I have found myself walking through parts of my life on what feels like a conveyor belt. I am not someone who chooses to find myself in this position. While fighting for my work to be seen, I have felt myself drifting into this unfortunate and suffocating position.
I generally do not like to walk with the flow of people. I learned early on to find the path that is going to help me thrive in my beliefs, ideals, and passions. I use my voice louder than most. And…I don’t apologize.
As I find myself trying to thrive in a business on my own, I found increased pressure to conform. Every avenue of success is constantly telling me that I must sell myself. This is not me.
I have never wanted to be an Oprah or Brene Brown, though I respect them greatly. I am simple and quiet in that I know my story helps others and I love every minute of my work when I am doing just that.
If I did not have to be on social media, I would ditch the platform so fast. Though, sadly, I am learning that today businesses do not thrive unless you are very present in this arena, and you are willing to push yourself every chance possible.
This is becoming a problem. I am not the face of my work. I am not the main story, or at least I do not want to be. The story has allowed me to create work, retreats, and healing modalities to teach and guide others on how to own their personal stories. So… how do I bring this to others without sacrificing myself?
Inspired action. Two words that someone presented to me recently in place of motivation. Think about it for a moment. Motivation is really pushed upon us so often today. You see billboards that shout ‘get motivated’ whether it be for health, business growth or relationships.
Bottom line…it was feeling forced to me. I kept feeling like I was trying to sell myself or my product, when I see my work more as being of service. Then it was suggested to me to replace motivation with inspiration. Better yet, inspired action.
At first, it sounded too simple. But as I dug emotionally deeper, I began to really ask myself the question, ‘what inspires me to act?’
I am a person who strongly believes in ‘calling’ in every sense of the word. What calls one to act, to be, to work, to live and to love. In an instance I changed my pattern of thinking to what inspires me to act. Then, with such ease the path I felt called to take began to become clearer each and every step I began to walk. My focus came back to my original vision for the work I want to accomplish, and now with each step I am in fact feeling inspired. I am feeling the action and movements around my vision are becoming clearer in each direction I take.
Today, the definition of where I am taking my work is exciting and I cannot wait for the those who are called towards it to embrace it.
How will you take on INSPIRED ACTION today?
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"Our own life has to be our message." -Thich Nhat Hanh
What do you hear or speak to yourself when you read, 'Your Sacredness?'
It is not uncommon for many people to not even be able to hear it in terms of themselves.
How does one define Sacredness?
What does it mean for oneself?
Can I really obtain a Sacredness on my journey?
Not easy questions by any means. I am not asking that you know all the answers right here and right now. But I am asking that you consider it.
We often give more respect to those in our lives before we do so to ourselves. My challenge for you today is to consider it. Consider your Sacredness. Then do one thing today that will honor what you hear in the answer.
That will be yours and yours alone.
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Recently, I had an opportunity to take a few days for myself. This may not sound like anything grand to a normal person, but to a single mom always frantic over finances and keeping my self-made business afloat, it is always the furthest thing from my imagination.
The circumstances around receiving this gift of time were not the greatest. Something I had been working tirelessly on as well looking forward to within my work did not come to fruition. Honestly, I was heartbroken, but at the same time it was a learning experience in the end. It gave me a sense of peace for understanding the reasoning amidst the outcome and have faith in the continued progression of my work.
My work is blessing and gift to me. It is not typical by any means. And sometimes you just must accept that life must fall into countless separate places for others to embrace the offerings which I provide. I can do all that I need to do, but those hearing the call to attend must be willing to pause and embrace it. Some days it is bountiful and others gentle silence.
The piece I love about this work is I embrace the call each and every time an idea comes forth knowing those who come are embracing their own call. Again, not typical income by any means, but I would not change it for the world.
So, now, in this moment which felt like defeat, turned into a blessing I normally offer to others. A weekend to myself. I intentionally did not take any work with me on this weekend away. In fact, I took with me art supplies, my journal, exercises I usually lead others in on retreats and one particular project I wanted to give space to.
The first deep breath I took as I arrived opening the doors to the ocean before me, the blessing of tears began to fall slowly and freely. It took me by surprise, honestly. The next few hours I simply sat, breathed in the ocean, ate a mindful lunch, and took in the sounds around me as I sat in the sun on the deck. I was in awe.
I truly had not noticed that I had not given myself the gift of genuine rest like this in an amount of time that I could not even remember. I go for walks, I meditate, take little moments in my days. But, this type of gesture, felt like a guilty pleasure. As a mom and single one at that, I just recognize responsibilities need to come first.
I did not always feel this way on my journey. In my younger years I was particularly good at taking what I call a monastery day, twenty-four hours alone to just be. Though, as life progressed, and babies turned into teenagers who needed even more if you could believe that my self-care faded away.
If there was one thing, I learned this weekend that I wanted to take away, I want to stop running from life.
I deserve rest.
I deserve joy.
I deserve an occasional evening out to dinner or favorite brunch on a Sunday deck.
This day I am coming home to myself.
A sentiment I have felt in countless unique ways over the course of my lifetime and yet each time I get to this space, I remember it differently. When I keep myself so busy, I am simply running from life. I intentionally am running from the pause.
Maybe, it is because I am afraid more is going to be asked of me?
Maybe it is because I will have to see exactly the truth in needing to take my own advice to care for myself?
Maybe, because I know it will be hard. And who really likes hard?
Well, this weekend, I was challenged to stop running and listen, pause, rest, and begin again. It was time I needed to gain perspective on the path I have been walking and accept the challenge to change the things that have not been working.
Is it going to be hard? Absolutely.
Am I glad that I took the risk? Absolutely.
Am I ready? I am indeed.
Do not wait around for life to climb on top of you and take you down by continuing to run from it in the busyness. Get ahead of the sprint and take the hard road. You will be glad you did.
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We walk through this life with question, doubt, worry and stress often forgetting that our journey begins and ends with ourselves.
Is there something you want for your life that fear holds you back from walking towards?
Do you think that it is an impossible feat and only list off all the obstacles and reasons why it won't work out?
Imagine a life you want to live, then make it happen!
Your life is in your hands....imagine.
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I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. -John Burroughs
I honestly do not know anyone who can speak ill of the beauty of nature. While I may not enjoy some aspects like serious camping, I can never pass up a nature walk in our woods, a moment by the river down the road to just listen to the rushing water. I could sit for hours just staring at the beauty of an ocean to the glorious mountains my home is surrounded by.
What does nature look like to you?
The world is a often an overwhelming place with endless paths from joy to devastation. But think for a moment that when we look up at the sky, we are connected to each and every human being on this earth. We are all looking at the same sun, the same stars. Nature connects us.
The next time when you feel overwhelmed by life or that a sense of loneliness darkens your heart...look up and remember you are not alone. Someone out there feeling the same way you are in that moment is looking up and wanting to connect with you.
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I love this photo from a retreat I did last fall…
This is the beginning stage of our sacred space and alter as it changes over the course of the entire weekend.
This morning is your blank slate.
Anything can happen today, what are you going to choose?
What are you going to embrace?
How are you going to say yes to all that comes into your path today?
Blank slate… Get to it!
I often get asked to write about my minimalism. I have touched on it here and there over my life as people ask about my ways. But, trying to define it can be quite difficult.
Generally, people have very specific ideas of what minimalism looks like that are more misconceptions than reality. The book craze that you see all around us today can be so misgiving and misleading to the person making an attempt. These books are trying to teach people to have less, when minimalism is about so much more than just purging your house of mere things that don’t serve you any longer.
Minimalism is a mindset.
Minimalism is a way of life.
Minimalism is freedom.
Minimalism is choice.
Minimalism is awareness.
Minimalism is gift.
For those who know my story well, my minimalism was finally accepted and understood in deeper ways in my fourth treatment program for Anorexia in 2001. The counselors and doctors would continue to tell me that my need to ‘purge’ or live with less was solely connected to my eating disorder and need for starvation. But as time would continue to pass in my healing, the realization became much wider and deeper as to how it manifested within my life.
I grew up in a house where stuff mattered. Things were status. Looking like we had more than we actually did was a common ground. This specifically would be a leading cause in my eating disorder, for it became about the image and appearance of what I wanted to look like that was unachievable. Having moved out immediately after high school graduation, I was now schlepping my stuff from apartment to apartment in San Francisco. With each move, I dropped more and more. I was saving journals, papers and items that had memories attached to them that did not bring me happiness. I realized that this collection of items I was saving clearly came from the childhood and familial mentality in which I was raised.
Each move that passed, I let go of a little more of my past. My simple way of life was becoming a way for me to find my freedom within and to become who I was meant to be. The things I then moved from new living arrangement to the next would have deep meaning and purpose. Enter religious life. Somewhere in my early 20’s I began discerning an unexpected call to the monastic life. One would see the obvious nature of that of a religious to own nothing and have less. I believe at one point I lived out of a duffle bag for three years. I had no need for things as much as a desire to find peace. It became more natural and I was at ease with this way of life.
Today, as a single mom, I learned how to find my peace with some of what I cannot control. My two nearly teenagers understand minimalism and live this life with me to some extent. I am grateful that they understand the precious moments, stories and meanings behind the things they choose to keep. While we love our memory books and photo wall, it is our practice to continue to tell the stories as if we did not have those things. Those stories and memories live on within us rather than those things that remind us. In turn, they then find they don’t want to hold onto as much. I have let them gently navigate this path for themselves.
It can be true that our entire life has an ability to fit into our SUV as we rent homes furnished with no wish to purchase a home. As it adds to our adventurous living, it strengthens our gratitude. We each have a memory trunk that carefully fits our most precious items that tell each of our stories. It is as simple for myself asking ‘Do I want this, or do I need this?’
You can imagine that need is the correct answer, while at times I do appreciate self-care and have found myself with the occasional want which can be bring me joy, we hold no judgement. My children I give a lot more leeway as they are growing and learning needing to discover who they are as young people. Essentially, their thought process is being molded to this understanding. For this, I am grateful to engage and watch their journey.
The process is simple. Look around your life and ask what gives you peace?
What are you searching for?
Do you find yourself with things that have no story connected to them?
These are the important lessons that I have learned, to which I can offer, and you can try to embrace simply within your life. The world is filled with so much everything. We can leave our footprint kindly, gently while living our story more fully.
Why not discern the path you are walking more closely, to be able to live freer than you could have ever imagined living?
Welcome in Church. Welcome in family. Welcome in social scenes. Welcome in one's heart.
While I don't think others purposefully dismiss those around them, it is easy to forget to extend the simple kindness of a gesture, a word, an invitation to be present with another.
Just for today; stop in your day and take notice.
As dire as a homeless person feeling a welcome smile, to someone within your work day whom you normally see sitting alone needing company.
Just stop and be present today.
Welcome someone in...
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Andrea creates, builds, and offers her teachings and hands on life tools based on her journey healing her body image after a 14yr battle and life of trauma. Her vision always is to help others live a full life with the journey they are given.