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Officially a Toddler

officially a toddler

Who misses their own business anniversary? This gal.

Who got to celebrate with a great group of ladies two days late over the inter-webs? This gal.

It’s all good.

I feel as though I’ve walked a thousand miles this past year. Nothing near what Jesus accomplished, but hey, it was totally worth it. I’m sure Jesus felt his 7,300 miles (20 miles per day, on average – I Googled it) was worth it, too.

Anything challenging is often what we most need and, also, what we find is most worth it to us in the end. Isn’t that the truth?!

I launched The Unleashed Heart, LLC January 8th, 2019. So, my business is officially no longer a baby and is now a toddler! Lol! Hopefully, there aren’t too many temper tantrums on the horizon, but I expect some along the way. If I think about her (my business) as a toddler, resistance is bound to happen. But, if 2019 prepared me for anything, it laid the foundation for allowing. There doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war, power struggle always going on. I get to choose to be proactive and allow, or armor up and resist. 

At the time of the launch, I had created Living Unleashed™ and launched it simultaneously with the website. Two months later, I would set out on an emotional and spiritual experience that I couldn’t have fathomed would’ve changed my life as it has.

This past year has led to some fantastic experiences, opportunities, and friendships that have felt so timely. My heart was cracked wide open in 2019.

Between Grief Recovery Certification, Usui Holy Fire Reiki Levels I & II Certification, The Unbecoming Collective Accountability Group, and the things I planned in 2019 for 2020, I can say 2019 was my exponential growth year.

2019 was the year I:

  • Launched a new business (my 3rd)
  • Overcame 30+ years of grief
  • Booked and took a solo trip (to Austin, TX) for the first time
  • Connected more fully to my heart
  • Experienced spirituality in a way I had never before (maybe even for me – for the first time)
  • Fully believed and embraced that we are physical beings here on earth, having a spiritual experience. I had heard/read this many times before, but this year was the year I feel like I felt it for the first time.
  • Helped other hurting hearts navigate their grief and feeling what fulfillment felt like for the first time.
  • Felt alignment for the first time – in who I am and what I am here to do
  • Experienced Reiki for the first time. Mind-blown. All I gotta say is you have to experience it, and you’ll get a sense of what I mean. It’s bizarre, the most relaxed I had felt in ages, and it’s healing that can’t be seen – only felt.
  • Forged new friendships
  • Got out of my comfort zone and started speaking in front of people (I hadn’t done that since speech competition in high school).
  • Gave up alcohol. So far, so good.
  • Felt like I became a wiser parent (Grief Recovery & inner-work helped with this).
  • Wrote a blog post every Friday and newsletter every Wednesday for 52 weeks – and counting.
  • Started a daily meditation practice – 26 days and counting.
  • Gave up on running. I’ve narrowed down my daily preferred body movements to either yoga or a 2-mile incline power walk (and, I swear I burn more calories doing this than I ever did running 2 miles flat).
  • Signed up for Usui Reiki Master Certification (I can teach with this certification)
  • Had an amazing (first, big) family vacation with those I love dearly

I could probably think of more if I sat here a bit longer, but, for the sake of finishing this post, I’ll stop there.

We don’t celebrate our lives enough. The past year was amazing, extremely challenging, and rewarding. And I honestly cannot wait to see what I can write for my 2nd Anniversary blog post!

So, enough about me. How about you? Have you reflected on 2019, celebrating, and finding the light – even in the darkness?

Growth, for me, won’t stop just because the calendar flipped, and we entered a new decade. I have a feeling this is only the beginning.

much love, victoria

 

The Guidance is in the Silence

guidance in the silence

There is one thing we can do, that can be challenging to find (especially working parents), but is always available to us if we make it a priority – silence.

If we consider how much time we spend watching television, on our phones, or listening to and taking in other media (podcasts, audiobooks, or music) – we can likely find ten minutes to find some silence.

Silence is one of my favorite things. During the day, if I’m working from home, I rarely have the television on, and, if I have music, it’s music for concentration.

We don’t need to practice meditation to discover solutions to our most pressing problems (although it is beneficial for that). We don’t need to ask every other person in our life for advice. All we need to do is get quiet, silently ask ourselves what our hut (heart + gut) is trying to tell us, and bring awareness to how our bodies respond to the situation at hand that is keeping us stuck.

This concept may sound simplistic, but I feel like I complicated making decisions for much of my life. I struggled with making the wrong decision; thereby, indecision became the natural thing to do. The one thing that changed was I started getting intentionally quiet and started asking myself better questions – digging more deeply into my heart to find the answers.

So, how do we tap into our inner-knowing (our hut)?

There are many resources out there and various ways of tapping into our hearts. Tapping (no pun intended), for example, is one way. Journaling is another way to free-write your way to answers to your most pressing questions. There are lots of journal options out there with journal prompts, if free-writing isn’t your thing. You could also check out the app, Jour: Journal for Mindfulness, if digitally, at your fingertips is a preference.

The main point is to ask, get quiet, and allow what comes to you, being open to receiving guidance from your inner-knowing.

Does this all sound woo-woo to you? Before 2014, I would’ve probably blown this off. But, I was also very disconnected from my heart, too. There is so much wisdom within us that we rarely (if ever) need to look to outside sources. Sure, an in-depth conversation with a friend can spark a thought, idea, or solution. But, nothing replaces connecting to our own heart. That is where our truth is – and no one knows that better than we do ourselves.

much love, victoria

 

Guard Your Heart

guard your heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you think of your treasures as being your time, money, feelings, beliefs, how do you want others to treat them? How do you want others not to treat them?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.   – Proverbs 4:23

Think of your heart as the home of your treasures. Wouldn’t you value your treasures and do all that you can to keep them protected?

It is the things we don’t value that we don’t worry about guarding. However, if we think about the treasures of our heart as a bank, we’d have the security around our bank pretty tight, right? At least, much tighter than that of a junkyard.

What happens though, if we’re raised not knowing or believing this? What if we grow up not feeling treasured? What if we are victims of sexual abuse? What happens to us when traumatic childhood experiences impact our treasures?

We neither grow up knowing what it means to feel treasured, nor do we know how to treat our treasures moving forward. Our boundaries are trampled on, and we do not learn or know how to positively create and enforce personal boundaries.

What do you think happens to the soul and heart of someone who doesn’t protect their treasures?

Think about all the scenarios where your time had been taken for granted, where it was assumed you would “take care of it” because well, you always did. Think about all the relationships you’ve gone through, only to find yourself time and time again, with someone who continues to participate in self-destructive behavior. Only, it’s not self-destructive, because being with that person impacts you, too.

How about when our beliefs and values are criticized? We often find ourselves giving in to others and conforming to the beliefs and values of others, too, because we haven’t learned how to speak up for ourselves. We may not even know what we value and believe. Or, may think things about ourselves that are not true, too.

Let the Past Be a Teacher

We must recognize when our treasures are being invaded and take steps to learn ways to enforce boundaries around our hearts. Every transgression against us can leave an imprint that may take years (or decades) to erase. Making our hearts a priority in well-being changes the game of life – it changes our lives.

We often learn through traumatic childhood experiences that giving, giving, giving is expected – there’s something within you for the taking. But what do we learn to give ourselves during those years? Not much. It isn’t until adulthood, where all the awareness of what was lost comes to light – and where healing needs to take place.

I’ve gained much awareness about boundaries that I did not have growing up. This awareness has taught me exactly where boundaries were necessary for my well-being. Taking time for ourselves isn’t selfish. And, speaking up for what is not okay with us, enables us to become more confident. There is so much power in boundaries — which are less about control and more about self-love.

In what ways do you recognize that your time, money, beliefs have been disregarded or lost altogether through boundary inflictions? In what ways have you ignored your established boundaries for the sake of others? 

I’m not saying to close up your heart; quite the opposite. You see, when we learn and establish boundaries for ourselves, we give from a place of freedom and love, rather than from a place of guilt or fear.

Need a little help as I did in the boundaries department? I highly recommend the book Boundaries. It is an eye-opener. It was also the perfect follow-up to the internal work I’ve done (and continue to do) in grief recovery. You can find Boundaries on Amazon or with the companion workbook here.

As we get ready to flip the calendar to another year and another decade, what do you wish would be there for you? Perhaps some boundaries to guard your treasures? You don’t have to wish, my friend. The beauty of moving into 2020 is that knowledge is always within reach; education is literally at our fingertips. There are so many resources out there for growth; it’s mind-blowing if you think about it. We are living in a time of great fortune, because, how fortunate are we to have the access that we do?

There is no excuse not to grow these days. And because growth is a conscious choice, I challenge us all to think about the areas of our lives where growth is necessary to our happiness. I have several books on my shelf to choose from to read next (I just finished Boundaries, yay!) and I’m having quite a difficult time deciding. But one thing I know to be true is this: I do not regret choosing growth. Grief recovery work, and other means of growth, have directly impacted all areas of my life. I feel so darn good about going into 2020, which is a stark contrast to how I was feeling going into 2019.

How about you? In what areas of your life do you want to grow in 2020?

Onward and upward, friend. If you want to grow in your heart and release and let go of the pain that is holding your heart back from growing, you know where to find me. <3

much love, victoria

Abundance is in the Mind

abundance

Happy Friday, friend!

In a recent meditation, the word abundance came to mind. The thought that followed was the realization that our abundance is in our minds.

When we think about abundance, our minds often think about tangible things.

I wrote the following passage in my journal after my meditation, and it completely shifted my view of abundance — just like that. Admittedly, this isn’t the first time I’ve probably heard or read something similar to this, but today, I don’t know — it seemed to stick like glue. So much so, I felt the need to share it, in case it may help shift how you see abundance moving forward, too.

Abundance is in the mind — literally. Our minds are full of so much knowledge and experience; giving us the capacity to dream, problem-solve, and co-create with our creator. It’s a brilliant and complex gift – all this abundance – already there and, too, waiting to be discovered. Abundance isn’t only about wealth, attainment, or the material things of our world. What if we viewed abundance as being our knowledge and unique life experience that sets the foundation for creativity, ingenuity, and growth? What if we fully believed and felt abundance is already ours and always there for us? We would feel limitless. We would be limitless and act is if we were limitless.

So often, I’ve found myself focusing on things without much attention — to the intention. It’s a mindfulness practice to daily check-in with ourselves, giving some intentional thought to what we’re focusing on at the moment. I’ve struggled lately with this – what I’m focusing on or giving my thoughts to, and having this thought about abundance today helped me zoom out a bit to the bigger picture.

I am abundant because I AM abundance. And, so are YOU. I don’t know if you need to hear this, too (as I’ve found myself saying this a few times this week to others), but as the entrepreneur, Marie Forleo says: Everything is figureoutable. And, it is, because you’ve got all the abundance of knowledge you already need, the experiences only you know deeply, and the ability to tap into it all – any time you need. Any questions you find yourself asking others, grab yourself a paper and pen, write those same questions down, and sit with them in silence with zero distractions. Allow yourself to uncover (and discover) the answers for yourself. Remember, you’re abundant.

Did this resonate with you? If so, please share! I’d love to dig into this more deeply with you in the comments. 🙂

much love, victoria

 

 

 

P.S. I’ll be speaking this Sunday, December 22nd, at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Edgeley, ND, during their 9:30 service, if you live in the area. Learn more about grief in 25 minutes than you’ve likely learned your whole life. xx

 

Not So Happy Holidays

grief and holidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you feel sad around the holidays? A lot of people do. The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time surrounded by loved ones and about joy and good cheer. So why do many people have a hard time? For some, there was a loss around the holidays, so it’s a reminder of someone they loved passing during that time. Or, being around others who have their loved ones, is a reminder of the loss of a special relationship. And, for many, it’s the first holiday without their loved one.

As you can see, there are many reasons why this time of year can be emotionally charged and challenging. There is a lot of stimulus touching your heart in its most painful spot. With all the holiday hustle and bustle, someone in this situation will either prefer to isolate or become the organizer and entertainer. In the process, you are using the holiday busy-ness as a distraction.

What is a stimulus, and how does it relate to grief?

Stimuli consist of the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes that trigger our memory. It causes your brain to recall events or feelings associated with the stimulus. Stimuli such as holiday lights, decorations, and music can cause you to remember a family member who died, a break-up, or childhood experiences. Fond memories are normal and healthy. Unresolved grief is when fond memories turn painful.

For example…

The same stimulus can affect two different people in two different ways. Let’s say two sisters hear a Christmas song that was a favorite of their mother, who died.

One sister might hear the song and remember how much her mother loved it. She may miss her mother for a few minutes, but then she goes back to what she was doing. The song served only as a reminder of how much she loves her mom but didn’t affect her entire day.

The other sister might hear the song, think about how much she misses her mother, get sad, and be unable to focus the rest of the day. She might walk around feeling numb and unable to participate in holiday festivities fully. Or she may refuse to talk about anything other than her mother’s death.

The second sister is an example of unresolved grief.

A personal example I have is my dad always used Old Spice after-shave. And, not so very long ago, I was visiting my mom, and what did she have in her medicine cabinet in the bathroom? A bottle of Old Spice after-shave. I never asked her about it, and I don’t have to – I already know why she has it in there after all these years. Perhaps it’s still the same bottle left from my dad – I don’t know.

Another personal example is when my dad would change his colostomy bag. That smell is burned into my brain. And, although that’s not something that someone would smell on the regular, when I have, throughout my life smelled something even remotely similar, it takes me back in time. And, it’s not a particularly happy memory at all.

I have so many examples of this. I’m sure you can think of some of your own as well. Reminders can be all around us at times. During the holidays, it can just feel overwhelming.

Even at Thanksgiving, I found myself talking about Cabbage Patch dolls. What came up for me, at that moment, was how the first Christmas after my dad died, I received two cabbage patch dolls in the mail from who, I don’t know. All I know is, I can think of these things now with gratitude with how far I’ve come in addressing the grief around losing him. The grief never goes away – it just changes, as does my response to it. I’m not dwelling, ruminating, and feeling stuck in that grief rut as I had been all those years prior.

How do I know if I’m experiencing unresolved grief?

The holidays may remind you of any number of losses, such as moving, events that happened during childhood, an ex-spouse, a sick child, or a pet that died.

If a Christmas tree reminds you of the fun holidays, you spent with a loved one who died, that’s normal. If you then become brokenhearted over the loss of your family member due to fond memories turning painful where your entire day is impacted – that’s unresolved grief.

Unresolved grief affects your ability to stay in the moment, which limits your capacity for happiness. During the holidays, it might limit your ability to enjoy time with your friends and family fully. Some people avoid holidays altogether because they don’t want to risk the feelings associated with painful reminders of their loss. Until you become complete with the losses in your life, you will never be able to enjoy all life has to offer fully.

Unresolved grief may be at the root of any fear associated with thoughts or feelings about a relationship. – The Grief Recovery Institute

 

What To Do Instead When Grief is Causing the Holidays to Suck

The Death of Someone Important to You:

  • Don’t Isolate Yourself. It’s normal and natural to feel lost and alone―but Don’t Isolate―even if you have to force yourself to be with people and participate in normal activities.

 

  • Don’t misuse food or alcohol to cover up or push down your feelings. As children, when we were sad about something, we were often told, “Don’t feel bad. Here have a cookie, you’ll feel better.” The cookie doesn’t make the child feel better, it makes the child feel different, and the real cause of the sadness is not addressed. When we get older, alcohol and drugs are used for the same wrong reasons―to mask feelings of sadness.

 

  • Talk about your feelings, but don’t expect a quick fix. It’s essential to have someone you trust to talk to about your memories and the feelings they evoke. Ask your friend to listen to you and not try to fix you. You’re sad, not broken; you need to be heard.

 

  • While it’s important to talk about your feelings, don’t dwell on them. Telling the same sad story over and over is not helpful it can establish and cement a relationship to your pain. Better to make a simple statement of how you feel at the moment. For example, say, “I just had a sad feeling of missing him.”

 

  • Time doesn’t heal—actions do. The myth that time heals a broken heart is just that, a myth. Time can’t heal a broken heart any more than air can jump into a flat tire. Time goes by. It’s the actions you take within time that can help you feel better.

Death of a Spouse or Divorce:

  • Just because you feel lonely doesn’t mean you’re ready to start dating. Don’t start dating while your heart is still broken, or you will guarantee that the next relationship will fail. Being prepared to date again is a function of the actions you take within time to repair your heart – whether you’re dealing with a death or divorce.

 

  • Don’t get too busy—avoid hyperactivity. Be careful not to get too busy. Being super active distracts you, it doesn’t help you deal with your broken heart.

 

  • Maintain your normal routines. Adapting to the changes in your life following a death or a divorce is an enormous adjustment. You are learning how to move from being with someone to being alone. It’s never a good idea to add a host of other changes while you’re trying to adapt to so much disruption in your life.

 

  • Go through the pain, not under, over, or around it. It’s very tempting to try to avoid the pain associated with a broken heart. But it’s also a form of self-punishment. Whenever you skirt the pain, all you’re doing is pushing it away temporarily. It will always come back to haunt you.

 

  • Find practical guidance, or you will sabotage your future. While the grief of a broken heart is the normal reaction to the death of your mate or the end of a romantic relationship, it’s constructive to find effective tools to help you discover and complete everything that was left emotionally unfinished. Otherwise, you will drag your emotional baggage into the next relationship and ruin it before it starts.

 

For most people, the first holiday season after a death or a divorce is the most painful. But that’s not true for everyone. For many, the second, third, and subsequent years are excruciating. Since time doesn’t heal emotional wounds, people often report feeling worse the more years that go by. No matter when your loss occurred, it’s most important that you become aware that recovery is possible and to learn which actions will help you.

If you’re dealing with a death, go to the library or bookstore and get a copy of The Grief Recovery Handbook. The principles and actions of The Grief Recovery Method have been used by more than a half-million people to help deal with the impact of the death of someone important to them.

If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a divorce or romantic breakup, go to the library or bookstore and get a copy of Moving On. The principles and actions in it will help you deal with your broken heart.

If your children are struggling with a loss of any type and any level of emotional intensity, go to the library or bookstore and get a copy of When Children Grieve.

P.S. If you are ready to take action towards resolving what is emotionally incomplete for your children (and receive grief education like never before), there is still time to save your spot, at a reduced rate, for a future Helping Children with Loss group program. Click HERE to reserve your spot!

P.P.S. Also, just for funsies, if you KNOW you want to (or plan to) participate in a future in-person grief recovery program (1-on-1 or group), here’s your incentive to commit yourself and your heart. Click HERE to check out this and the other discounts i’m offering through Cyber Monday (12/2). There is no expiration on this offer – so, the next time I provide a group in your community, you’ll be all set. Or, we can set up a 1-on-1 asap, too. I actually need two more 1-on-1 clients. Then I will be able to pursue additional training that will enable me to offer grief recovery ONLINE (which will be HUGE, given my geographical location and the interest I have throughout the state of ND and beyond)!

much love, victoria

 

 

 

 

*portions of this blog post are adapted from The Grief Recovery Institute blog

Speak Your Truth

speak your truth

Do you know how kids tend to have no filters? Well, maybe it’s about time we adults remove the filters we have around our grief.

Notice how I didn’t say feelings? Yes, all emotions are valid and have value; however, the one I am most concerned about is the feeling of grief. I mean, I am the grief lady, after all! Lol!

In all seriousness, though, this phrase has almost felt like a mantra for me this week. Such as, when I felt myself cower and shrivel a little when I felt my values and integrity were being challenged. Respectfully, I stated my case, stuck to my values, and slept well that night.

Or, in conversation with my accountability group that consists of a beautiful, supportive group of women from all walks of life. This theme popped up for me again as women shared how particular challenges were arising and causing them feelings of grief. Although grief was not the word used, grief is what we feel of relationships that we wish would be/had been different, better, or more.

Also, the courage the women in my current 8-week grief recovery, showed when they shared the truth of their sorrow and pain.

Speak your truth, to me, is not some modern, new personal-development phrase to throw around. When I say it to someone else or when you say it to someone and ask the other person to share their truth with you, you must mean it. Because what is shared back is their truth. And, if you’re not a heart with ears, prepared to hear it, and know what to do with what’s said, then please don’t ask them to share it. And, when someone does speak their truth, thank them for sharing – that’s all you need to do. Don’t analyze, criticize, judge, and by all means, do not compare your story to theirs. Honor their truth with a thank you for sharing and ask if they accept hugs. Hugs are good for the soul; they release the good chemicals in the brain, as do tears. Allow those healing droplets to flow.

Care to speak your truth and need a heart with ears? Speak your truth in recorded audio and email it to me at victoria [at] theunleashedheart [dot] com. This idea isn’t a challenge or anything, and neither the audio nor the email address attached to it will be used in any other way. Sometimes, we need to give our truth a voice and need someone to hear it – and nothing else. If this applies to you, I’m all ears.

much love, victoria

 

 

 

P.S. I shared in this social post that I would share what’s next for me this next year in this week’s blog post. Between the time of that social share and sitting down to write this week’s blog post, I felt this topic was what I needed to write, rather than a reflection-of-the-year post that I thought I would write. At any rate, know that I will share a blog post probably next month, I think, where I will do a recap of the year and what I see for 2020. We will soon enter an entirely new decade – are you ready for it? I personally can’t wait! xx

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