Conversations with Bus Line #7

It’s beautiful how situations in life happen so harmoniously.

 

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I was recently on a 72-hour business trip in San Francisco (which was weird by the way, being a tourist in a place you used to call home).

On my last evening, something urged me to have dinner with an old friend, even though I felt like just staying in my hotel because I was tired.

My Uber and Lyft were not working because I cannot pay with my Dutch cards so I needed to find an alternative mode of transportation.

The friend who I was going to meet told me to take Bus #7 which would take me straight to the Haight.

I walked onto the bus. I had mostly $20’s and about a buck fifty otherwise. Ticket cost was $2.25.

The bus driver smiled at me, and said “Just put in the small change you have and we’ll call it good.”

It felt in this moment that all the little procuring events leading up to this bus ride were intended.

“I appreciate you helping me out, man. I’ll stand up here with you and keep you company.” And so we went in.

I quickly built rapport with him, unintentionally, started speaking similar to the way he was, so we could more effectively communicate.

I asked him questions, simply out of authentic interest, curiosity.

He told me about what it was like growing up in San Francisco, where he lives now, how he has seen the city change over the years.

He has been driving for many years, tried different routes, but came back to the one he is riding now because it’s the one he enjoys most.

We came to a point in the conversation when he expressed that over the years, the people along that route have changed. Even from 2010 until now the change is significant.

“Back in ’10 people were still moving, lively, partying a bit. Now everyone is so still, quiet, mechanical. I don’t know what happened.”

I asked him, “Don’t you ever feel like shaking them up a bit? Disrupt them? Go on the radio and say ‘everyone get off your phones for 1 second and shout out your favorite color!'”

He laughed… “no way, you don’t know if someone out there may get offended and do something unsafe. But yes, I have thought about it! You want the radio to give it a try?”

I also laughed… “haha nope!” But I did take a good hard look at who else was on this bus adventure with me in that moment. I could feel the quiet emptiness, disconnect, lack of vibrancy and energy.

A woman, about my age, had taken out her headphones. She had been watching me and the bus driver communicate with each other.

“I have never witnessed someone talking with a bus driver like that..”

My response: “Like what? We’re just having a human to human conversation!” Concluding with a small chuckle.

The bus driver then asked me what I do. I told him that I like to coach people in living out their passion.

“Okay, but,” he caught my soul through the entry of my eyes “you are really doing so much more than that.”

At that point, I had reached my destination. In a way it was hard to get off. I was moved, physically, mentally, emotionally.

I felt so vibrant and full as I was walking into the restaurant, someone even commented on it as I was passing by.

I felt positivity radiating out of me as if I was a ball of beautiful sunshine and warmth. I felt at my core, “this is me.”

 

Humans are beautiful and we each see this world through a unique and special lens. Let’s learn from each other, listen to each other, support each other, love each other.

This is me,

This. is. us

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Redefining mirrors and gratitude

20170613-DSC03206.jpgCamp buddy from Day 1 of 2. This man is in his late 80’s, and is from Afghanistan. A few days prior to this picture being taken, his family left him to go to Germany, and he was left behind because he recently had a stroke, and was no longer physically fit for the intense journey. He is now alone at the refugee camp, and is known as the camp ‘grandfather’. He loved receiving attention from all of the We Journey and Emfasis Foundation volunteers (especially the ladies!). He is the most generous man I have ever met. The turquoise ring you see on my index finger is a ring he gave me instantaneously after receiving the compliment I gave him of how beautiful it was. What a treasure.

 

I’m a feeler. I’m intuitive. I’m bold and adventurous. I love humanity as I love myself, and I love to pour my happiness and gratitude for life onto others.

There are many stories I could tell, as I’ve been fortunate to have many incredible adventures, however, in this article, I will lead you through an experience which was unique and special to me on a multitude of life perspectives.

I am going to be vulnerable in this article; raw, real, and honest, as that is my style of living… so get prepared for this juicy tale.

It all began around January. My personal Coach and I were having a session, and I was voicing to her my desire to compel ‘my man’ into my life. May sound a bit interesting to you, if you are not familiar with the style of Coaching I participate in, but that’s another story. For now, all you need to know is that after writing out what I wanted in a relationship, my Coach intuitively felt inclined to present me with a particular man’s name. I did a little research, and became instantly drawn to him. I loved what he was representing, the approach he took with relating to people,  championing humanity, and driving positive change in the world. I didn’t know how to feel about it since I had never met this person, but still felt so drawn to him. To speed it up, we had a Skype call, and he invited me to some upcoming trips that he was involved in, because he loves bringing like-minded people together… So then what?

One of the trips was in Greece, through an organization called We Journey, and the more I began to investigate, the more interested I became. Since I live in Amsterdam, this was the most realistic trip of the two proposed, and so then I had a decision to make. Trust my heart or trust my head? From what I’ve already described of myself, what do you think I listened to?

Yep, you guessed it. I listened to my heart, and booked the week-long trip, where I was going to serve in a refugee camp, integrate on a Grecian island, and meet this man who I was for some reason drawn to.

I didn’t really know what to expect of this trip, and was accepting of that. All I knew is that I needed to be there for some unknown reason. I trusted my gut, and giggled at myself as I sat on the plane waiting for takeoff: “Here we go, again!”.

Upon the first round of group introductions in Athens, I instantly realized one of the reasons I was there: to be surrounded by a group of self-developed individuals to learn from. I felt insecure, and uncomfortable, as I quickly realized that a lot of the incredible individuals who were there were thriving in their success, were confident, and able to vocalize their opinions, insights, and wisdom, seamlessly. My first mirror appeared within minutes of beginning the week-long adventure. I got knocked off my high-horse, and realized where I stood in my personal development, where I wanted to be, and how big the gap was between the two.

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It’s hard to find a segue into the refugee camp portion of this journey because throughout the entire trip I had personal mirrors show me truth’s I was unfamiliar with, while I was at the same time experiencing such a critical situation, being educated, and opening my heart to those in the refugee camp. I think this is why this story is so profound to me, because it was a course of learnings about myself, of others, and how I relate with humans all at the same time!

Let’s switch gears, and I’ll tell you about the incredible refugee’s I connected with at the camp…

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We were at the camp for two days, total. Our physical mission was to build a boutique on the camp site so that the people living there felt more comfortable when ‘shopping’. We created a dressing room, and a ‘trendy’ theme to display the clothing. Our emotional mission was… well, for me, it was to connect. The first day, I didn’t really know how to do that, or understand what type of significance I could bring to these individuals, considering the incredibly challenging, and traumatizing experience they’ve had. Only on the second day, (after having a couple more extremely confronting conversations with other We Journey participants), I was able to better understand how I was going to approach the camp situation.

On the second day, I decided to walk into the camp, releasing all of myself, my ego, my ‘self development fulfillment’, and give my heart, my joy for life, my love, my passion, my kindness, and warmth to every person I had an encounter with. I lost control, and asked God, the source, or higher power, to use me as a vessel, and deliver to these people what they needed at this exact moment in time. That was hard… but I coached myself through it, and remained present.

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An old woman, a father, and his child were walking into their container-like home, and I felt pulled towards them. I made eye contact with (what appeared to be) the grandmother, and knew I needed to spend some time with them. They invited me into their home, and I was instantly gifted with fresh beets and cake and lots of tea. They were so hospitable, kind, and welcoming. This particular family did not speak any English, so it was very challenging to communicate with them… but it actually didn’t matter, because what we were sharing was bigger than what words can communicate. We were speaking from heart to heart.

The father learned that I was living in The Netherlands, and mentioned that he had spent some time in the country, and hoped to migrate his family back there some day. After about 30 minutes of conveying that message, he found a Dutch TV channel on their television from the 90’s, and began reciting the subtitles, in effort to display his determination. Before long, I had a newborn baby in my arms, and the mother began taking selfies us, women, on her cell phone. The Grandma ensured that I was looking my best in the pictures; combing my hair with her fingers, and making sure my T-shirt sleeves were properly unrolled and tidy.

This family received many hugs, smiles, kisses, and… dances! We listened to some of their favorite music, and I insisted that the youngest woman and Grandma get up and dance with me… they blushed, laughed, and indulged in the ‘crazy American’ moment they were experiencing.

My time with this incredible family came to an end approximately 3 hours later, when I realized I needed to check in with my volunteer team. They were completing the finishing touches on the boutique, so I still had a little bit more time to engage and share love and light with residents of the camp.

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I felt that it was time to play. A group of kids were playing around with a ball, and so I decided to join in and kick it around with them, committing 100% of my energy and (little) skill to the game. Then somehow they were enthusiastic about being picked up and swung around in circles. And so then I became that person… a line formed quickly, and I mustered up all my adrenaline and deep love to swing every kid around. Their laugh, and simplistic form of joy emotionally moved me, and physically moved me forward to keep pushing.

The last interaction I had was with a doctor. This man was a true inspiration and model of hope and determination. If we talk about using appropriate language to compel your future… this man models it perfectly! He was at the refugee camp alone, and was only 23. He was a doctor in Afghanistan, and left the country because he was not safe, and did not have the freedom he felt was elsewhere in the world… so he fled. He was full of light and hope, this man. He expressed to me how he felt so free in Greece, even though this was only a stepping stone in his journey. He is beginning to study at a University in Athens to get more educated to become a doctor, is intensely practicing his English (which is already pretty good), and is keeping his eyes on the prize, which is seeking asylum in Canada. I was so inspired by this man’s determination and motivation to continue to push forward in his quest to achieve all he is set out to do in this world. Talk about being fearless.

20170613-DSC03296.jpgAs it came time to leave the refugee camp, I saw the kids continuing to play with their make-shift soccer ball. I knew in my heart this was my last hoorah, my last opportunity to give of myself. I did my best attempt at a soccer trick, landed it, and bid my farewell to a community which greatly enriched my life, educated me, tested me, and grew me. I was a different person now, in this moment, and all that mattered was love, connection, and faith. Being the feeler that I am, I can tell you, I’ve never felt so much gratitude in my heart… ever in my life. I shed tears of deep happiness and sadness on our departure back to the center of Athens.

Does it end there? Nope!

After Athens, the We Journey crew boarded a ferry which brought us to the beautiful isle of Naxos. This is when the integration portion of the trip began, and when a lot of the experiences I had (personally, and at the refugee camp), really began to settle in. At some point, it felt a bit too much (although I didn’t identify it that way in the moment), and so I jumped into the sea, my safe place, and sunk into the water. Just as I had done at the refugee camp, I let go. I lost myself. I was entranced by the water, I became the water. I found my escape in nature.

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Only later did I realize… again after another confrontational conversation with one of the many incredible We Journey attendee’s, as beautiful as that moment was, it wasn’t the right time to experience it. I realized that what I was trying to do was avoid the intense feelings I had about my self-reflections and about the recent experience I had at the refugee camp.

“Shit…” I said to myself, “what am I supposed to do then?” Earlier that day I had committed myself to a solo paddle boarding trip in a nearby lagoon. I learned that this was dangerous territory, because it could go one of two ways: 1. I could naturally choose to ‘lose myself’ again in the experience, or 2. Consciously be aware, and use paddle boarding as a metaphor to work through my current personal obstacles, realities. Being conscious of these two scenarios, I chose the latter, and actively listened, vocalized, and physically worked through what was happening.

The remainder of this trip was a bundle of these precious insights, discoveries of self, discoveries of relation with others, and pure beauty of life.

If you are to read the first and last sentence of this article, I am certain you would be surprised that it is the same story. 1 week. That’s all it took. A change of perspective, a change of lifestyle, a change of outlook, a change of understanding and acceptance. A deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation of life, human connection, and freedom.

There are no further words to describe this experience. I’ve opened my heart, shown the real, in hopes that you can better comprehend a raw experience with self and others.

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As mentioned in the opening picture caption, I have learned what generosity, strength and compassion means in the most authentic sense from this experience. As I continue on with my adventures through life, continue to learn about myself, continue to develop, and bridge that gap of where I’m at now, and where I want to be, I am going to remember these people. The ones who taught me most about what it means to give and love and be a light when the world seems so dark.

I’m a feeler. I’m intuitive. I’m bold and adventurous. I love humanity as I love myself, and I love to pour my happiness and gratitude for life onto others.

Thank you, for everyone involved, refugee and volunteer, you’ve changed my life, and fueled me to dive in, even deeper to discovering me.

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Photo credits: Perry Jay Grone, Gabby Perez, Jen Morilla

Here’s To My ‘A Team’

Recently I wrote a reflection post about 2016. This was a very open an honest post, however I knew from the start it was missing something… something important. I sent the draft over to a couple of my girlfriends, asking them to review it, in hopes they would catch the missing piece. They thought it was worthy of publishing, so I went ahead and did, avoiding the weird, egoistic feeling I had felt in my stomach. I re-read, re-read, and monitored the responses and feedback from friends and family, until one of my closest friends spoke up, one that I had not sent the draft to.

The missing piece that I had been looking for was not just one, but MANY people who helped and supported me to get to where I am today. When my friend pointed this out to me, my heart sank below the ground, and my tail went in between my legs. I instantly began to put myself down, and question how on earth I could have forgotten to accredit those who have been along the journey with me. After watching a couple Golden Globe acceptance speeches, I began to feel as though I had won an award for making it out strong from 2016, but I ran off the stage, taking my trophy without a thankful word. This is why I had felt an uneasy, shallow feeling within myself prior to posting, because ultimately I had framed it from a position of someone who does things alone.

“How could I have done that?” I kept asking myself. I value my friends and family an incredible amount – and am typically okay at showing them that – so how could this not have come into play in my writing?  I am not a person for excuses but rather reasoning and understanding, which is why it has been so necessary for me to dissect the root of which my actions became. Here were a few of my thoughts:

  1. American culture can sometimes reflect a “fend for yourself” kind of mentality. I think that from a young age, I recognized and adopted this mentality on an unconscious level, not truly letting others fully in out of protection for myself (hence making myself feel alone on a more deep level).
  2. Until I was a teenager, I was raised an only child. I grew up ‘alone’, not necessarily in a bad way, but I didn’t really have siblings to support or be supported by. Yes, I did have friends, but I also moved a lot, and friends seemed to come and go a lot as I passed through. Geographically, Arizona is very spread out, which creates physical distance between friends, making it difficult to be ‘close’ with them on a regular basis. This laid the foundation of my fundamentals of friendships.
  3. I have had a lot of support in my prior years from my family and from boyfriends. I didn’t necessarily ask friends as my first resource to rely on. 2016 was really the first time (aside from the first couple of months in Sweden before I met Tim), that was necessary for me to rely firsthand on friends. This meant it was necessary for me to open up a bit more, be honest, and ASK FOR HELP… something that I was not really used to doing with friends. So in a way, when growing up, I closed myself off from helping friends and allowing myself to be helped as well.
  4. My ego has grown! Which can be fine in some ways, because I think it is important for one to have confidence and pride in their accomplishments, however, it is important to see the full picture, rather than just one frame. I think because I have heard so many people tell me this year how proud they are of me, it makes it easy for me to unconsciously think that it is my doing. Yes, I have personally done a lot of growth, but, I have only been allowed room for that growth because other people have been there making space for it by doing other tasks for me, or being there for me in difficult times.

So here’s my acceptance speech to you, my killer ‘A Team’:

This is to my friends, family, near and far. This past year was really hard, and you were there for me every. fucking. step. of. the. way. Whether you were sending me a message on Messenger to make sure I was okay; endlessly house searching (and possibly risking your credibility on behalf of me) to give me and Skye a place to stay; demanding a Skype call; setting up a GoFundMe account to help me financially during a time of distress; donating to my GoFundMe account; reminding me that ‘life will go on’ regardless of what happens next; giving me furniture and presents; helping me to hurry and deep clean my old house so I could get my security deposit back; helping me with taking care of Skye and/or helping me to find care for her; complaining with me but ending conversations with hope and optimism; being a ‘step-in’ parent because my own couldn’t be there physically; giving me a hug or a shoulder to cry on; sending me links to job vacancies; calling me or picking up the phone during spontaneous painful moments; dealing with my ‘on-edge’, ’emotional rollercoaster’ moments; HELPING ME MOVE (double thumbs up to you people 😉 ); sending me a Christmas card, gifts, dinner, message; rubbing my feet and watching movies with me; turning my cries into laughs; and/or simply just being there. I know there are probably some really amazing things that I am missing in this list, but please know that your actions and thoughts have not gone unrecognized.

I am in a happy, ambitious, fulfilled, independent, and thriving place because I have had your help, support, and reliability. That, dear people, is the best gift a human can have in life: companionship. I’ve learned from you all this year truly what that word means and its significance. I hope to be as good of a friend to you as you’ve been to me. Thank you.

Ready for 2017? …because I am continuing to take you along for this crazy adventure, moving “one foot forward” together! 🙂

Live Fully,

Allison

 

 

2016. How many changes can you fit into a year?

What a fucking year… right?

Conrad – Ben Howard PLAY ME WHILE READING

Whether it has been a year of triumphs, a year of hurdles, or a mixture somewhere in between (like mine), I think we can all agree that either ourselves or someone we know has gone through quite some change in 2016.

I am sure most of us recently experienced the end of the year drawing up reflection and processing, and the near future offering fresh starts and clean slates which provide hope and ambition. What did you reflect upon, and (possibly still are) digest(ing)? What goals, resolutions and ambitions give you motivation right now?

I’ve never really been one to believe in New Year’s Resolutions. In my prior years, life just kind of kept on moving – I went along with it as it was. If I did make a resolution, I just tagged along with a ‘get fit’, or ‘do a hobby of mine more’.

This year has been different though. This year… wow. I wouldn’t say that I ended 2016 with setting New Year’s Resolutions, per se, but I would say that I used the month of December to close some chapters, and look towards the bright future (all milestones included) which I intend to compel for myself.

I have been silent for a while, as so much has happened, so let me take this post to elaborate on some major events that I experienced in 2016.

In the beginning months of the year, I went through a burnout, of which I think was induced by the type of work I was doing, as well as the romantic relationship I was in. I was putting out so much energy into work, as well as putting in energy to my romantic relationship, but I was not getting enough back. I felt hopeless, lost, insecure, unappreciated, alone, and unloved for who I was. It was a challenging time for me, and my boyfriend at the time.

During these months, I became interested in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and began to study and heal through NLP techniques with Holly Kobayashi. It was soon after I began when I realized that this was where my heart lies. This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with people, I want to help them create positive change in their lives in some capacity. It was a bit of an overwhelming realization I had during such an exhausting period in my life, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to accept or digest my decision. Regardless, the time came when I quit my contracting coordinator position (which I wrote about in this piece), and I decided that it was time to choose myself, and start figuring my shit out. As soon as this decision was made, I had a weird, relieving and ambiguous feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew that it was a turning point… something big, something extraordinary was to come.

Have you ever had that feeling?

The one where you know you just made a huge decision, and you have no idea what is one step in front of you? As if for a moment you are blinded by life, yet you’ve chosen to be blinded because of a gut, instinctual feeling that’s urged action?

This was definitely one of those moments. I was unemployed, in an incompatible and dried out relationship, and financially screwed. I didn’t know what was going to happen. What did I do? How did I take that next step without keeling over?

Some may have called me crazy, but I invested money in hiring a personal results coach, and continued on with my NLP training (and decided to begin co-owning a company with my coach). If there was anything I knew at this weak and transitional point of my life, it was that I wanted to help people, I wanted to offer opportunity for positive change. For those people who feel stuck in a corner, who feel trapped, or feel like they’ve reached the ceiling, I want to be the one to help them see further, wider, broader, and discover their passion, and to LIVE IT!

As I continued sessions with my personal coach, and my NLP training, I got myself a couple part time jobs (one as a barista at a tea cafe, another as a food courier for Deliveroo). By the way, the struggle of finding a job in a foreign country is real – especially when your experience lies in an industry which requires language fluency. The jobs I had landed were not my passion, but I found ways in which to make myself happy at both of them. I found pleasure in listening to music while biking around delivering food. I enjoyed making playlists for the cafe, having connections with the clients, and bringing them satisfaction with a delicious drink. I knew that this was not the end however, and I was eager to jump to new opportunities.

My love affair with Tim continued down a more distant path. We began to realize the truth of our relationship, and were revealed with what we had become, as individuals fighting to be happy together for so long. The end of the relationship didn’t go so smoothly. I wanted to do everything possible to make it work, no matter how hurt I was that he had fallen out of love with me (and me with him).

Tim met another woman. It was a girl he had known for a long time, but had always just been acquaintances. They continued to spend time together, eventually to where I felt very threatened. I knew that this was the moment – our relationship was at stake, and in my gut, I had a feeling it was going to be another moment stepping into the blinded future.

My intuition was right. Tim decided that he wanted to continue his new relationship, and end ours. I felt shocked, hurt, betrayed, numb, and… in some place deep down, free. Aside from feeling like the ground had fallen out from beneath me, aside from not physically being able to stand on my own two feet, or barely being able to open my eyes, I could see something… I could see me.

Over the years I had become buried. I was trying to fit into a ‘cookie-cutter’ lifestyle, simplifying myself, trying to adjust my interests, all to try and keep the relationship alive and thriving. Who had I become? “Who am I? What are my interests? Am I doing them? Where am I and how did I get here?” After I caught a bit more stability, some rest, some strength, I was able to paint these answers a bit more vividly – however I am still, and will always probably be investigating because I have learned that I am quite complex ;-).

Tim moved out, and soon moved in with his new girlfriend. I stayed at the house we were living at together with our dog. It was a huge struggle trying to find a new place which I could afford, while working minimally for a low wage, and also allowed dogs. I truly thought for about a month that I would be forced to move back to The US to live with my parents. In my mind, I didn’t give up. “I am resourceful, I will make it happen.” And I did. An opportunity presented itself to live in a huge loft, after a long hard search.

Meanwhile…within the time period that Tim moved out I got a text from a friend, with a link to a job posting for a Social Selling Coach – PERFECT! The role entailed coaching sales executives how to leverage social media as a means to sell (rather, how to build relationships). I applied, got a call back, and within a week, I got the job. It started out paying minimally (but more than what I had been making), and only for two days a week… that changed quickly, but a few other things happened first.

Before packing my boxes, calling friends for help, and leaving my relationship with Tim to remain at the Schermerstraat, I decided that I needed some space. I needed a little time to just be, to center, to ground. I booked a flight to Newcastle to have a training session with my NLP coach, and extended my trip 7 extra days. What did I do in those 7 days? I walked. I walked alone, I walked with people, I walked with cows, sheep, grasslands, and along an ancient wall of Hadrian. I walked from the east coast to the west coast of Northern England. I walked in silence, allowing for my head to clear it’s noise. I could breathe, I could move, I felt free and in control. I felt safe. I felt like me. It felt fulfilling to reconnect with myself and recognize that I was still inside this body shell. I met some incredible characters along my journey, and began to open myself back up to the beauty of the world. 4 days into my journey I got tendinitis, but I didn’t realize that it was that until my journey back to the airport after day 7. I was in extreme pain, my ankle was entirely swollen, but I pushed through, stepped one foot in front of the other, and made it. Crossing the end of this route felt like a lifelong accomplishment. As if this walk had been a metaphor for my life. Throughout the rain, the wind, the cold, pain, joy, peace, freedom, the sun, the companionship, I had made it to this point, which is actually not the end, but only where I am to begin. Begin my life as me, who I am genuinely, entirely. It took until now to get to my beginning, but at least I’ve made it.

I got back to The Netherlands, moved into the loft, and got back to my new job! I was very busy learning, and excited to be coaching people. In accordance with a new project, my time grew to 3 days a week. A couple smooth months later, I was informed that one of the leads for the Worldwide team would be out for paternity leave, and they asked me to fill his role. I accepted, and agreed to working 4 days a week as a freelance consultant.

Professionally, this is currently where I stand: I own my own Consulting/Coaching business. I have Social Selling clients who I work for 4 days a week and I am continuing to build my clientele for my personal coaching business. Alongside my coaching, I work one day a week at snack shop, cooking and serving fries to locals in the neighborhood, practicing my Dutch, and continuing to network and build relationships. I also love working with my hands and being forced to not be behind a screen – so that’s a plus!

Romantically: It has been about 5 months since the break up with Tim. It’s my first time being single… really ever. At least feeling fully detached, romantically, so it’s been a huge adjustment along the way. I am, however, really starting to feel more content about the situation, and am enjoying spending time with myself, with friends, and with Skye. I am gaining an understanding of who I am, and who I want to surround myself with, also romantically. It feels good to have this opportunity to shape and develop myself to the way I want to be. When I feel more secure in this, maybe I will find someone who is along the same path as I and we will continue the race together.

In the month of December, I have managed to get my Freelancer visa aligned and prepared for submission, I have found myself a more permanent home for Skye and myself, have landed myself a secure job, and am living an independent, and free lifestyle. The end of 2016, for me, feels like the end of an era. Many things happened, many things ended, and with the end of the year, ended a piece of me, who was, in fact, no longer me. I shed what was not genuine, what I’ve lost. I’ve shed pain, sorrow, guilt, victimization. I am beginning to see myself as who I am now, regardless of my past, regardless of my experiences, but rather as who those have brought me to become, now..

2017 better watch out, because I am ready to crush it. I am taking this month to sit down with myself, and really consider what it is that I want. Where do I want to go? What am I going to accomplish in 3 months? 6 months? This year? What does my road map look like? Action plan? Most importantly… why? What is the value behind it all? What is the meaning? Goals are flat without motivational depth. Get courageous, dive deep, live full, find your passion and compel it into your life. You have the power within you; find the key to unlock it.

I am so excited to be sharing this journey with you, and I hope you have a valuable takeaway from my sharing.

Love Is A Play On Our Hearts

Love
Is complicated
But we all know that, right?

We still do it though.
We gift our hearts, entirely open and exposed, hoping that we will be taken in to be nurtured, admired, and respected in return.

Giving your vulnerabilities to someone for the first time.
Sharing your most painful insecurities.
Sharing your most deepest secrets and ambitions without fear of tease or mock.
Being accepted for all that you are, in all your fullness and brokenness.
To have another lick your wounds.
The feeling of tingles, youth, and overwhelmingness burst within your body at any moment your eyes meet.

What about when we fall?
We still love.
We still give it all, and expect everything back.
Screaming, expression, movement, crying.
We want to be seen, to be noticed, to be heard.
Isolation and loneliness, no one understands. You don’t understand.
We build walls, sometimes so quickly they become too tall to pass.
The great divide.
Moving at the same speed of life behind continually growing barriers.
What’s on the other side?
Misunderstandings, miscommunications, and what I really miss is you.
Comfort, and having someone there to help get us up when we can’t do it alone.

Encouragement for continued self discovery.
Deepening, and realizing in yourself and in others.
A partner in mystery and light, a partner in life.
Shared but separate; a balance to find together, but lines are blurry, and be careful not to cross.
Confidence and trust in knowing honesty exists and will prevail in most trying circumstances.
Openness: with yourself, your needs, wants, purpose.
Learning while you live in harmony.
An anchor, the rock to come back to when waves push you too far offshore.

Different capacities, different moments, different people. It is in our lives entirely and always.
If we let it be.
But all of these sentences can be mixed around and put in different order.
They would still make complete sense because
Love is a play on hearts, and we’ll keep playing in order to survive.

Sit With It: You’ll Never Win A Race Against Google

Emotional recognition and expression is so important, especially living in our high-speed world today. I will straight up advise that this post is a bit deeper than the last one I published. Nevertheless, I hope you find value in the educational experience I provide for you below.

By the way, here is a nice album that I was listening to as I wrote this.

Recently one of my friends was going through a breakup, and was trying to figure out how to handle the feelings it brought on. Typically she would merely acknowledge what she felt and carry on with her day, in hopes that the feelings would pass as she distracted herself with her normal routine. What I’ve learned in therapy and through books, is how important it is to sit with your emotions. But what does that really mean? My friend was a bit confused when I told her to do this, and I completely understand why. “What am I supposed to do?”

In today’s digital, fast-paced society, we are instructed to constantly do. Post updates to your Facebook page, plan your next trip, exercise, meet up with friends or co-workers, work on improving your resume, volunteer, do your hobbies, start your own business, etc.. I think we are expected to do too much, especially when inner healing needs attention. Depending on where life leads you, we all go through challenging times in our life. What matters is how we handle the emotions that come along with each difficult situation. Emotional breakdowns, burnouts, chronic stress, these are becoming more and more common. It is NOT fun, let me tell you. This shit’s real people, and it isn’t going to get better until we learn how to prevent it by balancing our well being needs with the modern pace of life. Just because we can Google a question, and have an answer in less than 1 second, doesn’t mean that our human being can heal at the same rate. It takes time and active processing; we need to appreciate that.

Why is it though, that we so easily and naturally push down our emotions? When our reality becomes intolerable, we subconsciously numb the pain and protect ourselves through the usage of various ego defenses. The most common are: “denial (not actually happening); repression (never happened); dissociation (don’t remember what happened); projection (happening to you, not me); conversion (I do something else when I feel it happening); and minimizing (happened, but not that big of a deal).” (Bradshaw) Can you identify with any of the above ego defenses? Personally, I can relate to minimization. Don’t worry though, this is our body’s natural way of protection against emotional pain.

Read further…

According to R. L. Isaacson, the neocortex (the thinking brain) is concerned with overcoming memories and habits from the past, which “include the deeply grooved imprints (neuronal pathways) created by overwhelming stress and trauma.” (Bradshaw) The neocortex suppresses the noise and signals generated in our internal world, thus making itself capable to function unhindered. But the signals don’t just go away! Researchers theorize that “they continue to travel around and around close circuits of nerve fibers within the limbic system. The ego defenses bypass the tension and the pain, but the tension and pain remain. They are registered subcortically as an imbalance, an aborted action sequence awaiting release and integration. The energy of the original trauma remains like an electrical storm that reverberates tension throughout the biological system. People with seemingly rational adult lives may continue to live stormy emotional lives. Their storms continue because their original pain is unresolved.” (Bradshaw)

You’re probably thinking, “okay, yeah that’s interesting, but still, what am I supposed to do?” The answer lies within you! What I do, for example, is write. I love to write. I get all of my feelings out on paper (or screen, rather), and it somehow validates my emotions when I read my entry back to myself. While mindful of the situation and emotional discomfort, some people may dance, color, run, meditate, sleep, walk, scream, make music, paint, punch their pillow, cry, laugh, the list goes on. Sit with the discomfort and get it out! Don’t let your emotions get buried so that you have to deal with them later. In my opinion, it is way stressful to think about having to fight a big scary monster of emotions some day; one who may haunt you with its features throughout your life. Better to deal with them one by one as you go step by step, leaving you with a richer understanding of your individuality and wholeness of life itself. No more distractions from the big scary monster!

Get that shit out, don’t push it down! When it comes to healing, you’ll never win a race against Google. Wait for your answers, be patient with yourself and your human emotional needs. Here is my challenge for you: The next time you are going through a situation that could cause for emotional discomfort, I urge you to acknowledge the feeling, be with it, find your expression tool, and take, your, time. You may or may not notice an immediate response, however, you are healing yourself, and are setting yourself up for a lighter, brighter, more joyful life in your many years ahead.

 

Thanks for reading! I am now accepting subject requests to discuss in my future posts. If you would like to submit your topic, or have any further questions, please contact me at my According To Allie email: life.according.to.allie@gmail.com

P.S. My puppy, Skye Louie, is growing so fast! Here is a little video I made of her on our walk yesterday! Enjoy.

 

References: Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw

Just Do It: Choose Yourself

As I sit here, jobless, listening to the youthful tunes of Death Cab For Cutie, drinking a robust and flavorful wine, I am nothing but happy about the decision I made — I did it — I chose me. (Play the album below — if possible — while reading this post)

Boundaries. What do they mean to you and for you?

I read recently that boundaries are what make you who you are. This was a really confronting sentence for me, as I have never consciously acknowledged my boundaries, subsequently, questioning who I am at heart. Today I consciously made my first boundary!

After a long process of thought and conversation, I realized that working as a contracting coordinator did not give me back the energy that I put into it. I am not superwoman, and I’m relieved! Before this situation, I always thought of myself to be tough, and able to do whatever I put my heart to. I never considered that sometimes my heart doesn’t want to go down a certain road, and could reflect in mental and physical deterioration.

After going through a burnout, and being forced back to work with an accelerated reintegration program, I had a fall back. Over the course of this week, I was pressured to make decisions… quickly. The decision I made was to choose me, my happiness, and well being. I quit my job today, risking the possibility that I will not find another job that can afford my family’s current living situation. This risk, however, leaves me with the possibility to heal myself, and to find another job that gives me energy, rather than take it away.

So often, we make decisions based on what society expects from us, what we expect from us. But what we expect from ourselves cannot be valid if we truly don’t recognize our boundaries, thus knowing who we truly are and what is best for us.

Choose your boundaries. Listen to your body. Listen to your mind. Choose you.

How To Bring Light To Winter

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(Photo: Abisko, Sweden by Allison Meekins)

Hibernation: We all do it to some extent during the cold winter months. Although it is nice to cozy up and binge watch your favorite Netflix series, there comes a point where you need to switch up your routine. It is difficult to find motivation during this time of year, but it doesn’t have to be such a struggle to gain some movement and mental light. Here is a short list of ways you can turn your frigid, dark winter into a bright, self-nurturing season!

  1. Daily yoga sequences. Start or end your day with a yoga program, even if it is in your own home! It is really important to maintain some sort of movement during these dark, frosty days. Yoga is a great solution to move at your own pace, and to get in touch with your mind and body. There are numerous yoga instructors that put their programs on YouTube to use free of charge, for example: Yoga With Adriene. If yoga is not particularly ‘your thing’, consider some other sort of rhythmic movement, such as jogging, swimming, skating, etc.
  2. Purchase a light therapy lamp. You can find some moderately priced devices online that can be shipped directly to your home. Spend 15 to 45 minutes in front of light therapy lamp while eating breakfast or while getting ready in the morning, and see brightened results! You can buy this well-reviewed, compact Lightphoria lamp off Amazon.
  3. Color mandalas. Bring some simplicity and color to your life, while creating your own masterpiece! You can purchase a mandala coloring book at your local bookstore or offline. You can also just print them directly from the internet if desired! Whether you use colored pencils, markers, crayons or paint, any medium provides the opportunity to bring color to something that began black and white. It naturally brings brightness to your darkened winters!
  4. Meditate. Find a guided meditation off of YouTube. There are a variety of free guided meditation modules on the internet, covering numerous specific subjects (i.e. 10 Minute Meditation For Positive Energy, Clearing Subconscious Negativity, Color Therapy Chakra Meditation for Balance and Alignment). One of my friend’s, Jikke, recommended to me Rainbow Meditation: Journey into Color Healing by Michaiel Bovenes, which has become my personal favorite.
  5. Take a walk while listening to upbeat music. Everything seems to move a bit slower in the winter months, sometimes including the music we listen to. Make an upbeat playlist for yourself that will bring you energy and motivation to go out and conquer the world! Whether it be Dance/ Electronic, Oldies, 90’s Pop, or Hip Hop, or whatever else may put a hop in your step, make sure each song ends with a bob of the head or a smile on your face… or even a really awesome dance move. Combining the elements of fresh air, movement, and motivational music, you can only be left with a more positive outlook. 8 Tracks is a great platform where you can create or discover such playlists.

One last thing to remember, as the rain continues to fall, and the skies remain grey, it is all TEMPORARY! Use this season as a time to reconnect with your inner-self, and to rejuvenate. Light comes from within!