I’m currently sitting in the local bookstore surrounded by thousands of books. As I sit here, I am listening to a webinar by Reid Tracy, the CEO of Hay House. Hay House is one of the top publishing companies for new thought and self-help books. Since I heard about them in May of 2016, I attended their month-long online world summit, where I had access to interviews with many of their most popular authors. I attended one of their conferences in Philadelphia in September, purchased an online writer’s workshop to learn more about writing and publishing my book, and plan to attend the in-person writer’s workshop in June of this year. I cannot wait.
At the start of this webinar he read a paragraph of an email he received from Brendon Burchard who is apparently a Hay House author. Part of the paragraph said…
“Sometimes people think everything in their lives need change in order to live their dreams. Just a reminder – you can start now.”
This was such a helpful statement to hear, and is the main theme I am getting from the webinars I have been listening to, along with the book I’ve been reading on creativity called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Learning more about the creative process by the above mentioned sources has helped me create a healthy and realistic view of my writing adventure. I used to be very creative, and considered going to college for graphic design. But over time I found myself struggling to be creative and stating things like “I can’t be creative. I’m too anxious about it not being good enough.” Now that I realize how you can put creativity into everything, I see that I have been creative over the last few years, especially when it comes to cooking. I taught myself how to cook and have been teaching myself how to cook clean over the last few years (I’m not always good at following it lol!). In Gilbert’s book she says creativity can be put into anything because creative living is a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
And isn’t that what we all really want? To live a life as free from limitations as possible? And sometime we forget most of our limitations start within ourselves. This can be scary, but also a great opportunity to take your power back.
She outlines what much of us fear on a regular basis, and especially in pursuit of expressing ourselves creatively. We’re afraid of failing (whatever we define as such). We’re afraid someone else did it better. We’re afraid our idea is not original enough. We’re afraid people will reject us. And of course when I committed to writing this book, I put all those pressures on myself. I told myself my book has to be perfect. I have to do it exactly right. I have to quit my day job to have time to write it. I have to have hours of free time to get started. I have to become independently wealthy from writing this book. I have to have millions of people buy my book and learn from it for it to be successful. I have to have only positive reviews of my book for it to be worth it.
I noticed I tend to do this a lot in life… life has to have perfect circumstances to start something. To continue with something. To finish something. And in some areas of my life, I have overcome this type of perfectionist thinking, and it has helped me tremendously. I suppose it is a black and white type of thinking as well… all or nothing. Sometimes we lose sight of how much our fears control our lives, how we view ourselves, how we interact with others, and the decisions we make… or don’t make.
Recently I find myself in a slump. I find myself becoming a scaredy pants of everything. The little voice in my head that tells me I’ll fail at everything has been loud and clear. I find myself shrinking, sabotaging myself and my successes, giving up, and just not trying. For one of the first times in my life, I have noticed this pattern but not let it get the best of me. I’ve worked on continuing my pursuits despite that little voice in my head.
Through the webinars and reading Big Magic, I’ve realized that creativity is a blessing. It is not needed in the world (such as doctors, say) but is kind of like frosting on the top. If we didn’t create things, we’d still be alive but life would be dull. The world will not end if I don’t write an amazing book. But it will be enriched if I let go of my perfectionist ideas, write from the heart, and just put it out there. Even if I reach one person, it will be worth it. Through learning more about the creative process, it has reminded me of the idea to “go with the flow” in every day life. When we get scared, we tend to want to try and control everything from ourselves, to others, to situations, to outcomes… it’s a stressful and often times disappointing existence.
We try to control things to protect ourselves. We try to control things to be successful, to create the ideal life we have in our head. But fact is, we cannot control everything in our lives. We cannot control other people and what happens to us. We can control how we react, the things we choose to believe, and the ideas that lead our behaviors. Any control over life events and other people we think we have, is just a fake sense of control. It does not exist and never will be real.
This might be confusing. You may be asking yourself, “But Ashley, at the beginning of this post you talked about ‘taking back your power.'” I believe living within your divine power is much different than falsely believing you have control over every little thing in your life. If we go around trying to control everything, we become even more stressed. And even more not like ourselves (our true selves are not scared, stressed out, anxious, and panicky beings that try to control everything. Our true selves at our core are calm, peaceful, content, and have answers to life’s questions).
If you learn where you do have control in your life (which as I stated before is all about YOU, not life events and other people) then you will be able to cultivate the life you want. This does not mean that if you work ridiculously hard and sacrifice everything, you will get exactly what you want. And it also does not mean that you should not try because why try if whatever you want is never going to be exactly what you thought it would be. You must try, and work towards your dreams, and plan. It’s still important to be responsible. But if things don’t work out the exact way you wanted, be open to what you can learn from the experience. Basically, try, try, try, and don’t ever give up, but be okay with what the outcome is. If you aren’t okay with the outcome, try something different.
Learn to put in your heart and soul, your commitment, your good vibes, and let go of the outcome. Let go of your expectations, perfectionist attitudes, and fear. Because the outcome will be exactly what you need to progress, even if you think it is bullshit.
Gilbert talks about that as well. The shit sandwich. We all have these ideals in our head, and think “If I do this, I will be successful.” But it doesn’t always work out that way. we have to be dedicated enough to eat that shit sandwich that comes with any pursuit, not just creatively.
It’s a paradoxical view, I suppose. Which most people cannot stand. It must be one or the other. Black and white. All or nothing. Perfect or not perfect. But life has a lot of gray areas. Gilbert says, “My creative expression must be the most important thing in the world to me (if I am to live artistically), and it also must not matter at all (if I am to live sanely).” She is stating that you must be dedicated and committed to your creative pursuits, but also to be okay with the outcome because if we attach ourselves too tightly to the ideal outcome and making everything perfect and micromanaging the entire process, then we go insane. I think this directly can be applied to any pursuit including creating happiness and the life you want. It can be a paradoxical view…
I will try, try, and learn, and try, but I will be open to what comes my way and realize I am exactly where I need to be.
One thing I have noticed is I apply this black and white, non-paradoxical thinking to my pursuit of enlightenment. It becomes not fun anymore. It becomes a “thing” I have to master. Which is in direct conflict of the process in itself, of course. If I am trying perfect the path to peacefulness and higher consciousness, I am just simply missing the point.
I find myself putting pressure on myself to be perfect in this world of new thought and self-help. That I must be the perfect example of someone who has done the work to heal. With all of the things I read for my job to help my clients manage emotions, practice gratitude, and create happiness, I am basically continually reading about ways to improve yourself and your life. And then I have my side obsession with my own pursuit of healing and higher consciousness. Basically, I have a lot of incoming ideas and information on how to create the life I want by focusing on myself and pursuing my dreams.
I start to think I need to apply and implement everything I’ve learned in my life immediately. I start to think “Oh well this, this, and this is wrong with me. This and this is wrong with my life. This and this is wrong with my relationship. Oh my God, I have so much to fix!” And then starts the perfectionist thinking, the overwhelm, the dissatisfaction with my life. But a thought came to me the other day ~ what if I just accept where I am? What if I just BE instead of always trying to fix? What if I let go of the false idea that I can control other people and life (once again, look into characteristics of adult children of addicts), and just “go with the flow?” Let others learn their own lessons and find their own way, as I have had to do. The world will not fall apart if I do this, and I need to remember that.
I think I am at the part now where I want to accept myself as I am. The good, the bad, the ugly. Now this doesn’t mean I won’t work to change my angry outbursts that debilitate me emotionally, and make me feel childish. I will actively try to look deeply into my anger, understand it, and heal myself. But I shall loosen the grip I have to the idea that I need to be perfect and constantly manage my emotions perfectly. Sometimes if we stop focusing on the problem, we are able to hear and accept the support and love that are already there for us.
Sometimes the solution to the problem is to stop focusing on the problem. Don’t label yourself, shame yourself, disown parts of yourself. Love, integrate, and appreciate all aspects of yourself.
We have to do the “work” to move through our emotional and energetic blocks, but part of that work is also getting quiet, observing, and not always reacting. Part of that work is to learn acceptance for all parts of yourself and integrate those parts, instead of disowning them. Part of that acceptance, self-love, and integration comes with loving yourself as you are, and objectively identify things you may want to improve on. And that is what I hope to do in 2017, with myself, and those close to me. Work on accepting them as they are, practice non-judgment, and allow people to travel their own paths.
I recently finished “The Path of Transformation” by Shakti Gawain and in this book she stated my exact thoughts.
On page 221, she says “Find tools that can help you with your process on all four levels – spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. Allow yourself to explore, investigate, and discover different ideas, techniques, and practices that attract your interest to find out what works best for you at any given time. When you are in an exploratory phase, you may read books, listen to tapes, or watch videos on various tropics, take classes, consult with experts or advisers until you find a skill or method that works for you. Then you may find yourself concentrating on a particular practice or two for a while. Again, remember that your needs change as you grow; tools that you once used regularly may be placed on the shelf for a while or discarded altogether as you find new ones. You may also find that there is a time for letting go of all tools for growth, and just allow yourself to be for a while!”
I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions as much anymore… I set goals for myself all year long. However, I do enjoy the process of reflecting on the past year and developing a renewed light, purpose, and excitement for the upcoming year.
The beginning of 2016 was full of expanding my perceptions on things, changing limiting core beliefs, therapy, and finding helpful people I could connect with to move through some very difficult emotional healing. I was deep into self-care and finally able to do what I felt I needed to do at any given moment to help myself feel happier. It wasn’t an easy time after such a difficult 2015, but I was coming into it. The year 2016 brought me in connection with Marianne Williamson’s online webinars each week (if you are interested in A Course in Miracles, check out Marianne Williamson). In 2016 I started running. I was never a runner, and always wanted to be one, so I went to a workshop on how to get started and did it. I remember getting out there on the trail and thinking “damn this is hard.” But the feeling I got when I met a goal was indescribable, so I kept going. Did I follow the exact plan all the time and do it perfectly every time? No. But instead of letting that ruin my success, I did what I could. And in October I ran my first race. In 2016 I started seeing a nutritionist and connected my physical health to how I was feeling mentally. I really solidified the connection self-care has on all of the levels of being. In July Andrew and I took a small road trip in Arizona and New Mexico. I attended a Reology retreat in Ocate, New Mexico and was even more exposed to new ways of living and experiencing the world. I started a Mary Kay business, and learned it wasn’t for me. Andrew and I went to many shows including Tosh.O, Michael Carbonaro, Die Antwoord, and a lecture by Kati Preston who survived the Holocaust. I started teaching at a diversion program to help people with life skills and addiction. I started boxing (and oh my God I love it!!). In 2016 I found more of myself, became closer with my friends and family, and recommitted to my health on all levels. And Andrew and I have made huge strides in healing our relationship, which has been one of the best things that have ever happened to me in my life.
Where will 2017 bring me? Well, I am starting the year off learning more about writing and publishing a book, and creativity in general. I am starting yoga teacher training. We are planning a vacation to Hawaii so I can attend a writer’s workshop and so Andrew and I can hike the Kalalau Trail, which has been on my bucket list for six years. I hope to also learn more about becoming a End of Life Doula. I want to continue on this healing path and keep expanding my views. My hope, as I stated above, is to work on non-judgement, acceptance, and relinquishing control. And of course that relates to so many other aspects of enlightenment. I want to explore every inch of my soul, my assumptions, my limiting beliefs, my wounds… and heal myself. I’m committed, I’m learning, I’m observing, and I’m taking action, but I won’t expect anything to be perfect; for me to always be happy; and to be a best selling author by the end of 2017, and I’m okay with that!
Well, since this is a personal update, I of course have lots of pictures to post! Thank you everyone for the support so far, and I hope you continue reading!
Andrew and I went to the Boston Pops for the second time to celebrate New Year’s (thank you to Andrew’s family for buying us tickets for Christmas!). We went to Lucca Back Bay, which is romantic for us because years ago on New Years we went to Lucca North End. Here are some pictures from our night:
Here is an adorable picture of our sweetie Rascal. He has come so far since I adopted him, and it’s wonderful to see him so relaxed.
And now for some selfies! Haha!