Choosing Sides. Who Wins?

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No one.

My daughter was texting me about a problem with her friend. Apparently, there were two ‘different sides’ to the same scenario and the inclusion of a third party (my other daughter), who wasn’t there…but who possesses an opinion.

What’s the point of choosing sides, when as we all know…the truth lies somewhere in the middle or way out beyond the perceptions of all involved (including opinionated observers) in the situation.

We’re all responsible for what happens in our lives, period.

Anger? Time to look within.

You don’t win by being self-righteousness, shaming and justifying your position.

Defending oneself or someone else; no winner there. Blaming? Hypocritical and energy wasted.

The real problem is not addressed when sides are taken (so we feel better about our position). Others who have a chip on their shoulder regarding the offending party (depending on who’s side you choose) can make it messier and more ridiculous than the original issue.

My daughter wanted my input on how to respond to her friend’s long, emotional text messages. It was just heavy, like too many ornaments on the tree.

Reminded me of a conversation with my mother, which involved some ‘old’ stuff. She asked if I really thought she didn’t love her grandkids (uh…yeah, this was from an old argument, which of course did nothing to better anything)…and I said, I didn’t know, but the way she spoke about them at times was disparaging and I didn’t like it.

She replied with “I was just defending you,” as I listened, all I thought was “No.” I told her, “I don’t want you to defend me against them, I don’t ever want to be defended….in any part of my life–it implies a totality that I’m right, they’re wrong.”

It’s draining to think of my story, your story or anyone’s story, in supporting the position we each take in a disagreement or in choosing a side.

All those gyrations serve are in avoiding the real issue, the deeper truth.

Communication in these instances by all parties is problematic.

Whether it’s lying to ourselves first or lying to others to maintain a facade….many people don’t realize they do it, because their intention is to NOT lose.

All human beings are hypocrites. Welcome to being human.

In my daughter’s situation, her and her friend both had justified POV’s about the situation that occurred. They did agree there was a misunderstanding and miscommunication. My daughter apologized and her friend kept going…

She wanted validation in blaming my daughter for the current situation.

How could this end well?

I reflected on my own life, my refusal to defend myself when the circumstances are skewed, because it isn’t the real issue. Choosing sides, right versus wrong, and so on are all…. perceptions meant to validate feelings. Most people don’t purposely set out to do something wrong, but depending on who’s observing … it can become blown way out of proportion to the actual issue.

When we go against ourselves–denying how we really feel, doing what doesn’t serve us, which includes allowing people to walk on our boundaries (cuz we didn’t honor them for ourselves), people please, be the rescuer, insecure and acted in ways to support those patterns…eventually it comes falling down.

That’s the real issue.

It’s inauthentic.

As humans we all seek to be understood, loved and connected.

Choosing sides, shaming another or being self-righteous, will never serve to bring us closer together (personally that’s my cue to exit stage left). Taking responsibility for how YOU put yourself in the position to have had a misunderstanding will lead you to real empowerment and clarity.

It’s hard to be authentic, all the time, but true authenticity is not perfection, it’s owning your shit.

Own where you sold yourself short to create the untenable situation and move on. Staying stuck in the problem, defending yourself, dragging the neighborhood in to decide who’s a better character is useless, you still don’t win.

Seek to be understood when you can, but make sure you’re connected to your own truth, in support of your own boundaries and be kind, as often as possible. No one is a loser or a winner, we’re all just different perspectives depending on our experiences….

And please remember, we’re all human.

 

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People pleasing is the opposite of real love

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People pleasing is a strategy; it’s not love.

Love is genuine; people pleasing is manipulation.

I was having lunch with a friend the other day and she told me, while rolling her eyes, how much she hated sex with her boyfriend.

In fact, they didn’t really have much sex, and hadn’t for years.

Instead of telling him, she told me how much she despised and disrespected him for his withholding. She ‘pretended’ this was enough when with him. As I munched on my sandwich, she delved into her adventures with a much younger guy who she felt in control of, emotionally and sexually, while creating an image that wasn’t true either.

People pleasing is a form of control:

“You’ll like me or love me if I do this for you.”

“I need to feel okay, so I will give in and do what you want, even though I resent you.”

“If I take this action, you will owe me and you won’t return the favor, but I’ll keep score of the points and use it against you someday (or wait for the day you wake up!).”

“I expect the same in return.”

“I’m doing this so you’ll think I’m nice and when I ask you to do something distasteful, you’ll feel obligated to do so.”

“I have to do it. If I don’t, who else will?”

“I must sacrifice, otherwise I can’t make up for my childhood… or I’ll be thought of as selfish or a jerk.”

Any of these phrases sound familiar?

Like my friend, some of us do it to be liked, to get along to go along, to score points or because we feel obligated. It’s a way of trying to get validation in some capacity.

Most of us aren’t even aware we are doing it!!

It’s tiring to be dishonest with our intentions. We blame someone or something else for how we feel and for why we’re stuck as the ‘pleaser on steroids.’

We’re trying to control, but there is no love in control; it’s a false perception. We can never command the feelings of others like we think we do. If we really saw ourselves through the eyes of others, we would have a mixed bag… and then what would we do? Be a chameleon?

Ever felt like a fake or phony? Try to masquerade as a perfect example to others? How disconnected do you actually feel from who you truly are when you do? How insecure?

Believing we control others through an image (true or not) that we feel is acceptable can be a lifelong pursuit. It’s a prison of limitation, by living into this ‘image’ and not being true to ourselves; often we don’t know how we really feel because we’re afraid to go there.

People pleasing is a form of lying. It doesn’t make us happy. It’s a huge effort with no pay off… leaving us to feel frustration, resentment and non-fulfillment.

Real love requires authenticity. We have to connect to ourselves and do what we genuinely feel. Our relationships will definitely change, some for the better and some will become nonexistent.

Many of us lack a sense of self if we separate from the validation of others. It’s scary and it feels out of control! Digging into our feelings, we’ll find some pretty jacked up beliefs we have of ourselves and this world. This is where the journey begins.

Moving from fear to real love

In embodying real love we come to find true connection, trust in ourselves and life to give us what we need. It ceases to be a dance of control. Real love experienced through self-acceptance creates the foundation for it to show up with others.

Real love requires awareness and connection.

The next time you take an action or say words causing a physical reaction, STOP! Break through the autopilot pattern and ask why you’re going against yourself?

Get honest.

What do you really want to do? How do you really feel?

Get bold.

State it out loud. It may come out wonky or abrupt, but do this often and you’ll get into your deeper truth. Again, your REAL truth is about YOU–your beliefs, your patterns and connecting to the love within. It has nothing to do with the other person.

For more on this topic, please join me for my weekly radio show: People Pleasing and Why You’ll Never Win!

 

Sometimes, We just Don’t Go Together Like Peanut Butter & Jam

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It happens.

We meet people.

We fall in love.

We may just meet a new friend.

Co-workers, bosses, subordinates, anywhere and everywhere we go, we relate or don’t.

People insinuate themselves in our lives, times marches on and we go from “brand new” to married, best friends, professional relationships, etc…

We develop expectations with the relationship, unspoken or spoken.

Do we speak the same language? Are we peanut butter and jam or are we peanut butter and parsley?

When we aren’t peanut butter and jam or peanut butter & peanut butter or whatever your taste, we run into problems. We may do what we can over and over, but nothing seems to change…the same issues remain, while we wait for the other person to “get it.”

They don’t, or perhaps, they twist themselves into a pretzel and become what we want….temporarily. We just ain’t relating where we’re understood.

What does this apply to:

1. Dating. When we’re dating we want to meet someone who gets us, that we’re attracted to, etc…and sometimes we meet someone who we’re physically attracted to, but who we might butt heads with…and we think, “Ok, I like these qualities, but can’t stand those other qualities, so I’ll settle right here.” This pile of undesirable qualities may include ways of understanding someone that differ; meaning I have a filter for my view of reality and what works for me…and so do you. They may be different and remain different, based on how we each receive information.

We try to make peanut butter and ham work, but we’re forever speaking different languages. What we ignore in the beginning, comes back to haunt us.

The same applies when someone disappears. Do we need to take it personally? Nope. The person who disappeared may have thought it was more like a peanut butter and asparagus sandwich rather than peanut butter and jam. They’ve saved us a painful road ahead and wouldn’t it be great to build a better sandwich with someone who’s ability to receive and deliver information is closer to our own?

2. Business “On the Job.” We don’t usually get to choose the people we work with, unless of course, we’re in charge of hiring. Sometimes, it becomes clear very rapidly that someone is difficult for us to communicate with…and perhaps, we think they’re wrong and we’re right. We may think they’re a jerk or some other label, which is one-dimensional. It’s not necessarily true, they may have a completely different perception on “everything” or items of “critical” importance than how we see it.

We may be stubborn and they may match us. It’s usually a great idea to notice the differences and try to understand them, as we would if we just landed in a country and didn’t understand the language. Have a conversation about neither being wrong, but each style being different….and then see what naturally comes about. There are times, that no matter how talented someone is, it’s peanut butter and liverwurst…the environment really doesn’t suit them and there’s no flexibility.

If we’re the one hiring, it’s prudent to recognize if we ask someone to perform a task and it always comes back incorrect or done differently than asked, that we need to take a deeper look rather than get angry.

The subordinate may be trying very hard to fulfill the request, but hears us through their filters. They may have heard us differently or imagined what we’re saying to need to be formed into what they can understand and do. It then becomes a challenge, because two languages are spoken and as the boss, a decision must be made to figure out if the “way” of doing something is worth trying to train the individual or letting go to find someone who speaks the same language.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t work on bridging a gap, but sometimes it’s better to recognize the relationship is the type of work that is so draining, it creates a value deficit.

3. Friends/Family. There are friends for a different reason, season or a lifetime, right? Family….we’re pretty much without choice…but we can choose how we approach them. There are always going to be relationships in which we don’t see eye to eye, but why beat that person up or ourselves? It’s pointless and solves nothing. If we stop and really listen to what someone is saying, we can understand what they’re trying to do. Meaning, if someone felt invisible in the family, perhaps they’re insinuating themselves in the middle of everyone’s business, so as not to be left out or the person who has an opinion that is out in left field may be trying to prove that they aren’t enough.

If we listen, we can really hear….and not that it takes one person to make a great sandwich, but we can find our common bond, our link to one another….if we really pay attention. It’s not to say that we can speak in everyone’s language, but we can begin to not take others personally and realize they’re doing the best they can too. 🙂

Recipe for a Good Relationship

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Hi!

One of my clients was reading my blog. She felt a recipe for all natural sunscreen would fit nicely in here. I believe it does, because we can all use a tip from time to time that could be beneficial to our health.

It got me thinking…what would be a good recipe for a solid relationship?

I think we can come up with many of the ingredients for what creates a happy twosome, items such as:

  • Love
  • Communication
  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Friendship
  • Forgiveness
  • Self-love
  • Acceptance
  • Allowing
  • Attraction
  • Trust

But….how much of each do we need for a Rockin’ Relationship? All parts are necessary at all times, yet in equal amounts at different times. Meaning, whatever is going on for one or both partners there may need to be more of those characteristics than at other times in the relationship.

How would that work?

Here’s a recipe for adding the ingredients:

When we forget why we’re in a relationship with our mate and what the goal is: POUR IN LOVE.

When we start having voices in our head and deciding we know the score with our partner: SPRINKLE THOROUGHLY WITH COMMUNICATION.

When we forget our mate is human and disappoints us: SPOON IN COMPASSION.

When we’re mad or frustrated with life or our partner: BLEND IN KINDNESS.

When we want to share our deepest desires or insecurities: ADD FRIENDSHIP.

When we’ve fought with our partner or are kicking ourselves for what we’ve done: STIR IN FORGIVENESS.

When we’re not feeling the love: KNEAD IN SELF-LOVE.

When we’re not comfortable with the inconsistencies in our mate, ourselves and the relationship: A DASH OF ACCEPTANCE.

When reinvention happens at any time for either partner: SIFT TOGETHER WITH ALLOWING.

No matter how long it’s been, remembering what brought us together in the first place and allowing those feelings to re-emerge: A PINCH OF ATTRACTION. 

When we can’t let go of what our mate does or doesn’t do, to know we are still okay no matter what. To own our insecurities, share them but not burden our partner with them is to place within ourselves and the relationship: A QUART OF TRUST!

There may be some variations on the amounts of each ingredient, but if all exist in a relationship then there is a recipe for success.

Now….the second recipe is for our bodies:

Here is her recipe for Homemade Non-Toxic Sunscreen Lotion Bars

http://www.homemademommy.net/2013/04/homemade-non-toxic-sunscreen-lotion-bars.html

Ingredients

Directions

Combine the shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax in a glass bowl placed over a hot pot of water or use a double boiler. Heat on low until the ingredients are melted and full incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in the zinc oxide, the essential oil, and the vitamin E oil. Pour into silicon molds and place in the fridge to cool for about 30 minutes. Pop out and store in tins or an airtight container. Store at room temperature.

Notes:

  • These will melt in the hot sun. I plan to cut off a small piece to take with me to the pool or the beach and carry it in an airtight container. Once back indoors it will solidify again.
  • I have received questions about how to apply. You simply rub all over your body while holding in your hand. The texture is firm but emollient and it will feel like a lotion – not soap. You can rub it in further with your hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relationships

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Why are most of our relationships so complicated with the opposite sex?

Perhaps there should be a dictionary for Menglish and Womenglish? After all, we have one for the English language and most others on this planet.

We believe we’re communicating our wants and needs. Sometimes, we think we’re right and the other is wrong.

How about if no one was wrong? What if it’s a lack of understanding….not necessarily of the other person, but of ourselves?

What if we believe we need something that we can’t define, and put it on the other person to fulfill?

Often, we have a picture in our head of what our relationship is supposed to look like, usually it has nothing to do with reality.

When we struggle in the relationship with the other person, we are trying to get a certain outcome…our outcome, not necessarily what is best for the relationship…but again, what we want to fill in the cracks or to satisfy our need.

It comes back to ourselves no matter if you’re male or female.

We may communicate differently, but the bottom line is–if we aren’t honest with ourselves, how can we possibly believe the results are going to be fulfilling?

We’re always going to want more when we are unclear as to why we feel how we do.

We’re going to blame our partner, if we haven’t become responsible for our own emotional state.

To be honest, authentic, true to ourselves requires us to move beneath our beliefs, our patterns and our protection to find what it is we truly want and need….and then it is up to us to fill it for ourselves first.

When we are aware of what we really want, it’s our responsibility to take care of it for ourselves. 

And what we really want is love and acceptance. 

Of course, we have to do that for us first, right? Otherwise how can we possibly know what it feels like to be loved by someone else?

Once we decide to really love and accept ourselves just as we are, we’ve certain beliefs and patterns, which make it a bit difficult to be consistent in our feelings.

Sometimes the walls we have built out of fear block our connection to our feelings of love. And fear can show in a number of ways from the beliefs we carry ourselves (we’re not good enough, unloveable, wrong, etc..) to the ways we act, speak and listen.

When we bring the person who we’re in a relationship with into the mix, they will more than likely trigger those beliefs and fears into overdrive. I equate the extremes it creates to that feeling, we’re outside of our bodies.

We take what is triggered and blame all men or all women. It’s not the case, we may speak different languages, because we process our reality differently, but it’s not a sex thing.

It’s a trigger thing, which depending on our level of awareness can make the language barrier even wider.

Our differences in communication become weapons when we feel we’re not being heard or again, getting what we THINK want.

What can we do?

There’s plenty of advice I can offer, tools that work in creating clarity, communication and understanding. It’s a matter of putting these things into action, not waiting for the other person to figure it out and taking responsibility for how we feel.

First. Stop whatever struggle you are engaged in with another. If you pause, and take a breath, you can see how much energy is tied up physically in that battle.

Second. If you stop the struggle for a moment, try to find a sense of calm, because it’s time to dig deeper. If you can’t get to total calm, go for a walk or do some other activity to release some anxiety.

Third. If you have a sense of calm, it’s time for the question, “What do I need right now?”

And whatever it is, no matter if it makes you vulnerable or you feel like you’re swallowing your pride, admit whatever it is to yourself, but at least…ASK. You deserve to ask. You deserve to ask yourself first to fulfill the request and then ask another.

Fourth. The inner critic, voices of old beliefs and protective walls.

These stand in between you and what you want. You can’t conquer them in one day, but get to know them…make friends with them. See what stories they tell you and bit by bit, allow them to go on their merry way. Don’t hold onto them any longer than necessary.

Fifth. You are flawed, he or she is flawed…we’re all flawed and no matter if it is Menglish or Womenglish…learn to speak the language without taking it personally.

If you want more tips, check out a FREE teleseminar I am doing on May 30th at 5 p.m. PST. You can watch this video, which explains in some detail what the seminar is about…or you can just sign up by clicking here and then scrolling to the bottom of the page.

 

Wanted: Love

Dance of Love

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. It is a day in which we celebrate love, or we are told it is THE day we celebrate love. The other 364 days of the year are not to compare to this stupendous day.

That is rarely true and rarely does V-day actually associate itself with the title, “Best Day Ever!” It could assume 2 other titles, “Best Day for Crazy-Ass Expectations,” or “Best Day for Feeling Your Singleness is a Contagious Disease.”

The fantasy surrounding Valentine’s Day feeds into many other things, which are fantasy-like….as an example “Movies about Love,” how often is it a realistic portrayal? Not very often.

What gets under my skin is how much drama is created in movies, tv shows-especially soap operas/reality tv, holidays with unspoken expectations, and other heroic fantasy-like efforts. Their common bond is the complete lack of communication.

Communication is key, when it is absent or dishonest, it creates drama. Valentine’s Day is drama, because of all the unspoken expectations we have of this day. Whether you are single or in a relationship, when does this holiday ever live up to its “standard of excellence?” Almost never.

People look for it to be a day of miracles, it is just another day. So, if your relationship isn’t working, don’t expect this one day to turn it all around. It reminds me of when people think getting married will solve all of their relationship issues. Um yeah.

If you’re single and you think your fairy godmother is going to pop a willing suitor into your life on the 13th, so you have someone to celebrate it with on the 14th….probs not gonna happen!

There are 365 days this year. Can we take the message of “LOVE” without expectations and live it all year round?

The hardest and easiest thing in the world for us to do; hard because of our egos, easy because it comes naturally to us is… we love. Sometimes we hide or bury love, because we are afraid. We even hide it to punish someone. We shove love down when we think its inappropriate or it will cause pain. We want to appear strong and invulnerable, so we move love aside.

Unfortunately, we shortchange ourselves and everyone else when we throw love in the basement. Love doesn’t hurt, love is strength, love in knowing yourself and being true to who you are, communicating love through actions and words is where peace and freedom live.

It is not a Hallmark holiday. It’s life.

Think about it. When you are in the midst of a battle, whether it’s with someone else or against your own feelings…how do you feel? Uptight, anxious, angry; physically holding your breath and your shoulders hunched up are around your ears?

Now, when you think about love, allow yourself to feel it; what does it do? It relaxes you, right? Don’t let thoughts get in the way, just allow that lovin’ feeling. You feel good, huh?

Okay, so here’s the deal. Your battle. It’s always against yourself. Either you are fighting your feelings or something else in your reality. Change the reality and the struggle by realizing, it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter, because it’s not the path to love. Got a problem with someone, communicate it, be honest and true to yourself. When you communicate in this fashion, from love, your whole demeanor changes. You can convey the same feelings, in a softer fashion.

Softer is stronger, because it is truth.

Got a problem with yourself, because you don’t like how you feel? Communicate these 2 words to yourself,” Allow it.” Allow your feelings. They will probably overwhelm you once you let your guard down, but so what? What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen?

Now back to Valentine’s Day and Love. Love is all around us all the time. The only expectation should be to “share,” love everyday. Whatever that means to you, if it’s 100 people or just yourself: just show it, do it….don’t wait for the one day of the year.

Authenticity of Communication, sprinkle Vulnerability receive Well-being!

If you start with the deeper awareness of your authenticity aka being real, followed with clear communication, which opens you up to your own vulnerability, you receive well-being.

When you communicate do you do so authentically? In essence, do you say what you REALLY mean? Not many people do with the understanding of WHY they are feeling a need to communicate, connect, and belong, or in opposition act out and have their way.

We say things to get a reaction. We feel a need but often we can’t recognize the seed of that need…. we just want gratification; fill the empty hole that is crying out. We may be living in a future moment anticipating what we are afraid will happen, with little thought that we are creating that exact outcome.

We communicate or withhold. Sometimes we don’t do it “on purpose” we are stuck in a subtle habit or pattern “making” us take action or run and hide emotionally.

Authenticity with communication allows for humanness. It says “okay” to how I feel: “disconnected” and “why” I feel disconnected, invisible, unworthy, not important, etc.

Authenticity with communication opens the door to bonding not distancing or separating; it says what “your” truth is even if you aren’t clear… being authentic can mean saying “I don’t know” or “I’m scared”. It means becoming vulnerable.

Vulnerability is not a weakness its true strength; it’s the opportunity to say what is authentically true for you…even if your truth changes in the next moment. Many of us have been taught to refrain from speaking our truth,does this ever lead to inner peace and happiness?

It gives you insight into yourself rather than building walls keeping you in unsatisfying patterns. Walls have nothing to do with who you truly are and what you truly want.

On my own journey to vulnerability, I have to unlearn a lot of things, which punish, self-protect, separate and make me destroy situations and cut people off.

Getting to the authentic place requires me to go against this huge force within me that keeps me unhappy by operating in this manner. It’s self-defeating to wear emotional armor. Being authentic can feel like swallowing your pride, but in actuality you are exhaling untruths about yourself; you release yourself from being the “bud” to blossom.

As you trip, wobble, fall down on the path to authenticity you receive the ultimate pay off: Well-being. Even if you are ill at ease in stating what is true for you, because it is not in agreement with others… you’ll start to notice that respecting, valuing and honoring yourself by authentic communication provides well being.

Someone recently said, “The way to keep things simple without drama is to shove it under a rug. Don’t analyze or talk about it, pretend it doesn’t exist.” 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t lead to peace and happiness. It leads to numbness or drama in ignoring the underlying truth. Nothing is clear; it is inauthentic when a pink elephant is in the room…energy goes to hiding it whether we realize it or not.

This person was correct in stating analyzing leads to drama; it leads to a disruption of inner peace.

The key is to speak about things clearly before there is a need to mentally agonize. “Feel it-speak it.” Create clear boundaries of treatment and what you need…. even if it changes.

Being authentic in communication allows truth. Everything else is B.S.

B.S. is a story we tell so we don’t have to look at the roots of our discontent.

Look at the roots of your suffering not to analyze, but to recognize…. So you can take different action in line with your truth. It frees you to see clearly the “why” of your perception based on your beliefs and the defeat you feel by your own inability to know what is true for you.

I love the work I do.

I see how recognition works in action.

My client last night had been humiliated, shamed and treated in a very unkind manner by a sitter when he was five. We didn’t spend time analyzing the situation…. Instead I asked, “What did that situation make you believe about yourself and the world?”  “What strategies did you create then to make sure you weren’t hurt in this way in the future?” He said, “Adults couldn’t be trusted; his strategy became to keep quiet and never say things to people which would humiliate him.” In that instant, he saw how he carried that strategy into adulthood. This truth remained buried for years. He never knew why he was on guard against anything, which could possibly humiliate him; therefore he trusted no one and it was reflected in all of his relationships.

My client has made many of these discoveries about his conditioning, which aren’t authentically him. In the process, he’s learning to authentically communicate what is going on for him no matter the cost. He has found instead of the cost being painful, speaking his truth has drastically improved his relationships, relaxed him, and allows him to live more in the present without worrying about the future. Sometimes he forgets to ask himself why he feels a certain way and he doesn’t communicate; he falls back in a pattern of blaming, punishing and distancing…yet he doesn’t stay there anymore.

Clarity of communication will stop most drama in its tracks.

Vulnerability provides the opening for AUTHENTIC COMMUNICATION. When you are afraid inside and don’t know why, “express it!” Why? Because when people are afraid and don’t communicate we do weird crap. We do everything in complete opposition of what we want, which is to be loved and accepted for who we are and are not.

When you say I’m scared, someone will want to be closer to you, hear what you are afraid of even if it is unclear or has to do with him or her, because we ALL have fear….

Communicating fear authentically creates bonding and allows another to speak their truth too.

Honest dialogue is true strength, rather than putting up walls that hurt yourself and another. If your truth is something hard to say…. often by saying it, it loses its power within you. You released the fear by communicating it authentically and now you are free to move about your life with ease and lightness.

And by being “real” with someone else, you allow them to be recipients of authentic communication; we all get to relax into well-being. We are seen and known for who we truly are… and accepted.