The Importance of Friends: The Journey to Becoming Our Best Selves

I woke up this morning with the overwhelming feeling of gratitude. As I wrote out my gratitude list, a stream of joy began to flow through me as I thought about the amazing people in my life. Tears are filling my eyes with how blessed I feel in this very moment. It got me thinking about the importance of friends. When we are on the journey of becoming our best selves, seeing the purpose of people in our lives is essential to our growth.

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This doesn’t always look pretty. I know there have been times on my journey where I look up, hands in the air and say, “Really?” Different people come into my life in the friendship and/or romantic role and show me so much about myself. I get to see where I still have work to do and where I shine.

Now that I’m a woman in my forties, I can tell you how EXTREMELY grateful I am to know that I’ve surrounded myself with friends who see me and know me well enough to know when something doesn’t feel right about the way I’m talking. If you are a woman going into your mid to late forties, you know exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t—HORMONES is the answer. I had NO IDEA the kind of things that would stir up in me so uncontrollably at this phase of life.

Recently, my hormones created a whirlwind of chaos in my feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and actions toward a particular relationship in my life. I tried all the tools I could wrap my head around to get out of the thought/feeling cycle running through my brain. When I opened up to a select group of friends about it, I really got to see how blessed I am. I didn’t have people jumping on my chaos driven bandwagon. I had friends who eased my fears helping me to question the toxic thoughts running through my mind. I had friends who reminded me of the tools that I share so many times. I had friends who reminded me of the person they knew in me and in the person I was creating the chaos around. I had friends sharing courage, strength, and hope from their own experiences. Five days from the start of hormone-driven hamster wheel going off in my mind, like hitting a stop button, the whirlwind ended—peace restored.

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I’m so incredibly grateful and blessed to know I’ve picked an amazing group of friends who can recognize when I’m engaged in a story in my mind that is not beneficial to me; A group of friends who doesn’t want to sink down into the muck, but who are willing to lend hands to help pull me up out of it.

Some people think that when you go on this journey, you shouldn’t have down periods, days, or seasons, and that’s simply not true. Sometimes there are days where a fearful story in our heads can take over for a brief time and as we learn and grow the power of the story lessens and the time periods it affects us shorten. When we attract the group and/or single friend to our lives who choose not to go down with us, we know we are on the right track to becoming the best versions of ourselves. The energy that we project out comes from deep inside us and it is reflected back to us in the relationships that we attract into our lives.

If we need a lesson in becoming strong, we may attract people who will teach us when and how to say no, and that is enough. If we see our own worth and we are dedicated to the journey of contributing to living as our best selves, we attract a team of people around us who will help us to see our light and encourage us to keep shining it. Whatever friends are brought to your life, be thankful. You have the opportunity to grow from every experience. There are friends who will be there for short periods and ones who will last a lifetime. Each one has their own unique value. Don’t try force any friendships to be something different than what they are. They are serving the purpose they need to serve. Embrace the journey!

This piece is dedicated to my AMAZING friends.  I love you and I’m so grateful for each and every one of you.

 

With Love and Gratitude,

 

Rachael Wolff ©2019

90-Day A Better Me Series: Day 49 – Gratitude in Our Relationships

90-Day A Better Me Series

Part II: A Journey of Perspective

What Launches Us Forward: The Stable Foundation

Day 49: Gratitude in Our Relationships

“Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant.”

-Tony Robbins

When have expectations on the people closest to us, we are setting ourselves up to be let down time and time again. Nobody owes us anything. If we think that a person we love owes us something because we did something for them there is a debt to be paid, we gave to that person from a place of lack. When we demand respect, love, understanding, time, etc., we are not being honest about the intentions of why we chose to give in the first place. We might have been giving out of self-expectations, low self-worth, attachment to titles, to feel wanted, to feel needed, etc. None of those are giving from a place of love. When we have expectations of others to be more than who they are, we are coming from a place of lack. When we can be grateful for who they are and what they are capable of giving, we are coming from a place of abundance. We don’t need someone else to fill a hole inside of us. We are complete on our own. We can give without giving ourselves away because we are giving from a place of fullness. When we give from a place of love, we feel gratitude in the ability to give.

Giving from a loving place means we are keeping ourselves in the abundance of gratitude—Our relationships shift and change. The people who are stuck in their own dark place who fed off our demanding energy of lack will grow and change with us, or they will grow apart from us. Family members, friends, and partners who feel the new energy and embrace it will shift with us. We will actually see more of the light inside them too. We will appreciate those relationships even more.

“The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.”

-James E. Faust

By keeping our focus on our gratitude, we start really seeing the partners and friends we choose to have in our lives. Our perspectives of truth (Days 43-46) shift and expand to see people from a more realistic view. We aren’t putting the relationships in the future or in the past, we are in the relationship right now. We are noticing what is happening now. If we have friends from the past, and we choose not to see them now because of our connection to the past, we miss opportunities to see who they are now. We might be missing the gifts that come from the growth each person has had.

When we are in intimate romantic relationships that are focused on the future, we are not seeing the person in front of us AT ALL! We are seeing the dream of who we are wishing them to be in terms of what we want for our future. That is way too much pressure to put on a relationship. Be grateful for the love now. Be grateful for the caring gestures now. Be grateful for the challenges now where you learn if this is even a person you want in your life. If they aren’t a person you want in your life, be grateful you figured that out. When we are grateful, we see the person in front of us. We learn and grow from their time in our lives and that is something to be grateful for no matter how long the relationship lasts. If they are not meant for the long term, we can be thankful for the things we learned and grow from there.

Even in our most intimate relationships, we can’t make our partners feel, think, act, or react in anyway that he/she doesn’t make the choice to do. We can’t make our partners happy. They have to choose to be happy, if they choose to be happy, they will appreciate our happiness and the happiness they share with us. They can’t make us happy either, because we have to make that choice for ourselves too. The same is true for anger, jealousy, etc. It’s all of it, light and dark energies. If we make someone else responsible for our feelings, thoughts, actions, and reactions we gave our power away from a place of lack and fear. It’s that hole some people feel that only an intimate partner can fill. That is a perspective of truth that is very painful for all parties involved. Knowing we are responsible for ourselves and our partners are responsible for themselves is a perspective of truth that leaves a lot of room for gratitude and expansion. We can help without enabling. We can serve without expecting. We can receive with full love for the gesture.

“No gesture is too small when done with gratitude.”

-Oprah

Side note: For those who have been caught in narcissistic relationships, living from a place of gratitude shifts your energy away from the narcissist. A narcissist needs chaos to thrive and feed on. Living in gratitude and feeling good about ourselves takes away their power of us. If you are still in the relationship they will fight against positive shifts. They will try anything to revert your energy back to a chaotic place where they can feel like they are in control. Keep focusing on gratitude, when you have reached a certain point the signs will be so clear when it’s time to leave. You won’t feel the chaos behind the choice. You will feel a peace inside you. It is a truly empowering moment. The shift is definitely something to be grateful for!

Communicating from the energy of gratitude and expansion keeps the defenses down. We can appreciate hearing their view, then explain ours. If we don’t treat differences like battlegrounds, we grow together. Just remember:

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If you are having trouble with a family member, partner, or friend, keep them on your gratitude list. It will help you get out of your own unhealthy space of focusing your energy on lack, which is what creates the space of expecting people to be more than they are. We want to see people from our light, because it will not only help us focus on the light in them, but we will see their dark spots and know if we need to have space from this person. When we are in a dark place inside, we can want and expect people to show up more, but when we find our light, we may see space from them is a true blessing. We want to feed our peace, not our chaos. That is our responsibility to ourselves. When we have a grateful heart and share from a loving place, we feel good! NO ONE can take that away from us no matter how they respond to our loving action. We are full. We are abundant in loving energy. We can show up to our relationships with gratitude for whatever the day holds. There are so many blessings that come with relationships full of gratitude!

Just for Today

Focus your gratitude list on relationships you are struggling with. You will feel a clear energy shift with that person once you have found your own light. They will feel it too. It’s one of the miracles of gratitude. This may take a lot longer than one day if the dark energy you feel about the person runs deep. Keep going!

This exercise helped me move out of my own toxic space in unhealthy relationships and opened me up to countless blessings that I’m still experiencing today even know those particular people are long gone. I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunities I got to learn about myself in those relationships. Their darkness ended up helping me to brighten my light. I’ve also felt amazing shifts in my relationships with my children, friends, and family members by focusing on this list. It really is an AMAZING journey!

 

With Love and Gratitude,

 

Rachael Wolff ©2019

 

Make sure to  read today’s Letter from A Better Me 90-Day A Better Me Letters Series: Day 49 -Celebrating Gratitude in My Relationships

 

 

What Now, Irma?

After taking our unplanned road trip to Georgia, we got to experience some of Irma for ourselves. Since the kids won’t be going back to school until Monday, I decided to wait out some of the chaos of worrying about gas stations having electricity and/or gas at all. I also would let all those desperate to get home to have the road. I really didn’t want to be on the road with so many people who were so exhausted and in fear of what they would find on the other end of their drives. I know it was hard enough keeping my focus as I left Florida.

Many of my friends went home to be stuck without A/C in 90°F weather, no gas, and limited food and water. Many wishing they would have stayed up this way a little longer. Lots of my Naples friends are without cell service, so I sit and wait for limited communications through Facebook and other sources. I see pictures upon pictures of damage and devastation to areas I’ve grown up. Though most of my friends and family were lucky during the storm, their battle with Irma is still not over and won’t be for a long time to come. Her damage was extensive and many areas outside of what we see on the news were affected. Truthfully, how do we even begin to cover it all?

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As I sit here, I wonder about going home. There is now a rising river that may cause problems on my journey. UGH!!!!! Seriously, I thought it would be good to let some time pass before going back, and now it might come with a price. I’m once again faced with: Do I go now? Do I wait? I’m sitting in utter disbelief of all the problems Irma is causing. Deaths are not over; now we have heat exhaustion and issues with carbon monoxide poisoning from generators getting us. Some of my single mom friends are struggling to get food because it is cash only, and they don’t have any cash. Tears are filling my eyes as the words come out.

I’m very guilty of sitting on the outside, thinking that once a storm is over it’s done. Without having people on the inside it can be difficult to see how hard it really is in the aftermath of it all. I’ve been through many hurricanes, but not one that has caused this much widespread damage. I can’t stop thinking about all the areas that are being hit by natural disasters now. All the fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding are consuming my mind of how they affect each individual person having to go through them or have family and friends going through them. The thoughts and feelings are overwhelming.

To love is to recognize yourself in another.

– Eckhart Tolle

I will keep my heart in a loving place. I will keep praying for all those who are suffering. I will continue to love openly. I know that my love is more important than my pain. I won’t try to hide from my feelings and pretend they are not there. I’m proud to feel all the feelings that are going through me. I don’t want to be numb for this. I need to be able to show up for my family, friends, strangers, and myself in the most loving way possible. This is how I will get through.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff ©2017

 

 

 

Hurricane Irma: A Single Mom’s Unplanned Road Trip

Growing up in Southwest Florida, I’ve experienced quite a few hurricanes. I lived in Naples during Andrew, the one that did so much damage and the reports keep comparing Irma to, saying this one is much worse. In my early twenties, I lived in Oak Island, North Carolina. I stuck around for a hurricane coming right over us, my poor family had to watch and wait in panic. As a mom, I decided category three or higher; we leave.

When Hurricane Irma turned into a Category 5, I watched her very carefully. The long term projection showed where I live now on the West Coast of Florida might see the ugliest side of her; the north east corner. My exit strategy started forming, but I gave her a little time. As she came closer, the projected path started to turn east. This is when my mind started really spinning. I couldn’t stop thinking about Hurricane Charley. The models showed a landfall more north, then it took a sudden turn and many people were unprepared for a direct hit. Hurricane Andrew hit Homestead, but Naples had plenty of damage. Another hurricane came through as direct hit on the SW side then passed through and did a lot more damage in Ft. Lauderdale then where we were. Do I stay or do I go? I left when Katrina passed over our waters and watched intently because my ex-boyfriend and his family lived on the coast of Mississippi. I remember desperately searching the Internet to find out they were all safe. His dad and stepmom were those people who were always prepared. They had a hurricane room that looked like a convenience store. In the end, it didn’t matter. Katrina stripped her to the foundation. They didn’t live that close to the water. It was at least a five to ten minute drive from what I remember. Should I stay or should I go? I knew I needed to get calm and make a decision. Florida is not like many other states. If you live anywhere in the southern half, you need to make a decision fairly early. It takes me five hours or more to get to the border of Florida. When I was in Naples it took around six and half on a good day. Now add evacuation traffic; NIGHTMARE!

On Tuesday, I really was confused whether to stay or go, but staying was causing me so much anxiety. Not because of the storm itself as much as the aftermath. Flooding, food, and transportation were stuck in my brain. Now, I’m very fortunate to have a friend who lives close to Atlanta, Georgia that the kids and I stay at every summer. I knew I had a place to go outside of Florida. Some people would say, “It’s probably going to hit there too.” Yes, it is, but from where I am. I can go in any direction to escape Irma’s path. I don’t have that option in Florida. In Florida, she will come in as a category 4 or 5, but in this area, at most a category 1. That’s a BIG difference! I spent Tuesday and Wednesday studying traffic on an app for my phone. I watched accident after accident pop up on my screen. I checked on traffic through out the night on Tuesday to see if I leave in the middle of the night, could I avoid a lot of the evacuation traffic. Luckily, the answer was yes. Gas was out all over the state, so the fear of not being able to get any came into my head. I needed to get my head on straight. Stop getting into the fear and make the best decision for my family.

I struggle with decision-making when there is a lot of chaos going on. I spoke with a friend, the more we talked, I realized my gut wasn’t telling me to stay, despite many people telling me I would be fine where I was. I needed to get quiet and pray. I sat in my closet (safe from interruption), got still, and asked a direct question, “Should I leave?” I got my answer, a very loud and solid YES! A calm came over me and I knew I made the right decision. I figured there were three options:

  1. Irma would come into the Gulf of Mexico and hit us with her worse side.
  2. She would go up the middle and get all of Florida.
  3. She would go out to the Atlantic and hit somewhere further up the coast.

Being, I really didn’t like options one or two, I asked myself would I regret leaving, the answer a resounding NO. I put my thoughts in a less stressful place because I needed a clear head while I was driving. I decided I was going to go on a road trip to see friends. Wednesday, I packed the kids, our cat, and myself up and I was good to go. I went to sleep early and set my alarm for 1AM. We were on the road by 1:30AM.

The first few hours were easy. I even could set my cruise control. I saw traffic coming up so I pulled off at a full rest area. I slipped into one of the few spots. I’m so glad I did because all the rest areas after that were packed well beyond capacity with cars and trucks lining the highway. Many travellers were taking sleep breaks because they had been traveling so long. Tears filled my eyes as I thought about all the people leaving their family, friends, and homes. As a category 5 hurricane our lives as we know it may change very quickly.

Going through Georgia took the longest because it was daytime and the majority of travellers were on the road. So many unnecessary accidents along the way because people wouldn’t give each other space to slow down. I stayed next to the shoulder and had to use it to avoid an accident two cars ahead of me.

I have lived in Florida for a good chunk of my life. I lived in Naples multiple times starting when I was in fifth grade. My children were born there. I worked there. Most of all, many of my closest lifetime friends are there along with my boyfriend and his family. I knew many of them were staying and most of them were hoping the track was going to keep shifting east.

Now, as of 5:00AM Saturday morning this massive storm is going to hit at the least as a category 4 and a possible 5. Now, my home that I share with my mom and stepdad is also going to get a major hit as a 3 or 4, along with St. Petersburg area where I went to Eckerd College and met so many amazing people. This means a huge portion of my children’s and my family and friends are now going to be on the worst side of this massive storm. As grateful as I am that I got the gut instinct to leave, and that I could keep my calm on the road because I had a familiar place to go with my kids, my nerves are still on high alert.

I am doing my best to stay present, but I’m not going to lie, my head is in so many places and with so many of the people I love. I don’t know when the next time I will be able see any of them is. I don’t know how the roads will be or how long it will be before I can get home to my family and get my kids back to their normal routines. If it will even be an option.

We didn’t take much with us besides clothes, important paperwork, our electronic devices, and a handful of sentimental items. When I was looking around at what to pack, I thought this is all just stuff. If it all goes, it won’t matter. What will matter is what happens to all the people I love.

I’m happy I don’t have to make that last minute decision wondering if it’s too late to leave and will there be enough gas to get out, but my heart, mind, and soul are there with the people I love. I will be praying and hoping that I hear from them all once the storm passes. Be safe my friends. I love you.

I have been blessed with SO MANY AMAZING people in my life. I know I’m not alone. There are no right ways to feel right now. We all experience watching an event like this from our own personal angle. Our strengths and weaknesses may be exposed, but through these traumatic experiences we grow as a global community. I am not alone. My friends and family are not alone. I just watched so many people come together to help with Hurricane Harvey. I’m watching the best of humanity come out to help with the earthquake that just happened in Mexico and the fires in Oregon, Montana, and California. Even if the media hasn’t covered some of them, good people still will show up in whatever way they can; even if it is prayer. Every piece of positive energy matters and that is what needs to be focused on. Please stay compassionate and non-judgmental towards the people in it. They are all doing the best they can with what they have. It is much easier looking at a situation from outside the box. I’m guilty of doing it and I’m reminding myself as much as I’m telling you. We don’t know what the best answer is for anyone else’s situation, and we don’t have all the cards. So please, keep the energy positive and loving.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff ©2017

P.S. If you are new to the blog, pictures on this blog are from my personal adventures and taken by me. This featured Image is in Venice, FL. I really hope the pier is still there when I get home.

I apologize to any grammar police. This piece is very raw. I couldn’t focus on proper grammar.