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When Life Gets Hard: 4 Lessons That Eased My Suffering

“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.” ~Viktor Frankl

When life goes sideways, it can be hard to take one more breath, let alone find meaning.

Trust me. I know.

In the same year, I had breast cancer, chemo, radiation, and a divorce I didn’t want. There’s more to the story (there always is), but in essence, I lost everything—my health, my love, my home.

During all of this, I lost sight of myself, quit trusting myself. I was sure I was to blame for everything.

At the same time, within twenty-four …

When You’re Becoming a New You: 3 Lessons to Help You on Your Journey

“There is no place so awake and alive as the edge of becoming.” ~Sue Monk Kidd

From a small café overlooking the boat harbor in Seward, Alaska, I looked out the window at the enormous mountain peak of Mount Alice that protruded from the earth behind rows of tour boats, sailboats, and a cruise ship large enough to carry several thousand passengers. The last few days of my summer there were coming to an end, and I reflected with gratitude on my time there.

Located directly off the Gulf of Alaska and within Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward is a …

Measuring the Quality of Your Day with a To-Be List (Not Just a To-Do List)

“Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do in life.  You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.” ~Wayne Dyer

As you crawl into bed, thump your pillow to make the perfect little cave for your head to rest in, pull the covers up tight under your chin, and let go of that big sigh that indicates the day is finished, how do you look back on the waking hours you just experienced? How do you measure the quality of your day?

Measuring Your Day by What You Do

Most of …

Forbidden Emotions: The Feelings We Suppress and Why They’re Not Bad

“The truth is that there is no such thing as a negative emotion. Emotions only become ‘bad’ and have a negative effect on us when they are suppressed, denied, or unexpressed.” ~Colin Tipping

Emotions are constantly and powerfully guiding our lives, even when we are not aware of them, even when we do not feel them or are convinced that we can exclude them from our experiences.

Emotions give us precious, sometimes indispensable information about what is best for us, about the best choices we can make, about how to behave. They give us information that we often do not …

Why I Couldn’t Find Love and What Helped Me (That Might Help You Too)

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start from where you are and change the end.” ~C.S. Lewis 

It was a dark January day in 2008 when my auntie called with the news “He did it.”

I felt so confused. “Did he try? Or did he succeed?” I asked as my body moved into shock.

“He succeeded,” she said. And in that moment my whole life changed.

This was a moment I often wished for—my dad was gone.

Dad had taken his life on January 8th, 2008, two days after my twenty-sixth birthday. He

The Profound Joy That’s Possible on the Other Side of Addiction

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~Rumi

As I stood on the doorstep of that rehab facility, I felt completely empty except for the overwhelming weight of anxiety and shame. In that moment, I wondered what all the normal people were doing today. How did they cope? And how was it that I couldn’t hack life and that things had spiraled so far down?

It’s hard to admit you have a problem. To be honest with yourself when you’ve numbed everything out for so long seems ridiculous. To …

The Vault in Our Hearts: How I’m Learning to Fill It with My Own Love

“If you don’t love yourself, you’ll always be looking for someone else to fill the void inside you, but no one will ever be able to do it.” ~Lori Deschene

This year I have fallen in and out of love. Not once, not twice, but three times.

Firstly, I fell deeply into being held, being heard, and being supported. For the first time, in a long time, I understood what it meant to be loved.

Secondly, I flew quickly into a spontaneous soul, who lit up my world and reminded me who I was.

Thirdly, I surrendered earth-shatteringly into …

Honoring Lost Loved Ones: How I Carry My Son’s Memory into the Future

“Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.” ~Mattie Stepanek

I stood over a pile of my son’s t-shirts, scissors in hand, my breath ragged. I reached for a plain, dark blue one that I didn’t remember Brendan ever wearing. My fingers trembled. The first cut would be the hardest.

I’d packed away his shirts eight years ago, within weeks after he’d died. He was only fifteen—an unbearable loss. I’d spent days washing and drying and folding his shirts …

Why I Relied on My Ego to Survive but Now Need My Soul to Thrive

“Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.” ~ Unknown

Since childhood I have been a high achiever. As a kid I was a perfectionist, driven to succeed, to be the best at what I did. I wanted to do well so that both my parents would be proud of me and love me, especially after they divorced.

At school and college I worked hard to get straight A’s. Anything less seemed like a failure to me. I was always top of my class, and I won awards. However, …

The Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself If You Want to Be More Authentic

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” ~Brené Brown

Have you ever just wanted to relax, let go, and let yourself be?

Why is this so challenging for so many? Why don’t we just live naturally and allow our authenticity to be felt, expressed, and seen?

Well, when many of us were little, being authentic was not okay, so we focused on trying to do things the “right way” according to what others had to say, because our survival was at stake. The more we did …

If You Think You Can’t Be Happy Until All Your Burdens Are Gone

“As rain falls equally on the just and the unjust, do not burden your heart with judgments but rain your kindness equally on all.”  ~Buddha

Our burdens come in many forms. They are our relationships, our responsibilities, and our pasts that haunt us from beneath our consciousness. They weigh us down and prevent us from experiencing life’s true joy.

Some people have to care for a sick family member most of their life. Some women give birth to stillborn babies. Some soldiers get their legs blown off while deployed.

My story is unextraordinary: I’m a white, middle-class woman. My life …

How Beating Cancer Helped Me Stop Being a People-Pleaser

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” ~Pema Chadron

The hardest part of hearing the words, “I’m sorry, but you have cancer” at the age of thirty was knowing I had to tell my mother and my husband.

Why?

Not because I was afraid of their reaction, although it would be especially heightened since my father had died of cancer three years prior, but because I was going to take on a role I had never experienced before: a patient.

For me, being a patient equaled being dependent. Someone who was needy and …

What Kept Me Stuck on My Ex and How I’m Breaking the Addiction

“When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you.” ~Unknown

I might be addicted to feeling good. I’m no stranger to pleasure, and I want what I want unapologetically. But there’s a conflict that arises when one of the things I want is distracting me from having an even bigger thing I want.

My story is so common, it’s almost cliché.

Man and woman meet on Tinder. They are both vague enough about what they want that they dive in without really knowing where it will go. They develop trust, intimacy, …

Why Rest is the Ultimate Protective Gear in a Busy, Chaotic World

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” ~Sydney J. Harris

No matter what airline you fly, there are safety instructions at the start of every flight that the flight crew goes over with everyone on the plane.

The important ones are also listed out on a card or brochure located in the seat back pocket in front of you. Besides letting you know where the exits are, there is always some version of the following statement: “In the event of a change in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will automatically drop from the ceiling. Put your …

How I Stopped Arguing with People in My Head and Cultivated Calm

“Thoughts fuel emotions. If you don’t like what you’re feeling, step back and examine what you’re thinking. Pain is inevitable, but you’ll suffer a lot less if you disengage from your thoughts.” ~Lori Deschene

The warm droplets from the shower are bouncing off my skin. I could be relishing in the warmth. I could be exhilarated by the cleansing power of this precious water.

Instead, I am entranced by an argument.

I’m animated and tense. Gesticulating wildly and frowning.

In the shower.

There’s no one else there. I’m not shouting or even speaking out loud. This is all happening in …

How to Cope with a Toxic and Estranged Family Relationship

“Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be.” ~Unknown

You two are family. Maybe you grew up with them and were by their side for a huge chunk of their life. There was a lot of laughing, crying, and sharing. Some fighting too.

You know how their brain works probably better than anyone else. But sometimes, in adulthood, those closest to you can become unrecognizable—estranged, cold, and careless. For no apparent reason, you find yourself shut out of their life. Your peace-feelers are increasingly rejected. You’ve been left out in the cold.…

How Accepting That We’re Ordinary Opens Us Up to Love

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” ~C.S. Lewis

I was talking to a mentor of mine several months ago, and they cut me off midsentence and said, “Zach, it sounds like you’re trying to be extraordinary. How about you just work at being ordinary?”

I paused then promptly broke into tears. Yep. Tears. Not ashamed to admit that.

Tears because the meat of the conversation was about self-worth and being enough. In that moment my deepest childhood wound was tapped into, and ordinary sounded horrible to me.

Who wants to be ordinary? Not this guy.

My mentor …

How I Healed My Body and My Life by Embracing My Sensitivity

“I used to dislike being sensitive. I thought it made me weak. But take away that single trait, and you take away the very essence of who I am.” ~Caitlin Japa

“You’re making people uncomfortable,” my mother would say. “Stop being so sensitive,” she would then quip.

I have always been sensitive for as long as I can remember. Now I understand there’s a name for it: highly sensitive person (HSP).

The scientific term is sensory processing sensitivity (SPS). As it turns out, 15-20% of the population has this trait.

As a highly sensitive person, my nervous system filters less …

The Wind That Shakes Us: Why We Need Hard Times

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” ~William Arthur Ward

I live in the windiest city in the world—Wellington, New Zealand. Perched between the North and South Island, this colorful little city gets hammered by wind. The winds from the south bring cold, and the winds from the northwest seem to blow forever. My body is regularly under assault. But amid all that blustering lies the answer to one of life’s great questions: How do we feel at home in the wind? Or better phrased, how do we live with …

FREE Online Event for Women: Get Unstuck, Find Passion & Purpose

Do you ever feel like you’re not doing even a fraction of what you could be doing with your life? I’m guessing we’ve all felt like that since the start of the pandemic. But did you feel like that before—like you have gifts to share and passions to explore, but you just don’t know how, or where to start?

Or maybe you want to believe you have gifts, but you question yourself. You dismiss your potential. And as a result, you hold yourself back.

I suspect most people struggle with these feelings at one point or another.

I felt …