Discovering divine love…in the bathroom

Something profoundly changed within me last night. My husband usually gets our oldest daughter, Aurelia, bathed and to sleep while I make dinner. Last night, he was working, so I did more of the bedtime routine and shared such sweet, tender moments with both babies. One of my favorite things to do is draw one of them up very close on my chest and wrap a blanket over both of us. The feeling satisfies something very primal within me. I realized last night that it’s almost like a womb, with baby and me so close together, tucked away, warm and shielded behind an outward covering.

The more I think about it, the more the past year and the next few years to come feel like the womb, too. We spend nearly all of our time at home, nurturing our babies, protecting them, loving them and watching them grow. Two short years ago, my husband and I went into offices every day. We traveled extensively for work and for pleasure. We commuted and went to happy hours and hosted dinner parties. And now, in our little bubble with our babies, we incubate and relish the simplicity of our days. Our lifestyle was partially shaped by COVID — my husband now works from home indefinitely — and partially by babies born 14 months apart in June 2021 and August 2022. While I was pregnant, I was amazed at how much I was forced to slow down; I wasn’t able to walk very quickly, multi-task or ignore rest. I’ve managed to hold onto those lessons and truly appreciate our routine and the pace of life with two babies…leisurely strolls around the neighborhood, hour-long meals, a complete reframing of what it means to be productive.

In an instant during bedtime last night, I realized what had shifted for me. For the the first, maybe ever, I felt fully present in the moment. It didn’t happen during yoga or meditation. I was untangling and hanging twinkle lights in the bathroom and singing silly songs while Aurelia splashed around in the tub, and it struck me that THIS IS IT. I wasn’t thinking about what I needed to get done after she was asleep. I wasn’t worried about her little sister Camille waking up from her nap. I was fully immersed in the moment. In our beautiful, exhausting, monotonous, multi-sensory, technicolor life of diapers and bottles and first words and first steps and pinching ourselves every day that they’re ours. For months, my husband and I have randomly looked at each and said “We’re married?! We have two kids?!?” because it’s all felt so surreal.

But after that moment in the bathroom, I thought with so much conviction as I held Camille later in the evening, that nothing has ever felt more like real life, like my life. Years from now, I’ll lie in bed at night remembering these beautiful early days of getting to know two precious souls, and I’ll smile. I’ll imagine the cheeky, exuberant expression that crosses Aurelia’s face when she shows us for the first time that she’s learned something new. Or the way that Camille beams and wiggles in excitement every time she catches one of us gazing at her. They are the light of my life, and I’m so blessed.

Not everything is easy, of course. There are tantrums and sleepless nights and teething pains and shortened tempers. I’ve struggled with missing meaningful self care time to ground myself and recharge spiritually. As a couple, we try to remember that each challenge shows us something new about ourselves and ultimately helps us grow; sometimes it works and sometimes it’s only aspirational. But every day, we feel the love of our girls, we appreciate the abundance in our life and we’re deeply humbled that they chose us. And nothing brings me closer to spirit — to divine love — than that.

Remembering your future and other wisdom from Dr. Joe Dispenza

I’ve been in a bit of a spiritual slump lately and decided to read Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza for inspiration. I first heard about the book during an interview with the author on The goop Podcast, which I’m ashamed to say was several years ago. I found an old list of books to read this week, and seeing Becoming Supernatural on the list, took it as a sign to start it.

I finished the book last night, so I’m still processing some of the nuances, but I wanted to share a summary while the content is still fresh.

A science-based approach to mystical experiences

According to the book’s description, Dr. Joe Dispenza “draws on research conducted at his advanced workshops since 2012 to explore how common people are doing the uncommon to transform themselves and their lives.” Specifically, he takes a science-based approach to studying the effects of different types of meditation on individuals and, when conducted as a group, the collective. He also includes relevant research done by other scientists on topics like the mind body connection and the impact of heart coherence on society as a whole. Their findings blew me away. Although he gets deep into the science, Dr. Dispenza uses simple explanations and helpful examples to make the content approachable.

A method for “remembering your future”

Although Dr. Dispenza doesn’t use the word “manifesting” more than a few times in the book, his entire approach is focused on getting out of the routine of our daily lives, releasing limiting beliefs holding us back from reaching our goals and using several processes he outlines in the book to imagine our future selves in such a tangible, sensory way that our bodies, minds and spirits actually believe and operate as if that future self already exists. He encourages his students to step out of each meditation as a new person. (If you’re interested in manifestation, I wrote about other approaches to manifesting here.)

One of the most profound studies he cites was done on two groups of people who were learning to play the piano: one group practiced by actually playing the instrument while the second group only visualized it. The study looked at the brains of all of the participants and found no difference. In other words, by simply focusing our attention and intentions, we can make our brains believe that a future that we only imagined is reality. In doing so, we bring about profound change and attract a life that’s energetically aligned to our new selves. He gives dozens of examples of people who have manifested better health, relationships and jobs for themselves through his approach.

However, the reverse is also true. When we are stuck in the past, reliving past traumas and feeling an emotional response to those experiences, our bodies don’t know the difference between a memory and reality, so our physical bodies respond as if the event is happening again and again, putting us in a constant state of fight or flight. We become so used to these hormones, even though they’re uncomfortable, that we continue to seek out ways to perpetuate the cycle. and stay attached to negative feelings like anger, resentment and victimization.

Dr. Dispenza uses meditation as a means to liberate the energy that is tied up with our negative emotions, invent our future selves, access information from the quantum, initiate metaphysical experiences and fill ourselves with love and light.

Easy-to-replicate meditations

Dr. Dispenza describes each of the major concepts he teaches during his workshops in this book and then follows each with a detailed meditation that readers can try at home on their own. It includes meditations that focus on the body’s energy centers, the pineal gland, trapped energy within the body and heart coherence, among others. You can access recordings of the meditations on his website. (Fair warning, they’re pricey.) If you’re like me and prefer guided meditations, you could easily write your own script based on the outlines in the book, record your own meditation and save yourself $30 🙂

Other resources:

Dr. Dispenza has written other books including You Are the Placebo and Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.

He also has a blog, a summary of scientific research and other interesting content on his website.

If you really want to dive in, he continues to host workshops and launched a virtual course with Gaia.

What’s the origin of your fear?

Yesterday, I had my 15-week prenatal appointment with my midwife. During every appointment, she goes through a checklist of questions related to my physical and emotional wellbeing. This time, when she asked about how I’m doing emotionally, I paused. I told her about the anxiety I’ve felt related to violence in our area, particularly gun violence related to kids. I also talked about how my fears around COVID really flared up around the holidays and into January.

As she let me ramble, I had a major realization: my anxiety and fear actually had very little to do with COVID and the violence we’ve seen on the news. Rationally, I know that we’re safe. We make thoughtful choices, and we’re not taking many (if any) risks to put us in harm’s way. I realized that I have some unaddressed fear as a new mom that’s been compounded by the fact that I’m pregnant again. Out of shame for not living up to my own standards, I wasn’t allowing myself to express that fear, so instead I attached it to two very real, widespread and acceptable fears…COVID and gun violence.

The reasons those fears have persisted and evolved into anxiety is because I hadn’t addressed their root cause. By allowing myself to be honest about the more vulnerable cause – motherhood can be scary – I continue to accept my whole self and show myself some grace. I also have the opportunity to evaluate my own expectations. Do I judge other mothers for their fears as parents? Absolutely not. So why do I judge myself?

All that to say, our fears as parents are valid. But there’s a big difference between recognizing fears, taking proper precautions and letting them go and what I was doing…taking proper precautions and then continuing to worry.

If you find yourself caught in a fear-based cycle of feeling anxious and attempting to control situations, it’s worth checking in. Have you taken precautions? Are you still worrying? What can you let go? Know that your fears are valid, but they don’t have to control you.

One piece of advice that’s worked for me is to find an emotional anchor that you can come back to again and again when you feel yourself slipping into anxious mode. For me, that’s a deep conviction that the house we moved into a couple years ago was divine intervention. The timing, the features and the neighborhood were exactly what we wanted. We are meant to be there as a family and so we are safe.

Parenting as a catalyst for personal growth

Topics related to personal growth and parenting have been on my mind a lot lately: how we’re raised as people pleasers, how to recognize childhood trauma and ways that postpartum healing is as emotional as it is physical.

Digging deep to explore your psyche, separate your true self from learned behaviors and heal old wounds is so incredibly important, especially during the challenging and transformative phase of parenthood. Under the stresses of parenting, you feel conflict (within yourself and with others) more easily and recognize really quickly when things just aren’t working. You’re reminded of your childhood and spend more time contemplating how your wounds and beliefs directly impact another person. Conflict with immediate family members might arise. Anxiety and fear often become more extreme, but so does love. It’s a time of coming to terms with a stark duality: you are both the best and worst versions of yourself.

While parenting can serve as a catalyst for deeper transformation and healing, these lessons and this work aren’t just for parents. In fact, waiting until you become a parent to begin your personal growth journey isn’t ideal; you’d likely set yourself up for a lot of added stress as well as strain on relationships with those closest to you.

That said, if you’re already a parent or about to become one and you haven’t started your journey, it’s absolutely never too late. Take it slow and give yourself permission to feel whatever arises without judgement. The results are so incredibly rewarding and will dramatically change your life.

If you’re looking for a place to begin, I highly recommend The Seeker’s Manual by Arda. You can find other resources for seekers and parents under my resources tab.

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.

How we’re raised as people pleasers

I’ve written before that I’m a fan of Gretchen Rubin and her podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. You might know her from her book The Happiness Project, which is one of those classics that I revisit periodically.

Several years ago, Gretchen wrote another book, The Four Tendencies, that examines what motivates people. She outlines four personality types – Upholder, Questioner, Obliger and Rebel – based on how different people respond to expectations, both external expectations from others as well as internal expectations from ourselves. It’s such a fascinating framework, particularly as you set New Year’s resolutions, raise kids, navigate politics at work and pretty much any other aspect of life that requires interpersonal skills. If you’re curious, you can take the quiz to determine your type here.

Gretchen states that:

  • Upholders want to know what should be done.
  • Questioners want justifications.
  • Obligers need accountability.
  • Rebels want freedom to do something their own way.

As I was taking the quiz, I remember feeling a familiar conflict welling up inside: how we respond to expectations from others, from a sense of duty, from the pressure to put others first. I was a people pleaser for most of my life, but that wasn’t my true nature. I felt trapped, unfulfilled and impotent. If I felt pressured into doing something I didn’t want to or if I worked long hours for a boss I didn’t respect, I lived for mini rebellions like showing up late, missing deadlines or doing something entirely for myself instead. I felt caught yo-yoing between feeling helpless and feeling selfish; during several particularly repressed times in my life, I let the people pleasing go so far that I had to take drastic action to recover (like calling off a wedding, moving to a foreign country, going to a large out-of-state college where I could feel anonymous).

It’s been years since I felt that way, but taking the Four Tendencies quiz took me back to those moments. I felt some unseen pressure to respond the way I was “supposed to” rather than how I actually felt. Because of the work I’ve done to get to know myself over recent years, I know those obligatory “supposed to” answers are not me; they’re a product of my upbringing.

I grew up in a very small, conservative, religious community. I was under constant surveillance and unforgiving scrutiny by adults in the community, and I felt enormous pressure to fit in and not step out of line. The people pleasing started there. The fear of standing out started there. And after almost 20 years of not living in that environment, I still feel its tug. Those are the lingering effects of childhood trauma.

Not surprisingly, the Four Tendencies quiz told me I’m a Rebel. I act from a sense of choice, authenticity and freedom. I don’t rely on others for guidance or power; I get them from within. And my heart breaks for that little girl, that powerful little girl, who was robbed from knowing her own strength for so long.

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.