The Eye Of The Hurricane

The Eye Of The Hurricane

As many of you may or may not know, I am a structure queen. When it comes to writing this blog, I start a week before, asking to be shown what topic to write about. I let the topic marinate for a few days and then sit down to write the blog post about five to seven days before it gets published.

What many of you probably don't know is that I live in Miami where, as I write this blog post, there is a Category 5 hurricane expected in a few days. Although I had planned to write this post on an entirely different topic, every time I sat down to write, my mind kept drifting back to thinking about this impending hurricane. Since I believe that the Universe is always giving us feedback and that every experience is a learning experience, I decided to pause and go with what is. What is this experience trying to teach me? What am I supposed to be seeing?

Although I have had several a-has and insights, the thing that has stood out the most about this experience up to this moment is the incredible amount of kindness permeating the air. Yes, there have been reports of price gouging and people losing their cool as a result of long lines, supply shortages, fear, and stress, but for the most part what I see and feel is kindness and caring.

People are greeting each other, looking into each other's eyes, and asking, "How are you doing? Where are you going?" Every conversation ends with, "Stay safe!" which has become like a sacred prayer. There is an increased sense of gratitude for the people working at grocery stores, drug stores, and restaurants for being there and helping instead of being home with their families and/or making their own preparations. Many businesses are helping out. Yes, they want to make money but not in the face of tragedy or at the cost of other people. There is not only neighbor helping neighbor but strangers helping strangers and many are going above and beyond, asking, "How can I become a first responder? How can I volunteer?" And in terms of people who are not in Irma's path, the prayers and love being sent from around the world are creating a container of love which I know will protect us and help us weather the storm. The feelings of love are just that palpable!

For me, I feel an increased sense of churning and fear as well as an increased sense of awe and reverence. I am again amazed that from the shadow comes the light. It's incredible the range and dichotomy of emotions that can exist in one moment.

In my upcoming book I write:

When we each own our wholeness, it impacts the whole.

In the eye of the hurricane, whatever seems to divide us dissipates. We are connected in compassion. Everyone seems to have stepped into a collective consciousness. People are asking:

Who do I want to be inside the collective?

How can I contribute or help?

What do I need to do to take care of myself so I feel free and able to help others?


There are no "right" or "wrong" answers to any of these questions, just what feels right for each individual. Standing in our personal integrity of what is important to us and taking individual responsibility for the safety and well-being of ourselves and our loved ones, we are then able to step into the whole and collective integrity. And it really is amazing what communities can do and achieve when they come together as one. Together, we can weather the storms!

I conclude this blog post with gratitude, prayers, and love! Wherever you are and whatever you are dealing with..."Stay Safe!"

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Reflect on this thought: "When we each own our wholeness, it impacts the whole."

(2) Identify what you need to take care of for yourself or handle in your own life that would then free you up to step more fully into the collective.

(3) Start dwelling in the question "Who do I want to be inside of the collective?" and see if you're inspired to back up your insights with action.

What Are You Truly Communicating to the World?

What Are You Truly Communicating to the World?

Even though January 1st is officially the beginning of the new year, because the school calendar is so ingrained in my psyche, I view August and September as a new beginning and a poignant time to reflect upon where I am in my life and what I want to accomplish. After years of "back-to-school" shopping, it is also a great time to look at how you want to express yourself to the world.

When my three daughters were young and had to wear uniforms to school, their book-bags were their big form of self-expression. We would discuss the kinds of bags they each wanted to carry (backpack, messenger bag, shoulder bag, wheely-book bag), the fabric, and the pattern (leopard, cupcakes, hearts, or basic black). Then I would do extensive searches trying to find the perfect book-bags that would communicate to the world who they were that year. As my children got older so did their forms of self-expression. Their desires were based as much on the activities and friends they were involved with as they were a reflection of their sense of style. I thought we had hit the pinnacle of self-expression when we put together my first daughter's dorm room but over the years, as my daughters have moved into new apartments, making these spaces into a statement of who they are -- the image they want to project to the world as well as the emotions they want to feel when they walk through the front door -- became a whole new challenge.

Working with my daughters, I became fascinated, looking at all of the ways people communicate to the world who they are without saying a word. In the past, I have used color, clothing, decor, and the music I blare in my car to express who I am. But as I look around lately, I see people expressing themselves in everything from the cars they drive to the tattoos they have on their bodies to what they "like" on Facebook.

In "The Code of Supreme Beauty" in her book Courage, Debbie Ford wrote: "You are always communicating something about who you are and your belief in your own value. If you do not find the courage to embody your message on every level of your being, you will not reach the hearts that are waiting to be touched by you."

It is crucial that we understand that every choice matters and that we are always, through every level of our beingness, communicating to the world who we are. Debbie also said, "You may think that if you take the actions or if you say the words, you have done enough. You may think that you don't need to take responsibility for embodying the message you are sending. But if you think you can just say things without truly owning and embracing that which you already are, you are just putting ice cream on top of poop."

To be able to stand in who you are, to let your authentic self be seen and to have the confidence to communicate that to the world, whether it be through your social media posts, the people you hang out with, the kind of pet you have, or even the way you wear your hair, are truly acts of courage! What could be more supremely beautiful than showing the world who you truly are?

Transformational Action Steps

1. Look around the different areas of your life and reflect upon what those areas as they look today are communicating to the world about you.

2. Take on one area where what you are communicating feels out of alignment with who you truly are.

3. Determine what that area would look like if it were an accurate expression of who you are.

4. Take two actions steps each week to bring that area into alignment so that what the outer world sees is in sync with who you are.

5. To find the confidence to be your most authentic self, RUN (don't walk!) to The Shadow Process September 15th to September 17th in Miami.

Claiming the Last Days of Summer

Claiming the Last Days of Summer

I came across this message in Debbie Ford's newsletter archive and it was such a poignant and powerful reminder of the preciousness of each day that I couldn't resist sharing it with you in these final weeks of Summer. Enjoy!

Claiming the Last Days of Summer
by Debbie Ford
August 9, 2005

Yesterday I asked my son Beau if there is anything he hasn't done yet this summer that he wishes he could. "Yeah," he said. "I'd like to play laser tag!" So we're going to spend a day where he chases me around with a laser gun. I'm so glad I asked (really), because I already know that it will be an unforgettable day in my life.

In creating the best year of your life, how could you claim the remaining days of summer? What would you like to do to end this summer on the most memorable note?

If you were to let go of the rationale that says, "Someday, I'll do_____," or "Next summer, we should go to____," what plan would you make right here and now? Is there a close friend who you haven't seen enough of recently? And what about your lover - have you nabbed enough play and recreation time together? Perhaps it's a picnic at the river's edge, an afternoon at the lake on a rented paddle boat, an outdoor concert, a ballgame or a day of fishing. Or maybe it's a romantic downtown stroll on a balmy evening, or soaking in a sunset on the beach with a bottle of wine.

In addition to what, where and when, I encourage you to put the emphasis on how. Think about how you can bring greater intention, enthusiasm and love into this day. Is this a shared day or time alone with your sweet self? Is there something that you would like to communicate to yourself or another that will give voice to your deepest heart? How could you step outside of your comfort zone and bring vibrant vulnerability to this experience? If you reflect on some of the most memorable moments of your life, you're likely to see that you took some kind of emotional risk that left you feeling more real, more authentic and somehow opened up to the promise of infinite possibilities.

Transformational Action Steps

1. Think about what would be off-the-charts in terms of self-expression. How could you demonstrate the passion and gratitude that you feel for life - even if those states of being have been temporarily obscured by a few limiting thoughts and behaviors?

2. Give yourself full permission to express your delight and aliveness! And let that be your guide while planning a few late summer days that you just might remember for the rest of your life.

With love and blessings,
Debbie

From Loathing to Loving: A New Relationship With Your Body

From Loathing to Loving: A New Relationship With Your Body

As we move through these summer months, bodies are everywhere! If you tune into daytime TV talk shows, you'll find bikini fashion shows. On the bestseller list, diet books are on the rise. Gyms are full as people keep their beach bodies in shape. This time of year can stir up a lot of shadows -- the emotions, beliefs, habits, and patterns stored deep inside the psyche that dictate our relationships with our bodies. We see it in every program and workshop we do. Person after person shares the depths to which they have struggled with body issues and the years they have hated their bodies and thus themselves.

Weight and body image have always been issues for me. The quality of my day used to be determined by the number on the scale. I only felt worthy of being loved by myself or others if I looked a certain way. I had grown up with the belief that it was not okay to eat so in my book, food was evil. I made my body my enemy! Every day, I was in an all-out war. I spent every moment evaluating, "Who is winning -- me or my body?" Would I pass up the carb or take a bite of the piece of pizza? Could I push myself to exercise for another hour despite the swelling in my knee? Would I find the next "miracle" cream to take away the wrinkles? This minute-by-minute battle was exhausting. Even me, a person who trains people to become Integrative Coaches, a person who guides people to blast through their limitations and accept, love and embrace all of who they are, saw my body as an external foe which continually needed to be defeated!

Armed with this awareness of my own shadow, I chose to reinvent my relationship with my body. I became more loving and accepting of my body. I no longer abused and starved it. I began to view my body as a fine automobile and I understand it's my job to keep it well-oiled and functioning impeccably. I rewired my operating system by unconcealing, owning, and embracing my shadow. It was only then that I achieved my once elusive goals for my weight and well-being -- not from a place of self-hate or shame but rather from a place of deep love.

Debbie Ford wrote in The 21 Day Consciousness Cleanse, "To transform your relationship with your body, you must embrace the agent of change known as reverence. When you are present to the absolute gift you have been blessed with – the sacredness of having a body – you will begin to move in the world with more grace, gratitude and humility than you ever thought possible." Our bodies are a sacred gift. They provide the opportunity for us to experience life and the evolution of our souls. Instead of hating them, battling with them and constantly trying to fix or change them, we need to love them, to make peace with them, to cherish them and treat them with kindness, compassion and respect.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Identify something loving you can do for your body this week. Your body will tell you what it needs if you take the time to ask and listen for the answer. So ask your body what it needs and commit to doing what it tells you.

(2) Start viewing your body as a sacred gift. Spend three minutes in front of the mirror every day and take in the blessings that your body gives you. Affirm what is right about your body. Send gratitude to each of your parts and declare out loud how each part serves you.

(3) To free yourself from the limitations that impact and sabotage your relationship with your body, register for Radical Reinvention, a 12-week, online, goal-oriented program starting August 7th.

(4) For a massive body breakthrough, RUN (don't walk!) to The Shadow Process September 15th to September 17th in Miami.
 

Are You Finally Fed Up With Being Fed Up?

Are You Finally Fed Up With Being Fed Up?

Week after week I hear stories from people who just can't seem to get out of their own way. They are still talking about the same twenty pounds, caught in the same cash crisis, trying to find their passion, and searching for their soulmate. Although often their explanation, spiritual conversation, or overall bravado seems to have changed or been upgraded, what they are experiencing in their external world has not! Underneath whatever they might be saying lies their story of limitation, excuses, disappointment, regret, and wishful thinking laced with resignation. Unfortunately they have lost trust in themselves and the benevolence of the Universe. They have forgotten what Glinda said to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, "You had the power all along."

We all have the power inside us to create more passionately, to love more deeply, to experience our everyday life more joyfully, and to reach our full potential. We just need to get to that point of being fed up with being fed up. Most people say that pain is the great motivator for transformation, and that is true. Yet for me, the other great motivator that can catapult you from inertia to action and from stagnation to stupendousness is the intolerance of your own mediocrity! When you can no longer tolerate your own excuses, patterns of paralysis and procrastination, or days (or decades) of drama, change can happen. When you are finally willing to be straight with yourself and admit that you're settling for mediocre results, that you're cooperating with the part of you that tells you to play small, be safe, and sell out, you've taken the first step to creating a new future.

Turning the tide of mediocrity isn't a matter of stamping out fear and self-sabotage. It's a matter of reconnection. Rather than referring to the same old manual, referencing your limiting beliefs and behaviors for how to endlessly struggle to fix what isn't working, it is time to connect to your higher self who knows exactly how to make your life a magical wonderland. This is the part of you that hungers to live life with an unapologetic aliveness and wants to contribute your remarkable gifts to this world. It knows exactly how to satisfy your needs and give you "the more" that you are looking for. The only way for you to reconnect is to defy gravity - to defy the gravitational pull of your past and gather up the fuel you need to launch yourself into a new level of consciousness. It is time to declare your freedom from the limits of your past and to finally manifest and sustain the change you desire.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Look around your life. What are the areas and situations that you keep talking about changing? Where are you playing small, stuck or achieving mediocre results?

(2) Note how many years you have been promising yourself that things would change. What are the costs of not taking those areas on and achieving what you desire?

(3) Tune into your voice of intolerance and hear what it tells you to do in each of these areas or situations. Is there an action you need to take, a commitment you need to make, or a structure you need to put in place to support you in achieving a new result?

(4) IF YOU REALLY ARE COMMITTED TO CHANGE then register for Radical Reinvention, a 12-week, online, goal-oriented program will free you from the limitations that impact and sabotage every aspect of your life. The program starts August 7th and we've got a special discount just for you that expires July 31st.

(5) To propel yourself into a new level of consciousness, RUN (don't walk!) to The Shadow Process September 15th to September 17th in Miami to reach your next level of light!

Take the Vow of Emotional Independence

Take the Vow of Emotional Independence

As we celebrate Independence Day in the United States, there is no better time to take a vow of emotional independence.

When you have emotional independence, you want for nothing because you have everything. Just take a deep breath and think about this. Imagine feeling so full and so completely at peace inside yourself that you have the freedom to love and be loved, to give freely and to receive abundantly, to expand rather than contract, to move forward rather than stay stuck, to live in joy rather than suffer in misery. Emotional independence allows you to be in control rather than to be controlled by the unhealed emotions of your past and will support you in being nourished and filled with faith rather than diminished and weakened by fear.

So close your eyes and have the intention that you can be free, that you can be loved, that you can be abundant, that you can be healed, that you can be inspired, that you can be passionate, and that you can help change the world. And then open your eyes and please join me in taking the vow.

The Vow of Emotional Independence

I, ______ ________, am committed to living free of the strangulating grip of fear, shame, doubt, worry, anger, and sadness.

I promise to give my power to the force greater than myself rather than some food, substance, bad habit, or disempowering craving.

I will stand for my highest expression rather than allowing others’ judgments to define who I am.

I will always make sure to please and take care of myself instead of succumbing to any people-pleasing habits.

I will listen to the voice of my soul rather than listening to the voice of my critical internal judge.

I will find joy in each and every day of my existence rather than get caught up in the insanity of my world.

I will take care of my planet and let my voice be heard instead of waiting for someone else to do it for me.

I will choose powerfully each and every moment to make choices that leave me feeling inspired by myself and will graciously let go of my self-defeating behaviors.

I take this vow NOW as a positive stand for my soul's highest expression and for every man, woman, and child on this planet today.

As I set myself free, I am freeing myself and others from the violence of my darkest thoughts, my negative projections, and my limiting self-image.

And now I ask all the powers that be to support me in living this vow each and every moment of each and every day.

As I surrender my will for the higher will, I know that I will be guided from my darkest thought to my greatest dream, from my head to my heart.

Today, I commit to living in full accordance with this vow.

And so it is.

Live as if this is your birthright and your destiny – because it is.

- Debbie Ford, July, 2010

Take a deep breath. Read this vow to yourself and allow it to nourish you. See yourself filled with all the light of the world. And if your heart desires to share it, send it on to others.

Summer Lovin'

Summer Lovin'

Summer officially starts this week, but it feels like it is already flying by. Before Fall creeps up on you, I want to encourage you to take advantage of the hot summer days and nights. We have all seen movies about "summer love." So how about spending summer falling more deeply in love with yourself and your life? It's time to turn up the flame on your passion and stretch beyond the limits of your daily routine. It's time to step outside the status quo of your life, kick up your heels, and plan something off-the-charts for yourself!

A fundamental aspect of the work that Integrative Coaches do with clients is to have them identify a goal and then each week commit to taking action steps that will lead them to the manifestation of this accomplishment. Achieving a goal or actually doing something that you have been thinking or talking about for years is one of the best ways to ignite your light of self-love!

What is it that you've been talking about doing? Or what have you been secretly wishing you could do? What could you plan for yourself that would be enlivening, invigorating, eye-opening, and heart-expanding for you? Maybe it's planning a romantic weekend away with your partner, registering for a yoga retreat, or turning a corner of your house into an art studio (even if you've never done more than paint by numbers). Or perhaps you could schedule tennis lessons or go salsa dancing with a group of friends. Parks and museums always have terrific summer workshops, and if you live near a beach, this could be your summer for those kayaking, paddle boarding, or surfing lessons that you've fantasized about.

In Debbie Ford's last book Courage, she talks about becoming "unrecognizable." She explains that "to become unrecognizable to yourself, you must move outside of your comfort zone, let go of whatever you are holding on to, release the self-image that you've kept trying to live up to over and over and over again."

You will become an inspiration to yourself and all of those around you when you continually challenge yourself to be unrecognizable. Just imagine what will be possible for you if, by the time fall rolls around, you challenged yourself and accomplished something that you have been dreaming about for years? You will become the idol of yourself and open up to self-confidence and love!

So while the sun is shining and the days are long, take some time to look at what will light you up, turn you on, and infuse these next few months with the ultimate of summer lovin' and have a blast!

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Brainstorm It! Sit down and without thinking or editing yourself, make a list of the things you have been dreaming or talking about doing.

(2) Pick It! Select the top two or three from the list.

(3) Make It Happen! Make the phone calls, Google it, schedule it, put your deposit down, and give it to yourself – whatever it may be. Allow yourself more fun and pleasure than you think you can stand!

(4) Transform! Make this a summer you'll never forget by joining us for The Shadow Experience: Breaking Through to Emotional & Spiritual Freedom at the Omega Institute June 30th to July 2nd. Learn more and register here.
 

Your Inspired Vision Is Waiting For YOU!

Your Inspired Vision Is Waiting For YOU!

I can't believe that summer is already here! This summer I have the privilege of leading The Shadow Experience: Breaking Through to Emotional & Spiritual Freedom at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. For me this is still humbling.

I remember the first time I went to Omega in 2002. I had another business at the time. It was called Go Goddess! and we created games to connect and empower women and girls. As a result of the success of that business, we were asked to do speaking engagements and workshops. Although I was a "great girlfriend," I quickly realized that those traits didn't qualify me to stand up in the front of a room and hold, support, and advise other people. I decided I needed some sort of formal training. I called The Ford Institute because I'd heard that they offered the best life coach training program out there. The man I spoke with said that I could jump into the training which had already started if I promised to attend Debbie Ford's upcoming workshop at Omega. Something in my heart told me to jump and I did.

Weeks later I found myself on quite a journey: leaving my family, flying to New York City, and driving two hours up to the Omega Institute. I knew nothing about Omega and I didn't know anyone who would be at the workshop. As I arrived I thought to myself, "What am I doing here? What did I sign up for?" My life on the surface was seemingly fine and abundant. I was married, had three beautiful daughters, was an attorney, and had created a meaningful business with two of my closest friends. My plate was more than full. So what was I doing in rural New York, away from my family and friends, pursuing yet another degree or certification?

Little did I know that weekend would change my life and be such a huge turning point! Although at first I was scared to death of Debbie Ford, I clung to every word that came out of her mouth. I had tried all different kinds of transformational work by that time. I had read many books, done sweat lodges and rebirthing, studied Shamanic traditions and the ancient Gods and Goddesses, and participated in workshops and therapy. You name it, I had done it. Although they all had value, they just hadn't provided the shift my soul was longing to experience. But what I experienced during that weekend workshop at Omega did! By the end of the weekend I remember looking admiringly and enviously at Debbie, wishing that I could have the impact that she did and lead others through such profound and life-altering work.

And now it is with total awe of the divine design of life that 15 years later I will be going to Omega to lead The Shadow Experience for the third year in a row! I never would have predicted the direction that my life has taken these past 15 years but from this vantage point, I can see the perfection of the journey.

In her final book Courage, Debbie writes:

"We all have an inspiring vision. It may not be one that you recognize yet. It may live deep within you, stirring quietly below the surface. But it will see the light of day. Because, just like the sun obscured by the clouds or by the fall of night, it is always there waiting for you to bask in its golden light. Your vision is a precious gift from the divine."

All of our lives have a divine design. Many of us have been trying for years to figure out our purpose in life. We just need to trust and keep asking to be shown and as Debbie advises, "If you are not yet in the presence of your vision, start with what you love. Anything that inspires you, excites you, and motivates you in your life is sparked by the divine. You don't need to try to make it come, because it's already there." All you need to do is continue to be asked to be shown and listen. The wonderful news is:

"When you trust in the universe you get to play
in the magical world of God's plan."

If you are having trouble trusting or connecting to that voice within, then I invite you to do what I did 15 years ago and jump! Come join us at Omega for The Shadow Experience. I know that it will touch and transform your life as it did mine and thousands of other people!

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Write out three lists:

- List #1: Things you love and that inspire, excite, and motivate you (anything from animals to food to helping others)

- List #2: Distinct gifts you possess (anything from putting on make-up to giving advice to others)

- List #3: The unique experiences you have had, including even the painful experiences you have endured like divorce, loss, or hard financial times

(2) Start exploring how the items on your lists impact you and if any of them hold the seed of your inspired vision. Do they light you up?

(3) Continue to ask the divine to show you how it wants to use you for the good of all. Even if you think you already know what this is, allow yourself to look through the eyes of your most fearless and passionate self.

(4) Join us for The Shadow Experience: Breaking Through to Emotional & Spiritual Freedom at the Omega Institute June 30th to July 2nd. Learn more and register here.

Letting Go Of What You Think You Know!

Letting Go Of What You Think You Know!

The other night I had dinner with a dear friend whose 96-year-old father passed away a few weeks ago. Always being extremely close with her father she told me, "All of these years, I thought I would have an absolute breakdown when my father died, but I have actually been really good!"

Day after day, I hear stories from people who think they know how they will react, what is best for them, and how things should happen. They tell themselves all sorts of things like:

  • I will never...get divorced, get married again, move in with someone, date a same-sex partner, a person of a different race, religion, or nationality, or someone ten years older or younger than myself.
     
  • There is no way I could...sing karaoke, do public speaking, eat raw food, run a marathon, live anywhere but NYC, travel by myself, work with a partner, jump out of a plane.
     
  • My child won't...go away to school, live with their other parent, play football, go into the family business.
     
  • I could never...be friends with that person, make it on my own, emotionally survive the loss of a loved one.

But then something happens and Boom, they are confronted with some situation that challenges or conflicts with their belief system. They are faced with the dilemma of breaking out of the self-imposed box they have put themselves in or stepping over the line in the sand which they have drawn. They are confronted with giving up the safety of the self they have known themselves to be as well as the false sense of security that comes with their myopic definition of themselves. They are challenged with giving up control and stepping into the vulnerability and the sobering thought that they may not have a clue!

Although I am a great believer in learning from our past and being conscious of what has and has not served our highest, I have come to realize that often thinking we know ourselves limits ourselves.

Many of our self-imposed rules, although masquerading in the guise of "this is what is best for me," come from our ego's need to control, to protect us, or to be right. Driving this ego's need is generally some shadow, some fear that if we let go or at all digress from the self or beliefs that we think we know, our lives might spin out of control. Unfortunately, when we are in this place of attachment to thinking we know, we resist any outcome but the one we want or are attached to. Our present becomes a repeat of our past, and any new possibilities for the future cease to exist because we are locked in the prison of the person that we know ourselves to be. We become firmly entrenched in our righteousness, seeing things as black and white, good or bad, right or wrong. We become rigid in our perspectives and lose touch with the fact that our righteous positions are not the truth but thoughts that we have turned into truths. And even though our ego on some level is trying to protect us, on the other hand, since it is fueled by fear and shrouded in shadows, the result is that our ego limits us and actually keeps us from breaking free from the cage of our comfort zone and taking a leap of faith or waking up to what might be right in front of us that we've been too blind or fearful to see.

An antidote to thinking that we know is surrender.

As Debbie Ford writes in her book Courage:

When we surrender and let go, we must resign as general manager of the universe. We must mind our own business. We must stop believing that we are in control of everything. We must take our power where it lives – in this moment – and surrender to a path even if we don't know where the path is going. The hardest part of turning our lives over to the care of a power greater than ourselves and choosing surrender over control is that we have to resign from this lofty position. We have to give up our way of doing things, our effort to control the situations and circumstances of our lives. We must let go of the things we believe to be true. The truth is that we really have no idea where the universe is trying to guide us.   

I have come to realize the more I learn, the less I truly know. For me, a person who always tried to "get it right" and keep myself safe, it is now with a sigh of relief and a smile that I can admit, "I have no clue!" And for me, that is the good news! It is the exciting part. It is exciting to think I have no clue what is in my highest. It is exciting to trust that if the Universe is bringing me to it or it to me, then there must be a reason. Life becomes like a great treasure hunt, never knowing where the next clue might lead but believing that there will be gold…even in the dark.

So this week I invite you to join me on a treasure hunt, to open up to the miracles and magic that are dancing right in front of you, to open up to a whole new level of possibilities and wonderment by letting go of what you think you know!

As Lao Tzu said, "When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."

Transformational Action Steps

  1. Make a list of situations in your life where you are experiencing some sort of frustrations or conflict.
     
  2. Pick one situation:
     
    • Allow yourself to see how you have been trying to control the situation. Is there a particular outcome that you think should happen or are attached to? How has your attachment to that outcome impacted the situation?
       
    • Now imagine yourself cutting the cord of your attachment and letting go of what you think you know. What can you now see is possible?
       
    • If you were to admit to yourself that you have no clue what is "right" or "the way," what other perspectives can you see?
       
    • If you were trusting that what was showing up was as it should be, what new insights can you glean?
       
  3. Sign up for The Shadow Process or The Shadow Experience to step into even more possibilities!

Embracing the Bad Mother in All of Us!

Embracing the Bad Mother in All of Us!

Normally on Mother's Day, we read articles and Hallmark cards highlighting all of the good deeds, affectionate gestures, and altruistic virtues of a "good mother." We are bombarded with images of women cheerfully cleaning finger paint off of the wall, driving carpool, hauling soccer gear, or patiently waiting as their teenager ignores their very existence.

Yet week after week, I encounter countless numbers of women who feel that they have somehow or in some ways flunked motherhood. They are ashamed about the way they lost their temper, were absent, pushed their child too hard, didn't push their child enough, or impacted their child's life with their divorce. They are beating themselves up for being bad moms! (And dads, this is the same for you too but since it is Mother's Day, I am wording this in the feminine.) They are berating themselves for not being the kind of mother they think they should be and blaming themselves for everything that goes "wrong" in their child's life. They compare themselves and their children to others and condemn themselves for what they perceive to be their shortcomings. They focus on their "failures" and see their flaws as fatal. They feel tremendous guilt and shame about being what they hate to say out loud or even admit to themselves -- a bad mom!

For many of us, our vision or ideal of who we should be as a parent was developed early on. We saw a movie or had a friend who seemed to have a picture-perfect mother and from that moment on, we decided that we wanted to be kind, creative, fun, smart, capable, and talented just like her. For others, this archetype of who we should be as a mother was born out of not wanting to be the traits or qualities that we disliked in the women closest to us, most specifically our mothers. We vowed to never be cruel, lazy, mean, judgmental, negative, weak, or a failure like our mother.

Our shadows are these unwanted qualities that we vow not to be. They are the characteristics that we hated in others or ones that caused us embarrassment or even emotional and physical harm. Committed to not being that which we judge in others, from an early age we started crafting our definition of what a good mother should be. Although it comes from a pure intention, the fact is our definition of who we should be as a parent is determined by our shadows. It is birthed from our childhood wounds or a very hurt part of ourselves that created this narrow view of who we should and should not be as a parent. It is fueled by denial and an overwhelming fear that we may turn into that which we hated. And it becomes etched in our psyche the moment we declare, "I will never be like my mother!"

As we are methodically piecing together the picture of the parent we think we should be, we don't realize our evolution to being the fullest expression of ourselves as a parent, as well as a person, will not come from denying that which we don't want to be but embracing everything that we are -- good and bad!

As Carl Jung said, "I would rather be whole than good."

Shadow work is based on the concept of wholeness. It is based on knowing that within us is every characteristic that we see in the outer world. To be the fullest expression of ourselves, we must unconceal, own, embrace, and integrate all of the characteristics that we have disowned or denied. To do this we must find the gifts of the negative characteristics that we judge and make wrong in our mothers or others.
 

  • How could being lazy like your mother actually serve you?
  • What would be possible if you embraced that you too were weak and needy? Would you be able to ask for help or not always have to be the strong one?
  • Has not wanting to be negative like your mother caused you to see the glass as half full?

And how has not wanting to be a bad mother supported you in being a really good mother?

Many of us think that we need to be good to be effective and that we need to be perfect to be good. But the fact is our children will learn as much from the part of us that is a bad mother as they will from the part of us that is a good one.

Ultimately, the greatest gift we can give our children is to learn to love and accept themselves. We want them to find the lessons in their "mistakes," the wisdom in their wounds, the perfection of their imperfections, and the fun in their flaws. We want to teach them new perspectives and to be aware of whether they are looking for what's right or what's wrong. We want them to put down the internal bat that they have used to beat themselves up and to open up to greater levels of understanding and compassion for themselves. By teaching them to find the gifts in that which they judge, we pave the way for them to love a part of themselves that they have seen as "bad."

So on this Mother's Day, I want to encourage you to invite that bad mother part of you to join in on the festivities. Acknowledge her for all she has taught you. Embrace her for the humanity she has brought into your household. And maybe even applaud her for providing some of the real and rawest moments that have and will add to the richness of the texture of the tapestry of your family.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Make a list of the traits or characteristics that you think would or do make you a bad mom. Make sure you add all the traits that you saw in others, particularly your mother, and swore you would never be.

(2) Find the gifts of at least five of those traits. How have they served you?

(3) Write a letter of appreciation to the part of you that you see as your "bad mom." How has it served you? What do you see are its gifts?

(4) Sign up for The Shadow Process or The Shadow Experience with your mother or daughter!
 

A Royal Inspiration

A Royal Inspiration

With all of the negative news as well as alarming acts of and allegations against current world leaders, I was absolutely thrilled to see headlines that Prince Harry was speaking out about his mental health issues.

In an interview with Byrony Gordon who has just launched a podcast entitled “Mad World – Why it’s totally normal to feel weird!” Prince Harry talked about the impact of losing his mother at age 12 and then shutting down all of his emotions.  He said, “My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help? It’s only going to make you sad. It’s not going to bring her back. So from an emotional side I was like don’t let your emotions be part of anything.”

Although people like his brother tried telling him it was not normal to think that a tragedy like the one he endured would not affect him, he was not ready to deal with his emotions. He explained how he spent years disconnected from his feelings, “I was a typical sort of 20, 25, 28 year old, running around going life is great, or life is fine.” 

It was 20 years of denial followed by two years of chaos that finally got his attention and made him realize that there was a lot of grief and “stuff that he needed to deal with.”

We see this all of the time in the work we do – people not wanting or downright afraid to feel their emotions. Like Harry, they train themselves to keep a stiff upper lip, deny their humanity, and robotically tell themselves and anyone who inquires as to how they are that they are fine. Their denial, as well as their desire to not be different or appear as anything is less than fine in a world where everyone is striving for bigger, better, best, has them resist looking or talking about what is going on inside of them. 

Like Prince Harry, many of us do whatever we can to disconnect from that quiet gnawing inside of us that something is off.  But every time we step over our truth, we whittle away at our self-esteem.  Our shame about being different or feeling what are labeled as the “negative” emotions causes us to want to disconnect.  We ignore, numb out, and try to distance ourselves from these unwanted feelings.  This ticking time-bomb of shame has a snowball effect as it then causes us to eat, drink, work, have sex, over-exercise, or engage in some form of self-sabotage until our life implodes or we somehow self-destruct.  In Harry’s case, 20 years of denying his feelings turned into two years of chaos and public scandal.

Our work is rooted in the foundational concept of what we call “Emotional Education.” It is based on the integrative premise that we are everything.  And just like shadow work is based on the concept of wholeness - that in each of us exists every quality that we see in others - we also possess every emotion.  Yet just like many of us disown certain qualities, we also disown certain emotions.  We label some as good and others as bad.  No wants to be thought of as that “angry girl or guy,” some sort of “sad sack,” or the person who always appears anxious and stressed out.  Emotional Education is predicated upon the knowledge that in each of us exists all of these emotions and to be the fullest expression of ourselves, we need to have access to all of our emotions. The truth is, many of our emotions have gotten a really bum rap and bad rep! Judging them as wrong and being afraid to lean into them, we deny one of our greatest gifts – access to the full range of our emotional expression.  Our denial and fear keep us paralyzed, reacting rather than responding, and exhausted from suppressing what is and running away from our feelings.  

We cannot heal what we won’t allow ourselves to feel.  Instead of making our emotions wrong and feeling shame for feeling a certain way, we need to recognize the value and gifts of every emotion so that we can make peace with our emotions and integrate them back as a healthy part of our psyche.  All of our emotions come bearing gifts.  They are there to inform us when something is off or that there is something our soul is yearning for. However, if we have disowned an emotion or are making it wrong, we lose access to it and diminish a valuable birthright of all humans - the full range of our emotional expression.  That is why it is crucial to transform the negative beliefs we have about any emotion and to understand that all of our emotions are valuable.  They are here to educate us. For example, our anxiety and overwhelm might be a signal from our divine self that we are pushing too hard and need to engage in deeper self-care.  Our fear may have us create healthy boundaries.  And think about it – every major movement or change has stemmed from someone’s intolerance or anger over the status quo.

Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have started a movement called “Heads Together” to support people struggling with mental health issues to come together and openly discuss them. I applaud whatever emotion stimulated them to bring the light of awareness to this conversation. I remember years ago I was approached by a proponent of shadow work who was also diagnosed as bipolar to speak in front of a mental health organization that they were a part of.  Since at the time there had been a rash of incidents in the news about people with mental health issues who had been suffering in silence and under that veil of shame acting out in the world and committing horrific crimes, I suggested we create a presentation called “The Shadow of Mental Health” and openly discuss the stigma of talking about these issues. For whatever reason, the presentation never came to be.

When we share our truth, we open the door for others to do the same.

I am so inspired by the Royal Family and other celebrities like Lady Gaga and Byrony Gordon for having the courage and consciousness to highlight this topic that impacts all of us.  I am grateful they are opening up the conversation to include issues such as everyday stress, anxiety, addiction, insomnia, coping, overwhelm, grief, lack of confidence, physical and/or mental exhaustion, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, etc.  As Prince Harry said in his interview, “There is huge merit in talking about your issues and the only thing about keeping them quiet is that it is only going to make it worse, not just for you but for everyone else around you.  You become a problem.”

We have all heard phrases like, “Our secrets make us sick” and “The truth shall set you free.” As long as we are denying that which we are and that which we feel, we will never feel whole, complete, and liberated.  And no matter whether you are a prince, a soccer mom, a pop star, an employee, or a CEO, you will not be able to enjoy the richness of your life if you are denying, undermining, and detaching from your emotional world.

Neale Donald Walsch said, “If you don’t go within you go without.” Well, to add to that, when you go within and can share that with others, you will never go without because, as Harry remarked, “What really sucks is being in a position to make a difference and not being able to do so.”  We all are have the ability to make a difference.  So whether you are British or not, let Harry, William, and Kate be the royal inspiration that has the world all put our Heads Together!

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Start to look at your relationship with your emotions.  Are there those you judge as “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong”?

(2) Pick one emotion that you judge as “bad” and ask yourself the following questions:

- What do you do to separate yourself from this unwanted feeling?  How do you numb out?

- What is the cost of denying this feeling? What is the snowball effect of denying it and acting out?

- What is the gift of this emotion? How could embracing and gaining access to this emotion actually serve you?

- What would be possible if you had a healthy relationship with this emotion?

(3) Find a professional, a workshop and/or community where you can be genuine and share all of who you are and what you are feeling.  We invite you to join us at The Shadow Experience or The Shadow Process – where all of you is welcome…there is nothing that you can’t say and nothing you can’t share!


(4) Check out Heads Together! Visit https://www.headstogether.org.uk

Meet My Two New Best Friends - "No" & "I Can't"

Meet My Two New Best Friends - "No" & "I Can't"

The other day I was speaking to a friend who is also a transformational teacher and leads workshops. She was telling me about a new project she's putting together. As she was excitedly rattling off her multi-tiered strategy, she started naming all of the ways I could and would play a part in her new undertaking. A lover of great ideas, new ventures, spiraling up in the energy of other people's visions, and of course having my ego stroked by someone telling me how fabulous I am and what "an amazing addition" I would be, normally I would have just followed along with her assumption that I would be a part of her new project. However, preparing to launch our Every Choice Matters program on May 1st, I am very much in the conversation about the impact of each and every choice we make. Knowing that each choice either leads closer toward or further away from our goals, and that there is no in between or neutral choices, I surprised my friend and myself by coming right out and clearly saying, "No! I can't spend time building your brand since I have to spend my time building mine!"

When I hung up the phone, I actually felt quite empowered. Although I had always considered myself to be a person who was good at setting boundaries, I had never been so clear and articulate about my commitment to make choices and take actions that were in direct alignment with my goals and dreams. I had never been so able to give up my banner of "the good friend," or person who always shows up in order to say "No" without second-guessing my response.

For most people our inability to say "No!" or set a boundary comes from a shadow. Not wanting to be selfish or full of ourselves, we put others on the top of our to-do lists instead of ourselves. Wanting to prove that we are smart enough, capable enough, have it all together, or can do it all, we say, "Yes," when we want to shout, "No!" The swell of satisfaction we feel when others stroke our ego and tell us how valuable and special we are comes from some shadow of not feeling special enough, worthy enough, or important enough. All of these shadows keep us on the treadmill of feeding off of the validation, approval, and praise of others. We cannot say "No!" or "I can't!" or make choices that are in our highest when we are being driven by our shadows. We cannot make ourselves a priority or put ourselves on the top of our to-do list when we are driven by a shadow.

In order to reach the destination of your dreams, you must make choices that are congruent with your goals. And in order to achieve your greatest goals and deepest heart's desires, you must declare your priorities. What is most important to you at this moment in time? It could be your children, moving, your relationship, taking care of an elderly parent, writing your book, or taking time to relax and regenerate. You need to take time to make a list of your priorities, rank them and then make your choices congruent with that list. When you use your priorities as your true north and commit to making choices that are in alignment with those priorities, your decisions become clear and your choices become simple. You can say "No" or "I can't" and speak your truth without worry or self-doubt. You can step out of the shadows that keep you in your role of the people-pleaser, know-it-all, overachiever, or fixer, hang up your Superman or Wonder Woman cape, and do what is in your highest instead of what is best for others.

When you live life in alignment with your priorities, a very exciting phenomenon happens. Yes, the second-guessing and agitation diminish. Yes, your choices and actions flow more easily. And although those are all exciting, to me they are not the MOST exciting thing. When you live in alignment with your priorities and embrace saying "No!" or "I can't" and setting boundaries as your new best friends, you are making a declaration to the Universe that YOU ARE YOUR PRIORITY! You are claiming that you feel worthy and deserving enough to put yourself on the top of your to-do list. You are affirming that you are no longer so worried about disappointing others because you can no longer tolerate disappointing yourself. And as I have said before, the really cool thing about claiming your worthiness, is that the Universe then aligns and you open up to receiving and manifesting your top priorities!

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Take some time to list out and rank your top five to ten priorities. Look at all the different areas of your life: family, relationship, work, children, exercise, or some particular project.

(2) Create a structure that supports you in thinking before you answer someone's request. Learning to befriend saying, "No" or "I can't" might take time and practice. Create a structure like giving yourself time to think before you answer or telling people, "I will get back to you" so that you can practice going inside and seeing if the request is in alignment with your priorities before you answer.

(3) Come to one of our live events - The Shadow Experience or The Shadow Process - to discover what stops you from saying "No" and to take back your power!

(4) Stay tuned for more about Every Choice Matters! It's time to reclaim your power and wake up to the power of your choices.
 

Olivia Pope Needs The Shadow Process!

Olivia Pope Needs The Shadow Process!

In just 10 days, I will have the honor of leading The Shadow Process Workshop in Los Angeles. It is an indescribable blessing to witness the transformation that occurs for each and every participant as they journey out of the darkness of their old, outdated stories and limiting, negative beliefs into the light of forgiveness, self-acceptance, wholeness, and love.

The last time I led the workshop in L.A., I took the red-eye home to Miami. Then as my demonstration of self-love, I spent Monday relaxing. I've learned to give myself the gift of having nothing on my schedule so I can do whatever feels good in the moment.

So the Monday after The Shadow Process, I decided to binge-watch some of the shows I had recorded while I was away. Scandal was at the top of my list. I was up to episode titled "Thwack!" In it, Olivia Pope, gladiator for "good" and crisis-management maven with a moral code, finally goes over the edge to the "dark side." For most of the episode, Olivia tries to hold on to her persona of a crusader with a conscience. She goes to her brilliant yet ruthless and unscrupulous father for assistance and he tells her that her plan will fail and she will need to resort to "Plan B." She continues to fight for who she believes herself to be when she exits his home and declares "I am not you, Dad!...In my world when someone is in my way, you out-think them. You don't end them. It's not who I am!" Needless to say, by the end of the episode, Olivia becomes her father and "ends" the life of the person who is in her way. Based on what I could surmise from the coming attractions, Olivia takes to her bed (the one in her father's house) as she comes to grips with what she did and wrestles with the fact that she is her father...she is a killer!

I see this every day in our work - people who have their own personal "scandals" and then are left confused and confronted, trying to define or redefine their identity and trying to figure out, "What is the reality of who I am?"

They ask:

Am I the brilliant success who started the company or the irresponsible failure/loser who sat at the helm as it went bankrupt?

Am I the sexy, desirable woman that some man loved and "could not live without" or the unlovable, invisible person that he left?

Am I a person of integrity who is a good, devoted spouse and parent or the lying, scumbag that had an affair?


They cannot figure out which is the truth and they've never been taught that when it comes to qualities and characteristics, it is not "either/or" but "and." Think about it. As children we all learned or just naturally assumed that there were the popular kids or the unpopular ones, the athletic or the unfit, and the leaders or the followers. In our families of origin, we were assigned labels. We were either the pretty one, the funny one, the rebel, the bad seed, etc. Whether we consciously realized it or not, we all over-identified with certain qualities and never realized there was a possibility that other traits actually existed inside of us. As one woman who always considered herself to be "the stupid one" said to me after doing shadow work, "I never realized I could be both smart AND stupid. I always thought you were either/or!"

Shadow work is predicated on living in the space of the "and." It is based on the concept of wholeness and that within each us exists every trait that we see in others. One thing I love about The Shadow Process is that during this two-and-a-half-day journey, as participants learn about these fundamental concepts and are immersed in interactive exercises and experiences, they start to bring light to the parts of themselves, "negative" and "positive," that they have disowned and thus lost access to. The workshop lays the foundation for participants to unconceal and love the parts of themselves that they've spent a lifetime believing are unlovable and reclaim the parts of themselves that they project on to others. It provides an opportunity for people to make peace with their humanity and own their divinity and to have more compassion for themselves and others. It moves people from living in this fragmented space of "either/or" to an integrated and harmonious place of "and."

So if you are trying to make peace with some personal scandal or some part of yourself that you deem as scandalous, then I invite you to open up to this concept of wholeness. And to Olivia Pope, I say, Welcome to the dark side and the sobering reality that we all are our father's child. I pray you find the gold in the dark as well as the understanding that you, as well as the rest of us, are all the saint and the sinner, the callous and the caring, the loyal and the betrayer, the helpless and the powerful. If you Olivia, or any of us, truly want to be a freedom fighter then start with yourself. Give yourself the gift of liberation that comes with doing shadow work and "living in the 'and.'"

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Become Olivia Pope. Identify a person that you do not like or do not want to be like. Make a list of three to five qualities you see in that person that you judge as bad or wrong.

(2) Take each trait and determine what would be the polar opposite positive quality.

(3) Journal about how each set of negative and positive qualities exist inside you and how you can benefit from both.

(4) Allow yourself to see action steps that you can take that will help you own and have access to these qualities. And take those actions!

(5) Join us in Los Angeles for The Shadow Process Workshop April 7th to April 9th or visit our calendar to see our schedule of upcoming workshops.

Are You Ready To Take An Evolutionary Leap In Your Life?

Are You Ready To Take An Evolutionary Leap In Your Life?

We all know that getting to the destination of our dreams requires taking consistent action steps and continually pushing forward. So why don't we "just do it?" Why do we procrastinate, remain complacent, become paralyzed, or shrink in fear? Why, even when we know what we should be doing or the steps that we need to be taking, do we get easily sidetracked, go unconscious, or function on automatic pilot?

Why?!
Our Shadow!

Your shadow is the part of you that determines how much success you will achieve. It impacts your thoughts, behaviors, actions, inactions, choices, and non-choices, basically dictating your life. When you deny your shadow and hide the parts of yourself that you do not like or want to be, you whittle away at your full self-expression. And since your outer world is a direct reflection of your inner world, when you lose access to all of who you are on the inside, you automatically limit what you can create and manifest in your external world.

This is one of the many reasons I always get so excited about The Shadow Process Workshop. I know that each one I lead will be the catalyst for me to have a huge breakthrough and propel me into another reality in terms of what I will be able to realize in my life.

Every time I prepare to lead The Shadow Process, I start thinking about and asking to be shown what shadow I most need to integrate in order to have a radical shift in my life.

A few years ago, my goal was to write a book. I spent months caught up in the cycle of starting, stopping, promising myself I would start again, preparing to start, finding an excuse to postpone starting, feeling guilty about not starting, starting, and then stopping again. I came up with very justified reasons for my postponements and delays but underneath them all was fear -- the fear I could not do it. At that point, I wasn't even worried about whether the book would be "good" or not. I just feared that I would never have the wherewithal to complete a book and that would mean I was unsuccessful, an obvious shadow -- a characteristic I did not want to be.

So at The Shadow Process, I worked on the shadow I had around being "unsuccessful." I realized the gift of "unsuccessful" is that it allowed me to let go of situations that no longer served me like my marriage or an unfulfilling business. In working with "unsuccessful," I also realized that I never owned the "successful" part of myself either. Although on a cognitive level, I knew that I had achieved a lot of accomplishments and had the degrees and accolades to affirm that, I never really saw myself as "successful" because there was always that next thing I told myself I needed to accomplish before I truly would be "successful" -- just like my father! When I made peace with and owned that I was both "unsuccessful" and "successful," I went home, sat on my living room couch every weekend, and finished my book within a few months.

My next issue came as a result of a bit of a surprise. Not only had I finished my book but I actually really liked it. It felt like the book wanted to be something more than a manuscript I completed and would just email to my family, close friends, and clients if they expressed interest in reading it. I needed to establish a plan to "get it out there." But to do this, it would require me to take a risk, step outside of my comfort zone, and let my work be seen. Luckily for me, just as I was hitting this quandary, there was an upcoming Shadow Process! Once again I asked to be shown what shadow and parts of myself I needed to integrate in order to take that next evolutionary leap in my life. Always thinking I had a good relationship with being both "visible" and "invisible," I was shocked that these were the two words that came up for me to work through during that weekend workshop. Although I knew I had fear about not making a mark in the world, not being special, and being invisible, I did not realize how much fear I had about being visible and how unsafe that felt to me on a cellular level. As a result of my work that weekend, I was able shift my beliefs about being "visible." I now truly believe that it is safe for me to be visible and I know that if and when I don't feel safe being visible, I have the power to cloak myself with my cape of invisibility since they both serve and protect me.

I am happy to report that since then I have gone on to find a publisher (Sounds True) and today, just hours ago, I finished my last round of copy edits! My book The Integrity Advantage: Step into Your Truth, Love Your Life, and Claim Your Magnificence is being published in November, 2017. Although I am taking this process of writing a book and becoming an author one step at a time, and I'm not exactly sure what will come next, I do know that issues and insecurities will arise. I am grateful to have the work that I teach as the tool I turn to for the insight I need to fuel my next evolutionary leap! I am excited that our next Shadow Process Workshop is right around the corner -- April 7th to April 9th. I invite you to join me if you too are looking for that insight that will be the catalyst for your evolutionary leap.

Transformational Action Steps

1. Think about a goal you want to accomplish.

2. Ask to be shown or identify a characteristic, quality, or part of yourself that you need to integrate in order to achieve that goal.

3. In order to really cultivate that characteristic, ask yourself every morning for two to four weeks, "What action can I do today that will support me in really being that characteristic or owning that characteristic inside of me?"

4. Take those actions!

5. Come join us in Los Angeles April 7th to April 9th for The Shadow Process Workshop. (Bring a friend, family member, or partner and get 50% off their ticket. Just enter the Promo Code FRIEND and click Apply at checkout when you register together for this life-changing weekend workshop.)

Is Your Present Partner a Victim of Your Past Relationships?

Is Your Present Partner a Victim of Your Past Relationships?

The other day I was speaking to a friend who had just started dating someone a few months ago. Although his face lit up as he exuberantly told me about the "fabulous" new woman in his life and all of the fun they are having, after a while he paused and said, "There is only one thing...I am the victim of her past relationships."

When I asked him what he meant, he explained that as a result of the "bad guys" she had been with in the past, she was guarded, not trusting, and even skeptical of some of the things my friend would say to her. She was dubious about the possibility of "happily ever after" when it comes to relationships. Although my friend concluded that with patience and time his new girlfriend would realize that he was different from the people in her past, I kept thinking about his comment.

After working with hundreds of people, I know that it is common for people to think that they are dealing with the leftover residue and trauma of their partner's past relationships. Yet, even though that may be true and people do bring their past experiences into their current circumstances, it goes deeper than that. We date our partner's shadows!

Our partner's past relationships, as well as the experience and relationship they are having with us, are dictated by their shadows and more specifically their shadow beliefs. They are being shaped and impacted by all of the limiting beliefs, underlying fears, and negative meanings and interpretations that they consciously or unconsciously created about love and relationships when they were actually too young to even have the mental wherewithal to understand about love, relationships, or the messages they were receiving about these subjects since they were just children.

For those of you who are not familiar with shadow beliefs, shadow beliefs are the unconscious limiting beliefs that are created in an instant as a result of the environment we were raised in or some emotionally charged incident that happens when we are young. Since as a child we don't know how to process or digest the situation, we create a meaning out of the situation - we make it mean something about us, the world, or any given subject matter. The experience then fades into the shadows of our conscious memory – but the shadow beliefs, those limiting interpretations, live on and shape our reality.

Love and relationships are two of the richest areas that people have lots of shadow beliefs about. Whether they came from the interactions of their parents, feelings of abandonment from a loved one who is never around, or what we actually saw or heard about relationships, many of us form shadow beliefs like:

"I am unlovable."
"People leave me."
"Love hurts."
"You can't trust anyone."
"Love is unsafe."
"Nothing lasts forever."
"If I am not perfect, I will be rejected."
"I am unworthy of love."

It is then these shadow beliefs that, whether we realize it or not, dictate the type of partner we attract, the way we interact with them, and the issues that come up in our relationship. It is these shadow beliefs that cause us, or our partner, to engage in behaviors, reactions, or patterns like leaving before we are left, creating drama, not speaking our truth, not trusting, rolling our eyes at anything our partner says, becoming too clingy, or being reticent to make plans for the future.

Although our shadow beliefs may protect, benefit, or serve us in some ways, the problem is that they become self-fulfilling prophecies and determine the fate of our relationships. If you or your partner believes "love never lasts," then it won't! If our partner has a shadow belief that "people will disappoint me," then no matter what you do, how hard you try, how fast you dance, or how good you are, one day something will happen and you will become the next disappointment in your partner's life.

But don't despair! We can shift our shadow beliefs and create a different ending in our love story. This is one of the reasons I love when couples participate in The Shadow Process Workshop together. They begin to unconceal the shadow beliefs that are impacting the way they behave in relationship. They also begin to understand that the way they each act is really not about the other person. It derives from their shadows. Realizing that it isn't "personal" they begin to have more understanding and compassion for each other. As their insecurity, hurt, anger, and resentment dissipate, their authenticity, intimacy, and connection intensifies. They are able to realize, relax, and revel in their relationship in a whole new way.

They also come to understand that we are not the victim of our partner's past. We actually called in that partner for a reason!

In any and all situations, we have the choice to view ourselves as either victims or co-creators. If, like we do in our work, we stand in the belief that we are always co-creating our lives whether we realize it or not, then when it comes to our relationships, we actually called into our lives that particular partner with those particular shadow beliefs for a reason. They are there to show us ourselves so we can continue to grow and evolve. As co-creators, we call forth the people and situations that we most need to support us in realizing new insights about ourselves, or even ripping a band-aid off of some old wound so that it can be tended to and truly healed.

I often say that in relationships our shadows and wounds fit with those of our partners like puzzle pieces. This is why you often see that a person with a fear of abandonment attracts a partner with a fear of commitment. The person with the fear of commitment needs to learn to lean into a relationship and commit while the person with abandonment issues need to learn not abandon themselves. Or like in my friend's situation, maybe he called forth a woman with trust issues so he could look at where in his life he is not trusting. It may not be in intimate relationships like his girlfriend but maybe it is in business or with his family. In this way, we are never the victim of present partner's past relationships. We are the beneficiary of them. We are actually always choosing the perfect partner, even with all of their shadows and past histories, to teach us the perfect lessons that we need to learn for our soul's evolution, growth, and healing! They offer the next crucial piece to our ultimate destination of wholeness.

Transformational Action Steps

  1. Start thinking about the environment that you grew up in and any emotionally charged incidents that may have impacted your beliefs or fears about love and relationships.
     
  2. See how those beliefs have impacted your experiences as well as your partner's experiences with you.
     
  3. Replace those old disempowering beliefs with some new empowering ones that will support you in getting the love you need.
     
  4. Come with your partner to The Shadow Process Workshop April 7th to April 9th in Los Angeles. Bring your partner and get 50% off their ticket. Just enter the Promo Code FRIEND and click Apply at checkout when you register together for this life-changing weekend workshop.

Rewriting Your Valentine's Day Story

Rewriting Your Valentine's Day Story

It's Valentine's Day – a day when many wear red, receive roses, and revel in romance, while others roll their eyes, denounce it as being "no big deal," and wish they could ignore it completely. It is also a day that can trigger painful memories, uncomfortable emotions, and give rise to a steady stream of shadow beliefs that generate negative self-talk that loops in our head. Instead of hearing "silly love songs," we hear a choir of self-condemnation and criticism that reminds us we are unlovable, losers, damaged, broken, or just not worthy of hearts and flowers or deserving of any of the sweet, juicy stuff that life has to offer.

I must admit I was definitely one of those who always dreaded Valentine's Day. If I was in a relationship, I always worried that my partner would not show up the way I wanted him to. If I was not in a relationship, I just wanted to hide under the covers and not have to face the shame of what I made being single and alone mean about me. No matter what my situation was at the time, I had a whole story around this day of love and romance and despite whatever transpired, my Valentine's Day story always had the same ending. For me, V-Day was D-Day - A Day of Disappointment!

For those of you who may not be familiar with the concept of story, our story is all of the beliefs and meanings that we assign to an event or situation. Put another way, it is the fiction that we wrap around the facts of our lives. For example, if I was not in a relationship on Valentine's Day I might have made it mean that something was wrong with me or no one would ever want me and I would die alone. Or if my partner did not get me a gift, I might have made it mean that he did not love me. Now the important thing about our stories is that they are not the truth, they are just a bunch of meanings that we sometimes consciously and more often unconsciously create and wrap around a set of facts. Our stories are not necessarily true or false, bad or good, but they are limiting. Predicated on our shadow beliefs, they impact our ability to receive in the present and become self-fulfilling prophecies for our future.

Why do you think so many of us have so much anxiety and fear about our futures? We live in fear because when we are being run by our stories from the past. Our futures are predictable since our stories always have the same ending!

Our stories are set in stone unless we proactively dissect them and unconceal the shadow beliefs that lurk beneath the surface of our conscious mind. Our shadow beliefs drive our thoughts and behavior, whether we're aware of it or not. When you become aware of your story, you can consciously choose to step out of your story heartbreak, and disappointment and into a place of possibilities where you have the power to rewrite the ending of your love story.

One of the reasons I love leading and being a part of The Shadow Process Workshop is because I get to witness people wake up to their shadows of shame, legacies of lack, and histories of humiliation. They start realizing the meaning-making, plot lines, and themes that have been running and wreaking havoc on their lives. They begin to recognize their story for what it is – a story that is like a song that gets played way too much on the radio, unconsciously infiltrating their thoughts and sabotaging their ability to receive abundance.

The good news is you have the power to change the channel, turn the page, and step out of any story you have created about any subject. You can recommit to looking at yourself and your life through fresh eyes, and find the moral to your story and the lessons learned. So on this Valentine's Day, or any other day you are entranced by a story, I want to invite you to step out of the prison of your past perceptions and adopt the look of love!

Transformational Action Steps

  1. Start thinking about Valentine's Day or any significant event (birthday, New Year's Eve, first day of school, etc.) that brings up feelings of ambivalence, dread, anxiety, sadness, etc.
     
  2. Write out your story about that particular event – and make it dramatic.
     
    • What has happened in the past that made you feel those feelings?
    • How did you interpret those events?
    • What did you make them mean about you?
    • How have those meanings impacted the way you view that event?
    • What can you now see about your story?
    • What is the cost of holding on to it?
    • What is the wisdom you are ready to extract from your story?
       
  3. Create a new story. Write out your vision for that event – what you would like to experience and the feelings you would like to feel.
     
  4. Consciously take on stepping out of your old story and into your new vision.
     
  5. Come join us at The Shadow Process Workshop in Los Angeles April 7th – 9th.

Sending you lots of love and happiness on Valentine's Day!
Kelley

Bringing Attention To Your Intention

Bringing Attention To Your Intention

In Debbie Ford's last book, Courage, she talks about "becoming unrecognizable." Loving that concept from the moment she first shared it, I eagerly took on living my life from the bar of unrecognizable. Whether it's being more aware of my finances or carving out time to do nothing and relax on the weekends, I am always willing to give up who I am for who I can become and to look at how I have done things for new ways that are wanting and needing to be birthed.

In the past year, I have become unrecognizable when it comes to my level of engagement in what is happening in the world. Like many, I have gone from being more of a casual, weekend spectator to someone who feels compelled to know more of the everyday play-by-play. Lucky for me, between social media and all of the news outlets, there is never a shortage of sources I can tune into to get my fill of what is going on in the world and what people are saying as well as everyone's commentary on other people's commentaries. Yet, the self-observation that I find so fascinating is that the more involved in this conversation I become, the less I want to say. Why? Because as I listen to all of the commentary and read all of the tweets and posts, I become acutely aware of the power of words.

We all know that words can inspire or incite, cause healing or hatred, unite or divide. And just like when you hammer a nail into a piece of wood, if you decide that you want to pull out the nail, the imprint the nail makes on the wood lasts forever, such is the impact of the power of our communications. Even if after uttering a remark, you later try to retract your words, explain your statement, or jest your way out of a judgment, just like the nail in wood, the imprint of words can last a lifetime and the impact is beyond repair. Even if they are eventually forgiven, they may not be forgotten.

Now more than ever, when there seems to be an endless war of words, we need to strive to take greater responsibility for our words before they are uttered. Instead of relying on "fact checking" after a communication is made, we need to shift our attention to our intention and let that be the mandate from which our communications are birthed.

As Debbie writes in The Best Year of Your Life, "Intent is to humans what software is to a computer…An intent is a commitment to yourself to bring into existence a particular result. It is the driving force, the hidden compass that directs your daily behaviors. A conscious intent acts as an organizing principle, guiding you to make empowering choices."

It is crucial to take time to think before we speak, tweet, post, make an eye roll, or some sort of body or facial expression, and ask ourselves questions like:

1. Who do I want to be inside of this conversation?

2. What is my purpose and intent for my communication?

3. What will the ripple effect of my communication be? What imprint might it have on others?

When we consciously define who we want to be inside of a conversation and the position we want to take, knowing that like throwing a rock across the top of a lake, there will be a ripple effect, then we consciously create an intention that can serve as a mandate for our communications. And of course it is often our shadows - the fears, negative thoughts and beliefs, and shame that lives inside of our wounded ego - that drive our automatic, unconscious communications and sabotages our ability to be conscious communicators. Our need to be liked, validated, appear cool, tough, wise, and popular, can influence our conversations and determine the impact and imprint of our messaging.

We are blessed with the liberty of free speech yet it is up each of us to bring our attention to our intention when it comes to our communications. Others don't necessarily need to agree with or like what you say, but when you take on being a conscious communicator at least they might respect that you mean what you say and say what you mean. More importantly your sense of self-trust and integrity will rise as you consciously create who you are being in the world and the legacy of your message.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Before you enter any conversation, bring your attention to your intention and ask yourself:

- Who do I want to be inside of this conversation?

- What is my purpose and intent for my communication?

(2) See your communication as a rock being thrown across a lake. Think about: What will the ripple effect of my communication be? What imprint might it have on others and the world?

(3) When you get clear on these answers and your intention, breathe what you find into every cell of you body and use it as the mandate or organizing principle that sources your communications.

(4) To dive deeper into becoming unrecognizable and embracing your shadow, join us for The Shadow Process Workshop April 7th to April 9th in Los Angeles.

Are You Creating the Life You Want?

Are You Creating the Life You Want?

As we embark on a new year, it is only natural for most of us to be somewhat introspective and to do our own personal "year-in-review." We evaluate our successes, what we might do differently and hopefully what we learned. We assess where we are and what we want to create by asking ourselves powerful questions, like: "Am I on the right path?" "Am I happy?" and a question I hear more and more frequently, "Am I creating the life I even want?"

If you are reading this, chances are you are a person who is self-reflective and interested in continued self-growth, evolution and "being the best you can be." But even for those of us on this path, I am sure there are days when you wake up to your positive affirmations, vision boards, inventory of goals and resolutions, and your daily "to-do" lists, and wonder, "What am I doing all of this for?" "What is it I am chasing?"

Although these questions may feel heavy at first, they are there to serve your highest. They arise from the stirrings of your soul and are generally wrapped in your feelings of discontent. For many the voice of discontent starts off as a subtle murmur. It can be easy to ignore because you are caught up in the rhythm of going, doing and achieving. But with time the thrill of the chase and even the applause of the accomplishments can't diminish that gnawing feeling that you are stuck on a treadmill trying to run as fast as you can, make others happy, fulfill someone else's dream or satisfy some picture of what your life "should be." And the good news, (yes, I said "good news") is that at some point the voice of your discontent will become so great, the pain will become so palpable, that you will no longer be able to ignore, deny or numb that voice inside. Instead it will capture your full attention and demand that you do something different. It will insist that you take the time to stop running as fast as you can for as many miles as you can and instead step off of the treadmill and reconnect!

You must reconnect to a source deep inside of yourself rather than referring to the same old list of goals to be achieved, milestones to be marked, and "shoulds" to be accomplished -- a list created by your ego or should I say your wounded ego. If you really want to create a life that lights you up, you need to reconnect with your soul.

Suffering, pain and discontent are all signs that you are creating a life based on your wounded ego's desires rather than your soul's path. They are there to wake you up and let you know that you have lost sight of your soul's dream; that you have strayed from your highest path. Your soul (also referred to as your divine, higher, sacred, or authentic self) knows exactly how to make your life a magical wonderland. When you are in sync with your soul's desires, you don't feel compelled to create a persona, be someone that you are not, or prove to the outer world how great your life is. When living in union with your soul's path, life flows. There is no ache for more, better or different! You will come from a place of inner certainty and an unapologetic aliveness that lights you up and illuminates a path for others. When you follow your soul, you will create a life you want and love.

So at this very fertile time of the new year, take time to tune into your voice of discontent, disenchantment or even defeat. Identify the areas and situations in your life, where these feelings exist and recognize that these are actually the cries of your soul letting you know that it is wanting and aching for something more -- a "something more" that only you can give to you! For as we all know, "If you do not go within, you go without!"

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Take time to get quiet and reconnect.

(2) Think about the different areas of your life and allow yourself to feel the feelings that emerge as you reflect on those areas. Which are the areas or situations where you feel discontent, suffering or that gnawing feeling that something is off?

(3) Identify what your wounded ego is telling you that you should be doing or accomplishing in those areas of your life. What are the stories you tell yourself about what you "should be" doing or accomplishing in your life?

(4) Take a few deep breaths, feel the breath connect with your heart, and ask yourself, "What is for my soul aching to create or experience in this situation or area of my life?"

(5) Just listen and trust!

(6) Get some support in laying the foundation for 2017 to be the best year ever. There is still time to join us for Radical Reinvention!
 

Your Past Does Not Have to Be Your Future ~ Reinvent Yourself In 2017!

Your Past Does Not Have to Be Your Future ~ Reinvent Yourself In 2017!

It is with enormous enthusiasm that I write the first newsletter of 2017. I am excited about welcoming the start of a new year and standing with you in a place of unlimited possibilities and the promise of creating an off-the-charts year! There is no time like the present for us all to declare and claim that "This is my year and it starts now!"

Like many of you, I have spent the last few weeks taking time off, unplugging from my normal work schedule and day-to-day routine, and contemplating my vision for 2017. As I did this, I became acutely aware of all of the things I do out of habit or on automatic pilot. I noticed all the things I do without questioning or based on what I have done in the past. Becoming present to this realization and the impact that this behavior has on molding my life, I stopped and questioned myself. "Is it the truth that I need to work out 7 days per week, that I can only take Fridays off, or that I can never cancel a date with someone unless I give them twenty-four hours notice? Or are these all stories I have told myself and have come to regard as the truth?" In short, I had to look at whether I just made up all of these self-imposed guidelines for my life and was continuing to live by them out of habit even though they may not have been serving my highest or bringing me joy.

As many wise sages have said, the greatest predictor of the future is the past. It is without question that this adage will continue to ring true as long as we all stay on automatic pilot, seeing and interpreting situations through a myopic perspective and believing that the stories we tell ourselves are the only truth. Our past will continue to be the greatest predictor of our future as long as we react to certain events and manage particular areas of our lives as if they are set in stone.

The fact is that not only do we allow our own thoughts and self-imposed guidelines to dictate our behavior, but we also project on to others what we believe they want for us or think we should do. Then we let those projections and suppositions drive our life. As I have started to challenge my own reality, I have had to question what I am convinced is the truth for others, "Do my children really hate it when I go out and leave them at home? Would my friend really be opposed to changing our plans last minute and ordering take-out instead of getting all dressed up and going out? Is Sunday night the only night I can have my weekly dinner with my mother or could we change it to Friday every once in a while?" The answer to all of these questions is, "Definitely Not!" Yet until I ask I will never know. And most of the time I don't even ask because these are all things I have told myself are truths and used as the basis of my decision-making process!

A promise that I have made to myself for 2017 is to look at my life and my day-to-day choices and patterns with fresh eyes; to not just assume that the way I did something in the past is how I have to do it in 2017, and to really challenge my assumptions by asking:

  • What are the stories, or actually even the lies, I am telling myself?
     
  • What am I doing as a result of a routine, automatic pilot or even some made-up sense of obligation?
     
  • What serves me?
     
  • What excites me?
     
  • What could I do differently that maybe I have never even saw or thought of before?

Our options are truly infinite! And sometimes just some "small" tweaks in your routine can make a huge difference in your life, but you need to wake up to your right of choice. You don't have to "do your life" in the future as you have in the past.

The time is now to take on radically reinventing your life! It starts with waking up to the fictions you have created. The good news is that even though you might have been the one to place all of these self-imposed guidelines on your life, you are also the one who has the power to look at situations through new eyes, question the status-quo, release yourself from the bondage of the past, and create your life in a fresh new way that will leave you feeling energized and excited about who you are and what you get to do on a daily basis!

We at The Ford Institute wish you a joyous and inspiring new year. We hope that we can continue to connect in a way that is supportive and life-changing!

Transformational Action Steps: Start Busting Your Status-Quo!

  1. Begin noticing the things you do automatically or because you have done them that way in the past. Do you have the same thing for breakfast every day? Do you go to the same vacation spot every February? Do you jog the same route on Sunday mornings?
     
  2. Start to question and challenge the habits you are seeing. Ask yourself:
     
    • What are the stories, or actually even the lies, I am telling myself?
    • What am I doing as a result of a routine, automatic pilot or even some made-up sense of obligation?
    • What serves me?
    • What excites me?
    • What could I do differently that maybe I have never even seen or thought of before?

    •  
  3. Try doing one, then two, then three things differently. Experiment with options, you can always go back to the old way of doing things or things don't have to be black or white – you can vary things, the point is to have fun and shake it up! Who knows what you will find.
     
  4. Get some support in laying the foundation for 2017 to be the best year ever. There is still time to join us for Radical Reinvention!

A New Year's Ritual

A New Year's Ritual

This is a tremendously powerful time of year -- a time when the universe is moving all of us in an exciting and positive direction, a time when everyone, whether they know it or not, is looking to complete the past and move into a new future. 2017 offers all of us a new beginning!

We're excited to share with you Debbie Ford's 2012 New Year's Ritual (with a few updates) to support you in clearing out the past and opening up to a new future. This ritual is a great opportunity to powerfully end this year, igniting new possibilities in your inner and outer worlds, so we invite you to set aside some time to read her message and do the exercise she outlines.

We at The Ford Institute are wishing you a healthy, happy, inspired new year. We look forward to continuing to support you in 2017.

With love,
Kelley

A New Year's Ritual
by Debbie Ford

In the fertile soil of the last few days of the year, I want to support you in laying the internal foundation for a deeply satisfying and rewarding year ahead. As many wise sages have said, the greatest predictor of the future is the past. It is my belief that once we learn the lessons of the past -- and are willing to really "get" those lessons -- we don't have to repeat them. Our souls are always trying to get us to evolve. And just how do we evolve? Through learning the lessons of our past -- recognizing them, owning them and incorporating what we discover into our lives. So I offer you this New Year's Ritual that will reap huge rewards for you in the months to come.

Look Through the Eyes of the Universe

Take a deep, centering breath, and say to the universe: "I know you have a very important lesson for me - my soul's lesson. There is something very important that you've been trying to teach me through the experiences, circumstances and people you've put in front of me. I acknowledge that this lesson is imperative for me to learn in order to have 2017 truly be a new new year and not a year of disappointing repetition. What is that one lesson?" Listen for the answer and write it down.

Your New Internal State

Imagine that your soul is hungry. It's starving for a state of being -- an internal environment for you to live in each day. What are the feelings that you most desire to have in 2017? With a deep breath and big exhale, ask yourself: "What is the internal environment that I'm longing to live inside of?" Is it an environment of love, peace, quiet, safety, freedom, happiness, joy, aliveness? For example, one of my staff members saw that she wanted to live in an environment of inner peace, and in that space there would be a feeling of certainty for her. As you listen for answers and write down what you hear, continue to ask your soul to reveal what it hungers for.

An Internal Shift

What two thoughts or beliefs would you have to let go of in order to create that environment? Could it be the belief that you're not good enough, not worthy, not safe, or not loved? Write them down.

An External Shift

Now let yourself see what would have to shift in your external world to support that new internal environment. What two habits or behaviors would you have to let go of in order to create your desired internal environment? People-pleasing, pleasure-seeking, procrastination, disorganization, staying in an unhealthy relationship, overworking? Write down the two habits or behaviors.

Integrity Anchors

Knowing that it is vitally important to move your awareness into action, allow yourself to identify two action steps you are willing to take this week to create this internal environment. Choose two simple actions that will serve as anchors to nourishing your new inner state. Perhaps it's creating a new morning ritual, taking a brisk daily walk, attending Weight Watchers, playing a special piece of music for yourself, ten minutes of nightly meditation, or scheduling the time to get radically organized so you can handle your busy life with ease. Write down your two action steps.

Re-Imagination

Give yourself some time to journal about what will become available to you in the new year by learning the lessons, letting go and leaving the past where it belongs. Let your imagination run wild as you open up to re-creating your life anew.

Seal It In

For the next 21 days straight, spend a minimum of two minutes at the beginning of the day and before you go to bed reviewing your notes from this New Year's Ritual. Bring yourself into the presence of your new internal environment. Feel its vibration. Bask in the feeling your soul is longing for. Close your eyes and ask the powers that be to support you in cultivating this state of being.

By embracing the significant lessons of 2016, you're saying yes to miraculous new beginnings. You won't have to worry about your resolutions or your goals. You'll get everything that you desire.