Wednesday Wisdom: Walking Away— It’s Not Selfish, It’s Self Love!

I wrote this post about waking away from my teaching job in Camden, NJ in 2016, a year ago. Little did I know I’d be finding myself in a similar situation, walking away from renewing my teaching contract a few days ago. BUT the motives behind leaving both jobs are the same.

I’m coming on almost two years on an important anniversary, the day in which I left my job and my life as I knew it, throwing myself into the unknown to go on a soul searching adventure half way across the globe. Reflecting on the last two years of my life, there are a few life lessons I’ve learned that I think are worth sharing, and one in particular, learning when to walk away.

Let me set the scene of my reality one year ago:  Six months prior I lost my father. Although I subconsciously knew he didn’t have much time left (several months before his death I had a “feeling” I needed to repair our complicated relationship), the loss was sudden. Still dealing with unresolved grief from his passing, and feeling stuck at a job that perpetuated my already intrinsic belief, I am not enough, I had breakdowns during my morning commute daily. Feeling utterly lost, my passion and satisfaction with life dwindling, my dissatisfaction consumed me. Just like anyone confronted with an existential crisis, I decided to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, hoping I’d find direction, purpose, a sign. Three pages into the prologue, the Aha! moment hit me square in the gut as I read Paulo’s words:

“Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives.”

ProLOGUE, The Alchemist

Sitting there reading Coelho’s description of the slow death of one’s soul when we do not follow our personal legend, warm tears flowed endlessly down my cheeks. I knew I was not living my personal calling, and as I read his words I became acutely aware of the crushing weight caused by the “bearable suffering” I had been tolerating for many years. In that moment, I realized I needed to take action to save my soul from its creeping fate. I shut the book, and bawled until I regained enough strength and awareness to continue reading. I read the book in two nights, the fastest I had ever read ANY book.

I started reading The Alchemist on a Sunday and by that Thursday I handed in my letter of resignation. Although I felt relief and excitement the moment I handed in my resignation, I also felt guilt, shame, embarrassment. I had this overwhelming feeling that I was a failure. I harbored what I perceived to be other people’s judgement and let that influence my self- talk. I am abandoning my colleagues. I’m not strong enough to stay. I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher. I’m a failure. I’m not good enough.

I made this decision without consulting one important person, my mother, and with good reason (love you mom!). I was most hesitant to admit to my mother that I had quit my job, without any plan for a new one.  I expected I’d get bombarded with judgement riddled questions such as, “Do you have another job lined up? How are you going to pay your bills? How are you going to get insurance?” When I did tell her, and after asking those first few questions, she also inquired “So what are you going to do now?”

Humbly, I asked if I could move home, to take some time to process my grief, learn more about self-care, and save money. Thankfully, she agreed. 

During those two months, despite doing the tough work to heal myself, my social anxiety peaked and I was caught up in a debilitating depression. My embarrassment over quitting my job affected my self -confidence which presented as awkwardness and silence in social settings. I confined myself to my mother’s house, to work on my self-healing. Ultimately though, after the two months of healing, I set myself up for success to unnerve myself and go solo backpacking around Australia, and in the end move to Colorado, the place I knew to be my home since visiting at age 15.

I learned one very valuable lesson during this time, there is no shame in walking away, or quitting something that no longer aligns with your values, your worth or your integrity. Had I stayed at my job and still be living in Philadelphia, my soul would surely be crushed by the weight of not living my life’s purpose. Therefore I’ve changed my views on quitting something midway, or walking away when it no longer resonates. It’s not selfish, it’s self love!

When the offer was on the table to renew my teaching contract a few days ago, I remembered this feeling, the crushing weight of not living my life’s purpose, and for that reason I declined to renew. I have no idea what my next move is, and yes it’s anxiety inducing, but I know I’m making space for an opportunity that is more aligned with my soul’s purpose. Here I am jumping, making the leap of faith, as I know the net will be revealed… slowly but surely!

All You Need Is Within You

Do you find yourself looking outside of yourself for love, for comfort, for validation?
Yea, you aren’t alone. We’ve become a culture of addicts: substances, porn, food, tv, sex, social media, love, people… seeking outside stimulation all in an effort to find “comfort” and regulate our emotional state.

Does gorging on pizza make you feel better after a stressful day? Sure, its an immediate, temporary reprieve from the chaos within. But what does it do to your long term physical and emotional health? Does having multiple one night stands help to fill the void deep inside? It’s true, having sex is instant gratification, but it doesn’t come close to the true intimacy and connection you’re relentlessly searching for?

What if instead of looking outside yourself for love, comfort, connection and validation, you looked within? When you feel the yearning to get external validation, that gold star or pat on the back, go ahead and give it to yourself. If you are restlessly looking for love and connection with another, love yourself first.

What you seek on the outside, your soul is asking you to cultivate from within. You hold the power inside yourself. Stop giving it away freely. You are your own teacher, healer, lover, friend.

What are you seeking outside of yourself? What do you need to carefully cultivate from within? I’m focusing on cultivating a self-love so deep, no rejection, or hurt can demoralize me. Feel free to share your thoughts below in the comment section. If this post resonates with you or makes you think of a friend, feel free to share!

Ask This Question Before You Make a Decision…

“How would I describe my relationship with my Higher Self?”

Sitting in bed, snuggled in my lavender colored blankets, I read the journal prompt in Catherine Solange’s The Road to Intimacy Beyond Codependence and sat there stymied. Relationship? Non-existent. I gaffed.

In all honesty, though, I consider myself pretty lucky. For most of my life I’ve been in tune with my Higher Power (I called it my intuition). She’s kept in contact through different modalities. Sometimes she’s a still, small voice, like the one you hear in the movie Eat, Pray, Love when Julia Robert’s character, Liz, is on the bathroom floor crying and you hear a voice whisper “Go back to bed Liz”. Most of the time, she comes through as an overall sense of “knowing” and most recently she got through to me in a flash vision of a car accident, two stop lights before I totaled my Subaru. Startling to say the least.

Despite my Higher Power’s best efforts to keep me in line, I’ll admit I’m fucking stubborn. I’m well aware of my personality flaw: I buck the system, stick it to the man, disregard orders, typically do the opposite of what I’m told out of spite. My unwillingness to listen/trust my intuition has not been without headaches and misfortunes, some situations having a lasting impact from the resulting trauma.

 Laying there, reading that question again, I pondered, Relationship? 

I wasn’t wrong in thinking that my relationship with my Higher Self is non-existent. A relationship, I argue, requires a back-and-forth, give-and-take, between two entities. For 30+ years I have been the passive receiver, only hearing, knowing or seeing messages from my Higher Power. 

So like I can talk to her? About anything? That’s when my epiphany happened!

What if she was my personal consultant? What if I conferred with her before every decision to see if I have her approval?

Had I used my Higher Power as my personal consultant in my 33 years, my life would be COMPLETELY different! She’d have steered away from toxic relationships, situations and places of work. I wouldn’t have sexual, emotional or physical trauma to have to work through. My therapist, Jennifer, would be making a lot less money! 😉

I know I can’t rewind the clock (cue Cher: “If I could turn back time…“). I also realize that my past has made me the resilient, empathetic person I am today, therefor I’m looking to the future. From this day forward I’ll start asking my Higher Self, “Is this in alignment with who I am?” and watch how my life changes. From here on out, I’ll be divinely guided.

Do you have a relationship with your Higher Self? Do you talk to her/him or does he/she contact you? What would you ask your Higher Self? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below.

Fall In Love With the Process, Not the Results

The start of the new year brings with it New Year’s resolutions, intentions of creating life changes within the next 365 days. Yet according to U.S. News & World Report, about 80 percent of people will fail to attain their resolution, most quitting around mid-February.

There are a host of reasons as to why some give up their resolve, from lack of discipline, lack of clarity, or the lack of belief of achieving said goals. But I argue, maybe it’s the way we look at resolutions, glorifying the end result, not the process.

In reality, who really enjoys the process? It’s difficult to get excited about heading to the gym for a strenuous workout and sticking to the routine for an entire year. It’s a challenge to commit to a budget day in and day out. The process is uncomfortable, mundane, repetitive, boring, a struggle. But what if this is where we can change our mindsets, to embrace the process wholeheartedly?

In the age of insta-everything, the world literally at our fingertips, its a natural impulse to want to jump straight to the end, but that isn’t where we grow and develop our character. Our character is molded in the deep trenches of the process, fighting the urge to splurge on a “treat yo’ self” milkshake, or not abandoning yourself during a grueling rep of 20 burpees at the gym. These are the successful little wins that make up the collective victory, and I argue those moments are more important for lasting success than the sweet taste of triumph conquering the resolution.

Plus end results are are fleeting. Once you hit that target weight, it’s possible and even probable that the weight comes back. After obtaining the set dollar amount in your bank account, the endorphin rush of spending that moolah dissipates almost instantly. I’ve reached summits of mountains, and without even enjoying my summit snack or the gorgeous view, I’ve decided on the next peak to conquer.

So let’s not create resolutions but create life style changes by falling in love with the process. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Get intimate with repetition and routine. Be open to the struggle. Embracing the process means accepting that mistakes and setbacks WILL happen, but how you recover from them is where strength and grit are forged. Loving the process means, you get more enjoyment out of each moment. When you fully focus on the process, the results and resolutions will come naturally.

What process are you ready to fully embrace this year? What obstacles have you come across so far? Feel free to share in the comments below!

And So, It Begins…

Nothing is as exhilarating as starting off on a brand new adventure! Roused with anticipation, a combination of nerves and enthusiasm, untarnished by failures or mistakes, it’s an idea in its purest form. With any new adventure there are inevitable unknowns that prompt cautious excitement as your mind attempts to fill in the blanks, an evolutionary physiological response to anticipate what lies ahead. The suspense, it’s what ignites the flight of butterflies in your stomach, your heart to race, your breath to become shallow, terrified yet fixed on the heightened state of arousal.

Often though, long before the adrenaline high of a new adventure, one must mourn the loss and grieve the death of the past self. It’s the natural duality of beginnings, they are prefaced by an inevitable conclusion, at times sneakily disguised as painful endings. Could that be why we are scared of change?

Yes, letting go can be painful, especially when we are clenching tightly to a life that no longer serves us. But letting go can also be gloriously invigorating, as if diving bare ass naked, head first into a polar plunge.

Whether you are stimulated with excitement or you’re still learning to gracefully release with gratitude, I invite you to embrace that which lies ahead of you with enthusiasm and courage. Now’s the time to proceed with curiosity and wonder. Here’s to a new year, a new decade, and all of the unknowns that you’re sure to encounter.

Happy New Year! May 2020 bring you bountiful blessings beyond your wildest expectations.

And so, it begins