Thursday, December 27, 2012

Those People Who Seem to Have It All Figured Out

A few weeks ago, I was on a life coach course call with my classmates and Martha Beck, when Martha suggested a concept I found rather novel. She mentioned studying the stories of people we respected as a means of finding inspiration for our own journeys.

Although this may seem like an obvious recommendation to some, it was a complete lightbulb moment for me. It's not that I've never thought about people I admire—it's hard not to pay attention to the role models around us. But I guess I'd never really thought about learning from their life lessons.

As I sat on the call trying to decide who's life I'd like to have, the first person that came to mind was, of course, Oprah. The mother of all female success stories. Then there's Elizabeth Gilbert, who I adore. And Mastin Kipp, who I've become quite fascinated with. And I'm sure I could learn heaps from people like John Wooden and Steven R. Covey.

But the person who popped up and immediately stood out from the rest was one who I believe has made a career out of adding more joy to the world.

Ellen DeGeneres.

Why Ellen? She seems like she isn't afraid to be 100% her authentic self. She gets paid to dance on stage and crack jokes every day. She has found a way to take the things that light her up and turn them into a financially and spiritually fulfilling career. (Maybe even more so than Oprah.) Ellen just seems to exist in a continual state of bliss. And I think that's about as cool as life can get.

After realizing this, I'm definitely anxious to learn more about her life and her philosophies.

When we put energy toward the people and things that make us smile—that make us get that little bubbly feeling in our chests—we're steering our own lives in the direction of more happiness. 

I wonder what I'll discover if I start studying Ellen's story. Something might click and push me toward action I may have never taken otherwise.

Even if I don't learn much, I have a feeling she'll at least make me laugh. And that alone can put me smack dab in the path of more joy.

Who do you consider a great role model and why do you admire them?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Muscle Memory

I was doing a set of push-ups this week (on my knees) thinking about how, not too long ago, my upper-body was in better shape.

I can become stronger. 

I just need to break down those muscle fibers so they can rebuild themselves. 

Like so many other times when I was broken down and came out stronger on the other side.

The muscle memory that kicks in and helps my spindly arms remember how to support my body in planks and push-ups—well, I believe that the same thing kicks in to give us emotional strength. Each time we go through the breaking down, the building up becomes easier.

Somewhere inside, our bodies and spirits remember how strong we really are.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Different Way of Giving Thanks

If you've read some of my past posts here, you might know that I'm a pretty big believer in gratitude journals.

Even the littlest things that fill your heart with thankfulness can have huge power over your state of mind.

So I was excited to learn about a different spin on the gratitude journal when I caught a rebroadcasted episode of the Oprah show featuring Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. After walking Oprah through the sheer amazingness of her adventures throughout Italy, India, and Indonesia, Liz shared what I think could become a pretty transformative daily practice.

Each night before bed, Liz grabs her journal and documents the happiest moment from her day.

Not only does this send her off to slumberland with a pleasant thought in her head, it causes her to be present throughout each day—making note of the moments that bring a smile to her face.

The other benefit of this lovely exercise is that, as Liz noted, it can help you piece together the common threads of happiness, and give you a clearer picture of what really brings you joy. 

All those little moments have the potential to add up to big realizations (like, Holy Mackerel, I love combing DIY and design websites so much I might want to start one of my own).

The patterns can also help you identify activities you might want to mindfully incorporate into your life more often. I know for me, something as simple as feeling the breeze on my face when I'm reading in the backyard can shift me to a state of happiness. If I got myself outside more often to try to feel that breeze, it could have a huge impact on my day-to-day attitude!

Recognizing these happy moments is its own form of gratitude. And I, for one, believe that is the space we should be in if we want to live life at its best.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Semantics Are Everything

Earlier this year, a friend of mine shared some details with me about a rather rough patch in her life. Given the circumstances, she had every right to become resentful and jaded. But her therapist illuminated a different path she could choose to take. "This doesn't have to become your sad story," the doctor said. My friend had a choice in how to frame her series of unfortunate events. She could turn woe into a tale of redemption and rebirth.

We all get to choose the way in which our stories are told. 

I think I've heard Oprah mention a few times that when things get tough, she'll ask herself, "How is this serving me?" In my Martha Beck training, I've heard master life coaches encourage people to ask themselves, "How is what's happening right now PERFECT for me?"

By flipping our roles in the stories from victims to victors—even in small capacities—we suddenly regain our power. We no longer have to carry the full weight of the irritating or downright awful situations around us because we know there is more going on between the lines. We know that we have a hand in how it'll all be told, and we can paint ourselves as warriors who have been given the gift of struggle to grow stronger. 

That hot pink framed picture above is hanging in my bathroom, and every morning when I get out of the shower (unless it's one of those days where I decide to stay in my pjs until sundown) I look at it and try to remind myself that I get to choose how the words are going to string together on these pages of my life.

Some days it's hard to get the story straight, but I'm committed to giving it a happy ending. And really, a happy all-the-way-through. I hope you are, too!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Coming from a Place of Peace

"You may know it as 'the secret' or 'the law of attraction': the belief that just imagining what you want will bring it into being. You may also know that this usually doesn't work. The problem is, most folks try to 'manifest' things from an anxious, grasping mind-set. But the magic clicks only if we let our desires originate from a place of peace, then sustain them without attachment."
- Martha Beck, Oprah Magazine article December 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Surrendering to Our Gravitational Pulls

When I was first dating Mr. W, he owned a motorcycle.

And one sunny Sunday morning, he convinced me to go with him on a ride through the Hollywood Hills. I had never been on a street bike before so, as I uncontrollably sang Grease 2's "Cool Rider" in my head, he gave me a quick tutorial on how to ride. Or, rather, how to be a passenger.

"Lean into the turns," he said.

As soon as we got on the bike and hit a curve, I heard Mr. W's instructions in my head. Everything in me felt like it should try to counterbalance the bike's tilt toward the pavement, but I did as I was told and shifted my body streetward as he did.

We whizzed around the curve and the bike righted itself immediately, taking us easily down the road.

Leaning into the curves, going with the pulls of the bike made the ride smoother. 

It works the same way when your heart or spirit or passion feels pulled by something. 

Surrendering to the gravity of it can free your ride from bumps. Avoiding the urge to resist—do what you're "supposed" to do or be who you "should" be—can keep you moving at top speed until you reach a destination that's completely in line with your essential self and deepest desires.

Where is the universe pulling you right now? Try surrendering and leaning into the curve. You might be surprised by how much more joyful the ride will be.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Who Matters Most in the Circle of Trust

In 2007 when I started my eternally valuable stint in therapy, one of the first things I told my doctor was that I wanted to work on the trust issues I had with my boyfriend. I hated that I didn't fully trust him—and he did, too.

After all, trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. Particularly those where love and fidelity are involved.

My therapist may have seen the writing on the wall, but he served me with endless compassion and plenty of suggestions to try to improve the trust I had in my beau.

When all my fears were realized and I discovered the boyfriend was, in fact, not trustworthy, the doc and I had to embark on a new endeavor together: Getting me to trust myself.

It had never occurred to me that trusting my own judgment—my own instincts—was the most important piece of the puzzle. 

I'm not talking about listening to my anxiety or the un-evolved, reptilian part of my brain that likes to broadcast defeatists tirades. I'm talking about that quiet, inner wisdom that rests inside my very core.

No matter how much (or little) we trust others, when we can learn to trust ourselves, we can relax into living, knowing that someone will always be there to take care of us, no matter what happens. 

In 2007, this was a bit of a novel concept to me. I thought there was nothing I could do to protect myself against untrustworthy people. If one made his way into my inner circle, I might find myself powerless against his toxicity. I might get hurt. I might get my heart broken. And I might not know what to do about any of it.

Learning to trust myself was like suiting up in armor and shedding it at the same time. I could let go of defenses like cynicism and sarcasm because my best defense would always be intact. I could count on myself to size up people and situations—move away from the ones that elicited the ick factor—and find ways to deal with unexpected changes, while staying true to who I really was.

I hope that I'll never have to take a dip in the dating pool again (because I very much adore my Mr. Wonderful). But if I ever do, I'll be eternally comforted by the trust I have in myself.

I think a girl's own gut is the best wing-woman she can ever have.    

Monday, October 15, 2012

Finding Calm Amidst the Storm

At a recent event in Phoenix, I had a great conversation with a friend about fear of flying. She had flown to the conference we were attending, but had been really anxious about it in the weeks leading up to her departure. As she described her anxiety over the situation, she shared a story that acted as a big turning point for her in making peace with the idea of getting into a plane.

One night, she had come out of a class to find herself at the edge of a nasty storm—which was directly over the path she had to take to get home. Barely able to see the road in front of her, she had to inch along the highway, bit by bit until she could get out of the thick of it. She said she caught herself thinking, "I would much rather fly than be stuck in this mess ever again!"

Her story was a great example of how everything is relative and our perspectives can shift in an instant, but what struck me even more was how she described getting through the storm.

If you're caught in the middle of a storm, all you can do is keep moving slowly through it. 

This is true under the veil of thunder and lightning, but isn't it also true when you're going through a big scary transition? Or when you get upsetting news about your health or the health of someone you love? If you stop moving, you may have to wait a heck of a long time before you reach the end of the storm. But if you speed through, or try to ignore that it's happening, you could put yourself in massive danger of getting hurt.

Watching the road right in front of you, taking things moment by moment seems to not only be the way to reach a calmer destination, but to also keep your nerves somewhat intact.

In 2007 when I climbed Half Dome with friends, we were met with unexpected snow one day when coming home from a hike. Rather than being safely tucked in a giant SUV with 4-wheel-drive, we were coasting down the mountain in my Prius—no snow chains or other appropriate equipment in sight.

What I remember from that experience was that I felt safest when going the slowest, and I felt calmer because my friend had a Chris Rock stand-up CD playing in my stereo. The laughter that came out my mouth was like anti-venom to the fear I felt being on that snowy mountain road.

We all have to travel through storms at various points. Often, there's just no way around it. But if you find yourself in the thick of it, I highly recommend taking your sweet time—day by day, inch by inch—and trying to find a way to inject a little laughter into the situation. Eventually you'll make your way home, and maybe even ultimately find yourself taking flight.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

If Only We Could Take Life Lamaze Classes

When I was eighteen, I watched my sister give birth to her first daughter, my oldest niece. It was an experience of pain and extraordinary wonder that was like nothing I'd ever witnessed before. Watching my sister endure Pitocin-induced contractions was excruciating (for both of us). The pain was so great, nausea took over and forced her to chew ice chips and keep a bowl nearby just in case. Her toes cramped up into tangled claws as my brother-in-law and I each held one foot and tried to massage out the spasmodic muscles. I know she held tight to my brother-in-law's hand through a lot of it, finding support in the mere presence of his fingers wrapped around her own.

Thankfully, she received an epidural when she hit the 5-centimeter window, and things calmed down after that. But then there was the pushing...

Using "labor" to describe this whole process seems like a humongous understatement to me. 

They should rename the hospital wings "Work-Harder-Than-You-Ever-Have-In-Tremendous-Pain & Delivery."

I don't remember now how long she pushed, but I will never forget watching my niece's head crown and make its first appearance in the world. Seeing her pinched red face and nervous, balled baby fists push their way into the delivery room was a miracle to behold. It was like peeking behind God's curtain and seeing some magical gear that keeps the machine going.

When the cord was cut and the baby was cleaned and swaddled, and all the trauma and hard work was done, life could finally begin its new phase.

The whole birthing process—the bringing to life of a new entity—feels kind of the same even when its a job or relationship or major personal change, doesn't it?

It's hard work to start a new phase!

I know for me, sometimes the process makes me sick to my stomach. Sometimes I want to cry because it all just feels like Too Much Effort. It's uncomfortable and makes muscles in my body cramp up a little. And the pain always seems to come in waves—one minute I'm fine, the next I'm being walloped!

But I've found that some of the same tactics women use in childbirth can work wonders on birthing ideas, books, promotions, hard conversations—all those tough things that require you to hunker down and give it your all.

The first trick? Good, hearty, deep breaths. The second? Allowing things to happen naturally. Pushing only when it really feels like the right time to push, instead of wearing yourself down with exertion or resistance that isn't necessary. And third? Hanging on to the hand of someone you love. Knowing someone is there with you—that you're not all alone—and that you've got support can be endlessly comforting.

Happy birthing to all you life-changing, life-phase-starting mamas out there. Good luck with your deliveries!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Whisper to a Scream

We all know That Voice. The one that pops up in our heads but doesn't feel like it comes from our own brains. The one that feels like a secret someone else is whispering to us. He's not the one. You're going to get hurt. This job is draining your spirit dry. Maybe you could make a career out of that hobby you love. 

We hear it and get that sensation of "hmm..." and then we go on our merry way.  

Oprah likes to talk about how intuition begins as the softest of suggestions—maybe a gentle nudge—and if you don't listen to it, it gets louder and louder until it's like a brick upside the head. And if you continue to ignore it, eventually it'll be like an entire brick wall coming down on you. Catastrophe.

When I dated Mr. Redflags years ago, my first warnings about him came as quiet inclinations. Then they grew to cries and blossomed into alarm sirens and then into the brick wall of a night when I found out about the other girl and the potential baby.

What would have happened if I'd listened to the first whisper?

Caroline Myss says that intuition is the source of our greatest suffering because it points out to us when we are betraying ourselves.

Our intuition is trying to protect us from betraying ourselves. 

It's pretty amazing when you think about that. This powerful guidance system we have built in to help us stay true to our essential selves. If we're willing to listen, that is. Although even when we don't, we'll still get the lesson.

Sometimes the crumbling brick wall is rescuing us from some sort of worse fate. It would just hurt a heck of a lot less if we paid attention to it when it was a mere speck of clay.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Falling Fast, Getting Up One Step Closer

The past month has been a bit of a roller coaster for me and my Mr. Wonderful. We found a house we loved in one of our favorite towns and, knowing we were pre-approved for a home loan, put an offer on it. And then all sorts of things started going wrong.

One approach to the loan failed. And then another did. We decided to change mortgage brokers and, despite an optimistic outlook, yet another attempt to get funding fell through. Amidst all of this, I was pulling out all my manifesting stops—acting as though, writing in a pray rain journal, trying to let it go.

When none of that seemed to work, and none of the loan options panned out, we made peace with the fact that this just wasn't our house and the Universe had something better in store for us. Which, of course, marked the moment that everything turned around and we got our loan. We get the keys to our new abode tomorrow.

Failures are always the stepping stones to success. 

The more you try and fail, the closer you get to clarity, understanding and, ultimately, your goal.

I learned this lesson many times over when I was dating. At one point, I affectionately renamed the dating process "Operation P.O.E." Process of Elimination. I knew that every bad date, every failed fling was inching me closer and closer to finding the right guy.

I knew that the faster I failed, the faster I could move forward to a new approach that might work better.

It's too bad that failure gets such a bad rap. There's so very much to learn from those crashes and burns. And if we give up after the first botched attempt, we may never find out how far we can go.

If you've felt like you failed at something recently, do me a favor—give yourself a big pat on the back. It took courage to even try, and if you give it another shot, you'll be one step closer to succeeding.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Expecting the Flock Can Make Them Fly Your Direction

I share a story in my book, The Path to Mr. Wonderful, about a time my Mom showed me her amazing (and somewhat unintentional) manifesting skills in the area of bird attraction. Here's how it went:

My parents still live in the house where I grew up, and it seems like every time I visit, they have a new vegetable planted in the garden or a new ornament adorning the deck. It was no surprise that I noticed a bright-colored, unfamiliar bird feeder hanging from their back fence during one of my stops.
“Did you see my new finch feeder?” my mom asked.

In all my days on their property, I had never, ever seen a finch in their yard. Doves? Sure. Hummingbirds? Plenty. Finches? Not so much.

“Mom, I don’t think there are any finches around here,” I said, gazing at the unoccupied seed dispenser.

“Not yet,” she replied, “but they’ll come.”

It was as though she knew beyond a doubt that, one day, her feeder would be covered in birds.

A few weeks later, I returned for dinner and immediately detected a flurry of chirping as I wandered onto the deck. The feeder was crawling with finches.

Had my mom manifested their arrival with her positive feelings? Had her knowing outlook and invitation of food been enough to attract them right into her backyard? There’s no way to tell for sure, but the bottom line is that she got her birds.

By acting as thought her yard was already filled with finches, she had drawn them into existence. 

I've mentioned the idea of "acting as though" in a couple other posts here because it's one of the most paramount principles of manifesting. I know, it's all very Field of Dreams, "if you build it, they will come." But it works!

What would you start doing differently if you were acting as though your perfect life already existed? Would you treat yourself better? Engage in different activities? Laugh more?

Why not start with the positive feelings and joyful actions and let your dream align with YOU?

You could end up with an entire flock of fulfilled fantasies right in your backyard!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Take a Sad Song and Make it Better

Lately I've been learning all sorts of fun tricks  in my Martha Beck class for dealing with life's hurdles, and although I've passed on the wisdom to several friends, I hadn't really been putting it to work in my own life until this week. One of the simplest techniques I've learned for turning painful tasks into slightly more benign—even fun—endeavors is brainstorming ways to BETTER them.

For example, when some of the clutter around my makeshift desk area was bugging me a few weeks ago, I decided to better my space by reorganizing it and adding a lovely bright orchid into my line of sight.

I cannot tell you what an impact that one little flower pot has had.

Surrounding ourselves with things we find beautiful is great way to elevate our moods. 

This week, I was feeling less than excited about a project I had to tackle for work, so I decided to run through my "bettering brainstorm list" and try to find something that would make it more enjoyable. I opted to listen to some fun, funky, ambient music on iTunes while I wrote.

That music made all the difference. 

A couple of times, I was literally dancing in my chair—a far cry from the hunched, tight-shouldered posture I often assume while I'm working.

I think music might be the single easiest way to improve an un-fun situation. 

Maybe it's not the same for everyone, but having an upbeat tempo to move to totally gave me a boost. Music can also take you out of your head a bit and ground you in the present moment. I've found that going to concerts for my favorite bands often feels like a spiritual experience. Church a la Coldplay or U2.

Another great way to better a situation you're not so excited about? Give yourself a reward when it's over. 

The rewards of choice around these parts are wine and chocolate. And man can they be motivating!

What things would you incorporate into your daily activities if you wanted to better them?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finding Wonderful Through Wonder

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I took an empty notebook from my desk and started penning a "novel" about a young girl who went on a cruise and met a boy with whom she shared her first slow dance. I loved writing, and the idea that I could write something about relationships—even at such a young age—delighted me to no end.

When I wasn't writing, I gobbled up love stories in my teens then switched to relationship self-help books in my twenties and finally, in my early thirties, became fascinated with the relationships we have with ourselves. Relationships have long filled me with wonder and I can't seem to get enough information on them.

That kind of curiosity—the insatiable desire to just learn a little more—is the signage that marks the path to wonderful.

Think about it: Isn't pursuing your passion the same as indulging the things you wonder about? Tracking the things you just can't get enough of? Following our curiosity not only takes us on adventures, it can lead us to the most joyful of destinations. Following wonder can move us in the direction of the things we love. Wonderful things. And whenever you exude love and move toward love, you attract love right back at you.

What are there things you find yourself wondering about again and again? 

Are there hobbies you always make time for or magazines you always read or TV shows you never miss that might be trying to tell you something about your own path to wonderful? Looking at the things to which you devote your time can be such an eye opener when you're trying to navigate the path.

Open the door and take a closer look at your wonder. It may lead you right where you've always wanted to go. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Life Beyond Tunnel Vision

When you're a decisive person (like I am) it's really easy to find yourself fixated on one idea of how things SHOULD work out for you. If you're a planner or a dreamer or a manifester, you probably spend lots of time mentally and physically sketching out your desired scenario, and when you think it begins to present itself, you want to hold onto it like a bass fisherman reeling in his biggest catch.

I did this more than once when I found a guy I liked. Particularly, Mr. Perfect-on-Paper. I was so convinced that he was the ONLY guy who would ever so precisely fit my criteria, I dug my fingernails in and put my man blinders on, pretty much the minute I met him.

Gripping one outcome so tightly not only has a tendency to energetically repel what you desire, it can also close you off to opportunity and hope.

I don't know if it was my desperate grasping that drove away Mr. P-o-P, or if he would have moved on no matter what, but I do know that my tunnel vision deprived me of being hopeful for quite awhile.

Believing there was only one way things SHOULD have worked out left me completely defeated when they didn't. 

I had a chance to re-learn this lesson last week when, in the midst of escrow on a house in Santa Ynez, my Mr. W and I hit a few bumps. My immediate reaction was to hold on tight and feel scared and sad that we might lose our dream home. But then I had the fortune of stumbling onto our real estate agent's website, and as I began looking at other options in the area, I felt renewed confidence that everything was going to work out.

I realized that I had been thinking things were supposed to go only one way, but maybe the Universe had something different in mind. Something better. Something I wasn't capable of understanding yet.

I loosened my grasp and opened my eyes wider to let new possibilities come into my line of vision.

The funny thing was—as soon as I let go, things started moving more smoothly with the original plan. 

Great lesson on having faith in the process.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Putting Pen to Paper and Praying for Rain

I read about a really fantastic idea on Martha Beck's blog last week for creating a manifesting journal. Apparently the idea was passed to her by Master Life Coach Bridgette Boudreau who learned it from Master Coach and Manifesting Guru Jeanette Maw. It's called a Pray Rain journal and you're supposed to write in it every day as though you're already living the life you want to live. As though you've already met the guy, gotten the job, moved to the new city, attained the goal.

Fundamental manifesting: Acting as though

I've done some exercises like this before—but never kept a dedicated journal for it. And although I've recently written "stories" about my dream life on a mini vineyard in Santa Ynez, I've yet to find out whether that life will come to fruition.

But I do know that writing down dreams and desires does something to the Universe. 

For example, the Mr. Wonderful list I made eventually spun itself into a husband that matched it. And the countries I've journaled about wanting to visit have gotten ticked off one by one. I even had a rather magical experience when I wrote the word "Approved" on a piece of paper while I was waiting to find out if Mr. W and I had gotten our health insurance policy this year.

I was worried because I'd been denied (thanks a lot, osteopenia) back in 2005, and thought that black cloud might follow me all the way into 2012. But as I sat with the phone to my ear, listening to the hold muzak, I focused hard on the word "Approved" and how full of love and relief I would feel when I got that news.

I acted as though it was already happening. 

And when the insurance rep got on the phone, she told me exactly what I wanted to hear.

I'm going to give this whole Pray Rain journal a shot. If the pen is powerful enough to bring me a husband and health coverage, a vineyard and a lucrative life coaching career can't be too far off—right?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Appreciating What You've Got Before It's Gone (Even if It's an Appliance)

In the past several weeks, our house has felt a bit like a refurbishing facility and a junkyard combo. While we've been tearing apart our backyard under the guise of re-landscaping, things in our house have been spontaneously falling apart. This isn't the first time this has happened. It seems that our home and the objects inside it have a tendency to fall into cycles of unrest...

Since sometime in June, my Mr. Wonderful has had to repair a sprinkler line that broke and became clogged, our dishwasher that decided to stop heating the water and drying the dishes, and our washing machine which sounded like someone dropped a boulder inside it during its spin cycle last week. The sprinklers and dishwasher have made full recoveries, but we had to invest in a new washer.

I teased Mr. W that the washing machine was his fault because last week he said he hated doing laundry. Hello, Negative Manifestation.

But today I started thinking that maybe our appliances need to be on the ever-growing list of things we're grateful for in our lives. It's easy to give thanks for health and happiness and family—or even silly specifics like the new red top I bought on sale or the orchid a friend recently gave me.

But perhaps we need to make concerted efforts to look around ALL the time and really be thankful for EVERYTHING.

I finally finished The Joy Diet today and in the final chapter, Martha Beck shares this old Sufi story:
Two men encounter each other walking on a country road. One of them, a wealthy nobleman, has a bag slung over his shoulder and a dejected expression on his face. The second man, a beggar, asks him why he's so depressed. "I'm looking for happiness," says the nobleman. "I've tried everything—I've had wealth, power, position, education, lots of women, but I'm still totally angst-ridden. So the other day I finally threw some stuff in a bag and set out to find myself."
"Ah," says the beggar. "I see." Then, without warning, he grabs the nobleman's bag and rushes off into the forest. He cuts through the rugged terrain until he's some distance ahead of his distraught victim. Then, when he sees the nobleman coming, he leaves the bag in the center of the road and hides behind a rock to watch. 
Naturally, when the rich man sees his bag, complete with everything he was carrying when he lost it, he goes crazy with joy—jumping around, singing hallelujah. The beggar, still hiding behind his rock yells, "Strange, what it takes for some people to find happiness." 
 As the old 80's hairband Cinderella song went: You don't know what you got 'til it's gone. 

Lightly petting everything in my home and whispering to it that I'm grateful may not only work to make me more joyful and appreciative, but will hopefully generate some positive juju that will keep all electronics and other apparatuses fully functioning. I'm definitely going to give it a try

Gratitude comes in many forms, doesn't it?!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What's Your Latest Joy Trigger?

Last week, I posted a question on Facebook asking friends to share the small (and even weird) things that recently brought them joy. The responses ran the gamut, with joy sparkers like:
  • A burping contest with my kids
  • Watching teenagers put neon Post-It Notes all over a friend's car
  • Reading 50 Shades of Grey
  • Seeing a son's first smile
  • Booking a trip that requires a visa in addition to a passport
  • Watching a man in a fedora sing along to Tina Turner in his car
  • A 5lb pet Chihuahua who thinks it is the bodyguard to an 85lb Golden Retriever
  • Snuggles from a pet cat and insider "lingo" among family members
  • Kids who only respond when called by their nicknames
  • Hearing the excited voices of children when you're about to come through the door
  • Listening to a dirty comedian with a glass eye
  • Celebrating a family reunion with crazy costumes and wigs

My newfound joy came when I decided to perch myself on one of the retaining walls in our backyard and read for awhile. As I sat there, dangling my legs over the grass below, the late afternoon sun warming by back, I felt overcome by a sense of freedom and mild elation. For twenty whole minutes, I got to just hang out, carefree, wildly swinging my appendages like I was 9 again. It was delicious.

I've been reading the book The Joy Diet as part of my Martha Beck coaching coursework and it has further underscored the already important task of finding more joy in everyday life. Whether that means seeking a few more laughs on YouTube or DamnYouAutoCorrect between work meetings, or doing something scary or exciting to get my heart beating a little faster, or finding time to relax and dangle my feet over a wall in the backyard, it can all add up to better feelings between sunrise and sunset.

I know for me, scheduling some purposeful joy time has definitely shifted my overall mood. 

And if the Law of Attraction indeed rings true, creating space in your life for joy will only work to draw even more happiness your way.

So tell me, what would you do today if you wanted to bring more joy into your life? 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tending Your Soil

My Mr. Wonderful is more of a plant obstetrician than he is a gardener. I'm not sure I've ever witnessed someone put so much care into delivering fauna babies and creating optimal conditions for growth. This year, he bought a special heating pad to keep his seedlings warm as they pushed their little sprouts up through the dirt. I had no idea such things even existed. And each time we dig up our vegetables and plant new ones for the season, he makes sure we till the soil, adding just the right amount of manure, gypsum, and bone meal.

Imagine if we all put so much care into the tending of our personal lives. 

What would you need to create the optimal conditions for your own growth? Maybe a support group to help nurture you as you forged ahead. Or some stillness in the sunshine to get you good and rooted in your sense of self. Perhaps a little food for your mind and soul.

I know my Mr. W probably makes a shopping list of the elements he needs to cultivate a healthy garden. What would happen if you made a list of the elements you feel you need most?

Give it a try. It might help you put your finger on the nutrients you're lacking and send you into a season of blossoming like you've never known.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Careful What You "Wish" For

I can remember playing lots of games of Go Fish as a kid and triumphantly squealing, "I fished my wish!" whenever I drew my desired card from the "fishing" pile. What a feeling it was to get the card I wanted most. That phrase sticks with me to this day.

Anytime the Universe seems to deliver on what I want, I find myself thinking, "I fished my wish!"

Like last week, I was at dinner with old coworkers and I mentioned how I would love to get lots more work from Client X because I just adore them and feel comfortable writing for them. I didn't get specific. I didn't ask to have more work from them when my regular workload was more manageable. I didn't mention balance or type of work I most wanted to do. I just put the desire out there and the next thing I knew, the Universe was delivering.

Three of my contacts at Company X emailed me this week to see if I could take on assignments for them. Which, unfortunately turned out to be a little stressful as I already had a lot going on.

The Universe doesn't fill in these fantastic little details for us. It just delivers on those things where focus our attention and energy.

And sometimes, those things are exactly what we don't want.

One of the classic examples of this happening in my life was back in 2004 when I was in a dating dry spell. I don't know how many times I complained to friends, "I'm going to be single FOREVER," "I'm never going to find a BOYFRIEND," and (sorry, Mom) I'm NEVER having sex again!" That last one seemed to get uttered the most. And guess what—I didn't get any action for an entire year.

Every time I put my focus on the things I wasn't getting—even though I wanted them so badly—the Universe said, "I hear ya!" and kept delivering more of what I was "asking" for.

It was like going fishing and hooking the same old boot on my line over and over again.

Anytime I seem to forget the importance of mindful focus and specificity around what I want, I get taught the same lesson. Last week was a great reminder that I need to be more careful about what I wish for.

Is there anything you've been "asking for" lately that the Universe has delivered?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Enough is Enough

Can you fill in the blanks here?

I don't deserve _________ because I'm not _________ enough.

If you struggled with this because you absolutely know you deserve whatever occupies that first blank space, congratulations to you. You're on the path to good stuff and I kind of want to high-five you.

If you were able to come up with one, two or more answers that represent things you truly want but don't think you're "enough" to get, you're out of alignment with what you desire from the Universe. And that's all well and fine, unless you're hoping to bring those blanks into existence sooner than later.

Let's say for example that you believe you don't deserve the love of your life because your bank account isn't full enough. Chances are, you're going to prove yourself right. Your belief (or lack thereof) is a force of nature that will sync up—or align—with what it is most like...i.e. you not meeting your Mr. Wonderful.

Consider changing the scenario you've connected to the thing you want.

Miraculous things happen to normal people all the time. The possibilities in this life are endless. And lucky you, you don't need a miracle—you just need a mindset change. There is a guy out there who will love you even if your finances are a mess. In fact, maybe he's the type who totally digs planning fun, free adventures that will enable you to save money and pay off your credit card debt. The more creative you can get in the way you spin your desired scenarios, the more likely they'll be to magically occur.

You just have to believe you are enough to deserve them. 

And you are.

So why not let that mind of yours run wild until it stumbles upon the perfect situation for you where you are right now—not two years into the future when you might be "enough."

Find your enough-ness today and switch your focus from a lack to a lock that secures your alignment with your best-case scenario.

Repeat after me: I am more than enough.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Letting Go of What You Want Most

In 2005 I wanted a freelance copywriting job more than just about anything in the world (except maybe a boyfriend). I pounded the Internet and toiled and networked and whipped myself into a ball of stress and just couldn't seem to bring what I wanted to fruition. I was a failing manifester. And after 2 months of trying, I gave up.

I decided to let it go and apply for a job at a coffeehouse. I was tired of feeling stressed—I wanted to relax and have fun. So as my last hurrah I decided to spend my dwindling savings on a trip to Disneyland.

Of course, the night I came home from The Happiest Place on Earth, there were 3 messages on my answering machine all for desirable freelance writing positions.

What I wanted came to me only after I let go of it. 

I've seen this phenomenon (which isn't really a phenomenon, but rather just the way things work, I think) occur time and time again in my life. As soon as I release my grip, I get what I desire.

That's the thing about the Universe. It doesn't respond to tight grips. It doesn't respond to will. It aligns with intention. It syncs with certainty.

The space of wanting is often tethered to an underlying feeling of lack. You want something because you don't already have it. But when you focus on that want—that lack of having—you perpetuate the thing's nonexistence. You assert to the Universe that the job, love, house, salad spinner of your dreams is missing from your life. And the Universe responds with YES it IS missing from your life! You're right! It keeps giving you what you keep your attention on.

Letting go releases the energy block. It clears your slate and can open up space to (stealing a line from Eat, Pray, Love) let the Universe rush in.  

When I lost my job in the autumn of last year, I again found myself hoping I'd find a freelance copywriting position. I dreamed of working from my couch or dining room table. I pictured freedom and a change from my previous daily grind. But I also thought, "Maybe I'll wait to really even start looking until after the New Year."

There was no clenching of fists. There was no trying to force the Universe to obey me with voodoo magic. There was an idea that came and sort of went into hibernation as I worked on other projects and enjoyed my time off. And the third week of January, I received a call from a virtual marketing company who wanted me to freelance on a semi-permanent basis for them, from home.

I had let go and what I wanted had landed right in my hands.

What are you hanging onto that could be holding you back from getting what you ultimately want most?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Celebrating Your Independence

In 2009, I spent six weeks visiting my Mr. Wonderful in Europe while he was working on a project outside of London. Despite the fact that we were in a relationship, the trip was a big test of my independence. While Mr. W was at work during the day, I was left to my own devices and had to quickly get used to being my own best company.

Prior to meeting Mr. W, I had gotten pretty darn good at flying solo—hiking, running, seeing movies and even buying my car with no supporter at my side. Even when I did stuff with girlfriends (like climbing Half Dome) the experiences carried a sense of self accomplishment different from what they would have if they'd taken place with a lover or spouse.

Back then, the things I did on my own enriched my character in a way that not only made me feel good about who I was but also seemed to make me more desirable to the male faction.

Be and do what you want to attract, right? A strong woman who is faithful to her sense of self will attract a strong man who is equally faithful.

But what I realized when I got deeper into dating Mr. W (and see again now as his wife) is that maintaining independent strength is always good practice. If you don't flex those muscles every now and then, they will start to atrophy.

A married friend of mine and I recently compared notes and decided that we had some natural tendencies to defer to our men when it came to certain things. Being the passenger in the car more often than not was one of our examples, and when I thought about it, the single girl inside me flew into a slight panic. I don't want to become dependent on another person! Even if it's just in the car!

The truth is, however, that independence is often just a state of mind. 

I can rely on other people and still hang on to my autonomy. It all boils down to the way I frame the story in my mind.

I don't regret that my shaky story on self-sufficiency prompted me to dine alone at a swanky Argentinian restaurant on the Thames during that 2009 trip. Even though my arms were covered in goosebumps from the river breeze, and my nose was buried in a book throughout most of my lunch, I rather enjoyed myself.

And maybe it's these instances that fuel my ability to tell myself different stories now. Even when my Mr. W is at the wheel.

Maybe our independence is a constant cycle of experiences informing self assessment informing experiences.

Kinda makes me want to take myself out to a nice solo dinner.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Transformation Before Flight

I recently learned something completely fascinating about caterpillars' metamorphoses into butterflies. Did you know that their whole chubby little multi-legged physical makeup rearranges itself into a sort of magical goop and then puts itself back together in the form of a beautiful winged insect?

The site How Stuff Works explains it like this:
"Think of it as recycling—if you drop a plastic bottle off in the recycling bin, it can be melted down into an entirely different shape. This is what happens inside the chrysalis. Much of the body breaks itself down into imaginal cells, which are undifferentiated—like stem cells, they can become any type of cell. The imaginal cells put themselves back together into a new shape."

I wish I had known this before every break up. Before I got laid off from my first job. Before I moved somewhere new. 

Knowing that, even though my very DNA felt inside-out and upside-down, I was going to emerge a fully intact new and more capable being would have been immensely comforting.

I have quite a few friends who are in transitional cocoons right now. I'm sure they are feeling like the lives they knew have liquified. I'm sure it's hard to figure out what to do with the unfamiliar sludge they've been left with.

But the butterfly may offer an explanation for them. 

Even though it may feel like they're stuck in a shell or slowly melting, I would bet that their "imaginal cells" are just in the process of reconfiguring. And eventually everything will come back together as it should—in a new and breathtaking way. In a way that will let them fly like they never have before.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happiness: A Follow-Up to Last Night's Post

One of my favorite blogger friends brought up a valid point on last night's post, so I wanted to go back and expand a bit more on the thinking here.

Writing in a gratitude journal won't magically erase big unhappiness. It won't reform a cheating husband,  repair childhood trauma, bring back a lost loved one, or make a terrible boss suddenly supportive and fun to be around. It's true that some spouts of unhappiness will keep gushing full force until time heals them, or you make a big change to your situation—or yourself.

But I truly believe that when we're awash in those larger points of unhappiness, it becomes even more important to focus on little joys. Otherwise, we are all misery all the time. And that is no way to live.

A gratitude journal can help you identify the little joys—and taking those one step further can help you cultivate bright spots of happiness in your life.

For example, I love and am eternally grateful for cheese. Knowing this, I also know that if I eat cheese (and bruschetta) for dinner on nights I'm feeling low, it usually helps me perk up—even if just for an hour or so. Maybe you love your dog, so dedicating twenty minutes a day to playing ball with her could help you elevate your mood. Or maybe you feel grateful for your health, so taking a hike once a week would help you feel happy and fortunate. Or maybe giving a manicure to those fingers that work themselves to the bone will give you a little boost.

Whatever your mini joys are, identifying and acting on them is a gift you can give yourself whenever you need it most. 

[CAVEAT: As with most things, there's a line that should be observed when indulging in joy. I love wine and chocolate—they both bring me joy—but if I were to consume massive amounts of them daily, I could quickly fall over the edge of happiness into an overeating or binge drinking situation. Everything in moderation, right?]

I think the other thing about cultivating happy moments each day is that sometimes in those moments, you can have big breakthroughs that will influence the things making you unhappy.

When I was in my twenties and in a challenging, slowly souring relationship, I spent one day at the beach with friends before a U2 concert and had the time of my life. At the end of the evening, I found myself thinking, "I want to feel like THIS every day!"

It was the push I needed to end my unhappy love affair.

While I wholly understand that we all go through periods where it's hard to see any shred of happiness in our lives, I think those are the times when it's most important to hunker down and look for them.

Like I said in last night's post, every day counts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happiness: Get There Today

For most of my life, I thought I would find happiness when I found love. I thought when I got married to the right man, everything would fall into place and all would be well in the world.

But after I returned from my honeymoon last year, I discovered that settling into happiness in one area of your life often just opens you up to another spot in need of tending. With the excitement of the wedding over, and no more trips abroad to look forward to, I found myself feeling restless, wanting to change up my career in some way.

It was almost like I had checked one thing off my to-do list and was just moving on to the next.

Happiness should never be a to-do list. 

I read an article in O Magazine recently wherein Deepak Chopra shared this story:

"As a doctor, I used to ask my patients, 'Why do you want to get well?' They'd say they wanted to be rid of illness. 'Why do you want to be rid of the illness?' Oh so I can go back to work. 'Why do you want to go to work?' So I can pay my bills. 'Why do you want to do that?' Then finally they'd say 'Shut up—all I want to do is be happy!' I say why not start with happiness? Why go about it in such a circuitous way?" - Deepak Chopra, 6/2012

We're always looking for that next thing that will lead us to happiness, aren't we? 

Instead of finding happiness in the current moment, we think, "Oh I'll feel good when X happens." Or, "I'll be able to enjoy life when I cross Y off my list."

Life is too short, my friends. Some of us will run out of time before we make it to that next item on our to-do lists.

As many of my favorite spiritual thought leaders have suggested, one of the simplest ways to focus on happiness is to look at your life with gratitude. Identify the things that deserve thanks. And a great way to shine the light on these things is to start a gratitude journal. Every day, you'll be reminded of happy moments, memories and feelings. The reasons you are blessed. The reasons you are fortunate during your time on this earth.

I started keeping a journal again—it's not the first time I've had one—in those weeks after my honeymoon. And it certainly helped.

After awhile, the identification of good things becomes second nature. The happiness comes without trying.

And that in itself is a source of great joy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Try, Try Again

I read an article sometime last year about how bestselling author of The Help, Kathryn Stockett, got turned down 60 times before having her book picked up by a publisher. In the article, she reflects on what would have happened if she had given up after 15 submissions or 40 or 50.

She didn't give up because she knew she had something fantastic to offer.

She believed.

I can't help but think of dating or job searching or a number of other noble endeavors when I consider Stockett's story.

If we give up on ourselves, how will we ever know how far we can go? 

I have friends who settled down because they found men who were "good enough" and they were tired of being unmarried. Sadly, several of them have parted ways with their spouses. And I have to wonder if they had kept searching just a little longer for that right fit, if maybe their Mr. Wonderfuls would have been the next guys in line for them. If they had held out and held onto the faith that they had fantastic things to offer, maybe their stories would have turned out a bit more like Kathryn Stockett's.

Belief is the starting point for making dreams reality. 

Beginning with a belief that you deserve something and then acting as though you know you're going to get it—or better yet that you ALREADY have it—whether it be a man or a job title or an apartment—that is the mindset that manifests desires. 

I know we all get tired. Dating is exhausting. Job- and house-hunting can for sure take a toll on you. But why not just try one more time. Or two or three. And see what happens.

The teeniest bit of passion—the eensiest amount of hope—could blossom into a reward more wonderful than you ever dreamed.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Harnessing the Power of the Five-Minute Brainstorm

I can distinctly remember lying under the stars as a teenager, wondering how I was ever going to break out of my small town bubble to travel the world and have adventures. Sigh...the hopelessness. Then there was that time in the autumn of 2004 when I lay on my couch feeling like I would never get out of the job I didn't love and into one I did. And the countless times I sprawled on my back, staring at the ceiling of my apartment, trying to regain the hope that I would ever fall in love.

There's something about hopelessness that just makes you need to lie down, isn't there? 

Feeling like you're stuck and you can't alter your circumstances is emotionally exhausting. But I've learned that if you pull yourself up off the couch or the floor, grab paper and a pen, and set the kitchen timer to five minutes, you can usually come up with a heaping list of ways that you could change your course and potentially open yourself wide up to new possibilities, new opportunities, new reasons to be hopeful.

Don't believe me? Try it.

When I was single and frustrated and feeling like I wasn't meeting any guys even close to what I thought would be my Mr. Wonderful, I sat down and brainstormed a list of things I could do to put myself out there.

It's sort of like answering the question, "If I REALLY wanted to go all out and open myself up to all possibilities, what would I do?" 

At the time, I think my list included things like "go to the coffee shop before work," "take trips to the museums around LA," "sign up for an outdoors class of some sort at REI," and the scariest one of all, "join an online dating site."

When I did the same exercise for changing my job situation, my brainstorm list included, "spend 15 minutes each day checking job boards," "send out 3 resumes a weeks," "reach out to contacts from past jobs," and "quit my job and try to freelance."

Both of those particular lists contained about 20 additional steps I could take to unstick myself. And the funny thing was that I ended up jumping to the scariest item on each list and it led me to the biggest and most positive changes.

But perhaps the more important thing each five-minute brainstorm did was restore my hope.

Knowing that you haven't exhausted all your options—that you have an arsenal of catalysts that could propel you toward the man or job or travel adventure of your dreams—can be amazingly hope-inducing. 

And hope breeds positivity. And positivity is the foundation of manifesting your desires.

Ready to set your alarm to a five-minute countdown? 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dealing with the Naysayers and Path Dictators

When I was 26, I decided I wanted to take a trip to Ireland. I'd never been to Europe before—had only traveled to the east coast of the U.S. twice—but I knew I wanted to see more of the world and decided that Southern Ireland would be the perfect place to start. (This was mostly based on an avid love of U2 music.) I talked a girlfriend into going with me and when I told my parents we were planning a trip, my dad looked at me and said, "You can't go to Ireland!"

I should have prefaced this story by saying that my family, although extremely well-meaning, isn't comprised of a bunch of adventurous world travelers. They love to vacation, but up until very recently they've stuck primarily to the western United States.

The thought of the youngest member going across the pond to a Foreign(!) Country(!) was just too much.

Had I said, "Okay dad—you're right it's dangerous," I'm sure I would have been rewarded with praise and affirmation. But I knew my path was meant to be different from theirs.

This was not the last time a member of my family tried to dissuade me from doing something I felt personally compelled to do.

The people around us have opinions about pretty much every move we make, don't they?

But no matter how well they know us, they don't know us like we know ourselves. They will never be able to interpret what feels authentically right to us the way we can. They cannot sense our intuition in their bellies.

It's hard to tune out their quacking sometimes. It's hard not to be obedient and follow the same paths our friends and family members have chosen. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that sometimes we have to hear again and again and again why we Really Should Be Doing THIS Instead.

What I've learned though, is that the risk of not obeying the Path Dictators and Naysayers is miniscule compared to the risk of not following our instincts. Doing what feels true and right to you—in your deepest knowing parts—will always yield a reward. And the people who really care about you will continue to be there after you set out on your divergent road. They may still squawk about it, but the ones who love you won't walk away.

And when they see how satisfied you end up from following your own heart instead of listening to their direction, the wags of their fingers will turn to pats on your back.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Other Side of 'Actions Speak Louder Than Words'

I was walking through the streets of Venice (California, not Italy) with a girlfriend recently, listening to the tangled complications of one of her relationships, when I found myself repeating one of my most favorite lesson lines to her: Actions speak louder than words. 

"But doesn't saying, 'I love you' count as an action?" she asked.


Well...sort of nope. Saying I love you is obviously a huge action for anyone to take, but it means nothing if it's not backed up by consistent, trustworthy, love-declaring behavior. Without that, it's just sound coming out the hole in someone's face.

After I left my friend, I started thinking less about the actions and words related to outward relationships and more about the ones we use in our relationships with ourselves.

Are you saying one thing and showing something else with your actions? 

For a time when I was single, I would talk about how I was totally open to dating! and ready! to meet the right guy!, but in reality, I wasn't putting myself out there to be open to ANY guys. I have friends who utter the phrase, "I know I deserve a great man," but then they settle for people who treat them subpar again and again. Whatever the scenario—professing to care about your career path but being too afraid to make a change to something you're truly passionate about or calling yourself a health nut then routinely depriving yourself of a good night's sleep or saying "I absolutely have my own best interest at heart" then putting everyone else's needs before your own—it can tell you a lot about how you're really treating yourself.

It's not just other people's actions that inform us of their true feelings for us. The actions we take to steer our own lives speak enormous truths about our own commitment to loving ourselves and finding real happiness. 

Want to change something in your life? Stop talking about it and take action!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Starting Point of All Good Things: LOVE

It was the summer of 2007 and I was camping with Mr. RedFlags in a beautifully lush state park in Oregon. He had retreated to our tent and I was lying on my back, on top of a picnic table, staring at the sky wondering what in the world I should do.

Leave or stay in the relationship.

RedFlags and I had been together over a year at that point; the majority of the relationship spent fighting, mistrusting, questioning, knowing it was the wrong fit for both of us but ignoring our own instincts. That night he had shared yet another story from his past that I just wasn't equipped to handle. His load was too much for me to bear.

So I rested on that splintery wood and prayed to God and the Universe for an answer on how to proceed.

What came to me under the canopy of June starlight was a single word: LOVE.

I thought, "Okay, that's the answer. I have to just love him. Help him. Save him. Try to accept all of these things that my heart keeps instinctively rejecting."

So I made the decision to stay. And it was ugly. And trying to love him didn't rescue either of us from the inevitable fall we had lined up to take. 

What I know now was that the word that came to me from some otherworldly instructor that night was right, but my interpretation of it was completely wrong.

It wasn't Mr. RedFlags who I was supposed to love, it was myself. 

I'm not here to say that we should abandon the people in our lives during times of struggle or split when we feel uncomfortable. I don't think that's it at all. I do think we should give our love freely, but if we're sacrificing the love we have for ourselves in the process, it's a recipe for disaster.

You can't be happy and love anyone else if you're not madly in love with yourself. 

Not a little bit in love, MADLY. You've got to know that you are the #1 most important person ever and that you deserve the best—or else all those little doubts and self-defeating thoughts will catch up with you and wreak havoc on your relationships and your own sense of well-being.

I believe that to get everything you want from this life, you have to start from a place of love. 

Want to attract a guy who adores you? Start by adoring yourself. Want to land a job where you're challenged (in a good way) and appreciated daily? Start by knowing what an asset you are. Want to find the perfect dress for that upcoming wedding you have to attend? Focus on how much you'll love wearing it and how excited you are that it fits perfectly.

I'm sure there will be times in my future when I look back up to a night sky and ask for guidance on how to move forward, and I may get an answer like I did back in 2007. Only this time, I'll know the meaning of it may be more than I first think.

Love on.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just Because You Make Your Manifesting Bed Doesn't Mean You Have to Lie in It

When my Mr. W and I were on our honeymoon last year in Italy, my suitcase was stolen on the third-to-last day of the trip. We were traveling by train from Salerno to Rome and as Mr. W chucked my bag onto the community luggage rack, a little voice inside me said, "You shouldn't leave it there."

I ignored it and walked the length of the train car to our assigned seats. Again, I felt uneasy but told myself I was just overreacting. I have a tendency to worry about my bags when I travel. In fact, I purposely packed only two carry-ons for our two-week trip because I didn't want to lose my luggage on the flight.

When we reached our train stop and the suitcase was gone, (after panic and tears) I began to wonder whether I had manifested the thievery with my own worrisome energy or if my intuition had been trying to direct me and I had ignored it.

What I realize now is that it could have been both.

You can manifest crummy things in your life but your intuition will almost always swoop in and try to rectify the situation. 

I experienced the same thing when I was dating Mr. Redflags.

Sure, I attracted him into my life as I did every other person I'd ever dated. But when my intuition said, "This isn't right: proceed with caution," I should have listened to it instead of just rolling over and crying in my manifesting bed.

Most of us won't put out positive juju 100% of the time, which means we have to rely on our instincts to assess what we attract and guide us on whether it's smart to move closer—or run for the hills.

Heed those little voices inside your head. Pay attention to those twinges in your belly. However you've managed to make your manifesting bed, those little alarms will wake you up and save you if the house ever catches on fire.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Are You Aligning Yourself With?

When I was a kid, I had the Top Gun game for Nintendo and the hardest task on the entire thing was when you had to hook your fighter jet up to the refueling plane.

You had to be going just the right speed and be at just the right altitude to get the fuel nozzle to align perfectly with your tank. Being a Nintendo addict at the time, I of course mastered how to do it—but it took total concentration every time.

I often think of that game when I'm daydreaming about the things I want out of life.

According to the manifesting world, in order to actually get the things I'm dreaming about, I have to align myself with them. I have to believe—and actually see—that I am worthy and capable of making the dreams reality. I have to act as though they're already in-process. This can be challenging when you have no idea how or when you're going to make something happen (like the dream of living on a vineyard).

Sometimes you just have to fake it 'til you make it. 

Whatever you're aligning your thoughts, energy, focus and self with, you'll attract toward you. It helps me to think of whatever I want as that refueling plane—I literally imagine it locking into place with me and filling me with what I need to keep on flying.

What are you aligning yourself with right now?

November 2007: My Last First Date Was So Worth the Wait

Lots of things tempted me to believe I had found my Mr. Wonderful on our first date. His dreamy brown eyes  and wavy brown hair epitomized the look I found most attractive. His dry wit and sharp intellect made him both entertaining and sexy. And his good Midwestern manners seemed more refined and alluring than those of guys I had dated in the past.

The thing that really almost sent me over the edge, however, was when our server was walking us to our table and asked, "First date?"

Mr. W said, without missing a beat, "No, we've been married five years."

Part of me wanted to stop right then and there and ask Dr.-Seuss-style, "Are YOU my husband?" but I knew I had to resist thinking this was THE guy until I knew him better (even though we'd been getting to know each other for five whole weeks already.)

There are really no downsides to going slow in relationships. 

Accurately assessing a situation before jumping into it with both feet can save so much heartache in the long run, and after all the heartache I'd had that year, I was definitely down with taking the cautious route.

Mr. W and I had a great first date. I even adhered to my no-kiss rule and left him wanting more. We went out the following week and then twice the week after that, learning new things about each other during every encounter.

When I was with Mr. Redflags, he dropped the L-bomb on me after about six weeks. This was scary but fit perfectly with the dramatic nature of the relationship. I told Mr. W I loved him after six months and he didn't say it back for several weeks after that.

I tease him about it now, but also appreciate how seriously he took those words. For him, love was not something to be handled lightly.

The restrained pace of our relationship is one of the things I believe made it so strong. 

Not to say I wasn't totally antsy for Mr. W to want to spend his life with me after I realized he was the man of my dreams. I may have dropped a few hints (and some tears) between the time I knew we were headed in a forever direction and the time he actually proposed.

But it all worked out and on March 19, 2011—three and a half years after our first date—we were married.

And it was the best day.

July – September 2007: Climbing out of the Pits

After breaking up with the cheating Mr. Redflags, I made a vow to never again rush in, settle, ignore my intuition, or let myself feel diminished in a relationship. Even though I could recognize our affair for the mess it was, I still struggled in the months after we parted. I felt raw and betrayed and knew that I needed to take back control over my happiness.

So I made plans to climb a mountain with friends.

Something incredibly transformative took place inside me as I trained for our 17-mile hike up Half Dome in Yosemite. It was as though the strength developing in my body spread right to my recuperating heart and sense of self. Everything began feeling surer and more agile.

A couple weeks before our trip up the mountain, I signed up again for online dating and agreed to be set up with someone who worked at my company. Even though Mr. Redflags had hurt me tremendously, I didn't feel scared to get back into the swing of dating. I took full responsibility for how things had turned out with him and I knew my intuition would help me prevent that from ever happening again.

Accepting responsibility for your part in a situation is really empowering. It means you have a choice about whether you'll allow something like it to take place again. It means you're not a victim. 

The best part of this time was that I finally felt like I knew 100% what I deserved and had this amazing sense of certainty that I was going to get it.

It was like my worst relationship experience had given me the awareness I needed to find my best one. I was feeling choosier than ever—but thanks to my Wonderful List, collage, decoded dating patterns and defined deal-breakers, I was totally clear on whom I was seeking. I felt confident I would be able to distinguish right-fit from wrong-fit in terms of the men I met.

About a week before I climbed Half Dome, the man who would become my husband contacted me online. It took me 15 days to write him back. I was going slow with the guy I'd met at work, had been chatting with another nice guy online and wasn't sure I wanted to complicate things with a third prospect. But after I wrote him back and he replied, I was pretty instantly intrigued.

My gut had a good feeling, but I kept my pace cautionary.

Mr. Wonderful-to-be wrote me an email just about every day. We talked about Half Dome and a big hike he'd done in Canada a few years prior. We traded stories about family and  music and our favorite HGTV shows. He told me he had a trip to Italy planned with a friend and would like to take me out when he returned.

I think we talked on the phone only once before he left for his two-week vacation. I was so excited when he came home because it meant we finally would get to meet face-to-face. It had been five whole weeks since I first responded to his email.

On November 11, 2007, he took me out for fondue. I hope it was the last first date I'll ever have.

And Now, a Note about the Difference Between Wanting to Find Real-Deal Love and Just Wanting to Be Married

There was a period in my life when I'm pretty sure I wanted a husband-slot filler more than I wanted someone who was actually the right fit for me. Conditioning and expectations from society, family and friends had convinced me that I HAD to get married before a certain age or I was a complete failure of a human being. And I don't think I was the only one feeling that way.

Many of us grow up putting more emphasis on finding a willing mate than discovering a wonderful match. 

But we all know what can happen when one rushes into marriage, thank you very much Kim Kardashian.

The thing that saved me was when my therapist had me do an exercise aimed at making peace with the idea of never getting married. He instructed me to write about what my life would be like if I stayed single forever.

From a manifesting perspective, my fear that I would never get married blasted out to the Universe and only worked to perpetuate my singleness. The Universe doesn't hear "I want" or "I don't want," it just picks up on what your focus is and runs with it. So "alone," "never married," and "single forever" were the vibe I was continually projecting, even though it wasn't all what I wanted.

When I sat down to write about an eternity of singlehood, I cried my eyes out the entire time. And it's funny because the thing that made me the most mournful was not the thought of being deprived of a partner but the thought of never dancing with my father at my wedding. Hello, poorly skewed emphasis.

But after I completed the exercise, it was like an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Suddenly I could see with extreme clarity how much importance I'd been putting on walking down the aisle rather than finding a sustaining, reciprocal love.

I was looking to fill a hole. Not find real happiness.

Playing out the worst-case scenario can be a really powerful way to shut down fear. 

What I learned from doing my own worst-case was that I would still be me; I would still go on to have a fulfilling life and travel and spend time with people I loved; I would still have a family around me; I would not wither and die alone. I would be ABSOLUTELY FINE.

How liberating is it to know that WE are all we really need?

Shedding my slot-filling mentality was just another step that moved me closer to finding my Mr. Wonderful.

Are you letting fears hold you back from peace and forward movement?