Blog

Learning the lesson the easiest way possible

www.rosiemolinary.com

A few weeks ago, I lost my breakfast. This is not some euphemistic way for me to say I was sick. Nope, I literally could not find my breakfast when I got to the Sugar Shack after carefully packing yogurt, a piece of cheese, and two Cuties to eat at my desk. I tore my backpack apart and it was nowhere. I went back to the kitchen to search for it and found nothing. It was like I had never packed it. Except I knew I had.

Then, the next week, I lost my keys. I resorted to using my single spare key for the car, not even actively bothering to try and find my keys because I knew it would be futile. Given how long gone my breakfast was, I figured there was no way my keys would be in a reasonable place.  Sure enough, several days later, I found my keys in our garage, on top of our grill. I had laid them on top of the grill while loading my trunk one day and then never thought twice about them.

The next day, I thought I lost my debit card. I hadn’t. The friend I was out to lunch with had to point out that it was right in front of me. The next week, I was making fun of myself thinking I had lost my debit card while at the same restaurant with another friend and I left the card there.  I called the restaurant as soon as I realized what I had done and they insisted they didn’t have it. I drove to the bank and cancelled the card.  At closing that night, the restaurant called back to say they had it.

Back in the Sugar Shack, I went to put away some receipts in my tax files. I keep my tax files in one of those magazine holders.  There, I found my breakfast from three weeks ago. As you might image, it was not in good shape.  A flash of memory came back to me. I lost my breakfast on a Monday, the first work day after I had spent the weekend getting my tax documents together. I had brought my trusty little file box into the house to work on it.  Clearly, I had tucked my bag of breakfast into it before my ‘commute’ that Monday morning and then promptly forgot about it when I got out to the office, placed the file box on the shelf where it lives behind me in the shack and totally forgot about it.

I have this theory that life keeps handing you the lesson you need to learn until you learn it.  Miss the lesson the first time and you get another little prod. Miss it again, the prod turns into a nudge.  Again? The nudge into a shove.  Again? The nudge into a tackle. I have missed big lessons in my past- the nudge eventually turning into hospitalization and worse so now I try really hard to be attentive enough to learn my lessons much earlier so they aren’t quite so painful.

A couple weeks ago, at a visionSPARK workshop, a participant who is also a dear, inspiring friend shared that her word of the year was regenerate.  When she shared it, a flash of recognition fired through me. I desperately need to regenerate. For a while now, I have felt creatively and energetically bereft. My anxiety is up. I have had a sinus infection since mid-December that I just can’t shake. My to do list is way too long. Going back to teaching this semester after taking the fall semester off (my first semester off in eight years) has really taken the last little bit of stamina in me. Between the constant search for stuff I shouldn’t have lost (in addition to the anecdotes I regularly share, I am constantly back tracking into stores where I left my phone or keys on the counter while checking out), the flash of recognition when my friend mentioned regenerate, my understanding that I was being given the opportunity to learn a lesson early and less painfully than it might become later, my deep desire to be as intentional as possible, I stopped for a few minutes and made a plan to alter my course.

The plan:

  1. Get back on B12. I had a significant deficiency years ago that led to some cognitive issues. I took a B12 supplement for years but took myself off of it when recent years of blood work showed it was normal again. I probably shouldn’t have (and my annual blood work in a couple weeks might just prove that although hopefully restarting the supplement will be a valuable course corrector?).  Note to self: just stay on the B12.
  1. Manage the anxiety. I have actually been really proactive about this in the new year. My phone goes to bed super early (and far away from me) each afternoon because taking in news after about 7 pm was giving me heart palpitations. I am letting people know when I am just not in the place for a particular conversation, and I am journaling about things that fill me with optimism and hope.
  1. Being less productive.  My to do lists are exhaustive, but, if I am honest, I am doing lots of things that aren’t important in the grand scheme of things. I am trying to be cognizant of those things and just not adding them to my list, but I am also keeping a list so I notice even more of these things as I go. My list simply says Nourish at the top and has two columns one with a + at the top and one with a – at the top. At the end of the day, I jot down that day’s activities, classifying them in the right column. What am I doing that profoundly nourishes me or someone else? What am I doing that isn’t?  I hope to make wiser decisions about my choices in the future because of this list.  Also, our weekend used to always start with me leaving first thing Saturday morning for the grocery store. I would get home mid morning, and we unload the car, get the groceries unpacked and then practically be starting down lunchtime. Dragging my hyper-productivity into the weekend is a drag. For all of us. So even though it messes with my work time, I have moved grocery shopping to Thursday or Friday sometime during my work hours since I have the luxury of being able to do that. It is giving us more time to have fun as a family or be leisurely on the weekend.
  1. Really stopping my work day.  I pick up Happy at 3:30. Typically, I would worry about how much work I still had left to do because while I have full-time work, I don’t have traditional full-time hours available to me. This used to mean that I would sneak in work during homework time or after bedtime. Not anymore. I might answer a quick email and I usually have one evening meeting a week, but, other than that, I am honoring the work hours I have available to me.
  1. Working to feel better. My sinuses have been a key hindrance in my life. While I typically don’t get sick in any other way (I have never ever had strep throat for example),if I get a sinus infection, I will have it for anywhere from 1-3 months. Sinus infections greatly impact my forward progress—I feel like I get stalled right after making some sort of momentum when I am well. I want that to be less and less true. I am more than a year into allergy shots and while they probably have reduced my number of infections,  they don’t reduce the lenth and severity of the infections when I do get them. I am still fairly sick for at least half of each year. I’ve recently added a few more sinus wellness practices to my life and am actively researching other things I can do to improve my overall health.  If 2017 is the year of defeating sinus infections, that would be alright with me!

Now, I am not telling you all this so that you can be intimately in touch with what’s going on with me. I am sharing this with you because I want you to see how I go about seeing things in my life that I don’t love and intentionally trying to change them. My hope is that in sharing how I do this for myself, it might inspire you to consider if there are any lessons life is trying to teach you and, if so, what you need to learn and how you might implement those lessons in your own life. It’s not lost on me that in the dailyness of living, our intentionality can get lost and the only way that we can get back to it is by deliberately reminding ourselves of what we most need and guiding ourselves to it.

Here’s to learning our lessons the easy way.

it is not about the cupcake

photo by Jill E. Williams

photo by Jill E. Williams

As has become tradition here on the blog, every Valentine’s Day, I tell the same story.  It’s the story of one of the biggest fights in my marriage to BF.  And though it seems like it is about a cupcake, I cannot stress enough that it is NOT about the cupcake:

This is the funny thing about our marriage.  BF and I are about as different as two people can be.  I mean, we are seriously different.  But this has worked to our advantage because it means we have to communicate and compromise about everything.  Anyway, because of our differences, we know that we’re not going to feel the same about most things, and so we just go into every discussion knowing there will be lots of communication until we get to the other side.  Since we don’t expect to see eye to eye on everything, we rarely fight.  Except when BF takes something that is mine. Without asking.  Because I just think that is disrespectful.

The most common thing I don’t want to share without being asked is my dessert.  Not because I want the sugar so badly (okay, maybe a little bit is that), I swear, but just because I think you shouldn’t take something that is not yours.  It would be one thing if he asked.  It would be another thing if I didn’t ALWAYS say, “I have a cookie in there I really want to eat, please don’t eat it.”  But I always do, and he never listens.

It’s enough to drive a woman who once won a Holly Hobby cake in a raffle as a four year old but was sick the day it came home and her family devoured it without saving her a piece bonkers.  No, there are no issues here.  Move along.  I just want to explain that my territorialness about sugar, I mean asking, has deep roots.  And I am forthright about it.  You’d think a boy would learn. But he hasn’t.  Or maybe he has, because just last week there was a mini-sugar situation in our house.  But this time BF didn’t eat my cookie (I made him his own set of cookies as a surprise and just asked to have one that I sealed away in aluminum foil for later), he threw it away.  And we survived it, and everyone went to bed happy at our house (or maybe I’ve just learned that there is no guarantee that one will enjoy any sugary goodness that lands in our house).  Unlike Valentine’s Day 2007.  Speaking of Valentine’s Day, happy day, BF.  I wouldn’t trade you for the world.  Or even a cupcake which I know is kinda hard to believe.

Here is what happened on Valentine’s Day a decade ago:

I love cake.  Grocery store cake to be specific.  Give me some grocery store vanilla cake with vanilla icing and you have a girl who doesn’t need any other sustenance.

Anyway, for Valentine’s Day 2007, BF’s aunt gave us two cupcakes.  Grocery store cupcakes.  With a lot of icing.  I was so psyched about the cupcake that in the car, on the way home from dinner at his aunt’s house, I was talking about when I was going to eat my cupcake.  Yes, I am simple; I don’t play otherwise.  I know this about myself, but, here is the thing, I don’t ever get grocery store cake or cupcakes and so a little part of me was dancing inside from the rare impending sugar rush.

BF looked at me nonchalantly and said, “You can have my cupcake.”

“Are you kidding me,”  I asked.  “Because if you are, that is just cruel.”

“I am not kidding you,” he answered.  “I don’t need to be eating that.”  He actually said that line with a hint of self-satisfaction, as if he were mature enough to rise above the cupcake trance that I was so clearly in. But I ignored him because I knew that I needed the cupcake– both cupcakes.  Whatever, dude, be self-righteous.  I just want the cupcakes.

So I started planning, aloud in the car, when I would eat each cupcake.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,”  I exclaimed, as if he had given me something gold and shiny.  But this was better than gold and shiny.  Sugar is my gold and shiny.

Back home, I dropped my cupcakes off in the kitchen and then retreated to my office to work on whatever deadline I had approaching, and BF went to bed.  Finally at a good stopping place a couple hours later, I walked through the kitchen on the way to our bedroom.  My eyes darted to the cupcakes that I had so lovingly wrapped in tin foil.  Panic struck.  Even through the tin foil, I could see that one of the cupcakes was missing.  I opened up the foil.  Just one cupcake looked back.

Mercury rose through my spine.  I marched into the bedroom and noisily opened my dresser drawer, stomped my way into the bathroom, threw on every light, hummed my way through my bedtime routine until BF woke up with a jump.

“What?”  He asked, as he always does when he is awakened from a deep sleep (except for that one time I elbowed him to wake up his snoring self at the NUTCRACKER and he said something very different and not appropriate for the Nutcracker audience.  We have not returned to the Nutcracker. I think his picture might be somewhere on a wall saying “Do not let this man in.”  It was that bad.).

I turned to him, put my hands on my hips, and said “I can’t believe you would do something so tacky as to eat my cupcake without asking.”

“It was my cupcake,” he tried to reason.

“No it was not,”  I said.  “And that doesn’t matter because this is not about the cupcake.”

“It is too about the cupcake,” he insisted.

“It is not.  This is about you offering me something and then regretting the offer and rather than coming to ask me if you could have it back like an adult, you just did what you wanted.  That is no way to be in a partnership,”  I sneered.

“You’re just mad that I ate MY cupcake,” he volleyed.

“This is NOT about the cupcake,” I fumed and ranted and raved until we both just went to sleep.  And I promise it wasn’t about the cupcakes.  It was about what eating my cupcake without asking symbolized.  I swear.

In the morning, he looked at me when I hopped out of bed.  “I am sorry that I ate your cupcake,”  he offered.

“It’s not about you eating the cupcake,” I tried again.  “Don’t you get that?”

“Yeah, I do,”  he answered before leaving for work.  But I wondered all day if he really did get it.  Sure, I love cake, and I love the anticipation of cake.  But I also (kinda) love sharing things I love with people that I love, and I would have been happy to give the cupcake back if he had just asked (this part is true, I promise).  That night, he walked into the house with a six pack of grocery store cupcakes.

“What’s that?”  I honed in, my cake-dar on high.

“A peace offering,”  he answered.  “Now, you have five cupcakes all to yourself.”

I did a double take, clearly counting six cupcakes in the container.  “But there are six cupcakes,” the greedy little cake hoarder in me said.

“And one of them is mine,”  he smiled before walking into the kitchen, opening the case, and savoring his cupcake.

Wishing you the happiest of Valentine’s Day as you celebrate the love- whether it comes from partnership, child(ren), parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, yourself- you have and give in your life.  May nobody eat your cupcakes.

Love-In

Hey there, dear heart.

What a tender time it has been. I imagine that I am not alone in feeling that way. And so in response to all the hurts and heartaches, the feelings of fear and overwhelm, the desire to put good in the world and the desire to feel hopeful and good, I’ve partnered with the amazing Dr. Melody Moore, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Embody Love Movement Foundation, to host a FREE virtual Valentine’s Day Love-In. Want to shore up about your self-care and grow your self-love?

There has never been a more necessary time for LOVE – especially self-love.

This Valentine’s Day we are bringing you something special…an opportunity to have a date with inspiration and with yourself.

Yes! A date with YOU.

Join Rosie Molinary, author of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Acceptance, and Embody Love Movement founder, Dr. Melody Moore, for a LOVE-IN on Tuesday, February 14th!

Rosie and Melody will gather with you for a profound declaration of love as they share their wisdom on how to write a personal love covenant to powerfully guide how you can truly show up for yourself.

This FREE online session is just what you need to be with that special someone on this day of love – because that special someone is YOU!

Date: Tuesday, February 14th
Time: 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm EST/ 5:30pm to 6:30pm PST
Where: Online!

Writing Your Wellness

new beginnings

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve shared my new year’s rituals here. Today, I want to talk about the third thing I do each new year: write a wellness prescription.

Put super simply, a wellness prescription is a self-care plan that outlines how your need to be cared for (by you) physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to be your best self. A wellness prescription is imperative to me because for the longest time, I thought that my health, my wellness, and my sense of wellbeing just happened to me. Except as it turns out, I happen to it. I happen to it by understanding that I can choose to infuse my life with a deliberate embrace of intentional health, of making my body as whole as it can be, of giving my body and mind and soul what it needs so it can move me through life in harmony with the way that I most want to be. I do this not by coincidence or happenstance or luck. I do this by listening to my body, observing what it loves and doesn’t, respecting what it can and cannot do, and then working deliberately to provide it with the good stuff and ridding it of the bad stuff. I do this by following a personal wellness plan/ prescription.

Now, you might be wondering why I write a new wellness prescription each day (and, truth be told, it is a living document that can get tweaked at any time during the year, too). Life changes (you find a partner, you move across the country or world, a baby or child comes into your life, you replace your bike with a car or your car with a bike, you lose a partner, a parent, your way).  Your body changes (you have a short term illness, a long term illness, you break an arm, you take up a new sport). Your needs change (you require more sleep, less sleep, greater energy, less stress). The wellness plan I had in my mid-20s isn’t practical for me now in my early 40s. Sometimes, your wellness plan needs to even change by the seasons. Moreover, my wellness plan won’t work for my sister or my best friend, because it is not personalized for them, their experiences and needs, their bodies’ little quirks.

When we want intentional health we have to do the work of defining it and deciding to embrace it for ourselves (although, yes, there are some general touchstones that we all might want to factor into our plans).

And so at the beginning of each year, as part of my effort to be intentional, I revisit my wellness plan.  Today, I want to encourage you to do the same.

 Step #1  Name your core beliefs in terms of wellness.

For me, loving myself is about taking good care of my whole self- my body, mind, and soul- so that all of me might enjoy the work that I choose to do and that I am capable of doing it with less strain, stress, anxiety and more enjoyment, awareness, passion.

Caring for my body isn’t about punishing it. It is not about beating it into submission so that it might obtain a particular shape. It’s about listening to my body, giving it what it says it needs and maybe a little dash of what I know might be good for it even if it doesn’t particularly want it. With my wellness plan, I am not trying to achieve a certain weight or look.  I’m trying to achieve a feeling of optimism and optimal wellness for who I am and where I am now.

 Step # 2  Name what you need.

Think about what you need to be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Make a list of everything you need.

 Step # 3  Craft that into a wellness prescription.

If you could prescribe behaviors and actions to yourself based on what you most need, what would they be?  Make that list.

Step #4  Work your wellness prescription into your life.

Start to work your wellness prescription into your daily life. While some steps on the wellness prescription only happen once a year (preventive health appointments like physicals or mammograms, for example), others are actions you might want to take daily. This year, I am trying a daily habit tracker to help me keep up with the daily habits that are important to me. I am using this one if you are interested in trying one for yourself.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017 for each of us!

Having Vision

FullSizeRender[1]

There are 3 rituals I have for every new year.   The first is choosing a word for the year (check out last week’s post if you missed it) .  The second is making a vision board.  The third is getting a handle on my self-care plan by writing a wellness prescription and coming up with an incorporation plan (I plan to talk about that next week).  I’ve made yearly vision boards for about a decade, and I really love how they capture my intentions and hopes for the new year.

In fact, my annual vision boards so profoundly speak to me that at the end of each year, as I anticipate making a new one, I am always torn.  The current vision board so powerfully speaks to me and it is beautiful and maybe I don’t really need a new one.  But then I make the new one and, holy cow, do I come to see that it really does capture what is next for me in terms of growth.

While vision boards are incredibly personal (my vision board won’t speak to you in the same way that your vision board speaks to you), I thought I would share a little bit about this year’s vision board and what it means for my 2017 hopes and intentions.  But, first, a little background.  My work on the next year’s vision board starts not long after I complete the current year’s board.  That’s because as I read any magazines that come my way, I tear out any words or images that resonate with me and put them in an envelope.  Once it gets closer to vision board time, I more intentionally go through magazines (many of which I get from friends when they are done with their’s) with my vision board in mind.  Then, in the closing days of the year, I go through all the images and words and start processing what ideas I have collected in anticipation of the new year.

In making my 2017 board, I found these emergent themes:

  • a desire for ease, freedom, peace and calm.
  • light/hopefulness
  • creativity and inspiration
  • making a difference/having an impact
  • rising, growth, improvement

As I go through the images, I weed out redundancy, choose image and words that are shared in a way that most resonates, and start to lay out my board.  I find that as I go through the process of laying out my board and choosing what goes where, I develop further insight into my longings for the new year.

With my 2017 board, I found that yes, those themes were all on point but there were a few other priorities as well.  My anxiety has grown over the last decade as we have faced some tough challenges.  I want to feel less of the fear in 2017 and more joy and so I am practicing greater intentionality around how shifting my mindset, getting support, being honest, being brave, and saying no so that I can be more present for my yeses.  I love being creative, it serves me well in the moment and with long term visioning and so I am working to incorporate more daily, easy creativity into my life (hello art journal and simple art workshops). I want to strengthen some places where I should have more savvy— finances especially financial planning.  And I want to tend to my light so I can offer hope and hear to others.

Once I am done with the board, I place it in the Sugar Shack so that I regularly see it.  When I am stuck on an idea or just feeling off, I’ll often stand in front of the board and take it while I am trying to solve the problem in my head.  This allows me to regularly come back to my hopes and intentions and realign myself with those beginning of the year visions.

Do you have beginning of the year rituals?  What are they?

Want to make your own vision board?  Here’s some advice.

Or, if you are local, join me and some other great women on February 4th from 9 am until 12:30 pm in Charlotte for visionSPARK.  

 

Breathing In Peace, Breathing Out Ease

www.rosiemolinary.com

Since my mid-twenties, I have chosen a word for the year as an intention to guide my actions and heart. My word for the year always speaks to what I want to most value for that moment in time and reminds me of what I most want to be feeling, what I most wish to have in my life, and what I feel called to do because of all of that. That simple little word is like a talisman for my growth and journey.

When I started dreaming about 2017, a really honest desire came up in me. I wanted my life to be profoundly easier. I imagine many of us feel that way and so I don’t want to belabor the difficulties I have faced over the last decade. Suffice to say that most of the people I deeply love have faced great, deep, unthinkable suffering over the years and because of how I am wired—which is profoundly empathetic to the human condition and ridiculously inclined to over engage and over function in times of crises– I have taken on those pains and tragedies, injustices and endings in such a way that I’ve been left largely raw and mostly broken. I’ve worked my way through crises while eating antacids like they are candy. I’ve spent more time than is normal on the floor of my closet, consumed in anxiety so dense that I begin to question if it is just anxiety or maybe a heart attack. If you’ve grappled with anxiety in your life, I know you can relate.

As one of my closest friends has watched the pile-up around me over the years (as well as the crises in her own life), she has lamented the fact that there is no easy button in life. What we wouldn’t pay for one, we’ve laughed. Can Staples get on the production of an actual Easy button stat, please?

So when it came time to start thinking about what I wanted to manifest in 2017, what I most wanted to feel, it should come as no surprise that what was calling to me was EASE. I want things to be easier in my personal life, in the personal lives of those I love, and in my professional life. I want to not make things more complicated as I sometimes do when I over-engage. When things are hard (and have to be hard), I want to feel less panic and fear about them and exhale into the fact that I can have ease in my heart even if I don’t have it in my current circumstances. I want to have more ease in my calendar, more ease in my relationships. I want my stomachaches and heartaches to be replaced with unfettered, fearless joy. I want to feel less dread and more wholehearted anticipation. I want to feel less pressure and enjoy more time margin. I want to be less busy and more at ease.

Now, of course, because it is not just life that makes things uneasy, I do, too, after I choose ease, I had a little word crisis. Do I actually control ‘ease’? Maybe ease is what I am asking of the Universe but maybe what I really want to feel is peace (because I have more control over—with the right tools in pace and a mindset practice and support in place- whether or not I am peaceful; I don’t always control ease). Maybe my word for the year should be Peace. Or MAYBE I should break my own little rule (which is FIND ONE WORD; don’t be a word hoarder) and have two words. Peace will be my intention, Ease will be what I ask of the world.

You know, Easy Peacey.

And then my 1980s love of The Eagles came flooding into my head as I remembered the lyrics of Peaceful Easy Feeling and I could see the full extent of my overworking the thing and I decided to just make things EASIER and go with my first instinct.

So, how do I want to feel in 2017? At ease.

What will I have if I practice feeling at ease? An easier, more joyful life.

What does this desire mean I must do this year?

I will take care of myself, honoring what I know my limits are and holding more and more of them in place rather than just ignoring them and, thus, forcing my nervous system into panic.

I will choose my path by embracing what feels easy (though not necessarily effortless for me). When something feels like an of course, even if the of course comes with lots of work, I will recognize the sense of ease it brings to me and honor it with engagement.

I will make choices and take actions that have easy long-term consequences.

Here’s to helping my very frayed nervous system recover from the battering it has endured and to anticipating the joy that ease will bring me.

What is your word for 2017? Who do you hope to feel in 2017? Who will this feeling allow you to be? What will it allow you to have? What does that mean you will do?

Wishing you a 2017 filled with whatever you most need.

an open letter to my body image students on our first day of class

It is it the first day of body image class at my university and, as always, I’ll be ending class with this letter.

 

BY Objects of Motion

Yesterday, you looked in the mirror, and, instead of your inherent greatness, you saw flaws.  You saw things you wanted to change and not everything that made you powerfully, wonderfully, uniquely you.

Last night, in a deep conversation with your friends, you had a powerful thought, the kind of thought that would have changed the whole conversation, maybe would have changed you, but you doubted yourself and so you swallowed it inside of you.  Tucking it away, forcing it out of your mind, so that great big belief would not threaten your status quo in its hunger to get out.

This morning, you walked to class and compared your body to someone else’s.  Your body, a body that has worked so hard for you, that has allowed you to experience every good thing you have known, a body that has kept you going through all the hard stuff, through all the difficulties that have been thrown at you.

And then you walked into our shared space, a space that I hope will become a sanctuary to you, a place that I hope will quiet your inner critic enough so you can see the fabric of which you are made, you can recognize your worth, you can embrace the idea that you are just fine as you physically are right at this moment- not just because that is true, which it is- but because you come to understand that what the world most needs from you is not your trappings but your longings made manifest. 

If you yearn for art to be inspiring or children to feel loved or food to be breathtaking or houses to have souls or communities to have gardens or technology to be accessible or music to have your unique viewpoint or patients to have soulful care or records to be broken or whatever else it might be that speaks to your soul, I want that for you, too, and I want our space and time together, our journey, to be one that supports your recognition of your worth, sparks your awareness that the world needs you and your unique solutions and galvanizes you to embrace what you have to offer.

Today, you will tell me your name, your major, your graduation year, your hometown, the last great book you read, and why you chose to take this class.  You will say you needed Body Image class for your Women’s and Gender Studies minor, for your art major, for your public health concentration, because it fit into your schedule, and, maybe, just maybe, if you can muster the courage to say these words, because you knew when you saw those two words on the course guide that you wanted desperately to have a different relationship with your body and your soul.

And here is what I can promise you.  I will do everything I can to see you, to hear you, to understand you, to help you to understand yourself, to empower you to see your greatness, to inspire you to understand that while you are lovely because you are uniquely you that it is more than just your loveliness we need—that we need your fire, your passion, your purpose.  I will remind you that our bodies are ever changing and so to build a foundation of our worth on what we physically have to offer right this minute is to invite disruption over and over again.  And I will implore you to understand that your soul will always lead you right, will always let you blossom, will always let you shine.

On the day you last walk out of our sanctuary, I hope that you leave this space with your eyes up, ready to recognize and greet those who approach you not just because you know that other souls should be seen but also because you understand that to hide your soul from us is to deny the world of one of its greatest gifts- you.

I hope that you will be able to meet your eyes in the mirror and see purpose and clarity and passion and self-acceptance staring back, that you will treat your body like a guest of honor to your life because it has served you so well so far and you want to continue on that journey, and, ultimately, that you will not hesitate to give the world everything that you uniquely and powerfully have to offer. 

Welcome.  I am so glad you are here.  I am honored to walk alongside you.  I cannot wait to see where we are going.  Let’s get started.

How Yoga and Body Acceptance Could Guide Your New Year

One of my greatest inspirations in the self-acceptance space is Anna Guest-Jelley, the founder of Curvy Yoga.  Anna is not just profound light, a gentle truth teller, and an honest reflector, she’s an inspired teacher– both in yoga class and in life.  With this new year,  I was eager to share some of Anna’s wisdom with you and invited her to share here about her thoughts on yoga and self-acceptance.  I hope you get as much from her wisdom as I always do!

 

Photo Credit: Andrea Scher

Photo Credit: Andrea Scher

Like many people, and maybe even you, I’ve spent many Januarys in the throes of this or that New Year’s resolution related to changing my body in some way. I’d be hell-bent on making a change, last about 2.5 weeks, something would intervene (since the expectations I set were never realistic for my actual life in the first place), and then I’d give up. Defeated.

Once again.

Probably not too surprisingly, once I started to shift from resolutions to choosing a Word of the Year, and from constantly berating my body to learning how to be in an affirming relationship with it, I was much happier.

But one thing kept nagging at me for a long time: how to bring my intention for the year and my body acceptance practice together. This mattered to me because an intention, or word, for the year permeates every area of life, including your body and how you relate to it, and I was interested to see what I could learn — if only I could find a way into it.

What I started to discover is that intentions benefit from embodiment, particularly within an adaptable and unique-to-you container. Here’s what I mean by that: when our intentions stay solely in our heads, they’re easy to forget, philosophize/daydream about but not take action on, keep as a lingering “should” that makes us feel worse and worse about ourselves, etc.

But when you find a way to loop your body into the process, things can start to move from the realm of “sounds like a good idea, but I’ll never get it done” to “I’m doing it.”

Now, how does all of this start (and continue)? Through an ongoing conversation with your body.

The best way I know to reliably begin or grow a conversation with your body is through yoga. And no, that’s not because the farther forward you bend, the more wonderful your life is and the more committed you are to both your intention for the year and your relationship to body acceptance. Not at all.

The reason I see yoga as a key way into body acceptance, which is just another way of saying having an ongoing conversation with your body, is because it asks you to engage with your actual body. By asking you to notice what your foot is doing in a pose, what is happening with your breath, or how a yoga prop might support you, the practice of yoga is a concrete way to learn to connect with your body as it is today. Because as you know if you’ve ever tried any balance pose in yoga, your experience definitely changes from day to day!

It doesn’t matter what style of yoga you practice, or what you can or cannot do. It’s not any individual pose on its own that makes the difference, but rather the overall process of being with your body. And all of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of yoga certainly don’t hurt, either!

While you’re on your yoga mat and in this conversation with your body, it can also be a great time to reconnect with your intention for the year. Here are some ways you might do that:

  • Inhale and repeat your Word of the Year; exhale and let go of anything that doesn’t serve it
  • Ask yourself before your practice what it would be like to bring your intention into your practice. For example, in 2016, my word was Rooted, so I often asked myself this before practice and found ways to get grounded, or rooted, while on my mat.
  • Let the final relaxation at the end of class be a time to first notice how you feel, then ask yourself to notice what it feels like in your body when you connect with your intention, then let yourself rest with that sensation.
  • Anything else that comes to mind for you!

curvy-yoga

 

 

If you want to learn more about a body-affirming approach to yoga, including pose options for bodies of all shapes/sizes that you can use to support your body in any class, you might like to check out my new book, Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day. And if you’re a yoga teacher and would like to share about yoga and self-acceptance with your students, check out whole~hearted, a curriculum that Rosie and I created just for yoga teachers.


Here’s to seeing how your intention unfolds in the new year!

 

A little more about Anna:

Anna Guest-Jelley is the founder of Curvy Yoga, an online yoga studio and teacher training center that helps people of all sizes find true acceptance and freedom, both on and off the mat.
Anna is the author of Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day and the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body. To learn more about Curvy Yoga, visit www.CurvyYoga.com

 

Claiming 2017

2

Happy New Year!  If you are like me, you awoke today with a feeling of possibility (yes, yes, today is the 2nd day of the year but it is the first Monday so the new year feels official to me now).

A whole new year awaits us.  Anything could happen.  And while the year ahead will have surprises for us that we never could have imagined, it is also very malleable and eager for us to fashion it into what we want from it.

Because I believe that intention matters, I like to start every year with three rituals.  In the first ritual, I get clear on what feeling I want to have in the new year because it is that desire, that deep truth, that will guide and inform most everything I do.  The second and third rituals see me defining my vision with a vision board and claiming my care with a wellness prescription.

Today we are focusing on ritual number one:  Choosing a word for the year.

What’s the first step to getting the life you imagine?

Having clarity about who and how you want to be in the world.

The thing that matters most in our growth is not articulating hard goals we have for ourselves- I want to run a marathon– but articulating how we want our lives to feel, how we want to feel, really assessing who and how we want to be in the world.  Because when we know that, we can build a life that allows us that feeling and then every day feels like we are living in our true calling.

Typically, our approach to transformation involves a list.  And if you know anything about me, you know I LOVE a list.  I rely on lists to get everything done.  From my comprehensive and a little bit crazy to do list  to my birthday list, lists are my things.  They are my tool of choice.  I get a lot of mileage out of my lists.  But my lists are not my starting point because here’s the thing:  a to do list is not transcendent.  It is an action plan.  Not a heart center.

So before I can write any list, I have to be in touch with my heart center.  There are many different ways that I do this, and one of those ways is by getting quiet at the beginning of each year so I can get clear on what intention I want to have in the new year– what focus, truth I want to guide my actions.

Intention is about having an internal resolve, a desire to move towards something that will serve you better as you move forward.  It is claiming the desire to live your life in a certain way so that things happen on purpose rather than by accident.  It is making life happen by your choices, energy, and focus rather than having life happen to you.  After setting an intention, you can claim your vision, and then it is after that vision has been formed that you can begin to move into action (and all those to do lists that articulate and motivate the necessary action).

When we really plug into our intention, we become inspired by our vision for our life which makes all of the actions that need to come to make our intention real more enticing and we become less resistant.  We move from all of those I shoulds into I really want to… and that makes all of the difference.

But, really, can one word really capture our intention?  Can it have that much power? As a woman who has loved words her whole life, here is what I can tell you: there may be nothing more powerful than a well chosen word.  Words resonate. They stir us. They attract (or repel) us. They inspire. There are times when I am reading poetry or a prose passage and I will catch on one simple word and it changes everything.  It brightens, expands, makes clear.  One simple word can have that power.

And so, every year, as December yields to January, I sit down and think about what I most want out of the new year. What feeling do I most want to have most regularly?  The first word I ever chose, back in my mid-twenties, was voice.  I wanted to know what I was about and then use my own voice to empower others to use theirs.  And when they couldn’t, I wanted to raise my voice for them.  The year I was a new mother, I chose peace.  I wanted to be still in my heart, to know deep inside that I was doing what was right even when the world beyond my heart was spinning.  The next year, I chose wellbeing as my first year of parenthood had seen me sacrifice my own well-being more than I could sustain much longer.  Another year, I chose wholehearted.  I wanted to get really pure with my actions– to, as much as is possible, only say yes to opportunities and experiences that I could be in with my whole heart.  I wanted everything (well, as much as possible as there are still dishes that have to be washed and I am not into those whole heart) I was doing to be an authentic extension of who I was and how I wanted to be in the world and not things I felt I must do out of obligation or politeness.

And it is amazing what choosing these words did to me.  They made my mind changed.  And when my mind changed, my actions could change, yielding more and more of the life that I wanted.  My intention became manifest.

So, this week, I want you to get quiet so that you can get as clear as possible about what feeling you want in your life and what intention you most need to focus on for that to become real.  Then, I want you to choose your word, your guide.  And as life unfolds, you will be presented with opportunities to either chose to embody your word or turn against it.  In those moments, I encourage you to always chose the route that will take you closer and closer to living your word; let it teach you what it can, let it guide you to where it can, let it make you more aware.  It is as simple as asking “will this make me more ______________ (whatever your word is)?” and listening closely to the answer.

What feeling do you want in 2017?  Given that, what is your word for the year?

As for my word, I am auditioning a few right now. You see, there are a few feelings I want in 2017.  I want a sense of ease, freedom from worries or obstacles that have burdened the last several (too many) years, greater abundance. I want life to be easier.  I want to have less to manage but more of the good stuff to enjoy. I want less resistance and weightiness in my life (and by weightiness I mean the stuff that weighs down one’s spirit). I want to shake up the parts of my life that are stale or overwhelming or overbearing and put things back together in a whole new way that allows for the liberating joy and bright light I seek and crave. I want to revolutionize the way my days look and the work that I do and let the things that aren’t most pure and authentic for me go. So the words I am auditioning right now are ease, freedom, and abudance.  On the surface, those might seem like different very words, very different intentions, but, to me, I see where they catch the same light and can each give me that feeling I most want to have.

~

And a simple note:  If you are a word hoarder like me, you might think that if one word is good then three or four or five might be better.  This is one of those cases where more is not better, I promise you. More confuses, dilutes, and drains focus.  One simple word is all you need.  I am holding myself to that advice and I encourage you to do the same.

 

Decided on your word for the year?  Share it here!

My wishes for us in 2017…

2017-wishes