Category “change & challenges”

Why Stability Feels Unsettling When You Grew Up Around Chaos

“Refuse to inherit dysfunction. Learn new ways of living instead of repeating what you lived through.” ~Thema Davis

For anybody that experienced a chaotic childhood, stability in adulthood is unfamiliar territory.

When you grow up in an environment where shouting is the norm, unstable relationships are all you observe, and moods are determined by others in your household, it’s hard to ever feel relaxed.

As an adult dealing with the long-term effects of childhood instability and chaos, I jump at the slightest sound now.

And I know I’m not alone when I say instability is all I have experienced.

I …

The Power of Reframing: 3 Ways to Feel Better About Life

“Some people could be given an entire field of roses and only see the thorns in it. Others could be given a single weed and only see the wildflower in it. Perception is a key component to gratitude. And gratitude a key component to joy.” ~Amy Weatherly

I grew up in a deeply negative environment. My parents separated acrimoniously when I was seven, and they were a grim example of how not to do divorce.

They brought out the worst in each other, and sadly, over time, they also brought out the worst in me. I was depressed as …

I Quit Drinking and It Was a Gift to My Mind, Body, and Soul

“Sobriety was the greatest gift I ever gave myself.” ~Rob Lowe

I tried and failed to have a fabulous relationship with alcohol for many years.

When my children were tiny I drank far more than was good for me, thinking I was relaxing, unwinding, socializing, and having fun. I’d seen my life shrink down from a world with lots of freedom and vibrancy to a socially restricted void, and I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to join in with everyone else.

All my birthday cards had bottles of gin or glasses of fizz on them, all the Friday afternoon …

How I Healed from the Trauma of My Father’s Abandonment

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

When I was fifteen years old, my dad abandoned my mother, younger sister, and me after a bankruptcy. My mother sat me down at the kitchen table to show me our financial situation scribbled on a yellow legal pad.

Dad left us with six months of unpaid rent. The landlord threatened us with eviction until mom made a deal to pay extra rent …

Why It’s Worth the Temporary Discomfort of Sitting with Intense Emotions

“Whatever you’re feeling, it will eventually pass.”  ~Lori Deschene

Can you feel an intense emotion, like anger, without acting on it, reacting to it, or trying to get rid of it?

Can you feel such an intense emotion without needing to justify or explain it—or needing to find someone or something to blame it on?

After successfully dodging it for two years, I recently caught Covid-19. The physical symptoms were utter misery. But something much more interesting happened while I was unwell.

The whole experience brought some intense emotions to the surface. Namely seething anger about something that had …

Abuse is Like an Iceberg: The Cruelty and Pain You Never See

“What we see is only a fractional part of what really is.” ~Unknown

On the surface, in the public eye, it can seem trivial. It might look like the seemingly harmless teasing of a child or romantic partner, joking about words they have mispronounced or silly mistakes they have made. Inane mistakes like putting on a shirt backward, burning something in the oven, or losing their keys. Mistakes that everyone makes.

Abuse might sound like judgmental comments that appear to come from a place of compassion. Comments like:

My daughter doesn’t apply herself; she’s lazy, and I wish she

3 Ways to Help Someone Who’s Recovering from Trauma

“Feeling safe in someone’s energy is a different kind of intimacy. That feeling of peace and protection is really underrated.” ~Vanessa Klas

I’m now fourteen months into my recovery from complex post-traumatic stress syndrome (c-PTSD aka complex trauma). I’d been in therapy for a number of years before I was diagnosed. I’d been struggling with interpersonal relationships and suffered from severe anxiety and depression, although you wouldn’t have guessed it from looking at me.

There are so many misconceptions about trauma, and before my diagnosis in 2020 I wasn’t very trauma aware.

I was your typical millennial thirty-something woman, …

How to Reclaim Your Joy After the Pandemic: 3 Things That Helped Me

DISCLAIMER: Though vaccines have allowed many of us to return to more normal activities, the pandemic isn’t over, and it’s still crucial that we all follow the evolving CDC guidelines to keep both ourselves and others safe.

“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.” ~Sharon Draper

It was a rainy, late Sunday afternoon. The sun was already going down, and it was getting dark outside.

“How are you?”

“Oh, good. Nothing special. It’s quiet,” my …

How Befriending My Anxiety and Depression Helped Ease My Pain

“‘What should I do?’ I asked myself. ‘Spend another two miserable years like this? Or should I truly welcome my panic?’ I decided to really let go of wanting to block, get rid of, or fight it. I would finally learn how to live with it, and to use it as support for my meditation and awareness. I welcomed it for real. What began to happen was that the panic was suspended in awareness. On the surface level was panic, but beneath it was awareness, holding it. This is because the vital first step to breaking the cycle of the

How to Mindfully Temper Road Rage and Make Driving Less Stressful

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

As a Lyft driver, I once spent significant time out on the road—a setting rife with provocations and stressors.

Driving can feel like a constant challenge to employ mindfulness instead of giving way to destructive emotions like impatience and frustration. Meditation can be difficult to practice when you’re navigating a vehicle (demanding as both activities are of your full attention)—try channeling all your senses into it, and you’ll likely plow over a pedestrian or end with your car in a ditch.

Navigating the road mindfully, though, doesn’t have to mean closing your …

How Our Self-Talk and Language Can Sabotage or Support Us

“Today I want you to think about all that you are instead of all that you are not.” ~Unknown

“Love the pinecones!”

This was a comment from a friend on one of my Facebook photos from a beautiful seaside hike filled with wildflowers and other natural wonders.

When I responded with “It was a puzzle figuring out how to best photograph them” (not what I originally planned to write), she wrote, “Gregg, that’s such a fun part, isn’t it?” That comment was the brightening of a bulb that had already been going off in my head. It led to deeper …

If You’re Afraid to Ask for Help Because You Don’t Trust People

“Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.” ~Les Brown

I sat in the doctor’s office, waiting—linen gown hanging off me, half exposed—while going through the checklist in my mind of what I needed help with. I felt my breathing go shallow as I mentally sorted through the aches and pains I couldn’t seem to control.

Fierce independence and learning to not rely on others are two of the side effects of my particular trauma wounds, stemming from early childhood neglect and abandonment. During times of heightened stress, my default state is …

How I Stopped Feeling Sorry for Myself and Shifted from Victim to Survivor

“When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.” ~Brené Brown

There was a time when I felt really sorry for myself. I had good reason to be. My life had been grim. There had been so much tragedy in my life from a young age. I had lost all my grandparents young, lived in a home with alcoholism and domestic abuse, and to top it all off, my dad killed himself.

I could write you a long list of how life did me wrong. I threw myself …

Feeling Burnt Out? How to Slow Down and Reclaim Your Peace

“Burnout is a sign that something needs to change.” ~Sarah Forgrave

Fifteen years ago, my doctor informed me I was in the early stages of adrenal exhaustion. In no uncertain terms, she warned that if I failed to address the stress I was under, my adrenals might not recover. This was hard to hear, but it forced me to face the fact that eating well, exercising religiously, and keeping up with the latest research on wellness was not enough.

I had to ask myself a defining question that day: Am I ready to go down with the ship?

At the …

How I Overcame My Psychic Addiction and Stopped Giving My Power Away

“If you’re looking for a sign from the universe, and you don’t see one, consider it a sign that what you really need is to look inside yourself.” ~Lori Deschene

I used to have no idea what I should do. About anything. I would go from friend to friend running polls:

Should I be a solo singer or in a group?

Is this guy the one?

Should I do this job or that job?

Should I stay in LA or move to Vancouver?

Should I get bangs?

On and on it went. It wasn’t that I wanted validation. It was

Are You Pathologizing Normal Emotions? It’s Not Always a Mental Illness

“Don’t believe everything you think.” ~Unknown

Society is becoming more accepting of mental illness. That’s great, but there’s a downside that we need to talk about. Not everything is mental illness. We need to stop pathologizing every single thing that we feel.

What I mean by pathologizing everything is jumping to diagnosing yourself after every tough feeling you have. It’s great to be self-aware, but I think we are taking that a little too far and it’s causing more depression and anxiety.

Yes, I said we are taking self-awareness too far. I stand by that, but I’ll explain the …

Healing from Shame: How to Stop Feeling Like You’re Fundamentally Wrong

“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.” ~Brené Brown

There is a special type of shame that activates within me when I am around some family members. It’s the kind of shame where I am back in my childhood body, feeling utterly wicked for being such a disaster of a human. A terrible child that is worthless, stupid, and perhaps, if I am honest, more than a …

The One Thing You Need to Make the Best Decisions for You

“If you are not living your truth, you are living a lie.” ~Joseph Curiale

Her sobs break my heart. We have all been there. When the relationship starts feeling like a war-torn city as opposed to home.

I close in for a hug. “You can’t go on like this,” I whisper.

“Well, I don’t know what to do. Please don’t tell me to break up,” she looks up pleadingly. “I can’t do it. I won’t be able to bear it. I am not as strong as you.”

A familiar musical refrain from Tina Turner comes to mind albeit with …

What Is Stress-Induced Illness? How Trauma Can Cause Physical Pain

“Wisdom is merely the movement from fighting life to embracing it.” ~Rasheed Ogunlaru

Three years ago, I fell into the blind spot of medicine: America’s unknown epidemic.

After numerous tests, scans, scopes, and too many doctors to count, modern medicine could not find anything seriously wrong with me. I also consented to have my gallbladder removed. My first and only surgery at age forty, an “experiment” of sorts.

Six months into the worst nightmare of my life, my spiraling health started to take a huge toll on me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I didn’t want to live anymore, but …

You’re Invited: FREE Wisdom of Pema Chödrön Online Summit

Hi friends. I know that many within the community are grappling with uncertainty right now—as really, we always are—and I also know how terrifying it can feel to embrace not knowing. Whether you’re dealing with health issues, unemployment, or relationship struggles, the question of what’s going to happen can keep you up at night. And then there’s the uncertainty in the world at large.

When we’re overwhelmed by groundlessness and fear, it can feel like we’re free-falling with nothing to hold onto. In those moments of panic, we search for something, anything, to help us calm the voice within and …