What To Do When You Need a Hug and Live Alone

I remember a specific instance when I was in college where I needed a hug. Not a “Hey, it’s good to see you!” hug, but an embrace that would almost crush my lungs with the force of it.

I went to my friend Marco’s house and told him to hug me as hard as he could, even if he broke a rib. That’s what I needed.

Marco, being the good friend that he is, hugged me just hard enough I was convinced he would break a rib but stopped just short of the actual crack. It was one of the most cathartic, memorable hugs of my lifetime and I am forever grateful.

You know that feeling you get when you just…need a hug? 

Like, a big bear hug that completely envelopes you and relays the fact that you’re safe and you’re ok and you’re accepted and you’re loved and it probably hurts but in all the right ways?

What if you live alone/are traveling/are introverted and can’t get that immediate body-to-body fix?

Here is a list of my favorite ways to get the same affects of the bear hug when you can’t get the real thing:

  • hug your pet
    • putting your ear on a heartbeat will automatically reduce yours, not to mention, most pets can tell when you’re feeling down and they’re willing to do anything they can to bring your mood up!
  • snuggle your teddy-phant
    • I seriously still have my stuffed animal from my infant years. His name is Buddy and he’s an elephant who is almost totally decapitated, losing his arms, his tail and is the perfect size for a snuggle
  • cuddle a pillow
    • It’s soft and almost always readily available
  • treat yourself to a guilty pleasure date
    • What treats to you want to eat/sip/watch/listen to that you don’t necessarily divulge to your friends and family? (wine, cheese and replays of Queer Eye, anyone?)
  • reach out (even if only via text) to people you know are a positive force
    • you don’t have to tell them you need a hug, just the contact will help
  • draw a hot bath
    • bonus points for candles, salts, bubbles and a good book
  • journal self love and self care
    • write out your gratitudes and the things that you’ve done that make you proud!
  • find things that please your senses
    • soft things, smooth things, things that smell good, sound good (silence is always a winner), taste good, things that are easy to digest through all the senses

Recently I had such an evening where I felt like I needed a hug. It was a flip from how I’d been feeling the majority of the day and it felt urgent. In the past, I might’ve turned to drinking or meaningless sex as a coping mechanism that would ultimately leave me feeling worse the next day. I’m glad to have these new tools in my arsenal to deploy in times of need so that I can continue to get to know myself, find myself, be myself and love myself instead of reverting to old, unhealthy habits.

How do you give yourself the bear hug you need when there isn’t anyone else around?

Embrace the Beginning. And the Middle. And the End.

As I sit here typing this, I’ve just gotten home from the orthodontist. I got my first set of aligners for my Invisalign treatment and my whole mouth/face/head/body feels a little weird.

The trays/aligners feel huge and obvious, a little rough around the edges and my mouth has a light taste of glue and plastic. Right now it feels as though these plastic teeth-correctors will affect most parts of my life for the foreseeable future (how will I eat? can I really ignore these long enough to sleep? will I ever talk normally again?).

When I got home, I texted my mom to let her know they were in, I’m not sure how I feel about  it and I’ve acquired a lisp in the process. She responded knowing that I’d get used to them and I texted back “I’m ready for the weird beginning part to pass.”

And then I stopped myself.

In this situation, I want to fly past the beginning to get to where these new things feel normal and less awkward and I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming. And yet how many other situations do we bask in the Beginning Excitement and wish that we could keep that new energy going longer?

A new relationship, a new business, a new place to call home, a new car, a new family member or pet?

I think that I (and maybe you, too) need to really focus on appreciating all parts of the journey – the beginning where everything is new, the middle where it becomes a new part of normal and the end, no matter what that looks like. I want to enjoy every stage of life, every stage of growth and change.

So while my tongue keeps exploring the new inhabitants of my mouth and I seem to be producing an inordinate amount of saliva (and anyone who knows me well, knows that saliva is the grossest thing in the world to me), I’ll find all the reasons I need to be embracing this process. I’m grateful that I have the ability to take preventative care of my teeth and my overall health in this way. I’m grateful to have an excellent team nearby who specialize in Invisalign. I’m grateful to be able to have clear plastic braces instead of the painful metal ones.

Are there any areas in your life where you could be enjoying the process a bit more?

Play & Be Naked More | How I Learned to Fall In Love With My Body

This isn’t one of those articles that’s going to tell you how to lose 20 pounds or whittle your waist or which skin products to use to make your body glow.

This also isn’t one of those articles that’s going to tell you which affirmations to use in the mirror every morning or how to meditate yourself into self-love.

What this article is going to do, is walk you through my process of going from hating what I saw in the mirror to actually liking my own reflection. I’m going to share with you the two things that made the biggest impact on my development from constant self-criticism and loathing into body-confidence and self-love.

I specify body-confidence because I believe this is a very specific kind of confidence that women in America are taught from a young age is not allowed. Maybe you were taught that being confident in your body was too sexual and wrong. Maybe you were taught that you could never actually have the perfect body. Maybe you were taught that your body didn’t actually belong to you but instead to everyone else – anyone who could set eyes on it, that your body was only here so that others could judge it as worthy of praise or not.

As most other American girls, I grew up comparing myself to women in the media, on TV, in movies and even other girls at school (this was before social media and I can’t imagine how the carefully curated images of women in bikinis all over Facebook and Instagram would’ve affected me, yikes). In comparing my own body to these other women, I always found flaws with my physical appearance that were unacceptable and induced so much self-loathing its amazing I didn’t spontaneously combust.

As I grew older, I saw other women as beautiful no matter what their shape was – tall or short, curvy or straight, tan or pale – everyone was gorgeous.

Everyone, of course, except myself.

I would never allow myself the grace and admiration I gave to everyone else. Honestly, if I saw another woman on the street who had the exact same body as I do (which is impossible for all of us), I would probably have thought she was gorgeous and yet when I looked in the mirror, all I saw were rolls and flaws and misplaced curves.

I spent decades of my life in this cycle and believed there was no way out.

What’s that Universal Rule that basically says you find what you’re looking for when you stop looking for it?

That same thing happened with my own body-confidence.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to get back into rock climbing – a sport I’d really gotten into in college and in the years afterwards. I remembered it being a fun activity where I only competed with myself and I didn’t have to wait around to be the last person picked for a team. I didn’t want to do it as a way to change my physique, I just wanted another activity to do and another excuse to get outside.

One of my favorite things about climbing is that it’s so unique and individual. Every climber climbs the way that suits them best – their body, their strength, their reach and their mindset. I don’t have the most upper body strength, I’m not very tall, but I have strong legs, great balance and good flexibility. There are so many metaphors between climbing and living; the rocks remind me of the important things in life on a regular basis.

As I started to climb in the mountains near Denver more and more, I picked up my love of hiking and camping again, backpacking to alpine lakes and summiting 14ers. Being in nature is a sure-fire way for me to connect with my soul and fill my cup.

Overtime, I realized that I cared less and less what my body looked like and more about what it could do for me when I was exercising regularly and exercising in ways that made me feel happy, empowered and playful. For me, this means rock climbing, hiking, and basically doing the same stuff I did as a kid when I went outside to play.

The more active I was and the more fun I was having with my body, the less I cared about what it looked like.

Now you might be thinking, “if you’re moving and exercising so much, you must be losing weight and getting that perfect, fit body.” And you’d be wrong. My physique hasn’t changed all that much since I’ve been working out more regularly. I also haven’t stepped on a scale in years so I’m not sure what that would say either although muscle weighs more than fat so I imagine that number to have gone up, if anything.

My own personal value I place toward my body has shifted from “it must look good or else it’s worthless and therefor I’m worthless” to “I want it to work properly so I can keep doing the activities I like to do.”

Find an activity or three that gives you the sense of joy that you used to have when you were a kid playing with your friends! For me, it’s climbing and adventuring outside. For you it could be dancing or playing volleyball or swimming. What did you do as a kid that made you happy and moved your body? Was there something you always wanted to try but didn’t get the chance to?

The second thing that more or less accidentally made me love my body more was spending more time naked.

That’s right.

I was living in my own apartment, alone, and everyone always talks about how if they didn’t have roommates they’d be naked all the time and I wasn’t one of those people. I always had clothes on and was very uncomfortable looking at my naked self in the mirror.

I started being naked more because I almost felt like it was my duty since I didn’t have the constraints of roommates. I had to take one for the team and be naked for all those folks who didn’t have as much opportunity to as I did.

Being naked kind of… normalized…? my body to myself. I’d see myself more frequently in my bathroom mirror and when I looked down to grab a book off the table, instead of a shirt, there would be…me.

Instead of naked time being “Let’s Look In the Mirror and Scrutinize Every Imperfection,” it became time to cook breakfast, clean the living room, read a book – just normal things. We don’t get the opportunity to see “real” bodies very often and what’s more real than our own body?

Having more body-confidence has spilled over and given me more confidence in other areas of life as well. For example, I am able to more fully express myself through my clothing choices. Instead of looking at an outfit and thinking “I could never wear that, my breasts are too small/butt is too big/belly has a pooch/whatever your insecurity is that day,” I wear the thing and it gives off a more accurate representation of who I am and what I like.

I am more comfortable in my own skin and that allows me to express myself more authentically with my words as well. I’m not afraid to meet new people, worried about whether they’re judging my appearance or not.

And of course, I still have bouts of self-doubt, insecurity, inadequacy and anxiety. I still find things that I want to change about my body. The point is, they happen less and less, they hold less power over me and I am able to deal with them better.

A negative thought about my appearance doesn’t send me into a tailspin that could last for days, I remind myself what fun adventures my body can take me on instead. A piece of clothing that doesn’t fit the way I want it to doesn’t launch a full campaign of self-blame, I put the clothes down and find something that *does* fit me properly (it’s not my fault, its the clothes’ fault).

I want this for all humans! YOU are a beautiful soul with a beautiful body. This body is your vessel to get through life. You can’t trade it in for a newer model (not in whole, at least).

Try these 2, simple steps for 6 weeks and send me a message with an update!

  1. Play more – Move your body in ways that make you happy
  2. Spend more time naked

My Authentic Life | Why I’m Transitioning Into Vanlife

I’ve always been a mobile person. When I was a kid, my family moved across the country – twice – and my folks never let a 3-day weekend be spent anywhere but the mountains.

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At first, this was all I knew and I loved playing in the woods, making up games with my brothers and our dogs. We went tent camping, backpacking and progressed through camper sizes as the three of us also grew too big to share the backseat of a Ford Taurus station wagon.

As I got older, my feelings changed and I fought against these trips. I just wanted to stay home with the other kids and make friends – at that age, you made friends by playing on the weekends or school breaks but we couldn’t do that if we were always traveling, camping, backpacking and being in the gosh darn wilderness!

Now that I’m pretending to be an adult and making my own decisions about how to spend my time, I relish my time in nature. I’ve blocked out weekends all summer long so I don’t miss an opportunity to take my pup on an adventure. I’m introducing my friends to the wonders of hiking, backpacking and climbing. All the while, I’m noticing the details in life that make it so special.

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In discovering new trails, I’ve discovered more of who I am inside, as well. I’ve made great strides in the past year to live a more authentic life – find my truth and say screw it to all the other things in life distracting me from pursuing it.

I’ve wanted to live in a vehicle for most of the past ten years and yet, every time I was >thisclose< to making the jump, something came up. I got a job or a relationship or something else in life just wasn’t “convenient” to do while living in a van.

I was still mobile, like it or not, and I haven’t lived in any one location for more than a few months at a time, never fulfilling a lease agreement and hauling all my stuff from one mediocre living situation to the next.

Taking twenty trips back and forth from old house to newest house in my little Subaru reminded me of the days when I could fit everything I own in one load and move it all with my own two hands. It sparked an insatiable fire within me to fully commit to my authentic life – my life in a van.

To me, van life means freedom. Freedom from having an apartment to keep full. Freedom from having to call one small spot on this amazing planet home – can’t the whole thing be “home?” Freedom from living like society tells me I should be and instead living like my soul tells me I should be. Freedom to explore a new side of my tenacity and find out just what I can do in that environment. Freedom to explore a new side of the country and the world with my pup.

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Van life represents a simpler life in some ways and a more complicated one in others. Simpler in terms of having everything I own within an arm’s reach at any given time. Simpler in that I’ll be forced into minimalism. More complicated in that doing some otherwise simple tasks – laundry, showering, etc might take a bit of extra planning at first until I get a system figured out.

In an argument between my head, my heart and my gut, my gut almost always wins. I trust my gut and what it has to tell me, I feel like it’s the big mediator between the head and the heart. While my brain argues the logic for and against van life, my heart argues for my quality of life. As the trusted advisor, my gut is continually telling me to embrace mobile living, ditch the things that are weighing me down – physically, emotionally and mentally – and set off on my next adventure. My gut lets me know that, although it might not always be glamorous and wonderful, I can handle the hiccups and roadblocks (perhaps literally) that van life could bring.

I am committed to transitioning into van life this year. I am committed to reducing my impact on the world and finding new homes for my carefully-curated-but-not-entirely-necessary apartment’s worth of belongings. I quit working for corporations and other companies and am instead growing companies that reflect my soul purpose in the world and allow me to make a greater positive impact on my community.

Essentially, vanlife will change my life in that I’ll be able to be the truest version of myself. I’ll be able to fulfill my lifelong dream. It’ll change my life for the better and I’ll be able to use this transition to broaden my own positive impact on the world.

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I plan on keeping Denver as my home base and using the van to keep connections within my geographically-spread-out family strong, make new friends, explore new parts of the US, Mexico & Canada and grow my coaching business. I know that freedom means different things to different people and my clients are primarily women solopreneurs who are looking to get off the hamster wheel of business. With more experience in different environments, I’ll be able to help more people in different walks of life. These people can then go help others and the positive ripple will extend far beyond my own reach!

I’m living a life in the pursuit of freedom and I’m looking forward to helping more people throughout the world achieve their version of freedom in the process.

What does your authentic life look like?

Comparison is Killing You + How to Knock It Off

Just the other week I was a victim of comparison that turned into a grand spiral staircase of negative self-talk.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been assaulted like this and I know it won’t be the last. (I also know that it’s quite likely YOU’VE been a victim of this same scenario.)

Sometimes my inner me, my fragile ego, can be such a bitch – to ME!

These Mental Muggings all start the same way – I’m having an innocent conversation with a good friend or I’m perusing social media to catch up on what everyone has been up to. There’s something to celebrate – a new job, a raise, a great relationship, a new home, a new car, a vacation, a puppy, whatevah – and I’m genuinely SO happy for the other person!

Then, my ego looks around my own job/relationship/home/car/vacation/puppy situation and lo – it is unacceptable. Inadequate. Losing the imaginary race that the ego just made up on the spot.

And THEN the brain goes to back this new feeling up. Searching – and finding – more reasons why our [insert current comparison situation here] isn’t good enough. She finds other people who are fulfilling this role more fully than we are. She finds areas where we’re supposedly behind on the map of this new trail I’ve never even seen before.

In no time, my belly is turning and the anxiety is crawling through me as if I had ants underneath my skin.

I start looking at my life in a total panic – where am I? What am I even DOING with my life? Who am I trying to be? Is this who I really want to be? Who do I think I am trying to blaze my own trail, grow my own businesses and buck the system? I’m not that special!

Then I start finding all new ways I’m failing at life that have little or nothing to do with the original comparison problem.

It really can be a never-ending spiral of despair.

In years past, it could last for weeks or even months! Over the past few years, I’ve done a LOT of work to be able to pull myself out of these episodes quicker – I’m still a work-in-progress, but with these tips I can usually snap myself out of it much sooner than I used to be able to.

The sooner you recognize the downward path you’re on, the sooner you can take the steps necessary to get out of it! Self-awareness is key.

I’ve created this Emergency Sheet as a reminder to myself of the steps I need to take to snap out of the Downward Spiral the moment I realize I’m in one and my hope is that it can help you too!

Stop the Spiral

Having this list readily available and then following the steps is huge. When you’re in a state of stress and panic and negativity, your brain won’t allow you to have access to your problem-solving abilities in your prefrontal cortex. You may know the steps to take but your brain will not physically allow you to access them so make sure you keep this list handy and then actually do the things it says to do when you’re stuck in negativity!

I also did a video about this topic which you can watch here.

What steps do you take to get your mindset out of this negative spiral?

 

Why Are You Focusing on What You DON’T Want?

Are you always psyching yourself out about failing as a business owner?

If the answer is anything but HELL NO, you’re in trouble. 

You’re worried about the bills.

You’re worried about the extra hours in the day that you think you need but definitely don’t have.

You’re worried about whether your clients will like your new product or whether they’ll all abandon you if you raise your prices.

You’re worried about making it in the world of entrepreneurship lest you have to get a….dundundun…job.

If these are the kinds of thoughts that are running through your head all day every day, you’re exponentially more likely to see the awful end-result you were afraid of instead of the shiny, freedom-having result you dream about.

What we focus on expands. Where attention goes, energy flows. If you’re afraid of spiders and all you can think about is where they’re hiding, you’re going to see them everywhere (the same goes for debt, failure, mean people and extra pounds).

Part of this is woo-woo Law of Attraction stuff and part of this is scientific, brain stuff.

Whether you believe in the Law of Attraction or not, you can’t deny the science behind the Reticular Activating System (RAS). All of your senses are wired to this neuron bundle and it controls which sensory information comes to your brain all day long.

This means that it basically chooses what you see, hear, feel, taste and experience. It narrows down the thousands and thousands of potential data bits to just the ones that it wants you to experience – what YOU want to experience.

Your RAS is wired to show you what you are looking for. But wait, how does this bundle of neurons know what I’m looking for? How does it know what to show me?

This wiring is directed by what you FOCUS ON.

Your thoughts and your words MATTER.

One of the most common examples of how this works in real life is when you’re looking to buy a new car – you’ve picked it out and you know exactly what you want. A Subaru Impreza Hatchback (hey! convenient! I have one of those!).

As soon as you hone in on the car you want, you start seeing them everywhere! You saw one at the grocery store, two drove past you on the way to work, the neighbor down the street just pulled up in one.

Does this mean that all these cars are just popping up all of a sudden? That your desire for one has now made everyone else in your city want them too and now they’re going out and buying up all the Imprezas the market has to offer?

Or does this mean that these cars were actually driving the streets of your city all along but you just didn’t notice them before because your RAS wasn’t told to focus on them?

(Hint: Go with the second option.)

Ok, great Holly, now I know why I keep seeing these cars, but what does this mean for my BUSINESS?
When you can’t see the answer, see the clients, see the money, see the success, it’s not because it doesn’t exist in the world – it’s because your brain literally cannot see it. The RAS won’t let that data pass through its filtration system.

Instead of: Yikes! I don’t have enough money to (insert current situation here)!!

Try: I’m wealthy, look at all the wealth that surrounds me already!

Instead of: I’m never going to get my entire ToDo List done! There just isn’t enough time in the day!

Try: There is more than enough time to get my important work done!

Instead of: If I raise my prices, my clients will all leave me!

Try: Raising my prices adds more value to my clients!

Instead of: What am I even doing with my life? Maybe I should see if Mom’s basement is still vacant.

Try: I’m a total badass and I GOT THIS!

But, Holly, I’m not thinking about wanting the debt, the anxiety, the terror of losing clients or working until I fall over in exhaustion so why is that what keeps showing up?

Your RAS can’t tell the difference between “I DON’T want to see this” and “I DO want to see this” – all the RAS can understand is “I see this.” So whether you’re personally focusing on it in a good way or a bad way, the RAS can’t tell, doesn’t care and won’t know the difference.
If you focus on the right things, your brain will rewire itself to show you these things because that’s its job. That’s what the RAS has been designed over millions of years to do. It’s very good at it.

Just give it a shot, please? For me? Well, for you, really, but if you need an external excuse please do it for me 😉

10 Ladyboss Instagram Accounts to Follow

Who here loves Instagram as much as I do? I spend (probably too much) time on IG everyday and I love to see happy, exciting, encouraging, helpful posts out there that make me feel motivated in life and in business. I carefully curate the list of people I follow so that I always step away from the phone feeling energized and ready to work!

Also, if you want to boost your own Instagram profile, download my FREE 10 Minute Guide here!

10 inspiring women

Here’s my list of some of the top ladybosses I follow who always bring a smile to my face! Please share your favorite accounts in the comments so I can check them out too!

  • jessicadebry – founder of SheClubMonthly, I love how she shows the “real life” side of owning a business and how she grew it while working her regular grind before she quit to run her company full time!
  • onechicktravels – full time vanlifer, single lady living her dreams and showing us all another way to do the things you want to do – if its important to you, find a way to make it happen! Her YouTube channel is a constant source of inspiration for me to move into vanlife, so check that out too.
  • rooted.in.healing – diagnosed with an autoimmune disease changed her whole life and she’s been tackling each and every piece of it to put it back together and find a new normal. She shares recipes, advice, encouragement and body-image love!
  • paulapant – host of the Afford Anything Podcast and YouTube Channel. This awesome lady has built a life where she no longer has to trade time for money and she shares how YOU can too!
  • linaescamilla – host of the Business Mastery Series and all-around positive, happy, hard-working woman who dishes out business, marketing and mindset advice like confetti!
  • jordanyoungblade – mindset & money coach of Mind, Body, Wallet who keeps it real about what happens when fear takes over your brain and how to move through it to really achieve what you’re looking for in life.
  • thefinancialdiet – these ladies have built an awesome company giving great advice to millennials about how to handle money, work, relationships and life, their YouTube channel is filled with educational, inspirational videos about a huge variety of financial topics as well.
  • susicruzz – another lady vanlifer who posts inspiring photos of her adventures and videos of exactly how she converted her van – and her lifestyle – into one that she loves!
  • denvermobility – this beautiful woman is a personal trainer and Kinetix expert here in the Denver area. She’s so good at what she does and if you can’t work out with her in person, she just launched an online program that you should check out!
  • iamsambearfoot – visibility and Instagram specialist, this fabulous lady is always dropping useful content for those of us looking to grow a business ourselves and use social media to do it!

So those are some my favorite accounts to follow and I always get excited when I see a new post or story from them. Come follow me on Instagram and drop me a line with your account so I can follow back!

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And don’t forget about my totally FREE guide to really upgrading and enhancing your own Instagram profile – complete with step-by-step pictures and instructions!

Cure Your Social Anxiety

Do you get nervous at the very thought of going to a networking event or talking to strangers?

I used to be the exact same way! My palms would sweat, I’d feel nauseous and my voice would crack.

Let me share with you how I overcame my social anxiety and got to the point where I actually LOVE going to networking events!

Social Media – how, when + with what frequency?

With so many different social media outlets on the web and so many different strategies for using them, I wanted to create a simple, one-stop-shop for 5 of the biggest, most currently used sites.

Do I think you should all be using all of these outlets?

NO!

If you try to post on every social media site there is, you’ll stretch yourself thin and risk burnout. Pick the 2 or 3 that most resonate with you and dig deep into those.

Do you like to write? Use Twitter, start a blog, write for other sites with a large audience.

Do you like to shoot gorgeous photos? Use Instagram, Tumblr and maybe Pinterest.

Do you like to create video? Use YouTube and Facebook.

Each of these sites caters to a difference audience (except Facebook, Facebook basically caters to all the audiences…) and so learning about your client and where your client hangs out might be the best strategy in figuring out where to put your own efforts.

Want to brainstorm with me to figure out which outlets you should be using for your unique business? Reach out! Let’s get that conversation started!

Stumped for what sorts of things to post on your social media channels? Check out this post and my infographic with 10 Engaging Ideas!

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