I’m FINE – Really?

Freaked out/F – ed up

Insecure

Neurotic

Emotional

Now that you know one of the acronyms for FINE, you won’t be able to flippantly say, “I’m fine!” without smiling to yourself anymore. It’s a perfectly fine word that has been ruined by overuse, usually by people who don’t want to tell you that they’re not fine. I was one of those people, and now I can’t say, “I’m fine” anymore.

I first heard this acronym in a 12-step meeting when someone said, “I’m fine” with a bit of an edge and then everyone laughed – yes, they laughed. Then, realizing what he said, he used some more specific words to describe how he really felt – he said, “I’m angry and I’m freaked out!” The overall feeling in the room was “aah, now we hear you and now that you’ve told the truth, don’t you feel better?” After the meeting, he was surrounded by others who were listening, providing support, writing out phone numbers and digging deeply below the surface – no superficiality there.

I used to be one of those superficial people. I had to look good at all costs and I would never, ever let you know that I wasn’t fine. I was definitely freaked out or f-ed up on any given day. I was insecure, neurotic, emotional and a lot of other things like angry, frightened, depressed, confused and adrift but I’d still say “I’m fine!”

I’m so happy this has changed for me and that the people I choose to spend time with are also able to be honest about what’s going on with them. Living authentically and deeply rather than superficially has changed my life and has allowed true connections to develop. If you’re interested in how I moved from despair to joy, I’ve made two videos where I tell my story. If you watch them, I hope they are helpful and if you can relate please let me know. Now, “How are you?”

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Tell the truth about what you are feeling. Tell the truth about what you are thinking. Tell the truth about what you are doing and why.

~ Iyanla Vanzant

Crossroads

What should I do? What choice should I make? Which way should I go? When you’ve done the hard work to reach the place where you are living in integrity, decisions will come from a solid, rational place rather than from knee-jerk reactions. No matter the outcome, there will be nothing to regret.

It’s hard to decide, sometimes, and harder still when living in internal chaos. I’m not talking about what shoes to buy or how I’m going to organize my day – I’m talking about major decisions like getting sober, leaving a marriage, learning how to cope and trying to find purpose.

I’ve lived this and can feel a swelling of anxiety as I remember those days. I was always trying to please others then, working hard to fit in and to present an outward face that I was fine and that everything in my life was perfect. I was living in cognitive dissonance because I was compromising my true self daily.

Thankfully, I finally listened and created a support system for myself because trying to go it alone wasn’t working. I found a group of people who helped me with the baby steps that I decided to take. Each step allowed me to speak truthfully and to slowly move into integrity. As my inner core values began to match my outer self, the hard decisions were easier to make.

I didn’t do everything perfectly and I still made mistakes but these mistakes became opportunities to learn and to grow a bit more rather than reasons to shame myself and die just a little bit more. What a shift in perspective!

This is what integrity brings – a shift in perspective and a feeling of flow where there is very little resistance and fewer gaps between my internal feelings of value and the choices I make and the actions I take.

If you’re in the midst of an internal struggle and would like to learn more about my story of transformation, I have a free offer that might help you. It’s titled, “Why Wait to Find Peace?”

WHY SIGN UP?

• This is for you if you’ve been struggling to find purpose in your life – if you’ve been feeling stuck and wanting something more or different.

• This is for you if you have chosen a life of sobriety but are still unhappy and feeling adrift.

• This is for you if you’d like to feel connected.

WHAT WILL YOU RECEIVE?

• A video where I tell my personal story of recovery, finding my true self, and learning how to live a happy, meaningful and purposeful life – a life of integrity.

• A PDF with journaling prompts for self-reflection.

• A video about my experience with labyrinths and how this ancient tool for mindful meditation changed my life.

• A downloadable and printable finger labyrinth so you can participate in a meditative finger labyrinth walk.

You can access this offer by clicking on this link and saying Yes!

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“When you feel life at crossroads, you need higher perspective view.”
― Toba Beta

Living in Flow

One day you realize that everything seems easier. You’re not having to check your thinking or the words coming out of your mouth. You’ve eased into a flow that seems effortless and wonder when this happened?

This happens when your heart and soul are in alignment with what you do and the way you behave. This is the embodiment of authenticity and reaching this place is the result of hard work.

So what does being authentic mean? It means being true to oneself. I found an article in Psychology Today that explains this very well. Authentic people:

  1. Have realistic perceptions of reality.
  2. Are accepting of themselves and of other people.
  3. Are thoughtful.
  4. Have a non-hostile sense of humor. 
  5. Are able to express their emotions freely and clearly.
  6. Are open to learning from their mistakes.
  7. Understand their motivations.

The first steps in moving from inauthenticity to authenticity were becoming aware that you were in regular if not constant internal conflict, then awakening to the reality of this uncomfortable state of being and discovering that there were people who could help you and tools you could use to make important changes. Finding the courage to move out of a state of denial or inertia and into action is where you’ve been most recently and now reaching this state of ease is evidence that you’ve transitioned through the process of deep change – maybe not for everything that has caused you pain but at least for what has been most problematic at the time.

Whenever those old feelings of inauthenticity arise, and they will, this underlying system of awareness, awakening, discovery, courage, action and flow will help you move through the necessary work to identify and change those mindsets that set you up. You can begin the process again – dismantling old patterns, behaviors and habits while creating new ones allowing you to be in flow again.

I’ve written about these stages of change frequently and I’m inviting you to take a look at these older posts and let me know what you think. Here’s a link to my last blog about flow. Enjoy the reading, the process and being in flow.

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Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world.

~ Adam Grant

Move Into Action

You finally found just enough courage to try. You found even more courage to risk failure by moving into action – playing the music that’s always been in your heart – speaking your truth – agreeing to let your true self out of hiding so you can be seen.

Once I began, there was no turning back. Every step that I took felt affirming. I felt the joy of someone who has been reborn and is learning something new everyday, all while feeling valued for the first time not only by others but by myself. Instead of hating myself, daily, I found the growing feelings of self-love.

Moving into action opens us up to the vulnerability of potential failure but let me be clear, failure is not the end of the road – it’s information. Information that is needed to start again, if necessary. Information that will help you make adjustments so the next time you try you’ll have a better chance of success – living and learning, right? Failure can be a very important part of the process and surrounding yourself with people who understand will help smooth out the bumpy roads that will inevitably be encountered.

When we move into action we are beginning the process of rewiring our brains. The big word for this is neuroplasticity. By changing our mindsets and behaviors and creating new patterns of behavior and thinking we are literally creating new and healthier neural pathways while simultaneously closing down the ones that created problems in our lives.

This is a critical stage in our efforts to better ourselves. Do this work with others, always. If you’d like to read more about my transformational process, I invite you to sign up for a free offer that I just created. I hope you’ll find all of this helpful as you move into action yourself.

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Action is the antidote to despair.

~ Joan Baez

Calling Someone is Courageous

This is what your latest iPhone looks like when you’re thinking about making an important phone call that could change the direction of your life.

It was like this for me. I wasn’t using an iPhone then – just a push-button desk top phone that suddenly seemed heavy and almost too complicated to use. I picked up the handset – heard the dial tone – dialed the number I had been given and once I started talking, I knew I could start telling the truth because I was talking to someone who knew me, inside and out. Help was being offered, right then and there.

That was the second courageous act I engaged in that day. The first was realizing that I had to make that call. More small acts of courage would come within the next ten weeks – one compounding on the last until I reached a beautiful point of no return.

I managed this with all the support I received, beginning with that phone call. In a previous post I described how this support allowed my courage to grow, slowly tipping the scales away from all of my fears and toward a willingness to take action.

If you can relate to my very heavy, vintage phone description you might be on the verge of making that important call. Take 3 mindful breaths, center yourself and dial.

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“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― William Faulkner

The Door is Open

The door may have been open but what’s on the other side? Fear of the unknown is a powerful reason to stay in places that are undesirable and even toxic. Why? Because we know those places. We know what to expect and have developed ways to cope, even when our methods of coping harm us.

I always had options but exercising those options meant that I would have to change. It meant that I would have to reveal myself and at that point in my life, telling the truth, asking for help and making huge changes seemed impossible. I preferred living in denial and having another big glass of chardonnay.

The problem is that once you’ve discovered something, you can’t un-discover it. It’s knowledge that will always be there unless you work very hard to bury it in denial. As I write this, I’m feeling uncomfortable because this is what I used to do and by doing this I was constantly living in a state of cognitive dissonance which means living in a state of mental conflict – having certain core beliefs yet doing something or behaving in ways that aren’t consistent with those beliefs. The tension that is created is very real both emotionally and physically and needs to be relieved somehow. I chose numbing myself for many years with daily infusions of alcohol because I refused to consider change. I tried very hard to make this habit look glamorous by only drinking expensive wines in lovely stemmed glasses but the hard reality was that I was intentionally numbing myself with alcohol and the quality of the wines and the vessels didn’t matter.

If you’ve reached this paragraph and are feeling uncomfortable, then maybe you’re at a discovery point. You’re balancing on a fulcrum and can go either way. I’d like to suggest walking through the door and asking for help. If you’d like to talk, contact me. I’ve been where you are. I understand how you feel.

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Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.

~ Rick Warren


Awaken and See Clearly

A metaphor for awakening could be the clearing of a thick fog or a persistent marine layer that finally burns off. Suddenly, there’s clarity. You can see for miles, it seems – breathing is easier and everything feels lighter. There’s a powerful simplicity in moments like this. Why complicate things and allow the fog to roll in again?

Good question – why complicate things? We humans do this really well. I found an article online by Steve Tobak that speaks to this and in a nutshell he says that we complicate things because:

  1. We get the attention we crave, positive or negative.
  2. We’re bored.
  3. We mistakenly believe the complications make us seem smart.
  4. We believe that content is king so anything that’s short, pithy and simple just can’t be good enough.

We all know people who love DRAMA and, today, it’s these people that I take great care to distance myself from because I’ve learned through hard experience that their energy saps all of mine, leaving me feeling as if all my fuses have been blown. It took me a long time to learn this. A personal implosion allowed me to see that I absolutely can’t exist in a world filled with chaos and complications.

Scaling down in a big way and keeping practically everything in my life simple has ironically allowed me to feel whole and spacious. I have room for everything. I have the capacity to think, to breathe, to be of service, to connect, to have fun and to live a life filled to the brim with purpose.

Simplicity is the essence of gratitude.

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. ~ Hans Hofmann

The Growth of Awareness

It’s so easy to ignore the early inklings of awareness. It’s like an emerging hint of color in my garden that I dismiss as a shadow. But, there it is again. Is it a weed or an acorn planted by the neighborhood jay? I didn’t plant it so I decide not to pay attention, for now. Days go by before I notice it again – larger and definitely waving – look at me!

On January 24th this year, I wrote a blog titled Emerging Awareness and this was the last paragraph: I’m becoming aware of something new starting to emerge within me. I’m not sure about it’s exact nature yet, but I intend to give this little flame all the oxygen it needs so I can see what happens and where it leads. I intend to pay attention, be mindful and present so I won’t miss the experience.

After years of ignoring all the signs and internal cues that were trying to get my attention, I’ve decided to listen, to be mindful and to nurture signs of growth. That’s what those feelings of awareness generally point to – growth – and growth means change. It’s that pesky word, change, that triggers the immediate recoil reaction. Today, instead of recoiling and immediately ignoring the cues, I’m choosing to allow curiosity to take a seat at the table because my experience has taught me that what I resist the most is quite often what is best for me.

I’m about to take a big step forward in my coaching business and it is this change that has me experiencing feelings of retreat – the imposter syndrome has been raising it’s head. Old patterns of thinking are trying to bully their way back in. I’m aware of it and I’m deliberately choosing to invite these old patterns in for a cup of tea. I’m going to ask why they are trying to get me to agree that I’m inadequate and incompetent despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. I can’t wait to see what happens when these old patterns are confronted and challenged.

Yes, I’m experiencing some discomfort but discomfort won’t kill me or ruin me – ignoring opportunities for improvement and growth will definitely keep me stuck and stagnant. It’s these feelings that I no longer wish to nurture. It’s the sprouting seeds of growth that are going to get my attention this time!

 

To be aware of a single shortcoming in oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in someone else.  – Dalai Lama

Be Here Now

This is so true – if I’m able to smell some lovely flowers, I have to be present – even just for that moment. What would happen to my feelings of well-being if I extend those small moments of presence to greater and greater lengths of time? I imagine I would see the beauty in front of me and around me. I imagine I would be aware of whatever I’m feeling, right now – and this is good!

I’m not naive enough to believe that everything I see and feel in the present will be beautiful and wonderful. I know I will see and feel things I don’t like but since I’m seeing and feeling them in the present, I have a choice – I can accept what is, knowing I can’t change it, or, if I have the power to make or effect changes I can move into action. If I’m spending my time lurking in my past or flitting about in my future, I am powerless.

It takes a lot of energy to inhabit the past and the future, and most of that energy is negative. I’ve spent the equivalent of a life-time there and if I imagine using the same amount of wasted energy in the present, I could have moved mountains. But enough of this – I’ve let go of the regrets, choosing to learn from what’s happened in my life so mistakes aren’t repeated and self-blame isn’t perpetuated. I’ve also resigned from future tripping because I’ve learned that most of my imaginings just don’t happen, preferring to drop the anxiety that’s created when I’m there.

Several months ago I enrolled in a Mindfulness Meditation Teaching certification program after having dabbled with meditation for several years. I made the leap into the commitment to being present more often than not and I’m noticing the difference. When I find my mind wandering into dangerous territory – past and future – I can bring my attention back to the present with ease and I’m learning that my level of happiness is increasing and staying that way longer. I’m also noticing that when I’m happy and in a state of ease I’m more productive and more inclined to appreciate all that’s good in my life. It’s a lovely cycle that keeps going.

I needed help to get to this nice place in my life – lots of help. I’m grateful to all those helpers, past, present and future and I’m proud of myself for finally asking for that help. Reaching out was the best thing I ever did for myself.

Smell the flowers – be present – ask for help when you need it – my mantra for today!

We Need Each Other

I believe this today – but I didn’t used to. I used to believe that I could go it alone and didn’t need anyone’s input. I was smart and could figure everything out by myself. What I really believed, but wouldn’t say, is that I was too afraid to let you know me. A spiritual awakening changed all of this for me and led me to the understanding that we live in interdependence with everyone and everything. What I think, say and do ripples out and touches the universe.

This beautiful recognition allowed me to soften, to let people in – mentors, guides, friends and just the next person I meet on the sidewalk. I could smile at this stranger, feel connected and know this person matters.

I always felt a connection with nature but it deepened with my newfound spiritual understanding. I could grow bee-loving plants that keep us fed and keep our world green. I could nurture plants that clean the air, hold the soil, provide protection to birds and animals alike and delight us in their beauty, feeding our souls.

I could take care of myself and the earth by helping to keep our rivers and oceans clean. We depend on the animals and sea life who live there and they on us. If the oceans die, so too shall we.

What a gift to feel part of this magnificent whole and to believe that when I care for the universe I care for all it’s inhabitants. Caring this way means that I matter – we all matter.

Omnia vivunt, omnia inter se conexa
Everything is alive; everything is interconnected.”
–  Cicero 

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