When It’s Time to Move On

Read More

When things fall apart, it is hard to find the initiative to get back up and find the space to start or create something new. The important thing is to get back up, even if it takes a lot of time. Making daily efforts to try again seems difficult at first, but after a while the practice of doing creates the momentum needed to move forward. In order to allow growth to take place, movement is necessary.

A body in motion, stays in motion

-Sir Isaac Newton

Some important questions to  ask when there is something that may feel like it is falling apart are:

  1. What isn’t working?
  2. Is there something I can change to make it work?
  3. If I let go and move on from this, what are my next actions?

Be honest with yourself and take time to write out the answers. After you answer the questions, look to see if anything sticks out. Are there common themes, new revelations or is the answer clear and the writing exercise solidified your intuition? Sit with the answers, meditate on the next steps and recognize any closure that needs to take place.

Figuring out action steps can help bring your mind out of the fog but make sure to give yourself the time to process the disappointment. If it is time to move on, it’s okay to mourn the loss. Allow the healing to occur and take an active role by looking forward.

When life gives us a “no” it creates space for expansion. This is a place for possibility and dreaming. The opposite of expansion is contracting. Think about a fist releasing its grasp. This is the action most beneficial for moving on; release and expand. If contracting is happening, it holds on to pain and disappointment. Stagnation can occur and often times, resentment.

Let what needs to fall down, fall. Don’t act like Sisyphus, continually pushing a boulder up the mountain just to push against gravity once more; this was his curse. Whatever is falling apart, does not need to be a curse. Look to see the blessing in disguise. There is something waiting for this to end in order to have the space it needs to enter your life.

Let go and receive whatever may come with open arms, mind and heart. Replace resistance with cooperation. Let things come to you and keep moving forward, one step at a time.

Compassion and Empathy

Read More

I spent the last few days in a community that showed up and had the courage to make room for empathy and compassion. The Valley Fire, in Lake County, California started on Saturday afternoon and grew rapidly burning several homes and displacing thousands.

There was such an outpouring of generosity, support and love for victims of the fire. Some people just wanted to have someone listen to them and spoke about their loss, fear and even hope. As they spoke, I could feel the inner stirring of compassion. I wanted to say the right words, but realized that I needed to just listen.

Others needed basic items like a toothbrush and a pair of socks. “All I wanted was a pair of socks, the weather started getting cooler and I found myself fixating on socks” a women told me as we searched for clothing in her size. She was thrilled to find a pair of socks and smiled with tears in her eyes.

I thought about the socks I was wearing and wondered if I had ever felt that much gratitude towards them or any of my clothing. That moment, I offered gratitude for my socks and realized that every little thing is precious; even socks.

Every day, several people just wanted to help those in need. People from surrounding communities held fundraisers and clothing drives. Deliveries of donated goods showed up by the truckloads. Everyone seemed to want to help. People who had been evacuated and then returned home, turned around and volunteered. It was truly amazing to witness.

This experience left me in tears several times. I did not understand exactly what it felt like to lose things in a fire, but I understand loss at a visceral level and was able to extend empathy. I noticed the same from other volunteers who extended themselves vulnerably to meet people in the midst of their pain.

Through compassion and empathy, we are able to connect with people on a deeper level. The ability to be there and stand in the discomfort with another person while they hurt is powerful. I recalled the people who have extended compassion and empathy towards me in the past and was able to overcome my initial discomfort because of those examples.

Loss isn’t easy. This fire left many people without homes and communities need to rebuild from the loss. However, seeing the humanity, compassion and empathy displayed so greatly reminded me that overall, people are good. Sometimes, in the face of suffering we shine our brightest for its in the darkness that our lights are needed the most.

 

Note: The efforts to help restore the community as well as continued firefighting efforts are ongoing. If you would like to help from afar, here is a great website with a list of needs and locations for donation drop-offs: www.lovelakecounty.org

Finding Peace through Forgiveness

Read More

Forgiveness begged to be learned the year I quit my job. I had been struggling with my boss, my mother entered rehab and my best friend and I grew apart. I didn’t want to hold on to resentment but I was drowning in my anger and I didn’t know how to forgive. I felt hurt, disregarded and realized that despite my pain, I had to forgive them. I knew the lesson was coming, I just wasn’t ready for it in triplicate.

The lessons began in January when I was called into a meeting with my boss. The goal was to find a middle ground so working together could be amicable and productive. The meeting didn’t seem to resolve anything and I left in tears and frustrated. I realized that my time there was coming to an end.

After the meeting, things continued to get more difficult and strained and then the day came when I was no longer his employee. I felt free. All of a sudden the stress and resentment started to melt away and I was able to begin the process of forgiving him.

I finally understood that we both had different levels of understanding and that was where all of our problems stemmed from. Neither of us was willing to budge, standing our ground firmly. I was grateful for this lesson and vowed to remember it when I disagreed with another person. I released my resentment and sent him thoughts of success and happiness and closed the chapter on that part of my life.

A week later, I was on a plane to Bali. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to write, relax and renew my soul. A few days into the trip, I received a call from my mother telling me she was entering rehab. I was shocked and angry. I felt like a dark cloud immediately covered my trip and it did, literally, in the form of incessant rain during the usual dry season.

The rain did not help me process and I cried just as much as rain poured down. I could barely write and peacefulness was nowhere to be found. I had to deal with a lot of anger, hurt and resentment in one of the most significant relationships of my life and I was on the other side of the planet. I tried my best to overcome my sorrow, but my mind stayed fixed on the issue.

Then one day, she called me and asked for forgiveness. I thought about my mother’s pain and a wave of compassion towards her came over me. I decided that I needed to find a way to forgive her. It wasn’t easy at first but I decided to write about it and allow time to heal. Through compassion and writing, I was able to see a clear path to forgiveness and restoration in our relationship.

With time, I have been able to restore and even strengthen my relationship with my mother and I am so grateful. The bitterness that I had harbored dissipated with the practice of forgiving and letting go. I was amazed at the healing that came after I resolved to surrender to the process.

As one relationship began to be restored, another started to crumble. It happened unexpectedly. My closest friend and I started to grow apart. We had shared everything for years, including world travel. After I left Bali, our relationship began to unravel. I went home to start a new chapter in my life where I went inward and continued to work on things that I had been ignoring for years. She continued to travel and with each destination, our relationship slowly fell apart.

This realization was tough for me. It is hard to realize that someone you have been close to for a long time starts growing apart from you. It was like a branch splitting in two creating two new trees. Each of the trees growing and blossoming, but separately. It hurts. Anger, resentment, confusion and sadness all happened at once. I knew in order to heal, I needed to release the relationship and forgive.

Once I moved forward with the process, I felt an immense sense of peace. I felt a sense of spaciousness, ready to be filled with something lovely. Letting go always creates that beautiful void where what is begging to grow has the space it finally needs to evolve. I learned that to forgive does not always mean to restore. Sometimes forgiving means releasing and letting go completely or for a time to allow healing to occur.

The most important lesson in forgiveness is the peace it provides. There is no peace in holding on to a hurt emotion. Whether letting go completely or restoring a relationship from a healed place, forgiveness offers peace of mind and clarity. There is a lightness that can only be felt once the weight of resentment, hurt and bitterness is lifted. Forgiveness heals and restores the lightness and replaces the weight with immense peace. It is a way to say “Peace be with you, peace be with me.”

4 Steps to Help Transform Anxiety

Read More

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

 

A New Definition for Success

planeI silently sighed as I saw my impending situation for the next fourteen hours. I was going to be in the middle seat. My seat mates were discussing how one preferred the aisle over the window, and I just stood there while the seating arrangements were decided. Either way, I was going to be in the middle.

The flight was from San Francisco to Manila. The first layover en route to Bali. “This is an easy flight” the old man sitting next to me said as he adjusted his Bose earphones. He asked if I was headed to the Philippines and I let him know it was a layover.

For the next several hours, I had a lovely conversation with him. He trains teams in emergency response all over the world. He was flying to the Philippines to teach residents how to reclaim their water and drill new wells. He asked me where I was headed and my plans for the trip. I let him know that I had recently quit my job to travel and figure out my next step. He nodded and then went into a long explanation on how life is supposed to be lived now and to not wait for the future because it may never come.

His background was in the military as a paratrooper and said he never felt fear until he went on a ride at a fair with his daughter where he was scared for her safety. “I jumped out of planes into war zones and nothing compared to the fear I felt in possibly losing something I loved.” This was a turning point for him where he decided to live life fully.

The conversation was rich and we discussed gifts that each person has and I told him that I could tell his was service and encouragement. He told me that I had encouragement too because he was inspired by my story. This surprised me because I had been battling some doubt on whether or not I had made the right decision.

Then he said something to me that I will never forget, “Now you need to go from success to significance.” He explained that success is only a portion of happiness, what really matters is living a life full of significance…a legacy (even if you don’t have children). Forward thinking and how one acts after unexpected events is key. How we react shapes what happens next.

I was so grateful to sit next to this man. I think back to how I felt when I realized that I was going to sit in the middle for a long flight and how a negative thought turned into a memorable conversation. It was serendipitous to meet this man and have such a meaningful conversation about direction just a week after I quit my job. I didn’t know what was next. I knew I wanted to make a difference, but I was still in the mindset of success by any means. Changing my mindset to significance and making a difference by helping others completely transformed my life.

I began living my life with intention, striving to make a difference and using my gifts. I have had 2 career transitions in my life and this time, I feel like I am going after my true desires. Taking the time to listen to my intuition and striving for a life of significance is a new definition of success for me. The anxieties that I felt with my first career break are not present because my focus is on something greater.

Everyone has a special gift to share with the world. Seeing significance as success definitely requires a change of thought. When we are  living the life we are meant to be living, success is measured in non-tangible ways.  My gratitude is boundless to the universe for the middle seat and the wisdom I learned on that plane.

How can you add significance to you success story?

For more on living with intention, click here.

One Rule to Simplify Your Life

Read More

In my life, there have been two times when I have sold everything I own to move to a new city. Each time I have done this, I end up needing less for my new place. I would ask myself these questions before each purchase: “Do I really need/love this?” “Will I want to move this again?” The more I asked, the less I realized I needed. I adopted simplicity as a lifestyle after the first big move.

I have a 12 month rule: If I haven’t worn it or used it in 12 months, I donate. Chances are, if I haven’t needed the item in a year, I most likely will not find a use for it any time soon.  I have been doing this since 2008 and with very few exceptions, this rule has worked.

The first time I tried simplifying, it was painful. I felt like I was letting go of the most important items I owned, including a large box full of every paper I wrote in college. I had been moving this box around for 5 years, never opening it to re-read what I had wrote. It was just this heavy thing that came with me to every house. When I threw the box and papers into the recycling bin, I felt my heart sink and then I felt lighter. I thought about the room that box took up and the weight I would never have to carry again. It was liberating.

By simplifying, I had made more room for new things to enter and provided myself the space I craved. I’m a collector of experiences and several came up the more I de-cluttered my life. I was able to save money by cutting back. I even said no to some experiences in order to go after the ones that truly moved me. The beauty in simplifying is that you start to go after the things that you really need or love. This approach has brought a richness to my life.

The process of getting rid of stuff is similar to weeding a garden. In order for the healthy plants to grow, the gardener must pull out the weeds or prune dead branches. After the weeds and dead growth have been removed, the plant can deepen its roots and sprout new growth.

Are there things in your life that you are holding onto for no apparent reason? Is there clutter that needs to be organized? Where can you simplify in your life? What things have not been used for more than 12 months?

At first, it will be hard to let go of things that have been held onto for years. Attachment is a source of pain. However, there is freedom in letting go. Visualize the newly cleared space, feel the freedom of simplifying. There are a few more weeks of Spring, the perfect time to take action and remove all that holds you back. Make room for what you really love and what wants to grow.

“Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life” -Marcus Aurelius

Rising Above Fear

Read More

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.

How the Ocean Reminds Me of Abundance

whaleThe other day, I came home to a notice of my rent being raised. Although this isn’t the best news to receive, I was surprised by my reaction. My immediate thought was that everything is as it should be and everything will be okay. I realized that if I would have received this notice a year ago, I would have reacted negatively and most likely become upset.

Shortly after I receiving the notice,  I laced up my runners and headed to the beach for a much needed run. I was thinking about the notice and processing the fact when all of a sudden, two whale’s tails rose out of the water very close to shore. I stopped, stunned at what I had just witnessed.

I watched the water and their heads bobbed up and then their fins followed by spouts of water bursting every so often. I stood there for a long time watching these magnificent creatures choreographed to the sound of the waves. I was completely entranced.

The longer I stood there, I realized that there were actually four whales close to shore. The only word that came to mind was “Abundance.” I often scan the water in search for whales, seals and dolphins when I am on the beach. I usually see one every once in a while out in the distance. But this time I was being shown just how abundant the universe really is. I considered this a good omen, one of abundance and provision.

Everything is going to be okay. In fact, when I look back on every time I received news like a rent hike, the universe has provided in ways I could not even imagine and I am filled with gratitude.

I am continually reminded of the lesson of going from a mindset of scarcity to sufficiency and finally abundance. Our minds create our reality. If we allow thoughts of scarcity to overtake us, that becomes our reality. Fixing our minds towards abundance and going a step further and actually practicing gratitude for abundance all around attracts abundance into our lives. Simply put, this is the law of attraction.

I am continually amazed how just changing my mindset from scarcity and anxiety to abundance and gratitude changes everything. Letting go and noticing the positive is key. When I just open my eyes to stop and observe, I realize just how abundant life really is.

Is there an area in your life where scarcity takes over your mindset? How can you transform your mindset to abundance? Where do you see abundance in your life?

For more information on transforming your mindset from scarcity to abundance and practicing gratitude, email me at emily@soulsadventures.com.