Everything We Want is Just Beyond Our Comfort Zone.

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I had a creative writing professor in college who told me I was a terrible writer. Ok, well she never looked me in the eye and said my writing was no good, but she tore apart everything I wrote and encouraged the class to do the same. Apparently, she never heard of a compliment sandwich. I remember feeling unworthy and embarrassed of anything I wrote during her class, and left each day feeling like I should never write again. Week after week, my writing worsened and I could not wait for the class to end. I will never forget this professor.
 For some strange reason, I decided to continue to follow my passion for writing in college, and took a poetry writing class. My professor was encouraging and pointed out everything that was beautiful and spot on about my writing. I remember feeling engaged, and always left her class feeling inspired about my writing. Each week, as I reached deep, I expressed words and phrases that I never knew I could find within myself. My writing got better and better, and I was truly saddened when the class ended. I will never forget this professor.
 In the end, I decided to continue writing, as it brought me so much joy, and despite my first professor’s opinion, I have found that others have responded positively to my writing.
 Looking back, both professors were important in my learning, but the one that caused me discomfort, taught me the greatest lessons. I would like to share these with you, in hopes that you can look deep within yourself and know you are valuable, worthy, and inspiring, no matter what someone else may tell you, and that everyone and everything is here to help you.
 What did I learn from my professor who was full of negativity, criticism and doubt?
1. I learned to look within myself to find the truth.
2. I learned to not give my power away.
3. I learned that people are subjective in their opinions.
4. I learned to give myself what I needed to succeed.
5. I learned that everyone is truly doing their best.
6. I learned that a life lived without awareness, creates actions against others without awareness.
7. I learned to use discernment in who is giving me information.
8. I learned everyone and everything is here to help us.
9. I learned there are gifts in the strangest of places, and the cruelest of faces.
10. I learned there is no such thing as constructive criticism. That if you give people enough love, support and guidance, the best will be brought out of them naturally.
11. I learned to follow my heart because nobody knows what is right for me, except me.
 No matter what we choose to do in life, we are so often met with obstacles, rejection and mountains to climb. But we must remember that it is in these challenges that we find the greatest gifts. If everything was easy, what would we learn?  How would we grow?
 We are stretched from getting uncomfortable. When someone steps into our world and tries to knock us down, give their opinion or is just plain rude. It is in that space where we ask the most pertinent questions. Is this my truth or is this their truth? How is this helping me?
 Everything we could ever want out of life is just beyond our comfort zone. If being uncomfortable were easy, we would all welcome it with open arms. But it is not. Being uncomfortable is tough. We feel like our lives are out of control, our days are chaotic, the moments uneasy, and this can all really freak us out. We can feel like all we know is being taken from us. We can feel fear, doubt and even paranoia.
 In order to deal with this discomfort we may turn to addictions, blame, blindly reacting to others, or helplessness. When this happens, and we dodge the feelings that arise, we never get beyond our comfort zone, and never receive the gifts.
 The only way to have all we aspire to have is through this discomfort. Let the feelings come and go. If we tread gently with ourselves and others, we can rise above the uneasiness, by sitting within it. We can look not what is right in front of us, but what is just beyond the horizon. And then we can act with awareness, consciousness and know exactly what we need to do without any morsel of doubt. Sometimes we take action, and other times we sit still.
 If we can hold on through the discomfort, we will be receiving exactly what we need, what is in the highest and best outcome for all. Then the letting go occurs and upon our arrival we receive the gift we have been waiting for – all that we could have ever imagined for ourselves and our lives.
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 So, the next time someone gives you their opinion, triggers you, or flips you off in traffic, say thank you. Instead of reacting, check in with yourself. For, they may have just given you a gift of pushing you smack into your discomfort zone. And here, may be all you have ever wanted. Life gives us challenges and tests, don’t be fooled by the ones that cause us discomfort. These are the greatest gifts with the ugliest wrapping paper.
 Want help or more information on navigating life’s discomfort zones? Contact Beth today.

Count Your Blessings

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We have all heard the saying count your blessings.  Be grateful.  Appreciate what you have.  Say thank you. Sometimes this feels fake. Does it not?  When we are having a bad day, or things do not go as we had hoped. When we lose someone we love, become ill, have a child that struggles socially, or just don’t have the life we want, we don’t want to appreciate what we have! And at that moment, we shouldn’t. We are not ready.

It is not the time to count our blessings but to become brutally honest, and shout,”Wow, this sucks!  I do not like this at all.” Allow ourselves to feel lonely, sad, pissed off, as deeply and thoroughly as possible.  To be disappointed, frustrated, jealous, heartbroken. To leave judgment aside, and stop labeling our emotions as good or bad. If we are angry, be freaking angry or unbelievably sad. Scream, punch pillows, be a bitch. Most of us, don’t allow ourselves to feel. Instead, we want to blame someone else because we don’t like what we are feeling. Sometimes it is another person, or even God that we blame. Yet, hiding, judging, blaming or denying our feelings is what keeps these emotions hanging around like an unwanted house guest. And we never actually get to count our blessings.

Just this week, I was given a chance to feel the gamut of human emotions. I allowed them to come and go like a summer sun shower. At the end of the week, after a particularly long day, I sat and watched my son, Drew, in his Tae Kwon Do class. Having struggled with gross motor coordination, he has progressed beautifully, and watching him attempt to follow Master Kwon was beautiful. Yet, I was distracted, as news of my daughter’s torn ACL ligament was fresh in my mind, and a mother’s worry about an serious injury, trumps roundhouse kicks. Emotions such as anger, frustration, fear, sadness, disbelief took their turn, emerging from my heart in succession. In fact, I was so completely engrossed in details of picking up her pain medications, scheduling surgery, canceling college soccer ID camps, I did not notice a boy, much older than Drew, who had run off the mat, crying, until he was right next to me. The boy sat huddled in a ball so tight, it seemed he wanted to disappear. After a few minutes of encouragement by his mother and instructor, the boy returned to class, leaving behind tears imprinted upon his mother’s heart.

I was about to go back to the mindless chatter in my head, but life had other plans. The  boys’ mother spoke to me, as she wiped away her own tears.”He had a brother who was eighteen years old.  He died a year ago.”  She pointed to her younger son, now back out on the mat. I observed his arms folded protectively in front of his chest, adamantly protesting his participation in class. “He has never been the same,” she added, before turning away.

I knew her wounds were still fresh, a year is drop in the bucket when it comes to losing a child. Without trying, I pushed aside my worries and listened compassionately. I did not know what it would be like to lose a child at the tender age of eighteen, but I offered up the information how Drew struggled when he first started class, and how great the instructors had been with him. I explained his sensory processing disorder. How his confidence is often compromised because of all he has been through.

The mom then uttered,”Is that okay if I pray for your son?”

I was speechless.  How harrowing an experience she has been through, yet she was praying for my son. I thanked her, and could not gather my thoughts as before, nor could I tap into the feelings. I could only begin counting my blessings. There are no accidents. I had allowed myself eight hours of worry, anger, sadness and honest frustration at life. And now it was time to see the gift life had just planted in my lap. The gift of remembering that life happens when we are making other plans. And sometimes what happens in life is shitty, and sometimes it is horrific. It is not about denying our feelings, but being honest with ourselves.  And only through honesty, can we somehow become thankful for all that we have, come to know that it is not what happens to us in life, but how we react to it. And it is not about all that we do not have, but how beautiful and giving life is, no matter what we are feeling. How living life from this higher perspective, sends  a wave of appreciation out into the world, or at least to the person sitting next to you.

Of course, we cannot rush it – that moment of appreciation will appear when we are ready.   It may take eight hours or eight years. Grief will run its course as our the tears we shed, wash away all that clouds our vision, until we begin to know how lucky we all truly are. How crappy things are often dressed up in an ice pack of pain, yet honesty reduces the swelling of unfortunate events, until we allow ourselves to open our eyes to what is next for us. How there is a time for everything, and if we do not get there on own, life will help us out. We often have little control in this life, but we can make the choice to not look a gift horse in the mouth.

I did silently pray for both the mother next to me, and her son. And then I thought about how I could ruminate on all that my son is not, or I could admire his strengths, his gifts and the beautiful person that he is.  I could focus on the hill that my daughter will be climbing, all she may be missing, or I could bring to mind what life may be bringing to her during her recovery – opportunities she may not have had, new experiences, and a strength deep inside that she had never before witnessed.

We can never know what life has in store for us, and we can say, “Really life?  Is this the best that you got?” And then we can say, “thank you.” For our hidden treasures are often wrapped in a tattered quilt, and when we spend the time expressing our hearts no matter what, life will drop a beautiful gift into our laps. And when we are ready, we can open it, and at the right moment, give it away to someone else.