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Learning to Dance in the Rain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

I used to feel like a victim. I walked through life feeling exhausted and crippled by my own perception of a situation. Exhaustion led me to become vulnerable to darkness. It led me to focus on all the ways I’d been mistreated, misunderstood, rejected or abandoned. It led me to see all the flaws in everyone around me. But as I grew closer to God, I realized that just the opposite is true. The only thing I’m a victim of is God’s mercy, grace and love. I have a Defender on my side and that Defender chose me on purpose to fight these battles. He chose me to walk into these storms because He knows that I can.

We have one life and one universal purpose in this life. Our purpose is simple. It’s to be a speck of light in a whole lot of dark. It’s to be the love in the hate. This does not mean that we should dismiss our feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, or any other yucky feelings. It simply means that we can feel our ugly feelings without becoming crippled by them. It means that we can choose to walk right into a black storm and see it as an opportunity to be the eye; the calm and the light.

Today I choose to be the joy in my storms. I finally learned to dance in the rain and I am free. You can be free too!

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To Believe or Not to Believe

This morning I got to share my faith with another human being. An opportunity within our work together allowed me to share these words. I asked for wisdom and courage and this is what came out. I share here that maybe it will resonate with someone else.

“The spiritual self-care. This is one of my favorite topics to talk with people about. I will share a little of my story here and you can take what resonates with you and feel free to dig deeper.

I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school 1st-8th grade. I was brought up with a faith in God, His Son and the Holy Spirit. But growing up I did not understand this faith because it was confusing as all hell. All I felt I was taught was to know all the things I should and should not do. And I was taught that God sees all and will punish me if I “sin”. Again, I had no idea what the heck that meant, so I learned to associate God with fear and shame.

But I remember as a child feeling God and knowing that what I was being taught contradicted the feeling I felt in my body and in my mind and in my soul. I remember questioning many parts of what I was being taught. I remember wanting to explore my faith deeper. But I was afraid and did not have the support. Most people thought it was crazy that I even cared.

So I went about my life without exploring this part of me. In my twenties I sought out therapy after almost dying from alcohol poisoning on my 21st birthday. Between counseling and my college classes in dysfunctional family therapy I came to learn that I was an “adult child”. So I started going to ALANON which is for family members of addicts. It was there that I began to rediscover God as my “Higher Power”. I studied the steps and grew to understand God in a much different way, as someone who could help me by leading and guiding me if I learned how to let go of the control I was trying to have over my life.

In my thirties I went through a huge mental breakdown and will not go into all the details because it is written in a book that you are welcome to read if you want (RENEWED: A Mind, Body, Spirit Approach to Self-Renewal). But anyhow, after this breakdown I began to turn to God even more and realized that the church I was attending was not where I belonged. I decided to explore churches because I wanted to get more involved and also wanted my children to know God. We found a non-denomenational church that we have been going to ever since and it has changed my life and my relationship with God completely.

I’m not saying your answer to life is to find a church, but I am saying that a huge piece to the healing puzzle is finding yourself spiritually. I do not believe all of our paths are the same, but I do believe that we all have a Higher Power that tries to guide us. I believe that God brings people onto my path for me to help with the gifts He has given me. I believe that my eating disorder was not a punishment or something God gave to me, but something God uses to help others and teach others about through me. I believe that God can guide you and has given you many gifts that He can help you to use to and pour into others.

I choose to call my Higher Power God. Maybe it’s because I grew up calling Him God. And to me that is okay. I believe God gave us nature as a gift and I feel closest to God when I am in nature. I see God in people sometimes, certainly not all of the time. I am grateful that I stepped out of my comfort zone and dug deeper into exploring my beliefs and my faith. I now have a relationship with God. I do go to church because I love connecting with God in this way and I learn a lot from it, but today I understand that churches are people and people are human. People are incredibly flawed. And even God’s church will hurt, reject and disappoint.

I share this with you not to convert you to believe in God or anything like that, but more because I want to challenge you to explore your spiritual beliefs. What do you know about God? Have you ever felt His presence? What keeps you from exploring your spirituality? I know mine was due to being hurt many times in a church and by people who claimed to follow God. Do you talk to God, and if not, would you ever ask Him to reveal Himself to you so you can learn about Him for yourself?

Anyhow, I am hoping this is okay that I shared this with you, but as I said, the spiritual self-care has become the biggest part of my healing journey and I find it the most exciting to talk about. I will be praying that you find yourself spiritually because it is awesome!!”

How to Discover Purpose and Meaning in Your Life and What You Need to Put it into Action

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Every Spring I go on a self-exploration and transformation retreat for 3 days.  This year I attended a workshop on how to create transformational workshops.  The purpose of this weekend was not only to rejuvenate, but also to help ignite my fire that would hopefully inspire my next project of putting RENEWED: A Mind, Body, Spirit Approach to Self-Renewal into a 3 day transformational workshop for clients.  My intention for the weekend was to leave with knowledge on how to structure my workshop and how to relay 15 chapters of information from my book to my participants in a 3 day time period without overwhelming or boring them.  So what does this have to do with you finding your purpose?  Bear with me a moment and I will explain.

Chapter 13 in my book talks about discovering our purposes and meanings in life.  I break it down into 3 different life purposes (Universal Purpose, Communal Purpose and Personal Purpose) and use the 5 W’s and 1 H (who, when, where, what, why and how) to help readers to discover their life purposes.

Our Universal Purpose is all the same and answers the what; it is to matter in this world and to those around us.  But our Communal and Personal Purposes are different.  Our Communal Purpose is the who, when and where we matter to.  Our Personal Purpose is the why and how.  It answers the questions of what gifts we will use to matter, where we got those gifts, why we use them and how we use them.  I explain that we can have one purpose or multiple purposes and that those purposes can evolve over time.

So let me get to the point of what I discovered last weekend and see if it can help you to uncover your life purposes.

I spent the first two days in this workshop struggling to figure out why I was there.   It started out pretty weird.  There were five leaders and they had us participate in some pretty uncomfortable and different activities that broke social norms.  They were activities that brought about group cohesion, comfort and safety through movement, music, meditation, laughter, drawing, storytelling, sharing, touching, etc.  You heard me…TOUCHING.  No, it was’t some perverse activity that we did.  It was gentle partner yoga, but it was weird and uncomfortable with a stranger.  

One of our group leaders kept telling us, “You have everything you need inside of you to create a transformational workshop.”   They would transition us from one activity to another with little explanation as to what the purpose of the activities were.  I had trouble making the connection between each activity and what I was supposed to be learning.  I am used to the traditional style of learning where the teacher talks and the student listens.  My expectation was that they were going to give us step by step instruction on what we need to do to create a workshop and ideas for what we can implement into them.  This did not happen as I expected.

I uncomfortably participated in all activities and grew more and more frustrated as the workshop got closer to an end.  Then, on the afternoon of the second day, something shifted.  It started with an activity where the group had to serve one another by helping and offering assistance, then switch off and receive help from another.  A second activity was called “mind-mapping” where we drew our vision onto paper.  Again, I was a bit frustrated because I already had my vision drawn out, I needed help to put it into action in an organized way.  So I quickly finished the activity and instead of using my turn to talk about my project, I listened to my partner and tried to help her with her brainstorming.  We ended that session with a mindful meditation and off I went to my room.  I took out my notebook and began writing everything that was flowing from my brain.  In 2 hours I had developed a vision statement and outline schedule for my workshop.

That evening we talked about the elements of personality and language and how each person learns and connects differently depending on which personality traits they have.  That night I wrote more and more.  The next morning we spent time having closure with our group.  Tears were shed as group participants shared about how they felt so safe in the room and how they were able to connect with each other in such a short period of time.  We processed the weekend events and how the group leaders helped us to connect to our vision.  I can remember smiling inside as the light bulb turned on and it became clear as to why I was there and how that particular workshop helped me.  It all began to make sense and the words I had flowing through my brain were, “You have everything you need inside of you to create a transformational workshop.”

You see, I went there with clear knowledge and vision as to what my purpose in life is.  But what I learned at that workshop has everything to do with you uncovering yours.  I learned that when we are in a safe environment with like-minded people, we are able to connect to our intuition that has everything you need to uncover and live out your life purpose.

The group leaders did not teach us anything I did not already know (although they did provide us with a wonderful manual and help me to put organization to it).  What they did was create an atmosphere that was safe with very few words and a whole lot of skill and wisdom.  They provided us with activities that stimulated our brains through movement, music, meditation, laughter, drawing, storytelling, sharing, touching, serving, etc.  These activities, combined with the safety in the room, allowed for a connection between the brain and soul.   And when that happens, our intuition is released uncovering our purposes.  It took me a little while to let down my guard and fully connect to my fellow group members, but once I did, my purpose that weekend flowed right out onto paper.

So my advice to you if you are feeling stuck with regard to who, when, where, why, what and how you are to matter in this life is to find like-minded people and connect with them.  You can do this by joining a group, spiritual study or taking a workshop with like-minded people.  You have everything you need inside of you, you just need to connect to it.

Keep connecting with those whom God puts on your path. Your fire will ignite and your purpose will become clear.

If you would like more support and guidance with regard to exploring your purposes, check out my RENEWED program at http://www.renewedmindbodyspirit.wordpress.com.

Peace and blessings,

Katie

How to Find Purpose and Meaning in Your Life

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Often times people come to me with feelings of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment in their life. They express feeling like something is missing. The following is the most recent chapter in my guide, “Healing Your Relationship with Food and Breaking the Cycle in Your Home.” It explores finding your purpose in life.

Who knew that healing your relationship with food would lead to finding purpose in your life. I’ve talked about purpose throughout this guide. But what do I mean by purpose in life and how does one get there? Both are two very good questions. I believe each person’s purpose is very different. And I also believe each person finds their purpose in a different way and through different circumstances in their life. So how can this chapter help you if your purpose is different from mine? The answer is simple. Take everything you just learned in this guide and apply it to purpose and your purpose will come to you. In this chapter I will show you how I applied the guidelines in this book to help me uncover and live out my purpose.

1. Get real about your story. By writing out my life story I was able to identify my struggles. I was able to acknowledge where I came from and what I believed. I was able to be honest about things I’ve done and how those things impacted my life. But most importantly, I was able to recognize that my story is in the past and is not happening now. Therefore, I no longer need to abuse myself like I did in the past. My story has made me who I am today. I would not have the depth of knowledge regarding food issues if I did not have my story. I would not be able to come out of the mess I was in and I would not be writing this guide for you to read. My story brought me to my purposes in life. I’m not at all saying that everyone who has struggles with food will go on to write a book or work in a field to help others overcome their food issues. I am saying that your story makes you who you are today. It is the storm you have to go through to find strength, courage, wisdom, and faith. Your story is your testimony to others. Your testimony to others is part of your purpose.

2. Stop letting rules control your life and go for it! I lived my life with rule after rule. Rules controlled my eating. Rules controlled who I was. Rules controlled what I believed. Rules controlled how I did my job. Along my journey of healing and learning to live intuitively, I learned that life is not all about rules. I learned the difference between rules and boundaries. Boundaries are necessary to keep people safe and healthy. Boundaries are different for everyone. Rules assume that everyone is the same and that everyone’s body, mind and spirit work the same way. I learned that I need to incorporate healthy boundaries into my life and get rid of all the rules. For example, I used to work in a large mental health counseling agency. For 10 years I practiced counseling under the rules of the company and the code of ethics I was taught. I left my job in community mental health to open a small private practice where I could be free to express myself intuitively and help people the way my spirit was guiding me to . I have boundaries in my private practice that allow me to keep both myself and my clients safe, but they are not the same for every person. My boundaries differ from client to client. I started a life coaching program to allow these boundaries to be different and looser for those who needed different supports. I started writing about myself and my life experience to teach and help others. I started to express myself in ways I did not know existed for me.

3. Eat intuitively. Month three explored intuitive eating. I found that as I began to eat intuitively, I began to tap into my intuition. I learned how to listen to my body not only when it came to eating. I learned that my body, mind and spirit were also guiding me in other ways too. Intuitive eating led me to learn about intuitive living. When I eat certain foods, I do not feel well. When I move certain ways I do not feel well. I learned to eat and move in a way that feels good for my body, mind and spirit. I apply this theory to purpose as well. Before I opened up private practice I worked independently for a few months in an occupational therapy practice with kids. The kids were very young. Many of them were under 5. This made me very uncomfortable as it was just not my thing. The environment I was working in was not what I visioned either. It created a lot of anxiety for me and a bad feeling in my stomach. I was not feeling alive or full of life when I went to work. I was feeling anxious and stressed. I was beginning to doubt myself and talk down to myself. I learned that my intuition was trying to tell me through my feelings that this was not the place for me. I left there and shortly after had another vision to go out on my own an open my private practice. It has been the most amazing experience. The feelings I get each day are completely different. I feel alive and fulfilled most days. I feel right about where I am. My spirit feels bright. I’ve helped many women and men find their life purpose. The way I do that is by guiding them to tap into their intuition. Many of them have left their jobs to open practices of their own usually doing something that is helping others. One woman I worked with opened a health club to help other women learn how to take care of their bodies. One woman is currently working toward her vision of opening a sober house and putting together programs for families of addicts. She also has a vision of incorporating spiritual life coaching. Another woman is working toward opening a massage therapy practice and incorporating her skills in holistic health. One woman that came to me was already living out her passion regarding her job. She continued to do her job grooming animals, but was able to find purpose in other ways by becoming part of a new church environment and being a testimony for others. So you don’t have to leave your current job to find purpose. However, most people on this path do leave behind jobs they were not happy in and relationships that did not fulfill them.

4. Do not give the inner critic power. This is a big one. During my journey of learning to live intuitively, I battled a nasty inner critic. Infact, I think I learned that much of my problem came from this inner critic thinking. It took a few years to really learn how to coach myself. In the beginning of my journey the inner critic had much more power over me because it was all I knew. I did not know about the inner coach. But once I began practicing coaching myself I became more rational and much braver. I was able to let go of fear. The inner critic’s role is create fear to keep us from living out our purpose. Fear says, “What if I fail?” The coach says, “But what if you fly?” The biggest thing I learned and the most powerful thing I share with clients is that if you truly follow a path of intuitive living, you cannot and will not fail. There is one of two things that is true when faced with a vision of purpose. The first is that your spirit is guiding you to live out purpose and will provide you with all the knowledge and resources to carry that purpose out. The second is that you have a vision but you find that it was is not spirit led. If this is the case, you still cannot fail. I learned that God can turn anything and I mean anything into something for His greater good. I will give you an example. I was involved with a very codependent and unhealthy relationship. But at the time I did not know it was unhealthy. Infact, I thought for sure it was spirit led because we had so much in common spiritually. We were on similar paths. But there were some major red flags that warned me that it was unhealthy. A new direction and path evolved for me as this relationship fell apart. Lots of growth, wisdom, knowledge and this great loss led me spiritually down a completely different path that I would have never found if I did not know this person or have this pain of losing her. I do not believe that God wanted me to be hurt in this relationship, as He put many signs out there and my spirit warned me with my feelings many times that it felt bad. But He did turn my grief into an amazing path full of purpose. As I began to listen to my spirit guide, I began to let go of this relationship and build stronger healthier relationships. I was also led to my private practice and teaching self-care to women. Things are falling into place as I continue to follow my intuition.

5. Surrender your will and your life to God. This is another very difficult step to take. True surrender took me almost 15 years to understand. I was 21 years old when I began my spiritual journey. I studied step three in the twelve steps for 15 years. Step three says to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. I prayed and beg to finally surrender my food issues to God. But I kept taking my will back. I just didn’t get it. One day I became completely powerless. It was the time in my life where I had nothing to give and nothing left in me. I was at my absolute bottom. It was in that moment that I had no choice but to surrender everything. I had no control and I knew it. I still try to take my will back today. But I am learning to be more aware of it when I do. I understand life on a whole new level today. I believe that my life is not mine. My body is not mine. My children and family are not really mine. They are gifts from a power greater than me. I was chosen to have these things in my life. My husband, my children, my house, my body, my private practice. They are all temporary and they are gifts and blessings I received. Each of them serve a purpose in my life to give me strength, hope, love, inspiration and so on. But they are not mine. They are mine temporarily for me to live in and live with. They are entrusted in me to take care of. They are resources I can use to live out my purpose. Looking at my life this way helps me to surrender each and every day. I do believe there is a much greater purpose in life. That purpose being eternal life after death. Eternal freedom in a world in which we cannot understand or begin to comprehend. But while we are here on earth, we have earthly purpose to do good and have an impact on the world and impact on what that eternal world will look like. During my prayer time, I tell God that I will do ANYTHING He asks of me. Being willing to do anything is true surrender. Through living out this prayer and surrendering my will to God, I am challenged to make changes that scare me, but I am blessed with more than I could ever want or imagine. I am blessed with true fulfillment and great peace and joy.

6. Practice Prayer, Meditation and Yoga. This one speaks for itself. Another mantra I live by today is “pray, listen, obey”. As I shared in the chapter on prayer, meditation and yoga, it was through these behaviors that I was able to connect with my intuition. It was through these actions that I was able to feel the light within. I am told by many that they are not able to hear their spirit speak to them. Many are confused about what it sounds like or what it feels like. Please do not misunderstand me. I do not hear voices in my head. It is not like that at all. Through prayer, meditation and yoga I am given thoughts and visions. When I get the thought or vision I pray and meditate more about them. Often times I will get feelings associated with these thoughts and visions. If it is a spirit led vision and I get a bright positive feeling. If it is not spirit led, then I usually get a dark yucky feeling. Sometimes I don’t get a feeling at all and the vision goes away. So I have two guidelines I follow when determining whether or not to act on a vision. The first is to assess whether it gives you a bright feeling or a dark feeling. And the second guideline is the 24 hour rule. When my son played football for the first time, his coach sat all the parents down and told them about the 24 hour rule. He explained that throughout the season there would be times when parents will get upset with how the games are going and will be tempted to gossip to each other or complain to the coaches. He discouraged the gossiping completely and asked that the parents give their thoughts and feelings 24 hours before sending out a nasty email to the coaches. This rule really hit home for me and helped me learn to sit with something for at least 24 hours. Today I may sit with something even longer. Often times my vision will go away and not come back. The visions that persist and get stronger are the ones to pursue.

7. Allow Yourself to Feel and Embrace Changes. If you are on a spiritual and intuitive path seeking purpose, you will find that change happens regularly and sometimes even rapidly. In month seven I spoke about the stages of change. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been through these stages, but I can tell you it happens a lot and very regularly. The biggest thing I learned regarding these stages is that I was not allowing myself to go through these stages before and I was therefore getting stuck. Once I began to allow myself to feel all the feelings associated with change, I was able to embrace them, feel them and move on. My path and purpose has changed and evolved so much over the years. My purpose 20 years ago was much different from my vision today. I do believe it was part of my purpose and plan to work in community mental health. I know this because I loved it. I felt fulfilled for 10 years. But eventually I began to crave more and that purpose changed. My feelings began to change at work and I began to have duller and darker feelings. It was then that I knew I needed to move on and seek fulfillment again. Your purpose will evolve if you allow it to. It will not be the same forever. I always tell my clients that today I am working in private practice and I absolutely love it. I have no idea where I will be in 1 year. But I do know that if I continue to live intuitively, my life will continue to evolve and I will be blessed more and more.

8. Practice Intuitive Movement to get positive energy flowing and unblock toxic negative energy. Movement has been a very important tool on my journey. For me my moments of intuitive movement have been some of my greatest moments of clarity. People have a hard time believing me when I share that I hear God the most when I am exercising at the gym. I truly believe that if we seek intuitive movement it will help us to unblock stagnant and toxic energies in our body, mind and spirit. I believe that intuitive movement helps my spirit guide to move freely through me. My movement has become part of my meditation. My movement is not always slow. I enjoy running, spinning and weight lifting. I do not do these things to lose weight, but more because it is what my body craves. Through these activities I am able to open my body mind and spirit and get positive energy flowing. My body works better with movement.

9. Build a spiritual and healthy support system. I shared in month 9 that I lost many relationships through my journey of learning how to live intuitively. But I also shared that I was able to build a support system full of spiritually wise men and women who encourage, support and challenge me to seek my purpose. Healthy support is necessary when seeking and living your life purpose. I realize now that although my friends and family love me, many of them are unfortunately not on a spiritual path. Many of them fear change and are very close minded. Those people were keeping my thoughts stuck. They were feeding my inner critic and keeping me from making changes in my life. It wasn’t until I let go of those people, places and things that I was able to fully embrace my purpose. I replaced negative relationships with positive ones that foster growth and change.

10. Clean up the amount of toxic chemicals in your life. The last chapter I spoke about was truly being honest with what I am putting into my body and letting go of toxic substances. This was very important for me especially since I failed so many times at achieving this goal. I looked at food as a good and bad and today I look at food as a fuel that has effects on my body, mind and spirit. Man has changed our food so much through the years. It is becoming more and more toxic and physically changes the brain. As I began to clean up my food by eating more and more whole natural foods, I began to think clearer. My body began to work better. My spirit began to connect more and on a deeper level. I believe that the chemicals in the foods we eat and the environment we live destroy not only our natural cues, but also creates a fog in us that keeps us blinded and living in the dark. The cleaner I eat, the less stagnant I feel and the more energy flows through me.

I am going to sum this chapter up into 10 guidelines for spiritual growth.

1. Your story is your testimony.
2. Boundaries not rules.
3. Your body is a vessel so take care of it.
4. If you listen to what everybody thinks you should do and do what everybody wants you to do, then you will stay stagnant.
5. Be willing to do anything.
6. Pray, listen, obey.
7. Embrace change.
8. Move your body to unblock negative energy and promote positive energy.
9. Surround yourself with positive people, places and things that encourage and support you and detach from negative ones.
10. Be one with nature.

Feel free to write them on an index card and put them in a place you will remember. You can apply them to your journey with intuitive eating and also with finding your life purpose. Remember, each person’s life purpose is different. And your purpose can evolve and change over time. What may have been your purpose 10 years ago may no longer be your purpose today. But know that you are here for a reason. Your passions are yours for a reason. You get bright feelings and dark feelings for a reason. When you are living your purpose you fill fulfilled and full of joy. You were chosen to be here and you are equipped with everything you need to seek and live out your life purpose. You cannot and will not fail.

If you would like to explore your purpose further or would like to learn more about how I can help you overcome your unhealthy relationship with food, please check out my website at http://www.mindbodyspiritcounseling.net. I offer a 12 week online program using my guide “Healing Your Relationship with Food” which can be purchased on Amazon.com. I also offer one on one life coaching and individual counseling services. Don’t forget to “LIKE” Mind, Body, Spirit Counseling on Facebook!!