Vacations are meant to recharge us. We plan a specific time away, with specific people to relax, rest, and have a little fun. Most of us allow one or two weeks annually to escape our obligations for what we actually want and need daily - peace and harmony. So, we plan, pack, and set off for reprieve all the while knowing our life and all of its chaos will be there waiting when we return with a sunburned nose and sand in our luggage. We want a life we love, but we live a life we tolerate instead
Why is it that we believe we cannot have peace and harmony as part of our everyday lives? Moreover, when did we decide we deserve less than that? We grabbed this belief because someone handed it to us. Like a massive boulder, we assumed we had to hold on to it. We complain about how heavy it is to our co-workers as we book our flights for vacation twice a year. We have never considered trading it in for a better way or even questioned why we grabbed it in the first place! We have believed the old lie, and we have built our lives in support of it. I wanted something different, and I set out to create it since no one else knew how - not even Google.
Two years ago, when I became a professional coach, I set a huge goal for myself, which at the time seemed completely and utterly out of reach. The goal: to create a life I didn't need a vacation from, a life where I didn't feel like escaping everything and everyone.
At that time, I was in a very abusive relationship, and around me, all I could see was toxic drama and disappointment. I had no idea how to change it, and each day was more painful than the last. I was drowning and the boulder I was carrying made it impossible to float. Part of the reason I became a coach was my passion for helping others create a life they love. Isn't it always true what they say, "the mechanic's car is usually broken down!" My life was screaming for a significant change, and this vision became my inspiration.
I have helped many people change their lives for the better. I had become a certified yoga teacher, learned quantum healing techniques, and had even gathered quite a long list of students and clients - all creating a life they loved, with my guidance and support. It would make perfect sense that the Universe would require me to do this for my own experience, and I was ready.
However, life on the inside for me was hitting rock bottom. I didn't shy away from this at all; in fact, I often shared my painful experiences in my teachings. It wasn't that I lived a double life as much as I had to master this lesson for myself to become crucially aligned in my work. My personal life would need a deep detox and total overhaul for my life's purpose to reach its fullest potential. Now, I show others how to create a life they love, including the masterful integration of their personal and professional lives.
My personal life would need a deep detox and total overhaul for my life's purpose to reach its fullest potential.
I left my abusive marriage. I started over and put into place firm boundaries regarding whom and what I allowed into my new creation. Ultimately, this also meant ending a very toxic relationship with my mother, as well. As a mother of two children myself, I became resolute in my decisions regarding how we spent our time at home. For me, creating a life I loved included the following new guidelines and boundaries:
•Toxic people out - even relatives if necessary
•Less doing and more being
•Create fun (and functional) spiritual practices
•Guard your vision with fortitude
•Filter what doesn't fit your vision
•Let go of your old life - completely
•Trade victimhood for victory (and accountability) in every area
Creating a life you love sounds flowery, but taking action is anything but an easy process. There have been plenty of nights I have cried myself to sleep shedding the layers of my old self and coming to terms with the fact I had created a life I hated before I could create one I loved. Rebuilding my personal life and maintaining professional integrity (while being a single mother of two!) has been incredibly humbling, painful, and downright draining. So, why do I recommend it?
Because the alternative is far worse, and mere existence is a choice. A choice I would no longer tolerate. A life of peace and harmony was what I wanted and moreover what my children and I deserved. Through very specific choices, I chose to create a life I didn't need to vacate. It's glorious, and even the bumps in the road are far less treacherous.
My personal space is my sanctuary. My life is quite simple and drama-free. I am happier than I have ever been before. I don't 'need' a vacation from life because as my own life became more aligned with my professional mission, opportunities came rushing in to match this frequency. Now, I travel often (to incredible places) co-leading retreats and personal growth trainings to help others create this for themselves. Loving, empowering, and honest people surround me. I no longer feel any desire to escape, and I can honestly say - this is living. By embracing and claiming what I wanted, and doing the work, I changed everything.
Do not wait to claim what you want. Tell yourself the truth and see who stands next to you as you pursue it with all your heart. Those are your people, love them, thank them. As I look back, the only thing I question was why I didn't do it sooner. However, my answer to that is simple, each lesson had its unique timeline, and only when I had graduated one, I became prepared for the next. Divine timing and truth brought me to one hell of a fork in the road, and as the poem goes, I took the path less traveled, which has made all the difference. Living a life you truly love isn't out of reach unless you keep choosing to live a life you tolerate. Choose wisely.
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I have often heard the saying, "You were probably too young to remember this, but . . ." I can honestly say that I can recall quite a bit from my childhood even though I can't seem to recall what I had for breakfast yesterday. I remember a lot, including some things that I wish were fuzzy.
I know this sounds strange, but I remember my dad leaving. I was barely two years old, so obviously I was at an age when I could not fully comprehend what I was experiencing at the time, but I already knew I missed my dad and I wanted him to come home. Divorce is a topic I am very familiar with, both personally and professionally. There are countless people who seek counseling in various areas of their life and to me; that is just another day at the office. However, my story hits a different type of nerve for me. It is a story that I had processed in my own therapy, but this is the first time I am sharing it with the public, so (deep breath) . . . here we go.
As I mentioned before, my dad left when I was about eighteen months old. Just as I was trying to adapt to these changes as best as a toddler could, I met my dad's new "friend" and her kids. I remember she took my hand and walked me around where she worked. I am sure a lot was going on behind the scenes between my parents, but again I was too young to put things together at the time. Fast forward to age four or five, I was introduced to a new friend: anger! Oh, and nightmares. Plenty of them. One recurring nightmare was my dad leaving me. I would wake up screaming and crying, filled with a mixture of sadness, anger, shame, and guilt. My mom would come running into my room to comfort me as I sobbed against her shoulder.
Looking back now, I realized that the word that truly defined what I was feeling was powerless. My mom decided that she needed to do everything in her power to help me. So, she went to the bookstore and found several books that were supposed to help kids deal with their parents' divorce. She would read them to me, but they often told stories of children that I could not relate to, or they were often telling me how I should feel, rather than allowing me the space to access my own feelings. It was frustrating and overwhelming.
It is fascinating how quickly we can adapt. I started to get used to going back and forth between my two homes. However, it was only for a short period of time that I felt "okay." Fast forward again to around age ten. Just as I was starting to accept all the changes including separate homes, blended families, and different sets of rules, I had to endure a long and terrifying custody battle. I felt like my parents were playing tug of war with me in the middle! The anger that I thought had disappeared came back in full force and even brought additional feelings, including shame, grief, sadness, low self-esteem, people-pleasing tendencies, just to name a few. That voice I was working so hard on developing was silenced as I decided to just say or do what I thought would please my parents as well as others. I not only lost my voice, but I lost myself.
That's when my mom introduced me to a journal. What started out as doodling tiny drawings in a lined notebook became pages and pages filled with my innermost thoughts and feelings as I got older.
I also learned some interesting techniques from my mom. She created "games" for us to play including what we called "give me the bad stuff," which is where I would think of all the different things that were bothering me, shout, "I don't like this," while bundling them up into an invisible ball, and then handing them to my mom who would then pretend to throw them out the door or window.
My mom would tell me that I am just a kid, so I did not need to hold on to all this "yucky stuff" inside. It was the first time in a while that I felt like I had a voice. It was wonderful! I would also scream into or hit my pillow as if it were a punching bag. Pretty creative stuff, right? As my mom always says, "It takes a village," and boy was she right! I lucked out by having such an amazing support system at my elementary school.
My guidance counselor established a support group for children of divorced or divorcing parents, and it truly helped to normalize what I was feeling. I was able to speak to peers my own age going through the same things, which was helpful as many of my close friends could not relate to what I was experiencing. I was given safe, nonjudgmental outlets to express myself, and little by little I felt better.
So why am I sharing my story? Well, today as a therapist, I listen to other children's stories. Divorce is definitely not pretty, but it does not have to be so ugly! Whether the parents decide to "stay together for the children" or go their separate ways, children are getting pulled into the chaos. Sometimes, children will pretend they don't know what is going on or act as if they don't care, but trust me when I say it all leaves an impact.
My book, My Parents Are Getting a Divorce . . . I Wonder What Will Happen to Me, is an interactive workbook that was created by my mother and me during the terrifying custody battle that took place between my parents. I felt it was imperative that I assist as many children as possible to help them explore and uncover their innermost thoughts and feelings regarding their parents' divorce. Within the pages of the book, children are encouraged to write and draw as well as ask questions to get in touch with what is inside that needs to be healed.