Who do I think I AM????

You may have wondered, "Why is this Andrea Garst person claiming to be an expert on Happiness?"  and let me tell you, I have been questioning this myself, lately!  This past year has been extremely challenging, and at times I shook my head in disbelief that I had written a book, telling people how to achieve Happiness.  I couldn't really even find it myself! As the fog clears, as it does, I realized that life would not evolve without adversity.  We would not grow if we were not ever challenged.  Think of a muscle:  if you never use it, it never develops.  The more you use it, the more resistance it encounters, the bigger and stronger it becomes!  Our mentality is a muscle, of sorts.  This is certainly not a new analogy, but it has taken on new meaning for me.

My son had a hard day at school last week and came home with a long face.  "Why does life have to be so HARD?"  he wailed.  I hugged him and reminded him that the hard days can make us even more grateful for the happier days.  He grumped back something at me, and I smiled to myself. One day, he will look back and wish he only had middle school problems.  As we get stronger, our issues become larger, and this is proof that we have experienced growth.  I take it for validation that not too many things get to me these days.  The things that bother me, are worth my time and growth.

My, how they have grown!

We have deluded ourselves into thinking that Happiness, Peace, Love, or any other desirable emotion, is a constant state of being.  This is simply NOT THE CASE.  You don't achieve Happiness, and just stay stagnant, nor would you want to!  You keep challenging yourself to make the hard decisions, and create the change in you that will ultimately move you forward.  This is human nature, and to be stagnant is NOT the goal here.  So, as I go through a depressed day here, an angry day there, I realize that this is just my energetic body moving out the old, making way for the new, and, at the same time, creating resilience for the future.  This is very exciting, and even though I still make a lot of mistakes and have certainly not been even close to "perfect,"  I am most certainly, without a doubt, HUMAN to the core.

Enjoy your human existence!  I will keep trying:)

What's that smell?

From a very young age, I have been ultra sensitive to smells.  I could smell atmospheric changes and electricity.  It was, many times, an annoyance, as there are many types of odors in the world, from the very pleasant, to the kind that make you gag.  I never knew that this was unique to me, I thought everyone could smell when it was about to rain.  I mentioned it to a friend one day and she looked at me like I was completely insane. She had never heard of someone being able to smell the atmospheric changes.  I started to notice it in other ways, and soon I became self conscious of it, and I wouldn't ask someone, "What's that smell?" because most of the time, I was the only one who could smell it. Roses smell heavenly!

When I began my intuitive training, the most commonly used phrase at the center was "everything is energy." It took me a while, but I soon embraced this philosophy fully.  One area that I have begun to translate into energy is this heightened sense of smell.  A man I dated a few years back began to have a different smell to him.  It became stronger and stronger and finally, I asked him if he was using a different aftershave, eating something new, or taking some medication. He could not think of anything, and I finally had to admit that it must be part of his energetic signature, shifting somehow.  It became so repellant that I could not even bring myself to kiss him, and even though he tried everything, it would not go away.  We finally broke up, and I realized that, as we were growing apart, the smell was growing stronger and more abhorrent!  I finally understood that this is a gift of mine, and I need to listen to it.  It can tell me when someone has been drinking, when they are unhealthy, or even if they are too sad to shower regularly.  I can use this perception to heighten my intuition even further!

I am very excited that I have made this discovery and I wanted to share it with you all immediately.  I am sure there are many of you who have heightened senses, and can totally relate.  I look forward to hearing your stories!

Smells like a good day! Much love xxxxxx

The Well of Souls

There are moments in our lives where we are forced to redefine ourselves in such a dramatic way, that it feels like a birth.  When faced with challenges that seem insurmountable, we have two choices:  give up, or forge ahead.  Sometimes we have to just cry, and scream, and beat the hell out of some pillows, to get to the point where we can calmly face the challenge.  Other times we need good friends to talk to us, and support our growth.  But the one thing that is always constant in these situations is that you will never forget this time.  So, how do you want to remember it?  Do you want to recall yourself striking out at the person you want to blame, hurting them, forcing them to take on your pain?  Or do you want to look back and smile at the way you tentatively started down your new path, with only a book of matches to light the way? I am currently facing a challenge which scares me on a very basic level. Instantly, I found myself surrounded by angels, who I call my friends.  They reminded me of my own strength, and how much I have taught them, and I started to see the light of hope.  You see, when you give up, you are missing the chance the grow in such a way that your life will change forever.  And that is always a good thing.  ALWAYS.  I have faced many challenges and life choices which seemed completely without meaning, and were so painful that I experienced it on a physical level.  But I always emerged from that experience with a deeper understanding of who I was, and how much I could handle.  Sometimes, I have to go back and apologize to those who I may have hurt in my process.  This time, I want to conduct myself with dignity, and send out love and positive energy, so that I can look back and say that, no matter what the outcome, I created something from it.  And isn't that all we can do?

I know that some people would take pleasure in my downfall, but I can not let that stop me from reaching for the stars.  I have taken steps which leave no footprints, but only propel me forward.  I am reminded of that scene in Hercules, where he is falling into the well of souls.  The longer he is immersed in that pit of death, the more life is drained from him.  I must take the hands of the ones who love me and want to see me succeed, and let them help me out of the pit.  I will then be able to heal myself and continue on my path of happiness and love.  I refuse to let the dying drag me down with them.

Like the legend Gloria Gaynor says, "I will survive!"  And I will.  Peace to you all this day.

Times of Change

I have been hearing a lot from my close circle of friends lately, that many people are struggling. As this is the age of social media, I don't see it on my Facebook page, and I started wondering if I was the "only one" having these feelings of sadness and depression. I realized that most of us don't reach out to others when we are feeling sad. We have been programmed to only attempt communication when we are happy, or else others "won't like us." I have definitely been called "dramatic," and told to "chill" when I am upset. These are just forms of invalidation, and we must be very careful that we are not using them to avoid our own feelings. When others are in pain, we must also look at our own pain, and this is hard. It is easier to tell them "relax," and laugh it off, than to listen, and therefore have to reflect on our own pain and unanswered questions. Depression is "catching" in that way, however, I like to look at it as opportunities for me to see something about myself that otherwise I might not want to look at.

I am always saddened when my feelings end relationships. In times of conflict, relationships either fall away, or are strengthened by adversity. However, some people are simply in too much of their own pain to recognize how to separate theirs from yours. When I find myself saying, "That person hurt me," I can then look at what part of me resonates with that. In order for their words or actions to hurt me, I must have given them an opening. When I say that, it is almost always unconscious. When I wrote of the "walking wounded" a while back, this is what I meant. We all have emotional injuries which are constantly effecting our decisions. This, in turn, sends us in a direction which steers us away from the areas which are painful. And unfortunately, that often results in having shallow, unfulfilling relationships. When you are on the right path, there are always going to be bumps in the road. But when you have your internal vision set on your ultimate goal, you will not be deterred for any reason.
When someone tells me, "You don't have any problems," I am always surprised. Others see us so differently because they do not know our innermost feelings. I'm not sure if this is helpful, or harmful. I'm not going to start wearing a shirt that lists all my insecurities and problems, but I am also not really willing to continue with the false bravado and automatic replies which belie my true self. If you ask me how I am, I may not say "fine." I don't expect to have a 3 hour conversation about it, but I think it's time for us to stop denying our true feelings, just to make others more comfortable. In fact, I think it is starting to have the opposite effect, if what I am hearing is accurate. The flip side is that I do not need to have a strong reaction if someone tells me they are not fine. I can always spare time for a quick hug and a few words of encouragement. If we are not uncomfortable with our own feelings, maybe we can work towards being open to all the feelings of others. We spend more time worrying about hurting each other's feelings than honoring our own, and this is a losing game for all involved.
If you see me out and about, and I look sad, do what works for you. But please don't ask me how I am if you do not REALLY want to know. I'm ok with it either way!!!! Wishing you all peace and contentment on this beautiful Sunday.


In the past few months, I have often used the descriptive term "feeling crushed," to describe my life. It seems that even my best laid plans often go awry, and I am left feeling directionless and confused. I really have two choices in these situations, to accept these messages from the universe, or not. In the past, I might have let my control issues overtake me, and forced certain things to happen, most often with an outcome that was less than desirable.

Instead, I have decided to breathe. I have decided to take the messages that disappointment gives me, and use it to decide upon my path. Sometimes that means not doing anything at all, and waiting for another message that directs me into the right area. This is the single most difficult thing I have done, to let go and wait. My life has been structured around knowing what is going to happen, and never trusting anything or anyone. I have to recognize that this has not worked out for me. I certainly have no regrets, but to really move forward, I have to let go of that pattern and trust. Trust that God, or the universe, or whatever you choose to put your faith in, will send me in the right direction and bring me in contact with the people and things that will make my life amazing and all that I have wished and hoped for.
Loving yourself and making choices based on that is really the only way to be sure that you are on your path. If you have people in your life who are toxic, but you are afraid to let them go, because of obligation, or fear of loneliness, you are not putting yourself first. Even family obligations can be released and restructured. Pain in these situations is really just your indication that what you are doing is very important. The pain that I am feeling today is my lesson and my opportunity to grow, and breathe. This is my life and I trust that I will receive all that I deserve.
Wishing you all love, light, and healing. Namaste.

Honesty and other pitfalls

Everyone likes to declare themselves as "honest" and asks you to also be "honest" with them. I have learned, over the years, that most people do NOT want you to be honest with them. If you tell someone that their new haircut is really not working for them, they do not like this. Most people will only tell you the "honest truth" if it is what you want to hear. Otherwise, things will get uncomfortable very quickly. The most difficult area of honesty is in relationships. Most of us have stayed in relationships, at least once, because we didn't want to "hurt the other person." This is perhaps the most dangerous of all situations, since it is destined to hurt a LOT of people, including yourself.

My friend was very upset today about the fact that his girlfriend of a few years broke up with him, telling him she, "hadn't loved him for a while." I asked him, "This tells you that she was really trying not to hurt your feelings." He was hurt because she rejected him, and she knew that he would be, so she put it off as long as possible, until she literally could not stand to be in the relationship anymore. She broke up with him and was in another guy's arms that night. My friend was hurt, but he probably would have been less hurt if she had told him right away. I can't tell you how many times I have done this, and also had it happen to me. It's human nature to stay in a familiar place and "keep the peace." No one truly enjoys confrontation, and we will go to great lengths to avoid it, but in the end, we end up hurt, and hurting others, MORE than if we would have just been honest with ourselves and others right away. The other side of this is how you react when someone is actually up front with you about something. I had a guy friend who wanted to be more than friends, and he made this clear to me on several occasions. He kept trying to get me to go out with him, and I kept making excuses as to why I couldn't. I didn't want to "hurt his feelings" by telling him how I really felt, so this continued for a little while. I finally gave in and went out with him, and at the end of the date, I told him I really just wanted to be friends and wasn't interested in anything more. He got violently angry and accused me of using him, among other things. I was shocked at his reaction and asked him if he would like me to date him out of obligation. He became even more incensed and stalked off, never to be heard from again. Now please tell me, what did I do "wrong" here??? I'm sure he went around and told everyone that I was a horrible person for some reason, and got all of them to agree with him. But in the end, I was happy to have him out of my life, and I honestly don't feel I did anything wrong, except perhaps I should have told him immediately that I wasn't interested.
When someone is brave enough to be truly honest with you, ask yourself why you are hurt. Is it your ego that feels rejected? I always tell my kids, "I don't like everyone, and not everyone likes me, and that is fine both ways." Do not let yourself fall into the trap of basing your self worth on how others feel about you. I have many amazing people in my life, and I am also blissfully unaware of those who do not "like" me. We are all on different paths and have different goals. Some people are very unhappy and looking to blame others, while some are so far buried in the self pity and punishment that they are not open to love or acceptance from others. I wish everyone well but I do not want negativity in my life, so I will avoid those who are stuck in that.
May you all find other souls who are on your path and support you where you are, as well as where you are going. Namaste.

Father's Day 2011

On this 19th day of June, year 2011, I reflect back onto my life and relationship with the man who helped bring me into this world. He is a "good" man, active in the community and church, and provided for our family as best he could. At times, this meant we ate potatoes for dinner night after night, but he never sat at home idly. He went to school, he worked, he prayed. Some of my earliest memories were of he and I fishing on a lake, just the two of us, and even though, to this day I can not look at certain types of fish without gagging, cleaning and gutting them was part of this ritual and I can say it added to my life experiences. My dad was my hero in my early years, and he worked in the hospital, saving lives, and I would sit on his lap and listen intently as he described to me in great detail how motorcycles were the most dangerous things you could ride. To this day I have a fear of those machines, but it hasn't stopped me from riding them.

My relationship with my father began to crumble when trusted family friend molested me, and I realized that all men were a threat to me. Unfortunately, my mother's refusal to accept this as truth sent me deeper into the hole which I was to dig for myself at the ripe old age of 6. My father was confused as to why I wouldn't sit on his lap anymore, and I was too scared to tell him. You see, I had also experienced his anger, and it was something I would never seek to incite. The television was thrown into the back yard, and anything that wasn't nailed down became fair game for hurling across the room. Many nights I sought refuge behind the sofa with my brothers, crying as silently as possible, so that he would not find us. My brothers were scared to hide with me since I could not contain my tears for long. I was terrified in my own home, and I was 7.
As I grew older, I learned to protect myself with anger, also, and never allowed anyone to really get close to me, as my fear had not been allowed to surface yet. The day I graduated high school, I moved out, and never looked back. For years I moved around, trying to escape the stench of my fear and anger, and I finally ended up in therapy. It took me years to get to the point where I could make peace with myself, and a few more to make peace with my family, but here I sit, with my own family, and I look back on those years as building blocks for where I am now. Yes, it was painful, but it got me here, and I am a strong, confident woman. I could not have done it without those experiences.
In this way I am thankful for my father. We have reached an understanding and I do not harbor any ill will towards him. He did his best, and he is my father. Even though our relationship is extremely tenuous, and we were never able to regain that closeness we had when I was young, I still love him. In my phone call to him, I will remind him of all the happy memories, and I will thank him for being the best father he knew how to be. It does not serve me to hold on to any bitterness or resentment. I have reached a place of peace within myself which has nothing to do with anyone else, and no one can take it from me. I am reminded of a song I learned long ago, "It is well with my soul." Yes, indeed, it is.

Fear vs. Flying

I have recently lost some friends who I used to call "close." I trusted these friendships to weather any storm and any disagreement. Imagine my shock and dismay when, the moment I disagreed with the advice I was being given, these so called friends instantly cut me off and are no longer speaking to me. It makes me scared and mistrustful and this is not a comfortable place for me. I have long since refused to live in fear and I will not start now! I have to believe that standing up for myself is always a good thing, otherwise I am allowing abusive people in my life. This falls into the category of "living in fear."

When you allow fear to make your decisions for you, it tends to produce results which will keep you in the same place for many years. For instance, if I allow my fear of being alone to dictate how I express my feelings, I will always have friends who are not "real." This is not any more clear to me than it is right now. I'm scared of not having any friends, but you know what is scarier? Having friends who don't respect me or my opinions, and refuse to accept my individuality. It also allows negative energy into my space and keeps me from truly stretching my wings and flying as high as I can imagine. I have realized that these negative, toxic people, who will forever remain in their fear, have kept me with them because I have not challenged that in them. I want more for myself than drudgery and failure. I want to be truly happy and prosperous, and have people in my life who respect me and encourage me in a positive, supportive way. If that is not you, I wish you the best, I truly do, but I can not stay here anymore. It is sucking the life out of me. And that I can not allow anymore. Please do not take it personally, as I do not take it personally when you push me away for "being weird," or "being bitchy," or whatever it is you need to tell yourself to make it easier to continue your existence. I'm DONE with it.
Authors note, October 2012:  This is more of a "rant" than a "blog," and I debated whether or not to keep it up, but I do think it shows my growth and it was written during a particularly painful period of my life, so I hope it resonates with you in a positive way:)

Intentions and living in the moment

Last week, I went on a date with a man, very nice, but not for me. As I walked to my car, I thought of my good friend Maria. She would like him! However, he seemed interested in me, and I decided to wait and see what happened. I have not heard from him since, so today, when I ran into Maria, I told her about him. I texted him her number, and voila! They are going out. Everyone wins! Last year, I witnessed two very young children walking home alone. I was concerned, so I followed them home. They let themselves in to an empty house, and I called the school. I was concerned for the safety of the children, and didn't know the parents well enough to call them. The mother was furious with me, and apparently I am a "troublemaker", as she told the child's teacher. The principal pulled me aside and asked me to please call the police the next time I was concerned, as the school could do very little in this case. I let it go, and gave it up to the universe. If I saw anything about the kids that concerned me again, I would call. Today, as I drove my 16 year old home from school, we saw the younger of the two children walking home by himself. My son expressed great concern, and I wrestled with the decision. Finally, after my son told me if I did not call, he would, I called. The future holds the outcome, and I pray that the boy is all right.

In both these situations, intention plays a large part. I did not intend to pursue this man, so instead of holding on to my ego and preventing my friend her happiness, I can release it. My intention is to create peace and happiness for myself, and others, when they are receptive. In the case of the neglected child, my intention is to protect him from unseen dangers. I do not intend to create "trouble" for the parents, but their choices create it for themselves and their child. Living in the moment also helps me to make the right decision in this case. If I worry about the future, I would probably not be able to make a pure decision in either case. Will I meet someone else who I like better? I don't know, but I either will or I won't. That is not important right NOW. Will the parents be angry with me for calling the police in my concern? Perhaps, but the child will be safe, and my intentions are pure, so that is my truth, in this moment.

If you spend your time clinging to the past, or worrying about the future, you are missing the most important gift you possess: this moment. Your truth will blur, and you will become confused by the jumble of information. The purest truth you own IS RIGHT NOW. Be here for it. Namaste.

The Cougar Has Landed .....

Today I'm not feeling so inspired. I had a 3 hour meditation class yesterday, and I watched "The Secret" again last night. I'm feeling positive about my ability to create things for myself, yet I'm doubting it at the same time. How is this even possible? I had a conversation with some of the neighbors last night, and there was a boy cleaning some windows at a house on the street. He was shirtless and hot, in a way that would make me almost wreck my car. The men outside noticed and asked me how old i thought he was. I thought for a minute and said, "Well, if I think he's hot, he's probably 23". They laughed and went on. But I feel this is a problem for me. For a long time, it was funny that dated only younger guys, BOYS, really, since it was popular to be a "cougar", and it was all in fun. I wasn't really looking for a long term relationship, after coming out of a difficult marriage. I had fun, they had fun, good deal, right? Lately, and especially after my last relationship, where he was 28, and not really sure what he wanted or where he was going, I have been asking myself if maybe it's time to make that shift. I need to date men my own age, but there is one basic problem: I'm not attracted to anyone over the age of 30. In the 5 years since my divorce, this has not happened. Dating a 28 year old seemed like a stretch for me, until someone pointed out to me that he LOOKS 21. WOW! I didn't even notice, but when it was pointed out to me, there it was. So, for now, I've decided to be single. And that's fine, but in the back of my mind, I wonder if I will be able to make that shift. Can we help who we are attracted to? Can we really shift that? Or is it just innate? I'm not sure, but of this I'm certain: I can NOT continue to date BOYS. So it goes.

Obligatory Relationships

Most of us have at least a few relationships where we are "obliged" to have certain people in our lives. This includes family, work associates, and neighbors. You can pick your friends, right? Or not? I've noticed an alarming trend in society, and I wonder if it's just me or are we moving towards "obligatory friendships" and even "obligatory romance"?When we meet someone for the first time, and you "hit it off", you automatically want to spend more time getting to know this person. You call them or they call you and you arrange another meeting. This continues until the relationship moves to the next level, we will call it "expectations". This means that if I call you I expect that you will call me back, and if we make plans, I expect you to show up, basically. Next, we move into the "assumptions" stage, which means I assume you want to do whatever I'm doing, and you assume the same. This is the final and most definitive stage, where we trust each other and it's a give and take thing. Now, what happens if you skip all these stages and go to the last one immediately? Hmmmmm.....That's a tough one......Think that will work out?

Second scenario: You meet someone and think you hit it off. You call them and they don't return your calls right away. You call them again and finally they answer. You chase them all over town to get together and they seem to accept your presence. You start to expect to hang out with them, but see the problem? They rarely, if ever, call you, and you are the only one putting effort into the interaction. You move into the assumption level and you are there all alone. One day you get "mad" because they don't show up, or they don't call you back. See what happened there? You had all the information that they were not interested in a friendship but you still pursued it. And you can't get mad at someone else for that.

We can CHOOSE our friends, and we have evolved into making relationship choices based on fear? Not me. I'm sorry if you take it personally, but I really think we shouldn't have to "play" with everyone. That's not reality and that's not how I choose to share myself. I'm looking for people who feel the same:). peace to you all! xoxo