Seasonal Alignment Renewal

Hey Beautiful People.. how are you? It’s a beautiful summer day and if you're familiar with the seasons in Minnesota you know that's something to celebrate. I hope that you are enjoying life with all it’s ups and downs – and being the example of love that you are as best you can.


To live more fully in the moment I've noticed a desire to slow down and savor each moment as best I can. Most days I do alright at this task. I stay balanced. Other days I find that I'm indulging. Do you do that, too? It’s almost like the nicer weather, the sunshine, all the summer fests, functions, and fun win over doing the things I know I need to do for my own alignment in terms of my personal life, my home life, my biz life, all the lives. With equally relaxing and hectic summer days upon us it's easy to find ourselves off our routine.

Maybe we are one of the true champions – the ones that are showing up for yourself regardless of the season. Shit, maybe summer allows you to thrive! If that’s you, GO GET IT! I am most definitely rooting for you.

My truth?  Summer throws me off a bit. This looks like putting off my daily practice until later in the day because I want to sleep in. It might also look like skipping some intentional physical activity for, let’s say, a patio.

I have absolutely no problem not noticing the rug that needs a definite sweeping when I’m off joining in on last minute plans to see the classic movie The Neverending Story that just happens to be playing at 2:30, outside, for only 5 bucks. I can’t miss THAT! Falkor!? On the BIG SCREEN??!! Yes.

And what about that friend that calls and says, “Hey Annie! I just picked fresh veggies from my garden, want to come over for dinner?” The combination and friendship and food is pure gold and high up on what matters to me - I’m gratefully seizing it.

This is no big deal - until it is.

I know you know that moment when you’ve finally reached your threshold. There’s some discomfort due to the lingering (and perhaps a bit guilt-tripping) thoughts of not doing what you know is best for you, that sensation of being a bit frazzled, and the disorganization and overall cleanliness of your home has simply gone too far. Finally it’s enough and you are propelled – sometimes frantically so – back into movement. Back into routine. Back to a sense normalcy. Back into your fierce self-love game.

So, like, we can do life this way. Sure. It is summer and I am all for living in the now. I believe changing our lifestyle based on the seasons benefits our health and that flexibility is a completely undervalued personal skill. I value community and connection and I chase feelings of joy like a kid. And, tomatoes just simply taste the best in the summer and truly like a gift from the heavens when they come from a friend’s garden.

Enjoy these moments. Savor them. Seek them. And, revise your routines and priorities in a way that allows you to stay consistent with the things you know bring you into alignment and support your stay there while keeping the positive forward momentum going on whatever passion project you’ve got cookin’.

We don’t have to wait until we can’t take it anymore to figure out exactly what it is we need. We can sense the discomfort earlier on – yes, but this feels tricky to me considering I find myself having a high threshold for pain at times.

And so I wonder…

What if we were able to lessen the expectations we place on ourselves while still living in our integrity? What would life be like if we were able to accept a more fluid way of being without beating ourselves up? How much freedom might we feel is we stayed grounded in the mindset of, life is a long-ass-journey so let’s keep it enjoyable while taking wise action?

My idea? To learn our seasons and adjust how we show up in the world in response to them. We can intentionally choose those glorious good feeling feelings of flow and alignment while slowing down and enjoying life.

I believe living this way demonstrates a kind of self-love that doesn’t get talked about enough. The kind where we allow ourselves to be human first and foremost. It honors how we want to feel over everything else. That’s radical. It puts soul-nourishing at the center of our life.

I’m sharing with you my process. I call it the Seasonal Recalibration. It’s the same approach I share with my clients when they find themselves feeling like they must perform at the exact same caliber all.year.long. and are simply tired of that way of living. I use it more than 4 times a year and encourage you to use it as frequently as you need. Remember, sometimes there are seasons within seasons. Don’t get caught up in how often you need to use it. Celebrate how committed you are to your own success.

Feels good to be the savior in your own life, doesn’t it?

 

Seasonal Recalibration

(In addition to the ideas below I suggest deep breathing as you bring yourself back to the plate…now, swing through..)

1.     Sit down and face whatever it is you’ve been ignoring or slacking on. We all have stuff, don’t lie. Acknowledge it’s there although it’s uncomfortable.

2.     Get clear on what the routine was before summer hit. Ask yourself what expectations you previously set that are now not working because your consistency has gone by the wayside.

3.     Pause and practice grace. Forgive yourself for not meeting this expectation. Recall the new way of being we are embracing – the way that mirros the natural rhythms of nature by creating space for and honoring seasons, the ebbs and flows.

4.     Rework your expectations to a way that feels good: not too much, not too little. Channel the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

5.     Create some way of new accountability. When we fall off we need structure to firmly yet gently hold us.

6.     Share this someone you love. Just by talking about it you’re way more likely to get back into the swing of things and stay there. And remember, the people who love you want to support you. Allow them that gift by embracing some vulnerability. Trust me, it will feel so good.

 

Dear friends, give yourself permission to plant, nurture, grow, and blossom and let yourself live in accordance with each phase you find yourself in. Nature gives us all the guidance we need. It naturally thrives. You will, too. Most importantly, you deserve to grow and live life in this way. The skill of consistency is radical self-love, don’t abandon it. Adjust it. Make it work for you, not against, at every given moment.

Feeling good is your birthright.

Now, I’m off to have a lay in the grass because, why not?

 

Xo,

Annie

Manifestation: Thoughts & Tips

Manifestation is a hot topic these day. In the spiritual circles I follow and engage with people are making the vision boards, writing the dream lists, and seeing themselves with those manifestations in reality. I love all of this and yet I know it’s not enough.

 I am not hating on the intentional practice of manifesting, let me be clear. I practice intentional manifesting, too. And I know that sometimes the manifestations I desire pale in comparison to what the Universe has in mind for me to have. We can dream small. We can doubt that what we truly want we can have… whether it be the money, the partner, the job, the home, whatever it is. I also know (from experience) that sometimes doing the practice of manifesting can produce an energy that is actually counter to what we need to feel to bring our manifestations to life.

Put simply, manifesting can make us feel desperate. We’ve made the vision boards and have written the list of our dream partner and then we get into this place of where is it? Where is he/she? Why hasn’t it manifested yet? How long is it going to take? When will it FINALLY happen? That energy of desperation stems from lack and ain’t nothing happening when our energy is aligned with lack. It’s law. I watched a clip from Gabby Bernstein recently and she referred to this as manic manifesting. It’s the place we go when we don’t fully trust and when we don’t do the energetic work of manifestation.

I love manifesting for the simple fact that it’s an easy doorway into the life of a spiritual journey. We all want things and when we hear this idea that all we have to do is make a vision board and say our affirmations in the morning and at night we are beginning the journey of living a spiritually aligned life. We are beginning to live more intentionally, and hopefully consciously. It opens us up to a world that many of us didn’t know existed. For these reasons I love that manifestation is popular.

 I truly want people to live fulfilling lives where their needs are met and their dreams are satisfied. I want people to experience ultimate joy and freedom with deep, deep fulfillment. I have seen through my own practice that manifesting can lead us astray from true fulfillment and into a land of superficiality. We think the stuff will bring us deep happiness yet it never does. Like I said earlier, the manic manifesting can bring us into an energetic state that blocks us from achieving what we want and attract those things we are trying to avoid.

 In order to manifest those things we desire, and we are entitled to desiring things, we must embody the energy first. We must feel the energy that the manifestation will gives us now. We must live as if it’s already happened. And, we have to release our desires and open ourselves up to receiving even more than we imagined.

Quick Tips for More Effective Manifesting

1.     Get clear on how the things you’re trying to manifest will make you feel. If it’s a partner you want really be honest with yourself about the feelings you’ll have once they arrive. How will that perfect job impact your mood? What energy will you have when the bank account is no longer drowning in debt?

2.     Embody that energy NOW. If it’s money you desire begin to love and appreciate the money you have now. If a new home is calling you to live in your current home as if it’s your dream home. A loving partner? Well, love yourself just as you desire to be loved. Assume the energy and you’re on a fast track to making it come into reality. See your current reality through the lens of love and appreciation and trust that the next greatest expression and experience for you is right around the corner. HINT: this is a daily practice and you have to be committed to shifting your energy in order for manifesting to work. Find a way to hold yourself accountable to being more mindful of your energy and when you notice yourself slipping into doubt, fear, or lack gently forgive yourself and ask to return to the energy of trust and love.

3.     Remain unattached while paying attention. Don’t let yourself get caught up in a timeframe that you expect this to happen in. Instead, as you are embody the energy the manifestation will give you notice how the world begins to respond differently to you. Perhaps while you embody the love you want you start to notice how people are friendlier to you, they seem to be more connected and genuine. If it’s money you’re hoping to manifest notice those coins on the ground and pick them up. See the free coffee someone bought for you as a sign you’re doing the energetic work required for this process. Allow the process of manifestation to sort of like a game and use the clues to strengthen your faith in the process. Know deep in your soul that what is meant for you will always find you and enjoy the process of its unfolding as much as you can.

4.     Listen to your heart. I have found that manifesting works when I align it with what my heart is calling for and not my head. Heart centered manifesting seems to be easier, faster, and more fulfilling. We live in a material world and so I believe we should enjoy the material things that exist, however, I believe it’s crucially important to really connect with our most authentic desires and not glob on to what everyone else is desiring. Resist the urge to manifest things because you’ll think they will complete you or make you more acceptable.. listen to your heart and choose the life that’s most aligned for you, not matter how off the beaten path it may seem.

I highly suggest a daily practice where you intentionally align your energy with love, joy, happiness, and appreciation. There’s lots of ways to do this and may I suggest writing appreciation statements and journaling. For me, these are extremely effective and easy to do.

I send you all the love on your manifesting journey!

Forced Positivity Is Not The Jam

When I first began intentional alignment/mindset work I remember feeling some internal dissonance around what was being asked of me to believe and what I currently believed. It was a stretch. Here goes some of the beliefs: Everything is love. You are love. Everything is intentional. Everything is working in your favor. There’s no such thing as right or wrong. The world is a friendly place. Some of it was palpable and I integrated it with ease. Other beliefs plagued me at times, some were down right insulting (proof them shits were deeply embedded), and some created a deep feeling of sadness when they reflected to me my current stance. Truth be told I had experienced a profound spiritual moment months before I formally began the work and because of that I think I was able to buy in more. I felt the presence of love and knew, without a doubt, that love is all there is. There’s a difference between believing and knowing and what tripped me up was understanding the suffering of the world.. how could it all be love and racism exist? Sexism? Poverty? Abuse? On and on my brain tried to come to an understanding that honored everyone while still being firmly rooted in this expansive loving mindset.

It took me some time to learn the difference between being positive all the time versus doing the work to evolve my inner stance, or beliefs, about the world. It was easier to take the road of being positive than it was to truly unlearn and relearn. However, it’s necessary. Unavoidable. Eventually being positive just didn’t cut it and I was thrown into the ring for a deeper understanding and embodiment.

What do I mean by inner stance? They’re our truths; our fundamental beliefs about the world, how it works, and how it interacts with us. Do we believe things are happening for us or to us? Do we believe the world is a friendly place? It’s been helpful for me to think about it as my background programming. Seeing it this way allowed for software updates. It served me to pay attention to my natural response to the challenges of life. Was I hopeful and optimistic or was I complaining and feeling victimized?

Some truth: we live in a culture that teaches fear: the world is scary, it isn’t safe to trust people, it’s going to be hard and full of pain, etc. However, that is not the full truth about the Universe we live within. We live in a Universe that translates, vibrationally, to love. There is truly nothing but love here. If this seems hard to grasp think about nature. The loving intelligence that guides geese, the schools of fish, and the birth of spring, the stillness of winter, the currents of oceans, evolution for survival.

Just like nature that Intelligence is within us, too. It is desiring to guide us and wants nothing but the best for us. It’s our task to unlearn the beliefs that tell us life is not working in our favor and to adopt beliefs that remind us of this loving nature.

Think about how you would go through the world if you believed it was rigged in your favor. How would you interact with people if you believed everyone was your friend? What new depths would you experience if you trusted that every experience coming into your life was there to serve your evolution and growth? What risks would you take if you knew you could figure anything out (and was being supported to do so)?

Personally, this translated into living with a whole lot more fun. Life became lighter. Synchronicity and serendipity occurred with noticeable consistency. When problems arose, I found myself quickly moving through the heaviness of them and into the energy of opportunity. I would even go as far as saying life felt magical. It had a depth that forcing positivity did not. I smiled more. I saw love and felt love everywhere. And when I didn’t, I took it as a sign of my own growth. It literally feels like you’re always winning.

 

In addition to adopting general loving beliefs I’ve found it’s helpful to have go-to questions to ask myself to check in and see where I’m at. These are especially helpful when the shit hits the fan, when the real big triggers get activated. Here they are:

1.     What position am I taking?

2.     How do I see? What do I see from the position I’m taking?

3.     Where am I coming from?

4.     What position could I take that aligns more with love?

It really took me shifting my beliefs in order to unlock the flow that all of nature lives its life by. It’s not always easy to be the one who goes first. Deciding to view the world in a different way can isolate at times. Yet, once you take the leap and try this way of viewing the world for a little while you’ll never consider going back. Be intentional and create a life that loves you back, beginning with your beliefs.

The Gift of Eating (a lot of) Ice Cream

It’s a quiet morning in my home for once. The past few weeks have been nothing short of traumatic. I’ve learned so much about myself and my how I show up in my life in this short span of time. At times, and in the thick of it, I lost all control. I gave in to the critical, depressive, self-limiting thoughts and behaviors. I isolated. I numbed. I tried to run. That only made me feel worse.

 When our discomfort gets so unbearable we begin to change.

 Allowing ourselves to get to that point is a whole other post. But for today, I will talk about easing the pain during the moments in life when we seem to be stripped away of what we know and believe by becoming more aware and empowered with our thinking.

Through this journey of practicing alignment and strengthening my spirituality and commitment to love, I have learned how to become more aware of my thoughts and how they impact my beliefs which in turn drive my behaviors. Too often I would witness a thought and instantly judge it. Annie, that’s a terrible thing to say to yourself! Stop being such an asshole to yourself. Why are you still thinking that? It’s funny how I was being critical of the critical thoughts I was having. Some recipe for peace and satisfaction, I tell ya.

And then I decided to stop evaluating my thoughts so quickly. I decided to take my power back by being more deliberate in the thoughts I ran with. I chose to witness a thought, almost suspend it in time, and remind myself that our thoughts are not neutral and not 100% ours. They are either empowering, rooted in love, or disempowering, rooted in fear. From this place I can get curious and ask myself questions to guide myself through the moment without judgement. If I can accept that our thoughts come from one of two places and not take such responsibility for them I have more agency in shifting them. I don’t believe all of our thoughts are our own thoughts.. I believe we think things that we’ve been told to think, often times coming from a place of harsh critique. Unconsciously, we repeat patterns eventually blaming ourselves for it all.

If we can witness the thought as something outside of us we give ourselves the power to get curious and choose to either continue with the thought or change it to one that is truer, more connected to love. This is a gift!

Let’s explore. Last night I ate an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Truth be told, I’ve devoured more ice cream this past week than I did all summer. It was my attempt at soothing the discomfort I felt in my body. What usually happens is I wake up the next morning and feel some guilt and shame for my evening’s treats and begin my day from a place of failure. I wake up thinking of how terrible I am and from there on out, it’s a day of finding more evidence to confirm my established, shitty belief. Perhaps you can relate?

Today it went differently. I woke up and when the image of me sitting on my couch watching some bad TV, pint in hand, I told myself a new story. Old story: God damnit, Annie. You ate the ice cream again. Why? You know your jeans are already tight. You know you and lactose don’t jive. You know how terrible sugar is for your health. You know better and yet you still did it.. because you’re weak and a failure and you’re clearly never going to get a firm grip on your emotional eating. YOU ARE FUCKING UP. Why even attempt anything better today?

Painful. Harsh. Untrue. Unnecessary. Disempowering.

New story: Good morning, Annie… it’s a good day to be alive. Oh shit, the ice cream. Takes deep breath. Are you going to engage in a story of thoughts that makes you feel like shit or thoughts that forgive, understand, express compassion, and empower you to make better choices today? Yes. Yes. I want that.

Here it goes: Yes, I did eat the ice cream. I was coping and soothing my anxiety and discomfort with coping strategies familiar to me. Yes, eating ice cream in the grand scheme of things Isn’t bad. Yes, I am allowed to be human and eat my feelings sometimes. Yes, I do love myself despite the ice cream because my motive for the ice cream was rooted in love. So, let’s be honest. You’re returning to some old habits that have brought you comfort in the past but they don’t seem to be doing that now. Let’s just forget the ice cream and let’s choose to focus on today. What can you make yourself for breakfast that will fuel you, nourish you, and love you? It’s not the ice cream you want it’s how the ice cream makes you feel. Let’s be intentional today with practicing some powerful self-love because that is clearly what your soul is calling you to do. This is an opportunity to upgrade how you soothe and cope with the stresses of life. This is going to be fun! A game!! Oh, this is getting exciting now. How can I show up with love for myself today? What new things will I try? How can I grow through this? Huh… so the ice cream was actually a gift. It gave birth to a new approach to self-love. That’s pretty cool. Now, what are 3 things you’re grateful for right now in this moment? My bed. The sunshine coming in through my windows. That cup of coffee that’s calling my name. Good.. now, rise. Go out and continue to love yourself. You’ve got this.

And from there, my day changes course. My energy is aligned with more love. I found the gift in the overeating of ice cream. I have an opportunity to grow and learn and feel deeper love for myself.

This small practice of witnessing the thought before you adopt the thought is powerful. Mindfulness practices really help anchor this so that it becomes automatic and eventually the voice rewires in our brain to one of more love. Realizing that everything we do is leading us to love also helps. It gives us space to explore what each situation is serving up. Today, pause before you take on a thought that doesn’t serve you. Give yourself the gift of kindness, compassion, and love.

 

 

Loving All of Us

The past few weeks have been arduous, to say the least. I have been faced with situations that have really brought out the aspects of me that I sometimes refer to as ugly. I don’t like the word ugly but in fact it might be the most accurate word for some of my actions at times.

My Dad’s health, both physically and mentally, has been the main activator for my ugliness shows recently. He has been navigating through extreme gastro-intestinal issues causing him to lose about 40 pounds in 3 months coupled with a lifetimes worth of suppressed emotions making their way to the surface all at once. Twice he’s been admitted for suicidal thoughts. I can’t count the number of times he’s had emotional breakdowns in my presence. There is nothing more heart wrenching than seeing someone you love so incredibly much, suffer. To add to that challenge my relationship with my Dad has been rocky. For a large part of my life it’s been more painful than enjoyable to be his daughter. I have spent years in therapy working through issues and finding a path to forgiveness. Thankfully, with this work I have been able to view my dad with more love and compassion. However, when the shit hits the fan sometimes it feels like all our hard work goes straight out the window.

I have spent a lot of time in reflection mostly focused on how I’ve shown up in situations. Choosing love is a tricky path. Coming from a family prone to codependency and enmeshment understanding love has been quite confusing. As a kid when I would stand up for myself or addressed something that I felt was unloving I was quieted, negatively labeled, and pushed away. As an adult it’s taken serious intention to learn how to live my life aligned with love in my most authentic way.

This idea of loving the ugly parts of ourselves I believe is key on this path of living more fully aligned with love. I truly believe how I show up for myself, how I speak to myself, how honest I am with myself, how compassionate, etc. is a direct reflection of how I show up to the world. I know that what I put out I get back.

This is why I am using the word ugly. Ugly is a powerful enough of a word to allow me to feel the inauthenticity of my words and actions to spark lasting change. If I am not honest, and living with some integrity, am I doing my part as a human being having a spiritual experience?

To recognize something within us that isn’t aligned to love doesn’t mean that we allow our self-worth to be impacted by this finding. Rather, it’s an opportunity for us to act with even more love. For example, I saw that when my Dad didn’t receive proper care in the hospital I allowed myself to get triggered into fight mode. When in that mode I lack compassion and I deny myself the opportunity to speak authentically. I miss opportunities to advocate for him because I am too concerned with what wasn’t happening rather than focusing on what could. However, if I can name the fight brewing, know that when this happens I am thrown out of alignment, and love on myself in the midst of it happening, I return to love. I can achieve my goals without being a jerk. However, if I wasn’t aware of how I was feeling, honest about being ugly at times, and unwilling to be reflective, I wouldn’t grow.

And what if everything we experience is truly a calling, an invitation, to act in alignment with love? What if we are continuously being given opportunities to express the Divine, a force of love, in all we do?

To sum it up love all of yourself: the good, the ugly, the confused, the proud, the resistant, the scared, the brave. The aligned parts and the misaligned parts. Don’t be boastful nor deny the truth. Find the harmony, the sweet spot that allows the truth to come forth with enough compassion and understanding so that right after the truth comes creative, loving energy hoping to allow you to live a more authentic life. There’s nothing wrong with you and you are being called for more alignment each and everyday.

Remember, when we act in love we feel better and the world vibrates a little higher. Everything is a call for us to align with love and raise our vibration.

The Peace of Value Centered Living

When I reflect on my life I find that I feel most dissatisfaction in experiences when I allowed myself to act in a way that didn’t fully align with my values. This happens to us all, and to be honest, more frequently than we’d like, I believe.

 

The gift of identifying our values allows us a foundation, a guidebook, to support us as we navigate through life.

 

I woke up thinking about values. I think this occurred because we just wrapped up Thanksgiving and are quickly moving towards Christmas. I’ve always felt that we lose sight of our core values when life gets hectic, at least I know I can. I end up feeling disappointed with interactions or experiences for no other reason than for how I handled myself in them. I don’t hope for perfection but I do desire authentic alignment. I desire to stay mindful of what I believe matters in the thick of triggering situations. I desire to not go into auto-pilot mode and stay conscious and aware of how I am speaking and acting in any given moment. The holidays are like the Alignment Olympics in my opinion.

 

Value based living came to me this morning, I think, because I struggle with the consumerism aspect of Christmas. I struggle because I feel like so many people use the holiday to make up for moments in the year they haven’t acted in alignment with their core values. I also see it as a time when people tap into their values that they normally stay detached from. Finally, I see it as a great opportunity to continue to express who and what we are with those we love. The holidays are a perplexing time and a great chance to express our values while being aware of their presence, or lack thereof, prior to.

 

Self-reflection time: when was the last time you sat down and identified the core values that anchor your life? I know I hadn’t done this in years until I signed up for a mindfulness course this past spring. I had an idea of what I thought was important, some based on what society told me mattered, but I don’t think I could have rattled off my top 5 values to you in conversation. In the beginning of the course we were asked to identify our core values from a list of over 100. I remember sitting there reading over the list wanting to highlight all of them. I was totally confused, and overwhelmed, as to how I was supposed to choose just 5. And then it dawned on me. This desire to be a “perfect” human was being expressed in my own inability to select a few values that truly resonated with me. Because of this ah-ha moment, I was able to reflect on so many times when I threw all values out the window and responded from a place that was reactionary versus rooted in something greater. In those moments, the feeling that I had in the pit of my stomach was enough to make me nauseous. I had abandoned an integral part of me, a massive piece of my true identity. I had gone against a core belief without even realizing it. This exploration allowed me to see that so much of my own suffering was due to living life without a clearly defined set of values and an understanding of their expression in my life. As much as I wanted to believe it was because of what other people did to me, it wasn’t. It was because of how I was towards other people. That was a moment of awakening.

 

I believe we can continue to evolve ourselves and deepen our conscience when we do the work of identifying and understanding what truly matters to us. This process asks us to accept ourselves in a different way. It forces us to say, this is what matters to me and I’m satisfied with that. It asks us to begin to see how these values manifest in real time, how they influence our thoughts, words, and actions. As much as I desire to live a completely virtuous life without human error, it’s impossible. When I let this overzealous desire drive me I am left with feeling so many things, and most profoundly, frustration for my lack of awareness, shame for my abandonment of what resonates with me, guilt for being human, and sadness for my spirit.

 

I realize that being mindful of values places the spotlight on both moments when we act in alignment with them and, more importantly, when we don’t. Perhaps this is why people choose to avoid this work… it’s uncomfortable, even painful at times. I believe this is why I avoided. It’s much easier to go along with life and react to people in the same way they treat you than it is to rise above it and choose to be in alignment with your values regardless of the situation. It requires us to accept what is, especially the ugly moments, and forgive them. From my experience forgiving ourselves is one of the most difficult things to do. It exposes us in a way. Normalizes us. Reminds us that we are human and no better than anyone else. It removes our ability to point the finger and blame. It holds us accountable. Even more importantly, it gifts us an opportunity to remind ourselves of our own inherent goodness. It allows us to see the values that inspire others. It awakens us to love.

 

Without this accountability and radical self-honesty how do we provide ourselves an opportunity to grow? To remind ourselves of our goodness and the goodness of others? To focus energy on the good so as to catalyze and energize it? Put simply, how can we evolve if we aren’t being reflective and honest with ourselves?

 

I like to imagine a society where everyone has 5 clearly defined values and consistently acts with them in mind. I think about how day to day life would be, how people would interact, how things like violence, poverty, abuse, etc. would show up, how problems would be solved, and how much joy we would feel.

 

This dream isn’t impossible. In actuality, it’s easier to act in alignment with our values than it is not to. As humans, we are loving beings and so when we allow ourselves to act in this truth we are acting “normal,” although at first it may feel unfamiliar. I know you will agree with me when I ask you to think about a time when you acted in alignment with your core values and how you felt afterwards. Amazing, I bet.

 

I believe our current reality is begging us to do this work. It is crying out for us to get honest about what values matter and how we are measuring up to them each and every day. We can see the effects of our own abandonment of values on a macro scale by watching the news (I don’t think I need to expand on that), and on a micro scale by how we show up in our everyday encounters with our family, friends, and community. I believe when we sit down and take the time to identify our values we tap into our vision for our life. We give ourselves an opportunity to create a life that is rooted in our values identifying a life path that honors and supports them.

 

How do we do this work? Easy. Grab some paper and brainstorm a list of all the values you believe are important. This list could be 20 or 100. Next, prioritize. Really feel into each of the values you listed and identify the top 5 that resonate with you on a deeper level. After identifying, mentally, go through a day envisioning yourself acting with these values.. how do your thoughts change? Your actions toward yourself and others change? How does adopting this value shift your beliefs? Begin each day by centering yourself with these values and setting the intention to act in alignment with them. Trust that by simply setting the intention you will be reminded of them, especially when it feels like you’re being tested.

As we begin awaken our conscience in a new way we must be compassionate and forgiving with ourselves. The goal is not perfection. The goal is excellence. The goal is to have more moments of alignment than not, to simply do better each and every day. To give 100% effort to your life is a fluid practice. It changes. And so with that knowing gift yourself grace and patience. Allow yourself to show up however you are without shame or judgement. Choose to stay committed to the process and push yourself to not abandon your authenticity when the rubber hits the road. Reflect each day focusing more on the wins and all your goodness than the losses and know that each day we show up for ourselves through acting in alignment with our values we’re changing the world for the better.

Trust the ripple effect and set your wave of love in motion.

Building Trust and Peace Through the Contrast of Life

I facilitate a group of spiritual, empowered, amazing people on Facebook in a private group called The Aligned Beaconhood. Right now we are in the midst of doing a 30-day gratitude challenge. I love this for so many reasons but mostly because as we enter into the holiday season it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the flurry and frenzy and lose sight of the love that surrounds us. What better way to stay grounded then to lean into gratitude each and every day?

 

Today’s prompt was about finding gratitude for a past moment in life that we thought at the time might ruin us. You know those times I’m talking about. I’ve had my fair share and some are more painful than others. For this prompt I really wanted people to see the blessing in a major life blunder. Hindsight is 20/20 and with time we are able to see the beauty, gift, and blessing buried deep within whatever crap we experienced. We notice, eventually, we no longer feel intense emotion around them. Instead, we feel peace in our body. To me, this signifies that we have processed, healed, and evolved through whatever contrast it was.

 

Yet, as we engage in daily life, we can lose sight of the gift that each experience brings us. We react instead of responding. In a perfect world, or maybe when we are coming from a really aligned place, we can tap into that peace and knowing as the crap rolls out. It’s easier when life throws us smaller balls of contrast. When we get served a major ball of contrast we become very human and can seem to get swallowed up. We get lost. We lost sight of the bigger picture. I believe the more we engage in transforming past experiences from seeing them through the lens of resentment, anger, disappointment, etc. to a lens of the blessing, the gift, the purpose the better skilled we become at living in the now. With better skills, more awareness, and a remembering of the great game of life we don’t lose ourselves (as much) in the contrast. Rather, we can witness, recall, and trust. Those major blunders still burn and create intense emotion but our recovery back to knowing that everything has a purpose is faster and we feel better as we trudge through the muck and fog.

 

For the post I shared my experience of being fired. I had a career as a classroom teacher, literacy coach, and assistant principal in various middle and high schools. My LIFE was my career. My identify was so closely tied, enmeshed really, to what I did that when I lost my job, I lost my sense of self. I’ll never forget the day I knew I was going to be fired. It was an October day when I decided to express my feelings of discontent and disgust, in a very direct, intense way, to my principal. I had uncovered some really questionable (read: illegal) practices being implemented with African American students. I was enraged to be completely honest. Being the highly moral person I am I felt I had no other choice than to address the situation with the man in charge. I knew as soon as the words, “this practice is deeply racist and negatively impacts one of the most vulnerable populations of students in the school and you’re the ringleader” left my mouth my job was in the trash.

 

As I left his office I couldn’t believe what happened. I was in shock that I said what I said. “Where did it all come from?” I asked myself. I was satisfied with myself to a small degree that I had stood up for what I believed to be ethical behavior. I felt my integrity was intact and that felt good. But mostly I was like my life is ending. I remember driving home and repeating to myself, this has to be happening for a reason… this HAS to be happening for a reason!

In natural human form as I said it I didn’t fully believe it. Regardless, I forced myself to continue the mantra because anything else simply created too much fear. I battled myself. Thoughts ranging from, “what is going to happen with your life, what the hell did you just do, you’ve lost your mind, Annie” to “this has purpose, this is happening for a reason, it will be okay.” The former made me want to jump out of my skin and disappear forever and the latter allowed me to breathe. I had started a war in my own head and was deep in the trenches. It was painful and lengthy.

 

My only saving grace was forcing myself to believe that everything happens for a reason. Moment by moment, day after day, month by month, I repeated it to myself. I repeated it and repeated it until I felt a sense of peace. I cried, threw temper tantrums, felt all the fear, and then repeated it. I repeated it until I could accept what had happened without feeling like I was going to die. Literally. Once I allowed myself to trust in something greater than me at play I opened up to a space of greater clarity and some inspiration to move forward with my life. The surrender process was a beast and I surrendered.

 

Of course, as life would have it, it did happen for a reason. It carried great purpose. It propelled me to who I am today, a person who is genuinely happy, living a life that’s truly aligned with my passions and interests, and a woman who now has a knowing that most of life’s events can’t shake. It pushed me step into the unknown, to get honest with what I really desired for my life, and to muster up the courage to make it happen. It shattered me and then built me anew.

As we navigate through the Now and the crap of life creeps to the surface I encourage you to reach for the knowing that life is happening for you, even when it makes no sense. Especially when it makes no sense! If you’re in that place today where life seems to be happening outside of you and you’re just being pulled along for the ride, not knowing what on earth is happening, sit down with yourself. Engage in a practice of recalling past times in your life when you found yourself feeling a similar way. Tell the story from the perspective you have now, piece together the events that occurred with greater understanding, and remind yourself that life always has a way of working itself out. It is always working in your favor. And, you open yourself up to greater self-compassion. You learn how to hold yourself, soothe yourself, and be gentle with yourself. That alone is a major win.

As the holidays approach and emotions run high so much shit can come to the surface. Things happen that leave us feeling similarly to how I felt above: lost. Gift yourself the peace you know deserve. Dig deep into the knowing that life does work out through remembering your own journey, your own resiliency. You don’t need to understand it all to trust in the love of life. Just remember it will be fine. Hell, it might be better than fine, it might be super!