Tag Archives: anxiety

The Power of Letting Go

Since I moved to Massachusetts I have been complaining about how difficult it is to figure out how to be “legal” about things like my business and my car registration. In particular my car registration.

The day after I first arrived, I received a phone call from my insurance company telling me about all the hoops I would need to jump through to get my car registered. And, within 20 days of my move. Since I am someone who has had a long-standing fear of getting in trouble (even though I am typically a goody-two-shoes), this created some anxiety for me.

Over the next several weeks and multiple calls to the insurance company, emails from the insurance company, calls to the leasing company, an in-person visit to the state licensing agency (only to be told “we don’t do that here”) and finally a call to the state titling agency, I was completely and totally confused, and no closer to getting my car registered and licensed.

During the call to the state titling agency, at which time they told me that I had to get the car title and bring it in person – while the leasing company told me they would only send it to the state agency – I finally gave up. I surrendered. Since this whole process seemed impossible anyway, what else could I do? I said to the representative on the phone, “Fine, then I just won’t register it.” And that was what I decided.

I made one finally call to my insurance company, and they said they would try again to get the title from the leasing company, but that it would take 30 days. Whatever. I wasn’t going to put any more energy into figuring this out, or worrying about the consequences of not registering my car in Massachusetts.

Three days later I received a letter in the mail from the leasing company telling me they had sent the title to the insurance company. Three days! Not 30 days, not never. Three days! After five weeks of fear, anxiety, frustration and anger, all it took was to say “I give up.”

I realized that my anxious energy was holding this entire process hostage. As soon as I surrendered, the process could flow and complete itself.

The reality is that all my fear and worry could not control what was happening, so why not let go and surrender to whatever unfolds?

Now, I didn’t surrender in order to try and control the process (i.e. “if I let go then this will all work out”); that would actually not be surrender at all, but manipulation. True surrender is letting go of attachment to the outcome, and that is exactly what I did. If everything worked out and my car got registered, great! If my car never got registered, great! I reached a point where it didn’t matter to me.

This is the key to inner peace, letting go of attachment to the outcome.

What are you holding on to that would be better served by letting go?

Taking a Leap of Faith – and the Accompanying Terror

I awoke early this morning and was filled with terror. My mind began running rampant, cataloging all the things I had to be fearful about. At the top of the list, as always, was not having enough money.

I recently took a leap of faith and moved across the country from Seattle to Salisbury, Massachusetts. I didn’t know what I would do for work, but had been fortunate enough for two part-time opportunities (one with my Seattle employer) to present themselves. In the 10 days since I’ve been in my new home I have been overwhelmed with trying to make sure that I am working enough to make as much money as I was making full-time. Yesterday, both jobs had less work for me to do, and I became fearful about the future prospects with each of them.

When I awoke this morning, I panicked. My mind was whirling with figuring out what I could do to get some more work / money, either with these two opportunities, or in some other way.

I cried for about 5 minutes, and cried out to God to help me. I had a few big yawns (a sign for me that energy is moving) and fell into a deep dream-filled sleep for an hour.

When I next awoke, I was conscious of a change in perspective. I have taken leaps of faith in the past: starting my private counseling practice during a recession, choosing to stop doing work that didn’t resonate with me, choosing not to work for several years to focus on my internal growth, and too many more to mention here. And, it has always worked out for me.

Not always in the way I would have said I wanted in the beginning, or in a way I could have predicted. But it has always worked out for my benefit.

So, with that foundation, I thought about how holding on to the past with my current jobs may be preventing me from moving into my future.

It is terrifying to consider letting go of the only source(s) of income that I currently have. And, the truth is, I’ve known for some time that neither of these jobs is in my future. I need to let go of the idea that this is how I will make my living in the future in order to open the door for other possibilities to show up. And I’m scared.

A few days ago I was shuffling Tarot cards to do a 3-card spread for myself. The Fool literally leapt out of the deck and fell into my lap. A coincidence? I think not. The Fool is about new beginnings and letting go of the past. He also represents bringing a child-like innocence to the unlimited possibilities of the Universe.

I keep coming back to the letting go of the past part. I am still hanging on to certain aspects of the past, not just with my jobs. I see that it is my work now to cut those cords so that I can be free to move forward.

This is not an easy task, but I know it is the right path.

Wish me luck, and I will keep you posted!

I Know Why

I now know why I was called back to this blog, albeit in a very roundabout way.

One of the people who began following my blog last week blogs about A Course of Love. I had never heard of A Course of Love, and I believe I was meant to find it at this time in my life.

A Course of Love (ACOL) is a channeled book that is (supposedly) a follow-on to A Course in Miracles (ACIM). I don’t really care if it really was channeled, if Jesus is or isn’t the author, if it is intended as a supplement to ACIM or not.

These are all the controversies surrounding it, that have no meaning to me. All I care about is does it resonate for me. I have already gotten my money’s worth from the $7.99 Kindle version in reading just a few pages.

At the end of 2011 I was introduced to ACIM, and joined a study group for a few months. But like most things during this transition period I’ve been in over the past several years, it served me briefly, and then I was ready to move on. Frankly, ACIM never really felt right for me. I’m not saying it doesn’t have value; I know for many people it is literally a God-send.

But I’ve learned over time that not everything is a fit for me. Additionally, I may not be ready for something I’m introduced to, or I may already have surpassed that lesson. So I’ve gotten really good at being able to say, yes, this thing has value, and it’s not for me right now. Along with that, I’ve gotten really good at recognizing when something is for me, and diving in.

So, back to why I was supposed to find ACOL right now.

As I blogged about last week, I am in a period of huge change right now. Many of us are, as is the earth itself. And, it can feel quite uncomfortable. I have been in a bit of a tizzy for the past couple of weeks, feeling ungrounded and unfocused. Along with that has come this intermittent feeling of fear and anxiety. And, I haven’t seemed able to make a decision to save my life, when for most of my life I have been quite decisive.

Yesterday I realized, that it would help me to have some validation around the choices I am currently making – the source of all that anxiety. I truly believe I’m on my right path, but, as I said it is pretty scary. It would be nice to have someone else say, “Yes, Laura, keep going.”

I decided to do a session with a psychic and medium I have known for several years. I told her where I was at. She immediately told me that yes, I was headed in the right direction, and that part of the process was to develop that trust that meant I didn’t have to see beyond the next step (something I believe in and blogged about last week, but still is scary!).

I have planned a trip to New England in July, because I believe I’m being called to move there. I have had so much trouble deciding how long I should stay in each location, which has meant I haven’t booked anywhere to stay beyond the first night. I feel very uncomfortable about this. My practitioner told me this was part of my process, to trust that I will know where to go and will find the exact perfect place to stay without planning in advance.

Whoa! I’m someone who likes to know what to expect, at least when it comes to the bottom level of Maslow’s hierarchy: safety, food, shelter. Still, on some level I already knew this truth. That’s why I haven’t been able to nail anything down.

So, what does all this have to do with ACOL? Earlier in the day I received an email with a post from the blogger who writes about ACOL. When I had time to read it, the quote from ACOL was: “This resting place is indeed hallowed ground and an earned respite, a demarcation even between the old way and the new way of living. But it is not the end that is sought. No matter how peaceful this place of rest may at first seem, it will soon become stagnant and unsatisfying. Left in such a place without further instruction, you would soon return to your old ideas of heaven and see peace as a state of being for those too weary to fully live. Done with the adventures of living, you would deem yourself no longer interested in the hunt for buried treasure and see it not.”

In the past month I have become dissatisfied and bored with work, and with my life in general. I feel like I just don’t know what to do with myself. Nothing appeals to me. This quote was right-on in telling me, “Okay, your rest is over, time to get moving again.” That is exactly what this move I am planning will do, get me further down the path.

After reading that passage last night, I decided to buy the Kindle version of ACOL, and downloaded it. This morning I had a few spare minutes while in a class I was taking and began to read the Foreword, which told the story of how Mari Perron received the information. In it she talked about how there was this dichotomy between the Oneness she felt when she was engaged with Jesus receiving the material, and when she wasn’t. She would try to recreate that feeling, but couldn’t. She finally realized she was trying to recreate it with her mind, which is not where Oneness resides (my words).

Further on in the Foreword Mari says, “You are about to receive this Course. As you open your heart to it, don’t rely on your mind to recognize what you receive. When you close the book and go about your day, don’t do as I did and bring it to your mind. Hold it in your heart. Stay in love’s presence. Don’t step back into separation…Don’t think too much. Let your heart lead the way.”

In my life I have been guilty of thinking too much. Way too much.

This really resonated with my current experience. My mind has been trying to sort everything out and make order of the chaos, but it can’t. Because this isn’t about my mind and choosing something thoughtfully and rationally. It is about following my heart, and my mind doesn’t know how to do that – that isn’t my mind’s job.

So I will trust my heart. I will trust Spirit. I will trust that everything that happens is for my benefit.

Even when I’m feeling scared.

One Step at a Time

I’ve really been having a week of upheaval. There is the potential for all the basics in my life (work and home) in the next few months. I’m looking at moving across the country, and with that, through necessity, changing jobs – or at least changing what my current job is like.

On Tuesday I hit my limit with the unknown and feeling overwhelmed and, let’s face it, scared. Even though these changes are completely my own choice, and I know that I am being called to do them, it’s darn scary!

I am feeling called to move to upstate New York, and am planning a trip there in July to check it out. My goal is to make a decision by the end of July and move in August. Earlier this week I started planning my trip, and promptly became paralyzed by indecision. Which is not at all like me. I couldn’t decide whether to fly or drive. I couldn’t make myself fill out and turn in the vacation request at work. I spent hours online looking at AirBNB and driving routes and flight choices. And couldn’t decide a thing.

To top things off, there has been some drama at work in the past week that throws a wrench in the works of how I was planning my graceful exit there. Or if not a full exit, at least a transition to working remotely as a contract employee. And I was left feeling like everything in my life was up in the air and unknown.

Of course if I’m honest, that’s always true! I don’t have control over the majority of what happens in my life. But like most of us, I have carried that illusion of control with me for many years, and it feels just teensy bit (okay, a whole lot) uncomfortable when I run up against it. And I have been someone who has had an inner knowing of what I want to do and is very decisive, in general.

In the past 10 years I have made a lot of significant changes in my life, and have handled them with grace and ease. I’ve had friends remark on the courage it took to change careers, when to me it just felt like the logical next step for me. Similarly, when I sold my house a few years ago and decided to rent instead (in preparation for a move out of state or country at some unknown time in the future), friends told me how brave I was. And, once again, I knew deep in my heart that it was the right path for me, and although I had moments of sadness in leaving the home where I had raised my son, 95% of me was excited for the change.

So this feeling of being almost paralyzed by fear of the unknown is somewhat new to me.

A few things happened, and I had some reminders that helped me to regroup and calm down.

  • I let it all out. I had a couple of experiences at work that day that got me really worked up. I left work and got in my car and drove. I cried. I ranted. I swore (yes, this can sometime be helpful!). I raged. I got mad at other drivers. I yelled at my boss and co-worker. And within 15 minutes it was all out, and I felt a lot better.

My inclination is to stuff everything and not feel the yuck. But when I do that, I really can’t think straight, because there’s all that stuff in their trying to get out. I recently read a great book, Letting Go, The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins. The concepts were not new to me, but they were a great reminder that as we stuff our emotions rather than letting them flow through us, we create strife in our lives that manifests in many different ways.

So, I let go of all the anger, frustration and rage that had been building up inside me. No, it’s not all about what happened at work that day. But that situation was a catalyst to release more of what has built up over more than 50 years in this body.

  • Nothing is forever. Once I was calm, I could think straight. I remembered that no matter what decision I make, it’s not forever. If I don’t like the result, I can always make a different choice. I wasn’t going to let fear of making a mistake keep me from moving forward.
  • I only need to know the next step. Part of what was getting me so tied up in knots that I couldn’t move was not being able to know how everything will pan out.

Will my boss be agreeable to me working remotely? Will another employment option I have work out? How will I support myself? How will my cats deal with 5 days on the road when we move? Will I find a place I like to live?

As you can see, none of these questions have a thing to do with planning my trip to explore. But this is what was keeping me paralyzed. I couldn’t predict the future.

I was reminded of something profound that a friend said to me four years ago when I was in a similar state. I was planning a trip to Edinburgh with the idea of checking it out as a place I might like to live. I was going through all the same kinds of questions and getting myself pretty freaked out.

As I shared this with my wise friend, he said “You only need to know the next step.”

Well, duh! But how profound! I have used this wisdom from my friend many times in the past few years when I get myself in a tizzy over the future, and it has served me well. Thank you, Mark.

So, I got unstuck and booked my trip the next day. I still have a bit of trepidation about how the future will unfold, I suppose that’s only natural, even as I trust in Spirit to guide me. But I am no longer paralyzed and am moving forward.

Talking to Yourself Is A Sign Of Sanity, Not Insanity: Reducing Anxiety Through Power Walking

Much of my life I suffered from anxiety on a regular basis. Obviously this is not a fun (or useful) state in which to be. The good news is that I found some techniques that really helped me manage my anxiety, and they are still helpful when I do have one of those moments. One of my favorites is what I call power walking.

Have you noticed that when you feel anxious, you physically feel different? It’s not just a feeling in the sense of an emotion, but a feeling in your body. This is true of all emotions, and I would imagine that’s why they are also called feelings. For me, when I feel anxious it’s this fluttery feeling in my chest, and I feel very restless as if I couldn’t sit still if you paid me.

Since our bodies carry our emotions, it is sometimes useful to use our bodies to process those emotions. That’s part of what power walking is about. Obviously walking is using our bodies, so the first part of power walking is to start walking!

The second piece is to process your thoughts as you are walking by talking out loud. This exercise can move you through truly processing your thoughts, when sometimes just thinking your thoughts can’t.  When we speak out loud, we access a different part of our brain than when we’re just thinking, which is why this works.

This difference between thinking thoughts and speaking them is also part of why talk therapy is effective. Many times clients figure out the answers they’re looking for in the course of describing the problem to the therapist! Ooops – maybe I shouldn’t share that or I’ll be out of a job! 🙂

So, here’s how you use this very simple technique for reducing anxiety: you go outside (ideally) and start walking briskly and talking out loud. It’s that easy. If you’re worried that people will overhear you and wonder why you’re talking to yourself, use your cell phone or bluetooth as a prop. These days no one thinks anything about people talking to themselves when they see their bluetooth earpiece in place!

Your talk is a stream of consciousness. Just start with whatever thought is foremost in your mind, and see where it leads you. If it helps, you can imagine you’re talking to someone else. Describe to them what is going on for you.

You will be amazed to find that solutions to problems will come to you as you’re talking to yourself. You might find yourself considering a new perspective on something that is upsetting you. Or maybe you’ll talk yourself right into realizing that whatever you’re stressing about is really not that big of a deal.

For several years I have been taking a daily walk in the morning, and whether or not I’m feeling anxious, I talk out loud to myself. If there’s something in particular on my mind, I’ll start talking about that situation.  If I don’t have anything in particular, I’ll just start talking and see what comes out of my mouth.

In addition to reducing my anxiety this way, I have had numerous insights and inspirations while taking power walks. New ideas come to me, seemingly out of the blue. My belief is that physical activity coupled with speaking out loud gives access to a part of ourselves that isn’t always available to us when we just sit and think. I view it as an active meditation.

On the surface it may sound a little crazy to walk and talk out loud to yourself, but it is one of the things that has kept me from feeling crazy when I am anxious. Give it a try and see. I have no doubt you will be pleasantly surprised.

Say What You Need to Say: 3 Benefits of Speaking Your Truth

Walking like a one man army,
Fighting shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you'd be better off instead,
If you could only...

Say what you need to say

~John Mayer, "Say What You Need to Say"

I recently heard this John Mayer song, and it was so wonderful to understand – once again – that I am not the only person who has struggled with saying what I need to say. I spent most of my life constantly evaluating the response I might get if I said what I really wanted to say. Much of the time, fear of the other person’s possible reaction kept me silent.

Just this morning I was fighting this demon (fear of how I will be perceived by the other person) once again. I have been having my website redesigned and rebuilt. It has been a slow process. I am concerned – not for the first time in the process, and for valid reasons – that the delivery date will not be met.

When I raised this concern on a call with the project manager, he gave me platitudes and tried to spin the fact that the design phase was behind schedule. He also seemed frustrated with my ongoing nervousness about the delivery date, and asked me to “let them manage the internal process.”

In the moment, I reacted to him telling me that I was overstepping my bounds by retreating. But upon reflection I knew that I had a valid concern, and that it had not been adequately addressed.

I decided I would email the company founder about my concern, and ask for assurance that the final delivery date would be met. As I contemplated this email, I became more and more anxious. I tried to understand what I was afraid of,  and realized that I did not want to be perceived as demanding, and I was afraid that is what the founder would think of me.

Once I became clear on my fear, it was easy enough for me to realize that whether the founder (or the project manager) thinks I am too demanding or high maintenance doesn’t really matter to me.

Yes, I would prefer they think of me as cooperative and likeable, but they are there to do a job for me, and are being paid well to do so. If they decide I’m being too demanding when I hold them accountable for the contracted work, then that says more about them than it does about me.

Throughout my life I have let my fear of not being liked (which translated to being a “bad person” in my mind) keep me from saying what is true. Like the quote above, “Living with shadows in your head,” I would spend hours in my head running scenarios rather than just address the issue head-on.

Over the past year I have become clear that confronting a problem when it first arises is much better for me in the long run for the following reasons:

  1. Once the words are spoken it is over and done with. I don’t spend days, weeks, or months thinking about the situation that is bothering me. Living through the moments of fear prior to the confrontation is preferable to all the time spent not dealing with the issue.
  2. I can deal with the reality of the other person’s reaction.Much of the mental spinning that prevented me from actually saying what I needed to say, revolved around imagining how the other person would react. Of course I always imagined the worst. Now, once I say my piece, I don’t have to guess about the other person’s reaction. I am now dealing with reality rather than my imagination.
    1. Side benefit: I get evidence that people don’t always react negatively when I raise an issue. I can use this evidence in the future when I fall back into the trap of imagining a negative reaction.
  3. When I address an issue early on, I tend to be less emotional about it, which leads to communicating in a better way. When I let my resentment or worries about a particular situation fester, I tend to blow things way out of proportion. Basically, I would hold things in until I couldn’t stand it anymore, then I would explode. This obviously is not the best way to end up with a win-win solution to a conflict.

The Next Step is All You Need

Several weeks ago when I was feeling in a fog and not knowing what direction to go, I had a conversation with a friend of mine. What he told me has stuck with me since: I don’t need to know any more than what the next step is.

Frequently in the fog, we can see a few feet ahead, but not much further. When you’re driving a car and going fast, being able to only see a few feet ahead is dangerous. But if you’re on foot, being able to see a few feet ahead shows you where you will be putting your foot in your next step. It’s enough to be able to know whether or not taking the next step will be safe.

The same is true metaphorically. When I’m feeling in a fog, and can’t see my ultimate destination, I don’t want to be racing ahead as if I’m in a car. I want to move slowly and deliberately, as if I were on foot in a fog. All I really need to know is where to place my foot for that next step.

What triggered the fog for me most recently was the idea that I am meant to move away from Seattle. In fact, what came to me is that I am meant to move to Edinburgh, Scotland.

When I began contemplating this, I immediately became very anxious and worried. How would my mother and my son react to me moving to another country? Should I sell my house or rent it out? What about my car? And my cats – could I take them with me?

And on and on and on. Lots of things to worry about.

When my friend put out this idea of not needing to know more than the next step, I immediately relaxed. I knew that the next step was to visit Edinburgh for a prolonged period of time to see if I really did want to move there.

So I decided on a timeframe when I could spend a month in Edinburgh, and booked a flight and a room. That was my next step. Nothing else needed to be done in the meantime, because until I made the visit I didn’t even know for sure that Edinburgh would be my ultimate destination. There was no point in worrying about the logistics of moving there yet.

Over the next week after I booked my trip I still had thoughts popping up about the logistics of moving. But each time one of these thoughts came into my head – and I noticed when this happened because I would begin to feel anxious – I told myself that I didn’t need to know that yet.

I can’t tell you what a relief this was! I didn’t have to know that yet! I could choose to think about that sometime in the future when it was more appropriate.

What about you? Is there a situation in your life right now where you’re not really sure of the ultimate destination? Are you worrying about the fact that you don’t know where you’re going – or worrying about how to get to the destination that is not even clear to you yet?

If this is true for you, try this:

  1. Ask yourself where you’re trying to go.
  2. If you know your destination, ask yourself what is the next step that will lead you in that direction.
  3. If you aren’t clear on your destination (for example, wondering whether you should stay in your current career, or go back to school for a different career), ask yourself what is the next step that will help to bring clarity on your destination.
  4. Quit worry, ruminating, mulling over. You know what your next step is. You don’t need to know more yet.
  5. Feel the relief of not having to know all the answers right now!

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – 4 Techniques for Managing Anxiety about Change

Over the past several weeks I have been experiencing periods of anxiety. Anxiety is just another word for fear. I know that this anxiety is my ego, my warning system, trying to tell me that I’m venturing into unsafe territory.

A few weeks ago I suddenly had a knowing that I was supposed to move. I acknowledged out loud a feeling I’ve had for a while that I am meant to leave Seattle, at least for now. That unleashed a whole lot of discomfort and fear.

Even after I worked through the immediate fear reaction, I have continued to have moments of anxiety pop up, seemingly for no apparent reason. However, I know that it is my system adjusting to this new idea.

Whenever we are making changes in our lives, whether they are big or small, whether we think it’s a good change or a bad change, our systems get shaken up. As humans, we like to maintain equilibrium, to keep things the same. When we start to make changes, our ego – whose job it is to protect us – starts making noise.

Warning! Warning! Things are changing! We’re no longer in equilibrium. Pay attention!

Here are a few things that help me whenever this happens:

1.      I take some slow, deep breaths. When we get anxious our breathing becomes quick and shallow. This is part of the fight or flight response. By consciously changing my physical response, I can also change how I feel emotionally.

2.      I remind myself that both fear and excitement have the same chemical reaction in my body, and ask myself if I can choose to feel excited rather than anxious. Especially in my current situation, excitement is part of the equation. Yes, I have some fear about how things will all work out. But I’m also excited about this change.

3.      I don’t get attached to the anxiety. In the past, whenever I felt anxious I would search for the reason, and of course I could come up with a dozen of them. Searching for reasons I might feel anxious only perpetuates the feeling. Now I choose to notice and acknowledge the fear: “I’m feeling anxious,” but don’t get caught up in justifying that anxiety by looking for reasons to be fearful.

4.       I accept that anxiety is a by-product of making changes. It is natural and normal that when we step outside our comfort zone, that when we upset our equilibrium, our ego is going to try to get us to move back to where it is “safe.” I know that as I move through the change that I am making, this fear will eventually dissipate as I reach a new equilibrium point.

How Laura Got Her Groove Back (It’s Not What You Think)

Over the past few weeks, maybe even the past month, I have had times of feeling very anxious. In the past I frequently had boughts of anxiety, but over the past year or so that has become rare.

I felt anxiety about some specific things, in particular two decisions I had made about the direction in which I wanted to take my business. One decision was to start an Internet TV show on the Real Coaching Network platform. The other was to completely rebrand my business and have a new website built.

Both of these required somewhat large outlays of money, so I told myself that I was anxious about spending the money. Both of these decisions were made about four or five weeks ago.

As I moved forward with each of these projects, I encountered bumps in the road and sometimes roadblocks. I would have moments where I would wake up first thing in the morning overcome with anxiety which was usually related to one of these projects.

I did what I felt I could do to relieve the anxiety. Sometimes this took the form of asking a question of the provider of the service. Other times it was “talking myself down.” The anxiety continued to occur, so nothing I was doing was getting at the root of the problem.

In each case I agonized over whether I had made the right decision. I was never sure. I was full of self-doubt. I kept asking my higher self for guidance, but never seemed to receive it.

I had avoided asking for deliverable dates and sharing some of my concerns with the owner of Real Coaching Network because I was afraid of his reaction. I had several interactions with him fairly early on where he became defensive and blaming when I questioned his process or didn’t want to do something the way he wanted it done.

In one case this was about security. He wanted my login information, including passwords for all my social media accounts, and he wanted me to put them in his online project management tool. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to be overly worried about Internet security, but I do know enough not to put my passwords in writing, even on a supposedly secure site! I wasn’t keen on giving them to him at all, and I outright refused to put them somewhere online.

His reaction was to argue with me, to tell me why I had to do it that way, to tell me that no one else he worked with had a problem (are they stupid?), and to tell me that at some point I had to trust someone.

Well, let’s see. I’ve known you for about two weeks, and you are the person I am supposed to trust with all my passwords? Um, no. Anyway, that is just one example of the types of interactions I had with this person that led to me being reluctant to raise issues with him.

Separate from his belligerent attitude, I realized I wasn’t receiving many of the services from him that he was supposed to provide. I was paying a monthly fee for these services and the next month’s payment was coming up in a few days.

I sent him an email with a list of all the services I was supposed to receive and asking for a status on each of them. I also listed things that had been done incorrectly (professionalism is not his strong suit) that needed to be corrected, and asked for a response. I then waited anxiously for the eruption that I was sure I had set off.

I received a response from him a day and a half later. I was getting ready to go out of town for the weekend, and I was fearful that reading his response would lead to more anxiety, and that I would not be in a place where I could respond to him since I was going to be out of town. So I sent him a note that I would respond when I returned.

The morning of my first day back I awoke with tons of anxiety. I tried to go about my morning routine, but finally decided I had to see how he had responded. My expectation was that he would attack and blame me somehow.

I opened up the document and saw that yes, he did blame me for much of what was undone, but that he hadn’t really attacked me.  Whew.  But…aside from the tweaks to fix things he had done incorrectly, he hadn’t done any of the other things that were due, nor told me when they would be complete.

I realize this has become a very long story. To cut to the chase, I stood up to him. I canceled my subscription and asked him to refund the payment that had been made a few days earlier. I did all of this nicely and respectfully, saying that it was not a good fit for me.

He first responded by trying to cajole me, offering to have a phone call that he would come to with an “open heart.” When I said it was too late for that, then the hammer came down. “No refunds. What a bad person you are, Laura, you don’t walk your talk.”

I stood my ground. I contacted an attorney. I called Visa to dispute the charge.

And all the while I was spinning on the idea that I was wrong, I was to blame, I was bad. I realized that this man reminded me of my ex-husband, and that was why I had all the anxiety about interacting with him. His patterns of interacting with me matched my ex-husband’s. And even being aware of this I couldn’t get out of the place of self-blame.

The rest of the day was a very uncomfortable, upsetting one for me. There were moments of crying uncontrollably. Mostly I just felt sick to my stomach. I could see how I was stuck in my head, and stuck in this place of taking responsibility for something that was not my fault, but I couldn’t stop.

That evening I went to Kundalini yoga. If you’ve never tried it, please do! The last thirty minutes is a gonging session where we lay on the floor with pillow and blanket and just feel the vibrations of the gong.  These vibrations release stuck emotions and energy. At the very end of the session I heard a voice inside say, “You have every right to be angry.”

I finished the session feeling significantly better than when I had started. When I woke up the next morning I felt calm and peaceful, and spent most of the day in that state. I realized that this situation had been testing my resolve to be authentic, and to speak my truth regardless of my fears.

The following day as I woke up I saw that the feeling of being cut off from the guidance of my higher self was because I wasn’t paying attention to the guidance I was receiving. All the anxiety I had felt was guidance. Because I was afraid to confront the situation, the anxiety grew and grew, trying to tell me to pay attention.

I realized that I also needed to deal with my concerns about my website project. I sent an email off to the project manager asking to halt the project while I re-evaluated. I felt calm and at peace.

Soon after sending this email, I went for my regular morning walk.  As I approached the road that runs along a bluff above Puget Sound, I saw a single bird flying towards me. As I looked up at this bird I saw it was blue heron.

A sign of self determination, following my path, speaking my truth. I knew I was back on track. My intuition had been there all the time, waiting for me to pay attention, and now I had.

And that’s how Laura got her groove back.

Trees Need Both Sunshine and Rain – and So Do I

As I was walking in the rain this morning, I felt thankful that the rain had returned to nurture the trees and plants after more than a week of sunshine. It occurred to me that as humans, we need both sunshine and rain in our lives, too.

Many of us prefer the sunny times. When it’s sunny we just feel better. We spend a lot of time outside enjoying the sun, interacting with others and are more physically active. On the other hand, we tend to complain about the rain. We withdraw and retreat to our homes, become more sedentary and more isolated.

However, just as trees need both sunshine and rain, so do we, in a metaphorical sense. We love it when we feel happy and light – in the sunshine. And yet, without the rain, without the difficult times and sometimes painful emotions, we couldn’t grow.

As I am learning to embrace feeling my emotions, all of my emotions, this has become even more clear to me. I have hit a wall in my growth because I have been unwilling to feel certain emotions.

Part of nurturing a tree or a plant is to provide it with everything it needs, and in the right amounts at the right time. If it is sunny for too long, we have to water the tree. If it starts to grow in an undesirable direction, we prune it. We go with the flow because we can’t predict how much sun or rain there will be, or what direction the tree will grow. We observe what is happening and make decisions about what that tree needs right now to be nurtured.

The same is true of ourselves. Nurturing myself includes having fun and playing (sunshine), feeling sad or fearful when the situation warrants it (rain), noticing if I’m going off in the wrong direction and changing course (pruning). Leaving out any of these ingredients does not nurture me.

Additionally, we need to have a balance of all these ingredients that is appropriate to what’s going on for us at that moment. Just as we observe what is happening with the natural elements and make adjustments to nurture the tree, we must do the same with nurturing ourselves.

Too much sunshine and not enough rain can lead to being superficial and stunt our growth. Too much rain and not enough sunshine can lead to depression or anxiety. Pruning at the wrong time, or not pruning at all, can lead to growth in the wrong direction.

Therefore, my assignment (and yours if you choose to accept it – thank you Mission Impossible!) is to be in the moment. To pay attention to how I feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And notice if my life is going in the direction I intend. Then adjust the ingredients to get the result I prefer.