Building Emotional Strength

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

janineandjess
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

loveyourself

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.

love-yourself

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!