Pausing Point

Forced slow downs are hard to navigate. Life is busy and there are always distractions and we get used to the constant on the go. Yet here we are, in the middle of a pandemic and it’s as if the Universe decided we need to stop the madness and learn to be still. As a doer, this is very hard for me. I miss my work, I miss my gym, I miss my students, I miss random Target trips, I miss meeting friends for drinks, I miss normal. 

The first couple of days I felt truly despondent. I cried. I sat on my couch in a surreal headspace watching stupid TV to numb my anxiety brain. Going to the gym to deal with my anxiety was no longer an option. I have never wanted to go to work so badly in my life. However, not being able to go to work made me realize how much I love what I do and how much my students mean to me. I appreciate my work so much more now than I ever have before. 

It’s the end of the first week and I still don’t know what life is going to look like from day to day but I have decided to focus on the things I can do now instead of the things I can’t do. I can lay on the couch and watch stupid TV if I want to. I can spend unscheduled time with my daughter for the first time since I went back to work almost seven years ago. I can read to her and she can stay up a little late and it doesn’t really matter. I can spend hours in the woods, even if it’s raining, just walking and breathing in the fresh air with no time restrictions of any kind. I can finish all the little odds and ends projects that I’ve needed to do for months but have been too busy or exhausted from the busy to do. I can read books and articles that I’ve been meaning to for ages. I can FaceTime my sister in Oregon because, despite the time difference, we’re finally home and unbusy at the same time  for the first time since she moved there a year ago. I can lay in bed and listen to music for as long as I want. I can sit on my back deck and enjoy the beautiful view. I can enjoy relaxed, quality time with the people in my very tiny quarantine circle. I can sit quietly by myself and just be. 

At work, at the end of learning units, we have days that we refer to as pausing points. It’s a day where there’s not as much pressure to teach a specific concept. Rather, everyone relaxes a bit and reviews what they have been learning together as a class. In a way, it feels as though life has given us a giant pausing point. Time to think, time to breath, time to reconnect, time to be present without so many distractions. It’s not something any of us were expecting or something we ever wanted in quite this way but we can do our best to navigate these moments with grace, kindness, compassion, gratitude and courage. 

“Take some time to laugh … play … stumble … and fall. When you can harness the opportunity within the challenge and the perfection within the mistake, you have tapped into a creative flow that brings about inspiration, humor, and grace.”

– A. Kubitsky

Reframe It

I appreciate structure, I feel at my best when I have a plan and know what is going on. But that’s not life. I am reminded on a an almost daily basis that despite best effort, there are no guaranteed outcomes.

Life has a way of stretching me past my comfort zones pretty consistently. Sometimes I handle this well and just “roll with the punches,” still other times, sudden and unexpected change throws me into an emotional tail spin.

I firmly believe in the power of positive thinking. I read an article recently on the concept of Reframing. Reframing is a way of looking at events, ideas, concepts and emotions that could be viewed negatively and instead changing the perspective to a positive one. Finding the good. “Positive thoughts give rise to happy, contented emotions and negative thoughts result in sad and depressive emotion. These emotions than affect biological changes in the body. Basically, the quality of our thinking affects the emotions we experience  and the state of our physical health”

When circumstances do not go the way that we hoped, intended, or wanted them to, it is easy to slip into a negative headspace. But what is the benefit of that? Sometimes we get so caught up in what “should” have happened that we miss the real meaning of what actually did happen in all of the chaos, beauty and pain. All of our experiences in life hold value, even those that make our heart hurt when we think of them. “Regardless of what’s going on in our lives, we can always ‘reframe’ our situation. So – no matter how bad everything appears to be, we always have the choice to make ourselves feel better by changing the way we view our problems or situations.” There are no guarantees in life. For someone, such as myself, who likes structure and order this often creates a sense of anxiety and stress. However, I believe that there is a strong coorelation between the ability to reframe your thinking and a heart of gratitude and forgiveness. When I find reasons to be grateful for the good in any situation, I am then able to deal with the negative aspects of the situation in a healthier way.

“True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”
― Oprah Winfrey

We have to make a concious decision to choose happiness and find the good. We have to actively choose to reframe our world view. We have to make the choice. Our quality of life depends upon it.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”
― Seneca

 

Pause … Step Back … Breathe …

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Pause … Step Back … Breathe …

I am by nature, a very sensitive person; I care deeply, I feel deeply, I love deeply. However, I have a hard time staying calm and composed in the face of disappointment and difficulty. Right next to my sensitive side stands my Type A side – so basically, I am a sensitive control freak. Lovely … I know.

I am intense. very intense but this doesn’t always serve me well. In fact, sometimes I end up tripping over myself because I don’t take the time to step back, calm down, and assess the situation for what it really is. Instead, I am quick to jump to conclusions and assume things that are not true and you all know what they say about assuming …

A good friend recently challenged me to focus on taking the high road in emotionally charged situations. This has been a huge mental shift for me – it is not about making my point, it is not about being right, it is not about controlling outcomes, instead, it is about doing what is right even when it hurts. Right doesn’t always mean it is going to feel right for me or that I am going to like it in the moment. Sometimes I have to do what is right for someone else.

It is easy to remain calm when all is well and things feel certain. It is far more difficult to stay calm and composed when you are facing challenge and uncertainty; but, that is when you need it the most. Every day, we are faced with challenges we can not control.  The only thing that we have control over is our reaction.

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It is not easy, I am still learning, I still fail, but my hope is that over time,

I will learn to Let Go and Trust the Process.

I hope that soon it will become second nature for me to,

Pause … Step Back … Breathe.

And to move forward from a place of Peace rather than a place of fear …

Love & Peace to you! 

xo

Leah

If It Doesn’t Scream “LOVE!”

My beliefs have always been something deeply personal to me. I find them hard to express to those who “believe” and to those who don’t; because they are my own, not shaped by a specific affiliation, they can be misunderstood or disregarded. I think more often than not, when you believe in something deeply, passionately, and unreservedly it can be daunting to others who either do not believe or whose own beliefs are challenged by yours. As for me, personally, I am not threatened by what others may or may not believe, this is my walk and only I need to be at peace with my path. The journey here has been a long one, one filled with many questions and doubts. I have experienced a shift in beliefs more than once and have found continued enlightenment along the way as I have opened my heart fully to listen and learn.

One of the main things that I have come to understand is this, if you are scared to open your mind to a change in your beliefs than your beliefs are not that solid. Fear is the greatest inhibitor of growth. I determined some time ago to open my mind to the possibility of change – I wanted to be able to stand solid in my core beliefs while still allowing myself to see things from another point of view. I am not scared of changing the way I think; I am well aware that I am not an expert and that I don’t know everything. I want growth, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and that requires facing down the fear of the unknown even if it rocks me to my core.

I recently stumbled across a blog by Micah Murray, Redemption Pictures, and his writings have resonated with me deeply. He writes the raw, the real, and with great thought and depth. I have been inspired, encouraged, and comforted by his words. Lately, I have found that I am feeling the need to stop censoring myself when it comes to what I really believe and how I really feel. Micah touches on this in one of his entries:

“I’m done with writing from the heart and then hitting backspace until it feels safe again. I’m not going to sit here and talk like I’ve arrived, like I don’t feel completely lost sometimes, like every day isn’t a journey. But I’m stumbling in the direction of God, I think. I hope.”

That is my hope as well, that I am stumbling in the right direction. I have always followed Love. At the core of everything that I believe, if it doesn’t scream “LOVE!,” then it is not something that I can accept or follow. So today and everyday, my path will be guided by Love and Acceptance. All are welcome, all are cherished – we all belong.

I believe in the God of love & light

In the One who surrounds and engulfs and envelopes you as a whole

A whole being, just as you are

Just as you were made

In an unending Ocean of Love

Where drowning is the ultimate end

And the place where a heart can truly begin

Oh the vastness, the greatness, the richness of this Love

That not one can comprehend, prevent, or box in

It is beyond a wildest dream, it is as tender as the hearts deepest wish

Why are you afraid?

You have been led to believe it can’t be this good

You have been told it never could

Cover you

Yet there it is, this Love

In the deepest parts of you

Hidden and obscured by lies and abuse, yet unchanged

Unchanged, unending, unfathomable, yet completely yours

This God of pure Love

Sets you free to let go, to give in,

To enter the safest place you’ll ever know

The Depths of Love

Let Go of Fear, Breathe in the Love

xo

Leah

The Happiness Choice

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Some one commented to me the other night that I laugh a lot, I agreed. I love to laugh and I don’t hold back. When it comes to happiness, I am all in. I have learned though that I choose happiness, it’s a decision I make every day to focus on the good and let go of the negative. In the moments when life is kicking you down and your emotions are in overdrive, that’s when you have to focus your mind, breathe, and let go. There are so many reason to be happy, to be grateful, and to find beauty all around you. I am not going to pretend that I don’t have moments where I am shaken to the core and feel like collapsing on the floor; however, it is in those moments that I let myself have a good internal scream or “phone a friend” but then I move on. Life is meant for living fully alive and yes, sometimes that is going to be extremely, gut wrenchingly painful, but the emotions will pass and the season will change. I’d rather ride out the waves with a smile on my face then to let myself drowned in self pity and fear. Happiness is choice I make every day to control my emotions, let go of the things I can not change, and trust the process.

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Choosing Happiness is liberating! When you realize you determine your own happiness, you are set free to live a life of joy that is not determined by anyone but yourself. People change, circumstances change, and nothing goes according to plan but that doesn’t mean you have to give in and give up. Maybe the path of brokenness you are on is leading you to more happiness than you ever dreamed possible. We like to plan life in a nice, neat, and straight line and when it zig zags off the mental map that we have created it tends to send us into a panic. Take a moment, let yourself panic, but don’t stay there! Pause, and find a place of happiness in the midst of the mental chaos. Choose to fight for your own happiness, whatever that may be.

  • Find things that promote your happiness
  • Lose the negativity
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Take pleasure in the simple moments
  • Breathe out toxic emotions
  • Let go

“I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

XO,

Leah

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The Next Chapter Begins

It was a wonderful Summer. Madi and I spent days and days by the Ocean with friends and family. We soaked up the Sun, we had lots of Ice Coffee/Juice, Donuts, and Ice Cream. I personally have so many great memories of back decks and beers/Sangria. Summer 2013 officially rocked!

Now here we are in September. I was apprehensive but excited at the same time as we approached this new chapter in our life and stepped off into a great unknown – Full time work for me and back to school for Madison. We have had a great ride Miss Madi and I; full of ups and downs for sure but full of so much more love and joy than I could have possibly imagined before I had my little beauty.

The first day …  

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And we didn’t cry a single tear    … talk about Growth!! We both had a wonderful day and we were both excited about our new adventure and we both wanted to go back the next day.

Life is full of seemingly small, but rather large Miracles.

We also thought it would be fun to take pictures of each other, I’m rather impressed by her camera skills but then again, she hasn’t met a touch screen she doesn’t know how to handle!

And so here we are our second week in and now I have school to add to my schedule and today at one point I started to feel like maybe I overestimated my ability to take on so much all at once and then I realized that I have to live what I preach – It’s All About Your Attitude!

ImageThe challenges are always great, but “If we are growing, we are always going to be outside our comfort zone.” * I was exhausted during class, but I made it and then I did one of my favorite things, blasted my music, windows rolled down, and enjoyed the beautiful night drive. I came home energized and feeling alive! Life is Good, your life is good too,  you just have to realize it, embrace it, and live alive.

And breath in the quiet moments that are ours to enjoy like I did on my short lunch break in the Woods … Embrace the Moment, Live Alive.

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 “She didn’t Talk About It, She did It!”

Wishing You Love, Peace, & Joy Always,

Leah 🙂

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*John Maxwell