New Series & Cleaning House for Clarity with Tiffany’s Epiphanies

The dark night was showing me where I did not love myself and where I was repeatedly choosing suffering over my own happiness and joy.

Prologue
Just for a moment, I encourage you to reflect on the course of your life over the past few years. We can have such a strong tendency to jump from one life event to the next that we forget how far we’ve traveled. Right now, I am seeing how this has been such an amazing journey; yet there’s still so much to experience and explore.

Today (Tuesday) I’m also launching a series called “Tiffany’s Epiphanies,” a term that has been coined by several people who have worked closely with me over the years. My goal is to post these epiphanies on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at least once a week. We’ll see how well my creativity will flow with this goal! 

Spiritually-Cleaning-House: The Dark Night of the Soul and The Breakdown
Sunday night, I was deeply triggered by something I saw that lead to what I now consider to be one of my toughest “dark nights of the soul.” These dark nights feel like death as the emotions feel physically eviscerating. There can be grief like no other.

In fact, I believe it is a mourning process for there is a sort of death for the part of us that needs to be let go, much like the caterpillar must die for the butterfly to be born. Think, too, of how many life transformations have ceremonies… it is to recognize the movement of life from one form to another. So this dark night of the soul is the death of what no longer serves us and, if allowed, it is the movement out of the darkness and into a new light. Which again brings to mind the caterpillar and the butterfly.

Overnight, I was incredibly restless and easily awakened by visceral pangs as the energy shifted (and no, it wasn’t food poisoning). My solace? Self-love meditations (via Insight Timer app) and The Ho’Oponopono Prayer: “I Love You. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” The person I was saying this to? Myself. The dark night was showing me where I did not love myself and where I was repeatedly choosing suffering over my own happiness and joy. I repeated this prayer overnight and into the next day whenever my emotions rose up. Also, as I typed notes at work, I listened to Heart Chakra Crystal Bowls on the Insight Timer App to support being more heart-centered and calm.

Physically-Cleaning-House: The breakdown leads to the breakthrough.
Once back at home, I literally cleaned house with a new fervor. As I scrubbed the tub, and the baseboards (don’t ask how long it’s been for either), an epiphany hit me square in the face (well, not literally). “If another human had treated your children the way this person had treated you, you’d be mother-bear furious. You’d support your child in getting the eff away. So why are you still entertaining these thoughts about this person?!” BOOM! Done. Mission: Accomplished. Heart UNbroken. AND WHOA! All that self-love really paid off!

There is another tool that I used this day, after I listened to this TED Talk about getting over heartbreak. The speaker, Guy Winch, suggests writing out a list of all of the things that someone you’re heartbroken over did not do well, and referring to that list when we begin to pine over that person. This is important for breaking the cycle of idolizing the person and our relationship with them so that we may heal. 

Epilogue
This week marks 3 years since my divorce was final; always a little bittersweet, especially in the midst of the winter holidays. Yet it also marks for me the beginning of a new journey, through self-discovery, self-love and sharing my experiences to help others through blogging; that journey being well over 4 years long now. 

Namaste

Fasting for Focus, Plus More

Just over 2 months ago, a friend was telling me how intermittent fasting (IF) had helped his focus. Intrigued, I started researching IF while trying this new way of eating on for size (pun not originally intended). Mind you, I am the woman who (before this) would not have skipped a meal without … consequences. “Hangry” had my picture next to it in the dictionary. So I was initially very cautious about IF as well as … skeptical. Now, over 2 months later, I am well into skipping breakfast, and sometimes more as I have found my focus is better and so are my energy, stamina and overall attitude towards life (yes, I know, it can seem unreal). Along the way, there have been some surprising, some not-so-surprising and some interesting side effects of IF to share. Then at the end, I’ll share some tools and links to science-based articles and posts, so you can explore more if you’d like.

As a result of my first-hand experience and the research I’ve done, I see IF as giving my body a break from digesting, assimilating and (improper) storing of food energy. This post touches briefly on the many positive “side effects” of fasting. I encourage you to keep an open mind as you read. Fasting offers different physiological responses than restricted calorie “diets.” As many of us have experienced dieting and the perpetual low blood sugar that results, we equate dieting with fasting. These are two very different beasts. Please treat them both with respect. 

Less Sleep
Overall, I sleep less and I wake up more easily in the morning – this is with less caffeine, too. Most nights, I sleep between 5-6 hours and feel energized. As such, it is easier for me to get out of bed, yes, even in the (almost) winter! In the past, I was “sleeping in” until the last minute most fall/winter mornings. Now, I’m up before the sun even on the weekends.

More free-time and money
Cooking and preparing fewer meals means more free-time and less money at the grocery store…well, and less meal-prep stress. While this makes complete sense to say now, these were initially unexpected side effects for me. I’m also snacking less, which means less money on expensive snack bars. Most of my calorie intake is now from more savory meals, and some sweets.

LESS Hunger
This one surprised me. Well, it still does. After the first few weeks, I’ve found that my hunger has actually decreased, as long as I am eating enough. It will make more sense if you have time to read this article about the hunger hormone, Gherlin, which increases weight gain while it increases your appetite! 

More energy and desire to work-out
While this all sounds counter-intuitive, I have MORE energy for the gym. Research even suggests it is better to workout while fasting. Honestly, if I had not experienced this myself, I would not have believed it. So I understand if you are also skeptical.

Now I look forward to working out. I’m hitting the gym more regularly and I feel so much better about myself and my body. WIN-WIN.

I will say, however, that I would personally refrain from starting a new workout routine during the first few weeks of IF (new meaning not already a well-established routine), as it can take some time to adjust to the IF regimen. 

Fat Loss and Muscle Definition
While I have lost some “scale weight,” most of my weight loss has been in inches of fat –  particularly fat around my waist, thighs and upper arms. Yes, I still have a “belly,” however, it is much more slim than it was just a few months ago. AND, I can also safely say that this is the smallest it’s been since before graduate school (and kids) with the added bonus that IF has required easily less than a quarter of the effort of a caloric-restricted diet (like WW). For the most part, I have not consciously changed my diet, just the time that I eat. In fact, I’ve even stopped tracking my foods.

Again, weight loss has not been my focus, it has just been a nice side effect to look and  feel better in my skin, well, and jeans.

More Desserts, Yet Fewer Sweets
While I buy more cookies and treats (I rarely trusted myself to have them in the house before), now I find that I eat fewer of them as my sweet “sensitivity” is greater, so I do not indulge in as many sweets as I did before. In other words, I enjoy the sweets I do eat more, consuming less of them. 

Heightened Senses & Intuition
Perhaps this is also part of why I enjoy fewer sweets; my senses of smell and taste are more sensitive. After a fast, especially longer ones, I find that the food tastes so incredible that I eat less of it and enjoy it more.

Intuition can be more challenging to quantify. Suffice it to say, my intuitive voice is louder, more active and accurate.

My Personal IF Steps
When I first started, I was doing a 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour feeding schedule. It took me about 1/2 the first week to feel comfortable with not eating for 16-hours straight.

In fact, the first few days I really had to “breathe through” the belief that I was literally going to starve to death if I waited another minute to eat. This is a sure sign of psychological hunger, by the way. As such, it can be easier to fast initially when one’s schedule is more busy, starting 3 or so hours before bedtime to take advantage of our normal sleeping fasting routine.

About a month of so into IF, I began to extend the fast to 18-hours after I read research that the benefits of IF really “begin” after about 16 hours. On kid-free weekends, I also extend the fasting periods for as long as I feel comfortable without allowing it to feel like a punishment.

Strategies That Support IF

  • See IF as a break from eating instead of as starvation. Starvation is when you’re not eating and you have NO idea when you’re next meal may be. 
  • Drink lots of water. Sometimes I add a pinch of salt to give it some flavor.
  • Herbal (non-caloric) Tea helps. Matcha has also been ranked as a good hunger suppressant.
  • Know the difference between physical and psychological (or emotional) hunger.
  • Avoid punishing yourself with extending the fast for too long OR overeating when you break your fast. Think the long haul here, if you punish yourself with it, how long are you really likely to stick with it?
  • Be flexible with your feeding and fasting schedules. This can go a long way to support your success. Rigidity here may lead to failure of your program.
  • Avoid boredom, or you’ll quickly find out how much you eat to fill the time.
  • Meditate or keep busy during fasting times. I find that too much down time can make for a difficult fast (late-night TV is the WORST with all of those food ads; those marketing companies know what they’re doing….)

Yes, My Morning Routine Still Includes Coffee & Some Unsweetened Almond Milk
When I first started IF, I was drinking black coffee only, then I read this article that talks about how caffeine can actually support your fast. The author also states small amounts of unsweetened nut milks do not break the fast. While reviews of this practice have been mixed, for me, I’m still maintaining the positive benefits of IF WHILE also enjoying my AM coffee more.

Some of the science
Does Coffee Break an Intermittent Fast? by Mark Sisson
YouTube: Dr. Satchin Panda
YouTube: Optimizing Your Workouts While Fasting with Thomas DeLauer
Study finds fasting 72 hours regenerates the entire immune system

Tools
Tracking App: Zero – keeps track of your fasting times and you can set to count up or down to feeding times, customize the time that’s right for you.
Instagram: @Fastingnews “for all things fasting”
Facebook: Also has moderated support groups including: Intermittent Fasting and Delay, Don’t Deny.

Epilogue
Intermittent fasting has been an interesting journey for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself and find that I am snacking less, have more energy and am less weighed down: literally and figuratively.

The first week may require some adjustments and yet I feel if you find these side effects intriguing that it would be good to do some research. It would also be a good idea to check in with your physician first, too, especially if you are taking prescription meds that require food.

May we each find the dietary regimen that works best for us. 

Namaste

Sacred Union

A love so fierce it melts down barriers before resistance is born

Passion so great those near and far can it palpate

With laser focus, it cuts to the quick revealing truths within

Dross is evaporated again and again

Within this embrace, helpless in all transformations

Transmutations

Experiencing again Heaven on Earth

Knowing again one’s own worth; infinite

Melded individuals become the base of all sacred geometry

Mandorlas are lenses formed

A new way through which to view the world

The Vesica Piscis

A Divine Intersection of stars

The quintessential formation of all life

As two equals on common ground form

Sacred (re)union

As with-in, so with-out

Hand holding hand

Walking together

Opened, blossomed, unfettered

Life: Conjoined in Seed, Flower, Tree

A vehicle for movement

This, this is how galaxies are formed

Namaste

Learning to Receive

We have been taught to be fiercely independent, to do as much as we can to prove ourselves worthy. I see this often with new moms who are literally juggling a baby, baby equipment and busy schedules; wanting to do everything with minimal to no help. Yet, in reality, none of us can be truly independent. We rely on others for medicine, food, roads, cars, phones, utilities and public service. How does this desire to be fiercely independent serve us? Better yet, does it?

Honestly, I believe this need to prove ourselves is borne out of fear. We do not feel ourselves worthy to receive from others, and we do not want to rely on others to be there when we need them. In fact, I believe this fierce independence is a reaction to being afraid to receive love. For to rely on others and to receive their love leaves us feeling vulnerable. Yet, how can we expect to open our hands and our hearts if we cannot tolerate vulnerability?

Yes, you can also argue that you don’t want to be indebted to anyone. I get it. I’ve lived it. Yet, sometimes others receive joy when they give to others. When we block the sharing from someone else, we prevent them from receiving their own joy through sharing. So in this case is it really more selfish to block the receiving of blessings, or is it more selfish to receive?

Having been a mother with her hands filled with babies and baby related things, I remember how exhausting it was to feel like I had to do it all. One day, someone held open the door for me and I allowed it. Since that day, I have been more open to receiving help from others. No one is ever truly alone. So why keep pushing away the help that others want to give? Why fear receiving love, receiving help, or feeling vulnerable?

May we each become a little more vulnerable today, allowing more love into our hearts, receiving what is meant to be. 

Namaste

UnHome for the Holidays: Breathing through the Holiday Blues

When I was younger, several family friends found the holidays depressing. This perplexed me, I wondered how people weren’t joyous during the holidays. Now I understand. This year marks the 4th Winter Holiday Season since separation, and eventual divorce. Having two young children who are now “forced” to split their holidays between parents, this time of year brings to the forefront the loss of the “Norman Rockwell” image of family that I have held since a young age (sometimes with a white-knuckled grip) in my mind.  So while I can still find joy in the holidays, there is an ever present longing that I am keenly aware may never be filled…and part of me blames myself.

Breathing in, I feel the grievances of childhood ideals. Just for this moment, I choose to not question them, for to do so would be to question my right to feel the losses; losses which are palpable for me at the moment. 

Breathing out, I feel my grasp on the ideals slowly slip away.

Breathing in, I allow this cycle to repeat: allowing the feelings and the ideals to be, then allowing my grip on them to release.

So now I feel better about Christmas, at least. Now to move onto New Year’s Eve, another year in which to celebrate being single, while grieving the vacancy at my side. 🙂

May we each find a greater sense of peace about where we find ourselves in life during this more sensitive time of year. May we further allow our grievances to surface, so that we may acknowledge and honor them, then allow our grips on them to soften, freeing us to enjoy greater degrees of freedom from our suffering. Peace begins within.

Namaste

Know that you are not alone in this. If your emotions are overwhelming and/or preventing you from activities that you normally enjoy, please reach out to someone who can help: 

  • National Suicide Hotline (US) 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chat available 24/7
  • Mental Health Referral Hotline (US) 1-877-726-4727 available 8 AM – 8 PM EST Monday-Friday

Seeing Love as if for the Very First Time

Love and compassion are the soft whispers of a heart that is given the permission to fully express its truth. Many of us have learned that love is conditional, and out of fear we believe we have to manipulate others to gain their love. These beliefs are the furthest from the truth.

Much like the air we breathe, Love is ubiquitous and an invisible presence that can easily be taken for granted. Yet Love is vital for our survival, without it we cannot thrive.

Love accepts life and others “as is” and whether others Love us or not. Just as we have compassion for others when they are suffering a loss, we accept them for their range of emotions and sad or angry faces, Love is accepting others for who they are right now, in the present. While we can see the potential of others, our Love for them is not based on who they “could be,” it is based on who they are right now. Today. In sickness and in health.

If we force the process of Love, rushing into it at break neck speeds, then this reveals our fear that we cannot be loved. It is as if we believe we must have someone “fall for us” before they can see “our flaws.” Charming is not Love. Charming is manipulation.

When we believe that we must make ourselves into something or someone different for someone else to Love us, then this reveals where we do not Love ourselves.  When we accept and allow ourselves to be ourselves, then we show ourselves our own Love. It is then that we can begin to accept the Love of another, as we are then strong enough in ourselves to be who we are, to shine our own lights and allow those whose lights match ours to become closer to us.

Simply put. Love is.

Namaste

Ease & Flow: The Law of Attraction

There are words that support us and other words which do not. Many of us have marinated for years in negativity that we have learned from others, and that we have carried forward. The good news? We can change this if we wish!

To break free from the habit of negativity, it is imperative that we both recognize the habit and then put something new in its place. In hearing about a game* that Esther Hicks (Law of Attraction author and speaker) often plays, I sat down and typed out as many uplifting words as I could think then plugged them into the WordArt.com program to generate the featured image.

What uplifting words come to mind for you? Are there word pairs that seem to fit well and that resonate strongly for you? If so, repeat them, especially when feeling triggered. Become your own cheerleader; we each deserve to be our very own best friends. 

Namaste

*In the game, Hicks brings to mind a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet. She finds that this game brings her into a state of peace and greater alignment with The Divine, a place she calls The Vortex. If you are interested in learning more, you can easily find audio tracks on YouTube. She has also co-authored several books with her husband, Jerry.

Overcoming Indecision: A Tool for Path Finding

When unsure which path to take, one of the tools I have found very helpful to gain clarity is quite simple and effective. In fact, this is such a simple tool that it can be easily forgotten or even overlooked. So often we believe that complex situations require complex solutions, which keeps us stuck when we overlook something as simple as this body compass. Really, a compass is a quite simple device when we think about it, yet it can help us to circumnavigate the globe. 

In a relatively quiet space, feel into the soles of your feet. Allow yourself to become more fully present in your body. Feel yourself as you breathe in and breathe out. Place one or two hands on your heart as you simply imagine the various options you have been considering. Allow yourself to fully feel what your body is telling you. Trust what you feel as your body is telling you which path to choose.

Let’s say you’re trying to choose between turning left or right. See yourself in the car turning left. What do I feel when I turn left? Then see yourself in the car turning right. What do I feel when I turn right? Allow the signals from your heart and your body to show you which path is correct for you at this time by which one feels better.

Simply put: Follow your bliss by feeling your True North… and trust yourself to show you what is best for you at this time.

May we each appreciate the truth within our hearts and bodies; trusting that we know how to meet our own needs. 

Namaste

Seeing the Miracles

Right now, your heart is pumping and your lungs are breathing all without you having to consciously do a thing. Millions of your cells are living, dying and being born so that you can carry the light of life within you. Your ancestors experienced this thing called life long enough to bring more life into this world. Maybe you’ve even brought life into this world.

Cellular data is being transmitted through airwaves so that you can read these words on your screen. 150 years ago, we did not even have telephones which were invented in 1876. Ponder on that for a moment, as many of us use our phones as hand held machines.

Day in and day out we are surrounded by miracles, many of which are beneath our very noses.

Zoom back a bit more. See all of the places in which we are supported: food, shelter, society, family, friends, our work/jobs, education, electricity, fuel, cars, roads and etc. People have created many of these constructs; people like you and me, who survived long enough to leave a legacy.

When we take a moment to step back and see all that surrounds us and that occurs within us that keep us going, we can begin to appreciate all that we really have; even if it isn’t all “perfect,” it is all here to perfectly support us. This is before we even begin to explore the more esoteric miracles… The more aware we become, the more miracles we can see.

May we each see and appreciate the miracle of our lives and all the large and small miracles that support us in all ways, every day.

Namaste

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