Wow! What a journey this has been! I started writing these weekly reflections in May of 2015. During that time, however, I was also working quietly on a massive project behind the scenes for over 1-1/2 years!
I am so humbled and honored to announce that my first and new book, All About Me: A Journey for Self-Reflection, has been published by Balboa Press and is now available for purchase! Yay! In fact, I’m so excited about this book and so incredibly passionate about the potential it may offer you that I’ll even give you a link to learn more about it at the end of this reflection! ;) But for now, I’d love to be able to share with you a little bit of its amazing backstory.
As you likely know by now, I’ve been a lifelong observer of myself, others, and the world we are all a part of. I’ve always been curious, always wanting to know more, to understand more, and definitely to grow in more expansive ways. So really, it could be said that All About Me has been a culmination of my last almost 3-1/2 decades of observation and learning!
Truthfully, though, the hardest of the pre-work for All About Me started a few years ago. It was late June of 2012. I found myself confronted once again with one of my greatest dysfunctional and repetitive life patterns. For many personal reasons, and because I could write another book (literally!) about the origins of this pattern in my life, I won’t go into great detail about it here in this reflection. However, for now, you can know that it was definitely a repetitive pattern. And it was definitely not a healthy pattern.
I have yet to fully understand what it was that led me to really explore this unhealthy pattern in ways so new to me. However, as with much of life, we can start to see that there are so many pieces that can eventually all fit together to make a complete (and suddenly very obvious and most intriguing) puzzle.
I have a feeling that there were several factors behind my choice to go further and explore this pattern in a deeper way at that time.
Maybe it was because it was June of 2012, and my mother had died about 3 months earlier. Maybe it was because I’d had time to get all the logistics and estate matters settled after she’d passed and was integrating my way back into “normal” life at that time.
Maybe it was because it was starting to hit me that I was an only child who no longer had any parents alive on this earth. Therefore, I was the last surviving member of my immediate family. Although I had people around me, this realization and the abysmal feeling of aloneness that I personally was beginning to feel at that time because of it were points on my journey that I wasn’t prepared for.
And maybe it was because I was indirectly introduced, thanks to a job I’d had at the time, to an amazing personality system called the Enneagram and was led to research deeper into this system in order to understand this difficult pattern I’d been repeating.
Likely, it was because of all of these factors, and possibly more. But as I opened my own Pandora ’s Box in a sense, and dove deeper into understanding myself, I couldn’t believe what I was discovering and how it was shaping me.
I was truly at peace with my mother’s death. I’d done so much of my grieving process as her illness progressed. However, I was not prepared to take a headfirst dive into some of the deepest, most challenging, most mind-blowing, most heart-opening, and what would come to be some of the most profoundly rewarding work of my entire life.
I couldn’t believe that through studying this one book about the Enneagram very in depth, titled Personality Types, written by Riso/Hudson, along with hours and hours of Google searches and additional reading, that I was finally finding answers to some of the potential reasons behind this unhealthy pattern I’d had.
You see, this was a pattern that I’d established well in my early childhood, and completely without realizing it, as many of our deepest patterns often come into being. It was a pattern that continued with harsh effects throughout my life, further justifying my unintentional and unrealized need to keep repeating it.
To put it simply, this was a pattern that stemmed from some of the greatest fears I had about myself, which are very possibly similar to some of the greatest fears many of us may have about ourselves, until we open ourselves to learn healthy ways to face them and to give them love.
Truthfully, that’s all fear wants. It just wants love. It wants reassurance. It wants security and comfort. And when it is convinced that it can’t get these things in healthy ways—the healthiest way, in my opinion, being through nourishing ourselves with the ever-replenishing well of love we have to offer ourselves from deep inside our very beings—it begins to resort to other unhealthier means.
Some of my greatest fears and general beliefs included the following thoughts: “I am not enough. I will never be enough. I’m afraid I’ll never fit in. I’m afraid I’ll never feel that I can be my full deep, wonderful, smart, complex, and goofy self in this world. I’m afraid I’ll never find deep, sustaining, and long-lasting friendships with people who really ‘get’ me. I’m afraid that even if I do, they will leave me (again, as they usually seem to do), or I will start to be myself, or I will change. I will grow in different ways, and they will hate that. It will be hard, because maybe then they will grow in different ways too, and we’ll grow apart (as what usually happened.)”
“They will be shocked when they find out who I really am, (which I haven’t been showing them, because I’ve been so afraid to), and then they will shut me out. And they will definitely shut me out if they think I’m changing.”
“And even if they didn’t, they’d probably desert me someday anyway, because I need them too much. I have no sense of healthy boundaries. I want too much of their attention. I can’t stand it when they don’t respond to me right away, because it makes me afraid that somehow they must have just started hating me after all. And it’s hard for me to give them privacy and let them live their own lives and figure their own stuff out. I need to “help” them at all costs. I need to be needed. Because if I’m not needed by them, I’m obviously unlovable. Who on earth would want to love me for very long anyway? I certainly can’t!”
Yep—that was truly much of the inner landscape of my mind at that time, just over 3 short years ago. And likely because I was so afraid of and convinced of all of these things, unintentionally and without really being aware of it, I seemed to keep making them come true.
Through my intense studies of the Enneagram personality system, a lot of basic psychology, and also a more expanded view of spirituality than that which I’d previously had, I came to realize that this unhealthy pattern I kept repeating, and these fears and awful thoughts about myself that I had, were deep, deep reflections of how I perceived my relationship with my mother.
This is where the entire second book could come in handy. But I’ll spare you that—for now. ;)
So as I explored this behavioral pattern and these fears, I was ultimately led to go even deeper in exploring the very complex dynamics of the relationship I did have with my mother. And that is when the miracles started to happen.
Now, they certainly didn’t seem or feel like miracles at first! But now I know that's exactly what they were. :)
I got out even more of my anger—in healthy ways. I finally expressed—privately—the depths of the anger I felt with regard to my relationship with my mother, and the depths of how I felt this anger had affected my own life. And after all those years, I finally started to let go of the totally normal and natural feelings of shame and guilt that I felt just for feeling so angry with myself and my mother in the first place! I decided that holding on to all of those feelings was only hurting me. It was time to healthily release them.
I’d struggled with mild anger throughout a lot of my life. For me, this would seep out through being cynical at times, making quick judgments of others at times, and also through being attracted to dramatic, controversial, and painful things that would really fire me up (the state of the world, politics, the behavior of some people in the world that I couldn’t understand, etc.). And I knew that I had a lot of angry feelings with regard to my relationship with my mother.
But I never really understood how angry I also was at myself. How really awful I felt about myself, after years and years of feeling rejection, feeling like I didn’t fit in, and feeling like I didn’t know how to relate to my own mom. I also never had understood how to fully resolve those feelings. That was, until I started to let go of the shame and guilt for feeling them in the first place, and then to take a deeper look at my mother’s own life.
She’d had a really hard life overall. She’d done a lot of amazing things while she was here in this world. But her life was not easy by any means. As I looked at my mother as a human, a person, for likely the first time in this deeper way, I was able to see all the pain she endured in her own life, which she herself may not have been fully able to healthily process, and which may have seeped out in different ways towards me. After some time, I was able to do this in a more objective way, without placing more blame on her or on me. I was also able to be even more grateful for all of the good she’d done in this world and for all she’d done for me.
Looking at my mother in this way, along with redefining my sense of my spirituality, helped me to come to such great spaces of forgiveness and compassion for her. It also helped me to come into those same spaces of forgiveness and compassion for myself. I could see that as humans, we’d both always done the best we could with what we knew at any given time.
Over the next year, I would sit with, work through, and resolve so many of these difficult feelings. It took time, and it was a daily practice for me every time those thoughts and feelings came up. But it was worth it times infinity. Because now that I’ve worked through so many of the roots of those hard feelings, I am overall able to easily come into a state of compassion for myself, my mother, and so many other people in this world who I sense are deeply hurting.
I am also overall able to love myself, to forgive myself, and to be less judgmental of and cruel to myself, and to offer the same to others. This way of living is my spiritual practice. I am now able overall to treat myself in the same way I wanted to treat all of those people in the past who I would have bent over backwards for and would have done anything for, no matter what the cost to myself might have involved. I am able, in a sense, to love myself as I love my neighbor.
Let’s back up a bit again to 2012. As I was knee-deep in doing this great work on myself and starting to feel more peaceful and settled, I was flipping through the TV channels one morning. I happened to come across a show called Super Soul Sunday on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. I started recording it and watching it regularly. On this show, I heard interviews of so many others with like minds whose words and work resonated with me deeply. They, like so many of us, have often been on deep life journeys as well, trying to make sense of them and find peace with them in the best ways they know how.
While watching Super Soul Sunday in late 2012, I saw an episode with three “new thought leaders.” One of them was a woman named Marie Forleo. Marie is the founder of B-school, an informative and supportive program for entrepreneurs. I was curious about her and her work, so I started watching some of the vlogs on her website and followed her on Facebook.
One morning, Marie shared a picture of “green juice” on her Facebook page and credited Kris Carr for getting her into green juice. So (naturally) I looked up Kris Carr, who is a cancer thriver who promotes a healthy lifestyle. Through Kris’ site, I saw that she’d be speaking at something called a Writers’ Workshop. I’d been considering doing some writing for awhile, although I didn’t know what I’d write about at the time. So I signed up for and attended that particular writers’ workshop in June of 2013.
At that workshop, I learned all about what it really takes to get a book out into the world! I also had a chance to win a self-publishing package from Balboa Press, a division of Hay House, if I submitted a book proposal by the end of January of 2014. Around November and December of 2013, I began toying with the initial ideas for All About Me. I submitted a proposal and didn’t win anything, but I did decide to self-publish with Balboa anyway. ;)
I knew I wanted to make a reflection process for people, and one that was definitely much simpler in nature than the one I’d undertaken! I knew that not everyone would have the in-depth interests in exploring psychology and spirituality that I’d had, and that this was perfectly okay. That was the biggest reason I wanted to create a simpler process. I also knew that I wanted this to be a process-oriented book which would be completely personal to each reader/participant. I know that we often learn things the best through our own experiences. So for this first book, instead of sharing a lot about my own life experiences, I wanted to offer people a chance to explore and reflect on their own.
I wanted to give people a new chance, wherever they found themselves right now in their lives, to reflect on their lives in perhaps a deeper and expanded way. I wanted them to be able to understand more of how they’d been influenced by their parents and by their society especially as they grew up, since we humans are not often aware of just how much we are being influenced by people and things as children, and even as adults.
I wanted to give people a chance to explore those influences for themselves, in their own ways. In doing so, they’d likely have the chance to develop a greater awareness of themselves and their world, and they could then decide how to proceed forward in their lives with this expanded awareness.
Maybe their lives would stay exactly the same, but they could make that choice with greater awareness. Maybe they’d be able to do a lot of healing from past patterns and feelings as I’d done. Maybe they’d be able to make great shifts in their thoughts, their feelings, their behaviors, and in turn, their lives, also as I’d done. It would all be totally up to each person and whatever awareness they may gain from the process. And I knew that whatever awareness they gained would be totally right for them at that time in their lives. Because life often has a pattern of giving us opportunities to grow, all in good timing.
Back to the timeline. In February of 2014, I committed to self-publishing this book. I barely had an outline and a start on it at that time, but I knew that committing to it would nudge me to get it done. ;) During that month, I also signed up for Marie Forleo’s B-school and learned all about online entrepreneurship. And by the end of June 2014, I’d submitted my first draft to Balboa.
After facing and working through a million more fears about putting my voice and my work out into the world (because I try to practice what I preach, and this putting-yourself-out-there stuff is no joke, people!), I slowly took legal and official steps over the next several months to form a business. In February I began creating my website and committed to weekly blogging. And finally in late April of this year, I submitted my final draft of All About Me. Since then, I’ve launched my website at the end of May and have been consistently blogging weekly. Also, the cover design, final corrections, and printing setup for the book have taken place. And last week I learned that my book was indeed ready to be officially born.
And that, my friends, is the story behind All About Me!
But here’s the really fun part of the story, and this is where you come in. ;)
Because, you see, All About Me may have stemmed from my own journey.
But it’s really a book for you.
It’s subtitled A Journey for Self-Reflection for a reason. This book is a chance for you to take another look at your own journey, if you may so desire. And like me, you may never know what you may find. But what you may find may help you change your life in truly amazing ways, if you allow it to. ;)
I have more details about All About Me and what it involves, and I can’t wait to share them with you. If you are even remotely curious about this book and its process, I lovingly invite you to check it out right here.
Thank you for allowing me to share my work and my message with you. And thank you for allowing me to serve you, through these free reflections, and potentially through All About Me, if it speaks to your heart. I am so appreciative to be doing this work, and I’m so grateful to be connected to you through this amazing online world.
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No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,