Author: mindfulnesswithmonica

Hello, beautiful souls, my name is Monica and I know pain: the agony of addiction and disordered eating and outright dysfunction. But I also know how to heal; that's why I'm here. Why we're all here, really. Jungian psychology tells us it is only when we begin to embrace our shadow that we can become whole, authentic, and fully integrated beings. I don't know about you, but I think this is some juicy, important stuff. It means that instead of eating and drinking and fucking my pain away, I can actually face it, examine it, be with it. In fact, it is only in coming to terms with our darkness that we can fully step into our light, and the lives we're born to lead. For me, change or growth of any kind can only occur after I get real honest about where I'm at and become willing to meet the pain. It is precisely in these broken, tender places that the light, my true self, begins to make itself known. The Buddhists teach us that it is only when we get in touch with life (and the mind's) inherent suffering that enlightenment can occur. I've studied Buddhism and it's message about suffering for more than 10 years now, but I've been fortunate enough to receive this message from other teachers, too, specifically those of a recovery community I've belonged to for several years now. It's also a message almost every spiritual leader that's ever existed has espoused: Get to know your own pain and you will understand the pain of the world. Be vulnerable... bold... and awake so that you may help others be this way too. All of life is cycles, an ebb and flow, and every experience only promised to change. But the goal is to be ok through all of it, despair and pleasure, without clinging to one or the other. So that's what I'll attempt to do here- in the virtual sphere- share my sorrows, as well as my joys, in an effort to know greater freedom, transparency and peace. But this isn't all about me. I want you to share too! In fact, I'm counting on it. Self-improvement is actually a "we" thing, and I seek to create a space where we can come together, whatever's going on... It's time for collective healing, guys, so let's get the magic started. “It's hard to know whether to laugh or to cry at the human predicament. Here we are with so much wisdom and tenderness, and—without even knowing it—we cover it over to protect ourselves from insecurity. Although we have the potential to experience the freedom of a butterfly, we mysteriously prefer the small and fearful cocoon of ego.” — Pema Chodron

The Wisdom of Loss + Why the Lesson’s Never What You Think

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Lack of power: this is our dilemma.

To be human is to be brought to our knees. Everyday, lives are ripped apart overnight. A divorce. That rift that never goes away. A life loss too soon. Always too soon.

And yet life goes on. People eat and sleep and bathe {albeit irregularly} and go to the super market.

How do they do it? 

First. they accept that it fucking happened. They don’t wallow in sweet denial or blame it all on the cruel gods of fate. Sure, all are part of the grief process.

But healthy healing goes further. Past denial, past anger and reactionary blame. Past the horrible, inescapable suckery of it all.

Real recovery involves understanding that whatever happened is, at its core, a part of our healing path. It may hurt like crazy (it will) but try to remain open to the experience anyway.

You don’t have to like it but don’t drink, drug or medicate it away either. The relief these measures provide will only be superficial and fleeting at best.

May as well get to work on that wound instead.

It may mean therapy, setting boundaries or even cutting someone out of your life. Remain open-hearted but cautious. It’s okay to be gentle with yourself and to say no to anything that emotionally drains you.

Your path to recovery is yours alone to walk and sometimes, we have to retreat or go within to receive the message(s) meant for our heart alone.

Along those lines, the lesson isn’t what you think it is. If it were, why would the painful thing have to happen in the first place?

Major life events don’t occur to remind us of what we already know but to introduce us to teachings we would otherwise run from… such is the nature of a loving, all-knowing and purposeful co-creator.

Furthermore, people of faith understand that something wonderful will be born of their pain.

It may begin as nothing more than a quiet whisper or restless nagging but the signs will continue to appear.

We are given the opportunity to transmute our misery by creating something good with it instead.

What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.

– Rumi

If physics taught me nothing else, it’s this: energy doesn’t die. It simply changes form.

Likewise our grief never really dissolves but transforms, turning into something beautiful and tender instead. Be it a park, a book, a charitable organization— the details don’t matter.

The point is, we get to rise above our suffering by turning it into something useful. In doing so, our burdened is lessened and we become more available to those around us.

Incidentally, this is the last and most important part of the equation.

Emotionally intelligent people share their grief. They know: if we try to carry it alone, we break. But give a bit to a friend here, a family member there, a loving God always, and in time, it doesn’t feel so heavy.

We may not always hear what we need to hear or even get a response but it’s going through the motions that matter.

I happen to think recovery (from anything) happens one loving conversation at a time.

I know it can be scary, but all the best stuff is.. besides, the alternative is repressing your every feeling and staying sick.

Remember babes, love is never lost and kindness multiples. The people that are able to turn their pain into purpose and as a means of connecting more with a loving God and her messengers; they’re the ones who are truly blessed.

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20 Quotes to Turn to When Your Ass is Falling Off

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I was pleasantly surprised to hop on my twitter page this morning and see that it’s World Mental Health Day. Unlike National Lipstick Day, this is something I can get behind.

The point of the day, I’ve learned, is to help spread awareness and end the stigma around mental illness. The hope is, the more we talk about things like depression, anxiety, ptsd and the like, the less taboo and shame that will exist, propelling more people to speak up about their own difficulties. Always a good thing in my book.

So, to celebrate this day of awareness, transparency, strength and recovery, I would like to share some quotes by some very wise spiritual leaders, teachers and authors that continually bring rays of sunshine to my world.

Like many, I have struggled with depression and anxiety since my teenage years. I have been on multiple medications, in and out of therapy, and have even entered two outpatient treatment centers— one for an eating disorder in college and another one seven years ago for alcohol abuse. I still struggle with daily anxiety, obsessive thoughts and occasional bouts of depression. I choose not to medicate— at least for the time being— but I have zero judgment of those who go that route. Sometimes, it’s absolutely vital.

But I also happen to know beneficial things like meditation, exercise and proper nutrition can be. Furthermore, I know how crucial it is that we talk to someone we can trust about our problems, trivial or life-altering as they may seem. It’s the power of connection— one soul sharing with another— that heals the biggest of hurts.

It’s one of those poetic paradoxes— the more we become willing  to touch our own pain, the less we suffer. And not only that, but  a beautiful alchemy occurs in which, suddenly, the very thing we thought would cripple us becomes our life boat.

We learn to heal ourselves, one act of honesty and self care at a time. We then transmute our suffering into a gift that we can share with others who are suffering— our friends, family and the wounded world at large.

Your story is sacred not because you achieve great things in the outer world, but because of what you have overcome on a cellular, soul level.

It’s the journey to mental health + wholeness that introduces us to our greatest selves. Our authentic selves.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, the greater your life calling or purpose, the larger the hurdles are that you will likely have to mount.

But if you can hold on the knowledge that this too shall pass and you will be better for it; if you can remember, you are not alone, not ever, not for one second; and that there’s great strength in speaking up and unparalleled grace to be found in sharing your story, well, you’re on your way to wellness, my friend.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” —Maya Angelou

“I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work and my God.” — Helen Keller

“Nothing ever goes away until has taught us what we need to know.” —Pema Chödrön

“You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.” — Iyanla Vanzant

“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love.” — Brené Brown

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” — Mary Oliver

“Things that hurt, instruct.” — Benjamin Franklin

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” —Pema Chödrön

“Storms make oaks take roots.” — Proverb

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or to accept the responsibility for changing them.” — Denis Waitley

“All change is change for the better. There is no such thing as change for the worse. Change is the process of life itself, and that process could be called by the name ‘evolution.’ And evolution moves only in one direction: forward, and toward improvement. Therefore, when change visits your life, you can be sure things are turning for the better. It may not look that way in the very moment change arrives, but if you will wait a while and have faith in the process, you will see that it is true.” — Neal Donald Walsch

“Out of difficulties grow miracles.” — Jean De La Bruyere

“… feelings like disappointment, embarassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” —Pema Chödrön

“Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” — Brené Brown

“A wound is simply saying there’s more work to be done. Do your work.” — Iyanla Vanzant

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” — Carl Jung

“Touch the hole in your life, and there flowers will bloom.” — Zen Proverb

“I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someeday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

“What makes night within us may leave stars.” — Victor Hugo

9 Signs You’re Dealing with a Narcissist

The last couple years haven’t been easy on an emotional front. I’ve broken up with two close friends and massively distanced myself from an entire group of people.

What’s behind it all? 

Well, assuming I haven’t lost my mind {and that’s debatable},  I can sum it up with one word:cleanse.

I’ve made healthy, honest relationships a priority and that means saying no to situations—and people— that exhaust me or otherwise infect me with negativity.

My energy is precious and I’ve learned to protect it. Fiercely.

I’ve also learned it’s natural for your social circle to evolve as you evolve. 

You will inevitably meet new people and forge deeper connections as your consciousness expands.

It also means you will need to let the dead weight go, or lovingly release those people who no longer deserve a spot in your life. Or we learn to relate to them in a new way.

Only you can determine who is healthy enough to keep around {with some strict boundaries in place} and who needs to go.

And believe me, I know it can be hard to know the difference.

See, us empaths, or sensitive introverts, are a magnet for manipulation. Narcissists, sociopaths, ego maniacs—they love us.

And as much as I hate to reduce anyone to labels, the point is: there’s some people you just need to stay away from. Or prepare to be perpetually pissed off and plain tired.

They will pull closer just as you tell them you need distance. Trash you behind your back after telling you how much they love you. Their words may be sweet but energy doesn’t lie.

You will know who is good for you by one simple measure: how they make you feel. Do you leave your time together feeling uplifted and loved or confused and angry?

Your gut won’t lead you astray.

The worst thing you can do is not trust it. Especially when it comes to deciding who you will devote your precious time to.

Remember, you always, always have a choice. You don’t have to be friends with someone just because they’ve been in your life since you were six or have all the dirt on you or had you in their wedding. You are free to move on from anyone or anything that is no longer serving you. Period.

In case your gut is in need of some convincing, here’s what myself {and many people with PHDs} agree are the some sure signs that you’re dealing with a narcissist.

  1. They feel better when you feel bad. And when you’re doing well, they drain your energy like an emotional vampire. No matter what’s going on in your world, you will somehow leave an exchange with a narcissist feeling far worse about it.

  2. They dominate the conversation, or force you to. Either way, it’s not an honest, balanced exchange. They’re not capable of that.

  3. They leave you feeling crazy, even if you’re not sure why. If you ever get into an argument with a narcissist or generally manipulative person, prepare  for an emotional whirlwind. By the end of the argument, you’ll forget how it started or why you bothered bringing anything up.

  4. They gaslight or somehow make you out to be the bad guy. You know those men that cheat on their girlfriends and then get pissed when their behavior is questioned; turn it around on the girl and convince her she’s being jealous, irrational and insecure? That’s gas lighting. Stay far, far away.

  5. They will guilt trip you + hold things over your head. Yet, they’re not capable of being accountable for their actions. If you do get an apology, chances are there’s an agenda attached. Similarly, they will dish it out all day but react with outrage to any perceived criticism. It’s too damaging for the fragile narcissist’s ego to admit they may be wrong or worse,imperfect!

  6. They question/judge/criticize damn near everything. When you’re in the presence of a narcissist, prepare to feel as though nothing you do is good enough. I once had an boyfriend criticize everything from my home state to the way I presented myself on social media and even my choice in music. Know that this sort of behavior, though seemingly benign at first, will only lead to deeper wounds.

  7. They will routinely put others down in order to make themselves feel better. I’ll never forget how shocked I was to witness a couple “sweet” girlfriends of mine completely tear into this complete stranger jogging down the street, mocking her hair and appearance in general. The only people who do this are people who profoundly dislike themselves.

  8. They are incapable of intimacy; it’s like they’re not there. This can be tough to understand unless you’ve been there. The surest sign of a narcissist, in my experience, is the emptiness in their eyes. These are individuals who don’t know themselves, making it impossible for them to truly connect with anyone else. Empathy is literally impossible for them, and though they may appear majorly concerned for others, it’s not compassion that fuels them but self-interest.

  9. They will say/do almost anything to project a certain image— appearance is everything to a narcissist. They are terrified of looking less than in the eyes of friends and colleagues. Oddly, they are happy to dump on close friends + family members. It’s the opinion of strangers that matters most to them.

    In case you’re freaked out and now wondering if you’re the awful narcissist you’ve been reading about, let me assure you: narcissism, like most disorders, exists on a spectrum. Meaning, you can exhibit narcissistic traits at times and still not be a clinical narcissist. It’s only cause for concern if you’re exhibiting most of these traits, most of the time.

    And hot tip: those who actually are narcissists usually have no problem being identified as such. Call it a symptom of the insanity.

    Point is, if you’re questioning and worrisome over your own status, chances are: you’renot a narcissist. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to learn. In fact, if you’re looking to find out more on the subject, I highly recommend the following resources:

YouTube: 

Lisa A. Romano, Breakthrough Life Coach Inc.

Books:

The Narcissist You Know by Joseph Burgo, PhD

Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Bebary

Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward

Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyn McBride

The Narcissistic Family: A Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment by Stephanie Pressman

Why Is It Always About You?  The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss

Peace + whole lotta love,

Monica

The Beauty of Being Seen or Why You Should Smile at Strangers

About two months ago, my boyfriend and I got in a pretty big fight. In truth, I was fighting with myself {and he was the nearest punching bag}. After huffing and puffing down the road, I ended up at our local park— a place I often turn to for refuge in the middle of the week when my mind is busy and/or the condo noise becomes too much.

Only on this day, everyone else was at the park too. I quickly hightailed it past the pond and the bird aviary to the more secluded trail area. I didn’t think the moms with toddlers looking at ducks needed to see my tear-stained face.

Ok, I didn’t want to be seen. 

I just wanted to sit near the creek and the trees, still naked from winter, and just be by my miserable self. Except even the bugs weren’t content on leaving me be. I reluctantly arose after about 15 minutes and headed back toward civilization.

On the way back, I saw a boy with chubby fingers and sandy colored hair, squeezing his mom’s hand as they walked down the sloped trail access area. Though we were the only people within eyesight, I was going to walk by, blubbering head down and not acknowledge them.

I like to have space when I’m out with family, I reasoned. It’s not rude, it’s actually the polite, respectable thing to do. There’s too much artificial sentiment in our society.. and then suddenly, right there in the middle of my rationalizations, the sweetest, high pitched “hi” interrupted it all.

I gave an enthusiastic “hi” back and returned to my car, crying this time for the tenderness, the heartfelt acknowledgment I received from someone I don’t know and who probably can’t even tie his shoes yet.

Kids are powerful this way.

We don’t have to say a single word or be anyone other than ourselves to feel seen and heard by them. And there’s complete acceptance of what is. They are not judging or labeling us or trying to make us feel bad about our feelings.

They can just be with us because they don’t know anything different than the magic of this moment. They aren’t regretting yesterday’s choices or escaping into fear about tomorrow.

I aspire to practice this kind of presence in my life. I don’t think there’s anything better we can gift ourselves, or the world.

So the next time you’re in a hurry or caught in your own hamster wheel of a mind, look around, and extend the next person you see a sincere, deep, from-your-soul smile. It might just turn both your days around.

Facebook Stalking, the Comparison Trap + 8 Other Things Not to Do if You Value Inner Peace

  1. Social media stalk. I happen to think Facebook is one massive social experiment gone wrong and a breeding ground for phoniness, self indulgence, and meme madness. But it’s also a necessary evil, an important business tool and a way to keep in touch with friends and family members we wouldn’t keep in touch with otherwise. But it should not be a place to investigate exes or that girl from the 8th grade who you haven’t spoken to in twenty years. I promise: nothing you find will change anything that happenedStep away from the screen and do something nice for someone.
  2. Fall into the comparison trap. This is a tough one, especially if you have a large social network and/or a history of codependency that leaves you hungry for external validation. There’s no quick fix here but limiting your time online and around other triggering people can help. Instead, spend time doing things that affirm your desires and passions. Your journey is precious precisely because it looks nothing like anyone else’s.
  3. Break your own boundaries. I’ve had to learn this one the painful way. Whether it’s a toxic family member or a work situation that you can’t keep your paws off, it’s helpful to understand your limits. For instance, if you know being around Aunt Susan for more than a couple hours makes you crazy, don’t stay for coffee and dessert! Sounds obvious but it’s easy to cave if you have a hard time saying noJust remember, you’re the one that has to live with the emotional aftermath.
  4. Excessively watch the news. Ok, I still do this one a lot, but I’m working on it. Yes, it’s important to be informed, to have a sense of what’s going on locally, as well as on a national and global level. And not just because it makes you a more enjoyable dinner guest. Having a grasp of politics and cultural events expands the mind and enriches your life, but watching the local news several times a day or being glued to your twitter feed will just make you feel bad.
  5. Be seduced by online personas. You may notice a theme emerging here. Look, I love social media as much as the next gal. It’s just that I also know how destructive it can be; the ways in which it becomes obsessive and sadistic in nature and before long, you’re an hour deep in your Instagram feed, wondering why your clothes, makeup and condo are no longer as great as you thought. Again, know your limits {I love to take at least 1-2 days off/week} and remember that your life—and worth—is not measured in likes.
  6. Spend time with people who give you the ick vibe. And by that, I mean, the people who activate that pit-in-the-stomach feeling, make your hair stand on end, or otherwise give you the creeps. One of the more important parts of trusting yourself is learning to listen to these feelings. Our body is constantly communicating truths our minds haven’t yet picked up on—don’t discount these divine signals.
  7. Try to change anyone but yourself. Just, don’t. You know the effort required to make even a small, sustained change in yourself? Well it’s ten times harder when you’re trying to force a change from the outside in. Not only will the other person resist and resent you but it won’t work. You’d be better off adjusting your perspective and then looking at what changes you may be delaying in your life.
  8. Run errands during rush hour. You know, unless it like can’t be avoided.
  9. Accept advice from people who aren’t living the kind of life you want to live. Think about it. Why would you let someone who’s never started their own business discourage you from doing so? In the same way that it’d be silly to solicit dating advice from someone who’s living a celibate life— there’s nothing wrong with the path they’ve chosen but if it’s completely foreign from your own— why seek guidance here? I’ve always found it most helpful to have a group of mentors, or various people I can consult based on the issue at hand. Options breed answers.
  10. Constantly question what’s coming next. There’s few things I know with crystal clear certainty. This is one of them: life is supposed to be lived with blind spots. If we always knew what was around the next turn, well, we might just turn around. But it also ruins the surprises. Instead, take each day and season as it comes and there’s nothing you can’t handle.

A Lesson in Pad Thai + Non-Attachment

I continue to learn the most when I least expect it. I think spirit enjoys effortlessness. 

This past Saturday, my boyfriend and I accepted a last minute invitation from a friend to check out a local Songkran, or Thai New Year Festival. Unlike the Western calendar, the Thai/Buddhist calendar coincides with the astrological calendar, {which has always made infinitely more sense to me} and the new year is celebrated over a 3-day period after Aries rises, April 13-15, as a time of unity, purification and honoring both ancestors and elders.

The celebration I attended was held at the largest Buddhist temple here in Texas, a magnificent red, white and gold structure, filled with ornate Buddhas of various sizes and heaps of fresh flowers.

The festival was packed, having been going on all day by the time we arrived around 7pm. We met up with our friend and made our way to the food.

On the way, I spotted kids with super soakers on a playground {splashing water represents purity/renewal}, a beauty pageant contestant in a lime green dress and a long row of vendors, with people happily lined up for delicious items like mangos with coconut sticky rice + papaya salad.

My guy and I settled on fish cakes and sticky rice that we ate with our hands. We were later brought a huge portion of some of the most delicious pad thai I’ve ever had. I think it was even better on the couch at home, three hours later.

The secrets to amazing pad thai, I’ve learned, include fresh, thin rice noodles & a light hand when it comes to the brown sauce {instead of the reddish, oily American version}, and oddly, no lime to garnish.

But back to the festival.

Like many of the best conversations I’ve had, I’m not really sure how it began nor the way we arrived at the subject matter we did. 

But I ended up eagerly picking the brain of my friend’s younger brother, a trained monk and formed navy member, because yeah, that exists.

Maybe I should qualify my excitement. I’ve been fascinated with Buddhism ever since taking a random* college elective some twelve years ago.

It’s the first school of thought/way of life I have found that doesn’t push itself upon you. I love the grace with which buddhism entered my life and how it continues to lure me simply by being its beautiful self.

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

— Buddha
I’ve always felt that a spiritual life should be one that feels right; one that makes sense to you on an innate level, and one that you find out of your heart’s calling, rather than one that was simply handed down to you by your ancestors. 
I’ve also felt, since childhood, that you don’t have to do anything to “deserve” salvation and that there’s no ultimate savior, save yourself. Buddhism espouses these same ideas.
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
— Buddha
It’s hard to use a spiritual system as a crutch when it asks for personal responsibility and mindfulness in every area of our lives. In Buddhism, you don’t get to go to church/temple once a week and act like an asshole the other 6 days of the week. Instead, you are asked to be rigorous in where you direct your attention, non judgmental and to practice loving kindness in your daily life. In fact, the Dali Lama is infamous for saying, “Kindness is my religion.” How beautiful is that?

And perhaps because there’s so much hypocrisy in religion today or maybe, simply, because I detest dishonesty, I admire the straightforwardness of The Four Noble Truths and the elegant simplicity of The Eightfold Path.

But my love of Buddhism aside, I’ve been struggling a lot lately. I’ve been grappling with control and the anger thats stems from not being in control and the fear/powerlessness that underlies that. And, I don’t fucking know.

Point is, I’ve been walking around with a clenched fist for a while now and a mountain of resistance. I can’t even meditate. 

Which is why I relished Saturday’s talk.

I was reminded that when we’re attached— whether it be in joy or sorrow— suffering is inevitable. 

Why? Because attachment is what brings suffering, not the emotion or experience itself.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

My anger? Not the problem. The indulging in it and scrutinizing it and assigning it an elaborate story line and attaching blame and ultimately, acting out on it— that’s the problem.

The point is not to overcome our anger, nor wallow in it. But to simply look at it. Be with it. 

The more we learn to engage our emotions, the less power they tend to hold over us. We realize it’s simply one small part of a never-ending stream of consciousness.

Why latch onto something so minuscule? 

I’m not encouraging you to discount your emotions—that would be blasphemous for an empath like myself— but I am reminding you to not become so attached to them.

Recovery, and life itself I would argue, is a process of integrating all aspects of our selves, and alienating yourself from your feelings is emotional suicide. 

But it’s mental masturbation to talk about your problems all the freakin’ time or to bitch about the crap you can’t change.

It would be far healthier to meditate or take a long walk, several deep breaths and remind ourselves: this isn’t forever and it isn’t fatal. 

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

The pain stems from not letting there be room for all of it: the dear friends + douche bags, the vibrant flower and the dirt it grows in.

Our soul knows no distinction because it came here to experience it all. So long as our heart is opening, we are doing the work we came here to do.

But you can be sure: if you’re feeling scared, small or otherwise constricted, that’s ego. It’s only a temporary construct of the mind but I know how real it can feel!

Just remember, on a non-cellular level, all is well. The soul is born knowing the grace of surrender, which is often nothing more than being able to say, this too, I allow.

So for any one else out there, walking around with a belly full of fear/anger/whatever, let me also remind you for the millionth time: this too shall pass. 

That’s the real beauty of any experience: it’s destined to change. We can’t escape the heartbreaking, beautiful impermanence.

We might as well forgive quickly, eat delicious pad thai and splash water on one another while we can.

The Real Secret to Growing Up

If you’re lying and scheming and bending the truth to your liking,

If you’re unable to sit alone with yourself, no numbing and no distracting,

If you’re manipulative and passive agressive,

If you can’t say “I’m hurt” or “I’m sorry,”

If you think life is happening to you,

If you believe your suffering is special,

If you’re chronically skirting responsibilities, at home or in the workplace,

If you refuse to be of service, in some way, for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do,

If your ego’s too big for you to ask for help,

If you’re waiting to be rescued,

If you’re still plagued by jealousy and petty resentments,

If you’re constantly throwing yourself a pity party,

If you’re withholding affection,

If you’re more concerned with appearances than authenticity,

If you’re an asshole in traffic,

If you’re faking intimacy and feigning vulnerability,

If you call people names,

If you judge others mercilessly,

If you can’t stand your job and have no plans to leave,

If you try to control those you love,

If you’re unwilling to accept your fellow man, whatever his skin color, religion, income, country of origin, or sexual orientation,

If you’re harboring hatred or inflicting violence,

If you’re not actively trying to do your teensy part to make this planet a better place,

Don’t call what you do adulthood. 

“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.”

— Maya Angelou

I love, love, love this quote. It sums up whats wrong with our society. Too many people graduate, get married, have kids and think they’re grown up. But they don’t ever really stop to look at themselves, to do the real work of getting intimate with their deepest wounds. And honoring the desires of their true selves. The healing work. The work our souls are here to do.

Naturally, these same individuals are tired, restless, unsure of themselves and aching for something more.

The answer is always more awareness. Followed by loveAnd still more awareness. There’s no magical arriving point, but at least when you’re pursuing emotional wholeness, instead of simply keeping up with the jones’s, you’ll begin to know real happiness.

DIY Turmeric + Coconut Oil Toothpaste

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A few years’ back, I began to get disciplined about ridding my home— and more and more, my personal care items— of any and all toxic chemicals. Things like DEA, sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and artificial colors + fragrances are no longer welcome in my life.

And when  it comes to toothpaste, I’m all the more rigorous. I can’t stand fluoride in any capacity, but I also don’t want to see glycerin or hydrated silica, things you’ll commonly find even in “natural” toothpastes.

It’s not to say you can’t trust anything in stores. I personally love Desert Essence toothpastes, particularly the Tea Tree Oil and Neem variety. Speaking of neem, I also regularly use Theraneem Neem Tooth & Gum Powder. It contains probiotics + vitamin D and I’ve found it’s great for keeping gingivitis at bay.

But the oral care product I’m loving most right now?

turmeric2

My 3-ingredient DIY toothpaste with baking soda, coconut oil and turmeric powder.

I use to make a similar one, only it contained peppermint essential oil and no turmeric. And I supposed you could use the peppermint oil in this one if you like,  but I don’t think it’s necessary.

I actually prefer the natural coconut taste {and surprisingly, the turmeric doesn’t add much in the way of taste, just color!} Your sink will wash away clean but I can’t promise the same for your toothbrush.

Now, I imagine you’re familiar with the benefits of coconut oil but why put turmeric in your toothpaste?

turmeric3

Well, for a lot of the same reasons you drink it in a tea or sprinkle it in your curry.  Not only is it a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it may even help heal cavities and prevent oral cancer.

I’ll rinse yellow for that!

Here’s what else it may offer you: whiter teeth, better breath, reduced tarter + plaque, decreased gum inflammation/bleeding and associated pain.

That’s a whole lot of health benefits in one unassuming little spice! I only hope I’ve convinced you to try it in your toothpaste— your pearly whites will thank you for it.

turmeric1

Ingredients:
— 1/2 organic virgin coconut oil
— 3 Tbsp baking soda
— 1 tsp organic turmeric
Directions:
Mix ingredients in a small, airtight jar, such as a mini mason jar, and use as desired. Refill as needed. Rinse brush thoroughly after use. And again, exercise caution around towels and any porous surface; turmeric is a wonderful ingredient but it will stain!

11 Quotes that Celebrate Everyday Girl Power

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I love International Women’s Day because for at least one day, women are celebrated for the earth altering, heart molding, immensely powerful, loving, creative beings that we are all the freakin’ time.

As for the rest of the year, we have some work to do. Yes, equal pay, paid maternity leave and reproductive rights, I’m talking ’bout you.

And that’s just here in America. Girls and women around the world, particularly in the middle East and Southeast Asia, have even larger barriers to mount.

Even still, I’m proud of the progress being made and I remain tremendously grateful for all those bold women who have come before. The women who were brave enough to speak out before social media gave everyone an outlet, fighting to secure the rights I sometimes take for granted today.

I also want to honor the gals throughout the world simply showing up for their lives on the daily— creating businesses, running boardrooms and families alike, spreading love, light and wisdom the way only the enlightened woman can…

Today I celebrate the profound lives and lessons of 11 ladies, past and present, who continue to influence me most.

Oh and Happy International Women’s Day! I ♥ and appreciate you all!

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”

— Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

— Maya Angelou

“When I’m trusting and being myself as fully as possible, everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.”

— Shakti Gawain, Living in the Light

“When a woman rises up in glory, her energy is magnetic and her sense of possibility contagious.”

— Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth

“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

— Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

“I tell you this true story just to prove that I can. That my frailty has not yet reached a point at which I can no longer tell a true story.”

— Joan Didion, Blue Nights

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

— Mother Theresa

“Each moment of each day in our lives is a valuable turning point—an important part of our spiritual growth, an important scene in the movie of our lives. Each feeling is important: boredom, fear, hate, love, despair, excitement. Each action we take has value: an act of love, an act of healing. Each word we speak, each word we hear, each scene we allow ourselves to see, and each scenario we participate in changes us. Trust and value each moment of your life. Let it be important. It is a turning point. It is a spiritual experience.”

— Melodie Beattie, Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it—I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than depression and I am braver than loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”

— Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“Act, and God will act.”

— Joan of Arc

Necessary Surrender or What Losing a Year’s Worth of Work Has Taught Me About Acceptance

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Is if just me or is surrender often portrayed as a beautiful, almost poetic process? There’s images of still water and fluffy clouds and serene, smiling faces.

I call bullshit.

While surrender, and its counterpart, acceptance, is certainly necessary for this peaceful portrait, what you don’t see is everything that led up to it— the unshakeable pain that set the whole process into motion.

The illness. Addiction. Job loss. Break-up. Or, in this case, the eradication of 63 blog posts.

See, I’m not exactly what you call tech savvy, or even someone who practices common sense, it seems. I saved a mere two blog posts and zero recipes I wrote and published on my blog between Feb 2015 and Feb 2016. Thus, when my domain expired last month, all my files went buh-bye too.

So, please, precious readers and fellow creatives, always back up your work!

Oddly enough, I haven’t been too fazed by the whole thing. I guess I know on some level it needed to happen, and I’ve  just busied myself building anew {and better than before}!

But I’m also reminded how much better I am at accepting the big stuff and how pitifully I deal with what I call the daily gnats— constant traffic and excessive noise at my condo and my boyfriend not loading the dishwasher right.

Sounds silly, but this is the stuff that really gets under my skin. I guess it’s easier to let go of the stuff I know I can’t change. You know, death and taxes, or necessary surrender stuff.

And the rest of it? Well, in voicing my frustration, I’m actually moving toward solution.

Here’s a little secret: reclaiming our power is often seen as bitching. 

When I bemoan the traffic, I’m also reminding myself: you don’t have to live like thisYou can move to a smaller town instead of living a mere mile away from the most heavily travelled highway in the country!

Same goes with the noise factor. It’s a reminder that condo living no longer works for me. And it helps me determine the kind of home I do want— a cozy cottage in the woods or near the water with no neighbors, please!

As for the dishes, well, that’s probably something I should let go.

Which brings me to my next point: it’s crucial to understand what we can change and what we can’t. Or we may just drive ourselves bonkers.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
The Serenity Prayer

I find that last part— the wisdom to know the difference— gets easier the more we practice deep listening.

Our job is to never ignore or discount the signs.

Those of us on the spiritual path understand: when the student is ready, the teacher appears. And the more we seek, the more we see, the teacher is everywhere.

Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath.

Every moment is the guru.

Charlotte Joko Beck

It can be annoying truth to swallow, but absolutely nothing on this earth happens by accident. It’s all deliberate and it’s all for our greater good.

So yes, even as I gripe about my living situation, I know, it’s also teaching me about patience, sacrifice and delayed gratification.

In other words, it’s not happening to torture me but to stretch the bounds of who I am. 

Same goes for all the annoying shit in your life.

Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.

Jackson Kiddard

Life is a dance between acceptance and empowered action,asking that we change what we can and relinquish the rest, so we may step into our greatest selves.

And that’s really what it’s about. We’re not being dealt a mean blow by the guy upstairs {punishing gods are so yesterday} and it’s not bad karma. Okay, sometime it is.

But mostly it’s just life, doing what life does. We’re not supposed to understand why five years olds get cancer or like the fact that Donald Trump may be our next president. Shit happens. And, ultimately, we only have control over our own attitude and actions.

But you know what? That’s a whole heck of a lot. I’ find, however crappy I feel, a smile goes a long way. Whether given or received, a kind gesture can completely change your day.

Of course, other times, it will be harder.

We will find ourselves fighting with the idea of change—resisting the present and not yet ready for the future.

This is where the clenched fists and the claw marks arise.

It’s how I felt right before I quit drinking and ending a toxic relationship and in the precipice of every important decision I’ve ever made to better myself. 

I was on that proverbial edge, acutely aware that one way of life had to die before another could be born.

And that’s how it works, every damn time.

Unfortunately, the greater our need to surrender something, the trickier it tends to be.

Our ego will fight to hold on even as our spirit knows we must let go. We may find ourselves lying and rationalizing and explaining away our agony, even as we choose it again.

Yes, the mind can be dangerous place, but our bodies can be our greatest allies here.

The signs that we need to surrender something {or someone} become increasingly obvious with time. And the more we try to ignore or suppress them, the more flagrant they become, until we reach a point where the denial is just too painful to stomach.

Our solar plexus literally cries out to us in hunger pangs and waves of nausea.

Or we may develop chronic pain. A new addiction. Whatever it is, it’s ultimately a cry for our own loving attention.

Remember babes: the body always knows.

We can heed the message early or we can suffer needlessly, the choice is ours.

I’ve done both.

These days, I try to surrender, or relinquish control, bit by bit, when it becomes clear I’ve outgrown whatever it is.

And have no doubt— this is an absolutely necessary and natural process.

All of life is change. Progress. Evolution. The expansion of our souls.

Surrender is the force that makes it all possible. The beast that keeps the wheels churning.

We might as well get cozy with it. Even if it means starting from scratch, again.

I’m curious, how do you handle acceptance/surrender? What have you learned?

Let me know in the comments below!