Rigidity to Resilience

Many years ago when I was struggling with my eating disorder,  my existence & routines were based on control & rigidity.  I felt as if I were a fragile egg, helplessly waiting for the hammer to come down.  Constantly living in a state of fear, as if I were only moments away from complete destruction.  Overwhelmed by insecurity, fear, unworthiness, anxiety & emotional intensity, strict routines and obsessive habits took hold as a feeble attempt to control the fragile emotional landscape within as well as to control the unknown dangers of the outside world.  The more fearful or out of control I felt, the stricter the routines or obsessive eating behaviors became.  A sense of calm would temporarily overcome me when I was allowed to be consumed with what, if, how or when I was going to eat.... this zone of comfort was short lived & extraordinarily narrow.  My eating disorder eventually consumed me, my false sense of control shattered, releasing the chaos within my soul.  Ultimately ravaging my body, mind & anything or anyone I came into contact with.

Healing slowly began, taking years, but underneath it all there was always a lingering fear of  structure.    Wondering if the switch would flip and I once again would become prisoner to my distorted perceptions, fixated on perfection & rigidity in the name of control.  For many years a deep sense of mistrust of my mind would linger... it had lead me so astray, causing so much pain and destruction. I remained on high alert, constantly second guessing myself.  Opting to trust other's opinions rather than my own.  Leaving me feeling depleted, deeply ungrounded and never truly fully living.

It wasn't until having children that my entire existence was uprooted and caused a mandatory reevaluation of who I was and how I chose to show up in the world.  A gift that I will forever be grateful for, it rocked my world and has been both the most deeply beautiful & challenging experience of my life. Teaching me to trust my body, my intuition, and truly appreciate the value of rhythm & creating a nurturing container.  Slowly I began trusting in the rhythm of nature, rather than the false sense of safety of a rigid structure that does not allow for variation.  Rather than obsessing on what the latest parenting book said, I tried to shift my focus on the child in front of me & the unique situation at hand.   Allowing my children to be seen & accepted rather than "fixed" allowed a deep sense of compassion and empathy, eventually spilling over to the way that I handled myself as well. Learning (and teaching them) to build a container that allows a sense of safety and encourages developing a grounding place within to come home to whenever life feels out of control or just too much is invaluable.   In early childhood, the days can seem to blur together...exhaustion lends itself to pure survival mode, but even in the fog, slivers of lucid awareness, joy, connection & nurturance can prevail.  A gentle daily ebb & flow of energy allowing not only expansion (or time of activity & connection) but equally as important, a time of contraction (or quiet & introspection) to allow both a dynamic & deeply replenishing daily rhythm.  Children automatically introduce this into our lives... deeply immersive play time partnered with a rejuvenating nap time makes for a happy child & Mom.  Remembering the value of this rhythm has allowed me to be mindful of how I expend energy and how I restore myself.  Selectively choosing what I allow in my life, frequently reassessing what truly serves me, letting go of what depletes me, choosing again daily and allowing a sense of flow & ease.  

Deep healing began, as I learned to navigate my emotions, appreciate my sensitivities and channel the ebb & flow of daily life.  Learning to trust my mind & body as a knowledgable guide and following my intuition.  Allowing the chaos & the mundane to wash through my life... examining the gifts that it brings.  Like a beautiful shell washed up onto the beach, I accept the gifts that bring a glimmer to my eye & throw back what does not.  Ironically allowing a sense of fluidity in my life is what keeps me deeply grounded.  I have found freedom and ease within rhythm and structure.  Ever learning how to skillfully ride the waves, trying not to cling, resist or fight against what life brings. Holding on to my daily habits of meditation, movement, nourishing foods & connection, knowing it is was keeps me afloat. Trusting in the steady rhythm of my days, I have found a deep sense of calm knowing that I have the tools to navigate the challenges that life inevitably brings.

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Make a PACT with those you love...4 Steps to Compassionate Communication

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” - Aristotle

For fear of judgement & criticism, it can be easy to hold our thoughts, feelings & ideas close to our chest.  Demanding others to simply guess what is actually happening in our internal world.  Though this may feel like the safest way to engage with the world, it is definitely not the most dynamic or authentic.  Alternatively we may also react quickly and sharply, jumping to conclusions, disassociating ourselves from those in front of us.  Allowing ourselves to be honest when we are holding back or making assumption out of fear, we are more likely to be able to  step out of the entanglement of emotions & past patterning.

When connecting authentically with others it takes a good dose of vulnerability, emotional intelligence & resiliency.  I've found that this is most difficult with those that are closest to us (partners, close friends & family), whose opinions we hold most dear.  The fear of criticism & judgement can quickly take a casual conversation into a spiral of overwhelming emotions and lashing out, snarky remarks & even tears... leaving you smack dab in the middle of an argument, wondering "how did we get here?".   Quickly reacting & becoming aggressive or defensive when challenged on our thoughts/feeling/ actions can quickly shut down any conversation and lead to misery & misunderstandings.  As we create our own story of what is happening in our heads, we can easily forget we are engaging with another human being.  Rather than truly listening, we are preparing our defense.  Rather than allowing compassion & empathy to enter the conversation we throw a wall up, disconnect, no longer listen & prepare for battle.  Simply responding to the story that we've created in our heads rather than engaging fully in what is truly (and usually subtly) playing out before us.

This is where our 4 steps to compassionate connection come in, changing the dynamics of our conversations. Allowing us to make a PACT to engage empathetically with the one in front of us & with ourselves.

  • PAUSE - Take a few deep breaths before you speak, allowing you to calm the nervous system & respond rather than react.  Mimic your meditation practice, noticing & naming the emotions you are having.  Allowing them to be present but also separate from your actual being, recognizing the response it elicits in your body (heart racing, clenching teeth, knot in the stomach, etc.)  & name what is is that you are feeling (fear, anger, sadness...).  Allow.  Notice.  Name.  Quietly as you breathe.  Checking in allows us to engage in a much more aware & thoughtful way.
  • ASSESS - Take stock of both the environment (Has it been a stressful day? Are there fussy children at your feet? Is it right before mealtime?) as well as the emotional vibe (Have you or your partner had a short fuse all day? Feeling sensitive? Just left a stressful work/family situation).  We all have our limits, see where the barometer is landing at the moment (for both of you).
  • CURIOSITY- Enter the conversation with a sense of curiosity rather than a sense of conviction.  Clarify by asking questions, digging deeper &  challenging assumptions (yours & theirs).  This allows an airing out of assumed assumptions and intent, rather than sticking to the story you've created in your head.
  • TRUST - This can be the hardest one when we are feeling vulnerable & under fire.  But trusting that they are doing the best that they can at the moment.  We all struggle at showing up fully at every moment.  Some days can be challenging & giving the other the benefit of the doubt, allowing them to be human (therefore imperfect) we allow ourselves to also make mistakes.  When we are met with a sense of compassion and empathy it is much easier to admit to making mistakes or to soften our responses.

This is a process & a practice of building a more and more subtle awareness, not only what is happening within ourselves but also those we are connecting with & our environments.  As we refine our internal awareness (thoughts, sensations & feelings) we are able to own our emotional environment & engage from a place of deep connection and ownership, rather than simply dropping into a power play desperately grasping for control.  Building our emotional awareness, our bodies reactions & learning to trust our intuitive & inquisitive nature we can change the name of the game all together... from criticism, control & judgement to one of curiosity, compassion & connection.  


 

 

 

 

Got Kids? Sanity Saver (Podcasts) to the RESCUE!

As a homeschooling Mom of 2 energetic boys, on a 50ft sailboat, there are times when I need to reign in the energy as well as provide some learning opportunities.  We try and limit the amount of T.V. around here so finding alternatives that are entertaining, engaging & a treat for the boys is crucial.  I was so happy once I discovered the ALMIGHTY PODCAST!  Perfect for listening as a family during a meal or on one of the car rides to the many classes around town.  

I've also included my favorite podcasts. I love to listen while driving, doing chores or running. I find them inspiring, educational and they give me "food for thought" as I move through my day.  I often don't get the chance to have conversations with adults, so I found a passive way to have engaging conversations (even if it is just in my mind) ;).  

If you have an iphone you can easily do a search on your Podcast App and subscribe to the following podcasts.  Super simple and allows you to listen no matter where you are!  

KIDS PODCASTS

The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd - High energy, funny & entertaining, adventures that are filled with historical & local facts, this one keep my boys attention and is their #1 go to when requesting a story.  There are even a few that feature places that we've visited or touch on subjects that we are exploring in our homeschooling, total win-win!

The Radio Adventures Of Dr. Floyd has steadily built listenership with wacky tales of the World’s Most Brilliant Scientist, Dr. Floyd, as he races through history, hot on the heels of his arch nemesis, Dr. Steve. The show is breaking ground in the world of family entertainment and is in development as a TV Show and Feature Film.

Wow in the World - I absolutely LOVE this one, the dynamics (and jokes) between Mindy & Guy are hysterical, keeping you laughing as you explore science.  Great for longer car rides as each episode is about 30 minutes.

*Warning* the phrase "Bonker Balls" is insanely contagious & fun to say and you will find your entire family referencing this phrase multiple times a day.... see I told you ;)

Hosted by NPR: Wow in the World is a podcast and a new way for families to connect, look up and discover the wonders in the world around them. Through a combination of careful scientific research and fun, we'll go inside our brains, out into space, and deep into the coolest new stories in science and technology

Tumble Science Podcast for Kids - Can you tell we love science around here? ;)

Tumble is a science podcast for kids, to be enjoyed by the entire family. We tell stories about science discoveries, with the help of scientists!  Join Lindsay and Marshall as they ask questions, share mysteries, and share what science is all about.

Sparkle Stories Podcast - These are perfect bedtime stories or when you are trying to quiet the energy.  Soothing voices and sweet stories offer a wonderful reprieve from a busy day.

Sparkle Stories are simple, delightful, and filled with a sense of wonder. They inspire children to play, to marvel, to laugh, and to be kind. You'll never need to worry about inappropriate content, as we craft each of our stories to be perfect for young ears.

Storynory - A wonderful selection of fairytales, myths, world, classical stories

Stories Podcast - The Stories Podcast was created to provide family-friendly content to families on the go, Always free, the podcast is a great way to entertain kids on the go and limit screen time while encouraging imaginations.

Go Zen Anxiety Relief for Kids - Short & Sweet Mindful Minutes for Kids.  My kids love these short little meditations and enthusiastically find their eye pillows and throw their legs up the wall as they wait for me to press play. I also found extra engagement & excitement from the kids when they made their own eye pillows (have them hand sew a piece felt, tissues as stuffing & rubber bands as the strap, super simple & works great). I also highly recommend you join them!

 MOM PODCASTS

A mix of entertaining, inspirational & educational podcasts.  Some of us also have some sort of passion, hobby, or side hustle... the last three are wonderful for fanning that entrepreneurial flame that may be burning deep within.

This American Life  Mostly we do journalism, but an entertaining kind of journalism that’s built around plot. In other words, stories! Our favorite sorts of stories have compelling people at the center of them, funny moments, big feelings, surprising plot twists, and interesting ideas. Like little movies for radio. 

TED Radio Hour TED Radio Hour is a journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, and new ways to think and create.

Family Adventure Podcast - Wish you could get away but don't have time?  Need some inspiration to get out there?  These families will take you away!!

Oprah's Super Soul Conversations - Does Oprah really need an explanation?  Nuff said ;)

Biz Chix - encourages, educates, and promotes entrepreneurial women with educational content and training, a community support system, masterminding, coaching, and events.

The Yoga Healer Real Life Show - I listen to this one religiously  I just love the practicality & focus on ways to take your yoga OFF the mat.  On Mondays, practical holistic tips to integrate (yoga/ayurvedic based) self care into your day to day. Holistic wellness business tips on Thursdays.

The Shameless Mom Academy - Motherhood is a challenge. Daily. Being shameless is required if you want to build a life and a legacy you love. I am here to give you the tools to bridge the gap between motherhood and living the life of your dreams.

 

HAVE YOUR OWN FAVORITES? 

SHARE WITH US & WE'LL ADD IT TO THE LIST!

The Curse of the Caregiver

We have all been witness to or have actually experienced the curse of the caregiver ourselves. As a nurse, mother, wife, daughter, yoga teacher... this has been a running theme not only in my life but that I see over and over again in those around me.  The ability to give and give and give... yet never receive (even often adamantly refusing offers of care or help from others).  Our identity & (self) perceived value is delicately wrapped in our ability to effectively care for others.  And though there is deep well of care, compassion & empathy for those who receive our care... we do not afford the same kindness to ourselves.  Our own need for care can often be fueled by thoughts of failure, self judgement or selfishness.  This one way flow of energy often quickly leads to overwhelm, resentment and burnout.

Though some may heavily identify with this role as caregiver and even choose it as their profession, many end up in this role by default, through societal expectations or family demands.  We often assume these positions without much thought, but when we reach the point of burnout, we suddenly realize we may not necessarily have the tools to skillfully navigate this role. 

So how DO we navigate this role skillfully? 

Self care seems to be so misunderstood & dismissed as self indulgent, expensive, or time consuming.  Visions of luxurious massages, drinks by the poolside, lazy days on the beach, dinners out, or overwhelmingly complex self-care routines may come to mind.

True self care comes in the small decisions we make everyday...

  • Infusing our after shower routine of applying oil or lotion with thoughtful touch & positive self talk, giving gratitude for all the amazing gifts our bodies afford us.
  • Taking the time to cook nourishing meals that will sustain us during our hectic demanding days.  Food is grounding, sustaining us both energetically & emotionally throughout our day.   Putting high demands on our bodies without the proper food to sustain us leave us feeling anxious, erratic & easily overwhelmed by the end of the day. 
  • Moving - whether a bit of yoga, a 5 min stretch between tasks, a quick run or a walk with the family.  Finding small moments for joyful movement. Movement is also grounding and a wonderful way to flush ourselves with new vibrant energy, releasing tensions & processing emotions as we move through our day.
  • Connecting deeply with others, allowing a sense of vulnerability for them AND you.  This is where the gold is!  Knowing you are not alone in your experiences & struggles is invaluable.  When we allow ourselves to be open with others we then enter a shared experience vs. feeling as though you alone in your struggles or are solely carrying the burden of others.
  • Prioritizing sleep.  Our bodies are incredibly complex and powerful, but they need sleep to release, replenish & renew.  Allowing your body to cleanse & heal itself by allowing time for adequate sleep is crucial.  
  • Voicing your needs.  Not only identifying your needs (many times we can quickly rattle off what we need) but also voicing these needs to those in your daily circle.  Once known these needs can now be integrated into the day to day flow.  Time can be set aside, tasks can be delegated, care can be given when others are aware of your needs.  The saying "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" sound familiar ;)!?  We have a responsibility to ourselves and to those closest to us to be healthy & happy.  

Theses small changes may not seem very glamorous, but they are powerful.  Many of these "tasks" (showering, cooking, etc.)  are already part of your daily routine.  It is the ability to bring in a sense of care, candor & intention into our daily routine that can make all of the difference.  Allowing ourselves to be a priority, checking in daily with ourselves to assess our current needs & trusting that we will attend to our own needs is imperative in learning to be a skillful caregiver.  

As we learn to regard our own health with as much importance and care as we do others, we will notice that our ability to be of service & to genuinely connect will soar.  There is much joy one can find in being of service to others.  The trouble is when we are in service of others, in spite of ourselves.  It needs to be a packaged deal.  We must learn to give to others because we know how to take care of ourselves.  To lead by example and allow ourselves to not only identify but also own our self-care needs.  Allowing them to become woven into the structure of our daily habits, into the flow and rhythm of our day.  This precious act will help not only us thrive, but also for others to thrive as we all learn to value and care for ourselves and each other in an more authentic and sustainable way.

 

What's Your Why? 5 Simple Steps to Understanding your Hunger Cues

5 SIMPLE STEPS TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR HUNGER CUES

In our hectic and hurried world it can feel about as clear as mud.  As we move through our day we are constantly bombarded with a flurry of emotions, overstimulating environments, over scheduling and unrelenting demands.  It can be difficult to decipher what exactly you are feeling let alone why!  

With these 5 simple steps, you'll be able to do a quick scan & accurately be able to identify your hunger cues.  It is an invaluable tool to be able to have the ability to identify what is happening in our bodies at any given time (also known as interoceptive awareness)  & respond appropriately to it's needs.  Food, alcohol, t.v., coffee, wine & other substances are often a quick fix for what the body is truly needing... sleep, nourishing food, connection, quiet, touch or movement.  

So let's break it down...

Emotional Hunger is a desire to eat (or not eat) to change a feeling state.

Physical Hunger is the desire to eat to nourish oneself.

The definitions may be clear BUT...

It can be very confusing to know exactly what the driving force is when it comes to feeling hunger.  It's easy to simply grab a bite to eat whenever the urge hits us, as it can immediately soothe and provide a sense of grounding, but in order to understand what our body and mind are truly craving, we need to break it down.  Emotional eating is not uncommon, we use food all the time as a way to celebrate (birthdays) or to console (sickness or death) one another. Emotional eating can become an issue though when food is your sole source of comfort.

Learning to quiet our mind & body in order to recognize our bodies subtle (or not so subtle) cues is the key to differentiating between EMOTIONAL VS. PHYSICAL hunger.

Take a moment-  take a few breaths, scan your body and ask yourself these

5 KEY QUESTIONS- WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY

WHO- Who is around? Are you comfortable to eat anywhere or are you eating in isolation or secrecy?

WHAT - What does your food craving look like?  Is it VERY specific (salty chips, a need to crunch, chocolate, mom's homemade cake) and nothing else will do? Or is it more general, you have preferences but it's not the end of the world.

WHERE - Where in your body are you noticing sensation?  Is your belly rumbling, gurgling, having hunger pangs? Is there an intense need to chew or taste?  A heaviness, sinking, fluttering feeling, or pain in the chest?

WHEN- Does the hunger come in sporadic waves or on a predictable schedule?  Is there a misplaced sense of urgency?  A neutral tone around eating? Does it come on suddenly or in a gradual, progressive manner?

WHY- Does the hunger feel insatiable or proportionately satiable?  Are you aware of any intense or uncomfortable feelings or situations that might be contributing to a need to comfort yourself?  

Hunger cues are not as clear and concise as their definitions, but you'll notice that you will weigh in heavier on one side or the other.  Once the verdict is in, now you can make a conscious decision that is best for BOTH your body and mind.  Emotional eating is a red flag that your emotional needs are not being met and is why you are reaching for food to soothe and comfort yourself.  It is in these moments of awareness that you have the opportunity to take a deeper look and nourish your entire being by noticing that what you may be truly craving is self-compassion, connection, movement, validation or love.

In my upcoming workshop What's Your Why? Reverse Engineering Your Habits we'll be diving deep into understanding not only our hunger cues but also learning how to navigate the nervous system, developing practices to build your interoceptive awareness using breath and gentle yoga.  By learning to identify your true why, you are then able to build more sustainable and embodied practices to regulate your nervous system and truly meet your bodies needs.  I invite you to join us on this dynamic journey & bring the New Year in together!

 

"Food nourishes the body; love nourishes the Soul."

- Dr. Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Physician


 

The Method & Madness of Kaizen

The strategic, slow, step by step method of Kaizen (small incremental steps towards improvement) is one of the most effective ways to create deep and lasting change… and it can also be the most maddening.  When we find ourselves fed up, the desperation for change building in our chests, we want to explode.  We promise ourselves… this time, this time it WILL be different and I’ll be able to overcome all odds and change (insert unwanted habit here).  We want there to be a drastic shift in our existence (preferably in the next 24 hours please!).  Hoping that in our desperate need for change a similarly drastic shift in our daily experiences will happen.  This unfortunately isn’t usually the case (think back to your last New Year’s resolution).  Though our efforts are heroic, they are not sustainable.

This. This, is where my life lesson begins and continues.  It is through years of trial and error, of desperation and (short lived) elation, I have learned the deep value of this simple concept of Kaizen.  How creating small actionable steps, underwhelming goals for myself, along with a healthy dose of self-compassion has helped me to create habits of true and lasting change.  It has guided my daily habits (eating, exercise, self-care) as well as my yoga practice.  Learning to listen to my body when it comes to its need to move and be nourished, honoring my need for quiet and stillness and setting compassionate goals for myself is a lifelong practice.  When anxiousness sets in and old patterns take over, I come back again and again to the concept of Kaizen.  Assessing honestly where I am (body, mind &spirit) and what steps I can truly commit to in order to move towards a more joyful, connected and grounded life.  These small steps are what allow me to return again and again to a place of peace and acceptance.  Allowing myself to celebrate with each step forward I take, rather than beating myself up for not reaching a goal that was truly unobtainable in the first place.

Finding balance as we navigate our complex lives may feel elusive at times.  Allowing ourselves to honestly assess where we are in the moment and create realistic goals for ourselves (create underwhelming goals, for example: going to bed 5 min earlier, stretching for 2 min every morning (lacing up shoes can count as long as there’s intention behind it!), eating a warm breakfast once a week.) will help to create a positive feedback loop.  As we take one step closer towards balance, we step deeper into integrity and not only embrace but honor who we are truly meant to be.  This slow and steady progress will create deep and lasting changes and a method to the madness of finding our center over and over again.

Let’s support each other as we navigate the messiness of life.  Coming “home” again and again, one step at a time!