30 Nights Out: Becoming Intimate with the Things That Make You Uncomfortable

imgresThe other day, I came across a great post by Leo Widrich of Buffer about ambition. He included a quote by a Buddhist monk that jumped out at me, “become intimate with the things that make you uncomfortable”. I didn’t have to ask myself what made me uncomfortable, I already knew. I’m 28 years old, a single Mom and just recently went through a break-up with a man I thought I was going to marry. In light of my break-up, I feel like a layer has been pulled back and a youthful curiosity is sprouting up in me.

What makes me uncomfortable? Not being someone’s girlfriend. I like it and most of all I’m good at it.

Looking back, I’ve gone from monogamist relationship to monogamist relationship like monkey bars on a play structure. There have been long periods of single-ness, but in those years of being alone, I used the time to be introspective and “work on myself”.  I rarely went out with friends, even though I lived in bustling New York City, where everything and everyone was happening. I’m not sure why I didn’t take more advantage of the NYC night life or my youthfulness, but I have an inkling it had something to do with fear.

In 2010 I took on the largest responsibility of my life. I became a Mom. I knew that I was going to be doing it without the help of the father, but the force was so strong to have my son, that no matter how scary it looked, I knew what I was going to do. I was 23 when I made that choice and the moment I did that, everything began to change.There have been so many out-of-this-world, amazing things about being Blaise’s Mom, more than I can name or count. I would never change the decision that I made, but that doesn’t discount the fact that it hasn’t been easy. While I watched my friends and siblings travel, go out to concerts, bars, events and parties, I was at home wiping butts and working long hours to pay for childcare. That’s been my reality for the past four years.

Now, almost five years later and single for the first time in quite a while, I feel like I’m getting a second chance at re-living my early twenties. My son is getting a little older and can do more things on his own. We’ve been so blessed to be able to live in the epicenter of a thriving city and as I look out my window to the busy streets of Downtown Denver, I feel my heart race. “There is so much to do! So much to see! So many new friends to meet! Adventures waiting to be had!”

I’m ready to get intimate with what makes me uncomfortable.

I’m ready to get out, meet people and just HAVE FUN. So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to what I’m calling “30 Night’s Out”. I’m committing to go out one night a week for 30 weeks. It may sound silly to some of you, some of you maybe not, but it’s a big undertaking for me and I’m super excited to see what happens! Why not have fun with it and write about my experiences?

What about you? What makes you uncomfortable? I’d love to hear from you! If you have any ideas about what to see and do in Denver, let me know! I’m up for anything…well, almost anything. 

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How To Write Goals That Actually Last

imgresDo you ever feel like you’re being pressured into writing amazing, over-the-tops New Years resolutions by articles and the blogosphere? I do! If you do too, have no fear, this post is different.

I found an awesome article by CD baby founder, Derek Sivers that I wanted to share just with you. It is a must read and inspired this post, so please don’t leave here without clicking on that link. He knows what he’s talking about much more than I do.

I’ll admit it, I’m a goal person. I’m that person with the sticky notes and vision posters all over their door, walls and bathroom mirror. It can be obnoxious at times to say the least, but it’s how I operate. Over the many years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen some goals sprout into fruition and some…not so much. Well, I wanted to figure out why some do really well and why some peter out.

I don’t know about you, but when I first go to write down a goal it’s a very sexy experience for me. For example 1 of the 10 goals that I have tacked to my door right now is “sell 10,000 CDs in a year”. That’s a pretty biggie sized goal and it gets me going…for about 5 days. Then the let down happens. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with me wanting to sell 10, 000 CDs, what I am saying though, is that because I write such sexy, attractive and good-looking goals, I tend to get intimidated by them. Sometimes I even discover that they’re not I really what I wanted, in the end.

Rule # 1: Have The Courage To Admit That You Don’t Like Your Goals

It’s OK if you realize that you don’t like one of your goals or many of your goals. You are not a failure for writing goals that flop. Just be honest with yourself, go back to the drawing board and re-write your goals. It should be something that really speaks to you and that you are willing to work every day for. You are a changing, fluctuating beautiful mess of a human being, so your goals must  also do the same thing; change, fluctuate and be messy sometimes.

Rule # 2: Write Smart Goals That Pertain To You

These are your goals, no need to perform for anyone. Take the time to really sit down and see how achieving this goal would play out day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute in your life. In an interview I just did with Ann Rea she says to “have a smart goal that you are working towards and a plan that’s committed to writing. A smart goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. That’s a smart goal”. What does a smart goal look like to you?

Rule # 3 Go For The Long Term. Don’t Worry About Being Sexy

Goals truly become sexy when they are loved over a period of time. They become ravishingly beautiful when they are attained and achieved. They are like the velveteen rabbit. The more time you devote everyday to spending face time and snuggling up with your goals, the more real they become. My intention this year is to make my goals a reality, one day at a time.

So…there you have it, goal making 101. Not really, but it’s a start. Please let me know how your goal making is going and if this post helped. Leave a comment below or reach out to me on twitter @stephanieault. Happy 2014 everyone! Best of luck in the New Year!

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Come Home

Stephanie and Blaise-33

“There are two realities to which you must cling. First, God has promised that you will receive the love you have been searching for. And second, God is faithful to that promise.”-Henri J.M. Nouwen

For the longest time, maybe forever, I thought that people were supposed to create a home or a place for me. I didn’t feel like this earth had room for me or that God knew what to do with me. I lived with the belief that I would have to be invited in to something in order to belong somewhere. This made me a very anxious, agitated, resentful and sometimes angry person.

Over the years I have been “adopted” into many homes and families and have even created my own family, but still have this deep and very real sense of feeling misplaced and unwanted.

I thought maybe by being a mother and creating a home for someone else, that I could finally feel a sense of security and restfulness. But this is not so. I’m sure for those of you who have entered into a relationship, marriage or other semi-permanent agreement know what I am talking about.

We tend to do these things. We tend to fantasize about the future and what it will do for us or create for us, or how it will change our lives. These things are not bad things. However, I’m realizing that I must come home. And home does not appear because of someone else, or because it’s Christmas, or even because we have a tangible house to live in. Home happens when we walk into a deeper understanding of ourselves. Home is wholeness. It is the realization that God’s love is enough and that we are enough.

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Beauty In An Unexpected Place

IMG_0941I woke up a year ago in Big Sur, CA and found myself face to face with this black beauty. My sister and I had gone to the Monterey Music Festival the night before and wearily galumphed to her friends house in the wee hours of the night to crash. When we arrived all was darkness, but she assured me that it was a beautiful place. I didn’t really care, I was just tired. But in the morning, I found that she was right. We were surrounded by breathtaking greenery and mountains that enveloped us in their warmth and stature. There was such a happy beauty that I had not seen the night before because it was concealed in darkness. Sometimes our lives can feel like we are making our way through a thick black blanket of intense confusion and isolation. Bumping and fumbling around, trying to find our way. But there is an internal compass inside each one of us that is a laser beam into the darkness, not a floodlight which can be too overwhelming, but a concentrated laser that shows the way. If you are feeling like you are supposed to walk forward in something, or move a certain direction in your life, but you are scared because you can’t see straight, know that you are not alone. But also know that you can ask for wisdom and wisdom will be given. You can ask for guidance and a light will illuminate your path. You can ask for support and support will come. Just ask. And if it doesn’t come right away, don’t be discouraged, for it will surely come. You are an heir to the throne. The answers and provisions are there for you to do what you need to do and desire to do with your life. If you don’t show up and walk into what you are being called to walk into, the world will be a little less without you and so will I. Who knows, you may just find beauty in an unexpected place.

What one thing can you do today to direct your laser into the darkness?

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Why Did The Bad Things Happen? Living With An Unoffended Heart

images-1It can be really difficult to understand why certain things have happened in our lives and why other things that you thought would happen and have  invested time and effort into, end up never coming through, or falling apart. It can feel like God is cold, stern and uncaring or just aloof. It can feel like there isn’t a God at all, or that you’re not good enough and so He turned His back on you or something. I know, because I struggle with this a lot. But I am going through a season now where I am tired of being so closed off to Gods love. If God really is love, then I not only want to feel His love, but I have to feel it to live. I need my Fathers love to survive. I’m just not going to make it through if I don’t get that love from Him that I am so longing for deep down inside. As Kim Walker says “I cannot afford to carry anything in my heart that would stand in between me and His presence”. So many painful and confusing things, things that just don’t make sense, have happened to me in my lifetime. And I have spent more than a decade trying to make sense of it all and I’m just so exhausted. I need a rest and I need some love. Do any of you feel that way? Do you need a rest? Do you need some love?

I stumbled upon this amazing speech given by worship leader, Kim Walker. I transcribed the part of her speech that touched me the most and also posted the video below so that you can see for yourself. The entire sermon is really moving and I would suggest that if this post is relevant to you, that you watch the video. The segment that I transcribed starts around 18 minutes in, but the whole thing is really good. Enjoy!

Kim Walker:

“I had some different challenges that I walked through in my childhood. When I formed my relationship with God and found out how big and how powerful He is, I suddenly could not fully understand why did all the bad things happen? God, in all His power, He’s so big, He’s so strong. He could have done something to stop it right? And going and saying ‘but God, why did all the bad things happen?’ I’ve gone and talked to lots of people over the years when I start talking about this. People who have gone through trauma or loss and different things and they have that same question burning inside of them, the ‘why?’. And to be quite honest, I didn’t really hear it talked about a lot in church, or anywhere because I don’t know if people just didn’t have a great answer. But I realized at some point that this is what was happening; I could only get so close to God. I was so hungry for Him, but because my heart, I was living with this offense in my heart. This offense that He didn’t look how I wanted Him to look and He didn’t show up how I wanted Him to show up. He didn’t even show up when I wanted Him to show up. And I just couldn’t understand, I still had that question burning ‘why did all the bad things happen?’

Suddenly, when this revelation hit me, I realized that this thing, this offense was standing between me and Him and was preventing me from getting closer to Him. It’s like I hit this breaking point where I was so desperate to be closer in His presence, that I just hit this moment of breaking down and said ‘God, I want you more than I want the answers.’ And it took me a long time to get there and it was a fight. And if I’m really honest with all of you today, that is still something I do everyday. Everyday I still say, ‘God, I want you more than I want the answers’. Even though I don’t understand, He and I may have some long conversations when I get to heaven, but right now I cannot have any offense in my heart. I cannot afford to carry anything in my heart that would stand in between me and His presence. I had to make that sacrifice, to lay it down and to put it aside and to say ‘God, my hunger for you far outweighs my hunger for understanding, or for the answers, or to have it all perfectly clear in my head.’”

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Forever Expanding: A Bugs Life Part 2

images“Thought means life, since those who do not think do not live in any high or real sense. Thinking makes the man.” -A.B. Alcott

Have you ever found yourself starting out the day in a good mood, but by mid-morning you feel like you are waning? That was me today and yesterday…and maybe the day before that. Normally, I am very loyal to positive thought, but as of late I’ve been having some really tough “tell it to me straight” conversations with myself that have me thinking not so great thoughts. The good news is that I can shift my emotions and change my thoughts, but in order to do that, I need to find the root of the discomfort and I think that I did.

Autumn is approaching, bringing transition and change and as life shifts gears I start to panic. When change is tapping on my window and transition is ringing my door bell, all I want to do is go into my room and throw a quilt over my head. Do any of you ever feel like that? With every shift in season I have discovered an inward pattern. I tend to “chart and graph” myself in my head and every three months, as if on cue, I scrutinize exactly where I am on my invisible chart. Most of the time, I am disappointed with myself. I think thoughts like “I’m not in the place that I had hoped I would be by now. I’m not married, climbing a career ladder or financially stable like everyone else”. These thoughts can do a lot of harm and so I must look within.

I am on a journey. We are all on a journey. And much like the bug that I talked about last week, we are growing wings and getting ready to fly. This sort of thing is constantly happening to us, because life is going through birthing phases, mid-life phases and death phases on a mathematically consistent basis. In fact, Quantum Physics research has discovered that the human body is in a perpetual state of renewing itself. Dr. John Hagelin, Quantum Physicist and public policy expert, sums it up nicely when he states that “It is our thoughts and emotions that are continuously re-assembling, re-organizing and re-creating our body. In fact, parts of our body are replaced every day, other parts take a few months, other parts a couple of years, but within a few years we have a brand new physical body.” It is scientifically proven that our thoughts are so powerful that they are literally re-creating our physical body and every other condition present in our life.

So, I was thinking about that little bug a bit more and I came to a conclusion. Natural law aided in his growth to grow wings in order that he may live. However, the bug himself made the choice to fly and a choice starts with a thought, one thought. He took a risk to try something that he was not sure of and had never done before. We too must welcome thoughts of courage to help us to take risks if we are ever to really live. Let us not just slump to work, slump home, go to sleep and do it all over again. We must make a decision to thrive and be fully alive every single day. It is not always an easy choice as I described earlier in my story, but what I would say to myself is this, “Stephanie, you are doing so good. Maybe you haven’t hit every goal post and conquered your check list, but who you are is amazing and who you are becoming is beautiful. Don’t give up!”  What choice can you make today to be brave and to take a step towards changing your thoughts and changing your life?

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Forever Expanding: A Bugs Life Part 1

“In order to grow we must obtain what is essential for our growth” -Charles Haanel

Being the mother to an almost 3 year old boy means knowing some things about bugs. A few months ago when spring sprang up, so did the insects and so did my sons fascination for them. Blaises’ growing interest meant my ever evolving research and time spent on really weird bug blogs. During my time on the really weird bug blogs I came across an intriguing piece of information. There is a certain type of insect that can grow wings and fly away to a better home if the plant it is living on starts to die. This imagery stuck with me for several months. I wondered, if a regular bug could transform itself into a flying bug after sensing that its habitat was dying, then are we not able to do something like that too?

Scientifically speaking, Nature is under the law of growth and so are we since we are a part of Nature. Recent studies have shown that our Universe is forever expanding and that creation is expanding with it. So what does this mean? This means that like the bug, you and your surroundings are in a constant state of growth and transformation. If something is deteriorating in your life, for example your job, your health, your finances or a relationship that is dragging you down, there is no reason for it to stay that way. I’m not saying fly the coop, but I am asking you to take a deeper look at a situation that may seem hopeless. You have the right to a life of heath, wealth, love and harmony while you are on this beautiful Earth. And I say this to myself too because I really need to hear it. The point that I am trying to make is this: Instead of unconsciously allowing a continual pattern that is any less than ideal to be present in your life, take second look and question it.

Sometimes one door closes in order for another to be opened, but you must take the risk in admitting if something is not working for you. Stop right now and ask yourself “Is there something in my life that is bringing me pain, grief or frustration?” or “Is there a door closing in my life that I need to allow to be closed?” It may just be that what you thought was a curse is actually a blessing in disguise, pushing you to grow wings and to soar.

To Be Continued

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Are You Lying On A Nail?

“One of these mornings you gonna rise up singing. Yes, you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky, but until that morning, there’s nothing can harm you, when sweet daddy is near you, standing by.” -Louis Armstrong singing “Summertime”

Sometimes it can be really easy to slip into discouragement. I have a large slab of brown paper tacked to my wall with pictures of goals and dreams on it that I look at everyday. The more I look at it, the more I wonder how any of it can possibly happen. My dreams look so huge. How in the world am I going to get from here…to there?

I feel like I’ve tried just about everything. I have done the ambitious bit, moving to New York in hot pursuit of getting what I want. I’ve begged, pleaded and tried to coerce God to provide for me in tangible form the images on my paper slab. I’ve gotten ecstatic about life and down and out about life. I’ve watched The Secret and even read books by Joel Osteen, Rhonda Byrne and Lisa Nichols, what’s next…Anthony Robbins? All in pursuit of the deep desires of my heart.

So what’s the problem? Why do I still feel stuck, confused and like my dreams are always just out of reach?

Here is a story that I came across recently in Lisa Nichols book No Matter What! It grabbed my attention so completely that it prompted me to cultivate a moment of brutal honesty with myself. In this moment I had a long talk with Stephanie and took inventory of where I am, why I am here and what I need to own about my current state of affairs. Once I did that, it started me moving forward again. Thank God!

One day, a man walked past a house and saw a little old lady rocking in her chair, a little old man reading the paper as he rocked next to her, and a dog lying on the porch between the two, moaning as if he were in pain. As he passed, the man wondered silently what the dog was moaning about. The next day, he walked past the house again. He saw the old couple rocking in their chairs and the dog lying between them, making the same pained sound. Puzzled, the man promised himself that if the dog was still moaning the next day, he’d ask the old couple about it. On the third day, to his distress he saw the same scene: the little old lady rocking, the little old man reading, and the dog in his spot moaning piteously. He couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he called out to the old woman, “what’s wrong with your dog?”

“Oh, him?” she said. “He’s lying on a nail.”

Confused by her reply, the man asked, “If he’s lying on a nail and it hurts, why doesn’t he just get up?”

The little old lady smiled and said in a sweet, grandmotherly tone, “Well, honey, it hurts just enough for him to moan about it, but not enough for him to move yet.”

Talk about a wake up call! Reading this was like someone dumping a bucket full of ice cold water over my head. It made me realize that I had been living my internal life, my thoughts and my feelings about my future, in a drunken stupor. I took a sip of that fantasy poison every time I hit a speed bump in life and recited my cheap anthem over and over “When I get my dream job, dream man and enough money to do what I need to do, then I’ll have enough motivation to…” The problem is, after years of silently thinking these thoughts, I found that every time I approached what I expected to be a dream forthcoming, I would come upon it only to find a mirage disappearing in my grasp, plunging me even deeper into the cup of my sherry fantasies.

So what now?

Well, this is the sobering part. This is the part where you ask yourself “What is my nail?And am I moaning about something in my life that I could truly choose to get up from and change?”. Be honest with yourself. If you lie to yourself, the person you are hurting the most is you, because you have to be you and you will always be you! Might as well be the best you. Please don’t confuse honesty with beating yourself up or throwing yourself under the bus. Honesty is true love for the person you are becoming and the man or woman you desire to be. If we’re not honest with ourselves about where we are, then we will never be able to get to where we want to go. Think of it like this, picture a map laid out in front of you, really picture it and put your finger on the place where you want to end up going. You can see your final destination on the map and all of the routes leading up to that destination point, but a map is useless unless you know where you are on the map. Once you locate where you are on the map you can take the route that is right in front of you.

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Rise Again

I have recently embarked on a journey to make sense of some of things that happened to me in my past, much like one who struggles to understand mass homicide or war. It makes no sense, but somehow we try to make sense out of it. I’ve been running over events and circumstances in my mind intent on understanding why some prayers were answered and why others were not. Why people who I so needed to love me did not give much or could not give at all. And why I find myself repeatedly coming back to the same place of unwanted conditions being manifested in my life. Why do I keep reaping a sour harvest?

“What is the Truth about Who I Am?”

This has been a question that has knocked on the walls of my thoughts for many months. And as I follow the cord back to the wall and contemplate these all-important questions in silence, I have come to unearth a greater understanding of some of the answers. Here is one of them that I will share with you. It may seem simple at first to the intellectual mind, but when understood and accepted emotionally and sub-consciously, it is extremely profound.

“My past is not who I am; it has only helped me to become who I am.” -Lisa Nichols

Every single thing that has happened to me in my life has been a set-up to success (if viewed in that light). Just as an astringent can burn uncomfortably by pulling up to the surface all that was buried deep inside, so are the circumstances of life. They evoke what is hidden and give us the chance to develop our Spiritual muscles and to become more. Unfortunately, a lot of people (myself included) do not have a proper understanding of this law and are moving through life as if they were bumping around in the dark. It is therefore our right and responsibility to learn the Truth and to reclaim our birthright. We have the right to know who we truly are.

All of the people, places and events that this life inevitably brings can and will arouse the amazing attributes of our beautiful inner being when we make the choice to view those circumstances as an opportunity to grow and learn rather than a chance to play victim to unfortunate events. I played the victim for many years of my life and found myself in some frightening, dysfunctional and far-from-the-truth situations. When I began realizing that this was a pattern, I was able to admit to myself that I was choosing to think and react in certain ways and was thus forming yet another undesirable pathway that I would have to walk down. So it is true that the “sower will eventually have to reap the harvest of what she has sown”. Jesus was very wise, but so were many other teachers that have come and gone. And who knows, maybe you are one of them. What is your truth?

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” -Confusius

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Wonderful (The Way I Feel)

“Wonderful (The Way I Feel)”

It matters to me
Took a long time to get here
If it would have been easy
I would not have cared

Like a tropical forest
Like a cop on the beat
When all is in order
You get lost in the heat

I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel

Doesn’t matter to me
I could take it or leave it
I could learn from way back when
And still live right now

With the sun on my shoulder
And the wind in my back
I will never grow older
At least not in my mind

I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
So wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel

I’m going where there ain’t no fear
I’m going where the spirit is near
I’m going where the living is easy
And the people are kind
A new state of mind

I’m going where there ain’t no police
I’m going where there ain’t no disease
I’m going where there ain’t no need
To escape from what is
Only spirits at ease

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