Letting Go...Embracing Change...

Living the Life I Dream

A Delicate Matter

Posted by on Jun 30, 2013 in Blog | 9 comments

A Delicate Matter

“You share with people who earn the right to hear your story.” Dr. Brene Brown

It’s a delicate matter. It really is.

I really don’t know how to proceed. As I consider my options, a lot is coming up for me and  I keep hearing the words “earned the right” in my head over and over again.

I agree with those who say we have people in our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. As a person who heavily vests myself in those who cross my path, I don’t always like this. As someone who doesn’t want to let go, who wants to stay in the thick of it and work things out, I’m beginning to accept this truth. I’m slowly becoming more at peace with the idea that some people are just reason/season folks and that it’s o.k. It’s really o.k.

Because the bottom line is that not everyone has “earned the right” to hear my truth. Not everyone gets to call me on my bullshit. I don’t always have to work through it or hash it out.

It’s a delicate matter. It really is.

I really don’t know how to proceed. I’m really not sure how one sets the criteria to determine who has earned the right. I’m really not sure how one decides when enough is enough.

I know that for me it’s been a complicated and convoluted journey. I do have a few breaking points, but mostly I’ve had too many spongy boundaries; too many second and third and one thousand and ninety-eighth chances. I’m getting better. I know that at the end of the day the only person who I can save/change is me. I believe that being honest and standing firm in my truth is the best I can do on any day. It’s the best any of us can do.

Because the bottom line is that not everyone wants or needs to be saved (especially by me). People really need to be given the time and the space and the freedom to own their journey, to walk their path, and work out their own issues at their own pace.

It’s a delicate matter. It really is.

I really don’t know how to proceed. My heart is filled with love and respect. I am here and I will stay. I will continue to show up, to be loving, and to be present. I hope that I have earned the right to hear the truth, to call bullshit, and to be part of the conversation as it’s worked through and hashed out.

Because the bottom line is that we need to make sure that the people we allow in our lives have the highest and best intentions for us. We each deserve to be surrounded by people who love and accept us. People who support us. People willing to hold space for us.

It’s a delicate matter. It really is.

I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. I say the wrong things. I do the wrong things. All. The. Time. I ask myself…When I mess up do I make up? Do I apologize? Do I try to fix it? I mean really try to fix it. Or do I arrogantly cleave to my right to be right?

Because the bottom line is that we need realize that while love is unconditional relationships aren’t. Ever. Relationships have conditions and boundaries. Relationships require mutual trust and respect. Always. Relationships require compassion and empathy and time and space.

We earn the right to be in relationships one word, one gesture, one kindness, and one apology at a time.

It’s a delicate matter. It really is.

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Posted by on Jun 11, 2013 in Blog | 10 comments


“Good boundaries don’t occur naturally. They need to be studied and practiced.” – Nina McIntosh

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about holding space for myself and for what’s important. Once I cut through all the goal setting drama and still more drama and then some additional drama and got down to the business of really deciding what I wanted, I realized that none of it was going to happen unless I chose to hold space for what I had decided was most important.

As much as I was deciding what I was going to do, I was also deciding what I was no longer going to do. As much as I was deciding how I was going to live, I was also deciding how I was not going to live. I was separating what I wanted from what I didn’t want.

What I was really doing was setting boundaries. I’m not always comfortable with boundaries.

Even though I say I really want “X,” I also really want the option of choosing different on a whim. I’ve wanted to be able to, at the drop of a hat, do whatever I please when I please. I’ve wanted complete flexibility and freedom.  Life doesn’t work like that.

  • If I want health, I have to choose to drink water and eat good foods and work out.
  • If I want friends, I have to spend time with awesome people.
  • If I want work I love, I have to figure out what I really like to do, do it, and be willing to accept compensation for my efforts.
  • If I want to learn new skills, I have to invest time and money in programs and books to teach me what I need to know.
  • If I want to write, I have to write. 
  • If I want to save money, I can’t spend it.

It’s sounds pretty easy, but it’s some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. It’s easy to eat crap and lay around and watch bad TV and work a job you don’t love and buy the cute dress. But showing up, being present, being intentional, staying on course is hard, hard work.

As I move through my day I constantly question myself. Is this moving me towards my goals? Do I feel expansive in this situation? Is this helping or hindering my progress? Is this the best choice for me, right now?

What I’m finding is I’m beginning to feel more comfortable with boundaries. I’m starting to realize they protect me and keep me on track.

I’m thinking about putting my boundaries in writing. This scares me, just like writing down my goals, populating my vision boards with images, and making a bucket list scared me. What I realize now is that there is power in committing our thoughts to words and images. So, I think I’ll devote some time in the upcoming months to defining in writing just where my boundaries lie.

I’m curious: how do you protect your time and stay focused on your intentions? What boundaries do you have to keep you on track? Have you written your boundaries down and if so did it make them feel more intentional? Please feel free to share in the comments below or email me at denise.stewart@gmail.com.

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On The Cusp

Posted by on Jun 5, 2013 in Blog | 9 comments

On The Cusp

“Wherever the fates lead us let us follow.” – Virgil

Recently, I find myself on a cusp. I’ve been eliminating and simplifying, carefully considering the value and necessity of what I keep in my life. I’ve turned in my notice at the J-O-B and am intently working on a few projects that I will be sharing soon. I feel for the first time in a very long time that I am in transition; an extremely good transition.

Right now, what I most want to do is focus. I want to go deep. I just want to give myself a bit of time to grow. I’ve decided to honor these urges by holding space for myself.

I’m still writing; even more than before. I’m still here; even more present than before. For the next little bit, I am keeping my attention on these projects and the things I need to learn to bring them to fruition. I’m tending to my soul and nourishing my body. I’m loving those whom I adore and holding them close in my life and my heart.

This website has become a very special place for me. I hope it is for you too. If you’re so inclined, you can subscribe using the box to your right. That way you won’t miss a thing. In the meantime, if you need to get in touch hit me up on facebook as I hang out there from time to time.

Now, a question for you. What are one or two things you need to do to honor yourself and your journey? What do you do to hold space for yourself? I hope you’ll take a second to share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.



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Tools In My Box or Embrace the Woo: An Introduction

Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Blog | 5 comments

Tools In My Box or Embrace the Woo: An Introduction

We all have tools in our box. What I mean is each of us has certain things we do to help us cope when we feel stress. Some of us grab a glass of wine or drink beer in the shower. Others shop or watch endless hours of tv. I know people who hit the gym to let off steam and others who say that spending an hour in a yoga class makes all the difference in the world.

None of these things are necessarily good or bad in and of themselves. It’s only when the thing we are doing begins to prevent us from accomplishing our dreams or negatively effects our health and finances or starts to harm our relationships with family and friends that we have to step back and decide if it’s a behavior we want to continue.

Many years ago, as the mother of three small children living in Knoxville, Tennessee, I developed a shopping problem. Knoxville’s weather pretty much sucks year round. Summer’s are fraught with humidity and thunderstorms and winter’s are dank and gray. Spring brings some of the the coldest weather of the year and fall’s rotting leaves set off my mold allergies. Did I mention the mosquitos? Yep, we had those too.

Many of my days were tedious at best. To break the monotony of changing diapers, wiping noses, and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I would load the kids up in the mini van and head to West Town Mall or Target. In that climate controlled, bug free environment, the kids were entertained and distracted and I got a temporary reprieve from my domestic duties.

While we pushed up and down the aisles, I’d spot a dress that was perfect for my daughter, see dish clothes to replace the ones with holes, or pick up new socks for my husband. I’d grab some laundry detergent and a pair of shoes for myself and $50 or $75 or $100 later, I was on my way home.

I always had coupons and I always shopped sales. I always bought things we really, really needed. It was all good.

Except that by doing this once or twice weekly over a period of months, I found that I had run up some considerable credit card debt. Honestly, I was stunned. How could my forays to “gather” the things we needed have caused this problem?

For weeks, I went through bank and credit card statements. I started monitoring my spending carefully. I started asking myself the question, “what is enough?” I changed my shopping behavior and I paid down the debt.

Most important, I recognized that the shopping was my way of escaping from the stress of being mom for a bit. In a store, I could distract myself. Buying stuff was fun. I got a little rush from that new set of note cards. I could dream about the family home I was going to decorate, how cute the kids would look in their new clothes, and how happy they’d be reading the book I just bought.

As I combed through the statements, I realized what I really needed was a break from being mom. So, I enrolled my kids in a great mother’s day out program where they could safely play for a few hours each week. I found an amazing sitter with a flexible schedule who could help out from time to time. Finally, I started doing production work for television commercials where I could spend a couple of days each week earning money and hanging with people who didn’t want to talk about children’s bowl movements, Barney, or teething.

Now when I shop, I do it because I need something. I have my target items firmly in mind and a set budget in place. I hit the store, look for what I need, and leave as soon as I find or don’t find it. There is no more wiling the hours away as I distract myself from the stress of my days.

I wish I could say that this was the only negative coping pattern which I’ve fallen into. I wish I could say from this point forward I found lots of positive ways to hadle my stress. Sadly, that’s not the case. While I extinguished this one particular negative habit, there have been others like this one and this one.

We absolutely should do everything we can to limit the drama and stress in our day to day lives. Even doing this, there will still be stressful situations that crop up from time to time. Good, happy, positive situations cause stress too. Starting a new job or business is a happy, stressful time. Being creative, while yielding amazing results, pushes our stress buttons. Birthdays, weddings, and celebrations of all kinds add stress to our lives.

I realized I needed tools to help me deal with stress be it positive or negative as it cropped up. I needed techniques to keep me in a happy and relaxed state of mind all the time. I needed methods to keep me on track so I could handle whatever was thrown my way good or bad.

So, I started looking for tools I could put in my box. Things I could go back to over and over and over again that wouldn’t make me fat or run up the balance on my credit card or harm my relationships. I’ve delved deep and tried many different things. Some worked wonders and others were just meh.

To be honest, many of the things I tried felt weird and seemed freaky and kind of woo-woo. I have no clear cut understanding of why the woo works, I just know that it does. My scientific brain wants clear cut schematics, but in the end, I decided to just embrace the woo. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of my favorite tools here. Among them are prayer, affirmations, forgiveness, gratitude, tapping, physical activity, and meditation, to name a few.

These are the things that I use daily to keep myself at peace and employ anytime I feel that little stress bubble forming in my belly. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride. Feel free to jump in with comments and questions. If you like what you read, please share it with your friends. Don’t want to miss an essay? Subscribe to get updates in your inbox using the box to your right. Thanks for being here. It means a lot to me.

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