Image

My Office Today, May 24.

The Palmer House lobby is one of my favorite places in Chicago. Over 20 years ago, when I worked at DePaul University, I would come here and eat my home-packed lunch. Or I’d take an afternoon break and drink hazelnut coffee as we did in the 90s. Now it makes me nauseated.

Today, I sit here and work with my Starbucks from the downstairs cafe. It’s my office today. It is grand and beautiful and inspires and motivates me. It is marble and wood, colors and soft lighting. It brings me back to my 20s. It brings me back to a time when a lot of things were different.

I’m sitting here, lost in a time before my kids, to when I was still married AND in love. It reminds me of when my life felt all in front of me and a time when my dad was still in this world.

This grieving thing is a weird game. Everyone’s parents die. It’s not shocking or surprising. I’m not overly sad and I don’t miss him all that much. However, for every breath I took up until two and a half months ago, my dad was breathing too.

There’s a song by Sara Thomsen that goes, The air that is my breath is the air that you are breathing. And the air that is your breath is the air that I am breathing. That song, By Breath, keeps running through my head and makes me think of my father. And it hurts.

I’m surprised that it hurts, and not surprised. We had a complicated relationship and I didn’t need to see him all the time. I didn’t even need to talk to him all that often, but the idea that he doesn’t exist anymore is tough.

I’m not naive. This isn’t about him. This isn’t about wasted life or forgiveness. It’s completely about me. About me being a certain age, the age that one gets to be when one’s parent dies of old age. It’s about a big part of my life being over. It’s about  being okay with knowing that you don’t get the parents you think you should get. You get the parents you get and everyone is a little disappointed at one point in their life or another. And more than that being true, it’s about being okay with that being true.

This month I’m doing the Love Yourself Challenge over at Mighty Network. I am teaching,  explaining, cajoling, begging people to take care and love themselves and I am trying to remember to do that too.

Self-love/self-care is one of the hardest things I teach. I can’t make someone love themselves. they have to believe they are worthy on their own, in their own time.

As I’m accepting my dad’s death, limitations and failures, I find a new freedom in loving myself and feeling worthy . As we’re learning big, big, long held secrets I’m not ashamed, alarmed or embarrassed. Who he was, what he did and who he hurt has nothing to do with me. As hard as it was for him to love me, it was even harder for him to love himself.

As I’ve been grieving, so many people have reached out. Some to just check-in. Some to tell me they relate and understand. Others just to let me know I am loved and cared for.  I’ve had many who’ve thanked me for sharing this journey, even during the raw parts, without a lot of editing. I’m so grateful to you all. Thank you for walking this part of the path with me. 

It’s because you held this space for me, gave me your love and support that I’ve had these big shifts. I’m so grateful. Thank you.

Advertisements
Image

My Office May 10th

i woke up at 3am because I wasn’t packed. I had a surprise out of town visitor for a few days, which was lovely, but threw my schedule off. Then I took a Lyft, two planes and a drive to get to Lawrence, KS. Got to the house and there were people working, so I kept driving and arrived here, 715, my favorite Lawrence treat. The smoked trout crostini is my all time favorite dish.

Waiting for a college friend to join me and then I get to see the boy after school. A whole week of single parenting, which means just mother/son time!!

So, this is my office today. I’ve gotten away from posting these. The last few months have been an upheaval with lots of change and shifts. As always, it’s never a finished product. It’s always a wonder to see where the dots connect. I think My Office Today Series should come back.

I’m behind. That feels like always, so perhaps, as my friend Sheila Pai has tried to teach me, I’m right where I belong.

Thanks for being patient with me and always checking-in. There is so much going on. I don’t usually do this in the blog, but I feel compelled to catch you up on all the upcoming events.

Tomorrow we practice together in Lawrence, KS! So looking forward to this. As you may have noticed, I don’t think like most people. It’s taken me a long time to see this as my gift, my super power. Ni surprise that this shows up in my work and I don’t teach like most people. My students ask where they can find someone who teaches like me and I don’t have an answer for them. So excited to teach a regular old yoga class, like I used to in Lawrence. MelissaYoga is at OmTree Shala, 12:30-2p. There is still room to join us!

Sunday, we begin to mindfully manage mental health in new ways with BreatheEcourse, a Free 7 day class full of yoga poses, nutrition, breath work, journal prompts to help you put together a plan that works just for you.

Tuesday, May 15th, we start Love Yourself Challenge that goes through June 15th. It’s a whole month of journal prompts, breath work and yoga poses to help you balance your heart chakra, love yourself more and better and put self-care in the forefront where it belongs. It’s Free and in addition to the daily emails, it’s a community for support, sharing and connection.

Finally, June 10th we’re starting another session if BreathOnline. This is the online version of Yoga for Anxiety and Depression and the longer, more in depth version of BreatheEcourse. It’s a huge deal at $180 for six weeks of tips, tools, community and connection to help you find some ease and manage times of high emotion. Learn yoga poses, dialectical behavior therapy skills, journaling, nutrition, mindfulness and breath work to help soothe your nervous system, quiet and clear your brain and manage some of the sometimes debilitating symptoms; insomnia, muscle aches and pains, nausea, headaches just to name a few.

Wow! That’s a lot, but I’m super excited. After my dad’s death it’s taken me awhile to get back in the swing of things. I am finally feeling like I can put in full days of work. I feel inspired and motivated for us to dig deep together and do some really big healing.

2018 has become a year for making big changes. I so hope you’ll join me!

You can join BreatheEcourse and Love Yourself Challenge by dropping me an email, mel@ayogikitchen.com and join BreatheOnline by heading over to http://ayogikitchen to the Breathe page and making a payment, which secures your spot and gets you the first email.

Image

What If You Planned For The Unexpected?

Wednesday!I’m in the middle of teaching BreatheEcourse, the free seven day course to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD with mindfulness skills and tools. In a little over a week, I start teaching BreatheOnline, the six week version I developed from Yoga for Anxiety and Depression to do the same, but slower and with more depth and opportunities to practice the skills and tools.

So, I’m thinking a lot, everyday, about managing stress, mental health, life.

Over at BreatheOnline, we check-in on Wednesdays to pause and take an assessment of the week.

How’s your week going so far? You probably had an idea on Sunday or Monday of what the week would look like. Take a minute to pause, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. How does the reality of the week measure up to the intentions set at the beginning of the week?  Are you feeling worried about getting everything done this week? Are you feeling like you’re on track to have a successful week?

This is the day that you can pivot, shift or keep on keeping on.  This is the moment to set intention again. Wednesdays get a bad rap, but they the perfect day to reset, to begin again, to redirect.

Life happens and things are out of our control. People get sick, there are snowstorms, cars break down. We anxiety, depression and PTSD people can let that derail us. Rather than be surprised by the unexpected or stressed or upset that we can’t control life, what if you planned for the unexpected?

What if on a daily basis you left blank places in your calendar as cushions for the unexpected? So when your kid calls during a meeting to tell you that she forgot her cello, you actually have space to shift things around and help her out. What if daily you said to yourself, I need to prepare for the unexpected and you meditated and drank an extra glass of water? What would preparing for the unexpected look like for you?

Join us January 21st for BreatheOnline. Get six weeks of practicing mindfulness tools and skills as well as connection and community! At the end of six weeks you have a plan to help you manage stress, mental health, life. Get a free one-on-one session with me to help you create that plan and receive custom yoga poses and breath work to ensure your success!. 

 

 

 

 

Image

The Fuck-its Or, Double Fisting on Monday

Happy Monday! I started my social media interaction this morning sounding more bright and cheery than I feel. If you don’t know me personally, or haven’t figured out by my online presence, I’m a pretty happy person. Bubbly, I’ve been told. People think that I’m one of those people who whitewashes my FB feed so my life looks perfect, which is really surprising to me because when I look at my posts I don’t see perfect. At all.

This Monday, I’m not feeling it. I’m not feeling bubbly or even energetic. I’m dragging, I’m sad and I’m feeling a bit….it’s not hopeless, cause that would be bigger than this. I think I have a case of the fuck-its. It’s that place where I feel like I’m the only one who cares about the holidays, so why bother. I just had to postpone my workshops and two of my clients with depression are really struggling, so why bother? The whininess goes on.

It’s a crappy place to be, but I’ll get to the other side. I always do.  The thing about the fuck-its, is that they can lead us to some dangerous places. They can lead us to some pretty destructive behavior.

Getting Quiet

Getting Quiet and finding connection are two great ways to chase the fuck-its away.

So, what do you do? Here’s what I know. Catching the fuck-its as soon as you can identify them and doing something about them is way easier than pulling yourself out of a bottle of gin and another bad-choice-sex-encounter. Catching the fuck-its before you get to hopeless is going to save you a lot of billable hours at your shrink’s office.

I also know that the more aware you are of your ups and downs, the more honest you can be with how you’re feeling body/mind/spirit in any given moment, the easier it’s going to be able to see the fuck-its and move around/through/past them.

Managing the fuck-its means loving yourself and nurturing yourself with self-care. It means doing for yourself first. It’s time to stop putting yourself on the back burner and taking care of everyone before you

So, here’s what I’m doing today. I’ve been on the run for a few weeks and dealing with my dad being hospitalized twice in the last two months, and is on his second acute care facility. I’ve been working long hours, flying a lot, driving to Salem every weekend for four or five weeks. I’m tired. So, today, I’m not juggling. I’m just doing some work and taking it easy. Cause when we’re constantly in multi-=tasking mode our brains get tired. Really tired. When I’m in Lawrence, I have out with friends and drink more often than I normally would, over a shorter period of time.

Double fisting

So, today, I’m double fisting it. I’m having hot, strong, black coffee, cause i love it and it doesn’t feel like morning if I don’t have some. I’m also drinking Gingerade Kombucha, cause I’m probably dehydrated and because living foods helps me bounce back. It helps even when I’m just flying, it’s a super-tonic when I have ALL these things going on at once in my life.

Dehydration makes everything bigger and harder. It makes your physical ailments harder to manage. Pain is worse, tight muscles get tighter, tension gets more tense. Dehydration can be the cause of sleepiness, fogginess, even inappropriate hunger.

I’m sleeping extremely well these days and I’m not someone who likes to or believes in over-sleeping, so I’m letting myself just do it. I’m letting myself just sleep as much as I find prudent. Now, if I were someone who really likes to sleep, who finds sleep a welcome escape, I would do the opposite. Hypersomnia can be a real problem for those of us with depression and anxiety and indulging in too much sleep can be a slippery path.

I’m making sure that I hang out with friends and family a lot., The fuck-its like two options; isolation or hanging out with other people with the fuck-its. That makes the fuck-its sing and dance.

So, for today, I’m double fisting coffee and kombucha at the library. I have two friends I’m waiting to hear from to see if we’ll meet for lunch or a drink later. Until then, I think I’m going home to nap.

 

Want to connect with me more? I’m all over. Join me on Facebook for tips, tools, skills to make your life more manageable with mindfulness and yoga. Work with me one-on-one. See my travels, cooking and eating on Instagram or see what I’m thinking on Twitter, search A Yogi Kitchen for either @BreatheBostonNY or @BreatheLawrence. Looking forward to getting to know you better! 

 

 

 

 

Extreme Self-Care

wpid-img_20150912_153400964_hdr.jpgThis week my BreatheOnline class is focusing on self-care. It’s a way of managing anxiety and depression, but it’s also a form of self-love that too many of us ignore.  Earlier in the week I asked my students to journal about self-care. They wrote about their feelings about the idea of self-care, about what self-care looks like to them and  I wrote to the, at length, about what self-care is not. It’s not maintenance.

Ironically, today, i practiced extreme self-care. Which pretty much means, I did nothing.  Now usually when I practice self-care I practice restorative yoga, I meditate, I get a massage, I walk by the ocean, I write for an extra long time in my journal.

I had good intentions. I really did. With everything that’s going on with the protests and the constant barrage of news and with some personal relationship stuff, I’m just exhausted. So, I took it easy. I stayed in bed till after nine. I procrastinated by surfing around the internet. I walked to lunch and thought I’d stop at the library to print flyers. It just seemed like too much. So, I went back home, buying a Little Debbie Swiss Roll on the way. I napped.  I talked to my daughter. I wanted to work out, but I was too tired, so I took a long walk in the snow and bought paper towels and roast beef for a simple sandwich dinner. I was quiet and I turned inward.heartopeningIII

I watched a lot of Netflix today. My house is a bit of a mess. The sink has a lot of dishes.  There’s laundry waiting on the floor by the closet.

And you know what? It’s okay. All that stuff will be there tomorrow. I gave myself permission to just have a quiet day of Netflix, napping and snacking. The work will always be there. The chores will always be there. Today, I put myself first.

My Office Today

Here’s my office today. It’s not that exciting or even glamorous, but I keep telling you, that my traveling, teaching and cooking looks a lot more glamorouwp-image-235589148jpg.jpgs than it actually is.

I’m at the YMCA. I just got back to Salem,  MA which is the perfect place to be in September. Fall is my favorite season and nowhere does fall like the Northeast!

Since I started traveling and working, well, actually since I started splitting my time between the Midwest and the Northeast I’ve worked hard to make my life make sense depending on where I am.  When I added cooking in New York (I’d like to add yoga workshops soon),  the balance shifted again. New York is packed. I cook long days, see friends, enjoy the energy of the city, try to go to a show, eat at a lot of restaurants, sampling new cuisines and creative food ideas. Last week, I saw Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, which i hadn’t seen in 20 years back in Chicago. 30 plays in 60 minutes by the NeoFuturists. Lots of fun, great energy and terrific writing. It makes my life look calm. Most significantly, though, I work A LOT. I’m mentally and physically exhausted by the end of my 8-10 days there.

I used to think that this lifestyle required balance. I tried to figure out the balance. I poo-pooed all those articles that said balance isn’t truly achievable and we’re torturing ourselves trying to get it. I still think balance is possible, but I’m older and my life has shifted quite a bit.  Balance isn’t my focus so much anymore. I have a new word. Flow. It’s about the flow. It’s about one part of my life sliding into another.

My life waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows. New York is about outward energy. It’s creativity and excitement, creating new connections and deepening old ones. It’subways and lots and lots and lots of walking. Salem is about turning in, self-care, nestling in, introspection, intuition, self-love and peace. Next is Lawrence, which is about family and parenting, connecting inward and outward, remembering my Midwestern roots, being barefoot, dancing in the street, traditions and celebrations. Waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows.

So, today I’m at the Y. It’s a really nice Y. There are lots of windows and natural light. There are a wide variety of cardio machines, yoga equipment, empty rooms with mirrors to lift or stretch on your own. The best part about this Y? There is a cafe and a steam room.

For the next three weeks I am in Salem. My life is a little slower. I’m teaching Practices for Peace, a yoga workshop to radiate the peace you want to see in the world. But that’s it. I’m seeing private clients in my yoga office on Derby St. I’m going to a few clients’ homes. But that’s it. I’m writing so I can teach Breathe, an online yoga course for anxiety and depression in January. But that’s it. I’m cooking for fun and for my honey. I may work on a few new recipes. But that’s it.

So, you see my problem. The next three weeks are quieter, but not exactly quiet. I keep saying but that’s it, and then adding one more thing, agreeing to see one more client-in her home 20 miles away.

I’m learning, though. I’m also taking long leisurely fall walks and going to the Berkelee Jazz Festival next weekend and celebrating my daughter’s 20th birthday and spending lots and lots of cuddly time with my sweetie, cause he doesn’t travel with me.

Not quiet. Just flowing into a slower pace.

Today, I’m steaming, drinking coffee, writing, stretching and enjoying fall in the Northeast. I’m letting my body be still a lot and pampering it with steam and hydrating cause when I cook I forget to drink. I’m tending to my lovely clients, my kids, my sweetie.

Oh, and there may be some wine drinking when I cook Curry Chickpeas tonight.

Wax and wan, ebb and flow.

 

Self Care Weekend

In the last month I’ve signed up for two self-care online retreats. TWO! Guess how much I’ve done of either?

You probably guessed none and you’re right.

Last week my body was really tired from driving from Kansas to Massachusetts and then driving my daughter to college, unpacking her and getting her settled. I was in pain by Labor Day. It took all of my boyfriend’s cajoling and a little shaming to get me to the massage therapist.

I am one of those people who care for and heal other people, but resist caring for myself. I go through stages where I decide to be really mindful and I do a great job of meditating, getting massages, long, luxurious asana practices and then life gets busy or I feel like too many people need me and I stop. Cold turkey.

This weekend I indulged in a little more self-care than usual. I lay in the hammock and meditated in the early morning sunshine. I let my eyes get soft and just watched the breeze sailing through the fluttering leaves, I listened to birds and noticed the shifting shadows. I rocked gently and noticed my body, the aches the pains, the creaky cranky places and just listened to what she had to tell me. I observed myself observing this. I listened to what my brain was doing, judging, not judging, planning. I let the thoughts float in and out.

wpid-img_20150912_153400964_hdr.jpg

The weekend was full of long walks, working out, long showers, rich coffee and a trip to the beach. Despite living just minutes from two great beaches, we don’t go that often. It was a return to myself in a way. I grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan and spent many days with my eyes closed just listening to the sound of the waves, the breeze, kids playing, dogs barking and 80s music on the radio. So this weekend, i just closed my eyes and listened. I felt the sun on my skin, the breeze blowing over my body and the squishy sand under my body. It reminded me who I was.

Returning to familiar settings is such a treat. It can automatically take you back. The real delight is that your brain doesn’t differentiate between past and present. As someone who has some PTSD that often isn’t a great thing, but for this perfect afternoon it was heaven. I got to feel like my teenage self, which in retrospect had few problems and worries. It was like taking a vacation.

So, maybe this weekend take some time for yourself. Get out your paints or a new journal. Lie in a park or at the beach. Let your mind just rest. Let your body relax. Take a moment to return to you.