After a whole entire year of preparing for and passing this exam in German to practice psychotherapy, I’ve now had a few days since last Wednesday to celebrate, rest, and, of course, reflect on what I want to share with you. Some are deeper pieces that I am taking with me from this time of my life, others more obvious and quick, more layered, all a part of me & the gold from my journey I choose to share with you—what could be relevant to YOU and your life.

I am going to be sharing these over the next few days…here’s the first.

1) You CAN do it your way.

I took a course to help me with the exam preparation (and this was great), as was getting into smaller study groups later on as the date grew closer for the exam. I loved my small group—until we started getting ready for the oral exam. Then, their study style –I don’t quite know if it’s a cultural difference or what—but somehow grew too “aggressive” for me. They wanted to simulate the way an oral exam might go—if the examiners were mean and evil! And, at this stage of the game for me, as a mother, a wife, living in another country, with a Master’s in Counseling Psychology and a coaching practice, it felt too aggressive and stressful for me, so I had to let go of studying in group and had to begin studying on my own.

I actually even took a really nice long break—and went to Mexico to speak at a Congress and then to the beach for a week—and then came home and resisted studying for a few weeks, before I got back into the game. Even deeper than that, I refused to let myself fall into old study patterns from my youth, in which I went to Ivy League schools & academics was supposed to win over self-care.

Growing up, pulling all nighters, drinking tons of caffeinated coffee, eating junk food, anything that allowed me to spend hours and hours sitting and studying and /or writing papers—all was allowed. Even if it damaged me/ my body.

Now it’s a no-go. There’s only a certain level of stress that I allow myself to go through things to do something. I took weekends off to spend with my family. I planned so I could study 2 hours/day Monday-Friday—and then stop!! And continue with my life—working out, getting my mind off of things, meditating, resting, eating well (organic, fresh, homemade food), etc.

Now—all of this may sound easy or even obviously healthy and non-negotiable. But, let me tell you—in the practice—I was the one who took a stand for this, in the midst of a group of classmates who were otherwise similar to me (spiritual, into self-development, growth, etc.) but were studying a lot more hard core than I was. It was weird for me to feel like, I was taking a stand for something but with no guarantee of the outcome. I grew up very used to going for goals in such a way that there was no other outcome but “success” (i.e. passing the exam). The ends justified the means. It didn’t matter what I did to get into Columbia or pass a huge exam, as long as I did—even if that meant smoking tons of cigarettes or drinking way too much coffee.

For me, this marked an important change in my life in which –okay, sure, I get the system here in Germany demands this—but I won’t give up all of myself for this anymore. I told myself I would be okay with it if I did not pass the first time and I had to take it again, even if I had to face my classmates.

While all of this studying or direction of study was not exactly a passion project or soul calling, it still feels good I found a way to do it that was not compromising my health, body, or family. I can pick up some of my soul projects now with full integrity. That feels good. And I passed!!! Affirmation from the Universe!

YOU CAN do things your way—whether that’s in a slower pace, in a kinder energy…doing things in a way that is ALIGNED with YOU and your path of healing and recovery IS BEING YOUR SELF. Sometimes the phrase “be yourself” can sound so cryptic—well, this is it! Doing things YOUR way…in a way that works for you, your natural rhythm, nervous system, for your health & wellbeing. Doubts may come, fears…. Befriend them. And be yourself anyways. Nothing is worth more than that.

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Photo: me on the way to celebrating Wednesday after passing the exam.