Synthesize the Shadow Side by Susan Burrell

Many of us spend our lives running from our pain or hiding from it.  Who wants to run towards pain?  That sounds like a crazy person running into a house on fire.  However, pain is what helps us to reassess and self-define IF we are willing to move through it and not sit in it.  When we feel our pain and examine it, often what happens is that our shadow side is revealed.  That dark spot within us that we may not realizes exists because we have been so busy running/hiding from it.  And we certainly don’t want anyone to see that darkness that we think lives within us.  Right?

In my twenties, I was avoiding this shadowy inner part of me that was strong and powerful.  I didn’t realize this.  I just always felt a bit frustrated, weak and victimized by life. At the time, I was an actress barely making ends meet by waiting tables.   So I took a transformational actors workshop where we had to present a monologue and the workshop leaders would help us “grow” beyond our personal limits.  Oh joy - right!?!  I show up dressed in my best preppy outfit all starched and buttoned up - literally.  My monologue that I loved was from “Butterflies are Free”.  In case you don’t know,  the female lead in that play is a free spirited, bra-less (probably) “hippie”.  So here I am in my penny loafers doing a monologue about feeling free and easy.  I was anything but that.  

As I’m performing, someone from the darkened, shadowy back row of the theater yells, “Stop”.  This leader proceeds to ask me questions and I began to  feel more and more distressed and angry.  I thought my performance was going well.  What could she possibly dislike about it?  I guess my inner resistance to being open and revealing my true self was so strong that she finally startled me by saying, “YOU ARE A BITCH!” 

That rocked me back on my heels!  Now, if you are a woman, you might agree that none of us want to be called a bitch, at least back then.  That was the worst compliment.  It meant that you didn’t play well with others, that you were selfish and maniacal.  I was floored.  How could they call me that?  I was a nice person.  How could anyone see that I was a bitch?  I was angry, really angry at being called that.  As she worked with me, my anger grew so large that I began yelling back that this shadowy “authority figure” who was pushing any and every button I had.  The more I yelled, the more she pushed.  Out of breath and squinting to see this shadowy figure who was dismantling me in front of a room full of strangers, I realized that she had just proved her point.  I was a Bitch. I had just shown it to the audience.  I had secretly hidden it under so much sweetness and appropriateness that I didn’t even know the bitch existed. When I performed the monologue from that place, I felt empowered and more the character than any mental construct that I had come up with could have expressed. 

The shadow side is that part of us we have been ignoring or hiding because we are afraid people won’t like us.  It’s that side of us that feels dark and ugly and sticky. 

Yet it is a necessary part of who we are, because as we synthesize the shadow side, as we embrace it or all least look at it, we can begin to see what parts of the shadowy side can help us to be more empowered and strong. 

What I learned and witnessed that weekend was that the more I was disowning that dark side of myself, the less empowered I was, the less I could move forward in my life to achieve the things I thought I wanted to do at that time.  

Those dark places within our selves that we avoid or feel ashamed and guilty about are actually places that bring us strength and focus.   When we become more accepting of our shadow side and synthesize it, the more whole we become.  The more we have the ability to be true to our inner desires and the Divine urge within us that wants to create and be expressed.  The more we can accept ourselves within - the light and the dark - the more honest and truthful we can be with others. The more authentic and vulnerable.  And we become inspirations to others who have yet to meet their shadow side.  

Whatever the shadow side within us, it is never as big and ugly as the shame and anger we hold against ourselves as we try to keep the door shut on the shadow within.  

Whenever we go through pain and trauma, one of the first questions that comes up is, “What did I do to deserve this?”  Any unacknowledged shadow side will reveal itself for examination.  That’s all.  It just wants to be seen and heard, acknowledged for how it has gotten you this far.  Perhaps your shadow side has kept you safe, helped you to survive your circumstances.  Kept you best parts hidden and seemingly safe. 

The shadow comes up to help us to redefine, reassess and then remove any blocks that are keeping us stuck in old behavior, old relationships or thinking that no longer helps us to move more into the truth of who we are and to be the empowered person that we came here to be.  The shadow will introduce you to those parts of yourself that your have disowned or haven’t trusted.  We can begin to see where we are strong and courageous.  Where our inner bitch can become our ally and helpmate.  

By synthesizing our shadow side, we can empower ourselves from the inside out and be that radiant light we have always been but just didn’t want to face. Synthesize and Shine!

The Proverbial  “Clock is Ticking” by Susan Burrell

As women, many of us have felt that clock ticking as we approached child rearing years.  Our bodies and minds tell us that we need to find a mate if we don’t have one and procreate.  

As I have be growing older and approaching decade markers that I thought were far off in the future, I have noticed that there is another kind of clock that is ticking.  Another clock that still has to do with creating. It begins to whisper that time is slipping by.  It feels like this particular clock keeps speeding up every year.    You know the one that clangs loudly when you go to the shopping mall and see Christmas decorations in September.  The one that screams internally, “Where the Hell has the time gone!?!”  

Well, this clock appears to be about letting us know that life isn't over yet.  That we still have plenty of time to create.  To bring “new life” into the world through the contribution of our accumulated wisdom that we have been gathering over the decades.  

A friend recently reminded me of the infamous Beatrice Potter who lived to be 102.  Beatrice didn’t start throwing pots until she was the ripe old age of 65.  She created a huge body of work for which she became famous for, proving that the clock keeps on ticking just like the energizer bunny.  

Our creativity is something that is innate to all of us and there is an urge within us that continually calls us to create.  No matter what age we are.   

As you age you look toward retirement where you can be “free” to do whatever you want.  For many, they think they will be doing the things that they didn’t have time for when they were younger while they were producing an income to live on and raising a family.  But I have noticed that when many of us get there, we are at a real loss as to what to do to fulfill our creative urges.  

Myself, I have felt this new ticking that is accompanied by an inner whispered dialogue that seems to go like this…

ME: I am getting really old and time is running out.

SELF: Time is non-linear therefore you will always have time.

ME: Yeah, so you keep assuring me but how do I know that that’s true?  

SELF:  Just do what ever you are called to do - Create from your heart with abandon.

ME: Again - easier for you - you’re some Higher being.  Here on the earth plane we have deadlines and schedules, business plans and people to reach.

SELF:  Do it for your own self-expression and satisfaction. It’s easy.  BE easy.

ME: Yeah, but what do I have to say? Who would want to listen to an old person like me?

SELF: Your age has nothing to do with it. 

ME: Ha! tell that to my mirror!

SELF: Now is the time to allow yourself to follow your Divine urge within you that has been calling you all your life to explore yourself, the world around you, and let your radiance shine brightly.  Allow your inner joy and wisdom to light the way.  Create! - paint, write, teach, dance, travel.  It is never too late.

It doesn't matter what you “do” as long as you create from your heart. 

Creating doesn’t have to be perfect.  As we age, we don’t have an external CEO that we have to be producing for.  We simply have ourself to produce for in order to satisfy that creative urge. 

I intend to live until the ripe age of ninety something.  And my clock is ticking.  I am choosing to live the second half of life creatively and with abandon.  

How about you?  What is your inner clock calling you to create and be? And will you choose e to create with radiant abandon??



The Ocean's Edge - By Susan Burrell

Have you ever noticed that when you stand at the ocean's edge with your feet in the sand, the sand shifts? If you continue to just stand, allowing the waves to flow over your feet, eventually the water pulls the sand out from under you and your feet sink in. You have to keep moving your feet in order to keep your balance and not get sucked away by the waves.

Hearing the ocean's roar and feeling the waves against my feet, I was struck with the realization that this is a great metaphor for the flow of life. We can either choose to stay stuck and allow life's current and circumstances to pull the foundation out from under us or we can move our feet and allow a new foundation to settle in.

I don't know about you, but I have been feeling the shifting sand beneath my feet. Life can often feel chaotic and we feel uncertain about which way to step. And I am one of those people that likes to know the outcome so I can feel safe. Sound familiar? But I have noticed that if I can trust, even just a little bit, then I can move my feet, shift my weight or my focus and begin to watch as the Universe fills in the blank for me. 

Recognizing that Life is dynamic and always flowing or shifting seems to be the best way to surf the challenges in our life. As Ghandi once said, "The only constant is change."

But how do you trust that the wave isn't going to knock you down and take you out to sea? Or that the sharks aren't going to attack you as you surf your way to shore?

My best answer is to make sure a large part of your foundation is grounded in the following:

  • Open Hearted Love.  Especially for yourself, this will give you the courage to face the on-coming waves of change.
  • The Willingness to Shift ... and get rid of the driftwood of beliefs and thoughts that have kept you stuck ... or standing still in the water.
  • The Ability to Embrace Change. Embrace whatever change is happening in your life and don't reject it out of fear of the unknown.

Allowing the sand to glide beneath your feet and moving as you navigate the new currents in your life is something that takes practice and awareness.  A child at the edge of the ocean loves to run into and out of the waves for the shear thrill and joy of the adventure.  Become a child.  Wiggle your toes in the sand and open your mind to new possibilities for your life.

Notice the waves ebb and flow and trust that no matter what the outcome, it will have shifted you into a newer and more authentic expression of yourself.    

What Does Living An Inspired Life Look Like? by Olga Singer

First Answer: I have no idea!

Second Answer: It looks different for each person.

Third Answer: Perhaps it's a bit like being in true bliss.

Being inspired, or getting inspired can come easily, however staying inspired is not always so easy. 

And moreover how do you get inspired when you feel crappy? OR when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? That's the real question.

It's easy to smile, spread good cheer and feel inspired when everything in your sphere is going exactly as planned. The real trick is figuring out how to LIVE that Inspired Life you so cherish when chaos seems to follow you everywhere.

And quite honestly I don't have an answer for you.  All I can do is share the tools that work for me.

And understand they don't always work. There are times I have to find new or different ways to approach the challenges I face in order to get past the unsettling emotions of feeling just plain blah! And sometimes the answer can be simple. As simple as choosing to just BE and sit in the "yuck" for just a moment or for 24 hours if that's what it takes to accept and then release.

As I connect with my inspired life, I have come to the realization that I really can do anything - any of us can do anything - it just takes a bit of courage.

And courage is easy when you know the outcome and you know you are safe - but then again that's not really courage is it? Courage for me is taking the steps to do what I want to do to live my inspired life, even if it doesn't turn out quite right.

Because I truly believe there are no mistakes!

We may call something a mistake, but on closer examination we may see a silver lining and realize it wasn't a mistake after all but rather a hidden gem of an opportunity that may not have occurred had we not made that "mistake."

I discovered I could survive a move to a place I knew no one and thrive!

It took a lot of patience, a lot of journaling and a lot of meditating to get there (tools I have embraced to help me live an inspired life). It also took a lot of letting go of outcomes, expecting the unexpected and saying yes when I felt like saying no.

And so now after spending countless hours and many months of planning Susan and I have made the very difficult decision to postpone our Living Your Inspired Life Empowering Retreats. We are disappointed, as this was not the outcome we had anticipated. And yet here we are, still determined to live that inspired life and to keep moving forward.

WE are not Giving Up!

If we are truly meant to bring these retreats to women and teach, and also learn, how to Live an Inspired Life then we must take it all in, not just the pieces we like, but every last crumb of truth and inspiration we've learned through this process.

Just like the glittering stars in the night sky, we will continue to shine our truths out to the world, Live our Inspired Life and work to bring women together who are ready to take their journey to discover their inspired life.

We will continue to blog, share our messages and plan for the next chapter - just  not sure yet what that will look like ... just know there is more to come ...

Paradigm Up-Shift by Susan Burrell

Now is an exciting and challenging time to investigate our inner meanings, re-evaluate our values and priorities.  It is a time to become gentle and loving with ourselves, more open-hearted and open-handed - and face the unknown with anticipation, not fear. 

The learning curve in this new way of being can be steep. Taking this journey with others however can make the getting there easier and more fulfilling. Ask yourself: Are you willing to excavate the self and explore deeper possibilities of how to be more true to yourself? More creative in life? More vibrant in your living choices?  You are not alone in your thoughts and exploration of these questions.

We are living in a very uncomfortable time. Part of that is because of what is happening in the world, in our country.  But there is also this new paradigm that has down loaded.  It is basically forcing us to wake up.  Not slowly and languidly. We are being startled. Shaken awake. We are being called to awaken to a deeper inner meaning, one where we have been very good at circumventing or just plain avoiding the inner questions of Who am I and What is Mine to DoHow can I Serve?

In a time of paradigm up-shifting, it is now time to become the forerunners of the new beginning.  This is a new beginning for everyone. Because it is a paradigm up-shift, the old way of living our lives does not work anymore.  The problem is that as humans we want to go back to what used to work.  We tend to be creatures of habit.  If something works we stick with that. I would go back to what used to work, and get so frustrated and stuck because I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that It stopped working. Talk about hitting your head against a brick wall!

This new paradigm takes courage - not in the old sense of a battle to be fought but in the new sense of surrendering what we have held so tightly as knowledge and open ourselves to being vulnerable to the beauty of humanity and living.

That is what LYIL retreats will help to uncover and solidify.  We are going to investigate deep within ourselves those deep questions that are going to bring answers that are better than you could have imagined.  This will all be done within a supportive and loving environment.

Join the circle of women who are choosing to bring light to the world by finding their Brilliance and letting it shine!

Wonder - By Olga Singer

Wonder - The wonder of a child as she discovers the butterfly that has transformed itself from a worm to something beautiful and colorful that can fly.

I think as we reach adulthood we lose this, and forget to wonder at all the beauty around us and within us. When my oldest son, Joshua returned from his 2-month trip from Asia he was a changed young man. He saw a lot of beauty, both in the harshness of life and in the wonderment of his surroundings.  It caused him to pause and re-think his decision to attend law school. Sometimes it takes new surroundings for us to see clearly what our next steps in life should be.

I think when he returned from that life altering journey, he was in search of true happiness and that "thing" he was meant to do in this world. So he decided to take a year to discover more of what he wants and what he is meant to do. He is lucky, and many would say very blessed, to have the support of his family and the means to explore his world and the world at large. However, I would argue that you do not need a large bank account to begin a journey of wonder and discovery, you just need the curiosity and the courage to do it.

I too am at a precipice of wonder and discovery. I feel I have been in this place since moving to San Diego County 3 years ago. It was not an easy transition, nor a welcomed one, but one that had to made nonetheless. I turned a corner about 6 months into my move here and discovered the soothing release of journaling. It has helped me tremendously in re-discovering wonder, beauty and the magic that surrounds me. And yes sometimes it's not the traditional beauty and bliss of the good, but also the magic and wonder of the not so good.

Embarking on my inspired life and partnering with my close friend, Susan to create Living Your Inspired Life retreats was an easy decision. The hard part has been to continue to believe in the unknown, the uncertainty of what lies ahead and embrace the wonder and beauty of what we are creating.

This is so much bigger than Susan and me. It feels magical and meant to be on so many levels.

And so I have circled back to the simple. To taking the word Wonder in all its various meanings to heart and remembering to spend time wondering at the beauty and magic around me, and standing still, accepting what is.

A Divine Spark of Light - By Susan Burrell

Often when we enter into a relationship, we give up pieces and parts of ourselves.  We, I believe mostly women of my generation, have been culturalized to believe this is how you participate in relationship - you give of yourself.  But I now realize that there is a difference.  Give of yourself from your heart but don’t give yourself away. 

For many women, the cultural expectation around the world for centuries was to become submissive to the man, your husband.  This idea has become the unconscious program running in our heads. Many women give themselves away, losing precious pieces of self-esteem and self-respect.  Over time resentments, anger and even shame begin to fester. However, we, both men and women are not here to be sub-anything; not subservient, sub-human, not less than our true selves.  And I believe our true nature is Divine.  We, all of us, are a divine spark of light, a divine and individualized expression of a Higher Source that is beyond description.  

When we give ourselves away, we diminish that light within us. We disempower ourselves.  We tell ourselves a lie, maybe consciously or unconsciously, that in order to be loved, to be in relationship, we must be less than the person we love.   We must not outshine the man of the house.  We must not outshine our business colleagues. We must not outshine ourparents. That is simply not true.  And many relationships suffer because of that belief. 

From my personal journey of inner excavation and exploration, I found within me a kernel of that spark, that light that I always was, even after having given pieces of myself away.  Finding that inner spark of light helped me to uncover my true self that was never diminished no matter how “broken” I may have felt. 

In finding my inner brilliance, I began to focus on that, allowing it to grow and radiate out into the world.  I came to realize that I was lovable and in fact, I loved myself.  What a concept.

In some ways I recovered pieces of myself that I had given or thrown away but I also uncovered the brilliant gem of my inner being - and what a beautiful discovery that was. 

I don’t claim to have it all figured out - in fact I don’t.  But I do know that we women are not meant to hid our inner brilliance.  We are meant to radiate that light and in doing so, help heal the world. 

Join us on the next LYIL Retreat and join with other women who are ready to be brilliant!

At a Crossroads, by Olga Singer

It’s been almost three years since I moved to San Diego County and I now find myself at a crossroads once again.  There may be another impending move in our life as my husband searches for work, possibly in another city outside of California … and I am embarking on an exciting venture with my close friend and mentor, Susan Burrell.

Read More

Journey To Self-Love -- By Susan Burrell

My journey through this life has been one of self-exploration and consequently, growth.  That may be true for everyone.   

The more I have learned about myself, the more I have had to let go of in order to become happier and kinder towards myself.  I suppose the self-investigation began because I thought I was imperfect or not enough.  But eventually it became about learning how to love myself first - not after, I loved my husband, or child, or dog.  But I had to put me First. 

It’s very hard for women to put themselves first.  

I never really saw my own brilliance and accepted it until I was shattered during divorce.  With all the pieces of my life scattered on the floor like a broken kaleidoscope, I began the deeper inner journey of self-compassion and forgiveness.  I truly wanted to find my inner happiness and freedom without it being attached to an outside someone or thing.  Now, I share what I have learned on that tragic and profound journey with women who need a guide to help them over the harrowing path of self-acceptance.   This is what LYIL Empowerment Retreats for Women is about. Finding your inner Brilliance and Letting it Shine.