Thursday, October 12, 2017

On Universal Downloads and Co-Creating with Your Muse

I'm starting to come to terms with the fact that my yoga mat is my teacher and my guide.

Lately, most of the lessons I learn in life start on that rubbery rectangle. And many of the creative ideas I develop start as inspiration that appears while I'm in Downward Facing Dog or Child's Pose.

This morning, as I was moving through my practice I started feeling the excitement some new ideas percolating. When I sat down in meditation for a few minutes after my asana practice, the flood of ideas just kept coming.

This is why I keep a notebook handy when I'm practicing yoga and meditating. There's something about moving in time with my breath, about breathing deeply and centering on the inhale and exhale, that triggers creativity. So the minute I'm done with my practice (and sometimes right in the middle of it so that I don't lose a specific idea), I sit down with pen and paper and take notes.

I honestly believe that in those moments I'm transcribing a direct download from the Universe. I'm a true believer in the Muse and know that if I don't take hold of those lightbulb moments, of those clear and fresh ideas, and start developing them and stretching into them that they will pass me by in favor of someone else who is ready.

I've been there. I've had amazing ideas that I didn't delve into and before I knew it someone else was doing exactly what I wanted to do but didn't.

There are a lot of reasons why we don't take inspiration and run with it: lack of time, lack of energy, fear of failure (or success), to name just a few. But if we're willing to push through all of that, to connect to that inspiring thought or idea long enough to see it through, it's amazing what we can accomplish.

I'm telling you all this so that you understand what to do with those ideas when they come up. So that you don't miss out on Universal downloads. So that you can recognize the Muse when she shows up and sit down with her to co-create.

Don't wait when inspiration strikes. Get started and see what can happen!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Letting Go of Easy

I was chatting with a friend today about some struggles I'm going through and at one point in the conversation I said, "I just want it to be easy."

Like seriously. I'm so exhausted by the regular struggles I'm finding myself in. And I bet I'm not alone. I can guarantee if you're reading this you've felt that way before, too. It's part of our human nature to want to avoid the hard stuff.

We don't want to struggle. We don't want to fight. We don't want to experience pain or disappointment or discontent. We want it to be EASY.

But the minute that sentence was out of my mouth today, I took it back. The Universe hit me with a good old dose of wisdom and I realized how wrong I was.

I don't want it to be easy. Because there's no learning in easy. There's no growing in easy. Easy robs me of the lessons life is has to teach me.

What do I have to offer anyone else if not the wisdom I gain in all these experiences?

If I want to help other women recognize their passions, I have to learn to recognize my own. If I want to teach them to tune into their inner voice and make their dreams come true, I have to figure out how to get there myself. In order for me to teach from a place of wisdom and authenticity, I need to know where they've been. I need to take my own path toward my dreams, through all the hard stuff. Only then can I help others walk a similar path.

Sure, easy would be nice. It IS nice when things happen easily, when life seems to line up perfectly in front of us so that we can just coast along for a bit. But easy can't be all there is.

So today, after my vent session with my friend, I'm choosing to be grateful for the hard stuff. It's in all that hard stuff that I'm going to grow and learn and lead. I'll take the easy when it comes--and I'll be damned grateful for it. Then, when the hard stuff comes calling, I'll take that with gratitude, too, knowing I'm learning and growing and stretching so that the next challenge might seem a little easier to face.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Cleaning Out the Closet

I've been holding on to pre-baby clothes (from the thinnest period of my life) for five years. Five. Freaking. Years.
At first, I was hopeful to be back in them by the time my oldest was a year old. Then I was pregnant with my second...and now he's almost three and I'm at the heaviest weight I've ever been. 
I'm working on that. But it's tough feeding myself well and squeezing in exercise with two little ones who require so much attention and love and care--all of which I want to heap on them every available minute. So getting my body healthy and strong again is a process and I'm trying to be positive about it. 
Still, every time I opened my closet (or even thought about it because I knew the clothes were in there) I felt miserable. I felt angry and upset with myself. I felt sad that I'm not able to wear those clothes, because I really loved some of them.
For some reason, though, today I decided it was time to change that. I suddenly felt like it was time to let those clothes go.
So with my boys' help, I pulled out every last piece of "skinny" clothing and packed it into a box for Goodwill or set it aside to sell. It was a little like a funeral, saying goodbye to all those dresses and shirts I loved. But it was also cathartic. It was like I was releasing all the negative feelings I had been holding in. 
I feel like I can finally move forward instead of dwelling in the past. And that feels pretty amazing.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mirror, Mirror

object mirror object by Emilie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I've never been a fan of the mirror. Even at my thinnest, I wasn't one to spend much time checking my reflection. But in the last few weeks I've realized that for months (maybe even years) I've been avoiding the mirror.

I don't know when I stopped looking in the mirror. It wasn't a conscious decision. It just happened. My mirror avoidance developed as quickly and quietly as the pounds packed on.

Of course I glance at my face as I wash or apply lotion. I sometimes check my outfit to make sure there aren't any hand prints or stains on my clothes. But I won't linger. I won't really LOOK at my reflection.

Why? What am I afraid of?

I'm afraid of the thoughts that might arise as I scan my body, recognizing curves that have become rounder and fuller than they were a few years ago. I'm ashamed and embarrassed by what my body has become.

I know that's not what I'm supposed to think. I know it's not how I'm supposed to feel about this body that has created life, that has carried me through challenges and adventures and tragedies alike. I know I'm supposed to love my body just as it is. But right now, I just can't. Or at least until now, I haven't been able to.

Today, I stood in front of the mirror before I got into the shower. I looked--really looked--at my body. This is what I saw: a round face that looks tired but happy; shoulders that keep creeping up toward my ears instead of relaxing down my back; a chest that is rounder and hangs lower than ever before; a belly that droops over a long scar, hiding the evidence that babies formed and grew inside me; thighs that overlap and rub against one another; ankles that are like tree trunks and feet that are wide and flat from years of bearing the weight above them.

This is all what IS. I'm doing my best not to judge it. It is my body after growing two healthy boys. It is my body after several years of stress, overwhelm, poor eating, lack of exercise and minimal self-care. This is where I am now. It does not have to be where I end up.

I worry, though, that I've let things go too far. I fear I've forgotten how to be healthy. I wonder if there's really time and energy to take care of myself, to plan healthy meals (and cook them), to exercise and practice yoga on more than an occasional basis.

I still have to try. My body is begging me. I feel so heavy and uncomfortable. I lack energy and I'm irritable. I realize I can't change what has already happened. I can only change what I do and feel from here forward.

And so today I choose to go to the gym. Today I choose to eat healthier than yesterday. Today I choose to stand in front of the mirror and look at my body without judgement.

With each day, hopefully, I can rebuild those healthier habits. I can do one thing to take care of myself. I can learn to look in the mirror and see my body through a lens of appreciation again, no matter what the scale says and no matter what size my pants are.

I will do my best today. That's all I can do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Things have started getting pretty blurry. It happened slowly, so I didn't really even notice. Then one day, after cussing out my contacts for not working, it occurred to me that my vision just might have changed over the last...has it really been 5 years since my last eye exam???

I sat in the chair while the eye doctor prepared to check my vision, and without my contacts in I couldn't even read the lowest line of letters projected onto the wall in front of me. I'd been living my life with blurry vision for YEARS without even noticing. Or rather, without paying any attention.

As the doctor flipped through the levels of correction and answered "Better or worse?" over and over again, things began to get clearer. I could again see the clean edges of the letters in front of me. I could identify all the letters on the smallest of lines.

When he was finished, the doctor rolled his chair to his desk and began typing notes into his computer. Then he turned to me and said, "Well, you need bifocals."

I must have had a shocked look on my face, because he quickly added, "It usually happens around 40. You only need a very low magnification. Look for +1.00 reading glasses to use when you're wearing your contacts. You can get them at any drug store these days."

As I ordered my new frames and lenses, the salesman asked if I'd like "progressives" or traditional lenses with the line. "No line, please. I'd like to at least pretend I don't need bifocals."

He gave me an obligatory chuckle and wrote up my order. I obviously wasn't the first one to say such a thing.

A week later, wearing my new progressive (ha!) glasses, things are a little wobbly. I'm adjusting to a visual field that changes magnification with the movement of my eyes. I almost fell down the stairs the other day, because my depth perception was a bit off as I looked down through the "reading" portion of my lenses.

If I forget I'm wearing them and tip my head up as I'm looking toward the distance, things become blurry and distorted and my head begins to hurt. But if I tip my head down and gaze through the tops of the lenses, things become clear again, better defined. I can't help wondering if getting these progressive lenses is a reminder that there are different ways to look at the world. Maybe they're reteaching me that what we see in front of us varies depending on what angle we use to look at it.

Maybe wearing bifocals isn't such a bad thing after all. Maybe it's just the vision adjustment I needed to start seeing things clearly again.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Starbucks Kindness

Coffee by Cheryl Foong is licensed under CC BY 2.0
This morning, I dropped my oldest at school and headed to the nearby Starbucks, where I’ve started setting up my mobile office for a couple of hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I got in line and studied the menu, deciding on a Chai Latte and waiting my turn. 

I listened to the young woman in front of me order an herbal tea. “Wait, do you guys have coffee? Just regular coffee?” she asked. Her clothing was dirty and she was wearing too many layers for even this cool morning.

The barista looked up from the register with a small smile and said, “Yeah, we have coffee.”

“Okay, can you make it sweet?” She mirrored his smile and I saw how pretty she was. Maybe 20 years old, she clutched a plastic bag with what I assumed were her only possessions. Or maybe simply the most important ones.

“Sure, hot or iced?” he asked.

“No ice, just regular hot coffee. Sweet.”

The barista grabbed a cup and began marking it with her order. The older woman standing in front of her smiled and waited to pay, and I realized she was planning to buy this young woman’s drink. Once the older woman’s order was rung up, she said, “Oh, I'm getting hers, too.”

The barista waved his hand and said, “Oh no, we’ve got it. Thank you for your kindness.”

And that was it. The generosity of one woman became a gift from Starbucks instead.

So today, when I woke up too late and had to rush through our morning routine, when I feel a bit overwhelmed and under-motivated, suddenly I am warmed by a simple act of giving.

I am reminded to be kind. Do good. Love others, even in their mess, even in the smallest of ways. It will always matter. And the rest—the hurt, the overwhelm, the craziness and difficulty—will begin to feel a little…less. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sugar, You Have No Power Over Me

Sugar by Moyen Brenn is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Thanks to a little nudge from my sister-in-law, I started a 21 Day Sugar Detox five days ago. 

I wasn't well prepared, but I was motivated. My diet has been less than stellar for, oh, four years-ish. Basically, since I was pregnant with my oldest little one I've been choosing to give in to every craving that comes along. 

Not the best way to stay healthy--during pregnancy or otherwise. 

So when my SIL asked if I wanted to join her in giving up sugar, and pretty much all carbs, I said "Hell yes!" Okay, I wasn't quite that excited, but I did say I'd give it an honest go. 

The first four days were easy. Like so easy that I thought, Why didn't I do this sooner?!? Who needs sugar?

Then I woke up this morning and all I could think of was toast and bagels and lightly sweetened cereal. I was tired of eggs. I wanted my Sunday chocolate croissant from the Farmer's Market, for god's sake!

But I'm plugging my way through the day, snacking on turkey slices and cheese sticks and carrots. I know I can do this. I know I'll feel better once I get through this first week. I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. 

I also know that I may only be a few days into this study of my self, but my choice to lose the sugar has already taught me a few things. 

1. Cravings will pass. I probably knew this already, somewhere in the back of my sugar-addicted brain, but I'm remembering that when a craving strikes it will eventually go away. It's not going to stick around forever and if I can get past that initial drive to locate chocolate at all costs, I can make it through the day/week/month. 

2. I eat for all the wrong reasons. When I eliminated the option to munch on whatever I wanted throughout the day, it became abundantly clear that much of what I was eating was not for nourishment. I wasn't eating because I was hungry. I was eating out of habit, to stave off boredom or to deal with stress. Not all the time, but often. 

3. Treats are meant to be treats. Until this detox, I'd basically stopped saying no to treats like ice cream and chips and cookies. If they were around, or I was craving them, I'd eat them. After not having any sweets or other junk for a few days, my mind has cleared a bit and I've realized that I don't have to give those things up forever. But when I do have them, they should be a treat. Not something I eat every day or night just because that's my routine. 

They may seem like simple lessons, and this detox may seem like an extreme measure to learn them, but sometimes we (or at least *I*) need a strong kick in the pants to change track. Removing nearly all carbs from my diet for three weeks won't be simple, and it's obviously not a permanent fix, but I'm positive it will readjust my perspective on food and change some of my eating habits for the better. Until I get completely back on track, I can remind myself when I'm jonesing for potato chips that I'm choosing to be a healthier version of me. 

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