40 Days to a Personal Revolution 

Last night my yoga studio started our 40 Days to a Personal Revolution program. This is my second time participating in the program and I am so darn excited! No only do we have an amazingly talented leader, but I am so ready to dive in, dig deep, and see all the changes I make in my life for the better. The first time I worked through the program, for me, there was a lot of fear, apprehension, anxiety, and holding back. This time the vibe already feels completely different. There’s a calm, almost a stillness I felt in last nights meeting. I feel like I am entering this program from a place of being grounded. 

During our last program in the fall of 2015 I uncovered so many truths within myself. I was able, for the first time ever, to articulate and verbalize thoughts I hadn’t been able to for years. It felt like all of those webs that were tangled in my brain became untangled. I had some pretty huge shifts during the last program and so I thought it would be neat to document and blog my way through the program this time.

 
Last night, as a group, we set ground promises- not rules. Why? Because rules are made to be broken, promises are forever. And for me, this program is forever. This program will forever change me. When I am finished with this program at the end of February I won’t be the same person I was when I started. 

During the program we make a commitment to practice 6 days a week, be mindful of our eating habits, AM & PM daily meditations, and attend weekly meetings.

  
We were also asked last night to set some personal promises for ourselves. Attainable goals that would set us up for success. For me that looks like:  

– Being authentic and true to myself as well as those around me

– Getting uncomfortable 

– Sharing without fear

-Trusting the process-wholeheartedly

– Digging deep

– Building community 

– Less shame

– No internet/social media after 9pm

Each week we will work through 2 of Baron Baptiste’s Laws and 1 chapter of his book. This week our laws are:

1. Seek the Truth

2. Be Willing to Come Apart

And our chapter is: Presence

I cannot wait to start this journey, and see what lies on the other side of it! 

  

   

A Piece of my Heart.

This week was a struggle. Looking back I was over scheduled, over tired, and over everything by Friday at 4:30.  Although I did have moments of Joy shine through and brighten moments of my week, my week overall wasn’t very joy-filled.  Since making this realization I’m starting to go back and go through my motions, my emotions, my schedule, and my past week to figure out what the  major differences between Week 1 and Week 2 were because I did feel such a huge difference.

In the meantime, while I am trying to figure all of that out, I came across an article in a book I am reading by Brene Brown called I thought It was Just Me (but it isn’t). Making the journey from “What will people think?” to “I am enough.” First of all, WOAH!! This book has been an incredible eye opener, for me. It has allowed me to know that I truly thought I was alone in my struggle and I am not.  I don’t think me reading this book should come to any of you as a shock. This is a year of me working through all.of.my.feelings. Even the not-so-great ones in order to better myself. In order to live more authentically. So, in my latest reading of her book I came across this incredibly powerful passage that related to my current life in almost every way possible. I had one of those, “this is everything I’ve been wanting to say, but don’t know how to say it” moments!!  And it felt so good, even if they aren’t my own words. They are still a stepping stone. A catapult into healing. A friend of Brene’s was working through infertility and decided to write a letter/pamphlet to those in her life who didn’t necessarily know or understand how to help her work through her feelings while on her journey. I am currently in the same position, not with infertility, but with my life post stroke. I am in a place of vulnerability, confusion, shame, discrimination, of being misunderstood, of being unrelatable, of being the minority. So for me, and for the sake of ridding my heart and mind of some of the shame that is associated with a life changing brain injury, along with taking back the power and progress in my life, I have decided to type the letter.  The only difference will be I am changing the word “infertility” with the word “condition.” Here it goes…

“I want to share my feeling of my condition with you, because I want you to understand my struggle.   I know that understanding my condition is difficult; there are times when it seems even I don’t understand.  This struggle has provoked intense and unfamiliar feelings in me and I fear that my reactions to these feelings might be misunderstood.  I hope my ability to cope and your ability to understand will improve as I share my feelings with you. I want you to understand.

 

You may describe me this way: obsessed, moody, helpless,envious, too serious, obnoxious, aggressive, antagonistic, and cynical. They aren’t very admirable traits; no wonder your understanding of my condition is difficult.  I prefer to describe myself this way: confused, rushed and impatient, afraid, isolated and alone, guilty and ashamed, angry, sad and hopeless, and unsettled.

 

My condition makes me feel confused. I always assumed I was strong. I spent years avoiding being “weak.”

 

My condition makes me feel rushed and impatient.   My condition came on 3 years ago. My life plan is suddenly halted. I worked so hard to be the very best I could be and now I feel I am at the bottom.  

 

My condition makes me feel afraid.  My condition is full of unknowns and I’m frightened because I need some definite answers. How long will this last?

 

My condition makes me feel isolated and alone. Reminders of unaffected people are everywhere.  I must be the only one enduring this invisible curse.  I don’t share with others, because they can’t relate. 

 

My condition makes me feel guilty and ashamed.  Frequently I forget that my condition is a medical problem and should be treated as one.  My condition destroys my self-esteem and I feel like a failure. Why am I being punished?  What did I do to deserve this?  Am I not worthy of a normal life?

 

My condition makes me feel angry.  Everything makes me feel angry, and I know much of my anger is misdirected.  I’m angry at my body because it was betrayed me even though I’ve always taken care of it.  I’m angry at my partner because a part of me feels like he will never understand my feelings of inadequacy.

My financial resources may determine the amount of answers I have surrounding my condition, and the amount of rehabilitation I am able to achieve.  I can’t miss any more work, or I’ll lose my job. I can’t go to a specialist because it means more travel time, more missed work, and greater expenses.  Finally, I’m angry at everyone else.  Everyone has opinions on my inability to overcome my condition.  Everyone has easy solutions.  Everyone seems to know too little and say too much.

 

My condition makes me feel sad and hopeless.  My condition feels like I’ve lost my future, and no one knows of my sadness.  I feel hopeless; my condition robs me of my energy.  I’ve never cried so much or so easily.  

 

My condition makes me feel unsettled.  My life is on hold. Making decision abut my immediate and long-term future seems impossible.  I can’t decide about education, career, purchasing a home, pursuing a hobby, getting a pet, vacations, business trips, and house guests.  The more I struggle with my condition, the less control I have.  

 

Occasionally I feel my panic subside. I’m learning some helpful ways to cope; I’m now convinced that I’m not crazy, and I believe I’ll survive.  I’m learning to listen to my body and to be assertive, not aggressive, about my needs. I’m realizing that good medical care and good emotional care are not necessarily found in the same place.  I’m trying to be more than my condition while gaining enthusiasm, joyfulness, and zest for life.

 

You can help me. I know you care about me and I know my condition affects our relationship. My sadness causes you sadness; what hurts me, hurts you, too.  I believe we can help each other through this sadness.  Individually we both seem quite powerless but together we can be stronger.  Maybe some of these hints will help us to better understand my condition.  

 

I need you to be a listener.  Talking about my struggle helps me to make decisions.  Let me know you are available for me.  It’s difficult for me to expose my private thoughts if you are rushed or have a deadline for the end of our conversation.   Please don’t tell me all of the worse things that have happened to others or how easily someone else’s condition was solved.

 

I need you to be supportive. Understand that may decisions aren’t made casually.  I’ve agonized over them. Remind me that you respect these decisions even if you disagree with them, because you know they are made carefully.

 

I need you to be comfortable with me, and then I also will feel more comfortable.  Talking about my condition sometimes feels awkward.  Are you worried you might say the wrong thing? Share those feelings with me.   Ask me if I want tot talk. Sometimes I will want to, and sometimes I wont, but it will remind me that you care.

 

I need you to be sensitive.  Although I may joke about my condition to help myself cope, it doesn’t seem as funny when others joke about it.  Please don’t tease me with remarks like “they were in such an uproar, I thought they were going to have a stroke” It’s no comfort to hear empty jokes.

 

I need you to be honest with me. Let me know that you may need time to adjust to some of my decisions. I also need adjustment time. If there are things you don’t understand, say so.  I need you to be informed.  Your advice and suggestions are only frustrating to me if they aren’t based on fact.  Be well informed so you can educate others when they make remarks based on myths.  Please don’t think that my condition will be cured if I relax more and stress less.  Don’t tell me this is God’s will.  Don’t ask me my need to justify my need to live life as I once did prior to my condition. 

 

I need you to be patient.  Remember that working through my condition is a process. It takes time. There are no guarantee’s, no package deals, no complete kits, no one right answer, and no “quickie choices.”

 

I need you to be strengthening and boosting my self-esteem.  My sense of worthlessness hampers my ability to take charge.

 

Encourage me to maintain my sense of humor; guide me to find joys.  Celebrate with me my successes, even ones as small as making it through a medical appointment without crying.  Remind me that I am more than a person with a condition.  Help me by sharing your strength.

 

Eventually I will be beyond my struggle with my condition.  I know my condition will never completely go away because it will change my life.  I won’t be able to return to the person I was before my condition, but I also will no longer by controlled by this struggle.  I will leave the struggle behind me, and from that I will have improved my skills for empathy, patience, resilience, forgiveness, decision making, and self-assessment.  I feel grateful that you are trying to ease my journey through this condition struggle by giving me your understanding.”    ~Jody Earle

 

My sincerest and most authentic hope in posting these words is that you can see that people who are suffering out loud, or in silence, are trying their very best every single day to overcome their obstacles.  We are people too. We just happen to be on this journey that has changed our lives. And we hope that you continue to support and understand us.

  

  
 
 

 

 

Week 1: Joy

I am officially 1 week into the new year and embracing life with the word JOY. I am learning how to “be” joyful. So far my experience has been this: incredibly life giving!! One week of living life with a completely different outlook, on life and on people, and I have had a huge shift. Before this week I didn’t feel too much of a connection with people, was consumed with self doubt, fear, anxiety and shame.  And while those feeling haven’t completely diseppated they have decreased significantly.  After this week I feel so much lighter, brighter, happier, more open, and way more fulfilled. Perhaps the most eye opening realization is that I have the ability to control how I feel. I have the ability to determine whether or not my day is going to be full of joy, or crummy.  I have the ability to choose joy. Always. I can choose joy the minute I wake up, and I can choose to remember joy at the end  of my day when it is the craziest! I can choose joy to make the little moments count as much as the big ones.

One of the biggest changes I have made this week is choosing joy and genuine happiness for me.  If it makes me happy I go for it. I speak it. I act on it. For me this means living a life that is less filtered- not dwelling on what others think of my opinions, but rather speaking my mind. I have given credit to my opinions and outlooks. I have grown my self respect. I have grown my self compassion, and self empathy. I have lived the most authentic life I know possible right here in this moment. I’m realizing that by living how I was (filtered, inauthentic, non joyous, unfulfilled, not self respecting, people pleasing) I really wasn’t living at all. I was simply the worlds puppet, just going through the motions that I thought others wanted. Answering with what I thought others wanted to hear. It turned out I wasn’t living for me. I was living for other people. I was so consumed by people pleasing that I somehow lost the true meaning of life, and myself. And you know what? It was exhausting, and incredibly sad. I lost who I was. The good news is 1 week into the New Year and I am slowly starting to find my way back to the true me. Or I could say the new me. One minute, one hour, one day at a time.

 

I’m not gonna lie… This week hasn’t been the most comfortable, week of my life. In fact I experienced a lot of uncomfortable.
But I am realizing that…

 
Uncomfortable leads to growth.

Uncomfortable leads to connection.

Uncomfortable leads to authenticity.

Uncomfortable is SO worth it!

 
For the first time, probably ever, I am listening to my body. I am listening to what my body wants and needs. It’s likes and dislikes. And truly giving it what it needs. Rest. Peace. Nourishment. Laughter. Release. Stretching. Meditation. Connection. Stability. And it feels absolutely amazing!

This week I tried new things. I totally went out of my comfort zone, and challenged myself by doing a handstand workshop at my yoga studio with a friend. Yes, me-a handstand work shop. The mother of three who doesn’t even remember what it means to “activate your core”… And who quite frankly didn’t even realize I still had a core!! But I did it. I put myself out there and I GREW! I felt vulnerable, uncomfortable, fearful, and sure I wouldn’t be successful. And guess what?! thanks to an amazing leader, and an incredible workshop partner I DID IT!!! Yes I felt silly at times, yes I felt like I was doing it all wrong at times, and yes I wanted to go running out of that room at times. But I didn’t. I pushed myself. I pushed through all of that fear and anxiety and I grew myself. I allowed joy to completely consume me…And I’m still living on the natural high of yesterday’s workshop.

This week I chose joy and happiness. For me. For my body. For my mind. For my soul.  This certainly has been one incredible life giving, joyful week!

 

Goals for 2016

One of my top goals for 2016 has everything to do with health. If you haven’t already read this post, I encourage you to. If you are looking for the cliff notes here they are…3 years ago at the age of 27 I suffered a large stroke. Yes. Really. My road to recovery included 6 months of intense physical and occupational therapy, having to retest for my drivers license, and each day is still much of an uphill battle. So for 2016 I am making sure to make my health my top priority.
What does that look like? For me making my health my top priority looks like…

 
1. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every single night. For me this is one of the worst side effects of my stroke. One bad nights sleep leaves me feeling hungover. Seriously it’s the best way to describe it. Everything hurts. I have ringing in my ears, I’m unable to concentrate, and I have blurry vision and get dizzy very easily. No fun, so for me staying up an extra few hours simply isn’t worth it.

 
2. No alcohol ( well kind of ) don’t get me wrong I do like to have a good time, and let loose every once in a while and a glass of wine certainly helps ease my social anxiety when I feel it creeping in, but honestly the way I have been feeling the past year after drinking even just one glass of wine totally isn’t worth it for me. I almost immediately get a headache, and I sleep terribly on nights that I have even one glass of vino :/ if you read #1 you know why poor sleep is so terrible for my health, and don’t get me started on the tummy issues that I get as a result of drinking alcohol either. So my goal is rather than drinking 2-3 times per week it’s looking more like 1-2 time per month MAX! I mean come on I’m all about that healthy lifestyle but sometimes a momma’s just gotta have her mommy juice and loosen up!

 
3. Cultivating Community. This one is new for me. In middle school and high school we moved so much ( my dad was in the Coast guard) and I had such a terrible group of friends. This combination never allowed me to really develop and maintain that strong grounded connection with anyone. It felt like the minute I did we were either packing up boxes to move again, or I was being betrayed by another close friend of mine. For me at this stage and walk of life this isn’t an easy task. Or something people openly discuss. But so many of us walk this path. Loneliness. Everyone is already established in their own little groups and cliques and I’m all like ” hey guys, I’m over here… Wanna hang out?” No…but seriously. That’s what it feels like most days. I am working on this though. I have turned a new leaf though…Within the past couple of months I have joined an amazing and supportive yoga community who have made me feel like I belong for the first time in the longest time. Just me, as I am. No hoops, no tryouts, just open hearts! I’m looking forward to building a firm foundation on those already established connections to springboard me into deepening those relationships. And for me that looks like putting myself out there, which leads to #3.

 
3. Being vulnerable. In case you skipped past 1 and 2 this is a biggie for me. I don’t think I have ever once in my whole life been vulnerable. Up until now being vulnerable has just been too uncomfortable for me. It’s a door that was shut many many years ago, duct taped, nailed, and soldered shut never to be opened. My natural go to is to close up tight like an oyster shell the second real conversation happens. I’m more of a light and fluffy kind of girl. But what I am learning is that in order to live a life of connection, a life of joy, a life of compassion, caring, and wholeheartedness I HAVE to be vulnerable. I have to put myself out there and I have to let others in. As awkward and uncomfortable as it is it really is a good thing.

 
4. Acknowledging and letting go of/working through my shame. The past couple of weeks have brought an awareness to how much shame I am carrying around, and how long I’ve been carrying it. My childhood wasn’t the best (hoping to be vulnerable enough later in the year to share more details on that), I didn’t make the wisest decisions as a teenager when it came to school, I became a very young mom ( without a connected community), I married young, I never finished college (though I did manage to rack up a TON of college debt), I had a terrible basically non existent relationship with my mother (thankfully it has gotten much better the past few years), I tend to be a very jealous person, I have a tendency ( in my eyes) to be selfish, and I’m sure there’s more but for now that feels like enough self mutilation! I promise I’m not a masochist 🙂

 
5. Living a life of authenticity in order to live life of happiness. Pure, passionate, heartfelt happiness. And I want my children to know this as well. I want them to know this possibility. Whatever path you are on, you can change it. My bible scripture for this year is “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 I feel like a house whose roof just BLEW OFF and all you can see is bright blue, sun shining sky above. That’s where I am headed. My cracks are beaming with light!  Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we truly are. People are allowed to change. I’m allowed to change.  I’m learning this. I think because I have lived a life where the norm was stagnancy I felt like if I did try to live a more authentic life, everyone would think I was a fraud. A goody two shoes. An over achiever. Well guess what?! That NOT TRUE! And it’s okay if I have to tell myself that every single day ( I’m probably going to have to!)

 
5. I want to be of service. I have a servants heart. I love helping others.  I remember being a little girl and watching the commercials about starving children and just wanting to reach through the TV and hug each and every one of them. I currently volunteer at our Yoga studio as part of their Fair Trade Team. But I want to make a commitment to help others. When someone is sick. I want to drop of dinner. Fresh fruit. Chicken soup. Baked ziti. When someone is in need of a listening ear, I want to be it. When someone needs a hug I want to give it. This is important for my health in the new year because doing this makes me crazy happy!!! Like truly, down to my core, a little kid on Christmas happy. So I’ve decided I’m going to help others more! At some point in this life I would absolutely LOVE to be a part of a missions trip and work with children!

 
6. Holistic health FIRST– this year I am embracing all things holistic. The more natural the better. Chamomile tea, lavender lotion, daily meditation, yoga, Reiki. Lots and lots of water. Self care. Less social media. More real life. I’m learning technology is not connection- at least not for me. Most days it’s actually narcissistic. Chiropractic care. Reading and learning as much as I possibly can. Growing. Nourishing my mind, body, and soul. The Dalai Lama said “when we talk we are simply repeating what we already know. But if we listen we may learn something new.” How amazing are these words?! Another reason for my approach to holistic health is my hope in it healing my body. I have felt so exhausted and sick and have been dealing with residual effects, of my stroke, for 3 years and I’m sick of being consumed by frustration because my body won’t do what I want it to do. So I am taking charge of my health. I am the patient and I’m making sure my doctor has my health as her first priority. I am going through some testing to rule out anything serious, and to see if there are any underlying conditions that need to be medically treated. My prayer is that if I change my habits, eating, and wellness I can heal my own body from the inside out. I’m sure I’ll have more to post on this later.

 
7. Letting go of the guilt.  Mom guilt BE GONE! you aren’t welcome here anymore. This is your eviction notice. Bye bye! As mothers society places an incredible amount of pressure on us to do it all, have it all, share all, know all, want all, and if we can’t do this then they might as well revoke our mom card. I’m done with all of the soul crushing society has done. This past year has shown me that perfection is exhausting! Not only that but I can’t do it all. Obviously because when I did try to do it all I ended up having a stroke at the age of 27! Trust me when I say this-your health is not worth perfecting the latest Pinterest design for your 3 year old’s birthday party. It’s just not! In becoming more aware of my body and what it needs I am realizing how terrible and detrimental to my personal health stress is.  It really is a wicked thing.  When my older two were just babes we waited until they were 3 to send them to preschool and even then it was only a couple of days a week. We were fortunate to work opposite schedules so that one of us was always home with our boys. Then along came number 3. Preschool days increased for kid #2 and we added aftercare for our 3rd. Did I mentioned hubby and I both work full time? Well here we are with kid #3 who is in full time, five day preschool ( who is also the first kid dropped off and the last kid picked up) and our older two are in after care more days than not. And You know what? Sometimes as a parent you have to do what you have to do. End of story. No shame, no guilt. My kids absolutely love their schools and my older two beg to go to aftercare even on days when we don’t need it!

 
So that’s about it. For now. What is one of your top priorities/goals for 2016? Leave a comment below!

2016-The Year of my Rebirth

2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

How amazing is that verse? And the timing is perfect too!  It’s probably the most cleansing of all verses I have read lately and it speaks to me. In fact I think it is going to be my motto for 2016. The second part of 2015 showed me ( actually most time it felt like it was SCREAMING to me) that I don’t have to be who I’ve always been. If I want to be someone new, who believes in something new and that makes me happy than I am able to be that. That is allowed. I don’t need someone’s permission. This is my life and if it’s going to be the best one then I’ve got to start doing something different.

I’m realizing I am worthy of happiness. I am worthy of self care. People actually love the lives they lead. Say what?! Yes, it’s true and I want me some of dat! {no that’s not a typo!} They feel whole. Satisfaction. Complete. Energized. Uplifted. Supported. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of constantly feeling drained. I want to live in the moment, heck I want to seize the moment… Every single moment of every day. No regrets. No I wish I would haves. None of that. Intentional, authentic, life breathing living is what 2016 is going to be all about. I want to develop deep, meaningful, life breathing relationships. And those which no longer serve me? I want to let those go. I want to enjoy and appreciate all this life has to offer.

I’m hoping to become better assimilated to this lifestyle by reading Brene Browns The Gifts of Imperfections- I’ll let you know how that goes. Part of me is scared to death to even open the first page… The other part of me feels like a 4 year old on Christmas morning. Ever since I was a little girl I remember trying my hardest to cover any imperfections that others may see. Any jagged edges that don’t allow me to fit in. My entire life that is all I have wanted- to fit in. To feel like I have a strong belonging to a supportive and uplifting community. I wanted to create the perfect life. The perfect scenery. The perfect backdrop. Well guess what? 30 years later I am realizing that doesn’t exist. Now that I’m realizing this I feel like it is time for me to figure out how to live with and embrace my imperfections because those imperfections have brought me to where I am and who I have become.

I am realizing…everyone’s path is unique including mine, and that is what makes us so special.

I am realizing…the world would be a pretty boring place if we all had the same stories. Can you imagine? How could we create any connections with others if every single one of us was the same? Sound pretty lame to me.

I am realizing that my community and my people are out there. And when I find them they will accept all of me. I won’t have to hide or cover up or pretend.

These are just a few of the realizations I have come to and want to continue to develop in the coming year. I hope you stick around and join me on this journey!

 

Welcoming in the New!

I have to say New Years is quickly growing to be my most favorite time of the year. Do you feel the same? Or maybe it’s just me getting older… Either way I love the feeling of a new start, which is ironic because I don’t do well with change- go figure. I love the breath of fresh air that comes with the new year. A clean slate. A fresh start. A do-over for all that has gone wrong or undone in the past year. A time for reflection. Quiet. Calm and stillness always come over me. No matter what happened in the past year it doesn’t matter. Because it’s a New year. A New you. A fresh start. A new beginning. It feels like the perfect opportunity to start something new…Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
For me that newness looks like completely turning my life upside down. Taking inventory. Getting rid of the garbage. All things tangible and intangible. Letting go of the good to make room for the great! Making room. Creating space. Letting in the love, light, and most of all joy! Lots of it! 
Oh I will be so thankful to say goodbye and good riddens to 2015. It certainly was a year of hurt, heartache, despair, health scares, and heaviness. With all the bad there was some good. And the good is what got me through. The good is what led me right to where I am. Right here. Right now. Would I have chosen this path? Never in a million years. Pain and heartache is terrible, but from it comes growth. From heart heavy experiences newness is birthed. Right before our eyes. I learned this year that heartache is a part of life. It’s real, and we are all going to experience it at some point. I am beginning to realize this. It’s a terrible thing to walk through, but for me it has made me truly appreciate all that remains. Heartache and pain force us to look back on the wonderful, happy memories we were fortunate enough to experience. These brief moments help to fill in those cracks, sometimes craters, we have experienced. They give way to new found connection and friendships. Authentic connection. Deep life breathing relationships.

  

2016 Here I Come!!

My wish for 2016….
2015 was filled with events that I never imagined happening. This year was filled with incredible life-giving events like finding my love for yoga, creating new friendships, and becoming genuinely present to everything in my life. It was also a year filled with gut wrenching grief over the loss of my uncle.  The man who raised me. 2015 was a year filled with new routines, and schedules for my husband and I, as well as our kids. It has been a year of me finally opening up and sharing about my imperfections and inabilities and in doing that realizing that it is okay to have those imperfections and inabilities. It was a year of realizing that perfection is exhausting! It was a year filled with more heaviness than happiness. It was a year of complete vulnerability and growth. It was a year of digging the deepest I have ever dug to find out who I am, what I stand for, and what I want for my future.  It was a year of authenticity, and integrity. It was a year of finding out that I am worthy. Worthy of happiness, worthy of love, worthy of rest, worthy of not having to do it all, or have it all together. This was the year I discovered meditation and the miraculous changes, for the better, it brought into my life. This was a year with a serious health scare for my husband which really called me out on my way of living, and showed me just how precious our relationship is to me.  It was a year of clearing my mental fog, and discovering what makes me happy. Discovering what fills me up. What brings me joy. And all of this was just skimming the surface. I am so glad to have discovered all of these realizations because I can use them to dig deeper  in 2016.  And after all this year has taught and brought into my life I figured out exactly what my word for 2016 should be, and it couldn’t be any more perfect.

A few years ago I started a New Years tradition by choosing a word for the year ahead, and after taking a few weeks to think about my word for 2016 I tossed around a few options I finally made a decision. It just came to me. It hit me on the head like a ton of bricks.  My decision was sealed, and all doubt I had ceased during the last few days when this word kept popping up in my life in the strangest places. Songs, writings, conversations, yoga practices. Seriously like 1,000 times in just a few days! Which make me SO happy!  I can’t help but believe it was a sign that this was truly meant to be my word for the coming year.
My word for 2016 is JOY. I want to experience joy every single day. I want to experience it in the biggest and the smallest of ways. I want to be fully present to joy.  Authentic, life breathing JOY.  I want to do more of what brings me joy. Yoga, meditation, coffee dates, blogging, reading, family time.  I want to bring others joy. Serving, listening, caring, supporting. I want to feel so much joy that it overflows from my cup and fills the cup of others! Hallelujah!  I want to be filled with so much joy that I become a light. A light that others can see. A light that others can feel.  A light that I am able to share. A light that ignites the light in others. I want to experience joy in all aspects of my life. Whatever I am doing I want to be joyful while doing it. In order to be more intentional and fully submerge my life with JOY in the next year I am going to start a JOY JAR. This joy Jar will contain an event from every.single.day that brings me joy. I am excited that I will be able to look back on 2016 and remember all of the joy that I was lucky enough to experience. All of the joy I was able to share. All of the joy I was able to spread. And you wanna know something even better? I am starting this TODAY!!  I’m not waiting 4 more days to experience the amazingness of joy in my life. I feel joy already in just starting this project so I am committing to this and starting to fill my joy jar today!!

What word would you choose for 2016?

On Being Present

For far too long I have been living life on auto pilot. I haven’t been feeling, experiencing, seeing, or being with what’s around me. I haven’t been present in my life. And worst of all I haven’t been growing. I’ve become stagnant. Stuck. Nowhere to go and no path in sight. I’ve been chained to this life and all that surrounds it. I’ve been on the bitterness express and I’ve been the conductor. No more. No more excuses. No more unhappy. No more next time. The time is now. The moment is now. If I want to laugh I’m going to laugh. If I want to give someone a hug, I’m going to give that hug. I want to become a person who actually enjoys living the life I lead. I have been given so many things I wished for since I was a little girl, and I want to make the most of this journey I have been blessed with. I want to have a smile on my face, and I want to share that smile with other and maybe make them smile too. I want to impact others. I want to uplift. I want to go with the flow, and let go of the overthinking. I want to experience. I don’t want to be afraid. I want to get messy. I want to be present. But most of all I want to feel. I want to be present. All the time. Always. I want to feel this life I have been given. The good, the happy, and everything in between. I want to feel my heart beating every single day and I want to be overflowing with thankfulness that it is. I want to feel grace, as well as give it. I want to feel worthy, and let someone else know how worthy they are. I want to feel loved and appreciated and let others know how much I love and appreciate them. I want to be me. I want to be the exact person I was meant to be and I don’t wanna be ashamed for it. I want to be present and feel this life. Every single damn day!  ​

  

Why I stopped saying “I’m Sorry” and why you should too.

A few weeks ago I made a conscience effort to remove a certain phrase from my everyday language.  A phrase I noticed I was saying way too often. A phrase that instantly changed my attitude. A phrase that came with darkness.  A phrase that could turn my entire day upside down. That phrase is “I’m Sorry.”

The first reason I stopped saying this phrase was because I was saying it all.the.time. Some days it felt like I was saying it around the clock. It became my go-to, an almost automated response.  It easily became second nature for these words to just roll off my tongue.  The second and BIGGEST reason I stopped saying it was because I noticed, when I said it, whether I was truly guilty or not it brought this enormous weight of guilt upon me. A guilt that physically brought me down and broke me down.

If I am being perfectly honest I have been carrying around feelings of guilt for far too long-not just weeks or months, but I am talking YEARS!  I can remember being very little, maybe 5 or 6, and feeling guilty. I don’t know why, I just did.  Thinking back and reflecting on this new realization, I don’t know that I ever had feelings of being care-free, even as a young child.  As the years went on the guilt grew-not purposely, or intentionally by any means-I think I just grew up in a family where guilt was normal.  Something was always happening, there was always drama-combine that with the instability that occurred on an almost daily basis and that is the perfect concoction for a guilt filled childhood and adolescence. Not to mention the awkwardness of high school, the pressure of college, and then the reality of becoming a mom of not one, but 3 little boys certainly added to the guilty feelings.

Being on this latest path to working on and bettering me, and making sure that I am being taken care of includes not only my physical health but also my mental and emotional health I experience and feel on a daily/hourly/momentary basis. So for me, removing this simple, yet debilitating (to me) phrase has been crucial.  It is part of a conscience and willful effort each and every day that I make to remove all things toxic from my life. If it doesn’t bring me happiness, if it doesn’t uplift me, or if it isn’t constructive than I need to reevaluate having it in my life-even for something as simple as a phrase!  No longer saying “I’m sorry” has directly had an impact on lifting me up-mentally, emotionally, spiritually-in every way possible.  It has been a game changer for the way I live and move through my daily life!

Don’t get me wrong-there are times when it is definitely necessary to apologize to others-especially when you are the  one in the wrong. There’s something to be said for carefully and skillfully admitting when you are guilty and acknowledging your wrong doing.  That is a completely different topic-for another day. That’s NOT what this blog post is about.

This blog post is about letting go of the guilt for the little things.  The things and events that can’t be helped, or avoided, or rearranged, or planned for.  The things that in all honestly can’t fixed by you in any way, shape, or form. That is the stuff I want us to stop apologizing for. The office is out of creamer? Stuck in traffic because of an accident and now you are going to be late? Your kid takes his water in a mismatched re-usable water bottle because you ran out of water bottles? Missing a sports practice because in all honesty if you had to add one more thing to your plate that day your brain would have exploded? You ran out of diapers or shampoo or toothpaste, or soap, or even worse-toilet paper?  I know in our house there are 4 other sets of eyes and 4 other sets of hands using these same items that I do. I am not the only one who can acknowledge when we have used the last toilet paper roll, or the last squeeze of toothpaste and it is time to buy more.  It’s the little things like these. The events and things that can’t be helped, or avoided, yet they still happen.  Well guess what? It happens! it’s called life, and you don’t need to apologize for it! These little set-backs will continue to happen regardless if I take on the responsibility or carry the guilt for not keeping on top of the toilet paper roll count in our house! And that mismatched re-usable water bottle? It’s better for the environment than a plastic water bottle anyway-so good for you mom!

The past few weeks of working on me have truly been eye opening.

I know this is just the beginning of my journey, but I am already seeing a happier, lighter, healthier, calmer side to myself that I don’t think I have ever seen.

I love this experience and walk of life I am on right now.

I want to be the best that I can be for my children, for my husband, for all of those friends and family that we love so much.

I want to live life with a purpose. I want to be intentional in all that I do.

Family 2

On Fear and Fighting

During one of our late night talks this week my husband reminded me of a time in our lives when we didn’t know what our future held. It’s funny how once we actually make it through life happenings we file them away in our “never remember or bring up this moment again” file….Rewind to 5 years ago when I left my job of close to 5 years to embark on a completely different//new//uncharted possible career. I was going from a late night bartending gig to a desk job. I was going from sharing a place of employment with my husband for the past 5 years to being completely on my own.  

Completely different routine. Completely different location. Completely different people. Completely different flow. Completely different pay scale.

We were scared. We were nervous. We were unsure. All of those earthly feelings nearly paralyzed me from taking the leap.
I remember not knowing what the future held. I was unsure that this was a good choice for us and our little family, but I was completely trustworthy of our God. I knew He held us. I could feel this was the right move for our family. I knew if I ever wanted a semi- normal (weekends and holidays off) routine this was my move and this was the time to make it.
The past few months and life-moments have left my faith shaky. And I don’t like it one bit. I’m in a place of in between. I know who God is, and I know who I serve, but I don’t always rest assured in that fact. I have a terrible tendency to want to fix everything on my own. I am a controller by nature. A first born gal who can do it all. A fixer. A leader. I want to plan things and ways according to me and my schedule. I want things to play out to serve and humble me. I want everything to fall into the place I want it to fall into. Anyone else? 
This all comes about because once again my husband and I find ourselves in a place of the unknown. We don’t have answers to questions we want answered. We don’t know what our next move is. We don’t know what the future holds for us. 

It’s certainly not easy and I have to make a conscience effort, but I am telling myself every.single.moment of every.single.day he’ll be there.

A constant necessary, tangible reminder. 

Erica hold onto Him.

Give it all over to Him.

Stay steadfast in your faith.

You are a daughter of Him and His kingdom.

Run to Him.

He is there for you. 

His love never fails.

It never gives up.
It is SO easy to let the fear win. It is so easy to give in. To give up. Well you know what world? This girl isn’t giving up//backing down //or giving in. This is just another battle. Another fight. A fight that I’m feeling fully capable of winning with a little help from Him. I’m a fighter. An overcomer. I’m ready to hold steady to my faith, plant my feet, and let the storm roll through. 

Don’t give into the fear.

Give into your faith and Jesus.

He’s got you. He’s got this.