self love

dope(a)me turns 4

February 1 marks the end of year three, and the stepping into year four of my business. It’s been a wild ride with lots of learning, falling, growing, adapting and evolving. Just pause here while I do a quick fist pump.

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For the past few weeks, knowing this milestone is approaching, I have been contemplating what fun and creative ways I can celebrate. I have landed on what feels like the perfect way for me to express my gratitude for this life, this business, and all of the people that have supported me along the way. The gift of giving back!

I came across Goodpin a couple of years ago when my good friend Lucy Dunne shared with me that one of her goals is to donate 1 million dollars to charity. Completely amazed and enthralled by her passion for giving back, I was intrigued to hear about the ease at which she was making this happen through the platform called Goodpin. Lucy set up a system where she could send money to clients with a link that made it easy for anyone to choose a charity of their choice and send that money with one click of a button.

As I sat with my own interest in participating in this platform, I started thinking about my own history of imperfections and the many times in my youth and adolescence where I took what wasn’t mine. I had an epiphany: I think Heaven and Hell are a self-made experience that is the accumulation of all choices and actions in your life. As I think about how I want to feel on my death-bed, what kind of life do I want to have the privilege of reflecting upon, what kind of memories and connections do I want to foster for myself, who do I want to be…I know that giving back to others and encouraging generosity and thoughtfulness are traits that I want more of.

So as I head into year four of dope(a)me, I have registered for Goodpin, and I am so excited for the ease at which I can donate money to people around me so that they can donate to the charities that matter the most to them. Goodpin is helping me strengthen the muscles of giving back, the neural pathways towards generosity, and the habits of community support. When I am on my deathbed reflecting on my life, I will not be jaded by the few instances of poor judgement and greed, because I will have many many more memories of good-will, heart-felt connections, and generosity, and I will have Goodpin to thank for making it fun and easy to do so.

Each month, I will announce a different class or workshop on my schedule that I will randomly choose one participant to donate $50 to. That person will be sent an email with $50 and a link through Goodpin to donate to a charity of their own choosing.

This month, I am donating twice as my way of kicking off year four! One participant at the Flow + Arrow retreat will be selected, as well as one participant in my Yoga Nidra class on Thursday (at 12:10pm) February 7 at Yoga Nova Studio.

Year four here we go!!

Reach out with questions or comments. I would love to hear your favorite creative ways of celebrating your milestones ;).

xo Marin

Learning from my shadows.....again

I received a heartfelt message from a soon-to-be friend on instagram a couple of days ago. This friend opened up about her struggle with weight, divorce, motivation, and the desire to develop a better self talk habit through daily journal writing yet a resistance to it in the form of lacking a deeper understanding of the purpose and the HOW.

Quite honestly, this message came to me at the perfect time, because I also needed the reminder. For me to stop and do a little bit of reflection and digging in to find the answer I could share and inspire for another, was the healing I needed at the time too. 

My response to her is threaded throughout the paragraphs below, however, I wanted to take some time to write it out in a way that speaks to me and speaks to anyone else who reads these words. 

The purpose of daily writing is to rewire your thought patterns. It’s not about writing the negative or the positive stuff - it’s about choosing thoughts that create space for you to be who and where you are now, which then provides you with the energy and motivation for action. It's hard to make progress or find contentment when consumed by what you don't like in yourself or what you lack. There are so many other things to think about, and there are many perspectives to try on that allows you to be honest with where you lack yet in a way that provides compassion and inspiration.

Definitely be honest about where you’re at and what you’re noticing, and then shift into how you are embracing it, what you’re learning from it, and what you’ll do to practice this shift in perspective. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves and practice our way into letting go, forgiving, accepting, and setting up action steps to move onward.

Most importantly, it’s okay to not feel okay. It’s okay to struggle and to feel as though you are retreating into yourself. It's okay to have habits and patterns that get in your way. We all do! The main difference in those who are still productive and perhaps even happy or content in their struggle, is their perspective. I try really hard to remind myself daily to embrace my imperfections, love my shadows, learn from my missteps, and just keep trying! It certainly feels better when you are engaging in life in a disciplined and internally directed way. And it feels better when you get the sleep you need and the nourishment you require.

We are human, we are imperfect, and we can be content with discontentment because it means you are alive and you have the opportunity to shift as soon as you’re ready or are forced to make a change due to life circumstances. Either way, you’ll do it eventually, and I’m right here with you. 

Every morning I wake up and look at my body in the mirror, and too often my mood is determined by the shape I see. How much did I eat yesterday? How much did I move yesterday? How did I treat myself yesterday? It becomes completely ego-centric when I allow my morning trajectory to be determined by my mind's judgment of my body's current state. There is so much more to me than the shell of my body. I have depth, and I am grateful for the opportunity this life and this body affords me. I want to step into each day with love and compassion in my heart as I embrace my shape and make healthy and mindful decisions moment to moment because that is how I navigate life with the fuel I need. 

I struggled with body image, severe depression and eating disorders for many many years. I wrote a book about my journey and my overcoming. And still, I am not immune to this very real human condition of self-doubt and depression. I struggle to stay motivated to engage with life. Sometimes I want to just sleep, and it feels difficult and consuming to engage with other people. I experience anxiety and worry that I’m not interesting. I judge myself harshly and become consumed mentally when I overeat. 

Yet, I know that being thin is not what makes me happier. It’s the pursuit of health and longevity that will invite in happiness. It’s the act of getting sweaty or taking time to meditate that brings about good feelings - at any size. I started this morning with a simple and short meditation - as I sat on a stool facing out the balcony window to take in the light and the buzz of the wind and the few cars on the road. I reminded myself - don't just do something, sit there. I noticed my mind wander to a few situations in the recent past that irked me, that disturbed me, and I can see now that there are a few things I am carrying around with me that are contributing to my low state. So often there is something real in life that has bothered me, and instead of dealing with it, I try to just let it go, yet the low vibration feeling stays with me and manifests in other ways. Our brain likes order and meaning, so it will attach to anything as a way to explain the low vibration feelings that are present. 

Focusing on needing to be thinner to be happy is just attaching to something tangible as a reason for your feelings of lack. To heal the hurt of your relationships that need mending or dissolving, and to reclaim your life with passion and purpose, you need to change the glasses that you perceive your life through. Retraining your self talk patterns is a great place to practice.

I call it being pragmatically optimistic. When I’m writing to rewire my thoughts, I start with what I notice I am feeling. I then ask myself questions about what else could be contributing, and what are some other perspectives to try on, and what’s something I can do today to learn, grow and let go. The process of asking and answering high quality questions is where the shift awaits! So, the questions I am sitting with today, and I invite you to do so as well....

  • What is one thing I can do today to mend the hurt from a past conversation or relationship that seems to be nagging on my psyche?
  • What is my self-loving and compassionate mantra to land on and repeat when I find myself engaging in a habit or pattern today that I am committed to shifting or removing from my life?
  • What am I giving myself permission to feel today?

To close, I have a beautiful quote to share from Angi Fletcher. She is a model, mother, and vulnerable advocate for body image and self-love practices. I stumbled across this and felt immediately hugged by her words. Enjoy ;) 

"There are seasons for everything. Happiness doesn't come in a body shape; health and vitality does; having more energy does; being able to move easier does; not being as depressed does. But all these things comes from what you put in your body and what thoughts you choose to believe, not just in the shape or size of your body. When I was in my thinnest body measurement wise, I was also at my thinnest capacity for love, patience, strength, adventure and happiness. Your body is your body. It is changeable, moldable, flexible and more capable than you can imagine. But it is just a shell. You are in control of your mind and what you put into your body to either make it a machine or a prison" Angi Fletcher

With acceptance and peace, space is created to shift

I have been deeply engaged and curious about a hazardous pattern I am noticing in myself. I know it is vital to take time to relax and restore my energy in between bouts of effort, intensity and growth. Yet, when I gift myself a day to relax, in comes the self-talk around being lazy, being not enough, followed by irrational fear-riddled self-talk about my lack of discipline and potential to get fat if I eat one more snack. It also pulls me away from connection, and I step out of integrity as I become the person who bails on plans and chooses to stew in loneliness and dis-ease. I find it a lot easier to not pay attention to my ego when it is inflated - or at least to not be as effected. The deflated ego rides along with pain and suffering and darkness, a much heavier cocktail to swim through.

I am face to face with this pattern every time my schedule opens up and I have space for some much need R & R. I don't want to keep myself busy out of fear of what my idle mind concocts. And I know that the more I run from something, the stronger the impulse becomes. I want to enjoy my down-time and embrace the spaciousness in my schedule when I have it.

I have two weeks off in July around my birthday, and as a gift to myself, I am taking some time now to contemplate what I have learned in this process of noticing, what I need to be aware of and what I need to practice, in order to step into spaciousness whole-heartedly, and even to give my deflated ego some space to have its pity-party but then move on. 

First of all, it's okay to struggle. And it's perfectly okay to find yourself in a pattern that is not serving you. Celebrate your awareness! Celebrate your healthy and able mind that just noticed something that carries immense possibility for growth. There will always be something that needs time and attention, so the point is not to attain perfection but to stay in the practice of noticing, accepting, creating space, and shifting in your chosen direction. I am not upset about this pattern I am observing in myself. I find it to be fascinating. What an interesting reaction to such a life-affirming practice of restoring and regenerating energy. And I know that my own suffering can be shifted into compassion in one breath. There is always a way to expand your perspective and see the light and dark at the same time - neither one being better or worse than the other - just different aspects of the human experience. I am neither the dark nor the light, I am the space that holds it all. 

Like most things, as Micheal Singer reminds us, "the problem is not the problem, it is your relationship to the problem that is the problem."

With that in mind, how is my relationship to self-care/relaxing getting in my way? 

I feed off of the feeling of progress. I absolutely LOVE being in the creative process and seeing my hard work manifest into action or results for myself and for others. While I do need to honor my downtime, there is opportunity for me to shift my relationship and actions in my self-care so that I actually feel recovered and energized from my downtime. 

I am a believer in a strong beginning and a strong ending, while allowing the middle to be flexible, adaptable and focused on finding the flow. As I gear down in July, here are the steps I will (re)invite into my day to ensure that I am honoring my self-care and not finding the need to recover from my days off.

# 1: start my day with movement that sparks some fire (fire breath, arm movements connected to breath, a walk around the block, etc.)

# 2: 30 seconds - 6 minutes of meditation (connect with the space between thoughts and breath, outdoors whenever possible) 

# 3: Pen to paper (set a timer for 10 minutes, get my creative juices flowing by free-writing or working on a project)

#4: In the evening, engage in another 30 seconds - 6 minutes meditation (give myself permission to feel whatever I am feeling, giving it space to be released as I open back up to the moment)

I know that if I follow through on these simple daily steps, I will cultivate the energy I desire. I am excited to step into the 32nd year of my life knowing that I am a bit wiser, stronger, and braver than the year before. Always growing. Always learning. Always practicing my love for life. 

Compassion requires that we get in touch with what hurts. It’s the pain, the suffering itself, that invites compassion to manifest. The intelligence of compassion brings forward a kindness that is not trying to get rid of suffering. This goes counter to the ego’s wishes. Ego only wants to be protected from pain. Compassion opens to pain.

When compassion is present, our defensiveness can relax. When our defenses are down, we can look objectively at our situations and see the true origins of our suffering. Then we can intervene skillfully to address the real causes and not just the symptoms. SO another aspect of compassion is the capacity to be with suffering as a means of coming to, and experiencing, more truth and greater freedom.

- From the Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski

 

Make today a good one ;)

Marin McCue

xoxox

Mindfulness Practice

We have everything we need to live full and happy lives. When you understand how your "machine" works, it is a whole lot easier to navigate. Your body is smart. It has to be in order to live this life, to function with the ongoing chaos inside and outside your own physical boundaries, and to continue growing from infancy until you unfold into death's grasp.

Your brain wants to heal you. It’s main job is to keep you alive. But one of the fucked up ways that it does that is to be on the lookout for danger at all times, and it is overly sensitive to little things that could potentially be dangerous. Like an unmet glance, an unmet expectation, and something as simple as déjà vu that reminds you of something that was uncomfortable in your past. We are triggered 50 to 300 times a day to feel as though we are unsafe, and in that state digestion stops, healing stops, and we lose access to higher levels of thinking. A little bit of stress is good for you but too much of anything is no longer a good thing. This is why mindfulness is so important. With mindfulness we become aware of how we are feeling and what we are thinking about. From this awareness we are able to calm down and redirect our mind towards what we want more of rather than focusing on what we do not have or where we lack.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is mono tasking. It is fully investing in this present moment as it is, even when it is terribly uncomfortable. With practice we start to realize that we are not just our emotions or our thoughts or our body or our actions. We are all of those things and none of those things. If you can witness something then you are more than the thing you are witnessing. When we develop a stronger relationship with the witness we are no longer attached to the emotional pendulum swing of our day and rather find a calm and steady state where we are witnessing our emotions and able to efficiently calm ourselves down so we can be problem solver’s rather than sitting in the energy of the problem.

The goal is not to protect ourselves perfectly because then you will not grow and you will not build the resilience, through experiential learning, that you need. Let yourself be imperfect. Let yourself be messy. Embrace yourself as a work in progress and a masterpiece right now as you are. A non-dualistic approach to life and growth that allows you to love and accept who and where you are right now while still striving and working towards your goals and your ideal future. It is when we embrace the space between where we are now and where we desire to be that we get access to a reservoir of high-quality energy and tap into the magical flow of life.

Allow every day to be a new adventure and experience, and trust that you can navigate with a clear mind and open heart by taking time each morning to ground yourself, to notice where your mind is going and how you are feeling in your body, and then create action steps and reminders that will serve who and where you are now and where you desire to be. An intimate relationship and conversation and connection with yourself in order to honour the balance between remaining unattached to the moment and fully invested in what the moment has to offer. 

Mental Health Awareness Week

2018 came in with a bang and I am reminded this week (being Mental Health Awareness Week) that I have not taken time yet to slow down and do a solid reflection and self-inquiry session with myself. This is my process of tending to my own mental health and ensuring I am listening to my body and noticing the patterns that are arising - to send more energy to what is working and redirect where I am feeling stuck or stagnant. 2018 has been one big project after another, at least a couple of events each month, and a roster full with clients, and while I am in awe of the growth and momentum that I have cultivated, I still need to remind myself to slow down, reflect, and edit my direction mindfully. 

I was fighting off a cold last week (I think I won) and to me that is a clear sign that my body needs and wants some time to feel where I am and engage in more gentle movements and self-care. My meditation habit has been slipping more occasionally, and every time I recommit to that simple five minutes of stillness, breath and presence in the morning, I notice a huge difference in my energy all day long (truth be told: I meditated for two minutes this morning and I felt amazing about that). So, to truly honor the signals I am getting and my desire to lead by example, here I am...reflecting, asking and answering high-quality questions, and recommitting to the course that will serve the sustainable growth I desire to flow through. 

What's the reminder I need today?

  • Take in quiet and peaceful moments as often as I can. Sit in gratitude and enjoy exactly who and where I am right now. 

 

What would I tell/remind a client if they were in my position right now?

  • Your body wants to heal you. It’s main job is to keep you alive. But one of the fucked up ways that it does that is that it is on lookout for danger at all times and it is overly sensitive to little things that could potentially be dangerous. Like an unmet glance, and unmet expectation, and something as simple as déjà vu that reminds you of something that was uncomfortable in your past. We are triggered 50 to 300 times a day to feel as though we are unsafe and in that state digestion stops, healing stops, and we lose access to higher levels of thinking. Little bit of stress is good for you but too much of anything is no longer a good thing. This is why mindfulness is so important. With Mindfulness we become aware of how we are feeling and what we are thinking about. From this awareness we are able to calm him down and redirect her mind towards what we want more of rather than focusing on what we do not have or where we lack. Continue calming your system down by recommitting to your morning meditation. That simple few minutes in the morning primes your system for the rest of your day!

 

What is Mindfulness?

  • Mindfulness is mono tasking. It is fully investing in this present moment as it is, even when it is terribly uncomfortable. With practice we start to realize that we are not just our emotions or our thoughts or our body or our actions. We are all of those things and none of those things. If you can witness something and you are more than the thing you are witnessing. When we develop a stronger relationship with the witness we are no longer attached to the emotional pendulum swing of our day and rather find a calm and steady state where we are witnessing our emotions and able to efficiently calm her self down so we can be problem solver’s rather than sitting in the energy of the problem. The goal is not to protect ourselves perfectly because then you will not grow and you will not build the resilience through experiential learning that you need. Let yourself be imperfect. Let yourself be messy. Embrace yourself as a work in progress and a masterpiece right now as you are. A non-dualistic approach to life and growth that allows you to love and except who and where you are right now will still striving and working towards your goals and your ideal future. It is when we embrace the space between where we are now and where we desire to be that we get access to a reservoir of high-quality energy And tap into the magical flow of life.

 

What are my priorities this week?

  • Be mindful of my tendency to overexert myself when I am already feeling low on fuel. Choose more gentle movements, and when I am creating my own workouts, commit to 20-30 minutes rather than a full hour. Bring more diversity into my diet and slow down my eating process by being mindful with each bite. Connect with the people in my life who are creating and loving life and feed off their energy as we create together and celebrate struggles and successes. Take time each night to reflect on my day with high quality questions, and organize my to-dos for tomorrow. And, block off at least one full afternoon to just be and allow myself to engage with whatever feels appropriate and nourishing at that time. 

 

I am committed this week to getting back into a rhythm of writing and pursuing my balance and contentment by being in conversation and creation around mental health awareness. So I will be posting on my blog a few times this week, and sharing more of my journey (struggles and successes) through the many platforms I am grateful to have at this point in my life. 

I am here for you if you need someone to chat with or if you want more direction in how to be in the practice of tending to your own mental health. We are stronger together. Bye for now xoxox

 

Why a Five Day Evolve Retreat is right for you

Why a Five-Day Retreat? Five reasons why we at Evolve follow a five-day format for our retreats:

1. Habits dig deep and we want to ensure you have enough time to move from your path of least resistance (i.e. your old habits) into a new direction that serves you well (i.e. your new healthy habits). Rather than being inspired for a couple days and then go back home to status quo, we are more interested in life-long sustainable shifts that will change your perspective and motivate you to keep doing the work.

2. We have a lot to share and we believe in the integral importance of balance. We could bombard you over two or three days with more information than your brain can handle, instead, we choose to spread the inspiration over five days so that it is a comfortable progression that will leave you fueled, nourished, rested, rejuvenated and motivated to keep your progress going at home.

3. Happiness in life is not achieved simply with insight. You need time to practice, integrate and have conversations that will support your development. In The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, he says,

“The level of happiness you actually experience [H] is determined by your biological set point [S] plus the conditions of your life [i.e., loving relationships, as well as having and pursuing the right goals, in order to create states of flow and engagement) [C], plus the voluntary activities [V] that you do.

H = S + C + V.”

We want to support you in all pieces of this happiness equation. We are complex beautiful beings and we must give ourselves the space and time needed to understand the layers that make us who we are.

4. We believe in experiential learning. Whether it is a hands-on cooking lesson or a nutritional tutorial before we sit down for a meal, a workshop about sleep, meditation, mindful eating, or goal setting, a group fitness class or a one on one session with one of our many experts on staff, we want to make sure you get access to everything we have to offer. A five-day immersion will ensure that you do not feel rushed to meet your needs and you do not miss out on any of the amazing benefits we offer.

5. We know from experience that momentum can feel nearly impossible to start, but once it is in motion, it is nearly impossible to stop. We have a five-day outline that will spark momentum into healthy and mindful living. We want to make sure that when you head home you feel motivated, clear and supported to continue the momentum you cultivated. The real work begins once you are back at home, and we are excited for you to put these tools to good use!

Growth Mindset to learn from - rather than stay victim to - your Triggers

What are triggers? They are strong emotional reactions that arise suddenly as a result of some stimulus, and it is the mark of a deep wound or limiting belief.

How do we learn and grow so that we do not get triggered? The answer is found in the pause between the stimulus and the impulsive reaction. Like a thorn in your side that you have spent years concealing, protecting, and avoiding in hopes that it will never be touched again, the only way to remove the trigger is to find the thorn and do the work to learn, release and heal. This takes patience, curiosity, and a growth mindset.

We all carry emotional baggage. Whether we are reacting to things in the moment that are less than ideal, or holding onto judgement, resentment, guilt, or sadness from past events that rocked us to our core; this emotional baggage weighs us down. Where does this come from? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why is it easier to pass judgement and compare ourselves to what we are not, versus loving ourselves whole-heartedly and choose forgiveness and compassion as our first instinct?

Like most things I am discovering, the secret sauce to shift into a new direction and create new habits starts with a change in perspective. First of all, your triggered state is not happening because of the person in front of you or because of who you are, it is the sign of a trauma or un-digested experience from years ago.

“No one situation or person is fully responsible for the magnitude of our emotional charge. That person or situation has usually caused an emotion to surface that was already there, connected to some hurt that occurred in the past. One of the consequences of our habit of ignoring emotions is that they tend to pile up. So most of us have backlog of emotional wounds connected to situations that we never dealt with or resolved” (Conscious Communication by Miles Sherts).

Triggers are not something you can just “let go” of. That’s like having a fracture in your femur and expecting that you can just will it away. I don’t think so 😉.

Once you are aware that you are in a triggered state, try this…..

1. Take a few moments to gather yourself by creating a sense of grounding. Connect with your breath and tune into 5-8 seconds for an inhale, a pause at the top, and 5-6 seconds for the exhale, a pause at the bottom. Get out of your fight or flight state!

2. Then, ask yourself, what do I really want here? What do I want for this relationship? How do I need to show up here to move through this with grace, vulnerability and authenticity?

3. Once you can remove yourself from the situation, find some time to put pen to paper and write about your experience. What did you notice as the trigger arrived? What did it feel like? What “need” was not being met in that situation? 

4. What follow-up is needed (perhaps a do-over to share more context into what state you were in?) What reminder do you need next time you find yourself in that triggered state?

 

Trauma is generally a multitude of layers. Expect that this process will take some time and exploration. Use the wisdom of the Growth Mindset to bring in high quality energy and focus more on the process versus the destination. A Growth Mindset points at the joy of continually getting better at something rather than being fixated on not being enough right now. It is about being in the process of improving and developing skills rather than trying to prove your worth and demonstrate your skills. This mindset is ideal for the personal development journey because you will be face to face with parts of yourself that make you uncomfortable (to say the least). Your relationship with growth, yourself, and this life will dictate how much energy you can cultivate in that pause before you decide what direction you truly want to go in. The skills you cultivate in self-inquiry will serve you for a lifetime. They are tools that will allow you to move through difficult conversations and emotions with greater efficacy and empowerment each time.

You got this xoxo

A Mental Model to Serve Your Monkey Mind

photo by Mark Derry 

photo by Mark Derry 

We are programmed to compare and take notice when we perceive someone as bigger, bolder, or more of what we strive to be. This deeply ingrained impulse is an overactive survival mechanism. At one point in time it was extremely beneficial to get a surge of neurochemicals warning us when someone else did something that furthered their importance above our own. This status dance would motivate individuals to make themselves indispensable in the tribe to improve the chances of safety and procreation.  

The problem is, we now live in a society where the lives and successes of others are displayed second by second at our fingertips. We see others paving their way through life and we see a lot more of what is good rather than the not-so-good that we all struggle with yet few of us are open and willing to share.

As I continue to make bold moves and brave leaps to grow my business and create a larger platform for my message of mental health vulnerability and best practices to find balance, I see and feel the effects of comparison every single day. Whether in my own self-talk or in the struggles of my clients, we all have a tendency to lose track of the big picture and get fixated on the small-minded comparison of ourselves to the other.

I am here to remind you that although you can’t control your instinctual animalistic reactions, you do have control and power in your response after the fact. Know your mind, understand where your effort is best invested, and carve a new path of least resistance in your brain that brings you to gratitude and motivation for action. How? Keep reading.

One of my favorite reminders lately comes from a book titled, The Honeymoon Effect by Bruce Lipton. He says “there are four brains in every relationship.” We have our best-self, which comes out in the beginning of a new relationship as we are excited and we don’t have assumptions or baggage already attached to what the other person says or does. Over time, we get comfortable and our triggered state begins to show itself. The impulsive reactions, the emotional assumptions, the unfair expectations, the cruel jabs at the other. Where did that person come from?

We are programmed to seek safety, to seek companionship and a tribe that feeds our soul, and to carve out a unique impact and purpose that will leave a legacy. Along with these beautiful human wants comes the tendency to compare, judge, and constantly strive for more. We find pleasure in progress, and we feel pain at any sign of rejection or not being seen by someone we want attention from. We need to feel safe, connected, and purposeful, and until we do, there is a constant flow of energy being invested in searching for ways to meet these needs. Imagine a faucet attached to the back of your body, and while these basic primal needs are unmet, it is as though your tap is turned on and flowing energy out of your system until there is nothing left, leaving you exhausted and wondering why. There’s not much we can do about this deeply rooted operating system, other than notice when it is there and respond with words and actions that ground, support, and release the old patterns.

We tend to avoid our feelings out of confusion and shame. We tend to judge ourselves and make ourselves feel wrong for having the feelings in the first place. Yet our good intentions can lead us astray, because what you resist, persists. You think you are being wise by brushing that problem under the rug, or avoiding the nagging feeling that something is wrong, or shaming yourself for not being able to “snap out of it.” Sorry to tell you my friends, you are sending more energy down that pathway that you are trying to avoid, strengthening it’s power and building a superhighway towards the very thing you are “ignoring.”

The only way through this internal struggle, is to get to know it, love it, embrace it, get curious about it, notice your reactions and try out new responses. Open yourself up to the beauty and connections that arise from being a vulnerable and proud imperfectly perfect human being.

This is not the type of work you can rush. This is the epitome of slowing down to speed up. We need to reset our foundation and build strong roots so that we can grow and handle the waves of life with grace and resilience.

A "mental model" is a great way to begin the process of excavating and cultivating. Mental models are our unique perceptions and understanding of life. They generally help us navigate uncertainty by projecting past learnings and experiences onto the situation at hand. They provide a proven pathway towards success or a learned pattern to avoid pain or failure. We can’t do the same thing over and over and expect to get new results. We are all growing and learning in phases, and we need to continue the principle of self-study to ensure we are updating our belief system and feeding our mind and body the nourishment it needs.

So I ask you, What seeds are you planting? Consider the mental model that your mind is a garden and your thoughts and actions culminate as the gardener. Before you create the garden of your dreams, you must dig deep and remove the weeds and roots that suck the nutrients out of the dirt or strangle the progress of new growth. While we plant new seeds, we develop a rhythm of care to ensure time and attention are spent to tend to the young and vulnerable plants. We need patience and mindfulness to allow the garden to manifest and to notice issues that could halt progress and take action to create a remedy. We need the resilience and trust in the process, so even if the garden is destroyed or is not in great shape, you know no failure is a final failure and every moment is practice for the next moment. It is important to find joy and develop a passion for the work so that it doesn’t become another mindless chore to check off your list. Surround yourself with other passionate gardeners and continue opening yourself up to new ideas and tips that could serve your journey.

 

Reflection Questions:

What change challenge are you facing in your life right now?

What is your mental model to approach this challenge with as much empowerment and trust in your ability as possible?

What are the key steps to take on this challenge?

What is your motivating reason WHY to take on this challenge?

What reminder do you need to repeat when the going gets tough?

A well timed and thought-provoking question can be the difference between standing proud in the face of your challenge rather than avoiding or hiding yourself from the possible pain of rejection. Know your mind. Know what you truly want. And set yourself up with the support, thoughts, mental models, and motivation you need to make the change. You are so much more capable than you realize. Tell yourself what you need to hear.

 

Everything is an offer

To live in the world of personal development means to be constantly face to face with your hypocrisy and your own areas of improvement. It's not easy. But, it also means a lot of excitement and pleasure as you see positive change in your life and feel the result of your hard work paying dividends. I have found that the concept of "intimacy without attachment" is a great reminder to find the balance point and contentment with the moment while in pursuit of betterment. It reminds me to be passionate and desire for more while embracing this moment as it is because I cannot control what the future holds. It also reminds me to conserve energy by expecting the unexpected and to behave in a way that allows others to also have freedom and space for growth. "Intimacy without attachment" is one of many concepts and mantras I use to create and conserve quality energy for my journey.  

I am mindful of the fact that my work, currently, is in playing with the balance between pragmatism and compassion. I have found that a way to conserve energy is to be picky with where I allow myself to be influenced by others, more specifically, who and where I invest my emotions. It's become a dance as I notice my energy getting pulled into someone else's struggle, I allow myself to feel it and send some love and empathy, but then I re-center myself with the reminder that it doesn't do us any good if I turn "your struggle" into "our struggle."

I have witnessed that I am much better at supporting a shift in perspective or leading by example when I allow myself to stay open and rise above the momentary struggle. While this is an efficient way to operate, the shadow side is that at times when emotional investment and a compassionate shoulder to cry on is needed, I will choose curiosity and protect my energy from being drained by other people's "problems." This is not good or bad, right or wrong, it is just something to notice and play with so that I can lay my head down each night and feel confident, proud and aligned in my decisions as I reflect on my day. I want to be felt as a compassionate, vulnerable, and supportive person. And I need to continually check in with myself to ensure that my intentions are showing up strong and true in my actions. 

 

What I find most interesting about this recent realization is that my response is to see it as an offer to open up a bit more and trust my own strength and capabilities. I rarely feel guilt or feel a loss of power when I see my intentions are not aligned with my actions, because I know that that takes time and energy. I see the error in my ways, I learn what I need to learn, I readjust my aim, and then I get back into the practice of living life.

I see these insights as an opportunity to practice being a better coach, a better friend, a better daughter and sister, and a better partner. Because I am far from perfect and I would love for my family and friends to see that I am trying hard to be the person they deserve to have in their life. 

Everything is an offer, if you let it be. Perspective can always be shifted to see what you may have missed or what you have not been habituated to see. It becomes an offer when you can choose to respond in ways that invite connection, acceptance and creativity. You spread this offer wide when you start your response to a situation with "YES, AND...." Perspective expands when you can see the potential all around you and open your mind to receive the feather into your calm soft palm rather than grasping and forcing. 

This blog post is inspired by this book. An amazing title and an even more amazing read. This book plays with the beautiful lessons we can take from the world of improvisation and how that can open your mind and life in ways you may not see as possible.

This blog post is inspired by this book. An amazing title and an even more amazing read. This book plays with the beautiful lessons we can take from the world of improvisation and how that can open your mind and life in ways you may not see as possible.

I would love to have an impact in this world that leads us towards mindful and balanced living. I would love to see everyone unplug more often and take their down-time seriously. I would love to see more people create some space in between their initial impulsive reaction and their thoughtful and grounded pragmatic response. I would love to see more people crack open and share what keeps them up at night and what fears creep into their minds during the day. I want to see more bold and brave creativity as people get out of their self-doubting heads and allow themselves to show up and make their passions known. I want to see people setting goals and achieving them, making bold requests and standing tall in their higher purpose, stretching the limits of what's possible and seeing beauty and life-affirming magic in stepping outside their comfort zone. 

That is why I lead by example and do my best to share what tools and conversations can support the process. I want you to create and conserve more quality energy so you can experience bliss, passion, excitement, pleasure and purpose in a balanced and sustainable way. 

So cheers to balance. Cheers to practice and play. And cheers to embracing our imperfections so that we can create space and conserve energy for the journey towards our best self. 

;)

photo by Mark Derry

photo by Mark Derry