Embrace Your Storm

I suppose it’s not uncommon to experience a storm while writing about one. 21275-stormy-ocean-1920x1200-artistic-wallpaper Lately I’ve been feeling as if the universe is trying to squash the life out of me. Really, and in all fairness, it’s just asking me to grow up; to make the shift required from my old self and ways of thinking and being into a new, higher purpose. I would assume that as many times as I have done this it would get easier, but I will be honest in admitting that while it doesn’t necessarily get any easier, thankfully, it becomes simpler. I’ve been resisting the idea of writing this article for several reasons, first of which I felt like a liar. Here I am telling people to be brave, to weather the storm, they have what it takes…and then I wake up every morning feeling less and less like myself until I reach the mornings I don’t want to wake up at all. I felt I had nothing left in me to give, that I was tired and unworthy of an audience. So I haven’t written anything in over a week.

The best part about not taking psych meds for depression is that I can feel whatever it is I’m feeling, and hopefully learn from it. Younger versions of me would have been quick to numb the pain of feeling isolated and pressured to make moves by disappearing in a bottle of vodka, pacifying my anxiety with sex, and avoiding my insomnia with a blunt before bedtime. This time, with no job to report to, no lovers to fall into or deadlines to crush, I allowed myself to feel every miserable moment of it. I also joined a support group of women- self-titled, awesome goddesses- who are all going through changes of their own and upon whom I can rely for a friendly ear and emotional support.

Feeling it meant allowing myself to stay in bed when I didn’t feel like getting up, crying for hours, wanting to die, going to sleep and then waking up angry because I didn’t die. It also meant recognizing the mornings when I felt better and being grateful that those mornings actually happened; looking at the house in its deplorable state of uncleanliness, having enough energy to finally clean up, and recognizing happily that I’d made it to the other end of the tunnel without my usual vices. It meant recognizing too that while I felt better, I was still not my absolute best, and that being gentle and loving with myself is the most helpful thing I could do to help myself get better.

It was in this space that I was able to see how many of the thoughts and feelings I’d been carrying all these years about myself and the world around me were so off that it was no wonder I’d been prone to anxiety and depression all this time. I could see my fears as if they were identifying themselves on the theatre screen of my mind- no longer permitted to hide in the shadows of errant thought-messaging. The universe was trying to squash me, but in a good way. The part of me that needed to die was, indeed, dying, and I was grateful. I could face my demons head on now and overcome them, just as I’d done so many times over in the past. Of course I would rise like a phoenix- that is who I am; it’s what we phoenixes do!

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And I realized this too- this wouldn’t be the last time I experience this type of shift, just like it wasn’t the first. I pray to god it’s not my last. As I step into the new me, I can see I have so much more growing to do, and for that I’m excited. I’d never want to remain the same-old-me. Living things grow, after all; that is the nature of living. Sometimes growth is painful. Not all pain is harmful. Sometimes pain is a precursor to growth.

This time around, instead of resisting, I learned to embrace my storm.

Instead of running from my anxiety and cursing myself for my feelings of loneliness, I took hold of it and made it mine. In retrospect, I can see how many beautiful things happen in the storm. In the moment, though, we usually lack the vision to see it. Ask anyone who has become suddenly homeless, widowed, childless or parent-less. Ask anyone who has been through a personal storm about the love and beauty by which they were surrounded- the human compassion and prodigal blessings upon which they were bestowed as a result- the outpouring of love and compassion from the community, from family, from complete strangers who live thousands of miles away. In the midst of disaster there is always help, there is always grace, there are always angels. In the midst of darkness, there is always light, there is always love, even if it is just a tiny spark.

And don’t be fooled by people who say things like, “Your life wouldn’t be that way if you would only ______________. That’s bull. Last time I checked, no one is exempt- everyone goes through it at some point, even the most cheery of the bunch. We all have our dark days, we all have our storms. Storms are normal and necessary parts of the human experience.

Storms put us in the unique position of experiencing the grace and unbridled compassion of the universe, we simply have to be willing to see it. It is always there.

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I embraced my storm and found a part of me I always hoped was there- the girl who believes in her ability to be successful despite what life throws her way. I found my tribe- the group of upstate goddesses, former strangers and one high school friend- who are beautiful and resilient, who mirror for me the things I need to see in myself and who love me even when I’m in a funk so I can get through it. I found that I have what it takes to weather the storm, and that in itself is the most loving affirmation I could ever receive from the universe.

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I’ve decided to call this series Lessons From The Lighthouse, in homage to the imagery found in the film, Life Of Pi. These lessons have served as an inspiration to me in my personal growth and development in the past year and half, and now, I’m sharing them with you. I hope that they are instrumental in helping you find your inner ability to create miracles in your own life.

Light & Love!

To find the entire series, click here.

Choose Your Thoughts Carefully.

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Last week I had an unfortunate run in with a friend over social media. This friend, while I love her dearly, has a tendency to be a “Negative Nancy”, and I (as wonderful as I can be!) am the opposite, if only by intention. I will admit, I have a tendency to be a bit scathing in my delivery sometimes, and I am working on that- after all, we are all works in progress if nothing else.​ So her “FML!” moment (because she has cancer) was met with my soliloquy on a soapbox about ​being positive and not giving in to the want of feeding her disease with negative energy.

This turned into a trolling frenzy.

I’m not saying I was right to try to tell her who to be, or what to feel, or how to vent. ​Admittedly, in trying to point this out I only made myself look like an ass-hat, because who tells a cancer patient who thinks she is dying that she shouldn’t rail against the heavens? I mean- what kind of friend am I? Well, I honestly thought I was being the good kind…but I digress.

​I’m a firm believer that t​he universe does not discriminate between positive and negative energy. I​t only gives us what we give it.

​Over my life, I’ve played with this idea several times and seen myself manifest numerous things simply through the power of intention- my first apartment being yellow, living in Rosedale (a.k.a my best friend’s backyard), the fact that I am a single mother​ and both my children are on the autism spectrum…all these things are things I contemplated heavily before they came to pass in real life. It is as if I specifically asked the universe to hand me these things…and it did. Were all of them things I wanted? Of course not. But I focused on them so much that they manifested themselves regardless of whether I wanted or didn’t want them.

I​t’s not that I didn’t want my friend to vent- like I said, defaulting to “fml” is her thing; it’s a knee jerk reaction if for no other reason than she’s practiced it for so long she doesn’t realize there are other ways to deal with loss or pain or frustration. And it’s hard for me to know she is in pain and setting herself up for more. On the other hand, I’ve worked in facilities where I’ve seen the elderly and formerly destitute, those who are amputees, cancer patients and survivors, and others with multiple medical diagnoses who live day in and day out with nothing less than a smile, whose response to “How are you today?” is always anywhere from “Hanging in there!” to “Couldn’t be better!” or my personal favorite, “I’m alive-can’t complain!”

It occurred to me after a couple years of coaching others to be responsible for their own lives that I ought to do the same for me, otherwise I am nothing but a hypocrite. “You Are A Creator- Your Words Create Your World”, I’d said, time and time again. For the sake of the outcome of my own life, I’ve had to learn to be responsible with my thoughts. ​I owe it to myself to be such.

Even in the midst of our suffering, if we shake our fists and shout to the heavens “F*CK MY LIFE!”, the universe hears us and says, “Okay- no problem!”- and brings us exactly what we do not want…because we asked for it! Pushing through the desire to be negative and transmuting that energy into something positive is the type of inner alchemy of which miracles are made.

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​There’s a lot to be said for the power of positive thinking. If we head into every day affirming that the universe is, indeed, collaborating with us to make our dreams come true, we will see this truth manifest in our lives. It is possible, if we train our minds to do this by everyday practice. For some of us, this practice is not just necessary everyday but on a moment by moment basis, depending on what we have trained our personalities to agree is acceptable. Statistically, and especially among cancer patients, those with positive attitudes and expectations are more likely to have positive outcomes. One can practice mindfulness through a number of ways- stillness, prayer and meditation are excellent, ancient practices for training the mind and spirit. There are many different types of yoga one can try. Some people go for de-cluttering walks, others prefer to exercise, with or without music.

Personally, I enjoy reading personal development books and articles. I read anything I can get my hands on and I annotate while I read. And I pay attention to what’s coming out of my mouth. I set daily intentions for myself and keep a gratitude list so I can be mindful and present about the direction of my day, what I would like to achieve and how I’m going to achieve it.

Words carry power. They enchant, entice, incite, excite. Words are magic. My thoughts control the words that are coming out of my mouth. If I can control my thoughts- if I can catch them and hold them there and take a good look at them before they have the chance to escape my mouth and create havoc, I may yet have a chance.

I’ve come a long way. I didn’t mean to be mean to my friend but I can see how I came off as arrogant and lacking empathy.

If I could take it back, I’d explain to her that I watched my mom die of cancer but that after she was diagnosed with stage IV cervical cancer, she taught her kindergarten class and traveled and planned picnics and events for the neighborhood and decided she wasn’t going to let her diagnosis slow her down, and she lived seven years longer than the doctors said she would.

I’d tell her that one of my other really good friends is also presently in a nursing home, living as vibrantly as possible with the same diagnosis she has- stage IV colo-rectal cancer; her tumors are decomposing. The doctors don’t know what’s keeping her alive and in such great shape, but every time I see her, she’s smiling and at 6′ 3″, she is as loud as she is tall!

If I could start over, I’d begin by reminding her that she is not alone, that she is loved and surrounded by love, and even though I know she is in pain, she can draw from that loving energy around her and surround herself with peace and calm, happiness, love and light. And I’d encourage her to think and speak and live as though she were preparing to live, not as though she were preparing to die.

I’m not perfect, and I don’t know everything, but what I do know is, regardless the circumstances, we always have the power to choose.

“Whenever you suffer, next time don’t complain, don’t create an anguish out of it. Rather, watch it, feel it, see it, look at it from all possible angles. Make it a meditation and see what happens: the energy that was moving into the disease, the energy that was creating suffering, is transformed, the quality changes. The same energy becomes your awareness, because there are not two energies in you, the energy is one. You can make it sex, you can transform it and make it into love; you can transform it still higher and make it into prayer, and you can transform it still higher and make it into awareness—the energy is the same.”~ Osho

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Blessings & Affirmations

Find the practice that works for you and allow yourself to enter your quiet space. 

Acknowledge that the universe is a vast, infinite source of energy.

Tap into that energy and let that energy flow through you.

Release your negativity- pain, fear, worry, misunderstandings, feelings of lack and insecurity- and allow the goodness of the universe to flow through you.

Choose your thoughts carefully and embrace what is yours.

I have permission to create my future. 

The Universe wants me to succeed.

Money is flowing to me easily and effortlessly and I trust the Universe to take care of all my financial needs.

I am going to let myself participate in life and enjoy it. 

I can choose love. I am love.

I can choose peace. I am peace.

I can choose calm. I am calm. 

I can choose surrender. I have surrendered.

I choose blessings. I am a blessing.

I can choose abundance. I am abundant.

I can choose prosperity. I am prosperous.

Namasté .

Thoughts Of A Goddess: “Make The Shift”

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Last week’s lesson, Be Strong gave way to several breakthroughs and much needed karmic cleansing. Words that needed to be said were finally said. There were tears and kisses. There were confessions and forgiveness. There was the realization that everything in life happens for our highest good.

There is no such thing as failure. 

Nothing is ever going wrong. These moments are clarifying moments.

Learn from it what you must, then let it go and move on.

Know that when you have a dream, when you are charged with giving birth to a vision, you will experience resistance. Know too that the force of this resistance is in direct proportion to the measure of the dream that you will birth.

Great dreams encounter great resistance. Do not give in; do not give up. Push through and see your dream into reality; the universe wants you to succeed.

It is time for us to Get Ready, to Clean House.

 Make The Shift.

The Art Of War

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.~ Sun Tzu, The Art Of War, Chapter 3

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Much of life is preparation and calculation. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. In the 6th century BCE, Chinese general and military strategist Sun Tzu understood these principles, and wrote an entire manuscript called “The Art Of War”, which has been studied and translated since then. These principles for dealing with the “enemy” in times of war can be applied to daily life situations where “the enemy” can be considered as any adversary- any giant or pitfall- in our daily lives and personal development. Sometimes “the enemy” is us.

When the enemy is perceived to be external, our knee jerk reaction is to fight. We launch an all out, self-righteous attack, usually driven by a need to pacify our own ego. We feel slighted by the “other”. Our feelings have been hurt and we need to satisfy our feelings of revenge and self-pity. The universe must make it right! Chaaaaaaaaaarggggggeeeeee!!!!

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How often do we take the time to understand our “enemy”?

Sometimes the things we see in others that annoy us and drive us to anger are the same things with which we struggle, but we simply don’t see in ourselves- or don’t wish to see.

Sometimes the enemy is ourselves.

So many times, we let our fears, prejudices and bad attitudes get in the way and block our progress. It’s difficult when we are in these negative thought patterns to be the creatures of light, creativity and blessing we are called to be.

When it is clear that someone- an annoying coworker, a bad boss, a disloyal “friend” or companion, is causing the trouble, we have a few options. We can attempt to make our voices heard through direct communication and active problem solving. As Sun Tzu states: know the enemy. What kind of person are you dealing with? Is he/she easy to talk to? Irresponsible? Irrational? Stubborn? Get to know your enemy. Come up with a plan of attack and then proceed. Speak with a mentor or a life coach for help figuring out different scenarios. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially when dealing with difficult personalities. Remember, people can be trained. People will always treat us exactly the way we tell them we want to be treated. Understand what your enemy likes and dislikes and use those things to your advantage. Stand up for yourself. Say or do the unexpected thing. Do what you can and must to restore the balance of power- so you’re not giving your personal power away in exchange for a paycheck, or a roof over your head, or an external feeling of validation. Do not be afraid of people. People are all the same, and sometimes even the most ridiculous ones simply need someone to stop them in their tracks and remind them (ever so nicely) to get their heads out of their butts!

Oftentimes in the midst of problem solving, we realize the problem isn’t necessarily the other person- it’s our perception of the problem and the way we are choosing to handle it. Here’s where asking for help is  of benefit- sometimes after having the opportunity to vent and get all our negative feelings out in the open, we can clearly see what steps we can take for ourselves so as not to further complicate the situation, and to make ourselves feel better. Talk to a friend, a close relative, a mentor or sponsor and ask for guidance or feedback, or at the very least, to be heard. Don’t practice keeping your feelings bottled up, otherwise you will drive yourself insane!

If the “enemy” is a situation- a job where you’re no longer comfortable, or a living situation that is no longer ideal- the approach is two fold: 1: Understand what it is about yourself that needs to change so you don’t repeat the same pattern again in the future, and 2: Carefully plan your exit, knowing that this is not where you are supposed to be. Don’t feel badly about it- you do not owe anyone an apology for your happiness! If you make your desires known to the universe, it will conspire to bring you exactly what you are looking for- the new job opportunity, new living arrangements, a new-found respect for single-living- whatever it will take to restore you to your happy, balanced self.

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For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill

The entire point of life is not to go through it fighting battle after battle. Some people take great joy in being the warrior type and in truth there are some of us who are destined to be such. For the most part, however, I believe we are created to work past that part of our nature where we always respond in either fight or flight. If we train ourselves to know ourselves and understand others, we will get to the point where these fights become more and more infrequently; the place where we live and maneuver our relationships and situations as skilled generals, where we earn respect from others because we have mastered ourselves.

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I’ve decided to call this series Lessons From The Lighthouse, in homage to the imagery found in the film, Life Of Pi. These lessons have served as an inspiration to me in my personal growth and development in the past year and half, and now, I’m sharing them with you. I hope that they are instrumental in helping you find your inner ability to create miracles in your own life.

Light & Love!

To find the entire series, click here.