Journeying Out of the Cave

“This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-fainthearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one's potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life. Yet the deeply exciting thing about human beings is that when the individual is inwardly free, he chooses as the good life this process of becoming.”   - Carl R. Rogers

We humans have the power to heal ourselves! This phenomenon hit me when I was in my first psychology class at San Francisco City College. I was eighteen and felt like I had just discovered an exotic jewel. I realized for the first time in my life that I was more than what I thought I was - I had the power to change my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and in turn, these changes could alter the events in my life. This sounds like a superpower, right? So with this new superpower, I embarked on what would become a lifelong journey into self- improvement. As I was learning all about family dynamics that semester, I enlisted in psychotherapy bootcamp. Doing mental and emotional push-ups each day with the new tidbits of knowledge I learned in class, I was able to stretch these concepts during my weekly sessions with my therapist. His name was Bo. This gentle, humorous, and empathetic man created a space in which I could quench my craving for a deeper understanding of how my childhood experiences had shaped me.

This newfound information was a gift and a burden. Suddenly I realized that everyone, including the people I loved, also had the same superpower. I was in class one day when this realization dawned on me. Through moist eyes, I could barely make out the overhead slide in front of me. Were my fellow classmates in on this discovery? If everyone had the potential within them to develop and become a better human, why wouldn't they want to try? Wasn't this at the top of everyone's priority list?

That is the question. I now understand just how much more is involved than simply wanting to change. Some truly don't have the emotional or mental capacity, and countless others prefer the comfort of numbness and complacency rather than face the pain, uncertainty, fear and even joy that accompanies journeying upward. I was one of them.

As I shared with a dear friend recently, I never thought I could be a happy person. The forever bubbly and upbeat person that people saw on the outside was filled with a mountain of doubt, sadness, and a lot of fear. I was afraid of the unknown, afraid of what other people thought of me, afraid of not being in control. I was comforted by the tight grip of anxiety. A blanket that shut me in and shut out new experiences. But, like that lone prisoner in Plato's Allegory of the Cave, I doubted my perception of reality. I believed there was a different way - a way into the light.

After twenty years of going through the spin cycle and hanging myself out to dry, I was beginning to feel different. It wasn't necessarily better, but different. With each passing moment, I was inching toward the light. Some days, a hair forward, others days a great leap. Some days there would just be stillness where I could feel the soft glow of a distant sun on my face. And then, two years ago - in a small, quiet moment of not looking ahead or behind me - I was catapulted out of the cave. Just as I wasn't looking, a miracle happened.

At first, the light was blinding. My life went from black and white to Technicolor. The vivid reality of being outside the cave that had served as my trusty protector was both wondrous and frightening. Could I survive? Could I learn a new language? Could I learn a new way of being here? What if I'm fully exposed and there's nowhere to hide?

The journey continues for me, but I've certainly learned a new way of being. Each day it changes in some small or big way, and for this I'm eternally grateful. How lucky am I to have been gifted with this human experience?! I fully accept my charge - to choose happiness, to face my fears, to love fully, to carry compassion always in my heart for others, and most of all to continue launching exploratory (and sometimes downright silly) expeditions in search of a better me.

Most of all I believe in this - that miracles are possible. They don't have to be felt by others. They are happening within us each and every day. I believe that we all have a light we are looking towards. Some of us can see it clearly. For others, it is still dim. Don't be afraid to search for the path that leads to your light for fear off the rough terrain or what lies waiting for you on the outside.

I wouldn't want to be any other species on this earth because as a human, I have the opportunity and privilege to reach out to another being every day. When two souls touch, magic unfolds. A fire ignites that is impossible to extinguish. There in this flame are the electrons of higher energy - hope, trust, and forgiveness. This interactive dance, this positive interaction - is what leads us to real freedom. Freedom from whatever cave we may be hiding out in. A freedom that give us permission to accept ourselves and others as works in progress.

Feeling true happiness for the blossoming of another person is perhaps the best aspect of the human experience. It requires abandoning the feelings of self-doubt and judgment that we harbor in ourselves.  In this space, we set the stage to truly see others as they are and through this act, compassion mirrored back to us, giving us the self-love and understanding we need.

Open up your heart, reach out and take the hand of a friend or family member inching their way through the cave. In this process, we have an opportunity to leave ourselves for the moment and witness the miracle of another human being growing and changing before our eyes. From this, we too are changed. We walk on separate paths but in the same direction - towards the light.

Co-existing

I help people dream big, set goals, and accomplish them. There’s no greater fulfillment than being able to help my clients get from point A to point B. But what happens when I find myself sitting across the table from a new client and that person is - me? I work with a coach, practice self-coaching, and usually don’t have a difficult time putting in writing what I intend to do and then executing. However, recently, there seems to be an inner battle taking place between my creativity and productivity. I find myself asking the questions: how does creativity exist in a world with boundaries? How do we integrate the fluid and creative aspects of ourselves with the part that makes sure we do what say we are going to do? This seems to be the lesson that the universe is putting before me. I have a feeling 2015 will be about my discovering how to achieve the delicate balance of letting go, being messy, and taking risks while maintaining a life structure that allows me to achieve my goals.

I’ve lived most of my life with self-inflicted policies and guidelines. This structure ensured that I would be safe and prepared for anything that could go wrong.  I was deliberate in when I would allow myself “time off” - a chance to escape the pressure. For me, dance and theater have always been a safe space to let go and be free.  Once a show was completed, however, I would go back to my carefully formatted life, separating the two worlds entirely. Why? Because I feared a loss of control should these two parts of myself combine.

As many of you know, this past year for me has been marked by transition, and as I’m going through changes mentally, emotionally, and physically, I notice a curious thing taking place - my creative side is reaching out from deep within to touch the boundaries of who I am. My soul, my skin, my bones feel awakened by this stirring. Naturally, this feeling also invokes anxiety. When everything has its own special compartment on the shelf, it’s scary to think about the contents shifting and engaging.

Feeling fear and anxiety is part of the creative process. Research shows that when we are feeling comfortable and content, we aren’t as curious about thinking outside of the box. I find that we are more open to new opportunities when we are restless and unsteady. In this state, we are continuously questioning ourselves and others, as well as the status quo. I’m currently in a state of unsteadiness. I know positive things are in store for me, but I can’t tell how they will come or what exactly they will be. For now, I am choosing to open myself up to this process in spite of the discomfort, because I believe that I'm meant to learn something valuable.

So as I think about this New Year and what things are coming my way, I am making a commitment to befriend the fear. I am inviting it to take its place alongside the creativity. I know that if I don’t allow these two parts to engage and learn how to co-exist, I will deprive myself and others of something greater – the beauty of an integrated human.

When we stop denying nourishment to the parts that make us who we are, we experience a coming into (ourselves) and then eventually a coming out – a place where we can expose ourselves fully in the light without fear or judgment. Creativity relies on the unknown, often scary, and ever-changing aspects of who we are to exist and flourish. It is this need for reinvention that separates us from any other living being. I invite you to join me in allowing your fear to ride beside you as you create, alter, and reinvent how you will show up this year. Use the feelings of uncertainty as opportunities to ask questions, take risks, learn, and grow.

New and beautiful experiences we will create. 

Open Letter to The Inner Critic

Dear Inner Critic,

What can I say? Having you by my side since I can remember has been familiar, a pain, but also really comforting. You've helped me do so many things: do well in ballet classes, get straight A's through school, do well at auditions, the ability to always go above and beyond at work, be that person that everyone can rely on, and most of all you've helped me maintain a high, very high standard for myself and others. I do regret my nitpicky ways with friends and family and know that you've had a hand in this. This part of you, doesn't make me happy. I can see the damage you've done to people I care about, perhaps easier than I can see the damage you do to me.

Despite my efforts to believe in myself, think positively, and reduce negative thinking, you find a way to sneak back on my shoulder. Why? I get that at first, you arrived in my life to protect me from fear, from chaos in my family, from the outside world, and new things and experiences. I could survive if I was "perfect" and always in control, but how could I achieve such a thing without a trusty and knowledgable accomplice? There you enter stage left and there you stay on my stage for the last 30+ years. So while I appreciate all you have done for me - star student status, best daughter, best employee, the person who never forgets anything and always knows the right thing to say and do - I don't need your help anymore. I've got this. I now have the inner resources, tools, and support and most of all confidence. The confidence to make my way in the world and I know a lot more than I did when I was a kid  1) People like to know that they are working with a real person and real people make mistakes, they aren't perfect. They are vulnerable 2) Being myself no matter what is the best gift I could give myself and to others 3) I am great just the way I am and I have the confidence that I can learn new ways of being when needed.

There are probably other things too, but I hope you get the idea. I am a smart, confident woman who knows herself well. It really undermines my confidence when you have something to say about everything I say or do. It knocks me down more often than not and you really make me doubt myself. There is no reason to. I know I can do anything I set my mind to. When you show up, I feel fear, which is really strange because you first showed up to protect me from fear. Well now, you just cause it. So... what now?

I know it will be hard, but I'm officially declaring that I'm writing you out of my story. There is no need for your character anymore. You are a villain and unecessary because my story only features a cast of loving and sincere characters that build me up. I truly appreciate all the things you've done for me and all the ways in which you have helped me get to where I'm at today. I know I will probably still see you backstage from time to time, waiting for an opportunity to perform. I assure you, I won't need you. Don't be hurt if I ignore you. I will remember you fondly, but I will never listen to you again.

Inner Critic, goodbye. I am finally secure with myself and feel really good in my own skin. What an accomplishment! I know you are happy for me. I will remember you that way, being happy for me.

Summertime

Remember when you were in grade school and summer was just around the corner? You could smell the changing season in the air. In Gilroy, where I grew up, the smell of garlic was a little stronger, the breeze a little less brisk, and neighborhood barbeques were in abundance. The months of July and August seemed like a lifetime. Two months of complete freedom.

I filled my days with swimming and riding my bike (usually to the 7-11 or movie theater to meet my friends) and strategizing which friends' house would be our next hangout. The kids in the neighborhood would come over to my house for swim parties and everyday was filled with excitement for what the next day would bring. When I think back to those summers it's as if time stood still, allowing opportunities for unexpected happiness to come into my life.

Now that I'm an adult, the summers go by so quickly. I no longer ride a bike or have swim parties, but there are still a few things that I really look forward to: more sunshine and longer days, less traffic and shorter drive times with schools out of session, giving tourists directions who find themselves in my neck of the woods trying to find their way back to Fisherman's Wharf or Golden Gate Bridge, and a buzz on the streets from locals who are committed to enjoying life and putting themselves out there. Vibrant and colorful is the San Francisco citizen.

This is the first summer in a long while that I've taken the time to slow down and really enjoy each day. I've been rewarded with warmer days, impromptu conversations with interesting people I meet on the street or at the store, traveling, and most importantly - a renewed outlook on my life. I must admit that there have been days in the past month where I felt less than productive (e.g. no blog posts since June), but those days have been followed by bursts of energy like no other - a perfect flow - where the frenetic pace of the world is perfectly in tune with the inner workings of my mind. I am learning to have faith in the process of creativity.

As I reflect on this summer so far, I feel grateful for the season, for the new people I've met and for the old friends I've reconnected with. I am happy to have learned the valuable lesson that it's when we let go and trust the process, that we are rewarded with abundance. The summer is a chance to reprogram our minds and see life in Technicolor. Spending time in nature, and relishing the company of our friends and family refuels the spirit and makes everything brighter.

I invite you to reflect on the year so far. Have you changed in some way? Have you learned something new about yourself? Have you ventured outside of your comfort zone and challenged yourself? If your productivity has slightly waned, don't fret. Taking the time to recharge your mind and body means more energy for the fall. 

In this last month of summer, take the time to enjoy the simplicity of the season - this wonderful in-between-time of the year where the days are longer and anything is possible. Make a commitment to yourself to try new things, meet new people, and slow down long enough to hear the life-giving beats of your heart.

Less is More

Getting rid of personal items is really difficult. For the past month, I've been preparing to have hardwood floors installed on the second level of our house. I am very excited of course, but surprised at how much work we've had to do to prepare. It's like moving all over again. This process, however, has taught me a valuable lesson. More often than not, less is more. 

Why do we accumulate all these materials possessions? I will take a stab at answering this very human and first world dilemma. Having things seems to soothe the soul. They make us experience fleeting moments of happiness. We can finally afford those pair of jeans, that purse, that couch, that car, even that super nifty Tupperware set on a late night infomercial. Our clothes, accessories, electronics, cars, books, furniture... are extensions of who we are. When we leave this life someday, these things will still be here. But they will no longer have any meaning because they were simply things that we gave meaning to and we thought gave meaning to us.

So over the past few weeks, I have been asking myself "do I really need this? When was the last time I wore it/used it?" Even when the answer has been really obvious - a resounding 'Get rid of it!' I have found myself clutching to the item, reliving when I last used it, where I was, and who I was with. Okay, maybe I'm more sentimental than most, but I've checked in with friends about this and they also find all too familiar. What I've learned in this process is that what really matters is having possessions that I absolutely love. I am not going to save that special pair of shoes or fancy frying pan for an extraordinary occasion. I will use it now, while I'm here and alive. I will use the heck out of it and then when it needs replacing, I will buy something new. For the things that don't bring me happiness and/or make my life easier - I am giving those things away. Perhaps they will make someone else happy.

Collecting material possessions is like holding on to the past. We cannot cling to the past because we truly only have today. So like we keep the great memories of yesteryear and do away with the rest, we can move towards keeping only the possessions that truly make us happy and make life easier. Remember less is more. No one will remember us for all the wonderful things we had. They will remember us for all the wonderful things we did to make the world a better place.

 

Friday I'm in Love

Remember that song by The Cure? That early 90s, iconic hit continues to inspire love, freedom, and a sense that anything is possible.

For years, I would have to force myself to get out of bed every morning, and as I did, I would remind myself of the day of the week hoping it was Friday or better yet Saturday. Oh, it's Tuesday... okay I still have three more days to go. The days of the week each meant something: Mondays were "ugh, it's Monday, already." Tuesdays were like a second chance to do things better, if Monday didn't go well. Wednesdays were always a day of indifference - hey, at least it's not Monday, but then again it's not Friday either. Thursdays would get my heart rate up. Maybe I'd have an extraordinary dinner date with friends or would do away with the healthy dinner plan at the last minute in favor of going out on the town with my husband. Thursdays gave me permission to let my guard down, relax, and start transitioning to my real self - just in time for the weekend. Not that I wasn't my real self earlier in the week. I was just me, behind a mask. The mask helped me manage routine without a purpose, politics, and obligatory duties that didn't align with my authentic self. Then alas, Friday would come. The big day. When you have all your expectations riding on 'that big day', it's easy to be let down. Small things like laundry and grocery shopping get in the way.

The truth is life is a series of small, ordinary events. We hear that all the time and it's true. The problem is that when you are really looking forward to your days off, you want them to be great and momentous, and you get really disappointed when they are boring and don't live up to their fullest potential.

Since taking the plunge to pursue what makes me truly happy personally and professionally, the days of waking up and immediately associating my feelings with whatever day of the week it happens to be are long gone. Now, I wake up wondering what my day has in store for me. Yes, I have set meetings and commitments, and I still do the laundry and grocery shopping, but I decide when and how these events happen. Some days when I'm out and about, I have to ask someone 'what day is today?' This is really amusing to me, like when you are on vacation and lose track of the date because there's no need to keep track - anything goes. I guess it's because now, every day feels like a Friday. I wake up with excitement - this feeling that something amazing is about to happen and it's just around the corner. 

What if every day was like a Friday? What would you be doing? How would it be different from how you spend your days now? If you find yourself playing the days of the week game as I used to do, and are just dying for Friday to come, I invite you to live tomorrow like it were a Friday. You just might find yourself feeling more playful and free. Be free. Play with the deck you've been handed or work hard so you can trade it in for one that gives you happiness and fulfillment.

 

 

 

Listening For Signs

Maybe it's because we think we are invincible, or we just haven't been paying much attention to the subtle changes our bodies made over the years, but it's tough to slow down long enough to listen to what they are telling us. The slightest whisper easily turns into a cacophony, if we don't get the foreshadowing our bodies are wittingly laying out for us.  For some of us, it is hard to face that we can't do some of the same things we did in our 20s. There seems to be a modified version for everything... a wild night out, an exercise move or stretch, letting loose. We are sore when we get up in the morning, take a few days to recover after a really late night out (wasn't this a 12 hour recovery time when we were 21?!), and take longer to recover from an injury or a cold.

For years, I have been utilizing the services of physical therapists, massage therapists, mental health therapists, coaches, and of course western medicine doctors. For those of you who've lived with chronic pain, you understand the gnawing, throbbing reminder that greets you first thing in the morning, checks in with you in the afternoon, and says "Don't worry, I'm still here" at bedtime. The pain became a part of my life. I worked around it, dropping exercise classes, only going to low impact dance classes, readjusting my body in the car several times on a short drive, using props, creams, heating pads, ice packs, gels, drugs, and just about everything out there. I developed a work-around and for a long, long time it worked.

Last week, after a two-month run of low grade headaches and neck pain, I decided to try acupuncture. I'd had enough. I was on a mission to fix whatever it was that was causing me to want to rip out my neck, head, jaw, and upper back and replace it with brand new parts. I guess I hadn't been really listening to what my body was trying to tell me, but now I was. I met with a woman named Holly at an integrative medicine clinic near my house. She was the first person I've ever encountered who took the time to learn about my health history. She was genuinely interested in my aches and pains, and the strange incidents from my past that western doctors would explain away with a pat on my shoulder and the words "You're fine. You're too young to have any health issues." In Holly's presence, I felt heard. She was listening with full curiosity, like an investigator looking for patterns. During my first treatment, my neck and head pain went away. I couldn't believe it. She attributes the pain and odd incidents to an imbalance in my body and blocks in various places. It makes sense. The body is well.. all connected, yet western medicine focuses on each part often ignoring its very close and important neighbors. This 'unblocking' has given me my mojo back. I feel motivated to take control of my health which includes listening for signs that I'm stuck, blocked, sick, tired, overwhelmed, or just not right.

Sometimes we need big signs, really big bricks that fall on our head to make us listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us. While I was pretty good at making all sorts of accommodations to suit my ever increasing aches and pains so that no one would suspect - and most importantly I could ignore them - I now know that it's not normal to feel like that all the time. With this new tuning instrument activated within me thanks to acupuncture, I now intend to be listening more closely and to settle for nothing less than feeling good. I may not be in my 20s anymore and doing everything at full speed, but I'm much smarter, happier, and now feeling more balanced.

Listen to what your body is telling you. Take it seriously. Stay in motion and rest when you are tired. If you aren't getting the answers that help you feel confident about your health, go somewhere where they will listen and work with you to find out what you need to feel good. Listen for the signs, and take action.

Until next time, 

Coach Misty

 

Returning to Joy

From the time I was a little girl dance has been in my heart and soul. At the age of four, I started my first ballet class. I remember my parents bringing me into the room and standing by the door to watch me take my place at the bar. We lived in San Francisco at the time, just a few blocks away from the studio. I remember the smell of the old wooden floors, the creaking that they’d make when I stepped over certain panels as I’d make my way across the floor. Even at this young age, I knew I loved whatever this was.

Throughout my childhood, dance was my best friend. When I was in ballet class, I felt like nothing else mattered. School, homework, playing with friends – all important, but dance was better because I would fully lose myself in it. I loved the discpline – leotards only in certain colors that denoted what level I was at, the belt around my waist to monitor the slightest movement of my hips, my hair in a bun so tight that my eyes and head would slightly ache by the end of class. Then there was the mirror. A girl’s best friend and worst enemy. The mirror was my guide providing continuous feedback and positive reinforcement that I was very good at executing each movement and transitioning from one to the next. It was also a measurement tool where I learned how to compare myself to other girls judging how good they were, how they looked, hoping I wouldn’t be the one to make a mistake to be seen by everyone in the reflection. Looking back, I realize how wonderful it was to be so joyous about something in my childhood, but also how much this environment molded my way of being in the world.

In high school the older sister of my high school friend passed away on a trip to Disneyland with her family. She was visiting and on break from her prestigious position with the Boston Ballet. She died from an apparent heart attack related to her low body weight. This turned my world upside down. How could this artform that had shaped who I was, taken the life of the most talented and beautiful dancer I had known? That summer a special aired on 20/20 revealing the heartbreaching details of her untimely death and her family’s plea for the ballet world to take note about the unrealistic pressures they put on their dancers to be thin and perfect.

Throughout most of my 20s I took ballet and jazz classes. I still held on to the idea that I was a dancer even though in my heart I knew I would never dance professionally. As I struggled to keep up with girls in their teens who had near perfect extensions, I would catch a glimpse of myself in my old friend the mirror. My legs wobbled and my hips hurt. One day in class, the image in the mirror became clear to me. I wasn’t happy doing this anymore. The reflection that had once given me so much validation, confidence, and joy was now telling me “It’s over. You are not a dancer.”

Thanks to theater, in my late 20s, I was ready to dance again, but under the guise of acting. I learned that dance opened doors for me that would have been otherwise closed. I began a new courtship with dance realizing that the strong foundation I had developed from all of those years of ballet helped me in so many ways. I felt my confidence returning. I would dance only if I was in a show because now I could be an ‘actor with a dance background’. No pressure.

Fast forward to the present. I’m 37 now and this past month I have returned to dance. No theatrical performances, just me, the studio, and my old reflective friend. I am opening myself up to learning dance all over again in a new way – with creativity and curiousity even trying new forms of dance like Nia, Belly Dancing, and Zumba. I am no longer judging myself or others in the mirror. I am dancing to feel my body, mind, and soul connect in a wonderful space, I am dancing to return to my roots, I am dancing to feel joy. It makes me sad to think that this part of myself has been alive for all these years within me waiting to be discovered again and how easily I had forgotton about it. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to let go of the past and walk through a new door. Now that I’ve walked through that threshold, I won’t be turning back. There are many things that I do well, there are many things that bring me joy, but none as much as dance. A teacher said to me after class yesterday “You looked really, really happy.”  I think I have returned to joy

Success Equals...

If you haven’t read the book ‘The Art of Possibility’ yet, give yourself a gift and grab a copy. This short and uplifting read continues to expand my definition about what’s possible for me, my life, and for those around me.

I’ve always been my own worst critic. I got straight As in school and was that kid that always had her homework done plus the extra credit. I was that kid in class that was the first to raise their hand and was called “teacher’s pet.” All that positive reinforcement confimed my belief that in order to be successful I had to be the best (at everything) and hold myself to a really high standard. Sound familiar? Or maybe you were the kid that resented the kid like me because you were barely making a C and struggled with the homework despite your best efforts. Either way, we all developed our definitions of success somewhere along the way.

Somewhere along my path, I developed a pseudo truth (but didn’t know it at the time) I was living by: perfection = success. The problem, of course, is that perfection doesn’t exist. What a shocker. But here I am in my late 30s and just really tuned into this. Of course Iknew that it didn’t exist, but every fiber in my being believed it. So after years of trying to be perfect or as close to it as possible, I read the ‘Art of Possibility’ and was hit in the face with the notion that the definitions of success I’d been living by my whole life are… made up. That’s right, all made up. I know what some of you may be thinking – of course it isn’t made up. This is how our schools, jobs, society.. everything is structured. Being ahead of the game, getting good grades, going to college, making lots of money, having a nice car, getting married, having kids – this is what success looks like, right? It turns out there are as many meanings of success as there are people in this world. To you, success may be having a high paying job, having a fulfillig job, having a loving family, running a 5K, becoming a successful writer…The point is that whatever succcess means to us, we have created that meaning. So think about your definition of success now and complete this sentence: I am successful because I _______________________. Does it resonate fully? Is it someone else’s definition of success? Is it yours? If not, image what your life would be like if you, and only you, defined what that meant.  How would your days be different? How would you feel about yourself? What possibilities could you imagine for yourself with this new definition?

For me, a gigantic weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I sure wish I hadn’t waited so long to start living by my own definitions. The truth is that our society makes it really easy to fall into this trap. I live my life now fully by my rules. When I notice myself becoming anxious, I stop myself and think about whose standards I’m trying to live up to. If something doesn’t feel true to who I am, I don’t do it. I seek out the things that make me happy and new ways of being that support my best self. To me, success equals… happy days filled with connection, growth, and activities that make my heart sing. Now, your turn!

Until next time,

Coach Misty

A Year in the Making

Yep. That’s me. A year in the making. Well, really a lifetime in the making, but if you’ve noticed, you haven’t received a post from me in about a year. I created this blog in early 2013, got really gung ho about writing consistently and then… dropped it completely. The complete opposite of what I’d intended which was to bring writing back into my life and share it with you. I know – how can you follow a blog if the author is just going to ditch you in the middle of the relationship? Trust me, I understand. I am embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t even remember my password to log back into the admin page so I could revamp it. Well, here it is revived and alive again. A lot has happened to me in the last year and I hope you’ll read on to hear about it.

I knew without a doubt that I had to leave my job in academia. While I was really good at it and got a lot of confidence from having a solid reputation and producing top notch work, there was something stirring within me. These feelings had been brewing for some time and I got to a point where I just couldn’t ignore what I was experiencing. I realized that the institution’s values didn’t match mine.  Sure they said they value X, Y, and Z, but I believe that actions and behaviors are what really count and from what I could tell  - there was not a match. That’s when I realized that perhaps my own values had changed. Actually, I don’t think I paid much attention to what my values were when I was in my 20s and early 30s. In the last two years as I learned more about my own values, I noticed a discrepancy between what I hold most important in my life with those around me at work. Don’t get me wrong. Many of my colleagues remain close friends today. It was the collective unconscious of the institution that was getting under my skin. I won’t bore you with all the ups and downs I experienced in the last year, but they were all important and led me to make the decision of a lifetime – to leave my job in pursuit of real happiness and freedom. Thankfully, I knew what I was running into. I am so grateful to have been a part time practicing coach in the last few years and knew without a doubt this is what I was meant to do full time.

Fast forward to February 2014 – I am a free woman. No more living by someone else’s rules, policies or procedures. I’ve always known I am a self-directed person, but nothing tests this assumption more than being out on my own. Thankfully, my hypothesis was correct. I feel like I was meant for entreprenuership – I love networking, connecting with each person I’m with on a deeper level, learning the latest pscyhology and coaching practices – trying these practices out on myself and then applying them with clients, marketing, creating something brand new, and writing. I love writing and how cool is it that I get to do that here in service of helping other people. While all these aspects build my confidence and confirm that I am exactly where I’m meant to be, this journey is an emotional roller coaster. You might be thinking why would anyone put themself through that? I have asked myself that question several times over the last seven weeks and my answer is – this may be an emotional ride, but it’s MY ride. I am living my truth. I am in full control over what I do each and every day. Most importanty, my actions and behaviors 100% align with my values. I get to reinvent, ammend, reevaluate, make more changes, create, fail greatly, succeed greatly, live!  I’m excited about the fact that when you are in business for yourself these are all good things. It means I am on the right track. Who wants stale, stagnet, and the status quo? There is a place for all of that, but it’s not in my work. When I work with clients it’s a gift because we both transform, we both discover, and we both grow one step at a time.

So now that I’m living my truth I get to share it with you. I promise not to abandon you this time. I am here for the long haul. I needed that time off from writing to process and go through the healthy stages of change. I had to build up the courage to take this huge, life risk and fully practice what I preach. I can help my clients continue to grow because I am commited to doing this myself every day, no matter how hard it may be at times. The ability of the human spirit to heal, replenish, and transform is truly a miracle. It is beautiful on the other side. Whatever that “it” is for you, don’t wait – do it.

Until next time,

Coach Misty

Practice Makes Reality

Being a positive person isn’t always easy. In fact, it takes a lot of practice. Contrary to what some people believe, positivity isn’t about seeing everything through rose colored glasses or ignoring negative feelings. Sometimes our days truly stink and it’s important to stop and feel those emotions. Equally important, but sometimes missing from our emotional toolbox, is what we decide to do afterwards.

Taking small steps to experience more good feelings is a great approach to strengthening our positivity muscle:

1) Start with making a list of the things that make you feel good about yourself, happy, alive, and/or puts a smile on your face. Brainstorm and keep adding to the list until you run out of ideas. There are no bad ideas!

2) Go through that list and circle the activities/states of being/etc. that deeply resonate with you.

3) Chose one of those items (let’s say it’s playing with your dog at the park) and make a commitment to choose one day this week where you’ll practice this activity. Set an intention and increase your liklihood of doing it by writing down the day of the week, the approximate time, and for how long you will engage in this activity.

4) Notice you how feel during and after the activity.

5) Build up to practicing this activity as many times per week/day that you’d like. Once a certain level feels comfortable, increase the number.

6) Choose another item from your list and repeat the process.

By increasing these feel good activities, you’ll build up your positivity muscle.

Here are some of the items on my list that get me out of my negative thinking and feeling patterns and into a positive state:

- spending time with positive family and friends

- dancing, especially in a class format because I get to see other people smiling and feeling good

- watching an inspirational TedTalk, video, or movie

- reading an inspirational book, poem, article or online posts

- creating a mantra that focuses on the positive aspects of my life

- reciting that or another mantra for as long as it takes for my mood to shift

- exercising, especially outdoors because I get to experience nature (another positive boosting activity)

- journaling about all the good things that I have going for me (nothing is too small and should never be taken for granted)

- practicing Loving Kindness Meditation where I offer kindess, love, and happiness to myself, people I know and love, strangers, and finally people who I may not have the easiest time with. Not only is this type of meditation excellent for improving health conditions, studies also show it helps to rewire the brain to feel positive emotions more often.

Positivity is a state of mind. It takes practice for our brains to not only learn, but sustain a new way of thinking. If we grew up with a lot of negative emotions, it’s natural that when we are stressed we default to negative thinking patterns that trigger the bad feelings. They are uncomfortable, but familiar and sometimes familiar is easier to deal with. It’s really a human instinct to be on the lookout for the negative and searching for danger. So naturally, it will take time and practice to learn a new way of being. Starting small is key. For the last ten years, I’ve been on a quest to decrease the bad feelings and increase the good ones. It’s really a never ending journey because there’s no shortage of experiences and events that can bring us down on any given day. By simply practicing the items on your list on a routine basis, positivity starts to become your reality.

Need a good reason to start today? Something later on today or tomorrow is bound to come up that triggers a negative feeling. When you increase your positive emotions, you’ll be better equipped to take on whatever that event is and you’ll be able to bounce back from it faster. So practice every day to make positivity a reality for you!

And if you liked this post, please share with your friends and family and spread the positivity cheer! (Facebook and LinkedIn share button coming soon!)

Until next time,

Coach Misty