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.

You’re Already There: My Journey to Spirituality

We all want to leave a mark on the world, right? I have spent decades deeply inside of my head, planning, analyzing, and trying to control all the possible outcomes. Even with all of that effort and data to back me up, I still felt a block…a hesitation when I would go to take the next step forward. What I’ve uncovered throughout this journey to spirituality, is that what was blocking me for so long was lack of trust in myself. It makes sense though, how can you trust yourself if you don’t fully know yourself? If you so deeply attach yourself to the identities that you’ve made for yourself (MBA-grad, corporate marketer, mother, wife, person of service)? These identities are not bad in any way, contrarily, I’m incredibly proud of each one of those labels. But at times I’ve let one single label take over my entire being, and it’s taken a lot of work and soul searching to realize that while those labels are part of me, not one defines who I am in my deepest core. In my soul.

When I was a kid, I didn’t have any of those labels attached to me. I felt so strongly that I had a unique emotional sensitivity (empathy), and knew that I was going to spend my life trying to make a change in the world. Not only did I feel it, but I knew it so certainly…I trusted it. Simple as that. The crappy part about growing up is that you learn how to fear, you learn how to compare, you learn how to get hurt, and you learn to lose trust in yourself, despite all the people who love you cheering you on.

When I first started this blog, I planned to write about a different ‘spiritual’ endeavor for each entry. I outlined two months worth of activities and thought I’d basically review each one, and tell you that step by step I was getting closer to figuring out this whole spirituality thing. If I were actually sticking to that plan, I’d be writing about crystals right now (I have grown to love crystals, but that’s for another time).

My point is, that plan was never going to work, and was certainly a lesson in ‘going with the flow’. I have tried a lot of the items that were on my ‘spiritual to do’ list, but the way it’s worked is that everything is blending together beautifully, and it’s getting harder and harder to talk about each item on its own. Here are a couple of those experiences that came together seamlessly on this path to finding trust…

One morning I got a newsletter from Ann Sensing of Magnolia Meditation saying that she had crystal singing bowls for sale. Without pausing, I replied back that I wanted to come try them. After I hit send on the email, I couldn’t believe I did that. In a previous life, that was something that might pop into my mind, and then I’d tell myself I didn’t have time for a new hobby, I didn’t know what I was doing, it’s not for me, one excuse after the other. But, simply letting myself do what I felt, without thinking or understanding why, felt foreign yet surprisingly empowering.

Long story short, I met with Ann and tried out some of the new bowls she had in stock. Before she told me much about the bowls, she urged me to pick a couple that I was drawn to, and we would start there. She pulled them off the shelf, and without ever having picked up a mallet before, I started playing, feeling, and listening. I’m sure my technique was total crap, but it didn’t matter, and she didn’t correct me. It was all about listening, feeling, and trusting. She kindly gave me a brief tutorial on how to properly play the bowls, and then sent me on my way to explore.

What I have loved so much about this experience after having had my bowls for about a month now, is that it forces me to flow. Particularly because I am so inexperienced, all I can do is go with what my body is telling me to do. Tap the bowl to which my body and my heart are drawn. Listen to the outcome. Notice the feeling in different parts of my body. No planning, no expectation. Instead- curiosity, feeling, and trusting.

My next experience was never on my original ‘spiritual to-do’ list. Yes, I am happy to say I went off script. Talking with a psychic medium was something I always wondered about, but let my fear stop me from pursuing it for a number of reasons, “What if I didn’t like what I heard? Would the person be full of it?” It was too risky for me, and I never did it. But, I recently met a psychic medium through an unrelated project, and couldn’t get the thought of trying it out of my mind. In an effort to deeply listen to my curiosity, I decided to give it a try. The way I look at it is that what comes from these sessions is all simply information. Whatever she said to me was mine to interpret because that’s how spirituality works – what needs to come up will come up, and I’ll use that information however that best suits me. Even if it is complete hooey (which I don’t think it is, some stuff was just TOO spot on), it gave me information that would prompt me into diving deeper into my heart to work through whatever it is I need to work through.

I signed up for a medium reading, the kind where you might connect with someone who has passed. Without any real expectations of connecting with a loved one, I opened myself up to the experience.

Within minutes, the medium connected with someone who had a paramount impact on my upbringing…she knew this person’s name (almost) to a tee, and called me by the childhood nickname that this person used to call me. Lately, I have been wishing that she were here during this challenging time to indulge me with some of her wisdom and comfort. Being able to connect with her was an experience I can’t really explain because any word that I type seems too trivial and doesn’t do it justice.

Of all the pieces of wisdom that my old friend shed upon me, the key theme that came through was to trust myself. She told me to stop focusing on becoming my potential, because I’m already there. That all I need to do is take a step forward, and step in confidence because the path will be created for me. That she has been putting these steps…these opportunities and hardships and successes in front of me, and I need to trust that I’m exactly where I need to be.

Prior to this experience, the idea of trusting myself kept coming up over and over, but hearing it from my old friend’s mouth, and knowing that she has been there believing in me the whole time, and even putting my path in front of me, is exactly what I needed to hear to solidify that trust. And to be honest, it’s what I’ve been telling myself this whole time, I just didn’t fully believe it.

You might be thinking, ‘sure that could apply to anyone,’ but for the sake of the length of this blog post, I am leaving out a lot of specifics. Maybe this experience was just me using my biased thoughts to solidify my trust in myself, or maybe I truly connected with my old friend. But it doesn’t really matter how it happened because the outcome is exactly what I needed to be reinspired and restored.

My old friend embodied wisdom, protection, and kindness when she was on this earth, and without knowing much of anything about her, the medium referred to her as a “wise truth teller.” One of the last things that this wise truth teller told me in our session was to “shine your light through, Clara Beara.”

Later that day, I pulled from my affirmation jar, and the affirmation I drew that day was, “I feel the love of others who aren’t physically around me.” I trust that it was my old friend putting the exact right card into my hand, to hear exactly what I needed to hear at that moment, and I’m going to continue listening.

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Discover Your True North – Virtual Community Group and Live Coaching

“True North is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track as a leader. It is derived from your most deeply held beliefs, values, and the principles you lead by. It is your internal compass, unique to you, representing who you are at your deepest level” – Bill George

Our latest this 4-part workshop series was born out of Clara’s experience as she searched for spirituality and authenticity, and learned to trust herself. We’ll help you discover your true north – your fixed point and baseline in a world that can at times feel out of control.

I’m Ready to Discover my True North

Growing Through the Setbacks: My Journey to Spirituality

– Writers Note –

I wrote this blog post 1.5 hours before the tornado swept through Nashville on March 3rd. The devastation that this tornado has caused for our beloved community has left many of us heartbroken and continues to put things into perspective. While this ‘setback’ I talk about in this blog is miniscule compared to what so many are going through right now, I still wanted to share because it is a reminder that no matter how big or small your feelings are right now and always, that they are valid. That you can’t heal without feeling them in their entirety. That you can’t heal without looking them in the face and asking some questions. Maybe those questions are what do I need to be supported right now? Who can I lean on for support right now? How can I support others while still caring for myself right now? Or maybe the starting point is simply asking, how am I feeling right now? 

Whether the unimaginable happened and you lost a home or loved one; you experienced extreme terror while holding your babies tight as the destructive winds whipped by you, and are now reliving the “what ifs,”; or you are bearing witness to your beloved community try to rebuild what has been broken, your feelings are yours, they are valid, and they are important. 

Deep breath.


It finally happened – the dreaded set back. I debated whether to share this piece of my journey with you because if you’ve found a nugget of inspiration somewhere along the way, I don’t want you to lose motivation. Then I realized that this actually may be the most crucial part of the journey to publish. Why? Because not only can life take a zig or a zag, but it will. Looking back on it, these bumps have so clearly been part of the path that was meant for me. But that’s the thing I’ve learned about your ‘path’ lately, is that if you can see it perfectly laid out in front of you, it’s not for you.

Things had felt so good since I started to really get curious, and open myself to creativity, authenticity, and in a word, spirituality. The rewards had been incredible, and I thought I had this spirituality thing down-pat. Then, one Saturday morning, my old friend fear knocked on the door and barged back into my life. I’m happy to say its stay was short, but definitely not without hardship.

Life had been especially hectic for a few weeks, and after having been pretty proud of how gracefully I was handling it, I finally cracked. I finally stopped trying too hard to do “the work” because I was so.damn.tired. I just let myself feel grumpy, I took off my kindness filter when speaking to my loved ones, and was simply not anywhere close to the best version of myself. I felt it, I knew it, but I couldn’t stop it. I was just too tired.

As a result, I took one too many verbal jabs towards my husband and lost my cool with my kids, who had been trading back and forth colds for a month that finally turned into ear infections (sick kids = no sleep). It’s not like they wanted any of that, but at one point in the midst of echoing screams from both kids, I sat down on the floor, plugged my ears, and I too, screamed. I completely lost my patience, my compassion, and my gratitude. This angry, annoyed feeling lingered throughout the whole weekend. And it scared the shit out of me.

Yes I didn’t like that I was acting like a child, but worse was thinking that maybe I was a fake. Or maybe this amazing connection and gratitude had only been fleeting. I had been reaping so many rewards from my spiritual journey, and sharing them publicly! And there I was on the bathroom floor screaming, so that I couldn’t hear my kids melting down. Where was my angel then? Had I made the whole thing up? Would that amazing feeling ever come back?

I briefly lost trust in myself and what I’d been feeling so strongly. I longed desperately for the peace and calm that I had felt for the past couple months. Now that I knew what it felt like, I missed it deeply.

The thing that I’m learning about fear is that when you let it in without putting it in its place, it can spiral into something even bigger. In addition to being scared about being a spiritual imposter, there was an even bigger fear lurking in the background. Something I hadn’t been the slightest bit worried about in months, but once I opened the door to misalignment and worry, this even bigger fear came waltzing right in. Something I haven’t yet talked about yet in this forum, but here goes.

Shortly after the birth of my son I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression. The scariest part about that diagnosis for me was that I had no idea. I spend my life helping people work on their mental health, and I didn’t know what was going on with my own for that time. I hadn’t felt quite right, but I went to the doctor for follow ups and because the computerized test that screens for PPD didn’t flag me as having it, I just assumed I had the “Baby Blues,” though I’m not sure there’s really a difference. As my therapist put it, they’re all along the same spectrum. Long story short, after following a combination of self-care methods, I felt like myself again consistently for 4 months or so. And even more recently, not just ‘like myself,’ but really really amazing.

Having been on the other side of this set back for a couple weeks, it was so much smaller than I made it out to be. I was exhausted and lost my cool for a few days, but when you’re exhausted and losing your shit, it’s really hard to realize that.

On the fourth night or so of feeling like this I was laying in bed exhausted, but my mind was racing too quickly to sleep. Ugh, back to my old ways again. The thought of that just made my mind race even faster! I composed myself and made a mental list out what was going on inside of me. I realized that all of my actions were stemming from fear. I just started a blog called “Turning Fear into Curiosity,” I am so full of it…wait, actually, I have an idea, let’s try something.

I got out of bed and did what I had just told people helped  me so much – I started writing. I wrote out my feelings, my fears, all of it. Half way through the page I decided to make things a bit more literal, and turn this thought process into a framework. You can take the girl out of corporate America, but the girl will still be obsessed with frameworks.

I created a table with four columns: “Fear,” “→,” “Curiosity,” “Takeaway”. It wasn’t perfect or pretty, but it made sense to me. And damn did it feel good. Putting my fear down on paper, giving it a name, and asking it and myself a question or two made everything feel manageable. And best of all, in a quick 10 minutes, I let go of all the fear I had been feeling about being a fraud, my spirituality being gone, and my PPD coming back. Just by turning my fear into curiosity, instead of combativeness, I was able to make the fear so miniscule that I laid my head down on the pillow afterwards and went right to sleep. Holy cow, the mind is so powerful.

Below is an example of what I wrote. I invite you to use this simple framework, change it up how it works for you, but most importantly maybe try asking your fear some questions. I’m curious to see what happens.

Full disclosure, there were more fears filling out the table in the actual one, some things are just TMI, sorry.

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At the end of this exercise I came to the conclusion this was all a test, a part of my journey, me making my path. It was also a reminder not to put too much pressure on any one thing. Life gets messy at times, and sometimes you have to sit in the icky feelings until you’re ready to ask them the right questions. Prior to this I had a hard time figuring out what it was about this spirituality that I loved so much. Was I in love with the idea of it? When I felt the brief absence of it, I could so easily describe what it was that I was missing: peace, security, gratitude, connection. This setback only strengthened my commitment to this never-ending journey, and I’m happy to report that this phase has in-fact passed, and I am not a spiritual fraud.

The Breakthrough: My Journey to Spirituality

I like to think it was divine timing that introduced me to Kim Breese and her gifts with Healing Touch. A dear friend excitedly told me about her back in 2019, gave me her card, and told me I had to call her, we had so much in common! Kim’s business card sat on my desk for six months or so, staring at me, making me wonder what ‘HTP’ even meant (Healing Touch Practitioner for those, like I was, too lazy to google). One day in January I decided to send her an email. Before I could do that, I found an email in my inbox from my friend with the subject line “Kim <> Clara Intro.” This also happened to be the very same week I decided to kick off my spiritual journey.

It’s almost like the universe was just waiting for us to connect until I was in the right place to receive, because had I approached this practice with a different mindset, I’m not sure I would’ve reaped the benefits that I have. I’m sure I would’ve gotten a lot out of it, but I probably wouldn’t have been ready to hear the message that was heading towards me loud and clear.

After finally meeting with Kim over coffee, I emphatically booked a session with her. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I was looking forward to an hour of getting horizontal and closing my eyes, and if I was lucky maybe I’d even doze off for a little bit.

We started the session with a few questions and an exploration of how I felt emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I rated each one of those from 1 to 10. This was a really simple and effective check in. I’ve been incorporating this tool into my own coaching practice.

Now it was time for the good stuff! I got to lay down on a heated table with a pillow under my head, and a blanket over my body. Bring on nap time. Or so I thought.

The session began with Kim waving a pendulum over my body to understand which chakras were compromised. She referred to this as her ‘stethoscope,’ to help her identify which of her tools to use in our session. That was a really cool analogy for someone new to the “woo,” who hadn’t done this sort of thing before.

After that, we began with some guided meditation, which got me out of my head and into my body. I am an overthinker whose mind does its best racing while in silent stillness, so to be able to quiet my mind was an excellent start. The session would’ve been a win if it had ended right there.

Around 15 minutes in, I was existing somewhere between a dream and a light meditation when I saw something. I saw a person on a mountain top, blowing a kiss over a cliff in my direction. My instant question was, “to whom am I blowing a kiss?” Then I realized it wasn’t me blowing the kiss, but rather someone blowing a kiss to me. I was certain of that.

A few minutes went by and I continued to relax. Any thoughts that came up floated right by. All of a sudden I noticed two people staring at each other with pure love and pride in their eyes. It was bursting out of their very being. Then I saw what they were so proud of – a newborn baby nestled in the woman’s arms. Upon further inspection, I realized that the woman was my mom, and the man was my dad, aged about 30 years. The same age they were when they had me.

At this point I was emotionally moved, feeling the love, and thinking this was pretty cool, but…was I just dreaming? I didn’t want to overthink it. My time was coming to an end, and with my eyes closed, I noticed that Kim had stepped away from the table. At that time, I also noticed what felt like a huge burst of white light and warmth on my chest. It almost felt like someone had turned on a flood light directly above me. It felt like I was being wrapped in a giant hug. It felt like comfort, protection, and a subtle smile. I recently read about auras and the meaning of their different colors, and told myself I’d look up what the white color meant when I left.

Soon thereafter Kim told me it was time to start awakening my body, so that I could get up and go about my day, even though I really didn’t want to. Without saying much Kim mentioned that she felt I was receiving strong messages of love…that I am so deeply loved. Chills. This explained the kiss from the woman on the cliff and the pride beaming from my 30-year old parents over the newborn me.

As I sat up on the table getting ready to re-enter the world, Kim confidently and quietly mentioned, “By the way, when you were laying there at the end, I saw a huge angel hovering over you.”

Um, WHAT? That’s what that white light was? That giant hug? It wasn’t just some suggestion to look up an aura? Wow. The only response I could muster up was a stream of tears. I felt it…I really felt it. I felt it at the exact time she said she saw it. It was undeniable and indescribable.

All night, all week, all month I couldn’t stop thinking about this experience. Rocking my son to bed that night, I was smiling ear to ear. I felt like I was passing this joy, completeness, and warmth that filled my heart into his heart. I felt that I was right where I was supposed to be. That everything has happened for a reason. In a word, I felt gratitude.  In a previous post, I noted how I defined spirituality in the beginning of this quest, as “a connection to something bigger that brings me to a state of gratitude.” It feels like I’m there, even though I know I’m just scratching the surface of what’s possible.

A few weeks have passed since this experience, and it has become my touchstone. It is the feeling with which I begin and end my day. It is my new baseline. When I’m not feeling that warmth, light, and connection, I quickly evaluate what’s going on and what I need to do to get back there. It is the touchstone that brings me to gratitude every day. The touchstone that I talk to throughout the day. That helps me stay present enough to pay attention to the little messages as they come and go. Because there are so many, and they are so beautiful, and they bring me so much joy. It has been THE breakthrough in my spiritual journey. It is what broke me open to this whole spiritual world, and has me chomping at the bit to continue exploring and feeding this curiosity.

Through many challenges and surprises that have arisen recently, I still feel supported, loved, and protected. It feels comforting, for lack of a better word, knowing that I have an angel by my side through it all. Just typing that gives me the warm and fuzzies. Yes, I have an angel.

Turning Fear into Curiosity: My Journey to Spirituality

Open. That was the word I chose on January 1st — the word that would define my intention for the year. At the time, I was laser focused on opening a brick and mortar location for the Happy Hour. It’s now February 13th, and boy oh boy, that word has taken on a whole new meaning to me.

Flashback to the first week in January. I had just begun training to become a Certified Holistic Life Coach. I’d been doing online classes for a while, but couldn’t get my act together to actually finish the requirements, so I decided to commit to the in-person training and just get it done. Being both a new business owner and a parent of two kids under three years old, productivity and efficiency were always at the forefront of my mind.

Ever since I did a 180 from my corporate job and started my health journey, I have considered myself a pretty intense person when it comes to anything self-care, mental health, and self-awareness related. I do the work; I regularly see a therapist, practice yoga, and read all the inspiring Instagram posts. I try all the new wellness stuff out there – and preach about it! I turned my life’s work into creating a company that promotes the kind of self-care and community that normalizes mental wellness, in the hopes of making the world a happier place. I think of myself as a happy person, because I am! But, I recently came face to face with issues that have been lurking beneath the surface, and holding me back in so many areas of my life. I’ve spent a lot of time uncovering and working through them over the years, but it wasn’t until Day 3 of Life Coach training that I had finally said “uncle,” and surrendered to my truth. We spent hours each day of training getting coached in a group and doing a lot of deep introspection. The idea being, that you can’t be an effective life coach if you aren’t aware of what’s going on inside of you… you can’t give what you don’t have.

Well, Day 3 is the day that something inside of me snapped. I can’t tell you what the final trigger was, but it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it happened. My typically buttoned-up, polished, MBA-trained self, broke down and confessed to the group that I was sick of it. I was sick of always being buttoned up. I was sick of being polished. I was sick of feeling closed off. I was sick of the pressure I put on myself to be perfect. SICK.OF.IT. The trainer took a breath, and masterfully responded with a quote that author Elizabeth Gilbert tweeted several years back:

I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.

Wow. I just got called out. And she hit the nail on the head. I promptly opened my journal to a fresh page, and titled it: “My Bullshit To Get Over ” and wrote a bulleted list of what I consider to be, well, my own bullshit. I noticed that there was a clear theme on my list – fear. Fear was driving so many of my decisions, and how I showed up in everyday life. What am I so afraid of? Why have I been letting fear take the wheel for so long? In that moment, I became determined to address this bullshit list head-on.

Breakthrough number two came on Day 4 of training, when the same trainer posed the question, “What spiritual rituals do you practice every day?” Cue the bead of sweat down my forehead. This question both sent me into a tailspin, and subsequently changed my life. As we went around the circle, it seemed that everyone had a number of beautifully articulated spiritual rituals that they practiced on a daily basis. As my peers spoke about these rituals, the peace and elation that accompanied their words were palpable. It was clear to see that they were vibrating on some other level that I didn’t know about. A club of which I wasn’t a part because I, on the other hand, didn’t even know what spiritual practice was. To be honest, I didn’t really know what the word ‘spiritual’ meant. Does this mean how pious you are? How often you pray to your higher power? How frequently you meditate? I believe in God, I pray as often as I think about it, I go to church sometimes… Where does that put me on this spiritual scale? To put it lightly, I was confused.

To answer her question, all I could muster up was, “ummmm, pass?”. The confusion and panic in my face became apparent to the group, so we took a step back to talk about the definition of spirituality. There is no one-size-fits all definition here, but the one that stuck to me was the one that defined spirituality as “anything that brings you closer to gratitude.” All of a sudden it didn’t feel like such a daunting task. Maybe I could do this after all.

You’d think that after years of trying any sort of self-development work I could get my hands on that I would’ve figured out a spiritual routine that brought me to my higher self, if you will. But I didn’t. That always bothered me, but I couldn’t figure out why. I put in the work, why am I not feeling the peace and spiritual connection I’m looking for?

What I’ve come to realize is that on the other side of this desire to become the best and happiest version of myself has been sitting a tremendous amount of fear, and when you let fear act as the guiding force in your decisions and actions, you are never going to be present enough to find that higher self that radiates positive energy (which is how I envision spirituality). Feeling simply content and confident that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. In my endeavor to become the best leader I could be, to become the most successful business person I could be, and the best parent I could be, I lost two things: my sense of self and my creativity. My spirituality, this ‘higher self,’ would never appear without those things. That’s not good enough for me anymore. Maybe what I find will look different than what I’ve envisioned, but I’m sure as hell not going to stand in the way of realizing my own spirituality, whatever that may look like, anymore.

What’s this about creativity though? Somewhere along the way in the past decade, after writing hundreds of pages of business case studies, memos, pitches, and the like, I lost my creativity. Or maybe just buried it deep beneath piles of excel spreadsheets and business lingo. I was so focused on producing and hitting deadlines that I didn’t allow time for anything creative. Sadly, I came to believe that I wasn’t creative, and told people all the time, “I’m just not a creative person.”

That’s where this blog comes into play. I’m combining the two things that have felt like a hole in my recent life: spirituality and creativity. This blog is an attempt to uncover the creativity that I buried a while back, while also saying goodbye to fear.  I’m jumping all in to new ways to heal what needs to be healed, and digging deeper into myself to reach that higher vibration I talked about.

Over the next few weeks I’ll bring you along with me as I try new things in hopes to shed some light on something you may have been curious about, but haven’t yet pushed ‘go’ on. I will be your guinea pig, so to speak.

As I’ve become more present through this spiritual journey, I’ve noticed how much my daughter reminds me of myself as a kid, spending hours reading books, getting so much joy from it, and using her imagination to make up fun stories. It pained me to ask myself why I ever stopped doing that. Why did I lose that child-like excitement about creativity? Reading and writing brought me so much joy. I’m giving it a whirl again, and my writing muscle is a good bit weaker than it once was, but I’m having a lot of fun giving it some attention.

I’m a month into this journey, and I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore, but also like I’m my true self for the first time in my life. I am beginning to remove those blocks. And the payoff has been incredible. By the way, that “List of My Own Bullshit” I mentioned earlier has kicked off my daily journaling practice as each day I write about how I’m going to get over my own BS that day, along with any other feelings that come up. And just like that, I’ve got my first daily spiritual ritual.

Building Better Boundaries

A good way to look at boundaries is that boundaries are the space between where you end and another person begins. Setting boundaries can protect you from toxic relationships and stress, while serving as a roadmap for those in your life to understand how you need to be treated – minimizing unnecessary friction in relationships. If left unchecked, a lack of boundaries can lead to tension, misunderstanding, and resentment.

So how do you know if you have a boundary issue? If any of these statements ring true, you could likely benefit from some work on your boundaries:

  • You fall hard and fast for new romantic partners (or friends) – before you’ve really gotten to know them.
  • You feel the need to explain yourself or get defensive – even when you don’t believe you’re at fault.
  • Just like Taylor Swift, you swear you don’t love the drama, but it loves you.
  • You often feel the need to “save” people. (You might refer to it as “helping”.)
  • You often feel taken advantage of, or underappreciated.
  • You seek validation or approval from others, and feel hurt if it isn’t readily given.

Healthy boundaries usually go hand-in-hand with a good sense of self-worth. If you know who you are and what you want, it’s easier to explain it to others. You’ll also be much more comfortable enforcing your boundaries, if you aren’t looking for validation from others.

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.

Brené Brown

So what does that mean for you, if you have lower self esteem? The great news is, that while the act of setting and communicating your boundaries might make you feel uncomfortable, or guilty at first, with practice, enforcing your boundaries will help build your self-esteem and self-identity. And the stronger your identity, the less likely you’ll be to sacrifice yourself in order to enable others or make them comfortable.

How to begin to set boundaries:

  • Identify your limits, and name them. Journaling is great for this!
    • Pay attention to when you feel hurt or resentment. Chances are a boundary has been crossed.
  • Communicate your boundaries clearly. You’re not required to explain yourself, but when setting new boundaries in an existing relationship, it can be helpful to the other person if you explain your feelings.
  • Give yourself permission to say no, and don’t feel the need to explain it, or make up an excuse.
  • Remove yourself from situations when triggered.
  • Take responsibility for your own happiness (this might involve checking in on your inner child – if you need a refresher, check out our blog on re-parenting here)
  • Allow others to be responsible for their own happiness.

Learning to set boundaries is an empowering act of self-care – protecting your time, energy and emotional wellbeing. The tricky thing with boundaries is to remember that they are a two-way street. This means, if you draw a line in the sand that others aren’t allowed to step over, that means it’s best if you don’t step over it either.

You might be good at communicating your needs, and saying “no”. But if you know you have a bit of a people-pleasing streak, be careful not to end up doing the very thing to which you initially said ‘no.’ . This can create gray areas where neither you nor the other person are 100% clear on who is responsible for what. Not only do you begin to lose your sense of identity, but you’re signaling that your boundaries are fluid, which opens up the door for others to disrespect them down the line.

But aren’t relationships about compromise, you ask? Well, yes, when the compromise involves give and take. If you have had a healthy conversation with a loved one about both of your boundaries, and you have both identified places where you’re willing to make sacrifices because you want to, then you can adjust your boundaries. Just make sure you’re adjusting for the right reasons. Fearing that your partner might leave you, or being guilted into something you’re uncomfortable with are red flags.

If someone reacts negatively to you communicating your boundaries, it’s either that they benefited from you not having any before and the relationship was more one-sided than you would have liked to admit, or maybe they just need time to adjust to the new relationship dynamic and the role that they play. We often forget that when we work on ourselves it can feel threatening to those we are close to. Our growth could be shining a light on the areas where they feel stuck, which could make them feel uncomfortable. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you need to adjust your boundaries – it just means that others aren’t always able to meet you where you are – they might have to do some growth of their own first.

Holistic Happiness Series: Simple Steps Toward a Happier You

Welcome to the second installment of our Holistic Happiness Series! We hope this series helps you discover some tools to help you become your happiest self. Read on for some more takeaways from our first pop up, Self-Care Saturday!


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The Self Care Myth

Self-Care doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. The only “right way” is to find several tools that work for your personality, lifestyle and budget, that alsomake you feel uplifted. This can be as simple as taking a few minutes to do something for yourself – a bath, a meditation, a few 1-minute workouts –  or something as big as getting a massage. Ask yourself what you hope to get out of these activities – if you’re just adding another stressful expectation or task to your life, ditch it!

Essential Oils

Essential oils are an effective, natural, and super easy tool to help reduce stress and lift your spirits. If you’ve got a diffuser, put a few drops in and let the aroma run in the background, or just take a few sniffs straight from the bottle for instant relief (close your eyes because these puppies can be strong). EOs can react differently to different folks, so try a few and see which do the trick for you. Some of our favorite calm-inducing EOs include: bergamot, lavender and chamomile.

Counseling or Coaching

Whether you’ve got a specific challenge or are simply feeling frazzled, talking to a professional will teach you the tools to be your best, happiest self. There are lots of options out there, and our therapists from Self-Care Saturday are a great place to start. If you’d prefer to go the coaching route, we suggest using the International Coach Federation as a resource. It’s so important to make mental wellbeing a part of your wellness routine. Feeling good starts with your feelings, right?


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One Minute Workouts

Don’t have time for a “real” workout? Don’t stress! You’ll see more physical and mental results by incorporating quick, consistent workouts into your schedule than you will by doing one high intensity workout on the weekend. Pick a few one-minute exercises and create an effective workout, no matter how time-strapped you are (we squeeze it in while playing with our kids). Visit trainer Matt Royka’s instagram for one-minute workouts that can be done anywhere. Consistency is key! 

Drop us a line if you’ve tried any of the happiness hacks shared at Self-Care Saturday – we’d love to hear how they worked for you!