Brain Fog: It Might Not Begin In Your Brain

“Brain fog.” I have it bad.

Fog is the right word, too…a feeling that clarity, memory, and focus are just out of reach, beyond a misty veil in my brain. I know the good stuff is there because I can glimpse it — but not very well or for very long.

I find this to be one of the most frustrating symptoms of this time in my life. Investigating why brain fog is so prevalent in today’s society (and particularly for women at midlife) has led me to some interesting theories about the second brain — our gut.

The more I read and research, the more I’m coming to believe that the health of our bodies AND our minds begins with the complex biome of our bellies.

Turns out, what we put into our bodies might be one of the most important things we can do for healthy bodies and our minds.

There are many foods that trigger brain fog and chances are, you already know what those are. It can differ for everyone, but I know that gluten and dairy are big “foggers” for me. Stress and sugar are also nasty culprits.

All added together, you’ll find me staring off into space, struggling to find the right words, forgetting what someone just said to me, or wondering WHY DID I WALK INTO THIS FRIGGIN’ ROOM and WHY IS MY PHONE IN THE BUTTER COMPARTMENT OF THE FRIDGE??!

Exercise, good sleep, and stress reduction are vital to great brain function, but what if I told you that our health is actually 80% what we put into our body and 20% physical movement? Turns the 80/20 health thinking on its head, right?

I had to ask myself: Am I willing to give up foods that I love in order to sweep away the fog? What’s it worth to me to be able to think clearly, focus for longer periods of time, and be more creative and innovative?

What’s it worth to you?

When I did my 90-Day reset, I eliminated my food culprits and noticed a HUGE difference in my thinking and productivity! I’m now wishing I’d made those changes permanent. In fact, I’m coming to believe that my quality of life and the quality of the work that’s so important to me depend on me doing so.

Are You Addicted To Solitude?


Hello, my name is Tracy and I’m addicted to solitude.

If you suspect you may be a solitude-aholic or love someone who is, please read on.

Symptoms include:

· Extreme irritability when you don’t get enough time alone.

· Being irrationally irritated when someone’s in your personal space when they could clearly be in any space on the planet somewhere away from your space. There’s lots of space to go around, yo. Go there.

· Crying jags accompanied by fantasies of checking into a hotel room by yourself for a week where you can write and think and sing and fart and dream in peace.

· The need for a fix of solitude so intense that you’ll hook up a 32’ trailer, which you’ve never pulled before, and drive three hours to a KOA in Napa, in the rain, to seek it out. (Or maybe this one’s just me…)

· Immense feelings of relief when you do get a fix.

· Followed by guilt.

· Worries that you’re abnormal for courting, longing for, and loving what others skeptically side-eye as weird, lonely isolation.

Remedies include:

Solitude. Duh.

If you suspect that you or someone close to you suffers from a solitude addiction:

  1. Go away.

2. Do not, under any circumstances, take it personally.

3. Realize that alone time is the go-juice that some people need the way others need a venti macchiato with an extra shot of whatever it is that makes their blood vibrate.

4. It’s not weakness or eccentricity. It takes strength to bear the weight of presence of others when all you want is a little time to be dynamically present with your own soul.


It’s striking, and arguably presumptuous, that Webster’s second definition for solitude is, “a lonely place (such as a desert).”

Such narrow definition for the vastness of space — space to commune with yourself and ALL that you contain!

I find solitude to be neither lonely nor barren. The soil of my solitude is fertile with creativity, which best germinates in the still air of silence.

In the moments that I get the solitude I crave, loneliness is impossible. The company I keep is interesting and brimming with soulful visions, thoughts, and plans that more often come to fruition when allowed to blossom in isolation.

If this is you as well, rest easy and know that you’re a brave explorer. You go where some dare never to go. Plant that solitude flag on high ground and enjoy every single solitary minute of it.

The River Or The Dam? Pick One For Ultimate Happiness

Remember that scene in The Fugitive when Harrison Ford’s character, Dr. Richard Kimble, leaps into the fuming, foaming, rushing water of the dam rather than be taken alive?

Well, I’m not comparing myself to Harrison Ford here, if that’s where you thought I was going with this.

Nope, I’m comparing myself to the dude who had the tremendous power to stop the raging torrent of water over the dam so they could search for the body.

The turn of a key, the push of a button, and all goes from deluge to drip, drip.

That’s my superpower, too. Only it’s not with water.

I’m so very good at shutting feelings down.

If I had a dollar for every time a therapist promised I’d cleanse myself of some of my pain by allowing myself to actually FEEL IT, well…I’d be able to afford more therapy.

One strategy I employ is to intellectualize what I’m feeling. I jump out of my heart and go straight to my head, pseudo-psychologically analyzing every drop of blood out of my feelings until they’re a weak tea I can finally swallow.

Though my most common method for disabling the pain lever is: I use.

I use food, shopping, social media, sex, alcohol, and busyness.

There are costs to my pain-avoidance vices but they’ve been costs I was always willing to bear so as not to bear the discomfort of BIG SCARY FEELINGS.

When you’re younger, there’s more padding in your metaphorical “account” to get away with using those tactics to skirt the pain-debt-collector.

But what you don’t know or want to believe as a whippersnapper is that the bill always comes due. The pain will come to collect. It will find you. And what you got away with before suddenly tips the scales in midlife in such a way that causes you more pain.

At the outset, this sounds bad but it’s not. It’s the recognition that in order to be truly happy, I have to quit sweeping my feelings under the rug. People are starting to wonder what that big mound is anyway. What am I hiding? Do I have dead bodies under there? It’s getting weird.

We’re gonna need a bigger rug.

Or…

Or I could stop chickening out and honor that I’m just a human with my own unique tapestry of hurts and history and own all of it. I could appreciate the story of me, FEEL every drop, (because despite my long-standing belief: my feelings won’t actually kill me) and finally move past my past both wiser and freer.

I won’t always do this right. I’ll scurry to patch holes in the dam sometimes. But from now on, I’ll do my best to let the water flow.

Who’s At The Conference Table In Your Head?

I once complained to a therapist that I often felt there were competing voices in my head, each with their own agenda. I would say I wanted one thing, and an equally strong voice would assert that what it wanted was the exact opposite. Was I crazy? Did everyone mentally shadowbox with different parts of themselves?

My therapist told me, “We can think of our psyches as having a few voices, much like a boardroom in a company. All the disparate parts of us have a say, an agenda, and have something at stake. Each want their input and desires to be heard, to be important to the whole.”

Hmm…the conference table in my head. It was an image I never forgot, probably because it felt so true.

Sitting around the big conference table in my head were a motley cast of characters. I’ll introduce you to some of the key power players:

 My Inner Child

(Usually around the age of trauma or woundedness.) In my case, she’s very young and suffers from fear of abandonment, pain from neglect, and a huge certainty that she’s not worthy of love. She doesn’t speak much but presses out with her feelings like a superpower and has infused many of our choices with her massive fears.

 My Inner Man

To say I’m in touch with my masculine side is probably an understatement. I’m an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging – Myers-Briggs) to a fault and have a very unemotional, distancing, definite, pragmatic side that:

  1. loves to ‘splain things
  2. loves for other people to back the hell off cause I’ll take care of it my dang self.
  3. Loves to be in charge

 My Inner Martha

She’s the voice that runs me ragged trying to prove myself through perfectionism. (Sorry to the real Martha if this is offensive but if I ever want to know how to loom my own monogramed entry mat with fuzz I harvested from my own alpaca, you’re my go-to.) A harsh taskmaster, she assigns certain chores on certain days and doesn’t like excuses or throw blankets that aren’t folded. She has a certain image to uphold and it’s a castle built on the back of the Inner-Child’s sense of unworthiness.

My Inner Teenager/Young Adult

This bodacious and resilient chick was running the show and had been since an early age. In fact, she stepped up and stepped in far earlier than she should ever have needed to. I’m forever grateful to her for that. She’s probably why I’m a young adult author.

Trainer Tracy and Lazy Susan

These two duke it out on the daily.

 My Higher Self

The true grownup of the bunch, the wise older woman who whispered and urged, and helped make some of our better decisions on the rare occasion that she got a word in edgewise. In my journals, I’d taken to calling this woman my Higher Self or “HS” for short. She waited placidly in the wings; poised to step into her rightful place but the young star of the show wouldn’t let her.

HS was growing impatient. I could feel it like a warning.

It was becoming increasingly clear that it was time to name a new CEO of Tracy, Inc. Maybe even initiate a hostile takeover.

The truth was that living in a perpetual juvenile state was wearing on me, killing my spark, derailing my goals, and literally making me sick. I’d finally come to a point where I was willing to rethink EVERYTHING.

To allow the woman I wanted to become to emerge, there had to be a true retirement of the woman I’d been—a changing of the guard. Overthrowing a government is a violent enterprise and I could feel the resistance come up every single time I contemplated change. Someone with the emotional maturity of a twenty-year-old, sometimes sixteen, directed much of my life. No slight to twenty-year-olds, but that is not the age that should govern your midlife and beyond.

To give my inner young adult credit, she’s a tenacious go-getter. She is the energy of a stubborn young woman who won’t take anyone’s shit and who hasn’t been ready to let anyone tell her to sit down, take a back seat, or shut up and she was certainly not going to let anyone else take over her hard-fought life.

Frankly, it’s because she’s never trusted anyone but herself.

She had lots of reasons not to.

There are positives and negatives to the strong, stubborn energy of youth. The negative aspects are: lack of self-control, instant gratification, recklessness with my heart and the hearts of others, a truthful tongue to a fault, and the belief that she knows what she’s doing and doesn’t need to change a thing.

On the positive side, that vibrant, pulsing energy has pushed me to be bold and go after my dreams. It’s made me jump out of airplanes and get my pilot’s license. It’s been the burning coal in my gut to fight for myself and for those I care about, and the causes I’m passionate about. It’s given me the courage to dare and live according to my own plan, no matter how crazy that plan seemed to other people.

God, she is fierce.

In the most real sense, that girl has saved my life—a few times.

But I was beginning to see that different crises call for different saviors.

Recently, I was in crisis physically, mentally, spiritually, and professionally. And while I had no intention of abandoning my former selves (that’s probably their worst fear), I knew I needed to be led down this new path by an experienced, calm, wiser older woman. The woman who deserved to have her turn had been knocking on the door of our life while my adolescent pushed with all her might against her. The protracted battle of wills was fracturing me.

Chances are, the wise woman or man in you has given grand presentations to The Board on the possible life that’s waiting for you if you’d just make these few tweaks and changes. Are they being heard?

Books I’d read over the years alluded to a Higher Self. For many years, especially when I was younger, I understood it as an existential idea, maybe an all-knowing observer hovering above my life that could only be accessed through meditation or drugs or inherent holiness, which I was sure I did not possess.

I see that I was always holy enough to receive her. She was the angel on my shoulder when my devil wanted to play, she was there in the advice I somehow gave friends that was more full of grace and wisdom than I thought I possessed, and she was ever-present as my intuition. She was always there, not that I always listened. But she never abandoned or ignored me in return.

Now she was asking for me to allow her into being, to walk our walk, talk our talk, and love and mother and create, and strive as her—the highest version of myself. She’s asking for advancement.

I think It’s high time she was promoted.

 

 

 

Are You A Someday-Stockpiler?

I recently watched Doris, the Sally Field movie where she plays a quirky, colorful older woman who’s “stuck” in a few areas of her life and latches her Velcro affections onto a much younger man.

The flick took a darker turn than the previews had hinted at. It was strange to go from love to curious like to dislike to tolerant understanding of a main character. The arc felt backward and somewhat sad.

What I gleaned as the takeaway of Doris: We can avoid the truly meaningful aspects of living by getting too attached to and buried under our “stuff.”

Whether physical stuff or psychological stuff, it still piles up and boxes us in if we don’t deal with it.

I’m excessively tidy. I’ll not make light of those who struggle with OCD by throwing out the “I’m SO OCD about cleaning” (though I suspect that if there’s a spectrum, I’m on it.) I drive myself crazy sometimes with my inability to relax if I see dust-tufts under the chair across the room.

I’m the person who gets comments like, “You make me feel bad about my house.” “You make me feel like a slacker.” “Why do you have to make it so perfect in here all the time?”

Or…jokingly…maybe…

“If this is how clean your house always is, I’m going to have to rethink our friendship.”

People have told me that my home is so warm, inviting, and pleasant to be in. (Even teen boys who are walking combos of sweat, puppy, dirty socks and obliviousness!) I do glow at the compliment and I pride myself on engaging every sense and giving off a certain “vibe” in my house but that’s not really why it’s so clean.

It’s this way because I literally can’t let it be dirty.

It’s this way because I’ve learned to manage my anxiety by managing my surroundings. It feels like my house is the only thing in this unpredictable, messy life that I can control.

Doris was a hoarder. Seems her mother indoctrinated her into this lifestyle and it stuck. What Doris was holding on to prohibited her from letting go in ways she needed to in order to move forward.

Have you ever known a hoarder? I honestly haven’t. That’s a psychological pile of used yogurt containers that I don’t know enough about to speculate on.

I think I know stockpilers.

I call it “Someday stockpiling” It’s the compulsion to acquire because something’s on sale or you have a killer coupon or it might be useful someday.

You know…someday…when you get around to it. If it’s not buried under two dozen pillow forms, a case of white cannellini beans, and a box of duct tape in every-color-of-the-rainbow plus camo.

I suspect stockpiling is the baby sister of hoarding. Hoarding-lite, if you will.

When you spend more time “hunting and gathering” supplies for a hobby or activity than actually doing the activity, then Someday Stockpiling has stolen from your joy.

When your sewing room starts looking like the Room of Requirement, then you’ll likely feel overwhelmed rather than inspired every time you step in there.

Someday can be a dirty word if we use it to delay or entomb our happiness.

I don’t pretend to know the answer to this but I do know that I’d rather collect memories and experiences. I do know that whenever I let go of excess in my spaces, I feel better, clearer, and freer.

Life energy flows better when we’re focused on what we’re giving out rather than what we’re taking in.

There’s something you’re supposed to be doing with all that time, money, and freaking glittery talent that will make the world a lovelier place.

I promise you, you have enough already. So, get to it.

In Which I Have The Audacity To Edit Thomas Merton

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Thomas Merton

And then acting on that. <– There. See? Better. But still not quite right.

Upon further contemplation, I want to rewrite this statement altogether. Sometimes, you do have to rearrange the circumstances of your life in order to find peace.

Working backward, it seems to me that:

If you realize who you are at the deepest level, then change your circumstances to reflect that truth, you will find peace. – Tracy Clark

Go ahead, quote me on that.

I’m not just navel-gazing here. I lived this process a few months back and changed and rearranged things from every segment of my life. I called it my Total Life Course and it radically changed my life. Now I’m working hard to build a community for others to do the same.

For example, things that were at the bottom of my “Soul/spirit” list had to be moved and prioritized at the top. Meditation, for example.

In my “Emotional” area, I had to commit to not numbing out uncomfortable feelings. Instead of diffusing the fire with my compassionate attention, I’d douse it with food, shopping, sex, or alcohol. Of course those things didn’t make my difficult feelings go away, they only fueled the blaze. I had to rearrange my thinking and get brave enough to walk into the fire. I had therapists tell me about this superhero move, but I didn’t believe in it…until it worked.

Of course, the changes in what I put into my body affected my “Health” sector as well. It’s all connected.

Rearranging my life by…

  1. Listening to who I really was, and
  2. Acting on that inner truth

…had a ripple effect that flowed throughout my entire life.

I call Total Life Course a “whole life makeover” because that’s what it’s been for me. I believe that if you don’t realize the truth of who you are, then take the steps to BE that person, you will be stuck in a pattern of conflict within yourself. Peace will come when you stop the infighting and surrender to the wisdom that’s already inside of you. No one has your back like your Highest Self.

You might have to do some metaphorical furniture moving, but your space will be so much cleaner, clearer, and peaceful.

Join the super-positive Team TLC on Facebook!

 

I’m Not Telling You Not to Drink Alcohol

I’m not telling you not to drink.

Now that that’s out of the way, relax. Maybe with a glass of wine, if that’s your bag. But can we have an honest talk about alcohol for a sec?

I started drinking at thirteen when I got dangerously drunk at a party and subsequently got violently ill. You’d think that banana and beer flavored vomit would’ve purged the desire to drink right out of me, but no.

I snuck wine coolers into school dances in 9th grade. I had a fake ID at sixteen and regularly went to clubs, bars, and purchased alcohol at stores. When out partying with friends, I soon learned that (unaware of my true introvert nature) I was more “fun” and less inhibited when I drank. In the workforce, drinking at office parties was expected. Socially, there wasn’t a birthday, holiday, or BBQ where I didn’t have a drink in hand.

I remember the first time I went wine tasting in Paso Robles, CA. I was 22. My boyfriend was ten years my senior and also my boss (but that’s another post.) Wine tasting was like leveling up, an escalator from basement drinking to elegant candlelit rooftop drinking. It was classy. It made me—the girl from the trailer park—classy.

Wine tasting (or wine-swallowing, as you’d never see me spitting) was an all-day smorgasbord of pseudo-elegant imbibing. It was “refined” and the mark of the “good life” to know an excellent bottle when I tasted it and to always have good wine on hand to share with others.

I’ve taken courses on wine. I still have a bucket-list item to become a sommelier and a Pinterest board devoted to images of wine like an altar. I play games when tasting to see how accurately I can detect the subtle notes and flavors. I’m uncannily good at it. That’s probably because my sense of smell is so strong that I could have a side job in Search & Rescue. Is that berries or stone fruits? Fresh or baked? Is that vanilla I detect? Knowledge of wine is cool and sophisticated. Oh so hoity-toity and fun.

My enjoyment of wine grew to an oenophile level, relishing the varieties and complexities of it.

Of course, wine is not so complex when you’re on your fourth glass.

So, I think I’ve sufficiently laid the groundwork to convince you that I’ve had a long and passionate and loyal affair with wine. Eventually, though, my relationship with it became love/hate. I loved every drop. I hated that I had no true control over it.

Aside from my pregnancies, I could count on one hand the number of times I abstained for more than three weeks at a time. I had so much resistance to any thought of giving it up, even for a while.

Given these conflicted feelings, why did I keep drinking?

I continued because the allure was stronger than the repercussions. It’s only by some divine vein of inner-strength, stubbornness, or some genetic ability to be a bottomless sponge, that I never became the flask-toting, curb-sleeping, toe-up all day drinker that I should have become.

I lived as the kind of alcohol abuser who drank at night (Night pretty much started not a second past 5pm) to “take the edge off” or unwind, celebrate, have fun, be happy, be sad, be sexy, or be numb.

Numb. Comfortably numb.

Alcohol blotted out my uncomfortable feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, boredom, and awkwardness while clinging to a notion of reward. Pain grows in the marvelous fertilizer that is self-doubt and alcohol relieved my pain. Temporarily.

With time, I began to secretly wonder if my drinking was out of hand? (Note: if you’re wondering, it probably is.) I bought self-help books on ‘how to know if you’re an alcoholic’, ‘how to have a healthier relationship with alcohol’, and memoirs from people who’d slain the dragon and proclaimed the joys and the freedom of an alcohol-free life. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a bit of hope in their promises.

I’m not a girl who likes chains, even ones of her own making.

I secretly read and re-read books on how to abstain. I anonymously signed up on support sites. Why ‘secretly’? Because I didn’t want to announce my worries to friends or family, most of whom I presumed would be an unsupportive band of drinkers who would judge or downplay my concerns because maybe they didn’t want to face their own.

I didn’t want to be the friend who wasn’t “fun.” I didn’t want people to gossip about how I quit because I had a “problem.” I didn’t want judgey side-eyes if I did drink. I didn’t want people to turn into the wine-police. I didn’t want to deal with the scary change.

I didn’t want life to be less fun. But how much fun was I having, really?

More truthfully, I really didn’t want to be held accountable to changing if I let anyone know that I suspected I was struggling to control it.

So why did I recently force myself to stop drinking for 90 days?

For one thing, to prove I could. I was sick of breaking promises to myself. I was sick of the struggle. I was on a mission to be, as my wise friend, Caren, says, “…bigger than the voices in my head.”

I’d known for a while that I was in a tug-o-war with a powerful drug. It was time to drop the rope.

Ultimately, I think the worst pain is the separation from our highest selves. Isolation and disconnection are painful but they’re most painful when the separation is from our most authentic, most conscious, best self.

It’s important to listen to that inner voice that’s nudging you to do something, especially if it’s specific. For me, that was giving up alcohol for a while—if only to prove that I could.

The nightly crutch of wine had become a physical, monetary, and emotional hammer in my well-being. It brought down my clarity and quality of life. It derailed me from my best expression of myself.

It dulled my freakin’ shine.

During my recent Total Life Course when I went alcohol-free for 90 days, I realized that I also used wine to give myself the feelings of buoyancy, cheerfulness, and fun that I—someone who struggles with anxiety and depression—naturally lack.

Please know, I’m not advocating an alcohol-free lifestyle for everyone. This was something I had to address on my personal reset in order to course correct my life. You may not have the issues I did. But I’m sure that many of you can relate.

Want a list of the benefits I noticed over those three months? Better sleep. Waking more rested and ready to tackle a new day. I exercised more consistently (because I was better rested) and had more energy throughout the day. I was more present in my interactions with the people I love, especially in the evenings. I didn’t mindlessly snack late at night. I lost weight. My skin looked better. Eyes clearer. I was more motivated in all areas of my life.

My Total Life Course experiment had many facets and all the changes together probably account for some of the above benefits. I believe it all works in concert. That’s the power of whole-life change and why I’m committed to starting a Radical Reset movement!

After the 90 days was done, it felt like I’d given my body a real break from the toxins. Think about it; if I started drinking at 13, that’s 34 years of relentless toxicity. If you look at it like that, it would probably take much longer to truly repair my body and mind. But 90 days was a start…

My experiment convinced me that a clean body moves you through life much more efficiently, energetically, and joyously. That’s a fact. Maybe it was a fact I didn’t want to admit, but it’s a damn fact.

You want to know: Did I allow alcohol back into my life after my break? Yes. But I’d be lying if I said that my relationship to it isn’t a slippery slope. As of the writing of this, I can tell you that it’s escalated pretty quickly. I may just be one of those people who will have to someday admit that I’m not built to be a moderate drinker. I will grieve about this. But I’ll probably feel damn good after I get over it.

So hey, I’m not telling you not to drink. Who am I to do to that?

I’m asking you to look at why you do. I’m asking you if you’re telling you not to drink? Are you ignoring the urgings of your Highest Self? Listen. Then, ask yourself if your current level of consumption dulls your shine.

It’s your job to freakin’ shine.

 

 

Nasty Habitses!

Are you stuck in a cave of your own making, screaming, “My preciouuuus!” as you cling to habits that erode your happiness?

I’ve loved some of my habits. They wouldn’t be so ingrained if I didn’t. There’s a payoff to every behavior, even the unhealthy ones.

Would we indulge in them otherwise?

What I didn’t love before I began my Total Life Course, was the way those habits shaped my everyday life and how they made me feel. I didn’t love how my energy was sapped from the inside out. I didn’t love how I looked. My mental focus was a winged thing, flying from one distraction to the next. It was affecting my work and my feeling of mastery over the details of my life.

When we do things for the sake of enjoyment, there shouldn’t be a harsh blowback in our overall quality of life. Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the phrase, “Self-indulgence does not equal self-care.” That’s so true it stings. At the very least, the scale of our consistent habits should tilt on the side of actual self-benefit.

The enjoyment of my self-defeating habits was lessened over time when I saw, felt, and knew deep in my bones that those habits didn’t support me in being, looking, and feeling my best. I didn’t love what I was projecting to the world. I wasn’t being my best self and therefore, was giving a lesser version of my life to the world. The habits could be oh-so-fun but the cumulative cost was becoming too great.

I knew this.

Every single time I indulged in that which felt good over that which was good for me. I knew it.

I don’t keep secrets from myself.

My best friend, Lucy, says that she never worries about my decisions or harebrained schemes because she knows that I’m so overly self-analytical that everything I do or will do or have done has been examined with the intense focus of a researcher on the verge of discovering a life-altering drug.

That is to say that I’m onto myself.

I’m utterly aware of my own bullshit.

But my inner juvenile is so good at getting her way.

I hung on to nasty habitses with lines like, “I deserve it. You only live once. I’ll change tomorrow.” Foul word-poo and I knew it the minute they left my mouth.

My Highest Self would shake her head. She knew it, too.

We can ignore, delay, procrastinate, and stink-think all we want but the truth is still there, nagging with it’s…friggin’ truthiness.

The nagging feeling was akin to knowing there was another life waiting for me and that it would be better than my current life. I could sense it, beyond a veil between what I was willing to give up and what I was willing to work for.

Three of the worst Nasty Habitses:

–Believing that what you do today doesn’t matter.

(This is a rubber check that buys you time but not long-term happiness. This is how you pay for a counterfeit self, not your Highest Self.)

–Having a case of the tomorrows.

(Your tomorrow is a product of today. Every choice matters.)

–Using “self-acceptance” as an excuse not to make changes.

(If you truly accept yourself and your life as it is, then you will have no inner conflict about your actions. If there is conflict, then your habits aren’t in your true self-interest.)

We are the sum of our daily habits. That means that every choice today determines how we feel tomorrow and in the days to come.

Negative habits that aren’t in your best interest have the power to morph you into a creature that’s unrecognizable from who really are. Be strong enough to let them go. Be the Bilbo you want to see in the world.

***If you’re interested in learning how you can use the Total Life Course to banish those Nasty Habitses, sign up for our newsletter. Exciting news to come!

 

Ignoring Your Inner Voice? Whispers and Screams

“Difficulties come when you don’t pay attention to life’s whisper. Life always whispers to you first, but if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you’ll get a scream.” Oprah Winfrey

Chances are, you’ve heard whisperings.

Or screams.

I sure as shit have. And every year/month/day I denied her was slowly dimming my spirit and leading me away from where I instinctively felt I needed to go.

Recently, I sensed my life was in a natural state of transition but that I was actively standing in my own way. I knew I was on the precipice of an awakening yet putting the chloroform over my own mouth to go back to sleep.

In your forties, you find yourself in a strange, misty bog between headlines like (insert typical Cosmo youth-obsessed vapidity headline here) and “Can’t wait to get your AARP discount?” and even stranger, spam emails for “Single Seniors.” What!? I’m still bleeding every month and doing a belly flop into a vat of chocolate with a baguette in my hand like a sword the week before!

I’m not there yet! Who was speaking to me—someone on the relative edge of old? Someone closer to 50 than 40 who was becoming more and more interested in looking forward than behind? Someone who was realizing with every passing year that my old ways of coping weren’t going to do sheisse to keep me thriving or even happy?

I’ve been journaling since my early twenties when rampant stress caused severe dizzy spells and a misdiagnosis of epilepsy. That’s the power of unchecked stress, folks. To say I can deny the screaming of my body, mind, and spirit would be an understatement. I’m the Queen of “No, no. I’m good. I’ve got this.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I didn’t have it.

I only looked like I did.

You know the drill… Hustle your ass off trying to show the world how very together you are but your A-game is the business of hiding your unworthiness behind the perfect facade.

In order to really have it, I’d have to give the reins to another part of me. She’d been waiting, fingers twitching to finally be the one in control, the only person with the skill to get us where we hoped to go. She knew this. She’s been trying to tell me for a long time.

Journal Entry: 8-20-14

“I feel like I’m at a crucial crossroads in my life…I feel torn in half. There’s a higher voice (I feel like the voice of my higher self has been talking for a few years and I’ve been ignoring it.) What’s the peril of that? Be still—HS says, “The things you’re struggling with (food, alcohol, anger) you are using to cover up. Get quiet. Really listen to yourself. Do what you can to be heard. Your soul has much to say.”

After years of ignoring that voice, HS was growing impatient. I could feel it like a warning.

“Please. Before it’s too late,” she’d urge.

“What’s the rush?” I’d ask, irritated that I was being pressured. Scared I was being asked not to have fun anymore. But I knew the reason she was pushing.

Tomorrow comes at you very fast.

Tomorrow is built on what I’m doing this very day.

…Tomorrow is a maybe.

Harsh, right? Make no mistake, the end is a destination no one will avoid. If I was going to BE her, I had to quit living like I had all the time in the world to course correct.

I needed wisdom to help me through the fundamental choice I faced—to stay where I was or make the changes my heart and soul asked of me. Time had come to admit that the voice that had been whispering and escalating to a scream was my own beautiful, wise voice and it had only my best interest at heart.

The truth was that living in a state where my younger (admittedly very juvenile) self was in charge was fun but was wearing on me, killing my spark, derailing my goals, and literally making me sick. I’d finally come to a point where I was willing to rethink EVERYTHING.

To allow the woman I wanted to become to emerge from inside of me, there had to be a true retirement of the woman I’d been—a changing of the guard. My Highest Self had waited long enough.

Doesn’t this precious gift—this one wild life—deserve our best and call upon us to show up as the highest version of ourselves? Isn’t that a place from which we have the most to offer the world? Dammit, doesn’t this world need that right now?

Many books I’d read over the years alluded to a Higher Self. I understood it as an existential idea, maybe an all-knowing observer hovering above my life that could only be accessed through meditation or drugs or inherent holiness, which I was sure I did not possess.

Now I see that I was always holy enough to receive her. She was the angel on my shoulder when my devil wanted to play, she was there in the advice I somehow gave friends that was more full of grace and wisdom than I thought I possessed, and she was ever-present as my intuition. She was always there, not that I always listened. But she never abandoned or ignored me in return. Now she was asking for me to allow her into being, to walk our walk, talk our talk, and love and work and mother and create and strive as her—the highest version of myself.

It’s time.

Shhhh… Listen. Do you hear that? Is it a whisper? Or a scream?