How Does Your Garden Grow?

Hello friends! I love featuring different speakers and authors on my page when I’ve been inspired. I did a talk in Santa Ynez and I met the wonderful Shannon Horn. Immediately when you meet her she has a lightness about her that makes you smile. She was generous enough to write a post on my page and she is addressing it to all the Sunny Girls out there. I hope you enjoy her post.

Here is her blog to read more: http://shannonhorn.com/

How Does Your Garden Grow?

 I am happier now than I’ve ever been, but I can remember as a teenager crying in the shower because I was so sad.  And the saddest part?  I didn’t even know why the gut wrenching tears had me curled in on myself on the shower floor.

I now know ‘why’.  It was because I was missing me.  The me that was my potential, the joyous, loving, kind person I could be.  The smart me, the me that actually followed through, the me that didn’t hold back because I was so afraid.  Afraid, of what exactly, I didn’t know.

Have you ever felt that way?  Afraid and sad and angry, sometimes all at the same time, and not really knowing why?

Many of my girlfriends felt the same way I did, but back then, we didn’t know how to talk about it, let alone how to deal with such a quagmire of ick.  If I knew then, what I know now, maybe I wouldn’t have lived so long with despair and the idea that I wasn’t smart enough, or good enough.

In case no one has told you lately, my dear Sunny Girl, YOU are good enough just the way you are.  You are a miracle.  After all, you are the only YOU there is.  You are a precious being with untold gifts waiting to be unwrapped by you, for you.

But how do you move from feeling so sad and confused and angry to finding joy in the everyday?  You become a gardener, the kind that tends to your heart and mind and body and soul.

Try these 4 steps to become the cultivator of good enough-ness and joy in your life.

Step 1:  Make a Decision

Step 2:  Create Some Space to Grow

Step 3:  Plant the seeds of Gratitude and Joy

Step 4:  Tend with Great Care

Step 1:  Make a Decision:

Every day, people are telling you what to do.  Your parents, your teachers, even your friends have an opinion on who you should be, how you should act, feel, dress….  But what if YOU decided you want things to be different?  That YOU are tired of being sad, or angry, or quiet.  The first step is acknowledging you want things to be different and then making room in your mind and heart and body and soul for things to be different.

Step 2:  Create Some Space to Grow

To plant a garden, you need a sacred space.  That sacred space is YOU, my dear Sunny Girl.  But if you are full of anger, and sorrow, and shame, or blame, or the dis-ease of not good enough-ness, some serious weeding is in order.  It’s hard to bloom, when you’re suffocating from weeds of negativity.

The best way I know to weed out negativity is to write it out.  Grab some paper and a pen, and write for 3 whole pages without stopping.  This is not a grammar or spelling test.  There is no censor here.  Think of this as yanking free the weeds of ick and letting them land on the page.  Write whatever comes up and spills out.  By putting your feelings on the page, you’re preparing the soil for a new crop of seeds ~ of ideas and feelings ~ to prosper and grow.

Step 3:  Plant seeds of Gratitude and Joy

What are the seeds you want to plant in your newly tilled soil?  This is your garden.  Perhaps you want to nurture more forgiveness in your life, or the willingness to try new things.  Maybe laughter is what you want to see bloom, or the knowledge that you are good enough, smart enough, strong enough….  There is no limit to what you can grow in the garden of your mind and heart and body and soul.

Planting seeds of gratitude and joy are game changers.  Nothing has shifted my attitude from feeling not good enough to loving who I am faster or with more grace.  Start by keeping a Gratitude Journal.  A simple list at the end of the day about what you are thankful for shifts your focus from lack to abundance.  And suddenly your whole world is about what is working, instead of what isn’t.  Know that some days will be full of sunshine and your gratitude list will pour out of you.  Other days will be stormy and grey, and all you might be able to come up with is being grateful the day is finally over.

A Joy Journal is like a Gratitude Journal, only its focus is on what makes you feel good.  Before I go to bed, I write down a list of the things from the day that made me smile, made me laugh, made me feel better.  Anything that brings me joy, from a hummingbird whizzing by my ear, to the comfort of my own bed, gets written down.

I am a true believer in what you focus on blossoms in your life.  I don’t know about you, but I got tired of my angst growing stronger and stronger every day.  Of feeling like I did everything wrong.  Of not trusting myself and thus, not being able to say ‘no’ to what I no longer wanted in my life, or even ‘yes’ to those things I did.  Whether you decide to keep a Gratitude Journal or a Joy Journal each will help put in perspective that your garden needs both the rain and the sun to flourish.

Step 4:  Tend with Great Care

Remember, a gardener must not only prepare the soil, plant the seed, water it, but pull the weeds that persistently keep popping up for the days and weeks and months it takes while waiting for the crop to come to fruition.  This is a gardener’s tender loving care.

My Sunny Girl, remember YOU are the gardener AND the garden.  Tend to yourself with great care while you are growing.  Drink plenty of water, eat good food, sleep more, be creative, exercise, laugh often and laugh hard.  Surround yourself with people who tend to YOU with great care.  It’s hard to nurture the precious seedlings of I am good enough, I am thankful, I am full of joy, when those around you keep stomping all over your precious seedlings.

Gardening is not an easy undertaking.  Neither is shifting your head and heart and body and soul from the darkness into the light.  Be gentle.  Be kind.  Ask for help when you need it.  Wake up each morning ready to pull the weeds of negativity and dump them on the page so you don’t carry them around with you.  Read your Gratitude Journal or your Joy Journal as a reminder of why you are tending to YOU.  Listen to that still small voice within that whispers, “YES, you CAN.”

It is my greatest wish for you that your garden, your LIFE, be bursting forth with the flowers of good enough-ness, and joy and gratitude, and anything else YOU choose to plant in your body and mind and heart and soul.  And may the occasional weed help you pause and take the time to re-evaluate where you are, what you are doing, and why you are doing it.  After all, a weed is a kind of flower.  And YOU get to decide if it stays or if it goes.

Happy Cultivating!

Shannon

 

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Real Talk for the Day

My, it has been a rough couple of weeks. Not only has my heart felt heavy with recent events (the hurricanes, the Las Vegas shooting, and the Sonoma fires), my own life has felt flooded lately. With all the going, going, going, it has left me feeling utterly…gone. I talk so much about self-care and putting on our own oxygen mask first. I have been so busy running around that somewhere along the way I completely forgot to take care of myself. Can I get some oxygen, please?

I am reminded today of how important it is to protect our boundaries and our hearts. I have had to take a close look lately at my intense desire to please everyone else. In my process of saying “yes” all the time to others, I have said “no” to myself as a result. And while it can be so easy in the moment to people please and do what everyone asks, the wear and tear on my body and spirit is a slow and subtle change that has now become prominent.

I realized this on Friday. I had just flown back from speaking at Syracuse University and I as I went to unlock my car, I realized that my keys were not in my purse. With no idea what happened to them, I knew the rest of the day would be a challenge. It was. I have struggled to share my own experience with anxiety, but here it is. I had a full blown panic attack in that Uber ride back to my apartment. I emptied my purse because I thought I was going to throw up. Thankfully I didn’t but it was in that Uber ride that I realized, I need to take better care of myself.

Losing keys happens. There are so many worse things that occur each and every day. But we all reach that breaking point when enough is enough. It’s time to practice what I preach. It’s time to start respecting my heart, my body, and my future. I want to be mindful about what I chose to say yes to, and not live in fear when I need to say no. Even though I worry that I may disappoint others by saying no, I have to remember that respecting myself needs to come as a top priority. When I don’t keep myself healthy, it makes it so much harder to give back graciously and openly. This is the mindset I am take with me in the coming months.

My values are shifting. As I prepare to get married next year, I am reminded of how much I value my relationship with my fiancé and building a home together. I am happiest when I am spending time with those I love. I want to start living with more balance so that I can live in alignment with these values. #priorities

There is my heart dump for the day. So often I keep these things to myself but I am trying this whole humanness thing. This is about becoming a human being, rather than a human doing.

Sending love to you wherever you are at. I know it’s not easy, but I hope you’re able to live in alignment with your values as well. One day at a time, right?

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

You Are Enough

As the school year begins, we place a lot of high expectations on ourselves. As great as it is to go into the year with goals, we have to be careful that those goals don’t turn into a competition with our peers. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up sizing ourselves up next to our classmates, our roommates—even our friends (without even realizing it!). All of sudden, we get those nagging feelings of resentment, jealousy, and uncertainty about ourselves. That little voice within tells us that we are inferior, insufficient—that not only will we not reach those goals, but we will also fail entirely.

Well, that took a dark turn.

Thankfully, we can turn it around. Rather than compare ourselves to others, we can find opportunities to learn from one another and in the process, learn to love ourselves. If you don’t foster a love for yourself and what you stand for, all of the knowledge, self-care, and resources are meaningless. I cannot make you care about yourself: only you can do that. Of course, I can tell you that you are valuable, worthwhile, and loved but only you can believe that.

I know you might have doubts about yourself; perhaps you think you aren’t “enough,” but will you do something for me? Will you read the following sentence and truly believe it?

I am enough.

You are enough. I am enough. Just as we are. Do you believe this? Life is going to be a long journey if you cannot start accepting yourself for the imperfectly perfect person that you are. We all have made mistakes, and we will continue to do so (myself included!). That is the essence of being human. But it is also the essence of humanness that includes goodness, compassion, and kindness. I believe that you already possess all that inherent goodness within you. You just have to own that and know that you are entirely wonderful.

As you read this, ask yourself what FIVE qualities make you AMAZING? Embrace it!

Many of my clients speak words of shame to themselves. I often hear the following come out of their mouth on a weekly basis:

  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m not talkative enough.
  • I’m not pretty/handsome enough.
  • I’m not funny enough.
  • I’m not cool enough.
  • I’m not thin/strong enough.

The list could go on and on. But let’s stop this list. Rather than compare ourselves to others, let’s remember that we are enough as we are. It’s not about comparison. There can be room for everyone to succeed. I know that I have days when I feel insufficient, and days when I have doubts, but I have to remind myself: I am enough. And if someone thinks that I am not enough? Then that is their loss and someone else’s gain. I trust that even when someone says “no” to me or denies me an opportunity, something better is meant to come along. I believe this for your life as well.

Remember, you are skilled enough, you are smart enough, you are dedicated enough to accomplish what you are seeking to do. If you compare yourself to others, we all will fall short in one way or another. So instead, hold yourself to your own highest standard and seek to meet that potential. That’s all that you owe to yourself.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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