The Most Important Valentine Of All

The Most Important Valentine Of All

It probably would never work.

My idea for a new holiday.

It would be like Valentine’s Day, but the focus wouldn’t be on expressing our love towards a significant other.

It would be on expressing our love towards our significant self.

It often feels so much easier to extend love outward than it does inward, doesn’t it? To shower others with the cards and the candy and the flowers and the fancy dinners. But to shower our self with such objects of affection?

Probably not.

It’s too bad. Because we are equally worthy to receive from ourself the same love we are far more comfortable giving to others.

Perhaps when asking others to be your Valentine, maybe you could ask yourself as well?

Self love is never optional.

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

Or Will You Be Just Another Year Older?

Or Will You Be Just Another Year Older?

One year from today is going to happen.

A lot can happen in the next 365 days. Or, nothing can happen in the next 365 days.

Those hopes and dreams, that big idea, the goals and intentions?

The person you tell yourself you want to become?

Not gonna happen on their own.

Time really doesn’t care what you do with it. It doesn’t care about those hopes and dreams and the person you tell yourself you want to become.

One year from today you can be one year closer to living a life more aligned with your purpose and vision. Or you can remain dormant and wonder where the hell the past year went.

One year from today, will you be more than just another year older?

Photo by Kate Williams on Unsplash

Do You Want More Of What You’re Feeling?

Do You Want More Of What You’re Feeling?

10:01 AM.

The iPhone vibrates.

It’s a message.

From me.

To me.

“Do you want more of what you’re feeling?”

I schedule this to happen three times per day. And each time the alarm goes off, this question appears on my screen.

“Do you want more of what you’re feeling?”

It’s become an important question I ask of myself.

In order for me to know the honest answer to this question, I must stop for a moment and notice what I am actually feeling.

How am I doing? Happy? Sad? Angry? Indifferent? Stressed? Peaceful? Anxious?

Before I started asking myself this question, for the most part I never really knew how I was doing. The days would sort of run their course, meandering through various emotional and vibrational peaks and valleys, with me obliviously reacting to it all.

Feelings are important barometers because we tend to get more of what we are feeling. Angry Pete would find more things to be angry about, and the Peaceful Pete would effortlessly find more peace. Feelings have their own energetic vibration, and in a world greatly influenced by energetic vibration we get back more of what we are radiating outward.

Prompting me to check in with me shows me the path I am on. Most times I do want more of what I’m feeling. Occasionally, though, this momentary look into myself tells me that no, I don’t want more of what I’m feeling. Without judging myself harshly if I find myself misaligned from how I want to feel. I notice. I investigate. I adjust, if I desire to. It’s usually a quick process, but there are times when I need to go deeper and stay with the unwanted feelings, try and understand why they are there, and lovingly Continue reading “Do You Want More Of What You’re Feeling?”

100,000 Ways To Love Yourself

100,000 Ways To Love Yourself

I used to be quite good at letting myself down. Promises and commitments made to others were always easier to keep than the promises and commitments I would make to myself. 

I’ve often heard that you can’t love others until you learn how to love yourself. Yet some of the kindest, most compassionate and loving people I know often struggle with treating themselves the way they so instinctively treat others.

Much of this stems from a distorted sense of worth and self-image. For those, we see them so differently from the way they see themselves. It feels like something a great many have quietly struggled with in differing degrees. I know I’ve had my challenges. We know who we really are, we tell ourself, and often we struggle showering the person who we tell ourselves we are with the same kindness and compassion we freely give away to others.

For me, not keeping commitments to myself was one of my ways of not showing myself the love. It was my way of subconsciously me keeping me more like I’ve always been. Setting goals and actually accomplishing them would make me a different person, different from the person I’ve always accepted myself to be. Letting myself down was just my way of self-regulating and keeping me who it was I told myself I was.

Five years ago I presented myself with a challenge. A challenge of commitment. A challenge of commitment to myself. Something simple. Something I would always have time to do. Something I knew I could perform which meant that the only reason why didn’t do it was because I chose not to.

Push ups.

Every day.

Equal in number to my age.

For five years.

100,000 push ups.

I wasn’t good at push ups. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do 50+ push ups all at once. I’d certainly have to break it up into several sessions per day. But this was the challenge I presented myself with. I called myself out. If I couldn’t find the time to do my push ups every day, why would I think I’d be able to keep any other more meaningful and significant commitments in my life? Like, Pete, if you can’t do this, don’t waste any more time thinking that you’ll ever be anything more than you already are. 

And with that, I started. It wasn’t easy at first, but I kept with it. I kept track of my progress on the whiteboard I have at home. The number of consecutive days and the total number of push ups completed. The entire family knew of my commitment and now they could graphically see if I was actually keeping my commitment to myself.

It was a significant test for me to learn about keeping commitments made to myself. A test that would tell me about who I really was. A test that would tell my family about who I really was.

Five years later? 100,000 push ups completed. The only thing that temporarily interrupted my consecutive days streak was a debilitating case of sciatica which rendered me physically useless. I’d accomplished 1,438 consecutive days of push ups before my injury. But I was back at it as soon as I was able to move again, doing extra push ups each day to get me back on track.

Sure, there were days I didn’t feel like doing them. There were days I had gone to bed only to realize I had yet to do my push ups that day. So I got out of bed and hit the floor to do them. Even the day of my knee surgery I made sure I did my push ups before going to the hospital and was able to prop myself up in a manner that allowed me to do them during my recovery. Without missing a day.

Because I promised myself I would.

Commitment and disciple aren’t glamorous. But they are the cornerstone of building anything worth building. Especially when it comes to building a healthier relationship with yourself.

My relationship with me has, in fact, changed. I was quite accomplished at telling myself what I was going to do and never quite actually doing it. Now, there is a much healthier level of self respect. I undertook a five year commitment and completed the task. I kept my word to me, 100,000 times, and with that I learned that I could trust me. With me. Something I had a difficult time doing previously.

It was a significant step in my growing more into who it was I was created to be. Possibilities now feel far more possible.

I still do my daily push ups. It’s simply become a daily habit. It serves as a reminder of the impact taking small consistent steps in your own direction can have in building a new identity about who you believe yourself to be and being worthy of the corresponding self love that comes with it.

That wasn’t my intention.

But that has been the outcome.

What about you? How is your relationship with you? Perhaps there’s one thing you can challenge yourself to do for you to improve your relationship with you?

A Quick Fix Guide To Emotional Self Maintenance

A Quick Fix Guide To Emotional Self Maintenance

The blood was everywhere.

The sharpened edge of the paint scraper I was using to get the front window ready for a new coat of paint caught the index finger on my left hand. Ouch.

Summer. The beach, cookouts, endless sunshine, and house painting. Our house, now almost 30 years old, is at that stage where something always needs to be painted. Windows, doors, trim, siding. The weather extremes here in New England certainly push paint to it’s limits.

I actually enjoy the painting part of painting. What I really don’t enjoy is the preparation before hand.

The painting part goes pretty quickly. And it’s rather gratifying. Sometimes the temptation is to throw on a fresh coat of paint to spruce things up a bit. A quick fix. But unless I properly prepare the surface for painting, I will find myself doing a lot more repainting sooner than later.

Quick fixes usually don’t fix things for very long.

Experience has taught me that a good paint job requires a lot of sanding and scraping. Sanding and scraping are not something I look forward to. It’s difficult, tedious work, but unless I am willing to do the hard work and address the stuff underneath first I’m never going to get the results I am looking for.

I’ve found that in my life, house painting is a perfect metaphor for my own self maintenance. I’ve often gone with the quick fix approach when dealing with some of the challenges that life has presented. Instead of sanding and scraping to address my own inner unseen issues, I’d simply thrown on a fresh coat of whatever I thought would spruce me up emotionally. Shopping, denial, blame, alcohol…all fresh coats of distraction to cover what was peeling and cracking underneath. Going deeper into yourself isn’t easy, often very daunting, yet unless I was able and willing to get down to the bare wood of the problems I was dealing with, no new coat of anything was ever going to last.

And they never did.

I’ve now learned to sand and scrape, to seek that emotional bare wood, to work to understand as to why the new version of me I tell myself I want to create never quite sticks. I work to resolve those lurking unseen issues and to then build a base in which the new paint, the new me, can adhere to and last. But unless I do the work and have honest, often difficult conversations with myself, compassionately, I find myself repeating patterns and behaviors which at some point will require me to fix them yet again.

How about you? When it comes to growing more fully into who you really are, what’s peeling and cracking underneath that may be preventing your highest vision of your life from adhering?  What needs to be sanded and scraped in order for you to prepare yourself to be elevated to that place you’ve always longed to be?

I’d grow tired of simply re-fixing the same broken parts of me over and over again.

I deserved better from me.

You deserve better from you, too.

Photo by Amauri Mejía on Unsplash

Self Abandonment & Embracing The Voice Of Authenticity

Self Abandonment & Embracing The Voice Of Authenticity

Somebody told you a story. Perhaps just once. Perhaps several times. But stories have a way of taking root, especially in the impressionable and fertile mind of a child. Even well intentioned story tellers have no idea how that story could impact the life trajectory of that child.

Stick and stones. Yes, they can break bones. But names and labels have such a power to hurt you and your sense of who you are. More specifically, of who you think it is you are.

And who you think you are is perhaps the most important story you’ll ever tell yourself.

As a boy, I didn’t get into too much trouble. I was the third born, coming into this world six years after the second born. I was kind of left on my own, staying within the parameters that were set for me. On one occasion, though, my failing junior high school grades gave my Dad the opportunity to vehemently express his disappointment in me. Not in my grades. But in me, the person. His son. A new story was told, and stories have a way of taking root in the impressionable and fertile mind of a child. Especially when that story comes from your Dad.

And take root it did.

In hindsight, what Dad was trying to do was motivate me. A lifelong factory worker, he wanted me to live a different life than what he was living. His was a hard life, a paycheck-to-paycheck existence. Up early, grabbing as many extra hours as he could. He wanted more for me, and the harshness of his tactics was his way of trying to show me. I see that now, but the young version of me was far to emotionally immature to see that. Dad spoke. I had no reason not to believe him.

And take root it did.

Perhaps you, too, have had the opinions of others impact your perceptions of who you think you are? Maybe you’ve been told at some point in your life you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not beautiful enough, you’re too emotional, you’re a lot of work, you’ll never amount to anything?

The stories we tell ourself will define us. They shape our expectations, shape our actions, shape what we feel is or isn’t possible for ourself. These stories can cause us to abandon who it is we really are in order to live a life consistent with who it is we’ve been told we are. Because we will become who we think we are. We will build a world around those stories, a world in which we will regulate our levels of abundance, worthiness, and even our own perceived lovability. We will fill in life’s pieces accordingly, reinforcing the stories further. We will always attract just more of the same.

A different life requires a different story.

A story in which we embrace our truest self and never needing to abandon it.

When we embrace our authentic self, we will attract and create a world around us full of people and opportunities and relationships which will support our most authentic and purest self. That is the life we all were created to live.

We do get to decided which stories we accept as true.

Actually, we’ve been doing it all of our lives.

So why not embrace a story which supports the life we know we really want to live, the life we were created to live?

Uprooting an identity is hard work. But if you don’t start, you never will.

Your authentic self? It is still within you. It’s alway been there. It’s as beautiful as you’ve always known it to be. It just needs for you to tell yourself a different story.

The Voice of Authenticity is calling you.

Abandon your stories which no longer serve you, and you’ll never again have to abandon the most important person you will ever know.

You.

Photo by Chela B. on Unsplash

Self Care Is Not Optional

Self Care Is Not Optional

Rte 6A meanders effortlessly on the north side of Cape Cod, the bay side. It is a road seemingly untouched by time, now gracefully stark and barren in the depths of winter. It’s a road I’ve inconveniently yet intentionally travelled for many decades.

Intentionally, mostly when I need some time to just be me. Not a husband, a son, a brother, a dad, a friend.

Just me.

Silently observing, reflecting, recharging.

I can always count on the serenity and simplicity of the flowing miles between Sandwich and Orleans to help me rediscover the serenity and simplicity I often forget are available within me.

May we all take the time to prioritize those places which allow us to reconnect with our most authentic, deepest self.

Self care is not optional.

Candles, Confessions, & The Art Of Self Forgiveness

Candles, Confessions, & The Art Of Self Forgiveness

It’s been a couple of weeks now since Mom passed. Expected yet unexpected all at the same time. It’s not something you can ever fully prepare for.

Recently, I found myself back in my old hometown and for some reason I felt called to visit the chapel Mom would quite often visit.

Mom was a woman of deep Christian faith, a guiding and comforting source for her throughout her life. Mom was also a prolific candle lighter, and Our Lady’s Chapel was the place she would light them. For family and friends in time of need or distress, Mom lit candles for us all.

It was my turn to light one for her.

After the candle was lit, I found myself sitting in the back pew of the Chapel. Just sitting. Observing. Remembering. Decompressing. A small boy sitting a few rows in front of me wandered away from his Mother and playfully pushed back the curtain to the Confessional located just to my left. His Mom was not at all pleased, but his actions got me to thinking about something I’ve not thought about for quite some time.

Growing up Catholic, I’ve certainly spent my share of time in the Confessional. As a boy, I’d kneel fearfully in darkness awaiting the priest to open the screen and I’d tell him of my sins for the week. Mostly about the number of swear words I’d used that week (I did my best to quantify my transgressions) and the occasional taking the Lord’s name in vain. Then, with nervous anticipation, I’d await my penance which usually involved a great deal of praying in the back of Church.

Spiritually, I’ve meandered a bit over the years. I’ve confessed a great deal over the years, just not in a Confessional.

Confession is the first step in forgiveness. It’s reflecting upon and acknowledging your actions, or, at times, the lack of them, and asking God to absolve you. In the secular space, I, too, have asked for the forgiveness of others for the times I’ve not lived up to my own Higher standard, for the actions I’ve taken or the lack of them.

Others have also occasionally asked for my forgiveness as well. Forgiveness is always granted, as the weight of holding grudges is more weight than I choose to carry, especially as I get older. I know I’m still far from perfect myself and I like to think I afford others the space to be less than perfect as well.

There is one person, though, I’ve often had a difficult time forgiving.

Me.

Funny how it’s often easier for us to forgive others than it is for us to forgive ourselves.

As I reflect about forgiveness, I realize that self-absolution has never been easy for me. The grudges I chose not to hold towards others I would easily hold against myself, mercilessly holding me perpetually accountable for my actions or lack there of.

Maybe you can relate to not giving yourself the space to be imperfect? To allow yourself to reflect and acknowledge the times in your life where you wish you responded differently, or had taken another path, and then forever beating yourself up for it.

Much of this changed for me when I was able to change the most important of all relationships.

The one with me.

The compassion and forgiveness I so easily dispensed to others? I threw a little of that my own way. I cut myself some slack. I accepted that no matter the result, I did the best I could at the time. I compassionately questioned why I’d befriend others yet wouldn’t extend that same level of friendship towards myself.

I stopped emotionally kicking my own ass.

I’m certain my issues with self-forgiveness can be traced back to the self-identity narratives which were created, nurtured, and perpetuated many decades ago. Many of them based in limitation, steeped in unworthiness, rooted in insecurity. What we are willing to accept as true for who we think we are impacts just about everything.

But narratives can be changed, if we are willing to question them.

It’s a conversation worth having.

It’s the most important conversation I’ve ever had.

But What If The Present Moment Sucks?

But What If The Present Moment Sucks?

I’m sure you’ve heard it.

“Be present.”

It’s the only moment we really have, they say. Because if we’re living in our past, we’re re-living the pains and regrets of yesterday, and if we’re living in the future it can be a fearful and worrisome based vision of the uncertainty which lies ahead. The present moment, we’re told, is the sweet spot between the two.

But what if the present moment sucks?

Because sometimes it does.

Then what do we do?

The present moment has been marketed as the safe space between our past and our future. An emotional oasis of sorts. But just because it’s the present moment doesn’t mean it’s always a peaceful moment.

Being aware that the present moment sucks is a good thing. It means you’ve been able to step back from your inner emotional turmoil to assess and determine that, yes, this moment actually sucks. Much like a first responder needs to assess the situation on scene before going forward, our self awareness is the first step for us to move beyond the suck.

Sometimes the suck is just a temporary moment. Sometimes it’s much bigger than that.

Sometimes, though, the best thing you can do in this suck moment is give yourself the time and the space to let the present moment suck.

To accept it as it is.

To allow it to be as it is.

Not beating yourself up because it does.

Not shaming yourself because it does.

Because when the present moment sucks, the last thing you need is to be in an abusive relationship with yourself.

You’ll find a way through.

You always have.

Who Owns Your Happiness?

Who Owns Your Happiness?

Goodbye, New Hampshire!

Moving day. The truck was loaded and we were ready to head a little south. After a brutal winter of construction delays our new home was finally ready for us to move into.

We loved our apartment, but moving into your own home is extremely exciting. Especially your first home. A real sense of ownership, a place to call our own. 

Owning is better than renting.

When it comes to real estate.

When it comes to peace and happiness.

Have you ever wondered who owns your peace and happiness?

I think we’ve all had similar experiences of linking our peace and happiness to things outside ourselves. Of needing certain results or outcomes. Of needing certain people. Of needing certain people to act in certain ways. Of needing certainty.

On my path I’ve gone down many a road looking for that elusive peace and happiness, convinced that this time I was on the right one. Once I got to where I told myself I needed to go I would recognize in short order that it was just another dead end. Whatever I told myself I needed to achieve or attain, once achieved or attained I would eventually feel that all too familiar sense of frustration and disappointment. I thought it was supposed to fix everything.

It never did.

The same can be said for relationships. How often do we need people to be and act in ways which make us happy? Sure, it’s great when that happens, but what happens when they stop? What happens if they change? What happens when they know what we need from them and it is purposely withheld? What happens if they leave?

It’s just renting happiness, and renting provides no emotional equity.

Because we don’t own it.

When we look outside of ourselves for peace and happiness we never own it. If we are fortunate to think we’ve found it, just wait. It’s inherently temporary. Just like renting. Even a lease isn’t forever, and the price of outsourcing your happiness can get rather emotionally expensive. And since the emotional landlord sets the emotional rules the relationship is never one of equals. 

I was quite apprehensive about the idea of owning my peace and happiness. It intrigued me but I didn’t think it was possible. After all, wasn’t I the one convinced it was all outside of me? That’s where I’d been looking for the vast majority of my life.

In having tried many external options, I’d come to realize the one place I’d yet to look was inside of me.

Becoming the primary source of your own peace and happiness was a lot more work than I thought it would be. My relationship with me wasn’t always a good one. Quite abusive at times, actually. I wasn’t ready to love me, so I just started to like me. More like a friend. I started to compassionately work with me and not against me. I started to prioritize me, my wants and my needs, my own wellbeing. From the inside out. 

The better I got at taking care of me, the less I needed things outside of me to take care of me. The better I got at taking care of me, the less dependent I became on others to take care of me. More emotional equity means more freedom, and that freedom is quite empowering.

My peace and happiness are now my responsibility. I know me and I know what I need from me. Sure, I still enjoy favorable outcomes and favorable people, but the equity I’ve built in owning my emotional well being doesn’t make them necessities. 

I just don’t need things or people to be anything other than they already are.

Yes, I still get angry and disappointed at times. I simply don’t allow myself to stay there

When it comes to your peace and happiness, are you owning or renting?