silly

Embracing the Silly Things in Life

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

Be silly.
Be honest.
Be kind.

This is my Mantra!

The last two come very easily to me. That first one though…being silly…has taken a lot of intentional practice.

I am by nature a deep thinker, a firstborn, highly sensitive, highly empathic, and intuitive person. I can naturally see the seriousness, depth, and intensity of any issue. So much so that it can paralyze me. Or at least in the past, it has.

I love the depths to which I can go and those who can join me there. I also know I feel better when I don’t live in that space. It can make me very anxious and depressed. I’ve learned to live in the “Both, And” space of being deep (which can have a heaviness to it) and being light, fun, playful, and yes, even silly.

I used to fear being silly because I equated it with looking foolish.

In the past, I was pretty mortified with the idea of looking foolish. I think it was fueled by my anxiety and need for control. Now that my anxiety is pretty non-existent and I have embraced the ebb and flow of life, releasing the need for control, I don’t fear looking foolish. I have embraced silliness with a sense of confidence.

When I am silly, I am playful, laughing, and light.

And that feels wonderful!

I got a wonderful compliment from my 8-year-old daughter last night after a big event with lots of kids and parents. She said, “I’m so glad I have a CHILL mom!” My eyes just about popped out of my head! I looked at my husband and asked, “Did she just call ME chill?!” He nodded, knowingly.

All my intention and perseverance are paying off! Not only do I feel so much better, but those who mean the most to me are also benefitting too!!

overthinking

Free Time: Overthinking It?

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

When thinking about Free Time and “being” rather than “doing,” I am reminded that I am not only a “do-er,” I am also a “thinker.” A pretty deep thinker at that. My mind can go to places that are seemingly quite unnecessary. I’ve learned over time that this is one of my greatest strengths and one of my greatest challenges.

Now don’t get me wrong, thinking is wonderful.

Over-thinking is what is the issue for me. It’s the thoughts that I can’t stop thinking. The what-ifs and the should-haves and the panic and fear that I’ve done or said the “wrong” thing. This was a prison I felt I was in for a very long time. The prison of anxiety kept me from fully and completely expressing myself in the fullest capacity possible.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that fearlessness is a theme for me. If you watched my Creative Mornings Louisville talk on Silencing Fear you know about my stint with improv comedy and how it brought me to tears.

What I realized about fear and anxiety was that it was a prison that I was putting and keeping myself in. What was the key that would unlock the door to the prison?

The phrase, “Fearlessness resides in the softness of the heart,” was my key. I thought this was what a yoga instructor said in class once. When I asked her after class who wrote that saying, she responded, “That’s not what I read, but maybe that’s what you needed to hear.”

As I began trying new things like improv comedy in my “free time” I chose to place myself outside of my comfort zone. It wasn’t about succeeding at improv comedy. It was about doing something that scared the shit out of me and sticking with it. After 9 months of classes every week, it became less scary. I still didn’t enjoy it, the actual performing that is. What I did enjoy and was “in joy” with were the friendships I had made, following through with a challenge and commitment I made to myself. and proving to myself that I could “do hard things” (“Untamed” reference!).

So while you may choose to do an actual activity with your free time, perhaps something other than improv comedy, I wonder if you are also avoiding free time like I can find myself doing.

For those of us who have a tendency to run a bit anxious or are constant do-ers, sometimes it is the quiet of free time that scares us.

This week, I challenge you to embrace the solitude of your free time, to sit with yourself, and remember that, “Fearlessness resides in the softness of the heart.”

free time

Free Time: Ever Heard of It?

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“You will accomplish great things in your free time this week.”

-Fortune Cookie

I was having lunch with a dear friend and her family recently and received this message in my fortune cookie. It was quite fortuitous as I was out-of-town and in “vacation mode” so there was lots of “free time.” You know what I’m talking about, right? That feeling of unstructured playtime you can do whatever you want with. Yes, even as adults we get playtime! Most of us only feel it when we’re on vacation…sometimes. Sometimes “vacation” is more of a “relocation” when we feel like we need to entertain and cook and clean and plan. We don’t often get that sense of freedom that comes with “free time.”

Free time. What a wonderful concept.

I’m wondering if you feel like you have free time on a weekly or daily basis – time that is unstructured and open for you to do whatever you want. Maybe you choose to just be in the moment and do nothing. Maybe you choose to treat yourself to a coffee or trip to your favorite store. Whatever it is, it is time that you are free to do what you want to do, not necessarily need to do.

I’ve been thinking a lot about things we THINK we need to do and things we actually need to get done. On this recent trip I noticed that while I was away, I was not needed (by work, family, life, etc.) as much as I had felt the weeks and months leading up to the trip. I started wondering if I was putting the pressure on myself to be DOING all the time and therefore “needing to do” stuff that perhaps didn’t really NEED to be done. Are you feeling me here?!

So I decided to start an experiment.

Those who know me, know I love a good experiment! I decided to see if I could go home after this vacation and bring with me the same feeling of “not NEEDING to DO” that I felt on vacation.

This is quite fascinating to me as I have spent the last several months really challenging myself with this concept. Before vacation, I was paying attention to whether or not I was forcing things to happen or allowing them. This is a tricky concept because I get caught up in the “doing” of MAKING (forcing) things to happen. I busy myself with a lot of things I think I NEED to DO to make something happen. What I’ve seen over the years is that while there is a fair amount of doing that needs to take place in order to make things happen, there is also a fair amount of being that is also needed.

Just Being.

What I am reflecting on lately is that some of the most wonderful things happen when I am just being. Wonderful things also happen from the culmination of my doing as well. So there’s a tension between the two. In this tension and in most moments of tension I ask myself, “What is it I really want to do?” and “What feels best to me right now?” I have also noticed that the more I ask myself these searching-types of questions, I stay away from judging myself, being hard on myself, and “Shoulding” all over myself. I’m not telling myself what to do, I’m asking myself respectfully, what will be best for me at this moment. And that feels wonderful!

So when I think of accomplishing great things with my free time, I am reminded that in my free time I feel FREE. In that freedom comes openness, creativity, imagination, dreaming, excitement, wonder, options. This is the type of thinking I’m aiming to cultivate in the monthly class I offer (beginning in January) AND the rejuvenating women’s retreat happening in Napa Valley in January 2022. To find out more, visit my website!

worry

Worry Too Much?

Anxiety, we all have it from time to time. Though rarely welcomed, it can be a healthy response to life’s challenges and is a natural human response. In fact, anxiety acts as our body’s alarm system, allowing us to anticipate when we are in danger or in harm’s way. But if left unchecked, anxiety can be an overwhelming, never-ending cycle of worry that keeps us from understanding important parts of ourselves.

If you experience anxiety, ask yourself this:

If your mind wasn’t full of these current ANXIOUS thoughts, what would you think about? Although not necessarily pleasant, anxiety can serve as a distraction from dealing with what really needs to be addressed at the core.

Here are some signs that worry might be problematic in your life:

  • Chronically on alert and thinking about potential future dangers or threats.

  • Consistently making negative predictions about the future.

  • Tend to overestimate the likelihood that something bad will happen.

  • Repeat worried thoughts over and over again in your head.​

How can I tell if my anxiety is normal?

Anxiety is problematic when it is constant and goes unresolved, interfering with your lifestyle and relationships. An anxiety disorder can keep a person from coping with life’s ups and downs and make a person feel anxious most of the time, sometimes without any identifiable cause.

If this sounds like your current experience with anxiety, perhaps it’s time to change your relationship with anxiety by altering your perspective on it.

You don’t have to go it alone. Seeking professional care for your anxiety can provide hope and clarity on how to best navigate it.

love

Love Loves Love

Love loves love.
Period.
End of story.
Love yourself.
Even the things you wish were different.
Love others.
Even when you disagree.
Allow there to be enough space for differences to reside.
We are where we are in this moment.
Love does not force.
Love respects.
Model the Love you want from others, to others.
Not because it’s a lesson you’re trying to teach, because it’s the person you ARE. Compassionate. Loving. Kind.
AND have excellent boundaries for yourself.
This is Self-Love.
Know when enough is enough before it’s too much.
Learn from experience.
Be clear about your wants and needs.
You’ll see who can respect your boundaries and who can’t.
And that gives you more information to make appropriate decisions for yourself.
To love and respect yourself and your own boundaries.
Let’s face it. If you don’t respect your own boundaries, how can you expect others to respect them?
Love loves love.
Period.
overachievers

A Message For All Us Overachievers

“Achievement is not about what you’ve done, but what you gained from your experience.” Lynn Hill
Wow. What a wake-up call!
I’m a highly motivated, driven person. I like to say “Yes!” to new experiences. I’d even say I do things just to say I’ve done them. You could call me an overachiever. And yet, what have I gained from that? What an excellent question.
What I gain is an openness to try new things, to change, to new ideas that are different from mine, to people who are different from me.
What I gain is fearlessness, which has been a focus of mine for a few decades now.
What I gain is the richness of life and all the many flavors it has to offer.
What I gain is seeing life in full color.
What I gain is the Feeling of Being Alive. 🤩
When was the last time you felt fully alive? When you felt fully present and grateful for what was right in front of you? Or are you feeling that hamster wheel feeling of working so hard and not getting anywhere new or different?
Want to feel more alive? Wonderful! Start saying “Yes!” to new experiences and ideas! Step outside of your comfort zone just 5 or 10% and say, “Yes!” to yourself!
untamed

Untamed Joy

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“Somewhere along my journey it happened.

Quietly, imperceptibly, almost without my having knowing it.

I relaxed.

Got comfortable with myself.

I began enjoying myself, accepting myself, accepting life.

Liking life.

I found joy.

Somewhere along your journey, it will happen to you…

Don’t worry about finding joy.

Because somewhere along your journey, joy will find you.”

-Melody Beattie “Journey to the Heart”

Are we there yet?

(I write this thinking of the laughing/crying emoji I’d love to post right after it!)

Have you arrived at this destination of joy? Is it an actual location, or rather a state of mind? Do we take residence in it or are we just here for a quick visit, perhaps a vacation from reality? Are these questions making you feel anxious or stressed, perhaps with the pressure of needing to accomplish this? Or perhaps you think and feel, “AMEN! Done!”

I am right here with you!

I’m riding the rollercoaster of life, just like you. I still wrestle with the “shoulds” that still reside in me from my family of origin and societal pressures. We are not perfect. We will never be perfect. Frankly, I’m done with trying to be perfect. I don’t have the energy for that anymore. And yet it still creeps in, in moments of stress, illness, quiet, like a little leak of air through a window. Just enough to catch my attention.

I allow myself to give it a touch of attention. I notice a frank conversation happening inside my head starting, “Ok, I’m feeling pressure to do the ‘right’ thing here.” And I tell myself gently, yet firmly, “There is no ‘right’ thing here.” And I respond gratefully, “Oh right, thanks for that reminder, I needed that.”

Then I ask myself, “How long do I want to give this attention? How much energy do I have to give this?”

The second answer gets me and I say, “Zero.” I refocus my attention away from the pressure of perfection and follow up with, “What is it you really need and/or want (to do, think, feel) right now?” Sensing that the best thing for me in this moment is some quiet, some reflection, some “me time.” I know I have options because I’ve been here before and I know what helps. I could read, take a bath, make some tea, get a glass of water, reflect, write, go for a walk, watch Netflix. I think, “Wow! Those are a lot of options!” And I wait a moment to see which one feels like the best option in this moment. I know I can always change my mind and try something else.

One place I find Joy is in the quiet whispers of my heart asking to be cared for, nurtured, and nourished. I know that no one knows me as well as I know myself and that I can nourish and nurture myself in many wonderful ways. This feels freeing to me. I’m not relying on someone else to notice I need something and come to my rescue and give me what I’m needing. I rely on my own strength to go ahead and give it to myself.

Oftentimes mid-life is about reevaluation.

We look back on the last forty (or fifty!) years and assess if we want to continue doing life the same way for the next forty-plus years.

The first forty-plus years have offered us a wonderful foundation of life lessons full of newness and loss. These first forty years have primed us for this moment of reevaluation. We may not have known that we had a choice in how we did those first forty years. Now we are old enough and have been adulting long enough to know what works for us and what doesn’t work for us. We know who we are and what feels best to us. And we’re beginning to not be afraid to speak our truth.  This is exactly where you find Joy. In the speaking of your Truth. The freedom to own your wants and needs. The embracing of “Not giving a Shit” what people think of me. And it feels wonderful.

Our free book giveaway this month is Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It addresses this very theme of speaking one’s Truth and taking all the responsibility and ownership of what comes with that. It speaks for bravery and freedom. And reminds us, “We can do hard things!”

grounded

The Importance of Slowing Down & Staying Grounded

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.

– John De Paula

Wow. What a wonderful reminder!

I was remembering the year I felt most productive, successful, and fulfilled, which was also one of the toughest years for me emotionally.

It was 2018 and I was juggling the growth and expansion of my business with my father’s grim cancer diagnosis and impending death on top of raising a young family.

Several things stand out to me that made that year feel productive, successful, and fulfilled:

1) I slowed down
2) I listened with and to my heart.
3) I connected with what really matters to me in each moment.
4) I chose meaning over money and people over profits.
5) I chose myself over others.
6) I was reflective daily.
7) I was vulnerable with myself.
8) I was vulnerable with others.
9) I was intentional.

The best advice I was given during that time was also a key to this feeling of productivity, success, and fulfillment. Because I was flying back and forth from Louisville to San Diego, there was the feeling of being torn between two places, two meanings. Many ideas were floated but here was the wisdom that stuck with me:

Your life is not in San Diego.

Your life is in Louisville.

I took this to mean:

You can be present with Dad and Mom in San Diego while you are there.
Your kids, husband, business, meaning, etc. are in Louisville.

You can be with cancer and impending death in San Diego.
You can be with growth in Louisville.

Perhaps I was compartmentalizing. Cool. It helped immensely. How I think of it now is the feeling of being grounded (or centered). I felt more peace when I had this focus.

I felt grounded in Louisville, even when I went to visit my parents in San Diego.

Whether we realize it or not, we visit difficult situations every day. What if we experiment with bringing the feeling of groundedness with us, not only in difficult situations but in every moment of our lives. And what is it that we are grounding ourselves in?

We’re grounding ourselves in something that is true for us. Or perhaps something that brings intentional meaning for us. Or perhaps something that makes you feel lighter. This might mean grounding yourself in knowing who you are, not who someone else tries to make you out to be. It might mean knowing this moment is tough and you can do tough things and not all moments will be tough. This might mean listening to a favorite song that reminds you of wonderful times and helps you feel lighter.

I trust that you can think of many things you might ground yourself in, whether you’ve already thought of them as you’re reading this, or in the upcoming days or weeks, or even in the moments when you need to feel grounded. Whatever you come up with, remember you’re resting in your truth. Perhaps that’s when you will feel most productive, successful, and fulfilled.

January 2022: Napa Valley, CA Retreat “Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Spirit”

Megan, Bartley, Retreat, Napa, Napa Valley, Calistoga, Indian, Springs

Megan Bayles Bartley

is taking the Mindfulness Center

ON THE ROAD!

That’s right! We’re headed to Napa Valley, California in January of 2022 for a Women’s Retreat to “Nurture the Entrepreneurial Spirit!”

Who nurtures you, the busy woman that you are? Who Nurtures the Nurturer?!

This is a question I ask many of the people I work with. Oftentimes I get blank stares. No one ever asks us that question. And we tend not to ask ourselves that question because we’re often avoiding the answer…

2022 is my year to offer more group-focused events. We’ve all been cooped up during Covid and it’s time to BREAK FREE. This is the nurturing girl’s trip you’ve always wanted but perhaps just didn’t have the ideal people to go with or for the ideal intentions. (Shout out to all my introverts: THIS IS THE EVENT FOR YOU! I’ve created it with us introverts in mind!)

There will be some light programming to review 2021 and to set goals and intentions for 2022, lots of self-care, self-compassion, laughter, and lightness. As well as pool time, spa time, and wine tastings too!

This is your chance to review the past year and be intentional about the upcoming year.

Is this only for Entrepreneurs?

Nope! It’s for those with the “Entrepreneurial Spirit” – those who are driven, calculated risk-takers, out-of-the-box thinkers, those who follow their hearts, and GET SHIT DONE! (Ahem, calling ALL MOTHERS!)

Also, you’d be surprised by how many husbands and partners think this is an AWESOME idea for their wives and partners! Men are often great at taking guy trips or golf trips. They wish for and WANT their wives and partners to experience the same!

Spots are limited and the Early Bird registration is available NOW!

Want more details? GREAT! Click here for more information!

P.S. Pairing this with the 2022 monthly class entitled “Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Spirit” I offer each year (full-year commitment) is highly recommended (but not necessary!) to keep your momentum for nurturing, self-compassion, self-care, thinking of things in new ways, and working to accomplish BIG things in 2022!

I hope you consider joining us!

should

Shifting from Should to Could

You SHOULD do this. You SHOULD do that. What happens in your body and mind when you read those sentences? 🤔
I wonder if resistance or discomfort arises. For me, I get a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I get heated, fired up.  And I want to fight and argue.
We don’t like to be told what to do. We want the freedom of choice. To choose what feels best to us. Yet we are often the ones shoulding all over ourselves as we remind ourselves of outdated messages we received from other people, faith traditions, cultures, society, etc.
So then does this mean we are creating our own tension inside of ourselves that we don’t need or likely want to be creating?! Hmmm…how would you answer that? When we know better, we do better. There is another option. A way to speak to yourself kinder and gentler.
This is your moment. Notice how you are shoulding all over yourself and the negativity it elicits in you. No need to beat yourself up for continuing to should, just notice it with a, “Well, there’s that,” and move along. Just the act of noticing diffuses it and gives it permission to go on its way.
If it feels better to you, experiment with replacing should with could. Could gives us options and the freedom to choose. Remember, we like freedom. We like choice. Choose wisely.