There has been a theme in my spiritual journey this year – I’ve learned that courage and vulnerability are not mutually exclusive. It’s frustrating to feel as though you have accepted and dealt with an experience and then years later something surfaces that causes you to re-experience it in a new and painful way. I generally love JP Sears for his sarcastic humor but as an old friend told me once, there’s a little truth in every joke. As JP talks in the video (link below) about trying to keep his family together as a child but being powerless to do it, I identify with this feeling of powerlessness because it has been my struggle many times too. I was powerless to prevent a horrific crime and yet plagued by guilt that it was my responsibility to have done so. This was recently identified to me as “survivor’s guilt”, a form of PTSD, and that’s exactly what it is – feeling guilty that I lived and someone else didn’t and not feeling worthy of this life because of that irrational guilt/shame. It means I’ve spent a lot of energy self-sabotaging and wasted a lot of time I could’ve been helping others. I’ve spent a great deal of time this year developing mindfulness and practicing meditation and gratitude and getting some amazing mindset motivation from incredible coaches like Sophie Kessner ,Valerie Santiago and Simon Lovell. I believe these practices have helped me identify some insecurities and thanks to BrenĂ© Brown‘s work in vulnerability and perfectionism rooted in shame and guilt, I know it’s important that I’m willing to to share my stories – not for sympathy or attention but to help others. Don’t worry, I won’t be starting Facebook diary – but I will allow myself to be open to sharing things with certain people privately when/if I believe it can serve them in a positive way. I’ve finally allowed myself to feel things I’ve avoided and to sit with my emotions-most of which has been extremely unpleasant but in doing so I’ve learned so much about myself and my resilience. Trust me when I tell you this didn’t happen overnight — it’s been an incredible several months long journey. I’m not sure I’ve arrived at my finish line but I have embraced the courage to run my own race and finish strong, which ironically means being willing to be vulnerable. My health depends on this because I’ve learned about significant scientific connections between trauma and stress and unchecked emotions triggering autoimmune disease, which likely explains my diagnosis this year. Because of this, I now make mindfulness, meditation, gratitude and stress management major areas of focus when working with my clients.

When I was a child, I learned that my paternal grandfather lost his life at the young age of 25, I think, to Leukemia. My dad was very young so never really knew him. I decided back then that when I grew up, I wanted to find the cure to Leukemia and other forms of cancer. Unfortunately, a lot of “life” happened and I got derailed on that goal. Fast forward a few decades and I’m finishing up a bible study by Chrystal Evans Hurst (Priscilla Shirer’s sister) called “She’s Still There – Rescuing the Girl In You” and somehow it occurs to me that the coaching work I do and will do helping people with their nutrition and mindset and health may in reality help them heal the emotional cancers in their lives that manifest physically. That seed which was planted in that little girl so long ago is just now being germinated after laying dormant for so many years. I thought it was gone. I pictured lab coats and beakers but face to face and heart to heart may be the key. In Jennie Allen’s study, “Proven” she recounts the story of the woman at the well in John 4. I’ve heard this story many times but Jennie’s take on it defines my new reality. “At some point in her time with Jesus, this woman went from wandering and searching and hiding to free and engaged and purposeful. She had probably been going to the well alone for years, hoping to hide from the whispers and judgement. But after being with Jesus, she boldly ran back to the town and shared the very thing she had been trying to hide from them and she was even joyful about it! She went from shame and hiding to being fully known; from avoiding people to engaging everyone around her; from thirsty for someone to fill her needs to completely satisfied; from rejected to accepted; from embarrassed to overflowing with joy”
She no longer had anything to prove and neither do I; we get to exchange beauty for ashes – thank God! My old stories of guilt/shame for circumstances beyond my control or responsibility are no longer serving me and it’s time to let them go. Kyle Cease shared this sentiment recently, ” I can’t control what someone thinks about me but I can can control whether I’m ok with what someone thinks of me. I can control whether I am arguing with my past or accepting of my past. I can’t change what my past is, but I can control how I feel about it in this moment” – AND I LOVE THAT! If you read this far, thank you. I appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts for me on this journey because I know it’s easy to turn back and stay stuck where we don’t want to be just because it’s comfortable. PS. Dear Younger Me, I forgive you. I love you.