Surrender and you will receive – really? That’s a surprise ☺

What are your big stressors?

Time - it's the top complaint I hear from stressed women! Relationships - women orient their lives to relationships, of course this is big stuff for us! Love and the desire for good loving - who doesn't want this if we don't have it? 

It's time to surrender...

Do you connect the word surrender with loss? I did for a long time. I have learned, gratefully, that surrender means gain in so many ways. Let me give you some examples ~

When I surrender to my need for self-care, I replenish my energy to give easily and freely.

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surrender to love
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If you are struggling with anxiety, stress or fatigue, my guess is that mastering the art of surrendering could become your great healing agent.

If you looking for relief from anxiety, stress or fatigue, I am here to help you live your inner power and find that relief.  

What is your great stress? Did you like this blog? I'd love to hear from you :)

Sick and tired of rescuing others? Maybe you can help by stopping that...

Stop right there! Do you want to rescue the people around you from discomfort and stress? Read this first! cropped-examine.jpg

Discomfort can be a way the body registers stress and the need to grow and change. It can signal the need to act differently. It can be the call to change or connect with the changes going on around us. It can be a plea to listen and pay attention more carefully. It can herald new beginnings.

As a mother, a woman, a friend and a daughter, the most difficult times for me to let discomfort be a servant, is when my discomfort is signaling a loved one's discomfort. My immediate reaction is to help, to make it better, to make the pain go away for them. I have learned to no longer react to this instant inner response.

My path to changing this pattern and creating a new way of interacting first took hold when I practiced the agreement "No Advice Giving" at our women's center. No advice giving embodies the belief that each of us holds our own best wisdom and advice internally, that we are brilliant - inherently smart enough to know what we need. We simply need a space to connect to that inner wise one. We can learn to provide that space for others. It's a different way of supporting that releases the knee jerk reaction of rescuing.

Being a sacred space holder for another is a high act of service and wisdom. It requires doing your own work so you can get out of another's way of growing well. It requires adopting new beliefs about what really helps others when they are stressed and in need. It means you become skillful at sitting with discomfort yourself and wondering about it before instantly making it go away or distracting yourself from it. All this helps you return to the childlike curiosity of a fresh mind. It's quite liberating when you experience "being a sacred space holder".

The next time you have the urge to rescue another, take a breath. Notice the urge. Don't act on it. Begin to wonder, what does this person want? How might their discomfort serve them if I can hold space for them and encourage them to explore their discomfort more deeply? What in me needs support or growth so that I no longer "need" to rescue?

If this posting speaks to your heart, take a look at my newly released book, Courageous Woman, Live Your Inner Power. The book is a full dive into new ways of considering how to connect with yourself and the world around you, a way to grow your capacity to be fully present to life, live powerfully and feel good!

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Want an Aha Moment?

Who doesn't love a great aha moment? When I have one, I think of it as a rearranging of my inner architecture, a way to open inside to new insights, opportunities and positive change.  I had ah aha recently while training with my coach. A vulnerable area in my life and within my being is my voice. I have always been horrified at the thought of being the center of attention. Inwardly I shrink when all eyes are on me and I can get flustered and nervous. Depending on how rampant the energy is running through me, hiding seems like a great idea. People are often surprised when I reveal this because apparently many just see my calm, cool and collected exterior and think I am all confidence and comfort. Not so much.

At Rachael Jayne and Datta Groover's Awaken Your Impact conference we were doing shadow work. We were all instructed to think of a quality that others exhibit that we physically react to, and not in a good way. The kind of experience when we can become judgmental or resistant to the truth of the experience. Immediately I thought of being around people who just talk about themselves and exhibit no interest in those around them. It's especially irritating when they go on and on and it seems as though it wouldn't matter if you were standing there or someone else was occupying your space.

The next instruction was to consider how this shadow piece held a gift for us in the way we want to grow or develop our business. Speaking on stage and inspiring others has been a long-buried dream that I recently have allowed myself to own. As I consider this dream and the way I want to impact others positively and deeply, I realize I must become comfortable with getting up and talking about myself and being able to sustain that activity in an authentic, take-charge kind of way. I must embody that shadow quality that so irritates me in others.

Sure I will want to connect with who is in front of me. Yes, I will care that they are interested in what I have to say. But some people in the audience may receive me just as I am receiving others when I feel frustrated or offended by their behavior. They may look at me and say, "who does she think she is standing there and talking about herself?" And I need to get okay with this if I am going to speaking to groups and serve in this way.

I think about the inspirational speakers who have dramatically touched my life. They did so because they abandoned their inner critic for the moment. They let go and openly expressed the great feelings and thoughts they had. This inspired me to change and grow and claim more of me!

authenticpowerradiatesIt's time for me to step up and step out of my comfort zone. To grow into the next version of me who wants to help others claim their gifts and use them to make this world more loving, more harmonious, more uplifting for everyone.

Going after a life-changing aha may mean looking at what you most resist - the last thing you might want to do. Enjoy an aha moment right now ... take a few minutes to ask yourself - what is the quality in others that really bothers me? How might this hold a gift for me? I'd love to hear your aha's :)

Here is a video of the man who first ignited my interest in becoming a speaker - enjoy! His name is Leo Buscaglia: as I listen to him today I realize he touched me because what he speaks also comes from my heart.

 

"Grow or Go" - Laurel's "Fight or Flight" System

Your fight or flight instinct keeps you safe. It's one of the inherent inner mechanisms of human intelligence. It works like this. If you perceive you are in danger, either fight or flee the situation to survive. It' a basic inner mechanism to promote life. Living in America and growing up in a nonviolent household, I didn't much need my fight or flight. Unfortunately though, it still kicked in. As a child when I wasn't getting the attention I needed or wanted, I often made myself and my needs invisible (took flight so to speak) so that I didn't feel like I was contributing any further stress or burden to our home. That instinct can still kick in today given the right set of circumstance.

Knowing your versions and patterns of how fight or flight shows up for you begins the change process. These patterns can do you disservice as well as to those we live in relationship with if you are not aware of them. Fighting and fleeing keeps unhealthy patterns entrenched, perpetuating more unhappiness and stress.This is where my more evolved system comes in!

When I am in a situation where I am repeating any behavior that I don't feel good about, I now call on my more evolved fight or flight mechanism - I call it my "grow or go" system. With this self-created system, I call myself to rise to the occasion and determine  how I need to grow in the current situation in my life.

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Whatever stress is occurring, I consider the stress to be for my benefit rather than for my demise. I see it as my need to grow in ways I have not yet stretched and evolved, or to consciously and gracefully move along my path and leave the situation - to go. If I am not contributing positively, then my presence is not needed. It's a choice I hold myself accountable to on a daily basis. When I don't live up to contributing positively or moving on, I feel disappointed in me.

So how would you institute they "grow or go" system in your life? Try these steps.

1. Decide you will see stress as an indicator of growth and opportunity rather than a problem.

2. Ask yourself what behavior or attitude you are contributing that keeps the stress or tension a part of the circumstances.

3. Take a time out and determine how you want the situation to be, what changes you want.

4. Contribute in a new way, in line with what you want and your values.

5. Move on from the situation when you believe you have contributed all that you can in a positive way.

This system helps you improve your skills in beginnings and endings. It allows you to own your truth and your wants. It teaches you how to be responsible of your life and how you are contributing to the world around you. It promotes growth instead of stagnancy.

The next time you sense yourself in "fight or flight", see if you can institute the new "grow or go" system and alleviate the chronic stress patterns in your life.

 

 

Are you Tapping yet?

Not tap dancing... EFT - Emotional Freedom Technique! Haven't heard of it? Where have you been? I love sharing and using tapping in my personal and professional life.  Simply put, it's a powerful way to move energy and relax into a place of lasting change.  It can end habits of being triggered by old emotional baggage, one of the biggest culprits that block manifesting what you want.

If you haven't heard about or learned tapping here is a great video to get you started. Better yet, if you are in the Richmond area, I am co-leading a meet up group where we will be talking about tapping and tapping together. Join us!

Even though I can't wait for the weekend, I deeply and completely accept myself :)

Vulnerability as a Path to Power

When you are unable to withstand feeling vulnerable you lose your inner power. When you suddenly feel vulnerable, this is great opportunity to grow into your most powerful and compassionate self. It's so difficult to remain steady in the face of feeling vulnerable, so this is not necessarily an easy path to tread. Here are effective steps to take to turn your vulnerability into one of your most powerful assets. Step 1. First become proficient at knowing and owning when you feel vulnerable. This might seem basic but it's an integral and empowering first step. When you feel vulnerable the instinct to protect takes over. This might arise as a withdrawal, an automatic move into a place/space that feels less weak (like getting angry), or shutting down energetically and emotionally. Notice what your automatic habits are and then learn to stop the habitual response. Instead still yourself inwardly and outwardly. Be still, be present and inwardly confirm - I feel vulnerable right now. This is an enormous first step.  Not having to move away from the feeling of vulnerability is the brave path.

Step 2. Notice your vulnerability story. What's your history that caused this kind of "thing" to bring up vulnerability for you? Let me give an example. When I am in any situation in which it can seem as if someone is rejecting me, I feel vulnerable. This will show up as me moving away from the situation as quickly as possible - to withdraw, to disappear. I've had to learn to stay still, to feel the feeling of "inner shrinking" and to just let it be, without it necessarily being about "rejection". Instead I make efforts to be aware that it is just as much about whatever is happening with the other person or the general situation.  I've learned to remind myself this is not about me, but simply about whether I really want my voice to be heard. I've had to learn to assert myself well when it doesn't come naturally to me. Sometimes I do speak up, and sometimes I don't care all that much. I've grown support circles in which I am heard regularly and valued. I don't feel rejected by those I love and who love me well. It's just not about that anymore - that's my new story. And that's the story I now hear, instead of the old rejection story that had to do with other's not caring about or wanting me.

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Step 3. Let your vulnerability remind you of everyone's vulnerability, growing your compassion for the human race. As humans, each one of us is vulnerable and experiences weakening feelings. Observing your vulnerability and seeing your automatic protection methods gives you a chance to hold the truth that everyone has these feelings and can be in automatic protection mode. How sad that we adopt these patterns and habits in which we can't simply be our true selves naturally and comfortably! Let your vulnerability allow  you to grow your compassion for others who unconsciously mask themselves, turn on the offense or shut down in the many ways we do, to attempt to feel safe. Let your compassion be the ruling force inwardly.

Step 4. Learn how to create safety from within so that the outer environment is less important. When you know how to care for yourself and allow your vulnerability compassionately, non-judgmentally and lovingly, the outer environment is less important. You can become the guide to help others learn how to treat you well. When you no longer judge yourself, you will not want others judging you, in fact you will not want it in your life at all. When you treat yourself lovingly, you will want more loving and kind interactions with others as you become proficient at offering and accepting love.

Step 5. Embrace your vulnerability. When we forget that we are all vulnerable, we can develop unpleasant habits to be around. These can show up as behaviors and attitudes that state - I am stronger, greater, infallible and untouchable. Without knowing it, we often send signals that others are repelled by when we think we are making ourselves more attractive. Inauthentic behaviors and attitudes are acknowledged energetically by others even if they aren't acknowledged openly and consciously. These dynamics set us up to enter into conflicted relationships and experiences right from the beginning.

Embracing your vulnerability is authentically empowering and gracious, the most loving and kind expression of acceptance you can offer yourself. For those wanting a life of fulfillment and authenticity, it's a path with immense potential!

The Deepest Commitment

showdreamsWhen you keep the deepest of commitments to the authentic you at the heart of your being, you will be challenged and their will be trials. Who wants these trials? I do.

In order to reach your potential and grow into the version of yourself that you only aspire to be today, there will be pressure to act beyond your comfort zone. Who wants that kind of pressure?

I do.

When you dream a big dream in life, you need to expand to hold that huge vision, and that may be painful at times. Who wants that kind of pain?

I do.

In order to manifest your beautiful visions of the world, you will need to become clear in thought, word, and deed, keeping this alignment in the strictest manner. Who wants that kind of discipline?

I do.

When you commit at the deepest level to the authentic you that wants your dreams to all come true, you have only yourself to look in the mirror and answer to. Did you honor yourself in all that did today?

I did, I do and I will.

I am committing to the big dreams.

What are you committing to and what stops you from manifesting that vision?

 

Don't Wait for Death

What you don't deal with in life comes to visit at the end of life. NOTE - What you DO deal with frees you to live wholly, honestly in this life. 

When my dad passed last month, I became acutely aware of the gifts of dealing directly with old hurts, forgiving and letting go. My healing journey began 26 years ago. I spent many hours in self-reflection and in healing spaces with loving support that helped me grow into the strong and clear woman I am today. I worked hard and made a very deep commitment to myself to heal all that I can in this lifetime. I continue that commitment. It no longer feels like work, it feels like loving service to myself and others.

I felt very disappointed and frustrated with my relationship with my father for a long time. With persistence and the right kind of help, I came to accept my father for who he was and allowed him to be just that without internally anguishing about what I didn't care for. I also came to know who I am, allowing myself to be all of Me! My dad loved me in his way. I wanted more intimacy and connection in my relationships than I experienced with him. I want to feel known and heard and understood. In time I gathered a beautiful support circle (that grows and changes with life changes) that nurtured me into a true sense of wholeness. These people know me, understand me and listen well to me. They are my chosen tribe. I let go of the need to have a quality of relationship with my Dad that I had wanted but couldn't cultivate without him wanting those same things. I let it be. My gift was that I experienced wonderful love and support from others, and also found peace inside to let my Dad be who he was  - less able to navigate and cultivate intimate relationships.

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During his last week of life I held space from afar. My youngest sister and dear niece, who is a nurse, tended him at his bedside. I sent loving prayers and attention and intention for him to have the end of life experience that he desired. I lit candles and created an altar that I could look at, reminding me to send peace and love their way consistently. This allowed me to feel like I was participating in a valuable way. I checked in with myself daily to make sure I didn't "need" to head north to see him one more time. I made sure he was asked if he wanted me there. He said,"Laurel knows".  We were at peace with one another.

We were at peace with one another because I wanted nothing less than peace and dedicated myself to the cause. I believe he wanted the same. So it was. But in order to get to that peace I needed to feel all the other heavier feelings that came earlier in life with the disappointment and lack of connection. I needed to cry those tears of loss, say what I wanted to him, voice the disappointment and then, Let it Be, release. And in doing that I opened a space within to become peaceful. I gained freedom from the old relationship of little girl and emotionally unavailable father. The relationship became spiritual seeker and spiritual seeker. I could tell him what I thought and not hold back. And that felt good because I like to think (I hope this is true) that I did so compassionately, boldly and clearly. I have my thoughts, opinions and path to walk Dad, and I am doing it.

Sadly, others in my family have not walked this healing path. My Dad did not know how to navigate that space with them and lead them along. The end of my Dad's life brought drama in this circle. Because at the end of life, what wasn't dealt with in life comes to visit. I am saddened by these new family dynamics, but I accept that this is the consequence of not doing the work while we are alive and able to make that conscious choice to create more healed, harmonious and loving relationships. We all have the opportunity to seek inner peace and healing. When we take that opportunity and run with it, everyone around us is served. We contribute to global harmony in our most powerful way. By creating it internally and in all the relationships we engage in as best we can.

ExamineWhat have you been avoiding, what creates conflict for you inside? Now is the time to learn to navigate those difficult waters, while you have time to create the peace you desire.

Committing to Self

As a woman who has nurtured others as a way of life, and one who enjoyed the "good mother" role for 30 years, I have made a new commitment to myself this year. I am placing what my inner Self needs before all else. And I am finding it an inner struggle so far. crossroads

How do you say yes! to what you deeply want and tolerate feeling like you are letting those you love down in some way? You breathe into it, you do it gently, you do it quietly, and you bear the feelings. And you tell yourself, my life is not dedicated to making sure others are not disappointed. My life is dedicated to modeling how joy and fulfillment light up the world, and inviting every person I encounter to have that experience. I cannot accept their invitation to joy. I can only say yes to mine.

And during this time of deep commitment to Self, I am aware of the inner push-pull to move towards what excites and scares me, and to then simultaneously say "I am good with life just as it is, I don't need that too." It is that voice that tells me, I don't need that too, that is my enemy right now. She will keep my life small and feeling a little heavy. I know her.

So today, I am listening carefully, honoring it all within. But I am boldly going forward to that which my heart desperately wants to experience. And in so doing I am the spiritual warrior saying Yes! to life, when I could otherwise shrink back and say good enough. It is no longer good enough to leave my deep wants unexpressed. I may let others down, but I will love them and shine and share the joy anyway.

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Acceptance = Peace by Kelly McCoy

michael-suit-1A few months ago, I came across an article about Actor Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future, Family Ties, Spin City). In it, he talked about his family, his new television series and his challenges with Parkinson's disease. His story was funny, scary and inspiring. I walked away unable to stop thinking about one of his comments. When asked what he has learned from his disease, he said that he has recognized that his happiness increases in direct proportion to his acceptance and his happiness decreases in direct proportion to his expectations. Read those two sentences a few times and let them sink in. Happiness decreases in direct proportion to expectation.

Happiness increases in direct proportion to acceptance.

I found these thoughts about acceptance, expectation and happiness fascinating and started trying them on for size in my own life. Does this mean anything to me? Is that how it works in my life? As I examined my responses to life I found that when I expect something and it doesn't happen, there is disappointment or stress or anxiety. When I accept whatever comes along, whether it meets my expectation or not, I feel calmer, less stressed, more...at peace.

Michael's magazine revelation seems so simple, yet so profound. It has become a private litmus test for me in many situations. When I expect a client to like a draft of an ad, a letter or a brochure that I've created, their reaction holds power over me. If they don't like it, I often feel defensive, insecure, even guilty, that I was unable to give them what they wanted. Yet, when I enter the same meeting consciously, knowing why I have made the creative choices I have and leave myself open - and accepting - of whatever their reaction is, I feel less stress. If they aren't happy with what they see or read, I am open to the comments and ask questions about how we can better meet their requirements. If they love what they see, all the better.

I am continuously reminding myself that it's not all up to me. Every human interaction is just that, a relationship, a collaboration. I should not EXPECT to have it all right all the time in the eyes of another. I can ACCEPT that things are not always what I EXPECT them to be. This makes everything okay. We're all just doing what we think is best at the time. Perhaps there's another way to look at the situation or challenge and reach a peaceful solution in which both parties reach acceptance - and feel good about - the outcome.

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This is wrapped up in the concept of not taking things personally. It's not all about me. However, for those of us who were raised to BE RESPONSIBLE, this can be a challenge. When I enter into a situation with my husband, one of my children, or a client, I feel responsible for the outcome. That feeling has been cultivated in me since my childhood and it's not easy to release. However, when I consider the honest intent of what my mother and father insisted on from the time I can remember, it was "be responsible for yourself." They never told me to be responsible for another person's happiness, reactions or feelings. They taught me to be kind, to finish my homework, to clean up my room. In hindsight, I understand that these simple things were designed to keep my own life moving forward in a positive way.

When I really consider the intent...they were saying, "Always do your personal best so that you can be comfortable in any situation." The key is to be comfortable with yourself, not to be right in the eyes of anyone else. If you are comfortable inside your own skin, then it is much easier to ACCEPT whatever comes your way. If you know you have done everything you can...open, let go, accept. This lack of tension and anxiety is a magical thing.

peaceThe only place that I differ with Michael is in the word "happiness." In examining his words of wisdom, I prefer to insert the word "peace." I am more peaceful when I accept what comes along and less peaceful when I expect anything. I find that to be less qualitative than "happiness," which I've been somehow trained to think is a good thing. Peace, for me, is simply a state of being in which you experience less conflict and less struggle. Peace is possible when acceptance happens and expectation ceases. What a powerful thought and lovely way to be.

So, in the future, perhaps I can sit with Michael J. Fox to tell him how much his words impacted me and to debate semantics on this. I will never expect this to happen, however if the opportunity presents itself, I will definitely accept.

Be well and revel in the peace you can create for yourself each moment of the day.