There is a wonderful line from Rumi, the Sufi poet, which says, “Be like a tree, let the dead leaves drop…”
Like many people, Autumn is one of my favorite seasons of the year. I love the beautiful colors of the leaves! I always feel a little sad when it is time for the leaves to fall off, I want them to just stay all winter. But the leaves know better and just do their thing naturally. They make letting go look so easy.
I was thinking of the Rumi quote not only because of the seasons changing, but it reminds of times when I didn't want to let go of things in the past. I know I had to let go, but it didn't make it less painful and easier.
Most of us have experienced letting go of old relationships, friendships, careers that no longer serves us, people that have hurt us and beloved pets. Many of us experienced letting go of marriages, and for some, children(whether through death or just leaving for school or the mid-week trade off from divorce).
Sometimes we also are letting go of old ways of being in the world. Most certainly, we have let go of different versions of ourselves. I know I have.
Letting go all the way takes it's own time, I have learned. Sometimes it takes a long time.
Today I simply want to acknowledge all that we have let go of- whether we wished to or not. In some situations, the letting go has been long and arduous, almost like cutting off a limb, bit by painful bit. In other situations, it is exactly like the leaf falling from the tree- natural and easy. But we have done it; kudos to your strength, brave one.
Letting go creates space for growth and for what's to come next. I love the quote from Joseph Campbell: We have to be willing to let the life we had planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us, which can be a gift.
To Let Go Takes Love
To ‘let go’ does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can’t do it for someone else.
To ‘let go’ is not to cut myself off,
it is the realization I can’t control another.
To ‘let go’ is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To ‘let go’ is not to admit powerlessness,
it means the outcome is not in my hands.
To ‘let go’ is not to try to change or blame another,
it is to make the most of myself.
To ‘let go’ is not to care for,
but to care about.
To ‘let go’ is not to fix,
but to be supportive.
To ‘let go’ is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To ‘let go’ is not to be in the middle, arranging outcomes,
but to allow others to effect their own destinies.
To ‘let go’ is not to be protective,
but to permit another to face reality.
To ‘let go’ is not to deny,
but to accept.
To ‘let go’ is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.
To ‘let go’ is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take every day as it comes, and to cherish myself in it.
To ‘let go’ is not to criticize and regulate anybody,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To ‘let go’ is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.
As a kid I was always fascinated with adventure. I was the kid who climbed trees, played in the creeks and loved being in the woods. As I got older, I became fascinated with travel and how other people in the world lived. I didn't travel for some time as I created a million reasons why I couldn't, or I thought it was something I would do one day when I had money etc.
When I moved south from New Jersey to go to college at Clemson, I was exposed to the outdoors even more. Since then I took up hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, stand up paddling and trail running as my hobbies. Adventure and outdoors are a big part of my life and it's great stress relief. I also have built wonderful friendships through these activities.
I also had an opportunity in grad school to do an internship in England. All those excuses and reasons came up why I shouldn't go, but I went anyway and loved it, Since then I traveled to New Zealand, South America, Canada, and many countries in Europe to name a few. Many more places to go internationally and domestically! I never regret a penny I spend on travel and experiences. The memories, experiences and great stories are priceless.
When I was in New Zealand, I met a couple traveling the world for a year with their 5 kids. I remind myself if they can travel, I can too. Here are some amazing benefits of travel:
1. Travel will challenge you
We naturally grow and expand- travel and adventure challenges growth because we are pushed beyond our comfort zones. I have done things I never thought I would do. It builds and strengthens confidence and resilience muscles.
2. Travel gives you new perspective
Meeting people from other cultures will teach you that the way you’ve been looking at the world isn’t the way everybody else does. In fact, your point-of-view might have some blind spots. Seeing the world for yourself will improve your vision and your view on life. Some of the happiest people I met were in poverty stricken areas. You also can get a great appreciation for your own life.
3. Travel helps you learn who you are
All the challenges and opportunities travel lays at your feet help you discover who you are in a way that’s only possible on the road. It can give you a chance to take a break from every day life and social media so you can fully connect with yourself.
4. Travel helps you move forward
If you’re between jobs, schools, kids, or relationships, travel can be a perfect way to move from one of these life stages into your next great adventure. Travel will give you a chance to reflect on where you’ve been, where you’re going, and where you want to end up.
5. Travel helps you develop skills you didn't know you had
Sometimes it’s only far from home that you realize you you’ve got skills you’ve never used. It’s travel that brings them to the surface and makes you smile, satisfied to have reached the mountain top, or crossed a gorge or helped a villager clean up after a storm, or even to have successfully ordered a meal at a restaurant where English is not spoken.
6. Travel builds meaningful relationships
People you meet while on the road become some of the most valued names on your contact list. They become places on the map to visit later on. These folks give you a glimpse outside your hometown circle of friends, and force you to take in new and refreshing perspectives, and ultimately realize that everyone is the same.
7. Travel is Education
Seeing the world provides an education that’s absolutely impossible get in school. Travel teaches you economy, politics, history, geography, and sociology in an intense, hands-on way no class will. Not to mention you can learn a new language and be exposed to culture and not to mention amazing food!
I could go on forever listing reason to travel. Travel is easier than you think and anyone can do it. If international travel feels daunting, start domestically. Take a day trip somewhere new. You can can begin with a local adventure of hiking. The experience will be with you for a lifetime!
Vulnerability is becoming a more socially acceptable concept. Some of the focus has been on letting go of perfectionism and embracing truth, cultivating deeper relational connections, as well as an increased value in taking courageous risks, in order to be more innovative, creative and accomplished.
When was the last time you felt that your heart was going to jump out of your chest when you felt an emotion that you were scared to speak out loud? We can hide our fears and hope that everyone feels we have it all together.
I work with people on learning the truth behind what they really want to say, how they truly feel and what beliefs they cling to that hold them back. What are some of the fears that we hide? The lies that we tell? The secret truths hidden under them? How vulnerability can be your greatest strength. Here are a few that I hear frequently. Notice the whispering vulnerable belief behind the words being said.
What I have come to learn in my own journey and through my clients throughout the years is that control is a myth. And life is messy.
What I see over and over again is that when you are really, truly, finally ready to lay the fears that restrain you out in the light of day to get a good look at them, they become so much smaller. The power they once had morphs into a mighty steam engine of motivation to push you forward. Those fears will start loosening their grip on you with each step you take forward.
How do they become your greatest strengths? Over time…
The best part? You actually give others power to be who they are when you admit that you struggle. You remove the competition of being better, more put together, more in control, smarter, etc, etc, etc…Not only that, you learn a lot about the stories that you tell yourself and the ways you hold yourself back. Self-sabotage at it’s best. Did I mention that your relationships with the people you love become stronger when you can be honest about your fears? But you have to be brave enough to be vulnerable. To look at the fear. To be who you really are.
Many of us have been doing one thing for so long, we've lost the ability to imagine anything else. For some, it's a job. For others, it's a relationship, family situation, where we live, how we spend or time, habits we've developed. It could even be a pattern of thinking.
We can get stuck, and don't even realize it.
Getting stuck can happen even in situations that we've consciously chosen. For example, you may have decided four years ago to create your own business; it was a conscious choice, you went through a lot of soul searching to get there. Now, for some reason, it doesn't feel good any more. It feels flat, boring, meaningless.
Or perhaps you entered a relationship years ago: you committed to that relationship, you were certain you'd found true love. Maybe you even got married. And now... it doesn't feel good any more. You've outgrown it, or it's outgrown you, or... it's hard to know why it's not working.
Or maybe you embarked on a course of study; you went back to school to get a degree or certification. You thought long and hard about your choice, you meditated and prayed and spent a long time considering you decision. And now... it doesn't feel good. After all that money and time and expense, it doesn't serve you.
You're stuck. And you may be terrified to change.
So, how do we get stuck?
Basically, people get mired in the mud when they stop expanding. In other words, getting stuck is what happens when we let ourselves get bored, go unchallenged, or stay in stressful or unpleasant situations for too long.
Of course, other possibilities are calling to us all the time!
But when we're stuck, we miss these sweetly insistent signs from the Universe. Or worse, we actively choose to ignore them.
We see it, we know it's there... and for a moment, we ponder what it might be like to head in a new direction.
But we're so stuck...it's so hard to get out of all that mud. "Better keep to the safe path," we mumble to ourselves, feet sinking further into the muck. "Better keep to what's known."
Are there areas of your life do you feel stuck? Are there any steps you can take to create forward motion?
The purpose of our journey here on earth isn't to stay the same.
Instead, we're here to expand as fully as we possibly can; to learn and grow and experience life as brilliant, passionate, interesting, quirky, scary, and vibrant as it is!
Do you have so much on your plate right now that you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out most of the time? Do you have too much going on and feeling overworked, frustrated and under-appreciated?
WANT TO GET BACK TO A PLACE OF MENTAL CLARITY AND RELAXATION?
In our age of fast paced lifestyles and heightened commercialism, everywhere we turn is a demand for our attention. On top of the information overload, we are working longer, and taking less time off. The result? More stress and less time for ourselves. Juggling between work, children, family and our personal needs it’s easy to get sucked into the never-ending list of to-dos.
Let’s look at five important and useful stress management techniques to overcome this sense of exhaustion and anxiety in order to live a more relaxed and stress-free lifestyle.
FIVE WAYS TO OVERCOME THE OVERWHELM
1. STEP AWAY
Sounds simple, I know. But sometimes, we can become so engrossed in what we are doing and in trying to make things “just right” that it becomes impossible to step away. However, you can’t overcome feeling overwhelmed when you’re in the thick of it. You have to step away to be able to view your circumstances from a fresh perspective.
Suggestion– Temporarily move your work or project to a different room, get up from your desk, and go out for a walk/yoga class or go sit in a café. Stepping away from your current situation and changing your environment will help you gain clarity and shift you away from your overwhelming state of mind. New ideas and energy may flow into your brain when you give yourself a brief change of scenery.
When we are feeling overwhelmed, our minds becomes clouded by the tasks at hand and by thoughts that cause us to feel stressed. Many times, we get so caught up in our doing, that we forget why we are even doing what we are doing.
Suggestion — Start with asking yourself, “Why am I doing what I am doing?” If there is a task you have to do such as exercise but it feels like one more thing added to your plate. Re-connect to the reasons behind the doing. It can be a reminder that it will decrease stress and to feel healthier. These reminders may make it feel less burdensome.
Whenever we are feeling overwhelmed, there is likely a lot going on inside our head. Ideas and thoughts race around in our minds and clutter up our mental space. The best thing to do is to get these thoughts out on paper. I cannot emphasize this step enough- “Write it all down!” is by far the number one suggestion I give to my clients who deal with racing thoughts.
Suggestion — Grab a pen and a piece of paper, a notebook. Start jotting down everything on your mind. Write without editing and write out every thought. If you have a bunch of to-dos running in your head — list them all out. If you have an idea –brainstorm on paper. And remember not to worry about keeping things looking neat and perfect. Once our jumbled and tense thoughts and plans find expression on a page they will often stop afflicting us and free up our minds to return to a good night’s rest or to enjoy ourselves more in the moment.
People are amazing. Often, we are the problem that is blocking the help we need from getting to us. Because we think family or friends will say no to our request for help or support, we never ask for what we need.
Suggestion – Ask for help and be prepared to be amazed at the generosity that others are willing to provide. The key is to get comfortable with being on the receiving end of being helped. Most people would rather help than be helped because helping someone else can feel like such a powerful position. Most people would love to help someone else if only they knew what that person needed. So, take a risk and open up to asking others for help and then be willing to receive that help when it arrives. You can pay it forward in the future when those around you need some love and support. You will be there for them.
5. BOUNDARIESTime is our most precious commodity. So be mindful. Spend it wisely and consciously.
Suggestion — Start with asking yourself what is most important to you? Once you’ve decided what’s important, create boundaries around important activities and do not budge with any incoming distractions. Do not allow unimportant noise and activities to creep in. Because both email and Facebook can be such time suckers, set boundaries such as only checking it once a day for 30 minutes. In other words, do only what’s absolutely necessary, and anything that doesn’t get done during this time will just go on the list for a future time.
Finally, when we simply acknowledge that we’re feeling overwhelmed we take a huge step forward. Creating awareness about how we feel can help us move into action to regulate our emotions and shift our behaviors in a more positive direction. Remember, you have the ability to design the life you want and the freedom to create the rules.
I have recently been presented with a few opportunities that will challenge me, stretch me past my comfort zone, and create growth.
I am excited and at the same time a little nervous. There is the side of me that is super excited and I know it will be great for me. The fearful side of me is pulling at me to stay where I am, to step back into comfort.
When we are moving out of our comfort zone, questions can come up such as what if I'm not good enough? What if I can't meet expectations? What if I don't have the resources? What if it’s hard? What if I don’t like it? What if I'm not ready yet? What if I'm choosing the wrong thing? Does this sound familiar? These questions can be crippling if we allow them to be.
So, I am letting the fears be there, however I am not allowing them to take charge and be in the driver's seat. I have the ability to make decisions and I believe in my abilities in general.
With these opportunities to grow, to evolve and to move forward in life, something different happened. As the doubts come up, I have been able to get in touch with a deeper calm. A questions I keep asking is:
What are the possibilities if I get out of my own way?
And I began to wonder … What happens when you stop fighting yourself? When you stop looking for all the reasons that you don’t deserve it yet? When you finally let life give you all the good stuff it possibly can. All the stuff that is waiting just beyond the line of what you perceive is your upper limit. And you stop wondering or worrying about how it’s going to get here and who might deliver it. Better yet, you stop trying to control how it’s all going to happen.
Instead, you simply stay open and allow. You allow yourself to be loved. To be cherished. To be unapologetically happy. You allow yourself to be as successful as you can dream up. You allow yourself to be safe. To be supported. You allow opportunities to come into life and you actually take them. Even though you don’t know the potential they hold yet.
If this resonates with you, it’s time to silence those doubts. Time to step all in. Time to surprise yourself. Time to expand. Are you ready?
It is entirely possible that all you’ve ever truly wanted is standing on your doorstep ust waiting to be invited in. Our defensive and survival mechanisms do everything it can to keep us safe. The security of knowing how it is and how it will be if we keep things the same. However the world is waiting for you to grow. To keep moving forward. To keep expanding and learning and making an impact.
Step in. Stop sitting on the sidelines. Stop waiting for the right thing. Stop thinking of all the reasons you aren’t allowed or you shouldn’t or you can’t. Stop blocking your own success. Start thinking of all the reasons you can and you will and you have to. Begin to look for opportunity. Better yet, begin to expect it. You are just as deserving as anyone else out there. Just as worthy. Just as ready.
In the past few weeks, I traveled to beautiful Charleston, I went hiking and trail running at beautiful Roan Mountain and spent time in NYC exploring the Big Apple. 3 totally different adventures! This is the season for outdoor adventures for me! I love to be able to take some time to breathe, reflect, spend time outdoors and travel.
I am about to begin a rigorous Life Coaching and Leadership program starting in August which I am super excited about. I am looking forward to learning new skills to share and continuing to grow personally and professionally.
Of course adventures aren't always easy. Life isn’t always perfect and I hit my road bumps too. I am constantly evolving and growing, which takes a lot of self awareness and acton steps too.
I want you to know that life happens to all of us. The sweet and not so sweet are part of the adventure of life.
Even though I’ve studied extensively how to how to communicate better, how to make the best choices for myself…life still throws me curveballs. I still make mistakes. I still have things to work on. I’m still learning. I still get shocked by events I didn’t foresee happening. That part of life never stops.
So, I learned a few things:
You make your own adventures in life.
Don’t let time, money or the number of friends you have become an obstacle. I have travelled to many amazing places in the world and I have a been a weekend adventure seeker for years. I joined a great outdoor club, met some like minded people and to the mountains I went! A day trip or a weekend of camping is not costly. I am super proud of all the things I have seen and done in my years of adventuring. Make your adventures in the time you have with the budget you have available to you. There is so much of this world to see. Get out there and play. Plus you'll create great stories! :)
You make your own happiness.
We all are individuals and have different meanings of what happiness is and it may look different than our own meaning. That's totally ok. When someone is creating their own happiness and joy, you can see the glow in them and it's undeniable.
Joy and happiness is a state of being, an inside job. It is not always based on a person or a thing, it comes from within. Go out and make your adventures and find your own joy. Pay attention to those moments. Who do you want to be in this world?
I feel grateful for these adventures. Life is ever changing. Some moments are totally amazing and some moments are downright awful. That will continue. Those not so great moments help you build resilience. You learn what you really want and what you don’t want out of life. Those years that produce ease and happiness allow you to enjoy all the work you’ve done on yourself.
At any given moment, you can stop to acknowledge the not so great, release it and focus in on the good. When you do that, you will begin to see more and more of it. A practice I will suggest is to pay attention to what brings you adventure and happiness and to make plans to create more of that in your life. The possibilities are endless!
Sometimes we get to a certain point and we just need to take a pause and reflect so we can reset in order to go forward. Sometimes the beginning of a new year causes us to take a pause and reflect. Other times it can be after a loss, a major transition, a fabulous travel opportunity, or a change in life.
For me, my pause and reset came after the loss of my dog Chase and a relationship ending around the same time. I took some time to get quiet and and to listen to my own voice and heart and hear what it was telling me. How do I want to be in my life? What can I do differently? What do I want to change? What do I feel grateful for? Having done the work and being open and honest with myself has been life-changing. I feel as though I am more connected to myself, happy, more at peace, and excited about what new adventures will come.
What if you aren't at a major transition in your life? That's ok, you can still take a pause and reset, Summer is also a great time to pause when schedules may slow down a little. Plus it is half way into the year. Find any date and make it your time to reflect on the first half of the year. Use this day as an opportunity to explore what the rest of the year looks like for you. Who do you really want to be?
Here are 3 exercises you can do to help you reset and go forward with new vibrancy, excitement, and purpose.
Set a date and make it happen.
Pick a date that resonates with you. Perhaps the Summer Solstice, which happens every year between June 20 and June 22. The Summer Solstice officially brings in summer and is the day of the year in which we get the most amount of daylight. What better way to enjoy that extra bit of light than by exploring the ways in which you can start fresh for the rest of the year?
Reflect, then Look Forward.
What has worked for you so far this year? What would you like to change? Make a list. The good and not so good. Get it all down on paper. Maybe practice gratitude for the good. Reflect, and write down how the not so good made you feel and any thoughts, learning lessons or growth, and what may need to change. Not sure what I mean? Perhaps you lost a loved one, a job, or are just in a rut. That sadness you feel can be transformed into positive energy. Maybe volunteering more and helping others can help. Maybe you made some mistakes in some aspects of your life. Own it. Recognize it. Change it. Write it down and then set out how to do something different moving ahead.
Once you have your list and have set goals, check in on yourself! Don’t let excuses get in the way of your growth. Perhaps tell a friend or family member what you’re up to and ask them to help keep you on track and on target. By setting your goals in this deliberate manner, you take actionable steps to a fresh perspective to go forward with.
There is a whole world waiting for you to shine and share your special talents!
There may be times in your life in which you felt an increased belief in yourself when others validated you and encouraged you. Yes, that feels great! Then there are times when someone didn't believe in you and you had to dig really deep to find belief in yourself. Or you used that disbelief to really learn to believe in yourself.
I think most of us have an inner knowing of what we really want in life. We know what lights us up, what we feel super excited about, what brings us the most joy, and the outcomes we are searching for.
Sometimes we don't acknowledge this because it feels completely overwhelming and out of reach. It may feel too uncertain, too totally unreachable and unattainable in your current reality of life.
This can be challenging, I definitely get it. Change can be exciting but can be scary and difficult. Believing in yourself during this time can be challenging as well. Your heart may want to do that thin that excite you and what you really want, and your mind is trying to keep you safe and protected by convincing you it isn't safe and to stay stable and not push too much.
We begin looking for validation outside of ourselves and maybe permission to go forward. We may received positive feedback or we may have people project their fears on us and tell us that what we are doing is scary. I definitely get that validation feels great, sort of like confirming we are doing the right thing. However it's tricky because what is right for someone else, may not be right for us. We also don't strengthen our own self-trust skills.
From my own experiences, I know external validation feels great. However I also have learned that my answers are inside and I needed to tap into them. I learned to trust what I know best for myself and I have the answers. I have gained experience in life to know what works and doesn't. I am aware of what it feels like to be excited and lit-up or not so much. I may not have all the pieces figured out but I have a deep inner knowing of what I truly want. I pursue my passions and goals, I can now speak my own truth. I am aware there is competition out there and I won't always be validated, regardless I know what is best for my own particular path in life.
So, how do you build self-trust? Here are a few ideas to get started:
Photo Cred: Gina Scott
At any time of the day or night, we can flip on our television or open our tablet or phone and be immersed in information. On one hand, this exposure to such a vast amount of knowledge and data can be incredible and fast. On the other hand, sifting through all of the noise that this causes can be nearly impossible and quite overwhelming!
If you are already prone to feeling stress or anxiety, our “always on” world isn’t doing you any favors. The human mind is a powerful tool, but one that is fragile if misused. With a 24 hour news cycle and social media platforms, our minds are constantly inundated with unnecessary junk.
You may not realize it, but when you hear a news story about how the world may come to an end, your mind continues to process that information long after you’ve changed the channel. In the news example, your mind is subconsciously trying to cope with the possibility of certain doom! We can even compare ourselves to others and wonder “Am I not good enough?” We needlessly put our mind through the ringer when we are constantly exposing it to these stimuli.
Now, compound all of that with the “normal” stress and anxiety you feel on a day-to-day basis: juggling demands from work; needs around the house; time spent with friends and loved ones fostering important relationships. By themselves, these are already a lot to deal with! Throw in the barrage of media from the TV and our phones, and we’re in hyperdrive. What can we do? How do we make it stop?
DISCONNECT. STEP BACK. BREATHE. FOCUS ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU.
When it all seems too much to handle and your stress level is reaching its peak, just unplug. Even if just for 15 minutes at the beginning. Find time in your day where you don’t have a TV on and where you’re not looking at your phone. Just be present in the moment.
Find someplace comfortable. Someplace where you feel safe and away from distractions. Focus on your breathing. When you focus on your breathing, you’re telling your mind that it is okay to slow down and take a break from processing of all that “stuff.” Like any good exercise, this takes practice. But just like any type of practice, the more you do it, the better you become. Finding 15 minutes is no longer a chore, but part of your daily routine, and a routine that will leave you feeling alive, powerful, and in control of your life, even in this chaotic world!
The mind is a beautiful thing, but we must take the time to care for it. When you step back and focus your energy inward, your mind can take a break. You’ve done yourself and your mind an incredible favor.