" You need to learn to select your thoughts the same way you select your clothes every day.' -Liz Gilbert
Thoughts are powerful when we do not manage them properly. If you are on my website, then you know my work is based on my 14-year journey through Anorexia. This debilitating disease focusses greatly on thought, or the voices in one's head that feed ironically the eating disorder. My thoughts would beat me up 24/7 without fail. Recovery was the first time that this notion of being able to change my thoughts was placed in my hands. I could not even consider it when I was at my worst in the disease, but over time when I opened myself up to idea that I could change the thought pattern.
Choices. It was not easy, it is not easy even today, but I know that I can do so when I need to.
How do you allow your thoughts to define your journey?
Do I challenge your thoughts when they don't mirror who I you are?
How can you practice naming your thoughts more honestly and openly to better the path you are walking?
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How often do you think of your life in terms of wanting to be secure? We want all that can be in order, for our family or for ourselves. If we can put all our ducks in a row as they say, life will be at peace. But will it? Nothing is really ever solid or dead set in stone. The adventure of living, breathing and existing is that we cannot predict what the next will be no matter how hard we try to do so. The bottom line is that anything can happen at any given moment. So, with that in mind, why not risk? Why not try something new? Start small and work up to the grand steps, but do not hold back. Life is too short to go along with the ways of that we are told. The gifts, the adventure and real passion for living lies in the risk, the unknown!
Release. How hard is it to allow others to have their own experiences without judgement? We have been living in a time where people feel it is their right to judge another person's experience. The truth is, it is not ours to judge or own in any way. Maybe we do have an opinion about someone else's journey, actions, or choices. But truth be told the issue lies within ourselves. No doubt that whenever we find the need to comment on another’s situation or experience, it likely is because we do not want to face our own struggles or experience. Triggers happen every day all day from almost anything. What if you began to see them as a gift that will allow you to grow, heal, create and be? What it you simply allowed someone to have their experience without comment? Release yourself from the need to be in others journey.
Who is the first person who ever told you to 'stop crying?' This statement rings true for so many of us as we were brought up and in this world during a time where emotions were frowned upon. Admittedly, times are changing and there is a better understanding of the value of expressing our feelings. Still so many of us hold back in fear of others' impressions of us when we express our pain. I believe it takes great courage to be true to who we are and honest in how we feel in any given situation. There is a difference in over sharing our emotions and healthily expressing our real humanness. When we learn the difference and walk through this world without fear, people will engage in the true person whom they see.
How do you define Grace?
In my life I can recall multiple moments where I may have noticed a situation as a moment of Grace. And as I think back, I see that Grace can be quite diverse, each situation with different happen stances.
One definition offered a courteous goodwill. Isn't that the truth. Grace is the ability to be a witness to others even when they may not deserve it, understand it or want to receive it.
How can you be Grace to someone today in your life?
Is there someone who you have been struggling to get along with whom you may need to be Grace towards?
Take a good long hard look...
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I have a client who is struggling to hear any of these words. It has been a difficult journey with this person. I care deeply for their existence, for I know these words to be true for them. I know that there is something deep below all their suffering and pain. I know what others see are not the person that they are truly. But sadly, I cannot make this person trust, believe, embrace, and own these words to take a new step into a new beginning. I am not going to turn my back, which would not be true to who I am. If others had turned their back on me through my struggles and pain, I would not be alive today. So, I will be present. It does not make me naive, ignorant, or crazy. It makes me human. It means I know how to be human to others in their worst moments. I think our world would be an incredible place if we spent less time judging people for their wounds and mistakes and lend a hand asking them what they need. Sometimes, they just need someone to sit in silence with them, other days they need someone to listen without suggestions or judgement. Mostly...they need a friend to believe these words for them. If you come to me, I will always give you the benefit of the doubt. I will not walk away. I will not be walked over, but I will be present as long as I can. Do not give up on people. Their stories do not define who they are or their present.
This is timely...Are you woke? Do you know what it means to be woke? At different times of the year people are called to behave in these ways during religious high holy days, Thanksgiving in the month of gratitude and holidays. Somewhere along the way we created these times as the only times to be a good human. Have you ever considered the reality that we should stay WOKE all of the time? And when we get to this place, to do so humbly. Be a good human because it is the right thing to do. Be a good human because your neighbor, friend, sibling, parent, or stranger needs someone to extend a hand to them with no questions asked. If you are missing this point, you are missing out on an amazing part of life. The rich stories, the human need and connection, the lives that around you with so much to say. Somewhere today someone needs you to stay WOKE. Can you do that for me? The world would be a more peaceful and better place if we all did so.
I don't know many who start off their week with 100% energy in taking on Monday. We are coming off a weekend that often had as much energy with family or personal commitments. We may have been able to go on outings, hikes and have wonderful meetups with friends. Starting off the week going back into a routine and schedule can be difficult. Personally, I start with silence. It could be in any form whether you meditate, pray, or sit on your porch with a cup of coffee and listen to the sounds of morning. Taking a moment to breathe in the silence and find your calm is the greatest way to begin your day and week. Find gratitude in knowing you get to start off the week and find gratitude in knowing you are responsible for how you walk through the rest of the week.
"In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion." -Robert Camus
At some point along the way rest became something that was selfish and weak. I want to change that back to what is true. If we don't take time out to rest and nurture ourselves, then we cannot be in the world as a whole person. Rest is vital to living.
I want to normalize retreat.
When is the last time you took a moment more than an hour to rest?
Have you ever been on a personal or spiritual retreat?
If you had an opportunity to go away on a retreat, what would that look like?
What kind of retreat would you be looking for?
Now, go make that happen!
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Owning Our Pain
Do you own your pain?
What intense words. Many of us cannot even bare to acknowledge our pain let alone own it. We walk through this life doing everything in our power to ignore it, cover it up and dismiss it.
To own our pain is to embrace its presence and the story that we walk alongside hand in hand.
To own our pain is to admit that its presence is a core wound in our lives that has defined who we are today.
To own our pain is humbly embracing our weakness knowing it is making us stronger for the steps we will take forward.
To own our pain is to show our humanness, a common denominator for those paths we will cross.
Pain is complicated.
It breathes in the depths of our bodies seeping from our skin. I have experienced how it shows itself through physical ailments. It can speak through one’s body when we don’t have the words to speak of the pain.
I have lived through pain in a mental capacity that captivates the soul and hides within one’s darkness until it is spoken aloud.
These words and survival modes are not foreign, they are common. I believe most experience pain and emotion in similar ways; we just deny ourselves from talking about it.
Why? Why are we so afraid to talk about something that is true and real for each of us?
Our lives are lived often in a theater for the world to see only what we choose. We hold back. We keep within those stories of pain and human weakness close to our heart, for we fear we are alone.
We fear what others think of us. We fear that one will only see us as weak.
The truth is we are not alone. Each of us walks through the journey of life with stories. We walk with pain. We carry ourselves in ways to hide from the world.
We need to stop the charade. It is time that we begin to walk together in the messiness of this life. The lessons learned in healing are what we offer to the person next to us.
Then there is the other side of that idea where the pain we hold often leads us to not embrace our accountability. When we feel our pain, when we experience our pains core; we let it take on our lives in ways we wish we it hadn’t.
It is easy to project what we are struggling through onto another.
I have done this more than once in my life unknowingly, for the pain was too great to understand or process. I have had others hold me responsible unfairly for their pain, as they projected their journey into fault rather than owning their role in the pain that they suffered.
We all can easily be a part of each other’s stories and pain, but we also need to recognize when it is ours to own.
What role do you play in your pain?
What role do you play in someone else's pain?
Imagine if you could answer these questions in the healthiest of manners that would allow you to heal, to grow and be a presence on the journey for the person next to you who is suffering unknowingly.
Embrace the gift in owning your pain.
This week I posted about Blooming in Brokenness then I remembered this photo I took a few weeks ago. I love flowers, but they are a treat to have in the budget. This particular trip I took a photo to remind me of the beauty. This morning I woke thinking about blooming in our beauty. Some would call that ego; others would not even be able to embrace the idea. But why can't we celebrate when our path takes us towards the positive, the good and the beautiful? Why must it be compared to pride? I think it is just as important to celebrate the good than it is to reflect on the challenges. On our path there are moments where we truly earned the beauty that has been blooming around us. Life is hard on most days. Celebrate where you bloom in beauty the same way you take on every aspect of your life. Someone is sure to benefit from your experience!
This stood out to me today. This could really have so many different meanings for some. I can list three right off the top of my head. Last night and this morning I did something out of character, I engaged in an online post. I engaged very respectfully in an education mode around my work to something around body image. I did not receive the same polite response back. So, I tried to again respectfully explain where I was coming from, no attack and not trying to 'put anyone in their place.' I merely was offering up conversation to think a bit differently so that we could change a narrative that being one way, or another was the only way to be. Again, it was not received well. I apologized with my humble reasonings for the post and left the conversation. I did receive some positive feedback from others through my page, but I had to remember that you cannot change anyone but yourself. I can continue to educate and help through my work but going outside the realm into an unprotected thread is suicide. How are you participating in a problem where it has come time to simply, let go? How can you honor your feelings in a situation without being harmed emotionally in the process?
Blooming in Brokenness
What does it mean to ‘bloom in brokenness?’
Whether you want to see it, believe it, or embrace it, we all are broken in some way. We all are walking through this life finding our way, discovering our path, and trying to embrace our voice in the end.
Our stories are the heart of that journey, and within those stories are our brokenness that teaches us the lessons of everyday living. Our brokenness heals us. I will say that again, our brokenness heals us.
I know that sounds contradictory, but it is true. Our brokenness is ultimately what is challenging us to learn and grow from the wounds that life inflicted.
When we bloom in our brokenness, we give meaning to the story. When we bloom in brokenness, we honor the bruises of our life and the weakened steps we climbed. We put aside shame and pride to accept our humanness. Our knees may be tired, pained and covered in grime from crawling through the mud of our life; that is in honesty the beauty within the blooming that is always happening through those pained moments. Without that grime, we do not get to see the seeds bloom that have been planted from the very beginning.
Life is not meant to be a perfect garden; life is lived in the rocks.
What is your brokenness?
How have your wounds guided you to this moment in your life?
Can you see the beauty within the pain?
If you do not pause to take valued time to gaze at that pain, you are not honoring the journey it took to get to where you are standing today. Your pain is not bad. Your pain is not a Scarlett letter.
Your pain is valuable. Your pain is a mark of living fully.
You are living. You are breathing. You are always blooming.
We are the first ones to always dishonor our pain. We look at the person to the right of us to see how they are living; we slowly glance to the person over to the left of us to see how they are managing in the mud. We compare our pain to their pain. When we do this, we disvalue the steps we are walking through our life with comments like, ‘it is not that bad.’
Is it to you? Is your brokenness valuable to you?
That is all that matters in this moment. Honor it. Heal it. Let yourself bloom from the pain. Do not live in the mud when the garden’s beauty is calling you to share what you have learned.
Bloom in your brokenness so that others could take in the beauty of you.
Today I am walking in grief for someone who was very dear to me. She played the role of a mother in many ways, and I wouldn't be who I am today without her in my life. I am grateful to know she is free from pain and as another dear friend exclaimed to me, 'SHE IS WHOLE AGAIN!' Knowing this eases the pain, but I remember that grief is a journey, never a destination. I have lost many, too many, dear friends in my life who I still grieve years past. Each road through grief, I learn something new about myself and the journey I walked with the person who left this world. I embrace all my emotions, good and the not so good, knowing that they made up the relationship that I had with this person. That is love. That is gift. May you always remember that your grief has many layers and there are no time limits on when it is supposed to be healed in the end.
Are you teachable?
Let's face it, we all have our moments when it can be hard to hear from another person what we may be doing wrong. Take it a step further and how many of us have the hardest time asking for help?
Who would have thought it would be my children who would teach me my greatest lessons? This was a very long time ago, but it is one of my most favorite photos. While they are teenagers now and more apt to be arguing it out, they do in fact find moments like this one where they help each other. I watched them bicker to no end, then an hour later help each other with homework. I sit back in awe at how they have no fear to ask for help in these moments.
Don't get me wrong, they have their moments, but these are the ones' that remind me the most to embrace humility when I need help. It is not something I was able to do often, for if showing a weakness or lack of knowledge growing up, that became the focus. Over the years I learned to ask and even harder to receive help from others and it has opened up my journey with countless gifts and lessons.
Take a moment to look at your life...can you ask for help?
What holds you back from being teachable?
Take one risk today...allow someone to teach you.
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What a powerful thought! We are all guilty of doing this. We cross off our to do lists as the day goes by, which can be cathartic indeed. We look forward to that swipe, delete or pen just taking away the constant projects that never end. If I were to ask you about each of those projects, I wonder how present you were in their execution? Or rather were you just trying to get through the task at hand? Did you miss the teller at the bank who was having a distressing day and could have used a moment of sincere engaging? Did someone smile at you as you walked down the street, but you were too busy thinking of, 'what's next?' What if we paused on Monday morning, took a deep breath, and started off with presence? What if we did not look at the start of the week as a means to the end? What if we celebrated presence, slowed down and appreciated each day for the gift that it is?
Can you forgive yourself for the times when you were learning to become? This has been in my heart lately. Life is not perfect. We are always learning, always evolving, and honestly just trying to show up to what is in front of us. We all wish we could have made better choices at times, but we cannot go back. There comes a time where we need to forgive ourselves for the times when we were not perfect and just trying to survive with what was our story in a particular moment; we need to be forgiven as well. I believe both can be done by learning from the journey past and using those lessons to be a better person forward. Being forgiven also involves action when one is able. Making amends is one of the most powerful actions you can do if it can be done safely. Sometimes, these experiences not just teach us, but can teach others that none of us are perfect; we are humans doing the best we can to show up in this life.
Are you breathing?
Have you ever had anyone ask you that question before?
I have. Often.
Many years ago when I was struggling with my whole self, I walked around as quietly as possible as to never be noticed.
I wanted to disappear among the people I was with in the room.
My dear friend would stop and ask me, 'Andrea, are you breathing?' He went on to exclaim, 'you are worth the air you breathe.'
I remember wanting to crawl deeper within myself when I heard this, I could not fathom. I was never told I was worthy.
But, taking it in for yourself, if you will, breath is life.
Do you pause to truly breathe and fill your lungs with the air that keeps you alive?
Do you recognize its worth, the value, the gratitude?
Today, I want you to pause in your breathing.
Find gratitude and worth.
Remember, you are worthy of the air you breathe, air not all have received in such a gift.
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We all have a body story.
When I write these powerful words, ‘uncovering our body stories,’ I imagine they elicit some sort of inhibition or fear. I know that to be true for myself. It is an action statement.
It is foreign for some to even consider, though they are the ones to whom it is so telling. Any sentiment that generates strong passion or emotion inevitably mirrors something within that needs to be addressed.
Does that sound familiar?
Understanding our body is hard enough, but to accept that it holds us in a way that can decide how to live our lives fully in the present moment, can be quite intimidating. Arguably any concentrated focus on oneself is often a challenge.
It is an action statement that can incite emotional pain and honest clarity that we often avoid in our lives. It is not to say our body can only breathe negative memories; indeed, it is equally common to take hold of the joyous stories as well.
We savor a first kiss, the soft touch when we engage to hold hands with someone we are getting to know. Some have the honor to cry tears of joy at the kick of a baby as it grows inside. And some days a hug from anyone can bring a person from crisis mode to safety and comfort in a matter of seconds.
I often write and speak of owning our stories; I learned years ago that they are the map of the road we travel yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our stories are always resting at the core of who we are and who we can be when we walk in vulnerability and exploration. Our stories live within us; sometimes hidden away not by choice, rather in survival mode.
It is easy to assume that we do not have control over our body’s stories; though in the end it truly is a coming home to ourselves when we embrace courage to give these stories voice and honor them as we should; they are the core of who we are becoming.
It takes patience, there are no time limits. It is possible.
If we were to look within society at how people engage in behaviors such as drinking, sexual encounters, self-harm to exercise and food addiction; we come to realize that it all comes back to the body and the story we hold within. We exchange substance and negative behaviors for honest presumed clarity out of fear for the unknown.
I didn’t even understand this concept until I, myself, entered recovery for disordered body image over two decades ago. Up to that point, I unknowingly tried to disconnect from my body in every way possible. I knew intuitively I didn’t want to be aware of this shell that was attempting to carry me through life. I knew that for me my body was a source of pain for the darkness was ever present when I paused to acknowledge an emotion, a feeling, or the overall presence it embodied.
I silenced its cues. We all do this.
Once I began to understand what my body was asking of me, I could no longer deny the truth in the body’s emotions which it held. If I used behaviors, I did so knowingly. I was accountable. I believe many can relate to this. I was challenged to continually ask what kind of life I wanted to live. I had to find the courage to live this life that formed in my answer, rather than the one I was hiding behind.
As much as we try to run away from life and have others believe that was the only answer, deep down we need to face ourselves and core story. If the answer were honest, I knew it meant I would need to uncover the otherwise unattractive stories that lingered through my pain. But the alternative was not living fully.
Do you find yourself hiding from life behind behaviors or your hidden stories?
Our bodies hold so much more than we realize or want to admit. When we have the courage to pause and to listen with compassion, our world begins again.
We all have experiences in life which clearly lead us to our distorted and negative feelings around our bodies. In our apprehensive eyes it was nothing we felt needed to be processed. It was in the past.
Well, that is clearly the effortless way out and the absolute most harmful route in thinking anyone could take on this path to awareness. Honestly, those stories within our bodies are dictating every move taken each day whether we want to admit it or not.
Are you living by the stories you are running from?
The hardest realization is accepting there is never an end point. But if we could sit in gratitude realizing that we are going to be always growing, learning, searching, and healing; the road doesn’t look so dark.
We must uncover, identify, talk about, and release these stories to fully love ourselves and our bodies into the present moment. As we do this, we begin to live a fulfilled life.
Can you imagine living a life this freely?
The key piece of awareness is recognizing that it won’t happen all at once. It is a lifetime process. It took me as long to walk through the stories, while life is always creating more stories; so, it will be a process to unpack the stories that need more awareness and healing.
We all have body stories. Some stories are so much worse than others. But without minimizing each other’s stories, we understand the importance of walking together. We are constantly living and re-writing the stories of our life.
Do you know what your body stories are today?
Trust the body.
Trust the feelings.
Trust the impulses.
Trust the knowing.
Trust the resistance.
Trust the story.
Trust that you deserve to be free.
Explore this topic more on our upcoming Fall Women's Retreat: Finding Your Voice & Embracing Body Wisdom!
Here is the thing. You are going to be OK. Tomorrow always comes no matter how bad the day before us fell apart. You always can get a second chance. If we didn't make mistakes, we would have nothing to learn from and we would miss out on the amazing wisdom and friendship from those we ask for help. Saying no is self-care. We can't be everything to everyone all the time. If you don't start with yourself, there will be nothing left for anyone else. It is not realistic or healthy to have every single person like you. That's what makes the world an amazing and unique place; we all bring something different to the table. Be you. You are beautiful. You define that beauty and no one else. And when you begin to believe this, you will be able to honor, recognize and access the strength that is within you. That strength is what allows you to take on the world today.
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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.