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What you can expect from me this year

Here we are, a couple days into 2019 and full of possibility. I have spent the past few days in Palm Springs with my dad and step-mom, and their two lovely friends. It has been an opportunity for me to slow down, engage in thoughtful, fun, and intelligent conversation, and ultimately, spend quality time with my dad.

When I was an athlete in my teens, my dad and I spent countless hours together on road-trips and in the gym, prepping and debriefing games and practices, and diving deep into philosophy, psychology and anything else he was curious about and learning. I cherished that time with him. And now, 15 years later, we have had that quality time again, meaning just him and I for a full day or two, getting into the 2.0 version of those same conversations. It has been extremely beneficial for me to have such a strong and insightful sounding board to hear my ideas and inquiries and add his vast knowledge into the mix.

On our road trip to Joshua Tree yesterday, one of the projects I brought to him in discussion was my blogging, and how I want to set that up to ensure it is quality and impactful - for me and whoever decides to read along. This segwayed into my current inquiry around social media, and how - similar to food - balanced and purposeful creation and consumption is an important part of the healthy equation. As I am so aware of my own seemingly addictive relationship to my Instagram app, I do not want to keep that journey to myself and blindly add to the problem that I have heard so many voice about.

In fact, I am on the hunt right now for some kind of “parental control” app that I can use to block myself from getting on social media platforms at certain times in the day. On several occasions, I have set the goal with boundaries and parameters to limit my time mindlessly scrolling, yet, within a few days, am back to the same habit of tapping on that app as soon as I have a moment of stillness.

For me, social media can be an amazing platform for connection and inspiration, and it can also be a tool of distraction and disconnection. I want more of the first and less of the latter. How about you?

So, this is what you can expect from me this year, a series of blog posts detailing my journey of retraining my relationship with social media. And I would love to have you join me in this exploration. I want to hear what works for you! I want to hear where you struggle the most in this disconnected yet vastly over-connected world. Each month I will have a new topic to tackle, as I share what I have been doing and practicing, and invite you to reflect, play and practice, and share your learnings as well.

Let’s get social media in it’s place, an amazing tool of connection.

Step #1: BOUNDARIES

In the human brain, we have a brilliant capacity to think and discern beyond the impulsive reactions of our habits and animalisitic brain. But that animal part of our brain is 1 million times stronger than the part of the brain that makes us human. This is exactly why we can set goals and tell ourselves what is important and needed, yet in the moment we continue to choose what we have declared we no longer want. We need to set up parental control for our brains.

So here is what I am doing to practice.

First of all, as I previously mentioned, I will find an app that supports me in this. An app that literally blocks me from tapping mindlessly and scrolling through unnecessarily.

Second, I know it does not serve me to read through long posts on social media that give me a hit of happy chemicals but then disappear as I continue scrolling without contemplation or reflection. So I intend to lead by example and only post 3-4 times a week with short, succinct and meaningful notes. For those who want more, they can head to my website, join my newsletter, or reach out for one on one connection. Social media is no longer where I will be investing my time and energy as my main source of marketing.

Third, anytime I am on social media, I will comment/connect with at least one person. If I am scrolling through, it is with the purpose of real connection, which means, I reach out and make sure my community knows I see them and love them.

That feels like a great place to start this journey. I would love to hear your ideas and what comes up for you. Let’s keep this conversation going. xoxox

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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!

Tools to help train your brain

One of the things that has helped me learn and grow the most is the idea that everything is a relationship. We are relational beings. What makes our existence so complex is that nothing is fixed or complete when assumed to be objective. Whether it is an intimate relationship with another, a supportive and loving relationship with friends and family, an acquaintance or stranger, or the relationship you have to your own emotions, to concepts, ideas, or systems; the depth is found in the relationship.

I don't believe there is a universal meaning to life. I think we do ourselves a disservice when we see things as black and white. I think we hold ourselves back and show lack of trust in our own powerful minds if we think there is one right way to do something or allow our emotions to lead the way. I believe we are all capable of finding a collective community of love and support while honoring our own internal guidance and structure of purpose. The beauty of life is in the quality of our relationships.

The relationship I have been most fascinated with is the one I have with myself. Around 10 years ago, I found myself in a place of deep unhappiness and a sense of not having enough control in my own life. I felt lost, confused, beaten up, angry, yet hopeful that there was a way to create the life I desired.

As I approach my 31st birthday this month and have the big upcoming moment of publishing my first book, I feel called to slow down and take stock on what it has taken to retrain my brain to develop healthy habits, heal from trauma, and find balance in my mind, body, and soul. My advocacy for mental health awareness has been a huge motivation for my internal drive. The biggest thing that has allowed me to connect with the community, create experiences and continue my studying and exploration has been the realization that we are all deeply affected my mental health struggles - if not in your own mind then in someone close to you.

I have not been hesitant to share my story because I own it, I lived it, and I see it in so many others around me. I have learned so much from who and where I have been. I am now deeply connected to my higher purpose and am happy to stumble, fall, embarrass myself, or sabotage myself, because I have the discipline to not let that get in my way. I choose to see it all as learning and practice. 

I have realized that my greatest potential is birthed from self-love. When I have my mind, body and soul all aligned in one unifying direction - fueled by habits that I have chosen and not fallen into - I step into the version of myself I want to know more and more. 

In this state of power, choice and opportunity in absolutely everything, I am tuned into the universal vibration of expansion and contraction, which feels like I am being held by something far greater than just me as I grow and fall more in love with life each day. 

I have learned that when you love the process and engage in life with purpose and play, the journey becomes the jewel and the destination becomes less finite, as I feel whole and complete in each mindful breath.

My business - dope(a)me - and my role as spin motivator and yoga teacher, are all platforms for me to share my love for life and movement. My goal each day is to follow the paradigm I have created as my goal setter mindset, and to engage in conversations that will deepen our collective connection to our inner pilot light that celebrates others' successes while carving a path that has never been carved before. While some people might say they are special, and others may think no one is special, I choose to believe that we are all special and have the capacity to create a positive impact in the world.

The environment and conditions you are born into creates the initial foundation that is programmed into your mind and body. Your duty as your grow older is to un-become what has been fed into your system so that you can become the unique and powerful YOU that you have that privilege to be. 

We all get in our own way. Our mind can be tricky and our habits dig deep. What I have experienced for myself is the awakening that sets in when you learn to calm your mind. Your mind wanders and constantly makes up stories and entertains assumptions about your reality. Your ego is seductive. It is driven by a subconscious addiction to happy chemicals and an overcompensation from a feeling of low self-worth. Your ego is the result of your over-protective system that is seeking serotonin and dopamine - which increases your feelings of worth, pleasure, and importance; a biological insurance program to improve your chances of survival. It seeks instant-gratification and grows stronger when you are tired, stressed, overworked, or lack "real" confidence. Real confidence is not a display or need to remind people of your greatness. It is internally directed and validated in results and pure contentment. 

Acknowledge your ego for what it is. We all have one. It's your initial and impulsive reaction. When you develop a relationship with your ego, rather than being victim to its allure and possession, you begin to notice it and can choose to respond from your higher-purpose and directive. 

So, enough about me and my current understanding and practice in life. It's time for you to put pen to paper and play with ways of implementing new healthy habits into your life! When you know how your mind works and see more opportunity to question what you think rather than assume you have it right, it becomes a lot easier to formulate a plan, learn and collaborate with others, and be efficient in your development. 

Here are FIVE keys to get started in retraining your brain to become the person you desire to be!

1. What you resist, persist:

Rather than resisting your current habits, choose to focus on building new ones. You can't erase habits, but you can slowly stop feeding them energy until they grow over and lose grip on your subconscious. Use the power of a morning routine while you have fresh energy. Bring in new thoughts, ideas, goals, movement, mantras, etc. Eventually, conscious doing becomes subconscious being. Although it can feel awkward and backwards at first, your compulsions need love and compassion if they are ever going to be released.

Another way to bring in the fresh energy and healthy habits you desire is to spend time with someone who has the habit you want. We have mirror neurons in our brain that fire when we observe someone else. Our brain lights up in the same manner as the person doing the activity we are witnessing. Hire a coach, go to workshops, spend time in environments with healthy and inspiring people. Your brain will begin to build the pathway so you can mirror the behavior you want more of in your life. By the same token, you can begin to create new pathways through visualization. When you take the time to fully step into a feeling, a possibility, or a desired outcome, our brain prepares for that reality and it becomes more real in our mind's eye. Just be mindful to keep the distinction between a motivating imagined future-state and the expectation that reality will be just as you visualize it to be. Intimacy without attachment. We can drain our own energy when we fall in love with our expectation and find reality to be not as sweet.

2. Integration:

Get curious about the habits you already have and find ways to add in some new happy circuits onto the roots already in place. You will create new habits with ease when you find ways to tweak or add to the habits already in rotation. Bonus: Focus on what feels good and what is fun in this process and your habit will stick even quicker. 

3. Conserve and Create:

You need energy to create new habits. Take time to fuel yourself with self-care practices, meditation, nourishing food, rest, sweat, play, novelty, and gratitude. Nourishment is not strictly what you ingest. It is your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental well-being. So often our compulsions are triggered when we feel lack, and we look to food - or other quick hits of pleasure - for comfort or discipline. Your health and wellness is holistic and involves many facets. Perhaps your sense of lack is a signal that your mind, body and soul are craving an experience or breakthrough. 

Be mindful of where you expend a lot of energy already and practice ways to calm your mind and conserve some of that precious fuel for when you really need it. Some things are simply not worth spending energy on. Discern when to be in inquiry, when to just tell yourself what you need to hear, and when to simply be and embrace the moment for what it is. 

4. Compound Effect:

When you have big goals and changes in mind, your subconscious can be spooked into feeling like this task is too big to take on, and self-sabotage or exhaustion will set in. Do yourself a favor and break down your big tasks or goals into small steps, and make sure to celebrate along the way. Your ego needs to be fed in healthy and conscious ways if you don't want it to take over. 

5. Practice: 

Learn to embrace the space between where you are now and where you desire to. This moment is your life. It is worth practicing being in love with each moment so that you don't build a habit of only being focused on more or the idea that happiness awaits at a future destination. Once you have a rhythm and structure of learning and growth in place, it becomes that much easier to fall in love with the process and practice your trust and improvisation. Every moment is practice for the next moment. 

 

I hope you find some inspiration and tangible tools to play with from this post. I would love to engage with you if you have any questions or are ready to take on your personal development with my guidance and support. 

I want to leave you with this message I came across last night on instagram. This is from the @wildwomansisterhoodofficial account. A beautiful image of an older woman with so much peace and love in her tanned and wrinkled face. Her words speak to my hope and my practice of being guided with purpose while completely grounded and in love with the moment as it is. I saw myself in her and was drawn in to her amazing energy. Enjoy ;)

"I am no longer waiting for a special occasion; I burn the best candles on ordinary days.

I am no longer waiting for the house to be clean; I fill it with people who understand that even dust is Sacred.  

I am no longer waiting for everyone to understand me; it's just not their task.

I am no longer waiting for the perfect children; my children have their own names that burn as brightly as any star.

I am no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop; it already did, and I survived.

I am no longer waiting for the time to be right; the time is always now.

I am no longer waiting for the mate who will complete me; I am grateful to be so warmly, tenderly held.

I am no longer waiting for a quiet moment; my heart can be stilled whenever it is called.

I am no longer waiting for the world to be at peace; I unclench my grasp and breathe peace in and out.

I am no longer waiting to do something great; being awake to carry my grain of sand is enough.

I am no longer waiting to be recognized; I know I dance in a holy circle.

I am no longer waiting for Forgiveness. I believe. I Believe." 

by Mary Anne Perrone

 

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.