Category “change & challenges”

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 …

Why I Hate Getting My Hopes Up and What Happened the One Time I Did

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” ~Oprah Winfrey

When I was a little girl, I made many wishes. At first, I believed all of my wishes would come true, just like in the fairy tales my mother read to me before bed. However, slowly but surely, life changed my attitude, stole my optimism, and I stopped wishing.

My parents fought a lot, and their unhappiness made me believe that I was not good enough. Poverty replaced my birthday wishes with socks, the bible, and sheets for my bed.

When my parents …

Afraid of What People Think? Free Yourself by Realizing How Unimportant You Are

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s natural to think that we’re always in the spotlight.

We think that people care about the way we dress, but they don’t.

We think that people notice our nervous habits, when in reality, they’re worried about whether people are noticing their own.

We tend to go through life as if our every move is being watched, judged, and evaluated on a moment-to-moment basis by the people around us. Here’s a reality check—you’re not that important.

I don’t mean that …

Why Feeling Anxiety Was the Key to My Happiness

“Lean into the discomfort of the work.” ~ Brené Brown

Anxiety was the core of my existence for decades.

When I look back at my life over that time, what comes to mind first is the constant tension in my chest, a knotted stomach, and a lump in my throat.

From the outside, my life looked great. I was college-educated, had a good job, was in a relationship; I lived in a nice place, had a decent car, and enough money to buy organic food and a gym membership.

But I was miserable.

Not only was I anxious all the …

How We Can Overcome Our Obstacles When We Don’t Believe It’s Possible

“If we can see past perceived limitations, then the possibilities are endless.” ~Amy Purdy

Nature inspires me. There are hidden messages consistently on display. On my daily walks, I find myself interpreting these messages in relation to my life.

One day, near the end of my walk, I was paying attention to the trees. A giant one caught my eye. Its magnificence was portrayed as morning sunlight peeked through the branches and bright green leaves.

I noticed the enormity of its trunk, and then I saw the crooked fence.

The giant tree trunk had grown so big that it pushed …

How a Simple Morning Routine Helped Me Heal from PTSD and Grief

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” ~Frederick Douglass

In an eighteen-month window, I had a landslide of firsts that I would not wish on my worst enemy.

I ended my first long-term relationship with someone I deeply cared for but did not love. She had borderline personality disorder, and I was not mentally strong enough nor mature enough to be what she needed in a partner. Within five minutes of me saying our relationship was over, she slit her wrist as we sat there in bed. This was the beginning of it all.

Drug overdoses, online personal …

How to Trust Yourself After the Trauma of Being Dismissed and Invalidated

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” ~Steve Jobs

I was a sensitive child growing up, and I felt everything deeply. Unfortunately, my childhood home was dominated by chronic tension, fear, and anger—not an ideal environment for anyone, let alone a perceptive and empathic child.

My father was rather authoritative and controlling, and he disciplined us harshly. I was raised to obey without questioning and punished for mistakes or not falling in line.

Love was only assumed but never shared, and so I grew up feeling alone, unsupported, …

Life is Fragile: Love Like Today Could Be Your Last

“I would argue that nothing gives life more purpose than the realization that every moment of consciousness is a precious and fragile gift.” ~Steven Pinker

He was splayed out in the middle of the road. The paramedics had yet to arrive. That was the scene on our way to meet some friends.

Over dinner, they relayed the tragic story of their neighbor’s twenty-something son who was killed recently in a motorcycle accident.

Two others lost their lives in an instant on a nearby suburban road.

An acquaintance told me about the fatal hiking accident of a young man who was

How I Stopped Resisting Change and Embraced the Road Ahead of Me

“Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over, she became a butterfly.” ~Unknown

Change is constant, from small changes like trying a new hobby to big changes like making a drastic career move. Even though change is all around us, it can feel scary. While change could lead you to something great, there are a lot of unknowns with something new, and that can cause anxiety.

When I was younger, I used to embrace change. For example, each school year was a new and exciting experience.

But somewhere along the way, I started to resist change.

What Does Resisting

What Creates Anxiety and How We Can Heal and Ease Our Pain

“Beneath every behavior there is a feeling. And beneath each feeling is a need. And when we meet that need, rather than focus on the behavior, we begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom.” ~Ashleigh Warner

Do you ever wonder what creates anxiety and why so many people are anxious?

Anxiety doesn’t just come from a thought we’re thinking, it comes from inside our body—from our internal patterning, where unresolved trauma, deep shame, and painful experiences are still “running.”

It often comes from false underlying beliefs that say, “Something’s wrong with me, I’m flawed, I’m bad, …

Afraid to Say No Because You Might Miss Out on a Big Opportunity?

“What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” ~Unknown

Are you afraid of saying no in your professional life because you think you’ll miss out on a big opportunity? I’ve learned that a quick yes can sink a lot of ships. God only knows I’ve taken on too much at times because I feared I’d miss out on something life changing.

We view opportunities as golden nuggets that are few and far between, so we snatch them up before someone else does, even if they don’t really excite us. But many …

If You’ve Been Abused and You’ve Lost Your Joy and Sense of Self

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can choose not to be reduced by them.” ~Maya Angelou

I know what you’re feeling because I’ve been there. You’re sitting quietly with your pain asking yourself if the abuse really happened or if you just fabricated it in your mind like they said you did.

You’re wondering if you’re too sensitive. If you really did hurt them as much as they claim you did. There’s a small part of you that wonders if you actually deserved to be treated poorly because of what you said or …

19 Techniques to Calm a Highly Sensitive Nervous System

“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” ~Timber Hawkeye

The sun is setting, the cold wind is gently blowing in my face. I’m sitting on a rock that’s about ten feet tall, overlooking the Peruvian city of Cuzco. I can hear dogs barking, groups of teenagers laughing, the low hum of traffic and the music blaring from cars in the distance. As it goes dark, the lights of thousands of houses begin to flicker on like fireflies.

I should be enjoying this picturesque scene, but I’m not. My …

The Abuse Behind My Happy Family Pictures (and Why We Should Talk About It)

TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with an account of physical abuse and may be triggering to some people.

“There remains what seems to be an impenetrable wall of silence around violence, and we must all play a role in breaking this silence.” ~Reese Witherspoon

The other day my brother sent me some rare old photographs of my family. In the middle of those aged images, I found a picture of a seven-year-old girl, so cute! She was wearing two perfect long braids and a smile. Oh, the smile of this lovely girl!

There was also an image of a man …

How to Stop Reacting in Anger When You’re Triggered

“Freedom is taking control of the rudder of your life.” ~Yukito Kishiro

“What’s for dinner?” It’s a simple enough question. Yet it’s one that has made me lose my mind at my husband on more than one (or ten or twenty) occasions.

It’s not the question itself. It’s a valid question and one that needs an answer (at least by one of us).

A trigger of mine is being asked to answer a question when I’m already in the middle of something, feeling overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, or just sick of answering questions.

So then I snap and overreact.

I’ve come …

Why I Don’t Define Myself as a Victim and What I Do Instead

“The struggle of my life created empathy—I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.” ~Oprah Winfrey

See yourself as a victim and you become one. Identify as a victim and you give your tormentor power over you, the very power to define who you are.

Statements like this have become commonly accepted wisdom today because they are undoubtedly true. If you see yourself as a victim, you will be one. You will be someone who has been defeated, someone who is at the mercy of another, and that is no way to live.

And yet, the …

How to Stop Sabotaging Yourself and Feel Like a Success Even If You Fail

“If you love yourself it doesn’t matter if other people don’t like you because you don’t need their approval to feel good about yourself.” ~Lori Deschene

In 2010, after a surge of post-ten-day-meditation-course inspiration, I publicly announced to the world that I was going to make a film about me winning the kayak world championships.

A very bad idea in retrospect. But at the time I felt invincible and inspired.

I had super high expectations of myself and of the film and thought it was all possible.

Coming out of a four-year competition retirement meant a rigorous six-hour-a-day training schedule, …

6 Mistakes We Make When Depressed or Having a Panic Attack

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” ~James Allen

When I was eighteen I went through a very stressful period, which led to the onset of panic attacks. I often remember how in bed one night I was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of terror. I’d never experienced such fear before. Sure, I was scared of lots of things, but this new feeling was unique.

The most accurate way I can describe it is a kind of animal-like horror. It seemed to have come from the deepest, darkest recesses …

10 Reasons Why I Ditched the Drink & What Happened When I Quit Alcohol

“When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite. That’s when the sparkle started for me.” ~Mary Karr

Growing up I thought alcohol meant adulthood. As a child I eagerly watched the cacophony of advertisements, commercials, TV shows, and movies swirling, mixing, swigging, sipping, and smelling those delicious drinks that the beautiful and the sexy preferred.

Alcohol was literally the forbidden fruit—a mystery and an abomination that not my parents, nor anyone in my family—really had anything to do with. I …