Hot? Or Not?

Below you will find Lauren, Courtney + Halle’s experience with Hot Yoga. Each has a different lens and reason for being drawn to hot or perhaps not!

COURTNEY

I was introduced to hot yoga in Cincinnati. It was a time in my life that I was feeling things really intensely. My lifestyle was that way too, work hard/play hard. .When a coworker brought me to a hot yoga class, I was hooked.  I went everyday for 30 days to a 75 minute class taught in a 107 degree room.  After that intense beginning, I remained wholly committed.  Somedays I practiced twice in a day.  All of the classes were hot, mostly flow classes (90% were vinyasa-based). I saw myself as strong and powerful and fit (!?!?).  All of these feelings had been gone for nearly 10 years, since I quit gymnastics/dance. As my teaching and practice has evolved, so has my relationship with the hot room and yoga.  I still primarily attend hot classes. I am not one to sweat easily, so warm yoga can feel like unheated to me, and unheated can feel cold.  But I am a MUCH more thoughtful and humble practitioner.  Since starting yoga, I’ve worked through shoulder issues (still) and IT band issues. These bodies are fascinating. I can’t remember a time that I couldn’t touch my toes or do the splits.  But my upper body is very constricted.  A surgery I had in my late teens resulted in very tight chest muscles and muscles along the sides of my ribs (so forearm variations are both challenging and beneficial to me). My right shoulder isn’t happy with me, due to gymnastics and now repetitive motion from yoga. So the heat is more beneficial to me in some places than others. I go to a hot class because it is a place my mind quiets, it takes that amount of intensity to pause outside thoughts. And truly, thats where the work is, in quieting the mind. When I first started teaching, I thought it was important to have perfect alignment, to get to handstand, to push myself as hard as possible.  As I’ve practiced more (on & off the mat), I’ve discovered that push can be ego and not beneficial.

So if I really examine what motivates me into a hot room, its to limit distractions and encourage focus on days my energy is intense.  My original draw of reconnecting with myself, working through difficult times, and building confidence is no longer is limited to a hot room, sometimes its in a yin class, or a good book, or graduate school, or a relationship. I do feel grateful that wherever the work is, that I have yoga as a support system & a community to work through it.

HALLE

 Being a Division I athlete, pushing my body to limits felt like home. I began my yoga practice shortly after college in 2009. I had completed my senior year season as a soccer player in southern Ohio and arrived home. While my first yoga class was an all-levels class, I regularly attended hot classes as a "beginner" ( first 6 months of practice). I liked the intensity, loudness, the challenge, I liked sweating A LOT. 

And then I got back into running ( I needed a break from it after years of being told I had to!) And during my long distance training, I found other styles of yoga to suit my needs. And so this cycle goes and continues to go on and on. 

Some seasons encourage me to sweat it out in a hot room and peak over my physical edge.  Other times I prefer a gentle nudge and a sweet surrender.  

I would encourage you to go inward and ask what you need. Ask often. We are forever adjusting. 

LAUREN

Hot Yoga has been kind of a hot topic, pun intended, in my life since 2008.  When I first fell in love with yoga, I fell in love with hot yoga.  When I lived in Rocky River, I used to head to class 3-4 times per week.  I liked the sweatier and more crowded classes best!  I thrived on the vibe.  At this time, I held the belief that hotter was better.  This belief has since shifted in a big way for me.  

Fast forward a few months, I signed up for teacher training at Bhumi's, where the yoga taught was mostly traditional hatha and it was AWESOME!  I started to learn about all different styles of yoga, such as anusara, kripalu, yin, ashtanga, restorative, nidra, bhakti, etc.  I found something to love in each style of practice.  I still loved HOT but I loved other styles too.  I LOVED it all!

Then, somewhere along the way, probably due to improper alignment or the repetitive movements (too many of the same postures), I started to experience pain in vinyasa class.  I tweaked a shoulder first. It took about 6 weeks of backing off my practice before it felt better.  Then, I had a few days of unbearable neck/back pain and Gina Schatz (an amazing body worker!) helped put me back together.  Gina helped me realize that my body is hypermobile.  I have joints that stretch farther than normal.  So of course, I loved yoga! I felt GOOD at it because I was already bendy!  Uh oh, was yoga a way to stroke my own ego?  That's another blog ;)   During this time, I realized that the heat was potentially allowing my already bendy joints to experience even greater range of motion and at some point, more flexibility is not better!  In my time as a yoga teacher, I have observed bodies that were so stiff that flexibility would benefit them.  I have also, on rare occasions, such as in my own body, observed yogis who needed to build strength rather than flexibility.  Without some strength, there's no stability in these skeletons.  Yoga can do both, it can build strength and flexibility.  For me, at this time in my life, I need to shift my focus to building a stronger yoga practice rather than a more flexible one.  I didn't feel that the heat was serving me in this time. 

Once my pain was gone, my curiosity about what was best for my physical, emotional, mental body remained.   I dove deeper into the practice of self awareness and brought a curious mind to each class I attended.  Instead of blindly following cues, I got more comfortable following the wisdom of my own body.  Now, if I experience pain, I am quick to adjust.  I learned when to push and when to back off.  I skip a lot of chatarunga's.   I prefer a warm room.   I prefer to move more slowly with more attention rather than believing that faster is better.   At times, I have pondered the irony that I am a co-owner in a studio that teaches a LOT of hot yoga when I myself right now, prefer warm or unheated classes.   Today, I think it's a good practice to notice my own aversions and to get uncomfortable at times to grow.  I do feel that for me, heat is beneficial at times.  So, once a week, I attend a class hotter than I would prefer.  It's good for me, it makes me uncomfortable and that's a growth opportunity.  I make sure to hydrate and replace electrolytes.  I enjoy how I feel afterwards.  Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I even enjoy the process of getting hot. 

So, my purpose of this entire blog is that for me, hotter isn't better.  If you're still reading this long drawn out note to you, I hope you will give all kinds of yoga a chance.  I hope you will examine your own preferences.  I hope you'll follow your intuition. I hope you'll listen to the wisdom of your own body.  I hope you'll also use your mind and research the benefits of hot yoga.  These bodies that we get to walk around in are pretty amazing and I for one, want to treat mine with care.  Sometimes that means you'll find me in a hot room, sweating my ass off... and sometimes that means I'm at a 2 hour yin workshop moving slow like molasses. To each their own, but whatever choice you make,  however you practice, my wish is that is benefits you. 



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The October Challenge

3Sisters Yoga and Fitness is coming up on its’ annual October Challenge. The Challenge is a month long event that provides a set time for those of us who would like to take our yoga practice to a different level and/or a chance to improve our level of fitness. It can also be a time to experiment, explore and maybe even surprise ourselves.

Last October I challenged myself to do a certain number of classes and to try each and every type of yoga class that is offered at 3Sisters. Easy enough considering I’m retired and I love practicing yoga. But in addition, I decided to try a month long experiment. I thought I’d try to quit drinking alcohol for the month.Now we’re talking about a challenge! See last October I was 60 years old and had been drinking for longer than I can believe or really want to admit. I’ll call it 42 years ( since that makes the math an age where I would have been legal) but really my first “drink” was a sip of Stroh’s beer with my Dad watching the Browns game somewhere around the age of 12.  Hey, at least I had adult supervision. Most of my adult life I have been a daily drinker. A good one. Good in the sense that I could carry on at my job and appear to have life mostly together. And, good in the sense that I was good at drinking. Most of the time I could drink a lot and be “okay”. I actually had a sequence, a routine, on my big nights out. A couple of Tanqueray’s and tonic with a lime ( don’t want to get scurvy),  a few Vodka and grapefruit, more than a couple of ice cold beers and then usually a good glass of Cabernet and a cigar. Drinking was a big part of who I thought I was and how others thought of me. Friends (and quite a few bartenders) knew my routine and and we took some pride in knowing each other’s.  You get the picture... I really liked to drink. As I write and read this I really sound like a boozer but I never considered myself one. And my friends didn’t consider me one either. So I wasn’t really sure about this idea of not drinking but I thought it’s only for a month and hey, I’ll get in good shape and maybe even lose a few pounds.I am not a regular user of Facebook. I do, however, occasionally check the 3Sisters Yoga and Fitness page. On that page last September, a  teacher from the studio , Lisa, “ liked” a book called “This Naked Mind-Control Alcohol-Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life.”  The book is written by a woman named Annie Grace. I normally would never read a book with such a long title but, given my upcoming challenge/experiment,  I decided to get it and take a look.I started the book on September 29th. The author writes in the beginning that the book is about alcohol, education and choices. She writes “ by the end of this book, you will be free to weigh the pros and the cons of drinking  and determine alcohol’s role in your life... you can remain happy ( good, I thought, because  I’m a happy guy,) about your choice because it will be yours alone, decided from a place of freedom rather than out of obligation or coercion.” I really liked the sound of that. But it got even better. She goes on to write “ Don’t change your daily routine-feel free to continue to drink while reading this book”. Huh? Yes! Well at least for a few days before October 1st. So I settled in on my chaise with a Tanqueray and tonic with a lime and read with curiosity piqued but with no expectations.Well I couldn’t put that book down and I plowed through it in less than a week. And I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since October 1st of last year. After just a few weeks I didn’t really find it difficult to not drink. I haven’t had to “deny” myself or avoid certain situations , people or “triggers”. Annie Grace writes that “I drink as much as I want whenever I want, The truth is I no longer have any desire to drink.” I have come to feel the same way. Looking back on my experience it reminds me of that great scene in Forrest Gump where he has been running for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours and he stops in the middle of the road somewhere in the desert and says “ I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.” He goes on “ And just like that my runnin’ days was over”. Well, my drinkin’ days were a lot longer than Forrests’ running days. But if Forrest was a drinker like me he would have said “just like that my drinkin’ days was over”. In the book Annie Grace calls this “spontaneous sobriety” and I am very fortunate to have experienced it.

What has happened is wonderful. As a result of not drinking I have lowered my resting heart rate 10 beats per minute. I sleep better. I think more clearly. I I have lost and kept off 7% of my body weight. And my personal relationships are even more meaningful and richer. Another person who stopped drinking expressed  “it’s now like seeing everything in life in high definition”. It really is that way for me now.And perhaps most importantly I have found this feeling of complete freedom. (Just like the part of the long title of the book said I would!) I’m not sure I can explain it. Maybe someday. For now I’m just going to enjoy.I did meet my challenge of number classes at 3Sisters and trying every type of class offered. And I still have a tonic and a lime (still don’t want scurvy) but hold the gin please. 

I hope you challenge yourself at 3Sisters in October and maybe do a little bit of experimenting and exploring and maybe you’ll surprise yourself.

By: John, “the 3 sisters Dad”

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To ME from ME; when you feel uncomfortable

 

I opened my computer to write. It's a practice that I have leaned on for several years as a way to move ideas from thought energy on to the planet in a concrete, this isn't going anywhere, way. 

I have been stirring for the last several days. Searching for a rational, logical reason why I was/am in this state of discomfort. The full moon, I thought. Oh, wedding planning. Must be the transition back to work from a few days away. Works impact, I considered. Not moving my energy enough. High and low, we looked (my mind and I). It wanted answers and frankly, I wanted them too. 

The question: Why am I so uncomfortable?  

I, on occasion, send myself words of advice and counsel. I email them to myself from myself with a tagline that makes it easy for my future self to find. So this morning, It dawned on me that I may have some sweet words that may provide some ease. Sure enough. 

From:Halle (me)

To Halle ( me) 

Subject: Use this when you're not sure

Email's contents: Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Listen and stay. 

xo Halle 

The answer: 

Ah sweet sweet self. I am okay. And I am uncomfortable. And I will go to work. And I will breathe and be present. And hear stories and play games that help kids eliminate worry. And I  myself, may even be healed in the process ( no guarantees!) But old self, you wise thing you, thanks for the reminder to take a breath. and to pay attention. 

There is no answer. There is only the decision to stop running away from it. To lean in, even, and to listen. 

 

I hope this love note serves as a reminder to you. 

Sweetly,

Halle

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Inspired

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A few weeks ago I noticed my cousin, Carli, post a request; she was looking for one additional runner in an upcoming relay race in Colorado. We messaged back and forth, and without much foresight, I booked a ticket and took off two days of work to head there and meet her. 

The last two years have included substantial planning. The thick of graduate school, engagement and wedding preparation, work schedule and documentation, studio trajectory; dreams. I always felt like I could be doing something. And if I wasn't doing something, I felt a bit guilty. 

At work, I have been honing my craft. It has felt important to plan for sessions, leaving no room or space for doubt, and thus creating a sense of high pressure. To be a  "beginner" is a lesson and plus, I want to provide the best quality care.  But in the shuffle of paperwork and months of responsibility, without noticing, I began to put too much pressure on myself. I was serious all the time. How could I separate work from life? And if I did, was that precious time I could be researching to prep for the following day?

Something happened in Colorado. I was changed. I reflected and here's what I've come up with. 

On the final day, I took a yoga class at a nearby park. It was a silent disco experience where each participant received headphones that both played music as well as the instructor. She kept hitting home on this intention and letting go. The words that emerged for me were ENJOY and WORRY. I invite ENJOYMENT I let go of WORRY. These two cannot co-exist. 

Driving back to the airport, my Cambodian driver and I got to talking about the mental health field as he had been a social worker/case manager for 20 years. He said, " You get to see these people maybe an hour a week. A mark, no doubt, on their way of seeing the world, but they have to do it themselves. The goal is to help. The problems of life do not develop overnight, so why do you expect to solve it? If you're helping, you're doing the work. You cannot take the responsibility for another person's work. You can only help them help themselves. If you do this, you are doing plenty. And I can tell, based on your reflection, you already are. You will burn out if you keep doing what you're doing. Then you can't help anyone. Not even yourself. You must find balance. You must help yourself too. First." I cried behind my sunglasses.  He was right. 

Our team name was "out here chafing our dreams." We had shirts and pirate bandanas. Eye patches and swords. It was ludacris. and it was really really fun. dumb fun. simple fun. good fun. 

Carli and her friends are brilliant and kind. Funny and good company. Each have goals and find time to laugh. So our 2.5 hour nap in an ice rink that had been drained for our sleeping pleasure among 200 other smelly athletes trying to get a few hours of shuteye? It was inspiring. and eye opening. and tender. and thrilling. and had really bad coffee that tasted so so good. 

I ran my last leg of the race while the sun began to rise. I listened to rap music and ran down a steep hill for 2 of the 5 miles. I sent pictures to people I loved, I laughed. I soaked it up. Waved to cows. It made no sense and all of the sense in the world. 

I found that I am capable. I am already doing the thing I wanted to do. Now I refine the art of this skill, this shuffle, this weaving in to serve and still leaving enough space, a reserve just for me. I am enough. I am already doing it. I will continue. And on. And on. And on. 

Thanks to the team for reminding me of good fun. And inspiring me. You have helped me.  I hope you'll know. 

 

xo 

Hal 

 

 

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More of Me

I laced my old running shoes on and met an old friend for a stroll this morning. 

An hour passed quickly. We shared our whereabouts and doings. We talked about how some of our mutual friends are and what's new in their world. And we talked about risk taking. 

Both of us were in "career" type positions for the majority of time in our 20's. For her, corporate, for me, teaching. We used to meet one another after work for happy hour and count down the time to Friday. We once grabbed coffee on a Sunday morning and giggled at ourselves for being stuck in that "daily grind." 

Now, two years since our last visit, it's changed. We've changed. The choices we've made have led us in varying directions, but each of us out of the traditional sense of drudgery some people classify as work. 

I didn't select a different path than the rest for any other reason than I couldn't imagine my  life 30 years from now doing what I was doing; feeling what I was feeling. At the time of stepping away from typical was an adventure, an adventure that I wasn't really sure what it would look like in the end, but I knew I needed it to be different than what I was at the time. 

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I spoke recently with a mentor about what a risk it was to stop teaching being that, "Retirement is great, benefits are awesome, you get summers " but the reason I taught in the first place was because "kids are great. Learning is pretty cool." Unfortunately, time wore the shine out of teaching for me. The fallback and foundation shifted to waiting for Friday. 

And I am responsible for owning that as a story. But I think we're all partially responsible for owning THE story of working for the weekends, of work being lackluster. What if instead Monday was a delight? What if your trade, service, product was your gift to the world? And what if there was no stigma in allowing that to evolve? I wonder what Fridays might feel like then. 

I had not previously claimed my career change as courageous. I had put it in the bucket of "expectation" and moved on my way. But I'm ready to claim my bravery. I'm itching to grab it and say,"Yea I challenged my own comfort and made a decision to go after something that let me evolve into more of me." If you're not sure, try it. Especially if it evokes fear. Especially if many people are questioning your notion of leaving comfort. One of my favorite authors and life livers says, "Life is a series of being continually thrown out of the nest." Notice the fear and let go of the grip anyways. 

 

Halle 

My experience with the Mind Body Spirit Detox

My journey to wellness started July 2017 at 3 Sisters Yoga. I let the stress of my job control me and realized yoga was the answer. Through the wonderful community at 3 sisters, I met Lisa. My first experience was at her Saturday morning Hot Power Yoga Class. I had no idea what I was getting myself into that morning! Here's this pint sized lady with a huge presence and, I admit, I was intimidated. She creates a challenging class every week, but with her energy and guidance, I make it thru and do things I never thought I would be able to do. She is inspiring and real.

In the Fall of 2017 I heard some of the yogis talking during and after they did Lisa's MBS Detox. It sounded like a great next step in my journey, so I signed up. I had no idea what to expect and entered it with an open mind and heart. Lisa shares her knowledge, wisdom and guidance in a positive, kind and loving way. I grabbed on to every nugget of information she gave us and followed her instruction to the letter. It's only 22 days, right?

It's amazing how much I changed in such a short time. I'm present, clear minded, confident, calm, and accepting. The classes involve enlightening information, encouragement, support, community and yoga. Eating a clean diet, doing some decluttering in your life, meditating, self love and journaling is what it's about. The bottom line is if you put in the effort, the results are endless. My body thanks me, and even though the 22 days has come and gone, I'm changed forever. Thank you Lisa!

Tina Secondo 

 

 

The capacity for Ambiguity

Our collective society belief about love is that one day, after time spent with a special person, this person surprises you with a big question and an overwhelming feeling of joy and excitement washes over you. You have been eagerly waiting your whole life to meet "the one" and alas, down on one knee. 

I get that in the last twenty years, collectively we have shifted the paradigm of what things are supposed to be like, but in some ways, we really haven't. And so here is MY story of the tug-of-war, beautiful and collectively much more human experience. 

Dialogue started a long time ago between my fiancé and I. And in the last 6 months, ramped up quite a bit. "I know I want to spend my life with you, and I also know that we have a lot going in our worlds right now with jobs, school, and transition." { insert endless thought; what is the best time? do things ever really fall into place? am i crazy for wanting to just run somewhere and do the damn thing? does talking about heading to the courthouse today and saving money on insurance make me looney?}

The holiday hustle began, kids home from school, and I finished my masters program. With Sean in job transition, I was eager to celebrate my school accomplishment and came home after my last graduate class on a Wednesday evening; "I'm booking a trip to somewhere for a few days. I need sunlight and I deserve time away. I might drain my savings." 

"Woah, Hal. I'd like to come. Just pause for a sec." Sean replied.

{insert endless thought; annoyed that you haven't booked anything. anxiety is building. why am i acting like a child? what part of me feels unseen? swallow, gulp, I don't want to think about that right now. I deserve this trip.} 

Booked. One of our previously visited spots in Mexico where we could unwind. { okay, maybe he will ask me in Mexico. Hopefully it's on the first day so I can relax. -- I can't believe I even think that way. Shame on me. Halle, be gentle with yourself; you're just anxious. anyone would be.} 

Arrival at airport; deplaned due to weather issues. 

Arrive in Mexico; no bag. 

{ I'm so easy. I can totally handle "roughing" it without underwear and comfortable clothes for a day.} 

Irritability. Annoyance. Even rage creep up. 

And I felt ashamed for having these feelings. Why do I feel so uncomfortable in a beautiful back drop? Who cares if I don't have the outfit I wanted to wear on night one. The push and pull continued. I internally judged myself for wanting to go buy items and I judged myself for sitting still. I allowed negative thoughts to permeate each time I decided to wait. to go. to stay. to  move. to buy. 

It's really a pain to be your own worst critic. I couldn't get anything right.  But it wasn't about not having the stuff. It was about avoiding my stuff. It was about having absolutely no control and wanting to run from it. or stay so still it wouldn't notice me. It was about wanting to disown that I was so freaking uncomfortable in one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I didn't know how to make anything different. 

So the night we received our bag. We went to dinner. I put on an elegant top and hit the streets.

"Perhaps we could grab a blanket and go sit by the water with some champagne...." Sean mentioned. 

"Great!" was my reply. 

"Tomorrow..." he added. 

"Sean. I am so uncomfortable. I thought this vacation was going to be easy and relaxing. But I feel like I want to wiggle out of my own skin. We finally have our stuff, I have been waiting for you to ask me to marry you, and I just can't really handle it all. I am so uncomfortable." 

"It hasn't exactly been a prime time to pop the question Hal. We have been wearing the same thing for three days and you were pretty upset." 

We went back to the room and I fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and had a deep urge to write. to him or to me I don't know. 

" I am so sorry if I caused you pain or humiliation. I felt like a lion and wanted to deliver like a deer. When I close my eyes and quiet my logical mind, I would wait endlessly in the cavity of my heart center. Limitless time; non-linear; beyond this lifetime and into another. I think time has really tangled up how I feel. I feel like I can wait. I have led with fear and this is the result. I am so deeply sorry." 

I cried. and then I fell back asleep. 

The day Sean proposed I cried. His words were kind. and genuine. and graceful. and loving. I felt understood and accepted. 

We ate fishy oysters after and sipped champagne. And we kept it to ourselves. 

Society wants dates, and times. It wants a timeline and excitement. It craves my mind's logic. 

I am asked and practice listening to my heart. This deep goodness deserves affirmation and attention. And it deserves honesty and messiness and my discomfort. 

I think I'm even a little bit scared to give my mind the power back. In those days, I felt so unlike myself. I felt disconnected from my pulse. 

“If my heart could do my thinking, and my head begin to feel, I would look upon the world anew, and know what’s truly real.”— Van Morrison

I will get to a date and circle in red marker and send it to those that I love. I promise. In the meantime, I appreciate your kind words. your support. your excitement. 

My experience, turns out, was affirmed by many friends whom recalled "oh yea. no surprise here. I even lit the candles for the dinner; hell, I made the meal before my engagement." 

Ambiguity and transition are not really optional. The pile up of uncertainty and questions led me to wanting nothing more but to grasp tightly to something certain and as time ticked, as I waited for movement, the bigger the gap of no control-time felt. 

Carl Jung put it nicely, " Psychological or Spiritual Development always requires a greater capacity for anxiety and ambiguity." My "leaning in practice" looked more like a running away, sinking in, screaming at, and less like the graceful word of leaning. 

Here I am on the other side; one less thing uncertain; and knowing damn well that another wave of transition is on its way. Delicious Ambiguity. 

Love, Hal 

 

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3 Questions to wrap up 2017

Check out this little 3 question YEAR review to wrap up 2017, clear out the old and make room for the NEW!  I was lucky enough to catch this episode from  Marie Forleo, Marie TV. I  wanted to share this practice with you!

1. What are some of the big or little things that you created, did experienced, or accomplished that you are proud of?  This is important because we are super critical of ourselves and tend to think we didn't do enough. This quick question reminds us to be proud of ourselves!  Write it down and be PROUD!

2.  What mistakes did I make that taught me something?  What lessons did I learn that I can leverage?   

3.  What am I willing to let go of?  Give yourself a commitment colonic!  What are the projects, goals, that have been hanging around that you never get around to or no longer excited you?  What can you drop like a HOT pocket?! Get rid of any goal that is not aligned with who you are or where you want to go!  What guilt, shame, embarrassment are you hanging onto?  Let it go!  What stories are you telling yourself that aren't working for you?  i.e. "I'm too old to start a new career."  I'm not successful enough." etc.  Examine what's not working and LET it GO!

Take the time to review your year and prepare for 2018!

 

With Love & Best Wishes in the New Year, Lauren

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Making the Holidays Work for You

As I write, I am sitting in a small room at Kripalu, one of the worlds largest yoga retreat center's in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.   I had initially booked a trip with Courtney to Costa Rica, but when that fell through, I ended up here, alone.  I haven't traveled totally solo in 5 years.  I had a wonderful experience traveling solo in anticipation of my 30th trip around the sun, but that's for another blog.  

 

 So, back to Kripalu, I attended a class last night where the teacher, Jurian Hughes (google her if this resonates with you) opened by sharing something along these lines, "This time of year, this season, can sometimes bring up feelings for me about the holiday spirit.. like if I am not in the holiday spirit that something is somehow wrong with me or my life or I find myself measuring how far from the holiday spirit that I feel.".... WHOA, I felt myself exhale a BIG sigh of relief.  I had been conscious of these feelings inside myself, but for someone else to share it, I am so grateful that she voiced these feelings. 

 

Ever since my parent's divorce twenty years ago, we have had little to no family traditions.  Each year, we go to family members house.  It is often organized at the last minute.  There isn't a ton of pomp and splendor, just a gathering of our family & some good food.  It's not a sad story, it just is what it is.  We have a wonderful family and we are also a family without holiday traditions, those two things can mutually exist believe it or not.  As far as the gift-giving goes, I tend to be kind of an anti-shopper anyways, so the idea of everyone running out to stores to buy more stuff kind of gets under my skin.  The idea of someone buying me my 15th sweater or another pair of shoes or whatever, it doesn't light me up at all.  The sweetest words I can hear during the holidays are "let's not do gifts this year!'  For me, the overly sweet food, the overly scheduled weeks, the too much stuff, the constant socializing, the influx of catalogs in my mailbox, the focus on buying in every story I enter, it all just feels in the too much category.  Then, when I am not feeling festive, I wonder if I am a bit of a grinch?  

 

So, what I realized last night, is that it's ok to not feel festive.  There might even be other people out there who feel the same.  It's ok to question tradition.  It's ok to do nothing for the holidays.  It's ok to do LESS, it's ok to buy LESS, it's all OK!

 

Thank you, Jurian Hughes for this important reminder that choosing to celebrate differently, by getting quiet, by meditating, my doing yoga, by eating healthy, is also a celebration!  I am here, the week before Christmas, celebrating my body, mind, spirit connection and I can think of nothing more holy than that.

 

What are you doing this holiday season to make it sacred for YOU?

Love, Lauren 

#alternativeholiday #holiday 

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Doing the best I can

Several years ago, Lauren and I were talking, and she said " You know I try to operate from the idea that everyone is doing the best they can in that moment." I didn't really jump on it as something I believed right away, but it was an idea that tucked itself away in my brain, certainly, and surfaced ongoing in the next few years. 

I am imperfect. I am a human who has flaws and zits and make decisions that looking back I wonder what the hell I was thinking. But, you know, in the last few days, and again, just last night, those words surfaced in conversation with Sean. " I am doing the best I can," he said.

Ah. It helped me see him. So this morning, of course, from the sky of Universe, some words that Liz Ferro gave her Girls With Sole Program a few weeks back when I was with her, these words, and this piece of paper that I decorated with stickers to personalize it, it was lying on the ground just outside of the laundry room. 

"Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to? Be thankful when you don't know something for it gives you the opportunity to learn..  [be thankful for]; difficult times; because you grow; for limitations because they give you places to improve; for new challenge to build strength and character.; for mistakes, to teach you;

A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for setbacks." 

To choose over and over and over to recommit to taking a look and admitting when I'm wrong or was operating out what I knew at the time; geeze, that can be so hard. When I want so badly for things to just fall into place and work and the energy it takes to choose differently is exhausting, the words, "I'm doing the best I can" look like failure to another. But I am. I promise I am. 

There are stages of change that have been researched and captured to better understand just how much goes into "choosing differently." They are pre-contemplation: the NOT knowing that anything should/could/might be different. Then comes contemplation: the recognition that maybe something might benefit from being different but change does not occur. After that is preparation: the recognition that change is a good idea and planning starts to take place. 4th, is action: the doing part and finally maintenance: keeping up with the change. 

That's a lot, right? So imagine taking a microscope to a singular change. For example: I am going to get a dose of nature everyday. There's 1. not even knowing that's something that could be different. Then 2, realizing that's something that should be different. 3. Thinking about how I could go about being in nature everyday. 4. Actually getting into nature everyday and 5. Continuing to do that. 

It makes me tired thinking about it; and in the same sentence, I know small changes are part of the steps to changing my "I'm doing the best I can, and feeling like I'm failing," to "I'm doing the best I can and I know it's not perfect ( because I'm not perfect) but I'm going to keep trying to do this anyways and see what happens." 

It takes a tremendous amount of willpower to show up and look at my own places and spaces of life that challenge me. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to live in pre-contemplation; not knowing anything could be different. I wasn't promised waking up and making choices that cultivate a better version of myself was going to be a walk in the park. And sometimes I'd like to run really far away and see how that goes. ( I mean, Mexico is so beautiful). And the beautiful reality of having a heart beat, and getting a chance to breathe in and breathe out, means that I don't have it all figured out. That challenges and mistakes, and limitations, ultimately, do require attention + love. 

This morning, after an evening of challenging conversation that got me thinking I really don't have any of this figured out, I decided to pull out some vision and goals questions to peruse. (which is pretty hilarious that when I feel like I  have nothing together, I decide it's a perfect time for lofty goals). Court called and realized quickly that if she didn't show up in the next ten minutes I might be purchasing something bizarre, book a flight to the Northern Lights, or snot up my entire sweatshirt; so TGFC; her rogue arrived at my drive to talk. 

I am in ( and we all are) every stage of change in some part of my life. There are several things I don't know I need/could change that hang out around the edges and will show up in time. Lots of thought currently resides in contemplation; how can I be a better partner? What could I do differently to make the studio feel more _______? What do I want my life to look like in 10 years? 

Some parts of my life are in the prep phase: taking steps to create change. Like my new vitamin game, and decorating the house so it feels festive (yup, no Martha Stew over here). Action and Maintenance phase: grad school certainly, opening and operating a business, being in a relationship, friendships that I actively pour love into. 

I realize that even the version who I was those years ago, talking with Lauren, the one who was doing the best she could, I'm different than her. I have learned so much in that time. I committed to changes that absolutely have changed the trajectory of my life. I moved through these stages of change,sometimes with grace, other times with grit, and some moments dragging my feet and swearing. The years ago version of me would not see that I have more humility. The years ago me may not have known I would be softer, loving, and more rooted. I think I might even look back at her and let her know that I knew she was doing the best she could in those moments, and what's ahead is not easier, and it's not perfect, and it's still worth the journey to be thankful for the things that ask us to look deeply at imperfect selves, knowing what we've chosen has been what we knew to be best in that moment, that change can feel like a real doozy, and to try it anyway. 

 

xxoo Halle

 

 

 

 

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You're doing a pretty good job

I was born a do-er. From a really young age, I was a ball of moving energy. I moved until I couldn’t move anymore. I was exhausted from a hard day’s work ( or play). 

And each time I completed something, onward! And so naturally, I accomplished quite a bit without really noticing.

I have so rarely in my life looked back to reflect on all that I have … well… done. As soon as an ending approaches, the next door is being knocked on, maybe pushed open, and run through. The goal is the golden nugget at the end only to open yet another door and continue on. 

Walking with a friend this week, I felt so uncomfortable. I have completed a large portion of my Master’s program and the last few months are here. Wow. Two years ago I was just beginning. I was just opening books and wondering what counseling was all about. I spent my evenings cramming, questioning, and soaking up. And now I am spending my hours practicing, seeing, and listening.

I usually catch the “messages” of life when I hear them in more than one place or from more than one person at a time. Sitting down with my supervisor this week, she asked how I felt after completing my national exam. I responded, “I think, okay!” She peered over her glasses, tilted her chin down, and repeated, “ I think, okay. hm.” She and I discussed that sometimes in life it’s okay to celebrate that well, I’m doing a pretty good job. That I have found a space in connecting with others that allows me to serve what my heart has to offer. She ordered me to make a note on my desk “ I think I am doing a pretty good job.” The note sits in a special place to read, and re-read over and over. 

I don’t know if I hear it quite yet. I am in this in-between space of hoping that what I am doing is enough and good and helpful and making the world better, in some way. And yet, still a voice inside asks me, “Now what?” 

I have contemplated on why I have this urge nudging me forward without hesitation to look back, reflect, and enjoy. Part of conceptualizing has led me to upbringing. My parents are strivers. I mean, both are Dr’s in respective practices and in each arena of life, boundaries continue to be stretched. My Dad didn’t just run, he ran marathons. He ran a 200 mile relay, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with a $30 backpack. My Mom didn’t just go back to school, she studied for eight years and completed a Doctorate program. She opened her own practice. 

Another reason perhaps is that I was born busy. I think my insides sometimes are like busy bees working all the time. (they don’t sting!) The settled bee hive has its moments, but more often than not it’s work in there! 

I also think I have high expectations because I know I have work to do while I’m on this planet. I want to give as much as I can for as long as I can because that’s what it’s about. We leave with nothing, so what can I give? 

Regardless of its roots, I grapple with the two sides: Holding the belief that I am doing a good job and knowing that there is more. 

I think of it as a teetor-totter; and the goal is balance. When I am having a hard time believing that I am purposeful and accomplished I :

  • list goals I have crushed
  •  look in the mirror and smile at myself
  • put on my running shoes and hit the pavement
  • listen to hilarious college music to take me back
  •  write down things I feel proud of  

And when I am eager for what’s next I :

  • get quiet and ask myself simple questions like what do I need? how can I get there?
  •  make lists
  • breathe deep
  • try to take it one step at a time
  • peruse the internet for ideas
  • connect with others
  •  talk it out. 

Although balance is beautiful, it is rare. More often we are at 60/40 or 30/70. A small nudge may be all I need to remind myself that I am already part of something beautiful and so long as I’m here, there’s more to do.

 

xo Hal 

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