Parallel Lives

Amos passed a Hispanic family, the father driving and smoking, the mother looking out the window with a wistful expression on her face. Amos, couldn’t swallow, so dearly did he wish to be one of them…Why does this happen to us? Because we have abandoned an infinite number and variety of pure possibilities, and perhaps they live alongside the choice we did make, immortalized in the cosmic memory. Perhaps there are unknown lives walking alongside ours, those paths we didn’t take, and we reach for them, we ache for them, and don’t know why. We have, none of us, lived our lives as we ought to have and maybe that’s a good working definition of sin.  God doesn’t care, the angels don’t care, no one is mad at us for our failures. But what agony, to know our better selves, the life we might have lived is there, just out of reach! ~ Amos Townsend – The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel

It’s not often that I quote a fictional character, but this quote has stuck with me since the first time I read it. It’s as if Haven Kimmel was speaking directly to me when Amos said these lines.

My whole life I’ve wondered these kinds of things – what if I were there instead of here, what if I were born to them instead of these people, what if I chose x, y, or z and what if – I don’t.

I’ve always wondered why we make the choices we do, why we choose red, instead of blue? Choice. What’s behind the choices I’m making?

Some might say it’s destiny/fate/insert some god’s name here behind the choices we make.

Some say that our entire lives are lived in an effort to become more whole, more of our own true selves and if we don’t choose to move forward in life, the universe will catapult us in that direction anyway. How could that be? Some say that our psyche drives us toward the things that will heal us or help us find our piece/peace in the world.

What is not brought to consciousnesscomes to us as fate ~ Carl Jung

What if there are unknown lives living alongside us and we could capture them if we make a different choice?

What if?

What if  – is the question that for me leads to anxiety. Too much information. Overload. 

Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck on a loop, in a cycle, where I keep making the same choices over and over.  Why? I take it as a sign that I haven’t learned an important lesson that I’m supposed to learn.

Sometimes I can’t get to the real question because I keep asking – what if?

What if all you had to do was make one choice differently?  What would it be, would I even think about it or choose without thought, to see if destiny/fate/failure/lesson-learning was true? What would you do?

Resistance Training for the Mind

The greater the tension, the greater is the potential. Great energy springs from a correspondingly great tension of opposites ~ Carl Jung

When you want to get your body in shape, you run, you do resistance and strength training and you get better, faster, smaller, firmer, more fit. Feel the burn, it’s good for you.

What I call resistance training for the mind is what Carl Jung calls Holding the TENSION of the Opposites.

When I first started trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do in this life, someone suggested I hold the tension of the opposites.

I didn’t quite get the meaning, until I got the meaning.

If you are constantly doing, seeing, going, deciding, choosing  without pausing –
you likely aren’t doing much of anything.

If you aren’t aware of what your unconscious (shadow) is doing – you may be sabotaging yourself when you jump to a decision without spending some time with yourself before you jump. Sometimes, you may not have that luxury – burning building, jump out window – but many other times we do have the luxury and we don’t pause, we decide based on our patterns – our history. If we become aware of what is underneath our decision (shadow) we can see things through a clear lens – what our choices are and why we are making them – this sometimes leads to creating a new pattern for yourself, which is more meaningful.

If you choose too soon, you may make a decision out of desperation and not out of consciousness.

A few weeks ago, I had two potential career opportunities on the table, both beckoning and calling me, for different reasons. I had to decide which one to take and soon. Pausing and thinking was maddening, make the choice already! I pulled out my manifesto and my values to think about what’s important to me for the future.  Holding the tension of the opposites, this and that, the yes and the no – I got to a point just sitting, not doing, not thinking – my legs began tingle, tears fell for no reason, and soon the reason became clear – all my life, most times unconsciously – I’ve made choices that drop me into chaos and craziness – because it’s what feels comfortable.

That’s not right for me anymore and not the choice I want to consciously make.

It was instant and clear what was inline with my values and what wasn’t – and saying no to what isn’t inline with my values is clearly what I want to do. But – why was I resisting it?  Because change is hard and what feels comfortable is easy.

I paused some more and reminded myself that re-imagining and reinventing myself takes something different happening, choosing a new pattern.

If you keep ending up in the same place, with the same issues, with the same thoughts, holding the tension of the opposites when you make your next decision, might be a way to move past those things and choose something in a new way.

This is resistance training for the brain. Feel the burn.

I still find it challenging, but the more I do it, the better I get at it and the better choices I make.

Where can you hold the tension of the opposites and resistance train your mind?


A few years ago, I went on a hike and was crying by the end of it – disappointed that I wasn’t in a place physically that I could get up and go for a hike whenever I wanted. So –  I decided, I could keep complaining about not feeling fit, healthy, good about my body, or I could change it. I could wake up in three years saying, I need to exercise or I could wake up in three years and say – I’ve done it!

I’ve been exercising  pretty consistently, but always half-heartedly, getting on a treadmill doesn’t fill me up, but I like to eat, drink wine, feel healthy, fit, go for a hike whenever I want, run, ride, jog, with ease. So that’s what I was doing, walking, running, ellipticalling, strength training my way to fitness.

After I lost my job, I had a lot of time on my hands and some days just wanted to turn my brain off.

I decided to start a six week fitness challenge to try to change things up and get more fit faster.

In these exercise classes, you have to turn off your brain, your body demands it and so does the instructor – eek.

I tried body pump, athletic training, spin, power sculpt, muscle blast, and finally step – which i don’t recommend for anyone who does not know or want to know what the word CHASSE is – I’m also not coordinated enough to GET the moves – it was miserable and a little to perky.

I like most classes I’ve tried, but athletic training at 24 Hour Fitness gives you the most bang for your buck. It’s pure insanity, burpees, baby burps, squats, jump squats, sprinter abs, planks, push ups, and 100% PURE sweat, drive, and determination.

The six week challenge has now turned into a lifetime challenge, because I’ve fallen in love with exercising HARD CORE! 

So, in the last 8 weeks, I’ve taken 26 exercise classes and run 42 miles, sometimes I’ve tried two classes in one day. To me, that doesn’t sound like I’ve done enough now, but it’s a start. I found what works for me, FINALLY!

I’ve haven’t lost a ton of weight, but my body looks different, feels different, is different. My double chin that sometimes hung around is nearly gone. I’m different too. Different – because again I’m realizing over and over that life is about choice, you choose how you are in the world and how you operate, all excuses dissolve into choices. Little by little, you can change your life.

I know that soon, I’ll be working again and I’ll have to choose to keep this in my life, but I’m certain I’m going to DO IT! 

What is it you want? In three years what is IT that you want to wake up and say – I DID IT!



Sometimes something happens in life that breaks you wide open. It usually has to do with LOVE or a RELATIONSHIPCracked down the middle. Something beautiful happens on the other side of this breaking, but in the moment it’s a brick wall pushing you up against realization, your choice – break open or break down.

When we enter relationship with our work, another person, our family – we sell each other a message of who we are. When the other person, all of a sudden, doesn’t live up to that, or changes, we’re upset by it. What we’re not thinking about, is that it’s not only on them to communicate what’s going on, it’s on us to be paying attention. Sometimes we choose not to, because it might be painful, or we don’t want to change, but whether we want it or not, change is going to happen.

Relationships when they break or change, leave you – alone. One side goes away thinking, did I make the right choice? and the other one goes away rejected.

This is the place –  the point – where one, or both of you, can be broken open.

Breaking open to be forever changed in a meaningful way. To learn something and integrate it into your life.

Breaking down – bitter, angry, vindictive, victimized.  While feeling those emotions is good, holding onto them doesn’t bring change.

Breaking open can transform those emotions into something more meaningful – love, compassion, understanding of yourself and maybe even the world.

When breaking open, you take part of the responsibility of coming to the table with an open mind and heart, not only about them, but about yourself. You are engaged and notice where they are changing and where you are changing and decide if you want to work together, to stayto create a meaningful relationship, or not.

If you’re not in a relationship where this can happen or it’s already ended, it’s your opportunity to have this dialogue with yourself and decide what is right for you and to bring that to your own table.

The world is changing rapidly, in realtime, due to social media, and this change signals that it’s time for all of us to begin having more meaningful conversations and to stop waiting for the other person/people to join in or catch up or become the person you want them to be.

Whether you choose to stay or to go, quit or not, discuss or not – open your mind and heart to whatever you choose and live it, breathe it, feel it, let it transform you. It doesn’t matter if it ends, changes, stays the same, you have the power to make it more meaningful. 

Break open or break down? 


I was reading Seth’s Godin’s writing session, Extending the Narrative this morning and it spurred a question in me.

Everyday, for me, right now is a new beginning. It’s an exciting and also horrifying time. Who wants a new beginning EVERY day? Do II DO!

The bottom line of his dialogue for me is this:

“The truth though, is that doing what you’ve been doing is going to get you what you’ve been getting.”   “Is this a reflex that’s part of my long-told story, or is this actually a good decision?”

It’s exactly what I was talking about the other day in my session “For Safety

I want something different, not more of the same, so I have to change, what do I need to change? I’m not sure yet. That’s going to come in time. Am I willing to dig deep to figure it out? I hope so – wait, that’s more of the same – Yes! I am!

Changing yourself, changing your mind, changing what you want in life – is it such a bad thing if it happens more often than not?  I’ve been told all my life that you can’t change this or that, it’s just how it is. But what if you can? and What if you did? Scary, right?

I used to get an expensive haircut, it was important to me. I love my hair stylist and loved how I looked when I came out of there. I always thought that I’d never go to another salon, but when I started to change my mind about things and wants and needs, my haircut didn’t matter as much as having more money in my pocket. My story was, if I pay a lot for this haircut, I’ll look and feel better, now that I’m not paying as much, I realize, it wasn’t true. 

What if it’s all an illusion, all a story we tell ourselves. What if you don’t really need that latte everyday, that next level of education, that new tech gadget, or that <insert whatever it is for you> to be who you are in the world?

What if you can change the world? Your world.

Spring is here, it’s time to push forward with new energy.  

Change? Evolve? Or Stay the Same??


To move your life forward you sometimes need a push, or a shove, or to finally realize the choices you’ve been making don’t serve you anymore.

Four weeks ago, at work, I drew a line in the sand and said what I thought and what I believe to be true, not what someone wanted to hear, but exactly what I thought.  I felt in my gut that if I did this I might be fired. I did it anyway, because it was the right thing.  Anyone I asked said,

“Oh no, you’ll never be fired for that!”

Somewhere deeper than I can explain though, I felt it, I knew this choice might just tip the scales.

The GIFT was knowing it was the right thing and could cause a problem and still doing it.  To speak up after all these years of not really speaking up, not just at work, but in life in general. The consequence of not speaking up this time was too great.  I was losing myself and my voice.  Feeling lost is not enough for me anymore.

I WAS fired just shy of one week ago today.  I feel fortunate that even in the moment when I was being fired I understood that it too was GIFT and a choice.   A push, a challenge – to be true to myself, to say what I mean from the most authentic place inside myself.

I never, ever imagined that there would come a day when I would say that I was fired.  I’ve worked since I was 7 years old and I’ve never once been fired. But, now that I have been, it’s one more thing I don’t have to fear.  I thought this was the worst thing that could ever happen and now I realize it’s not, I’m sure there is something worse.  I get the opportunity to reinvent myself, become a little better than before and to be more authentically me.

I do wish the conversation would have gone a bit differently, more genuine, but that was their choice. Now it’s my choice how I deal with it.  I’m a little angry and bitter and am letting those feelings run their course instead of stuffing them back like I would have years ago.  I know I’ll be fine, everything ALWAYS works out as it should, even if it’s a tough road to get there, or the end is not as you expected.

Here’s to what’s next in the world, what’s now. We can have whatever we want in life, we just need to ask for it, to choose it.

I’m not quite sure what the future holds, but I’m asking that whatever it is, it allows me the time to finish my book – oh and it has to be amazing.  Definitely.

Because of my new found freedom, I’ll have the chance to write more and I’ll be posting here two or three times a week, I promise to keep them shorter than this one and hopefully, they’ll be interesting to you.

What do you want to ask for that you think you can’t have?

What PUSH do you need to move forward?