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Love Yourself Challenge

LoveYourself21-1024x585Over at A Yogi Kitchen at Mighty Network we’re in the middle of Love Yourself Challenge. It’s a month of journal prompts, yoga poses and mindfulness tools to help you open your heart to yourself.

We started May 15th, but due to technical difficulties, we’re behind, so you haven’t missed that much. Join us! You work on your own pace, so you can work to catch up or just star a few days behind. No worries.

Journal Prompt:

What can you do today that will benefit your future self?

It could be something simple, like a super nutritious, delicious meal. It could be doing an extra mile during your run today. It could be a massage, or an hour spent reading for yourself.

Want to check out this prompt and more?

Join our community for lots of mindful ways to  manage body/mind/spirit, get inspired, motivated and connect with like-minded yogis. We have topics, like The Mat and The Kitchen, where we talk about and I teach about Delicious Yoga and Mindful Food. For now our community is FREE, join us and join both the Love Yourself Challenge and  BreatheEcourse, the online Free course for mindfully managing mental health.

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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.

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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.

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The Top Way I Stop a Panic Attack

This post is an email from the October session of the free BreatheEcourse; mindfulness to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD. Enjoy! 
4 Day BreatheLet’s work on DBT!. But first a quick word about journaling.

If you’re struggling with the journaling, as I know some of you do, set a timer. Set the alarm on your phone. Write just for ten minutes. I know that sometimes we pressure ourselves to  write down every single thought and then it feels like we started an avalanche.

There are no rules to journaling. You don’t have to capture every thought or every moment of your day. You write what and how much you want.

It’s like being on the mat. You’re in the moment and you notice what you notice. We don’t have time for every pose during a session and that’s okay. We don’t even get in every pose we know and usually we don’t get to practice a pose for as long as we’d like. So just write and don’t get overwhelmed by thinking it has to be a certain way.

Okay, so we’re just going to talk about my favorite dialectical behavior skill. It falls under TIP.

Temperature change
Intense Exercise
Progressive relaxation

I know you think we’re going to talk progressive relaxation. Nope! My favorite TIP skill is temperature change. It works like a charm for me. Before DBT no one ever told me that I could stop panic attacks. i was just supposed to get better at enduring them.

Yuck!

Remember, our goal is to move into Wise Mind. (Wise Mind is when we’re not engaging in black or white thinking, but settling into the place in the middle; the plaid place) When emotions are feeling big, we want to run towards Wise Mind.

Let’s take two people. Let’s pretend they’re in a relationship and they’ve had a huge fight. And they happen to be complete opposites. One is very analytical and fact-based and the other is very creative and feelings-based.  The person who swings towards Emotion Mind is crying and feeling sick and feeling like everything is over and is completely in their feelings. This person my seem hysterical and beyond talking to. The person who tends to Reasonable Mind is having trouble accessing their emotions, is gathering facts and weighing pros and cons to decide the next step. This person may seem like they’re not engaging cause they’re already analyzing the facts and already thinking about the next step.

So it’s January and one person goes for a walk in the cold and the other hops in the shower. A cold shower. This blast of cold shifts both their brains’ chemistry and soothes their nervous systems. Individually, they move towards Wise Mind.

termperature changeThe Emotion Mind person is able to quiet the big feelings, be not quite so much in the high emotion of the body, but into what is really true for the body, move a bit into the head and gather some facts, moving more towards that middle ground. They realizes that despite this being hard and feelings being hurt their partner is generally kind and loving and they have survived fights before and this will pass.

The Reasonable Mind person is able to get out of the head so much and move into the body/heart. They feel the hurt and pain of fighting with their love and can say, I really don’t like this feeling. I don’t want to do this anymore.

Because they were each able to move into Wise Mind, they were able to come to a place where they could value each other and the relationship and maybe even take some steps to ensure this fight doesn’t repeat itself.

Now, I just like that outcome. It didn’t have to be that way. They could have moved into Wise Mind and the Emotion Mind could have gathered facts and decided that these fights are happening way too often and this isn’t the kind of relationship they want. Reasonable Mind could have got into their emotions and decided that it hurts too much to fight like this and it’s not worth it.

Both are valid outcomes because they came from Wise Mind. The opposite might be that Emotion Mind, crying and screaming ran out of the house and called all the friends that were going to say that their  partner is a louse and doesn’t deserve them. The Reasonable Mind might have started a pros and cons list, leaving out emotions and decided that the best thing is to break up. In a few days when they moved more towards the middle ground they might both regret their decision. Some regrets can be fixed. Some can’t.

I’m a huge fan of Temperature Change. Years ago, before I took DBT I was in the beginning stages of a panic attack. I couldn’t catch my breath, I was sweating, my heart was pounding, I was nauseated. I got afraid, which is the worst thing you can do for a panic attack. If you start to fear it coming on, you just make it grow. So I was snowballing fast.

I was with my ex, who grabbed the biggest bowl in my cabinet, fill ed it with ice and water and told me to plunge my face. I really don’t like super cold, so I resisted. He was adamant. I did it once, came up gasping and he made me do it again. I did it again and when I came up it was like someone had covered me with a heated blanket. I felt this warm calm. My breathing had slowed down. My heart stopped pounding. I wasn’t sweating anymore. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe that a panic attack stopped completely. It sold me on DBT. I signed up a few months later.

I highly recommend DBT to anyone who’ll listen. It honestly changed my life.

I love what I teach and believe in it, but the DBT program is amazing. If you’re interested in learning more DBT skills from a yoga teacher consider signing up for BreatheOnline, which starts January 21st.  If you like the group therapy vibe, check out your local mental health facility. Occasionally some therapists teach it one-on-one, but Marsha Linehan says if you’re not getting it from a team of therapists, it’s not DBT.

2018BreatheOnlineWhat can you do to shift your brain chemistry? Try a few things. Change your Temperature. Run around the block as fast as you can for some Intense Exercise, especially great for anger emotions. Go to YouTube for some Progressive relaxation recordings. Keep a list of the tools that work the best for you.

Post that list somewhere you will see it over and over again. The fridge, the medicine cabinet, on your dashboard.

Happy Managing!

Contact me to sign up for the Free BreatheEcourse. Drop me an email. Or, if you’re ready for deeper work and an opportunity to practice the skills and tools while getting support, community and connection, join me for BreatheOnline!

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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!. 

 

 

 

 

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Final Friday, What Are You Celebrating?

Friday!It’s THE Final Friday!! What are you celebrating? This is the question I ask every week over at BreatheOnline’s secret Facebook group. Every Friday we celebrates the wins.

So, what are your wins? We’re talking the whole year. We’re talking the new job/love/marriage/house, but we’re also talking the healthy choices you made this year. What have you done that’s good for you body/mind/spirit this year?

I posted the Final Friday check-in at the blog this morning and had some answers. The podcast is new

One listener shares,  “My win: getting involved in politics again with Brand New Congress!”

Someone else shares, “I started treating my business like a business instead of a hobby.”

My wins? I shared a bit on the podcast, but there were so many more! I encourage you to grab your journal and just start a list.

What are you celebrating? What are your wins?

Mine?

This year I moved to New York, a lifelong dream. You can check out my pics on Instagram to see just how much I love it. It exhilarates me, energizes and makes me smile every day. Every. Day.

A Yogi Kitchen grew. I helped more people find balance, learn more tools to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD and heal more backs than ever.  This is my dream and my passion. I love healing people, teaching people, offering love], support and guidance.  I couldn’t ask for more out of a career. Everyday IO am happy to do what I do. Everyday i look forward to what I do. It’s a good life.

I didn’t plan this, but while I lost a major source of income by circumstances outside of my control, I also let go of someone who violated my boundaries over and over. The relief about it all ending has been immense, a sure sign that I wasn’t listening to myself. Last year, I had a client ask for more and more from me and because she’s in her 80s, doesn’t have kids or relatives near by, I was consistently saying yes to her. She was asking me to do things that I wouldn’t ordinarily do. While our reasons for parting ways was surgery and a long rehab stay, the relief was huge. So, I’m having to scramble to make up this lost income, but it’s still a win to have this stress and disrespect end.

My dad is dying. I talked about this in the podcast. Not only is the win the sense of peace and closure we have, the two of us, but I am able to be still and open with him. Today my sister had the end of life talk with him. He’s a peace with most of their conversation. My sister just this moment texted me that my dad is worried about everyone being okay. So, I’m sitting at a bar typing and crying. It’s actually a win. My dad can be an ass and hearing that he is worried about us when he’s dying is more than I expected of him. It’s sweet and kind and selfless, not words I would use regarding my dad before that text two minutes ago. My sister and I are a great team. We are respectful and kind to each other, are on the same page about everything, and haven’t had hostile word yet. Win! We will be able to walk my dad home. Win!


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My love and I are feeling closer and stronger than ever. This year I got THE ring.  It is gorgeous in a way I never anticipated. We’d talked about a completely different kind of ring, one that we both liked. He asked if I wanted a diamond and I don’t. Not only do I not want to wear anything with the ethical issues on my finger, but it’s not really me. We shopped together and never found THE ring. I thought we were putting it on the back burner until we found something perfect. AND THEN,  he saw this one. It’s not a great pic and you can’t really tell that it’s sapphire, but believe me, it’s beautiful. And it’s perfect. It is so me, without me realizing that it’s me. I love it. A friend who has known me since childhood, says that he knows me better than I know myself. So, just to calm any gossip. I am not engaged. This is the walk down the aisle for us. This is us for the rest of our lives. This person is perfect for me, knowing me better than I know myself. I am a happy woman. =

Health is good, that’s a win.

I have the best of friends, who love me and support me, letting me talk and listen and check-in with me through everything I’ve been through this year. Win! I attended my 30th year HS reunion this year. It was SO much fun and SO full of deep connection that I am making more of an effort to stay in contact with this family. I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

So, this is my win list for right now. I could go on. It’s not to say that there weren’t parts of the year that sucked, that sweetie and I never fight or that everything is simple and easy. Life is hard. There’s no playbook, no rules. We’re all just figuring it out as we go along, but focusing on the wins makes life feel so much richer and sweeter.

 

The wins are so big and important that over at BreatheOnline‘s secret Facebook page, we check-in with wins every single week of the six week series. Join us January 21!