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My Spiritual Journey

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My spiritual journey has been a wild one. It also started at a very early age. I was on a quest to learn the truth of why things are the way they are and how to make sense of human experiences for as long as I can remember.

Did you ever see the commercial for the illustrated Bible when you were a kid? I certainly did and asked my mom and dad to buy me one. I loved looking at it and I would read it to my dad at night whenever he was willing to be my audience. At that time one of my favorite movie was “The 10 Commandments” with Charlton Heston. Strange I know, and I really didn’t find that my friends and I had my interest in religion in common. My father had also taught me to do the Hail Mary whenever I was scared (which was a lot when I was a kid) and I have always felt very connected to Mother Mary.

Looking back I think I was trying to resolve the conflicting religions in my household. My mother was Jewish and my father was Catholic, but they agreed that their children would be raised Jewish. I never felt particularly connected to Judaism and found myself becoming more interested in Catholicism. I was drawn to beauty and rituals within the Mass and found the experience very comforting. I was baptized and confirmed Catholic when I was sixteen.

And then I lost my way. At the time I was trying to fit in with what my friends in college were doing and I became more interested in partying than praying. It was as if I needed to go to the other extreme to find myself and build up a spiritual experience of my own understanding. I learned to meditate as a way to treat my depression and anxiety and started participating in New Age spirituality. Even though I found New Age information very interesting, it didn’t necessarily feel like a feet or something I could put my faith in, but when I started doing research on Buddhism, everything shifted for me in very powerful ways.

My last year of college I did a senior thesis on an artist named On Kawara. I won’t bore you with the details, but the thesis involved a fairly in-depth study of Buddhism and Buddhist art. It was as if I had found all the answers to all the questions that I ever asked. The was the first time in my life where I began to experience peace for longer intervals and it has had a huge impact on the woman I am today and how I approach life. I never formally became a Buddhist, but did utilize a lot of the tenets as a philosophy to approach my life. I loved detachment, compassion, mindfulness, wisdom and karma.

I know that when I am suffering the most is because I have attached myself to a story that is causing me to suffer emotionally. I know that when I am feeling judgmental towards myself or another that it is a call for compassion. I know that when I am too focused on the past or the future I will feel uncomfortable and need to focus on the present moment in order to be more mindful. I know that for all my flaws there is apart of me that knows what is right, that wise part that each of us possesses if we so choose. I know that for every action or lack I action I take their will be a consequence good or bad.

I am truly oversimplifying here, but my point is that my spiritual search led me to what I was looking for and a way to be in the world that will allow me to fall asleep at night knowing I did my best and can only ever do a little bit better the next day. It can be that simple.

My spiritual journey is everything and nothing.

XOXO

LAURA

Posted in Uncategorized

Joyless Job?

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I have had some rough jobs. I started working when I was 18 years old and have had about 11 different jobs since. Some have been awesome, but more have not. That is why it became very important, early on, that I find a fulfilling career. It is so important to me that I wake up every morning without feeling dread for the day ahead and it is equally important to me that I support people in doing the same for themselves. Our work experience, much like the quality of our relationships, have a huge impact on how much joy we experience or a day-to-day basis. I become saddened when I come across people both professionally and personally who have limiting beliefs when it comes to what the are willing to do and tolerate at their respective jobs and careers. I have been in that position myself. There was a point in time when I forgot that a career and job can be a source of joy instead of completing depleting and soul sucking. I had never been so miserable and lacking in hope than when I depended on pay at a job I couldn’t stand. It created  disenchantment with the world and the possibilities it provided. I became jaded and cynical and would find myself feeling wistful when I remembered how excited I used to be when I thought about the future and the dreams I had for my life. I wanted that back and so I made it my mission to do right by myself and figure out an alternative.

So I became an entrepreneur! I wanted the freedom to create products that I believed in and knew (and know) without a doubt that serve the people I come in contact with on a daily basis. Sometimes it feels too good to be true, but I know that it is a very possible reality that anyone could experience if they choose. I have no idea how to teach people how to be entrepreneurs themselves, but I do have an alternative.

There are two ways I can help people in making their dreams a reality. One way is to receive one on one coaching with me in order to do some very in-depth work that will uncover what keeps you stuck when it comes to living your dream life. The second way is to join my dōTERRA team. Receiving one on one coaching is a great way to get clear on creating a life full of possibility, but the focus is not specific to career. That is why I wanted to share more about dōTERRA as a business opportunity if you feel that financial freedom and having a career lights you up more than participating in a coaching program where the focus is more on your life as a whole.

Working with dōTERRA, for me, has been all about restoring hope that feelings of enchantment could return and that living the life of my dreams could be a reality, rather than idealistic silliness. It is an opportunity to have a way of earning a residual income (meaning that money can be earned even while I sleep) so that my finances are not solely dependent on how many clients I can see in a given day (6 at the most). More than anything working with dōTERRA means…

Emotional and physical healing can be a  reality because we truly deserve all that is good. Misery is the symptom of a limiting belief that has taken on a life all its own, not the truth. It is through human connection and shared purpose that we can live an authentic and abundant life. 

I would LOVE to share this journey with you so please head over to my Business Opportunity page and learn how.

Even if the dōTERRA business model doesn’t speak to you, I would urge to to start looking into other ways to earn an income if your current job/career isn’t fulfilling you financially and/or spiritually. I can only speak to what I know and what has worked for me, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t tons of creative ways to earn money that will also improve your quality of life on many levels. I had learned about network marketing when I finished graduate school and knew I would be facing some serious debt, but at the time it did not sound like something I would ever in a million years be interested in doing. Now it is one of the most exciting aspects of my business both because the oils have changed my life and because of the limitless chances for growth with my income and personal growth. I wish the same for you with anything you are doing or chose to do.

XOXO

LAURA

 

Posted in Personal experiences, Uncategorized

Pain vs. Suffering

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I have often come across a misconception about the difference between pain and suffering and how to tell the difference. Pain is a factual reaction. What I mean by this is when you are in physical pain you can’t will or force it away. Hopefully it doesn’t linger or can be made bearable after a couple ibuprofen, but the experience in itself is very real. When we hit our funny bone or stub our toe we just have to ride out that wave of pain, knowing it will subside and at worst leave a bruise.

But what if after your hit your elbow or stubbed your toe, your day was totally ruined? Then you would have entered the land of suffering and that is a place that is very easy to crawl into, but takes work to crawl out of (like with lot of things). My hope with this example was to illustrate how pain (a very real experience) can be turned into suffering. Suffering occurs when we have had a painful experience and make a choice to let it stay on as a permanent house guest. Just to clarify, I am speaking more in terms of emotional pain than physical pain now. Let’s say that you had a challenging interaction with a co-worker this week and found that you were still upset about it when you got home or days later. At the time your emotional reaction was a fact. So your brain may say something like “Ugh that conversation made me feel so uncomfortable. My heart started racing and my stomach felt like it twisted into a knot.” At that point you can make a decision to either feel the uncomfortable feeling until it passes or let that uncomfortable feeling stay with you. Instead of your brain saying “That was a tense experience, I think I will go make a cup of tea or try to focus back on my work,” it would say “How dare my co-worker talk to me like that who does she think she is? I am going to call up my best friend and vent for an hour instead of getting my work done.” Can you relate? I know I can! I am the queen of throwing a pity party. Are there times when we can’t help that a situation has derailed us? Absolutely. My hope isn’t that you apply these tools to anything major (even though it might help a little), but more to help you get over the little things that can trip us up and keep up from staying on track. You do not need to boo hoo about a co-worker who is not an important person in your life! Save your gloom energy for when your really need it.

Step 1: When your emotions say “ouch” tune into your body, not your thoughts 

A feeling can be a very simple experience if we choose to be mindful of the physical sensation we are experiencing. I know that when someone says something to me that I perceive as hurtful my heart will start racing and my cheeks will feel hot. That is my body’s way of telling me that I hurt. I have found that when I can stop and pause while focusing on physical sensations, I can more often than not, find some relief. I might splash some cold water on my face or put my fingers to my pulse point to try to regulate my breathing. I have noticed that when I don’t take this moment to pause and just react to something hurtful, I become reactive and might either start crying or snap at the person without giving myself the time to calm down and think things through. The problem with this is that I am reacting to my thoughts vs. my feelings. Our feelings are very wise and only ask that we take care and soothe them, whereas our thoughts can take us on an emotional roller coaster that is totally unnecessary.

Next time you feel triggered I challenge and encourage you to isolate your focus to your body sensations. Our bodies have some serious wisdom and the best thing you can do in the moment when you feel angry, sad, scared, worried is to do what needs to be done to physically relax vs. overanalyzing and attempting to be intellectual in the moment. Voila! Problem solved.

But if you are still feeling the burn…

Step 2: Ask yourself if the cut is superficial or deeper

After you have taken a moment to calm your body down you might still feel upset. This could be for a number of reasons. Maybe someone you really care about did something hurtful or an area of your life where you experience a lot of fear has been activated. Taking the time to calm your body down is very helpful because it will at least deescalate you. The next step is to figure out if you can handle the discomfort or if more needs to be done. This is a good time to scale yourself and test out whether something small is going on or something bigger. Ask yourself “On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the absolute worst pain) where does this fall?” I generally direct my clients to try an let go of anything from 1-5 and take a deeper look at anything 5-10. I have found that using numbers can often help us have more perspective about any given situation and provide the reality check we might be needing in those more tricky life moments. If the answer is 5 or below this is a good time to use a more intensive coping skills (ex. leave the situation by going for a walk, take a bath or listen to some music) to try to shift the mood and change the channel on whatever got under your skin.

Next time you feel triggered scale the level of discomfort from 1-10 to determine your course of action. If your answer is a 5-10 proceed to the next step.

Step 3: If the cut is deeper ask yourself if the injury will still hurt in 6 months

The next step is to figure out if you can handle the pain or if more needs to be done. This is typically when I like to ask myself the question “Will this still bother me 6 months from now?” If the answer is no, it is a good time to learn how to tolerate emotional pain vs. acting on it. This means finding ways to comfort yourself in the moment (ex. call a friend to vent, making yourself a cup of tea or go for a long drive) instead of doing something based on how you are feeling. For example, I know that when my best friend snaps at me about something stupid, it hurts but typically she never says anything that mean. I will often find out later that she was having a bad day or going through something and her snapping was completing unconscious. I would have felt awful if I had used that as a time to get confrontational. In the moment I might want to say something rude back or tell her she sucks as a friend, but I know that is would regret it and it wouldn’t be true.

Next time you are feeling pain at a level of 5-10, on a 1-10 scale, determine if this is going to still bother you in 6 months. If not, do whatever helps you feel loved and supported. This is typically a good time to reach out to someone who helps you feel more positive or at least can make you laugh  At this point it may not be the best choice to sit with whatever is going on in your head alone.

If you have determined that the situation is still going to bother you in 6 months…

Step 4: Decide how to treat the cut  

So far each of the steps require coping skills, but sometimes basic coping skills aren’t going to cut it. This would be a good time to reach out to a therapist,coach or trusted advisor in order to talk things through. They may be able to offer the more objective advice that we require in more difficult situations. The great advantage of utilizing a professional is that they have an outside prospective in your life and can often provide an alternative approach that you may not have been able to think of on your own. If you have been able to identify that a situation is still going to bother you in 6 months, it is still in your best interest not to take action in that moment. When emotions are high, it is unlikely that your brain is working in a way that will bring you ideas for problem solving or provide a resolution. The most simplistic guidance I can give is to sleep on it before you do anything. I know this can seem almost unbearable, but you will be rewarded if you can give yourself time to look at a problem with rested eyes.

Next time your find that a situation is still going to bother you in the next  6 months consider calling a therapist or someone wise who can help achieve some perspective. Make a conscious choice to sleep on it before acting and readdress the next day. Give yourself time. You will find a solution and/or resolution even if you give yourself time to seek counsel and rest. This isn’t something to rush.

And if that doesn’t work…

Step 5: Observe the situation as a witness instead of a victim 

It can be so easy for use to fall into the role of victim when we feel wronged. This is often when we get caught up in believing we are right and the other person is wrong, blame, blame, blame, everything wrong happens to me etc. Even if you are the victim, it is not a very empowering energy to embody. I have done a lot of work with people who have had hugely traumatic experiences and I have found that without a doubt the ones that can shift out of a victim mentality, tend to heal and experience a more joyful life. It is the most incredible process to be see unfold, hands down!

The best way to start is to become mindful in the present moment without getting too caught up in what just occurred. Take a moment to really describe what is going on and the pain you are feeling. Maybe your pain has a color. Get creative! Next, you want to think in terms of explaining what happened using only the facts. I have noticed with my clients, that we take a lot of time on learning to focus on the facts of a difficult experience. It is so easy to begin to tell a “story” about what happened instead of what actually happened. You may even find that you can talk yourself off of a ledge by just focusing on what happened without trying to interpret. Lastly, remind yourself that even if the other person or circumstance is at fault, it is (and always will be) your responsibility to put yourself back together again. No one is going to rescue you sugar plum! You are more powerful and capable than you know.

And if that doesn’t work…

Step 6: Decide if external action needs to be taken

This is when we want to get a sheet of paper out and make a pros and cons list. Glamorous this is not, but necessary. If you have done all of the work in steps 1-5 chances are you have taking care of your side of the street. You have taken time to use coping skills, get some perspective and take responsibility for yourself. It is very possible that something may need to give so that your pain doesn’t become a lifetime of suffering. Maybe you need to leave a relationship, a job, or a home. Or maybe you need to have a conversation that could change a relationship (hopefully for the better) because something isn’t working. Whatever the case, it is helpful to weigh the pros and cons of taking an action step that could impact your life and other people. Chances are that once you have gotten to this step, something needs to change. A pros and cons list can give you some ideas as far as what direction you need to go in in order to move forward and heal from whatever suffering you are experiencing.

Make a decision from a place of love for yourself and others. This doesn’t mean that everything will be rainbows and unicorns, but it will be a step taken to living within your truth. Often when we are suffering it is because we are not living within our truth. Think about emotional pain as a sign that you need to do some serious checking in with yourself to make sure nothing has broken down spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Think of this process as a very thorough maintenance check. You could learn valuable and vital information about yourself that you would not have if you had just ignored it.

And if that doesn’t work…

Step 7: Repeat until you feel relief from suffering 

Get in touch if you get stuck 🙂 It is perfectly understandable to need to repeat the process as many times as necessary. Whatever happens and how it happens is what needs to happen.

XOXO

LAURA

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Homebody-isms

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I wanted to do something a bit more light-hearted today. If you have read my About page you will know that a lot of why I do the work I do comes from my own mental health struggles. I tell my story because I want people to be able to see themselves in me and feel less alone. I know that I have been most helped by people who have shared their struggles and how they overcame them vs. giving me by the book pointers on how to be emotionally stable. Ideas and common sense are great, but I want to feel that I can relate to someone before I can find truth to what they are saying. That being said, there is also much more to me than mental illness, being a coach and being spiritual. The following is what being a “homebody” means to me.

  1. I have never been a competitive person and find I feel most lit up when I form an emotional connection to someone, even if they are a stranger.
  2. I am not productive and often find that I dawdle a lot because I am either engrossed in whatever I am doing or can’t focus.
  3. I never pulled an all-nighter in my life. I would rather be underprepared and miss a deadline.
  4. Big groups exhaust me. I would much rather talk to one person at a time.
  5. Small talk is a huge challenge for me. I envy people who can keep things light.
  6. As I kid I would rather read Anne of Green Gables than watch TV.
  7. When I am stressed I watch zit-popping videos.
  8. My dream is to have a cabin in the woods.
  9. I have very intense emotions and and probably cry once a day whether it is over something happy or sad.
  10. My favorite TV shows are either really cheesy dramas that kids in high school watch or brooding British crime. Nothing really in between.

And there you have it. The homebody to my mystic.

XOXO

Laura

 

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Coping Skills

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For a long time I thought that the most important part of a healing process was to have more self-awareness and to understand everything that happened in the past, which caused the suffering in the first place. The more experience I have had working with clients, I realized that even though processing emotions and talking about cause and effect is important, developing the skills to move forward is vitally important. Even though I believe that psychotherapy can be an essential part of a healing process, I would often find that while working as a therapist, I didn’t feel that enough importance was placed on moving people forward once they have processed everything. Not that it doesn’t happen! But it was a huge reasons I felt more called to life coaching than therapy.  We need skills to move forward and improve our life circumstances.

Skills need to be taught! The best part of a skill is that most anyone can have a skill if they are willing to practice and do the work. Coping skills are not a talent, but a choice that you make if you want to feel better and make things happen. I often tell my clients that the difference between them and someone who they believe “has it more together,” is that person has probably mastered skills that support emotional stability. And they can too!  So without further ado here are my top five coping skills and suggestions on how to implement them.

1. Look at something enjoyable 

This could be anything!

  • Go into nature or to a museum and take in the sights.
  • If you aren’t motivated to go anywhere you can make a pintrest board of beautiful images. The process of looking for images will help shift your focus away from what is troubling you and help calm you down.
  • You could even do a google search for images as well and find a few that could be your go-to when you are feeling stressed.
  • You could look around the room you are in and in your mind name everything you see.
  • Find pictures of happy memories or loved ones and try to remember how you felt during those experiences or how you feel when you are around the people you love.

Why this works: When we are feeling distress it is not a time to take action on whatever trigger or challenging situation that has presented itself. You want to find a way to switch gears to ground yourself, so that you become calm enough to figure out what you need to do (or not do) next.

2. Listen to something calming 

I say “calming” for a reason. You could listen to whatever you want, just make sure it isn’t anything that will rile you up or taking you down more. For example, if I am sad it is not a time for me to listen to one of my favorite songs, Billie Holiday’s “Good Morning, Heartache”. That song also used to be my alarm in the morning, which wasn’t the most cheerful way to start the day.

  • So yes music! Make a playlist of songs that make you feel good, or at the very least don’t depress you.
  • Nature sounds can be great, whether it is ocean or rain sounds.
  • Listening to a guided meditation (I will have some to offer you soon, promise!)
  • Have a conversation with someone and really listen to them without any agenda or need to respond. It will keep you present and less focused on what is troubling you.
  • Sit in stillness and take note of any sounds that may be going on in your environment. Really stretch yourself by taking in any sounds outside (if you are inside) or inside (if you are outside).

Why this work: Sounds can be very powerful in supporting you in decreasing feelings of distress. Music can influence or emotions in some profound ways, especially live music. Actually listening during conversations can also strengthen a connection and cause a person to be more willing to support you when you are going through something. Our sense of sound is yet another way to change the channel in your stressed brain and give you a break from whatever is brining you grief. I would even suggest having a song you listen to when you wake up (I changed my alarm to something more upbeat) to start your day on a more relaxed or joyful note.

3. Taste something delicious 

Now this is not an excuse to emotionally eat, but there are ways to use taste in healthy ways.

  • Take note of what your mouth tastes like right now. This may sound strange, but you would be amazed how much you may be able taste. Open you mouth and feel the air on your tongue.
  • Pop a mint in your mouth or a peace of gum. Try to focus on the taste for as long as you can and/or be aware of each chew. Surprisingly very calming if you can stay focused!
  • Cook yourself a delicious meal and sit down without distractions and enjoy! Notice the different tastes and textures and eat slowly and really make the meal an experience.
  • Buy your favorite type of chocolate and break off a small piece and savor it like it is the last piece of chocolate you will ever eat.
  • Make yourself a cup of tea or a coffee and sit yourself down and truly taste your drink of choice.

Why this works: Tasting something can be such a sensual experience, so get creative. Nowadays everyone is in such a rush that meals become a task instead of a time to enjoy nourishing yourself. Use the sense of taste to become more in touch with your body and less engaged in whatever external madness may be occurring.

4. Touch something soothing 

This is one of my favorite coping skills. I am constantly petting my dog, holding my husband’s hand and buying soft blankets. Touch can be such a comfort!

  • Do you have a pet? Take time each day to pet them (as much as they will allow). Really feel there fur and the different textures. They will feel calmer too!
  • Give your loved one a massage. This could go for your kids, partner or anyone you feel comfortable touching. Make your hands your brain and experience skin on skin contact or the fabric of their clothes. Head massages are fun because you can experience the texture of hair and enjoy how wild your “victim’s” hair will look afterwards.
  • Have a pair soft pair of pajamas, slippers or a blanket you can put on and feel the comfort of having something soft on your body. Don’t be afraid to do this at anytime during the day. I relish the days I can stay in my PJs all day under the covers.
  • Baking is a great way to use touch. Baking bread and really feeling the dough or any part of the baking process is an opportunity to get centered.
  • Do some gardening. If you are not a gardener you can just put your hands in the dirt. Don’t be shy! There is something to be said for touching dirt and feeling more connected to the earth.

Why this works: It just does! A huge part of learning coping skills is also learning how to soothe ourselves. Often we did not get the comfort we needed as children and we do not know the first thing when it comes to taking care of ourselves when we are upset. When we think about comforting children, a huge part of that is touching them. So how can you baby yourself a bit? Your feelings will thank you in return.

5. Smell something yummy

I saved the best for last! I have a bold statement to make: scents can change your life! There are so many smells that can help manage your mood is some very profound ways.

  • Buy some candles a put them in different rooms in your home. Your whole family will love it. Walking into a room that smells fresh can help calm nerves or wake you up when you need more energy or relax you at bedtime.
  • Pick bath products that smell good. Citrus is always a great choice. Nice smelling products can make a shower or bath feel luxurious and becomes a great self-care experience.
  • Buy some fresh cut flowers that smell divine. Put them on your nightstand so you can enjoy their fragrance when you wake-up in the morning and when you go to bed. It is a wonderful way for those of you that live in the city (me included) to bring a bit of nature inside.
  • Get cooking! You could get in touch with all five senses with this activity. Food smells are the best, so look up some recipes or make your favorite dish and enjoy. When I have time or motivation to cook (which isn’t often) I love the experience of smelling onions and garlic on the stove.
  • The best way I have found to get in touch with your sense of smell is ESSENTIAL OILS. If you don’t have any GET SOME NOW. I cannot stress this enough. The right essential oil will change your life. The best part is you can bring them with you practically anywhere for instant relief. Have a bottle at home, in your car, in your purse and at the office. It is a great way to manage stress and (depending on the oil) lift whatever mood state you may be experiencing. There are also so many ways to use them and I would really encourage you learning more if any of this resonates with you. If you are interested in learning more about essential oils visit my dōTERRA info page and see if incorporating them into your life would be worth it.

I encourage you to make a plan to incorporate a few of these suggestions. Try it out when you are in a good headspace to see what you think and make a good day even better. I find that creating a practice around coping skills will make it the most effective. Getting in touch with your five senses is a very pleasant experience and for you parents out there, a great skill to teach your children so they learn how to soothe themselves. These suggestions may seem very simple, but it can make a world of difference in the quality of your life. it is also a great way place to start in managing emotions better.

 

XOXO

Laura