Which Path Do You Choose Today? Love or Fear

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Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil-he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good-he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you-and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

-Cherokee legend

We choose whether to follow with love or fear in every moment. This is a small sampling of topics and questions to illuminate which is getting most of your attention:

Disasters Such as 9/11, the Holocaust, Civil Rights Issues, or Natural Disasters

  • Do I focus on the heroes who helped or the people who created the problem?
  • Do I do something to help or get caught in the blame game?
  • Am I inspired to act by the people reaching out to help others or the ones filled with hate and rage?
  • Do I focus on the people and families who have been affected by the tragedy or the people, government, races or religions I want to blame for it?
  • Am I touched by my love and compassion for humanity as a whole, or I am stuck in anger, fear, and despair?

Romantic Relationships

  • Am I happy with where my life is now or desperately want it to be filled with another person?
  • Do I allow space for a healthy partner to present themselves or do I allow anyone in who shows interest?
  • Do I stay because I have the love I want, or do I stay because I am afraid of their not being someone else?
  • Do you love myself or do I do I feel like someone else’s love for me will make me feel better?
  • Do I see myself as a whole person, or do I think I am missing a part of me if I don’t have a romantic partner?

Religious Paths

  • Am I inspired by the loving actions of the figuresI follow or do I fear the wrath?
  • Do I believe that every life has value or only the ones who follow my ideals and beliefs?
  • Can I show compassion to any human who is suffering, or do I rationalize human suffer with anger and hate towards how the person is choosing to live?
  • Does love for humanity dictate how I treat people or does my judgments about a sinful lifestyle?
  • Do I understand that loving yourself is a part of the journey or do I feel my life has no value in my religious practice?

Work or Career

  • Do I see the value and importance of every position and person, or do I see others and myself as greater or less than someone else?
  • Do I believe in myself and take pride in the work I produce or do I come from a place of not enough?
  • Do I strive to do my best no matter what the task,  or do I think, “I don’t want to be here” and let the work suffer?
  • Do I see my opportunities to make a difference or do I shrink to fit into a box?
  • Do I stay in a situation because I love it or because I am afraid to see what would happen if I followed  my passion?

Overall Interactions with People

  • Is it more important to show compassion or be right?
  • Am I open to look at the situation from a different perspective, or  Do I have to judge other people’s journeys?
  • Am I happy for other people when they are successful or do I find a reason to attack them?
  • Do I see my own beauty or attack other people’s imperfections?
  • Do you I responsibility for my own choices or blame others?

Myself

  • Which is an easier list to write, what I like about myself or what I hate about myself?
  • When I make a mistake, I learn from it and move on, or I beat myself up?
  • I can look in the mirror and smile at the reflection in the mirror or I judge the reflection in the mirror?
  • I understand and accept that I’m not perfect or I expect myself to be perfect?
  • I can choose to be better or I am stuck in a vicious cycle of self-abuse?

Remember, there is no reason to beat yourself up for ANY time you have chosen to live out of alignment with love. We all make that choice sometimes, it is one of our greatest teachers when we can see it and take a step in a different direction. Understand that we are all humans and will choose based on what we feel is best at that moment. If we are not showing ourselves love, it will be easy to slip into fearful actions.

Try not to judge those who choose fear, because then you are choosing it too. Instead, see the opportunity to learn from the situation and figure out how to inspire love in the given situation. It will have amazing benefits for you and the other people involved. Your hate, anger, fear, and judgments are signals. If investigated and transformed into loving thought and actions they have the power to make wonderful changes in your own life and the lives of those around you. The ripple effect will go on and on. Does the ripple you choose inspire love or fear? Every word and action matter. Do the best you can.

Sometimes fear will get the better of us. If we get past that, forgive ourselves, and move on, we will have so much more to contribute to our world and our humanity. If we can stand up for what matters from a loving place, we will be able to see so many more opportunities and ways to fix the things that are hurting us. Together our love will heal the world. Divided we will suffer and struggle. Which path will you choose today? I choose love.

With love and gratitude for all,

Rachael Wolff

 

 

 

 

 

People Act Differently Based on the Strength of Their Inner-Worth

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People act differently based on the strength of their inner-worth. If we are reacting to someone else’s negatively, it means it is time to work on building up our own. Treat yourself kindly; you are your greatest strength.

Our lives shine when we can:

  • Look at people’s actions from different perspectives- Love is kind. If someone is not acting from kindness, what is going on? Are they really mad, hurt, sad, or confused by me or by what’s going on inside them? If I reacted to their actions from a loving place, how would that look? How would I feel?
  • Question how we are choosing to see things- Are you looking at the situation from a love or a fear based angle? How are some other ways I can see this?
  • Check-in with ourselves when we react to other people’s behaviors- Why am I feeling this way? How does their behavior reflect on me?
  • Look at what is happening to us from different perspectives- Lose a job, relationship, or suffer an injury: Maybe there is a lesson that will lead you to a life greater than you ever imagined. Open yourself up to learn from it and see what happens.
  • Love ourselves wholeheartedly!

With love, peace, and gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

What We Tell Ourselves is Our Reality: Time to Take Our Power Back

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We create the world we live in. Yes, we are that powerful. It all starts with a stream of thought and where our focus is. How is it that twins who grew up in the same household can go off to lead such different lives? How is it possible for some in poverty to break down the barriers and rise up, while others fall? How is possible for some people to find the love, careers, and lifestyle they want and others struggle? How do some people feel like victims of the world and other feel like participants in the journey?

It all begins with the messages we feed ourselves.

  • How do I use my words?
  • Do I speak in the positive or negative more?
  • Do I focus my attention on stories of successes or stories about tragedies?
  • Do I see possibilities or obstacles?
  • Do I question my reactions to others?
  • How do I judge myself?
  • How do I judge others?
  • How do I participate in life?
  • Do I work hard or smart?
  • Do I try to lose weight or create a healthier lifestyle?
  • How do I treat myself?
  • Do I put more values in others than I do myself?

These questions only tap the surface, but how we answer each one dictates the life we are creating. Old patterns of thinking take time to break. Some of these may have come from the generations before you. Investigate your current beliefs and break free from the past ones that hold you back.  Here are a few ideas on how to improve the life you are creating:

  1. Make  lists to change your thinking to a more possibility focused outlook. I have used it for love, work, family, spirituality, self, money, and school. I am amazed in the changes  every time. When I can make a list of all the positive things I want my life, I know what I am working towards.
  2. Write a Letter the God of your understanding,  a friend, or a family member like you already have what you are wanting in your life. Pick on area to focus on so that you can give it your full attention and energy. Go through the feelings of having it in your life. Use ALL your senses. This will help ignite every part of you in the process. Make sure to write about the details of how things look, smell, taste, sound, and feel. Create scenes where you can use each sense. If you can’t see the life you want, you are giving away your power to create it. Remember to leave it open to be better than you can even imagine. This will give it space to grow above and beyond.
  3. STAY AWAY from focusing on what you don’t want. If you know there are certain qualities that aren’t appeasing to you, focus on the ones that are their opposite. Instead of focusing on losing weight, quitting smoking, or ending toxic relationships focus on the actions of a healthier lifestyle. You don’t want to see the excess weight, the smoking, or the unhealthy relationship. What does the opposite look like to you.
  4. Expand your tool box. How do you plan on staying in this positive mindset? What books will help you focus on the life you want? What exercises will benefit this life the most? How do you need to change your eating habits? What videos would you like to see on-line (If you haven’t been introduced to the world of Ted Talks check them out). We don’t have excuses anymore, it doesn’t matter how our life looks to anyone else. It only matters what you want your life to look like.
  5. FEEL! Covering pain with outside substances will only accentuate the problem and keep you farther from the solution. When we allow ourselves to fully feel the joy and the pain it will help move us to a better place. When we use things like drugs, alcohol, or other people to cover up what is going on. It lays stuck creating diseases, illnesses, and despair. It steals our hope, joy, and power. I’m not saying not to enjoy a cocktail or a companion. Just don’t use them as a tool to cover up what you are really feeling.
  6. Allow yourself to grieve the losses of the old life. This is the life you have lived for a very long time. It will take time to release it. It will happen in stages and you may feel the loss of the walls of protection you put up around that life. Be gentle with yourself. What I have noticed is I will create a situation with another person, where I find myself facing that part of me. Patterns keep repeating until we are able to fully release what is keeping them there. See the opportunity to learn and the progress you have made.

    “If we do not suffer a loss all the way to the end, it will wait for us. It won’t just dissipate and disappear. Rather, it will fester, and we will experience its sorrow later, in stranger forms” -Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open p. 99

  7. Record your progress. Even when you have a bad day, which you will, find something in it to contribute to the life you want for yourself. Notice as much as you can to be grateful for in each day. Take charge and put your energy into where you want to go while being grateful for what is already here.

Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff

Lessons in the Drama

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“Argue with your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”

-Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah p. 75

 

Drama can be a great inspiration to grow. Life can be nice, calm, and move along, but where is the fun in that. When we start seeing drama as a teacher, we can appreciate the lesson and move on and away from it much faster. Sometimes it takes drama to get us to change. Drama likes to stick around us and get worse until we learn the lesson. How do we know when we learned it? The same situation can be there, but there is no more drama surrounding it. The situation changes or it goes away. It is as simple as that. If it still creates an emotional reaction, the lesson has not been learned.

I have an ex-husband. Our relationship was not pretty. It was full of drama, and it got worse and worse throughout our relationship. I had to come to a point where I said enough. Not enough to him, but enough to myself. I wasn’t getting peace at home because I had no idea what peace looked like within me. I was constantly a part of the drama. I was the person that people felt sorry for and was the victim of my world. I knew nothing about how to have a low drama life. I was an awful-izer. I knew how to make absolutely everything around me awful. My relationship, my kids, my friends, and my life. I was swimming in a pool of drama. I could see everyone’s toxicity around me, but I couldn’t see my own. I love all those saying about leaving the negative people and drama behind. The part I didn’t get, “I” had to leave it behind.

The drama in my life told me, I needed to change. For years, I tried to change the situation around me, my location, friends, jobs, and partners. The problem was that I didn’t change the source of the problem: ME. I kept expecting different results and the drama kept escalating. I wasn’t getting it, and the drama wouldn’t stop coming until I did.

After embracing a path that was about changing myself, everything in my life improved. Do I still struggle with drama from time to time? Yes. Yesterday was actually one of those days. I wrapped myself right up in it. My head was in a completely chaotic place about my daughter and where she was emotionally. I completely submersed myself in my story about how horrible things are for her and felt completely helpless about how I could help her. The drama was building up around her. Yesterday, I crashed. I hit the point I call it a breakdown to breakthrough moment.

I needed the drama to get me to do something different. I needed to stop talking about the problem and start embracing a solution. Once I was able to get to that place and see my part in the drama the miracles started happening. People started showing up to help. I got appointments in the small windows of space  I had open. The voice inside me said, “It’s time!”.

We can pretend the drama is not there by focusing on other people, doing for them what we don’t do for ourselves. We can gossip and read about all the other problems in the world and bitch and complain until we are blue in the face. We can blame our parents, brothers, sisters, friends, family, partners, and kids. You name it, we can do it. The problem is, we are just letting the drama grow and fester until the point of explosion. We can’t change it and make it better until we see our part in it. If we didn’t have a part in it, the drama wouldn’t affect us. It couldn’t effect us. Drama only has a life when we create it.

Are you engaged in someone else’s drama? We only engage in someone else’s when we are avoiding our own. Something inside us is stirred up and not getting attention. Otherwise, when someone else has something going on we know how to separate it and look at it from a constructive point of view. I’m amazed when people feel like they are putting their problems on me. Nobody can put their problems on me. If I pick up their problems and walk away with them, that is my stuff. I know when I am supporting a person, Their drama is their journey. I don’t take their situation personally. I don’t take it personally when they don’t agree with what I’m saying or the advice I am giving. It is not my drama, and I know it.

Is it more challenging when it is our own kids, partners, family and friends? Of course, because they are the best sources for our deepest and most powerful lessons. I was just there yesterday. The great news, the time it takes to learn from the drama gets shorter and shorter as we become aware and take less personally.

Here are a few of the resources I use to teach me the lesson in the drama:

  1. Byron Katie. My favorite book is Loving What is  in the audiobook version because it has her in the live sessions. Nothing beats hearing her at work. What her work does is it gets me to question my thinking. She doesn’t say that I need to change it. She just makes the participant aware of it. You can also find her sessions on her Facebook page, The Work of Byron Katie.
  2. Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom This book is an easy read that educates the reader on how to free themselves from the drama that surrounds us. It helps us become the best versions of ourselves and not to take other people’s journeys personally. I can’t tell you how many times I have read this book!
  3. Talk to drama free people. When I want change, I want people who are solution oriented. I’m not interested in getting advice from people who are jumping into the pot with me. If I go to advice from those people, I know I still have work to do.
  4. Become aware of self-talk. I know that this will effect everything! If I am being hard on myself and have my “bad me” bat out, I will not find the best solution. I will take the fear and anger route and that never leads to good things. I only create more drama. The whole point is to learn from it and move on.
  5. Get out the gratitude list. I will write every day about what I’m grateful for. Nothing gets me out of drama faster than realizing, I don’t need to be in it.
  6. The positive play list. I created a play list on my phone that is full with songs that inspire me to feel better and move. I also have a library full of audiobooks and meditations.
  7. Walk around the lake. I love walking around the lake and playing a meditation to get my head straight. I’m a big fan of the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation ExperienceThere are different experiences available for helping with a variety of topics. These are a great ways to stay centered. If you don’t have a lake or it is not accessible, find a peaceful place and use it.
  8. Keep the Feed Clean. I love Facebook because I have liked so many wonderful pages that help to keep my positive thoughts on whenever I need a boost. I choose not to follow anything that is negative. You can find many of the pages that feed my thinking on my Facebook page: From A Loving Place

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

Please, come on this journey with me! Pick a post that calls to you from the menu on the top left corner of the title page on the From A Loving Place website and like me on Facebook. Send me a message, I would love to hear from you.

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Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff

 

 

Give Yourself the Love You Deserve

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Thoughts are like data programmed into a computer, registered on the screen of your life. If you don’t like what you see on the screen, there’s no point in going up to the screen and trying to erase it. Thought is Cause; experience is Effect. If you don’t like the effects in your life,  you have to change the nature of your thinking.

Love in your mind produces love in your life.”

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love p. 24

I was scanning Facebook, and I kept seeing articles and memes about love and relationships. I saw very few on being in-love with ourselves. No relationship will cure a lack within us. Believe me, I have tried. It always ended the same way, and I kept repeating the same cycle for a long time.

If we have an expectation of someone else, it is usually because we are not giving ourselves what we need.

When we don’t take care of ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, we start taking it out on those around us. We expect them to do what we are not doing for our own well being. If we respect ourselves, the people we are with will have no other choice than to respect us too. Why? We won’t allow otherwise. Our boundaries of how we will let someone treat us will become crystal clear, and it will not be done with force.

If we find ourselves having to use force, we still have work to do. Something inside us is still feeling insecure. Our energies will only attract like energies. If we keep attracting wonderful people to our lives, it is because our energy is aligned with theirs.

If we keep attracting people who we feel hurt by, it is because we are somehow hurting ourselves. How do we change this? How do we make our already good relationships even better? How do start attracting the relationships with family, friends, and significant others that we want?

We have to nurture our relationship with ourself. Yes! Be the very person we want to see in someone else. This is not just a throw-a-way line. Many people think that if we are nice to others, we should EXPECT that in return. NO! We can’t expect others to do anything, but what we can do is EXPECT that of the way we treat ourselves.

Self-love creates healthy boundaries for all relationships. We put out an energy that tells people how to treat us. We will not accept people being cruel to us. We will be able to walk away from the situation in a loving way. This doesn’t mean we will walk away from a person just because they are having a bad day. It means that their behavior won’t eat at our foundation. We will not let their thoughts about the world alter our loving core. If they are hurting we will be able to give them love, because we will know that their hurt is their journey.

We won’t even attract cruelty anymore. There is a energy forcefield that surrounds loving energy and it only grows and expands. Will we have bad days? Yes! Will we slip into old behavior patterns? Yes! Will we be given new lessons that we didn’t even know we had coming? OH YES! The kinder we are to ourselves during our slips tells us how far we have come and how much farther we have to go.

If we can’t treat ourselves as special as we want someone else to treat us, there is a problem. It will keep coming up until the lesson is learned. Taking the plunge with ourself doesn’t ensure that we will all the sudden meet our life long partner, but it does mean, we can enjoy the relationships that are presented to us. The lessons will be softer and recovery time will be shorter.

I have been amazed what a year of truly being committed to myself did for me. When I started treating myself right, I was able to give more of myself to others. The best part, I don’t hold it against them. If you want to read my personal journey about this please read my post, “Discovering the Meaning of Love”. All I know is that when I invested the time in myself, my world changed.

For those of you who want a more substantial love life, I invite you to have a love affair with yourself. Do something nice for yourself. Treat yourself as good as you are willing to treat the people around you.  Make it special! If you can put the effort into someone else, you can definitely put the effort into you. Visit me on Facebook and tell me what you are doing for yourself. Enjoy the love affair. This is a relationship worth investing in!

2020 Update

If you are looking for the tools that will help you write your best love story, you are reading this at the perfect time. Letters from A Better Me is out on audiobook from Audible on February 15, 2020 and on paperback and ebook on February 18, 2020. Order your copy today! You deserve the best Love story. GIVE IT TO YOURSELF!

Other purchasing options are Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indiebound.org, Target.com, Walmart.com, and more.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff ©2020, 2016

We All Have Our Own Journey

Why do we feel it necessary to judge others’ journeys? I find it so easy to get caught in this web. When I can pull myself back from it, I can see a better way. I choose to embrace my own journey!

When I put the focus back on me and see that I’m only emotional triggered when someone else’s story hits too close to home, I’m set free. In this place, I can heal my old wounds. I can take responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions. My power returns back to me.

I have gone through a lot in my life. I could have chose the bitter, victim of the world route and many people would rationalize my decision. I chose a different way. I chose to keep getting up, learn what I needed to, and move on. This is my journey.

It took me a lot of work, spiritual guidance, and loving support to get me where I am today. I had a lot of challenging lessons that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but they gave me exactly what I needed. Because of that, I can’t deny someone else’s journey is any different. We are all going through exactly what we need to for our personal journey.

Some of the most heart wrenching stories have the most to teach. We are all created different, we need to have different stories too. We need all of them to make this planet thrive. We can’t expect others to live according to our own path.

We will only ever leave impressions that may help others figure out their own path. Loving actions can plant seeds, ignite passions, and create positive energy around a situation. All judgments do is make a person feel worse and bury themselves deeper in the pain that is holding them back. If a person is leading a lifestyle that is hurting her/himself or others there is a shame cycle running through them. Shaming them feeds that cycle. They will experience consequences for their actions, they will pay the price, but we can help them by not keeping them in a prison of thought.

When we focus on our own journey, we can be a light for others. We don’t have to push our beliefs on them. We just need to show them by how we choose to live.

I’ve learned to help others  and myself by asking more questions. They, just like me, may get defensive when someone is approaching the buried truth. That’s a good thing, as long as I allow them to have their reaction without filling myself up with the defensive energy too. That is when the situation can get out of control. I keep reminding myself, this is their journey. I also remind myself when it’s my journey and that I don’t need to take all the advice that is given to me. I don’t have to get angry with someone for giving me advice either. It just means someone cares and they are doing the best they can with the tools they have.

My mom is a great example of a person who is really good at uncovering this through questions. She is one of the few people who can reach my hot spots for growth. I feel safe enough to react in my defensive way, come back, and understand what I was covering up. I’m very lucky to have her. By example, she has taught me to do the same thing.

Once I changed, so did some of the people around me. My circle of friends is amazing!! We are all very supportive of each other’s growth. I have this, because that’s where I put my energy. I don’t jump down into other people’s holes and I don’t expect them to jump into mine. I sit next to the hole and wait for them to tell me they would like a hand getting out. My solid foundation of love can only help them if they use their personal strength to pull themselves up. People only come to me when they really want change.

I also have learned not to take other people’s journeys personal. They need to go through and repeat their lessons as many times as it takes for them to figure out their own way. I am here to give them seeds of hope. It is their choice whether to put them in the ground and let them take root. The same goes for me, when the roles are reversed.

The most important lesson for me was to embrace my own journey. I know, I can only give what I already have inside. If I spot something in someone else, it’s because I have it in myself too. The best part about that is it includes the good stuff.

We are capable of embracing the light or the dark inside us at any point in time.  The dark has a lot to teach, I like to make sure that even in my darkest spots, I embrace the candlelight to have a foundation for love to guide my way. The better I talk to myself, the quicker I will get through the dark spots.

Embrace your own journey! It’s worth focusing on. You are worth it!

Seeing the Miracles

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Have you ever had a thought or idea and the very next second, hour, day, or week it re-emerges through another person’s mouth? Have you ever had someone tell you about a book, then hear it’s name multiple times? Have you read that book and knew that it was exactly what you needed to hear? Have you ever been inspired to take action and it leads to great opportunities? I love when that happens. I know I am on the right track, my prayers are being answered, and I AM exactly where I’m supposed to be. As many times as it has happened to me, I still feel the complete awe in the moment. Lately, it has been happening a lot.

Most mornings, I take a walk to get my day started. One day, I was listening to an Oprah and Deepak Chopra meditation as I walked around the lake. My mind was wandering into all these creative places. Next thing I knew, Deepak said the exact words that were just in my head. It happened again and again. I took the sign seriously,  I knew things were moving exactly the way that they were supposed to. A couple weeks later, I was inspired to start writing again.

Since I started this blog, two weeks ago, I kept getting more signs that I am moving in the right direction. I will have just written or posted, then I will read a message on the very thing I posted about, or someone will talk to me about something I just wrote. The Universe keeps opening up and expanding. I give give credit to operating out of a loving place instead of fear.

Nature is my way of knowing where my head is focused. If I can spot the beauty, I know my head is good. If I ignore it, my day is in trouble. Those are the days I’m operating in autopilot, fear, and/or anxiety. When I know I’m there, it is essential that I get outside, look out a window, or go to nature pictures on my computer. Miracles will never be seen in autopilot. Don’t forget to look up at the clouds and be in awe. Awe is where miracles are seen. When I do this, my signs are clear, my heart is open, and I am ready for a great day.

If you like what you’ve read, you can now find me on Facebook. Click on  From A Loving Place to bring daily inspiration to your feed.

Photo credit: Rachael Wolff

 

 

Discovering the Meaning of Love

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“My negativity was as destructive to me as alcohol is to the alcoholic. I was an artist finding my own jugular. It was as though I was addicted to my own pain.”

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love p. 9

Coming from a divorced home, it is not uncommon to have problems with intimate relationships. If there are challenges such as mental illness, addiction, workaholics, chronic pain, relationship issues, and/or financial struggles, whether a family is together or not, it can still contribute to problems with intimacy. No matter what the situation is, when there is trust and connection issues from childhood it tends to spill over to adulthood.

It is common to work our past issues out through our current relationships. I learned to effectively communicate with my mom in my teen years. My mom and I learned the language of speaking to each other in “I feel________ because_______” terms. We went to group therapy, which was a powerful tool. It helped me break the blaming cycle early on.  after I was able to step back and heal some of the old damage, I was able to heal, repair, and develop many positive female relationships without any added drama. I’m surrounded by those relationships today.

I tend to see the majority issues in two areas, with my kids and with men. My kids offer me so many tools in self exploration. They tend to show me the best and we will say “works in progress” on a daily basis. Before having kids, I promised myself I would get my act together before they became teenagers. My mom’s transformation had a giant impact on my life, but it was very hard in the early years because she had to put most the focus on her in order to be better for my sister and I in the long run. Her transformation began when I was around 13, so it left a lot of doors open for learning the hard way. I wanted to get a head start, I’m definitely a work in progress. Staying present is one of my biggest challenges in parenting. All I know is if I am present, I can hear their needs clearly.

As for men, when I was young, I would cling to the attention of them. I wanted to be loved so bad, but I had no concept of what love really was. My definition was warped and twisted. I thought boys wanting me sexually was healthy attention. I thought I needed to chase them and that sex equaled intimacy. I made a lot of unhealthy decisions in my quest for love. I even hurt other girls and women because I truly had no self-worth to think about how my behaviors would affect them. I would get jealous of what other girls/women had. I acted out accordingly.  I made a lot of amends in my late teens and early twenties.

I used to obsess about the romantic movies wanting that kind of Hollywood love story. I loved words, if a guy could say the right things, I would fall to his feet.  I had a string of short-lived relationships because I found that after the 6-month mark things changed and the story ended. The romantic words became less frequent and there was little to go on. I used to joke that the first person I lasted over 6-months with: I would marry. Guess what, I did. The problem was, I still didn’t know what love truly was. I didn’t know the effects of emotional abuse and how it masked itself as love. Before I became a mom, I went to a seminar about parenting. I learned the importance of language when communicating with children, and how saying things like, “You’re crazy”, “You’re stupid”, and “You’re lazy” labels them as a person and has lasting psychological effects. Changing the language and making a point not to label and make a comment such as, “You are acting silly” changes a lot. Now, take that to intimate relationships, how is it any different?

As important as words can be in this way, I had to learn that words mean nothing if there is no loving action behind them. Sweet words followed by fearful actions are a pathway to abuse, whether it is emotional or physical. It is not just abuse given or received to another person, it is the abuse we do to ourselves. Understanding my fears keeps me from acting them out on the people I love. Ignoring them and/or denying them is a time bomb waiting to go off.

When I was ready for a lesson in love, the door opened and I read a verse that I have seen and heard a million times:

(4) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. (7) It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(8) Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will com to an end. (9) For we know only in part, and we prophecy only in part; (10) but when the complete comes, the partial will com to and end.

-Corinthians 13.4-13.10, Harper Collins Study Bible (Student Edition) p. 1950

My house built on a foundation of fear crumbled to the ground. This was so much bigger than my problems with intimate relationships. It was a wake up call to how I treated myself, children, life, community, and world. When I started to believe in these words and concepts my life had a new purpose. They were not just words on paper anymore, they had life. They were everything that was right and wrong in the world. I started seeing oneness and becoming a lot more aware of ideas and groups that used separation as a tool to judge others. I found my judgements were all personal reflections and that love truly wasn’t about being right. That included the old concepts I believed about myself.

Am I going to always have the presence to act out of loving place? No! I’m human and far from perfect. I will be challenged time and time again. Will I do my best? Yes! Will I stop beating myself up when I fail? Yes, because that is an act of love. I only continue the cycle of fear when I keep the hate, fear, and self-loathing going. I choose to stop the cycle. Louise Hay has great table calendars, which help change the way we talk to ourselves. I have multiple days posted on my bathroom mirror, and I have made lots of gifts for friends with the past days (I just can’t imagine throwing them out). I find working with them in creative ways helps to keep their messages present within myself.

I knew, I wasn’t going to find this kind of love in another person until I could start to be this for myself. This wasn’t a small task, it took a lot of unlearning. This is not an overnight project, the more walls we hold onto the longer the process takes. I already had a head start with the work I had been doing. The journey and discovery is well worth the time I put in.

“Live in a good place. Keep your mind deep. Treat others well. Stand by your word. Make fair rules. Do the right thing. Work when it’s time.”

-Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Translation: Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo, #8

Leave room for mistakes, because they leave us with more opportunities to grow from a loving place. Peace to ALL!

If you want to come on this journey with me, visit me on Facebook and/or follow my blog.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

How I See Myself Reflects My World

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Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff

“The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.”

-Sonya Friedman

When I was young, I went to a private school in New England. No, my parents weren’t loaded. My mom worked for the school and made an agreement in order for my sister and I to attend. My experience at the school was mine alone. Though I came from a much different background, I didn’t see other people as better than me. I could be on a yacht celebrating a friend’s birthday one day, and the next day getting dirty in the woods. My family has never been financially rich. My parents became single parents when I was about 13. Both sides worked hard to keep up with their expenses. Yet, none of that affected how I compared myself to others.

Since I didn’t judge any financial lifestyle as good or bad, I have never been a person who judged people based on financial status. Not having money caused a few hiccups in my young life, such as not being able to go to the college I wanted, but it didn’t stop me. At 20, I began to develop sales training programs for the indoor tanning industry. I had no problem picking the brains of all the successful people I could get my hands on. With no barriers I rose quickly in the industry and ended up writing a sales column in a tanning magazine and training nationwide. By the time I was 28, I had been to all but 8 states. I didn’t think anything could stop me. My confidence in my abilities got me where I was. I was constantly developing my craft and looking for newer and better ways to help people understand the goldmine they were sitting on. I don’t know when it happened, but one day I realized I was starting to become a person I didn’t recognize.

Things slowly started to fall a part in my world. I didn’t realize I spent so much time building my career that I lost sight of what drove me to do what I was doing in the first place. I didn’t want people who cared about their beauty coming out like Magda from the movie, There’s Something About Mary. What I was doing stopped being about the consumer and all about how to make people more money. I slowly started sabotaging my career.

On September 9, 2001, I moved back to the town where I spent most of my middle and high school years. Two days later, my life took a drastic turn. The horror of 9/11 hit me so deep. I couldn’t stop watching the news and reading stories about what was going on. I was still traveling for work. On one of my final trips, I flew from Ft. Myers to Boston. When I arrived in Boston there were news cameras every where. The shoe bomber took the same route as I did the day before. It became harder and harder to get on a plane. When my boyfriend gave me an ultimatum that I needed to stop traveling or end things with him, I gave up my career.

As I looked back on these events, I saw how my perception of myself changed and how it changed my world. I started to get caught up in the drama. I spent hours reading tabloids and judging others’ lives, but I only did this because I wanted to avoid looking at my own. I isolated from most of my friends and succumbed to a world of negativity. I couldn’t connect to things that could pull me up, and believe me, I tried. I really didn’t want to have my kids grow up the way I was showing them.

I had to realize that I was creating my reality, and the world outside was only my reflection of what was going on inside. Once I got sick enough of myself, I prayed, and I began to change. Friends started to show up, space for self-care appeared, and job doing what I loved was quick to follow. I became involved with my son’s pre-school and soon volunteering turned to teaching. I stopped reading tabloids and watching T.V. that promoted non-stop drama. That is also the time I found AL-ANON, The Secret, Byron Katie, Wayne Dyer, Louise Haye, Eckhart Tolle, and Don Miguel Ruiz. My personal path began to unfold.

My outside world changed the healthier I got inside. Within a few years, I moved from a chaotic home life to a peaceful one. I went back to school. I began going on adventures with my kids. I became the person, I knew was buried inside. I stopped focusing on my future and past and learned to stay present.

The power that comes from our core is strong. If we attack our lives  from a fear based place it will show us time and time again how to live in fear. If we embrace life from a loving place, miracles happen. From a loving place, I can look at all my past lessons and see why I needed them to get me where I am. If I am coming from a fearful place, I become a victim of the world, my past, and my future. It was my choice to embrace the life that I did. People could tell me a million times over, what I SHOULD do. None of that matters, we all have our own journeys and gifts to offer the world. Each gift is special in it’s own right. I can’t tell you how many books I was told I should read, guess what: I read the ones I am meant to read to bring me where I am supposed to be. I learned a great concept in AL-ANON, “Take what you like, and leave the rest.” I keep that with me in all my dealings. It is a reminder that we all have our own journeys and it is not my place to judge anyone else’s, but when I do, I know I need to look at my life instead of theirs. My judging someone else is a reflection of my inner world, not theirs.

“If someone abuses you a little more than you abuse yourself, you will probably walk away from that person.”

“The more self-love we have, the less we will experience self-abuse.”

 Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements p. 20

Learning to love myself was the key to everything. I had to stop brutalizing myself and creating a world with horrible foundation. When my negative self-talk stopped, my world opened up. It came off in layers, and I know, without a doubt,  it will  be tested again to go deeper. My reactions to others is what helps me discover what I still need to work on. When I’m ready for a lesson, it will show up. If you are reading my posts and little seeds are passed, or it ignites you to make changes in your life, it is not because of me, it is because you were already ready when you read this. Trust your journey, when you keep your focus on making your insides better all of the outsides will improve. For the parents out there, we can only give our kids what we already have inside. If we want our children to value themselves, we must value ourselves first. The quote that inspires me to continue my self-care is:

“The most attractive thing about Buddha was that he’d 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

I provided links in case anyone was inspired to dig deeper. These are the tools that keep me out of other people’s business and keep me focused on what will help me live from an inspired place. I find that it is easy to get swept up by all the negativity in the world today, so it is important that I find ways to surround myself with solutions to keep me out of it. When I’m walking or driving, I listen to audiobooks to keep my head in the right place as I go through my day. We all create our own tool kits, just make sure you understand what you are trying to build. What do you want to feel on the inside? What do you want to project to the world? If you want something from your work or relationships, how do you become that for yourself first? Let it all unfold, time does not exist when I’m present and that is the only place I can fix what is broken and distorted.

10 Positive Lessons I Learned From my Parents

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“When you know and respect your own Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don’t belong.”

-Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh p. 41

1. Life is not always a family-friendly T.V. show. I grew up in a time where all families on T.V. looked perfect. They handled problems with ease, there was no yelling, dads were around/available, and no mom ever wanted to pull every single hair out of her head. My house did NOT look like that. Chaos was our way of life. That is not to say there wasn’t good times. When my parents were still together, we had a lot of family adventures that made a positive impact on my life. As a mother, I have taken that tradition with me. Our family adventures have gotten us through some very dark times. We go on nature adventures at least every other week, if not more. I learned that no family is perfect and T.V. is edited for our entertainment.

2. Staying in a toxic relationship is NOT better for my children. When I was about 11, I remember getting in the middle of one of my parents arguments. My dad was talking to my mom like she was stupid. I couldn’t take it! I jumped in to defend my mother. My father belittled my mother often. My mom rarely stood up for herself. I have always been an outspoken person, so I did not understand why she didn’t defend herself. When I was around 12, things started to change. My mom began to find herself and her voice. The dynamic in our house changed drastically! My dad and her relationship couldn’t survive the new shift and they both moved on. What I realized much later is that a toxic relationship takes two people. It can’t be toxic if one person is healthy and the other is not. There wouldn’t be a relationship, if that was the case. That goes for all relationships, not just romantic ones.

After my parents were divorced, they both did A LOT of work on themselves. My dad found a woman who was a great fit for him. His relationship with her looked nothing like the one with my mom. He never talked to her in a disrespectful tone. She would have left him in a heartbeat. He presented himself in a whole different light. His tenderness came out and he was fun and playful. I loved going over to visit for family dinners. They were more like parties. My sister and his partner’s two daughters would have friends over and it was always a pleasure. My dad stayed in that relationship until his death, so for 21 years he had the partner that was a great fit for him and it made a huge difference.

My mom took much longer to find the man she would end up building a life with. She wasn’t bitter about it. She was happy on her own. She worked hard on herself and it was because of her that I learned that anything was possible.  I never had to be stuck where I was. When my stepdad came along, I was able to see her growth on a whole different level.

I unconsciously chose to repeat the pattern of being in a toxic relationship when I decided to get married. We set up unhealthy roles for each other and it could get very ugly. Instead of building each other up and being the strength when the other went down, we both would go down together. Logically, I knew better. I had the experience of watching two very healthy, but different relationships. Unfortunately, I hadn’t healed the little girl inside yet. I needed to live out the lesson. I stopped focusing on trying to fix him and I started working on myself. I got stronger, I  figured out and I figured out what was important to me. The dynamic changed and he was not interested in the changes. He flat out didn’t like them. I realized that I was showing our children the same pattern. I was teaching my son how to treat women and my daughter how to be treated by a man. Staying wouldn’t have been good for any of us. My kids get to see the examples of healthy relationships all around them now. They were much younger than I was when my parents divorced. I hope it makes a difference in their choices of relationships. If it doesn’t, I know it is because there is something they need to learn for themselves.

3. Lead by EXAMPLE! This step is not as simple as it may seem. I came from the, “Do as I say, not as I do” generation. My mom wanted my sister and I to be filled with the self-esteem that she never had. Unfortunately, in my early years I didn’t have an example of how a healthy self-esteem looked. I struggled with low self-esteem and self-worth most of my life. I did have an example of how to fake it, I mastered. I dabbled in the example of drinking to cover up my feelings, that did not work! I hated the way that I felt the next day. Hearing stories about what I did was not what I called fun either. I sampled the yelling and belittling your spouse example, I felt horrible and it went against everything I wanted in a relationship.

After I worked on myself enough to see how I contributed to my unhealthy relationships, I was able to follow a better example. I followed the example of both my parents’ current relationships. Now, I have a peaceful and enjoyable relationship that encourages me to always be the best me I can be. Living life this way has opened my eyes in so many ways.

My kids learn from my example EVERY day, for better or worse. Once I became aware of that fact, I can see it all over the place. When my daughter is in a grocery store, she can spot a person who needs a smile, help, or sometimes even a hug. When my son sees another child sad, he is the first one to be there for them, whether he is their friend or not. When I’m driving and an obnoxious driver puts my and their lives at risk… let’s just say, I need to work on that one a little bit. I also get impatient when I am in the middle of a project and my mind is in a million different places. I can see my kids take it out on each other when I’m struggling with my patience. Sometimes, I have silent temper tantrums and my daughter acts them out loud. The good, bad, and the ugly. I found my kids’ behaviors are a great mirror for me to look at my own.

4. The ONLY person I can change is myself. After years of watching my parents trying to change each other, then years of watching them change themselves, I saw the possibilities for a better life. I can be stubborn, so it took me a few times in the same classrooms to figure this one out. I used to love taking on people projects with the intention of changing them for the better. I’m so sorry to any of my friends or past relationships for this one. I get it now!! I do not know what the best answer is for someone else life. That is their job. If I’m asked for advice, I share from my experience, but I make it clear that a person needs to do what is best for them and only he/she has the final say on that one. We are all here learning, no one is perfect and we all have different lessons to live out in order to get us to where we are going. I wouldn’t want to wish some of my lessons on anyone, but I’m grateful for each of them.

My mom taught me that I can change myself at any moment and that it takes work. In order to change, I have to get rid of habits that don’t serve the life that I want to have. The more in-tune I am with myself, the better my life gets.

As a parent, I love being able to pass this on. It helps me so much when my kids are going through their life lessons with friends, family, and at school. Including, being apart of the new culture of education.  I do not except “I hate…”, “I can’t…”, or “It’s not me…”. I re-focus them on what they can change and how to come up with different ways to look at the situation to help them feel better about it. Does this method always work? No, I do the best I can. My goal is to plant the seed. When they are ready, it will be there.

5. Nobody can MAKE me feel anything! My mom learned this when I was 13! Do you know what that meant for how my teenage years looked? I couldn’t blame my mother for any of my feelings. That sucked! LOL. I had no idea at the time learning this would be the core of my empowerment. My feelings and actions are my own. I can choose to come at something from a loving place or a fearful place at any moment. I can even change my mind half way through, but it is my choice and my power! No one can take that away from me.

We practice this in my household daily. It can get downright comical especially when it’s me who gives another person the power over my feelings. I remember the first time my son said to me, “but Mom, I can’t make you feel anything.” He was right, as mad as I might be my anger is my choice. When I react from that place of hurt, it’s not productive for anyone. If I react from a place of love, positive change will follow.

6. Pedestals are DANGEROUS! Like most, my parents were the first people I put on pedestals. Putting them up there made them superhuman in my mind. When I got let down, they both fell. Through my life, I put all kinds of people up on those superhuman pedestals and one by one they all fell leaving me feeling lost. I’ve also watched other people put me on a pedestal and watched myself  fall so hard that I felt like death would be a better option than the disappointment that I caused somebody else. Nobody is perfect and deserves to be over another human being. We are all here to learn so it means we will all fall and get back up again a million times. I’m not better than anyone else for going through what I’ve been through, and I’m also not less than anyone else either.

I love looking at people I admire and strive to practice some of the skills they have mastered, but where they are strong in one area they may have weakness in others, just like the rest of us. I don’t expect any of the people I learn from to be perfect. I know I will get what I’m meant to get from them and then I will be off to the next lesson. I just like my internal garden to be full of seeds, that way when I need them to grow, I start doing the work to make those flowers bloom.

7. What’s right for me will not be what is right for someone else. When my parents found new partners their relationships were very different. My dad and his partner lived together for 21 years and never got married. I lovingly call her “My Other Mother”. They had a wonderful relationship and did things very differently from the way my mom and dad did. They worked and lived together. They were best friends in every way. They never spoke a harsh word to each other. They understood how to give each other their own space in a loving and productive way.

My mom and stepdad had a very fast courtship and were married within a year. They have been married for 19 years and they have a loving, romantic, and communicative relationship. Since I live with them, I get to see more than most. I have great respect for the way they communicate with each other and share their love.

These two relationships couldn’t be more different in certain ways, but they both have strong values and morals that make them work in successfully. Between these two examples, I have come to realize that it is important for me to make the choices that are best for me.  I also have learned that just because I don’t want a relationship with yelling and screaming, that doesn’t mean that it’s for me to judge relationships that like their passionate debates or fights.  Some of my friends love the making up process and that is their journey.

This doesn’t just pertain to relationships with people, it also covers career choices, educational paths, parenting methods, and overall living the life that I want to live.  The most important thing is that I’m clear about what I want and that I’m not putting my energy into the things that I don’t.

8. I AM a whole person all by myself! I learned this from my mom during her single years. She was single for about a decade after my parents got divorced. She got to the point where she had no problem being alone. If that was the life she was destined to have, she was happy with that. She wasn’t defined by anyone’s love for her. She was enjoying her journey as a single woman. She met my stepdad through a friend and their relationship bloomed quickly. Even as long as they have been together, she still has her own life too. Her self care is important to her, and he respects her space. He also has his own life and enjoys his time outside of their relationship.

My relationship looked nothing like that when I was married, and I resented it. We didn’t have a mutual respect for each other and when we did go out separately, we were both questioning what the other was doing. It was very sad. I had no idea that codependency was a large part of my problem. I was so focused on wanting him to have the best life, I stopped looking at my own. Then, I resented him for it. I was just as much responsible for setting up that dynamic as he was. When I realized my part of the responsibility, I made the necessary changes to take care of myself. After I left him, I was very happily single for about a year.

I have never had a problem being alone. I’m an extrovert with plenty of friends and family to keep me entertained for years to come. I was taking good care of myself when I started dating again, but I still had a ways to go before I was ready for a healthy relationship. I came to the point that I was 100% happy on my own, my life was not lacking in ANY way. My current relationship is the healthiest relationship I have ever been in, because I am the healthiest I have ever been. I still have plenty of room for growth opportunities, but it is so much better when there is a matching level of respect. I know that I am whole without him and that he is whole without me. We enjoy each other and everyday is an adventure.

9. Blaming others is a waste of my energy. I am who I am because of the lessons I’ve learned. There is no room for blame. My mom and dad did the best they could. I still was dealt some lessons that were painstakingly hard. I am here, I survived. Now, I have more to give because I didn’t let any of the them keep me down. I experienced what I needed to in order to be the person I am now.

Taking personal responsibility is key. I had to learn to question my part. I still struggle and I still face challenges. There is also a very fine line with taking personal responsibility and self-abusing. I used to hit myself with so many “bad me” bats that it could make a person’s head spin. It took me a long time to realize that blaming myself was just as much a waste of my energy as  blaming someone else.

I choose to follow examples of people who didn’t waste their time with blame.  We have so many powerful  figures in our history such as Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, Mother Theresa, and so many more living and dead.

10. It is not my business what other people think of me! My mom’s favorite things to say when referring to this is, “Oh well” or “whatever”. I love it now, I hated it as a teenager. She was a great example for me to NOT focus on doing things for someone else’s benefit. When I was a sales trainer, she had to talk me through many rough times when I was starting out. Eventually, I learned that some people will love me, hate me, or be indifferent to me. I will touch the lives I am meant to, in whatever way I’m meant to do it.

I have learned as much from the people who I let trigger  my anger and rage as I do from the people who I let trigger my love and compassion. Some people will love my voice and others will downright detest it. That’s ok, I will continue to live the life I do from a loving place.

Final note: Since this is a blog, I know I just grazed the surface on the lessons I learned. If you want to hear more about a particular topic, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to expand my thoughts in another blog.