Have you ever had the feeling that you were exactly where you needed to be? Maybe you caught that perfect sunset on the ocean, sat beside the right stranger who becomes your next partner, or read the right book that gives you your next inspiration?
It can be hard to slow down to notice these little moments, but once you start paying attention you find the more you’re in the right place at the right time. Little signs from the Universe, from God, from your Higher Power, whatever spiritual deity you subscribe to, help to show you are on the right path. Will you take time to notice?
What moment made you stop and take notice? Was there a time you knew you were on your right path? I’d love to read your comments below!
I distinctly remember when I noticed something wasn’t okay. I was sitting in a beginner’s meditation class, focusing on my breath, attempting to do a body scan. My normal pitfall, monkey brain (racing thoughts, the inability to stay present) wasn’t the issue. In an attempt to scan my body, I noticed a disconnect, an inability to feel my chest or from my navel on down. Rationally, I knew my chest, hips, pelvis and legs were in tact, but I looked down just to get a visual confirmation.
Curious to understand, I brought it up with my massage therapist. She stated that maybe my body had experienced trauma and was shut down as a result. She recommended I see psycho-somatic trauma release therapist named Jennifer, and the rest became history.
For my first appointment with Jennifer I was excited yet anxious. Going to multiple therapists before, both in my hometown and current city, and I knew it could be hit or miss. It all came down to “can I open myself up to her, allow myself to be vulnerable?”, ultimately, “Do I trust her?”
Walking into the office, I looked at her set up, her chair in one corner, my chair in the other. “Can I lay down?” I asked her.
“Absolutely!” she responded, “whatever your body needs.”
I paused and took note: whatever my body needs.
I ended up snuggled among pillows and blankets, laying on a pad on the floor.
She asked me where I wanted to start, if I had any physical traumas I wanted to unpack.
“I had a traumatic brain injury in high school,” I commented.
I began talking about my concussion that ended my promising soccer career. I gave her details of the field, what position I was playing, who I saw, what I saw right before I landed. I described feeling out of body afterwards, and how everyone mentioned that I looked drunk running around the field, running in the opposite direction, stumbling.
Taking notes, Jennifer paused and asked the simple question, “Did anyone tell you you were safe afterwards.”
Stunned by the question, I hesitated then answered with a single word: NO
Jennifer had me hold the part of my head that hit the ground, and tell it, and my body, I was safe.
Taking a deep breath in, gathering confidence, I stated “You’re safe.”
In a dizzying frenzy, the room spun out of control, I felt nauseous, I closed my eyes. Immediately, Jennifer had me open them and pick out five things in the room that were blue.
In rapid fire, I spit out, “the wall, the tapestry, the light, the vase, the bottle.” My body slowly returning to the present moment with each blue object I found.
That session ended, not before making sure I felt safe emotionally and physically after the reorientation. The rest of that week I felt pretty raw and vulnerable. I equate it to a scab being torn back open to scoop out the festering, putrid rotten insides, to then have the burning sensation from the rubbing alcohol to ensure its proper healing. Although I wanted to do nothing but hide from the world to address my wound in private, I noticed that my generalized anxiety, that heightened sense of alertness, always on edge, had dissipated.
My thoughts were clearer. I was present in the moment. Emotional triggers lessened. I could make decisions faster and with less worry. I felt… myself again.
Over the course of the year in therapy, I’ve had similar experiences where my body reoriented, or re-calibrated itself. After I sent my mom to the moon in a sound proof box (I love you mom!), my hips magically relaxed. After I turned my boundaries, that I originally described as an “open field of grass with a flowing breeze”, into a fortress with locks and motes and alligators ready to attack, the lump in my throat disappeared and I was able to state my physical and emotional boundaries more easily. Each time, I began to feel more and more present, less anxious, less depressed, less triggered. I felt I could give genuinely, from an authentic place, to my students at school, to my friends and family. I was less tired, had more vitality and my creative energy emerged.
Now I pay more attention to my body. I pay attention when it shuts down around certain people and when it feels at its best around others. I pay attention to the still, small voice of my intuition. Now after a year with Jennifer, more often than not, its a loud, decisive voice telling me what I should do or shouldn’t do.
I’m eternally thankful for Jennifer. I no longer call her my therapist but my healer. She has helped me return to my authentic self after two solid decades in hiding. I’ve recommended her to several friends, some of whom have taken my advice and called her. If you are in the Colorado Springs area, and looking for a therapist I highly and strongly recommend her. If you are outside of the Springs and looking for a form of therapy to relieve anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, or addiction, then I recommend looking into psycho-somatic trauma release.
If you are looking for resources about psycho-somatic trauma release, read Peter Levine’s books, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma and In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. Somatic Trauma Release helps relieve trauma symptoms such as anxiety, depression, OCD, ADD, addiction andothers by relieving physical tension/stored energy that haven’t been released since the original trauma occurred. By safely and properly releasing tension/energy, the somatic symptoms of trauma are greatly reduced and in some cases eventually dissipate completely.
(Editor’s Note: Jennifer Kelly is a somatic processing therapist in Colorado Springs, Co. You can inquire about therapy and book an appointment with her at her website Divine Insight . This article was written independently of Jennifer and her business, and is not intended to be an advertisement. I have her permission to publish her contact and business information, at no cost to her. It’s merely a resource for those who may be looking for a therapist in the Springs area.)
Today’s post transports me back to a time when I was still living in Philadelphia, working in Camden, New Jersey as a special education teacher, hating my life, feeling stuck. I worked a job that had little regard for a work-life balance, working ten hour days, 50 hour work weeks and bi-weekly Saturday schools. I’d come home with little to no energy to take on any personal projects of my own. My. Soul. Felt. Empty.
It was a time when I was searching for something, anything, as a sign for what was next. I got that sign in the form of the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It was the second and third pages of the Introduction that became my “sign”. Here Paulo writes about a personal calling (what you were put on earth to do, igniting enthusiasm within you) and the obstacles that one has to face in order to achieve it. But what really stood out to me was this:
“Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the later 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…”
Upon reading this, I wept uncontrollably. I was living the bearable suffering, too scared to chase my personal calling. I felt my soul being eaten away by my job and by my place in the world. Bitterness had started to creep in.
I read that on a Sunday. By Thursday of that same week, I walked into my job and resigned. It was such a quick decision I hadn’t even called my mom for fear of her talking me out of it. After I had given my letter of resignation, I called her to state my plan.
My plan: I move home for two months, backpack Australia for a few months and then head off to Colorado to start a new life. As much as I was adamant about this plan (deep down I knew it needed to be done), somehow I felt like a failure. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a special ed teacher? Maybe I wasn’t good enough to be successful at that school? Maybe I wasn’t good enough to continue with the life I was living?
NOPE. N-O, shit naw. Wanna know what ACTUALLY happened?
I FINALLY FIGURED OUT MY WORTH!
I was worthy of so much more than what I was getting out of my job and my life back in Philadelphia. That was no longer my path and I sensed it. Kudos to me, because as Paulo stated in his introduction some people never figure it out. And I’m so very thankful for the friends, family and my therapist at the time who helped me to remember my worth.
Two years after moving home for two months, backpacking Australia for four months and then moving to Colorado I can tell you I am that much closer to realizing my personal calling. I still have a few hurdles to jump, some decisions to make but I know it’ll be worth it AND that I AM WORTH IT.
So if you are living your life thinking that this current path just doesn’t feel right, but you think you’d be a failure for quitting, please know, please deeply understand and feel that you aren’t a failure. You’re coming to realize your worth. You’re starting to understand your path, your next steps in your journey, following your own personal legend.
Coelho ends the introduction of The Alchemist with this:
“But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become and instrument of God, you help the soul of the world, and you understand why you are here.”
Help the world by following your personal calling, by knowing your worth, by knowing when to walk away.
I don’t think I’m gonna climb today, I think I’ll watch my kids climb instead.
Those were the infamous words I heard myself say last Friday (6/7/19) as I got ready to head into work, the a 3 week long summer program at my charter school aimed at providing students with opportunities to try outdoor activities such as paddle boarding, hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing.
That day, my group was headed to an indoor bouldering gym, a gym I had been to many times previously, familiarized with their routes.
Getting to the gym with my group of high school students, I took one look at the ceiling route (a route I’ve attempted many times before but never completed) and said to myself, I bet I can climb that.
Rewind almost a year ago, I was climbing at Garden of the Gods, my adventure partner Tim and I were showing friends from out of town the legendary red sandstone routes. We had climbed most of the afternoon, leaving Montezuma’s Tower, an iconic Colorado climb, for the cherry to top the day’s epicness.
As we cleaned up the gear from the afternoon, I thought to myself, I think I’m done climbing for the day. Tim confided in me that he too was done climbing for the day and asked me to lead Montezuma’s Tower. “You’ve climbed it before and I’m confident in your ability to lead this route!” He confidently stated to me.
I thought about my friends from out of town and how they’d love to be on top of Montezuma’s tower, and see the view from above. I also considered Tim’s confidence and wanted to believe his words. I don’t want to let them down.
That day at the Garden, on Montezuma’s Tower, I ended up falling from 10ft off the ground unclipped. Luckily, my partner Tim caught me (and by caught me, I mean took my butt to his face) but the lasting trauma of the fall mind fucked my confidence in my ability to sport climb.
Fast forward to last Friday, looking at the ceiling route in the bouldering gym, my ego got the best of me. I bet I can climb that lead to me climbing past my previous personal best, but swinging out uncontrollably, falling and injuring my collateral ligaments in my left knee.
Both incidents involved me hearing my intuitive voice: I don’t think I’m gonna climb today…. and I think I’m done climbing for the day.
Yet in both occurrences, my ego was the victor and I rationalized my way out of listening to my body’s intuitive response: I bet I can climb that, and I don’t want to let them down.
The lesson: listen AND FOLLOW my intuition. My body knows best, even subconsciously my body knows more than what my rational brain can process. Clearly the universe gave me multiple chances to learn this lesson, and in the words of The Alchemist author Paulo Coelho, “Success is falling down 7 times but getting up 8!”
Today I read a post on IG that said “remember when you prayed to get to where you are now?”
WOAH! When I had a moment to myself, (let’s be honest, in the bathroom), I stopped to reflect, remembering exactly where I was the multiple times I had dreamt of living in Colorado.
I knew at 15 I wanted to move to Colorado after visiting family friends in Breckinridge. I wanted to move for the outdoor, active lifestyle, and to be in the presence of majestic mountains.
After college I was living in my parents’ basement. One day, I took a moment to think about moving to Colorado. I bawled, ugly cried, thinking that I could never make that move. How could I afford it? Fuck affording it! Could I even muster the courage to move?
Three years into my professional career, I was feeling stuck. One day I decided to read “The Alchemist” and three pages in, I again bawled uncontrollably. The next day I decided to quit my job, back pack Australia then head out to Colorado, to start a new life. Was I scared?? I was fucking terrified! But I knew that the hardships of leaving was going to be less than the pain of staying.
Fast forward to my first night in Colorado, I told myself I’d give it a year and then buy a house. Buy a house!? For a pickup and go when ever where ever commitment-phobe it was a huge decision. But almost a year later, I signed papers and bought my house. Was I scared?? I was terrified! (See a theme?) What if I couldn’t afford it!? (See another theme!?) Point is, where I am now, I dreamt about years ago, and here I am. What I am currently pipe dreaming about, well, I can make it happen too. I Just need a bit of persistence, hard work and the undying belief in myself and my abilities.
This past year I’ve forgotten how far I’ve come. It was great to look back today, to help motivate me for my future!
“So Why Are You Afraid of Intimate Relationships?”
Those were the words a friend asked on Sunday that have still stuck with me since spoken. The question hit me like a punch to the gut. I broke down immediately.
It was a topic my therapist had also sneakily asked when I was separating my fears, a visualization exercise to help me separate my own fears and my mother’s fears that she instilled in me growing up. I was taking stock of my fears and packing up ones that no longer served their purpose.
“Fear of intimacy?” She asked. It took a second for me process, as it wasn’t a fear I had identified on my own prior to the sorting exercise.
“Keep,” I responded, my therapist glancing at me with a smile, both of us knowing it was a short term protective measure I’d be revisiting soon.
Why the fear of intimacy? Intimacy requires a high degree of vulnerability and trust. It requires Opening myself up, all of myself, the light and the dark, to be seen and deeply understood.
Maybe my fear stems from opening up and being hurt in the past. Maybe I’m afraid because my models for intimate relationships were completely dysfunctional, whereas instead of equating intimacy to trust, compassion and respect, I equate it to abandonment, loss and rejection. Maybe I’ve felt safest keeping those I love at a distance. Maybe in order to be intimate with another I must first love and illuminate the darkest parts within me, to make peace with them.
Since Sunday I’ve been ruminating on this. Since Sunday I’ve known this is the next fear I need to tackle. Since Sunday I’ve been an emotional wreck, waiting with anticipation to unpack and process this fear in therapy.
Have you ever had an Aha moment? A moment where time stands still, when an idea, a thought, a feeling hits you square in the gut or forehead. It’s enough to make you pay attention and listen. Little did I know it at the time, but this Aha moment was enough to change my life’s path at that exact moment, forever.
It was my first day at my first teaching job at an urban charter school in Philadelphia. The staff had gathered in the auditorium of Arcadia University to listen to a motivational speaker, Marlon Smith, to inspire us as we kicked off our weeklong professional development training. I arrived early to settle into the auditorium in order to calm my nerves, as I eagerly anticipated the day’s events. As the staff arrived I carefully watched as returning staff greeted each other with hugs and handshakes, sharing jokes and stories about their summers. I looked around, hoping to see a colleague I knew who had recommended me for this job. I sat for a minute or two, by myself just observing and taking in the atmosphere, when I saw my friend. He greeted his fellow 4th grade teachers as I came up to introduce myself.
As I introduced myself, our principal got up to speak and welcome everyone to the start of the school year, and invited everyone to take a seat. Marlon was introduced to the crowd and immediately I was engaged with his enthusiasm and excitement. I eagerly took notes on how to “live a life of purpose” thinking that I could apply his ideas to my life. It couldn’t hurt, I thought. As I took notes, Marlon spoke one phrase that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. I put the pencil down, I looked up and
Don’t live your life out of fear.
WHAM! Those words slapped me across the face. I felt my entire body tingle, as I wrote those words in bold letters across my notebook. It was as if the universe knew it was exactly what I needed to hear, yet I was uncertain as to why.
As Marlon continued on, the room came back to life, the fleeting Aha moment subsided, yet its impression on me lingered. I couldn’t get the phrase out of my head. I decided to revisit it at the end of the day when I returned home.
Those seven words were what inspired me to start living my Year of No Fear. It wasn’t until about five months after hearing those words that I started using the hashtag #yearofnofear and purposefully confronting my fear through my adventures. I took up white water kayaking, started backpacking solo, traveled solo, learned to sail, among other things that once scared me. Now it’s been about three years since hearing, don’t live your life out of fear, and I’ve continued to be inspired to confront my more psychological fears. That Aha moment has had a lasting impression on my life.
Have you ever had an Aha moment? How was it presented to you? Did you listen and make changes?
Once, I was asked to write the most beautiful 4 word story and my response was
“And so it begins…”
To me, those four words symbolize optimism, hope, joy, a sense of adventure and even a sense of mystery, the very things that are the most beautiful in life. But each new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Therefor let’s go back to the very start of the beginning.
And so it ended.
Today, my life as usual ended. After months of crying, deliberating, weighing my options, talking with my therapist, and listening to my intuition, I’ve decided I’m ready to be on a different path.
Today is the day I resigned from my job. I finally saw the forest through the trees. I had been unhappy for months. I was questioning why each day I made a conscious decision to go to a place I throughly despised. It was like being in an unhealthy relationship with an emotionally abusive boyfriend. Each day I would feel like I was required to do more and more to earn admiration and respect, yet the worse I felt the more I wanted to earn respect. But as I continued to look around at the teachers that I considered to be “respectable”, their faces gave away their feelings of exhaustion and frustration. Was this what I really wanted?
Today is the day, I realized I don’t want to live in Philadelphia any longer. Deep down I knew that I wanted to leave, but what I grappled with was the idea of leaving what I’ve known, what I’ve built, and the people I’ve loved for the past 11 years.
I first remember when I started exploring the city, as a suburban kid, thinking that Philadelphia was huge and magnificent with all of its wonders. I was enticed by its niche neighborhoods, unique local spots, and great opportunities for arts and culture, sometimes in the most unexpected places. The grittiness of the city was apparent in the attitude of its residents, especially its sports fans and that was something I took pride in. But today, Philadelphia has lost that splendor. I desire a new destination, a place I have been longing to be ever since I was 16.
Today is the day I took control of my life, I chose to be the adventurer and not the victim. For as I long as I can remember, I’ve been making excuses for why I’m not living the life that I truly desire. Today, I’m done making excuses. What I want is to live in a place where I am truly happy, can be my best self, with all of the things I need in order to sustain my happiness. I am ready to make sacrifices, to work hard, in order to achieve my goals. And I’m finally able to say with certainty what my goals are in my next phase in my life.
And so it begins.
A new chapter of my life begins with starting with an adventure of my lifetime. Piggybacking off of my Year of No Fear, I am about to do something that I have dreamt of doing since college, but never had the balls to do. I will be living and working in another country, Australia, for six to eight months on a work holiday visa.
When my friends and family have asked me about my plan for Australia, I simply state, “My plan is not to have a plan.” I have ruminated about this for the past year, and I have decided that Australia is a chance for me to listen to my inner voice, my intuition and learn to trust and follow it with devotion. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve struggled to find and stand by my convictions. I’ve lacked confidence in my abilities and dreams and have been easily influenced and distracted by others. The past two years of my life, I’ve been on a soul searching mission, desperately trying to find my path and make the right choices to get there. Therefore, by going to Australia without a plan, I can engage in one of my deepest passions in life, traveling. I will be able to travel at my pace, on my time, without any external influences. A flexible itinerary will afford me the opportunity to be present in each moment and decide what is best in that moment. It will allow me to better understand the Soul of the World, be open to signs from the Universe directing me to my righteous path. I have found, the more open I am to opportunity, the more a plan unfolds before me without stress or effort.
And what happens after Australia? Well, that is also up in the air. I have ideas of moving out west, to Colorado, Arizona or Utah. Will I go back to teaching? I’m not sure. My career path, ultimately, is uncertain. I may also want to start settling down, thinking about a family, a house, building a more permanent life. Or my time in Australia might have the opposite effect and show me a path to build a life of traveling.What ever life has in store, I know that I want to embrace what comes next, the good, the bad, the emotionally crippling or the genuine bliss.
To go back those four beautiful words, invoking passion, inspiration, a sense of adventure, optimism, they maintain ambiguity but identify that something new is about to begin. I hope my trip to Australia does the same.