Change and Authenticity

“Rip up the maps. Burn them. Let them fly. Give thanks for all the well-meaning advice you’ve been given. Start afresh. Go against what you’ve been taught if you need to. It may feel uncomfortable, but that’s only because it’s new.

— KRIS FRANKEN

 

Laura* walked into my office and immediately broke into tears. “I don’t know what to do! Everything is changing and I feel like I’ve lost myself.” I felt for Laura. She had just been terminated due to COVID restructuring and took a job doing something she wasn’t passionate about. After holding space for her intense emotions, I asked some deeper questions to find out exactly what was triggering her feeling of inauthenticity. Together, we were able to determine a few root issues that were bigger than her unexpected career change.

If you’re like me and Laura, we thrive on a plan. Although I’ve made many strides in trusting myself through my own work, I often feel thrown-off when my ideas of what should happen, don’t. A pandemic certainly wasn’t in anyone’s plan, and we were all forced to pivot. Though we can never control many aspects that lead to life transitions, a strong trust in yourself will make all the difference in how you are able to handle any change.

So, how can you be more authentic? How can you safeguard yourself from extra stress and pain when things don’t go according to plan? What can you do to fully trust yourself?

1. Know what you value and what you believe.

Changes, while difficult, allow us the space to explore what we truly value and want out of life. What expectations do we have for ourselves that are based on society, family, or friend’s values, and not our own? Is the change difficult because there is tension between our values and our reality?

2. What is our inner critic saying?

Our inner voice is a powerful tool that can either help us grow (the coach) or hold us back from our true selves (the critic). The inner critic can instill self-doubt and fear, particularly in times of change. I love to guide my clients in the transition from inner critic to inner coach. We work together to explore what core beliefs and negative thoughts are working against their trust in themselves.

3. Sit with the sh*t. (or alternatively- just feel it.)

Sometimes changes are just painful. I work with clients on accepting the fact that situations can be uncomfortable. Learning to “sit” with discomfort will make it easier to handle change, set boundaries, and have those tough conversations with the people in your life, all of which will lead you to your authentic self.

 

While this list is not exhaustive, exploring your values and your inner voice is a great first step in becoming authentic and growing through change. I believe in the power within each of us to face change and transition with hope. Our joy begins and ends with us.

 

*Laura is a combination of clients I have seen and is not based on one single person.

 

Book a Private or Duo Therapy Session with Amy

Get By with a Little Help from Your Friends

Wanting to make friends as an adult is such a common desire that most of us have, yet no one really talks about it. I think that we place undue pressure on ourselves thinking we should have as many friends and connections as we did in high school or college. But gone are the days when all of your close friends lived nearby, and the responsibilities of adulthood were too far off to be concerned about. Adulting begins, and slowly, either due to work schedules, moving, family or even personal growth, we start to lose touch with most of those people. Yes, we still have those few close friendships that neither time nor distance can diminish, but we find ourselves looking for those day-to-day friends that we can reach out to for support and connection.

 

Friendship is a unique type of connection. Friends bring excitement, fun, and interest into our lives. They broaden our perspectives, teach us new things, and share our interests. Most importantly, genuine friends show up for each other. Studies have shown that having a sense of connectedness to a group can help you to feel happier – and it also acts as a deterrent for both mental and physical health problems (Bolger, Zuckerman & Kessler, 2000.) Especially after COVID, one thing we hear often from the community is that people are looking to meet new people, and forming new friendships. 

 

Making friends as an adult is hard, most of us don’t even know where to get started. We have a few suggestions…

 

  1. Think about when you felt most connected to a group. Was it a sports team back in school, was it a drama club or a science group, maybe it was a political science club or a church group? These insights might help point you in the right direction. 
  2. Think about where you would like to make new connections. Where is your life headed now? What interests do you hold that you would like to share with others? Start small. Start by reaching out to one acquaintance that you would like to get to know more. I know it can seem like you are asking them out on a date, but they might just be looking to make a new friend too.
  3. Think about signing up for a class, joining a club, volunteering for a non-profit, or going to an event. 

 

  • Join a book club. Reading for fun can be fulfilling, but reading and discussing with a group can be more impactful. Why? Because while the words of the book are the same, the way that people relate to it are different. Book clubs bring together people with individual experiences, this creates a rich discussion with unique perspectives. Points brought up by different members of the group will further a deeper understanding of what you have read, allowing for the lessons within the book to stick with you. Those in the book club grow and learn from their shared journey in reading the book. Book clubs can be made fun by making it a potluck, sharing wine or a spritzer, or planning to go out to dinner after. 
  • Sign up for a class. Think about what you are interested in, maybe it’s learning a new language before a trip, maybe it is pottery or calligraphy, maybe you want to learn a new skill. By investing in yourself this way, you are not only putting yourself into a position to meet other people with similar interests as you, but you are giving yourself permission to pursue a passion you might have set aside. No more needing to make a certain grade to pass, you can be present with only the pure pleasure of learning. 
  • Attend an event or a workshop. Similar to signing up for a class, a workshop or an event can be less of a commitment but still give you the opportunity to meet others with similar interests. The events that we are hosting at The Happy Hour can be a chance to meet someone who is also interested in investing in their mental wellness. Maybe you can see if they want to be a buddy that goes to weekly classes with you. 

 

Like with anything, the hardest step is the first one: starting the conversation. We suggest being kind to yourself and switching up your inner narrative. Chances are, others want to reach out too, but just aren’t sure how. Remember, a lot more people are looking for connections than you think!

 

 

Looking to connect with like-minded people? Check out our Events page!

Therapy or Life Coaching? What’s the difference?

Have you ever found yourself trying to make sense of your past, while dreaming of your future? Maybe you’re a planner; filling your to-do list and calendar with endless goals, tasks and events in an effort to grow within a like-minded community? Or maybe the contemplation and anticipation of making sense of your life manifests with a sense of introspection and overwhelm, less movement and a lack of motivation? Regardless of how you approach uncovering your authenticity and direction, you’ve likely run into questions like: Who am I? Where do I want to be? And how do I get here?

Believe it or not, in either case, this is a good place to be. It is at this intersection of life that we begin to search for answers beyond ourselves.  How do we take the puzzle that we are living in and find pieces that will build our picture into the colors and shapes we are looking for?  What is it that will complement our puzzle, allow it to develop and become a signature of growth, hope and belief?

The assistance of a therapist or holistic coach could be just the kind of support to help you find direction, clear your mind, and find peace.  Think of these professionals as people who help you gather your thoughts and strategize your next move. You might be wondering what the difference is between therapy and coaching. Good question! It’s so important to understand which option is best for you and your healing, and for where you are on your personal growth journey.

What is Similar about Therapy and Holistic Life Coaching at The Happy Hour:

  • You’ll talk to a professional who has you and your specific needs in mind. Your specific goals will lead the direction of the session.
  • You will be supported in a safe and confidential space.
  • We operate from the belief that you already have the answers within you, we are here to support you and bring those answers to the surface.
  • Both will take a holistic approach, taking into account your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.
  • Both can help in performance boosting.
  • Both can improve self-esteem.
  • Both can improve social and individual functioning.
  • Both help you gain a better understanding of your life and  the world around you.

What is Therapy?

  • Therapy allows you the benefit of exploring your internal emotional world of information as well as your external cues and reactions.
  • Therapy can dive deeply into your past, present and future. (Coaching focuses on the present to future time-frame).
  • It helps in resolving patterns of feelings, beliefs and behaviors that are uncomfortable.
  • It can offer attention to helping physiological responses.
  • It can offer attention to relationship concerns both intimate and interpersonal.
  • It can help with family dynamics.
  • It can help with strengthening resilience in connection with chronic symptomatology
  • It helps you learn new ways to manage the stress that life brings by addressing triggers.
  • It can also help you learn new ways to manage symptoms related to mental health diagnoses.

What is Holistic Life Coaching?

  • Allows laser focus of particular desired achievements.
  • Strengthen focus of the here and now, and looking toward the future. Coaching will not delve into your past.
  • Sparks motivation with clear action plans for a future goal.
  • A supportive resource through the many transitions of life.
  • Offers an alternative option if therapy is not desired.
  • Aids in strengthening career performance and leadership skills.
  • Some personal growth areas you might work on include: mindfulness and self-care, goal-setting & action planning, confidence building, life transitions, finding your purpose, and living authentically.

Can they work together?

Yes, here’s how…

What happens when you feel much better, and may no longer need the detail of a therapist, but you would like to continue working on your personal growth, maintain a connection and have built-in accountability?  The option of a coach as an ongoing support is a great idea. Similarly, what happens if your coach is a great support but you feel like you need a bit more? Maybe you need to dig deeper into a past experience?  A coach having the resources to refer you to a therapist creates that fluid process.

At The Happy Hour, our coaches and therapists work together cohesively, based on our trained best practices and expectations of each others’ roles. These best practices specifically detail and clarify the duties of coaches vs. therapists. The two can support and complement the internal referral process in a way that’s fluid, seamless, and always has the guest’s best interest as the top priority. We are all working towards achieving the best possible outcomes for our guests, in an effort to come together to create a safe space that works, and establish a place to talk it out and feel better.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to mental wellness. Whether you’re working with a therapist, a holistic life coach, or both, it’s important to continuously check in as you grow and evolve, to make sure you’re getting the best kind of support for your changing needs.

If you’re still unsure whether therapy or life coaching is right for you, reach out! We’re happy to help you navigate your mental wellness journey, equipping you with the tools and support for improved wellness and quality of life, one conversation at a time.

What is the 5-minute Journal and How Does it Work?

The 5-minute journal has popularized writing down your intentions. Here is why it can be beneficial and a few ways in which you can start.

Oh, how I love the tool of journaling—It is simple, everyone can do it, it doesn’t cost a dime, and most importantly, it works. The 5-minute journal has popularized the act of journaling. It’s important to note, effective journaling isn’t just putting words on a page. It is a practice that can help you meet goals, organize your thoughts, and enhance your mental health.

Why is journaling so powerful?

Because it helps you to become self-aware. Self-awareness not only helps you understand how you’re feeling and how to honor what you need, but it also helps you to identify negative habits and behaviors, so you can stop them in their tracks.

I teach workshops on intention and often teach clients how to effectively journal. So often we hit the ground running for the day, and don’t take the time to check in with ourselves to see how we’re actually feeling. If we don’t know how we’re feeling, it’s impossible to understand and give ourselves what we need in a particular day — mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Emotions and physical feelings can mask themselves as something else, which is why it’s so effective to commit just a few minutes daily to turn inwards and to figure out what’s really going on.

If you’d like to give your journaling a boost or to just better understand why journaling for five minutes can be so effective in promoting self-awareness, here’s what you need to know … in 5 minutes.

How to journal effectively

— make it your own

First, start with a journal in which you enjoy writing. The page size, look, and feel have to feel good to you. It is helpful to write in a private and personalized space that is free from distractions and to create a consistent schedule for writing. Some people prefer to start their day off with a journal sesh to align with their feelings and set their intentions, whereas others prefer to wrap up their day with a reflection of all that happened. Neither are right nor wrong, what is important is that you figure out a way that feels right to you, so that you can keep this a consistent practice.

Speaking of consistency, it’s important not to use journaling as a quick fix when you’re feeling off. Making this a consistent habit, and taking note of when you’re feeling really great, will help you to identify why and what made you feel so great. Maintaining consistency in your practice will help you identify behaviors and patterns — both positive and negative. If you’re having a particularly stellar day, what did you do that day that you can do more of in your life? What did you let go of on that day that you want to let go of permanently?

How to get started – WRITE

Now that you have your journal, your sacred spot, and a time of day picked out, it’s time to put pen to paper. Here’s a little tool to help you get started:

W – What to write about – Think about what is going on in your life, current thoughts and feelings, goals and things you may want to avoid or change.

– Reflect – Take a minute to calm and focus, as you review what you have written.

I – Investigate – Get curious around your thoughts and feelings through your journaling process. It may feel weird, but it can be helpful to channel your inner detective, and look at your current feeling as a case that you’re trying to solve. Some investigations may look like:

  • “How am I feeling? → How do I want to feel? → Is there anything standing in the way of that? → What can I do to get to that feeling? → When was the last time I felt that feeling?”
  • “Why does this bother me so much? → What is the fear behind this? → How can I choose compassion over fear in this situation?”
  • “I am feeling really happy today. → Which of my values have I held true to today? → How can I hold true to my values in some way tomorrow?”

– Time yourself – Spend at least five minutes (or whatever your desired goal is). If it helps you to be accountable, write down your start and end times.

E – Exit mindfully – End your practice by reading what you’ve written and take a moment to reflect on it. Use a sentence or two to sum up your takeaways. Be sure to use “I” statements. For example, “I am feeling uneasy about ____ and I will address it by doing ____.”

Test out some of these tips above, take with you the ones that work for your practice, and leave the ones that don’t. Like I said before, the most important thing is to make this your own.

Journaling benefits

Where to begin!? Effective journaling can result in so many positive outcomes that help to benefit wellness and quality of life. Journaling assists in our ability to better take control over our lives and put things into perspective. Journaling can:

  • Improve working memory and communication
  • Improve sleep
  • Boost mood and self-confidence
  • Enhance your sense of well-being
  • Improve and strengthen your immune system
  • Decrease the impact of intrusive thoughts and avoidance
  • Improve your quality of life
  • Assist in detecting unhealthy patterns in behavior and thought
  • Help to identify and accept emotions
  • Manage stress and ease symptomatology of mental illness

Fun Fact…

study that involved Jason Moser, Associate Professor of Psychology, and researchers of Michigan State University used college students who were all highlighted to have a form of chronic anxiousness.  The students were split into two groups and asked to complete a “flanker task” in an attempt to measure accuracy and speed.  The first group wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings about the upcoming test for eight minutes before beginning the task.  The second group wrote about what they did the day before.  Speed and accuracy were unremarkable.  However, the expressive writing group showed more efficient results and used fewer brain resources.  Brain activity was measured by using an electroencephalogram (EEG).  The research concluded that expressive writing decreased worry and anxiety in the brain.

Intention Topics

Still not sure where to start? Below is a list of some of my favorite journal prompts. If you think you don’t know the answer, pretend that you do and just write. You might be surprised what you find out about yourself. Here’s a short list of some of my favorite journaling prompts:

  • How am I feeling?
  • What do I need?
  • What is my truth?
  • What is true about this situation? (Especially helpful when feeling anxious about a situation).
  • What kind of change am I looking for?
  • What do I need to make a change?
  • What can I let go of?
  • What am I most proud of today/this week/month?
  • How do I want to show up?/How did I show up today?
  • What is my intention for this day/week/month?
  • What am I most grateful for?
  • Who am I?

This article was originally published at in5minutes.com, a website focused on telling you what to know…in 5 minutes.

Surviving the Holidays with Better Boundaries

Picture this scenario: You’re really looking forward to seeing your family over the holidays. Heck, this year, you even quarantined yourself for a week ahead of time to make the trip happen. Within a couple of hours of arriving, you find yourself getting frustrated at the same questions and opinions being forced on you for yet another year. All that personal growth you were so proud of goes out the window as you fall back into relationship dynamics and patterns that no longer (or never did) serve you, just to keep the peace. By the end of the weekend, you’re emotionally exhausted, feeling guilty, spiking your eggnog, and vowing to yourself that next holiday, you’re going to the Bahamas instead… alone. Spoiler alert: the others in your family probably feel the same way.

Chances are, some version of this sounds familiar. It’s not that you don’t love your family and they you. It is likely though, that a lack of boundaries is coming in to play. You might need to work on your boundaries if you:

  • Feel guilty about or struggle to express your needs.
  • Don’t speak up when someone has upset you or treats you unfairly.
  • Frequently overextend yourself for the sake of others or to keep the peace.
  • Often feel your relationships are one-sided.
  • Struggle with self-discipline. ex. Staying later, or eating and drinking more than you’re comfortable with.

You may want to write off expressing your boundaries as unnecessary, because everyone can survive a few uncomfortable days, right? But as Certified Mindset Coach, Africa Brooke says:

Setting boundaries can be f*cking scary, but unpacking your suitcase in resentment and spiritual exhaustion is even more frightening.

First off, it’s important to remember that boundaries are not the same as building walls to keep out intimacy and vulnerability. In fact, they’re the opposite. Boundaries serve as a roadmap for those in your life to understand how you need to be treated. By clearly communicating your boundaries, you can minimize a lot of unnecessary friction, allowing for deeper, more harmonious relationships.

That being said, setting boundaries takes some work. For a start, it takes knowing yourself, your needs, your limits, and your triggers. You might want to spend some time journaling ahead of family gatherings so that you can be clear on what your boundaries are. And it’s okay if they’ve changed or evolved. While exploring your boundaries, pay special attention to the moments in your life where you have felt hurt or resentment. Chances are, that was a moment when a boundary was crossed.

Healthy Boundaries look like:

  • Being comfortable saying “no,” and not needing to explain or defend yourself if you don’t want to do something.
  • Conversely, respecting when others say “no” to you.
  • Being okay with others not agreeing with you.
  • Understanding that it’s not your job to fix others or anticipate their needs.
  • Being comfortable with tending to your own needs and self-discipline, even if others don’t understand them. You’re allowed to prioritize your wellbeing.
  • Expressing your needs or limits in a respectful way. Remember, often people don’t mean to be hurtful and might not even know they’re crossing a boundary until you tell them.

PRO TIP: Try saying no with a positive energy.

ex. “Thank you for caring about me enough to be interested in my future. I actually really look forward to discussing my marriage plans when/if I cross that bridge one day. Until then I’d prefer if we spoke about all the other amazing experiences in my life as opposed to my relationship status.”

You might be a seasoned pro at communicating your needs and saying “no.” But if you have a bit of a people-pleasing streak, be careful to not say “no” and then shortly afterwards make an exception, and end up doing the very thing you just declined. Boundaries go both ways, and stepping over the line you drew in the sand creates uncertainty of where your boundaries lie for both you and your loved ones. This confusion can open up the door for others to step over that same boundary down the line.

So, what do you do if you’ve set your boundaries at a holiday gathering and someone still crosses the line?

  • Calmly remind the other person how they’ve overstepped, and if necessary, that you will need to remove yourself from the situation if they continue to disrespect your needs.
  • Pause and check in with yourself. If you’re feeling a strong emotional response, take a timeout to do some calming breathwork. We love the 4,7,8 technique, where you inhale for the count of 4, hold your breath for the count of 7, and exhale for the count of 8. Repeat until you feel calm. If you still feel the need to leave, honor that need.
  • Show yourself some extra love and self-care in the coming days. Give yourself some grace and recharge your happy battery by focusing your attention on activities and people that make you feel safe and heard.

We hope this crash course in boundaries can help you get through the good, the bad, and the weird this holiday season, and beyond. After the year we’ve had, each and every one of us deserves a little compassion and understanding, and a whole lot of holiday cheer.

Finding the Significance in Sorry

“I’m sorry”. A powerful phrase that can lose all meaning if said carelessly. The unfortunate truth is that most of us are intimidated by apologizing (in a meaningful way.) Recently, when trying to resolve a disagreement with a loved one, I couldn’t get past my own protective walls in order to communicate my apology for hurting them in such a deep way. The required vulnerability and exposure was too much for me, causing my defensiveness to hijack the apology. Afterwards, I felt that I had made the waters even muddier than before. I was in a quasi half-apology/half-blaming state. Sound familiar? (It. Is.The. Worst.) I realized that I needed to learn how to make a heartfelt apology. Being able to declare a meaningful apology is an underrated skill, and becoming a lost art, but being able to say “I’m sorry” in the right way can change the trajectory of, or maybe even save, a relationship. True apologies are not as fun to give out as compliments, pizza, or a round of margaritas, but when done right, they are incredibly impactful.

Dr. Harriet Lerner is a clinical psychologist and somewhat of an expert on apologies. She has spent years researching topics including anger and forgiveness. Dr. Lerner explains that, naturally, we have a favored view of ourselves. Understandably, we don’t like to see ourselves as capable of hurting another person, or of making errors that can cause someone pain. A heartfelt apology requires us to come face to face with the fact that we screwed up and that we must take responsibility for it. It keeps the focus on our actions.

“Apologizing is difficult because it requires humility.” – Renee Garfinkel Ph.D.

Giving an apology requires that you take off every single piece of armor. Dr. Garfinkel explains that “The offender who apologizes yields some power, some control.  Having announced their imperfection and error, making the offender now vulnerable. It takes humility to make a sincere apology, and for some people humility is just too uncomfortably close to humiliation.” Woof. No one can deny that it is extremely tough to operate out of this raw emotional state. Sometimes, if we are not prepared to be in this place emotionally, the vulnerability is too much and our defensiveness flares up. Defensiveness is the enemy of listening, intimacy, and apologies. We are hardwired to defend ourselves. It is a natural human instinct. Nowadays though, we don’t need to fend off constant threats to our physical safety and our defensiveness has evolved and morphed into defending our emotional selves. While self preservation serves us in many necessary ways, bringing it into an apology only dilutes the intention. Dr. Lerner’s book “Why Won’t You Apologize?” gives us some warning signs for when our apology is being driven by defensiveness:

  1. “But”. An apology that includes “but” is not an apology, it is a defense of our actions and in turn is a cancellation of our apology. If you are truly making amends for your wrong, you have to detach yourself from the actions of others. This goes back to taking responsibility for you and you only.
  2. Focusing on their response or feelings, not your own actions. Example: “I’m sorry that you felt offended when I said that joke” So in this apology who is really at fault? It is difficult to tell– the person that was offended or the person that did the offending? Focusing on the response from the person ultimately places further blame on them rather than owning up to your actions. It also can bring about assumptions, and you know what happens when people assume…
  3. Getting caught up in who is more to blame or who started it. It can be really difficult not to keep a scorecard. But in the end, if you are keeping score, no one wins. It is important to recognize when your defensiveness is keeping you from being the best version of yourself. An apology does not require you to take all of the blame, but be honest and communicative on what you are responsible for. As Michelle Obama says, “when they go low, we go high.” Honor your best self by being the one that can admit that you were wrong. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission or to come to you with an apology first. Courage requires you to be the one that goes first.
  4. Using the apology to silence the other person or to make yourself feel better. Sometimes we use apologies to make ourselves feel better about the situation or we use an apology as a white flag, surrendering in order to “just drop it”. In the end, this type of apology can leave one side feeling better, while the other side feels worse. If you feel like the apology was fulfilled, but the other person did not, there could be an insidious wedge that grows in the relationship.
  5. Expecting something in return. With an apology, you have to go into it expecting nothing from the other person, not even forgiveness. This is the hardest step, but I think the most telling. If you are ready to apologize to someone, baring yourself in a vulnerable way expecting nothing in return, then you can be sure that it is heartfelt.

While it does not seem obvious in the moment, by giving a sincere apology, you are giving to yourself. It is likely that in the moment, you will feel small, vulnerable, and fearful. You will feel exposed by validating the pain that you caused to the other person. But through this process you will receive the gifts of maturity, self worth, resilience, and integrity. The result of this work is a release of resentment, a melting away of tension, and an allowance for emotional safety to return. You may honestly feel as though a 100lb. weight has been taken off of your shoulders.

I knew that my inscenere apology had not resolved the problem, it had just added to the discontent. Dr. Lerner explains that a bad apology, while seemingly insignificant, can create a small river between two souls. Overtime, if this apology is not amended, the river can erode the relationship. Not desiring this of my own relationship, I took these lessons and applied them to my next attempt. Yes- it was intimidating, but it worked.

Reflecting back on this experience, I wondered why it took me so long to get it right. I realized that I was so ineffectual at saying sorry, because I said sorry too much. Somehow, ‘sorrys’ had turned into my language for manners, my go-to when I felt uncomfortable, and about as common and meaningless as a handful of pennies.  Maybe it was my southern upbringing, maybe it was an underlying belief that as a woman I shouldn’t take up too much space, maybe it was my way of giving up my self worth at the sacrifice of making others feel more comfortable. Whatever it was, sorrys were just part of my language. Think about it, who else said or written these things:

“Sorry for my delayed response”

“I’m sorry, but could you explain that again?”

“I’m sorry I’m frustrated”

“Sorry” (as opposed to excuse me)

“Sorry I didn’t hear you”

“I’m sorry I look like this, I just got done at the gym”

The thing is, your emotions, being unintentionally in the way, not hearing someone, needing something to be explained again (or differently), your appearance, other people’s actions, etc do not require your apology. But why do we do this? As explained by Dr. Lerner, “It may be a reflection of low self-esteem, a diminished sense of entitlement, an unconscious wish to avoid any possibility of criticism or disapproval before it even occurs, an excessive wish to placate and please, some underlying river of shame, or a desire to show off what a well-mannered Brownie Scout one is.” Maybe it could be an automatic response that we have learned in childhood, and now it arises as a reflex or deeply integrated into our language. For me, I offered up apologies in order to make sure everyone else was comfortable. I wanted to soften the blow when offering up my opinion. What did that actually mean? It meant that I did not feel like my voice was valid enough to be heard. What is the reason for you?

I encourage you to reflect on why you offer up soft apologies and what it is doing to your image (conscious or unconscious) of yourself. Stopping soft apologies starts with becoming aware of our patterns. Often, our impulse to ask for forgiveness for things that we are not responsible for arises out of our discomfort with an uncomfortable or awkward situation. Our impulse tells us that if we take the blame then we diffuse the tension. While this seems like a harmless pattern, research has shown that withholding an apology in situations like this can actually be empowering. Stopping soft apologies is not an all or nothing thing, rather it will require practice. Maybe start with reducing your soft apologies in emails or written messages. Then maybe it builds to learning and implementing a new vocabulary expressing your consideration for others. Maybe it results in more confidence and higher self-worth. The brain perceives what it hears to be true. Yup, language is powerful stuff. Finally, by practicing significant apologies, the word sorry may not be expressed with the same fluidity and ease.  The next time you find yourself in a space that you want to apologize, take a breath and a pause, are you giving ‘sorry’ the significance it deserves?

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? | Guest Blog Series

From the time we are little, we are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Let me establish one thing, this question, I hate it. I despise it. Why? Well, by being asked this question from an early age, we start to become programmed to think, believe, and pursue, that we need to become a “career.” The magic that we possess as a child, the belief that we are whole just as we are, that we can have many passions, that we are capable, and that you get to choose your own course, is slowly quieted, and placed in the corner of our mind with a tablet to keep it busy. From childhood to adolescence and into adulthood, without this magic we learn to replace passions and purpose with possessions and paychecks. But this magic isn’t extinct, it is still there inside all of us. We just need to learn how to invite that magic back into the conversation.

I was a product of “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Let me start off by first saying that I have been incredibly blessed to grow up in a comfortable lifestyle as a white female in a stable socioeconomic home. My parents worked incredibly hard to make sure that I received every opportunity to succeed. It was non-negotiable that I would work hard in school, go to college, earn a degree, and start a career. So I did just that. I earned “A’s” like badges of honor. I joined honor societies, beefed up my resume, and worked on my ACT score with laser focus. I started to see going to college as my next check box. What I failed to realize is that going to college and earning a degree is an incredible and life changing gift. While in college, I picked a career not based on passions but based on the fact that 1. I was pretty good at anatomy and physiology and 2. I could easily get a job. No one (including myself) ever asked “what are you passionate about?” or “what lights you up?” Let’s be honest, by that point, I hadn’t asked myself that question in maybe 10-12 years.

But I did it. I graduated college and even went on to earn my doctorate degree before starting my career. It wasn’t until about one year into my career that I realized that I was completely and utterly miserable. This is what it looked like: crying at least once a week, starting every work day sitting in my car trying to swallow the huge lump of anxiety stuck in my throat, irritability, disconnection with my friends and family, and worst of all: disappointment in myself. How did I let it get this far and what the hell was I going to do now? Slowly, who I was as a person, started to errode. I’d like to say that I had an ah-ha moment, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t let myself admit that I was unhappy. I just called it the 26 year-old blues. Finally at 27, I thought that a change of scenery would do me some good. So I sold my house, packed up what was important to me in a car, and set out to the Pacific Northwest. In Native American culture, directions represent states of being. Coincidentally, those traveling north are seeking wisdom, and those traveling west are seeking introspection. At the time I was not aware of these correlations, but looking back, that was exactly what I was doing: seeking wisdom by the means of introspection. I moved to a small coastal town of 600 people on the border of Oregon and California where I knew no one. My bravery crumbled into deafening silence and worsening depression the moment that my boyfriend got out of the car to hop on a plane back to Nashville. It really hit me when I got back to my apartment that I was for the first time, truly alone. Over the next year as a traveling therapist, I moved three times. Each move I learned more about myself.

Brookings, OR

I learned that silence and solitude are necessary. So often we surround ourselves with the comforts of friends, family, and loved ones, that we forget what our own internal voice sounds like. I didn’t even know that I was terrified of being alone until I was already there. And the funny thing about it is, once I started to stare that fear in the face, it wasn’t so bad.

Rockvale, IL

I learned that I can choose who and how I want to use my energy. So often we ask others, what do you need. When was the last time you asked yourself, what do I need?

Portland, OR

I relearned vulnerability. I learned how to show up as myself for other people knowing fully that they could accept or reject me. Each lesson, I got stronger. And my limiting beliefs were not as loud or significant. The freedom that this has provided, has changed my life.
Visiting the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Visiting the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

I kept these lessons close to my heart as I returned to Nashville. But as we do, I fell back into old routines and habits. I went back to my old job– and hated it all over again (why did I ever think that this time around it would be different?) I tell you this to help with this very point: progress is not a linear line. This time around though, I started to allow myself to try things I would have never imagined for myself before. I invested in myself by earning my 200-hr yoga teacher certification. I did this because yoga was and still is a spiritual ritual that transcends whatever is going on in my life. This decision gained traction in my head and heart and started to gain momentum. Something in me had shifted. I had learned too much to stay with the status quo. I felt unfulfilled wasting time in a job that did not align with my values. I started out by making a lateral shift to a job opportunity within my same profession. I found that some (not all) of my values were met and stayed in this position while staying open to the possibility that something better would come my way. This is another good point. Most of the time, we don’t knock it out of the park on our first, second, or even third try. But, “pretty good” is a great place to rest our feet while we figure out our next steps. It’s not saying that you are there forever, but it will help with everyday contentment. This requires trust in the process.

Elizabeth Gilbert believes that all ideas and opportunities are intangible energies that exist all around us. They visit us if they think that you will be a good fit, but this is only half of the agreement. We have to be open and willing to accept the deal with opportunity. While in my “pretty good” job, I got the opportunity to teach a yoga class for a workshop held by a company called The Happy Hour. The subject of the workshop:“What am I doing with my life” Woof. Well I took up that deal with opportunity and said yes. The workshop was wonderful and I felt returned to my track once it was all said and done. Little did I know, that opportunity’s deal with me was not over. The next day I saw that The Happy Hour was hiring. Initially, my knee jerk reaction was “I am not qualified for this job.” But opportunity kept on bugging me to send an email. So I said, what the heck? And did it.

Let me be clear about one thing. If you are on the fence about sending a resume because you don’t think you have the right skills, send it anyways. But I encourage you to look at resumes in a new way. Forget about how many years you worked at this one job, people want to know YOUR qualities. Opportunity and I shook hands to seal the deal and I am now an employee at The Happy Hour, a job that exceeded my expectations for what a job can feel like. Finally, work doesn’t feel like work. Work feels like finding and fulfilling a passion.

Somehow as we become older, we become worse and worse at ‘new’. Do you remember the pizzaz that you used to possess when you were young and trying something new? You didn’t need a permission slip to learn, to fail, and to try again– you just did it. My personal life experience, and the revelations that I have uncovered, have led me to this: Aren’t you already being, everyday, every second of your life? Why do we assign “growing up” to deciding on who we are? When do we even grow up? Does growth have a stopping point? I haven’t reached it yet and I don’t ever want to. A very wise friend and colleague of mine, Certified Holistic Coach, Kellen Brugman once said, “sometimes changing is staying the course.”

When starting to look at where you would like to take your life, or even where you would like to direct your energy towards, think through some of these questions:

Are you ready to give yourself permission to say “I’m feeling stuck”?
This is a big one. Often we are so afraid of admitting that we don’t have it all together that we just keep pushing ourselves further into unhappiness and this career or path that we thought we would like. So go ahead and say it, write it down, express it to a close confidant. By speaking your truth you are not only freeing yourself from avoidance, but you are putting it out into the universe that you have had it with feeling this way.

What are your values?
Finding out who you are is the most important step in figuring out where you want to go. You will have a hard time figuring out where you want to go if you don’t know where you are.

What makes you light up when you think or speak about it?
Imagine an activity that makes you feel content, happy, or energized. Get specific about it too. If you said, I like getting dinner with my friends, well then let’s break that down a bit. What about getting dinner with your friends do you like? Is it that you get out of the house? That you are being social? That you get to try a new restaurant or food? Is it that you enjoy planning the dinner? By breaking it down, you may be able to pull little nuggets of information that could help you to determine enjoyable characteristics and apply these to your potential new career.

What is your dream job?
Ok now take the dreaminess out of it, what does this job realistically look like in your life?
Yes, wouldn’t being a world traveling food and entertainment blogger would be SO DREAMY. But think about the logistics of it. What would it take for you to get started on this path? By breaking down those big dreamy careers, you might start to see the nitty gritty of what it might take. You might even realize that there is another path that you can take that is similar and you didn’t even know existed until you started doing the research.

What do your boundaries look like?
How important are they when it comes to your day to day schedule?
This may seem out of place, but it is important to consider. Boundaries are a simple yet effective way to protect your energy. Do you want to work from home? What do your boundaries look like with your work life? Want to work on a team? How could you be a collaborative partner without getting walked all over?

Where do you see yourself in the next two weeks? The next month?
That’s right, the next two weeks. It makes it a lot more present when you think of it that way doesn’t it? Yes it is wonderful to have a big picture or an ultimate goal to work towards. But ask yourself, if you just focus on that big end goal, how is that making the process of getting started any easier? Short term and measurable goals allow for you to map it out and are the building blocks of getting you where you want to go.

How are you going to be kind to yourself throughout this process?
Let’s face it. At some point, we are going to trip up and have a bad day where anxiety and fear are going to jump back into the driver’s seat. This is going to happen because we are all human. Do not let a misstep stop all of the progress that you have made on your journey. This is not a U-turn! When you feel like you may be a bit out of alignment, use a positive affirmation to empower yourself. That way, when you read these affirmations, you can recall that you have the capacity to feel awesome, inspired, confident, and strong. Think of these affirmations as little time-traveling portals to remind you that you are capable. Remember, love is stronger than fear.

What the hell is stopping you from finding your happiness?
Yea, this career or path change is definitely not going to be rainbows and rosé all the time. But is it better than where you are now? How badly do you want it? Who else is going to get this whole thing started?

 

Land Your Dream Career – Virtual Community Group and Live Coaching

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Get Your Tickets and Get Ready to Land Your Dream Career!

The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get: My Journey to Spirituality

I look back at the last seven months with a sense of completeness, awe, and a lot of “wtf just happened?” I faced a lot of shadows that I hid from for too long, ones that held me back for decades. I not only looked them in the face, but I talked about them out loud, in front of you. I can’t believe I did that.

I also look back in wonder because I never could have predicted how timely this spiritual journey would prove to be. I can’t help but believe that it was fate that chose the exact right timing to make me crack and decide I need to get over my own bullshit. This year has brought on so many challenges, and I don’t think I’d have been able to get through without this spiritual ground under my feet…without these feelings of openness and trust. That’s not to say it hasn’t been a struggle, it frequently has been. But, now I know how to react without losing myself.

I’m closing out this series of “My Journey to Spirituality” because otherwise I’d be writing about it my whole life, as the journey is never-ending. It’s also time for a new beginning…a new journey. I’m about to embark upon something new, for which I’m incredibly excited and grateful. But, in the spirit of vulnerability, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed. I am only human after all.

I believe that this experience has been preparation for what’s next on my path. The commitment to opening, trusting, listening to myself and others, has no doubt been the final key to open the next door, but all of this work didn’t just happen the last seven months. The truth is that I’ve been working on it for years (and will continue to do so), but it feels like I’m rounding the final corner.

This work has taught me that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed. That it’s ok to feel whatever the hell it is I’m feeling, and to stop shaming myself into feeling something else because spoiler alert, those initial feelings never go away. I’ve learned to address the uncomfortable feelings and talk to them – yes I talk to my feelings, I swear it helps – and figure out what they need to hear to go back into a place where we can all live in harmony together.

When I talk about my journey there hasn’t been one silver-bullet that made everything click. It’s a combination of experiences, and an acute awareness of those experiences, that has made me feel full of purpose. Through everything, the same themes continuously awakened before me. I’ll share them with you here, along with some of the resources that helped me. I promise this post isn’t sponsored by these people, in fact, most of them probably won’t know they are in here until/if they read this. It’s important to note that a lot of the a-ha moments came through processing the experiences either in my journal or on the phone with my therapist, so it’s not like a one-and-done kind of deal. Ok, here goes…

Lead with my heart

This came up time and time again. This doesn’t mean to let go of all information-based decision making. It just means to put some more weight on what I feel is right, and do whatever it is I need to do to get my mind right, so that I can let my stronger muscle (my heart) do the heavy lifting. Some resources that helped me break through: Kenya Raymer’s Spiritual Therapeutic Sessions; The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

I am loved, and I don’t have to earn it.

Whew, there was a lot of shadow work in this one. I also learned how to personify my emotions, literally giving them faces and names, and asking what they need from me – this was super cool and surprisingly effective. Awesome resources: Healing Touch with Kim Breese (y’all know how much I love this), the practice of self-soothing and these awesome worksheets from local therapist, Liz Devaughn.

Don’t exhaust myself for achievement. Restoration is non-negotiable.

Covid-19 was my teacher here.

Trust that I’m on my path. Even if that means my next step will be a fail, it was meant to happen and will lead me to great things.

This one felt so good to finally believe. My favorite affirmation is, “By being myself, I bring happiness to others,” I can’t count how many times I’ve written about that, meditated on that, and prayed on that. A game changer for me here was a Medium Reading by Kim Salter.

I am creative.

Getting back into the things I loved to do as a kid – reading, writing, being playful. Such a good balance to the grind of life. Big Magic had me believing in myself again.

Gratitude and joy can only come after presence. Presence can only come from being grounded. You can only be grounded when you listen deeply to yourself.

Thank you meditation. My most favorite resource: sound bath with Ann Sensing…and playing my own bowls! A deep practice in listening and receiving.

Trying new things is FUN!

See all of the above.

Feeling that blissful “spiritual” connection takes WORK. It takes vulnerability. There’s no hiding, and it’s a practice.

Keep asking myself, “how do I regain the wonder of being alive?”

By being present. Connecting to people. Being rested. Having silent time. Reading. Asking questions. Being in nature. Feeling grateful. Opening to new experiences. Playing.  Imagining myself as a small piece of the bigger picture.

I acknowledge that I come from a place of privilege to be able to go on this journey. With great privilege and blessings comes great responsibility – this is something that was ingrained in me as a kid.

I keep a notecard on my desk from my late grandfather, who grew up during The Great Depression, that says, “the harder I work the luckier I get.” I always took this message to mean “Be a workaholic! Work work work!” I now realize that it’s not about the achievements, the promotions, or the glorification of being busy. Rather, the more you work on yourself the luckier you get. Not because all of a sudden luck is on your side, but the better you know yourself, the better you can listen and fulfill your needs, and then build strength and fulfillment for the world.

Once I started approaching the world from that belief, things just started to fall into place. It felt like the right people came into my life at the exact right time in ways I never would have predicted. Sometimes I even felt like I was living in the Truman Show. Is it luck? Coincidence? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Now that my story is coming together, and really just beginning, I realize that all of these tidbits of advice and observations over the years haven’t been just random happenings. Now I can see that they so clearly fit together and are in preparation for what’s next. Steps to the next stepping stone. Through all of the joy, excitement, love, guilt, fear, etc, I know that all of the ups and downs have fit together to create a compelling narrative, that is meant just for me. I think that’s spirituality.

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Four

Time sure flies when you’re having fun… and being inspired! Our guests during Mental Health Month have shared their hearts and a TON of knowledge, and this week has been no different. Let’s dive into our recap of week 4!

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Nicole Volpetti

Nicole is the founder of Creative Girl Corporate World, a community built for women who are on a journey of self-discovery. She is on a mission to to empower women to live and lead consciously; guiding them to deepen their inner self-connection.

On Mental Wellness

Mental wellness doesn’t have to look like perfection, it can be little things that you incorporate into each day which serve as stepping stones towards bigger leaps of mental wellness.

Try starting your day by turning away from your phone and tuning into your needs:

  • Instead of fighting it, Nicole has accepted that she is a slow riser, so has built 30 minutes into her schedule to allow herself to wake up gently.
  • She enjoys spending 10 – 20 minutes to enjoy her coffee while journaling, or listening to music or a podcast.

Be aware of being on autopilot:

  • Recognize your feelings and when you feel out of alignment
  • Experiment with various spiritual and wellness tools (bath, breath work, meditation, movement, etc) until you know what works for you, so that you can develop an emotional wellbeing toolkit to tap into during times of stress

On Physical Wellness

Take a moment to notice your body and what it might need throughout the day. This might look like taking short breaks to stand up and stretch, or going for a walk. When it comes to working out, give yourself a little grace. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress!

On Mindful Eating

Try your best to step away from your computer at lunchtime and enjoy your food with intention. This can help with:

  • Taking a moment to slow down mentally
  • Better digestion
  • Creating more awareness around your body’s need and satiety cues

Nicole loves to eat outdoors while listening to upbeat music.

Prompts to Help you Explore your Wellness:

  • What are some of the things I already do every morning that I can start enjoying more by taking the time to slow down?
  • What area(s)of my body feels like it needs my attention? Pro tip: identify the areas in your body that need your notice using your intuition, then research what Chakra (our Spiritual energy centers) is related to that area of the body.
  • Look for the emotions associated with that Chakra and how that might be manifesting physically.
  • What tools have I cultivated to support emotional well-being?

For more, visit Creative Girl Corporate World


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Valerie Martin

Valerie is a licensed therapist, yoga teacher, animal advocate, and literal tree hugger. Every weekday morning she hosts the podcast {re:}charge, which is all about supporting you in getting aligned and energized for the day ahead.

On Simplifying your Routine

The first thing she does after waking up is move her body as a way to connect with her body before connecting with her brain. Val recommends simplifying your routine with consistency. By removing extra decisions, like what to eat or which workout to do, you can start your day off in an organized way, and you’re more likely to stay consistent with your goals.

On Getting Outside

Getting outside daily by taking walks and connecting with nature is a non-negotiable for Val’s mental wellness. Breathing fresh air is such a basic element of self-care, yet so many of us skip over it.

Fun fact: Val often records her podcast while taking her walks to capture the sounds of nature in the background.

On Being Inspired

Val encourages everyone to find something they can read every day that can help inspire, realign, or ground yourself.

Write out a list of your “essentials”, the things that ground your or bring you joy. When you’re having an off day, there’s no need to make a decision about what might help, you can simply refer back to your list.

Pro Tip: Val hangs a childhood picture of herself in her office as a reminder to be kind to herself.

Follow Val on Instagram.


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April Dace

April is a respected producer and creator of music videos, documentary shorts, photography and television series. As the owner of Dace & Mohr, April’s name is tied to all kinds of high profile projects, yet she’s maintained a passion for personal connection and authenticity.

On Having the Confidence to Start Her Own Business

April flipped the production company model on its head, by seeing an opportunity to create a roster of directors, producers and buyers who aren’t tied in to the old contract model. It took a while to get the courage to go out on her own, but she recognized that she had it in her to take the leap and bring her vision to life. Her top tips for those wanting to start their own business:

  • It has to come from your heart – something you’re passionate about.
  • Don’t be afraid of a new approach.
  • You will have moments of fear, but trust your gut.
  • Don’t be tempted to do something for success or recognition that is not for you – you will be miserable.
  • Lead with your heart.

On Mental Resilience

When one aspect of her overall wellness is lacking, she can feel it begin to affect other areas of her life, which is why mental wellness is an important part of April’s overall wellbeing. By nature, the entertainment industry is an industry of rejection, so to keep herself in a good mental space, April surrounds herself with life giving people. This looks like:

  • A support system of people who build you up, and not knock you down.
  • Surround yourself with people whose skills complement your strengths, but also challenge you to grow. People who will push you back into the ring.
  • Negativity can be contagious, so it’s important to cultivate a positive culture, with a healthy perspective on life’s ups and downs.

When things get tough, April taps into her spirituality and faith, with the understanding that she doesn’t have to be a fountain of confidence all by herself. When she feels out of alignment she leans in to exercise and physical activity. She also checks in with herself:

  • What is true?
  • What am I feeling?
  • What could be causing this?
  • She then leans into those truths, acknowledging that this is not all for her to carry.

For more, visit Dace & Mohr.


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Kelly Hagan

When not performing violin, Kelly is the patient advocate for companies and publications that deal with the treatment of clinical depression. She aims to shed light on treatment options, new technologies and new outlooks on mental health.

On Depression

Kelly was diagnosed with clinical depression when she was 13, and it took every ounce of energy to hide it. Kelly was a different face of depression. There’s a huge misconception that depression looks like one thing, but Kelly was so high functioning, that it was hard to spot. For Kelly, depression wasn’t sadness, so much as it was feeling completely numb. She unsuccessfully tried dozens of medications, which either had horrific side effects, or didn’t work at all for her. Just like there is no one-size-fits-all face of depression, there is also no one-size-fits all medication. This can lead to many people opting to take medication that isn’t effective for them, just they don’t experience any side effects. That was the case for Kelly.

By 21 years old, Kelly had become suicidal. Luckily, she was introduced to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) which ended the numbness and fog that she’d had to live with for 10 years. This led to Kelly becoming a patient advocate, because she realized that depression isn’t something you just have to live with, you just need to find the right treatment for you.

“It’s one thing to have a bad day, or a bad week, but when you start to have a series of bad months in a row, it’s time to reevaluate what’s going on, and get some help.”

On Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

In Kelly’s experience, TMS uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerves in a clinically depressed brain. Foil is fitted over the forehead and rapid magnetic pulses are administered for about 30 minutes. The  pulses were painless – Kelly likened them to the feeling of someone tapping on your forehead. Typically, people need to go for 20-30 treatments.

If you’re trying to decide whether or not TMS is the right treatment for you, you need to understand the difference between clinical and situational depression:

  • Clinical Depression: Is not influenced by outside factors and will not go away without treatment
  • Situational Depression: Outside factors and experiences can create a situational depression – all of us can go through it from time to time, to a certain degree.

On the Healing Power of Music

When Kelly still suffered from depression, playing music allowed her to feel alive and feel a sense of relief. This isn’t an isolated experience or a coincidence – music is extremely unique in how it activates the brain. No other activity uses all the sense the way playing music does. It also causes the brain to release dopamine a.k.a. the feel-good hormone.

On the Music Industry

The music industry can be very mental fatiguing, Kelly’s advice is to find small ways to take the career aspect out of it for as long as you need to, because it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and lose the craft. Regular check ins can help prevent you from burning your passion to the ground.

On Advocacy

Kelly is a patient advocate for Neurostar, the first TMS company to receive FDA approval in the USA. Being a patient advocate means that Kelly is the face of the treatment, letting people know her experience and spreading the word. After going through something as horrible as her clinical depression, Kelly wanted to find a purpose for her experience. She wants to help anyone who feels as lost and unfixable as she did for so many years.

“If I had survived cancer, or a life saving surgery, I wouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about that experience, so this [depression] shouldn’t be any different.”

Follow Kelly on Instagram.