Category Archives: Writing

Opening Up About My Experience in Relationships

This morning I woke up feeling shitty.
Migraine and broken hearted.
Not just over my most recent split, but all of them.
There is a voice in me saying – come clean.
You’ve hidden all of this for far too long to keep it up and put on a brave face.
My heart is full of scars that have not fully healed and it’s coming to a head.

All of it.
The men. The relationships.
The stories I’ve clung to that have built up resentment.
The roles I not only played but also identified with.

Whenever a relationship took a turn for the worse, I’d turn to food or controlling my appearance somehow [running, over-exercising, or dieting].
I focused on: how do I control?
Instead of: How do I leave room to heal?
It was always brush it under the rug.
Drop them. Drop him.
Let him go.

Well, I did let him go. Every time.
Maybe a little too much.
I moved right on to the next one. Without a second thought.

But the residual pain clung tightly – wrapped around my heart.
Tighter and tighter as time passed.

And it brings me to right now.
Piles of relationships and breakups never fully processed.
All of the pain is coming to the surface.

I bounce from one memory to the next in my dreams and in meditation.
Uncovering decisions I make now that are based on past experiences.
Not always proud of the way I treated people.
Often wishing I’d let myself be single and process.
And witnessing the shame I feel about not processing these break-ups the “right way.”

Now I’m processing them in my way.
On my terms.
In my own time.
I’m giving these experiences the attention they deserved.
Maybe they should have received this attention years ago.
But I’m here now and doing the best I can.

I’m grateful that something in my last relationship called this to my attention.
Maybe because of the mild depression I felt in the springtime.
A clear indication that there was pain that had not been dealt with.
Maybe because I started finding my voice and stepping into my power.
For the first time clearly articulating my deepest desires.

This is not easy stuff to share.
The easy way would be to brush it under the rug and keep the notes in my journal and tell the world “I’m fine.”
The more difficult path is doing this: share.
Share and tell my truth.
Stop withholding from the world and from myself.

Because … Why on earth would we ever cover up any parts of ourselves?

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What will be great about today?

I sometimes wake up in a mindset of lacking or scarcity and I fixate on what’s not going well or what I don’t have. It could be from a dream or anxiety I took to bed with me from the night before.

 

When this happens, I wake up feeling lacking and I go through my morning ritual – rise, rinse face, drink water and coffee, meditate – hoping that it will shake the feeling of scarcity. The feeling that I am not doing enough, not creating enough, not putting enough out into the world, on my website, on social media, in a newsletter…

 

But then someone asked me a question this morning: What will be great about today?

 

And I was flooded with so many answers…

 

A new trail run with a good friend.

Valuing my time.

Teaching.

Morning meditation with my two cats curled in my lap.

Hot coffee and flax granola for breakfast.

Nature.

Time to write. TIME TO WRITE!

Waking up later than 5AM.

Seeing you.

Listening to music in my car.

 

This question made me notice all the abundance in my life, in my today.

It made the “not enough”-ness seem like more than enough.

 

Ask yourself the question: What will be great about today?

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Adios by Naomi Shihab Nye

IMG_6674I read this poem, fittingly, on my last day in Colorado. It was a part of a piece of artwork created by one of my hosts. When I was feeling sentimental about my vacation and adventure time coming to an end. It made so much sense to me, so beautifully soft and eloquent. I can’t help but want to share it.

Adios

It is a good word, rolling off the tongue
no matter what language you were born with,
Use it. Learn where it begins,
the small alphabet of departure,
how long it takes to think of it,
then say, then be heard.

Marry it. More than any golden ring,
it shines, it shines.
Wear it on every finger
till your hands dance,
touching everything easily,
letting everything, easily, go.

Strap it to your back like wings.
Or a kite-tail. The stream of air behind a jet.
If you are known for anything,
let it be the way you rise out of sight
when your work is finished.

Think of things that linger: leaves,
cartons and napkins, the damp smell of mold.

Think of things that disappear.

Think of what you love best,
what brings tears into your eyes.

Something that said adios to you
before you knew what it meant
or how long it was for.

Explain little, the word explains itself.
Later perhaps. Lessons following lessons,
like silence following sound.

~Naomi Shihab Nye
from Words Under the Words

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What is gratitude, anyway?

Gratitude

I took some time to sit down and think about what exactly Gratitude means to me and what it feels like. Here is what I came up with…

Gratitude envelopes your entire body and soul. I feel it, physically. My body starts to gently quiver, as if I have the chills. My stomach is a flutter, I can take a deep breath and let tiny tears of joy fill my eyes for a moment.

What does Gratitude leave you feeling?

I feel an abundance of love, an abundance of so much of a good thing, that exists in life. And you begin to recognize how gratitude heals and how gratitude carries you through those trying times in life that we all endure. This feeling of gratitude wakes us up in the morning and helps us to sleep soundly.

Gratitude allows us to experience pain and also to laugh heartily. It is with this mindset of gratitude that we are able to know ourselves better, not for the things we do or the tasks that we check off our list each day, but for our ability to feel and be present.

In Tal Ben-Shahar’s book “Happier” he shares the concept of a gratitude letter. A gratitude letter, he explains, “is not just a thank-you note. It is a thoughtful examination of the meaning and pleasure that you derive from the relationship; it describes particular experiences and shared dreams, and whatever else in the relationship is a source of joy.”

A Gratitude Letter helps us take this feeling of gratitude one step further. Because know that gratitude is not simply saying “I’m so grateful,” it is not simply a mindset, but it is a way in which we interact with those who surround us.

Who can you write a Gratitude Letter to this week? Explore how gratitude is so much more than a feeling, but also how we communicate that feeling.

We will work on exploring Gratitude Letters and what exactly Gratitude means to YOU on Radiant Retreat 2015. Registration is OPEN! To learn more and to register click here.

 

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What are you afraid of?

What is one thing in your life right now that you are afraid of?

Is it the fear of losing someone you love? What about making a decision that would lead to a major life change? There is also the fear of not completing a task you poured your heart and soul into. We experience fear in pursuing our dreams, because we think we might fail. On top of that we experience (or at least I do) the fear of certain (mostly negative) emotions. We fear falling in love because we might get hurt; and also fear losing that person we love because we know damn well that it’s always going to hurt.

Across the board, fear can be incredibly paralyzing. But I hope this post will give you some insight on how to move beyond fear.

The other night I was out to dinner with some friends when the topic of Ironman came up. Beyond lots of hours of training, we were questioning what does it take to complete an Ironman? We concluded that it requires a great deal of mental agility and toughness and my friend Milly (runner and triathlete extraordinaire!) and I both discovered that we each wrote down lists of our greatest fears before race day. Especially in that final month.

I was instructed to do this by my life coach and found it to be incredibly resourceful in learning to let go of some of the fear I was holding onto so tightly. Fear that then resulted in anxiety and unwanted stress. Once everything was down on paper though I was able to take on more of an “OK, so what?” attitude about my fear of failure. It didn’t seem so bad after all.

I also discovered that my greatest fear pertaining to Ironman was far more than simply not finishing the event, failing, or not getting injured. No, my greatest fear was what will people think if I don’t finish… what will people think if I fail? And, who am I going to disappoint if I don’t finish?

It took several discussions, lots of writing, and a solid amount of introspection to start to believe … So What? If I didn’t finish, I would be upset, but I knew that I would eventually get back on the horse and try again. If I disappointed people then perhaps they aren’t the people I want to hold close in my life. Most of you know that I DID finish Ironman but having written down that list of fears took a huge burden off my shoulders on race day.

I recognized that I am human and I am far from perfect. I acknowledged the fact that if I did not finish Ironman, there was still so much for me to gain and to learn from the experience.

I know that if I ever do sign up for another Ironman, these fears will cross my mind again. But I’m ready to confront them.

So, what are you afraid of? We all have fear – especially when we are confronting something that is meaningful and important to us. Why not write it all down and go through each fear, one at a time – you will discover what is at the root of this fear and that maybe it’s not so terrifying after all. This could lead to new opportunity, a major life change, or experiencing your life’s journey a little bit deeper.

If you’re still feeling stuck, send me an email at maggie.converse@gmail.com and we can set up a free coaching consult.

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Radiant Moments on Retreat

“Ah-ha” Moments from the Radiant Retreat 2008…

When asked about my biggest “a-ha moment” on the Radiant Retreat, I wrote this story:

In 3rd grade, we were prompted to write on a 3×5 card “Who is your hero and why?”

I knew my answer immediately: my cousin Jennifer.

As an eight-year-old the answer to “why” was: because she is an amateur actor. In actuality Jen was a professional actor, I just thought she was too young to be a professional. But what I really meant was: I looked up to her – in the highest way possible.

Jennifer inspired me because she was out there on her own in the world doing what moved her and sparked her soul. It was abundantly clear to my little 3rd grade brain that Jennifer was following her heroic path. Maybe it was the way she talked to me, the smile that beamed from her face, or the way she laughed with my parents about what it’s like to be an actor – but you could just tell.

Twenty years later and I seized the opportunity to practice yoga with Jen and attend the Radiant Retreat. I was sure my yoga asana practice would totally blossom and morph into an outer worldly experience. I was ready to take on all the handstands, inversions, backbends, and arm balances. I was going to work my butt off to “master” them all. But what happened on the Radiant Retreat was so much more rocking than a blossoming asana practice.

Conquering fancy poses became less of a priority. Jen’s yoga classes served to put my body and mind at ease. I opened up in an entirely new way and for the first time, I wrote things true to my soul and SHARED them. The first time I read out loud to the group my voice quivered but I began to soak in all that I was expressing; my vulnerability and exceptional truth.

I read out loud and proud. I laughed and cried and shared the 3rd-grade hero story with the group. And at the center of it all, I shared that I was committing to a strong desire to get to know my extended family a little better. And wasn’t it superb that they, my aunt and cousins, could be there?

The retreat gave me one week to feel safe in a beautiful space, and the truth and writing poured right out. And hasn’t stopped since.

And here is Jennifer’s response:

In 2008, my cousin, Maggie Converse, came on the Radiant Retreat and impossible things started becoming possible.

One blue sky Tulum morning after sunrise and meditation, all 30 of us stood in a Gratitude circle on the beach (an optional opportunity to share inspiration or gratitude), and Maggie spoke,

“I’m grateful for Jennifer. During a meditation, she came to mind as one of my hero’s…”

I missed most of what she said, too busy thinking, Really? Am I your hero? You came all the way to Tulum, age 24, and took a leap of faith. That’s inspiring.

Being “the oldest sister” in my family, I’m used to being the shepherdess, babysitter, take-charge chic and caretaker and I’d never thought of myself as a hero.

Maggie continued, finding the right words,

“I wanted to be closer to people in my family and that’s part of why I came on the retreat. So, it’s great to get closer to Jennifer, Kate (my cousin) and Kitsie (my Aunt) and to know my family…better.”

Maggie was right: our extended family wasn’t close. Divorced, remarried or spread across the map. Over the years, we saw one another at weddings and funerals and a few Thanksgivings. It was no one’s fault. My grandmother had been the hub and once she past the spokes had no center.

“Thank you,” I said, swallowing and digging my feet deeper into the sand. Absorbing the waves and sun: Hero, retreat leader, and family.

It felt magnificent to hear Maggie articulate what I’d wanted, thought and written in my journal years before and yet never knew how to change.

We stood together under the sun and knowing that impossible things can happen before breakfast.

And someone added, “I’m super excited for breakfast and a bowl of granola. This place is paradise. It sure beats Philly in March!”

When the circle broke up, I hugged Maggie and said, “Thank you for being my hero. And saying what I’ve been feeling for years. I love you.”

Jennifer & Maggie at Sandy Neck, Summer 2014

Jennifer & Maggie at Sandy Neck, Summer 2014

Radiant Retreat, Tulum, Mexico, March 21-28, 2015  – Register Now

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