Permission to Fail

What if we grew up in a world where we were told it was alright to fail? Oh the possibilities and life lessons that would arise. We would be a society of adventurers and optimists never worrying about what others thought or being embarrassed.

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I ventured to Lynn’s Baptiste class at noon today. Sorry I cut off your face, Lynn, but I want to get the message out that this is a class to attend. After working all morning, I wanted movement, and Lynn’s class was just what I needed.

The messages that flow from yoga can be life-changing if we let them in. Today in tree pose, Lynn basically gave us permission to fail. She wanted us to flow, rise, and bend enough in this pose so that we fell over. This threw me off a bit, and at first I had a hard time getting into the pose. But then I reached down to form my foundation and lifted up stretching my tree toward the ceiling. It felt good, so I reached back further and then a little more, surprised by how far back I was able to go. I kept reaching. Then I fell over.

I went back into it, but kept couldn’t get my balance. It didn’t feel like failure, because Lynn was there. She said it was alright to fall over. It happens to everyone, but what happens internally is what gets us. We become self-conscious, angry with ourselves, and often don’t try again. Who wants to embarrass themselves in front of everyone else by falling?

But as Lynn said, what would happen if you laughed and went back into it? What would happen if instead of putting yourself down, you showed compassion for you? If my friend fell over, I wouldn’t call her a yogi fail, I would encourage her to try again. So why is it so hard for us to do that for ourselves?

I’m glad I ‘failed’ today, because I went deeper into the pose than I ever do. That was the purpose. Through that failure, I found success. I found compassion for me.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?

What would happen if you tried something and did fail? How would you show yourself compassion? Think about a time when someone you loved failed, write down what you did or said to them.

What have you learned from your failures?

I learned today that laughter is the best way to get me back into a pose. Don’t take myself so seriously and go with the flow. After all, we are like the oak tree. We may bend, but we won’t break.

I’m Ready

My journal entries are often inspired by authors whose words resonate with me. I completely agree that you will connect with a book in different ways depending on where you are in your life. I picked up Cheryl Richardson’s book, Waking Up in Winter, because of the sub-title: In Search of What Really Matters in Mid-life. I figured I could connect to some of it. Plus it was written in journal form, and since I’m working on a book about journaling. I thought I could get some insight.

 

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On page 23, she writes about how saying no after always saying yes can rock the boat of life. For those who start saying no, it can be very positive, but those “around them get upset and start questioning the new behavior because change feels scary and unsettling to the safe and familiar tribe.” (23)

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I have taken to opening a page daily in Melody Beattie’s book, Journey to the Heart. This morning I read a passage called, Are You Ready, Willing, & Able? (283) It’s dated for October 1. Significant month for me. I read it out loud to my dogs. They need daily inspiration as well! When I finished, Dakota my 105 pound rescue placed his paw on the book and stared at me. “OK!” I said. “I am ready, willing, and able!”

Melody’s entry was about being ready to get what I want. Once I know what I want I have to tell a friend, shout it out to the world, and probably let my dogs know. Then watch how I feel about it, observe what obstacles jump in my path, the fears, doubts, and distractions that prevent me from being ready.

Hmm. When two books collide to push me along my path, I have to listen. I have written about my amazing tribe. Some might clamor for me to say ‘no’ more while others might wonder what is wrong with me.

Even as I write this, huge blocks are being thrown in my way. It’s because I’m a people pleaser. I hate to disappoint even if my soul’s purpose is dying on the side of the road. The one word I would change in Melody’s passage is ‘want.’ It’s not about getting what I want. It’s about getting what I ‘need.’

Through the many years of journaling, yoga, and deep soul searching, I have learned my path is led by my words. I was meant to be a writer, to share my stories, to entertain, to offer hope. In addition, I need to share my craft with others, so that they can find their own voice, healing, and purpose.

I was on that path 10 years ago when my son became ill. Yes, I have continued to write, publish, and teach, but I need to do it more. I need to jump in and submerge myself in this world of words to follow the path I veered from 10 years ago.

Ironically, the foundation that my husband and I started in memory of Nick is in line with my passion to write. My words have helped families battling cancer. I have written about the inspiring stories that move me. I can still do this, but I have to make space for more of it.

Don’t worry, Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation is still here. But we are changing some of our focus based on what the children, young adults and families need emotionally when facing a cancer diagnosis or to heal from losing a child. How fortunate for me that my gift of expression can fulfill my mission to help children with cancer and beyond.

But to do this, I have to say no to other opportunities within the foundation, within my life, and people’s expectations of me. I know I will disappoint some and that is a block I am learning to set aside. Remember my prompt on Emotional Strength? If you need training on how to remove a block, check that one out.

Sharing that I am growing my writing and teaching career is scary, but it’s so exciting. I have characters and worlds in me clawing to get out. I have a support system that lifts me daily and urges me to follow this journey. If you notice this shift, know that nothing is wrong. Just like my husband and I encouraged our boys to live fulfilling lives, I am doing the same.

Letting go of other’s expectations of me and following my heart is truly the greatest gift I can give to myself and the world.

What are you ready, willing, and able to do now?

What have you recently said yes to that made your stomach twist? What would you have liked to say?

When can you say no, in order to create space for what you need to do?

How would you feel?

What is blocking you? Why?

Start small and build up that NO muscle. It gets easier the more you say it and the more you fill your space with what nourishes you.

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my dad’s birthday: Salvatore Joseph De Tillio, born February 19, 1940. He would have been 78 years old today. When I see my Uncle Charlie and Uncle Nick, I get a sense of what my dad would look like. Their mannerisms, voice, and soothing manner remind me so much of him.

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Dad at 13 months, March 23, 1941

Besides photos, our stories keep our loved ones alive in our minds. They explain where we get a certain mannerism from or whose genes are responsible for that cowlick or those brown eyes. We understand why we are driven to a certain purpose even if we never met that person. Stories help us to connect. Photos create curiosity.

Where was my father in the above photo? Who was the woman on the left and the two younger girls? Were they walking past and saw someone taking a photo, stopped to avoid getting in the picture, but were captured anyway? Maybe they were one of the first photo bombers. If they were, they are definitely my relations!

Or are they relatives who are adoring my dad, happy to be out on a spring day, even though there is still a chill in the air? The younger girl on the left appears to be wearing roller skates. That brings me back to how I often raced up and down the sidewalks on Long Island in mine. Also how many times I sprained my ankles while rollerskating, which has been a lifelong occurrence.

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Dad at 3 years old. May, 1943

Dad was always a smart dresser. I have a hat of his that looks just like the one he’s wearing. My son, Nick, wore it to his chorus concert in 7th grade, along with his Poppa’s Flintstone tie as we called it.

Again the photo raises the question of where is he standing? Who is taking the picture? Was he going somewhere or coming home from a fun event? He looks like such a sweet boy and very happy!

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The calm demeanor of my dad in this photo is a reflection of how he lived his life. He was very mellow until it was time to not be mellow. I don’t know how old he is in the photo or whose house he is in. But I see resemblances to my boys and nephews in the shape of his eyes, nose and face. My dad lives in me, my children, nieces, and nephews.

I never knew my grandfathers, and I wanted my boys to know their Poppa. Unfortunately, he died too young, but I hope that his stories can bring him to life.

The best stories about my dad was how he always put his family first. He was the first to protect and lived by a very strong code of honor. That might be why I like stories about knights and superheroes. He was both in my eyes and larger than life.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Missing you and love you always.

Building Emotional Strength

This morning, I attended Jessica Padula’s 90-minute Hot Baptiste Beats yoga class at Clifton Park’s Hot Yoga Spot.

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Janine and Jess, Baptiste sisters!

I wish I had taken a photo of us together after today’s class, because even though this one symbolizes our connectedness, today’s would have displayed our emotional strength.

Class started with a reading about spinning your wheels and getting stuck where you don’t want to be. Sometimes we have to dig in and kick hard enough to get where we really need to be. We don’t get there by waving a magic wand. We get there through determination, self-inquiry, and doing the work.

But how do we know where we are going? How do we build the necessary muscles to make such an important journey? How do we know what to pack?

The power in yoga is breaking down to break through and build ourselves up when we are stuck in that deep rut. This rut can be caused by a countless number of things. Grief, loss, depression, low self-esteem, abuse, addiction, the world around us, and the list can go on and on.

Jess compared building our emotional strength to lifting weights. When we lift, we actually cause mini-tears in our muscles that then connect back together to become stronger and bigger. But there has to be a balance. If we keep lifting a large amount every single day, then our muscles never heal. We will cause damage and be in pain.

She explained that this is the same with emotional strength. But here is the most important part. Jess said, “Emotional strength doesn’t mean being numb.” If we deny and avoid the tears, the pain gets deeper, and the damage can be permanent.

I have always been open about losing my son, Nick, to cancer. This year is 10 years since he was diagnosed and passed away. For a large part of those 10 years, I ignored those tears and stuffed down the pain of not being able to see my son, talk to him, or hold him. It’s a heavy burden to bear, and some of the damage may very well be permanent. A broken heart, an ache that never goes away, and a sadness that waits for another opportunity to show its face can throw me off for days.

Every time something reminds me of Nick or I comfort another family who has lost their child to cancer, a small emotional tear forms. Whether it’s in my heart, my soul, my body, it affects me mentally, emotionally, and physically. I have often ignored that tear by numbing out: eating foods that aren’t good for me so I feel the physical pain of a stomach ache, instead of the hurt in my heart; I take on so many activities, create more events to plan and attend I don’t have downtime; I make it my absolute purpose to fix anything and everything from someone’s relationship, to organizing someone’s wedding, to healing a person’s depression, so I can save someone.

I do all this, because if I ever opened up to the full scope of my loss, those tears would become rips. Don’t get me wrong, I love helping people and being in service. But I wasn’t taking care of myself or being in service to me and my purpose.

Over the last three years, I have become aware of those tears and how I react to them. I found relief through yoga to heal the physical pain. But it was by journaling that I understood how I could face the emotional tear, heal it, and build my emotional strength. Jess’ analogy perfectly described what yoga and journaling does for me.

My yoga practice and the empowering community created a safe space for me to cause the tear in my emotions, just as if I was lifting weights. I don’t know how many times I have broken down in class and left feeling lighter, but drained. Through journaling I am able to work with that tear. What caused the break down? What is blocking me, holding me back, how am I not supporting my purpose or exercising self-care. By acknowledging the tear and being alright with the fact that it was there helped me to soothe it. Eventually my writing released the spasm of pain and strengthened my heart, so that I can walk alongside my loss and live my purpose.

It doesn’t end with yoga. Today was an emotional class. I felt the pain of my fellow practitioners, and I wanted to go to them and comfort. But I stayed in my practice and shared my energy without causing myself irreversible pain and tears.

So I say to anyone who feels those emotional tears, write about it. Release the toxins that are hurting you. Understand where they come from. By nursing each emotional tear, we build the strength to deal with all that life may put in our path. The combination of yoga and journaling has strengthened me emotionally to the point where I know what balm will heal my heart and soul.

Thank you, Jess, for living your truth and sharing it with our incredible yoga community.

What are your emotional tears?

What caused them?

What ways have you avoided your emotions or numbed out to the tears?

How has that affected you physically, mentally and emotionally?

What can you do right now to heal one tear?

What else do you do to build your emotional strength? What tools do you use?

Love Yourself as You Are

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Because of the snowy weather, my journaling workshop at the library has been cancelled, but this doesn’t mean we can’t journal together!

February is the month of hearts, love, and romance. Not everyone partakes in these festivities, and this month or Valentine’s Day can actually be sad and lonely for some of us.

My theme of Finding Purpose and putting dreams into action has to start with the most important step you will ever take in your life. Loving Yourself. This has been popping up all over the place, so I know I need to write about it.

I love the quote by Steve Maraboli where you have to love yourself enough to take action required for your happiness. How we feel about ourselves affects every decision we make. Take personal health. In restorative yoga this morning, Instructor Jess spoke about accepting your body where it is right now, not how it was yesterday or how it may be tomorrow. And not only accepting it, but being grateful for your body and your beautiful legs that carry you throughout the day.

This was perfect for me, because I woke up feeling very creaky! I’ve been working out, trying to get in better shape, and eat right. In class, I felt tight and was actually mad at myself for not making quicker progress. Then Jess said to breathe through the pose. I not only breathed through the pigeon pose, I also worked through that self-doubt and anti-love. I was working so hard on putting myself down, I forgot about how amazing my body is. How it gave birth to two babies and carried them through childhood. How I biked 100 miles for a charity or earned my karate belts by physically defending myself. Or how I sit for hours and use my fingers to type words from my heart. How my arms hold others in love and comfort. How I am alive, healthy, and able to walk up a flight of stairs.

For your journal prompt, take each part of the above quote and write about it:

*Write about the amazing ways your body supports you and what it has done in your life.

*What action can you take to be happy in any part of your life today? It can be as simple as reading a book, calling a friend, taking the time to journal or play in the snow if you have some, ride the waves if you live near a beach.

*What is holding you back from your past? What story are you holding on to? Can you write the ending where you say goodbye or have closure? Who in your life is filling yours with drama? Is it time to let them loose?

*What are you looking for in a relationship? This could be with a partner, your current spouse, family or friends. You deserve to not only love yourself unconditionally, but to be loved that way as well.

*How do you want to feed your mind? Go back to school? Read a book? Learn a language or draw, sing, etc.

*What physical activity can you partake in to make you feel good? Do you want to join a gym, take kickboxing, dance, yoga, martial arts, biking, meditation, walks. The sky is the limit. Movement means happiness!

*What do you need to forgive yourself for? Can you write yourself a letter? Can you have empathy for yourself like you would have for a friend? Putting that guilt aside, perhaps knowing that you cannot change what happened, but be with it, and give yourself a break is enough for now. Not forgiving yourself is one of the heaviest burdens we can bear.

*What is one step you can take today to loving yourself? This is a long list of questions. Take what moves you today, write, and take action. Then tomorrow go to another or continue on the same one.

You are worth every moment of happiness, self-love, and joy. Believe it for yourself and have a beautiful day.

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January in Review

Before I jump into a new month I like to review where I have been. The power of journaling is in the self-inquiry and checking in to make sure I’m on the right path.

As far as using my journal for my calendar, this is the first time I laid out the entire month. I listed my goals for the month to keep my priorities up front and center. It helped me track what I had to do and spread it out through the month.

I added daily quotes, which inspired and were often self-fulfilling.

One of my goals for January was to write book two of The Puzzle Quests. I’m more than halfway through, but emphasizing it as a priority was motivation, and I plan to finish the draft this month.

Stephen was home during the beginning of the month for school break. That feels so long ago! This was a perfect example of being flexible and remembering my priority-him when he is home.

I’m at this awesome place in my life where I can focus on my business. Luke and I have our own goals and those that we share. We give each other the space we need to fulfill our dreams

I still struggle with too much on my plate. My journal keeps me accountable on how I spend my time. I need more downtime. I was out of the house 19 of 31 nights. Too much for me with working all day.

I started getting more exercise in and slowly adjusting my food to healthier choices.

In February I will continue to write and create, focusing on self-care. And of course Valentine’s Day! Have a fabulous month!