11 Hugs A Day

I have no idea where I first heard this years ago, but dammit I love it. It’s a ritual I’m proud of, no matter how many times my friends laugh at me for saying “did you get your 11 hugs today???” It’s the kind of challenge I really need because currently I mostly work from home alone, without physical coworkers by my side. Like every human being on the planet, I am one with a basic need of physical human connection (re: oxytocin). Sometimes we just need to get a bit creative about how we make it happen. When I pay attention to this, my quality of being sky rockets, my stress decreases, I feel seen, I feel loved, I feel happy. I challenge you to go get 11 hugs today. Pass it on!

Here is how I strive for 11 hugs every day:

  • Hug my yoga teacher and my classmates (~3)

  • Hug my girls in my bookclub, women’s circle, nearby cafe or weekly co-working space (~5)

  • Hug friends when I see them in the wild “bring it innnn” (awkward ones are my favs) (~1)

  • Hug dogs on the street if their owners let me! (~1)

  • When in doubt, hug myself (~1)

  • Bonus points: hug my stuffed animal and pillows :) (+1)

Need more proof of the health benefits of hugs? Check this article.

Don't Be Afraid of Negativity

You may have heard about Lacy Philips, the resident expert in manifestation. She asserts that manifestation is about deep self worth, not mental positivity or surface level vision boards. I agree with why she says this, and see it as a relief to realize “of course” we can’t control our reality with the blip of a thought or the sight of an image. We have to BELIEVE what we see in order to bring it into our subconscious mind.

We certainly don’t want to be paranoid that our lingering sad or lonely automatic thoughts are going to doom us. We can’t be afraid of it, that’s for sure. I remember when I believed not so long ago that I had to have happy thoughts all the time. It’s just not that simple, we are kidding ourselves if we think we’re that powerful, Lacy says.

The catch of course is that we need to take responsibility for our automatic thoughts. What creates the deeper structures of sustainably positive self worth STARTS with beginning to choose new ones. Well, hmm… it starts with reprogramming what you notice is hooking above the surface in order to set a better foundation below the surface. So, instead of freaking out if the colors of our thoughts aren’t positive, we want to slow down, and be fully conscious of what we are telling ourselves so that we can send new signals to what’s happening down stairs in our subconscious. Our thoughts are like projector screens - we can either believe the story being shown on the screen - or not. So don't be freaked by the thoughts themselves, be skeptical of the attachment to them.

Seriously darlings don’t be scared if negative thoughts arise, you are a human being. The invitation here is to get WAY MORE CURIOUS about why they are there so you can eat popcorn while watching the scary movie. You can see a million negative thoughts float across the screen, but if under the surface your inner wisdom is like “iiiinteresting, there I go again” “look at what show my brain is playing today” then hunnies your self worth has a chance. Don’t be afraid, watch and observe, and kill the angry confetti with kindness. What is the negativity trying to tell you? What is the 2% truth of the scary thought? How can we reframe the negative thought into something useful and connected to your deep human worthiness?

My hack is what I call “Grandmotherly”or “Grandfatherly” knowingness. What would a loving grandparent say to you about the shit storm? Probably something along the lines of a warm, smothering hug. That’s how I want you to talk back to your meanie thoughts, not necessarily with words, but with the warmth of being and awareness. That’s where self worth finds its way back into the light no matter what negativity is sure to arise.

The Recorded Meditations I Live For

  1. Accessing Your Stillness by Sarah Blondin

  2. Smile Meditation by Tara Brach

  3. Morning Ritual by Jason McGrice

  4. Yoga Nidra: Melatonin Magic by Jennifer Piercy

  5. Learning to Surrender by Sarah Blondin

  6. Make it Sacred & Honoring Life by Sarah Blondin

  7. Relaxing Back Into Presence by Tara Brach

  8. How To Transform Any Hard Situation by Jack Kornfield

  9. Manifest Your Deepest Desires by Melissa Ambrosini

  10. Short Mindfulness Meditation by Sam Harris

Go-To Breathing Techniques

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing - I was introduced to this in yoga class years ago, and for me, it is by far the most effective way I have found to activate the “calming” parasympathetic nervous system which brings me back to baseline when I am triggered, spinning or overwhelmed.

2. Deep Belly Diaphragmatic Breathing - I like to do this as often as I possibly can between my coaching calls to bring my mind to stillness and clarity. When I’m moving throughout my day, I tend to forget breathing deeply. This practice integrates my whole body and allows me to center and restore myself when I have a lot going on.

3. Wim Hof Breathing - I went to a Wim Hof “Ice Man” workshop last year and it was pretty life changing. In addition to teaching us about how the cold can activate our mitochondria to support our immune system, the class also trained us in short deep breathes that can seriously support energy levels. It’s a bit more labor intensive, but changes are noticeable when you take the time.

4. Child's pose breathing - I’m always taken aback by how affective breathing in this position is during my yoga classes. I’m sharing a video of an athlete instead of yogi to drive the point home that everyone, not just children or yogis, should get down on the floor and do it.

5. Lying down body scan breathing - I tend to incorporate body scanning breathing techniques to help me fall asleep, but it’s also useful any time of the day. It helps me redirect my focus of attention very effectively. Sometimes I incorporate this technique in coaching calls to help get clients out of their head. :)

6. Three-part (diaphram-heart-mouth) breathwork - This may be my favorite style of all of the above. I discovered breathwork master Erin Telford through my dear friend earlier this year and was so struck by this simple style. I remember thinking this is how breathe should always feel in the body. It feels like my most natural and full expression.

My Favorite Coaching Questions For Behavior Change

  1. How would you love to FEEL right now? (name the feelings, describe how someone might access those feelings)

  2. Which versions of your former self do you want to BREAK UP with?

  3. Who do you want to BE? (what kind of person? what version of yourself? visualize that person.)

  4. How might someone who DID know act right now?

  5. How would I feel if it wasn't THIS way?

  6. What if you DID know?

  7. What is your BODY telling you? What is your HEART telling you? What is your HEAD telling you?

  8. What if you said YES to this right now?

  9. What is the METAPHOR / picture that explains your current feeling?

  10. Who are you BECOMING? (Thank you Michelle Obama!)

  11. What is the COURAGEOUS choice?

How to Laugh More

For a gal who tends to gravitate to deep thinking and intellectual curiosity (re: everything personal development and non-fiction books) - I recently discovered I need to laugh more. 
Martha Beck reminded me of this, Oprah's life coach. She talks about how nurses are allowed to carry around water guns to squirt at each other to support the laughter of their patients, and I thought that was brilliant. I'm a pretty light hearted person, but sometimes I forget to giggle and find the levity in the moment.

Here are some ways that have helped me:

  • Joined a laughter filled co-working space. And even more recently (and more effectively) an IMPROV CLASS.

  • Subscribed to funny podcasts (“Lovett or Leave it” makes me lol every single time ). I know you can find one of those for you.

  • Called my silliest “don’t make me pee my pants” friends.

  • Watched the old standby funny shows! (duh to most, but not always to me). When in doubt type FRIENDS or OFFICE into Netflix.

  • Attended sweaty, ridiculous exercise classes. I found this sweaty dance class in complete darkness called Dance Church at 10am on Sunday mornings in Seattle. Laughter ensued.

  • Did handstands in the hallway whenever I felt above average tense. I laugh every time I have to prepare by taking off my necklaces and socks - or get people or objects out of the way.

  • Pet every dog I could find on the sidewalk and waited for miracles to happen.

This list is a work in progress, but I'm excited to keep going. Any suggestions?

 

 

10 quotes that sparked epiphany for me

1. "The way we do something is the way we do everything"

2. "We compare our insides to others' outsides"

3. "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

4. "The cave you fear holds the treasure you seek."

5. "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

6. "Fulfillment lies in the quality of my attention."

7. "The way out is always through."

8. "Our bodies produce thoughts, like our bodies produce carbon dioxide. Continuously without our control."

9. "The quality of your breathe is the quality of your life."

10. "There is a sunrise and a sunset every day. You can choose to put yourself in the way of beauty."

 

Experiencing Seattle and San Francisco from a Distance

New Perspective on San Francisco

I lived in the heart of San Francisco for seven years. The bustling, noisy part of North Beach just a few minute walk from downtown. I loved it there. It stole my heart in every way.

Since moving to Seattle in May, I've felt a shift in perspective. I'm experiencing San Francisco in fresh ways from this distance.

I'm acknowledging it for two simple things:

  1. It's majesty

  2. It's pressure and competitive nature

More than anything I miss San Francisco's sweeping charm and natural beauty, the smell of the pacific ocean - though I also truly feel gratefully relaxed to be a good arms-length away from Silicon Valley. I feel relaxed to have conversations without subtle competition, I feel relaxed to move slower and soak up time, rather than rush to fill it productively. 

But damn do I miss views like the one at Broadway and Divisidero in Pacific Heights. Nothing tops those sweeping views towards the Golden Gate Bridge - literally nothing.

New Perspective on Seattle

When I make it back home to the Bay Area from time to time, to visit family and friends, I have a new perspective of Seattle from the distance too. It's retro, it's cozy, it's understated, it's nostalgic - even though still brand new to me. I don't know if it's hearing Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell frequently on the radio, the live-able coffee shops, or my memory of PNW rain from college. But, Seattle is special. It's beautiful in a different way.

Seattle natives don't quite see it this way .... because of Amazon. They feel Seattle's change deeply, as I saw San Francisco's. Some people like how Seattle is growing up and becoming less gritty than before. Others are saddened to see their spots turn over ownership for cleaner curb appeal. I can relate to this having seen the Bay Area change so drastically throughout my life. But overall Seattle feels more conducive to enjoying simple pleasures.

My summer runs and bike rides rule, the ones along the water past the Ballard Locks through the Botanical gardens with snow capped mountain ranges in the background. Even the rainy ones are alivening and magical. It's a different kind of gorgeous here. It doesn't have the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge but many locals would say Mt. Ranier, the Space Needle and the snow capped mountain ranges do something very similar for them. I know these iconic landmarks put that pitter patter of home love in their hearts. 

This winter has brought me a newfound love for beanies, cold fresh air, hidden rough edges, mellower music and Patagonia jackets every day. I'm loving the surprises around every corner in discovering new special pieces of nature, live music, restaurants, and more than anything the PNW people. Good flannel wearing folks out here, but you already knew that. 

 

 

Life Lessons: How Yoga Keeps Blowing My Mind... Over & Over Again

When I moved to Seattle four months ago, I immediately found comfort in the inviting yoga studio around the corner from my new home. Everything about the warmth and inclusivity of the studio and people drew me in, and continues to every day. I credit my sense of clarity and groundedness to my yoga practice, and wanted to take some time to share with you why. I have moments of epiphany in every class that I wish I could bottle up and share with my clients and friends. Below are some of those lessons that continue to make me better every day. 

The Power of Lion's Breath

Release release release. Surrender surrender surrender. Find all the muscles in your face and RELEASE WITH AKKHHHHHHH. Ever stretch your arms in the morning and feel relieved and blissed out by it? Ya it's like that but with sound, and breathe, and facial expressions and SILLY PLAYFULNESS! Be a kid again, be an animal, and do it whenever no one is looking. :)

The Power of Heart Openers

Let your heart speak for itself. Free it from constriction and feel and watch what opens up. My favorite is a move called "Sugar Cane." Put your hand on a block or a chair, grab your foot behind you and open your chest in open space until your eyes roll to the back of your head with bliss. It's my favorite. I'm a better, happier person each and every time I do it. 

The Power of Hip Openers... Hello Pigeon Pose

I look forward to this pose every class. I find it playful to struggle into it, uneasy and unsure, knowing the spot is looking for me too. The metaphorical search for finding the comfort in the discomfort sparks joy in me every time. I'm reminded of one of my favorite phrases: "The way we do something is the way we do everything." This pose gives me the opportunity to practice just that; to focus on my body and know that my mind will listen up and follow suit. 

The Power of Warmth + Sweat!

Nothing lubricates my senses more than sweating it out and creating endorphins. The warmth loosens me up, it frees my mind, it reminds me that I'm human, it connects me with others, it reminds me that I'm alive with a beating heart. It literally changes the chemicals in my body. Exercise, it's the best medicine. 

The Power of Intentions + Visualization

I call it "invisible work." The mental points of focus that align towards more productivity. But the best part is the simplicity! Gently think of how you'd like to be. Oh that's easy: Grounded. Oh wow, I'm seeing dirt beneath me, now all of a sudden dark sturdy redwood green trees, now all of a sudden big rocks of truth. Imagination transforms. 

The Power of Gratitude

Accessing the parts of me that feel good, joyful, sparkly are fun. My eyes light up, my face softens, my heart opens. Wow, how does it do that? That was easy. Now name those many things one by one: this beautiful day, my house, the food in my fridge, my love for music, the puppy I saw 5 minutes ago, my breath, my ability to move. All of these things are hard to find on the worst of days, but when you name one, you realize there are others too. Even on the shittiest of days, you can be glad you have choice to drop into child's pose. 

The Power of Silence

At the end of every class, my teachers hold long pauses for reflection and deep breathe. The word that always comes to mind in those moments is: reverence. The word means "deep respect and awe for someone or something." This is what silence and long pauses do for me. It allows me to drop into myself to take an honest look around. 

The Power of Changing Perspective ... Hello Inversions

Getting upside down is everything. It shows you that "if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." Get upside down with your feet on the wall and all of a sudden, your face warms, your feet cool, the ceiling is more visible, your concerns are focused elsewhere....and all of a sudden you're THINKING DIFFERENTLY. Oh how simple, and oh how revolutionary.

The Power of Doing Before You're Ready ... Hello Every Yoga Class I've Ever Attended

Ever jump out of bed and realize 5 minutes later how glad you are that you had the courage to do it? Ya me too, every day. That's what yoga has become for me. Whenever I feel meh, I grab my mat and walk down the street. I count to 3. Taking your mind out of the equation is freeing. Yoga allows me to "leave my elf on the shelf."  And by "elf" I mean Inner Critic/Monkey Mind. You don't need your mind to do yoga. You just need your body, and your heart. And once you start BEING in that class, and all the above things start happening: The Warmth, The Opening, The Gratitude, The Perspective Changing .... everything falls into place. You recalibrate, and the rest is history. Give that gift to yourself in your own way. Yoga is my way of playing with white space and activating the best of me. What's yours?

Life Lessons That Keep Me Sane

1. Iterate and leave it

2. Reframe by thinking of your best friend thinking of you in a foreign country

3. "This is enough" as my mantra

4. Mind mapping with giant post-its or butcher paper

5. Notes before bed

6. Supporting my Internal Goals (Ikagai)

7. Do it for Me

8. Make fewer decisions (Red Pen)

9. Shrinking my deadline, work expands to fill the time allotted

10. Act my way into a new way of thinking, don't think my way into a new way of acting

11. Advice is never actively true all the time

12. Increasing mindfulness and decreasing reactivity

13. Bringing the deeper truth to hard conversations

14. Turning all complaints into requests

15. Becoming more curious about the perspective of others

Don't Let The World Overwhelm You

This was the theme of a recent yoga class I took. It was full of heart openers, lions breaths and pigeon poses. It was also a message I profoundly wanted to share with my clients: "Don't let the world overwhelm you." 

In those moments that stretch to hours, that stretch to days .... the moments that feel heavy and insurmountable, there's always a thread to be pulled. What I mean is that something can always be done. Yoga is hugely helpful, but what else? What about sustaining at all hours?

I found myself feeling this similar bought of heaviness recently, the kind I've witnessed in my clients before, so I paused to examine. What? Why? How? When? Where?

What? = Heaviness 

Why? = Words from Others, Expectations, Short on Time, Misunderstandings, Exhaustion

How? = Commitment to Guests, Inertia

When? = Morning, Midday, Evening

Where? = Inside, Anticipating Action, Acting Out of Integrity

Witnessing the data and the ebbs and flows I came to examine this:

  • Triggers are everywhere

  • Triggers are wolves in sheep's clothing; you never know where and when it can come from

  • Assumptions have the most heat

  • Inflammation of the pain comes from giving significance to the "what ifs"

How to Stop It, How to Soften, How to Lighten:

  • Go right towards the thing and shower with compassion

  • Long walks

  • Increase frequency from podcasts + books

  • Meditate

  • Force a smile on your face

  • Just say fuck it

  • Decide you want it more than you are afraid of it

  • Talk to someone, share everything, release

  • Act before you're ready

 

 

Trusting 15 Minutes From Now

Those who may know me, know that I am not exactly a morning person. I've been told several times in my life that I have "inertia" in many settings: sleep, excitement and work. Sometimes it's hard for me to truly switch gears. Ever been accused of that?

As a coach, I've done a lot of work investigating what supports my optimal way of being in the world, and this is what I've found to be my perfect recipe for energized mornings:

1. 9 hours of sleep

2. Ginger tea before bed, not wine

3. 10-15 minutes of headspace before bed AND right when I wake up

4. Setting my clothes out the night before

5. Defining my morning exercise before bed

6. Having water by my bed at all times.

7. Ready to fall asleep by 10:30 at the LATEST

Awesome. I can't tell you how happy it's made me to find this perfect formula - because alas I know how to control my good vibes every day....

JUST KIDDING.

It is quite literally impossible to maintain this perfect recipe every single day. IMPOSSIBLE. No matter what kind of enlightened superhuman I think I am. Things happen that throw me off course.

For one, I have fun roommates who like to crack a bottle of wine every once in awhile after 7pm. I also live in the noisiest neighborhood in San Francisco, so my 9 hours of sleep very often gets interrupted. I also have a boyfriend who lives in a different state, who likes to call me at random times. I could go on listing the ways my routine gets knocked off track during a given week, but I have a feeling you may be able to relate. 

I discovered a little mental trick a few months ago that I'd love to start sharing with the world. It's something that has supported me tremendously especially in those wee hours of the morning when I'm forced to open my eyes before I want to.

Behold: The Trust 15 Mindset Trick

This is how it works .... Anytime I feel uncomfortable about doing anything in a given moment, I integrate my body and mind by putting my hands on my heart and stomach while whispering this mantra to myself:

"Trust that 15 minutes from now you will feel very different, Jenna. Trust you have what it takes to shift the momentum into one with more energy and focus."

Saying this to myself in the morning helps me access the Inner Wisdom within me rather than the doubtful Critic. It helps me get moving without resentment, but rather with pride and with gusto. 

I also started applying this to moments when I'm feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed about something. In those moments, I allow myself time to truly pause, take a walk, play three of my favorite songs, or better yet meditate for 15 minutes until I have fully calmed down and integrated with my body. 

This also works when I'm pissed off, embarrassed, hurt by someone, intimidated, jealous - name the emotion and it works for that too. We are incredibly resilient humans as you may have noticed. If your skin can heal a wound, so can time heal your pinched mind. 

Trusting in 15 minutes from now has been one of my best kept secrets, and I'm hoping it may help you too with early mornings and moments of (un-invited) inertia. :)

Thoughts For A Heartbroken Client

Dear friend,

I know you are feeling blue right now. Remember how very human this feeling is and also how important for long-term growth. Though I think you're setting yourself up well to turn a corner, especially with the move. What's funny is I've been thinking of proposing a move for you - this feels like a great call.

As for the part-time gig, I think that's perfect. Seriously, enough to keep you energized and rebuild a routine. But not too much where you don't have room to plan your dreams. 

What's possible for you with the job and the new apartment ?

As for your constant thoughts of "D" [insert first initial of ex ]  - continue to be gentle with yourself. It takes time. 

But, notice - Where are you still playing victim?

Since you're in that interesting phase of continuing to (metaphorically) touch the hot stove, now is the time to get serious about re-wiring your brain. Do everything in your power to re-incentivize yourself and take your power back with gusto like someone you deeply and uniquely admire (i.e. George Carlin or Chrissy Tiegan).

The image that always helped me was thinking of "a dog going back to its on vomit." Seriously gross but helpful. Every time you think of her you need to associate it with visceral disgust and maybe laughter and disbelief, not pleasure. 

If I were you, I'd focus on the move, the new job and really start to dream of new horizons. 

How can you focus ONLY on new stuff for awhile? How could this help you?

Create a new space that's all yours. Go places you've never been. Listen to new music you've never heard. Depression comes from looking backwards, not forwards. Do everything in your power to look forward - truly you must fake it till you BECOME IT. 

If I were giving advice to my former heartbroken self, I'd tell myself to begin showing up differently physically, almost as a form of trickery to my internal self. Dress the way you would if you felt free, cook the way you would if you felt free, exercise the way you would if you felt free ... This will help recalibrate you.

And if all the above is too much, focus on your two new things (job + apartment) to start this process! How do these new possibilities excite you? Keep that top of mind.

Be gentle. Take heart. You got this.

Love, Jenna

P.S. Please replace his/her name with just the letter "D" - in your mind, in convo and in writing. Can you do that? That name is a loaded gun. Put it down. 

Micro-Coaching: Coaching For The Twitter Generation

I got off the phone with a beloved client of mine just moments ago. She needed 10 minutes of my time to talk through a personal situation while at work. She broke up with her boyfriend over the weekend and was in dire need to figure out her living situation, and pronto. She sent me a video message explaining the situation, and I agreed to 10 minutes of Micro-Coaching. She paid me in advance for a fraction of her normal fee. 

I was prepared. 

It was efficient. 

We got to the point.

She processed her thoughts.

She got her money's worth.

It didn't cost her time. 

She walked away free and energized.

Let's be honest, millennials just don't have the luxury of time anymore. At least not in theory. Between demanding jobs, social media, relationships, health, and sanity, time has become something we hoard. Every minute counts; every moment is precious. 

These Micro-Coaching Sessions are something I'm launching this week as a result of the "AH HA Moment" I experienced with this short and sweet session this morning. 

We got the work done. 

My client can now move on with her day thanks to 10 minutes. That's what I'm celebrating today.

Curious to try a Micro-Coaching Session? Try it for yourself.

No Really, Life Is About Creating

I had a moment at the Sasquatch Music Festival back in May that flashed at me like a beam of light. Something became crystal clear to me as if Eckart Tolle-enlightened - that life is about one thing: Creating. 

It was the day after I met my now boyfriend John. It was a magical weekend for me, meeting this wonderful music loving mountain man, and staring off into the cathedral-like vistas of the Columbia Gorge. We were standing about 15 people away from 27-year-old Claire Elise Boucher (Grimes) as she prepared to play her midday set. Both John and I were skeptical about the artist. We had heard a few songs and were intrigued, but it was my best friends Erica and Rachel who encouraged me to show up for it.

As John and I stood there 5 songs in, we realized "Holy Shit, this girl is expressing every fiber of her being right now." That's what we both thought as we crept closer, nodding with acceptance that she was in fact a little bit of a genius; producing and performing something that so clearly came from the most genuine places within her, albeit bizarre. We both wondered about what her parents thought of their sweet girl busting balls, taking names, and pushing limits. As a fellow 27-year-old at the time, I was dumbfounded to see how she showed up that day.

I looked behind the stage to see the breathtaking view, and then back at the ridiculous crowd of adoring fans, then back at the dancers on stage - and was taken aback. What the fuck is this life? Who decided to put an amphitheater here?? How did this girl have the courage to unload her insides and start growling into microphones like this?? 

It was a mix of elation and wonder at the thought of what was possible for us laymen people; all of us still holding back, keeping our insides so neatly tucked in. Why the fuck is it so hard to unleash? What does that glittering gold look like inside all of these people? Surely every single one of those fans has the same magic that Grimes does. It's in there some where I know it is! - I thought.

This realization hit me like a frying pan. I started to stare at John and wonder what kind of brilliant magic was locked inside him? He loves to play the bass guitar, he loves to write, he loves standup comedy. And yet, those descriptions of his creativity didn't satisfy what I knew he was capable of. There's genius in there, I had zero doubt. What could John create if he didn't have to go to his 9-5 job every day? What sparkly magic did I yet have the chance to witness? I was overcome. 

As a coach, this thought started to tickle me immensely and it showed up in every one of my sessions soon after. I'd sit on the call and really wonder, "What magic is still in this body that needs getting out?" I started to notice and pull the ribbons out of my clients and friends more than I ever had before. "I've always wanted to do Bollywood dance" "Sign up today!" / "I've always wanted to write a book" "Send me a chapter by next week!" / "I want to do a radio show!" "Email my DJ friend right now!"

And soon each of these ribbons started to become things, projects made with substance. When my best friend aired her first radio show on Bff.fm a few weeks ago, I lost my shit. The glimmer of her idea to start a blog and then take it to the next level has now become so very real and 3-Dimensional. In that moment (and this one too) it became clear that we all just have to get started.

Almost 5 months later, I'm still not over that moment back in May. I think about it every day. Everything reminds me of it. The art, the photos, the words, the conversations, the relationships, the homes, the music, the laughter, the clothing, the cooking, the exercise, the work, the choices, the love, the dreams ... All of these things are created. We get to create our lives in each and every moment. How cool is that? Life is a completely blank slate in each and every moment. Fresh moments, every moment.

Here we are, what do you want to do with this? Nothing is pre-determined. GO FOR IT. DO THE THING. It's a matter of turning your insides out and showing the world what you've got. To inspire, to be dazzled by the glitter of possibility. You have NO idea what tomorrow will bring. No one can predict it. So go the fuck ahead and unleash something that tickles you. Let your dreams soar. 

My wish for myself is that I take my own advice. To "Play Big" as Tara Mohr would say. To "Dare Greatly" as Brene Brown would say. To harness the "Big Magic" as Elizabeth Gilbert would say. I've got to do it because no one else will do the thing inside me. As far as I'm concerned, the point of life is to unleash that glittery gold magic that is so absolutely tucked inside. :)

(credit: TML photo c/o Brooks Miller, photo of John & Jenna c/o me, Gorge photo c/o Gorgeampitheathre.com, Grimes photo c/o cbslocal)

My Personal Development Book List

Coaching & Life Design

Conversational Skills

Creativity

Fulfillment, Mindset & Getting Unstuck

Leadership

Learning, Prioritization & Productivity

Money

Personality & Self-Awareness

Psychology of Motivation, Influence & Change

Positive Psychology

Spirituality

Team & Culture

Vulnerability & Risk Taking

Understanding Your Brain

*Please note many of these titles belong in multiple categories, but in order to simplify I chose just one.

Fear

FEAR: ˈfir/noun: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

________________________________________

Oh do I have some things to write about fear.

Fear is the monger, the gremlin, the fibber, the thief.  

Fear is so many things that I wish to say to its face. I recently had a pretty wild experience speaking with an Intuitive Energy Healer friend who told me about a dark past life, a very dark and troubling past life. One involving my deepest, shimmering fears in paralyzing detail. Suffice to say, I wasn't exactly willing myself to believe it.

She told me I would experience grief similar to a heartbreak that brought me to my knees a few years ago as a result of that energy. The worst emotional pain I've ever felt? Dear God, no thank you. I won't go into too much detail about the story or the visions, all you need to know is that "impending doom" is what I started calling the anticipation of these painful feelings.

I've always been the type of person who trusts very easily. I like to think I see the good in everyone and believe that everyone (as Brené Brown reasoned with) is "doing the best that they can, given the tools that they have." And in essence, I really, really do believe this is true. 

So, when this woman I trusted (and who had been right about so many good things in my life) handed my fears to me on a silver platter that idle Tuesday, I felt totally betrayed and scared. I didn't want to lean in, regardless of how much I respected her. Her dark words penetrated my sunny perspective anyway, making the fear come alive in me in a way I've never felt before. 

When I told my friends, they all huffed and said something to the tune of: "You don't believe her, do you?" But, something within me shuttered as I tossed and turned that night. What if there was some truth to the things she was saying? What if buried beneath the dark, outlandish story was a lesson I needed to learn? I knew in my heart, of course, it could all be complete bull shit. But no matter which way I sliced it, the fear stayed strong within me. And I thought to myself, wow, sometimes in life we're blindsided when these things take shape.

Here are the options I came up with to deal with the fear and confusion:

  1. Ignore. Abort. Avoid.

  2. Listen + Pretend like nothing happened.

  3. Marinate. Question.

"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power & the fear of freedom shrinks & vanishes. You are free." - Jim Morrison

I decided to take on the challenge and look fear square in the eye. Option 3. 

My life coach told me the above quote last year, and it stuck with me. It surfaced in this moment, and I analyzed it. Played it like a fiddle in my mind. Thought to myself, "If I exposed myself to this deep fear, wouldn't it swallow me whole?"

The almost comical (and very Enneagram 7) debate in my mind continued as such: 

  • If I surrendered to the fear and thoughts of impending doom, would I risk losing my ability to be happy and the abundance of good into my life?

  • Is the law of attraction real? If I continue to think about these fears, will I embody the fear itself? Mustn't I will myself back into light?

I told my friend Laila about the feelings of impending doom, and she said something that changed the nature of my fears in an instant. 

"Feelings of impending doom? ... Well, what are you going to paint?"

Laila's simple response was my wake up call. The fearful emotion had amplified into a movie; an illusion with music in my mind. It became so visceral because I was making something I didn't understand dangerous without reason. I realized painting could help me get at the essence of what my mind was interpreting.

The idea of painting turned my emotion into instant childlike curiosity. Who the hell said the story had to swallow me like a monster engulfed in flames? 

Fears are going to creep up on us in all textures and colors in small and big ways for the rest of our lives, whether they make practical sense or none at all. This strange experience taught me something crucial, however: We can always make it to the other side of our fear if we allow ourselves to face it and walk through to a fresh perspective.

"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Dr. Wayne Dyer

I realize how illusive it seems to decide to "feel fear" and "shift perspective." But never forget, fear is an evolutionary gift (not a trap) meant to sharpen our senses and energize us during times of great stress. 

Here's what helped me (thanks to lessons from friends and the Coaches Training Institute):

1. Get the story line out of your head: Paint or write (stream of consciousness) all the ideas and images that come to mind as transmitted by the fear. Keep writing, keep painting. Notice what comes out is rich with insight and typically not as impossible to understand as you think it will be. 

2. Listen to your body: Notice where the fear lives inside you. Do you feel it in your chest, your whole body, deep in your brain? This is usually a sign of what's manifesting. If your brain hurts, it's typically your mind that is working hard on a story. If in your body, perhaps it's a physical anticipation or resistance (punch pillows, dunk yourself in the ocean). In your chest? Your heart needs to process the emotion fully and let it pass once it has been expressed (cry.it.out).  

3. Understand the nature of the critical voice in your head: The critical voice in our head takes many names: inner critic/ego/sabateur/monkey mind/asshole. I call mine the gremlin. I've learned that the gremlin has one job and one job only - to convince us that its manipulative whispers are in our best interest; that the monster is "protecting" us from ourselves. As long as we are aware the voices are coming from our gremlin, we are free. The second we give significance to the negative story line loop, we've lost our footing. Don't lose your footing and merge with the gremlin! You are not the gremlin.

4. Empower your inner wisdom: Instead of giving significance to the gremlin voice in your head, empower your inner wise self. How to know the difference? Your wise self is not nagging you incessantly, but rather grandmotherly/fatherly knowing. Your wise self can see the big picture, trust the process, and lead with love. An easy way to determine what your wise self would say is to ask: What would you in 20 years from now tell you to do in this moment? 

By the time I got through the darkness, I didn't particularly care if the details of my Intuitive Healer's visions were true. I cared that the process helped me own a gift I had been suppressing. I felt a sense of reverence in staring my demons straight in the eye. I felt transformed. 

If fear comes to us to deepen our learning and help us grow, why the hell not take advantage of the opportunity to do so? There is always a way out of the trap we put ourselves in, and always something incredible to learn if we let the light in when we crack open. 

Spaciousness

Earlier this year I left a very stable job. A job I was proud of, my family was proud of, and which afforded me comfort in obvious ways.

Since I was a little girl, I always knew there was something spectacular about life. I knew there was possibility busting through the cracks of my bedroom door that I didn't feel like most people were taking advantage of. I felt awe inspiring wonder pulsing from beyond every wall, especially my classrooms. This energy was always present and waiting for me I knew; it was as obvious and alluring to me as the sun rising each day. 

During the summer I turned 16, I remember feeling my first real swell of freedom wash over as I grabbed the keys to my great grandmother's Honda accord and drove ecstatically through the open roads of Lake Tahoe, blasting music and cruising through a sanctuary of pine trees. This sacred place in my heart and visceral feeling of spaciousness remains a source of ignition for me. This place is where I come alive, and where my best self lies. 

I wanted to write this post to clarify for myself what it is that feels so right, even in midst of the terrifying unknown and daily potential of more failure and less money.  I feel freakishly alive since pressing the restart button. It's like I'm letting the awe inspiring twinkles of light come busting back into my life, by "putting myself in the way of beauty."

What I've learned:

1. Getting closer to life with less, makes living deliberate and rich.

2. People want to help. Let them.

3. Step inside your indulgent perspective to shake off what doesn't serve you.

4. Melt the significance of your negative persistent story lines. Or suffer. 

At this point, I ask myself how do I maintain this feeling once I move forward from wherever I am? Surely it can't last forever. Or could it? So with all the personal development work I have been up to lately, I figured I could at least get to the bottom of this.

I'm happy because:

  • I'm sleeping A LOT more.

  • I'm networking my ass off, for fun.

  • I have the freedom to change my physical environment whenever I feel restless.

  • I'm cooking quality meals for myself almost every day.

  • I'm taking SERIOUS social media breaks.

  • My schedule is peppered with fun workout dates.

  • I'm learning way more about the things that I'm really passionate about.

In order to move forward with the ups and downs of life's pressures, below are the rules I have henceforth given myself based on these learnings. Feel free to borrow any that you wish.

Rule #1: Protect the quality of your sleep like it depends on the safety of your infant child.

Rule #2: Connect with people, friends, and friends of friends who interest you, and who you want to learn from. Networking is King. But, FUN networking is even more powerful. 

Rule #3: Demand a playful environment (wherever working happens), where you can take more walks, work from coffee shops every once in awhile, sit on a couch, sit on the floor, or simply in a different room if that's all that's allowed.

Rule #4: Be real about making meals. Prep food, get up a wee bit earlier to make your famous avocado toast, or have a field day at the flea market after your stressful end-of-day meeting. Whatever it is, make eating an enlivening experience other than opening wrappers or standing in line. 

Rule #5: DELETE social media apps on your phone when you sense yourself neurologically addicted to your alerts. You will re-wire your brain to stop checking snapchat every 5 minutes when you realize it's deleted off your phone. I know you know how to re-download it, but that will annoy you enough not to do it unless you really need to. Trust me, THIS WORKS MIRACLES.

Rule #6: Plan friend "workout" dates. Whether it be to a dance class, yoga class, Soulcycle class, bike ride or simple walk to the water. Like actually put that shit in your calendar - PLAN IT. You will have something to look forward to all week and you won't get accustomed to skipping it. 

Rule #7: Just say no to filler activities and suggested crap. And say YES to the books and articles and movies and workshops that you really love and want to engage in. You will be so much less resentful if you do this and become a natural expert and more authentic, engaging human to be around. 

In summary: I have grown a lot over the past so many months of spaciousness. Not all blue skies and butterflies, but definitely a Buddha belly joy of realignment in who I am. Spaciousness has made me so very mindful, and so so very grateful. I recommend to anyone who is stuck and mercifully feeling imprisoned at work or in a relationship to try to find a way towards more spaciousness. If I have learned anything during this time of great transition, I have learned that this way of being makes me a healthier, more alive version of me.