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


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.


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.


Be Where You Are

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. 


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,


2019 UPDATE: I am excited to write an updated post for what is happening in 2019 regarding living my yoga, my favorite resources, and even a link to reviews on yoga mats (because we all know this can be a battle). I look forward to sharing soon.

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 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 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,


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,



Pain of Not Practicing

In early August I found myself more anxious, negative and more. I began to inquire and become curious. After a little bit I quickly realized that my yoga practice, in particular my meditation practice, had become inconsistent. I was consumed by the busy schedules and long days of summer. Additionally, I was internally challenging meditation and its benefits to me on a subtle level. On an early afternoon in  August, I sat down at my computer and wrote a bit about how the pain of not practicing was too strong for me and I was ready to commit again. As I read through this again today before posting I cannot help but be reminded of how important sitting is for me each day. Note: if you don't have time to read the story, scroll down to the list at the bottom that shows my own personal experience of the pain vs. benefit for me when I am NOT practicing vs. when I AM practicing. It is powerful.

Written, Aug. 11, 2016 - The Pain of Not Practicing

Today I feel compelled to write; I want to share with you a little more of my story, specifically my yoga journey and the positive impact it has had on my life. The title of this post comes from a personal story that I have heard Rod Stryker talk about more than once. Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga and the author of The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom (which I often reference). In order to set the stage for my perspective of not practicing vs. practicing and the impact on my life I would like to provide additional background. 

In the article, "The Secret to Making Positive Life Changes" found in full at the Huffington Post here, Rod Stryker explains that making changes in life are hard for so many of us and "it's all about pain" he writes in the article. Rod explains, "In short, as long as you identify change as being more powerful than not changing, odds are that you won't change."  He says, "our desire to avoid pain is why we find it difficult to start or sustain a new habit or achieve our goals." 

In this article he tells the story of his earlier years of practicing and his discussion with his teacher about his practice. Rod Stryker says it best when he writes (find full article here):

Despite all the benefits it provided me, despite being aware of how much better my life was whenever i did it, I failed to do it consistently. Curious about how to overcome my resistance and convert my enthusiasm for it into a regular practice I approached my teacher.

“What do you feel like when you don’t do it,” he asked.

“Not so great,” I said. “I feel less clear, less inspired, less confident, less comfortable.”

“Great,” he said. “Keep that at the forefront of your mind. The more mindful you are of the pain of not doing it, the less likely you are to not practice.” I remember thinking, “That’s it? ‘Recall the pain of not doing it,’ that’s the secret to practicing regularly?” It took time, but I would eventually learn that my teacher had asked me to apply the critical element that determines practically all human behavior — the desire to avoid pain. Our desire to avoid pain is why we find it difficult to start or sustain a new habit or achieve our goals.

This story has stuck with me and is the biggest reason why I get on my mat and why I find a daily meditation practice. The pain of not practicing is significantly stronger than the challenge to actually practice. In recent personal reflections I am have realized that there is a powerful correlation to happiness when I am practicing versus my suffering when I am not practicing. 

As I have mentioned before, Rod Stryker's Four Desires book is my compass and has helped me remain calm and confident on good days and hard days, especially when I felt so sad and alone when my own issues were challenging me. My dharma code (purpose) was created from the exercises in this book and continues to serve me and keep me grounded in me. Your dharma code is meant to serve you in big and small challenges. I have personally felt the positive impact of a daily practice in my day-to-day experiences and healing of my heart as I climbed out of a very low time of my emotional and spiritual self when my disordered eating issues were very prevalent. 

I share this story and thought on change with you because it is one that has greatly impacted me—specifically in the way that I live my life and my perspective on the importance of a daily practice. However, in the last three months, my daily practice has been challenged by my mind telling me that I am too busy, and to try to see if I can tap into that inner teacher without quieting my mind. A part of me feels that this little blip of inconsistent practice is the rebel in me asking, "does this practice thing really make a difference?" After three months of real data from my own experiences, my conclusion: daily practice matters most definitely!  

What am I noticing without a consistent practice? I have listed below my key disturbances when I do NOT practice and the positive effect of when I DO practice. Again, as I read through this list I am inspired and encouraged to keep showing up for me each day because the positive effects are much more enjoyable; why would i want to suffer? Again, it is easy to see here that the pain of not practicing is definitely greater than the challenge to find the time to practice. 

Inconsistent Practice vs. Consistent practice:

1. Busy Mind (ALL over the place place) vs. Steady Mind

I have recently noticed that my mind is a lot more distracted and less one-pointed. For example, the last call that I had with my coach I used the metaphor of me on a track with ten lanes, and each lane is one of my competing priorities. What is a girl going to do? My head is spinning and I care about them ALL. How can I move forward with all of them? I know, make a spreadsheet? Or, how about work harder? Or better yet, let me get my post-it notes out because that always solves the problem. Fast forward one week later and I am realizing that my mind has not had the opportunity to be quiet every day for a while (mainly because I do my practice at night and I am so tired I fall asleep or create more anxiety by trying to stay awake just to meditate). This obviously needs to shift (and already has to the morning most days).

2. Anxiety/Fear vs. Faith

I have a lot more anxiety in the last couple months. I know I am not alone in this regard because of all that is happening in the world and in particular, in the United States with the intense political scene. However, from my point-of-view, feeling jumpy and worrying about every the little thing is starting to creep up. I go from normal thinking to the worst-case scenario in literally 5 seconds. I have to walk myself off the ledge by actually feeling what it feels like to know everything is okay. That technique has saved me—but I know that I can do more than that. I know that when I have a consistent practice, with the minimum of a daily meditation practice, the ease and faith in life become more effortless. That is something worth stopping this busy life for.

3. Anger vs. Peace an Love

When I am not practicing I feel angry fast. I am annoyed with my kids faster than normal and I am quick to yell and focus on the stuff that actually doesn't matter. Does it really matter if they pick up their pajamas or if we are late to school? Of course I want them to be responsible and I will have to figure out a calm and consistent approach to that issue, but getting angry by mumbling under my breath or simply expressing anger to the kiddos is not valuable to them or my physical body. It immediately puts me in the fight-or-flight stress response and that isn't good for anything, especially as I know my cortisol is low and I am battling hormones (more on that another day). I notice when I am meditating daily, I don't give as many shits about the small stuff. You know that book, Don't Sweat The Small Stuff? Someone should write a meditation version that says, When You Meditate You Won't Sweat the Small Stuff. :) 

4. Self-Doubt vs. Strong Intuition

When I meditate daily, I begin to trust my intuition and inner voice. Thus, when I am not meditating I have SO MUCH MORE DOUBT. I vacillate a lot more what to do next, the little things, or choice A or B. However, when I take the time to find quiet in my mind, my inner teacher and voice is much more present in my waking moments and non-meditative moments. Thus, I can make the choices that are in my highest good. I am fairly confident that this is the case because answers arrive so much quicker when I have been connecting to something higher than me. I trust in me, I trust in life and I trust in others.

5. Negativity vs. Gratitude

This one is pretty easy to explain, but comes with a recent story. When I wake up and/or have missed my meditation for a day or two, I find myself focusing on what sucks. You know what I am talking about—that buzz-killer negativity. For example, yesterday morning I woke up and within seconds of me sitting to meditation, my littlest one was up and I was on full-on mommy duty. I also knew I would not get a break all day/night because he was just getting over a fever and we would have another low-key day (translation – no gym drop-off or preschool that day). What happened for me was a quick shift of realizing what was in front of me and I immediately complained to my husband about what he didn’t do to help me that particular morning. Oh wait, did I forget all he does every day or the fact that I was complaining about things so small that would take me a total of ten minutes or the fact that he was about to leave to an important meeting within the hour? I could feel his energy shift (rightfully so because I was not being kind) and then realized, wow, that is a lot of negativity coming from one lady. I made the choice to fight back and find gratitude and grace in my day. My point here is this: When I have time to quiet my mind, set my intention for the day and feel the gratitude of life just by being, I can easily slip into living my gratitude. This positively effects my day and those I come in contact with. Yesterday, the first few hours felt like an uphill battle for me and I know now in reflection how important this time is for me and for the family that I oh so love.

Thus, as you can see, it doesn't make any sense to "do one more thing" without finding the time to sit on my butt and quiet my mind. One of my yoga teachers, often reminds me, "tush to the cush!" and rightfully so. My practice can be as short as 10 minutes to as long as 30 minutes. The longer I have been practicing, the longer I prefer to sit for 20-30 minutes and/or twice a day. However, it truly doesn't take long to tap into that place inside of you that is unchanging and ever present. When you quiet your mind, you can quickly tap into that part of you that has peace in your heart always and is connected to something higher than you. 

Because of this and because of how quick the benefit of practice is, I have committed to a 10-minute practice every day, simply to gain confidence in my ability to set aside time for my meditation. I can already see a difference and sometimes those ten minutes are the high of my day. The ten minutes give back greatly in the positive impact on my entire day and days to follow. I can immediately notice a difference when I begin to practice again and the cumulative effect of practicing days and weeks in a row can be felt. Not only do I notice it, but also my close friends and husband can tell a noticeable difference in me. My husband will sometimes hand me my bolster and ask me to "meditate." I think he gets it sometimes more than I do.

So with all of that, I ask you one question: Do you want a steady mind and more peace, love, and faith in your life? If you feel that even one of those areas in your inner world and life could be positively impacted, then I strongly encourage you to find even just a couple minutes to sit and quiet your mind or simply think about making that change in your future (I know we are all ready for change at a different pace).

Where can you find meditations? A lot of people have said they really like the MindSpace and the Headspace app for mediation and there are free meditations everywhere. If you are a beginner I would be mindful of what you select, knowing that the most accessible meditation for almost anyone is the meditation on the breath. I enjoy Rod Stryker's meditations from his Four Desires CD and I am sure there are many more available. Additionally, I plan to offer a free meditation in the coming month to make this simple meditation easily accessible to you. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have on resources and tell me how you are doing if you are trying something new, I would LOVE to hear!

Birthday Reflections

My birthday was last week and it was filled with love, celebration, mommy hood, teaching, staying up past my bedtime and birthday wishes/songs. I also now share my birthday with the death of our beloved Prince who left this world too early. After an amazing day and a day of sadness for the loss of this inspiring legend and a weekend plus of rain, I sit in the quiet of the afternoon. I reflect. I pause. I breathe.

This last year was a year of change, a year of blessings, and a year of a lot of healing.

As I reflect, I cannot help but think back to the end of March 2015 when I completed the Four Desires training with Rod Stryker. This was a critical part of my journey and the start of some clarity and traction for me. It was a weekend of so much honesty and feelings: pure authenticity. It was a pivotal point in my life where I dug deep to see what might be holding me back from my happiness and what might be causing some of my internal suffering. As we all know, our internal struggles and happiness impact those around us the most. You know the saying, “If mama a’int happy, nobody happy!” I think I get that one now. Let’s just say that I left that training with a lot of tears and a new knowledge of my inner compass, my dharma (purpose).  

The Four Desires book (by Rod Stryker) is one that guides you to help you find and live your dharma. One of the amazing trainers with Rod reminded our small group that living your dharma is there to help you know how to act when your house is on fire or you-know-what is hitting the fan in your life. What is your soul’s purpose and how will you act when things are going well AND not going well? My hard work served me well and is still at the heart of my life right now. Are there things that are holding me back? Of course! I am human and this is a PROCESS. But, when I start to freak out on the kids, myself or whatever, I pause and ask myself something like, “Is this congruent with your dharma?” Most often it isn’t and I am forced to take a couple breaths and act a little different.

In addition to knowing and putting words to my dharma, this training also helped me to create a sankalpa (resolution). Part of my sankalpa was to ‘start my blog!’ and to ‘meditate daily.” Both of these I have accomplished. I have a place to write and a consistent meditation practice, that when missed, is deeply felt (more on that later). I want to write A LOT more than I have been writing, but this whole blogging thing is new to me. For example, about two weeks ago I spent time drafting a post while I was dealing with sick kiddos and a hubby in California. Therefore, I never had a moment to edit the darn thing and now it isn’t relevant. I could go back and change certain parts of it, but the fun of a blog, in my mind, is to share the relevant. It is about creativity and the now. Thus, what I wrote then isn’t relevant today. And so I give myself a little grace as I figure my own intention and rhythm of this blog. I know in my heart I feel complete when I write, share, and reflect. And so I will carry on.

I thought it might be fun, since I love lists and all, to bullet out some of my highlights from 2015/2016.

2015/2016 Highlights

  • I trusted in the world and sent my sweet daughter to kindergarten. It was harder than I thought to watch her walk into the school without me by her side. I will never forget it. To see her walk in confidently now and her growth in less than a year inspires me. She is such an amazing light!
  • I went on my first airplane ride (the day after kindergarten started) without the kids and with the hubby since the birth of my first child six plus years ago. It was amazing to be away and have a little space, and connection. It was 100% grown-up time.
  • I ran two 10-mile races in the fall. They were both equally challenging in the different ways, each leaving me feel proud to show up for me and try something difficult.
  • I completed a Barre Training and began teaching barre class at the amazing Blooma studio. It was the next thing I wanted to explore in the fitness world. I am so grateful that I took a leap of faith in me and for ALL the support that surrounds me as I grow through this challenge. I am working on becoming more efficient and confident in each and every class. You have to start somewhere right?
  • For the first time as a married adult, I did my VERY BEST to embrace the holidays and be grateful for the mess and craziness of it. I saw more holiday sparkle in the eyes of my kids than every before. I think I might be able to say that I no longer “hate” the holidays. I know, I was definitely a ba-humbug. This was likely due to the work I have done on gratitude. I will definitely be sharing this with you too!
  • I passed the 1-year mark of consistently teaching yoga classes! I have been teaching for two plus years, but I didn’t start teaching on a regular basis until January of 2015. I am finding my voice as a teacher and am so thankful for all of my teachers to inspire me to keep going on this teaching journey. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am so grateful for this opportunity!
  • I started this blog! I had a few bumps in the road, but it happened with my determination and the right resources and amazing amazing support. I look forward to sharing even more this next year!
  • I have worked HARD on my own healing physically, emotionally, and mentally! From eliminating foods and doing the LEAP MRT Food Sensitivity test and protocol, to challenging my thoughts, actions and fears in ways I have never done. Thank God for my support system…you know who you are. And thank you for those professionals that have guided me on my path! I am learning to LOVE and ACCEPT ALL of me NOW!
  • I rode a bike on a street with cars! Oh my! Yes, we are bike shopping (finally) and I have only desired to bike on a path, but I went for it on Saturday during my date and it was a blast! This likely seems odd to most, but for me this is a big win!
  • I keep showing up for me, and my family to make the most of each and every day the best that I can!

With that I say, thank you for reading. And more importantly, thank you for taking the time to reflect on your moments, days, weeks and years. If you are like most of us you are your harshest critic, and SO FOCUSED on what next, that you forget to tell yourself, “awesome job!” I challenge you to do just that. How can you LOVE yourself up today and feel PROUD of the YOU that you are…TODAY?!!!

To close I want to share with you something I did on Monday night, just a couple days into this new and fresh year of my mid-thirties. I went in the “10 Items or Less” lane with at least 25 items. GASP!!! Okay…in all fairness it was almost 10 p.m., it all fit in my basket and the line was empty…at least when I started. Let’s just say I might not do that again. :) However, the cashier said to me, “rules are meant to be broken.” I smiled back at him with a confident smirk as I thought about the last year and how making your own rules...might just be best.  

In love, light and SO MUCH gratitude,



My Yoga Path

As I mention on my About Page, I am a yoga teacher and am a lover of yoga! I fell in love with the practice of yoga in 2001 when I took my first series of classes in college. I knew I was hooked because of how I felt after going to class. I also loved the lessons my teacher taught us, with one in particular that resonated with me and still does. He reminded us how a flexible body will keep an open mind. This was a time of my life that I had been blessed with amazing college experiences, including a life-changing study abroad program. I studied in Fremantle, Australia at the University of Notre Dame Australia, in the study abroad program through my college for a semester. It was during this traveling and studying that my eyes were open to a bigger world outside of what I had ever experienced. I learned a lot about myself and my mind was more open then it had ever been. Thus, hearing these words just months after my return made me commit to never stop practicing yoga. I was determined to keep my body and mind open.

After the class series I found myself rolling out my yoga mat and jamming out to Moby on my mat in the privacy of my room. Yes, my teacher played the entire CD during class. It felt good to connect to my mind and body and It felt so good to have learned something I could do in my own space. I am a long-time athlete and lover of moving my body, but this was the first time I experienced something physical that I could do in my bedroom and that connected me to me.

After college and my first experience of yoga, I continued to practice at various studios and on my mat at home through the years. In my early years of practicing, I was lucky to find amazing teachers, especially Kat Carrol and Jessica Rosenberg. I loved it so much I was lucky enough to practice and spend a weekend away taught by Beryl Bender Birch.  I loved learning about the history and philosophy of yoga and loved how it made my body feel. I also practiced it a lot during my eating disorder treatment and found great comfort in the connection, and inner strength it gave me.

When I was laid off in 2013 I decided it was time to listen to the strong desire to help inspire others. Thus, I sought out yoga training and a personal training certification. I knew that if I could teach yoga I could use that knowledge to teach anything. Additionally, I yearned to learn more about yoga and knew that studying to become a teacher would not only help me to become a yoga teacher, but it would also help me to find that beautiful mind-body connection that hooked me in my first yoga class.

I had high expectations of the training and look forward to learning how to be a yoga teacher. However, I got so much more than that. The 9-month training was during a time in my life that was full of changes (moving, starting as a personal trainer, getting pregnant with my second). Each weekend I was in training I felt a deeper connection to myself and learned so much that I could apply to my life. Through the practices I experienced I became dedicated to my daily meditation practice. Pausing and being still in meditation every day became an anchor in my life.  I came out of training filled with more faith and confidence than I had in a long time. My close friends and family could feel something different. And I could to. I attribute a lot of it to my daily meditation practice that was given to me by my amazing teacher, Tanya Boigenzahn. My teacher Jessica Rosenberg had been encouraging me to put my "tush to the cush" every day for a while. Wow was she right. I will be writing more about my yoga and meditation practices/experiences in my future writing. You will quickly learn my passion for a daily meditation practice as I share more.

I had my second baby a few months after my training and encountered some postpartum and eating disorder challenges. Thus, I sought out support and teachings from my teacher again. Through these sessions she led me to some of the practices and exercises in The Four Desires book by Rod Styker. I immediately fell in love with the teachings from this book because it helped me to dig deep into my soul to understand why I experienced pain and what my soul's purpose is. This clarity took a lot of work. In addition to working one-on-one with my teacher I was also blessed with the opportunity to go to Rod's Four Desires training in Minneapolis the spring of 2015. It was a life-changing weekend for me and one that I am still leaning into as I dig out of some of my eating disorder and health-healing stuff.

I am drawn to all teachings (yoga and more) that help us to be our best self, that help us to find ways to find happiness and truly thrive in this crazy world we live in. I am on a determined path of my own to keep digging, learning and growing. This website would likely not be a reality right now had I not done the work laid out in the Four Desires book. Here is a great article, "Yoga and Your Four Soul's Desires" by Yogarupa explaining a little more about yoga tradition and The Four Desires.

As I keep listening and learning I realize that living my practice (sadhana) is critical to having more happy and peace in my life. I thought I would close by sharing a little of what my yoga practice looks like for me right now. This changes as my life changes. For example, after I had a baby, meditating for 10 minutes a day was a huge commitment and practice for me. Now that I have more space and time (when my son actually sleeps) I have added in more. In addition, I have shared some of my favorite things about yoga and my favorite resources.

My Daily Practice of Yoga ( Winter 2016)

  • Daily meditation practice - 15 minutes minimum and sometimes twice a day
  • Being kind, patient, and choosing love in my parenting and daily actions
  • Self care: sleep (I'm trying), nourishing foods (also a challenge), movement, reflection, and as much play/laughter as I can find.
  • Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep): I recently have committed to two practices a week. More rest is a theme needed in my life (as I am writing while the house is sleeping...eek)!
  • Yoga Asana (yoga postures): I recently realized now that I have more time, I am committing to doing yoga asana every day. I strive for 15 minutes minimum, but if I have a tough day I will do just one pose. No rules right? :)

Favorite things about YOGA (asana and meditation)

  • I love the way yoga connects me to my body and breath. I sometimes think that because I teach and practice yoga I must be awesome at breathing. And then I am humbled each time I step on my mat, a constant reminder that it is a process and commitment to keep showing up to give me the gift of the breath.
  • Yoga helps me to find my true self and connect to the part of me that does not need to suffer and that is content right now. The part of me that doesn't need a new outfit or a nice car or even to fit into my clothes.
  • When I am practicing, yoga I am kinder and more patient to myself and others. It helps me to be my best self.
  • Yoga helps me build my faith and self love
  • Connection: to something bigger than me and to amazing people I come in contact with because of the practices and community that surrounds me.
  • I get to wear cute yoga pants (totally kidding here; just making sure you are still reading).
  • Yoga has taught me of the power of intention and how i can quickly change my energy and reaction to a situation.

Favorite Resources

Yoga gratitude

I am so very grateful for the path that I am on and all that I have learned because of my practice of yoga. I am so grateful for my amazing teachers along the way. There are so many who have touched me in various ways of my life and practice and I am forever grateful for you. I will keep practicing and showing up to be my best self. My intention is to live my purpose and do everything I can to thrive and inspire others. I want to be an example to my kids, my family, and all those I come in contact with!

Whether you are a long-time yogi, just starting to practice or never touched a yoga studio or mat in your life I am so grateful to have you here reading! My favorite thing about yoga is to weave it into real life and I hope you enjoy my stories and experiences.

In love, light and gratitude,