You are not stuck in a story

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Self-responsibility is powerful medicine.

At the same time, the general insistence (especially in the spiritual, healing, and personal development realm) that personal challenge = being stuck in a story is frankly, complete bullshit. It draws the attention away from what is truly being offered to you via your experience and instead, adds insult to injury via the subtle judgement that you are “stuck in a story”.

Seriously, though — isn’t it interesting that we never consider ourselves to be “stuck in a story” if it makes us feel good? If it bolsters our sense of confidence? If it brings us sense of clarity about who we are and how the world works?

You can try and gloss over, ignore, or positive affirmation your way past the confusion, uncertainty and hurts of the present and the past all day long but stories: our individual and collective stories (and the sorrow, grief, anger, fear, shame, and guilt that we don’t want to experience), come to visit our consciousness and our body psyches again and again because they haven’t been truly heeded and heard.

Your “stories” seek your embrace

If you are anything like me, you wonder why in the heck you would possibly want to embrace a story with a guarantee that you will feel that kind of emotional pain. Here is why: because it is part of you. When you deny it, dismiss it, or diminish the relevance of these aspects of you or your life, you lose something precious. In the denial, you halt the clear flow of energy (because emotions are energy that carry profound wisdom). From a spiritual/energetic healing perspective, the energy becomes frozen within the body psyche, unable to be accessed until it is released, felt and integrated.

This energy, this life force that is denied — it is a source of power, presence and wisdom. It behooves us to learn to welcome all of ourselves, our emotions, and our experiences without a preference for what we deem “good”.

In fact, this energy, experience and emotion that we try so hard to push away and ignore actually holds the very wisdom and courage that will align us with the life that is ours to live. The life where we are most fulfilled and where we are contributing to the well-being of the whole in powerful ways.

And at the same time, truly, this process of embracing our whole experience can kind of suck. I won’t lie. I still don’t particularly enjoy feeling the full range of my feelings. I can still find myself doing All The Things to get some distance between myself and a hard understanding of myself or a circumstance.

And yet, this is life

I can make a strong argument that ANY preference or strong belief could be construed as “being stuck in a story” — anything on the continuum from “love, light and high vibes” all the way to the other end of the spectrum at “life is suffering”. Life is magnificent and life is brutally challenging. Life is beautiful and ugly. Life is all the things and if we desperately wish to lean in one direction, or another, we miss out on so much.

We miss out on the wisdom, the conviction, the clarity and the power that comes from courageously welcoming and facing our most challenging emotions and circumstances. We miss out on the true sense of joy and appreciation for life that is available when we aren’t denying parts of our experience.

Write YOUR story.

To write the story that is yours to write, you need access to all of your wisdom, energy and power. To be the woman you are requires you to hear and heed the wisdom that exists in the full range of your experiences and emotions. To be the woman you wish to be requires compassion and the courage to embrace, and to work with, the raw materials that you’ve been given. You are not stuck in a story. You are being called to reclaim your power. You are crafting a legacy, my sister.

It won’t be quick.

It won’t be easy.

But it will be real and human, and messy and absolutely profound.

No, you are not stuck in a story. Life is simply inviting you to craft a fuller, richer, more heroic story.

That’s all. And it’s everything.

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Hey soul sister

Did you enjoy this piece? Feel free to share on your favorite social media channels, like or comment below to continue the conversation. I love to connect with you.

xo.nona

Living and Breathing Hope

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I wanted to feel better, that’s all.

That’s all, and it’s everything, isn’t it? For as long as I could remember, I longed for experiences of myself, and of life, that felt different.

I wanted to feel better (safe, secure, at ease) in my skin.

I wanted to break the legacy of addiction and violence in my family.

I wanted to be a good enough mother.

I wanted to feel safe inside of relationships with other people.

I wanted to feel alive, not slightly distanced from myself and life. Hell, I wanted to be able to feel, not freeze.

I wanted to know how to feel joy.

I wanted to trust myself, and life.

I wanted to make a meaningful contribution through my work.

I wanted to feel the wholeness that I knew, without a doubt, was at the core of my being.

This, and more, is my life today.

When I talk about trauma, I get excited — why? Because what I know is that surfacing, and bringing light, to the effects of trauma is not about giving up or being a victim — it takes incredible strength and vulnerability to open to the truth and own it. Ultimately, naming and healing trauma is about living, and breathing, hope.

No one talks about how the long-term effects of trauma can linger and prevent women from shining light in the world and making a powerful contribution. But it does — it’s at the heart of so much suffering and pain for women who long to do meaningful, life-changing work. However, as Dr. Dan Siegel says, “We have to name it to tame it.”

We are at a point in our collective story that we are really ready recognize the impact that trauma has had on us individually and as a society. It wasn’t until a wise therapist I hired in my 20’s named trauma as the root cause of what was keeping me from what I wanted, that I felt truly empowered to heal. It wasn’t until I named trauma as having an impact on my work that I was able to unravel the residual effects of said trauma and truly begin doing the work I know I’m here to do.

Naming our trauma is an act of living and breathing hope.

For anyone who knows me, you know I am a perpetual optimist. I believe in myself, I believe in the goodness of humanity. I believe in our capacity to heal and to rise and to create in powerful, meaningful ways. Inside of my optimism is also a deep understanding that to be the women we are here to be, we must have the courage to turn and face our demons. To reach the full expansion of our light, we must be at ease in the dark. We must be willing to do the hard work of healing — not fixing, but healing.

And, when I say healing, I mean being truthful with a capital T and in that truth, being exquisitely kind to oneself in embracing the full catastrophe of being a fragile, and strong, human (not indulgent, not destructive, but truly kind and loving in a fiercely protective way). I mean doing the hard work of knowing yourself and what you need. I mean honoring the evolution of being who you are in every moment. I mean healing as continuing to be honest in the ways you show up for you, your life, and your work. 

The only way out is through

I say this all. the. time. To my daughter, when she is struggling with a tough math problem or a challenging issue with friends. To my clients, who are struggling and want to get to the good stuff NOW, thankyouverymuch. I say it to myself when I am really wishing for things to be easier. The only way out is through. To stay with ourselves is the deepest healing. It is the path to hope.

The long-arm of trauma for many women in business is the confounding barrier it creates that says, “Go no further or you will be hurt — or worse.” It is terrifying. It makes no sense. It is the tender edge, it is the place where fear is amplified beyond what seems normal. It is the space where women often turn back, giving into the overwhelming sense that they simply cannot go any further.

At the same time, we are told in personal development to JUST DO IT. That it’s simply outdated beliefs that need to be addressed or fear or karmic energy patterns or whatever. This isn’t bad information. It can be all those things AND, if (as a woman who is experiencing the residual effects of trauma) you are unable to get over it, or think a new thought, or heal the karmic pattern or take a different action — shame ensues — often unintentionally adding a new layer of traumatic impact, unconsciously affirming that moving forward is too dangerous.

Let’s Take a Different Approach

Right now, The Trauma Sensitive Business is open for registration (through January 31st). Whether you feel called to the program or not, I’m interested in seeing us, collectively, bring light to the impact trauma has on so many of us working in the personal development arena.

Not every woman who has experienced trauma experiences long-term effects, however, it is worth it to stay curious and ask the question — do you believe that trauma is playing a part in how you (or your clients) are, or aren’t, living life? Building a business of meaning?

If the answer is yes, I invite you to use these questions as a place to begin and, as an important consideration if you have clients who seem unable to move in the direction of their dreams. Consider that it isn’t a personal failing, but instead the wisdom of the trauma-body keeping your clients (or you) safe.

What will it take to create a sense of safety? Establishing a sense of safety and presence is vital for women who have experienced trauma. Running a business will, at least for the first few years, be activating a sense of being in danger — it brings up fear of failure, financial concerns, it amplifies any wounding we have around using our voice. The opportunities to feel terrified are vast and endless. So creating a sense of safety, grounding and being present to what is happening right here and right now is incredibly important. Routines and practices of self-care are not a “nice to have” they are necessary for women who have experienced trauma to be able to feel good and thrive. Cultivating safe relationships in which to be supported in expressing what is true is paramount. Devising consistent and stable systems and foundations will help to soothe the frayed nervous system.

How can I be unfailingly on the side of non-harming? To push yourself, or a client, beyond the comfort zone when trauma is a factor is, simply put, harmful. Moving more slowly, and with incredible compassion for the trauma that might be activated, is the fastest way forward. This includes monitoring internal language and the way that we speak to, and about, ourselves (or watching for dismissive or harsh words in your clients about themselves). Moving at your own pace, or the pace of your client, may seem incredibly ineffective by societal standards. However, the pace that society moves at and insists on is inherently traumatic for most people already. For those who have body psyches that respond with fear more readily — move slower than slow. Not only is it affirming to acknowledge the impact of trauma with kindness, but it’s healing, and it creates a foundation of strength, authority and success to move at a deliberately slow pace.

What strengths can I draw on? I suspect that one reason it’s so difficult to talk about trauma, is that it goes against what I call our cowboy conditioning — that stiff upper lip, “I’m fine”, boot-strapping, mentality. I get it. However, what I know for sure is that every woman who has experienced trauma is incredibly strong and has amazing internal resources that are moving in the direction of safety, healing and vibrancy. It is so important to remember the strength that you possess and the innate instinct for healing that you have shown throughout your life. So it’s possible to talk about the impact of trauma, and at the same time acknowledge your strength — not just acknowledge it, but call on it. To recognize and honor the strength you possess and to build on it, to utilize that strength as you move forward in new ways.

You are invited: live and breath hope, sister.

I’m not a therapist and I don’t play one on TV, but I am committed to making a meaningful contribution to creating the world I wish to live in. Naming, and working intentionally, with our individual and collective trauma is a pathway to living and breathing hope. I want to live in a world where more people are celebrating the strength of living in post-traumatic growth. I want to live in a world where our organizations (micro, small and large) aren’t being impacted by hidden trauma. But mostly, what I want is for you to shine. For you to feel empowered to move forward at your own pace, into the fullness of who you are — beyond the trauma.

Join me, and a beautiful circle of women for The Trauma-Sensitive Business

I would love to support you in your own vision of living and breathing hope, my sister.

xo.nona

Tend Your Energy First

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“Before helping others, put on your oxygen mask.”

How often do we hear this common flight instruction tossed around as a metaphor? We nod and agree, and then often, go back to throwing ourselves under the bus. So, let’s be honest: this instruction is hard in the day to day doing.

It’s no simple thing.

When I said goodbye to corporate accounting many years ago, I left behind 80 hour work weeks, crushing deadlines and painful posturing.

The last year I worked in a corporate setting full-time, I consciously decided to bring some balance back into my life. I stopped bringing my computer home on the weekends or weekday evenings. I took a lunch break away from my desk. I worked out in the company gym regularly (and it was nearly always deserted). Most important, I stopped reacting to the false sense of urgency that kept everyone amped up and on edge and started asking clarifying questions about priorities before automatically signing up for a project or a deadline.

It wasn’t a popular choice. Without buying into the crazed pace and the hyper-busy party line of my company, I ended up shut out of decision-making and I was treated decidedly differently. It was painful. I felt caught between a rock and a hard place: I knew that working at that pace was not sustainable (or healthy), nor did I believe people were actually doing their best work and yet, it was the norm and the culture. However, if I didn’t buy into it, I was no longer part of the winning team.

I had to choose, and, as hard as it was, I chose me.

Fast-forward through leaving corporate accounting, the joy (and stress) of getting married, becoming a yoga teacher, having a baby, then choosing to pursue a career as a coach. When I started my coaching business, I found myself creating the same kind of hectic pace for my own business that I had experienced during my corporate career. Granted, I was doing work I felt called to, but still, I created an untenable work environment for myself.

When I realized what I had done, I was puzzled. And curious.

I can point to any number of facets of our culture, my past, and unhelpful beliefs that ensured that I would recreate this framework for my own business: an unconscious coupling of “busy” and “money”, a deep feeling of scarcity and a need to overwork to feel (barely) equal, a truly driven work ethic passed down by many generations, the culture that I was educated in, and work environments that push on people in such a way that we believe we must keep going no matter what the cost to us personally.

The fact is, I, like many others, unconsciously agree to these terms and conditions believing we have no choice. We blatantly disregard the consequences this type of behavior wreaks not only on our lives, but society at large. To do it differently requires courage to challenge the status quo and culturally swim upstream.

Different choices are the path to new outcomes.

Only you know what it would mean for you to shift the paradigm and tend your energy, first. But discovering your Truth (and the subsequent actions) begins with two questions:

Who do you want to be?

How do you want to move through your life? 

I, for one, am in it for the long-game. I want to move with deliberate presence through my days and my world. This means I prioritize tending my energy first every day. I sleep 8 hours per night. I exercise most days and I focus on quality food that makes my body feel clear and alive. I often take a quick nap in the afternoons. I don’t drink alcohol or use other substances as substitutes for real rest. I spend time outdoors. I journal daily to gather my thoughts. I minimize social media time and I take time to do things that light me up: yoga, meditation, dance, and definitely talking with plants and animals. I take time away with my family regularly to recharge and reconnect. 

Not only do these elements of tending my energy bring me joy, but I am more efficient, engaged and inspired when I am in a groove with my nourishing practices. Honestly, I get more of the right things done and I’m better in every way. I am more discerning. I am more empathetic, more loving and more connected to my own wisdom. 

It used to bother me that I felt present and filled up while others were complain/bragging (you know what I mean) about how busy and tired they were. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I don’t want to live my life in a constant state of being behind: being in that draggy state of tired and wired is the ultimate embodiment of scarcity mind-set. 

Choose you, today and every day.

Make no mistake, sister. Tending your energy changes the game on every level. It is an affirmation of your commitment to receive nourishment and to move into the world from a place of overflow.

Tending your energy first allows you to be at your best. To be a force of good in the world from a place of abundance. If you need it, you have my full permission to offer yourself the depth and breadth of support that will nourish you, and leave you full. 

Now, will you give yourself permission to choose you and prioritize tending your energy first?

xo.nona

Let Yourself Be Held

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We begin December 20th.

Join a sweet sisterhood of support to root into the element of earth. Find stillness, find steady footing and stability under your feet. You will be invited to slow down and focus on restoration, letting yourSelf slow down and be blessedly grounded.

Let yourself be HELD by the earth, by energy medicine, by story and practice, by a sisterhood of like-minded women and invitations to grounding rituals.

I would love to support you in 2019.