Giving Thanks

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giving-thanks

This is my favorite time of year. I love the collective attention on giving thanks. For several years, practicing gratitude has been a daily habit and I have noticed changes in my outlook, overflowing blessings and a more open heart from this practice.

It is amazing how the simple act of saying or writing “I am grateful for…” can create a shift in perspective. Ever since I started this practice, I notice the smallest things like a tiny flower blooming in the weeds because my mind is calibrated to see the good.

Practicing gratitude does not take extra time. In fact, you can do it as you pour your morning tea, on your commute, during lunch and my favorite, right before bed. As you end your day, reflect on the day’s activities and think of at least 3 things that you are grateful for, every day.

I was reviewing my gratitude journal during a particularly rough day. As I read the pages, my thoughts of scarcity and defeat transformed into abundance and victory. I was reminded of all the greatness that had occurred and felt immense gratitude and joy from the exercise. It is difficult to maintain a negative mindset when you remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for.

Spend some time this week offering thanks to the universe for the opportunities it has provided and to the people who have made an impact on your life. Then, create a daily practice which can change your mind, body and soul. Positive thoughts have a higher vibrational frequency and will attract like into our lives. When our output is grateful, it is amazing how more things to be grateful for occur.

Giving thanks can also raise the vibrations that have been lowered due to recent events. Will you do your part to raise the planet’s vibration and offer gratitude today?

Here is a free download to help you get started on your gratitude practice: Gratitude Sheet

Overcoming Fear

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fear

I felt extremely small and terrified to embark on something I had very little experience in. I looked down at the canyon and felt my knees tingle, like they wanted to buckle. The Grand Canyon is enormous and steep and I was about to hike my way down to the bottom with a pack on my back.

My idea of hiking consisted of trails around California that were shorter in distance and less strenuous which definitely did not involve carrying a 30 pound pack on my back. I had trained for the hike by running for endurance, conditioning for strength and hiking the trails around San Diego to work on elevation. However, I soon learned that my training did not compare to the demands of the Grand Canyon.

Everything was fine inside me until I faced the hike. The months leading up to it, I was excited and sure of myself and physical ability. But, when I saw the other hikers in their real gear, I realized that I looked like a novice in my borrowed pack and 1 water bottle. My feelings of inadequacy continued to grow inside me.

It is amazing how fear can permeate and almost paralyze.

The morning of the hike, I woke up with the sun afraid that I was going to fail and wanted to stop before it even began. I stopped at the gift shop to pick up another water bottle so I didn’t dehydrate and made a step closer to committing to the hike.

As we began hiking down the South Kaibob Trail, my fear was replaced by courage. The farther we hiked down into the canyon, the more diverse the terrain became and I found myself in awe of the beauty around me. I remember my first glimpse of the Colorado River after 4 hot hours of hiking switchbacks and felt wonder excitement at the sight of the canyon’s bottom.

The more I got out of my head, the more my fear dissipated.

After 5 hours, we made it to the bottom. My knees were shaking with fatigue, sweat had soaked my hat and shirt and then the sky opened up and rain started pouring down. It felt so refreshing on my tired and overheated body. I took off my pack and sat down on the shore of the Colorado River and waited for the rest of the group to arrive.

Nights at the bottom of the Canyon are peaceful and enveloped by stars. The lack of technology provided a detachment from everyday life and I was able to sit and think without distraction. For the first time in a very long time, I was completely in the moment and quite enjoyed it.

I realized that my fear was also in anticipation for something great. Pushing myself to the limits was both frightening and exciting. This realization changed my outlook for the hike back up the canyon.

Early the next morning, we began our trek up the Bright Angel Trail which is just over 9 miles and very steep. Each of us climbed at our own pace and I stopped several times to catch my breath as elevation began to affect my breathing. This was by far the more difficult of the 2 hikes.

My pack felt much heavier than on the hike down and by the time I reached the top, I was exhausted. I looked down and could not believe how far I had come and the fear that I once felt was transformed into courage. Sometimes the scariest treks can reap the most rewarding gifts.

Through this journey I learned that to transform fear I needed to:

  • Stay present:  When I allowed myself to think about things that could happen or judged myself based on limiting beliefs, fear took over. Taking a moment to just be and notice where I was and what I was doing in that moment allowed the anxiety to dissipate.
  • Breathe: I noticed I was holding my breath in fear. When I took a breath and brought myself back to the moment I was in, all of those fears lost their power. Breathing brings us back to the moment and slows down panicky thoughts.
  • Reframe the narrative: Fear is a liar!! By turning a negative thought into an empowering thought, I was able to motivate myself even during the hottest part of the day and steepest part of the hike. There was a point where I chanted “I can make it, I are strong” to myself while climbing back up the canyon.
  • Take action: Taking each step one by one helped me move forward and leave fear behind.

Whatever fears are occurring, take the time to reevaluate and reframe. Push past the discomfort and find the new found strength that is waiting to be gained. Before reaction creates waves of fear, find stillness and your breath. It is possible to move forward from the paralysis of fear and come out with a more limber mind, body and soul.

Great adventures always begin with anticipatory excitement, don’t let fear lie to your soul.

The Catalyst

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the-catalyst

Domestic violence takes on many forms and endures for various lengths of time. It takes courage to release the heart’s tight grasp on an abuser. My hope and prayer for this post is that it will encourage men and women to be brave, take a stand against abuse and find the love that resides within.

Here is part of my story:

I was being held up by my throat staring into raging eyes. It was like he had left his body and pain took over which he was now transferring to me. I was begging to be let go of with my hands since I could barely breathe. I was scared and felt my head getting lighter and my body becoming limp.

When he let go, I gasped for air. I felt the warmth around my neck where his hands had been. He stood there staring off somewhere that wasn’t the present moment. I scurried away like a scared animal, retreating to another room to contact my sister.

She was the only person I could think of to reach out to. It was late, even later in her time zone, but she was awake and saved me that night. He had taken it too far this time. From far away, she called the cops.

Everything I had known as love was broken. I thought I was strong enough to deal with the emotional tearing down but this was scarier. I was alone, not by choice, but because something happened and he was taken away. The night that love turned into fear was a catalyst for me.

My first instinct was to pray. I had grown up religious but had put that part of me on a shelf for almost a decade at that point. I fumbled with my words trying to communicate with a God that I hoped was there. It felt awkward at first and I stopped several times to cry. But the prayer was lifted and I repeated “Help me” over and over.

He called me to ask for bail, I refused and hung up. I had the urge to find my Bible, another thing that had been put away for a decade. I searched my closet and found it at the bottom of a box. I opened it and the first thing I read was: “A man of great anger will suffer punishment for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” Proverbs 19:19

Chills ran up my spine. That passage jumped from a page in a forgotten book and was pertinent to what had just happened. I laid down on my bed and repeated “Please comfort me. I am so sad and lonely.” Almost immediately, I felt a force of comfort come over me. It was heavier than the air and my heart beat calmed down for the first time that night.

“Come back. Return. Love resides within”

I was being called to return to my soul. A place that I tried to mask for years. In order for me to know love, I had to begin with myself at the cellular level and begin to heal. I realized that I had to go within, be alone and find the courage to let go.

This event was a catalyst to my soul. I started a search where I wanted to find what was sparked inside of me that night. I knew it wasn’t the God full of judgement and fear I grew up believing but one that was loving, peaceful and full of grace.

In a moment of fear, I was comforted by something outside of myself. This began my journey to where I am today. It shook me to my core and demanded that I learn to love differently starting with myself.

*If you or someone you know  is a victim of domestic violence, here are some resources to get help:

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Finding Balance

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finding-balance

Saying “yes” has been an issue for me in the past. At times, in my attempt to help others, I have forgotten to be there for myself. Perhaps this is middle child syndrome–not wanting to disappoint and make sure every one is okay. Whatever the case, I have learned that “yes” sometimes leads to a lack of balance in my life.

For the past year, I have been working on balance. This has been an amazing year with the most wonderful things: a new relationship, writing a book, new business ventures and lots of friendship and family time. However, amidst all of this lovely, I have found myself in anxious and exhausted moments feeling off balance.

I allow my equilibrium to falter. The pendulum swings to and fro and I find myself feeling lost in the middle of everything. I learned to recognize the moments when I need to say “no” to allow for the right “yes” to occur. This was a difficult lesson for me, especially when building a business. My desire to be there in my best possible mindset requires that I heed to this lesson in order to show up correctly in business and in life.

I wanted to be able to accommodate each request, but had to continuously return to my values and mission statements to remind myself what I truly wanted to create. If it doesn’t serve the purpose or goal, I had to decide whether or not to say “no.”

Finding space to answer this question was difficult at first. But, there is always a place that brings me the peace to regain my balance–I had to be still and go within.

When I take the time to quiet my mind and surroundings, I can enter a place of peace where I reconnect with my purpose and intentions. This is a sweet spot for my soul. Once I settle into the stillness, answers appear and calm takes over.

To begin moments of stillness, I practice this simple, mindful practice:

  1. Sit down and close my eyes
  2. Begin taking slow, deep breaths
  3. Count each inhale and exhale up to 10 (inhale: 1, exhale, 2…)
  4. Repeat until calm (usually 3-4 times)

This momentary pause to become present with my breath can calm the nerves of anxiety as well as create balance within.

After I find the stillness, I write down what is actually occurring. In this place, I usually find the “no” that needs to be said or the task that isn’t an actual priority. Once I am able to release the unnecessary “yes” or task, I feel free. Although saying “no” the first few times can be uncomfortable, each one brings me closer to purpose, intention and balance.

In a world where busy is easy, stillness and intention must be practiced. Balance thrives when the calendar allows for mindful reflection. When overwhelm takes over, stop, reset, rebalance and sometimes say no.

Harvest Moon: Return to Your True Self

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harvest-moon

As we harvest the seeds that were planted in the spring, we can identify the intentions that thrived and the ones that needed to be let go of. Harvest is a time of hard work as well as reflection. Before the cold of winter sets in, we must complete processes and plans. There is also an element of rest and reflection to assess what is truly important.

Since the past two seasons focused on cultivation and growth, we are now drawn to focus on maturity and reward. What has grown and matured during the Spring and Summer? Revel in the fruits of your hard work and persistence. Harvest is a time of celebration. You created results and can now take in the bounty.

After we tend to what has matured, we can also notice what has remained. In essence, our true self. The parts of us that stay the same no matter what season is taking place. In the fall, trees reveal their true colors providing color and warmth to a cooler landscape. Spring and summer invited hope for new things which arrived and transpired, but there is an unwavering part of our soul that must also be celebrated. It is the place where authenticity and inner truth reside.

As the harvest moon lights up the sky, allow for illumination in your soul. Notice if there is anything that is keeping you from expressing your true nature. Release anything that is holding you back or keeping you stagnant. Embrace your true self and the road ahead with bravery.

With each full moon, there is an opportunity to set intentions for the month to come as well as release anything that no longer serves us. Here is a 5 step process that I cultivated a few years ago for setting full moon intentions…

How to Set Full Moon Intentions

  1. Meditate: sit quietly and meditate on what you want to achieve
  2. Write it Down: write down what you want to achieve, create, change or focus on
  3. Visualize: create a picture of what this looks like
  4. Let Go: release what no longer serves you and let go of anything that may be holding you back (physical, mental and spiritual)
  5. Offer Gratitude: the universe is constantly listening to our deepest desires. Offer gratitude for each gift and blessing and for the outcome of your new intentions as if they have already happened

Everything that happens in the universe starts with intention.

– Deepak Chopra

For a free intention setting worksheet  or more information on intentional living or spiritual life coaching, please email me at emily@soulsadventures.com

Quitting Time

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quitting time

You know it in your gut. Sometimes the head follows and then your entire body follows. It is tiring and feels like the energy is being sucked right out of you. You toy with the idea only to find yourself back in your comfort zone, once again complacent and dreading the day to day.

The decision to quit a job usually comes after several moments and thoughts of “There has got to be something else.” and “I can’t do this anymore!” It is scary to leave a comfort zone, but the brave know that it is also very rewarding.

Our gut will continue to plead with us to make decisions that seem uncomfortable. In the relentless pursuit for attention, the gut may become ill to the point where our only choice is to give in. There is relief and knowing when to trust your gut; your truth center.

Although quitting may seem like the answer, there are some questions you need to consider first…

  1. Is there a different approach to the way you are dealing with a certain situation or is it time to move on? Answering this question honestly can help you discover whether it is time to quit or learn new ways to deal or communicate in a certain situation.
  2. What are you willing to compromise in order to go after what you really want? Perhaps it is a few dinners out or maybe living a simpler lifestyle. If a sabbatical is on your horizon, it is important to think about budget and what you will be spending once income ceases.
  3. What is your time frame? Be honest. Decide how much more time you want to stay in your current position and when you would like to be in a new position
  4. Is it time to take a sabbatical or start applying for different positions? This is crucial when it comes to quitting your job. Determine whether this is a conscious break from working or a career pivot and where you begin looking for your next position.

Each of these scenarios will take a different type of focus and resources. Allowing yourself the space to process this transition will help zero in on the goal and purpose of the change. Talking it through with a non-biased party will help detach from and sort through feelings and emotions. This is where a coach or mentor can help. Friends and family are wonderful for advice, but at times, their advice can be biased based on their relationship with you.

Quitting is a bold move that can be quite rewarding. Taking the time to ask a few important questions can bring clarity and peace. Sometimes we must close the door to something that isn’t working in order to focus on which door to open next.

For more information on navigating a career change or sabbatical with clarity and focus, email me at emily@soulsadventures.com.

Surrender

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surrender

Imagine a fist held tightly. All it holds is the air and creates tension within the body. Then imagine the fist letting go. Notice the release of tension and free flowing air around each finger. Nothing fell out of the palm, because there was nothing to grasp.

Holding tightly onto something that isn’t there is useless and controlling. I have learned this lesson time and again. Perhaps it’s because I am Virgo or someone who does not like to feel out of control. But the minute I try to generate an outcome that seems forced, I create an unrealistic expectation, stress and anxiety.

Several years ago, I was going through a career transition and I remember thinking “I better get a job soon, I have bills to pay” as I wrote my check for my car payment leaving $23 to my name. It wasn’t for lack of trying to find a job, there just weren’t jobs available. So, I had to surrender and take a job as a courier.

I thought that I deserved a better position because of my background and transferrable skillset. My need for control was keeping me from moving forward. However, if I would not have accepted the position, I would have missed out on the opportunity that later resulted in abundant travel.

I was terrified when I let go. I thought that if I held on for just a bit longer, things would fall into place. They never did until I surrendered to the experience and the lessons that were begging to be learned.

When it feels like you are being blindly led, allow trust to take place.

The act of surrender is not giving up; It is an act of trust. This is a sacred place within the soul. A deep, vulnerable place to enter. To let the walls down around the heart and to open the soul to a possibility that can’t be seen is raw, yet absolutely exciting and brave.

There are several things I still need to surrender but each time I do and trust that everything will be alright; I am surprised by the grace of the universe. Situations that seem hopeless when in my control are completely turned around when I let go of the reigns. The universe lovingly allows me the time to realize I need to let go, and when I do, that’s where the miracles happen.

What we can’t see holds a gift if we allow it to happen. It is amazing when things are revealed after the act of trust. What I thought I needed or wanted is always replaced by something greater. With each act of surrender, I am learning that the universe really does have my back and listens to all the desires of my heart.

When a Friendship Ends

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Friendship

Our energies did not match any more. We were growing apart. After almost a decade of inseparable friendship, we no longer had the common ground that kept us on the same path. I had traveled continents with her, shared thousands of tears and laughs, we knew each other’s deepest darkest secrets. But that was not strong enough glue to keep the friendship together.

It had been clear for some time that we were growing apart. Our time together seemed almost forced. I had grown to love my friend dearly, but noticed a strange pattern of need growing between us. I felt the friendship had become one-sided and it started to hurt more than uplift.

At first I was devastated. I didn’t think another friendship could compare to our sister-like bond. Then, I became very upset “How could she treat me with such disregard?” I would repeat over in my head. It was painful to know that she was still hanging out with mutual friends. I just wanted everyone to be on my side; but it wasn’t their fight.

Confusion traded places with anger and I went back and forth between the two for a while. I wanted to let go and be okay. In the age of social media, clear boundaries have to be made when a relationship ends. It is easy to assume the other person does not hold any regard or brags in hopes to appear like moving on was easy and seamless. I had to let go of all assumptions in order to heal.

I came to a place of forgiveness after a year had passed. The wound was no longer fresh and I was able to unpack the pain and blame, allowing the openness to feel comfortable. I wanted the new space to be filled with friendship that was autonomous, loving and nurturing.

I got specific on how I wanted to feel inside a friendship and recognized what I needed to work on in order to propagate that.

The lessons that took place during the process of healing were hard. There were patterns that I had created in relationships that I had to recognize and amend. The pain created an awareness that was filled with a softening and grace. I went from “How dare you!” to gratitude.

When a friendship ends, it isn’t easy to forgive and forget. Allow yourself to feel the pain and process the lessons as they come. Healing and forgiveness are on their way. Grace makes sure of that–where that big gaping hole was created, friendship appears. Sometimes not in the same form or what we expect, but the universe loves space. When we give up what we think should fill the gaps, we can be surprised by what is intended for our hearts.

When a friendship ends, it hurts. Confusion, anger, sadness and frustration take the place where laughter, understanding and connection once thrived. In order to move forward, there are some things one can do to create a healthy environment in the heart and soul…

  1. Set boundaries
  2. Create an intention for how you want to feel in a friendship
  3. Release judgment and blame to create room for growth and healing
  4. Forgive yourself and the other for whatever happened
  5. Allow the space to be created for the universe to deliver likeminded friendships
  6. Offer gratitude for the friendship
  7. Send the other person love and LET GO

Whether there is a specific reason or several misunderstandings that lead to the end of a friendship, compassion, forgiveness and grace can heal a wound that runs deep. We may never know why the other person moved on, but we can take responsibility for our hearts and souls and fill the space with love. When we let go in love, more love can enter.

Forgive. Let go. Be Open.

Summer Reading Recommendations

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reading

The Light Between Oceans by M.J. Stedman: It is rare that fiction captures my attention but this was one that I could not put down. This is a riveting story of love, loss, adventure and the stories we tell to protect our hearts. There is a movie coming out soon, but I would definitely read the book first. The writer does a wonderful job of storytelling and painting the picture for the reader.

You are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh: Mindfulness is an important practice in order to be present and aware. It is a beautiful, short read that encourages being present, right here, right now. This is a powerful book to remind us that the present moment, the person you are sitting across from, the space you create for yourself is important to pay attention to, especially in a world full of distractions.

The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud: I strongly believe that we are the sum of the people we surround ourselves with. This book outlines how others affect our performance in all areas of life. Although we can try to not let others hold power over us, their influence can be quite strong. With interviews and research, Dr. Cloud demonstrates how our relationships and communication shape our performance, well-being and growth both personally and professionally.

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Ella Luna: This book was given to me by a friend and she proclaimed “You have to read this, it’s amazing!” I agree. It is artistic, inspirational and beautiful. The main theme of following your passion resonates deeply and is the perfect read for anyone who has ever gone through/going through a transition, created something or has struggled with taking a leap. If you want to harness your bravery, this will help and inspire.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: A beautiful manifesto for the creative soul, with the premise that each of us contain an inner creative spark that should be expressed. It encourages creativity in a ethereal yet practical manner. I gained so much inspiration from this book and reference it often when feeling stuck in my creative pursuits. It is like having your own creativity coach wrapped in a beautiful package.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown: Brave souls unite! If you have ever experienced failure this book shows how getting back up again and again. Rising strong is a sign of inner strength. Failures are inevitable, but the way we choose to deal with them sets us apart. As always, Brene Brown backs her beautiful words up with great research and by the end of the book, you will feel empowered to try regardless of possible failure.

What are you reading this summer?

Finding a Coach

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coaching

The growth of the coaching industry has raised the important question of “How do I find the right coach?” When choosing a coach, it is important to find someone who you jive with, is willing to hold you accountable and will help you achieve desired results.

There are several reasons to hire a coach….

  • Set goals and get results
  • Motivation to start, continue and finish
  • Accountability partner to drive results and keep you encouraged and inspired
  • Gain clarity on your life’s purpose, career path, relationship and specific goals
  • Grow spiritually, mentally and physically: There are coaches that specialize in spiritual growth, business/career, fitness and personal growth
  • Provide support and encouragement

When hiring a coach, it is important to know that results are obtained in time with dedication to the coaching plan. Although one session can be helpful, is just a launching pad to working towards desired outcomes. In order for coaching to be successful, scheduled meetings should be made and kept, this is where accountability can work its magic. Depending on your goals, packages can be purchased for 1-12 months with savings per session being greater the longer the time commitment.

A good coaching relationship will empower you, inspire you to go above and beyond what you thought possible, tell you the truth and ask questions to stretch you.

Here are 5 things to consider when choosing a coach:

  1. Offerings and Packages: What type of coaching do they specialize in? Do they offer packages that fit within your time frame and needs? Can you customize or upgrade? These are things to consider and good questions to ask a potential coach.
  2. References: Do you know anyone that has utilized a coach and achieved results? Does the coach have customer feedback on their website? Read the reviews and see if any of them resonate with you.
  3. Personality: Many coaches offer an introductory call or email where you can see if the energy is a good fit as well as map out a plan of action for the coaching relationship.
  4. Certification and Training: What type of certification does the coach have and what training was involved? Certification is important but so is ongoing training. Does the coach continue to develop their practice and stay on top of their own development?
  5. Pricing: Does it fit within your budget? Part of creating a successful life is staying within your means. Coaching is worth the investment and financial growth can be a goal, but make sure the services meet you where you currently are to propel you in the direction you envision.

A coach can be seen as part of your team of experts. In the effort to live at your highest potential it is important to have a team behind you, keeping you healthy, in tune, motivated and accountable. Doctors, therapists, personal trainers, spiritual leaders, chefs, nannies, teachers, mentors, CPAs, financial advisors, trusted friends and coaches are just a few of the possible people who can help you enhance your life.

If you have been considering coaching to help you move towards a goal, gain clarity or take your life or career to the next level, please contact me at emily@soulsadventures.com to schedule a complimentary 15 minute call. We can talk about how coaching can enhance your life and create a plan of action.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”

– Timothy Gallwey