Back home.

Yesterday I got on my yoga mat for the first time in almost 6 weeks. The past couple of months have been difficult dealing with family health issues, my husband getting into an cycling accident and several other curveballs that have come our way.
My yoga mat has always felt like home. But when things got really hard for me, that was the last place I wanted to be. And I couldn’t understand why. How could I turn my back on something that I love with all my heart.
I couldn’t even bring myself to roll my mat out at home.
I wanted nothing to do with it.
At all.
I questioned it and questioned it and I just couldn’t grasp why.
Getting back on my mat I finally understand. Yoga is the one thing that truly connects me. Mind, body, heart and soul. All of it. And it connects me to everything around me. It’s what makes everything make sense. It makes time seem to not exist. It aligns every part of me and shows me my own truth. It forces me to deal with my issues and to let them go once they have taught me what I’m supposed to learn. It shows me that everything is going to be okay. No matter what.
And I guess I just didn’t want to see those things. Maybe I wasn’t ready to deal with everything yet. Maybe I didn’t want to let go. Im guilty of suppressing things way deep down and not wanting to face them in hopes that they will magically go away. When you’re caught up in your own mental thunderstorms it’s really hard to see past the pain. And to allow yourself to do the things that you know will bring you joy. It’s like we punish ourselves or something. Or maybe I’m the only one who does that.
Regardless, I am grateful for a great friend for guiding me through my practice and for Soul Yoga for always being my home.

Monkey Mind 

I’ve had this heaviness weighing over me for the past couple of months. If you know me well enough, you know that I spend a lot of time up in my head. A lot of unnecessary, wasted time worrying about things. Things that, as my dad would say, “don’t amount to a hill of beans.”

Translation: Shit that does not matter. At all.

I worry about the past, the present and the future.

I worry about friendships. Especially as more and more of my friends are getting married, having babies, moving, etc and our friendships begin to change shape. 

I worry about my family. 

I worry about my job. My corporate job in Oil and Gas; which if you’ve paid attention to the news lately, you would know that it’s currently in a very volatile environment.

I worry about my ability to be a good wife, daughter, friend, sister, lover, nurturer, yoga instructor, listener, mother, etc etc etc. blah blah freaking blah!!! 

I call this “monkey mind”. I imagine that little annoying monkey holding the cymbals and the more I feed my thoughts, the harder the monkey slams the cymbals together making that god awful noise.

  
Meditation, yoga and exercise all help but I still find myself entertaining my thoughts and continually letting them take control of me. I’ve even had a few sleepless nights because I just couldn’t turn off that little voice in my head. That constant freaking chatter.

Then the other day I came across a quote on instagram. “Most of the things you worry about, are things that won’t even matter a few months from now.”

YATZEE!!! It’s funny how the universe sends us these signs when we need them the most. We just have to be open to receiving them.

I realized all the worrying and stressing I was doing was sending me down this deep, dark rabbit hole. When I came to my senses and got clear on exactly how I wanted to feel, I realized that if all the worrying wasn’t serving me, then it dang sure wasn’t serving anyone around me. It was greatly affecting my ability to be truly present and overwhelmed me with a sense of anxiety and depression. Not to mention, a huge waste of my time. 

So, I gave myself an attitude adjustment (aka I lost my shit). I decided to finally surrender. I prayed to the universe to take it all from me and promised to trust that things do work out for a reason and what is supposed to happen will. I also had a mini meltdown that involved wine and a few (okay, a lot) of tears. I instantly felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I began to understand that I don’t have to hold on to these things and everything truly will be alright. I finally realized that I cannot control what happens regarding my job, relationships, marriage, etc.

The only thing that I can control-and this is huge-is how I choose to live my life.

I can choose to spend my days allowing that monkey to run rampant in my head or I can allow myself to let it all go and surrender to what the universe has in store for me. To fully live my life completely present soaking up every single second of it.

Inhale the good shit. Exhale the bull shit. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m human. We can’t completely get rid of our worries. It’s a part of the human condition. But we can make a conscious choice to not allow our worries or fears to take over and negatively affect our quality of life.

It’s up to you. You can choose to let go of the things that weigh you down or you can let the monkey be the ruler of your mind. Trust me, it’s not easy to surrender, but once you do, damn it feels good.

lessons learned from the mountains

I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago and like I typically do when I go away for an extended time, I used the time away as an opportunity to reflect. My husband spent most of the day riding his mountain bike which left a lot of time for me to be alone. Spending some time soaking up the sweet mountain air in Crested Butte with little to no phone/internet service (which proved to be a blessing) was the perfect opportunity for me to disconnect, recharge, reflect and come to some pretty important realizations.

1. I hate social media.  Not having much internet service allowed for a much needed digital detox. I was able to post things but not able to go through my news feed and I must say, damn it was nice. Any time I get on Facebook it typically sucks me in for an extended amount of time and more often than not leaves me feeling worse than I did before I opened it up. Whether it brings up feelings of comparison, judgement, self doubt, jealousy, fomo (fear of missing out), or whatever, I never feel positive feelings or accomplished. I usually just feel mind sucked and like I wasted my time. What I realized was no social media means more time to connect with myself and others and gives me time to find other ways to feel inspired through books, journaling, going for long walks, spending time with friends etc. I’ve eliminated social media from my phone and iPad and only check it once every couple of days. This makes for a much happier, more present Lindsey.

2. My journal is a necessity.  I’ve typically got a shit storm going on in my head from the time I wake up until I pass out at night. Without my journal and having that space to release all the junk my brain has the death grip on, I would go crazy. Like, Girl, Interrupted crazy. I am obsessed with my journals and although the words written in them don’t mean much to others, they are incredibly valuable to me. I love looking back and reading old journals and watching how much I’ve grown and evolved over the years. Sometimes, I tear pages out and rip them up and one day I plan to destroy them all, but for now they are super important.  I wrote in my journal A LOT while we were on vacation and it helped me work through some stuff that was weighing heavy on my heart. My journal=my free psychiatrist.

3. Friends come and go. And that’s ok.  As we get older our paths start to go in different directions. We get married, have babies, work steady jobs (some of us), spend more time as a family, etc. Our time becomes more and more precious and it’s harder to stay in touch with those that we aren’t as emotionally connected to. As our priorities change, so do our friendships. We hold on to the ones we love the most as life draws us away from the relationships that require more work. And that’s ok. I believe that people come in and out of our lives at different times for very specific reasons.

4. There’s no such thing as balance.  This one is huge! I’ve struggled for a quite a long time trying to find “balance” in my life. After reading FireStarter sessions by my badass girl crush Danielle Laporte, I’ve come to understand that balance doesn’t exist. We are constantly striving for more and more and the more we chase that elusive thing called balance, the more we derail our plans for success. If we are able somehow to find balance in our lives, just like anything else, it’s only temporary. Once I was able to let go of the idea that things had to be a certain way in my life, things were able to run much more smoothly.   Again, this makes for a much happier Lindsey.

5. Nothing anyone else does is my business.  Everyone is marching to the beat of their own drum and living life based on their journey. Not mine. Sometimes putting myself in others shoes is necessary in order to understand why they do certain things, but in the end it’s not my place to pass any judgements. We all have our own ideas about how to live life and while we may not all agree, we have to find compassion and kindness and remember that we are all doing the best we can. It’s far easier to extend love towards one another than to allow resentment or judgement to take over. Choose Love. Its pretty amazing stuff.

Simplicity

//Simplicity//

This has been one of my mantras for 2015. Just keep it simple.

Admittedly, Ive spent a lot of time (and money) purchasing things that only gave me a temporary amount of happiness and inevitably ended up crammed in a drawer, lost in a pile or left somewhere in my house to collect dust.

My husband introduced my to a concept called hedonic adaptation. To sum it up, it simply means: We all have a level of happiness that we maintain on a regular basis. Its how we spend a great deal of our time as we go about our daily activities. But then, we see something new and shiny (a brand new car, a house, boat, fancy electronic device, jewelry, etc) and we (falsely) think if we purchase that item, it will significantly increase our level of happiness. And, in fact, it will. But, only for a short time. Once the new wears off we are back to the same level of happiness that we were at pre-purchase of that “had to have”, “life changing” item.

Here’s an example for you:

You go to your favorite clothing store and you a see a pair of shoes that you absolutely must have. You know you shouldn’t spend the money but you think to yourself, “These shoes are awesome and I’ve just got to have them.” So, you do it. You bite the bullet and fork over the dough thinking that these shoes are going to change your life. So you rock your new shoes and you are loving them (and all the compliments you get while wearing them) but then, they start to get a little dirty and they just aren’t as fun anymore that the new has worn off and they eventually end up in your closet, forgotten about.

Yep. I would be lying if I said that never happened to me (which is why I have more yoga pants than I care to admit).

The point is, we don’t need possessions to bring us happiness. Those don’t stand the test of time anyways.  We don’t need our belongings to define who we are. We are incredible people that have so much to give and we don’t need be judged by what kind of house we live in, car we drive or clothes we wear.

Once I got clear on what it was I wanted, I realized that I would much rather collect experiences, not meaningless objects that eventually get thrown out or donated. Its amazing how little money I spend now that I understand that I don’t need possessions to make me happy. I’ve actually found more happiness watching my bank account grow than I did when I was constantly buying things that didn’t even matter to me.

I want simplicity. I want belly laughs and happy tears. I want to explore. I want unforgettable adventures with friends and family. I don’t want to be tied down by all of my possessions and I dang sure don’t want to spend my days working in order to “keep up with the Joneses” or have the latest and greatest product on the market. I wouldn’t be able to keep up anyways.

Don’t let what you own define who you are or determine your happiness. Find freedom in knowing that less truly is so much more.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Confucius

Just chill out. 

I’ve made meditation a part of my daily routine for quite a few years now. It’s something that is very important to me and one thing that I try not to sacrifice. Of course, I’m only human and I’ve gone through times in the past where I fell short of my daily meditation goal. At times it’s been days and even months between each one.

 When I went to Florida for my Yoga Medicine training, Tiffany Cruikshank reignited that spark and inspired me to reconnect with my practice. In our training we would have daily meditations that would last 20-30 minutes. The first couple of times we did this I had a really hard time turning it all off and being in the moment. But once I allowed myself to surrender and to just be in the moment, I was able to relax and find stillness and peace. 

I forgot just how much I loved my practice and how incredibly important it is for me to just sit down and shut up for a bit. Other than when I’m sleeping, meditation is the only other time when I can turn off that little voice inside my head. The one with the constant dialogue. The one that never wants to shut up and at times can drive me close to insanity. As I’ve continued with this practice I’ve noticed some amazing side effects:

Mental Clarity

Calmness 

The ability to observe without feeling inclined to react

Greater awareness of my thoughts, actions, responses

The ability to make decisions based on how it will truly make me feel. 

Increased attention span.

Better sleep at night. 

Deeper connection to myself. 

More love and acceptance of myself and others. 

I can’t say enough about just how incredible a regular meditation practice is for your mind, body and soul. 

Here are some steps to establish a practice of your own. Remember, this should be tailored to what works for you. Play around with it and see what you think. 

1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted. This really can be anywhere. Anywhere in the world. I have a room in my house that I’ve dedicated as my space to chill out. I prefer to light candles and sometimes diffuse oils or burn an incense but it really is your preference. 

2. Come into a comfortable posture that you can be still in. This can be seated, lying down or you might even use some yoga props or blankets to prop yourself up. I prefer seated with my legs crossed and my hands resting in my lap. Some people advise against lying down as you might end up falling asleep, but my thoughts are if you are relaxed enough to fall asleep, great. The point of this is to chill out and quiet the mind. If you fall asleep, clearly you needed it. But again, all of this is personal preference. 

3. Set a timer. I advise this especially as you are first getting into the routine of meditating. There are many different smartphone apps you can use. I really like Insight Timer. It’s free and very user friendly. Plus, if you’re a type A personality, you can track your practice. If you’re not interested in an app, simply use the timer function on your phone or just a kitchen timer works great too. If you are using your phone, be sure to switch it over to airplane mode so you don’t get distracted. I would recommend starting at 5 mins and increasing your time from there. Trust me, starting out, 5 mins feels like a long time to be still and quiet! 

4. Relax and Breathe. Once you are set up and you are comfortable, close your eyes. Draw your awareness inward. Start to notice the breath. Observe as it moves through the body. There are many different ways you can meditate. I encourage you to find what resonates with you. I really like to either count my breath or I repeat a mantra. One that is special and that I can connect with. This doesn’t have to be anything super complex. 

Some examples are: 

I breathe in love, I breathe out fear

I am love, I am light

I am strong, I am open

I am enough, I am enough 

Make this your own. That’s the only way you will stick with it. And if you notice that your mind starts to wander (and it will, trust me) draw the focus back to the breath. Every single time. Don’t get frustrated. Just observe the thoughts and allow them to go just as quickly as they come. And start small. This practice takes a lot of dedication and love. If you allow yourself to get upset or frustrated then you’ve lost the point of this. It’s about relaxing the body and stilling the mind. Finding just a nugget of peace in our very busy lives. Recognize how truly fortunate you are to have the opportunity to spend just a few moments in silence for self reflection and self love and appreciation. You might even get a journal and keep track of your practice and the things that come up mentally and emotionally for you. Have fun with this! Explore! 

Just enjoy the journey. Don’t focus so much on the destination. 

Namaste. 

 

The core of

your true self.

let go of all

the pretending

and the becoming

you’ve done just

to belong. Curl up

with your rawness

and come home.

you don’t have to

find yourself;

you just have to

let yourself in.

-d antionette foy

A Race Between My Body and My Mind

Yesterday I competed on a team at the March in Okarche duathlon put on by our local triathlon club, TRIOKC. It consisted of a 5k run, 16-mile bike ride and finished off with another 5k run. I did the runs and my friend, Vanessa, did the cycling. I’ve done this particular race many times before; although it’s been a few years since the last time I competed in it. I’ve done the race enough times that I know the run course by heart. I could practically run it with my eyes closed. Every turn, every mile marker, every tiny little hill (although the course is pretty much flat). I really had no expectations going into the race, I was just looking to have a good time and see how much I could push myself.

Once the race started I began running and immediately my brain decided to run as well. Normally anytime I run I like to listen to hip hop music. Very loud hip-hop music. Its what motivates me to move my body. In a duathlon, you are not allowed to wear headphones; therefore, you have to create your own soundtrack. So, as we begin to run (without Jay Z blaring in my ear) my brain is going full throttle. Like it’s trying to out sprint me. It keeps trying to convince me to quit running. It continues to remind me how painful it is to go hard and that if I would just stop and quit the pain would go away. The harder I push my body, the louder that voice in my head gets telling me to quit.

I begin to realize that this is the part where yoga really starts to happen. Yoga isn’t just getting on a mat and moving our body into different postures. In fact, most of yoga happens off our mats. For me, yoga is about finding a connection to my breath. To focus on that connection while tuning everything else out and finding some peace and freedom from my own mind. To shut off that voice inside my head telling me to quit when I know I am stronger than that. In my classes I always tell my students that they are so much stronger than they will ever give themselves credit for and I realized that I needed to take some of my own advice. I truly believe that our mind will make us quit long before our body ever will. So, I dug deep. I shut that voice up and I pushed. As I came around to the transition area to hand the timing chip off to my teammate I looked down at my Garmin and discovered that I pushed myself hard enough to set a PR (personal record). I couldn’t believe it. But I wasn’t just stoked for my time, I was stoked that I was able to find that place within myself to tune out all the negativity that my mind was throwing at me. To be able to still my mind long enough to push myself as hard as I could without giving up.

Once I was able to find that connection, my second run went a lot smoother. I didn’t have that voice anymore telling me to quit. I just continued to push. Step by step. Breath by breath. It turned out being one of the best races I’ve done and I had an absolute blast. We ended up taking 2nd in the female relay division and 4th overall. It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to doing many more of these in the future. I realize that I have control over my thoughts. They don’t control me. And it’s a pretty amazing feeling knowing that I can push myself father than my thoughts allow me to go.

My teammate and I before our race.

My teammate and I before our race.

2nd place in the female division!! And 4th overall! I was worn out.

2nd place in the female division!! And 4th overall! I was worn out.

To fail or not to fail

I recently read somewhere that only 8% of people who set New Years Resolutions actually have success. Which means that everyone else is a failure.

Failure. Such an ugly word, right? I used to think so but now I am kind of in love with it.

I remember when I was growing up, failure was something that we were taught to never let happen. We were to always be the best at everything we did. Our parents and teachers always led us to believe that our mission is life was to make good grades, go to college, meet our soul mate, get a great job, have kids, etc. etc. etc. In that order, just like that, with everything being perfect. There is no room for failure anywhere in that plan.

But, life happens. And so does failure. Sometimes more often that not. Life is not always sunshine and roses. That’s the reality of the human condition. And trust me, I have had my fair share of failures in my short 31 years here. I’ll admit, there are few that I am not proud of but, there are some that have truly taught me so much and I have used those experiences to evolve into the person I am today.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” ~ JK Rowling

Failure can be driven by many different circumstances. Far too often we are the ones setting ourselves up for our own failures. We place an extraordinary amount of pressure on ourselves to reach our goals or live a lifestyle that is not in alignment with who we really are.

Once we can be real about the ideas and plans we have for ourselves and how we truly, realistically, want to our lives we can avoid so many of these inevitable failures.

Back to my original point. I am kind of in love with failing. Why? Well, how are we ever to learn anything about ourselves if we never experience it? How are we to know the truth about who we really are if we never allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to allow failure to happen? Failure can be harsh. It can hurt not just on the surface but that hurt that goes deep into your bones and settles in for an extended stay. It can feel like your heart has been ripped out. It can be gut wrenching, soul sucking, pain. But when we are open to what we can learn from our failures and commit to stay connected to our truth, our failures will begin to minimize in size and occurrence.

So, you’ve failed. What now?

Ask yourself why you failed. Evaluate the situation. Get clear on what happened. Who were you in the situation? Were you fully present giving it your all or were you only half committed? What changes need to be made to prevent you from failing again? Is this something that you are truly ready to commit to? If so, make a new plan, a realistic one, and recommit. Brush the dirt off your knees and make this goal your bitch. Just because we fall doesn’t mean we cant get back up and finish the race. Take what you have learned from your experience and apply it toward your goals.

Make a commit to remain open. You might fail again. And again. And again. That’s the beautiful thing about life. We are not defined by our failures but by the person we become because of them. Never let any experience occur, good or bad, without taking something from it. 

Continue to Grow. Expand. Evolve.

Trust the Process

I am a control freak. There, I said it.

I like things to go my way. When they don’t, I tend to get upset, frustrated, annoyed and angry. I might even shed some tears.

That is why I have deemed 2015 the year I allow myself to work towards letting go and trusting the process.

That’s it. That is my mantra. “Trust the process”. Because everything is a process and without trust in allowing things to be as they should, we tend to exert unnecessary energy in worrying about the outcome and potentially trying to make something be what its not supposed to be.

My husband and I are in the process of finding a new home. We have outgrown our current house and are ready to upgrade and settle down and eventually start our family. Buying a house is downright stressful. There is no hiding that. You think you find the one you want, you put an offer down and out of the clear blue sky something comes up. When buying a house, something ALWAYS comes up. The bank wants more paperwork, the seller is being a pain in the ass, there are issues with the inspection, etc., etc., etc. My personality is such that I want to find a house, close on the house, and move in. Now. I want to find my dream home and get it done. But that’s not how life works. It’s a process and one that takes time.

Patience has never been my strong suit.

Which is why my focus, intention, goal, resolution, whatever you want to call it, is to Trust. Trust the Process. Trust that things will work out exactly as they should and understanding that no matter how much I want to or try to control the situation, that wont change the outcome.

This has been huge in my yoga practice as well. You see all of these incredibly flexible yogis all over Facebook and Instagram who make full splits or some crazy arm balance look like a piece of cake. Seriously, how do they do that?!?!?! I get on my mat and the instant I get into my first warrior 3 I feel like someone has a vice grip on my glutes because my muscles are so tight. Or I get into standing splits and I can barely lift my back foot off the mat. This is where I really have to release control and to find patience in my body. I constantly repeat to myself “You are enough. Your body is beautiful, strong and exactly how it should be.”

The postures are a part of the process of working towards opening the body and embracing where we are at in our bodies. What comes up emotionally is the process of opening our hearts and minds to our truth and finding peace in that. Every day holds a completely different story for me on my mat. But, when I allow myself to show up, be present and trust the process I leave my mat connected to who I really am. I leave everything behind and allow myself to be open and accepting of myself and others.

Yoga is a process.

Life is a process.

Finding our truth is a process.

Everything is a process.

I will remain open.

I will trust the process.

Bring it on 2015!

Good things

Holidazed and Confused

It’s that time of year again and we are in thick of it. Christmas parties, booze, late nights, bad food, exhaustion, probably more booze, too many sweets, no sleep…..you get where I am going where. This is the time of year where we completely drain ourselves. The sad part is, we do this to ourselves willingly. I think it is safe to say that our ability to make good, positive, healthy, sound decisions completely goes out the window the entire month of December. It returns back in January left to pick up the pieces of our worn down, sick, hung-over, over indulged bodies. We treat our physical and mental bodies so horribly through the holidays, its no wonder why we set resolutions at the beginning of the year. But really, during December those New Years resolutions, goals, intentions, whatever you want to call them, only serve as a hall pass to do whatever the heck we want. So, we eat as much holiday candy as we can shove in our mouths, we have that extra glass of wine (every single time), we stay up way past our bed time and we completely give up working out because we have hit all time levels of exhaustion and, well, we will just hit it hard come January, right?

 It doesn’t have to be like this. Not at all. Not even close. We don’t have to drive ourselves into the ground all for the sake of having the best December of our lives. The holidays are a very exciting time of the year and with it come so much stress, pressure, anxiety, social gatherings, and not enough time spent on ourselves. Taking time to just slow down and breathe every now and then could do so much damage control.

Here are some tips to get you through the holidays to have a wonderful time while still keeping yourself at the top of your to do list.

  1. Don’t over commit yourself. Let me say that again: DO NOT OVER COMMIT YOURSELF. Seriously. It is so easy to do but, when it happens, you will instantly regret it. Take a look at your calendar and ask yourself what events, parties, socials, etc. you can omit for your list. What can you leave behind this year? Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to attend every single ugly sweater party you get invited to. Filling up your social calendar will only leave you tired, stressed and on the road to exhaustion. Decide what you can give up and stick to it. Trust me-you will feel TONS better.
  2. When you are at social gatherings, SKIP THE ALCOHOL AND SNACKS. This is what really starts to bring us down. Make a commitment to decide beforehand not to drink at the next party you go to and stick to it. We all know that alcohol impairs your ability to make good decisions and is full of empty calories (which is not flattering to your waist line). Speaking of not flattering to your waist line-lets talk about the snacks and unhealthy food that is served at most parties. If you know there is going to be a bunch of nutrient lacking, fat and sugar filled little devils that you can’t keep your hands off of, then eat before you go to the party. Have a salad with some protein to keep you full. One good decision leads to another so start the night off on the right foot!
  3. TAKE A TIMEOUT FOR YOURSELF. This is huge! I can’t stress it enough. Schedule a massage, meditate, take a restorative yoga class, spend an evening at home watching Christmas movies and partaking in an early bedtime. Whatever it is, slow down and spend time focusing on you and a little bit of self-care.
  4. STAY COMMITTED TO AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE. Spend at least thirty minutes three times a week exercising. Grab some friends and go for a walk or jog, take a group fitness class, hit up a gym, turn some music on and dance. Do what you have to do to move your body. The endorphins that are released during exercising will make you feel incredible and you will be more inclined to make better decisions throughout your day.

It’s really not that hard to take care of yourself during the holidays. You just have to want to do it and make yourself your number one priority. Don’t let the holidays come and go without taking a moment to stop and breath.