We are 15 days from a new year, wrapped in a new decade!
New Year's, for me, means taking inventory, letting go, and calling in what I really desire for myself moving forward. So rather than shove holiday promotions down your throat, this season I want to gift you the lessons I've learned in the last decade. I want to share with you the GOLD I have extracted from a decade of adventures, obstacles, pain & bliss.
In the last decade I have:
Completed a BA in Communications
Discovered the yogic path
Started a teaching business in Spain
Planned & organized global events
Managed a team of high level executives
Left my career in corporate
Had my heart broken
Lived on 3 continents & 1 pacific island
Lived & traveled in a van
Created a conscious, romantic partnership
Lost countless friends
Found my soul tribe
Developed a chronic illness
Self-healed my chronic illness
Completed a 2 year certification in Holistic Nutrition
Gave birth to my women's health practice, Mana Wellness
And much, much more.
I can truly, TRULY say that I have done more in the last decade than most do in 5 lifetimes. And while it has been anything but easy, I am proud of what I've experienced and created. I've shuffled to the edge of my limitations and plunged into the unknown on countless occasions; so much so, that fear plunging is a full time hobby of mine. Seriously.
I have lived on the edge of what others would deem "impossible" or "crazy." When people told me I'd never find work in Spain's economy and I was foolish for moving at 23, I did it anyway. When I was handed an opportunity to start a business with an established CEO, I declined to study meditation & find my truth. When my parents & friends judged my "alternative lifestyle," I persevered in the pursuit of my purpose despite their lack of acceptance. Over and over again I continue to trust my intuition & follow my heart (when others disapprove) because I have learned that there is no greater disservice to yourself than not reaching for, believing in, and fighting for what you want & deserve (no matter who it pisses off).
In honor of 2020 soon beginning, here are the 11 lessons that I have learned over the last wild decade. These lessons have brought me to my knees in my darkest hours, only to later teach me to rise. May they teach you to rise.
1. Surrender is not defeat, it is loving acceptance
Surrender was NEVER in my vocabulary, just ask my first boyfriend (bless his poor soul). I came from a house of intense Italian men & fiery Spanish women, so there was very little surrendering going on under my roof. Fighting was a way of life for me in my early 20's. I knew how to intimidate even myself into submission. It was a toxic behavior I picked up and did not readily relinquish UNTIL I developed chronic illness. In the beginning days of chronic health issues I was hell bent on "fighting my illness" and thus my body. I would say terrible things to myself in the delusional hopes of it somehow kicking my body's ass into healing. Spoiler alert: it didn't work. When my body had been beaten down so badly, I simply had no choice but to surrender and accept my circumstances. Through that profound acceptance, I learned to love my body back to wellness. We cannot change anything before we actually accept it as it is. Surrender, therefore, is the first stage of healing (anything in your life).
2️. Everything is temporary, even bliss, this will pass
Meditation has been a tremendous teacher in my life. During the last decade I hit some pretty high points of bliss & joy. I also hit the lowest bottoms of despair. In the words of my spiritual teacher, "polar opposite experiences can co-exist in the same reality." The non-abstract way of saying this is, you can feel utter bliss in one moment and before that moment has even completed you are dipping back into a puddle of turmoil. This is the human experience. There were moments when the turmoil seemed to bang on endlessly. I would convince myself that the pain I was experiencing would "never end." But it does, and it will. The timing of life is always perfect and relinquishing control allows pain to move quicker into peace. I am no longer sad that my joy will pass, and I am no longer joyful that my sadness will pass. I simply embrace the impermanence of all experience as a part of the bigger web of extraordinary living.
3️. You cannot save others at the expense of yourself
This lesson beat the shit out of me and the faster you can learn/integrate it, the better. Part of my shadow work has been realizing my instinctual & compulsive need to save others because "I know better." Even if you have all the tools to help someone out of the pit, they must be the ones to pull themselves out. It took me sacrificing my own health and life many times, for many others before I realized killing myself was not helping someone else. This is a lesson of breaking co-dependency and encouraging self-responsibility. My life has gotten significantly better since I stopped taking ownership for others baggage and started dealing with my own. The best thing you can do for others is be a living example of self-responsibility & self-healing. What they do or do not do, is not up to us to control & interfering in that process is more damaging than anything.
4️. Pain is undiscovered truth, give it a voice
I've come to know pain as a close friend instead of a dreaded foe. I've learned that the greater the pain/fear, the closer you are to truth. Our culture demonizes and pathologizes pain as something to be suppressed, numbed or medicated but certainly not listened to. The last 10 years has brought a continual bombing of pain; physical, emotional, mental, & spiritual. In my early 20's I took the numbing route; I drank, smoked & partied to help me escape my pain - that didn't work. In my mid 20's I started suppressing my pain via spiritual bypassing; I thought I could out meditate my pain and disassociate from my body - that didn't work. In the end, I had no choice but to give my pain a mega-phone and let it scream at the top of it's lungs. The message my pain brought was a treasure chest of truth that allowed me to heal.
5️. Love is the greatest medicine, never withhold it from yourself
When others stop loving us, we take that as an invitation to do the same. We think that self-abuse & self-critique will lead to meaningful change in our lives, but the exact opposite happens. The less love we feel for ourselves, the less likely we are to make a real change for the better. There have been many moments in my life when I felt disgusted with & hateful toward my self, my body & my circumstances. The first 12 months of my chronic illness was spent berating myself to death with hateful speech. "You're pathetic." "You'll never get better." "No one loves you." "Nobody wants to be around you." I was withholding love from myself believing that would motivate a change in me. It never did. The change occurs when we let love be the consciousness that flows through and around us, no matter what the circumstance. Love is the ONLY medicine that heals; not cures, heals. And a synonym for love is truth. And the truth was my body needed love badly. I have seen first hand in my own life, and the lives of my clients, how unconditional love changes, heals, & liberates us into a state of wholeness.
6️. Most people want you to stay the same, but that’s not a good enough reason not to change
Almost every single person from my past wanted me to stay in a box that fit their agenda. My parents, friends, colleagues, bosses, etc. When I outgrew or rebelled against that box, they felt it personally offensive. The truth is that the people closest to us experience a tangible shift when we change our lives. When we embody our truth, we unintentionally hold up a mirror for them to do the same and people HATE facing the truth. In fact, the majority of humanity will run from the truth until the day they die. When you become the divergent one, the outlier, the rebel...people will try to contain you in order to keep themselves "safe." I have learned to let go of anything or anybody that cares more about containing than growing. I have also made it a priority to surround myself with people who encourage and inspire me to expand. Staying safe, and staying the same is no longer an option for me.
7️. You can choose your beliefs, many of them were never yours to begin with, they were handed to you
Much of my personal healing process required me to examine the beliefs that were perpetuating illness, imbalance, or dysfunction on every level. It's never a fun process but it is liberating to realize that very few of your beliefs actually came from YOU. Most of them came from culture, family, teachers, friends, or institutions. This is a process I instill in my clients as soon as possible because recognizing that you can choose new beliefs is a game-changer on all fronts. Just to blow your mind up a little more, we often unintentionally absorb the dysfunction that our parents are not dealing with so becoming more aware of the beliefs of the people close to us is also crucial. When you can disconnect yourself from inherited beliefs, you will discover who you are & why you're here.
8️. You’re not an island, we all need each other
I am very much guilty of clinging to the "I can do it myself" attitude; which stems from a deeply felt sense of abandonment, beginning in childhood. I've always been the first to offer help or support but the last to ask for it because I wouldn't be caught dead looking weak. It's not coincidence that many of my clients have a similar attitude. I used to pride myself on being the miss-independent, self-sufficient, don't need no-one, kinda gal. My first ever tattoo at age 19 means "she who depends on herself, attains the greatest happiness." Yea, I was that kinda woman, and in many ways still am. However, I now know more than ever the importance of leaning on social connection, community, mentors, and family (either blood or soul). We simply cannot do this life alone, and I have many people to thank for helping me realize this. I now understand that asking for help is a trait of the strongest & bravest.
9️. An expired relationship, job or life is not a failure, it’s a death that should be honored & recycled
Our culture views death as the worst case scenario. That includes the death of a relationship, job, or otherwise. I used to get really down on myself when "things didn't work out" or I lost a friend or my romantic relationship failed. I used to believe this death was a reflection of my worth. By allowing parts of my self and my life to die, I have come to know and understand that this is a natural and more importantly, healthy part of living. I think its slightly bizarre to expect that we'll have the same career, same friends and same partner from 25 until death. Yikes! Instead of claiming failure, I take what has died and compost it for better, richer soil. The truth is, nothing lasts, everything dies, and we can either flow with or fight against that. This is a lesson in non-attachment.
10. Let your fears guide you, not stop you
We've been wildly misled about how to approach fear. Fear is often a painful experience, and pain is to be avoided at all costs in our culture. Thus, avoiding fear means experiencing less pain. It's a win! Or is it? Admittedly, I am a bit of a fear junkie, but thats only because I have committed to doing what scares the shit out of me and lived to tell the amazing tale. When you let your fears guide you instead of stop you, you learn to sit comfortably in the unknown and trust that you have everything within you to succeed. Again, I have thrown myself off the edge so many times that I now fully trust that I am capable of figuring it out. When fear approaches, I look into it's eyes and say "alright, lets tango." You won't know all the steps of that dance but you'll figure it out, and when you do, you'll be dancing through life instead of meekly tip-toeing around it.
1️1. There is no greater self-betrayal than repressing your truth
I am absolutely sure that my chronic illness was a form of self-punishment for not living up to what others wanted me to be; it was a manifestation of perceived failure. I felt powerless to make anybody happy, including myself. Every time I tried to fit into a world I knew I didn't belong, my soul would ache in agony. That agony was self-betrayal. It was like wearing a shoe 2 sizes too small. I longed to be freely accepted for who I was behind the mask I had created for many years. I longed to re-create my life in a way that aligned with my true values, but felt guilty about the way that impacted those who "loved me." So I kept my truth at bay, denying myself the right to live according to my own rule book. Until I couldn't lie to myself any more. My body was literally revolting against the lie in the form of depression, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, SIBO, leaky gut, etc etc. If you're ever unsure of where to find healing, you will always find it among truth. Health is, in its essence, a function of and embodiment of...truth.
I encourage you to examine each one of these lessons from the lens of your own life and answer this question:
What has this decade taught you?
Make your own list, be with it and examine it so that you can move freely into 2020 empowered. You can drunkenly flop into the next decade with your eyes shut as many do each year. Or you can glide into it, eyes ablaze with 20-20 vision.