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They say everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. I am about to make my battles public. The struggle is real for me, but not always readily apparent to everyone else. I struggle with bipolar disorder and anxiety, but my coping mechanisms are stellar. I have spent many years practicing and cultivating my coping skills for both. My disposition is such that I am inclined to worry. However, my childhood only amplified both my worries and predisposition for bipolar disorder. Growing up, my mother had very real hardships with bipolar disorder. As a result, a heavy dose of PTSD was added to my childhood and development. In my early 30s, I was diagnosed with  bipolar disorder. Why am I sharing this very private and vulnerable information with you?

Because vulnerability breeds strength, courage, love, and hope. 
I never saw my mood disorder coming. Bipolar disorder is like holding a live grenade, but you are ineptly unable to throw it away. Exploding-fluctuating emotions that I am utterly, maddeningly, aware of. The noise inside is deafening and time itself feels suspended. Ironically, life is like that. We all have moments when tragedy strikes home to our emotions, but for myself it can happen at regular intervals. How do we handle these harrowing life challenges?

The best way I’ve found to manage challenges is to face them head on. Face your fears.
There is no room for procrastination. You must take a hard look at yourself while prioritizing self care. During times of duress, it is vital to have a team of loving people at your side. My husband and soul mate plays a pivotal role. Words are severely inadequate to express the love and support he provides.

Jiu Jitsu is another part of that team and within this community boasts some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. Jiu Jitsu is my happy place. You will always see me on the mats grinning from ear to ear. Jiu Jitsu helps me to find my center, the portion of myself that is truly “me”.

Friendship is a cornerstone for my team. I have the most-loving people surrounding me. They get me to “lighten up” and laugh more. They push me to grow and to be better. I am immensely grateful for all the incredible people in my life, which includes my support in spirit. I have wanted to write this post previously, but my anxiety has always stopped its progression. People may judge me or feel sorry for me, but I will not let these things hold back this post any longer.

Today, I do not let anxiety or fear run my life. I feel them, but then I move forward. I do not quit. 
Know that through your failures, you will learn to extract the key learning points to improve yourself or your situation. Failure is not the end, it is the beginning. Your struggles need not define you. You define yourself. Choose the bravery and courage to be your definition. Above all, use your struggles to inspire and lift others from the depths. Be a beacon to guide others back to themselves.

I am better as a result of my struggles. You can be too. 

How to find your spirit animal
“A spirit animal is a spirit that guides an individual, protects them, or both.”

How do you know which spirit animal is working with you? As a spirit animal reader, that is the number one question I am asked. For starters, ask yourself the following simple questions. What is your favorite animal? Which animals are you naturally attracted to right now? Is there an animal that you see frequently? These questions are just the beginning! Be mindful and in no time you will notice even more spirit animals trying to get your attention.

“Owl helps us to pierce illusion and unmask the truth”

Just today, my friend messaged me on FB and said, “Look who has been hanging out with me for the past half hour.” It was a burrowing owl! Later that afternoon, I walked down to the thrift store and saw the image of owl everywhere! My intuition already alerted me that owl was indeed present, but the external validation told me that I needed to pay more attention to owl spirit. I promptly looked up the spirit animal meaning and symbolism for owl.  Below, you will see two of my favorite Shamanic reference websites for spirit animals.

1.) Shamanic Journey
2.) Wild Gratitude
Here are the primary ways you can connect to your spirit animal guides: 
1.) Dreams
2.) Meditation
3.) Shamanic Journeying
4.) Nature
5.) Animal Objects(For example, feathers, animal jewelry, or animal statues)
6.) Prayer

How do I know a spirit animal is trying to contact me?
Your intuition will guide you. Do you think the animal is trying to get your attention? Do you think there is s message? Trust yourself.  My grandfather passed away a few years ago(see above photo). During the time period leading up to his passing, I started seeing hawks. Even though the doctors were initially optimistic about my grandfather’s illness,  I got a feeling that the hawk was there to support me and my grandfather during his  transition into the spirit world. The day of his funeral, as we were driving home, a hawk flew right in front of our car. I see hawk frequently during my travels. Hawk reminds me of my grandfather’s loving spirit and support from the spirit world. The hawk makes me feel protected and safe. The hawk also reminds me that I am indeed divinely guided at all times.

Is the animal behaving strangely? 

My last animal story is about a baby cardinal that was lightly tapping against our window. The boys kept saying. “Mom, we have a visitor!” They told me the baby cardinal had been rapping against our window all morning! My sons know that cardinals mean an ancestor or family member is visiting us from the spirit world. Right away, I thought of our first child my husband and I lost. For me, it was a beautiful “hello” from my first baby in spirit. I brought out a bread offering as a form of gratitude for a message received.

Gratitude for all the blessings that we have received and to those we have yet to receive,

Jaguar spirit animal

Jaguar reminds us that we are powerful beings.

Dark times remind us that we can suffer tremendously, yet come out of our struggles both stronger and wiser. During the challenges of life, it can feel as if we are drowning and will never recover. Clarity is replaced with a veil of fog. Then, debilitating anxiety and depression often follows. As a result, we can “feel” weak and powerless..

I am hear to say, “Nothing can be further from the truth.”

The truth is that no matter how challenging our circumstances, within, lies incredible opportunity. Opportunities such as personal growth, strength, transformation, and wisdom. Our power cannot be stripped away and it certainly cannot be taken. Your power is fully your own. We simply forget how powerful we truly are.

Ask me how I know?

I am not spouting some yogi BS, because I have been down this road. There was a time when I felt incredibly low. I wanted to give up. My power felt non-existent. It took many months for me to reclaim my power again. I was battling severe PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Today,  my anxiety level is near zero and I feel more powerful than ever. This transformation does not take place overnight. It takes patience, work, and faith in spirit. You must understand, there is a reason for your challenges and lessons to be learned. The light, power, and happiness are yours. The power lies within you.

How to reclaim your power?

Focus on self love, self acceptance, and self examination. Look within and do not fear what you see or feel. No judgment, just awareness. Rest. Restart and refocus as many times as necessary. Face your fears one at a time. Allow feelings, emotions, and traumas to come to the surface. When you are ready, let them go. Be still. In stillness, we find clarity.  Be gentle and patient with yourself. Pray and have faith in the Great Spirit.

Today is your reminder that you are powerful and, like the jaguar, incredibly strong.

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