't shake the anger. I didn't feel like playing or drawing or doing crafts with her. I was mad.

She definitely learned her lesson because she treasures Tuesday nights. We always come home with a smile on our faces and a yo-yo, spinning lollipop or {insert some other dollar store item here}

I got home and I was still seething. My healthy stress response skills were not working. Deep breaths, pacing the house, "everything happens for a reason" Mantras, etc.

Nope, not working.

Through my research about stress and watching others experiencing stress, especially children, I resorted to the Pillow.

Not this pillow, although I own this one myself, and love the idea. But no carrot cake cupcake with delectable cream cheese frosting could calm this Mommy.

I grabbed the Pillow from the back cushion on the couch. The pillow your kids strip off the couch and make forts out of. The pillow that is BIG and Firm. The pillow that was ready to get a beat down. FROM ME, MOMMY ON FIRE!

Now if you can imagine, It was hilarious to witness but boy, did it work.

I took it off the back of the couch, laid it on the sofa and went at it! BOOM BOOM WHACK! My daughter watched me carefully.

I knew she was feeling her own self-punishment, anger, etc. so I invited her to take a whack. She hit it harder than me. She had some serious emotion built up in her!

Then what came next was a fit of belly laughter. Both of us giggled as we fell to the floor in pure relief! The laughter proceeded a deep, emotional, CALM discussion with her about how we do not ever hit another person. There was no yelling but an effective conversation where both parties were calm and receptive to a solution. We both felt sooooooooooo much better. We moved toward a solution to prevent further outbursts of kicking.

“Focus 90% of your time on solutions and only 10% of your time on problems." - Anthony J. D'Angelo

From all the yoga I have done, I have learned, sometimes, we need the emotion to move through us. When we are in certain poses, emotional healing can occur as we physically open our chests with heart openers or balancing poses or any posture for that matter. As another example, many lift weights at the gym to get their anger/stress out as a healthy coping mechanism. Throwing heavy weights around feels great! Boxing is awesome too. I love to kickbox my stress away! Suppressed anger can lead to stress, frustration, worry, and isolation. Bottling up angry feelings has been shown to cause numerous physical complications resulting from stress. Some research has even demonstrated a link between anger and depression. You gotta feel to heal it!

Have you ever seen a toddler throw a temper tantrum? They flail around, hitting the floor, throwing things, scream, cry, run around, etc.? They are practicing a stress response to move their frustration out of their bodies. For the most part, not five minutes later, they are happy little bugs, on to something different enjoying themselves.

As they mature and learn new coping mechanisms to stress, the tantrums tend to arise less and less. I hope I taught my daughter not to use her anger on someone but to get it out through a healthier way. Pillow bashing, jumping on a trampoline, deep breaths (They like the inhale, exhale version from the American Girl Movie, "McKenna Shoots for the Stars". Her mantra is "Blue skies in" on the inhale and "Grey skies out"on the exhale when she feels stress)

Hey, YOU, don't knock it til you try it. I totally use it too!

If the "McKenna Mantra" ain't working, grab a pillow and punch away. I promise you will feel better and on your way to a perfect solution to what's bothering you.

Love & Light,

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Let it gooooooooooo....

I finished my first manuscript.

I finally let it go.

As a recovering perfectionist, it's hard to let go. As my faith has strengthened, it has gotten easier and easier to let it go. Before, I would hold on to that grudge, that mistake, those hurtful words. For days. Ouch. It's like I got stung by a bee and left the stinger in. For a long time.

So I hit Send and off to the publisher, it went. Did you hear my sigh of relief?

Have you ever held on to something for too long for fear of the unknown? What would happen if you finally let it go? That relationship? Those hurtful words someone said to you? The idea of something better, different? Oh, Fear. Hi, how ya doing?

When I sent the manuscript into virtual space, I thought to myself, "Let it go, we've got this, let's just wing it from here!" What in the H-E- double hockey sticks is this lovely piece of work gonna do sitting here, collecting dust, making small changes here and there in my documents file? I would just nitpick it until I was six feet under. Seriously.

My faith brings me to a place where it will all work out for the best in the end. I believe this for all of us. I know I want to make a change in my life, I want to help other people, and use the gifts and talents God gave me. I know, too, that to make positive shifts in my life, I gotta get uncomfortable and just enjoy the ride good and bad.

It was hard for me to send the document. I face the fear of criticism, self-doubt, the unknown. Someone told me a long time ago, "when you surrender to what you know in your heart to be true for you, you surrender to you. You give yourself the gift of you."

What they didn't tell me it would be so hard. So scary. So difficult.

As I listen to the wisdom of my soul, I hear it. I hear that worrying is a waste of time. I hear that I am doing my best and following my heart. It rests in the Universe's hands...

Are you listening to your soul's wisdom? Are you letting go of something and then having the faith to "wing it" from there? I would love to hear about it!

Join me! Let's "let it gooooo" together!

Love & Light,

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quality vs. Quantity.

The other day I was pouring over my Facebook news feed riddled with health articles like “How to lengthen your life” or news stories sprinkled with the latest on chia seeds, goji berries, chlorella, cacoa nibs - “the new super foods that will help you live longer!”

That's all great, and I am all FOR living our "best" life, but something else struck a chord with me.

“Who” told us that if we live the longest life that we will have the best life? The question I ask myself is, What if a 90 year old man just muddled through life with little purpose, little gratitude for this life? Maybe he lived a life of aches and pains, never really with vibrant health, or passionate about serving others. No deep and meaningful relationships in his life. Complained a lot and existed to exist. Does that mean he lived a “great” life because we as a society believe that since he lived to a “Life expectancy” age deemed by the medical world, that his life was rich and whole. Isn’t a day filled with health, love, gratitude and service a day well spent or is it a day complaining and stomping our feet at the unfairness of life?

"You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. But you can decide how you’re going to live now." -Joan Baez

Enter Mattie Stepanek.

Matty Stepanek was a poet, best-selling author, peacemaker, and motivational speaker who suffered from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, He died a month before his 14th birthday. His sister and two brothers also died from the disease during early childhood. He appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show numerous times, leaving our hearts full with his nuggets of wisdom and in awe of his sweet sincerity. He was a big, BIG soul living in a small child’s body.

He popped into my mind because I thought, well, didn’t he live a full life? Didn’t he serve his purpose to inspire the world to do better, be better, and live with passion? Who says that because he didn’t have children or his mom didn’t get him for a while longer that we should mourn his death and not celebrate his life? Of course, we mourn, and we cry and we get sad when a person leaves this Earth. We must feel that loss because its BIG. The world misses him but I know he has planted little seeds all around the WORLD, just take a look at his website! He has inspired so many to spread peace, love and kindness. What a grand legacy!

I think the former president, Jimmy Carter said it best in his eulogy to Mattie.

“He was concerned about his legacy, wanting to have seven children and talking about his grandchildren, but Mattie's legacy is forever because his Heartsongs will resonate in the hearts of people forever. I thank God that he is no longer suffering and that he's with the Prince of Peace, getting big hugs in Heaven and maybe wearing a tuxedo.” Pres. Jimmy Carter (June 28, 2004)

Whenever I watch an old clip of him, my heart bursts wide open and inspires me to be a better person. Always. I love his cheerful little smile and his GIANT Spirit.

He said, “Our Heartsong is our reason for being.  If you want to understand what a Heartsong is, think about what matters most to you.  What do you want?  What do you need?  Not a toy, not a thing, but what do you, as a human being need?  You understand why that matters?  That’s what you are called to offer other people.  That is your Heartsong.  You should share that through something you enjoy, something that you are good at.” - Mattie Stepanek

Yes, he said that. And wrote SEVEN best selling books filled with this kind of wisdom!

"I really think I am here for a purpose.  In my life, I have had so many times that I came close to dying.  Even if it takes 100 or 1,000 years, I have to do what I was meant to do." - Mattie Stepanek

My faith may differ from the norm. And maybe its the optimist part of me. To me and like Mattie, God, puts each and everyone of us on the planet for a specific purpose. It may be for a moment, a season, or a “lifetime” that we spend on this Earth. I believe God uses us to grow and learn from one another by allowing us to use our special, unique GIVEN AT BIRTH talents and gifts to make the world better, brighter, sillier, and a more enjoyable place.

To Mattie, he was grateful for each day he had here. He spent his days inspiring others with his poetry, spreading his peace message, and instilling hope to those who need may need it.

He never said, “why me?” he said “why not me?” He was so focused on living his “Heartsong” everyday that he didn’t have much time to complain. He did mention that he was human and of course he got mad, sad, and angry. He had lost all three of his siblings in his short life! He was a “spiritual being living a human experience” as the great Dr. Wayne Dyer says. He got that. All before the AGE OF FOURTEEN!

Here is one of my favorite poems of his...


I have a song, deep in my heart,
And only I can hear it
If I close my eyes and sit very still
Even when the going gets rough.
It is so easy to listen to my song.
When my eyes are open and
I am so busy and moving and busy,
If I take time and listen very hard,
I can still hear my Heartsong.
It makes me feel happy.
Happier than ever.
Happier then everywhere
And everything and everyone
In the whole wide world.
Happy like thinking about
Going to Heaven when I die.
My Heartsong sounds like this-
I love you! I love you!
How happy you can be!
How happy you can make
This world be!
And sometimes it's other
Tunes and words, too.
But it always sings the
Same special feeling to me.
It makes me think of
Jamie, and Katie, and Stevie,
And other wonderful things.
This is my special song.
But do you know what?
All people have a special song
Inside their hearts!
Everyone in the whole wide world
Has a special Heartsong.
If you believe in magical, musical hearts,
And if you believe you can be happy,
Then you, too, will hear you song.

Fold that up, bottle it, file it away in your heart. Its a keeper. Rest in Peace, little guy.

So which is it, is it the years in your life that count or is it the life in your years??? Quality vs. Quantity?

And always remember this:

"You were born to greatness. Having a life mission implies that that world has need of you. In fact, the world has been preparing you to fill this need with one incredible life experience after another. Finding and fulfilling your potential will lead you to your highest experience in this life. Believe it, you have a mission. It is the gateway to your personal greatness."
Greg Anderson

Love & Light,

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I fell off the treadmill...

I fell off the proverbial

Yes, I did. Hard, yet almost in slow motion.

I have been a 5 times per week or more workout junkie for over 15 years. Plenty active. I started in college and never turned back until about...

A year ago!

Yep, me, I sure did. I wouldn’t say I altogether quit being active, Yoga is still a huge priority for me. But, the consistency was way, way WAAAAY off.

I can’t really give a reason why I stopped. I guess the more I got further away from the last workout, the more I forgot about the endorphins, the rush, the dewy flushed skin, the muscle tone and definition, the energy, and the health. Other things became priority: my kids’ schedule got more hectic, sleep became more important, friendships grew, my diet changed, and quite frankly I was burnt out.

My body got a well deserved break.

A year long sabbatical. 365 days or more.

The other day I was playing around with my girls and started to pump out a few pushups with them. The old Jensy could drop and do 20 (noooo not the girly ones, the real ones) without batting an eye. Today, I could barely do FIVE. FIVE. Huh? OMG!

The last straw was last Sunday when I was getting ready for church. I went to put on nice pants to wear. A little snug, if you will, but I blamed it on a pizza party from the day before. You know, the sodium. Not the fourth piece of pie. Right. Sure. :) I bent down to put my shoes on and I heard a pop! POP!

I JUST POPPED A BUTTON! Flew right off and fell to the carpet! And then I fell to the ground. :-)

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was quite funny to me at then time, but then reality set in. I beat myself up for a bit. Then, detailed a plan of attack! There is no chance I am buying new clothes! It doesn’t take me much to get a plan into action because of my Type A personality so that night I set out on the elliptical and the gym that Monday morning.

I joined a new gym. Its the local community recreation center complete with racquetball courts, basketball courts, pool, and good old fashioned weights and treadmills. No meat market here with Muscle Milk guzzlers and Jazzercise Janes. So far, I am the youngest person I have seen there. And quite frankly, its pretty inspiring. Men and women into their late 80’s are speed walking on the treadmill, hitting the bikes, and doing water aerobics in the pool. I keep to myself with my headphones on hitting the weights and pounding out miles on the treadmill. I am pretty self-disciplined with my training so this totally works for me.

But its hard to hop back on that treadmill.

Now I see how darn hard I had to work to compete in fitness. I can’t believe I thought this body was easy to achieve at the time.

I am so deconditioned only after a year.

But what’s so great about this, is that I am a newbie all over again. I feel like I can give better advice to people just starting out a workout regimen. Before, it was all too easy for me to just tell people to start. So in the last few weeks this is what I have learned.

1. Start somewhere. It doesn’t matter how long, what type of movement, what intensity. Just do what you can do, today. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you hit the pavement or the weights. We have all been a beginner at some point in our lives so you are not alone. Do 5 minutes of physical activity. Do 10. Do something!

2. Make appointments for your daily physical activity. If you don’t pencil it in or schedule it, it will most likely never happen. Life happens, kids get sick, its snows, you forget that you promised a date with your best friend, etc.

3. Eat that Frog at 5am : An old saying is that "If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long!" Your "FROG" is the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don't do something about it now! So my workouts are early and then its not hanging over my head to get done all day!

4. Track your progress: They are so many applications on smart phones that do that for you. This keeps me motivated and helps me see my workout are working! I love the Nike TRaining Club app, the Couch to 5k app and the 5k to 10k app!

5. Reward yourself: Nope, not with a brownie sundae! A new workout outfit, brand new seasonal top or a nice pat on the back. You deserve rewards for sticking with it, acknowleging your self worth and making your health a priority!

So, the weather is starting to warm up, the days are getting longer and my health and fitness is back on track. If you are just starting out your "spring Training", stick with it! I Will be right there with ya! This time, no more sabbaticals for me. I can't believe how much energy and vibrancy I feel in just a few short weeks. The key is to never fall off that treadmill for too long. Hop right back on and keep that momentum!!

Love & Light,

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Treasured Friendship

Have you ever been blessed to know someone that has changed your life forever?

I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet to have had a friend like Jennifer Gambardella Puglise. A wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, cousin, niece, granddaughter, aunt. An Ambassador of Hope, an amazing pilates and aerobics instructor, a tireless volunteer, thrift shopping queen, fabulous cook and impeccable cleaner, supreme craft woman, classy dresser, and my soul sister and Life Partner-in-Crime. One of my best friends. Jen...

Jen passed away on February 14, 2013 at 9:36pm after just under a 6 year battle with stage 4 colon cancer. She was only 36 years old. To say our hearts are broken, is putting it mildly. She leaves behind her husband and 7 year old son, her parents, sisters and brother and so many loving family members and dear friends.

I met Jen at a Moms' Night Out Dinner in 2009. We immediately clicked as we found out that I went to high school with her husband. We decided to spend more time together and met for coffee and tea over the next few days. I also knew about her because I was inspired by her cancer journey. She was the girl at the gym in the group exercise classes going through chemotherapy fighting cancer and living with courage and determination! Wow, it was so inspiring to see a young woman kicking ass in a kickboxing class while going through grueling treatment. She brought energy and inspiration to those around her.

All. The. Time.

I believe we became friends to teach each other about Life's mysteries. The Universe has a funny way of matching souls up to grow and make each other better. Boy, am I grateful for her Life! She taught me about the fragility of life. The treasures. The celebrations. Helped me a grow into a better mother, wife, sister, friend. She taught me to not care what others think. (I now wear my moms fur rabbit coat out of her insistence!) She also taught me courage, preserverance, bravery, unconditional love, hope and faith through her journey with cancer.

(one of many occasions her closest friends spent together celebrating her Life.)

You can't get that kind of education from school. You learn that by being loving and by being loved. Being vulnerable to all of life's ups and downs together. And keeping the friendship strong through all of that!

This summer, I repainted a table and now use it as my coffee table. I stenciled two words on it, Hope & Faith. At the time, I thought nothing of it. When I sent Jen the picture, she replied, "oh hope is me and you are faith!" She couldn't have been more right.

You see, as a cancer patient, Jen lived with hope and inspired others to have hope too. She thrived with cancer. Yes there were many surgeries, many disappointing scans, ER visits, doctor visits, and painful and emotional days. Yet, Her Hope stayed with her throughout her journey. As her friend, we talked about faith a lot, believing in God, having a plan and purpose and believing that everything happens for a reason. Even Cancer. Even Diseases. Even broken relationships. Our Faith grew as our friendship grew.

Last September, we attended a personal development conference together. Despite Cancer, she was always working on being a better person, more loving, more forgiving, and a more enlightened gal. She definitely achieved that! She had a huge support system of family, friends and a community that had her back throughout all of this! She is so loved. So special.

(Enjoying chats, lots of meals, and soaking up love.)

One of the things I loved that she often said was that she was an Outlier. When she said that, she was referring to conquering cancer. That she was different. That she would beat it and thrive! Now, I see what it really meant.

She was an outlier because she was one of a kind. You don't meet too many people that are like Jen. She was full of Jersey sass but had a heart of gold. She was an extraordinary mother that made her boy feel special everyday with her lunch notes, special mailbox outside his room filled with daily love letters, fun adventures, and lots of kisses, hugs and cuddles. She was a dedicated friend, even on days she was feeling ill, she was at your kids party or coming over for a much needed chat. She was a loving sister, sharing the joys of their new families and treating her nephew as he was her own! She was a great wife, providing for the family even when she was so sick by making sure there was food on the table and to make home life as normal as it possibly could be. Thinking of others before herself was a common theme throughout her life. She had a uncanny way of making you laugh out loud with her witty comebacks and one liners. Jen was never afraid to make fun of herself. We both shared a common trait in our childhood - the curse of thick glasses and braces during the awkward years. We would compare stories and laugh like crazy! She told you like it was - her tough love came with no malice only to help you do better. Be better.

Without our deep talks about Faith, I am not so sure I would get out of bed through this loss.

Jen was a great gift giver. I have so many treasures around my house that she gave to me. Pictures, books, wreaths, jewelry, cards, notes, inspirational items fill my home and my heart. One of the most treasured gifts I received was: THE WISH BOX.

When we went to the conference in September we were inspired by these wish boxes an artist had for sale at the show. These boxes hold your dreams, thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement and gratitude. We decided not to purchase one. To my surprise a few weeks later, Jen made one for ME with her crafty little hands! To say I was touched when I received it is an understatement. But, to top it all off, she made one of for each of my daughters. They were overcome with joy when they received one of their own from their special mommy friend! And custom designed for each of our personalities and favorite colors!

(Jen's beautiful craftsmanship and love was poured into these boxes! )

At Thanksgiving, this past year, my box was part of the centerpiece at the family table. Each one of us wrote down all of the things we were grateful for and put it in the box. When I go to put a note in there, I now always include Jen as one of the people I am most grateful for in my life.

I will never be the same since knowing her.

I am better. She made me better.

I will miss her physical presence through our laughs, chats, tears, joys. I will miss the everyday check-ins. I will miss our shopping excursions, Qdoba lunches, mommy and kids dates, Halloween trick or treating, holiday parties, birthday parties, family bowling dates, movie dates, girls night out gatherings. I will miss her hug and her smile. Her laugh! But all of that remains in my heart. I treasure the time we did have together and am grateful for every SINGLE second.

I love you my dear friend. I miss you already.

"Try to never miss the opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you." ~Positively Positive

Love and Light,