Breaking Toxic Patterns: Why Do I Keep Doing this to Myself?

Why Won’t These Seeds Thrive?

Trying and Failing to Make My Internal Garden Thrive

I lived in the darkness for a long time pretending to love, but I wasn’t capable. I read book after book, went to multiple therapists, and would even go to seminars trying to find the help I needed. I kept searching for an outside source to fix an inside problem. I could live motivated for short stretches, but deep down I was living the fake it until you make itapproach, but the make it just wouldn’t come. I thought I had it, then bang! I would sabotage my happiness once again. I thought I was ready to plant all the amazing seeds I would get, but my ground wasn’t fertile enough for the seeds to thrive. I would try, but I didn’t know how to feed, nurture, and sustain them. They may have looked pretty on top of the ground for a little while, but the roots were weak, so they just couldn’t survive on my toxic foundation. Something lurking underneath was killing every flower and tree I was trying to plant. I needed to figure out why.

Just like the internal garden I was trying to create, my outer self could look great on the surface for short periods of time, but because my roots weren’t strong, I would eventually begin to crumble. I would move before others could see my decent into madness. In my new location, I once again would plant the seeds I had picked up along the way. Then would sabotage myself again. 

Toxic relationships were my drugs of choice for a long time. They were the way I could keep myself right where I was comfortable. I didn’t know it at the time, but the chaos was my comfort zone.  I knew that if I could see why I kept repeating this pattern, I would find the source of this toxic muck corroding my foundation.

If you are noticing the definition of insanity in my words, you are getting the message. I kept trying to do the same thing, and I expected different results because I was in a new location. Some refer to this as a geographical cure—An outside fix trying to repair an inside problem. 

How Do I Plant these Damn Seeds to Make them Thrive?

Digging Into My Own Toxic Muck to Fix the Problem at the Source

I was in my thirties before I started to change my patterns to create a new reality. It took me becoming a shell of a person before I would be ready to fully surrender to get better. I couldn’t just plant the seeds, I had to fix, repair, and nurture the ground. I needed to come face to face with the woman in the mirror looking back at me and dig down to see where the source was for this toxic muck. The digging took years; not days, weeks, or months. This didn’t mean there wasn’t progress. My life was definitely changing for the better the more I was willing to REALLY face myself and clean up my own mess. The more I did this, doors would open and others would close. I was on the path to making a garden that would thrive.

My path led me to a college that couldn’t have been a better fit. I learned so much about myself in the 4-½ years it took me to get my degree. The experiences I had with the classes, professors, and other students would help me to have the energy to keep doing the work to fix my foundation. I received more and more seeds I wanted to plant. 

It took a lot of lessons for me to find out the answer was to dig further down into this toxic foundation. I had to find out why I kept attracting men and getting into relationships with individuals who were unhealthy. I needed to look at why I wanted to rescue them. I had to dig deep to get to the bottom of this toxic root. It was the weed that kept strangling all the beauty I would try to grow in my garden.

What Will I Find at the Source of These Toxic Patterns?

Through the Layers of Digging

  1. I saw that I wanted to feel needed.
  2. I learned everything I could about co-dependency.
  3. Digging deeper, I saw that I wanted to feel needed because I lacked self-worth and had a horrible self-concept.
  4. I began to look into the mirror and figure out what I didn’t like about myself.
  5. Going down even deeper, I found that I felt unlovable.
  6. I had to face why I felt unlovable, and that was digging down to the core of my toxic foundation. I found the source, which came from the shame that was buried and hidden under all the layers of guilt, anger, rage, resentment, fear, hate, chaos, confusion, and separation. 
  7. I started doing the work to have a loving relationship with myself.

What Did I Discover?

I’m Happy I Decided to Get Dirty and Do the Work

Digging down to the core took years, but as I faced layer after layer, life would improve and seeds would start growing into flowers. As my energy became aligned with the garden I wanted to create, I understood what I needed to feed and nurture the seeds to make them thrive—LOVE!

This wasn’t about receiving love from the outside world. This was about understanding that I had to feed the seeds my love, and I only could do that by loving myself. Anytime I spoke to myself in a disrespectful way, I was pouring poison onto my land. When I chose to focus my energy on forgiving and loving myself, my land became fertile ground. My garden began to thrive and I started attracting more sources to nurture and feed my garden. I was finally capable to fully love others authentically, because I could love myself. I stopped laying down for people to walk on me. I stopped accepting unacceptable behavior, because I love myself enough to know my value. I live abundantly in my internal world, and I do the work daily to stay there.

Who Is Attracted to My Life Now?

Appreciating the Individuals Who Cross my Path

The people who are attracted to the garden I’ve created aren’t looking to steal from it, they are asking for seeds, which I lovingly give out. People also come into my life offering new seeds. Some I accept lovingly, others I may realize are strangling vines, so I say no thank you and move on. No one can plant a seed in my garden without my permission. If I mistake a strangling vine for a flower, it’s my job to dig the seed up from the root to find out why it found a place to grow in my garden. If we waste energy blaming, we will avoid finding the solution, because blame is just an excuse to stop digging.

Are You Looking for a Seed?

Just like me, others have to go on their own journeys of learning what it will take to let their gardens thrive the way they want them to. If you are reading this looking for a seed; the best advice I can give is to be open to go deep and pay attention to the signs along the way.  Keep praying for help in seeing signs and learning the lessons to uncover the answers. You are worth it! Be prepared to get dirty. We all have what it takes to create beautiful gardens; we just have to be willing to do the work.

With Love and Gratitude, 

Rachael Wolff ©2019

If this journey resonates with you, I hope you will explore FromALovingPlace.com and check out my upcoming book, Letters from A Better Me: How Becoming an Empowered Woman Transforms the World. When we become our best selves, we change the world around us for the better. 

90-Day A Better Me Series: Day 78 – Using Self-Reflection When We Are Triggered

90-Day A Better Me Series

Part III: Living the Journey

Making the Now Count: Rebuilding our Lives

Day 78: Using Self-Reflection When We Are Triggered

“Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.”

-Baltasar Gracian

One of the best tools I ever received about how to become a better me through my relationships with others was by looking at others like a mirror. If a person triggers us—There’s a connection. Sometimes we are connecting to a part of ourselves that we don’t like, haven’t accepted, and/or hasn’t healed. People are our doorways to personal growth. Sometimes the person reminds us of someone from the past who we felt hurt by and that pain hasn’t healed so we take it out on the person we are interacting with now. These unhealed parts of us are creating toxic build-up within our bodies and our energy fields. Whatever way we cut it, if we emotionally react to someone else’s behavior it is affecting energy inside of us. No one is responsible for that energy but the person looking back at us in the mirror. The people who trigger us are our teachers. We have something important to learn from the interaction, and it’s not about the person’s behavior and/or words. It’s about our reactions to their behaviors and/or words. They are the storytellers of their own stories, and that isn’t our business. Our business is what is happening inside of us and how we are projecting our energy out into the world.

Once we are clear with what is going on inside of us, it makes it possible to have healthy communications with others. Even if they decide to stay in their darkness—We have the power to bring our light to the situation. In order to get there, we must first self-reflect.  Self-reflection is the only way we can decipher what is our stuff and what is their stuff. Once we know that—Life becomes so much less dramatic. Oh, and if you have kids, they are GREATteachers! Kids can get us to go DEEP into our self-reflection pond if we are open enough to REALLY look at ourselves.

“The greatest of faults, is to be conscious of none.”

-Thomas Caryle

20 Questions to Help You Dig Into Self-Reflection When You’re Triggered

  1. What characteristics about this person are creating me to have a negative reaction?
  2. Do I see any of those characteristics in myself?
  3. Do I see any of those characteristics in a person from my past?
  4. Is my reaction REALLY about the person in front of me?
  5. Why is what this person is doing or saying right now affecting me negatively?
  6. What qualities do I like about this person?
  7. Do I sense any jealousy or envy within me about what they have, what they do, whom they are connected to, and/or how they communicate?
  8. Is the person I’m interacting with being her/himself and I’m reacting because I’m expecting them to act differently than she/he is capable?
  9. Are my expectations of others really my expectations of myself that I’m falling short on?
  10. Is it my place to judge someone else’s journey?
  11. Who’s stuff am I reacting to—Theirs or mine?
  12. Do I have the power to change the other person? NO—The answer is ALWAYS NO.
  13. Do I have the power to change my perspectives? YES—The answer is ALWAYS YES.
  14. Is my reaction causing my tightness, discomfort, and pain? If so, is what I’m feeling serving me?
  15. How can I change my thinking to move myself to operating from a loving place inside?
  16. How does this exchange have the power to help heal past wounds?
  17. How can I help myself to stay in a place of peace while interacting with this person?
  18. Can I communicate/act from a loving place in this moment? If not, silence is the best option.
  19. Am I representing the energy I want to project out into the world in this moment?
  20. What actions can I take to shine my light in the darkness of this person’s words and/or actions?

Just keep in mind, we are NEVER responsible for the energy of others, but we are ALWAYS responsible for the energy we are putting out into the world through our feelings, thoughts, perspectives of truth, and actions. Self-reflection is the only way we can heal our energy and make sure we are projecting the loving energy we want to manifest out and reflect back to us. We reap what we sow.Make sure you are holding yourself accountable for your reactions to others. When we master our triggers—We know internal peace. Only then can we manifest peace around us. This is the path to becoming the change we want to see in the world around us. We can’t fix what’s outside of us, until we are operating from the best place inside of us.

 

With Love and Gratitude,

 

Rachael Wolff ©2019

Don’t forget to read today’s companion piece: 90-Day A Better Me Letters Series: Day 78 – I’m Triggered! Using Self-Reflection to Heal My Energy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

90-Day A Better Me Letters Series: Day 73 – Constructing My Self-Care Regimen

Letters from A Better Me

90-Day A Better Me Letters Series

Part III: Living the Journey

Making the Now Count: Rebuilding our Lives

Day 73: Constructing My Self-Care Regimen

Dear Self,

I’m taking the time to construct my self-care regimen by going through what I use to help me in different areas of my life. Once I’ve done this, I will figure out how to make time for the tools on a daily basis to continuously help me appreciate and improve my life and my relationships with others.

  1. How am I taking care of my connection to my spiritual life and beliefs? I take time to connect everyday with my gratitude with prayer, gratitude lists, free writing, letter writing, meditation, listening to music, and/or embracing nature. I also connect to other’s in my spiritual community.
  2. How am I taking care of quieting my mind? I use meditation, yoga, nature, breathing exercises, mindfulness meditations, get enough sleep, listen to instrumental or chanting music, and/or practicing presence
  3. How am I taking care of accepting myself in the mirror? I use positive self-talk, affirmations, letter writing, and/or gratitude for what my body does for me.
  4. How am I taking care of my body and organs? I get enough sleep, yoga, dance, walking, drinking lemon water in the morning, water throughout the day, drinking fruit/vegetable smoothies, eating nutritious foods, occasional cleanses, and/or quieting my mind to listen to what my body needs. I also write love letters to my body for loving me and taking care of me on my journey.
  5. How am I checking in with my perspectives of truth (Days 42-46) to make sure they are working in my life? If a perspectives cause me pain, worry, anxiety, depression, fight or flight response, rage, and/or vengefulness, I question what I believe and come up with different ways I can think about the situation. I write letters to help me write new stories. Then I practice applying new perspectives of truth that bring me more peace.
  6. How am I showing myself love? I practice self-care regularly, do things I love to do, get enough sleep, practice positive self-talk, give myself quality time, write myself letters, and take care of my body, mind, and soul.
  7. How am I showing myself respect? I take care of my mind, body, and spiritual self. I have healthy boundaries with others. I honor the person I am. I do the best I can in each moment. I put the oxygen mask on myself first, then I assist others.I take time to breathe. I write myself letters.
  8. How am I investing in my quality time with myself? I go for walks in nature, watch sunsets, write from my heart, do yoga, read, and/or dance.
  9. How do I feed my mind? I read, research, solve puzzles, come up with creative solutions, talk to people who believe differently than I do, and/or try to understand something I didn’t before.
  10. How do I practice presence? I meditate, focus on spots in nature, actively listen to the people I’m with, enjoy what I’m doing, practice mindfulness, or live gratitude.
  11. How do I live gratitude? Write gratitude lists, practice seeing gratitude in day-to-day activities, use gratitude in challenging situations, look to nature with gratitude, look at the love in my life,nd/or meditate with a guided meditation focused on gratitude.
  12. How do I take care of myself in the presence of other’s darkness (fear, anger, rage, resentment, jealousy, envy)? I remind myself, I don’t have to engage in the energy that they are. I take space to strengthen my own energy. I pray for protection from their dark energy. I pray for them to find some light. I pray for guidance in how I communicate with the person if I have to. I take deep breaths to stay calm and peaceful. I laugh with friends. I write letters that I don’t send to properly process what is going on inside of me.
  13. How do I take care of myself in the presence of my own darkness (fear, anger, rage, resentment, jealousy, envy)? I pray, write in my gratitude journal, take deep breaths, practice mindfulness to quiet my mind, write letters of encouragement to myself,  walk, and/or DANCE.
  14. How do I take care of myself when I’m feeling depleted? I get rest, quiet my mind, do yoga, write something inspirational, write letters, sit outside, make time to play, and/or spend time laughing with friends.
  15. How do I take care of myself when I’m feeling a lack (loss, grief, disappointment)? Write down as many things I can be grateful for as possible! I question the perspectives of truth I’m engaging in and I write out as many positive perspectives I can look at instead. I write letters about how I’m abundant in my life. I focus on love instead of grief, opening doors instead of closing ones, and change instead of stagnation. I also pray and work to connect with Source energy.

With this list, I will take the items that can be used to handle multiple areas and work them into my daily self-care regimen. I will look at where I use some of the tools to take care other items on the list and be conscious of where my head is to see how I can best serve myself in the moment. I know I have the tools to live my best life.

Today I’m Grateful

  1. I’m grateful that I have the tools to live my best life.
  2. I’m grateful for my realization of how to better manage my self-care.
  3. I’m grateful for having the time to invest in my own care.
  4. I’m grateful for my ability to help others when I’m taking care of myself.
  5. I’m grateful for how I feel when I take care of myself.

 

With Love and Gratitude,

 

A Better Me

 

Rachael Wolff ©2019

Side note: This letter is not edited intentionally. This list isn’t about being grammatically correct; it’s about just writing out tools however they come out. You can add to sections, delete, and add some more. You want to see the overlap in what you can do on a daily basis to handle multiple items of self-care. Those are the ones you want to implement first.

Don’t forget to read today’s companion piece: 90-Day A Better Me Series: Day 73 – Constructing A Self-Care Regimen

90-Day A Better Me Series: Day 73 – Constructing A Self-Care Regimen

90-Day A Better Me Series

Part III: Living the Journey

Making the Now Count: Rebuilding our Lives

Day 73: Constructing A Self-Care Regimen

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings you joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

-Jean Shinoda Bolen

In this 90-Day A Better Day Series, I’ve given a lot of suggestions about self-care. We each have to choose what items of self-care resonate with us, because a self-care regimen, routine, or ritual will only work if we are connecting to the process of doing the activity. I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried a lot and I mean a lot of things in my life because people told me it would make me feel better. It could be about how to practice my faith, eating, drinking, dieting, exercising, meditating, mindfulness, positive affirmations, lifestyle, prayer, gratitude, mindset, weight loss, etc. No matter how good something has worked for my life or anyone else’s, you have to come up with your own regimen. No two regimens will ever look exactly the same and not any two people doing them will get the exact same results. As I’ve said before, I don’t expect everyone to do what I did and get the same exact results, because each of us has our own unique journey. Here are a few examples:

  • One person drinks lemon water everyday and it improves their digestive health. Another person may have an adverse reaction from the acid in the lemon and have digestive problems because of it.
  • One person may use nature therapy to help them reach levels of mindfulness and peace within themselves. Another person’s fears may create so much anxiety that triggers fight or flight response.
  • One person does a hard-core exercise routine and she/he feels alive and energized. Another person may not like the feelings that come after that level of exercise, so it doesn’t benefit her/his overall well-being, because that feeling could be their body giving them a signal that that is too much.

A self-care program won’t work if you aren’t invested in doing it or it doesn’t feel right for you. I’ve gone through many regimens and I change them up if I don’t feel the effectiveness of a particular one anymore. What is important is that I give time to self-care. I do my best to trust myself to help me to figure out what I need at any given time, while making sure that my intentions aren’t blocking the results I’m looking to achieve. Numbing ourselves with drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, games, social media, binge watching, etc. isn’t apart of self-care. They are contributors to self-destruction. I’m not talking about moderation. There is a difference, and it is a fine line—Self awareness is KEY!

15 Questions to Help You Construct Your Personal Self-Care Regimen

  1. How am I taking care of my connection to my spiritual life and beliefs?
  2. How am I taking care of quieting my mind?
  3. How am I taking care of accepting myself in the mirror?
  4. How am I taking care of my body and organs?
  5. How am I checking in with my perspectives of truth (Days 42-46) to make sure they are working in my life?
  6. How am I showing myself love?
  7. How am I showing myself respect?
  8. How am I investing in my quality time with myself?
  9. How do I feed my mind?
  10. How do I practice presence?
  11. How do I live gratitude?
  12. How do I take care of myself in the presence of other’s darkness (fear, anger, rage, resentment, jealousy, envy)?
  13. How do I take care of myself in the presence of my own darkness (fear, anger, rage, resentment, jealousy, envy)?
  14. How do I take care of myself when I’m feeling depleted?
  15. How do I take care of myself when I’m feeling a lack (loss, grief, disappointment)?

“Self-care is how you take your power back.”

-Lalah Delia

This list can give you ideas of what to implement into your daily routines. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to-do a list of things that are all new all at once. Take some things you are already doing and then try a couple new things at a time. If they work for 90 days and you want to add some more, do it. If what you were doing doesn’t seem to fit, try something else. Just don’t beat yourself up if things fall off. Trust that you are getting exactly what you need to get in this moment. When you are open to take on more, you will MAKE the space to fit more in your life. Just keep caring for yourself. Don’t forget how important you are.  Everything in life will run much smoother if we are committed to our self-care.

Today’s Letter from A Better Me in the 90-Day A Better Me Letters Series: Day 73 – Constructing My Self-Care Regimen will take you through my process of answering all the above questions. I highly suggest writing your own letter to yourself as a way of planting the seed to make sure it takes root.

With Love and Gratitude,

 

Rachael Wolff ©2019

 

 

3 Powerful Lessons I learned about the Law of Attraction

Along the road of self-discovery, I have stumbled across 3 jewels in understanding the law of attraction. I had to go through some very hard lessons to find them, but under all the muck and gruel, there they were; little diamonds. When I first learned about the Law of Attraction, I didn’t understand the POWER my the choices, emotions, thinking, and  all the patterns that came with them.

1. Power of Prayers

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Each prayer attracts lessons and/or blessings. How we pray is important to what we will attract. Every inner conversation has the same power as a prayer. Be careful of the energy that is being put in. If we pray from a place of “not enough”, we will create a life that is not enough, and/or be exposed to lessons that give us the opportunity to see that we are enough; life is enough; the world is enough. The lessons will give us the opportunity to change or submit to the messages we are telling ourselves. When we enter prayer with loving energy, we are blessed in some way. The key is we have to stay present to spot the blessings. If we do that, more and more will be brought to us.

When we pray for the people who hurt us, we are sending a love into the darkness. The more loving energy we can send out, the more we invite into our lives. This shows up by noticing that the negative people start to fade away, and they take a back row seat in our lives. When we wish no evil on anyone, no evil energy can penetrate us. When we wish evil and feel hate we are apart of the same energy we are fighting against. It is counterproductive. When we pray with compassion, we are helping to heal the world.

When prayer is out of desperation, because we are in physical, mental, and/or emotional pain it is VERY IMPORTANT to watch our prayers. We are in the midst of a powerful lesson; how we pray matters. We have challenges to overcome. We may ask to be healed, but the healing may be in a different way than we thought about. Part of our purpose might be that we have a physical ailment, emotional and/or mental challenge, or a disease. Our purpose may be about spreading awareness, finding a cure, or overcoming mental anguish around our ailment. We have NO idea! This is where I learned to change my prayers. I started asking for help:

  • Fulfilling my purpose
  • Understanding the lesson
  • Healing my thoughts
  • Doing the next right thing
  • Focusing on things to be grateful for
  • Finding reasons to love myself and others

Changing my prayers in these simple ways has transformed my prayers and the power behind them. Now they are focused on what I truly want to attract to my life.

2. Being Aware of Inner/Outer Dialog

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The Power of Can’t

I laugh at myself every time I say can’t.  Don’t want to try and/or don’t want to do it is more accurate. Can’t is attracting energy in two different ways:

  • Using the word and language of can’t establishes limitations on what we CAN do. It sets up an invisible force field on what we will allow and/or attract to our lives. It gives us an excuse not to focus our energy on how to bring the possibility to our lives.
  • Focusing on the energy of can’t may bring some challenging lessons in what we can do. When people use phrases such as, “I can’t survive this”, “I can’t make this work”, and “I can’t live without…” it also may be asking the Universe to give us a lesson in showing us exactly what we are capable of doing and/or handling. These hurt to go through, but they have been my greatest gifts when I am ready to look at them from a loving perspective. These lessons are about what we want in the bigger picture. If we are asking to be stronger, braver, wiser, and in service to humanity, we need these lessons to show us how.

Avoiding the Thought of Never

When we put out the energy of Never it WILL have a lesson, because we are focusing on a negative energy. When we say, I will never be with a cruel, unhealthy, negative or abusive person, we are focusing on the energy that will bring them to our lives. She/he may present his/herself in a different kind of relationship than they did before, but the relationship will show up if we don’t change the dialog.

Focusing on What We Don’t Want

It is extremely important to focus on what we DO want. If we find ourselves saying, I don’t want… I don’t want him/her to do… I don’t need this in my life. Oh boy, watch out; get ready for a very bumpy road ahead. Sometimes we need to be challenged in order to see what we do want. Be grateful for the lesson, forgive them and yourself, and move on. If we choose to stay in the negative energy, we will repeat the same patterns and lessons until we get it. This can last a lifetime for some people. It is up to us how long we want the same lesson to last. Breaking patterns and attracting loving energy takes practice and a lot of work. Depending on how long we have been embedded in the negative energy, we may feel out of our element for some time, but keep the faith. Every time we hear ourselves saying or focusing on what we don’t want, we have an opportunity to look at it in a new way. We have to find the words and mantras that give power to what we do want.

3. Investing Time in the Right Places

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When presented with life’s challenges, we have a choice. We can put our time into the problem or the solution. If we truly want to learn from our circumstances and transform the energy into something better, we HAVE to invest our time wisely. If we are obsessing about the wrongs of others and ourselves, we are not helping anyone. We are attracting more of that energy to our lives.

If we know, we don’t want an abusive person or something negative in our lives, question what that looks like. What does a healthy person like? What do healthy people do? How do they treat others? How do they talk to their parents, friends, co-workers, and family? Really dive in and figure it out. Research healthy relationships if you don’t know what they look like. How do healthy people communicate? How do they express feelings? What love language do they speak? There are plenty of resources out there. This will transform you into becoming a person that another healthy person would be attracted to. We will always attract the energy we are putting out.

We need to invest our time in the energy we want to be attracting to our lives. Here are a few ways I have taken the initiative and invested my time and energy into the blessings I want to attract to my life.

  1. Gratitude lists
  2. A Can collage: This is a jar or can, focusing on the energy of what I CAN do. I cut out words from magazines that described the person I want to be and what I want to contribute to the world. I glued them all over the can inside and out. Then I write myself notes: I need to work on… I am proud of myself for… I want to learn about… I am doing ________ in order to reach my goals.
  3. Vision Board: If we are visual learners it is important to see what our vision is. I cut out pictures of the lifestyle I want to attract. My inner dialog must match my vision if I will be successful in attracting outer goals.
  4. Read, watch, and focus on the subjects that will help me focus on the life I want. I love audiobooks, books, blogs, and positive messages to keep me focused on the energy I want to attract. It would be really easy right now with the bombings, politics, educational systems, prejudices, and hate to focus on the problems, but it doesn’t fix the energy that is creating the problems. I have to face those things with love or I’m contributing to the what I don’t want. Focusing on the negative energy will only create more. I try to figure out how to focus on love to come up with solutions to spread a more loving energy. I only can give what I have inside. I need to make it count!
  5. Lists: I make list of what I want and make sure everything is in the affirmative. If all I know is what I don’t  want, I think about what the opposite looks like. The lists help me figure out what healthier choices and thoughts look like and they help me to shift my language and behaviors.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

Please check out other articles on FromAlovingPlace.com , and join me on facebook.com/fromalovingplace (click on the red words to get to the sites mentioned). Let’s focus on meeting life’s lessons from a loving place!  I hope you will join me on this adventure. Please feel free to like the page on Facebook and send me a message. I would love to hear from you!

 

5 Lessons in Personal Growth

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On the journey of self discovery there are some key elements we learn on the way, but we don’t always read about them in books. We all have our own journey and our own landscape to develop. We have our own personal taste to account for. Not everyone’s garden looks the same. We each have our own ideas on what looks right together and how we want it to flow. It is not our business to judge other’s journeys. Enjoy the landscape you create and let others have room to develop their own. You will have plenty of opportunities to give people seeds, it is up to them if they want to use them. A few things seem to be the same for all personal growth. After many attempts in breaking old patterns and developing new ones, here is what I have learned:

1. Personal Growth is a Process

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When we are ready to change, we tend to jump in with both feet and expect drastic results in a short period of time. This is NOT how it works. Personal growth is much like the process of planting a seed. First, you have to obtain the seed, then you have to find good soil to plant it in, then it takes a combination of care techniques to get it to grow properly. Some plants and/or trees need direct sun, and others need indirect sun. Every plant needs water, but some require less than others. We are as unique as the varieties of plants and trees that grow in the Earth. The process takes time. Just like any other type of life form, when we are sick, it takes us time to heal. We have to allow ourselves the time to form healthier habits and break old patterns. Some of the patterns have been embedded for generations. That requires a lot of undoing and changing of patterns. Give yourself time, be patient, and understand the process is different for everybody. Different methods will work for different people. The best way to know which way will help is to sample many different ways of learning. The ones that feel right will work for as long as they are supposed to, then it will be time to try something else. Some, like water for a plant, will remain essential, others will be able to fade away and change.

Doing too much at once is never a good idea. We tend to burn out and the seed can’t be brought to life. It takes awhile for unhealthy patterns to take hold, and it takes awhile to grow into healthier patterns, routines and habits. The process may seem slow, but think about the amount of time it takes to grow a garden from scratch or how long it takes for a tree to stand tall. Allow yourself the time to break one unhealthy pattern at a time while strengthening  the positive attributes you already have within you. Stay present in the process, it is the greatest gift of the journey.

2. Everything We Read, See, and Hear is a Seed

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We are given tons of seeds throughout the day. We choose which ones to keep and which ones to toss out. The longer we hold onto them, the more eager we are to collect more that will grow with the ones we already have. When we are given seeds of hate agendas, we can choose to plant them or throw them out. The most important thing to know, it’s our choice! We don’t have to plant every seed that is given to us, the stronger we become on this journey, the less we will plant. We will discover over time that we are in control of how things affect our lives. Be watchful about what seeds you are holding onto. When we put too much energy into them, they will begin to grow.

3. Everything We Say, Write, Think, and Do is Planting the Seed

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This is an important lesson, and one not to be taken lightly. We are the only ones who have control over which seeds are planted and which ones grow. We can choose loving ones or fearful ones at any moment. No actions come without benefits and consequences. We need to take responsibility for the seeds we plant. That includes the ones that were given to us by abusers, racists, narcissists, and overall miserable people. We can choose to believe and feed the hate and lies or we can rise above. Some people thrive on feeding us seeds of hate. Industries make fortunes on it, some want us to hate ourselves and others want us to hate others. Our reaction is we get the choice to plant it or throw it away. When we can see the person with compassion and forgiveness, we are throwing hateful seeds away and planting loving ones. When we are reacting in fear and hate we are holding onto it; we are planting that seed. The stories we tell our friends and family, is planting our seeds and giving seeds to them. What seeds do you want to give to your loved ones?

4. The Energy We Put Into Upkeep Determines the Health of Our Garden

IMG_2897Self-talk is the key! It all starts with the messages we are feeding ourselves. It will determine if we are going to grow seeds from love or fear. Our internal hate messages can grow some ugly gardens, filled with weeds, strangling plants, and poisons. If we are hurtful on the inside we are giving the people around us the seeds from our personal gardens. We are blaming, shaming, and overall spreading pain. We all have combinations of species both healthy for the life in our garden and/or destructive. Which one has the majority in your mind? The more we can treat ourselves with love, the more seeds of love we have to give out. We all know what spreading hate looks like, but do we truly understand how much power we give it by engaging in it?

Healthy seeds become flowers, food, healing remedies, shade, and oxygen. We can feed the world with our choices. We can also hurt more than we can even imagine. When we learn to have love and compassion for those around us and learn to forgive, not for the other person but for our own garden’s growth, miracles are born and flourish with the seeds of hope.

5. We Can Pull Weeds, Trim Trees, and Get Rid of Dead Weight at ANY Time

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No one has a perfect garden, if we were perfect, our journey here would be done. That is how we learn. We need to give ourselves a break. The most wonderful part of it all is that we can change the look of our landscape at any time. It is all about the work we are willing to put in. If we chop down an unhealthy tree without digging up the roots, it can still poison the foundation for new seeds to grow. Undoing the old patterns takes time to unearth. Understand, you are not perfect and everything that happens to us offers us great lessons. Sometimes it’s about how we will use it to help others. Other times we are exposed to things we need to see in order to break unhealthy patterns. We get what we need, trust the process. Your pain does not have to be in vain. It can give the world beautiful gifts of hope.

You may need to re-visit unhealthy roots that you thought you got rid of. They may reappear, so that you can dig deeper. In the end, it will be a gift, but it can feel more painful than you ever thought you could handle. Once it has all passed, look back; you survived! You are strong! Just keep pulling those weeds, tearing up the roots, and re-building a healthier space.

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If you are interested in planting more seeds of hope and love, follow From A Loving Place on Facebook and join me on my journey here. Find voices that ring true for you. Life can be an amazing adventure when we feel through the pain into awareness. Trust the process and be kind to yourself. Now, go create the garden of your dreams!

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

**Every photo except the orchid picture was taken on 3/18/2016 at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida by Rachael Wolff. The orchid picture was taken a few weeks back.

The Power of Nature

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“Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their innermost being, their true nature.”

-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose p. 2

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Location:  Myakka River in Venice, FL

Seeing the beauty in nature is how I know when I am completely in the moment. If I can pay attention to the details; I’m there. My head is no longer visiting the past or questioning the future. I am at one with the moment. For this reason, I know when I am scattered and lost too. If I can drive down the road and not spot anything beautiful outside I’m gone. My head is so wrapped up in the chaos tornado whirling the past and future around and in my head. It is my sign to slow down, take three long and deep breaths and re-engage with the moment.

If I have ability to go outside in these moments, I go find the nearest tree. I stand on the roots, touch the trunk, and breathe. If I can get myself to the point where I feel the tingles of energy running through me, I’m re-centered. Then I start to pay attention to all the beautiful things in nature around me. This is how my day transforms. Everything becomes more elaborate and alive. The best part, my mind is clear.

These are the times, I am open to guidance, signs, and miracles. If I’m busy with my tornado, nothing is clear. I miss the giant signs telling me what to do. I get caught up in desperate prayers, but don’t give myself space to hear and/or see the reply. Nature is how I gage how I am doing. If I can find the awe, I’m in a good place. Awe is where miracles are seen.

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Location: Venice, FL

I was once told, “I don’t have time to get outside and appreciate nature.” That would be to say, the person never leaves the house or looks out a window. Nature is around us. It is the wildlife, clouds, colors, water, desert, trees, flowers, and plants. When a person says this, it is not that they don’t have time. They are not ready to get out of their own tornado. Where we put our focus tells us a lot. If we can’t see the beauty around us, we most certainly are not seeing it within us. This effects the way we see both other people and the situations surrounding us. We must put the energy into the things we want to see in the world. As our inner focus transforms our thinking, our outer world reflects the change.

In order for me to stay in-line with my purpose, I must focus on the beauty within and surrounding me. Not to say, I don’t have my bad days. I live in a coastal city in Florida. Driving in tourist season is a reminder of the work I still need to do. I also am a parent of two young children; enough said. I don’t always handle these situations in a zen-like manner. The point is, nobody is perfect. Life will throw us opportunities to dive into the fear or the love. We need both to grow. The question is, which one is at the foundation.

My relationship with nature has got me through a lot of sticky situations. I have had the opportunity to see so many amazing miracles in my life, just by getting outside.

A tree taught me the importance of getting rid of dead weight in order to grow. I also learned about the energy they give off and how to use it to help me center myself.

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Location: Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FL

Sunrises and sunsets is how I remember to be in complete AWE. Sunrises taught me about the magic of the peace of quiet in the early morning hours. Sunsets have filled me with the magic of light.

Locations: Sunrise – Hayesville, NC  Sunset: Naples, FL

The eagle gave me a glimpse of strength, perspective, and a reminder to soar.

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Swamp walks taught me the importance of being present, because boy can stepping on the wrong thing hurt your feet.

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Location: Naples, FL (My son and I) Photo Credit: Daniel (Zeke) Schryver

Being quiet in the woods helps me to pay attention to all of its amazing sounds. It is also the reminder of all the creatures we share the Earth with. We are just one small piece to a very large puzzle. It is important to me to respect that. It also keeps me in perspective. The world does not revolve around me. Other people don’t do things to intentionally hurt me. They are unconscious and taking their own pain out on me, because I am there. When I can  get there, I’m at peace.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia

I become as solid as the mountain that I love looking out from.

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Location: Stone Mountain, Georgia

As my thirties are coming to an end, I noticed they were about letting go of the past and discovering the life I was meant to live. It was in these past ten years that I have been able to really see nature’s way of showing me how to live life fuller and connect to it’s messages. My life became amazing when I connected to the AWE!

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

Photo Credit: All pictures, except the one noted, were taken by Rachael Wolff. It is important to me to share my personal moments with you, because they are a big part of my journey.

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.

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…

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

Photo credit: Rachael Wolff

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