Monthly Archives: April 2016

My Favorite Italian Word

In Eat Pray Love Liz Gilbert suggested we all have a word that defines us or our situation. For her it was “attraversiamo,” which translates to “let’s cross over,” that defined the period of her life in which she wrote the book.

I like the idea of using words to define our chronological life eras (Duh! I’m a writer.) But I like even more the idea of uncovering the words that propel our lives, that guide us, regardless of what era we are in. To me, that feels more expansive, more filled with potential and the essence of What if..?

In the shower the other morning, I found myself muttering “anch’io” over and over again. It sort of just rolls off the tongue… ahn-kee-oh.

I love this word. Always have, ever since I first studied Italian in college. And, yes, technically it’s a contraction of two words (“anche” and “io”), but that’s not what you would ever say, so it’s actually its own word.

Anch’io.

While I was repeating it quietly, feeling the syllables roll around my mouth, I started actually thinking about what it meant. Literally, it means “And I.” But for me it feels like more than that.

Anch’io feels like the most powerful “Yes!” to the Universe’s invitation.

It feels like I’m volunteering to

join in
show up
be present

and participate in life.

Anch’io is a statement, a declaration, that I’m right here, right now, and wish to be counted.

I love that. I love the energy and possibility fueled by one simple word: Anch’io. It may be my favorite Italian word (though gelato is quite awesome too).

Perspective Is A Choice (and how it can improve your life)

Lately I’ve been using the hashtag #perspectiveisachoice when posting some updates on social media. It was a phrase that sort of appeared in my lexicon as I shared some challenges I had experienced that resulted in my choosing to think differently.

In other words, through these frustrating situations, I consciously chose to remember grace and gratitude, which made the events less frustrating. My awareness was raised to the point of acceptance and understanding, which then allowed me to remove myself from the situation emotionally, and regain my power from a position of neutrality. As you know, I believe neutrality is the most powerful tool in your toolbox.

That being said, as I wrote about and shared my anecdotes of frustration from a place of perspective, I found myself immersed in peace. It was as if I could empathize with the circumstances, but my emotions weren’t held hostage by them. It was from that space that the hashtag was born.

Once I wrote the words, however, it cemented home the truth and reality of the statement:

Perspective is a choice.

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It is always within our control to shift our perspective. In fact, we do it often without much consciousness at all. Which prompts me to wonder what would happen if we consciously chose to shift our perspective, especially when we’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. The small act of consciously choosing our perspective could make quite a difference in the overall quality of our lives. I know it is for me.

The Powerlessness of Living Outside Yourself

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
– Alice Walker

I came across this quote the other day, and it struck me with how simple it is. At first I wanted to disagree, because I was thinking that people mostly give up their power by having too many externalized hopes and expectations. They live outside of themselves, through others.

This is a common trait in codependency: you define yourself and your world through or in relation to someone else. Your identity is based on anything but you. It’s a very powerless place to be.

But then I re-read the quote again, and I realized the reason why I wanted to push back against it:

It scared me to believe that people truly don’t think they have any power to begin with.

Really? Is this the most common reason for powerlessness? If so, that’s a truly shudder-producing thought indeed, and it prompts me to wonder how someone could get from being a child who believes in superheroes and possibility to an adult who believes they are powerless and at the mercy or whim of their environment or situation. How is this possible?

And yet….

And yet, I see it every day. The quote is, sadly, true.

In my work I have met with countless clients who have shown up to our first session having no sense of their own innate presence, let alone power. Our journey together is about helping them to rediscover their joys, their voice, their passions, and their Self – which, frankly, can all be lumped into the word: Power.

Powerlessness is debilitating. Somewhere between five years of age (when we’re running around barefoot in the grass knowing without doubt that anything is possible and imagining a world in which we can be everything we know we are in our hearts) and 25 years of age (when we believe everything is limited by situation, environment and others) we have lost our Power. We have lost our sense of Self; we have lost our knowing.

Somewhere in our 30s or 40s (if we’re lucky) we stumble across a feeling that reminds us we are powerful, if even for a moment, and that creates a longing to remember the days of our youth. I think that’s why many people experience a “mid-life crisis.” We are trying to recapture the expansive nature of our childhood: our innate Power within.

So, what would happen if those who have forgotten their Power actually started to realize that it’s there inside them, within their reach?

I’d argue that we’d have a slight period of discomfort during the shift as we all adjust to a new, more natural, paradigm, followed by true peace, joy, harmony, and love.

Because our individual Power is not about power over others; it’s about living in alignment with who we are, with respect and regard for everyone else doing the same. Life is no longer lived in competition (a construct of living externally), but it is lived in mutual growth, understanding, and support.

We each have a unique role to play in this world. Though we may strive to “be like” so-and-so, at the end of the day, that’s not who we are. It would be better to be inspired by so-and-so, and live more fully as who we each are. That is the true goal of life: to realize who you are, and step into that more fully each day. That is the definition of Power.

The beautiful thing is: as we each begin to take steps toward this truth, we encourage and allow others to do the same. The ripple effect is vast. Through being in our own Power, we empower others to do the same. And… there’s nothing more powerful than that.

The Secret to a Happy Life: A Life Manual

This picture came across my newsfeed yesterday. I’m sure it’s not new to many of you, but it was new to me.

I saw it, read it, and paused. And then I said, “Yes. That’s what I’ve done – that’s all I knew to do sometimes.”

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There were days of cursing, years of crying, and lots of fighting within myself sometimes. It wasn’t always pretty. In fact, it often wasn’t pretty.

I battled depression, anxiety, loneliness, being overworked, underpaid, and in an isolating, often loveless, marriage. And I refused to let it get to me – so I stayed. Longer than I should have perhaps, but as long as I did. Until one day I left.

In my life, my short 44 years, I’ve seen and experienced a fair amount of tragedy, illness, and challenges – and when I fell down, I got up. Sometimes it’s almost instant, and sometimes it’s days or weeks, but eventually, I get up. And in the end, that’s all that matters.

Paulo Coelho has a quote about the secret of life: Fall down seven times, get up eight. I think this is what resilience is. In the face of adversity, challenges, obstacles, tragedy, and illness, the secret to success – to living – is to get back up. Whether it’s 5 seconds, 5 hours, or 5 days later…. we get back up.

Sometimes we need support from others to help us find our feet again, but nobody stands for us, nobody can. All anyone can do is stand beside us and remind us that we have feet and legs, and if needed, they can demonstrate how it’s done.

In my life, I’ve been lucky enough to have people who stood patiently for years beside me as I stood, fell, stood, fell, and stood again. I think that’s one of the greatest gifts anyone can give us: their presence. I am grateful every day for those that continue to stand beside me, and allow me to stand beside them.

Perhaps, then, that’s the real secret to a happy life: To stand on our own, together.