Radiance: be that person who lights up the room

The radiant ones. We all know someone. It’s that person who walks into a room, practically glowing, and it’s as if the room itself takes a deep breath and lets out a loud sigh. Time becomes suspended for a moment, all eyes are drawn in their direction, and the space fills with a new, buzzing energy. It’s like they’re literally lighting up the room. Or maybe heating it up.

Young woman's face behind leaves looking into cameraPhoto by Alex Iby on Unsplash

This has always fascinated me. I am highly sensitive and empathic and I feel not just my own emotions, but the emotions of others around me, as well as the energy of a space, so I can’t not notice when it happens. And, I don’t know about you, but I want to BE that person. Sometimes I am. Not consistently (yet), but hey I have my moments! 🙂

It feels amazing. And here’s the beautiful thing. It’s not about anyone else’s reaction (although the attention is nice!) because it’s actually about being in such a state of internal bliss and happiness that other people’s reactions don’t matter.

So, what exactly IS that radiance? That glow. That PRESENCE.

Some might argue that it is about physical appearance. The beautiful people! They’re the lucky ones who experience this. And I would disagree. Some might say it’s all about style! Dressing the part, wearing high quality clothes, and having good personal hygiene. I would disagree again. Others may claim that it’s about charisma. And I would say, depending on how you define charisma, that yes that’s part of it.

But the main point is that it’s INTERNAL not external.

While external factors like looks and fashion can certainly play a role and influence other people, the real magic behind this kind of radiance lives entirely inside of us.

Smiling man in a hoodie with kid behind him looking into camera

Photo by Sue Barr.

Really, it’s all about energy. And that energy – the flowing, glowing, pulsating, radiant life force coursing through our bodies – is available to all of us. ALL. OF. US. Regardless of looks, gender identity, race, occupation, sexual preference, education, socioeconomic status, abilities, or anything else.

It is simply an expression of our connection to ourselves and our relationship to the world around us.

And let me be really clear about this: It has NOTHING to do with arrogance. In fact, I strongly believe that arrogance or any sense of superiority is actually an expression of insecurity. Because real, authentic confidence has nothing to do with anyone else. It’s not about being better than anyone or anything.

True confidence, which gives people that magnetic radiance we are all so naturally drawn to, has absolutely nothing to prove.

We are all capable of cultivating this kind of presence in ourselves. I believe it comes more naturally to some people than others. I also believe that many of us have been through a variety of shitstorms (e.g. conditioning, trauma, abuse etc.) in our lives that have shaken our foundations and caused us to doubt ourselves in a number of different ways. And that’s okay.

Older man looking directly into camera

Photo by Simon Wijers on Unsplash

As one of my favorite authors, Jen Sincero, says: “It’s not your fault that you’re fucked up. But it’s your fault if you stay fucked up.” The point is to not waste any time blaming anyone else for where you’re at. And instead, to focus on doing whatever it takes to establish a healthy, functional relationship with yourself.

For those of us who, at one point or another along the journey of our lives, became disconnected from ourselves, getting back to that place (that healthy, functional relationship with yourself) takes practice.

To get there, commit to learning how to love and accept yourself, trust yourself, and believe in yourself. It may take work and it may take time, but it’s more worth it than I know how to explain. Do it. You’re worth it.

Then from there, you just start to turn up the dial on your inner fire until you are so unshakably confident and irresistibly magnetic that you light up the room.

Do the work. Take the time. Love yourself. SO THAT you can be the person who lights up the room (without worrying about what anyone else will think). When you are living from the inside out, you will not only feel way better, but you’ll be able to have a more meaningful impact in the world. And that’s freedom. That’s fulfillment. That’s badassery.

Living your life from the inside out

Most of us are doing it all wrong. We’re living our lives from the outside in, when really life wants to be lived from the inside out.

The outside in approach is a source of constant stress and anxiety. It’s understandable that we ended up here. At this place of confusion, overwhelm, and constant struggle. We’ve been conditioned by our surroundings, our peers, our well-meaning but sometimes equally confused parents and communities to look outside of ourselves for all the answers.

That’s the paradigm that most of the modern world (at least the Western world) lives in. (I would argue that the Eastern world has – and has always had – a much better grip on this topic.)

view from behind of woman sitting on bench looking at water

I want to challenge you to flip that paradigm on its head. To awaken to the incredible power you have within you to create your own reality and be in charge of (not necessarily in control) of how you experience the world around you.

Let me illustrate my point with some examples.

When you are living from the outside in, you:
– seek the approval of others define your value as a human being, and consequently your own sense of worthiness
– measure your success by the magnitude of your external achievements
– are constantly trying to prove yourself (and your worth) to the outside world
– compare yourself to others, because everything is a competition and if you’re not winning you are losing, and therefore “less than”
– are so focused on yourself that you miss out on opportunities for connection with others
– feel unsure about who you are and/or what you want because you’ve been too busy trying to do and be what you thought you were supposed to do and be
– are stressed, overwhelmed, or burned out because you’re saying yes when you mean no, or no when you mean yes and are stretched too thin to take care of yourself or recharge
– are either worrying about the future (anxiety) or obsessing about the past (regret) and/or have mostly negative emotions throughout the day

When you are living from the inside out, you instead:
– choose to love and accept yourself, fiercely, and release the need for external validation
– measure your success by your willingness to try and fail, your commitment to continued growth and learning, and by being a kind and good-hearted person who has compassion for others
– train yourself to focus on your own priorities, and if you feel jealousy arising you  celebrate their success, and use it to inspire your own commitment to your goals
– you are so grounded and accepting of yourself that you can focus your attention outward and be present during opportunities to connect with others
– are doing the inner work to know yourself and your desires intimately, and then are calmly moving and growing toward those goals and dreams
– prioritize self care, set strong boundaries, communicate clearly and very intentionally choose how you spend your time, energy, and other resources, leaving you feeling an inner peace and balance while still being productive and efficient.
– plan for the future and learn from the past, but spend most of your time in the present and know how to manage your emotions, and experience mostly positive feelings through the day

Can you relate to any of the above? Are you living mostly from the outside in or from the inside out? If you are admitting to yourself that you’re mostly outside in, it’s time to let that shit go. Seriously. It’s making life so much more painful and complicated than it needs to be.

side view of man walking down stairs holding box

So take my hand and come join me in the inside out. (Sounds almost like a Stranger Things reference to the upside down, haha!) I’m not there 100% of the time (I doubt anyone is) but it’s where I spend most of my time these days and I can teach you how.

It takes work and patience. You have you practice. There will be discomfort. You’ll need to retrain your brain and untangle a pile of stinky old habits, but it’s absolutely possible.

And the rewards are delightful.

Not only will you start to feel a blissful sense of inner peace and calm, but you’ll start to be able to manage your own energy and emotions with the power of your mind. It feels like some sort of spooky magic. Basically, you become the wizard of your own magical world.

view from front of woman with hat sitting on a bench looking to the side

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about being delusional or ignoring the facts and science of the world around you. I’m talking about teaching yourself to see the same world that everyone else is living in and looking at through a completely new set of eyes, with a heart full of self-love and gratitude, and an unquenchable curiosity and passion for life.

It’s awesome. Come and play. Want support with this? I’d love to help.

Relationship hack: An easier way to keep in touch

Can you think of a relationship you struggle to maintain? I mean just staying in regular contact with the people you love? I know I do.

Stack of old letters: how we used to maintain a relationship from afar

Whether it’s living too far away from extended family and old friends, being too busy with work and other obligations, or simply not having the energy by the end of the day, we have plenty of compelling excuses for letting our most important relationships fade away.

Sure, most of us loosely follow each other on social media these days but, let’s be honest, looking at and liking someone’s vacation pictures is NOT the same as actually having a conversation with them.

Most people I know would love to have better contact with certain people in their lives. And yet how many of us actually make an effort to change it? This has been on my mind recently because, personally, I’m pretty terrible at keeping in touch with people. The most poignant example of this is my contact with my dad.

He lives in Sweden and while we have a great relationship and I try to go visit when I can, neither one of us is very good at initiating contact or doing so regularly. I hated that sometimes months would go by without us talking.

So I decided to finally do something about it! 

I used one of my favorite time management hacks, which is putting things on a calendar instead of (or in addition to) a to do list, as a way of truly committing to and prioritizing them.

This is something I recommend to clients all the time. And I realized it’s also a powerful strategy when it comes to deepening relationships. Here’s what you do:

Simply add a regular recurring event to your calendar as a standing date with the person you’d like to reestablish or deepen your relationship with. That’s it! 

A couple of months ago I suggested to my dad that we schedule a weekly phone call. We found a time that would work most weeks, despite the 9 hour time difference, and now every Monday I get to start not just my day but my week with a 30 minute phone call with my dad to go with my morning coffee. I get off the phone feeling so happy (and tender) after our conversations and it’s very comforting to know it’s a weekly thing.

Jars of coffee beans, because sharing coffee together is one of the sacred ways we bond and deepen a relationship

Whether we are simply catching up and sharing our plans for the coming week or laughing together and telling stories, or going deep and philosophizing about the world and life, it’s been incredibly meaningful for us to have that regular check in, since we historically haven’t. It’s been working so well that I even set up a similar but in person version of the same thing with my sister!

Now, it’s your turn. Is there someone in your life you’ve been wishing you could have more frequent contact with? Get them on your calendar!

Make it a monthly or weekly thing. Whether it’s a get together, a Skype date, a phone call, or even just a text check-in, committing to the regular practice, just like you would with any other practice (e.g. a morning ritual), removes so many of the challenges – the mental challenge of remembering to reach out, the scheduling challenge of finding a time that works, and the emotional challenge of feeling guilty that you’re not maintaining that relationship. Try it and let me know how it goes 🙂

In middle school I desperately wanted to be popular

In middle school I desperately wanted to be popular.
 
Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was well liked by most people (since by then I was pretty adept at the art of people pleasing, ha) and I definitely had a little core group of awesome friends.
 
But, I was by no means one of the “popular kids”. I remember standing by my locker, I think it must’ve been in 8th grade, being happy enough with my middle school existence, but often staring longingly at the lockers across the green, where the popular kids were. I wanted to be part of their world.
two people's feet and one backpack
 
I grew more bold toward the end of 8th grade. By the time I was ready to start planning my 13th birthday, I decided to take a risk.
 
I would throw myself a big party. And I would invite THEM. Gulp 😱
 
What if no one came and everyone laughed at me? What if they all came, and then all laughed at me? TO MY FACE!
 
I was terrified. But I did it anyway. My mom helped me rent a room at a hotel in Redondo Beach. We hired a DJ. I sent out invitations. Then I sat by the phone, in agony, praying that someone would RSVP. At first, crickets. I was convinced no one would come.
 
Then eventually, the RSVPs started to roll in. Lots of them actually. Even some of the cool kids said yes. I was excited but skeptical. One girl called and casually asked who else was coming.
 
I froze. My heart sank. All my fears about the popular kids were coming true. She’ll only come if the other ones come. See?! They don’t care about the little people like me. I mumbled that I wasn’t sure yet, but offered to read some names from the invite list. She must have heard some names she liked, because she said “ok great, I’ll come!”
 
The day came and I stood in the empty hotel room, a mix of confusing emotions swirling around in me. Proud of myself for taking the risk. Excited at the prospect of a fun party. And almost nauseous by how outside my comfort zone I had been for weeks.
 
I can still see my outfit clearly. White denim shorts with a belt. White T-shirt. A patterned vest. (Remember the vests?! Omg, the 90’s.) I had a perm (because, obvi) and a side part and had blow dried my bangs. I’m sure I was wearing some jewelry from Claire’s Boutique. Probably a peace sign choker. 
 
And then they came. They all came. And it turned out to be a really fun party. We danced. We opened presents. We ate cake. It was innocent and fun and for a few hours I felt accepted and free.
 
That day taught me a lot of things. It taught me that taking risks is important. That my assumptions about people are not always true.
It taught me that while, sure, a few of the popular kids were popular for the wrong reasons, most of them were just normal kids, who were probably popular because they were extroverted, friendly, and brave enough to connect with people.
 
It also confirmed to me that I wanted to break out of my shell, stop playing it so safe, and connect with lots of different people.
When I got to high school I took very intentional steps to do so. I took a public speaking class, two years of drama, and challenged myself to engage and connect more in the social circles I found myself in. And it worked. I loved high school, had great friends in several different groups and finally let go of the desperate need to be like by any particular social group.
 
Now, at 37 years old, as I spend more time outside my comfort zone and find myself addressing a bigger audience, I find some of those old familiar fears coming back to whisper in my ear. Right now they’re extra loud because I’m forcing myself to be vulnerable and put my latest offering out in the world.
 
Fortunately, I have the tools and wisdom now to see them for what they are. When they show up, I greet them – my inner critics, my ego, and the fears that I’ve come to know so well. I thank them for so reliably doing the job they’re meant to do — keeping me safe.
 
I also hear the voice of the little girl inside me. 8th grade me. Wondering if anyone will show up to the party. What if no one comes? And everyone laughs? It’s amazing how strong those past beliefs and fears can still feel.
 
And then I also hear the obvious strength in her tiny voice, the power that’s always been there, urging me to take the risks and do the things.
 
So, I tell the fears to kindly fuck off. Because, I’ve got this. 
I’ve got my big girl pants on now and I know that it doesn’t actually matter what anyone else thinks. I can speak my truth, take inspired action, and create things. I’m always going to be okay because I am enough and I am worthy and everything else is just a fun experiment in this amazing journey of life that I’m on.
two wooden hearts, one with the word "love" on it

Thank you 8th grade me. Thank you for your innocence, your insecurities, your imperfections. Thank you for being an awesomely awkward and angsty teen. And thank you for having the wisdom, from an early age, to also be willing to grow and learn, to question things. Thank you for paving the way for this weird ass path I’ve been on. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I forgive you. And I love you.

6 Simple Ways to Change Your Life

The deeper I dive into personal development, the more I’m struck by the fact that some of the most profound and life altering transformations come from the simplest of shifts. One slight change in perspective, or way of doing things, can fundamentally alter your life.

In service of that truth, here are six super simple things you can to do in your daily life that could completely change how you experience your life and how people experience you.

1. Answer the question “how are you?” honestly
Ditch the default answers like “fine” or “busy”. Instead, pause for a moment, check in with yourself, and then speak your truth. No need to tell a whole story. Just tell them how you really feel in that moment. They may shrug it off and be on their way. Or, you may be pleasantly surprised to find you’ve created an opening for a real, genuine connection.

Close up of young woman's face

2. Receive compliments gracefully
If you get awkward when someone compliments you, this one’s for you. Instead of denying the compliment (which robs the complimenter of the pleasure of acknowledging you), just thank them sincerely. Don’t automatically return the compliment (which can belittle theirs) or deflect it by changing the subject either. Just take a deep breathe and receive. It can be very vulnerable for people to give genuine praise, so when they do, honor them by savoring the moment, letting it land, and appreciating the feedback.

3. Make good eye contact
It’s amazing how much connection you can create with another human being (or animal, for that matter) simply by looking them in the eye. Don’t stare in a creepy way, obviously, just pause and look for the feeling of their energy coming into contact with yours. It’s such a beautiful and simple thing that I’m afraid many of us are too busy and distracted to take advantage of. Look, connect, and smile. You might make someone’s day. Or your own.

Cute dog staring into camera

4. Pause and breathe more often
Simply pausing long enough to take a long conscious inhale has SO many benefits, not just for you, but the people around you too. Imagine what kind of world we’d be living in if more people slowed down, breathed deeply, and felt more grounded? Set a timer to ding every hour if you need to, or train yourself to associate mindful breathing with something you do a bunch anyway (like drinking water or pulling out your phone).

5. Do things differently
We are such creatures of habit, and it’s healthy for our brains to switch things up. Here are a some examples to get you started: Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Take a different route to work. Read a real book instead of your Kindle. Talk less, and listen more. Wear something unconventional (for you) to work. Get creative. Question how you do everything. Each moment is an opportunity to challenge your habits and grow yourself.

View of bridge from car driving on it

6. Stand tall
Our physiology has a huge impact on how we feel. Practice being more aware of your posture when you sit, walk, and especially when you interact with other people. Not only will you come across as more confident, but you’ll feel more confident, and be in a better place to own who you are, speak your mind, and be true to what’s important to you. Plus, it looks much sexier than poor posture 😉

These are all incredibly simple and straight forward ideas. But, any one of them could absolutely change your life, how you feel, and how you impact the world around you, if you really committed to it. I say pick one and give it a go.

The Possquivel Wedding Report

When my husband and I started planning our wedding, we decided we wanted to do things a little differently.

Everything about it was intended to be a reflection of who we are. We’re big on authenticity and adventure in our daily lives, and saw no reason for our wedding to be any different.

bride and dog after the wedding ceremony

This is the story of how we pulled it off.

First and foremost, we refused to subscribe to the silly notion that wedding planning has to be stressful, and decided to make it fun and laid back instead. It totally worked, AND the end result was even better than we had anticipated!

The most crucial agreement we made, by far, was to be intentional. We wanted the whole experience to be simple, meaningful, and fun.

Here is how we approached the planning.

Six months before the wedding, we started having weekly check-ins. Admittedly, many of these check-ins happened in the hot tub while drinking wine, which definitely set the tone for not taking ourselves too seriously.

Early on, we let go of things being perfect and embraced the idea of them being perfectly imperfect instead. We placed a higher value on our communication and connection than on getting all the details right.

Throughout the planning process, we stuck to our guns and didn’t do anything we didn’t want to do, were willing to break the rules, and made sure to stay true to ourselves and our relationship, regardless of what anyone else had to say.

I decided I would have the most fun if I showed up as a badass bride, which meant staying grounded and calm, being playing and unapologetically me, and seeing it as a creative and fun challenge.

Since community is important to us, we created a Facebook group for our guests, so that our family and friends could meet each other, we could introduce our vendors, and everyone could share their excitement for the upcoming event.

screenshot from wedding facebook group

Here are a few of the highlights from the weekend that stand out to me, either because they felt unique and a bit unconventional, and others were simply SO much fun.

At my bachelorette party, instead of wine tasting, a spa day, or hitting the bars, my sister rented us a house and we had a sleepover, which included a Fierce Goddess ceremony, facilitated by an incredible spiritual teacher. Also, one of my girls brought me a mermaid tail. A MERMAID TAIL! (In case you didn’t know, I am obsessed with mermaids.)

silhouette of bride in mermaid tail

Despite weeks of shitty forecasts practically guaranteeing rain, we insisted on hosting not one, but two outdoor events, much to both our mothers’ chagrin. Friday’s party was in a park by the water, and the ceremony on Saturday was in the backyard of my in-law’s house. Both days, the rain cleared just in time. Thank you, rain gods!

The welcome party on Friday was in lieu of a rehearsal dinner. We had a wood fire pizza oven food truck, beer, and lawn games. And customized beer koozies.

beer koozies at welcome party day before wedding

Here’s an aerial view of the last group of stragglers at the welcome party taken by our friend Conor’s drone (his first day playing with it – not bad!)

We each had five people in our wedding party. But one of my bridesmaids was actually my fabulous, gay bridesman, Graham! He came to the bachelorette sleepover too.

My mom walked me down the aisle. Since my father wasn’t there, but my two stepdads were, I wanted to both honor my father by not putting another man in his place, and also acknowledge my mom for her primary role in my upbringing. It felt so right.

We wrote our own vows for the ceremony, which was led by one of my favorite mentors, who talked about Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine energy, called in the spirit of those who couldn’t be there (including my dad in Sweden), and acknowledged our ancestors.

The only reading during the otherwise short and sweet ritual, was the first three verses of “Nothing Else Matters”. I have to assume most of our guests thought it was just a nice poem until the end when my bridesmaid Nikki, with her sweet British accent, revealed that it was a song by the (heavy metal) band Metallica.

When the DJ announced our arrival at Guaymas, the Mexican restaurant where we held our reception, we walked in to the theme song to Game of Thrones. Our DJ’s response when we asked if he could play it was “anything for the realm.”

The seating arrangements chart listed our guests’ names under tables that were named after countries we plan to visit. The tables themselves? They had only flags.

Given our upcoming travel adventure, we urged guests to please not bring any physical gifts and created a page on Zola, so that they could contribute to our travel adventure if they wished, instead.

Our first dance (which I don’t think anyone saw coming except maybe a few people who knew that I used to do be obsessed with Lindy Hop) was a playful swing dance routine to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”.

Our DJ was ridiculous. You can read my Yelp review for him here for the full breakdown of the musical journey he took us on. One of the highlights of the night was when Chris and his dad, Carlos, had a dance off to Silento’s “Watch me” (or “Whip the Nae Nae” as Carlos calls it). Enough said.

Obviously I’m biased, but I seriously think it may have been the most EPIC wedding weekend of all time.

I hope this story inspires you. While it could be read as just a recap of a fun party weekend and the planning leading up to it, it’s really about something much deeper.

It’s about the power of intention. It’s about our ability to stay grounded and aligned with what we value most. And it’s about the importance of clear communication and deep human connection, rather than attachment to details and perfectionism.

Do You Have a Powerful Morning Ritual?

Do you have a morning ritual? I’m betting you do. But do you do your morning ritual on purpose or by default? Most of us tend to get into at least some kind of a routine and do more or less the same things every morning. Are you conscious or on autopilot?

The goal is to become conscious of what you currently do, so that you can decide if it’s working for you or not. Once you have the self-awareness, then you can make a powerful choice about whether to keep that ritual or design something that works better.

What’s the point of a morning ritual anyway?

A ritual is special – it adds meaning to your day. Whereas a routine is something you do regularly, a ritual is something you do regularly that has a point. It’s intentional, not just the default. 

I love the word ritual, because it implies a certain ceremony or sacredness. It’s an opportunity to show respect. To honor not only yourself but the life you are creating.

Let’s say you’re now aware of what your default morning routine is and you want to create something more POWERFUL – a meaningful ritual as opposed to a default routine. How do you create one?

There is no right way to do a morning ritual. The idea is to design something that is both effective and meaningful for YOU.

For one person, it might be 5 minutes of meditation, 20 pushups, a cold shower and then boom, they’re done. For someone else, it may be an elaborate 2 hour ceremony including prayer, journaling, yoga, candles, setting intentions for the day, and a gratitude practice. Or maybe it’s just a great cup of coffee while you read the newspaper.

It doesn’t matter what’s included in your ritual, as long as it sets the tone for your day. So ask yourself this – what state of mind do you want to be in when you start your work day?What kind of energy would support your work and lifestyle? Consider how much time you can and want to devote to your morning ritual and what would be an effective and powerful use of that time.

Here are some suggestions for different components you might include:

Movement
An intense bootcamp class, a brisk walk, yoga, or even a dance party in your living room. Find what works for you and gives you the kind of energy you need.

Journaling
Putting pen to paper is so powerful. Especially since we live in an increasingly digital world. Try journaling as a way to clear your mind and connect with your inner wisdom.

Nature
Seriously, mother nature wants to hook you up. Do what you can to tap into that. Exercise outdoors, walk barefoot on the beach, or just breathe some fresh air. Life giving.

Stillness
We’re bombarded with information all day. Our minds need peace and quiet to balance it out. Find stillness in prayer, meditation, or simply breathing mindfully for a few minutes.

Mindfulness
Create a gratitude practice, set an intention for the day, say affirmations, or review your goals. Start the day in a conscious way, connecting to what’s most important to you.

Strategy
Instead of going through your day in reaction mode, have a strategy. You’ll be more effective and focused if you know what you plan to do and why.

Read
As in, read something helpful. Not facebook. Not the news. Read a book on business or a blog that inspires you. Whatever is meaningful and helpful to you.

Creativity
What inspires you? Incorporate music, candles, incense, or whatever elements make it fun and magical. Call on ancestors, spirit guides, or pull a goddess card if that works for you!

Whatever you come up with, I recommend keeping it simple, at least in the beginning. Remember, you’re going to try to do it every day. Don’t be afraid to experiment and mix it up until you find what truly energizes you.