Tag Archives: connection

The Story Behind the Magic of Growing with Gratitude

I’m sitting here, sweating, because I can’t make it any cooler, but I am grateful to be in clothes that are soft and comfy, sitting on my couch that is covered in a beautiful and vibrant tapestry, and trusting that we’ll return to the regularly scheduled fall weather soon.

I’m sitting here and thinking about how much I love Growing with Gratitude. I love it for the simplicity, for the community, and for the opportunity to slow down a bit and shift how we come into a season that tends to be pretty hectic.

I’m sitting here and remembering how Growing with Gratitude came to be. Do you know this story? It’s magic.

hannah-and-xandra-riFour years ago, the sweet Mary McConnell came to visit the States and Hannah Marcotti put together a visioning night. This ended up being a gathering of women who had become close in online community, but I had not met them before in person.

This was a huge edge for me – getting on a train to go to a city I’d never been to, to spend an evening with women I had not met in person. It may have also been my first time away from Chloe, probably so.

It was a night of visioning, of laughter, of vulnerability. I cried at Ruth’s feet as she wrote the word trust on my arm.

I gave myself the next day to explore Providence and the next night alone to myself in a hotel room. Even then, I knew I needed time to ease back into ‘real life’ after events like this.

I had come to Providence knowing there was an inking of a program in my mind. I may have even known it was going to be around gratitude. What I did not expect and could never have imagined was that within 36 hours I would have all of the content done for the month-long course. All the quotes, all the prompts, all the pictures, everything in order. It felt like a divine download, truly. I don’t know that I’ve experienced anything like it since.

Each autumn while I’m still in the gentleness of the season, I know the hectic time is just around the corner, and I know it’s time to share this offering again.

And so it is. We start again, for the fourth time, in just two weeks.

You’ll see me sharing some of my favorite parts of Growing with Gratitude, some of the why behind it, over the next couple of weeks. I just wanted to share with you right now the magic that began it, and invite you to come experience the magic that gratitude can gift us, if it lights up your soul.

The Gift of Sharing Ritual

We walked from the funeral home to the church, and that’s when the tears finally started to fall. “I knew they would come at some point,” I said to my mom and my husband. I felt like we were leading a parade which felt strange, but the walk outside was nice. Fresh air always comforts me.

After the funeral mass (not one of my rituals, but one that was no doubt sacred for my grandmother), we traveled to the cemetery. My grandfather was buried here too and it is one of the most beautiful and peaceful cemeteries I’ve been to. Nestled in the mountains, the stone markers are flat and you feel like you’re in a park. The tent was set up and we made our way to the open grave.

Here comes the part where my mother introduced a tradition that she has come to hold sacred to her family, many of whom had never known of it or experienced it before this day.

I’m paraphrasing her beautiful words, but it went something like this…

“We’re going to borrow from a Jewish tradition and cover mom with earth, in a blanket of love. This is seen as one of the highest gifts that you can give to a person because it cannot be repaid. In truth, I think mom prepaid us in so many ways. If you would like to stay and help us with this, know that it will take some time for them to take the tent down, bring the earth over and be ready for us to begin.”

And, in what felt like magic, almost everyone stayed to help. We waited amidst a sea of gnats, swatting them away, taking walks, finding the graves of other relatives who will always be missed and loved, having healing conversations, and then we gathered again.

We covered my grandmother in a blanket of love, all of us taking turns with the shovels, watching the casket disappearing into the earth, and then I heard my mom’s family members come up to her and share their reactions.

“Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity.”
“I had seen this before but never participated, thank you.”

I remember when my paternal grandmother died. I was 14 and heartbroken and could not pick the shovel up, even though a cousin of mine told me it would be healing. I could not take on that ritual at the time, but I have since been guided back to it, and found much healing and comfort in it.

One way Sacred Ritual showed up for my grandma was in tending to her roses.

One way Sacred Ritual showed up for my grandma was in tending to her roses.

Sharing our sacred rituals can be scary. It is an act of vulnerability. But what a gift when we share something new that changes how someone sees and experiences the world.

There are rituals around birth and death, but there are rituals that fall between, during day-to-day life, and those have been the ones that I’ve found to be most sacred because they are daily touchstones to help ground, center, and bring me into the present moment.

My heart is full when I think of what Sacred Ritual Everyday has become, sharing of not only some of my favorite rituals, but a look into what sacred ritual means to some incredible women who I am excited to share with you.

If you are curious about expanding your definition of sacred ritual into something that feels authentically you, Sacred Ritual Everyday may be calling you in….

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Reinventing Your Relationship with Women

“She craves men but women are her most abiding lovers. Her friends are her soul mates, all the love without the consumption of sex and romance, a different kind of intimacy. Women make love by admiring each other, studying and envying each other and mixing it all up in a pot of devotion.”― G.G. Renee Hill, The Beautiful Disruption

Hannah Marcotti

I remember wanting to be part of the popular group when I was younger. That shifted one day when I realized that when one of them left the room she became the topic of conversation. I recognized then that they might have plans every weekend but they didn’t have anyone to trust when they really needed a friend. What I realize now is that they also didn’t have anyone who could see them and accept them for who they were.

Over the years, friendships have come and gone (and some have come back around), and I have learned so much about myself, friendship, and what it means to be in relationship with other women. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Friendships (like ogres and onions for all your Shrek fans) have layers.
Holding expectations of others does not usually work out well.
We grow as individuals, and sometimes that means we grow closer to others, sometimes further apart.
There is ebb and flow in relationships, as with anything else.

When we find our women, the ones with whom we can finally let down our guard and expose our vulnerability to without fear of judgment, we have the chance to give and receive such a beautiful gift. 

We have the chance to hear and be heard.
We have the chance to see and be seen.
We have the chance to explore our vulnerability instead of hide from it.
We have the chance to be open to who we were, who we are, and who we are becoming.

As we prepare ourselves for any new becoming, be it preparation for conception and pregnancy, motherhood, or as we step into the new version of ourselves that we are currently calling forth, this type of support can create such a huge different in how we allow ourselves to be seen.

In being seen by others without the cloud of judgement, we start to drop our own self judgment too.

I’ll be honest with you, for a long time I thought this type of intimate friendship was a dream that was not based in reality. I thought that women didn’t have the capacity to hold in this gentleness in the realm of friendship because I had not seen in, felt it, experienced it.

Just because you have not experienced something does not mean it does not exist. 

I want to tell you that it’s here and you can find it. As I’ve learned many times before, the finding often comes when you stop searching, striving. Sink in, sink deeply in where you find love and joy, and there will be your circle of women, finding their way to you, holding you up and being held by you in turn. It is pure love, pure magic.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Quieting the Fight Inside of You

quiet the fightWe fight ourselves so hard. We make things more complicated and more difficult than they have to be. We do this with the little things (what to eat, doing dishes and laundry) and with the big things. But it’s the fighting with all of the little things that really gets us stuck because it’s happening all the time. It’s the pattern so many of us run constantly, like music in the background that is always playing. So how do you stop it, or at least practice quieting that fight?

First, you recognize that it’s happening. This alone can create huge shifts, because this type of message from your inner critic is often so ingrained in how you function that you don’t even notice it anymore. Cues that it’s happening include negative self talk like:

“I can’t do anything right” 
“I messed up again” 
“I don’t deserve…” 
“I don’t have enough time” 
“I have other people whose needs have to come before my own”

Sometimes the cues come in your behaviors more than the self talk:

Resistance
Procrastination
Distraction

These fights can go on for so long and when they do, they start to influence who we are at sour core. Quieting the fight allows you to grow into your authentic self.

When you recognize that you are fighting yourself, you open the door to learning more about what you really want.

In this place of possibility you can ask yourself a simple question, “What do I want right now?”

The question is certainly easier to ask than answer much of the time, but the next step is asking the question and listening for an honest response.

I’ll share an example of a situation that comes up in my life because it serves as a good reminder that this is all practice and that there is not some simple quick-fix that is going to work 100% of the time.

It gets to be dinner time but I’m rushing around trying to finish things from my day. I begin to notice my hunger so I go into the kitchen to see what I have to eat. I open the fridge, and then close it deciding there’s nothing there that I want. I open the cupboard door. Same thing. I check the counter to see what’s out and none of that really appeals to me either. I’ll do this many times, sometimes taking a break to check my email as if somehow, magically, new food will appear in my kitchen and it will be exactly what I want. Each time that I go back, my hunger (and my frustration) is rising.

Many days, I’ll stop myself at some point and say to myself, “Wait. What do I really want right now?”

Sometimes the answer will be “I don’t know” and the loop of frustration will continue. Most of the time though, when I can step away from what I have and don’t have, what feels easy or difficult, I can tune into my body and discover what it is I want, whether it’s protein, salad, a refreshing smoothie or one of my easy go-to meals.

The recognizing and asking are keys to quieting the fight, but the foundation of it all is in creating ritual. 

When you create ritual within your day to day life, all of the little places start to be infused with ease instead of overwhelm. 

You create ritual in your closet by filling it only with clothing that you love. Then getting dressed each morning becomes an act of self-love, everyday.

You create ritual in your eating habits by filling your kitchen with nourishing choices, so no matter what you choose to eat, it fills you on many levels.

You create ritual around the seemingly mundane tasks and suddenly the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning up the clutter become ways to care for your environment, and by extension, yourself and your family.

Ritual does not have to mean whatever you have been taught by others that it means. Ritual is yours to create and define.

In the month of October, we will be gathering as a community to explore in the Sacred Ritual Everyday. If you join us for this journey, by the end of October, you will have taken great strides in quieting the fight within you.

Learn more and join us today.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Why Nurturing Others Starts with Nurturing You

When Sheila Pai of A Living Family asked me to participate in her Nurturing You Virtual Retreat, I was honored. I had the pleasure of coaching her for the first half of 2014 and it is so exciting to see everything that she was working towards during that time come together – her book, her retreat, and the community that she is growing with such love. She is a beautiful example of what it means to not only find but live your passion in an authentic way.

The idea behind Nurturing You is one that resonates deeply with me, and you know that if you’ve been part of this community for a while. I wrote about it here where I shared this photo that sums it up well:

Self care

We are so good at convincing ourselves that we must put others’ needs before our own, but it’s simply not true. When we do that, we’re actually doing a great disservice not only to ourselves but to those we love because we are coming into those relationships feeling drained, resentful, and with the message that we don’t deserve to be taken care of.

On September 15th, you’ll get to hear me share with Sheila’s community about Clearing Toxins (both mental and physical) and Creating Space so that you can step more fully into your dreams. This is one of many ways that you can begin to more deeply take care of yourself and your family. I am looking forward to this chance to connect with others and to be part of an incredible line up of speakers who will be sharing their wisdom about mindful self-care, what it means to them and how you can begin to incorporate it into your life.

I hope that you’ll join us!

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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On Finding Strength in Times of Loss

I have been singing this song all week. Each time I stop, I catch myself singing it again moments later. It is, to me, about balancing strength and surrender. I have found comfort in the melody, the words, and the meaning I create for myself as I experience the loss of a dear friend, guide, inspiration and mother figure to so many.

When we lose the ability to connect with a loved one on a worldly level, it is easy to feel regret. This week, I have found myself feeling like I wasted the gift of having her presence in my life by not spending more time with her, not soaking up more of her wisdom. I know she would not want me to feel regret, so instead I focus on the gratitude for what she did teach me, and for what she continues to teach me through the lives of others who she touched.

Miki, in your life and in the death of your physical body, here are a few things I’ve learned…

Raise your voice and let it be heard

Live every moment fully and with passion

Trust yourself

Surround yourself by friends in good times and bad

Listen to the Universe

Find the sacred everywhere

Know what you want, and be clear about it

Infuse life with humor

Be grateful

Know that all there is, is love

As I have been blessed to spend the last week among so many others who have learned from you Miki, I know that your lessons will continue to unfold as each day passes. I feel your energy around me, in the most miraculous ways.

May we all continue to be lifted and held by each other, and may we recognize the universal thread that binds us all together.

In loving memory and forever in gratitude,

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The Gift of Savasana

savasanaWhether we love the pose or we try to avoid it as much as we can, each pose in yoga has something special and important to offer us. I was recently at a yoga teacher training info session and when this topic came up in conversation, she assured us that it is in leaning into the poses we like least where so much growth happens.

In a recent early morning home practice, I found myself re-discovering a lesson from one of the poses that is most difficult for me – savasana, or final resting pose. I was revisiting a similar lesson that I learned many years ago (that I wrote about here). Savasana brings up a conflict for me between my expectations and my reality. This happens a lot with me, and so it is no surprise that it plays out on my mat.

In savasana, when I want my mind to be still, it starts dancing. My asana practice acts as a great distraction from thoughts as I’m so tuned into what my body is doing in the present moment and how it feels. When given the chance, my mind activates again.

Savasana, I realized on this recent morning, offers a great gift. It allows us to experience something we often forget to give ourselves – it allows us to be held.

Sometimes, amidst all the craziness that comes in and out of our lives, that’s all we really need – just a few minutes to be held.

Embrace that gift when you give it to yourself.

What’s your experience with savasana? Please share with us in the comments below.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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The Womb to World Wellness Writing Process

#mywritingprocess blog tour

I was so excited when my friend Alison Marra of True North invited me to participate in the #mywritingprocess blog tour. Alison and I met through the incredible Hannah Marcotti and are deep in exploration together in the Magic Making Circle. Alison’s writing is soul stirring and inspiring, and you can learn more about her process here.

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember (I still have stories that I wrote when I was 5), but the world of writing for others has been an interesting shift, and I’m excited to explore these questions and share my answers with you.

So here we go!

What are you working on?

This question makes me laugh because I could answer in so many ways. Concretely, these days most of my writing revolves around this space, my newsletter, and content for upcoming programs. I’ve also been doing a great deal of personal writing again recently, through morning pages and beyond, which always feels good to come home to.

The dreamy answer includes ideas for books that have been floating around in my mind for many years that have yet to come to fruition. I’d love to revisit the poetry I wrote in massive quantities when I was a teenage and either annotate it or take the best of it and polish it. That involves returning to that time in my life though, and I’m more of a forward thinker these days.

The history major in me has had plans for more than 5 years to write a book about one of my favorite places in the world, but other passions have pushed that project to the side too.

So there’s always something going on, both on paper and in my mind. 🙂

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There’s so much fear and overwhelm out there, and I try not to be part of that. I strive to come from a place of love and ease because I feel like that’s where you can really discover what works best for you. I don’t want to scare you into change – I want you to want it so much that you see no choice but empowered action.

So much in the health, wellness, self-care and baby-making world is direction based (do this, don’t do that etc) and I really don’t see my message fitting into that. I see myself as a guide for women, helping them to explore and uncover what they need most. Sure, I could fill my newsletter and blog with the top 5 foods to eat for fertility and the top 10 things to avoid when preparing to conceive, but that’s just not my style. You’ll get that information, but in a more heart-centered way. You might notice that my opt-in gift is currently 30 Tips to Boost Your Fertility, so that might seem contradictory, but that’s just the title. It’s really a beautiful little e-book filled with ideas to inspire you. So many of us like lists, but we like to find ourselves in those lists, not feel directed to what we’re “supposed” to. My hope is that my writing encourages you to discover the choices that feel like deep yeses in your soul.

I’d say just about everything that comes through my writing has come directly from my own experiences (how could it not), so it’s constantly evolving because so I am, and so is Womb to World Wellness. Just as I seek to support the women in my community with this, I am also constantly journeying towards a more empowered and authentic version of myself, and that journey shows up here.

Why do I write what I do?

This question had me at a full stop for about 24 hours. I’ve been thinking about it during that time and I don’t know that I’m any closer to being able to put it into words – funny for a writer, isn’t it? I write what I write simply because I do. There is no other choice. There is no other way. Like I mentioned in the projects that live only in my mind – I can’t write those right now because this is the writing that is bursting out of me in the present moment.

Writing to me has always been a way for me to communicate what usually lives hidden deep within us. Whether I was sharing it with anyone or not, writing has been an outlet, a friend, that I can always count on, and I see this space a bit like that sometimes.

I aim to write to the Womb to World Wellness community as if I am writing to a friend, because I believe I am. I am writing to each and every woman who holds the dream of a baby in her heart, and I am here to create sacred space for her desires to bloom and grow. So why do I write what I do? I guess it’s to open up that conversation, and to let women know that it’s a safe and important conversation to have.

How does my writing process work?

For a long time, my newsletters, which go out early Tuesday mornings, were being written late Monday night. It wasn’t that I didn’t try to write them sooner, I did. Sometimes they would be completely written and formatted days before and then bam at 10pm (almost always on the dot), I would get the idea and I’d find myself starting from scratch and staying up much later than I wanted to.

I’ve tried to train my brain to get that hit of inspiration earlier, but here’s the thing – you can’t control the inspiration. When I try to write, whether it’s a newsletter, a blog, or even just an email, it takes so long. It feels like struggle. When I release the expectation of when, I always manage to find the flow, usually just in time.

I was like this in college too. I remember in my senior year I was taking two classes with the same teacher and a few us of convinced her to let us write one longer paper combining the themes of the two classes instead of one. Capital by Marx and Colonialism. Through many discussions, with just a few days left until the papers were due, it became clear that I had one amazing paper, if I cut out the colonialism piece that I was trying to fit it. So now I needed to come up with another paper topic and get it all researched and written. She offered me an extension. I got both papers in on time, and I aced them. I guess that’s just how I roll.

It also depends on what I’m writing. A change of scenery always does me good, and this piece is a perfect example. I was getting there, but wasn’t quite in the flow until I left my house and came to a coffee shop. Sat down with my tea and the flow found me.

I think finding flow is the most important element to my writing process, and what brings me to that flow often changes, but here are some ideas that I can usually count on to get me back into the flow. May they serve as inspiration for the writer in you.

  • A hot shower
  • A change of scenery
  • Free writing (often starts with, “I have no idea what to write but I have things to write so here I am….”)
  • Visioning (I often start cutting things out of magazines and pause the visioning process because an idea strikes)
  • Writing from the heart (works every time)

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking this journey with me through a bit of my process and I hope that you’ll continue to return and see where the flow takes me in the future. I’d love to hear what you enjoyed most while reading this, so be sure to leave a comment below!

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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I am excited now to share 2 more amazing friends and writers with you so that you can learn more about their work and writing processes.

Melissa Mulligan is a vocal coach who believes in passionately creating the lives we are meant to live. She is a permission-granter of unbridled dreams and a believer in the healing power of self-expression. Melissa is the owner, lead vocal coach and head of Artist Development at MMVS: Melissa Mulligan Vocal Studio, LLC in Connecticut, NYC, California, Boston, and online. mymmvs.com Facebook : MMVS Vocal Coaching Twitter: @melmulligan Instagram: @melmulligan YouTube: MelMMVS

You can check out Melissa’s blog here, where she’ll be sharing her own process next week.

Dawn Renee Webster is a natural born decorator & organizer. She strives to ‘reclaim your space’ by providing you with some soul food to nosh on. Are there certain styles of design that you are drawn to, gorgeous meals that you want to re-create or do you yearn for tips on organizing your home life? Trust her. She is a mother of 3 and enjoys the delightful challenge of making each day more beautiful for the environment that surrounds her family. Dawn notices the details and believes in the simple things. Her talent is in repurposing what you already have within the bones of your abode and listening to the whispers of your heart. You can do this. Visit…her door is always open. You can learn more about Dawn and her writing process at www.SassafrasElements.com. Got questions for her? She loves receiving your emails at SassafrasElements@gmail.com.

What’s Holding You Back from Your Dreams?

Vantage PointAs I write this, I’m looking out my window onto a beautifully sunny day – no clouds, and the trees are beginning to bloom. We live on the 6th floor of a building, and I often joke about how this is the closest I will ever be to living in a tree house. Although there are times when I long to feel more grounded and connected to the earth than I do from the 6th floor, I am grateful for the vantage point that I have from here as well. It’s a reminder that while staying grounded is important, so is soaring towards our dreams.

In our lives, it’s really important to remember that we have the ability to view our current situation from various vantage points, and we can learn lessons from all of them.

Have you ever noticed that your energy feels different in these situations…

At night versus in the morning?

After a yoga or exercise class versus after you’ve been sitting on your couch all day?

After eating a nourishing meal versus a big bowl of ice cream?

These are all different vantage points, and they can tell you about the situation you are facing, as well as what is most supportive to you as you navigate what’s coming your way.

Recognizing how a situation looks from various vantage points is only part of the journey though – the next step is figuring out from which place inside, from which version of yourself, you want to respond.

Will it serve you to respond from a place of anger? Probably not.

Will it serve you to respond from a place of resentment? That’s not likely the best choice either.

Will it serve you to respond from a place of empathy? Possibly, but you have to be mindful of your own boundaries.

Will it serve you to respond from a place of compassion? Absolutely, especially if the compassion is for yourself.

Here’s the thing – if you’re anything like me (and most people I know), you make most of your decisions based on what others think – or might think, even if this is happening subconsciously. Sometimes this works out okay, but most of the time it leads to hurt, frustration, and a lot of negativity.

Especially when you are preparing yourself for conceiving a baby (but also when you’re conceiving anything in your life, even if it’s just your plan for tomorrow), it is so important to surround yourself and engage with positive energy. This is the energy of growth and creativity. When you focus on the negative, or you allow the negativity to seep into your life, it can stifle you. It can actually keep your dreams from growing.

When you begin to make decisions from a place of compassion and positivity, those feelings expand, and you will find yourself manifesting what you’ve most desired.

Here’s my challenge to you – find one place in your life where you know negativity is seeping in, and fill that space with something positive instead. Be part of the community by sharing an area where you are ready to release the negativity in the comments below.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Releasing Expectations So You Can Flow Instead of Struggle

release expectationsExpectations. We all have them, for ourselves and for others. Mostly, they lead to frustration, disappointment, anger and miscommunication.

When you are thinking about starting a family (or you are just dreaming of it for some time in your future), these expectations can be painful.

You have expectations about what needs to be in place, how long it will take you to get pregnant, what pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood will look like for you.

At each point on this journey, there are numerous opportunities for not meeting these expectations, these high ideals that you have come to believe must be true.

What if you could flip this? What if you could shift your expectations so you are open and receiving instead of closed off and fighting?

Shifting expectations continues to come up in my life, so I know that it is a lesson I have not yet fully learned. As I have been hit on the head with this lesson a lot this week, I realized something – it’s not about my expectations of others but of myself.

As I have worked on shifting my expectations, this has meant accepting that I need support to make my dreams, passions, and desires flourish. I reached out for this support, invested in myself, and I can feel the shift.

It has taken some of the pressure off of me and helped me create space to put my focus to where it needs to be. I am able to focus on what flows naturally, while getting support with the pieces that feel more difficult and tend to cause a lot of frustration and stress. This is invaluable!

Are you ready? Release those expectations so you can flourish and grow.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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