I am sitting in a hotel room in Minneapolis and it is -2 degrees outside.  The Mall of America is just minutes from my hotel and yet I am sitting here snuggled in my comforter.  The voice that shows up in my head says, “You should get up and get ready.  You should go do something.  Go see the roller coaster…experience life.  You should go check out this or that. You should go meet people.  You are here to do business…get up, go.” And while I would not be thrilled to go out into the frigid weather, that is not the reason I am sitting here still.

There is an energy out there that challenges each and every one of us.  The mentality of having to do more, be more, push to be better, accomplish and achieve, produce on all levels, and prove ourselves and our worth is at times damaging.  The nature of our immediate satisfaction world, coupled with our fast paced lives filled with texts and conversations and posts, creates pressure.  We often experience life in terms of “How would I post this on Facebook?  I have to take a picture for Instagram.”  We love it and we hate it.  I know I am not the only one that fills overwhelmed by the notifications, the emails, the voicemails, the calls at times.  I crave the connections and want to be a part of it, yet sometimes I just want to hide.

I have learned that it is hard for me to be still.  It is hard to disconnect and say, “I’m done.  I need to pull back.  I am regrouping over here and I am not going to push.  I am going to lean in to being still.”

Stillness is critical yet so uncomfortable.  Stillness is just being and feeling and listening.  Stillness is quieting the bossy voice inside and instead gently speaking to our spirit.  “It is good to be still.  Just be.  Just breathe.  Don’t reach for that phone.  It can all wait.  Right now we are just focused on being still.”

I am going to be still.  I have spent the last few years flying here or there, doing all I can, leaving no stone unturned.  I have lived every day to the max and thought that this was wholehearted living.  I thought if I did all I could do, and experienced everything possibly and didn’t waste a moment, I would eventually strike a balance.  I wanted to play full out and I did.  I have given everyone and everything all I had.  We have scheduled time for work and learned to schedule time for play. We made sure that there were times where we were having fun, believing that this would prevent burnout.  And it wasn’t bad, there was plenty of fun and I liked parts of it.

I believed that there was always more I could give because I had learned to rely so greatly on God.  If I didn’t have the desire or energy, He did.  And He came through so many times.  Things I have done would not have happened without his abundant help.  I am not sure at what point it happened, but somewhere along the way I became someone who never stopped, who decided things were okay even when they weren’t.  I pushed even when I didn’t want to.  I faced fears and I ignored my own needs thinking they were small and didn’t matter.  “It’s okay,” I would tell myself.  “I should be happy I get to do these things.  I will have time to relax later.  I can keep going.  It’s only a little bit of time…it will only take me a few minutes to do this for this person…it will be fine…I am happy, I am blessed, I am where I belong.”

And I sort of was, but not completely.  Imagine a symphony only playing in one loud dramatic volume.  It might be fun for a one song, but an entire concert of loud masterpieces would not satisfy the soul.  The best symphonies draw you in with crescendos and decrescendos.  You are able to feel the music in the quiet parts.  The variety of volume is critical to enjoying the experience and certain emotions can only be felt when it is quiet.

I have had a few friends in the last month announce on Facebook, “I’m disconnecting.  Things are fine, but I need to focus elsewhere.  I need to be away from my phone.  I will be back but I am taking a break for a few days.”  I respect that action but think it shows what a crazy world we live in when we have to announce that we need some space.  We all need to give ourselves permission to pull back, to slow down and to be still.  I think it would be awesome if we could just say, “Hey!  This is a still day for me.  I need to check out so I can come back refreshed.”  We could all support each other and say, “Yeah! Still days are the best!  You deserve it!  Enjoy! We will be here when you get back.  Don’t worry about responding to any of our messages and we won’t judge if you are being still for an extended period of time.”  Instead of just celebrating the weekend, we could celebrate Still Days.

Here is my problem, I think I swung so far to the side of being busy and producing and serviceable and engaged that now I crave a huge amount of stillness.  And it is the type of stillness that can’t be ignored. It started brewing last March when  I remember telling my husband, “If we do not disconnect in a major way this summer, I feel like I will snap.  It is critical for me to just have time off where I can’t be reached and where I can just be me.”

We made plans to disconnect from our lives in a big way.  We rented our San Diego home out to our beach-loving friends and we left for about 7 weeks.  We drove through California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and Idaho.  Justin flew to Oklahoma and Florida to teach a couple classes and I flew to Washington and Texas.  Then we took our entire family to Aruba for 2 weeks where we recharged.  I felt the trickles coming back in and I celebrated that we had been brave enough to listen to the voice inside that said it was time to rest.  We left Aruba and flew to Virginia where we visited a brand new niece and toured DC in a blitz. From DC, we flew to Atlanta and then drove to South Carolina to visit my Aunt’s bed and breakfast.  Although she hasn’t hung a shingle out, it is better than a real bed and breakfast.  She is a trained chef and we enjoyed her hospitality and the nearby beach. Back to Atlanta for a few business meetings, then finally a flight home to LA where we picked up our car and drove to San Diego.

A magical, unforgettable summer with plenty of breaks, lots of beach time, and a bit of work mixed in.  It was wonderful and yet, when we returned home, my cup was still not full.  Six months later I discovered why.  Although I had insisted upon pulling back and doing less, inside I had so much self judgement about that choice.

I felt bad that I was tapped out and could not give anymore.  I felt bad that I wanted to be still when sitting on a beach and didn’t even desire to chase my kids.  I felt good that I had gotten away but felt bad that I needed the break so bad.  And if you read the schedule we kept, it was both invigorating and exhausting.  And not one time last summer did I tell myself, “I need this.  I deserve this.  It is okay to be still.  Of course you don’t want to run on the beach and it is okay!”  I was never compassionate towards myself.

I justified the experience with thoughts like: “It is good to create family memories so it is okay that we are doing this.  It is giving me time to read and reconnect to God.  I am doing this so I will be ready to go again.”  Those things are all good and true but there was a layer of self-judgement in every city we visited.

I am retraining my thoughts.  I am embracing the days where I get to be still.  I am releasing the self judgement and practicing self compassion.  I am letting go of doing being and having, and just leaning in to the stillness.  I am seeing that God knew what we needed when he said, “Be Still and know that I God.”  He knew there would be people like me who would not know when to say, “Enough is enough.”  He knew that we would be in a busy world with all the contacts we could possibly want coming from a tiny little i-Phone.  He knew that we would crave success and peace and not know where to find it.  He knew that we would engage in good things and still not live whole heartedly.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  I always thought that meant to stop your worrying and trust God to handle things.  I think it also means to literally be still.  Stop. Rest. Be still and trust that He can watch over things for you.  Trust that if you need to be still, He is not going anywhere.  He will still love you because He is God.

He wants us to not just lean in to the stillness, but to actually lean in to Him.  And I thought I was doing that the last few years.  Before committing to working with clients or to being at an event, I would always check in with God.  I could close my eyes in an instant and know if the opportunity was a good fit for me.  But I quit checking in with myself.  I quit asking myself what I really wanted, thinking that if God was good with the plan, I would be good too.  I still think that is true, but I think we were given a brain and a heart that were meant to be used.  We were meant to be involved in our lives and to use our agency.   Now I am bringing my own feelings to the table, knowing that whatever I am feeling is okay and understood by God.  Now I can say, “I’m needing to be still, and I am going to let this one thing go.”I feel the peace come in and I know that God is with me.

When my spirit says, “I’m tired and I want to rest.” I am resting without judging myself for not being motivated to do more.  When my spirit says, “I don’t want to get dressed,”  I am saying a pajama day is okay.  When my spirit says, “I am scared,” I am asking questions and being gentle with myself. When I think, “It’s too cold to go outside!  I don’t want to go anywhere!” I am looking a little deeper.  I am doing a heart check and asking myself what I am really feeling.

I acknowledge that I don’t love the cold here in Minneapolis, but really I want to sit in my little hotel room and just be still. The need to be still is greater than my dislike of cold and snow.   The old me would say, “You have all this time away from kids!  Do the things you can’t get done with them – launch that program, make those calls, go run the errands you can’t get done! Go, go, go!!!”  The new me recognizes that while I don’t get as much done when I am surrounded by my littles, I also don’t rest as much.  With three children and a busy family, still moments are few and far between and a still day is nearly unheard of.  It makes perfect sense to me that when I know they are taken care of and I have a comfy bed to sit in, I would want to just be still.  It is okay for me to lean in to the stillness.

I have discovered that half my problem with being still was the judgments I was making towards myself in those moments.  When we step into self judgement, we do not feel peaceful, accepted, loved, or loving.  It is natural to judge ourselves, but I believe we have to take the next step of self compassion.  Learning and practicing self compassion has helped me to be braver, to love myself and other more, and to be okay with it is happening right now in the moment.

It has since started snowing since I began this journal.  There is no way I am going outside now.  It is a good thing I have such a comfy place to hole up and be still.

Each morning, I wake up and do my morning ritual.  I stretch my body and connect to God.  I read the scriptures and I feed myself positive energy.  And then I step into the bathroom and see the scale in the corner.  I have stepped on that scale thousands of times.   You know how it goes, you have been there too.  I step on the scale, willing it to be nice. “Be nice! Please just be a number I can deal with.”  “Go down!” I plead, especially if I ate the “right ways” the day before.  “What?!!!  I only had green smoothies, a bit of grilled chicken, salad, and healthy stuff all day long!  I didn’t eat too much or not enough.  I was nearly perfect! I used my Slim and Sassy!  What is wrong with me? I hate the scale!”  And then sometimes I would step right back on the scale to see if it would now respond the way I expected and wanted it to.  But that darn scale has a mind of its own.  It doesn’t hear my pleadings and it certainly doesn’t obey my commands to please be nice! Do you realize that I have probably given myself negative chatter over the scale thousands of times? Thousands!

And the negative chatter doesn’t just stop in my morning meeting with the scale.  It can show up anywhere.  Negative chatter can show up when I tell my children they can make their own yogurt parfaits or other food.  It shows up when I am working and things don’t go as I want them to go.  It can show up when I am serving others and thinking of other things.  Negative chatter is sneaky!  It shows up without warning in everything we do.

By nature, I am an optimistic positive person, yet I have negative chatter that shows up here and there and everywhere! Affirmations and positive energy have shifted my thoughts and created new brain pathways, but I have discovered that asking myself simple questions can instantly feed my soul.  Before I step on the scale,  I am asking myself, “Can I be nice to myself about this?”  If I can’t truthfully say yes, I have no business stepping on the scale.  You see, it wasn’t the scale that needed to be nice to me. It is my responsibility to be nice, kind and gentle to myself!

I get to choose in every moment how I will react. I am finding this tool works everywhere!  If I ask different questions, I get different answers.  I am shifting questions that cause me to feel bad to questions that empower me.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • How can I offer myself grace in this moment?  (I am doing quite well, given the circumstances. I am doing a beautiful job!)
  • What can I celebrate right now? (My children have the opportunity to be able to take care of themselves!  I am allowing my children to be empowered to take care of their own needs.  I am making progress!)
  • What is the most gentle thing I can tell myself right now? (I am enough.  This will all work out.  I am loved.)
  • What would I tell my sister if she were in these exact same circumstances? (You do not give yourself enough credit.  Don’t listen to the gremlins and negative chatter!  It is there to bring you down, but is not true!)
  • What would the Savior have me know about myself right now? (You are precious.  You are loved and cherished.  You are powerful beyond measure and I will see you through.  You can do more than you think you can.)

The truth is that we do want the scale and everything else in our world to be nice to us.  We like the feeling that comes when the scale reflects back our positive efforts are paying off.  But the feeling that comes from learning how to truly love ourselves through everything we experience, through all of our shortcomings, and through every challenge is even more powerful!  We are infinite creators and we do have the power to change what we are experiencing. You deserve to experience more positive energy.   I challenge you to try using these questions and see if it changes your life too!

“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:2) Sometimes there are seasons of planting, weeding and harvesting. I love those seasons! I have learned how God works in each of those situations and they are comfortable to me. I have recently figured out that I am in a season of pruning. Pruning is not comfortable. Pruning leaves you feeling raw and naked.

I remember as a little girl watching my dad prune a fruit tree in our backyard. It was so odd to me to think that he was cutting a tree that seemed to have it all together. A strong trunk, solid branches, green leaves and fruit scattered throughout the tree. The tree even had fruit hanging from it as he was pruning it. He seemed to know what he was doing but it seemed crazy to me. His cuts seemed to be causing more damage than good, but what did I know about trees and such?

The last 16 months have been filled with growth. Some days I have felt like I hardly know myself. I have wanted God closer, even though He is right there. I have wanted to feel normal, yet somehow even with a great life, I didn’t feel normal. At times, I have felt like a house undergoing an endless remodel, with no end in sight. And it is one of those remodels where you can’t just change your mind and turn back – I am far enough into the process that we must just keep moving forward, no matter how long it takes!

Little burst of encouragement come from the Spirit, but the challenging thoughts have seemed so much louder. The little bursts keep me focused and moving forward, but I have missed the clarity and peace of other more peaceful seasons. My thoughts have been in conflict, my heart and mind confused, and my actions have not been in harmony. And even though I have turned to the scriptures, prayer, meditation and all the other things that I rely on, the peace has not lasted like I want it to. Questions come, and even though I teach others how to receive revelation, I have wished that Heavenly Father would answer my queries with sky writing. I know that is not how it works, but wouldn’t it be nice to have sky writing now and then?

I have wondered what I am doing wrong. I have wondered how to make it right. And yet, it would be hard to describe to anyone what needs to be different. I just know I have not felt 100% like myself and I haven’t known what to change or how to bring the balance back. Normally I would engage in deeper relationships, or serve more, or write or blog, or just live a little more, and I just have not felt like it.

As I read the scriptures this week, I just prayed that there would be something just for me, for this weird season I had found myself in. This season was lasting far longer than I wanted. I opened my scriptures and started reading about pruning and that is when I knew that Heavenly Father knows exactly where I am at. He knows He is pruning me and He even knows why He is doing it. Even though I felt so comfortable before, this pruning will make me even better. As I read the scriptures I realized that sometimes even trees that are bearing great fruit need to be pruned in order for them to bring out even better fruits.

I realized that the pruning, while uncomfortable, is the best thing for the tree. The tree will be limited without the pruning. The pruning is critical in order to produce the very best fruit possible. The pruning doesn’t happen because the tree is broken. The pruning happens so that the tree has the very best shot at making a difference to the world. It isn’t that something was wrong with me, rather it was time to do some necessary pruning.

When a tree is being pruned, it doesn’t stand in self judgement and think, “Why am I not producing the fruit like that tree over there? Why am I not producing even the small fruits I know I am capable of?” The tree goes into a resting phase and prepares for the next season of blooming. The tree trusts that the fruits will come again. The tree trusts that the branches and leaves will fill back in. I for one, can’t wait for that day. Yesterday as I read the scriptures, that quiet voice said, “This is the pruning. I know it doesn’t feel natural, and I know you don’t like it and you want it to go away, but it is critical. For you to do what you are here to do, there has to be a pruning. Trust the process, let me in.” So right now, this is me being naked, while the Lord sets about pruning this branch and that one. And rather than resisting the process, I am breathing it in and seeing that this is just a season. So for now, I am practicing self compassion, I am being still, I am listening, I am taking care of myself, I am slowing down. It won’t last forever and it is okay to be vulnerable in the process. The day will come where I feel like myself (or rather a better version of myself) and know that the season of pruning was all worth it. If you find yourself in the pruning process, know this: A gardner would never take the time to prune a tree unless he had total hope in what the tree could become. God is there. He knows us. He sees more than we see in ourselves. He is helping us learn to love ourselves so we can love others more and ultimately help bring others back to Him.

Birth.  Five little letters, yet, in an instant, so many different emotions, experiences, and thoughts are brought to the surface. For me, I can’t help but think about my own experiences.  My experiences, like yours, are completely unique to me.  I don’t propose that there is one right way to experience pregnancy or birth.  I can tell you that as I became more and more intentional in my role as a mother, birth became a more Holy experience.

The thing about birth stories is that rarely do they just involve those last few hours of pregnancy and then the delivery of a brand new baby.  For most of us, our stories begin long before that as we overcome our excuses, our fears, our false beliefs about birth and ourselves.  We each are set on a path with different experiences and no story can be the same. Every story has triumph and conflict and there are both sad and happy endings.

My story includes more miscarriages than I can remember and three beautiful births.   I remember my first miscarriage.  It felt like a dark cloud had come to sit over my house and wherever I would go, that little cloud just came right with me.  I could not escape that darkness even though I lived in sunny California.  I would go through the motions of living, through church and the grocery store and all the other mundane things, and just could not shake that darn cloud.  I had so many questions and no answers and found it to be a lonely time.  I was fighting to find the sun again, and eventually, the sun started peeking through.  It didn’t come back instantly but finally one day, I could breathe again.  I could see the sun and the flowers and although I still did not have answers, I didn’t need them anymore.  I hated that first miscarriage at the time – I hated not being able to just pop up and feel happy.  I hated noticing what was in the other shopping carts, minivans, and both cooing and crying babies everywhere I went.  It seemed so heavy and such a raw deal but now I find myself grateful for those days.  My miscarriages gave me the understanding I would need to work with my clients and to help friends and family.  A loss is loss no matter how it is experienced.  Whether it is a loss of a relationship or a baby or security in a job, or whatever else, there is a little piece inside me that knows what it is like to have those dark days.  I feel like God has always taught me the lessons I need to learn in the most gentle ways possible.   I never knew that I would be able to say this, but I am grateful for what I learned from having miscarriages.

My three babies came into the world with great purpose.  Each birth experience shaped me and helped me learn about heaven and God and my body and myself.  I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences as each became a core piece of my understanding of God and how he works.  The most powerful lessons happened with my third baby.  From my journal:

It is Sunday evening once again and I can’t help but think what we were doing exactly one week ago. Justin and I had walked up and down the hills by our house. I think we both felt a bit of disappointment and surprise that I was still pregnant as real contractions had been present so many different times. As we walked, sometimes I had to pause to let a contraction pass but things just did not escalate to the point of no return.
We went to bed and knew that Sunday was not our day. I don’t remember anything significant about the night, but I woke up at 6 am to go to the bathroom and was having regular contractions every 3 minutes. I started timing them on my iPod ap so I could see the patterns and duration. I was not concerned by the length or frequency of the contractions as they were so similar to what I had been experiencing the last few weeks. I decided to stay in bed for the next hour and see where things went. I knew rest was good for me and the longer I stay in bed, the longer the boys stay asleep! I listened to my birthing tracks on the iPod and just stayed relaxed for the next hour.
My son came in at 7 and wanted help with his blog.  I had to sit up in bed to help him type and we worked on a couple different posts. Fifteen minutes passed and during that time I decided the contractions were really consistent and stronger since I had sat up. I woke Justin up and told him to help our son. while I showered and that I thought we were finally headed into the hospital. 
I looked in the mirror at the condition of my hair and debated taking the shower. Was it in me to blow dry my hair? Could I get another day out of it? I carefully considered my options and decided that while I could get another day out of my hair, I would feel better if it was washed and I thought I had plenty of time. Showering at home was a good way to kill some time and I preferred laboring as much outside the hospital as possible. Plus, I had used some essential oils the night before and the smell was disgusting. I committed to the shower and started the process. I shaved in between contractions. As each one hit, I would simply lean against the wall of the shower and breathe through it, thinking various affirmations. “Strong and long bring my baby closer to me. My body was made to do this. I am strong. I am relaxed. I am filled with energy. These are simply waves passing through my body.”
I got out of the shower and really struggled to know what to wear. I knew I needed to get clothes on but I just could not decide. We had planned to have a photographer document the birth. If I I was going to be photographed walking the hospital halls, what would be most appropriate and comfortable? What to wear? I just could not figure it out…I told Justin to call the midwives and also Brit, the photographer. I told him to shower but be fast. At this point it was around 7:35 in the morning. I was blow drying my hair and still was not sure what to wear – if the baby was coming fast, it did not matter…blow dry, blow dry, blow dry….breathe, breathe, breathe.
I got on the floor on my knees and started leaning over the stool in my bathroom as I worked through each wave. I tried to remember how this compared to the boys’ birth days…I can’t remember. I asked Justin for a quick blessing. Okay, I’m okay. I just need to keep moving. I have no idea where I am at or how dilated I am. I can’t focus on the iPod to track the timing. I just keep doing my hair, breathing through stronger contractions, giving Justin orders in between each one. I could not help but moan through some of the pressure. Oh wow…things are really moving fast. “Justin, rub my back and push down on my hips..that’s good..okay, keep moving, let’s keep getting ready.”  We need to go to the hospital. Justin starts loading the car and telling me to be working my way to the car. I am. I am. Just let me finish straightening my hair. I’m almost done.
Oh wow…I can’t get in the car until I go to the bathroom. I have to go so bad. This is not good.
Needing to use the bathroom always proceeds delivery. Oh wow….I don’t know that we can make it to the hospital. I start telling Justin this baby is coming, we are not going to make it. “You don’t want to have a baby at home. Get in the car. I know we can make it. Just get in the car.”  “I don’t know, babes…I can’t go until I finish being on the toilet….aaaaahh…..oh wow, I don’t know.” I remember trying to call down revelation from heaven. “Do we have 15 minutes to make it to the hospital? Can I do this in the car?” I reach up to see if there is a head or what is going on. No head, I can’t tell anything else…for all I know I am only dilated to a 4 or 5! I tell Justin to send the boys on a walk with my mom. I am going to walk to the garage and don’t want them to see a contraction or hear my battle cries.
It is now about 7:55. I finish in the bathroom. I walk the 6 feet to our bed. I pause for a big contraction. This is crazy. I can’t imagine sitting in the car to do this. Justin tells me he put a towel down on the seat, just keep moving. Get in the car. Get in the car. I walk down our hall and pause in the family room for a big contraction. I tell Justin that we are not going to make it. There is no way. He tells me we will. He will drive fast. We can make it we just need to get going. I cry out sounding like some sort of tribal woman….oh I don’t care about making it to the hospital. There is not time. I get down on my knees. Justin tells me to repeat after him. “We can make it. I am relaxed. I am calm. We make it to the hospital.” His coaching helps. I am calm and I am relaxed. We are not going to make it. Yes we are he tells me. No, we are not. “Ashlee, get in the car or I am calling the paramedics. We do not want to do this right here.”
Over the next five minutes, I am on my knees, I am having a baby. I have surrendered to having a home birth. There is just no other way. I am down on my hands and knees. I tell Justin the floor is just so hard. He tells me it is wood. I know it is wood. I see the pillows on the couch out of the corner of my eye..no, I don’t want to ruin those. I could really use one of those knee gardening pads. We don’t have one. Oh well, the floor is hard, okay concentrate. This is crazy. I see Justin calling the paramedics. “My wife is going to have a baby and we are not going to make it to the hospital.” I hear the operator ask for our address.
“Justin, the head is right there.” I am looking face to face at a baby coming out of my body while I am kneeling on hardwood floors in our family room. That’s interesting. Her face is covered in a sack of membranes or something. Oh yeah, my water never broke. I see Justin between my legs, one hand is holding the phone to his ear. The other hand catches the baby’s head and in perfect synchronocity, the baby falls across his forearm. I feel a gush of water and feel the wetness between my legs. I am glad there is a red hand towel there. I don’t know when Justin got it but it catches the fluids..that’s good. I ask if it is really a girl. It is. Is she breathing? I ask. She is. She lets out a little cry. I ask what time it is. 8:06 am. Okay. Breathe Ashlee. Oh wow. We just delivered a baby.

I had prayed for months that I would experience birth however God had intended.  And His answer came in an accidental home birth.  I learned so much from that sacred day.  God answers my prayers.  I am loved.  I am stronger than I thought.  My body is amazing.  And so much more.

Right now, I am in the process of another birth.  It is a rebirth of myself and I can feel it happening underneath the surface. Some of it is beautiful and oh so ready to come out into the light of the world.  I like those parts of my current life experiences because they make me feel alive!  Some of what I am experiencing is ugly and makes me feel vulnerable. Just like a regular pregnancy, once the process starts, it cannot be stopped.  And so I am facing things that I haven’t dared look at before.  Every little breakthrough is like a contraction.  This time I won’t be delivering a baby, but I do feel like a better me will be on the other side of this birth.

As I think about the Gift of Giving Life book, I think what I love most is that it is a collection of stories from strong faithful women.  They share little glimpses of their journeys that make me feel more comfortable with my own.  Their stories give power to every other human being.  Each and every one of us is connected to life and to birth, whether we are moms or not.   You can google and learn all about this great book.  You don’t need me to share quotes from the book because you will read it yourself and see that it is your story too.  Although the book focuses on giving aspects of giving life from miscarriages to birth, it is really about each one of us. Every single one of us experiences the lessons the authors and contributors share in the Gift of Giving Life.  Read the book and start telling your stories.

Visit the Gift of Giving Life Virtual Book Tour  for a chance to win some great pregnancy/birth/baby-related prizes!

I read a recent article about how scientists are studying how phobias can be memories from our ancestors passed down through DNA.

“Memories can be passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experience of their ancestors, according to new research that may explain how phobias can develop.

Scientists have long assumed that memories and learned experiences built up during a lifetime must be passed on by teaching later generations or through personal experience.

However, new research has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA.”

Often clients can not explain why they have a phobia or why they think a certain way although it could be explained by generational transfer.  While human research has yet to be done, I think it is exciting that scientists are considering the huge influence our ancestors can have on the way we experience the world.

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Every few days I do affirmations with my children.  I give them positive statements and they willingly repeat each phrase.  Even my 2 year old can do it.  As soon as I tell her to repeat “I am smart” she obeys and then if I pause just a moment longer, she will say “I am sweet.”  I love that she knows what affirmations are coming  – I hope that I am creating little pathways in her brain of positive thinking! I love this poster of affirmations for kids.  You could use them as secret notes stashed on a pillow, in a drawer or even in a lunchbox.  You could also print out the poster and display it so your children can remember they are awesome!

Vision Board

A vision board is a visual reminder of what you want out of life.  It can include images or words that trigger excitement and passion in you.   It can be useful to create a vision board and place it in a space where you will frequently be reminded to go for your dreams.  The vision board is a powerful tool when you are trying to manifest changes, opportunities or experiences into your life.  Many people collect motivating images from magazines and make a collage but I like to create a digital vision board.  You can use Pinterest or a software program like Photoshop to create your own digital vision board.

Below you will find some ideas of what to include on your vision board as well as a couple examples from my board:

  • goals associated with your business or work (advancements, recognition, degrees, training, etc.)
  • health goals (food, exercise – I am learning how to eat even healthier and just took a great grains cooking class to move this goal forward)
  • financial goals (dollars in the bank, debts paid by a certain date, etc.  I have a picture of money growing on a tree that represents my residual income.)
  • social needs and relationships (I am attracting friends who get me and a personal assistant!)
  • hobbies or vacations you want to experience (I am sitting in Aruba as I write this post – every vision board I create has a picture of a tropical destination on it!)
  • quotes you love (Pinterest has hundreds of these!)
  • pictures of clothes, toys, or other fun things you want some day (I got my jogging stroller I wanted!  I found it used and an excellent shape at a garage sale!)

If you have ever thought, “I wish I could….”  put it on your board!

Pinterest is one of the easiest ways to create a digital vision board.  You can create boards for each aspect of your life.  For example, if you hope to travel or go on a vacation, you can pin your dream vacation photos onto that board.  You could also create one giant board that contained images representing your entire vision board.  I used Pinterest for a long time but found it did not meet my needs for two reasons.  One, it was too easy to “pin” any old image that half-way excited me.  I had dozens of pins that I liked but I was not truly focused on manifesting many of them into my own life.  My second challenge with my Pinterest Vision Board is that I did not go and review my vision daily – while it was conveniently online and very organized, there is something powerful to actually seeing your board and being forced to think about it throughout the day.

I now create my vision board using Photoshop but you could do a similar thing in PowerPoint, PicMonkey, or any software that allows you to place images in the file.

If you wish to create a vision board using Photoshop, I recommend beginning with a file that is 16 x 20 so you can create a poster of your vision board. If you are using PowerPoint, a letter size file will work just fine.

I use Google searches to find images that represent what I want in my life.  I put a variety of images on my board – some are easy like the fact that I want new kitchen towels.  Other images represent long term business or family goals.  I look for images that create a positive emotion inside me – they need to excite me from the get-go or they won’t be enough to motivate me when I see them later on.  As I find images, I use my mouse to right click and copy each image.  I then go into my software (Photoshop or PowerPoint) and paste the image or graphic on a single page document.  If you want to include several images, place the images nice and tight so there is room for your complete vision.  Be sure to save as you go so that you won’t lose your work.

Once you have created your vision board, you can print it out at home or use a photo service.

I send my 16×20 image to Costco and have a poster printed.  You will want to watch the cropping on Costco’s site when you do this to be sure you don’t lose the edges of your file when the poster is made.  (You could also leave a nice white border around the edges when you create your vision board.)  A large poster like this only costs a couple dollars to print.  I have mine posted in my bedroom on a magnet board.  I can easily add new images around my main vision board if I see something that excites me.  I also order a 4 x 6 print so that I can keep my vision board with me as I travel.

If you are using PowerPoint, you can create your file and then save it as a .jpeg if you want to be able to use a photo service to print it.

Creating a digital vision board and printing it is the easiest way to stay connected to your dreams.  Whether you choose to use old magazines or digital images, a Vision Board is a fun way to motivate yourself into action.

The following books have helped me learn about energy.  They are in no particular order but each has contributed to my education in some way.  The list is not comprehensive and I will add more titles in due time.


The Energy Bus – Jon Gordon

Light in the Wilderness – Catherine M. Thomas

Mutant Message Down Under – Marlo Morgan

Energy Medicine for Women: Aligning Your Body’s Energies to Boost Your Health and Vitality – Donna Eden

Drawing on the Powers of Heaven – Grant Von Harrison

The Message – Lance Richardson

Love, Medicine, & Miracles – Bernie S. Siegel

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust – Immaculee Illibagiza

Secret of Instantaneous Healing – Harry D. Smith

A Scriptural Discussion of Light – Allen J. Fletcher

Energy Medicine – Donna Eden

The Amazing Laws of Cosmic Mind Power – Joseph Murphy

Your Body Doesn’t Lie – John Diamond

Do I Have to Give Up Me to be Loved by God – Paul Margaret

The Hidden Messages in Water – Masaru Emoto

The LDS Gospel of Light – B. Grant Bishop

Feelings Buried Alive Never Die – Karol K. Truman

Your Right to Fly – James E. Melton

Emotional Energy Factor – Mira Kirshenbaum

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life – Wendy Watson Nelson

Inner Bonding – Margaret Paul, PhD

Through His Eyes – Virginia H. Pearce

Energy Medicine – Donna Eden

Remembering Wholeness – Carol Tuttle

Power vs. Force – David Hawkins

Anatomy of the Spirit – Caroline Myss

You Can Heal Your Life – Louise Hay

Heal Your Body – Louise Hay

Jackrabbit Factor – Leslie Householder

Hidden Treasures – Leslie Householder

Last week I found myself on planes from San Diego to Boston to Atlanta and Houston.  I drove throughout Texas and took the circuitous route to San Antonio.  By the end of the week, my jeans were feeling tight and, while my trip had been successful, I felt discouraged.  I just KNEW I had gained weight.  I could not gauge how much and so I decided it was probably 5 – 8 pounds.  I started thinking through how long it would take to come off and I thought of what I may have done different.  Sure I had found a drive thru or two, I may have ate pizza at a little hole in the wall near Harvard, and I am pretty sure I don’t regret that milkshake!  Ugh.

The funny thing is that I wasted so much time telling myself things that may or may not be true!  My thoughts became a run away train and I found myself entertaining thoughts like, “Next week I am eating only vegetables!”  (While a good idea, I know I am not going to do that which means the statement really just takes power away from me.)

When I finally decided to get on the scale, I discovered I only had gained 3 pounds. Three pounds.  Man, the mind is a tricky thing! I had myself convinced I would need larger jeans and that I would not be able to tackle this problem until my travels end later this summer.  I pictured myself throughout the summer feeling like a bloated beached whale! What a trip!  Pure guilt set in, self depreciating thoughts were making a mark, and I definitely was not owning my own power!

We MUST take control of our lives by taking control of our minds.  We must tell our minds the TRUTH!  It is time to stop letting the lies in your head determine your life experiences.  YOU were born for this time.  There are things that only YOU can do.  There are choice experiences all around us, but there is a distracting force that wants you to forget that you were indeed created for something more.  The opposition wants you to believe you are worthless, that your situation can not be salvaged, and that you are destined for a pitiful life.  This is simply not true!

Be bigger than me and do not let the fear of not being enough or gaining weight stop you in your tracks.  BE YOU!  Stand up, enjoy your personal progress, celebrate your commitment to yourself to live your best life!

I choose to let go of pain.   I choose to let go of punishing myself.   I let go of self doubt.   I let go of fear.

I let go of control.  I let go of judgements.  I let go of old view that limit me.  I let go of assuming what others think.  I let go of comparisons.  I let go of holding back who I am.  I let go of pleasing others at a cost of me.  I choose to see the love in every situation.  I choose to replace the fear with confidence.  I choose to remember the good.  I choose hope.  I choose faith.  I choose what I experience.

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