31 December 2014

I Am Alone

"I am in this alone. I have to do this by myself. I can't ask for help." This is along the lines of what I tell myself when I am feeling overwhelmed. Whether I'm at work juggling 52 projects, at home frantically cleaning before guests arrive, or parked in my car having an emotional breakdown, the voice that pops into my anxious brain says, "I am alone."

Sheesh. In the moments that I am feeling like I might shatter or burst, my first thought isn't to ask for help, but instead to drown in my current state alone. Why is this? The short answer: it's programming from my childhood. There must have been an occasion or two when I asked for help, and was met with the feeling that I was a burden or bother. From then on, my body stored the feeling of asking for help as being uncomfortable and hurtful, so instead I would forge through problems and obstacles alone.

Now this shows up in my current day-to-day, as a belief that when the going gets tough, I have to push through it on my own. I've gotten so used to this constructed mindset, that now I not only feel that asking for help would be shameful and annoying, but also that I probably would do a better job if I just took it all on myself anyways. Perfectionism was born. "Let me do this all on my own in my own way and then everything will be ok." (albeit I'm exhausted, deflated, and feeling resentful). And then I have to lie to myself and stroke my ego enough to let the completion of the task or project feel like super wonderful, elating accomplishment, even though I worked with a furrowed brow the whole time in my wallowy state of aloneness. There is no true sense of relief or excitement when you finish a task or meet a goal that you agonized over every minute until its completion.

What story do you tell yourself? We all have a few of those negative sentiments that crop up when we are feeling especially down or tried. Really think on that. When times get hard, what pops into your mind? Is it: "I'm not smart/strong/brave/prepared enough to face this." "I'll probably mess it up." "I don't have enough time/money/energy for this." "I'm a failure." Once you've identified this mental demon, try to trace it back to its roots. Was there a time when your dad called you a wimp? Did your mom scold you when you spoke up? Did a coach focus on your shortcomings instead of your efforts? Did a teacher make you feel stupid for asking a question? Whatever that moment or series of events was, you should be able to reflect back and access how it made you feel, and what you decided to tell yourself as a result. It may blow your mind to see how something so pervasive in your current day-to-day was born from an instant in your past. And let's face it - that instant, regardless of how monumental it felt in the moment, couldn't be farther from your current reality. You are no longer a child, and -bottom line - the past is NOT the present. So we shouldn't be living the now based on something that happened in the past.

In this reflection, I have noticed two important things. The first thing is that all of these terrible judgments (lies) we pass on ourselves in those tough times are all about scarcity. They are about lacking the skills and strength needed to complete something. Or lacking the emotional capacity. Or not being important enough. Or not feeling loved or supported. They all trace back to a state of lack, rather than tapping into the abundance that is ever-true and ever-present to those who recognize and cultivate it. Douse those judgements with a strong dose of abundance, and they become affirmations. "I'm a failure" turns into "I am a winner at anything that I show up for wholeheartedly." "I don't have enough time for this" becomes "I have enough time to finish what is necessary and realistic." "I'm not brave enough" transforms into "I am a damn super hero! I eat rainbows for breakfast and with my magic superpowers, I am not afraid of ANYTHING!!!" (Well, everyone's affirmations will be unique to themselves...heh.)

The second thing I noticed is that our programming actually perpetuates our reality. The more that I experience that thought of "I am alone," the more alone I actually am. The more I have to finish by myself at work. The more alone and taxed I feel when I'm cleaning my apartment. The more weight I must bear in solitude when I'm feeling sad. My feeling of aloneness, creates actual aloneness. Other people start to leave me alone, or avoid me altogether. The resources for help and support slip away. The tasks mount higher and higher, while the assigned person to complete them remains one. Just me. Alone, and suffering. Struggling to do it all without asking for help. ("I'll do a better job than anyone else would anyways." HEY, stop that!).

Our thoughts about our reality become the very fabric of our reality. If you walk around feeling like you don't have enough money to pay your bills or follow your dream, you literally won't have enough. If you feel like you aren't brave enough to take that risk, not only will you not take it, but you will become cowardly and meek in how you present yourself and live your life. I'll take it a step further and even venture to say that if, for example, you don't feel strong enough, you body will actually begin to cower and deteriorate to meet this belief. And that in my state of thinking I'm alone, people will actually leave me and refuse to help me. And that in your state of feeling broke, you will lose or spend more money. 

This all traces back to the law of attraction (the belief that "like attracts like" and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results). The way you think and feel about yourself physically manifests (e.g. if you feel too scared to confront something, your shoulders will naturally concave to match this belief), and it will then effect how others perceive and treat you. If you feel like crap about yourself, the way you exist and interact with the world is going to be lived out from that place of feeling crappy. If you tell yourself, and others (indirectly or subconsciously), anything enough times, all around you will start to hold it as reality and bend and form around you to match it. That negative belief will show up physically and energistically, and the Universe and all things and people in it will dish out vibes of that same frequency in effort to create a sort of equilibrium. The same is true of positive, affirming thoughts. 

And if you don't believe in the "like attract like" philosophy, then you can, at the least, agree that all "reality" is based on our individual senses and perceptions. What we see and experience in the world is a construct unique to our own cognitive and sensory interpretations. And when our brain (the control center that processes all of our five senses) is focused on negativity, judgment, and discouraging thoughts, we will actually start to see and sense those things in the "outside world" we are perceiving. 

This concludes my musings about how damaging and self-fulfilling negative judgments and fabricated philosophies about ourselves can be. I have recently seen so many blatant, undeniable instances of the law of attraction in action, that I felt compelled to share. I hope that after reading this and with some thought, you are more careful with your beliefs and proclamations, and that you choose sentiments that are born from a place of abundance. Personally, I am going to work on debunking the myth of "aloneness" that I have created by delegating projects, asking for help more often, and simply being more realistic and fair with myself about how much work and responsibility I can actually hold space for. I would love to hear how you will be clearing out your clouded head space and reworking your beliefs in 2015. Share in the comments below.

Happy New Year!

Glass Animals "Cocoa Hooves"

18 December 2014


I have been talking about getting my Unleashed tattoo since my trip to Nicaragua over the summer. Lots of talking about it, some action (doodling). But still haven't booked the appointment. There's been a deep hesitation I experience each time I think about taking that next step. What is it? It's not about getting the tattoo itself. It's deeper than that...

The other day, my business partner brought it up. 
"What's up with your Unleashed tattoo? When is that happening?" 
I felt exposed. I felt out of integrity. In that moment, I was confronted with the truth: I don't feel unleashed enough to deserve it or wear it authentically. It's like that fear of being "found out." Like one day, your boss will come up to you and say, "So, actually, you suck at marketing. I know your LinkedIn profile says that's your 'expertise,' but I see you, and you suck." I experience that when I write these blog posts. "Gosh, what if they realize that I DON'T have it all figured out? And who wants to read about someone bumper-boating around in her own life?" I feel like a work in progress... in pursuit of living unleashing in every moment and embodying that mindset in all I do. But, I still struggle with boundary-setting and my deep-rooted fears. I still wrap myself in expectations and anticipation. I still struggle with being truly present and in gratitude of the nowI'm not my most evolved self, where I ultimately want to be. 

Do you have feelings like that? Like you are constantly in pursuit... focusing on the goal and where you long to be? Are you lasered into the day when you wake up and actually like what you see in the mirror? The day you walk into the offices of the company you've always wanted to work for. The day she asks you out. The day that the scale reads 5 pounds less. The day that your parents accept you for who you are. The day you make time to finish that personal project.

Whatever your ultimate goals and wishes are, that "work in progress" mentality, of constantly looking ahead and wanting for something you currently don't have, puts us in a state of deficiency and "not enough." And for all the perfectionists out there - I feel you. This "not enough" can feel 1000 tons more heavy when you are honed in on that final product being FLAWLESS.

I admit, the "not enough" mindset can be sexy and even a desirable place to be. It allows you to focus on a fabrication in your mind, instead of confronting what the present state actually is. It enables you to disconnect from reality and instead daydream about what you don't have, whether that "thing" be a dream job, a romantic partner, self-value, peace of mind, or an overflowing bank account. It's easy to slip into a place of longing and feeling the lack of whatever you long for. But it completely robs you of your life RIGHT NOW. 

I'm guilty of sitting in that place. It often takes someone else pointing out that I'm spiraling in the "future" whirlpool, dizzying myself and getting nowhere, for me to actively pull myself out and get into a present place of recognition and gratitude. REAL acknowledgement of what the current moment holds: A beating heart. A roof over my head. 5 bucks for a tasty burrito. 2 hands to create. 2 legs to take me wherever I want to go. Friends who love me and laugh with me. Coconut ice cream in my freezer. The energy to get myself to a yoga class. Take inventory! Anytime you sink into that mindset of "my life start 5 years / 5 lbs / 5 miles / 5 interviews / 5 exams / 5 $zeros from now"... SNAP OUT OF IT by honoring what you have, who you are, and where you're at right in this moment. Your life -- your own personal adventure that you get to lead -- is happening and is worth appreciating right now. 

You know all of the lovely quotes about focusing on the destination and, as a result, missing the whole journey. They speak truth.  Give yourself credit for what you're currently working with. That your heart is in the right place, even if your mind wanders and your ego vies for your attention.

What my partner helped me realize was that I shouldn't wait to get my tattoo until I really feel like I'm living unleashed in every moment. The tattoo is really meant to remind me of what I'm capable of, not where I'm going or how I'm going to get there. But that I currently have the tools and the fiery desire - both things to be very grateful for. Eff the "end goal," whatever the heck that construct is. It will probably change 57 times by the end of the week. It's not worth the energy. Right now, I'm happy to claim, and CHOOSE, my current state... releasing the self-judgement and future-focused-thoughts so that I do enjoy the journey.

Jessie J - Masterpiece

19 November 2014


Over the past couple of months, I've really become connected to the wild woman that lives within me. I have been actively learning what it means to practice body intuition in all its forms, from how I nourish and move my body to how I share my body with others. I'm learning what it means to be FIERCE in protecting myself and in standing up for all girls and women. I'm listening to those instinctual feelings that come from a totally different mental drawer than logic. I have taken some big risks, choosing to take action when I get that "knowing" feeling in my belly. I'm feeling much more connected to nature and my home environment than I ever did before. My senses have been awakened and heightened on all levels. I feel emotions more deeply and can pinpoint parts of my body where energy is stored. This helps me feel more connected to my purest sense of self and less connected to my ego.

Look at these definitions of wild:

  1. (of an animal or plant) living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated. synonyms: untamed, undomesticated, feral
  2. uncontrolled or unrestrained, especially in pursuit of pleasure

Keep in mind, we are all animals. So... living in a natural, unfabricated and unrestrained, environment. UNTAMED. And in pursuit of pleasure. Talk about being unleashed and following your desire... 

Perhaps it seems nearly impossible to imagine maintaining that natural, instinctual state in today's world, with the current systems and realities in place. But there was a time when we all were closest to that truly wild state: when we were children.

Think about a 5-year-old girl, running wild and free on the playground. Climbing monkey bars and hanging upside down, darting around the grass, falling and scraping her knees, squealing with joy and reckless abandon. What happens to that fun-loving, risk-taking, free spirit? How does she become so contained and tame? Her spirit gets squashed by the opinions and expectations of others (the movies she watches, her parents, friends, religion, school system...). Suddenly that spirit is no longer guided by its untouched, sacred intuition. It becomes all about what society deems acceptable, and what your best friend thinks. Your first girlfriend/boyfriend becomes the gospel. The media tells you that you are broken or have some sort of problem that can be fixed with money and time. Now the wild child is so faint that you can barely make out her light. Underneath the heap of chains and cages that are regulation, expectation, and judgment, we lose sight of her. She starts to become what others want her to be instead of who she really is at her core: wild.

I was that wild little girl for some time. I climbed on top of the newly delivered rugs in my grandma's furniture store and belted out Achy Breaky Heart at the top of my lungs. I rode any and every roller coaster at Circus Circus. I told people what I thought without pause or filter (and without being asked). I took leadership roles whenever I could, from playing school and movie theater with my little sister, to organizing a girl band with my Spice-Girls-loving friends. I participated in class without hesitation. I was completely in my element.

But at some point I lost sight of that wild child. Looking back, I have (too) many distinct memories of times I let myself be trapped or controlled. I stopped sharing my opinions and talents so freely. I felt embarrassed when I raised my hand too often in school. I agonized over which outfit to wear. I quit softball because my fear of others' judgement literally affected how well I could play. I looked at my body with scrutiny in dance class. I dated a guy who picked on my physical appearance so much, pinching my waisting and regulating what I was eating, that I became obsessive about my diet and exercise regimen. I worked jobs that took advantage of my time and made me feel like my opinions were best kept to myself and my emotions left at home. I gave up all of my power. I allowed myself to be tamed into what others deemed acceptable and desirable. The wild little girl from my childhood wouldn't even recognize me. 

I encourage you to reflect on your childhood memories - both the times when you felt reckless abandon and the times when you started to become more self-conscious and started to care more about what others thought and wanted for you. Trace back to your wild roots and reconnect with that free spirit. It takes a lot of deprogramming to strip away all of those layers down to the wild part of us - our most pure form. After years of practicing to actively let go of what others want me to be, and instead tapping into my intuition to ask what want to be, and finding ways to nurture and grow my free spirit (yoga, dance, weight-lifting, hiking, Burning Man, camping), I am finally starting to connect with that inherently wild core. How can you tap into that sacred place within yourself? Something that I find very helpful is surrounding myself with people that allow and encourage me to be my wild self. People that don't impose judgements or try to reel me in and contain me, but instead those who will dance with me or cheer me on as I go. I'm so thankful I've found a tribe, which continues to grow and expand the more wild I allow myself to be. What kind of people do you surround yourself with? How does it affect your ability to be your wild self?
"So, I say to you with affection, imagistically - be you a Black wolf, a Northern Grey, a Southern Red, or an Arctic White - you are the quintessential instinctual criatura. Although some might really prefer you to behave yourself and not climb all over the furniture in joy or all over people in welcome, do it anyway. Some will draw back from you in fear or disgust. Your lover, however, will cherish this new aspect of you - if he or she be the right lover for you. 
Some people will not like it if you take a sniff at everything to see what it is. And for heaven's sake, no lying on your back with your feet up in the air. Bad girl. Bad wolf. Bad dog. Right? Wrong. Go ahead. Enjoy Yourself." -- Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.
Go on with your lovely wild selves!!! Feels better. I promise. AAAAAOOOOOO!

Phantogram - Howling at the Mooooooon

    • "

29 October 2014

Best of Me

The fact that I haven’t written a post in over a month is testament that I haven’t been giving myself enough time to slow down and reflect. Writing is one of the key ways that I am able to wrangle all of my thoughts into a cathartic outpouring. Otherwise, they continue to swim around the pond of my mind.  I’ve been feeling so pent up and avoiding facing my emotions, for fear of them distracting me from being productive and rising into my new role at work. But, in fact, the bottling up or side skirting of my emotions is THE most distracting thing for me at this point. I am taking this opportunity to clean house (look, already making it into a task!) and to get clear about what I have been feeling inside, or numbing myself from experiencing.

As you may have heard, I recently quit my job at Disney Channels Worldwide in pursuit of work that really energizes me and syncs up with my personal values. I started the first week of my new job feeling pretty great about where I was – I took this huge leap of faith and it was empowering. Despite being a person who is regimented (though I am open-minded and crave spontaneity) and fears straying from “the plan, ” I was able to trust my intuition and the calling to pursue a different path. The choice came from a place within me that was untouched by the expectations or opinions of others. I didn’t ask what others thought before I made the choice. It came from a place that logic couldn't access. For one of the first times in my life, I didn’t plan, and I just leapt. I trusted that the net would appear or, even better, that I would find my wings on the way down. 

I was riding the high of this courage and deep self-trust, when suddenly halted by the suicide of my 19-year-old cousin. Just when I felt that I had been given new life myself, the life of someone I so cherished was plucked from this earth. Suddenly my courage and putting my own needs and goals first lost their significance. Rather, I began feeling immense shame for not giving myself more to Alex. I felt selfish. This violently triggered my “not enough” programming, where I push myself so hard to DO it all and BE everything that everyone needs and expects of me. When my "not enough" siren goes off, I really struggle with prioritizing. I work on small, easy (sometimes meaningless) tasks just to feel like I'm getting things done, all the while avoiding facing the bigger to-do’s and priorities. I make mountains out of tasks and they feel insurmountable. "I'm not focused enough," "I don't have enough time," "I'm not strong enough," "I didn't get enough done." I focus on the lack and the small details such that I can’t see the big picture or recognize that I am doing the best I can in every moment. The result of this mentality is that I ultimately don’t feel fulfilled or accomplished at all. I instead feel bogged down by my never-shrinking list of goals and responsibilities, and on continues the haunt of "not enough." 

All of THAT – distracting myself from what is truly important or urgent – keeps me from being able to give attention and time to the things that truly matter to me. One of those things is connecting with the friends and family members that make me feel good. The people that fill my heart with love, permit my muscles to relax, and lift me up to be the person I want to be, just by virtue of being close. That easy, warm, yummy feeling of being with people with whom you share mutual unconditional love and respect. THAT is what truly matters most to me. That is how I would love to spend all of my time. But the bad habit of bringing work home and the need to always be doing gets in the way. Do you ever start to do errands or chores and tell yourself that it will make you feel better, like it's somehow part of "me time?" I do. Then I'm too tired to journal, meditate, or hop on the phone with a loved one. But when you lose one of those coveted people in your life, you are shocked wide-awake.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have gone through the cycle of disbelief, anger and blame, immense shame and guilt, and uncontrollable sadness. The hardest for me has been the "bargaining" stage, wherein I "could have" / "should have" myself to no end. In a desperate attempt to understand how I played a role or how I might have "saved" her, I spiraled into a never-ending pit of guilt. That is the worst part. Playing different scenarios over and over in my head. "If I had just.... " Imagining what it would be like to be inside of her body and mind knowing that I just had a get-together or call with my cousin Tiff, instead of a day where the sadness and rejection and lack of power consumed me. But that's just it. I can't possibly imagine how she was feeling in that moment, or every day when she woke up with the dark cloud of depression hovering over her. Putting myself in her shoes is truly impossible to do, though my ego would like me to believe otherwise and continue to put me down. It was increasingly difficult to like and accept myself in that state of being. I wasn't giving myself the time to release the need to control the past or to really be at peace with Alex's choice and root myself into a true place of honoring her. That was my goal, and that was where I would tell others I was when they would call to check on me. But I didn't feel it at my core. There was still more crying and releasing to do. 

But I let my new job distract me from giving myself the time I needed to grieve. Halfway into my first week at REALgirl, I went through our three-day REALgirl Instructor Training. We had women flying in from different parts of the world, and the preparation and participation in the training was going to require ALL of my energy and attention. So continued my avoidance mechanisms. I made my best effort to be present for myself, the other women in the training, and the future REALgirl attendees I am yet to meet. But my deep sadness and the constant "not enough" shaming continued behind the scenes, unbeknownst to me. Until the self-loathing became glaringly obvious... 

One of the activities on the final day of training, called "Best of Me," asked us to write a list of all the things we like about ourselves. All of our best qualities. This is work that we have the girls to do in the Creating a Healthy Relationship with Yourself module. The curriculum explains that you can only have healthy relationships with others if you have a healthy relationship with yourself. Suddenly I became aware of how much effort I had been putting into being "strong" and "evolved" for everyone else in the training. "How can I show up as a powerful, compassionate, grounded leader if I’m still dealing with all of my own programming?" I had been putting so much pressure on myself.

The other ladies in training started to ponder and jot down attributes on their worksheets…

I immediately started to think of all of the things I’m working on, instead of the things that are wonderful about me right here and now. When I could finally start writing things down, I would get snagged on “but when do I let that go too far?” or “but do others like that about me?” or "is that selfish?" or “is that actually important to me or just to other people?” or just generally finding the negative side of each attribute. It was then that I became very aware of how unkind I had been to myself. I hadn't been taking the necessary pause when feeling overwhelmed or disappointed with myself. I resorted to stuffing down the emotions and shutting others out at the end of the day. I clamored together a list of attributes just to finish the activity, but I didn't really feel their truth in the moment. 

Yesterday was the first time since Alex's passing that I started to really allow myself to slow down and feel my emotions. I still struggled to sit still amidst the mess and disorder in my apartment, tiding up here and there. But I gave myself permission to be sad. I collapsed. I cried really hard. I strained to feel her. I listened for her in every song. I looked for some sign of her around every corner. She is gone. She chose to leave her suffering. Not to leave me. She loves me. And I love her. I started to float towards a place of pure love. And waking up this morning, I was a little closer to self-love and acceptance, and therefore closer to accepting and honoring Alex. I know it will ebb and flow, but it feels better to experience the emotions than it did to numb and distract. 

Today, I decided to revisit the Best of Me exercise with a renewed sense of self. Here are the things I wrote down that I like about myself. I am sharing them as a way to experience their Truth and to show (my 10 year old self) that I am capable of taking about my strengths without feeling “conceited” or shy. This isn’t about what others like about me… this is what I genuinely love (and want to celebrate) about the person I am. I encourage you to spend some time today sitting in a place of loving and honoring yourself. It's powerful, and something that we VERY rarely pause to do in the midst of our "busy" lives, mistakes, and state of loss or lack.

The Best of Me
- I am supportive of others' dreams and willing to help or contribute 
- I am committed to the empowerment of all human beings to be their best selves
- I am silly and lighthearted
- I am a creative brainstormer
- I have a can-do, problem-solver attitude
- I have an ability to recognize my own self-inflicted limitations
- I am committed to learning, growing, and transforming 
- I am spiritual and connected to a higher, deeper energy source
- I am fearlessly and unforgivably my unique self, sharing that with all I know and meet

<3 Mikky Ekko

22 September 2014


This morning, while taking a short break from the bustle of emails and to-do lists, I was reminded of the impermanence of everything around us. Enjoying the sun for a few sweet minutes, I was served a lovely green tea latte, adorned with a frothy white leaf design. Before destroying the thoughtful detail of my barista, I had a moment of "oh! let me capture this!" But instead of taking a picture (that I would never look at again anyways), I took pause to smile and enjoy the art. And then laughed to myself as I used the small spoon to whisk it into nonexistence. Latte art: beautiful as it is, you must accept its impermanence to enjoy the underlying contents. If you broke down every time you got a latte, resigning to forgo the tea for fear of destroying that perfectly crafted foam, you'd never get to taste the yummy latte that awaits your lips beneath it. 

I see this is a microcosm of life.

If you need an experience to help you accept the reality of impermanence, I encourage you to go to Burning Man. This annual event fully embraces impermanence, demanding that every burner also accept and comply with this reality. A whole city, built as a magical playground for 65,000 people, goes up and then is torn down, seemingly overnight. The playa is here - radiant, warm, and stimulating - and then gone. Massive art installations, breathtaking in their detail and invitation to interact, are burnt to the ground in their infancy. You develop a tummy-tingling closeness and familiarity with the love and peace you feel in their presence, and then they are turned to ashes. You connect with people from all over the world, waking up next to them day after day, stealing every chance you get to explore and share with them, and then they all fly back to their respective homes. You feel the impermanence at every turn at Burning Man. You can't escape it, so you accept it and RUN with it, using it to fuel your unleashed, open-hearted journey. (Note: if you can't make it to Burning Man, try the more local playa. Enjoy an afternoon at the beach building a sand castle. Take your time crafting the towers and collecting trinkets to adorn the walls. Sooner or later, you will have to accept that you can't bring the sand castle home, nor will the wind or waves spare its life at the beach.)

"Humanness" and "mortality" are actually synonyms for impermanence. Life is, obviously, impermanent. And, even before your life ends, gobbling up all of its material elements like a massive tidal wave, the things you've nestled in your life are impermanent too. That sandcastle. Friendships. Family members. Your beloved pet. That I-had-to-have-it Persian rug. Your car. Your job. Your favorite candle, which you decidedly only burn on "special occasions" so that it doesn't melt away to a solitary wick. JUST BURN IT ALREADY. Enjoy it, right now. While we try to feign permanence and surround ourselves with people and things that feel familiar and make us feel untouchable, there really are no guarantees. Do you live recognizing and honoring the fact that everything -- your possessions, your loved ones, your own life -- could be taken from you at any moment? Perhaps you do realize this, and use it as a reason to live in fear and avoid forming intimate relationships with yourself and others. It can go both ways. 

If you notice that you feign permanence or try to hide from the reality of our mortality, I encourage you to develop a new relationship with this fact. Practice in small ways living as if everything could be swept away in the next moment. Maybe you will say hello to that neighboring patron you were eyeing at the coffee shop. Maybe you will donate half of that untouched wardrobe to GoodWill. Maybe you will call your grandma more often. Maybe you'll wake up each morning and appreciate, rather than resent, your body. Maybe you will finally take that trip that's been on your vision board for years. Maybe you'll start to choose love, instead of fear, every time.

"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."

- Robert Frost

O, Karen O. So much love for you.

09 September 2014

The Emotion Formally Known As Jealousy

For all of you who have been asking (or wondering!) about how Burning Man was... In a few words that could never do it justice, it was incredible and deeply touched my heart. I can't believe that I resisted and feared going for so long. Year after year, I would hear about this weeklong desert excursion and be overwhelmingly judgmental (underneath, this judgment was actually jealousy and a desire to experience it myself). My own insecurities fueled an idea that BM was somewhere I didn’t belong, and didn’t even want to be, thank you very much. So when my boyfriend at the time would go, or I would hear of a friend attending, this deep feeling of being left out would come over me, and I would drive myself into a place of really resenting and hating this THING that I had never even experienced.

At the heart of my feeling about Burning Man before going this year was JEALOUSY. I told myself things like: I'm not welcome there. I won't be able to survive there. I can't go. I don't want anyone else to go either (especially not my boyfriend)! Who would want to go, anyway? It sounds terrible to melt in the heat and wheeze in the dusty desert for a week! And all the drugs and nudity just aren't my thing. Hmph! (Insert toddler pout here.) I've heard other non-burners perpetuate these same assumptions and stereotypes, which I do believe are simply rooted in fear and jealousy. It’s perfect, then, that one if my favorite moments on the playa was a workshop I attended called "Ending Jealousy Permanently," led by the powerful, straight-shooting Steve Bearman (of Interchange Counseling Institute).

I happened upon this 2-hour workshop by total chance. I had set aside the afternoon to explore some of the villages that offered deeply personal, confrontational, reflective courses. I came across Sacred Spaces and was enamored with the line-up of workshops, including chraka work, yoga, meditation, and other spiritual and inspirational workshops. Luckily for me, Steve’s class on jealousy was scheduled to start in 10 minutes. I removed my shoes and tiptoed my way into a small, coveted space in the middle of a geodesic dome draped with colorful fabric, which did its best to shield us from the sweltering sun. Within a few minutes, the dome was completely packed, and I was forced to surrender my selfish desire to maintain zero skin contact with the other hot, sweaty bodies around me. A ring of burners began to form around the outside of the dome too, as those who couldn’t grab a spot inside eagerly hugged the perimeter. I soon discovered why this workshop, out of the hundreds that were available to people, was so highly sought after. Steve is a big deal:

"Steve Bearman, PhD is the founder of the Interchange Counseling Institute, and a counselor, social justice educator, and workshop leader residing in San Francisco. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he also received an MS in Social Psychology. He has published articles on internalized sexism, male sexual conditioning, mentoring, and the philosophy of psychology. He receieved his BA in Individual Transformation and Social Change from Hampshire College. Steve has been teaching in the Bay Area and throughout the country for the last 20 years. In addition to teaching counseling skills classes, he has led workshops in the areas of community building, relationships, ending jealousy, overcoming anxiety, gender role conditioning, healing body shame, death and grieving, spiritual practice, and group facilitation."
It was my lucky day! And today is yours, because I'm going to share insights from the workshop with you. The name of the workshop, "Ending Jealous Permanently," alone is powerful (an emphasis on the permanently). Equally powerful are the few moments that Steve identifies as potential transformations, where a lightning bolt zaps your jealousy for good. I will share those with you too.

A few things he started with that really teed up the discussion:

Distinguishing ENVY and JEALOUSY. Envy relates to wanting the skills, physical attributes, and/or possessions of someone else. You may be envious of someone else’s body, the way they carry themselves, or their amazing knitting skills (hey, I’m not judging). Jealousy, for the purposes of this workshop, relates to interpersonal situations (involving another person(s), or relationships)
. This includes the jealousy you feel when your partner chooses to go out with his friends instead of have a night with you. Or the feeling that arises when you see a girlfriend post a picture of her and another friend having a blast when you were supposed to have plans. Or when that girl of interest pulls away because she is “seeing someone else” (who IS this guy?!). Jealousy relates to human connection, whereas envy relates to possessions and characteristics.

We organize our experiences. This is an active, ongoing thing that we do. This just means that in any given situation, you focus in on certain things and not on other aspects, and that changes your entire experience. Just consider how two individuals may give their accounts of the same experience - they will each have their own "version" of the story based on what things they picked up on. Then, once you've gathered all of these details into an "experience," you apply a layer of meaning to it, such as feeling like a victim in the circumstance or feeling like the victor.
 In short, Steve says that the feelings we call "jealousy" indicate that we have unconsciously become programmed to organize certain experiences into a state of suffering. After all, jealousy is a form of suffering. 

But, consider this: Pain in necessary. Suffering is optional. This seems to be obvious, but Steve's explanation solidified my understanding and belief of the concept. In this life, pain is a given. We will lose people to death. We will experience breakups and falling outs. Our trust will be betrayed. Our expectations will go unmet. We will argue, fight, disagree, and fail. These are undoubtedly painful experiences. Our heart will clench, our jaw will tighten, and the tears will stream. However, the part that is not a given is the suffering that comes after the experience of pain. Suffering is the wall of meaning that we create around pain. It is not real – it’s all fabricated in stories and projections. We ascribe meaning to pain and suffer as a result. YOU can actively decide to attach meaning to the pain (e.g. I am alone. I am unworthy. I am a failure.) and let this fester. Or you can acknowledge the pain and accept it for exactly what it is - a blip of loss or sadness or upset.

Name is framing. To make meaning of our world and to attempt to understand our emotions and experiences, we create frames around them. We give things names, highlight attributes, and construct frames of reference around them. I think we do this mainly to be able to describe them to others and to feel justified about our emotions. We want to have something to call the uncomfortable feelings that arise. But when we give something a name – a flimsy string of letters that is meant to connote emotion – we give it a limited frame to exist in and restrict others’ understanding of it too. Naming an emotion as "jealousy" is one example of a frame. The first *permanently* moment that Steve offered us: consider eliminating the word "jealous" from your vocabulary. By removing the word from your pool of potential words, you are forced to describe the real emotions that are buried underneath the meaning you are creating, called “jealousy.” What are you actually feeling? You are feeling left out and want to be included. You are feeling unimportant or neglected and want to connect. Really, you just want love. Now you’re moving past the frame and getting at the real emotions, which can offer a greater understanding and consequent ability to start remedying your suffering. Don’t use the crutch of “jealousy” – dig deep and get honest about what is really there for you.

Get curious and excited to overcome what you are experiencing. One way to do that… (here is *permanently* moment #2). Consider that jealousy is experiencing love, while also feeling fear, insecurity, anxiety, or shame. If jealousy exists, love must be present. So while you may be feeling hurt because your ex is now dating someone new, you must really love her to feel that jealousy. And while you may be super pissed and let down that your boyfriend chose to go to the bar with the guys instead of cuddle on the couch with you, you must really love him to feel that way. I know it feels counterintuitive… but if when you start to feel that emotion called “jealousy,” you actively choose to bring the LOVE that is underneath to the forefront, you can tame the negative feelings by dousing them with the love you have for that person. You become aware of your longing to share an experience or connect with that person. That's what jealousy really is - a desire to connect. It’s ok to feel angry or hurt AND love someone at the same time. Training yourself to bring love to the forefront isn't meant to discount or eliminate the upsetting emotions, but rather to color them with perspective. 

Taking it a step further, become aware of how you are loving people ALL of the time. Not just your best friends, your family, and your partner. But also the old man who smiled at you as you crossed the street. And the person that let you make the impossible left hand turn in front of them. And even the stranger waiting in line in front of you at Trader Joe's.  We all want love. Don’t invalidate what you’re feeling for someone because of the context or length of time of the connection. Let yourself feel love, deeply and often, for as many people as possible. Because, honestly, life is more beautiful and enjoyable that way.

Now we are getting to the amazing "projects" that Steve assigned us in the workshop. He outlined three main meanings that we ascribe to jealousy so that we can better understand how to break them down for good.
  1. Insecurity 
  2. Scarcity
  3. Codependency 
Starting with insecurity… Where is this born? As children, there are emotions and tendencies that we learn to temper or prioritize based on the cues we receive from people of importance. Parents, teachers, church communities, neighbors, friends, and other family members make us feel good or bad about being a certain way or doing certain things. For example, you may learn that it’s good to be quiet and well-mannered  and it’s bad to be overly expressive and opinionated. Or it’s good to actively participate in class, and it’s bad to process information internally. Or it’s good to get married, and it’s bad to be intimate with your partner before marriage. There are a slew of opinions and expectations that we pick up on and (subconsciously) internalize as children so that we can be agreeable, lovable, and worthy of belonging. Enter insecurities, or trying to avoid all of the “bad” and live up to the “good” that we have learned throughout our lives. Insecurities manifest in our negative self-talk, or the beliefs we have about ourselves, such as: I’m dispensable to my boss. I’m too needy for my partner. My voice isn't important at home. I always do this! I’m not attractive enough to be worthy of love. 

You know these demons. We all hear them whisper in our ear, telling us that we don’t deserve love, or that we aren't capable of getting what we want and need. In this part of the workshop, I became very aware of just how often these insecurities spout up in my mind throughout the day. I've been living with these “beliefs” for so long, that I didn't fathom how pervasive they were. To show us the severity of the negative self-talk we lash at ourselves, Steve had us think about some of the things we tell ourselves (see I/Me/My statements above), and to choose a partner nearby to say these things to, in the “You” tense. I turned to a complete stranger and had to say things like “You’re not attractive,” “You won’t ever find someone that will love you for who you really are,” and “You aren't strong enough to overcome your addiction,” with the same cold, stern tone in which I speak to myself. This was incredibly powerful. You are immediately confronted with the question of "WHO would talk to someone else this way?" YOU wouldn't! So why would you speak to yourself this way? When someone is down, you don't hurt/shame/criticize them. You approach them with compassion and understanding, and you comfort them. We must do this with ourselves in the same way we would offer love to someone else who is hurting. 

This kicked off what Steve calls the Love Yourself Project, in which you consider what you would say to a person when they were being hard on themselves and how you would console them. Then, think about when you are being hard on yourself and the kinds of things you can say to interrupt that negative self-talk. It can be as simple as, "hey, we don't use that kind of language around here," or "it's ok. I'm hurting, and I need love and kindness from myself," or "now, now. take a deep breath and think of one thing you're grateful for." Whatever makes the most sense for you. Interrupting yourself should NOT sound like, "HEY YOU! Quit that right now! Stop! You always do this!" The statement shouldn't be more criticism that perpetuates beating yourself up. Take a minute to close your eyes and practice this. Think of something that you were picking on yourself about, think of how you talked to yourself in that moment, and practice stepping in with some love. Say it aloud. If you get stuck and don't know how to interrupt yourself, just think of what you would say to someone else who was hurting - your best friend, your niece, 5-year-old you... 

Then Steve made an interesting distinction. While this beautiful coping mechanism for healing our programmed insecurities is all about self-acceptance and self-love, he reminded us that this doesn't mean we can't also be committed to self-improvement. In bouts of jealousy when we're feeling insecure, it's important to exercise self-acceptance and maybe even consider areas for improvement. For example, perhaps there is a person your partner is attracted to because she is super athletic and an amazingly gregarious public speaker. You might say to yourself that, while you are envious of her body, it is not realistic or desirable for you to start hitting the gym every day, because you wouldn't be doing it for yourself. However, you might realize that public speaking is something you struggle with and a skill that is of value to you. So instead of slipping into an insecurity spiral, you decide that you would like to take some classes to improve your fear of public speaking. Self-acceptance and honest decision-making transform jealousy (and envy) into admiration and potential for growth. It's ok to consider areas that you would like to improve. However, you don't want to love yourself ONLY if you meet certain conditions. And you shouldn't
 forget all of your amazing qualities in the process of admiring someone else's. So love yourself now, AND after you take up whichever improvement, if you so choose. 

The second wall of meaning that festers jealousy is scarcity. When we are in the scarcity mindset, we are in a state of "not enough." This can manifest in feeling like YOU are not enough (shame), or that there isn't ever enough time (anxiety), or that you didn't get enough food (eating disorder). As it relates to jealousy, we can boil it down to "there isn't enough love to go around." If you see someone that you like giving attention and affection to someone else, you might go into the scarcity mindset without even realizing it. "If he likes her, then he can't like me." To protect ourselves, we cut off our flow of love for that person, and, even worse, for others too. In that state of mind, you erect a wall so that others can't see you, or, therefore, hurt you too. It's a defense mechanism. And depending on how many times you've been hurt and really felt there wasn't enough love to go around (in your childhood, past relationships, etc.), you may have a very thick, high wall guarding your heart. Enter the Deepening Intimacy Project: consider that you can create more intimacy everywhere if you choose to let yourself be 100% real in your relationships. You can actively choose to love and be intimate with anyone and everyone. (We're not talking about sexual intimacy, so don't go around telling your friends that I said you should give it away for free.) I'm talking about being vulnerable and letting yourself be seen in relationships. 

For this project, Steve had us do a really beautiful exercise. We turned to another stranger in the dome and practiced allowing ourselves to be seen (as well as tried on really loving this person). You lock eyes with your partner and listen to Steve guide you through something akin to an open-eye meditation. He very simply asked us to look one another and to allow our walls to come down. Connect with this person and express something that we find difficult to share with others, or a tactic we recognize we use to avoid being intimate. All the while in this exercise, I am aware of my ego nagging me to break eye contact and to find something else to look at, like my hands, or Steve, or the others around me. But I didn't follow those tugs. I let the rest of the world melt around me. There was only the two of us. I continued to look deep into the eyes of my partner, with the beautiful blue paint framing his kind eyes. I shared with him my insecurities, and he expressed his. We held space for each other to been seen and heard, and we actively practiced loving each other in every minute, despite AND because of our insecurities. It may sound strange and impossible for you to imagine falling in love with a stranger, but it was surprisingly effortless because we got into a place where we recognized all of the similarities we share. Both human beings - two eyes, a nose and mouth. Both want to be loved and accepted. Both want connection. And when you boil it down to those simple facts, it's effortless to love. Sharing these few minutes with my partner was freeing. I became acutely aware of how easy it would be to have this kind of intimate connection with each person I meet. It's a choice.

The final perpetuator of jealousy we explored was codependence. As it relates to relationships, codependency is characterized by a person feeling incomplete without their partner. We become codependent when we are afraid of feeling alone. You are lonely when you're not with your partner and it feels impossible and miserable to be apart. Instead of enjoying the time to yourself, you agonize over the break in connection. You latch onto control and try to regulate your partner's emotions and your time together. You are not ok if your partner doesn't feel a certain way, so you manipulate them to feel how you want (need) them to. It's a mess! Hence, the Enjoying Aloneness Project. (Have you noticed that the projects build on one another?) When we love ourselves, we actually enjoy our own company. When we love others openly and allow ourselves to have intimate connections, being alone doesn't feel like loneliness, because we are aware of the connections we have regardless of not occupying the same physical space. And in this state of mind, you learn to be a whole and complete person with or without your partner. When two happily "alone," complete people come together to enjoy each other, that is the quintessential key to a magical, non-codependent relationship. There is no room for jealousy there.

This is what I was able to piece together from my memory of the class and my chicken scratch notes. I hope I did it justice and gave you at least a small piece of that profoundly  resonant workshop. Deconstructing jealousy at Burning Man is an experience that I will continue to deeply cherish, given how much negative meaning I had slathered onto the perfect desert oasis that now feels like home. In addition to having a ton of fun exploring the playa and dancing until my feet went numb, I felt completely loved, embraced, and supported at BM. My camp mates and the greater community were unimaginably welcoming and open-hearted. This immense longing, warm sensation arises in my belly when I think about the friends I made. I was encouraged and inspired to be totally unleashed - unforgivably myself, loving, accepting, vulnerable, and FREE. What a completely different experience than the jealousy, fear, anxiety, and judgment that I previously layered on my uninformed idea of Burning Man. This taught me a valuable lesson about how fear can drive you so far away from the truth. 

As always, I would love to hear what you are taking away from this post, and if any of the tools help you to eliminate jealousy from your life.

19 August 2014


Lately, I have been particularly connected to my intuitively "wild" nature - my calling to be unleashed and fully expressed. I've been more upfront with my friends and family. I have less of a filter when I'm being asked to fit into a mold. I honor what comes up for me naturally, instead of what I think is expected of me (as a woman, as an employee in a corporate company, as a 25-year-old, as a single girl, etc.). I feel like I CAN'T not be me. It's a beautiful feeling and tendency, and it also causes some discomfort when I'm met with resistance from others. Those people are usually folks who want me to comply, or to be something I'm not, or who are just interested in a "by the book" life. People who live and (superficially) thrive in complacency. I'm talking about the people who see the window office as the end game. The people who prefer the pat on the back or an ego stroke to outstretched arms. Folks who are totally ok climbing into the mold and saying "yes" to every request made of them, because it feels easier to comply than to look inward or carve their own way. You feel me?

I've been that person. I was that student, and I started off as that employee. I was that daughter. I was that friend. I was that girlfriend. But today, I am not that person. And it becomes harder and harder for me to play the now counter-intuitive game that is complacency. I've out grown the comfort zone that was my sandbox and the desire to please everyone else. Now, I live to "please" my intuition - to tap into my gut, where I receive whisperings from the Universe about my personal legend, and see what comes up.

There are times when the ego tries to intercept those messages from my place of deep knowing, and it disguises itself as Truth. When I'm not feeling centered and grounded, I am more likely to listen to the selfish, loveless voice that is the ego. My ego says things like, "Don't ask for too much," "Better not approach him. He might reject you," "Don't eat that," "You are alone," and "You are not worthy." Most recently, I heard my ego say,"You can't go to Burning Man. You aren't cut out for that. You wouldn't be able to handle it." Luckily, after years of perpetuating this ego-driven story, I was finally able to identify it as self-talk, and I felt my intuition say, "This is your year. You are going. It's time to bust through your preconceived notions. There is magic to experience and lessons to learn on the playa." As soon as I chose to listen to my gut, it felt like I was already on the playa. Like it was destiny and I had honored its call. 

Complacency is a place run by the ego. It keeps us "safe" and attempts to numb all pain, fear and discomfort, which the ego tells us are bad or wrong ways to feel. When we are governed by the ego, we are focused on avoiding the experience of shame, aloneness, and unworthiness, so we stay within the bounds of what feels familiar and easy. Sometimes the ego swings the other way, and we experience emotions like being superior, accomplished, or in control. The inner voices FEEDS on emotion, whether love, fear, worry, or excitement. And it usually comes with a heaping side of judgement. It speaks in "don't," "can't," and "shouldn't." The intuition, on the other hand, isn't attached to emotions, because it comes from a pure place where there are no rights and wrongs. There just is. It's connected to the greater energy of the Universe, which is all-knowing, judgement-free, and therefore perfect in every moment. There is no value or good/bad label attached to intuitive messages. When I receive signals from my intuition, I usually experience some combination of "Where did that come from?" and a deep exhale of "Ahhhh, yes. Of course."  Sometimes they feel like they are from left field, which usually means I've recently been playing in that comfort zone sandbox. Other times, when I'm plugged into the Universe (instead feeling separate from it), those messages produce a sensation akin to warm, zenned-out bliss, wherein my feet are already moving toward the path that has been lit for me. It's so hard to put into words, but you know it when you experience it. It seems divine and you can't quite identify where it came from, but it feels like home. It feels like surrender.  

Today and every day, I hope that we can choose awareness and intuition over fear and the ego. I pray that we never sink into stagnant complacency, and that we see every potential connection, situation, and occurrence as an opportunity to learn and go deeper. Even things like your day-to-day activities (driving to work, making dinner, doing laundry) can feel cosmic and wonderful when we make the decision to plug in instead of feeling tossed around. The Universe never ceases to provide omens and whisperings to guide us. Are you listening? Are you willing to change course without the need for conscious reasoning? Or are you fixed on what you know and what feels easy? Get honest with yourself. Your sandcastle looks nice and all, but the real magic happens outside of the sandbox. 

Loving Jagwar Ma <3

05 August 2014

Introducing: Be Unleashed

Good morning beauties!

Welcome to Be Unleashed! As you can see, I revamped my blog and gave it a new name. Over the past month, I felt called to rethink the intentions behind this creative space and what I want it to evoke in myself and others. Since I started this blog over 3 and a half years ago, a lot has shifted in my life. Therefore, the focus and purpose behind my writing has also evolved. It's interesting to read some of my first entries. It wasn't until I backtracked to the very beginning that I remembered why I started this blog. I was taking a Stress Management class in my last semester at USC, and the journaling homework assignments felt like such a release that I wanted to share the prompts and my responses with others. Given the kinds of things I wrote about, such as the inclination to please others and my struggle to release worries about the future, I now recognize that this blog marks the true beginning of my path towards self-love and self-awareness. College was coming to a close, and I was called to reflect on how I had spent my time and energy over the past 4 years. I was just getting into a new relationship that surfaced many of my insecurities and desires around love. I recently had been introduced to Bikram yoga, which is an incredibly confrontational practice, both physically and mentally. Transitioning from being a student (the thing I had most identified with for the past 18 years) to an employee and an independent adult was upon me. It was the perfect whirlwind time in my life to crack my heart and my mind wide open to explore all of the thoughts and emotions swimming around in there. Hence, BE LOVE. was born.

It served me well. From breakups and breakdowns to breakthroughs, BE LOVE. really was a safe space for me to feel expressed and to actively practice self-awareness. It was truly a portal for my personal transformation. I would set out to write about a particular topic, and then come out the other end of a stream-of-consciousness entry with a completely unexpected set of realizations. The intention behind BE LOVE. was to learn how to be love, in order to give it freely and receive it; however, I took away so much more than a log line could have ever captured. 

As I've grown and learned over the last couple of years, embodying love is something that has come easier to me than it did before. I have learned to love people where they are, for who they are. I have practiced listening through a loving ear, with compassion and empathy. I have started to understand what it means to love every experience just as it is – without any regrets or “should haves.” I have been more open to being vulnerable enough to give and receive all kinds of love from/to all different kinds of people. For a long time, it was the inability to love myself and others unconditionally that held me back from evolution and transformation. But during and following my trip to Nicaragua, I experienced some of my biggest breakthroughs in regards to love (read here)

After being home for over a month now, I recognize that those revelations were possible because I was free of fear. What is fear? It’s an “unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” (Heavy emphasis on the BELIEF part, folks.) In Nicaragua, I confronted my fears head-on and felt like a superhero version of myself. I became very aware of what my fears are and how they hold me back in all aspect of my life, deterring me from connection, exploration, learning, and growth. My fears are all over the map -- The fear of being rejected by that person of interest. The fear of trying a new food. The fear of saying no and setting boundaries. The fear of being without financial security. The fear of straying from my diet and exercise regime. The fear of being judged for being myself. The fear of hurting someone's feelings. The fear of admitting I have changed my mind. The fear of failure and starting over. It’s pervasive!  And while there is an undeniable link between fear and love (one cannot exist in the presence of the other), I felt drawn to redefine my blog as a place that I will be blasting through fear, which often involves a combination of me showering everything and everyone with love and establishing trust with myself and the Universe. Nicaragua was the birthing place for this new fear-blasting perspective, and it really came into focus on my flight home.

On the plane ride back, something beautiful and heart-wrenching happened. Sitting in my chair in first class, balling my eyes out, agonizing over the transition back to LA living, scribbling in my journal until my hand cramped up... a flip book of memories began to play. A series of small moments flashed before my eyes, from all different points in my life. It was like the final scene in a romance film, when they play a montage of memories that has led the lovers to this point and you suddenly feel overwhelmed and deeply sentimental about the journey they have been on together. It feels like you are truly seeing them for the first time. That's exactly how I felt. It was as if I was having an out-of-body experience, seeing myself from a higher place, observing myself objectively and with love. I saw all the places this person had been, from the 6 year old girl who would sneakily sleep on the floor next to her mom's bed after a nightmare, to the happy little girl who loved to sing at her grandma's Christmas parties, to the elementary school student who wanted to be the teacher's favorite, to the insecure middle-schooler who imagined all eyes on her as she walked down the hall, to the teenager who felt on top of the world when she turned in a book report, to the college student who was so deeply committed to discovering her calling, to the girlfriend who wanted more than her relationship could offer, to the novice traveler who trusted herself and the ocean enough to hop up on a surfboard... It all suddenly showed up in a flash. This poor little girl, I thought. This beautiful woman. This hard-working, determined soul. This resilient, yet sensitive human being. This person who 
so desperately wants to be free. Free from where she's been and trusting of wherever she's going. Free to live in the moment and love as hard as possible, without thinking about what loss may feel like.

In those few, pivotal moments, the intention behind Be Unleashed solidified. These thoughts were not completely new to me, but the person having them was. The seed was planted on my flight over to Nicaragua, when I captured some free-flowing thoughts about the things I wanted to get out of my experience. Reading this set of intentions after my trip, I recognize that this expression of my deepest wishes for my trip is actually a microcosm for what I want for my entire existence – something to apply to the whole landscape of my life, wherever I go and whomever or whatever I encounter.

I wrote:
I would like to center on going deep within myself. I’d like to learn more about what it means to be unleashed and deeply self-aware. I want to recognize any programming or background tracks that play out in my life – both the productive and the limiting ones. I’d like to clear out any resistance I have to being vulnerable, so that I can become more comfortable allowing myself to be seen and heard, and so that I can form deep, meaningful connections with others. I want to know and love myself so well, that I am open and eager to know and love others. I want to practice pure compassion and empathy for myself and others. And I am also open to challenging myself in ways that I may be playing the victim, excusing, or limiting myself. I want to tap into my strong, innate superpower and learn how to harness and release it. I want to feel alive, energetic, and charged in my own skin, and I want to share that electricity with others. I want to be wide awake and aware, and I want to be an inspiration to others, such that they want to be cracked wide open to experience their own inner magic. I want to be inspired and be inspiring. I believe that this is my path – my personal legend. I believe that this is the way to true love – love of oneself, love of others, and the best way to bring new people to love into my life. My mantra: I am a bright light bursting with love and excitement for this life I am blessed to lead.
This pre-journal captured the essence of what it means for me to Be Unleashed. My time in Nicaragua gave me a taste of what it feels like to live Unleashed. And the mental flip book that I experienced on my way back to LA was the first step towards thinking Unleashed. I will be using my newly defined blog space to continue learning and sharing what it means to be totally free and open. Free to be and to love. Open to learning, feeling, and experiencing. Free to fall on my ass and to fall in love. Open to being seen and to being hurt. Free to be caught off guard and surprised, and open to a new way of observing and existing in this world. Whatever living Unleashed looks like for you, I hope that you will join me in suiting up in some superhero spandex of your own!

Thank you for reading about my new intention. I adore any and all feedback I get, from your own thoughts on the topic to the experiences you've had that can relate and inform. Please share if you feel so inclined! Unleash your heart and mind in the comment section below.