“The symphony of bodily feeling, mental thoughts, and images is emotion. It is the symphony on which people must learn to focus, to understand their inner stirrings and to harness its message.” ~Dr. Leslie Greenberg
Like most people in our Western culture, I didn’t learn to read the language of emotions growing up. I had no clue that our emotions are purposeful information about ourselves, our relationships, and our experience in the world around us. They actually carry messages about what to do—what actions to take to meet our needs for safety, balance, and contentment.
Like all people, my parents …
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” ~Jim Rohn
For years I dreamed of leaving the winters of Northern Ontario, Canada and basking in the warm golden sun somewhere in Central America from October to May. I would joke with my co-workers every winter “This is my last winter here, I swear!”
I did that for years until finally, one year, it was my last winter there. But it wasn’t because it was the most brutal winter we had experienced so far. Oh no. It was much more than that.
Rewind Back to 2012
“Death is indeed a fearful piece of brutality; there is no sense pretending otherwise. It is brutal not only as a physical event, but far more so psychically: a human being is torn away from us, and what remains is the icy stillness of death. There no longer exists any hope of a relationship, for all the bridges have been smashed at one blow.” ~Carl Jung
I’m at a dinner party with friends when I begin an engaging conversation with a woman I haven’t met before.
Music plays softly in the background as our conversation touches on many different topics. …
“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” ~Joseph Campbell
Do you ever feel like there’s got to be more to life? More purpose, passion, meaning—whatever your word of choice is?
It’s happened to me twice. The first time was during the early years of my legal career, and the second time was just a few years ago (after battling an aggressive breast cancer).
Each time I craved more meaning, yet these two experiences couldn’t have been more different.
When it happened to me …
“Let go of the need to control the outcome. Trust the process. Trust your intuition. Trust yourself.” ~Unknown
I was talking with a friend one day at work, and we were discussing dating and the rejection that comes with that and the sense of failure and disappointment.
We were talking about how we struggle to even get close to dating someone because we get in our own way, and our thoughts stop us from moving forward because we’re scared. We’re scared, so we blow the situation up with our inability to sit with the uneasiness of not knowing what the …
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” ~John Burroughs
I sat on the front stoop sobbing, unable to move. Hunched over like a heaving dog hugging my knees and clutching a wad of decomposing tissues. About fifteen minutes before, I’d managed to get myself off the couch where I’d been parked, withered and absent, for the fourth consecutive day, and had made it through the front door.
Once there, I tried to stay upright, but like cool syrup I slid down the side of the wrought iron railing and down …
“Simple living doesn’t solve all my problems, it just removes distractions.” ~Melissa Camara Wilkins
At times it’s felt like my phone was my only access to the outside world. A place to connect in the middle of the night. The means to stay in touch with friends and family on the other side of the globe. It was a lifeline.
Until it wasn’t.
Improved sleep, reduced stress, and a mindful relationship with technology—they were high on my wellness “should have achieved by now” list.
I’m not sure which was bothering me more, the actual stress of not …
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” ~Hemingway
We all know of post-traumatic stress (PTS) but how many of us know of post-traumatic growth (PTG), a very hopeful and attainable way of life beyond the loss, adversity, and trauma we’ve experienced? It’s a term that was coined in the 1990s and is becoming more popular now as positive psychology and the specific area of resiliency-building have gained momentum in our society.
What is post-traumatic growth? It’s positive change and growth that comes about as a result of an adversity or loss. It is channeling …
“You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough. When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize that. Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you—it’s something inherent.” ~Danielle Koepke
Imagine you’re in your early thirties, in a job you enjoy at a company you love, and you just got promoted (without lobbying for it), so you’re living a great life.
All of a sudden, you’re bombarded with negative feedback from your manager. …
I grew up in a family of high-functioning addicts. We looked like the perfect family, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving. No one was addicted to drugs, so that obviously meant that we had no problems. Cigarettes, alcohol, food, and work don’t count, right?
I have come to realize that what we are addicted to is nowhere near as important as the admission that we’re addicted to something. When we try to make ourselves feel better by telling ourselves that gambling or porn or beer is nowhere near as bad as crack or heroin, we are …
“Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.” ~Unknown
When I first experienced narcissistic abuse as an adult, it was a at a time when the term “narcissistic abuse” was not so heard of or understood.
I had met a handsome, intelligent, charismatic, and charming man, and as is typical in abusive relationships, had been completely overwhelmed by the intensity and ‘love’-overload of the early stages.
Before I could catch my breath, though, the nitpicking started, and so did the heated arguments, the jealousy, the cutting contact, and disappearing for …
In a world with billions of people, in a culture that promotes being special and making a big mark, it’s easy to feel like you don’t matter.
Maybe you’ve felt it all your life—like you have no purpose, no value, and nothing to contribute to anyone around you.
Maybe you feel it off and on, when you’re struggling to find love or direction and think you need to somehow prove your worth.
Or maybe you know that your life has value, but every now and then, when your head hits your pillow, you wonder if in the end, it …
I love the holidays. I eagerly anticipate the first snowfall, adore the scent of pine, and watch It’s A Wonderful Life every year without fail.
That said, even the merriest among us know that the holidays can be emotionally, physically, and psychologically taxing. In addition to buying gifts, negotiating travel plans, and shuttling from gathering to gathering, many of us spend extended time with our families—and every family, no matter how loving, has its fair share of challenges.
When these difficult family dynamics combine with holiday-season stress, we may find ourselves at a crossroads. Do we burn out, freak …
“Being willing to accept responsibility for the situation you’re in is the first step to a more fulfilling love life.” ~Renée Suzanne
Remember the haunting ballad “Foolish Games” by Jewel?
Jewel wrote the song when she was sixteen. She kept a serious journal, and said in an interview that a verse in the song was “about a relationship that I was dramatically involved in on paper.”
That pretty much sums up my first relationship, which was a dramatic pseudo-relationship in many ways. I was sixteen going on seventeen, hopelessly romantic yet shrewdly skeptical of love at the same time. …
“Sometimes pain is the teacher we require, a hidden gift of healing and hope.” ~Janet Jackson
I was becoming more and more confused as to what my feelings were toward my husband. Longing for that personal adult male connection, I started to feel trapped in my marriage. However, I still had a very strong sense of our family unit and my commitment to it.
I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize the family, even if it meant sacrificing my personal happiness. I made a conscious decision that my life was enough. It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough.…
“Those who suffer from mental illness are stronger than you think. We must fight to go to work, care for our families, be there for our friends, and act ‘normal’ while battling unimaginable pain.” ~Unknown
It’s strange having a panic attack while surrounded by people. I’m experiencing something so private and so personal, but unless I externalize it, they are completely unaware. It’s almost an art to be able to hide it—to train myself well enough to function in front of others to the point that, if I do reveal to them the nature of my anxiety, they reply, …
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We all know that we should be grateful. It’s right up there on the list of things we’re supposed to do regularly like get enough sleep and exercise regularly. But we don’t always prioritize the things that are good for us, which means we don’t often get to enjoy the benefits.
For many, gratitude doesn’t become a habit until life gives a reason to …
“In time and with water, everything changes.” ~Leonardo da Vinci
This is a story about our past and progress. It’s about holding on and letting go, moving forward by moving inward, and time. And like any good story, it’s a love story in the end. I’m talking about the kind of love that eases suffering and restores peace. The love we show ourselves through patience and unconditional acceptance.
It begins with a box in the back of my hall closet, tucked neatly beneath the snorkeling equipment and board games we always forget about. I’ve moved that box from Texas …
“The price of our vitality is the sum of all of our fears.” ~David Whyte
Acceptance by its very nature is imperfect; it’s messy and often unpleasant, while ultimately leading to a place of growth, a sense of freedom, and a life familiar with ease. I know this because I have had a lot of painful acceptance in my life, and it has been crucial to helping me move beyond the stuckness of fear and suffering.
Years ago, being the natural striving, fun-seeking, achievement-oriented person I was, I ignored the fact that my body felt like a truck had run …
“You weren’t built to be calm, cool, and collected all the time. If you were, it wouldn’t feel so exhausting.”~Ryan O’Connell
There’s a lot of talk nowadays about “highly sensitive people” and “empaths.” It can be difficult for people who don’t relate to these labels to understand, or even believe what more sensitive folks experience. As a culture, we’re just beginning to grasp what sensitivity is and how to manage our energy.
What Sensitivity Actually Is
It’s easy to get caught up in cultural biases and stigmas concerning personality traits, and sensitivity has always been a part of that. …