The Definition of Insanity

the-definition-of-insanity

Great googily moogily!

When it rains it pours. Like I mentioned in my last blog post, my self-hosted website was trashed by hackers. They trashed it so badly that my website disappeared. Instead of the blue screen of death I had the white screen of death. Nada. Nothing. I couldn’t even get in through the back door. The web hosting company was non-responsive until I hit them up on Twitter.

That’s when I learned how bad the hacking was. The hosting company couldn’t even roll back to the last full back up. It was dirtied up with malware, too. And before you ask, yes, I even paid extra for regular security scans.

So I came back to my big little wordpress dot com space. This is where I started my blog back in 2007. And all I wanted was a little corner of the cyber universe to write.

Then my head got too big.

The online business thing started booming and self-hosted websites were the way to go. At first I self-hosted with the company I buy my domain names from – but my website got hacked in 2010 and I moved everything to an new company and had no problems – none – for almost 7 years.

For 7 years I pretended to have an online business.

What I really had was a blog. And every once in a while I’d teach a class where 3 or 4 or maybe 6 people would sign up and 2 would show up.

A lot of work for very little return. But I’d rinse and repeat, get frustrated, quit, start again.

I became the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

<sigh>

The same weekend my website croaked, the USB connector inside my external hard drive broke. I pretty much have the life of my website – all my content and graphics – stored on it, as well as thousands of photographs.

Oh. My. God. I get it. I really get it.

Dear Universe –

I’ve heard and received the message loud and clear – I’m not supposed to have an “online” business. And no, you did not have to make the final point. You did not need to break the USB connector in my external hard drive. But I get it. Really, I do. And thankfully, the external hard drive is an easy fix and none of the content on there is lost (a-hem, all my pictures from Ireland and Scotland, thank you!)

I get it. Really, I do.

It’s time to be creative. And offline. Not having my online business to distract me, I tapped into a demand for crocheted messy bun hats. A friend posted a link to a pattern on my Facebook wall. I didn’t really like the pattern, so I found a free one on Ravelry and used it for size and then created my own patterns with my favorite stitches. I posted a picture of the first one I made and the orders came rushing in.

Over 30 messy bun hat orders. And “Oh, can you make a scarf to match it?” Sure! If I had known the demand was going to be this crazy, I would have been making hats 3 months ago 🙂

crochet_hats_scarves

It’s take me forever to hear this message, to receive this message, and to allow myself to release and let go this notion of teaching online classes. My creativity and the pretty things I make are speaking loud and clear. And you can browse my Esty shop at your convenience.

xoxo

Peggy

PS: Yes, I’ll still be writing over here, too!

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How To Be In Loving Service To Yourself And Others

how-to-be-in-loving-service-to-yourself

I no longer have the desire to be famous.

There. I said it.

Ever since I was six years old I’ve had a recurring problem: I was never happy with where I was in the present moment.

I remember my 6th birthday party. I remember making my wish when I blew out the candles. I remember some big person, maybe it was my dad, asking me what I wished for. And I remember saying I wanted to be 10. Because 10 was two numbers and two numbers were better than one.

Damn.

And it snowballed from there. When I was 10 I wanted to be 13. When I was 13 I wanted to be 18. When I was 18 I wanted to be 20. I was never satisfied or content or happy just being where I was at any given point in time.

All this wanting morphed into a belief that I should be farther along my path than I really am. Which led me to develop my overachieving and overdoing and overly responsible habits. If someone was going to be 110%, it was going to be me.

It’s taken me nearly 53 years to finally figure out that there is no such thing as being more than 100%. All of me equals 100%. More of me, more of 100% is a figment of my imagination. And an unreasonable goal to aspire to.

The person I’m hardest on is myself. All this constant striving and driving for the illusive carrot at the end of a stick is just that: an illusion. And a vain illusion at that.

If I’m hardest on myself, it finally dawned on me that I probably come across as hard on others, too. As if I know what’s best for you. Ha! I don’t. I have no idea what’s best for you. Only you do.

So where’s this leading me?

I’ve decided to turn the dial on my kaleidoscope of life. My current view is still massively skewed to illusions, delusions, untruths, and false beliefs. I need to be in loving service to myself so that I can learn to be in loving service to others.

Here’s how I’ll be in loving service, first to myself and then to you:

Stop taking so much of what happens around me personally.

What others think about me is none of my business. Nothing anyone thinks or says about me is about me. It’s about their perception of me and the darn stinking truth is not too many people are thinking all that much about me anyway. They’re worrying about what they think I might think about them.

Press pause more often.

It’s time to take my own advice and press pause. I jump to conclusions based on limited information and fill in the gaps with my own assumptions. Most of the time, I reach an incorrect ending.

Spend more time on my yoga mat.

And this time I’m not just going through the poses. I will incorporate awareness with each breath and with each movement. Even though I teach yoga, I’m always, always, always a student first.

I don’t know everything.

If I can’t help myself, I’ll find someone who can. If I can’t help you, I’ll connect you with someone who can.

poem-24-awareness

Remain curious.

Somewhere along the line I stopped being curious. Why? Because my know-it-all monkey mind believed it knew everything. I think it still does so I need to counter balance it with curiosity. A few months ago I felt the urge to paint. Who me? Paint? This took a generous amount of curiosity and the suspension of many false beliefs about my own artistic abilities.

Take risks.

Sure I can play it safe and go for the easy plays. Which, of course, creates a false sense of security and a false sense of self-importance. Taking risks means showing up real and stepping into uncertain and unknown territory. It also means shedding layers of my own pretense and make believe.

Do more of what I love and make no apologies for it.

I make things. I write stuff. I paint. (Yes, gosh darn it! I paint.) And I teach. I love to teach. I’m in my element when I’m teaching. Most of the time I teach what I need to learn even when I think I already know it.

Stop multi-tasking.

Sure, at times it’s necessary but not all. the. time. Multitasking is something I can no longer claim to be the epitome of a successful cat herder, writer, teacher, project manager, etc. Multitasking is one big reason why I find it so damn hard to be right here right now. Maybe you do, too.

To remain open to the infinite possibilities of whatever I want to happen.

Again, it’s time to take my own advice and drop the how of things. My monkey mind is determined to convince me that it knows exactly how things should play out. It thinks it knows how to achieve exactly what I want. The truth is, my monkey mind knows jack squat. My monkey mind may come up with two or three ways (maybe four) to achieve X. And then it tries to convince me that these are the only possibilities. Talk about limited thinking. The Universe knows way more than I do. Like galaxies upon galaxies upon galaxies more than I do. The Universe knows unlimited possibilities and outcomes. As long as I’m clear about the WHAT, I can trust that the Universe will deliver on the how.

To pay closer attention to what’s going on inside me rather than outside of me.

The inner quite of discontent. The inner rustle of restlessness. Whatever you want to call it. For me it feels like course sandpaper being rubbed on the inside of my skin. Mindful time on my yoga mat will definitely help with this.

Reduce my time wasters.

A few months ago my twitter account was hacked and I was locked out.

No matter what I did to recover my account, I got caught in the never ending black hole of Twitter non-support. At first I panicked. I had nearly 5,000 followers on twitter. What would they do without me? Excuse me while I have a good belly laugh.

Okay. I’m back.

I was Twitterless for about a month. Yes, I’m back on Twitter, and no, I don’t have 5,000 followers. More like 200 and that’s sweet!

A few months ago I deleted my Facebook “biz” page for my website.

I culled my friends list. I unfollowed a bunch of people who cluttered my newsfeed with mind junk. I’m still not done here. I find myself scrolling through my feed looking for…I don’t know what I’m looking for. Whatever it is, it’s NOT on Facebook.

Recently, I lost my website.

Poof. It disappeared into the vast ether of cyber space. Apparently, hackers got to it and injected all kinds of malware and bullshit and left me with the white screen of nothing. Talk about pressing pause and reassessing. My hosting company said they can roll me back to the last clean copy of my website, October 26, 2016. I’m strongly considering saying aidos. I had grand plans and sales pages and a member forum and maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree. Nothing has ever really materialized from all the ways I’ve tried to have an online business.

But offline…I have a thriving side business teaching yoga and making things that are pretty. Hmmm…I think the Universe is calling. Time for me to answer.

As always, I’m a work in progress.

I’m not aiming for perfection or 110% or to be the best of the best. I’m chiseling away the rough edges and peeling away invisible walls so my light can shine brighter from the inside out.

how-to-be-in-loving-service-to-yourself-and-others

I’d love to hear from you. How are you in loving service to yourself and others?

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Instant Relaxation In 5 Minutes

While my main website is down for the count, I’ve resurrected my old blog on WordPress.com, SerendipitySmiles. It’s like coming home all over again…
breathe-in

Instant Relaxation

Slow down
notice
bring conscious awareness to your breath

Notice your inhale
is it shallow
is it deep
is it somewhere in between

No judgement
simply observe

Notice your exhale
is it short
is it long
is it somewhere in between

no judgment
simply observe

Stay with your breath
right here
right now

count each inhale
begin with 1
you may lose track

and that’s okay
begin from 1 again

stay here
stay connected to this moment

keep your mind focused
on this one thing
your breath

inhale “I am”
exhale “I am now”

you are here
you are now

take a deep inhale
imagine your breath
starting at your toes
traveling up your backside
notice your calves
become aware of your hamstrings
say hello to the small of your back
feel your spine
back of your neck
allow your breath to rest
on the crown of your head

allow and follow your exhale
as it leaves from the front of your body
releasing tension
stress, and worry

exhale
face exhales
throat exhales
solar plexus exhales
abdomen exhales
thighs and legs exhale
arms and hands exhale
feet exhale

become aware of your whole body
inhale as if your whole body is inhaling
exhale as if your whole body is exhaling

inhale awareness to the right side of your body
notice any tightness or tension as your internally scan
from the right side of your brain
through your face, shoulder, arm
hand, fingers, chest, ribcage,
right side of heart, right lung
abdomen, hip, leg, foot

No judgement
simply observe

Take 5 deep belly breaths as you continue
to internally scan the right side of your body

Ask the right side of your body if there’s
anything you need to know right now
Ask the right side of your body
if it needs your attention on a specific area
if you receive a response
allow your breath to travel there
allow your mind to follow your breath
allow yourself to see from behind your eyes
inhale awareness to the left side of your body
notice any tightness or tension as your internally scan
from the left side of your brain
through your face, shoulder, arm
hand, fingers, chest, ribcage,
left side of heart, left lung
abdomen, hip, leg, foot

No judgement
simply observe

Take 5 deep belly breaths as you continue
to internally scan the left side of your body

Ask the left side of your body if there’s
anything you need to know right now
Ask the left side of your body
if it needs your attention on a specific area
if you receive a response
allow your breath to travel there
allow your mind to follow your breath
allow yourself to see from behind your eyes

Take a deep relaxing cleansing breath
exhale with a sigh
feel the vibration of sound

inhale deeply
exhale with a sigh
notice where you feel the vibration of sound
in your body

allow your breath to settle into the space
where you feel the sound vibrating

inhale your arms to sky
exhale as you bring your palms together
connect your thumbs to your sacred heart space
take a deep belly breath
as you exhale lower your chin to chest
honoring yourself and the light that shins within

Namaste

Download the meditation from Podbean!

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40+ Simple Ways to Kick Your Over-Thinking Monkey Mind Blues

Over-thinking

Have you ever been stuck over-thinking something that happened or something you think will happen only to get your knickers in a bunch?

Right now, what recent past event has you on instant replay 24/7?

Are you “woulda, coulda, shoulding” on yourself because you’re upset at a thing or a person or even yourself?

Maybe it’s not a past event. Maybe you’ve got the future on speed dial because you’re “what iffing” your three favorite doomsday scenarios.

Let’s face it — over-thinking leaves you drained and exhausted:

  • Over-thinking leads to analysis-paralysis and robs you of your peace and poise of mind.
  • Over-thinking is mental exhaustion on the level of running a marathon every day.
  • Over-thinking is a mind-numbing habit that keeps you stuck from living a happy, healthy life.
  • Over-thinking and analysis-paralysis keeps most of us rooted in fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
  • Over-thinking a problem, incessant analysis of replaying a past event or a future event keeps most of us three steps away from our happy.
  • Over-thinking is emotional blackmail that we do to ourselves.

 

This over-thinking thing is a fish story that goes from guppy to Sperm Whale in 0-60 seconds or less.

I know, it happens to the best of us.

Not too long ago I received an email from my manager at work, “I just heard that you might have all the technologies we use at The Company listed on your LinkedIn profile. That might not be a good idea.”

I quickly checked my profile and simply deleted the one sentence that listed a few of the technologies I managed the implementations for. No worries. Not a big deal. I’m not looking for a job and I very rarely check my LinkedIn account.

And then the thought of someone snooping on me wrapped around my brain and started squeezing.

I checked my LinkedIn profile again. I clicked on “who’s viewed my profile.” An anonymous person from The Company had been lurking. And that just pissed me off. I began deleting every single reference to The Company and then as the over-thinking reached a deafening roar, I deleted my LinkedIn account and all my connections. It didn’t stop there.

Oh no. I went to work the next day and began my own research.

Despite the fact that I shot off my own foot by deleting my account, I was a woman on a mission. I checked the Company’s information policy and learned that anything public facing was well, public. So I clicked through TheCompany.com and went straight to the external job postings for The Company.

Sure enough, the open IT job postings have specific technologies listed.

And then I did a quick search on LinkedIn using a specific technology + The Company. Low and behold it turns up quite a bit of information including for external job postings with specific technology requirements. I could spend 15 minutes on LinkedIn and figure out every single technology used at The Company.

Turns out I deleted my account for no reason. I got pissed off for no reason. I reacted without ever thinking to ask my manager to explain how I was in error. I allowed over-thinking to ruin an entire day.

I did it to myself. You do it to yourself. We insist on keeping a problem a problem by over-thinking it to death. To make matters worse, my recent over-thinking was rather benign…stupid even. I may think I’ve mastered the big stuff life throws my way, but the little things, the pin pricks of life still find their way in to poke at my peace, to test my poise of mind.

10 Ways Over-thinking Destroys Your Happiness and Robs You of Your Peace and Poise of Mind

  1. Over-thinking a problem will keep any problem a problem, which will keep you stuck inside the same problem until you quit thinking about it.
  2. Over-thinking a situation will make the situation worse in direct proportion to the time and energy you spend over-thinking it.
  3. Over-thinking anything prevents your creative problem solving skills from bubbling up.
  4. Over-thinking makes you worry, and worry is nothing more than your imagination concocting a negative future state.
  5. Over-thinking is a time suck — you’re so busy in a negative future state or negative past situation (which you can’t change) that you completely forget about right here right now.
  6. Over-thinking robs you of energy that could be better focused on things that are worthy of your attention.
  7. Over-thinking leads you to second guessing yourself and creates self-doubt.
  8. Over-thinking is a TNT drama that occurs on a stage, inside your head, where you are the director, producer, actor, actress, supporting cast, key grip, sound manager, and executive assistant to the executive assistant of the casting director.
  9. Over-thinking fabricates problems and gory “what if” horror stories.
  10. Over-thinking creates heightened feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, fear, doubt, indecision, confusion, etc., as if whatever you are over-thinking is happening in real life.

When you break up with over-thinking it’s like writing your own “get out of jail free” card. It doesn’t cost you anything to end your relationship with the drama inside your head. You can decide to focus on things in the present that are deserving of your time and attention whenever you choose.

Before you screw up your day or you week or even your month, check in with your thoughts. What are you over-thinking that’s pissing you off, that’s got you trapped in analysis paralysis, that’s got you shoulding on yourself, or worse, that’s got you what-iffing your life away?

40+ Simple Ways to Kick Your Over-Thinking Monkey Mind Blues

Stop! Enough!

The next time your monkey mind begins to produce a drama worthy of an Oscar, silently shout: “Stop! Enough!” Change the channel to something peaceful.

Visualization

Train your mind through visualization techniques. When your monkey mind gloms on to something from the past it wants to relive or gets its hooks into a future scenario, replace what your monkey mind wants to watch with something you want to watch.

Visualize a happy memory or simply allow your mind to sink into its happy place. For me, my happy place is sitting in my beach chair with my toes wrapped in warm sand, a good book, and the sound of the Atlantic Ocean as waves greet the shore.

Just Breathe

Turn your attention and focus on our breath.

  • Focus on your inhales and exhales.
  • Slow your breathing down.
  • Take deeper breaths.
  • Relax your jaw.
  • Unclench your fists.
  • Breathe in; Breathe out.
  • Rinse and repeat as often as necessary.

Go For A Walk or a Run

  • Lace up your walking shoes and grab your iPod with your favorite uplifting playlists.
  • Get out of your head, move your body.
  • Swing your arms. Do a few lunges.
  • Walk it out. Sprint. Focus on each step.
  • Pay attention to the way your foot makes contact with the pavement.
  • Get your feel good endorphins flowing through your body.
  • Tune in to the movement of your body and not the instant replay of last week’s argument.

Journal

Sometimes, yesterday’s problems or tomorrow’s worries just want to be heard. Take a few minutes when you wake to simply write them down. I have found journaling to be especially effective for my own monkey mind. I keep a small journal with me (I have one that fits in my purse) and I’ve made an agreement with my monkey mind. If the complaint or drama even has the inkling of being persistent, I write it down.

26 Reasons Why I Keep a Journal

  1. It brings me clarity
  2. I can weigh the pros and cons without hearing anyone else give their two-cent opinion
  3. It helps me focus
  4. For accountability
  5. It’s a safe place for all my innermost desire
  6. I can yell in my journal and no one will hear me raise my voice
  7. It increases my self-awareness
  8. It reduces stress
  9. It quiets my monkey mind
  10. I can track my own progress
  11. It becomes great source material
  12. It’s a convenient storage location for thoughts, quotes and inspirational messages
  13. For to-do lists
  14. For done lists (I LOVE my done lists!)
  15. For achievements
  16. A place to work through my struggles
  17. A place to freely complain and then release
  18. A safe place to face my obstacles and deal with them head-on
  19. Questions for the universe when I don’t have any answers
  20. It’s my own self-learning guide
  21. It gives me peace of mind
  22. It’s a dream catcher
  23. It’s a vision illuminator
  24. For answers from the universe when I’m quiet enough to hear my “inner knower
  25. It’s an idea incubator
  26. It’s a judgment-free zone

Engage In Your Favorite Hobby

Over-thinking is not productive. In fact, it’s in cahoots with procrastination and making excuses. Over-thinking produces no results and offers no solutions. Switch gears and do something you enjoy!

  • Read
  • Crochet
  • Knit
  • Hike
  • Bike
  • Paint
  • Garden
  • Workout
  • Dance
  • Sing
  • Play
  • Build
  • Cook
  • Bake
  • Organize

Be Mindful

What-ever you decide to do, engage your full attention on that activity.

  • Be mindful of each word your read.
  • Be mindful of each stitch you crochet or knit.
  • Be mindful of the sights and sounds as you hike or bike.
  • Be mindful of the texture of your paint and the colors you’re using.
  • Be mindful of the scents of the flowers in your garden.
  • Be mindful of each rep as you do sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and lunges.
  • Be mindful of each dance step.
  • Be mindful of each note as you sing.
  • Be mindful when you’re goofing off and playing in the sandbox with your kids.
  • Be mindful of each nail you hammer.
  • Be mindful of the curve of the bell pepper as you slice and dice one for your salad.
  • Be mindful of the thoughts you think and the beliefs you attach to each thought.
  • Be mindful of the words you use, whether you’re talking to yourself or talking to others.
  • Be mindful of your actions – are they pulling you closer to the life you want or pushing you farther away?

Stand Up for Yourself

One of the biggest reasons why over-thinking gets the best of you is because you’re not standing up for yourself. Your boundaries may be weak or non-existent. Even if you have them, you get incensed when someone tramples across them. Your boundaries are your responsibility to enforce. If someone crosses them, speak up.

In my case, I felt that my integrity was called into question. Or at the very least my entire background in information security was put into question. Instead of stewing in self-righteous anger, I emailed my manager with the results of my research and I did let him know how much it bothered me and how creeped out I felt that someone from The Company was “snooping.”

Journaling helped me figure out why I was feeling what I was feeling. I even wrote out the email to my manager inside my journal first. By standing up for myself, I was able to let go of the drama that was getting bigger and bigger in my head. Sure, I had to wait the weekend before my manager and I spoke about this, but he let me know he received my email.

He heard me. Right there I won 90% of the inner TNT drama. The rest I took care of by kickboxing on Saturday and then by getting my butt kicked by my personal trainer on Sunday. I was simply too tired to over-think anything.

Your turn – leave a comment and share what works for you when your over-thinking monkey mind wants to rule the roost. Is there something I’ve suggested here that you’ll experiment with the next time your monkey mind gets its knickers in bunch?

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Grab Your Fab!

If you liked this article you’ll want to Grab Your Fab today. My daily fab messages are short, sweet, and sometimes sassy. They’ll greet you every morning, Monday – Friday…and they’re a great way to start your day!

Grab Your Daily Fab!

Vanquish Your Fear Once and For All

Vanquish Fear

Did you feel that?

That intense feeling that strangles your heart and constricts your throat?

Maybe you’re not sure why but you’re afraid. Afraid of putting yourself out there because you think you’ll make a fool of yourself if you showed the world who you really are. Maybe you’re afraid of letting go of a relationship that is crushing you. Maybe you’re afraid of quitting a job or a business that is sucking your soul dry. Maybe you’re afraid that you don’t have what it takes to live the life of your dreams.

So you stay stuck.

And allow fear to rule nearly every choice and decision you make.

A Fearless Lesson From My Garden

“Beauty: The ability to be completely and absolutely and openly yourself.” ~ Deena Metzger

The other day I was out weeding my garden and I couldn’t help but notice how fearless and bold my flowers are. The crocus are brave enough to push their way through semi-frozen dirt, unafraid that it might snow again, unafraid that they might be pelted with sleet or hail as winter gives way to spring. They arise from underground, gracing the earth with bursts of sunshine yellow, vibrant violet, and luminous lavender. Sometimes the timing is off a little and winter surprises spring with a snowstorm. The crocus doesn’t fear the snow. It keeps on blooming because no one tells the crocus it can’t bloom.

The daffodils and tulips come next. They bloom side by side without comparing themselves to each other. The tulip doesn’t think, “I wish I could be as yellow as the daffodil,” and the daffodil doesn’t criticize the tulip for being a tulip.

Violas and marigolds are planted together in the same pot. They do not judge the pot; they enhance the pot. The pot, knowing it’s been empty and tucked away in the garage for the winter, is only too happy to accommodate the violas and marigolds and for good measure, the pansies and geraniums, too.

There is no fear in my garden. There’s no judgement, no blame, no apology, no comparison, no jealousy, no anger.

There is only beauty. From the first blooms of spring to the last blooms of summer, each flower is completely and absolutely and openly itself.

When I am completely and absolutely and openly myself, there is no fear. There is only beauty.

When you are completely and absolutely and openly yourself, there is no fear. There is only beauty.

violas

Fear vs. Beauty

Fear contracts. Beauty expands.

Fear is shallow. Beauty runs deep.

Fear is a liar. Beauty radiates truth.

Fear is anxious. Beauty emanates calm, peace, and tranquility.

Fear is exhausting. Beauty knows when to rest and when to dance in the light.

When fear dictates my actions or your actions, neither of us are completely and absolutely and openly ourselves. Maybe you play small. Maybe I believe the lies when fear tells me that I’m not a good photographer or a good wife or a good mom or a good anything, so why bother.

Scaremongering fear, the false evidence that appears real, chokes your drive, strangles your ideas, berates your God given gifts, and convinces you that you’re somehow less than and don’t measure up.

The daffodil doesn’t tell the tulip “you’re too fat,” or “you’re too pink,” or “you’re not very pretty,” or “you’re too old,” or “you’re missing a leaf so you’re not perfect enough to bloom next to me.”

Journal exercise: What would happen if you questioned your fear? Especially, if after you’ve assessed the situation and determined that no, you are not being chased by a bear. Imagine interviewing your fear. What would that conversation look like?

The Two Most Common Fears Exposed

1. The Fear of Being Yourself

In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz writes, “Just being ourself is the biggest fear of humans. We have learned to live our life trying to satisfy other people’s demands. We have learned to live by other people’s points of view because of the fear of not being accepted and of not being good enough for someone else.”

I remember when I first read this in 2002 and how these words penetrated my very being. I had been living my life by another’s point of view because I was scared to death my first husband would walk out and leave me. Guess what? No matter how I accommodated and morphed myself into his point of view, he walked out anyway. My greatest fear of being rejected came true.

I was devastated.

But – as I woke up from the fog of divorce, I realized that I could no longer live in fear of being myself. I came to understand that if I was going through life not being me and the worst happened, that I may as well be myself because as long as I love me, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t. As Byron Katie would say, “it’s my job to love me, not yours.”

You see, I made a pact with my Self: I would no longer break myself for another. I decided that I would no longer dim my light for another to feel better about himself. I decided that I would no longer shrink from or dismiss my God given gifts. I decided to proclaim my own worthiness and good enough status and take my rightful place among the stars.

Journal Exercise: What would your life feel like if you proclaimed your own worthiness and took your rightful place among the stars?

2. The Fear of Criticism

One of my favorite books is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It’s the grand daddy of all personal success books, and yes, I highly recommend it. “The fear of criticism,” Hill writes, “robs man of his initiative, destroys his power of imagination, limits his individuality, takes away his self-reliance, and does him (or her) damage in a hundred other ways…Criticism will plant FEAR in the human heart, or resentment, but it will not build love or affection.”

Holy moly bat fans.

For most of us, our collective fear of criticism is the biggest mind fuck of all. We rob ourselves of our greatest joys and gifts by comparing ourselves to others. If you’re a beginning artist, you may compare your work to Picasso and never pick up your paint brush again. If you’re a writer, you may hide your work in a digital file that never touches the lives of others. You may lack the confidence to give birth to your great idea that may save the world. Instead, you sit on the couch and mindlessly surf through 500 channels, numbing your creativity.

We fling blame and shame around to make ourselves feel better ourselves. And to justify our own lack of initiative to take action we criticize and make fun of others. And if you’re on the receiving end of that criticism, you drop your camera, quit writing, or you turn your attention to pursuing what everyone else says you should do.

Journal Exercise: How has your fear of criticism impacted your life?

It’s Time to Wake Up

I’m not going to lie. It’s scary to wake up and decide to listen to your own inner wisdom rather than the collective white noise of fear. Some of you would rather hang onto your insecurity blanket of miserableness because you’re afraid that if you shrug it off you’ll be alone.

I was that person who clung to the miserableness I knew. I was that person who quit taking photographs when my first husband told me I wasn’t that good. Never mind that I had evidence that proved him wrong. Since 1996, when I sold my first photographic image, people had been buying my photo art. I put my camera down in 2001 and didn’t pick it back up for nearly eight years.

A few summers ago, I entered one of my photos in a photo art contest for the Hopkington State Fair. As my husband and I walked through the barns where all the art was on display, I came upon the photo I submitted and was pleasantly surprised to see a blue first place ribbon attached to the frame.

And now? I’m getting ready for my first gallery showing on June 7, 2014.

Who’s not good enough?

If I hadn’t weeded through my fear and uncovered and released this particular persistent subconscious memory, my camera would still be in a box lost in my basement.

The Persistence of Fear Based Memory

Vanquishing your fear is a process of uncovery. It’s not something you can wave a magic wand over and *poof* it’s gone. Sorry dear reader, your amygdala, where the fear factor resides deep inside your brain, is here to stay. Most of your fear, the false evidence that loves to appear real, is mostly the persistence of memory. It’s the programming you received from your parents who received it from their parents who had the same programming passed down to them from previous generations.

You’re told “no” more than “yes.” You’re told what you can’t do more than what you can do. You’re told what you should do rather than being given permission to do what you may feel called to do. Well meaning people harp on your weaknesses rather than uplift and encourage your strengths.

The fear of criticism eats away at your soul. The fear of being yourself scares the crap out of you because, oh my gosh, what will people think of you?

If you want to vanquish your fears, you must uncover the programming you’ve received since birth. Examine each line of code and determine if it is useful or still adds value to your life. This isn’t about exploring your navel day in and day out. You don’t need to find a cave and close yourself off from the world to uncover your fear. Nor do you have to spend gobs of money or hours and hours in therapy…unless, of course, you want to.

3 Tips to Practice Vanquishing Your Fear

Tip #1: Without judgment, monitor your inner dialogue, or your mind chatter. Notice the words you use about yourself and others. Ruiz writes, “misuse of the word is how we pull each other down and keep each other in a state of fear and doubt.”

Journal Exercise: Without judgment, are you using your words to blame others, complain about others, and / or to talk poorly about yourself? In what ways can you change this inner dialogue so that your words and thoughts are used to uplift and affirm others and yourself?

Tip #2: Focus on gratitude, love, and beauty. Without judgment watch your thoughts and the thoughts you attach belief to. Fear based thinking revolves around not having enough, not being enough, not doing enough, low self-worth, lack of confidence, etc. Again this goes back to monitoring your inner dialogue. What you focus your time and attention on increases and manifests in your life.

Journal Exercise: Would you rather have your life expand, increase, and completely open up in gratitude, love, and beauty or would you rather have your life decrease, contract, and be diminished by fear based thoughts. Using both scenarios, describe a typical fear based day and typical gratitude based day. Which day do you prefer?

Tip #3: Create time and space for quiet time or meditation or what I like to call “sacred silence.” If you’re like me, you have a busy schedule. Extra time is hard to come by. Even if you’re not like me, you probably still have a busy schedule and sacred silence seems like a far off dream. Finding time for sacred silence is easier than it seems but it does require you to set firm boundaries.

Directions for Sacred Silence

“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.” ~ Maya Angelou

  • Begin with small increments of sacred time – start with 5 minutes in the morning or in the evening.
  • Declare a small space in your bedroom, office, bathroom, porch, or wherever you can shut out the rest of the world for five minutes.
  • No one is allowed to enter your sacred space during your sacred silence time (this is why the firm boundaries are necessary.)
  • Sit or stand comfortably.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Inhale deeply and roll your shoulders to your ears.
  • Exhale slowly and allow your shoulders to slide down your back.
  • Inhale deeply and expand your heart.
  • Exhale slowly and release your jaw. Relax your face.
  • Notice your thoughts without attachment. Allow them to float in and float out.
  • When your thoughts are free from belief or attachment, you may, if you choose, simply ask your Inner Wisdom for guidance or direction.
  • Inhale and listen.
  • Exhale and listen.
  • Spend as much time in sacred silence as you need. Rinse and repeat throughout the day. You may want to record the guidance you receive in your journal.

Practice Vanquishing Your Fear Every Day

As I practice vanquishing my fears and doubts, I’ve noticed some wonderful things:

–> When I faced my fear of what everyone would think of me if I quit my online coaching and podcasting business so I could pursue my passion to write and to practice my photography, I immediately felt an incredible expansive openness in my head and heart space.

–> I uncovered my own fear based money story. The origins of which had been buried deep within the bowels of my subconscious mind, dictating my money behavior without me being consciously aware of why I do money the way I do money.

Mind blowing.

Uncovering my money story = awareness = the ability to release my story and move forward with a healthier relationship with my Benjamins.

–> Because I have purposefully created time and space for my sacred silence, more time seems to open up. And as I listen to my Inner Guidance, I have an incredible sense of clarity about the direction I’m going in.

–> My life seems to have slowed down. There is no great rush to hit some imaginary or delusional goal line. I’m unfolding exactly as I should.

In my practice I monitor my inner dialogue, I watch my thoughts without attachment, and I spend time in sacred silence.

My fear vanquishing practice has thrown my snarky inner critic for a loop. She used to be front and center directing my choices and decisions. Now she has to share space with my Inner Wisdom. Ms. Snarky is not happy – in fact, she’s pacing the corridor of my mind, flinging ashes from her cigarette butt and muttering to herself that I’ve got no business writing about vanquishing fear or anything else.

My Inner Wisdom reminds me that when I am completely and absolutely and openly myself, beauty reigns supreme, not fear. She reminds me to take my rightful place among the stars; to bloom right where I am – amidst the dirt and the weeds and the doubt. My Inner Wisdom reminds me that I’m in fine company next to the fearless creatives who’ve gone before me – Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Ernest Hemingway, Ansel Adams, Stephen King, Danielle Steele, and of course, the pansies and marigolds.

Marigolds_Pansies

***

If you found this article helpful, please share on your favorite social media outlets. And as always, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below and I promise to respond to everyone!

I Quit (and Why It’s a Good Thing)

I quit

So who would have thought I’d quit my business after B-School? Yup. I’m building the *wrong* business for me and the right business for all those well intentioned people who told me I’d be so good at that life coaching thing. Honestly, I don’t want to coach people. I want to write books and take pictures of flowers and butterflies.

Let me back up a bit and explain

For years well meaning people have been telling me that I’d be really good at this life coaching thing. Somehow those words got stuck in my head and in 2008 I started an online coaching and support business for women in the precarious role of stepmom.

From the day I started I began having this amazing and daunting love / hate relationship with my business. Yes, I was good at. I have testimonials from gobs of women saying how much I helped them. Awesome. I don’t take those emails lightly – from the bottom of my heart – I appreciate them.

But helping other people, coaching other people *is* HARD. Most of the time I never got the full story. A lot of the time people wanted me to validate and agree with them – even when they were being bratty.

My best clients were the ones who hated me at first. Because I called them out on their puppy doo. They’d go away for awhile but most of them would come back ready to do the work they wanted to do to begin with.

Exhausting.

I thought if I rebranded from The Stepmom’s Toolbox to Frazzled to Fabulous, things would be different. It’s not really. Same stuff different headline.

Working hard for something you don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something you love is called passion.

In February I made the risky leap and signed up for Marie Forleo’s B-School. B-School is an online business program for creative entrepreneurs. I don’t know how much of an entrepreneur I really am. Do I have what it takes? Sure. But without going through the modules about building the right business and creating my ideal client, I never would have realized that I’m simply barking up the wrong tree. I’d rather be writing books and taking pictures more than trying to build a business coaching clients. I don’t need or want a coaching business – I am not worried about cash flow.

I have a good career in Information Technology. I earn 6 figures. I received a really nice bonus 6 weeks ago. (I mean, really nice.) And here I am busting my ass on an online business that I do not have the passion or desire to do.

I quit

  • No more coaching.
  • No more podcasts.
  • No more programs.

Nope.

And suddenly, the hills are alive with the sound of music…oh wait, wrong movie…

Seriously, that’s how I feel. The spaciousness that suddenly opened up inside my head and my heart. The angels I hear – laughing their asses off – because by golly, the girl finally gets IT.

It’s like Holy Shit Bat Fans!

What does this girl really really really want to do when she grows up?

  • Hang here.
  • Write books.
  • Create Daily Fab messages.
  • Take pictures.
  • Travel the world.
  • Love abundantly.
  • Teach & Practice yoga.
  • Practice Muay Thai.
  • Be a good person.
  • Do good work.

No where in that list is coach people. Or build a kick ass website. Or grow an astronomical list. Or do something just because someone told you you’d be good at it. Or not do something because someone told you you weren’t that good at it.

Yeah.

This feels more than right.

Peace out
Cub Scout

😉

xxxoooo

What about you? Have you ever quit something and felt really, really good about it? What opened up for you?

Obstacles: Friend or Foe?

Obstacles

You know you’re in complete and total alignment when you see random shit posted on social media by friends who may or may not know what’s going on inside your head and the only thing you can think is “damn straight!”

No doubt I made the right decision to quit. To quit being in my own way. To quit tilting at the well-intentioned voices of other people. To quit and follow my own path.

Is it any wonder I’m seeing signs everywhere? Especially when one of my very favoritest writing instructors, Laurie Wagner, (who probably knows more about me than I do) posts a poem by her friend and poet, Alison Luterman about obstacles, which I’m sharing with you because – fashizzle bat fans – this poem made me think, “Wow, I could have had a V-8.” Dope slap included.

Because Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle

Try to love everything that gets in your way:
the Chinese women in flowered bathing caps
murmuring together in Mandarin, doing leg exercises in your lane
while you execute thirty-six furious laps,
one for every item on your to-do list.
The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water
like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side,
whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course.
Teachers all. Learn to be small
and swim through obstacles like a minnow
without grudges or memory. Dart
toward your goal, sperm to egg. Thinking Obstacle
is another obstacle. Try to love the teenage girl
idly lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo:
Cette vie est la mienne, This life is mine,
in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep.
Be glad shell have that to look at all her life,
and keep going, keep going. Swim by an uncle
in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew
how to hold his breath underwater,
even though kids aren’t allowed at this hour. Someday,
years from now, this boy
who is kicking and flailing in the exact place
you want to touch and turn
will be a young man, at a wedding on a boat
raising his champagne glass in a toast
when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard.
He’ll come up coughing and spitting like he is now,
but he’ll come up like a cork,
alive. So your moment
of impatience must bow in service to a larger story,
because if something is in your way it is
going your way, the way
of all beings; towards darkness, towards light.

***

Wow. I don’t think I’ll look at obstacles in the same way ever again. Considering I tend to think of myself as my biggest obstacle and in my own way most of the time…I’m in my own way or I’m going my own way.

Holy sweetness. Talk about having an a-ha moment before I even had my coffee.

What about you? Does this change how you see obstacles? Let me know!

PS: Don’t forget to check out Alison’s latest poems on her website 😉