Full Flower Moon

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I was 33 years old and terrified that I was leaving a career that was my dream 5 years previous. I wanted to work in the wine industry and learn everything I could about it. This job took me all over the world where I met amazing people and experienced culture and cuisine. For a wanderluster with a palate for pinot, this was a dream come true.

I was so grateful and in awe of all the opportunities BUT something just wasn’t right.

Deep down, I was miserable. I wanted to travel on my own terms and write. I knew that writing wasn’t going to pay the bills, but I knew I had to try it. This concept was terrifying. I had created such security and my soul was begging me to leap. I edged up to the cliff, looked down and went right back to work several times.

I decided to take 2 years off and calculated my freedom number; the amount needed to sustain my simplified lifestyle for my temporary hiatus from work. I saved until I had what I thought was enough to support myself. Then, I stepped back to the edge of that cliff and I still felt my knees tremble, unable to leap.

My soul was relentless and the misery transcended anything amazing that was happening. There were promotions, trips and raises but my resistance caused more pain and left me feeling helpless and depressed.

Then, I realized no matter how many times I crunched numbers or made excuses, this calling was going to pursue me until I let go of the security and resistance and opened to the unknown.

The day I quit my job, I was nervous and excited. I had prepared a letter and walked into the office of the company president. This man was responsible for all the great things that I experienced with the company as well as mentoring me along the way. I was sad to deliver this message to him. As we spoke, he was gracious and understanding. I was so grateful. That moment solidified that I was making the right decision.

Immediately following that conversation, I felt the resistance fade and relief took over. I felt light and happy and excited to embark into the unknown.

Suddenly, I had the freedom I had so badly craved but felt fear creeping back in.

I knew that if I didn’t squash the thoughts of scarcity and insecurity, I would not be able to enjoy what had happened. I combated the fear with gratitude. I sat in the feeling of relief and thanked God for helping me — prodding me — pushing me to harness my bravery.

This was a lesson in becoming. When resistance, fear and pride took over, I was not allowing myself the chance to blossom. I remained tightly closed for almost 2 years because I feared the loss of security. I needed to let go of certainty in order to fully open up to the beauty that wanted to unfold.

It wasn’t until I full released my grasp on the need to control and my craving for certainty that I was able to truly appreciate what was transpiring. When I let go, I felt my creative passion explode and writing became something I must do. I celebrated my bravery and embraced uncertainty like an adventure to a new land. My heart and soul opened and blossomed.

Tonight’s Full Flower Moon is the perfect opportunity to notice where abundance and gratitude are taking place in your life and confront and fear that may be holding you back. Address limiting beliefs and affirm your greatness. This is a time to showcase the beauty that has been carefully worked on and celebrate the growth that has occurred.

Open the floodgates of passion and infuse the areas of your life that have grown stale from neglect. Go after what you really want. Open up and bloom right where you are. Remember a time when you felt alive and excited and then ask yourself: “How can I bring that energy back into my life?”

Now is not the time to play small. Let go of anything holding you back. Celebrate all the goodness that is flowing into your life. Offer gratitude for the fruits of your hard work. This is the time to show off your big beautiful blooms and appreciate their glory.

It has been 3 years since I delivered that letter and I appreciate what took root that day and celebrate all that has blossomed since then.

“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  -Anais Nin

An Exercise in Acceptance

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Last year I had several lessons on acceptance. There were times where expectations weren’t met and I had the choice to struggle, fight and live with anxiety OR just accept the circumstances and move on. I’d like to say that I practiced the latter with ease, but no, I allowed the struggle to stay real in many cases. It was in these moments that I truly had to open my arms to the universe and cry:

 “I’m letting go now! Please help me move forward.”

I seemed to repeat this prayer often. And you know what?! It was answered each and every time. But the thing is, the way it was answered was not always how I envisioned and this is where I learned the beautiful lesson of acceptance.

The beautiful thing was at the other side of my resistance, was a new plan that I would not have envisioned. When I surrendered to the new reality, I felt everything inside of me relax. I could breath again and my thoughts were no longer hijacked by the anxious grip of control.

The less I resisted, the easier things became.

When you cry out to the universe, it hears you. In fact, it knows exactly what you need. Which is probably why such prayers are uttered from our core, in moments of desperation and anxiety. It is like we try to hold on with every last bit of control until we are left hanging, desperate to find stability once more.

And then, the answers come in; sometimes in a trickle and sometimes in a flood.

When the answers arrive, acceptance begins. In order to fully accept, there has to be an element of remembering where you were before the prayer was lifted. The ego tends to love this tender spot. It can take the temporary relief and decide to take over once again. This is not full acceptance.

One of the hardest lessons to learn is to accept things the way they are and let go of expectations. This is a struggle. It is easy to place expectations on the outcome. When expectations are set, they leave room for disappointment.

To accept is to receive. To receive is to welcome. There is no control here, only openness.

Imagine letting go of a worry and watching it float away into the ether, like a balloon. As you watch it fly higher and higher, you feel lighter. The weight of control is lifted and hands that once held on so tightly are now free to receive whatever is next.

This weightlessness is available on the other side of control. When the answers arrive, squelch the desire to control with gratitude and acceptance. Practice openness and when anxiety wells up, it is a cue that something no longer serves your soul. Release it. Accept whatever needs to enter your life. All will be well.

Overcoming Fear

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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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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

Surrender

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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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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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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?

Saturn Return

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It has been known as a quarter life crisis. Around the ages of 27-31 it hits and all of a sudden something must or just changes. For some it is a subtle nudge that doesn’t go away until addressed. For others it seems devastating, like everything that had been worked towards was a sham and the feeling of starting over is too much to bear.

This time is known as Saturn Return; a milestone of reaching adulthood. Saturn takes approximately 28 years to make a full orbit around the sun from the time of birth. With each occurrence, responsibilities change, thoughts mature and a shift in mindset takes place.

Each person experiences it differently. It is a time when life does a course correct. Some learn new skills that propel them in the direction that is now waiting to be explored. Others feel this time as a difficult transition, feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. For some, it can be a period of hard work either physically, mentally or emotionally.

My Saturn Return hit me a month before my 28th birthday. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. Anxiety flooded my days and I doubted my decisions as everything I had worked for seemed to just not fit any more. I knew I needed a change, but I didn’t know what I needed to do. I wanted answers immediately, but they took their time to arrive.

While I was in what felt like an endless loop of waiting, I learned some hard and valuable lessons. I started recognizing my core values and desired to live a life that aligned with who I wanted to be. This is where the pain set in: I had to give up ideas of what I thought I wanted and where I needed to be to align with what I really wanted. It was scary to think about starting over.

The more I resisted this new path, the harder things seemed to be. But, when I embraced the changes that were occurring, regardless of my attempts to control, a peace set in. I noticed that the amount of anxiety I experienced was in direct proportion to the amount of control I tried to exert. I released my grasp and a new career, friendships, cities and outlook appeared.

I had to make room for what needed to take place.

I noticed 4 phases of a Saturn Return:

  1. Humility: I felt embarrassed thinking that what I swore was my life path was actually wrong. Having to admit to myself and others that I was starting over was recognition that I did not know it all and that I still had some learning to do. OUCH!
  2. Growth: I had to learn new skills to move forward in a new career. I had to learn a lot about myself and grow from mistakes. Embracing my authenticity and bravery catapulted growth and helped me to move on and forgive myself and others.
  3. Emergence: After the inner struggle of control, I was able to emerge onto the new path. There was a new found confidence after I embraced the growth. I felt renewed and excited.
  4. Freedom: Finally accepting the end of where I thought I was heading and embracing the next phase brought a sense of freedom. There is a renewed sense of trust that occurs which feels free and lighthearted.

I have coached many people going through their Saturn Return. There are spiritual shifts, career changes, relationship and life transitions that occur. It can be scary and exciting to navigate. There is something beautiful on the other side of the struggle. It is quite lovely to see the transformations from struggle to freedom. These steps differ in time for each person, but at the end, freedom appears.

Like a caterpillar creating a cocoon, this a time of transformation. Don’t let preconceived notions take over and stunt forward movement and growth. Be open and allow the changes to happen. Celebrate each lesson and be grateful for the path thus far. Soon, the butterfly emerges and spreads its new found wings and soars into freedom.

You have escaped the cage. Your wings are stretched out. Now fly.

-Rumi

For more on coaching, email emily@soulsadventures.com

On Resting

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It is difficult to rest when there are things that need to get done. You may have noticed my usual post was supposed to go up last Wednesday but I knew it was not going to be done. The perfectionist in me was suffering but I had to let go of the expectation I had on myself to rest.

This past month flew by, I had a deadline to meet, a cold to get over and work that had piled up because I was sick. I felt defeated, behind and frustrated. I chose to stop my upsetting thoughts and recognized that my body was begging me for rest.

There was a need to prioritize and reshuffle my timeline. I looked at what needed to get done and weighed whether or not the task could wait. My book draft deadline and some other work could not wait and other things, like a blog post got pushed further down the timeline.

Rest became one of the top priorities. I knew that if I kept pushing myself, I would not get better nor would I have the ability to write or coach. I started to allow naps and went to bed earlier.  Within days, I was much better, my mind was clear and ready to tackle the remainder of the list.

Rest is extremely important and in our hyper connected world, it almost seems like it is more difficult to get our minds to settle down. For super productive types, rest seems like a waste of time. The praise of busy and the criticism of rest can keep us overstimulated and our calendars full.

Being busy does not necessarily mean being productive. As I was making my prioritized list, I realized that there were things that I was doing just to fill time. I never stopped to even think about them since I was “so busy.” When I recognized this, I easily cut them out of my schedule and was able to rest with even more ease.

In rest, a stillness is created which can result in deeper peace. Releasing the need to get everything done will focus attention and create space for relaxation.

There are definitely things that need to be done, but my challenge to you would be to look at your schedule, prioritize tasks and see what you can cut away to make room for rest. Start small and let go of at least one thing. Slowly remove the excess from your life to create balance and peace.

Take a rest. A field that has rested yields a beautiful crop. -Ovid

Loneliness vs. Solitude: How to Embrace Being Alone

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There is a great difference between loneliness and solitude. Being alone takes on the meaning that you give to it. The difference is in yearning versus contentment. Lonely breeds longing and roots itself in loss. Solitude breeds stillness and is rooted in contentment.

I learned this lesson while living in a small coastal town when I had come home from work one day to find that my boyfriend had packed up all of his belongings. He was leaving in the morning. He was my only true connection in this location. Loneliness washed over me when he drove away the following morning.

I cried and mourned for weeks wondering how I could survive in that town alone. It was one of the loneliest times of my life. My family and friends lived far away and I was on the road a lot for work which left little time to nurture local friendships. No matter what I tried, all I felt was sad and lonely.

One day, I opened my eyes to the lesson that was being provided to me. In stillness, I began to hear my intuition and noticing what my soul had been trying to tell me. My intuitive sense was dulled and I was not practicing the gift that was inside me the entire time.

I started exercising this gift and appreciating the fabric of my soul. And what was once the loneliest times of my life soon became one of the richest times of my life.

Without this solitude, I would not have taken the time to search my soul to get back to myself. I realized my identity was tied to a person and a job and lost my authenticity. I had a choice to wallow or grow.

Embracing the growth was difficult but I learned so much about myself and the differences between loneliness and solitude. Some of the differences I was able to pinpoint were…

Loneliness: Depleted my energy and made me sad. Loneliness was able to permeate since I based my happiness on another. I was in a state of contraction and longing. Anxiety and depression visited more often. Discontentment fueled sorrow and perpetuated the feeling of isolation.

Solitude: Re-energized me. I found that happiness comes from within. Solitude created space for growth and the state of expansion and contentment. Meditation and prayer became daily routines. I began to find comfort in times of solitude because I started to enjoy my own company.

The more I fostered the beauty of solitude, I found peace where I once felt anxious. Learning to tap into my intuition and wait for answers and inspiration reconnected me to my soul and my spirituality had room to blossom.

Through this lesson, I learned to be compassionate towards my loneliness in order to foster the state of solitude. Without a compassionate approach, I may have become stuck and not have welcomed growth. All things deserve compassion and understanding, including mindsets.

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self. – Mary Sarton