Whether you’re someone who has the habit of cleaning out around the holidays cause there’s new stuff coming in or you like to start the new year with a fresh, clean home there is a really great mindfulness tool you can use to clearing out with intention.
There’s two phases to this exercise. you know, I’m someone that likes to journal to help myself get clear about my intention. This is a wonderful time to do that. Why do you want to clear the clutter? is it holding you back. I know that I work so much better in a clean, minimal space. I’m also a right-brained creative, so I like to have things out where I can see them. It’s a constant battle.
Once you get clear about why you want to reduce clutter, walk through your space and think about those near and dear to you. Do you have a pillow your niece has always admired. Maybe you don’t care about it that much. Maybe you love it, but you know she’d love it more. Give it to her!
Maybe the holidays are tight and you go through your house and wrap up those things that your family have always loved that you know will be well-taken care of and loved with them. Maybe it’s just a nice surprise for someone you love.
THEN think about the donation pile. Thinka bout a person who might be struggling. Say, a single mom and her kids. she might be able to provide for her family, but will she buy something or get something for herself? Likely not.
Go through your home and pull out some things that this woman in your . mind might really want and need. It doesn’t matter if you’re ready to donate it. Remember, we’re talking about clearing the clutter. There may be things that you like still. Things you actually use, but is there someone who needs it more. Maybe your toaster works perfectly fine, but you’ve been dying for an excuse to get a different one. Give it away.
I love this idea, and it’s not mine. I read about it and there are so many other ideas out there for helping to clear the clutter. This is a perfect time to think about it. Remember, though, that people in need are struggling in June and July also. So, if this isn’t the time for you to do it, don’t beat yourself up. Put it on the back burner till summer.
If you’re in the Lawrence, Kansas area A Yogi Kitchen is collecting donated items for the community. You can call or text me, and we’ll set up a time to have you drop items off or we can pick them up. There will be a naming for our new donation closet with free yoga and a donation party in late January or early February. I hope you’ll consider donating to us and joining us to celebrate. mel#ayogikitchen.com, 785-760-5412.
I used to have this boyfriend who would say Good Luck every time I went to teach a workshop or see a client. It infuriated me. Cause, I thought, luck has nothing to do with it.
I’m good at what I do, I’d say, I don’t k=need luck.
And to this day, I believe that. But I mean the kind of luck where good fortune falls into your lap. The kind of luck that you don’t work for or deserve. That’s the winning the lottery kind of luck. I forgot that there’s a different kind of luck.
I once heard Oprah say luck is when preparation meets opportunity. That idea resonated with me. I now know that the idea is attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, but at the time I thought Oprah was genius. Well, she’s Oprah, so she knows how to use her resources.
That’s what it’s about, right: It’s about using your resources. It’s about not knowing how to do something and figuring out which resources will help you get there. That’s learning to prepare.
I’ve recently had a crisis of faith. I got to that stuck place where I didn’t know what to do. I still don’t really. I forgot about luck, though. I forgot about preparation meeting opportunity.
What I know is that when I lose it. When I’m feeling down, when the tears are coming too easily, it’s probably a sign that I’ve forgotten to do something in my life. Maybe I’m purposely ignoring what I know to do. Cause sometimes it feels like all my effort goes nowhere.
That’s the danger of getting into the hole. I can get out, but it takes more effort than staying out. My anxiety, and maybe yours, makes it harder to get out of the hole.
I know that when I’m staying prepared, when I am grounded and clear, the work is so much easier. I feel inspired and motivated and that clarity makes it easier for me to see the opportunities. How do you stay prepared?
I invite my clients to journal about that feeling, the feeling when you feel most you and you feel like you can conquer anything. For some it’s been a long time since they felt that way. For some it’s building little by little on a good feeling. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s there. I promise you.
How can you prepare? What makes you feel good and inspired? For me, it’s this. I love healing and working with people. I love teaching. It makes me jump up in the morning.
Days that are hard, though, I am extra vigilant about doing what I know to do. Those are the days that I am more intentional about employing my dbt skills, making sure I eat enough protein, watching my sugar and getting on the mat for at least a few poses.
It’s not always easy work, but it’s simple work. I find that if I can do a little bit often I do better. My brain is hard-wired towards black and white thinking, as are so many of us with anxiety and depression. So swinging from being in the hole to feeling on top of the world is the internal drama that my brain likes. Doing a little bit often keeps me in the middle ground, the place that I help clients get to and what Marsha Linehan describes as Wise Mind in dialectical behavior therapy.
It’s how 2018 worked out for me. A year of starting over nad resetting. As I wrote and recorded in the podcast, it hasn’t been pretty, but it’s been a good lesson.
I did fine. Some of the new things in my life are mind-blowing, I just struggled way more than I needed to. Yoga teaches us to release the struggle and find the ease. Looking for the place in a pose that challenges us, but doesn’t create struggle is one of the hard lessons in yoga.
When I took dialectical behavior therapy, there was a lot of the same language. The core of dbt is mindfulness and through mindfulness and getting grounded, looking for the middle ground. We don’t want to push away experiences, but look for the place where we have all the information, which I believe is the place of ease.
When I work with clients who are struggling, I coach them on finding the ease in their lives. Where can they release struggle? I know it’s not easy and that’s why they work with me. Cause in our own lives it’s hard to see it sometimes. Ask an outside person and sometimes it’s easy to see. It’s my job to be able to see things that my clients can’t and if it’s not there, help them create it.
Let me be really clear. I don’t think any of us does it alone. We all need help. Look at anyone that you look up to and they have help. Whether it’s Oprah or the woman at school who seems to have everything come easily to her, they have help. And we all know, too, that not everything is as it looks.
We all struggle. Every single one of us. That woman at school who drops her kids off in makeup and real clothes, bakes the yummies, most perfect looking cookies and is never late for plays or recitals, struggles too. Maybe just not in the way that I do. I think that was the hardest lessons for me to learn. Even the most perfect lives have struggle.
So, what’s the answer to finding the ease? You got it, Getting Grounded. It’s the first step. All the planning, lists, blocking out the calendar won’t do a thing, if you’re not grounded first.
I don’t believe there’s one way to do this. I believe we all have our ways that make us feel most like who we are, at our core. I’m not talking abou tthe thrill we get from shopping, or the fun that can come in a glass of wine, I’m talking about who we really are without any of the distractions and artifice. Those things can be nice, but they don’t define who we are.
When I was pregnant with my first child, my daughter, I had to be in bed for almost three months. I got to get up for the bathroom and one trip to the couch or kitchen table a day. You can bet I lived on the couch almost as much as I lived in bed. On days that I had doctor’s appointments I got to leave the house.
On at least one of those occasions, we loaded up our to-do list so that I could take advantage of being out of the house as much as possible. My husband at the time had Qi Gong in Grant Park. So I tagged along and sat at Lake Michigan, across the street and breathed it all in. I watched the people running and biking by, I listened to the waves lapping against the cement walkway that hugs much of Lake Michigan in Chicago. I got quiet in a way that wasn’t sitting on my couch or in my bed. It was my way of getting grounded when I couldn’t practice yoga or exercise.
What’s your way? What’s the thing that makes you feel like you? I think that’s the easiest way to look at getting grounded. For someone like me, who hates running, every part of my body hates running, it may be good for me to get out there and run, but it’s not going to help me feel more like me. It’s likely to make me hate me. It’s likely to make me think, why can’t I do this? Why does running hurt my hips, my hack, my knees, my ankles? So that’s not my activity. I need to find the activity that makes it okay to be Melissa.
Why do we get grounded? When we’re grounded. When our brains are quiet and our body feels balanced, we’re better able to handle painful emotions. Our brains process better and we’re able to problem-solve. We can see opportunities.
So, do you need some ideas? Or do you know what does it for you? This is a great time to grab your journal and write about it.
So, here are some ideas. Not only is being near water awesome for me, always makes me feel grounded and happy, but being physically active helps me immensely. One of the first things I learned in dbt, which in different words I already knew, is to get out of my head. If we could all think our way out of problems, no one would have problems. Getting physically active helps what my brain is grappling with process. It helps my brain see it in a different way, but more importantly, it helps it move from my brain to my heart. When things feel clear in my heart, I can make decisions and problem solve.
For some people, it’s simple self-care; a long bubble bath, relaxing deeply into a restorative yoga pose, going to a yoga class or getting a massage. Those are some of my favorites and things that I often suggest to people who need a little push. What’s your way of feeling most like you?
At it’s best, the activity that makes you feel most like you is something that engages you body, mind and spirit.
Oh! I almost forgot, my other place where I feel most like me? The kitchen! It took me having my own restaurant to really love chopping veggies. As a chef sometimes I want to get past the chopping stage so I can create, but learning to slow down and be really present with each smell and feel of what’s on the cutting board in front of me has been a game changer. It’s mindful movement and it clears my brain, keeps me in the present moment and helps me feel grounded.
In these busy days of the holidays it may feel like getting grounded is impossible. Grab your journal and write about what activities make you feel like you. Then, plan to do at least one this week. A simple, easy one every day? That’s even better.
I love to hear from you, so let me know, in the comments what you’re doing to stay grounded this week.
If you need help figuring out how to get grounded, if you like the idea of having support on your journey, whatever it is, I am very excited to say that I have wellness coaching slots available. Wellness coaching is a mix of skill and tools, tailored for you, to help you achieve your goals, feel more like you, have a better life with less struggle. You can email or call me to set up a free 30 minute consultation and you can read more about it at the website.
Starting over is tough, isn’t it? Most often it feels like failure, doesn’t it? It feels like giving up .
I’ve been feeling this way. I’ve been starting over and I’ve been feeling like starting over, AGAIN, is just too much.
But starting over can also feel like freedom. It can feel like new beginnings and fresh tries.
Why, then why don’t we relish starting over more? Why doesn’t it feel like the beginning of a new school year? Why aren’t we excited about the freshness and the newness of it?
When I teach Vrksasana, or Tree Pose, I teach students that it’s okay to sway and even tilt a bit. That’s what trees do, right? They sway in the wind and they even can come to tilt. It’s not about keeping a perfectly straight pose.
But when they topple off their roots, I teach students to resist the urge to jump back in and pretend nothing happen. How often do we fall out of tree pose and hope no one is looking as we pop our foot right back up? Most often we wobble and fall right back out?
I teach them instead to come back to their center, to reset. Find their roots and feel strong and balanced before they pick up the foot to place it and grow their branches.
I also teach that this is one of those great pose lessons that translates into life off the mat. The lessons we learn on the mat, patience, acceptance, ease, surrender, slowly process in our body/mind/spirit and move into the rest of our lives.
So, why aren’t I learning this one?
When my dad got sick, I wanted to pick up at a moments notice and be wherever I needed to be. I lost a big client right when it happened, so I thought it was perfect timing. It was right before Christmas and it was scary, but there was so much going on I didn’t blink, I just did what I needed to do.
Admirable, right? Perhaps, but here I am a year later and I find that I never really reset. I never caught my breath and centered and grew my roots so that I could grow my branches. I pretended that nothing changed and just popped my foot back up there. I just continued what I was doing. I didn’t reset.
So, this year has been a rough one. There were more deaths, one after the other. There were big changes. Don’t get me wrong, some of them were fabulous changes, wonderful changes that are making me really happy.
There was a lot of struggle, though. Perhaps, more than there needed to be. Perhaps, if I had reset, I wouldn’t have had so much struggle, but I don’t want to push anything away and I don’t want to regret. So, I accept the struggle. I try to be graceful in the face of all the tough stuff.
Yoga has also taught me that the more I push away, the more I resist, the bigger the problem/issue becomes. Sometimes the more I stretch a tight muscle or area, the tighter it becomes. It’s tight for a reason. Sometimes the answer is to make the muscle fire. By engaging the muscle, it’s able to release and relax.
With this concept in mind, I often ask students watch where their brain goes when they approach a pose. Are you resisting something, I ask. Is this a pose you resist? Sometimes the things that we resist the most are the things that we need the most. I love when they remind me that I’ve said this.
I’ve been resisting and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I’ve been resisting resetting. I don’t know if it’s because it would really make me face my grieving in a real, this-is-the-new-normal way, or if it’s something different.
Either way, it’s time to reset. It’s time to feel grounded and clear and state my intention. It’s time for me to release the grieving process, thank it for everything it’s done for me and live my life with renewed intention.
So, again, without realizing it, I’ve been processing. I’ve been getting clear. My brain has been working while I’ve been meditating and on the mat, teaching and even while I’ve been sleeping.
It’s time for Tree Pose, the perfect pose to feel grounded and strong.
This morning I had a text conversation with a friend. As we were saying goodbye, we reminded each other that we’re goddesses and even goddesses struggle sometimes.
Then I remembered, that pain is a part of life, but struggling/suffering is optional. The tools are here, I just need to use them.
Off to practice Tree Pose and step out of the struggle.
Yesterday, I woke up feeling a bit defeated and lost. Where had my inspiration gone? I found it. In the most unlikely of places, I found what I needed to hear to remind me why I do what I do.
I’m getting ready to teach Yoga for Anxiety and Depression and it’s another of those “Oh, Yeah” moments. The feedback that I get from teaching this workshop is so affirming, so damn delicious that it keeps me afloat till the next time I teach it.
What keeps you inspired and motivated? What, you didn’t think it was just supposed to float down over you every morning upon waking, did you? We all need to work on it.
Today, I’m working hard to get people signed up to everything I’m offering in the next month or so.
I very consistently struggle with working on my business versus working in my business. Sometimes I need to spend so much time sending out emails and the newsletter and creating flyers, that I don’t get a chance to plan yoga workshops and meal plans for clients or create new recipes. It’s a tough balancing act.
So this was my office today. I drove to Starbucks in Oak Park so I could focus, cause I find that when I’m sitting listening to the canned music, hearing inane conversations around me I get more done than I do at home or in a library.
Today I needed to get a lot done, because I’m feeling this urgency to what I do. I know, I’m a yoga therapist and a chef, how can there be any urgency to what I do? I have so much to say. I have so much to teach. I work primarily with people who have anxiety and depression. Sometimes I work with people who have back pain, but most of those people also have anxiety or depression.
I have put together some spectacular offerings for the next months, but I find myself either working on them, or working on getting the word out and the work is slow going.
This year I shifted how I think about mental health. I am on a mission to inspire other people to start thinking differently about it too.
We are all taught to take care of ourselves physically. In school we’re taught games and sports to keep us active. We have health class and sometimes nutrition class. Most of us get at least a semester of biology,. We are super focused on our physical health in the US. We don’t teach our children, nor we do we take the time to teach ourselves about mental health.
I’m on a mission to change that. I may have to do it one online class and one yoga workshop at a time, but I’m terribly excited about helping people shift the way they think about mental health.
A few months ago I was listening to Dr. Michelle Mazur over at Rebel Rising podcast. She asked this excellent question of we heart-centered entrepreneurs. She asked what are you you fighting against? What is your rebellion. And she asked us to think about three words that represent our rebellion.
This was easy for me. Not only do I deeply believe that we need to start thinking differently about mental health issues, but mental health as a whole. We need to consistently engage in mindful and intentional self-care because our brains need it. They crave it. Giving ourselves breaks, taking care of ourselves in mindful ways, helps our brains stay healthy, just like eating leafy green vegetables and working out is good for our physical health. Just like it.
Today, I got an email from a client telling me how much she struggles with feeling that she should be doing better than she is at certain things in her life. She hears the shoulds all the time, but she didn’t know that it’s a form of beating herself up. She didn’t know the damage the negative self-talk can do-to her relationships or to her own self-esteem.
So I wrote to her about shame. I shared Brene’ Brown’s TED Talk about vulnerability. This is where my passion for teaching people to stay present in the moment and let go of the shoulds and the shouldn’ts.
I had a great day at my office today. I got a lot done. I got inspired to do more, but it still feels overwhelming. It feels like there’s so much to do and I have so much to say.
I love what I do. I feel so damn lucky everyday that I get to do what I do.
That’s all today. I don’t have any huge point. I just like sharing about my day when I feel inspired to post about my office. It’s my way of checking-in and I find checking-in incredibly satisfying. It helps me feel connected.
Now several hours later, I’m still working. Or, I should say I’m back to it. I’m at home, but I have my trusty new Starbucks’ cup and reviewing the last season of Grey’s Anatomy. I like having noise on in the background while I’m working.
SO, if you want to see the stuff I worked on today, you can go to our community. You can follow me on Instagram. Want to hear about all the online work and workshops? The newsletter went out with all the deals and specials! I’ve also been recording at the podcast and the first day of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Challenge we started there!
I love when you see what I’m doing and you share your feedback with me. It makes me feel connected. I love seeing things in the comments and I love when someone new emails me and tells me what they thought of my podcast/blog post/IG post.
Thank you for listening to my angst and my pain over this hard year. I believe that I am finally on the other side of it cause I have more days like today than before. I have more days where I wake up and feel energized and excited about what I’m here to do. I feel inspired and motivated and it’s because of all the people that I am so blessed to work with, whether it’s online, in workshops or around social media.
I hope you’re having a great day wherever your office is!