Shine Your Light.

Background:

Our gift to shine our uniquely own light here in this life sometimes gets overshadowed. Having spent a week in March at an intensive coaching course with 10 other women, and 1 very open-minded guy, I am blown away by the messages that we all somehow internalize, prohibiting us from shining true.  I watched several of my classmates process inner blocks, emotions, and reach for growth. It was beautiful. It was freeing. The general theme throughout these blocks included the I am not enough, I am not deserving, I shouldn’t shine. 

About Arial Starr:

When I wrote and released my first book this year, Dream Big, Live Large, Love More-15 Lessons Learned: Memoirs from a Truck Driver’s Daughter, my vision was to empower others by sharing my story, provide writing and art prompts, to encourage others to be true to themselves. I wanted to be a voice of empowerment for people to share their inner love and light. By being your true, raw self, you are providing this world with the energy that we all need to stay interconnected with divine love. And when I wrote this book, I don’t know that I believed in myself to share my story with the world. I just wanted to put it ‘out to the universe’ and see what happened. 

Vision of Inner Peace on a Bigger Level:

Last fall, right after the shootings in Las Vegas, I was reading a lot of research discussing the role that social isolation and loneliness plays in our health and mortality, and, learning that the feeling of shame can play a major role in violence1-2. I began to think about the role social media and the internet plays in these topics. I started doing research on how social media can be a positive connector if it provokes interaction amongst others, but can contribute to feelings of social isolation, loneliness and negative self worth if people simply peruse and consume social media feeds without interaction3. I have thought about the strength and power in numbers positive thinking.  What if, as a collective whole, we vibrated at a radiant strength and power of love? What if that meant self-love, self-recognition, and permission to be our true, shining, vibrant selves without shame or guilt? What if fear was set aside for just a portion of the day, with masses of people just being their genuine loving beings? Could we override the negative shit that fills our brains, our comparison-itis, negative self talk that ensues on a daily basis? What if we could honor our true light, without shame or guilt? And, how do we get to this place of peace and inner acceptance? Well… my best guess is through the power of positive thinking, positive reinforcement and meditation to calm those beastly negative thoughts that get in our own way. 

Supporting Research

I was intrigued. The inner researcher in me started looking into the possibility of trying to reach more people to spread this message of love. Hutcherson et al that determined that spending just a few minutes of love and kindness meditation has the ability to impact our social interconnectedness 4. I came across a landmark study from Hagen et al conducted in Washington DC in the 1990’s. In this study a group of Transcendational Mediation experts sat for 2 weeks, holding positive intentions for the city in efforts to reduce homicides, rapes and assaults (HRA crimes). The result? It worked. Over the 2-week period of time, these HRA crimes dropped at times as much as 23.3% 5. Further reading on the Maharishi Effect determined that there is a critical number shown in some research referred to as the super radiance equation where there can be a positive impact. The equation suggests that in order for there to be an effect on the meditation, the number of people required to come together with positive frequency is estimated to be the square root of 1% of the population 6. In the case of the United States this would have equated at the time to approximately 1700 people meditating during the Hagen et al study. However, over the course of the 2 week study, nearly 4000 people showed up at the Capital to participate (essentially 57% more people than the predicted threshold of the radiance). 

Arial Starr's Vision: Shine Your Light Day 

With a little math (not my strongest suit) and the help of a few websites to determine the square root of the US population (currently estimated at 326,141,301 by http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/), I have decided that I would like Arial Starr to reach at the very least 1800 to spread the message of love, self love and appreciation, mediation and peace on the same day. However, just as the threshold of radiance was exceeded in Hagen’s study, my goal would be to actually reach 10,000 people with this message.  My vision to help mitigate violence, promote interconnectedness and peace will begin by trying to reach at least 10,000 people on July 9, 2018.  On this day at 8:00 AM PST, I would like people to stop what they are doing, take 2 minutes to pause, close your eyes, and focus on breathing while honoring your inner light and respecting you. I will put together a guided meditation for this day and occasion and will post here online and through as many resources as I can. However, a simple Kundalini saying may help guide the practice: 

May the long time sun

Shine upon you,

All love surround you,

And the pure light within you

Guide your way on.

There are so many ways that we can help support each other and promote a more peaceful and loving existence. Spending time to believe in ourselves and in each other is just one simple and beautiful way that we can have a positive impact on the world. 


References: 


1) Brown, B. (2017). Braving the wilderness: the quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone. London: Vermilion.

2) Valtorta, N. K., Kanaan, M., Gilbody, S., Ronzi, S., & Hanratty, B. (2016). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies. Heart, 102(13), 1009-1016.

3) Social Network Sites and Well-Being: The Role of Social Connection. Jenna L. Clark, Sara B. Algoe, and Melanie C. Green. Current Directions in Psychological Science. Vol 27, Issue 1, pp. 32 - 37.

4) Hutcherson, C. A., Seppala, E. M., & Gross, J. J. (2008). Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness. Emotion, 8(5), 720.

5) Hagelin, J. S., Rainforth, M. V., Cavanaugh, K. L., Alexander, C. N., Shatkin, S. F., Davies, J. L., ... & Orme-Johnson, D. W. (1999). Effects of group practice of the transcendental meditation program on preventing violent crime in Washington, DC: Results of the National Demonstration Project, June--July 1993. Social Indicators Research, 47(2), 153-201.

6) Schneider, R. S., Charles, B., Sands, D., Gerace, D. D., Averbach, R. E., & Rothenberg, S. (1997). The significance of the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health for modern health care and medical education. Mod Sci Vedic Sci, 7(1), 299-315.

Shine Your Light Day: August 9th, 2018.

Theme: Stand Together With Love.

Background:

In 2004 I was 24 years old, lost, confused and 100% heart broken. I’d spent the previous six years busting ass, going through my undergrad program while commuting ‘the hill’ from Aptos, CA to San Francisco three times a week. I had been rehabbing my way through three seemingly endless knee surgeries the entire time I was in college. My sights had been set for years on getting into to UC San Francisco for their physical therapy program, and somehow, sitting in my sublet room one block away from Parnassus Ave, listening to the MUNI shake the building every 30 minutes, I wasn’t sure anymore.

I think the prestige of going to such an amazing school had lured me there, but 2/3 of the way through my first semester, I found myself completely burned out, craving the surf I missed in Santa Cruz, and hating the summer fog that chilled me to the bone. My heart hurt from a recent break up, and I felt totally and utterly scared and confused about what to do ‘next’. My inner wisdom told me that pushing through a 3 year grad program in the shape that I was in wasn’t going to work. And so reluctantly, fearfully, I met with the dean of the program and withdrew from the program that I had worked so hard for the prior years to get to.

Travel and Priviledge 

I didn’t know exactly what steps to take next, and luckily my family was really supportive and understanding that I was at a really difficult crossroads. My heart pulled me to travel, and so within a few months, I found my way to the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica where I was able to restore my heart, soul, and faith in human connection. Between the years of 2004-2008 I couldn’t tell you how many months exactly I spent in Costa Rica, but I just know it was a lot. I openly admit I was working ‘under the table’ for 3 different employers there teaching surf lessons and working as a massage therapist. My employer took care of my housing, and the monies I made covered my expenses not only there, but most of my rent in the States too. I walked everywhere on the beach, I listened to howler monkeys in the trees and I made incredible friendships that lasted a lifetime.  I am not writing this to gloat, I am just stating the facts.

Many of my ex-pat friends did similar things, working under the table, and instead of revisiting the USA every 3 months when their tourist visa ran out, they’d just take a bus to Nicaragua for a few days, and then come back into the country.  Sometimes my friends would argue with me that I was taking a job away from them, and I don’t think I really understood it then. I figured they were late and showing up hungover half the time, so in my mind, until they got their shit together, I didn’t feel overly bad. Well… That probably wasn’t the most sustainable way to look at things, and in hindsight, I can see how hard the locals have had to work to regain employment in THEIR town. I will say, that in efforts to give back to the community that gave me so much, I did spend 3 months volunteering in their local hospital after I had gone through my graduate education, which helped me to feel validated in some ways for my actions, but not entirely.

I’m telling this story because it was my experience, my first foray into living and working in a foreign country. I travelled to Costa Rica by choice, from a place of priviledge, and on my own terms. I would be lying if I didn’t consider immigrating there, but at 24 years old, didn’t really have my shit together to figure out a lawyer, and move through with the whole process. And, frankly, after being outside of the US for an extended period of time, I came to appreciate a lot of things from my home country, and understood that I really had a lot of opportunity here despite my gripes about cost, crowds, cold weather (really?)..

Today

Flash-forward 13 years to June 2018. News was being spread about immigrant families being separated at our borders, children taken away from their parents, deported to other detainment facilities, and the chaos that ensued from tearing apart families who may or may not have understood the language.

Brene Brown, one of my favorite researchers posted a story about her husband’s experience with hearing the cries that came from one of these detainment facilities1. Her husband with 20+ years as a pediatrician could hear the cries of terror and trauma from these children. Her post still as I write this gives me chills.

The News

During the week of June 17th thru June 23rd, I couldn’t get off the internet. I was wide eyed with disbelief, and felt stuck in what I could or couldn’t do to help. I thought about all the childhood development and psychology classes I took throughout the 8 years of college and graduate education which taught the vital importance of connections that are made between children and their parents for normal and healthy emotional and physical development.  I thought about Harlow’s monkey study that is classically taught as an example of the need of human loving touch and comfort during childhood.2 I read headlines that disclosed that the workers in the detainment facilities were instructed not to contact the children that were held there.

Trauma

As outrage poured from concerned citizens across America, the Trump administration thankfully back peddled on some of their ‘no tolerance’ policies, despite finger pointing and creating a distraction of blame as to this being a political party issue not a human rights issue.3 Thankfully families began to reunite, but unfortunately the damage had been done.  The trauma for these children and their families had already occurred. The international society for Traumatic Stress Studies defines Childhood Trauma as:

…negative events that are emotionally painful and that overwhelm a person’s ability to cope…The types of trauma that end to have the greatest adverse psychological consequences are those related to interpersonal or intentional trauma. These include childhood abuse and neglect. Childhood Abuse are events when children are threatened or harmed by those charged with their care or who are in a position of power or authority over them.4

I wasn’t present in any of the detainment facilities to witness how these children were treated, and so I am in no way arguing that the workers in the facilities were intentionally or classically abused to these children. However, by default of the order to separate these children from their parents, during critical development periods of their lives, where parental nurture and care is critical to development, I believe the situation to not only be traumatic, but abusive.

Fear

In writing this, I have had to stop several times due to heavy heart and tears. I wish I could be stronger about this topic, but it shakes me to my core. The actions of separating families and children are oh so reminiscent of what I learned in a textbook from the warm seat of my high school desk about Nazi Germany. The concept of sorting and scapegoating, creating divide amongst a nation is the very recipe for war as seen in WWII and others, as history tends to repeat itself.

In disbelief, when Time published on June 22nd, their Exclusive: ‘Navy Document Shows Plan to Erect ‘Austere’ Detention Camps’, disclosing that several facilities were being planned across the US to detain illegal immigrants, at the cost of 29 million dollars per 25,000 immigrants, my stomach wretched in disbelief.5 Not only did I see childhood trauma and abuse, but a public health disaster waiting to happen and at the cost of the taxpayers dollar while some private entity likely made hand over fist fortune. I would much prefer handing out $1000.00 to each immigrant family that was detained and saying, here, go hire a lawyer and do this the ‘legal’ way.  I haven’t had to hire a lawyer and go through the process of immigrating here, but if it’s anything like I have seen for trying to immigrate to other Central American countries, it’s probably not easy or affordable.

My Truth

I debated about writing this post for about a month now for a few reasons. The first reason (and easiest to fall back on) is that during this whole episode in our country’s history, I was recovering from a massive back surgery and physically unable to join a protest or go to a detainment facility to help. Ironically, due to the nature of my injury, I had been forced out of the country to undergo the surgery just a week prior to this, I had returned to the US with so much gratitude for being able to travel to Central America to receive outstanding medical care. So while I felt ‘forced’ to leave the country to receive care I chose to go out of the country under calm pretenses. I had even considered heavily immigrating to the very country I had my surgery in (Panama) for the value of better medical care and a more peaceful way of life. HOWEVER, my family wasn’t in harms way, there are plenty of opportunities here in the US for me, I don’t have a gang trying to recruit my children or a drug lord manipulating my future. I didn’t have any of that. I just had a desire to see what else was out there in the world and was warmly greeted, welcomed and cared for in a way that positively changed my life.

The second reason it’s taken me some time to write this is is a mix of feelings about my privilege attached to my experiences in Costa Rica in my 20’s, and now in Panama in my 30’s. My experience as a healthcare provider in multiple hospital settings throughout southern California, is that I have cared for many of the very immigrants and their families that are affected by this issue. I have had heart-to-heart conversations with patients who told me about their journeys to leave Mexico, literally crawling through sewers (that is not just from a movie) to come here, so that they could establish a job, a fake social security number to pay in (not necessarily receiving out) to our retirement systems, and earn the monies that they needed to bring the rest of their families here. Some of these patients told me how proud they were when they finally could pass the test they had to take to complete the process. On gentleman told me he failed the first time, and asked me if I knew the answers of some of the questions that they struggled with… and I didn’t.  Many of the stories I have heard over the years had the same theme… that they wanted to become US Citizens, but, that the journey wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of time.

The third and most difficult reason to be open about I openly admit that my fear in being honest and open is a fear of retaliation, anger, rage, and insult in discussing this. Again, I wish I could say I was stronger, and I cry readily and easily about this issue for so many reasons. I am not here to change your mind about immigration, guns, walls, or political debate. You have Facebook for those debates, and I doubt that any of those arguments are ones with positive outcomes. I am writing this because as a white woman, I have realized I have to use my voice to speak out and create change through the choice of love.

Shine Your Light Day: Stand Together With Love.

Last month I began Shine Your Light day on July 9th, a movement that I hope to grow and spread to 10,000 people over the next year. The idea is this: take 2 minutes to unplug, quiet your mind, and honor not only your inner light, who you are on the inside, BUT another minute to send love to a group of people/friends/family that you care about. I plan to take these 2 minutes on the 9th of every month at 8am PST/ 11am EST for the next year and am asking others to join. This August, I will be spending my 2nd minute sending love to the families and children who have been separated at our borders and ask that you join me in standing together with love on this issue. 

References: 

1)Brenebrown. “What’s Happening To These Families” Instagram. June 19,2018. https://www.instagram.com/p/BkOF1SaHXqM/?taken-by=brenebrown.

2) Harlow, H. (1959). Love in Infant Monkeys. Scientific American,200(6), 68-75. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/26309508

3) Salvador, Rizzo. June 19th, 2018. The facts about Trump’s policy of separating families at the border. The Washington Post. Retrieved from URL https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/06/19/the-facts-about-trumps-policy-of-separating-families-at-the-border/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a3f5eb28da80

4) International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Accessed June 21, 2018. What is Childhood Trauma? What is Childhood Abuse?. Retrieved from URL http://www.istss.org/public-resources/remembering-childhood-trauma/what-is-childhood-trauma.aspx.

5) Elliot, Philip, Hennigan W.J. June 22, 2018. Exclusive: Navy Document Shows Plan to Erect ‘Austere’ Detention Camps. Time. Retrieved from URL http://time.com/5319334/navy-detainment-centers-zerol-tolerance-immigration-family-separation-policy/.


Shine Your Light Day: September 9th, 2018.

Theme: Nature Your Soul..

Background:

Summer used to be my favorite season. Long days, beautiful evenings, and incredible time spent on the coast growing up in Maine were landmarks of my favorite season. I would cherish every minute with my friends who traveled from other states to spend time on the Island I lived on. And as September neared, a bittersweet feeling that winter was approaching would sink into my bones and a sadness would begin to sink in as I realized how fast the time had flown by.  

Flash forward 20 years, and I am finally unravelling this myth that summer is my favorite season whilst living in Southern California. It finally dawned on me this year that for about 5 years, every summer, my husband and I experience a sense of angst, edginess and urge to flee from southern California between the months of June-September. Traffic, crowds, rude people, recent increased heat and humidity, lack of peace, congestion at the beach, massive wild fires, and many other external environmental stressors would thwart my best attempts to enjoy my once favorite season. 

Summer Blues: 

This year these uncomfortable feelings were felt even more strongly as I felt stranded at my house post-operatively from a back surgery. Calm walks on the beach in the evening were replaced with defensive fear that a teenager and a Smash-ball or frisbee would come careening into me and knock me off my fragile balance that I was trying to rebuild from my injury. The heat from our supposed ‘non-existent climate change’ (eh-hem) stifled my creativity at home as I huddled around our air conditioner. I meandered to our community pool to try and cool off, only to be disillusioned by murky grey pool water and shrieking (as they should be) children who were cannonballing into the pool with utter joy. My soul began to crave with insatiable desire space, fresh air, nature, human connection, peace, solitude and calmness. 

Environmental Stress:

 I spent about a week in early July trying to convince myself that this feeling/desire/need was far reached and not real. I have everything I need right here, I kept telling myself. Be more grateful I told myself. Stop complaining, I sneered back to my soul. My inner conflict wasn’t resolving itself, and the more I tried to quiet the need for space and nature, the worse it got. So I stopped fighting it, got quiet, and decided to listen. Maybe my body DID know what was best. I started pondering this concept of environmental stress1which at the time, I didn’t realize was something that is thoroughly studied and a very real concept.  I thought about how medical research discusses the negative impact of chronic stress.  I thought about our sympathetic fight or flight response and how I always attributed that to situational events… work, family, money stressors.. But, I thought, what if our environment increases our baseline stress to the point that it puts us into a chronic stage of fight or flight.  The thought started to make sense to me, and I stopped trying to fight the voices in my head that my feelings about summer in southern California were irrational. 

I started to dig into a little research from psychologist Judith Orloff from her book The Empath’s Survival Guide 2.Orlow, who holds a PhD in psychology relates how certain people whom she coins as empaths live with more sensitive nervous systems. These people are often more sensitive to certain situations such as confrontation, people with negative emotional output, or simply overstimulation, resulting in complete overwhelm or energetic drain.  I believe as Orloff does that there is a spectrum of sensitivity, which depending on where you genetically may fall, can make something like a busy summer season, filled with packed beaches, shrieking children and stray frisbees, congested freeways and overfilled parking lots combined with late night noises from neighboring barbecues seem utterly exhausting. 


So what does one do???..

I questioned. I wrestled with my feelings of fear to retreat to a more quiet environment because of work, needing some of the amenities offered in a busier city, and for me, I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I wish wasn’t real, but dang it… it is. So I find myself in a quandary. I know that cold, grey and cloudy climates (which tend to be slower paced places) don’t seem to suit me, but neither does hot, muggy, and busy. I find myself wishing I was more ‘normal’ and could tolerate crowds better.. I curse the depression that I know so well that can come up in the long grey skies that I knew them growing up in Maine (and San Diego this past winter too). 

I can reflect on all the times I have ‘left’ San Diego to relocate to less crowded, cooler, cheaper, more water-flourished areas… only to find myself coming back to north county San Diego by mid-winter when it seems to be heavenly compared to sub-zero temps found in the northeast or the mountains. Why the hell are you so freaking sensitive Shane..?  Grow a pair.How have you been here on Earth nearly 40 years and you’ve been able to ‘fight’ this until now?  What are you going to do, live in 2 places..?? Wait a minute.. Is that a solution to this? 

Migration Patterns: 

Then I started to think about migration.. our ancestors migrated, Native Americans moved from place to place based on weather and resource availability. What if we have a genetic predisposition to migrate, but over the years of evolving, we temporarily shut down our genetic coding for this survival strategy? We have built our cities and communities to offer all the basic resources that we need, creating stability in staying put in one place, with a single employer and school, and over time perhaps we have convinced ourselves that our environment wasn’t part of our DNA anymore. I dug further and found that there are newer research studies that specifically link the environmental changes that are occurring with the need for humans to respond with plasticity in their behavior 3.

What if environmental overwhelm actually was a legitimate contributor to our overall mental and physical well-being? What if those pangs we feel to escape are there to protect us rather than taunt us. What if genotypic expression of dis-ease could be mitigated by environmental adaptation or plasticity?  We have begun to see clearly the link between chronic disease to prolonged fight-or-flight, stress, or even eating poorly. Yet, we have not acknowledged as a culture that for some of us, ‘one size fits all’ location may be just as much of a long-term stressor than some of the more obvious choices.


SOUL-ution

By mid July, I had processed enough, listened to my body enough, that I decided that there was no better time than the present to explore this inner conflict and find resolution. I packed a small bag and headed north with my husband to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. Upon arrival there, my whole body exhaled a sigh of relief. The bright blue skies contrasted against the majestic and jagged stance of the Tetons was mesmerizing. I felt a deep sense of peace being able to stare out at the valley floor covered with wildflowers and observing bison in their true habitat (as opposed to the imported ones I’ve been used to living on Catalina Island) was the medicine my soul really needed.  

I thought a week of connecting with nature would be sufficient. I thought that the recharge would get me through this little speed bump of frustration I felt at home, so I came home to San Diego. But, upon returning home, I couldn’t help but to continue to crave more solitude with every crowded interaction and energetic environmental overwhelm that I was feeling. 

Again, I felt myself tense up: stop living in la-la land and get back to reality, come on..  But then I realized, this is my reality. I am healing my back injury. I have to remember day in and day out, that it’s not just the physical structures that are healing from a 4 hour surgery, but the energetic wounds that developed over a 10 year course of burnout and exhaustion. Rather than fight the urge to go back to a peaceful environment, filling myself with hatred for my sensitivity towards ‘summer’, I opted to listen and went back to the mountains. 

So here I am.. with indefinite plans to stay here with my husband until I feel the desire to return back to the warm climate of San Diego, or perhaps stay here indefinitely. I don’t really know. I wake every morning and remind myself to live today, in the moment. Do what I need to do TODAY to feel good, live, nourish and heal. 

This summer, I have truly learned that nurturing your soul is a critical health maintenance issue that we tend to neglect because our productive, formal, on-paper lives demand that we do. Don’t forget, though, our body remembers and keeps score. There are countless research studies that delve into the benefits of resetting our nervous systems through connection to nature 4-6. Each one of us lives at a certain spectrum of sensitivity, and so for some, thriving may mean living in the center of a bustling city, and for others, full time in a small town works. My point of this is that there is a spectrum, and some of us may fit somewhere on that line between each of those extremes. 


Shine & Nature Your Light

Regardless of where you are living, based, or trying to get to though, I believe that in each and everyone of us is genetic code that pulls us towards nature. Over time and evolution we can mixup productivity from our true calling, our creative side, and from spending time in harmony with nature. When we are thirsty, we drink water. When we feel stifled by crowds, bored or frustrated, it's a sign it's time to find our true north again. 

REFERENCES:

1) Evans, G. W. (Ed.). (1984). Environmental stress. CUP Archive.

2) Orloff, J. (2017). The empath's survival guide: Life strategies for sensitive people. (Midwest Best Sellers.)

3) Wong, B., & Candolin, U. (2015). Behavioral responses to changing environments. Behavioral       Ecology26(3), 665-673.

4) Baum, A., & Davis, G. E. (1980). Reducing the stress of high-density living: An architectural intervention. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology38(3), 471.

5) Jiang, B., Chang, C. Y., & Sullivan, W. C. (2014). A dose of nature: Tree cover, stress reduction, and gender differences. Landscape and Urban Planning132, 26-36.

6) Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of psychosomatic research57(1), 35-43.

Life Is Precious..

This last month has been filled with several reminders of how precious our time here on Earth truly is. So often, I find myself getting swept up in the action steps of how to move forwards with my health, my career, my marriage.. It’s dizzying some days how quickly my head is bouncing from one topic to the next, taking for granted while making these plans for my future that the people, animals, and comforts that I am assuming are ‘stable’ or ‘stationary’ will be there too.

Three weeks ago, my husband and I were in the mix of making a decision about moving or staying in San Diego, accepting or not accepting new jobs, and arguing about some trivial thing pertaining to the infestation of ants in our kitchen, when the shoe dropped. My dog Buster came down with a unilateral nose bleed, which lead to a veterinary scavenger hunt to figure out what was wrong.. ending in a lung cancer diagnosis. On the same day, a very close family member received ominous news that she had a large cancerous tumor growing inside after a scary trip to the ER. And then, a day later, a colleague of mine dropped dead from a heart attack while mountain biking with his family. EVERYTHING can change sooooooo very fast.

My husband and I put the brakes on the moving, the job search, and had to get very clear about what we intended for our eldest dog’s remainder of life. I had to realize that he, and my family member(s), and myself are not immortal. I realized that all the chaos that we can create inadvertently needs to be slowed, or managed at least. This month, as autumn has crept in, another summer has gone by, and the realization that life is so very precious, I have been reminded of 2 things:

1) Don’t take for granted the loved ones in your life..have gratitude for the time you get to be here with them. We are given this beautiful life, and it can so quickly be cluttered with non-important things that take us away from our soul purpose and our intention to love.

2) Live your life from a place of happiness…Life is way too short to live in anger, fear, resentment, if only I ‘did’ x, y, or z.. Or, the ‘I’ll be happy when _______’

I took a moment to ask myself, ‘Am I truly happy’? and when I thought about it, my answer was mixed. Recovering from an injury, embarking on a career shift/ change, being overwhelmed with ‘how is this all going to come together and work’ thoughts had taken me away from the ‘big picture’. I was seeking happiness in a situation down the road, and not living in the moment. Happiness for me these days comes down to the simplest things: live with love, live in the moment, honor and cherish the little things or people in your life that bring joy.. whether that is a walk on the beach with your dog, or simply saying hello to the cashier at the grocery store that you’ve known for years. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Unfortunately, our culture in the United States is not built on moving slowly, and taking things in, and having gratitude for simplicity and love. Trying to slow things down and live with this intention is often is met with resistance as survival these days practically demands speed. Living from a place of simple joy is a choice that isn’t always supported by our external environments. Nonetheless, I invite you this month on Shine-Your-Light Day to take a few moments to honor your loved ones in your life, and to reflect on what brings you joy and happiness.


Enjoy The Journey.. 

This month has been full of life changes.. I've found myself on several occasions thinking about, 'just get through this and then_________'.. or looking back and thinking, "I wish I had ________'. In reality, everything is just so for a reason, and whether you're in the middle of 1 crisis or a 100, there's a reason, a journey, and a purpose (whether or not it's big and obvious or just happens to fit in somewhere down the road) for most all. 

So this month is about staying in the moment, enjoying the journey that you may be on, and remembering to be present in all that we do. 


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Tracy - March 25, 2018

I can’t wait to be a part of this! July 9 is my mom’s birthday. ❤️

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