2015: My Roller Coaster Year

Love where you’ve been.
Love where you’re at.
Love how you think.
Love the power you pack.
Love all that you seek.
Love all that you feel.
Love your rocking emotions.
And the thoughts you make real.
~ The Universe ~
(http://www.tut.com/note/details/89/)

Remember as a kid going to an amusement park and riding rides all day? You became impatient and perhaps angry waiting in line for the rides. You were hungry and thirsty, for food, drink, and more. You faced your fears and rode that big roller coaster that took your breath away. At the end of the day, you were sunburned, exhausted, yet happy.

Life is a lot like that.

2015 has been my roller coaster year. When January 1 arrived after a hellacious New Year’s Eve party, I was impatient for change, And I got it, for better and for worse, in all aspects of my life.

Halfway through the year, I lost an important friendship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control. That loss, though, turned out to be my gain, as it caused me to delve within and find my strength again.

I spent six months trying to leave a job that was killing my soul and my spirit. I applied for jobs with more fervor. Like throwing darts at a dartboard, I knew that when it was the right time, I would hit bullseye.

At one point, these two crises came to a head at the same time and I hit rock bottom. However, I didn’t panic. Instead, I threw myself into traveling and writing, which have never let me down. I traveled to Monterey, San Francisco, upstate New York (Hudson Valley and the Finger Lakes), and Chester County, Pennsylvania. New outlets for my writing, like Snooth and American Winery Guide, manifested themselves.

The turning point was September. On September 1, I was forwarded an email, which within 13 days, led me to my new job. It’s now been seven and a half weeks and I am so much happier. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be valued as a human being and part of a real team of professional and caring people.

November 3: I opened the Facebook app on my phone and there was my ex-boyfriend – the longest, most important relationship in my life (to date) – in my news feed as one of the people I may know, under a fake name. His profile and cover photos were of him and another woman. According to his About section, he had created this profile for her and was in a relationship with this woman more than three months before we broke up. There it was, in all of its glory, the answer to that question in my head for three years: Was there someone else? The good news is that I didn’t cry, I laughed.

In the blink of an eye, 2015 has essentially come and gone. The ride came to a screeching halt and I was breathless, but OK. I rediscovered myself: my power, my talents, and my calling. I found happiness within. I fell in love again with who I am and who I want to be.

Love,
Beth

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Facing your own mortality

I’ve only had two experiences in my life where I felt I could have died. The first was when I had taken an extra job working at a restaurant to supplement my teaching income that summer, but decided to keep working there nights and weekends during the fall semester. I was working every day and night somewhere. One evening, I had left work to visit a friend, and on my way home, I was involved in a terrible car accident that should have killed me. All I remember is that one minute I was driving, the next minute I was in my car, facing the opposite direction of where I was headed, and paramedics were lifting me onto a gurney. The first thing I said was, “Did I hurt anyone?” I didn’t remember my teaching job, just my restaurant job. It was determined that I fell asleep for a moment, and in that moment, my car hit the right guardrail at 55 mph, which spun the car around into the left guardrail, then finally came to rest facing the other direction in the middle of the highway. Thankfully, no other cars were on the road, and I only suffered a mild concussion and a very bruised up knee from hitting the dashboard and windshield. My seat belt was broken and the new one was on order, so it was not functional. From this I walked away and quickly realized that the restaurant job had to go.

Today at work, I was eating and working through lunch, as is the norm for a winery with a very small staff, and I choked on something I was eating. At first I thought it would be OK if I just got up to get water, but I wasn’t quick enough. I tried to breathe and I couldn’t. There were only three of us in the office: me, the bookkeeper, and the sales manager. The bookkeeper was closest, but she didn’t know what to do. I felt myself getting lightheaded and I couldn’t talk. At that moment, my life really did flash before my eyes, just as described in books and other media. I walked towards the sales manager and managed to mouth to him, “Help me.” He grabbed me and performed the Heimlich Maneuver repeatedly until finally the I could breathe. I was sweating and tears were streaming down my face. Thankfully he knew what to do and he saved my life. What you don’t know is that after this happens, you are afraid to eat and especially afraid to eat alone. I settled on liquid tonight, spicy soup, to soothe my throat. Call it strategic eating. Tonight also just happened to be my weekly chiropractor appointment. My chiropractor knew something was wrong. “It’s like facing your own mortality,” he said, when he learned what happened to me today. I told him I thought it was a sign that I needed to make some changes in my life and he agreed. He said exactly what I had been thinking most of the day: events like this are intentional and are meant to wake us up from things or people from the past or the present that are keeping us stuck. He scanned me, “I haven’t seen you this misaligned in months,” and gave me the most major neck adjustment I’ve had since I started going last May. During my longer resting period, my thoughts were racing. What’s next? I can’t stop thinking about my life: my past, my present, my future, what I want, where I am now, and where I want to be. I am still here for a reason and I know what I need to do. It’s putting my thoughts, ideas, and intentions into action. It’s about following my instincts about both things and people. It’s about removing anxiety, stress, and toxicity from my life. Now. Before I need to be scared straight again.
I am thankful to be here to write this.
Beth

My life as an egg

When you numb your pain you also numb your joy. ~ Brene Brown

I have one more thing to write before 2015 begins after all.

Yesterday, I had a panic attack about being alone. I don’t mean not being in a relationship, I mean feeling disconnected from the world, away from East Coast family and friends. I never had panic attacks until I lost my relationship and job in 2012, but I guess they are a form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), maybe? Most of them are about finances, but this was personal. With these moments of panic often come moments of clarity and enlightenment.

While I took a big risk by moving across the country for a new life and I love to travel to new places, I’ve never really opened myself up completely to opportunities or people since I moved. I have RSVPed to events or get-togethers with people I didn’t know, then chickened out at the last minute. I wanted to go, but I was afraid. Sometimes I attended, but I would quickly exit. I just arrived home from Hawaii and realized that while I was there, I did the same thing. I spent a lot of time with new friends that welcomed me into their fold, but I also would retreat to my hotel when I could. Part of that is because I’m an HSP and crowds and activity can overstimulate me. However, I also think it’s because I am drained from keeping my guard up.

On Christmas Eve, I watched one of my favorite movies again, French Kiss, but with different eyes. It has comedy, romance, France, a great wine moment, and it has a woman like me, a crazy chick who takes a risk that goes against her grain. However, she discovers along the way that she had been living a very closed life.

As I thought of all of this, it hit me. I am like an egg, closed, afraid to break open. I’m afraid of someone breaking through the shell that I’ve built around me for two and a half years. I’m afraid of not being accepted. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid to really live. My chiropractors have known this for seven months, as they have had to open me up physically nearly every week.

In 2015, this egg will be ready to crack open. What good is an egg with an unbroken shell? The shell is meant to be removed to get to the deliciousness inside. I know it will be a process to let go of my fears, but it’s all about baby steps. It’s about peeling the shell away one piece at a time. And just wait until you see what’s inside of me.

Love,
Beth

Hi, I’m Beth and I’m an HSP. My Sunday Ah-Ha Moment.

Being Sensitive is a Way of Life (source: http://michelledargyle.com/)

Being Sensitive is a Way of Life (source: http://michelledargyle.com/)

Today a friend shared a Huffington Post article with me, accompanied by these words, “This really is you, Beth.”

I read the article, “16 Habits Of Highly Sensitive People.” This might be the single most important piece of writing I’ve ever read. I didn’t even know there was a label for people like me, HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). I wish I had known earlier that I experience life and the world differently than 80-85% of the population.

In elementary school, my teachers called me “a sensitive child.” My classmates were much more harsh. They called me a “crybaby.”

I cry when I am angry. I cry when I watch commercials, videos, TV shows, and movies. Twenty years after the movie was released, I still cry when Mufasa dies in The Lion King.

Music like this often gives me chills and brings me to tears as well.

I am still afraid of the Flying Monkeys and the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. That movie terrorized me when I was a child. Now I understand why.

I will do anything to avoid conflict. I try to repress my thoughts and feelings so as to not offend anyone. In doing so, I make myself physically ill.

I have uncanny attention to visual, written, and spoken details and I often remember exact conversations – words exchanged, as well as when and where the conversation took place. This attention to detail makes me a great travel planner and wine club manager, but all of these details about everything swimming around in my head often overwhelm me.

I often have trouble sleeping at night because I can’t turn off my world, thoughts, and emotions. I feel like I am always connected, whether I want to be or not.

I love to spend time with people that I really like and who really like me. But put me in a place full of people I don’t know and I become anxious. I am torn between being polite and staying anyway and plotting my escape. I opt out of large gatherings of people and prefer one-on-one and small-group interaction.

I am more empathetic than most, which means I feel what you feel, both the bad and the good. I take your burdens upon myself along with my own. Sometimes the weight is unbearable.

I prefer to work alone. My ideal work environment would be to work at home, at my own pace. As a college professor, I managed to strike a balance between performing in a classroom and my 10 required office hours. I was a pioneer in online instruction at my former college, because I preferred this method of delivery and flexible scheduling. I recently changed careers and I work an 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. job in an open office with five other people. I have found this environment to be stressful. I love when my colleagues are out of the office, not because I don’t like them, but because it’s more quiet and I work better alone, setting my own schedule and working through my to-do list.

I can’t count how many times people have told me not to take everything so personally. Believe me, I don’t want to. It just happens. I am like a Bounty paper towel. I absorb the world around me and it becomes a part of me.

At this moment, I’ve never felt more validated. Thank you to my friend for finding this article and sharing it with me. What a relief, there’s a method to my madness after all. It’s called being highly sensitive and it’s real. I’m Beth and I’m an HSP. I’m different than 80-85% of you reading this. Please bear with me as I begin to learn how to better fit into this world. If you are someone who feels like me, let’s connect.

Love,
Beth

Daily Love: Growing Into Grace, A Review (Sort Of)

Daily Love: Growing Into Grace

Daily Love: Growing Into Grace

Mastin Kipp’s blog, The Daily Love, literally helped save my life after my Divine Storm in 2012, when I lost the person whom I thought was the love of my life and my teaching career within two months. I met Mastin at his Enter the Heart tour in Asheville, North Carolina in 2013 and have been anxiously awaiting his book ever since. I will meet Mastin again on October 13 in San Francisco for his Growing Into Grace Workshop.

Mastin’s book is more than I ever imagined. I read the book last night in one sitting. I could not put it down. It was a profound, mystical experience, yet written in a way that everyone who reads the book will be able to “keep what resonates” for them. I am still on my journey to Grace and can see great similarities between myself and my feelings and Mastin’s, even though our Divine Storms were quite different. I appreciate that Mastin not only shares his growth and journey, but includes and highlights the work of his peers and mentors, which helped him weather and thrive beyond his storm.

Mastin and me in Asheville

Mastin and me in Asheville

Having been under chiropractic treatment since May because my spine basically closed up as I cocooned myself from the world for the past couple of years, I really began to fully understand the mind-body connection. Opening my spine and my body has been synonymous with letting go of the past and gradually getting myself unstuck from all that happened to me. This book reiterates the connection between our minds and our bodies. If we deny our Hero’s Journey, it can affect our physical, emotional, and mental health, and the world will also not benefit from our unique gift.

There is so much more I would like to share, but I would spoil the book for future readers. I will conclude by saying that the content goes well beyond Mastin’s blog and allows the reader to better understand him as a person, a writer, and a spiritual leader of his generation.

To buy your copy/copies, visit this link. I have both the hard copy and Kindle versions and will receive a signed copy in San Francisco at the workshop. Perhaps I will see you there?

Love,
Beth

Who am I without any money?

Every day I receive an email from my favorite blog, The Daily LoveToday’s featured post was about learning to take risks towards success by facing and managing fear. The section below jumped out at me.

How much money you have doesn’t define how successful you are. It’s your inner peace that defines how successful you are. You want to know how successful you are – answer this question: Who are you without any money? That answer will define how successful you really are.

We are all are on a journey to better our lives and achieve our definition of success, whatever that may be. In my journey, I know I have days where I feel like I am treading water instead of moving forward. I battle loneliness. I struggle with inner peace. All of those challenges aside, who am I without any money? 

I’m a loyal and steadfast friend and confidant. I’m my cat’s mommy. I’m a survivor of a budgetary reduction in force. I’m a teacher and student of life. I’m a hopeless romantic in spite of a great love lost. I’m a certified wine geek and a certifiably crazy travel geek. I’m a new media writer. I’m a person who gives my all to what lies before me, no matter how great or small. I’m a risk taker. I’m a single girl doing it all on her own.

I may not be where I want to be yet, but look at me! Not bad, eh? So what about you? Who are you without any money? I hope you’ll toot your own horn in the comments, then keep moving forward, kicking ass and taking names.

Love,
Beth