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Making Change Last

What is change? And where does it come from? 

 

Does it come from the 30-day program guaranteed to help you drop those “last five pounds?” 

Perhaps the numerous self-help books you’ve picked up this year? 

Maybe it comes when you finally give in to your spouse’s request and go to therapy? 

 

The answer to all of these and more is: Yes and no.

 

For the secret to change is not really a secret, nor is it nearly as complicated as we make it out to be. It is, however, scary and confronting and perhaps one of the hardest things we’ll ever run into because change is found not in programs, ceremonies, self-help books, coaches or therapist’s couches but in Truth. 

 

Pure, raw, unfiltered Truth.  Not in the 5 steps or 3 keys or prescriptive information we find on the internet, but in the acknowledgment of Truths - our Truths - that awareness brings to the surface. From a place of truth, we can no longer hide from the most beneficial course of action. We can no longer suppress, deny or run from that which motivates us or from our responses to those motivations, and thus, we do not. And then…. we change.

Because we cannot see a truth without paying attention to it’s consequences, and, when we do, our inherent desire to align with love, both for ourselves and others, arises naturally. 

 

When we know that we secretly binge on donuts because we’re working to fill a void left behind by our father…and our first boyfriend and our last boyfriend and every friendship we’ve ever had … we begin to reach for healing instead of pastries. 

 

When we learn that we can’t stop cheating on our partner because we’re too scared to feel our loneliness when he or she isn’t able to be present with us, we reach for self-love instead of a pseudo-connection found on a social media screen or in a secret hotel room. 

 

When we find out that we’re addicted to stress and success because intimacy and settling down and being present scare us beyond words, we reach for meditation instead of creating a crisis or working 80 hours a week. 

 

When we realize that we hate our anxiety but that it also keeps us from having to face our fears and explicitly set boundaries around ourselves, we reach for courage instead of Xanax. 

 

These truths – the hard ones that terrify us to look at – are the gateway to doing it differently. While we can, with some success, willpower our way into surface changes, the real, long-lasting growth appears when we drag our truths out from the dark corner in which they hide and allow them space and room heal. 

 

And how do we do this you might ask?

Through the cultivation of awareness. Whether you want to lose weight, work on your anger issues, find love, clear up your health issues, make more money or find lasting happiness, the answer is the same: Cultivate awareness and, through it, change will come.

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Relationships: It's not them, it's you.


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I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. Platonic, intimate, acquaintances and everything in between. The nature of them, how they affect our well-being, our health, our mindset and how, despite sometimes wishing they weren’t, they are integral to our joy and fulfillment during this lifetime. So, as I usually do with things I think about intensely, I decided to write about it.

 

Being an NTP, you’d think my job description ended at food, but what I’ve found over the years is that food is rarely the place of conclusion. In fact, it’s usually the commencement, the place where it all starts and continues to unfold into a deeper understanding of what health really means.

 

To me, health means being able to wake up in the morning satisfied and eager. Happy and content with your life and where it’s heading. Receptive and open to contrast as a learning tool, but not afraid and fearful of its presence in your life. Health means alignment between your body, mind and soul and a feeling of connection to a greater collective than you can concretely wrap your head around.

 

Can all of that be accomplished with food? I think not. Which is why I feel it necessary for us to take a holistic approach to our wellness and address all the conditions of our lives, including our loved ones – our loathed ones – and ones we don’t give much thought to, but who still exist in our awareness.

 

Whether we like it or not, relationships are central to our existence and we are in a “relationship” with everyone we meet. To demonstrate my point, according to the dictionary definition, relationships are defined as such:

 

“the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”

 

In other words, while we often save the word *relationship for our intimate and romantic ones, we are related and connected to everything and everyone we come into contact with, making relationships a very, very large and undeniable part of our experience. If I go to the grocery store to pick up food, I’m in a relationship of some sort with every person and item there. Now, the intensity of that relationship may vary, I may hardly notice some people while choosing to speak to others, but nonetheless, the relationship exists. From a purely objective standpoint, with this many relationships making their way into our daily experience, wouldn’t it make sense to ensure they are mostly positive?

 

But we don’t do that. We tend to think of relationships as passive. As though the people and encounters in our lives are exerted upon us and our only job is to consume them. To receive them and react to them.  If we are “lucky and blessed” we’re surrounded by people who make our lives better, and if we are “unlucky and cursed” we will be surrounded by those we consider idiots or people who make our lives miserable.

 

And this is wherein the problem lies...

 

What most people fail to understand is that the quality of our relationships exists in direct proportion to who we ARE in our own lives. In other words, your relationships are a direct reflection of YOU.

 

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With that in mind, do you like what you see looking back?

 

Upon learning this harsh, eye-opening truth, I remember balking a bit. I was more of the mindset that people were more hassle than they were worth. For the most part, I found that people were self-serving, annoying, dumb, lazy, mean, and uninteresting. I had time for a few select (read: “important”) people in my life, and even they were often the source of much of my pain. Particularly when it came to my romantic relationships. No matter how hard they may have been trying, I was consistently disappointed with their lack of attention, love and adoration, expecting an inordinate amount of devotion and connection that I myself was unwilling and unable to give in return.

 

So, you can imagine my surprise, and disbelief, when I found out that all of those relationships – the ones that caused me so much headache and the ones for which I longed to be more meaningful and deep – were a product my doing.

 

I’m not suggesting that we can manipulate our relationships to fit our ideals, but what I am saying is that if we want meaningful, loving, interesting, expanding, open, communicative relationships, we must first show up as those qualities in our own lives. Borrowing from religion, we call this a faith of sorts. The premise that I must first become that which I want to be and look for what I want to cultivate within myself without having seen proof of it in others. Because the universal forces which bring us together are interesting that way. If my frequency is more irritable than compassionate, more angry than loving, more negative than positive, by definition it will be difficult, if not impossible, to match up with anyone embodying those qualities.

 

Sometimes this is hard, especially when it means looking at old patterns and ways of showing up and choosing new ones. I remember specifically wanting more authentic, open and vulnerable relationships, until I realized what they would require of me. More authenticity and vulnerability. Unfortunately (or not), relationships are never one-sided, meaning that you will most likely have to become uncomfortable for a period of time while you learn to navigate new ways of being, communicating and interacting. Which is why most of us fail to make changes and then blame others for not being what we needed them to be.

 

When I was on the road to those more meaningful relationships, I had to dive deep into what I considered hot water and it was, at times, terrifying. It didn’t stop me, but sometimes my heart would race so fast I thought I would die and I had multiple vulnerability hangovers, as shame researcher Brene Brown affectionately calls them. I was wobbly and shaky and unsure of myself most of the time, but little by little I saw people opening up around me in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. Not only strangers, but friends and family I’d known my entire life. People I thought couldn’t possibly share my love for this work or whom I thought were content to stay where they were started joining me on my journey. We talked and laughed and cried – sometimes we pushed back on each other, but ultimately the more responsibility I took for massaging and nurturing my relationships, the more they blossomed before my eyes into something that felt real. That felt like mine.

While that’s simply one example of the way it could unfold, the overarching theme is this:

 

Get clear on what you’d like from your relationships and then work to become that person.

 

Your relationships will rise or fall to the level of your expectation and creation. They are not dead, but vitally alive and pulsing with possibility. Not outside of yourself, but in. And arguably, existing in a world where you feel enlivened, supported, loved, seen and connected is one that’s fantastic for your health. Next time you find yourself frustrated, disappointed or disillusioned with the people in your life, ask yourself how you can show up differently to the scene and see how it changes the landscape.

 

Until next time,

Sy

 

 

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The Art of Reclaiming Your Life


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Over the years, in my own life and in talking with others, I’ve come to the realization that many people are walking around right now lamenting lives not lived. They’re stuck feeling like their life isn’t their own, yet are unsure how to fulfill that deeper desire. As if somehow, in some other dimension, they’re living a life they feel passionately connected to and thrilled about, but here and now, are mostly just tired, burned out and waiting for the weekend to arrive.

 

I remember those feelings too. In fact, it wasn’t until I was nearing 30 that the call to more blared so loudly in my ears I couldn’t ignore it any longer. Yet, I also remember not knowing how or where to start because it felt as though every time I tried to “find my inspiration,” or discover my passion, I came up short handed and more frustrated than before. There were many nights of resignation, wondering if these dreams I had in my head for contentment, happiness and joy were simply not meant for me, meant for someone else with more drive, more courage and more *go-get-em-ness. It wasn’t just that I hated all the jobs I tried out, had a long-term relationship that was falling a part or that I woke up every morning with a sense of unease and discontent, but more more the overwhelming feeling that there was something out there for me and I was just missing what it was – that I was disconnected from my purpose, my reason for being, and it felt awful.

 

"Like a loyal dog, the nagging, persistent desire for more continued to stick with me..." 

 

So what did I do? What any normal, self-respecting adult would do – I numbed. Without a way to figure out what exactly was wrong, I was left with a general malaise about life that I couldn’t take any longer. I watched too much television, I drank too much wine, I went to the gym every single day, I filled my time and space with other people and their wins and losses and I counted the hours between waking and sleep when so I could give my mind respite from my thoughts. But no matter how over-stimulated or “busy” I managed to stay, it never left my side. Like a loyal dog, this nagging, persistent desire for more continued to stick with me.

 

Funny enough, I find that we are often led to what we most desire through secondary routes. For me, I was finally forced to slow down when I came face to face with my worst enemy at the time: my anxiety. With no other options, I enlisted the help of a therapist who I will always hold dear to my heart for this reason: He introduced to me meditation.

 

Now, in no way, shape or form was I sitting myself down to meditate everyday because I thought it would lead me to some spiritual awakening or "back to myself", I simply wanted the anxiety to leave. But as I familiarized myself with the practice, something miraculous happened. A shift in consciousness, if you will, that radically changed my life – forever.

 

"Stillness and silence speak... but only if you let them..."

 

You see, stillness and silence speak … but only if you let them. Many of us fear that if we stop running, stop working, stop obsessing, stop trying, that what we are running from will catch up with us. But that is the point. It’s as if there is a benevolent messenger running after you, with all the answers to your burning questions, but you are running away, convinced that if he catches you, you will surely die. 

 

However, you begin to make room for stillness in your life, you allow answers to come through you. You allow your subconscious mind to voice what it has known all along. You allow all that you are to show up fully, presently and with confidence. You become clearer, sharper, more in focus. The endless loops playing in your mind calm down, the edge is taken off so to speak. From there, you can actually tap into the wisdom and knowing that lies within you rather than looking for answers outside where they can never be found.

 

The health problem you just can’t get to the root of? The career decision you're up in arms about? The relationships you can’t decide to leave or stay? The diet strategy that will work for your particular body needs? The friend you  need to have a talk with but aren’t sure how? The money you need to come up with but have no clue where it will come from?

 

All these answers, and more, exist in this space.

 

But, getting there can be somewhat uncomfortable, and that’s where most people give up. When they shut off the TV, stop the needless conversation, turn off the notifications and retire to their quiet space alone, they begin to panic. Even a quiet house can send chills of anxiety running through someone who fears his own mind. His own heart.

 

So what do we do in the face of something that feels so large? We start small. If you are used to endless amounts of stimulation, absolute silence is going to feel empty and you’re going to want to run. That's the simple truth. The best antidote for this then is to take baby steps into that big, wide pond. Start by giving yourself 10 minutes of time to unplug a day. Turn off your cell phone or flip it upside down while you read a book, watch a movie or do dishes. Perhaps, roll your window down in the car and turn down the music. Maybe you take a walk without your phone or decide to do some reading instead of watching TV. Perhaps you just sit in silence with your friends or partner for a minute or two, not needing to fill the space with your words.

 

Start small. That is the key. Then, when you’re feeling more comfortable, ease your way into more purposeful practices like meditation, lying still or breath work. Or even just try spending a few hours completely to yourself. No distractions, no cell phones, no external noises, no podcasts, no radios… Just you, and you.

These rich, deeply personal experiences can only be felt for what they are when we are willing to receive and hear the gift wrapped up inside them. But if we’re not quite ready, they can propel us into further numbness and further shame because we’ve now failed at the “thing” that was supposed to change our life. This is why I suggest starting small and easing your way into such a practice.

 

Stillness and silence speak. But not in a language we are used to hearing. Learning to understanding this unique communicative style takes time, awareness and willingness. If all you start with is a small desire to hear that voice, that is enough. Eventually, you will figure it out, but give yourself the time and space to let it unfold naturally. Every question has an answer, our job is merely to allow the receiving of it. 

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Why I'm Changing the Direction of My Business, and Why I'd Love for You To Come Along!


Blog Post – Why I’m Changing the Direction of my practice, and why I’d love for you to follow along

 

 

I have a confession. I’ve been struggling for a while now, and truthfully the only people I’ve expressed it to are my closest confidants. I don’t mean to imply that anything is wrong, because its not, but I haven’t felt aligned with my practice for a couple of months now and the frustration has been swirling and building and gestating. Recently, this somewhat irritating energy finally decided to express itself, and I experienced a pretty major meltdown. However, once I finally dried my tears and got myself out of the shame/blame game, I realized the clarity that had been born from the moment. You see, I started out in the health and wellness community very passionate and excited about nutrition and its role in the vitality of the human body. I thrived on learning how to heal from chronic conditions that the conventional medical community dismissed such as anxiety, autoimmunity, depression and hormonal imbalance and ate up every piece of information I could. From there I got interested in other physically-focused aspects of health like sleep, exercise and the stress response, but then as I continued my research, work with clients and personal journey into the space of living well, I realized there was a big, fat hole no one was talking about. Well, not no one, but at least not the majority of practitioners I knew and listened to. The disconnect was: How other pieces of our lives such as work, relationships, self-acceptance, mindset and our ability to lean into feelings like love, vulnerability and joy fit into the puzzle of wellness AND can stop us from really ever getting out from under the story we feel is ours to bear. You see, many of my clients (including myself at one point) hit a wall and stalled out when we focused solely on nutrition. Sure they’d get results and feel or look physically better, but they would either fall back into old habits OR still walk away feeling like there was something missing. They’d get stuck in “healing mode” for months or even years at a time always looking for the next protocol, lab or aha-diagnoses to finally cure their issues, not realizing it all had to do with alignment.

 

The deeper I got into my own path with these internal subjects, the more I started sharing with my clients and the more results they started getting as well. They were becoming happier, calmer, more joyful and less anxious. They were aligning more with their soul paths and learning all about self-love and compassion and taking time, maybe for the first time, to implement self-care, which led them to show up better for everyone around them as well. WE began talking about relationships, and shame around money and their unwillingness to forgive themselves for not being perfect and as I watched these transformations unfold, I realized that I no longer aligned with just a nutrition-centered practice, but still wasn’t sure how to bridge the gap between where I was with my business and where I really wanted to be.

 

Then this last week, in the middle of another frustrating battle, and subsequent breakdown, with my copy, messaging and marketing (all things I dread by the way), I realized something – It wasn’t flowing because it wasn’t my truth. Well, not my whole truth anyway. You see, I’m not interested in taking my clients half way and focusing in on what I consider to be only one aspect of healing and transformation. I’m interested in co-creating and rendezvousing with those who are ready to chew on the whole enchilada. Those who are looking to wake up a year from now and say, “I don’t even recognize the person I used to be.” Those who are willing, able and committed to finding purpose and passion every day and who are ready to fight the good fight to bring forth their authenticity and divine truth.

 

Does nutrition line up with this? Absolutely. You must have a well-oiled machine if you want to win the race, but is it the whole picture? Not from what I’ve found. In fact, over the last couple years, I’ve found that there are really 6 key areas of the human experience that impact whether or not we will ever reach our fullest potential and live a life of freedom and happiness, of health and wellness. They are: Diet, Sleep, Exercise, beliefs/mindset, relationships and finances. And yes, I’m aware that the last one is a loaded topic, but it’s true. I’ve met people who were eating the best diets and sleeping 8 hours a night, but were riddled with dis-ease because they were constantly worried sick about money or, on the flip side, who felt terrible living large because what they really wanted was to live off the grid in a more sustainable way. Like it or not, money plays a role in all of our lives and our alignment with what feels good to us matters – whatever that may be!

 

In my mind, each one of these aspects compliments the others like a beautiful tapestry with multi-colored threads woven throughout. The picture simply wouldn’t be complete without each individual colored strand, and that is the way I have found healing to occur. I believe with my whole heart that when we are not in alignment with the higher purpose we come here to this earth for, that our bodies will find a way of telling us this. Maybe it starts out small like feeling a little tired and burned out, but as we continue to ignore the messages, our body and inner beings turn into screaming toddlers, throwing tantrums and trying every trick they know to get our attention.

 

The more we ignore the message, the louder the fits get until finally, and usually in a grand-gesture of frustration, we end up with something more serious like autoimmunity, heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety, thyroid issues or some psychosomatic condition conventional medicine has no answer for (um, hello me). Then, and only then, with our backs pinned against the wall, do we usually listen up and THIS is the pivotal moment where we have a choice. A choice to choose a new path, the one that’s always been waiting for us, being held in trust by our higher consciousness, or to turn away in fear and continue to live a life with our hearts and souls closed off to all that we are wasting away what precious time we have left in this mortal body.

 

For those who choose option A, the path will not always be clear or easy – that is to be expected, and where I come in as a coach. I decided to go at this journey alone, but not because I wanted to. At the time, I simply didn’t realize there were coaches out there who were acting as mentors and guides and facilitators for those like myself who were walking the path of awakening and transformation, or I would have absolutely enlisted the help someone wiser. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t’ have teachers. I read books, I listened to books, I listened to podcasts, I read blogs, I Googled an inordinate amount of questions, I went to retreats, I spoke with friends and family, I saw therapists, I went to yoga classes, I meditated, I saw energy healers, I followed inspiring Instagram accounts and so much more. I submerged myself into the space of transformation because it was what I wanted more deeply than anything I’d ever wanted, and you can too. I went through much trial and error in my own journey, and while I certainly don’t preach one way of living (there are a million different ways to align), I do feel like all those experiences put me in a much better position to guide others down the path of awakening and reformation.

 

I believe that there are more of us than ever hearing the call. The call that says, “There’s more. I am more.” It is when we hear this call that we must listen or our resistance to it will build and gain so much momentum that our lives will begin to disintegrate before our eyes as the universe drags us along down the path to our dreams. We can go kicking and screaming, getting beat up along the way by the dusty road of stagnation and fear, or we can let go, surrender and trust that where we are heading is grander than anything we could have imagined for ourselves. It is our choice.

 

So, with that being said, this is the gentle, but exciting shift I will be making with my clients and in my platform. I’m not entirely sure how it will all unfold, and that part is exciting to me now. But I do know that this new, more expansive direction feels right and feels good. I can’t wait to be a part of the many journeys of total life transformation that are to come. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing my clients lives improve as they learn to lean into their intuitive nature and step into their power and vitality. But none of that is possible without addressing more than just our diets. More than just what’s in front of us in a way that we can see, touch and hear. We must go deeper if we are to truly change, and that is what I hope to bring to the table in this new direction. I hope you’ll stick along for the ride. I have a feeling it’s only going to get bigger and better from here. Until next time...

 

Much love, 

Sy 

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Self-Loathing to Self-Love: My Not-So-Pretty Journey from Fear to Happiness

 

 

My journey to self-love was not a beautiful, gentle, existential unfolding that one day manifested magically into happily-ever-after (although some days it feels that way now). No, true to character, I found the steepest, hardest, rockiest and most ragged mountain to self-love I could climb and set forth without the slightest clue where I was going or any rational amount of gear for the trek. Luckily, I lived to tell about it and let me tell you, the view from the top made every stumble, fall and bruise worth it.  

 

You see, I fought my story and I fought it hard.  I struggled against it. I punched it and kicked it and screamed at it until my face turned blue. I cursed it relentlessly… but, like all stoic parents, it stood there calmly until I was done and welcomed me back with open arms as I finally relinquished my fears and found solace in its Being. In fact, before I climbed up on the woo-woo train I live on now, I considered the term self-love to be incredibly annoying – a catchy headline crafted for lame magazine articles or for people in life (myself included) who just had to find a way to feel better about the fact that they didn't measure up and never would. Self-love was bullshit and I didn’t need it. I’d be fine on my own, just like I always had been. Except not really.

 

When I was 5 years old, my parents got in divorced and my father disappeared from our lives for the next 25 years. No phone calls, no visits - not a peep. While I realize that divorced parents certainly aren’t the worst thing a child can go through, it was incredibly difficult for my 5-year old brain to wrap my head around the fact that it wasn’t my fault. I took it hard and developed a story-line that would follow me throughout the rest of my life. It went like this:

 

“He left because you weren’t enough and you’re not lovable. If you were, he would have stayed. Therefore, figure out how to be lovable and perfect and no one will ever leave you again. Oh, and by the way, you NEED others to love you because, without their love, you are nothing and no one.”

 

Ouch.

 

I put those gray, gloomy glasses on, and I never once took them off until my life fell a part so hard that I didn’t have any other choice but to question everything I’d ever known or believed.

 

While it was fairly harmless as a child, as I continued grow, this story line evolved into something bigger. It needed an outlet, somewhere to go other than inside my brain with all it’s swirling, racing thoughts, and so it took on a life of it’s own. At age 12, I had my first panic attack, and my anxiety disorder was born. Fearful and obsessive thoughts became my norm, as did feelings of unworthiness and self-loathing because clearly, I wasn’t normal. When you spend your days working to be perfect, the realization that you are not, in fact, perfect, and even worse, kind of weird, delivers a striking blow to your self-concept. Everything was scary. I developed phobias and fears, obsessive thinking patterns and constant physical manifestations of my stress. I wouldn’t eat in fear of getting sick, I wouldn’t make friends in fear that they’d see how weird I was, I wouldn’t try new hobbies for fear that I’d fail, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t… I remember hiding as much as possible from the world around me in hopes that staying small and unseen would keep me safe. After all, the world was scary and people were even scarier, and if it was me against them, it had to be me. 

 

For better or worse, my family learned to work around my irrational (and exhausting) list of fears, but it never occurred to me that others wouldn’t as well. As I entered into high school, I quickly realized that I’d better learn another way of staying safe because I was getting a lot of attention, and I couldn’t hide anymore. So, being the smart little cookie that I am, I adapted and figured the next best way to hide: I conformed.

 

I studied out exactly what was cool - what was acceptable - how to manipulate and control my appearance, personality and experiences so that they seemed like I was not only normal, but worth liking. But, underneath it all, I was a mess. I was terrified that at any moment I would be exposed and that everyone around me would find out my deep, dark secret. That truly, I was nothing.

 

As I look back on my life, I recognize how many of my choices weren’t my own. Not because other people were making them for me, but because I was basing them off of what I thought others wanted me to do and it was exhausting. This manifested in as many ways you can think of, from pretending to like certain music to giving my body over to boys I never should have. Never once, however, did it occur to me that anything was wrong with this scenario. All I was concerned with was being better than everyone around me so that I didn’t have to face my own fears. Essentially, I wasn’t a very nice girl to be around and this behavior only got worse the older I got. I went from innocently gossiping about other girls in high school to hating every other woman that dared enter into my vortex. I was jealous, insecure and vicious, and it affected not only me but all of my relationships as well. Every one seemed to give me weird vibes, but of course, it was them not me, right?

 

In my early twenties, my anxiety had gotten so bad that I was having a hard time leaving the house. I was ruining simple things like dinners out with my family and would worry about bigger events like vacations months in advance for fear that I’d have a panic attack - which, I invariably then would. They would last for hours and hours, and I’d suck everyone around me into the experience. As much as I hated the anxiety, I hated myself even more for having it. I felt broken and exposed and out of control. And in this lack of control, I began controlling everything and everyone around me in an attempt to make sense of my life. Nothing was left to chance. I became suspicious and fearful of everyone. No motive was left unchecked and no situation was left to chance. There was no room for error or spontaneity in my world. It was too risky.

 

Then, one night, in the middle of an attack, a friend of mine offered me a little blue pill that made all my problems disappear. I had found my new best friend – Xanax. This simple little pill gave me the kind of relief I’d looked for my entire life. For the first time, maybe ever, I sat on the couch without a care in the world and laughed. It felt good, and I was hooked. All I had to do when things got shaky or my nerves acted up was throw back a little pill and I would melt into oblivion.

 

For the next 8 years, anytime life felt hard, or the elephant on my chest got heavy, I had a trusty back up. There was no stopping me now. I could party as hard as I wanted to and mask the effects with my little friend. I could get in an argument and five minutes later not give two shits about it. I could fly across the country and knock myself out for 24 hours if I wanted. Anxiety attacks? What were those? I hadn’t had one in years. I controlled my anxiety. I was finally normal. I had found a band-aide so large that it seemed as if no pain couldn't be conquered.

But, here’s the interesting thing about numbing. It's not a selective beast. When I learned to numb the bad, I unknowingly numbed the good as well.

 

Connection? Out of the question.

Happiness? Seems impossible.

Fulfillment? Not meant for me.

Clarity and peace of mind? A pipedream.

Purpose and passion? Only for special people.

True love? Terrifying.

 

Despite the fact that I was no longer physically having attacks, the fear never left. I covered it, but I didn’t fix it. I was still broken and damaged, and now also a slave. You see, without my side-kick, I was vulnerable, weak and open to attack. Which meant that I had to make sure my protection followed me everywhere. It was an addiction, but if you’d asked me then, I was fine. I had come to believe that I NEEDED those pills to survive. That without them, I wasn’t strong enough, smart enough, normal enough, good enough, courageous enough to be ok. Nothing had changed. I still wasn’t enough – I was just an expert at covering it up.

 

The relationship I called into my life during those years did nothing to prove me wrong either. I know now that we call into our life experiences which will uncover and trigger all our deepest wounds in an attempt to heal them, but at the time, I thought my problems stemmed from the fact that I was defective. My boyfriend at the time had a habit of breaking up with me when things got rough, triggering my deepest, darkest fears of abandonment. But, instead of recognizing these situations for what they were (a call to heal my misperceptions), I took them to mean something else entirely: I had to be even MORE perfect. Each and every time he left (which I don’t blame him for given the circumstances), I beat myself into the ground for not being what he wanted and worked to pretend I was fabulous and happier than ever. Sadly, it worked, and I continued to draw him back into my experience, only to unravel once again into self-hatred, control, jealousy, fear and self-sabotage – which would again, send him running for the hills. It was a vicious cycle that lasted for 7 years and only worked to confirm and deepen my fears rather than heal them.

 

Then something occurred to me that changed me world and uprooted my beliefs in a way that nothing before every had. I don’t know why, what or who led me to my decision, but something inside of me thought, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” I didn’t want to be dependent on something outside of myself anymore for happiness (or what I thought was happiness at the time.) I didn’t want to carry around a bottle of prescription ‘calm’ with me everywhere I went or rely on those pills to get through a day. Something inside of me was desperate to be free, and while I didn’t know it at the time, I was willing to risk everything to get it.

Looking back, I could have done it a much easier way. But, like I said, I chose the hard path, and I refuse now to beat myself up over it. I did the best I could with what I knew to be true in those times. I wish I could say that it was sunshine and roses from that moment on, but in all truth, things got a lot worse before they got better. I quit a powerful drug cold-turkey and had no clue what consequences lay in waiting for me. My mind dissolved almost instantly into complete terror and what had seemed like panic attacks before now looked meek and mild in comparison to the episodes I was having now.

 

I was losing my mind, and I didn’t know what to do about it. Some stubborn ounce of reserve kept me from going back to my drugs, but I was out on an open ledge with no protection and no idea how to talk myself down.

 

I pushed everyone away. I couldn’t hold a job, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t make love, I could barely go to the grocery store… Once again, I couldn’t, and I was pissed.

 

So I did what every sane, average person would do –  I began a healing journey so intense that it would unravel every single thread of my life in order to put it back together in a more authentic way that matched who I really was underneath it all.

 Doesn’t everybody Eat, Pray, Love their way through life like that?

 

Sounds nice, yeah? It was – and it wasn’t – and it was – and it wasn’t – and it was.  It would take me about three years to get to where I am now - happy and free and loving my life. Three years filled with more pain that I thought I could physically bear and more happiness than I ever knew was humanly possible. The journey has not been a linear path of rolling hills and grassy fields, but rather an arduous, sometimes life-threatening adventure filled with peaks and valleys of all depths. There were in fact, many moments in time where I considered ending my life and pictured how sweet of release it would have been. And I don’t say that lightly. But somewhere, in the back of my stubborn mind, there was always a dim light of hope that there WAS something more – something better – something good – even when I couldn't see it.

 

The first two years, I healed many parts of myself, but most of them were physical. Through the use of a real-food diet and meditative tools, my anxiety dissipated into a distant memory. My body changed from frail and sickly to thriving and healthy. I learned new ways of thinking, new patterns of thoughts and new beliefs and ways of interacting with others. But still, one lingering issue remained: I didn’t actually love myself, and I still didn’t believe anyone else could either.

 

It didn’t make sense. Based on how far I’d come and how well my life was going, I should have been happier than I’d ever been, yet I was battling an internal war no one knew about. I was empty, and still numb, and in a last ditch attempt to find out if I was lovable, I self-sabotaged in the most hurtful way I possibly could have. And while I still cringe a bit in sharing this part of myself, it would leave out the most important part of my story so far: My ultimate catalyst to self-acceptance, love and compassion. 

 

In my desperate search for validation and acceptance, I led myself into the arms of someone who was not my boyfriend. It was as if I was 16 years old again, looking for anything and anyone to fill the void – the emptiness and loneliness – the lack of love from the one person who mattered most – myself.

 

While I stubbornly believed that I just needed my boyfriend to love me more... not leave me so much... not dislike my annoying habits so much... in order for me to happy, I failed to realize that it was never about him. It never mattered if he stayed or went. It never mattered if he loved me or not. None of my actions were, or were not, about him. But you bet your ass that’s what I went with. We always search outside ourselves for answers until we no longer have a choice and that is exactly what happened.

After trying to work it out one last time, he left, and he didn’t come back. I was 5 years old once again, and every fear I’d ever had about being unlovable, unworthy and no good to anyone roared through my psyche and threatened to consume me. This was it. I was backed against the wall, living with a shame so deep it left me breathless and unable to cope with the consequences of my actions. You think others have the power to threaten your self-love? Try loving yourself when you've done something very, very hurtful and wrong. To say I was my own worst critic would have been a gross understatement. There was no where to run, no one to blame, no where to hide…There was no choice but the one right in front of me. It was time to heal once and for all.

 

And that is what I did. With no power whatsoever to change my outside circumstances, I had no choice but to turn inward. For me, this looked a lot like reclusiveness. I read, I walked, I wrote in my journal, I cried, I cooked, I listened to books, podcasts and talks, I cried some more, I did yoga, I did energy work, I meditated, I took long, warm baths, I prayed, I cried again, I exercised too much, I exercised too little, I ate too much, I ate too little, I yelled and screamed and cried again until I there were no tears left, but all along I searched. Little by little, I began to learn more about myself and felt the weight lift. I saw glimpses of the woman I was becoming, full of pain but also resolve and integrity, and it felt nice. I began to feel kinder, more loving and more accepting of others. As I started to slowly let myself off the hook, I was able to let others off as well. As I allowed myself to be where I was, it was ok for others to be in their own space too. My relationships began to heal, and I realized that we all feel pain, and that no one feels in control. I learned that change is what keeps life exciting and that I was resilient even in the face of uncertainty. I learned that there is a source much greater than me ALWAYS working for me and my highest good, and that I am safe no matter what. I learned that when I stay committed to tuning in, I don't do or say hurtful things. It's when I veer from my truth that I get scared and lash out. I learned that the world is anything but scary and that it's ok to laugh, and then cry because I'm laughing. I learned that it's ok to feel scared by the depth of my own happiness, and that I can try again tomorrow when I unravel back into old patterns. I learned that I'm not weird for feeling such deep emotions and that my passion is exactly what makes me so beautiful. I learned that the emotions I feared would never sweep me away like I imagined, so I might as well quit running from them. But, then, in the most unexpected and beautiful unfolding of all, I learned the one thing that mattered most…

 

While traveling across the state to visit a friend, I had some good music on in the car and miles of beautiful scenery before me. I was feeling good. I was feeling happy and light and carefree. Feelings that were becoming more and more regular the deeper into my healing I went. Sunshine was warming my skin and my mind felt calm, peaceful and clear. In that moment, as if from somewhere outside of myself I was delivered a thought so clear and beautiful it’s hard to describe in words. I realized for the first time who it was that had gotten me there to that delicious moment of joy. It was as if I was seeing two girls, both myself, but one of which who always known this moment in time would come. She was the one who pulled me off the bathroom floor so many times in the middle of a melt down. She was the one who whispered “there’s a better way” when I was blind to it. She was the one who led me to the books and teachers, who then led me to healing, which led me to happiness. She was the one who, when I felt like I couldn’t possibly go on, grabbed me and threw me on her back to carry me the rest of the way.

 

In that moment, upon realizing that there were no mountains she would not climb for me, nothing she would not do to ensure my happiness and peace, and that this girl was ME, I fell in love. Giddy, star-struck, mouth-open-in-amazement love. And yes, I cried. A lot. I’m a crier, and that’s ok.

 

In that moment, I realized what it meant to become whole. I appreciate and love that girl inside so much, that even if someone came up to me tomorrow spewing hateful comments about her, I wouldn’t believe them. I’ve seen what she’s done for me, and no one can convince me otherwise. I love her unconditionally. I may make mistakes, but she never does. I may choose fear over love, but she never will. I may forget who I am, but she will always know. And her and I are inseparable. She is my new sidekick, and I kinda like her….

 

To me, self-love is about so much more than looking in the mirror and liking what you see looking back. It’s more than enjoying your personality or writing down a list of positive qualities. It’s bigger than all of that. Self-love is the absolute alignment with who you are – It is an energy and love so great that it creates worlds – it’s recognizing that no person, no experience, no place and no thing has the power to separate you from that which you are, which IS LOVE.

 

It would be silly to say that I’ll never experience negative or fearful emotions again. I do all the time. I’m human after all, and that’s ok. It’s more than ok, it’s perfect. We all get triggered and we all want to be loved and accepted. Even the darkest, ugliest parts of ourselves are just searching for love.

 

But, I will never again doubt that there is someone who loves me unconditionally and irrationally, and now I will always know that that person is me.

 

My story may not look like yours, and that’s fine. That’s not really the point. I share this with you today not to relate, but rather to say that no matter what your story is, it’s waiting for you with open arms, ready to love you unconditionally. There is nothing wrong with you or any of us. We are not broken, we do not need fixing and we are certainly not damaged. We may need some polishing from time to time and a little TLC, but hear me when I say this, YOU ARE NOT BROKEN and neither am I. Today I feel happy, beautiful and free. Today I feel empowered beyond belief and able to tackle anything that comes my way with patience, grace and humility. Life is not as simple as one, measly blog post about self-love, but it is as simple as this:

"Decide you want to love yourself and don’t stop until you get there."

 

When we make the decision to heal, we WILL be led to circumstances and experiences that will call it forth. It might not always look pretty, but it will get you there if you trust the process. You don’t have to understand self-love today or tomorrow or even the next day. Just trust that you will someday and look for evidence to support that belief every day until you have your own moment in the car.

 

Signing off with love,

Sy

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When You Feel Ready to Snap...


WHEN YOU FEEL READY TO SNAP  

Do you ever have those days (or perhaps weeks at a time) when you just can’t pull it together? The days when you’re not even sure what’s going on because nothing is particularly wrong, yet you find yourself irritated with every little thing that’s done or said around you, and after a while, it begins to look like a pattern?  Those times when no matter who is doing the talking, you just wish they’d shut up and leave you be?

 

Even on the days where you wake up and promise yourself you’ll be better today – more patient, more understanding and less bitchy – you still find yourself exasperated for no reason and wish you could just crawl under a rock, cover your ears and drown everyone out. Those are the days/weeks/months I’m talking about. And yes, if you’ve been having “a month,” it’s ok. That’s what we’re here to uncover and unpack today. No, you’re not broken, you’re not a terrible person and you’re not certainly not doomed. And no matter what your spouse, best friend or boss says when they are frustrated with you, you are not always like this. You are, however, in a need of a little compassion and that’s what we’re here to give you. Before we get started, however, I want to share a beautiful quote from the Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching that will give you a look into the journey we’re headed into today. Read it slowly, and twice if you have to, but let its profoundness sink in. Swirl it around on your tongue like ice cream and taste its sweetness. These words might just be your saving grace…

 

“A man is born gentle and weak.

At his death he is hard and stiff.

 

Trees are tender and filled with sap in life.

At their death, they are withered and dry.

 

Therefore, the stiff and unbending are the disciples of death.

The gentle and yielding, disciples of life.

 

Thus, a man without flexibility never wins a battle.

A tree that is unbending is easily broken in the wind.

 

The hard and strong will fall.

The soft and weak will overcome.”

 

When you feel ready to snap, ready to explode, ready to fall apart, its never for the reason you think…

Your life may not be falling a part, in fact, I’m willing to bet you work very hard to make sure it stays pulled together...

Your life may not be falling a part, in fact, I’m willing to bet you work very hard to make sure it stays pulled together - completely in tact, not a hair out of place. Your surface probably looks shiny and bright to the untrained eye, and even those who know you best may not understand why on earth you react the way you do sometimes. But when you least expect it, its there. A bubbling anger that threatens to spew out like vomit when the kids suddenly break a dish or the dog jumps in the car with muddy feet. YOU might not even understand why the smallest, and most trivial of problems can spin you into complete melt down.  One minute you’re happily milling along, checking things off your to-do list, and the next, someone cuts you off in traffic, you spill coffee on your new blouse and your entire day is ruined.

 

The tighter you hold on, the stiffer you become. The stiffer you become, the more likely you are to crack.

When we hold tightly onto sand, it will pour out every crevice and crack in our fingers until there’s nothing left but a few grains. But, if we open our palm, and let it sit there, we could hold it indefinitely. And such is life.

The more you squeeze, and perfect, and wish, and grip, and control and manipulate and mold your life and everyone in it, the more they start to slip away. The more things start to stiffen up, with no room for error. No space for breath. No wonder you feel like snapping. You’re stiff. You’re holding on so tight trying your damnedest not to get bucked off the bull, how could you possibly make room for love, fun, lightness and laughter?

 

But here’s the thing. Your soul is speaking to you. Your highest self is calling out, telling you something is amiss. This is what we refer to as “the snap.”

You’re not losing it on the customer service rep because they lost your package. You’re losing it because you’re tight.  

You’re not yelling at your husband because he got home from work late and forgot to call. You’re screaming because you’re contracted.

You’re not crying on the floor because you’re stressed about work, three days late on your period and looking at a stack of bills. You’re sobbing because you’re losing the control you grip so tightly to.

These experiences of breakdown are your soul’s ways of calling attention to the areas that need some healing and compassion. Every time we contract, we’re afraid. Yet, we don’t know how to handle this fear, so we snap. We project. We push it off of ourselves and onto any and every person we come in contact with just so we don’t have to feel it burning a hole in our skin. Perhaps if we knew what we were afraid of, we could fix it, but we don’t even know what we’re running from. We’ve never turned around to look at it, we just know it’s big and scary.

But what if there’s a better way? What if you didn’t have to run around stiffer than the tin man in his body armor warding off any potential mistakes, mess ups or tricky spots? What if, instead of living from the view point that the world is about perfection and achievement, you started toying with ideas of curiosity, kindness and compassion? Do you think that vice grip might loosen around your chest a bit? And the rubber band around your head might relax? And if happened, do you think that last straw would feel so definitive? I’m here to tell you that it wouldn’t.

Millions of people are walking around right now feeling that they aren’t enough and this makes us tense. This makes us feel like we have to protect ourselves and be ready to fight for our place in this world at any moment.

THE REAL REASON YOU SNAP

Millions of people are walking around right now feeling that they aren’t enough and this makes us tense. This makes us feel like we have to protect ourselves and be ready to fight for our place in this world at any moment. Our lives aren’t enough, our homes aren’t enough, our families aren’t enough, friends, clothes, intelligence, kindness, charity, cars, you name it. Not enough. And not in an ungrateful kind of way, but in a fearful, scarcity-based kind of way. If WE aren’t enough, nothing else can be either. It won’t matter if every day is a perfect day where nothing goes wrong and everyone around you shows you unconditional love. That’s not the issue.

The issue is that you’re hiding an unspeakable, shame-based fear that no matter what you do, say, think or are, it won’t be enough, and this fear then colors every interaction you have with the world and those around you. This makes you tight and ready to snap. THAT is why you yell at your sister on the phone after you tanked your work presentation earlier that day. THAT is why you can’t stand your mother-in-laws criticism when your kids are acting up and lash back in anger. THAT is why you break down crying when your spouse teases you about your shortcomings in a loving way you can’t see.

 

You’re not snapping because whatever or whoever pissed you off. You’re snapping because those things remind you of the fact that, no matter how hard you try to hold it all together, at the end of the day you’re not enough.

 

But this is where we get it wrong. You see, you are more than enough. No matter what you’ve done, not done, said or not said, been or not been, it doesn’t change the fact that you are everything you’re supposed to be and more. Can you imagine living from this space? Can you imagine what the entire world would be like if we all just took a deep breath and knew internally that We. Are. Enough.? How many arguments, fights and even wars could be avoided if we weren’t so scared that there was never enough? How many “snaps” we’d pass by if we weren’t wound like a guitar string waiting to pop on the first person who suggests we didn’t get it right?

 

AWAKEN TO YOUR COMPASSION

With this in mind, I have a challenge for you. As one of my favorite writers coined, I challenge you this week to “live loved.” Live as if everyone and everything around you loved you. Live as if you KNOW how much the universe and God conspire FOR you, not against you.

 

If you’re living loved, what would you do differently? Would you take better care of yourself? Would you laugh more? Rest easy knowing everything would be ok? Smile at that stranger instead of wondering why they were starring? Laugh at your lover’s jokes instead of find them offensive? Collaborate with your boss instead of assuming she has it out for you?

 

Find ways to Live Loved and see how it transforms your life. As always, feel free to share your experiences. I love hearing from you.

 

Much love,

Sy 

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