Dealing with disapproval at work

Not everyone is going to like you all of the time (and that's okay).

I want to talk about our relationships at work. As I'm getting ready to start a new job, I'll be working with new people. I can't help but worry about the unknowns of how we'll relate to one another: will they trust me or micro-manage? Will we butt heads? Will our styles align or misalign? How will we handle conflict? 

As a recovering people pleaser / perfectionist, I want all of my new co-workers (superiors and otherwise) to like me all of the time and approve of everything I do. But, I've learned that not only is this not realistic in the workplace, it shouldn't be what we strive for. Striving to be liked all of the time doesn't 1. produce the best work and 2. allow for us to honor our own needs. This is a big shift from what we're taught in school: do everything according to the rules and you'll get good grades. Be liked by your teachers. Do as authority tells you to and you'll succeed.

Work is different: it's a dance, a constant negotiation. Sometimes we are in perfect alignment with those around us, other times we are pushing for a different agenda. 

I'll give an example. At Freshpet, I had a different style than many of my bosses (a more "millennial" style, if you will). Because of this, I had a different point of view on time off. My boss and I often butted heads about this, and once got in an argument about a time off request. My perfectionist tendencies caused me to feel very upset by this -- I was worried and upset by his disapproval, but conflicted because I also really wanted my freedom to take that extra few vacation days as long as my work was getting done. 

Here's where the lesson came in: my boss taught me that it's okay if your team isn't thrilled by everything that you do all of the time. He used the metaphor of a bank. The more good will that you accumulate (through good work, etc), the more is deposited into your account. And when you do something that pisses someone off or that someone doesn't agree with, a little is withdrawn. But the idea is that there is such a solid foundation of good within the bank that just because a bit is lost doesn't mean that the scales are tipped in a negative direction. 

Work is so much of where our lives are lived -- where we show all parts of ourselves. The deposits and withdrawals are a natural part of the day to day in any area that is so pervasive. As long as the balance doesn't fall below zero, we are okay. 

I have to remind myself of this often. When I do, I'm reminded that my only real job in life is to show up and do the best I can for my work and for myself. Sometimes I will be celebrated, sometimes I will be met with disapproval. But as long as I feel good about the choices I am making, and as long as I'm building up that account of good will, I know that I'm doing well. 

x

What are you trying to prove?

Once upon a time I was 26 years old and in love with someone. I say someone because it was one of those serious but not serious "we're exclusive but we're not in a relationship" kind of relationships that only the 21st century can provide.

I was desperate for him to call me his girlfriend. I badgered him about it endlessly. 
Eventually it ended (and kick-started my journey to becoming the highly feeling beast writing to you right now). Not because I ended it because I decided to hold my own needs and integrity higher than my need for his acceptance, I am sad to admit. But because he knew he wasn't giving me what I needed but wouldn't really ask for.

Fast forward (almost) 5 years. 

My dating life is healthier than it has ever been.

and yet... I am still chasing the title. 
I want so desperately for someone to call me their "girlfriend." 
To prove to myself and the people around me that I can. 
That I am not broken.
That I deserve to be someone's girlfriend.
That I am more than the "close but not quite enough to really give my all to" girl. 
And while this isn't the most conscious driver of my behavior, it is subconsciously driving my actions (and my anxieties).

The problem with striving to prove something is that it reveals a disempowering belief about yourself. In this case, it reveals that I still don't truly believe that I can be treated the way I want to be treated in romantic love. And what you believe is what you get.

The good news about this revelation is that through awareness, I have the power to break this belief down and shift it. I can examine where this comes from, if it's really true (it's not) and can play with other more positive thoughts to shut this one down. I can see where and how I am striving for the title and step away from those behaviors or situations. I can loosen my damn grip on this and let the fuck go. And I can see what this behavior change enacts in my life.

I can break the wheel and strive for something better.

Because in the end, you don't have to prove anything to anyone (especially yourself) to have what you want.

So ask yourself... what am I trying to prove (to myself, to others)?
Why am I trying to prove it? And how can I believe that I already deserve that instead, right now?

x

KT
 

Who gives a shit about "owning your power"?

... is what I would say to myself when I would come across this topic in other coaches' emails, social posts, books. I mean, sure, personal power is great. But I just didn't understand it. There are so many other fish to fry outside of feeling "powerful." And is it even possible to be "in your power" all the time? What would that even look like? What did it even mean?

uuuuuuntil today. 

Let me back up a bit. 

I'm doing something that feels scary to me tonight: I am taking part in the recital for my voice studio. I haven't really sung in front of a large group of people in... probably 14 years. Which is insane, but it's true and here we are.

We had rehearsal this afternoon. If you're following the blog, you know that my journey back to singing has not been easy. But I've made great strides and am actually really enjoying singing again. Again is a key word here. You see, I've put so much pressure on myself to overcome the tension in my body that is coming up from nerves and from trying too hard, that for a while, I couldn't sing and actually enjoy it. I was choosing to succumb to the belief that my body just was no longer trained to sing and that I could never break down its tense, tense facad. WOE WAS ME THE VICTIM NO LONGER ABLE TO SING FREELY.

So rehearsal. I went. On the way I got a text from a person I'm dating (where I tend to give most of my power up all willy nilly) that he probably can't make it tonight. I felt so disappointed. I went up and sang. I was nervous. It was hard. I was trying too hard. As usual. I wasn't letting myself just have fun. I was barely tapping into the feeling of the VERY (ironically) powerful song I was singing.

Because I had already given my power away. 

Giving your power away is choosing to believe that you are governed by something else. It could be a person, a circumstance, an X factor. For me, it was choosing to believe that my body, the circumstances of living in New York, and the 14 years between me and the last performance I gave were in charge. I didn't get to choose if I would have fun. I was the victim.

BUT THE GOOD NEWS (and there is always good news) - is we can get our power back. AND OH HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS. 

So here's what I'm doing:

I have a bunch of crystals that I think are powerful, so I'll be squeezing the shit out of them.

I'm listening to my power bitch playlist.

Instead of getting sad and feeling defeated, I'm GETTING ANGRY (which, contrary to popular wellness belief, is a really positive emotion and can tap that inner power right up).

I'm asking for what I need. I'm at work right now (sorry, work!) but I'm writing this because I NEED TO DO THIS FOR MYSELF. 

I'm reaching out to friends who help bring me back into reality and stop feeling sorry for myself.

I'm eating a Reeses and drinking a coffee because WHY NOT.

And you damn well better believe I will be singing my big, powerful, angry song in the most angry way I can muster.

Wish me luck.

x

KT

P.S. I am surprised to be saying this, but personal power MAY ACTUALLY BE THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING. The jury is out, but I think Bryce and I are on to something.

You're spiraling: now what?

I'm writing this in the midst of a spiral of my own. If you're feeling similarly, first and foremost, keep in mind that there is a crazy energy-shift in the air due to the Spring equinox/full moon/mercury retrograde. So a lot of people are feeling this way right now. But even if you aren't, we all have those moments. So here's what to do about it.

How do you know if you're spiraling?

I use a lot of words to describe this feeling - triggered, spiraling, overly anxious, "struggling," "in a bad place," depressed, emotionally overwhelmed. But here's the general gist of my experience when I'm spiraling:

My anxiety levels feel through the roof, with few breaks in the general hum of anxiety. For me, this feels like heightened tension in my shoulders and gut, a distinctive tight feeling in my chest, heightened cardiovascular levels. My body is in its old fight or flight thing.

I replay negative moments/thoughts over the course of the day - I am buying into their story.

I feel heaviness in my heart and it feels like it is closing off. 

I worry if this is going to be my new normal and spiral harder. Things that I usually brush off in stride feel bigger than usual. I start to literally question if I am going crazy. My mind feels like it is attacking me and/or I'm having a mental fever. BASICALLY, IT SUCKS and it can last for a little while (a few days, more than that... you know. ick!). 

The worst part about spiraling is it's SO EASY TO GET SUCKED IN AND FORGET EVERYTHING POSITIVE YOU'VE LEARNED TO COMBAT IT. You experience a form of temporary insanity. It almost feels like you've stepped into a past version of yourself (because you kind of have). 

SO WHAT DO WE DO? 

1. Recognize that your spiraling isn't your fault - your old wounds are triggered.

One thing I know for sure (which is backed up in lots of research and spiritual teachings): when you are spiraling, it's really easy to place a TON of blame on yourself. But IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Your old wounds are being "triggered" by external circumstances. Spiraling is a sign that there is something more to heal within you. 

A LOT of spiritual practices / energy work etc. talk about old wounds. Basically, when we experience something particularly painful, sometimes we don't let it go. We don't let it pass through our body (consciously or unconsciously). And so it gets stuck there. There are tons of words / metaphors for this: in hinduism they call this trapped negative energy Sanskara. Many teachers refer to this as hardening / layering on top of our heart. Some call them pain bodies. But whatever you choose to call them, there are a few things we need to be aware of:

1. Everyone has them,

2. we're often not really aware of them until they are triggered (that is, something provokes them and that feeling re-awakens),

and 3. they take work to release.

SO, when you're finding yourself spiraling down into a dark place, it's first and foremost important to recognize and name the fact that you're spiraling because of something inside of you that isn't healed. And that is OK. We all have things that we need to heal. You're not broken, you're not crazy, but you got some excess pain you gotta get out of there. And because you're human, this will happen. 

2. PRACTICE RADICAL SELF CARE

When we're spiraling it's easy to want to just power through and go into beast mode to "fix everything." THIS IS A TRAP. Spirals LOVE THAT it gives them more fuel! Instead, go into radical self care mode. Listen to what your body needs and GIVE IT TO IT. Cook yourself some delicious food (and ask yourself: do I want something healthy? Am I looking for comfort food?). Rest. Drink lots of water and tea. Exercise or take a walk. Read. Write. Meditate. Sleep. Tap into your creativity. Have a great conversation with a friend. Get a massage. Basically, slow down and care for yourself. Your soul and your body are basically begging for it. 

3. REMEMBER WHAT YOU KNOW

Since triggers are based on old pain, the "person" being triggered is actually a younger version of ourselves. So, our reactions tend to come from and sound like that younger self. It can almost feel like you've stepped back into the past or are regressing. Which often ain't pretty.

But the good news is that you are NOT your younger self today, and you have lots of tools that he or she didn't have. The work is to make sure you don't forget that in the moment, which can be tough. Remind yourself that you have better ways to cope with these feelings and give yourself the space to tap into your wisdom (meditation, journaling, revisiting a favorite book or teacher etc can help). Then, put those tools to work!

A good example of that is THIS EMAIL. I always forget everything I know when I am in a bad place. It actually drives me nuts when I remember again a few days later. But this morning, it all came back to me. Something inside pushed me to open Good Sex by Jessica Graham, and low and behold, there it was: a chapter about triggers. Which snapped me back out of my self-blame spiral and reminded me that this wasn't my fault at all. A revelation.

4. CALL ON YOUR PEEPS

You never have to deal with the darkness on your own, nor should you. This week I've got stuff lined up with my coach, acupuncturist, and my best best friends. I'm going to have dinner with my parents tonight. I am leaning into my tribe, the folks who know me and support me the best and who I really trust.

Asking for help can be hard, especially when we feel shame around what's coming up for us. But it's one of the fastest ways to get back to center - and to start healing those sanskaras. 

I really hope this is helpful and would love to hear from you: is this true to your experience? do you have other words of wisdom to share? and of course, I'm always here if you need to call on your tribe.

Thank you for hearing me. 

xx

KT

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LOVE IS A FEELINGS EXPLOSION THAT WE SOMETIMES HATE

The early stages of falling for someone are accompanied by all the feels. 

Which is completely and utterly normal, maddening as it may feel.

Those early days can be the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One moment we are in our lover's arms feeling the most joy we've felt in ages. The next, we are staring at our phone screen wondering when the next text will come in. We sit with baited breath waiting for the next invitation to spend time together. We question ourselves, we question them, we analyze actions, conversations, things unsaid and undone. In one moment, we are confident in our love and in the next we are terrified that our love will never amount to anything.

But we hate the feeling of uncertainty. We hate feeling vulnerable. And we HATE getting hurt with the fire of 1000 suns. 

So what do we do?

We shut off. We hedge. We hide. We pretend. We close down and keep our feelings to ourselves. We try our best to keep it cool. We play into the bullshit stories that our wounded parts concoct. We try to put ourselves at ease by questioning our lover's intentions in hopes of making a quick evaluation and getting the hell out of there if there is the slightest chance of pain in the future.

Love is highly charged, babies.

It's highly charged for many of us.

And the best thing that we can do in this stage is to STAY OPEN. As much as your mind may be telling you to close and keep yourself safe, DON'T. 

To fall in love, you have to actually let yourself fall. Let your heart open. Stay open. Show yourself. And allow.

Ask yourself "where am I trying to self-protect?" and take notice of that.

And while your mind will be screaming at you to DO something, to figure this out, the only thing you really need to do is surrender- and maybe also listen to the words of your beautiful, steady heart. Which, you may need to get very quiet to do. Because all of the other parts of you are prone to screaming.

She will guide the way.

x

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We make everything about us

You know what I'm talking about.

Someone doesn't text, and we're positive it's because they're not that into us anymore.

We don't get the job or make the team, and it's because we're not skilled enough.

Our friend seems a bit cold, and we assume they are angry at us.

I was going to put a positive example of this but couldn't even think of one. Most of this time this happens when something negative happens to us.

One of my clients introduced me (my clients are brilliant) to the psychological concept behind this. I couldn't find the ACTUAL principle in the 2 minutes I allowed myself to google this, so I will attempt to summarize.

Something bad happens to you - let's say you fail a test in school.

You can handle this one of two ways: you can treat it as situational (ie. I failed the test); or, you can take the failure as a statement about yourself (ie. I am a failure, I am bad at math, etc). Many of us default to the latter and build up stories about ourselves and what we can and cannot do. But what if we were to look at all of the happenings in our lives, good and bad, as situational? What if we always believed that no matter what happened, we had the power to choose WHO we were and HOW we'd show up in the world? In reality, you could have failed the test for a number of reasons: you didn't get enough sleep, your teacher didn't adequately explain the material, the list goes on. But so often we jump directly to some form of "I'm not good enough."

This lesson seems to come up for me a lot in life, as a huge feeler and a person who has fallen guilty to making almost everything personal many, many times. The good news is, the more it comes up, the more conscious of it I become, and the more I can make my own choices.

This week, I defied the not good enough monster.

I took voice lessons growing up for about 10 years. At one point, I even wanted to go to school for music. I decided against that for practical reasons and found myself at UVA my freshman year. I had been incredibly involved in music in my town and at my high school, and had established myself as one of the top talents there - which afforded me a lot of "winning" and external validation. When I went to UVA, I felt like a small fish in a big pond in a lot of ways, and that included musically. I wasn't a music major, so I didn't really feel part of the community in the same way that I did. I knew that I wanted to keep singing, but I didn't know what the best outlet would be for me. 

I decided to try out for an acapella group, I think because it seemed cool and social and there would still be singing in my life. I had never really sung much acapella - which is singing without instrumental backing, and honestly requires a different type of skill set than what I was used to. I didn't get into the group- or even a call back. And I never really sang much again after that.

I know what you're thinking - I GAVE UP 10 YEARS OF SINGING JUST LIKE THAT? I wish that I hadn't, but I'm embarrassed to say that I essentially did with the exception of a few lessons here and there.

Fast forward to life in New York. I barely sing anymore. I've decided that I am okay, but not nearly as good as I once thought I was. I have no musical outlet. That part of me, I've decided, is in the past. I couldn't cut it outside of my small pond.

My friend Bryce (of course, who else - if you read this blog you probably think Bryce is my only friend) convinced me to try voice lessons in the city with someone he knew two or three years ago. I went, but couldn't get over the demons inside of me that told me I wasn't good enough and would never be as good as I once was. I gave up after two lessons.

UNTIL. 

Last night.

I went back to Clint.

And my lesson was amazing.

And it felt so good.

And I really spilled it all: my background, what I am hoping for, why I stopped singing. 

To which he said "well, that could have been anything right? You weren't even a musical theater major. It probably had nothing to do with you." 

And then reminded me of how great my voice sounded.

That hit me hard, y'all. 

IT PROBABLY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.

But for almost 14 years, I have been telling myself it was ALL ME.

And that I wasn't good enough.

How about that?

I'm going back in two weeks.

x

kt

 

 

I'm in love

....with myself!

You're probably having one of two reactions right now:

"Tyson, way to click bait me." - to which I say, got ya!

or

utter eye-roll with a slight tinge of repulsion followed by curiosity.

We are not generally taught to love ourselves, and DEFINITELY not taught to make declarative statements about being "in love" with ourselves.

And yet last night, I had the most profound realization. I felt brimming with excitement. My heart was open. I felt tingly and warm inside. It felt a bit like love, but I wasn't sure where it was coming from.

I  had done a lot of self stuff that day. I did my CBD tincture. I meditated. I got a little acupuncture done at work because Casper is awesome. I went to a mantra-based workout class (naturally). I roasted myself some veggies and sweet potatoes. I vision-boarded. And when I got in bed that night, I just felt so. thankful. to. be. alive. And so excited about my life.

And I realized. I did feel like I was in love. And for the first time, it was with me.

It felt like a revolution.

What can you do today to fall more in love with yourself? I am always here with suggestions!

x

Are we all just hedging?

It's recently come to my attention that I've been hedging in things that really matter to me. 

What is hedging, you ask?

I am borrowing this term from finance, which was my least favorite subject in comm school, so I will not explain it via that metaphor. You're welcome. 

How I want to explain it is in terms of our (you guessed it) feelings.

Hedging is when you don't let yourself go all in on something as a mode of self-protecting, or protecting others (which probably also circles back to self protection).

Hedging is really liking someone but continuing to date other people because you are afraid of not getting what you want.

Hedging is really liking someone but not committing because you're afraid one day you'll wake up and you will realize you can't give that person what they want.

Hedging is having one foot in your current job and one eye on any other potential job (like all the time).

Hedging is telling half of the truth and leaving the other half, the more revealing half, unsaid.

When it comes down to it, no matter what the reason, we hedge because we are scared. It is human nature to hedge. We are self-protectors after all. Bad feelings scare us.

But what would happen if we didn't hedge all the time?

Yes, we would open ourselves up to fear. Yes, we might get hurt more often. Yes, we might hurt others, too. But, we might win bigger. We might express ourselves in ways we never have before. We might find out new things about ourselves and the world.

We might get what we've always wanted.

x

 

Are you Highly Feeling?

I stumbled upon the phrase "Highly Sensitive Person" on Instagram a few weeks ago (normal when you following 1 billion wellness people). A few things struck me about this phrase:

1. I suddenly had a name for everything that had ever happened in my life, and

2. I was deeply repulsed by it because it sounds so.... wimpy

We'll start with point #1. I had found three words to encapsulate every struggle, every thought and every action in my past, present, and future. Three words that spoke to the kind of people I want to help and work with and that make me want to write a ton of blog posts. Three words that turned my self-diagnosed anxiety into a much broader and more easily understandable state of being.

I couldn't have said it better myself...

Except that, I could. There is something about the word sensitive that just evokes negativity. It doesn't feel good to self identify as a HSP. It feels laden with shame. We're told growing up not to be too sensitive, to toughen up, to smile and suck it up.

But what I've learned over the past few years of delving deeply into my feelings is that feeling ashamed of them is the worst possible choice we can make. And that my innate feelingness is actually one of the best traits I possess. 

I've taken to calling HSPs "Highly Feeling." It just feels better, ya know? And as a feeler, I know that's important.

Are you Highly Feeling? Here are a few ways that you can tell:

  • You've been called sensitive more than a few times in your life (including and not limited to work, school, friendship and love situations).
  • Every day is different. One day you feel on top of the world, the next you're deeply sad. It's variable and ever-changing. You just have to "see how you feel" before making decisions.
  • You're highly introspective. 
  • You're a people pleaser or at least very good at making others feel comfortable and reading the room.
  • You're deeply moved by books, movies, TV, art, music, puppies (jk we all are)... etc. And you've probably dabbled in creating some or all of the above.
  • You may be more sensitive to physical sensations (eg. loud noises, smells) and/or substances like caffeine than most.
  • You're reading this blog post and nodding intently.

As a High Feels human, I feel you (obviously). And I want to help you shift your relationship with your feelings and your perception of them, or your Highly Feeling self, as wrong. I want to teach parents to stop labeling sensitivity as a weakness. And I want to take you all along for some serious feel sessions. 

Does this resonate with you? Cool. I'll be writing about it more.

x

KT

 

The importance of curiosity

One of my favorite things about my recent trip to India was living in a perpetual state of awe. Everything felt so foreign, from the nuances of how people moved their faces to literal wonder of the Taj Mahal, which meant that every moment felt new. Even the mundane car trips were something to behold, an adventure. My curiosity meter was constantly at an 11 out of 10. And I loved it.

Which brings me to share another big conclusion from my trip: curiosity is essential to the human soul, or at least it is for mine. And I think generally, people define curiosity in a way that is far too narrow. I for one remember naturally associating "curiosity" with an innate need to question things. I tend to often skip the questioning phase when I learn new information. I'm quick to accept different things as fact, probably because I'm quite trusting. And because in the past I've been a bit shy, a bit afraid of domineering conversation in some social settings, and afraid of being wrong in public situations, I certainly didn't as a lot of questions. So, I never thought of myself as a curious person.

When I was working with my first coach Caroline, early on in our sessions she had me take a personality test that defined my top traits. To my surprise, curiosity rose to the top. I shared my surprise with Caroline, and it was in this moment that I realized 1. there are so many ways to define curiosity and 2. the way we see ourselves can be SO out of alignment with the way others see us. Caroline saw me as a very curious person, even evidenced in the amount of self work I had done and would continue to do, the amount of books I liked to read, the variety of topics I wanted to cover. Recently, I was listening to a podcast where Oprah (that's right, OPRAH) shared she had never seen herself as curious, either! So, if you too have cast yourself among the "uncurious," know that you absolutely are, and that you're in good company as well. 

So here's what I've learned: curiosity can look like whatever turns you on and piques your interest. Curiosity is feeding your soul via information, and that information can come in from any of your senses. It can be in the form of savoring a new dish, touching a lover, reading a book, asking someone about their life, and yes, traveling. It can spark in your work, in your side gig, in your free time, and if you're lucky - in all of these things. The important thing is to recognize what feeds your curiosities, what lights you up, and then make time to do those things. And, to look for the curiosities, the little moments of wonder, in every single day. I promise you they are there if you pay attention.

With love. x

KT

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Got the Taj in my eyes

Thanks to our tour guide who fancied himself a photographer :)

#2018Goals: Slow the fuck down

Happy 2018 guys!

If you follow me on Instagram (or talk to me in real life), you know that I just got back from a three week trip of a lifetime in India. As to be expected, it was MIND BLOWING and MIND OPENING at the same time. I feel so grateful for the trip and am still putting together my thoughts on the lessons I learned and the things I will carry forward with me into the future.

Rather than writing a huge India recap (at least for now), I thought it would be easier to share some of my ah-ha's piece meal. I know Twitter upped their characters from 140 but we're still ADD and we still like a short read. And one of my goals this year is to write a LOT more. These tips will be in no particular order other than their relevance to my life at that moment.

THE POWER OF SLOWING DOWN

When I came back from vacation, I felt AMAZING - vacation high is real. One of the factors that I realized made such a difference was that I actually felt relaxed and rested EVEN THOUGH we had traveled SO MUCH while we were in India and I had just traveled for 24 hours to get home. I believe this is because while our days were packed, they were singular in focus. And that we created space before and after the events of our days to decompress, relax, and take it all in.

Too often, I find myself rushing from place to place: from work, to the gym, to the grocery store. From workout class to brunch to the bar to another bar. From coaching back to work to a date to then meet up with friends afterwards. Life as I've created it is basically non-stop. And it's a forward motion that I myself often haven't consciously created. Instead, I'm responding to the demands of others on my time. Now, don't get me wrong, these demands are often things I want to do with people I want to see. But the squeezing and layering of multiple things on multiple things until I'm not even thinking I'm just DOING is where I'm starting to see that life unravels a bit. Where I start showing up as someone other than my best, most conscious self.

Today, I'm practicing choosing a few things and doing them consciously, joyfully and with an open heart. To do that, I am creating space to care for myself before and after. And that means a bit of slowing down. That means I can't jam pack as many things into my day. That means I may have to go against what the group is doing and choose myself first. Which is something that certainly feels scary to me and is sometimes hard, but that is so worth it. Because I'd rather deeply enjoy two things than show up through five. 

I used the word practicing for a reason. As with every lifestyle change, this takes practice. I didn't come back from India and suddenly become a different person. In fact, I slipped back into old habits pretty quickly my first weekend back. Creating a different outcome means choosing a different decision - and choice requires you to be conscious. Today I'm choosing to be conscious. I'm choosing space. and I'm choosing me.

Have you tried creating more space in your life? I'd love to hear more about what that has done for you.

xx

 Slowing down and taking it all in at the Taj Mahal

Slowing down and taking it all in at the Taj Mahal

 

 

Ask for the $600 a night Villa.

Last night, Bryce and I were lucky enough to be on the floor for the Lady Gaga show at Citi Field. Someone at work had been offered the tickets, and for inexplicable reasons, no one wanted them. So, I jumped at the chance, and decided that Bryce and I needed to hang out outside of the wellness world. It was the perfect opportunity.

Fast forward 14 hours later and our luck kept coming. We breezed through the security line at the stadium though Bryce's wife Bridget had warned of miserable wait times. We basically chose even better seats on the floor and were the only row not to fill up. We arrived 5 minutes before Gaga went on though many the night before had complained of a 1:30 hour delay the evening before. We walked out of the stadium and onto the first train that we saw while others around us were held up in a mass of people.

It was hard to ignore our good fortune last night. 

In between Gaga's many costume changes, Bryce and I spoke about the power of asking for what you want -- and getting really big in that ask. Bryce explained that recently, he'd realized that the only person holding him back from getting WHATEVER he wanted in life was him. He brought up several examples in his business as a feng shui master & coach where he had been too afraid to ask for what he now knows he deserves. When he finally decided that there was no reason he didn't deserve what he was asking for, he immediately started getting what he wanted. The universe rose to the occasion. 

The truth is, we can have whatever we want in this life (whether or not you believe in "manifesting"). 

You just have to believe that you're deserving.

And that belief is a choice.

I want you to take a second and look at your life over the past few years. Isn't it true that most things that you've wanted you've gotten? And that the things that you really believed you could have came the easiest? A good place to look for examples of this for a lot of people is work- because it's a more common trajectory, most people are conditioned to believe that they can succeed at work. The more often we see something happen, the more we believe it is possible for ourselves.

The same principles can apply for the BIG THINGS. The things you're too afraid to ask for. The things you don't believe are possible. The things you're afraid you don't deserve. The things you just won't let yourself imagine because you don't want to get hurt or be let down.

As Bryce said last night, why the fuck wouldn't you ask for the $600 a night villa?

Maybe you're saying to yourself "I'll never get the villa. I can't afford it. I've never stayed in a place that nice and neither has anyone I know. So I can't see myself there." Maybe subconsciously you're saying "I wouldn't fit in at a place like that" or "I don't deserve to be there." 

I will say it again: why the fuck wouldn't you ask for what you want?

Who are you to not deserve everything you want in life?

The only person who is stopping you is you.

The only opinion that matters is yours. 

And you get to decide.

Will you ask for the $600 villa? Or will you settle for the Marriott because it's what you think is possible for you?

You set the limits on the realm of possibility for yourself.

You get to choose.

Choose the fucking villa.

x

p.s. if there is something you really want and are struggling to get, often it's a matter of shifting your belief system around that thing. I struggled for years around disbelief that I deserved a loving partner, for example. Bryce struggles to believe he deserves to make money (sorry to blow up your spot B!). We all have these semi-unconscious things we're conditioned to believe aren't possible for us or are HARD. All it takes is a bit of consciousness and a bit of work, and the change will come - often faster than you think. I'm happy to work with you to help make those shifts happen. Get in touch here!

My heart is as big as the sky

 

A few years ago, a group of girlfriends and I decided to do intuitive readings with Cara, someone I had met on retreat. These women and I had a special kind of magic together, and we wanted to tap into the witchiness before one of us moved away from NYC. On that night, we gathered in Jilly’s spare bedroom with wine and dinner, curious and full of hope. We each took a turn as Cara read into our souls and told us more about who we are and what we could expect in the future. We giggled and gasped as Cara uncovered insightful, beautiful things about each person, commented on what certain things might mean, and basked in the excitement of each prediction. When it was my turn, I crawled to the front of the bed, three of my best friends encircled around me, and prepared to hear about my future. Cara asked me if there was anything on my mind. I told her I had been struggling a bit – that there was a tightness in my chest I had noticed but that I didn’t know how to let go of. Like many things I do, my reading became very different than that of my friends.

Rather than do a reading at all, Cara suggested we do some energy work instead. She asked me to feel into my heart and tell her what I felt. I told her that I felt like there was a bowling ball on top of it. She talked me through an exercise in which we imagined the bowling ball being lifted off of my heart – it felt terrifying to the point that she had me imagine I was putting it in an imaginary back pack to be tucked away and pulled in when needed. The work was hard, but I was supported by the larger than life women around me. The work ended with a directive to my friends- to hug me hard and press directly on my heart, and to do so often. It was a different, yet beautiful start to the quest to open my heart.

 

I don’t remember when I first noticed the omni-present nature of my guarded heart. I’ve always considered myself an open person – I take risks, I try not to be shy, I share a LOT about my struggles and the things I’ve learned in fairly public forums. And yet, there was the matter of my closed heart. In reflecting, I have a feeling it has been this way for a very long time.

I do know that on a retreat, while I was taking part in a drum circle, I noticed it change. I was still pretty skeptical of all things “woo woo” while on this retreat, so I wasn’t sure that this drum circle thing would be “for me.” We gathered on a beautiful, empty corner of beach in Connecticut and sat in a circle, each holding our own homemade drum. We beat our little tin drums with our hands and closed our eyes, feeling the rhythm and the wind streaming off of the ocean. As the sun started to set, I noticed how beautifully meditative this drum circle thing was. At one point, we were each given a rose quartz crystal to hold, a crystal I now know to me eponymous with love and the heart. I held the crystal tightly in my left hand and felt something lift inside of me. It felt like the crystal was drawing the bowling ball that was mashing my heart down in my chest up and away, magnetically inflating my heart and giving it the power to stand up again. In a word, it felt freeing. I am fairly certain the drum circle woman had no clue what I was talking about when I tried to explain this crystal bowling ball heart connection, but I didn’t care. All I knew was that I had found something: a feeling I wanted again and again.

Fast forward to the experience on the bed in my friend’s Chelsea apartment building. I felt it again, but it was again fleeting. The pain and fear would rush back in and the bowling ball would slide out its back pack and resume its position on my heart. I still didn’t really understand why it was there, but I would come back to that feeling again and again as a goal.

Years later, I am still working on this. I’ve been asked about it by my mystically inclined friends who have no idea that it’s a topic of concern for me – they just know that it’s there. My bud Bryce has constantly commented when he feels like “my heart gets to breathe.” A psychic I got lured into tried to offer me a crystal healing session for my old wounds (and though I declined in a less than polite way, I think she was pretty perceptive in retrospect). The subject of my closed heart is visible outside of just me.

My acupuncturist Paul noticed it the SECOND I lay on the table and has been one of the most incredibly perceptive and influential folks in helping me to let her breathe. He commented on the tightness of the muscles in my upper back on my left hand side – a layer to protect my heart from penetration. I think of it as a kind of shield, imagining green vines growing and weaving together, climbing around my heart. I can literally feel the difference in the tension in this part of my back- this shit is no joke.

I write all of this because today I felt much freer than I had in ages. That’s the feeling that I am ultimately seeking – freedom. And I realized- my heart isn’t shrouding itself from the outside world. My heart has shrouded itself from me. I’ve judged its every move for years and told it it was wrong to feel what it felt. I’ve asked it to be different, and in doing so, I’ve closed it off.

 

The good news is, the things I am doing now are finally starting to break those barriers down. I’m learning to acknowledge my feelings as valid, no matter how ugly they may be. I’m acupuncture-karate-chopping the barriers and cracking the cage wide open. I’m tapping into my intuition as the word and law to guide me each day [or, trying to, as much as I can]. I’m having tough and super open conversations with the people who matter most to me, sharing things I have suppressed out of ease and self-judgement.

 

In my last acu session with Paul, we did an insane heart opening meditative acupuncturey thing that was so weird and so wonderful, as most of these things are. Through it all, a voice inside of my kept repeating “my heart is a big as the sky, my heart is as big as the sky.” I imagined my heart opening up wide and becoming one with the big, beautiful sky.

 

On my way home, I stopped in a park and lay on the grass, imagining my big sky heart merging with New York’s sky above me.

 

Today I know this: My heart is as big as I will let her be.

And one day she will be as big as the sky.

Will keep you posted on how this all progresses.

kt

Feelings and how to handle them.

Lately, I'm learning how to not judge or ignore my feelings.

EVEN WHEN they are SUPER ICKY and I HATE myself for feeling them.

EVEN WHEN they make me feel ashamed for even feeling them.

EVEN WHEN at first glance they seem like they don’t serve me.

 

Because our feelings are who we are. They’re our guideposts in this life – they show us the way.

And so I’m trying to change the way I relate to these negative emotions.

In the past, I’ve been a master judger and ignorer of feelings.

Here’s what I’ve learned in dealing with my feelings the wrong way:
We can’t ignore our feelings away. They don’t just go away. They may dissipate for a few days here, a few days there, but they will always come back up until they’re dealt with.

Some of us are masters at ignoring our feelings – and they come out in really destructive ways.

I have CERTAINLY been there. In college, I couldn’t deal with the feelings of uncertainty I had about my then boyfriend. Instead of addressing them, I ignored them – I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to be with him any longer. The more I suppressed, the worse my behavior became – until I cheated on him. To this day, I am ashamed that I did this. But had I addressed my feelings in the first place and allowed them to be valid, I highly doubt they would have come out in such a blaze of glory. One of my favorite pieces of wisdom is super relevant to this point: what you resist, persists.

  

Seeking validation for your feelings just perpetuates the issue. I know that when I have a negative feeling and feel badly about it, the first thing I want to do is prove that I’m justified for having that feeling. So, I talk to friends about it and try to gain consensus and evidence that I’m allowed to have the feeling I’m having. Basically, I’m seeking permission and trying to make myself right. This doesn’t work either. It makes things feel bigger than they are, it feels uncomfortable, and it creates an us vs. them mentality. Usually in these circumstances, the problem grows larger than it actually is and again, comes out in a blaze of glory.

So here’s what I’m trying instead:

1.     Acknowledge and Examine: Ask yourself: what is this that I’m feeling? (really define it) why am I feeling this? What is going on for me? What is the reality of the situation? Allow yourself to speak from your irrational self and really throw a tantrum if needed.

2.     Give yourself permission to feel those feelings and acknowledge that it is okay to feel that way.

3.      Choose to see this differently: what is the good that can come from these feelings? What can I do to choose or create a different outcome?

4.     ACT: this may require having a tough conversation, asking someone for help, writing, taking a leap of faith, making a change, ending something. Starting something. The point is that you choose what you do with the feeling.

Here is my attempt at applying this model to a recent bout of negative feelings.

What is it that I’m feeling: I’m feeling scared that I’m losing my friend’s support. I’m worried that she’s no longer going to be relatable to me. I’m afraid that I’m not going to matter to her. And I’m a little afraid to be left behind as she moves forward in a relationship.

Have I been here before? Yes. I massively resist change in friendships, especially when not on my terms.

 

I give myself permission to feel frustrated by the changing dynamic of my friendship with my friend.

The good that can come from this is we have the opportunity to address this and make more of an effort to be there for one another and not lose the closeness we have. I can choose to support her and believe that I am not being left behind, but being carried along and adding a richness to my life.

Act- I have to have a conversation with her about how I’m feeling and about the desire to make our friendship important. 

 

xx

I AM Moana

If you haven't seen Moana yet, stop reading this blog post and go watch it. I mean it! Then come back.

Ok cool. Did you cry? I bet you cried.

I've been listening to a LOT of Moana for the past few days. Because my really smart wonderful friend Bryce who I kind of hate right now made me realize something really big on Saturday.

Let me explain.

Last week was a full moon. For those in the well (new phrase i just made up for being in the know in the wellness word, get excited), the moon is a very powerful entity who's main job is to control the tides, not just of the ocean but of our souls. The moon comes in and wrecks shit and breaks us open and shows us things we may not want to see and invites us to release stuff or ask for stuff. The moon is basically the wise Grandmother in Moana.

Bryce and his acupuncture friend hosted a meditation / breath work thing on the night of the full moon that was simply magical. We all released a ton of crap and felt amazing afterwards.  Seriously, i hadn't felt that light in a very long time. The breath of life is no joke (don't try it at home). Some people cried, but not me! I was elated. I strolled on home on a cloud and was super excited to carry my beautiful high vibe self into the weekend.

Friday morning I woke up to a WHOLE LOT OF HORRIBLE GUNKY GROSSNESS. 

And the gunk wouldn't leave. 

I ranted, complained, and raged inside. I wandered to a date on the verge of tears (somehow, it still went great).

I couldn't understand what all of these gross feelings were coming up for. Honestly, I thought it was just another reaction to not having a boyfriend. it is, after all, the only thing I pine after these days. Otherwise, things are pretty gravy.

But the Full Moon is a wake up call, my darlings. And the wake up that I got may not have been the one I asked for, but it was the one I deserved.

Saturday I called Bryce. What started as a "why haven't I met the one yet" conversation became something much, much bigger.

You see, all of this time I've been working on creating a life that makes me happy. And it's worked, for the most part. I am really, truly happy, happier than I've been maybe in my entire life. So, I thought that the work was done. Sure, I've never stopped working towards that goal, but it's started to come naturally. And it's spilling over into lots of areas of my life.

I didn't realize that (of course) life will keep giving you lessons when you're ready for them. 

I didn't see that my happy foundation would mean that I'd be asked to move on to something more. 

And that something is purpose.

I have dreamed little dreams my entire life of becoming something bigger than myself. Of starting something. Of sharing that something with others. Of making an impact. 

I've done that in small ways, but I've not allowed myself to really follow that path.

I've played it safe.

And in doing so, I've found a lot of joy. 
But I know there is something more out there that I'm missing. Something that I can choose to ignore, and probably still live a pretty good life. Or something I can choose to follow and live a life of more joy than I could imagine. 

I don't really know what any of that means yet, beyond that I'm going to have to get comfortable taking risks. Today, all I know is that I'm scared, but I'm committed. I'm committed to listening to the small voice that is inside me and taking some kind of action. Every day.

Which is why I'm writing this.

I've read a lot of things about people reflecting on finding their purpose. But when you're in it, it feels like a whole bunch of magical BS that doesn't happen to regular people like you and I. So I'm going to try my best to chronicle this whole process. And hopefully end up on the other side screaming that I'm where I belong. But until then...

come what may
I know the way
I am Moana!

Dancing with Insecurity.

I'm still learning how to dance with insecurity. 

Feeling insecure is a feeling that I really, really hate. So when it comes up, I immediately want to do something that will make it go away or shut it up. Like running to the gym to get that endorphin boost up. Or texting a boy. Or pouring a large glass of wine. Insecurity just doesn't feel good. 

Insecurity is (at least for me) entirely external in origin. It comes from the putting of someone else's opinion before your own. It is giving your power to someone else. It's allowing someone else's reactions to you to dictate how you feel about yourself.

As humans, our nature is to take in and assign information. So it makes sense that (especially those of us who are highly emotionally attuned) would take in the actions and reactions of those around them and try to assign meaning. Did some guy you were hanging around with seem more interested in his phone than you? One point for you being not that interesting. Did someone compliment your outfit? One point in the pretty column. We're consistently taking in feedback and applying it to our view of ourselves. In this way, we're constantly trying to balance the scales. 

Issues come into play (of course) when we choose to assign more value to the wrong areas. "Wrong" is a relative term, but counter productive is probably the more accurate depiction. Good example: caring less about your best friends' compliment than that from an ex. When we start to become dependent on those affirmations from others, especially others with whom we have an emotionally charged relationship, this is where things can start to get hairy. 

Not to say that that isn't human nature, which I believe it is. But we've learned a lot of fucked up ways of operating in the last two thousand of years of existence.

So what's the right way to build real, lasting self-confidence?

For me-- there are days when I feel confident as hell. Sometimes this comes from just a lot of stuff going on externally that I can feel proud about: great feedback at work, a few good dates, a blossoming friendship. But when the achievements and feedback aren't piling up, should I too feel equally depleted? Often the pendulum swing is far too quick in the other direction, and my mind forgets all of the good that isn't hyper present in that moment or day.

The ideal state would be to draw your confidence internally - to try to build immunity to the fluctuations and feedback that comes in, to not let it rock your ever present, ever confident sense of self.

But lately, I'm trying to learn how to do something a little bit different: to look at insecurity as a part of life that isn't good or bad, just a feeling that happens. To try to understand where it is coming from and let it illuminate what it needs to illuminate for me. 

Last night, I was hanging out with a friend of a friend who I think is quite handsome. We seem to have a lot in common, and we had a lot to talk about. But towards the end of the night, it felt to me that he would rather be anywhere else than hanging out with me. WHICH is  a shitty feeling for anyone, but especially someone I had a budding romantic interest in. SO I immediately started to feel bad about myself, question my outfit choices, etc.

Today, to try to rebalance the scales, I thought about putting on something that felt really attention-grabbing for a party I'm going to later. I considered that this backless number would score some flirtation points and that I would start to feel a bit better [The fact that I even really noticed I was doing this for this reason was a step in the right direction]. But something about it just didn't feel right- I felt like I was wearing this for others, not for me.

Instead, I chose to wear something that I feel really good in - comfy, cute, put together, but not for the compliments of others. Just for me. 

Maybe that is the lesson in this go round. Maybe not. Time will tell, but for now, I will continue this experiment in not trying to SOLVE but instead just trying to FEEL.

 

xx

 

 

 

 

A must-read, and refocusing on the real work

I just finished reading the book Love Warrior – a book I devoured in a mere 72 hours, one that I already know will stick to my soul for much longer than the time it took to read it.

The books that have meant the most to me have one major theme in common: they are each a coming home of the self. Not just for the women who’ve written these novels, but also for me. They are grounding in a way few other activities are. They speak their own story but they just as readily remind me of the importance of knowing, loving, and sharing my own.

Brene Brown. Liz Gilbert. And now Glennon Doyle Melton. These are my heroes. These are my warriors. These are my sisters.

Our tribe isn’t divergent. It’s the path of a return.

A return to love.

A return to ourselves.

A stripping away.

A sifting (as Glennon often says).

Our fight is consistent. It’s the steady learning to feel our feelings, to listen to our internal wisdom, to unite and respect the trinity of our minds, bodies and souls.

It is the constant battle to let pain in and live with it, rather than numbing it.

It is the hard work of not accepting who others tell us to be, of constantly asking ourselves “what is it that I want? What is it that I feel?”. It is the sharing of these answers with others. It is the acceptance of these answers and their right to exist at all.

Our work on this earth can be summarized in one simple idea.

We are here to know ourselves.

We are here to trust ourselves.

We are here to share that self with others.

We are here to listen to who God has made us.

 

Nothing is more important nor challenging.

It is a fight that will always be a work in progress.
There is no “easy button” for the job of showing your full, real self to the world.

So how do we do this?

We learn to accept that our feelings are valid (this is step one and requires reinforcement).

We learn to pay attention to our feelings (through silence, through journaling, through listening, through making time and space for ourselves).

We learn to honor act on those feelings (in the moment, as a follow-up, with ourselves and with others – this one requires practice. It is a muscle that must constantly be flexed but that can strengthen with use).

We learn that doing so will not kill us. We learn that shame isn’t the only possible effect.

We choose to honor our real selves again and again.

We take one step at a time towards our return

Women be marchin (and we aren't stoppin).

I'm not into politics.

Much of my work as a life coach is about identity: we believe that we are one thing, and we operate from that place. We believe we will be that way forever, that our identity is a static piece of who we are and that it will always define us. We cling to identity as a way to make sense of our world. Many of us never even question it.

In reality, we are not our identity.

I know, it sounds like a lot of woo-woo nonsense. If you're not your identity, then who the fuck are you? 

(You're the witness, the one who listens, the watcher on the wall that is your consciousness. But that's a conversation for another day).

The point is, our identities aren't static. They're constantly evolving, they are living and breathing and changing just as we are. One day you "don't like pizza." The next you are 7 at a birthday party with Alex Benanti and he likes pizza, so you try pizza and you're like "holy shit, I love pizza!". You become this girl who loves pizza and the Little Mermaid, among many other things. 

I had one of those moments this November. I had always seen myself as someone who "didn't like politics" and who couldn't take time out to be informed because "it all wouldn't make a difference, anyway." I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't even vote until this past year. In sum, I was the opposite of woke.

This November, that all changed. 

On Saturday, I took place in the biggest protest in history. I marched with sisters young and old, male and female. I made a sign that had the word Pussy on it and I held it with pride. 

I do not agree with the ideals of our President. But as we know from physics, with every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The positive force developing from this is something to be proud of, and something unparalleled. A sleepy, complacent nation is waking up and getting going. Pro or Anti Trump, Republican or Democrat, we all can unite on this: we cannot and will not turn a blind eye. We will not close our eyes and let someone else make our choices for us. We will stand up, we will march, and we will fight.

The biggest indicators to me are some of the smallest gestures. A friend gifted our secret santa gift exchange with a planned parenthood donation. A waitress bought us a round of shots because we marched. I organized a lunch with women at work to write post cards. These are things that I wouldn't have even fathomed in years past. And today, they are happening more and more.

Like the sleepy giant in whatever movie I'm thinking of, we're waking up loud and angry and a little groggy. But we're powerful AF, and we're coming.

I'm not into politics. But I am into revolutions.

p.s. if you're interested in joining the movement, visit WomensMarch.com. 100 days of action are starting this week! 

We started a podcast! Introducing Wellness Dumpster.

WTF is Wellness Dumpster!?
In my journey to feeling truly happy in my life (no easy feat), I tried basically everything. I read book upon book, I sought therapy and nutrition counseling, I turned to meditation, yoga, and medication. And eventually, I found life coaching and healed a ton of shit I needed to heal. But I didn't stop there. Coaching opened my eyes to all of the opportunities for growth there are out there -- the normal, the wacky, the things that work and the things that don't. I've learned that the more I discover, the more there is to discover.

What frustrated me (and still does) is that so many of these helpful practices are unknown, or worse, easy to dismiss because they sound “weird.” It’s easy to say something that we’re unfamiliar with is “not for me.” I get it, I’ve been there. I still find myself reacting from that place initially. But by shutting things down (or not knowing about them to begin with), we can miss out on some of the most impactful opportunities to change our lives for the better.

WD podcast neon.png

Which is why we started Wellness Dumpster: a podcast dedicated to sharing the best (and worst) of the wellness world, in a way that breaks down the mental barriers we often associate with things outside of our comfort zones.

Today I voraciously devour anything self-help related to find new tools to add to my arsenal, both as a coach and as a person dealing with my own shit. The work is never done, as they say (and they are right, damn it).  
My favorite part about this (besides the growth I've experienced) is that I've become this bold, adventurous person in a more non-traditional sense. I've tried things I never would have been open to for fear of feeling embarrassed or because I didn't fully know what I was getting into. I've done things that the me of a few year ago would have laughed at or called weird, like getting my apartment feng shuied, buying a bunch of crystals and doing a moon ceremony in my apartment, or hugging some "sisters" womb to womb. Of course, some tools and tips worked more for me than others. But the journey itself in coming from a place of "that's not for me" to a place of openness to new experiences has been tremendous.

My friend and co-host Bryce and I share these traits: this zest for exploring, this openness to try the unconventional. But we do so with a light-heartedness, a fun spirit, and an honest voice that we felt was missing in a lot of talk about the wellness world. We're dreamers, yes, but we've got our skeptical streaks. We dabble in the weird, but we're pretty damn relatable. And we're not ones for bullshit.

That's what Wellness Dumpster is. It's honest conversation between two self-seekers who aren't afraid to be vulnerable, who've spent a lot of their lives trying to be happier and have discovered some of the secrets. And who aren't afraid to make fun of themselves or the things that we're talking about.

Our (somewhat) weekly podcast is a collection of the things we've learned, the tools we love, and our personal journeys as they unfold. 

To listen and subscribe, you can add us on itunes or follow on our website.

If you enjoy it, please subscribe or leave us a review. We'd be super grateful and would love to hear from you!