Stress is slowly killing us. Stress is what’s affecting your diet and fueling unhealthy decisions. Stress is what’s taxing our systems and therefore leaving us running in emergency mode (picture flames and fumes and weird rattles coming from the engine) pushing us towards food, alcohol and other drugs, Netflix, shopping, gambling, and many other ways in which we waste our resources.
I have found that when I peel back the layers and recognize where my stress usually stems from, it is often a self imposed stress. In other words, I am doing this to MYSELF!! Now, I do not beat myself up for this (thats not very loving) as I now understand that I was sold an idea of what success was suppose to look like and then set off to be a “success”. When life didn’t end up looking like that idea I came to the conclusion that I must be unsuccessful, the opposite of a success, a failure. I was not living a life that demonstrated love to myself at all. I wasn’t even listening to myself. I was treating myself like the waiter that keeps babbling about the specials when I’m ready to order, “yeah, yeah, spinach dip and chocolate lava cake please.”
When I started deciding to create a life that I didn’t need to run from, numb from, or avoid, I started to see that I was unhappy because I wasn’t making my decisions. This seems so simple but I didn’t even notice that I had no clue how to dream up a dream life, I had no clue what I wanted or what would make me truly happy. Letting go of these pressures lightened my load significantly, reducing the silly stressors I placed on myself because I needed to be doing more and or because I always found something else that I should be doing.
Along this journey I started to get to know myself. I learned more and more about myself trying to figure out what I truly valued and wanted, making it easier to feel comfortable in my own skin. This comfort led to me caring more about how I felt and what I spent my time thinking and doing. This care led to a connection with myself that allowed me to trust myself, support myself, forgive myself, and ultimately fall in love with myself. I created a ride-or-die relationship with myself, knowing that I have love and compassion for myself, no matter what.
If this seems foreign do not worry, it was to me too. Below are some steps to start the process.
Steps towards more self-love:
You do not need to perfect one step before moving onto the next. You will be building a constant flow of awareness that you can use to feel good the rest of your life.
Notice to your emotions. - They are your guide.
Notice when you feel negative/less than emotions when you think about what others will think of you or a decision. This is you stressing about others. This is you allowing the pressure to be applied.
Notice when you feel good/satisfied/greater than! Start doing more of these things. This is how you will find what lights you up.
Notice your self talk. - Our self talk is simply a running dialogue of affirmations. You can use these words to brainwash yourself into thinking you suck or you can use these words to create a crazy awesome relationship with yourself. One where you are your biggest supporter and therefore safe. Safe = less stress. Less stress = feel better. Feel better = create a happier life.
Pump the self-care. - Just like self talk creates your mental status, self-care creates your physical status. When you don’t feel good, you don’t want to take the extra steps to make a healthier decision, you want immediate comfort or relief. But, even little acts of self-care can lighted your mood and keep you from sliding deeper into the low vibes. Start experimenting with things that make you feel good naturally. You should feel refreshed, relaxed and lighter or calmer. Doing these things shows yourself and others that your wellbeing is important and a priority.
Regularly remind yourself that you’re worthy of love. - When I first started this stuff I had just quit drinking and most moments of my life were uncomfortable. I had read something suggesting to look at yourself in the mirror, right into your eyes and tell yourself “I love you.” At this point I had tried so many things that this one seemed so simple and harmless that I gave it a try. Holy shit. As soon as those words flew out of my mouth I began to cry. I realized in that moment that being nice to myself was foreign to me. This was not okay.
I now use this technique to remind myself that I am loved, I am supported, I am love. When I brush my teeth or put on a face mask, I look myself in the eye and say something nice. I flirt with myself, winking when I catch my eye in the mirror, using cheesy lines to make myself giggle. I now have replaced the need for attention from another by giving myself the loving attention that I only got from my parents and ex-boyfriends in the past.
Remember that this is like any other loving relationship, it takes work, time, commitment and care. Be kind to yourself.
For the past few months, I have spent Sunday mornings at one of my favorite coffee shops. There is a quiet nook that I love. It is a table at a window between two bookshelves filled with books, DVDs and games. There is enough action to keep me alert and working but enough solitude (with headphones) to really get some work done.
Before I dive into work I usually spend at least the first hour reading, journaling, writing, or watching a video while I eat a bagel and sip some coffee. Sometimes my journaling looks like one long flowing thought, just writing what comes to mind. Sometimes I ask myself specific questions. Lately, I’ve been taking screenshots of questions that I think would be good journaling questions, from horoscopes, blogs/articles, books, or questions others have shared from their journaling sessions.
Below is straight from my journaling session 4/7/19:
What can I let go of?
Fear. I know I will always be working to notice fear and instead move closer to love. I would like to lean into more trust. How can I do this? Keep stoking the mediation and chakra fire. Keep doing what you are doing. Continue choosing to cook and clean instead of lounge on the couch for another hour. Continue to care for your space and for Coconut. Continue to show up for your clients, that’s really all they need from you - every thing else is extra.
The future is always going to be unknown, so fearing the future will result in an awful way to live.
If anything were possible, how would this go?
I would understand that my goal isn’t to make sales and get likes or to even get clients, my goal is to share my knowledge and my story, THAT is your purpose on this earth. It is my gift and responsibility to share what I’ve learned. My knowledge and voice will not be needed by everyone, but it will benefit MANY.
With this understanding I would create and then share, create and then share, create and then share. This process will gain experience creating and will lead you to what people need. Analytics will be helpful, but you can’t track what never gets shared. You cannot learn by hiding behind insecurities. You have everything you need.
Top priorities from now til October 13th Full Moon
Meditation - 15 minutes a day
Chakra Balancing - 5-10 minutes before bed
Meal Prep - Continue setting yourself up for less stress around food.
Walks with Coco - Daily and without electronics.
Clients - Show up and listen, continue to give them what they need in the moment.
Foundational Fitness Content - Create for fun and from the soul.
YouTube Content - Beginner yoga series.
What fundamental needs do your relationships require to thrive?
Honesty - Honesty with self and others allows for more vulnerability and therefore more connection.
Support - This stems from trust.
Love - Love that compliments. No longer looking for love that completes me.
Self Care - Fill your cup first, then share the overflow with others.
Communication - Clearly expressing myself will allow for a closer connection.
This is simply a source of inspiration to give you ideas on how to use journaling to help you get closer to yourself and therefore, closer to your healthiest, happiest life.
There are millions of ways to exercise and eat healthy that exist at our finger tips. There are coaches and trainers, and teachers and experts galore and yet the struggle to do the work is real. If this struggle feels real to you at this moment I have a few questions for you. Hopefully these questions will help you peel back the layers and discover the source of some of the resistance.
What are your wellness beliefs?
When you think about exercise, eating healthy and changing your body, what are the underlying beliefs? Do you believe that exercise isn’t fun? Do you believe that eating healthy is too expensive and too time consuming? Do you deep down believe your body will never change? As I have discussed before, our beliefs create our thoughts, our thoughts create our emotions, and our emotions fuel our actions. These actions repeated over days, weeks and years create our life. This is why it is so crucial to understand what we truly believe about our wellness journey and our bodies. If you struggle with finding these beliefs, start to notice your thoughts and words when think and/or talk about wellness and your body. All the answers are in the thoughts you regularly think.
Do you believe you can reprogram these beliefs?
After spending some time noticing your thoughts and perhaps uncovering some underlying, possibly not so helpful beliefs, know that you can reprogram yourself to have new beliefs. When I quit drinking I was so set in my beliefs around alcohol that it made it very difficult to stick to my plan of letting it go. It wasn’t until I understood that I had the power to change my beliefs that I was able to build healthy momentum around this goal. I started noticing when I would say things like “Life is more fun when I drink”, “Drinking is just a part of who I am”, and instead reprogrammed by flipping the script to “My life flows with ease and joy without alcohol” and “I am so much more than someone who loves to party”.
The key to changing beliefs is to really BELIEVE the new way of thinking so if you can’t get there on your own, look for others who have done the work you’re looking to do. One search on the internet will result in thousands of people who have transformed their lives and bodies. You will find website after website and YouTube video after YouTube video showing how to save time and money on eating healthy. This knowledge helps to see that you are not stuck in that old belief, you can change if you believe you can.
Can you create more joy along the way?
As you start to do this work you will notice that changing rooted beliefs that you’ve been backing up with thoughts and emotions and actions for years , can result in some discomfort. This is normal. Discomfort is a normal, natural, and to-be-expected part of all growth and change. When you add on to your house, there is the discomfort of construction. When you grow or start a business there is lots of discomfort in finding customers, employees, and support. When you start a yoga practice there is the discomfort of getting out of your head and into your body. It is for this reason that you must create joy along the way. Make the discomfort more comfortable with music, friends, laughter, yummy healthy food and of course dancing!! Check out this Create Your Own Joy Resource List for more ways to add joy to your everyday wellness work. If you don’t enjoy something it will be very hard to stay consistent.
As a yoga teacher I of course talk to a lot of people about yoga. I love hearing all about someone’s life changing yoga moment or about how they can’t imagine life without it now, but I am always way more interested in the conversations about why someone can’t/hasn’t yet tried yoga. You see, as a yoga teacher my goal is to introduce yoga to as many people as possible, in a manner that leaves them wanting more yoga. I have no current aspirations to teach people to put their legs behind their head and yet, that’s what most people feel is required to attend a yoga class. This is not the goal in most yoga classes but knowing what yoga works best for you will greatly improve your chances of building a practice.
Yoga is one of the oldest forms of exercise and is accessible to anyone that is interested. There are forms of yoga that build total body strength, with a powerful and sweat inducing practice. These types of yoga are great for challenging the body to get stronger in every sense of the word. On the other end of the spectrum there are practices designed specifically for restoration with gentle poses, lots of props like chairs, blocks and pillows to achieve comfort in the pose, and even built-in meditation. These classes leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated.
No matter what type of yoga you do, all yoga will benefit your health and well-being. By increasing flexibility and maintaining range of motion and posture, yoga simply lets you do all the things you love to do now, longer! Yoga helps you play tennis till you're 80, it allows you to go see amazing places and do amazing things and yoga even helps to strengthen your mind as you age, so you’ll crush your family on game night for years to come.
So where do you start?
I always recommend starting with a restorative practice first. This will prime the body for the more active yoga poses and will familiarize your self with some basic yoga poses. This will also allow you the chance to get to know your teachers and then use their guidance to build your practice to fit your bodies needs. These classes have multiple names such as restorative yoga, yin yoga, adaptive yoga, chair yoga, deep healing yoga, again your teacher will be able to guide you to a class with restorative intentions.
Once your body finds a little more space and comfort in the restorative poses, check out a class with a little more flow. Sometimes called slow flow, flow and stretch, cool flow, or vinyasa flow, these classes teach the flow of breath and body together, moving throughout a range of motion with synchronized breaths.
From here you can venture into the more advanced practices if they fit your goals. When your body is ready, hydrate, eat a healthy snack and then go check out that power yoga, hot power or advanced yoga flow. These classes are a great way to shift your energy, building strength and stamina, on and off your yoga mat.
As always, listen to your body, not your mind when it comes to progressing your yoga. If you ignore the signs your body is giving you, you become susceptible to injury. If you’re not quite sure how to listen to your body, don’t worry… yoga teaches you this. Keep coming back to your yoga mat to spend time with your body and you will be communicating freely with your body.
Yoga Flows for All Levels
I’ve missed my blog. I first started a blog in 2011 because I was drawn to the storytelling of it all AND I was really into Julie & Julia :) But so quickly life starts to become about numbers, data, and efficiency and the lovely stuff gets left off the to-do list. I have yet again realized how shitty life gets when we let the lovely things go. For me lovely things that I tend to let go of are: yoga classes, hammock hangs, writing, cooking, all things that make my life so much more enjoyable in the day to day. So, below you will find writing inspired by a recent journaling session.
As I flip through a cookbook this afternoon I see a recipe that requires the use of dry white wine. My first instinct was to flip the page, insinuating that I’d just never cook with wine again. But then I thought about how much flavor wine adds to food (however, on reflection this is a false belief I uncovered around alcohol. There are many other ways to add flavor to cooking.) Then I thought of how gross “cooking” wine is, which led me to imagining there was a bottle of white wine in my fridge. Yikes. *I quit drinking two years ago.
That gut punching emotion instantly came over me but this time I did something new. The moment I felt that yuck in my gut, I noticed how intense it came on and how strong it showed up in my body and instead of running away, I took about three or four steps and then paused. This pause wasn’t new. I’ve been noticing my ability to pause and walk myself through crappy self-talk. What was new, was that after I paused, I decided to go back and sit in that emotion. What?? Why would I willingly let that emotion wash over me? I have done this sort of work while being guided by a coach or therapist but not so quickly or ever with any motivation to go back.
I put down the Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook and paused The Great British Baking Show (I’m searching for a cake to make myself for my birthday). I closed my eyes and imagined that a good bottle of white wine (my old nemesis) was sitting in my fridge, and there it came. The heavy meets queasy feeling in my belly that to me feels like fear. Fear of what my answer would be, fear of whether I’d turn down the opportunity to numb out. Yet, it was a mixed batch of fear. I decided to sit in this particular brand of fear and I decided to get to know it, to see if I could put a better name on it. I ultimately landed on FOMO. Yep, that stinkin fear-of-missing-out. Watching so many people drink, not just in my life but in so many areas of our culture, I am constantly being told that I am missing out on something, something that all those other people do. I know that I am missing out on that chance to numb from the stressors of life. If I can’t, it must mean I am abnormal, something must be wrong with me.
Thank goodness, I now see things differently. I now see alcohol as any other drug. Because of all the images of alcohol being injected into my life, plus a bloodline with lots of drinking practice, I never saw it as a drug. However, this socially encouraged drug is “a leading risk factor for disease burden worldwide”.
In a flash I redirected my thoughts from fear (as I’ve been practicing) and reminded myself that nothing outside myself will ever make me happy, therefore it’s okay that wine isn’t in my life. It would have never been able to make me happy. That heavy and queasy feeling started to lighten. By getting to know that emotion and witnessing my thoughts I walked myself to a lighter place.
I now aim for bliss. I hope I don’t lose you here, but I now spend so much time and effort on making myself self feel good - mind, body, and emotions, that when I string together activities that make me feel good, I begin to feel a sense of release, a sense of calm. When this bliss is added to successive days of meditation there is no need to numb. This experience created a new mantra for me to use, bliss or bust.
As individual humans, we will all have individual dietary needs. Add in specific goals and it really starts to vary from human to human. There are however a few things that will help all humans to feel better. Below is my revamped version of the food pyramid. Take a peak and then let me walk you through each level.
First off this pyramid was designed to represent your daily intake of food. Each time you build a meal, build from the bottom up. As you work your way up the pyramid, the quantities decrease.
The base of all nutrition and foundational for feeling good is hydration. Dehydration contributes to fatigue, foggy-headedness, headaches, and body cramps. All of these will make things more challenging when trying to live a healthier life. Tips for drinking more water:
Invest in a water-only container to travel with you always.
Invest in a home water filtration system.
Start with a glass first thing in the morning.
Add lemons, limes, oranges, berries (frozen fruit works too).
Every time you sit down at a bar or restaurant order a water and drink it.
Get your water in early so you don’t wake up 10 times to pee each night.
The next layer of all healthy diets is vegetables. Despite what type of nutritional plan you are aiming to achieve, vegetables should make up the majority of your plate. They are filling and low in calories making them perfect for finding a healthy balance. They also make your skin look amazing and give you energy to move through your day, workout included! Green vegetables get bonus points as they have more actual electricity in them, which is why they help power your body so well. Tips for eating more veggies:
Roast a bunch of seasonal veggies and add to meals throughout your week.
Keep a bag of kale on hand to make quick salads and to add to soups and smoothies.
Keep frozen peas, edamame, and veggie mixes on hand to add to meals quickly.
Eat something green with every meal!
Find dips and spreads to dip them in for healthy snacking.
Next up is protein. The amount of protein will depend on your size and goals. Protein helps to build lean muscle, which boosts your metabolism naturally. Shooting for 20-30g of lean protein per meal will get you a good start on hitting your protein goals. Tips to upping your protein intake:
Before you stress too much about how much to eat, find out how much you’re consuming right now. The best way to do this is to track your food for a few days to decipher your starting point. Apps like Loseit or LifeSum work great.
Familiarize yourself with high protein foods that meet your requirements (vegetarian, vegan, paleo). Lean meats, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, oats, tofu, beans and veggies all provide decent amounts of protein.
Combine protein filled foods together to up the amount in each meal.
Invest in a high quality protein powder to supplement when needed. You can add this to smoothies, healthy baked goods, and more. Make sure the powder is a decent quality by checking out the ingredients list… the less ingredients the better. Also, ease into a new powder as these can trigger stomach issues in some.
Fruit shares the same row on the pyramid as proteins because once you’ve filled your plate with veggies and protein, fruits can be a lovely way to add flavor, fiber and nutrients to your meals. They are naturally higher in sugar than veggies so start with the veggies and then sprinkle in some fruit to curb sweet cravings and fill you up with vitamins and minerals! Tips for eating more fruit:
Add a piece to your breakfast - frozen fruit works great here too!
Keep fruit handy for snacks - bananas and apples are my go to.
Try something fruity instead of sugary for treats.
Add some to your salads.
Eat with the seasons to keep it fresh and interesting.
Familiarize yourself with fruits with lower sugar (carb) levels to help you reach your goals - I love this article for that!
Healthy fats make you feel full and help you to burn body fat. The same way that heavy greasy food is filling, healthy fats allow you to feel satiated without all the grease and calories in a slice of pizza. Most people do not consume enough of these while trying to eat healthy and therefore, end up feeling hungry and that’s no fun. **Beware of the quantity! They are up high on the pyramid because they are high in calories, meaning you need less of them to get the benefits. Tips for increasing healthy fats:
Add avocado to everything!! Sandwiches, salads, smoothies, toast, rice bowls, get crazy.
Add nuts and seeds to salads and homemade dressings or pestos.
Keep a bag of nuts on hand for a quick pick me up snack. **Monitor portions.
Use chia seeds, flax seed, olives and olive oils.
Grains and Dairy
Grains and dairy are good IF your body can tolerate these foods. It is not a given that each human can eat these foods. Our bodies were not originally designed to eat processed grains or dairy everyday so it is rather normal to need to limit or eliminate these foods from your diet. If you have regular stomach troubles I’d recommend reducing these foods from your meals to seeing how you feel. Most of these foods are to be eaten in smaller quantities and less frequently for optimal health.
Try different kinds of grains - oats, quinoa, brown rice.
Eat full fat dairy, just less of it. - Eating small quantities of full fat dairy will help you increase your healthy fats and be more filling than that zero calorie yogurt filled with empty calories and sugar.
Try nut milk, coconut milk, oat milk and other substitutes when needed. **I like almond milk for baking or cooking, coconut milk for adding creaminess to soups, smoothies, battering fish or tofu & making whip cream. I really love oat milk (this brand specifically) for my morning coffee.
At the tippy top of this pyramid is the “Fun” foods. I personally think all food is fun if you really start to play and get creative with flavors and recipes, but this category contains the foods you would typically eat during a holiday or at a party. These are foods that are treats. Be sure to treat these treats as TREATS, not as your fifth meal everyday. Indulge in these foods to curb cravings but also pay attention to how these foods make you feel. There are other ways to celebrate so keep that in mind when faced with a room full of treats :) Tips for consuming fun foods:
Indulge in small quantities and eat it slow. Savor and indulge slowly.
Invite a friend to indulge so you can split something.
Make homemade versions of your favorite treats (preferably with the best ingredients you can find/afford).
Don’t keep binge worthy foods in the house, make a special trip/date to indulge wisely.
Take a pause before you consume. Ask your body if it even wants it. Make a tea, a drink a glass of water, or take a walk first, then see what the craving is telling you.
No matter what your eating plan or intention is (high carb, vegan, keto, paleo, low carb, see-food diet, lol), all plans will need your body to stay hydrated in order to get results. Vegetables, healthy amounts of grains and protein, along with adequate healthy fats are all required to find the healthiest you. The only thing that changes is the is the percentages of these foods, based on your goals and your biology. Tracking your food is the easiest way to get results, but not required for every day life. If you are trying to create healthy food shifts you must know your starting point. Then you slowly tweak as you learn more and more about what YOUR body really needs to feel its best. Stay curious. Be kind. Be patient.
Here is a list of some basic journaling prompts that you can use to begin unfolding any thoughts that get stuck up in that noggin of yours.
Find something to write in.
Pick whichever one jumps out at you and give it a whirl.
Do not censor your writing. Just let it flow out.
Shoot for a time limit and just keep writing until the time is up. 3-5 minutes is a good place to start. Doodle for the rest of the time if you have to :)
If I weren't afraid I would...
What's blocking me from...?
What do I want most?
Whats hard? How can I invite in more love?
What do I desire from the next (time period; two weeks, 6 months)?
In what areas are you unsatisfied?
In what areas are you satisfied?
What would my best self do today?
How does my energy feel? What might help?
How does my body feel? What might help?
Do you need more structure/action/masculine?
Do you need more flow/creativity/feminine?
What needs to be healed?
How can I show my body more love?
Why do I want change?
Remember that journaling is a tool, one of many that should be in your all natural stress relief toolbox. It's okay if emotions arise during this process, as its just energy that needs to be let out. Often I feel completely relieved and often with more understanding of how to move forward. Journaling is a simple act of self care that can help you to navigate the tricky waters of your mind. Relax and just let it flow.
What do I mean by high vibes? Thats a good question. I like to simplify it by equating it to a natural high. When I am vibrating at a high level I am feeling naturally high, feeling good. I'm not going to dive into the science of the actual vibrations that occur in our bodies here, but when you are feeling good you are considered to be vibrating at a higher level than when you're not feeling so good (angry, scared, anxious, depressed, tired, sick, etc.). This is why one grumpy person can ruin the mood of a group, the lower vibes are messin' with the high vibe energy in the room.
I have been on a serious learning path with depression for years. Never being officially diagnosed I had no clue what depression even was. Now, I am still learning but I at least have a basic understanding of it, I have a love for the process (even though I forget this love every time I'm in it), and I know that there will be many more chances to learn from this thing called depression.
While it is my goal to feel good as much as I possibly can, it's near impossible to ALWAYS feel good and I logically know this, but life doesn't pause simply because I am feeling down. When I get a little funky (low-vibey), I tend to forget that it is simply part of the process. I used to try and dig in, try to figure out what caused this "slide", feeling that if I could find the source I could somehow remove it and therefore remove the depression but I have since learned that there is no one source. I can be triggered by other low-vibe people or conversations, by low quality foods, and by low-vibe media, and by a general lack of self-care. So instead of trying to bring even more focus to this feeling that I no longer want, I have instead chosen to take it easy and sink into some self-love.
As soon as I notice my low vibes I try to muster up some joy or simply find a way to play. Doing anything, big or small, that raises my vibes will help me to start making my way back. The more I practice this, the faster I am able to recognize the funky feelings, create new vibes, and return to love. This work has allowed me to move through depression in a way that I have never moved before. Below is my current framework for climbing out of a funk but know there is also work with professionals (spiritual, holistic, & health) being done too.
Clues my vibes are lowering:
- Space is beginning to get cluttered (or is already a hot mess).
- Clothes and dishes are piling up.
- Fridge is lacking healthy foods.
- Feeling exhausted, shitty sleep.
- Binges (sleep, Netflix, sugar, etc)
- Annoyed by others easily.
- Negative Hamster Wheel - where my thoughts get stuck on the negative.
Instant high vibe activities:
- Meditation is the best activity there is to change your vibrations. Most of the time this actually neutralizes my thoughts, feelings, and vibrations allowing some peace.
- Put on my orange Rainbow OPTX Sunglasses - color therapy :)
- Create Your Own Joy playlist + Dancing
- Make and eat a healthy meal.
- Play!! Swings, skateboards, cards, games, Coco, handstands. Just play!!
- Plan my next few days/work week/bullet journal.
- Clean my house.
- Take a walk.
- Get in water.
- Plants/feet in the dirt/sit in the sun.
- Yin Yoga
Activities to help maintain these vibes:
- Meal prepping
- Bullet Journaling weekly/monthly intentions/goals/tasks.
- Nurturing Coco
- Regularly getting out into nature.
- Self Care/Sleep/Water
- Regular play dates with friends.
- Bring focus to the lower three chakras.
- Be creative, somehow.
- Self Love - Remembering that I am perfect and I am love.
Remember, that this is my personal experience. I am at this point after almost two years of diligently working to understand these emotions. I have done some work to get here and had lots of help along the way. If you take anything from this, I hope you know that you are not alone and that many have successfully found peace and joy right along side depression. Again, I will use the reminder of the moon to help explain how absolutely normal this is...
"The moon is a reminder that no matter what phase I am in, I am still whole." - unknown source
I am a big fan of turning to Mother Nature when I need some clarity and guidance. She is not my only source for these needs but she is one of my first stops. I can watch and witness how her seasons change, how plants and trees grow, how the ocean ebbs and flows, it is all visible proof of change and growth, of death and rebirth. By going outside on my break and reading in the sun for 15 minutes or playing hooky and heading to the beach, I not only enjoy the peace and grounding that nature provides but inevitably, if I look hard enough, I fall into a moment of understanding.
In a recent discussion on the On Being podcast, Michael McCarthy a naturalist and writer explained that for 50,000 generations we lived amongst nature, we were just a part of the wild life, and for the last 500 generations we've moved away from living in and among nature to very far from it. He claims though that despite our movement away from moving in sync with Mother Nature it is still very much apart of our biology. "There is a legacy deep within us, a legacy of instinct, a legacy of inherited feelings, which may lie very deep in the tissues — it may lie underneath all the parts of civilization which we are so familiar with on a daily basis, but it has not gone; that we might have left the natural world, most of us, but the natural world has not left us."
It is for this reason that I have started to witness the many many cycles that show up in nature and I have begun exploring my own cycles. Yes, that cycle but also, my cycles of energy and concentration, cycles of depression or anxiety, and cycles of growth and challenge. I have invited in the concept of paying attention to cycles in the following ways:
- Started tracking my menstrual cycle and symptoms. I use an app to keep an eye on whats happening. After recognizing certain trends I have begun making conscious decisions based on those cycles. Day One - Wicked bad cramps. Day Three - Crying for no good reason. Day Four - Eat ice cream. I would do find time for a heating pad session on day one. I would do my best not to schedule any important meetings on day three. I would buy ice cream on day four :) Knowing my tendencies helps me to prepare and get in harmony with them instead of fighting against them.
- New Moon & Full Moon Journaling. This was the first way that I really found a regular journaling practice, mainly because it was only twice a month. I have a moon app where I track new and full moons each month. Every new moon I journal about what I want to invite into my life (more patience, more presence, more movement, love) and every full moon I journal about what I want to let go of (judgements, fears, sugar, complaining). I love this practice because the moon reminds me to do it!
- Scheduling weekly tasks based on moon cycles. This is newer for me but so far I really love it. I found this article explaining what types of actions and energy are best according to the phase of the moon. I understand that this might be a little out there for some, but it provides me additional focus for each week. For example, right before the new moon each month, is a great time to tie up loose ends and clear the desks (and your mind) for the new cycle. Its a time to meditate on new ideas and get clear on what's ahead. Then, when the new moon arrives, it's time to set new goals and start to bring your ideas into fruition! Keep your eyes open for more one this as I sink in :)
- When I find myself in a depression I think of the moon. I remember reading once that one side of the moon is always dark. I love this because it reminds me that it's COMPLETELY NATURAL to feel dark or down, to feel as if you've lost momentum, to feel a little lost. Knowing that the moon ALWAYS cycles around to find it's light side helps me sink into this darkness and see what I can learn from it. I can take a step back and just be a friend to my darkness and move with it instead of feeling like I'm flawed and fighting against it.
But without the dark we'd never see the stars.
If this feels like something you can relate to and want some more on working and living in sync with your life cycles, check out this interview: How to Tune into Your Own Cycles and Create Sustainable Success between Kate Northrup & Laura Thompson-Brady.