Thanks and Goodbye 2016


Thanks and Goodbye 2016

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Wow, what a year 2016 was.

Wow, what a year 2016 was. Aside from a presidential election that left many out of sorts and other world news that continues to leave us with our jaws dropped, most people in my life - family, friends, and acquaintances - experienced major personal life changes that were so real and shocking, they had a tendency to make “external” news pale in comparison. These changes I speak of constituted a major shedding of what is no longer true for us, or an opportunity to step into a new way of being, or a combination of the two.

For me, the most significant part of my year was taking a huge risk in hanging up my stable, comfy Corporate hat to embrace entrepreneurship and do hair and makeup full time. At least I welcomed this unpredictable change - I can’t imagine being thrown out of my comfort zone by external forces like some people I know - and now I’m excited to share my experiences 7 months later. I will start by saying it launched me into a transformation that was and still is uncomfortable, thrilling, terrifying, exciting, humbling, empowering, and most importantly, HAPPY! :)

A week before my last day as a corporate American citizen, Sullivan McLaughlin Hook came into the world. He was also born just 3 days after my grandfather’s funeral. The circle of life is a beautiful, bittersweet thing. Anyhow, in my first week of unemployment, I flew to Brooklyn to be with my sister and Sully during his newborn days and I really just had so much gratitude for the opportunity to do so. If I would have still been in my job, I wouldn’t have been able to go. Everything does happen for a reason and what perfect timing for me to be free to love on and connect with my first nephew! It’s these priceless, precious moments in life that I truly cherish and find most beautiful.


I recall so vividly the angst I still felt in my body when I was in New York. It was that same angst I had most Sundays when I knew I had to go back to work on Monday. I hadn’t been away from my job for long enough to let it sink in that I was in fact, FUN-employed! I wanted to feel free and I was too programmed to be and live a certain way that I just couldn’t do it. What a shame.

So off to Alaska I went on a cruise with my dear friend, mentor, business coach and confidante, Bob. I found relaxation amidst the vast ocean and serene nature that surrounded us. Visiting Alaska was like visiting another country - it’s larger than the size of Texas and has a unique culture of its own. We embarked out of Seattle and stopped at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, British Columbia. To be in nature to that degree was very therapeutic and although I STILL wasn’t feeling like I was free from my job, my body was relaxed and my mind was inspired.

When we returned to Seattle, I was so blessed to spend the day with my dear friend before flying back home to Santa Barbara. We played at Chihuly’s museum and ate good food at Pike Place. I relished in her graceful, beautiful presence, recognizing that one thing I now get to focus on more in my life is something that has taken a backseat in my life: friendships. I was becoming a different person simply because I had more TIME and I knew I wanted to become a better friend and to establish closer friendships.

Having an exquisitely stimulating Alaskan experience and feeling grounded as a result of being with a close friend, I returned to Santa Barbara with so much energy and motivation. I had plans the next day, Memorial Day, to go to cookouts and be with friends and relish in this new energy. Yet I slept in and woke up feeling completely exhausted. I also felt strange… lost. I felt depressed. I had no plans and I felt as though I had nothing to live for. This was the first day since that last day of my job that I literally had NOTHING to do. No where to travel, no meetings, nothing to prepare for. Detaching from the mind games, I had the intellect to know this was a spiritual journey as much as a physical and mental journey. For me that meant ensuring I was healthy through the unknown process of inevitable change. So I spent the day preparing a food plan and exercise regimen for myself. It was the basics I could commit to on a daily basis and to me, that was a good start.

I decided to partake in this year’s Summer Solstice parade for the first time. My friend Kimi had a “Peaceful Pink Party float” and the theme for the parade was legends so she invited friends to become part of her float as any pink character we chose. I put my creative hat on and decided to be a pink honey bee, wearing a gas mask. More than the message I was trying to send - that bees are dying because the chemical-laden pesticides being used on our planet are harmful to them - this was an opportunity for me to be creative and let my logical left brain take a long nap while my right brain guided the way for a little while. It was also an opportunity to feel part of the community that I so love and cherish in Santa Barbara. The expansion through this process was more than I could have expected. Seeing people working together to create art and help one another grounded me. To see everyone’s hard work on the day of the parade and dance around the street incognito (in my gas mask) was such a liberating experience of pure PLAY!

Amidst this time, I couldn’t help but think about that four letter word - work - and even more so, what I needed to do to make that five letter word - money. But it was very clear to me that I was resisting both. I just wanted to be free from the responsibility and obligation of either of those things. My resistance to work was met with acceptance. I came to understand that I didn’t really NEED to work and as a result, I made myself open and available to other life experiences and in hindsight, I’m so glad I did.

I started a 4 month long spiritual circle in June. “Circle” required the participants to read the book “I Am The Word” and attend a weekly in-person meeting, where we discussed the book and how our spiritual work was affecting our lives. It was the perfect timing and the work is still having positive influences in my life today. In fact, I will never give up this spiritual work of mine. It is now integral to who I am and how I interact with my Self and others in life. The best thing Circle taught me was TRUST. I would define the trust I speak of as being in alignment with a divine knowing that everything is as it should be, in perfect imperfection, manifesting for my highest and best good, each and every day. And a big piece of this trust is SURRENDER. I finally let myself surrender all my fears, and shoulds, and worry, and ego, and all those other things that we attach to as a way of getting to know ourselves or defining ourselves, but don’t necessarily serve us on a truly conscious and spiritual level. After all, all is energy. So in effect, we are spiritual beings living a physical existence, rather than physical beings living a spiritual existence. Think about it. We have an opportunity to raise our vibration, to operate at a frequency that is in alignment with that which is greater than us - call it God or the universe. I’m interested in living a full experience of life across spectrums and this is supporting that. So be it!

I also joined Toastmasters… another weekly commitment that required me to be up early and at the meeting place by 7am. Those who know me know that I’m not a morning person and so this was challenging for me. But I wanted to practice my public speaking skills and improve my confidence and thought if I could speak at 7am when I barely knew my name, I could speak with ease any other time.
Two months of travel allowed me to escape and feel a new beginning with each destination. My final travel in that 2 month period was to Las Vegas. It was icing on the cake. It was my first time actually staying in the hotel and enjoying all its amenities. It was a quick weekend, but it was fun and relaxing. I met up with a long time friend who brings out the play in me, and me in her. That kind of dynamic opened us up to a world of new experiences, from the European pool to the biggest nightclub in Las Vegas… and all that comes with that kind of environment ;)

During my fun-employment, I also had to be cognizant of my responsibilities and those things that are important to one’s mere existence. Like health insurance. What an enlightening experience that was. I had been accustomed to the sweet convenience of corporate plans and now, I had the pleasure of getting a taste of Obamacare. I did some online research and then talked to a few people to get guidance and advice. The good news: I wasn’t going to have to pay because I was making little to no money. The bad news: Having to select from a small list of providers to get less than good care. I have a new appreciation for how messed up our healthcare industry really is. I can’t imagine how many people are taking advantage of this program, whether out of necessity or not. I’ve always been pretty healthy and never felt it just to have my premiums increase when I barely go to the doctor. I now understand what I was paying for - other people to go.

Fortunately I received my health insurance card just a week before severely spraining my ankle. I thought I’d be able to heal it on my own, but 3 days after the sprain, it was so swollen and painful that I had to go to urgent care to get an x-ray. I never saw the x-ray, but the doctor told me it wasn’t broken. I took his word for it. It set me on a more in depth spiritual journey because I had something to heal with my mind, and the mind can heal anything if it wants to, I believe. I consulted Louise Hay (check out her book Heal Your Body A-Z) to understand the emotional connection to my physical condition. I learned that healing an ankle brings PLEASURE and that was something that I was clearly lacking in my life. Funny how things happen. That’s the beauty of divine intervention.

Just three days after my ankle sprain, I had an interview at a hair salon in town. I arrived 30 minutes early to limp in and have plenty of time. I thought the interview went well but I had other things on my mind. I limped out in even more pain and with the realization that I needed to see a doctor. This injury was really inhibiting to my life and I was experiencing intermittent bursts of worry. Worry about how much longer I’d have to go without work or money. A week later, I got the good news that I was hired for the job, where I’d start as both a receptionist (where I could sit) and as a service provider (doing hair, makeup and nails). It was tough at first limping my way around, but I loved the environment and trusted I was meant to be there. The salon team was nothing like any work environment I’d ever been part of. They were silly and sometimes loud and funny. There were “HR violations” by the hour, mixed in with laughter, passion, and fun. I wanted to maintain my corporate professionalism and resort to judgement but the professionalism was a box that didn’t serve me and judgement is opposite my new total-acceptance-spiritual-lifestyle. I realized that finally, I was surrounded by people who I could be myself with and who supported and loved me just as I was, as I did them. I am so grateful for my salon team… so grateful that it brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. The timing of this opportunity wasn’t ideal because I really needed to stay off my ankle, but I loved being there and learning new things and getting to know these people. So I spent at least 2 months going back and forth from my couch to work. Aside from the necessary visits to my handsome chiropractor who worked his magic on my ankle and grocery shopping, I really didn’t out much. My couch and ice packs were my friends and supported my spiritual journey of both contraction and expansion.

It was no surprise that I was faced with another emotional challenge during this time of introspection. At a friend’s Consciousness Networking Event, transformational healer and coach Rikka Zimmerman asked me in front of almost 200 people a 4 word question: Do you feel safe? I had asked about resistance and knowing how to decipher between resistance that is serving versus resistance that is to be overcome with perseverance. But she said it was more than that for me. And asked me if I felt safe. Despite years of friendship and therapy and my own relationship with my self, that question had never been brought to my attention. She lead me through some positive affirmations that brought me to tears and I spent the rest of the weekend crying and contemplating areas of my life that left me feeling unsafe. What a wild ride that was. By day 4, I was on the other side of it. Healed in a new way, even though I thought I was already healed from sexual assault. Maybe I will just face these reminders that that is part of my story and I just have to learn to navigate it each time. Or maybe, and hopefully, that was the end to that healing… to ultimately invite pleasure.

I’m sitting at an airport bar as I type this and I just have to interrupt the somewhat chronological order of this recap to share that I’ve started dating again and have had juicy romance just within the last couple of weeks. Pleasure has arrived and I trust it’s sticking around.

Slowly but surely, my healing ankle coincided with business opportunities and growth in my new career. I have been dependent on my savings account but the amount I take each month seems to gradually decrease. Doing hair, makeup and nails has been so humbling and also empowering. I love it. I love the service industry. I love that private time with people to hold a space for them to be at ease. My skills are coming back and yet I recognize that I still have so much to learn. I am expanding my streams of income - from house calls, to wedding hair/makeup to beauty consulting and hosting beauty workshops. Brainstorming and planning is often on my mind but it’s all showing up in perfect order and timing and for that, I feel so blessed.

I see this year as an end of a 9 year life cycle. 2+0+1+6 = 9. On a single digit level, you can’t go higher. I leave this year with a desire to build a business that really speaks to my story and passion of helping women FEEL their inner beauty and taking bold moves in ways that are safe for their experience and personality to live an empowered life. I leave this year with support in my community from friends and businesses alike, and also from strangers in a new accountability group I joined 2 weeks ago. I leave this year with an appreciation for all the discomfort, pain, sadness, and confusion. I leave this year with a better understanding of myself and my needs, of relationships, and of what friendships I can let go of and who I can invite in.

I see 2017 as a new beginning. 2+0+1+7 = 10 (1+0 = 1). I begin again with a new sense of myself, more motivation and inspiration and a great sense of divine purpose.

If you made it this far, THANK YOU for reading my courageous 2016 story. I am pretty sure I will look back at this time in my life as one of the most significant and pivotal in my lifetime and it is an honor to have you as an audience. I hope to be a source of inspiration and beauty as you move forward in your life. May you be blessed with all that serves you and may you trust in it all, regardless!

With much LOVE,
Melissa Rae