It’s not about age, it’s about the journey here in the jungles of time and space.
Nothing makes me cringe more than to hear a woman comment about how old she’s getting. Or when a woman older than me offers warnings that start with, “Wait until you’re my age … you’ll see” or bullshit like, “After (insert age) everything changes”. Yeah, whatever. I refuse to be dragged down into the sadness and despair of increased age and all the depressing side effects. I refuse to utter the words … “I’m getting old” or “This is what happens as you get older”. Sure things change. No shit! Its part of this thing called life. And I choose to honor and accept all of it. So I’ve decided to declare myself an elder around the age of 87. Until then I will continue to think myself young and accept what I can accept and release the need to fight the process.
In retrospect, my teens were a shitstorm of peer pressure, the need to fit in, a boyfriend and the desire for name-brand clothing. My twenties brought marriage, development and growth as a couple, the purchase of our house, lots of parties and the birth of my first child. My thirties included stability and the birth of my second child. My forties were mostly about an awakening to my truth and the start down a path of personal development. It was a time of healing, as it continues to be today. A time of shift and the realization of my natural gifts and talents and my desire to be of service to others to guide them toward their own truth. When I look back, I do so free of regret. Decisions I made in the past were made with the knowledge and understanding I had at the time. Would I have done differently? No. I don’t think so. (Well, maybe yes for some) My life is unfolding exactly the way it’s supposed to and the lessons I came here to learn are clear and evident to me now.
The biggest lesson I’ve been handed over and over is one of self in regards to respect, love and acceptance. I’ve mastered some, which is great because I know the Universe won’t bring me another test. I passed. Next one please! Will I have it all figured out by the time I take my last breath? I have no idea. I guess that’s not a goal, but continued healing is.
Here I sit, 2 days into my 50th trip around the sun, super excited about all the opportunities and possibilities that lie before me. I mean, if all goes as planned, I have another 40 plus years on this planet. That’s pretty damn exciting to think about. I have so much to do with the remainder of time I have here and I’m just getting started! I have programs to create and offer, clients to meet, groups to work with, audiences to motivate, stages waiting for me to walk out on to, a book to write, people to motivate and inspire and weekend-long workshops to host. This decade heralds in a time of purpose and passion for me to fulfill my mission. How could I not be excited about that? You may be thinking that it’s time for me to start winding down over the next decade, to start thinking about retirement. Oh no, not me. The second half of my life is full of promise and hope, purpose and healing as well as the practice of full self-expression.
For far too long I have cared about the opinions of others. I’ve held back on expressing myself in fear of not fitting in, not being liked, judgement or shame. Instead of living MY life, I’ve been living a life for others. That is bullshit. And so what the 50’s brings for me is a time of not giving a flying fuck what other people think of me. I don’t care that you don’t like some aspect of me. I don’t care that my light blinds you. I will no longer dull it so that you’ll feel better about yourself. I don’t care if you think I practice witchcraft or worship this thing you call the devil because I use tarot cards. I don’t care that you’ve taken me off your Facebook feed. I don’t care that you gossip about me. (You probably gossip about everyone) I don’t care what you think of my physical appearance. I don't care if you don't like my new ink. I don’t care. Talk all you want. Gossip all you want. This is MY LIFE! So I choose to release the need for approval from others and choose to walk through today and all future days in full expression of Who I Am. This to me is the most exciting aspect of maturity … the fuck you … I don’t care if you want to judge me. That’s your issue, not mine. Of course I do my best to come from a place of love, compassion, understanding and forgiveness towards others as this makes the release easier to practice.
So yeah, this maturing second half of life certainly has its perks, and I embrace them. It’s time, now that my children are more self-sufficient, to focus my energies back on me. I am truly excited about being in my 50’s and all the golden opportunities to advance my personal and professional development that lie before me. This decade is going to be epic!
The story of my life. As told by me.
Ha! Ya, well I’m sick and fucking tired of telling the story of my life. It makes me sick to my stomach when I think about all the times I’ve spewed the bullshit from the years of conditioning. I’m tired of hearing myself talk about it! I’m tired of using it as an excuse. I’m tired of identifying myself through my story. I need and want to come up with a new story. I want to write a new story that is my life! The one I’ve been carrying around all these years, in no way serves my highest good and greatest joy. It’s been a way to garner attention. A way for others to make me feel better about myself because I keep spewing the same shit! As of today I am no longer going to speak of my story. It served a purpose. Now it’s crap. It’s time to let it go.
I often watch the show Chopped with my husband. Though I hate cooking, I do enjoy watching others cook. Over time I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with the stories from the competing chefs. I began to notice myself questioning why these people continued to identify with and continued to live their life through their story of struggle. I would yell at the television something like … “Let your frigin’ story go!” It then dawned on me that the producers of the show needed each chef to have a story so that viewers like me, sitting on their sofa at home watching, could then identify with the chef’s story because we each have a fucking story to tell!! It wasn’t until today during my mediation, that I came to an awareness of the story I’ve been telling. One of struggle with weight and body image. Show of hands now! How many of you reading this can identify with and relate to a story of struggle with weight and body image????
Today is the first day of spring, 2017. This is my season. If asked, I would say summer is my favorite season but spring …. Well spring brings rebirth and growth. I was born in the spring and when I look back over my life, I realize I’ve used this season of spring to start anew, different aspects of my personal growth. Hell, a year ago I made the decision to leave my job of 25 years. That’s a huge anew! I guess what I’m saying here is that I don’t need New Years to write out some stupid resolutions that will never be met. And I often cringe when I hear someone talk about a goal and say something like …. “Oh, I’ll start on Monday” or “I’ll stop after this happens”. What the fuck?? Why are you waiting? There’s nothing like the present moment, right? Start now! Stop now! Yes, easier said than done and I too am guilty of this to a degree. The difference is, I tell myself often that change needs to happen. I don’t set a date, but I avoid. I’ve been avoiding. Fear is the cause of my avoidance. My soul, my inner voice, my higher self, has been whispering, nagging and nudging and I can no longer afford to ignore it. I know deep down that the time draws near, this time of rebirth and growth. The time to leave my fucking story behind and to start writing a new one. As the trees begin to bloom and growth occurs, I choose to begin to allow the newest version of myself to blossom and grow. A version of myself who will no longer spew out the same bullshit she’s been spewing for years. But how?
Awareness if the word that comes to mind. Awareness of each time I reflect back on past events, choices and decisions. Awareness of my fears.
Awareness of every fucking time I start to tell my old story. “This is what has happened my whole life! Please feel sorry for me!!”
Awareness of my strengths and the belief that what I look like physically is in no way a reflection of my value and worth. In no way is it a reflection of what I have to offer my loved ones, friends, clients, groups and the world as a whole. This particular awareness is truth, settling in nicely and feeling real good. Yet I’m not happy with certain aspects of myself. I’m not content with the physical me I currently present with. Learning to love myself has been an ongoing process and I often speak of acceptance. Well, I do love myself. I am learning acceptance. Yet with acceptance can come passivity. I want to choose acceptance and action toward physical improvement. Hahahahahaha … exactly what I’ve been avoiding!!! So what’s the fear?
Vulnerability. I hate feeling vulnerable. The choices I’ve been making help me to feel safe. But safe from what? Maybe from the work I need to do to get myself where I want to be. Safe from starvation? Geeze, where the hell did that come from? What are my fears? Well, I don’t enjoy cooking or spending time in the kitchen unless I’m helping David cook or I’m cleaning up after him as he cooks. The thought of having to be responsible again for healthy food prep and cooking makes my stomach turn. I don’t want to take the time to do what needs to be done. The fear of emerging victorious. Not in a physical sense, but a professional development sense. I have work to do. And I’ve been avoiding it. Why? Because deep down I don’t believe I’m good enough. At some level I don’t belief I can make a difference. Ah, look at that! Spewing my old story again!
It’s time. It’s time to work through these limiting beliefs. It’s time to leave them behind. It’s time to start adopting and embracing a new set of beliefs. Ones that support and uplift. Ones that propel me forward to create and live the best possible version of myself.
It’s time. It’s time to start writing a new story of the rest of my life. It’s time to start telling a new story. It’s time to start believing in myself again. It’s time to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It’s time to start making better decisions.
It’s time to stop identifying with and relating to the old worn of version of the story of my life. It’s time to stop telling this story. It’s time to stop avoiding.
This writing is raw and jagged. It’s a journal entry in Word to be shared as a blog entry and in a newsletter. I put my fingers to the keys and began to type whatever popped into my head. I did not go back through, reread or correct. Instead I chose to be vulnerable and express freely what has been swirling around in my thoughts. I am grateful to Spirit, to Archangel Michael who watches over me as I write, to friends who say the right thing for me to hear at the right time, and for the space I give myself to be me.
Now ask yourself the following questions.
What story am I telling?
How is my story serving me?
How is my story holding me back?
Is it time to start writing a new story?
It's been almost four months since leaving my long-time job in Cambridge MA. On top of that it's been a month since receiving my last paycheck from them. And you know what? I'm still here! I'm still thriving! My house, car, possessions are all still here. I continue to buy groceries, pay the bills and shop for whatever I need or want. I no longer drive over 60 miles a day and instead of filling my gas tank every 5-6 days, I'm filling it every 14 days. My commute to and from my current per-diem job is less than 15 minutes, door to door. I have ample opportunity to be at home taking care of my family and to continue to grow and create a purpose-filled and passion-filled career to take me through the second half of my life.
So I have to ask myself .... why the hell was I so fearful about making the decision to leave the comfort of my job in Cambridge? Because it was unknown! The idea was so far outside my comfort zone, yet I thought about it daily. Every. Day. I was fearful because I spent more than half of my life within the walls of that institution. I grew up there. It was familiar. It brought me comfort. In fact, I would sometimes say that the only way I was going to leave the place was to be fired, yet I could never see that happening.
It holds us back from living the very best life possible. Fear of failure, ridicule, judgement, poverty, loss, the unknown, ending or beginning a relationship, not being good enough and a host of others. Think for a moment about the things you want to do in your life. What's holding you back? It's most likely some form of fear. My biggest fear was how could I survive financially. Let's face it, money, and the need for it, holds many of us back. Right? Since beginning this new chapter I don't spend money like I used to. I'm a bit on the frugal side now and I'm good with that because the freedom that has evolved is far greater than the money I was earning. Ahhhhh ... freedom. I've talked with countless people in my life who are so unhappy in their current job (and other aspects of their life) but find it nearly impossible to make the jump because of that paycheck. But, what if they could experience the freedom and the happiness? How would that weigh up on the scales? Freedom vs. Fear. Life is far too short to remain captive and unhappy. There's a big old world out there waiting to offer you joy and freedom in every way you desire. In every way you create and manifest it!
Take a moment and ask yourself what you really want. Be honest with yourself. (be the observer) Then ask yourself (without judgement or criticism) what fear is holding you back? Once you acknowledge and recognize the fear, imagine what your life would look like, feel like, be like if you made the jump. What kind of life do you see? One with increased freedom, joy and creativity? Oh yeah. See it, feel it, hear it, smell it!
You got this.
You can do this.
Believe in yourself.
Trust the process because you deserve the very best that life has to offer.
When I walked through the doors of the Cambridge Hospital back on October 2, 1990 I never thought for a moment that I would spend almost 26 years of my life within those walls. I was 23 years old, freshly married of two years and didn't have any children at the time. I was hired into a 3-11 shift and after a couple of years I transitioned to days, working 7-3, the shift I kept for over two decades.
The commute into the city was easy breezy given the fact I lived 15 minutes away. But after my first son was born, we bought a home up in southern New Hampshire which increased my commute to over a half hour, on a good day. I did what I had to do, not thinking much of it at the time. Up until a few years ago I dealt with it just fine. That's when the stress of it all started to set in as every afternoon's commute got longer and longer and I found myself increasingly frustrated. When the decision was made to leave my job at the hospital, my afternoon commute was up to an hour and fifteen minutes. I'd sit in my car, stopped in a parking lot of traffic on route 93 north asking myself how I had done this for so long.
This past February my family and I took a wonderful cruise vacation to the Caribbean. The night before I was to return to work, my husband asked me what my biggest challenge was going to be the next morning. My answer was going back to a job I was no longer passionate about and dealing with an awful commute again. I got to work the next morning and logged into the network. Upon opening my email I saw one from the CEO. The Cambridge Health Alliance was scheduling a reduction in force and offering packages for folks who qualified and wanted to leave. Immediately the gears in my head started turning and I thought, could this be my golden opportunity?
Yes, it was. And I grabbed that opportunity with both hands and set the intention to make it happen.
I grew up at the Cambridge Hospital. This is where I matured and discovered so much about life. At one point I was the same age as the new incoming interns. Around the time I left I would look at the newbies and think my God, they look like they're fresh out of high school! I knew I had been there far too long.
I went through a period of being embarrassed to tell anyone that I had worked at the same place for so long. It was the fear of judgement and I would criticize myself for not making more of my life or for not getting some kind of degree like other people did. Until one fated conversation with a long time co-worker who helped me see my tenure from a different perspective. I made a list. A list of everything the Cambridge Hospital has offered me over the years. This is what I came up with, what I'm grateful for.
Working in Cambridge all these years was what I was supposed to be doing. It was part of my life path and I accept it. As I reflect I see the present moment as part of a transition that began a few years ago, around the time I enrolled in iPEC for my coaching certification. It was back then I started to feel the pull to do something more with my life, a pull to be of service to others using my natural gifts and talents that I was just starting to discover and acknowledge.
This part of the transition is exciting and it's terrifying and it's only been a week since I left! This process of officially "retiring" from the city of Cambridge took four months and was filled with countless conversations with my husband (my biggest supporter), a multitude of decision making (besides the decision to leave), questions, doubt, fear, more questions, but it's all worked out for my highest good and my greatest joy. I offer gratitude not only to my husband for being here with me every step of the way, but to the Cambridge Hospital as well, for all that it has offered me over the years.
I miss the folks I worked with and all the conversations, laughter and tears we shared together. They are forever etched in my memory with fondness and appreciation. However, I don't and never will miss the commute. I send loving, patient energy out to all who continue to travel up and down the stretch of Interstate 93 that runs from the New Hampshire border down to the city of Boston. May some of you receive the opportunity to do something different in life that will free you from that commute!
Now I set out, onward, upward and forward into this new adventure called the rest of my life!
I remember it well. I was sitting on a bike before spin class, hands clasped, stretching my arms out behind me when the instructor, who was new to me, walked by and lifted my arms up higher than I ever had. As she did she made a comment … “You should come check out a yoga class.” Well, little to my knowledge, not only was she a spin instructor, she was the gym’s resident yoga teacher. So after a brief discussion, I set the intention to attend my first-ever yoga class on Sunday morning …Vinyasa Power Flow.
In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best decision for a first date. That class was hard! And man was I sweating. In fact, I think I was the only one in the class who was sweating! I came back, week after week because yoga is supposed to be good for you, right? Hell, I got a good workout, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t what I thought yoga was supposed to be. The music was loud and there was talking. I remember thinking … aren’t we supposed to be quiet during a yoga class? Aren’t we supposed to be focusing on our breath and stuff? I was focused on my breath alright! I was huffing and puffing! I’m not saying there wasn’t any breath awareness, I’m just saying I knew little of yoga at the time but there I was in a fast moving flow class and seriously, how many sun salutations can one be expected to do!?
Months later, having yoga conversations with a friend of mine from work, I found myself invited to attend a Bikram Yoga classes. So I did! That’s when a whole new world opened up for me. I loved the heat, the flow of the postures, the instructors and I loved the dialogue. Oh, and did I say I loved the heat? There I found an increased focus on my breath and the ability to control it when my heart was pounding out of my chest. It was exhausting and energizing at the same time! I practiced Bikram for about 8 months and really liked it when once again I found myself on a spin bike at the gym.
In walks the instructor … one I had been taking classes with for over a year. She came right up to me and asked … “Would you be interested in getting certified in yoga?”
Wait! Me? Seriously, me? I can’t do that! I’m too fat! I’m not in good shape! Who would take me seriously? No. No way.
Immediately the I’m Not Good Enough monster jumped in and made the decision for me.
Postures Shauna! It’s all about the postures and you can’t get into many of them with full expression of the pose like other skinnier, healthier instructors can do! You can barely hold a low plank! And let’s remember how you’re challenged with stepping a foot forward between your hands from down dog! You’ll fail, so why even try.
Yoga meant strength, balance and postures. It meant getting into tree pose with my foot up on the opposite thigh, and holding it there. It meant a thin body that looked damn good in leggings! It meant impressing others when I could finally hold crow for longer than a split second. Yoga meant keeping up with others. It meant being as good as them. Most of all, it meant postures and I wasn’t good enough in them.
These were the thoughts that raced through my head in a matter of seconds. Then my rational side kicked in and I thought … why not me? The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I could do this. I think. What if I could bring a slower yoga pace, breath awareness, my coaching skills and meditation together to create a more holistic wellness class? The women who attend gym classes come to work their physical bodies, but how many of them take the time to quiet themselves, to concentrate on their breath or go inside to listen to their intuition or to reconnect to their spirit, their higher self? I was betting on not many when I submitted an application for a yoga teacher training program.
One of the most challenging things I learned during my training was to slow it down, learn modifications and to teach a gentle / beginners approach to yoga. There are so many different types of yoga for people to choose from and I knew I didn’t want to teach a high-intensity power flow, nor did I want to have to take out a small loan to pay for Bikram Yoga training. I can kind of relate it to the story of Goldilocks. My training wasn’t too physical, nor was it too expensive. It was just right. It was just what I needed to give me the knowledge, skills and understanding to teach gentle, beginners and intermediate yoga classes. Classes which include breath awareness, meditation, asanas deep relaxation, mantras and affirmations. Classes that would welcome any body shape or size, any level of strength, balance or flexibility.
You see, the media paints a picture of what yoga is. Take a look at the cover of any yoga magazine, or the posts of most yoga social media pages, or even Youtube videos for that matter. You’ll most likely see a lean, fit and strong yogi or yogini holding some amazing pose that defies gravity! I think it’s wonderful and I’m always impressed by the strength and agility. But what about the women who aren’t so fit? The ones who would love to try a yoga class but are too intimidated by what is being shown to them? If you do a search, you’ll find women like Dana Falsetti and Dianne Bondy. Two plus-size women who are breaking the mold of what yoga looks like. I began to think that perhaps that’s what I could do. Maybe if I could get out of my own way and release the belief that I’m not good enough, then perhaps I could step deeper into my own truth and the truth about yoga, giving me the power (red cape super-hero power) to join the ranks of Dana and Dianne in breaking the yoga mold!
Back seven years ago when I committed to a path of personal development and self-improvement through the practice of healing my life, I never imagined for a moment where this path would lead. I certainly didn’t think it would lead to yoga. During my teacher training I had many “Ah-ha” moments as I discovered more about myself. Which was pretty frigin’ cool! As messy and scary and uncomfortable as it can be, I do love peeling back the layers of onion that are Shauna. Because what I received from the work was an increase in acceptance of myself, what I look like, what I can do and what I can offer. And you know what? I am good enough.
I am good enough.
And I am making a difference.
And I greatly appreciate a spin bike!
So here I am, giving myself a new makeover. Transferring my domain, creating a new website. This is all so exciting!!
It's interesting looking at my current site and how I presented myself and my message. Though that part of me is still inside of me, things have shifted and I'm ready ... I think .. well maybe somewhat ready to brand and market myself in a new way. I guess I could say I'm at the start of yet another life journey to recognize who I am exactly and to show that to the world!
Now ... if I can just figure out how to give readers the option to subscribe to this blog.