30-day writing challenge: manifesting your goals

Several years ago, I was in a job that made me very unhappy, and the message I kept getting from the Universe was “have faith and quit.” I knew that was the right approach, but I was stuck on the question of what I would do with my time once I quit. I wanted to make the most of it. I set a date in my mind of when I would resign and gave myself a month to come up with a plan.

My mind was swirling with different scenarios, so each morning for a month, I pretended like I’d already quit my job and wrote a page or less on what I was doing with my time that day. I wrote in present tense (for instance, “I am designing” instead of “I will design”) and really explored each scenario as if it was actually happening. I tried to free myself from limiting thoughts and write about not only what I did, but how I felt.

By the end of the month, I had 30 detailed examples of how I could use my time and felt so confident in my decision to quit my job.

Writing challenge tips

This process could be applied to anything — your next job, relationship, health goals, financial aspirations, etc. If the idea of an open-ended topic feels too unwieldly, you could always choose different themes to write about each week; for instance, if your goal is a new romantic relationship, your weekly themes could be: how we met, the first trips we took together, little ways we show each other unconditional love and how we plan for our future.

If you do decide to commit to the challenge, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Try not to cover too many topics at one time. By focusing on one scenario at a time and exploring each idea fully, I was able to silence the chaotic chatter in my brain and unlock my creativity.
  2. Write around the same time each day. By writing everything down at a designated time, I set my intention with the Universe and kept my mind from spinning on the topic throughout the day. I’m not a morning person, but first-thing in the morning worked best for me.
  3. Not everyone is a writer. If the idea of sitting down to write seems daunting, you can explore other creative forms of expression like bullet journaling or drawing.
  4. Don’t overthink it. The goal here is tapping into your inner knowing and setting intentions, not perfection. If you find yourself getting stuck or self editing before you even begin, just start writing. You can even write about your writer’s block or frustration, just get something on paper, and I promise, ideas will start to flow.

Spring is a wonderful time for manifesting and new beginnings. Please let me know if you decide to try the writing challenge and how it goes for you!

Celebrating your whole self

Imagine this scenario: a 10-year old girl has curly hair that she loves. She’s the only person in her class with curly hair. It’s the one way she feels unique and special. It’s a major part of her identity. It’s the one thing about herself she wouldn’t change.

Then one day, her grandmother comes to visit. The little girl has on her favorite dress. She runs to give her grandmother a hug, and her grandmother makes a comment to the girl’s mother about her wild, frizzy hair. The little girl is devastated by her grandmother’s offhanded comment. She feels ashamed of her hair and embarrassed that it’s not like the other girls in her class. She starts asking her mom to blow dry it straight for her. Every day is a battle to cover up her true self. Years go by. When she’s in high school, a well-meaning hairdresser suggests a Brazilian blowout to chemically straighten her hair. The old belief that she’s not good enough is reinforced…

Now imagine the same story, but replace her curly hair with a quirky sense of humor, a “nerdy” hobby, below average athletic skills or any other quality that might set a child apart. We all have experienced childhood trauma in some form. We all have had a moment or moments like this one that profoundly changed how we viewed ourselves and how we in turn presented ourselves to the world.

The details don’t matter. What matters is that those viewpoints are lies…lies that we initially believed because we were young and impressionable. More often than not, they came from someone else’s hurt….their feelings of inadequacy. Maybe the little girl’s grandmother was told by her own mother that her hair needed to be straight, so her pain trickled down to haunt another generation. The lies start small, but they compound as the years go by.

It’s so incredibly healing to trace those lies back to their origin…to the moment they all started…and see them through the eyes of an adult, not a child. Recognize that the person who said them was weak and hurting and that their actions or comments actually had nothing to do with you. Let that sink in: they have nothing to do with you.

This process takes time, but once you see your past in a new light, you can’t unsee it. You will become more accepting of yourself, the real you. You’ll proudly show that side of you to the world. And when that happens, you will stop attracting situations and people that reinforce the lies you once believed. It will dramatically change your life and set you on your true course.

Nudges from angel numbers

When I began my spiritual journey, I awakened to the fact that there is a majestic fabric of wisdom and love connecting all of us with one another and with nature. I opened myself up to receiving information from my surroundings and got so much more present in my daily life.

One of the most incredible tools for receiving guidance I’ve experienced has been angel numbers, also known as number sequences. Joanne Sacred Scribes says, “Angels and those of the spiritual realm do their best to get our attention and to communicate with us. In this way, they help us heal our own lives. However, we often discount the signs that they give us, writing them off as mere coincidences or our imagination.”

Numbers can show up differently for different people. Some come across recurring numbers several times in a row; for instance, they’ll wake up at 6:24 am every morning before their alarm goes off. Or they’ll see the number 4230 show up multiple times in one day: what they owe for buying gas ($42.30), a number on a license plate and as part of a mailing address.

Typically, the angel numbers I receive happen when my cell phone lights up for no apparent reason, when my computer screensaver turns off even though I haven’t touched my computer or some other inexplicable technology phenomenon happens. I immediately look at the time and look up the meaning of the number. Joanne Sacred Scribes is my favorite source for angel number meanings, but try a few and find one that works for you. The numbers I receive typically are specific and tied to whatever I’m going through at that time; they offer support, guidance and advice.

I know this can sound completely far fetched if you’ve never experienced it for yourself, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being skeptical. Try it for yourself and see what you think. You can set the intention by sitting quietly and saying or thinking something along the lines of: “I’m open to receiving angel numbers in my life, and I’ll try to be mindful when I notice them. Thank you.”

Let me know if you try it and what you discover along the way!

5 methods for manifesting positive change in your life

Manifesting is the act of bringing something into your life simply by focusing on it. It’s also referred to as the law of attraction; you attract into your life what you think about and believe to be true. Anyone can do it. In fact, we’re all manifesting our life into reality all the time, whether we do it consciously or not. That’s an incredibly empowering thought: we can do it without even trying. But here’s the catch: manifesting cuts both ways. We can manifest both things that are good for us and things that aren’t, which means our thoughts, beliefs and intentions matter just as much as more tangible behaviors like daily routines, decisions we make and actions we take. The energetic sweet spot happens when we align what we think with what we do and focus all of our attention on one goal.

In our society, we place so much value on what we do and tend to ignore what we think. A friend of mine desperately wants to find her soul mate and actively takes steps to meet people. But the men she attracts are toxic, and she repeatedly feels disappointed. She’s attracting the wrong type of man into her life because deep down she doesn’t feel good enough to deserve love. Each relationship reinforces her belief that she’s isn’t loveable. The limiting narrative she believes about herself is blocking her ability to find a healthy relationship and keeping her in a pattern of unhappiness.

Manifesting can feel intimidating, especially if you’ve never mindfully done it. To make it feel more natural, try to find a method that works best for you. Below are a few suggestions to get you started. It’s also so important to remember that no matter what method you decide on, there’s a fine line between healthy manifesting and attachment; ultimately, you should embody your goal body, mind and spirit and then release your attachment to the outcome. This sounds counterintuitive, but there’s a big component of trust in the Universe and yourself at play. In my friend’s example, she could set an intention like “I want to meet someone who makes me feel unconditional love,” and then let go of attachment to the details like the timeline of when they’ll meet. Any attempt to control the process inherently implies a lack of trust and without full belief, manifesting doesn’t work.

Decision making. In The Real Magic Podcast (episode “New Year, New Witch” from January 17), Mallory Leone describes how she manifested her new home. During the months she was looking, she made every decision based on whether it brought her closer to her goal. For instance, the answer to “do I buy this new purse?” is “no, I want to minimize how much stuff I have to move.” I’ve never tried this approach, but it seems like a very logical framework and a good way to constantly bring your focus back to your goal.

Vision board. A vision board is a great method for manifesting your goals, particularly if you’re a visual person. There are so many variations you can try apart from the traditional poster board approach. You can decorate an entire wall of your home, create a digital version for your desktop wallpaper or phone lock screen. Pinterest is a wonderful source of inspiration. You can try creating it around the time of the new moon which is considered an effective time for new beginnings and manifesting.

Mantra. A mantra is a statement or slogan repeated frequently like “I am worthy of love” or “I will find a career aligned to my purpose.” You can meditate on your mantra, repeat it to yourself first thing in the morning or during predictable times like while driving. You can write in on your bathroom mirror, your phone wallpaper, on a piece of jewelry, in your planner or use it as a password. If you’re also designing a vision board, include your mantra on it. Get creative and incorporate it into your daily life in multiple places for constant reminders.

The Circle. The Circle by Laura Day is an incredible step-by-step guide to manifesting, from beginning to end. The book addresses each phase of manifestation and includes a workbook to work through topics like inner and outer roadblocks, rituals that support your goals and making space for transformation. Laura’s language is so powerful and uplifting. She says, “For every internal part of you — each thought, wish, fear, experience — there is an external coordinate. When you change the message in your being, in your very atoms, this change affects every person and every event on the planet — and sets in motion the unlimited power of the Universe. Miracles begin to happen for you.” I highly recommend this book for those at the beginning stages of making positive changes in their lives.

Daily writing exercise. I was in a job that made me very unhappy, and the message I kept getting from the Universe was “have faith and quit.” I knew that was the right approach, but I was stuck on the question of what I would do with my time once I quit. I wanted to make the most of it. I set a date in my mind of when I would resign and gave myself a month to come up with a plan. My mind was swirling with different scenarios, so each morning for a month, I pretended like I’d already quit my job and wrote a page or less on what I was doing with my time that day. I wrote in present tense and really explored each scenario as if it was actually happening. I tried to free myself from limiting thoughts and write about not only what I did, but how I felt. By the end of the month, I had 30 detailed examples of how I could use my time and felt so confident in my decision. You could try this process to write about anything — your next job, relationship, health goals, etc.

Validating your trauma

The term “trauma” gets thrown around a lot in the context of personal growth. When I first started on my journey, I believed that trauma resulted from a catastrophic event or unhealthy environment…that it was reserved for victims of extreme suffering brought on by poverty, physical abuse or being raised by a parent battling addiction. I struggled to see how healing from trauma could be relevant for me, because I didn’t believe I had any.

While extreme poverty, abuse and addiction are certainly examples of situations that can breed trauma, the human experience itself exposes us to trauma. Growing up in an oppressive household or culture. Getting bullied. Experiencing complicated family dynamics. Living in a misogynistic culture. We all have trauma, and a lot of it stems from our formative years as children. Just because other people might have more acute trauma doesn’t mean that our own is invalidated or unfounded. Like me, you can’t address trauma until you know it’s there.

It’s so easy to let that pain – whether we acknowledge it or not – fester as adults. We see patterns in our lives like finding ourselves in the same types of relationships, work environments or stagnant situations, but don’t understand why. Until we identify the culprit, the fear, the insecurity that’s become our inner compass, we will continue to attract and find ourselves in these unhealthy situations, time and time again.

If we don’t acknowledge our trauma and work to heal it, we find ourselves letting it dictate the direction of our lives. We give it power.

As new parents, my husband and I have been very conscientious about working on ourselves, not only because it’s healthy for us individually and as a couple, but also so that we don’t pass our trauma on to our children. If allowed, trauma will spill over into every aspect of our lives, including our ability to parent; the work we’re doing will help ensure that the cycle of patterns ends with us and doesn’t get passed to the next generation.

If you’re interested in starting or intensifying your own journey, I highly recommend The Seeker’s Manual by Arda. The book, along with Arda’s one-on-one teachings, profoundly changed my life.

Patterns in relationships & breaking free from “your type”

I spent 15 years dating men that were “my type” with the hope of discovering my soulmate. But I uncovered my childhood trauma instead.

Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I shared with my girlfriends how downright uncanny it was that so many of the guys I dated were basically carbon copies of each other.

Their careers, hobbies, family issues, insecurities – and their birth order. I noticed several specific patterns, including a brief phase of dating men who were first-born twins. Not just one, but several guys I dated, couldn’t whistle. You can’t make this stuff up.

Our culture teaches us that we’re born liking or disliking certain traits, as if our type is genetically ingrained in us. How many times do we decide the fate of a new prospect by answering the question: “are they my type?”

But as relationships came and went, I began to wonder: if this type of man is my destiny, then frankly why am I not happy in these relationships?

Finding a life coach

I felt confused and unable to find a path forward to happiness. I began to explain my frustration about feeling stuck in multiple areas of my life with close friends and colleagues. One day at work, a coworker pulled me aside and recommended that I speak to her life coach, Arda.

She credited Arda – and a lot of hard work – with helping her tap into her own power. He helped her dig deep and undergo truly life-changing personal work to imagine a new reality for herself. Her conviction was contagious. I immediately emailed him to request an appointment.

Session after session, we began to peel back the layers of my type, the caricature that I’d unconsciously been seeking for most of my adult life. Arda taught me that patterns like the ones I’d noticed aren’t serendipitous signs from the Universe that I’d found my soulmate.

Quite the contrary. These patterns are cycles formed by fear, insecurity and trauma. When carefully studied, they can illuminate your past, delivering insights into a totally unknown part of yourself, your inner child.

With Arda’s guidance, I painstakingly examined my patterns. They exposed how I saw myself and revealed made-up stories that I’d believed about myself for as long as I could remember.

Believing the lies

These lies can be hard to detect because we have believed them for so long. So many people grow up believing they’re unlovable, that love is conditional or that they’re not smart enough to achieve their dreams.

These lies reflect our biggest fears. Whether or not we like what we believe, they are our truth, and challenging that truth is scary. But until we address them, we unknowingly seek out circumstances that reinforce our beliefs, allowing the lies to spread. Like many people, I attracted a type of partner who would allow me to continue to perpetuate my lies because it felt familiar and comfortable.

My patterns

For me, the pattern of dating men in finance reflected my need to live a safe, conventional life. As a child, I never quite fit in with my conservative environment, and I lived in fear of being exposed as eclectic and odd. So I made life choices that put me on the “right” path: a college education, a corporate job, health insurance – to find an equally stable and conventional partner. I attracted “normal,” successful men so that I would feel normal and successful.

I also exclusively dated firstborns. During the process of getting to know myself, I read The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are by Dr. Kevin Leman. As with most studies on human psychology, there are nuances to Dr. Leman’s findings, but in general, first-born and only children tend to feel the most pressure from their parents to be perfect. They also are high-achieving leaders. At the time Dr. Leman published his book, 28 out of 44 U.S. presidents were firstborns or functional firstborns. These children often adapt to the pressure they feel by becoming organized, reliable, type A perfectionists.

I am an only child – what Dr. Leman affectionately refers to as “super firstborns,” effectively a first born on steroids. As an only child painstakingly attuned to the needs of my parents, I am incredibly skilled at anticipating my partners’ emotional needs: preventing downturns and calming turbulence. Giving at all costs without taking. I see this pattern in so many of my female loved ones, too.

Because I was hiding my true self, I felt powerless and unknowingly sought out a partner to impart a false sense of power by association so that I could hide from my own strength. I could rely on someone else to be decisive, have a plan and take risks. I attracted leaders so that I wouldn’t have to lead.

The final pattern I noticed in my relationships was related to family trauma, specifically brought on by an overbearing, well-intentioned, hyper-critical parent. This upbringing yielded highly functioning men with anxiety and extreme emotional needs.

In the early stages of a relationship, because of my conditioning, this role felt familiar, comfortable and safe. “If he needs me,” says the fear, “then he won’t notice that I’m not loveable. He will rely on me to bring him stability. I will make myself indispensable.”

Then, like clockwork, I began to feel drained, unfulfilled, resentful and unseen. I attracted men who needed me so that I would feel needed. For me, this pattern was the most dangerous trap of all.

Breaking free

Now, many years into this work of self-discovery, I am married and in a relationship that is more expansive, joyful and deeply fulfilling than I could have imagined. My husband is my balance. He helps me recognize and address my lies and celebrate my truth. And while I see some of the old type in him, there’s one critical difference: he does his own work. I help him identify his patterns, but he doesn’t rely on me to fix him. I give a lot in our relationship, but I’m allowed to take a lot, too.

Lies don’t just show up in romantic relationships; you’ll find them at work, in interactions with friends, in your decision making and pretty much everywhere else.

Here’s where it gets tricky: society often rewards our coping behavior. You might skip a meal because you’re busy finishing a project at school or work. Or you might offer to host your extended family for the holidays even though you desperately don’t want to. Or you might fail to set boundaries with a toxic friend who’s going through a tough time. These transgressions, however minor, are warnings that you’ve lost your way. They are micro-indicators of more complex justifications, tradeoffs and prioritizations. Over time, they can erode your self-respect and deplete your soul.

But the beauty of the work of self discovery is that once you notice your patterns and you let them reveal the lies you once believed, then you begin to surrender from the grip they have on your life. Your knowledge is freedom.

In this over-programmed, frenetic world of ours, we don’t always make time for yoga, meditation, journaling, wellness retreats or even quiet reflection. But surely we can make time to notice our patterns and listen as they whisper our truths. The journey of self love begins there.