Writing to Forgive

I have been spending month 3-4 of my coach training writing letters to those in my past. Key players who have had a big, mostly negative, impact on my life. This means that the majority of my letters are to my dad but I finally feel like I am starting to get somewhere with them.

I’ve had so much hatred towards my dad, I wasn’t sure if he EVER loved me or ever even cared about my existence. While writing the letters I realized that most times in my letters that I shift to an understanding perspective and I end up writing something to the effect of “I know you never meant to be malicious.

In thinking about that, I honestly believe that we are all doing our best. For the longest time, I didn’t know what that meant because how could my dad be so shitty and still be doing his best- but he WAS doing his best. He did what he knew: what he observed from his parents and using the coping skills he developed as a child.

People do what they are capable of and what they know, and (unless you’re a special kind of person) don’t do things to intentionally make your life hell. They do what they know, and sometimes it is pretty self-serving. That really sucks and hurts- but it’s true.

However, at the same time, their unintentional meanness makes us stronger. I have no doubt that as a person, I am stronger than my father. I am the one who is doing the work to break the nasty pattern of his family’s temper. I am the one who is able to acknowledge the fault in it and say “no- that’s not for me OR my family.” I am the game-changer. I am the one who is starting to break the legacy towards something better.

I’d say that’s pretty incredible and I am very proud of myself for that.

Raw Emotions

I have started the second phase of my life coach training and I absolutely love it. During this phase, I am working on making my past a story. A simple, non-charged,  it-is-what-it-is story.

One thing about emotion-based coaching that I don’t think anyone can fully prepare for, is the raw and intense emotions that you feel. In thinking about three negative things during a specific time frame in my past, I came across some old memories that I had not thought about in years. 

One memory in particular was about my father. One morning when I was 4 or 5, I had woken up and went to open the bathroom door. I saw my dad on the floor, and this smell just hit me so hard that I thought I was going to throw up. My mom rushed behind me and closed the door. She told me dad was sick and that I would have to wait to use the bathroom. He had been on a business trip so we hadn’t seen him for a few days, he was sick, alone, and sad to my young eyes. I was confused why my mom was not with him and taking care of him like she did with my brother and I. Then as I got older, I realized that he was drunk and sick with a hangover. 

Memories are a funny thing. When I recalled this memory, the smell hit me 25 years later, just as strongly as it did the day that it happened. The emotions flooded me, just like I was experiencing it right then for the first time. My main focus was to notice where I felt the emotion in my body. That turned out to be the easy part- it was right in my stomach. I felt nauseous, like there was a boulder in my stomach. I didn’t know what to do and, in a panic, contacted my Mentor. 

I was looking for a way out- a way to avoid this terrible feeling in my stomach. I wanted a way to move on and I wanted it to be a much easier way that it was. I trusted my Mentor, and with support and guidance, she had me do something that I had never done- sit with the nasty emotion. I had a choice: avoidance, which has not worked well for me so far, or acceptance. I chose to accept what was happening, accept it for what it is, and move myself through it. 

It was terrifying. The only thing I knew to do was to pray. I prayed for help, guidance, and understanding. I prayed for it to go away- and I cried..a lot. I crumpled on the floor, an emotional mess dealing with a 25-year-old wound. I felt like a child. And then something amazing happened- it passed.

I successfully passed a negative emotion from my past. I’m not going to lie- I felt like I birthed that damn thing. It was excruciating and scary but completely necessary. The next day, I was so emotionally hungover. I was vulnerable and weak. I felt as if I had duct tape inside my stomach and it was ripped off- that kind of raw emotion was ripped from my body in a miraculous way.

I feel different. I feel better. As much as I felt like I lost a part of me, I feel much more whole. This experience has helped me feel much more compassion for myself. Though it’s not always fun, I know I’m on the right path. I know I am not alone. I know there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Focus on the Positive

I’m a very goal-oriented person. I like to have an aim of what I want and where I’m going, but be open to the path to get there and the opportunities that arise on the journey. Something that has been presenting itself to me quite a bit lately (3 times yesterday alone!), is the practice of focusing on your strengths.

I’ve been really working a lot of my negative self-talk. It has helped me immensely to acknowledge that negative side and let it pass because it has no merit.  The one thing that had yet to occur to me is that it is important to merge the two ideas. What good are goals if they are focused on things that you are not good at? Even a simple shift of wording brings your goal to light with a positive focus.

For example, one of my goals that I had set was to stop snapping at my son so much. He’s a toddler and I get snippy with him more than I would like to admit. But if I change my focus to something positive and on the same topic such as, “experiencing more joy with my son,” it completely changes what I think about. I think about slowing down more and staring at that leaf or acorn with him or even taking more time to laugh with him. Instead of focusing my attention on not yelling, it is now placed on joy and the many ways it presents itself in our lives.

It’s easy to see and focus on your weaknesses. It’s easy to observe where you fall short and want to change. As you uncover your True Self, you start to see more of your strengths and the goal is to develop those strengths even more.

As the saying goes, “what you focus on, grows.” If the energy is going to be spent regardless, you might as well focus on positive things.

New Chapter

Next week, I start my Life Coach Training with You University and I am crazy excited. I realized this past September that my passion was Life Coaching and shortly after, I decided that the best training for me was through You University.

I am a very thorough researcher. After I realized where my passion was and I felt the intense fire lit from within, I googled like crazy trying to find the best, most appropriate training for me. I found many that looked good, but their underlying focus weren’t exactly what I believed. There were so many decisions that I had to make: ICF certified or not? Certification from a training program enough without being a part of the Federation? It seemed everyone had their own training and it was very overwhelming. Then the self-doubt kicked in: Will anyone ever trust me enough to hire me? Do I know what I’m doing? Are you SURE this is what you want?

After I found and completed the Life Coach intro on Udemy, I knew I was on to something, Then I talked to Maia on the phone and I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Everything about the program hit home. The beliefs were centered around many of the same beliefs that I held, the mentor was lovely, kind, and self-assured, and it felt right. That alone says a lot! 

It has felt like an extremely long road up until this point. So much thinking, wondering, and doubting that I have been doing because I had too much time to think. Usually when I make my mind up about something, I just do it. No questioning, wondering, doubting. Just full force and see how it goes. Given the option, I would have done the exact same this time. However, financial constraints prevented it. So I had to practice my patience which is not the easiest thing to do. I wondered if I would get bored with the idea of Life Coaching, and if I’d even be interested in 4 months. Interestingly enough, during this time I found myself reading articles, doing work on myself, reading books on life coaching, etc. I was just craving more information. It made all of my doubts disappear.

I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and I cannot wait to get started!

Uncertainty in Life

My life lately is in complete uncertainty. The only thing I know for sure is that change is right around the corner. I have been fighting with myself lately on my urge to control everything and have the answers and, though I have come a long way, I still have quite a ways to go. 

My husband is getting ready to graduate with his Bachelor’s degree in May. I am gearing up to start Life Coach training. That’s about all I know. I don’t know where Life Coach training will take me with my career, but I know it will fuel my passion. Sometimes I just can’t help but fantasize about it. I’m just so crazy excited about my life and it’s opportunities!

I don’t have the foggiest idea of where my family will be moving in May, how we will get there, whether my hubs makes it into a certain program that he is really wanting (which I really want to control, simply because he wants it), whether it will be easy to come back to visit my family, etc. It seems with every new job prospect, I get presented mentally with a little package of what life could be like with that job and at that location. Many of these are places I have never been before! Then we must decide whether to take it or pass. But if we pass on the opportunity, will he find another one by graduation? It’s like a complete vortex of thoughts are looming over my head, day in and day out. I’m exhausted.

When I start feeling overwhelmed by my thoughts, I go back to those things that I know to be true and also what I am grateful for. Uncertainty can be very exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Meditation is helping me separate myself from my thoughts and bring some inner peace and anytime I feel like I am having a hard time escaping “the vortex” I just remember that it’s not up to me to figure those things out.

The “how’s” are not my job to work out: they always work themselves out as long as I set the appropriate intention and desire. My job is to know my “why” and desires and to trust that what is going to happen will happen exactly as it is supposed to. No matter what happens, good or bad, it will be a great lesson for me to experience and learn so that I may grow.I have to remind myself that I am part of a much bigger picture that I cannot even begin to comprehend and that my job is to listen and watch for opportunity, and if my intuition says so- then just say yes and trust it.

The worst that could happen is that we make the wrong choice.In which case, we learn a valuable lesson and cut our losses and try again. Best case scenario is that my hubs finds a job that he is incredibly happy at and that it rises to meet his expectations, and that my Life Coaching career rises and meets my expectations. It is important not to fear my big dreams that I have, and go with the directed flow. 

My mantra until we start getting some answers: I believe. I trust. I let go. 

Visualizing the Dream

I love the new year. It’s like a breath of fresh air. 2013 was incredible and full of so many things that inspired my soul. I found my passion. I found my strength. I was reminded of my determination and how loved I am. I have spent the last few days of 2013 cleaning out old junk that is weighing me down during our annual “New Years Purge.” 

2014 is going to be even better, I feel it. I feel it deep in my core. This is a year of possibility and change for me. Not only am I starting my Life Coach training this month (eek!!! super excited!) but my husband is graduating and our lives are a whirlwind of possibility right now. I cannot wait to find out what is in store for us.

Something has been continually on my mind and presenting itself to me lately in the most random ways. Everything around me has been pressing me towards goal-setting and dreaming. I took note and  started working on a couple vision boards: one for 2014, and one for 2019 (a 5-year plan). My dreams started out small, then I figured that if I was going to dream- I might as well dream BIG. From there, they kept getting bigger and bigger. A few of the things on my vision board I didn’t even know were dreams. I just heard a whisper inside that told me to do it. The first time I heard it, I thought it was crazy and moved on. Then while doing my vision boards, I heard it again so it has made it to the list. My whisper told me “motivational speaker” and I’m not quite sure what it all means for me, but I’m open to all of my possibilities, joyfully. 

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I’m excited for 2014. I am dreaming big and I plan on blowing my own mind this year. :)

Battling my Resistance

It has been one of those days..and it’s only 10 am!

I wake up early in the morning to meditate and exercise. It is my morning me-time and I have grown to love it and truly cherish that time. Ever since I had my son, I do not get very much solitude and for the longest time I missed it. I even had resentful moments towards him when he was a baby because he was so attached to me that I couldn’t do anything. In fact, I couldn’t even lay him down in a playpen as an infant so that I could pee in peace! He had to be held at all times. He wasn’t receptive to a bouncer or swing either, it was my arms or screaming. Those were some of the hardest days I have ever had. Today he is 2 1/2 years old. I love him to death. He’s truly incredible and he has grounded and humbled me more than any solitude ever has. He taught me how to slow down and enjoy the present. Nothing is more magical than him seeing something for the first time.

For the past 2 weeks, I have not been exercising or meditating in the mornings. I’m still waking up at 5 am, but I am getting myself busy doing other things, I have been resisting my morning routine and I’m not quite sure why. The fact that I have acknowledged the resistance in the first place is a huge step. Because I’m not exercising and meditating, I do not feel as confident about myself. I am waking up, being busy but still not feeling like I am accomplishing much except adding more to my to-do list. My husband is home for the next few weeks so I have extra help with my son and that is wonderful but something is still off.

This morning, my son woke up around the time that I did so I did not get much time alone. It rubbed me wrong because he is so demanding during the day and I’ve come to rely on that morning time as my time. I felt he was invading my space. I felt upset and treated the situation like he was doing something TO me. I eventually moved on thinking that I would just get some me-time tomorrow morning. Within a few hours, my mom had texted me about something at my dad’s office. I had filled in there for them yesterday and she made me feel like I did everything wrong. Though I have battled a lot of my perfectionist tendencies, I still have quite a way to go.

That was really the final straw for me this morning. I couldn’t focus. I felt like a failure. I had negative self-talk and I was going down the list of all of my failures lately: not working out, not eating right and resisting the Christmas treats being delivered daily, not getting my me-time, not running the office right, etc. Everything I was doing was wrong. Soon, my negative spiral turned to tears and an overwhelming sense of failure. Once the tears came, the guilt and “shoulds” reared their ugly heads. My head was filled with things such as “seriously, April? This is ridiculous. You should feel happy and blessed that your son wanted to get up with you this morning and be around you. You should be happy that he trusts you and that you are his whole world. You get me-time almost every other day so you should be happy with what you do have.” blah blah blah. Over and over, I was beating myself up and I was winning.

In order to stop my out-of-control thoughts, I decided to write this blog. It has certainly helped to get my thoughts out and put some words to what I am feeling. I’m hoping some of you know can relate to the things I am talking about. I’m still trying to figure out my resistance to the exercise and meditations during my me-time. Through meditation, I found out that my ultimate fear is failure. So I’m sure it has something to do with the fear of the inability to complete my weight loss journey. I just keep telling myself it will get easier after Christmas, but I can’t do this every holiday season.

It’s time to dig deep, learn my lesson, and move past it.

Aside

Healing the Past

Throughout a lot of my life, I was hurting. My father had a terrible temper which was frightening as a child. The way he treated my mother, the person who loved my brother and I unconditionally, was disheartening. I learned self-destructive behaviors which plagued me through much of high school and college.

Growing up is difficult enough as is. Children are learning a large world with rules and expectations. Throw your parent’s adult issues in there and it’s amazing that any of us can make it to our own adulthood with an ounce of sanity after of that dysfunction.

No matter what your issues are (and we all have them), no matter how you grew up, no matter what happened in the past- it is in the past. Today is a new day and you CAN heal. You can heal yourself. Your future does not have to be a direct product of your past. Heal your past to set up your future. Acknowledge your hurt and view it from your perspective at that time, not the adult perspective that you have now. Fill yourself with love and compassion because you did the best that you could with what you had at that time. Allow yourself to feel those emotions and push past them. Your younger self needs and craves compassion for the things you endured. Show yourself self-love and acceptance so that you can set up your future for the amazing greatness that you hold within yourself.

You are not too far gone to be healed. You never are. There is always a new moment, a new sunrise, a new day to start again. Make the commitment and do the work.

You are worth it.

Chasing Happiness

I used to spend my time waiting for happiness. I would constantly put happiness off for some future event that would eventually happen. I would convince myself of things such as: “I will be happy once I get into college” or “I will be happy once I find a good guy.” Once I finally had the thing I was waiting for, I found I wasn’t happy. What I was waiting for was never the whole package so as it arrived and I was living it, I found myself still yearning for more. My mind would morph to things such as: “Now that I’ve found this good guy, I will be so happy when we get married. Now that we are married, I will be happy once we have a baby. Now that we have a child, I will be happy once he starts sleeping.” It was the real life version of the children’s book “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie…”

I always wanted more. Happiness for me was always on the horizon that I never could reach. Just as I was approaching the horizon of happiness, there was another valley waiting to be crossed. It was endless and I was exhausted. With each event’s pass, the harsh realization that I was still not as happy as I expected, pulled me into a depressive and disappointed state. To combat the feelings, I would do the “optimistic” thing and pick something else to strive for so I could be happy. See..endless.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I was chasing my shadow. I couldn’t continue to put my happiness off for a future event. History has proven that happiness doesn’t work like that. So how does it work? What can I do to be happy now?

Happiness is our right as human beings. It is not something we chase, it is something we embody. Have you ever known someone to have a lot less than you and yet they are happier than you are? It is because happiness lives inside of us and it has absolutely nothing to do with our possessions, our jobs or circumstances, or anything else. We ALL have happiness glowing inside of us, waiting to be felt and expressed. So how do we do it?

To be happy, we need to realize that we have it within ourselves and absolutely nothing can take it away. You own your happiness and I own mine. We cannot tie it to something outside of ourselves for then it becomes unstable and “out there” and reliant on things out of our control. We have to make the choice to choose happiness and guard it like the treasure that it is. We need to ground ourselves in the present moment and  appreciate all that is around us. It is through appreciation that we find happiness, the kind of happiness that lasts and enriches our lives.

Refusing to Tone it Down

“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.” ~Iyanla Vanzant 

Wow, right? I read that this morning and was totally stunned.

It’s no secret that my self-esteem was low. I wore it right on the outside with my weight. I was unhappy, uncomfortable, and feeling unworthy. I worried about everyone’s opinions. When I was younger I was strong and did not care what people thought about what I was doing. I was so positive and energetic that it was borderline annoying. Slowly but surely in college, I let people break me down. I let their being uncomfortable with my personality dictate me. So I “toned it down” and became unhappy. I started eating my emotions and my life felt completely unbalanced because I was not being true to myself.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a close friend via text about some things she is going through. She likes to create drama, it’s just her personality and that’s ok, I love her for it! We don’t get a chance to talk a lot lately and I’ve changed a lot since this past few months since I have started finding my true self again and becoming more genuine. So new me was super positive and told her to hang in there and helped her with a plan to reduce the stress and chaos. I wasn’t prepared for her reaction. She said “you’re like the movie, Meet the Robinsons. Keep Moving Forward.” Total compliment to me..I adore that movie and, in all honesty, the shoe fits. But I felt like she was mocking me. She wasn’t looking for positivity or help. She was looking for “OMG what are you going to do? You must be so stressed! Transitional times suck!” I originally chalked it up to me being sensitive, but then it made me think about a lot of things.

Things are changing. I am changing. Being positive and energetic is in my nature and it’s so easy for me. Slowly, I’m realizing that those things are really ME, my authentic self that I have let others dictate. Going against myself to “fit in” or to match the mood of others, only created extreme unhappiness, especially because there is no way you can ever please everyone. I have an empathetic heart and I followed others to dark places so they were basically not alone but I couldn’t separate myself from it so I went and stayed, too, and I let it eat at me.

Truth is: all that matters is how I feel and think of myself. Why suppress who I really am? Who benefits from that? Why follow you to other places when I can help lift you up? What do I have to gain from losing myself (other than unhappy pounds)?

She has her own issues that she needs to work through. We all do. But I refuse to “tone it down” anymore. If that means losing a friend that I’ve known for a long time that doesn’t support my authentic me, then so be it. I’m not here to make everyone else happy, though I’m not sure how support and positivity doesn’t make someone else happy, but that’s your issue. You know what you’re going to get with me regardless.

My authentic self is far too valuable to hide and if I’m not your cup of tea..then that’s ok! I want YOU to be happy as much as I want myself to be happy. We are not all meant to be compatible at all times in our lives. We all have highs and lows and I am finding myself again..and I’m not going to let her go. She’s so happy and awesome, comfortable with herself, and helpful to others. She’s not afraid of losing friends who don’t support her on her journey, can recognize (and values!) the good relationships,  and doesn’t feel the need to fill her life with toxic people who are constantly trying to whittle away her personality.

This is my authentic me. As time goes on, I imagine I’ll discover more things about myself that is true to my nature that I have repressed. You can expect me to change more but I’d rather be pushing forward than falling behind into some dark, unrecognizable hole. We need to raise our self-esteems and attract what it is that we are worthy of, which is a good, happy, healthy, and successful life. The best way I can help others is by being true to myself and letting them be true to themselves. We are all unique and the world needs each of us in our truest form to make an impact and help others. Reflect who you are so that you can attract the best for yourself.