A memory was jolted back to life when talking about why we don’t cry enough with an estranged acquaintance. This flooding memory made me think, why don’t we cry more? Not just for pain and hurt, but for joy, love, hope, and connection?

My first tears of joy occurred during the summer of 2014. I was 34 years old, on the last day of a solo month travel in Bali. The day was out of a storybook where every thought that appeared in mind became a tangible reality. But there was a quiet, special moment when I emerged onto a path of seeing a long awaited rice field where the sun began to fall behind the terrain, and a shimmering light pierced through trees to bask its reflection onto a pond swarming with butterfly’s. In this moment, I fell to my knees, looked up to the sky and with a gracious heart said “thank you” with tears streaming down my face.  Before this August day, my tears were only associated with pain. Not love or joy. I was living a challenging existence.

The depth of experiences others have felt throughout life, is yet to be known by those who don’t experience them, however, I know what it feels like to be afraid, grieve, have shame, a shattered heart, betrayal, judgement, and to feel unloved. I buried myself in a career that diminished my passion, allowed myself to be kept as a secret in relationships that I thought were meaningful: I played “victim” when I was also part of the problem, and to walked through life numb medicated by distractions, food, exercise, and meaningless experiences.

By working through “pain” my discovery has led me down a path of internal investigation that has turned a switch on inside of my heart that is now full of acceptance for who I am in this very moment and the woman I continually grow to be. It means taking vulnerable measures, having a dream and going after it without expecting anything in return.

The journey began when I was ready. Ready to unveil tears of joy and admit that where I stood in life, the crossroads, in denial, and stuck in fear of making drastic changes would be the catalyst for monumental growth. It was time to overhaul poor habitual decision-making practices, which led to sabotaging behaviors that kept me stuck and unsatisfied in vital aspects of life.

While in Bali, I had the opportunity to disconnect from the material world, familiarity, friends, and circumstances, which unveiled the canvas to connect with my inner world, spiritual heart, new tastes, likes, dislikes and curious discoveries. Being immersed into a different pattern gave my heart courage to blossom and experience how to love myself which is something I thought I knew how to do. But really, I gave that power away to others, to my career, to a false reality by seeking the need of reassurance only to be hurt, broken, and left to put the missing pieces together.

And since real-life for many of us does not allow taking a month break from it all to travel solo, below are a few takeaways that keep me on the everyday path of emergence which serve as reminders on HOW to love myself better so that I don’t rely on someone giving me something that is already mine to be created and received:

Get clear.

Start with stream of consciousness writing without any form of judgment and without rereading the pages. The fluid experience of free flow will deepen the realm of existence, connection, and self-acceptance.

Get uncomfortable.

Feel the itch but don’t scratch it. Sit in the space of agitation, anxiousness while being immersed in awareness. Examples: If a text appears on the phone that raises any emotion (get your truth barometer ready), don’t reply or take 24 hours (or more) to respond. Take a wrong turn and use your instincts to navigate direction. Have the courage to try something different from eating a new type of food, listening to a new music genre, etc. Get out of your familiar zone to feel who you really are.

Forgive.

I have learned to forgiven the antics of those who operate with lack of conscious decision making tools. However, I do proceed having them in my life with caution. Forgiveness frees the heart and teaches us lessons we need to learn.

Eat Clean.

Food in our bodies can be toxic or help us thrive. If food is alive, it has not been sitting on a shelf; usually has less than five ingredients that a third grader can pronounce and feels satisfying when eaten. There is a direct correlation with our energy levels and the kind of food we eat. In order to get clear, and to find the emotional awakening of allowing tears of joy to surface, clean eating is just a small piece of the master plan.

Practice Yoga.

It is a practice in which individuals are reminded how life patterns show up in our bodies through movement, thoughts, and reactions to bodily stress. Yoga has saved my life and continues to save the lives of others. This gateway to “Self” is a treasure chest of life waiting to awaken the soul.

Ask Questions.

Without questioning beliefs, thoughts, actions of others, feelings, circumstances, we are left in a pool of stagnation. It is possible to get curious and not every know the answer while being a vital variable of the overall plan. Unless you are a mind-reader, the autopilot GPS is going to encounter some detours and roadblocks, but those are the best kind of moments when truth appears.

Laugh.

When was the last time you laughed so hard tears emerged? If you can’t remember, it has been too long and it’s time to be a kid again and reframe the seriousness of life.

Learn.

Without growth, what do we have when everything else is constantly changing in the world? Jump on the learning train and be moved, inspired, fascinated by the unlimited potential that is just waiting to be set free.

Feel.

Joy, sadness, grief, laughter, or pleasure for no reason at all. Be moved. It is an innate human condition. Do this without judgment knowing that you are safe, protected and ready to let go of any condition that hinders what is means to feel and be awake.

Practice Gratitude.

Are you breathing? Be grateful. Do your arms, legs, eyes, and vital organs work? Be grateful. Is there a roof over your head? Be grateful. Start small and allow the magnitude of gratitude to manifest.

Service.

What are you here to learn? What are you here to practice? What are you here to teach? Do this through service. No matter how large or small, step beyond yourself to give something away without any expectation of return. Your heart will thank you.

Sometimes it takes falling to your knees in gratitude for where you are with the simplicity of life being held at your fingertips to truly know how powerful love is from the inside out. If you find yourself at a crossroads, and are not sure what self-love is, you are not alone. It is a playground for discovery, acceptance, and joy just waiting for your permission to proceed. It takes letting go of the story that we think we are to embrace the gifts of what is truly means to live, love, and shine.

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