"Maybe the reason nothing seems to be fixing you is because you're not broken Let today be the day you stop living within the confines of how others judge you or define you. You have a unique beauty and purpose; live accordingly." - Dr. Steve Maraboli
Most often when we are walking through struggles in life our brokenness feels bigger than us. Others seem to have a harder time with allowing us to sit in that woundedness or brokenness feeling the need to fix the situation.
On my journey I have realized that healing comes when you take the time to embrace the brokenness not fix it. There are lessons to be learned from every single thing we walk through… We’re not necessarily broken as much as we are experiencing pieces that bring a wholeness and a fullness to the continued journey.
How can you be authentic within your own journey?
How do you live through your brokenness not allowing it to define you, rather letting it bring a new life to the steps you are walking forward?
How can you put aside other's judgements of your journey and simply step aside?
"Enlightenment is when a wave realizes it's an ocean." -Thich Nhat Hanh
Read that back to yourself a few times, then pause.
We use enlighten as a verb meaning to clear up, to remove confusion. Light is also a powerful metaphor for spiritual insight. If you have a great revelation about the divinity of the world, you could say you have been enlightened.
How does this idea fit into your life today? Where could you challenge yourself?
Check out more 3 Minute Retreats here!
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire that disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease to discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging -- in love, creativity and friendship --be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
Have you ever stopped to wonder what brought you here? Consider for a moment the wonder that enlightens your soul in the steps you are walking when you take the time to look around you and see it. We don't always want to embrace the responsibility of opening our eyes, for the path may seem scary or uncertain.
When we go within and truly to truly answer this question, a sense of longing comes to light.
What is your yearning desire?
Are you living it fully?
"Prayer is not introspection. It is not a scrupulous, inward-looking analysis of our own thoughts and feelings but it is a careful attentiveness to the Presence of Love personified inviting us to an encounter. Prayer is the presentation of our thoughts— reflective thoughts, as well as daydreams, and night dreams—to the One who receives them, sees them in the light of unconditional love, and responds to them with divine compassion. This context of thinking in the Presence, of conversation and dialogue with Love, is the joyful affirmation of our gentle Companion on the journey with God (Higher Power/Goddess/Spirit) who knows our minds and hearts, our goodness and our beauty, our darkness and our light." - Henri Nouwen
I love this photo...it reminds me of the countless prayers people ask daily or put out into the universe. It reminds me how diverse prayer can be for each person. You may not define yourself by one religion or direction, but you can still pray, offer up intentions and give positive energy to those in need.
How do you pray for others?
Can you stop in your day to see what others as asking of you and be that prayer?
Do you pause to acknowledge your own personal prayer requests?
Check out more 3 Minute Retreats here!
"When practiced to its fullness, mindful eating turns a simple meal into a spiritual experience giving us deep appreciation of all that went into a meal's creation as well as a deep understanding of the relationship between food on our table, our own health and our planet's health." -Thich Nhat Hanh
What do your meal patterns look like?
Are you rushed or aware of the act of nourishment?
Have you practiced mindful eating?
This is one of the trademarks on our retreats. It brings you back to the core of your body awareness.
It reminds us how to listen to our hunger cues. It brings us into a deeper gratitude for the full complexity of what food is to us.
Take a moment and pause today.
Put your fork down after each bite.
Feel your fullness.
Check out more 3 Minute Retreats here!
"Faith cannot be negotiated. It requires courageous testimony!" -Pope Francis
We are walking into a new season.
We have faced obstacles and challenges that have surprised us in ways we couldn't have expected or prepared for as we acknowledge the lessons learned as priceless.
Today, as you find yourself coming back into the every day life practices, what surprises you most?
Go deep within and ask yourself what it is you need for your journey in this new light?
How have you been holding back?
What lessons learned from the past season can help you bring them to fruition?
Check out more 3 Minute Retreats here!
If I had spent so much time on waiting to become whole before I shared of what my journey has been, I would never be where I am today. I would not be as far along the road as I am in this moment.
The journey is a constant learning tool, we all need the courage to embrace it!
Once we embrace it, we need to manifest how we can share it with others.
Our experiences help others on becoming whole.
How can you share your journey today?
How will you honor what it means for you to become whole?
Check out more 3 Minute Retreats here!
Today was a day where it felt like it was more than I could hold coming off an already intense week. This past week, I wanted to scream, cry and rant. Then little whispers fell into my lap; unexpected conversations, surprise prayer offerings, hugs from the not so little's and I remembered I was already holding it.
So, I allowed for the blessings of tears and the story they were releasing. I took deep breaths before I reacted. I got really honest with myself and others I needed to. Then...I accessed my own words I often write, took a step back, and I did the hard things. I kept going...
Today, as a family I felt we all had these feelings with the end of the school year approaching this Friday, a total destruction of my laptop unintentionally by our dog, new schedules arising for our trio and some uncertainty. So, I took us to the labyrinth. Our go to release, prayer, meditation and family coming together.
My word I left at the labyrinth's center after walking was fear and I decided to take with me for the continued week ahead, trust.
How are you taking a step back today?
Can you identify a word or feeling you need to release?
What word will carry you onward?
MORE 3 MINUTE RETREATS
Vulnerability, Courage, and Owning Story
I am walking into this ongoing conversation that brings us together on the journey.
We all find ourselves vulnerable at one point or another in life. And that is ok. It is better than ok, it is courageous. It is human. When we are vulnerable, we are truly living. I need to remind myself of that truth more than I do. We access our courage regularly, but I am going to bet not many of us recognize that courage or can name it.
Between these two very poignant ideas is our story. We all have one. We may not always voice it, embrace it, acknowledge it, or have the space to stand in it as we fully need, but it is there. I have walked down many different paths within my story. Some days it is a battle I do not want to see, and other days it is a victory I want to celebrate. The one key piece I recognize is that it is mine to own. I find when I own my story in the rawest vulnerability and truth, it is only then that I am paying attention and living my story.
If I were to dwell in the silence of fear, I would not be here. Do I doubt the process at times? Hell yes! I do not have enough fingers on which to count the times where I have put myself out there to then question my sanity in doing so. I can even tell you about the many times where I ended up wounded and feeling more desolate. Though I would not take either back or apologize for this courage. When I take leaps in sharing of my story, I am certain it is for another needing to hear it, needing the support and needing the important reminder to keep going.
I had a recent quite raw and emotional unexpected time when my vulnerability was screaming as I found myself drowning in my uncertainty and past trauma. We all experience one type or another of trauma, it is just defined differently for each of us. It tends to appear at different moments in one’s life with more reason that we are able to understand. There is no shame in identifying it, rather courage in walking the road, side by side understanding it. I have found that my vulnerability and trauma go hand in hand on my journey. When I am able to name the trauma, it has less power over me allowing me to learn the lesson being offered. When I embrace the vulnerability without shame, it helps me to walk through it with more self-awareness and ease. The trauma that sits within anyone’s being is often their unique personal story that is waking within the soul. This is the story. The release happens when the balance in one’s journey aligns. It is not always easy to define, but when we take the pause, it breathes within our bodies and tells us of that time when courage lifted us up. This story is what holds us all together collectively. When we speak our stories with each other, we inadvertently could be saving someone else from their shame, darkness, or struggle. Consider this when you are wanting to sit in the silence.
For the first time in a long time, I was struggling deeply to name a new trauma coming through. I have a clear understanding of my story, so that there are not too many surprises. The surfacing of its story hit rough roads and challenging ditches that I knew I had to hike through rather than leap over. I had not been prepared for it having felt I had crossed over from more processing. The lessons we learn in these processes are reminding us that we are always continuing, we are always finding our balance, we are always writing our story with the lessons that keep us going.
Once I found the courage to reach out to ‘my person’ it felt like I was treading water endlessly. I literally could not catch my breath. This is not something that I am new to, but in this timing, I knew to be more exposed. The raw nature in which I struggled to admit that I was walking, allowed for my vulnerable self to suffocate in a comfortable shame I embraced. A shame I did not know was true or present until the fallout. A shame that perhaps I created. A shame that belonged to the trauma and not the courage to ask for help. It was not my shame to own, it never is. The vulnerable me wanted to explain myself. The vulnerable me wanted to hide. The vulnerable me wanted to desperately give up. Is that an option? No. Do I wish it could be an option at times? Yes, in the raw pain, I do.
Some days we wear our trauma and our story loudly. We do not always mean to, but there are just moments we simply do not know how to hold it in our hands. It overflows needing us to ask for help to carry it. I know there are moments I find myself too tired after years to hold it any longer. Those are the moments of frustration when I know too much to be ignorant to the hard work in walking through it. I struggle to find my courage most at those moments as do we all. I am certain of the gifts that will follow.
Though the moments of gratitude are more, the moments of gratitude are stronger, the moments of gratitude are what keep us going knowing there is a good to each word we put voice to and step into as we continue to walk. We must remind ourselves that the gratitude will come when we are in the middle of pain and the gratitude will carry us through to other side. Can you trust this process?
I continue to write about my journey often over the years, it is what keeps me grounded. I believe in owning our truth. I believe someone who locked away in their shame, vulnerability and fear needs to hear others’ stories to find the light.
When you hide the scars, when you push down your woundedness it only allows you to create more trauma on top of the trauma you already have experienced. When you hide you are not honoring the courage it took to survive. You are not honoring the story that made you who you are today.
I am not afraid anymore to talk about this journey. I learned when I talk about it, it releases the power I once thought it had over me. I learned when I talk about it, I continue to heal. And it allows me to embrace healing as a lifelong journey.
I used to think that I could be ‘healed’ completely and move on never to look back. I believe that is what got me into my struggles and battles within myself. That is why I believe we must remind ourselves as I am doing here of our vulnerability, courage, and story.
I want you to keep your eyes open. Anyone can look amazing on the outside, but the stories inside are suffocating those same people around us that we cannot see. We need to hear the whispers telling us that we are not done on this journey, we do not get to decide. We need to embrace the stories, ours and others remembering the lessons are gifts. We need to stop thinking about ‘me’ or ‘I’ and know there is a great existence guiding ‘us.’ People need to know they are not alone. We are walking side by side. We are all a work in progress.
Today consider recognizing your vulnerability.
Today consider acknowledging your courage.
Today voice just one piece of your story.
I am listening.
Here is what I propose…just for today.
I propose we do not find gratitude’s in what was this last year.
I propose we do not search through our lives for the things we want to release.
I propose we do not fixate on the changes in our bodies that this past year has brought to us.
I propose we do not focus on the immense loss and challenge this year brought to our lives, businesses and relationships.
I propose we do not make lists and lists of what we want the next leg of the journey to be like starting tomorrow.
I propose we do not look at today as the one day that is going to cure what was…
…and instead, just for today, breathe.
No other tasks.
Tomorrow is just another day.
Tomorrow we will keep going.
Tomorrow we will get up and continue as we have just like every other day.
The only difference is that we are missing countless people due to illness, war and life's challenges who do not get to take another breath tomorrow.
Ask yourself, what is important…just for today.
Today is Thursday. Just another day to some.
Today when I woke up. my gratitude could not be measured.
Today I have 17 years of recovery from Anorexia after 14 years of fighting, 4 treatment programs and endless hospitals.
Last October I wrote about what turning 50 meant to me. It was unexpected to say the least.
What you may take for granted. some battle fiercely on a daily basis.
Without too much stress you rose in the morning, enjoyed a simple breakfast, worked out a bit, showered, dressed without too much thought and got on your way.
Someone battling an eating disorder wakes and is surprised they made it through another night.
Someone battling an eating disorder may find themselves struggling to get out of bed due to a lack of energy and depression that consumes their body and mind.
Someone battling an eating disorder may lay in bed in tears for the thought of eating breakfast is just too much to face.
Someone with an eating disorder cannot think of doing any of the things you do in routine without traumatic results.
Someone battling an eating disorder is feeling lost, alone, judged and wishes the world would turn away.
What comes simple to you is the most difficult road one with an eating disorder will stumble through.
I don’t want to forget.
The journey I walked allowed me to grow and heal in ways I never imagined possible.
The journey I walked was lonely, but I was not alone.
Recovery does not look perfect.
Recovery looks different to each one walking through it.
Recovery is a journey, not a destination.
Saying ‘yes’ to life will always be a way I honor those who said yes to me when I most needed it.
So, today, I will always mark the occasion in gratitude...because I remember.
I remember today is a gift as I get to experience the other side of recovery.
I remember today those who I have walked with that did not make it as far as I did.
I remember today those who still battle body hatred in every breath they take.
I remember today those who are fighting to be able to write a similar story.
If you know someone who is battling this disease or you yourself are quietly fighting…reach out.
I am here.
I will listen.
I will not let you be alone.
You can recover.
You can love your body.
You can love yourself.
You can come to the other side.
You can find your voice.
I will be waiting for you.
Today I am unapologetically 50.
This is me.
I have thought for a long time on how I was going to approach this day with great uncertainty. I wrote this as a reminder to myself. A reminder to keep going. I understand it may sound harsh, but in my life, it has been a needed reminder as far back as I can remember.
There is no shame in truth, only courage in honesty. I know I am not alone in needing this reminder.
I was supposed to be walking into Santiago de Compostela, Spain today. It has been bittersweet to postpone, though walking the 480 miles virtually in my home of Southwest Virginia over the last few months, I tried to feel the connection I yearned.
The one thing I have consistently shared with trusted friends and mentors is, ‘I never expected to be here this long.’ And while it drives them crazy to hear, I think deep down they understand.
As I walked, stumbled, climbed, and dragged myself through fifty years, it did not always look like I would see another in each one that passed. Many repeatedly express surprise that I ever made it out alive on very specific stages of my journey.
My life seemed to be challenged since the beginning growing up in San Francisco private Catholic schools, graduating on to a vagabond lifestyle travelling through Europe and across the country many times. I went from each adventure with my life on my back trying to discover who I was from religious life discernment and ministering to the sick and dying in Lourdes, France to young adult ministry taking me through prominent moments as preaching in the steps of Jesus in Israel on pilgrimage. There were endless speaking engagements as a motivational speaker at heart sharing the healing journey I walked to bring meaning, depth, and purpose to the pain, then coming back to myself through the gift of motherhood.
I am always honest with the fact that I have survived many hurdles most do not, though repeatedly would not change one thing. I would never wish my journey on my worst enemy, and yet I am grateful for walking it. Yes, grateful. My journey blessed me with gifts, lessons, and friendships I may never have had otherwise. Mentors are my guardian angels, for in every form from teachers to religious, to faithful friends they have guided me in this life.
Years ago, my life was about full-time ministry. I remember care-free times of getting in a borrowed car, grabbing my backpack, and just stopping at Missions and Monasteries up and down the coast of California for weeks, praying with monks and religious as I was invited in. It was a beautiful and meditative free-spirited time embracing many stories and accessing my gift of intercessory prayer along the way. I took from their journeys and tried to find where my own would lead. I could always live a life for others before I remembered to take care of myself. I held onto those stories and prayers of all whom I encountered in my life predictably to escape my own.
I would not recognize this until further down my journey. I lived my independent years wildly and without fear as a minimalist. I thrive in simplicity; it fills my soul. I moved often for adventure. I thrived in risks. The collage of men and women that I met truly molded my spirit into where I stand today.
Along this journey, there was a bigger story interweaved. I battled anxiety and depression for the whole of my life but did not utterly understand what that meant until the last decade walking through perimenopause.
I have walked the road of suicide more than I care to admit from childhood to adulthood, spending a lifetime trying to take away my life as much as live in it. I trusted and knew darkness more than the light. Though when I finally admitted the pain and opened up the story in the depression, it was revealed the anxiety was as great a part of the journey, a truth which still has its moments.
It’s fair to say my eating disorder of 14 years was my greatest hurdle. A journey of 17 years in recovery in which doctors and counselors from treatment programs and hospitals have written me letters over this time sharing how they never thought I would walk away alive from anorexia.
My eating disorder existed through all my experiences taking away my dreams of further ministry, losing the love of my life and leaving me very lost. When I had nowhere to turn, I ran away into a marriage at an attempt to be normal. As I am blessed that I received the gift of motherhood unexpectedly in my health, truth revealed later to be determined in heartbreaking ways as I became a single full-time mother. I still never have found a partner who knew what he had was a gift, and I now love myself enough to not accept anything less than my worth.
I am grateful for so much in my life. Without the trials I have had to walk I would have never met and treasured some incredible people in my life today. Today, I’ve needed to reflect by looking back and seeing how I’ve been blessed travelling extensively through Europe and Ireland in my young adulthood, to driving across country next to five times, witnessing the glorious beauty that is hidden to those who never risk to see it. I have driven the backcountry roads without fear and stood in the middle of the desert screaming with no one around, feeling the enormity that is this life. One of my ‘I can do anything moments’ driving from Virginia to California in a two-door tiny car with all of my possessions and two young children as a single mom reminds me on my tough days.
Then there is my heart where I pilgrimaged to Lourdes France nearly a dozen times living in the Dominican monastery and ministering in the baths of the Grotto of Our Lady to sick and dying pilgrims. I remind myself that in 2001 I was the very first woman that they ever placed as a Hospitalier in the Grotto itself. Today I do this ministry from afar still helping people reach the waters, stay in the monasteries, and find healing on their journeys through prayer. It has been such an intimate part of my life, that I am now documenting it in yet another book. I need the reminder that I was needed.
In my most sacred ministry I have walked with too many dear friends down the journey towards their end of life and I’ve sat with as many unknown souls as illness took them to their final rest. My heart is so much in this place of peace with them. While lives are lost, it undoubtedly renews my faith.
I look back in surreal ways to my ‘98 Israel pilgrimage of 28 young adults with two Dominican priests, one being my mentor and dearest friend in the world, where I did the spiritual direction and mass coordination for the pilgrims and priests. As we prayed and explored the footsteps where Jesus walked, it was there that I preached the readings of good Friday in the church of the Holy Sepulcher. I did not reflect but I preached from a place deep within my soul and faith with a voice I was just learning to embrace. I must remind myself of those powerful words I still have today in my journal on worn notecards as they reflect the steps I promised to fight for and the steps I am still walking. I remember the emotions and tears of those who sat before me and listened. I hold that privilege close.
The number of women and men I have walked with through anorexia and bulimia while in treatment and on the other side of recovery is endless reminding me of the gift in which I received going into my 17th year of recovery. Many of those beautiful humans never saw the other side of their eating disorders as I have, losing the fight. My greatest passion is standing before those who need to hear my story of healing, hope, recovery, faith, and possibility. The auditoriums of students, conferences, hospitals, and treatment programs are endless. A gymnasium full of 1500 high schoolers to speaking before students at Yale University being sought after, to then the most treasured of all the treatment program that saved my life with a room full of those looking for hope from me where I had once sat hopeless. Those lives are why I am here today, they are why I do the work that many do not understand.
When I am blessed to receive an occasional email, phone call or social media connection from someone who had heard me speak over 25 years ago share that I made a difference in their life, I can only pause in gratitude. I, too, need that reminder that I am needed. That my life is valuable. A reminder that my voice still lives and breathes, never to be silenced.
I still must remind myself that I wrote a book. An actual book. It was not easy by any means, and I stopped countless times along the way for it felt too intimate to express. The most beautiful aspect that I love so much about this book and where criticism lies, is that it is not perfect. In fact, it has been pointed out to me. I simply smile and respond, ‘Thank you, I know.’ You see, I turned down publishers offers because I did not want to lose the integrity of the book’s message. For me, it was not about cosmetics and selling thousands of copies, rather if it helped one person it did its job.
The story and tools format that it lies in is what helps people, it is how I healed and I stood by that until the moment I pushed print at the urging of a friend. I did not look back and it was an extraordinary day. My voice, my story was finally being released and heard. Find Your Voice Project: A Journey Towards Healing. It is moments like those that make me think that I am meant to still be here. The darkness can be so very great at times, but the gift within the light is priceless.
As I am not a woman who takes someone telling me I cannot do something, I will always prove them wrong in the dreams I choose to follow. My business Anam Nostos House is the final place where I bring all of these years’ experience into one authentic voice and work leading workshops and retreats to help others find their voice, define their story and own the path they walk. It may not always pay the bills or bring me what others have…but it fills my heart for it gives my story purpose and meaning to remind others of their own.
I am a woman who does not like the word no or can’t. I prove any wrong 50 years and counting.
Here we are today.
I had been planning this pilgrimage to Spain for years. My dearest friend in the world, responsible in many ways for my receiving the care I needed when I was sick, died from cancer nearly 8 years ago. Shortly before she died, she asked me to walk the Camino in her honor. I knew I had to do this for her. Two years ago, I decided it was going to be the definitive time as the children were older now.
I have trained hard, I worked hard to save for it receiving donations and monetary birthday gifts to reach my goal and then Covid came. My savings quickly became survival of our family finances trying to keep us and my business going. The airlines canceled my tickets, the group I was going with is on hold and we are not sure when it will be a possibility anymore. I understood why it had to be, but at the same time I have been heartbroken. This was to be a time of renewal and rejuvenation for my soul and spirit.
The life I led prior had seemed to have disappeared for the current responsibilities of life leaving my heart bruised. This Camino pilgrimage was about so much more than fulfilling a dying wish, it was about so much more than an accomplishment. It was going to be about finding myself again, for in countless ways I have been lost and needed a rebirth. In ways, Spain would be that reminder to keep going.
No I didn’t expect to make it to 50, but I will respect what it took in every step for me to get here.
I will celebrate every wrinkle that represents tears of joy and sadness cried or laughter experienced, for those wrinkles are who I am constantly becoming.
I will embrace the gray that begins to cover me and be thankful that I have lived those years, when the odds were clearly against me.
I will see the true beauty and the scars upon my body, for they gave me two beautiful children and one in heaven. I may struggle in motherhood. I may feel like I am failing them at certain turns. But, I thank God every day for the miracle of their lives which were never expected to become a reality.
Those other scars I see daily on my body, the scars that sometimes others see remind me of the painful moments and times where I fought harder through death to discover a rebirth. They tell their own story. I do not want to cover them up or take them away. I will let them remind me that STILL I RISE.
Today, I am standing in my own power.
Today I unapologetically turn 50... I pray I can do it justice. I know there are many more lives who need to hear my story including myself over and over to be reminded that today is a gift, yesterday was a gift, and tomorrow will be a great blessing.
No one thing defines me, no one person can tell me who I am.
This is me.
So, today the Camino de Santiago begins at the door of my soul…
Looking for ways to be of service to others?