LIVING your worth

Don’t just settle for knowing your worth — go out and LIVE your worth.

There’s a natural anxiety that comes about when you feel that you’re being taken for granted or under appreciated. But did you know what you do with that realization foretells the future for you? Continue reading

The reason why your New Year’s resolutions don’t stick

2012 has been getting hype for what…nearly six years now? Whether you’re into that whole “Mayan End of Days” thing or of the conviction that 2012 will usher in some huge awakening for mankind…it’s safe to say we’re all putting a lot of pressure on this upcoming year.

Maybe it’s the freshness, the newness, the unlimited possibility of new beginnings and a clean slate to build upon — but somewhere around late February, the year’s new shine starts to fade, old habits resurface and thoughts of well there is always next year trickle in. Pressure and expectations of greatness typically lead to one thing – a major letdown.

It doesn’t have to be that way, you know… Continue reading

Assumption junction, what’s your function? Wasting your time — that’s what.


Growing up, whenever I’d turn my nose to something in haste, my dad would colorfully recite “Assuming makes and ass out of YOU and ME.”

How often do you compare someone or something against a past experience? How many times have you been proven wrong in what your original assumption was? Our judgments have a tendency to blind our openness to new experiences. Typically, a judgment occurs when we’re trying to protect a part of ourselves from the memory of something we didn’t enjoy. New people, places, experiences, emotions – they are ridiculed by our judgments and assumptions before we even get a chance to experience what they have to offer. Continue reading

A Happy Time

In just a few short months, my life has changed for the better, deeper and more fulfilling. And this change is fueled by one thing: becoming more self-aware. I’m so unbelievably happy to be pursuing a coaching profession because it feels like the best parts of me are being put to use. I’ve been pushed, challenged, inspired, brought to tears, excited, terrified, supported, empowered, educated and humbled. And I’m only half way through it.

My experience in the program has greatly enhanced other important areas of my life. My relationship has grown even deeper and more fulfilling, and communication is seamless — and we’ve always prided ourselves on an already strong foundation. I’m able to more openly share my thoughts, fears, joys and Love with richer understanding and acceptance by him. I have become a better listener, grounded in non-judgement and compassion. And as I write this, it’s our three-year anniversary together and I’m very happy and fortunate to share my life with him. Work too has been energetic and supportive, and I’ve made incredible connections with co-workers who truly respect and appreciate what I have to offer. Overall, I’m less stressed, have been consistently moving my body, am  eating more consciously, getting better rest, have more vitality and seem more bubbly!

But the biggest transformation has come from within — and it’s nothing shocking or some great awakening. It’s more like a centered and purposeful awareness of what I’ve always known to be in me, but needed the right conditions to show itself.  I like to call it “grace” because it’s a kind feeling towards myself.  I’m becoming someone who is accepting and confident in exactly who I am. Sure, the old tremors of self-doubt come back from time to time, but the voice is less daunting and less intimidating. Replacing it is my authentic voice which trusts and believes in my abilities.  It’s a great feeling to not only have wonderful support from those around you, but to also have it within yourself. All this has transpired in a few short months of sincere effort to become more self-aware. My actions are aligned to my values and heart –this intention is my creation. I’m now convinced that energy flows outward, and what you carry inside will manifest itself all around you.

Notes Taken

Day at Waldon Pond w/ HDT.I’ve learned a lot since being laid-off nearly a year and a half ago – perhaps it’s a good thing for me to go through this trying time early in my life.  As difficult as it’s been, it’s made me realize a lot about myself, the world around me and what it takes to navigate it.

With a few new opportunities on the horizon, I thought it would be nice to reflect upon what I’ve learned:

20 Notes Taken:

  • 1. I can survive financially & materialistically on WAY less than I thought was ever possible.
  • 2. Following my  interests is  more fulfilling than following what I think I should be doing.
  • 3. Patience isn’t a virtue you either have or don’t — it’s a muscle to be exercised and it grows with every deep breath you take.
  • 4. Home-cooked meals with friends & loved ones are better than restaurants.
  • 5. What I do doesn’t define who I am.
  • 6. Listen to your gut instincts about people — when something feels off, trust it.
  • 7. My favorite time of day is still 9-10am; I get my best work done then.
  • 8. Sleep needs to be earned. A wasted day = a wasted good nights sleep to look forward to.
  • 9. Misery loves company. It’s okay to share in experiences, but don’t allow yourself to become jaded with victim-minded people.
  • 10. I really can do what I love and not feel shy/foolish about it.
  • 11. My life is unscripted and the opportunities I choose to take are what actually writes my life’s story.
  • 12.  I value process over product. Endpoints come & go, but what matters is how you go about developing & challenging yourself.
  • 13. I’m loved unconditionally even when I feel unlovable. I love way better when my body, mind & spirit are aligned & feeling good.
  • 14. Tell people what you’re interested and passionate about — inspired minds & hearts have a way of finding each other.
  • 15. The more I try, the more I fall and the more I fall, the more resilient I become.
  • 16. The easiest thing to do is blame someone else for your problems. Own up to taking responsibility for the quality of how you live your life.
  • 17. What I loved as a kid, I still love today. I made the mistake in thinking that adult Rachel had to leave all that behind.
  • 18. When you start to doubt yourself, talk back to that voice– it’s a coward and it backs down real fast the more you call it out.
  • 19. I finally get the line: “Your pain is the breaking that encloses your understanding.” – Kahlil Gibran, from “The Prophet”
  • 20. Trusting and accepting oneself is life-long journey, but I’m happy to say that I love who I am and who I am becoming.

Great Expectations

As I grow older, one truth becomes increasingly apparent: I’m not able to predict the future, never have and never will.

When it comes to future-planning, people take numerous perspectives that range somewhere between extremes.  On one end, many go through life with an entitled sense of control over the universe – that it should bend to their needs and regards only. At the other end, a passive acceptance of “what will be, will be” — a seemingly nice [but often cliché] motto that doesn’t encourage a person to take full accountability or responsibility for the quality of their life. It comes down to being able to balance the extremes –the desire to control everything in life [which we view as helping us reach our goals] but yet, grasp an understanding that there’s very little you can control, other than how you perceive events unfolding before you.

Why then,  should we re-examine our obsession with future-planning? There’s been a lot of scientific research done in the area called affective forecasting, which tries to understand why and how we forecast our affect (emotional state) surrounding future events. We set our whole lives up to achieve a set of markable goals and must-haves (ex: getting married, obtaining a professional title, have kids, gain material wealth) but have we really thought about why we want them? On the flip-side, perceived negative emotional events, (death of a loved one, a break-up, financial set-back) we tend to think that if these events happen, we’d be devastated and perhaps never be the same again.  But research has shown that humans are terrible at being accurate when it comes to knowing what will make us happy or unhappy.

Leading the area of affective forecasting is Harvard’s Dan Gilbert — I’ll let his quote sum up his work best:

“Why do we so often fail to know what will make us happy in the future?….Our desire to control is so powerful, and the feeling of being in control so rewarding, that people often act as though they can control the uncontrollable.”

He believes what makes humans so unique is our minds ability to imagine and play out possible future events; but what’s missing is our ability to accurately anticipate  how intensely we’ll feel something. Affective forecasting is used in positive psychology research in the area of happiness. Human’s are not too good at estimating how long they will feel an emotion after a certain event. Studies have shown that winners of the lottery (a perceived happy and good event), return to the same level of happiness/unhappiness they had within 5 years prior to winning the fortune. On the flip-side, people who have lost limbs or suffered traumatic physical injuries (a perceived negative event) also return to the same level of happiness/unhappiness they had before their accident. These studies suggest that external factors play very little importance into our minds set-point of how satisfied we are with out current state. Quality of life is measured more appropriately from the internal. Status, prestige and image, depends upon the external.

This concept so important for me to understand now in life because I want to avoid the trap of believing that my worthiness of success, happiness and life satisfaction is contingent upon external factors entirely. The concept of the “ideal” job, partner, college, car, house, town, weight and life was branded in all of us at a young age. Eventually, we each come face to face with the confusing feelings surrounding what we should do and what we want to do. Distinguishing the two is often a challenge, but perhaps the most important one we need to understand. Through trial and error of our experiences and by paying attention, reflecting and questioning our long-held assumptions, we can more easily learn to lead from the heart.

The manageable way to ensure we move towards the life we want, yet, live within the means we currently have, rests somewhere between the two extremes above. It requires a delicate blend of purposeful, directed actions and surrender to that unknown realm of chance and uncertainty. It’s a marriage of risk and trust that really comes down to never thinking you have all the answers, but not so naive as to think you have none. There have been plenty of unexpected events in my life that have garnered in me with a sense preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, and living as diligently as possible towards my potentials.  The unexpected has taught me to trust more in myself, my resilience and determination, and especially in those around me who I can turn to in difficult times. I made a startling revelation not too long ago, that when I stopped trying to control my experiences, more unique opportunities came my way. I often need to remind myself of this, especially in stressful times.  But I try to take the scenic route rather than the expressway – - the unexpected is found when you travel with a sense of adventure and openness.

Take care,

Rachel

Idle Hands

Boredom is a strange feeling.  It encompasses a mixture of emotion such as  apathy, hesitation, disillusionment and frustration. When bored, the last place you want to be is locked inside your own head, begging for an escape from the thoughts mockingly saying So, this is it, eh? What’s the purpose of being bored? Is it a distinguishing factor between the engaged and the disengaged? A motivator or alarm? Is it an inconsistency between our ambitions and the necessity to rest? Is it the lack of stress? Is it actually a serene time, and we as modern inhabitants of a 24/7 life cycle, are so dumb-struck by the event that we’re utterly lost if we’re not “doing something.” In eastern thought, especially Buddhism, the concept of nothing doesn’t exist – in fact, what our western minds would view as nothing, in Buddhism, is the ultimate: the annihilation of the ego. For a few years now, I have studied and (mildly) practice some tenants of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, especially taking some time each day to engage in mindfulness meditation, and this practice has really helped me in times of extremes: stress and boredom. In fact, I decided to write this piece because I was gripped with a boredom spell. I wanted to snap out of it,  so I tried to use some creative energy to transform it. I felt like I had something in me to share, and I knew I was feeling bored – so, why not talk about that? Simple is often understated.

In positive psychology, boredom correlates to a lack of engagement, but unlike apathy, is really about us feeling frustrated that we’re not doing something. So, there is this level of conscious awareness of our present state and a tension between wanting to be engaged, but not finding the outlet for it. How confusing AND frustrating! In its worst states, boredom can feel like an existential crisis: for a single moment, you may feel like a virtual nobody, dissatisfied with life and with nothing to show for it. But be careful; this isn’t a self-loathing, depressive feeling.  It’s actually a more positive take on your potentials and possibilities. The trick with boredom is that once you’re aware you’re feeling it, your mind  goes on a rampage to shake it.  Some people pick through their cabinets for snacks or may turn to TV to solve the problem, and others become professional Facebookies (…guilty at times) – but these solutions are only temporary remedies and after the fact, we’re not only bored once again, but guilty that we snacked too much or wasted a few hours on sub-par TV.  A mild dose of guilty pleasure is just fine; but when it becomes a routine habit and escape, there’s an underlying issue that needs to be dealt with.

So, what can we do to break the boredom snap?  Some tips I suggest are:

  • Sit with your thoughts and try to gauge what your boredom is stemming from.
    Could it be that you are procrastinating? Are you trying to ward off a decision? Are you agitated at something else? People often want to run away from perceived negative emotions; but I encourage you to run towards them, sit and listen. This takes practice and is very important for a sense of self.
  • Think of something simple & creative that you find a pleasure in, and perhaps, you’ll be inspired to engage in it.
    Maybe it’s writing, or listening to music, taking a walk or something as mundane as organizing that drawer you’ve been meaning to tackle (…months ago.)
  • Be social
    Reach out to talk with a friend or close relative. We are wired to connect with other humans.
  • Stand up from where you’re feeling bored and simply move to another area.
    Environmental change does wonders for the mind and body.
  • Take the pressure off yourself!
    You’re not a perfectly efficient machine, there’s no hot event in the city you’re missing out on, and there is no “better place to be.” Boredom is an opportunity to hang out with neglected parts of your creative self.
  • It’s OK to be still
    We’re uncomfortable with silence and being still, especially when we aren’t expecting it. The feeling of needing to always be “doing something” is a struggle for me, so I purposefully create time and space in my day to reflect and wind-down.

So, thanks a lot for sharing my boredom with me – I achieved something I wanted to do: quell boredom, write, and try to understand where my boredom was stemming from.  Yes, everyone gets bored. No, you’re not a loser for feeling that way. Although it’s really annoying and frustrating at first, once we get over that fact that you’re bored, try to use it to your advantage. Boredom is a signal for us to pay more attention to our own needs. And if all else fails and you’re desperate for motivation, there is always C-SPAN!

Take care,

Rachel