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My Birthday! Let’s Celebrate!

Tomorrow, I end my fiftieth year. Tomorrow, I celebrate a whole new year of adventures. To be clear, I LOVE being in my fifties. I LOVE the feeling of acceptance, release and surrender that comes with this decade. I feel like I’ve been preparing for this for a long, long time. I am not someone who dislikes or pushes aging away. I embrace it.

So, this is the time that I’m a little quiet as I remember the last 12 months and think about what the next 12 months holds for me.

This is a sacred time for me. I like to dig deep. I love to journal and meditate and make this week as mindful as possible. I also really, really like to celebrate.

Confession. I never celebrated turning 50. It kinda breaks my heart. I’m a big believer in birthdays and starting a new year.

So why didn’t I celebrate? This crazy year started a little earlier for me. On June 23rd 2019 I went to brunch with my love and my mom to celebrate turning 50. We had a lovely day. Later Steve took me out to hear Blues music with his brother-in-law and another friend. A lovely day all around, but the celebrating with my kids, the celebrating with my friends, the dancing, Prosecco and birthday cake never happened.

Normally I would celebrate a birthday for a good week, but this one, the big 5-0 was going to be a full month. Five days after my birthday, the love of my life, my sweet Steve, had a stroke. He was lucky. It was what’s called a TIA, a Trans Ischemic Attack. He had no deficits, no dysfunction, no permanent damage. It was a weekend in the hospital and then it was just a scare in our past.

However, it changed the shape of our summer drastically. The number of new doctors he has is impressive. The number of doctor’s appointments we had that first six months was astounding. We both felt huge gratitude for his health, but also a bit overwhelmed by the new normal. A TIA is a warning sign for most people.

So, I never celebrated. We also postponed our wedding. Steve’s memory wasn’t great, sometimes his processing was slow or difficult, both symptoms, that thankfully, completely reversed naturally. So 2019 was a weird year, right after another very hard and sad year.

Then? THEN the PANDEMIC hit! A pandemic!!! Realy? I mean, I know we shouldn’t be surprised, cause the CDC and WHO have been saying for at least 20 years that it’s coming and we’re not ready.

Then? Crazy people with guns storm the Michigan state capital and take to the streets in various cities. Then? The uprisings around justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others. Now, a possible second wave of, did I mention, a PANDEMIC!

The fear, love, anger, heart-opening, disgust, gratitude and pain is incredibly overwhelming. It feels like celebrations are suspended.

So, I never celebrated and now it just doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem like I should have a huge birthday. Should I let them stack up and just celebrate in three or four years in one big long weekend party?

I don’t know. I’m not sure that any of us know how to proceed in these days of uncertainty, also known as the new normal.

This I know. I know that I feel incredibly lucky, grateful, and honored to do the work that I do. I say this every year as I teach or see clients on my birthday. I didn’t teach on my birthday last year and it felt weird.

My students and friends often ask Why Are You Working On Your Birthday?!?! I tell them that I feel so grateful for my life that it feels right to spend it with the people that I’m most grateful for. So, I spend it with my family and I spend it with my students. Usually any celebrating with friends happens on the weekend or two after my birthday.

With that in mind, I’m changing some things up this week. On my birthday, June 23rd (tomorrow), I’m teaching Vinyasa online. Instead of Sunday morning at 10a, let’s practice Vinyasa together as a Birthday Practice on Tuesday at 10a. The Senior Chair Yoga practice at 11:30a is canceled, so I can have brunch with my honey.

I hope you’ll join me for the practice. It’s all-level and love-offering (donation based). I’m putting together some new stuff and as always, if you want to hang around after to chat, we can. All the information is on the website.

Thanks for your kindness and consideration. Let’s FLOW!

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The Gifts of Being Quiet

IIt’s June! It’s my birthday month! In my last post, in March (!) I wrote about how I love when a new month starts on Sunday.

Turns out that I like a new month starting on a Monday too as this month did! It just feels so fresh and clean and ready to be something a little different.

Kinda like me this month.

Since my last post, I’ve been quiet. Really quiet. I’ve stayed home, except for errands since March 13.

While I usually split my time between Lawrenem, KS and Chicago, these days I’ve been in Kansas. Our county has 3 active cases of ovid-19 right now, so we feel safer staying in Lawrence than in Chicago.

This quiet time has given us a chance to really slow down. Really. Slow. Down. At the beginning of the pandemi I took some time to just process everything that was going on in the world. My fiance is 67 and I worry about him and at the beginning of the sheltering-in-place, we were in different states, in different homes. I was scared and felt a little clueless about how to move forward, both personally and professionally. So I teah? Do I go online? Do I stay in Lawrence? Does he come here or do I go there?

Finally, by watching what gyms and studios were doing, either going online or closing and a few times both, I decided to teacch online. I didn’t think it was really me. I didn’t think I would like it, but I wanted to be of service.

This is what I see when I teach. Some people keep video off.

I LOVE IT! I love that sometimes I’m teaching my old regular students who have moved away or people from different areas of my life that would normally never cross paths. My students are enjoying getting to know each other. The wildest was a session of Yin Yoga with someone just a mile away who came to in-person yoga regularly before the pandemic, a college friend who lives in Minneapolis and a childhood friend who was in Indiana.

So, the unexpected gift is this deep connection I’m experiencing in my practice these days. I actually practice with my students now! When I used to teach in person, I didn’t practice with my students. I walked around the room giving variations, suggestions, adjusting and giving pressure and light massage. Now, teaching online it’s just me and a computer screen, I practice. There’s nothing to do, but demonstrate what I want them to do. Deep connection, yoga and the ability to work from home?!? I have no friggin idea why I never thought of this before.

And the bonus? When I traveled a lot before the pandemic classes were a little spotty. Now? I don’t have to disrupt my teaching schedule hardly at all! Whether I’m in Lawrence, Chicago, New York or any of the places I regularly travel I can teach. Theoretically, I can even teach in the airport, though I don’t see myself flying anytime soon.

I have benefited greatly from the quiet. It’s helped me get in touch with how I can be most of service and how I like to be of service. It’s helped me edit down to what’s really important. I’ve especially been thinking about this since the uprisings began after the death of George Floyd. What’s really important to you and what will you do to include that in your life as much as possible?

I invite you to consider where your gifts and talents lay and how to best utilize them. Not everyone should march. That’s not where their energy is best used. Not everyone should give money. That’s not where their resources are best used. How can you best share your talents, energy and resources?

This conversation with myself that sparked out of the world changing over the last few months is a great one to have at all times, but it feels especially important now. It also feels like my birthday month is the perfect time to revisit it every year.

For me, I’ve really been present with the idea that my talents are best used helping people be grounded, open, whole and engaged, so that they can go out and do the work they’re meant to do. Teaching, guiding, healing, supporting are the things that I love to do and things that I’m really good at.

The plus of this? To be able to educate, guide and teach? I have to learn. So, my healing happens and I get to share my experiences. I’m not with the people out there marching, organizing, protesting, I’m the person helping you to be whole and well so that you have the strength, power of conviction and clarity to go out there and make a difference.

I’m feeling more present with this truth as I get closer to my 51st birthday. I’ve marched. I’ve marched a lot in my life. I’m marched to take back the night in every decade of my life, for gay rights, women’s rights, all kinds of equality, against corrupt politicians, unfair labor practices, gentrification and multiple wars. As I near elder status, and I don’t know where that really begins, I realize that for me, leading with my strengths more than showing up to be counted might be more important.

All of this acme out of the quiet. It’s been a gift.

Join me for yoga this week. I’ve added more classes that I really love to teach. Another benefit of getting quiet? I got in touch with how and what really resonates with me and the students that I like to serve. During every class we’re opening our hearts so that we can stand strong in love while the world keeps shifting and changing.

See the website for a complete schedule and the Zoom info for online classes. All classes are love-offering and most are all-level.

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Love Yourself, It’s March!

I Love when a new month starts with a Sunday. It just feels like the perfect beginning. For some reason it makes me feel like it has more possibility and potential than a month that starts on, let’s say, a Wednesday. It makes me feel like doing more planning, more writing, more teaching, more work on myself. It makes me feel like, I can be more productive and more successful. .

This morning I woke up with a feeling of anticipation. It was 52 degrees with a forecast for 66 degrees later today. I’ve been working out again and hydrating like crazy and my body felt good when I opened my eyes. I slept well, so my mind felt good. It was a really good beginning to a new month.

This is the year that I’ve dedicated A Yogi Kitchen’s energy and my own energy to love. First and foremost that means loving myself and inviting you to do the work to help you love yourself more. When I opened my eyes this morning, it felt like it’s time to up the effort.

So, I logged on to my computer and threw out what I thought was going to be March’s work. Well, not everything. I still have clients scheduled, I didn’t throw that out. I’m teaching more this month, but I added some new things. I reshaped my month to focus on how I want to feel by April. How do you want to feel?

What does that look like for you? I highly encourage you to grab your journal, your planner, a piece of paper, whatever works for you and do some planning. Do some dreaming. Do some fantasizing. Today is the perfect time for it. If you can’t do it today, sometime in this first week of the month is an excellent time to get inspired.

How does inspiration come to you? Perhaps, this is a great time to close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Notice how you’re feeling in this moment. Notice how the breath moves in and out of your chest. Notice how it feels to be exactly where you are right now. How does the chair/couch/bed feel against your body? Notice how your neck, back knees and everywhere in between feels. Breathe. Then notice how you’re feeling emotionally and mentally in this moment. Who are you body/mind/spirit right now?

The only way that we can effectively execute change is to be present with who we are right now. Just like we settle into our foundation on the mat so that we can extend and lengthen, we need to establish an emotional and mental foundation so that we can grow. So, take a little time to get really present. Don’t judge or beat yourself up, just observe. Be honest, not critical. This is a great time to grab your journal and record your observations.

Then I encourage you to ask yourself, How do you want to feel in 31 days? What do you want to be prepared for by the end of the month? Are there things or events coming up that you need to get ready for?

Spring is that terribly exciting time when everything is new. My front yard is beginning to green up. There are going to be buds in the trees and sprouts in the ground soon. An early Spring is one of the best things about living in Lawrence, KS. It inspires me incredibly!

So what inspires you? Do you need a minute to think about it? That’s okay, take your time and don’t feel pressured to make decisions. Just feel what you feel and honor it.

Need some inspiration? Indulge in those things that make you happy and feel motivated. TED talks? Podcasts? A chat with your bestie? Revisiting a journal entry from the beginning of the year about your goals?

Check out my most recent post on our Facebook page. for a little inspiration. It’s a link to Marie TV, Marie Forleo interviewing Collen Sandman Yee about her book, Yoga for Life. I pinned it to the top of the page for a few days. nIt reminded me of why I practice more importatly why I teach yoga.

Another great idea for this next month, make a list of things that inspire you and revisit them every single day this month. So, if it’s a certain book, read from it everyday. If it’s TED Talks in general, watch or listen to one every single day this month. I promise, if you’re not feeling inspired in this moment, you will after a few days. And again, keep out the critical judgement, cause it’s not hard to watch a TED talk and feel like you’ve wasted your life. I get it. Put those kind of feelings on the back burner until you can talk to your therapist or best friend about them.

Okay, so open your heart, close your eyes and take a moment to dream. Join me for March’s transformation. We’re going to commit to loving ourselves every day in as many ways as we can. We’re going to eat food that makes our bodies, not our tongues feel good. If it makes both body and tongue happy, then we’re doubly winning.

BreatheOnline, the six week course for mindfully managing your mental health just finished nutrition week. For seven whole days we made sure every single meal was plant based. it didn’t mean we didn’t eat meat, we just made sure the majority of food that passed our lips were veggies and fruits. We also upped hydration. So, this week we’re all on a nutrition high, feeling pretty good from our efforts! Since we just made these changes for seven days, we really went all in. You have a whole month,. go slowly and institute changes that you might want to incorporate into the rest of your life.

For this month up your activity level. Walk every day at lunch. Hit the gym an etra day each week. Start an exercise class. Do something to get your body mocing. Where can you get by the end of the month. You have 31 days

I personally have been working out everyday and hitting someone else’s yoga class once a week. it feels so good to lie on the mat and have someone else tell me what to do!

If you’re in Lawrence, you can transform with yoga practices with me. Move your body, quiet your mind and just sink into yourself. Quiet the noise and just be at least once a week this month. If you’re far away you can schedule a free wellness consultation with me for guidance, support and accountability.

I love to hear your progress. Share in the comments, email me or even text me! I hope today is a great beginning to a fantastic month!

785-760-5412, mel@ayogikitchen.com

Happy Sunday!

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What’s Wrong With Your Immune System?

This is my new question. Lately I’ve had a few people in my life that keep getting sick. Sometimes they’re sick for weeks. And sometimes it’s cold after cold. The thing that floors me, is that they treat it like it’s normal.

I’m here to say it’s not. When a client mentions in passing that they haven’t been going to yoga or they cancelled a session with me cause they were sick, I ask what’s wrong with your immune system?

The looks I get. Some seem incredulous. Some are annoyed. I think some people think that I’m mean. 

The truth is, you don’t have to get sick. I know, everyone thinks getting a cold or virus a few times a year isn’t a big deal. And it’s not, but it’s an indication that there’s something going on with your immune system.

While I deeply believe that’s true, I’m not really talking about an occasional cold or virus. I’m talking about those people who consistently seem sick.  The people who go through some big stuff, push themselves, don’t engage in self-care until they’re forced to be in bed with fever, headache, nausea and sometimes vomiting. Let’s be honest, nursing a virus isn’t actually self-are. Somehow, those these people always say something like, ‘I just spent three days in bed!” Meaning that the have to get back to pushing themselves. 

Maybe you’re one of those people. Maybe you’re nodding and laughing uncomfortably in sheepish recognition. I used to be one of those people. There’s no shame, but there is a better way. 

I used to be one of those people who do incredible amounts of things. My self-worth was tied to my busyness. I liked to get an unreasonable amount of things done in a day and mostly, I did for everyone around me and rarely did for myself.

Now this part is a bit embarrassing, but we all do it sometimes. After breaking my back and being exhausted putting other people first in my life,  I was incensed that no one took care of me. Sometimes, actually most of the time I didn’t even get asked, I just assumed that I knew what other people needed and did for them. Unfortunately for the people who loved me, I was resentful and passive-aggressive about my displeasure that they didn’t appreciate me enough. I’d smile and keep doing for others, all the while simmering inside and keeping track of what i felt they owed me. If I didn’t think it measured up, I was enraged. It’s not a pretty picture. It’s not something I’m proud of or talk about that often. 

A bit ago I wrote about recently getting back to that resentful place and working on boundaries. Read about it, then come back here to immune systems. 

You know what the answer is right? You may be cringing, but we all know the answer, many of us just hate it. Saying no was something that made me physically uncomfortable. However, learning to say no is life-changing.

I feel like life in your middle years it’s not about learning new lessons, but rather about learning the advanced work around the lessons you learned years ago. Boundaries are like that.

In my youth I learned not to let people walk all over me or take advantage of me. Or at least, I understood what that looked like. A bit later, I learned how sneaky people can get about that. I learned about passive-aggressive and manipulative behavior. Then I learned about resentment and that leads to rage and illness. 

Now in my middle years, I’ve learned to not give a fuck about what other people think and just to pay attention to what I want. So, when someone asks for a favor, even if it’s my kids, I don’t worry about what will happen if I say no. I don’t worry about how badly they need me or think that I’m the only person who can help them. That is co-dependent behavior and it took me a long time, a lot of Melody Beattie books and a fair amount of therapy to unlearn what I’d learned in my family of origin. 

These days, I first ask myself if what I’m being asked is something I really want to do. Does doing this thing make me happy in a pure, non-ego driven way? Is it feeding my soul or is it draining me in some way? 

What I’ve figured out that makes boundaries easier is to think about, is that having a boundary is more of a way to say yes to myself. So instead of thinking that I’m saying no to someone, possibly someone I love,  I’m actually saying yes to something I’d rather be doing.

Look, I’m a busy woman with a lot of responsibilities. My time is expensive and precious, but even if it weren’t, it’s MY time.  If my kid leaves his cello at home and I’m across town having coffee with an old friend and I am feeling happy and getting my soul fed, is it really worth it to drop what I’m really enjoying doing to go home get his cello and then race to school before 3rd period? Probably not. Why put myself on that emotional roller coaster? Also, by rescuing him for such a small thing,  am I really teaching him anything?  

On the flip side, when a good friend needs someone to sit with her dying mother so she can get some sleep and feed herself, I’m happy to do it. Taking time to sit with a woman I’ve known for 43 years while she is sick and in pain feeds my soul. If I can offer comfort, peace and some solace to someone who is scared and in pain, someone who has indirectly helped shape who I am, then that makes me happy. Deeply happy. That’s good stuff. 

That is worth 40 trips to the middle school with my kid’s cello. It opens my heart, makes me think about life, about who I am, about who I want to be. It is an experience that I can never have again and the memory is one to cherish. 

So, let’s go back a bit to how I first figured out about saying no.  I realized that I was waiting for other people to make me feel good, I was thinking that running to the school to deliver my kid’s cello was making me look good in the eyes of the school secretary, teachers, perhaps other parents. I was that parent who showed up. I was looking for outside, superficial approval.

Is what the school secretary thinks of me important? Of course not. Does it give me an ounce of joy? Of course not, but it made me feel important and needed. That’s ego. 

So, after I’d feed my ego and get little enjoyment out of it, of course, I’d get sick. You can’t walk around on little sleep cause you’re so busy, taking inventory, with a belly full of rage and not get sick. Eventually it catches up with you. Rage almost always makes you sick. 

Self-care? Wasn’t in my vocabulary back then. To be fair to myself, it wasn’t a word society was tossing around like we do now. My parents didn’t teach  it to me, in fact, the exact opposite. I just didn’t have the skills or tools to do any different. 

Here’s what I now know. There are no promises. Okay, that makes me sound like i used to be a spoiled brat. Not completely, I just wasn’t taught a lot of helpful life lessons.

Today, though, I’ve learned that no one is expected to take care of me, except me. I’m the only person responsible for my health and happiness. Period. It’s up to me to communicate with my love about what I need in life and they have to respect that, but the idea that another person should make me happy, should fulfill me is thinking for a much younger Melissa. 

So, when I get resistant and push myself too far, cause I’m hoping someone will notice\ what I’m hoping that somehow I get points for bending over backward. More so, though, I’m scared of all the judgment for saying no. Cause I’m still of an age that women are supposed to be compliant, are supposed to say yes and no means that you’re difficult.

But, if I’m waiting for someone to take care of me and THEN I get sick. it’s only on me. It’s my job to take care of me. Period. 

I work with people who are not good at taking care of themselves. Some of them.  It’s not always their fault. Sometimes they’ve been raised like me, to be compliant and think that I’m less than if I’m not. Sometimes the voice of anxiety or the voice e of depression tells them that they should just push forward. They should just do what they’re doing and ignore how they’re feeling. 

Anxiety and depression want to live. They want to run and play. They want to skip on the beach, roll in the snow and speed through the woods. So, they lie to us. They lie so they can live and we believe them. We believe them because we want to believe there is something that makes this better, something that makes sense. Pushing through feels familiar and comfortable. There is comfort in the discomfort. .We want to believe there is a simple way to feel better, to be able to breathe. 

 

Unfortunately, we also tend to be people who have a hard time asking for help. Asking for help from a professional or even a friend gives us a different perspective and helps us see where we might to do something other than push through. 

Sometimes it’s just simply easier to focus on someone else, to take care of their needs, rather than our own. 

That’s why I’m here. This is what I do. This is what makes me feel fired up and passionate. I’m here to remind you that anxiety, depression, PSTD, trauma, OCD are lying to you. I’m here to remind you to hydrate, to take a long bath, go for an aimless walk. Take care of yourself. before you do anything for another person, except an infant, take care of yourself.  

If you don’t take time for yourself, take breaks, take naps and really care for yourself, you will be forced to stop. You will be in bed with tissues and the garbage can next to your bed. It always catches up with us. 

Let me repeat that. It always catches up with you. It might not be as simple as a cold or virus, though. 

When I ask my clients, what’s wrong with your immune system, I’m not suggesting that they’re a germ magnet or that they’re unhygienic. I’m not suggesting they don’t eat right or engage in risky behavior. I’m suggesting that perhaps, the anxiety or depression is lying to them.. I’m suggesting that  there are symptoms that the client is not recognizing as anxiety or depression. 

My experience is that the client is not engaging in mindful self-care. Not taking care of themselves as they would take care of a loved one, a child or a partner. Meeting with me is a good first step, or sometimes  it’s the step they need to feel just a tiny bit better and we can create a plan for them to feel better more often. The ones that are doing the A+ job are  coming to me for yoga and meeting with me, in person or through FaceTime or Zoom to stay on track with their wellness plan. Having accountability, guidance and support is the thing that, they tell me, makes all the difference. 

Today is the perfect day to set intention for yourself. Research shows that the best way to have a success, whatever that means to you, is to schedule the things you really want to accomplish. Today, schedule in your self-care. How do you want to feel? When can you slip in a nap or take a long walk? When can you carve out time for yourself? 

I promise, it makes all the difference. 

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Observing Our Brains

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years teaching yoga is that people have a tough time observing themselves. When I start a class, workshop or retreat, I ask the yogis to close their eyes, take deep breaths and to sink inside themselves.

I almost always start by asking them to notice who they are physically, in this moment. We start at the top of our head and slowly work our way down the body. Do you feel pain or discomfort? Notice without judging, just breath into it and be aware. Do you feel some ease in any place in your body?

Then we move to the heart space. I ask them to notice what they’re feeling in this moment. If they can’t name it, that’s okay, I ask them to just feel it. Again, I encourage them ot to get judgy or discouraged to just watch inn their mind’s eye. If they’re feeling something uncomfortable, I ask them to just breathe into it and tolerate the discomfort. They’re safe. I ask them not to push anything away.

Then I ask them to observe their brain. Just notice how many thoughts there are, just a few or a lot. I ask them to notice how the thoughts are moving through the brain. Are they jumping? Swirling? Trudging, like through mud? Floating? For the advanced work I ask them to pay attention to the quality of their thoughts. a lot of negative thoughts? Creative thoughts? Happy thoughts? Planning thoughts?

It was after ten years of teaching that I had a student tell me that when she first came to my class, she had no idea how to notice any of that. She wasn’t connected to who she was body/mind/spirit in any way. If I was asking how she felt, her only answer was fine. She didn’t have another answer, perhaps because growing up, that was the only acceptable answer.

She didn’t have language or observational skills available to her to say, My heart is feeling heavy right now, or My brain is really busy today.

That floored me. I couldn’t understand what that even meant. I have been someone who has always been very connected to who I was body/mind/spirit. Yoga was a natural progression and a natural career for me. I wanted, deeply, to teach people how to access what I already knew, which is how I came to teach the way that I do. It’s different. it’s not for everyone. That’s okay. I am past an age where I need to be everything to everyone.

But I want what I teach to be accessible to those who do like my classes. I want them to get the advanced work. I want them to understand how to smack into themselves, get uncomfortable and learn. I want to help them deepen their spiritual beliefs, make them feel strong and powerful, as well as quiet and peaceful.

I know, I want a lot. I’ve been told that often.

I started asking more students how they felt. I found out that for many, the check-in made them antsy. It asked questions, that like that first student, they didn’t even know how to approach, let alone answer. It made them feel inadequate.

I added more description to the questions. I held space for their discomfort. Instead of just giving them silent space to observe, I led them through descriptive questions. Before the questions above, I just said, Notice Who You Are Physically In This Moment. Now, I ask them to decipher the information they’re taking in.

Yoga is a spiritual practice. When I lived on the East Coast I was treated mostly like a glorified aerobics Instructor, but here in the Midwest I consider myself and am respected as a spiritual teacher. I believe that yoga is about who we are in all aspects of our lives.

So this week we used mindfulness to help manage our mental health. We talked Wise Mind and the first part of it was just to observe our own minds.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is based in mindfulness and when I first took it, 9 or so years ago, I walked into the room and fell in love. Now, you don’t get to DBT because your life is going well. My life was a mess. My anxiety was not being managed well-AGAIN. The PTSD felt big AGAIN and I was frustrated and demoralized.

.The first therapist of the team started talking and it was my language! These people got me and I intuitively understood them. It was actually my DBT therapist that suggested I start teaching the skills in Yoga for Anxiety and Depression.

A lot of it really made sense to me. Observe the brain. Just observe. Simple enough, right? It may be simple, but it’s not always easy for everyone.

The Venn diagram above describes two sides of the brain that we all have., that are always working in each of us. The descriptions that I added are just generalized examples, certainly not true for each and evert person. .

For people like me, people with anxiety, PSTD or Depression, Trauma, OCD. we tend to swing more consistently one way or the other. We tend to be black or white thinkers. For us, that middle ground can be tough.

Marsha Linehan, the doctor that developed DBT says, that when we’re swinging either towards only taking the facts in or only taking our feelings in, we’re only getting half of the story. To truly understand what is true in the moment, we must take facts AND feelings into account. Then, it’s appropriate to make decisions about right action. When you’re only getting half the story, making decisions about behavior or your future isn’t going to do us any good, could even be foolhardy.

Now, for a lot of us swinging one way or the other has served us well. As a yoga teacher being in emotion mind; being warm and feelings oriented and able to connect with my students on an emotional level is a good thing. Additionally, being in emotion mind has kept me safe many times. Being able to listen to my gut and my heart has been a good guide post.

However, do you want that from your surgeon. No, you want them to be super detailed oriented and analytical. While it’s nice to like your doctor, warm and cuddly is not what makes them good at what they do.

So, back to yoga class. At both the beginning and the end of a practice, after I ask students to observe body/mind/spirit, I ask them to set intention. Based on the information you just took in and who you are in this moment, how do you want to walk through? If it’s the beginning of class I ask them how they want to work through the practice. Mindfully? Gleefully? Quietly? At the end, I ask them to set intention for the rest of the day.

Linehan asks us to observe and then to participate. She asks us to engage fully in each moment. Doesn’t that sound like living with intention?

So, for this week, I encourage you to just observe your brain. Don’t mistake ruminating for observing. It’s a really common mistake. If you find yourself ruminating, find something to distract yourself with and come back to observing a different time.

When you return, try to step outside of your thoughts and just notice them. Aas you move through your week, notice how often you’re feeling a situation and how often you’re analyzing a situation. There is no good or bad. This is just information gathering. You do not need to change anything, just…

Enjoy the Process!

Got questions or need some help? Sign up for a free 45 minute consultation. They’re long this year, cause I turned 50! We can get a lot done in 45 minutes. Absolutely no need to feel obligated to ever talk to me again. But I’m here, you can!

If you’re feeling confused or frustrated by managing your mental health, all the options and all th treatements, I get it. I have absolutely been there. Let’s talk! .

You can sign up online or drop me an email or text. Mel@ayogikitchen.com, 785-760-5412.

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My Office Today, Chicago

Yesterday, I needed to be in Chicago. I needed to be somewhere bustling and invigorating that brings me back to myself. Most nights, when I’m in Illinois, I sleep in a suburb called Berwyn. I grew up in the city. I’m a city girl. The suburbs drain me, to be honest. So, I packed up my briefcase and took the subway to The Loop.

More than once in my life someone has mentioned that I seem to get calm when I’m around steel, glass and cement. I get calm. I feel centered. I feel balanced. This is my sacred space.

I love tall buildings with elevators, sidewalks with cafes, grates and bicycle racks. I love boulevards with well-planned greenery and benches. I love street benches. Some of the best people watching ever! I also love the hustle and bustle, I love the sounds and smells, I love being able to walk a block and find five different options for food and three different options for shopping.

So, I worked in downtown Chicago in busy Starbucks and quiet restaurants. When I needed a break, or just needed to move my body, I wandered to a new spot, taking pictures like a tourist. I walked in places I haven’t explored in years. I inhaled the smells of a city on a lake. It was so much fun and today, I feel energized and relaxed, buzzy and motivated.

Now, I know there are people that think this is sad. I know, that there are people reading this wondering about trees and streams and fields and how can i teach mindfulness and not love nature. My feeling is that these are people who cannot see the beauty in a city the way I can, who don’t understand the nuances, who don’t feel the energy difference between New York and Chicago. Or kansas city and Boston, all cities that i have intimate knowledge of their ins and outs. City is just a dirty word to them. That’s okay. I’m not trying to convince anyone.

I love nature. I was lucky enough to split my time as a child. I grew up in Chicago, but we also had a country house, across the lake, in Michigan. A lake house, right on Lake Michigan. Yes, I grew up privileged. I’m super-crazy lucky in that way.

In that world, I grew up running through woods, watching my sibling’s play little league while I ate penny candy and fifty cent ice cream. I played with natural clay from a nearby stream, spent practically every day on the beach, body surfing and burying my brother in the sand.

I’m lucky that my parents, who both grew up in rural areas and then, for whatever reason, raised their kids in an urban environment. I got the best of both worlds. Truly.

In my 30s I moved to farmland. I walked through wheat stubble, explored woods, rinsed my kids down with the house after they played in the mud wallow, washed my dogs in tomato juice and peroxide after a camping encounter with a skunk in our fields. I know nature, I love nature and wouldn’t be the same person without these experiences, but I’m just not fed by it in the same way that a walk through Chicago’s Loop feeds me.

This week, I started BreatheOnline, the six week course to mindfully manage you mental health. I have a warm, supportive and enthusiastic group, willing and eager to change the way they think about their mental health. They’re eager to avoid emotional hijack and curious about ways to manage it once it does happen. Cause sometimes it happens to all of us.

I’ve asked the group to visualize their sacred space and asked them, what can you do to bring that energy to you life.on a daily basis.

A sacred space is a space that you create that helps you feel most like you. For me, it’s where I go for quiet, to regroup, to close out the rest of the world for at least a few moments. When life is working the way I really like it to, I’m in that space daily.

Before they started to gather items to create a space, I invited them first, to think about who’ve they’ve been, to read past journal entries, to look through old boxes, skim through baby pictures. Then I encouraged them to dream about their perfect space, grab their journals and write, sketch, dream. I invited them to Google and Pinterest, whatever got their creative juices flowing around space.

For me, in creating a space, I love elements of nature along with things that make me remember Melissa. I’m a fifty-year-old, ripped-jean-wearing, all-genre music-listening mom who still feels like she’s nineteen. The best sacred spaces that I’ve created over the years, makes all of that fall away. It peels away the mom, the yoga therapist, the woman planning a wedding, the daughter, the sister, all the different roles of my life and just make me feel pure Melissa. They lighten my soul, lift any constraints.

I know, it’s a lot to ask of a space, but the idea is more about what you learn about yourself, rather than a magic space that transforms you. So, as you’re thinking about space, think about what feeds you.

This space doesn’t have to be a whole living space, it can be a room, or a corner of a room. Ideally, it should be accessible in all seasons.

So, I invite you to think about sacred space. Think about what would a space have to have to make you connect with younger versions of yourself, make you feel most like your true self, help you feel powerful and free, lift away, for a short while, the things that are feeling heavy. What would that look like? What would it feel like/

Enjoy the process. Don’t pressure yourself, just dream!

Next week in BreatheOnline we’re talking dialectical behavior therapy. The postings about our work in this course will be around the internet in all the places that A Yogi Kitchen hangs out. The information is different everywhere, so keep checking us out, commenting, emailing with feedback and hanging out with us. We love having you join us for these free parts of BreatheOnline. And we love your feedback and comments. It helps the people in the group get different perspectives.

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The Steps I’m Taking

Last week I wrote about becoming resentful. I was worn out and snippy with people I love. I had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself about how I was treating myself. It wasn’t good. Well, it was good, it wasn’t pretty. You can read all about it.

I want to share some progress with you. I think it’s important to share about how it was and here’s what I did and here’s how it is now.

I came back to Chicago suddenly, after expecting to spend November and December in Kansas. My 77 year-old mother fell, hit her head and broke her wrist. November was filled with days of managing her meds and memory, of taking her to doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping, of introducing her to The Crown and Grace and Frankie. So, my time hasn’t been feeling like my own.

On top of that, my sweet man has had some health issues lately, plus he’s retired. It’s very, very easy to snuggle in bed till late morning, or have breakfast and turn on Netflix and before I know it, it’s noon.

With the health issues it’s also easy to see that he needs me. He needs a partner to go to doctor’s appointments, and as a woman who comes from a medical family, as well as taught yoga for 20 years, I’m pretty good at understanding what the doctors communicate.

Add to the fact, that I just love him to death and want to spend all my time with him and the fact that we have had weeks of doctors appointments, tests and procedures means that I’m not giving myself the time I need to do things like run a successful business. Or do my nails or eat well.

So, this morning, I put my foot down. Of course I was kind. I was firm though. It was 10 am and I didn’t know what our day was supposed to look like, yet. As a woman with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, that drives me crazy. It makes me itchy and antsy.

First, I went to the basement to write. I’m teaching BreatheOnline, the six week course for mindfully managing your mental health. As I could hear him moving around, I got more agitated and frustrated, because I felt that he was puttering and not moving in the direction that I wanted him to. Not his problem, I understand.

So, finally I approached him. I ran upstairs and asked if we could talk about the plan and the schedule. I told him I was feeling frustrated.

I was waiting for him to connect with a doctor’s office and the information was going to affect what the day was going to look like. It was going to affect the next month, so I really wanted open and clear communication about what was happening.

I’m very proud of what I said when I approached him. I said, I’m feeling frustrated. it’s mid-morning and I can’t give you any more time. I’ve been happy to do it, but it’s been two days of everything being centered on you and I’m not getting the things done that I need to do. I’m not working, I need to work today.

So, we came up with a plan. It wasn’t the fully fleshed out plan that I would have liked, but it gave me a light sense of what the day would look like and it got me to work in the next 30 min. I was effective, if not finessed.

Later, i got a call from someone who knew that I was feeling like my time was not my own. They called about ending my work day early to hang out. Even though I’d told everyone in my life that I was planning on working late, I got a call about how people wanted to see me and they were going to be disappointed without me.

I was kinda floored, but I kept my cool. I was pretty direct, but I did repeat that I needed to work . I said that I hadn’t been working as much as I needed to and I really needed to work.

On the one hand, I’m proud that I stood up for myself, but on the other hand I was a little disappointed. Now, working for yourself and having people assume that you can drop everything anytime is a very common complaint. I’m certainly not the first person to feel frustrated by this attitude.

The part that disappointed me, was me. I was disappointed. I taught people that I will always strive to please them. i taught them that i will drop my livelihood, my purpose, for dinner on their whim.

So, I stood my ground, more than once over the last week. I stuck to my schedule. I enjoyed my childhood hometown often, cause I don’t always get to be in an urban environment anymore and am trying to incorporate things that give me pleasure into my everyday.

Recently, a close family member said, You always say you’re working, what is it you’re doing? Again, open-mouth floored. Not only am I all over the internet, all over social media, so surely they could have googled me, but I’m not shy about what I do. I talk about it.

I’m not promising that everyone is going to think first that I must be working. I’m not even going to promise that everyone understands that I work, (which I don’t understand(, but for now I’ve drawn my line and I’ve kindly and firmly said don’t cross it.

Where are your boundaries? What is the thing that you save for yourself. Where’s the line that you’re drawing? I’m in the learning stages with this so I really want to know!

We’re celebrating LOVE inn 2020,. calling it the year of LOVE is only a little bit cheesy in this case. We’re looking at self-love, family love, romantic love, the energy of love in the universe. Anything that you think about love, we’re exploring this year.
If you’re in the Kansas City/Lawrence, KS area, join me Valentine’s Day weekend for connection, mindfulness and yoga with someone you love. Please Share with your friends and family!
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Something New!

It’s Wednesday, which I love!

I know all the complaints and whining about hump day, but I love the possibility of a Wednesday. Before I go any farther, let me admit that, yes, I love Monday too. I love when it feels like possibility. In fact, Saturday makes me a little sad. And so does Sunday. They’re the end of something. But a good Wednesday? LOVE IT. I’ll tell you more soon!

Today is also special cause today is the second full day of BreatheOnline and it’s a chance to check-in with our intention for the week. We’re doing this session a little differently. You may have seen some of the excitement in other places A Yogi Kitchen likes to hang out, like the newsletter.

Usually I do a free week before the six week BreatheOnline, called BreatheEcourse. It’s a week long taste of what the full course looks like. This session I didn’t do it. For a few reasons.

First, I think I’ve just been emotionally and mentally exhausted and to do one more thing felt like too much. Second, in all honesty, the numbers aren’t that great for the class and I don’t get a huge amount of feedback and that’s demoralizing. So, I thought with everything going on, I’d skip it. Maybe even leave ’em a little hungry for it.

So we started BreatheOnline on Monday and I got some spectacular feedback. One new participant, whom I’ve never met said, “Finally, I get to take BreatheOnline. I’m a grad student. I’ve been doing the work in BreatheEcourse for awhile and now i can finally afford to take BreatheOnline. Thank you for teaching me so many tools for free. “

Now, I went through my email list and this woman wasn’t on it. I questioned her and she said, no, she’d just been reading the blog, listening to the podcast (which is on hiatus right now), tip-toeing into the Facebook group and following me on Instagram.

I was teary. Seriously. We emailed back and forth a little and she was so grateful that I was almost embarrassed. It felt great! It felt like just what I needed.

I heard a similar story from a stay-at-home dad struggling with depression. He actually did take BreatheEourse. He also thanked me for offering a free online course and also commented that he got a lot out of the social media posts outside of either of the Breathe courses. I was floored.

Sometimes it feels like I’m posting out into the universe and no one is listening. I know that I’m not the only person that feels this way, but it’s lonely.

This taught me so much. I teach this to wellness clients Keep on keepin’ on. You may not see immediate results, but you know what is right, you know what is good. You don’t have to see immediate or even measurable results with every single action to know that you should keep on keepin’ on.

Our job in this world is simply to be of service. We never know what that looks like.

And that’s why we’re doing something new with BreatheEourse WHILE I’m teaching BreatheOnline.

I passionately believe that mindfulness tools and yoga skills should be accessible for absolutely everyone. In fact, I can say that for everything I teach. it should all be accessible. There is a perception in our society that if you have money in your account you shouldn’t get free or discounted things. Conversely, not having much in your bank account or not having a bank account doesn’t mean you get peanut butter and jelly. I believe that we’re all equal and we all deserve equally. How you choose to manage your money is not my concern. You deserve my service. Period.

However, I also need to pay my bills, live in my version of comfort and have some stability in my life. Believing that things should be accessible does not mean that your teacher, coach or instructor should live in poverty. Somehow that’s so often the perception, especially with practices like yoga. I believe that we should all get paid our worth and deciding what someone else’s worth is, is not okay.

So, I teach love-offering yoga courses, I offer things for free as often as I can and I offer to create payment plans for absolutely anyone who is interested.

Wondering what this all means? What’s the something new? For the next six weeks, as we’re going through BreatheOnline, look for check-ins, journal prompts, mindfulness practices, nutrition tips and yoga practices all the places around the internet where A Yogi Kitchen hangs out. Don’t forget to check out the website too!

This week we’re working on creating sacred space for our work together. Having a sacred space, a space that’s just for you, that makes you feel most like you, is an incredible act of self-love. Even if you live alone, sacred space is important and should be so dedicated.

The work of reducing emotional hijack, soothing yourself when you do get hijacked and living a more mindful, balanced life is a lot more fun and intentional with your own space.

So what do you need to do for your space? Not much, in all honesty. Check out what went to our community yesterday, or in a bit or check out IG to read about what i do in my space, to get a few ideas. Seriously Google,m Instagram, Pinterest it. There’s some great stuff out there.

Oh! I almost forgot. What does this have to do with loving Wednesday? This is the day you get to turn it all around. I love that! So in the middle of the week, do a check-in, decide if the week is in alignment with your intention (that you set at the beginning of the week) and decide what to do next. Do you need to pivot? Shift? Start over again? There aren’t any rules (I wish someone had taught me that 30 years ago). Decide to do what feels right for you and embrace that decision!

Enjoy the process!

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What Hanging Out With Girlfriends Taught Me About Myself

Last night I had a lovely dining experience. I went to dinner with three women that I grew up with in Chicago. Our lives have each taken drastically different paths, but these are women I’ve known since I was in single digits, so no matter what, they still feel like sisters.

I hadn’t seen two of them in over a year and even though we’re FB friends, we had a lot of catch up to do. So, I recounted the last year of health issues with my loved ones and all the deaths of 2018 came up. Much of our conversation was about the stressors of life at our age.

We all just turned fifty. One of us doesn’t have kids. I have a grown kid and a young teen, like another, and the fourth has a pretty young one. Two of us are in relationships. Two of us are single. We’re all professional women, there are a bunch of dead dads in our lives, one dead mother. Our stressors have been big and our lives have been varied. I don’t think anyone regrets their life.

So, as we’re talking over tacos, I found myself feeling adamant. About things I didn’t know I had strong feelings about. About parts of mylife. I didn’t know how adamant I was feeling about how much time I was giving away to other people. A few weeks ago I wrote about boundaries. I wrote about how I hadn’t been taking are of myself the way that I would like. I wrote about how my boundaries aren’t about saying no, but rather about saying yes to myself. They’re about keeping what’s important close to me.

That dinner was earlier this week. Yesterday I was snippy with my love. I was snippy because not only am I feeling overwhelmed by helping people do things and take are of things, but I’m feeling super snippy that I’m not doing things that I want to do.

I’m officially resentful. I am the thing that I’ve been warning about. And what’s worse, is that I’m feeling resentful because other people don’t seem to appreciate it and/or return the effort. That’s the worst.

It’s not true, either. Overwhelmingly when I show up for people they thank me profusely, but when I get in this space of not taking care of myself and I’m feeling tired and fat and overwhelmed, I’m not taking in their gratitude. I’m saying, yeah, of course, anytime before I run off to the next thing that exhausts me. I’m not being present and I’m not inn the middle ground, that place in dialectical behavior therapy we call the middle ground.

The other thing that I notice when I’m not setting good boundaries is that I think I deserve more. I think I deserve things that aren’t actually good for me and nobody really deserves. I flop down on the couch and think I deserve this oreo and hour of tv. Who really needs or should have oreos ann tv?

I think I deserve this wine/beer/Jack. I think I deserve to just sit.

When I have strong boundaries, when I am putting myself first, when I am learning that even though what’s right in front of me is super important, I’m more important, everything flows better. I’m a better me. I’m present with the people in my life that I’m just not when I’m running around like crazy, when I’m eating or drinking my emotions, when exhausted body/mind/spirit.

It’s not that I don’t know/teach/model this. Somehow, as we all do, I got lost. When my dad was dying two years ago, I was good at saying yes, he needs me, wants me to be there, but I come first. Then slowly, it slipped away. As he got closer to dying, I put myself further down the list. Now, here I am pretty low on the list, wearing yoga pants and tees that used to be sleep-shirts wondering what happened.

I look tired. I look harried. I’m not looking my best. I’m not feeling that on a daily basis I’m taking care of me. I’m thinking that my nails can go another day or two, my hair isn’t that bad, I’ll eat vegetables on Tuesday.

Here we are at the beginning of a year, a year that I’ve decided is the year to focus on love, finding myself in deep need of some big self-love. Isn’t it funny how the lessons just keep coming?

Ha! i just walked up to the barista at Starbucks and got a water. Cause I just realized that I’w had coffee and tea and even a glass of wine, but I haven’t had water in almost a whole day. That’s not good.

So, today I got smacked with awareness. I had to take a moment to see what the universe keeps putting in front of me.

There are lots of reasons that we abandon ourselves. Sometimes it’s about self-worth, sometimes it’s about our mental health. It is very rarely about life just being busy. There’s most often 5 reasons in front of life being busy.

Today I’m working on BreatheOnline, which starts on January 27th. It’s where I teach mindfulness and self-care tools, among other things to manage mental health. When I think about who I’m teaching to, I’m teaching to women who have busy minds, who are overwhelmed and exhausted, who don’t know where to turn. The irony is not lost on me. I get that I need this class as much as anyone needs to take it. I believe that we teach what we need.

BreatheOnline teaches all the ways that I’ve learned over the last 20 years to manage my anxiety and PTSD. It’s six weeks that helps you put yourself first, that helps you stay focused on nutrition, like staying hydrated and eating for your brain. I teach you to look for the middle ground, or Wise Mind as it’s called in dialectical behavior therapy. You also learn other dbt skills, like how to shift your brain chemistry when you get emotionally hijacked. We talk about getting clear and present with who you are in this moment. That’s what I’ve just done. I got that little smack that helped me get clear. What does it take for you to get clear?

Today I’m that woman that I warn my clients about becoming. My lack of self-care has made me resentful. I am, in a small way, that tired, overwhelmed, resentful woman, and if I’m not careful I’ll become bitter. Unrealized and ignored resentment turns to bitterness pretty fast.

It’s my job to take care of myself, and not to expect some care in return for helping out someone else, in exactly the way that I want it. It’s my job to take care of myself and not expect that someone near and dear will see that I’m tired or frazzled or overwhelmed. In other words, it’s my job to are for myself so that I don’t get resentful.

I’m going to be working on that for the next few weeks. Stay tuned for what that looks like.

The change starts today. Won’t you join me? I’m all over social media. You can see the development of me taking time and energy for myself on Facebook, Instagram, Our Community and Twitter.

And if I’ve peaked your interest in BreatheOnline, we’re starting Monday, January 27th (this coming Monday!). You’ll get your first Welcome! video in the evening. I’ll give you the lay of the land for our time together and we’ll start really slowly and ease into it so no one feels overwhelmed. Until then you can read more about our time together at A Yogi Kitchen’s website. It would be lovely to have you join us., The more I teach, the more I learn and I LOVE learning.

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Saying No. Why We Don’t Have Better Boundaries.

Boundaries are tough, aren’t they? . They make us to uncomfortable, don’t they? Many of us will choose to be terribly uncomfortable if it means we don’t have to say no to another person. Isn’t that crazy?

For some reason when we think of boundaries we most often think about that no. It means we have to say no to someone. It makes us terribly uncomfortable.

If you’re a woman chances are it’s twice as hard for you to say no to things or people than as your male coworkers, friends, family members or even random strangers on the street.

Having boundaries makes many women believe that we’re saying no too much, even if you hardly ever say no. A lot of women have been taught that no is a dirty word, that we should be accomodating and easy.

I have an idea, though. What if we start to believe that having boundaries isn’t so much saying no, as it’s saying yes. What if we start really looking at our bandwidth and figuring out what we really want to fill it with. So I’m not suggesting a year of yes, where you say yes to everything that comes along. I’m suggestion that instead of saying yes to everyone else, you start saying yes to yourself first and foremost.

What if instead of just saying yes to everything until we drop from exhaustion, we start being really selective about the life we want to live? THEN saying no to someone else is actually because we’re choosing to say yes to something for ourselves that helps to create that life.

I think that we need to change our thinking around boundaries. We think that building fences is about keeping strangers and danger out instead of building a fence to keep ourselves from wandering off. What if it were the opposite?

I know that sounds funny. It sounds ridiculous, right? We think well, I’m capable of just staying put and I don’t need a fence to keep myself right here. The reality is, though, that we get sidetracked and distracted all of the time. ALL OF THE TIME

We all know how this works, right? As we’re moving to the end of the year, we’re all getting excited about new beginnings and what we’re accomplishing in 2020. But how many Februaries have you sighed to yourself and said, we’ll this isn’t the time to drop that 20 pounds, or maybe I’ll put off learning to ski until next year. Right? It happens. We wander. We drift. We think it’s ridiculous, but the reality is, it happens to all of us, all of the time.

So, I suggest to you that mindfulness is the answer to creating better boundaries. You did know this was going to be my answer, right? It’s pretty much always my answer on some level. It’s just about recognizing which mindfulness tool works best and how to use it.

I’d also like to suggest to you that when we have boundaries that make sense to us, when we’re clear about what’s true and real, about reality, then we get that feeling good inside feeling that Erich Schiffman is talking about inn the quote above. It’s simple and it’s grounded in ego or arrogance. It’s true and honest and it feels yummy.

So it looks like this, we all want certain things. Every one of us has dreams, secret desires, needs and wants. The question so often is what are we willing to do to get that? Danielle LaPorte famously asks What Are You Willing To Do To Feel The Way You Want To Feel? I think the real question is what are you willing to give up.

I was taught a long time ago that people do not need help pushing themselves. They need help finding some ease, finding a way to be soft and gentle with themselves. They need help loving themselves or loving themselves better.

It’s been a lesson that I try to bring to every class, workshop or coaching session. At the time when I learned this lesson, I was being encouraged to teach gentle yoga and again, I found that what I learned on the mat translated to an important lesson in the rest of my life.

So, I think the question isn’t what are you willing to do, I think it’s a twofold question. How much do you love yourself and what are you willing to let go of or give up? What are you willing to say no to? It’s a question we don’t really like to think about. We like to think I’m, going to push and hustle, cause those are fun buzzwords. We like to think we’ll be disciplined and work hard ad that’s doable. We may have to work hard to reach our goals, but do we have to kill ourselves being everything to everyone to have the life that we really want? So manny of us believe that having boundaries is mean or rude and letting everyone walk over us is selfless and it’s the price we pay for the good things in our life.

Most of us do a pretty good job of pushing ourselves pretty hard. . We each have a bandwidth of energy and time and there’s only so much in our bandwidth. Maybe there’s no more bandwidth. We have to make choices. Here in the US we don’t like that. We like the rags to riches story. We can do it all and have it all.

The reality is really different, right? We all know that, but we still refuse to ask ourselves the right question.

When you say I really want something, like I really want this promotion or I really want to drop weight, you have to create space in your life for it. You have to put in the extra hours to reach your goals, where are they going to come from? We don’t ask that. We look for holes in our schedule, which face it, very few of us really have. We think we do, but we also don’t have going to the bathroom, random phone calls from mom or showering on our calendars.

So how are you going to show up for that? The answer is in the reason we dislike saying no.

Most of us fear saying no for a few reasons. We hate saying o mostly because of our fear of rejection. We all fear rejection right? Some of us have slightly thicker skins, but no one likes rejection

We don’t like to say no. We fear making someone else feel rejected AND we worry that they might return the favor. Or more than rejecting us, I think we’re afraid that we’ll fall off the radar and we’ll miss out. Cause that FOMO is a big, real thing, right?

To show up for ourselves and set those boundaries that we need requires us to be compassionate with our nos.

I know a woman who hates to say no, absolutely abhors it. When she has to say no she gets really defensive. No makes her feel like she’s not enough. Her fear is that she’s letting people down and deep down she’d rather make other people happy than be happy. I know that sounds harsh. To soften that she even goes so far as to say making other people happy makes her happy.

Except that it doesn’t. Not only does she help other people to the extent that she makes herself sick, eventually she will come down with a cold or a virus, but additionally, she gets resentful.

So, resentful and sick. That can’t be what happiness looks like, can it? That doesn’t sound like something we should be striving for.

I think a lot of us, especially women, are taught that it’s okay to get sick, get harried, get exhausted, get resentful if it keeps us from the N word.

The barometer here is pretty simple. When you absolutely need to say no, is pretty obvious. If it’s going to make you sick, anxious, resentful or exhausted say no. Period. If it’s going to keep you from something that you really want, like spending time with family, hitting the gym, connecting with friends, going on vacation, say no. And finally, let me give you permission to say no if saying yes means you don’t grocery shop, get enough sleep, or I can’t believe I actually need to say this, but eat, say NO in a big hurry.

Okay, I got sidetracked. I was talking about the woman who hates to say no, so when she has to she’s near hysterical. She’s not saying \No, I’m Sorry I Can’t. She says no, absolutely not, I can’t believe you’d think I should do that. It’s not a compassionate no.

A compassionate no is, I’m Sorry, That’s Not Going to Work For Me. I actually think it’s okay to say you can’t. Whether you actually could, but don’t want to isn’t anyone’s business. You don’t have to give excuses.

I do think if you feel compelled to give a reason, you can just say something like I’m Really Trying To Treat Myself Better And I Need To Go To The Gym, I Can’t Help You. Sometimes the fear is that our friend will see us as selfish, but what we’re really doing when we say something like that is modeling good behavior. We’re modeling self-love and self-care and I know I wish I’d seen that a lot more when I was a kid rather than the image of a woman who can do anything, at any hour of the day or night and still look like a super-model.

If this all makes sense to you and you haven’t done so yet, check out Brene Brown on Netflix. She talks about why we want to do everything and be everything to everyone. It’s probably not what you think. It’s very simple. If we can’t be super woman, we are deeply shamed.

If this makes sense to you and you want to join me for mindfulness work around shame, check out my website and sign up for wellness coaching. Right now the free consultation is a whole 45 minutes. We can do a lot in 34 minutes.

Learning to release your shame, move into a place of loving and caring for yourself is something I love to teach. In 2020, my word is LOVE, so we’re going to be looking at some of these issues more closely. Subscribe here, to the podcast, like us on FB or join our community to learn and practice in 2020!

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