Powerful Life Lessons: A Birthday Reflection

It’s my 44th birthday today.

As I reflect on my life and prepare for my 45th trip around the sun, I’d like to share a few of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned… lessons that have helped me get to a place where I can embrace life as an adventure that I’m navigating with curiosity and compassion.

Sometimes I flow through the matrix gracefully, while other times it’s pretty damn messy. And I realize that it’s the discomfort of the mess that sprouts the opportunities for discovery and growth. So instead of resisting, the practice of leaning into the discomfort, and finding peace in the midst of it, is the most powerful practice of all.

Prioritize Curiosity

My number one mantra, for both myself and my clients, is “I approach myself and the world with curiosity and compassion.”

When we prioritize being curious over being right, and when we ask more questions than voice answers, we put ourselves up on the fast track for discovery, growth, and set ourselves up for a life filled with awe and wonder.

I find that the more I learn, the more I know I don’t know. And the more I know I don’t know, the more I want to discover, which makes life a hell of a lot more interesting!

We Are Human BEINGS First & Foremost

I was a human DOING for much of my life, basing my worth on what I accomplished, and believing that fulfilling my life’s purpose (to reduce the human-caused suffering of animals) was based solely on what I did. 

The spiritual path I have been on for the last many years led me to the understanding that by realizing my inherent worth, as a soul inhabiting this human body, and then focusing on being present, connecting with my “higher self,” I can more through the world with much more peace and ease. And the more peaceful and at ease I am, the more my actions (doing) are aligned with my purpose, and the greater impact I can make.

The Goal is Not to Feel Better…

“The goal is not to feel better – it’s to get better at feeling,” is a concept that I was introduced to by Michael Brown while reading (and following the protocol in) The Presence Process

The result of adopting this mantra is that we get to stop constantly looking for ways to numb, hide, or distract ourselves from negative emotions in unhealthy, self-sabotaging ways (e.g.  eating junk, endlessly scrolling through Instagram, over-working, over-eating).

We get to step into our power and live life fully, because we don’t get to experience happiness without knowing sadness, and the more we can embrace loss, the deeper we get to experience love. That’s the nature of this adventure we call life.

Mindfulness is foundational for Holistic Health & Wellness

The only way to gain awareness about the unhealthy habits, patterns, and programs that keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves is through mindfulness. 

Yoga has been instrumental in helping me practice mindfulness, which is the foundation for the self-coaching I use and teach, and that helped me overcome the depression and disordered eating that plagued me for a decade in my early adulthood.

Mastering mindful eating, specifically, has been a game changer for me and countless clients, both for upleveling overall health and longevity, AND for losing excess body fat and keeping it off without stressing over calories and macros. 

Love Wins

By embodying love and compassion for ALL beings on earth, and making decisions from a place of love instead of fear (as those are our two options), is a win-win-win-win. There are no downsides. 

For me, veganism is all about love and compassion. It’s about moving through the world with the intention of doing the most good and the least harm. 

Love wins. Period.

Dear Introverts…

I wrote the following article on June 18th, 2022, four days after I returned home from my trip to the Temple of the Way of Light in Peru…


I’m coming to understand why it was necessary for our extraordinary facilitators to take the time and energy to prepare us for what they call the “integration process,” upon returning home after our 12-day Ayahuasca retreat.

As I understand it, explained by our shaman at the Temple, the healing power of “the medicine” (Ayahuasca) is activated during the ceremonies (we had six of these over 11 nights), and then continues to work over the weeks and months to follow in various ways. 

In addition to following certain guidelines, like avoiding alcohol, cannabis, psilocybin, spicy and ice-cold foods, it’s vital that we take time, and give ourselves space to process the inner-knowledge and discover information that will continue to unfold.

My overall intention for my trip was to recover from burn-out and my addiction to “doing,” release the blockages that were fueling my depression and restlessness, and embody inner-peace and freedom. 

Part of my “doing” addiction included being in a constant state of learning from people I idolize as top thought leaders, changemakers, and solutionaries, through books, talks/lectures, and podcasts. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with seeking knowledge from gurus who have devoted their lives to attaining, embodying, and sharing their truth in ways that positively impact the world!

The problem was that I hadn’t given myself the time and space to embody what I was learning.

Determined to break my destructive patterns, during the 12 days at the Temple of the Way of Light, I devoted myself to giving top priority to simply BEING. No phone. No laptop. No internet. No messages. No media. No contact with the outside world. No digital anything. 

We had ceremonies. We had group meetings. We had individual check-ins. We shared. We were silent. We spent time reflecting. We ate food void of salt, oil, sugar, and spices. We read. We wrote. We sat with ourselves. We sat with nature. And that was it.

Today I decided to go to a group movement session at my Budokon sensei’s backyard studio, which was to be followed by a potluck.

I realized about halfway through that I wasn’t ready to be surrounded by people, much less share my experiences.

So when the movement portion ended, and the potluck began, I quietly excused myself.

On the scooter ride home I felt a wave of emotion take over me. Tears started streaming down my face, and the thought, “What is wrong with me?” came into my mind.

It’s a thought I’ve had a lot throughout my life, only this time, it was immediately countered with my true Self saying,

There’s nothing wrong with you!

I then took a mental step back with my conscious mind, to explore the thoughts continuing to stream from my subconscious programming…

Why can’t you just relax and have a good time like everyone else? You’re insecure. You have so much to work on still! You made such a huge investment in time, energy, and money to go on that trip and now you’re back and haven’t changed a bit! What the hell?!

My conscious mind stepped right back in, and this time, with total confidence she declared…

You are who you are, and who you are is perfect. You are enough. So what if you don’t want to hang out with a group of people. YOU DO YOU! Let peace be your north star. You make decisions about what you choose to DO based on what aligns with you BEING PEACE. Fuck the “shoulds”. Fuck the thoughts that judge what you need to do to be at peace. Remember when you found peace during that 2nd ceremony? It was when you finally let go of what you thought you SHOULD be experiencing… when you let go of needing to be in control. LET GO. LET GO. LET GO!

And with that, I let go, and I smiled from my soul. I found peace at that very moment… The peace that I am, that got buried under the “shoulds”. 

I love spending time alone with animals and in nature. I love connecting with my spirituality through movement, music, books, and talks. I value spending time with one, or a few close friends. And I often get great pleasure being out, in settings where there’s great energy and many people involved, especially when we’re all focused on energy-based practices such as yoga, meditation, and dancing.

I don’t need rules or restrictions. I simply need to connect with, and follow, my heart. I need to value myself and love the human being that I am, unconditionally, and make the choices that allow me to access my inner peace.

Simple?

Yes!

Easy?

No way!

It WILL get easier though.

Learning to let go is a practice, and practice I shall.

And now, for a letter to myself, and introverts everywhere…


Dear Introverts,

There is nothing wrong with you.

Who you are is perfect.

You are enough, exactly as you are.

We live in a society that venerates extroverts, and programs us to believe that introverts are less lovable, less valuable, and have less to offer the world. 

Fuck that!

Bull shit.

Let go. Let go. Let go.

You are lovable.

You are valuable.

You are powerful.

The world needs you.

 

With Compassion for All Living Beings,

Ella

Time to Celebrate! (EP 100: The Vegan Life Coach Podcast)

Celebrating the closing of Season 1 with 100 episodes under our belts!

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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.


Celebrating the closing of Season 1 with 100 episodes under our belts!
Grateful to you, Empowered Vegan Lifers, for being a part of our lives through this podcast and our programming.
In this episode, Stephanie and I share the lessons of our podcasting journey, what inspired us to create 100 episodes, and intriguing answers to the questions: which episode is the MOST…
🎙️💫 Entertaining
🎙️💫 Valuable in terms of the self-coaching tools we teach
🎙️💫 Spiritually awakening
🎙️💫 Practical for the transitioning vegan
🎙️💫 Informative on the topic of nutrition
🎙️💫 Heartwarming for animal lovers
🎙️💫 Most inspiring for embodying every aspect of the vegan lifestyle
And there’s more! Stay tuned to the end for a special celebratory gift from us to you!
P.S. Make sure you’re on our email list and a part of our E.V.L. group on Facebook. So you get updates on things we’re doing like the Burpees & Greens Challenge we’re doing altogether, live, in April.
P.P.S. If you haven’t yet, please leave us a star rating and review… Even though we’re taking a break, the show remains published. Having positive reviews will continue to help us and help you to spread our message of empowerment, authenticity, and compassion. I know it feels like a pain in the booty, and it’s easy to say; I promise I’ll get to it later. And we all know that later often becomes never, right?

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE


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Interested in working with us? Email [email protected]

Check out our new FREE Master Class!

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Grab the valuable gift we have for you HERE.

Have a question you’d like us to answer, or feedback you’d like to give us (we love hearing from you!)? Leave us a voice (or written) message HERE.

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Leveling Up to Solutionary Veganism (EP 99: The Vegan Life Coach Podcast)

To be truly solutionary, a solution must significantly and strategically address the underlying causes of the problem. It must do so without causing harm to people, animals, or the environment.

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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.


Solutionary vegans level up by:
↗️ questioning the “true price” of their actions by asking, “what are the impacts of my everyday choices on other humans, non-human animals, and the planet?”
↗️ diving deep for accurate information (truth)
↗️ (inclusive) building coalitions by supporting and amplifying the many important, beautiful, diverse voices for change.
↗️ Prioritizing high-impact strategies that revolutionize systems
…so that we can effectively advocate for ALL beings.
In this special episode, Jennifer and I dive deep into our soon-to-be-launched “Solutionary Vegan LEVEL-UP podcast.” Here we explore the inspiring range of strategies used by animal protectors, environmental activists, and social justice warriors to LEVEL-UP the playing field for all Earth’s inhabitants. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Find out how working with Stephanie and me, and the tools we teach in Vegan Life Coach Academy made a difference in Jennifer’s personal growth and ultimately led to Solutionary Vegan Project.
Listen, learn, and enjoy!

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE


CONNECT WITH US!

Interested in working with us? Email [email protected]

Check out our new FREE Master Class!

Take Our New Going Vegan Quiz HERE!  

Grab the valuable gift we have for you HERE.

Have a question you’d like us to answer, or feedback you’d like to give us (we love hearing from you!)? Leave us a voice (or written) message HERE.

Interested in receiving a free coaching session to air on an upcoming episode? Apply HERE.

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The Art and Science of Journaling (EP 98: The Vegan Life Coach Podcast)

Here’s a little trivia question for you…  What do Albert Einstein, Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiVinci, and Frida Khalo have in common?  They all benefited from a daily journaling practice. The fact is, I could fill this episode with a long list of recognizable people spanning centuries and in all walks of life who have implemented journaling into their daily routines.

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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.


This powerful tool is something we often require for our clients.  The scientific research to support journaling is extensive and compelling.  It is a key strategy for personal development for a variety of reasons.  Here’s what the research says:
  1.  According to a study conducted at Harvard, implementing a practice of journaling can increase productivity.  The reason behind this is that an experience itself is not where learning and growth occur. It is, rather, reflecting on the experience that actually produces the learning and growth.
  2. Another study conducted at Cambridge University found journaling improves overall well-being after traumatic and stressful events. Participants were asked to write about such events for 15–20 minutes resulted in improvements in both physical and psychological health.
  3. Other studies have found that journaling decreases emotional distress, improves sleep, helps us cope more effectively with daily stress, decreases intrusive and avoidant thoughts, and improves communication skills.
Clearly, journaling is one of the most effective acts of self-care. It allows us to make sense of the many inputs—emotional, external, psychological–that otherwise overwhelm us or cause us to shut down or lean into unhelpful distractions as a way to avoid.  We can bring our problems and destructive thoughts and leave them in our journals.
On the flip side, our journals allow us to reflect on our joys and all that we are grateful for.  It provides a place for us to record our inspiration, aspirations, and ideas.   We can write for our future selves.
Entrepreneur Derek Sievers says of his journaling practice, “We so often make big decisions in life based on predictions of how we think we’ll feel in the future, or what we’ll want. Your past self is your best indicator of how you actually felt in similar situations. So it helps to have an accurate picture of your past. You can’t trust distant memories, but you can trust your daily diary. It’s the best indicator to your future self (and maybe descendants) of what was really going on in your life at this time. If you’re feeling you don’t have the time or it’s not interesting enough, remember: You’re doing this for your future self. Future you will want to look back at this time in your life, and find out what you were actually doing, day-to-day, and how you really felt back then. It will help you make better decisions.”
So, let’s talk about how you can implement and keep this powerful tool as part of your self-care ritual. This is really the Art of journaling and takes the science and turns it into something that works for you.
Something we often hear from our clients is that journaling is just intimidating.  They don’t know how to start, and staring at the blank page is so uncomfortable. Other times, we’ve found that clients have let an established journaling habit go a bit stale.   So… here are some strategies to help you get started and keep it going.
  1. If you hear no other tip from me today about journaling, hear this one:  Forget all the rules about journaling and just do what works for you.  There is no ideal time of day except what is ideal for you.  Format doesn’t matter except what matters to you. How much time and space should you devote?  You guessed it…whatever works for you.  The point is, there is no right or wrong way to journal.  How you journal is much less important than why you are doing it: To get something off your chest. To have quiet time with your thoughts. To clarify those thoughts. To separate the harmful from the insightful. To prepare for the day ahead and review the day that passed. To practice gratitude in a tangible way.  And your WHY is personal and unique to you. So, I’ll say it again for the people in the back:   There’s no right way or wrong way.
2. Start small.  There’s no reason to set your sights on filling page after page of your journal each night.  Your journaling practice can start with one line a day or even three minutes each morning.  You could begin by simply listing three things you are most grateful for each night or a list of two priorities for the next day.  By starting small, you won’t say no.  It will be a task you will find exceedingly simple that you would feel silly not doing it, so you’ll do it.  For example, you might start with one line per day for a week.  You can write anything in that one line–something you’re excited about, how you are feeling, an event that took place, a mindset you want to attack, an idea you had, or an affirmation you want to implement.  However, you decided to start, start so small that skipping it would be preposterous.  You’ll know when you are ready for more depth and further commitment to this practice.
3. Journals can take many forms, and you may want to try a few.  You can do a bullet-style journal or a place to put your sketches along with a few words.  You might use your journal in the morning as a way to help you organize your priorities at night or in the evening to simply free yourself of the thoughts that are still cluttering your mind.  If you need some further ideas on formats, I suggest using YouTube.  Type in Journaling Formats, and you will find a wealth of specific ideas just for formats to use.
4. If you are having difficulty, try prompts or a guided journal.  We‘ve provided you with a list of prompts in the show notes.  Some of the topics are in-depth, some are light and silly.  You can use any format that you are comfortable with.  You might also find a guided journal is what you are looking for.  You can find guided journals that focus on one specific topic, like wellness, anxiety, self-discovery, building habits, and the list goes on and on.  One that I recommend that has a variety of formats is “Zen As F*ck” by Monica Sweeny. It is funny and a great way to help yourself not take life too seriously by letting go and embracing your inner rock star.  Of course, as you can guess by the title, it also embraces swearing just a bit, too.  I also recommend Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel. It’s full of inspirational quotes and prompts aimed at helping you be more mindful, reflect on your inner-most thoughts, and find joy in the small things. Prompts and guided journals aren’t just for those starting out in a journaling practice.  These can also renew your journaling experience providing a way to dive deeper and explore yourself a little more and in new ways through this powerful tool.
Give yourself this powerful gift of self-care. Marcus Aurelius (Aw-REE-lee-ius), Roman Emperor and prolific journaler wrote in one of his journals,  “People look for retreats for themselves in the country, by the coast, or in the hills “There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind…So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”

The Daily Dosing of Self-Coaching Segment begins at 13:55.


CONNECT WITH US!

Interested in working with us? Email [email protected]

Check out our new FREE Master Class!

Take Our New Going Vegan Quiz HERE!  

Grab the valuable gift we have for you HERE.

Have a question you’d like us to answer, or feedback you’d like to give us (we love hearing from you!)? Leave us a voice (or written) message HERE.

Interested in receiving a free coaching session to air on an upcoming episode? Apply HERE.

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Fun Time Q&A (EP 97: The Vegan Life Coach Podcast)

We haven’t done a Q&A in a while, so we thought it would be fun to do one for you!

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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.


In this episode, Stephanie and I answered some of the great questions that have been coming in by email, on Instagram, and through the Facebook group.
Q&A begins at 17:54.
We covered everything from making affordable vegan meals/snacks, to top recommended documentaries for new vegans and vegan-curious, to an intriguing discussion about new vegan “meats” like Impossible Burger or Beyond Chicken at popular fast-food chains, and so much more!

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE


CONNECT WITH US!

Interested in working with us? Email [email protected]

Check out our new FREE Master Class!

Take Our New Going Vegan Quiz HERE!  

Grab the valuable gift we have for you HERE.

Have a question you’d like us to answer, or feedback you’d like to give us (we love hearing from you!)? Leave us a voice (or written) message HERE.

Interested in receiving a free coaching session to air on an upcoming episode? Apply HERE.

Hogs & Kisses Farm Sanctuary Website

Own Your Impact (EP 96: The Vegan Life Coach Podcast)

“Mom, it’s just too big for one person. How can anyone make any changes that matter? Why try to persuade anyone to do anything when it just won’t matter?”

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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.


The Daily Dosing of Self-Coaching Segment begins at 7:11.
Transcript (Stephanie):
Indulge me a little.  I love being a mom, and frankly, I can’t be humble when it comes to my kids.  If you’ve been a long-time listener, you know my youngest, Eva.  She’s 11 and quite possibly the most fabulous human being on the face of the planet.  She recently took on a project for her language arts and science classes.  The assignment was to write a persuasive essay on a topic in science that they felt strongly about and then create a presentation from that essay to give to her fellow students as well as her teachers.  The topic she chose was climate change.  Could this mom be any prouder?
After writing her essay, she asked for help with her presentation.  And I have to tell you, she was more than a little defeated.  She said, “Mom, it’s just too big for one person.  How can anyone make any changes that matter?  Why try to persuade anyone to do anything when it just won’t matter?”
And you know what?  I could relate.  I know you feel me when I look at the world’s biggest issues and wonder how I can even make any sort of headway…any sort of lasting impact when I am just one person.  The word insurmountable comes to mind.
But right behind those thoughts came three words:  Own Your Impact.
A guided meditation I return to often is presented by Davidji on Insight Timer.  And the message is always clear to me.  I am never powerless.  Though I may be one, I am not immune to the responsibility of doing what I can where I can.  I am the author, director, lead character of my own life, and with every breath, I have an impact on my world. If it’s to be, it’s up to me. And it is important that I own that impact.
In talking with our clients and others in the vegan community, I know the world often seems so heavy.  But, what I also know is that we have far more ability to make a difference than we believe we do.  Small, consistent steps have a lasting impact, even if they may not be noticeable to us when we take them.  You see, we have a tendency to discount our actions as not being enough to make a difference.  And in discounting our actions, we often throw ourselves into that destructive pattern of all or nothing thinking which paralyzes us from taking further action.  Can you relate?
But time and time again, history proves us wrong.  Let’s go back to the global issue of climate change, for example.  Why is climate change a global discussion with companies, governments, and communities making widespread green initiatives priorities?  Because Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in bring about awareness?  Because Leonardo DiCaprio made an Oscar’s speech heard around the world?  Partially.  However, these efforts would have been rendered meaningless if it hadn’t been for the individuals who for decades have led the grassroots efforts of activism.  Thousands of community members around the world chose to own their impact…do what they could, where they were, with what they had…to bring about change.  Their small, consistent efforts collectively, lead to global awareness and movement.  And yet, none of these individuals likely saw the fruits of their impact.  These ordinary people who we will likely never see or celebrate created the foundations for immense shifts in our thinking, awareness, and actions about the environment on a global scale. And for every changemaker on the world’s stage, there are millions of individuals who make a difference just by making simple acts of conscience in their everyday lives.
And this is done by owning your impact.  By being ever mindful of those small, consistent actions that you make daily as a matter of personal ethics and conscience you contribute to the world’s good.  You own your impact with every choice you make.  As vegans and vegan curious, we own our impact at every meal we choose through compassion and sustainability.  We own our impact with every conversation we have regarding our choice to live in compassion for all beings.
As citizens of our communities and of our world, we are responsible to own our impact.  So let’s take this to a practical place.   How do you own your impact?  How does this work?
First, throw out your perfectionism and all-or-nothing thinking.  If the world needs you, and it does, you cannot get be bothered with irrational goals of perfection, becoming paralyzed by feeling that if you can’t solve the problem in its entirety, you cannot do anything about it at all.  Perfectionism leads to ineffectiveness.  Check out episodes 45 and 53 to dive in deeper here on taking care of perfectionism and all-or-nothing thinking.  Great strategies there, if you find yourself paralyzed by these.
Second, choose speaking up rather than staying silent.  Find your voice. This is so much more than just vocalizing your position.  Your voice is your courage, determination, and authenticity.  If you are having trouble connecting to that, start by asking yourself three questions:  1.  How do you want to show up in the world?  Really design what you want that to look like.  2.  What is my deeper WHY?  Connecting to that deeper why provides purpose. ; 3.  What is holding me back from using my voice?  This is what is keeping you from using your voice and owning your impact.
Next, see your daily living as an extension of your purpose.  It is the small, consistent choices that create our impact.  We own that by living in line with what we value most.  Every word you say has the potential to cause a connection.  Every meal you eat allows you another opportunity to live compassionately.  Remember, you are the author, director, and hero of your own story.  By taking that responsibility and living with intention, you are owning your impact.
Finally, choose to do something that will make your impact real and visible to you.  Volunteer at an animal sanctuary.  Join a climate change activist group and engage.  Teach your children about your values.  Buy with purpose by choosing products that are vegan, sustainable, and cruelty-free.  Donate your money to organizations whose mission aligns with yours. By getting involved, you are seeing your impact in ways that allows you to be connected to the change, thereby creating further desire to continue.
The truth is, everything we do impacts the world around us in some way. It may be directly or indirectly. Either way, not claiming ownership or responsibility doesn’t negate the impact. It only amplifies the risk of having a negative one. Therefore we must take ownership of our significance in the lives of others and the world around us.  You are powerful.  Beyond your imagination, you have meaning and purpose that no one else can give the world.  Own your impact.

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE


CONNECT WITH US!

Interested in working with us? Email [email protected]

Check out our new FREE Master Class!

Take Our New Going Vegan Quiz HERE!  

Grab the valuable gift we have for you HERE.

Have a question you’d like us to answer, or feedback you’d like to give us (we love hearing from you!)? Leave us a voice (or written) message HERE.

Interested in receiving a free coaching session to air on an upcoming episode? Apply HERE.

Hogs & Kisses Farm Sanctuary Website

Getting Off The Train to Nowhere: Dealing Effectively with Anxiety (EP 95: The Vegan Life Coach Podcast)

In this special episode, after an update on Ella’s exploration of cold exposure and the vegan dating scene, you’ll discover powerful strategies to help you engage with the root cause of anxiety.

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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.


Anxiety has been a relatively constant destination for much of my life.  It is as familiar to me as my hometown or any neighborhood I’ve ever lived in.  That fact is that as uncomfortable as excessive worry is, there have been periods in my life when it was actually more comfortable to be in an anxiety loop than to be out of one.  And if I was out of one, I would be worried about not being in one because that would somehow mean that I had missed something…I was late to the worry party…I was forgetting a key thing to worry about…I had missed the anxiety train.
I’m guessing there’s a number of you laughing right now.  First because, when said out loud, it sounds ridiculous.  But, second…because this shoe fits you, too.  You can relate to the endless hours or days of energy spent in useless cycles of anxiety, trying to be prepared for any and all outcomes.  You see, us worriers, we keep the world together with the power of our anxiety alone.  We have prepared for every single unlikely event by thinking our way into a frenzied state so that everyone around us can be calm, cool, and collected.  Don’t worry world!  We are doing it for you!
But let’s break this down a bit more seriously by looking at the thought processes that keep us locked in this train to nowhere.  Our brains get stuck when something isn’t quite tracking.  We have to come back to that incongruity over and over again because our brains like things to make sense.  When we engage in thoughts that produce anxiety, that is a signal that things don’t meet the logic test that our brains are built for; therefore we keep coming back to the spot where it doesn’t make sense in light of our experience of the world.
Most of our anxious thoughts come in the language of “What if…?”  We lean into the sense that something is wrong when the reality is that we are only posing the question to ourselves of “What if…?”  What if’s have no basis in the present and therefore, no basis in the objective reality.  What if’s are based in the future.  We are placing our minds in a future state trying to prepare for events that are not actually taking place.  We are trying to control the uncontrollable.  The truth of what if’s is that those gloomy scenarios and outcomes that we find ourselves trying to prepare for mostly never actually become reality.  BUT  the effects of this rumination DO become reality by taking their toll on our bodies and minds.
There are a number of physical ways that we can be completely hijacked by our anxious feelings and sensations within our bodies.  Headaches, digestive problems, shaking, nausea, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, tightness and aches in the muscles, fatigue, brain fog…these are all physical manifestations of anxiety.  Anxiety triggers our sympathetic nervous system, flooding our bodies with powerful hormones which are supposed to be reserved for actual, in the present threats to our safety. Further, we can engage in unhealthy coping behaviors to deal with this anxiety that leads to other physical problems such as turning to unhealthy substances or overconsumption.  I don’t know about you, but I used to think a few brownies was essential fuel for my fight or flight response.  Oh Not So!
Anxiety, by its very nature, can be all-consuming.  We become overwhelmed with a sense of dread. We can be too locked into that loop that thinking rationally seems nearly impossible.
BUT…there can come those moments of clarity when we come to it.  We can control the destination and step out of the anxiety train.  We realize that though we may not be able to control every thought that pops in our heads, we can control our responses to those thoughts. In this way, we finally come to the proverbial fork in the road.  This is where we can choose to employ some strategies to bring relief and congruence.  We can get unstuck and get on to more productive thoughts that have a basis in the present.
Of course, one strategy that we teach our clients, and we’ve presented on our podcast is our self-empowerment coaching system.  This is a system that helps build a framework for challenging those thoughts.  I would encourage you to go back to those episodes and lean into that powerful tool.
But, sometimes you need some tools before you can get to the logic.  The first one I will suggest is breathing.  Simple, easy, you’re doing it anyway, so focus in.  This works because breathing is always in the now.  It removes us from the future state. Focus on the in and out of the breath by breathing slowly and deeply.  This can have immediate and major effects because it is actually calming and slowing down all of our entire systems.  By calming the physical effects of anxiety, it allows us the space to then engage with the root cause of the anxiety…our thoughts.
I would suggest doing this by using a self-inquiry method.  This is from the work of Byron Katie.  I highly recommend her book, Loving What Is.  And it is just a checklist of questions to ask yourself to challenge the accuracy of your anxious thoughts:
  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know it is true?
  3. What happens if you believe this thought?
  4. Who would you be without this thought?
This checklist allows us to challenge whether or not our anxieties are based on facts and reality.  It then asks us to reflect on the harmful effects of choosing to believe the anxious thoughts.  Finally, it invites us to analyze how much better we’d feel without the anxiety…who we would be able to be if all the energy we are using in engaging in the anxious anxiety loop were placed somewhere else.
Challenging the thought brings us the benefit of breaking free from the thought.  It becomes so easy to think that our anxious thought is what is really going on in the world.  But the problem is that that thought is only what we THINK is going on in the world.  Yes…there are real-life issues, but when our thinking is clear.  When we are present.  We are actually better equipped to manage real-life, real-time issues rather than being locked in those made-up scenarios in our heads.

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Intentional Joy (EP 94: The Vegan Life Coach Podcast)

Following a talk about Ella’s recent experience (intense!) surviving an ice bath, Stephanie dives into a spectacular training on cultivating intentional joy…

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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.


Stephanie:
In a recent article, Reese Witherspoon posted some daily life improvements that she’s incorporating this year, including 1) Start the day with a big glass of water; 2)  Get 10 minutes of outdoor light; 3) Read for 60 min without destruction; 4) In bed by 10 getting 8 hours of sleep at night.
Ina Garten responded saying, “That sounds great but I’m probably not doing any of these things, LOL. My formula is easier to follow. 1) Drink more large Cosmos; 2) Stay up late watching addictive streaming series; 3) Stay in bed in the morning playing Soduko; 4) Spend more time with the people I love.  I do what I can in a pandemic.”
Of course, both lists are great.  But I think they come with two very different purposes.  The first from a place of self-improvement.  And the second from a place of genuinely sneaking in intentional bits of joy.
I think a lot of time we tend to look at ways to make our days happier by simply inverting what makes us unhappy.  We spend time trying to minimize the impact of unhappiness.  Essentially, we ask ourselves how can I prevent myself from becoming unhappy?  That seems a little shortsighted when you consider how that type of negativity impacts us daily.  Yes, we can build resilience and coping mechanisms to deal with that impact, but that’s not quite the same as being intentional about cultivating moments of joy, is it?
Joy is an experience of intensely positive feeling, usually characterized by a mixture of excitement and connection. (Dr. Nick Wgnall, a clinical psychologist who has a great podcast called Minds and Mics.)
Let’s pull this apart a bit.  Using this definition, Joy is an acute, relatively short-lived experience.  We experience moments of joy. Secondly, joy is intensely positive. It is above our baseline…above our normal state of happiness or daily living. It is experienced as a burst of intense positivity.
Looking further, joy is usually characterized by a mixture of excitement and connection.  Excitement can be experienced as passion, curiosity, stimulation, awe; while connection could be friendship or love between people or a sense of belonging with the world, nature, the universe, or even simply yourself.
So, by using this definition, we can provide ourselves a framework for intentionally building moments of joy into our daily life.  I would love to be able to give you a step-by-step strategy for this, but the truth is, being intentional about creating joy will require you to do a lot of introspection.  Joy is such a personal experience.  So, instead, let me provide you with a framework so that you can begin to point yourself in a direction to cultivate these moments for yourself.
Ask yourself some questions and take some notes on your answers:
What are my most authentic preferences in life? What do I really want?
This is an important question because so often what we decide we want is actually influenced by what others around us want or what we think we should want.  Do you enjoy playing softball or is that something your parents thought was a good activity and you’ve continued it into adulthood?  Do you like to hike or is it something that your spouse loves?  Not to say you can’t choose activities for other reasons, but we are talking about cultivating joyful moments for you so they must be authentically what you want and value.  If you find that you are often doing things that don’t come from a place of authenticity, maybe it’s time to shake things up!
Second Question:  What circumstances will allow me to experience my authentic preferences?
Oftentimes, the potential for joy in our most authentic preferences is dependent on the right circumstances.  Therefore, we must set ourselves up for these circumstances.  Be thoughtful about the people, situations, and environments in our lives and how they impact us when cultivating moments of joy.  If you enjoy that first cup of coffee alone in a still house, don’t wake up last minute and settle for convenience store coffee on your morning commute.  If you love to play Pickleball, don’t play with people who are hyper-competitive and will not allow you to simply enjoy the game.  Choose your circumstances along with your preferences for those moments of joy!
Finally:  What changes can I make in my life so that I spend more time in conducive circumstances enjoying my authentic preferences?
This might be the most challenging…bringing it all together.  But, here’s the real hope here!  Don’t get trapped into all or nothing thinking.  Inviting more joy into your life does not mean you need to turn your current life upside down. Find where you can make small changes to invite these moments in.
For example, say that your passion is playing jazz piano; however, you haven’t made time for that in many years.  The impact of the joyful moments that playing jazz piano will not diminish just because you cannot devote your entire life to playing.  Instead, finding ways to enjoy playing jazz piano in increments will increase your joyful experience by adding those moments to your life. Maybe that means spending 30 minutes at the piano every evening after dinner rather than watching tv.  Maybe that includes signing up for a jazz workshop on the weekend rather than taking the family camping trip you only kind of enjoy.
So, while I don’t have an entire strategy for you, I do have this urging.  After asking yourself these questions, try something.  Sneak that snuggle in with your sweet pup.  Blow off your latest book you “should” read for an indulgent novel.  Forget the yard work and go have brunch with your bestie every Sunday morning.  Build these rituals of joy into the framework of your life and see the impact they have on the quality of your living.

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Sean Russell is Making SoFlo a Global Hotspot for Veganism (EP 93: The Vegan Life Coach Podcast)

I had the pleasure of hangin’ with SoFlo Vegan Founder Sean Russell for this inspirational episode.

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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.


A dynamic entrepreneur with a knack for building communities, Sean Russell is a multifaceted professional with a vast background in technology, education, journalism, entertainment, and vegan advocacy. His track record as a vocal leader and storyteller includes 25 years of combined experience in public education and multimedia communications.
Sean’s career in education began at Broward County Public Schools where he served in various roles throughout his 16-year stint, including as a teacher, counselor, technology specialist, and administrator. During his tenure, he developed and managed the county’s first school-operated summer camp program and went on to serve as the district webmaster, coordinating marketing and communication initiatives for the sixth-largest school district in the country.
Pursuing his lifelong dream of entrepreneurship and boasting more than 10,000 hours of experience producing websites, graphics, podcasts, videos, live events, and managing organizations, Sean founded Lesaruss Media in 2007. His first broadcast venture under the Lesaruss flag, Anime 3000, produced six different podcast series focused on anime and manga, airing over 2,000 episodes and garnering one million downloads. He later co-founded music channel TopSpot USA, for which he managed and interviewed more than 300 artists including Neyo, Tyga, Pete Wentz, Fat Joe, and Jeffree Star. Other projects included work with premier entertainment brands such as Nickelodeon, Live Nation, Def Jam, Sony, and Nintendo.
Furthering his work in community advocacy and pioneering a hub for plant-based living in South Florida, Sean managed marketing and event production for FATVillage and the MASS District – Fort Lauderdale’s budding neighborhoods for culture, arts, and technology – as well as for Animal Hero Kids, a local nonprofit educating kids on animal welfare.
In 2017, Sean launched SoFlo Vegans, a multichannel platform and community with the mission of making South Florida a global hotspot for veganism. In this capacity, Sean has built a network of more than 250 partners and a reach of over 100,000 people each month. As a result, SoFlo Vegans has helped to propel vegan businesses across the region and has been a key player in producing and supporting over 200 events including Seed Food & Wine Festival, Vegan Block Party, and Heal the Planet Day.
Sean is a sought-after media voice, inspirational speaker, and guest lecturer. His featured appearances include profiles and contributions in outlets such as NBC News, Crunchyroll, Miami New Times, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, VegWorld Magazine, and more. Recently Sean appeared as a contestant on the hit ABC game show, The Hustler.
Currently, Sean serves as the CEO of Lesaruss Media, merging his expertise in community building, marketing, events, and media production to deliver results for clients in the verticals of veganism, education, and entertainment.
Sean is a graduate of Florida International University, where he majored in television production and minored in education.

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE


CONNECT WITH US!

Interested in working with us? Email [email protected]

Check out our new FREE Master Class!

Take Our New Going Vegan Quiz HERE!  

Grab the valuable gift we have for you HERE.

Have a question you’d like us to answer, or feedback you’d like to give us (we love hearing from you!)? Leave us a voice (or written) message HERE.

Interested in receiving a free coaching session to air on an upcoming episode? Apply HERE.

Hogs & Kisses Farm Sanctuary Website