It’s Pride Month…

I’m not sure how wide-spread Pride Month is, but I know in a lot of cities in the US, at least, there are events during the month of June to celebrate people who are LGBTQ+. As the parent of someone who fits into those letters somewhere, I’m glad to see these events exist. It isn’t about shoving one’s sexual orientation or gender in other people’s faces, and despite how offended some folks get, it isn’t about pissing people off either.

It’s about acknowledging the prejudice and discrimination those who are LGBTQ+ have faced throughout history–and continue to face today. It’s about acknowledging people as human beings, regardless of who they love or who they are. It’s about celebrating diversity, love, and respect.

In past years, I’ve gone to the Boston Pride Festival as someone who considered herself an ally. I’ve been an attendee and a volunteer. But I’ve felt like I was watching from the outside, and felt privileged to be allowed to be there.

This year, Pride means something different to me. After years of wondering why I grew up not feeling like a girl (and not particularly wanting to, if “girl” meant acting like the bullies and backstabbers I knew), and why that feeling persisted into adulthood, and after doing a lot of soul-searching and inner work, it finally made sense. I didn’t feel like a girl because my gender isn’t female. It isn’t male either. I’m agender.

Agender means not having a gender. It’s important to note that gender has nothing to do with anatomy/biology (that’s sex), or with whom someone is attracted to (that’s sexual orientation). Gender is who your brain tells you that you are, and how you identify. Although I was assigned female at birth, my brain was never comfortable with being considered female, and male didn’t fit right either.

Gender is a spectrum, not a binary. And this year during Pride Month, I’m going to celebrate having finally recognized where I fit on that spectrum.

Making Changes That Stick

It can be pretty easy to say, “I want to change my life. I want to create positive new things for myself.” Actually doing it, however, isn’t so easy.

Conscious creation is one name given to the process of making changes and attracting positive things into your life. The basic gist is that we are always creating our lives through our thoughts, emotions, actions, and energy, but many of us aren’t aware that we’re creating. Because we aren’t aware of it, crappy things happen, which makes us feel like crappy things will *always* happen, which makes more crappy things happen.

A note: My personal belief is that when some people talk about conscious creation, they phrase it in a way that comes across as seriously victim-blamey. “It’s all your fault that a traumatic thing happened to you, because you created it because you weren’t creating right.” I emphatically do NOT believe that.

While our energetic vibration does impact what comes into our lives, and our thoughts, emotions, and actions impact our energetic vibration, that does NOT mean it’s your fault when traumatic or other negative experiences come into your life. The whole point of conscious creation is *learning* how to be responsible for what you create. Things you create when you don’t know you have the power to create them aren’t your fault or necessarily your responsibility.

When we aren’t conscious of our creative power, and if we have a low energetic vibration, negatives come into our lives. And those negatives reinforce to us that negative things will happen, which makes us believe things will always be negative, which further lowers our vibration and brings more negative things.

(I’ll be talking more about energetic vibration and how to change it in a couple of weeks. For now, let’s just leave it that everyone has energy, and everyone’s energy vibrates at a different frequency. The higher the frequency, the more positive that person’s life is likely to be, and the more aware they’re likely to be of their creative power.)

Even if we’re aware that we can create things in our lives, sometimes we don’t use that creative power effectively. I can create enough money flowing into my bank account to pay my bills for the month, but if I stay stuck in, “Well, I paid them this month, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to pay them next month, money never shows up, I’m always broke,” that’s going to lower my vibration. And it’s going to create a continued lack of money, in which either I’m only able to pay my bills at the absolute last second possible, or, eventually, I’m unable to pay them at all.

Part of learning to consciously create our lives is learning to recognize the thoughts and emotions that hold us back from creating the most positive experiences and outcomes, and changing those to positive thoughts and emotions. That isn’t easy, and I don’t mean to imply otherwise. But it is possible to start taking steps.

First, when something negative happens, pay attention to what you’re thinking. Is it something like “Oh, crap, this isn’t good, but let’s see if I can fix it,” or more like “Crappy things always happen, my life is never going to go right”?

Second, make the conscious, intentional effort to change those thoughts. For example, if you’re thinking “crappy things always happen,” you might change that to “This is just one thing. Plenty of good things happen to me too.”

Third, identify the emotion you’re feeling–and remember, you *feel* emotions. You are not the emotion, you are the person *feeling* it. So instead of “I’m angry,” try looking at it as “I *feel* angry.”

Fourth, if you’re feeling a negative emotion, think about something that causes you to laugh, like a funny TV show you watched, or a memory of a time you felt especially happy. Let that thought or memory bring that positive feeling back to you.

Learning to create your own positive reality takes a lot of work and conscious effort. And it isn’t necessarily something you master. I’ve been working with this concept for well over a decade, and I still have times of “Everything crappy happens to me” or feeling angry, stressed, or scared about circumstances in my life. But I keep working, because even when I feel out of control or fear that I can’t bring the good things, I know the truth.

And the truth is that each of us is an abundantly powerful creator. We just need to learn how to use that power.

Following Through on Change

Deciding to make a change isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of insight and inner reflection to identify the change you want to make, and even more insight and inner reflection to figure out how to make it. The “how” might require research, seeking support from others, or even seeking professional help or support. Going through all of that can be hard work. Just recognizing the need for change and choosing to make the changes is courageous.

But in some ways, deciding to change, although it’s not easy in general, is the easiest part of the process. The toughest part for many people is actually following through.

New Year’s resolutions are a perfect case in point. Someone sees a need for change, for example the common “I need to lose ten pounds and eat healthier foods.” They say they’re going to do the thing. They tell other people they’re going to do the thing. They list the healthier foods they plan to eat, and maybe set an exercise goal. They might plan a reward for themself when they meet the goal, like buying that shirt they’ve been coveting. They set their intention: “I intend to be at a healthy weight and to do things to maintain it.”

But then the time comes to implement the plan. To start working on that intention. For some people, that’s when it falls apart. They have the list of healthier foods, but they still have holiday leftovers they want to finish off before they start the healthy eating thing. They have an exercise plan but it involves going to a gym, and they can’t seem to find time to do that. Even for people who do manage to start on the goal, plans might start to fall by the wayside after a week or two. They get frustrated and discouraged, and give up.

Deciding you’re going to change takes guts. But making lists and plans, and telling people what you’re going to do, isn’t enough. Setting intentions and putting the right energy out into the Universe isn’t enough. You have to take the actions too. If you want to lose weight, you have to actually eat the healthy foods and do the exercises. If you want to get a better handle on your temper, you have to actually realize you’re getting angry and walk away from the situation. And so on.

Too many people seem to think that all they have to do is set an intention and maybe say an affirmation or two, and what they want will come to pass. They might genuinely be unaware of the actions they need to take–and there are some coaches and other practitioners who will actually say that all you have to do is intend it and it will come to pass, so some people operate under the belief that that’s true. (Personally, I consider it extremely unethical and possibly harmful to tell anyone that intending it and thinking it is sufficient to actually change and grow, but that’s another post for another time.) Other people know they have to act in order to change, but they find reasons not to take those actions.

Every step of the process of change takes insight, determination, and courage. The step of following through on making the change also takes commitment. When you see a change you need to make, don’t only talk about it. Commit. Find the support you need in order to take those actions, and take them. And believe in your power to create the life you want.

Why Change?

Why change? Good question.

Life is a constant, ongoing process of change and growth. Unless you’re really, really determined, it’s pretty much impossible not to grow and change as you move through life. But some of that growth and change isn’t a conscious choice. It’s in response to things that occur in our lives, or simply the result of getting chronologically older and gaining more knowledge and experience. Change happens.

Conscious change, though, takes work, and to do that work, most people want a reason. That’s where getting tripped up and tangled in others’ opinions can happen. Changing solely for others doesn’t benefit anyone. For change to be effective and long-lasting, we need a self-focused reason to make it.

Sometimes we recognize something about ourselves that we think we might benefit from changing. We might not know how to start making those changes, but at least we know we want to make them. We’re consciously choosing to do something about a problematic trait or habit. We might need help figuring out how to change it, but it’s our decision, and if we do the work, it’s likely to become a permanent, positive change.

There are times when something about us is a problem and we don’t recognize it. Or we think it’s a problem that doesn’t require change when it actually does. In those cases, someone else might have to point out the issue to us so we become more aware. But even then, it’s still more effective to make the change because we see a reason to. Because we see a benefit to ourselves as well as others.

Early on after my kids and I moved in with my husband, when I was still working through some serious issues and still getting a handle on emotional regulation, sometimes I raised my voice when I was angry with my kids. I didn’t realize how much it upset my husband, or my kids, until my husband took me aside and told me it was really hard for him hearing me like that. My kids also told me they wished I would yell less.

I knew I was still working on effective emotional management. After nearly four decades of not being able to display any negative emotions for fear of what other people would do to me, I was finally in a place where I felt safe enough to stop suppressing the emotions. Unfortunately, that meant sometimes the emotion came out with an intensity that was out of proportion to whatever was going on. I knew this, but I didn’t always realize when the emotional display was out of proportion.

When my husband and kids had that conversation with me, I didn’t say or think, “I need to change for them.” They were the cause of me recognizing the need for change, but they couldn’t be the only reason for the change. I needed to change my behavior, and double down on learning better emotional regulation, for myself above all.

I chose to do the work and improve my emotional regulation because my behavior was hurting people I loved deeply and wanted to avoid hurting. Because the person I wanted to be was someone who took care of and protected those I loved. Because when I raised my voice and felt my temper rising to the boiling point, I saw in myself the people who had abused me, and I hated seeing that in myself. I wanted to build a life in which I could love myself. I wanted to create a space where my children might feel the love and safety I hadn’t had as a child or during my marriage to their father. I wanted to become the person I wanted to be.

When you identify a change you think you should make, take a moment to figure out why you want to make it. Are you doing what someone else has told you to do? Are you trying to change something about yourself that you’re okay with, but someone else isn’t okay with it and you’re trying to make them happy? If it’s a change someone else brought to your attention, do you have a self-focused reason to make it, or are you only doing it for them?

Ultimately, the one person on earth whose opinion of you matters, is you. You’re the one who has to live with who you are. You can’t “make” someone else happy, because you don’t control what anyone else feels or thinks. You can only create whether you are happy with yourself. So don’t just be the change you wish to see; be the primary reason you wish to see it.

Refocusing

I’ve found that where I was focusing my energy previously wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be.

This surprised me. I thought I wanted to be a coach or mentor to those who are on journeys of healing and trying to gain self-love. It’s something I studied, and something that I do informally in a few venues, and I love the feeling of knowing I’ve helped someone. More, I love seeing them gain insight and make positive changes in their lives.

Deciding I wanted to coach was a change in itself. When I originally conceived this website and business, the plan was to do energy healing and guided readings. Then I realized that when I did healings and readings, I ended up informally counseling my clients anyway, so I looked into becoming a counselor. That would have required a degree I was unwilling to invest in, so I looked at life coaching/mentoring instead. And that became something I found myself more drawn to than energy healing or readings.

So the next chapter of this business was meant to be coaching, or holistic mentoring. I created an eight-week coaching program, and realized that interested me more than ongoing, less structured mentoring. Then I created a talk to go with that program, and realized that what I really wanted to do was become a transformational speaker.

So now I’m focusing more on speaking, and that’s what I feel the most drawn to at this point. That and teaching theater to children, which doesn’t seem to connect with the other things, but that’s how passions are sometimes. Transformational speaking to large groups is on hold for now while I work with smaller venues, including schools where I discuss my message of self-acceptance and living one’s truth using one of my young adult novels as a springboard.

Many of these changes have occurred in just the past month, as I’ve looked at and refined my goals for 2018. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to do the full year in advance.

Life isn’t a static thing, and sometimes that means plans change even when you don’t expect them to. My eight-week program, which is now a six-week program, is still part of my work, and I’m building the speaking side of things. And I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Being Happy With Yourself

There isn’t anything wrong with wanting to change things about yourself. All of us go through times when we recognize the need to change, and life is an ongoing process of growth and change anyway.

But when you decide you want to make a change, first take a look at what you’re changing and try to accept it, or even be happy with it.

Being happy with who you are doesn’t automatically mean there’s nothing to change. It just means that you’ve chosen to recognize that you are a good person with good qualities, and that you’ve chosen to love and accept all parts of yourself, whether or not you want to hold onto those parts.

The first step to making a positive change is to have a positive reason for wanting to do so. If you’re trying to change something about yourself because you don’t like it and don’t want it, you might not be as successful as if you want to change it because you see something better waiting for you on the other side of the change. “Don’t-wanting” the way you are now puts your energy into staying that way, even if that isn’t what you intend, whereas wanting something different will put your energy into the new thing.

Even the aspects of yourself that you want to change are part of what makes up you as a person. You as a person deserve love and respect, and so do the things you want to change, even if they aren’t going to remain part of who you are.

On a Journey

People often talk about being on a journey in their lives. I refer to my own life as a journey fairly often.

The thing that people sometimes forget is that the journey isn’t over until your life is. There’s no such thing as reaching a final destination as long as you are still alive. You’ll get where you want to go and then realize there’s another place, and another, and so on.

Too many times online, I’ve seen coaches and others talk about how they’ve taken a journey in their lives, and they imply or outright state that they’ve completed that journey. Now, they very well may have completed *a* journey in their lives, and I don’t intend to minimize that in the least. Every bit of progress someone makes is something to be celebrated.

The problem, in my opinion, comes when people talk about their journey as though it’s finished. As though they no longer struggle with anything at all. For some of them, that might be true, but we are humans. To say one no longer has any difficulties in one’s life, and that one has created a perfect life, does a disservice to those of us who still struggle sometimes. Who are still on our journeys. Who wonder why we can’t finish our journeys the way the people online say they have. And that’s why I consider it a disservice, because it’s setting a bar so high some people might be too discouraged to even start to try to reach it.

My journey has been going on for years now, and I’m not at the end of it. I have accomplished things. I’ve made a lot of positive changes in my life and have been able to let go of some things from my past, and some of the story I tell myself about who I am and what that means. But there’s still more work to do, and that will always be the case. I will always be on a journey.

And I like it that way.

When You Want to Change

This has likely been posted on this blog before, but it seemed appropriate to share again.

We all, from time to time, reach points in our lives where something needs to change. A job, a living situation, a relationship, even something as seemingly small as how we style our hair.

A human life is an ongoing process of change, learning, and growth. We aren’t always completely aware of those things happening, but they always are. Change isn’t easy, though. It can seem overwhelming or frightening. Sometimes we hesitate to make a change, and it can be difficult to decide whether a change is really the right thing to do, or if we should just maintain the status quo. But if you feel strongly drawn to change something, it probably needs to be changed.

Deciding whether to make a change isn’t easy. Emotions and “what ifs” can interfere. If you’re facing a change and struggling to decide whether to follow through on it, talking to a friend or loved one might help. They might be able to give you a different, maybe objective, perspective on the situation, and talking might help you see how to make the change and consider the potential results, or the pros and cons.

You might also find benefit in making a written list of pros and cons, or writing or journaling about what your desired results would be if you made the change. You might also write about what you think that change would look like, how you would go about making it, and why you think it’s necessary. If you’re facing a major change, such as a job change or a move to another house or location, breaking the task into small, manageable steps can help lessen the fear or feeling of being overwhelmed.

When you’re considering making a change, or you’re faced with one due to external circumstances, many times changing can bring you a great deal of benefit. But it’s also all right to choose not to make the change. Ultimately, whether you change or maintain your current situation, it’s your choice based on what you feel is best for you.

Life is an ongoing process of growth and learning, and sometimes regression and forgetting.

Upheaval part 2

This is a short blog post to say I probably won’t have a longer blog post this week. It’s moving week, which means a lot of last-minute packing, unpacking, arranging, and settling. Also lack of time to do other things, and no internet for a day or so. I’ll be back next week with a longer post, probably about our new place. Meanwhile, thanks for checking in.

Upheaval

As I write this, I’m preparing for a move to a new apartment. At the exact moment I’m writing this, I don’t know where that apartment will be.

It’s been a summer of changes and upheaval for me and my husband. I can’t speak for him, but for me, it’s been difficult and, at times, rather scary. We determined at the beginning of summer that we would have to move, and gave our landlord two months’ notice. But finding an apartment has proven more difficult than we’d expected. Staying here isn’t an option, because the landlord found a new tenant almost immediately, so we have to go somewhere. Right at this moment, though, we don’t know where.

This is a situation that in the not-so-distant past would have had me in full-blown panic mode. And, to be honest, I have had times of fear and panic. I am human, and no matter how much work I’ve done on myself or how much I trust the Universe to help me find the right place, I still feel scared sometimes.

Part of the story I tell myself is that I need to know what’s going to happen. Where I’m going to be. Who else is involved. All of those things. Although I can be flexible to some extent, I haven’t been particularly good at going with the flow, or at taking a leap of faith and seeing where it leads. That isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sometimes you need to take those leaps.

I’m reasonably sure that I’ve missed out on quite a bit in my life because of not being willing to take chances unless I have a pretty good idea of what will happen. That includes missing out on building River Flow Healing and A Story You Tell Yourself into amazing things that reach a lot of people. Reaching out and connecting with potential clients or with other practitioners requires a huge leap of faith, and it’s one I haven’t really taken.

If my husband had talked to me before giving notice to the landlord, we wouldn’t have given notice. I would have told him that we couldn’t do that without having another apartment lined up, and we would have ended up staying here. Not that this is a bad apartment, but there have been some unhappy times here as well as happy ones, and we don’t always get along well with our landlord and her family, who lives upstairs. It really is time for us to find someplace fresh, where we can start the next part of our lives.

I’ll admit I’ve felt pretty angry with my husband for giving notice on this apartment without talking to me. I still think he was wrong for not discussing it with me first, but what it’s shown me is that sometimes you really do have to take a leap and just trust that you’ll land in the best place for you.