Facing our Excuses

“Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing” ––Steven Grayhm

Tonight I heard a new song, and my first impulse was to throw out my yoga mat and move. I have two little ones now (and another on the way!), and I believe this internal urge to move with music is hardwired into humans. Some of us adults sadly have learned to squash it. Tragic indeed. So there I was, lying on my bed, and I hear Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” for the first time. I immediately get the itch to vinyasa. Then, my mind gets involved and goes, “Weird. Country music isn’t for doing yoga, and I’m just too wiped out to move.” However, I caught my sneaky little mind making excuses and I followed my initial impulse. Once again, I’m amazed at how 15 minutes of mindful movement alters my state of mind and my physical wellbeing. My mind is clear and peaceful. My legs feel lighter. My breath comes easily. My back isn’t so achy. Letting go of all that stagnant tired energy and intentionally inviting in something new is so refreshing, like hitting a re-start button. I know these benefits well and yet, I resisted.

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Why do we resist change? Even momentary or incremental change, like doing a few minutes of yoga when you’d rather stay in bed. I’m talking about good and life-giving change. Like caring for your body. Getting off your bum, putting on your shoes, and going for a brisk walk. Meal planning so you eat the best, freshest food. Carving out quiet time to refresh your spirit or honor the presence of God. Developing daily habits that improve your quality of life. There’s no question these things are good.

Maybe I resist change because I’m a stubborn little donkey. Maybe it’s because change requires growth, and growth is often painful on some level. Perhaps it’s because needing a change signals that what I am currently doing could be better, and I like the comforting idea that I am doing just fine, thank you very much. Here’s the biggest reason for me: Change means I have to humble myself and let go of my excuses. My excuse not to do a little yoga was a tiny example of something that I see in other areas of my life. I like my excuses. And I have two beautiful, energetic little people (and one on the way!) who make really good excuses for all sorts of things, from not exercising to not making time for date night. Its a lose-lose for everyone because if I trick myself into thinking this busy stage of motherhood is the reason I can’t _________ , then I will on some level resent the kids, which affects the way I parent. But mostly I lose for the obvious reason that if I don’t face my own excuses I will not grow.

I feel this inner resistance pop up whenever life asks me to shape-shift and take on new responsibilities and roles. Becoming a parent was a big change, and growing into a better parent requires many small changes every day. Going from one child to two required a new version of myself, a change I resisted. In my resistance, I stopped caring for my physical wellbeing the way I needed to and slipped into some classic mom martyrdom. Because, you know, no one besides me can care for the children properly. They need me every minute. So not true. Just excuses.

Lately I’ve been working on self-awareness in this area. I have come to a place where I am willing to tell myself a new story. I’m tired of that old tired one. I want to show my kids a mom who cares for herself. Her physical health, her God-given passions, and ALL of her relationships. I want to show my kids a mom who joyfully lives her best life. While there are some things I am putting on hold for this season of life, I want them to know what I am passionate about, what makes my body buzz and my heart feel full. Life has many unique seasons; I am committed to the challenge of growing and finding joy in each of them. I have found that I’m not able to do this while holding onto my excuses.

I resist taking photos of myself doing yoga, because it’s “like, so cliche” but that’s an excuse too! I love seeing other people on their practice path, doing their best. It’s something I miss about teaching. I resist sharing my love for movement and yoga with others because it requires me to put away my excuses and extend myself. Yes, today my practice looks different than it did before kids, when I’m not pregnant, and when I had more free time. But I still feel passionate about the vital importance of intentional movement and caring for one’s body, and I want to share that with others. So here’s my encouragement/exhortation to you: Have a good chat with yourself or maybe your spouse (if they use kind words), and examine the ways you use excuses to not live your best life. Step out of your comfort zone and become aware of the stories you tell yourself.

As you bravely face your excuses, remember to give yourself grace. We’re all a work in progress.

On days when the little one’s naps don’t happen at the same time, it’s easy for me to feel frustrated that I don’t get time to myself… Or I can remember to remind myself that this one-on-one time is so precious.
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The glass is half full, no it’s running over 💛

View on Path

My Precious Coffee & Inner Strength

Hands holding a coffee mug

I felt an uneasy feeling of guilt, the stillest of smallest voices, as I pushed the top down on my AeroPress. The delicious aroma of rich, fresh coffee filled the cold morning air with a warmth that welcomed the new day and reminded me that I could indeed survive out here in the kitchen, away from the comfort of my bed. I sat down in my favorite chair, clutching that hot coffee mug as though it’s contents held the secret to life. Ahhh, my precious

I wondered about that still, small voice that had recently made me feel uneasy about enjoying something so simple as a cup of joe. It had been tugging at me for a week or so. Was it some weird Puritanical urge to feel guilty at anything that brings pleasure? Maybe I should just suffer through the morning with some boring black tea to build character. No, that wasn’t it. Was I feeling guilty because I was worried about the caffeine when I am pregnant? No, my midwife gave me the green light to have one cup of coffee. Maybe it was because it was Lent, and although it’s not my practice to observe Lent, perhaps I was feeling that I should be doing so?  Nope, that wasn’t it.

After a few mornings of feeling funny about drinking coffee and knowing well the source of that still, small voice, I finally asked God – what’s up?

Do I need to give up my morning cup?
Yes, you do.
Ok, for how long?
Five days.
I can do that! I’m pretty sure that Lent thing is 40 days, so I’m getting off the hook easy!

Five days was how long it took for me to learn what I needed to. The lesson had nothing to do with coffee itself. It was about where I draw my strength from and where I lean when I am stretched thin and challenged. I think it’s one of the most important lessons I’ve recently learned because it spoke to the heart of my identity, showing me what I reach for to feel strong and capable.

I’m not going to say that being a mom is the hardest job ever, but for me, it has challenged me to grow (in sometimes painful ways) in a way that nothing else ever has. My sweet baby boy is now almost two, and although I LOVE him more that words can say, these days I have many moments of exasperation and of… well, not totally liking him. Anyone with a toddler knows that everything is a phase. The sweet, happy charmer one day can become a tiny tyrant the next, leaving you pulling at your hair and either praying for patience or cussing under your breath. The week I laid aside coffee happened to fall on a very intense week with the little guy, and dad was out of town on a work trip, so I was left to handle the midnight tantrums and public daytime meltdowns on my own. I really needed that flipping cup of coffee… or a dirty martini, but again, I’m pregnant, so that wasn’t happening. I had been reaching for the cup of coffee like it was my well-spring of life. I gratefully slurped down the hot liquid, knowing and trusting that it would turn my tired, pregnant brain back on, giving me super-powers to get the day going, despite that fact that inside I felt weak, tired, selfish, and not enough.

Under the illusion that my sacred cup of coffee was bolstering me up, I became weaker in my inner being, in my spirit. “IF I start the day with a good cup of coffee, I can handle everything with grace.” Of course I rationally know that’s not true. Coffee may perk my brain up, but it does nothing to strengthen my spirit. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, where my true strength comes from. And yet I forget to turn there so easily. I so easily replace a vibrant, life-giving relationship with my Creator with cheap tricks, a quick fix, and crutches. As I came to understand the heart of my coffee issue, my eyes where opened to the other areas in my life where I misplace my security and strength:
If I always have a well-stocked kitchen full of only organic, whole foods.
If I know how to sprout my own grains and ferment my own sauerkraut.
If I learn everything there is to know about health and wellness.
If we have “X” amount of money in savings.
Then I’ll feel strong and capable. Then my family will be healthy and safe. Then I will feel happy and content.

Of course, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with putting an emphasis on drinking great coffee or eating clean or staying healthy or cooking well (or whatever your thing is). But we have to be honest with ourselves when our dependency on them becomes too heavy. I’m not talking chemical or physical dependency, I’m talking spiritual dependency. Our spirits have a much higher capacity to shape our outlook on life and our responses than any crutch we can dream up. And it’s easier to ignore our spiritual “health” when we are looking in the wrong places for help.

What’s your crutch or your cheap fix? How can you let it go, even just for a time, to discover or remember the richness of your true source of strength and power?

PS As a note of encouragement to other moms with little ones, since I wrote this post, Aiden had already moved on to a more enjoyable, easier phase. If you’re in a tough spot, this too will pass!!

How Long is a Year?

I meant to do this post after Aiden’s first birthday in the middle of May… but then “summer just flew by… ”

I bet you have heard a version of that phrase more than once lately; a mom commenting about how she can’t believe that it’s already time for the school year to begin or a college student lamenting that summer ended too fast. I didn’t realize how much rhetoric we constantly hear about how fast time is flying until Aiden turned one. I felt as though I heard the following phrase a hundred times: “Can you believe how fast it goes by?!”

I remember hearing the same thing when I was about to get married. Well-meaning friends would say things like, “Don’t worry about the details. The day is a blur; you won’t remember much anyway!” I didn’t want that to be my experience. I set an intention to consciously slow down the day and savor each sweet moment. And I did. I loved my wedding day. It was one of the best days of my life. I took a yoga class that morning, enjoyed a delicious  burger and champagne with my friends, cherished the sacred vows I exchanged with my love, and thoroughly enjoyed the friends, family, food and dancing. I still remember the smell of the ocean air and the feel of the breeze and sunlight on my skin as I walked to the ceremony. I was high on life and pure love.

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Aiden’s first year

As I look back on the first year as a mom, I don’t feel that time has somehow flown by or that I have missed something I should have captured. I have been there with Aiden every day, and I have been intentional about being present for each moment. Yoga teachers talk a lot about being present. It’s almost a trendy topic. And one might get the idea that presence is something you cultivate on your yoga mat while wearing Lululemon and perfecting bird of paradise pose. While yoga can be a great tool for teaching us to be in the moment, I have not had any experience teach me this lesson the way motherhood has.

I am guilty of getting lost in the black hole of social media, entertainment, or online shopping. That time seems to disappear into thin air. Being glued to a screen can quickly take us away from the here and now, and I know I’ve used it to escape when life seems dull. But here’s an important exhortation to myself and to other new moms: Hold that little hand and look into those pure, innocent eyes when you are feeding your baby. Put your phone away. You want to make time fly by?! Surf the newsfeed on Facebook while your precious little one is in your arms, against your skin, close enough to kiss. I promise that you won’t read one thing that surpasses the importance of the bond and trust that is being developed with your little one.

This time never comes back. You won’t get these days again. I firmly believe in putting our child(ren) first and your career/job/hobby second. No, that doesn’t mean giving up your own thing; I think it just means keeping it in perspective and realizing that life has seasons. I’ve not once heard an older woman say, “I really wish I had spent more time at work and less time with my children.” I’ve always heard the opposite. It’s easy to lose sight of priorities when the routine tasks of life lull us into a coma. It’s easy to lose heart when we live in a society that undervalues a mother’s nurturing role. I’ve found for myself that it takes intention and effort to stay engaged and present.

Our words have so much power. I am making a conscious effort to stop saying things that reinforce the idea that there is not enough time. Time is not my enemy, and I don’t have to fight against it. This moment is all I have, and it is good. When I’m about to say, “I haven’t had time to do such-and-such”, I’m working at stopping myself and saying, “I haven’t chosen to do that.” I want to take more responsibly for my life experience rather than feeling like life is happening to me.

If you believe that time is flying by and you’re inevitably going to miss out on the sweet everyday moments, then you will certainly experience that. Being present requires surrender. It won’t always be easy, but I believe it is so worth it. You have a choice. Time isn’t going anywhere.

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once
~ Albert Einstein

 

Rise n Shine!

I’ve never been a “morning person”. In fact, to me there are few simple pleasures in life as lovely as curling up in warm covers in the morning and drifting back to sleep. Ahhh…

Enter baby. There is no snooze button on my little one. When he is ready to rock n’ roll, he is quite vocal about it. And thus the day starts on my baby’s terms, not my own. This is just part of being a mom, and I roll with it. However, I do get frustrated with myself when I’m still in my pajamas at 11am staring at a sink full of dried egg-encrusted dishes. #stayathomemomfailure

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It’s time to play!

I have the privilege of primarily being a stay-at-home mom. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! The few hours I do go to “work” each week are spent giving bodywork and teaching yoga, two of my biggest passions. You won’t hear me complaining about the tedious work of stay-at-home-mommyhood because I love my life, every bit and facet of it. I will say though that unless you get your game face on for rocking the stay-at-home gig, it can feel as though you are slipping into some sort of domestic twilight zone. I’ve found it vitally important, for my sanity and the overall health and energy flow of my home, to treat my role like any other job. The biggest factor in how my day goes is my diligence with committing to some sort of morning routine. Something that sets me on good footing for the rest of the day.

Whether you’re a home-maker trying to avoid the 11am pajama scenario or an entrepreneur determined to hit your goals each day, may the following suggestions for a butt-kicking morning be as helpful to you as they’ve been to me. I certainly don’t nail this list every morning; I’m putting these into writing as a reminder to myself too! But on the mornings I do hit most of these, the whole day takes on a better tone.

1. Give THANKS

Before your feet hit the floor say a quick prayer of gratitude. This might be as short as “Thank you God for giving me another day, thank you for my breath” or it might be more detailed. Gratitude it crazy strong magic.

2. Set an Intention

At the start to each yoga class, we begin by setting an intention for our time on the mat. I’ve found that to be a powerful practice that overflows into the rest of my life. Starting the day this way is so important.

3. Rehydrate and Flush to start fresh

Drink a cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon or a few drops of a pure  therapeutic grade lemon essential oil. The health benefits of this simple practice in the morning are impressive.

4. Move that Body

Stimulate your energy flow by some simple massage and movements. Start with massaging your ears. The outer portion of the ear is viewed as a representation of the entire body. As with other forms of reflexology, points on the ear correspond with specific areas of the body. Massaging these points can produce therapeutic benefits in the corresponding body part or system and it just feels really good! Next, massage your scalp, then your chest, working outward from the sternum to the crease where your arm meets your torso. After your mini self massage, do a few gentle exercises that feel good to your body first thing in the morning (more on this in next month’s post) or put on some happy music and have a little dance party in your kitchen. Just. Move. Yo. Body. It’ll clear the energy cobwebs. If you have time to add on a little morning run or a full yoga practice or whatever your thing is, get it done!

5. Fresh air and sunlight

Even if it’s cloudy and gray, getting outside and taking some deep breaths is one of the best ways to start the day. Exposure to sunlight helps your body create hormone levels that help you feel more awake and alert.

6. Make a Nutrient Dense Breakfast

Breakfast is not the time to get lazy about fueling your cells. Think veggies, complex carbs, and some good protein. Enjoy the ritual of making tea or coffee.

7. Shower.

Water is so refreshing and wonderful. Besides, you’ll thank yourself when 11am rolls around! If you don’t have time to shower or you’re conserving because there’s a drought, just wash your face with alternating cold and warm water.

8. Get dressed and put yourself together

No, you don’t need to look like you just stepped off the cover of Vogue, but seriously, pull it together. “I wish I hadn’t looked my best today” said no one… ever.

9. Make Your Bed

Because you’re an adult. Plus, the whole room looks better almost instantly. Studies show that accomplishing even small tasks can trigger activity in the reward centers of the brain, motivating you to accomplish other tasks!

10. Do the Dishes

Unless you have a maid coming, do the breakfast dishes ASAP. No, that pan doesn’t need to soak any longer.

Extra Credit:

Throw something in the crock-pot for dinner!

(*Please note, if you have a newborn at home, ignore all of this and get as much rest as you can! Let someone else do the dishes, and enjoy those PJ’s!)

Gluten-Free Pancakes

Gluten Free Pancakes

There is nothing like sitting down on a Sunday morning to a hot stack of pancakes right off the griddle, topped with real butter and pure maple syrup. My husband and I went gluten-free a few months ago (totally worth it), and giving up pancakes wasn’t all that sad to me because I had never felt very good after eating them. Recently my mother-in-law (thanks again, Rea) came up with the best recipe for gluten-free pancakes, and I have to share it because they are so so good! Even if you’re not gluten-free, I promise you’ll love the flavor, the texture, and you’ll probably even notice that you still feel full and satisfied hours later.

In a blender combine:

1.5 cup milk   (could substitute soy, rice, or almond milk)
1 egg   (could use egg alternative)
1.5 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Pancake Mix
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup coconut oil (melt it before adding)
1/2 banana
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
splash of water as needed to blend

Blend all ingredients in the blender until mixed well and drop about 1/4 cup mixture per cake on an oiled hot griddle or cast iron pan. So easy!

I love lots of protein at breakfast, so I topped one stack of mine with my favorite smooth almond butter and honey.

Enjoy!

Hello world!

I am passionate about living life to the fullest, and I believe that the way we care for our bodies carries over into all aspects of our lives. Trying to sort through health advice can seem overwhelming and sometimes contradictory. My goal is to bring you simple, straightforward information and usable health tips to encourage and inspire you to live well!

Many people think of wellness as being free of disease. I think it is so much more than that! It means being healthy and vibrantly alive on the holistic level: body, mind, and spirit. It’s the kind of wellness that is both the catalyst for and the result of living with joy.

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