9 Things I Learned in the 9 Months Since I Stopped Being a Shell of Myself

“For sticking it out is not a strength, when your life revolves around tip toeing around other people’s weakness,” — Ash Ambirge

If it’s not the Gary Vee’s of the world telling us to hustle 20 hours a day, it’s our bosses making us feel guilty for having a life when there’s still work to be done.

Every day we open our eyes to a mounting to-do list. The dishes are still in the sink because they’re at the end of a list that some how keeps getting bigger, despite spending 12 hours a day chipping away at it.

We are tired.

We are hopeless.

We wonder if we were really meant to just pay bills and die.

In 2016 I arrived at my personal disillusionment, when I realized I hated the job I worked so hard to get.

There I was, experiencing heart palpitations and chest pain at 28 years old and wondering if I was just destined for disappointment. If I was one of those women that was just never going to be satisfied.

But then I got to thinking. What would I rather be doing if it wasn’t busting my ass for the company I worked for? What if I was gifted a stack of cash and could quit my job?

There was freedom in the thought. Followed by quick and infuriating unknowing. I had no idea what I even liked doing. I didn’t have hobbies. I had no idea what I would do with myself if I was able to quit my life.

Herein lies the problem at hand. We have been so busy pursuing what we should be doing, that we never took the time to ask ourselves what we would like to do with our lives.

Our ONE PRECIOUS LIFE.

We are handed a stack of life-milestones — college, career, marriage, babies, retirement (hahahaha), death — and told to enjoy the ride. And in living out these milestones, we turn into shells of who we could be.

In 2016, I realized that I wasn’t willing to trade my days for money if that meant I was going to slowly lose my mind. I wasn’t willing to do work that made me want to smash my face on things.

So I did something out of the ordinary.

I politely flipped the bird to all the things I “should” be doing and stepped off the rat wheel.

I stopped hustling. I stopped grinding. I silenced that big, loud, high-pitched world, and got really quiet with myself.

I tuned in. I slowed down.

I stopped hustling for my side gig. I started questioning my career.

You might scoff and think that’s mighty indulgent of me, but I’d say it’s the most important thing I ever did.

In April 2017, I made the quiet decision to stay off social media, to start meditating and start getting really clear on what I wanted out of my life.

Looking back now it was the most important thing I could have done. Here’s the 9 things I’ve learned since deciding to tune the world out and tune into myself.

1. Silence is the answer in a noisy world

There is no better way to get to know your true self, to be able to hear your intuition, than to silence the rest of the world. When I am confused, when I am overwhelmed, when I can’t make up my mind, when I am anxious or stressed, I turn off my phone, I hide my laptop, and I do quiet things.

  • I meditate

  • I take a walk

  • I ask strangers questions

  • I ask myself questions (who happened to be a stranger all along)

  • I play cards

  • I get bored

  • I kiss my husband

  • I play with the dog

  • I listen to music, not podcasts

  • I read fiction

  • I do things with the sole intention to enjoy, instead of document

Too many choices, too many options, too much noise is the surest way to confuse yourself. Silence is usually the best cure.

2. Anything can be learned, even listening to your intuition

For a long time I thought I just wasn’t good at listening to myself. I thought I wasn’t one of those people with good intuitions. I didn’t have the tools to listen to my gut.

Surely me, the woman who woke up realizing she hated her career, and didn’t know a damn thing about herself, didn’t have “intuition.”

But, if I could teach myself something that I loath (like data management), then surely I could teach myself something important, like listening to my intuition.

So I did. I found the things that get me closer to my subconscious are also the things that get me closer to my intuition. So I meditated more, I started journaling, I started talking to my subconscious like I was talking to the Universe (or God, if you prefer).

By way of shutting up and listening to myself, I learned to listen to my gut instincts and intuition*.

*This is probably one of the most important things you can learn how to do.

3. Most things aren’t important

When you slow down, when you stop buying into the trap of “more is better, and hustling is the way to success” you start to realize that most things are not important. If you don’t attend that social event you’ve been dreading the world will not end. Those people you really don’t like are not going to slander your name. They probably won’t even notice your absence.

Most things are made to keep you busy, to keep you consuming. But when you stop it all, you realize that most things do not make your life better, and it’s usually the least celebrated things that do.

Things like softly falling snow, and the swirl of steam off a fresh cup of coffee. Things like your husband building up a fire in the stove, the smell of lavender escaping the cast-iron kettle. Things like laughter, and the quiet comfort of home.

4. The world will not end if you’re not tending to it

We feel so much obligation to things. Like if we’re not babysitting our employees, our families, our friends, our spouses, our home, our work, they will all implode as soon as we stop paying attention.

But here’s the thing: people will figure it out.

People can fend for themselves and most the time they’d rather have the authority to do so. It can be a little heartbreaking to realize you’re not needed every step of the way. But as it turns out, there’s a whole world of freedom when you let go.

5. You start to pay attention to the little ways people love you

I once read that the cruelest thing you can do to someone is delete their birthday off Facebook, so when their birthday comes around and they’re waiting for all the “happy birthday” posts to start rolling in, they won’t get any.

We get so caught up in social media likes. But when you decide to tune that stuff out, you direct your attention to real life, where people that love you do sweet gestures for you every day. Maybe he didn’t like your Instagram post, or leave a sweet comment, but did he make you dinner and do the dishes? Did he whisper ‘I love you so much’ when he thought you were asleep?

Maybe we’ve been measuring other people’s love by the wrong metrics all along.

6. You start to realize your self-worth

For a long time I was busy trying to start businesses that I thought would make me happy. I was always pushing, I was always starting over. I was always plugged into social media, watching what other people do, trying to do what they were doing.

Social media has been shown to increase feelings of anxiety and depression. For me, it made me feel like I was never doing enough to get my dream life. I was always missing the boat on starting my thing, I was always two steps behind everyone else.

Then I tuned out so I could get really clear on what I wanted from my life based on my intuition (not my emotional reactions to other people on social media). In doing so I realized my life, my story, as it is, right now, is exactly as it should be.

I don’t have to keep up with anyone anymore. I decided to start playing my own game, instead of showing up late to everyone else’s. That has made all the difference.

7. You find the experiences that bring you joy, things no one can take away from you

When we slow down in life, un-commit to unnecessary things, tune out everyone on social media, and tune into ourselves, we start to learn all the things that bring us joy.

Like reading in the sunshine, like writing it all out, like your coffee routine, and painting. There is a whole world of experiences out there that don’t revolve around our to-do lists, our social calendars or social media.

We often try so hard to keep up with other people that we forget the simple tenant: life is fleeting. It’s especially fleeting when we’re chasing after things that aren’t authentic to ourselves.

But when we slow down and enjoy life and tune into the small moments, life itself slows down, and hours uncurl and stretch out, just waiting to be enjoyed.

8. We get to face ourselves, and stop tripping on our baggage

Often times we keep ourselves busy and distracted as a way of running from hard emotions. But when we slow down, we’re forced to face ourselves head on.

Some of you might recoil at that statement, why in the world would I want to face everything I’ve been stuffing down?

Because your life moves forward when you deal with things. We get to level up. We get the quiet solace of unpacking hard emotions and events and putting them away, instead of tripping over the same baggage forever.

There will always be baggage. But we must clear out the old to make way for the new. That is the only way to truly make progress in your personal growth: to keep working through the baggage instead of shoving it into the corner.

9. Slowing down allows us to get to know ourselves

Without the constant rattle and incessant chatter of the outside world, we’re allowed the grace of getting to know ourselves.

How long has it been since you got to know the person staring back at you in the mirror? I turned away from myself in 8th grade, and it has only been within the last few years that I started to get curious about myself again.

Around the same time I realized I wasn’t happy with the life I had put together for myself, I got curious about the woman I am.

Realizing I had put together a life that was utterly inauthentic to myself made me crave the authenticity of who I was, behind it all.

I am so happy I got curious.

Conclusion

Life really does begin when we slow down long enough to tune into it. For years I was running in circles, chasing life milestones for no reason other than it was the next thing to do.

Someone once said the best day to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best day to plant a tree is today.

What can you do today to slow down, tune out the world and tune deeply into yourself? Take action 👇

Take Action!

Make massive change in your life by figuring out how you want it to FEEL every day. I created a 10 minute audio exercise to plug you into your authentic self, so you can start living the life you want today 👇

Click here to get the Feel > Do > Be exercise now!

9 Hard Truths You Must Learn to Start Loving Your Life

In the matter of two short years I have gone from a woman suffering the symptoms of being out of touch with her truth and identity, to owning my story and living an authentic life. I’m steadily designing my life and my future, living life on my terms and learning how to make a living doing it.

It is freedom, it is joyous.

Its still hard, I will never stop growing, but my life feels right for the first time in a long time.

These are 9 truths I had to learn before I was able to start living a life I love.

1. You are Ready to Be and Have Whatever You Want, Right Now

I had to let go of the idea that I needed to be thinner, smarter, better, and more perfect before I decided to start living the way I wanted to. I decided to be happy, and be the woman I wanted to be before anyone gave me permission or invited me to do so.

I just started where I was, with what I had: thick thighs, empty bank account and imperfect life. When we own our story we are freed by it.

2. Truth, Identity and Authenticity is a Path, Not a Destination

When I realized I didn’t know who I was, what I stood for, or what I wanted to be in this life (after more than one identity crisis), I was horrified that I didn’t know my truth, and didn’t know how to live authentically.

I only recently realized that truth, identity and authenticity is a process, it is not a final destination. I would look at businesses and people who had made up their minds, who were standing for something and being bold and authentic, and I would compare them to myself, a woman who stood for very little, and didn’t know what was authentic to me.

When I understood truth #1, I gave myself permission to start living without having it all figured out. It was only recently that I realized my truth, my identity and authenticity is a process, not something I was ever going to arrive to.

I just have to keep doing, to keep speaking and living in ways that feel right to me at the time, and that is how I live truthfully and authentically. My identity is found in the doing, it is not a fixed point.

I am always changing, and thus my truth and identity will always change. I may become a hypocrite. I may change my mind. But it’s fine, because that is the process.

Identity therefore is an action, we are what we do, not what we think we’ll do.

3. When We Live Based on What We ‘Should’ Be Doing, We Will Always Be Chasing

There is a place many people arrive to where every day is spent doing what must be done, what should be done. We are simply living our to-do lists and then collapsing on the couch, exhausted.

When I decided to slow down, and do things for me, instead of doing things because I should be doing them, I started living my life on my terms. I removed myself from the rat race, and put myself in my own lane.

It was only after I started living for myself did I realize that this is the #1 key to living an authentically and to becoming exceptional in life and in business.

When I stopped living for everything I “should” be doing, I stopped paying attention to what others were doing and realized that most of our “shoulds” are wrapped up in competing and keeping up with other people. They are not authentic to ourselves.

Living from a place of “shoulds” keeps us chasing after other people, reacting to what the competition is doing and keeps us living outside of truth.

4. My Identity Isn’t Fixed

Many people believe that who they are right now is who they must be. This is simply not true, you are not required to be who you were yesterday or even 5 minutes ago.

When I finally gave up alcohol, my behavior proved to me that just because I once considered myself a “drinker” did not mean I had to be for the rest of my life.

What we repeatedly do is who we are. Therefore, our behavior and our actions dictate our identity, not the other way around.

So start behaving as the person you want to become behaves, and your identity will follow.

5. We Must Practice Self-Reliance

Being self-reliant is the only way to start living an authentic and truthful life, but we must practice self-reliance every day. It is a muscle that needs training.

When I decided to travel to Costa Rica for 3 months alone, without my husband, I was practicing self-reliance. It taught me that I can do hard things alone, that I can survive without my loved ones (though difficult and less enjoyable), and that I can make decisions for myself.

We must practice self-reliance in the comfort of our daily lives because there will be a time when we will have to rely on ourselves in difficult times. If we don’t practice self-reliance daily, we will flounder in the tough situations.

6. I am NOT My Emotions

Gaining a meditation practice forced me to become the observer to my own ego and my emotional reactions. This gave me incredible insights into who I am and how I was living from a place of lack.

It made me realize that I am not my emotional reactions to life and people. I am the observer of my emotional reactions. This is one of the most powerful distinctions we can make. It allows us to own our emotional reactions and understand ourselves on a completely different level.

It forced me to take responsibility for myself, to own my truth and learn to speak it.

7. Speaking My Truth is What Sets Me Apart

I was once scared of my story and the ugly parts of my truth. I was living my life passive-aggressively. I would react to the world and then stuff down my emotions and carry on.

When I learned to finally own my truth, and recognize my emotional reactions as a sign to people and situations not lining up to my truth, I gave myself freedom. I gave myself the gift of choosing how I wanted my life to feel every day.

There is power in saying ‘no, this doesn’t line up with my truth’ and then walking away from the people and situations that no longer serve your truth. We need more people willing to speak up for their truth, and willing to own their story.

Speaking our truth is the only thing that has changed the world. Vulnerably sharing our truth with the world gives other the power to speak their truth.

This is your invitation to start speaking yours.

8. Owning Your Story is the Surest Way to Control the Ending

I had to learn to own where I had been, and the person I am in order to start living a more fulfilling and happy life. When I stepped into my story, this forced my hand, and effectively eliminated people and situations that weren’t moving me forward.

I had to realize that I will not make everyone happy, and that not every situation (even the ones I wanted), was meant for me in order to find the people and life that are.

We write a better ending for our story when we decide to start being the heroine or hero of our own.

9. Deciding How I Want My Life to Feel Everyday is How I Got the Life I Wanted

No amount of goal setting, or vision boarding was getting me a life I wanted. My life still felt unfulfilling after I had achieved the goals and got the job, or the promotion, or whatever.

I was running in goal setting circles.

It was only when I got clear on how I wanted my life to feel every day, that I was able to actually get a life that meant something to me. After I figured out I wanted my life to feel, I was able to construct a career that was actually fulfilling because it’s authentic to me.

Conclusion

Life is a moving target. It is a process of trial and error, growth and setbacks.

It is not a destination.

You will grow, you will change, you will make declarations that were once your truth and that now make you shudder.

You will be a hypocrite. You will be wrong.

But if you are making decisions from a place of your truth, as stands right now, you will walk the path you are meant to walk.

And that is the point.

Take Action!

Make massive change in your life by figuring out how you want it to FEEL every day. I created a 10 minute audio exercise to plug you into your authentic self, so you can start living the life you want today 👇

Click here to get the Feel > Do > Be exercise now!

3 Difficult Growth Spurts You Must Move Through in Order to Succeed

“You don’t need to change the world; you need to change yourself” — Miquel Ruiz

In this article you’ll learn:

  • Why pulling what you’ve planted is keeping you stuck

  • That challenges are invitations to your next level of growth (and a step-by-step guide on how to recognize the lesson)

  • How to recognize your shadow-self, and what it means for your growth

Personal growth isn’t for the faint of heart.

That’s why most people stay stuck in the same place.

It’s why they plateau and sink into average.

But you get what you ask for and if you’re screaming for an upgrade in your life, and doing the hard work to make it happen, your personal growth will be delivered.

It’s not going to be handed over in a pretty box with a ribbon.

There will be tears, there will be struggle, and there will be plenty of opportunity to confront the things you’ve been avoiding.

Each new stage in your personal growth requires a different version of you.

Which means, you will be required to move through difficult emotions, past traumas, and blockages that have been holding you back.

That simple fact alone is why most people stay stuck. We avoid things that are hard, we often take the path of least resistance.

But if you choose to take the road blocked with boulders, river crossings and tangled branches determined to hold you back, you will be delivered to the things you desire.

This article is both for you and me.

This journey has not been easy for me. Every day is a challenge, mostly of the mind.

I fail daily.

I do not have a steady income, I have been forced to come face to face with my character flaws, and I have been forced to do the thing that has always proved the most difficult for me:

To keep going.

The growth spurts below are ones that I have encountered personally and have either worked through or am in the middle of working through.

I share them with you so that you can realize these things happen to all of us, that they are a sign that you’re moving forward (even when it feels like you’re falling behind).

My goal is to lend a supportive shoulder, to say me too. I hope you find comfort in knowing you are not alone on your journey.

1. Don’t pull what you’ve planted

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones” — Confucius

Losing energy for my projects is arguably my most significant character flaw. I am the impatient, the unsatisfied, the shallow learner. I get bored easy and shift my focus right before the deep understanding sets in.

But to succeed, and really become a master, you must stick with something.

The biggest download from my intuition I’ve received recently is to just let it be. To let the seeds I’ve sown — my presence on Medium, my focus for helping people with their personal growth — germinate.

It is so easy for me to panic only days after I’ve started a new project and set it out into the world. Then I go through my garden and pull everything up because the fear of not being good enough and failing, is so strong.

It’s counterproductive and exhausting.

When you’re in a personal growth spurt, or starting something new, it’s easy to second guess yourself and want to start all over with a new idea.

But sometimes the best thing we can do is to iterate on an idea that’s already been planted.

So many people lose steam after they’ve done the difficult work of planting their seeds, that they start pulling what they’ve sown and go about planting something new.

Why does it always feel easier to start than it does to keep going?

My biggest lesson has been: water what you’ve planted, tend to the garden you worked so hard to sow, weed out the bad, care for the ideas.

2. Remember that challenges are lessons in disguise

“It may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou

I dive deep into this topic in this article, but I always seem to forget that challenges — emotional, physical, mental, financial — are all necessary steps to accomplishing your goals.

When you set out to accomplish a goal, a few things are set into motion:

  • The Universe conspires to make your goal happen, which means

  • You’ll need to become a different version of yourself, and

  • You’ll be forced to face challenges in order to grow into this next version of yourself

We can’t expect to become the person with the accomplishments we seek as the same person we are now. If that were the case, we’d already have the thing we want.

But since that isn’t how it works, the world is going to throw situations at you that force your personal growth so you can accomplish your goals.

If you don’t grow through these challenges, you’ll stay stuck in place until you’re ready to move to the next level of growth.

On paper, it’s so very simple and it makes complete sense. But in the real world, when we encounter these struggles and hardships, they easily knock us off course and break our self-confidence.

In order to combat this, I wanted to share with you my system of looking at struggles and hardships:

1. What is the central theme of the issue? Is it financial, relational, trust, self-esteem?

2. Where else has this issue come up for me in the past?

3. What are my feelings/emotions around this issue and what can I learn about myself?

So, for instance, my biggest hold up recently has been financial. I’m struggling trying to figure out the best way to make money as a writer and personal coach. As with anything, it takes trial and error and fine-tuning.

It’s not easy, especially when you have bills and financial obligations.

But I’ve felt a consistent block around making and earning money through my writing, and asking people for money in this new venture. It feels vulnerable and daunting — what if I’m not good enough?

Through my constant financial instability and troubles, I’ve realized very important things about myself:

  • Historically my relationship with money has always been volatile, growing up as an entrepreneur’s daughter meant that money didn’t always come easy and it was always on the forefront of my families mind. Money was a trouble maker.

  • I don’t trust money and I don’t trust when people give it to me, as I always feel like it’ll be used against me, therefore I hate asking for it and feel better making my own.

  • I have a hard time measuring my value without money, or a job to backup my worth. It’s difficult for me to see the value of my work here without getting paid for it, or doing it as a job. But I’m learning.

All of these realizations have come out of my continued struggles with money these last few months, and by recognizing and understanding them I can move through them to the other side.

I’m working through my blockages so that I can move up to the next level of my personal growth.

3. Recognize (and accept) your shadow-self

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

We are all like icebergs. Only a small portion of our true-selves are revealed in the light, and the rest of us is hidden far beneath the surface.

I’ve talked about this a lot, the parts of myself I pushed away when I was young in order to fit in and to make my way through life. That side of myself turned out to be a huge iceberg.

As I’m getting older and pushing farther into my truth, more and more of my shadow-self is being revealed. My truth is becoming more obvious and my inner guide is becoming louder.

I picture this as that moment the iceberg begins to flip to reveal it’s hidden underbelly.

As we make our way through life, and on our personal growth journey, we will continually bump into things that force us to choose: reveal your shadow-self and your truth, or keep it hidden.

It’s in these moments that parts of your identity are either maintained or pushed aside for something new.

Ultimately, you get to choose who you’re going to be and what parts of yourself will flourish and which will stay beneath the surface. The point here is to recognize what parts of yourself want to come forward.

This is a recognition of your shadow, and that your identity isn’t fixed. You’re allowed to change your mind and allow parts of your identity, which were once hidden, to come forward and be seen.

Conclusion

We will encounter numerous personal growth spurts throughout our lives.

Some will be small, others will be massive.

Regardless, they will be difficult and they will either force you to change and grow, or you will decide it’s not the right time and you will stay the same.

If you’re being called to grow through any of the challenges above, sit with it, and realize that these are invitations into your next level or personal growth.

If you’re ready to forge ahead, you will do the difficult work. If not, you’ll remain the same, but know these things will continue to come up until you grow through them.

Take Action!

Make massive change in your life by figuring out how you want it to FEEL every day. I created a 10 minute audio exercise to plug you into your authentic self, so you can start living the life you want today 👇

Click here to get the Feel > Do > Be exercise now!

The Things You Pay Attention to Dictate Your Happiness

“You will act like the sort of person you conceive yourself to be” — Dr. Maxwell Maltz

In this article you’ll learn:

  • That thoughts or ideas you fixate on becomes habit

  • What you fixate on becomes your reality (even the negative stuff)

  • How to use worry to get the life you want and overcome negative self-image

I look outside my window. The neighbors trailer is an under-hand-rock-toss away. Not that I’ve tested this theory, I’m not the kind to throw rocks at people’s houses unwarranted.

It’s just a little trailer park, the people here are a hodge-podge of college kids, gray-birds that come up to the mountains for the cool summers, and the working class, like the hubby and I.

I pull into our gravel driveway, see our little red trailer in all her age and glory, with the hummingbird feeders blowing in the breeze and the lucky horseshoe, and I smile a little.

Someone else might pull up and think white-trash.

But I see our little home, with the fur-kids peeking out the window. There are flowers, a green lawn and a trail behind the house that goes into National Forest.

If I was still the person I used to be, I might see our home and feel shame. But I am not who I used to be. Though this is not where I envision myself ending up (oooh no, not even close), I recognize it for what it is: a stepping stone to my growth.

You see, I don’t pay attention to comparison and my lack like I used to. I don’t haunt myself with thoughts of failure: let me count the ways I don’t measure up.

I’ve realized over the years that what you give your attention to flourishes, and what you deny, wilts. This works for your betterment if you’re focused on positive things, or for your failure, if you’re an awfulizer or worrier.

Your Mind is Like a Ball-Fixated Blue Heeler

“Every human being is hypnotized to some extent either by ideas he has uncritically accepted from others or ideas he has repeated to himself or convinced himself are true.” — Dr. Maxwell Maltz

I am a recovering worrier.

It is no exaggeration to say I spent the better part of my life obsessing over the negative things I had done, could do, or ways that I didn’t fit the bill. Instead of embracing the things that made me a unique human being, I tried to strip myself of them and blend in as much as possible.

I could occasionally reach a place of uncaring, a place of lightness where I would hit my social stride and not feel like every thought and thing that came out of my mouth was measured.

But it usually only happened after I squelched my emotions with alcohol, or if I was around people I didn’t feel inferior to.

In general, my mind would become fixated. I would fixate on all the ways I was screwing up, or doing something wrong, or acting like an idiot, or making poor choices. . .the list goes on.

In the wake of this fixation on my inferiority, there were half-baked friendships, awkward introductions, strained small-talk, and anxiety that vibrated off my like electricity.

Even if on the outside I was acting like a normal human being, on the inside I was a hotbox of worry.

To some degree, we all fixate on things. This hyper-focus can be used for good — like when we push through on a dream with bullheaded grit, or for evil — like when we obsess over what we said at a party three years ago with the anxiety of a high-school girl.

Without realizing it, a casual thought of comparison, can turn into fixation, and then suddenly that fixation on our inferiority becomes a habit.

Suddenly our attention goes to all the ways we are lacking, or screwing up, or the ways we’re not good enough — without even trying.

These thoughts suddenly become the hypnotizer Dr. Maltz refers to above. We give our faults, regrets and lack our unbridled attention and suddenly we believe these fixations as if they are fact.

We come to believe that we are the thing we fear most — failures.

Be Careful What You Fixate On

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve” — Napoleon Hill

Worry, stress, anxiety and failure is a result of paying attention to the wrong things.

Success, relaxation, flow and creativity is a result of paying attention to the right things.

Attention is the matchstick. It can either light your candle, or burn your house down.

As Napoleon Hill famously said: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.” So if you believe all the negative things you give your attention to — the ways you don’t measure up, past failures or embarrassments, your lack — you will achieve all of those things.

I’ve seen this play out a hundred times before, in my own life and in others.

I used to believe I had something wrong with me, that I had a spastic colon, like my dad (oh hey, vulnerability). It got so bad that I wouldn’t leave the house for fear my body would betray me in social situations.

Dating was a nightmare, and for the first six months that I dated my now-husband, I would sneak out of his bed at midnight, the stress of that kind of intimacy was too much for me to bare.

I believed that I would get sick, that my body was not to be trusted. I would fixate on the outcome I feared most: getting sick and embarrassing myself in front of all those nice people.

My overactive imagination would play out a hundred scenarios detailing the embarrassment and shame I would feel — and that was all before I even started doing my makeup to go out.

And you know what would happen? I would get sick as soon as I arrived to my destination. As if on cue, my fears were realized almost without fail every time.

After years of this, and getting sick of getting sick, I started to realize the power of my mind over my body and my life.

I started trying out visualization to calm my nerves — it was all warm stretches of deep blue water, waves breaking on some lonely beach. And occasionally, when I could calm my nerves, the visualization worked.

Naturally my anxiety started to go down over the years, and soon enough I believed I could live and socialize in this world without getting sick (and it turns out there’s nothing wrong with me).

It was only after reading Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz that I understood the full power of the human mind — and finally realized what I had been doing to myself all those years.

In his book, he details how self-perception and our beliefs dictate our reality. Which sounds pretty standard if you’re in the personal growth crowd. But Dr. Maltz takes this a step further by dissecting how our fixation on past failures, worry and fear gives our “automatic mechanism” a goal to aim for — but it can’t determine whether that goal is positive or negative.

The automatic mechanism is that all-encompassing Universal creation, our subconscious, our flow state. It’s that thing that causes synchronicity, inspiration and coincidence. It’s basically the elves in the background that somehow line everything up without us noticing.

Or, as Dr. Maltz states: “A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment…For imagination sets the goal ‘picture’ which our automatic mechanism works on.”

But that automatic mechanism can’t decipher what it is your conscious is aiming for — it can’t know that even though I was fixated on getting sick on a date, that I actually DIDN’T WANT TO GET SICK. I was just feeding my subconscious — or automatic mechanism — a goal to aim for, and that mechanism is always working, regardless of the goal.

But if it’s always working, and we know that what we fixate on iis like a goal our automatic mechanism is aiming for, then can’t we aim it at good things?

How to use worry for good

“Our self image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become” — Dr. Maxwell Maltz

Worry and fear are strong emotions. These things make our bodies do things, like release adrenaline and cortisol, and make us act in ways we maybe wouldn’t have otherwise.

But if you can take that same emotional fixation, and the visualization that comes with imagining all the ways your life can go wrong, then we can take this same energy and these same actions to imagine all the ways our life can go right.

After reading Psycho-Cybernetics, the realization of how I fixate on worry and fear walloped me between the brows.

I thought I had my shit together because I wasn’t stressed out, I can meditate for more than 5 minutes and I haven’t refilled my xanax prescription in over a year. I was so wrong.

Despite having my anxiety under control, removing stressful situations from my life and establishing healthy habits, I was still lugging my worry, fear and negative self-perception around like a boulder on my back.

I just didn’t realize it because all that fixation from years ago had become my habitual mindset. My default was I’m not good enough, I’ll never succeed, I can’t do this, life will always be hard for me.

There’s a lot of layers to this personal growth onion, am I right?!

So, I began putting the recommendations in Dr. Maltz’ book to work, and tried to focus the same amount of emotion that I drudge up for my bouts of worry into remembering all the times I’ve succeeded.

This is now my meditation routine: to focus on the good feelings of those successes and then to visualize my goals with these good feelings from my past — as prescribed by Dr. Maltz.

Now I’m taking it a step further, and adding nature into the mix. Why? Because nature provides a perfect backdrop to calm stress and anxiety naturally, and to focus your attention to simple beauty, which creates an amazing mental state for visualization.

Which is why I’m launching Truth in the Wild™, a program that uses nature as the backdrop for personal growth. I’ll be leading group coaching hikes in which we’ll learn how to focus our attention, a la meditation, but without the annoying “sit still and don’t think” idea. Go follow Truth in the Wild™ on Instagram to keep up to date with upcoming hikes!

Conclusion

The idea here is to use this same fixation on worry and negativity and use that energy to fixate on your goals, your successes, and to change your self-perception from someone who is a failure to someone who has failed, but is not defined by it.

Our minds are more powerful than we know.

If we can harness that power for good, for our success, for our personal growth and self-actualization, than we would be capable of living lives beyond our wildest dreams.

We are capable to turning our fixation on worry into fixation on success. It takes the same amount of effort.

Take Action!

Make massive change in your life by figuring out how you want it to FEEL every day. I created a 10 minute audio exercise to plug you into your authentic self, so you can start living the life you want today 👇

Click here to get the Feel > Do > Be exercise now!

Article originally published on Medium

The Law of Attraction is Completely Failing You: 5 Steps to Actually Manifest What You Want

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” — George Lucas

In this article you’ll learn:

  • If you’re only using a vision board to manifest your goals, you’re losing

  • The remaining 4 steps in the process of manifesting your goals (that starts with the vision board and ends with aligning your environment to match your goals)

  • Envisioning your life is only one side of the coin, the other is laser sharp focus on one piece of the dream at a time

Close your eyes and envision the life you want to lead.

Decorate it with things and people that bring you joy.

Punctuate it with trips abroad and awe-inspiring moments.

Feel the emotions you want to experience every day — contentedness, relaxation, contemplation, soul-stirring happiness, simplicity and unhurried delight.

Maybe morning surf sessions in decadently warm waters, or quiet mornings listening to tittering bird song in a mountain cabin while you sip coffee.

This is something I do frequently when hitting the meditation pillow. I invoke the feelings I want to feel from my memories of experiences that have made me feel those ways. Then I let my creative imagination run wild, painting a vivid future life.

It’s a fun exercise, but as I’ve learned, it’s not always as useful as I’d hoped.

I do believe it allows us to lose our inhibition, and dream in much larger ways than we do otherwise, but when it comes to manifesting our dream life, it seems this scatter-shot method isn’t useful.

This kind of creative meditation is really just a point on the map leading to manifestation, there is much more work that needs to be done to actually achieve your dream life. Unfortunately, you can’t just daydream yourself to $150k per year and a cabin in the woods (bummer, I know).

In this article I’m going to break down the road-map of manifestation, and how to take charge of our lives instead of letting dreams stay just that — dreams.

We are bombarded with practical ways to achieve the lives we want — vision boards, goal setting, bullet journals, etc — but these are all just parts that punctuate the journey of manifestation. They are not the end-all-be-all of achieving your goals, but rather pieces to the puzzle.

In this article I’m going to line out the path to manifestation, along with some tools to use at each point.

This article stems from my own personal experience walking through manifesting the life I want, backed with knowledge gained from the likes of Napoleon Hill, Dr. Maxwell Maltz, Gabrielle Bernstein, Benjamin Hardy, Danielle LaPorte, and more.

Step 1: How do you want your life to feel? And what things/experiences allow you to feel that way?

“Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.” — Danielle LaPorte

Have you ever wished so hard for something — a new car, a different job, a whole new wardrobe — then you got the thing and it didn’t satisfy that itch you thought it would?

This is because we get hijacked into thinking some thing or experience will bring us happiness, but in reality, if we have no idea how we want to feel, you could get a private jet and diamond studded champagne flute and still feel lousy.

So the first step in manifesting the life you want is figuring out how you want to feel every day. This step is so important to me that I created a 10 minute audio workshop to help you figure this piece out, you can get it here.

And remember:

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now” — Zig Ziglar

It’s only after you know how you want to feel every day that you can figure out what things/people/experiences are going to make you feel that way. How do you know this? By living your life and testing the waters and not getting sidetracked on your journey.

For instance, I want to feel freedom to plan my day how I want, I don’t want to be forced to rush off to a job and neglect my morning routine. I want the freedom to make my own choices every day and be spontaneous in my life.

So that means I need to work for myself. Having this knowledge, I can then start building my life and figuring out what career path or business I can create that fits the bill.

I also want to have solitude and access to nature whenever I want. So on the small scale, it means living in a place that I can quickly access nature whenever I want, and on the long term scale, it means buying a cabin in the woods.

First, figure out how you want your life to feel every day, and then figure out what things/careers/experiences/kinds of people allow you to feel that way.

Tools to use:

  • The Feel>Do>Be audio workshop: figure out how you want your life to feel everyday.

  • Creation meditation: Sit quietly and play this meditation music in the background, then let your imagination wander around what you want your life to look and feel like. What things do you imagine? What experiences are you having? Who is with you? Get detailed, then free-write in your journal after, describing all the things you imagined

  • Vision boarding: Once you’ve done your creation meditation, grab a poster board and start clipping photos from magazines, or snapping photos on your phone and getting them printed. Again, be detailed with this and have fun. You want to be able to look at your board every day and have it conjure up the feelings you want to feel. Emotions are powerful tools in manifestation, the more frequently you can feel the ones you want in your daily life, the better.

Step 2: Make a plan of manifestation

“Any ideas, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought” ― Napoleon Hill

You know the moment you finish your vision board, or your 10, 20, 50 year plan and then you set it aside and forget it for years until you’re packing up the house to move, and out behind some dresser falls your big visions for your life? Probably crumpled and bound up with dog hair and dust.

The vision board can be where good dreams go to die, if you let it.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The next step in any good manifestation is the plan. What are the things you want to check off sooner? What things do you have to accomplish before you achieve the end result?

Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to make $150k in a week with nothing to offer, nothing to give the world in exchange for its benjamins. So simply wishing for it, without having anything to give in exchange, probably won’t work.

For the longest time I was stuck at point A, shadowing my eyes and blinking blindly into the horizon, knowing that point B was out there somewhere, but having no idea what that path looked like.

I just knew what I wanted, and I wanted it yesterday, but why couldn’t I get it?

Well, simply, I wasn’t willing to figure out my plan of manifestation. I was stuck in daydream mode (and man can I daydream).

This is where the law of attraction and pasting pictures of mega-mansions on a poster board falls short. The widely idolized view of attracting what you most desire to your life is that if you want it bad enough, it’ll plop into your lap.

Social media is riddled with quotes about desire, and “what you’re seeking, is seeking you,” which is true, but it’s only half of the picture.

You need point A1, A2, A3, A4 and so on before you land at point B. And if it’s what you truly want, your only job at this point is figuring what steps you need to take to get there.

How much money do you need to make? What career do you need to have? Where do you need to be living? What kind of people are you surrounding yourself with? Answer all these questions about your dream life, and then work backwards, figuring out what smaller things you need to accomplish first.

Let this be a loosely held plan, go in the direction of those goals, but don’t be surprised when the wind changes direction and your plan shifts to accommodate. That’s the beauty of co-creating with the Universe, often times it has way better things in store for you than you could have dreamed.

But you need to do more than dream, you must plan.

Tools to use:

  • Road-map it: You can’t be on a boat in Croatia gawking at the chalky-white cliffs until you figure out how to afford it. You can’t make the money until you decide on a career that doesn’t make you want to smash your face on things. Take the time to write out or think about the incremental changes you need to make in your life that will lead you to your ultimate goal. You need a road-map with pit-stops.

Step 3: Focus on ONE piece of the puzzle at a time

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” — George Lucas

This is the piece that inspired this article. But first, let me rewind.

She was a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, with peeling paint and a whine that assaulted the neighborhood birds and neighbors alike when I started her up.

With 20 years under her belt and a shitton of miles, everything was leaking or broken (I had to top her off with fluids every couple of weeks to keep her limping along). Every time I tried to start her I prayed it wouldn’t be the time she wouldn’t.

For a few months, I was focused on getting a new car, specifically a Toyota Tacoma with the “long bed” so I could be an official mountain woman, and so I could outfit the back for camping trips.

The only problem? I didn’t have the money for down payment and I had no idea where I would find it.

But, I remained focused on my goal, and released my conscious duty on figuring out how to find the money. I focused on ONE THING, planned out my budget and figured out how much I could pay per month on a new car and started looking.

Then I relinquished my typical control-freak-death-grip on trying to figure out how I would get the money to buy a new car. I stopped stressing about the Jeep breaking down and leaving me car-less. I literally told the Universe “Ok, this is what I want, I trust you’re bringing this to me, cause I friggin’ need a new car,” (I said this while trying to accelerate out of a stoplight, waiting patiently for the transmission to catch in the intersection).

A week after the intersection-conversation with the Universe, I got a call from my folks. They had finally closed on my deceased Grandmother’s house, some 3 years after she had passed away and in the closing, I was gifted $5,000.

Now, you can either roll your eyes and believe it was just right timing. Or you can believe that the Universe is actually benevolent and wants to help you achieve and get the things you dream of.

I used to be the agnostic skeptic, but I’ve come to realize that life is way more fun — and abundant — believing that the Universe is co-creating alongside me, helping me through this funny thing called life.

But regardless, the moral of the broke-down Jeep story is to have laser-beam focus on what you’re trying to accomplish right now. You can’t just paint a beautiful picture of your future life in your mind and hope for the best. You must focus on particular piece of that story and work towards achieving it.

And remember:

“You become a master of your life when you learn how to control where your attention goes. Value what you give your energy and time to” — Found on Mantra Magazine

It’s only then that the Universe has clarity to co-create with you. So, if you’ve been stuck in scatter-shot daydream mode, wondering why you can’t seem to accomplish any of your goals, try dedicating yourself to one piece of the grand-scheme and see what happens.

Things may just fall from the sky to help you on your way (just make sure you thank the Universe when it does, manners never hurt).

Tools to use:

  • Notecards: Write down the one thing you’re focused on achieving on multiple notecards and put them around your house where you’ll see them. Pull one out when you’re getting distracted or pulled off course by some other goal. One at a time here!

Step 4: Meditate on this goal every day

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward” — Old Chinese Proverb

Ok, now you have your life mapped out by how you want it to feel, you’ve got your game plan in order to accomplish those things, and you’re hyper focused on the first step, not letting your mind wander to anything else until you’ve achieved this one thing.

The next step is meditating on this thing daily, particularly in the morning, before your mind gets all boggled up with other people’s opinions and negativity from the news and social media (and maybe don’t look at either of those things until you absolutely have to, just a little tip from me to you).

I’m of the belief that meditation takes many forms and it isn’t solely reserved for a pillow in a quiet room (though I do love this kind of meditation too).

So if traditional meditation throws you off, focus on this one goal every day while you work out, while you walk outside, while you shower or drive or cross-stitch or bake a cake. Focus on your goal — and the feelings attaining this goal will allow you to feel — while you do any activity that lets you zone out a little bit.

My favorite thing to think about while I run is my goals. I think about running towards the thing I’m after, and that thing rushing towards me.

I feel what it would feel like to have achieved the thing I’m after right now, not allowing my mind to picture who I’ll be once I get that thing, as if I am not the person currently who can achieve my goals.

This is a huge piece of the puzzle, and something you’ll find in many personal growth books: imagine like you have your goal right now, in your current life.

There’s a massive difference between imagining what your life will be like when you achieve the goal, verse imagining what it feels like to achieve your goal right now, as you are, in your current life.

The former will make you chase your dream forever, because subconsciously you’re telling yourself you are not the person who can have the goal you’re after. The ladder will help you realize you have everything it takes to achieve your goals, and you will allow yourself to achieve it too.

The goal is the thing that happens after you have focused entirely on it’s fruition. You must be like Abraham Lincoln with his axe:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” — Abraham Lincoln

Tools to use:

  • Journaling: Nothing grounds in a goal and your focus like writing about it every morning and night. There’s also plenty of personal growth heavy-hitters that can’t shut up about the power of writing goals down before bed in order to let your mind work on solving how to achieve it (we’re talking Einstein, Napoleon Hill, Benjamin Hardy). Just make sure you’re writing your goal as if you already have that thing.

Step 5: Align your mind and environment to make it happen

“Success isn’t that difficult; it merely involves taking twenty steps in a singular direction. Most people take one step in twenty directions.” — Benjamin Hardy

In his book, Willpower Doesn’t Work, Benjamin Hardy laments against the use of willpower to try and achieve your goals, arguing that willpower is a muscle that deplets with use, and if your environment triggers you into having to use willpower to accomplish some goal, you will eventually fail.

Which is why if you’re trying to eat healthy, you know how difficult it is to avoid the ice cream you bought for your spouse or the cookies for the kids, and that eventually you’ll cave and eat the carton of ice cream with the cookies crumbled on top.

This same principle applies to everything in life — including manifesting a life you don’t loathe.

Simply put, your environment right now is setup to support the person you are right now, minus the goals and dreams you’re working towards.. So if you want to change your life, you must change your environment so that it supports the goals you have.

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done” — Thomas Jefferson

You must align your environment to make your success unavoidable.

Which means if you want to make more money or start a business, you need to stay away from people that are lazy and blame the world for not accomplishing their dreams, and you need to find people that are entrepreneurs and self-starters.

If you want to feel respected, happy and relaxed in your life, you’ll need to leave the job where your boss degrades your work and demands more and more without giving you credit for your accomplishments.

Most people feel stuck by their situations without realizing they’re the ones making the conscious choice to remain there. Certainly there are difficult, unfair and downright shitty situations that you might be in that keeps you stuck where you’re at.

But by simply saying “there must be a way out of this” instead of “there’s no way out, my life will never change,” you are shifting your beliefs and taking a step in changing your life.

You are allowing the Universe and your subconscious to find solutions to your predicament.

You’re only as stuck as you perceive yourself to be. Ask yourself how your environment — the things, people, situations, job, etc — is keeping you from accomplishing your goals. Are your friends holding you back with their negative beliefs and opinions? Is your house always cluttered and unkept, making you feel antsy and unfocused? Is your job draining your creative drive?

Be honest and then start making changes to your environment that make your success unavoidable.

Conclusion

The law of attraction only works when you go beyond visualizing and daydreaming, and launch yourself into creation.

Manifestation isn’t a one way street, where the Universe delivers the goods after you’ve made a poster board and wrote yourself a million dollar check, a la Jim Carrey. Manifestation is a joint-venture with the Universe, and you have to be a hardworking, focused and determined partner.

Visualization is part of the key to manifestation, but it is only one notch in the key.

Take Action!

Make massive change in your life by figuring out how you want it to FEEL every day. I created a 10 minute audio exercise to plug you into your authentic self, so you can start living the life you want today 👇

Click here to get the Feel > Do > Be exercise now!

Article originally published on Medium

These 7 Mindset Quotes Will Teach You What You Need to Finally Level-Up in Life

You can’t outrun your negative self-perception

In this article you’ll learn:

  • Success is all a mind game, and you can’t beat a negative self-perception, it’ll eventually catch up with you

  • Your beliefs are either making your life, or completely sabotaging it

  • Fulfilling your dreams is a balance between concerted mental effort and relinquishing control

Leveling up in your life is all a mental game.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right” — Henry Ford

You might think success boils down to who has the shiniest things, the most money or the cushiest life. But it’s actually everything that happens before the external victories that determines your real success.

For the longest time I was focused on the external things that would signify that I had done it, that I had succeeded.

All the while, I was ignoring the beliefs that I wasn’t good enough to be successful, or smart enough to teach people, or resourceful enough to manage a 6-figure income.

And you know what was happening in my reality? I was stuck, chasing dreams, frustrated and drinking too much vodka every night.

For the last two years I’ve turned my hustle-n-grind inward, working through and on all those mental hangups and beliefs. And because of that work, I’m finally making headway in my life.

I’m finally allowing myself to be successful, something I didn’t think I had to do, but turns out is a very real thing.

So if you’re ready to finally upgrade, its time to examine your mental game to see what’s holding you back, and here’s 7 quotes to lead the way.

1. “Beneath the surface, if you believe that struggling is more noble than succeeding because that’s what your parents taught you, and that everyone who loves you as you used to be will judge and abandon you when you’re rich, your subconscious self might attempt to “protect” you by suddenly getting the flu, by picking fights with people who can help you, by inspiring you to procrastinate, make terrible investments, drink your face off the before (or morning of) an important meeting, etc” — Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass at Making Money

Moral of the quote: This one time I quit my mind-numbing career in an attempt to follow my dreams and start a business (the first time, there’s been many. Welcome to entrepreneurship). I was going to work as a manager at a restaurant on the side while I continued to build a cocktail catering business.

I was excited about the part time gig, and felt like I was movin’ on up in the world and in my dreams.

Then, the day before my first shift, I got obscenely drunk, had a brain-splitting hangover, and had to call in for my shift.

Your mind is a powerful tool. It is always aiming for the things you believe most deeply. So if you have some deeply rooted issues around money, success, your ability to do great things, you might unknowingly be self-sabotaging all your attempts at doing better.

The good news? Your identity isn’t fixed, and you can change those beliefs. But you need to recognize those self-sabotaging beliefs before you can work on them.

I recognize that move to get wasted the day before my big life change as my subconscious keeping me stuck in what it knew and believed: that I am irresponsible, and incapable of figuring my life out.

I still watch myself slip into self-sabotaging behavior, but now I know what I’m looking for.

Once you see these things playing out in your life, you can recognize them for what they are: just fear and ego getting freaked out by your attempt at changing your life.

Fear and ego want you to stay the same, stay stuck, and keep playing small because its what you know. Anything outside of what you know is a threat, and worthy of sabotaging with drunken behavior, or whatever your self-defeating move is.

2. “Certainty is the enemy of growth” — Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Moral of the quote: When things got hard for me, when I kept failing at business ventures, or wanting something more out of life, but having no clue what that was, and hopelessness was the ghoul of the night, I started to get certain about things.

Things just keep not working out for me, I keep failing at the blogs and the businesses I start, the new careers I want to move into. I must not be one of those people cut out for being an entrepreneur.

I can’t quit my eating disorder after a decade of trying, I must be damaged goods.

I binge eat, I binge drink, clearly I’m just weak-willed, and people like that aren’t successful.

Yes, failure after failure after failure is the stuff of nightmares. It can change everything you think you are. I’ve been there, believing I was a ‘bulimic headcase,’ incapable of change.

But this moment, when every failure seems to prove that you are not capable of becoming more, this is when you must hold it in your heart that those things do not define you. The worst thing you can do is live in certainty, in black and white.

Being human is not certain, it is not absolute. You will fail, you are not a failure. You will slip into old habits, you are not the person you used to be.

Whenever you start to define yourself as “this” or “that” kind of person, stop.

Because that is the surest way to staying stuck like that forever.

3. “If you’re too good, no life can happen. It’s not your goodness that will liberate you. . .it’s the joyfulness of your own nature” — Sadhguru, from White Hot Truth by Danielle LaPorte

Moral of the quote: I struggle with detoxes and diets and cleanses because I am very easily triggered by food, thanks to a decade long stint with bulimia. So when I try to clean my eating up, I inevitably stray and eat something I shouldn’t, like too many chips, or whatever.

And when I do stray, my mind is easily triggered into believing that I am weak, destined to be overweight, a glutton, etc.

The personal growth and self-help world is incredibly helpful for people, but it can also be damaging. In the same way seeing the highlight reel of peoples lives on social media can make your life feel like a colossal failure, so too can the never-ending flow of articles saying “you will only be successful/happy/rich/joyful/whateva if you do this 100% of the time,” will make you feel like you’re not cut out for success (because no one can be that good 100% of the time).

As a writer in this field, and as a recovering perfectionist/bulimic/ball of shame, I feel it’s my duty to let you know that even the authors behind these article STILL struggle. They still fail. They still accidently eat too many cookies, or snooze through their alarms, or fuck up their morning routines, or whatever, including me.

I am a painful, beautiful, ridiculous, brilliant example of humanity. I am still learning, too. And I will be forever.

So don’t hold yourself by such a rigid rule book that when you fail, it’s so colossal you believe yourself a failure (echoing back to quote #2), and certainly don’t let these rules keep you from enjoying your life.

Balance is the essential to life, but as I’ve learned, it’s not easy.

(And please screenshot this and send it to me every so often, I need the reminder too sometimes).

4. “They cannot think in terms of riches, because their though habits have been steeped in poverty, want, misery, failure and defeat” — Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Moral of the quote: In 2016 I failed at starting a mobile cocktail catering business. I failed long before I even started booking events.

The perceived disappointment of my family, who invested in me, and my husband, who supported and believed in me, followed me around for months, and I am still peeling off pieces of that shame.

Every time I tried to start something new, I remembered that failure, and told myself I wasn’t capable or worthy of trying again because I had screwed up so badly the first time. As you can imagine, this stunted my growth for a long time.

What you focus on, or pay attention to, becomes your reality. If all you’ve ever seen is how little money you have, your lack, your failures, all the things you want, but don’t have, you will continue getting the same.

This kind of thinking has been deeply ingrained inside of me, and I am still wringing that rag out. Recognizing all the beliefs about your own failings, bad luck, defeats, unworthiness, or lack is the first step.

The second is replacing that tired record-o-shame with a highlight reel of all the times you’ve done good. And understanding that just because you did fail, doesn’t mean you are a failure.

Start with the success you have, no matter how small and focus on that until it grows into a whole field of success.

5. “Every thought therefore is a cause and every condition an effect; for this reason it is absolutely essential that you control your thoughts so as to bring forth only desirable conditions” — Charles F. Hannel, The Master Key System

Moral of the quote: You know those days where one bad thing happens, and it seems to trigger a shit-storm of more bad things? Well, this quote is your answer to that.

Yes, bad things happen out of nowhere, for no reason. But your thoughts have a big role in many of the positive or negative things that happen in our lives.

Back when I was single, I was obsessed with finding someone to be with. I got denied by a couple guys I really liked, and then suddenly I was gnawing on all the things that were certainly wrong with me.

Then I finally started dating my now-husband, I felt good about myself, and was in that buzzy, heady mind space of falling in love, and nothing else mattered. I was happy and it reverberated off me.

So of course it would make sense those guys that denied me before came around to their senses, and started hitting me up to hangout.

This scenario is this quote in action.

When you focus on the bad, and believe you will only get the bad, and that YOU are bad, your life and circumstances will generally reflect that.

When you focus on the good, and believe you will only get the good, and that YOU are good, your life and circumstances will generally reflect that.

Even if you don’t believe me, life is WAY better when you focus on the good, rather than awfulize over the bad.

But, there’s also balance to this, which brings me to #6:

6. “CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of profound gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong” — Glennon Doyle, Carry on, Warrior

Moral of the quote: How do cry in the jungle? In a two-story open air yoga deck, nestled in the jungle canopy overlooking the ocean, with the monkeys and macaws and the fresh fruit? How can you possibly be upset in such a beautiful place?

Well, sometimes you break. As I did on my yoga mat in said jungle. The details don’t matter, but the point is that your life can literally look like a spread in Beaches, and you’re still allowed to cry about it.

You are a human with a broad and varying array of emotions, and they are not all sugar-plum pink and marshmallow fluff white.

You will have bad days, and you will be pissed, and you will, on occasion, feel like nothing good can ever come to your life (even if your life is steeped in goodness).

You don’t have to be all butterflies and cupcakes 100% of the time.

You can be hellfire, ugly-crying, door-slamming and bird-flipping sometimes too.

The point is to not live in that mental state, but to visit it on occasion when things get overwhelming and your humanity gets the best of all your personal growth.

It’s ok, you’re allowed to break.

7. “You are never pre-qualified to live your dreams. You qualify yourself by doing the work. By committing — even overcommitting — to what you believe you should do” — Benjamin Hardy

Moral of the quote: When I was sixteen, I made up my mind to move to Alaska, live in an RV, work at a diner by day, and write stories by night. I was going tap away at a keyboard in bear country and have life experiences.

It never happened.

Instead I went to college and convinced myself I was no Stephen King, so there was no point in trying.

Flashforward to 2015, I desperately wanted to write, to tell stories, to be an observer of life and slow time down in a way that only writers, photographers, and artists can: by capturing a single moment with words or pictures.

But I believed I must have permission to do so. I was searching for a magazine job, for writing gigs, for a paid position and a title that reads “writer.” I just wanted some authority figure to tell me what I already knew deep down: that I am a writer.

Unfortunately, no one is going to hand you your dream job, and it is a waste of life to try and pre-qualify yourself for your dreams.

Yes, you might need technical experience, but you get that in the doing.

Eventually, in 2017, I quit my job and shipped myself off to Costa Rica for 3 months to become what I knew I was at sixteen. I just traded bear country for the beach.

And guess what? I had no more experience as a writer in 2017 than I did two years prior.

All that is to say: just fucking do it, and keep going once you start.

Take Action!

Make massive change in your life by figuring out how you want it to FEEL every day. I created a 10 minute audio exercise to plug you into your authentic self, so you can start living the life you want today 👇

Click here to get the Feel > Do > Be exercise now!

Article originally published on Medium

9 Hard Truths You Must Learn to Start Loving Your Life

In the matter of years I have gone from a woman suffering the symptoms of being out of touch with her truth and identity, to owning my story and living an authentic life. I’m steadily designing my life and my future, living life on my terms and learning how to make a living doing it.

It is freedom, it is joyous.

Its still hard, I will never stop growing, but my life feels right for the first time in a long time.

These are 9 truths I had to learn before I was able to start living a life I love.

1. You are Ready to Be and Have Whatever You Want, Right Now

I had to let go of the idea that I needed to be thinner, smarter, better, and more perfect before I decided to start living the way I wanted to. I decided to be happy, and be the woman I wanted to be before anyone gave me permission or invited me to do so.

I just started where I was, with what I had: thick thighs, empty bank account and imperfect life. When we own our story we are freed by it.

2. Truth, Identity and Authenticity is a Path, Not a Destination

When I realized I didn’t know who I was, what I stood for, or what I wanted to be in this life (after more than one identity crisis), I was horrified that I didn’t know my truth, and didn’t know how to live authentically.

I only recently realized that truth, identity and authenticity is a process, it is not a final destination. I would look at businesses and people who had made up their minds, who were standing for something and being bold and authentic, and I would compare them to myself, a woman who stood for very little, and didn’t know what was authentic to me.

When I understood truth #1, I gave myself permission to start living without having it all figured out. It was only recently that I realized my truth, my identity and authenticity is a process, not something I was ever going to arrive to.

I just have to keep doing, to keep speaking and living in ways that feel right to me at the time, and that is how I live truthfully and authentically. My identity is found in the doing, it is not a fixed point.

I am always changing, and thus my truth and identity will always change. I may become a hypocrite. I may change my mind. But it’s fine, because that is the process.

Identity therefore is an action, we are what we do, not what we think we’ll do.

3. When We Live Based on What We ‘Should’ Be Doing, We Will Always Be Chasing

There is a place many people arrive to where every day is spent doing what must be done, what should be done. We are simply living our to-do lists and then collapsing on the couch, exhausted.

When I decided to slow down, and do things for me, instead of doing things because I should be doing them, I started living my life on my terms. I removed myself from the rat race, and put myself in my own lane.

It was only after I started living for myself did I realize that this is the #1 key to living an authentically and to becoming exceptional in life and in business.

When I stopped living for everything I “should” be doing, I stopped paying attention to what others were doing and realized that most of our “shoulds” are wrapped up in competing and keeping up with other people. They are not authentic to ourselves.

Living from a place of “shoulds” keeps us chasing after other people, reacting to what the competition is doing and keeps us living outside of truth.

4. My Identity Isn’t Fixed

Many people believe that who they are right now is who they must be. This is simply not true, you are not required to be who you were yesterday or even 5 minutes ago.

When I finally gave up alcohol, my behavior proved to me that just because I once considered myself a “drinker” did not mean I had to be for the rest of my life.

What we repeatedly do is who we are. Therefore, our behavior and our actions dictate our identity, not the other way around.

So start behaving as the person you want to become behaves, and your identity will follow.

5. We Must Practice Self-Reliance

Being self-reliant is the only way to start living an authentic and truthful life, but we must practice self-reliance every day. It is a muscle that needs training.

When I decided to travel to Costa Rica for 3 months alone, without my husband, I was practicing self-reliance. It taught me that I can do hard things alone, that I can survive without my loved ones (though difficult and less enjoyable), and that I can make decisions for myself.

We must practice self-reliance in the comfort of our daily lives because there will be a time when we will have to rely on ourselves in difficult times. If we don’t practice self-reliance daily, we will flounder in the tough situations.

6. I am NOT My Emotions

Gaining a meditation practice forced me to become the observer to my own ego and my emotional reactions. This gave me incredible insights into who I am and how I was living from a place of lack.

It made me realize that I am not my emotional reactions to life and people. I am the observer of my emotional reactions. This is one of the most powerful distinctions we can make. It allows us to own our emotional reactions and understand ourselves on a completely different level.

It forced me to take responsibility for myself, to own my truth and learn to speak it.

7. Speaking My Truth is What Sets Me Apart

I was once scared of my story and the ugly parts of my truth. I was living my life passive-aggressively. I would react to the world and then stuff down my emotions and carry on.

When I learned to finally own my truth, and recognize my emotional reactions as a sign to people and situations not lining up to my truth, I gave myself freedom. I gave myself the gift of choosing how I wanted my life to feel every day.

There is power in saying ‘no, this doesn’t line up with my truth’ and then walking away from the people and situations that no longer serve your truth. We need more people willing to speak up for their truth, and willing to own their story.

Speaking our truth is the only thing that has changed the world. Vulnerably sharing our truth with the world gives other the power to speak their truth.

This is your invitation to start speaking yours.

8. Owning Your Story is the Surest Way to Control the Ending

I had to learn to own where I had been, and the person I am in order to start living a more fulfilling and happy life. When I stepped into my story, this forced my hand, and effectively eliminated people and situations that weren’t moving me forward.

I had to realize that I will not make everyone happy, and that not every situation (even the ones I wanted), was meant for me in order to find the people and life that are.

We write a better ending for our story when we decide to start being the heroine or hero of our own.

9. Deciding How I Want My Life to Feel Everyday is How I Got the Life I Wanted

No amount of goal setting, or vision boarding was getting me a life I wanted. My life still felt unfulfilling after I had achieved the goals and got the job, or the promotion, or whatever.

I was running in goal setting circles.

It was only when I got clear on how I wanted my life to feel every day, that I was able to actually get a life that meant something to me. After I figured out I wanted my life to feel, I was able to construct a career that was actually fulfilling because it’s authentic to me.

Conclusion

Life is a moving target. It is a process of trial and error, growth and setbacks.

It is not a destination.

You will grow, you will change, you will make declarations that were once your truth and that now make you shudder.

You will be a hypocrite. You will be wrong.

But if you are making decisions from a place of your truth, as stands right now, you will walk the path you are meant to walk.

And that is the point.

Take Action!

Make massive change in your life by figuring out how you want it to FEEL every day. I created a 10 minute audio exercise to plug you into your authentic self, so you can start living the life you want today 👇

Click here to get the Feel > Do > Be exercise now!

The Dangerous Gray Area of “Casual Drinker” + 9 Ways I Stopped Binge Drinking

For the overdrinkers who are ready to stop

I opened my eyes to a gray fall morning.

It took about 30 seconds for me to register the night before, the cause of my pounding headache, the nausea bubbling up in my throat, the strange knife edge pain in my solar plexus.

But when I did it was like everything in the room implicated me in my shame.

The mid-morning light glowing around the edges of the blackout curtains. The fact that I was alone in bed, my husband having woken up long before me, without a hangover, no doubt.

Scenes from the night before slammed into my chest.

The two double vodka drinks, the 6 or 7 White Claws following. The hallucinogens I had decided to take after the White Claws.

The flight of stairs I fell down and the laughter of those who heard the crash.

How I sobbed for hours afterwards, my trip — the second of my life — suddenly turning south.

My sweet husband, sober and certainly shocked by my behavior, taking care of me while I sobbed, holding me tight while my sorrow rolled through me in waves.

I rolled over in bed that morning, a shock of pain coursing up my right rib cage, into my neck, which felt loose but stiff at the same time. Whiplash from my fall.

I hung there in bed, suspended between the misery of getting up, and shame-guilt-hopelessness feeling that was as deep and dark as an oil slick.

This moment always scared me the most. It was always this suspension in time — the one between sleep and getting on with my life with a hangover — during which I wished I could just fall asleep and never wake up.

It was the pinprick of panic and dread that I felt growing in my mind every time I got drunk. Like I would never stop. Why couldn’t I just have one drink socially like all those other “grown-ups”?

I painfully pushed the covers aside, and slowly shifted out of bed, equally trying not to think about the night before, and running a train of harrasing thoughts through my head about what an asshole I was.

And so it went.

According to an article in NPR, a federally sponsored study found that ‘high risk’ drinking in women (four or more drinks a day on a weekly basis) rose by 58 percent between 2002 and 2013, and 65 percent in other adults. Among women, alcohol abuse and dependence rose 83.7 percent.

Alcohol culture has blossomed, with craft cocktail bars popping up everywhere, craft beer culture on the rise, and younger generations falling head over heels for wine. Drinking is not only becoming a nightly affair, it’s also a mark of sophistication, youth, and success.

As a culture, we are drinkers.

It makes it all so normal, drinking a bottle of wine of a Wednesday, having 3 or 4 craft cocktails at happy hour on Thursday, going out for a late night on Friday, the house party on Saturday, followed by bloody mary and mimosa brunch on Sunday.

The gray area of high-functioning drinkers is widening as alcohol culture becomes normalized and celebrated.

I found myself trapped in this gray area. I had a social life, in which all my friends drank heavily, functioned in their daily lives, and went back to the bottle the following night without blinking.

I wondered if anyone else felt as hopeless and shameful about alcohol in the morning light as I did?

I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic. I wasn’t taking nips off the bottle in the morning to stave off the shakes. I didn’t crave alcohol in a sense that my life would end if I didn’t have a drink.

My life wasn’t crumbling. I had a good job, made my rent and was even paying off my debt and saving a little on the side. I wasn’t exactly making a lot of forward progression on all those dreams I had, but I wasn’t in a sinking ship either.

I was just drinking to “wind down,” to enjoy my life, to soak in the summer surrounded by good friends, to let loose and not take life so seriously. I just wanted to relax and enjoy like the rest of them. Like those women on Instagram who seem to have it all together.

Drinking their fancy drinks on some well-maintained garden veranda, basking in a glowy sunset surrounded by their beautiful friends, no doubt talking about how amazing their lives are. “This must be the place, am I right?” “Cheers guys, you all are seriously the best.”

My transition from nightly drinker, to occasional drinker, and soon to be non-drinker, took a few years.

I wasn’t as into my personal development as I am now. I was stuck in an environment and lifestyle that celebrated nightly wine. But I learned a lot on the journey, and I’d like to share it with you.

Because it’s wildly important.

Alcohol is killing us. Alcohol culture, specifically marketing targeted at women is on the rise, and is leading to increased ‘high risk’ drinking, which this study suggests is becoming a public health crisis given the high risk of disease and psychiatric problems associated with alcohol.

Regardless of the data, if you have shame around your drinking habits, if you feel like your life could be better without alcohol, if you feel guilty, or worried about your alcohol consumption, it’s time to evaluate it and do something about it.

Sobriety is a personal journey. One that is punctuated by failure, by slip-ups and confusion. I caught myself arguing for years, “if that girl can drink, be that successful, and be living a life that I want to, then I can drink too.”

I have still taken it too far on my journey to sobriety, getting blackout drunk and then vomiting all morning. I think that transparency is important here, because this journey isn’t a straight line.

We never know what’s on the other side of the photos, and the curated Instagram feeds.

Unless we ask, we might not ever know that our friends are laying in bed in the morning getting sucked into hopelessness and fear alongside their pounding head.

So this is for those of you caught in the confusing grey area of alcohol culture, for those of you who want out but don’t know how to navigate life on the other side of alcohol, here are some ways I got out.

This is for those of you who are falling deeper into shame, and don’t know what to do.

To be clear: if you think you’re addicted to alcohol, please seek professional help. This article is geared toward those who are struggling with over-drinking, but not necessarily addiction.

Everyone’s journey is different. Here’s how I did it:

1. Start Small

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones” — Confucius

It’s easy to wake up from a hangover and say never again. It’s easy to react to your habit in a judgemental, shamed way. Especially if you’ve been feeling shameful or guilty about your habit for a long time.

But I suggest you start small. Alcoholics Anonymous talks about not thinking about having to stay sober forever, but instead thinking about being sober for the next minute. The next hour. The next day.

If you want to start getting your consumption in check, start by not drinking for 1 night out of the week. Or not drinking during the work week. Make it doable. Make it feel small, and do it because you want to, not because you’re shaming yourself into it.

Work your way up from there after a few weeks. Take incremental, doable and bit-sized steps towards sobriety. And then, do a sober month, and check out this article I wrote called 21 Ways Being Sober for 21 Days has Improved My Life.

2. Find your ‘why’

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how” — Nietzsche

Nothing makes me happier than waking up without a hangover in the early morning, and going for a run, reading, journaling, taking time for me. When I was drinking, I would always hit snooze, and then rush off to work in a frazzle, without giving myself any personal time.

When I stopped drinking during the work week, I was able to start adding in all these priorities I wanted to have, but couldn’t because of the hangovers.

I started working out. I started to learn photography, and would fall into a kind of meditative state going on walks in the mornings with my dog, camera and coffee, taking photos for an hour before work.

I started to journal, and to paint in the mornings before my 9am job.

Getting to do me, to do those hobbies I wanted to have but never ‘had the time for,’ and being able to dive into my passions every morning before work completely transformed my life.

Now I’m running a coaching business, I’m getting to take photos, I’m writing, I’m prioritizing all those things that used to come after alcohol.

Find your why. What’s one thing you could do more of if it wasn’t for the happy hours and hangovers? Start doing it on those days you don’t drink.

This lets you take something away that used to be your focus — alcohol — and add in something wonderfully rewarding and enjoyable. This makes it feel less like ‘punishment’ and more like getting your life back.

3. Tell People What You’re Doing

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality” — Yoko Ono

It’s one thing to want to stop drinking in private, it’s another thing entirely to tell the people in your life that you’re actively cutting back.

This makes a massive difference in your success.

When you privately want to stop drinking, you’re still living within the same relationships and environments that are leading you to drinking in the first place.

It’s easy to justify drinking when no one is holding you accountable, when you haven’t changed the dynamics of stating you’re no longer drinking.

This was a hurdle for me, because if I told people about wanting to be sober, I actually had to do it.

If you don’t tell people, you’re basically planning to fail.

So tell someone, tell your friends you’re cutting back, you’re only drinking 1 night a week, or whatever goal you have set. Make sure it’s a concrete goal (ie. I’m not drinking during the work week) instead of vague (ie. I’m cutting back on my drinking). That way it’s discernable and measurable for you and everyone else around you.

4. Stay away from people that don’t respect #3

“You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” — Jim Rohn

When you decide to get sober, you will find out who your real friends are. Period.

Which can be scary, because a lot of our identity is wrapped up in our friend circle. When we lose friends we wonder who we are.

This is a hard, yet incredibly powerful place to be, because you get to decide who you want to be (sober or drunk? A special occasion drinker or an every night drinker?).

They say you are the 5 people you are closest to, and if your 5 closest friends are all heavy drinkers, you likely will be too. When you decide to stop drinking as much, or all together, that’s going to threaten the heavy drinkers in your life.

Why?

Because suddenly they’re going to compare their habits to yours. They going to assume you’re judging them or that you think they have a problem. They’re going to get uncomfortable when they’re having a cocktail and you order a soda water. Because it forces them to see themselves and their habits.

People occasionally see this as confrontational.

And, if it makes them really uncomfortable, one or two things might happen:

  1. They’ll stop inviting you places, and your friendship will dissolve

  2. They’ll be aggressive about your decision in some way, either giving you shit, guilting you into drinking, violating your decision by offering you drinks even though you’ve told them you’re not drinking, or getting confrontational and angry about your choice

  3. Note that neither of these things has anything to do with you, and everything to do with how they’re feeling about themselves.

Pay attention to the people who make you feel good, happy, excited and motivated about your decision, and those people that make you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, drained, angry, or triggered. Stay away from the people that make you feel the latter.

And know that there is a wide world of folks out there who aren’t drinkers and that like to do the same things you do. Maybe these are your people, and maybe the people you thought were your people, aren’t anymore. That’s ok.

5. Stop judging yourself for the things you’ve done wrong, and the mistakes you make

“You cannot go on a path of self-criticism and expect to find joy at the end” — Brooke Castillo

Brooke Castillo often talks about how life feels like crap half the time, and amazing the other half, regardless of who you are, what you’ve accomplished, or how much money you make.

It’s just the deal we get for being human.

So if you’re going to feel uncomfortable half the time, why would you stack more discomfort on top of that by judging/shaming/guilting yourself about the choices you’ve made?

Have you considered that maybe this habit of shaming yourself is what is making you want to drink in the first place?

This has taken me a long time to unravel, and it’s still something I struggle with (and probably will struggle with for my whole life).

Every time I would slip up and binge on booze, or drink multiple days in a row, even after I decided to really stop drinking, I would immediately react with a proclamation that I was going to stop drinking for 45 days, or two months, or never again or or or. . .

I was usually hungover when I would make these proclamations, and I was definitely doing it from a place of shame and judgement.

How successful do you think I was in staying sober when I was trying to do so from a place of shame? If you guessed NOT successful, you’re right.

When I decided that I was worthy, loveable, and enough even if I screwed up, and no matter how badly I screwed up, it got easier to stay sober. Because I wasn’t adding extra shame into my life, that made me want to buffer my emotions with booze in the first place.

6. Start working through the discomfort you’re going to feel half the time

“If you hold back on the emotions — if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them — you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid” — Mitch Albom

The reason people buffer with alcohol, drugs, sex, food, whatever, is because it feels better to get the dopamine hit from those things than it does to feel whatever shitty feeling we’re running from.

Unfortunately, they didn’t teach us growing up that we are going to feel bad, and that instead of “bucking up” we should actually let ourselves feel like shit, and then work those feelings out of our bodies in healthy ways.

Instead we’re taught inadvertently to buffer our feelings by adults, by our peers, by advertising.

We’re told we should “feel/think positive” all the time, and so when we don’t we assume something is wrong with us, and then we seek out false pleasure in the bottle.

Because we’re supposed to feel good all the time, right?

Wrong.

We’re humans who feel feelings. We’re conscious of feeling those feelings. It’s a blessing. Because we get to feel empathy, love, joy, but in turn we must also feel anger, sadness and anxiety.

It’s just how being human works and unless you’re a sociopath (who doesn’t feel anything), you’re going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Period.

So I’m going to share with you some ways to let yourself feel uncomfortable. Use these tools when you’re feeling an emotion that makes you want to drink:

  1. Journal: Get it all out on the page in a stream of consciousness. Rage against people in your life through your pen. Cry about the shit you’re going through. Tell the Universe (or God, or whatever), how fucking unfair it is that you have to deal with whatever it is you’re dealing with. Show up in all your anger/rage/pain/shame/guilt on the page. And don’t you dare censor yourself because you “shouldn’t think/feel/act like that” as a “good man/woman/God-fearing person/teacher/mother/father/grandma/life coach/etc.” All that is, is more shame you’re heaving onto your back (refer back to #5). You don’t have to carry that anymore.

  2. Meditate: As in, sit and observe your thoughts. What are you thinking that’s causing this emotion in you? What circumstance is leading you to want to drink? What’s triggering you to want to drink? Watch your mind, learn from yourself, BE CURIOUS, not judgmental.

  3. Walk/Run/Swim/Bike/Hike: Do something that’s halfway mindless, and again: watch your mind, your thoughts, your emotional reactions.

  4. Go for a drive and turn the music way up, play that song that makes you feel whatever it is you want to feel right now.

Lean into the discomfort, feel it, and let it out of your body instead of pushing it down with alcohol. It only gets worse the more you let that stuff build up.

7. Unfollow people that drink on social media

“No matter how much internal resolve you have, you will fail to change your life if you don’t change your environment” — Benjamin P. Hardy

Arguably one of the most important things I did for myself when I finally achieved 30 days of sobriety.

You see, it was really easy for me to justify drinking when the people I admired on Instagram drank. If I wanted their life, and they drank alcohol, then to me it was a permission slip to keep drinking.

I had to stop following and getting magazines from one of my favorite magazines, Imbibe, because they celebrate the exact culture and behavior that I was trying to avoid. The magazine made it ok for me to keep drinking.

Instead, follow people who are sober, who talk about sobriety and celebrate it. Here are a few of my faves:

  1. Hip Sobriety (the very first person I ever followed who openly celebrated sobriety. I had no idea that was a thing)

  2. Laura McKowen

  3. The Sober Glow (also follow Mia if you’re a lady like me who is growing out your gray hair)

  4. Sober Up Buttercup

  5. The Sober Hipster

  6. Sober Outside (for all your adventurous folk or are like ‘how the hell do I stay sober on vacation?!’)

  7. Krissy Mae Cagney (and Reps4Recovery) (for all you cross-fitter, gym types, or those who really love fitness and the outdoors or entrepreneurialism, Krissy is a serial entrepreneur who founded an amazing crossfit gym that gives a free membership to those in recovery)

Out of respect for my audience, you will NEVER again see a post from me on my Instagram that celebrates drinking. Just a little PSA, because I know how triggering that can be.

Check out this article I wrote about creating a supportive Instagram environment called Can’t Stick to Your Resolutions? Blame Your Instagram Feed.

8. Ask for help, tell people your story, stop suffering in silence

If you’re struggling, reach out. To me, to your friends, to your parents, to your partner, to your church, to a stranger on the internet, to online support networks like the Suicide Hotline 1–800–273–8255 or the emotional support hotline for situations that aren’t life threatening, but you need help navigating, click here for a list.

Connect with people on social media who are talking about the things you are having problems with. People email and message me directly all the time wanting to share their struggles with me, and I always respond.

By staying quiet, but not just saying plainly “I don’t think I want to drink anymore,” you are letting the issue fester and grow.

You’ve really got to ‘name it to tame it,’ and honestly, most people are kind and good and will lend a supporting and loving, non-judgmental shoulder to lean on. If they don’t, they aren’t your people.

Find your people. Talk to to them. Even if you think you’re not good enough to fit in with the people you want to be around, reach out to them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good and kind people are.

9. Take your life, and your dreams, seriously

“When you quit drinking, you stop waiting” — Caroline Knapp

Alcohol lets us put off our dreams. It lets us save the work for another day, for later, for when we’re “more successful, have more money, or a better job.”

I finally got fed up with waiting, the pain of knowing how short my life is and not doing anything about it, got to be too much. So I stopped waiting and decided to stop drinking and find out who I was under all that buffering.

I can’t overstate how powerful this has been for me.

I went from spinning my wheels, wanting to start a business, wanting to write, wanting to take photos, wanting to travel to. . .quitting my job, moving to Costa Rica for 3 months, coming back home and writing, taking photos, getting paid for both of those things, discovering my passion for helping people, coaching people, and actively creating the life I want, instead of living the life I had been given.

Letting go of alcohol allowed me to live my life fully.

These things change my relationship with alcohol, and my relationship with my life. I did not go to AA or recovery, but I strongly encourage people to do so if it feels right. There is nothing shameful or small about needing that support to stop.

The time I fell down the stairs, I ended up severely bruising my rib and was unable to do the things I loved for 3 months. It was a serious turning point for me.

Your life doesn’t need to hit rock bottom for you to decide alcohol is no longer for you. You don’t need to slam into a set of stairs, or get put into rehab, or jail, or break the law in order to question your relationship with alcohol.

Start small, start today, stop judging yourself. You’re worthy, you’re enough.

Take Action!

Make massive change in your life by figuring out how you want it to FEEL every day. I created a 10 minute audio exercise to plug you into your authentic self, so you can start living the life you want today 👇

Click here to get the Feel > Do > Be exercise now!

How is “Just Think Positive” Ruining Your Life?

“When you signup for any sort of moment in life, you have to go through your own initiation with it” —Alexandra Roxo

The ocean waves echoed gently through the open-air yoga deck, the air was fresh, and the light filtered through the jungle canopy in a hazy green.

My yoga music was playing, I was all alone, trying desperately to ignore the feelings and the old negative self-talk that was coming up. But like the spider webs I walked through to get there, I just couldn’t shake them.

On an exhale, I pressed back into down dog, my gaze falling on my legs.

You know that moment when you have an idea in your head about what your body looks like, and then you see yourself for real, like your thighs hanging in down-dog, and its shocking?

I was wearing shorts instead of my usual long yoga leggings. I suddenly saw how my body actually looked without the restricting fabric of pants and I crumpled to my knees. I suddenly understood what child’s pose was all about.

I sobbed into the jungle-fied yoga mat, my disappointment and shame for my own body a hot coal in my sternum.

If you’ve been reading any of my articles, you might have read that I quit my career in marketing last year and moved to Costa Rica for 3 months to begin a writing, photography and coaching career.

While I knew that trip was going to be transformative, I didn’t realize how many of my issues I’d be bumping up against there. I didn’t fully appreciate the work that would be asked of me in committing to this life change.

For a decade I struggled with bulimia, self-hatred and a serious disconnection from myself.

While I’m over two years into recovery for the eating disorder, I was still struggling with my relationship with food and emotional eating when I left for Costa Rica. Some days I had it dialed in, other days I would eat well past satiation and into discomfort and pain.

The old habit of binging to push down emotion is a hard shackle to break. Most days I was just barely walking the knife-edge of keeping it together.

When I arrived in Costa Rica, I was still dealing with discomfort about myself. I felt overweight; I felt unhinged and still wasn’t comfortable in my skin, dappled with cellulite and fuller than it used to be.

I was feeling old, my premature gray hair growing out against my will — I didn’t have time to cover it up before I left. To add insult to injury, my normally beautiful ringlet curls turned to fluff in the humidity.

I was dressed in jungle clothes, the antimicrobial, wrinkle proof, baggy kind, a smart choice for the humid environment, but less flattering than my Levis.

In a word, I felt frumpy.

Nevertheless, I was dropped into a beach paradise, a yogi/surfer/vegan mecca, surrounded by trim women in bikinis, cut off shorts and crop tops, with long mermaid hair, a few actual models, and handsome Tico surfer guys.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so out of place, in my Tevas, with mascara-less eyes because I thought it would be fun to embrace my face without makeup for 3 months.

What a brilliant idea that was.

My reaction to the negative self talk in my head was always to silence it, to ‘always stay positive’ and thus shut out any bad thoughts I had about myself. So that’s what I did.

Any bad thought I had about my body was shushed and replaced with some version of self-love.

When my beautiful (professional model) coworker commented on the cellulite she thought she saw in the stunning photos I took of her, I scoffed: “I don’t have the energy to worry about things like cellulite anymore.”

(Liar)

As I walked to the yoga deck on the day of the “sobbing-child’s-pose” (what’s that Sanskrit word again?) I was barely able to keep the awful self-talk at bay, my legs feeling big in a pair of board shorts I had to wear because my yoga pants were in the wash.

Then a man stopped me and told me he thought one of my coworkers was beautiful. I glued my smile on, feeling the pin-prick of tears, the rise in my throat. I verbally agreed with him, and in my head I told myself “she is beautiful, compared to me.”

Day after day I was confronted with my own lack. Men told me specifically how beautiful they thought all my coworkers were, and this grated on me.

Of course my coworkers were beautiful, and I loved telling them, but I always did so from a place of comparison.

Their beauty was a direct cut to my own.

Every time I looked in the mirror, my grays getting longer by the day, I was confronted with my imperfection. Things I couldn’t hide from anymore.

My awkwardness in new situations, the way my legs rubbed together in dresses and the extra pooch above my bikini bottoms. Things that are easy to cover in the mountains where I’m from, where I can dye my hair and go to a gym every day.

But all that was taken away when I shipped off to the jungle.

I was exposed to myself completely. I was forced to be exactly as imperfect as I’ve always been, and I couldn’t just mantra-it out, push it down or cover it up.

When You Set Goals, You Sign A Contract with the Universe

“Life is an echo. What you send out comes back. What you give, you get.” –Unknown

My life was a series of events that lead to my Costa Rica trip.

Every time I broke down prior to leaving, the heaviness of my own painful words about my body almost too much to bear, I would ask the Universe to help me take it away. To help me stop bullying myself.

Every time I hit the mat to meditate, or laced up my running shoes, I intentionally focused on working out this mass of shame that felt like a tumor in my belly. I was sitting in the presence of the Universe trying to do the hard work.

I was consciously and unconsciously asking to figure out how to love myself, so that I could move through it and do the work of writing my story from a place of honesty and vulnerability.

Things were set in motion when the opportunity to move to Costa Rica for 3 months was dropped in my lap. I was driving home from the job I wanted to quit and I said out loud “I want this, I want to go to Costa Rica.”

A month and a half later I nervously heaved my 43-pound backpack and my computer bag onto my back and stepped into the airport on a frozen fall morning.

I always knew I wanted to write my story, to let the pain and struggle help someone else.

I kept working to figure out in what capacity I wanted this journey to take. Unknowingly, through all the work and the requests for help, I was sending my intention out to the Universe.

These requests, small and massive, complicated and simple, culminated into that trip to Costa Rica. Without knowing it, I had signed a contract with the Universe to build the thing I’ve been striving for.

Looking back, I had to go to Costa Rica, and confront all the struggles of self-hate I had, so I could understand all the ways I was capable and worthy of doing what I am now, writing and coaching.

Goal and intention setting, begging for change, and calmly meditating through the struggle is all a formal request to the “big out there” to make the things you’re working towards happen.

Once you make the decision, things are set in motion that we can’t even begin to fathom.

But just like the Universe is inclined to hold up its end of the deal, you too are required to do some heavy lifting to bring this dream or goal into fruition.

Your Struggle is Your Initiation into Your Goal

I used to resent the obstacles along the path, thinking “if only that hadn’t happened life would be so good.” Then I suddenly realized life IS the obstacles. There is no underlying path,” Janna Levin

We like to think that life should be easy, pleasant and pain free.

We’re told in marketing campaigns, or when we scroll through the highlight reel of other people’s lives on social media that we should feel good all the time. We’re convinced that there’s something wrong with us and our lives if we don’t feel good all the time.

But as Brooke Castillo says, life is painful about half the time, no matter what. Regardless if we get the new career, the new partner, make more money or lose 5 pounds.

Life is still shitty half the time.

We all want to achieve great things, which is why you’re reading this article now — you’re seeking insights to make your dreams come true.

But when you declare your wish to change your life, or achieve a goal, you’re signing a contract to face your fears and flaws so that you can either overcome them and achieve your goal, or not.

And working through those things in order to discover the lessons that live there is no joy-ride.

As Gabrielle Bernstein discusses in The Universe Has Your Back, these things are your assignment from the Universe. If you’re unable to show up — face your fears and accept the parts of yourself that you’ve been running from — you’ll continue running into them over and over.

Some people spend their entire lives running away from the things they fear, and thus remain stuck in place, never reaching higher levels of being or achieving their goals. But as Gabrielle says:

“Running from fear is like running around a track. You’ll inevitably wind up back in the same place again and again until you truly accept it.”

I had to be stripped bare of all the tools I used to hide my flaws from the world and myself by living in the humid jungle, miles away from creature comforts and good mascara.

I had to be confronted over and over with what I fear the most — not being enough, or worthy of love based on my looks and my weight — in order to understand all the other ways I was worthy.

The key to loving yourself is just like loving other people. Seeing yourself for who you are — a sometimes awkward woman with thick thighs and pre-mature gray hair — and inviting that person into your heart.

I realized that in shushing my negative self-talk with positivity I was closing the door on the person I was scared of being: myself, in all my flawed humanity.

2 Questions to Understand Your Struggles for Growth

I’m all about using curiosity to change here, so sit down with a pen and your journal and answer the following questions.

1. What emotions or blocks do you keep coming up against?

The idea behind your struggles being lessons or assignments is that we will keep making the same mistakes, and keep confronting the same limiting issues until we figure out a new way to move through it.

If you keep feeling stuck, or like you keep having the same issues in your life — not being able to find love, dissatisfaction with your job, or emotional issues, like was my case — reframe those issues as assignments and ask yourself what the lesson is.

Although it might seem like it’s bad luck, or that you’re pre-disposed to disappointment, or self-hate, it just takes reframing the issue into a lesson so that you can get honest with yourself and realize what in your life needs work.

2. How will this issue help you move to the next stage of your life or goal?

Negative emotions, traumas or struggles can feel overwhelming and without purpose. This certainly is not an argument to discount how difficult life can be sometimes and you might not be in a place where you can look at your struggles from a place of learning — and that’s fine.

But when you are, ask yourself how these issues, or recurring struggles are helping you to move forward in life, or giving you the tools to accomplish the goals you’ve set. Ask yourself:

  • What realizations have you discovered about yourself or the world because of this struggle?

  • What tools have you created that will help you move through this issue and can be used with future struggle?

  • How does this issue directly tie into the goal or intention you’ve set for yourself, and how can you use it to continue manifesting your goal?

Looking at your struggles in life from this point of view often sheds light on why things happen the way they do, and can bring you closer to your goals. It allows you to see why you needed to experience these things in order to grow or achieve your goal.

Conclusion

“Freedom from the past is available to you when you show up for the assignment in the present” — Gabrielle Bernstein

There’s so much freedom in realizing the struggles you’re facing are assignments on your path to your dreams.

It creates a foundation to begin the work in healing and acceptance.

I never knew that in order to do my highest work I would be forced to accept and love the woman I am right now.

I thought I had this whole self-love talk down by just replacing my negativity with positivity. But in reality I was only buffering and further pushing myself away.

I was attempting to distance the person I’m trying to be from the woman I am, one feel-good mantra at a time.

This disconnection kept me running in circles, chasing my future, but dragging my past issues like a brick.

The future can’t exist without dealing with the past head on.

But once you do, you open yourself up to the Universe that’s busy trying to help you create your dreams. You prove yourself worthy, you can add it to your spiritual resume and get on with creating your highest self.

Take Action!

Make massive change in your life by figuring out how you want it to FEEL every day. I created a 10 minute audio exercise to plug you into your authentic self, so you can start living the life you want today 👇

Click here to get the Feel > Do > Be exercise now!