May Day! May Day!


I have 2 spots left for my upcoming Whidbey Island Rising Strong Retreat—and one of them has your name on it!

Just because it’s spring and my favorite season, and just because I have 2 spots left for my retreat…

I’m gong to extend the early bird special through the end of the week!

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6 Steps to Self-Love this Valentine’s

Valentine’s Day is upon us and for many people this holiday, so filled with loving intentions, can actually fill many of us with a sense of dread. It might be the fact that you don’t have a sweetheart at the moment, or that you have longings or expectations that are never quite met. Or maybe you just want love to be expressed all year long and a “one day” holiday seems superficial and silly.

If you’re in a “holiday funk” this Valentine’s Day I invite you to shake things up a bit and create a Do It Yourself Love Fest. You know the old adage “you can’t feel loved by anyone else until you love yourself first”– the problem is- no one tells us exactly how to do that.

Self-Love is not a feeling so much as a set of actions that support our own physical, emotional and spiritual growth.

Let’s Explore the actions that can lead us to more Self Love.

In order to “be your own cupid” you’ve got to start by setting aside some time just for you.

I know that’s hard when you are used to “being there” for every single person in your tribe.

But if you don’t start by prioritizing your own needs, no one else will either.

I work with so many women who have low self-esteem which starts by not feeling worthy of love and respect, and ends with making choices that are not in their best interests which reinforces the experience.

According to Dr. Brené Brown who studies worthiness and living whole-heartedly, cultivating practices of worthiness begin by:

1. Learning to ask for what you need– the expectation that if people loved us they would know what we need is a completely false expectation. It’s your job to identify those needs and be specific in how you ask for them. People who have more self-love know what they think, feel and want, and they make choices based on that knowledge.

2. Setting Boundaries– that is deciding what’s OK with you and what’s not Ok- communicating that in a respectful way is the key to healthy boundaries.

3. Developing everyday rituals that calm and soothe– taking time everyday just for you- that could be a daily meditation practice, a gratitude journal or a nightly prayer.

4. Taking Care of your physical body– it is your temple and your gift and caring for it is your job. Get enough sleep, do something outside every day, feed yourself nourishing food, don’t over-work.

5. Offering Yourself Compassion and Forgiveness- accepting that we are all human, and imperfect. We all make mistakes and we are not alone. Remember there are no failures, when we take responsibility and learn from our stumbles and disappointment’s, they become the seeds for future growth

6. Living Mindfully: When we are aware of our core values and make choices aligned with those values, our lives have more meaning and purpose. When our lived experience matches our intentions, we feel a sense of self-worth and authenticity.

It turns out feeling loved doesn’t always come from an outside source. We have the power to create that all on our own. What will you commit to this Valentine’s Day to begin the PRACTICES OF SELF LOVE that can translate into a year full of loving self-kindness?

I’d love to hear from you- you can share your ideas- here on our Living Brave Facebook page »

After a 20 year phobia of flying… I flew to Paris!

Do you know what it feels like to struggle with something really hard for what seems like an eternity?

Have you given up on something because the battle seemed like… “If it is this hard, something must be wrong about it.”

I’ve been there.

I know what that feels like. I’ve had a 20 year long struggle with a flying phobia, and there were many times I wanted to give up on that struggle…..

But I’m so glad I didn’t because this year I conquered it.

I let it go.

I flew to Paris – that’s Paris, France. An 8 hour flight, and it was MAGIC. No anxiety. No panic attacks. No shaking in my boots.

And a two week adventure that was a dream come true.

Did it happen in an instant with a magical cure?

Did Someone wave a wand, pray for me, give me a mantra, a blood test, a new diet, a tapping technique, read my chart and my chakras and take my trauma history, hypnotize me and instantly it was gone?

Nope. (though each of those things helped a little)

Did it take a lot of work and digging deep and healing some trauma, and using a number of skills and getting clear about my story, and developing a tribe of loving people around me, and a faith in a higher power?


Would I give up all I learned on the way to that magical adventure?


Would I like to have given up all the negative self-talk and shame and blame and the ways I tried to numb that anxiety and all the comparison and angst and everything I missed along the way?


But what a thrill to finally arrive at that place of knowing that deep down inside I am enough.

I can ask for what I need and people will be there for me. I can soothe myself when I need to, and I am just where I need to be.

Every step along the way taught me something about myself and my capabilities:

  • About how to stand in my vulnerabilities and learn from them.
  • About how to trust my inner mentor and speak my truth.
  • About how to live authentically from what my core values and beliefs are.

And I wouldn’t trade those lessons for a trip anywhere in the world.

I’d love to share some of what I learned with you…….that’s my gift:

That I get to share my story and my life lessons with others.

All that pain is turned into gold when that happens for me.

I hope you’ll join me for this amazing weekend where we get to stand in our own story and learn from it.

Where we can dig deep and mine the golden nuggets there in the mud. Where we can learn some tools and techniques to help along the journey and where we can write some new exciting endings.

It’s happening soon – Sept 21st-23rd at Willow Pond Lodge on beautiful Whidbey Island.

Click here for the details »

I hope to see you there

A Weekend of Daring Greatly

I’m basking in the glow of my weekend with a tribe of awesome women who Dared Greatly.

A tribe that dove deep with one another, sharing their visions for their future and dancing with their fears and the inner critics that hold them back.

I am always so honored and in awe of the courage it takes and the willingness these brave women have as they tapped into their inner mentors and discovered some of their hidden callings. They supported each other in the quest to Dare Greatly and Live Brave. It is an honor and privilege to do this work.

(But don’t worry if you missed out, I have my island retreat this April 6-8th! Get all the details and sign up here »)

Here’s what some of them shared…..

“Cynthia created a warm and safe environment to face challenging ideas that prompted some very personal change. Her compassionate response to each persons sharing and questions gave me courage to explore some really tender and important areas of my llife. So grateful for these 2 days!”

“You helped me crystalize my learning into an action plan that i am excited about. There are not many places that you can show up and be vulnerable and authentic- you made it safe to unfold my truth”

“A deep bow of gratitude for the gift of transformation, your abiity to meet people where they are and guide them compassionately to an “Ah-ha” is beautiful…”

“Brené Brown’s work came alive- with time to reflect, write and apply each layer of learning to my life experience was awesome”

I couldn’t be more pleased or more proud of these brave souls.

Here’s to Living Brave and supporting each other in the work!

Check out the Rising Strong island retreat in April on Whidbey Island.

It will be a powerful weekend of discovering our capacity to rise strong and go after our dreams on this island paradise. Get all the details here »

They Say Curiosity Killed the Cat-


Forget that old adage- Curiosity is actually key to developing a healthier and happier life all the way around!

A recent Gallup poll surveyed more than 130,000 people from over 100 nations,
a sampling which statistically represents 96% of the world’s population!
(Now that’s some major coverage) The survey was done in the pursuit of happiness- or at least in the pursuit of some solid data on what makes a happy person happy. Armed with all that data, sociologists set out to identify the two factors that have the strongest influence on a person’s happiness.

Here’s what they found-

The two most important factors that contribute to a person’s happiness
on any given day are-

  • Being able to count on someone for help
  • Learning something new

What these findings clearly suggest is that no matter where you live in the world, what job you do, or your economic status- happiness in life requires the ability to establish healthy relationships and a determination to grow as a person.

As it turns out, a healthy dose of curiosity is a factor supporting both endeavors.
Take a look at what Todd Kashdan, author of Curious- Discover the Missing Key to a Happy Life, has to say on the topic.

“One of the most reliable and overlooked keys to happiness is cultivating and exercising our innate sense of curiosity. That’s because curiosity- a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something- creates an openness to unfamiliar experience, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience new discoveries, joy and delight”

Kashdan goes on to describe the abilities enhanced by a robustly curious outlook- Curiosity, he explains, allows us to:

  • Remain open to new experiences
  • Build strong and resilient relationships
  • Effectively manage uncertainty
  • Adapt to the demands required of different situations
    (what he calls “psychological flexibility”)
  • Discover our strengths, our deepest values and what it is we’re passionate about
  • Strengthen connections to these values and commit to a life aligned with them

If a daily dose of discovery is the key to creating and enriching a meaningful lifestyle and enhancing our relationships-

How do we cultivate this important quality?

We all have an innate curiosity that’s with us from birth- but experience and exposure as well as certain personality traits can dull that drive for discovery.
Think back to when you were a child- did the world seem like a magic place, full of adventures and surprises- Or were you one of those children that imagined danger around every corner and shied away from new experiences and people? A secure base or primary attachment, is one of the keys to allowing our natural curiosity to come forward in new situations. It also allows us to imagine the best in ourselves and of others. This can be intrinsic. Sometimes it is “learned” from our adults and caretakers, the teachers and mentors we come into contact with early in life.

The more positive experiences we have, the more confidence we build and in turn, the more our natural curiosity has a chance to blossom and grow.
Think about when your curiosity is most apparent and noticeable.
When are you the most engaged in learning  about a new topic, new places or new people? When are you the most engaged in learning something new about yourself?
It’s usually when you have the time and security to explore.

I can say from experience, that curiosity is the first skill I attempt to model and develop with my clients. The ability to look with a curious and open mind at the situations and at people we encounter, allows us to broaden our viewpoint and have a better experience with the world around us. Suspending judgment long enough to “take in another’s perspective” is an integral part of developing healthy communication in any relationship.
Responding with compassion and understanding is an ingredient I often find to be lacking in most conflicted relationships.

Opportunities to develop our “curiosity muscle” exist everywhere!

Here are some ways to begin expanding your own capacity for curiosity:

  • In looking at your relationships- look with “fresh eyes”
    Ask yourself- What attributes and strengths would you see in your partner, your children or your co-workers if you were encountering them for the first time?
  • In your communications- ask more questions!
    Why not strive to remain open to what others are saying. Listen with an intent to understand instead of judging or reacting.
  • Imagine that your partner/co-worker/boss/teenager has your best interests at heart..
    One of the things I ask couples to do in this exercise:
    Imagine that your partner loves you deeply and only wants the best for your relationship- Now ask yourself-
    How does that change my interpretation of their behavior?
    How does that change the communication right now?

According to Dr. Brené Brown in her newest book Rising Strong, one of the keys to growth and learning, to process life’s difficulties is- The ability to stay open and curious. Even when we are faced with challenges, difficulties and disappointments. It’s the ability to stay face down in the dirt for long enough to mine the golden nuggets out of the muck.

“The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, be curious with our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.”

It appears the latest research has proven the age-old adage lacking- Curiosity may have killed that cat, but it happens to be a key ingredient for a vibrant and wholehearted life!
With a little bit of curiosity, we can more deeply learn from those around us, from our environments and even from the places where we stumble and fall.

Curiosity allows us to turn towards others with an open mind. And if we employ that curiosity while we look inside ourselves for our truths- who knows what new awareness lies in wait.


Meet Cynthia Benge

A therapist for over 20 years, I guide people from their own “stuck” places to a life full of adventure, meaning and satisfying relationships.

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