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

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

Wine country, you healed me again

Just two weekends ago I was drinking expensive wine and eating delicious freshly cooked food. It was an amazing weekend surrounded by beautiful scenery, awesome people, and with the love of my life. Being away from "real life" helped me to connect with a part of myself that I forget. As I have briefly shared I have had challenges with disordered eating on and off for years (8th grade to be specific). Each time it seems to come on is typically during a time of change, whether it be something that is going on in my life (for example when I had a baby or when I got laid off from my job) or something as simple as the season changing or the holidays. All things 'change' are a trigger for me, and now that I have had time to reflect and be curious over the years I am learning a lot! 

Prior to our trip to Sonoma I was feeling some of the "food stuff" (for lack of a better way to explain it) come up. I was thinking so much about what I ate and the amount and is it the right food and will I feel okay? The thoughts were frequent and consumed a lot of my thinking—is it what I am eating or when I am eating or how much caffeine I am having that is making my clothes continue to feel tight? What is the deal? Was I worried about looking a particular way or to feel good and even sexy since I would be around my hubby? I wasn't sure, but what I can tell you is that it was a bit of a challenge prior to leaving and I had to keep telling myself one moment and day at a time. 

Today I am curious as I think about our trip to wine country. It was a unique opportunity to go to different events where everything was provided for us—food, drink, and transportation. I didn't have to think about food as much as I do when I am feeding my kiddos constantly (and when it is my job to decide, buy and cook food for the family). I did notice that one big worry that sometimes comes up when we aren't at home is, "will I get enough to eat." This almost sounds silly because of the abundance of food I have access too in reality, but in recent years my food sensitivities have provided it difficult to find something to eat in social settings. It has been a challenge for me and I think a part of why I have a bit of social apprehension. When you aren't sure if you will have food you can eat sometimes you don't even want to go out and you have one more thing to think about. Should I eat or should I pack something or will there be food? And often times I just try not to care, but it is a real variable in social situations and cannot be overlooked.

In fact, last year when I went on the same trip to Sonoma, I was so afraid that they wouldn't have food that I could eat that I packed a lot of food in my suitcase. I had brown rice tortillas and peanut butter and bars and seeds and more. It was a bit excessive. However, after last year's trip I healed in a unique way with my eating-disorder issues. I realized that I would have enough to eat and that trying to have a very restrictive diet was just TOO MUCH for me. And in fact, being restricted was and still can be a huge trigger for me. 

To continue on last year's healing for a moment, I came back from the last year's trip realizing how free and able I was to be present with my body and food; I actually enjoyed food again and it was fun. Unfortunately, and fortunately shortly after our trip I completed a food sensitivities test called the LEAP MRT Food Sensitivities test; the diet required me to eat a very restrictive diet. The main focus of the diet was to eliminate foods that I reacted to in order to create healing in my gut. The theory of this test and the reintroduction protocol is that it isn't the food that is causing you to react to the food; rather, it is the state of your gut that matters. Thus, if you eliminate these foods for a while and then strategically reintroduce them you have time to heal and the end result: eat more foods and feel good! I was all about it when I received my initial results and was very dedicated until the holidays rolled around. Once the holidays hit and I had been going strong for weeks it got SO HARD. In short it was a mind F, and I kept feeling like a failure. Each time I would retry to strategically introduce a food I would fail or not be perfect, I would feel so much shame. My nutritionist worked closely with me and basically pulled me from the protocol sometime in January or early February. The message that she helped me understand was I had done enough healing and worrying so much about the process of "testing" foods was actually causing me more harm than the actual food. I was shocked and concerned and worried. How is stopping now a good idea?

Stopping in the middle of the process of the food sensitivity test was a challenge for me emotionally and mentally. Had I failed? Am I not as determined as I think I am to get something accomplished? Over time I realized I had to let go of my own critique of how it went. I was not a failure and I actually did great for a while. To give you a little insight, for a good 6-8 weeks I ate mainly cucumber, avocado, buckwheat, brown rice, turkey, cumin, salt and mango. It was a pretty limited list, especially in the vegetable department. 

As I fast forward to right now I ask myself this: did doing the LEAP MRT diet help me heal? I would absolutely say yes. For example, I would get incredibly sick if I would eat oatmeal or an almond a year ago. Now, if I eat a little bit I am okay and my stomach doesn't blow up. Also, the summer of 2015 I couldn't eat a salad without getting very sick and the summer before that everything I ate needed to be either cooked or blended. It was awesome to have your food blended or cooked in the heat of the summer (or maybe not so much). And you wonder why I felt restricted, angry, confused and more. The good news is that this summer (2016) I ate salads without getting sick and it was glorious! It isn't perfect, but each day I am learning more and more. This gut healing is a journey and isn't ever going to be perfect. So I will lean into that  and try to do my best regarding what I need each week. 

Reflecting on these eating issues brings me back to the recent weekend away in wine country. This time I knew there would be food that I could eat and I had a lot better trust and lack of worry that I would actually have food to eat. This freedom and trust led to a heightened awareness of the present moment. I was not thinking about what next for food or if I was eating enough of the right food. I was enjoying each moment that I was presented with. I was also reminded that what feeds me isn't food, but rather being connected—when I am connected to others it is strongly correlated to when I thrive and do well. I absolutely LOVED being with people in an environment where I could be 100% me. I was in a group of people that knew nothing about me. Thus, there weren't any pre-conceived ideas about what I am, what I stand for or anything. And that was amazing. I felt grounded in me. I was confident, present, and so grateful for this space away. In fact, I had no idea at the time how much of an impact being away and in this situation would be for my healing heart. I also think it is important to note, my stomach was a bit off because of the unique food I was eating, but I made it through and having the experience was healing to all of me, my mind body and soul.

When I got home I felt a huge sense of sadness. And yes, it might be the amazing wine or being with my sexy husband that I was missing, but when I look beyond the expensive wine and experience I know in all of my heart these things:

1. CONNECTION is a huge part of my happiness, and truly all of us humans walking this earth. Of course we all need varying degrees of connection and different things work for different people 

2. Not having to think about food is HUGE! As a mama and the chef of the family, sometimes that is all I am thinking about. It feels like there isn't an hour that goes by where I am not planning the next meal. Additionally, I SUCK at meal planning. And I mean really bad. I used to be good at meal planning when it was just the two of us, but with kids and picky eaters I just seem to feel off. If I make something they will like, it is lacking the vegetables that I like and if it is something I would eat, I need to have something in addition that they would eat. You get my point. 

3. Space. Having space for real life was healing. Sometimes being away makes you appreciate all that you have. And for me, spending time with the love of my life helped me realize why I am doing this crazy family-life with him. At the foundation of it all, LOVE!

How are things now that I am back? Well, to say the least, the first week I felt a bit tired and spacey. I was a little scattered with a few things that I am starting in my own work, not to mention we have a lot of fall-calendar fun happening that is keeping us busy. Despite all of this I am trying to fill up my heart with gratitude, faith and love. And most of all I want to keep it all going with curiosity surrounding each of my moments and days.

Yes, the eating stuff seems to be like a light switch. When I am home and back in charge of everything my eating issues are close by, sometimes closer than I would like. I wonder if I need to organize my house differently or why it keeps coming back. But I know deep in my heart that it is because eating issues and thought patterns and even behaviors are what I know. And I also know that CHANGE is hard. When we resit to change we are afraid of hurting and being in pain. This is a lesson I have learned in yoga, and in particular with my studies with Rod Stryker. And because of all of this, when I heal it feels amazing because I am free and feel more like myself than every. However, I think there is something deep inside that knows that change will be hard and is scared and so much more. Thus, I must carry on. I must share this now because maybe, just maybe I will inspire myself and others to keep showing up. To know that your dark side is there to teach you and that you can keep making more and more choices that will align with you and you can and will thrive. I know I can create new patterns that change the old patterns and I know I can and will continue to feel better and heal. 

That is it my friends. I do not have any amazing conclusions from this trip except that I know that I can heal even more. I feel called to share even more and I feel called to keep showing up to my life. There is a lot going on in the world right now, but what we what we can control are the choices we make and how we react to it.

In love, light and so much gratitude,

Kristin