Does Surrendering Really Work?

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” 

― Abraham Lincoln

Surrender. It’s a word thrown around so often and so casually that I feel, in some ways, we’ve lost sight of just how profound the very act of surrendering can be.

I’ve been in one too many yoga classes where the instructor touts some paraphrased version of this idea picked up in a book or from another teacher that I can’t help but wonder how many of them truly practice the suggestion they are regurgitating back to us? How many of them actually understand the true meaning of surrender? How many of them are mindfully letting go each and every day?

But then again, I found myself wondering if I even understand the meaning of the word myself?

As a self-proclaimed control freak, 'letting go' and 'surrendering' have often evoked a lot of eye rolls from me but mostly a lot of deep frustration and anxiety because honestly, I really suck at it. I’m always wondering how the hell do I surrender? Am I doing it right?

As a chronically nervous person, I often find myself full of worry, full of this need to manipulate and control as if that will bring me the peace I’m yearning for.

And then I wonder what will happen if I surrender all wrong? What if I surrender and something I don’t want shows up in my life? What if life gets all mucked up because I sat back, gave up what I think is right and gulp, surrendered?

What if surrendering actually fucks my life up?

But the last couple of years have stirred a curiosity deep within me and I realize it’s time to explore the truth behind this idea deeper.

Because one thing holds true, it seems like the harder I grasp on to the things I can not control, the more suffering I seem to experience in my inner, and outer world.

And I’m so bored with my suffering.

I’m so bored with the narrative swirling around in my head. The stories, the trauma, the anxiety buried deep in my chest.

I want it to rise up and out of me so I can just be, well, me.

I want to feel in total alignment with who I believe myself to be and have the confidence to bring her to the party no matter who is around or what is happening in my life.

I’m constantly hearing, "Let go, Amanda. Let go, Amanda. For God's sake, Amanda! Bloody hell…just let go already!” It’s no longer a whisper. In fact, it’s a feverish shout as if life has both hands clasped around my ear while simultaneously tapping on my head asking if anyone is home.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah” I mumble. “I’m coming. Hold your horses.”

I’m stubborn and a control freak and what is that saying? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

And then I wonder, maybe I’m just not ready to give up my suffering? Maybe I’m not committed enough to being truly happy? What if, part of me, really loves my pain?

I had to find my own way to this moment.

To surrendering.

I had to wade and navigate through all the questions and the little voice that tells me all the lies of unworthiness and the self-inflected turmoil of long expired stories that keep playing over and over from deep within.

I had to find my way to letting go naturally. I had to want it that bad.

This experiment is a mix of curiosity and the profound wake up call I feel I’m having to go inward in a way I never have before.

So with much anticipation, a little nerves and a deep inhale here I go.

I’m SURRENDERING.

For the next 30 days I’m committed to this sacred act of letting go.

I’m not entirely sure what this will look like but here are a few things I do know.

When worry about money shows up, I’m going to remember that it’s always worked out. Not too mention I’m innovative and creative.

When fear of abandonment comes knocking, I’m going to tenderly love myself, hands clasped over my beating heart as I whisper to my inner child, ‘it’s ok, you are ok. I am here and I’m never leaving you.”

When anxiety taps on my shoulder I’m going to gently invite it to sit with me in silence as we close our eyes and breathe in and breathe out.

When I question my inner voice and feel like making a choice out of fear, I’m going to lovingly remind myself that I’m on the right path. That I am supported.

And when my ego kickstarts the engine I’m going to remind her that I’m driving. She’s welcome to ride along, but she does not have full control and I have no tolerance for back seat drivers.

I’m not sure where this will take me but I can assure you, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

So does surrendering really work? We shall see.


What's Love Got To Do With It?

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"If you are searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror." - Unknown

The other day I was Skyping with a friend who's current situation eerily resembles mine almost three and a half years ago. As she shared her fears and worries, I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of empathy and compassion for where she was. As she nervously confided in me about her decision to leave her marriage of two years, I wanted to wrap my arms around her and say, "It's gonna be okay. I promise. One day it will be even better then okay." 

I wanted to tell her everything I had learned over the last three and a half years about love and how sometimes loss leads you to discovering some of the most magical things about yourself and about life.

I wanted to share how a lot of the time, we think the love from someone else is enough but it isn't. What is enough however is having the courage to do what is in your heart which isn't always the easy thing.

 But I couldn't, it wasn't my place. I knew all these lessons were ones she had to come to on her own. All I could do was listen and hope that she felt my love and support from thousands of miles away. 

It got me wondering though, how many people are married or coupled up who have done so under the same false pretenses I did? The one that says the right person will come along and save you. They will love you enough so that you won't have to learn the very thing that WILL save you; loving yourself.

 I also wondered how many people were staying in relationships that resembled the very one I was in because it felt safe or because they felt it was something the should do. Those damn should's. 

I grew up believing in the fairy tale. The one that had my prince charming riding in on his Technicolor My Little Pony and rescuing me in some way, shape or form. Hey, these were my fantasies and regular horses bored the hell out of me. My Little Ponies were what my romantic dreams were made of. 

He’d trot in with his perfectly parted Ken Doll hair because what young girl doesn't adore Ken. With his sparkling blue eyes and his big, bronze muscles, which were just a little stiff if you asked me, and he'd scoop me up with his arms that barely hinged at the elbows and we’d ride off into the blazing sunset to live happily ever after in our Barbie Dream House. The one with the white picket fence, the perfect career making the perfect amount of money, the 2.5 kids, and a friggin' partridge in a pear tree.  And that wouldbe our "The End".

Fast-forward to real life and one painfully failed marriage and a handful of brutal dating scenarios with openly emotionally unavailable men and this single thirty-seven year old has finally realized that love looks a little different then what my youthful (and delusional) dreams were once so naively made of.

It's taken me a long time to admit to myself that real love isn't the stuff that Blockbusters and fairytales are made of.

It definitely isn’t a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie.

It isn’t black and white.

And absolutely, under no circumstance, can real love sweep in on a brightly colored pony and save you. 

Entering any partnership under these pretenses is bound to fail you at some point.  

But let me start from the beginning. Let me tell how I came to realize that I had it all wrong. That my idea of real love was nothing more then a deceptive idea passed down over time and adopted by a girl who just wanted a happily ever after. 

Let me tell you what love isn't

I remember waking in the early hours of a cold February morning in 2014 from another restless night sleep. A fresh layer of white snow covered the bare vines and steep rolling hills of the fifty acre farm and vineyard I had called home for the past four years. I pulled the covers up close to my chin and in the stillness of the early morning light left over from the moon, I looked to my left at the silhouette silently sleeping next to me and my chest tightened. The heaviness returned from its eight hour break and once again, I wondered how I had allowed myself to get here. 

That had become the norm. I was thirty-three and found myself in a manipulative marriage of less then two years that had become more about constantly trying to change each other then acceptance, support, encouragement and love. I found myself constantly wondering if this was really it. Was this really what love and marriage were? Deception, lies, dread and control? 

Was I really that desperate to be coupled up that I had sacrificed my own personal happiness to do so? 

What about the fairytale? What about my prince charming and my technicolor pony ride off into my rainbow color sunset? What about my happily ever after? 

I slipped out from beneath the covers, quiet as to not wake my then husband, desperate for a few more hours to myself before I had to face my very own Jackal and Hyde. I tip toed down the stairs into the bathroom on the main floor and flipped on the light. Instead of avoiding the mirror as I normally did, I stood, staring down the reflection.

I looked tired and defeated from the daily disappointment and heartache of what I had allowed my life to become. I had no idea who the women in the mirror was. I had broken a promise I made to myself a long time ago after growing up with parents who's marriage resemble the one I now found myself frantically treading water in.

"How did you let this happen? This can't be it." I whispered to the girl in the mirror. For the first time I allowed the words to bubble up and before I knew it, slip out my lips and into the hands of the very thing that could save me, my own.  

It was as if I had broken some kind of spell and I snapped out of the delusional fog I was in. I made a promise to  myself that I would do whatever I had to do to live this one precious life the way I knew, in my heart, I needed to live it. Not chasing down the love of someone else but rather figuring out what that meant on my own.

The events that transpired over the next two months were heavy and heartbreaking but perfectly laid out for me so that I had no other choice but to leave.

In mid-May, just days before what was to be my second wedding anniversary, I found my car packed with all my belongings as I drove north back home to Seattle wondering how I was ever going to put my life back together. However, in my heart I knew a life stumbling solo was far better then being coupled up in something that was abusive and neglectful and lacking any sense of what I believe to be true love

So what does love have to do with it anyway?

Not to sound incredibly cliche, but one of the greatest lessons I learned from walking away from my marriage was that love between two people just isn't enough. You have got to love yourself first. Unfortunately, I had no idea what that looked like and had a long road of hard and repetitive lessons ahead.

How we learn to love ourselves looks different for all of us but I wholeheartedly believe that until we learn to do just that, our lives are going to be full of a lot of pain and suffering because we are going to be constantly looking for that love from others.

The greatest step I ever took was finally listening to my heart and walking away from something that was safe, comfortable and familiar for the complete and utter unknown. It was in that moment I cracked a little piece of the puzzle and realized that this was the way to the truth. This was the way I was going to learn how to love myself and step into a life that felt like me. 

The moment I drove away from comfort I knew I had started a wild and crazy journey into the depths of my own heart. Something I had only ever dipped my toes in. 

I said yes to something big and scary and I have kept saying yes to things that terrify me because I know they will keep leading me to deeper parts of myself. 

So what does love have to do with it? 

Absolutely everything. 

Love with someone else may not be enough but you better believe the love you feel for yourself is. That is the answer. Until you know what that looks like it is going to be really hard to invite in the kind of love you deserve and want with someone else. 

The path isn't always paved perfectly and those bumps and challenges are usually leading you to discovering another part of yourself that needs some love. That's what all those hard, often repetitive lessons are meant to do. They are supposed to shine light on the areas that need more of your own love. 

That is where I'm at now, facing many of the same lessons over and over, slowly realizing I have the choice to love myself enough to say not again.

I'm learning to love myself by leaning into those parts of me that are unfamiliar and choosing to do things differently. I'm creating the life I want that feels like the truth even if it doesn't make sense at the time. And I'm just going to keep doing this. Day in and day out. I'm going to wake up every day and continue to make choices, easy or hard, that are based around doing what is best for my heart, my path, my journey, my life.

I'm going to continue to say goodbye to people, places and things that do not serve my heart and allow time and truth to cultivate the space for those things that do. 

So that hopefully, one day, when the right man walks into my life, I can let him love me just that way too. 

 

 

creativity is in the eye of the creator

 

For years I wished so badly to be a "creative" person. I wanted to paint with such beauty and majestic qualities that my art would touch the souls of those looking onward in a way that left them longing for more. I wanted to write stories with characters so vivid and wild that they came to life at night dancing in the dreams of those reading. I wished that I was brave enough to stand on stage, singing and dancing as I embodied the persona of someone that had been crafted by the imagination of someone with wicked creativity. 

My lack of confidence and insecurities got the better of me however and I soon bought into my beliefs that I wasn't creative at all. I would sit in my room for hours drawing, never quite able to capture what I really wanted. I'd write stories but never felt like I could think of the right words to express what I truly wanted to say. And in the quiet hours when no one else was home, I'd turn my music up and theatrically sing and dance throughout the house but never when anyone else could see. So, like a lot dreams left uncared for, I let the idea of being a "creative" person die too. 

It wasn't until sometime in my late twenties that I started to hear the calls to tap back into my creative side. One day in the late summer of 2009 I was sitting at the dining room table of my friend's beautiful early 1900's West Seattle home, a place I was fortunate to live, when I heard a voice. I was nearly in tears, frustrated with feelings I couldn't quite figure out. I felt like I had betrayed myself. I felt lost and confused and all I could do was ask for help. With my head cradled in my arms resting on the dinning room table I cried out, "what do you wish for me to do?" 

As if on cue, I heard a very loud and clear voice that said, "Amanda, start a blog."

I lifted my head, confused as to where the voice came from and asked out loud, "What do you mean start a blog? I'm not a writer! Who, besides my mom, is going to read anything I have to write?" (no offense mom...you're my most cherished reader!)

And I heard it again, "Amanda, start a blog."

Exhausted and tired from the self-inflicted fight, I decided to give in and listen.

As I was just about to move to Taiwan, I figured that was a great great transition into blogging. I barely knew what blogging was but I would capture my thoughts and experiences with words and photos and in doing so, the craziest of things happened. The very process started to feed me in a way I'd never been fed before. I would leave my house and spend hours, completely unaware of the time, walking around the streets of northern Taiwan capturing everything I could. I felt a shift inside and an openness in my heart I hadn't felt in a long time. 

Then when I moved to Oregon I started a new blog, Bullfrogs and Bulldogs, and documented my life transitioning from the city to living on 50 acres of farm and vineyard. What was intended to be a platform to share the hilarious stories of a chuck wearing city girl navigating her way around country life turned into a creative outlet that allowed me to use my house and the land as my canvas. I felt pulled to start exploring home up cycling and gardening and would share those projects on my blog. My canvas was big and I was fortunate to have the means to dive deeper into the things I was being called to do.  I learned to paint and sew and explore my greenish-brown thumb. 

The more I did, the more I felt pulled to try new things. 

Since then I've continued to be open to whatever I feel called to do and it has totally changed my perspective on what it means to be a creative person.

After many years I realized something really important. The problem wasn't my lack of abilities. It was my definition of creativity. It was very black and white. I thought I had to fit into a perfect little box. Worst of all, I thought that to be creative I could only love and spend my time focusing on one craft. Was I so wrong!

Isn't it interesting what we allow ourselves to believe? I completely shut off such an integral part of who I am as a person all because I thought I didn't fit into a mold. 

If you are anything like me, you are a multifaceted person with many interests and passions. One minute you think you've found it, that one thing you are supposed to invest your life doing, then five minutes later something shiny and pretty catches your eye and you are left confused and wondering in a different direction

It's really not so black and white though. There really are NO rules. We are the ones limiting ourselves by this convoluted idea that creativity (and life mind you) have to look a certain way. 

It makes me sad to think that so much creativity is not being shared with the world because of this preconceived notion of what creativity is supposed to look like. So many people are afraid of making a mistake that they never try at all.  Creativity is vast and big. Creativity is something you do that makes your soul and spirit come alive. Creativity is taking risks and letting go of the fear of not being perfect. 

Creativity is your souls way of communicating to the world. 

And my dear, your soul needs to be heard.  

That's the key to creativity, figure out what lights you up and do that. 

What are the things that you are excited to do that you can you get lost in where hours slip by like they were merely moments in time? What makes you giddy excited to rush home to or spend any and all free time you may have doing? What gives you butterflies and makes your heart beat a little faster? What is that one thing that if you could not fail, you would do forever? 

We are all creative beings. The sooner you can believe that and start breathing life into that side of you, the sooner you will find a personal freedom that makes you feel truly alive. 

What are you longing to create? 


And without further ado...it's now open. My Etsy shop is officially up and ready just in time for the holiday season. Make sure you check back often in the coming weeks as I'm working on some awesome holiday signs that I think you and your loved ones will adore hanging on their walls. 


My Greatest Fear is Being Differen

Have you ever watched a flock of sheep? It wouldn't be surprised if you haven't. I just so happen to have a flock of them, 20 to be exact. They live in my back yard and day in and day out for a few moments of the day, I watch them. What I've observed, their little nuances and habits, ones that come so instinctual, an innate drive from deep within, has a bigger meaning to it. This is what I've learned.

Sheep stay together, no matter what, because it's instinctual. It's what they've always done and they know no other way. They are a prey animal, being hunted by the likes of coyotes, bobcats, and cougars or anything else that would feed on them, so naturally it is safer to stay together then to strike off on their own.

Sometimes however,  I see one of my sheep off in the far corner of the pasture, simply grazing at the grass underfoot, happy to have a moment of solitude and I wonder; why did it leave the safety of it's flock?

 Eventually, one of the other members of the flock realizes one of their own has wondered off  and starts to raise a fit, making all kinds of alarming noises, guttural, deep and often obnoxious sounds, ones that I are asking the wanderer, "what the hell are you doing? You can't go off by yourself! It's a big, bad, scary world out there and if you aren't careful, something will get you!" This usually sends the solo into it's own fit of panic and it returns to the safe keeping, under the wing of it's flock.

Once in awhile you need to remove a couple of your sheep from the flock because,  say they keep trying to strike off on their own, jumping through the electric fence. Like most in the animal world, once you have left your flock, it's often hard to return, sometimes you just aren't allowed, because you have changed or unrecognizable and what is more feared in the world then someone or something that has changed.

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Growing up I was a lot like a sheep. I’d follow my flock here and there and everywhere paralyzed by the idea that if I wandered off on my own, I too would be eaten by the big, bad, scary world.  I believed the lies that different was weird and uncool and instead taking chances, instead of being brave, because I was scared, I stayed close by for fear that if I left, I’d be criticized or even worse, ostracized and abandoned by my flock.

I was also a dreamer. A huge, wildly imaginative blue-eyed, curly haired kid who was incredible awkward around just about everyone I knew but I always had my dreams and they kept me company when no one else would. They gave me a little hope that one day I would rise above, conquer my fears, and live the life I've always envisions.

My dreams usually consisted of two things; the man I would one day meet, marry and have children with and the adventurous, fear-free, incredible life I would one day grow up to live. I obsessed over the places I would go and the things I'd get to try. I fantasized and dreams and longed for the life I would one day live.

I knew that one day I'd meet a man and get married, possibly have children and be happy. The problem with the latter however is that in order to live an adventurous, fearless life I'd have to give up my  fear of being different, my fear of being separated from my folk, from what you've always known, which I wasn’t sure I was able or ready to do.

Fear is a tricky bastard. (Tweet that no brainer)

He, unlike his enemy, fearlessness, causes lasting paralysis that plagues you well into your adult years, the time in your life when you are suppose to be too confident in who you and what you want for your life to worry about what anyone else will think.

Fear can creep up in many forms and entangle you in its sticky web of tendrils causing you to get stuck in thoughts of self-doubt and limited beliefs. It’s hard to find reprieve from his web, even if you manage to free a limb, he’s right there ready to weave another strand somewhere else.

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So, I grew up with big dreams but as a sheep, I believed that if I ventured off by myself I'd be alone and eventually eaten by something bigger then me and I was scared so I follow my flock. I followed them all the way to a college I didn’t really want to go to where I spend a year and a half numbing myself with booze and terrible hangovers, trying to quite the voice in my head that was screaming to be different, longing to be different.

Then one fateful night that dreamer, the voice deep inside had finally had enough. Picking up the phone at two in the morning, I called my mom. To be honest, my flock, not knowing what to do with me, forced me to call my mom and between hyperventilating and soaking wet tears, I took the leap of faith, I chose my dreams.

A few weeks later there I was, without my flock and a whole lot of dreams and the world was my oyster. Or so I thought.

If you ask some, they’d say that I’m a risk taker, that I live my life and I live it according to one rule, just do it now, do it now, do it now. I’ve packed up and moved across the world in as little as three weeks’ notice, I mean, that takes balls, right? Well, if you ever find  your way into that big round thing full of curly locks sitting on top of my shoulders you’d realize that although I do take some risks I’m still, after so many years of being separated from my flock, entangled in that sticky web of fear.

I’m still scared shitless of being different.

Oh what a tangled web I’ve weaved, this web of fear and self-doubt, limited beliefs and the list goes on and on. All I’ve ever wanted was to be different. I wanted to be me, the dreamer who dreams big, scary audacious dreams and then actually pursues them.

My biggest fear is that I am going to live my life making excuses for why I can’t or shouldn’t do the things I’ve always dreamed of doing or do the things I’m just now starting to dream of. I’m terrified that one day I’ll be lying on my death bed and instead saying, ‘well, that was one hell of a ride,” I’ll be saying “what was it all for anyway?"

I'm afraid that I'll keep following, in some way or another, my flock. That I will never find my own way, live authentically, connected to my purpose.

But the thing is, we have a choice. We can follow the comfort and safety of our flock or, we can dream big, take a chance, and walk away from our flock.

So today I’m proclaiming to the world, or the few of you that are actually reading this, today I’m saying enough with the excuses, enough of being a sheep, today and going forward I’m going to show up for life, I’m going to live and I’m going to continue dreaming big and taking risks.

I love sheep, they are one of my favorite animals after all,  but I certainly do not want to be one.

Baaahhh.

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Recently I serendipitously stumbled across a blog called Fearful Adventurer whose writer, Torre, followed her love onto his ‘humble boat’ and sailing around the world, she began the journey of discovering what it really means to face her fears.   Her debut novel, Love and the Chance of Drowning, was picked up by several major publishing companies shortly after self-publishing and is being made into a major motion picture. Um, I’d say that is every writers dream, right? But in all seriousness, this book is being shipped as I type this and I'm moving it to the top of my ‘to be read’ pile.

Love with a Chance of Drowning – A Memoir by Torre DeRoche

This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.

"Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow." Australian Associated Press

"… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams." Nomadicmatt.com

"In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction." Courier Mail

Find out more…

"In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction." Courier Mail

Find out more…

Why Hire a Health Coach?

You may be asking yourself,  "why would I hire a health coach?" What exactly does a health coach even do? Well, both are incredibly good questions and it's my hope to clarify here today.

Tell me, when was the last time you felt like you really had someone giving 100% of their energy to help you succeed? Someone who was pushed you to be the best, most authentic self you can be?

Well, that right there in a nutshell, is the primary job of a health coach. To help you uncover and discover new opportunities so that you can live the most healthy, happy and fulfilling life imaginable.

As much as it is about what you put in your body, it goes so much deeper then that. Many of us have constant negative self-talk that is preventing us from fully being who we are suppose to be. Sometimes this is even unbeknownst to us because it's all we've ever really known. Have you ever really stopped and listened to your thoughts? Try it, watch what comes and goes on a regular basis. It may just sound a little something like this; "I'm never going to lose those ten pounds, it's no wonder I'm single, I just can't do anything right, when I get that promotion or meet 'him' or 'her' I'll finally be happy," and so on and so on.

We spend so much time thinking about 'when' we are going to be happy instead of giving ourselves permission to be happy now.

When was the last time you did something that truly made YOU happy? Something that filled your bucket and made you feel alive, grinning from ear to ear?

That's what I thought.

We are brought up to believe that as adults, we can't have that same carefree fun that we had when we were young. Trust me, I've been right there with you in thinking that being an adult meant being 'responsible'. And it is, BUT, just because you are responsible doesn't mean you can't have fun and live the best life imaginable.

Hiring a health coach isn't a sign of weakness but actually takes a great amount of strength to admit that you are stuck and need help pushing forward. Together, you will learn so much about yourself that looking in the mirror will start to become a whole lot easier and you will actually love the skin you are in! Wouldn't that be amazing!

Many of us use food as a way to fill those missing voids in our life. Unhappy in your job? Well, eating that second cookie may provide a momentary glimpse of false happiness but wouldn't it be incredible if you were so busy being happy that you didn't even notice the cookies in the first place?

That's exactly what working with a Health Coach can help you discover!

So, what are you waiting for? Your true, authentic, beautiful life is waiting!

It would be a honor to work with you. You can contact me here for more information on how I can help you uncover your truth!