Tag Archives: truth

How Spiritual Practice Guided Me Into Eating Disorder Recovery

This was originally posted 9/28/17 on Nonpoliticalnews.com as “How Yoga Saved Me From Myself.”

I grew up going to Catholic Church every Sunday and CCD until I asked my mother in 8th grade if I could quit. I told her there were aspects of it that didn’t feel aligned with my beliefs and she agreed under the condition that my sister and I accompany her to the hippie church in the barn in the woods every Sunday. We complied.

I hold nothing against the church, or any organized religion. I am aware that many people derive deep healing and goodness from religion. My religion, however, wasn’t serving me. Little did I know I was already on a spiritual path in 8th grade and I recognized that the Catholic Church didn’t support that path.

I have had issues with my body since I was a child. My earliest memory was that my little puffy tummy was a problem. I prayed it would go away by the time I was a grown-up.

Fast forward to high school. I was tall and had body dysmorphia. I believed my body was unsightly.

By my first semester of college I developed bulimia nervosa. It felt like a completely normal thing to do as a means to having a sense of control. On the surface, I saw nothing wrong with the behaviors I was committing to.

My best friend and boyfriend at the time were the only ones who knew and they did everything they could to help but overall I isolated myself.

I lived in my mind: constantly calculating calories. I sought control over food and my body. But mostly I wanted control over every aspect of my life. Food and my body were the most attainable way to feel any semblance of control.

There is a lot from this dark period that I don’t remember. I’ve blocked it out for self-preservation. I was also so distracted by my obsessive mindset and behavior that I detached and disassociated from my body and college experience.

In college I found a yoga studio. I had been practicing yoga since age 16 but there was something about going to this no-frills studio that resembled the rituals of going to church but this time it felt right; it felt like a spiritual match.

No one said: a spiritual practice will heal you! But this is exactly what happened. As I practiced yoga regularly, I also grew my spirituality. I integrated yoga teachings into daily life.

When I learned the yogic practice of non-violence I saw my eating disorder as being brutally violent toward myself. I had to stop.

My primary concern for years was controlling my body/appearance since I couldn’t control the world around me. I was operating on a very small-minded level.

As soon as I decided I was going to heal from my eating disorder, I felt at ease. I surrendered and loosened my grip on control. My world-view expanded. I valued my intelligence, my passions, and my relationships. I felt like I was part of something greater than myself and my appearance.

This was over 12 years ago. Today yoga is still part of my spiritual practice. Today I walk in nature and connect to something greater than myself. I meditate and remember we transcend our bodies. I spend time with my dog and cats, friends and family, and revel in the relationships I cultivated. My spirituality is all around me and is in my daily life.

I’m not saying you need a spiritual practice to live a good life. I’m saying it worked for me. And it keeps me in recovery from my eating disorder, every day.

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How letting go of the desire to control everything slowly granted me emotional freedom

I am investigating the importance of speaking my truth. And acknowledging, allowing, and accepting my emotions.

We hear that a lot. At least I do. From teachers and coaches and writers and influencers. And sometimes it makes sense to me but sometimes I’m like “I know I’m saying this thing that is GOOD but I don’t fully understand why.”

And last night something came together.

Last night I started to further understand – in my body and soul – the importance of not only speaking my own truth, but acknowledging, accepting, and allowing my feelings instead of shaming myself for having certain feelings {i.e. sadness, guilt, despair, etc.}

Sometimes I am afraid to say how I feel because I am scared to let people down. I am scared of messing something up. I am scared of causing someone pain. I am scared of upsetting something.

And so what does all of the  above really mean?

It means that I sometimes find myself terrified of speaking my truth and my feelings because I don’t want to lose control over a situation.

For a long time this was my default. And so, I would remain silent. For fear I would cause an upset, to myself or another person. I was afraid I’d lose control.

And so, I remained silent.

Silence is still sometimes my jam. But it doesn’t always serve me.

And I’ve spent a huge portion of the last decade learning about my own emotions. Primarily, what exactly to do (or not do) with them.

What I realized in that instant I uttered those words [I am afraid to say how I feel because…] is that I internalized the feelings, the hurt, the discomfort , and the pain.

And all of that discomfort materialized into more visible symptoms like anxiety, panic, and an eating disorder.

So what’s the point of even coming to this conclusion?

The point is that I see even greater value in being able to acknowledge and allow my feelings to process and to express them when a situation calls for it.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve bit my tongue and not said how I felt or what I thought because I feared judgment and I feared my world spinning out of control.

Freaking Control…

So now it’s about loosening the reigns on control. It’s about stepping into the emotions because when I do just that, they aren’t so scary or overwhelming and, usually, after giving them some of my attention (not ALL of it) they slowly fade away.

I don’t suppress them anymore. I don’t pretend that I don’t feel these uncomfortable icky feelings anymore. (And I used to because in my mind that meant I had no control over myself >>> which inevitably led to an eating disorder.)

I recognize that I too am human. I recognize that the emotions I deal with on a daily basis are part of the human experience.

While it may take me a little longer than some to move through emotions, I’m ok with that. I’m learning. I’m being patient with myself.

I’m also learning that emotions don’t have to take the lead! Which means… I’m stepping into my power.

I soften to what I feel. I surrender. I don’t give up on myself. But there’s something in THAT [the softening and surrender] that, for me, let’s the emotions feel less scary. I remember that they, like all things, will eventually pass.

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I used to want to be anything other than myself.

I love listening to talk radio in the mornings. Like the early early mornings 7am and earlier – on my way to see clients.

It’s one of those “guilty pleasures” although I feel no guilt about it. So, it’s one of my pleasures.

Z100, 95.5 are two of my favorites. Though Z100 has a soft spot in my heart because I have been listening since I was a teenager. Wow!

And I do listen to news on occasion but when it’s this early (we are talking in the car by 5:45am some mornings) I need to keep it light. I want to hear my horoscope and how the Shaun Mendes concert was last night.

Something I notice is that when they take breaks on the radio they often segue into a segment about “I’m using this fabulous product for body contouring. This body contouring product gives me confidence and makes me happy!”

I don’t blame the DJs. They are simply doing their job. And usually I turn down the volume or flip to another channel because: listening to this does not serve me.

Also, in my head I am saying:

People: body contouring alone is not the quick fix that’s gonna make you happy people

What I want to do sometimes (in my little dream world in my head) is this:

Call into the station and start talking about how body contouring or going on a diet and losing weight might give you confidence … but it’s temporary.

The only way the confidence and joy and happiness will stick is if you do the inner work.

These qualities we want in life, they’re an inside job. They do not come from our external circumstances or conditions.

While we might feel extremely excited and happy when we get a dog – the excitement wears off if we aren’t truly committed to accepting and loving the whole dog experience unconditionally. We can’t sign up for a dog just to snuggle with us when we are feeling blue. We have to commit to it all: the daily walks, picking up poop, training the dog, taking it to the vet.

We have to commit to accepting and loving the whole human experience unconditionally. The highs and lows. The fuck-ups and the accomplishments. The stability and instability. The joy and the pain. The growth and the loss.

The way I see it, I have three ways I can respond to these radio ads:

  1. Be convinced that yes, I do need to change the way my body looks in order to feel good. Period.
  2. Get angry. Get angry that these ads perpetuate the judgment and hate that permeates so much of our society.
  3. See it as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to see the contrast: they are telling me one thing and I’m just like “Nope. Actually I like that my left thigh has that little dimple in it. I don’t even care about my thighs looking smooth and seamless anymore. Or the rest of my body. I want all the shapes and dents and dimples… all of them. I actually feel really good in my body.” And so forth. This is the new story. And i can go on with it. For a long, long time.

In total honesty, I sometimes do get angry. But if I stay angry, that’s choosing my old story and I’m already living the new one. So I don’t want to linger in the old anger story for too long.

In fact, I stay there less and less and it gets easier to move from #2 to #3. Or jump right to #3.

It took me years to get over not being perfect. And I’m not just talking about my body. I’m talking my clothes, my writing, my vocabulary, my education, anything you can think of – I was severely judgmental toward myself. I was convinced that if I wasn’t happy all the time, I was failing. I believed that if I was angry or jealous or sad or did anything imperfectly, I was failing.

I used to feel so sad that I wasn’t something else. I used to feel disappointed that I wasn’t anything other than myself.

And now … now I wouldn’t want to be anything other than myself. Even on the dark days. Even where there is struggle.

I take myself. I love myself no matter what.

For anyone out there who hears these radio ads (or any other messages from media or society telling you that your body needs to be a different way in order to be accepted/happy/confident) and jumps to #1 … I encourage you to explore the inner work first.

There’s no rush. Just check in and see what happens.

If you’d like some guidance on getting to the inner work, please fill out my contact form and we can set up a call. 

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When someone offers to help you up a mountain … Let them!

For that first incredibly difficult rock to climb on the Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Chris literally extended his hand to me as an offering of assistance.

 

To help me up because CLEARLY I was struggling.

 

But nope. I would NOT TAKE HIS HAND. I would not take his help. I had to do it myself.

 

I was pissed at myself. I was on the verge of tears (on the side on a fucking mountain.) I was pissed at Chris for trying to help me.

 

Didn’t he believe I could do it on my own??? (Nope. I clearly could not and needed help but had no idea how to ask… or receive for that matter.)

 

I stubbornly wrestled my way up the rock and in doing so, banged my right shin really hard (I now have a bruise covering half my shin.)

 

You can’t shut down like that. I’m offering you my hand and you are just shutting down.

 

Holy shit. He was so right.

 

As much as I hated to admit it, he hit the nail on the head.

 

My eyes welled with tears when he said this because it wasn’t just about climbing steep rocks and mountains.

 

All my life I don’t like the way it feels when someone helps me. At least when I’m not asking them for help.

 

It’s like they’re telling me I’m not doing a good enough job.

It feels like they’re bossing me around or trying to control me or tell me what to do.

 

And I DO NOT like being told what to do.

 

Where does this come from? {I ask myself…} Why do you so hate being told what to do? Why are you so resistant to help?

 

Is there a belief that needing help means I am not enough…

It means that I am not strong enough…

It means that I should already know. I should already have the answers.

 

But I don’t have the answers. I don’t always need to know everything. And I can’t do everything on my own.

 

And therefore there’s an old story in me where desperately needing help means I have failed.

 

So… needing help means I failed.

Needing help means I am a failure.

 

For the rest of the trip with Chris, I accepted his extended hand or trekking pole. Almost every single time he offered.

 

And I noticed this:

 

Not only did it become easier to accept assistance, but I started to trust him way way way more.

So … there is a correlation between receiving help and trusting others.

 

Receiving help = trusting others.

 

That they have my best interests in mind. Or that they (in this case Chris) just want to help because they straight up love you and want wonderful things for you.

 

They want to help because they straight up LOVE you.

 

Not because they expect anything in return.

 

Not because they secretly want to push you off the ledge (that only happens in action movies.)

 

Not because they have an ulterior motive.

 

No… the motive is love.

 

The motivation is LOVE. Giving love. Receiving love. Exchanging love.

 

THAT my friend is unconditional love.

 

And it’s unconditional love to accept a loving hand. To receive it with your full body, heart, and soul.

 

THIS is uncovering an old belief. And setting it free to make room for a new belief. We are going to do tons of this kind of stuff in my Fall Mentorship. There are very few spots available so as to keep it an intimate group. So I highly recommend taking a look and signing up if this sounds like you!!!

Fall mentorship link>>> http://www.maggieconversemethod.com/events/2017/9/15/fall-mentorship

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But… What if I mess up?

Sometimes I hide behind the veil of:

 

I’m afraid of being wrong / What if I’m wrong?

 

Or it might sound something like this:

 

What if they judge me? (Which really is “what if I slay the judgement on myself?)

 

OR…

What if I mess up? WHAT IF I MESS UP?

 

Because GOD FORBID I mess up!!! Then what?!??! (<<<the internal dialogue.)

 

THIS is the {very old} drum I catch myself beating when something feels scary. When I was climbing down waterfalls and up steep ledges last weekend in New Hampshire, I found myself physically STUCK at times. And do you know why that is? Because I was so fucking scared of messing up.

 

Because even after many years of working on myself, there are still the occasional moments where these mindsets feel like dear old friends. They feel familiar. They feel comfortable. They feel, in a funny way, safe.

 

When I know damn well these mindsets hold me back. These mindsets prohibit me from:

 

Asking for what I need.

Speaking my truth.

Taking a chance on something I believe in.

Feeling fucking amazing.

Embracing my successes and building them.

 

There is a perfectionist within me that has definitely gotten smaller and less prevalent over the years. But sometimes, she likes to rear her little head and say things like:

 

But … what if you fuck this up? Better to keep quiet. Better to shut down than be your big bold self.

 

So where do we go when we feel stuck in old patterns?

 

The good news: the only way to go is up.

 

Make a shift. Ask for what you need. Give less fucks about being judged or being wrong or MESSING UP.

 

And in fact, GET CURIOUS about what happens when you mess up. Because is it really so bad? Usually… nope.

 

And… you can never really mess up because … even if it feels like you mess up … you always have the opportunity to learn something.

 

Thank you for tuning in and reading (if you’ve made it this far.)

 

Tell me: what are your old patterns/beliefs and how do you bust through them?

I provide loads of this kind of work and guidance in my fall mentorship. To help you bust through old beliefs, patterns, and thoughts. Trust me, it’s good stuff. Click this link>>> http://www.maggieconversemethod.com/events/2017/9/15/fall-mentorship

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If you find yourself on the precipice of punishment…

When we punish ourselves we stop the positive energy from flowing and squash our vibration.

When we punish ourselves, we are stopping a good thought, feeling, belief that wants to be set free and acknowledged and felt.

Do not beat yourself up for punishing yourself.
That’s like double damage.
Instead notice when and how you do it, with cat-like curiosity (because they are curious damnit!).

What does it look like? What does it feel like?
WHERE do you feel it in your body?

If you find yourself on the precipice of punishment, check in with us here.

If you find yourself on the verge of punishment, write shit down. Let it be messy and uncensored.

If you find you are on the verge of punishment, breathe.

I learned this week I’ve been punishing myself by telling myself I am undeserving of my dreams being fulfilled. Well, I manifested one today – BECAUSE I COULD – and I broke through a huge block and my mindset is starting to shift… FAST.

My loves – to remind you – if you feel you are punishing yourself FOR ANY REASON (too much cake, not enough exercise, not enough money, not enough work, etc. etc. etc.) pause and check in.

 

Join my High Vibe Body Image Tribe on Facebook or email me at maggie@maggieconverse.com

XOXO

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So, if you didn’t go to treatment, what did your recovery look like?

So, if you didn’t go to treatment, what did your recovery look like?

Asked one very intelligent student of mine at the recovery center one night during a special Q&A class during which I already shared much of my recovery story. I said I never went to treatment and rarely sought out therapy during the throes and early days of my eating disorder. (I do recognize the value in BOTH of these things, I just was not aware they were even available to me. And so I healed myself through the worst of it.)

In response to her question…

Messy. Is the word that flew out of my mouth.

Shit, I thought to myself. Should I have really said that out loud? It felt like the most honest response because, well, my early recovery was a fucking mess. And I had to make peace with that and the fact that, as I quickly learned, recovery is not linear and it takes many many different forms.

I paused then explained:

Everyone’s recovery path is going to look different and I did not know what kind of help was available. No one in my little college world talked about this stuff [Eating Disorders] except in the context of “it’s an easy way to stay skinny.” My recovery might have been expedited had I been aware of help available or had I not been so ashamed. [There’s that buzzword: shame!]

I didn’t tell most of my friends, I didn’t even tell my mother because I didn’t want her to take on the burden. In retrospect, I wish I had gone to more people because now, over 10 years later, I’m learning the value of being vulnerable and asking for help.

I went on to further explain, my recovery was beautiful and multi-faceted. My recovery was introspective. My recovery was difficult. My recovery looked like surrounding myself with people who lifted me up. It looked like me in my bedroom surrounded by yoga books, putting together sequences, noticing what felt good in my body and what didn’t. My recovery smelled like patchouli and armpit body odor and looked like the tiny yoga studio in Bloomington that accommodated 15 students at most. Always cheering each other on. (And, by the way, it never looked like cute yoga outfits.)

My recovery looked like brutal honesty with myself and daily reminders that I was making a choice to get better. My recovery looked like trust in myself that I could do this. My recovery looked like my college boyfriend as my rock, a person who believed in me, reminding me to believe in myself. It looked like the one tiny old woman therapist who told me “one day at a time, honey.” Those words were gold. It looked like undiagnosed depression and massive bouts of what I now know were anxiety attacks.

And those were just the early days. My recovery from an eating disorder turned into recovery from negative body image and body dysmorphia. And then recovery from not believing in myself. And now it is recovery from any thought, belief, person, or thing that does not bring me to light.

My recovery looks like setbacks sometimes. It looks like hours spent talking to a therapist and life coach. My recovery looks like journaling and writing and meditation. It looks like time spent in the woods. It looks like allowing myself to feel pain and uncomfortable feelings, but not to dwell in them. And if I notice I’m staying the the pain for too long, my recovery now looks like asking for help. A helping hand to pull me out of my hole.

So now my recovery looks like feeling ALL the feelings. Even the ones I thought I had done away with years ago. It looks like processing old breakups and the losses of friendships. It looks like celebrating my triumphs today and from years back. It looks like bidding farewell to always trying to control and avoid pain so that I’ll only feel good happy things.

I am pleased to share with you that today, my recovery looks like imperfection. And I’m beyond OK with that.

What does your recovery look like? Please share below in the comments!
And sign up for my newsletter to receive a totally free body image coaching consult today. XOXO

Newsletter Sign-up – Click here!

 

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The perfect time is never. AND it is now.

Recently I discovered I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment for years. I was waiting for the perfect moment to book my dream road-trip out west. I was waiting for the perfect moment to come out as a body image coach. I was waiting for the perfect moment to visit my sister. I waited 8 years to get my dog, Daisy! It’s cool though. I know, to some extent, I needed to wait. I also know, that I tend to overthink and overanalyze to the point of excruciating self-induced anxiety that leads to feeling stagnant and putting things off and avoidance.

There actually is no perfect moment. Except that there is – the moment is NOW. And it’s now, and it’s now.

Is this making sense? Allow me to backtrack a little…

I’ve been wanting to travel more. It was one of my intentions for this year. I want to spend more time out west, visiting national parks, being in nature, visiting my sister, friends, going where my heart desires. But I kept putting this off for many reasons: work, family, pets, bank account balance, migraines. I overanalyzed my reasons for inaction to death.

I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to live certain aspects of my life the way I want to live them. I’ve been waiting to be more virtual as a coach/teacher, to be at a certain income level, to be free of migraines, and to have a full time pet-sitter.

And then recently something happened and it PUSHED ME. I was diagnosed with lyme disease. It’s not the diagnosis I hoped for and it’s pulling me through an emotional roller coaster, but it also explains a lot of my recent health struggles.

There is something about a debilitating illness (migraines) combined with another debilitating illness (lyme) that can get a person to take stock of their life and move their boundaries[link to Sherpa].

So a few weeks ago I booked a flight to Los Angeles. I left my beloved puppy for the first time (not easy). I spent time with my sister, ate delicious food, went to yoga, walked to the beach, did some work, and returned home with a new perspective. I then booked another flight to LA two weeks later to do a little more work, spend time with my sister, and fit in some adventures. This is all happening while I’m still not at my desired income level and my migraines are definitely not totally cured.

And then it dawned on me, sometimes you have to do things in the order that might seem backwards. At what might seem like the most imperfect time. And guess what: This is absolutely 100% allowed!

My career is not set up the way I envisioned it need be in order to take trips like this. But the funny thing is: these trips are motivating me to move my business along in such a way that supports my health (ease up on teaching / increase coaching) and lifestyle (more time visiting national parks and in nature).

All this time I convinced myself my circumstances had to be JUST SO and so I waited, and waited, and kept finding excuses not to do what my heart and soul wanted.

I’m tired of listening to the broken record of me. I’m making changes. I’m traveling. I’m doing more of the work of my heart’s truth. And wouldn’t you know June is looking like the perfect time for a road trip out west with a dog named Daisy. (US National Parks here we come!)

The external circumstances of our lives may never look the way we expect them to in order to make the big (and small) decisions. The perfect time is never because we can always find reasons not to do the things our heart desires. The perfect time is NOW because sometimes we have to soften to those reasons or boundaries that are telling us “No, you’re not ready.” Especially if they are fear-based boundaries. Sometimes we ARE ready; we’re just scared.

Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be guided by our hearts and intuition. Maybe it’s a medical diagnosis, the loss of a job, a death, or a birth that propels us forward toward the big dreams. And aspects of our life might seem so terribly messy we couldn’t possibly fathom planning a trip, starting a business, getting married, having a baby, or diving heart-first into a relationship. But be open, my friend. You will know when you’re ready. Your heart and your gut will be screaming it from the mountain tops. They will be telling you you’re ready! Not your bank account, not your mom, not a self-help book, not your partner, and not even your dog can tell you when you’re ready.

You will know when the perfect time is. You will know what to do. The perfect time can be never. And it can also be now. It is never, and it is now. It just depends how you look at it. Are you ready to remain open to surprise, adventure, and delight in this life?

Can you lighten your grip on the boundaries of how things SHOULD be? See what happens when you lighten the grip and permit yourself to be a little more guided instead of trying to figure it all out. Feel your way through it.

And if you need it, I am giving you permission right here: You have the permission to soften, to listen, and be guided. The perfect time is now.

What about you? What are you waiting for? What are the big dreams you’ve been sitting on? Maybe they need more time to marinade and they are just waiting for that little push.

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My ME-ness is Unstoppable. Unbreakable.

I had a call this morning with a woman who is opening a fitness studio in Fairfield County. We were connected by a mutual friend in the fitness industry. She asked me about the style of yoga I teach – this Bowspring – because she had never heard of it. She gave me space to describe the practice and all that it has done for me: how it has furthered my recovery and growth beyond the confining walls of my eating disorder and poor body image.

I explained how my dance background influences my teaching style and that I encourage my students to explore or how I’ll often not so eloquently put it: “make shit up” — meaning if their body is feeling moved, answer that call. To not be afraid to wobble, or mess something up, or look like a dumb-dumb. (Because you never look like a dumb-dumb. When making shit up, you look like a brave soul connecting with your deepest truth.)

For a moment I regretted my words. Why did I have to be such an idiot and admit I tell my students to make shit up to a potential employer/partner?!

It was at this moment when the women stopped me and said she didn’t need to hear any more. She didn’t need a demo class. She was ready to put me on her schedule because she connected with my philosophy and my approach to movement. I could hardly contain my gratitude as I explained to her my vision has been to collaborate with other studios. And here she was, a messenger from the universe, manifesting my vision.

So the lesson? To keep speaking my truth. To keep stepping into my shoes. To keep fully inhabiting this body with my being. My ME-ness feels unstoppable. Unbreakable.

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Go With What You Know

It’s good to go with the flow. But it’s better to go with what you know – what you know to be true for you. Trusting yourself is the ultimate lesson. It’s where all the guidance leads.

-Melody Beattie

A few days before New Years Eve I was on my way to meet someone. As I was getting dressed to leave my house for dinner I had a funny feeling in my stomach. I questioned whether or not I should cancel but then didn’t want to be so abrupt last minute. But even as I got into my car and drove the 2 miles to South Norwalk the funny mudded feeling started morphing into a very clear “No, no, no, no, no.”

As in “No, don’t go.”

I hushed my intuitive voice but it roared loudly as I spent 10 minutes searching for parking. (This never happens to me!)

Shit, I thought. My intuition is really trying to tell me something.

But I wanted to be the cool, laid back girl who just goes with the flow.

I’m like, whatever! Easy breezy!

An hour into dinner I learned some unsettling (but not at all life threatening) news. Unsettling enough however that I could no longer remain in this person’s presence. My time had been wasted and I felt like a fool. I communicated this, calmly.

I requested the waiter give me my food to go and left this someone on their own. I still feel slightly guilty for not paying my share of the bill but … karma can be a bitch.

Suffice it to say I knew all along SOMETHING was up. And if I’m being really honest with myself, I could feel my intuition trying to tell me something the day before.

Only I talked myself out of it and blew it off as overreacting to something silly.

Perhaps this unsettling event needed to happen. It needed to remind me just how powerful my intuition is and that I could use a little brush-up on my listening skills. It reminded me to go with what I know.

If going with the flow is sometimes like following the shoulds or following the crowd, going with what you know is blazing your trail and honoring your truth. Even if it can get a little uncomfortable at times.

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