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I just hung up the phone with Corinne, one of my dearest friends.
As usual, we chatted about an array of topics - work, children, relationships, etc. And then she told me about this fantastic blog she read on a motherhood website.
The blogger compared parenting young children to climbing Mount Everest. Essentially (and I'm totally paraphrasing), the author said that throughout the mountain climb, the hiker feels exhausted, frustrated, and even, at times, like giving up. But they keep sweating, suffering, and climbing. Why? Because when they reach the top of the mountain, the views are breathtaking. And the euphoria they experience is magical. But if the hiker was asked, "Are you enjoying yourself?" at various points along the way, the answer would often be "hell no," and they wouldn't feel one bit guilty for saying so.
This really struck a chord with me. The blogger brilliantly compared the Mount Everest climb to parenting young children, but to me, it's a great metaphor for past few months of my life.
As you know, feeling good has been my top priority. But despite my focused energy and the multitude of valuable tools I have at my disposal (even the newest ones), there are still stretches of time when I don't feel my best. I obsess, I feel anxious,
I can't turn off the fearful voice in my brain - and it all makes me want to run far, far away.
But I don't, because it's all part of the climb. I know that in order to reach my next peak, it's necessary for me to take an honest inventory of all aspects of my life, and shine the light on a few key areas that have laid dormant for a long time. As a result, I sometimes experience unpleasant and uncomfortable feelings, but as Corinne (and the blogger) reminded me, that’s okay. So, I keep climbing, day after day, because the deeper I go in my soul searching, the closer I am to the top of the mountain. And I can see it from here.
The Radical Tool That Helped Me Feel Better
There are times when it’s virtually impossible to feel good. When you are wounded, afraid, or in despair, gratitude and joy are the furthest things from your mind. At least they were for me about a month and a half ago. I had a conflict with a loved one that left me feeling hurt and betrayed. Despite my best efforts to use the techniques that help me feel my best, I couldn’t quite reach my happy place of true inner peace.
Until I was led to a radical tool.
The Abraham-Hicks “Emotional Guidance Scale” is a measure of our emotions and feelings from our highest vibrational feelings to our lowest. Basically, it’s a list that guides us to travel through our emotions from one to the next, so we can gradually reach a higher energetic state, instead of attempting to leap from low-vibe feelings to high ones. As I dive deeper into my studies of the Law of Attraction, I sincerely believe that when I am in a high-vibrational, loving, abundant state, those feelings are reflected back to me in the people, tangible objects, and experiences I encounter. But, as I said in my last post, acquiring those feelings, a.k.a. feeling good on the inside, is my job.
Here is the Scale, found in the book Ask and It is Given, by Esther & Jerry Hicks:
4. Positive Expectation/Belief
A month and a half ago, positive affirmations and deep breathing were not enough to bring me from despair to joy. But, with an open mind, a willing heart, and the support of those around me, I was able to jump to anger, then worry, then disappointment (slowly raising my vibration with each step). And after about five days, I jumped to hopefulness. On the ninth day, I reached the top of the list, and I was then able to have a sincere conversation with the person I had the conflict with. We were able to rectify the issue, and move forward with a greater level of love and understanding.
If this resonates with you, I highly recommend you use this tool the next time your feelings and emotions drop. And, as always, I’m here if you need me.
The Only Thing That Really Matters
It’s been a while since I last posted and I’m flooded with thoughts to share! But there is one thing I absolutely have tell you, and if you really take it in, it has the power to transform your life.
The only thing that really matters is how you feel.
I know, it sounds overly simplistic. Especially for me, a recovering workaholic, people-pleasing-perfectionist. But hear me out…
In December, I attended Momentum Education’s Advanced Workshop, and one of my most valuable take-aways was the awareness of shifting my focus from ‘doing’ to ‘being.’
Essentially, for most of my life, I prescribed to the notion that if I worked really hard, served other people, continued to grow internally, and made enough money to support myself, I would be happy. And in many cases, that was true. I was happy and felt in control of my life, but I was also exhausted, stressed, and not completely fulfilled (to name a few).
In December, I was asked by my trainers to really think about how I wanted to feel on a daily basis. My response - peaceful, joyful, rested, healthy, abundant, powerful, loved, valued, connected, and authentic.
I was then encouraged to set the intention to cultivate those feelings every day, and to shift my focus, moment-by-moment, to how I am feeling, instead of what I am doing (or will be doing). This sparked an internal revolution!
After digesting and reflecting, I gave myself an indefinite amount of time, without judgement, to examine the choices I was making in my life, and the motivations behind them.
What I’ve come to realize is the reason I spend so much time and energy doing various things is because I’ve convinced myself that the end result (and sometimes the process itself) will yield positive feelings. And those good feelings won’t be attained unless I am constantly in motion (‘doing’), striving for a goal.
But I had it backwards.
In The Power, best-selling author Rhonda Byrne says, "Everything in the universe is magnetic and everything has a magnetic frequency. Your feelings and thoughts have magnetic frequencies too. Good feelings mean you're on a positive frequency of love. Bad feelings mean you're on a negative frequency. Whatever you feel, whether good or bad, determines your frequency, and like a magnet you attract the people, events, and circumstances that are on the same frequency."
Or, in the words of my beloved teacher, Gabby Bernstein, "Happiness is an inside job."
I thought I understood this before, but it’s taken on such a deeper meaning.
The only thing that really matters is how I feel.
So, these days, my primary "job" is to feel good. For me, that means meditating, praying, and expressing gratitude, multiple times a day. It also means laughing, dancing like Beyoncé in my living room, laying in the sun, and constantly reading/listening to my favorite spiritual teachers. Equally as important, is my ability to monitor my feelings throughout the day. And when I feel myself sliding into unpleasantness, I do my best to choose I different thought or action, so I can once again feel good.
I have only begun to scratch the surface of this topic. There is still so much I want to share, so there will definitely be more to come really soon!
I hope this serves you, and offers you peace, comfort, and hope.
I am not the same person I was last week.
For four straight days, I made my way to the same New York City building and sat in the same fourth floor room with the same group of over 70 people from all walks of life. We had all signed up for the Basic Workshop at Momentum Education and we each had the courage to take an honest look inside ourselves. We explored our individual beliefs, thought processes, and patterns, and we bonded in a strong, unique way. For those four days, we forgot we were strangers.
While I’m incredibly grateful to have multiple people in my life who love me unconditionally and genuinely care for me, I sometimes bury myself in my work and use it as a reason not to socialize or meet new people. I’m also fortunate to have a career that enables me to teach, serve, and inspire countless adults and children in my own authentic way. But I often put my work in front of spending time with my loved ones because I’m comfortable and justifiably too busy and too tired. If I’m working on an article, creating ad content, or writing lesson plans, my brain registers that as being productive. And productivity grows my business, furthers my career, and puts more money my bank account. Plus, when I’m working, I am safe and in control. There’s little chance of my work hurting my feelings or breaking my heart.
But after this weekend, I feel differently. For four straight days, I was in super close proximity to people I had never met before. We weren’t doing our traditional jobs that we get paid for, but we were all definitely working and learning. The nature of the activities we participated in required us to remove that superficial layer we all wear in the world to protect ourselves. I was unable to hide behind my appearance, busy schedule, or positive demeanor. In that room, I was simply ‘Lisa.’ As I listened to and worked with the other people in the room, I became more open to revealing my true self, forming relationships from that sacred place, and as a result, I was able to really receive the encouragement, warmth, and support they were showing me. And it felt amazing!! By day four, we were dining, laughing, and dancing together. We shared secrets, long embraces, and love in its purest form.
As I re-emerge into “normal life,” my primary intention each morning is to tap into the warm, comforting, exciting energy of connectedness that I felt for those four straight days. I also plan to open up some more space in my schedule, as well as in my heart, so I can foster meaningful relationships with other people. Because I now know what really sustains me. It’s the feeling of being supported, encouraged, accepted, and loved, simply for being me.
In just those four days, I learned so much about myself and I am not the same person I was last week. And that’s a good thing.
A few weeks ago, I attended a bridal shower for one of my lovely coworkers. The warm, intimate shower was infused with personal touches and the bridesmaids did a wonderful job making sure all the guests were comfortable and happy.
As I feasted on fried calamari and gourmet pizza, the maid-of-honor made an announcement. After our main course was served, she would lead us in a special activity together – painting – Pinot’s Palette style.
The room buzzed with excitement. My friend Alison, who was sitting next to me, could hardly contain herself. But my palms began to sweat and I could feel my stomach turning.
Although I strongly identify as an artist, I create my art with my words. When it comes to generating visual art, my ability is comparable to a five-year-old. Seriously. Tasks that involve fine motor and visual perception skills have always been challenging for me. Plus, I hate getting my hands (and clothes) dirty.
As the canvases, brushes, and paints were being passed out, I immediately thought of the children I teach. On most days, I ask them to fully engage in activities that are challenging and out of their comfort zone. I expect them to approach each task with a positive attitude, be on their best behavior, and give it their all, no matter how difficult the experience may be.
So there I was, in their shoes, right before a new school year was about to begin. Talk about impeccable timing.
I was the first person the maid-of-honor came over to help (help that I didn’t ask for). After asking my permission, she picked up a brush and made modifications to my painting. It was clear she was coming from a genuine, helpful place, and she wanted me to have a final product that resembled the model that was in front of the room, but truth be told, when she first started helping, it made me feel a bit singled out and uncomfortable.
So I began chatting with Alison, who cheered me on, and already had a canvas that would have made Bob Ross jealous. Just as I was beginning to loosen up, I got paint on my new dress!
I took several deep breaths. Then I got up and walked over to the punch bowl to pour myself a drink. Before heading back to my seat, I took some time to scan the room, and saw that everyone was in their own groove.
In that moment, I decided I was not going to care what my final painting looked like, or what anyone thought of my artistic inability. As I sat back down, I told myself that I was simply going to paint, and attempt to have fun with all these great women.
And that’s exactly what I did. I followed the maid-of-honor’s directions and allowed myself to get into a flow. I dirtied my hands, asked for help when I needed it, and chatted with Alison and the incredibly kind bridesmaid at my table. My finished painting was by no means a masterpiece, but it somewhat resembled the model, and it definitely exceeded my expectations.
I’ve been reflecting on this experience a lot as I gear up for the new school year. Being “forced” to paint in public allowed me to feel like an elementary school student again, and it enabled me to revisit my role as a teacher. Here are my big takeaways:
It really does.
It all happened in the span of a week. My new, introspective poem was rejected from a mind-body-spirit website. My how-to article was accepted, then rejected an hour later from a popular online magazine. The man who recently gave me his phone number so we could make plans for drinks did not respond to my text messages. Not winning the “Hamilton” lottery was the final straw!
Being rejected repeatedly cultivated funky, low-vibe feelings that made me want to crawl under the covers. It caused me to question my talent, ability, and worth.
I’m sharing this with you for three reasons:
1 - If you were rejected, or feel rejected, you are not alone. I’m right there with you. When I was in the midst of my recent rejection pity-party, I spent a lot time scrolling through social media. Without even realizing it, I was comparing myself to other people, thinking they must be doing something better than me because they’re all so happy and accomplished. Big mistake! Everyone experiences success and failure; we’re just not proclaiming our failures to the world on a daily basis (at least I know I’m not). Rejection is a part of life – for everyone.
2 - When I was rejected in the past, my instinct was to immediately find the silver lining in the situation(s). I searched for the big lesson or underlying reason why things unfolded as they did. This time, before reflecting or pondering, I allowed myself to be unhappy and disappointed. This lasted for about three days and, when I woke up on the fourth day, the unpleasant feelings passed (binge-watching the Jennifer Lopez “Dance Again” tour also helped. I can always count on J.Lo to lift me up when I feel down). I was excited about my new, creative ideas and future plans. I was back in a space where I could express and feel gratitude for the many blessings in my life. What felt so heavy days ago was now merely an afterthought.
3 - It’s up to you to keep pursuing your goals and not let that rejection define you. If I stopped writing because an editor turned down one of my submissions, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. If I closed myself off to love because certain men were uninterested, I wouldn’t have experienced the beautiful relationships that I did. Currently, I have clear personal and professional goals that I know I will achieve, and now, my energy is focused on reaching them, instead of the hopeless feeling of rejection.
Yes, rejection sucks. But it serves other purposes, too. It builds character. It makes you stronger. It helps to highlight areas to improve in. It prevents you from venturing in directions that are not part of your course. My advice - embrace it, then let it go. And don’t stop striving.
I can’t help being affected by what’s going on in the world right now. And while I have this overwhelming urge to cultivate peace on a grand scale, I am also afraid.
At certain points last week, I had myself convinced that the next violent attack was going to take place in my immediate surroundings, like in the car I was riding in on the subway, or outside of Macy’s in Herald Square, while I was in the fitting room trying on maxi dresses.
In the midst of my craziness, I also attended a powerful lecture lead by Marianne Williamson, and it served as a well needed breath of fresh air. I experienced many valuable take-aways, including Marianne’s reminder to make time every morning to sit in silence, to connect to love and your true inner self, before turning on the news or scrolling through Facebook.
After hearing that, I was reminded of the magnitude of the daily morning practice that I have been doing consistently for months, and I felt much less anxious, which is why I want to share it with you.
Here’s what I do every morning, on my couch, after I feed my cats and have a few sips of coffee:
First, I express gratitude. In my mind, or softly out loud, I say, “I’m grateful for waking up in great health. I’m grateful for my comfortable bed in this safe, beautiful apartment. I’m grateful for my family, friends, and cats (and so on).”
When I allow myself to experience a state of gratitude, and really appreciate who and what I cherish, I immediately become flooded with love. Even if I’m exhausted, or about to face a challenging day, for those moments I am at peace.
Then, I pray. I like to think of prayer as an ongoing dialogue with a higher power. I once again express gratitude. I then ask for protection (for me, my loved ones, and everyone in the world). I ask for guidance with certain situations, and blessings for people that I know are going through trying times. Although my dialogue differs from day to day, I always end with a variation of a prayer from A Course in Miracles,
What would You have me do?
Where would You have me go?
What would You have me say, and to whom?
In addition for asking for help, prayer is my way of surrendering and trusting that I will be lead to who I need to see and where I need to be.
After that, I set my intentions for the day. I say things like, “My intention is to feel joy, my intention is to experience inner peace, my intention is to effortlessly flow through the day.”
I like to think of my intentions like an outline for an essay I am writing. My intentions help establish and organize the foundation of my day, and my interactions further articulate the ideas that tell my story.
Finally, I meditate for 3-11 minutes. Sometimes, I silently repeat the kundalini mantra sat nam (truth is my identity) or peace begins with me over and over. On other days I just sit in complete silence. In doing so, I quiet my mind, calm my body, and ground myself so I am better equipped to handle what the day has in store for me.
If this speaks to you, I recommend you try it. And it doesn’t have to be limited to mornings. If you are feeling anxious, frightened, overwhelmed, or uncomfortable throughout the day, use these tools to help to comfort and calm yourself.
I hope this serves you well.
Twelve years ago, I said good-bye to the man I was engaged to. My first real love.
He was strong, kind, handsome, and humble, and I loved him from the moment I saw him. We clicked instantly and our chemistry was undeniable. Both in our early twenties, we had the perfect blend of naiveté and confidence, and when we were together, we held the world in our hands.
As the years passed, we began to come into our own. Developing my career became my passion and primary focus. I strived in a fast-paced city environment and there was so much I wanted to see and experience. I longed for something more, but at the time, could not articulate what that was. He too was establishing a career, but he wanted a more domesticated, suburban life that included children. Although the love was still there, it had changed, and it was clear that we were growing in different directions. So we parted ways. It was difficult and sad, but the breakup was handled with a level of respect and integrity that I am still proud of to this day.
Years later, I learned he was married and had children, and I was sincerely happy for him. He was never one of those exes I looked back on and thought “what if?” I knew since the day I left the New York City apartment we shared that our goodbye was final.
I hadn’t given him much thought in a very long time, until a few weeks ago. I was leading a ‘stream of consciousness’ exercise in my writing class, and as I allowed my creative brain to flow, I had a major “a-ha,” and I was flooded with powerful feelings of warmth and joy. My life is incredibly rich and fulfilling, personally and professionally. And so is his. We’re both thriving today because twelve years ago, we were smart enough to realize that it wasn’t meant for us to thrive together.
Some people are meant to be in our lives forever. Others, come in for a variety of reasons, and only stay for periods of time. Because of him, I have such fond memories of falling in love for the first time. I was carefree, fearless, and wildly optimistic with him by my side. And as a result of our time together, I learned many things about myself. We were wise beyond our years for setting each other free, and in hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing.
You are exactly where you need to be.
My spiritual teachers preach it constantly. I’ve offered it as advice to friends. And for about six straight weeks, it became my mantra.
My workload was excessively heavy from late February to mid-March. The weather was cold and grey. And on top of that, I was trying to figure out if I should give my relationship with my ex-boyfriend another shot. As a result, I was worn out and became pretty run down.
The light at the end of my tunnel was the upcoming spring recess I had from the school where I work. I knew the generous two-week break would enable me to recharge, catch up with my family and friends, and spend time developing the new creative ideas that were percolating in my brain.
Until I developed a severe sinus and ear infection. And to boot, I had daily spurts of vertigo, so aside from feeling dizzy when I bent down or turned my head, I periodically felt as though I was walking on a treadmill.
You are exactly where you need to be, I told myself as I spent the majority of the first week of my vacation in my bed, on the couch, and in various doctors’ offices.
You are exactly where you need to be, I reminded myself, when I learned that after my infection cleared, I still had fluid in my left inner ear, and the clogging, along with my dizziness, would heal in its own, as the fluid in my ear slowly drained.
You are exactly where you need to be, I recited, as I cleaned out my linen closet, donated clothing from my dresser drawers, and organized every piece of paper on my desk, because I had a major case of writers block, and little desire to socialize.
You are exactly where you need to be, I whispered to myself softly, as I cried alone in my apartment on and off for days, often times not even sure of the reasons why.
You are exactly where you need to be, I said to myself as laid by the pool in Florida, with my mother beside me, as the sun beamed and warmed my body.
I am exactly where I need to be. I now know this with certainty. My body is healthy and much stronger. I have a slew of creative ideas pouring out of me. And as I said my final good-bye to my ex-boyfriend, I knew in my bones that I made the right decision. Everything happened in February and March just as it was supposed to. I needed uninterrupted time to process my thoughts, clear clutter, release what no longer served me, and grieve. My mind, body, spirit, and heart needed time to rest and recalibrate. And now, I can hardly contain my excitement! I feel as though I reached a whole new plateau, and bigger, brighter things are in store for me in all aspects of my life. I am blessed, humbled, and deeply grateful.
I’m constantly on the go. And that means my mind is too. For the most part, this allows me to be incredibly productive, but sometimes, my thoughts get the best of me, and when they are not so great, neither am I.
This can be particularly challenging when I’m in public, like at work or in the grocery store, and I’m unable to pick up my journal or sit down for a 10 minute meditation.
Practicing mindfulness has been a key component in helping me keep my thoughts in check, and for restoring my peace, no matter where I am.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, mindfulness is “The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Here are the tools that I use when I’m out and about and I feel myself becoming affected by unpleasant (and sometimes obsessive) thoughts:
I love the month of January! It’s the beginning of a new year, which means I get to wipe theslate clean, and live my life in a renewed, recharged, and more fabulous way.
As December wound down, I felt this surge of momentum - an excitement that came from deep in my bones. I had a strong sense that 2016 would be an incredible year for me, and all aspects of my life will soar to greater levels than ever before.
With new thoughts and opportunities emerging, I felt the need to make a plan. So I adopted a vision, set intentions, and created a few clear goals (I gave up on resolutions years ago, because I broke most of them by February). I also did something completely new and different. I focused on how I wanted to feel in 2016, because a big measure of my success is how good I feel.
I thought of specific instances and experiences that I associated with positive feelings:
Kundalini yoga on Thanksgiving Day; watching the season finale of The Affair while snuggling on the couch with my cats; witnessing one of my workshop participants light up when she realized just how significant her thoughts and ideas are, and so on. Then I got really clear on how I felt in my mind, heart, and body on those occasions and generated a list.
Here’s how I want to feel in the New Year:
This year, my energy will be spent on finding and creating experiences that will produce those feelings. I encourage you to generate a list of your own. If you have any questions, I’m here.
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