Project U. Blog

Catherine Saar

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Authoring Your Life Story with Care

Posted by Catherine Saar on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 @ 04:22 PM

As a child, I always loved reading and writing stories, exploring the inner lives of others, and wrapping myself in the blanket of adventure that authors weave. Yet somewhere, along my journey, my alleged need for financial survival surpassed my desire for the magic of reading and writing stories. Instead, I earned a business degree, worked in finance and began “pushing the river” so I could achieve what I guessed success looked like. I donned my little grey suit and my Brooks Brothers blouse and became a conscientious and hardworking investment banker.

I believed that if I did the “right things” the “right way”, I would be safe from harm. Furthermore, if I cut off emotions, I wouldn’t get hurt. If I loved someone enough, they would love me back.

Years and tears later, I figured out that much of my day-to day existence was built on false assumptions that governed my thoughts and behaviors. Once I developed that awareness, I began to unravel the tangled ball of yarn that had become the foundation of my life.

I realized that whatever story I told myself is what I would manifest, so I’d better check into any narrative I had, to determine if it was true, or right for me.

For a long time, one of my favorite stories was that I was unlovable and somehow fatally flawed. As I navigated my way through one challenging relationship after another, my partners were often happy to corroborate that notion.

When I was in my late 40’s, I took a trip to New Orleans, and met a Tarot Card reader. He surveyed my cards, sighed a long sigh, and said, “ You have been unlucky in love, but it is not your fault. You are simply learning what you want in a partner - and, you will find it. The best is yet to come”

I believed him. His words, “It is not your fault,” resonated through my entire being. I adapted a new story based on his perspective: I wasn’t unlovable, I was learning! There was hope. I saw my world with possibility, and that changed everything.

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I still feel blessed to have been awakened to my narrative in such an offhanded way. For most of us, with or without Tarot Cards, it’s not easy to retell our story when we don’t even realize that we have one. I now know, that each and every day I craft a story about how I feel and what will happen next, so I take greater care in how I author these daily chapters.

Perhaps reading this, you may wonder if you also have a story – or several stories that keep you from yourself.

To that end, I ask, why not write a happier story? Perhaps a story that is kinder to you, and maybe to others?

Ask yourself:

· What story am I telling myself?

· What is another, more optimistic story that might also be true or truer?

· Then, close your eyes and imagine the new, happier story coming to life. What does that feel like? What becomes possible? How are you different?

Use your imagination and breathe into it. Allow it to live. Visit that vision and those feelings from time to time throughout the day.

Each time you open your eyes, remember that you too, are the author of your precious journey on this earth, so create with consideration, awareness and care.

Tags: journey, awareness, unlovable, manifest, inner lives, the right way, author

Eclipsing the Present Moment

Posted by Catherine Saar on Tue, Feb 06, 2018 @ 06:05 PM

As I drove toward my 6. a.m. yoga class, half asleep, I was startled awake by the deejay on the radio. “And in the Denver sky, we are now witnessing a total eclipse of the moon.”

I craned my neck so much that I nearly swerved off the road. As I drove north past some cloud cover, it became clearer and clearer that a little sliver of the moon was shining through from behind a dark disk…and that sliver was slowly growing larger.

Eclipse Morning Sky I was compelled to keep looking. I knew this eclipse was coming, but had been fuzzy on the details of when it would occur. How fortunate that I should be awake and be reminded at just the moment I could see it happen. I felt there might be a message in it for me.

I considered skipping class so I could continue to watch its transformation, but my Type A personality got the better of me, and I was soon inside doing the studio doing down dogs and chattarungas.

I rushed out of class 90 minutes later, frantically searching for the last vestiges of the blue moon. Sunrise had begun to brighten the sky. I continued my frenzied pursuit of the pale orb, and yet, it was nowhere to be seen.

All I could see were dense grey clouds swaddling the base of the peaks and the foothills in the distance. Above the grey blanket, Mount Audubon sparkled, its shoulders embraced by a clear blue-grey sky. Wow, it was beautiful.

I stopped myself from seeking the moon and dropped into the beauty that was now presented to me. It occurred to me that perhaps the moon and the sun had conspired to create this magnificent sky.

I realized that I almost missed the scene before me, because I was looking for the thing that was no longer there, instead of seeing what actually was. In my desire to hold onto the magic of the eclipse, I lost my connection to the magnificence and the possibility of the present moment.

This made me wonder, how else do I spend energy chasing circumstances that are no longer present? How about you? Where do you disengage from the here and now? To what end?

If there was a special message for me in this event, I think it would be this: Be here now, enjoy the gift of the present moment.

 

 

Tags: appreciation, inspired

The Value of Accepting Who You Are

Posted by Catherine Saar on Sun, Oct 22, 2017 @ 12:04 PM

I loved this video.  It is a great reminder that facing our fears opens the door to becoming all that we dream.  May you find your way to gratitude and acceptance of all you are!

 

Tags: Achieving goals, gratitude, facing your fears

It's Time to Bring Your Best Self

Posted by Catherine Saar on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 @ 12:07 PM

 Our world is presenting us with many challenges and opportunities at this time in history.  As technology brings us both insight and misinformation at a frightening pace, it is more important  than ever that we bring our best selves to whatever we do.  To that end, I am reminded of Marianne Williamson's profound words from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

It's time to shine your light. The world needs you now.  What is stopping you?  

Five Tips to Get Your Goals Back on Track

Posted by Catherine Saar on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 @ 10:48 PM

It's no longer early January.  And if you are like 50% of theiStock 000042811780Small population, you are beginning to slack off on the goals you set for this year. If so, try these five tips to help get you back on track:

1)   Abandon all or nothing thinking:

Perhaps you planned to workout seven days a week, or you hoped to get a new job by February first  - and now, those goals seem unrealistic. What about revising your plan to be more doable?  So many of us set enormous expectations that set us up for failure.  If we try to do too much too quickly, we can create goals that are very difficult to achieve and to maintain. And when we don’t meet our demanding standards, we give up all together.  Consider instead, that if you are doing even 5% more toward your goal this year versus last year, you will make progress.

What about harnessing the power of small steps to kick-start your journey?  Putting effort into your goal for even 15 minutes once a week is better than doing nothing at all. You can always add incrementally over time if you want to.  Remember the tortoise and the hare?  Slow and steady may be the best way to win your race.

2)   Use Motivation to fuel willpower

Many of us think that if we just had enough willpower, we could move mountains.  What we don’t understand is how to tap into our willpower.  While you may be able to force yourself to do something for a while, if your heart isn’t in it, it’s not going to be sustainable.  Motivation is the key that unlocks our ability to make good choices in difficult moments (aka “willpower”).

If you are seeking motivation, envision what outcome(s) you want for yourself. See yourself in your new body, your new role, or whatever it is that you want.  Imagine how good it will feel to have what you desire.  Visualize it, feel it in your body, and see it in your mind’s eye as if you already have it.  Write it down, or create a vision board, and in some way, visit your hoped-for outcome daily.

With your vision in mind, it will be easier to make better choices. Find one to three things that you can do this week that support your goal.  Make sure you feel at least 80 percent confident that you can get them done. If you don’t feel that confident, make the activities smaller and more achievable until you do.  Then next week, do it again. Check in with yourself.  How’s it going?  Make modifications if needed.

Keep it up.  There are many paths to your desired outcome and most of them won’t be straight lines. When your willpower starts to get shaky, revisit your vision (and perhaps use the next few tips as well)!

3)   Ditch the negative self talk

Beating yourself up may seem to be a handy tactic for staying on track, but in the long-term, it’s demotivating.  And since motivation (and feeling good about yourself) fuels willpower, self-compassion is a better alternative for self-correction. When you are relaxed and feeling like you are on your own team, it is easier to tap into your creative problem-solving ability.  

Try this:  If you “disappoint” yourself in some way, consider talking to yourself as of you were speaking to your best friend.  What would you say?  From that place of understanding and kindness, restore your faith in your ability to accomplish your goals and figure out your next move toward success. 

4)   Celebrate your accomplishments

When you make progress toward your vision, – no matter how small a step, you deserve a virtual self-hug.  It’s important to take a moment to reflect and feel good about what you have done. In fact, give yourself a “HELL YES!” Your celebration doesn’t have to be a big deal, maybe it’s just a moment of reflection  - or even 15 minutes of hard-earned down time.    Small rewards reinforce our positive behaviors and makes manifesting our vision more fun.  They keep us going.

5)   Get honest and face your fears

Last but not least, if you find you just can’t seem to make it happen, get super honest with yourself.  What is really holding you back from your next step?  If you notice that you are frustrated and just can’t make any progress, consider digging more deeply into what fears and beliefs might be getting in the way.

Most of us have old behaviors from childhood that helped us cope with our world.  Now that we are all grown up, many of those old strategies and beliefs don’t work too well any more.  In fact, subconscious patterns can get us stuck in an endless loop that often leaves us feeling helpless. Frequently, those patterns are hard to recognize.  If so, seek support.

There are many resources you can tap into to explore your inner world.  Journaling, coaching, therapy or   “THE WORK” of Byron Katie can get you into motion again.

Whatever you choose to do with this one sweet life, remember, you are here on this earth to contribute in your own unique way.  With patience, perseverance and self-compassion, you can accomplish your dreams.

 

 

Tags: Byron Katie, coaching, self compassion, negative self talk, The Work, motivation, accomplishments, willpower, celebrate

If You Can’t Do It All, Why Not Do What You Love?

Posted by Catherine Saar on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

I have been lamenting my absence from social media of late, as well as my disruption in blogging.   My anxiety level was climbing as my inner voice chanted, “You should be …….  You should do”… and on and on.  Of course then my monkey midescribe the imagend rambled over to the dire consequences that await me:  “You won’t have any friends, you won’t succeed, “ BLAH, BLAH, Blah Blah…"

I was getting angry with myself until I realized that there are only 24 hours in a day, and that I have to spend at least six of them sleeping.

“Shoulding” on yourself is not the way to joy or peace. I have come to believe that one’s true path to success and fulfillment on this planet is to become more aware of who we are; to rediscover everyday what an “inspired” life means for each of us.  It is not something that anyone else can prescribe for you. Only you know what food, what work, what friendships and what pastimes most nurture you and allow you to bring the most joy and love to yourself and therefore, to the world.    And if you or I are not arriving at this place of joy and love, then perhaps we need to ask ourselves, “Why not?”

Having realized that no one else can tell me how to live my “right” life, I have to put my big girl pants on and choose where to focus my energy.  And some of those choices are painful!  Why?  Some behaviors are familiar and comfortable habits so they are hard to let go of (like wanting to be liked) and yet, they no longer serve me. And some are things that I enjoy, like hanging out on social media for hours, leave me insufficient time to pursue my soul’s passions.

Yup, change is challenging, but not embracing my soul’s desires with full engagement feels worse.

I am mourning many of the things that I will give up to get other things, and also celebrating the delights that I receive in so doing.   These choices are becoming more important for me as I enter the second half of my life and I understand with greater clarity that my energy and my time on this earth are not unlimited.

I find I am beginning to appreciate the things I am doing more, and fretting less about the things that I am not.  I am diving deep into my yoga studies and yoga teaching; I am offering NVC practice groups and workshops; I am coaching clients and fulfilling business agreements that bring me great satisfaction.  I have been reading more, exploring a loving relationship and spending more time being mindful.

This feels good.   This is my path.  And I wonder, what is yours?  What do you need to do to create a life that delights you and that serves the world?  If you can’t do everything, what is stopping you from doing what you love?

 

Tags: coaching, peace, inspired life, yoga, success, joy, nurture, passion, NVC, teaching, workshops, shoulding

Why Yes is Also No

Posted by Catherine Saar on Fri, Dec 20, 2013 @ 08:13 AM

It’s the busy holiday season, and there are more things on my to-do list than I can accomplish before year- end.  As I say “yes” to the items on my list, I am actually saying “no” to some others.   Whenever I accept an invitation, or take time to return a phone call, whatever I choose, I create my life.

When I commit to one romantic relationship, I essentially say “no” to another.  When I say “yes” to tons of volunteer work and keeping a busy work and social schedule, I may be saying no to rest, exercise or other kinds of self-care.  Sometimes it seems that there is no “right” answer.  I want to do it all.  I want to meet everyone’s needs as well as my own.  So how do you know what to choose?

Some decisions are easier than others.  The tricky ones play my emotions as if they were a musical score to a Broadway show - with joy, sorrow, and a whole range of seemingly conflicting feelings showing up.

For example, when I say no, I sometimes feel grief.  I mourn what I give up, even when I am moving into something that will be more life affirming for me.   My recent divorce is a case in point.   While being divorced has allowed a world of possibility and freedom, I miss some of the predictability and ease of partnership. I am also noticing that holiday planning seemed less complicated back then 

Would I go back? NO.  Do I still feel the sadness of what I have lost and the joy at what I have gained? YES.

WTF?  This is not what Hollywood promised!  How are we able to hold sweetness, joy and sorrow all at the same time? And yet I know in my heart, that in this weird metamorphosis, I am where I need to be, moving in the direction that I need to go.

Because I am a curious human, I sometimes hunger to know the outcome of the choices I did not make.   This is more commonly called  “second guessing.” Other times, I hope to be assured of an outcome before I make a decision.  That is very rarely possible and may lead to getting stuck!

What I’ve finally learned is that I cannot make decisions only with my brain, because it doesn’t have the answer.  It has logic, which often has nothing to do with what I really want in my heart.  And sadly, just trusting emotions is also not reliable, as those fickle friends usually show up in response to what I am thinking and can change with the wind.  

My hard-won insight  (after years of yoga, coaching, and nonviolent communication) is to rely more on the sensations in my body for decision making.  For example, I can notice a sense of relaxation and calm that I feel when I find an answer that suits me best.  It shows up as easier breathing, and lightness behind my eyes. I feel more open. On the other hand, when I am conflicted, I may feel tightness in my belly, my chest and/or my throat.  My eyes feel tired. 

My body is really smart.  It seems to be able to dialogue with my heart and my mind in ways to gather wisdom that heart or mind alone cannot access.  This kind of sensory feedback can take some mindfulness to observe, but it is available if you commit to noticing.  Or, download here; THE BODY COMPASS video that will take you through a simple exercise that can help you create an internal guidance mechanism.

My hope for you is that you can begin to listen carefully and notice what your body says when you say “yes,” or you say “no.”  Take your time, and trust yourself.  Remember, in every moment, you decide how you live your life, and you also get another opportunity to try something different.

 

Best Wishes for a happy and healthy 2014.

Tags: relationship, nonviolent communication, coaching, heart, divorced, curious, body compass, self care, yoga, second-guessing, stuck, body, exercise, grieve, metamorphosis

Character Flaw? Think Again.

Posted by Catherine Saar on Sat, Nov 16, 2013 @ 08:19 AM

If I had a dime for every self-deprecating thought that passed through my head in thisdescribe the image lifetime, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams. And my hunch is that many of you would be too.  How many times did I think I was wrong, unlovable, dumb, lacking talent, and just not good enough?

What’s up with that?  Sure we make mistakes and we’re not perfect.  But who is?  In fact, for the most part, we are good, decent people who wish to contribute to each other in meaningful ways.

So why are we so capable at beating ourselves up with negative talk?

Having spent much of my life seeking equanimity, I found this simple truth:

There is nothing “defective” or “flawed” about me  - or you!  

Rather, we are addicted to “stinking thinking!” Over the years, we’ve developed negative thinking patterns that inform our feelings, which in turn, motivate much of our behavior. 

 This is usually how it goes: thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to behaviors and behaviors lead to consequences.   Consequences typically reinforce the thoughts that lead to feelings. And the cycle begins again.

We didn’t get here alone.  We’ve had lots of help forming negative thoughts. Parents, family, media, and even teachers were among the many misinformed who helped us to develop ideas like “I’m not good enough” or “I should be different than who I was born to be.”   Of course blaming others doesn’t solve anything, nor does passively awaiting rescue while we lick our wounds.  What does help? Mindful awareness and curiosity.  Can you stop judging yourself and wonder instead, “Why am I thinking this way?  What do I really want?”

In short, the key is awareness and shifting perspective.  Next time you notice a negative thought, can you question its validity and then reframe it?  Generally, if you dig around, you will uncover a positive or protective desire underneath the feelings that lead to your behaviors. Once you know that, you can strategize how to better meet your needs.

 Here are a few examples:

  • When you think you didn’t do enough, maybe it’s because you truly have a desire to contribute and want reassurance that you are contributing sufficiently.  How might you get that reassurance in a more productive way, rather than berating yourself? 
  • When you decide to react negatively to your partner, are you feeling scared that he or she doesn’t love you or understand you?  Is it possible that you want to protect yourself and that when you said the wrong thing; maybe you just wanted to be heard or seen for who you really are?  Could you have had that discussion in a different way without blaming him or her or yourself?

Translated, can you appreciate and acknowledge the good in you?  Know that it is there.  Most of us are just trying to do our best, as tender, vulnerable human beings.  We are afraid of being hurt, or hurting others, of not being or doing enough, or maybe doing or being too much. Very few of us wake up and think “I want to do a crappy job today”, or “I want to act like a jerk.” 

Can you begin to tease out the positive longings behind your negative feelings and behaviors? Can you name them with honesty and kindness for yourself and others?  And maybe handle situations that arise in a more life affirming and productive way?

I can’t say that you can change this overnight, but just becoming aware of the possibility can start you on a path to joyful change.  There are also lots of resources for healing and personal growth, including mindfulness practices, nonviolent communication, coaching and a host of therapeutic techniques.  As you embark on this process, you can begin to alter neural pathways – and that means that behavior change can become progressively easier.

I wish you much joy, peace, and success!  Here are some resources for you to explore on your journey to self-acceptance and self-realization:

Finding Your Own North Star, by Martha Beck

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

What Happy People Know by Dan Baker  

The Work of Byron Katie

Mediate Your Life

 

 

Tags: nonviolent communication, coaching, contribute, kindness, character flaw, judging, behavior change, What Happy People Know, self-realization, curiosity, Martha Beck, beating ourselves up, equanimity, The Work of Byron Katie, Mediate Your Life, mindful, productive, unlovable, not good enough, negative thoughts, self acceptance

Confronting Conflict with Heart

Posted by Catherine Saar on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:29 AM

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Conflict with someone you care about (or have to work with), can make the stakes for satisfactory resolution very high. How you handle the situation affects not only how you feel about yourself, but also how the other person feels about you. Swallowing your needs may lead to resentment.  Lashing out may damage the relationship.

So how do you speak up for yourself, listen to the other person, and manage to keep an openhearted connection when you are in the middle of a heated disagreement?

Deepak Chopra says that through mindfulness, we can begin to develop ”the ability to calmly and objectively observe a situation, acknowledge when we are being triggered and choose how we want to respond. Instead of feeling stuck in knee jerk reactions and conditioned patterns of behavior, we free ourselves to make choices that will help us fulfill our deepest desires for love, fulfillment and happiness.”*

That really resonates for me. There are several mindfulness practices, including self-empathy that help me to consult my heart before acting on emotion.  In so doing, I get the chance to express myself with compassion– for myself - as well as for the other person, rather than responding out of anger, guilt or fear.

Following this path doesn’t mean giving up on what you want.  It also doesn’t mean ignoring the needs and wants of the other person either. Considering both sets of needs is important when you care about the relationship.

At times when it seems easier to clam up or lash out, consider whether either of those actions will deliver a peaceful, satisfying result. When the answer is no, investing the energy to calmly engage can be worthwhile.  Once committed, here are some tips that can help guide you through a connected interaction:

  • Take time to self assess. A deep breath and a brief time-out may enable you to connect with your feelings and needs. Sometimes saying, “This issue is clearly very important, and I really want to talk about it with you. Can you give me a minute to get my thoughts together?” may be just what you need to center yourself.
  • Focus on the issue, not the person. Avoid name-calling and personal attacks to reduce the likelihood of hurt feelings.
  • Acknowledge feelings. Respectfully listen and acknowledge the person’s feelings, either verbally or by giving them undivided attention. Be careful not to tell someone that he or she “shouldn’t” feel a certain way. Also try saving your point of view until after the other person knows that you understand how intensely they feel about the issue, even if you don’t agree with their point of view.
  • Try curiosity not defensiveness. Avoid defending yourself by proclaiming innocence, or rightness, or by attacking and blaming the other person.  This escalates a confrontation. Instead, ask for more information, details, and examples. There is usually some basis for the other person’s complaint and these questions can lead to a better understanding of what the issue is.
  • Give/Ask for specifics. When you or the other party has complaints, ask for (or give) specific examples so you can both get greater clarity.
  • Find points of agreement. Usually, a conflict has points of agreement.  Seek places where your needs match the needs of the other person. Finding common ground, even if it’s simply agreeing that there is a problem, can contribute to a solution.
  • Consider many options. Invite collaboration and resolution by offering and asking politely for suggestions and alternatives. Carefully consider each suggestion and be open to trying an approach you might not have previously considered. 

And remember, with any important relationship, conflict resolution is not about winning. It’s about taking care of you while seeking solutions that meet needs for all involved parties. Take a deep breath - and good luck

 

*Quotation from Oprah Winfrey's 21-Day Relationship Meditation Challenge document Day 16.

 

Tags: relationship, heart, collaboration, compassion, curiosity, clarity, love, free, conflict resolution, meditation, Oprah Winfrey, avoid escalation, mindfulness, stressful, Tips, teleseminar, Deepak Chopra, resentful, happiness, resolution, fulfillment, emotion

Reinventing Goldilocks

Posted by Catherine Saar on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 @ 02:41 PM

I was recently sharing a story about three successive relationship changes I’d experienced when my friend observed that in fact, it seemed that each time I engaged, I learned more about what it is that I really want. I was instantly reminded of the wisdom of Goldilocks and how much I enjoy the first part of her story. 

pathwayIf you recall, in the opening sequences, Goldilocks figures out how she is feeling (hungry and tired) and looks to meet her needs.  To do so, she goes exploring and finds an empty house that offers various options.  She tries a little of each option, only to discover that there is one solution that works better for her than the others. Specifically, while one of the porridges is too hot, the other, too cold - there is one that is just right.

Isn’t that true about life?  We don’t always know exactly what will meet our needs, so we may need to try a few different things to figure out what is just right for us.  I love that idea.  First we have to see how we feel, decide what that tells us about what we want and then we begin to research how we might fulfill our desires to create a life we love. 

Instead of considering the things we try (and decide not to stick with) as wasted time, perhaps we can see them as critical steps along a path that informs us about our “right” path.  Maybe that is why many second marriages or second careers can be more fulfilling than the first.  It takes time to know who we are and what we want.  Not only that, but our feelings and needs may also change over time.  That requires us to engage in exploration many times over our lifetime in a variety of ways in order to determine where we want to go next.  In short, experimenting and starting over, is a proven method for informed, creative life-long problem solving.

The places that the Goldilocks’ story breaks down for me, is the second half AND where she invades someone else’s belongings to get what she needs.  There are endless opportunities for self-discovery that don’t involve coveting or destroying that which supports others. 

So while the tale of Goldilocks’ wanderings offers some great insights, it could use a rewrite.

Why ruin the beautiful lesson about the value of exploration by intimating that our personal journey must disturb or even destroy someone else’s environment?  When we explore, we don’t necessarily break other people things or use up all of their resources. In fact, many of our explorations benefit others and help them along their path of discovery.  Rather than focusing our inner stories on punishment and shame because we might mess up someone else’s stuff, let’s focus on the benefits of searching for what fits us best.

One of the privileges of growing up is that we get to author our own stories.  So, let’s figure out how to explore in ways that add to the lives of others.  Believing that trying things out will result in punishment is simply a children’s story; one that is desperately in need of a rewrite.

 

 

 

Tags: love, needs, desires, punishment, creative, problem solving, wisdom, relationships, life, insights, rewrite, exploration, feelings, self-discovery, beautiful, discovery, shame, lesson, careers, Goldilocks, life-long