So, today is my 40th birthday. Yup, I guess it was inevitable.
Yesterday was a bit of an emotional day for me—shocker. For those who have known me a long time, you know my bday always brings up a lot for me. What can I say, I’m an emotional person—a true pisces—I feel deeply.
Anyway, I thought by this point in my life I’d feel all grown up. I mean, I’m married, have kids, I hold down a steady job, have a home, and do grown-up things every day. It’s funny how in our heads, most of us get stuck around 25.
I did some reflecting (as you’d expect I would), and I’m choosing to embrace 40 because my only other option is to get all cuckoo and miserable about it. 39 was kind of a crazy year for me. I’m ready to leave it behind and am excited to see what’s in store for me moving forward. People keep telling me that being in your 40’s is great, and that it’s a really solid time in life where you know yourself better, feel more stable, and stop caring about things that don’t actually matter so much—sounds pretty good to me, so I say, “Bring it on!”
In the spirit of being a little older and wiser than I was yesterday, here’s my list of 40 things I’ve come to know in my 40 years….
1. We are never too old to learn.
2. We are never too old to grow.
3. We are never too old to change.
4. We are never too old to see things differently.
5. We are never too old to redefine ourselves.
6. It’s ok to not always know what we want in life.
7. We may never feel like we are “grown-ups.”
8. There will always be a child within us that needs nurturing.
9. Life is fun.
10. Life is messy.
11. Life is exciting.
12. Life is scary.
13. Life is beautiful.
14. Life is confusing.
15. Life is magical.
16. Life can be tricky.
17. The universe always has our backs even when we don’t fully understand it.
18. We’re all doing the best we can.
19. Sometimes we will feel hurt, sad, disappointed, rejected, less than, or not good enough, but…
20. We will also feel valued, happy, alive, appreciated, loved, and good enough if we allow ourselves to.
21. The things we obsess about almost never really matter in the whole grand scheme of life.
22. True friends will stick around no matter what.
23. We can lose our mojo and come back even stronger.
24. Everything really does happen for a reason even when we don’t understand it.
25. It’s ok if we don’t have our sh*t together all the time (or even most of the time).
26. It takes a long time to truly get to know a person. People will surprise us. Sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise—sometimes, not so much.
27. Loving and accepting ourselves exactly as we are feels a hell of a lot better than judging and being hard on ourselves.
28. Loving those who come in and out of our lives feels way better than hating or holding onto grudges.
29. Expectations of ourselves and others often lead to disappointment, but…
30. Forgiveness brings tremendous relief. It’s worth the effort to get there.
31. Sometimes we have experiences that change us forever.
32. Many of the things we fear most, only exist in our heads.
33. Perfection in just an illusion. We are all perfectly imperfect.
34. Being silly feels amazing.
35. No feeling lasts forever. There’s no need to fear or avoid ‘em—they will always pass.
36. It can feel uncomfortable allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, but what happens when we are, can be life changing.
37. Connecting with others deeply can be scary, but is so worth it.
38. The most important opinion of you, is your own.
39. Our guts always have the answers. Living in our heads just makes making decisions confusing.
40. Living in fear gets us no where.
And one more for good luck…We are all just works in progress.
Ahhh, that was actually fun. I’m off to a good start. I think I’m gonna be ok.
So, on New Year’s Day, I took the plunge—the Polar Bear Plunge, that is. Yup, I stripped down to a bikini in forty-something degree weather, and submerged myself into a forty-something degree ocean. Am I crazy? Yeah, maybe a little, but it was exhilarating.
When I decided I wanted to do it, I asked a bunch of friends if they’d join me. Everyone replied with sarcastic comments as if it was never even a consideration for them. The day before the plunge, a friend asked me why I wanted to do it. While I had spent some time wondering why no one else wanted to go for it, I hadn’t actually thought about why I did.
In that moment I told her it’s because I like to scare the hell out of myself. Hm, what’s that all about? I thought some more and realized the reason why I like to do things other people often think are crazy (rollercoasters, trapeze, skydiving, paragliding…the polar bear plunge). It’s because I like to challenge myself, and I love the feeling of being scared, and doing something anyway. In those moments when I face a fear head on, I feel empowered, strong—like I could do anything.
Fear can be broken down as False Evidence Appearing Real. Folks often talk themselves out of things because of their fears, before giving themselves a chance to think about the possible awesome outcomes. What if _______ happens? I might end up feeling ______. I’ll never be good enough to do ______. Our list of fears goes on and on. We think we are protecting ourselves, but really we just keep ourselves stagnant because it’s easier and often comfier.
We can spend our lives believing our fears, avoiding, and ultimately missing out on experiences—or we can choose to not let fear get in our way. Zig Zigler said “Fear has two meanings: ‘Forget everything and run’ or ‘Face everything and rise.’ The choice is yours.” I prefer to rise.
Now, I’m not saying everyone should, or needs to jump out of a plane or run half-naked into a freezing ocean, but facing our fears head on can feel amazing. My heart was racing before I ran into the ocean on Sunday. My mind was racing too. I hate being cold. Why am I doing this? Is this dangerous? But I chose not to give into those fears. Instead, I thought This is gonna be such a rush! I can do this! I love doing things that are “crazy!” You only live once (Well I’m not so sure about that one, but we can save that for another post)!
The actual plunge lasted a whopping minute, but that one minute left me feeling alive, energized, proud, and full of energy. It’s not that I wouldn’t have had a nice day if I hadn’t done it, but it was definitely enhanced because of the experience. And yes, I want to do it again next year—and so does the friend I finally convinced to do it with me, as well as another friend.
In this new year, I invite you to find something that scares the hell out of you, and do it anyway. Have that difficult conversation, go for that new job, commit to getting healthier, be vulnerable in your relationship, go bungee jumping. See what happens—you might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. If not, you don’t ever have to do it again, but if you don’t try, you will never know anything but the stories you make up in your head.
As the end of the year approaches, many of us are pulled in all sorts of directions. Parties, family time, vacations, wrapping up work obligations—whatever it is, it can be a lot. It can be a joyous time for some, and for others—not so much. Regardless if you love or dread this time, it can be ideal for looking inward and reflecting on the year that has passed. It’s also an opportunity to set intentions and get ready for the shiny new year ahead.
How was your 2016? Did things go your way or did you find yourself sludging through a whole lot of muck this year? Did you show up in life as the person you want to be, or did you play half-ass? Would you do it all again happily, or would you choose to make some tweaks along the way if you could?
For those of you who have been following me for some time now, know that at the end of each year, I like to pick a word that inspires me for the new year ahead. I always suggest this to clients as well, instead of setting resolutions. I think it feels better for most folks, and seems to have more staying power. Anyway, last year my word was “flow.” It represented not overthinking things, trusting my gut more, and saying “yes” to more things that came my way.
For 2017, I have chosen “surrender.”
During a hot hip-hop yoga class in the dark last Saturday (yes that’s a thing in NYC), I found myself completely unable to balance. Doing any pose that required us to stand on one foot, or contort in a way that gravity played a role, I found myself bouncing around and flailing my arms like never before. It was quite bizarre, and I actually laughed out loud a few times because I felt like a complete spaz.
While making an attempt to quiet my mind (regardless of the commotion my body was making), it kept going back to the word “balance.” And off-balance was definitely something I had been feeling. So why “surrender,” and not “balance” for 2017?
To me surrendering means letting go, not trying to control everything, accepting what is, and not resisting reality. When I don’t do those things, I feel off-balance—hence my need to surrender. When we don’t surrender to what is, it’s like dragging our heels in the ground. It’s like holding onto the things that no longer serve us with a death grip. It’s like stomping our feet and having a tantrum like a toddler would. This doesn’t change our realities, and it certainly doesn’t make moving forward in life easy. Surrendering can, and will apply to many areas of my life in the coming year. Plus, just thinking the word makes me wanna take a big sigh of relief.
What word feels inspiring to you? What feels good in your body when you think it? What can help get you through the hard times, and open you up to more good? Believe? Allow? Release? Brave? Conquer? Confidence? Trust? Love? Oooh this is fun!
Dr. Suess once wrote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” As we near the end of another year, I find this quote to be very apropos. While some of you may be doing a little happy dance, others may be struggling.
I spent this past Saturday and Sunday at the New York Open Center getting trained on a stress reduction technique called EFT (also known as tapping). I want to start doing it with clients because it’s such a powerful tool. Anyway, for those of you who are unfamiliar with tapping, essentially it’s an emotional version of acupuncture. By tapping on specific acupressure points while either speaking or thinking about something that is troubling us, we can diffuse the negative energy surges we experience during stressful times.
One thing I found interesting during the training, was how often folks felt sadness in regards to happy memories of situations and people. You’d think when something amazing happened in our lives, we’d always look back and feel good about it. I observed quite the opposite though.
Nostalgia is actually super common. We sometimes long for the past, rather than experiencing the yummy feelings we felt during those times. As I listened to folks talk about their pain, I began to realize that even though most of them spoke of times they said were good, the sadness all came from loss or lack. People spoke of loved ones no longer in their lives—due to a death, a breakup, or the end of a friendship. They spoke of times in their lives that were “more fun” than their current lives—and times that were more carefree. It always had to do with something they didn’t have in the now.
It made me wonder why it can be so difficult at times to have those types of memories and be filled with wonderful feelings. I mean, those memories were supposedly good ones, right? It’s a shame really when you think about it. I certainly don’t want all the good stuff that comes along to eventually feel icky when it becomes a distant recollection.
So, how do we prevent that from happening? I’m still working on trying to fully get this myself (because I’m not the greatest at dealing with loss), but I’m thinking a combo of accepting ourselves wherever we’re at right now (a key concept in EFT), changing our thinking, and gratitude can help.
If we are grieving—acknowledging, accepting and feeling our feelings is important. Sometimes it feels easier to convince ourselves we didn’t actually like or need the people or things no longer in our lives. Doing so is really just a way of trying to avoid the pain of whatever it is we miss though. Trying to love those people or situations can be hard, but it really does feel so much better. Trying to find the lessons we may have learned, or the reasons for the temporary nature of some of life’s most amazing gifts can bring us ease.
Obviously being grateful for those special moments with special people in special places, doing special things is important—but I think it’s just as important to be grateful for what we have right now too. Because if we’re not, then all those fond memories start feeling icky because we are remembering them from a place of lack. We then focus on what we once had that we no longer have, and that never feels good. It’s where that pain comes from.
It can definitely be tricky at times. It’s natural to miss people and phases in our lives. Whenever my five year old tells me she’s going to miss me, I tell her missing someone or something is actually a beautiful thing because it means we love that person or thing. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t miss anything or anyone.
It’s ok to have those feelings, but if they are interfering with your life regularly, then it may be time to regroup—it may be time to refocus. I don’t know about you, but I sure would rather smile than cry when I reflect on the past. It can definitely take a bit of effort, but making these shifts are well worth it in the long run!
That’s it—that’s all I got for ya!
P.S.-If that doesn’t help, tapping will!! To learn more about tapping, and all the things it can help with, leave me a comment with a question, or check out thetappingsolution.com or eftuniverse.com. It’s AMAAAAAAAAZING!!!!
P.S.S.-Like I said before, I’m still workin’ on this one myself, so as I understand it a little better, I’ll be sure to fill ya in on what I figure out!
I’ve discussed synchronicity a bit in the past, but for those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, I’ll give a little refresher. According to Merriam-Webster it’s, “the coincidental occurrence of events.” Google defines it as, “the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” According to Mel, it’s the universe’s way of poking you and saying, “Wake up! Pay attention! I’m trying to show you something!”
So last week during a conversation, a dear friend mentioned the Buddhist notion that enlightenment comes after suffering. A couple days later, it popped in my head, and I wrote few thoughts on the topic because I decided it would be a good blog post (which is what this post was originally going to be about). Fast forward to the beginning of this week when I saw a quote saying, “Remember, for everything you have lost, you have gained something else. Without the dark, you would never see the stars.” And then a few days later randomly (or maybe not so randomly), I stumbled upon information about a lecture being given by the brilliant Marianne Williamson called, “Suffering to Enlightenment” here in NYC—poke, poke, poke.
After the fourth synchronistic event, I surrendered and bought a ticket to the lecture because apparently this is a message I needed to hear.
I haven’t felt so inspired or spiritual for a few months now—I’ve felt a bit off balance. I sometimes worried I was losing touch with that side of myself. Concepts that have fueled me for so long just weren’t doing it for me.
Stumbling upon Marianne’s talk was exactly what I needed though. I’m so happy the universe poked me, and I payed attention. Her messages were simple, yet incredible. Spirituality is about being real and authentic, not about always “being happy.” If you don’t go through your pain, you don’t learn. Personal suffering gives us x-ray vision into the suffering of others, which leads to compassion. We are allowed to feel sad. Be gentle, expect life to be hard, but know it’s all important. Suffering allows us to become what we weren’t before. When we are present for our pain, we can be present for our joy.
With all the work I’ve done on myself and coaching others, I realized I put a hell of a lot of pressure on myself to be happy all the time. I sometimes think, I should know better, or I’m stronger than this when I’m not feelin’ so hot.
Synchronicity lead me exactly where I needed to be on Wednesday night. I felt inspired and excited and full of life. These messages were for me—and they were for you too.
While I drove home, I couldn’t stop smiling. The universe kept poking me all evening. Some notes in the random journal I grabbed that night were exactly aligned with Marianne’s messages and a conversation I had with one of my best friends earlier. A song I hadn’t heard in years that reminded me of a transformational time in my life, came on the radio. These are the types of things we need to pay attention to. The messages we need to hear are constantly around us if we open our eyes, ears and hearts!
“It would be weird if you didn’t feel that way.” It’s something I’ve said for as long as I can remember. Recently, I was complaining about something to a friend (yes, I do complain sometimes), and she repeated it to me. It made me giggle because it’s so true. I was feeling crappy because of the thoughts I was having.
In our lives, there are sometimes people who like to tell us how we should feel about things. Maybe at some point someone has told you, “You have no right to feel that way,” or “You should feel _____ about it.” In addition, we sometimes have the tendency to disregard our own feelings, tell ourselves our feelings are silly, or we should or shouldn’t feel a certain way. I’ll say it again—it would be weird if you didn’t feel that way.
You are you, and I am me, and you and I both have the right to feel what we feel no matter what—even if it doesn’t make sense to others. We can’t expect others to always agree though because they are not in our heads, and in most cases everyone’s perceptions are different. So it would be weird if anyone didn’t feel what they feel because our feelings come from our thoughts.
If someone touched a stove, and it felt hot and burned them, they most likely wouldn’t do it again. Yet, folks often find themselves thinking negative thoughts and repeating certain behaviors and then are surprised when they feel like crap. More often than not though, when it comes to situations we don’t feel great about, going in for more is not gonna yield different results.
We are accountable for our feelings. We may not agree with others’ behaviors or love every circumstance in our lives, but we feel what we feel because of our perception of those things and the choices we make.
So then next time you find yourself thinking, I can’t believe I feel this way, believe it because it would be weird if you didn’t.
So, I have this calendar of affirmations. Each day of the year has a quote, and the other day it read, “I now release all that I no longer need: things, ideas, habits, relationships. I make way for the new to come bursting forth in my life.” Well, ya know it doesn’t take much for me to reflect, so here ya go…
We all have things in our lives we could most likely do without. It may be a job, a friend, a belief, a vice, a home, or anything that no longer serves us. But, how do we know when it’s time to let go and move on?
When contemplating whether or not it’s time for a for change, I like the question, Do I feel yucky or yummy more often when it comes to the situation? When we’re being completely honest with ourselves, the answer is usually yucky–because why else would we be thinking about it?
It’s human nature to then come up with every yummy-feeling scenario, and try and convince ourselves to hold on. I mean, why would anyone voluntarily create change when change can feel so uncomfortable?! People often get stuck in their misery because in some sick and twisted way, they feel comfy there.
When our lives are filled with some sort of muck, there’s no room for the good stuff though. When there’s more yuck than yum, we lose our “umph”–we don’t thrive–we don’t shine.
It’s not always easy to let go though. We may feel attached, scared, or just used to whatever it is that we need to release–even when it doesn’t feel good. This is all normal and to be expected, and is actually beautiful because it means we care.
So how do we “let go”? What does it actually mean? Really it’s just about changing the way we think about something. We can change our thoughts to things like, I no longer need this,I want more for myself, I choose to let go, or I deserve better. When we think thoughts like these, it makes it easier to move forward and make positive changes.
If we truly wanna feel better and move on to brighter days, letting go is key. Moving forward requires making changes even if they don’t feel so great initially. This is actually a form of self-care because in the long-run when we move away from things that no longer serve us, we make space for more yum.
I’ve been chatting with folks a lot lately about mistakes and feeling regret. My senior quote in my high school yearbook was, “I’d rather regret the things I did, than the things I didn’t.” So I guess my thoughts and feelings on the subject have been somewhat consistent for many years.
I still prefer going for things in life, rather than letting fear rule me. However, now regret is not a part of my life (well, at least I try for it not to be). I believe it’s a waste since we can’t go back in time and change things. This doesn’t mean I’m thrilled with the outcome of every choice I make–but I choose to believe there are no mistakes, and that there are always lessons to be learned and growth to occur.
So what about those times in life when we choose a path that doesn’t turn out to be quite as awesome as we had initially thought it would be? We’ve all been there before. We realize something that we thought would be great, actually doesn’t feel so good. Or, a situation we find ourselves in is not what we thought we had signed up for. We don’t make decisions thinking we’re gonna end up feeling like crap. Unfortunately, life sometimes throws us curveballs. Sometimes we just can’t see clearly. Sometimes we fall into old patterns. The fantasies of what could’ve been, can quickly turn into what feels like our biggest nightmare.
When we find ourselves in that position, beating ourselves up on top of the pain we are already feeling, is just about the worst thing we can do. Thinking thoughts like This was a mistake, I wish I hadn’t done that, or What was I thinking, only makes us feel worse.
Simple examples are what happens if you overeat or overdrink. Sure, while you’re indulging it feels great, but you may find yourself left with a stomach ache or a hangover. You can feel sick, and think, Hey, that doesn’t feel so great. Maybe I won’t do that again. Lesson learned. Or you can think, I’m such an idiot–why did I do that?! and feel even worse than you already do. And all of you know what happens when we feel icky–we tend to make more decisions that don’t feel so great.
So instead of getting caught up in hating ourselves and wishing we “hadn’t done that” or “should’ve known better,” telling ourselves There are no mistakes in life often feels much better.
What if you believed there were no mistakes? What if you loved yourself through every tough time? What if you knew everything that has ever happened in your life was exactly as it should be?
Just pondering those questions brings me relief during trying times. Even when we can’t find the meaning or the lesson, just knowing one is there can bring comfort.
When dealing with issues in our lives, it’s always up to us to choose how to perceive things. Believing in mistakes is like holding onto our pain with a death grip. Rehashing the past, and wishing we had done things differently only perpetuates the suffering. Letting go, trusting, and knowing we are all just works in progress feels so much better. This allows us to move forward and make room for bigger and better things in our lives.
The other night while snuggling my almost five year old, she said to me, “Mommy, I’m very good at loving people.” I said, “Yes, you sure are! How’d you learn that?” Her reply—”I was born that way.” My heart melted.
We were all born that way actually. Unfortunately it’s all too easy for most folks to forget this inherent skill. It’s clear that it’s human nature to love. It’s not until people are knocked down a few times for them to harden—for them to learn to detach.
When we feel hurt, we may want to run away. We sometimes believe others are mean, bad, ill willed. Many go through life feeling wronged or betrayed. This often leads to some not-so-loving feelings toward others.
This doesn’t have to be so though. We can always choose love over not loving. Most people are well intended. They are doing their best. Even if someone’s best seems crappy to you, it’s still their best.
It’s always up to us to choose compassion over disdain—love over anger. Sometimes it feels easier to hate or find fault in others when we feel hurt. The truth though, is that it just creates additional unease.
This can be applied to simple things like getting cut off while driving, or much bigger things like being cut out of a relative, friend, or partner’s life. Being angry, spewing hate, or finding fault in others will never feel as good as loving someone no matter what.
We were all born to love. It’s in there somewhere, even if you’ve tucked it away deep inside to try and protect yourself. The more love we give, the more love we will receive. Sure, it can also make us feel vulnerable, but it’s so so very worth it.
I had a teacher a while back who used to ask, “So what?” while coaching. My first thought was that this was an insensitive way to approach people in turmoil, but as I began to understand it better, it became clear how impactful these two little words can be.
When feeling unsettled by a circumstance in our lives, this question draws our attention to what we are making things mean. And what we make things mean is just about always what causes our pain and suffering.
So what exactly do I mean? When we ask” So what?” the answer will show us the thoughts (opinions and judgements) that are creating our pain. We often assume those thoughts are true, but more often than not they are just stories we make up in our heads. In many cases we add meaning to things where no additional meaning is needed.
Some may call this overanalyzing. We rehash what happened or didn’t happen, and add to it. We add what we think other people’s motives may be, or we assume we know what they are thinking. We jump to conclusions.
If your husband isn’t that affectionate, do you make it mean he doesn’t love you, or your relationship is doomed? If your boss doesn’t praise you regularly, do you make it mean she doesn’t appreciate your work? If your friend doesn’t text you back immediately, do you think she’s upset with you? If someone you care about doesn’t respond to something the way you had hoped, do you make it mean he or she is disinterested in you or you did something to change the way they feel about you?
These assumptions we make don’t serve us. They are thoughts/stories we make up based on our own insecurities and concerns. Generally they come from our fears.
Not only do we do this with the people in our lives, we do it to ourselves as well. If you gain five pounds, and don’t feel great about it, you can ask, “So what?” Are you making it mean you’re disgusting? If you don’t get that job you had hoped for, “So what?” Do you make it mean you’re inadequate or a failure? The answer to the “So what” question is the thought that is creating the pain.
As I often say, just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true. Question those thoughts. Ask yourself if you are 100% sure they are true. Often they feel true, but aren’t. Try and come up with alternative thoughts that could also be true and feel better than the ones that are making you feel icky.
“So what?” It’s such a simple question, and easily shines a light on what we are really feeling uneasy about. The more we understand that it’s our thoughts that most often bring us down, the easier it becomes to not buy into the drama we create for ourselves. You got this!