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.

love-yourself

Build Community with a Solid Foundation

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My dad was a carpenter who built houses from the ground up. He knew a house was only as strong and durable as its foundation. If any of the columns were off kilter, then so was the house. Each column stood alone, but also in conjunction with the others to support what was built on top.

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This concept of a solid foundation is integral to an empowering yoga practice. Each of us can stand alone, but the energy skyrockets when we are together. Each of us holds the other up. If our individual foundation, our True North alignment is off then we are not as strong as we could be.

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Thanks to the influences of two of my favorite yoga sisters, Kayla Marie and Jess Padula, I have been reading Brene’ Brown’s latest book. I have enjoyed her other books, but this one is making me think all the way down to my personal foundation.

She writes about True Belonging. My interpretation is being my authentic self, living in my True North, speaking and acting in my truth not only when I’m alone, but also when I am with my community. Wilderness is her main theme and that “Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness–an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching.” (36) The wilderness can be scary, but we brave it to stand in our truth.

In order to build my community of writers, martial artists, yogis, family, cancer patients, etc. I have to be willing and able to stand in my truth, living my life with authenticity. In order to do that, I need to know what I believe in, what I value, who I am, what matters to me, and how all this leads me along my soul’s path.

Even though that path may change, my internal truth and compass stay the same. Only when I am standing in my truth, can I serve as a solid foundation in my community. When we all stand in our truths, we create an unshakable foundation, made up of unique, beautiful, amazing, and special people who are not afraid to be who they are.

This doesn’t mean that I live in perfection. The truth is I am far from perfect and I am perfectly fine with that! I am vulnerable. I hurt. I make mistakes. I fail. But I do all that, because I refuse to live a false life. I refuse to live the life that others think I should live, because it fits into their plans.

When we stand in our truth as a community, we are like the trees from Peter Wohlleben’s book, The Hidden Life of Trees. Our roots combine, we support and lean on each other simultaneously, and we revel in one another’s growth.

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So where does that leave us? How do we find out who we are? Journaling is one of the ways I have identified my truths. You can do the same. Here are some prompts to get you started:

What and who matters to you? Career? Partner? Children? Family?

What do value? Friendship? Family? Success? Honesty?

What is something that you never compromise? Your word? Honor? Promises? Reliability?

How would you describe yourself? Kind? Hard working? Compassionate? Stubborn?

Daily journaling shows us what really matters. Journal for seven days in a row about whatever comes to your mind. At the end of the week review what you have written. You will read about what is really important to you or what is preventing you from being your true self. It may be a combination, but you are on your way to your authentic self.

Also, I highly recommend reading both of these books!

 

Community–Gratitude Day 11

Today I am grateful for the amazing communities I have connected with over the years. They have transformed me, supported me, helped me grow, and become stronger.

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The library and community of writers that I get to work and create with are the most encouraging and open-minded people I know. I am grateful to have an amazing group of writers who critique my writing and make me a better writer.

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My yoga community has kicked my butt, twisted my insides out, and flipped me upside down all while teaching me how to breathe and love myself. I have never seen such an accepting group of people. I can walk into any yoga studio anywhere and feel like I have been there for years. It’s transforming and empowering.

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My karate community challenges me every time I’m on the mat. The life lessons I have gained, the family that has become my own, and the foundation that we have built has sustained me through some of my hardest moments in life. They accept my goofiness, push me beyond what I think I can do, and literally kick my butt so that I’m safe on the street.

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The childhood cancer community is a balance of devastation vs. compassion and love. I would have never thought that losing a child to cancer would expand my family in such an incredible way. Cancer is absolutely horrible and if I could I would find a cure tomorrow and wish my boy back. But in the midst of horror, sadness, and pain, we as a community choose to find joy and have hope. That is the strongest definition of community.

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Family. It’s an old photo, but a damn good one. So much has changed in 12 years, but my family is my heart and has taught me the power of community.

Community: come bring unity to all. For all my communities, I am grateful

What are you Waiting For?

My last post was about crossroads, winding paths, and the roadmap to your purpose. If you didn’t yet, write down what you are passionate about, what you love to do, what is important to you, what do you value, and list your positive characteristics–at least 5. Writing about ourselves can be the hardest thing to do. But when we know ourselves, we know our path.

Next, if you couldn’t fail, what would you do? This is scary, because we think failing is the worst thing we can do. If we fail, we are somehow less of a person. This fear becomes an obstacle, a big wall that we can’t get around. In his book, Let Me Out: Unlock your Creative Mind and Bring your Ideas to Life, Peter Himmelman introduces MARV (Majorly Afraid of Revealing Vulnerability).

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He writes, “The fear that we feel when we try something new, something particularly challenging, isn’t some petty worry; it’s actually a mortal fear. . . . Marv isn’t trying to hurt us; he’s trying to save our skins.” (6)

Fear is a powerful enemy. But, the more we fail, the more we learn and grow. Easy to write that down, but hard to digest. We are afraid of being vulnerable and weak. It is practically wired in our DNA and forced on us by society.

It’s also our ego. In his book, Being of Power: The 9 Practices to Ignite an Empowered Life, Baron Baptiste’s second practice is Release the Concern for Looking Good. He writes, “For us, failure isn’t about an unachieved task, a relationship that didn’t work out, or a poorly taught or practiced yoga class. It’s about what it means to us if we’re considered a failure and how others see us.” (19)

Being of Power

I read this chapter the night before my third degree black belt test. I felt a lot of pressure to succeed and not embarrass anyone and myself. But after I read this chapter, I knew that my greatest gift was to be authentic and come from a place of power and confidence. Instead of doing my best, I was myself. I not only succeeded, I felt empowered. It was life changing, but then I forget and go back behind that wall of fear.

If I couldn’t fail, didn’t worry about what anyone thought, and was completely myself, I would write full-time to regularly publish my books and develop my writing classes into a program to help others find their voice and purpose. My purpose is to create an environment of hope and empowerment, to soften the harshness of reality, and to entertain with my words. I also want to provide the space and tools for others to follow their paths and live their purpose. When I think about this, I see it, I feel the joy and excitement, the authenticity of it all. But then that dang fear seeps in and makes me doubt myself. I fill my time with distractions and make excuses.

We spend our whole lives wishing and hoping for our dreams to come true. But what are we waiting for? Someone else to do it? That’s not going to happen! All we need is within us right now.

Once you know your purpose, what makes your spirit soar, call out that obstacle, that fear. Identify it. Stare it down.

Part of my fear is that people won’t like what I write. That’s my ego talking and not my spirit. If I write from my truth, my intuition, then the people who need the words will get it or hopefully be entertained.

My other obstacle is how I spend my time. I am not the best in organizing my time. It get distracted with the laundry, walking the dogs, etc. It’s the downside of working from home.

But it’s also the physical distractions. Yes, my office is in disarray once again. I run Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation that helps kids with cancer. Talk about having a dual purpose, although I see this more as a mission. The kids, teens, young adults, and their families could hugely benefit from what I want to share and teach. These purposes can co-exist. I only have to break down that wall.

I’m lucky I know my purpose. I have worked hard to figure it out through self-inquiry, journaling, and trial and error. Mostly, it’s my gut that tells me.

So what are you waiting for?

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What is your purpose? Do the work, live your life fully and powerfully. Stand in your truth.

Break down your own obstacle, no matter what it is.

Then act on it. Tell someone, because once you send it out, the universe will help you.

 

 

Loving Yourself

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I placed this sticker in my journal, because I agreed with the concept, but am not always sure that I follow it. I also thought of the quote, “Love yourself as much as you love others.”

It’s hard to give self-care, but as soon as a good friend or family member is in trouble or needs support I drop everything and am right there. If they are down, I’ll be their biggest cheerleader, and show them how special and unique they are.

When it comes to myself, I have gotten much better, but I will still see all that I haven’t done when I have really accomplished so much. When that happens, looking back to my journal can give me perspective on what I have actually done and the good I have created around me. It also is a clear cut guide on what I have done for myself in terms of self-care.

This is what happened in my life last week:

Pig Roast fundraiser prep and clean up

Lost a wonderful young man to cancer and attended the wake

Prepared for Nick’s Run and Nick’s Ride to be Healed

Set up for writing classes, finalized middle grade novel

Taught journal workshop

Took my mom to appointments and went to a calligraphy class with my niece

Celebrated end of treatment for Bella!

Held a motorcycle fundraiser

The entire week was non-stop action in terms of all I had to get done and support I gave to others. It was a rollercoaster of happy and sad.

Here are some types of self-care that I practice:

Yoga

Weight training/Karate

Meditation

Journaling

Massage

Reading

Walk my dogs

Time with friends and family

Protect my space

Since the weekend before this last, I practiced yoga 4 times, and did other exercise twice, so not bad. I didn’t meditate once! I journaled every day and sometimes twice a day, and that is a huge calming practice for me. No massage. I have listened to an audiobook, but haven’t sat and read in quite a while.

I missed walking the dogs a couple days, because of rain and a lot of fundraising events and prep.

This past Saturday, my husband and I had an impromptu get together with two sets of our good friends. I could have kept doing work, since I’m so behind, but I needed the break. I think it made a huge difference the next day when we had a motorcycle fundraiser. The day was wonderful, and my frame of mind was positive. I also have made sure to spent moments with my son as he will be leaving for school soon.

Protecting my space is huge for me with self-care. I work hard to surround myself with positive people. When working with kids battling cancer, there are very sad situations, and I feel strongly about reaching out. When I do, I’m drained, I miss my son, and the sadness can overtake me. That is when I take the time to recharge by doing whatever self-care works for me in that moment. I have to take care of myself and love myself enough to show empathy and love to those who are suffering.

When I take care of myself and feel good about myself, then I attract positive people who will show me the same kind of love. What you think you deserve is usually what you get. We all deserve to be loved, but we have to believe it and act like it.

Self-care and surrounding myself with positive people and energy has made a huge difference, but it is a constant practice.

How do you show self love? What do you do for self-care, how often? If you don’t, what small step could you take? Track it in your journal and take note of what changes in your life.

 

What Grounds You

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For the last fews days the topic of forming my physical foundation and grounding myself has come into play. Much of what I physically do requires a solid foundation. In yoga, whatever is touching the floor is my foundation and connection to the earth.  Even today in class, when we were on our back, Jess expressed the needs to press every part of my body into the mat to feel connection and draw strength from it.

In martial arts, my feet are my guide as I smoothly and unobtrusively step across the floor to not give away my next move or have a strong foothold before I kick.

Even in boxing, I am repeatedly told, establish my footing before I hit my target.

My feet, my hands, whatever connects to the earth is my foundation, my center. But what grounds me? What keeps me on my feet and centered when life is off kilter? My breathing has become a huge part of what keeps me grounded. It’s a calming tool that I can use anywhere and provides the space for me to think before I react.

My family grounds me by keeping my head out of the clouds. They connect me to what is important and remind me of where my priorities are.

My spirituality and beliefs are a huge part of my inner foundation. I know I am forever connected my son, Nick, and that is a surety that gets me through the hardest days.

Having a strong foundation that you can root down into when a storm is brewing helps you weather even the most devastating ones. So it’s vital to have it established. It’s like living in a hurricane prone area in a tent. Your foundation is never going to hold.

What is your emotional, physical, spiritual foundation? What do you connect with and how do you root down when life is trying to tear you up?