Growing up with a Super Intuitive Mother

I've felt compelled to write about the exquisite mother-daughter relationship in more depth for some time now, so consider this a piece of that greater work.

In my group of immediate friends, we have one (or a combination) of the following two things in common:

  1. We are highly intuitive
  2. Our mothers are highly intuitive

I'm writing this article because when someone else receives intuitive information for/about you, and then tells you about it, you're naturally going to process it.

If your mother has been sharing this with you for most of your life, you've probably already developed a way a processing it.

Sometimes, a parent shares selectively, which means they'll share this information every once in a while.

Nonetheless, the receiver has to (at some point) decide to do with it. So, I am here to share experiences so that we can all learn together.

As for my personal experience, my mom is "scary intuitive," which, to me, means that when she has an intuitive prompting, you're like, "F---, everything was going well, and now, there's this thing."

Here's the thing...moms are probably 50/50, so as daughters (or sons) receiving advice, we have to evaluate which 50% something is coming from.

This is a phenomena that I personally, and with friends, have had to navigate, so I feel compelled to share it here.

What do you do when someone you trust is totally right 50% of the time, and then, they are also human, which means you take their advice with a grain of salt?

While I cannot speak for your experience, I can speak for mine, so here I go...

I have been traveling with my mom, when she has a serious intuitive knowing, and I can feel it too, so I'm like, "I'm good. Let's honor that."

I've also been in conversation with my mom when I'm sharing my truth, and mid-share, she says, "What about X?"

Which leads me to when moms are in "fix-it" mode. PLUS intuitive reception.

Honestly, I'm attempting to navigate this now in hopes that a future child benefits, so if you share that state of mind, stay with me.

SO when you've been served, and also confused by the intuitive guidance of your elders, WTF?

It's your turn to decide what to do with it.

1. Follow your own internal wisdom (with grace, because it's either 100% or 50%).

2. Go against it and see how it all plays out. (With grace because it's either 100% or 50%).

The bottom line is:

1. Yes, there are most likely benefits to listening to your mother (wisdom bonus points).


2. You're the only person who gets to fall asleep and wake up as you, so choose accordingly.

If you're wanting to accept and respect your sovereign responsibilities, I invite you to join the upcoming series into Accessing the Akashic Records. It will help you sort out what's yours, what's someone else's. and how it all plays together on a greater field. Check out Upcoming Events to learn more xx 

The Alpha Initiation Meets Its Maker

On the fortnight of launching the first Alpha Initiation program of 2018, I'm reflecting back on the last year and why this program has always come from the core of who I am + what I believe.

When I was 15, I experienced my first loss of someone I could count on. I considered him a father figure, and I looked up to him. I felt safe when he was around. I admired who he was.

He was funny and charismatic. A marathoner. Rode Triumph motorcycles and drove a red Mustang Cobra. A recipient of a Bronze Star. A Marine. He was the first Alpha I knew.

So when he took his own life, it shook my world as well as the ones of everyone who knew and loved him.

The invincible Marine who could do anything was gone. It was on a Tuesday afternoon. It was the beginning of my first reconciliation of a hero and his demons.

It threw me into learning about grief through my own and the grief of those around me. It lead me to learn about PTSD, the (hidden, quiet) signs of depression, the layered, complexity of the human experience, the subtle nuance of brain chemistry that can completely alter one's experience of the world, and many other deep considerations.

I certainly went through an existential crisis of: What does it all mean in the end?

While this period of time was one of the most difficult of my life, it was also a period of massive personal discovery. It led me to my love for photography. I bonded more deeply with my best friend who had lost her father when she was young. I got to be alone and in community with grief. The experience changed me to my core.

So when I fast forward 13 years, it's of little surprise that I began coaching men whose relationships were suffering. The pain their pain caused the women they loved would lead them to look in the mirror. Most often their issues tied back to not having a workable model of masculinity.

Now we refer to this as toxic masculinity. We're feeling the effects not only within ourselves, but also in our relationships, our societies, our countries, and in the world.

The problem is that the topic is typically focused on its effect on men, but not also, the effects on women.

When my friend sent this to me the other day, it reminded me why we must do this personal work + to keep going (thanks, AK xx)

When my friend sent this to me the other day, it reminded me why we must do this personal work + to keep going (thanks, AK xx)

It was in realizing the mental, emotional, and physical toll unchecked, uninitiated, toxic masculinity takes on all of us that I expanded The Alpha Initiation program (initially created for men) to also give women the tools to address and heal the effects and collateral damage of the broader masculine crisis. And thus, an Alpha Initiation for everybody was born.

Then, about a year ago, I was working through the residual pain from my last relationship when I decided to set my professional work aside, and commit to being my own VIP client for 2 months. After all, to lead the work is to do the work is to lead the work. It was a daily commitment. I walked through it all (540,571 physical steps through the emotions, the stories, the memories...feeling what I hadn't allowed myself to fully feel, and letting go of what no longer served me). By the end I lost physical, mental, and emotional weight. I laid down past baggage that I no longer needed to carry. I had put myself through The Alpha Initiation program (a rendition of a modern-day hero's journey), and it changed my life.

I allowed myself to feel the depths of the pain, heartbreak, and disappointment. Eventually, like a phoenix rises from the ashes, I started to feel like myself again, only better. I stepped more fully into the life I truly wanted (of which the criteria was: to be unfuckwithably happy).

By the end of the process, I was more myself than ever, and more open to extraordinary love than ever before.

I chose to let my past pain open me up rather than shut me down. I chose to see how my pain also brought deeper awareness. I learned that if I was willing to listen, my pain would teach me how to heal.

I chose to honor myself and the men I've loved and lost by living the best life I am capable of.

And mostly, I accepted that these experiences led to my own initiation, which opened the doors to guide and hold space for others as they do the same.

I speak about this now to call in others who are looking for a lighthouse in this space. It's not for yelling, shaming, and blaming; it's for reconciliation. It's an invitation for each of us to take the time to reconcile with ourselves, and to remember how powerful, resilient, and remarkable we are, so we continuously live from that place.

There are dreams to be made, love to experience, and versions of ourselves that are nudging us to claim them and live what we're fully capable of, so here's to honoring them + to the pain that leads to our awakening xx

To continue the conversation...

To learn more about The Alpha Initiation process, register for this upcoming intro session, click the button below:

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A Letter to Women 1.9.2018

The way our daughters choose begins with the example of us and the man with whom we co-create a life. The way our sons treat the women in their lives is a reflection of they way they saw their fathers do so.

We are the first example, as is the partner we begin a family with, so choose wisely. Stand strong. It's ok to take time to decide. It's ok to walk away from that which doesn't feel right. It's a choice to surround yourself with people who know what love is.

May we find each other each and every day.

Remember, we choose our destiny. The only mistake is forgetting this power we hold, so may this be a moment of remembering.

All the women who have come before have made it so that we may experience more freedom than ever before. It is a gift we will pay forward. We're creating future generations, and a shift in tide for them begins with us.

When Tragedy Strikes, How Are You Called to Act(ion)?

In the wake of the largest mass shooting in modern US history in Las Vegas, I’ve been at a loss…

A loss for words…

A loss for understanding…

A loss, a feeling of grief and despair, for those who are grief and despair right now.

I want to help, in any way I can, and I also want to just cry.

My heart breaks.

The only thing that has given me solace over the last 48 hours is reflecting on the question: “How am I being called to act(ion)?”

To my newer friends, this may be, well, new…

To those of you who have known me for some time…you know, and have been there through grieving the unexpected loss of loved ones who were taken before their time.

The way life has played out, I’m an experiential expert at ambiguous loss. The pain has been immense, and the experience has taught me to lead my life unapologetically because I know in my core that tomorrow can never be taken for granted.

It has weighed my heart, it has made me "overly" aware of one's mortality, and it has also cut through the BS. It made me honor what truly matters when it would be easy to be caught up in the optics.

At times, the only thing that has seemed to help has been to be there for others in their grief.

So, today…for those of you who may not know where to go right now, I extend a hand and offer my heart, soul, and scar tissue, so you may have somewhere to go.

I too am an infallible human being. I choose to be there for you. I ask that you ask for what you need.

If you’re being called to do something right now…whatever it is or may be…I hope you say yes.

I will help you make that happen.

Do not wait another day to be happy. It's not worth it, I promise. Do not look back and wonder, "Why did I wait so long?"

For whatever emotions come up along the way, know that simply because you know me, or know someone who knows me, that my door is open to you.

If you need help processing deep emotions, if you need help asking for help…I am here to listen and let you know you’re not alone.

I hope to pass on these lessons I've learned that they may be of help:

  1. Feel your feelings. If you don't feel them now, they'll be internalized and compartmentalized, which means they'll intensify under pressure, and show up later in more destructive, unpredictable ways. Give yourself the space and time to be with yourself now. It's a process and will take time, but putting it off, only adds more time and pain. The only way to it is through it. Be gentle with yourself and ask for help. Allow yourself to be supported. Support each other.
  2. Let go of the rational. Let your brain know it can stop trying to make sense of this. Thank it for looking out for you, and instruct it to take a nap. This isn't going to make sense. Put that energy towards being there for those around you. Connecting with each other is the best anecdote.
  3. Put your energy to intentional use. There is irony in that when we don't know what do to is exactly the right time to figure out what to do. What's one thing that will help you feel ok? Let this pause be a time to ask yourself questions. If you knew what to do, and you knew what you wanted to do, what one thing would you commit to and follow through with? Go do that one thing + repeat.

There are two things I’m asking for:

  1. Message me if you feel you could use some support right now
  2. If you’re feeling called to do something or change in response to what you’re experiencing right now, I will do all I can to support you. Let me know how I can be of service, or reach out to someone whom you'd like to ask for support.

I want us to look back a year from now and know we stepped up and made the best out of our deepest pain.

I wasn’t sure what to do with mine until I learned what it was, how to be with it, and how to create something beyond myself because of it, so I hope to extend this gift to those in need. If that is you or someone you know, please reach out. I am here.

To heeding the promptings before they become so loud, we regret we didn’t listen sooner…

We know enough. The time to learn and act is now. Let’s do this together.

The greatest way to honor those we’ve lost is to live a life that honors the gift of fully living.

To those we’ve lost too soon, and to how we awaken because of them, and to honor them <3

We will honor you.


You Bear Witness to Your Life

We bear witness to ourselves and we bear witness to each other. That is an opportunity of a lifetime, and one we have the chance to engage with every day.

Whether we choose to or not, we will bear witness to every moment of our lives. When we are in someone's company and they are in ours, we have agreed to bear witness to each other, and that is a beautiful thing.

My life and relationships shifted in an incredible way the moment I recognized and decided that to show up is to choose to spend my time being present with my given company, and to never take for granted that someone has a thousand ways they could spend their time, and they've chosen to experience it here and now in shared company. This is a gift we give each other everyday, if we so choose to see it as such.

I fully believe that this way of experiencing my relationships has become possible because of how I've spent my time with myself. The curiosity of exploring the facets of who I am has allowed me to see, appreciate, and love the facets of others. If we can be in the presence of ourselves, we become innately better counterparts in our relationships.

So as my mission on this planet is to participate in the paradigm of experiencing extraordinary love in this world, I would say that understanding and embracing that WE bear witness to our lives will radically shift how we experience our daily lives and our relationships.

So, what does this look like? For me, it came in a moment when I decided to let go of the self-conscious part of me that would come up when I was taking a selfie somewhere and felt embarrassed by what others would think. I realized that there would have been significant moments that would go undocumented if I didn't decide to be the one to capture them. This is how I got over taking selfies and not feeling silly for doing so...because it was the moment I realized that it was a simple act of bearing witness to myself and my life.

I wondered why only the moments someone else has documented would be recorded while the moments experienced in our own company should go unrecorded. So, I believe in both. For me, the most important thing is noticing to savor a it with a photo, asking someone to take one, or taking a moment to impress a memory into your heart and mind.

But regardless of whether we choose to document such moments, we are the ones who bear witness to our lives. Our lovers, our families, our friends, our acquaintances, and strangers in the street see and share moments (some much more than others), but we're the only ones who see the whole thing. We are the ones who experience it all.

So why do we so often modify what we want and what we do because of the thought of what others may think? Of course, considering those around us is common compassion and decency, but why do we give so much weight to what so-and-so MAY think, and we often times forget, that we're the ones, and the only ones who fully decide what our life experience will be?

So, as you read this, I offer you an invitation. If you step into fully bearing witness to your life and who you are, every part of you...what do you decide to honor from this place? What would like to be acknowledged? What would like to be experienced? What would like to be forgiven? What would like to be loved? What would like to be let go of? What would like to be imagined? What would like to be shouted from the rooftops? What would like to be whispered from the heart?

What do you see and decide now that allows you to honor these promptings and allow yourself to be YOU?

When we can do this for ourselves, we are better equipped to support each other along the way. Who are the people in your life who do this for you? Do they know? Have you thanked them? Who are those for whom you've loved, supported and bear witness to their lives? Celebrate what has been shared. Be in gratitude for for being able to give and receive this gift.

Remember, it is an honor to bear witness, if we choose to see this life as an opportunity for extraordinary growth. So here's to doing so in strength, in weakness, with resilience, with love—and everything in between...

Embrace the process. Breathe, allow, and enjoy xx

With love,


When Love Is Elusive

I'm writing a bit lately as I process some intense emotional energy because I think it's important to share the process when we're in it. In retrospect, it's easier to see how everything fell into place, and we're a bit more removed, so as much as it may be easier to see, and talk about, it loses some of the grit.

The grit is where the opportunity for growth is. I want to give insight to my process to show that we have choices we can make in the way we work through difficult situations. 

The first of which is: Do I choose to learn from this, or treat this circumstance as if it is bigger than I am? Am I going to reclaim my power, or am I allowing a person or situation to take it away? 

When it comes to matters of the heart, it's easy for ego and emotions to take the lead. Our heart is what we tend to be the most protective of...not because of how much we want to love and be loved, and share that experience, but because we fear the potential consequences: betrayal, rejection, abandonment, etc. Due to this, the importance of recognizing and calling out what we're truthfully scared of begins the process of disarming the power such fear has over us. This also reinstates our personal power because we are then able to see how we felt blinded by the fear, rather than able to manage the situation at hand.

The second part requires taking inventory. Once we identify what's coming up for us that is creating dis-ease, we can begin to make our way back into balance. I intentionally chose "dis-ease" because we are learning more and more how these energy blocks and unresolved emotions are able to manifest as physical symptoms within the body. Maybe your heart aches or you feel sick to your stomach. Tap into your intuition by asking internally what is causing the symptom, or what needs to be recognized to release what's coming up.

Now that you've established what's up, let's look back at the dynamic of the situation that triggered your reaction. I find it's helpful to identify the action that upset you, or put you off, rather than making a blanket judgment about the person because of the action. We're all human. We make mistakes. If you would like to move through this more easily, identifying the specific action that set you off tends to bring down the magnitude of the situation. Furthermore, by owning what you felt when X happened, it re-directs you from creating a blame pattern. Can you get to a place where you can narrate what happened with neutrality, and share your experience from the perspective of what you felt? When blame comes into the conversation, we tend to get defensive, and it derails us from having a productive conversation, and resolving the issue through effective communication.

Another way to call love back in is to ask yourself: What do I need? I was in a conversation earlier this week, and I had this moment when I realized there was nothing more I need to say, or to hear, to feel better. I realized I just wanted a hug, and to be held, so I asked for that, and alas, I felt a hundred times better. I was grateful for the awareness in the moment to check in with what I truly needed. What do I need or can I do in this moment to feel better? We are much more likely to arrive at a loving resolution when both parties are privy to what they need, and want to meet those needs together.

By approaching times of tension with intention, we can reduce the emotional collateral damage, and return to a loving place more quickly and with greater ease. When we look at what there is to learn, and acknowledge the deeper, underlying currents, we're more likely to arrive at a place of longer lasting resolve. 

Though it's important to keep in mind that even with the best intentions, problems arise, and issues come up. Having patience with the process and reminding ourselves of the bigger picture (ie. I love this person), we are better equipped to move forward in a positive way. When love is elusive, rather than focusing on what's missing, redirect your focus to what's necessary to bring it back. 

To recap, here are the 5 steps to come back gracefully when love feels elusive:

  1. Call out the negative emotion or fear; get the ego in check
  2. Dive deeper: What's throwing me off? What's coming up for me?
  3. Distinguish between the action and the person, then OWN your experience
  4. Ask: What do I need? What does my partner need?
  5. Acknowledge your needs + get specific with ways to fulfill them
  6. Take action (lastly, but most importantly!)

I hope these insights expand and enhance intimacy within your relationships. Here's to acting with love, generosity, and intention to deepen our relationships — 

What's Running Your Show?

This will probably be the first of many articles reflecting on the teachings of Dr. Pat Allen. I've been attending her workshops and seminars over the last couple of months, and as of this yesterday, I completed my fourth live workshop with her. I'm starting to feel comfortable with navigating the tools she offers, so I now feel I can begin to write about them. While there are so many topics to discuss, I'm fascinated by the effects cortisol has on our emotional well being. If you're familiar with cortisol, you may know of it as the "stress hormone" or what's responsible for your body storing belly fat. While we may not like what it does, it certainly serves its purpose. It's released by the body when we sense a perceived threat (ie. stress), so that the survival "fight or fight" instinct is fueled up, and ready to go. What this means is...we store fat (if the body has to go without food, it needs reserves), we produce adrenaline (strength/energy to fight or flee), and we stop digesting/conducting other bodily processes that require energy. We go into energy saving mode, so we can mobilize our stress response. This is super effective when we truly do need it, but if we're in this state all the time, or too often, it can drain the body, and wear us down.

These are 5 beliefs or mentalities that Dr. Pat Allen references (original reference: Taibi Kahler) that trigger cortisol in the body:

  1. Be perfect
  2. Try harder
  3. Hurry up
  4. Please others first
  5. Be strong

Typically, these are unspoken rules with which we're raised (if we even are), but sometimes they are also explicitly communicated.

To counteract these 5 beliefs, there are these 5 "allowers":

  1. Be excellent
  2. You're enough
  3. Work easy
  4. Please self first
  5. Be open

Being perfect is impossible (though that doesn't discourage some of us :P), though one can be excellent. Trying harder means there is always more to do. Knowing you're enough allows you to be. Hurry up suggests you're taking "too long." Work easy suggests that you're fully capable of what you're doing, and expected to do. Furthermore, I'd suggest that when you're in your Zone of Genius, you are producing excellent work with ease.

Pleasing others versus pleasing the self requires at least its own paragraph. It's not that we can't do both...what's more significant is what we prioritize the MAJORITY of the time. If we're always pleasing others first, there's an inevitable loss of self. If we're always pleasing ourselves first, there's an inevitable disconnect from others. We need both; however, a healthy individual makes decisions from a place of respect for themselves.

Lastly, but certainly not least, we arrive at: Be strong and be open. I'm an innate "be strong" poster child. It has served me in a majority of ways throughout my life, but it has also caused unwanted tension and a longstanding disconnection from feeling, expressing, and processing my feelings. Without that experience, I wouldn't be guiding others through their process of learning how to navigate their emotions, so for that and many other reasons, I am grateful. Nonetheless, one of the consequences has been the need to reduce the effects of cortisol on my body.

Being open requires that we be open to possibilities. There is a magic in the unknown once we realize that it can create space in our lives for things beyond what we ever imagined for ourselves. If you're like me, letting go of the idea of control can be absolutely terrifying, but accepting that which is beyond our control can eventually become do the moments when cortisol isn't running the show. I like to often remind myself, "If I let go of this, I could create the space for something even better. Loss isn't the only outcome.

So, with that in mind...I invite you to reflect on this question, "What is running your show?"

What are you ready to let go of? What are you ready to have more of?

I'd love to hear your responses, so feel free to comment below and share where you're at.

To grace, love, and understanding --


Insecurity + Uncertainty

During today's Rituals + Retreats online mastermind session, we discussed the difference between insecurity and uncertainty, and how to navigate them both. For those of you who are interested, but were unable to attend, I wanted to take a moment to recap what we discussed.

First of all, I strongly believe that broadening your vocabulary around emotions, and intentionally shifting your awareness towards recognizing them, is crucial for tapping into your own self-discovery.

What I like about comparing insecurity and uncertainty is that they demonstrate how two emotional states can be closely related, while being completely different.

Insecurity is defined as: "uncertainty or anxiety about oneself," or "the state of being open to danger or threat."

Uncertainty is defined as: "something that is doubtful or unknown."

Even by definition, insecurity can include uncertainty, yet they are distinct in other ways. So, let's dive into them...

To feel insecure is to not feel safe, or to feel unsafe.

To feel uncertain is to not know, or to be unsure.

Recognizing that either one is coming up for you, allows you to learn about your own fear-based response.

Do I feel unsafe? -> Am I unsafe? Oftentimes, we may unconsciously feel unsafe, when the reality is that we're not actually being threatened. We can reinforce our safety in these moments, by coming to awareness in the present moment, and taking note of the ways that we are truly safe. But if you are unsafe, then you're simply recognizing that what you're feeling has a reason, and so, what do you need now in order to feel safe again? What can you do to get that need met?

The same goes for uncertainty. Do I feel uncertain? -> Am I uncertain? Sometimes, we're not actually uncertain, we simply don't like or feel like acknowledging what it is we know. So, to distinguish between: "Do I truly not know?" and "What do know that perhaps I don't want to know?" can be quite helpful.

Once we establish or knowing or unknowing, we can move forward. A certainty of life is that we will never know everything. Uncertainty is non-negotiable; but how we deal with it can greatly affect our experience thereof.

As we navigate this terrain, we shift from awareness to action by asking ourselves the following:

Knowing what I know, how would I like to proceed?

An element of forgiveness is rooted in the awareness that we made the best decision with what we knew at the time. If we could have chosen differently, we would have, so let's accept that there were reasons we did what we did. The past is the past, so all we can do now is look at our reasons, learn from them, and decide whether we'd like to follow different priorities in the future. This is part of being human, choosing to grow, and allowing ourselves to heal the past by learning from our mistakes.

Give yourself some grace. We're all navigating this life the best we can. Aren't we?

With that said, do you know what your reasons are? Do you want to miss out on something potentially great because you weren't down with not knowing? Or, do you want to embrace what you do know, and make the best decision you can? The beauty is...the choice is always there.

For me personally, insecurity and uncertainty aren't worth buying into because of what they could possibly hold me back from. This is a decision we all get to make in our own ways. And let's not discount the value of assessing the things that we are insecure or uncertain about...the reason may be significant enough to rule your decision. The point is...evaluating the reasons why we do something gives us stronger footing in navigating what follows.

Begin by asking yourself what your fear is trying to tell you, and with that information, what do you choose to do?

Owning our decisions builds confidence, and self-trust...which are wonderful allies to have when navigating our insecurities and the uncertainties of life. Which allies do you choose to partner with? How are you different when you align with the allies that you choose?

What's one thing you can do to be HER, or be HIM - the version of you when you're choosing your best teammates? Chances are you already know, and simply needed to take the moment to ask.

Here's to asking the questions, learning to more fully trust ourselves, and embracing who we are throughout the process --  how can you get to know yourself a bit more today?


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What I Learned from (Losing) My Brother

As a writer, one of the scariest places to go is deciding how close to the edge of your personal life you choose to go and share.

But I just had a profound moment that I knew I had to write about. As I was reflecting on extraordinary love and my experience of it, I couldn't help but want to digress off topic from romantic relationships, and make an exception. I would like to talk about family, and I'm dedicating this post to it.

Let's call it (non-romantic) extraordinary love. It's a league of it's own, yet so influential to how we learn to express and experience love, that as a relationship coach, it's nearly impossible to talk about someone's romantic life without exploring family it our own, our partner's, and often, both.

After all, it was my brother who suggested I teach people about love and compassion because that's one of the things he learned from me. I was surprised when he told me that, and it ranks as one of the most heartfelt compliments I've ever received. It was an influential moment that nudged me down this path, and for that, I'm grateful everyday.

Anyway, back to my story...I had just made dinner, and I sat down with a semi-conscious attempt to be present with myself. Only a few moments has passed when I said the title of this post out loud. Hearing those words made  tear up, and I've done enough work to know that it was something I needed to explore. So, I decided to write about it. I reached for my laptop, began a draft, and here I am.

Over the last six months, I've lost my relationship with my brother. Despite typical sibling rivalry, I was lucky enough to also know him as one of my best friends. Over the last year, he's decided to explore himself outside of his identity as a brother and a son. I respect his journey, though to say that it has been devastating is an understatement. 

To offer some context, he expressed that our family has been so closely-knit that the only way he could establish himself as a man, on his own, was to be completely removed. We still talk; though much less often, and much more strained. The change has been drastic enough that I wonder if we'll ever really be close again.

The thing any one who considers their sibling as one of their best friends can understand...your relationship may fade, but your bond never goes away. It hasn't been years yet, but I know that will never be completely gone. 

In light of allowing our pain and heartache to drop our guard, and to allow myself to explore (and even choose to express) my I am.

This is what I've learned about love from (losing) my brother:

  1. No matter how much it hurts, you always want the best for them. I want him to be happy, and that will always take precedence. I would never want to interfere with what makes him truly happy.
  2. Linear time does not apply. A year can feel as long as a decade...just as 10 years can pass, and you can pick up right where you left off. Time is fascinating that way, isn't it?
  3. You hope one day things will change. As much as you know things will never be the same, there's always the part of you that holds on to the possibility that one day, things will be different. From time to time, you wonder what that day would/will be like.
  4. You know things will never go back to the way they were. At the same time, you know that your relationship will forever be different for what has happened. There's no going back.
  5. You realize your limits as a human being. When you've done all you can, there comes a point at the end of the day when you have to accept that you are enough. This is a beautiful blessing in disguise. 
  6. You have to choose how your heartache defines you. The past is the past. What keeps it alive is how we choose to let it define us. Our heartache is a teacher, if we're willing to take a step back, and see things differently.
  7. Every loss is a lesson in love, acceptance and forgiveness. There are nuances to losing someone, be whether it is temporary, forever, or somewhere in between. It is in these painful experiences that no matter what, we have the opportunity to delve into what love, acceptance, and forgiveness truly is. It is a way in which we become more closely acquainted with ourselves, and the human experience.
  8. Never short yourself the opportunity to grieve. Healing is only possible through feeling the feelings, sitting with them, and allowing them to exist. It's true...we have to feel them to heal them. It can be terrifying at first, but you will reach the other side, and from there, you'll know it was worth it. 
  9. You may never stop missing them. It's ok that the void doesn't fully go away. It's a sign of the love that was once, still is, and will always be there.
  10. Part of resilience is honoring your pain by giving yourself full permission to live. The only way I've found strength to move on from trauma, heartbreak, and tragedy is by choosing to live MORE. I refuse to let my capacity to feel love, joy, and excitement be hindered by pain endured. Blessing in disguise #2: The pain has also made the depth of incredible experiences that much greater.

I hope by sharing this with you that my story may connect with someone who maybe has or is currently experiencing something similar.  

As an older sibling, your love and sense of responsibility for your younger sibling(s) becomes a part of who you are.  It shapes us in countless ways. A sibling relationship is complicated at best. There are layers upon layers. I felt responsible for him, resented him, yet loved him, and growing up, thought tone of the only important things in the world was making sure he was ok. Then I'd be so annoyed with him I could scream (and I certainly did on occasion). For so long, I put so much pressure on myself to be a good example, and when I crumbled, I was disappointed in myself, but even more, I was disappointed in what it may mean in the context of him looking up to me. I had pride in that, and having that feel jeopardized has felt like 1000 life lessons in one. 

If you're reading this, and reflecting on your relationship with your family, I'd encourage you to reach out and connect with them. Honor the moments you get to spend with them. Appreciate that you can reach out to them, and know everything is ok. If it's not, I'd suggest asking yourself if there's anything you feel compelled to mend. You'll know when the time is right. That doesn't mean your heart won't race, or you won't feel scared to reach out and have a conversation, but that begins to feel worth it when you get to trade in not knowing for knowing even a little bit more. 

Each day is a new beginning. I choose to forgive myself. Forgive others. See the beauty in who we are. Each morning, I honor myself, my life, and those in it by consciously deciding that I choose love.

What about you?

Five Things We Can Do for Ourselves That Also Make Us Better Partners

One of the cornerstone theories I coach by is: If we focus on being our best, our relationships automatically benefit.

Most relationship issues stem from one or both individuals having a personal struggle that then strains the relationship. This stress compromises communication, and can throw us into crisis mode. When we're amidst our fight-or-flight response, everything that doesn't help us either fight or run away is physically suppressed.  This limited resource state can be the opposite of what we need to constructively problem solve, and shift into action to resolve the issue at hand.

While this may vary for everyone, what I personally strive for is to participate in a relationship dynamic wherein we can trust each other to handle  our own stuff, and we also know we can count on each other to tackle life's challenges together. I think of it as a flow between making decisions collaboratively and independently. Some couples like to make all their decisions together, and others focus on sharing the important ones...what matters most is what's best for you, and your relationship.

While the art of navigating relationships involves weaving between interdependence and autonomy, much of what helps us create successful relationships is connected to the ever evolving relationship we cultivate with ourselves. 

Here are five areas where what we do for ourselves also benefits our relationships:

  1. Personal hygiene - I'm beginning here because physical affection reflects extraordinary love.  When hygiene and pheromones are just right...the way your partner smells to you is intoxicating (in a good way). No reason to jeopardize that by letting yourself slide in the self-care department. Personal hygiene is indicative of one's self-esteem, so assess whether your daily habits reflect you at your best. If being close to someone is something you want, being the self-respecting person who takes pride in taking care of him/herself is a great way to honor yourself and your relationship.
  2. Your state of mind regarding your career - Yes, there are elements of our jobs that we simply don't like, but they come with the territory. So, we either do them, or hire them out; the choice is ours. Our job satisfaction can vary greatly on the perspective we bring to the work we do. If you're in a job you do not like, it may be time for an accept/reject conversation. The accept segment involves recognizing that there are reasons why you are doing what you're doing, and there's an acceptance that lies in acknowledging your reasons. The reject segment pertains to the things you refuse to accept, and decide to change. That would include beginning to look for another job, or committing to creating supplemental areas of income, so you begin to step into the possibilities available to you. Complaining about work, and bringing that home every day is not only taxing on you and your soul, but it can also damper your relationship. Also, if we're complaining and hyper-focused on the negative, we are often negating or neglecting other positive elements in our lives. So if we need a reminder, remember there's this person you care about who has chosen to spend their days with you; what do you want your influence on your time together to be?
  3. Fun (Yay!) - Are you having enough fun? You most likely knew the answer to that before you even finished reading the question :)  If you're a YES, you're a rock star, proceed to #4. If you're a no, you have plans to make! What can you do to bring more fun into your life? In what ways can you have more FUN together?
  4. Kindness towards ourselves - We tend to be our own toughest critic, so it can take a concerted effort to give ourselves some grace. Being kind to ourselves generates good energy, which then radiates to those we're around. Can you think of how it feels different when we're around someone who's in a positive state of mind versus someone who's in a negative energetic state? Which would you rather spend more time with? The person we spend all of our time with is ourselves, so pick your roommate accordingly ;)
  5. Knowledge of our passions - You know when you do something that excites you and you feel an amazing rush? What are a few of the things you do that engage you with your passion? Not only do our passions bring a richness to our lives, but they also amp up our personal magnetism. We are naturally drawn to passionate people. There is a distinct vibrancy to them and how they live their lives. It doesn't have to be all the time, but we do need to make time for the things we're excited about. Have you had a moment when you fell a little bit more in love with someone by seeing them do what they love? That's the feeling we create as we engage in our passions and share them with the world.

Now I'd like to hear from you! What other things have you noticed that make you feel good, and also enhance your relationships? Please share your experience in the comments below.

To the art of interdependence and independence xx


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5 Ways We Unknowingly Sabotage Relationships

I've been fascinated with relationships since I was 5 years old. Seriously. I remember playing tag in the kindergarten playground, and being curious why nothing happened when I was tagged by a boy, and nothing happened. Wait, to my intrigue/disappointment, "coodies" were not real.

In kindergarten, we're guided by imaginary germs, things we've been told, and what we've made them mean. As adults, what imaginary things are we afraid of? The stories change, but the premise remains...we create the world we live in.

If I create my world, why don't I have the relationship I want?

What if you do?

Sometimes we sabotage the exactly thing we want for unknown, or unconscious reasons. Usually, they're "survival notes" our unconscious has made along the way. Our thoughts and behavior give us insight to what our notes contain. The unconscious mind responds to questions, which is one of the reasons self-inquiry offers us greater insight into who we are. I've come up with a few signs to look for that may indicate that we're unconsciously sabotaging our relationships. Are you ready? Here they are:

  1. We're not fully available. If you are playing games and ignoring the other person for fun, that's your choice; but know that you're not fully available. Let's distinguish between time availability and emotional availability because they're both important. If you're busy, and getting back to someone as you can, it's different from intentionally being unavailable. Yes, your time and energy should go towards what's most important to you, which most likely doesn't include a coffee date with someone from Bumble; however, if you truly want to find someone t build a relationship with, you're going to have to set some time aside. As for emotional availability, if you're not in a place to connect with someone, take the time for yourself to do the personal work  you need to do. In the big picture, you'll be happy you did. I'll use myself as an example. I want an incredible person to build a life and lasting relationship with...that means that I'm going to have to put myself out there, and be willing to do the work, and set time aside to meet new people, and invest in myself and my life, so I sync up with the vision I hold. 
  2. We're not present with the other person. If we're distracted by our thoughts (ie. I need to get my car washed, and pick up my dry cleaning, etc.), it will take us out of the moment. Make a list of what you need to get done, and do it when you can. If a thought comes up, ask, "Is there anything I can do about it now? Do I need to do something about it now?" If both answers are no, then set it aside and re-engage with the lovely person who decided they wanted to spend this hour with you. If you are constantly checking your phone while sitting across the table from someone, you're (perhaps unknowingly) indicating that you'd rather be somewhere else. I'm not saying to never look at your phone, but checking it incessantly is an indicator that you may benefit from putting the phone away, and being more present with the person right in front of you. Other ways to be present is to make eye contact, ask questions, and genuinely connect in the moment.
  3. We make up a story that isn't true. We decide that them leaving the toilet seat up or down is passive aggressive. Sometimes, it's easier to make a list that separates the actions ("What happened?") and the meaning that was applied ("To me, it meant..."). When we can separate the two, we can see the situation more clearly, and see what we brought to the situation. 
  4. We're scared of what we want. This is a major one. "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough" territory. The thing is our dreams should scare's because we don't know them yet, and on a primal level anything unknown feels like a death threat. Consciously, we know that our dreams won't kill us, but we're hard-wired to survive, and our survival instinct only knows that we can survive what we have already experienced. That doesn't mean that we can't experience something new...rather we just need to know that that is where our fear is coming from, and we can choose whether or not to let that steer our actions or not. 
  5. We make someone else responsible. The moment you blame your partner on a regular basis, it's time to take a step back. You are choosing to be with them after all. Keep that in mind. What is their behavior provoking in me? Of course, it's easy to say s/he "made me" do it. But that's never actually true. You DID it. They DID it. But you didn't make them do anything, and visa versa. As long as you make someone else is responsible, you remain in a place where they have power over you. Take back your power, and step into the space of, "I trust myself. What would I like to do?"

The first step to breaking unconscious patterns is to become aware of them. Congrats! You've begun the process simply by being here. If you're wanting to create a different dynamic, you'll continue to step #2: Track the pattern back to where you first learned it. How old were you? What was going on at the time? How was this thought of belief intended to serve or protect you at the time? By appreciating where it came from, and the positive intention behind it, you've now acknowledged that it's been at work behind the scenes, and you now have the choice to expand the belief. Ask yourself, "How do I now choose to expand my beliefs? Who do I become, and who am I as I embody this expanded belief system?" *I will say that this taps into a process that can take several months to unfold, however, we can dive into this process of personal introspection at any time we choose, so I offer a few suggestions here, in case that's something you'd like to do. 

Now that we've discussed 5 major ways we tend to sabotage our relationships, and how to begin the process of understanding ourselves more, I'd like to close on this note: People are who they are, not who we want them to be. The same is true for us: Do you want to be who you are, or who others want you to be?

Just as we want the freedom to be ourselves (and loved and accepted for it!), so does the person next to you. It's a part of our humanity. So, give yourself some grace, realize we're all doing the best we can, and see what happens when you show up with the intention to be present with yourself, and those whom you're with.

If you experience is anything like mine, it'll change how you see the world. 

One more thing :) I would like to mention letting go of the past as honorary #6 for this list. Accept your past for what it is, and that it got you here. Every present moment is finite, and living in the past takes away from the possibility of the present. Allow yourself to move on, be it from from a relationship, a hurtful fight, whatever may weigh you down. Thank the other person, or the experience for being in your life. Approach the lessons you've learned, and the time you've shared with reverence. Know you'll always have that. Just because you choose to walk away to move forward (or someone else does), it doesn't erase all the memories. Be grateful for them. Take them with you how you'd like, and step forward as the brilliant, refined, evolving person you are.

Go get 'em xx

Our Wives Hate Us - Part II - Resolving Relationship Conflict

I'd like to elaborate on an entry I wrote ("Our Wives Hate Us") last week, and go further by exploring how to resolve conflict when it comes up in our relationships. The context of the aforementioned article was marriages struggling with infidelity, so I will talk about what this looks like when we encounter possible deal breakers, and how it's different, yet can still be applied with daily, or smaller issues that come up.

I'll begin by saying that often the things we think are deal breaker, can look or feel completely different once we're in them. You may never tolerate someone being unfaithful -- that is your choice. I've found that in many situations in life, that which we automatically thought we'd do is not what we decide once we are actually faced with the situation. That's ok. Part of our work as human beings having the opportunity to be alive includes the need to figure shit out. Sometimes it's something we don't want to do, and sometimes it's in situations we never thought we'd find ourselves in...nonetheless, we have to do something, so we might as well respond to the best of our abilities.

These questions will help you take a step back, gain greater perspective, and guide you through how to align with your highest priorities. Here we go...

  • What is at stake? Take an inventory of where you are. If I'm six weeks into a relationship, I may look at infidelity differently than if I were married with three kids. This is because I'm willing to cut my losses at six weeks of my life, and treat such behavior as a red flag for which to do so. The more that is at stake, the more difficult this decision becomes, but it makes it simpler at the same time: there's a lot on the line, what's most important to you?
  • What do I need? If I know that I'm heartbroken, but I don't know what I need...I can get stuck in the emotional upheaval. The most wonderful thing about this question is when we pause to ask ourselves it, we will always receive an answer. You'll have a thought or idea, your subconscious will make something known to you. Use this circumstance as a reason to get to know yourself more intimately, to feel what you need feel, and to acknowledge what you need. 
  • What does my partner need? If we can have the wherewithal to ask what need is driving my partner's actions, we will get much further in understanding the underpinnings of our current dynamic. If we haven't been intimate for months, and have been feeling disconnected, there's a part of him/her who gave up on getting their physical and/or emotional needs met within the relationship. If we know and communicate our needs to one another, and desire to meet them for each other, we are much more likely to be able to resolve a potential issue within the relationship before it escalates to the extent of infidelity. On a lighter note, being in a mindset of, how can I make my partner feel good, what does him/her need, and what do I want to do for them to make that happen?, will improve the quality of your relationship ten-fold. We all too often give others what we need because we assume they want the same things...don't make this assumption, learn the needs of your partner, as well as know what your needs are too.
  • Are we sorry? Nothing can resolve an issue as quickly, or delay a resolution so long as the offering, or absence, of a genuine, heartfelt apology. If you feel bad, apologize. Apologize for what you feel badly about, and be specific (I'm sorry for...). It's ok to ask for an apology too. They don't have to give you one, but they may not have thought of it, but either way, you'll learn a bit about how this person operates. Ask yourself, "Is this conflict worth keeping alive because I'm too stubborn to apologize, or more dedicated to being right?"
  • Are we willing to change? If we're willing to change, then we decide together what that looks like, how it's going to happen, and how we are going to stay accountable. It may take professional help, so be willing to find the solutions that best support your success. If you're not willing to change, then that needs to be acknowledged too. What is then more important in this situation? What needs to be accepted as is? What am I unwilling to compromise on? Is this realistic? If your expectation sets the other person up for failure, then this will breed even deeper conflict. Lastly, ask yourself, "What am I so hung up on? What am I so unwilling to do?"
  • Are we willing to forgive? If I refuse to forgive you, our relationship is over. It's that simple. Furthermore, if I'm going to forgive, I have to mean it with my entire being. What happened is over. It is in the past. Do you want to keep inviting it into the present? The emotional residue (pain, distrust, anger, grief, resentment, etc.) will keep it alive. So understanding your emotions, and processing them is crucial. The same goes for behavior...doing the same things that created the issue in the first place  will recreate it again. Have amends been made? How does it feel to let go of the pain, and surrendering it to the past?
  • Do I still love you? If you no longer love each other, or one person no longer feels love for the other, you're treading on dangerous terrain. If I still love you, I am much more likely to want to work through difficult times. Once the love is gone, the quality of the relationship that remains will continue to decline unless major changes occur.
  • How do we rebuild trust and respect? If you've gotten this far, and have both committed to rebuilding trust and respect, then you must decide together what that looks like, and what the terms are. Deeming this as the start of greater transparency and honesty between you, and seeing this as a something you didn't allow to destroy you, will slowly begin fortifying the foundation of your relationship.
  • Do we want to rebuild? It's one thing to know what needs to be done, yet it's quite another to want to do the work. Are you committed to healing the past and moving forward? Are you both willing to do what it takes? Do you know in your heart that this is what you want more than anything? That's how badly you have to want it...anything less may not be strong enough.

If we look at these questions, and treat them as a self-discovery process, we will also become better partners along the way. If we genuinely want to know, understand, and love each other, our love, commitment, and resilience has to be stronger than the forces against them. Our fractures have to be reinforced and healed, and not broken the same way again and again. As long as we show up to create the strongest love we can share together, the causes that fractured it will teach us, and bring us closer rather than tear us apart. How will we allow the experiences we have to define us? What are the experiences we seek to co-create? Who are we when we come from a place of creating the best relationships we can?

The Makings of Extraordinary Love

I started this blog with the intention of sharing stories about real-life relationships that shared the love most of us dream about, crave, and hope exists.

As I started researching and interviewing people, I realized I was learning a lot more about things that compromise love in relationships rather than the love that's shared. So, this will be the first in a two-part entry that discusses the elements that allow extraordinary love to be possible, and then those that often lead to its detriment.

When I was sixteen, I believed that I, too, would someday fall madly in love with the love of my life. Twelve years later, there's a part of me that is still holding out for that. My notions of what love is have also evolved and expanded quite a bit.

Extraordinary love, to me, is two people strongly committed to creating the most loving relationship they possibly can. Furthermore, it's the conscious effort to make each other feel special, to meet each other’s needs, and to truly want to be better together.

The last article I wrote was about infidelity and animosity in marriages. I'd argue that both are symptoms of the breakdown of love in the relationship. That is to say they love each other, but stopped feeling loving and loved somewhere along the way. It's a glorious oversimplification, but it's most likely true.

These are some of the elements that enhance, and are characteristic of extraordinary love within a relationship:

  • The way you look at each other; you know the “look”
  • Being conscientious; do you anticipate and seek to meet each other’s needs?
  • Affection, physical connection
  • Laughter; do you enjoy each other? At the end of the day, can you let things go and enjoy silly moments together?
  • Spontaneity; do you still surprise each other?
  • Deeply knowing one another, and seeking to continuously know more
  • Giving and receiving; do you give freely? Do you receive and thank your partner for what they give to you? 
  • Support of each other’s dreams and endeavors; do you believe in them?
  • Shared dreams; do you have a vision you've co-created for your life together?
  • Respect; do you protect each other’s integrity?
  • Trust; can you trust that you'll be there for each other? Do you mean what you say? Do your actions follow suit?
  • Making agreements; do you discuss decisions together? Do you establish to hear each other out and be respectful of each other’s opinions? Have you resolved to figure things out together?
  • Compliments; do you notice and share what you like about each other?
  • Acceptance; do you criticize each other or recognize your frustration, and lovingly accept that we’re imperfect human beings?
  • Forgiveness; do you choose to apologize, forgive, and move forward? 
  • Intentions; do you trust each other's intentions? 
  • Willingness to re-evaluate; are you willing to be wrong?  Are you willing to admit it, and seek resolution?
  • Loyalty; would you fight for your partner? Do you know you have each other's back? 
  • Daily collaboration; how do you work together? Do you regularly handle situations as a team?
  • Graciousness; do you truly want to do things for each other?
  • Appreciation; do you recognize the ways in which you appreciate each other?
  • Love and like; do you love each other? Do you like each other? Do your actions towards one another reflect that you do?

As you reflect on these 22 elements, which do you feel strong in? Which would you like to improve?

Anything you'd add? Let me know by mentioning it in the comments below.

Extraordinary love begins with the desire to be better. To decide to notice more. To be more conscious of how you show up in your relationship. The fact that you're here shows that it's something you're willing to create, and the sooner the better, so go make extraordinary love.