A Letter to my Younger Self

The song that inspired this post that I saw live back in October

Recently, I’ve had conversations with people around my age about regret. Maybe it wasn’t labeled as regret per say, but that what if feeling that if something or someone were different, life would be easier/more complete/pick your positive adjective.

For a long time, I wished the same, that things had been done differently. I wished for situations and people to change. After careful reflection, I’ve found that all those shoulda, coulda, wouldas got me here, where I’m destined to me. Every mile mattered.

Writing a letter to my younger self was cathartic. I let go of who she was and am proud of who she’s becoming. Note: Becoming is a continuous process, things I learned from Michelle Obama. So if you’re stuck or unclear or wishing the past was different, write that teenager a letter and remember, you have no idea if things would change. I still talk to that little girl/teenager often and remind her it will all be okay. More on that below…

Hey there girlfriend,

I wish you could have read these words long ago. They probably would have saved you a dairy or two. I’d like you to have read this around 14 or 15 when you thought your life was defined by other people. I’m here to tell you it’s not. It’s all yours. True you have a few more years under the parenting trios’ reign, but they’re not so bad.

Sweet girl, this world is yours. There’s soooo much out there for you to explore. Don’t let your insecurities about your body or your brain stop you. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that is ok. There is a tribe of exceptional women of all ages waiting for you. They’ll hold space for you, they’ll cheer you on, they’ll commiserate and drink wine with you. Don’t hesitate for a second on finding them.

You are worthy of all this love. You are wise beyond your years. Don’t let that stop you from having some fun now and again. It’s a balance my love and if it doesn’t make you light up inside, move on.

Boundaries will be important during the next decade. Don’t ever forget where and who you came from. They love you more than life itself. Cherish those small moments filled with dance parties and Saturday ice cream dates. Those will get you through the drama and pain that all families have.

You can be both beautiful and strong, independent and in love. You chose the how to define yourself. Every scar, every sad AIM away message, every step in this journey, they each matter and you my dear girl matter so much. I’m surrounding you with all of the hopes and dreams in the world.

Love you always lil mama,
Older you

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Guiding Intentions for 2019

Since we’re mid-way[!] through the first month of 2019, it’s time to put my intentions for the year out into the universe. As I shared last year, I prefer intentions over resolutions as the new year begins.

Last year, my words were ease, kindness and ownership. I feel like I did a relatively good job living by these words. I definitely learned to flow more with the universe, down to the mundane daily tasks that sometimes shift. Kindness when annoyed or stressed is for sure harder. I’m learning to focus on the positive and embed more random acts of kindness, like holding the door, into each day. Ownership was likely the hardest; I still react when triggered but I’m better at articulating what I’m feeling and why I was triggered.

Now for my words of 2019:

  • Connection: I’m all about building relationships and connecting people so at the surface, this seems fairly simple. I am challenging myself to meaningfully connect with people who are different from me or who I have a strained relationship with. It’s harder to be present with someone who challenges you.
  • Conviction: This might look similar to ownership, which was all about owning up to my big emotions. Conviction is about values and purpose – knowing who I am, what I stand for and holding true to that even when challenged. There’s that word again…challenged.
  • Calmness: I’m noticing more and more that I need crave quiet reflection time. Stillness brings peace and a settled feeling. I plan to embed calmness and silence into my nightly routine and blocked time on my calendar each Sunday for reflection time.

There’s something empowering about sharing my intentions with the world. Even writing them in your journal can help. My super talented friend Lizzy Russinko creates beautiful prints with people’s words of the year. While you can no longer submit words to her, perhaps yours is included in this year’s print. If not, I encourage you to share your intention for 2019. It can be words, a phrase or even a specific color. Having something to guide your year gives you momentum.

Please fill up the comments with your 2019 intentions too!

An Adult Child’s Perspective on Christmas

As a kid, Christmas was always a big deal. In fact, everything was a big deal. A good report card, a promotion, birthdays, we celebrated it all. This celebratory style I grew up with followed me into adulthood.

As I’ve gotten older, buying Christmas gifts has become one of my favorite pastimes. It’s a fun feeling of both excitement and joy, when a loved one unveils the perfectly curated gift. Yet, finding the perfect gift for my parents and grandparents always feels like mission impossible. What do you buy for the people who have everything?! Year after year, I’d struggle with Christmas gifts and try so hard to keep up with my parents, who are supreme gift givers. This year, I rethought my approach.

My parents could care less what they opened on Christmas morning. Sure, I asked them and ended up with one bigger gift that was actually something they needed. They want things that money can’t buy – all of their kids in the same place, to cook together and for us kids to spend time with our grandparents. Looking back on this holiday season, that’s exactly what I gave, time.

Each year as I stepped further into adulthood, I tried to conjure up ways to give back what my parents gave to me. At the end of 2018, I can say I’ve stopped trying. There’s no way in the world that I could repay them for all they’ve given me. And are still giving as I sit on the beach in Florida at my mom’s house while my dad and stepmom diligently wait for the call to pick up my car for me. As they say, a parent’s work is never done.

So, my fellow adult children, stop worrying about the perfect gift for your parents. Instead, show up on holidays and birthdays as much as possible, take them to dinner and put your phone down during the meal. I think about my Nana and the many Saturdays I spent with her. Those were some of the best conversations I’ve had and she thoroughly enjoyed hearing my stories and watching me live my life. I sit with my other grandparents now and see the same joy fill their faces merely because I’m spending time with them. Highlight of the holiday season? Taking Grandma to see the Donna Summers musical on Broadway and dancing alongside her to ‘Last Dance.’

Don’t overthink it, my fellow 20’s somethings, who I’m sure are navigating this much like I am. Talk to your parents, grandparents, everyone in your life so you can co-create these memories together. They will sustain you during the longer, harder stretches of your life.

Awakening Our Intuition

Did you know that humans are the only mammals that don’t follow their guts? We often ignore that feeling deep in the pit of our stomach or the words choking us, paralyzed in the back of our throat. How many times have you reread a text or email message before hitting send? *Raises hand slowly.* Don’t worry, you’re not alone my friend.

Since March (and probably before then), I’ve been on a journey. I started what I call coach school at Coaches Training Institute (CTI) to become a co-active coach. This included five three day weekends where I learned and practiced techniques in a safe space. As I type this, I finished the final course and am heading towards certification.

A coaches most powerful tool is his/her intuition, that gut feeling that guides the coaching. I’ve always felt my intuition and knew from a young age that it held great power. Yet, early on in class, I let fear of being wrong or judged hold me back. As I practiced and grew, I saw that when I trusted myself and trusted my intuition, it was powerful beyond measure and resonated with others.

So what if you’re not in coach school? Why might your intuition be useful? Well, for starters, who knows you better than you?! No one is more equipped to understand you needs, wants, hopes and dreams better than your inner voice. You might call it something different – inner goodness or Winston Churchill. You name him/her/it and talk to them often. Listen to what he/she/it is saying and sense the response. At first, you might need a quieter place to do this. After some practice, it will become natural and you’ll have a track record of success.

And what if you don’t listen to your gut because sometimes you won’t. Each day is a new beginning, you still have a powerful intuitive sense that you can further cultivate. Find others who you trust and ask them to tell you a story. Listen with all of your intention, ask follow up questions and try to name emotions that might have come up for the storyteller. That’s one way to build your intuition muscle.

The more you use intuition to guide you and eventually others, the more you’ll seen it’s power. It is your North Star that shines its light so you can see the way. Intuition doesn’t create the journey but it does allow you to flow through energies and challenges with more confidence and ease

Find Your Church

You know the phrase: Don’t talk about religion or politics are the dinner table. Well, I enjoy challenging rules and this technically isn’t 1) a dinner table or 2) a post solely about religion.

I’m sure most of us have experienced how the word religion and the word church can be triggers for people. I know when I say I’m Catholic and attend Mass regularly, I get a range of interesting reactions. Shock, amazement, admiration and disgust are a few I’ve seen on people’s faces recently. It’s a personal topic for sure, but if we don’t talk to each other about it, how will we really know what we each believe? I’d argue that organized religion is one form of church.

In the last three years or so, I’ve reconnected with my Catholic faith. The catalyst for this was my sister’s Confirmation as I was her sponsor. I’m grateful that opportunity arose so I could examine my belief system. Yes, I go to church most Sundays, I don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent and I get ashes on Ash Wednesday. Does it mean I believe everything the Catholic Church preaches? Nope, not one bit.

One size does not fit all when it comes to church. I got to Mass on Sundays as a form of meditation and to express gratitude for the beautiful life I’ve been given. It’s not the only form of church I participate in. Listening to Jen Hatmaker earlier in the Fall and similarly, listening to Michelle Obama last night, I felt connected to something bigger than myself. That, to me, is going to church. It’s about connecting to a higher power and having your faith restored in some capacity.

Becoming

Faith, hope, love and peace are somewhat abstract concepts. Yet, when I go to church, whichever kind it is, I can feel and even embody those words. I am repented, I am renewed and I am ready. It’s a part of my spiritual well-being that must be replenished so I can show up each day at 100%. It also helps to build my resilience muscle so when things do go wrong, I have a place where I can draw strength from. It’s powerful and necessary in my life.

No one should tell you what or who to believe in. AND there is something powerful and almost magically about faith. It gets you through the toughest situations and brings peace. Faith, much like church, can be found anywhere within anyone at anytime. You just need to be paying attention and open to receiving it as a gift.

Regardless of how you were raised, I encourage you to pause and reflect on your spiritual well-being. How do you renew in that space? What does going to church look like to you? It only matters what you think and where you find faith, hope, love and peace. Remember, there’s no right answer and it can be a combination of places, people or things.

Flowing with the Universe

The universe works in mysterious ways. If you show up for it, it will show up for you. Give a little, get a little, or least that’s the theory.

In recent weeks, the universe sent me several signs, some positive, some startling. I absorbed each with anticipation and resistance. That was my first mistake. When the universe gives you the preverbal lemons, you must make lemonade. I’m learning to flow with the universe, to receive each sign with excitement (instead of fear or resistance), to be an active participant in my life.

We all know the people who walk around letting life happen to them. I could easily be one of those people AND sometimes really horrible things do happen that we have no control over. Yet, the majority of the time, we do have a choice on how we respond to what the universe sends to us. I call this active participation in our reality, you might refer to it as going with the flow or rolling with the punches. We’re saying the same, my dear reader.

The SecretSo how? What does active participation looks like?  It can be hard to find time to reflect on signs from the universe. Your days, like mine, as likely jammed packed with varying priorities at work, at home or in your community. It’s key to carve out space to just be with the universe. Stillness and silence help me really process things that have happened, people who have been put in my path for no reason at all, the timing of such events and so on. I also use people I trust as sounding boards, to talk through my reactions to these signs. Another perspective can be a plus when you’re trying to make sense of something that appears to be nonsensical.

Why is it so damn hard sometimes? For starters, finding time is hard. I also feel like when I’m not “doing” something, I’m wasting time. This is a wrong assumption; reflection, quiet time and journaling are all necessary to help move through emotions, triggers and situations. It’s also a hell of a lot easier to play the victim card and ask the universe why the situation/relationship/enter your own word is terrible/painful/enter your own negative adjective. This is a normal human reaction that we must start to recognize in ourselves. Only with awareness can we call bullshit and react more positively to what’s happening.

So what does active participation in one’s life look like? Getting off the couch on a Saturday night to watch the game at a bar instead of staying home. It’s aligning what’s important to you, your why, with your actions. If you say your health is important, then you need to actively prioritize it in your own way. What that looks like for you might be different from me and that is exactly how it should be. It’s an iterative process for sure and your why can change, likely it will as you experience new gifts from the universe.

You Belong Here

Hello my friends! It’s been an inspiring, grueling, jam-packed two weeks. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around everything that’s happened, all of the amazing people I’ve met and the stories I’ve shared.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I spoke on a panel at the Superwomen Summit almost two weeks ago. I can’t begin to describe how phenomenal the entire weekend was. Take a look at the lineup and Google all of the speakers. Each brought her unique perspective while still being herself. That was the best part of the entire event: These women were attainable, real and struggled. As much as I love Oprah and Brene, they are such lofty goals. I spent the weekend hearing from mothers, daughters, sisters and friends who are still figuring it out but decided to go for it while they were going through the process. Inspirational, for sure and oh so fun!

Summit1

One of my favorite quotes from the Superwoman Summit courtesy of Anna Kunnecke

I am so proud of the panel discussion that I was a part of. I’ll save that for a separate post because that topic deserves my full attention. I can’t begin to capture all I learned at the Summit. The resounding message was one of belonging. There were talks about owning your power, being brave, prioritizing and self-care. Each one was special in its own right and all carried a thread of belonging. We, as women, find it hard to fit in. We’ve been told from men we’re too bossy, assertive, aggressive, bitchy and then there are other women who push us to find our voice, be bold, stand strong. You get the picture. At the Superwoman Summit, everyone was just right, not too much of anything. We, as a collective female community, need to support one another just as we are. Sure, we can support our goals, areas of growth, etc. AND none of that should change who we are at our core. We are perfectly and intentionally created, just as we are.

Post one Summit, I jetted to Atlanta for another, this one specific to work. It was the culmination of months of hard work, with new team members, lots of moving parts and my first show as a manager. It was the most challenging conference I’ve run to date. There were lots of moments where I felt like I didn’t belong, that my big, bold personality was too much. Why? Well, for starters, I wasn’t taking care of myself: Lack of sleep, not eating right and not exercising all contribute to my already stressed out state. Add in all sorts of feedback, both positive and constructive, it was like sensory overall. Plus, as the manager, I was the role model for the team. Just typing that was a lot. Upon returning home, I took care of myself, mind/body/soul. This included lots of sleeping, meal prepping and journaling.

Almost a week later and I’m about back to myself. As an empath, I catch and receive emotions in such a heightened way. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to do to show up the way I want onsite. Much of it includes self-care and setting boundaries. The biggest lesson is that a sense of belonging only comes from within. I know, I know Brene Brown already told us this. Yet, I had to learn it for myself. I belonged at BOTH of my Summits, I earned the right to be there, no matter how bold or extroverted or honest I am. I’ve finally gotten back to that mindset thanks to my support squad and lots of working through what’s true and what I’m telling myself.

It’s really hard to put those negative self-talk stories aside especially when you’re receiving feedback. I’m learning to be kind to myself and remember why the universe put me here in the first place.

Summit2

My co-worker/friend and I celebrating a successful Summit

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