Today's 3 Minute Retreat is more of an ACTION STATEMENT for you as the weather begins to change and its importance grows urgently.
There are no two journeys that are identical, no two stories that are alike. We can all be walking side by side down the same road, but our stories will always be unique in nature, circumstance and existence.
I watch the world in all its rawness. It can be a harsh, judgmental, and critical world when you find yourself on the other side of another’s opinion. We see it daily in so many different positions.
One of the largest problems our world faces today is poverty, hunger and homelessness. The opinions to how individuals get to this point can be often exaggerated and wildly incorrect. I don’t know one person who finds themselves in this situation stating in their childhood that ‘when I grow up, I want to be homeless.’ It is not often a choice.
We must stop looking to the person on the side of the road and scoff, turn our noses up and then spew misinformation about their journey. The bottom line is that they are human, like you and me. They are humbly asking for help. It may not be the way you or I ask for help, but they are asking nonetheless, and I refuse to judge them for that which takes courage or for where their journey has brought them. They are human for it.
My faith community’s youth group created what are called ‘blessings bags’ recently. In these bags one will find small amounts of food and basic needs such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste and so on. I have given out two such bags as of late and I will tell you they were received with immense gratitude and a smile. This is something you can do without words or judgement. So, do a little internet search and make a few bags to keep in your car. Someone’s life will be changed for the better for it.
When we begin with love, everyone we encounter ends with love.
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We need to learn to celebrate the stumbles.
They are what are teaching us the greatest lessons and then fulfilling our journey even more by embracing them.
What stumble do you need to embrace today?
Life is hard enough on a good day.
Our journeys can feel bigger than you and me.
Every time you pause in your own worry, chances are someone is going through a bit worse.
How about we resolve to be compassionate, sympathetic and tolerant of others.
Imagine what human kindness can be to another.
I put this on my kid's bathroom mirror right in eyeshot of their face.
They are forced to ask themselves every day.
I am forced to ask myself every day. Imagine if we all asked ourselves every day…
Who are you choosing to be?’
It has been an ongoing conversation in our house for some time surrounding the world, politics and friends.
Young minds watching the world around them and wondering how are we not asking ourselves that question every day before we speak, act or make choices.
Something to think about…
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.
“When you come to the edge of all light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, FAITH is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something to stand on or you will be taught to fly.” -Patrick Overton
Faith is something that comes naturally for some, while others painfully try to acquire this mystery belief system that they simply cannot explain until they are weary.
Look towards the bigger picture.
Don't try to answer every question that lies in your path.
Just for today take something you have doubted, questioned, struggled to embrace and simply have Faith in its outcome for the entire day.
Do you see what I see?
Do you hear what I hear?
Are you searching? Do you know what it means to search within?
We can walk through life on auto pilot and forget to be aware of our senses. The life that is happening around us is telling a story on a never-ending reel, but are we paying attention?
Consider if you paused for a moment in your day and pointed out three things that were new to you.
Are you sitting in a café as you are reading this? Look up from your computer and make eye contact with one person briefly. Do you see a story in their eyes? Look deep. Listen with your eyes. Offer kindness with your connection. Are you at work? Pause and acknowledge a coworker in the moment that you are both standing in.
When we notice, we are living.
When we notice, we see.
When we notice, we hear.
When we notice…we receive.
What will you receive today?
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When you read this title, what is the first thing that leaps out at you?
It is a little odd, isn't it? Maybe.
This little task is another trademark activity of mine that I scatter through my work when guiding people on the journey. It came to me over 20 years ago in an odd assignment given to me by a counselor.
At the time, indeed, I thought it was crazy. 'I am not going to write a love letter to myself!'
At the time I didn't have much love for myself. I didn't think of one thing I could possibly say to myself that could be helpful. I fought it in every moment this assignment got pushed on me, until I finally wrote it. In anger and haste, as a joke to the person asking I essentially did exactly what they were asking of me to do.
The final piece was another very unique aspect my personal letter writing today, that if you have ever received a note from me, you know what I am talking about. She asked me to address the envelope in a way to compliment myself. 'What?!' I just couldn't handle this getting any crazier than it had. 'Fine, whatever, I will just do it to get over with.'
Well, when I least expected it one day, I opened my post office box on my way home from an exceptionally long tiring day at work. My spirits were pretty low, for it was a period where I was deep into my illness (anorexia) at the time. I pulled out the mail and read: 'To the Beautiful, Strong and Courageous Andrea'
Wow. I was not feeling any of these compliments in that moment. But, I read them. I took them in. And in that moment, I wanted to believe them. I wanted to remember that somewhere inside of me there was beauty I needed to embrace and own. I wanted to believe with everything in me that I was stronger than the debilitating illness that was killing my spirit and my body at the time. I wanted to own the courage that I so desperately needed to keep going.
The letter itself was something that I took in quietly and for days to come. But those three words on the envelope I would hold close to me for years to come. It wasn't the first letter I wrote to myself, and it won't be the last.
So, a few weeks ago, I sat down with my kids and I made them write a letter to themselves. They are already used to their mom's quirky ways as we are the house that makes weekly affirmation cards, keep monthly vision boards focused and always doing one form of meditation or another.
I asked them to think about what they might want to hear from their heart as school was getting started. Would they need encouragement, hope or even laughter? Whatever they needed, to write it down and not think twice. It wasn't supposed to be hard, long or involved. Then I asked them to seal it up WITHOUT me or anyone else reading it. They addressed it in their own writing and handed it back to me. I stopped and said to them, 'not so fast.' Yes, I made them address their envelope in their own unique way, however they felt they needed or wanted to read. I wouldn't tell them when I would mail them, and soon they forgot all about it until last week when they arrived in the mail box.
I watched as their faces lit up. They each went their separate ways into their rooms and nothing more was said. Once they read their letter they seemed lighter after coming home from school with reasonable stress. There was a glimmer. There was a joy.
My work here was done.
What are you waiting for? Go get writing!
/ˈseɪ.krɪd.nəs/ the quality of being considered holy and deserving respect, especially because of a connection with a god: I believe in the sacredness of all life.
“Whenever I'm faced with a vulnerable situation, I get deliberate with my intentions by repeating this to myself: "Don't shrink. Don't puff up. stand your sacred ground." Saying this little mantra helps me remember not to get too small so other people are comfortable and not throw up my armor as a way to protect myself.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
Her words embody the posture of wholeheartedness that I long to cultivate in myself. I want to be humble, I want to be honest. I want to stand my sacred ground.
How do you stand in your sacredness daily?
Do you find it challenging?
Do you sacrifice yourself to fit into others opinions of you?
How can you embrace self respect to stand in the wholeheartedness that your journey deserves?
Join us this November to walk into this conversation. We will be surrounded by the most beautiful sacredness that nature provides in the autumn season in the Asheville mountains. I am bringing together an eclectic group of presenters and women for this awesome weekend! Limited spaces are filling fast, private rooms, catered meals, and a perfect balance of rest, relax and renew! Sign up today!
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.