A Better Life Begins With Gratitude

 “What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.”

-Oprah Winfrey

I’m always amazed how fast positive changes start to occur when I focus on gratitude. Years ago, I started a gratitude journal. During my darkest days I would be grateful for having the ability to walk, see, hear, and smell. I would be grateful for having a roof over my head and clothes to wear. In the beginning, it was hard coming up with new things every day. What was important is that I kept doing it, and I kept it aligned with positive energy. This meant no negative statements, such as I’m grateful I wasn’t…, I’m grateful he didn’t…, all these statements attract the negative. The focus is on the lack of something. This exercise is about what IS there. That is where the magic exists.

I quickly realized that the list got easier to write. I would seek out things to be grateful for. This is how I found my appreciation for nature again. When I was a kid, I loved being outside and exploring my surroundings. When I lost my way, I stopped going on adventures.

I forgot about the beauty of a sunset and a sunrise. I forgot how it felt to be out in the woods in awe of my surroundings. All the pictures you will see on my blog are ones I have taken. Those are my personal moments that I’m sharing with you. Seeing those pictures reminds me to stay grateful to the beauty that is a part of me inside and out.

Before the end of my marriage, I started a gratitude list and made sure to put my husband on it every day. On days that I was really angry, I would dedicate a whole page to him. I did this because I didn’t want to be led by anger/fear. When I did leave, I did it in peace. I knew from a loving place, it was the right thing. I have never looked back or regretted my decision. I’m grateful to him for helping me dig deep to discover the person I am meant to be.

I took a course at Eckerd College called, The Creative Process. We had an assignment called a “Mudball: Thirty-Five Days of Creativity”. For 35 days we had to commit to a creative activity. I chose to draw a picture, add a quote, and write 5 things I’m grateful for. The good times kept rolling in. My mind was clearer, my heart was fuller, and I was happy and content with my single life.

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Since the time of the assignment, I have had many blessings come my way. I may not be rich financially, but I am truly abundant in everything that matters. I have attracted so many wonderful things to my life all by focusing my energy on what I already have. I even found a relationship that was worthy of me giving up my single life.

Starting January 1, 2016, my kids and I started a gratitude jar. Every night we write about things we were grateful for that day. They write three things each, and I write 5-10. This blog was one of the positive outcomes that came from me focusing on my gratitude. I find that being in gratitude gives me more energy to focus my love and creativity in all the right places.

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Christie Marie Sheldon’s Love or Above really helped me to understand the importance of staying in the energy of love and gratitude. Her CD series did wonders for me.

See what From A Loving Place is up to on Facebook.

Get your daily dose of gratitude on Twitter @Wolffspirit9

Read how you can be apart of it all A Month of Gratitude.

I hope you will join me by investing in your best energy. Let’s spread the attitude of gratitude.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

Tearing Down Walls Isn’t Enough

“If the house is crooked and crumbling, and the land on which it sits uneven, is it possible to make anything lie straight?”

-Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers p. 254

I have made countless attempts to re-build my metaphoric house.  I would tear it all down in my head and start re-building.  I noticed the method wasn’t working.  I kept finding myself wrapped up with the same patterns with different people and unfortunately  the same results.  UGH!  I have been on a self-help kick since I was thirteen.  The first book I read to try to restore my thinking to sanity was, A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.  I still have the book all tattered, highlighted and torn.  I have read it a handful of times and always find a new message to bring with me. I feel like all the books I have read plant seeds in my head, but they can only have an impact when I am ready to water them.

I spent years in search of some outside way to make me feel better on the inside.  I moved all over the country in hopes of finding something.  I kept finding myself in the same predicaments.  My romantic track record was a doozy, I mastered the art of unhealthy relationships.  They screamed TOXIC!  I would literally move to another state when a relationship ended.  I didn’t just do this once, let’s just say in a span of ten years I moved in and out of seven, yes, seven states.  Luckily for me, a career as a national sales trainer made the moving fairly easy.  Each place I lived, I would try to start over.

The first time I finally settled down into a relationship and truly committed myself to it, I once again did it for the wrong reasons.  I didn’t know it at the time.  Hindsight is always 20/20. I was so abusive to myself that it made it very easy to be verbally abusive to me. No one could talk worse to me than I did to myself. I had a core belief system that said I was unlovable, unworthy, and overall a waste of space.  I let the shame of all my past decisions weigh me down. It was not just that I felt like I did stupid things.  In my mind, I was stupid and worthless.

When I got married, I lost myself completely.  In my mind, I wasn’t worth being there anyway.  I dove head first into being the best mom I could be, the best wife I could be, the best daughter I could be, and the best fill in the blank I could be.  Although all of those things are positive, my foundation was based on such unworthiness that all my actions to do better and be better actually drained me.  I became a martyr.

By this time, I had read countless books with great ideas on how to be better, but nothing was sticking.  I couldn’t do the work to get myself out of my mess because I didn’t know how to become worthy of coming out of it. It wasn’t until my mom sent me a copy of the movie, The Secret that things would start to turn around.  Keep in mind, I said “start”.

After watching The Secret, I made the realization that I needed to find a spiritual connection again.  At the time, I was pretty angry with God.  Just like many people in my predicament, it was much easier for me to point my finger outward than fix the real problem, me.  Within a couple days of watching the movie, I was outside playing with my kids.  They spotted a neighbor and her daughter. We had never seen them before.  We walked down our long driveway to greet them.  It was instant!  The woman and I started talking, and it was like we had been friends our whole lives.  A short time later, we met for dinner and talked about starting a spiritual group. We actually did it!  We had a couple people come and go, but the core group was three women.  We were exactly what each other needed.  A ripple effect started happening in my life.  I kept meeting more amazing women.  I finally started to feel better and the blessing started coming.  I found AL-ANON and a job that I loved. As I was transitioning to the person I wanted to be, my relationship with my husband started to break down to the point of no repair.  Our dynamic was based on me being a shell of a person. He didn’t know what to do with the person I was becoming, and I no longer wanted to live surrounded by anger and chaos.  We outgrew each other.  He would say that I was being “brainwashed”.  I have to say, I was and boy did my brain need it.  My belief systems were suffocating me.  I truly felt alive!

Years ago, I had heard that you aren’t ready to walk away from a marriage until you can walk away without anger.  I can’t remember where I heard it, but it always stuck with me.  When I finally left, I did it without anger, and I never looked back. I left the marriage with my two children and that’s it. We moved in with my mom and stepdad, so that I could go to school, and my kids (and I) could see what healthy relationships looked like. I started attending the PEL program at Eckerd College the very next semester.  My life has been on an upward track ever since.

Hold on, that is not to say I haven’t had my share of lessons, but the benefit of studying Human Development is that I had access to a lot of great advice and observations through my next growth spurt (warning: you will hear this term a lot).  About a year after I left my husband, I decided to dip my toe in the dating pool.  This is where I learned a big lesson in not fixing my foundation before building a new house.  When I went into this new, what I call non-relationship all I wanted was someone who didn’t drink.  I didn’t focus on any other element of a healthy relationship and for now, we will just say that it was a crash and burn situation, but it was exactly what I needed to finally start to fix my foundation.

During one of my courses at Eckerd College,  Dr. Anne Geroux literally opened my eyes wider than they have ever been opened before.  She said, “You are as healthy or as sick as your partner.” WHAT!?!?! That was a game changer for me.  My thought process went into hyperdrive.  What does this mean?  I have chosen a lot of really unhealthy partners.  I have been with all kinds of addicts, emotionally unavailable, and lets just say sick individuals.  How could I be as unhealthy as all of them?  Screw this! I fought the urge to rationalize and blame her for my choices.  Instead, I chose to completely jump in and fix my foundation!

For the next year, I worked my ass off fixing my core belief systems.  I mean every day reading, meditating, and writing it out.  I was finally ready to do the work. With a combination of AL-ANON, audiobooks, school, and doing work every day to clear out my old garbage, I finally got to a place where my foundation was worthy of building a solid house on.  For the first time in my life, I have a sense of peace inside me.  This doesn’t mean that the old patterns and thought processes don’t sneak back in from time to time, but they are manageable.  I am aware of when they are there, when I am being triggered, and best of all, I have the tools to do something about it.

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Today, my life is very different.  This is what I have learned from my experience so far: If the foundation is not built on solid ground, it doesn’t matter how great the house looks. The walls will crumble and it will all fall a part. The more I thought about it, the more I saw that the foundation of fear was not stable.  It created many problems in every situation big and small.  I have watched it destroy so many peoples lives.  However, the foundation of love builds amazing things, and when the core comes from a place of love, the message is clear and our eyes are opened to a better way to live. We are all humans, we are driven by love or fear at different periods of our lives. My hope is that I choose loving action before jumping into fear mode. Fear itself is not per se a bad thing.  We will all have fears, it is a part of being human. The problem is when fear becomes our core.  I see it as the  difference between doing the right thing because of the fear of God (or a person, place or thing) or doing the right thing because of the actions of Jesus (or any other loving human being) inspire us to live a life more like them. I choose to live inspired by people who act from a loving place. Welcome to my journey…

Follow me and/or like me on Facebook.com/fromalovingplace

I hope you come on this journey with me; the best is yet to come!

Photo credit: Rachael Wolff

This piece was also featured on YouShareProject.com

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From a Loving Place Introduction

The most attractive thing about the Buddha was that he saved one person: himself. That’s all he needed to save; when he saved himself, he saved the whole world.

-Byron Katie, Hope Beneath Our Feet p. 190

Hi, my name is Rachael. I am a single mother approaching 40 (and I mean within months). I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years earning my degree in Human Development. In my first course in college I read the quote above ,and I felt like I finally learned the secret to an abundant life. I have one of those pasts that gives a long lists of reasons to be miserable, but I have chosen to not let my past to be in vain.

My life has been a series of lessons that have strengthened me and made me who I am now. My past has helped me show compassion and understanding for others who are having a hard time finding their way. It has given me space to be less judgmental and remember what it is like to struggle. Overall, my past has made me a better person. This is because I do not let shame and guilt way me down. This was a process and it cannot happen overnight. I had a friend once brought my attention to the fact that it took me over thirty years to get sick of my warped way of thinking. It takes time to undue patterns that I have survived on and built walls with. I need to take down the walls one brick at a time.

Why did I decide to write a blog? One, I want to stay on the right track. By writing, I will keep reminding myself of how blessed my life has become because of all my realizations. Two, if there is even one person out there that my journey helps, then I am fulfilling my purpose. Lastly, I love to write. I plan on sharing not only the things that have worked to make my life better, but also my darkness and how I let it stop dragging me down. I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, when I am feeling alone reading about tools to get me out of it, I can sometimes feel more alone. Logically, I know what to do and how to get me out of the chaos. The problem is that when we are down in it, logic does not apply. The connection from our emotions to logic has a short. No matter how much I have learned, I can always get to that place, and no one should feel alone there.

This blog is about how I save myself and my journey to show up to life from a loving place.