To Live and Love - A Journey of Surrender Through Joy and Pain

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Does life ever seem to just slow down, for a second, like you are watching life happen in slow motion? For me this happens from time to time and the sound is internal. The noises become like white noise or even quite in my mind and my eyes see different. Today I see people at Whole Foods hustling. They are eating and packing their groceries and texting. Some people are smiling while others look tired and others heavy with grief.

Where are they going? What are they cooking for dinner? What are they thinking about? When is the last time they were held or heard the words “I love you?” How are they feeling with the dynamics of the world lately? Are they hurting with the loss of the fires? Have they lost a good friend or lover recently? Have they found joy in something special?

I think these questions and more. Are these people that are going about life connected or numb? Or perhaps a little of both? Do they know their purpose? Do they even contemplate this question? Are they running on fumes or rested?

The answers to these questions and more are unknown to me yet available to each person.. All I know is what I can see, feel, hear, taste and touch.

Today I sense that life is delicate and bold and beautiful. When these moments happen it is hard for me to fully articulate what this feels like. The closest thing I can compare it to is looking at a meteor shower. Have you ever watched a lot of shooting stars in a dark night? As you are outside the rest of the life simple stops and you can so clearly feel and know that there is something out there that is bigger than you. Something so grand and complex that everything works together. The sun rises and sets. The seasons change. The birds chirp as the sun rises. The list goes on and on. Nature is perfect and somehow this life things works, despite my ability to sometimes comprehend how.

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So today, I sit with headphones in, I pause in this moment. I am in awe of simply being a human. I am in awe of experiencing all of life: the joy, the pain, the sorrow, the worry and the love. All of it. It is intense and amazing and hard all at the same time.

Can you relate? Are you someone that feels intensely or worries? For those of you that know me, I am a worrier and a feeler. I can feel all of the feelings so strong that sometimes it overwhelms me and I cannot breathe deep or understand the depth of life. And in these moments I allow myself to take it in and pause. And then get back to being grounded and find room and moments to breathe and be grateful. The other thing I will honest with is my fear of loss. My worry has been very intense since I was young. I feel like since I have been young, I have been waiting for the call that something bad has happened. In fact, even today, my dad called me and the slightest pause in the “Hello Kitten” made my heart drop. My heart was pounding in my chest and I thought/felt “what is wrong? What happened?” Oh, dear. That isn’t fun or necessary, but sometimes is my reality.

I mean, that doesn’t seem productive or even normal. As I’ve been working with my therapist on this, I have trained my mind to think the chance of something bad to happen to be heavily skewed to a higher percentage of it to happen.

Why I am sharing this with you? Well, for starters, I want to be clear that this thought pattern of being on high alert has not been valuable to my mental or physical health. It can through my rhythm in a moments notice.

However, it is my reality. It is my work in progress. It is the story behind me trying my best in life. It is the story behind my smile and showing up in life. It is my battle of letting go fully and surrendering enough to say, “I am living; I am loving.”

But then again, what does it mean to live? Does it mean going through the motions and hustle? Or does it does it mean to connect? Does it mean to be at ease in the good times and soft and open to healing and hurt in the not so pretty times?

Honestly, I truly am thinking a lot about life. I am clear if one thing, that when I am connected to source, and I take time to pause, and breathe I have a better life. I am kinder to those I love. I am kinder to myself, I have more patience, resilience, joy, and faith. And so I strive to do more of this in the form of gratitude, meditation, and honoring life by taking care of myself.

What I am not so clear on is this whole loss thing. The pain of life is so intense. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of our dear friend Erik who left us on August 7, 2018. Why Erik? Why did a man that had such a positive impact and love have to leave us so soon? Will any of this every make any sense at all? What about his beautiful wife and three kiddos? Why them? And then how do we surrender to bad shit like this happening?

Honestly, I don’t understand nor do I pretend to know if I will ever comprehend. But what I know is that to honor Erik and all those that have passed or are living and experienced grief, I will do my best to honor the life I do have. And I will take it a day at a time. I know it is cheesy and hard all at the same time.

I want to prevent the hurt and pain. For me, for James, for my kids and my mom and dad and sisters and brothers. I want to avoid pain at all costs. I want to never have to get that call again and I want the pain in the world to go away. But what if my job isn’t to do everything I can to avoid that? What if my job, rather, is to surrender to it all. What if my job is to trust that no matter the crappy things that happen, there will also be joy and peace within. To know and own in my journey that there will be light and joy along the way.

Maybe the point is to give so much thanks to our blessings that we spread even more? What if we do even more good? And instead of waste precious moments worrying about would or could happen should there be tragedy, what it we simply surrender to the blessings now? And then know that this is a choice to surrender each and every day. It isn’t something you buy at Target or Amazon, rather, it is a choice that we make each and every day and moments through the day. I think I can even get on board with that (and am trying, I promise).

And it also isn’t saying that to surrender doesn’t mean to show up for you and those around you. For example, do you care about animal rights? Go after it. Channel it and do good things. Do you worry about guns in schools and pretty much everywhere these days? Try your best to surrender and be at ease and then channel your frustration to volunteer or raise money to change laws.

That is the balance. That is the gift we get to choose. And then we take a deep breath again and again to connect, to believe in something and to keep showing up.

What do you choose? How do you show up for you and life? How do you surrender and let go, yet fight for something you believe in. How do you hold those close to you but not grip and worry so much that aren’t able to live or feel the feelings of love and joy?

That is my deep question for you as we enter this holiday week. There isn’t an answer that is right or wrong. The quote in the bathroom today at mXe said “Be Where You Are.”

My wish for you is to do just that. Be right where you are. Be aware and kind. Contemplate the gift of life and how it can be beautiful and divine and so many things. And honor all of your feelings today. And know that you are loved and not alone.

Peace, love, and healing to all of you beautiful humans.

Kristin

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Be Where You Are

It All Matters

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Hello there and happy Summer! I have an hour of quiet today and while I know i should be doing other productive things I cannot help but want to tap into my creative self for just a few moments. I actually went to the basement and played on the keyboard for 15 minutes and it felt so good. Sometimes it feels good to just do what feels right versus what we ‘should’ do. It has been a while since the house has been quiet and I am gifting myself just a few minutes to write and share my heart. 

The topic of today's post can apply to anyone and everyone. It has made such a huge impact on my life. It is simple and yet so important: IT ALL MATTERS. That is right, every small thing you do each and every day matters. And sometimes we get ahead of ourselves when we think in our lives with our goals, schedules, wellness or work. There is so much coming at us in the world with videos, and articles, and news, and TV etc. There are so many ‘should’s’ and expectations; this mindset can lead to unhappiness and disappointment. 

Next I will get more specific and personal so that you might understand and apply this to your life today. I have struggled with a few things over the last few years. My son will be five in the fall and I would say for the last almost four years things have been a battle with regards to my gut health, eating disorder issues, extra weight, my purpose and knowing what to do with my time etc. There are many factors that created the perfect storm of some of the internal challenges that I have gone through that impacted my mental and physical health. I won't get into them too much but will simply say my gut health (insert parasite after having not a good gut) impacted my mental mind + lack of sleep impacted my mental mind. Additionally, my eating disorder flared up because my health issues required a restricted diet. In every cell of my body I resisted all the “no’s” in my diet and truly wondered what will actually make me feel well.

Over the past few years I gained a good amount of the baby weight that I lost (about 15 pounds to be exact). And this has BOTHERED me. Why? Am I that concerned with how I look? Well, after a lot of experiencing and writing and tears and soul searching the answer is NO. But, I am human and it MATTERS how I feel in my body. It MATTERS that I feel strong and that I can eat a meal without looking 7-months preggars and like I have a monster in my stomach. And it MATTERS that I feel confident enough to put shorts on and enjoy summer. I still remember a run that I did three summers ago where my shorts wouldn't stay on and I felt awful. I felt so ashamed and not good in my body. I was pissed that I had to wear pants to work out and wondered what was wrong with me. 

And I pause here for a moment and say it is even hard to admit the above. This subject is tricky because weight and body image are personal. It is almost a taboo subject to admit when we don’t feel good in our own skin. I mean, what about “body positive.” And all the reasons in between. But I am going to put myself out there today and say that not feeling good in my body was my reality. It did impact how I felt just doing life. And my entire point in brining it up is that it mattered to me and that is enough to make it mean something. It is crap to say love yourself if you are playing tricks on your mind. And I have tried that and it doesn’t work. On the same token, grace and love of where you are, and the body that is perhaps actually protecting you with your discomfort, is part of the process to.

When I realized that summer that I had gained a bit of weight making me feel uncomfortable but yet I was eating healthy foods (most of which didn't satisfy me because of my restrictions) I was DETERMINED to lose the weight. I have done this before and I can do it again. But I didn't. I was unable. I was stuck. 

And then insert today, I have no idea if I weigh less or not, but I FEEL DIFFERENT. Why? Well, I am pretty sure it was a series of events that I want to share with you that explains why it all matters. And most importantly, that everyone has a unique formula for what will work for him/her. Yet with the amount of information that is out there we forget this. We start seeking from EVERY possible source. Whether it is wellness, work or adventure, we are often caught seeking. We watch videos and research. Even when we try our best to get the right information we often are missing one important factor: connection with ourselves. We are losing that ability to know what IS working and what ISN’T working. We are numbing ourselves with social media, alcohol, food, lack of movement, being over busy, and more. We are DISCONNECTED. 

Yet we seek and try even when we know something is off. In these situations we can find ourselves blaming others, and even worse, blaming ourselves. That is the crappiest thing of all. Somehow, from my perspective, this society has taught us to be empowered and strong yet when things don't go right we are so darn hard on ourselves. Why do we go so quickly to being hard on ourselves? The answer: the quality of the mind. As I was taught so eloquently by my teacher Rod Stryker a couple years ago at his Minneapolis training, we are more attached to our self-identity than air. Wow, that has an impact. 

Since that training my awareness of this has helped me to come out of this attachment to the way that I WAS physically before. I used to be able to eat food and follow ad 80/20 diet or even 90/10 diet. I was a strong athlete and what kept me in balance or feeling good in my 20's is now completely different. My gut health from the Rx in 2010 to the parasite in 2013 impacted my mental and physical health. For some reason I was gaining weight and hormones were off even though I was trying to do everything I USED to know to make changes. Nothing seemed to work. But do you know the biggest thing I was doing of all? I was GRIPPING. I was TRYING SO HARD. I was so attached to not feeling good and so ANGRY at my situation that it kept me STUCK.

Being stuck impacted so many of my emotions and well-being. It was a rollercoaster. Some moments I would tell myself I could do it and the next moment I would make eight trips to the bathroom or catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I just didn't feel right and something had to change. 

How am I right now?

This is where the point of all of this comes together. I realized something had to change and it started with doing my SIBO test. The results were I had SIBO (methane and hydrogen) pretty bad. And off I went to the most amazing practitioner I have ever seen, Dr. Meghan. And do you know what? She has been treating me, Kristin, uniquely. I can tell that she uses the current situation and we adapt and adjust to what I need. I know that my healing IS happening because of her approach to looking at what is unique and needed for ME right now. And then all the little things and treatments add up.

The other important factor is that this fall when I was rock bottom of being so frustrated I remember sobbing on the floor after I drank (downed) a whiskey and simply felt lost. I wanted to numb all of my feelings and just feel like myself again. My journey to feeling myself again from a food and digestion perspective and the extra weight I was hanging onto (not to mention my up and down moods) was staring at me in the face and felt too big. It felt so impossible yet, was it any different than what thousands of people deal with and overcome? i knew in my heart and soul that this face-down moment was the beginning of my true-healing journey. I can see it now, nine months later and I now understand why I did what I did last fall. Why I joined Beautycoutner was that exact reason why I can say that I am healing and making progress, finally, to feel like myself again, to not poop my pants (yes that has happened in my journey), and to love myself and appreciate life to a level I have never felt possible. 

So what is the trick? I knew last fall that it ALL matters, yet I couldn't address ALL of it right then and there. I need a level of gratitude, faith, and focus each and every week. When I looked at the mountain I needed to climb it was too big. What would happen for me was the "f-it plan!" Do you know what that is like when you throw in the towel and say f-it? You just cannot fight anymore or you say that the healthful choices you are making don't matter and you eat two burgers and fries, or listening to your body on how much to eat is a stupid and bullshit phrase so you eat on-the-go and disconnect. Or you stop going to to the gym because you aren't seeing results. Or you stop eating the way your doctor is guiding you because you are fed up watching other people eat delicious food and you get to eat the same bullshit every day? 

What happens when we choose the f-it diet or lifestyle/action that keeps us out of balance or is not in our best interest? Likely more suffering. Likely you will continue to be out of balance even more. But it is SO normal to do this because we live in a world of all or nothing. Not to mention the concept of Like Attracts Like, which essentially says doing what keeps us out of balance will actually feel good. Our challenges sometimes feel so big that how in the world can I possibly overcome them? Am I right? 

To simplify even more let's talk about being overweight. I can only speak to this with an extra 15-20 pounds. I know it isn't much, but to me it felt like a lot. I knew what it felt like to feel healthy and in balance and I didn't feel that way. And so many times I just went to the f-it plan and it did NOTHING to serve me. And then I would make a plan and try to be perfect again and then I would FAIL.

What has changed for me is my MINDSET. I have taken my digestion healing plan, food, and business all as little baby milestones. Each week I casually, yet intentionally decide what I am going to add-in this week. SMALL. And I mean small things. For example, I realized this spring I needed more support. So I hired a second nutritionist and I am working on just one thing: eating three meals. My other amazing nutritionist has been working with me on this for years but I finally decided to listen. To take action. And that is it. Recently I have been writing down one day of food for analysis. That is it. And the changes that have come to it are HUGE. I am learning so much about my dysfunctional thought process, and what normal eating might feel like. But the biggest thing for me is that it was just one simple thing that is making a big impact. And on top of it, the new perspective and support allows me to actually gift myself the grace I often encourage others to give themselves.

Let's use exercises as another example. I was unable to do a lot physically with my joint pain and thus got more out of shape through the winter. I started to run and my feet immediately hurt. Instead of pushing through, which I often would I stopped and said, let's change the goal so that you can make it happen. Let's get new shoes and try to move more and then once a week when you walk, add in 1-minute bursts of running. EAch week I would do that and celebrate more movement and a little bit of running. Guess what? I ran 5 miles last week and 8 weeks ago there is no way I could do that without hurting myself.

Did it happen over night? No. What was my focus? It was adding in just a little bit more. And then a little more. And celebrating every win along the way. When I wouldn't move much on a day or when I wouldn't eat meals but graze every day and feel like shit. I would celebrate the crap out of that! It would be hard not to feel shame or anger with myself. I would catch myself and stop and say something like, " I am so glad I ate crappy today because my stomach feels awful and It reminds me why I have to meal plan and sit and chew my food!" And then I would feel all of the feelings of discomfort, but remove the shame. 

What keeps happening when I follow this system? Changes? I am happier, I love myself more, I think I am losing weight or at least fitting into my clothes more, and I am healing! I go to the bathroom more consistently and I am connected to myself in a way that I wasn't for the longest time? 

Do I have more work to do? Yes! And when I start to try too hard and I think to myself, keep moving and eating perfect Kristin, you can do this. Do you know what happens? I have shitty days. I disconnect and I forget that it isn't perfection or even the point of any of it. The goal isn't to be perfect in my body. The goal is to be connected to my body and feel good in my body so that I can live and love. I want to play with my kids and laugh with my friends and snuggle with my husband. I want to do more than my 1-minute of yoga again. Why? Not because I feel like I should but because I want to. I want to because I know that in time it will be back in my life. I will start slow and eventually I will have a longer meditation practice again. 

Each week I just keep adding in small things. I am slowly swapping out products in our kitchen and bathroom. I am moving more and eating more full meals than ever. I need more sleep and yoga. I need more structure in my work life and family life. But that will come. Why? Because it all matters and it is truly the little victories that get us farther faster.  It is being content with right now versus being so angry about how you aren't the same or that you have challenges. It is letting go at which the pace things happen. It is being in the moment as best as you can. It is being content with one breath at a time.

Is it every going to be perfect. Hell no. It is not going to be perfect, EVER! It is never going to feel like it and we are always trying to improve and get better. That is part of life. 

What I will tell you is if you read or take away anything, it is this: It ALL Matters. Keep it simple. Decide one or two things a week you will add-in that will help your life. And then do them. Celebrate when it goes well and when it doesn't. Be kind in your words to yourself and as best as you can trust the process. Trust your body and your soul to lead and support you. The answers are not on the internet or anywhere else, even from the best of the teachers and doctors. The answers are within. Keep listening and taking action. Little steps because you are worth. It all matters. And most important, YOU MATTER.

In love and so much gratitude,

Kristin 

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Yoga - Living my Yoga

The choices you make about how you will respond determine everything.
— Rod Stryker, The Four Desires

It is almost been three (now to plus months) weeks since the immersion of Yoga with Yogarupa Rod Stryker was in town. It is three days a year that I look forward to when he comes back to Minneapolis, hosted by my amazing teacher, Tanya Boigenzan (owner of Devanadi). In these three days I am lucky enough to be surrounded by an amazing group of yogis, and sangha (community). I quickly am reminded why I feel in love with yoga many years ago. While the information in my mind has changed, and some of my experiences have deepened, it is still the same.  

For me the biggest take-away practicing yoga is connecting to me, my true essence. My essence is the place in me that is always there and truly wants me to thrive. When I practice it does so many things for me. Not only does it remind me that sitting in meditation is critical for my well-being, but it also reminds me that life is a little bit of a balancing act. And the more I understand this, the more I surrender to the control or any of the emotions that come with being human. 

To elaborate I will share a little bit more about me. I have always been a determined person. I have always tried so hard: to do things the right way, execute a project, pass the perfect pass on the volleyball court, or make the best team, or be the best at my job. You get the point. I have had a drive in me that has helped me get through the challenging years of middles school, various health challenges, while not a huge deal, went with me everywhere. This led me to thinking that something MUST be wrong with me. I must have to TRY HARDER. 

Insert the collapse after my second baby, deep into the emotions I never knew were even there. I realized, oh my goodness, my vikalpa (my deep desire that is beneath my consciousness that impacts my actions) is holding my back and causing me pain.  In addition to understanding these deep desires that do not help me to thrive, I also was able in the past few years to uncover my dharma (purpose). Thank goodness for Tanya's wisdom and one-one-ones with her that inspired me to do the work and to know my dharma. This knowing of my purpose would be (and still is) the anchor to me surviving this crazy thing called life. First, getting through the baby stage of my second, and then onward into each new phase (or season) of my life. 

In 2014/2015 I did a lot of work from the Four Desires book by Rod Stryker, with the support of his training and my teacher Tanya, I learned a ton. I still remember being at the 3-day immersion and going outside (away from the people) because the emotions were too strong. The suffering that I had been hiding from came to the surface, and I wanted to drive away and stop looking at it head on. Good thing that day I had carpooled and I had to stay; I did the work. I realized that a lot of my suffering was old patterns of thinking, and something deep in me that i wasn't necessary consciously choosing, but that was ultimately impacting the quality of my life. 

I spent the next couple years saying my dharma code over and over and over. Even now, when things feel stressful or aren't going well and I catch myself reacting or not being grounded/stable I pause and think, "what is your dharma code? Bring yourself back there." The most recent example for my is finding mice that decided to invade our home in March. . For those of you that know me, a spider or a centipede will make me squeal. This was a challenge to say the least. What got me through? My dharma code. It wasn't the daily meditation (which I was too anxious to do), rather it was this anchor that reminded me to have faith, to be confident and to surrender. When in doubt, I always come back to this.

I am one to be hard on myself so I often judge or place things in a category of good or bad. I do this even worse with food (that is for another day), but I have also done this with my yoga practice. I have been judging how my meditation practice has gone up and down over the years. I get mad at myself for starting and stopping and then the spinning of the mind happens. However, last week I realized something. I finally understand that me trying to keep going in life with grace and gratitude, faith and kindness, and determination yet surrender IS MY PRACTICE. 

This has been my journey for me. Would I be more patient with my kiddos if I had a daily practice? Yes. Would I have less on and off anxiety? Yes. Would life feel more effortless if I gave myself the foundation of wellness through sleep, practice, and some daily routine that I so crave? Yes, yes, yes!! But, perhaps I don't just tell other people to give themselves grace, I actually DO it and practice it. 

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Wouldn't that be awesome? Now think about you for a moment. Is there something that you are hard on yourself that you know you need to do more of? Do you beat yourself up over x, y and z? You are not alone. Know that, and understand that awareness and self-reflection is so imporant, but especially without judgement. Ask yourself which is it? Are you hard on yourself or are you able to take information in your life and remove the emotion? It isn't easy i know.

To take this a step further I believe that when we come from a place of being objective (vs. judgmental) you open yourself to growth.  The opposite is being stuck. When we are took hard on ourself we can easily get stuck. This theme is everyone once you start looking. You will see this theme in yogic texts, Brene Brown's work, self-help books, etc. 

This realization came from me asking for help. A couple weeks ago I felt like i just couldn't do this "healing thing" alone any more. To stay super candid, my restricted diet on and off for 7 years was breaking me. I felt alone, hungry, confused, overweight for me, stuck, angry, disappointed in myself, and I knew i had two options. Option one was to choose the "f-it" choices. I could do whatever the hell I wanted to. And I did for a while with food, and let me tell you that didn't go so well. I also had a little bit of wine and on the high-volume mice day I may have even had whiskey. And then that didn't feel so good either. But even before any of those actions I asked for support from to professionals to help me to better understand food and my body. Why does it hurt, why am I carrying an extra 10-15 lbs, why do I hate food, why does everything seem so hard? 

And you know what asking for help did for me and letting go of control for a little bit? It reminded me of WHY I am doing it all. I reminded me that I don't have to do it alone. It taught me that although I tell others to be objective, I have a column of good vs. bad. I am constantly judging myself and not doing 100% of whatever restricted diet, or pills or rehab makes me feel like a failure. I do the same thing with my yoga practice, or sleep, or the way I feed the kids or even parent. Even if I do 95% awesome and the 5% fails, well, that sucks, I must improve. And that sends me down the stuck lane. The lane where I feel ashamed. The lane where I wonder why I am even trying. The lane where I cannot even take a deep breath, let alone desire to practice yoga. And that is not going to serve me or be able to live and love in this beautiful and crazy thing called life. 

I want to share two final things with you that have me thinking and hit me to the core of my being:

The first is an excerpt from the book that I randomly found in the one minute I had to pick out something for me at the library. Brene's words below resonated so much I almost dropped the book in the bath and sobbed uncontrollably. Essentially, women, have to have it all together please. Don't try too hard, but look good, have it all together, be confident, but don't try so hard. Sheez. And these words made me think even deeper about this and my own body-image and food issues. Why do I have to fight this battle inside and alone? Why do we have to do ALL of this alone and be grounded in this "beauty" (for lack of a better word)? This unwritten expectation is not discussed, yet it is felt 110%. At least for me. And how do any of us know what the other woman's story is if we aren't asking the questions? Maybe someone has gained extra weight but they are sleeping awful? Or maybe they aren't eating much and their metabolism is messed. Or maybe there is a deeper story behind why they don't "have it all together." And so I simply leave this excerpt with you. Does this resonate with you? Do you hold yourself to this? Do you compare yourself to your co-worker or friend or sister or even your mom? Do you compare yourself to a version of yourself from the past? No answer is right or wrong, but simply information for you to get to know you better. 

Exerpt from: Thought it was just me (but it isn't) by brene brown

Exerpt from: Thought it was just me (but it isn't) by brene brown

The second is my most recent revelation on life following the funeral of my dear friend's dad. He was 86 years old, but still I found myself teared up during the service. My ears were listening to the words from the Priest and I prayed that I would get a message that would add value to my life. Every time I am at a funeral I am reminded of how precious life is. And going to a funeral in eighth grade for my friend's senior-in-high school sister forever made an impact on me. I left realizing that bad things happen, and unfortunately I have been deep-down scared out of my mind of bad things happening. This topic is linked to so much of my story (hopefully I can elaborate on one day). However, what I realized sitting in that church is that life is a balance of joy/goodness and suffering. Birth is part of life, and death is part of life, and all the things in between. 

What if i stopped resisting with all my might? I can resist life and the risks that come with it with every party of my being (can you think fight or flight)? In this state I think I am secretly in control of life with my worries and actions. Or the other option is that I allow myself to surrender with faith and to live fully with love and faith. 

To summarize my aha- moment is simple: life comes with joy and pain. And we are all experience hopefully both (some more than others). Despite the joy and the pain, how can we find peace with exactly where we are at, while being grateful for what is, but also having faith and hope for what might be?

Those are my thoughts today as I reflect. As I notice the ups and downs of some of my days and weeks. Life is a constant choice of how we react to the world, how we surrender, yet stay present. And regardless of where you are, be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. It is truly the only option to get closer to the state of thriving and contentment. Can you continue to be curious on your actions and thoughts? Can you be open to knowing that you deserve to thrive and to be love and supported? I am slowly learning that the beautiful part of life is less about where I want to go but more in the journey of self-reflection and growth. 

Peace and Love to you all,

Kristin  

New Year Reflections

What is your intention for your day, week, month and year?

Today I have a long list as I prep for my daughter to turn 8 tomorrow and for my busier days of teaching Thursday - Saturday. I decided before I keep going I would sit down and just look at my website for a moment to update my teaching scheduling and then read a post I wrote on New Year's Day. Inspired by a recent FB and blogger, I decided why write and not share. So I added a couple tags and am posting. 

What I find pretty lovely about this writing is that my intention for 2018 has stayed very close to what I wrote. I am choosing to be selective in my yes column so I can unravel and live in each day with the gifts at hand. I have finally realized mess will be in my life as a mama (right now lunch dishes in front of me and kitchen still not cleaned up from lunch). Instead of wait until it feels organized, clean, perfect, or like I have met my first goal, I am leaning into each moment a little bit more. I am also finding that being grateful and loving right now is actually bringing me closer to my goals and helping me simply be happier in each moment. 

No, I do not have it all together. Yes, my clothes are too tight and I have a hard time (still) following the SIBO diet and trying to challenge foods. No, I still haven't finished my Vinyasa Krama training (still need to complete a book report) and Yes, I am still filling out a goal-book to help me prioritize and haven't even gotten to the month section. Ha. Maybe it will be for April - September or maybe I won't get to it for a couple more months. However, the bottom line is that taking the time to be intentional is helping me immediately. 

And that is all I have for now. I am doing my best each and every day. I need to head and get more water for now and maybe clean up a bit, but I promise you I will keep sharing whether in videos or words or however I can. I know it help my soul feel content. And that is a win. 

Check out my writing from 2018 and more importantly, take a pause to check-in with YOU. How are things going so far and if you did set goals/intentions for 2018 how are they going? If you didn't, is there an intention that you want to put forth for the next season? Where your attention goes energy flows right? So remember that. And please note: I didn't credit anyone for that because when I looked up I found about 5 authors. I will take any clarification if you have. :) 

Written Jan 1, 2018

I cannot help but pause for a brief moment and reflect on the past year. I think it is important to take even five minutes to look at where you have been and where you are headed. As I sit at the coffee shop I am supposed to be finishing my final homework assignment for my Vinyasa Krama and I realize that I have learned so much over the last year plus. It has been a year of trying lots of new things, with intention and some things rushed. It has been a year of sometimes not listening to what is in my best interest and then feeling the consequences of those actions. 

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As a mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister and more I realize I have lots of hats to wear. In this endeavor of life I know I am not alone in that regard. What I can tell you today is that things have evolved and changed many times since I became a mom almost eight years ago. It is honestly crazy and amazing all at the same time. In the last year it has become very clear to me that although we are all very unique we also have a lot in common. We all desire to thrive. We all desire to connect to something bigger than us. We are all our best and most shiny version of ourselves when we are true to who we are, what is important and doing what we feel is the best in this particular day. 

There are so many expectations put on us for what we should do. We are supposed to look a certain way and talk a certain way. We are supposed to exercise and eat healthy and love others and love ourselves, say the right thing, do the right thing, etc. We are supposed to squeeze it all in and somehow find faith in this crazy thing called life. This last year of 2017 has brought forth many emotions and scenarios of life that have brought to our attention the intensity of being human. That with the light that is in the world and goodness comes the other side of darkness. And yes, it has been painful and impacted many people, but what I say to that is that we must all keep moving forward unique to YOU.

That is my biggest lesson. We have the potential to overcome these bigger social issues, and the potential to overcome our own suffering and internal struggles. Whether they are specific to you or something bigger, they all matter and they are all connected. 

I often feel very helpless and by nature, am more of a nervous person. I have always been a bit jumpy, simply waiting for something bad/shitty to happen. As a kid, my friends would tell me to "relax!" That wasn't my favorite response, but it was truth. That was not fun in many moments of my life. But more importantly, I have learned that these worries are not mine to carry. If I keep carrying the worries of what I cannot control I am going to make myself sick and suffer most of my life. Instead, I know that leaning into faith and gratitude will help me to be free. This faith will help me to continue to believe in something bigger than me and to enjoy the gift of life. 

In addition to faith I have seen the magic of gratitude in a way that words cannot describe. It is true that when we are grateful for life and its blessings and its pain we can raise our vibration. For example, the last three months I have been so challenged with my SIBO healing protocol and some huge physical pain and limitations. I get so pissed and want to say "f this!" However, I know that if I lean into my frustration it is going to keep me away from actually healing. Thus, I use the technique discussed in Melissa Gilbert's book, Magic and Rod Stryker's Four Desires Book, which he calls the "miracle angle." How can I find gratitude for what is? Even if it sucks you-know-what. 

I will tell you that this has gotten me through and in some cases, has given me the perspective I think I always needed. For example, I have always been challenged at the holidays. Specifically, I think a lot about my body during this time of year and try to eat perfect, workout as I should, and am constantly judging my body, the workouts, the things I eat, etc. It is as thought I have never been good enough and I think, if I can just lose ten pounds or get that job or, fill in the blank, I will be happy. Next Christmas I will be more fit and have my shit together and I will enjoy it better...and this year just get through it. 

What did I finally lock in this last year, in particular the last couple months of being very challenged? That we are always going to be striving for the next thing. But what if being grateful for what is, is exactly what I need to find the joy, peace and self-love that is always there? And to be honest, I tried it this year. WE didn't have it together at Christmas this year (but somehow pulled it off), I had to make my own special food, I wasn't feeling awesome sometimes, etc., but this year I actually felt the magic of the holidays. It was as though instead of me striving for that extra ten pounds to be gone, or to be more organized or other things I just said, well, this is where I am and darn it, I am blessed. 

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From an eating-disorder perspective, I am on a very restrictive diet that has challenged me in many ways. However, finally I realize that I must embrace the process of the food that will help me to heal. I would be lying if it doesn't come back some times, but I know that I have to surrender to simply being the best version of me and trusting the process of healing. What keeps me going even more was the self-love meditation we did last spring when Rod Stryker was in town and I felt a self-love that is already there. Wow was that powerful and when I start to struggle I realize that. And I think, why do I have to wait to be happy and feel good about me? And then I come back to my true nature. 

And as a mom, well, I realize that breathing more will be a HUGE win for me in 2018. I didn't realize until recently that being a mom made me do a lot of inhales. Or as my daughter's teacher reminds us of the Zones of Regulation. I am pretty sure I am in the green zone a lot less than I should. And knowing what I know now, being stressed and inhaling too often has depleted me so much that I think has contributed to my sickness. I know I am depleted and I need to nourish and fill up this year. I am excited to share more about how I am doing that with my own yoga practice in 2018. I know that we deserve to feel better, that it all matters, and that I can keep healing and thrive. 

So I will close with that. My intention is to bring forth a deeper level of commitment to life by being my best version of me. I will stand in my truth and find love, faith and surrender each and every day. I will honor that each day will be different and that I cannot control life, but can control how I react to it. And finally, I am going to be more focused and intentional in where I give my time. I get excited about all sorts of ideas and things that require my time, but there are only 24-hours in a day. 

I am excited to be focused, loving, open, adaptable, and grateful. I am blessed with an abundance of support and love and cannot wait to enjoy the people that I am so lucky to love and that love me back. 

What are you doing today, this week, this month and where do you want your attention to go? (used to say...what are you doing this New Year to reflect and where do you want your attention to go?"). You intentions don't have to be cheesy at all. What matters is that we understand each day is a new day, regardless of it is Jan 1. or Feb. 19, or clearly March 6. Each day matters, each thought matters, each action matters, and YOU matter. 

Take good care. 

In love and so much gratitude,

Kristin

You DESERVE to feel better!

As women, we all want to FEEL good, and deserve to feel good. 

I frequent various locker rooms at gyms or lobbies of yoga studios and I often here things such as, "I need a shift." Or "I need a reset." Women will say something like, "I feel off or not like myself anymore." I can hear the simplest desires to "just lose a few pounds" Or "I just told my husband I need to eat healthier." What is this all about? You could say this is something coming from a sense of how we "should look" but I'm convinced these comments are all at the core of the same problem: we ALL want to FEEL GOOD. And when we are out of balance, including not eating the right foods, sleeping, drinking too much or exercising too much or the wrong balance for us, we don't feel well. This shows up for us often in weight, energy, hormones, exhaustion and more. 

However, at the core of it all we know we can be shinier and the best version of ourselves and thus we talk about it with our friends. So many of us want to change or want to feel better, but why are so many of us struggling? I believe it is at the heart of why I practice and teach yoga. I believe that once we get out of balance or deal with a life transition, what worked before might not be working again and might not be the best. We ALL need a little support and guidance and that is where I would LOVE to come in and support you. 

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My Personal Experience - Why I want and know I can feel better

My story has many layers, many experiences of ups and downs. I will attempt to keep it short and sweet. As a kid, I struggled with various health issues such as yeast infections as early as two-years old and eczema by fifth grade and psoriasis by middle school. I was a bigger kid and developed early. I was one of the biggest girls in sixth grade and felt very different. However, once I started to hear about the "fat-free" approach of dieting I was sold. In eighth grade I started being more active physically and controlling my total intake of fat. Looking back I know this was definitely the start of my disordered-eating patterns. It didn't take long and I lost 20+ pounds, ending middle school a bit more active.

Fast forward to high school, I had a great time being involved with volleyball, track, choir and church groups. It was an amazing time, but I continued to struggle a bit with yeast infections and on and off body-image issues. Following high school I was off to college and my active participation in volleyball and track and school helped me stay busy and connected.

I always operated under the truth that if I didn't work out I wasn't okay. Thus, that was a huge focus of my days. I would wake up early and sacrifice sleep just so that I would get my workouts in. I also was mindful of my choices of eating because I knew it all mattered. And luckily, at this time in my life, making healthier choices actually meant feeling better. The pressure I put on myself got to be a too much by the end of my senior year and the food issues came up pretty strong. My dear friend brought it up to me, suggesting that I get help. 

I am thankful for that day; after graduating college I went to the Eating Disorder Institute. I gained knew knowledge of food and how it can be balanced and free when you make your own rules. You can have dessert and be okay. You can eat various foods, including fat, and be okay! 

One incredible discovery on this journey was taking two months off from working out. My eyeballs fell out of my head when my nutritionist encouraged this experiment. I thought "f that" when she first brought it up. However, the trust I had with her was enough to give it a try. It helped that I was swamped with my student teaching, leaving me with less time to workout. What happened was crazy; I actually was stable and even lost a couple pounds. I am sure I lost a bit of muscle, but the most amazing part of it all was my physical activity changed dramatically and I ate the SAME amount of food that I was when I was swimming for 75-minutes or running 9 miles. It was fascinating. Obviously, if I continued this over time, the amount of food I would require to maintain my weight could decrease. But, it was PROOF to me that taking a day or two or even a week off when sick/tired is necessary. The bonus: I was still OKAY at the end of those days. Laura, if you are out there reading this, thank you for the gift you gave me that still lives in me. 

Life was fairly stable in my young 20's after this treatment. I still battled with my psoriasis and reminders some days that eating was okay and taking days off was okay. But in the grand scheme of things, life was good. I was in a successful job, falling more and more in love with my now husband of twelve years and living a very simple and blessed life. 

Motherhood was the next chapter in my life. I had my first baby seven and a half years ago and my second baby four years ago. Lucky for my babies I gave them lots of love and attention, not letting them cry much, rocking them a ton and nursing a lot. My poor sweet girl (7.5) was a very fussy and challenging baby. Not lucky for me, sleep was a memory. When I went back to work it got even worse.

About a year after having my first baby the digestive issues started. Over the past seven years I have been battling my gut health. I am pretty sure the trigger for the turnaround of my micro-biome (gut health) was the intense prescription I took for my mastitis. Unfortunately I had it pretty bad and I didn't see any alternative. It only took a couple months for me to notice something wasn't right with my stomach. I have had countless appointments with doctors, nutritionists, acupuncturist, more doctors, etc. I then got Giardia when my son was a year old. After taking the anti-parasitic my eating disorder flared up, partly because I had lost so much weight I was afraid to eat. And partly because I think my gut was destroyed by the anti-parasitic. My post-partum depression/anxiety kicked up in a big way during this time as well. I was actually doing fairly good prior so I often wonder if the gut change had a huge impact on my mind. The symptoms showed up for me in my eating disorder. I was also trying to follow a very restricted diet to heal my gut and food sensitivities. 

I rose above from that tough time through the support of my friends and family and amazing professionals. However, I continue to struggle with knowing what foods make me feel good. This stress is real. To the point where, this summer I took the plunge and tested for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). The results came back with a positive result for both methane and hydrogen. Apparently I have a pretty bad case of it.  I am on day 25 of my healing protocol and this morning I told my daughter, "I want to give up." My daughter exclaimed, "mom, why would you want to do that?" I think it is mainly because I still don't feel awesome. The biggest challenge is the continued bloating and the crazy cravings for food. 

You know those moments when people say they try something and the first couple weeks are hard, but the they felt amazing!?? Well, that is where it stops for me. When will I feel amazing? What am I missing? I think for me it is patience but there is much more and darn it, I know I can get to the other side. I just know. 

So what do I do now? Knowing what I know, my micro-biome is not working yet. We are trying to get it back to where it needs and when it isn't there, I am not able to "listen to my body." I must trust the process. I must start to get MORE REST. I must start to follow the yoga practice that will begin to nourish me. I must drink more water. And I have to simplify and say no to a lot. I am depleted and not only is my gut health challenged, my hormones have been off because of all it. The first priority is the healing of the SIBO, but at the same time I can work on my mental health to get strong and get through this hard part of my life. I know I will not give up and will keep going. It is critical to my health and getting to the other side of actually feeling good. 

I will see my healing as a journey of honoring exactly where I am at, asking for the support I need, and doing everything I can to get myself in balance. I know my days might look a little different some of the time, but small changes might make all the difference.

I am not alone in my challenge of NOT feeling good, and that is where YOU come in

First of all, YOU matter. Your journey matters. Your feelings, experiences, desires, and truth ALL matter. You are doing an awesome job each day showing up as best as you can. But, I know something more. I know that you DESERVE to feel better. I know that for me, I cannot do this healing journey and simply living & loving alone. I know my journey of challenge is here to get stronger, but more important to be a charge of change for women. 

I know that YOU can feel better. I know that incorporating small changes can make a BIG difference. It ALL matters and I want to support YOU. 

I also know that I am not alone and cannot do this alone. And I know that my journey of challenge is here to share and support other women to be heard, helped and eventually to thrive. It is my heart's desire to help women feel better! Sometimes it feels overwhelming, and I totally get that. But taking action with little changes and helping get YOU in balance is the KEY to feeling better. 

Be Curious - ALL things matter. 

I know that it is ALL the things that matter. It isn't a simple equation, but it ALL Matters matters.

  • What we eat
  • How we breathe
  • How we rest
  • What exercise we do (right now)
  • What products we use on our body and in our home to clean?
  • How we deal with a headache or a sore throat (advil or something more natural)?
  • How often do we look at our phone?
  • What do you do for your mental mind to quiet intellect and increase inner guide?
  • What are we doing to stay in balance?
  • Do you have a strong practice of gratitude?
  • Are you able and safe to speak your truth?
  • Are you connected and supported?
  • Are you allowed to feel and go through the process of letting go, feeling, and being heard?
  • Do you have the right professional support? I am talking any care that will help you in balance...hormones, physical body, etc. 

I truly believe it is impossible to move forward if we are not supported as a WHOLE person. From my own perspective, I am tired of staying quiet until I shout to the world, "I am healed!" This is not reality and honestly, we are every changing human beings. 

Thus, I believe in all of my heart that you CAN feel better if you get curious. I also believe that if it is critical for us all to understand that what worked for us ten years ago might NOT be what we NEED right now. We are every changing and we must understand that we will feel the best when we are in balance. 

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do you beat yourself up when you skip a workout?
  • Do you feel challenged to actually "listen to your body?" 
  • Do you feel overwhelmed or lost as to getting on your path?  
  • Do you feel like everyone else has it figured out but you?
  • Do you find your internal dialogue is mostly critical and dismissive?
  • Are you feeling stuck?
  • Do you want peace and harmony between you and you?
  • Do you avoid going to a yoga class because you are a beginner?
  • Do you doubt your inner guide and ability to trust your instincts?
  • Do you need clarity in your life?
  • Do you want to feel better?
  • Do you need a little support to help you build inner-confidence and self love?
  • Do you have a gratitude practice?
  • Do you know how to shift your energy when you are feeling stuck.

If any of these are YES, I have something for you!

Private Wellness Sessions

I offer private wellness sessions that help you to tap into what you need to get back in balance and start listening to what you need. My approach is simple, I help you bring in a sense of curiosity and love as you look at small changes you can make to your life to feel better. I will help you create a personal "practice" for you that helps you make shifts to FEELING better. It IS possible and you do NOT have to do it alone. (Note: often times the "practice" for you doesn't even include any yoga poses. It truly is up to YOU and what works best for you. I call this "living your yoga.")

Thus, my approach to your own well-being and feeling amazing comes from within. No Rules for you or anyone! There is not one way to feel good and there is not one way to live and thrive. However, there are many choices that add up that will serve YOU the best. And my friends, this isn't the same formula for you as it is for me. The BEST thing that I can do to support you is to uncover that badass within that knows you can do anything when you are in balance and alignment. When you connect to this knowledge you have the power to create the life you want. The attitude you start each day with and the ability to show up for you in little and big ways adds up. 

Additionally, I offer workshops that go deeper into tapping into the self-love that is already there, connecting to your inner guide and "knowing" and cleaning up your life to help you have the best shot at thriving.

Finally, I know that my own healing journey has taken various professionals to help support me depending on my challenge (whether it be hormones, eating-disorder issues, and gut-health). I LOVE to provide you with amazing resources that will help support YOU on your journey. You are worth it and I am here for YOU!!

Does this resonate with you? If it does I would LOVE to work with you.

If you are curious let's talk. I offer a free 15-minute consult to see if what I have to offer is something that would work well for you. I can do it either virtually or in person, depending on your schedule, location and availability. Schedule it now by emailing me at noruleswellness@gmail.com or go to the contact me page. 

You DESERVE to feel better and you do NOT need to do it alone. 

In so much love and gratitude,

Kristin

Back-to-School 2017: Embrace Your Feelings; Honor The Now

As I sit here in the quiet of the house, my son is napping and my daughter is at her first-day of second grade. Why is my heart so heavy with mixed emotions? I don't think my lady hormones are helping me much, but my heart truly feels so full of emotions. For me, I am always planning or thinking about what next that I often miss out on the now. This summer I decided to abort a lot of planning. My lists were very few and usually lasted about five minutes before I lost them or they got shoved in my back pocket or sribbled on. This was the summer of FUN and just allowing. 

I had a lot of adult celebrations with amazing wedding celebrations, 15-year college reunion and more. But in the midst of the crazy we squeezed in summer fun. I am talking small things like walks to the library (for the record we only went twice), quick neighborhood swims before teaching yoga or just being together while little brother was napping. It was something I will not ever forget. I can see her smile and hear your sarcastic jokes at lunch while the construction is so loud my annoyance level was up...saying "wow, this lunch is SOOOO relaxing!" Oh man, her light and sense of humor kept me going. Don't get me wrong there were many moments of crazy and me ignoring them or sibling fighting. However, when I reflect of course I sift through all of that. Similar to child birth and our distorted memory of it all. :) 

This summer I knew that I was behind on everything. in fact, early July my website went down because of technical issue that for most is a five-minute fix. After trying to consequctive mornings with the help desk I decided to abort and just enjoy the various "fun" we had on the schedule. If I felt called to write I would, but it didn't matter because what was in front of me mattered more. I did find time for me in small and big ways this summer and for that I am grateful. But some of my favorite memories involved my sweet second grader, just the two of us. Like the below picture where we came up with a no-bake cookie recipe for our kid's cookbook we are working on (slowly of course).

summer kitchen creations!

summer kitchen creations!

So today I just sit. I sit with my emotions as mama. As a torn mama, a woman that is on the fence about what my role should be as mom and professional. A journey I am developing as I sit. I am not sure what the future holds, how the days will flow, or how it will all work. However, I know what is the MOST important to me right now? Me. My self love. Time for me to feel how I feel and process all of the feels. What is most important is NOT knowing but allowing me to not know. What is is most important is my big learning about what self love is. I realize that none of it matters, not work, not alone time with the kids or family time or date time or a successful career or organized house or a website that is up and running if I don't love myself first. If I don't have faith in life first. If I don't let go of ALL of those things I cannot control, included in that today are my feelings and my lack of clearly knowing much of anything but that my heart is FULL. I am not perfect and have a long way to go as I show up in this life as a human.

Summer sunset fun!

Summer sunset fun!

Even though I know I am not perfect, I know that my little ones (second grader and preschool boy) won't wait for me to figure it out. They are watching me NOW. They are watching if I am complaining or being positive. They are watching me turn a crappy day around and bring back the joy that we all so deserve in all the days. They are watching me be kind to the slowest cashier in the history of Target. Why? Because I am their role model. Isn't that how it works? And yes, I know I have not been perfect (oh are there stories), but I know that because of the abundant amount of life lessons these little humans have taught me, I CAN and WILL and MUST keep going. I must show up and love myself enough to pause and feel and know that deep breaths, relaxed shoulders and looking these little ones in the eyes is a lot of what my job is. 

I will hug them and make lunches for them and yes, I will make them put their stuff away. I sometimes wonder how that will happen, but I will NOT give up on any of it. I will raise kind and responsible and loving humans because they are already so far ahead of what I could have imagined such small people could be. Through the honor of being mom it has become very clear to me that a lot is so innate. We are good. We are Love. And all of that light and potential lives in us the moment we take our first breath. Yes, I am a role model and a guide, but that personality is not taught and that light is what makes the world go round. So today I simply say, thank you for letting me be your mama. And thank you yoga and family and sometimes wine at 3 p.m. to help remind me to let myself feel so the days you come home sad or scared or mad I don't make you push it away and I sit with you and "let you feel!" 

Whatever your emotions are...allow the feels. Allow yourself to not know, but at the same time know that you are okay right now. Look around. Take a breath. Go to bed early. Take a bath. And just be okay with right now. No matter your feel, you let it roll off you like "water off a ducks back." Life is a little bit easier when we allow ourselves to flow with feelings and flow with life. 

Sending all you mamas and dads and caretakers LOVE and more LOVE on this day of transition (or coming transition). I couldn't quite get out of bed snuggling my son at nap today because I know some day he won't want snuggles from me so then I just stayed a little longer today. Why? Why not.

Namaste and love to y'all!

Kristin 

What to eat - This path is different for all of us

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As I sit here after teaching yoga this morning I have organic peanut butter brown rice toast (with a little of the kiddos strawberry jelly) and a half-caffeinated americano made by my lovely Nespresso. My son asked me yesterday, "why do you always have toast for breakfast?" The truth is the reason why my breakfast is either a piece of toast or a smoothie is because toast is safe. I know that it won't upset my stomach like most other foods. It also feels like food vs a smoothie to me. But in reality, his question made me think..."Why do I choose what I do to eat?" From a behavioral perspective we know that our feelings trigger our thoughts and then quickly move to our actions (choices). So it makes me be very curious as to WHY I have been choosing to eat what I have. 

We need food to survive and it is innate to nourish our bodies, yet we are bombared with so much information on what IS good to eat vs. Bad to eat. This isn't the way it will ever work in my mind. I don't believe that food is good or bad, but I do believe food can give us information on how it nourishes or doesn't nourish our body. Think back to a time when you at something fast or quick that you don't normally eat or the time that you didn't eat enough or the right things (think eating chips or a protein bar on the run to the next event or kiddo drop-off). How did you feel after? Usually our bodies will give us the information we need. We feel bloated, tired, and just bleh. Thank you bodies for this information. Even when I do my daily dinachrya (daily ritual) of tongue scraping I notice more kama (waste) on my tongue when it is less plant based and more heavy foods. Gross I know, but again, fascinating that our bodies tell us. 

That is a simple look at how you can start to listen and make your best decisions on what makes you feel good. What if you threw out all of the articles you read and just started to let you intuition guide you on what to eat and what not to eat? What if you stopped judging your choices and allowed your choices to be information that will serve you on your food choices to nourishes you? You CAN have the entire bag of chips or you CAN have all the chocolate in the world, but do you really want to? Do you ever notice the connection in the arena of food regarding wanting what you can't have? I know I have because I have had (and still have) many restrictions that I get so frustrated and fed up that I do the "f-it diet!" I get so pissed that I cannot have raw veggies and hummus and I jam out to organic carrots and hummus and twenty minutes later my belly bloats and it looks like I am 6-months pregnant. Or I will eat a protein bar with the first ingredient as brown rice syrup because a) I am hungry b) I am not sure when I will eat next c) I know it won't give me gas or belly bloat, even though I know it is the opposite of nourishing me. 

So why am I sharing all of this? I think because it is top of mind for me because of my recent stomach symptoms. My stomach hurts basically all of the time lately and my digestive track is proving to not be working (if you know what I mean without giving out too many details). It is not fun at all and I am left wondering what the heck to eat. 

Here is what I think doesn't bother my stomach/my "safe" foods

  • Brown rice (small amounts or 1-2 pieces of the bread)
  • White rice (again, a very small portion)
  • Oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil.
  • Avocados (man I don't know what I would do without this one)
  • Sunflower seeds (and butter)
  • Organic peanut butter
  • Coconut in small amounts
  • Hemp seeds in small amounts
  • Flax seed
  • Chicken, Poultry, and grass-fed beef, bison, white fish
  • Lentils (seem okay, especially if I cook with kombu seaweed)
  • Green veggies: Romaine, iceberg lettuce, bok choy, fennel, 
  • Butternut squash, all varieties of squash if eaten in moderate amounts
  • potatoes (if eaten in small amounts). Not sure if they cause inflammation pain, but they don't upset my stomach. Again, do you see the questioning even here?
  • Buckwheat
  • Possibly Wild Rice (still need to try; it's been a while)
  • Herbs of all kinds (amen)
  • Tamari Sauce, coconut amino
  • Collagen and bone broth protein
  • Low-glycemic fruit (blueberries and raspberries)

List of what I think DOES bother my stomach/My "AVOID" foods

  • Nuts, of all kinds
  • legumes of all kinds (except peanut butter as the exception I think)
  • nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, except for me potatoes seem okay)
  • Any gluten grains are a no-go
  • Oats of any kind (including the gluten-free kind)
  • Quinoa
  • Raw veggies (except for cucumber)
  • corn - wow this one is the WORST. Even organic corn. Or maybe it is corn chips...eek! ;)
  • Raw mixed greens, anything more than a little can wreak havoc on my gut
  • Eggs
  • Dairy of any kind
  • Salmon 
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Soy 
  • All proteins that include whey or anything other than collagen or bone broth protein
  • Sweeteners: stevia, maple syrup, honey and all sugars.
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Most fruit, especially apples, bananas, and all dried fruit

Looking this list you can see that my main "safe" foods are proteins, green and non-starchy veggies, some squash, and rasberries and blueberries. I honestly get so tired of trying to cook for me and my family combined because I feel like I am not even sure where to start. They love tacos, but most of all of the taco meal makes me feel so sick (heartburn b/c of the nightshades and bloat because of the corn or even the rice). And the list goes on and on. You know how picky your kiddos are? 

And how about when I go out? I am just coming off a couple of VERY social weekends with a bachelorette party and a college reunion. I notice I think A LOT more about food because I think my mind is seriously concerned that I will NOT get to eat. Honestly I wonder if I am going to starve. I understand that this seems ridiculous, but sometimes it is so hard to eat anything that I don't eat anything and then by the time I get to the food I bring my stomach already hurts. It is so challenging to even figure out what I can bring that might make sense because I barely know what to eat at home. 

My point in all of this isn't to complain, but more to illustrate that food sensitivities and food restrictions happen because of ALL reasons. For me, my stomach hasn't been the same since I had my daughter seven years ago. I took a strong does of antibiotics because of mastitis (breast infection) and then after my son I still remember my midwife helping support my gut healing and when I left her office in June of 2011 we decided to cook and/or blend all of my food. Yuck right? I am talking it is summer time so how easy is that. Following a couple months of summer soups and smoothies (and some tears) I my son and I then caught Guardia. I was SO sick and couldn't eat or keep anything in me. Eventually three weeks later we figured it out and I took an anti-parasitic. Needless to say that was a lot and of course disrupted my gut even more (and my mental state of food-body connection). 

I am a yoga teacher and have learned a lot about Ayurveda (the sister science to yoga) and in Ayurveda they say to eat with the seasons. In theory this makes perfect sense to me. However, in practice, I am challenged to follow anything that keeps me in balance or is guided by anything like Ayurveda, etc. I feel limited in my choice and completed blinded in my bodies ability to LISTEN. It is almost like the disruption of my digestion plus my out-of-balance hormones (I won't even get into those) have given me a muffled clarity of how to "listen to my body." I referenced my challenge to people telling me/others to "listen to our bodies" in this blog post! And it definitely still comes up.

In fact, after my son's comment I started to be very curious on what is my driving force behind my food choices. I will be honest that it is two-fold: The first is that I want to eat foods that DON'T make me sick. It is almost more of a focus of that vs. what I would LOVE it to be: nourish my body. The second is that, even though I hate to admit it, what foods will help me shed this extra pounds. Because I feel frustrated that I don't feel good, one of the results of being out of balance is having extra belly fat, being bloated and just not feeling like myself physically. Thus, it is impossible for me NOT to think of this. So of course I am wondering why I get so hungry sometimes I eat things that don't make me feel good. I subconsciously try to eat "just the right amount" or the "right things" so that I can keep participating in life events and have fun AND start to fit into my clothes and not feel like am pregnant half of the time. I promise you, there is of course the part of me that wants to be as fit as I was in my 20's, but even more, I am so tired of it feeling like there is someone inside my belly pushing my belly out. It seriously hurts.

And then there is the doubt of if my body will every heal or get better? Then the spinning of the mind tells me a story that "my body must be defective" or "I will always have a sensitive stomach." or....or...or....

IMG_9525.jpg

I know my eating challenges definitely were triggered when ALL of the food sensitivities and thus food restrictions happened. When I struggled with my eating disorder in middle school and then the end of college/beginning of real life I had a VERY long list of "safe" foods vs. "unsafe" foods. I felt trapped in my "rules" and had zero trust in the innate knowledge and wisdom in my body. With a lot of time and work with a psychologist and nutritionist I was able to prove to myself that I was OKAY without working out and OKAY lifting ALL restrictions in my body. I still had to be mindful with dairy (as I did my entire life), but I was able to eat whatever. I found a freedom that I cannot explain. The ironic thing that happened was that I was drawn to actually eat healthier, to enjoy life more, to allow for freedom of veering off of the healthy foods on occasion and flow with life. It was such an amazing process to follow. I so deeply wish I could be in the space right now. I have attempted to say to my mind "you can eat anything, it is just the quality of the mind." However, this attempt is not successful. When I do eat whatever I often pay the price and suffer with stomach pain, bloating and other symptoms. Perhaps the symptoms I am having is my bodies widsom telling me something isn't right with feeling like this for so many common foods.  

So what does my inner guide say?

  • Sleep is my number one
  • Deep belly breaths is my next priority
  • Cooking/blending my food could help?
  • Creating a meal plan and already cooked/prepped food so I don't jam out on chips or hummus or protein bars,
  • Yoga/meditation practice daily
  • Writing helps me to process
  • Gratitude for my journey so that hopefully I WILL fill better and possibly my story WILL help someone else
  • Smiling helps everything!
  • Digging deeper into why I don't feel well might be a good idea

There are so many blogs out there and stories about how "I did X protocol and now I am healed." I am so glad there are so many that have found health in his/her journey. However, I am here to stay I am still in the thick of getting through the healing of my gut, my attachment to even having a list of foods at all, and more. I am healing and some days it feels hard. Some days I feel sad or angry or confused. I used to LOVE to cook and now I hate grocery shopping and cooking. 

That is my current state, but my hope is that by sharing my journey and exactly where I am at I can grow and show up in this place of challenge of nourishing my body with food. As much as I say it is "hard to listen to my body." I think that by pausing and reflecting I will continue to know what is helping and what is not. I honor that it is a process and lean into those that support me to keep cheering me on. Because honestly what would we do without each other? 

I know that my challenges are SO incredibly small compared to a lot of people and their health. But I share today because although it is small it does impact the quality of my life. it does bring up old body-image issues and defective thoughts. And then I remember, our bodies are meant to heal and the quality of our belief in this and mindsets matter a lot. 

In closing I ask you to start being curious on if you are truly listening to what makes you feel good when it comes to the nutrition department? Do you follow a list of what is a yes/no food or think too much about it? Or are you curious and kind to yourself?  Could have more energy? Could eat more vegetables? Are you really drinking enough water or eating the foods that keep you in balance? The curiosity and awareness will continue to be a gift to you as you learn and grow each day. And perhaps this is irrelevant to you in the food department, you are truly connected and need nothing more. Then I challenge you to ask yourself, 'is there a different place in my life that I could start to listen more?' 

Thank you for supporting me on my healing journey. It feels good to be writing again. Let's stick together my friends and keep showing up in life. 

Happy Listening; Happy Digestion!!!

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin

Opening up: Self-Love Poem and Birthday Reflections

Another trip around the sun does this to me each year; I have a longing to reflect and think about where I have been and where I want to go. With so much emotionally happening in the world around us it is clear that life truly is a gift. It is something that Doug Melroe has been shouting into a microphone as I dance around the studio at The Firm (my first experiences was at 22; I am due to dance around soon)! Fourteen plus years later those words are louder than ever in my head and heart. (note: I worked at the Firm from 2003 until recently and this message is loud and clear in my bones, and a big reason is because of those Saturday morning classes and the passion that Doug fills that space with). 

Ironically, I just completed a yoga training with Rod Stryker (in March) on the lotus of the heart and we left with three very important contemplations that have continued to resonate in my heart and soul: 

Life is a Gift
Life is Beautiful
I am part of the Divine

And no matter where you stand on the above words/contemplation, my take-away guided by Yogarupa: my life is better when I think this way. Why wouldn't I want to accept in all of me those words if it makes everything better? When I live my life living by these three phrases, my thoughts, speech and actions embrace the now and are significantly less about my accomplishments or my next anything. We live in a world of constant distractions of a million topics and items. Just the smart phone alone interrupts our life and mind in a way that 20 years ago we couldn't even imagine. In fact, I recall being on a train during my study-abroad trip in Australia in 2001 and I saw a teenager on her cell phone (and many more). It felt so odd for her to be talking on a phone on a train while life was happening. I remember thinking: "what is so important that she has to talk on the phone on the train now?" 

Fast forward to 2017 and the smart phone is so important that even teachers, in most schools, have zero control over whether a student is on his/her phone. How is that even possible? How can we expect the future of America to learn when their brain is interrupted so many times? I have seen this first-hand as I have had the opportunity to teach yoga at a local high school. Of course this got me fired up and I started having conversations with fellow school teachers. I quickly learned this particular school is NOT an anomaly, rather phones and students is the norm and a big problem.

My point in this all: if ever there was ever a time when it is vital that we find a way to remove ourselves from these many distractions and find our inner peace, now would be that time. For many of us what is happening in the world has disturbed us on a level that is incomprehensible. One that recently hits home to me is the loss of an amazing man and former trainer at the Firm. Since the tragic shooting in Miami that killed Mario Hortis (click here for obituary). It makes me sick that stories like this are in and out of the news so fast it is barely noticed. How can this be? I still remember exactly where I was when the Colombine High School shootings happened in 1999. It was a BIG deal and it should be. How are things like public shootings of ANY KIND acceptable??? When did this happen? Everytown for Gun Safety is something that I follow and support (here is more about Everytown and some data on school shootings)

And to not go off too much on any sort of a rant I will say that of course most of us know that this is not right but I still question how is this the norm? Obviously getting to the bottom of gun violence or any other political issues is not the intention or place of my writing. However, it is impossible not to feel the heartache and wonder, "what can I do?" I know that is what I ask myself. Again, since we are not talking actions that impact anything politically, what I will talk about today is ourselves. We are in charge of taking care of ourselves first! Getting to the bottom of any political issue is for another day and venue. However, what I can offer and what I do know is that peace and love live in our hearts always. Thus, there is no better time than right now to find moments in our lives to access that peace in our heart. From what I have experienced, it is that place in our hearts that is unchanging and that isn't seeking happiness but able to find peace and love right now. It sheds light on yourself as a 'seeer" and gives you a sense of perspective, faith that definitely won't come from watching too much news or grabbing your smart phone yet another time (myself included). Recently my teacher Rod Stryker wrote this on Facebook, "My teachers taught me that yoga was about peace; yoga was about transformation; yoga was about transforming oneself and one’s world..." I know that I can show up on my path and my yoga to transform me and the way I see the world and change starts within. 

Me feeling the "selfie Love" :) 

For me transforming me and the way I see the world is a huge part of what yoga has taught me. I was recently reminded of this when I read my notes from that weekend. After the last meditation on the heart I opened my eyes and started writing (as I typically like to reflect at these workshops). What happened was a beautiful poem that illustrated the power of what lies within: a true self-love and peace that isn't something you can buy in a store or on the phone, rather it is already there. 

As you know, I have battled a bit of self-love that has shown up in an eating disorder on and off in my life since I was in middle school. Most recently I am struggling with trying to heal my hormones, and in particular manage my gut health, psoriasis, and weight in unwanted places. Is it that big of a deal? Not always, but sometimes I feel like I am trying so hard to heal and feel better, fit into clothes, not yell at my kiddos, etc, and it isn't enough. I feel like I am for sure failing and I want to say, "f@$# it!" and give up. But that is NOT an option. Each time I am in that place, those closest to me remind me to keep going or my practice or even the memory of my practice remains in me. And I know, the answer is..NO WAY; I cannot give up.

So in closing I want to share with you this deep place of self-love that simply showed up to me after a meditation in practice. I share this with you, at this significant time around my birthday, to honor these words that are so true. I share this with you because thinking of what I want in the next year to come is to LIVE these words. To actually feel this self love that is at my core always. I don't want to feel like I have to try so hard but to simply stand tall in my being. No matter where I am on my journey or if things are going exactly as I would like them (or not), I WILL STAND TALL! Because again, life is a gift, life is beautiful and I am part of the divine. 

Poem: Self-Love, the true self love that is already there

Ah...my imperfections are to be loved as much as my ability to love is...

To Love it ALL brings peace

To Love it all brings immediate forgiveness to being human

To love it all brings a sense of "I am doing my best." 

To love it all means loving me now...

...not the self-love that I've been trying to achieve/feel, but the self love, the love of the divine, that is already there. 

~Kristin Gourde, 3.19.2017

After that day of meditation, something was different in me. My meditation reflection in addition to this poem writes, "meditation felt like me...like less of trying to feel something and more of a being." I also remember a sort of pulsing of my heart. It is something I have never experienced, but I know tapping into my heart is where I want to keep going to remember how that felt. 

And after that day, even on the bad days, my heart feels lighter with this sense of knowing. And my confidence, faith, and knowing is growing. My ability to adapt is too. I am grateful for that day and grateful for the opportunity to share. 

Your action? Love YOU! Honor YOU, even if you don't feel it or believe it, that sense of knowing that your self-love and simply 'being you' always lives within. You are loved.

Thank you for reading. Thank you to all of my teachers. And thank you for showing up for you in this crazy and beautiful life!

Namaste, Gratitude, and Love beautiful people,

Kristin

How I got started with Young Living Essential Oils

My Essential Oil Journey All Started When...

My beautiful sister dropped off a variety of essential oil samples at my doorstep about six years ago when my little girl was sick. I was clueless at what she was even talking about or how these essential oils would help. If I remember correctly we were dealing with some fall virus that was not going away--you know the high fever, baby that doesn't sleep, that cannot breathe and doesn't eat very well, and of course the parents that aren't sleeping because of it all? Not to mention the worry of wondering if the sickness will this ever end. Once you are a couple days in with sleep deprivation and worries high, it doesn't take much to wonder if your kid is ever going to get better and if you will ever sleep (or have any fun again). 

My first introduction to essential oils that night and each subsequent time my sister would drop off a new batch of essential-oil samples when someone was sick at my house I began to quickly notice the benefits. And each time I became less skeptical and more interested. I finally bought my first kit three years later from Young Living shortly before my son was born; you can say that I have never looked back. 

Personal Stories: How Young Living Products have positively impacted my life 

Avoiding Antibiotics and full-blown mastitis

One story that I think of vividly was shortly after my son was born. He was about 4-weeks old and I thought I was on top of the world and likely pushed myself too hard; I was doing too much too soon for my healing. The good old plugged breast duct was happening in my world and I was very familiar with this now after having a bad case of mastitis with my daughter around the exact age (in fact it was my birthday and I was VERY sick). The doctors of course put me on very strong antibiotics and it helped a lot, but the quality of my health and new-found food sensitivities and gut health did not serve me well. In fact, about seven years later I am still on the quest to heal my gut from that batch of antibiotics (and likely others from when I was young). 

So what is the point of this long-winded story? Well, as soon as I had symptoms this time I decided I am going to beat this naturally. What did I do? I used hot packs and went back and forth between Lavender and Oregano to try to kill any infection in there. Perhaps Oregano was too strong and contraindicated (I am actually not sure), but I figured for the health of my overall body and sanity I MUST AVOID a full-blown infection and antibiotics. Additionally, I pumped up my probiotics, took sunflower lecithin and more vitamin D. I also increased my water and tried to feed more, especially on the troubled side. Oh, and let's not forget the feeding the baby essentially up-side down in order to get the side of the breast to open up (there is something about where the chin is in relation to the plugged duct). Anyway, I think of this story often because with the combination of all of the remedies, including the essential oils I was able to get through it and not need antibiotics. And this story is just one of the many times myself or my kiddos have avoided taking antibiotics because of the essential oils.

Kicking a 5-day plus fever with my 2-year old

Last spring my son had a fever that would NOT go away and my sister, again, dropped off a bottle of Frankincense and I used it on him and thieves every 15-20 minutes. I am not joking I would set a time and I went at it. Disclaimer, I am not a doctor or am I suggesting HOW you use your essential oils, I am just sharing my own story. I will say that by morning his fever broke and we were looking better. I often notice the fever drops when I use Frankincense and I just LOVE this oil. 

Sanitizing for the win with Thieves Cleaner

This winter (both in December and February) we got hit with the stomach bug AND the influenza. I am sure some of you moms and dads know exactly what mode you get in when someone is throwing up at your house? Sanitize mode! That is right, you pull out the Lysol or Bleach and get after it. You don't want everyone else in the house to suffer and you are ready for it to be gone. That is exactly what I do, but ever since I was introduced to the Thieves Cleaner, I use that to sanitize everything! And this winter, somehow my daughter missed ALL of the sickness and I missed the influenza too. I was not so lucky with the barfs, but then you can't win them all right?? 

Thieves cough drops and my sore throats

Just two days ago I woke with a bad sore throat out of nowhere. Ever since I had mono in middle school a sore throat and swollen glands is my first symptom to know that I might be going down with a sickness. As soon as I woke I found my Thieves Cough Drops and my Thieves and Frankincense oils. I sucked a cough drop and lubed myself up where I had the pain and put Thieves on my feet to boost my immune system. Only a couple of hours later it was gone. Yippee. Of course had note taken care of myself and gotten good sleep that night you never know what my body would do, but the support of Thieves on this day helped me again, with a big WIN, avoiding the spring sickness.

In summary, I am passionate about Young Living essential oils because of how they have positively impacted my families health. From the time I was a little girl I have had health issues that were directly related to my gut health (unknown to my parents at the time). Being armed with various natural remedies empowers me each day to take care of me and know that I CAN heal in various ways. As I have mentioned I am healing my gut and deal with psoriasis (since I was in middle school). Additionally, I have numbness in my arms and hands sometimes with joint pain and various Young Living Oils have eased the suffering as well. 

Why Young Living

I truly believe that the quality of the oils and products I use matters. I believe 100% in the quality of Young Living's products. See their Seed to Seal video and mission statement below. 

What might you need in your life?

I share my stories with you because it inspires me to be empowered and take natural living up a notch in my life. Especially after I became a mom I began to think about every variable in our life that has an impact on the health of my children. Insert Young Living Products. I can avoid antibiotics, boost our immune system, boost our moods by diffusing, help with sleep, sanitize my house chemical free and more!

So I ask you this: Where in your life are you challenged or might need a boost? Here are a few specific questions you might ask yourself:

1. What is something that is hard for me in my life? For example, you may struggle having energy and it challenges your every-day living. Young Living has essential oils and products to support you on that.

2. What is one wellness goal that you have for you personally?

3. What is one thing you want to do to improve your family or your life? 

My Challenge For You

If you have been on the edge of thinking about trying an essential oil or  Young Living Product, don't wait! Look at the answers to your above questions and reach out to me to get samples. I LOVE LOVE LOVE sharing the products with you and what I know. I believe there is something for everyone. You won't be sorry for asking. I am here to support you and I I am a part of an amazing Young Living team that would also be an amazing resource for you should you decide to sign up and buy a kit.

If you are ready to buy a kit

If you are ready to buy a kit and dive right in click here.

Want to learn more?

Let me know what questions you have. I can be contacted at noruleswellness@gmail.com or my contact page.

It all Matters!

Here's to feeling better from the inside out!!

Your inner guide (dhi): Are you listening?

You know the "gut feeling" that people talk about? Well, that gut feeling is a real thing. I am sure I could pull millions of studies of why this inner voice that we all have inside is for real. However, I am not the researcher but rather one that likes to do these experiments in my own life. I am sure I will find the right study at some point, but today I want to share a little bit about your inner guide and simple steps to begin to access it.

I was recently chatting with my sister about our internal guide or intuition and explaining that we all have intuition that comes from our soul. I explained that we all hear it differently. The three most common places to hear/feel/see your inner guide (dhi in sanskrit) are: your third eye (the point between the eyebrows), your heart center (the center of your chest) or your navel center. Each and every one of us are different for how and where we access our dhi. The trick and key to it all: practice! Essentially, the more that you start to ask your inner guide what it is that you might need on a given day or moment (or in regards to a specific question), the more that you will start to recognize how you might hear this. Sometimes you might see a color or a feeling or hear words. For some the words are in the sound of their own voice and others it is a different voice. And then, as mentioned above, the location is typically one of three places (third eye, heart center, navel center).

Are you listening to what is in your best interest? Are you making decisions based on intellect alone or are you giving yourself and your soul a chance in the conversation each day? I know that this skill is an ongoing skill that I continue to develop; the best way that I can get better at it is to practice. When are the best times to practice? When you are learning this skill of listening to your intuition, the ideal environment is when your mind is quiet. We often jump from one thing to the next and our minds follow. We have busy minds, often referred to as monkey minds. The most simple way to calm and quiet your mind is focusing on the breath. Of course, even seasoned practitioners would say that when your mind is quiet, that is when you can truly access your inner guide. As a newer student to this (in the last four years) I would say those are the most powerful times I have accessed it. And your soul will not lie. It knows what you need, hands down. 

I want to share with you a simple meditation on the breath, using the technique of pure breathing. My intention is that you have something you can try today (or right now) that will help you begin to tap into that place of knowing. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am studying online with Rod Stryker through his Vinyasa Krama online training. I have learned so much and look forward to training with him when he comes to Minneapolis next week! During my recent studies I did a meditation that included the process of pure breathing! It was awesome. This simple meditation below uses this technique to help facilitate the quieting of your mind. I will then give you the simple process to connect to your inner guide. I learned this technique in Rod Stryker's Four Desire's book, one that I reference and use many days of my life. Giving credit where credit is due, if you want further detail on meditation or accessing your dhi (and more) pick up your copy today (and to be clear I am not sponsored to say this, I just love it!)

Let's do the meditation now (or take a picture/bookmark and do this when you wake or before bed...or anytime that works). 

5-10 minute Meditation on the breath accessing your intuition (dhi)

1. Sit tall, with your spine tall. You can prop yourself up on a bolster, pillow or block. Or if using a chair, get your low back to the back of the chair, upper back off of the back of the chair, feet planted firmly into the ground. Spine is tall (think crown of the head is over the spine). 

2. Once you find a comfortable seat, close your eyes and have the intention to relax your entire body: relax your face, jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, internal organs, belly, hips, legs and feet. Relax everything.

3. Bring your awareness to your breath. The first minute, simply watch the body breathe. You are not forcing or guiding the breath, just bring your awareness to the body breathing (awareness at the navel center). 

4. Have the intention to smooth out the breath and begin to guide the breath. Slow down the breath and breathe in and out as smooth as you can, without pause at the top of inhale or the bottom of exhale. The breath is silent and the the intention is the to stay calm as you breathe in and out. 

5. Continue the steady and smooth breath from step four (pure breathing) for 3-5 more minutes. As you do so, relax the body and be aware of any sensations happening in the body. Notice the connection to the quality of the breath and the quality of the mind. If your awareness wanders go back to the breath and do this with as little exertion as possible. 

6. After the mind has settled, you can continue the breathe longer, or when you are ready, move to connect to your intuition. First, give gratitude for your life and body. Second, make it known that you are not attached to any answers that will be given. And finally, when your mind is quiet, ask the question that you would like an answer for. When you do so, the answer will come fast and quick. You might hear something or feel something or see something. Again, if you do not get an answer that is okay, go back the breath until you are ready again to ask the question. Note: In Rod's step-by-step process he explains that it is good to start with easy questions that you already know the answer to. This way you begin to build trust in yourself and your inner voice. (Example could be: "should I yell at my kids?"). The second tip is that you must act on the answers that you are given. The more you do this the more your inner voice will be accessible to you. I can attest to that. 

7. Once you have gotten an answer or are ready to move, on, give gratitude for the answer and moment and go back to watching your body breathe for a few rounds. When you are ready to come out, deepen your inhale and exhale, rub your hands together back and forth to create warmth, cover your eyes with your hands gently, blink your eyes open with your hands covering your eyes, lower your chin and open your eyes slowly as you connect to where you are physically, and transition back into your day. It might feel good to keep this in a journal and begin to build that trust with your inner guide. You might surprise surprised yourself as you start to observe. 

The above is how I started to access my own intuition and how I built trust to what my inner guide sounds like for me. Of course it is in the sound of my own voice, my husband would laugh at that because he knows I can be a bit talkative at times. Perhaps it is a small form of torture to hear my own voice as my guide or on a positive note, it might be a sneaky way for me to build trust in me, Kristin, and exactly who I am and where I am supposed to be. I think it is the latter in my own situation and for that I am grateful. 

Have I convinced you yet to try this short and powerful meditation? Have you ordered your Four Desires book yet? All of this is explained and so much more in his book. And the bottom line, you have access to this voice even when you are not in meditation or sitting quietly. In fact, the more you access it, the more that you hear it. 

Why did I choose to write about this today? I was on my way to the gym for a workout (hoping for a long sauna, stretching, shower) because I have had very little self care in the last month with both my boys (hubby and son) battling the influenza (the second round with my little man included lots of barfs). Yuck. It seemed logical that is what I needed. However, as I was driving away from school drop-off my inner voice said, "go home!" Darn it! I wanted that hot sauna, but somehow I knew I had to turn back home. I am not sure why, perhaps I know I have a lot to prepare for coming classes, workshop, etc. Maybe my intuition knew that since I am fighting a cold going to a gym wouldn't be the best answer for this moment. 

I will leave you with that. What are you doing to connect to your inner guide? Are you listening? And when you don't listen and then the next day you kick yourself, remind yourself that those moments of not listening are there to serve you and to help you listen. And when you do listen, stand tall and know you are doing what you KNOW is in your best interest. That my friends is a gift we all have and my hope is that we can all pause enough to start learning and connecting to it. The more we connect to our soul, the brighter we will be, because your soul will always know what you need to do (insert chills down my back). 

Thank you to all of my teachers, especially Yogarupa Rod Stryker, Tanya Boigenzahn (owner of Devanadi School of Yoga and Wellness) and Jessica Rosenberg. You all have inspired me to listen to my intuition and come to that place of knowing. 

Off I go to find a little quiet in my life so I know the order of my prepping and what is going to serve me best today. Please let me know if you have any questions or how it goes. I am sure some of you are seasoned at this practice as well and I love to know your stories and resources. 

We are in this together and the more we show up for ourselves the more we can shine and kick some butt together in this world. More to come on the yoga front. Thanks for reading. Have fun staying connected and listening!

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin

 

Raw Motherhood Lessons—love you today...FREAL!

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Two weeks ago my husband was sick and a lot was just on me. I also had PMS and little sleep. Thus, I wrote the below blog post in the midst of it all. I never got around to posting it, well, because I was doing my best. This past week I am having a flashback to these moments because my son had my husband's illness (I think of version of the influenza) and it has been rough. He also added in the barfs with it intermittently so that has been a not-so-fun curveball! Poor dude. I thought it would resonate with somebody, even just one person, so I decided to share from two weeks ago my Raw Motherhood Lessons.

I know for me there are many moments on this parenting journey that I could be REAL hard on myself, but I know that doing will only harm myself and others. I must surrender those not-so-pretty moments and dig deep. I must accept that I am doing my best, I am enough and I am deserving of loving me today.

I hope the below story inspires you to remember: you are doing your BEST, you are ENOUGH, and you are worthy of LOVE! 

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Sunday, Feb. 12 at 11 p.m. and Monday afternoon, Feb. 13, 2017

I sit on the couch right now (my bed for the third night now) in tears. My hubby is sick and it's been a long weekend. I have felt behind on EVERYTHING. I tried to catch up and take care of my two little people and my hubby: making juice, doing laundry, roasting veggies, shopping, mopping, taking kids to swimming, valentine's boxes, and more. All with an attempt at loving. But during all of that the reality was that I never felt like I was enough: I felt behind, crabby, irritable, selfish, unloving, frustrated and angry. 

I SO want to be adaptable. I SO want to be able to skip sleep and self care and be enough for my family. I SO want to give them the love they give me but I snap, or yell and they quickly remind me, "mom, you are in the amygdala!" For those of you that understand this part of the brain, it is the part of your brain that manages your fight or flight. It is the part in your brain that tells sends the blood to your arms and legs to get you ready to run from the tiger, fast and NOW! Here is a website that I found explains it pretty well: The Amygdala & Emotions. Thanks to SuperStretch and my amazing yogini friend (the creator of SuperStretch) I teach my kids that when we are yelling the amygdala is in control. It might go something like this: "Sweet child, we aren't thinking straight. We must breathe to think through this situation!" Of course those words come out with an intense restraint of yelling (but sometimes raising my voice—eek)! Most often two or three breaths by all parties and the challenge subsides. And that is that. Those are the glorious and amazing parenting moments. The intensity of life happens, we acknowledge and use our tools, and move through it. Obviously that doesn't always happen, but is my ideal. :) When it doesn't happen I do re-do's (just did one this morning) and will share what that means in a blog post soon. It is quite amazing actually.

This weekend was a different story. I felt like I was clenching my body and especially face and throat. I felt so frustrated because I just got off caffeine in an attempt to switch my diet, sleep, and exercise to create a new internal rhythm. I want to feel better and snap a hell of a lot less at my people. It hurts my heart so bad to know that I get so mad and am resisting so much. I honestly feel like sometimes I cannot control it. Other moms (and dads) out there: you know that out-of-body feeling where you know you are being unreasonable but you cannot stop yourself? Please say some of you are nodding with me?? 

Recently I got my copy of the Adrenal and Thyroid Revolution by Dr. Aviva Romm. After reading this book everything seemed clear. As I was a couple chapters in I thought, "Awe shit, there is nothing wrong with me, my hormones are just f'd!" So the intense food cravings and the yelling at the loved ones and flying off the handle is explained. As I continued to read the book I felt my shoulders drop and thought, "So there is a chance I can feel better than this?" 

After drinking 3-5 shots of espressos per day in the past couple weeks (that is the equivalent of 2 or 2'ish cups of coffee) I weaned in a week, and was ready to rock it! I bought some of the hormone-balancing foods and was doing a lot of the flow ("ideal day") of the reset: more sleep, winding down, breathing, yoga, and slow-carb eating (all explained in her book). The bottom line: I haven't nailed it yet, and know that I am obviously free to do anything I want (no rules right)? But at the deep of my heart I want to follow this protocol for 28 days because days like these HURT. They hurt so bad. I pause and I think, what do my kids think and feel in their heart? The one person that is supposed to always be there (MOM) is mad a lot! Do they think it is them? I pray on this one: God no, don't think it is you my sweet ones. Mommy just doesn't feel good and I'm sorry. I will do better tomorrow. I promise. I'm sorry. I love you. 

And so I say forget the list. It is there and it will stay there. What is on the list: sympathy cards that got melted in the snow unbeknownst to me and I have to resend or how about the Christmas present (yes I said Christmas present) for for my hubbies side of the family. It's just sitting there and OMG it's Valentine's Day Tuesday. How does that happen? I have to order brochures for essential oils class that is coming up and supplies for it. How about the invitations for the classes and the b-day invitations, not to mention the Golden b-day presents to go with it. Oh, and how do we make Valentine's day special but do everything we can to not get sick?? I should go sanitize right now right? But in the end, none of it matters. Truly. It. Doesn't. Matter!!! It doesn't matter when I am doing the best I can right? It doesn't matter when I am barely getting basic needs met right? And finally, none of life matters when my attitude is focused on the list or the things NOT going well. That is when the spiral happens and the opposite is true. When we focus on LOVE and when we focus on what IS going right and what we are grateful for, magic happens. I find connection with my kiddos and efficient-chore doing and a letting go of how fast the stuff gets done. 

It will all work out and my heart says breathe. My heart says, go to bed sweet mama. Don't worry. Try again tomorrow and with the power you have use what you know to kick ass tomorrow: gratitude, meditation, the power of intention, laughter, movement, sleep, breath and LOVING ME FIRST!  That means saying nice things to me regardless of my challenges or opportunities. We are all imperfect and to grow stronger and brighter it only serves us to focus on Love. Trust me I know the end result of not giving that to me because I felt that today. 

So I say goodnight Minneapolis. Good night sick husband. Good night angel babies. And good night world. As my daughter wrote in a card to her daddy, "sick man," get better because you are missed and damn you do a lot for our family. And good night sweet little ones. I hope tonight you saw that mama was tired and hormonal and just needs space sometimes to be the best me. I hope you alway remember that no matter what, LOVE wins and it starts with YOU!! Be proud, forgive, love hard and laugh harder! 

What are you saying to you today and in your head? Why are making the choices you make? You deserve to love you ALL the time: thoughts, speech and action. Start today with me won't you? 

Oh, wait you thought I was done. I wrote this last night and started today great. I did my morning prayer and breath and movement. It totaled ten minutes but I was ready, right? And then I couldn't win against the clock this morning and the mess seemed to multiply. I stopped breathing and damn, I was SO. HARD. ON. MYSELF. You can ask my husband. I was a MESS. After the late drop off for the oldest kiddo I went on a walk around the lake and the first half felt heavy. I was feeling sorry for myself and that inner voice was, let's just say, not kind. And then I thought, why am I doing this. "What you resist, persists!" And I kept playing this wisdom reminded to me by my amazing coach Laura Burkey. Oh no...I was doing it again. I was creating a reality that was filled with suffering, anger and a lot of time not breathing. This was felt in my heart and in my little ones. This isn't working. And each step around the lake allowed me to breathe in fresh air. I was able to connect and "chat" with my son. We played the game, "What do you LOVE?" in honor of Valentine's week (also taught to me by Laura Burkey). It was fun and at the end of it I felt uplifted and inspired to show up for me. After the game and stopping my crazy spinning mind, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and choose be nice to me today. Let GO sister! Today is going to be as good as you make it. 

My sweet little man resting

So I challenge you one more time....can you be NICE to you? Can you talk to yourself like you would a good friend? And if that is hard to do that (which it was for me), can you somehow move your body? Can you hide from the family or kids and then make a list or say it aloud of "what you love?" and why? It helps. I promise. And maybe in that little journey of writing or saying it aloud you realize you are truly badass. You have done a lot and you keep showing up. Love isn't about being perfect my friends. Love is getting back up again and trying again. It is reflecting on where you are challenged and looking at that dark inside of you and shining your bright and amazing light at it. You are worth it! I love you and darn it...you should love you!!! And I will do the same....that I can promise. Thank you to those closest to me that remind me of this, I am grateful for you! And thank you for each and everyone of you that continue to teach me on my path!!

Thanks for reading, loving, and living. It truly is what makes the world go round. 

In love, light and gratitude, 

Kristin

A view from my first run last week. The lake is melting and this week has taught me to keep letting go!

A view from my first run last week. The lake is melting and this week has taught me to keep letting go!

P.S. Thanks little bean for this message on Saturday. You were right when you said "Mom, sometimes you
are so overwhelming!" That's right sweetie. I am. And I overwhelm myself. Thanks for the reminder kid. You are a light that shines so bright in our lives! 

P.P.S. I realize It has been QUIET on the blog and website, but again, I have not abandoned anything, I am trying to be strategic and rest when I can. More to come on that later. XOXO

Happy New Year - This moment!

Happy New Year! It has been quiet over here because we got slammed with the sickness (stomach bug) and then the holidays happened. Am I right? In fact, I got another cold that took me by surprise right before the new year which left me barely with a voice on the start of 2017. I realized quickly that I talk a lot and it was humbling to start the year with more listening and an awareness of the amount that I rely on my voice. I also was oh so very grateful for the flu bug to get not just my sweet little boy, but also me. It shut everything down out of my life and gave me this sense of gratitude for each moment of life that sometimes is easy to forget. In fact, I have let the responsibilities of the week and the transition back to the grind of running to dance and school get the best of me and of course get in my head. But as I type and remember those days of pure gratitude for each moment I am quickly reminded of what I want out of my 2017. 

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There is SO MUCH talk about resolutions and how we are going to start 2017 off right and how we can do better and be stronger and, and and. For me I thought I was ready for all of the hype but then 2017 happened and I felt like I missed something big. I felt like I should have wrote more in my 2017 planner for my 2017 intentions and I felt like I should be taking care of myself better with more sleep and less caffeine and no more drinks. As I mentioned I could barely talk on Sunday and Monday, not to mention Monday my husband's last day of vacation he was spent with him in the bathroom getting whatever we had a week before. Needless to say I was in survival mode and trying to heal whatever bug had taken over my throat and chest. I am thankful to say the the Young Living essential oils helped me out a lot, even when I still choose to have a little chocolate and adult drink. 

Either way, my point is this, all of the hype of starting out right can be AMAZING if you have a plan and you kick ass at it. What about if life had other plans for you and you just rolled into 2017 like it was another day? Perhaps I am not alone in this, but I just went on my merry way living and loving. And it felt good the first couple days, but now that we are in week one of January and my monkey mind has taken over I have had a few moments where I clench my jaw and stomach and think, crap I missed this opportunity. But wait, did I? Is there anything magical about a new year? Don't we truly get a new refresh each time we take a breath? Are you tracking with me? For me I love a new moon or a the start to a new month, but that doesn't mean that I am not okay if I do'nt do anything to honor this new beginning. Couldn't it be okay to just honor that each day is a gift and like the mom of my husband taught him, "your day is only as good as you make it!" 

So my friends I share this to say that regardless of how your 2017 has started, I say it doesn't matter. Good job if you are using it as leverage to change something you have always wanted to change or start doing something that makes you feel better. That is awesome and I support you. And if you didn't, may I ask you a favor? Can you join me in honoring that you are amazing right now, whether you had an afternoon coffee, forgot to wash you face, starting 10 things today but finished nothing. Please remember your choice is right now to honor the amazing YOU that exists inside of you each and every moment. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart because i know my own battles try to do x, y, and z and then, and only then can I truly love myself or be satisfied or happy. And that my friends is the farthest thing from the truth. That has hurt me in too many ways and as I type it is clear that my focus for 2017 is to LOVE LOVE LOVE. 

I will LOVE me and LOVE you and LOVE the good times and the times I am barfing in my toilet. Why? Because I am alive. In fact, in a call with my coach just last week we talked about everything being love. Yesterday, when my daughter was freaking out because her shoe was on the porch and it was frozen because it was below zero, I went and locked myself in our tiny laundry room. I kicked the garbage can and tried to breathe. I am sure it was just a bit of wheezing and a lot of face and jaw clenching. I said aloud to myself, "how and the hell is her behavior love? This is crap. It is not possible." I was stumped. So I stood their longer. I grunted a little and for sure held my breath. Until I took a breath and then another and another. I kept thing love. And eventually after about 3 or 4 minutes my shoulders soften enough for my brain to function. I remembered the love I have for her and realized that my job is to use each moment as teachable. 

So I left the laundry room and of course had a lot of words, but they were calmer. It was simply around natural consequences and that because of the drama around the cold shoe we would be late. Also, that I need her help getting stuff ready the night before so it isn't so hard getting ready in the morning. And finally, that despite that intense and not so fun few minutes, "your day is only as good as you make it!" We make better choices when we are calm and avoid going to that place where are at a zero and find our way to ten. We don't accidentally fall down the stairs or run into a wall or kick a garbage can or laundry basket. Yes? We breathe, we choose, and damn it, even if it isn't what you wanted to do or say, you move forward and you choose to be love. You choose not to beat yourself up, but show up and do what is right. It is not worth ruining the rest of a day, a week a month, or even a year. 

I will tell you as much as those minutes yesterday sucked for me as a mom, I am proud to say I came out of it with more grace than a typical morning. And as I think back to it on this extremely cold afternoon I think to myself, that was supposed to happen. That moment was my reminder to me to give myself permission to let 2017 be as it will be. Yes, I will set goals and resolutions (sankalpa in sanskrit), and do everything I can to be my best self. But the whole point in starting this website and sharing my heart is because no rules means no rules. It means each moment and day will be different and we must honor just that. So I might have another small glass of wine tonight or maybe I won't, that moment will tell me thaht. But what I do know is that my intuition and inner guide will know what to do and when I wrap everything up in love, the rest will follow.

Where are you at on this first week of 2017? Have you jumped all in? Are you struggling? Are you grounded? Are you tired? Honestly, wherever you are at, it is perfect. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. I honor you and all of your greatness. Be true to you and I ask you just one more time, be kind to you and love you up. You are WORTH IT! 

In so much love and gratitude,

Kristin

Resisting: parenting and the existence of children being children and parents learning too!

PARENTING WIN - THE KIDS LOVED THIS ONE!

PARENTING WIN - THE KIDS LOVED THIS ONE!

I cannot tell you how many times I have set a new goal of not yelling at my kids or not getting frustrated or impatient. Sometimes I hide in my closet or in my bed. Sometimes I want to have a tantrum like a three-year old and just bang on the floor. Why? Why? Why? Why won't they pick up their shit? Why won't they listen to me the first, second or third time? Why do they make a mess and lay they clothes everwhere (insert laughing b/c I am not so good at putting my 10 pairs of workout/yoga clothes away)? Why do they want what they want? Why are they so adamant when they want the gloves vs. the mittens? Why do they jump on me when I just need a minute to breathe? Why do they actually want mom vs. dad when I am not patient and can be grumpy and unintentionally mean? 

Oh, that is right, they are kids. They are simply being kids. They are little humans figuring out the world. They are watching our every move and word (gasp) and they are navigating a lot of things for the first time as they continue to have birthdays. And when I think about it that way, well, I think I might be a total jerk of a mom. And then I think again and say, wait, you are just a big human. You might be a grown up, but you are a kid when it comes to parenting. I have only been parenting as long as my oldest has been a kid. Funny how that works right? So isn't it fair to think that I might screw up, not be patient, and have learning to do too? 

The answer to that is yes. I must remember that I am learning as mom, and my kids are learning as humans (brother, sister, friend, student, grandchild, neighbor, etc.). And when I remember that I am still learning, my shoulder softens and my face relaxes. Maybe I am doing an okay job after all. Maybe I am trying too hard to not yell and at the same time setting myself up to fail as a mom because I want it neat or I want them to "listen the first time" or I want them to just roll with it. How can I expect them to do that if I am not a role model of these exact things? And then I think to getting dressed in the morning. Why is it such a struggle? Obvious. Why do us big-kids like to stay in our pajamas on Sunday mornings or the mornings of holidays and have an extra cup of coffee and snuggle in? Because we are human and it feels so flippin good, especially when it is so cold that your clothes and dishes are cold from being near in outside wall (thank you Minnesota winter).

As I was reflecting on parenting after a decent morning last week it still was filled with a parenting "incident" of tension and a perhaps some raised voices by both parties (we won't say who started it). I reread a text I got from my coach and why I get so frustrated with my kids. She reminded me oh so gracefully that each time I give resistance everything regarding parenting is going to be that much harder. And on top of it my body will be filled with cortisol, which we all know isn't awesome for the health or the waistline. And then I smiled when I read this because my latest test results at my physical show a very similar hormone panel as last fall. Thus, I would imagine that if I tested my cortisol again it might be a little low as it was early 2016. Why? Because I am using it all up getting so darn mad at the the little things.

So then why resist all of it? Why try so hard? Why not be more effortless? Why not roll with it and instead of resist do the opposite, be at ease? Allow for them to not listen to me the first time but still encourage respect and kindness. Because that will only make me healthier, their hearts less beat up from intense parenting/kid moments, and our house a happier place. 

The above sounds nice right? Be at ease? But like my sister always encourages me to to do with everything I asked myself, what is the root cause of my impatience? The last parenting moments I have been aware and I think I nailed the biggest reason for me at this current time in my parenting journey (or learning). I am not patient with them because I am not present with them. Not because my phone has a bigger appeal, but because I am thinking about various responsibilities that distract me and are the farthest from parenting and the present moment.  Examples: I might be thinking about the class I teach at 6 a.m. that I am not prepared for or something that I know is coming fast regarding an obligation/to-do. Or what about about the pressure of am I moving fast enough with my business or when can I get a shower in? Or how about what the heck is for dinner and what about lunches? Do I really feed them that again? And the examples could go on and on. 

WHERE ARE THE PHOTOS OF TANTRUMS OR SADNESS? I think I don't have many because THEY ARE WAY LESS FUN THAN THIS CUTENESS! :)

WHERE ARE THE PHOTOS OF TANTRUMS OR SADNESS? I think I don't have many because THEY ARE WAY LESS FUN THAN THIS CUTENESS! :)

You know that feeling of being behind and never prepared. That is a huge distraction for me and impacts how patient I am with the kids. Thus, it is one thing for me to say, "I am going to parent with ease, stop resisting and let us learn together because we are all kids." And it is another to set this intention with the awareness of my triggers and instead of try to battle these, avoid them all together (as best as possible). I am sure I could get a long list of what sets me off (one that pops in my head is making lunches, cleaning up, making breakfast, getting us all ready, and helping with homework all in an hour's time...no wonder we are late and I feel like a volcano when we are done). Additionally, attempting to carve out the time I need to be prepared for teaching, family business, writing and more! It is not going to be perfect, but I am willing to do the dance and honor both my children and their learning and my parenting learning as well. I will try to ease up and resist less; it is worth a try in my mind especially for the love and trust these little munchkins give me.

What are your parenting battles? Are you constantly doing the same thing or beating yourself up for not being perfect? I am sure we all have them; parent guilt is real. And if you don't have kids, what are your battles that get you all hot and heavy? What makes you mad and actually deters you from being at ease, ultimately impacting your day and overtime your health? Become aware and curious. Be kind. And most import, remember you are a learning too. Isn't that the fun of life? 

In love, light, and gratitude (and hopefully ease),

Kristin 

Slow Down Monday Check-in: Sleep and Slowing Down—Dec. 12, 2016

Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process.
— Alexandra Stoddard

Yesterday's raw post with the full-moon picture said it all for me, not to mention the quote above: Slow Down. I have pasted my words below for those of you that didn't catch the post. It was a pretty incredible moment that took me by surprise because I found so much peace during such a simple task of driving, when typically my mind would be thinking about my appointment, my class the next morning and more! But for whatever reason time slowed down and it was such a gift. I must continue this and truly trust the process of life and each moment.

Here is yesterday's post on Slowing Down

Have you ever just slowed down? And I mean slow down for real? I am talking about picking an every-day task you do and do it slower. This evening I did just that. I drove slower. I left early because of potentially slower roads because of snow, dark and cold. I drove through the city streets for almost 30 minutes.

Something miraculous happened. I SAW. I saw the bright xmas lights as I passed by, I saw the foggy full moon, I felt my breath begin to deepen and slow, and my thoughts slowly but surely began to follow. As I mention in my yoga teachings and as I experience in my own yoga learning, the breath and the mind are so connected.

But slowing down was what allowed me to feel and to SEE so clear for these few moments in this frigid night in Minneapolis. I was jamming out to a yoga playlist and heard the line "you don't have to be on your own." From the song "A Message" by Coldplay (X&Y). As typical I pulled it into my own context. Damn it I don't have to do it alone and for that I am SO damn lucky; grateful!

The message to me tonight is clear: slow down. Slow down my desire to heal faster, slow down my desire to get more done, slow down my desire to move my professional aspirations forward now, slow down my reactions to my kids, slow down my breath. Slow it all down. Why? To see, to truly see the beauty of life in front of me each moment (and maybe to stop yelling or frowning or holding my breath).

While experiencing this intense seeing I wished I could be in the presence of my kids. I can only imagine their eyes wide open and despite their behavior, I would imagine I could see the life, the desire, the twinkle and drive in their eyes to also see. Somehow as an adult it is easy to forget this important gift.

So tonight I share this in hopes for you to slow down something. Try it out, soften your shoulders (if you can...brrr), soften your gaze, perhaps your grip on your steering wheel or the clock that is ticking while attempting to get somewhere. See what happens! :) I know for me I found peace and a little bit of that part of me that tries so hard to soften, just a bit.


Other updates - Sleep, coffee, and awareness of my positivity of the season!

In other news I am happy to report I am sleeping more. The last five of six nights (starting from last Wednesday) I have been in bed for 8-9 hours and had some nights where I actually slept pretty well. Also, I am down to only one cup of coffee or to be exact two shots of Nespresso with my hot water. I will say, there is nothing better than a homemade Americano without having to leave your house. I love it a lot. However, I am realizing how darn tired I have been with my strong dependency of needing caffeine and a little more and a little more. Only having a little caffeine could be one of the reasons I am forced to slow down because I am tired.

This week I will continue to try to sleep and give myself grace that life might be a little messy and my lists long and unorganized, because if I don't sleep I will get sick and then the little things won't be able to be enjoyed. Am I right? And my hope is that slowing down will help me to not yell anymore and to breathe a bit deeper, and, and and. UPDATE: I wrote this on Tuesday morning and then sickness hit our house. Thus, sleep went out the window, but the slowing down theme remained! :) It is impossible to take care of my sick and sweet little man without slowing down. It is interesting to me that I was ready to slow down before the sickness hit so I have been embracing it and finding gratitude in our overall health. That is definitely the silver lining in spite of seeing him be so sick and my hands so raw from washing them and wiping things down!

And finally, I am excited to say that last year I worked SO hard at forcing the gratitude statements about this time of year. For example, I would say, "I am so very grateful for this time of year because I get to spend more time with my kids. Thank you thank you thank you!" Or, " I am so very grateful for this time of year because I get to snuggle in with those that I love and we don't get overheated. Thank you thank you thank you!" And while deep in my core I still was a bit of a hater during the season, I found glimpses of joy. I am happy to report that this year I think I am truly seeing the beauty of the season. Instead of try so darn hard to be on top of it or focus so much about how flipping cold I am or how I am tried of having the constant cold that won't go away, I am finding true joy in the mess and the magic of the season. While I honestly miss my flip-flops I am embracing and actually enjoying a lot more moments this go round. I guess neuroplasticity is a real thing! My brain is changing.

That is all for this week: sleep, slowing down, and awareness of real enjoyment of a season two years ago I was wishing to be over before it even started. Update: and doing the nurse-mom thing that requires patience, less sleep and faith that despite my knowledge of how it will all shake out or if the others will be hit with the barfs and the fever to follow, I must have faith. All things to celebrate. Maybe I will be singing a different tune next week but today I feel pretty positive and look forward to back to eight hours in bed. What are you up to this week and what can you give yourself a high five for doing or being? I am sure you have something.

Have an amazing week and weekend (since I am posting Monday on Thursday). Why not? Grace is grace. Am I right?

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin

My attempt to avoid the sickness Sunday night - Juicing is fun and messy!

My attempt to avoid the sickness Sunday night - Juicing is fun and messy!

Check-in Monday: Connection to the Soul—Dec. 5, 2016

Today I am going to keep it pretty simple. Last week's update I wasn't feeling so hot: mind, body and spirit. It was tough to acknowledge, but with the help of my coach, my yoga practice, husband, friends and family I can say that I am moving forward and feel a bit better. My joints are less in pain, my stomach issues aren't as frequent and the best news, I feel more connected to my soul and me than I have in a few weeks. 

This small taste of feeling better and more grounded in me is keeping me going and determined to heal more from the eating issues and the constant judging of whatever I didn't do good enough: parenting, teaching a class, listening to a friend and more. I actually feel oh so grateful for the blip of not feeling so hot because I know it will drive me forward and help me to work through something that has been so deeply rooted in me in many ways. 

So without any more words (usually there are a lot), here is this week’s focus:

1. Weaning from caffeine. I already have a caffeine headache and I still had three shots of espresso on Sunday morning. Yikes. I definitely used caffeine as my way to get through days of less than 6 hours of sleep and sometimes a few in a row. By noon I hit a wall and then I want the second round of caffeine. I am going to switch to decaf or at the maximum, one shot of espresso on the days I really want one. However, Ideally my caffeine is coming from a good grean tea. I will be drinking decaf though because last year trying to give it all up was a disaster and right now I am not ready for that. Obviously I will allow myself to wean as slow as I need. 

2. Staying away from alcohol. I know how much I love a good whiskey, tequila or a glass of wine, but the impact to me recently shows up in not so pretty ways. I often feel more emotional, sad or angry days following drinking. Additionally, even if I have one glass of wine it feels like the next day I have gained 3 pounds. This is not an exaggeration and doesn't make sense. So as much as I crave it, I am taking a break for the month of December. 

3. Slowing down and being present, with the intention to heal my adrenals and hormones. I know they are still off and my recent test results are there to confirm it. As someone that lives in this busy world with kids I am often thinking about what next or what hasn’t gotten done or what happened and spend less time in the present. This morning I gave it a try, I decided to pause the morning routine and snuggle each kid on the couch while looking at the tree. I asked them three questions about the Christmas tree. It felt nice; I noticed things like how they smelled and the smile and twinkle in their eye. Bonus: I think they behaved better too! 

4. Connection. When I connect with others and laugh, listen, am heard, and more, I feel connected to their souls and I feel happy inside. I think I recently read an article that when people have good friendships and family they are happier because of the human connection; it does something to your brain for the better. I will take that!! 

5. Acceptance. Finally, and most important is my intention to accept and ultimately be more loving all around. Obviously this one starts within first, in order to give love to others. I say a lot to myself, “I do not judge _____, I accept _____.” And then comes the love and less frustration or anger or whatever it is that the judgment is focused on. It is in this place where I do not go to shame but rather refocus my energy on the now and moving forward. I will keep trying this technique because so far, it is working!! This technique was all from my amazing coach, Laura Burkey. I am pretty lucky to have her support I have to say. :) 

I think that is it for me this week. I am excited to share more ideas on how to stay balanced as the holiday season progresses, fun recipes and more!

How are you doing this week? What is your intention for yet another new week? How can you still take care of you in the midst of crazy this December?

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin 

The secret to health both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
— Buddha

 

Honest Monday Check-in: Nov. 28, 2016

I have to be honest in today's Monday check-in.  I'm okay. I am not thriving like I know I can and I would be lying if I said that the holidays have been easy. I don't have any grand answers except that when I reflect on the last month I definitely did less movement (walking, yoga, exercise), less sleeping, less meal planning and thus grabbing for crappier food options, more wine, less vegetables, less connection and more. I feel like my energy, generally, was dispersed in many different ways, leaving me feeling like I was running around with my head cut off with not a lot to show for it. I did get a new teaching gig and I am grateful and excited to share more! Also, I am spending time enriching my yoga studies through the Vinyasa Krama online training with Rod Stryker. It has been work, but I am so grateful to learn and expand! 

Based on all of this I choose to be kind to me and honor that I am not just sitting on the couch. However, I know that I can feel better, physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

If you are curious of more of what isn't feeling good I have captured below. 

My body:

It hurts. Physically my joints hurt, my skin is inflamed and hurts and itches in various places. My physical body hurts because of being out of alignment; I have been teaching, doing workouts out and yoga, but not enough foam rolling and restorative activity. Ouch. Additionally, I feel puffy everywhere. In fact, it isn't a feeling it is a reality because my clothes are fitting a lot tighter in just the last few weeks. And finally, my bloat is awful. I know my tummy is off and not happy lots of times in the day. in fact, almost every time I eat lately my stomach hurts or I can hear the rumbling. Because of all of this I know a little healing will go a long way. 

Emotionally/Mentally

My mind is all over the place. I have a lot on my mind regarding work and home, specifically thinking up various ways to approach each. I am experiencing a great amount of mental spinning (where I take a thought or idea and run with it, usually not for the positive). I am harder on myself, sensitive, and sometimes so anxious I can barely sit still during meditation. This is absolutely a reflection of me being out of balance, in particular not sleeping and more importantly short-cutting my practice to the point that even when I do it I am so tired it doesn't count. I feel connected to something higher than me when I am in nature and when I sit still and find myself in breath and meditation. When I do not do that, the cumulative effect is noticed. In fact, I talk about this a bit in the Pain of Not Practicing post. This awareness will definitely be leverage and motivation for me to show up in my practice because my mind will absolutely benefit. :)

The Process of Healing - why don't more people talk about the process of healing? I am curious.

In reflecting in the last couple days following the peak of feeling crappy I have been thinking a lot about how not a lot of people talk about the process of life or the journey of losing weight or healing from a sickness. I wonder why? It is in the process of pain/suffering where I feel the most alone and confused. I know I am not alone and I reach out to those close to me who often hold me up, but why do I hesitate to share the journey, especially when it isn't pretty? I think it is because it makes me vulnerable. Also, a lot of people share the story of, "one day I had this suffering and then I did x, y, and z and now I feel great!" I am not judging or saying that is not an okay way to share your story, because each one of us gets to choose how we tell our story and how/when we share. What I am saying is that I crave to hear more of the journey and process of others on the way to moving through something that was hard and didn't feel good.

I also hesitate to share sometimes because when you look at my life I am pretty damn lucky. How could someone that has a lot to be thankful for be suffering? It doesn't make sense at all. But then I realize I am not alone in my journey of internal suffering. In fact, we all have these things inside that are here to teach us. And if it wasn't painful we wouldn't have the desire and drive to stand up again and keep moving forward. If it wasn't painful we wouldn't want to make changes and choices in our lives to feel better. And as much as I know that is hard to make changes, especially at the beginning (because sometimes it is easier to stay out of balance), I know what is on the other side, and thus I am very very determined to keep moving forward. I also hope that me sharing the process I am going through as I struggle and get back up again might help just one person.

My Aha-Cycle - Specific to eating, body image, and health (gut health, skin stuff etc.)

I want to go in depth soon about my aha-cycle that I realize I deal with, in particular with my eating and body-image issues. If I am being honest, I am carrying a good 15 pounds, maybe 20 pounds more than what I used to call my set-point weight. In fact, I used to feel chubby during that weight, and now that I have the extra puff (for lack of a better term) and I think, "what was I thinking?" For me it is more than the weight; It is the fact I can feel so awesome one moment and so awful the next moment that I wonder, am I doing it all wrong? Am I defective? Do I simply not have enough will power? And on and on on. So when I was not feeling so hot this last Friday (post Thanksgiving) I pulled out the book, Women Food and God, by Geneen Roth and I found my notes I wrote in the summer. It was pretty incredible what I learned in my reflections from reading this book back in July. (This book moved me faster in my healing of my eating issues than anything I've every done). In my own reflections I quickly became aware of three stages that I am often cycling through. Each stage has a set of behaviors and thought patterns. Essentially, this cycle is one that helped me see the destructive pattern I often find myself in, which ultimately sets me up to not feel good and frankly, think too much about it (food/body) all. 

Here is a pic of the high-level cycle I drew out one day that hit home for me:

In no particular order the three phases are:

  • Connection to Source: Highest good/choice
  • Awareness of positive feelings (or negative) and/or change, leads to Attachment and more focus/attention on food/body.
  • Disconnection to self and not being fully present, feelings of shame.

I look forward to digging deeper into this as I grow and hopefully I can share even more in the future. For now, I will honor that the cycle can exist for me and that I am healing and getting stronger each day. I respect and am accepting of my ability to use my awareness to drop into the present moment and love me exactly as I am today, and tomorrow and the next day. I cannot image that this self love will do anything but help me to make better choices, be kinder and to hopefully thrive. Thus, in sharing I am thankful for this suffering because it has made me more awake and alive. 

So what next?

  1. I am doing everything I can to be fully present in ALL of life. I am challenging myself to feel all of my feelings and slow down. Often times I numb myself or distract myself with staying up too late, looking at my phone, getting a snack or thinking about food too much. Thus, I am not truly living in the moment, right? Also, I realize I am often crabby and impatient at home and at the stem of it all is that I am often thinking about what I need to do to be prepared to teach or do something esle and instead I am doing parenting things. Thus, I am quickly reactive and not my best self.
  2. Honor my truth. I am working closely with my coach to realize and accept/love all of me, the good, the challenging, and the quirky. And instead of constantly try to improve or judge myself, I am working to accept and LOVE it all. After all of this recent awareness I realize that I am so incredibly hard on myself it actually makes life a lot more difficult and amps up my anger and impatience to a pretty high level. 
  3. I will LIVE my YOGA! Daily yoga means living my yoga; each moment I see as my practice. To be kind to myself, my kids, and those I come in contact with. This will lead to nourishing foods, moving my body, connecting, and practice--giving myself the healing gift of yoga to move, change my energetic body and pause my mind enough to connect to the place in me that is unchanging and bright.

I believe in my heart that this small moment of not feeling so hot is a gift to me to adjust and do what I know I need to do to honor me, my path, my blessings and more. I also now know what it is like to physically feel not awesome and to have my weight not budge, regardless of what I am doing. I know what I need and I plan to carry on. I allow the hurt and the feelings. I dig into a deep place of me that will not try to be it all or be perfect but to be present: more breaths, more pausing, more allowing feelings to come in and out. Thus, hopefully more real moments of bliss, laughter, joy and true gratitude with effortlessly flow into my life. 

Am I right? Does any of this resonate with you? Do you have something you are working through and are you allowing or are you pushing it away? Can you learn from your challenges and honor the process? Ask yourself questions and continue to be curious because the lessons are in the everyday moments and your heart. And of course the real sweet spot is allowing it all to happen and find that acceptance in your mind, body and spirit. You are worthy of love today.

Thanks for reading and for honoring you! Wherever you are today and on your journey you are exactly where you should be. Can you give yourself a little more love and grace today? Can you slow down and be a little more present? I know I can and I will try. I look forward to reporting back on how it is going. 

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin 

p.s. I couldn't resist putting this little cutie and our bright tree in the pic. The tree might be my favorite part of December. :) 

p.p.s I am feeling better now that it is Friday and I have made small changes. I look forward to sharing more. xo

Happy Thanksgiving 2016—Honor all in your heart today

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! :) Today I choose gratitude. Isn't that the theme of the day? Oh I am sure there are so many emotions running through us all today? Why? Because we each have our story. We are each unique amazing beings that have a story that makes us who we are. Because of our story and life experiences, today might be filled with a variety of emotions. There are those that have experienced deep loss and are longing for the loved ones that are no longer with us and there are those that are lonely and just want someone to love and share this holiday with. I am sure there are others that do not feel the freedom that we celebrate in our country and are simply in a place of confusion, sadness and more in the recent happenings of our political and social world. There are some that got stuck in weather, unable to make it home and others that physically or mentally are suffering and hurting in so many ways. Whatever your challenges are this holiday season let me start by saying, I honor you. I honor each and every one of you that might have a part in your heart and body that is challenged or hurting. 

Often times we are so focused on gratitude we forget to honor the part of us that is hurting or challenged. So let's do that for a moment. Take a moment and honor all of you, give thanks to those times of suffering because they are here to make us stronger and to shape us. It actually makes me think of something Rod Stryker shared in our last training together. In discussing one of the books we were studying he explained "self effort is God." That is what the book were were studying and yoga tradition was talking about. This hit home with me and was something that stuck. When we suffer because of things we are dealing with internally or externally, the human condition doesn't like that feeling and thus we strive to feel better. Usually this translates to our own self effort of fighting back from a pain or loss so deep and to rise above.

This battle to keep going on the hard days is absolutely self effort. How cool to think about this self effort as God? And for some you may not use the word God, replace it with something that works for you: universe, spirit, divinity, etc. The point is this, we all have our battles and challenges and they are here to teach us in a way that sometimes we don't even know as we are going through them. But I can guarantee that you are stronger than you think. In fact, a lot of my fears in life are because I don't think I will ever get through x, y, or z. And then I look around me and see the battles that people are facing and fighting and those who are battling don't give up, they keep going and show up in life. I have chills thinking about it. Somehow we all come together and keep on going and that is flippin amazing!

So why in the world am I talking about suffering on this day of thanks? I think because I know that while it is SO important to focus on gratitude and that truly is the way to happiness in our journeys of life I also know that I have suffered and felt physical, emotional and mental pain (on Thanksgiving) in addition to my experience of an abundance of joy, love and happiness. And to ignore that both happen to me seems wrong. In fact, I was inspired to write this on this Thanksgiving morning because I am physically hurting today. I woke up to my hands being numb and the pain in my joints great. My skin and stomach issues are inflamed and I don't feel awesome. Something is off for me physically and I clearly have more healing to do. Additionally we slept in a hotel last night and I don't think I slept the best. However, as I woke up to this morning I realized that I must honor the challenges and pain that I have experienced and am experiencing today, but I also have the power to create the day that I want and so need.

For me Thanksgiving has been both an awesome day but also a day that has challenged me in subtle ways that have, in the past, taken away from the joy and gratitude of life, and in particular this day of giving and experiencing thanks. For me my suffering is two-fold: my body can hurt and challenge my physically (as mentioned above) and my emotional and mental body as well. As I have discussed before, my internal suffering and struggles have a lot to do with food and body-image issues. These are deeply rooted in things that I can get into more in another time, but today I cannot help but think of how some Thanksgivings were pretty challenging for me. Some Thanksgivings I felt like I did it all right and I survived and others I felt like I couldn't wait for the day to be over because the focus of food was just too much. And I know that on those past Thanksgiving days the focus of my worries (food, exercise and health) diluted my ability to enjoy what I had on that day. And that goes for any other day of my life. When I am so focused on this internal battle with food, body, or anything that doesn't seem to be going my way, I miss the joy of life that is sitting right in front of me. And that, my friends is why I bring this up. 

So today I woke up and after sharing my physical pain that my body is experiencing today with my husband I looked at him and said, "I know that I am hurting, but I am determined to be and feel gratitude today because I am so lucky and so grateful to be sharing this day with you and our family!" The point in saying that was me honoring that perhaps my physical and mental body may still have some healing to do, but more importantly that I have the power to choose the kind of Thanksgiving I have and the day after that and the day after that. 

So today, how will I shape the day that I want? With intention and being very clear with what I want: Today I fill my mind, body and spirit up with gratitude so that I can feel every ounce of how lucky I am to live and love so hard that I feel my true essence, I see vitality, innocence and pure joy in my kids. Today I am an example to them of living my gratitude. I know I can make this happen even more if I make my list of what I am grateful for and why. So here is my list on this Thanksgiving day:

 

Here is my Thanksgiving 2016 gratitude....

  • I am so very grateful for my healthy family because they give me back so much love and joy in my heart. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for essential oils because they have helped me a lot this week as I have not felt the best. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for the best parents a girl could ask for because they taught me to be who I am, to believe in myself and life and to love big. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for my husband and best friend because he is my rock and teaches me so much in life. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for my yoga practice because it reminds me of my true essence and teaches me to be the very best me that I can be. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for coffee because, well, I have been depending on it a bit these last few months and it tastes so good, especially my fancy Nespresso machine that is at home and I maybe missing a bit today. :) Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for my friends because they remind me to play and love and they will always be there for me. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for my siblings because they are amazing humans and I have so much fun with I am with them. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for other humans and their unique stories, including the joy and the suffering, because watching others live and love inspires me to do the same. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for my health and all the resources to support me because I wouldn't be on this healing journey without their knowledge, and support. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for the creativity and simply joys that my kids show me each day because I am reminded that it is the little things and the present moment that matter most. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for my body and its ability to move and play and touch because it is pretty incredible all that it can do. I am especially grateful for my workout this morning and the reminder of the strength I carry each day. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for the veggies (see pic above) I made yesterday because I know that eating veggies too will make everything feel better and bonus, if it is yummy I might have a new recipe to share! Thank you Thank you thank you!
  • I am so very thankful that we had a safe drive yesterday, but more importantly we survived a very crabby and needy three-year old. Thank you thank you thank you! (note: see pic below of my sweetheart and I surviving each moment). :) 
  • I am so very grateful that I have the opportunity to write and share because it simple feels so good for my soul and for that I am so very grateful. Thank you thank you thank you thank you!
  • I am so very grateful for another day because each day is a gift and I am determined to create joy, love and truly live my gratitude because I am so very blessed and lucky. Thank you thank you thank you!!!
We are surviving the three-year old freak outs in the back seat: I am grateful I could squeeze between two carseats. :) 

We are surviving the three-year old freak outs in the back seat: I am grateful I could squeeze between two carseats. :) 

Now it is your turn. What is your intention for the day? What do you need to honor that might be hurting and what can you bring into your day that creates joy and happiness? Can you take a moment and list what you are grateful for and why? Feel the feelings in all of you as you feel this gratitude and notice how it lifts you up. Last weekend I did this little exercise when my son stepped on my homemade vegan pumpkin pie and it actually made me enjoy my day even more.

I wish you nothing but an amazing day filled with love, joy and gratitude and present moment, whatever that means to you on this 2016 Thanksgiving day. 

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin

 

40 day look back and forward (Everyone is behind too!)—Check in Monday, Nov. 21, 2016

I don't know about you, but I have felt behind on literally everything the last couple weeks. As you can see this post for this Monday check-in arrives on Tuesday. Each year in Sept/October I devise a plan. i feel so smart and strategic; it is almost as though I have figured it out. I think to myself, "this year I am not going to be behind during the holidays and this year I am going to love them because I am going to alleviate all of the stress and do everything early. By December I will be making Christmas cookies, hanging out with friends, going to yoga and maybe even picking up a craft at the craft store!" How about it right? In theory this seems amazing and doable. However, in reality this is never the case. And yes, there is a rare group of people that execute everything early and are amazing at this, in fact they likely thrive in this environment. If that is you, damn you are awesome and if you are willing to share your tips I am all ears. I might even send you a gift in return because I can use all of the help I can get. But what I am hearing among my friends, family and even students in my classes is that their lists are long too! They are behind and feel like they are letting everything slide. And, my friends, I am a full-time stay-at-home mom a lot more than I spend time teaching classes or working on my business. Even with that extra time I am behind!

So what is a girl to do? The words that comes to mind are surrender and soften. As I say to my yoga students, relax your face and jaw and even your mind. Can you loosen your grip on this list and know that maybe everyone else feels the same way and that if it all doesn't get done, well, tomorrow will come? I sometimes think if I just do an extra push, skip the yoga practice or the sleep I will catch up, but then I become tired or angry and depleted. It is no fun and it never works. I think secretly I thrive on adrenaline (another reason I am likely in a continual fight with my adrenals), but that is not the point of today's post. My point is this, instead of focus on the long list of what is left to do or what you haven't gotten to yet, what if we just smile and nod because we are not alone and perhaps everyone is behind too? And what if instead of look at our lists, what if we look back?

Not too long ago my six-year old daughter reminded us, "there are 50 days left in the calendar year." I remember when she said this I am sure my eyeballs popped out of my head because for sure I could see my dream of having it all done so I could bake cookies quickly slip away. The same day she shared this I was on a run and I had this huge aha-moment. Are you ready for this (you might want to sit down for this)? What if we start to look back at the last year now, instead of wait until the New Year is quickly upon us? We all know that in a month's time social media will be flooded with all the various ways to reflect on last year and set the perfect resolution for next year. Right (insert head nod)? 

This week I am challenging myself and YOU to do the same. We have 40 days exactly until the New Year! Get a pen and paper (or your phone and open up the notepad). Do it now, you won't be sorry. Think about the last year and make a list of all the successes, little and big that you have have accomplished this year. If you are anything like me you may have days, weeks, and moments that you are continually doing everything you can to strive to be better and you are SO hard on yourself. Nobody is perfect and we all have tough days, weeks and months. But I am sure that you have moments that you have forgotten that you kicked ass at something. It can be anything that you are proud of whether it is at home or work or you overcoming something that was harder than you ever imagined on your heart and soul. But here you are, today, reading this blog. If you haven't grabbed your paper, please do it now. 

A live smile shot for you (see lists in background) :) 

A live smile shot for you (see lists in background) :) 

When I got this idea on my run I began to do it immediately in my head of course. Prior to the run I was feeling hard on myself because I was behind on everything: my house was a disaster, I was planning another class at the last minute, I felt like I wanted my business to be moving faster than it was, and I still didn't fit in my clothes or make enough healthy food. And then this came to me. Why not focus on what you have done amazing at? As soon as I started to go through my memory lane of 2016 I began to curl my lips up and smile. My smile was so big as I continued the exercise (in my head) that I even noticed the strangers I passed smile back at me. I am sure they could feel my joy and pride coming from me as I jogged slowly by. I felt so grateful for my run now because not only did I get away from the shit show at home, but I also was able to create a huge shift in my perspective. I no longer felt frustrated with my said list (that is now longer), but I felt proud of how far I had come. Was everything perfect? Hell no. But, I had little and big moments I was proud of, and that kept me going on my run. And looking back and feeling proud and grateful  keeps me going on my list and simply showing up in my life as mom and my dreams.

Here is my stab at it - My 2016 reflections: 

  • I started my website and blog. I had been ghost blogging in a folder on my desktop for years and I finally put myself out there and did it. This desire came deep from my soul; I created a sankalpa (resolution in sanskrit). In less than 12 months my resolution was a reality. Not too shabby for someone that is technically challenged. Seriously, sometimes I cannot even google things and not get confused. Reading this makes me think...why have I not created a solid sankalpa again? Indeed that is happening next week. Should I add it to the list? :) 
  • I hired a life coach to continue my healing heart and eating disorder. I continued to feel lost and struggled a lot in many areas. This investment in me was a huge blessing and of course makes me feel vulnerable because it costs money and it is clearly saying, I need the support of not just me. I knew I couldn't do it alone and for this I am proud to say has changed my life. Thank you Laura Burkey!
  • I started teaching barre in February of 2016. I fell in love with the format shortly after I had my son at a time when I felt more disconnected to my body than I had ever been (in particular my core). I completed the Barre Training through Blooma the fall of 2015 and made my dream of teaching a new format that I was passionate about become a reality. I still remember how much I was in my head my first mock-class. Prepping for that was a ton of work, but if you don't put yourself out there, well, you will simply keep watching. 
  • I completed a yoga weekend training with Rod Stryker and stayed in a hotel for two nights away from the family! I loved the training, the people and friendships, but being way from my family helped me feel free! I missed them terribly but It was the first time I was away since my son was born (he turned three in September). 
  • I decided against running any long races. That is right, I LOVE running races in the spring, summer and fall and despite my strong desire to pick up the miles and run more I listened to my intuition. I knew my adrenals still felt pretty depleted and the best thing for me was to run the lake when I could and look forward to a race at a different time in my life. I guess you could call this listening to my body (even though I resist this term-read here). 
  • I enrolled in Rod Stryker's Vinyasa Krama: The Energetics of Sequencing online training and I am currently working on this with my dharma sister. It is a big commitment and I am learning a lot. I cannot wait to apply what I am learning to my practice, life and teaching. 
  • I created a "happy summer!" for my kiddos. Well, it wasn't all Mary-Poppins, but I feel like I tried to create memories and love. The funny story is that about 30-minutes into summer break I was so flipping annoyed that as I walked away from the kids in my attempt to not yell I couldn't hold back any longer and I screamed at the top of my lungs, "Happy Summer!" I was so mad, but couldn't help but joke around later and make my unnecessary drama a joke to lighten the mood. I suppose this was a good lesson for my kids to see right? 
  • I went on an airplane for the first time by myself AND rented a car. I drove through San Francisco out to wine country for a short commute of almost three hours all by myself! I felt like a badass because it was totally out of my comfort zone. But I did it with the help of my yoga breathing and my Young Living Peace and Calming. 
  • Oh, did I mentioned that fed my kids many snacks, meals, gave baths, wiped tears and more! Yup, it all adds up right? I think I even got them check-ups at the doctor and dentist.
  • Finally, I say that I am sorry when I suck as a mama. I think, for my own parenting style, that works for me. I always want my kids to feel like we are a team and being human is a reality. Love and kindness win in my world. 

I am so very grateful for this list and for the perspective of being proud of what I have done and how I continue to show up and do my very best each day. I know I can feel even better than I do now, but I know it isn't by tackling my list and being ahead of it all. Rather, it is more about the perspective that I choose to have. It is about pausing and reflecting. It is about being proud of what I have done and of how I have grown from the moments I am not proud of or things that didn't go as I had hoped. God knows my list will maybe get short when my kids are out of the house and that is not something I wish for. In fact, I long for a way to slow down how they are getting older. I long for my ability to able to truly be present with them and not think about what I am not getting done. Yes, that happens to me a lot and I wonder..."am I truly ever present with this little gifts that live under my house?" The answer to that is yes and no, but again I am not going for perfection.

So this Thanksgiving week I am curling my lips up and I am smiling! Not because I have a long list of accomplishments but because I was true to myself and I know in my heart I am so darn determined to continue to do everything I can to shine as bright as I can. I know that taking care of me so that I can truly be my best version of me is the only thing in my control. And I know the world needs all of us to dig into that place. The yogi in me knows that this light is there in all of us, even when we are down and don't know it. We always have access to it.

My friends, you ALL deserve to smile and be proud and say, "I am amazing and I am enough!"  

Have you started your list? Can you jot down the list and say good job to you? Give thanks to the YOU that you are. We need each and everyone of you...exactly as you are! Happy Thanksgiving week.

Sending you so much love, light and gratitude,

Kristin

Talk less, listen more; think less, be more—Monday check-in Nov. 14, 2016

This week I will focus on my writing and what lives deep in my heart. As I continue to have a loss of words to speak to what so many are talking about, yesterday (Sunday) I was reflecting and thinking of the coming week. In my reflection I heard clearly heard the following: talk less, listen more; think less, be more! For me it is clear that the impact I need to have on the world starts with me. I can talk all day about how a daily mediation practice is good for us all, but if I am not doing it why waste the effort of talking? Or I can lecture to my kid about whatever the life lesson is from the previous tough parenting moment (whether it be morning routine or sibling fighting etc), but what are my words worth if my actions are not what I expect of my kiddos?

Sunday I felt a deep awareness of this message that that struck a cord in my heart. What will have more impact on my beautiful daughter's heart and light—my words or my actions? The answer to that is obvious. My actions as mom and thoughtful words are what support my children and reflect my love to them; these actions reflect to my daughter (and son) my belief and trust in her (him). For example, when I express my parenting frustration in angry words or a simple, yet powerful look of frustration, it is becomes immediate to me the impact on my daughter’s heart and and sometimes even her belief in herself. And that is obviously not the goal and is hard to realize that these moments even exist as a mama. But I will say that I often hope and hang onto my ability to love them so hard. That I know is a constant. 

For me parenting is hard, especially the ability to stay calm, keep perspective and not be so reactive. Despite this daily challenge as a mama for me I know the powerful impact I can have on my daughter and son. This knowledge gives me great passion to live by these words that came to me: talk less, listen more; think less, be more. Thus, I promise to continue to strive to share my love and belief in my daughter (and son) through my listening and my being. My actions will make the biggest impact along with the words that I selectively choose. I think this aha-moment for me on Sunday allowed me to give myself a little break in the timing of my varied "priorities" this week and focus on being the best mama I could be. And let me tell you this wasn't as pretty as a it sounds. I have been stern, and yelled and definitely gave a look or too or said their name with the sound of disappointment already this week (and it's only Tuesday). And that is the reality of parenting. However, I have also not allowed intense parenting moments to spiral into a battle and have found myself looking into their eyes more and listening a bit more. I have stopped my crabbiness or frustration a heck of a lot quicker and tried to see their sides with love and space. Also, I know as a mom, I could work on my skill set of using my filter. This is not a strength of mine, but listening more and talking less could help encourage and hone in this oh-so-needed skill in my parenting and my life in general. :) 

As I continue to reflect on the past week, I find myself at a loss for words as to how to express all that is going in the world around me. There are many people who have articulated a lot in the last few days and used their gift of communication and community to help support many by sharing and creating love, peace and safety. I am grateful for the words and wisdom of others—thank you for those that share your gift and bring us all together.

In this time of uncertainty in our hearts and the country we live in right now I know how important our words and actions can be. We all have experienced the power and hurt of words (more some than others) in our lives (note: I am being vague on purpose here because the details are not the point). In my perspective it is clear that actions can heal. True actions of compassion and selflessness can heal. Because of this understanding I figured now is the best time to invest in me taking action of love and positivity in my life in hopes that it will spill into the rest of my life and those I come in contact with. 

So my friends, based on yesterday’s small parenting moment I couldn’t help but look within a bit more on how critical this is for me to live now in my life as a mom, but it is vital that that I reflect this in ALL that I do in my life. I can, and will and must reflect the light that I know I can be. I must listen more and be more. And if there is a moment of frustration or exhaustion or whatever the hell it is, I will ride the wave with grace, brush myself off and stand up again by focusing on what I stand for.

I stand for love, faith, confidence and surrender. I stand for being YOU all the time and listening to your heart. I stand for uniting together and being the best that you can be. How can I expect this to be my outer world before it is an actuality in my inner world? If I cannot start with being kind to me on the inside with my words and actions how can I expect this to filter into my parenting, my marriage, my teaching, my family, friends and work? 

What does starting with me look like? It might be obvious but again, I come back to my daily practices: getting my ass to bed, honoring my light by doing my daily yoga practice, nourishing myself with food and drink, choosing wisely the things I read and spend my time on, creating connection, having fun and more! When you start to think about what you talk about, do you actually put it into action? My answer to that is sometimes. My meditation is the perfect example. I often find excuses for not doing it even when I know it serves me in so many ways and not only impacts me so profoundly, but it also impacts my family/friends, students and more. I am a better me. This week it is all about showing up and walking the walk.

What if I took it a bit further? How can I talk less and listen more as a wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister, teacher, neighbor and more? How can I think less and analyze less in my mind and simply stand confident in who I am, what I stand for and how much I have actually done on a given day? When I think of the mind spinning I know I have things I spend time thinking about that are versions of me being hard on myself and don't serve me or others. This is something I can choose to do or choose not to do. For example, I always fall short of what I feel like I need to do or accomplish (in a day, week or month). This blog is a great example of that; I drafted this post on Sunday and have finally had a moment on Tuesday to make edits and add photos. And with the rest of you, my list goes on. I am trying to do a lot, but maybe the best I can and the progress forward is just enough.

Furthermore, no matter the check boxes completed on my list what should matter more is am I living each day and moment as me? Am I cultivating and surrounding myself with choices that will make my light shine brighter? This is a question that I will keep coming back to because the one thing I can control is how I take care of me (including how I react to life). I am the one that can control how I love me and talk to me. And this will, without a doubt, show up in how I parent and how am in all that I do in this world.

My deep hope is that that taking care of me first by listening more and being more will spill into my kids and into the world. It is my deep hope that I can look within each day and continue to choose things that serve me so that I can be the best version of me. And instead of worry if I have expressed myself in the right way in this post I will simply think less about it. I know these words are from my heart and what I will be focusing on this week. The power and wisdom I learn from parenting is profound and I am grateful for that. I am grateful that today I showed up and shared my passion and hopes.

Will you join me this week in taking action in doing what you know will brighten your light? For me it is talk less and listen more; think less and be more. What will serve you? I know you have this wisdom and I know when we take care of us and shine, we can stick together, united with love and peace.

Thank you for reading and for being YOU; shine bright!

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin 

You are you and I am me; we are exactly how we are meant to be!
— Kristin Gourde

Monday Check-in: Breathing - Nov. 7, 2016

How am I? 

I am in a rut and I am better than I've ever been! Why? Because despite having a tough week and not feeling the best, I know I have support, tools such as yoga, meditation, gratitude and more to get back up. I consider last week's challenging moments a paper cut. Why was this last week harder than some? I had some tougher moments emotionally this week but it wasn't a whole day; each time it was just a moment. What a gift. Also, based on how I feel, I am reminded that what I'm doing right now for self-care is not the right balance. I am not sleeping enough or eating the right foods or doing a consistent and solid yoga practice. And I know that needs to change. However, I also know that the hardest part is starting. I'm learning a lot right now in my yoga training (online Vinyasa Krama training with Rod Stryker). And in that training he talks about the Law of Continuity. It essentially means like attracts like and thus, we tend to keep doing what keeps us out of balance because it feels good. Sometimes doing the same thing, even if it makes us feel crappy, makes us feel better than making a change. Wow, can I resonate with that because that is exactly where I am. I know what I need to do, but there is a lot of resistance to doing it. I think we all can relate to this in some way. Think of the months where you have a consistent workout schedule. Then life happens and you get out of your rhythm and getting back to the schedule that made you feel good is so much harder.

Below I have quickly broke down a bit of what my rut seems to consist and what I know I need more of. Also, you can read about how last week's Queen Allowina did. And don't forget to think about you. Maybe reading this will get you thinking about what is going on with you because I know reflection can always help me have better weeks, days or moments. 

My rut: 

  • Not sleeping enough 
  • Drinking too much caffeine
  • Being hard in myself, and I mean really hard 
  • My mind is spinning and I am not stopping it (oh I want to write a whole post on this one)
  • Perhaps trying to do too much at once? But I feel the fire, so I will just keep it going with grace and a planner/spreadsheet. 
  • Not as patience or as kind as I know i can be, especially to kiddos 
  • More anger 
  • Food stuff crept in a bit, but knowing my triggers it is again, just a moment and I can move forward and grow!

What do I need? 

  • More sleep
  • More meditation that allows some a.m. practices on the days I am not teaching early
  • More water. I was with my daughter on Thursday and Friday and she drank a lot of water. I thought I would give it a try and I feel a ton better. More days like that!
  • More being and less thinking. That's right. More BEing! One of my amazing teachers would always remind us that we are "human beings, not human doings!" Dang, I need someone to say that to me every day!
  • Continue to give myself grace at the rate I am building my business. It takes time to create something great right?

How did allowing go? 
Last week my theme of the week was to be Queen Allowina! I wanted to embrace the mess of life and allow various feelings, the mess of the house, and simply not being perfect into my week. So how did it go? 

Queen Allowina's reflection of last week:

I was so surprised (and not surprised) that I resisted the heck out of allowing. It was the most painful attempt at trying to be laid back. In all honestly, it showed up the most in my parenting. For some reason the kids were a handful last week and into the weekend. For a good part of the week I thought their behavior and the parenting frustrations were me not being patient until I saw the kids get the best of my husband (he rarely gets frustrated with the kids). Phew, it wasn't just me. As the week progressed I found myself resisting allowing the mess and allowing the crazy morning routines and being behind on what feels like everything. For most of the week I was sure as a mom I have no clue what I am doing; but don't we all have parenting moments when we wonder what the...? 

Last week I found myself having an angry and impatient tone of voice with the kids, and even raising my voice when I they would continue to not listen! The positive: I realize it is important to not allow unkind behavior, but at the same point I realize I must only allow the lessons to come from the place of love. So Sunday, on the way to swimming lessons with both kids, we went over our four rules:

1. Listen to mom and dad the first time
2. Kindness (kind words and actions such as hitting, biting etc.)
3. No name calling (believe it or not I am the worst at this). For example I joke around that I am "mean mommy." After the intense parenting morning (for both my hubby and I) we were going over the rules in the car and my three-year old son says to me "mean mommy is name calling!" Hot damn he was so right. How did I miss that one?
4. No back talk

A big thanks to my friend for helping me create these rules because when I think I might lose it as a mom and feel so lost and unsure of what next I go back to these. And it helps me to realize that these aren't Kid's Rules, but Family Rules. I must be kind in my guiding and parenting, even if they are acting like a-holes.  

As far as allowing others to feel, well I realize this will be an ongoing opportunity because I quickly take on the feelings of others and have it negatively impact my moments. But I know I am solely in charge of my own emotions and others have the right to feel. Thus, Queen Allowina will continue. 

Finally, I allowed my Thursday post to just get posted when I finally can edit and add pictures. It was done on Wednesday and that my friends, is the kind of week I had as far as all-hands-on-dec with the kiddos. Oh well, it is just a blog post. I allow right?. :) :) 

What next?

I am going to keep it simple this week. I am going to commit to my daily practice, water, sleep and grace when it comes to the to-do’s, both work and home. The list is long and the passion is deep, but I am only one person and my best this week will be enough. I realized in being more aware last week that my anger is stemmed by never feeling like I can get enough done or be enough for people or sleep the right amount, etc. etc.

What I know I can control and do Now is breathe. I often joke around that I am the yoga teacher that doesn't breathe. Unfortunately, it isn't a joke. I don't breathe very well most of the days (again, another opportunity for more writing on this gem). This week my focus to support me is "I will breathe!" I will breathe in and out as calmly and deeply as I can. I know how I feel after a yoga practice with intentional breathing. Why don’t I do this in my everyday life? Last week taking a drop essential oil (I have been loving the Gratitude oil) and cupping my hands to smell and breathe helped calm my body and drop into the present moment. The breath is our foundation for life and greatly connected to the quality of the mind. Why not start today? 

What are your plans for this week?

As always, take a moment to think about last week. What felt good and what would you like more of? Is there something you are doing a lot of that is actually keeping you out of balance? Do you need an extra yoga class or some extra sleep? How can you stay grounded and calm in the week we are approaching with Tuesday’s election and I could imagine a busy life and mind? Schedule something in for you if you can. And lastly, are you breathing? Breathe with my please. And tell me how it's going; I would love to hear!

Life is such a gift and feel so very grateful to have the time to reflect, share and grow.

Thank you so much for reading and more importantly, thank you so much for being YOU! Have a beautiful week. 

Peace and love to y'all!

Kristin

The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings.
— TKV Desikachar