Blog 1 Febuary 2018

Hello there! You found me, and I am so excited about that, but I have to be honest, it has been a pretty long time since I blogged.  The last time I attempted it was about a year before I sold my business. The guy who built the website for me gave me some pointers and I may have completed a total of 4 blogs by the time I left. The blogging could have been a extremely useful tool for me at that time but my heart and mind were just not in it. So I guess I’ll start right around that time.

Back in 1999 I started a small therapeutic massage business  and I expereimented with a lot of different marketing strategies from the very beginning.  It was a successful business and in one of the most lucrative areas of Atlanta.  Considering we got through a recession, Septemeber 11th, and a whole lot of nonsense through the years, my team and I did a pretty good job.  It was a great time in my life and I learned so much about what it takes to own a business which back in that time there were not nearly as many female entpreneurers around.

I had a team of some of the most impressive therapists and assistants that anyone could have asked for. However; I did wear most the hats in the company and we were open seven days a week. That resulted in a severe burnout by the year 2014.

I then decided to sell to one of my therapists who was just like a younger sister to me at the time. I had come close to throwing in the towel a few times prior to that day, I mean I literally thought about just walking away from it all and losing everything I built, but it was my baby, and I invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into that business. It was something extraordinary, and anyone who worked there or was a client knew it.

So this brings me to the motivation behind my new blog and website. For the past few years, I have been doing a little bit of, well a lot of things, but I was never able to put my finger on exactly what it was that I wanted to do next full time.

I lived in Portugal for a while to experience something different which was an indeed an eye-opening experience. The reason for Portugal was simply because I had planned to meet up with some possible partners for a non-profit which I will explain later at some point, but it fell through.  While I was there, I fell in love with Portugal and the people, so I decided to stay for as long as I could. I wanted to embrace waking up every morning in a European country, And like most globe trekkers, I longed to travel somewhere no one knew my name or anything about me. It is always so exciting meeting new faces and experiencing other cultures for me. I have had some of the most memorable moments of my life while spending time with people I had just met during my travels.

It was a beautiful time in the beginning and I have so many fond memories of that magical country.  But the longer I was there, the more I grew weary and restless. Each day started to seem longer and the months seem to just drag on forever.  I could not find my place, a home or my purpose in Portugal for some reason.  I had a handful of friends that I had as part of my network, but I was missing my family and the life I left behind.

For someone who speaks English as their first language, learning Portuguese can be seriously challenging, this is a fact. I had a private tutor and tried a class which I could not keep up due to financial reasons. The stress of not having enough money and the difficult time trying to get work was putting a strain on my mental and emotional state of mind. I could not concentrate, and I was getting more depressed. I had no family or close friends that I could lean on. I decided during that period that I was ready to return to the US.

But I did stay long enough to give it a serious effort, and for that, I am eternally thankful for the experience.  At least now, I can always look back on my life and know I put my whole heart into it and never gave up.  And most importantly I now have some fabulous lifelong friendships that I will cherish forever.

Returning to the US was the best decision I could have made since I did follow struggle to follow my intuition. I did not feel defeated as I had anticipated, but actually, it was the complete opposite. That was a huge moment of clarity for me. I learned so much about myself and others while I was on the other side of the Atlantic, that there is no way I could ever feel any doubt about my time in Portugal.

Since returning, I have to admit my real passion and primary focus still lie in mentoring and training other bodyworkers. That is the one aspect of my business I miss the most. I have trained over 100 massage therapists and continue to freelance whenever I can.”Coaching” is what they call it these days and I have been doing it since 1999.  Great song, great year, and the beginning of my fantastic massage career. But seriously, I could mentor and consult for the rest of my life and I would be very content.

So when people ask me what I like to do, well for many years it was my business. My world revolved around my staff and my clients. I believe I went through some type of mourning when I handed over the keys. It felt like a death of someone close to me. I believe I was so wrapped up in my business and relationships that I forgot who I was or maybe I never knew. I am still figuring it out and hopefully moving forward toward that goal a little each day.

Staying focused and moving forward while not honestly knowing what to do next can be much easier when I make time for reading. That is when I can set aside a little time alone for it.   I recently dove head first into a book by Eryn Donnelly “Facing Freedom,” and it awakened a side of me that I have not experienced or felt in a long time.

Maybe while I was living abroad, the anxiety could have possibly taken its toll. I started to shut down emotionally. I felt like I was in flight or fight mode pretty much most of my time in Portugal to be brutally honest. I hesitate to say this because it is a beautiful country. But I did make an effort; I took on very unique opportunities, and I even ran an Air BnB for a while. I will share more about that on another blog. What a great time I had hosting and meeting couples from all over! It was definitely another once in a lifetime experience for sure.

My primary goal with my blog, social media and my site is to connect people from all walks of life who are doing great things and having a positive impact on the lives of those in need.  It is the simple things we learned as kids that are so relevant when it is finally our time to be a grown-up.  It is very easy to be self-centered in a world of instant gratification.  We can quickly get sucked up into the superficial layer of it all which can be in itself a self-destructive behavior much of the time.

Once in a while, I do struggle, and then I have to remind myself that I have had all of that STUFF and I was rarely satisfied.  And the times that they did satisfy, it was usually something I worked really hard for.

In the following blogs and pages, I will be sharing about many different topics that draw my interest and hopefully yours as well. There are millions of people who are doing extraordinary things in this world, but it seems lately we have been focusing on the horrific atrocities and self-serving jerks that plague our planet Earth every day.

Most importantly, I want to connect with those like-minded people who feel inspired to do more for their own lives and to help others. But first, we need to learn to give ourselves a little self-love before we can go around giving so freely to others. It’s imperative that we encourage one another to take care of ourselves first without having to feel guilty all the time. Like the airlines always say right before the plane takes off, “apply the oxygen mask to yourself before assisting others.”
I, like most everyone else, am appalled with the way things are going on around me and in the world. My heart breaks every time I hear the news. But instead of complaining about it maybe it is the perfect time to make that change within ourselves first, starting today and each and every day hereinafter.

Facing freedom pic of books

Blog 2 March 2018

“Don’t just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are extremely helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.” — Epictetus, The Art of Living

Crossing Paths

I would first like to share a little about a particular lady I met in Lisbon, Portugal back in 2014.

I was renting a flat in the center of Lisbon and was hanging out at my favorite espresso bar when I met an American female tourist who was traveling around the world solo at that time. She sold her business, filed for a divorce and then planned a soul-searching journey around the globe. Lisbon was at the first leg of her two years plus journey.

I was intrigued but a tad bit jealous to be honest. I was in the middle of a mid-life crisis or peri-menopausal meltdown while alone in another country! Nothing felt right with me physically or mentally. I was envious, not because of her outer appearance and polished presentation but over the fact that she was in a position to roam the planet the way I had always envisioned for myself. Don’t get me wrong; I have traveled a great deal and more than the average person but not nearly enough for me. Plus she was planning on going to some super cool places that I had not yet traveled.

I have had some fantastic and unbelievable life experiences abroad that still to this day blow my mind when I sit and reflect. But taking a few years to travel and write a book for me, now that was one thing that was on the bucket list that I had not yet accomplished. I have never been a writer so a book just seems so unrealistic for me at this point.

When I met Eryn, she was living the dream. I was staying in Portugal on a strict budget and unable to find my inner peace. I was having a ball from what people could see from the outside, but on the inside, I was experiencing daily panic attacks. Many nights I would rock myself to sleep while trying to calm my racing heartbeat. Once I witnessed two locals who almost murdered two French tourists right outside my bedroom window.  It was one of the most brutal beatings that I have ever witnessed in person.  It took a few months for me to get over it.   There were other incidents that I will share about in my “Women traveling alone” blog at some point.

So everything in life is about timing, right. Which now brings me to an explanation of why I am writing about Eryn in my first few blogs. Eryn and I only had a very short visit over coffee and then she went on her way. We kept in touch on Facebook, which consisted of me reading her posts over the course of her travels. Honestly, we never scratched the surface during our conversation that day over coffee.  I just decided to make a conscious effort to follow her on social media.   I never read her personal travel blogs until after I read her book.

Once her book was hot off the presses, I felt compelled to order two books off of Amazon back in December 2017. I was so excited to read a book that a person I know wrote, finally! Traveling alone, being a woman and soul-searching, I can relate.

So I dove in head first and excited to emerge myself in the sea of my imagination and on a fantastic voyage of self-discovery through Eryn’s own written words. And boy was I a fat, happy fly on the wall for that ride. Erin did a fantastic job at writing. She is excellent at articulating her thoughts in such a genuine way; it felt like you were her closest friend and she was confiding in you every little detail of her experiences.

I have read many self-help books, have been to therapy off and on since I was 15, participated in extended silent retreats, yoga, and meditations. I have pushed myself mentally and physically through an array of challenges just to become a stronger, wiser, smarter and healthier person. All these years and so much hard work, which at times I can see where it is evident that it has paid off, even though at times I have had severe doubt.  Sometimes the uncertainty overtakes my psyche and stunts my creativity.   I can see now while looking back that I did this more than I care to admit.

Reading Eryn’s book was the absolute best remedy for me, and it was as if the stars were aligned and every word she wrote I could somehow relate to. Yes, there it was, in black and white. To feel connected in some way with another woman that I barely know and at the same time not able to convey exactly into words just how I felt at the time. There are exercises at the end of each chapter which I did not complete when reading it the first time but will get to it this go around for sure.  Maybe then I can share more about my own feelings and realizations that I am unable to do at this time.

“Facing Freedom” to me is similar and a more relatable version of “Eat Pray and Love.” Eryn is not afraid to hold back and put herself on the hot seat or under a magnifying glass.  Please understand me, I am only comparing the two to give you a better idea of what this fabulous memoir is about and to possibly sway you into getting the book for yourself.

I have so much respect for people who risk everything just to have a clearer understanding of which road to take and to figure out exactly what they feel is their calling.

I love the fact that Eryn was a bit naive before heading out on her quest for answers, for me, it made it more awkwardly challenging and entertaining. Which again, I can relate. Not knowing any other language besides English and being an American female traveling alone, can set you up for a lot of Lucille Ball moments if you know what I mean.

She continued to keep her heart and her mind open even during the most challenging times so she could truly have life-altering growth. I don’t want to give anything about the book away, but if you are interested, I believe there is a  complimentary sample on Amazon where you can order it. I encourage you to read it and tell me what you think. I have not read anything quite like it, or that speaks to me like “Facing Freedom” does. And I have read the majority of the self-help books out there.

I am so inspired by her book and her as a person. And I am grateful our paths crossed on that sunny day in Lisbon. Once I finished reading the book, I started to feel a sudden urge to work on my own blog after all these years. Disclaimer: I never blogged consistently, and it was for a brief period of time.

So this is where this part of my journey begins. I hope very much that you will join me since this will be the year of significant change and together we can do a lot of good for each other and our planet.

Eryn Donnalley

Blog 3 Flag Day Blues June 14, 2018

Today as I sit here and think about Flag Day, l also think of the past few weeks and the talk of suicide. Everywhere people are talking about depression which makes me want to work even harder on my physical health and mental well-being more now than ever before.

So yes, I am a very proud American,  but I do have to reflect on the past few years. Now that I have been back in the US, I can’t understand why we are so divided at this point. I had hoped that we had evolved, but sadly this is not the case. It is possible that all of this negative information that is being thrown around out there in the universe could be having a direct effect on the human psyche. Too much information and most of it is tragic that it is difficult for one person to process.

I struggled with depression during my childhood, my teen years and even throughout my adult life, but I’ve always had this sincere desire to keep going because, in reality, I didn’t want to miss out on anything. The journey is too exciting and short, so I plan to stick around as long as I can. But I do see where one can feel hopeless, and some may even be tired and worn out over it all.

I find myself exhausted at times from the constant flow of bad news. But then I also wonder how will I hold up while dealing with my aches and pains from getting older or dealing with life’s severe hardships within my own life. I have to remind myself of staying in the moment continually, and then I feel joy. That is how I find my zen moments, which can be many times throughout the day but it works. And it works because it then forces me to have gratitude which for me is the root of happiness.

Listening to the stories on TV and social media, it is evident that it is a difficult time for everyone and I’m no different than the next person. Each person in my family has struggled with some form of depression. I find it incredibly ignorant for people to go on and on about how they cannot believe that someone who is famous and has lots of money has struggled with depression. This continuous behavior shows me that the human race as a whole has so much more to learn. I honestly believe we have been in denial for many years now. Somehow we need to get it together and make a change sooner rather than later since time is of the essence at this point.

It seems as if there are so many people who are angry and they are saying such vicious words to one another. Whenever I have the time to read through the threads, I find negative comments and people quarreling over anything these days. It almost always seems to come down to people trying to prove they are right and the other person is wrong. It is such a waste of precious energy and time for me personally, and I do my best to avoid them.

I am an open-minded person who has traveled a lot, and I have experienced many things, but it saddens me that it is still taking so long for people to come together. However; if we all just start to work together starting now and be there for one another here in this country, we can make huge strides. It only takes a few simple steps and the first one being, to take care of our physical and mental health first.  Many are trying to make a difference but it is just not enough.

As far as my health is concerned, that is my number one priority these days. I get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, take my vitamins and try to remain positive. I laugh a lot, and I am active every day. I look around, and I connect with nature.

I have my hands in a few different creative projects and learning a little each day.  I worked hard on simplifying my life as much as I possibly can since I sold my business back in 2014.  I remember thinking while looking around at all the things I had acquired over the years and how they had become more of a source of stress and a burden for me at that time in my life.  Living simple is an accomplishment for me, and it is still, of course, a work in progress.

In addition to those changes, I listen, I observe, and I am present. I try to stay focused and experience all that is around me at that moment whether I am out of my comfort zone or in a familiar place. Having a clear compassionate and observant mind cannot be possible if I do not get plenty of rest, eat well and exercise.  Sometimes I need more, and other times maybe a little less, but I continue to move each day. I know of a few people who can go without sleep, but that will most likely catch up to them if it has not already. But for myself, I have to have a good night sleep in order to be present and productive.

So what I am getting at with all of this, is that I don’t believe that anyone can be of any benefit or of service to others without first committing to nurture oneself first. If each of us can first do this, then maybe we can all come from a place of peace and gratitude without flipping that switch into a mad, uncommunicative and vulnerable person.

But we must achieve a sense of peace within ourselves first and foremost or at least be striving for that on a daily basis.  If this can happen for each and every one of us, then we may have a chance. But for now, it just seems there is no end to the madness. So I just keep doing what I can do and hope that things will drastically change for the better before it too late.

Here is an article I found that explains it perfectly by an expert on this topic. There is a lot of useful information here

Cynthia A. Schaub