We all experience stress... the stressors from work, finances, health, relationships, and more all add up. It may not be possible to fully alleviate all the sources of stress in our life. What matters is how we react when faced with these stressors. Last year, I became aware that I had been pretty much living in a constant state of stress. Even in moments where there were no active stressors - I was still feeling the effects of constant underlying stress. This ongoing stress impacted my mental, physical, emotional, relational and spiritual wellbeing.
Fear-based and negative thoughts ran rampant through my mind. My body held tension in multiple areas - mostly in my jaw, neck, shoulders, back, and hips. My emotions fluctuated wildly as I reacted to various situations. I experienced disconnection and strain in several relationships. And I felt disconnected from my Source and my highest self, too.
I was trapped in my stress-based patterns - finding myself overly impatient, often agitated, and rarely able to relax. Living in this state was not only unhealthy, but was also a huge energy drain. Once I became aware how much I was letting stress impact my life, I knew I had to make some changes.
Wherever possible, I addressed the stressors/sources of stress first. Sometimes this meant closures, endings, and letting go. Other times, it meant having difficult conversations or taking other actions to lessen the impact of the stressor.
I worked with various professionals to help me address the physical tension in my body. I did a lot of writing in my journal to process my thoughts and my emotions. I re-invested in my spiritual practices. And I started to explore new modalities to help me unwind, relax, and restore.
I integrated a new restorative practice, which eventually helped me learn to relax my entire body. I'm not gonna lie - restorative was incredibly challenging for me at first. For busy bodies like me, it can be really hard to feel like you're lying there 'doing nothing.' My body still wanted to hold on to the tension out of habit. My mind wouldn't rest and I felt like I was wasting time.
But I kept returning to the mat. And with continued practice, I allowed myself to be completely supported by the floor and the various props (blankets, bolsters, and blocks) so I could come into complete relaxation. Eventually I came to cherish my restorative time. I fell so in love with it that I took an immersive class to learn how to teach it to others, too.
I have found restorative to be an important part of my personal and spiritual wellbeing practices. Not only am I learning to be more gentle and compassionate with myself, but I am also becoming more aware of what's happening in my mind and body and paying attention to the areas that need support and release.
Have you tried restorative? What's your experience been? What did you find challenging? How has it helped you?
I will be starting to schedule regular restorative classes in March and can't wait to share this practice with you.
In the meantime, if you need support in addressing the stressors in your life, reach out and let's schedule a discovery call to see how I can help you.
Do you have a space in your home that's just yours? A place away from stimulation, distractions and stressors where you feel comforted and at peace? Having a personal sanctuary or restorative niche that nourishes you, relaxes you, and supports your needs is important for your overall sense of wellbeing.
What kinds of restorative niches might you need in your home? You might spend time in your space for solitude, stillness and quiet. Perhaps you read, meditate, write in your journal, or do yoga. Do you need a space to do your hobbies, pursue your leisure interests, or to create?
Not everyone has the ability to dedicate an entire room to a personal sanctuary.... and that's okay. You can work with whatever space you have available - even if only a closet or a corner. I invite you to reflect on the following questions, and then look at your home with fresh eyes. Bring a little creativity to the process of designing the restorative niches you need.
What kind of Sacred Space(s) do you need in your home?
What is the purpose of the space? How will you use it?
How you want to feel in your space? Creative? Inspired? Free? Relaxed? Peaceful?
Do you need one space or multiple spaces? For example, if you want a space to feel energized, inspired and creative, AND a space where you can feel relaxed and peaceful - might these need to be different spaces? Or can you create different 'zones' for each type of activity?
Can we talk about anger for a minute...? Anger gets a bad rap. But our goal should not be to never feel angry... Anger is a normal, valid human emotion; things happen and sometimes the very appropriate response is to get pissed. Having said that, we don't want to stay angry for too long. Anger is a low-frequency emotion and is incredibly depleting of our energy. In addition, festering anger may cause unhealthy or destructive reactions, may have a negative impact on our relationships, and may be detrimental to our health over time. Instead of repressing it, I've learned that it's healthier to acknowledge when I feel angry and find healthy ways process and release it so I can shift my energy.
Here are some recent techniques I've tried that have helped me release anger in healthy ways.
*Write in my journal about why I am feeling angry; include details about what happened, how the situation impacted me, and what I'm most angry about.
*Scream. As loud as I can.
*Sit in stillness and practice slow, deep breathing for 10 minutes, focusing on creating a sense of calm and ease.
*Physical activity/exercise. Go for a walk. Get outside.
*Talk to someone I trust to verbally process and release.
*Hug someone I love.
*Intentionally tense all the muscles in my body for 10-20 seconds, then release and relax them all. I often repeat this 2 or 3 times.
*Find a soft/safe item to punch. What I have found to be easiest for me is to stack a couple of pillows on my bed and punch them as hard as I can. With each punch, I speak out loud one of the things I feel angry about.
Different situations create different intensities of emotion. What I've learned is to experiment with different techniques to see what works best for the different intensities. Feeling minorly agitated or annoyed is much different than feeling extreme anger or rage. Some days, I practice one or two of these and feel the anger leave my body. Other days, I need to practice several (or all...!).
When you feel angry, what have techniques have you found to be most helpful for you?
How are you honoring the Winter Solstice? I spent time reflecting on the past year, acknowledging the ways I've grown and the lessons I've learned along the way. As our energy transitions with the winter season, we have the opportunity to reconnect with our self, deepen our connection with the Divine, and re-evaluate our deepest intentions and priorities.
Most people think of winter as a time of slowing down, of hibernation, and of darkness. And these things can be true, indeed. But I choose to focus on the growth that continues below the surface... I have been exploring the old habits and patterns that have been holding me back from living a fuller life. In bringing awareness to these, there are times when I work on them actively - focusing on self-healing and self-reflective practices - and there are times when I work on them more passively - below the surface, so to speak.
During these times of self-reflection and self-healing, I do a lot of journaling, I study the messages and symbols in my dreams, and I read a lot of spiritual books, reflecting on the passages most connected to what's transpiring in my life or where I'm headed next.
With this solstice, I reflected on these questions, and invite you to explore them for yourself, too.
-What unproductive patterns, unhelpful habits, or shadow aspects need healed? What blocks need to be released within myself?
-Which shadow aspects do I need to embrace more fully in my life? (note that our shadows are not always negative - they are things we have buried, which may include passions, interests, aspects of self that we prefer to hide from others, etc.)
-What lights me up from within? or what am I most passionate about?
-How can I come into alignment with my spiritual life, highest self, and heart-based intentions?
-What additional adjustments can I make in my life to move me forward?
I do the self-examination and self-healing work to help me release old wounds, limiting beliefs, and other unproductive habits that hold me back. Doing so helps me clear the clutter so I can find more clarity about where I'm headed and create space to welcome the new.
I also do the self-healing work so I can keep my vibration lifted - which does NOT mean being "positive" all the time. It means being human - allowing myself to feel and express all emotions so they pass through. It means making choices that are aligned to my highest self and my future. It means learning to accept my whole self - which also requires me to practice self-compassion, self-forgiveness, and self-love.
Let's welcome the change of season by honoring our growth and getting ourselves ready to welcome the new.
Sometimes we feel off balance, lost, confused or even frustrated with life. I've learned that when I find myself here, I need to stay with it. I stay open to the idea that there is something happening that I cannot yet see and that soon, it will become clearer.
Parts of the last few years have been incredibly challenging for me. But I kept my faith in the Divine unfolding of events and experiences, trusting that somehow everything was fitting together.
As this year comes to a close and I've been sitting in reflection of the past few years, it is becoming clearer and clearer how my experiences, challenges, and lessons have connected. I see how these experiences - even the most difficult ones - were purposeful and were leading me to where I am now.
Many people were part of my journey the last few years, supporting me, guiding me, teaching me.... many pushing me in big ways. Some helped me see the good qualities in myself that I had been unable to see, some brought light to my shadows and wounds that needed healing, and some helped me become clear on what I do and don't want in my life or from a relationship.
Some of these people are no longer in my life. But all of them helped me learn, grow, and expand. I am grateful for each and every one of these experiences and teachers... even the ones that brought forth my biggest challenges.
I am excited for next year and for where my journey is taking me personally, spiritually, and professionally. I'm ready to step out in new ways on all areas of my life. I'm eager to share my gifts and talents in a much bigger way, as a way to honor and give back all the love, support and guidance I have received.
What are you most excited about for 2021?
I bet most of you are GREAT at giving. Do you allow yourself to RECEIVE, too? Receiving with gratitude has been a challenge for me. It's been difficult to receive compliments or to accept offers of help. So I have been practicing the art of receiving.
Recently, I made a plea on my Facebook page, asking if anyone knew how to address a technology issue. Within minutes, people were commenting, asking questions, connecting me with others, and doing research to try to help solve the problem. While I was grateful, I noticed that I had a very strong urge to tell everyone not to spend too much time on it. This stems from long-standing thoughts about not wanting to be a burden to others. I aware of my urge to resist help, but I refrained and allowed the assistance to flow. I received a solution to my problem and expressed gratitude to everyone.
People want to be kind; they want to give and share and help however they can .... will we let them? Learning to receive is an important part of taking care of ourselves. We can't do EVERYTHING alone. If we can't receive, we can't get the help we need.
If you're out of practice, too, start small; practice receiving compliments with a simple 'Thank you' or let someone buy you a coffee. When was the last time you allowed yourself to receive...?
What are your favorite birthday traditions? My birthday is an opportunity to treat myself, rest, play, and reflect. I treated myself to a chocolate croissant for breakfast, I purposely scheduled a very light work day today, and tonight I have a special date planned with my daughter. I also started my morning, as I always do, in reflection.
On my birthday, I always ask myself a few specific reflection questions and explore possibilities in my journal. The questions I asked today were:
-How can I best honor and celebrate myself and my accomplishments throughout the month?
-What to embrace this next year
-How to bring more joy into this next year
-A new interest I'd like to explore
-How can I be a gift to others this year?
I reviewed the themes that emerged and noticed what piqued my interest the most. My next step will be to integrate my ideas into my 2021 Vision, and create a Soul Vision board as a visual reminder of my aspirations, areas of focus, and priorities. I'll be sharing more on the Soul Vision board concept soon, and a colleague and I are dreaming up our next collaborative workshop on this topic, which will be held in January - stay tuned!
So, what are your favorite birthday traditions?
I said on a podcast once "clarity comes everytime you ask..." There's a particular question I've been grappling with for quite some time. My process is to ask, wait, reflect, and explore... and if it doesn't come right away, I've learned I need to step away and give it space. I hold the question lightly, so it knows I'm ready to receive the answer when the answer is ready to present itself. Holding it lightly, remaining curious, but NOT forcing the response. The minute I try to force an answer, it's gone.
So I've been holding this question for awhile now, periodically asking again so it knows I still want to hear the answer. Each time I've asked, I get another hint, another layer of clarity.
This morning I had a HUGE insight... dots connected in a way that they hadn't before. Upon seeing this insight, I immediately felt sadness, then I felt a little angry, but then, once the truth fully settled in, I experienced an overwhelming sense of peace, then joy.
That's often the journey... twisty and turny... it can be challenging, and sometimes is messy. With the important questions, we need to be patient and willing to hang in there, allowing things unfold as they are meant to. Trusting that we will receive what we need when we need it. Flowing with the energy, embracing the process, and allowing the truth, when it comes to settle in.
"I love myself....the quietest, simplest, most powerful revolution ever." (Nayyirah Waheed)
One of the biggest lessons I've had to learn is to love and nurture my body. I've had to learn to take care of it physically through nutrition and exercise. I've had to learn to make space for downtime, rest and relaxation rather than staying in a constant state of busyness. I've learned stress reduction and breathing techniques to relieve muscle tension.
And I've had to learn to appreciate my body's appearance, too... grays, wrinkles, rolls and all, because I used to look in the mirror and only see the things that I didn't like. Now I am able to look at myself in the mirror and see things I love, too. A revolution, indeed.
What do you appreciate about YOUR body?
What is something you can do for your body to show your appreciation...? A bath? A massage? A walk in the mountains?
Choose something to nourish yourself and commit to doing it this weekend.
Body love isn't frivolous or selfish.
Our body does so much for us.. let's return the love.
What do you want to CREATE in 2021? Rather than setting resolutions, each year I choose a word that describes my VISION (2020- harmony) and a word that reflects my INTENTION (2020 - nourish). Then I align my priorities and goals to these, which ensures I focus my time and energy taking ACTION on the most important things. Here's a recap of how this played out for me in 2020 - so you can see an example of how integrating these concepts creates results.
Creating inner harmony required self-healing work, the identification and shifting of limiting beliefs and mindsets, and claiming my inner power so I could stand up for myself and use my voice. Creating external harmony required me to release unhealthy relationships and unproductive habits, and to address other sources of conflict, stress and tension. I learned how to take care of my body, I reset my mindsets and beliefs, and I did the work to process, express and shift my emotions.
My vision of harmony and intention to nourish are what pulled me through 2020.... even when things got really tough. They brought a stronger focus to my health and wellbeing and gave me the strength and courage to *let go* of so many things that were not working for me. As a result, I feel more calm and balanced, I have more energy, and I created more time for the most important people and things in my life.
AND I completely redesigned my business ... which wasn't even something I had planned to do! Doing all the other work created space for me to see that something new was trying to emerge.
Vision + Intention + Action --> Results.
I've already started the process of creating my vision and intention for 2021 ... have you?
If you'd like some support with this process, please reach out to schedule a call, or comment below and I'll reach out to you. We'll get acquainted and see how I can help.