laughing

A Love Letter To Letting Go & Laughing More

Time and time again, I have seen proven, that laughter truly is the best medicine.

I am a full-fledged recovering serious person. I am a firstborn, people-pleasing, recovering-perfectionist. In the past, I’ve known myself to be very anxious and not a stranger to panic attacks.
Today, thanks to years of therapy, a library full of self-help books, mindfulness, meditation, reiki, my dear friend Zoloft, and an easy-going husband with a wonderful sense of humor (who happens to have a professional comedian on his resume) I have slowly, and at times painfully, learned to “lighten up.”
One major reason why I decided to live lighter was that it was too damn exhausting to be so damn serious all the time. Many would have called me rigid. Things had to be a certain way…MY way. My anxiety caused me to be controlling and perfectionistic.

Does this ring a bell for anyone?

I began to recognize that what may have worked for me at one time (anxiety=control=protection), was causing more problems than it was helping. I didn’t need to protect myself as much as I once did and therefore I didn’t need to be as controlling or anxious. As a result, I slowly and cautiously started allowing myself to have fun.

But I had to learn how to have fun.

It was not something that came naturally to me. And I had to accept that my version of “fun” (read books for fun, have deep conversations, go to bed early, wake up early, contemplate the meaning of life…) was not always the same as others.
I began to get to know myself and what I needed at any given moment. I had a better understanding of my anxiety when it did come to visit, but it was no longer a constant companion.
Now I balance my high-achieving nature with a “good enough” mentality. I don’t need to give 110% to everything I do. I honor myself and what I need and want at any given moment.  And I look for every appropriate opportunity to find humor and laugh.
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!

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!”

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!

the subtle art of not giving a fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

The title of this book caught my attention recently while I was at the airport. Working with many people who have anxiety or feel stressed out I thought it could be an interesting read. I like things that make us question the status quo and may be a bit provocative. The subtitle drove home my decision to purchase it: “A counterintuitive approach to living a good life.” Even cooler!

I was curious about the author and what his credentials are so I looked on the back cover and discovered he was a well-followed blogger. Hmmm… Not your typical (potentially dry) self-help PhD? Not surprising with a title like this. My graduate studies had taught me to be leary about non-scientific based information, but I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, so I’m usually willing to let things speak for themself. As I read I realized Manson has no specific education or credential as a therapist or in the mental health field. What he does have is his own personal experiences, which he shares freely in the book (which is different than most PhD, self-help authors!). He’s likable and seemingly very open, which is a plus for me. Essentially what I found is a very direct and easy-to-understand and assimilate way to communicate mindfulness (without really talking about mindfulness!). Even cooler!

I have many clients who are not “readers” and I’m always on the lookout for books that may be interesting to the uninterested reader. This book fits the profile. I have recommended it to several people and they *loved* the title and were willing to give it a whirl upon my recommendation.

A few of the premises in the book that caught my attention:

  1. We can never really avoid being in pain and discomfort (he uses the word suffering), so choose what you want to be in discomfort about.
  2. Choose what you want to give a f*ck about rather than giving a f*ck about everything.
  3. Your emotions are there for a very good reason – to give you feedback, to get your attention. So PAY ATTENTION to them!
  4. Make sure you are aligning with your values and priorities. Are the people you surround yourself with people you strive to be like? Are the decisions you are making assisting you in being the best version of yourself?
  5. Failure is to be expected! Welcome it. Learn from it! Perfectionism can keep us from living in reality… I mean really, at what point is “perfection” achieved?! Or are you always telling yourself you’re STILL not good enough.
  6. It’s ok to say “No.” Again, choosing what you do and don’t want to participate in establishes appropriate boundaries.

I found it to be a very enjoyable, humorous, entertaining read, and am glad I read it.

Intrigued?! Give it a whirl for yourself!

 

setting the bar

Setting The Bar Too High

Our expectations for ourselves are often far higher than our expectations for others. Why couldn’t we see into the future about how that marriage would end? Why did we say the wrong thing in that interview? Why can’t we find the motivation to do A, B, C, D, E, F, G….the list goes on.
It’s like someone told us that we are supposed to get everything right the first time and that we are off the rails if our life map involves various stops and starts.
The more people I meet, the more convinced I am that this is all an illusion. The truth is we all crash down only to rise up again. And again. So my message to you is this: The next time you hear that self-critical voice in your head, pause. Notice it. Grab on to grace. Hold it against your chest. Breathe it in. Listen. Let go of the judgment. And give yourself some rest.
You don’t have enough information to do everything right the first time. Give yourself some grace.