How to Uncover Who You’re Here to be and the Work You’re Here to Do

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The Importance of Sunglasses (It’s Not What You Think)

change-markers-in-life

It might seem odd that I’m writing to you about sunglasses today, but there are things in this life that serve as markers which measure how much we’ve grown and changed and shifted as time passes.

Sunglasses, believe it or not, are one of those things for me.

I remember when I was still in school, hanging at the mall with my then best friend. We were waiting for my mom to pick us up outside the department store she always parked at. Standing in front of the mirror trying on a variety of frames and modeling them for each other, she suddenly spoke up with envy. “You can pull off any look you want,” she said as I swapped between the many styles.

And I could, because I was blessed and cursed with the gift of being a chameleon, able to blend with anyone or anything that surrounded me. It served my shy, introverted self well as I grew up, blending seamlessly into my surroundings and going completely unnoticed if I wanted.

When I was 21 I started dating a very extroverted and opinionated man who was also very “with it” when it came to fashion and trends. Suddenly the simple act of finding shade for my eyes became incredibly stressful. There was an opinion or comment on every pair and how it did or didn’t fit my face or style or personality. It took me months to find a pair “I liked,” which really meant a stylish pair he thought I looked good in. My gift of being a chameleon had begun to become a curse, because I could no longer connect with who I was or what I wanted. I simply blended, or depended on someone else to tell me what I should do.

Nine years later, driving through the vast emptiness that is the middle of Kansas, another boyfriend and I stopped for gas. We were literally at the only truck stop that existed between miles of nothing and fields of windmills. The sun was setting right in our eyes and I desperately needed some shades.

I walked in and over to the shopping area, spun the display mindlessly, and stopped it as the zebra pair flew to the front. “Ooooh,” I thought. “These are cute.” My zebra stripes became a signature style for me, as literally everyone stopped me to comment on them. “You always have the coolest sunglasses,” my sister expressed as I returned with a pair of pink camo shades on a family camping trip and shared an extra pair of zebra stripes with her. It made me laugh, thinking back to the time it would take me months to find a pair that “looked good.”

This isn’t really about sunglasses though. It’s not a story about how I become “cool” or “stylish” over the years.

This is a story about a marker that tells the tale of a girl losing herself, only to one day reclaim her identity, own her preferences, and find a kind of confidence in herself that makes a cheap pair of zebra striped sunglasses “cool.”

We all have these markers in our life.

It might be a date on the calendar where something significant or insignificant happened, and you’re reminded of where you began. It might be every time you drive through that one part of town and remember the person you once were. It might be a favorite shirt or shoes or that candle on your side table.

Whatever it is that symbolizes growth for you, it’s there to remind you how far you’ve come, how much you’ve grown, and what you’ve walked through.

These moments that we’re reminded, they come up so that we can honor who we were and where we’ve been… as well as celebrate who we’ve become and where we’re going. Comparison is a powerful tool when we use it with ourselves. When we can look back and say, “yep, that was me” with love and compassion. All while embracing the truth of who we are in this moment.

The nine years that passed between losing myself and reclaiming all that I am, those were some challenging years. They felt long and hard and confusing. It took me learning to fight like hell to reclaim the parts of myself I gave away, the aspects of my personality I tucked away. I’m still fighting this fight.

Which is why every time I see my well worn and loved zebra stripes, my heart swells with love for who I was, who I am, and who I continue to become.

I hope your markers prompt you to do the same.

Permission to Be Ungrateful

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Originally published November 21, 2011

As we begin to approach the holiday season, there are a lot of messages about gratitude, giving thanks and showing appreciation popping up all over the internet. I feel like there’s enough quality conversation happening on this topic already, so I want to talk about the perks of being “ungrateful”.

I want to preface this by saying gratitude is a practice that has absolutely transformed my life. From verbally expressing “thank you” to the Universe (yes, out loud), loving and appreciating those close to me, and learning how to live in the present moment so that I don’t take a single thing for granted… gratitude is a practice that has enriched my experiences, allowed me to feel joyful and taught me to truly appreciate what I have now.

But the practice of being “ungrateful” for certain things in my life? That my friends, has been the most enormous catalyst for positive change in my life. I would not be where I am today, sharing my heart with you, doing work that I absolutely love, if I had not allowed myself to be “ungrateful” in the past.

Why Being “Ungrateful” Rocks

Several years ago I ended a long term relationship with my high school sweetheart, months after leaving an incredible, well paying job. I distinctly remember an email sent to me by my ex boyfriend telling me that I was ungrateful. That I was “too busy complaining” about everyone and everything to appreciate what I had. I can completely understand his perspective of the situation.

When someone who seems to have everything, or even just something, it’s “not okay” to be unhappy.

At least you have a job.
At least he doesn’t hit you.
At least you’re not living in some third world country with no access to clean water.

YES, being grateful that you are able to have a problem like “just” hating your job, or being in a relationship that “just” doesn’t serve you, that’s a mindset shift that will single handily change your view of the world and your ability to appreciate what you have.

But it’s also completely possible to appreciate the fact that you have a job and still hate it. To still feel drained and miserable at the end of each day. To feel so out of place among your co-workers that going to work each day makes you physically nauseated.

It’s possible to appreciate that you’re with a really great guy, but still feel empty and alone within the relationship. To have no passion, no connection and nothing to talk about.

Recognizing that you’re not happy, that your relationship or job doesn’t serve you on some fundamental level, that’s often perceived as being “ungrateful” by those that can’t put themselves in your shoes.

To hell with it. Be “ungrateful”. Honor yourself and do what’s best for YOU.

Someone who can’t be proud of you for recognizing that something isn’t working for you in your life, and support you in making the necessary changes to feel joy, they’re probably the type of person who only has their best interest in mind anyways. So why care what they think?

Permission to Be “Ungrateful”

When you’ve mastered the art of appreciating what you have for what it is, but you’re still deeply discontent with the situation… you have permission to be “ungrateful.”

You have permission to dislike your job.
You have permission to leave it, despite the great pay or projects.
Despite the fact that your friends and family can’t believe you would.

You have permission to end your relationship.
You are not obligated to stay with a great guy who isn’t right for you. Despite the fact that you love each other, that he’s trying his best to make you happy or that everyone thinks you’re a perfect fit.

You have permission to want more out of life.
Despite having more than other people or having things they really wish they had.
You have permission to want more than “good enough.”
To dream on a grande scale and take the necessary steps to live a bigger and bolder life.

You have permission to honor your needs and desires.
No one else knows what your life is like. No one else can understand.
Stop expecting them to. Rid your life of toxic, unsupportive people. Honor yourself.

Being “ungrateful” means you’re AWAKE
to the reality of YOUR situation { Tweet it! }

Feeling discontent, miserable or “ungrateful,” despite knowing that you’re lucky or blessed… there’s nothing wrong with it! In fact, you should be thrilled that your inner guidance system, your intuition, knows that you’re not living the life you’re meant to live. This is good news.

It means that you’re awake enough to realize that something in your life isn’t serving you. Isn’t fulfilling or the right fit for you. And once you know this, once you recognize these feelings and honor your “ungratefulness,” you are instantly empowering yourself to make the necessary changes.

Never let someone else tell you that honoring your intuition and gut to leave a situation they deem to be “just fine” means you’re ungrateful. Be grateful that you at least have a job, that he’s at least not hitting you, and that you have access to clean water… but take action to make changes anyways. You deserve JOY, PASSION, LOVE and FULFILLMENT. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Take Action Now!

Consider the following and share your thoughts with me:

Where are you not being honest with yourself about what’s not working for fear of being “ungrateful?” What steps can you take this week to make the necessary changes in your life?

Do You See It as a Starting Place for Growth?

personality-type-room-for-growth

“Do they see it as an excuse?” he asked me as we talked. “Like, because they’re this personality type, you’re just supposed to accept that? Or do they see it as a starting place for their work?”

That last question is everything.
Essential. Important. Spot on.
And, often ignored.

People like to say it’s just the way they are.

They like to hide behind the colors and numbers and letters that define “who they are” and what their personality is. It’s just how they are. Just how they operate. Like a badge of honor, only focusing on the good aspects of “being this type of person.”

But there are always shadow sides to our personality types. There are patterns and fears and ways we operate that don’t feel good to ourselves or others. There are things we do to sabotage our dreams, potential, relationships, and health. Ways we avoid. Ways we hurt. Ways we turn defensive.

Like me… I tend to run. To hide. To close my heart.

When things get hard, this is my natural instinct, because of my personality type. I pull away, shut down energetically, put up a wall that keeps me “safe.” But instead of saying “it’s just the way I am,” I see it as a starting place for my work… and I’m doing it. I’m learning how to stay. In all the ways that staying requires. Because leaving only caused pain to myself and those around me. So I continue to learn the art of staying.

And, yes. Sometimes it is just the way we are. Sometimes there are aspects to our personality that are simply non-negotiable.

I will never stop being deep and complex.
I will never stop feeling all the feels.
I will never stop being purpose-driven.
I will never stop desiring more connection.
I will never stop being hyper aware of death, that life is short.
I will never stop caring and loving so deeply and fiercely.
I will never stop facing into the darkness, doing the hard work.

To some people, these things are viewed as “wrong” or “bad” or “too intense.” To some people, these things make me “not fun.” That’s okay. They’re not negotiable for me. They’re not pieces of my personality that I’m willing to give up or change. They are what make me who I am in positive, powerful ways. What drive me forward in the best of ways.

We get to decide what’s negotiable and what’s not.

But in order to do that consciously and productively, we have to be willing to face the parts of ourselves that aren’t so awesome. That aren’t so healthy or helpful. The parts that are hurtful and damaging. We all have them.

And when we find them, it isn’t about beating ourselves up or focusing on the negative… it’s about starting the work. Starting to shift and change and grow in ways that support our best qualities. That allow us to deepen our relationships, step into how we’re here to be, and do the work we’re here to do.

What’s your starting place?
What’s there for you to work on, right now?
Where are you willing to shine the light, even if it’s uncomfortable?
Where are you willing to choose growth and healing?

The Little Parts That Are Still “Broken”

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My memory is still nothing compared to what it was before loss. I have anxiety and panic attacks sometimes. I get claustrophobic in wide open rooms. Strategy games, which I used to love, frustrate the hell out of me. I still can’t pull up most people’s names on the first try, more often than not, no matter how well I know them. And I always struggle to remember what I did on Saturdays.

Grief and loss alter us.

They takes pieces of who we are.
They shift the ground beneath our feet.

And yet, if we let them, they give us this beautiful opportunity to crack wide open. To be raw and real and all things honest. To dive into the parts that hurt and hollow our hearts, all so that we can heal in ways we didn’t know we needed to. All so we can uncover the truth of who we’re here to be in this life, and so we can learn how important it is to step into that as fully as possible while we’re alive.

These little parts that are still “broken,” they remind me that there’s still more healing work to do. That I’m still mending in places that are easy to neglect and tuck away. That there are still spaces inside my soul I haven’t looked at deeply enough. Truths I haven’t been willing to face into. And some things… they’re just never the same as they were before, and that’s okay too.

But for those parts of my heart that still need a little tender love and nurturing… the parts that are still holding onto the trauma of this loss… they contain wisdom and insights that will only guide me further into truth and purpose and the kind of joy that lifts your life and work and relationships to unbelievable heights.

This is why I continually do “the work.”
Why I continually face into all that is hard and heartbreaking.
Why I write and cry and tell the truth to those who love me.

Healing isn’t always easy. Sometimes it hurts more than the thing that broke you in the first place. But it’s some of the most beautiful, amazing, life changing work we’ll ever do. It brings us home to ourselves in ways we can never reach otherwise.

The more I heal, the more deeply I feel called to walk this journey with others. Because I’ve seen both sides. The gut wrenching pain of loss and trauma and the healing work that follows… as well as the passion, clarity, energy, and zest for life that it brings. The way it roots us into ourselves so deeply that we become unshakable in the face of all life throws our way. We become resilient. We begin to understand trust and faith and surrender. We find our calling.

And, as always, my heart struggles to wrap itself around the kind of peace and gratitude and purpose that comes from the most awful kinds of loss. But I’m grateful. I’m grateful for all I’ve been through and all I’ve learned along the way… in a way that breaks my heart and still brings me to tears.

But… this is life.
The human experience.
The duality of existing and loving and losing.

And it’s oh so beautiful.

You Are Not Too Much

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People will tell you to be reasonable.
Or even the dreaded, “realistic.”
They will tell you it’s just how things are.
Or maybe, “just how they are.”
They will act as if your request is over the line.
You want too much. You think too much. You feel too much.
And the worst… you are too much.

You are not too much.
You do not desire too much.

Your dreams and visions and hopes for your life… for your work… for your relationships… they are not too much. No, they are just right.

And they are just right for a simple reason:
Because they come from you and the depths of your heart.

I don’t know why they do it. Shut others down because their desires or wishes or requests are outside their own capacity. Outside their own comfort level. Or, a reflection of their own unmet desires. Maybe because it would be such a stretch for them to even comprehend, let alone meet you inside of, that they would rather not believe it exists.

For so much of my life, I have fallen into the “too much” category.

To the boyfriends who simply couldn’t meet me inside my depth, inside my desire to create something truly aligned and rich and filled with meaningful connection. To the family who couldn’t understand why I felt so much, so often, that it was scary and overwhelming. To the colleagues and friends who couldn’t wrap their brain around my big vision for this work I’m here to do, because it doesn’t fit inside what they’ve seen.

I truly believe that we are gifted with the visions and desires we have, because we are the ones capable of bringing them to life. Because we are open to the wide breadth of possibility that this world offers. Because we know we deserve more, that settling isn’t something we have to do… especially not because the ones around us chose that for themselves.

Maybe there are some things we need to learn… some experiences we need to walk through first. Maybe it is so big and crazy and wild that there’s no map, no clear starting point. But that’s okay, because we hold the vision, and that is literally all we need to start. Even if that vision is somewhat vague, missing details and “hows,” it’s still enough.

So don’t you ever buy into the lies of those around you.
Don’t you ever settle because it feels easier.

Say it with me friend…

I do not want too much.
I do not think too much.
I do not feel too much.
I am not too much.

No, I am just right.

I am desirous, creative, innovative.
I see all that’s possible, whether it exists now or not.
I crave all that is real and true and deep.
I refuse to settle for less than I desire or deserve.
I will create what I want, by continuing to raise the bar.
By continuing to demand that those around me rise up with me.
By not believing that me and my desires are too much.

Rinse, repeat, and get back to work.

Before I started working with Stephenie I felt completely lost. I knew I was meant to do something greater but I just didn’t know which direction I should go. Not only did Stephenie help pinpoint my passions, but she also helped me get started on creating my business. I now know what my passions and purpose are in life and am excited to continue on this path. I have the clarity I so desired before I started this journey. I feel free because I have a deeper sense of self and purpose. I would completely recommend Stephenie for anyone who wants to feel a sense of freedom, purpose, and the desire to live your best life. Adlin Cedeno | READ MORE

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