I’ve been somewhat MIA from my blog world lately, but for good reason. In my writing journey there have been many projects I have started, many projects that have inspired me, and many projects that rekindled my love of expressing myself through the written word. However, there has never been a writing project this big that I have started and finished, until now.
I have been knee deep in a collaborative project with a beautiful friend, creating a world of color, laughter, courage and dreams in a children’s book. I am so excited that I had to announce to everyone I know that after ten days and 12k words, early this morning I typed “The End” and we officially have our very first book!
This writing project has been the most inspiring and fulfilling I have ever done, and I am convinced it is because when you create with like-minded people with much different gifts to offer, it ignites a blinding light from inside. We are all blessed with a gift, unique to each of us, don’t wish for another’s, nourish your own and then work together to do amazing things!
Now on to the “fun” part of editing, querying and hoping this project finds its way into the hands of someone who sees what we do. To all the artists, writers and creators, believe in your gift, listen to your heart, keep writing, keep creating, as the world needs to hear your voice.
My journey of self-discovery started years ago, and I wasn’t even aware. The components to what would allow me to find my true path in this life as the true me would show themselves throughout the course of my walk before I understood what it all truly meant. I say this because I believe that is true for all of us. There are light bulbs that go on in our hearts and in our head many times during our journey, but it takes experience, love and self-awareness to begin to listen. Today after yet another profound discovery about myself, I was drawn to pick up an old journal and out dropped a single piece of paper with the following written on it, front and back. This was written 10 years ago, before I read the Universe Has Your Back, before I read a single self-help book and at the start of what I will call now my journey to my truth…
I am about to turn 30 and I am amazed even still with the events, people and personalities that surround me. In my opinion my life is “low key”, I don’t party, I have limited friends and for some reason as a few have said I am still a drama magnet… For so long in my life I was such a negative, unhappy, unpleasable person. … I see things different for the most part, a genuinely happy person yet still unpleasable. …., and I am still amazed, shocked and uneasy with the amount of sadness, pain and insensitivity.
I think the one major thing in my life that has massively changed is the ability to forgive. It has set me free but leaves me questioning why we are so shocked at the behavior of our children. ….we live in a society of revenge, hatred and negativity. …. Blame drugs, blame TV, blame others, but really, they learn from watching us, as individuals and as a whole.
Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend and telling her that I was lucky to have not lost, in death, anyone close to me. My “luck” didn’t last long after that conversation, and it continues to remind me every day is precious and beautiful, and to be negative and unforgiving is a waste of time and energy because what you do here, now, reflects who you are after death, and how do you want to be remembered?
While this may sound like rambling to you because honestly that’s what it was at time, this was the beginning for me. How did I want to be remembered, what legacy was I to leave behind, specifically for my children? From that point forward, I was searching for the answer. While there have been many challenges along the way, and lessons I needed to learn, I find that one thing is for certain, forgiveness is the key, and love is the answer.
My journey will continue and will be ever evolving because I believe that is life, and while I am much farther along than I was 10 years ago, I know I still have a lot to learn. My wish for you is that you listen to your heart and the lessons, fill your life with love, and live with good intentions in the journey to your truth.
It was months ago when my dear friend and I had dinner and talked about this crazy idea of taking off for the weekend to experience self-discovery by way of a Women’s Work/Life Integration Retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center hosted by Jennifer Connelly of Triple W Forum. After discussing the program, the travel and all it would entail, we laughed and promised we’d investigate it, but honestly, we both knew the possibility of actually following through was slim for many reasons. However, the idea of experiencing clarity, centering and relaxation on the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the beautiful fall, continued to nag at me as the weeks passed by.
It was a morning on my way to work when the nagging turned into a question of “why not”? Why not travel to a mountain top of serenity?; Why not take time to focus on the one person that gets lost in the hustle…Me?; Why not go to a place filled with like-minded and inspiring women?; Why not go with the intention to find clarity for my heart, my mind and my soul? Why not? I couldn’t think of a good answer, so the second I shut the car off, I sent my friend a message and our journey began. Before we knew it, and after a few clicks of the keyboard, we were off on an adventure that would change our mindset, our hearts and set us on a course of incredible change.
It was an 11-hour drive through the most gorgeous scenery, filled with the colorful paintbrush of nature, and while it rained the entire ride, we barely noticed as we were engrossed in conversation, excitement and wonder for what was to come. Upon our arrival we were in awe of the view and the facility, which spans thirty acres of mountainous forest. After check-in, we explored the gift shop located near registration, and while entranced by the calming smell of incense, I of course, could not leave empty handed, believing I could read not just one, but two, inspirational books while we were there. We were then ready to head to our room which was a short trip down the winding mountain and, just our luck, located right next door to the Shankara Ayurveda Spa. We were pleasantly surprised with our lovely newly renovated room, comfortable beds and spectacular picture window that framed the landscape. Sleep turned out to be difficult only due to the anticipation of the weekend before us.
Waking Friday with excitement, as our schedules were full of 1:1 coaching sessions with Jennifer, massages, Ayurvedic lunch, and our initial group sessions with the 18 other women who chose to ask themselves Why Not? We were ready, even though we had no idea what to expect, but what we discovered is that sometimes, that’s the best way to make beautiful changes in your life. Walk without fear through the opportunities that present themselves.
While I want to include each and every detail in order to give all the events and experience justice, it may start to look like a novel, so from here on out I thought I would touch the highlights to leave some sense of mystery, so that, next time this retreat comes around, you ask yourself, Why Not?
TRIPLE W FORUM (Jennifer Connelly)
So, who was the brilliant mind behind this inspirational weekend? While I believe she would humbly list her tribe and her people, as we cannot walk our paths without the support of an army, our MC and our guide, Jennifer Connelly, showed up as a light for us all with breathing techniques, visualizations, yoga, including at sunrise, forest bathing and the Birkman Method, teaching us information about ourselves we didn’t even realize existed within. If I tell you nothing else about Jennifer, I will tell you this, she is without a doubt living in her truth, doing exactly what she was meant to do in this life.
The concept and flow of the events allowed for the program to be engaging, relaxing, and filled with tools for your tool belt to take with you on your journey home, and to think, she did it all right there on the mountain top. Facilitating the retreat with kindness and ease by way of her company, Triple W Forum, which she founded in 2009 as a way to provide a “transformative platform for professional and personal development for individuals and organizations” she provided an experience I will carry with me always, and plan to have again next year.
As part of the retreat activities we had the pleasure of being introduced to three wonderful speakers. Each bringing something a little different to the table, they presented us with thought provoking questions and practical solutions for implementing positive change in our lives.
Our first speaker was Walter Crawford, Personal & Life Development Coach at Crawford Corner, who with his easygoing and fun personality gave us insight on how expectations show up in our lives. We explored how to recognize these expectations, if they are fairly placed, how to assess their value, and understand that communication is key in managing any expectation in your life.
We then heard from Mary Beth Sawicki, founding partner at Trilogy Effect, a boutique consulting firm that works with people to surface potential. Mary Beth was a sweet soul who gave us a plan on how to face and resolve upsets and incompletion in our lives. Through her personal story (that I will be following up on) she took us through the steps of addressing our upsets by identifying, distinguishing and assessing the situation for what it really is, and moving forward in a positive way.
Last but certainly not least Ellen Burton, Leadership Coach of EJ Burton & Associates, and now Author of “The Civility Project: How Corporate Culture Impacts Wellness, Productivity and Profit” gave us her genuine take on Reverence and how kindness increases your prosperity. In an interactive presentation, Ellen took us through the emotional side of both a negative and positive workspace and how each affect productivity and essentially profit. Wrapping with the conclusion that kindness, respect and civility are the best practices for overall performance.
While each brought a special light to the group, we were also given the opportunity to meet with them one on one for the insight and advise in what was happening in our own individual worlds.
While I am beyond grateful for each of the events and people I have discussed above, the most incredible part of the retreat were the connections made with each and every individual who attended, participants and coaches alike. Getting to know the courageous women, and man, who showed up as their vulnerable, true selves is an experience that I will not forget. Inspired by their lives, their reasons, their passions, and their openness, my heart will forever be changed. Each of us there for our own personal reason, each of us there with very different stories, but all of us there to better ourselves so we can live as the best versions of us.
THE ART OF LIVING RETREAT CENTER
In addition to the Triple W retreat activities we also found plenty to do around the Center itself. Not the traditional cabin in the woods, The Art of Living Retreat Center practices and encourages the practice of Ayruveda, which in Sanskrit means “The Science of Life.” Ayruveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs.
Specifically, you will not only find traditional American massage offered at the spa but the Ayruvedic massage therapy as well, which incorporates oils and rhythmic soft tissue massage that not only nourishes your muscles but also your nervous system.
Additionally, their food is an Ayurvedic diet, which is fresh (without pesticides, additives and other chemicals), seasonal, and as often as possible local. I was nervous about this part because I’m such a picky eater, but it turned out, the food was delicious, and it was even better to know I was eating clean.
Now, if you weren’t enjoying a massage or eating in the large beautiful dining room overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, you could choose to attend one of the Center’s yoga or meditation classes, a guided tour of the grounds including a look inside the grand meditation hall, or make an appointment to create pottery (check out this post for info on Karen, who re-kickstarted her beautiful craft on one of these retreats), or hike the paths within the surrounding 30 acres of nature.
I really didn’t think there would be words to describe my weekend of self-discovery, but I sure did find them. To say the least, this trip was worth every cent spent, every schedule changed and every hour in the car. The experience was one I will carry with me as I walk in the version of me I like best, and I look forward to the next time. I cannot thank the coaches, Jennifer, Triple W and all the amazing connections I made on this journey as I was finding my truth on the mountain top.
So after many years of boycotting short story contests due to constant perceived rejection, I submitted!! This is exciting because I truly was scarred from the past. While I look at my work from back then and can now see beyond my ego that the quality was not deserving of anything but rejection, and I know I have grown as a person and a writer, I still have butterflies 🙂 Wish me luck!!
Anyone else have this experience and have you submitted to any contests lately??
In contemplating my next post, I realized that through this journey so far of discussing honoring your story, love, forgiveness and finding your Truth, I never properly introduced myself. I find that to be a gigantic oversight, because how can you relate to someone who talks about having a story but never told it. While each of my posts give you a glimpse of who I am as a mom, a writer and that my path has not always been smooth sailing, I feel it’s time to give you a summary of me and how I got here.
While I could write a book about my life to this point (unpublished, but I actually have, which is how I found my love of writing), I feel a good summary of significant points in my journey would be enough to give you an idea of just who I am, and why my path has lead me to this blog and to the desire to write a book.
There is beauty and humility in imperfection. ~ Guillermo del Toro
As a Child –
As a younger version of me I grew up as the oldest of two. I’d like to think of myself as a good big sister, but I was far from it. The moment my brother came home, there was something really special about him, and I knew it, and was jealous enough to make his life miserable for a while. Eventually, we were able to heal our relationship, and presently, we are closer than we have been most of our lives.
However, this particular personality trait is what drove me a good portion of my life -jealous, angry and easily triggered. I felt I was constantly trying to prove something. I was the only girl on my mom’s side of five cousins and my brother, so needless to say, I was a tomboy always looking for my place. I was also an introvert who loved reading, quotes, poetry and art, and dabbled in a little of it all, but never felt I excelled at any, which led to much self-doubt.
Most of my life, I never understood what it meant to be empathic or highly sensitive. (This is a post I plan to cover later on). I never equated this trait to my anxiety. In a nutshell I could actually feel when someone was sad or disappointed, which made me very susceptible to worry, fear, anxiety and depression. I suffered from much of these growing up, never understanding where it came from and how to name it, let alone control it. I learned to hide it well, like I did many things. I felt if I was able to hide my true feelings, I could go through life just like everyone else. Not until later did I realize that facing these truths allowed me to understand them, and embrace them, which allowed me to truly live as me.
My stubborn ways stayed with me as I grew up, and if I set my mind to something or believed I was right, there was no convincing me otherwise. This is where my universal lessons came into play, specifically in my relationships. I chose partners that reflected who I wanted to be, not who I felt I was. I wanted to be confident, strong and know my place in this life, and chose people who I felt exhibited those traits. Unfortunately, these tended to be strong personalities that eventually did not mix well with my own, specifically when I was attempting to find my unique voice.
I was married and divorced twice with two kids before I was thirty years old. After these divorces, and still trying to find my place, feeling that maybe I had it all wrong, my next relationship was with my best friend, who was female and lasted eight years, but also ended due to my need to find out who I truly was in this world. While I now share my life with a wonderful man who is the reflection of my soul, and who walks with me down my true path (this is a story in itself I may write about one day), I have learned through this journey that I am forever grateful to those I’ve shared my life with, as they have shaped me and guided me to where I am today.
My kids are my heart, and I feel I learned a lot as a mom as we grew up together, but it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Due to my failed relationships, my daughter moved 10 times before she was 10, and my son suffered from night terrors, which I have carried guilt about for so very long. They are now 18 and 13 and we have wonderful relationships, but the stories in between could have lead us down much different paths. The biggest lessons I have learned about life have been through my kids, and I am blessed to be in the place I am with them today.
Growing up I never knew what I wanted to do with myself, and was guided in different directions, but ended up within the legal field where I spent most of my adult life. I earned my paralegal degree and worked within several different law firms over a 20 year period. I struggled with this for some time, especially because within that span I learned what writing truly meant to me. Needing a change, I am currently in school as a psychology major, and I found a place within real estate for a utility company. While my passion lies elsewhere, I love that I can support my family surrounded by wonderful people.
I grew up Catholic and for many years I resented the religion and much of what it stood for, never understanding that there is much more to faith than religion. I have found through the many lessons of life, including death, that there is much we can’t see, and much we don’t know, but something much greater exists. In my journey, I have found my faith again, and this has taken me to a new level of understanding and love.
In Life andDeath-
My turning point came when I experienced death in a way I never thought I would experience it. While I had lost family growing up, never did I experience the depth of loss until I had to say goodbye to those who were younger than me or close to my age and heart. In a short period, I lost an 18 year old family member to a fire, a young cousin to addiction, my grandmother who I was very close to, way too soon, my three year old step-nephew to illness, almost lost my dad, and my daughter was gravely struggling in her world. These events rocked me to the core and changed my course.
Once I was able to comprehend what had happened in my life, I was determined to walk the path I was here for and live how I was supposed to live, in happiness and truth, instead of sadness, regret and anger, which took me to my WHY.
There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. ~ Simon Sinek
I have so much to say about this, but will summarize because I plan to post about each stepping stone to my true Why as I continue to blog. My passion for writing started as a kid when I learned just how much quotes inspired me, and still do. I began writing my own from the heart, and at one time even submitted some for copyright. I also loved to draw and read, however, I never thought of myself as creative because my definition of creative was skewed, and felt I didn’t qualify since I wasn’t good at just making up stories on the fly, or a designer or painter.
As I dabbled in the written word through poetry and quotes, I didn’t find my true voice in writing until my second marriage. I was home with my son and struggling with being a mom again, figuring out who I was in the world, and my relationship as a whole. I decided one day to sit down at my old computer and start to type. As soon as I opened that door, the words began to pour out like they had been waiting all that time to be heard, and from then on I knew deep down this was what I was meant to do, it was the matter of figuring out in what capacity.
As I found my voice in writing, life got in the way and I began to work again, and while I temporarily buried this part of me to just do the day by day thing, other passions showed themselves, reminding me that I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I volunteered at the dog shelter, feeling I needed to give back, and I ended up writing about the orphaned dogs. I found I loved to coach, started with volleyball and now coach beginner runners, which is where I found that inspiring those to live their best life is my calling, which I began to write about. I then started and stopped blogging over the years and finally I started this blog and just keep going. Feeling as if there was a hole in my heart, I was searching to fill it, and I ended up right back behind a keyboard.
While my WHY is to inspire through my own stories and lessons, my HOW is through this blog and eventually my many books 😉 I believe every one of us has a WHY and a HOW and it is up to us to find out what they are in order to live the very best versions of ourselves in this incredible life we have been given.
Our purpose is our reason, and living in that purpose is when you become who you are meant to be. I cannot thank each of you enough who take the time to read this blog and to follow my story, and my hope for you is that you find your purpose, and you share it with the world so you can live as the very best you.
The light, the gift, the true nature of our individual being is within each of us, and I believe it is our responsibility and our mission in this life to share these truths with the world. To find these gifts within ourselves may take many attempts that can lead to success, and to failure, but in these successes and in these failures, we learn lessons that teach us understanding, love, forgiveness and how fear can send us astray. If we are blessed with these lessons and have the strength and the ability to see inward and recognize our path, we must move to the direction of this truth.
While I truly believe sharing these blessings is our purpose in this life, there are many times that walking this path is exhausting and our minds tells us to stop. I have had many moments in my life where I just couldn’t or just didn’t want to anymore. My mind would tell me it wasn’t worth it, the time and energy were just too much. I would sink into the comfortable, drown in easy and sit back and wait, hoping what I desired would come to me with little or no effort, and curse when it didn’t. I would think to myself “if this is what I’m am meant to do, why is it so hard, why do I feel pain, or heartache, or disappointment”. These are the moments that I needed to dig deep, to shut out the games my mind would play and to move forward no matter the weight of what was holding me back.
I sat at the volunteer table at Mile 22 of the Chicago Marathon last week and these thoughts of my own life journey cluttered my head. As I cheered the thousands of tired, drenched and physically and mentally drained unique individuals on to the finish line, I didn’t make the connection to my own struggles until now. I had watched the agony on the faces of those who passed and the smiles of those who understood they were almost there. I could relate, maybe not physically in the moment, but mentally on my journey.
To push through, to stay strong, to keep going no matter what mental games you are playing will get you to your true path and purpose of this life. Even when we don’t feel like it, even when the effort seems to outweigh the reward, we must push forward. We must continue to share our gifts and our light for we may not see the rewards in the moment, they will be revealed in the end.
Believe in your truth, and even when it’s difficult to keep going, keep going. Let your heart be your guide and remember how it beats when you shine the light from within.