Complete Release

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Ever had those moments when all the self-work finally hits home and you get this complete sense of peace?  A conversation may happen or something as simple as watching a movie or reading a book or just taking a hike alone opens your heart and mind to the truth.  You feel this weight lifted off your shoulders because you basically just make an agreement with yourself that you finally get it.  You understand all the ups and downs in life brought you to this moment and you accept it, even if you don’t completely understand all the whys behind it.  You just completely release all the guilt, all the sadness, all the woulda-coulda-shoulda’s of life and just embrace the moment you are in.  You find a moment in life where the chaos in your head stops and you just cry, not necessarily tears of sadness or tears of joy…just relief.  Relief that you are enough, that you are amazing, that you have made shitty choices, good choices and a few things have happened that may have not been your choice at all, but all of it has brought you right to this moment.  You can choose to go to sleep tonight dwelling again on the lost moments of the past or the what-ifs of the future…OR…you can choose to release it all and just sleep well knowing you are exactly in the right place and ready for the next chapter in your story and oh…what an amazing story it is.

With love, happiness, and health,

Stacy

Just So Over It…

 

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I am feeling a bit fed up today.  I have been in a funk that ebbs and flows but I still manage to get up and do the things I need to do each day.  Some days are better than others but even with a recent get-a-way to a beach (so I could have a different view during quarantine) did not completely pull me out of my funky mood.  I feel like something is missing and this morning I decided to go into the office instead of sitting at home.  I miss my routine, I miss socializing and going to the gym….I want my normal back.

I have tried to maintain a regular wake and sleep schedule even on the days I have been working from home.  I have got up each day and made my bed, got out of my pajamas, brushed my teeth and went through a pretty normal process just like I would if I were going to get in my car and commute to work.  However, even with this attempt to keep some degree of normalcy I have felt…off.  I thrive on planning and routines and this whole quarantine thing has left me feeling a bit lost.  I find myself doing things to overcome the loneliness and boredom that starts to set in when you have had too much time alone.  Don’t text the ex, stop posting so much on social media, focus on your school and work projects, read a book, watch a documentary, only eat when you are hungry, do some online guided yoga and meditations classes, stop ordering off Amazon, drink more water….damn girl shave your legs even if you don’t have a man in your life!  (yes these are conversations I have actually had with myself)

So, needless to say, at this point I am just over it.  I am single and want to mingle.  I am in need of hiking, fishing, kayaking, meeting my girls at the winery all dressed up and having lunch.  I want to go on a date and have a really good conversation with a handsome dude who can make me laugh.  There are only so many books a girl to read and let me tell you, I looooove to read!  There are only so many movies, documentaries and crime shows a girl can watch before she becomes a full on CSI or so much Grey’s Anatomy before she tries to do a tracheotomy with a kitchen knife and a straw.  (I wouldn’t recommend coughing around me at this point).  I live alone, work alone, most of my human contact is Zoom meetings with school and work and phone calls or social media.  I have finally started to venture out and see a couple of family members and friends and it feels so therapeutic.

I am a introvert for the most part but I do love social interaction and months of no plans with friends or family has been more of a struggle than I expected.  I hope everyone is being wise and safe when they do venture out and I understand the need to be cautious but I just need a little human interaction.  Please check on your single friends during this time.

With love, health, happiness and many future hugs!

Stacy

 

 

Focus On Your Own Path

 

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Don’t get distracted!  Stick to your plan and don’t waiver from your standards.  You have worked hard to learn and grow from the past and create healthy boundaries.  Stop making exceptions to your rules only to quickly realize it isn’t making you happy.  It just creates more work sometimes to engage in conversation with a person you know is not in alignment with what you want.  It is possible to be nice and still say no.  It is okay to completely ignore a random private social media message.  I have had to come to terms with the fact that I can be too nice sometimes.  I never want to be rude or disrespectful.  However, there comes a point when you realize that some people are just no longer in alignment with the path you are on or maybe they never were.  If you stay focused usually they fade out in time, but sometimes we feel obligated to keep re-connecting, maybe out of guilt, habit, or memories of a shared past.  These friends, family members or romantic ties can be unhealthy and always leave you feeling drained and disappointed because they are no longer in alignment with the version of yourself that you desire to be.  How do you let go of unhealthy relationships and not feel guilty?

You can take a moment to really refocus.  Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day of life and lose track of the bigger picture of what we are working for.  We all have a bigger plan in life with goals and dreams and some people can lose sight of those goals and dreams when they get mixed up with the wrong people.  People, places, and things can happen in our lives that leave us on auto pilot.  If we don’t purposefully stop and question ourselves we can end up months, even years down the road wondering where things went wrong.  How did I get so off course?  This was not what my plan!  How am I this old and not accomplished anything I said I would?

I often think of the GPS in my car when I get off course and she states “rerouting”.  This is a perfect analogy for what we should all be doing in our lives regularly.  Check-in with yourself and make sure you feel good about where you are and clear about where you are going.  Be honest with yourself and address areas of your life that do not agree with how you see your best self.  Do not just keep pushing through in relationships, jobs, and situations that do not agree with how you want to see yourself.  Reassess and make a plan that puts you back on the road to reaching your goals.  This is true in every aspect of our lives, diet and exercise, home and self care, our careers and school, devotion to family.  Are you taking time to check in with yourself and make sure you are on a path that leads to a happy and healthy version of yourself?  On this Monday I ask you to check-in and see where you might need a realignment.

With love, health, and happiness,

Stacy

 

Don’t Let Your Past Dictate Your Future

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We all have a past and we all have had crappy things happen in our childhood that have imprinted on us to some degree.  We have all had struggles in relationships with friends, family and especially romantically to some degree.  We have all had sad moments in life from losing a job, a loved one, or a relationship to divorce or break-up.  No matter how tragic or extreme the lows and highs have been in your life there is a time when you have to take inventory and ask how you plan to move forward.  Acknowledge and feel those emotions attached to past events, give yourself time to sit with them but don’t wallow in it and keep asking why me?  There is healthy time for healing and then there is time to ask if you really want this to define you moving forward.

I have a close friend who had a bad childhood.  His father was a drunk who would go on tirades throwing things and yelling and would hit him and his mother when he was growing up.  He would be embarrassed when his father would show up to school events drunk and sometimes even had wet his pants.  He was later bullied in school for being the son of the town drunk.  He did go on to college and ended up becoming successful.  He had the nice home and cars, a place on the lake and a beautiful family but in time his workaholic ways caused his marriage to dissolve and they ended up in a divorce.  Depression took over when his children left for college and started their own journey.  Contact with kids was few and far between and he was living alone for the first time in years.  When he did finally start to date again he was stressed with work and the financial toll the divorce  and paying for two kids in college had taken on him. So he let out his frustrations in the new relationship.  When things got bad he would frequently refer back to not just the current stress in his life but the past abuse and negative experiences growing up in his home and the bullying in school.  It was obvious that all the negativity was consuming him and adding to his depressive state.

So how do you pull away from this thought pattern?  Depression, anxiety, worry, stress…these feelings can follow us around like a dark cloud and be hard to shake.  It takes small steps to slowly pull yourself out of the darkness of this thinking pattern.  Sometimes it may even take the help of medication while going through counseling to address old hurt, anger, insecurities and other negative feelings.  However, if you find that you are not completely consumed then maybe you have just found it easy to blame the past when you succumb to bad behavior.  Maybe it has become a crutch or an excuse, like a get out of jail free card to be an asshole to those around you?  You say something ugly in the heat of the moment and then apologize later using your difficult past as the reasons why you lash out.  This may work for a while but most people around you will begin to grow weary of this cycle.  Only you truly know the truth, but I encourage you to be really honest with yourself because in the long run you are only hurting yourself.

If you are aware enough to recognize that your past is the reason you lash out each time at what point do you start doing something about it?  Saying your sorry means you understand something is wrong and you plan to change the behavior.  If you continue to apologize but the behavior never changes, well then are you even really sorry?  Take responsibility for your words and actions towards those around you and take an active role in making the hard but necessary change to be better.  There are people in this world who use their past struggles to learn and grow and do better as they move through life and build a better future.  Then there are those who continue to use their struggles as an excuse to be angry, selfish, and ugly in life.  Be honest with yourself and address these negative patterns.  Each day is a new day and a new beginning.  Don’t let your past dictate your future.

The first step in addressing the negativity is to stop focusing on it.  Change your perspective and you can change your life.  Find things in your life that you are thankful for, count your blessings before you go to bed each night and again when you wake.  Meditate and let your mind retrain itself to let go and be still to stop the cycle of constant worry.  Stop referring back to your past when you do wrong in the present.  Take time to pat yourself on the back by taking pride in how far you have come and all you have accomplished.  Take time in your day to relax and do something that brings you joy.  Start complimenting and finding things you appreciate in those around you.  Look for the positive first instead of the negative in every situation and person you encounter.  All of these things may seem simple but when practiced daily they can change your entire life.

With love, health, and happiness,

Stacy

Thoughts & Emotions = Healing or Illness

I cannot stress enough how important it is for every person on the planet to learn the art of meditation and practice the power of positive thinking.  If you can train for a marathon, body building, yoga, or any sport then you understand that the mental aspect is just as important if not more than the physical.  To achieve it you have to believe it.  Even if you have never trained for anything in your life it doesn’t matter because it is guaranteed that you still have thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.  So ask yourself what do your primary thoughts and feelings consist of?

I have been doing my routine of being thankful throughout each day on a regular basis.  This has grown into me giving thanks over my food before I eat and asking it to benefit my body in the most positive way.  Then learning to go through each daily activity with intention, whether it be washing my hands or the dishes or simply saying hello to a stranger.  Being in the present moment throughout the day and not on auto pilot.  Stoping occasionally to ask how my body feels, take a deep intentional breath and mentally check in and be aware of myself and my surroundings.  Understanding that the only point and time that really matters is this moment right now. All of these things are, to some degree, a form of a meditation practice.

It is also important to be aware of how you think, speak, and feel in day to day life.  Are you avoiding gossip, removing yourself from negative people and places and negative conversations and situations?  Are you trying to focus on more positive aspects of life and learning to avoid complaining to your friends and family about all the things you wish were different or things that caused you frustration?  Retraining the brain to focus more on positive thoughts and feelings can be the first step in healing.

I am a big fan of Jason Stephenson when it comes to finding good healing and positive meditations or a soothing sleep meditation.  The practice of meditation to sit and breath and let your mind clear and just be still is hard at first, but with continued practice the results are amazing.  With all the amazing apps for smart phones I cannot believe everyone isn’t taking advantage of the guided meditation lessons!  I love Calm and Headspace!  Incorporating meditation into your morning and evening routines can be very beneficial and help with focus and productivity throughout your day as well as reduce stress and anxiety.  The long term health benefits of daily meditation are endless and even more beneficial when combined with a regular yoga practice and a Ayurvedic diet.  Try the positive meditation with Jason Stephenson that I shared with this post and let me know what you think!

With love, health, and happiness,

Stacy

 

 

 

What Brings You Peace & Happiness?

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Have you ever been in a situation and thought…I would much prefer to be doing A, B, or C right now?  I think we all have but really think deeper on that idea for a minute.  If you could be living your life and doing exactly what you want each day, what would that look like?  Not everyone’s idea of peace and happiness is the same and that is what makes the world go around.  With my daughter in the process of transitioning from living at home with me to moving out on her own I have realized that I am pretty much an empty nester.  Since I am not dating anyone that makes my time even more freed up to mold my life the way I like.

As I sit here this morning finishing my homemade breakfast tacos and sipping my coffee and orange juice, I think about what a great life I have been blessed with.  I am a single mom whose daughter is independent enough to move out on her own at 19 while holding down a job and going to college.  I have a job that allows me to work from home during this pandemic and still complete my grad school degree, which has also transitioned to completely online.  I own my own home, may car is paid off and I have three cats and a dog to keep me company.  I could go on with all the blessings in my life and what I am thankful for but basically, life is good right now.

So as I contemplate the best way to spend each day so many things I love come to mind.  I have so many home projects to complete with cleaning, organizing, remodeling and updates.  I have so many books to read or listen to on audio and writing on different topics.  I can start planting my garden and potting plants for Spring.  Begin a regular morning meditation and yoga routine and do other exercise daily from home.  I can learn new recipes and clean out my refrigerator and pantry to create a healthier plan.  Make time to watch more YouTube videos, read articles and do research on life coaching, counseling, and other interests.  The options are endless on what I can do in my life daily to feel at peace, fulfilled, and truly happy.

We often push aside little things that bring us joy when we get lost in the chores and to do lists of daily life.  Taking this time to be at home more can allow us the opportunity to look at our lives and ask, what little things are missing?  I love spending time in my home but I also love the outdoors.  Taking time to go for a walk or plant a garden helps with the cabin fever of being inside the house all day.  I do not have cable but I do watch Netflix and I have Amazon Prime (what is up with The Tiger King btw?!?), but I try to limit my TV time.  I prefer to opt for writing, reading, radio or audio books(when doing house projects) as my form of entertainment.  Instead of just being a lazy sack while at home, maximize this time to work in your favor and really investigate what makes you feel at peace and happy and do more of that…its actually good for the immune system!

With love, health, and happiness,

Stacy

False Start in Dating

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As of Tuesday around 1 pm my attempt at dating someone new failed.  A friend of mine once warned me about those whirlwind romances and how they can end as quickly as they start.  Sadly, I feel this guy is a great guy in many ways and how he chose to end things was very disappointing.  I knew the end was inevitable because he just didn’t fit into my world.  There is something to be said for taking time to heal and learn to be on your own after a divorce or breakup.  I realized I wasn’t ready in some ways, but he was even less ready and in denial of that fact. The jealousy and insecurity on his part often came out in ugly random texts when we were apart, but then things were fantastic when we were together.  The red flags were there early on but I chose to set them aside and wait to see if there would be a pattern or if it was just the normal navigation of dating someone new.

Sometimes we get side-tracked from our goals  and ignore boundaries when we find a person that is so close to what we want. Basically, I allowed myself to be side-tracked and make excuses for him.  I was allowing many things that I knew were not okay with me because the pros were outweighing the cons.  However, the cycle was continuing with the pattern of negative remarks being made, me getting upset, him apologizing and giving me all the excuses of stress, not feeling well, and being insecure from people who had done him wrong in the past.  None of these things are my fault and I no longer wanted to be the person he chose to take it out on.  After a couple of months of seeing this cycle I knew it was not just his current situation but who he is as a person.  So when I finally pointed out the pattern he broke up with me…through text.  Sadly, his response was to just disappear and not even attempt to discuss the possibility of growth or change.

Since I have not reached out after his disappearing act I may never know exactly why he chose to just cut off communication instead of trying to talk it out.  I will choose to be positive and hope that he realized he needed to learn to be alone a bit longer and work on himself before entering into a relationship.  I guess his perspective no longer matters at this point.  It is up to me to decide how I feel about the situation and how I plan to move forward.  When someone drops communication that easily after such a short amount of time I conclude that I was never as important as they said I was.  This realization can sting a little until you realize that you just dodged a major bullet.  Looking back over the last two months I really have no regrets.  I enjoyed getting to know him and enjoyed the time we spent together.  I feel sad that we could not have parted in a nicer way but his cold exit speaks more to the type of person he is and has nothing to do with me.

It was a good start with the potential for so many things to come but as I have learned, you can’t fall in love with just potential, you have to fall for the person as they are.  I think maybe I was still learning that lesson in this experience.  I think it is important to learn something from each experience and in the process become more clear on what you really want in a relationship and out of life in general.  I think the last two months definitely helped me do both.  Looking to the future and still keeping my eye on the prize!  Stay positive my friends!

I highly recommend the book pictured in this post if you are navigating the dating world! It gives great insight and forces you to be honest with yourself!

With love, health, and happiness,

Stacy

Making It Work In Your Favor…

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Soooo I took my 3 days of Spring Break last week even though I didn’t fly to Chicago like I had planned.  Instead I worked from home a bit and enjoyed time being lazy and eating and drinking with the new guy in my life.  By Saturday I realized that maybe this stay at home thing was possibly a downward spiral of pajamas, day drinking, endless Netflix and overeating and I needed a self-check.  I drove home from my boyfriends house and thought about how I was going to navigate coming back to the office this week and what the future may hold.

Monday morning it was clear that this week would be the week we all get set-up for Telemedicine and make the final transition to all of us working from home.  I have always wanted to work from home and thought this would be super productive and then I thought of my few days off just the previous week.  Yes, that was supposed to be a bit of a vacation but I also know it was super easy to sleep in, snack, and stay in my pajamas all day cuddling with my guy.  I realized that was not the pattern I wanted to get stuck in if I was going to be working from home for a month or more.

I want to make this time at home work in my favor and if I plan to do that and be a productive individual I would still have to have a schedule.  I could sleep in a bit more because I would not have my commute but it also opens the opportunity to have more time to exercise, meditate, and make myself a healthy breakfast, do some laundry, organize closets and still check emails, make calls, and do my billing and coding for insurance claims.   It is vital that I create a routine from the start so that I do adopt bad habits in my daily routine.

This week, as I finalize things at my office to transition to working from home, I am also creating a schedule for my days at home and my plan is to really make this time work in my favor.  I have learned from my research of others who have worked from home for years that it is so important to still have a regular wake-up time and lunch time, and close the office door time.  As I create my new schedule for home I hope to find balance and still be productive while enjoying this opportunity to build discipline and structure for when I do have my own practice.  Project number one, make my guest room into a home office!  How are you navigating changes?

With peace, love, happiness and healthy vibes to all,

Stacy

Fear of Missing Out & Only If Mindset

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In today’s world I think most of us suffer from the fear of missing out and the only if mindset.  We want to see, do, be as many things in life as possible and we often live for the future …if only I could have that car, that house, that degree, that job, that partner…then life would be perfect!  We forget to take pride in who we are and where we are in this very moment.  We are so focused on the next big adventure or the thing of the future that we ignore all the good right in front of us.  I am a planner so I often find myself struggling with both of these.  I get my heart set on a goal and keep my eye on the prize and this helps motivate me when times get tough.  However, I have come to realize, as with all things, there must be a balance.

It is great to make plans and have goals to learn and experience new things.  It is wonderful to put dreams out into the universe for a better lifestyle, nicer things, and fantastic relationships, just don’t let these wants and desires for the future take over the present moments.  Take time to truly enjoy where you are and reflect on how far you have come.  Remind yourself that there was a time when you may have prayed to be where you are right now and have some of the things you have right now.  Take time to celebrate those wins you have already accomplished along the way before moving on to the next big thing.  The constant drive for more can be unhealthy and end up leading you in a life of never being satisfied or happy.

So take time today to slow down and appreciate the present moment.  Look at your life and think about how far you have come and truly appreciate your efforts and hard work.  We must be thankful for what we have now and give thanks regularly in order to receive all that we desire in the future.  Taking time to give thanks in your daily practice of meditation or just as you get ready to start your day is a great positive habit. Spare nothing in your time of giving thanks, running water and indoor plumbing as I shower and get ready, my body functioning properly as I climb out of bed and stretch, my healthy teeth as I brush them…include every detail of life in your list! Truly feel it in your heart as you give thanks, don’t just run through it like a grocery list.  I am thankful for all of you who read my blog!

With love, health, and happiness,

Stacy

 

Self-Compassion

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I have been through some serious changes since last Summer:  a breakup, starting grad school, and my one and only daughter going off to college have topped the list, and more recently the start of dating someone new.  As I near mid-terms in grad-school our professors often encourage the importance of self-care.  In the field of counseling we are inundated with client worries and concerns throughout our work day on top of navigating our own personal and professional stress.   This can quickly cause burnout in my career field but this can be true in many other career fields and life situations as well.  When we are experiencing a lot of changes it can be overwhelming even if they are positive changes.

I changed my job and started this new career path just within the last couple of years and even though it has mostly been rewarding, there have been times when I felt overwhelmed and unsure.  I love to read and have a bit of a magazine addiction, its one of my guilty pleasures and you can find stacks of magazines by my bed, bathtub, and couch.  Being a big fan of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, I love to receive my Yoga Journal magazine and as I was reading through one of the most recent issues I came across an article recommending a book by Tara Brach called Radical Compassion.  I am also a member of Audible and decided to use my monthly book credit to check it out.  I love to listen to audio books on my drive to work each morning and this one is definitely worth the read!

Self-compassion is a little different than self-care but I think both are required in order to truly take care of yourself.  I think most would agree that we are all our own worst critic in life and many of us overachievers focus constantly on what we should be or could be doing better and even shaming ourselves for our areas of struggle.  Monday I had a bad day, I felt like I was just going through the motions and basically not really accomplishing much of anything that day.  Then on Tuesday my day was better but my significant other was out of town on business and our evening conversation consisted of him relaying to me his extremely complicated day!  Here we are on Wednesday and we both have high hopes that it is only going to get better!  After my manic Monday I woke up determined to get my shit together and not let my Tuesday be a replay.  I often push myself to work through lunch and Tuesday I chose to have lunch with a friend and I even bought a plant in a beautiful container to put on my desk.  I allowed myself to just enjoy my lunch hour and not rush back to the office.  That afternoon I accomplished more than I would have if I had stayed through lunch and tried to push through.

Normally, I would have beat up on myself for taking time for myself after having such a non-productive day on Monday, but I have come to realize it is necessary to let go and just be every once in a while.  We were not put on this planet to trudge away with work, school, paying bills and raising kids day after day.  Having a wonderful job, furthering your education, being able to pay the bills, and raising a healthy happy family is all joyful but we all know there is more to life.  It is not selfish to have things that just bring you and only you, joy.  Allow yourself grace to have a bad day and allow yourself time to just be and do something you enjoy that only benefits you.  Recognize and train yourself to be self-aware when you feel stressful, hurt, and angry emotions and how those negative feelings feel in your body.  Accept & allow those feelings and understand they are normal.  Sit with those feelings for a bit, really allow yourself to feel them.  Investigate where those feelings come from, how they came about, and why they feel so strong in that moment.  Then nurture yourself by understanding the emotional ups and downs of life are not only normal but necessary.  This concept of  recognize, allow, investigate and nurture are known as RAIN and is more deeply explained in the book by Brach.  We need to be reminded what it is like to struggle and have a bad day every now and then because it helps us learn, grow, and truly appreciate the good days.

It may be hard to see it and believe it in some situations but even life at its worst is still a positive experience because there is opportunity for learning and growth through self-awareness; opportunity for acceptance and connection through self-compassion, and opportunity for moments of joy and freedom through self-care.  So as we move through the rest of this week and find ourselves getting closer to Spring remember better days are ahead and you don’t have to have it all figured out, all together, all the time.

With love, health, and happiness,

Stacy