What if age was just a feeling?

If you’ve been reading my emails lately, you know that I recently turned 50. But what you did’t know is that I really didn’t want to.

I resisted.

I dreaded the idea of it.

I reluctantly struggled to find a way to celebrate something I wished wasn’t happening. Should I have a party? Should I go away for the weekend? Oh, what should I do????

And I longed for the days when I was, well, younger.

Having a four year old made it very easy for me to hide behind my age.

So whenever the subject of age came up amongst my Mom friends, I would cringe. I would feel awkward. What if people found out how old I really am? What then?

But as the days drew closer, I decided this hiding behind a number thing had to stop.

The fact was, I was about to turn 50 years old.

Wow.

That was something to celebrate. That was not something to avoid, hide, belittle or resist.

Afterall, practicing gratitude has taught me to appreciate everything so how could I not appreciate the past 50 years of my life?

I decided to embrace 50 and guess what happened? 

Acceptance suddenly set me free.

I decided to throw a really fun party for me and my girlfriends. We ate organic food, chatted up a storm and made necklaces together. And I was the birthday girl! I felt like I was 12 again.

So, what if age really IS just a number?

And what if YOU could decide what that number means to you?

What if …

50 = FREE

43 = SEXY

31 = LOVABLE

24 = COURAGEOUS

75 = FUN

38 = EMPOWERED 

62 = ADVENTUROUS

94 = WILD

You get the idea.

It’s so not about the number, but rather, the FEELING you want to have, right now, in this moment, despite the calendar.

But don’t let me decide. Give it a try.

Remember, age is just a feeling – and you get to CHOOSE whatever feeling you want.  Tweet This!

How do you want to FEEL today?

Please share in the comments below!

How I Overcame Depression

Last week I wrote 50 Things I am grateful for on my 50th birthday.

After posting that list, I received a request from one of my favorite fans, I’ll call her “F” from Dubai. She wrote, “I would love if you would talk more about your journey with overcoming depression. That would be so inspiring to many people.”

Here ya go, F…

Depression is different for everyone. For some, it is intense and debilitating. For others it can be more subtle, hitting us only hard enough to let us know it’s there, but not so hard that we can’t hide it from bosses, coworkers, family, friends, and even our spouse.

Depression robs us from today. It keeps us stuck, feeling sad about the past while anxiously fearing the future.

But like any illness or imbalance, depression is just another way our spirit calls us home. 

Depression is a call for healing.

Depression is often triggered by loss or disappointment.

Depression asks us to go deeper. To feel something we’ve been avoiding.

It’s important to distinguish between grief and depression. Grief is an intense emotion brought on by loss. Whenever we lose someone or something that was dear to our heart — a person, pet, job, relationship, business, home or even a dream — a necessary grieving period takes place.

In my mid twenties, my boyfriend of four years broke up with me, on the phone. My pain turned into anger, then fear and eventually depression. Had I been more resilient, I would have grieved the loss and moved on. But I wasn’t.

In my family there was a lot more criticizing and belittling than there was encouragement and support. Whenever I would do something “wrong,” like accidentally spill a glass of milk, I was yelled at, spanked or sent to my room (or all three). In eighth grade, while on vacation at a resort, I happened to say something the wrong way to my older brother at the pool and he publicly humiliated me by dunking me under the water over and over again until I was in tears, gasping for air only to be dunked under the water again. My parents told me to stop bothering him. The punishment always seemed way worse than the crime. And that’s what I learned.

I learned that when things went wrong, it was MY fault.

When things went wrong, it was because there was something wrong with ME and I should be punished.

So when things did go wrong in my life, e.g. a breakup, it was all my fault. I screwed up my life. My parents reinforced this thinking by saying, “I told you so. He was never going to marry you. You never should have let the relationship drag out as long as you did.” And the implied, “You’ll now suffer.”

So when you’re 26 and you feel as though you screwed up your life forever, it’s easy to feel like you can’t go on. There WAS in fact something wrong with me, I was UNLOVABLE.

I tried therapy, but the problem with therapy is that it only helps you reflect on everything that went wrong. It didn’t offer me any tools for moving forward.

In order to move forward, I needed to MOVE, I thought. So I did. I moved 3,000 miles away from New York to San Fransisco where a number of my college friends were living. This was the change I needed in order to escape my problems and get away from my parents and all that, “I told you so,” crap.

While my social life instantly improved, a year later I found myself unhappy in my career. The job scene I faced in San Francisco was not the same as in New York and I got scared that I had screwed up my life even more by screwing up my career. Once again, it was all my fault. So when a former boss called to offer me a job in New York as Assistant Art Director at a major children’s publisher, I jumped at the chance and moved back home.

Again, I ran from my problems. I wanted to be somewhere I felt worthy. 

But over time, I got burnt out. All that unworthiness I felt got translated into a desire to work harder and harder. I put in extra hours, neglected my health, and filled the emptiness inside with more work. I even freelanced on the side for a friend and when he offered me a job in San Francisco I jumped ship again.

Each time I moved, I was so excited for change I didn’t feel depressed. I had so much to explore and do. But over time, depression always caught up with me, wherever I was.

For years I played this same ridiculous game:

  1. Make new start
  2. Prove myself worthy by overworking
  3. Burn out/Feel depressed
  4. Jump ship
  5. Repeat

It never occurred to me that I was avoiding my own pain of feeling unworthy.

It wasn’t until years later, I found myself happily married, but unhappy with myself. I was struggling to become a Mom and nothing I tried was working, including adoption. It felt like it was all my fault.

After five years of this insanity, I finally realized that I needed to do something different. I was so unhappy, yet instinctively I knew that having a baby would not take away all my pain. I needed to figure out a way to be happy first. I needed to be happy for myself before I could ever be the mother I wanted to be.

And that’s when I discovered gratitude.

Here is what practicing gratitude did for me and my struggle with depression:

  1. Gratitude allowed me to focus on what was going right in my life, instead of what had gone wrong. This helped me build resilience because over time I no longer felt like I had screwed up my life.
  2. Gratitude allowed me to practice what I call todayfullness. It got me out of my head and my thoughts about the past, and into my heart and my dreams about the future, all while appreciating the joy of TODAY.
  3. Gratitude taught me to appreciate myself. This was the first step in healing my pain of unworthiness. I am still working on this now, and it takes a lot of my energy. My unworthiness can still get misdirected into anger or fear but being aware of these tendencies makes it easier to self correct.
  4. Gratitude allowed me to lift my mood on a daily basis. Practicing gratitude is scientifically proven to boost serotonin and dopamine, natural mood enhancers. Starting your day with gratitude is like taking a vitamin – Vitamin G!
  5. Gratitude allowed me to prioritize my health over my workload. This one has actually taken me a long time to master and only recently have I truly embraced my self worth as being separate from my ability to be productive with my career. Letting go of the need to prove myself in my career has freed up the time and energy I need to take better care of myself. I give myself more time to rest, to go for walks in nature, to meditate, to cook for myself and my family and to be present with my husband and our four year old son.
  6. Gratitude allowed me to connect with my true being. Whether you are a spiritual person or not, practicing gratitude helps you get in touch with your true spirit. Over time, your gratitude journal becomes a blueprint for joy, showing you exactly what matters most to you so you can prioritize those things while letting go of others.

And that is how I overcame depression.

Depression is not simple. I do not believe it is a disease of the brain. Depression is a symptom of an imbalance in one’s life. Gratitude helps correct those imbalances whatever they may be. It could be physical, it could be emotional.

Gratitude points you in the direction of what FEELS good.

And by doing more of what feels good, we are able to rebalance and re-nourish our system.

I hope my story is helpful. Please share below your own experience, successes and struggles. I can’t wait to hear from you!

With love,

50 Things

 

Today is my 50th birthday. To celebrate, I give you 50 things I am grateful for in no particular order:

  1. That I get to wake up next to my two favorite people: my husband by my side, and my son who crawls into bed with us every morning – he is the best alarm clock ever.
  2. When my son says, “Mommy, I wuv you.”
  3. An entire year of healing and letting go of things that no longer serve me.
  4. That I get to inspire people to practice gratitude through my workshops, app and books.
  5. My friends. Friends are gold to me. I’ve been so blessed to have many close relationships in my life.
  6. The opportunity to live in these fun places for extended periods of time: London, San Francisco, Sausalito and New York City.
  7. Mocha chip ice cream.
  8. Snugging on the couch with my four year old.
  9. Sleep, beautiful sleep. It wasn’t always possible but sleep is my friend again.
  10. Living on the north shore of Long Island near the water.
  11. The beautiful seasons.
  12. Meditation.
  13. My amazing body.
  14. Cooking healthy, delicious food for my family.
  15. My parents. They have both passed but I keep them in my heart every day.
  16. My struggles. Without them, I never would have discovered the gift of practicing gratitude.
  17. Fall festivals.
  18. Tree lightings. I love going to Christmas tree lightings.
  19. Dark chocolate. I know it’s cliche but dark chocolate has become so sacred to me that I include it in my spiritual ritual each week where I cleanse each chakra, letting go of what I no longer need in my life, then bringing in love and light. The chocolate helps me taste the beauty of life as I breathe it in. Ok so that may be a little weird but now that I’m 50 I don’t really care if you think I’m weird. 😉
  20. My husband for sharing nighttime responsibilities of cleaning up and putting my son to bed every night.
  21. My husband for being such a fun Dad.
  22. My beautiful home.
  23. The view of trees outside my window when I wake up each morning.
  24. That we get to go to Colorado to visit my husband’s family every Christmas and ski and snowboard and enjoy mountain life.
  25. Yoga. It’s my feel-good activity.
  26. Writing. I never knew how much I would love being a writer.
  27. The mess of toys in my kitchen. Each one reminds me how much I love my son.
  28. My waterfall in my back yard. Pure zen.
  29. My trip to Costa Rica in 2011 which helped launch my gratitude career.
  30. The ocean. Being near the ocean revives me mentally, physically and emotionally.
  31. Doing art projects with my son. I love getting messy with him and having fun.
  32. Baking cookies and banana bread with my son. He loves to bake as much as me.
  33. All my mentors, teachers and coaches. Support is all around me.
  34. My sister. The day she was born was one of the best days of my life. We grew up together and now we are adulting together. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride but we always manage to be there for each other. I love her so much.
  35. Our family mantra: “Be kind, be helpful, be happy.”
  36. My nieces and nephews. Children are the world.
  37. Peace and quiet. Appreciating the silence whenever I can helps me stay calm and centered.
  38. Interactions with strangers. I have found that when I am relaxed and I take the time to notice people and really connect to them, my day is so much more fun.
  39. Super clear goals. My gratitude practice has helped me get so very clear on what makes me happy, which has empowered me to get rid of the things that don’t.
  40. Financial freedom. Growing up my family struggled financially. There was even a time when we qualified for free lunch in school. I remember being so embarrassed that I pretended to give the lunch ladies my money even though I didn’t have any. Money needs to be appreciated. If you fear you will run out, you’ll never enjoy it and you’ll never have enough.
  41. My bath tub. I’m going to treat myself to a birthday salt and lavender bath once I’m done writing this list!
  42. Long walks in nature. Science is now proving why this feels so good. Did you know trees emit essential oils into the air? According to a study conducted by Japan’s Chiba University, “Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.”
  43. Date nights with my husband.
  44. My health. It’s everything to me and I work hard to preserve it as best I can and to teach others what I’ve learned along the way.
  45. Music. I love how music makes me feel. One of my goals is to learn how to play an instrument this year. I’m thinking the ukelele.
  46. Overcoming depression. Depression runs in my family. It hit me hard in my twenties and thirties. Through food, lots and lots of self work, and mindfulness, I was able to overcome my challenges without medication. For this I am so grateful.
  47. That I get to be a Mom to the most amazing kid ever. I am so over the moon in love with my son every single day.
  48. My freedom. Each day I get to make choices to benefit myself and others. Never has there been so much opportunity to be creative and productive. I may be 50 but I feel like there is a whole new life ahead of me to love and be loved by.
  49. Surviving the birth of my son. I lost so much blood I almost died but we both pulled through and are healthy!
  50. You. Thanks for sticking around!

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading my list. It isn’t everything I’m grateful for, just what I am grateful for now, in this moment.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Vitamin G Your Food

What’s one of the healthiest things you can do to improve your diet?

Add some Vitamin G.

Seriously, have you ever considered how much is entailed in getting food onto your plate?

From the farmer to the truck driver to the store or restaurant owner, to the chef who cooked it, a LOT goes into filling your tummy with fuel to go about your day.

And whether it’s organic or it came out of can, food that is appreciated provides the best nutrients. Tweet this!

Food nourishes body and soul.

Food brings people together.

Food is one of the ways we take care of others.

Food is one of the ways we take care of ourselves.

My 4 year old and I love to sprinkle Vitamin G over everything we cook together. Then we eat it, together.

Give it a try and most of all, enjoy what you eat.

To yumminess!

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Is something missing?

After years of doing the Oprah Show, Oprah Winfrey began talking to her audience after the show to get a better sense of what women needed.

What she heard over and over was how much women were craving something more from their lives. Despite having an education, a career, and a family, most women felt as if something was missing. 

Can you relate?

Do you find yourself craving something more and not knowing exactly what that something more might be?

Being a spiritual person, Oprah said she knew instinctively that “something more” was a connection to something that’s bigger than yourself.

One of the things I love most about the power of daily gratitude, is how it helps you FEEL connected to that something bigger. It helps you stay connected to what already is. To what you already have. To the life force that gives and gives and keeps on giving.

Whether it’s the dream job, car, vacation, relationship, house, or even a baby, it’s important to remember that those things will not fulfill that need for “something more” in the way that true appreciation does.

So on your journey to achieving all that you desire (and I’m not saying you should give up on your dreams, never ever!), be sure to include an attitude of gratitude.

Make today count.

Smell the flowers.

Look people in the eye and smile.

Walk in the woods.

Talk to the trees.

Search for butterflies.

Money and “things” don’t buy happiness. Appreciation does.  Tweet this! 

Learn the art of appreciation now and that dream house and love relationship will seem all that more delicious once they happen for you.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!