Lessons learned from the ocean

Hello friend,

How are you? I hope all is well! As I’ve been pondering about what to write about the last few weeks, a memory popped into my mind this morning that created a bit of an “aha” moment and I thought it was worth sharing.

It was July 4, 2015 and I had just moved to California only a month before. I was excited to experience my 1st Independence Day in Huntington Beach as I had heard a lot of hype about the festivities and events that take place there (and yes, if you’ve never experienced it, you really should check it out).

After the traditional 5k and morning parade, a few of us headed to the beach to enjoy the sun rays and play in the ocean. Now, for those that know me well, know that playing in the ocean is NOT my thing (ever since I was a child, I’ve had this irrational fear of sharks…thank you JAWS), however on this 4th of July, I told myself I was going to be brave and get in the water.

My bravery only lasted so long. I stopped inching forward once the water got to my thighs and I suddenly became very aware of the big and powerful waves that were approaching. Being uncertain in how to deal with this “problem”, I instinctually faced my back toward each oncoming wave thinking it would keep me stabilized and allow me to take the brunt without falling over.

No such luck.

With one fell swoop, a wave crashed into me, my legs gave out and I was tumbling to and fro for what seemed like an eternity (although, I’m sure it was only a matter of seconds).  Feeling quite scared after the fact, I quickly exited the ocean and headed to my towel, trying to calm my nerves.  As I sat down, someone nearby said, “I can tell you aren’t from here.” When asked how he had made this observation he stated, “because people who grow up playing in the ocean know you must go through the wave, instead of against it. It’s the path of least resistance.”

And here’s the life lesson.

It’s a natural tendency to avoid pain of any kind. When we experience something disturbing or difficult, we instinctually withdraw, pull back and avoid. But like my experience with that “problematic” wave, resisting is so counterproductive. And as long as there is resistance, that (emotional) pain will always be right behind you and you will exert a lot of energy trying to protect yourself from it. 

So instead, I encourage you to go through the pain and face your fear because I promise that on the other side, there is an ocean of love, peace and freedom awaiting.

Until next time,

KELLY

Are you the windshield....or the bug?

Hello friend,

Growing up, my dad introduced me to a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter called “The Bug.” Over the years, my family and I still occasionally quote a line from the chorus that says, “sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” Although I’m sure you get the analogy, the song suggests that sometimes life all comes together for you and other times, you are hit with difficulty and strife. We all most definitely get our turn at being the “bug” and as of late, I have certainly felt that is the case for me….at least in one aspect of my life.

 As a result, the word “endurance” has been much on my mind as well as how to endure gracefully. I’ve thought about those opportunities I have willingly chosen to endure and although this is not one of those times, there are lessons to be learned (and more importantly applied) from those moments.

So whether your current life circumstances place you in the category of the “windshield” or the “bug,” here are a few thoughts to help you get by when things get hard.

  • ·“No pain, no gain.” We’ve all heard this expression and although I admit, it’s a bit cliché, there is truth in it. If life were always easy breezy, not only would we get bored but we wouldn’t grow as human beings. In order for us to become the very best version of ourselves, it’s crucial that challenges occur.  Once we focus on what we can gain from the difficulty and create a shift in our perspective, the “enduring” becomes much easier to manage. To make my point, I have an example, albeit a bit silly one.

For the last 2 months, I have been following a workout program that is challenging. There are days that the workout is particularly difficult and long (this is one of those things that I choose to endure) and I have 1 of 2 choices to make. When my legs are shaking and my muscles are burning, I can either focus on the pain and be miserable in it (which will lead me to quit) or I can focus on the transformation that is taking place giving me the strength to push just a little bit harder. I’ve learned time and time again that we are stronger than we think. There may be opposition in all things but we can always find the positive in our situation

  • “This too shall pass.”  Fortunately, most things we experience don’t last forever and although it can feel long and arduous while in the middle of it, you may be able to find some peace knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel.  If in the meantime, you are feeling a bit impatient or frustrated, chances are it’s due to a lack of control you have in fixing it. Remember, in life 10% is what happens to you and the other 90% is how you react to it. Therefore, I encourage you to look at how you have overcome previous obstacles and barriers and implement those lessons in coming up with a game plan. Find your super powers (AKA strengths), reach out to your support system and remind yourself of those things you love and that give you energy (self-care).
  • ·Rise above it.  Did you know that the crow is one of the eagle’s biggest pests?  The crow’s behavior is called “mobbing” and it can include loud squawking, dive bombing and flying around the eagle in order to obtain food.  It isn’t until the eagle spreads his 6 ft wing span and rises to an elevation where the crow can no longer breathe that he can rid himself of the nuisance. Like the eagle, it is important that we too lift ourselves up and rise above the tribulation. This can be symbolic, such as looking to a higher power for comfort and guidance.  It could also be quite literal by making some very simple adjustments in your physical demeanor (standing a little taller, placing a smile on your face, looking/reaching towards the sky, placing your shoulders back, etc). Although the effort is small, this creates an instant change in your mood and energy giving you the strength to keep moving forward. Spread your wings, recognize who you truly are knowing you are worthy and capable of rising above any tribulation you are faced with.

Well, that is all for now! As always, if you would like to talk more about what you might be enduring or have any tips/tricks in enduring gracefully, I would love to hear from you. And of course, please feel free to pass this along to anyone else who may benefit.

Until next time,

KELLY

Choose HOPE

Hello friend,

I admit it. I am one that “needs” a plan in my life. I like having as much information as possible so I know what to expect to ensure I create the best possible outcome for myself (whatever that might be). One could argue that perhaps this need is really just about gaining control and having a false sense of security whereas others might think it’s simply good practice. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both but that’s a discussion for another day. :)

Whether you’re a planner or a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of person, we all only have so much control over the events that occur in our lives….and then we rely on a little word called “hope.” Hope can be a powerful force yet so many choose to dismiss it in fear that if we hold onto it, we set ourselves up for possible pain and disappointment. For many (myself included), it’s easier at times to put our faith in the worst case scenario in order to be better prepared if/when things don’t work out as expected. Unfortunately, this does more damage than good. Let me tell you why:

1-It kills joy and impacts our mood. Have you ever tried to experience both positive and negative emotions simultaneously? Go ahead….try it. Happiness and sadness. Hope and despair. Gratitude and dissatisfaction.  It’s nearly impossible. When you choose to focus on one emotion it automatically eliminates the other.

 I understand our need to try and soften the blow by telling ourselves “it” may not work out, but it actually kills the joy and excitement of what’s happening in the moment. We have all have faced disappointment before and managed to work through it. Is setting ourselves up for that possibility really necessary? Trust that you have the capability and the means to overcome those setbacks without preparing yourself for the worst outcome.  Where will you choose your focus and what will set you up for the best success?  

2-It interferes with motivation and places limits on possibilities. When what we hoped for doesn’t work out and we started with the mindset that it wouldn’t, it closes the gap on what we deem possible and can set us up for failure. Our brain will begin to play tricks on us and the inner critic will show up in full force telling us all kinds of false beliefs. Rather than asking questions, finding new solutions or adapting to a new reality, it becomes easy to lose motivation and quit while we’re ahead.

Thomas Edison once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” You are limitless but in order for you to achieve what you set out to do, you must have hope in yourself and in the process. Shift your focus from “challenge” to “opportunity” and allow yourself to learn and grow from those experiences that don’t work out as planned. After all, this is what life is all about. :)

Regardless of what is happening in your life, I encourage you to exercise hope for the best possible outcome. Of course, this certainly does not mean that things will always go our way (oh how I wish they would) but it will allow you to see the good in your future, maintain a positive frame of mind and give you the determination to achieve your goals. If today is looking a bit gloomy and uncertain, just remember that “the sun will come out tomorrow.”

Until next time,

KELLY

Got stress?

Hello friend,

How are things? I hope you’ve had a chance to evaluate your goals over these last few weeks to determine if they are in alignment with what matters most to you. What are you working towards? What progress have you made? I would love to hear from you!

Often times, when we engage in something that is meaningful or important, we can experience feelings of stress and worry. I, for one, have felt an increase of stress over these last few weeks and most of it has been about the future, the unknown, or things completely out of my control.  Not super productive.

So, instead of being filled with worry day after day, I asked myself what am I doing and thinking that’s causing it and how can I better manage it?

One of the primary reasons stress has been my sidekick as of late is avoidance (AKA procrastination). Although I am very passionate and excited about my goals, some of the work that is necessary in achieving these goals has been challenging, time consuming, and not always fun. Rather than focusing on the joy of the future outcome, I’ve chosen to stay stuck in the pain of the difficulty while simultaneously creating stories about why it’s too hard or that I’m not capable of such things.  

In addition, although I gave you sage advice in the last newsletter about not filling your time with busy-ness, I fell into that trap. It’s easy (for me) to get caught up in the non-essentials because it strokes the old ego.  Sometimes I forget that busy-ness doesn’t =personal value/worth. Unfortunately, not only does it create a longer to-do list (which really is a stress provoker all on its own) but it also keeps me away from those things that truly matter most causing major burn out and….well, stress.

So, what to do about it? Here are a few tips I have implemented (you knew they were coming):

  • First and most important is to maintain a positive frame of mind, not only with the task at hand but also in your ability to complete it. In doing so, your quality of work will be greater and the process will be much more enjoyable. Part of this includes having a healthy balance between work and play. I tend to get sucked into what I’m doing telling myself I don’t have time for anything else in fear I’ll get further and further behind. Unless there will actually be consequences if you don’t hit a particular deadline, trust that you’re exactly where you need to be and listen to what your body (and mind) needs in that moment. Which leads me to my next point…
  • Adjust your expectations and know your limitations. Be realistic with your time-frame and time management, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and allocate responsibilities to others if possible. Setting goals is great but we must factor in everything else that’s going on before placing unnecessary pressure on ourselves to hit an unrealistic deadline.  The journey itself is just as important (if not more) than the outcome you’re trying to achieve.
  • Prioritize what must be done first and take action steps each day, even if it’s small. To help with the avoidance factor, block out a time on your calendar daily with 1 task or set a timer (even if for just 10 minutes) to spend time working on it. This tricks your mind into just getting started-it alleviates the “pain” knowing that the “suffering” is limited. Chances are, you’ll actually end up spending more time than you allotted but the key is finding the motivation to begin.
  • Last, but not least, make sure that when that stress and angst comes up, that you cope with it appropriately. It’s really easy to engage in those “quick-fix” behaviors that make us feel great in the moment but then cause regret, guilt, and dissatisfaction later on. Instead of eating copious amounts of junk food (this would be my normal go to), practice breathing, check your self-talk, connect with nature, meditate, listen to comedy…anything that will lift you up and get you back to that positive frame of mind. You’ll be much better off in the end.

Well, that’s it for now.  Do you have any other tips and tricks? If so, shoot me a message! In the meantime, let’s all have a happy and stress free week.  Because let’s face it….we’ve got this!

Until next time,

Kelly

Are you a goal setter?

Hello friend!

How are things? It’s that time of year again where for many individuals there is much discussion on goal setting and the excitement of what “could be” for the next 365 days. I, for one, am one of “those” people. Although I agree that January is a great time to reflect, evaluate and create a vision for the year, I understand that if it’s the ONLY time we do so, it will lead to failure and disappointment.  So, here are a few useful tips to help you succeed in goal setting all year long and helping you get what you truly want!

Tip #1: Focus on what matters MOST. In the past, I created long lists of to do’s and filled up my calendar with tasks so as to appear I was REALLY working hard at improving my life and chasing after those dreams. Although it looked really productive, I often found myself feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. I was creating goals that stroked my ego but weren’t necessarily fulfilling or rewarding. This year, I decided to FIRST write out a list of what matters most and then I asked myself “what do I want this to look like” and “how can I achieve it?” Rather than filling up my calendar (and my time) with busy-ness, I am now in alignment with what is most important to me and feeling fulfilled.

Tip #2: Be COMMITTED. As we all know, it’s super easy to be 100% on board in the beginning but as time goes by and life happens, it’s natural to put those goals on the back-burner or forget about them entirely….particularly if we aren’t getting the results as fast as we would like. My advice to you is to be committed to the PROCESS without worrying about the results and trust that it will sort itself out. Remember those universal truths that “for every action, there is an equal  and opposite reaction” and “we reap what we sow.”  This allows you to stay in a positive frame of mind and keep you focused on the end goal rather than what’s happening in the here and now.     

Tip #3: Align your environment with your goals! Be intentional and create an atmosphere that will set you up for success. For example, hang pictures on the wall that have meaning, surround yourself with those who share similar goals and mindset, rid yourself of food that is tempting to eat but not good for you, and spend your time in places that fill your soul.  If we want change in our lives we must ACTIVELY do something different to create that change.

Tip #4: Be ACCOUNTABLE.  We all know that having someone to “report” to is necessary if we want to reach our goals. In my experience, when I have shared my goal with another, it makes my goal come alive and a reality. Yes, it can be scary taking a risk and putting yourself on the line when sharing a personal goal, but the more we say it out loud, the more we believe we can achieve it…which leads to my last tip!

Tip #5: Be open to the idea that you ARE limitless! You really are an AMAZING human being who can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t allow those limiting beliefs or fears get in your way (and if you do, just refer back to my previous letter in how to manage those painful emotions). Your thoughts only have as much power as you allow (whether positively or negatively) so use that power for good and create a life you deserve!

Well, that’s it for now! I would love to hear what your goals are for this upcoming year and support you in any way possible. Hey, we can even be accountability partners! :) I hope you find these tips helpful in making 2018 your very best year yet. 

Till next time,
KELLY

BELIEVE

Hello friend,

It’s that time of year again where the magic of Christmas is in the air and the question of “do you believe?” is frequently asked. While growing up my mom would place a sign on our wall that said, “in this house we believe in Santa Clause.”  My parents made great efforts to ensure my belief in Santa held strong with signed letters by Santa and Mrs. Clause, sleigh bells as gifts and droppings from reindeer. Even when I finally discovered the truth about where our gifts really came from, my sister and I were told that only those who believe got presents.  Although it was a fun way to keep the magic alive, it was quite the contradiction to the typical view of “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality.

Choosing to believe isn’t something we do only once a year. It’s a daily practice (practice being the key word) and one that can change our entire perspectives. Each and every day we are bombarded with choices from the moment our alarm goes off to the time we go to bed however, choosing to believe that things will work out and understanding that life is happening FOR us (instead of to us) may be the most crucial choice we make.  Is this always easy? Of course not (hence the word PRACTICE) but what’s the alternative? Living a life in disappointment and frustration? That’s not a life worth living.

If you are one who struggles with disbelief (in any capacity) start paying attention to your thoughts because what we focus on, grows. For example, have you ever gone car shopping for a particular vehicle and suddenly, it’s all you see on the road? They are everywhere! Although that style of car has always been there, you’ve missed it because your focus was elsewhere. This same principle applies to our outlook on life. When the belief is that things go inherently wrong, that people are generally unkind or that we are lacking, it’s the only “vehicle” we see.  It isn’t until we shift our focus to what we DO want that we’ll get an “upgrade” in life. By doing so, it changes our expectations and alters the outcome.

In addition, might I suggest that regardless of what is happening around you (or to you), try and stay in a beautiful state of mind. Don’t get me wrong here-I’m not equating this to happiness. In fact, I’d say to always be happy is an unrealistic expectation. No, instead, I would suggest  to stay engaged in any uplifting or positive emotion such as curiosity, gratitude, determination, peace, amusement, empathy, and so on. This limits the amount of unnecessary suffering and improves the kind of questions we ask ourselves to keep things in the right perspective.

If we continue with the “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality, we might be waiting a very long time to see the magic happen in our lives.  To live a fulfilled, happy and beautiful life, choose to BELIEVE and then act accordingly. It is my hope that for this upcoming year, each one of us will commit to be believing and to look for the miracles every day.  
 
Until next time!
Kelly

Our inner critic

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Hello friend,

How are you?! Over these last few months, I have been making more of an effort to chase after my own dreams and do you know what I’ve noticed? That darn inner critic keeps trying to interfere. “What on earth are you doing?” “Are you crazy….you can’t do this!” “What if you fail?” “Who do you think you are?” These are just a few of the “regulars” that come up pretty consistently. Does anyone else relate or is it just me?

 To be perfectly honest, my inner critic has been my Achilles Heel my entire life and more often than not, it’s won. It’s something that I’ve battled silently for years because somehow I believed I was the only one who struggled with such a thing and felt I was different. Perhaps it’s silly but only recently have I come to recognize it’s something we ALL experience and it shows up in different shapes and sizes.

So, here’s the truth. That inner critic of ours isn’t going anywhere..and do you know why? Because our brains are hard-wired for survival. Not happiness. SURVIVAL. The inner critic is there to simply protect us from any perceived threat or potential danger and it will cause all kinds of fear to ensure you run away. You’ll start to create stories as to why something can’t be done, you’ll justify all day long why it can’t work out, you’ll give up before you even start because it’s safer. I don’t say this to cause doom and gloom. Quite the contrary! I tell you this so you can separate yourself from it. You are NOT the little voice in your head and you certainly don’t have to listen to it. Stop fighting this pointless battle and start making some preemptive strikes of your own! 

Tip #1: Affirmations. Henry Ford once said, “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right either way.” If we each have an internal dialogue going on all day every-day, don’t you think it’s wise we make it a point to set some time aside (preferably in the AM) each day to practice speaking kindly to ourselves? This isn’t some kind of fru-fru, let’s hug a tree kind of thing. It’s meant to remind ourselves of who we truly are and what you want. I keep a list of affirmations on my phone in addition to a few written statements on my mirror.  I say them OUT LOUD with emotion every morning and it takes a whole 2 minutes (if that) to complete. Feeling skeptical? I dare you to try it out.

Tip #2: Feel the fear and do it anyway. If you want to do something but are allowing fear to get in the way because of the limitless “what if” questions, I challenge you to take one simple action each day to move you there. Just DO something.  By taking action, you’ll see that the perceived threat wasn’t a reality and the fear will no longer hold power over you. Follow Amelia Aerhart’s counsel: “the most effective way to do it, is to do it.” 

Tip #3 Change the story. You’re the author of your life so why choose to focus on a (false) story you’ve been telling yourself that A: hasn’t done you any good and B: has probably made you feel lousy. Remember, you are NOT that inner voice. Evaluate your core belief about yourself and how it developed. Life isn’t always going to be rose colored glasses but I appreciate Hal Elrod’s view who once expressed that although we don’t have control over what happens to us, we can choose the perspective and life lesson we are to gain from it. If you don’t like your story, write a new one (literally).

I hope you find these tips helpful and for those who go to battle with your inner critic each day, I encourage you to at least try one of the suggestions I gave you. Yes, it can feel uncomfortable or strange but different doesn’t always mean bad. In fact, in this case I would suggest different could be very good. Trust me, for a girl who once suffered greatly because of my devoted trust to my inner critic, I can tell you it’s worth taking the risk. And as always, feel free to reach out if you’d like to talk more about it.

Until next time!

Kelly