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"Peeling​ Back the Layers"
Insight Blog


It's All in the Setup...

My attention, now more often than ever, is caught by the moments when people describe the ongoing stress and overwhelm in their lives, often following really similar patterns to past stories I have heard. They say they long for more simplicity, more time for themselves, quality time with family and friends, relaxation. As I listen, I can hear that they are not making the connection between the formula they have repeated and their experiences being filled with stress. I’m sure we have all been in conversations with people who can lead with things like, “I’m so busy I barely have time to take a shower,” or “I’m up against this deadline that’s just killing me,” or “I’m sorry I haven’t called for so long, I just never seem to have time to socialize,” or “My upper body is so tight because I’m at my computer all day long just trying to get this project done.” There are even moments like, “I’m too busy to be in a relationship,” or “I don’t have time to cook because I’m always working,” or “I wish I had more time with the kids but I’m so busy trying to finish up these house projects.” I know a couple who would continuously complain about how much work their big beautiful home was with all the remodels and upkeep, and how they wanted to simplify, only to purchase another very large home in another city and start remodeling! Might seem like a blatant example of choosing stress and insanity, but it’s a true story and illustrates how much we can subjugate our deeper desires to repeated stress-filled choices. It’s an addiction that our society is facing, keeping up with the Joneses, Fear of Missing Out, and yet we all carry deep within us that deep desire for more time, more space, more connection.

Sometimes it feels like we have worked ourselves into an addiction to being busy. I have put attention on this subject in my own life for decades now, and I’ve learned some valuable lessons as I continue to simplify and create a flow in my own life. Here are a few:

1) The Setup: Life tends to follow energy, and we can intentionally enter into a new circumstance or project with clear intentions that promote the vibrational quality we want to experience. These intentions have a feeling tone, and that is to me the most important first step —

a) Do I want to enter into something with ease, with Joy, with organic relaxed flow, with clear communication all around? I write it down.

b) What do I believe taking this project on will provide? I write it down.

c) How much time feels right to spend on it so that I am sustaining other things that are also very important? I include it.

d) How do I want to feel as I’m progressing through it? I write that down.

e) What are realistic steps I can commit to that line up with balance rather than overwhelm? Am I willing to take a stand for that even if someone asks me to take on more than I feel is right, and how will I handle that? I write it down.

These are just a few examples of what become a blueprint of affirmative mapping that energetically infuses the scenario with my ideals rather than being at the whim of agendas that I don’t feel best serve me or those I care about. The first music production I worked on got set up with a Quality of Joy, as well as every step being thought out and intentional. I can honestly say that I felt intense Joy throughout the project, and though it was a lot of work it was not stressful. And the next project which I completed with a music partner also felt extremely joyful. It was all in the setup.

2) Communication: This is a big one. I think one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is clear communication all along the way. The thing is, we can’t foresee every obstacle that might get in the way of how we want to experience something, but the Setup helps us be as clear as we can be going into it and communicating that, so when challenges do arise, we can harken back to our original setup and get re-aligned within ourselves and with others in collaboration. We can communicate where we stand and ask them to support that in respectful and clear ways. Not everyone is capable of this level of clear communication, but we can do our best in our own setup and keep refining our own communication, which involves taking some risks, and this will serve us in the long run. I remember when I was going into my second and final year of a master’s program, the professors made a point of communicating about how to setup our lives to create the most balance we could with the workload that would be required of us. I took that to heart, and took responsibility, and consequently I had an extremely satisfying experience even though the workload was intense. Had I not mindfully created space to accommodate the demands of school I would have been really overwhelmed. Communication works with The Setup in that when we see ourselves veering off, we can refer back to our setup and course-correct before we go too far off the rails. This step is also important as we collaborate with others, because there will be moments when we need to either be accountable or hold others accountable to original intentions, and we need to stay clear with each other during these moments.

3) Realistic Deadlines: We live in a society that so often imposes unrealistic deadlines when it comes to life balance and living joyfully. The most common response I hear that causes stress for people have to do with creating or accepting deadlines that force them to pull all-nighters, or work crazy hours just to complete. I think the whole deadline conversation needs some soulful inquiry, because it is literally killing people, or it's driving families and marriages apart, creating stress diseases and mental illness. What’s the big hurry? Again, this harkens back to the Setup because if we setup an unrealistic deadline that is bound to create stress and overwhelm, we will likely experience just that.

4) Reflection: Building in reflection time to assess our experience along the way, with course-correction to stay aligned with our true intentions, and again upon completion, is a crucial part of growing our happiness quotient and not repeating patterns over and over throughout our life. Reflection involves being honest and clear about how things are being experienced, and what we both want and don’t want to repeat. We can then make new commitments about how we want to do it next time, and honor that to the best of our ability.

These are a few key steps to create a blueprint for a successful and rewarding life filled with satisfying rather than stressful experiences. But these require some risk-taking, because we live in a society that is operating at high velocity and high stress, often disregarding one’s physical and mental well-being in order to achieve, and we might have to push back a little to make changes that help us in the long run. I know everyone reading this knows what I’m talking about. Mainstream society and marketing promotes being richer, busier, more tech-savvy, and younger-looking in the name of creating more happiness. But if you notice, many people are not more happy. In my own experience, the greatest consistent happiness I experience is through the simplicity of life, and creating unique things from there in a spacious kind of way. I don’t expect everyone to follow this way of life, but each person can find their way back to a daily living that is, for them, joyful, balanced, fun, rejuvenating, full of love and laughter and meaningful relationships. Cultivate an intentional life that matches your deeper values. It takes risk to say “No” to what we know might bring us material gain at the peril of our own well-being. But saying “Yes” to how we really want to feel helps us set up our path forward, and is actually great for humanity. The rewards are everything.

Happy Summer to All! Melanie

If you would like support cultivating these steps to a more satisfying and joyful life, please book a complimentary inquiry call at or email me at

On another note, I want to share with you all that I absolutely LOVE listening to Audible! I listen in my car to quality books that I choose, all types of genres, and especially love when the author reads their own memoirs. Such a treat! Click below to get your first or next audiobook!

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