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.

Radical Empathy

IMG_7764

What if we all practiced radical empathy? What if we could understand and share the feelings of another on an organic, fundamental level and we allowed ourselves to show profound appreciation, compassion and kindness in every way possible? What if we could take that extreme level of compassion and apply it to our lives? Three ways of manifesting and expressing this kindness would be toward yourself, kindness to others and kindness to the earth. How closely could you align to this idea? Keep in mind that part of this process would be showing kindness to yourself, so there is no need to be perfect. “Everything in moderation, including moderation” – Oscar Wilde

With a deep acceptance of the state of the world in general and the ability to have sage perspective of concepts like ego, we can achieve kindness to the self. On so many levels, kindness expressed to yourself can liberate feelings of anxiety, guilt or obligation and beyond. Enjoying self empathy is so much more than taking a break, a vacation or even getting a massage. At so many points we get in our own way of feeling calm and enjoying a feeling of peace. We convince ourselves that we are not strong enough or capable enough and opportunities to be happy or enjoy life simply slip by. Being kind to yourself includes accepting things the way they are and letting go of the outcome. The tighter we cling to controlling an outcome, the further away it seems to slip. If we can learn to truly let go, we can show ourselves the most organic, radical kindness. At the same time, inserting the radical part of this equation means understanding how to create a foundation of love for yourself and getting primal about satisfying your needs and desires. When you marry these ideas, you can reach a deep level of self-care.

Kindness is the act of showing the love you feel. Showing kindness to others becomes easier when you lay a strong foundation of self love. When you genuinely feel good and can let go of the guilt often attached to enjoying a calm state, you can begin to show kindness more easily to the people around you. Showing kindness is elemental really. We are how we treat each other. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama

Are you always as kind as possible? If you express kindness in even the most basic everyday interactions, it not only feels better and helps you enjoy a flow state of calm, but it gets passed forward to those on the other end of your gentle kindness. But, I don’t practice kindness so it will come back to me, I enjoy the gentle look on people’s faces when they receive it. Seeing people happy and relaxed makes me happy and gives me hope. Try making your everyday acts a bit more kind and see how it effects you maybe even more than others.

It’s amazing how many times during each day we have the opportunity to be kind to the earth. So many of the choices we make throughout the day a chance to express your values. From the products you put on your body to what you chose to put on your plate three times each day, we have so many chances to show our morality. We have so much power over our actions which is ever present in the compassionate activism related to our food, our practices, and our world. “The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.” – Michael Pollen  The choices we make demonstrate how we exist within our environment. Imagine what else is possible with kindness. 

Practice kindness, make mindful choices, own your journey. What if radical empathy was the new black? 

children know radical empathy, thank you Tori for showing me what it looks like in the 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. 

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

Waking Up

coffee

So how exactly do I know if I’m having a spiritual awakening? Will I feel it? Will I know what to do? There is no way to measure or verify an exact moment when an awakening begins, or even how it will unfold, so I’m trusting my intuition and going with the flow.

Some people are morning people and some people are not. People are complex and diverse and every spiritual awakening looks different. Some experience their eyes popping open to a brand new revelation and begin their new journey instantly and full steam ahead while others have to rub their eyes and slowly adjust to the light of a new day. But, any way you “wake up”, the important thing is to begin the process when it is presented to you.

When I open my eyes every morning, I have a noticeable transition between the beautiful world of my dreams (which used to be nightmares) and my reality flooding in. I take a deep breath and try to choose a mantra for the day such as:

“Today is a good day to have a good day”

“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”

“Time to make the donuts”

Depends on my mood.

At first, it takes me a moment to get moving, but the two little girls staring at me and breathing their morning breath into my face are not always sympathetic to that. It’s just me and the girls most mornings, so I have to hop to it as soon as duty calls.

Coffee helps.

I normally have to patiently breathe through those first few moments, set my intention quietly, and rise up before I’m ready. Stumbling for the bathroom, I hear the demands, the whining, the complaining beginning pretty immediately. I remind myself that my girls have just woken up as well and it’s even harder to manage those early morning feelings when you’re only a little girl.

I take a lot of deep breaths in the morning.

And then it occurred to me. This waking up I do everyday is a mirror of the awakening I have been experiencing for the last few years. My awakening is happening a little bit at a time, and I have to work with what I have here in my life. I don’t always have control over when I wake up, when I go to sleep, or whether or not I sleep through the night. So, I have to adapt, adjust, and roll with it without losing sight of my “why” and how much all of this means. There is a lesson in all of this and I trust that I’m learning it in the right time. I’m exactly where I need to be. During an awakening, you may learn things that take your life in new directions. Learning to let go and peacefully flowing with that momentum can be comforting. We only get to do this life once and regret is the worst thing to own.

So even with a few steps backwards along the way and little sufferings peppered in with the beautiful moments, I’m slowly rubbing my eyes and opening them to new possibilities and the idea that I can become a more peaceful and balanced person. I believe the capacity for enlightenment is the same for all people although not everyone is capable of recognizing it. I also think that our degree of feeling awake changes in different moments and states that we experience, and that’s ok.

As with most things spiritual, the act and result of experiencing an awakening is unmeasurable and unverifiable. It’s up to each of us to label and define our own journey. So, whether your eyes pop open in a revelation or you have to slowly adjust to the light, roll with your awakening and be grateful for another day to enjoy it.

Every day is a good day to have a good day, but it’s up to you to make it good.

The Art of Happiness

young love

A common lesson that keeps showing up for me on my journey is the idea of attachment vs. letting go. I believe Happiness is an art form and to enjoy it you must learn to cultivate your talent like an artist. Without this understanding people rest in a state of disconnection from true joy. When you plug into and internalize this idea you have learned what I believe is The Art of Happiness.

To learn any craft takes a healthy dose of discipline, the discipline to understand your own methods and patience to establish the most effective way for you to enjoy your art form. One thing that has not changed for me, not even for a minute, is my desire to change, evolve and succeed. I needed to learn The Art of Happiness to move forward. It is that urgency, commitment and discipline that have helped me internalize the lessons of attachment, one of the more challenging assignments for me personally.

Most of the suffering that I was experiencing, and that I see around me, is from people trying to control and shape every inch of their lives. There is never a moment to just accept and enjoy the moment as it is. Letting go is about understanding how the story you create and cling to is what is causing your pain, your fear, your stress. Clinging to something does not mean you keep it. It means your hands are occupied when what you really need is right in front of you. Learning to acknowledge attachment means you can begin to let go of what is not serving you.

A good way to absorb this lesson is by taking a look at the difference between attachment and love. Attachment is based in fear and dependency and focused on the self. Love without attachment is about giving to others and not asking anything in return. How much of your life is based in attachment and how much is based in love?

A wonderful example of this distinction is young love. Falling in love when you are young can be a stubborn, whimsical attachment to all you have learned love is supposed to be. Whether you have found your soul mate or are simply attached to an idea is hard to understand. Later, when you learn how love changes through time in every relationship around you, your tendency to attach and let go may change as well. With wisdom we can learn how to manage love, patience, cravings, desire, sadness, aversion, fear and all those human emotions that make us vulnerable. When you become brave enough to sit with your vulnerability and just experience life happening around you without attaching to it, you have truly let go. 

Feeling happiness is an art form, it takes time and desire to cultivate the skills needed to manage a happy life. Feeling true happiness means learning the difference between love and indulgence, appreciation and extravagance. When you let go of overindulgence and embrace gratitude for what is, you let go of suffering. One of the hardest things to do is let go of something you really want, but that’s the only way to truly hold on to it.

“Stress is an alarm clock that let’s you know you’re attached to something that’s not true for you. A thought is harmless until we believe it. It’s not our thoughts but our attachment to our thoughts that causes suffering.” -Byron Katie

“Sometimes we are so attached to our way of life that we turn down a wonderful opportunity simply because we don’t know what to do with it.” -Paulo Coelho

“You only lose what you cling to” -Buddha

photo courtesy of kakisky on morguefile.com

The Empowering Journey From Never Enough To Perfectly Imperfect

578378_10152068172130234_1799414788_n

At so many times during my first 40 years I’ve wasted energy feeling like no matter what I was doing, it was just never enough. We are all human, we crave connection and validation so we often fall into traps of guilt or obligation to satisfy what others need from us. At your core, no matter how much confidence, ability and talent you possess, you have the desire to be loved and feel safe and accepted and will often go against instinct to achieve it. Maybe that’s human nature. But, action should come from a place of love, not a place of obligation. We are all born with potential that we may not recognize initially. It’s time for me to turn off this tap that spews energy in the wrong direction. It’s time to stop pouring myself into the expectations of others and begin to cultivate that energy and direct it inward to myself.

Why do we struggle? We look around to see how others are perceiving us and what they are demanding from us, when at the end of it all, it was only us who created our own story. The minute you stop paddling so vigorously against the current and let go, it will all flow. “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are” – Chinese Proverb

The only constant, the only thing we all have every moment of our lives is breath. Breathing in and out is a universal constant if you want to sustain life. Another universal constant is change. One day, the breathing will stop and your story will be over.  Before you get there, change will happen over and over and you will be there to see it all. You are not now the same person you were when you woke up this morning nor will you be this person when you wake up tomorrow. That is life. That is living. Why would you waste a single breath, in or out, taking in or giving away energy that doesn’t align with your true life intention? Do what creates what you believe to be the greatest version of yourself, not what others think will bring you to such ends. Breathe every breath.

Are you becoming who you are meant to be? Or are you letting yourself become what other people need you to be? Can you let go of the negative path to perfection, and start to accept and relish the perfectly imperfect life that is yours to enjoy? “If this is what you are doing with the negative, imagine what you could do with the positive” – Maya Angelou

When you embrace the idea that you will never be perfect, and accept that you will be the perfect version of you, life will begin to flow. Pour your energy into yourself and who you want to become. “Strive for progress, not perfection” – Unknown  And, when you have learned all that you can and grown as much as possible from someone or somewhere, it’s time to move on to your life’s next master class. There is so much left to learn, so many mistakes to learn from.

“I want to be all used up when I die” – George Bernard Shaw

Be who you are.

I am again grateful for my friend Shannon and her pretty toes showing us how to truly let it flow

Previous Older Entries

myhappypromise

(function() { window._pa = window._pa || {}; var pa = document.createElement('script'); pa.type = 'text/javascript'; pa.async = true; pa.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https:' : 'http:') + "//tag.perfectaudience.com/serve/507e0153f16a97000200001c.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(pa, s); window._pq = window._pq || []; _pq.push(['datasphere.track', 'BDSP-12593449']); })();
%d bloggers like this: