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Posts Tagged ‘suffering’


I am always amazed at how things often have a magical way of unfolding.

This past weekend I was supposed to go camping with my meditation group. We had had it on the calendar for a while and I had gotten the time off from my weekend job. I was excited as this would be my first camping trip in years and I looked forward to going deep, in the stillness of nature, with my sweet little meditation group.

But as it often does, things come up and as the weekend got closer, unfortunately a couple of people had to cancel and in the end we decided to postpone. I was disappointed, but I knew we’d go another time.

However, as the weekend unfolded, and different plans began to take form, I was blessed to witness something so magical, so inspiring, that I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.

My good friend Rebecca (also from said meditation group) and I decided to go for a day hike in Tennessee Valley, just a handful of miles north of the city. San Francisco summer was full on: it was hot, sunny and clear blue skies; the perfect day for a hike to the beach.

When we got to the parking lot, we decided it was too hot for sneakers and slipped into more comfortable shoes for the fairly flat walk to the beach. Rebecca put on her favorite pair of flip-flops and we made our way to the Pacific. It was a beautiful day at the beach. It was hot, but there was a perfect, soft sea breeze and for once it was actually warm enough to wade in the water (a rare thing in San Francisco).

Photo by Rebecca Fettig of http://goldenpointsf.com/

Photo by Rebecca Fettig of http://goldenpointsf.com/

We left our shoes in the sand, went into the water, and waded around happily for a while at the shore. Walking along the beach, the tide was clearly coming in and the waves were catching us by surprise and splashing playfully against us. Set against the shimmering water were the beautiful California hills, limestone cliffs jutting up dramatically against the sky.

We walked around a rock and at that moment, we saw a big wave coming. Rebecca managed to run away from it, but I on the other hand was not fast enough and got a refreshing sprinkle.

With the tide coming in so fast, our thoughts turned to our shoes and it occurred to us that we hadn’t even thought about how far they were from the water. We wondered if they were even still there, or if they had been whisked away, sacrificed into the sea. We began walking back the short distance of the beach, preparing and laughing to ourselves about the prospect of having to possibly hike back to the car barefoot.

As we got closer and closer, I saw no shoes in sight. I was convinced they were long gone and I chuckled. Yes, it would be unfortunate, but it makes for a great story, so the humor in it did not escape me. However, as we made our way back to the spot where we thought the shoes were, a friendly woman asked us if these shoes were ours, pointing to the wet, sand-covered shoes. Yep, that was them. The tide had in fact tried to steal them away from us, but thanks to the kindness of complete strangers, we would not have to go shoeless that day. That was just one of the magical encounters of the day.

I tell this part of the story because it is relevant to the next part. If we hadn’t found our shoes, we wouldn’t have ventured out on our next adventure and we wouldn’t have experienced the most magical encounter of all.

As we began making our way back towards the car, along the dry, dusty path, we saw several different trails, to the left and right, meandering up and over the rolling hills. We knew we didn’t have loads of time, and as the trail heads were marked with their corresponding mileage, we decided to take the shortest one, a 1.9 mile trail up to the right. And off we went.

Shortly after embarking along the path, suddenly we were under a canopy of trees, in what I can only describe as a tiny enchanted forest. We crossed over a sweet little bridge over a trickle of river and the sun was magically filtering through the trees. Within the rest of the dry, hot landscape, this little oasis seemed very out of place. We reveled in it.

Emerging out of this small grove, we then started heading up and up over the hill. As we got further along and it began to get steeper, Rebecca began to hesitate. She was uncertain if her flip-flops would be able to handle the slippery slope back down and she of course didn’t want to fall. We knew we weren’t prepared to do a major hike in our chosen footwear, but we figured we’d go as far as we could. So we paused for a moment as she tested out the security of her footing beneath her.

In that moment, I looked up and saw something I will never forget. I turned to Rebecca and in response to her question about whether or not we should keep going, I said, “Look up and I think you have your answer. Let’s keep going.”

She looked up and saw what I saw. There was a man, with not one, but two prosthetic legs, walking carefully down the steep dirt trail, ensuring that he had his footing as he went. And if that isn’t incredible enough, not only did he have two prosthetic legs, he also had one prosthetic arm. And this man was hiking, by himself. Are you blown away yet? Because there’s more. Yes, more. On top of having three prosthetic limbs, this amazing human being was also carrying a mountain bike over his shoulder. This man (perhaps a veteran of war?), who through some unknown turn of events was left with only one natural limb, was spending the day hiking and mountain-biking. Rebecca and I were completely dumbfounded.

As the man (who was quite good-looking by the way- just sayin’!) walked by, we greeted him and asked him how his day was going. He returned our greeting with a friendly smile. We asked him how much farther it was to the top and he told us we were about 65% of the way. We wished him a beautiful day and kept on going. And as we continued up the hill, our hearts were blown wide open. We, both of us, were absolutely in awe of this beautiful spirit, this incredible being whose story we knew nothing about, but who clearly had the immeasurable strength to overcome so much adversity. And we stood in wonder of the resilience of the human spirit.

We got to the top of the crest and looked out at the breathtaking scenery: romantic, rolling hills colliding with the churning ocean, and a group of hawks soaring majestically above. I was filled with goose bumps. Rebecca and I looked at each other and we acknowledged the absolute gift with which we had just been blessed; the absolute wonder and testament to the triumphant nature of the human spirit. The two of us were overflowing with amazement and gratitude.

Tennessee Valley

In the end, I’d have to say I’m pretty happy that our camping trip got canceled because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that encounter for the world. It was an experience by which I was deeply humbled, a gift for which I am truly grateful, and a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

And if ever you find yourself thinking that you are incapable of accomplishing or overcoming something? Think again.

“Although the world is full of suffering,
it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

~ Helen Keller

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Today is September 24th. This used to be a special and happy day for me. This is the birthday of the man who was once my best friend, the truest and most trusted friend I’d ever had on this Earth. But when this man left my life, and subsequently became the most painful and profound loss I’ve ever experienced, that is when September 24th did a complete 180 and became a sad and dark day for me.

Last September 24, 2010, is the day that it would become a prophetic day for me…

That day had come as it had for the previous three years and it had dragged me right back down into the darkness. The pain was palpable. But that day I made a decision. I made a decision that I would no longer allow any negative thoughts to get the better of me, to pull me down into the muck. That day, I decided to commit myself to a 365-day challenge of positivity, that for every day for a year I would force myself to focus on the positive, to find the beauty, the good and the magic in every day. That day, September 24, 2010, was the day that I began “365 Ways to Raise Your Vibration”.

This is the very first vibration that I posted that day:

“365 Ways to Raise Your Vibration”: #1: Sing at the top of your lungs in the car!

You see, the minute I had the idea (which by all means came as a flash of pure inspiration) to start this challenge I was filled with a powerful surge of love, and it was as if the Universe were saying, “Yes, yes brave girl, go forth!” I began singing at the top of my lungs, filled with positive vibration, as I drove down the freeway and that was the moment that I fully understood that we can change our thoughts, and that by doing so, we can raise our energetic vibration and create more joy for ourselves.

Each day that followed, I would look for something good in that day and I would post my daily “vibration” on my personal Facebook page. I was doing this purely for my own purposes, to raise my own spirits, to drag myself out of the quagmire of dark and murky emotions. It was truly an act of desperation. But that’s when something magical and completely unexpected began to happen. One friend after the next began asking me from what book I was getting this and where they could buy it! “From what book”?!! These were not from any book, these were my own thoughts. Wow! I had no idea that a simple little idea could have such an impact on other people, but many friends began emailing me to tell me that my posts were inspiring them, that my thoughts were encouraging them to stop and smell the flowers and to look for the beauty in their own lives.

Then one day my Mom told me that I should publish this as a book. Seriously? Was this seriously something that I, little old me, could do? After all, I wasn’t a writer, nor had I ever wanted to be. So what business did I have thinking about writing a book? Absolutely none! I tucked it into the back of mind as something I would possibly explore later. But apparently the Universe had other ideas for me. A few weeks later I was unexpectedly fired from my job, fired for the first time in my life. And let me tell you, I am not the type of person to get fired. I have always excelled at every job I’ve ever had: I am a super hard-worker, an over-achiever and was always one to get promoted (in fact I HAD been promoted only 6 months prior to this shocking blow!), so I knew immediately that this had to be for a greater purpose.

Shortly after getting fired and not really sure of what I was going to do next, into my inbox popped an email: Hay House Publishing was announcing an upcoming Writers’ Workshop. The main purpose of the workshop was to learn how to write a book proposal and how to submit it to agents and publishers. Hmm. This seemed like very odd timing to me. My friends had asked me where they could buy this book that was not a book, my Mom had told me I should publish this as a book, and I had just been fired from my job. Do you see where I’m going here? It seemed as clear as day to me with this email about the Hay House Workshop, that the Universe was offering me a breadcrumb. I knew I needed to follow it. I immediately registered for the workshop.

A few months later, in April of 2011, I went to the Hay House Writers’ Workshop in San Diego. They taught us all about how to build our platform, our audience, how to get our message out and how to write and submit a book proposal. Many of the tips that they gave us about how to build our platform had to do with leveraging social media: creating a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, blogging, and cross-cultivating all of these channels to increase our audience. Half of the audience was completely lost. “What’s a blog? What’s a Wiki? What is Twitter?” These were the types of questions being asked. I, on the other hand, was on fire. I had come from the .com world, so this was old hat to me. I knew exactly what I needed to do. I flew home from San Diego that night and I literally stayed up half of the night launching and linking all of my social media sites.

It is now only five months later since attending that Hay House Writers’ Workshop and I am thrilled and moved to have over 21,000 fans in 36 countries around the world, speaking two different languages. I am regularly blogging in English and Spanish, I have had my work featured in multiple publications and I have completed and submitted my book proposal, with the full intention of publishing 365 Ways to Raise Your Vibration as a book.

So as I sit here on September 24, 2011, I find myself completely stupefied as to how a simple little thought on a dark day one year ago, could have completely changed my life, and the lives of so many other people. I have managed to stay true to my commitment and I have posted something different every single day that raised my vibration. And believe me this was no small task. Like anyone, I had my days where I did not want to get out of bed, when life seemed hopeless and without purpose. I had other days where friends were crappy or bad things happened, some days when the proverbial skies seemed nothing but dark. How on earth could I find the light on those days? I forced myself. I knew that I had to fulfill this commitment to myself and eventually to my 21,000 fans, so even on the darkest of days, I searched high and low, I went out seeking until I could find something that raised my vibration that day, no matter how small. And I have now done this every single day for 364 days.

As I prepare to post #365, I sit here in awe and wonder: in absolute amazement that I have actually managed to fulfill this commitment for an entire year, but moreover completely blown away by how beautifully and magically my life has changed since making that commitment and setting that intention. Make no mistake: Our thoughts DO have power, and if we are strong enough to catch the negative thoughts and change them instead to positive thoughts, absolute magic can happen in our lives. So while September 24th was once a special day, and then became a dark day, I now view it is a destiny day. It was the day that I decided to change my life. And the Universe responded. What will be your destiny day?

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grief (n.)= keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.

Grief is a funny thing. Our society teaches us to avoid it at all costs, and yet it is part of the natural cycle of life. We will all experience it in our lives, that is if we have a pulse. And we will all experience it in different ways, different times and in varying degrees. Some of us will suffer the horrific grief from the loss of a child, others will suffer the heart-breaking grief from the loss of a love or spouse, and still others will suffer profound grief from the loss of a pet. That is just to name a few losses which we may face over a lifetime.  It doesn’t matter what the source, but life pretty much guarantees it: the grief will come, and for a time it will be debilitating. And what is for certain is that there is no way to measure the level of one’s grief. Nobody can say “my grief is more intense than yours” or vice versa. There is no scale of 1-5 that allows for an objective measurement and comparison. For each person, grief is different, and it is their own. One can try to empathize with someone who is grieving, from having been through their own grief, but at the end of the day nobody else can truly put themselves in your shoes. Your grief is yours and yours alone.

Everyone has different ways of coping with their grief: some will turn to therapy and others will turn to prayer, and some to both. I fall somewhere in the middle: I turn inward to meditation. What is clear is that not all methods of coping with grief will work for all people, and it is important for each of us to find the path that works best for us. While I’ve always been hopeful about its effects, and despite various attempts, therapy has never made any meaningful impact on me. But meditation has. By going deep within, calming the inner turmoil and mind chatter, and through lots of practice, I have found ways that I can literally raise my consciousness above the turmoil, where I can look down at it from above, objectively. Of course meditation is not a magic bullet. It takes consistent practice and considerable commitment. And it too is not for everyone. But what I do know for sure is that nobody can say to you, “This is how you should be handling your grief.” Nobody has had the exact same experiences that you have had, and therefore nobody, no matter how empathetic or well-intentioned they may be, can truly know what is best for you. Nor do they have the right to tell you so. When it comes to deciding how best to handle your own grief, you are the only person who can make that decision.

There is no formula for how long it will or should take someone to get over grief. I’ve heard it said that to get over a love relationship, it should take you 1/2 of the time that you were together. According to whom?? Based on what??? That would falsely assume that all people are the same, and that everyone feels the same level of emotions, and that every relationship is the exact same level of love and intensity, which of course couldn’t be farther from the truth. We are dealing with human beings, not algebra! We are all unique. For some it could take weeks to grieve, for others years, and still for some it will become a lifelong struggle. I know that anyone who has lost a child will tell you that it is a loss you never get over; instead one has to learn how to live WITH it and incorporate it into a new reality, no matter how gut-wrenching. But I also know that you don’t have to have lost a child in order to feel that level of grief. There are other types of losses that can be just as intense for people. We’ve all heard of the phrase, “She died of a broken heart.” That phrase didn’t appear out of nowhere and it doesn’t just happen in the movies. Sadly, it can and does happen.

The most important element in the process of overcoming grief is simply time. But there is no way to predict the amount of time, and it is also the nature of grief that it can and will come in waves. One can be feeling fine for months or even years, and then suddenly out of the blue a reminder comes pounding in like a wave, and drags them into the undertow: it could be an Anniversary date, a song, a photograph, there are a million little things that could trigger a wave of grief to wash over you. And when that happens the best thing that the grieving person can do is try to “ride the wave”, knowing that it is a temporary storm in the sea of life and that this wave too will pass. The only way out is through.

How many of you have been told, “You need to get over it. It’s been too long.”? Every time I hear someone say that I want to spit, and I am reminded of how impatient and lacking empathy human beings can truly be. Of course people mean well when they say that, but by doing so they are belittling the loss that you have lived through and they are not respecting the grief process that YOU are living. The grief process is yours and yours alone. If anyone tries to tell you that, and it hurts or angers you, don’t fret. Step back and know that you are standing in your own process and be true to yourself: do what you need to do for yourself and do not be concerned with what anybody else thinks of you. At the end of the day you are your own best friend, and you know better than anyone what your own spirit needs.

I am often shocked by how few people want to deal with one’s grief, how afraid of it people tend to be. From writing in this community, I have met several other writers who are dealing with their own deep grief, and I’ve seen a reoccurring theme: they’ve all had friends and family who have pulled away from them, and in some cases permanently, because the friends or family were too uncomfortable and unequipped emotionally to deal with the other person’s grief. This is a sad statement; because of course when one is grieving that is when one needs their friends and family the most. But I have learned this same lesson in my own life, multiple times. Some people simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth, sensitivity, patience or level of empathy necessary to handle someone else’s grief. If everyone had that ability, then everyone would be a Priest, a Nun …or at the very least a grief counselor!

But most importantly it is a stark misconception to think that grief is bad and that we should in any way try to rush through it, push it aside or numb ourselves to it. Sadly so many people do this: they try to avoid the pain of a lost love by jumping into the next love; they push the devastating emotions down and try to pretend that they don’t exist, which sadly will often lead to the manifestation of disease; and others will try to drown out the pain with drugs and alcohol. None of these escape mechanisms will work. To quote Ovid,

“Suppressed grief suffocates, it rages within the breast, and is forced to multiply its strength.”

By trying to distract ourselves from grief, we are making a mistake. By trying to ignore the grief, we are not honoring the loss that we have experienced. We are also denying ourselves one of the most powerful opportunities for growth and learning that this earthly life affords us. Our darkest times are our most powerful teachers. The sage knows that to try to skip over such difficult times, is to deny himself of powerful learning and soul evolution. In the wise words of Marcel Proust,

“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”

There is no doubt that grief is painful, and in many cases, devastating and debilitating. I’m sure none of you will argue with that. It can change your life forever, and often against your will. That has certainly been the case in my life. And while it may get easier with time, it can still be something that we simply have to learn how to live with, as difficult as that may be. But even in that circumstance, if we can dig in deep and instead of running away and hiding from grief, if we can muster up the strength to walk through it and experience it, and allow ourselves to ride the wave, it has the power to transform us.

“Grief drives men into habits of serious reflection, sharpens the understanding, and softens the heart.”- John Adams

This post is dedicated to my friend Judy.

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Today I am faced with perhaps the most profound opportunity for growth that this life has yet afforded me. Today is the day that the man I have loved and trusted beyond all others, will marry another woman, the woman with whom he replaced me…instantly. Am I ok with this? This is an interesting question. I have been dreading this day for years, and while I was certain the answer to that question would have been a resounding “NO!”, I am pleasantly surprised and pleased to report that the actual answer is “I do not care.”

It is true that this man misled me, that he lied to me, and that he betrayed every promise he ever made to me. It is true that this man broke me, in the most profound sense of the word. And yet as I write this I am reminded that just the other day a dear friend of mine was telling me about a poem that she had written called “Broken Open,” a poem that described how we need to be broken open, so that we can more fully experience love and life. There is so much truth in that.

I am further reminded of the Tower card in Tarot. This is a card that on the surface is of utter destruction, of ruin, of falling down. The card itself depicts the collapse of a castle tower, falling into burning flames. And while this card is often feared and dreaded, it is actually a powerful card of transformation.  Although there are various interpretations, the central theme of what the Tower card actually represents is one’s life deconstructing itself, the falling away of that which doesn’t serve one. It represents the burning down to one’s core, and by that burning down to nothing but rubble, which equates to our true essence, that essence is then purified by the fire, allowing one to begin anew and rebuild one’s life, from a clean slate. And so I realize that my being broken by this man was part of a greater process, a process of removing the misaligned parts of my life. This was an experience, as painful and life-altering as it was, through which I needed to walk.

In 2008, while in the depths of my grief, I was in Sedona, Arizona, desperately seeking healing for this profound wound. I met with a healer there who said something to me that I will never forget. He told me that I had the cards of a “healer,” but that they were cards he seldom saw in someone of my young age, and rather were cards more typical of an 80-year old woman. He said to me, “Jeannie you have already lived through a lot in your life. This is for a reason. You are the wounded healer being healed. You are meant to walk through your own healing so that you may help others with theirs.” Chills came over me as he spoke those words, as nothing had ever rung so true for me. I knew I was on the path of the healer.

Now, three years later and after years of painstaking self-reflection, arduous emotional work and profound personal growth, my intuition and my higher guidance have guided me to become a writer, to share my stories from the heart in the hopes that they might help others. As I receive hundreds of emails and messages, from people of all ages, all over the world, telling me that my writing has brought them healing, I am humbled beyond any words. I am moved to my core knowing that I am on my destiny path, that I have been called to fulfill a higher purpose to help people.

And while what I went through with this man did break me to my core, while it ripped through me on a cellular level, I know that I can only owe him a debt of gratitude; for various reasons. If it were not for him, I would not have moved across the country to California, which is my true home; I would not have discovered Anusara yoga, which has changed my life; but the third reason why I owe him a debt of gratitude is the most meaningful: If his actions had not broken me to my core, I would not have lived through my “dark night of the soul,” I would not have had a powerful spiritual awakening and I would not be writing to you right now, from the seat of my destiny…

This post is dedicated to all of the beautiful souls who are suffering from broken hearts. May you embrace the pain, walk through it, and allow it to transform you.

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