“Never be afraid to try new things and make some mistakes. It’s all part of life and learning.” ~Unknown
A few months ago, I was warming up for a dance class. It was a beginners’ class, but the instructor was one of those people who have been dancing all their life, so movement came easy to her. This was the ninth week of a ten-week term, and we’d been working on a choreography for a while now.
Then, the reception girl came in with a new student. She introduced the new girl to the instructor. “Hey B. This is Nat. …
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~Maya Angelou
Throughout my childhood experiences I did what every child does and rejected parts of myself. It makes sense because kids depend on adults for survival, so I was in no position to reject my parents. But as an adult I feel it is now my job to reclaim those parts of myself.
While I had two parents that loved me and what I’d describe as a normal childhood, nonetheless I became hyper-attuned to others, over-sensitive to criticism, and a perfectionist, particularly under stress. It led to …
“Sometimes you get what you want. Other times, you get a lesson in patience, timing, alignment, empathy, compassion, faith, perseverance, resilience, humility, trust, meaning, awareness, resistance, purpose, clarity, grief, beauty, and life. Either way, you win.” ~Brianna Wiest
“Good as gold,” the cab driver replied as I nervously handed him the $20 bill and asked, “Okay?” He jumped in his cab and drove off.
I was pleasantly surprised by his politeness, as I was expecting him to argue with me for extra money because we’d gone around in circles searching for the address that I had given him at …
“If our hearts and minds are so unreliable, maybe we should be questioning our own intentions and motivations more. If we’re all wrong, all the time, then isn’t self-skepticism and the rigorous challenging of our own beliefs and assumptions the only logical route to progress?” ~Mark Manson
I often hear people encourage others with the following advice: “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.”
Don’t get me wrong: I see where they’re coming from when they say it. Far too often we are dissuaded from listening to our gut feelings. Often, we follow the tyranny of shoulds. We …
“Sometimes the worst things that happen in our lives put us on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” ~Unknown
Until I was thirty-seven, I thought I’d led a pretty charmed life: I had a supportive family and good friends, I’d done well academically, always got the jobs I’d applied for, and met and married the perfect man for me.
In 2013, when I was thirty-five weeks pregnant with my second child, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My baby was induced at thirty-seven weeks, and my chemo started ten days later. In …
“Your mind, emotions, and body are instruments and the way you align and tune them determines how well you play life.” ~Harbhajan Singh Yogi
The earliest memory of my anxiety was at ten years old in fifth grade.
I remember it so vividly because in middle school the bus came at 6:22am exactly in the morning.
Each night I would look at my Garfield clock and think, “If I fall asleep now, I’ll get five hours of sleep…. If I fall asleep now, I’ll get four hours of sleep… If I fall asleep now, I’ll get three hours of sleep…”…
“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” ~Brené Brown
The embarrassment you feel upon realizing you don’t actually have what it takes to make a success of yourself. The shame of knowing you spent years training to do one thing and then you bailed right at the finish line. The fear of what to tell people when they ask you what you’re up to.
Of course, you don’t tell anyone how you feel, as you’re too embarrassed to admit you even have these feelings, so you just bury …
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live.” ~Norman Cousins
On September 23, 2015, Loukas Angelo was walking to his after-school strength and conditioning class just a few hundred yards from Archbishop Mitty High School.
He was approaching the outdoor basketball courts when he ran out into the street and was struck by a car traveling around thirty miles per hour. The impact sent Loukas flying down the street, and he was immediately transported to the closest hospital where he remained in critical condition.
I remember sitting on …
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom.” ~Henry Cloud
Late last night, I once again found myself unable to sleep, and boy was I angry. So, in order not to disturb my other half, who is always asleep the moment his head touches the pillow, I dragged myself off to the sofa. Once there, sat seething in the dark, I listened to my …
“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 …
“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 …
“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 …
“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 …
“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, …
“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 …
“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 …
“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.
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 …
“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 …
“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 …
“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 percent of the population has this trait.
As a highly sensitive person, my nervous system filters …