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Why It’s So Hard to Just Rest and Why We Need to Do It

“If you don’t give your mind and body a break, you’ll break. Stop pushing yourself through pain and exhaustion and take care of your needs.” ~Lori Deschene

In November of 2021, my autoimmune issues flared up. My doctor and I are still unsure which of my conditions—rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia—was the culprit, or if they were acting in cahoots, but the overall achiness and debilitating fatigue were a solid indication that something was more active than usual.

I woke up tired, needed naps, and often ran out of spoons—a phrase familiar to many with chronic condition, based on a gorgeous …

HumanKind: The Inspiring, Uplifting Book We All Need to Read (Giveaway!)

A while back I shared a quote by an unknown author that reads:

“You know who’s going through a lot right now? Literally everyone. Just be kind.”

It got me thinking about all the struggles we assume other people don’t have—because we’d never guess from the looks of them.

You’d never guess that your confident colleague struggles with PTSD from childhood abuse and neglect.

You’d never guess that your boisterous brother-in-law beats himself up because he doesn’t earn enough to get his family out of debt.

You’d never guess that your collected cousin cries in the bathroom every day because …

4 Simple, Heart-Opening Exercises to Fill You with Joy, Love, and Light

“Why are you so enchanted by this world, when a mine of gold lies within you?” ~Rumi

Happiness, love, and joy—we spend our lives in search of them. We often look to external things to fulfill our desire to experience them. A relationship, a trip abroad, a career, or maybe that shiny new car. We can spend our lives chasing these desires and believing that once we check everything off our list of life accomplishments, we will experience them all.

But what if I shared with you that all of this—happiness, love, and joy—exists in you right now? That …

7 Lessons That May Help You Find a Fulfilling Long-Term Relationship

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha

“You’re not in love with me, you’re in love with the idea of being in love.”

Ouch!

Kate (not her real name) and I had met online before Internet dating websites—let alone apps—were even a thing, and ours was a long-distance relationship.

I was twenty-four, and she was twenty-three.

Initially bonding over our favorite musical artists, we soon found ourselves sharing all kinds of personal stuff with each other—first over AOL Instant Messenger, and then via countless hours on the telephone.

I remember being …

The One Thing You Need to Make the Best Decisions for You

“If you are not living your truth, you are living a lie.” ~Joseph Curiale

Her sobs break my heart. We have all been there. When the relationship starts feeling like a war-torn city as opposed to home.

I close in for a hug. “You can’t go on like this,” I whisper.

“Well, I don’t know what to do. Please don’t tell me to break up,” she looks up pleadingly. “I can’t do it. I won’t be able to bear it. I am not as strong as you.”

A familiar musical refrain from Tina Turner comes to mind albeit with …

What Is Stress-Induced Illness? How Trauma Can Cause Physical Pain

“Wisdom is merely the movement from fighting life to embracing it.” ~Rasheed Ogunlaru

Three years ago, I fell into the blind spot of medicine: America’s unknown epidemic.

After numerous tests, scans, scopes, and too many doctors to count, modern medicine could not find anything seriously wrong with me. I also consented to have my gallbladder removed. My first and only surgery at age forty, an “experiment” of sorts.

Six months into the worst nightmare of my life, my spiraling health started to take a huge toll on me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I didn’t want to live anymore, but …

You’re Invited: FREE Wisdom of Pema Chödrön Online Summit

Hi friends. I know that many within the community are grappling with uncertainty right now—as really, we always are—and I also know how terrifying it can feel to embrace not knowing. Whether you’re dealing with health issues, unemployment, or relationship struggles, the question of what’s going to happen can keep you up at night. And then there’s the uncertainty in the world at large.

When we’re overwhelmed by groundlessness and fear, it can feel like we’re free-falling with nothing to hold onto. In those moments of panic, we search for something, anything, to help us calm the voice within and …

Why Other People’s Comments Hurt Us and How to Let Them Go

“It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.” ~Tony Robbins

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Wow. That one takes me waaay back. All the way to the elementary school playground. A place where I attempted to use it as a shield. As juvenile as this saying is, I would search for comfort in its words for years to come.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how old we get. It’s good to feel a part of something, to be understood, and …

How to Thrive in Life after Surviving Cancer

“Have a little faith in your ability to handle whatever’s coming down the road. Believe that you have the strength and resourcefulness required to tackle whatever challenges come your way. And know that you always have the capacity to make the best of anything. Even if you didn’t want it or ask for it, even if it seems scary or hard or unfair, you can make something good of any loss or hardship. You can learn from it, grow from it, help others through it, and maybe even thrive because of it. The future is unknown, but you can know

Mindfulness, Creativity, and Nature: A Healing Trifecta for Lasting Peace

“It is the marriage of the soul with nature that gives birth to imagination.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Before my accident, before we had kids, after we divorced, after my father died from Covid, before the pandemic…

We tend to divide our lives into the before and afters that define our world, whether personally or on a grand scale. These divisions offer context, providing a kind of roadmap that supports us in reflecting on the beauty and darkness, the decisions we made, and who we might be if certain things had never occurred.

I have always believed that the only reason …

How I Overcame Shame from Sexual Assault and Began to Love Myself

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

It was Saturday, August 29th, 2020, when I admitted to myself, for the very first time, that I was a victim of sexual assault as a child.

Twenty-five years of complete denial that this ever happened, and suddenly all I could think of was the fact that my innocence was taken at the age of five. “Why now?” I wondered. “Why does it suddenly matter? Was I so resentful of my trauma that I denied its existence altogether?”

Between the ages of …

Obsessed with Healthy Eating? 9 Things I’ve Learned Since Recovering from Orthorexia

“Sending love to everyone who’s doing their best to heal from things they don’t discuss.” ~Unknown

I used to obsess over healthy eating, and I mean OB-SESSSSS. I spent virtually every waking moment thinking about food. What should I eat today? Is there too much sugar in that? What will I eat when we go out next week? Should I claim that I’m allergic to gluten?

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was suffering from orthorexia (that is, an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating). Yes, I fully agree that eating nutritious food is good for you—there’s few …

The Two Sides of Gratitude: When It Helps Us and When It Hurts Us

“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” ~Shauna Niequist

Imagine if you had a tool that, with no effort or change on your part, could cast a glow around you, exposing hidden gems within your everyday life.

You do! It’s called gratitude.

It has the power to light your way through tough times. And it can multiply the good. Of the many tools I use daily, I love gratitude the most. It is so simple to implement and immediately effective. It’s a powerful way to change the world—through …

Why I Never Let Anyone Support Me Until the Day I Almost Died

“Why don’t you get up and make the coffee, while I stay in my sleeping bag and plan our ascent route?” I half-heartedly ask my climbing partner Hank.

He just looks at me with that unassuming, “give-me-a-break Val Jon” look of his. It’s three o’clock in the morning, cold, dark, and damp, and neither of us wants to leave the comfort of our tent. But we’re committed to this climb, so we don our parkas and gloves and confront the bitter cold.

In silence, Hank and I gather up our gear and join the rest of our climb team assembled …

The False Comfort of Having More: Finding Peace in Living with Less

“Be a curator of your life. Slowly cut things out until you’re left only with what you love, with what’s necessary, with what makes you happy.” ~Leo Babauta

As a kid, I remember begging my dad to take me to Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonalds, and any other number of fast food restaurants. Their food was okay, but that’s not the main reason I went. The toys were what beckoned me.

Each chain offered different ones, some of which interested me more than others. The Mini Nintendos at Taco Bell? I was there. Assemble your own Inspector Gadget at McDonalds? Count …

You’re Bent, Not Broken: A Mindset Shift That Can Change Your Life

Bent but never broken; down but never out.” ~Annetta Ribken

I lived for a long time thinking I was broken beyond repair.

Let me rephrase: I thought I was unloved, unworthy, scarred, and broken. What a package, right?

It started young, never feeling like I was good enough for anything I did. Being the youngest of the typical modern recomposed family in the eighties, I never knew on which foot to dance and always thought I needed to bend left and right to be seen and loved.

I carried this baggage under my badge of anxiety, feeling like …

A Guide to Saying No Without Guilt: 7 Steps for People-Pleasers

“You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no.” ~Unknown

Why is it so hard to say no? The uncomfortable buildup of emotion I felt while contemplating dropping the ‘n’ word used to have me rushing around town, home, and work for the people I loved in a heartbeat.

I remember one day I was on the cusp of complete overwhelm with the responsibility of being a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and business owner. Hanging up the phone with a potential new client who was keen to work with me, I was wired. I …

Feeling Weighed Down by Regret? What Helps Me Let Go

“Be kind to past versions of yourself that didn’t know the things you know now.” ~Unknown

When I taught yoga classes in jails in Colorado and New Jersey, I would end class with the Metta Meditation:

May we all feel forgiveness.

May we all feel happiness.

May we all feel loved.

May all our sufferings be healed.

May we feel at peace.

The women, all clothed in light gray sweatpants, would be in a relaxed yoga posture, usually lying on their yoga mat with their legs up the wall. The fluorescent lights would be full blast, as they always are …

How Mindfulness Helped Me Become My Own Best Friend

“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.”  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I am not a good friend to myself. This realization shook me as I was riding the bus home one day from the local university where I taught.

This realization had been building for some time, but it struck me powerfully that day. I was teaching a summer class on Asian philosophy, and we were reading the Sayings of Buddha. We had been discussing a passage about a monk watching his feelings.

The passage …

The Chaos of Life After Loss and the Love That Never Dies

“We need to grieve the ones we’ve lost—not to sustain our connection to suffering, but to sustain our connection to love.” ~Jennifer Williamson

Ken was only forty-seven years old when he met his untimely death.

It was surreal, my brother-in-law was gone from our physical world.

As a family, we felt the motions moving through the initial telephone call summoning us to the hospital to the time we surrounded him as he took his last breath. It was if we were all caught between two worlds, one of cruel reality and one of complete disbelief. You read about it …