We’re Engaged! An Honest And Vulnerable Look At How I Got Here

IMG_5635Walter and I got engaged!! It was a sweet moment in the Colorado mountains with a bouquet of wild daisies he had picked early in the morning, a tearful declaration of his love, and a gorgeous ring he designed himself to represent having found each other in a Universe of stars.

It was a magical moment that I will remember forever, in spite of the fact that I was mostly in shock while it was all happening and responded to his question of “Will you marry me?” with a nod rather than a “yes” because I was literally speechless (I ended up bawling two hours later when it actually hit me).

Needless to say, I’ve been on an emotional high since it happened. This relationship is unlike anything I have ever experienced. We unconditionally love each other and support each other constantly. Walter is always surprising me with little gifts, vegetables from the garden that he planted and tended, a warm hand to hold, and loving kisses. I constantly feel safe, loved, and nurtured in a way I never have before.

It took many failed relationships, heartbreaks, and disappointments to get to this point. After each heartbreak, I tried to find the learning in each one. I would love myself through each and every one and look at any false beliefs I had about love, love myself, and heal all that I could see needed healing. And yet, I still experienced men who couldn’t seem to fully love me and commit to a relationship.

It was about a year and a half ago, after a devastating heartbreak, I decided I had had enough. In meditation one day, I told Spirit, “I am done with this pattern of being rejected and abandoned by the men I love. Show me what I need to heal this.” At once, I saw myself in 5th grade. This surprised me. I asked to see more.

I looked at that 10-year-old self and she looked so sad and full of shame. I remembered that it was in 5th grade that I began to be teased for my weight. I had always been a bit of a chubby kid, but it was in 5th grade that the social pressures to be thin started to kick in. And, as pre-teens do, several began teasing me for being chubby, unathletic, and “different.” As I looked at this mental picture of myself, I could see how as a result of all of the teasing, some part of me decided that she wasn’t good enough – that she wasn’t pretty enough to be loved.

I could see clearly that at 10 years old, when I was trying to form a sense of myself and identity, the feedback I got from the peers around me was that something was wrong, I wasn’t beautiful, and I didn’t fit in. And in this culture, for women and girls, beauty is equated with worthiness. So, as a result of the teasing, some place inside of me decided that she was deeply unworthy because she wasn’t considered pretty.

This part of me had gone unhealed until that moment when I sat in meditation. However, these feeling of unworthiness had been hanging out in my unconscious for decades. Without my full conscious awareness, I had been choosing men who mirrored my feelings of unworthiness. In spite of all the healing and therapy I had done, there was still a part of me that believed she didn’t deserve the kind of love she wanted because she wasn’t pretty enough. It was like a light bulb went on.  In that moment, I could see why none of my previous relationships worked out. I didn’t fully believe I was worthy.

I worked with that 5th grade self in meditation and offering her forgiveness, and myself forgiveness, for having had to go through all of that. I loved her and helped her to see her worthiness. I showed her that her peers weren’t the arbitrators of worthiness, that she was inherently worthy (and still is) because she exists, no matter what she looks like.

After doing this work, I met Walter two months later. I finally felt worthy of the kind of man and relationship I wanted. And he came in immediately.

The more I do healing work with people, the more I see that worthiness is the core of so many of our struggles. As we feel worthy, we naturally attract great relationships, abundance, health, and career opportunities. Worthiness is the key to it all.

Where are there places inside of you that have decided you aren’t worthy of love, money, health, etc? Heal those places. If you need help, set up an appointment and we can uncover your inherent worth.

Worthiness is not something you need to do or achieve. Worthiness is already there. It just gets covered up by false beliefs and trauma.

You are completely and totally worthy, just as you are, right now.

Why Nurturing Yourself May Be the Key to Happiness

Did you know that along with food and water, the act of nurturing is one of the building blocks to a healthy brain?

I’ve recently come across some fascinating information in Joseph Chilton Pearce’s book, “The Heart-Mind Matrix” that I wish was common knowledge.  Essentially, Pearce says that the successful development of the human brain is based on nurturing. The brain forms into its most advanced and highest versions when a child is cared for and nurtured with consistency. When we are nurtured, we become the best versions of ourselves

I want to explain this a little more, so please allow me to nerd out for a moment.

A cucumber sprout soaking up warmth from the sun.
A cucumber sprout we’ve nurtured for two weeks, growing and thriving with constant care.

The human brain consists of three major sections which follow our evolution. The first part of the brain that forms is the reptilian brain. This is the part of the brain that is in charge of making sure we are safe in the world. It is purely instinctual and its number one priority is survival at all costs (think a reptile).

The second part of the brain that forms is the mammalian brain, which forms on top of the reptilian brain. The mammalian brain is responsible for allowing an individual to have emotions, memories, and a sense of connection with others (think of how mammals like to cuddle and connect).

The third part of the brain that forms on top of the other two parts is called the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for higher-order reasoning and thinking. The prefrontal cortex allows us to have self-awareness, think about what we are doing, ask questions like “why?” and to have morality. It is fundamentally the part of the brain that makes us human and capable of complex thought and higher order decisions.

Now, where it really gets juicy is that the full formation of the pre-frontal cortex can only happen when a person feels safe and nurtured. If a person isn’t feeling safe and nurtured, the reptilian brain goes into overdrive. When the reptilian brain is at full throttle, the prefrontal cortex can’t develop to its fullest form. The integration of the reptilian brain, mammalian brain, and prefrontal cortex is all dependent on feeling safe and nurtured.

What does this mean? It means can’t step into our highest potential as a logical, moral, evolved human without nurturing.

So many people who grow up in chaotic homes without proper nurturing get stuck in their reptilian brain and can only think about survival. This can lead to chronic anxiety or depression because the brain and nervous system are stuck in survival mode.  Isn’t that fascinating?

What is most incredible to me is that this information gives us clues about what we need in order to heal ourselves. If nurturing is the missing link in proper brain development, then we know what to give ourselves and others. We can seek out nurturing and loving relationships. And most importantly, we can nurture and love ourselves. This not only feels good, but helps us to create peace, calm, and integration in our brains and our bodies.

It turns out, that nurturing is a spiritual energy. It creates peace, healing, and integration in our brains and relationships.

If you want to evolve into the best version of yourself, nurture yourself.

If you want to help create a more peaceful world, nurture those around you.

Loving yourself and the world around you really is the way to create wholeness.

Ideas To Nurture Yourself:

  1. Get a massage, acupuncture, or facial
  2. Create a home environment that feels good to you – surround yourself in colors, patterns, and textures that feel good
  3. When applying lotion or body oil, really take the time to love yourself and nurture yourself with your own touch
  4. Get creative – paint, draw, sing – Express yourself!
  5. When sad or distressed, hold onto a pillow or stuffed animal
  6. Cuddle (with anyone)
  7. Cook a delicious and nurturing meal for yourself
  8. Buy yourself flowers
  9. Use essential oils that make you feel more grounded, happy, and centered
  10. Do some gentle exercise, like walking or yoga
  11. Put on some music that you love
  12. Hold your hand on your heart and just feel the warmth and love from your own hand
  13. Drink warm tea or take a hot bath – warmth is very nurturing

The Evolution of Compassion – How to Stop Trying to Save the World

“Strong boundaries are essential to loving and generosity.” – Brené Brown

 I’ve been thinking quite a bit about boundaries and compassion lately. As a watery empathic Pisces, boundaries have been something I’ve struggled with my whole life. It is easier to feel other people’s pain and merge with it than it is to separate myself and figure out my own needs and wants. Compassion has been easy, boundaries have not been. Thankfully, my professional and personal life have forced me into continuously working on my boundaries. What I have come to understand, is that boundaries are an essential aspect of compassion, generosity, and loving.

I see now that compassion is always evolving. Many spiritual traditions say that service and compassion are the highest virtues. I don’t quite agree. I have found that serving from inspiration is very different than serving from a place of self-sacrifice or a belief that we have to give ourselves up to get to God.

IMG_3138Right now, I think how we do compassion is evolving. As humans, I think we are here to move from self-centeredness to compassion and then to what I call, “compassionate wisdom.” With compassionate wisdom, we are able to really know and feel that everyone is ok just as they are and that there is a higher loving moving through all people and the universe at large. With compassionate wisdom, we begin to see that we aren’t responsible for making the planet ok. We move from needing to save people, take on their burdens, and over-sympathize to realizing that everything is ok, exactly as it is. We may still be inspired to serve, but we do so in a way that feels aligned and energizing, instead of depleting and forced.

Below, is my take on how compassion has evolved in each of us through our soul’s history.

Stage 1: The Young Soul

We come into the world being totally self-centered, young souls, here to explore and taste and learn. In the process, we end up being a bit self-centered. We don’t really know what compassion is. We are still learning about love and what it feels like. Our thoughts and actions are primarily based on our own needs and wants. We jump without thinking. We’re impulsive and ready to experience anything. Through time, and many lifetimes, we start to learn that our actions have an effect on the world around us. We see that our choices have consequences. We start to see that some of our impulsive actions bring pain and suffering to other people. This is when we start to move into the second state.

Stage 2: Waking up to Compassion

As we move into the next stage of evolution, we start to develop this thing called “compassion.” We start noticing how other people feel. We’ve been through enough experiences at this point to know what pain and suffering feel like and that other people must also experience pain. We move from being totally self-centered, to developing compassion for other people and beings. At this point in the journey, compassion meditations, and actively seeking how to learn how to have compassion for others is paramount. We develop our “compassion” muscle and move away from self-centeredness towards seeing we are all connected. For the first time, we begin to see the “other.”

Stage 3: Waking Up to Self-Compassion

In the third stage of evolution, we move from having compassion for other people and beings, to compassion for ourselves. We start to see that we deserve the compassion that we are giving other people. This begins to wake up self-love.

Stage 4: Developing Compassionate Wisdom

In the fourth stage of compassion, we move into compassion coupled with wisdom. We start to realize that yes, we can have compassion for other beings and ourselves but that we also need the important values of discernment and boundaries to go along with that compassion. Old souls have a tendency to get stuck in Stage 2 of compassion. They can see exactly why other people are acting like they are acting, and accept their poor behavior. They may choose relationships in which they unconsciously want to save another, because they can see and have compassion for that person’s wounds and struggles. The task of Stage 4, is to simultaneously have compassion for another individual, while loving yourself so much, that you hold boundaries. It is about loving another, but loving yourself and your right to life, love, and happiness more than you love anyone or anything else.

Stage 4 is about letting go of saving people and fully entering into your own space of self-love. In this stage, we can see other people’s struggles, wounding, and gifts. We offer our loving and service to them when we feel called to, but we stop sacrificing our own needs and well-being to help them along their path. We stop trying to save people and save the world. This is the task of the Old Soul: Loving yourself so much, that you are ready to release yourself from the role of “savior.” This is the highest state of compassion on the planet so far. In this stage, we develop a compassion so deep, that we let people have their struggles and stop trying to save them. We see that sometimes, people need their struggles and it is not in their best interest to have us go in and save the day.

Compassion becomes so total, that we love and accept all things exactly as they are, knowing that each one of us is completely and totally worthy and lovable exactly as we are now. This is compassionate wisdom.

Questions to Develop Compassionate Wisdom

Can you trust that the planet is ok, exactly as it is?

Can you trust that a higher loving is guiding us through everything?

Can you trust that even when things look dark, that sometimes the darkness is what delivers us into the light?

Can you trust other people to the wisdom of their soul?

Can you let go of saving the planet and drop into your loving instead?

Bruce Jenner and What It Means to be a Man

From Vanity Fair (July 2015):

Bruce Jenner was ‘always telling lies.’ Caitlyn ‘doesn’t have any lies,’ she saCaitlyn Jennerys.

 “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life,’” she told me. “’You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”

“I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.”

 “I never thought in a million years I would ever have to divulge such private, intimate feelings I’ve had all my life.”

I’m reading excerpts from Caitlyn Jenner’s interview in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair with tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my skin. She is an incredible, complex, beautiful, multi-faceted and brave woman. And what really strikes me the most, is watching this woman exemplify what it means to be a man.

Caitlyn Jenner was once Bruce Jenner, an accomplished and famous athlete. He set a world record for the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and came home with a gold medal. Bruce epitomized what being a man “should” look like. He was strong, handsome, capable, and physically powerful.

However, all the while, Bruce had a secret. He felt like, and wanted to be, a woman. For decades, Bruce kept this secret, only telling a close few. The pressure to keep this secret was so palpable, that Bruce even contemplated suicide after a 2013 TMZ report came out about his tracheal shave. So great is the shame in our society for sexual choices and preferences other than the heterosexual “norm,” that Bruce thought death was a better option than openly admitting his secret.

And yet, two years later, Caitlyn Jenner debuts herself on the cover of Vanity Fair in her full gorgeous glory.

Just for a moment, I want to thank Bruce. I want to thank him for having the courage to live his truth, in spite of the fear and shame he faced. Bruce, by living into his true identity of Caitlyn, has helped to shift what it means to be a man in this country.

I would propose that “being a man” is not necessarily being the strong, tough, guarded, emotionless, powerful and dominating character that our popular media depicts. Instead, I think that Bruce (and many many like him who are bravely but quietly living their own truths) is helping to pave the way to a new version of masculinity which is about bravely and courageously living your truth and vulnerability.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes that in her research, men reported their biggest source of shame was feeling weak, defective, criticized, and ridiculed. The star athlete transforms into a soft feminine woman. The feminine energy is the epitome of vulnerability and softness – everything the masculine fears being. For this Olympic athlete to face the shame of looking like a failure, to live his truth of living as a woman, is a tremendous act of bravery.

Bruce Jenner was a real man. He had the courage to face his greatest source of shame in front of a worldwide audience. He chose to live as a woman, in a society that still degrades and demeans women for being the lesser sex. Bruce felt all of this, and still chose to live his true identity.

Caitlyn says, “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life.”

Thank you Bruce, and Caitlyn, for helping to redefine what we think it is to be masculine. Being a man is to live your truth, in spite of the perceived shame. It is about having the courage to live in your vulnerability, and even softness. Being a man is no longer about hiding what you really feel, in order to be strong. It is about being so strong, that you can express your greatest fears and vulnerabilities. It is about realizing that bravery is not about conquering others, but living your highest truth.