let people be wrong about you

Here’s a little secret: one of the most relaxing things you can do for yourself – better than a spa vacation in a remote mountain area or trolling a fishing line by your kayak in the Sea of Cortez – is to let people be wrong about you.

I know – it sounds crazy, right? But think about it. How much mental energy goes into protecting our image, defending our stance, or worrying about what other people think about us?

Answer: a shit-ton.

Here’s a quirky thing you might not know about me: I received a near-perfect score on the “logic” portion of the Graduate Record Exam (the GRE is a hideous, multi-hour test you have to take for most graduate program admissions). You might think, “Wow! That’s awesome, Ana! You’re life much be so much easier because you’re all logical and shit.”

Not.

Life is actually harder when you not only feel you are right, but know you are often right. This is because most of the time, us humans are super illogical, so no amount of logic can easily change our thoughts, behavior or how we feel. We do things not based on our rational brain, but on how we think something will make us feel. And most of us want to avoid hard feelings, so we do super illogical things like overeat when we are stressed out about trying to lose weight, or snap at our partner when we want to grow closer to them.

Silly humans!

So you see: the way people think – and the way people think about you – actually has nothing to do with logic (which is super frustrating for someone with a very logical brain;) You will likely never be able to convince them they are wrong, because they don’t actually think what they about you because they have a logical reason for why they are “right.” They think what they do about you because of how it makes them feel.

Mind-blowing, right?

So your partner, who swears you never told them about the party tonight and defends it to their core (even though you know you told him 2 weeks ago)?

It likely won’t help to repeatedly describe the exact details of when and how you told them. Why? Maybe they need to believe it wasn’t their fault that they forgot so they can feel good about themselves. Who knows! But the point is, life will get much easier if you let go of trying to convince them otherwise. Just help them get their pants on and get out the door.

Your (read: my) online hater who writes you a scathing email about how lovely your life must be since you grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth/have a rich husband who supports you/(insert made-up story here)?

It won’t matter to write back and say, “Um, no. I grew up poor and in the ghetto and with a schizophrenic father and a mother that took her stress out on me. And I make more than my husband, thank you very much.” They need to think that about you for a reason. Anything you do or say likely won’t help, because they don’t want to feel differently.

This goes back to one of the main things I teach in my Ziji Up! confidence course: our thoughts create our feelings – and only YOU can change your own thoughts. When people have a thought about you in order to avoid experiencing a hard feeling, trying to change their thoughts about it with logic will be like Sisyphus rolling the proverbial boulder uphill. Don’t bother.

THEY need to go in there and change their thoughts when they are ready and willing. When someone is avoiding a hard feeling, they are NOT going to let you in their head to mess with that unless they are good and ready.

So you see, it’s easier to just let go of what other people think of you. It has nothing to do with you. It’s them. It’s about how they not just want – but need – to feel about themselves in that moment. And trust me: we all do this.

When I know I am right about something and my husband thinks otherwise, I often say to him, “But that doesn’t make any sense!!!!” (followed by a deep, guttural growl and the suppression of the GRE-style logical reasoning to accompany it). And truly, it doesn’t. But that doesn’t matter.

The reason I think it’s so important for me to be right is because I am doing the same thing! Oh, the irony…

I think correcting his thoughts about me will make me feel better. Loved, seen, heard, understood…all those “good” things that seem like important and valid reasons for arguing back. But what’s really happening is I am creating more distance between us, and more suffering as a result – in him, and in me.

Silly humans.

So next, time, I can focus on letting go of what he thinks about me, even when it’s something wrong and “bad” about me. The ironic thing is that allowing wrong thoughts about me would allow us to grow closer. I can let go, move on, and he will feel a nice “victory” and we can get on with having fun in life.

The same kind of freedom happens when we don’t react to anyone else who has negative opinions about us – and when we don’t let what others think about us affect the way we feel.

The next time you start obsessing about how someone is thinking something “wrong” about you, remind yourself that it isn’t about you. They want to feel better in that moment, and they need to think that about you to keep it going.

You know the truth of yourself.

You have the capacity of a big, open heart that can let people think wrong things about you – because you know they are hurting in a big or small way, and that they need that “win” for the moment.

So go on: let people be wrong about you. There are way better things to be thinking, feeling, and doing.

That is true freedom…

Here’s to you feeling it!

***

Ready to dive deeper into this? Check out Freedom School and see what everyone’s obsessed about. It’s not just group coaching. It’s a mindset revolution that you won’t want to miss.

the mother wound + healing

I’m writing this post on Mother’s Day, and I know that not all of us have had deep and fulfilling relationships with our mothers. If your relationship with your mother is intimate and warm, I hope you celebrate this day with her in your heart or in person! Consider yourself blessed. And if you are a mama, I celebrate you for choosing that courageous path and growing little humans that will eventually be caretakers of our planet (no pressure;)!

However, our mother is the one person in our life capable of creating one of the deepest wounds possible – known as “the mother wound.” This email is for those of you with a tender mother wound.

When we share such deep bonds with someone, growing inside their body and relying on them so deeply, and then hopefully  being nourished by them physically and emotionally once we are born (or not, if they had to give us up, or weren’t capable of doing so)..when they hurt us, it cuts deeper than any other pain.

We can spend our whole lives suffering this wound. Or not.

Instead, we can choose to know this wound is shared in our humanity. Like many wounds and types of suffering, it is only possible because of the depth of love that is possible. It is precisely because we can love so deeply that we can suffer so deeply. It’s part of the deal of being human. All mothers are bound to let us down at some point. It is up to us to know they are human.

Instead of focusing on what was missing, we can choose to focus on the love that was there…that our mothers kept us alive and nourished us – however imperfectly – despite their own suffering and pain.

We can choose to create the love we want in our lives – by nourishing friendships and relationships, and even with healing our mother wound when we are ready.

Know that your happiness does not depend on your mother, or anyone else. You can choose to create happiness in your life now. You can choose to think new thoughts about your life – to write a new story about your wound.

You can start to see the ways in which your wound has shaped and forged you in alchemical ways to be someone with your unique gifts. Indeed, some theories suggest the mother wound happens to us in exactly the way we needed it to to shape us spiritually in this life – when we are courageous enough to let it.

Let it. Let your past be the thing that helps you grow into the phenomenal person you are destined to be. Shape your mind and soul to look to the present and future with a bright heart.

***

If you want to join a tribe of people that will help you navigate this wild and precious life, come check out Freedom School – for rebels like you. It’s not just personal growth for rebels. It’s Jedi training for the new world.

the real reason why it never feels like enough​​​​​​​

I want to let you in on a really important ingredient for creating authentic happiness – the kind that stands the test of time and is more resilient to the hard stuff that comes our way.

We often feel that it’s justifiable to feel like something is missing in our lives when we have some heavy shit going on. For me right now, it’s marriage struggles (marriage is hard, yo!) and my mom’s recent death. For my friends and clients, it’s things like feeling they’ve missed out on truly being themselves for decades and grieving that loss; struggling with loneliness and wanting a life partner; miscarriages; loss of identity…it goes on and on. It’s the shit that comes with being alive and human. The “truth of the existence of suffering” that Buddha reminded us all of millennia ago. It makes total sense that we feel like something is missing during those times.

Thing is, we also tend to feel like something is missing even when life DOES seem like its going really well! For example, here are a few scenarios that coaching can help a lot with:

•    you have a bitchy inner critic that tells you you aren’t worthy of a better life
•    you have a tendency to make bad choices relationship after relationship
•    you are a perpetual perfectionist and can’t seem to start, finish, or let go of anything because of your need to have it be flawless
•    you keep searching for a life with more meaning and purpose…and still haven’t found it
•    you struggle with creating healthy boundaries and saying “No” to people, trapped in a never-ending cycle of people-pleasing and lack of self care.
•    you feel trapped and stuck
•    you wallow in a scarcity mindset, blocking abundance from entering your life
•    you feel a lack of self love and self-worth
•    you wonder why you don’t feel confident or courageous enough to do what it takes

While coaching is great for these scenarios, what a lot of people don’t talk about is that once you achieve a lot of your goals – the freedom, the location-independent lifestyle, the abundance, the awesome relationship, the killer career, the confidence – we still tend feel that something is missing.

And let me tell you – that moment sucks. Royally.

Here you are, having done the spiritual work, the intellectual work, the creative work, the courageous work – a LOT of freakin’ work – and it all seems perfect, yet something is Still. Freakin’. Missing.

So what is this missing thing? It’s not as sexy as you might think, but it’s damn important, and I’ve seen it over and over. It helps when we are in some deep dark times of life, and it helps when we have that nagging feeling of being incomplete even when life seems amazing.

It’s not gratitude, although that is still a daily practice I do every morning.

It’s … (drum roll!) … being of service to others. Or better yet – feeling we are of service to others. Or even better yet…a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives (which tends to be connected with service to others).

Truth is, we are born to serve in a powerful way.

You can do all the gratitude journaling you want, but if you don’t feel a sense of purpose or meaning in life, if you aren’t clear about how your unique self is undeniably needed in the world and how you fit into it all, it won’t help you with this feeling that something is missing.

We are meant to use all the skills we learned up until this glorious moment and use them to (no pressure here;) change the world. From what I have seen, we humans cannot seem to be able to feel totally fulfilled in life if we are not deeply serving in some way.

In order to serve powerfully, we must muster the deepest type of courage yet. This is courage deeper than what is required to ask for a raise, or to start our own business, or to leave the toxic relationship.

Don’t get me wrong – they are related, and the first kind of courage is requisite to getting to the next level of bravery.

But what is required of you to truly feel like your life is enough is the courage to be of deep, devoted service to something greater than yourself.

 

So, in order to be able to feel maximally fulfilled, I highly recommend you set to work on making the world a better place.

When I look back on my life, it is not the peaks I have climbed, the adventures I have been on, or the financial milestones that help me feel that today would be a good day to die – although I will be the first to admit that they certainly help me feel better about that day.

Rather, it is the times that I have made other people’s lives better that help me sleep at night and live more courageously. The times I spent in Africa working with refugees on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC. The times I forgave people that deeply hurt me. The times I risked disappointing others and being criticized in order to bring a bigger message to the world through my coaching. The times I delivered babies in a public hospital for Haitian women, or sat with a mother holding her stillborn and allowed myself to cry with her in sisterhood.

I am sure that you too can recall the moments you have touched someone’s heart with your actions, and how grounded and complete you felt.

Because you have been there, you know that this goal of ultimate fulfillment is not for the faint of heart.

It takes a lot of courage to serve others fully. To allow ourselves to feel the pain and suffering of others and to take action to stop it. To be so vulnerable with strangers that it scares the shit out of you.

On top of that, you also have to know what the world truly needs in order to best bring your gifts to the world in acts of service. And learning what the world needs can be terrifying, scary, and overwhelming.
 
But you can do it. You MUST do it.

You were born to do it.

I have clients break down in tears when they realize this, and it’s understandable, because the responsibility can feel overwhelming. But trust me – you don’t need to do anything more than discover your gifts and live them fully. This is truly of service to the world.

You do not need to head into war zones or depraved conditions (unless that’s a part of your gift), but you do need to discover and be honest with yourself about what you are good at, and how it can help make the world a better place than when you arrived.

Living your true gift involves some form of deep service pr contribution to others – even if that may not be obvious to you at this moment.

It’s scary, but you can find the ziji, the courage, the confidence to do it.

How do we get this kind of courage so we can explore our true purpose? In my experience, this deeply driven courage is created by an emotion that deserves much more bandwidth than topics like the courage or the confidence to manifest your dreams (even though that’s what I totally dig writing about):

It’s Compassion – for yourself and for others.

Compassion is the most courageous emotion we can carry, and the brave acts it allows us to undertake is why it is the emotion that helps our life feel like one well-lived.

As Pema Chödrön, a Tibetan Buddhist nun, said:

“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ”

There you have it.

If you want to live a truly courageous and deeply fulfilling life, open your heart.

First to yourself. This gives us the courage to go beyond our own needs.

Then open your heart to others, and look deeply into their eyes.

Feel the pain, the suffering, the injustices.

Do the work. Learn what you need to. Spend time alone. Spend time with people who really matter.

Fiercely quest for your purpose.

Let any ideas of your previous self die away, so that you may truly be open to the gift that only you are able to deliver – one you may have no freakin’ idea about yet. Or one you know about, but that really, really scares you to think about embodying.

You are enough, and the best way to see that – and indeed, the best way to feel that – is to discover that gift and how to best bring it to the world in service.

What does that look like for you? Is it volunteering with a local organization or abroad? Changing the focus of your biz? Leaving your job to raise your kiddos on a sailboat? Opening up a community gathering place? Helping people feel beautiful when they feel absolutely devastated inside? Giving people hope when they have lost their mojo?

Share with me on the blog or hit reply on this email to tell me about your gifts, or what has helped you sleep better at night, the ways you love to serve, the ways you dream to serve. I love this kind of stuff – and trust me, I’ll reply.

***

If you want to join a tribe of people that will help you navigate this wild and precious life, come check out Freedom School – for rebels like you. It’s not just personal growth for rebels. It’s Jedi training for the new world.

Who Are You Hanging Out With Freedom Junkie? Your Tribe Matters.

That’s right – it’s official, and not just what your mother kept telling you when you wanted to hang out with the bad boys: who you hang out with matters, and studies have shown that your success will be equal to the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Crazy! This goes beyond birds of a feather, peeps. This affects you on ALL levels of your being, not just where you’re at in the present, but also who you BECOME.

This concept applies not only to levels of success, but to health and wellness as well. We now know that wellness behavior is “contagious.” People who generally are heavy eaters will eat less when eating out in a group, and those who are light eaters will eat more. We tend to meet people in the middle when out in a group. By the way, this happens with money too: heavy spenders will spend less when out in a group, tightwads (no offense) spend more. And if you have a friend who is obese, you have a 50% higher risk for obesity, and if you have a friend of “normal” weight who has an obese friend that you don’t even know, you risk of being obese still goes up 25%.

So hang on – does this mean we shouldn’t spend time with people who are not at the level of success that we want to achieve, or who are not in perfect physical condition? Hell no! The risk isn’t 100% 😉 And if that was how it worked, peeps who were where we wanted to be at technically shouldn’t hang with us, right?

What it does mean is that we need to be aware of the influence that others have on us, even on an unconscious level. It also means we need to consciously create our tribe and make sure we have plenty of positive influence in our lives.

What can you do about it, Freedom Junkie?

If you want to experience more adventure, make a conscious effort to meet and spend time with people who are active in doing the things you want to do more of (tango? skinny dipping? ice climbing? war-zone travel? wearing more lace and leather?).

Do you want to create a successful business? It behooves you to spend more time with people who are where you want to be. If you want to take your income to the next level, you need to hang out with mentors who did what you want to do and are at where you want to be financially.

It doesn’t work to want to start living a more adventurous life or create a thriving new business, and then hang out with slackers on your couch talking about your dreams all day. Or worse: spending time with negative people who shoot down any possibilities for change or growth. Yuck.

So now the tough question: Are there people in your life that you need to let go of? Or people that you need to spend less time with so their level of influence isn’t so strong?

The fun question: Who do you want to spend more time with? Who is that person whose radiance makes you smile, whose joy lifts your heart? Who is that person whose business totally inspires you? Reach out to them and try to get together for coffee, or yoga. If they can’t hang out, no worries. They are probably busy because their lives are so full! Keep asking and setting the intention to attract more amazing people into your life, and continuously work on becoming that person you want to be.

To create the life you want (and deserve), you need to spend time with people – aka other Freedom Junkies – who have the same goals as you and are taking action to make it happen. We are impressionable beings, for better or for worse. That’s why every successful entrepreneur i know is a part of a Mastermind group. That’s why people are more successful at losing their goal weight when working with a personal trainer, or completing the marathon when they train with a group or training partner. That’s why in addition to having clients work with me 1:1, I create group programs for Freedom Junkie, like the Freedom Sessions Mastermind and the Ziji Up! Mastery Program. It really makes a HUGE difference! Let’s make a conscious choice about who gets to make those impressions on us, OK?

Love,

Ana
PS: Do you have big dreams for the next year and want a tribe to help you get there? Check out joining our group of 10 amazing women during the next  Freedom Sessions Mastermind Group. Head on over now and see if you likey! You can also be a more active part of our Freedom Junkie tribe by taking part in our free monthly Jedi juice calls and hanging out on Facebook and Twitter with us. See you there!

A Simple Strategy to Make Sure You Stay Balanced AND Achieve Your Goals

Joshua with hazelnuts and oranges;)
Joshua with hazelnuts and oranges;)

I know that you’ve got some amazing things to accomplish this year. As a true Freedom Junkie, your plans for the upcoming year are bound to have some elements of expanding your comfort zone, going on adventures, expanding love and passion in your life, growing in your career (or changing to a new one!), and feeling yummy in your body, mind, and spirit.

I also know that many of us Freedom Junkies have a hard time fitting in everything we want to do – especially in a way that leaves us feeling centered! I recently wrote a post about how I got seduced away from balance while on a three-month adventure in Africa, and how I brought myself back to center again. The key thing is to try and prevent that in the first place. While I have been known to say Balance is Bullshit, I am more speaking to what balance means for YOU, and what happens when you feel you are moving away from what you know works for you.

I want to share with you an analogy that I think works really well for helping to understand how to make it all work when you’ve got a lot to juggle. One of my health and nutrition teachers, Joshua Rosenthal of Integrative Nutrition, does a demonstration he calls Big Rocks:

That’s Joshua up there. He’s standing by some hazelnuts and some oranges and a glass jar. Here’s what they represent:

The hazelnuts are the tasks and duties we have to do in life. The “stuff.” The small stuff that takes up HUGE chunks of time unless you’re careful.

When you toss in an orange here and there and keep adding hazelnuts, there isn't enough room for your oranges - the things important to you
When you toss in an orange here and there and keep adding hazelnuts, there isn’t enough room for your oranges – the things important to you

The oranges are the things in life that are of utmost importance to us – our major goals, our most important values that we want to honor.

The glass jar is the time and energy we have available to do all those yummy things we want to do, like our dreams and goals.

Oftentimes, what we end up doing is picking one “orange” – like the new project we want to launch in our business this year, for example – and focus on that for a bit. Then little by little (or sometimes in a flood!) we pour in a bunch of “hazelnuts,” like mowing the lawn, checking email, perusing Facebook, helping a friend edit an article, watching a movie…get it?

Then we remember another orange, like, “Oh shizzle! I told myself I was going to spend more time with my family and friends this year!” So we do that for awhile. The we add more hazelnuts like starting that other project that is shiny and new instead of finishing the one we wanted to finish, or doing loads and loads of laundry, or carting around that friend of ours who refuses to buy a car because it isn’t “environmental,” or drinking too much and being hung over the next day.

Then we remember yet another orange, but there is VERY LITTLE SPACE LEFT. In fact, before we know it, the hazelnuts of to-dos have taken up most of the space, and we have some lonely – and important – oranges sitting outside of our life. There isn’t enough room

When you put ALL your oranges in first, the hazelnuts will work themselves around the things you've prioritized
When you put ALL your oranges in first, the hazelnuts will work themselves around the things you’ve prioritized

for everything.

And that is exactly how it feels, because there ISN’T enough time when that’s how you do things.

The good news is there is a different way of doing it: put ALL your oranges in FIRST. Pick the top three to six things that you want to get done, and before you do anything else, get those things done or focus on getting them done, no matter what. Get really clear about what “getting them done” or accomplishing them looks and FEELS like.

When you put the oranges in FIRST, and let the other stuff work around your most important values and goals, there is plenty of room for what is important to you. Even the hazelnuts fit (well, most of them!). And it feels much better to not have a few hazelnuts fit than some of your oranges.

So there ya go! This year, practice this technique. You can even do it for each month, each week, each DAY!

“What is most important for me to do today?”

Everything fits. See Joshua's smile!
Everything fits. See Joshua’s smile!

Another tip: ask yourself, “What is the next most IMPORTANT thing to do?”

It’s my hope that as a result of this, you’ll spend more time doing things that are truly valuable to you, that help you grow, that help you feel and taste success, and help you make 2013 your best year yet;)

Note: Ana Verzone is a personal life and health coach, mentor and the original Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate women awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose, from their cells to their spirit. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to thousands of subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs, schedule a free life assessment, and download her FREE Clarity + Courage ecourse by visiting www.anaverzone.com.

*Images from Institute of Integrative Nutrition

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.

WTF?!

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 FreedomJunkie.com

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!

Brilliant!

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 FreedomJunkie.com (note: it’s new look will be up to rock your world soon)!

Days 178 to 183 Full-On Recommitting

I spent the past week getting things settled in the yurt, helping Thai build the bath house, potting pretty flowers, cooking for friends; doing yoga in the summer Alaskan sun and for some reason, nesting. I had no desire to hit the rivers or do anything more ambitious than an evening hike. Something in me – in both Thai and myself, actually – wanted to spend time in this lovely home we are building together.

No, I’m not pregnant.

Then I flew out to spend the last 4 days with badass entrepreneurial women at the W Hotel in Atlanta. We masterminded from morning till late at night, and I came up with new programs and high-level packages, I got massages and facials and – yes- even waxed. I need to tell you about that one in another post…yowza! Click here for a kick-ass video of me flying out of Alaska to Atlanta – epic mountain beauty!

In any event, the contrast in my life keeps me wildly entertained. I loved that I went from heating water to wash my face in the mornings over a double-burner Coleman stove to eating lusciously rich brownies and sipping orange cucumber water in a spa that smelled impossibly divine. And I loved both.

I wonder what wild lifestyles we’d see if more people gave themselves permission to not be put into a box, to love it all, to have a day full of contradictions that were welcomed with open arms…

Anyway, during the days with my female biz buddies, a theme came up: Recommitting.

When you are on a bold path, a new path, a frightening and exposed path, and yes, even a well-worn path, you recommit more than you probably know.

In your marriage, it isn’t the paper marriage certificate that keeps you together. It’s your recommitting to one another, every day. When you start a business and there’s a slump, or a speed bump or a drop in energy, you need to re-commit.

I know I have re-committed many times on this journey of Freedom Junkie. For me this has manifested more as recommitting to being completely authentic in my coaching, in my writing, and in the type of clients that I choose to work with. There have been times that I’ve wondered if I should try to please more people or “be nice” to a client and avoid saying something that might be hard to hear so they didn’t have to see the raw truth in front of them.

Instead, I recommitted to my clear vision (supported by my coach and my fellow badass friends!) and said no to clients that weren’t the ideal ones I wanted to work with; I say the hard things to clients even though someone didn’t like to hear it (haven’t been fired yet…but totally willing to be for the sake of authenticity); and I said no to the standard model of 10-30 weekly clients on 3-month programs because my life requires far too much freedom for that. I cuss at times when I write – especially when I am tired or passionately fired up – because for realz, there’s just not another substitute for “fuck” when you really need to use it. One fellow coach at my meeting apologized when she said, “It really sucked” (she said excuse my language!). Her peeps are not my peeps;) And that’s OK. In fact, its awesome!

I also recommitted to the belief that I can create my own Mandala of a career – doing everything that feeds my soul in my own whacky way, while I travel the world AND plant potted flowers.

Expect these periods of recommitting to come up every now and then, and see it as a choice to walk away form something that no longer serves you, or to reconnect with the Mojo behind it all.

What do you recommit to today? Share with me below, even if it’s just one sentence. Let’s inspire one another with conscious choices!

 

Note: Ana Verzone is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly 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 Clarity + Courage Course by visiting FreedomJunkie.com

Days 150 to 162 – A Very Sensitive Girlfriend

Here’s the flowers he brought me when picking me up from the airport. He said, “But I didn’t pick them.” How sweet is that!?

I am not quite sure what brings me to the precipice of insanity, but lack of sleep these days seems to be pretty good at it. My poor boyfriend. I have been cranking on getting my ducks in a row for a three-month adventure and as a result, I am a bit behind on the zzzzs. The problem is I LOVE what I do so much, I don’t really care that I am not sleeping well until I start feeling the consequences.

Take a lack of sleep and add: moving to a new state, having to make a whole new set of friends, learning two new sports in 6 months, both of which involve extreme cold, wet, big falls, or breathing water if you mess up, having to poo in a plastic bag while you build your bathroom, having to sell your motorcycle (gasp!) and trying to rent out or sell your house on your iphone at red light stops, not doing yoga for three weeks…

And what do you get?

A very sensitive girlfriend.

Well, at least that’s what my boyfriend gets. Everyone else gets my smile and my laughter and my big juicy hugs because I can do that even when sleep-deprived. But we all know that any relationship worth it’s salt involves vulnerability and intimacy and a whole bunch of other things that aren’t easy to pull off with a fleeting smile, and even harder to pull off with few chi reserves.

Let’s cut to the chase and get to the story. And a story it is. A grand story I created in my sleep-deprived mind.

My boyfriend spends a lot less money than I do. A LOT less. We both make a good living. We both have really good reasons for living the way we do. And we also really respect the values one another has that leads to us doing things differently. But when this wild woman starts getting cranky, I just wish that he did things my way sometimes. Go figure!

Helpful hint: I LOVE love love eating out. After so many years eating crap ghetto food and cold food on a mountain (even though I really do love beans and rice), it is quite the treat for me.

And it doesn’t bother me that he doesn’t eat out so much. I just go with my girlfriends and live it up. What DID bother me recently was when several days in a row we get invited to meet friends at fancy places and we – HE – goes, completely willingly! I’m watching him hang out with our friends as they order hundreds of dollars worth of food and beverage.

I boil inside. The monumental hypocrisy! At least that’s how it felt at the time.

(I am going to preface the following paragraph with acknowledging that my man is totally awesome and romantic, and that I was a bit on the precipice when I thought this. But, I’m being real about my being on the precipice here.)

OK. We’re back to the boil. I think, “Wouldn’t it be fucking AWESOME if he thought of taking his girlfriend who just moved to fucking Alaska and who is selling her freakin’ house to be here and who left her friends and community out on a fucking date to a fucking wine bar or something? Wouldn’t that be just fucking awesome???????!!!!!!!” It would. But perhaps not so fun with this particular version of her right now.

I don’t say anything. Until I’m about to get on the plane for a quick trip to Oregon.

I try to rationalize inside that I am feeling a disproprotionate amount of anger for what the situation is. Yet I don’t know how to express myself reasonably under all this sleep deprivation. Oh, the inner turmoil! (hand on forehead, look of exasperation…) So I just shut up and fold clothes or something. And I pray and pray he won’t ask me the question.

But then he asks, “What is wrong?” Oops. I let it rip. Not in a completely crazy-making way, but in a way that was much less effective than it could have been. OK, maybe it was in a moderately crazy-making way. Instead of saying, “It would be nice if you could take me on a date to a yummy restaurant sometime. I think it would be really romantic. I’m going through a lot of changes and it would be a fun thing for me to do,” I gave a version of what I gave you above without so many of the f-bombs.

Then I say how I wish he would say “I love you” more (even though I know perfectly well that it isn’t how he expresses love most of the time). And really I don’t wish that. I just wished I didn’t feel the way I did just then.

Then it somehow morphed into me dramatizing that I hate how he feels resentful about how hard I’m working when really I am working so much so that I don’t HAVE to work for three whole months! And isn’t he a lucky dude to have a successful woman who can also pull off 3-months of playing without much notice AND pay mortgages on a nice home and a ski condo? I have no idea where that came out of, but now I know that he came to the conclusion that I somehow think we don’t spend enough time together.

This type of miscommunication is what happens when you are tired.

I spent the next few days going over our relationship, and in particular remembering the book The 5 Love Languages.

I felt guilty. Not for wanting the things I do, but for the way in which I was asking for them. I knew better.

Sure, he doesn’t take me to fancy restaurants, but do you know what he does do? He calls me on satellite phones from the South Pole just to chat. He gets up an hour before I do in an Alaskan winter and heats the yurt before I get out of bed. He cooks me dinner almost every night, makes tea for me in the morning, and started buying locally and organic vegetables. He brought me berries for my green smoothies, and he moved to Oregon with me so we could grow closer as I transitioned. He picks me wildflowers and hides little love notes in my bags when we’re going to be apart for awhile.

He takes me on easy rivers to learn new ways to have adventures. He is patient and kind with me and supports my dreams. He brags about me. He makes things happen. He built our home. He is continually trying to make it more comfortable for me. He takes me dancing and holds me tightly when I’m crying. He meditates with me as we sit in the sun on rocks, and we do this groovy tai chi-yoga-contact-dance thing when we’re feeling crunchy. He adventures with me all over the world. He is very, very romantic. And much much more.

So I guess I could have said, “Hey, how about a date night to a nice restaurant? I’d like that. It would mean a lot to me. Surprise me sometime soon, please;)”

And I could have said, “Here’s what I noticed that makes me really appreciate you…Did I miss anything? I want to learn all the ways you love me.”

And I could have said, “I know. You wish I wasn’t so busy so that we could spend more time together, because you love me. And we’ve waited for this opportunity for a long time. I know it’s frustrating. Soon, amor, soon….”

Well, it’s always easier in hindsight. I’ve been getting more sleep, and I am really really excited to hang out with my man and play in the mountains. And make dinners. And do all the things that help me remember – every day – why I am so lucky to be with him. And I bet he’s feeling the same way, ‘cuz that’s how we roll. Lucky me;)

(PS: I bet a few of my wishes will come true really soon. Focus on what you want, peeps. Not on what you don’t want).

Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie™ She helps pasionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Jedi Juice™ 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 FreedomJunkie.com (note: it’s new look will be up to rock your world soon)!

Can I Trust You?

“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.”
~ Spencer Johnson

The ability to trust in all our relationships – not just intimate ones – allows us to take the risks necessary to grow. In addition, knowing how we decide someone is trustworthy is ultimately not so important for “protecting” ourselves, but rather, in a Ziji Up! kind of way, to also know:

Are YOU the type of person people can trust?

This often is about living with integrity.

People want to know where you stand, what you value, and if you act accordingly. It isn’t so much even WHAT those specific values are, or even about always knowing what is “right” or “wrong” (which, by the way, is often a futile effort).

Rather, whether someone trusts you or not is more about if YOU know what you value, if that somehow includes consideration of others, if you act consistently in the things that matter, and if you’re honest with yourself and others.

That is what builds trust.

For example, in romantic partnerships, trust isn’t only about fidelity, even though that is the way it is often used. In reality, whether or not your partner can trust you is also about wanting to know if you’ll consistently show up fully and authentically in the relationship in the context of the values you share:

*Can I trust that you’ll be home on time for dinner as you said you would?

*Can I trust you’ll keep supporting me in pursuing my passions in life?

*Can I trust you to bring home your share of the money to pay our bills?

*Can I trust that you’ll not spend us into debt?

*Can I trust that you’ll watch the kids the way I do?

*Can I trust that you’ll do the laundry and not ruin my shirts?

*Can I trust that you’ll be open to making love with me tonight?

*Can I trust that you’ll be honest with me?

It is about knowing, “Can I count on you?”

The greatest benefit to living with integrity is that ultimately this leads to you having more trust in YOURSELF.

And when you have more trust in yourself, your Ziji grows, you are more confident. You are proud of who you are and how you are in the world.

Then you will take more important risks. And you will stretch. And grow. And live full-on.

Take the rest of this month to observe how consistent you are in your actions. When you find an inconsistency, what can you learn from that?

Is it harder to stay consistent when you’re worrying about what others might think?
When you’re feeling insecure?
When you’re worried about disappointing someone?
When you feel you might not be liked by someone anymore?
When it is inconvenient?
__________________________________


One of my favorite poems about “showing up” is The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (I know…woo woo name but awesome poem). I invite you to partake:



It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals, or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes, without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,”Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live, or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.