When self-love isn’t enough

Self-Love is a term I think we are all hearing more and more, almost to the point I question it’s integrity.

Do you really need to love yourself wholly and completely to be satisfied within a relationship?

I don’t believe this is always true.

It’s more difficult to build a healthy relationship with yourself when you haven’t experienced it with another.

Experiencing another’s deep love for us in a healthy relationship can teach us how to love ourselves more beautifully. Many people learn to love themselves by first being loved by another. If you grew up in a house that displayed healthy love and support, you are more likely to mimic this in adulthood. Ideally, we would be healthy, whole, and complete before we started the relationship journey with another. For many of us this isn’t the case.

We naturally mimic what we see. Being loved deeply by someone changes you

It is unlikely at this point in your life that you have made it without being wounded. Somedays, I honestly see it lurking around every corner. But I can also see where the world is teaching me to love more beautifully. Whichever one I focus on grows.

The proper love, affection, and attention from another may be the key to believing you are loveable. When someone loves you completely and vulnerably, you feel cherished and in turn you learn to love yourself more. If you are both on a journey of self-love and healing, willing to grow, share, and change; it can be the beginning of an exciting and beautiful adventure together.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu

We must be willing to share our needs, wants, desires, dreams, to create healthy alignment within the relationship. This requires vulnerability and courage. It requires us to have uncomfortable conversations. When appropriate, it may require us to look past our own needs and put the needs of another first; at other times we must voice and enforce to have our own needs met. While our needs and another’s are separate, they can work synergistically. Growth and healing becoming more powerful as a unit than individually.

Part of learning how to love yourself is being loved by another as you need to be loved. Some of us can achieve this by envisioning this love coming from our creator, a perfect and complete love. For me this is also a key aspect to loving myself and those around me. But its a piece of the puzzle, not the said and done solution. I believe it to be a dance, between creation, myself, and another.

How do we manage when our partner doesn’t cooperate with our needs and wants? When their actions speak louder than words?

Growth and healing are not one sided. While expressing your feelings and needs, if your partner says; “You need more retreats to find your self-love” this is not effective communication and balanced responsibility. If you feel your needs are not being taken with seriousness and compassion you may need to self reflect to decide what steps to take next.

Evaluate your relationship. No one is perfect. It’s not a rate your partner on a scale of 1 to 10 question. It is an evaluation of: how is your relationship? What would you rate your relationship together as a couple. All relationships are a choice. It’s easier in the beginning when you are intoxicated with oxytocin, dopamine, and passion; obviously not thinking clearly. Once this euphoria wears off we can find reasons to run away from even the best relationships, when we focus on things that our partner falls short on. If your relationship as a whole scores poorly, it may be time to part ways peacefully. Relationships are our greatest teachers, and sometimes they reveal what we do not need. This is equally as powerful as discovering what we do need.

Evaluate your needs. Ask yourself: What do I need for my partner to give? What do I need from myself? There is a unique balance of what you need to give to yourself and what your partner can give to you. While we can’t expect our partners to fulfill our every need, we should be able to trust in them for our core desires. It is ok to crave loving attention and connection, these are beautiful key aspects of being involved in an intimate relationship.

Communicate your needs. Describe what you are feeling and see from your point of view. Use I statements such as “I am feeling….” avoid making any statements of “you make me feel…) this stunt effective communication and puts our partners into defense mode.

Set boundaries with each other. When you communicate openly, you each know what it expected of the other. When boundaries are crossed or needs are repeatedly not met, open communication is important to help alleviate frustration and keep you moving forward with healthy patterns. Have the courage and vulnerability to speak up before you start to replay scenarios in your mind and the offenses begin to multiply. Let your partner know what you expect and desire, explain how this creates feelings of love and appreciation. Ask them what actions you can do to reciprocate these same feelings for them.

Know your partners love language. If you have not read, The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman; I suggest you take this quiz to help you determine you and your partners love languages. Knowing how to show your partner you love them is a lot less of a guessing game when you can speak their love language and communicate love in a way they can hear it.

When we communicate lovingly and speak truth with compassion, we often discover that we are far better together. Our relationship with another can be a journey of deep intimate connection, ocean of healing, and limitless spiritual growth.

Live righteously and love abundantly,

Elizabeth

Risen

Our circumstances can give us the power to rise above

I woke up early enough today and with enough energy that I decided to take out my journal. I knew it had been awhile, but when I opened it I realized I had not journaled since the day before Ash Wednesday. For the entire Lent season I had not opened my journal once.

I read my last journal entry. Wow. It was very powerful. I’m not going to share much detail but that at the time I was feeling lonely, invisible, and needy; but ultimately it was about a realization as many of my journaling’s are.

I am going to share what I wrote today though, on Easter Sunday.

Easter is the symbol of resurrection. Resurrection is revival, rising again, renewal.

As I wrote this in my journal the same Bible verse that came to me as I open my eyes this morning came to me again.


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

This is not a promise to immediately rescue me from hardships or suffering, but a promise that God has a plan for my life regardless of my current situation. If I allow love to work through me and not let the circumstance define me, if I refuse to hold offenses or bitterness inside me, I can find health and prosperity in the midst of the tribulation. This is what the resurrection symbolizes to me. That even after the darkest day when all hope seems lost I discover that the tragedy, my “dark night of the soul”, was required to get me to where I am, it was the path. To develop, cleanse, restore me into who I am today.

Who am I today as compared to that dark night of the soul? I’m confident. Confident that no matter what I endure – I will prevail. That I can and WILL use trials, tribulations, obstacles as tools to grow. I will allow them to reveal and unleash the healing power of love that resides within me.

How do I know this? Adversity doesn’t build character- it reveals my true nature. If I can sit in my own discomfort and pain and not run from it, refusing to be discouraged or offended; through my adversities I can come to know myself. I can tap into the gifts of Grace, Compassion and Love.

I’m learning to extend these virtues more to myself as well. Even though the actions of others towards me could be seen as judge mental, hurtful, or even hateful – I can give Grace and Love to the situation. Not because I deem it to be ok, not because it doesn’t matter or hurt, but because I know it is the way to true freedom. I can choose to percieve actions and words as a reflection of personal wounds. Not a reflection of who I am or who another is. I believe under all the layers there is love, whether we choose it or not. I choose to have faith, not just in thoughts, prayers or words; but in action. A sincere movement, an outpouring of love and caring.

I have made the choice to love – no matter what. My past, present, even future, and all those that have been a part of my journey. I am grateful for the souls that I have shared this journey with.

Am I perfect? Heck no. Far from it. I speak as though this was a fluid movement but it’s not. It has far less finesse and rhythm than my words above portray. There have been many tears shed, waiting, reflecting, outburst, anger, screaming, sleepless nights, despair, mourning; repeat – but on the other side of it all – I have made the choice to love no matter what. With each day, each choice I come back to grace, love, compassion – I have seen in this beauty rise from the ashes of my intentions. I am growing, learning and discovering who I am; reminding myself revelations and lessons learned unfold in perfect timing.

A new me has been born out of circumstances, choices, adversity, heartbreak and forgiveness – to me this is the symbol of the Resurrection. It’s not the end – only the beginning. What we do with the resurrection is what matters. It gives me the hope and power to start over again, no matter what my circumstances are.

It’s our new chance to begin again and create a beautiful new ending.

I love you more-

Elizabeth

My Vow

Don’t wait to love yourself until you change
Love and accept yourself as you are and witness the changes that unfold

I have big challenges when it comes to finding the compassion to love myself.

I frequently replay past mistakes, harmful words that escaped my lips, actions I’m not proud of, or actions I should have taken instead.

I remind myself of hurtful things said to me from others-
“You’re crazy” “You aren’t that good looking” “you can’t handle anything” “I can’t rely on you”

I know myself better than anyone else, yet I crumble at the words of someone who hasn’t even lived one second in my life. I have accepted their words as truths. I have replayed them to myself and have listened to them. None of these things are a reflection of who I am. They are only reflections of their own wounds.

I share my self-love journey because I believe the places where I have the biggest challenges in my life are the places I have the most to give, IF I do the work.

This is a picture of a ring I bought myself on my 40th Birthday. At one of my favorite shops in a city that resonates love within my soul. If happiness has a geographical location, Grand Marais is that place for me.

On that day I chose to marry myself

I wear this token on my sacred left hand ring finger, it’s a reminder of my vows.

I commit to myself. Body, mind, and spirit. I commit to my path.

I commit to loving myself right where I am. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. I know that loving myself, in spite of myself no matter what mistakes I make or what others say about me, is a key part of my journey and the only way to get to where I need to go.

I commit to loving myself in sickness and in health. Emotionally and physically. I choose to comfort myself. To take care of myself. When I am in the depths of despair I promise to bring myself back. I can count on me.

I promise to have and to hold myself. I love myself the way I want someone to love me. When I am feeling lonely or craving attention, I ask myself what I do. Somedays this involves taking myself on a walk, reading something that inspires me, journaling about my feelings, writing a blog post, listening to uplifting music, or watching a funny movie. I have learned to soothe myself. To give myself the love and attention I crave from another.

On my journey I’ve discovered that while life doesn’t always give me what I ask for, it gives me the people, places, and situations I need to create and develop into what I asked for. With this evolution comes magnificent transformation. I know that I can be everything I desire and need.

I would not be where I am right now, if I had always gotten what I asked for, right when I asked for it. When In the midst of chaos, confusion, and uncertainty I prayed for mountains to move and problems to disappear. They didn’t. But I learned to pause, listen, and wait. Listening to what Life is teaching me.

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

I have persevered in spite of difficulties, choosing to love and forgive myself and others a little more with each error, learning there are no mistakes, only lessons that needed to be learned. For myself and others, even those who have hurt me deeply.

I have learned the obstacle is the way. I create the path, choose to climb the mountain or move it. Not hastily or without reflection and inner guidance. I do so calmly, bravely, even in the midst of the uncertainty; I listen to the voice inside me. I used to listen and wait for things to change. Now I know I am the one who creates the change. Faith without works is dead. I must be willing to do the work.

I know everything I need is always right with me. It resides in me and gives me the courage to continue.

5 Steps to Calming the Mind of an introvert

This post is directed towards the beautiful mind of an overanalyzing, highly sensitive, introvert. Whether you are one, or know one, I hope you find this insightful.

I am sharing my story because I know I am not alone. Does everyone feel they can relate with an overanalyzing introvert? Of course not. But I know that there are those that can and will. I want to tell you that there is a purpose for your solitude and overactive thoughts. I hope these steps help you create peace and balance within.

I have always had a wild, overzealous, even intrusive imagination. Growing up I would daydream for hours, often playing in my make-believe world all day long. I grew up on the farm and besides my brother and sister, I didn’t see other children often. I found myself alone most of the time. When I was younger this imagination was wonderful. The world I lived in was beautiful. As I grew events occurred that stole some of that beauty. I became even more isolated, feeling that my world was safe, only if I was alone.

The internal battle of wanting to be with others and simultaneously seeking seclusion. As I grew, I continued with this sense of wanting to be alone as I navigated through my preteen and teen years. When most of my peers were seeking out one another eagerly, I teetered on wanting to be alone and interacting with others. I would spend a lot of time in nature, the animals, flowers, and trees were my friends; I reveled in their sights, sounds, and smells.

As I matured towards adulthood, I continued to find myself between worlds. I did acquire a group of friends that I hung out with frequently, but I was the quiet one. I would listen to them as they would interact with one another. Still and silent in my own world as I stood right on the edge of theirs. Through these interactions I learned about the symphony of silent sounds that are always around us. I began to learn how to intuitively read body language, facial expressions, even sensing others feelings based off of all of these silent cues.

I feel this inability to engage with others left me on the edge of a loneliness. Always teetering on being a part of something, and not belonging. I feel that sense of not belonging came from my own inability to share my thoughts, feelings, emotions. I am honestly not sure if this inability to share came from fear, or my own feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps I believed my thoughts and feelings did not matter, or I truly enjoyed being a part of this silent symphony, it was safe.

Change leaves me feeling as though I need to retreat inward to remain safe but simultaneously feel the need to burst out of my bubble, or pop it myself. As I navigate through and continue to make some major life changes, I find myself continuing to balance on this line more and more. As I quiet my mind I am finding the balance of reflecting inward, listening, and now I am beginning to share my own stories and insights. But I find these feelings of not belonging start to sneak back into my mind. I had a gathering with my girlfriends recently. These girls are my tribe. They are beautiful souls that I truly enjoy being around. Yet, as I was getting ready to leave my home, that same feeling of being an outsider started to creep up. I began to tell myself…maybe I should just stay home…they will not notice if I don’t show up…I’m running late anyway…

I often sabotage attending social events and even my relationships to remain “safe”. The very thing I need to ensure my own wellbeing (socializing with others) I deter at all costs. This happens on an unconscious level, I start to get “busy” with multiple things and all of a sudden, I’m running late and everything has to be done at the last minute. I have to continuously force myself to move towards being with others, sharing things over social media, and with my writing. There are two parts of me and they are battling with one another. One wants to stay safe, quiet, secluded, right where is it and the other wants to allow part of herself to share with the world. They both want to live, but only one offers true life.

I love my life. I love my friends and family. I love being around people. How can I stop these habitual actions and thoughts that leave me confused, exhausted, and isolated?

The key is to calm the mind.

The answer was found with a silent mind. As I sit, my mind is in constant motion. I still live in that silent symphony of sounds, my own little world. I still have an overactive imagination and daydream all day long. My world, while it may be silent on the outside, internally it is often busy and chaotic. This takes energy, it is exhausting, and my physical body also reflects this state. I don’t have the energy to do the things I know I need and love.

I frequently have to force myself to become present when others are around me, to engage in the world, and stay on task.

Like, I actually have to say, “Hello, earth to Elizabeth!”

It’s not that I feel what others have to say are unimportant, they are greatly important to me, its just that I am stuck in my patterns of the cycle of not belonging. This feeling is due to my lack of engagement with the world around me. Freedom comes when we have the courage to be who we are. We need to tell our stories and share our insights.

You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.” ― Maya Angelou

The gifts that I have acquired by living a life this way are priceless. I can often sense things in others before they even know it themselves. This has helped me coach many, many people. People often gravitate to me when they have a road block or big life issues. I don’t give advice. But I give valuable insight that they could never see on their own. This life I have been living, the way I have been living it have prepared me for who I am today. But I have to engage with the world around me. We all do.

Silencing the mind is the key to allowing me to engage. I use the steps below to silence my mind. I am creating a new habit. To use my mind as the wonderful tool that it is, and no longer allow it to run and control me. This is not an overnight fix or “said and done” problem solved. This is a life long unfolding. It is an evolution of my body, mind, and soul. It is like a rose in bloom; growing, expanding, flourishing.

Just as a lotus flower blooms from the dark muddy waters into a beautiful breathtaking flower-you can too.  

You must learn to quiet your mind and it starts with relaxing your body and mind. Why? Relaxing can quiet your mind and make you feel a sense of peace and calmness. Your body is constantly listening to you, reacting to your thoughts. Not necessarily on a physical level, but on a physiological level. There is a way to listen to your thoughts, but not engage with them. To observe them in a peaceful state. This drastically changes your perception, of EVERYTHING.

When you switch to becoming the observer of your thoughts, you begin to realize that you are not your mind. Your life experiences have created your thought patterns, and as you remove yourself from engaging in them you can begin to rewire these networks into a healthier, less exhausting pattern.

A Peaceful Life is a Reflection of a Calm Mind

Here are 5 steps you can start on today to calm your mind.

  1. Deep breathing. Start by concentrating on your breath. This is the quickest and easiest way to stop your mind from racing. You may feel your mind starting to sneak in your peace and try to intervene. When this happens, I encourage you to count with each breath. Breathe in for a count of 7(1-2-3-4-5-6-7), hold it, and then count backwards for a count of 7 (7-6-5-4-3-2-1). Last, after your exhale I encourage you to hold it for a moment. Do this often. If you can, do it every hour during the day. And do it extra when you start to notice you are having a hard time concentrating or engaging in the world around you. Notice how quickly it stops those racing thoughts!
  2. Practice mindful meditation. The goal of this is to focus your attention on thing that are happening right now in the present moment. Wherever you are-BE HERE NOW. It is as simple as that (notice I didn’t say easy).  You may find yourself needing to repeatedly redirect yourself back into the present moment. Don’t get discouraged, this is why we call it practicing. The need for redirection is normal and congratulate yourself on your newfound awareness. Becoming aware is the first and most important step. From it comes deeper awareness.
  3. Write. I find writing about my thoughts and feelings helps me to release my emotions and lessens their “grip” on my current mood. If you don’t find satisfaction in writing-listen to music you find soothing. I feel these are both excellent ways to help quiet the mind.
  4. Soak in a bath. Use essential oils that relax you. I love to choose earthy scents and often use oils associated with the forest such as cypress, marjoram, pine, patchouli, and sandalwood. Choose an oil that is calming to you.  Pay attention to lighting. A relaxed body helps relax the mind.
  5. Guided imagery. Your body and mind are connected. Picturing something in your mind can make you feel like you are experiencing it. Picture yourself in a calm and peaceful place. Bathe all of your senses in this experience. If you are imaging yourself in a quiet forest, play sounds that mirror this setting, choose essential oils of your favorite trees and smells. Imagine yourself immersed in this environment.

Imagination, introversion, and reflection are not only beautiful, they are gifts. Living in a go-getter, do more, extrovert society can cause some of us to feel less-than and inadequate. The goal of my post today is to bring awareness into the beauty of the sensitive-introvert. I hope you feel a little more self-compassion towards yourself, or someone close to you who is an introvert.

Introverts have many gifts to offer. I feel that quieting our mind supports us in ways that allows for deeper insight into our gifts, what we have to offer, and encourages us to share these with beautiful world around us.

The world needs the balance introverts bring. When we create peace within our minds we have the ability to share this peace with the world around us.

Until I am compelled to write again,

Elizabeth  

Whatever you do, be sure to be happy

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “whatever you do in life be sure it makes you happy.” At first glance this can easily be interpreted as, “only do things that bring you happiness.”

I am going to explain how chasing happiness will lead you right to the opposite- unhappiness.

When we chase happiness, it becomes an illusion. A mirage that is always just out of reach.

When we imagine purchasing or building our dream home, getting that new job, buying the fancy car, or entering into an exciting relationship, happiness seems to be ours. When these goals are accomplished the neural networks in our brain light up like a Christmas tree, giving us heavy hits of dopamine and other feel good chemicals and hormones. The same effect is why we love to post things on social media and wait for the likes to come. Those hits feel awesome, right? So much that the more we are on social media and the more we post, the more we need.

The more we personally have the more we want. It is a pleasure that we can never get enough of. Overtime these feelings begin fading off, leaving us feeling isolated and lonely wondering if we can ever truly be happy. These choices can lead to heartbreak, debt, and steal our precious time. We can start to lose hope and think, “If this can’t make me happy, nothing will.” This NEED to always have, be, and do more is a pandemic. One that we all are vulnerable to and that some of us are currently suffering in.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have dreams, goals, and expectations. They are a must and meeting these goals should feel wonderful, but if we don’t learn how to bring joy into our normal day to day moments, lasting happiness will always remain just out of reach. This doesn’t mean making smaller consumer purchases every day to spread it out, the cure to our disease is finding contentment and happiness in where we are and with what we have.

So how do we find happiness if all the things that we think will make us happy, truly don’t guarantee lasting happiness? What is the secret to finding happiness that lasts?

Enjoy everyday pleasures.

Living a life always on “high” isn’t sustainable. The key to happiness lies in our “normal” day to day activities. We must cultivate and create happiness within these moments.

Maybe it’s saving time in the morning to enjoy your cup of coffee-before you start the day off running. Use this time for gratitude and reflection. Try journaling even!

Maybe it’s using your lunch break at work to get outside and enjoy a mindfulness walk- taking in all of the sights and sounds around you-instead of gossiping with coworkers.

Maybe it’s telling your kids a favorite story before bed instead of turning on a mindless TV show. Taking just a few extra minutes to review their day with them, giving them extra praise and encouragement, or to just listen to what they have to say.

Stop at that beautiful park on your way home and take a few moments to sit on the bench and rest. Allow your thoughts to wonder, but don’t engage in on any of the “I should” thoughts, your main goal is to pay attention to the world around you.

Happiness is available right now, abundantly today-you just have to see it.

We must pursue awareness in these moments. Search for meaning, not happiness. Study after study reveals-none of the “stuff” we think will make us happy actually does. As you go throughout your day become aware of those tiny moments of joy. They are there.

Live with intention.

What type of relationships do I want to build? Start taking the the time to build the life you want. Healthy relationships are not easy. They don’t just happen. You need to nurture and build them over time. Share these goals with others. Relationships, especially our life partners, need to have two individuals with the same vision for what they want their relationship to be.

What is my why? Find activities, sights, things that motivate you. Concentrate and engage in these.

What is my purpose, why am I here? Live from a deeper sense of self-your highest self. Do things that are in alignment with who you are, not who you think others want you to be. Do things that are in alignment with your core beliefs and values. You may need to take a deeper look at these as well. Sometimes we need to change our beliefs if they no longer serve our purpose. We often believe what we believe, just by who we were raised by or where geographically. We need to examine these beliefs. Are they truly ours or are they someone else’s? Are they good? This sometimes comes down to a gut instinct of feeling like something is right or wrong.

Awaken and notice the moments that are already there. Be present with them and give them your full attention. Soak it up. Pay attention to those placed in your path. Every person and every moment is just as important as the next.

Cultivate joy and don’t forget to take time to smell the flowers, or whatever that saying means in your life. These moments are not only free, they are priceless.

Look for the small miracles in your life and you will find they are everywhere.

Whatever you do in life, be sure to be HAPPY

Elizabeth

What I Learned From My Pain

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Someone is sobbing uncontrollably. These are cries from a heart that has lost hope. One cannot live long without hope.

I hear, “it is finished”, I stop, realizing the cries have been coming from me. My face is pressed hard against the cold cement floor in my bathroom, it feels so heavy I cannot lift it. Somehow I manage to sit up, legs crossed. Through my tear saturated lashes and swollen lids I look around me. Everything is familiar yet different.

Something has happened inside of me. Something has been awakened.

It’s Christmas Eve. I have been on my bathroom floor crying for what seems like an eternity. Life has brought me to the floor many times over the past decade. I have sat in my pain and tears; praying for the strength, courage, and ability to continue onward, but this episode is different. Something “let go”. That Christmas Eve, I found the lesson in the wound, the answer in my pain. I unearthed a part of me I didn’t know existed. Something was reborn. Me. 

The painful process of becoming who I needed to be for the next step in my life was complete.

Previously, there were many times I wanted to run from the pain, vowing this episode was going to be the last, but deep down I knew running wasn’t the answer. Over time I marinated in it, allowing the pain to open my eyes to countless beautiful wonders. I was able to see my life as it was, a gift. It taught me to focus my awareness into the moment, to forgive quickly, to see the good in everyone even when other’s couldn’t.

I cycled deeper and deeper into the pain until this moment came, arriving on time, that Christmas Eve.

Pain prepared me for what was ahead, what I ultimately could sense just over the horizon. Accepting and loving my life, even the parts that were difficult…the ones I could only offer grace to, shaped me into the person I am today. It put into motion a life that I choose intentionally. A wholesome tribe.  Relationships with boundaries. A life of balance and harmony. My voice which was hushed for so long because I was told it was not valid; I am now learning to use.

Pain shaped and guided me to move into alignment with my highest self. I am a survivor and I am thriving.

This journey is just beginning, but the beauty and possibilities are infinite. The road is harder than I envisioned, but has more depth and beauty than I could imagine. I have become increasingly aware of the magnitude of practicing gratitude within all areas of life.

True healing happens when we choose to venture into our pain; seeing, accepting, and honoring our wounds.  

The pain I now carry is different. It is moving pain. It moves with me, I allow myself to express it, to feel it. I listen to it when it arises and ask myself what I need in the moment. I no longer suppress it, or tell myself I deserve it, or label “selfish” to my feelings that long for more out of Life.

I have come to realize what was missing from my life all along, was me. 

The experiences of my life have shaped me. Some are joyous and some are very difficult. Each and every one of these experiences shaped me into who I am. I am thankful for the wonderful, but when it comes to the pain of life, repeatedly I chose to not accept it. My life was often inadvertently shaped out of trying to avoid more pain.

I’ve learned the painful experiences are just as significant as the good, sometimes more.

Perhaps it’s a divorce, death of a loved one, a life changing illness, all horrible things I wouldn’t wish on anyone and avoid even thinking about. Yet, as I face events I previously valiantly avoided, I choose to allow myself to grow through them. As I evolve I become aware of the depth they have brought to my life, that nothing else could.

Suffering strengthened me. It taught me tenderness, humility, and grace.

Suffering forces me to look at life closer, sometimes down to the moment, for the future can seem too painful, overwhelming, or scary to envision. Survival is only present in the moment.

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I have found that pain points me towards the direction where my life should go.

For as long as I can remember I had a sense something wasn’t right, something was missing.

I used vices such as social media, alcohol, and other mind numbing activities to avoid being present with my pain and myself in these moments. Avoidance allowed my pain to grow and return with more vengeance until small particles burst forth in an explosion, often displayed as anger. After the short release I would obtain control, put the lid back on, and regain composure. This emotionally unintelligent cycle was forced to repeat itself over and over again until I began to acknowledge and journey into my pain.

Sitting in my pain allowed a new version of myself to emerge, one that could only be born through affliction and discomfort.

If I had continued to run from suffering and pain, I would have been bypassing the life I needed to grow into. I would have not discovered the version of me I am today. Life is found in the moment. Avoiding the painful moments of my life, was a diversion from Life itself.

Embracing my pain allowed me to embrace Life. 

Understanding that nothing is forever, not even my pain, allows me to be truly grateful for the joys I experience. I seek to love each and every moment without attachment. Even the hard ones I can give love and grace to, for they are not forever. I surrender my future life, what I envision it will look like, who will be in it, where I will live or work. I drop all expectations. I set intentions and give vision to my life, but let go of any predictions on how this will come to fruition or who it will embody.

My energy shifts out of alignment when I become too attached to someone or some goal.

 I trust that Life is conspiring for me, not against me. I am open, present, and aware of any gifts; whether they are people, circumstances, or visions. I focus on my intentions and the moments of my Life. My intention is love (I feel it is for many of us), but I have let go of what love looks like.

I don’t dismiss something, whether it’s a circumstance, job, or person, if it isn’t designed as I conceptualized. Life knows better than I do. I trust Life and my circumstances. What was once seen as bad luck or worst case scenario has lead to the creation of my dream job and fairy-tale relationship. Ultimately, I realize relationships are my greatest teacher.

Divine partners often come in a different form than envisioned, but are attached to a relationship that has more depth than we can imagine. Relationships are our greatest chance to unlock real love and healing from within. 

When a relationship involves a partner who is wholly committed to the process, the relationship challenges growth and heals wounds created from unmet needs. With this real transformation occurs. This requires radical acceptance, grace, and humility. 

I have begun to awaken my love for Life itself. 

Love is an inside job, it is not dependent on person, place or thing. I do not need love, I am the love. The only way to manifest love is to give love. I start with loving and accepting myself, my feelings, and continue to become aware of the beautiful life that unfolds from this one intention. Love awakens more love. 

When I choose to love and accept myself, I form a deep connection within me to Life itself.

From the foundation of this bond my other relationships have the ability to flourish. I set boundaries and release unhealthy lifestyles and relationships. My Life is dedicated to grace, growth, and love. The things that no longer serve for the positive evolution of my soul are released in love. 

Let go of fear and fall in love with Life. No one can take what you freely give. 

Step with me into the unknown, experience life, and it will give you the power and confidence to become you.

This is my intention and my prayer for myself.

Until I am compelled to write again,

Elizabeth xo

 

 

Do You See Me?

 

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PC: Cameron Julie Photography

I started this post over a week ago, but it’s a hard thing for me to talk about so I stopped. As it would be, God is asking me to show up again and be true. Vulnerability is so so hard for this girl.

Loneliness.

Loneliness is something I experience all the time. It is not the same as being alone. As the mother of four children, who has her hands in multiple pots, I am not alone as much as I would like to be. Lonliness is different. It can be felt (I feel it is the strongest) when I am in a group of people. Among friends and family. I am quiet. I don’t always have a lot to say, but I am listening… I listen to not only words, but body language, facial expressions, energy. My world is a symphony of silent sounds.

The truth is I just don’t “belong”.

Even among friends, family, coworkers…the feeling remains. This isn’t a poor me story either. It’s just true. As we have deep discussions I am probably not going to pour my life story to you…most people don’t know much about me besides the obvious surface stuff and my faith…the depths of my story, some dark things are pushed away and hidden.

I think a lot of us float on the surface of life. Small talk, maybe some deeper stories to a few special individuals, our trust circle. We have abundant Facebook friends and text a few day-to-day, but our relationships lack any true depth. We don’t often have phone conversations anymore (growing up in the 80-90’s I had my ear to the phone most days at home) and can see the consequences. As technology connects us more we become less connected. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for it, but like any other convenience in life it can become something we abuse. With overuse it can cause feelings of isolation, anxiety, and even depression.

It’s so easy to fake it on social media. Filter our lives to appear flawless. 

It’s amazing how one scroll through social media can leave me feeling like I deserve an F for the day in the subjects of motherhood, spouse, homemaker, employee, etc. Not to mention how everyone looks so put together and my messy bun is leftovers from yesterday because it’s been so chaotic that I didn’t have time to wash my hair or even brush it yet.

Tired.

I’m tired of faking it…pretending everything is perfect, being lonely, unconnected. The biggest fear in my loneliness is not that I don’t belong, but that I am UNSEEN. Who sees me? Do You? The answer is NO. No one sees me because I am too afraid of being seen, but yet all I want is someone to really SEE me, acknowledge me. Sounds like a sad, vicious cycle doesn’t it? I think I can hear the violin playing.

Even if we could change how do we become more connected? Where do I start?

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9

It starts with sharing. Sharing your dreams, thoughts, and the hard stuff to a few elite we deem trustworthy. Sharing the stories of abuse, betrayal, forgiveness, grief…whatever causes us to numb ourselves with our addictions to try to forget even for just a night. What is causing us to do the things we do? That’s what we need to share. Sharing brings relief not only to you, but also those that you can connect with. We were never meant to do this alone.

Easier said than done, right?

Sharing it all means you are exposed and vulnerable. If someone rejects the you with the good happy parts and only a little bit of the surface hardships, they will surely reject the sad, ugly, and heartbreaking stuff–or worse yet they may laugh at your dreams, goals, and aspirations. In our eyes rejection often seems like the worst case scenario. I challenge that. The worse case scenerio is we avoid stepping into the courage of being vulnerable and allowing ourselves to truly be seen, thus living a superficial life that is rooted in isolation, fear, and shame.

But first we must accept who we are.

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” 
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Yes, we MUST accept who we are. The good, the bad, the ugly–you have come so far. I am certain you can look back and be proud of the things that you have gone through to make it to the other side. They have woven you into the uniquely special person you are. Without the heartbreak and life lessons–the brokeness…the light wouldn’t have got into the deep parts of your heart and soul. They have allowed God to shape you into the person you are today.

I am aware that during the mountains and valleys it may seem like the journey is so long and hard, but we need to remember that we are not alone. We all go through our own struggles both internal and external. Lets share those with one another. Share our fears but also share our dreams. If we can’t accept who we are and the journey we are on we can’t let others join in. You have to be true to you. Love you. Because He loves you. Listen to who He says you are:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)

You have been chosen. Show up, be seen…with every moment GO ALL IN!

Start with connection. Connect to God. Connect with yourself. Connect with others.

Connection vs. Busyness

I blame busyness all the time, but honestly it is a poor excuse. Be deliberate with forming relationships. Cultivate more time connecting with others. Real connections, not fake ones. Face to face. We need to act with urgency. Do this NOW. We are longing for a reason…there may be someone who needs to hear what you have to say. We belong to one another.

Make it a goal to reach out to one person today. Call them. Even better…schedule a coffee date or a time to be in the presence of one another and allow yourself to be YOU. You need this–and the world needs you.

Until I am compelled to share again,

Take care and God Bless,

Elizabeth

“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.”― Maya Angelou

Withstanding the Storm

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It’s a rainy day here in Minnesota. It’s only 39 degrees, which is well below average for this time of year. Fall is in full swing (but it feels like winter). The trees are starting to turn a variety of colors, even in the gloom of the day there is still beauty to be enjoyed. I am sitting at my kitchen island, with one full 360 swivel on my chair I am able to take in so many beautiful colors displayed right outside my windows.

I’m sheltered from the damp and cold elements but my body aches as the cold settles into my bones. It can’t decide if we are in fall, winter, or spring. It’s confused.

Know your season.

I am in a season of waiting…more precisely I’m waiting out a collection of STORMS. I know that everything will happen in God’s perfect timing. I have been a witness to this throughout my life. But His timing is typically WAY OFF from mine.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 

His steps differ from what I think they should be. His include detours, accidents, and sometimes the slower scenic route. I think He is calling me to make the most of all these moments, no matter what label I place over them.

Life is measured in moments.

He calls us to REDEEM our time. Take back our moments.

I have let moments pass me by. Really great ones, when I am too busy to see them. Or I am going to enjoy them, right after I finish this next task, which inevitably leads to another task.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

Sometimes his steps force me out of my comfort zone. It seems when I’m outside my safe zone I can hear Him more clearly. Maybe it’s because I’m required to lean deeper within Him in the moments of discomfort, when I am forced to choose love or fear. My love for Him and where he is leading, over the fear of “what-if’s”,  judgement of others…this list is never-ending.

Sometimes I feel I have been lead into a storm. An emotional Hurricane. These times leave me wondering WHY?

I am not strong enough for this.

But He is.

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

We are called to withstand the storms. This is where He does His BEST work in us. Yes, it’s about who we become along the way.

RESIST. Not react. 

What’s the difference? We are not called to AVOID the storm, quite the opposite. We are called to get up, face it, confront it. I have grown to realize that withstand is also not equal to defend. Stand and reflect, like you are holding a shield remaining unaffected by it. Grow into it.

But what am I to do when caught in a storm? How do I SURVIVE?!

Christ’s example is the only way to endure suffering. We trust in God. There is no clarity when you step into and are led by faith. He alone determines our steps…if we want to get out of it ALIVE we must follow Him. To retaliate is to assume a right that is not ours. We are called to bend at His will. Make the right RESPONSES at the right TIME.

You must not react. You slowly respond to what is in front of you. Emotionally fueled reactions lead to destruction. Responding to life from a place of love, fueled by His love, giving Him all the glory leads to LIFE.

Respond like Christ.

Sometimes people’s reactions lead you to make hard decisions or your responses can make those around you feel uncomfortable. Listen, sometimes we react in ways that lead us to hear His convicting voice as well. Remain passionate, for we all know it’s uncomfortable to experience and hear these things.

Below is a quote from a most beloved book, “Beautiful Outlaw” — It is a FAVORITE. Digging deep into the personality of Jesus it explains that reading the gospels without knowing Jesus is like watching television with no volume.

“He woos, he confronts, he delivers, he heals, he shoots straight, and then he uses intrigue. He lives out before them the most compelling view of God, shows them an incredibly attractive holiness while shattering the religious glaze. But still, he lets them walk away if they choose.”
― John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus

Can’t sing His song, if you can’t hear His voice.

For me withstanding the storms is listening to His voice. With His voice brings Joy, Power, Wisdom, and of course Love. We can grow deaf by our own negative self talk, or the negativity of the entire situation(s). Silence the competing voices so He can get a Word in. Once we listen to Him we will have something worth saying (the only reason I am able to write this blog)

God is as close as the breath we breath.

Listen. Be present and hear His voice. It is only in this that we can withstand the storm. Pick up your Bible. Buy a Bible. Pray for those around you. We are blessed to have the freedom to do so.

Until I am compelled to share again.

God Bless,

Elizabeth

 

Life Is A Reflection of Choices.

cropped-family.jpgHello! Happy October!

Did anyone else do a double take when they realized it was already October? I did. Life is happening so fast. I feel as though I blinked and 2018 was in its last quarter.

“I’m just too busy”, says everyone.

Time flies…whether you are having fun or not. It seems we never have enough of it, but in truth we always have the same amount. We know this fact. Every single day we are given 24 hours…1440 minutes. That never changes. So we can argue that time isn’t the issue. It never has been. If we don’t have time to do the things we want to do, the ones that bring us bliss or build a better future–we can only blame ourselves.

Life happens whether we are actively choosing it or not.

Yes, we all have responsibilities. We have spouses, children, jobs, activities…the to-do’s are really endless. And sometimes unexpected events happen.

Honestly, when I have a “free” evening I sometimes get a sinking feeling of perhaps I am just forgetting what I am supposed to be doing… Today I had an open evening(which is why I was able to start this post), or so thought I did until I went to pick up my son from football practice only to realize he wasn’t there. He had a game that was out-of-town. Failed Mom moment. They happen all too often, but this one left me feeling extra horrible. Heavy with guilt I was brought to tears wondering where my priorities lie. Thinking too harshly about it without giving myself any sort of break or sympathy. This spiraled quickly into negative thoughts not worth repeating.

The truth is I just forgot. Somewhere in my career building, grocery shopping, engaging conversations, meal making average Tuesday I totally spaced out and didn’t double-check my calendar. Rookie mistake.

Wrong Choices.

If we aren’t happy with how we are spending our time we are making the wrong choices. We make an average of 35,000 choices every single day(says the internet). I have a feeling most of these are out of habit, but every day gives us an opportunity to make NEW choices.

Our lives reflect our choices.

Life is happening to us, and at the same time is determined by our reaction to it. Not just external reactions, but internal ones. Reflection. What we say to ourselves. Our internal dialogue. Thoughts.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.”― Gandhi

How do you talk to yourself? What lies do you believe?

I think most of us would be embarrassed to admit that we are our very own live-in, unescapable bully. Our self-conversations lack words of loving kindness(to put it nicely).

Your thoughts are shaping your life experiences.

A better life starts with YOU. Love you. You are doing the best you can do, and if you aren’t confess this and choose to give it your all.

I’m not talking about perfection. I am encouraging you to see the progress within yourself. Give yourself a break, pat on the back, bear hug…smile at yourself in the mirror. Not a fake smile. A real one. Like so big your eyes squint.

You are loved. Act like it. Accept God’s love and let this fill you up. Choose Him. Focus on His presence, which is found in the present moment.

Stop letting your negative thoughts shape your life. Stop caring about what other’s think. Start reflecting on what God thinks of you. By doing that you will find great peace and purpose in life.

Where to start?

Speak love and kindness into the moments you are given. Live with integrity. The world doesn’t know your story and likely won’t understand you, but He does. Be submissive to His Will. He doesn’t want your sacrifice, He wants obedience.

What is God’s Will?

We can find it in His Word.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”(Romans 12:2 NKJV)

We must be TRANSFORMED. Not just with our outward reactions, but also our internal–the way we think and feel. We must start with transforming our minds.

Change your thoughts and you will see your life begin to transform before your eyes.

Practice.

This takes practice. Every time you choose to see yourself and the world through His eyes you step further into the journey of transformation. Each life experience brings a new training course. A deeper fullness.

Overcome bad thoughts with God thoughts.

This may require changes in who you surround yourself with, what you listen to, read and what you allow yourself to take in through any of your 5 senses. Use your 6th sense to determine what is right for you. Pray about it.

Start NOW.

Every day is a new beginning.

Have confidence in your choices and make the most of your 1440 minutes.

Elizabeth

 

 

Start Now

Fall is here! IMG_7392

The weather is cooler, crisp, feels clean…reminding me that winter is around the corner! If you are from Minnesota you know that winters here can be long. COLD. Sometimes a bit gloomy and depressing, but the beauty of a fresh snow as it sparkles in the sunlight is hard to beat!

You can find beauty even in the frigid temps. It’s all around.

What does this have to do with my post today?

Everything. Has a season.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

No matter where we are at in our lives I guarantee we are going through one of the seasons…maybe you are going through a season of searching, or giving up. Maybe it is a season of laughter, or a time of weeping. A time to love, a time to hate.

A time for everything.

My point:

You will always be going through something. Good or bad. There is not a perfect moment when you will be ready to start pursuing your new dream, completing a daunting task, or perhaps writing that blog you’ve wanted to start (YES, it has been almost 8 months since my first and only post on this site!)

The struggles are real. Our lives are nothing short of chaotic and so very hard somedays. We have families, deadlines, duties, and honestly the days seem to run together most of the time… until I realize I’ve spent the last half of my year on auto pilot.

The best time to start…well the only time to start, is NOW.

The path that leads to where we need to be is full of obstacles. There are a million reasons why we could say no. Should say no. Put it off for a “better” time. But if you can find your reason WHY…

DO IT.

Your dreams are not going to wait for you forever. There is a role ready for you to fill. Do it now, before God assigns it to someone else.

But what am I supposed to do with my life? I want to give it more meaning!

You know what it is. You feel it when you bring yourself to the present moment and allow your mental chatter to drift away. It’s that tug, the pull you feel, its magnetic…FOLLOW IT. Open your eyes and see the extraordinary around you. A life of depth can be found in the present moment.

Take a step. Even if it’s a small one. Miles are walked by putting one foot in front of the other. With every step leave behind your insecurities and fears. This is a journey. Not a race. The only competitor is you. There is room for growth, become greater than you are today. Step out of your habits.

HOW?

Do one thing today that your future self will thank you for.

Do this every day and you will look back and realize that the BIG things in your life are simply achieved by a sum of all your small steps.

What is your why? I encourage you to take a step INTO it, point yourself in the right direction…even if it means turning around.  Do it NOW. Be Brave.

Today is all we ever have.

Take Care and God Bless,

Elizabeth