attracting an audience

 

Entrepreneurs have it made! Set your own hours! Be your own boss! Decide what you do and when you do it. It is awesome to be an entrepreneur until you don’t want to do what needs to be done. And if you are like most people, as soon as you fall into the funk of not wanting to do the tasks at hand, you engage in self sabotage.

Self sabotage is taking subtle actions that destroy your long term goals and take you off course.

Here are 5 ways to identify your own self-sabotage:

1 – You are avoiding simple tasks or people that can help you. Procrastinating that one text or phone call is a sure sign that you are not doing the simple actions that create long term success. My favorite way to stop procrastinating is to ask myself, “What is the tiniest step I can do to move in the right direction on this project?” We can cover a lot of ground by taking small, tiny courageous steps. Moving forward with tiny steps is still moving forward.

2 – You are engaged in negative self talk. Negative self talk can be as simple as criticising the work you are getting done or completely bashing yourself about every aspect of your life. You are not the worst person ever or the messiest person alive! You may be someone that has gotten overwhelmed and discouraged but this doesn’t mean you are not amazing and destined for success. The fastest way I have found to change the habit of negative self talk is to utilize regular postitive affirmations. There are many ways to change your thinking but it always starts with choosing a new and better way.

3 – You become a very creative storyteller. My stories usually start like this…”They probably aren’t interested. I am probably bugging them. They would tell me if they wanted to come…they probably hate that I do oils…I am so annoying…she is probably mad at me because she didn’t like my post…” Blah, blah, blah! When we self-sabotage we create complete and often detailed stories about things that aren’t true. The interesting thing is that your brain can’t tell truth from fiction. You can actually trick your brain into believing other creative stories like, “She is probably just hoping I will reach out and call… she is probably too shy to tell me she is interested…” you get the idea. Be creative, but use your storytelling to create stories that empower you and drive you forward toward your goals.

4 – You eliminate your self-care. When you quit doing the basics – washing your face, taking your vitamins, getting out in the sunshine, eating meals at regular times, exercising – you are telling yourself that your health and wellness doesn’t matter. When I skip self care, I fall quickly into negative self-talk and keep up the self-sabotage madness. Choose simple self-care activities, create appointments with yourself or others to make sure you don’t ignore your number one asset, YOU!

5 – You focus on situations or activities that don’t really matter. I know it is time for self-evaluation when I start worrying about what others are doing. I know it is time to refocus my attention when I start checking Facebook every ten minutes instead of doing truly valuable income-producing activities. I know it is time to let go and release when I am rehashing a frustrating conversation in my head over and over. Stopping to ask myself, “Who am I? What do I really want?” can be a helpful reset when I am allowing my focus to drift. If I find I am really stuck in the self-sabotage cycle, talking with a friend or someone that inspires me reminds me that I really do have goals I want to achieve and that I CAN do it.

It is natural to fall into self-sabotage, the trick is having a plan for those moments so that you can end the cycle quickly and make the most of your work hours. Lately, I have found that I quit my own self sabotage and move forward when I break my tasks down into smaller parts and choose to give even just 5% more effort.

As an entrepeneur, you must develop the skills to put yourself back on track! You are bigger than the distractions. You are meant to grow and change. When you find yourself off course, you can always redirect your energy and move forward towards your goals. Don’t let self-sabotage rule your life. Take control and choose actions that lead to your ultimate desires. Think about it – What is you really want? Are you doing anything to self sabotage yourself? What is the smallest step you can take right now to grow your business and let go of the self sabotage cycle? I know you can do it and I can’t wait to see you grow!

OWN YOUR POWER Playlist

We all have those days and moments where we forget we are powerful creators, destined for happiness and success.  Music has a huge impact on our spirits and this playlist was designed to lift you up, inspire you, and help you remember that you really can do great things!  I use this playlist when I am feeling down or disconnected from my purpose.  The lyrics of each song are positive, inspire action, and help me to be in tune with my own power.

You may find one song sticks out to you and causes you to move towards your goals – listen to it as many times as you need to because you really do deserve to feel good and be happy!

1. Fight Song – Rachel Platten

2. You’re Not Alone – Marie Miller

3. Roar – Katy Perry

4. Let it Go – Idina Menzel

5. Best Day of My Life – American Authors

6. Brave – Sara Bareilles

7. Live Like a Warrior – Matisyahu

8. Good Time – DJ Fit Hits

9. Life – Beckah Shae

10. I lived – One Republic

11. On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons

12. Now is the Start – Fine Frenzy

13. Dare You to Move – BYU Vocal Point

14. Take On the World – Rowan Blanchard & Sabrina Carpenter

15. Newsies Medley: Seize the Day – BYU Vocal Point

16. Glorious – David Archuleta

The LITMUS TESTI am seeing tons of social media friends determined to simplify!  I have friends clearing out their homes to go live on the road in RVs, I have friends clearing out the clutter, and I have friends saying “no” more often.  Perhaps we all need to simplify one aspect of our lives or another.  Seeking greater happiness, my friends are recognizing that material things and picture perfect lives are not where joy is found.  Joy is found in giving ourselves permission to be ourselves!  Joy is achieved by listening to the voice inside and honoring what she knows.  She is a smarty pants, but sometimes we completely ignore her, which often leads to frustration and unhappiness.

Too often we say yes to the wrong things.  And we tell ourselves no to the activities that would actually cause us delight.  We keep belongings that no longer serve us.  (I know you are not a hoarder, but do you have anything around your home that no longer serves you?)  We ignore our intuition in order to please others.  We stifle our own desires either because we are fearful of disappointing others or because we just don’t stop and listen to our spirits!

Happy lives can be found in learning to ask and truthfully answer fantastic questions.  Here is the litmus test that can be applied throughout your life:

Does this spark joy??

As commitments and opportunities come your way in your business, you will know if you should participate if you simply ask yourself those four words. Does speaking at this event spark joy?  Do I feel a spark of joy when I think about partnering with that person?

Does this pair of size ultra-small-maybe-some-day-they-will-fit jeans hanging in my closet spark joy? Or do they bring in a different feeling?  If they don’t spark joy, I need to pass them on to some skinny toothpick that will find delight in them!

Does going to meet my friends with the kiddos in the park spark joy in my heart?  Some days, yes!! This week?? I chose to just get back in bed and read my Kindle!  Yes, I could have gone to the park and would have had fun – but truthfully my spirit craved some quiet time.  So without any judgement and a little giggle, I got back in bed in the middle of the afternoon.  This simple indulgence did spark joy!!

I am not suggesting you give up on life and get back in bed every day – but I am challenging you to be honest with yourself and seek joy.  Let go of the activities that no longer lift and inspire you. Commit to find sparks of joy in both your life and business.

Your heart knows!! Your heart is designed to give you that little spark so that you can find the things that truly make you happy!   We should be experiencing sparks of joy on a daily basis.  We are meant to be happy but it is up to us to create that in our own lives.  When we increase our joy, we naturally increase our positive energy.

Try this simple tool out and let me know how it works for you!

 

I have found it helpful to have reminders of what I am creating.  Enjoy these Facebook cover images to help keep you focused on your vision.

 

1

 

 

4

 

3

2

6

 

5

Thomas Edison stated, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”  I have been giving this attitude much thought as I am knocking down old false beliefs.  Yes, even the teacher has negative ideas that stop me from progression.  Right now, I am preparing to launch my energy training program.  The time has definitely come and I am determined to empower others, yet the old silly lies continue to show up… “Who am I to teach others?  What do I really know?  I don’t know how to do this…” And that is just the tip of the iceberg!  While I do have self doubts, I also know that there is a God in heaven that walks by my side.  Everything I have ever learned or accomplished has been by His power.  He is the God of miracles and if He can help Esther, Moses, Adam and so many more, He will surely help me.

Sometimes I wonder why we are afraid of growing and developing ourselves.  It is one of our greatest purposes – discovering our own greatness, yet that path can be filled with potholes big enough to get stuck in.  Mr. Edison knew that there was a deep power inside him.  He knew that he could only fail if he gave up on himself.  Despite being kicked out of school, blowing up labs, and tremendous disappointments, Thomas pressed on.  He knew that there was something great lying inside himself.  He would not accept anything less than bringing forth his vision.  Surely he had mastered the negative thinking and had determined to not allow any present circumstances or others to stop him.

Why do we stop our progress?  The reasons are varied and too numbered to list, but two come to mind.  One, we compare ourselves to others.  We look to our neighbor and decide that we fall short and are not enough in some way.  We then allow that thought to spiral until we are certain that we really don’t have any business pursuing that crazy dream!  For instance, there are many forms of energy work in the world – some are brilliant and some make me uncomfortable. I have studied many books, learned from great teachers, and even attended some courses, but at the end of the day, the way I do energy is totally different from anything I have encountered.  I have been taught moment by moment and client by client.  I have brought questions to the Lord and He has taught me the next step to helping others release negative energy.  Am I an energy expert?  I don’t know if I am an expert, I do know that I have learned a lot about energy over the last ten years!  More importantly, I uneqivacolly know that there is something that happens when I help others discover their own truths so they can feel alive and connected!  I have watched clients come alive and be present once we clear out the negative thinking.  I can have an awesome experience unless I allow self doubt to creep in and wonder how my own approach compares to others.  Comparison is never a winning approach.  I either cut down another or cut down myself, either way I am left feeling empty on some level.  If I want to make progress, I have to keep my eye fixed upon an immovable standard.  For me, that standard is always a question like these: “Am I accepted by God? Am I doing the right things for God? Is my heart in the right place?  Am I pleasing Him?” If I am pleasing Him, I am on the right path and it doesn’t matter what others offer or do.  My path is my path and I get to honor that fact.  I choose to let go of any comparisons and progress in exactly the right ways at the right times according to His will.

Another reason we don’t progress is that we overthink it! Overanalyzing can cause us to completely stop progressing.  It is okay to move forward without knowing all answers.  It is exhilarating to take a step of faith.  Progress, not perfection, is the goal.  When I overthink my projects or business ideas, they often never leave the ground.  When I just move forward, trusting it will all come together, my ideas do take flight.  Yes, sometimes there are some unanticipated bumps, but I am going for progress and so it is okay.

I challenge you to let go of the habits of comparison and overanalyzing.  Move forward with faith and courage.  Develop the confidence needed as you make simple steps to become who you really area and fulfill your personal mission.  For me, my next step is launching my Purely Alive energy training. I am ready to astound myself and take that leap of faith!

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.

Page 1 of 3123