Dear Fitness Professional, STOP!

Dear Fitness Professional, STOP with the booze and exercise!

There is a movement, a trend, a normalization that I am seeing. I am seeing it in my social media feeds and within the fitness industry for which I participate and work in. It’s dangerous, irresponsible and just wrong.

Health and wellness is a billion dollar industry. People spend THOUSANDS of dollars a year attending classes and buying memberships to studios and gyms. Teachers and coaches spend equal amounts on certifications and workshops. The CDC has expressed how important food and movement are for overall good health and Wellness Advocates shout from their soapboxes how farm medicine is far better than pharmaceuticals.

And then… there is this trend. Somebody decided it would be a good idea to pair booze with fitness & wellness events; “Vino & Vinyasa”, “WineDown Yoga”, “Vinoyasa”, Pilates & Peartini’s, “Women, Wine & Wellness”, HIIT classes at the local brewery… I could go on and on.

As a consumer, I am actually insulted. As a fitness professional, I am disappointed and concerned.

Here are just a FEW reasons:

1. Whether you like it or not and whether you are qualified or not, your clients are looking to you (the fitness professional) for expert advice and guidance. You are in to turmeric? So are they. You are pushing heavy weight/low reps, so are they. You are serving booze after class? Well, if you are doing it (read: advocating it), they are in, too. They want to be part of the tribe, part of your circle, and cultivate friendships.

2. Booze and your clients. Whaaaaat? Do you hang out with your clients at the bar? Really? {can you say code of conduct and boundaries?}

3. You are excluding part of your clientele. Perhaps you haven’t thought that some of your clients don’t actually drink. Their not wanting to drink might be as innocuous as they are trying to lose that last 5 pounds for an upcoming wedding OR as devastating as their son was killed by a drunk driver. Either way, you are excluding them. Those clients have bought in to your brand. They want to be a part of something. They want connection.

4. Let me address the statement you were just shouting at the computer: No. Your non-drinking clients don’t want to come to the event that you are serving booze. Remember that connection thing? It doesn’t happen when people are boozing it.

5. The story that is continually perpetuated and needs to stop is “events are MORE FUN with booze.” Booze alters your brain chemistry. It’s toxic. No really, it is. You are putting something in to your body that makes you lose balance (see the irony?), slur your speech, increases your emotional response and impulsivity and decreases inhibition… AT. YOUR. FITNESS. EVENT.

6. Wellness and Booze… Do I REALLY need to say more? Ok. A few facts:

a. When you workout, you more than likely will need to replenish fluids. WITH WATER. Booze will dehydrate you. This is not a myth. It’s science.

b. People go to the gym or studio to be fit, strong and stable. Alcohol causes stretching and drooping of the heart muscle. (cardiomyopathy) It also causes poor reflexes and impaired motor function among other things.

c. People go to the gym to lose weight. Alcohol causes inflammation in the tissue and organs. Enough said.

d. You know those cues you give in class? The safety ones. You know, the one about “if you have high blood pressure, please keep your head in line or above your heart at all times”. Yeah, that one. Alcohol can cause high blood pressure. Are you warning your guests as you serve them at your pilates + organic pomegranate martini party?

e. You talk about supplements, essential oils and organic foods and then you are hosting an event, serving a substance than compromises the immune system up to 24 hours after consumption!

7. Liability. Have you even thought about this?

So, how about this? Invite a local farmer to bring their yummiest in- season fruit, support the local juice bar, have a nutritionist come to discuss the effects of sugar or how changing just one meal a day could assist your clients in reaching their goal OR just teach class and be present for your students. THIS is what you should be doing as wellness advocates and fitness professionals.

Stay in YOUR lane, Fitness Professional. The bars already have this one. You do fitness, they do booze.

This article was originally posted on Medium.com and ThriveGlobal.com

One. Two. Three.

We have three dogs; they have all been rescued from one situation or another. They have had different life experiences up until arriving at our home. They are different ages, different breeds and distinctly different personalities.

There came a point that we recognized that the dogs were taking over. They were up on the couches when not asked, barked incessantly when the UPS driver arrived and crowded the door when it was dinner time. If the front door opened, you best be sure you have your runners on because there was bound to be foot race. We stopped having people to the house because of the gong show that ensued when we had guests. We had enough.

We called a trainer. We found out, quickly, that he was there to train us more than the dogs. Eric (the trainer) has a vast amount of knowledge and experience. He was assigned to Marine One when he was in the military. He was tasked to train the dogs that protected POTUS while in his Unit’s charge. I noticed that he repeated things as he spoke to me and to the dogs. He repeated them three times.

Over the course of a month, he worked with the dogs (and us) in our home and around our neighborhood. Scout (our white boxer) is deathly afraid of other dogs and anything that moves quickly. His unfortunate coping mechanism to the fear is to attack; not good. Not good for him, not good for our neighbors, not good for us.

On our third session, I was walking Scout with Eric and we decided to walk past a house that has a dog that likes to run to the fence and bark. This ALWAYS sets Scout off. Eric and I had a chat as to what was expected of the dog and from me. The first pass, Scout looked at me and was visibly agitated & growling but didn’t freak out. I was feeling SUPER proud and headed back to the house. Eric, however, isn’t ready and calls me back. “Three times to change a habit, Jen. Go again.” I am apprehensive. I mean, he did it ONCE. I really don’t want to push things. Right? I mean, he has it now. Right? Ugh. I go again. Scout looks at me, gets a bit wiggly but keeps moving. I head back to the house. Eric, again, shouting “Jen! 3 times makes a habit. Do it again.” I do it again. Success! Eric is pleased and we head back to the house for a debrief.

Eric reminds me that we have had Scout 2 years and that he has taken countless walks with disastrous results. THIS three times is creating a habit TODAY but I will have to do this process many more times until Scout changes his patterns with this particular dog. And the same process will have to be followed when we see a different dog or a human walking in the neighborhood. I am overwhelmed at the thought. I really wanted this to be all better, right now. I mean, I did it three times!

Recovery from substance abuse is relatively the same process. Just because you decided to quit doesn’t mean everything becomes rainbows and unicorns. If we have been using substance as a coping mechanism for any length of time, it has become a habit. We feel uncomfortable, we use. Scout sees the dog behind the fence, he loses his mind. Until he doesn’t. Until we don’t.

Scout needed me to re-assure him that he is not going to get eaten by the dog and that I don’t need protecting. As I walk with him, I tell him “Good easy. Good easy. Good leave it. Goooooooood leave it.” We also need that re-assurance; from friends that have gone through the process before us, from a therapist, from someone safe. We need to be told that we don’t have to respond “that way” any longer, that there is another way that isn’t so physically and mentally exhausting and debilitating. We have to practice it. We might get scared or anxious but we don’t use substance to cope.

One. Two. Three. and then again for many more One, Two, Three’s.

We give Scout a lot of love. We give him treats when we get back to the house. We verbally praise him and tell him what a good boy he is. We set boundaries for him. These keep him safe and less anxious. We give him good food and a comfortable place to sleep. We buy him toys on occasion. See a parallel to what we need as human beings to change and thrive? Change is HARD. Patterns are HARD to change. Habits are HARD to change. That doesn’t mean that it cannot be done. It can! But we have to keep walking past the house with the barking dog. We need to acknowledge we are anxious and uncomfortable and look to our safe person for reassurance.

And then we do it again; One. Two. Three.

 

*This article was originally published on Medium.

Blaming, Shaming and Condoning… OH MY!

For nearly 25 years, I played golf competitively. I loved (and still do) all aspects of the game. The discipline, the smell of the grass, the camaraderie, the competition, the friendships, the beauty of each course.

Watching golf was a family affair. The US Open, The Masters and The Open Championship were tournaments that we watched ALL the coverage… and then the analysis of the coverage.

I had my favorite players over the years; Fred Couples, John Cook, Sergio Garcia, Bob Tway, Seve and Ben. I pulled for the “old guards” and the up and coming rookies.

I watched amateur golf, too. I watched, in complete amazement, the domination of Tiger Woods. My Dad would say “you may not see another player win like Tiger wins in your lifetime. He is really special.” I agreed.

Tiger brought an excitement and fevered pitch to a game that can be slow…and perceived as boring and for the wealthy. He made it an accessible and tangible sport for many. He developed foundations and made golf exciting with each and every tournament he entered.

I remember the TIGER WOODS fallout and drama in 2009. I was newly sober and uncovering and discovering things about me; my behavior, my desires, my fears, my relationship to alcohol and drugs. I remember feeling pained for him. I hoped that he would find something that would restore him, give him peace, find solution for himself. Over the last 8 years, I have found solution and peace and recovery. Apparently, that has not been the case for Tiger.

This morning, I was flipping through my social media news feeds and saw that Tiger was arrested for DUI. What prompted this writing were the responses to some of those posts:

“How does someone THAT rich NOT have a driver?”

“He should be thrown in jail!”

“Atta boy, Tiger! Booze, women, DUI… I can feel a Major Championship right around the corner!”

“We have all done it, don’t be so hard on him.”

“It says DUI, he could have been just taking his prescription drugs for backpain.”

These types of comments went on FOREVER. The level of ignorance and normalization that our country has embraced regarding addiction and substance abuse is astounding. And I suppose, that unless it affects you directly, you may not take the time to learn anything. I totally get it. I used to say/think those types of things regarding professional athletes/celebrities and their DUI’s.

Here are 9 things you may want to read and consider:

1. Alcohol and your brain: http://hams.cc/dopamine.pdf

2. 70% of people who have mental illness (depression, for instance) and abuse substance have experienced some level of trauma. Trauma is a type of damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience.

3. Alcohol is an addictive substance.

4. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is NOT a moral / lack of self-will issue.

5. One modality of treatment does NOT fit all people.

6. Blaming, shaming OR condoning the destructive behavior is NOT going to help. https://youtu.be/qjyvRQFbseQ?t=13m07s

7. People do NOT have to hit “rock bottom” to change their relationship with alcohol and drugs. (When it comes to the idea of rock bottom, no other chronic *disease* (see point #8) is handled this way. A person with diabetes does not need to experience a foot amputation to understand the gravity of their disease.)

8. Addiction and your brain: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/how-addiction-hijacks-the-brain

9. You CAN recover. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ending-addiction-good/201302/neuroplasticity-and-addiction-recovery and http://www.iamnotanonymous.org.

Educate yourself. Be kind to others rather than sit in judgement. Tiger’s DUI is a teachable moment. Talk to your kids, your students, the team that you coach. Ask questions. LISTEN to the answers. Provide space for an open conversation WITHOUT fear of consequence. Addiction does not care about your race, gender, education or social class. We are all at risk if we don’t educate ourselves, so let’s stop the blaming, shaming and condoning and get to work on listening, supporting and finding solution.

This article was originally posted on Medium: https://medium.com/@jenyockey/blaming-shaming-and-condoning-oh-my-5fa46ccad55

How to Start Again… Again.

I just finished reading Elizabeth Vargas’s memoir, Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction. It was truly heart wrenching. She had to start again many times. Reading about it was excruciating. I am sure that living it was far worse. Her starting again and again seemed so brave to me… and I was reflecting how little grace I give myself when in a position of starting again.

You might be in a place of having to start again: a job, a relationship, a project, interactions with your children, food, booze, shopping, your in-laws, exercise. If you think about it, each day is an opportunity to start again. To do better, to give our best effort, to show up, to mess up and start again.

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

So, how do you do it? How do you not give up, give in, throw in the towel, and quit? Perhaps one of these seven ways will help:

1. Just Start

Seems simple enough, right? It is. So what that you ate the pint of ice cream last night (in the middle of your 30-day cleanse). Start again. Make the meal that is going to give you the feeling that you wanted to have when you started the cleanse.

2. Look Forward, Not Back

No need to look back, as you aren’t going that way anyway. Being present is important but face forward while doing it. Take the next step forward, regardless of how small it is.

3. Discover How You Want to Feel

It’s important. Setting goals without feelings is a sure sign you are just making a list, another thing to do. When you know how you want to feel when chasing the goal then it is easier to make decisions and be clear as to what is moving toward the end result and what is moving you away.

4. Make Decisions Based on How You Want to Feel

I want to feel free and at ease. Does spending the $400 on clothes make me feel that way? Do I feel free and at ease spending that money or does it not? Let’s say I spend the money and feel awful the next day. Return the clothes. Start again.

5. Own It

There are challenges when we are trying to achieve things, reach goals, be better, feel better. You will find that it is easier to start again if you own the truth. Yep, I drank too much. Yep, I shouldn’t have said that. Yep, I missed that deadline.

Own it.

6. Surround Yourself with a Tribe That Supports Your Goals

If you want to read a book a month because that feels good to you, join a book club. If you want to lose 10 pounds because you want to stop taking that particular medicine, find an accountability partner or group. If you want to cook more healthily for your family because that feels like being of service, put together a Sunday food prep group or include your family in the process. Find. Your. Tribe.

7. Kick the Shame to the Curb

It serves ZERO purpose. And there is no shame in starting again. See thoughts one through six for ideas.

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.” – Unknown

You can start again at any time. It doesn’t have to be a Monday or January. It can be 2:14 p.m. on a Thursday. Remember, there may be many opportunities to start agains. For me, I would rather start again than quit.

If you have a chance, read Elizabeth Vargas’s book. You don’t have to be an addict or recovering alcoholic to get something from it. Don’t give up before the miracle happens. Change course, try again, dust yourself off, keep moving forward.

You got this.

7 Ways to Fill Your Bucket of Happiness

My son is five. He goes to a wonderful Montessori school with amazing teachers and a rich program. I love how they get the children excited about different subjects. Recently, they read a book called Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. We got the book and are reading it at home. In a nutshell, it’s about being kind, being mindful of others, and filling other’s buckets throughout the day and watching yours fill, too. And how to not be a dipper!

We go about our lives doing. At the end of our day, we check off the things we got done: the errands we ran, the meals we cooked, the exercise classes that we took, the kid’s activities, walking the dogs, planning for tomorrow. But where does that leave us? For me, the answer is often unfulfilled. I say “yes” to things that fill others’ buckets but not my own. I spend time with people that are, sometimes, bucket dippers. They take and take and take.

How do I want to feel at the end of the day? How do you want to feel at the end of the day? I want to feel connected and free and inspired. I want my bucket full and I want to fill other’s buckets. What about you?

When I started paying attention to the simple ideas of bucket filling and how I wanted to feel, I came up with these seven questions:

  • Who am I aligning myself with? Who are my friends? Do they fill my bucket? Do I want to fill theirs?
  • What things am I saying “yes” to that are not filling my bucket, but are actually draining it?
  • What things am I putting on the back burner that really would be bucket fillers for my bucket and someone else’s?
  • Whose bucket did I fill today?
  • When I went to bed last night, how full or empty was my bucket?
  • When I make decisions about food, people, and activities, do I feel inspired, connected, and free?
  • Sometimes, life requires me to do *adulting.* How can I feel connected, free, and inspired while doing those things?

Take some time to answer these questions for yourself. I have found that the best way to do this type of inquiry is by also doing yoga. You could take a run or brisk walk, but you are going to need your journal and that might be cumbersome. It is important to get out of your head. Physical movement and focused breathing help this.

Here are seven yoga poses that you can hold for three to five minutes each while you do this inquiry. Pair each question with the shape below. Breathe. Journal in between shapes. Take your time. Perhaps you only get to do three postures today—three questions. That’s OK. It’s not a race—it’s an inquiry.

  • Child’s Pose
  • Caterpillar
  • Reclined Bound Angle
  • Reclined Twist
  • Supported Bridge
  • Heart Opener with bolster or pillow
  • Legs up the wall
  • Savasana

This inquiry isn’t to be done once. It’s ongoing. It’s about being flexible, evolving, growing, and forever being a kindergartner. Now, go fill some buckets and don’t forget yours!

This article was originally published on Yoganonymous.

8 Pieces of Wisdom for Difficult Moments

Finding wisdom in the difficult moments can be challenging—especially when we are staring those moments square in the face.

Sending your child off to kindergarten, being betrayed by a “friend,” and making a painful decision about a pet—they all can hurt. There is no escaping it: My heart is bruised, my trust shaken, but my resolve is strong. Lessons are learned, examples are made, and the world continues to revolve—irritating but true.

The last two months have provided a clear space for me to inspect my core values and moral foundation. I certainly didn’t want this particular inspection but apparently, the universe felt it was necessary. Being sober, taking and teaching yoga classes, and embracing the eight limbs didn’t shield me from these difficult moments, but they have proven to be a solid foundation to surviving them.

“Surrender is the journey from the outer turmoil to the inner peace.” – Sri Chinmoy

Here are eight takeaways that may help you the next time the universe invites you to inspect your own foundation. (Hint: it will at some point, so you may want to save this.)

1. Listen to the voice that doesn’t speak.

If something seems fishy, don’t ignore that sense. This is your intuition, your inner guide. Notice if your inclination is to ignore it. If it is, check your motivation. I can assure you that whatever “payoff” you think you may get is far less than the disappointment and consequence that will eventually result.

2. Speak your truth.

It may not be popular, but do it anyway. You may lose friends but, if so, were they really your friends to begin with? It will be difficult. It will be sad. It will be disappointing. But you will survive and you will gain stronger bonds.

3. Stand your sacred ground.

Don’t be bullied. Yes: even adults bully. And by the time they are adults, they may be really good at it. See them for who they are. They got to be that bully because they never resolved their own pain. That fact may not make the sting of what is being said less hurtful but, rest assured, they are in far worse pain, and one they cannot escape.

4. Focus on “you doing you.”

You have a purpose. Use your energy “doing you” rather than continuing to focus on the hurt. This isn’t possible all the time, and this isn’t about checking out from the pain of the loss or hurt or betrayal. But in order to get healing, the focus needs to shift. Do it slowly and incrementally. It’s not possible to just flip a switch.

5. Be of service.

I love this action: Do something for someone else without them knowing. Call a friend to ask how they are. If the conversation shifts to you, shift it back to them. This is not only healing for them but for you, too. Buy a coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru. Clean out your closet and donate the clothing. Go to Goodwill and buy five dog beds to take to the shelter. Get out of self.

6. Practice yoga.

Be gentle with yourself. Breathe. Do five or 10 of your favorite postures, go to a style of class that you have never experienced. Take a free, online class. Many teachers have online 10 minute de-stress classes. You have 10 minutes.

7. Practice meditation.

Do it in your car. Do it at your cubicle. Do it on a walk. It doesn’t have to be two hours in a monastery. Take two minutes to just be aware that you are breathing: Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

8. Embrace self-care.

Life is busy. Hurt, betrayal, and loss don’t wait until you have nothing else happening. Take moments for yourself. Sometimes just acknowledging that you are going to take 10 minutes for yourself—to grab a seltzer water and pretzels and hide in the back of the closet—is enough.

Life is in session! Pay attention to your inner guide. Make as many mindful decisions as possible. Recognize that you are fallible and that “failures” are great teachers and open doors that you had no idea even existed. View surrender through a different lens: It isn’t giving up. It isn’t giving in. It is the simple recognition that you are no longer going to resist the truth.

This article was originally posted on Yoganonymous.

Not THIS!

A couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a post that stopped me in my tracks.

Here it is in it’s entirety:

“Most of us, at some point in our lives (unless we have done everything perfectly…which is: nobody) will have to face a terrible moment in which we realize that we have somehow ended up in the wrong place — or at least, in a very bad place.
Maybe we will have to admit that we are in the wrong job. Or the wrong relationship. With the wrong people around us. Living in the wrong neighborhood. Acting out on the wrong behaviors. Using the wrong substances. Pretending to believe things that we no longer believe. Pretending to be something we were never meant to be.
This moment of realization is seldom fun. In fact, it’s usually terrifying.
I call this moment of realization: NOT THIS.
Because sometimes that’s all you know, at such a moment.
All you know is: NOT THIS.
Sometimes that’s all you CAN know.
All you know is that some deep life force within you is saying, NOT THIS, and it won’t be silenced.
Your body is saying: NOT THIS.
Your heart is saying: NOT THIS.
Your soul is saying: NOT THIS.
But your brain can’t bring itself to say “NOT THIS”, because that would cause a serious problem. The problem is: You don’t have a Plan B in place. This is the only life you have. This is the only job you have. This is the only spouse you have. This is the only house you have. Your brain says, “It may not be great, but we have to put up with it, because there are no other options.” You’re not sure how you got here — to this place of THIS — but you sure as hell don’t know how to get out…
So your brain says: “WE NEED TO KEEP PUTTING UP WITH THIS, BECAUSE THIS IS ALL WE HAVE.”
But still, beating like a quiet drum, your body and your heart and your soul keep saying: NOT THIS…NOT THIS…NOT THIS.
I think some of the bravest people I have ever met were people who had the courage to say the words, “NOT THIS” outloud — even before they had an alternative plan.
People who walked out of bad situations without knowing if there was a better situation on the horizon.
People who looked at the life they were in, and they said, “I don’t know what my life is supposed to be…but it’s NOT THIS.” And then they just…left.
I think my friend who walked out of a marriage after less than a year, and had to move back in with her mother (back into her childhood bedroom), and face the condemnation of the entire community while she slowly created a new life for herself. Everyone said, “If he’s not good enough for you, who will be?” She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about what her life would look like now. But it started with her saying: NOT THIS.
I think of my friend who took her three young children away from a toxic marriage, despite that fact that her husband supported her and the kids financially…and the four of them (this woman and her three children) all slept in one bed together in a tiny studio apartment for a few years, while she struggled to build a new life. She was poor, she was scared, she was alone. But she had to listen to the voices within her that said, NOT THIS.
I think of friends who walked out of jobs — with no job waiting for them. Because they said NOT THIS.
I think of friends who quit school, rather than keep pretending that they cared about this field of study anymore. And yes, they lost the scholarship. And yes, they ended up working at a fast food restaurant, while everyone else was getting degrees. And yes, it took them a while to figure out where to go next. But there was a relief at last in just surrendering to the holy, non-negotiable truth of NOT THIS.
I think of friends who bravely walked into AA meetings and just fell apart in front of a room full of total strangers, and said, NOT THIS.
I think of a friend who pulled her children out of Sunday School in the middle of church one Sunday because she’d had it with the judgment and self-righteousness of this particular church. Yes, it was her community. Yes, it was her tribe. But she physically couldn’t be in that building anymore without feeling that she would explode. She didn’t know where she was going, spiritually or within her community, but she said, NOT THIS. And walked out.
Rationally, it’s crazy to abandon a perfectly good life (or at least a familiar life) in order to jump into a mystery. No sane person would advise you to make such a leap, with no Plan B in place. We are supposed to be careful. We are supposed to be prudent.
And yet….
And yet.
If you keep ignoring the voices within you that say NOT THIS, just because you don’t know what to do, instead…you may end up stuck in NOT THIS forever.
You don’t need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing right now is wrong.
The bravest thing to say can be these two words.
What comes next?
I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. It might be worse. It might be better. But whatever it is…? It’s NOT THIS.

— Elizabeth Gilbert, 2016

 

For the next TWO DAYS, I walked around my house, the grocery store, looked at my email, my schedule, my closet, my refrigerator…. all the while mumbling NOT THIS.

Not this blouse.

Not this class.

Not that food.

Not that relationship.

Not that story.

NOT THIS!

I am guessing you are going to be doing the same.  THIS is GOOD!  WHY is this good?  Because the LAST thing that you want to have happen is that 10 years goes by and you have built a life around NOT THIS.

As Elizabeth Gilbert says ” You don’t need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing RIGHT NOW is wrong.”

Just consider the following:

1.  What ONE thing that is happening right now that your gut is saying NOT THIS?  It could be something as simple as that Quadruple Mochachocolattayaya you are about to order.

2.  That ONE thing?  Why are you still doing it?

3.  That ONE thing?  How long have you been doing it?  Weeks, months, years?

4.  That ONE thing? What if you didn’t do it?  What if you NEVER did it?  What if you woke up tomorrow and couldn’t even THINK it?  Who would you be and what would you be doing?

5.  That ONE thing? Will you say it out loud today?  Will you write it down?  Will you whisper in the car?

6.  Read THIS by David Whyte: http://www.davidwhyte.com/english_santiago.html

That’s all for now.  Just sit with this.  Just being aware that you are doing a whole lot of NOT THIS is enough.  When you are ready, just stop doing NOT THIS and START making choices that scream DEFINITELY THIS.

LOVE

LOVE.  It’s a big topic.  Once I started digging and researching and reading… it just got BIGGER!

LOVE.  What it is.  What it isn’t. Love across cultures and religions and opinions.  It’s BIG.

But for this post,  we are talking about SELF LOVE.  And what is consistent across cultures, religions and opinions is if you cannot love your self, you are going to have one helluva time loving anyone else… AND getting the love that you need.

“Love brings with it the gift of freedom. Love teaches us to allow the person we love to do as he or she chooses. It teaches us to encourage the people we love freely make their own choices, to seek their own path, to learn their lessons their way in their own time.

Love means each person is free to
follow his or her own heart, seek
his or her own path. If we truly love,
our choices will naturally and freely serve that love well. When we give
freedom to another, we really give freedom to ourselves.

— Melody Beattie

 

John Lennon said something so beautiful and important about Self Love:

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.

— John Lennon

For many of us {read: ME}, it is much easier to look at other people; heap love and adoration and praise on others.  How many of us have actually stood in front of the mirror, LOOKED in to our own eyes and said “I LOVE YOU”?  “I love you, I cherish all of your hard work.  I see your tears and your laughter, your frustrations and your “wins”.  I see you.  I see it all and I love you.”

I can ASSURE you, not many of us have done this.  But I want to do it.  And even writing this is getting me pumped up to run to the bathroom and do it.  {You go do it and then run back and report back what you found out.}

Imagine a place where you can be completely yourself.  Imagine having the freedom to choose what is best for you in this moment and then that decision being met with acceptance.

“Go and love someone exactly how they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.1

— Wes Angelozzi

The quote above, by Wes?  That includes YOU.  Love yourself EXACTLY how you are; with the quirky grin, with the jacked up Thomas the Train hair {another story}, with the wrinkles and the fluffy tummy and the breast milk stained shirt… whatever it is… LOVE IT.

Imagine being totally accepted.  Imagine making a mistake and being told that it’s ok, that you are learning and that you should be patient with yourself.  Imagine having someone look at you in a way that tells you that they BELIEVE. IN. YOU.

The GOOD news?  ALL of these things are available to you right now.  They are because YOU get to say all of them to yourself.  And guess what?  When you say it, when you start to believe it, when you LOVE yourself…  you won’t be bothered with who doesn’t and you will gravitate toward those who do and who have all along.  You will see them so very clearly… and they will gravitate toward you.

Asking For Help & Support {Gasp!}

Why is asking for help such a difficult thing to do?  Is it difficult for you?  It is for me.

This past week I was summoned for jury duty.  My husband was out of town, I had called in 4 times and had been put on “standby” so I thought I was going to be dismissed.  And then I wasn’t.  At 6pm, I found out I had to appear at 7:30am the next day.  I had a yoga class to teach at 8am and Lucas had to be at school by 8:30.  My parents and In-laws don’t live in town and I was pretty sure that I was not going to be able to clone myself.  So, I sat. And I stewed. And I got a bit teary out of frustration. And then I asked for help.  And, OF COURSE, Miguel and Anjelica were MORE than happy to help.  Their son and mine are besties and “wouldn’t this be great to hang out before going to school”.  Disaster averted.

Although I know better, my initial reaction to having to ask for help is “I SHOULD be able to do this on my own.” That UGLY “Should” word.  Ugh.  The next one?  ” I don’t want to be a “BURDEN.”  Double UGH.  And after I got off the phone, I thought “that was SO easy. Why do I TORTURE myself before picking up that phone???”  I mean, if the tables were turned, I would most certainly help out… NO QUESTION.

Are there areas that you need help or support but you aren’t asking for it?  

Here are a series of questions for you to ponder.  {You really should get a journal if you are going to read my blog… you are going to want it and it’s SUPER helpful when you want to come back to re-visit questions and answers.}

1.  Is there an area of your life that you are in need of support or help? {This could be folding laundry or picking up dog poop OR leaving a marriage or quitting an addiction.}

2.  Why are you unable to ask for that help or support? {Is it because you think you should be able to do it all? Because asking would make you weak or vulnerable? Are you fearful that when you ask, you might be told “no” or rejected?}

3.  Close your eyes {just do it}.  Imagine asking for help in the particular situation that you are thinking of.  How does it feel in your gut, in your heart, when you ask for that help.  {Keep your mind voice out of this.}

4.  Think of the times that you were asked to help…asked for support.  What did that feel like in your heart and your soul?

5.  WHO do you need to ask for help or support?

When we ask for help, we open ourselves up to RECEIVE.  We allow others to be of service and open their hearts up to GIVING.  We cannot know everything {I know, it’s true!}  There is an abundance of help all around us.  When we allow ourselves to ASK, to be vulnerable, to be openhearted, you will be more aware of that abundance.

Ask for help.  Reach out. Pick up the phone. You will never know the deepened friendships, relationships or community if you never ask. Most importantly, you will never know the personal growth and freedom that comes with just asking.

5 Steps to Clarity

Life is like an ocean.  It ebbs and flows.  The only certainty is that there isn’t any. {except for death & taxes}.

Things change.  Our children move from grade school to high school.  They graduate. They leave the home.  We change jobs or retire or leave careers to start families.  We get sober, we recover, we move on.

I don’t know about you but when I don’t know what to do, I get uncomfortable.  And sometimes, that feeling of being uncomfortable lasts awhile.  I have come to learn that being uncomfortable, like grief, is something that I cannot push through.

I was recently putting a class together.  Each week, I painstakingly research topics that I can present to my class each Sunday.  This week?  Nothing.  Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.  The BIG DONUT.  Nothing was “landing” for me.  All of a sudden, I felt as if I knew nothing.  My brain completely emptied.  I have NOTHING to offer, NOTHING to share. Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!  This went on for FIVE days.  The night before the class, still nothing.  THEN at 2:35 in the morning, it landed.  I am not alone in this and this has happened before; this not knowing.  So, my class topic?  Not knowing and what you need to know when you don’t.  Brilliant.

Here are the five things you can do the next time you don’t know. I have done ALL the research so you don’t have to.  {You are welcome.}

1.  BE STILL.  Pay attention to what is happening at that particular moment.  Notice what your mind has to say about it (probably a lot).  Notice what your body has to say about it {neck pain, jaw pain, shoulder pain?}  When we are still, EVERYTHING has a a chance to slow down; your breathing, your thoughts, the panic that comes with not knowing.

2.  GET COMFORTABLE with being uncomfortable. So, how do you get comfortable being uncomfortable?  Acknowledgement.  This can be something that you do on your yoga mat in a particular pose (ahem, suffering pose).  “I am uncomfortable.  This is uncomfortable.”  You get asked to present at a conference, the PTA.  You are overwhelmed as you sit with divorce or child custody papers.  You want to leave your job.  You want a brand new career.  Some of these are exciting and some are uncomfortable.  Acknowledge it.

3.  DO NOT make any decisions.  Making a conscious decision to not make a decision is actually MAKING a decision. {Yes!}

4.  Check IN rather than Check OUT.  Meditate, take a walk, practice yoga, pray.  The time you take to do one of these may be all the time you need to settle down and begin to know things again.  Netflix, boozing it, mindless eating, shopping, social media?  No.  When you “awake” from one of these stupors, you will still have the issue of not knowing…being uncomfortable and no solution or relief.

5.  OPEN yourself up to new ideas and ALL possibilities.  You don’t have to act on any of them.  When we are able to get centered and still we allow our mind, heart, body and Soul to get in alignment.  One doesn’t override the other as you allow each to have their say.  Be open to new ideas and possibilities.  Be vulnerable.  Let go of control.  Be honest with yourself.

There are no mistakes.  There really aren’t.  Just opportunities for new doors to open and new roads to travel.  Sometimes what you perceive as a mistake is a signal or indication that what you are supposed to be doing is not that.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

— Lao Tsu

 

It’s ok to not know.  You will, eventually, know.  Be Still.  Sit with being uncomfortable.  Check IN. Open yourself to all possibilities.