The Road to Wholeness is Bumpy.

The Road to Wholeness is Bumpy.

I’m Too Busy For This   

 

We live in a busy world that values busy culture. I’m busy. You’re busy. Every day I think of all the things I should be doing, could be doing, and not to mention all the things I forgot to do. My dive into “busyness” really took a turn when I became a mother. By the time this happened for me, I was well into my career. I knew I wanted to continue on this path so going back to work right away was a no-brainer for me. But I quickly found out that as much as I could balance my life on paper, it was much harder to actually do it. A statistic I recently saw said being a mother is the equivalent of 2.5 full-time jobs. So I have this BIG job, plus my career, and now… I’m left with no time or energy for me. My life went on like this for a while and, to no surprise, I lost sight of what it is that makes me happy. Of course my children and family make me happy. What I am talking about are the parts of myself that make up my personhood or my whole self. In the last year, I have made intentional efforts to understand my wholeness (or lack of it). It seems like a simple concept, and really it is, however, the crux of wholeness can be hard to fully understand. In my world, wholeness is comprised of my emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and occupational wellbeing. I am still searching for and learning about my whole self. Here are some things I have realized along the way. 

 

I’m not the same person I used to be.

 

When my “new normal” life as a working-mother felt manageable, I started to incorporate some of the things I used to love to do. Some of my old hobbies and habits like reading and discovering new music came right back and that was cool. Some of the things I used to love didn’t make sense for me anymore like leisurely drinks with friends after work or lofty craft projects. It took me a while to understand why certain things didn’t give me the same visceral response that they used to. It’s because I am not who I was. At first, I felt sadness, like I lost a part of me in the transition. However, I did not lose these parts of myself; I chose to leave them behind when I made major, life-changing decisions. I turned the chapter on my life and my inner person evolved. When I look back on the former version of myself with a grateful heart now  I see youth and ambition and I love that woman. I also love whoever it is that I am meant to become in the rest of this story and look forward to discovering what new hobbies make her happy. 

 

I’ve got time for calm.

 

Someone wise once told me that we all have the same amount of time, and it’s what we do with it that matters. This statement has become so important on my quest toward my whole self. I am a person that loves ideas. I have so many good ones, and I want to do them all. The new version of me needs TIME to be CALM. I need to carve out time where I can process my “busy” life. I need time to check-in with myself and make sure I am taking deep breaths. I need time to sleep. I never knew before how much I needed time to be still and calm. This means I have to say “No” to so many great ideas and plans. I do experience FOMO (fear of missing out) sometimes. But I am actually living in my JOMO (joy of missing out) and it turns out it makes me really happy. 

 

One moment does not define me. 

 

One thing you hear in mindfulness practice is to approach situations with a “beginner’s mind.” We actually say this at the Butterfly House on a weekly basis (it’s one of our core values!)  but it wasn’t until I saw it in my own life that it became clear to me. In the wake of my new role as a mother I also lost my job. I was certain that everyone could see the failure in my eyes. I actually believed I was a failure. This false perception of reality made me recoil from all the things that brought me joy because I believed I didn’t deserve to be happy.  This is where the beginner’s mind comes into play. Beginner’s mind is an approach to something as if you have no prior knowledge of it. In beginner’s mind, you have no existing bias towards the situation. When I look at my whole life with beginner’s mind I see that I am actually pretty great. This one moment in my story doesn’t define me. I’ve taken risks, and I am resilient. I am capable and I am evolving. Sometimes you have to step back and observe, without judgment or bias, to see the real picture clearly. I do deserve to be happy. Just because I have failed at something does not make me a failure.

 

It’s a bumpy and beautiful road

 

My path to wholeness is a bumpy road. It’s also beautiful. Even though I am nowhere near a perfectly balanced life, it feels good to just be aware that my whole self is alive and well.  Some days I spend a little more time on my emotional self. Some days I really dig into my spiritual self. Some days I just give my efforts to the part of my life that needs it the most at that moment. I make an effort to find time to reflect on my life, and I use a beginner’s mind to not cast (as much) judgment on myself. I found this easy exercise to help me gauge where I am in each area of my whole self (I’ve linked this exercise below so you can do it, too). During this exercise, you rank each area (emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and occupational) on a scale of 1 to 5 depending on how much joy you perceive. Once you’re done, a circle is formed that represents your wholeness. This exercise can help you find an area you want to focus on and make a start. Just know that your circle may never be perfectly round. Your circle, like mine, is probably a little lumpy…and that’s ok. 

Whole Self Circle Exercise

The Unexamined Life

The Unexamined Life

 

The Unexamined Life

Many people talk about life as being in balance or, more commonly,  “out of balance”, and yet, I’m curious, how many of those same people have defined what balance is, or means, to them?  Have you? Are you happy, fulfilled, “living your best life?” Would you consider yourself successful, or “living a life of purpose?”  These are very popular questions in an age where more people than ever before have food, shelter, time, and money; enough of each to consider the finer points and purpose of life. And, whether acknowledged or not, the answers to these questions are likely fueling your goals and resolutions for 2020.   So, before you dive into creating your goals, resolutions, and intentions for the new year, I hope you will consider the following things I’ve learned about happiness, fulfillment, success, life purpose, and balance (aka “these states of being”).

  • These states of being are all subjective.  They are based on personal desires, interests, expectations, habits, beliefs, and each individual’s unique way of experiencing the world.  You may think this is obvious, and yet it is easy to forget this very important point when reading and learning from experts who are charismatic, articulate, and learned.  Always “check it at the door” as I say to my clients and students. Check everything the experts tell you (and I tell you) with your own heart and gut. You’ll know when a particular piece of advice is right for you by how you feel when you begin to incorporate it into your life.  If it doesn’t increase your joy or contribute to your sense of purpose, it probably isn’t right for you.

 

  • “Everyone walks their own Camino.”  This is a phrase spoken over and over again while hiking the Camino de Santiago; a 400 plus mile hike that my husband and I walked from France through Spain to Santiago de Compostela.  Another way of putting this is, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” a well-known quote by Teddy Roosevelt. Your best life can’t and won’t look like anyone else’s best life. In fact, your best life today is different than your best life yesterday and tomorrow. 

 

  • These states of being are dependent on whatever is happening in your world at any given moment. Your ability to manage the things life throws at you will change based on factors you CAN CONTROL (nutrition, exercise, sleep, mindset, self-talk, how you treat others, and your choices) and things you CAN’T CONTROL (past, future, weather, change, other people’s minds, other people’s happiness, and traffic).  One of the keys to finding joy and fulfillment is to invest your energy and time on things you can influence; make the effort to control the things you CAN CONTROL and let go of the things you can’t.  

 

  • I’m a big fan of the Peter Drucker quote, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” If you have never defined what a fulfilled, happy, successful, and balanced life is to you, how do you know how to navigate and when to recalibrate?  Use tools like vision boarding and Wheel of Life to create personal understanding and support you in living your best life. 

 

  • Gratitude!  Really, appreciate it, all of it – even the yucky stuff!  This is the essence of life. 

Socrates or Plato (both are credited) said, “The unexamined life is not worth living?”  I disagree. I do believe, however, that the examined life 1) makes it possible to understand your unique self, 2) provides you with information you need to set fulfilling and purposeful goals, 3) allows for compassion when life gets tough, 4) offers structure in order to recalibrate and learn, and 5) encourages gratitude and a joyful approach to everything life offers you.    One morning when I encountered an acquaintance on the street, I said, “Isn’t this a beautiful day to be alive?” His answer still resonates with me, “every day I wake up is a beautiful day to be alive.”  Welcome to one more beautiful day friends!!!   Sending you love and a great big new years hug!   Annamarie

Living Beyond the Blocks

Living Beyond the Blocks

The age-old question of– “If you could go back in time what would you do differently?” has been asked by so many people.  I’ve asked myself this question many times and others have asked me more times than I can remember. I have replied that, if given the chance, I would definitely change many things. But why did I say this?  Why would I want to go back and change anything? This response says to others and myself, “Boy, I really screwed that up” or “I’m so embarrassed that I keep making the same mistakes over and over” or “What the hell is wrong with me?” 

These thoughts and feelings have plagued me the majority of my life. It’s amazing how our mind comes up with a need to defend why we did or didn’t do something. When we feel compelled to justify something, maybe it’s a decision to stay in an unhealthy relationship, that very need to justify the decision is the body’s way of letting us know it time to release it from our life.  To start anew.  How free would it feel if we could just accept what we’ve “screwed up” in our past? Or not knowing how something will go or what our next step will be and saying, “I love that!”. In this instance, freedom comes from knowing we always have that choice. 

We have two voices that can tell us the next step…the first comes from the body.  Your body says to make a change and release what you’re holding onto, but the mind starts to freak out.  It goes to what we will be giving up or losing because it can’t see what we’ll be gaining. The mind can only see one step ahead and it wants to keep us safe.  So, the body says, “I want to explore Arizona to live.” “I really want to start my own business.” “I want to leave this relationship.” Whatever the inspired feeling is, it is a preview, but the feeling can’t tell you why you should go or what that journey will look like because you haven’t done it.  Learn to love and trust the space of the unknown. Instead, what if you were to say, “I want to explore Arizona to live and grow my business, and I have no clue what that looks like…and I love that!!” or “I can’t take the abuse in this marriage anymore. I really don’t know where I’m going to live or how I’m going to make it on my own…and I love that!!” There’s something in our body calling us to do this – it’s our first voice, our true voice.  But we’ve been conditioned to ignore this voice and listen to the voice in our head, which then causes us to lower ourselves to the mind’s understanding. Every time I listen to my mind I feel confused, disconnected, and overwhelmed. We are not designed to make decisions from our minds because that comes from a limited capacity. Our true potential and capacity lie within the body, and the body never lies.   

Being okay with where we really are creates a new story.  The real story. We have to see and know that we are enough or we’ll always be coming from a place that is lacking. In this place, we may believe we need to be fixed or try to fix everyone or everything around us.  In my life, I felt like I wasn’t enough. I felt guilty and embarrassed for the choices I had made. In my heart I can understand at a true level why I did, but what caused my pain was wanting those around me to understand why.  We are taught that happiness, love, and approval comes from outside ourselves, and so the journey of constantly chasing our tails in hopes of finding the perfect job, the perfect mate, the perfect blah-blah-blah becomes our false reality.  It’s really hard to have clarity when we’re always looking through a distorted lens. Living from a limited perspective creates hidden blockers. No wonder we’re always wishing we could go back in time for a do-over.   

Could you be telling a different story?  Are you carrying your past with you and making decisions from that past instead of from the here and now?  How have you viewed yourself, and are you afraid of what you’ll be losing? Making decisions that you think are in the here and now but are really based on how you view yourself will show up in how things are flowing in your life.  Do you feel alive and performing at your highest level or do feel overwhelmed and frustrated? If you’re feeling the latter that is an indication you’re living and making decisions from your head.  

Be open to being you and creating something new.  Loving the space of the unknown is where the magic happens, and that’s where the byproduct of you living in your highest self resides.  In remembering the body never lies you’ll listen and trust it. Living life beyond the blocks you will perform, excel, achieve, and actualize the life of your dreams.  So, would I ever go back in time and change anything?  Absolutely not, because now is all I have. To go back would be creating a false story attached to some illusionary expectations that were never real to begin with.  I’m right where I want to be and I’m right on time.  

Oh, one more thing…I’m totally free to screw anything and everything up, AND I LOVE THAT!! 

Showing Up – The Courage to Leave your Mark on the World

Showing Up – The Courage to Leave your Mark on the World

What is the courage to live a vital life? What do these words really mean? The phrase sounds good, so what do you really have to do to live a vital life?  I googled the phrase, and the words, and began to write. I do not consider myself to be courageous but I do try to live a life that is, well, vital.

I am blessed in many ways; my health, my family, my job, and the people I know and love. I try my best to make people feel special and validated. Sometimes I miss the mark, but I keep trying. In general, I think I have a positive outlook on life. I want to make life the best it can be, not only for myself but also for the people who share the world with me.

In regard to the courage to live a vital life, I found a quote by Brene Brown who defined courage as follows: “The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. (Coronary).  In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all in one’s heart.”  Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds.”

After researching courage, I looked up the word vital. It is defined by Dictionary.com as something that is absolutely essential or necessary to sustain life. If you connect these two definitions, we can conclude that speaking one’s mind by telling all that is in your heart (a.k.a. courage) is essential to living a vital life.

Telling all that is in your heart requires you to be yourself and express it in how you live. You must exercise courage in order to live up to your full potential and leave your mark on the world.  Further, we have to have courage in order to take advantage of the opportunities that life offers.

Opportunities… how do you take advantage of them?  I have found you must grab a hold of the reins of your life. Do not let someone else direct you. Go somewhere new, take a class, try to meet new people, and do new things. Do something different. Surround yourself with the best people you know.

In short, the courage to live a vital life is to explore, love, cry, and laugh with everything you have inside you.

Travel Light

Travel Light

Travel Light. These words are the signature to my correspondence whether it is a blog, email or a letter. People often ask if I offer tips for how to pack luggage lightly when preparing for a trip after seeing these two words. That can definitely be one interpretation, but not my intention.

While on the road traveling for work over a five-year period, I am grateful to say that I have explored my fair share of cities. There were periods that I was in the same place for a few months, sometimes only a week and more commonly a day. With this active travel schedule and long work days, I thought I would create a blog so I could share photos and stories with friends and family while on the road. I decided on BohemianBabeTravels.com as the name of the site. Bohemian because it seemed to be the perfect fit for my unconventional lifestyle and Babe as a reminder to always find something to be in awe of in the world around me.

When I set out on the road to organize events, I had two storage units and more household type items at a friend’s place where I would stay when coming home for a quick family visit and to swap out luggage before hitting the road again. I had enough stuff to comfortably furnish a three-bedroom house at this time. While living as a road warrior, I came to appreciate and be content with the two suitcases of belongings I had. It was an adjustment but taught me how to live in a more simplistic way.

While managing an event, I met a nine-year girl who began asking me a ton of questions like curious children often do. After talking for a few minutes and attempting to understand my current lifestyle, she asked, “You mean you don’t go home every night? Where is all of your stuff? What do you miss the most?” As basic as these questions might have sounded, it stopped me in my tracks and I paused before answering. This child was referring to a material object and I couldn’t think of one thing that I actually missed. Not one. At that moment I couldn’t actually even think of one thing I owned that was back at my home base. The list I missed that popped into my head was game night with my family, holding my puppies, going out with friends, celebrating birthdays, holidays, life events together, and seeing faces, hearing laughter and sharing simple moments with those I loved. I came to realize that although I had accumulated all of this “stuff’, none of it held meaning for me nor made me happy. Creating memories with my tribe is what I missed the most, not material belongings.

Through my travels, I met a lot of different folks. I am the person that others refer to as, “that girl has never met a stranger.” I will pretty much talk to anyone. It is my babe view on the world; my lust to learn, and knowing that everyone has a story to share. Some of the most prolific moments in my life came through “random” encounters with “strangers.” I learned more in these times than any formal classroom could have ever taught me. There is much to gain in practicing presence and simply listening. I am grateful for the chance to have connected with people from all walks of life and the things I learned along the way. The stories people shared, the advice they gave, the dreams they aspired to achieve, and the hardships life presented them with were all pivotal in shaping the person I am today and essential in preparing me for the road that lay ahead. 

The buzz phrase today is “being present.” This can often be hard to achieve when we go through the motions of our routines. We get comfortable in doing what we know and less willing to adventure outside of that safety zone. Even if people are unhappy, they will at times choose to stay where they are just because it is familiar. This is fine, but it can lead to getting stuck. When we aren’t moving forward, we become stagnant and cease to grow. It is easy to say “break out of the routine, hit the road, and discover yourself.” Please know while this is a dream for most, it is also not always practical and not at all what I’m saying. I would like to invite others to recognize the world – with those babe like eyes and get your bohemian on – by choosing a different approach to your routine. Break out of that comfort zone and allow yourself to view the world through a new lens. Perhaps it is something as simple as going boho by taking an alternate route to work that day, or being a babe by walking outside during your lunch break to establish a connection, whether it is within a flower, a cloud in the sky or even someone passing. Recognize the essence and beauty of its being. Traveling light doesn’t require a trip anywhere except within yourself. Let go of the stuff that doesn’t serve you. When you choose to hold onto it, it is really holding onto you. Let go and grow. Just breathe and be. This is the discovery of something awe striking when you align with your own divine light.

The Travel Bug: Exploring The Self

The Travel Bug: Exploring The Self

While thinking about writing this blog, I started looking back to the many opportunities I have had to travel over the years. I have been to 6 countries and all but a few states.

I didn’t grow up traveling. My dad was a truck driver and the last thing he wanted to do was go for a “Sunday” drive with mom and 5 kids piled into our small car! Vacations at my house were when dad and mom went away for a week and we stayed home with a babysitter.

My first bus trip was on my Senior class trip to NYC.  I had never stayed in a hotel or seen so many different people from all over the world. I loved the lights and excitement of the bustling city. As an impressionable 18-year-old, that was my first peek at the world and I was hooked!

In general, my approach to life has been to be prepared, ie. fix things when they break, get things checked before they breakdown, make sure I have the right equipment for the weather (snow shovel, blankets), etc. When planning to travel, I want the appropriate shoes, gear, clothes, maps and always several flashlights. I become motivated to train to get into shape and stay healthy. That being said, I am now more flexible and accepting when things don’t go as planned.

In 2017, I had the opportunity to backpack across Spain on a 1,000-year-old pilgrimage trail called the El Camino de Santiago. My friend Anne had been wanting to do this walk for a few years, so she asked me to go with her. When sharing the possibility of walking the El Camino, a friend told me that although opportunities to travel may come up, most people do not take them. I realized that I have often “jumped right in” when I got the chance, even though I am NOT a brave person and I didn’t always realize all that would be involved. My trips have been hard sometimes, but amazing!

What I have learned from my travels so far, is how these trips change me. When I return home and am looking at pictures and sharing my experiences with others, I realize how much I have accomplished and how much I have grown spiritually. I have been able to meet new people, extend myself mentally and physically, and definitely function out of my comfort zone! I know that I can live out of my backpack, carrying 18 pounds for a month, do better when I don’t have expectations, can live in the moment, and that we humans are more alike than different.

So, when you travel are you your same self, someone else, or your real self? We certainly can see ourselves in a different way when meeting new people, in new settings, or even when traveling with people we know.  

HAPPY TRAILS!   BUEN CAMINO! BON VOYAGE!

Align Your Inbox!Sign up for great content to feed your mind, body & soul.

Look forward to receiving the ALIGN Newsletter published monthly!  We'll keep you up to date with the latest events, classes, and happenings at Mind Body Align.