“Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.” ~Julius Charles Hare
In a few months it will be the two and a half year anniversary of my mental breakdown.
I don’t really celebrate the date, partially because I don’t know it—it’s not the sort of thing that you remember to mark on your calendar—and partially because my entire life since then has been a celebration of what I began to learn that night.
I began to learn about myself.
It’s been a wild ride of healing, helplessness, forgetting, and remembering. Many times, I …
“You gain courage, strength and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Finding my passion made me fat.
Not fat in an “I have to wear a Homer Simpson Mumu” kind of way, but in an “I eat cookies and chocolate all the time and I’m not sure what happened to my muscle. Oh, and these pants, they don’t really fit anymore” kind of way.
I always was a stress-eater. Not early in my life, but as soon as I arrived, confused and distracted, into the world of corporate …
“Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” ~Aristotle
At the end of the day, when I feel completely exhausted, it often has nothing to do with all the things I’ve done.
It’s not a consequence of juggling multiple responsibilities and projects. It’s not my body’s way of punishing me for becoming a late-life jogger after a period of laziness. It’s not even about getting too little sleep.
When I’m exhausted, you can be sure I’ve bent over backward trying to win everyone’s approval. I’ve obsessed over what people think of me, I’ve …
“Think of all the beauty that is still left in and around you and be happy.” ~Anne Frank
At first glance, the happiest person I’ve ever met appeared to be a simple man. There didn’t seem to be anything particularly sophisticated or spiritual about him.
Srulik was five-feet tall, with a big round belly and a wide smile permanently plastered on his face. He enjoyed the small things in life: a good joke, a familiar television show, a wholesome meal. He radiated such joy, and was so unassuming in his demeanor that one would assume he was blessed with an …
“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” ~William S. Burroughs
Sitting in my office, I stared at the email in front of me.
My heart sank.
All energy and joy left me, to be replaced with confusion, anxiety, and a deep sense of frustration.
As adrenalin rushed through my veins, one question engulfed my mind leaving little room for the answer.
What should I do? What should I do? What should I do?
I just didn’t know.
The email was from a client. Someone who I had worked with for a …
“Every day brings a choice: to practice stress or to practice peace.” ~Joan Borysenko
After years and years of living with anxiety, I can’t tell you exactly what I have been anxious about.
Is it a pervasive thought about how my life will end? Is it a constant worry about my financial security? Is it simply that I’m nervous to give a speech in front of people? Or a combination of all of them?
Even thinking about anxiety causes more anxiety. Ahhh!
Anxiety is also really hard to define. It’s so subjective.
I don’t think my anxiety will ever truly …
“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” ~Ralph Marston
Before I started my business, I spent three years at an ad agency and a little over a year at an international furnishings retailer. I also waitressed, wrote freelance articles, designed and developed a church website, and worked in an incredibly boring mailroom.
Some of those jobs (let’s be honest, most of those jobs) totally sucked.
In the mailroom, my boss was a sexist jerk with a Napoleon Complex.
In waitressing, I spent too much of my time being other people’s emotional punching bag.
And at the ad agency—the …
“Eyes that do not cry, do not see.” ~Swedish Proverb
Just get over it. Don’t be so sensitive. You should toughen up and grow a thicker skin…
I’ve heard this advice so much over my life, but I’ve never seen it make anyone happy.
Advised to toughen up with thicker skins so we can protect ourselves, we end up just bottling it up inside and pushing away how we feel, hoping it looks like we’re strong.
It’s like trying to avoid our own shadow. We believe it’s gone because it’s behind us, but it’s totally visible to anyone else who …
“We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.” ~Alan Watts
Are you good at noticing subtle details? Are you able to learn without really being aware that you are learning? Do you notice other people’s moods? Do these moods affect you?
Are you sensitive to pain? Are you equally sensitive to beauty?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you, like me, are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Chances are, you are constantly trying to make sense of how being sensitive fits into a world where a certain amount of insensitivity is …
“What other people think of me is none of my business.” ~Wayne Dyer
I got the call late one Sunday afternoon while sitting at work. “Babe, your toilet tub and shower are backed up.” What?
“It’s bad babe, and getting worse.” Okay, I thought, I’ll call my landlord.
“Hello, this is so and so and you’ve got my voicemail. Please leave me a message and I’ll call you back as soon as I can.”
Damn. Answering machine. Message left.
Text message time. Left that one too.
I wrapped up work and raced home. Yuck. It was bad. And like …
“All great achievements require time.” ~Maya Angelou
We all have a picture of what we want in our heads.
We get attached to a timeline for achieving it. We fantasize about the results and how it will bring us happiness.
We begin to work hard to attain it.
But when we don’t get it right away, we get frustrated. We want things to move as quickly as possible.
If we want a relationship, we want to find our perfect partner as soon as we can. If we’re building a career or a business, we want success in months. If we …
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~Viktor Frankl
I first got wind of this transformative concept when I was a teenager reading Man’s Search For Meaning.
It has played beautifully into what has become my life theme: how people transcend their adversities. I’ve forever been inspired by how (some) people can go through so much and yet be able to rise above and live well. I call it living well despite…
It seems to boil …
“When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” ~Miguel Ruiz
Have you ever opened a spring-loaded email? You know, the kind with a nasty barb inside that hits you like a punch in the gut?
My business partner and I had recently launched our new podcast, and he had forwarded me an email he’d received from a viewer.
“Just watched Episode One,” the writer said. “GREAT idea! But WAY too much talking. Want specifics, not Melissa’s self-indulgent blathering on about the creative process…”
Ouch. My vision blurred at this …
“Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence, and face your future without fear.” ~Unknown
My pet fish died today. Red-striped fins as beautiful as always, he was swimming around in his tank only four weeks ago. First he became less active. Next he refused to eat. Then he was gone.
As I buried him in the yard, my first thought was, I don’t want to have a pet fish ever again. Awareness kicked in, and I realized that my thought was triggered by fear to experience an unpleasant circumstance such as this again.
This is how …
“We are like the little branch that quivers during a storm, doubting our strength and forgetting we are the tree—deeply rooted to withstand all life’s upheavals.” ~Dodinsky
I began struggling with anorexia and bulimia in high school, a development that, in part, stemmed from sexual abuse.
I internalized my struggles and made them a part of me, leaving me with feelings of shame, guilt, unworthiness, and despair. I had completely lost connection with my authentic self and instead, took on the roles of “ruined,” “broken,” and “worthless.”
If you had asked me who I was three years ago, I would …
“By living deeply in the present moment we can understand the past better and we can prepare for a better future.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
When I was in high school, a hit-and-run car accident changed my world. My boyfriend at the time lost his nineteen-year-old brother to the accident. I had never met his brother, but it didn’t matter; a dark veil had been cast over my life.
In the days, weeks, months, and years following the accident, I sank into a deeper and deeper depression. I started to have panic attacks and I cut myself daily, trying to feel …
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~Nelson Mandela
Do you wish your circumstances in life were different? Have you reconciled yourself to accept that you can’t achieve your goals? Do you think it would be nice to travel, but you don’t think you can afford it?
It’s time to change your mindset and learn how to take control of your own life.
Think Like a Child
Children don’t like to accept “no” for an answer. They question every refusal. “But why not?” they ask.
“Because we can’t afford it” is not an acceptable answer to a child. That has …
“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” ~Andy Rooney
I was born and raised in Louisiana, where food, booze, and fun are the three most important things in most every social situation.
I had my license at fourteen, my first drink at fifteen, and I knew the owner of the local drive-through daiquiri bar by name. (Miss Billy, in case you were wondering.) It wasn’t out of the ordinary. We all drank a lot on the weekends…who doesn’t?!
In college, when my parents were going through a …
“Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.” ~Victor Hugo
This week I revisited a favorite national park, some fourteen years after my last visit. Despite the long hiatus, the reason for both trips was the same.
When I last visited in 2000, my goal was to seek out the solitude and beauty of the rainforest, the creeks rushing headlong through shade-dappled gorges, and the vast rocky cliffs overlooking the distant ocean.
I had suffered a recent breakup and wanted to spend some time in nature, in solitude, in a place where I could …
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” ~William Arthur Ward
They say traveling is the one thing you buy that makes you richer, and I couldn’t agree more. When my yoga instructor first told me about the retreat she was planning in Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica, I just knew I had to go. What I didn’t know, however, was just how much this trip would change my life for the better.
There’s something so magical about going somewhere you’ve never been before, especially when that place happens to be …