The Love Mindset, An Interview With Vironika

100_0321a(Following is an interview with Vironika Tugaleva, author of The Love Mindset, inspirational speaker, people lover, reformed cynic, and the modern-day person’s guide to love and spirituality. She will help you love yourself, gain peace of mind, and trust your inner voice. You’re invited to read more about Vironika and get a free sneak preview of The Love Mindset here.)

Can you tell us why you wrote The Love Mindset?  It’s a transformational book about healing and you share some pretty heavy, even gut-wrenching stuff about being addicted and suicidal but then reaching the proverbial “jumping off point.”

While I was healing myself, I stood amongst  my broken pieces scattered around my feet.  Beneath the pain, I realized that I was still standing. I realized that I wasn’t those broken little pieces. I was something else.

I used to hate myself, but then I found a part of myself I couldn’t hate. In the end, it wasn’t myself I hated. I hated some mask, some illusion. Once I discovered my true self, I couldn’t help but feel love 680x485picand I couldn’t help but reach out and help other people find themselves too.

I can’t explain to you what it’s like to discover, after feeling broken for so long, a part of yourself that is more than intact; it can’t be broken. That’s a high I can’t explain. It’s like being hungry all your life and finally getting a piece of bread. Except it’s not food, it’s love. It’s a high that never goes away, a high you don’t have to buy because it’s within you.

Everything comes down to love, doesn’t it?  Why do people, especially folks with addiction, have such a hard time loving themselves?

Most people are stuck on one of two things. One, they don’t know that love is a life necessity. They, like I once did, say that love is rare or non-existent. Two, they don’t know what love is. They search for it with other people, and they always fall short.

It is a beautiful, comfortable, and kind of silly truth that all of our troubles originate from a misunderstanding about the nature of love. Love’s not a feeling or an action. It’s not a temporary phase, nor is it hard to get or rare. Love is always there. We just have to figure out how to open up to it.

In the book, you describe what you call “feeding the mind” as a part of healing from addiction.  Can you share what you mean?

You eat with your mouth, you breathe with your nose, and you love with your mind. This sounds strange, but. don’t we love with our hearts?

Technically, we don’t just eat with our mouths either. There’s an entire process of digestion that happens largely in the stomach and intestines. We don’t just breathe with our noses. The lungs do most of the work. Likewise, we don’t just love with our minds. The heart does the feeling part of love, while the mind, like the mouth and nose, acts as a gatekeeper.

A mind needs to be nourished with loving thoughts, about yourself, others, and life itself, and then it just falls open. When the mind allows love inside, then we get that feeling in our hearts. Like air in the lungs and food in our stomach, it’s a feeling we live for and die without.

What needs to happen in a person’s life before she or he can really experience self-love?  Do they have to reach the depths that you did?  Who needs to read your book?

My answer, now and forever, is a resounding No. We don’t need to hit rock bottom to change. We just need to make a decision.

I believe that, deep within, each “broken” person knows they can heal. Healing doesn’t happen when the people who hurt us apologize, or when those memories fade away. It doesn’t happen when our emotions suddenly disappear, or when we find a magic pill. Healing happens when we believe it will. It starts when we decide to heal or die trying.

And that’s who the book is for. It’s for a person who wants to find out, once and for all, how they can have a happy life and a healthy mind.

What’s the one thing you would say to people struggling to heal their lives?

I’d say – listen to your hope. There’s a little shred of hope in anyone who’s struggling. I know it’s in there, because I know what it’s like to face death and that’s the only thing that stands between life and death. The living have hope.

I’ve posted this on my blog and I’ll share it with you here. A few months ago I found a little note I wrote to myself as I was plummeting towards rock bottom. At the time, I was going through a profound crisis, feeling suicidal, self-destructive, and haunted by screaming thoughts in my head.

In a tiny moment of peace, I wrote this. Vironika

I think we all have these moments, from time to time. The key to healing is to realize that the pain isn’t reality – but hope is. Those moments of hope are your only moments of clarity, your only moments of really seeing what’s there. The hope is you. The pain is not.

Note: Vironika has generously offered to give away an e-book of The Love Mindset: An Unconventional Guide to Healing and HappinessTo enter to win a copy, leave a comment below. You can enter until midnight PST on May 1st, 2014.

Title photo courtesy of jdurham

It’s Spring! Get Outside and Blow the Stink Off!

IMG_0963Alrighty then.  You’ve kissed the blarney stone and the wee leprechaun is dancing into history.  It’s the first day of spring and we’re through with holidays for a month or so.

Time to get down to business.  Time to get serious.  Spring cleaning the house isn’t going to take care of itself.

Turns out the house isn’t the only thing that needs a good airing out.  How about the ‘ole noggin?  Think it could use a clearing of the cob webs and a mop and bucket to clean up the winter’s stale outlook and attitudes?

Come on over to my place . . .

I started my spring cleaning a little early after completing Tess Marshall’s Mastermind questionnaire to begin work in her coaching group called The Bold & Courageous Ultimate Mastermind Inner Circle.  Can I just tell you I feel like I’ve completed a fourth step of sorts?

It was fun and grueling and I now know more about myself than I really wanted to know.  Tess will know more about me than anyone else, including me!

Without going into detail, because if you want to shake things up in your life and really take a bold look at your hopes and dreams, I encourage you to head over to Tess’ site, The Bold Life and register for her Mastermind group.  She’s even offering a 60% discount through the month of March.

When 2014 rolled over on the calendar, I said, rather boldly, by the way, this is my year.  When I spoke that emphatic affirmation, every part of me from crown cowlick to toe tips, believed it.  I think I even added a damn it! for emphasis, as in, This is my year, damn it!

The problem was that I had no new tools for creating my year.  I think I subconsciously planned on doing the same things expecting different results.  Uh oh.

Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

Get outside and let the stink blow off!

Did your mother used to say that or did I grow up in the only weird family?  Either way, it’s appropriate here as we talk about refreshing our attitudes–letting go of what didn’t work and trying new tools.

Hence, the Mastermind group.  Man, I’m all in.  I am so ready and willing to do something different, not unlike the decision to enter recovery.  

Guess you could say I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of my winter attitude.  Time to blow the stink off, throw myself into spring and truly become the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.

Who’s with me here?

One of the things I’m doing for myself is reading the hottest new book to hit the treatment/addictions/recovery shelves.  It’s called Beyond Addiction, How Science and Kindness Help People Change.  It’s written by the co-founders of the Center for Motivation & Change, in New York City, along with CMC’s director of evaluation and family services.

One little book tease and then you’ll have to wait for my review:

“We built our practice on optimism, not because it made us feel good, though it does, but because it works.  We base our optimism, our clinical practice, and now this book on forty years of well-documented research on how substances and other compulsive behaviors affect people, why people use them, and how and why people stop self-destructive behavior and start on paths toward health and happiness.  In turn, our experiences with thousands of clients bear out the research findings.

“There is in fact a science of change.”

Stay tuned and Happy Spring (cleaning!)!


Is There an Upside to Impulsive Decisions?


In the last week, I’ve made three impulsive, yet relatively educated decisions.

All the decisions involve taking actions that are good for me.  All of them also involve spending money, one of them a lot of money.

After a year of self-employment and the slow start of building a business, I don’t have a lot of money to spend.  But in each of the three cases, I listened to my intuitive voice and jumped.

Never mind the net.  I don’t need no stinkin’ net.

And neither do you.

Yes, you might crash and burn

There is always a risk of failure.  At the risk of tooting my proverbial horn, I can honestly say I haven’t failed too often in this life and I’m grateful.  I have, however, experienced plenty of heartache when something didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.

So you see, it’s really a question of how you define failure.  Some people take a shot, miss, and watch their self-worth take a nose dive.  Others take the shot, miss, crash and figure out a way to try again.  Or try something different.

That’s why those of us who fall into the latter category don’t need the stinkin’ net.  In order to live our dreams, we have to at least try to fail.

How can you know something won’t work unless you check it out?  And there, my friends, is the upside to making impulsive decisions.

You might get to fail.  If you do, at least you didn’t spend a lot of time with the whole back-and-forth, should-I or shouldn’t-I b.s.

On the other hand, you might not fail.  You might be a roarin’ success.  Because you didn’t spend a lot of time second-guessing yourself, you have more time to put into your successful decision.

What do you really have to lose?

Years ago, when I was pretty new in recovery, I’d go to my sponsor with a decision that needed to be made.  Invariably she would listen patiently to my verbal pro and con list. After I said, “but on the other hand” 16 times, she would ask me, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”

Exasperated, I would do give her the new-to-recovery dramatic response, “Well, I could DIE!”

Trust me, with the exception of one time (and that’s a different post for a much more serious time), there were no life and death situations.

I just realized–seriously, just this second–that I’ve packed around a different version of that dramatic response for some time now.  I traded the “I could DIE” response for “I could run out of money.”

Oh wow.  It’s true.  Running out of money has been my biggest fear.  Hang on for a second because I need to process this a bit.

Want to know what my honest-to-God, from-the-gut response is to that fear in this very moment?

So what?

Tess Marshall

Is losing a bunch of money really the worst thing that can happen to me?  Hardly.

My friend Tess Marshall, author of The Bold Life and courage coach, says, “Fear is crazy-making; it taunts and depletes you. It keeps you imprisoned, depressed and lifeless. Fear steals your joy.”

Suddenly I’m having a vision of me crashing and burning as a result of one of the decisions I impulsively made this week.  There’s a bunch of fire and smoke, but there’s also me walking through it, a little sooty, maybe, but ready to fly again.  Without the damn net.

Whether the decisions work is really not the issue.  The issue is whether you’re willing to BOOM, make the decision, and then simply let go and enjoy the ride.

Photo courtesy of AcrylicArtist