Holding On, While Letting Go.

This is Amelia Jean. She is my second born daughter, my baby B.

She has been in a hurry her whole life.

When Amelia was a toddler she would bounce out of bed at 6am with sleepy eyes and crazy wild hair flying every which way. She would scamper to the kitchen, grab her Barney cereal bowl and sippy cup. With gusto she poured her cereal and milk carefully into her bowl (I do it, momma) then she’d plop down to watch Teletubbies while she gobbled her breakfast down.  With milk still dripping down her chin she would ask, what are we doing today, Momma?

This girl put me into labor at 19 weeks. I imagine she has been excited about life and it’s possibilities since conception.

Amelia is going to Europe this summer for three weeks, London, England to be specific (her dream since she was 9). All. By. Herself.

My little peanut of a girl, my barely four pound premie baby is going to fly to London, live alone and navigate one of the oldest cities in the world.  Solo.

Her AirBNB is paid for, her RT British Airways ticket has been purchased, she’s secured a 10K race to run and tickets to a couple of London adventures. Today she shared a post that her departure is 60 days away, my breath caught for a moment. I felt the realness of her adventure – I also felt the tug of trepidation and negotiation.  What if something happens? What if she gets sick or has an accident? What if she just disappears? If I freaked out hard enough, maybe she’d stay home?  Have I watched the movie, Taken too many times?

My mantra is: She is not my possession. She is my gift to the world and I trust that I have suffered enough loss in my life and she will come home to me, safe.

Let me tell you a story…

I was sexually molested as a young girl. It was repeated and it was on the heels of the traumatic death of my grandma, or as I called her, Mom.  From these experiences I developed PTSD and triggers that developed into fear and anxiety.

In 2006 my brother in law and mother in law died unexpectedly within a day of each other.  My mother in law was in hospice but my brother in law dropped dead of a pulmonary embolism on his kitchen floor.  In one fell swoop we lost half our family. My husband, myself and our daughters were all traumatized and grieving and without realizing it my childhood grief was triggered tremendously.  About a week after our losses both my daughters’ wanted to go to a new friends house for a sleepover.  The family was nice and they adored my children, but I found myself feeling uncomfortable with both of them being away for the night.  I agreed to the play date, met the parents and saw where they would be sleeping.  I was introduced to “uncles’ and “brothers” and there seemed to be a lot of people in the home. I left my phone with Sofie in case they needed to be picked up in the night (not something I had done before),  I left with only a shred of concern.

As evening approached I began to feel uneasy, but shrugged my concern off.  That night I tossed and turned, not able to get into a restful state.  I couldn’t shut my mind off, I was consumed with worry.  I found myself being overly concerned for their safety, I was having visions and dreams and was terrified they were going to be assaulted during the night. I pictured their lives being ruined and their innocence being ripped away from them forever, a wound I could never fix. I grappled with my panic for several hours until my anxiety got so heightened I woke my husband and pleaded with him to pick them up immediately.

Once I saw the car pull into the driveway I dropped to the floor sobbing, so incredibly relieved they were home, safe and under my watchful eye.  In my fearful world we had averted a terrible tragedy.  I tucked them in, whispered apologies into their sleepy ears, kissed their foreheads and thanked God for keeping them safe.

My seemingly irrational fear response to this innocent sleep over launched off my past traumatic experiences, but was triggered by the sudden deaths we had freshly suffered. After this incident I worked with my friend Jean on what happened and how I could avoid a reaction like this again. What she said made a life changing difference and I will share it with you.

— What we fear, we attract. If you don’t heal your past sexual traumas you will attract them right to your daughters. —

Her words hit me like a Mac truck. A lightbulb went off and I knew right then that I would NEVER allow my unhealed traumas/fears/PTSD/wounds or anything else to affect my children as they had in this instance. I felt like I dodged a bullet, I felt that WE dodged a bullet. Once we buried our family members, I dove into my pain and worked to heal myself from the inside out.

Fast forward to today, how do you think this impending trip to Europe would be effecting me if I hadn’t figured out how to heal my old pain and find peace and healing?  I am confident I would be a massive ball of anxiety, panic and fear.

I would be unhinged.

I would force my fear onto my child which would probably keep her from living her dreams, and living her life as she wants to.  I would do to her what was done to me.

I am so proud that I can say to my precious child, GO! Go live your dream, go have the time of your life and Mom will be here when you get home excited as hell to hear everything, see everything and to have you back in the safety of my arms.

My goal as a parent has been to raise wonderfully self aware, confident, self sufficient, caring, kind, independent, adventurous children. Mission accomplished.

Go live your dreams, Amelia! I love you to the moon and back, my love.

Blessings –

 

Shawna

Authenticity.

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My daughter, Amelia.  She is the most authentic person I know.
Authenticity:  true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions.

In my last blog post I spoke of a friendship I said good-bye to.  I hope my heart level reason was not missed by my readers.  I walked away because that friendship was not in line with my core value of integrity and being friends with this person was creating a lack of authenticity within myself.

An example of, letting go of what no longer serves me.

I have been reading about and researching authenticity for some time now. For myself personally, I see us, as a society lacking in honesty and true acceptance.  We are disconnected from our values, from our hearts, from our behavior, from our inner voices, and from our highest selves.  We are not living responsibly nor are we truly willing to change.

Everyone wants change, but no one wants to change.

I teach, meet one on one with clients, I run women’s groups, I manage staff and what I hear overwhelmingly is FEAR. If someone is living in fear you will hear and/or see the following:

  • doubt
  • lying
  • worry
  • questions of the future
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • busy brain
  • trouble sleeping
  • low self esteem
  • self worth issues
  • complaining
  • being stuck (inaction)

Fear in and of itself is a good thing. Fear can keep us on alert and help us avoid danger. Fear is a fantastic survival tool, however fear is much less necessary today then it was when we faced true survival threats like being chased my animals that wanted to eat us.

Because we are living in times of overload and stress our adaptive brains have continued to help us survive through fight or flight. However, today fight or flight is more about managing our jobs, family life, finances, emotions, obligations, social media, politics and many other day to day issues. Our bodies are in near constant survival mode, which equals stress which perpetuates FEAR.  DANGER = FEAR

How does this relate to authenticity?   Pay attention, the next sentence is HUGE…

We CANNOT be true to our own personality, spirit or character if we are in a constant negative stress cycle = FEAR.   We just can’t – it’s not possible.

LOVE is the only way to self acceptance and true authenticity.

You can love others, love your dog, maybe even love strangers, but you cannot claim you are living a truly authentic life if you do not love and accept YOUrself.

This is where things get tricky. In order to truly and deeply love and accept yourself you must do the work.  You must get in there and uncover your fears, look them straight in the eye and be willing to listen to and heal your wounded-ness. Fear lies in the darkest recesses of our being. If we choose not to get in there and do the emotional growth work that is necessary, that our LOVE hearts want us to process than we will remain in a fear state. Our traumas will continue being triggered and we will be unable to reach any honest level of authenticity.

STOP what you’re doing. Walk to the closest mirror, stand there, get close to the mirror and look deep into your own eyes…Say to yourself, I love and accept you for all of your flaws, mistakes, dark parts and fears. I trust the process of life, I accept you fully, and I LOVE YOU.

How do you feel?

Do you feel like you just lied to yourself? Did you feel your heart skip a beat?  Did you feel stupid saying these words to yourself? Did you laugh or giggle?

The first step to accepting yourself is being able to look at yourself as a flawed, fallible human being and be ok with it.

I trust the process of life.

Authenticity is the advanced level of personal growth.  You need to put the time and work in, lay the foundation for yourself, build trust within yourself, and prove your commitment to yourself.  For many of us we didn’t have trusting relationships in our young lives, we felt alone in our survival, in our struggles. By practicing acceptance, grace and love for ourselves we create a new reality and new possibilities for ourselves.

Choose LOVE. Kick FEAR out of your mindset/life. Create acceptance and authenticity awaits…

Blessings –

Shawna

My Heart

I made a difficult decision today.

Something had been bothering me for a few weeks about a friendship I am in. I didn’t want to hear what I knew in my heart I needed to listen to. But, I am committed to listening to my heart, so I took time to hear what I was feeling. As human beings the most difficult thing we can do is enter into relationships with other humans. We are notorious for getting our hearts hurt.

I don’t feel hurt at all, I actually feel pretty empowered and at peace with my decision.

I take my friendships very seriously, I love my friends deeply and I am extremely loyal – until I get hurt or until I begin to feel the friendship may be coming to an end.

A couple of weeks ago I started feeling like something was off with my friend. I began to feel an uncomfortable gnawing in my gut, and a feeling of dread in my heart.  I started avoiding contact and being legitimately annoyed when I heard from them.

I knew something was really wrong.  I had NEVER felt this way before about my friend.  When I heard from them my day was brighter or I would look forward to sharing good news with them. But, last week that shifted and I began to listen deeper to what my heart wanted for us (myself and my inner family).

My feelings matter, my gut feelings matter and I don’t ignore either, EVER.

So, today I said, good-bye to my friend and I know tonight when I’m alone I will cry and I will most likely write a good-bye letter to them.

I will keep affirming my heart that it’s okay that we are okay and that my friend will be ok too. We had a loving adult conversation about our feelings and I was honest, kind and responsible.

Last night I had a dream and I believe my dreams carry messages for me. Upon waking the only part of my dream I could remember was an old friend (we are no longer friends and I miss her), whom I loved dearly, and with whom I shared an instant connection, came to me.  In my dream I think I was in a bathtub fully clothed, just hanging out. My friend  walked right up to me, I called her name, she climbed in the tub and we wrapped ourselves up in each others embrace and it felt amazing.  I felt loved.

I felt incredibly loved, comforted and nurtured. I cried when I woke up because it felt so good and real and I miss her, very much.

And with that I knew what I had to do today.

 

 

Blessings friends –

Shawna

 

 

 

 

My Life by Design

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Littlest me with my parents
I come from a strong generational background of lack. Lack of money, happiness, integrity, honesty, love, tolerance and on and on…

My family struggled from the very beginning with poverty. Even as young as a toddler, I knew not to ask for things, I knew money was always an issue for my grandparents, whom I lived with.  My parents were just kids, divorced soon after I was born and neither had education nor work prospects.  Neither of my parents graduated high school.

We teetered on the brink of homelessness for several years. My grandparents didn’t have much, we always lived in rental homes – usually a friend’s home which wasn’t very reliable.  We moved frequently and survived on very little – I think at some point I received state services for food and medical care.

My grandpa was an uneducated handy man. My grandma was a morbidly obese woman who stayed home due to the many illnesses related to her weight.  I loved them with all of my being because they were my safety, my stability and my home.

Our family was incredibly dysfunctional – but my grandparents loved every one of us deeply and I knew in my heart that they wanted better lives for their children and their grandchildren.  But, I felt their stress, their fears and their sadness of the daily struggle of living with near constant lack.

As children do with the teachings of their family of origin, I dutifully took on the lack I was taught and made it part of my life.  It cemented into my belief system and my self talk. On a subconscious level my belief in lack of money was also tied to my beliefs about what work looks like.

My belief was, there will never be enough money, I will always struggle.

And…

Work=suffering.

Always a responsible employee, I never felt happy in my jobs. I either didn’t like the people or the pay or the job duties. Every job I had up until 1996 when I left the workforce due to a difficult pregnancy with my twin daughters, felt like just a “job”.

Contrary to my subconscious belief system I knew on a deeper level that I wanted more, I wanted a career. I wanted to be in a field where I could serve people, make a difference, feel satisfied and make a good living.  I had no idea what that would look like, but I knew I wanted those things.

When my daughters were young I put myself through college, and after changing my mind about careers paths several times received my Associates in Arts and Sciences degree (the first college grad in my entire family, ever). I had been accepted to a local University and was on course to be a Holistic Dietician. After graduating in 2009 it became clear I could not afford my chosen Universities tuition, from there I decided not to put my young family into major student loan debt of $75,000 – I had to let that dream go.  While this decision literally broke my heart, I felt strongly there was a win-win somewhere and I wanted to explore and find it!

In 2010 my family went through a very difficult time – my marriage was on the rocks, my husband lost his second job, we went bankrupt and I needed to go back to work.  I thought about what kinds of jobs I would like to have, and where I might enjoy working. At that time I was enrolled in my health coach certification program and was neck deep in nutrition, holistic health approaches and life coaching.  I decided I would apply at my local food co-op, and I was hired part time working in the deli.  Which was perfect for me as I love cooking and knew a bunch about natural products and cooking with produce.  I worked 13-15 hours a week at $9.75 an hour, I got familiar real quick with working with others in close quarters and customer service.  I will admit it was a bumpy transition for me, because I was used to being home, working, running a household and parenting 100% of the time – I was my own boss.

My home life was stressful so I volunteered for extra shifts and additional hours as much as I could.  I asked for additional responsibility as often as possible. I felt I could do things better than they were being done, but respected my supervisor.  My leadership and ambition came back full force and after about a year part-time in the deli I moved up to managing the wellness department of the coop – a full-time position with a nice little bump in pay. Progress.

I loved my job at the coop, I made great friends, loved the connections I made with customers,  felt supported, challenged and it was a great experience for my professional self-esteem.  I was able to begin coaching and working with clients on the floor in a greater capacity becasue I was a certified health coach.  My job satisfaction was good, I enjoyed my co-workers but the pay was out of line with what I felt I deserved. My department was doing well financially and I was an active contributor to the co-op as a business, but a raise was denied.  I could not survive on $13.50 an hour especially with the threat of marital separation looming.

Work=Suffering (financial)

I left the co-op to work from home for a natural products company as an inside sales rep. I almost immediately regretted leaving my management job despite the fact that my wages increased slightly. I was promised things by this employer that never really came to be, which left a sour taste in my mouth.  I cried at my desk on a regular basis, yet in hindsight, I am grateful for that job because it afforded me the ability to be home for my daughters, to care for my dear friends baby, and to be home for my ailing father in law.

Work=suffering (emotional, financial)

In 2015 my daughters graduated from high school, my father in law passed away and I decided it was time for ME. It was time for me to really focus on what my purpose is here, on this earth. I spent time focusing on this with my EMDR therapy and with my mentor, Jean. I toyed with going back to college for another degree, I began coaching full-time, I kept asking questions, exploring and setting my intentions of earnings, career fields and hours.   I still felt a bit lost, but I trusted the process of life and I was open to information from the Universe.

I quit my inside sales job last spring to launch my coaching biz, but shortly thereafter my husband was let go from his job of twenty five years. His delicate ego was feeling stomped on, which I understood, but we couldn’t be without two incomes.  I quickly applied with a local non-profit for a job in human services.  I would get to teach, receive targeted trainings and work with disadvantaged workers to better their own lives.  I struggled with accepting the position due to low pay for the level of responsibility and reporting, but I wanted to give it a shot.  This was my first true experience professionally in human services – which I felt was a field I could excell in.

After a month I found myself struggling with case management, I felt like a glorified babysitter and I wasn’t happy. Pay was low, certain aspects of the job were nearly intolerable, but I LOVED teaching, and I enjoyed my co-workers and building relationships in the community.  I gained sixteen pounds in four months, my emotional stress was through the roof. By this time my husband was employed full-time again and I started plotting my escape.  I left mid-December but stayed involved with the company as a life skills trainer and assistant to my boss, the interim program manager.

Work=suffering (big time emotional and financial)

Upon giving my notice my boss mentioned she would like for me to apply for program manager once it was posted. She had the confidence in me to run the entire program, and manage the staff from which I had just resigned.  I was flattered, but I couldn’t see the forest for the trees and needed time to reflect, minus the stress of the job, on what I wanted from my future work.

Work=Pleasure and Satisfaction

After a month off and enjoying teaching life skills, I generated a new mindset and a new belief about what work means to me.  Work=suffering was my families defenition, which has NEVER been MY defenition, that was just my default setting, because I wasn’t truly aware. Without awareness I can not change my beliefs.

I applied end of February for program manager and was hired the next day. My income doubled, I have the full support of my staff of six, my managers, the company as a whole, but most importantly MYSELF. This is the place for me, I no longer have questions about where I belong professionally. I’m here.

I put my intentions out there, every day. I said, Universe, I want a full time job in human services, making a salary of a minimum…., close to home, offering some travel and in a management position and I want it by Jan 2017.

Thank you, Universe. You got it 100% correct.

This has been a long post, but I want to leave you with this. My message is…

I created this life for myself.  I did this. No one handed it to me, no one layed out my path and made it easy.  I struggled, I made mistakes, I searched for awareness, I asked questions, I dug deep, I fucked it up, I have regrets, but I made it.

Ask and you shall receive. This is the rule of the Universe, you aren’t willing to go deep and do the work you need to do to ascend your current position?  Then enjoy being stuck.

As I tell my life skills students, success is NOT a neat, clean, linear process. Success is a messy, ugly, jumbled up mess of a process. Two steps forward, one step backwards.

YOU are the only one in charge of your life. YOU are the one who creates change, opportunities and experiences. Not happy with your life? STOP complaining, justifying, being afraid, doubting yourself, accepting it and DO something about it.

Dig deep, do the work, be afraid, face it and change it.

I came from nothing. Literally, NOTHING.   My very first financial goal was to make more than my parents made annually. Done. My second goal was to out earn my husband. Done. I educated myself, created opportunities, stayed in the game, faced my fears, defied my doubters, never gave up and trusted myself and the Universe to build a life I deserve and LOVE.

Now, go make your life awesome!!

Blessings –

Shawna