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How to Choose Love

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As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson

In my mere forty years of experience on this wonderful planet of ours, I have come to realize many important (and not so important) things. For example, I have never really been one to get huge amounts of satisfaction from housework or spending my days at home.

Respect to those who do, it’s just not me. So, once my children were at school, I saw very quickly that a life without a career was not for me. As I love to share experiences and knowledge, I then realized that the world of education was the one I was meant for, and I became a teacher.

All of this is important — it has led me to do what I do, but it is being a mom that has led me to the most profound of realizations. You see, I was telling my children to be confident, to have faith in their decisions, to not let others affect how they think of themselves, when I suddenly recognized that I was guilty of doing the opposite.

4 Tips to Develop Your Intuition

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The only real valuable thing is intuition. ~Albert Einstein

When I was a child I would hear a soft slow voice inside me, whispering dreams and ideas, telling me possible problems I could encounter and solutions to issues I was facing.

The problem was that it scared the daylights out of me. I would shake my head, trying to get the voice to stop. I’d wonder what on earth was wrong with me. I didn’t tell a soul, for fear that I’d be seen as crazy, or worse, possessed by some demon I could not control.

I successfully suppressed this voice, but as I got older, I began to reap what I had sown. I didn’t realize that years of ignoring and shaming the voice inside me would lead to unhappiness: divorce, alcohol abuse and all the meaningless relationships that come with that sort of lifestyle.

It wasn’t until I felt completely alone, depressed and untouchable that I started to pay attention to that voice again. It came back to me in little ways. I noticed it was much easier to hear when I did certain things, like exercise or write. So I started to do those things more often.

After more than seven years of intentional work to be more in tune with my intuition, I trust myself. I feel like I am able to make choices that best suit my life. I even can hear when I need to make an unpopular choice, bring up an uncomfortable topic or just walk away from a situation, regardless of how weird it might seem.

8 Tips to Start Living Your Dream

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It is never too late to be what you might have been. ~George Eliot

We all had dreams while growing up. We all thought we could do anything then. We all wanted to be firemen, policemen, teachers, Superman and so on and so on. Ask any young child, and they would light up when they told you what they would like to be – they truly believe they can do anything. We all agree with them, and make them believe it.

We also had those dreams when we were kids, but somehow we lost them along the way. What happened to us as we grew into adulthood? Where did our dreams go? Why aren’t we doing all the great things we thought we could do as children?

When did we lose the fire in our eyes?

I was that child who thought I could do anything, but when life stepped in all that changed. I knew I wanted to become a writer, but I was told that was not and could never be a career. I was constantly told to follow in my cousin’s footsteps.

How to Handle Difficult Relationships

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Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment. ~Eckhart Tolle

A few years ago, after months of turmoil and a constant tug of war spurred by different morals and beliefs, I walked away from a 10-year friendship. Looking back now I am completely at peace with the decision, but at the time, I was hurt, confused and angry at the turn of events that had brought us to that place.

When things had begun their steady downhill tumble, I pulled her aside and voiced my concerns, convinced she would change and I would once again be comfortable participating in the relationship.

In my eyes everything depended on her changing. Instead, the behavior continued and I began slowly backing away, telling everyone around me, “I just don’t understand why she’s doing this to me.”

The more I played into the truth of that one statement, the more I felt betrayed and completely out of control. By that time, the only choice I had was to remove myself from the situation and attempt to return to a place of balance and peace.

While I’ve had few situations since that time that have completely knocked me off balance, I read something the other day that, even now, was able to shed light on what might have been going on in my life at that time to bring such intense conflict into my experience.

5 Tips for Handling Criticism

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When you judge another, you do not define them; you define yourself as someone who needs to judge. ~Wayne Dyer

I wish I had read this statement by Wayne Dyer when I was a teenager. In fact, if I had taped it to my bedroom mirror where I would have seen it every day, it might have sunk in. And maybe I would have done some things very differently.

Some of us are just naturally pleasers. As a kid, I really worked hard to get great grades, because I knew my parents would be pleased. I joined a swim team and took on extra practices, so I could win my events and please my coach and my parents. I was devastated if I received criticism from anyone I loved and/or respected — I had failed somehow.

Enter my first really serious relationship after college: I was wonderfully in love, and we moved in together, ready to build a life together. Gradually, it began to creep in. First, it was meals I prepared — something was always not quite right.

Then it was the clothes I chose or my hairstyle. Pretty soon, it was almost everything I did, no matter how inconsequential. There was always a piece of criticism. And my response? It was the same as when I was growing up — I had failed somehow.

My epiphany came when we went to meet his folks. After a weekend in that house, I realized he was certainly his father’s son. Here was an obviously successful businessman who should have been very happy with his life.

3 Tips for Keeping a Journal

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People who keep journals have life twice. ~Jessamyn West

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who said she wanted to keep a journal. She’d read that all successful people have that in common. Later on that day I saw an Internet meme that said exactly that. Afterward I realized how many people in my 30 Day Challenge group have wanted to write every day as their challenge.

On and off since I was about fourteen, I’ve been keeping a journal. But it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago I started writing consistently — three pages, every day.

I’ve noticed that not only has my writing improved, but I have way less anxiety and my depression has become a lot less pronounced. It’s become part of my routine for self-care.

Many people struggle to keep a journal and write habitually, but it is pretty simple once you have the hang of it. I’ve found that remembering a few things can help you get into writing every day and I want to share them so you can reap the benefits of journaling.

6 Ways to Overcome Obstacles

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Your big opportunity may be right where you are now. ~Napoleon Hill

We’ve all got evocative childhood memories — some that stick out more than others. For me, one of the most powerful memories, not to mention one of my most favorite, began when I was just four years old.

I was a shy child. In fact, I was painfully shy. I only really talked to my family, my cabbage-patch kids and occasionally, my pet rocks. With kindergarten fast approaching, my parents were understandably worried. They wanted me to be comfortable talking to other kids in class and to teachers.

Thus began one of my favorite memories.

4 Ways to Keep the Faith

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Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. ~Eckhart Tolle

The past few weeks, spurred by anxiety that sits heavy on my chest, I’ve been exerting all of my energy going against the flow of life. I’ve been operating from a mindset that says if I try a little harder, if I take control a little more, than things can be how they are meant to be.

Long distance relationships — i.e. overseas in a combat zone — are nothing new to me. I endured two deployments in the four years I spent as a military girlfriend and another two deployments when my boyfriend went back overseas as a private contractor.

As a veteran returning to a tough job market with skills geared towards operating in a combat zone, the move to overseas contracting was logical, although not much easier.

Two deployments in, he returned home with the goal of finding work that would allow him to stay in the United States. Four months later, any hope we had in that plan dried up. Jobs just weren’t all that easy to come by.

As he broke the news that another deployment might be his only option, my heart buckled. All the faith I had that things would pan out, that we wouldn’t have to go through this again, flew out the window.

4 Reasons to Be Mindful

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With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment. ~Nhat Hanh

I believe that mindfulness has the power to change the world. I really do.

I think it’s something that should be taught in every school. Workplaces should encourage workers to be mindful in every day of their lives. All our world leaders should be people who are mindful. Political and business decisions should be made in a state of mindfulness.

I really do believe it can right the wrongs we commit against one another, create an infinitely more peaceful and co-existent world, and bring each and every person on the planet joyfulness, wonder and fulfillment.

I feel so strongly about this because I can honestly say that being mindful and more aware of all that goes on around me, inside and out, has changed my life infinitely for the better.

Before I found mindfulness I was very confused and angry, very depressed and anxious, and in general rarely ever able to get the joy out of life. I took the thoughts in my head to be who I was, and so all my negative thinking made for so much trouble in my life.

6 Tips for Finding Happiness

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Happiness is really a deep harmonious inner satisfaction and approval. ~Francis Wilshire

As humans, interconnected in more ways than we realize, we place a great deal of pressure on each other to act in a certain way. The belief is that if other people act in a way that better suits us and our needs, it’ll be easier to find peace and happiness.

When I was in high school and entirely consumed by my relationships with my peers, any type of conflict — especially the kind that made me believe someone else was in control — shook me to my core.

So when a ten-year friendship hit rocky ground over a difference in opinion about my boyfriend (something I can’t help but laugh about now), I was devastated. I always wanted others to agree with my actions and decisions, and when they didn’t, I searched for ways to convince them that I was right.

I remember brooding over this particular fight for hours, recounting the details to anyone willing to listen, and impatiently waiting for the apology phone call. I thought, If she just calls and admits she was wrong, I can stop thinking about this and move on. But if she doesn’t, our friendship won’t recover.

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