Recupcakecently, I posted on Facebook that I missed my daughter as her would-have-been birthday approaches. A simple statement of “I can’t believe it’s been so many years and I miss her.”

The following day, I got a note from someone who had seen my post and who was “concerned that I seemed to be consumed by my loss” and thought I “would really benefit from accepting her death and moving on.”


Initially, I thought I’d just remove this person as a friend and let it go. But it kept nagging at me. Because this ill-conceived belief that in order to “move on” and live a fulfilling life, we need to forget and never talk about our loved ones again is an opinion pushed on many of those who grieve. Not only is it misguided, it’s hurtful to those finding their way through grief.

What this person failed to notice, apparently, is that I live a rich, vibrant, fulfilling, and beautiful life. I am happy and ambitious and fiery and successful.

And, yes, I still miss my daughters. Every day.

I still look for them in all the children I see. I wonder who they might have been. Holidays have an emptiness no one could fill but them.

Sometimes I still cry for the longing to hold them. There is an ache inside, mostly just beyond my conscious awareness, that likely will never completely ease.

I light a candle on their would-have-been birthdays and eat a cupcake to remember them.

Yes, it has been what feels like far too many years. I don’t grieve as I once did and I also don’t expect this missing, this longing, this ache for them to ever fully leave. As long as I love them, I will miss them. That will be for always.

It does not, however, mean I am consumed by grief, broken by this loss, or somehow pathological in my grief because I continue to miss them.

My life is rich and full and beautiful. It is filled with the brilliance of my love for them and the shadows of their loss. Moving on does not equal forgetting.

I am living while grieving. There is nothing healthier or more beautiful than that.

That is what moving on actually looks like.

Niceness is highly overrated.

Nice would be ok of it actually meant what we want it to mean. But it doesn’t.  Nice generally means be quiet. Tone yourself down. Be small. Be people-pleasing.

Nice usually means “Don’t rock the boat.”  “Don’t make me uncomfortable.” “Don’t make me look at my actions or question my beliefs.”

In other words, “YOU be nice so I don’t have to change anything.”

Fuck that.

What being nice doesn’t mean (as many of us want to think) is being kind, being compassionate, or being loving.

It sure as hell doesn’t deepen or build relationships.

Usually we shut our true nature down and play nice when we are trying to get a need met – the need to be loved, to gain approval, or to feel worthy.

The problem is that is being nice won’t actually get those needs met.  Especially not if we are shutting off our true nature to do so.  Why?

Because if someone only loves or approves of us when we’re being nice, they don’t really love and approve of us.

And neither do you. (Because, let’s be honest, you don’t much like the “playing nice” you either!!)

Those needs for love and approval and worthiness can only be met by you – when you are actually being you.

Being true to yourself and allowing others to do the same? That’s something to approve of and to love.  That’s your sense of worthiness right there.

It’s also true kindness and compassion and love.  That is what deepens and builds relationships.

So, be kind. Be compassionate. Be loving. Be YOU.

Be outspoken. Quiet. Sassy. Sweet. Quirky. Rebellious. Traditional. Bold. Subtle. Wild. Opinionated. Blunt. Touchy-feely. Nerdy. Brilliant.

Be whoever you truly are by nature. That you? That you is awesome.

Fuck being nice.

I’ve noticed an interesting theme popping up in my life and with several of my clients lately.

We aren’t who we used to be.

And we forget that.

Over the last couple years personally, I feel like I have to adjust to a new sense of self every couple of months – with my work, with my eating, with my activity level, and with relationships in my life. It takes my mind and sense of self a while to catch up with the changes I’ve put into place. The gap in that process is a little disorienting.

I’ve noticed it happening with clients too. They aren’t the people they used to be and that’s clear in their behaviors and actions – yet their mind still sees them as who they were.

This adjusting of self-identity is a natural process. It happens at some level with any change we implement in our life. Sometimes, though, it can cause some problems.

Like when we beat ourselves up for who we used to be and the choices we made then…and forget that we aren’t that person or making those choices anymore.

Or when those people who used to fit in our lives no longer do and we have a gap between them leaving and our new “peeps” coming in…and we think there’s something wrong with us because of that gap.

Or when we fall back into old, unhelpful patterns because we aren’t willing to embrace or accept that we’ve changed.

Or any other way that we beat ourselves up, sabotage new habits, reject new relationships or improving relationships, or otherwise make life harder on ourselves than it needs to be.

Changing old patterns and habits and mindsets takes work. It means making effort and doing something differently and paying attention to how we treat others and ourselves. Most importantly, it means being willing to let go of who we thought ourselves to be and being willing to embrace a new self-identity – even when it feels unfamiliar and uncertain.

Who you used to be was perfect for that time and place. You of then made choices with the knowledge and identity and information you had then. That’s not you anymore.

Who are you now? How can you more fully embrace the you of today?

As promised, Part 2 of 13 Things 2014 Has Taught Me! (If you missed Part 1, go here.)

8. Practice Practice Practice

Life just works better when I’m consistent with my daily practices – which for me include journaling, reading books on personal growth, running or exercise of some kind, gratitude, my version of prayer, and being fierce about watching where my thoughts are going.

When I’m consistent and do them everyday (whether I feel like doing them or not!), my life just plain flows better. I feel better. I get more done. I make more money. I am happier and healthier.

When I slip and get off track of my practices? Well, it doesn’t take long for me to slip back into anxiety, self-doubt, laziness, and being more prone to getting sick. And that’s not helpful.

Practice, practice, practice, baby.

9. Better is better than Perfect

It’s more useful anyway. I’ve come a long way with my perfectionist tendencies (thank goodness for Brene Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection” book!!). A long, long way.

Still, I can get tripped up and forget to give myself credit for making improvements even if things aren’t exactly how I want them. The last couple years I’ve been working hard on having a better relationship with food and my body and physical activity. I’m not where I want to be, nor where I expected to be at this time – but I am way further along than I used to be.

Taking time to remember and celebrate the growth I have had is much more helpful in keeping me motivated than getting upset that I’m not in that perfect place yet. Being ok with better makes it easier to continue making changes and not give up.

10. Answers are overrated

Now, I like answers. I like having things planned out and the path before me easy to see and straightforward (metaphorically speaking). Uncertainty isn’t my favorite thing in the world.

And, sometimes, it’s ok to not have all the answers and to stand in some uncertainty for a while.

There were a number of times throughout this year in which I had roughly 10 bucks to my name and no idea when or if more was going to come in. There have been a lot of nights when 3 AM found me perched on the side of my bed breathing my way through an anxiety attack over how I was going to pay the bills and keep my commitments and feed myself and the cat.

I spent a lot of those nights (and days) frantically trying to come up with a plan. Mostly, that wasn’t helpful.

However, the money or resources have always come – and almost always in completely unexpected and surprising ways. And they usually came a lot easier and faster when I could manage to let go of my need to figure out the answer and relax into trusting that the way would share itself with me eventually.

11. Rest more than I think I deserve

Ah, rest. My biggest, and most annoying, teacher this year.

I admit I’ve got some stuff around the idea of “lazy.” I can’t stand when people call me that, I hate feeling lazy, and I don’t want anyone to see me as lazy.

As a result, I tend to push myself to work harder, do more, and go go go more than my body really wants. I’ve gotten a lot better about listening to my body’s need for rest…and still it usually has to yell at me to get my attention.

Well, this fall, with the support of my coach (or I might have gone a bit crazy), I committed to listening to my body’s whispers for rest instead of making it yell.

I rested a LOT as a result. And I had to work through some major mental yuk around laziness, “shoulding,” and feeling like I didn’t deserve to rest so much. Not to mention the fears around my business going kaput or the fear of losing my entire social circle.

Shockingly (to my fearful brain at least), my business is still trucking along and my friends have not abandoned me!

And, generally speaking, I have a ton more energy and motivation for all that things I do have and want to do 🙂

12. Life is a paradox

Life, or mine at least, appears to be full of seeming contradictions that exist equally at the same time.

The structure of daily practices brings me the sense of freedom that I deeply crave.

Breaking the rules of how what I “should” do and not do brings more stability, money, and safety to my life.

Doing less = accomplishing more.

Setting boundaries = deeper connections.

Less perfection = better work.

It often doesn’t make sense. And that’s ok. Logic is overrated 🙂

13. Understanding not necessary

Here’s a big one. I don’t need anyone else to understand (or agree with) what or why I do/feel/am the way I do/feel/am.

Many people don’t understand my deep need for regularly scheduled hermit days – and why I’ll turn down social invitations because I have one scheduled.

Many don’t understand the depth of grief and longing I still feel for my daughters or my fiancé though they have been gone for many years.

My parents don’t understand why I couldn’t do the logical thing and get a part-time job to ease the financial stress while my business grows.

Many many people don’t understand my eating preferences – particularly why I don’t like what I don’t like.

Other people’s understanding of me and my life doesn’t really matter. It’s not their life, it’s mine. This is my life to live and how I live it is completely and utterly my choice – and mine alone.

We are each on our own journey through life. I don’t have to understand yours or you mine in order for us to love and support each other. Because the bottom line is that we are all on a journey, a journey no one can live but us.

Let’s just enjoy the adventure!

1. Feel the feelings, but keep on living

Newsflash (or, rather, something I’ve spent YEARS learning), I can feel my feelings and not let them rule my life.

I can feel completely unmotivated and still get shit done. I can feel sad and still do good work with my clients. I can feel anxious and still sit down to do the writing I promised myself I’d do. I can feel angry and still be kind.

My small, scared self wants to let my feelings run my life. My BIGNESS, my big-girl-panties-on self knows that I decide how my life goes, not my feelings.

2. Give the “shoulds” the boot

I spent nearly a year making myself attend business networking meetings because that’s what I had been told over and over was what I “had to “ and “should do” to increase my counseling practice.

I hated networking meetings. Don’t get me wrong, I did meet a number of amazing people and I am grateful for that. The meetings themselves, however, blegh. Totally and completely NOT my thing.

And, big surprise, I got absolutely no benefit to my business despite all the meetings I attended and business cards I handed out.

3. Screw the rules and just be me

So, no networking meetings for me. And once I gave myself permission to give them up and just strengthen connections with those I already adored?

HUGE business boom! I have no explanation as to exactly how and why, but suddenly clients and referrals were coming out of nowhere and I doubled my business in 2 months.

What feels good and right to me doesn’t always make logical sense. It just works….especially when I make space for new awesomeness by booting my “shoulds” out the door!

4. Peeps are priceless

If it hadn’t been for the love, support, encouragement, and gentle ass-kicking of my truly stellar friends and family this year, I’m pretty sure I’d have given up on myself a hundred times. I’m almost positive I’d be a lot less sane.

I’ve finally gotten it through my stubborn head that trying to “go at it alone” is just plain stupid. That doesn’t benefit me, my clients, or anyone else.

Mostly, it just makes me cranky!

I could lose every single piece of material goods that I own, but as long as I have my peeps behind me? I’m the richest woman around.

5. Slow doesn’t mean failure.

Basically everything takes longer than I think it’s going to. Getting my business where I want it, writing my book, strengthening my body, changing habits and default patterns.

I think, eh, 3 months. Surely, that’s all I need. Ha! How about 6 instead? Or 9? Or longer?

Patience is not my strongest trait. But I’ve come to appreciate delayed gratification – and the realization that the process is always perfect, even if slower than I’d like.

It always works out eventually. And if not, something else always appears to take its place – something even better.

6. Holy shit, when did that happen?!

On the other hand, life can take an unexpected turn and have success smashing through your door all sudden like out of nowhere.

I’m still not sure exactly what switch I flipped inside that had a sudden stream of referrals and new clients flooding in this August but it sure was fun! I couldn’t replicate it if I tried because I don’t know how I did it!

I’m just grateful when life shows up – whether it means I have to trust the process that feels slower than I’d like or I get to enjoy a fast and speedy ride. Or perhaps the wild ride is just a result of trusting the process.

7. Fear is a molehill, not a mountain

Mostly, fear is a mildly annoying habit. It doesn’t really do anything…well, unless I have come across a bear in the woods or am about to venture down a dark city alley at night. Then fear is rather helpful.

But mostly fear is just a bunch of yammering in my head of doubts and insecurities and stories that have no real basis in reality. Fear is NOT a very good indicator of what I can actually do or accomplish.

Unless you’re sitting 4 inches from the screen, fear is just white noise from a faulty old TV set.

Get up, turn around, and get on with things.

To be continued on 1/5/15…. 🙂

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