Embracing Ambiguity: The Beauty of the Unknown

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Ambiguity is like a fog where you can see the outlines of things, but nothing is really clear. When life is vague and answers are desired more than anything, it can lead to anxiety, restlessness and at times depression. Not knowing the outcome or direction is such a common theme; everyone has felt the anxious grip of ambiguity at least once.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to write a book. Writing has been in my life since I was a child. I would write stories, journal and read as many books as I could get my hands on, hoping one day to have one of my own.

When I quit my job in 2014, my goal was to travel the world and write. I wanted to write a book and try to figure out how to get it published in my free time. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I even had a coach put me on a writing schedule. When I felt like the book was complete, I started the process of finding a literary agent.

I created a book proposal with my writing ready to be submitted. I sent letters out to several prospective agents and waited and waited. It was painful to be so vulnerable with something that I had been dreaming about for 25 years. I knew that in order to make it happen, I had to put myself out there.

Then, the rejections started pouring in. The first one made me cry and I was used to them once the fourth one came in. One agent asked for my first 50 pages. “YES! That’s hopeful!” I thought and called my close friends to share and calm my nerves. I sent out the work and waited some more.

Eight weeks later, I received my final rejection. It hurt. I needed to take a break and revisit the book in a few months. I decided to solely focus on my business and let the book wait for its birthday.

In January, I set an intention to let go of my expectation of getting published. I was tired of receiving rejections and noticed that it started affecting my passion for writing. I thought that taking time off would bring clarity. Three weeks later, I received an email that rocked my world — an offer to write a book.

I let go and the universe delivered my dream in a way I would have never expected.

The email was from a publisher who had stumbled upon my website. It was unbelievable the way it all happened but the universe is mysterious, magical and amazing. It all made sense and the day I accepted the offer, I sobbed giant tears with gulps for breath. It was emotional, messy and very joyful.

There was a release that set in when everything came together. Grace kicked in and offered relief to the waiting and wondering. In that moment, gratitude overflowed and a feeling of astonishment enveloped me.

If I would have known this back when I started this process, the gratitude would not have been as great and the relief would not have felt as powerful. The anticipation was part of the joy. The ambiguity set the stage for amazement and wonder. In that moment, I realized the beauty of the unknown.

*stay tuned for more information on this book project later this year

On Becoming

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“You are becoming” was the final line of a poem a friend wrote for me during a particularly rough time. I had been striving for something, not sure what, but I wasn’t getting where I wanted to be. I felt lost and aimless.

I tried very hard to be successful in the traditional sense. I was managing large volume accounts for my company and customers were happy. I presented budgets and projections with ease. I was good at driving results and creating plans for my market. However, there was a sense of emptiness and I wanted to figure out how to change that.

When asked what I wanted to do, I replied “help people, travel the world and write.” But, I didn’t know what that really meant or how to make that happen.

The struggle to pursue traditional success alongside soulful contentment was becoming stronger the more I resisted it.

What you resist persists

– Carl Jung

When I decided to ease into the process of letting go, the tension that I created for myself began to dissipate. Soon, my goals started to match my soul’s desires. The feeling of ease and contentment surpassed the need to be traditional and understood.

I wasn’t sure how everything was going to pan out, but whatever was happening felt right. This is what becoming must feel like. How can one know what the metamorphosis will deliver? All I knew was that resistance felt more excruciating than surrender.

And then, one day, a man walked into a coffee shop where I was writing. I was feeling upset that my trip around the world was cut short. He sat down next to me and just unloaded a very heavy story. I listened for what seemed like forever, asked a few questions and gave him some insight. He then replied “You should become a life coach.” Words that changed my life.

He got up and left. I sat there perplexed. Was that even a thing? Can one become a life coach? That was the day I started my journey to where I am now. I don’t think I will ever stop becoming something. However, this showed me that sometimes, in the most unexpected ways, messages are delivered.

“Help people, travel the world and write”. I am doing that in my own way. What’s next is unknown, but staying open is key.

What are you resisting that persists? Are you facing blocks or fears that are keeping you from taking the next steps? Let me help you tackle these objections and fears. What are you striving to become?

* email me emily@soulsadventures.com to begin your journey of becoming

Practicing Gratitude: Calibrating for Thanksgiving

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I enjoy the month of November because of Thanksgiving; my favorite holiday. I love the act of getting together with loved ones to share delicious food and offer gratitude. The act of practicing gratitude creates room for more gratitude to occur.

I began an active practice a few years ago where I wrote down 3 things that I was grateful for at the end of each day. Even on the worst days, I made it a practice to find things to be grateful for; the most important time for the practice. Whether you begin or end your day with gratitude, you will notice a change in perception over time.

The practice of gratitude creates awareness in everyday occurrences. Things that usually go unnoticed suddenly become highlighted with intentional thanksgiving. All of a sudden, I started recognizing even greater things happening and becoming overwhelmed with gratitude.

One of the first things I noticed was how bright orange California poppies are. I have lived in California my entire life and never stopped to appreciate the vibrancy the flowers provided. This memory is very distinct for me. I was waiting to get onto a highway and looked over and was amazed by the shock of orange bursting from the ground surrounding the sign post. I did a double take and realized that something so ordinary had become extraordinary for me. l felt grateful for the observation and my new found attention to every day things.

As my outlook changed, I realized that I had calibrated my mind for gratitude.

Practicing gratitude creates more gratitude. Neuroplasticity allows for changes within the brain. We can intentionally create a change by consistent practice. Our brains can create new pathways with the practice of a new skill such as exercise, meditation and diet. Over time, practicing gratitude created more thoughts and occurrences for gratefulness. Like with any change, this takes time.

Most change starts with the simple process of something outside of us altering something inside of us. If you begin the inward journey and start to change your inner world of thoughts and feelings, it should create an improved state of well-being. If you keep repeating the process in meditation, then in time, epigenetic changes should begin to alter your outer presentation.

– Dr. Joe Dispenza

I encourage you to begin practicing gratitude. Try it for 4 weeks and see what transpires. Here is a downloadable sheet: Gratitude Sheet to begin your practice. Just write down 3 things you are grateful for each day and notice the gradual change in your perception. I would love to hear about your grateful journey. Send me an email at emily@soulsadventures.com to share your experience.

Dancing Alone: Healing After a Breakup

FullSizeRender (4)I waited for him to leave. He slammed the door, I stared at it making sure it really happened. Then without notice, my tears started to fall. Something inside of me told me this was the final time. We would never get back together. There would not be a reconciliation after a few weeks apart. Our time together had expired and my heart sank, even though everything inside of me knew it was time to part.

It took me some time to not cry about it. There were several people letting me know it was for the best, but my heart still felt broken and raw. I loved this person and now I would never have that extension of my heart back. I was tempted to contact him; an all too familiar pattern. I stopped myself. I distracted myself by taking a walk. I would walk until my sadness dissipated. One day, I walked seven miles.

A few months passed and I started to feel better. I was healing and working on letting go. I was determined to learn how to let him go once and for all. The back and forth proved to me that it wasn’t right, but my heart didn’t want to listen.

Finally, my heart and mind started to sync up and I started putting myself out there to meet new people and date; something I hadn’t really done since I had met him. Dating was awkward and brought up even more things that I needed to resolve. I had no idea how much work it took to heal, really heal, after a breakup.

These were a few things that really helped me heal and grow through the process…

  1. Forgive. I needed to forgive him and myself. There were things we had both said and done that were not versions of our best selves. That happens in a relationship and I wanted to grow from it instead of wallow in what went wrong. I wrote out everything that hurt and upset me. Then, I went down the list and consciously forgave him and myself for each offense. I had to do this a few times, but it helped.
  2. Let go of the expectation of “getting back together”: false hope kills healing. I had to remind myself that “it ended for a reason”.
  3. I looked for any co-dependant residue: after being in a relationship for a while, sometimes our identities can get wrapped up in the other person. I noticed where I may have “lost” myself in the other person and resolved to regain my sense of self back. This could not be done alone. I sought out help through a spiritual coach and that was when the healing really started.
  4.  Let go: Recognize the loss and release. I created a ritual to let him go. I needed a physical release along with the emotional one. Letting go happens over time and after I healed, I was able to finally release ceremoniously.
  5. Start dating. I very carefully dipped my toe back into dating at first. It was awkward and I felt like I was out of practice. But after time, it became fun again and I met some very lovely and some interesting people.

Time is important, but so is the mindset of healing. Only after I resolved to heal was I able to do the work. Each step was difficult in their own way, but I am grateful for the journey. I learned about myself, created healthier boundaries and opened my heart again.

The most important lesson was learning to love being alone. Embracing my true self and the love that comes through the process was the greatest lesson the breakup could offer. I learned to listen to my intuition and that dancing alone is liberating and creates the space needed for the right things to come.

*for more information on letting go or healing after a breakup, email me at emily@soulsadventures.com

4 Steps to Help Transform Anxiety

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As a child, I was called a “worry wort.” I would cling to my bunk bed riddled with angst, refusing to go to school. I was always worried about something: going to hell, death, earthquakes because I grew up in the Bay Area and one year a fire in the Oakland hills.

As an adult, money worried me until I started working at a bank and learned how it worked. However, working at the bank added even more worry and anxiety to my life…

It was 2008, the market was experiencing a drastic down-turn and clients called daily with panic. I watched people lose their homes to foreclosure and come into the bank to yell and vent their frustrations. As I drove down the street towards work, I could feel my blood pressure rise and tears well up in my eyes. I would hyperventilate as I parked my car and wait for the wave to pass so I could go to work. The waves took longer and longer to pass as time went on which led me to seek help and try to get a grip on my escalating anxiety.

I had to join a support group as a requirement from my insurance which added even more anxiety for me. Listening to other people talk about their worries did not help me find relief. I eventually left my job because I could not function. I began looking for other alternatives for coping and this is when I found the practice of meditation.

At first, meditation was difficult. I had a hard time sitting still and quieting my mind. I would make lists, start thinking or get distracted by noises outside. Although, the more I practiced, I was able to find my inner silence and soon my intuition. In the silence, I have found peace, balance and answers.

My anxiety levels have dropped dramatically since I began meditating. I took the practice further and started writing down my fears. I found that transferring all the restless thoughts out of my head and onto paper helped alleviate the mental chatter.

Later on I learned about transforming my fears into strengths and finding ways to redirect the thoughts into something that served a purpose. Fear is a gift and arises as an alert. I began acknowledging my anxieties and looking for ways to transform the negative into a positive feeling or thought. I also realized that I was taking on people’s anxieties and reacting negatively. I implemented one of the Four Agreements as a daily practice. “Don’t take anything personally” and started to react less and less.

Learning to listen to my intuition and take a break to breath during stressful moments has changed my reactions. I have been told that I hold my breath when I am stressed or extremely focused. Mindfulness has help me become more aware of my breathing. I can use my breath to slow down my heart rate, focus and send much needed oxygen to the places where I hold my stress. The power of breath is transformative.

The daily practice of meditation has curbed my anxiety for the most part. However, there are situations where it still rears its chaotic head. When this happens, I go back to the tools that have helped me.

I have been practicing these 4 steps for a few years each time anxiety arises and they have helped me reduce worry and stress. When I feel the familiar inner flutter of anxiety, I start with these steps and repeat them daily until I find my balance again.

  1. Breathe: Sit with your breath for 5-10 minutes. Close your eyes in a comfortable seated position and breath in and out through your nose. Listen to your breath. Focus on taking even breaths. Count the inhale and exhale to even out the breath. Allow silence and peace to take over. If needed, time yourself to make sure you are getting a full 5-10 minutes of breathing.
  2. Reflect and Write: What is the root of the anxiety? What triggered the reaction? Write down every thought that comes to mind. There doesn’t need to be a structure, just get it out of your head and onto paper.
  3. Transform the thought: How can you restructure the negative thought into a positive one? Remember that fear is a gift and it serves a purpose. How is this serving you? Write down your observations.
  4. Movement: Taking a walk, running or even stretching can transform the energy. Redirect the nervous energy with movement. Get your blood flowing and capitalize on the oxygen that was just sent through your body through deep breathing.

With practice, these steps have helped transform my anxiety into something manageable. If you would like more information on meditation, writing exercises or transforming thoughts, please email me at emily@soulsadventures.com

 

Rising Above Fear

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I had a recurring nightmare as a child involving rats. In my dream, I would wake up to rats and mice eating my feet. I had been terrified of rodents since before I can remember and flinched at the thought of them. Even squirrels would send shivers up my spine. I babysat a kid once who had 2 pet rats. I felt the surge of anxiety every time I walked by their cage.

Last year, I rose above my fear in Bali. I was in a spa getting a pedicure when all of a sudden a huge rat leaped from the clean towel pile. It scurried across the room and up the wall into a hole in the ceiling; long skinny tail last to get through the hole. I felt myself want to pee, flee, scream or cry. Instead, I took a deep breath and then just sat there staring at the hole in the ceiling, calming myself down.

As I sat there staring, I realized the rat fled in fear. This creature was terrified of me, the woman working and the man who had walked in. I felt the anxious adrenaline dissipate and could not wait to leave and process what I had just realized. After that day, I saw several more rats on the roads, alive and dead. My reaction was numbed.

I don’t particularly enjoy seeing them now, I just feel a difference in my reaction. The anxious fear is gone. My nightmare has been replaced with logic of the rat’s fear of me. I was literally bigger than my fear. The universe directly provided the physical lesson and I consciously agreed to face the fear and learn to overcome.

Recognizing that I am bigger than the thing I feared helped me overcome the anxiety. This can be applied in most cases where fear and anxiety are involved. I let the thing I feared become greater than it actually was and gave it the power. When fear rears its head, it signals me to acknowledge it and try to move forward. This is where bravery steps in and power can be regained. When I harness my bravery, great things happen.

Some questions to ask when fear presents itself are: What fears are you currently dealing with? What can you do to harness your bravery? What is on the other side of your fear (accomplishment, freedom, love, security, knowing the unknown)? How is this fear serving you?

Answer the questions honestly and don’t forget to breath. Fear is a gift and is natural. It is a messenger and when paid attention to, it can reveal valuable lessons.

“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.” -Paulo Coelho

For more information on overcoming fear or coaching past a fear block, please email emily@soulsadventures.com.