Days 358 to 365 – What One Freedom Junkie Manifested After a Year of Committing to Living Full-On

Full On 365This is the story of when I faced death one time too many – and the story of where this blog began.

In early 2011 I thought I had cancer – again. I had received an MRI as routine follow-up for my past kidney cancer…during which they also toss in a free check to see if my past melanoma has spread anywhere as well. I received a call from my doctor on a Friday afternoon saying he’d like to talk to me about the results. But since he was leaving town, we could talk about it Monday.

WTF? Who DOES that?! An oncologist is NOT supposed to do that on a Friday afternoon.

After my inner rant about the fu@#ed-up timing of the call, I then thought, “Oh shit. That’s never good.” At least, it never means it is normal. When you have a normal PAP smear, they leave a message (if given permission) that all was normal. They say, “Hello, Ana! This is Merry Mindy from Dr. Good News’ office and I just wanted to let you know your cervix fucking rocks!”

Well, I gave permission for such a message and that is NOT what I was hearing on the answering machine.

I replayed the message over and over, had my friends and boyfriend at the time listen to it to try to decipher the underlying message and, ultimately, to try and decide before freakin’ MONDAY if I was going to receive the news that one of my two cancers had returned – or worse, that they may have spread. All of this based on our highly-attuned voice-interpretation Jedi skills, of course.

We decided it was fine. He sounded mildly cheery and relaxed.

Whatever. The certainty of that conclusion lasted all but five minutes.

Between that moment and Monday, I was going down to San Francisco for a coaching workshop. On the first day, I was selected to be a model client. Well, I raised my hand like that eager kid in the front row, to be honest. I really really wanted to be picked. I had some shit brewing that I wanted to process. My friend and colleague, Sabina, intuitively called my name.

I walked to the front of the room, sat down with her in a chair, looked into her deep brown eyes, and after recounting the story above, I paused, looked up, and said, “I am not ready. I am not ready to die yet. I am NOT DONE.” I cried. Just a little, though.

She then gave me a powerful challenge. I was to look at the room of 15 or so people and know I was going to die in two minutes. What would I want to say to them? I had seconds to think about it and two minutes to say it.

Tick tock.

I didn’t pause. I looked at each one of them directly in the eye (and realized how little I actually did that lately) and I said – no, I shouted – “WAKE THE FUCK UP!” Wake the fuck up and stop wasting this precious life. Is there someone you love but haven’t told them yet? Say it! Is there something you’ve been wanting to do – or BE – your whole life but you keep making excuses? Do it – BE it – now. Is there a way you want to feel? Give yourself fucking permission to be happy, bold, and brave! Refuse to live life with regrets. Say you’re sorry. Get over the stupid grudge. Let go of the bullshit.

Life is shorter than you’ll ever want it to be. YOU WILL DIE – and you don’t know when. So get to the business of living life full-on. NOW.

At this point I was sobbing. And so was half the class. I don’t know if they were sobbing because of me and my predicament, or whether they were sobbing at the realization of all that they weren’t living yet…but I didn’t care. My message was powerful, and I felt it was complete.

Sabina then asked me about how I was living full-out or not (she used the term full-out). I realized that despite what my life looked like on paper – my international travels, my catching babies as a nurse-midwife during that miraculous moment in life that I got to witness on a regular basis, my successful coaching business, my apparent health, my supposedly fun and exciting relationship – despite it all, I wasn’t living what I KNEW was full-out for me.

I committed then and there to live full-out every day for a month. At least I think it was a month. And I decided to say “full-on” instead. It reminded me of the 80’s;)

Within a month I broke up with my boyfriend who, while having good intentions and dashing good looks, fell far short of my version of the man I wanted to spend my life with. I wanted my Noah (yes, that’s a cheesy Hollywood reference from The Notebook). Hollywood fantasy or not, I knew it was possible for me, and I wanted nothing less. I’d rather be alone than living life half-way with someone who couldn’t meet me where I was at.

I wanted my sexy sweet manly man, who was spiritual and had integrity and trust, who was madly in love with me and with whom I knew I would grow old with and have amazing adventures – evolving together and celebrating one another more than hurting one another. I had to admit that if this lil’ lady was going to live full-on, I couldn’t have someone as a partner who didn’t show up the way that I knew would allow me to live to my fullest potential. In my full-on mind, that’s the only kind of relationship to be in. Otherwise, they are way too much work to be worth it!

I knew this man existed out there for me. I had already met him once. I wasn’t going to miss it again.

Leaving a relationship that is a “maybe” can be one of the hardest things to do. It is so much easier to say “Yes” or “No” to the obvious. But when something is a “maybe,” we can waste a lot of freakin’ time. And trust me – if its a maybe, it usually becomes a “Hell No!” at some point. If you’re living full on, you don’t have time to wait. You have to trust your intuition and say “Hell Yes!” to your happiness. I had way too many Maybes that I waited for to become Hell-Nos before I left, and I had finally learned my lesson.

In that month, I also committed to leaving my job and moving to a mountain town within the next year. I had a condo in Telluride, Colorado, and it was high-time I return to the mountains, which is where my soul get filled. I wanted more free time, more adventures, more badassness EVERY DAY.

I went skinny dipping after work at sunset, I danced naked in the rain (yes, I find clothes excessive), I got off my ass when I didn’t feel like it and went out to go night skiing under the moonlight, I looked people in the eye, I connected and focused on being present with friends when they needed me. I didn’t multi-task when on the phone with my mom. Full-on living happens at all levels – not just in the outward adventures, but through inner integrity as well.

Months later, I decided that I had wandered a bit from my full-on commitment. I was getting sucked into my business and focusing so much on work, and less on getting outside. While I love my work and am blessed with beautiful careers, I wasn’t very balanced with taking care of my body and my value of adventure. Yes, we had just gone to Africa for a month, but as soon as we returned I was pretty stressed at work again.

I was proud that I had cut back to part-time at work, but alas, I was still there – hanging on with one arm as I swung above the beautiful but terrifying void below. I had 4 days off in a row twice a month, and 8-10 days off once a month…but it wasn’t enough for the type of adventures I wanted. I wanted time to explore, to have the freedom to be spontaneous, freedom to write when I was inspired…FREEDOM! I chose freedom over security. I still make that choice, every day.

It had felt so good to live full-on for 30 days, and so many good things came of it. I was definitely living full-on a lot of the time, but I didn’t want a slap in the face from the Universe to make me realize that I was stilling falling short of MY version of a Full-On life.

I then wondered, “What would happen if I committed to a full year?”

Here we are backcountry skiing with wigs!
Here we are backcountry skiing with wigs!

With my soul-mate, Thai, sitting at my side, I showed him the blog I just started, (which later migrated over to so I only had to maintain one blog). I said to him, “I am going to commit to living full-on, every day, for a full year. And I’m going to write about it here. What do you think?

Thai looked at me with a smile and said, “I think it’s a great idea! Your blog looks awesome! I think it’s great that you want to help others live like that too, inspiring them” – and this coming from a guy who practically develops a rash when he has to work on or look at a computer. He was into it, and psyched for me. He was also a part of what manifested when I decided to live full-on, and now I could feel it: we were going to manifest some epic shit together, especially once I committed to this full year.

So it began – and here it is ending. Not my living Full-On – that’s not ending. I have learned that it is indeed possible to live full-on every day. But now that I have made it such a habit, I don’t need a blog to hold me accountable anymore. I also noticed that the more full-on I was living (like traveling in Africa again for three months, or being madly in love), I had less time for blogging;) So rather, it’s the FullOn365 blog itself that is ending.

Here I’ve arrived, and in the last 365 days I’ve manifested:

:: my incredibly amazing fiancee Thai (whom I’ve known for 13 years now…and we finally found our way back to each other after meeting in Kathmandu long ago)
:: I quit my job and have a wonderful entrepreneurial career with life, love, and wellness coaching interspersed with catching babies in beautiful places.
:: I moved to Alaska with my partner and get to see majestic mountains daily and play in them too;) I still have my condo in Telluride, but this mountain town in Alaska suits me quite well
:: I live in an awesome yurt with my partner who built it with his own hands, and who finished it the day I arrived to be with him
:: I am experiencing ever-improving levels of health and well-being
:: markedly less stress
:: traveled to at least 14 countries in the past 18 months, including two trips to Africa
:: launched my long-dreamt about and finally-happening-in-an-epic-way Freedom Sessions Mastermind group
:: 5 months vacation a year (and growing!)
:: preparing to start a family – yup, I’m taking prenatal vitamins for more than awesome hair and nails now, amigos!
:: a closer relationship with my mother
:: a tribe of friends who howl at the moon like I do (in fact, I’m flying to meet them at a beach house in Mexico as I write this)
:: a deepening trust that we are here to be happy. This life is meant to be enjoyed. We enjoy it more when we show up with integrity for others and are a good friend and lover and partner and son or daughter. We are meant to have FUN and live our dreams.

We were put here on this beautiful earth to share our gifts with others. Only then is the Universe complete.

I hope that this blog has served its purpose – not just in holding me accountable to you through my updates for living full-on, but in inspiring you to do the same – EVERY DAY.

Wake the fuck up.

That’s all I have to say. Oh, except to add that what the doctor saw was a small “likely” benign area of higher density on my liver that needed no further follow-up except for a repeat in 6 months – which showed no change (and was therefore deemed to be insignificant). Yay!

PPS: Take a look at this picture. I found it our friend’s remote cabin in Alaska. It’s the manifesto for my life. It’s the manifesto for the way I have been living the past 365 days during my FullOn365 challenge. Let me know what you think about it below – and spread the Freedom!


Days 338 to 358 Keep It Simple, Stupid – but maybe not that simple

Full On 365Wow…coming back from Africa hasn’t been easy. We got back, I worked in Oregon catching babies and visited with friends and family over the holidays, then we came back to Alaska and were here all of one week before leaving to go work in a village out in the bush. I also managed to launch the 2013 Freedom Sessions Mastermind group in those two short weeks, and am THRILLED that almost all the spots are filled! So that gave me a lot of energy, but then I started to get tired with packing and unpacking yet AGAIN. After traveling for three months and coming home to the yurt for only 2 weeks since then, I am craving nesting, like a pregnant woman in her last month, like a sailor returning home after being at sea for years – except with a slight flavor of Gidget on crack.

I know. Scary, right?

Alas, we have also planned a trip to Mexico with a group of friends NEXT WEEK. What was I thinking? I was thinking I hadn’t seen many of my friend’s for months, and we wanted to be someplace warm with each other. Since I had been in Africa for so long, I was focused more on the “with each other” part than the warm part…but it is starting to get chilly here;)

We actually have many friends coming down for the trip – even friends from other states! So in this whirlwind of movement, it naturally crossed our minds to ask: What if we kept things simple and got married in Mexico? A small intimate ceremony then have the big party back in the US this summer? Our parents would actually be OK with it because, well, parents who have kids like us are pretty easy-going about spontaneous big decisions. As long as we had the party;)

However, the reality is, with all this travel and with all this moving around after our return, I am feeling like I am not ready to also rush into planning a wedding in Mexico. Even if it would be simple and amazing and undoubtedly entertaining with the motley crew we’ve conjured up. And I don’t want to keep things SO simple that we don’t give it the proper attention for it to feel sacred.

I am cleansing deeply over the last month, and that has left me with clarity and energy, but on the deep-cleanse days I only have energy for self-care, a bit of yoga, and connecting with my peeps. The fact that my soul hasn’t caught up with me yet from Africa has caused me to feel less present in my relationships, and that is the LAST state of mind I want to be in for planning something like this. Thai has also noticed we are under some stress and pressure, and planning this might make too crazy.

It would be “easier” in some ways to try to do it in Mexico because our friends will already be there in a beautiful place (we rented a PHAT pad on the beach with – get this – and infinity pool yippeee!). Yet we have to honor where our energy is. If it feels right when we are there, and we feel deeply it is the right thing, then we’ll do it. But right now it feels freakin’ CRAZY to try to plan it;)

I have also thought a lot about if I should share this next part, but I figured someone can learn from my process, so why put a kaibash on my vulnerability now, right?

I am trying to get pregnant. I am 39 and going to be 40 this year. I have been involved in Women’s Health and midwifery for over 9 years, and have too good of an understanding of my odds. Did you know the medical term for women over 35 who are pregnant is “Eldery Gavida?” Yup. Elderly.

I know the best I can do is to keep up my self-love practices, continuing to eat well, exercising, decreasing my stress, surrendering to the Universe, to the acupuncture needles, and also surrendering to the fertility specialist if this shizzle doesn’t land a zygote in the next 6 months. In short, don’t be elderly-like unless it’s Yoda-style elderly.

I don’t think I’d do IVF but I would certainly try some other things…I think.

I’ve got a lot going on, to say the least. And it can be easy for me to want to throw my hands up and say, “Whatever! Whatever happens is what will happen!” Like a spontaneous wedding in Mexico. Or not even thinking about this pregnancy thing and not taking extra steps to improve my fertility. But the bottom line is, some things just can’t be THAT simple. Some things deserve a little discomfort and effort (the good kind – not struggle). Sometimes, when you really want something, you can’t just wait and see. You need to move on that shizzle. Be proactive. DO.

When you’re interested in something, you try. When you’re committed, you DO.

I’m going to nest now, so I can save some energy for doing – and BEING me. I’m going to full-on find that balance between surrender and action. Are you with me?

And by the way, I am only 1 week from completing my year of commitment to Full-On living – and as of now, it has been too sweet to even think of stopping!

Days 303 to 337 How I Went From “Simply Sassy” to “Queen B*#!h” and Back Again

The way other people respond to you tells you way more about what it is like to be them, about what it is like to be living their life – and has very little to do with you.

Sorry mom.

This Christmas I was preparing to toast the love of my life at dinner. I started out first toasting my mother, followed by my future father-in-law, then our close friend, and was rather enjoying our dinner, for which I had roasted two ducks and placed juicy slices with crispy skins onto butternut squash ravioli, which was on top of savory shredded brussel sprouts. Yummm, right?!

I turn to my love and say, “And now I’d like to toast the love of my life,” and my mom interrupts and tries to make a joke of sorts by saying, “Oh, this is the second half of their fight! Ha ha ha!” She was referencing a disagreement I had earlier that day with my sweetie, which ended and kisses and was WAY left behind by us. But apparently it was fodder for some intimate-moment sarcasm.

Poor timing to say the least. But not the worst thing to say

Still, I stopped mid-toast, looked at her, and with a totally fake smile said, “Mom, could you please try not to talk right now, because this is when you tend to ruin everything.

Yup. I said that out loud. In front of everyone. I didn’t even try to kick her under the table or something just as juvenile but at least more subtle.


Since when did I go from Simply Sassy to Queen Bitch? I mean, my mom has often put her foot in her mouth, and I’ve been able to let it go, because I’ve learned that I usually notice such things far more than anyone else in the room.

Fortunately it was an intimate dinner with only super close family and friends, so I felt a little less awkward. They called me out on my shit in as funny a way as possible. One friend even managed to turn what I had said into a nice statement about how hearing harsh things sometimes is “the price you pay when hanging with people who get things done, because that’s how things get done”…or something like that. It was a nice but unsuccessful attempt to make my bitchiness seem to have softer edges. We changed the subject to opening presents

Thank God for wine.

To be fair, my mom was experimenting with sarcasm. Since English is her second language, and this is a new thing for her, indeed many comments were somewhat inappropriate. But there were more moments like this.

Like when Thai, my fiancée, who had proposed to me in 15 countries, chose to do so once more because both of our parents were together in once place (a rarity), my mom laughs and starts shouting, “Say, ‘No’ this time! Say no! Ha ha ha!”

No shit.

I crowded out her voice. I know Thai didn’t even hear her because he didn’t know what I was talking about when I mentioned it later. I didn’t say anything then because even though it annoyed the hell out of me, I still respected and valued the sacredness of the moment, which couldn’t be contaminated by anything someone else was shouting. And I whispered, “Yes,” as he held me close.

Then I steamed about it for days. I brought it up to her once, hoping she would see it was inappropriate to be sarcastic in intimate moments. “I was just joking!” she argued back.

Did I mention I hate sarcasm? I tried to tell her this sarcasm thing wasn’t something I was so into. I don’t think she got what sarcastic meant. How ironic.

While I could blame this all on sarcasm, I know that it wasn’t the only reason I was being triggered. These rude outbursts of mine weren’t just happening with my mom. I also snapped at Thai when he said things that I would have normally let slide. And I got super-irritated when a man at the grocery store said, “Wow, you’re a midwife? So, like, how long does it take before the baby is ready to come out?”

That is a totally appropriate question, yet I wanted to shout out, “9 freakin’ months dude! Don’t you watch the Discovery Channel?!” I didn’t shout that out, and since I can apparently maintain professionalism while feeling bitchy, it all went smoothly. Still…

Not my most glowing moment.

So, again, when did I go from Simply Sassy to Queen Bitch? I am usually uber-tolerant, patient, and chillaxed, especially after a nice long vacation. But here is what I realized that turned everything around:

I was unhealthy.

It was hard to admit. I – who has identified myself with terms such as climbing guide, yoga instructor, massage therapist, holistic healthcare practitioner, meditator, Buddhist – had become unhealthy.

It snuck up on me, really.

It started with a crappy diet in Africa because vegetables were hard to find, and we didn’t have a kitchen. I was eating lots of bread which I hardly eat at home, fried food, and salt, with minimal veggies and clean water. I even brought green veggie powder and multivitamins, which probably saved me from complete lunacy…but it still wasn’t enough.

I also had beer or wine almost every night, because it felt sooooo good after traveling in the heat, and after all, I was on vacation! I had to sit on trains and busses and the back of pickup trucks for 8-13 hours a day, many days in a row. I didn’t run because it would be between 90-120 degrees out on many days. I did yoga some mornings, but not most.

I was taking one antibiotic tablet a day to prevent malaria and I had taken de-worming medications after working at the refugee camp, so I am sure my body was thrown by all that too (but less so than it would have been with worms! Yuck!).

I hadn’t slept well for many nights because of the heat and the early bus/train schedules. I had to unpack and re-pack every day. We stayed in one place for more than one night four times in almost three months. Then when we got back, it was the Holidays, and my jet lag was waking me up at 2 or 3am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with nowhere to go.

My soul was having a hard time catching up to me. And that’s an understatement.

The more I coach and the more I work in healthcare (over 14+ years now!), I realize how mood is affected by how healthy we are. We can blame feeling pissy on so many things, like “lame people” or “the government” or the elusive, “they.” Yet I have found that when we are healthy, we make better choices (which leads to happier results), and can flow much more readily and steadily with life’s bumps without getting rocked so hard. And getting bitchy.

I immediately booked a massage with my favorite therapist the day after Christmas. I went to yoga everyday during lunch. I listened to meditation sessions on my iPhone.  I tried to sleep more every night, although jet lag was working hard against me on that one. I reluctantly unscheduled some visits with people I cared about.

I did these things even though it meant I was missing out on time with my family and friends. I’d rather be pleasant when I WAS around them than not do what it takes to feel balanced and have all this free time to be a bitch with them.

I signed up AHEAD OF TIME for two weeks of yoga classes in Alaska to start the day after we got back. I didn’t schedule anything for two weeks so I could focus on my Freedom Sessions Mastermind group that I am going to launch the second week of January (stay tuned!). I asked my partner to make sure I refrained from processed foods and meat, and that if I did eat meat, I wanted it to be wild game or organic. He agreed.

I launched into a cleanse too, eliminating alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, meat, processed foods, unfermented soy and adding IN more fresh veggies, green juices, and other foods bursting with energy. Making these nutritional changes made the quickest difference of all the above. We are what we eat!

I moved back towards my center, I started feeling more balanced way faster than the time it took to get this unbalanced in the first place, and I was able to hug my mom when she “should-ed” all over me, because that’s what moms are for;)

I felt SPACE, I felt less anxiety, I felt relaxed, patient, kind, generous. All from coming back to center, honoring my needs, and leading a healthier lifestyle.

So you see, it wasn’t my mom’s fault at all. She was being herself, and whether it bothered me or not, I was reacting a certain way because of where I was at.

I learned that I floated a little away from what I always tell my clients: pick your top 3-6 things that you want to prioritize. Everything else fits AROUND those things.

In the end, this comes down to self-love. When we practice self-love, we have more to give to others.
What are your top three to six non-negotiables when it comes to nurturing and loving on yourself? Mine (for now) are:

1) regular exercise (for me that is a combination of some kind of cardio in the outdoors, and yoga)
2) good sleep (7-8 hours a night)
3) healthy food and drink
4) quality time with my close friends and family
5) quality alone time for myself (at least a half-day a week) – meditation falls under this
6) time to create for Freedom Junkie

I am open to that list changing, and I may even create one with more concrete details for each week or month (like making sure I get in three yoga sessions, ski twoFull On 365 days, launch Freedom Sessions, etc…). It is so easy to get overwhelmed, and I find knowing your priorities will help with sifting through the shizzle.

PS: If you are interested in creating a healthier and more balanced YOU in 2013, stay tuned for Life Aligned – an upcoming 6-month health and wellness program where we will get your body – and life – aligned with your dreams!

Note: Ana Neff is a personal life and health coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting

Days 275 to 303 Why “This Is LIFE!” Should Be Your New Mantra – News from Southern Africa

“I think all these little brown dots on the ground are…some kind of poo,” I suggest. Well, according to Thai’s imitation, I actually sounded like a grandma inspecting her kitchen for dirt with a white glove. “YOU have a look then!” I say to him. He gets down on his knees with my headlamp and after a few minutes of inspection, he uses a common medical phrase, “I’m afraid I can’t rule it out.”

Meaning he also thought the ground might actually be covered with poo (and I mean carpeted, not “dotted with”). More correctly, it meant that he couldn’t say what it was – or wasn’t.

I paused and took an “inner inventory of options,” if you will. The whole area in this section of the Kalahari desert we were camping in was truly covered with this stuff. Thousands of little bushes surrounded us that could hide little “poo machines” like desert shrew and what not.

I realized I had to be OK with camping in a carpeted world of little African rodent crap. And FYI: rodents are some of the main vectors for the more serious tropical diseases we were treating in the refugee camps.

I proceeded to set up the tent over the carpet of whatever-it-was.

This is Africa, baby. Deal with it.

Then I’m driving through Botswana and a little grouse walks in front of us on the highway. I toot the least-threatening-horn-ever of our trusted VW “Springbok,” and she takes flight. I sigh, relieved…Only to watch her get slammed by a speeding truck coming in the other direction. Feathers everywhere. Tears well up in my eyes. I reach for Thai’s hand for reassurance that it was a swift death, and I suck it up. Well, I let the tears well up a little longer, then I suck it up.

This is Africa, baby. T.I.A. Deal with it. At least it wasn’t a donkey or a cow.

I get a fast and furious GI illness that takes me out for a few hours. I’m puking my insides out. People are frolicking by the pool. Dancing at the bar. Thai tries to get a room for me but reception is closed. We’re camping. Far away from the porcelain basins. Thai brings my sleeping pad next to the bathroom doors and I sleep there for awhile. Happy drunk girls wander around me without thinking twice. Happy drunk boys walk past with stupid thoughts and continue on. I am thrilled to be so close to my new porcelain friends. The bar manager asks if we’d like to move our tent next to the bathrooms. Why, Yes! THANK YOU! We do.


Alright. Let’s talk about this phrase I hear a lot here: “This is Africa” or “TIA.” When shit happens here, people usually do one of two things:

1) get pissed and be pissed in the heat with no subsequent change in the outcome or…

2) shrug it off, sigh, smile, and say – with a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood – “This is Africa!” Then let it go, and buy a beer. Likely, you will then wait (many of the frustrations involve waiting and waiting and waiting…).

Why is this letting go something that so many people are so willing to do here, but are so UNwilling to do back in their home countries? I mean, this is kind of huge, in my mind.

Do you realize HOW MUCH HAPPIER we’d be if we could say, for example, “This is life!” Or “Shit happens ha ha ha!!!” then let go, and get on with being and living?!! It would be amazing!

I realize that what I’m talking about is, on some level, deep spiritual work, and it takes time and energy. We need to become aware of our attachments and expectations, our sense of entitlement, our excuses based on our “wounds.”

Then we need to develop the space between the thoughts and emotions and actions to allow a different response (meditation and yoga are my fave ways of cultivating this).

Then we need to stop ruminating about what could have or should have been, stop replaying the suffering (trust me – the poor bird ran many reels of movie-time through my head after that event), stop daydreaming about what might have been, and get the fuck on with our lives!

We need to learn to OWN IT and ROCK IT. Focus on what we want. Not on what we don’t want.

So yes, it is, on some level, deep spiritual work.

But it is also something simple: a CHOICE. This I what happens in Africa. Many of us simply
choose to simply let go. Life is better – and more effortless – that way.

What is happening RIGHT NOW? That’s what you should be focused on. Nothing else. Not on your expectations or past dreams. CHOOSE to let things go, and focus on the things you CAN work with.

One of my favorite quotes is:

“If you CAN change something, why be unhappy? If you CAN’T change setting, why be unhappy?” ~ Shantideva, A Bodhisattva’s Guide to The Way of Life

Suffering in Africa is no less intense than in the “Western world” (and many would argue it is even moreso). Contrary to popular belief, people here are no less sensitive to suffering, either. I also don’t think they are necessarily more “spiritually evolved” when it comes to non-attachment.

So why, here in Africa, are locals and expatriots and travelers able to let go so much more readily? (Caveat: if you are not prone to this adaptation, you’d likely avoid Africa altogether anyway).

I believe the difference is a keen understanding of the above statement: Knowing the difference between what you can and cannot change. Here in Africa, it is much easier to make that distinction. And while it can be terribly frustrating, it can be quite a relief, actually.

I remember after many trips to Asia when I was working as a climbing guide, I walked into a supermarket in the US to buy toothpaste after returning home, and I was completely overwhelmed by the ENTIRE ISLE of choices: With baking soda or without? Tatar control? Fluoride? Mint or peppermint? Gel or paste? I mean, WTF, right?! In Nepal I’d ask for toothpaste and get handed a tube over the counter. That was IT. Take it or leave it. It’s the only toothpaste they had. I rather miss that sometimes. I have more important things to ponder. I’m sure you do too!

Things are similar in many parts of Africa. The bus will leave when it leaves, no matter what the schedule says.

Animals will get hit regularly on the the side of the road, because people have cattle that need to graze, and there is grass along the roadway, and one-lane highways.

You have to pay a guy a few cents to make sure your car doesn’t get broken into. While thuggish himself, he’s part of a street-wise system way larger than you or your desire to save a few cents or sense of self-righteousness about the way things should work.

You don’t know your car’s “engine number” for the border crossing? They don’t care that they didn’t ask at the other border when you came in. Find the engine number. Whatever that is.

You see, it’s easier to see what you can and can’t change here. We are all in it together.

In the US, I observe – and admittedly found myself a part of – a sense of entitlement, of how if we yell loud enough, or show the right small print, or tell a really good version of our personal tragic story, we’ll eventually get what we want (and in our minds, what we deserve).

It’s true that some of these things protect us and keep things running efficiently. I am grateful for those aspects of it.

However, we need to keep in mind that the unintended result of this is that we have, as a society, become less adept at letting go of the small stuff. We are less skilled at quickly putting things into perspective, and not trying to control the things we cannot change. And it IS a skill. (pssst: we teach these Jedi Skills at Freedom Junkie;)

Next time shit happens – and try to start with the small stuff, like when the food that gets brought to your table is not exactly what you ordered, or when your friend is 15 minutes late – try out T.I.L. “This Is Life!” It’s happening right now. It’s perfectly imperfect! Live it! Don’t screw it all up with ideas of how it should have been!

Things are much more fun this way;)

What are you choosing to let go of today? Or what have you already chosen to let go of already? (And by the way, Bravo, Badass!). Do share below…I want to know!

PS: the little dots were not poo. In the light of day, we could see they were seeds from the surrounding trees:) Poo Trees, I’ve decided to call them

PPS: for those wanting in on the other full-on adventures since my last post, they include:

* Hiking through the deep red sand dunes of Soussvlei in Namibia

* Being awe-struck by the stark vastness of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

* Spotting lions, rhinos, elephants, giraffe, and more at Etosha National Park

* Visiting the majestic Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

* Chobe National Park morning game drive and sunset river boat cruise to see hippos, crocodiles, and more lions rarrrrrrr! (Botswana)

* A tree fell on Springbok in a big Botswanan storm and she survived unscathed! Amazing!

* Romantic and beautiful nights and days of camping in Botswana’s Okavango Delta after lazy rocking mokoro travel through the delta (where a wonderful man named BT took us in his dug-out canoe through the reed pathways, using his pole to navigate the waters (and hippos!). If you want a guide’s number for the Okavango, he’s awesome and you’ll save LOTS of money booking directly. Email me!

* and proposal update: add on Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia to the list! So many good stories about those moments:)

* there are more, but those will have to wait for when I don’t have to thumb type! Thank you for your patience:)

Now we’re back in South Africa after having just crossed the border from Botswana border in our trusty VW Polo (aka “Springbok”). It will be sad to leave her. Her maiden voyage has been quite epic to be a part of!

We head to the Quirimbas Archipelago in northern Mozambique tomorrow morning. Beach time!!!!! Yay!!! We plan to sail and dive off the traditional dhows there. Hopefully we can find one to charter that we can afford!!!???

For more photos, please friend me on Facebook if you haven’t yet and check out pics here. There are a few videos on my YouTube channel too.

Below are pictures of me with a Himba woman in Namibia (she was a midwife too so we had some nice chats. When I told her some peeps in the states ate their placenta she gagged then spit LOL), Springbok at camp on the Skeleton Coast, the red dunes of Soussvlei, and the mokoro in the Okavango Delta.

Be free, fellow Freedom Junkies!

Remember: the world responds to ACTION, so get out there and DO something differently to move you closer towards your freedom!!!! I’m rooting for you;)







Days 264 to 274 Full On Gorillas and Rebels

20121111-164103.jpg“Excuse me, could you please ask him not to point the gun at my husband while we’re driving?” I asked, thinking of the numerous – and massive – potholes we were about to hit. I was referring to the Congolese rebel in the back of our truck.

Our friend translated. “No problem!” replied the rebel with a smile. Then he shifted the gun towards the other side, which ended up pointing at our friend instead…so we asked him to point it out the back, please. He then realized we didn’t want the gun pointed at anyone’s head, and smiled graciously as he proudly shifted the rifle out the back window.

It took a good week to get to the Congo after a short stop in Seattle and a nice overnight in Amsterdam, then a flight and night in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, then a long drive across the equator to our new home for the next month. The whole time the plan was to work at the same refugee camp, called Nakivale, that Thai had worked at 2 years ago. However, as soon as our driver picked us up in the 4-door Hilux (Africa’s diesel version of the Toyota Tacoma), our agency had changed plans and we were heading to a new transit refugee camp right on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since June of this year, the rebels in Eastern Congo had taken over a large part of Eastern Congo north of the city of Goma. There had been a new influx of refugees, some 10,000 or so. A new transit refugee camp was set up in July in a town called Kisoro. Since then, waves of refugees have come across the border here. The camp, run by the UN High Commission for Refugees, was set up with the help of MSF, or “Doctors Without Borders.” After the first couple months, the medical portion was taken over by our agency, Medical Teams International, whom Thai and I work for.

The refugee camp is just down the road from our hotel. The road to this town of Kisoro crosses over high mountain passes and volcanic peaks, winding and twisting.

Our first weekend off, we planned to climb a volcano, a steep one called Sabinyo, meaning “old man’s teeth.” We hired a boda boda – a Ugandan motorcycle taxi. We gave the driver 10,000 Ugandan Shilling to use his motorcycle to scout out the access for the mountain on our Saturday off. We drove through beautiful terraced terrain. The base of the volcanoes were dotted with multiple volcanic cinder cones that were terraced for abundant agriculture dotted with small Ugandan villages.

After a nice ride and some views, we decided to take a look at the border crossing into Congo, where the refugees were coming from. Thai asked the border guard if we could go across to see the Congo side for an hour or two. To our surprise (especially because we didn’t have passports on us), he said yes and let us by. That was the most pleasant African border crossing I had ever experienced (I think at that point it was my 8th such crossing). I was surprised at how friendly and easy-going it was. Then I realized it was rebels that were manning the border crossing. These are some of the benefits of rebels at the border instead of government workers, I suppose. They’re more lax on the bureaucracy;)

We went onto the other side to check things out. To make a long story short, we met a French camera team and a photographer from Reuters who were heading into the Congo to film the mountain gorillas. Could we come along? Yes! We acted quickly, ditched the volcano plan, ran back to our place, grabbed gear and passports and went back across the border into Congo with the camera team. This time we got visas. We spent the night, and the next morning jumped into a two Land Cruiser convoy.

This is where I asked the armed guard with us to change the position of his AK-47. We headed on a two-hour, bumpy, muddy, 4-wheel drive adventure to the start of our walk to find the Mountain Gorillas in remote Congo.

The French film crew was putting a documentary together for France Deux, (France channel two) about the tourism industry returning to see the mountain gorillas in Congo. Ironically, no tourist had really returned to the Congo since the rebels had taken over the area in July. There hadn’t been any tourist in the last 6 weeks, the film director had been waiting for about 5 weeks to see if any were coming. He thought there might have literally been a handful in August and September, and none prior due to the insurgence of the rebels in July. So instead, they found two French guys working and living in Kampala to be their “tourists.” When we showed up at the border, they were pleasantly suprised to see us and happy for us to join in so that they had real tourists to film (I even landed a speaking part in the final cut!).

There was also a Ugandan photographer working for Reuters on a few projects in the DRC. He lived in Germany, but spent a lot of time shooting photos in southern Sudan and eastern Congo. He sat next to us in the Toyota, with the aforementioned soldier in the back.

“The last time I came through here, I didn’t come back the same way,” he said.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I was arrested by the Congolese military.” Suffice it to say, he favored the way the rebels treated him.

He was on assignment earlier in the year and was following a group of rebels for several days. On his way back, he passed a military check point and they nabbed him. This history explained the bullet proof vest and helmet he had along. Thai tried them on for fun, of course. It fit, of course;) This journalist was a great source of info on eastern Congo, and we riddled him with questions. His personal knowledge base was refreshing since first-hand information on the confusing “African World War” that has been tormenting this side of Congo is hard to come by.

After two hours, we came to a trail head and climbed up the edge of a remnant volcanic cinder cone through the terraced crops of bananas, corn, onion, millet and many other greens. We topped out and crossed a cow pasture that was the volcanic crater of the cone and reached the edge of the thick Congolese jungle. There were 6 in the group: 2 Congolese guides, the 2 of us, the Ugandan Reuters photographer, and we were accompanied by about 12 armed men, presumably part of the rebel army in control of the area.

We entered into the thick misty Congolese jungle. Bamboo forest intertwined with crazy thick African vegetation. The trackers were ahead and knew more or less where the gorillas had been. As we got closer, we found clues of recent gorilla activity, bamboo shoots freshly eaten, matted down vegetation, a gorilla “nest” where they had slept, and the occasional fresh pile of not-quite-steaming gorilla poo.

Unlike the fancy gorilla tracking in Rwanda or Uganda – where they use radios to let people know where the gorillas were – in the Congo, our guide followed hash marks made with a panga (aka machete) left in bamboo stalks by the trackers ahead, who slept near the gorillas and protected them from poachers. They kept them habituated to tourists by doing this, since with the lack of activity, they would have potentially grown wild again, and this valuable educational tool and source of income for a very poor country would have been lost as a consequence of a civil war.

Moments later… we came upon the famous Mountain gorillas

Here’s more photos from the Reuters photographer already on an Italian news site (they’re quite impressive!)

Isn’t that full on?! And that was just our first weekend off;) I can’t catch you up on the rest of the past month yet because Internet access has been hard to come by, and there is too much to tell via thumb-typing on my iPhone. Thanks for your patience!

Another note about this Congolese adventure: something I have learned is that the word “rebel” in warring countries means a lot of different things. It doesn’t always mean a pissed of armed person.

In the DRC there are 14 rebel groups at this time. Some are thuggish and violent (like the ones scaring our refugees over the border), some are just trying to keep themselves (and their families/villages) safe like gangs, others want to make money. Some want to save the gorillas and some want to poach them…you get the point.

Some people (not rebels;) that we spoke to even feel the Ugandan military is more aggressive than most rebel groups they have encountered. To confuse this further, rebel groups can even dress like the military, so it’s hard to visually tell them apart.

I am saying this because a lot was new information to me, and it reminded me – once again – to always question what you hear. Even from the UN. Even from CNN. Even from the BBC (I feel like pointing out Fox News as a dubious news source would be insulting to your intelligence, so I won’t). I’m not saying all I heard was the truth either. I’m just saying that it is valuable to ask real people who are experiencing it directly yourself when you can!

This whole adventure reminds me once again of the power of travel – not just to adventure and learn, but to UNDERSTAND, one layer deeper, about what others experience. I find that overall, travel keeps me more open-minded and less judgmental.

And this world could use a whole lot more of that, shugah!!!!

A quick synopsis of the rest of the month:
* motorcycle safari through Lake Mburo National Park, where zebras crossed our paths and cute little warthogs ran from us every time (yes, they really are cute!)
* lounging on a tropical island in massive Lake Victoria during an eight-hour electric storm (!!!!!)
* getting proposed to in three countries at the same time on the top of Sabyinyo volcano, whose peak borders Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC (yes, we finally climbed it – and there were steep, rickety, wooden ladders for the entire last bit of the summit)
* a romantic evening at a lakeside eco-resort on Lake Bunyoni (the only lake in Uganda free of the disease bilharzia!)
* a trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park where I stared at a massive elephant as he trumpeted at us
* …and more goodies that I’ll share if we end up fireside with a glass of wine in hand at some point! Deal?

All in all, Uganda was epic. Now we are off to explore Southern Africa, where we will pass through Cape Town, then head into Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, and Malawi (that’s the short list, at least!).

I’m thinking about you, my fellow Freedom Junkies! And don’t worry- while I’m here, I am also loving creating the next adventures for YOU in 2013. In addition to awesome new Jedi Juice topics (for those of you that are new here, those are my free monthly calls), I’m also nailing down the details for the 2013 Freedom Sessions Mastermind group, which will rock the next year for a small group of lucky peeps! Stay tuned for more juiciness.

And lastly – but not leastly (new word!) – because I care about your freedom, I have to ask: What are you going to do differently today? As we know, doing things differently frees your mind, and that’s epic shizzle;) Shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you!

To Your Freedom,


Days 261 to 263 Selfish Wisdom

20121111-164735.jpgWhat is “selfish wisdom?”

In using that term, I interpreted the Dalai Lama as meaning that if people really wanted to be happy, they would be totally selfish…and totally selfish in his world means you would be TOTALLY COMPASSIONATE. He calls this “selfish wisdom” because when you do what’s best for others, you are happier. Consistently.

Sometimes doing what’s best for others means sacrificing for others. But often – and get ready for this one – it means doing whatever will help YOU show up in the world as a better person. Why?

Miserable people make the people around them miserable. Truly happy people (people with happiness sourced from inside themselves) uplift the people around them.

You see, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: People love that I am out here doing work for refugees in Uganda, and every day the Congolese refugees show me their gratitude with deep eyes…and I am thrilled that I love doing what I do…but to be honest, it’s really secondary that it helps others. I really do like sleeping on funky beds and working my way through a harried market, coming up with creative ways to solve health problems with limited resources, and dealing with emergencies with no one else around (and above is a photo of me teaching a class to the local health providers…but you can’t see the guest goat that is in the front row;).

I help others because I get off on it. It fills me, it nourishes me, it lights me up!

And thank goddess that peeps like me enjoy doing this, right?! If not, the folks who didn’t would be doing this and be miserable and bitter and wanting to go home, except for some guilt trip that held them prisoner. Now who, my friends, needs guilt-ridden pity? In my mind, no one. Not if we all did what filled us up.

Is this “Selfish” in the Dalai Lama’s sense of the word? Or should the fact that I love this shizzle discount my humanitarian efforts? Would my work be more worthy if I hated it? I say, “Hellz no!”

When we do what lights us up, others benefit. Every time.

So if I was into designing shoes, my badass shoes would help women feel confident when they walked into that meeting they were nervous about, or they’d feel sexy when they were having a down day and rock that first date with their uber-crush.

If I was passionate about teaching, I’d love doing lesson plans at nights and parents would thank me at the next PTA meeting for how much their child has grown in my classroom (and doing so outside, for if I were a teacher, I would teach a LOT outside!).

If I was into sushi (which I am, but not quite a connoisseur at making it), people would choose to have epic life events like engagements or milestone birthdays or “I’m happy being single” dates at my restaurant, and they’d be creating immortal happy memories.

You get it, yes? I’m lucky that I like working in refugee camps because its like cooking with butter. In my mind, what’s there not to love about doing it?

However, no matter what you do, if you love it – if it lights you up – there is absolutely nothing else you should be doing. At all. However selfish it may seem, if it doesn’t impose on others’ freedom, have at it, love!

You were put here to be happy. Not to suffer.

As a truly spiritual being, you find joy in bringing happiness to others. I know this. You know this. The people that truly know you know this,

Why are there disco balls, waterfalls, clear blue seas, true loves, orgasms, pudgy baby faces, rich dark chocolate, kaleidoscopic sunsets, high-grade Egyptian cotton sheets to make love in, powder snow, hot springs under clear skies, the perfect Pinot Noir, a forgiving nod from a friend or an estranged parent? For YOU to be happy.

Full On 365 Claim Your Birthright. Choose happiness. Others will be happier because of it. For realz!

Days 252 to 260 I Love My Life!

20121017-230009.jpg I love my life. I don’t even know where to start telling you about why. But what I do know is that there was a little bit of guilt when I started to write this:

“I love my life.”

There’s a small voice that says I shouldn’t write that when so many others are unhappy. Like I’m bragging. Or like I’m going to make others feel bad about their life.

But that’s not why I’m talking about how much I love my life. I’m talking about it first and foremost because I want you to know that it is indeed possible to be this happy. That happiness is not elusive, or some kind of Hollywood bullshit ideal that we need to let go of. I want you to know that you should not settle, because you may be missing out on the ultimate happiness.

I have indeed settled before. And settling is sometimes a stepping stone…a way to feel safe before you take the next leap. And sometimes it is simply what we do because we’re scared to want what we really want.

I’ve been married to a perfectly cool guy and had a pretty sweet life with some travel and adventure and a beautiful home on the hilltop. I had “nothing to complain about,” except for the fact that I had a nagging feeling that there was more.

Then I felt guilty for wanting more. Like, “Girl, you grew up in the ghetto and you’re complaining about this?!”

(Guilt sucks! I’m getting better at not giving it so much power…)

In any event, I made some pretty bold decisions once I realized I was settling – and I define “settling” based on MY terms. I was settling not based on what other people wanted, because many wanted exactly what I had. Instead, I realized that I was settling because MY definition of happiness wasn’t being met. I was an unusual cookie, and my life wasn’t in alignment with ME.

Here are some of the bold moves I took once I realized I wasn’t living life to the fullest:

– Years ago, when this realization first hit, I got a divorce when I realized my partner and I no longer helped each other grow. As time went on and my need for freedom grew:
– I quit my job
– I put my awesome house on the market
– I disappointed someone who really really loved me because I knew that this time around, I wanted to choose to be with someone with whom I had NO DOUBT that we would live lives of freedom, adventure, and purpose together…with ease
– Let me say that again: I chose things to be easy in my relationship. I had lots of opportunities to be happy with a man, but work really hard at it, or have to go through so much bullshit in order to get there. I decided that was not how I wanted to roll.
– I started my own business
– I decided to move to Alaska for the true love of my life
– I committed to living Full On for 365 days in a row (the idea that spawned this blog) after I had another cancer scare (I’d already had cancer twice before). I realized that I was settling once again and wasn’t even aware – even after my previous wake up calls. Settling can be sneaky…

I also set clear intentions for the type of relationship, lifestyle, community, and spiritual evolution that I wanted, and made a commitment to myself to not settle for anything less – AND I allowed myself to be happy even before those things manifested.

Settling does not mean being content. Settling is letting go of your dreams. You can be content with life and not be settling for what you currently have.

For example, I was single, and while I longed for my soul mate, I was able to be happy while not in a relationship. I actually believe I had to reach that state before the Universe brought us together. We had to show we were ready, because any truly kick-ass relationship doesn’t require the other to be the cause/source of your happiness. That’s too much freakin’ work and responsibility for anyone who has any big plans for themselves in life. A relationship is more like the cherry on top…your playmate and partner for this wild ride called Your Life.

I do want to emphasize that getting clear about what I wanted and committing to it was paramount in manifesting my life as I love it right now. If you need to get more clear yourself and find yourself saying, “I’m not even sure about what exactly it is that I want,” or “I know what I DON’T want, but am not sure about what’s next” (great place to start, by the way!), download my free eBook. Pronto.

In any event, I want to let you know that I was also scared…but in a good, about-to-drop-off-the-rollercoaster kind of way. I also had people tell me – very nicely – that I might be making a mistake. They asked me if I was sure I wanted to do such drastic things before I was “sure” all was going to be OK.

Folks, just like waiting until you’re ready before having a baby – you are never going to be “sure” that things are going to be OK through assessing external circumstances. Being OK – feeling content, confident, “Ziji” – is an inner state of mind.

I also had to let go of my specific ideas for what I wanted, like where I wanted to live, or my specific soulmate. I held them in my mind, but focused MORE on asking for a way I would FEEL and BE in a particular scenario like a relationship (then, of course, my specific soulmate arrived;).

I had to learn how to say, “No,” because saying “No” to some things meant I was saying, “Yes!” to others.

I did deep work, reaching out to friends, mentors, my coaches (yes, I have more than one!), and immersed myself in reading and movies and experiences that fully supported my mindset and my choices.

I surrendered.

I asked for help.

So, you might be wondering:

What was the result of those bold moves and deciding that I didn’t need to settle because I was capable of making myself happy without choosing security over freedom and following my bliss?

– I accepted my Renaissance Soul instead of listening to everyone who told me, “You need to focus!” and crafted a lifestyle where I am a Life Coach, Guide, and Mentor to women all over the world; a Nurse-Midwife working in three different states; a Family Nurse Practitioner who works in remote villages and volunteers in refugee camps (I’m on a flight to Entebbe, Uganda as I write this); and an avid blogger who loves to inspire others.
– I am engaged to my soul mate (we met 12 years ago!), who proposed to me as we watched the Northern Lights dancing above us…We were lounging on the sailboat we have dry-docked on our land, surrounded by friends at our yurt as we celebrated our departure to Africa.
– I am taking prenatal vitamins with an actual intention to get pregnant instead of for fabulous hair and nails
– I live a rich lifestyle without the burden of needing “stuff” to feel abundant
– I am amply rewarded – financially and spiritually – for the work I do in all my multi-passionate jobs
– I am surrounded by a tribe of friends that also love to dance, play music, and howl at the moon
– I took five months off this year and still can afford the mortgages on my home in Oregon and my ski condo in Telluride, as well as sushi and wine and those other luxuries I adore;)
– I have a deepening relationship with my mother as I learn more and more how to let go, forgive, and trust – all of which is reinforced as I live from my heart

I am sure there is more, but that is what I wake up feeling gratitude for each day.

I write this for YOU, that you may be inspired to manifest your dreams, and actively create a life lived YOUR way. That you can say, “I know about this chick who grew up in the ghetto. She wasn’t rich or Caucasian or privileged, and she still manifested all the shizzle in life that she wanted. And she was whacky and didn’t play by the rules. She said, ‘No,’ and disappointed others and thought WAY out of the box. She didn’t always do what was safe. She took big risks and was scared, but took risks anyway. Everyone, especially her mother, thought she was crazy.”

And this I say to you:

This mean YOU CAN TOO!

Days 236 to 252 The Freedom of Realizing You Are Not “Wounded”

Full On 365It has been longer than usual since my last entry, and most of that is because my mom came all the way up to Alaska and slept in a red shack and smiled the whole time – and I owed her my full attention;)

During this time, I have been in awe at how much my relationship with my mom has changed – and how much she herself has changed.

You see, I had a lot of anger about my childhood for many years. I was uber-pissed, and for objectively good reasons. I won’t go into details, but you can imagine the myriad reasons people feel wounded and broken. However, in the end, I knew that deep down, despite their mistakes, my parents were indeed doing the best they could in the moment with what they had available to them.

So, as an adult, I had a choice to make:

1) I could keep reminding myself and my mom that things really sucked growing up and about how much she hurt me, and that I was all sensitive and defensive because of her, and that she really screwed up royally with some things. Then she’d apologize and feel shitty about herself and I’d feel guilty and all upset after re-hashing all that crap. And we’d do this over and over, as I strived to get back at her for hurting me the way she did through guilt-trips and passive aggressive behavior and not-so-passive aggressive behavior…

OR – I could stop thinking that I was deeply wounded and broken, wanting to make those feelings go away until I allowed myself to move forward...Wanting to “understand” everything and have it make sense – and have everyone understand and agree that I was wounded – before I allowed myself to be happy. I could stop that and instead…

2) Say, “Well, that sucked. Royally. But now it’s time to create my new life.”

Needless to say, after years of #1 and hanging out in therapy wondering why I was still having panic attacks, I decided to try #2. And it kicks ass.

I can’t describe the shift that happened when I stopped thinking that in order to heal, I had to wallow in the past until some magical moment when things would feel right.

I realized that insight and understanding don’t fix everything. They feel good, sure. They’re useful, sure. But what created real shift for me was changing what I DID. How I thought, how I responded, the situations I created.

It was ACTION that allowed me to grow and change…and ultimately, heal.

It was ACTION that allowed me to see myself as whole, and perfectly resourceful and creative. That I was indeed perfect as I was. Not broken. Not wounded to the core. Not in need of more therapy or days of crying to feel seen.

Action, baby.

Of course, I found therapy helpful for some things, especially learning how to notice what I was feeling, and being able to share my story with someone who wasn’t going to try to explain it away or justify things. It helped me make sense of certain memories and I felt incredibly safe sharing deeply with someone that seemed “qualified” for me to lose my shit in front of. At that time, I had very real fears of losing my mind.

But in hindsight, which is always lovely, I realize that maybe I just needed one round of that. Then I needed to get off my ass and do things differently.

I needed to create a different relationship with my mom, or walk away. The latter wasn’t an option for me, because I love her deeply.

I asked her for what I needed to hear in order to be able to forgive her. I asked that she reflect on it and come back to me if and when she felt she could say it with full sincerity. She did. And I tried letting go then and there. It was awesome!

Of course, I still get my buttons pushed and some tender spots are still there, but I realized that I could simply DECIDE to move forward!


It took patience (on both our parts), and I fell into some old patterns a lot in the beginning, but I was committed to doing things differently.

Now, instead of feeling the need to hear my mom apologize every time we hang out, or to want to process something with her, we get to enjoy each other. I allowed her to do things differently. And she allowed me the same.

We allowed ourselves to grow, to change, to EVOLVE.

We are having our best years together yet, and I know it will just keep getting better.

Life is too short to be perpetually wounded or to believe you are broken. It is impossible for those to be true.

Create space and say what you need to say, feel heard by a good counselor or coach or therapist or mentor. If you feel deep emotional wounds that manifest as severe depression or other serious mood disorders, address that with a qualified therapist. But remember:

You are not broken. You may hurt – deeply – but you are not broken.

You were wounded in the past. True. Stop picking at the scabs.

Move forward. Do things differently.

Be patient.

Be compassionate – with yourself.

You. Are. Enlightened.

I bow to you. For realz.

(If you’d like to read another post about changing mindsets that are tough to change, click here)

Are you interested in taking this to a deeper level? Keep an eye out for my 2013 Freedom Sessions Mastermind. We will spend 6 months as an intimate tribe, working with our minds and inner beings methodically and metaphysically, learning what our old stories are, skills to unravel, debunk, and oust unhealthy thought patterns and beliefs, and rewriting our new life stories – making change more permanent and lasting. This helps us effectively creating the lives we desire – finally! – and we’ll be having FUN while we’re at it;) Contact me here if you’d like to learn more. It will be juicy!

Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Freedom Junkie™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting (note: it’s new look will be up to rock your world soon)!

Days 236 to 241 Slowing Down And Reconnecting With My Dad’s Spirit

Full On 365I like my hands now. I didn’t always used to. They were never long and dainty like the models’ hands that I saw in dishsoap ads growing up. They weren’t sinewy and powerful like the climber chicks’ I spent years hanging out with, either. They were…hands.  Didn’t hide ‘em. Didn’t flash ‘em. Didn’t think they looked really cool with rings on.

Once, I got a manicure and I thought they looked pretty cool, but I was 11, and even then I knew that I wasn’t going to be spending my time getting manicures. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with manicures. But with the things I do every day, a manicure would get messed up pretty quickly.

In any event, during the last few weeks, I’ve been noticing I catch a look at my hands and I think of one thing, and one thing only – my dad.

I really see my dad – who died at the age of 83 in the year 2003 – when I gaze at my hands. My mom used to comment on how she was glad I got his hands. She liked how they weren’t bony, or too rough. He played the acordion and the harmonica. His hands were musical. He wasn’t much of a handyman, but he could hug. Big time.

I’ve been spending the last 3 weeks on the Island of St. Paul in the Pribilofs, a remote archipelago in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. I usually scatter some of his ashes when I go someplace cool – someplace where I think he would have liked to have gone with me. He was an older dad and so by the time I had discovered the outdoors, his mobility was decreased by age and cardiovascular disease (or shall I say, 60 years of smoking?) and he couldn’t come with me on many adventures that I would have liked to have brought him on. But I forgot his ashes this time.

Perhaps that I why I finally saw him so vividly in my own body. I had a need to share all this with him on a physical level, and it wasn’t until now – at 39 years old – that I saw how much of him was a part of me. I suppose 50%, to be exact. But I didn’t get it until now.

I smile deeply as I watch the fur seals at their rookeries on St. Paul and think of how he used to marvel at even starfish, gazing at them and running his fingers along their legs.

When I pause to watch the wind waves that form in the tall grasses as they are blown in every which direction, I recall how he used to ask me to pause when I pushed his wheelchair under a grove of old growths in MuirWoods and say, as he gazed up at the suns rays peeping through the branches and took hold of my hand, “This…this is my cathedral.”

As I hang out in the clinic laughing boisterously with my patients in the waiting room, people wondering why I was hanging out there and not in my office, and chatting with teenage girls about their sex lives (in private!) and asking them questions that bring a look of shock to their faces, I remember my dad pretending to be a squirrel in a park once, looking really stupid but making me laugh so hard. He didn’t care what people thought. He just wanted ME to be happy. And that taught me a big lesson early on in the importance of not caring about what people thought of you if it meant compromising your values. That gave me courage to do things that may seem inappropriate or uncomfortable for the greater good.

Living Full On these past few weeks has been a lot about slowing down, breathing, paying attention – to my heart, my head/thoughts, my body, my friends, my partner…the guides that exist in all forms around me.

I’m glad I slowed down enough to look at my hands long enough to recognize my dad in them. I wonder what else I’ve been missing?

Have you noticed anything lately from slowing down? If you’ve been going going going, what do you think you might be glancing over without knowing?

Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Freedom Junkie™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting

Days 214 to 223 The Multi-Passionate Life and Refusing to Choose

Hey now, I need you to read something, because when I read it myself for the first time, I thought, “Holy shizzle. I freakin’ KNEW it!” :

“You are the owner of a remarkable, multi-talented brain trying to do its work in a world that doesn’t understand who you are and doesn’t know why you behave as you do.”- Barbara Sher, Refuse to Choose.

I know, right? Home sweet home!

The above quote is an excerpt from Barbara Sher’s book about “multi-passionate” people, Refuse to Choose. Some examples of multi-passionates are people like Leonardo DaVinci who was a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, and writer; or Mary Somerville who wrote on astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, mineralogy, and geology; or perhaps you, who might be a yogini massage therapist who also had a stint in acupuncture school then worked as a nurse and as an international climbing guide…oh wait, that’s kinda me…

In any event, when I discovered the term multi-passionate, this term that explained me and my wild ways in a strikingly positive light, I almost cried. I have had so many passions and managed to piece them together in a mandala of sorts that works for me. Even though I have a truly amazing life, for most of it I often felt judged. I felt like people thought I was lazy, or scattered, a dilettante, Jack of All Trades (Master of None), unable to focus…”Why can’t she just pick one thing and stick to it?”

In fact, years ago, I walked in on one of my exes searching the internet for a diagnosis of me. Of ME! He was a surgeon, and surely there must have been a reason that I chose not to spend 10+ years in school as well. He decided I likely had ADD. Um, except I didn’t. People with ADD can’t maintain relationships, they crash their cars, they can’t focus, etc.

I, on the other hand, had the following resume (and thank you, Tia Sparkles, for inspiring me to share my resume):

1991-1996 – Outdoor Recreation Instructor/Leader

1992-2004 – Professional Alpine Mountaineering Guide in the US and internationally

1991 – 1996 – Official campus New York Times paper girl

1996-2002 – Professional Massage Therapist with my own practice as well as working for others as an independent contractor

2004-present – Family Nurse Practitioner

2008-20010 – Yoga Instructor

2007-present – Certified Nurse Midwife

20010 – present – Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and Freedom Junkie (I do this more now that the medical stuff, but I just LOOOOOOOVE catching babies and being fascinated by the human body. There is a lot to be passionate about within both coaching and the medical field, so they keep me quite content;)

Notice the aforementioned mandala of careers which overlap so I can do things my way. Not once did I just have one job. Total time in full-time jobs (during which I still had other stimulating jobs, mostly entrepreneurial)? 5 years. Not bad after 39 years in the USA submerged in the Protestant Work Ethic that founded this country.

I, my dears, have laser focus. I can obsess day and night about something for a really long time. Years even. While ’tis true that many multi-passionates also have ADD (and its associated co-morbidities), it wasn’t attention decifit that I had, darlin’. But more on that later. And yes, I left that relationship.

It also wasn’t that I did many things and sucked at them and got distracted. Au contraire, mon amie. Quite the opposite: I made sure to get into the best schools for everything I studied, and get very competitive jobs (here and internationally) and excel, start my own businesses and thrive, yada yada. Quite simply, what tended to happen was that once I felt I got quite good/knowledgeable at something, this “hideous thing” reared its ugly head which I – as an only and often lonely child – vowed to never experience on a regular basis if my lil’ ol’ self had anything to do with it: BOREDOM (gasp!).

So here is what usually happens with a multi-passionate (aka polymath):

  • You notice that bright shiny object (aka new passion)
  • Then uber-obsession kicks in and you think about it all the freakin’ time
  • Take a deep breath and dive in, baby. Learn all you can. Swim in that shizzle.
  • Start doing said thang
  • And eventually, once you got this/learned “enough,” you may ditch it, quickly finish it up/get it over with, or add another passion to the list

Below are other characteristics of multi-passionates that I’ve gathered from some of my reading lately. See if they apply to you or someone you know:

Multi-passionates love to learn.

Multi-passionates read widely in divergent and not-always-complementary disciplines. Like how what I’m reading now ranges from a revisiting of Martha Beck’s Steering By Starlight, Michael Benavov’s Men of Salt, about a man’s journey along the Sahara’s ancient salt trade route, and the Green Journal of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Seriously. However, as Susan Reid puts it,  “The natural tendency to do so is often what brings about the formulation of brilliant discoveries, new applications, and luminous collaborations.” Word up, yo.

Multi-passionates are badass master mixers/synthesizers. Duh! We know a lot about a lot! They can bring together seemingly disparate ideas and thoughts in remarkable ways.

Multi-passionates have the ability to focus on a given topic for a long period— wait: caveat – that is, as long as is necessary to learn what they need to know. Then they move on. This powerful focus is not to the exclusion of everything else. Rather, it is a stepping-stone to the next thing!

Multi-passionates kick ass at generating ideas. They think conceptually first.

Whew! So there you have it. You’re fine just the way you are.

Oh wait! One more thing: Lots of us multi-passionates freak out about having to choose one thing. The point here? To let you know you don’t have to choose one thing. You can create a mandala like I did, fitting in multiple passions at once. You can drop into one passion for awhile and then move on to the next when you’re ready. Don’t worry about “having” to pick one. Lots of us think we’ll get stuck in one particular thing. You don’t have to, OK? Like the title of Barbara Sher’s book, Refuse to Choose. Go head and pick up a copy for some basic tips on how to eactly do that, or contact me for some multi-passionate coaching!

I’d love to hear if there are more of you multi-passionates out there. Pray do tell in the comments area below. How have you made multi-passionism work for you, or what has been your biggest challenge around it? My guess is many of us Freedom Junkies can totally relate to this concept;)

Full On 365Alright. Now that I’ve gotten off my soapbox about that, what has this lady been doing the past 9 days to live Full On? Well, we finished building the bathhouse and almost finished the chick shack, had a party at the yurt, caught babies for a couple of days, created my new upcoming workshop called (guess!) The Chick Shack, where kickass women will gather to talk all things relationship (keep an eye out for more!).

Now I am in the Pribilof Islands (aka The Galapagos of The North) for 3 weeks. Here, I will be helping to serve the wonderful people in this local village, do some coaching (yay internet/skype!), finish prepping for my workshop, make a list for to-dos before my 2+ months Africa trip, meditate, do yoga, and stop PMS-ing which is getting soooooo old for me right now;) I am on the island of St. Paul, which is the home of the largest fur-seal colony in the world, and also hosts 2 million birds. Yup.

Full On juicy, I say!

Below are some pics of this stunning place (and this is only Day 2 here!). For a cool video of a fur seal talking, click here. And tell me below – is this where Chewbacca got his voice?

10-4. Over and out.

local Russian Orthodox church
St. Paul
on the road out to the fur seal rookeries


beautiful crabpots and yes, you probably saw this island on “Deadliest Catch”


Note: Ana Neff is a life coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Freedom Junkie™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting (note: it’s new look will be up to rock your world soon)!