Sometimes when I am stressed out or anxious about something - whether it be a project, a deadline, an engagement, or just simply that I don’t feel great about myself - I tend to lash out at my family and those closest to me. You know the story, mom walks into the kitchen and see’s one dirty dish and subsequently, she flips out, turns the house upside down, and puts herself in timeout - but it was never about the dish and it will never be about the dish.
Unfortunately, that scene plays out in my home more than I would like to admit.
Recently, I have been feeling on edge, more than usual. I know there are tons of contributing factors, and I am certainly not the only person feeling this way, but that doesn’t make how I am feeling any bit easier.
In the middle of a mental storm, it is hard to step back and go through my mental health checklist with rationality and grace. But hard does not mean impossible - and if we go back to my last blog about silence, I highlight how crucial it is to take a moment, do the hard work, place our pride aside (at least in my case), and recenter.
I will be honest - this morning, I lost it on my family and I started feeling that internal drive to run… run… run… run anywhere, run away, run, just run away.
Over the years, I have learned when I start to feel like running away to a coastal town and never coming back, it means I have neglected myself too much. So, when I get that desire to run away, my alarms get triggered and I know I must go through my mental health and safety checklist, put everything down and pick myself back up.
I also learned (the hard way), that running away from everything feels great at the moment, but all those things I was running from (ghosts, demons, skeletons, or whatever you call them) will catch up and haunt me wherever I am until I train them, slay them, or banish them for good.
For me - my dark and scary demons are a part of who I am - they help me connect, empathize and discover new creative outlets - I don’t want to banish them but I also don’t want them to take over. There is a balance I try to maintain - and when I feel like running, that means I’m no longer balanced and I need to let more light into my soul, reconnect with God, and remember that I am not equipped to handle or control what is outside of my reach.
When when I try to control what is outside of my reach, or what I like to call, The Unknown, the gates fling wide open and instead of sunshine and rainbows pouring out, anxiety, worry, fear, and stress flood me until I’m in that fight or flight mode, and flight (my desire to run), takes over.
So - how do we fight the unknown?
I can tell you how I fight the unknown - and I hope you will give it a try.
A few years ago, I was shopping at the Dollar Store for some kid crafts, and I came across an adorable and colorful box with an elephant on the front. It was nothing fancy, but it was sturdy and just the right size to hold post-it notes (which was my original thought).
This little box made its way home, along with the other crafts, and as I was placing my stack of post-its into it, I wrote myself a message on the top note.
I closed the box and went about my day.
A few days later, I opened the box to grab a post-it and I was taken back. I will be honest, I was confused and it took me a few moments to recall that I wrote the message.
At that moment, I realized how powerful my message was and decided to change the purpose of the little box from post-it holder to my anxiety holder.
I began ripping off post-its and writing...
“Jeff’s job situation.”
“Tom and Cindy’s move.”
I wrote about 15 different messages and wrote the date on each of them. Then, I folded the paper and placed them into the box. As I did that, I said a small prayer asking God to take these stresses and anxieties off of my mind and heart and handle them for me.
Every day as new and different anxieties entered my soul, I wrote them down on a piece of paper, folded it, dated it, and placed it in the box. Almost immediately, I felt lighter and less on edge, and in a few short weeks, writing the unknowns (as I call them) became habit and as routine as brushing my teeth.
Here is what happened.
This little box served as a tool to filter out things I could control and things I could not control. Once I filtered out all the things I could not control, all the things I could control suddenly became less overwhelming, they became more attainable and it became crystal clear how much my head was filled with things that drained me of joy and serenity.
If you are thinking, okay great, but I have this box filled with little papers of all my worries - now what?
About 2 months after starting, I opened the box and went through each message. When I did, something magical happened, I came across messages filled with worries and concerns that had resolved without me worrying about it every minute of every day.
Sure - I had a part in the resolution, but my part wasn’t discovering the final solution. My part was walking the journey and learning what I could control versus what I couldn’t, and the final solution was a beautiful combination of fate and free-will.
So, as I sit here writing this, I am reminded that my dark and scary demons can easily be reigned in by letting go of what I can’t control, being still, and trusting myself to handle what I can control.
I would love for you to create your own anxiety box and I hope you will share your own personal discoveries with me!
Blessings and peace!
Speak only if it improves upon the silence.
A few years ago my husband asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I told him an entire day, or weekend alone - in complete and utter silence. My husband looked at me dumbfounded, and instead of a weekend of pure bliss, I parented, cooked, cleaned, hosted family and went hiking - I will be fully transparent here, I was not a happy woman. My husband has since learned that what I cherish most, more than spa treatments, flowers, chocolates, and even ice cream, is silence.
Silence is not something I experience often, in fact, most people don’t. Even if you are not a mother or a father, you may have pets, or parents, or work obligations, etc.
But, with three children, silence is something I cherish, and when I have an opportunity to steal a few moments, guilt often takes over and ruins the moment.
If this sounds like you, I don’t have the secret to put the guilt aside, but I can tell you that searching and discovering true stillness will help make those guilt-free moments even more rewarding.
I don’t mean being physically still, though that often comes as a byproduct - but I mean, the stillness of the mind. When I take my morning shower, if I am lucky, I am doing so without children asking me a million questions, but even in those moments my mind is racing with the to-dos of the day.
In the quieter moments of the week, which are much harder to come by since COVID - my mind is still always on - like open apps on a phone running and draining the battery in the background.
This constant pulling of energy is debilitating - and at the end of my day, I often wonder why I am so mentally exhausted, stressed out, and anxious - even after a day that wasn’t necessarily filled with tending to the constant needs of my children.
Then, the guilt creeps in again.
“I am not grateful enough...I will miss the sounds of my kids… I should be thankful I have kids and sounds…and the list goes on.”
Well, here’s the thing - I am grateful for all of those things, but I am also REALLY tired and even though I wouldn’t trade my life for all the silence in the world, a little bit of silence is something that I need, like water, and food, and sleep, to function at my best.
We live in a world that is noisy - we live in a world where being heard is being seen - and we equate sound with production and purpose. I could write for days about the psychology behind silence and why it is so important to our mental health, anxiety, production, purpose, etc.
Since there are medical reasons for silence, I know that enough people feel the same way that I do, and that you can more than likely relate to this in some way.
Silence and stillness are bucket fillers - meaning they fill our buckets when we are drained and feeling empty. But, even though they are beneficial, many people, myself included, often avoid silence or justify reasons as to why we can’t be truly still.
Being still and silent means we are not focusing on the needs of others, or listening to the latest post Malone album, or chatting with our best friend. It means we are focusing on the deepest needs of ourselves - and that level of depth, self-awareness, and reflection is terrifying.
So instead of finding silence, we turn on a podcast or a Ted talk and justify our growth and development by how we respond and react to another person’s silent discoveries.
Read that again - we pay, seek out, and listen to what other people have to say - ideas that were discovered in another person’s stillness, because we don’t want to be still and silent ourselves.
I am a professional writer, and I write in part to inspire others, meaning I hope people read and reflect on my words. But the other part of why I write is because of what I discover in the process, and the deep sense of purpose it brings me. So, let me be clear, I am not saying we shouldn’t seek out inspiring podcasts and works that enhance our personal growth and development because we should, but not without or in place of experiencing our own depths of silence.
What we discover in silence is the difference between words being nothing more than noise and words being something worth learning from.
Silence speaks volumes and silence can never be misquoted.
So - what does silence mean to you?
By now you know I love music - here is one of my FAVORITE songs of all time - yes, I like the original by Simon and Garfunkel, but Disturbed's rendition is incredible! Enjoy!
Ready for a massive truth bomb? I dislike yoga, A LOT!
I love to exercise and I thrive on pushing myself if I am weight training or running, but when it comes to yoga - I will find every excuse as to why I can’t do it. I have found myself making comments like, “yoga isn’t challenging enough” or “yoga doesn’t get my heart rate up enough”.
But the truth bomb isn't that I dislike yoga, it's that I dislike being uncomfortable.
When I am running or lifting weights, my mind drifts off and I transform into a badass mythical creature throwing weights around. I am only able to see the things I am capable of, the rush behind what I can do - it’s empowering and I like being empowered.
But, when I do yoga - my mind doesn’t go anywhere, I am trapped focusing on all the things I can’t do. It’s just me, my very loud mind, and my completely stiff and unbending body. I can’t touch my toes, I can’t bend sideways, I can’t clasp my hands over my head, I can’t balance, I can’t breathe, and I can’t believe how much I suck at yoga.
When the yoga teacher says, “don’t focus on anyone but yourself, this is your practice…”, I immediately focus on everyone else in the room. In my mind, everyone else is a master yogi, focused, centered, beautiful, glowing... and then there is me, sweating more than I should, panting, grunting and feeling pain in literally every bone and muscle in my body.
Yep. I feel so NOT empowered after a yoga session.
What does that say about Yoga… or me?
Well, for one, it means I need to do more Yoga - and two, the practice of yoga isn’t the problem, I am.
But you know what’s amazing about problems? They have solutions, and sometimes, more than one.
It took me a long time to learn that when something makes me uncomfortable it means I am being pushed to the edge of my comfort zone.
Like most people, meeting that resistance makes me want to turn back and find my safe space, and I have even justified my stopping or avoiding yoga by telling myself things like, “I did the best I could”, or “I will try again tomorrow.”
Minds are powerful, and when I lie to myself about what a great effort I put into a yoga class, it doesn’t make me feel any better. Here’s the thing - I know I am lying to myself because I am never disappointed after yoga, just angry.
How can I feel disappointment when I had no expectations of putting forth any real effort to begin with?
Ten or so years ago, I tried out for American Idol and I made it through the first few rounds. I did everything correct leading up to my audition, and I continued to make my vocal health a top priority throughout the competition rounds. When I was finally let go from advancing any further, I was devastated and truly saddened. Most importantly, I was disappointed. I did not fulfill my hopes or expectations despite giving it my very best effort.
We cannot experience disappointment without defining our hopes and expectations, but we can fail by not even trying.
Did I fail to advance further in American Idol? Absolutely - but not once did I ever see myself as a failure or take it as a sign that I should give up.
But - after every single yoga session, I feel like the world’s biggest failure.
What is the difference? How can two unsuccessful and failed situations yield two entirely different feelings and results?
The difference is where we are in our comfort zones.
We cannot find success without experiencing disappointment, we cannot experience disappointment unless we try, and when we try, we cannot fail.
The difference is that in one scenario I tried - and in the other… I failed to try.
Deborah Maggoch said it best;
“The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment.”
So, in honor of stepping outside of our comfort zone and the all new #REyoga feature in our magazine, I am going to commit to RENEWING my body, RENEWING my mind, and RENEWING my spirit with YOGA.
I chose this youtube channel, and I am committing myself to trying it for the full 30 days (from May 6 to June 5). For me, this challenge is about honoring the importance of what it means to try and earning the right to be disappointed in my trials.
If my words resonated with you, join me on this #REyoga challenge as I push the limits of my comfort zone and turn this trial into a triumph!
Share your journey with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment below!
Stay tuned for a special #REyoga feature post - I will be introducing you to an amazing local yogi and sharing her mind, body, and soul wisdom! You can catch a glimpse of her in action in this months magazine!
Sign up to receive the magazine below!
This week’s blog is a proud plug for our new magazine, Renewed Awareness.
We have been working tirelessly to bring to life a variety of content, information, education, support, and inspiration.
Our team is so talented and incredible, and I wanted to take a moment to elaborate on the people and heart behind the magazine and why they are so spectacular.
First and foremost, Maggie Rose Macar, the CEO of Reborn.
Maggie is a pioneer and walks through life with faith over fear. Any conversations we have turn into creative and inspiring discussions, and I always leave a conversation feeling refreshed and energized. It takes a special person to leave you feeling more filled than drained, and Maggie is exceptional at filling others’ souls with positivity, light, and inspiration.
Second, our magazine editor and silent secret weapon, Sara Mahmood. Sara is a soft-spoken, brilliant woman who never ceases to amaze me. During our zoom conferences and magazine meetings, she takes on project after project. When we are finished, she will often say, “I don’t know if we will be able to do this, but I will try.” I think she just says that to make the rest of us feel somewhat useful, because when I sign-in to take a peak at the magazine progress, she does it all, literally!
Last, but definitely not least. Gabriella Swartwood. When meeting a team of new writers and collaborators, it can sometimes be overwhelming and intimidating. When I met Gabriella, I instantly felt like I had known her for years. Her energy, positivity, and brilliance bring the magazine and our team to an entirely new level. She is intelligent and humble and makes everyone around her feel loved and included.
I am beyond lucky to be a part of this team and grateful to God for bringing everything to fruition.
Our team is small and mighty, but with so much growth on the horizon, we will continue to be dedicated to bringing you inspiring, educational, and supportive content throughout the year.
Be sure to click the links below to explore more of our magazine platforms and to stay in the know of any updates and changes! Thank you for your continued support!
As April comes to a close, I wanted to share one of the ways that you can finish this month with a renewed focus and a strong mindset and help create structure and accountability.
It may seem silly and even a bit juvenile, but I have been advising my productivity clients to do this exercise during times of change and the results have been incredible. A few of my C-suite clients have even advised their employees to follow suit.
I have been using this exercise for years, it is one of the main reasons I survived the darkest times of my life. I have never given it a name, but given the state of the world, I am calling this particular exercise, The Covid Chrysalis.
The Covid pandemic has brought forth a world I have never experienced, much like most of you. This uncharted territory is bringing new challenges and blessings, but much like weeds that choke out flowers, these new challenges prevent us from seeing and experiencing the blessings in and around us, as well as what lies below the surface, yet to be seen.
So, how do we pull those weeds and let the flowers flourish?
We tell our story.
A few years ago, I was hired as a productivity consultant advising my very first CEO. When I asked him to perform this exercise, he laughed. I almost died, I thought he was laughing at me, a woman 30 years his junior, with no knowledge of how to run a multi-million dollar business. But, he was not laughing at me, he was laughing at the simplicity of it. In all his years of working with consultants, no one had ever asked him something so unpretentious. It was a humbling moment, one that helped me develop one of my favorite tools.
As a lover of language and creating beauty through words, writing has always come naturally for me - but I quickly learned that not everyone shares my love for words.
Before we begin, the most important question you must answer is not what your story will be, but how you will tell it, and I implore you to step outside of your comfort zone.
You can do this exercise with a pen and paper, you can write an email to yourself, you can save it in a document on your computer, you can record a voice memo on your phone or record a video, you can write a song, and if you are skilled enough, you can draw or paint it.
It doesn’t matter how, as long as you transform your thoughts into a story.
When you are ready to begin, here are the four components;
You may be thinking, that’s pretty broad. Sure is - but we aren’t talking about your entire life, we are talking about a specific period of time.
So, your Covid Chrysalis might look something like this:
How you transform it is up to you, and what you discover is also up to you.
This is your chance to give voice to your truths and your fears and give wings to your dreams.
Here is mine;
1. What do I know?
I know that I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed with all the changes happening. I am feeling scared for my family, angry at my husband for no real reasons and resentful of my children. I know that my life feels completely and utterly out of control and the uncertainty of what is to come is terrifying. I know that I am a writer, a coach, a wife, a mother and a friend. I know that people care about me even if I can’t talk to them or see them as often as I’d like. I know that I am not giving myself as much love and nourishment as I deserve, because I am letting other feelings and tools step in and fill me up. I know that I am the best person for my family, and I know that I can continue to grow even in the midst of this madness.
2. What don’t I know?
I don’t know if I will ever be allowed to go to a park or a non-essential store again. I don’t know what will happen to the economy, and I don’t know if my friends and family will be okay. I don’t know how this will impact my children or my community in the long run. I don’t know what mandates are on the horizon or if the people in charge really have humanity or money at the forefront of their agendas. I don’t know if my writing will flourish, I don’t know if I will advance in ways that will help my family in hard times. I don’t know what great message will come from all of this.
3. Who am I today?
I am overwhelmed. My feelings don’t define me, but I am still overwhelmed and feel like a failure every single day. I am an overachiever who puts too much on her plate, and often achieves less than I hope to because of it. When I get overwhelmed, I shut down - and even though I know this about myself, I still do it for some reason. I am smart and capable of learning new skills and trades, and sometimes start new ventures because I lose momentum or purpose of a previous project. I am talented and kind, I am more kind to strangers than my own children at times. I am willing to help out others often knowing the help will come at a price of freedom from my own responsibilities. I am a good person, a child of God and empathetic, I am hard on myself and my family and I am not as willing to change as I always thought.
4. Who do I hope to become?
I hope that I can be more vulnerable in my role as a mother and wife. I want to be happier, less worried and stressed out, more kind and compassionate towards my family and myself. I hope to become more patient. I hope to be more optimistic about what will come next. I hope to learn as much as I can about things that interest me, and continue to grow in areas I have neglected. I hope to one day be able to say that I am always choosing the most nourishing ways to fulfill the wellness of my mind, body, and soul. I hope that my husband and my children are proud of me, and I hope that I one day can say with complete conviction that I don’t care what people think about me. I hope that before I expire, I will feel fulfilled and that I left no gift that God gave me unused.
I am not sure how someone can draw what I have expressed in words - because my creativity blooms in other ways. But - these simple questions provoke some powerful thoughts and the more honest we are in our answers, the more can discover and grow.
Asking questions changes behavior. It is a phenomenon known as the “mere measurement effect.” When we measure or question our intentions, our behavior changes. This psychological tool is more powerful than it gets credit for, because who we are is revealed while who we become is up to us.
If you feel comfortable sharing, I would love to see your Covid Chrysalis - however you create it. You can comment below or email me at email@example.com.
Remember - pulling back the curtain of our lives isn’t always easy, but “you have the power to change your thoughts, and your thoughts have the power to change your life.”
- Ron Willingham
**I wasn't originally going to add the below song, but as I read and edit my blog, THIS song is the one that plays on repeat in my mind, and I want you to love it as much as I do!**