Category Archives: empowerment

Look At Your Wake

How many of us struggle with feeling “good enough” or staying motivated to keep going when we face a seemingly long array of obstacles? I know I’m not alone when I share this thought. Not only have I seen it in my clients and colleagues, but I’ve also witnessed it in my personal life among friends and family. It’s that feeling of looking forward to the next rung on the ladder, and finding the motivation within to keep going, keep striving, keep climbing, as we look ahead at those who have already “done it” – whatever “it” is.

For me, I am just coming off my first year as a published author, and my seventh year as a certified life coach, not to mention all the other things in between. I look at other people in my industry who have “succeeded” and I wonder why I haven’t reached the same level of success as they have…or appear to have. (<– always a good reminder.)

There are many answers to this, of course, but the two most obvious are:

  • They’ve been doing it a LOT longer than I have (in many cases around 2 decades for the authors/speakers I admire the most), and
  • They’ve had a LOT of help to get where they are.

So, first, let me say that I have had wonderful help with my first book and its subsequent tour, as well as various other projects I’ve created. Additionally, I know I’m successful in what I do and have done, which I am especially reminded of when I receive unexpected messages of gratitude for my work. (Thank you, again, by the way, I love hearing from you!) My challenge has been in making it scalable, which is a new focus for me this fall. But what I’m talking about goes deeper. It’s more than that.

When someone has a fire burning in their belly to walk the path they’ve been given, it can sometimes be frustrating when the path seems slow or strewn with obstacles. Part of the reason for that is because we are always looking ahead. Guilty as charged.

As a Visionary, it’s my job to constantly be flying between the forest and the trees, to understand the ever-changing perspective and digest it in a meaningful way. As a Writer and Coach, it’s my job to then relate that information in an accessible and actionable manner. This is my path, and I love and accept it. It means that I am always looking around, assessing and monitoring the universal energies and shifts I see to understand what they mean for humanity, from both a divine and human perspective. As I’ve said before, I write from my soul to understand my humanity. It’s from this space that I then help people to (re)connect and understand their souls (and their humanity) better. It’s cool work, and I love it.

And… I’m human. Sometimes I get lost in it. I get mired in the feeling of not being good enough, because I’m

  1. looking at the others who have done it
  2. trying to figure out how they did it, then
  3. going back to my work to do it, meeting an obstacle, and again
  4. looking at the others who have done it… and the cycle continues.

Until, one day, at 39,000 feet in the air, I was given the key to breaking the cycle.

Last week I spent 38 hours trying to get home. I was in Virginia flying with my family back to the Midwest, and everything was canceled or delayed. Everything. We handled it rather graciously I think, as we never lost our humor or kindness throughout the ordeal. In the end, it would have been faster to drive, but there were a lot of logistical issues, so we stayed the course and finally made it home about 26 hours after our original ETA.

On the final flight home my humor was beginning to wane, so I chose to meditate a bit. I put on some good music, plugged myself into my headphones, and started to breathe.

Previously, I have mentioned that showers have been one of the easiest places I have ever found in which to receive clear messages from Spirit. Well, it turns out that 39,000 feet, surrounded by strangers, inside a metal tube was surprisingly easy too.

As I breathed, I felt myself drop into a deeply relaxed state, and then the images and visions started coming, followed by the words. There was a lot of information for me (I hadn’t actively “connected” in almost 2 weeks – yikes), and I allowed myself to be present to it all, knowing I wouldn’t “remember” it all but that I would ingest it all. One thing stood out, however, and I burned it into my mind’s eye, because of its simplicity and power.

“Look at Your Wake.”

In that moment, I was meditating on the future (asking questions and receiving guidance on how to move forward), and I started to feel a wee bit overwhelmed in my breath. Then I heard those words.

Look at Your Wake.

In my vision, I energetically turned around from where I was standing and saw my wake behind me. It trailed off into infinity like a peacock tail of golden white stardust. It was breathtaking. Humbling. And then my heart filled with gratitude, awe, and love, and any sense of frustration or overwhelm dissipated immediately.

You see, many of us spend so much time striving ahead that we forget to pause, look behind us, and honor what we’ve already done. The lives we’ve touched. The art we’ve created. The joy we’ve given. The love we’ve shared. It’s all there. Every last instance of that which we’ve created is in our wake. Some of it we know about and a lot of it we don’t. Looking at our wake is the key to breaking the cycle of frustration and overwhelm when we are feeling ‘lesser than’ or unmotivated. Looking at our wake keeps us grounded in who we are, what we’re doing, and why.

I took it a step further, too. As I reveled in my vision of a shimmering wake, I remembered that I had a fire in me to keep moving forward. It was then that I wrote this:

To make ripples of change – to create a wake – keep moving forward.

look at your wake

It’s true, and especially helpful when we are feeling stuck, discouraged or overwhelmed. If we wish to create positive change in the world, or in our lives, it’s not about the milestones – it’s about the movement between the milestones. The milestones allow us to pause and look back at our wake and smile, which then recharges us for what lies ahead on our journeys.

xoxo,
Martina

A Return to Authentic Joy

Over the last few weeks I’ve been focusing heavily on the roles Hope and Fear play in our lives on a daily basis. In light of world events, it seemed to be a topic I needed to address. It’s not enough, however, to talk about Hope. Though it’s important, it’s equally as important to discuss Joy. And frankly, we all could use a bit more joy these days, don’t you think? But how do we find our joy? What does that even look like?

One of the primary issues my clients come to me with is a feeling that they’ve lost their way. They wake up one morning, usually later in life, and say, “How did I get here?” or “What’s this all for?”

It’s a bit like an existential crisis – though over the years I’ve narrowed it down to more of a lack of authentic joy. As a result, one of the early questions I ask clients who are expressing this need is:

“When you were five years old, what brought you joy? What made you belly laugh?”

This question not only serves to create a language and discussion around joy, but it reminds them that they know what joy feels like, and that they once experienced it effortlessly.

In a recent example, I had a client whose answer was simply: “My dog,” which, in a panic, she immediately followed with: “But I don’t want to have a dog right now!”

I reassured her, “Don’t worry – you won’t have to go get a dog to rekindle your authentic joy.”

After talking through her experience of having a dog at 5 years of age, and why it was the first thing she thought of when asked about joy, we uncovered what the dog represented for her, which turned out to be:

  • play
  • unconditional love
  • companionship

This client was single, had great friendships and relationships with others, but felt she was missing the elements that she thought would allow her to play, feel free to be herself, and share that joy with someone else.

Once we identified this as the path back to adding more joy into her life, we could then work out how, when, and why these things were important – as well as how she could incorporate these various aspects in her life.

As children, we laugh freely, love openly, and live joyously. Our lives are mostly well-cared for by someone else, which allows us to be ourselves more completely. As adults, the reverse is true. Not only do we feel that we often need to “be” something other than what we are, we also spend a lot of time managing things for others. As a result, we can feel disconnected from ourselves, and from authentic joy.

In my experience, the path back to authentic joy involves these steps:

  1. Remembering what brings us true unabated joy,
  2. Understanding what it represents,
  3. Seeking it in a new way, and
  4. Adding it back into our lives.

This is the recipe I have developed for returning to a more joyful state of being. For me personally, it looks like having music playing throughout my day (I like to sing), making time to reconnect with friends near and far, and prioritizing time in nature. What does it look like for you? :)

Using the Back Burner

If you read my contribution to 365 Moments of Grace, you’ll know that I find connection in the shower. There’s something about the flowing water that serves as a great conduit to intuition and clarity. It’s almost as if the water washes away the veil between worlds.

Yesterday was no different. As I stood in the shower, rinsing my hair, I was musing on the many directions my path could take from here, and how I felt rather stuck in a few of them. I lamented the fact that I didn’t have a single passion to pursue with abandon, like an article I had recently read about an Ornithologist. I contemplated all the things that I have been working on, and plan to work on, and I felt understandably overwhelmed. In case you hadn’t noticed, my brain is almost always running, creating, and divining.

In my overwhelm I started down the all-too-common path of dismay. Wondering why my book has received such great feedback and commentary, but hasn’t hit a critical mass yet. Why my numerous certifications and degrees had yet to open that magical door – through which my future becomes assured. In other words, I was feeling discouraged and disheartened that I had yet to find the “magic bullet” of success.

Now, this is something I know all too well, and at my heart, I can honestly say that I know I have been successful. When a reader, client, or audience member shares a story of how my words have impacted their lives for the better, I have been successful. Just one story would make me successful, and I have significantly more than one. So, I know this – and yet…

And yet, I’m human.

I live in a society that has other measurements of success, and while I can be altruistic, I can also recognize that I am human, which sometimes leads to moments of dismay and desire. And so it was in the middle of my shower, with soap bubbles streaming out of my hair that I succumbed to the dismay. And in that moment, these words appeared before me in my mind’s eye:

“Put your energy into that which you want, rather than dismay around that which you haven’t manifested yet.”

dismay and manifesting

The message was clear. Sometimes those things that we’ve already manifested get moved to a back burner on a low simmer, like a slow-cooking sauce. It’s frustrating to have to wait for the results, but oh-so-worth-it in the end, because time made it more delicious.

The question is: Once you’ve deliberately moved your pots to the back burners, what do you do in the meantime?

You focus on something else, trusting that you’ve already manifested that which is in alignment with your soul, and released it to the Universe. If you keep stirring the pot (dismay), it will never become what it’s meant to be. So, you move it to the back burner and let time and the Universe do the rest. Meanwhile, you pull out another pot.

There is no limitation on manifesting. The only limits are those in your own mind. You can have a thousand pots, or one – the choice is yours. And the choice is made by where you put your energy.

P.S. A great BIG welcome to the new subscribers! Thank you for being here and joining in on this journey that we call life. Together, we can make it a little more enjoyable. :)

Perspective and Fitted Sheets

I know how to fold a fitted sheet.

This is not something you hear people say often. In fact, it’s usually the reverse (and there seems to be a sort of pride involved in saying that you don’t know how to do this). But I do. I know how to fold a fitted sheet. For me, it’s completely logical and makes sense.

I didn’t always know how to fold a fitted sheet. But I had an inkling on how to do it, and I wanted to be able to do it – so I sought guidance on how to do it, and then I practiced.

Life is pretty much just like this. It flows in a sequence of

  • Curiosity
  • Seeking
  • Guidance
  • Practice
  • Mastery

Ok, that last step implies that I feel I’ve “mastered” folding a fitted sheet, which I have, and also haven’t. Sometimes it turns out wonkier than others. And if we’re being honest, the space between Practice and Mastery includes an infinite number of trial, error, failure, and success steps before we can actually label it as “Mastery.” However, often when we see someone as “successful” or a “Master” of their craft, we forget the numerous and varied steps it took for them to get where they are.

We lose perspective.

And that’s the point.

When I first started writing this post, I thought it would go another way – I thought I’d be discussing the shame I felt for being able to do something that others seem to ridicule because they can’t (we’ll save that for another day). Instead I’m ending up here, discussing the importance of perspective.

It’s the same old saying: Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.

If someone’s pride (couched as humor or ridicule) causes you to feel shame over your gifts or talents, it’s important to step back and take perspective. Your mastery is a result of curiosity, seeking, guidance, and practice. Their pride and ridicule is usually the result of fear, insecurity, and discomfort. One generates results, the other generates disconnection. Which would you choose?

I choose to be able to fold my fitted sheet.

Folded fitted sheet

Folded fitted sheet

Getting Real (the real truth behind playing small)

I didn’t have anything to write for this week. I thought I did, but I’m still processing that piece with my mentor. It was longer, and I needed some feedback on whether it was too long for this weekly venue. (I’ve been a little mired in thought.)

I suppose I’m not surprised this has come up. Last week I started a 3-week workshop on being authentic in marketing. It’s about showing up and allowing yourself to be seen as you are. Exactly as you are. (Yikes!)

I’m not surprised that I found this workshop challenging at times; however, I was shocked by what I found surprising.

Firstly, let me say how difficult I find self-promotion to be. In a world where it seems to be rampant, I prefer to sit back, just be who I am, doing what I do, and trusting that the audience/clients/readers who need me will find me. While I don’t think that’s untrue, I also know that it’s not actually being in service of my gifts, or the Universe, to not make it easy(ier) for people to find me.

During the first week of the workshop, we were prompted to make mini-videos about our perceived weaknesses and strengths. We were invited to “get real” in a safe space, in order to normalize and even neutralize our perceptions of self. I thought my surprise would come from just doing videos, or talking about what physical attributes made me feel disempowered – but actually, all that was fine. In fact, it was empowering in a way.

It was only when it came time to discuss my spiritual gifts – my talents, abilities, and presence – that I was shocked by what happened next. I collapsed emotionally, because I had an ‘A-Ha! moment’ – an awareness that I could no longer deny.

On the one hand, I LOVE who I am. I love what I do, and what my soul’s purpose is. I cannot express enough how much I love my path and my journey. I intend to help many thousands, if not millions of people through my work. On the other hand, I hate anything to do with self-promotion, because it’s all so… noisy.

But then it hit me:

By not engaging in (aligned) self-promotion in order to be accessible, I am disavowing my gifts. I am essentially thumbing my nose at the Universe.

“Oh God! What have I done?”

It felt awful. This realization sent me reeling into a massive state of guilt, fear, shame, doubt, and anger and frustration. I reached out to two trusted friends and began the process of wading through the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs surrounding this situation – this realization.

I know now that I need a better plan. I need to find a method that is both aligned with who I am (aka: not noisy) and allows me to be seen fully for who I am, and what I’m here to do – my contributions to the world.

Before last week, I was content to play small, because it was “anti-noisy.” It almost felt altruistic. It’s easy to stay safe and small when you’re against something obnoxious. It’s much harder to do when you realize that by doing so, you’ve actually been going against something even greater. In fact, it was heart-breaking.

So, while I don’t know what all this means yet or how it will unfold, I know one thing is for certain: playing small disavows our gifts, which then disavows the Universe. It would be like someone handing you the winning lottery ticket, and you replying with, “No, no, I’m good…” It simply doesn’t make sense. And yet, we all seem to do it at some point in our lives.

Whether you are an artist, a lawyer, a teacher, a social worker, a parent, a spouse, or anything else you might be – if you’re playing small in your role, you are disavowing the gifts that have been given to you. You’re tossing them aside and taking them for granted. I know. It’s what I’ve been doing. Hurts to say, but I titled this post “Getting Real” for a reason.

So, now I’m off to plan my roadmap to greatness, away from playing small and into a space in which I am embracing my gifts and all the potential that has been given me. A place in which I am visible, accessible, and living my life’s purpose. I don’t know what this map looks like yet, I just know that it’s time to start heading out, deliberately, and in alignment with who I am. (Still don’t plan to be “noisy.”)

And I invite you to do the same. If you’re playing small, and your heart wants you to go big – maybe it’s time to create your own roadmap. And maybe we’ll cross paths on our respective journeys and journey along together for a while. Until then…

xoxo

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.

IMG_4028

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.”

IMG_3616

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.

The Most Powerful Tool in Your Tool Box (No, it’s not a sledgehammer.)

If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know I refer to my tool box often. It’s a constantly growing arsenal of lessons learned, experience gained, and skills acquired. During my recent book tour one attendee (who has been with me since 2010) suggest I change it from a “tool box” to a “tool shed” based on its ever-expanding size. She may be right.

However, I think one of the most important things I can do for my clients and readers is to help them create their own growing tool box. The key word being “growing.”

It’s essential for us to always be learning, expanding, and adding to our armory of useful skills and knowledge. However, it’s also important to know the difference between a sledgehammer and a screwdriver in order to best apply each tool to maximum effect. In addressing this practical aspect of our tool box inventory, I think it’s most important to know your most powerful tool, what it is and how to use it.

So, what is the MOST POWERFUL TOOL in your tool box?

It might surprise you, but it’s NEUTRALITY.

I suppose a more obvious answer would be Love or Compassion. Perhaps even Empathy. Certainly, my training and certification in Brené Brown’s work would suggest that Empathy is a very powerful tool. But it’s not the most powerful. Neutrality is.

But to fully understand Neutrality, we have to also understand what it’s not.

Neutrality is not a reaction, nor is it a response. Neutrality is not lack of connection, compassion, love, understanding or empathy. There is no “lack” in Neutrality. It includes all those things.

Conversely, Neutrality is not full of any one characteristic either. It’s not Love, and it’s not Empathy. Nor is it compassion and understanding – but it is a form of connection. In a way.

Neutrality is presence. And through that presence is a connection to your Self. Your inner knowing and your core essence. It’s not passive, rather it’s an incredibly active and deliberate way of being, of relating.

At its core, neutrality is 100% authenticity, wrapped in integrity, and expressed as presence.

Neutrality is a tool that allows you to be present, without giving away or allowing someone to take your power. It can be passionate in its sure-footedness, without being emotionally charged. It allows for the acceptance of “both-and” thinking where two things can be true (i.e.: someone can be behaving like a jerk, and also be a kind person).

For me, a lighthouse is the ultimate symbol of Neutrality. It stands its ground and does what it does really well. A lighthouse knows it can neither change the storm nor navigate the ship. A lighthouse allows for both the storm and the ship to pass as they will, without judgment. This, in turn, allows the lighthouse to keep being a lighthouse, free from the ebbs and flows of emotionality.

Power resides in this freedom, which is why practicing Neutrality is the most powerful tool in your tool box.