Tag Archives: reflection

Living fearless in a fear-filled world

I was heartbroken last week. As I listened to the news of the NAU shootings Friday morning my heart ached, as it often does when I hear of tragic events. My heart ached for the ones involved, their families and a whole community that is forever shifted. It seemed to be a week of many events causing this heartache and for a moment, it felt like too much. I looked in the backseat of the car, saw my daughter happily playing and I couldn’t help but feel the fear. Maybe it is that this news was so close to home, maybe it was that this news came after tragic shootings in Oregon, or maybe it was just that I know these things happen every day whether we hear about it or not. Whatever it was, my instinct was to run and hide. I wanted to pack up my whole family, move to a cabin in the woods and keep them safe forever.

Ridiculously unrealistic, I know, but it was my first thought.

I wanted to know everyone was safe. I wanted to keep them from the arms of a potential tragedy that seems to becoming “normal.” I thought of all the children in this world and wondered what exactly it was that we were handing off to them. Knowing that my fantasy was most likely not the turn my life was going to take, I asked myself quietly; “Then what do we do? How do we handle such painful events?” Softly the answer came; the answer I knew but had a hard time feeling.

We love.

It is often said in spiritual teachings that there are only two true emotions, fear and love. All other emotions stem from them and both serve a purpose. Love allows us to embrace the best things in life and live the truth of who we are. Fear is meant to keep us safe, ensure we stay out of harms way. Often fear was useful when we were in a different world; a world where dangers of being attacked by a bear in our sleep was the norm. In today’s world, while there still may be life-threatening moments when fear can step in and serve us, most of the time it is an illusion for the majority of us.

We are afraid of what may be lurking in the minutes, hours, weeks and years that lay before us. It causes us to make choices that may be blocking us from truly living from love, living in the moment and really experiencing joy. It may be a tragedy that triggers it and makes us overprotective parents or it could be something such as afraid of failing that causes us to misspeak in a presentation. The fear can also cause us to push so hard against what we don’t want to happen, we become consumed by what we are running from instead of creating what we truly want.

Loving through these moments makes us redirect and focus on what we do want, not what we don’t. This doesn’t mean that we bury our heads and hide from seeing what is happening in the world, it means using our fearful response to determine what we do want so we can shift our attention there.

So instead of being swept away with fear for your family, go home and hug them a little tighter. Spend more moments talking and less being distracted. Send love to those involved in a tragedy.   Don’t focus on the panic and what fear tells you should be done, instead ask yourself how you can use this lesson to love deeper. When fear arises, ask yourself what it is you truly want and shift your thoughts to that instead of thinking about what you don’t want to happen.

Even in the days when fear truly was saving us from a life-threatening situation on a regular basis, love could easily overcome fear if we had to protect our loved ones, proving that it is powerful enough to lead the way.

It is about time we let it.

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You’re doing the best you can…so is everyone else.

We humans can be very judgmental and critical. We can easily get caught up in what we think is right and wrong.   We constantly analyze our lives and think about what we “should” have done differently. Along with this, we have a natural tendency to judge others’ decisions and talk about what poor choices they made. This gives us further fuel to try to be perfect so we don’t end up “like them.”

It is no wonder that we lose self-compassion with all this judgment swimming in our brains. It is part of how we have learned to view the world, part of what we feel we should do and ultimately part of human nature. The trick is to understand that everyone, right now, is doing the very best they can. Does that mean we couldn’t make better choices? No. Does it mean we are flawless? No. Does it mean we don’t try to grow and improve our lives? Absolutely not. It does mean that we need to step back and treat ourselves a little more gently and with a little more understanding.

This life is a journey. We grow, evolve, change and learn. Every choice you are making right now is what you think is best based on what you have learned and where you are in your life. Sometimes we do things out of habit. Often we do things out of fear. But ultimately we do what we think is best for us in the moment. Our current circumstances are a combination of every choice we have made, which means we can learn from them and change them just as easily as we created them. We don’t need to berate ourselves into these changes. Loving ourselves and accepting the choices we have made for what they are is the best way to learn from them and start making new ones.

Of course after the fact it is easy to see what we could have done different to make things easier. It is natural to assess our past, and the actions of others, to determine what would have worked better. This is part of the learning process, but that is all it is. We shouldn’t utilize these tendencies to break down our self-esteem and feel bad about what we have done. We should utilize these experiences to grow and learn what we will do different in the future.

Our flaws are what make us human and what makes us beautiful. Learning to accept these, whether it be poor choices or parts of ourselves we don’t like, will ultimately give us the power to love ourselves completely. This is where true compassion will rise up. Whenever those thoughts of judgment creep in, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, give yourself some love and then take the next step forward.

A Gift For You!

Dear Followers,Giveaway

This year I have been truly blessed.  As I think about how fortunate I am, I realize that I cannot pursue my dreams and explore so many aspects of healing without the incredible support you give me.  The overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude for each of you cannot be easily expressed, but I feel guided to try nonetheless.

With this in mind, I have decided to giveaway free coaching to two individuals, as well as significantly discounted sessions to an additional two.  While this can only reach a few people, I hope that it is a small gesture to show how much I appreciate all my followers and clients.  Please go to the Coaching Giveaway page for details and to enter.

I wish each of you an incredible holiday season as well as a New Year full of endless happiness and your dreams coming true.

Be Well,

April B.

 

10 Things to Learn From Dogs

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a huge animal lover.  I have always had a pet and I often crave going into the wilderness just to hear the sounds of animals.  The reason for this is that I have always thought of animals as our greatest teachers.  They haven’t yet been “taught” how things should be so they live in their natural state.  This allows them to encompass a level of happiness we forget exists. They don’t worry about judgment or fear rejection; they just are who they are.  There is something simple and genuine about their existence that reminds me of our basic nature; which is too often lost in the world we have created.

Wilma

A great example of this comes from my own household.  I have four dogs, three of which are rescues.  These dogs have had horrific lives that I can’t even begin to imagine, yet they love any human they come in contact with.  They are constantly full of joy, loyalty and love; all of which humans tend to struggle with when they have been betrayed by those close to them.  It amazes me and I am very grateful for the lessons they teach me.

Kane

In honor of our fury teachers, below is a short list of lessons I believe dogs can teach us if we are willing to listen and be good students.  Hope you enjoy!

  1. Live in the moment – always.
  2. Be excited every time you see someone you love, and show them.
  3. Don’t hold the past against someone, especially when they aren’t the one that hurt you.
  4. Enjoy the small things like lying in the sun, going for a car ride, eating and playing with a friend.
  5. Exercise often, even if it is just running around in circles.
  6. Don’t hold back your happiness; express it with your whole body.
  7. When someone you love is having a bad day simply sit and cuddle with them.
  8. Relax and take naps, often.
  9. Don’t worry about what others think; just be who you are.
  10. Love with your whole heart and give as many kisses as you can. 

Manny

*October is adopt a shelter dog month.  For more information check out this article.  I rescued these three boxers from Boxer Luv Rescue.  There is a rescue for almost any breed in every state.  If you aren’t in a position to take in an animal you can “click to donate” and help these shelter animals on The Animal Rescue Site or Care2.  🙂

Managing Stress

You know the feeling, we all do.  When your muscles ache with tightness, your brain can’t stop thinking and you feel like there is so much to do you can’t stop for a second.  Stress is something that we all deal with from time to time.  It often creeps up on us and then suddenly we are at a breaking point.  Stress is a perception of situations.  It isn’t actually a real tangible thing, however it does create real and tangible symptoms if we let it.  Many people end up with pain, some become overweight from emotional eating, others sluggish from drinking too much, etc.  These are all things that we do when we get into this state when we let stress become real in our life.

Another symptom when we are feeling stressed is our lack of compassion for others.  We begin getting short tempered or just tuning out to others because we already have too much to think about.  Next thing we know we hurt someone unintentionally because we became more focused on us and whatever is causing our stress, rather than the people that matter most to us.  If we do this long enough or often enough we can seriously damage meaningful relationships in our lives.

The good news is stress that is something you can mitigate in your life.  It would be unrealistic to think you can instantly remove it however there are things you can integrate in your life to minimize the chances of stress getting out of hand and causing an impact.  Doing these things all the time will also help you from being venerable to stress.

Eating well – When we are stressed often we change our eating habits and become less concerned with that we are choosing to eat.  We gravitate to what is quick and easy or what gives us comfort.  Often these are things like sugars, unhealthy carbs, alcohol, etc.  All of these things cause inflammation in the body and will deplete your energy levels.  It will cause you to feel worse, therefore more sensitive to stress and you eat more of it.  It is a vicious cycle and your body pays dearly for it.  Think about what your patterns are when you are stressed and try to come up with healthy options to eat/drink instead of your normal defaults.  This will help relieve some of the effects stress has on the body.

Stretch – Although a complete exercise routine would be ideal, when people are so busy adding an hour of exercising every day may seem overwhelming.  Integrating stretching a couple times a day for a couple minutes does wonders for helping with stress.  It helps relieve the tight muscles and gives you a couple minutes to break from everything to get re-centered.

Sleep – Often when we get busy the first thing we cut out is time to sleep.  It is either because we keep completing tasks past our bedtime, or we want to squeeze in relaxation time before we sleep and didn’t give enough time for it.  Either way, the more sleep you steal from your body, the more stressed you will become and the less productive.  Sleepy bodies and brains don’t work nearly as well as rested ones.  This is one thing you shouldn’t ever compromise.

Meditate – Meditation helps you train your brain to make space for quiet.  This allows you to stop constantly thinking about the running to-do list.  You can’t force these thoughts to quit in meditating but focusing on something else, like a mantra, your breathing or a prayer, helps your brain rest from the thoughts.  This calmness will become more natural and occur in a non-meditative state as well.  This will help you sleep better and focus on one task at a time.

Ask for support – Support may be someone just listening so you can get emotional stress out or it may be asking someone to help do things for you.  Whatever the case may be, it is important to recognize when your plate is too full and you need help.  Friends and family want to see you healthy and happy.  Helping you get there is a key part of these relationships and I am sure the day will come when you can help them.

Find a beautiful place – Find somewhere close to your home where you can go and look at something beautiful often.  It can be nature, art, watching kids play, amazing architecture, etc.  Whatever it may mean to you, seeing beauty helps you focus on the good in life and remove the focus from the stress.  Taking a few breaths and enjoying a moment of beauty can help you feel calmer instantly.

Never forget, stress isn’t real.  It is a perception and allowing that perception to bring havoc to your life isn’t necessary or healthy.

Let go of what doesn’t matter, focus on what does, and honor your health and wellbeing always.

The sky is one of my close by Beautiful Places 🙂

Get Uncomfortable

Comfort is incredibly detrimental to progress.  It is the one of the largest reasons people get stuck and bored in their lives.  It is easy to stay where we are comfortable.  It puts us in a position with little fear and that feels very safe to us.  Avoiding things that are new and uncomfortable help keep our lives predictable and give us a sense of control.  However, unless there is a level of discomfort, we as humans do not progress.  A simple example would be when your alarm goes off in the morning.  You are incredibly comfortable snuggled up under the covers.  Every piece of your body screams to stay there, cozy and warm.  The room around you is cold and that sounds unpleasant.  But, if you gave into that urge and remained in bed it would be very difficult to move forward with your day and get anything accomplished.  This is very similar to your life.

In order to grow and develop momentum towards your goals you have to get uncomfortable. Evolution and progress are born from being put in a situation where something new has to be learned and experienced. If you were to do the same thing every day, interact with the same people in the same way, you would find it very difficult to learn something new. You wouldn’t need to learn a new way to interact with people, a new way to approach a situation, or a new perspective that is often the key benefit to discomfort.  Any time you are in a situation that is unfamiliar you leave that experience learning something about yourself that you would be lacking otherwise.  It will give you new perspective almost immediately and assist you in really knowing who you are.

Granted, through the course of life you will run into this in some small ways.  Regardless of the routines you put in place, you will occasionally run into something challenging and different from the day before.  However, if you truly want to become the person you dream of than you must accelerate this.  You can’t rely solely on the random occurrences that may be laid in front of you.  You must put yourself in situations that you have never been in and find new ways to do things.  This will open up doors and possibilities that you wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to, which is key to becoming the person you want to and creating the life you want.

It may sound scary but it doesn’t always have to be huge things.  It can be responding in a conversation that is different than you would have before and seeing how it works. It can be going to an event you have never been to.  Going somewhere alone like a restaurant or movie can be incredible uncomfortable for many and a great place to start.  It begins with making decisions every day that challenge you to do something different and new.  Even the smallest experience will cause you to learn something new about yourself and the world around you.  You will run into new people and possibilities that a routine and comfortable life would not have allowed. Exploring, learning, growing and being uncomfortable are all keys to getting unstuck in your life.

Find something every day that will get you uncomfortable and enjoy the great experiences.  Before you know it the life you want will uncover itself and you will be anything but bored!

Take a Risk!

Recently I have found myself surrounded by people taking some risk in their life.  My husband quit his job of 9 years to go back to school and pursue his lifelong passion in music.  My brother has gotten rid of everything he can’t fit on his motorcycle and left town to explore different places and ways of living.  A dear friend left a job she was unhappy with because she knew she deserved better.  Several people I know are starting up new coaching practices, creating a career centered around their art, or starting small businesses.  Aside from being incredibly proud of these individuals, there is always inspiration that comes from watching someone muster up the strength to take a risk, no matter how big or small.  Whether it is watching someone go skydiving or simply speaking their truth when others clearly won’t agree, the energy of taking a risk is contagious.  It creates a sense of awe and excitement.   It seems though, as fortunate as I am to be around many people who will take these risks and keep me inspired, I know just as many that are still working on building up the courage to make their move.  Although some of us are more risk adverse than others, there is one general feeling that keeps us from taking risks in our lives- fear.

When I challenge friends, clients or even myself to take a risk the fear is ultimately the big challenge.  I will get many reactions ranging from “I wish I could do that” to “I would never be able to do that”.   It doesn’t matter if these risks are life altering or small actions they are avoiding.  They could be as simple as speaking up in a work situation or as life altering as pursuing a dream career.  The fear seems to be the same.  The fear of the unknown can consume us.  It stops us in our tracks and creates a sense that a particular action is impossible.  The moment we give into our fear we feed it.  We allow it to grow, gain power over us, and then the risks in our life feel more and more impossible.  This is when we get stuck.  Stop moving forward.  The years pass and then we realize we didn’t control our life, our fear did.

The critical thing to understand is that we can’t get the life we want without taking risks.  Fear has no place in pursuing our purpose or passion.  True growth in every aspect of ourselves comes from learning in situations where we feel uncomfortable.  We have to take on new experiences to allow our true selves to expand, grow and truly live.  This is why watching others take risks inspires us.   It resonates with the part of us that knows it is the only way to explore and set ourselves free.  Getting to the place where we are ready to take risks in our lives takes some work though.  We need to build some courage and have confidence in our decisions; not an easy thing for some.  Here are a couple steps to practice taking risks till you are ready to move forward with the larger ones you have been dreaming of.

1- List it out.  List out everything you stop yourself from doing.  Whether it is standing up to your sister or starting a new career; it goes on the list.  Read over the list and ask yourself why you haven’t done these things.  Notate what you are afraid of.  If you are the analytical type rate them with High Risk, Medium Risk and Low risk.  Doing this may tell you how risk adverse you are and where some of the fear stems from.  Is there a theme?  Is there a common fear you need to face?  You may find in light of the big risks, the small ones aren’t that risky after all.

2- Start Small.  Speak up in a meeting at a moment when you would usually keep your opinion to yourself.  Go to a new class that you have wanted to take.  If you are someone who has been afraid to go to a movie alone or go to lunch solo- go for it!  Making yourself uncomfortable in small ways that don’t have the potential of making life altering impacts is the perfect way to practice and stand up to that fear.  You will be shocked at how energized and empowered you feel with some of these small things.

3- Get Inspired. Surround yourself with people, articles or quotes that inspire you to live your life to the fullest.  Even if you wouldn’t follow in their footsteps reading about someone taking a stand in the face of adversity or talking with a friend about their newest change in their life will help you find strength.  It will energize you and help some of your risks not feel so scary.

4- Find support.  Finding someone that will encourage you and help you build confidence will be a great tool in taking risks.  Talking through your fears and having someone help you see the reasons you should go for it anyway will feed your strength.  It can be a friend, coach, counselor, family member or a virtual friend.  Anyone that will help you feel safe and supported can play this role for you, and you can for them.  I would encourage you to start with just one or two people.  Sometimes risks feel scarier when many people know about what you want to do.

Practice these steps and before you know it you will be living a more fulfilled and empowered life.  Want some immediate support?  Post some risks you want to take here and I will help encourage and support you!  🙂

Staying Connected

Most of us have had a moment when we feel like we have been living on auto-pilot.  Suddenly you feel completely disconnected from your own life and don’t really recognize it.  Some call this mid-life crisis, some go into career changes, and some watch this moment pass by and continue to live in misery.  Regardless of when you have this realization, it is a sad moment when suddenly you look in the mirror and aren’t sure who you are anymore.  Not sure how you got to this place you are in your life.  Not sure the last time you truly felt joy.   This moment is likely to cause complete panic.  Suddenly life feels short and there is a sense that we are suffocating.  This is not a great place and it doesn’t necessarily come only once in a lifetime.  The secret is to take control of your life before you get to this place.  Wake yourself up now and integrate the changes necessary to avoid this.

Although this may not sound easy, avoiding this moment in your life really doesn’t take very complicated steps.  Here are some suggestions you can integrate into your life daily to keep awareness and happiness the center of your life.

  1. Honor your passions–  This is key in staying connected to who you are.  We all have passions that range from huge things that we can make careers of, to small things that bring moments of joy.  These passions can be as simple as watching sunsets or as extensive as volunteering with an organization that your heart feels connected to.  Every time there is something that peaks your interest or makes you smile, you owe it to yourself to explore it further.  A good place to start is making a list.  Think of things you enjoy or did when you were a kid.  Build in a routine to experience these things as often as possible.  If you feel like you don’t have time, start with the small things.  Playing with the dog, taking a walk, smelling flowers.  We all have small things that feed our passions and integrating them will help you stay connected to who you are.
  2. Take a moment– Every day, take just a moment to take a few deep breaths and reflect on what you love in your life.  Slowing down for just this moment every day will help keep the balance.  This can be while you are in the shower, while you are driving or right when you wake up or go to bed.  Whatever fits into your life, taking a moment to reflect on all the gifts you have helps in making sure you are being present in your life.
  3. Prioritize your time– Usually when we turn on auto-pilot it is because we are no longer in control of our lives, instead it has taken control of us.  It is easy to get into this trap with over committing, not managing our time, not building in breaks, etc.  We don’t see that we have a choice, and get into the trap of “I have to…”.  Having the courage to prioritize what you are spending your time on and say no to the things you can’t fit in will be important in keeping control of your choices.

Start with these three steps and you will begin to feel more connected to who you are.  Remember to slow down and enjoy your life! 🙂