Living on The Brightest Side

Love yourself enough brightest side

I’ve been feeling a bit sick from the vertigo of transition. The forked snake tongue on the road ahead feels daunting as the deep dark forest just after dusk. The feelings of obligation overwhelm my waking hours and the guilt that I feel pushes down on my shoulders and keeps my pace like a snail.

OR

Change and transition is when the real magic of life happens. The varied opportunities that lie ahead excite me to my soul bone and I’m throwing myself down the path and feeling open to wherever it may lead. The solace I have gifted myself has made my own authentic voice more confident to speak up and be heard. I am grateful and hopeful for what is to come.

It’s all about how you look at it. Attitude is everything.

After a lifetime of negativity and toxic truths, I decided to take a leap of faith and start living on The Brightest Side. It took strength, confidence and self-love to let go of the personal dogma engrained so deep in my habitually chaotic brain. So, I sat with the questions instead of demanding the answers. I focused on solutions instead of problems. I reevaluated all the varied doctrine I had held tight for so long. The process of trying to empty myself of programmed mental and emotional responses and open up to new, authentic thought came from a place of pure self love. Pure self love comes from a realization that you really want to be happy and tend mindfully to yourself. The key to my happiness has been consistently letting go of expectations and outcomes and letting it all unravel one glorious moment at a time.

Letting things be what they are and not what I am expecting or hoping for has been a labor of love and worth every effort.

So, after 4+ years of writing this blog I am transitioning my effort and energy to living permanently on The Brightest Side where I will continue to write about my journey, but also write about how others can make their own promise to live life with positivity and kindness both to themselves and others.

I hope you will join me and together we can enjoy being at peace with our lives paths. 

Sending love to my dear Desiree who took the above photo of me during a weekend on the beach

Under The Knife

solo yoga mountain

At first I thought awakening my spiritual energy would help me become more calm and zen. So, I dove in head first, took courses in healing, began focusing on my nutrition and did my first 48-hour cleanse, became a yoga teacher, got certified in Reiki, bought a Reiki table and started writing a blog about my journey.

Ooohhhmmmmm….. not.

I learned a lot, but I wouldn’t say I automatically became an enlightened being. After I took a breath, I realized I may not ever actually teach yoga. I sold the Reiki table. I decided that all of this was great for me personally, but was not going to be my new career path, at least not in the way that I had imagined it.    

We are all born with everything we need to live a happy life. Imagine that. It’s inside you right now. You have every tool necessary. So, what is holding me back?  What is holding you back?

Life. Circumstances. Obligation. Responsibility. Injuries. Pain. Fear. Guilt. All of it is holding me back, but now I acknowledge it. So, now it becomes about how to undo and let go of those things. But, getting to this point of naming and understanding the shackles binding me was an important process. And, the more I learn, the more I understand how much more I have to learn….

What have I done? What did I start? This whole journey has shown me just as much heartbreak as it has healing. This has become a process of unlearning, relearning and learning it all over again.

…over and over and over and SNAP!

I tore my labrum right off the bone and the cycle that I had been living in suddenly changed. I went to Urgent Care, had an X-ray, saw an Orthopedic doctor, had an MRI, took some time off work, found out I had to have surgery, filed for Medical Leave from work, had surgery, went home to heal, got lots of help and here I am. It feels like it all just happened in a fog, one thing after another, and now here I am 5 weeks post-op and in the thick of painful physical therapy, sitting around with ice packs and popping big horse pills to help dull the pain.

But even in times like this we have a choice. We can chose how to heal, and while choosing how to heal I found some things to be grateful for.

Without the last 5 years of intense introspection and this mindful poking at my spiritual energy, I may have crumbled under all of this physical pain and struggling. Without the mind-body-spirit connection I have started, I may have suffered from overwhelming emotional pain along with the physical. But that’s not how I chose to heal. My body knows just what to do if I let it, but it was my pride that was struggling through this healing process, so I gave it some space to try and figure out why. 

Instead of feeling deflated that I had to ask for help (which I certainly did), I realized the validating side of it. I recognized that it takes a lot of effort for people to replace what I was doing to keep my family healthy, safe and clean. Validation often comes in interesting forms. I was able to see that even the little things that I do each day (that may seem monotonous and meaningless) are important to those two sweet little girls that depend on me and my ability to do each one of those menial tasks. Put all of those tasks together and you see my life, my responsibilities, and my joy.

I took a moment.

I took several moments laying there in my bed as a patient with wounds and meds and ice packs. I thought about the human-ness of it all and how this is just part of my journey. I made more of the moments in-between and I let gratitude for all of the love being shown to me absorb into who I am.

I throw a lot of energy into feeling pride of accomplishment and the thrill of independence. I believe the Universe sent me this lesson to slow me down and make me re-evaluate my connection with others. I had to go under the knife to rise above just a little bit higher. And for that I am grateful.

Journey Into The Unknown

little girl path

Preparing for a journey into the unknown is not easy to do. What do you pack? What do you expect? Well, that’s the thing about the unknown, you just don’t know.

So, bring a positive attitude, dress comfortably and just start walking. This is your journey and these are your choices. Walk with a purpose and dream with intention. Venture into the unknown with the child-like anticipation that it will all turn out exactly the way it is supposed to.

Preparing for your journey…

What makes you happy? Bring that or do more of that.

Who do you love? Bring them or call them often.

What keeps you healthy? Do that more.

What calms you down? Bring some of that or keep doing that.

Who inspires you? Call them often or bring their book to read. 

What makes you feel bad? Stop doing that.

What stresses you out? Stop doing that.

What unhealthy habits do you have? Stop doing that.

It’s doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, it just has to be.

Don’t master the things you don’t enjoy and don’t neglect the things that you do.

Gratitude to hotblack on morguefile.com for the photo above of a little girl just beginning her amazing journey

Making a Happy Promise

sunset man arms

It was four years ago today that I decided to make positive change in my life in an effort to become the best version of myself. I’m grateful for my journey and I’m hopeful for what is to come. If the time has come for you to start your own journey, it may be comforting to have a roadmap to follow. I have created a 3 step outline of how my own journey has unfolded and I hope these steps will help you begin to define and discover how to navigate your own journey. I only claim to be an expert on myself, and I encourage you to become an expert on yourself. My hope is that what has worked for me will inspire you to design a roadmap that reflects your own journey.

1. The Awakening

The realization happens that change is necessary. You may or may not experience the beginning of a breakthrough. The signs showing up around you can be anywhere from violent to subtle. You make a decision to make change. The decision can just be to get started. The focus on exactly what needs attention possibly comes clear, but may unfold in time. The most important thing to do in this stage is be open to whatever comes next. You may feel a surge of energy and a strong desire to explore and learn, or you may just begin to feel calm and open. Be mindful and accepting of your feelings.

2. The Discovery

You begin to pinpoint the areas of your life that need changing. You begin to develop a stronger focus on how to approach them. You begin to explore and learn which vehicle(s) will suit your needs: mindfulness, yoga, piano, music, hiking, art, kindness…. as you begin adjusting to change. Your senses begin to take in and process information in a new way. Colors are bolder, music is sweeter, smells spark vivid memories, you may feel hyper sensitive in every way. Now is a good time to begin to be even more mindful of your thoughts and feelings in an effort to discover how to make positive change. Stay open to change and unattached to outcomes. The less expectations you place on yourself and your experiences, the easier this process will flow, and although it may not be easy, it will be worth it.

3. Finding Your Calm

It is now time to adopt a new normal, incorporate new habits, and accept imperfection. It’s time to live life happier and keep awakening and rediscovering in each moment. The more kindness and love you show yourself, the more love and kindness you will be able to show your loved ones. There is no finish line, so don’t search for it, but instead enjoy the feeling of a new beginning.

Every journey is unique.

Appreciate your own, distinct patchwork life.

Find your peace.

Enjoy your calm.

Dogma Runs Deep

buddha fire head wood

I’m letting go of the personal dogma engrained so deep in my habitually chaotic brain. I’m sitting with the questions instead of demanding the answers. I’m reevaluating the doctrine I’ve held so tight for so long. The process of trying to empty yourself of programmed mental and emotional response and open up to new, authentic thought comes from a place of pure self love. Pure self love comes from a realization that you really want to be happy and tend mindfully to yourself.

I’m sorting through the figurative boxes of old, abandoned trinkets that I saved all these years for some reason or another. These are the parts of ourselves that we never put out on the shelves for visitors to see, the sacred bits and pieces that may stay secret from even our most intimate partners in life, and the raw justifications that we create and censor. 

There is a level of spiritual vulnerability that we can approach within ourselves yet may never reveal to others. Some things are only meant for self-reflection. I don’t want to know how some people feel about some of the parts of me. It takes a true Spiritual Gangsta to let that stuff be taken out and tossed around in front of another person. You risk judgement of your enshrined inner truths and stories that you tell yourself over and over so convincingly. But, with the right person and the courage to reveal these exclusive rationalizations, you may receive rescue, not ridicule. The choice to reveal should not be taken lightly. The decision of whether or not you sort through those inner junk drawers of doctrine in a meaningful way and with pure healing intention is ultimately yours. The gifts of self-reflection and enlightenment should be treasured instead of measured.

gratitude to keencarleen on morguefile.com for the above photo

The Kindest Kind of Kindness

mother child photo

When did liking yourself become a rebellious act? When did taking care of yourself become something to feel guilty about? How can we possibly take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves? How can we ever be a proper role model if we don’t model how important it is to value yourself?

We all play our own unique role in this grand village raising our kids. We all teach them different ways to live and the many different paths to follow. But, for me, of all the lessons I am capable of teaching, how to love yourself and stand strong and brave are the lessons that my heart and soul are best suited to teach. I want to teach my children to be kind by showing them how I am kind. I want them to internalize the importance of being nice to yourself just as they are learning to be kind to others so it becomes something they value throughout their lifetime.

So why do some people find it so hard to show kindness to themselves? Those who know and understand their needs and can swiftly and adeptly cater to them should be revered! What a wonderful trait it is to know yourself well and understand what makes you happy. How beautiful a mind that can take it all in and sift through to make their own distinctions and then respond accordingly. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristolte I find that those who can take it all in, know what they need and then act on it are the happier people I know and I believe that is because they understand the importance of self-kindness. Whether it be an evening walk in the crisp fall air, a massage or not accepting a thought that gives you pause, knowing what your body and soul need to feel calm and at peace has become a rare, hidden talent in today’s world. Being kind to yourself is the kindest kind of kindness and we need to become experts at it as well as make time and space for it.

Just as the meaning of life has always been vague, the definition of happiness is purposefully left cloudy so each person can reimagine it for themselves. For me, kindness is a major component of happiness. I enjoy being kind to others and living as a kind citizen of the world. This means being mindful of myself and my environmental footprint as well as trying to satisfy my needs while reaching toward my dreams. That’s a tall order and somedays happiness seems like a lot of work. But, just as with everything, a bit of forethought, planning and creativity seems to be worth it when you get to enjoy the spoils of your efforts.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” -Dalai Lama

Gratitude to hotblack on morguefile.com for the beautiful photo above

What I am

lotusflowertall

What I think…

Happy is better. But, happy can be complicated.

I’m going to find my happy no matter how many bumps I find in the road. I’m learning new ideas and starting to feel them sinking in more and more deeply as the journey goes on. Most importantly, I’m internalizing that happiness is an inside job.

All of the “if I only had …. then I’d be happy” and the “it’s really his/her fault that I’m not happy” are not real. Reexamine those. 

Using excuses and blaming other people or situations is futile. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about accepting your path and your reality. No matter what you believe in this moment, you hold the reigns and you control the outcome. Or maybe you believe in fate, but the framework of what fate means to you still grows from your conscious. It’s all up to you. 

You may frame a less-than-desirable outcome as a disaster to linger and fester over OR you can see it as an opportunity to grow and a chance to take a step toward a better future. The only one who suffers from your anguish and funk is you. The person (or place or thing) that may have contributed to your state of being in this moment is far more focused on themselves and their own funk. Let them exist in it, you have the beautiful opportunity to create your own reality. You have the choice to create your own happy.

What I will become…

Peaceful. I long to create a life that feels peaceful and calm. I want to feel love flowing through my house and my relationships. I want to master the tools that work for me, but never stop learning and growing. I am and always will be a Seeker. I want to die hungry and curious because there is too much to ever learn or know in one lifetime.

What I know…

Life is magnificent. Life is to be enjoyed.

Happy is possible. I deserve to be happy.

What I am…

I am a Wellness Coach. I’ve studied many of the healing arts such as yoga, meditation, Reiki, smudging, chakra balancing, and so on, but I am not a Healer. I guide and empower people to heal themselves. Healing is an inside job. As much as I would like to help others or take on their pain, each person has to learn how to heal and grow in their own way and in their own time. I have a passion for guiding people to discover what will work for them, but everyone has to do the work for themselves. Roll up your sleeves people, there’s work to be done.

The photo above (by mrmac04 from morguefile.com) of the lotus flower reminds me that even a beautiful flower can emerge from muddy water… everyday. 

The Brightest Side

Koan mountain view

It’s not about someone else discovering you, it’s about you discovering yourself. It’s not about getting noticed, it’s about noticing. The world starts to feel different when you let go of stressors that don’t serve you like judgement, obligation and guilt. You don’t just start to see the brighter side of things when you make the decision to be genuinely happier, you see the brightest side. It’s a truly conscious decision that you have to make over and over consistently, and with absolute confidence. Being decisively committed to your own happiness allows your inner light to shine. 

I made an authentic decision to create positive change in my life. After years of hard work, growth, discovery and deep reflection, I feel confidently optimistic about the path I have put myself on. I knew that in order to build a life filled with things that make me happy, I had to first dismantle my existing life to the point where I felt lighter and better able to become who I wanted to discover. So, I sold my house and most of my belongings and moved to a place that I had always wanted to live, Colorado.

It was a complicated couple months as we sorted through belongings deciding what had value, served a purpose or felt sentimental. We held an estate sale, garage sale and sold several items online. In the end, we were left with the essentials and packed our lives into a 16 foot rental truck.

It’s been 2 weeks since I became a resident of Colorado. I’m not sure if it’s the crisp mountain air, the light refreshing afternoon rains, or the new zen patio I set up the minute I got the keys to my new place, but I’ve never felt so calm and peaceful. The easygoing lifestyle combined with the welcoming, friendly people have made me feel very at home. With a lighter schedule and beautiful sunny weather, my girls and I have been able to spend long summer days exploring our new home and surroundings. We’ve been enjoying each other in a whole new way. My girls and I have truly savored this gift of time with each other and I know they are appreciating their more relaxed and happy mom.

Instead of struggling through stressful, less-than-ideal days and feeling stagnant in my life, I decided to take a leap of faith and look on the brightest side, and I’m so glad that I did. 

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself” – George Bernard Shaw

gratitude to koan for the beatiful photo above from morguefile.com

Dear Chicago

leaving chicago

Dear Chicago,

I’m not leaving because of something you did wrong. It’s not you, it’s me. From your beautiful summer nights to the birth of my two daughters, I leave here with so many beautiful memories, too many to list.  And, I’ll be back to make more memories as a visitor, for at least a while. I’m not moving away from something as much as moving on and trying to let go of who I have been here. This journey to find my happy place has vividly pointed out what doesn’t make me happy. I’m still working on figuring out exactly what does.

I deserve to be happy, feel comfortable and grow. I deserve to reconfigure my normal. You can’t go back, but you can go forward. The only way to change is to change the way. It’s all about the journey.

Warmly,

Jamie

Dear Denver,

When we met 25 years ago, I had no idea that I would never be able to stop thinking about you. I considered coming here for college and was accepted to the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1994 as a transfer student looking to make big changes and relocate to somewhere exciting. Even though I chose Phoenix at the time, I always wondered what it would have been like if I had made a different move. I’ve been back several times over the years, and it always feels more like home than anywhere else.

The pull to give you a try has now taken me over and I’ll see you in a few weeks to start my next chapter. Now, I know you have a lot going on and a lot of people here to please, all I’m asking is that you show me kindness and support. I’m not in a hurry, but I would like to see if my future is here. I’m feeling confident that you will give me a sign and show me the way, not let me wander too much from what could bring me happiness. I believe in you.

See you soon,

Jamie

gratitude to dharder on morguefile.com for the above photo

Come On Get Healthy

vegetables

I have found that, for me, getting happy started with a healthier body. It’s almost impossible to have a positive state of mind if your body is distracting you from your happiness goals. An unhealthy body that feels achey, sluggish, and doesn’t sleep well is probably not leading you on a journey to a happier place. When you feel healthy, rested and well nourished you are then more free to focus on your state of mind. An important thing to consider is that healthy looks different for every body, so keeping in mind that you only need to be the expert on making yourself happy is essential.

A great place to begin your journey to happiness is in the kitchen. Chances are, if you’re feeling less than happy, there are easy, manageable steps you can take right now in your own home. To make positive change, you have to make changes. The goal should be reinventing your relationship with food. Begin by taking inventory. Every few months I like to pull everything out of my pantry and reassess. Creating healthy habits and maintaining them does not happen with one trip to the grocery store. It can be an ongoing process of learning and adapting.

After you pull out all of your food, it’s time to take a good look at what you have on hand and consider your patterns. Anything that is expired has got to go, that’s easy. Anything that is processed and/or eaten in moments of emotional distress has also got to go. Food is fuel. Using food for comfort is not a step toward getting healthier. This process is about positive change. Replacing your comfort food with exercise, stretching, breathing, meditation, yoga, or a hot bath will serve you better. Consider what will work for you and give it a try.

Now clean out your fridge and freezer using the same process. When you are done with your purge, gather some healthy recipe and snack ideas and make a list of what you need. Grab your cloth grocery bags and head out with your list. Try and stick to what you need and not fall victim to impulse buying. Planning out your menu will serve you well, it saves time and let’s you be prepared in those moments when you want to slip back into old habits.

You have three considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Addressing three meals per day, everyday.
  2. Plan for your need to snack
  3. Consider your nutrient and mineral deficiencies

If your intention is to get healthy and happy, you need to begin to live from a place of intention and not a place of habit. Addressing your eating habits and being open to making positive, lasting change can very well be your first step on a path toward enjoying more happiness. It certainly was for me.

Gratitude to MaxStraeten for the lovely photo above from morgue file.com

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