Category: Hope & Faith

How to Get Comfortable Taking Risks

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend about taking risks. She said she wasn’t a big risk taker. She also said it seemed to her like I don’t have a lot of fear. I was a little stunned by her observation. I remember saying, “Well, I feel fear. I feel fear all the time. I guess I just don’t attach to it.”

I thought about our conversation for weeks. I wondered how I learned to feel fear, but not attach to it. I thought back to my childhood and what it was like growing up with four brothers and a neighborhood full of boys. The boys were always on the go doing something “scary”. They would roam the neighborhood at night, play rough games or meet up with other kids I didn’t know. As a little girl, those things were quite scary.

Oftentimes they would offer me to come and I wouldn’t respond right away. I’d have to think about it. But during my thinking time, they’d leave, and I’d spend the next couple hours wishing I was with them. Each time the boys returned from their adventures, I would feel regret for allowing my fear to rule me. I would always wish I wasn’t so afraid and had said yes!

Growing up with boys taught me that I didn’t have the luxury to feel fear for long. My young mind learned that even if I feel fear, I must act, or I will miss an opportunity.

I learned to feel the fear and do it anyway.

So, when they asked me to partake in a “scary” activity, I started answering without hesitation. I would say yes! And the super cool part was, the event was never near as scary as my mind had conjured up. I learned my mind had built things up to be so engulfing and overpowering, I was sure I would get hurt or worse die!

I learned to get what we want out of life, to move forward, to experience big stuff, we are going to feel afraid. And our only two choices are to freeze and stop or to grab the opportunity and go.

I will disclaim if there was something I didn’t want to do (like ride my bicycle into the pool!) I didn’t do it. I’m not saying to take physical or emotional risks that can harm you. Risks that you are not equipped to handle, or your intuition is telling you is not a good idea.

What I am telling you is fear is an illusion. It’s a thought we make up in our heads designed to keep us comfortable and to keep us small.

So, when my girlfriend said I don’t look afraid, I am afraid.

I feel fear all the time, but I have learned to push through it because it’s exciting and inspiring!

It feels like I am living to full capacity!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not in the market to play small anymore.

Some of you might know that public speaking was my worst fear. So much so that I’d rather take an “F” for a project in school than to speak in front of people. I would even turn beet red when speaking in front of as little as three friends.

In June 2010, I was in my first month of coaching school. I got invited to be a guest speaker on a local morning television show. Without thinking I said yes, then I completely freaked out. No joke. The gig was weeks away and my heart was already pounding in my chest.

The day arrived, and I sat in the “green room” waiting for my segment. I watched as guest after guest shared their knowledge without skipping a beat.

The fearful thoughts rose up again.

Who I am to be here? Why is this happening? Why did I say yes?! I’m going to get this over with and hightail it out of here. No one will even know I was on the show, so they won’t have to feel embarrassed for me.

Then something magical happened. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it myself.

I loved being on that stage!

I loved it so much I skipped out of studio and raced home to watch the recording. My desire to reach and teach large audiences hit me full force! This is what I want to do! Not only did I do okay, they invited me back three more times and referred me to another local show as well!

And even though I felt the same horrific fear each time, I did it anyway!

Recently, I’ve been thinking about measures I need to take to expand my business. I was thinking about how the change required is going to take some risk. This change felt extra risky to me because I had made this same change years ago and it backfired in a big way.

But somewhere deep inside I knew this was the next best step. I also knew the thought, “this is risky” is a thought, nothing more. It is no sign of how my future will play out. It has no power over me. I also know, when I align myself with my intuition, my center and my truth everything always works out.

I also reminded myself my situation is not the same as it was the first time. The circumstances are completely different.

For example, let’s say you were cheated on in a past relationship. You were devastated and heartbroken. Then a new relationship opportunity comes along and you think, “Oh, heck no! I will never do that again because I don’t want to get cheated on again.”

My questions to you would be:

Do you know that thought is true?

Can you absolutely know it is true?

Because it happened in your history does that mean it’s going to happen in your future?

Are you closing off your life?

Are you shutting down because of a thought?

Would you be willing to take a chance if you didn’t believe that thought?

Friends, I’ve been scared. I’ve been petrified. I’ve been anxious, depressed and frozen. I believed things would never get better – that this is what life dealt me and I am basically screwed. My fearful thoughts begot more fearful thoughts creating a dreadful cycle of doom.

But I found a way out. I transcended the doom by realizing those fearful thoughts were not true. Yes, I was dealt a dreadful situation, but it did not dictate my future. I realized that I have the power (as do you) to respond to any situation from a place of fear or a place of inspiration. The choice is mine and the choice yours.

To achieve the life of our dreams, to reach those places we’re craving to reach, we must be willing to transcend our fear. We must be willing to question our fearful thoughts, reveal the truth and be willing to move through them.

Here are four powerful questions to ask yourself:

Am I allowing fear to guide me?

Am I missing out of a great opportunity because I’m afraid?

Do I want to stay imprisoned by my fearful thoughts?

The reason we are not getting what we want out of life is we believe the fearful thoughts standing in our way. We are sabotaging our own greatness, our own fun, our own passions. It’s up to us to ask ourselves: Do I want this or am I going to let another opportunity pass me by?

No person is any greater or more deserving than anyone else. We all have the same capacity for greatness. We are all divinely wired and inspired to live a full life! The difference between us is some people are willing to transcend fear and act while others are not.

Can you guys feel how much I want you to get this message?!

I know you can achieve anything you want!

I invite you today to think about a place in your life where you are holding back out of fear. Whatever the fear may be. The fear of failure? The fear of disapproval? The fear of being disliked?

Whatever fear you come up with, question it.

Question it!

Is it worth giving up the things you crave because of a thought?

Let’s live a no regrets life, friends. Let’s live knowing we ran a good race. We gave it our all. And we did not let fear stand in our way.

Here’s to feeling the fear and doing it anyway!

Check out my podcast episode On Taking Risks (iTunes Link) Don’t forget to leave an iTunes Review!

Are You Resilient and Don’t Even Know It?

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I have been called “strong” as long as I can remember; however, these remarks often perplexed me. What is it about me that appears so strong? I certainly don’t feel strong! If they only knew how afraid I was they wouldn’t be saying this at all. Inside, I am a frightened little girl waiting for the next traumatic event to befall my life. What is it about my behavior that compels people to speak this over me time and time again?

These thoughts and questions swirled in my head for decades. Always leaving me as perplexed as the time before. I just didn’t get it.

Then one day, it became clear.

By definition resiliency is:

the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness

Strong is just another word for resilient and resiliency was a definition I could identify with. Funny how a simple change in nomenclature made sense out of years of confusion.

I’ve written many articles on resiliency and each piece took on a life of its own. There are many ways to achieve resiliency just as there are many paths to God or spiritual enlightenment. But today I’m going to focus on one piece. It’s the piece that was modeled for me so distinctly by the most resilient woman I know, my mother. And that piece is:

To keep going no matter what.

No matter if it was my father’s adulterous affair, the tragic death of my brother at age 16, the illness’ and subsequent deaths of her parents, my parents’ divorce, her cancer diagnosis or her double knee replacement, she always responded the same way – with resiliency.

She kept going no… matter… what.  

I believe because resiliency was modeled so powerfully in my home, it became part of who I am. There were no words spoken to me about it, no cheerleading, it just was. This is how we handle times like this. This is how we do heavy. This is how we keep going when we are frightened, sad or shattered.

Even though I had a tremendous role model, it does not mean it came easy. Resiliency is a choice. A day to day and sometimes minute by minute choice.

The choice to rise up as a victor instead of adopting victimhood.

The choice to see the blessings in the mire instead of suffocating under its sludge.

The choice to reposition the heavy weight rather than giving up and quitting.

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This might come as a shock to some of you, but a couple years back when I was first asked to write a piece on resiliency, I had to look up the definition. Prior to that, I had no clear idea of what it really meant.

Simply by discovering the word and its definition, I was able to identify a force inside myself that I had not yet been able to label.

Resilient. I am resilient. I choose a forward path. I keep moving forward no matter what. I refuse to be anyone’s victim. A setback is not the end of my life. There is more life to live. Other’s bad choices are not a reflection of my goodness and worth. I get to choose how I view and handle my own life. This is my personal freedom and my right. Bad things are going to happen and I cannot stop them, but I can sure choose how I will respond to them and…

I will keep going no matter what!

Unfortunately, not many of us have resiliency modeled for us in our youths and even if we do, our personality may choose a different response to our situation.

What my mother didn’t speak, but probably understood was that no difficulty is forever. It passes eventually. Life is a series of events challenging us to step into our higher selves – to evolve into our richness and destiny. No “thing” out there can beat us unless we allow it.

By no means am I suggesting we emotionally bypass the pain that comes our way. That is not resiliency, it is rug sweeping and numbing. It is a grand gesture of avoidance that will only repress the pain and fear for a little while. Eventually we will have to meet it again face to face.

Resiliency is about feeling the feelings, letting them out, talking about the situation to a trusted friend, then choosing your next best step. It’s about releasing attachment to the future by funneling all your energy into the present moment knowing God is leading you one tiny step at a time.

Resiliency is to keep going no matter what.

Are You Giving Up On Your Dream Too Soon?

 

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Do you feel like you are going nowhere? That no matter how hard you work to achieve your big dream, it feels forever out of reach? I imagine you’ve even entertained the notion of giving up more often than you’d like to admit. I hear you, brothers and sisters, because I have too. There’s no shame in questioning if our dream will ever come to pass. It’s what we do after questioning that matters most.

People like you and I are seekers on a quest to live the best life we can. We work hard for our dreams and desperately desire to see them come to fruition. Waiting for our dreams to manifest can feel frustrating and often lead to diminished motivation or entertaining thoughts of quitting altogether.

But it doesn’t have to!

It’s paramount to remind ourselves during these moments of doubt, that big dreams don’t often arrive a week after we conjure them up. (At least none of mine ever have) More often than not they take longer than we’d like. We also tend to forget to recognize how far we’ve actually come. It’s important to know that much is happening behind the scenes while we wait. The gap between dreaming and achieving is for a very good reason…

We are simply being prepared.

The truth is we may not yet have the courage, skills, knowledge or confidence to support and be successful in our dream the moment we conjure it up. We may have places in us that need to advance and evolve in order to be ready for the arrival of our dream. In other words, we may have more work to do before our dream would survive and thrive with us.

The good news is – because there is always good news – the gap between our dream and its fruition is always divinely guided.

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The Universe knows exactly what we need and provides us with opportunities to hone our skills, heal our unworthy places and cultivate confidence. In the gap we are invited to stretch outside our comfort zone to become the person who is fully ready to receive and thrive within her dream’s fruition.

The wait is always purposeful!

Our dreams rarely arrive in one swift Ta-Da! Instead they tend to show up in incremental small victories leading up to the big show. These small victories are the stepping stones to our success. By tracking, measuring and celebrating each one, we shorten the gap between dreaming and receiving because it fuels our energy which creates and maintains a resilient forward trajectory!

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When you feel yourself wanting to rush through life to get “there”, remind yourself to observe how far you’ve actually come. Celebrate all you’ve acquired while journeying toward your dream. If you look close enough, you will see much has already been gained.

Hold your small victories close to your heart.

Integrate them into your spirit.

Allow them to cultivate your confidence and keep your dream alive!

Don’t wait for someone else to cheer you on. You are your own best cheerleader.

And remember, you are closer than you think!

The First Step is Always the Hardest

The first step to healing is the hardest one. It is the time we feel the most afraid.

It’s the time we have decided that we don’t want to live as we have been living, but are unsure what to do.  We feel confused because we thought we knew what we were doing, but entertain the notion that maybe we don’t.

We frighten ourselves by thinking we’ve done it all wrong and furthermore, what if there is something critically wrong with us?! We might muster up a tidbit of courage and begin to see our defeating patterns and bad choices, but it is likely followed by a Mach 2 shame-filled shudder which tempts us to retreat once again.

It is here in this dark cave of the soul that we quite possibly make the most essential decision of our lives…

Do I withdraw back into my cave of self-doubt, shame and denial or do I take one more tiny step forward?

For some, the pain of staying the same begins to outweigh the fear of change and we start leaning in a direction we’ve never leaned into before. We feel a glimmer of hope and see a speck of light in the distance.

Our interest is piqued.

Our curiosity starts to expand and we tentatively move forward.

Then out of nowhere like a whispery, gentle breeze blowing across our cheeks, we notice something has changed…

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I was in the dark cave.

I didn’t know my life was a manifestation of a hidden trunk full of self-lies, unworthy notions and false perceptions I had gained throughout my life. I didn’t know that I had taken information coming my way and spun it into a web of “Kristen sucks”.  I didn’t know I had been flying under the radar my entire life hoping someone would “see” who I truly am and give me permission to rise higher.

I was afraid to admit my mistakes and downfalls to anyone for fear they would be exploited as they had been in the past. I was already ashamed of who I was and certainly didn’t need someone else adding fuel to fire.

But the one thing I knew for sure was I couldn’t keep doing what I had always done.

It wasn’t working.

I looked high and low among my family and friends, but could not find someone to hold neutral, non-judgmental space for me through this most vulnerable time. I desperately wanted someone to guide me and encourage me while I waded through the swampy wasteland of my bad decisions and embarrassing moments.

It was difficult to take brave steps forward without someone holding my hand. I still craved approval and permission from those around me. I wanted to be a follower. I wanted desperately for someone to say, “Oh, yes! I know where you want to go. I’ve been there! Follow me!”

It didn’t happen, but the most fascinating part is…

I didn’t let it stop me.

I had determined if I wanted healing and peace bad enough, I’d have to do it alone. If I waited for someone to ride the train with me, I’d most likely still be waiting.

Then seemingly out of nowhere, I realized something else.

I really wasn’t alone – I had never been alone. I had God.

The same God I talked to as a child while riding my bike, walking to a friend’s house or belly down on my bedroom floor writing poems. The same God I turned to when I had no one else to talk to- my companion, my mentor. The same God who always has my best interest at heart and who speaks to me through intuitive whispers that never lead me astray.

And so my journey began.

I didn’t know what it would look like or how it would go. I just knew it was time to take the first, most difficult step.

As my beloved friend and soul sister, Sue Markovitch, often says, “Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.”

It’s important to remember we won’t heal our worth or attract our best life in one day.

It will take putting one foot in front of the other. It’s about viewing each new day as a brand new learning opportunity which will later morph into a brand new you.

We are not alone and we are not without guidance. The light we need to find our way is already here. It has always been here. All we have to do is invite It in and take the first step.

Dear God/Source/Universe: I am open to healing. I am open to a greater awareness and understanding of life. I am open to healing my false perceptions and disempowering ways. Please come. Please make your presence known in my life. I know you will not interfere for the law of free will, so I give you free entrance into my heart and mind. I know you know best and I’m fully open to your lead. Amen.

You have everything you need, my friend.

Let me be the one to say:

“Oh, yes! I know where you want to go. I’ve been there! Follow me!”

I believe in you.

~ Kristen

The Importance of Recognizing “Blue Sky” Moments During Your Storm

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“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Last week I began to share a story with a client I’ll call Sally. Just a few short words in, I found myself welling up with tears. My reaction shocked me a bit because the story I was telling is years old and seemingly a non-emotional one.

I quickly realized the rise of emotion was a clear indication how truly profound the experience I was about to share was for me. By putting myself back in that space, I was once again overcome by the magnitude of what had transpired.

To rewind a bit, Sally has been struggling with a serious autoimmune health issue. Her issue is one that will resolve over time, but having dealt with substantial amounts of drug side-effects, falls, hospital stays, ER visits, body trauma, massive hair loss and a vast amounts of doctors, referrals and information, it’s safe to say she is tired.

Our conversation started with Sally sharing something her husband stated a few nights ago. He said, “I am convinced we will see blue sky again”. Sally’s recall of that statement catapulted me back to the very moment I began to see the blue sky in the midst of my own storm and I shared my story.

Several years back, I went through a horrifically painful situation I refer to as “my tsunami”. It knocked me flat on my ass and left me crawling through life a shell of the person I had once been. I was petrified, hopeless, frozen and anxiety-ridden. I had set course to heal and regain my life, but the shift seemed far out of reach.

I just wanted to feel normal again. I wanted my life back.

I was desperate for a quick fix, a magic pill, an easy answer – but nothing came. I continued to trudge blindly through my storm praying for it to be over and for my life to return to status quo.

The wait seemed like forever.

Until one day…

I sang.

Yes, I sang.

I’ve always been a singer. By no means do I sound good or would I ever even attempt karaoke, but I looooove to sing. I sing everywhere, all day long no matter who is listening, what I sound like or who it embarrasses (i.e. my children).

I sing when I’m content.

During my tsunami I hadn’t uttered a note or even hummed a tune.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Until one wondrous day a small phrase escaped as barely a whisper through my lips. It was so foreign to my current disposition it actually startled me.

However, something about that moment woke me up.

For mere seconds I had caught a glimpse of my old self. The woman I thought I’d never see again. In that tiny moment my fear was gone and my heart was open.

I immediately recognized something was different, something was changing. The weight of my burden was ever so slightly beginning to lift. I was healing.

Wait a minute.

I was healing!

That moment of song was a speck of blue sky shining through my storm. It was a glimmer of hope, a clearing, a promise of something better to come.

With tears rolling down both our cheeks, Sally smiled and nodded in agreement. She understood completely.

Sally’s glimpse came in the form of Abbey Lea tomatoes.

A week prior, Sally was food shopping at the grocery store when she spotted her favorite Abbey Lea tomatoes. She was so delighted to see her beloved Abbey Lea’s back in season! As insignificant as it may sound, for a moment she felt restored to the joyful Sally she was prior to becoming sick.

For a moment the world felt right again.

If Sally had been in the physical and emotional shape she was in a short month ago, she wouldn’t have noticed the Abbey Lea’s or even cared. Truthfully, she probably wouldn’t have been well enough for a trip to the grocery store.

The sheer fact that she was at the store and able to notice, care and feel restored in that moment was a clear indication something was different, something was changing.

Slowly, but surely, Sally is healing!

It was a beautiful speck of blue sky shining through her storm. It was a glimmer of hope, a clearing, a promise of something better to come.

It’s so incredibly important to notice and celebrate the little moments when the weight of our burdens feel lifted and we return to the self we once knew so well. They may only be miniscule moments with intervals in between, but they serve a much higher purpose and deserve the recognition of hope they bring.

Our moments of blue sky are precursors for what is soon to come.

Unfortunately, they don’t mean we are completely free yet… We might still experience ups and downs on our path to recovery.

However, blue sky moments serve a very powerful purpose: Awareness – an awareness that change and healing are headed our way.

As Thich Nhat Hanh states in the quote above it is much easier to bear hardship when we believe in a better tomorrow.

When we are given a ray of hope, we must seize it, grasp it in our hands, recognize the value it holds, put it on the altar and believe in it every day!

This is the value of our blue sky moments.