Surrendering what no longer serves us, and tearing down the wall.

“Remember the emphasis on the heart. The mind lives in doubt and the heart lives in trust. When you trust, suddenly you become centered.” ~ Osho

I have trust issues. Big ones. I hate that I do and I wish that I didn’t, but I accept that it’s something I must work through, to let go of when the time is right, and to be honest with myself and others about.

I don’t remember exactly when or how these trust issues started, but throughout my adult life, inklings of unease have developed into exaggerated and obvious insecurity. I’ve been let down on many occasions, in some pretty powerful, scarring ways, and these situations have surely contributed to my current apprehensive state.

More than once, when I’ve given my heart to another, I have seen the things I cherished very deeply vanish, disappearing right before my eyes and horrified heart, left aghast and in awe of how quickly life can change. Things were ripped from my hands still holding tight to a future I’d dreamt about, to a person I’d selected for a partner, to a grand, great love…

I’ve also been let down by people who promised to help my dreams come true, or who committed to serving as copilot on an upcoming adventure, ensuring I wouldn’t have to face the unknown alone…

Following each disappointment, I molded together brick after brick, created with sticks of anger and stones of sadness and cement resent. I stacked these bricks on the wall surrounding my heart. I slowly and deliberately built a strong and unpenetrable fortress for one. And inside, there I was, making things happen for me, relying only on myself, ensuring that only I could be accountable for my successes or my failures.

 "...If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, ... if you seek liberalization, ... open this gate. ... Tear down this wall." -- President Reagan to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, urging him to demolish the Berlin Wall.

“…If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, … if you seek liberalization, … open this gate. … Tear down this wall.” — President Reagan to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, urging him to demolish the Berlin Wall.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had people in my inner circle, and of course there have always been people who I can rely on, who have always been there in times of crisis, who have always been more than willing to do anything I needed, literally giving me their last dime or shoes from their feet. But for the most part, because of my past experiences, I have maintained sole control and I haven’t expected anything, of anyone, as a means of preventing future letdowns.

This has got to change. I asked the Universe to give me softness just a few months ago, and I’m recognizing that I’m ready to draw this in. I’m ready to emerge from my closed-off castle and I’m ready to welcome in trust and faith.

It’s time to tear down this wall.

The mantra for this morning’s yoga class was, “I am open.” Our yoga teacher, a new dear friend of mine, encouraged us to not only be open to what we can draw into our lives, but also to what we can let go of… to surrender what is no longer serving us.

In past classes, this teacher has talked about how many of our responses — to events in our lives be they positive, negative, or indifferent — are often based on learned reactions from previous experiences, or may even be caused from the stuck energy residue (or toxic ama) in our cells and DNA, passed down from our ancestors. We can reset our response mechanisms, through yoga (practiced while focusing on the chakra system especially), meditation, and conscious effort.

This teacher encouraged us to breathe deeply and say the words “I am open” in our minds as we released the breath. Then, instead of immediately restating the mantra, to let ourselves be void of intentional thought and to see what naturally presents itself in our minds.

On the first release of “I am open,” the words “trust” and “faith” came into my thoughts. I knew right then, that yes, I am ready to let go of this protective barrier around myself and that I am ready to start fresh. I am ready to trust openly, without hesitation and doubt. I am ready to live freely, putting faith in the Universe to handle my hardships and to give and take away as needed. I am ready to release control…

It is time.

Today, I am tearing down the wall and I am emerging from my safe, isolated castle. I am facing the world with an army at my back instead of forcing myself to face the world alone, with only a trusted stallion at my side (whose name is Jax, by the way, and he’s the most loyal golden that ever existed ❤ ).

Doing this can do nothing but help me. Sure, I may face moments of disappointment in the future, but today is a fresh start, just like tomorrow will be, and the day after that. The people and situations in my current life have zero ties to experiences which burned me before, and it’s unnecessary for me to burden others, and limit my own opportunities, by carrying around this baggage. Enough is enough.

Today, I am surrendering what no longer serves me.

Today, I am surrendering my protective barrier of mistrust and isolation.

Today, I am surrendering to softness.

Today, I am…

Today, I am open.

I am ready to let go of this protective barrier around myself and that I am ready to start fresh. I am ready to trust openly, without hesitation and doubt. I am ready to live freely, putting faith in the Universe to handle my hardships and to give and take away as needed. I am ready to release control...

I am ready to let go of this protective barrier around myself and that I am ready to start fresh. I am ready to trust openly, without hesitation and doubt. I am ready to live freely, putting faith in the Universe to handle my hardships and to give and take away as needed. I am ready to release control…Today… I am. 

Be thankful, no matter what.

“There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.” – Unknown

Homeless Portland man holds sign this morning that  reads, "SMILE! If I can smile, so can you!"

Homeless Portland man holds sign this morning that reads, “SMILE! If I can smile, so can you!”

While traveling in Guatemala this spring I met with a female mystic who told my friend and I the ancient Mayan creation story. She said there were multiple cycles of creation and destruction, and it wasn’t until humans were able to give thanks that the destruction stopped. Until people felt gratitude in their hearts and began acknowledging their blessings, life couldn’t prosper and humanity wouldn’t survive.

We live in a world full of entitlement. Yes, we sometimes have to work hard, but there is always an expectation that we’ll be given what we want and need. Life is pretty easy, let’s be real. The vast majority of us in this country don’t have to worry about where our next meal will come from, where we’ll sleep tonight, of if somebody will love us. We’re spoiled. We’re LUCKY.

However, a big problem in this country is gratitude. We’re a take-take-take society, and we rarely give back, let alone give thanks for the blessings in our lives.

No matter if things are going great or if things are pretty rough, there is always something to be thankful for. For one, the fact that we’re breathing and that we’re alive and able to face another day (and therefore, that there is always a chance that today may be the day things get better). For two, the fact that we’ve had both good and bad experiences in life which gave us tools to improve our situations and those of others. For three, that the sun rises and sets each day, always reminding us that there are new beginnings and that we can wipe away the failures from our past and start fresh.

The past few months I’ve made it a point to give thanks before bed each night. I take a few moments to quiet my mind and thank god for the blessings I have and for all the opportunities I’ve been given. Nothing ever seems that bad if I remind myself to be thankful.

If each of us filled our hearts with gratitude and love, this world might not be so tough…

And remember, gratitude grows from gratitude. Give it a shot ❤

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”

– Denis Waitley

What is it about the Pacific Northwest?

Me overlooking the Pacific from Cape Perpetua, just south of Yachatz.

Me overlooking the Pacific from Cape Perpetua, just south of Yachatz.

As my friends and I drove south along Hwy 101 from Cannon Beach, I gazed out the car window at the coastline, rocky and majestic with seagreen water and foamy white waves. “I don’t know what it is, but I feel such a strong pull to this area. It’s like I’m meant to be here. I’ve always felt this way, for as long as I can remember at least,” I said.

Cory then asked what I thought to be quite the bizarre question. He said, “Where in your body do you feel it? Physically, what’s pulling you?”

I’d never been asked to describe a physical location for a mental thought, but after a bit of reflection and feeling, it was easy. I knew. “Well, it may sound weird but I think it’s in my chest. It’s my heart.”

—-

I’ve been in Oregon for almost a week now and although I still have yet to process all of the amazing, exciting, awe-inspiring moments, I can 100% say that I love it here. I. Love. Oregon.

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with and desire to live in the Pacific Northwest. I was born in Eugene but moved to Michigan when I was still quite young. My family and I have travelled back a few times since but this time, I left Michigan to explore this place on my own. The trip has softened a few more layers of my heart and tapped into an even deeper space, filling me with an even greater love for the area.

I don’t know if it’s the depth of the forest green, or the roar of the waves, or the mountains and jagged rocks… The nature is magic. But, this earth is beautiful everywhere really. If we removed our strip malls and parking lots, Mother Nature in her original form is breathtaking. From jungles to deserts to plains to mountains, she’s a beauty.

So then, what is it about the Pacific Northwest that I love so much?

I’m not sure, but I do feel like a child here. My eyes are open and curious, my legs have a little more pep and provide a little more energy, and my heart is simply happy. The forests are really a natural playground!

I just did a bit of research into the heart chakra after thinking about what my friend had asked me (find out more here – fourth chakra – halfway down the page), and it looks like our heart chakra is the joining of our physical and spiritual bodies. It is the place of intuition and love and our connection to nature. It brings a balance to the rest of our chakras, helping us to feel centered and poised for growth.

I think my heart feels pulled here because in the Northwest, not only is the natural world powerful and stunning, the people and the places seem more geared toward peace and positive progress than in many other locations I’ve experienced. Here, I would be, and am, able to use my physical body in a natural space, while emphasizing personal growth and love for others.

Maybe that’s why my heart loves it here and why my heart always feels connected to this space…

Regardless of reason, the love I feel is real and my heart is content. Oregon, I love you. (But hey, Michigan, YOU have my heart, too!)

Here are a few pictures from some hikes I’ve taken the past few days. And, if you ever get a chance to travel westward, come to Oregon. Let yourself be here… And open your heart and see what happens ❤

Zen moment in Punchbowl Falls off the Eagle Creek Trail near the Columbia River Gorge.

Zen moment in Punchbowl Falls off the Eagle Creek Trail near the Columbia River Gorge.

Taking a breather on the Eagle Creek Trail.

Taking a breather on the Eagle Creek Trail.

The Pacific Northwest is FULL of fuzzy trees like this.

The Pacific Northwest is FULL of fuzzy trees like this.

Two friends of mine racing to a lookout at Cape Perpetua. I'm not the only one who plays here :)

Two friends of mine racing to a lookout at Cape Perpetua. I’m not the only one who plays here 🙂

Catching a great silhouette opportunity at Heceta Head.

Catching a great silhouette opportunity at Heceta Head.

The beach at Heceta Head is amazing. Always a favorite spot of mine.

The beach at Heceta Head is amazing. Always a favorite spot of mine.

Moss moss moss everywhere!

Moss moss moss everywhere!

Magical mystical Mother Nature at her finest, showing off in cave form at Heceta Head.

Magical mystical Mother Nature at her finest, showing off in cave form at Heceta Head.

Catching the sunset hiking Angel's Rest just east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge.

Catching the sunset hiking Angel’s Rest just east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge.

Playing at Heceta Head beach.

Playing at Heceta Head beach.

Overlooking the gorge from the Angel's Rest hike.

Overlooking the gorge from the Angel’s Rest hike.

Loving life and the Pacific from Devil's Churn next to Cape Perpetua.

Loving life and the Pacific from Devil’s Churn next to Cape Perpetua.

Me and my hiking buddies at Cape Perpetua.

Me and my hiking buddies at Cape Perpetua.

Cannon Beach! Cannon Beach! Cannon Beach! Go here. Just do it.

Cannon Beach! Cannon Beach! Cannon Beach! Go here. Just do it.

Nature wins. Who needs art when we have moss.

Nature wins. Who needs art when we have moss.

A warm late-fall hike near Cannon Beach.

A warm late-fall hike near Cannon Beach.

The Pacific Northwest is magical. This picture is proof.

The Pacific Northwest is magical. This picture is proof.

Four birthday wishes

Today, I turn 27.

On my walk home from work, with Mother Nature in her glory (wind howling, snow racing across the pavement and icy white lawns, the last bundles of leaves still clinging to trees cracking and crunching against each other), tonight I thought of some things I hope to draw into my life. A few birthday wishes for the year…

I have a list of goals I want to accomplish too, things from developing a daily meditation practice and sponging up less of other people’s problems, to paying down my student loans and remembering names (I promise I’m not as rude as I sometimes seem – my memory is just awful!). However, I hope the wishes I developed this evening will subtly morph me into a better person, transforming me into a better me, and bringing me closer to my natural, most complete self. Which hey, has got to be a pretty great thing right?

Here they are.

1) LOVE – I want to love myself, and be in love with myself.

For so many years I’ve let myself be my own worst enemy instead of my biggest fan. Judging, nit-picking, self-destructing… This year, I want to love myself like I love my best friends. I want to respect my body and mind, my wants and needs, and I want to have fun and ENJOY the time I spend with me. “They say” you can’t really love another until you love yourself. I’m not 100% in agreement with this statement, but I know I’ll love another better if I first love and like myself.

2) BRAVERY – I want to be bold and have the courage to take chances.

I’ve always been pretty adventurous, but I’m rarely overly brave with regard to trusting my gut and putting logic to rest in favor of faith. This year, I want to unabashedly run after the things I want, that I feel to be right, that may be scary or unknown but that, if I can muster the courage to take the first step, may help me get to where I need to go.

3) VOICE – I want to speak up, asserting my turn to talk and tell my truths.

Most of my relationships have been 70/30 — I listen more than speak, I sit shotgun more than drive, etc. I’m an empathetic person who wants to soothe and comfort others, always putting my thoughts and feelings aside in exchange for hearing another reveal those very same things, in their very own voice. But this year, I want to speak up and turn the tables and make sure my voice is heard clearly in every situation. In friendships, in initial encounters, in my career. In everything.

4) SOFTNESS – I want to soften my heart and release control.

For at least the past 10 years, I have maintained sole control over my happiness. Even when making plans or daydreaming about the future with another, at some space within myself I never fully bought what we were selling. I was never fully able to trust another person with my future and my happiness. Even on the surface level, with common events, I’ve kept walls up around my heart, always on edge, quick to leap from a situation when the potential for disappointment crept in. This year, I want to soften and allow others in, if they deserve my heart space. I want to make plans that I intend to keep. I want to fully wander into an unknown with another at my side… If and when the time is right.

I’ve asked the Universe to help bring this all into my life. I know she’ll do her part and we’ll work on me together.

I’m a happy birthday girl! 27 is bound to be the best year yet — cheers and positivity to all!