30 Days of Doing my Best.

For the month of November, I set a goal for myself. I vowed to do my best, as much as I possibly could. I would, as much as I could judge, do what I “should.” This included reading with my kids instead of turning on the tv, going outside, saying “yes” when my only reason for saying “no” was that I’m lazy. It included exercising even when I would be tight on time, and showing up to my work when I planned to, even if I didn’t feel like it. I ate more of what I “should” and practiced stopping when I’d had “enough.” And because this is all very vague, I laid out some hard rules to follow; No TV, No sweets or desserts. No soda. No fast food. No coffee. No caffeine. No alcohol. Do your best. Give your best. I essentially removed all of my entertainment, distractions, and numbing devices. Here’s what I learned this past month:

-You can feel what you feel and do nothing about it- I have always felt the need to “do something” with emotions, particularly uncomfortable ones. I’ve heard people say things along the lines of being with these feelings…of staying with them…letting them be…to experience your downs, sadness, frustrations, etc. But honestly, I think I’ve always, in one manner or another, numbed myself. Life can be hard. Life can be extremely trying and stressful. And sitting with all the shit that life brings up in you…that’s hard. It’s uncomfortable and saddening and exhausting. But it is also clarifying. Being with these emotions, feeling them without the numbing of alcohol, food, tv, entertainment, whatever ways you numb, makes you see yourself, your life more clearly. After this month, I’m more aware of when I feel my worst- my saddest, my angriest, my most stressed, and pissed. I’m aware of how I’ve come to “deal” with these emotions instead of reading them for what they are- totally acceptable and useful tools to taking control of my life. You can not choose what stays and goes in your life in you don’t let yourself feel.

-Self love does not always feel very loving- Self love is a complicated concept. Often we see images depicting devotion to ourselves as luxurious bubble baths, pampering, shopping, sex, food, whatever. I suppose that self love can expressed and explored in all of these ways. But self love is also waking up early to exercise, it’s making yourself meditate, neglecting yourself of distractions to really explore how you’re feeling in your life, it’s taking the run, and going to the yoga class, and choosing to skip the second glass of wine. Sometimes self love is down right painful. Because self love, while it does include indulgence at times, is ultimately about feeling and being your overall best- it’s about caring for your body, mind, and soul from a kind, loving, gracious, and disciplined place.

-The energy of change is complicated and multifaceted- I read the Ana Forrest book Fierce Medicine earlier this year. One of the many things she shared that stuck with me was this concept of “the energy of change…”. I want that. I like that thought. The energy of change… what is that? How does that feel? What does it look like and sound like? Well here’s your very vague and likely unhelpful answer. The energy of change is both exciting dull. It’s painful and releasing. It’s clarifying and wildly confusing. It’s both bright, and dull. Moving and terribly sluggish. Change is not linear, and the energy around the experience of changing yourself and your life is ever-changing. The “trick” is to know why you want to change and then to stay with it and let it be.

-We know what we “should” do most of the time- it’s available to us. We have been provided a sophisticated system of wisdom and guidance in our beings. But many of us have also been taught to ignore such inklings. This month, I felt for the first time, maybe in my life, how it feels to honor when you’re body, mind, gut, instincts, etc, guides you. When you honor that “inner voice,” it grows. I feel like learning to honor our internal compass and navigational tools requires a lot of unlearning too; more than I can do in a month. It requires practice and patience. But it’s there, wisdom, authenticity, truth. It’s all there inside of each of us.

-The hardest part of change is belonging no where- You no longer belong to your vices, habits, or the people who share them. You’re not really a part of a new set of folks like who you’re becoming. You are alone, a soul, drifting between ways of being. We often ascribe all these little bits of ourselves to out identity. So leaving unhelpful bits of “who we are” behind can be scary. Who are you now? Who are you without your vices and hang ups? Can you bear being untethered, to belonging no where, to feeling lost? At least for a while?

Onward. Any thoughts?

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Personal Growth- Review and Concepts

One of the articles I’ve recently read pertaining to personal growth is “The ABC’s of Personal Growth: How to Live a Meaningful, Fulfilling Life,” by Andi Saitowitz, posted to tinybuddah.com. I’ve included the link below, as well as Andi’s website, and it’s worth a full read with your full attention, but I wanted to share a few points that are really speaking to me today.

“Blessings:

Blessings are all around us. If we choose to look for them, we will certainly find them. What are you grateful for? What makes you smile? What positives do you notice in your life right now? Each day, look for three things to be grateful for. These blessings multiply!”

Blessings. Gratitude. Abundance. Wealth. For many of us it’s hard to see all the good in our lives when we feel stressed, anxious, angry, burdened, or just not where or how we want to be. I struggle with this. But I’m finding again and again that practicing gratitude- yes, it’s actually a skill/attitude to be practiced- is a total game changer. In my life, I’m finding rituals that support this, namely an early morning routine that includes time to thank the universe for all the good in my life, for whatever comes to my mind that I’m happy about in that moment, be it as little as the fact that my pen works, or as real and heartfelt as having healthy kids and a roof over our heads. I think practicing gratitude is often considered light and fluffy and warm, but much like meditation, it’s a practice that alters you from the inside-out and changes the way you do everything.

“The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” Martha Beck

“Control:

There are so many things in life that we have very little or no control over—what happens to us, what other people say or do. We are not the general managers of the universe. However, we have incredible control over how we choose to respond to every experience we encounter. Our control lies in our attitude and our behavior—our choices. Choose wisely.”

Oh man, anyone else out there trying to control every detail of their world? I can not control other people. Their opinions of me are none of my business. I can control my behaviors, my habits, my attitudes and thoughts. And that’s it.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr

“Mindfulness Meditation:

Slow down. Take time to breathe. Mindfulness offers incomparable value to the human spirit, psyche, and body. Dedicate a set time each day to pausing, being truly present, and listening to your soul and inner wisdom.

The research available on the huge benefits of meditation is mind-blowing. Treat yourself and everyone you love to the gift of meditation. Even a few minutes a day has the power to awaken, elevate, transform, and enhance your life in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

Neuroscience has evidence today that meditation literally rewires your brain and can change your thinking, habits, and negative beliefs. It’s miraculous and it’s accessible to every one of us. Try it for yourself. Start to live a mindful life of greater peace.”

Take the time. No matter how many things are on your to-do list, no matter how anxious and jumpy you are, no matter how exhausted, take the time to meditate. Commit to this time you give yourself.

“Release:

What are you carrying right now that is too heavy? Every day, practice letting go of the things that weigh you down.

It’s not easy to let go of regret, mistakes, anger, resentment, ego, jealousy, and compassion, but each day offers us abundant opportunity to practice. Try to catch yourself when you’re getting caught up in a story in your head so you can take a few deep breaths, center yourself, and free up your energy for the people and things that bring you peace and purpose.”

This is so great to read. I need the reminder that often the places my brain goes are to memories and moments steeped in fear, regret, anger…it does not serve my present or my future. Stop what you’re doing. Take a few breaths. Let it go.

Follow the link below. Read it for yourself. What letters/concepts are speaking to you today?

The ABC’s of Personal Growth: How to Live a Meaningful, Fulfilling Life

https://www.andisaitowitz.com

Numbing/Nourishing Tips & Ideas

After yesterday’s post, I kept thinking about all this numbing/nourishing stuff. For me, the discovery that so many of my “resting” activities were not at all nourishing and largely learned from my upbringing was hugely eye-opening. And for some time, when I’d find myself plastered to the couch with a chocolate mug cake because I’m tired and stressed, my mind would flicker to the truth that I wasn’t really fixing anything or helping myself, but then I’d ignore it and do my thing. The stress-inducing issues and fatigue were still present but now with the added guilt that I knew I was resisting growth. Pre-empting my nourishment needs has proven to be very helpful for me. Here are some ways I do that.

Tip #1- Make a list of what makes you feel good. These could be anything! Then when you’re feeling whatever it is that drives you to numb, you can refer to your list and choose what fits the moment instead of falling back on your numbing habits. Here are some items on my list:

  • a really great cup of coffee
  • the smell of lavender (I use essential oils or lavender scented candles)
  • a thought-provoking movie
  • short stories I can enjoy over a sitting
  • flipping through my favorite magazine
  • laughing (usually from old faithful movies that always crack me up)
  • face masks
  • oily bubble baths
  • using my face roller
  • walking in nature
  • long drives
  • cat memes
  • dumb jokes
  • good wine
  • icy, cold milk
  • puzzles
  • sudoku
  • candles
  • arts and crafts
  • pinning travel destinations on pinterest
  • baking
  • talking to a real friend

Most of these things are free and fairly quick. I keep my list in my phone notes so it’s always handy. Make a list of what feels good for you!

Tip #2- Plan your recharge time in advance. When you’re planning your week, give yourself a morning, maybe an evening, even just an hour if thats all you can swing. Devote that time to making yourself feel good and recharging. Don’t pencil it in. Its important- permanent marker that date with yourself into your week! Plan what you’ll do, prep what you need in advance, and take that time whether you feel you need it or not. For me, I give myself Friday movie night, all by my glorious lonesome, to watch whatever I want (almost, see next tip).

Tip #3- If TV or music is part of your recharging time, be considerate of what you watch/hear. For example, if watching Keeping up with the Kardashians makes you feel like a fat slob, choose something else. Basically don’t watch or listen to what makes you feel bad. What you feed your mind is part of who and how you are.

Tip #4- If booze, sweets, or other specific food is part of your relax time, don’t binge. And if you’re struggling not to eat the whole carton, take the time and think about why. Satisfying a sweet tooth craving and filling yourself up in response to stress, shame, fears or insecurity are not the same thing.

Tip #5- Embrace your preferences! So what if taking a 10 mile jog is not your preferred method of relaxation? No yoga in there? It’s ok. Don’t overthink this. And if jogging and yoga are a part of your relaxation methods, that’s great too! My point- honor your own preferences without judgement of how they differ from someone else’s or what you think your preferences “should” be.

 

Numbing VS Nourishing

chris-liverani-568610-unsplash
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

When you’re tired, down, defeated, sad, alone, lost…do you nourish your mind, body, and spirit? Or do you numb it?

So often when we’re experiencing any of the above emotions (and many others) instead of feeding ourselves what we need, we fill up on junk that may give a moment of release, but ultimately robs you of the opportunity to truly find a sense of replenishment and energy. I’m not just talking about diet here- we are what we eat. But we are also what we watch, read, think, how we sleep, what we believe in, who we spend time with…we are a culmination of many habits, preferences, and circumstances.

To make matters of numbing vs nourishing all the more confusing, we’re bombarded with messages on social media, tv, movies, music, everywhere really, with false information about what will make us feel better.

But the reality is that chugging Fanta in the street will never be as exciting as it appears in the ad. Binge-watching Seinfeld for the millionth time (it’s a classic, I agree), because you just need to zone out for a bit, will not give your mind the peace it craves. Eating the entire cake will not make the stressful situation in your life any less stressful or any more dealt with. And that impromptu shopping spree? It’ll only disguise the inferiority and fears you feel for a hot second. But we all know this, right?

TV is not inherently evil. Fanta and sodas probably are not either. Shopping can be pretty fun. And I, for one, really love chocolate cake. But when we use decadence, laziness, sugar, caffeine, booze, among tons of other stimulants and numbing-agents, to keep us from feeling what we’re going through, we’re losing out. Instead, is it possible to set these indulgences in our lives aside as just that? To enjoy them in a way that honors our growth? Is it possible to look into the behaviors that we’ve called “resting” and call them out for what they really are? Hiding. Procrastinating. Numbing. 

How do you respond to your body’s call for rest? For nourishment? What are some ways we can replenish ourselves without the boozing, the bingeing, and the self-loathing?

 

The Power of Rejection

Recently I’ve been faced with several rejections, all having to do with my work in one way or another. While I did feel well…rejected, the way I instinctively reacted to one versus another struck me as interesting.

In one situation, while there was still the sting of rejection, I wasn’t surprised and I wasn’t deeply wounded. In another, I was totally bummed out for days. And as I contemplated this it occurred to me that these rejections were revealing my priorities to me. They were showing me what I care about. 

Rejection can be painful. Seriously painful in some circumstances. But it is also necessary. The chains of rejection in our lives have the power to reveal what we really care about, to highlight the chances we do and do not take, and ultimately to call us to evolve; to evolve how we think, how we work, how and why we make the decisions we do, how we submit resumes, audition, present ourselves to the world, and how we shoulder feelings of defeat. Rejection, if soberly felt and utilized wisely, has the power to pointedly guide you back to your inner compass. That’s some powerful stuff!

In short, rejection is a gift. 

As I wade through the rejections in my life, clumsily attempting to learn the lessons they offer, I’d love to hear from you. What rejections have guided you (small and big), brought you back, pushed you forward? 

Jeannie Yogini

Jeannie Yogini PDF- CLICK HERE

(Note: Jeannie Yogini contains some profanity. fyi.)

I recently participated in a Yoga Teacher Training (RYT200). It was amazing and I felt the need to memorialize the experience and give a little something to the other amazing yogis I’m learning with. So I wrote Jeannie Yogini; Jeannie is in her first teacher training and learns that yoga is about so much more than poses. Enjoy!

RYT. New toolbox, same old builder.

Two Saturdays ago I completed the immersion part of RYT 200 (registered yoga teacher training 200 hour level) locally. It was amazing- a completely mind and heart opening experience for me. During that immersive week, it was as if I’d been lifted up out of my life, out of myself, and got this crazy birds-eye view of my life. My self. My potential. I was totally pumped leaving the last class, eager to get on to the hours of other requirements. I’d become equipped with this whole new toolbox of some seriously powerful tools and I was eager to take them and either tweak, or just demolish and rebuild my reality.

But when I returned to my norm- my house, schedule, life, responsibilities, all my usuals…Instead of feeling as if I’d landed gracefully from this fly-over-viewing experience of my life, I felt as if I’d fallen tumbling from the sky and landed in this confused heap, my new arsenal of tools flung all over the place. You with me here?

The photo above (it’s from my Danielle LaPorte Desire Map planner) is from these prompts at the end of each week in my planner. Mulling over the prompts a few days ago, those were the answers that angrily poured out of me. It wasn’t funny and I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic. I was just down and discouraged; frustrated that I wasn’t able to take all these things I’d learned and seamlessly apply them to my life.

I am the builder of my life. I choose how I am, how I spend time, how I’ll feel in various circumstances and in response to various stimuli, how I’ll work, love…every. little. thing.  And yet sometimes, even with a power-packed tool box of self realizations, challenged perspectives, and new hope and assurance, I feel powerless sometimes. It’s in my head, in my habits…this I know.

This week I have purposefully planned in more of what keeps me open, sane, and connected- and made time to delve deeper into all the new goodness I’m trying to introduce to my life (empowering beliefs, choosing action over fear, choosing connection over hiding, practicing openness for myself without expectations from others…).

When you’ve discovered, learned, have been given some great knowledge- some awesome new tool (in the form of anything I’ve mentioned above), how do you bring that into your life already brimming with habits and schedules and responsibilities?