How do you know when you're living authentically?

How do you know when you're living authentically? And why does it matter?

It matters because when you live inauthentically you pay a price. Sometimes we don't even realize what those costs are. Those costs can be big -

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Always questioning yourself
  • Seeing the green grass on the "other" side 
  • Addiction

Other times the costs are less dramatic but still unfortunate -

  • Worry about the future
  • Guilt about the past
  • Feeling uneasy in your body
  • Feeling detached from your body
  • Overall boredom

When you live authentically, you look around your life and feel at ease - and hopeful. Even when you are in the throes of change and it's uncomfortable to be in the turmoil, your body will register that - this is okay. This is part of my life process right now.

You just need to keep moving through - and breathe.

One of the quickest ways to step into living more authentically is to gently own where you are feeling and living inauthentically. Begin the process of checking in with yourself in all areas, in all decisions. Does this feel right and true? Do I feel like I am in integrity? Do I feel good about who I am being right now?

A poppy is only a poppy :)

During my training on the Shamanic path I learned how to face my inauthenticity with love and grace. Questions I kept in the forefront were -

Where was I not speaking the complete truth?

When was I not willing to share my feelings?

How did I make choices that didn't align with my heart and inner truth?

Who was helping me be more authentic, who was hindering me?

No why's - they come later when you can see life in retrospect. The answers to the why's arise naturally when you've grown and time has passed.

Authentic living is being in the light. The light that let's you know - you can do this. 

Managing life in your head is troublesome. We know now that it's the stress producing path. And it's the path to chronic self-doubt. Sure, we need to think, but mental direction needs to come from an inspired place.

Instead of staying in the mental chatter of your mind, tune in to how your body feels when you make decisions. Learn your inner wisdom and how it speaks THROUGH you. Get friendly and well-acquainted with your signals, your pushes, pulls and pulses that know what's right, wrong, what's best, and what's off course for you. Learn the little details of those pulses that signal honesty, register truth, and the fear that accompanies living vulnerably.

The fear dissipates as you grow authenticity muscles and develop an inner wisdom practice. The truth and comfort remain. 

Living your authentic life is the pulse that's beating through your heart, calling you to your best life. 

Will you answer the call?

I'm here to support you in your authentic life. 

How are you feeling about your journey to authenticity? Leave a comment below and make authenticity a topic on the table!

Do you know anyone who wants to feel more authentic, more at peace in her skin? Share this message with her and spread the healing.

Starting Over Later In Life

It's perfect timing whenever we are starting over in life! I often hear from people that they think it is too late to meet the love of their life, to create a new business, or to find a new path with meaning and purpose. Not so! My grandmother married the love of her life at 75, showing me that we are never too old to have our dreams fulfilled. It is only too late if you have given up on the possibility of fulfilling your life dream or purpose. But life has never given up on you. If you have the courage and the willingness to take a risk - anything is possible when it comes to feeling a heart of love and joy. Join me as I spend time with two courageous women who are embarking on new life adventures. They share the inner work it took to get to the place of saying Yes to life!

Saying Good Byes Consciously by Dawn Holland

It is a time of saying goodbye in my life. Good bye to the man I have spent 20 years with and still love dearly even though we have divorced, to family members - my daughter and mother, two of my best friends, to a business I love and built with great joy, to a home I cherish and have cared for 10 years and to many dear friends and clients I have come to care for and love over the years I have lived here in Maine. My heart aches and I shed tears regularly. No matter how ready and excited I am to move to a new state and create a new home and business, make new friends, be near family I love and have missed dearly, this time of ending, saying goodbye and leaving, is probably one of the more painful experiences in my life. The decision to end my life here and move has been a long process that was not experienced lightly. This is a grieving process that I am moving through gently and carefully, as I make decisions about how to move onward. During this period I have experienced a reoccurrence of the anxiety that had calmed. This is because the major life changes I am experiencing means facing fears that I have avoided in the safe world in which I had been living. Part of me wants to remain "safe", go back to what I know. But that means settling for a life that is not true to my heart and soul. I choose to head forward.

The return of anxiety has felt so frustrating and aggravating at times. I have wanted to say, “Never mind, this is too hard.” Thank goodness for all my past hard work and I am able to recognize fear for what it is. An emotion to be allowed, considered and moved through and beyond, to a place of calm again. That is what I am doing while using my breathing, my times of quiet, prayer and supportive conversations with trusted others.

There are occasions when it is easier to connect with the visualizations I am creating about my future. Other days are filled with the practical tasks of closing out the old life and there is little mind energy for anything other than a good cry. And that’s okay as I do the best I can in this brand new situation.

These conscious good byes are not easy or smooth by any means. I continue because I feel guided by something greater than me. I am able to connect with that certain “knowing within” because I have spent time with the truth and myself and have learned how to listen to wisdom when it comes. As I now move forward, connecting to knowing what is right for me, the ability to follow my chosen Path, comes more easily. This is a huge leap of trust and faith I am taking … that’s what it is all about right now!

I will continue with my good byes until the moving truck rolls down the road. I will continue to let my tears come and cleanse my aching heart. And little by little - or in leaps and bounds - I will welcome the excitement and joy that is easing it’s way into my being. There is a new normal, a different balance to be found in the way I am living. For anyone making a major life change, as I am, I hope you are being kind and loving towards yourself. Both the mind and body deserve to be honored as they are progressing towards a new beginning while letting go of the past.

Count the Ways You Love Yourself - "The Kingdom of Heaven is Within"

Loving yourself is the core of successfully leading your life in tune with your soul and your deepest desires. And how can you know who you are without sitting still and turning inward to discover what lies beyond your ego and the endless chattering of your mind? Life can be a series of experiences in which you learn Not to Love Yourself. These experiences include - less than great and respectful parenting, the structure and focus of our school systems on academic perfection, an economic system based on ego/fear models of interactive humanity, and never learning the importance of your inner life. These four significant patterns are the bulk of what I work on undoing consistently as a Life Coach and Spiritual Teacher. Then my clients and I work on recreating the pattern of Loving Self. I say recreating because we were all born self-loving until we were taught otherwise.

Here are examples of personal experiences and ways to enlighten yourself, freeing yourself of your own detrimental conditioning

Read about my personal pattern of self-criticism when I was anything less than full of energy and ready to perform at life, and awakening to my own entrenched inner critic in one of my first blog postings entitled, My Body Is My Teacher.

Read about my mentor and friend Baeth Davis' wake-up call to make spending time communing with her Self a priority. Her cancer diagnosis is bringing her deeply within, to the truth of what her being calls her to experience in this lifetime.

Every client that I work with walks the inner path of discovering, layer upon layer, the myriad ways that they judge themselves and often hold anger and disappointment for simply Being who they are.  A great culprit of the inner critic is the less than "cover girl body and face" pattern that causes women to loathe or attempt to control their body image. Wow, ladies, we still have work to do as a team to end this war against our bodies. Follow Dr. Christiane Northrop, a holistic medical physician who focuses on helping raise our consciousness about the seriousness of this war with self, and has been for more than thirty years. She is a wealth of knowledge and self-disclosure.

The prevalence of anxiety disorders is an epidemic in our culture! Who is not anxious about living today? Only those who learn how to be still with themselves. Count the ways the culture instills fear into our very being daily in order to create momentum in particular directions - our political system, our medical system, our economic system!!!! Yipes! What is the antidote to anxiety? Cultivating inner peace. (Cultivating inner peace workshops with Laurel are available). The other staple of my business is guiding folks into the space within that is a sanctuary of peace and ultimate bliss. Yes - right here Within YOU and ME! US! Right here. You don't have to GO anywhere. You simply have to stay still until it is a habit.

Once you can - Stay Still Until It Is A Habit - your answers will eventually emerge. The early experiences of sitting still require discipline to create the habit of moving into the role of Observer, where you watch how Your Mind creates personal misery until directed to do otherwise. The wisdom and love that reside in the deep recesses of your being - beyond the mental chatter - will help you Count the ways you love yourself. Trust me. It works every time!

The sitting in stillness habit

Join me and many others who are making this miraculous discovery that all you need, your greatest resource and wealth is already within you. The meta-physical directive that heals - "The Kingdom of Heaven is Within" - is being discovered as the path to healing by the latest generation of seekers. Come on along and enjoy the experience with us. You'll be glad you did.

Anxiety and Financial Responsibility by Dawn Jepson

Anxiety and financial responsibility can go hand-in-hand until we feel powerfully able to provide for ourselves. My life is an example of this presently. It frightens me to death to think of having to support myself financially, without any help from anyone else. I have never done it. From birth to 38 years old I had someone else make sure my bills were paid, my parents or a husband were my resources. I worked teen jobs as most of us did - a burger joint or two, retail, babysitting. But that was pocket money. I didn’t have to pay for college, accrued no loans and accumulated no debt. I married right after I received my first college degree and became a housewife (no children for awhile). In fact I married and divorced two times until, briefly single, I finally began to attempt to support myself. Child support payments and a part time job as a companion to my grandparents began my experience of being somewhat financially independent.

This time of my life was both scary and exhilarating. I made ends meet, but just barely. As things got tighter and credit card bills became harder to pay I noticed anxiety making it‘s presence known more loudly than ever before. Combined with the onset of menopause, anxiety blossomed like a flower, and not one that smelled the least bit sweet. I had to ask for financial help but it didn’t feel like a big deal. I was comfortable letting myself be helped by others.

I was never afraid to be physically alone, without someone by my side. I was never afraid I wouldn’t have a life for myself when my daughter left. I always knew I would have friends to confide in. But I was anxiety ridden over having to make the money I needed to keep a roof over my head and food on the table. I was scared I would lose it all and be homeless. I just wasn’t prepared to take care of myself financially. No one told me that financial independence might be my responsibility one day. No one warned me that my career choices might cause me a problem because they might not provide enough to pay the bills. I had no plan because I was never warned that I would need one.

Many of the wise financial gurus of today recommend people have a savings account, at least one retirement fund, an extra 3, 6, or 9 months of salary stashed away in case we find ourselves out of work. At 57 years old I am beginning where someone who just graduated from college might start. Wow this is scary!

Financial anxiety is torturous. It has triggered all my worst nightmares. How did I let myself get to this point? Why did I bury my head? And what could possibly be the lesson in all this?

As I have shared in previous writings, for me anxiety paralyzes. If I become paralyzed then it becomes hard to do what is necessary to begin to build financial security. Believing in myself and that financial independence is possible comes first. Believing this is hard to do when I am stuck in fear.

What I have learned through all of this is to use the tools I have acquired and use to help my clients. The other important step for me has been to ask for wisdom and ideas from people who are financially successful - find out how they got there.

As I now put these tools into action I am finding moments of calm. It is easier to shift my thinking from lack to abundance. But it does take persistence and patience. Old habits and behavior/response patterns don’t always let go easily.

What really excites me is that it is never too late to change. Life is an adventure! We truly never know what is around the next corner!!! My anxiety around becoming financially independent eases as I remember to send myself positive messages every day about what I want to create in my future.

Change and Gratitude by Dawn Jepson

I am discovering that change and gratitude can work in my favor as I bust my old pattern of change, fear and powerlessness colluding unconsciously to weaken me. As I prepare for a major change in my life it is hard to feel appreciative or good about anything. My mind keeps drifting to what I fear. Today I am committing to starting a new habit. This life change is one for which I was not fully prepared. Perhaps no one is ever prepared when there is a huge upheaval in her life. But change does come … change that is difficult and painful. At this time it is very easy to focus on what is being lost, what I don’t have, the unknown. If I continue with this kind of thinking the anxiety is triggered, growing stronger and stronger, threatening to bring my life to a grinding halt. This is not helpful when I need to be taking practical action to respond to a big change.

As I sift through my “bag of tools and techniques” for help, I realize one technique that carries great power - gratitude. I practice directing my mind away from the pain for a moment or two and think about all I do have, and what I am going to create in my new future. With this shift of attention I feel some easing of the anxiety. The fear becomes less. There are moments of peace. What sweet relief.

At this time of year when so much of the world is focused on gift giving, I am faced with releasing what I thought was a great gift in my life. It is very difficult to imagine the future as abundant. The present is so powerfully making itself known through the painful emotions that come up, I can become stuck in a cycle of thinking that is not beneficial. But it is not impossible to make the shift.

There are moments to mourn and sit with the feelings that arise within. And then there are times to gently help the mind review the beauty that is in my life, to consider all the possibilities that await me in experiencing anything new and different. I direct both of these experiences through allowing space to process the flow of emotional energy that exists within me.

Is this easy? Not always. But it isn’t impossible and that’s what is so important for me to remember. I have the power to think what I choose. I have the ability to create thoughts that soothe and inspire. It truly is one breath, one thought at a time. I can do this.

So now as I sit quietly each day, I breathe deeply and think about all the love I am blessed to have in my life. When I feel overcome with the fear of the unknown I say thank you for the skills and abilities I have developed over the years. My health is good and I have an exciting adventure ahead. I am thankful that I am here to experience it. Change and gratitude become my working partners in life as I recognize my power in alternately flowing with, and then directing, the full experience. I feel powerfully grateful for this wisdom today.

Alcoholism, the Truth, and Anxiety by Dawn Jepson

This time, sharing is tough, I mean really tough. I am writing about my experience as an alcoholic and how it has affected my being truthful and living with anxiety. That sentence is probably one of the most difficult ones I have ever written. Harder than any break ups, harder than choosing to start my own business in an area where people don’t have much money … more difficult than ANYTHING I have ever done. Why? Because I have been very selective in sharing the fact that I am an alcoholic. The people who have that information have been carefully chosen for varying reasons. I acknowledge that to go public (so to speak) with this information via this blog is huge for me. One reason I have been careful about admitting that I am an alcoholic is because of the stigma attached to it. I am a professional with a business to run. I am dependent on my work for my livelihood. My fear was that if people knew this truth then they would assume I am not competent to help them.

As a person with an alcohol problem (I have been sober for over 22 years), I pay attention to what others say about alcoholics. And I know what I say to myself. In fact, the worst messages came from me while I was drinking and often times still do. Messages of failure, excuses why not to stop drinking as well as why I was drinking. Truly it was endless. Even now on occasion I find myself reasoning, with myself, about why it would be safe, why it would be okay to have a drink, or two, or three or … well you get the picture. This is the universal plight of addiction - the truth of what those of us live with day in and day out. Mental activity is an on-going refinement process. It is also the path to learning active self-love. The journey to self-love can be a rocky path.

Sobriety is an ongoing battle, and some people (alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike) see that as weakness, or even worse as laziness on the alcoholics part.

What I have come to realize is true for me is that one of the main reasons I drank alcohol was because I felt better when I did. Yes, it is that simple. I suspect that in large part I was covering up anxious feelings which made me feel uncomfortable. Having a few drinks took the bad feelings away, at least for a while. I have come to understand that alcoholism, truth and anxiety all go hand in hand. Masking feelings of anxiety (or any feelings) with alcohol just prolongs dealing with the reasons for the anxiety. Denying the feelings of anxiety by numbing out to them was not allowing myself to face the truth of what was wrong in my life. The answer involved no longer drinking.

When a person stops drinking I believe that they have to learn to live all over again. They have to learn how to live each hour of the day free of alcohol and know what to do with the feelings and thoughts that come up. Especially the ones they were running away from, the ones they used alcohol to numb. What I have also found is that alcoholics, when sober, have fewer sober memories to draw from for understanding who they are, what they really want, and what they need. Many of the memories of the past years are distorted by alcohol.

When I think about how I felt about something in the past, those memories are colored by the alcohol I was drinking at the time. I feel as if I lost a huge chunk of my life. As I look back over the years, the Dawn of today and the last 20 years … does not resemble the Dawn of the drinking days in so many ways. I feel as if a new life began when I turned 37. Many of the things that were fun and gave me enjoyment previous to becoming sober did so because of the influence of alcohol. Now as I make choices about what I want and what I enjoy, what makes me truly happy it is often challenging. So much of what used to be fun, what I thought was a good choice was all experienced while involved with alcohol.

Certainly in the last 20 years I have been able to have fun and make great choices about what I want. But as this dance with anxiety and the truth gets more intense I am realizing that much of my present sadness comes from a limited collection of sober memories to support my life today.

Good times and happy memories can be part of what helps direct us forward when we make choices about what we want or don’t want to do. I have fewer of them than I realized as I started considering my history in this context. My "good-time happy memories" are frequently distortions because of my use of alcohol at that time! It can be challenging when I am deciding what I want to do. I think I might enjoy something and then remember, “oh yes, it was fun because I had had a few drinks.” I have also found this to be true when I want to think about how I was as a person, how much energy I had, what a great mood I was in, how flexible and patient I used to be in the past. So much of my being those things was made possible because of the alcohol. Now, sober, I am harder on myself, more critical. I wonder why I can’t be more easy-going like I used to be.

And then I realize I am remembering a woman who used alcohol to make life “seem” to run smoother.

Shining the light of Truth on all aspects of my life has caused me to realize that the condition of my life, the results that I am living with from the choices I made over the last 22 years have been greatly affected by the limited sober years I have lived my life.

Now, as I am learning and evolving more quickly, no messing around, no time for letting fear paralyze me any longer. I have roads to travel and joy to experience - all without alcohol. Is this easy? Not always! But the freedom from living under the influence of alcohol has given me the ability to see the truth more clearly and face the feelings of anxiety in a more solution-oriented way.

A note from Laurel

Thanks Dawn for kicking us off with this important topic. We will be focusing on addictive patterns for a few weeks, acknowledging the life-draining, power-draining force of them. We want to support you in making changes consciously in order to create the life that brings you fulfillment and joy - every day :)

Furthering the Search for Truth and Self through Action by Dawn Jepson

Writing for Focusing Inward has impacted my life in important ways. It’s not only what I write about, or that I express my thoughts “out loud”. I am actually changing my life because I am writing about my life. There. I’ve made it official. It is in print. My life has changed by writing about the experience of living with anxiety, taking a Vow of Truth, and having deeper understandings in meditative states. One of the most important changes has been in my primary relationships. Writing for this blog has helped me bring some of the issues that needed to be addressed in those relationships into the light. Every sentence I have written has forced me to look more closely at the connections I share with those near and dear to me.

I have come to realize how powerfully the environment I live in and the people I surround myself with impact me. Now, even something as simple as using my time to write has the potential to become a conflict in a relationship. Here is why. In the past that writing time would have gone to interacting with someone who enjoyed my attention. Instead I am using that time for me to do something I enjoy, and I am loving it. Unfortunately sometimes “a loved one” is not experiencing the same joy. They might express strong disappointment at not having my attention directed towards their wants. Their disappointment ignites feelings of guilt in me. This pattern has caused me to take a long, hard look at my definition of a loving relationship. I am discovering that I may be tired of my old definitions and beliefs about how I am supposed to contribute to a relationship. Whether it was time to update my definitions or they out-lived their usefulness in my life, change is happening and it is “rocking my world“.

I have heard it said that when one person makes a change the people around them react. That saying is true. I am finding that some resist, while others cheer me on. Change is not always easy. Exciting - yes! Invigorating - yes! Simple and easy - not so much. Inevitably the moment comes when it is time to see what a person is made of. Can I walk my talk when the going gets really hard, and also be lovingly patient while others in my life adjust? After all, I am the one who is introducing the change and some people need time to adapt.

During these weeks of sharing my how’s and why’s of living with anxiety, as I bared my soul in regard to taking the Vow of Truth, I find myself looking closely at where and why I am not following through on doing some of the things I love. My guess is that, once again, fear was blocking my path.

Fear of taking time from loved ones to give myself the freedom to do something I enjoy.

What has become crystal clear to me is that there have been too many occasions where I avoided doing things I want, as well as not taking action in areas that were important to me, when it brought up fear. For me that means I am afraid of the possibility of creating disharmony within my primary relationships, in my connections with those closest to me. Instead I would give up what I want to keep “peace.” But at what cost to me?

Unmasking this raw fear has been an eye opener. I am still wrestling with what it all means. Am I afraid of being alone? Am I afraid of being rejected by the ones I love? Good questions to ask myself, and I do! This is not to suggest that I welcome others disapproval or rejection. But to sacrifice my joy in order to maintain these relationships as they are, when it means frequently betraying my own desires, feels wrong and costs me dearly. I have paid with anxiety.

The life lesson in this for me is that I must take what I know to be the truth and apply it in ALL areas of my life, no matter how challenging that might be. Even where and when I am afraid – especially when I am afraid.

I have done this with many of my issues, past and present, and it has made a difference. But as I move forward and write more, I find I still feel a knot in my chest. Something tells me there remains work to do and issues to address. I am doing just that.

Now I am bringing my truth to even the most challenging parts of my life. It is making a difference. Some days it is 2 steps forward, and the next day, a step back. Working with the people I love the most, in regard to these tough issues, brings up all kinds of fear. I will not stop because my commitment to Truth and myself has given me a light to shine on my life. I want the brightest, shiniest life possible!