Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Do it with Fear {or} How Yoga Helped Me During a Boudoir Shoot {or}Stop Waiting

I couldn't decide on the title for this blog, so that's why I went with all three of them.  As many of you know, I am all about some fear and embracing our fears {within reason of course, I will NOT try to get over my fear of snakes, so don't even try to come at me with that one}.  So about a month ago, a friend of mine who lives in Charlotte, Jacquelyn, who is a photographer posted that she was going to doing boudoir shoots! She is an amazing photog and so I jokingly {in my usual self-deprecating way} stated that if she needed a test model that require a ton of Photoshop editing, I would be happy to come up!

P.S.  If you live in the Charlotte Area and need a photographer, please check out Jacquelyn's work! AMAZING!!!

Well, careful what you joke about.... a friend invited me to join a private FB group for a local boudoir photographer and her work was just as stunning as Jacquelyn's! I researched a little bit more about Elizabeth and discovered that she was very body-positive and I liked her viewpoint on boudoir photos as honestly the thought of me being in front of the camera terrified me, not even forgetting being scantily clad! But I realized that I didn't have to be scantily clad.  I saw models of all different shapes, sizes and colors, all covered up and then not so much.  So I did a crazy thing... I booked a shoot with Elizabeth! I even booked it for just a couple weeks out, as I was worried I would chicken out.

Also, because there is no such time as the "right time." Was I happy with the way my body looked and have I been happy with it? I'll be honest... Nope. But I decided to accept my body and myself and do the shoot anyways. I had seen that Elizabeth worked with "curvy" and "full figured" women and she posted on her website, that she wanted to shoot women of all different sizes and shapes. I could have booked it a couple months out {or even a couple years ha ha}, but that wasn't the point. The point was to accept myself now, in this moment and time. I could have worked out like crazy and dieted like crazy, would I have been happier? I'll be honest, probably not. That's where perfection comes into play for me. I still wouldn't have been 100% happy. That's the trap we fall into... Not skinny enough, not tone enough, not curvy enough. So why wait? Why set a likely unreasonable and unrealistic goal or expectation for myself that I probably wouldn't have met. That would make me feel really good right {enter sarcasm}? 

There is no perfect time. Stop waiting. How many opportunities have you missed because it wasn't "the right time?" What does that even mean? Stop living on autopilot and start living in the now!! Do it is with fear! Embrace that thing called fear. Stop letting it control your life and start leaning into it! What's the worst that could happen? Take the example above, someone could tell me the nasty things that I already sometimes think about myself. 

If you are a client of mine reading this, I've told you. I'm not perfect. I struggle with the same things you do. I body shame myself. But then I call myself out on it, practice self-compassion and move on. What if what you really wanted was on the other side of fear? What if you did fail? Was it still worth the risks you took? Did you learn anything? What if you succeeded? What if you felt empowered? What did you learn? 

I did this shoot for me. Not for anyone else. To feel empowered and sexy and all the other amazing feelings that I felt that "they" tell me I shouldn't feel or that I should feel bad about feeling. And in the spirit of honesty and transparency, I've never really felt really good about myself.  I've always felt awkward and out of place.  I usually blame it on my height, I can look back on photos from middle school and I"m a good head taller than my classmates.  I'm sure I've definitely projected that insecurity on others as well and they sensed it.  I've just struggled always feeling accepted, primarily due to my height.  Many of my closest friends...I'm a good 6 inches taller than them. And I won't body shame myself publicly on here.  I know my lack of confidence is seen by others.

I can't stress enough how incredibly powerful it felt to do this just for me. I've been inspired by so many other warriors the last few years, one of them being a friend from middle school. Funny as we both ended up being yoga teachers. She has taught me so much. She was a huge inspiration for me to do this. I admire her and am in awe of her. She continues to push herself out of her comfort zone, not apologizing for who she is and finally embracing the amazing woman that I saw back when we were kids... she's just now seeing her in herself.

Of course I have to bring yoga into this.  I was amazed at how some simple yoga poses helped me hold poses and allow me to center myself and feel myself in these poses.  Sama Vritti (equal ratio) pranayama (breathing) helped calm me down and reduce my anxiety.  Low slow exhales did the same.  Cat/Cow helped me arch my back and as Elizabeth frequently said "pop your booty!" I kinda made a game out of it when Elizabeth explained a pose and I'm sure she got annoyed with me when I said "oh like (insert yoga pose here)!" I used sphinx/cobra pose frequently and then almost a reverse puppy/melting heart.

I think I"m going to create a Boudoir Asana Sequence for Elizabeth to share with her models!

So I"d love to challenge all my fellow goddess warriors out there to do this! Book a boudoir shoot!

Really go out of your comfort zone! When you play the anxiety out...what do you really have to lose?  More importantly, ask yourself...what do you have to gain?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

That pesky "f" word again....

Fear.  Such an interesting word.  It can be consuming, keep us trapped, helpless, hopeless.  I've learned in the last 2 years that I needed to change the way I approached things in life.  I can either let fear define me OR I can embrace my fear {as I've talked about before several times on here}.  So what do we do when a feeling is triggered {hate that word} that causes us to freeze and makes us fearful?

Recently, some feelings were stirred up for me and ones that I didn't even realize I was struggling with.  These included feelings of abandonment and rejection..oh and I did mention that this also caused an onset of trust issues that I have never struggled with before? Good times! Ha ha!

I don't think I realized how abandoned I felt after my most recent trauma occurred and began processing those feelings with my therapist (yes, I see a therapist).  I've always struggled with what Brene Brown calls the "scarcity" problem, never feeling good enough, and those feelings were just amplified recently.  I realized I needed some time alone.  To sit with myself.  Be with myself.  Face some inner demons that I try to keep hidden and quiet.  But how?

Be careful what you wish for... an opportunity arose... go to India to teach yoga for a week. Well, I thought it was to just teach yoga.  Turns out, it was to co-lead a 50 hour Yin Yoga Teaching Training!!! What the????  So I decide to take advantage of the opportunity that was presented to me... go to India.  Yet another whirlwind trip to the other side of the world.  If you are a close friend of mine or family member, you know I was an ANXIOUS MESS before this trip.  It came together in less than a month.  I bought my plane ticket 2 weeks before I left... I had to start taking malaria and typhoid pills! I was traveling alone... something I haven't done since I was 19 years old and went to Canada... very different from India.

But I did it.  I went to India.  Alone.  I landed at 2:30 in the morning there and took a 90 minute cab ride to an ashram and prayed I wasn't being sold into sex slavery (got to love having anxiety! ha ha).

What a week though! I had the most amazing and life-changing experience over there.  I was fortunate enough to have a room alone where I was able to pray, meditate and reflect.  I had to sit with myself. Truly be with myself. How many of you can say you've done that?  We had limited access to internet over there, an hour a day.  So no distractions on being on Facebook or Instagram or other time wasters.  I had the amazing opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from all over the world, sitting around, talking about life and experiences. Being fully present with people. Mindful sunrise walks with the Indian Ocean beside me. Watching the sunset in complete silence with new friends on my last night. Walking to the beach and just sitting comfortably in silence with my fellow co-teachers who I had just met.   That's what life is about.  It's not about how many material possessions we have, but about what experiences we have.  What ignites the fire within us.  What we are passionate about.  What our values are. Being confident with our path, even if it's against the norm and doesn't adhere to societal expectations, or even family expectations and norms.

I gained and learned more about myself during that week is more than I have gained and learned in any other experience in my life.  Talk about embracing fear! It take a lot to be able to sit with yourself, without any distractions and to be ok with yourself.  I learned I crave a simpler life... no makeup, hair a mess, justing being.  Not doing.... being...

Another lesson I gained was the importance of traveling alone.  I felt so confident doing so.  The people I met in airports and had the honor of speaking with.  Everyone on their own journeys.  Of course, I completely understand that not everyone has the opportunity to go out of the country alone for a week, but I beg of you! Go somewhere alone! A hotel in your city, something! Turn off your phone! Sit and be with yourself. Be ok with the path you are on. Do you. Follow your passions. It brings me such incredible joy to be around people who have fun and are truly passionate about their lives. Who gives a fuck if it's different. Be yourself! Please! Embrace your journey. Embrace your flaws. Embrace your fear and allow it to propel you to your next adventure! What is really holding you back?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lessons from the Mat.....

I got reminded of an important mantra/saying this morning. And it's related to fear.  For the past year of so, I had decided to "embrace my fear" and "do it with fear!" and have certainly been preaching it to many others.  However, I realized today that I wasn't always embracing my fear at every opportunity that I could.  Today I was reminded that I still play it safe with my yoga practice....

I totally admit it, I'm very easily intimated by other teachers and taking their classes, especially if they are more "advanced" in their practice than I am.  Today, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a yoga class after the class I taught this morning, and it's one that has been deemed a challenging one {at least in my mind anyways}.  

So today in class, the amazing Jackie at Roswell Yoga Life encouraged us to "flip our dogs" aka "wild thing" while in downward facing dog.   I froze. This transition/asana has always intimated me, maybe it's because my lower back is usually sore, maybe it's because I think I suck or maybe it is because it involves some blind faith to a point.  Regardless, I skipped the first side.  Then it started bothering me...why not take the risk? 

So when it came time to do the other side, I just decided to do it... and..... I NAILED IT! {insert happy dance here}. And I realized it was actually quite easy to do, I had just let my fear make the decision and tell me that I couldn't do it or that I would fall on my ass, literally {said in a Chris Traeger voice of course}.  I luckily didn't fall on my ass, but so what if I had. Not the first time I would have tried a pose and not succeed the first time.  If I don't take risks or try, then I will never progress or meet my goals.  What kind of life is that? I want to move in life...forward, to the side, diagonal, any way really! {just not backwards if I can help it}

I was so happy when I left class. I texted a couple close friends and their response was "huh?" So I sent them a video and then they said they were proud of me! I also offered them the unsolicited feedback of how fear holds us back to much.  My friends LOVE being friends with me....I promise....

And to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I did wild thing on BOTH sides when I got home! BOOM!! Nailed it! 

So, in closing, think about what in your life is fear in control of. Is it worth trying? If you fall, can you get back up again? Brush off the bruised ego and keep trying and taking risks until you can succeed.  



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Body Shaming

Fat shaming. Skinny shaming. We all say it's what on the inside that counts, but as I look on social media and sit with females daily who all have different body types, skin colors and ages, I see that we are NOT practicing what we "preach." 

I did a little unofficial Facebook experiment the other day... Over the course of a couple days, I posted two articles on body shaming that actually promote body acceptance and a couple personal posts about an experience at the gym and signing up for a 10k. Guess which posts got more "likes?" Yep, the fitness and exercise posts. Did I get that attention because I'm being active? 

As a society, we talk about how we should all love our bodies but we don't make actions that align with that belief. We falsely believe that if we eat "clean," have a thigh gap, and a bikini bridge, that that somehow makes us immune to struggles and that we are somehow worth more. 

PLEASE NOTE- I am NOT advocating that we sit on our asses and stuff our faces with food. But let's be mindful of what we eat and even our exercise. Anything to excess is dangerous. Ask my anorexic client that began eating clean and slowly eliminated just about everything from her diet to the point that at 5'7" she weighed 76 pounds. Just as dangerous as someone that is extremely overweight and is bedridden as a result. 

Eating disorders are not a black and white thing. It's not someone that isn't eating anything at all or someone just compensating for what they ate. Just like people, eating disorders (or disordered eating) come in all shapes and sizes. 

I promise you are still worthy of love and belonging regardless of the fact that you might have a flat stomach or a flabby one! 

My social media feed is FULL of descriptions of everyone's meals and how much they exercised that day. I know I am overly critical and sensitive to these type of posts because I sit with women daily who tell me how worthless they feel because they work or have children and can't go to OrangeTheory or CrossFit that day and post their results of their workout online. Healthy striving is one thing, perfection on the other hand is unattainable. 

I honestly feel helpless at times at my job because of what society is telling me and my clients. All I'm asking is that we think about what we post... Does everyone need to see how amazing your ass looks hanging out of shorts? 

I am well aware that there is no right answer here. We need to encourage each other, especially as women and life each other up instead of tearing each other down. 

I spoke to one of my best friends the other day who is raising 3 girls and she is terrified for them. My friend is naturally thin and she was teased for that while growing up! I see comments and hear comments that someone needs to "eat a damn cheeseburger" or "go to the gym." It's ALL shaming. When we tell our friends while we are out "that girls needs to eat something, she's probably anorexic." Think about that. We literally just called that person a disease, a disease that has the highest mortality rate of ALL mental illnesses! It would be like calling someone heart diesease. And it goes both ways! 

I'm certainly guilty of making and thinking comments like that, of strangers, friends and myself. What I notice, is that when I do it, I'm aware that I'm struggling with myself and my own body image acceptance/issues when I find myself thinking or making those comments. 

I wish there was an easy answer to this. But there isn't. I guess what I'm ultimately trying to say is.... You are worth it. Yes you, reading this who has done or experienced unthinkable things... You are worth it. You are enough. You are with it. You deserve love. You deserve to belong. You are not defined by what you eat preheat your body looks like. We are our own harshest judges and critics. So I wonder what would happen if we started accepting our flaws and imperfections... How would that translate to our interactions with others? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. This was an impulsive post based on something I saw on IG which resulted in a discussion with one of my "tribe" members. Therefore, it's not fully thought it before you misread this or project on me. 

Repeat after me... I am enough. I am worthy. I am worth it. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Is it me? Am I the crazy one?

Funny how certain themes tend to weave their ways into various settings. I'll have the majority of my clients talk about the same theme during a week. Sometimes, it stirs up something in me too...that gives me additional insight into one of my own struggles. This particular theme has been one I myself have personally struggled with during different seasons of my life (just manifesting itself differently now) and one of my clients has continued to struggle with at various times in her life. 

Things clicked tonight in our session...
At least for me... Think she's still processing it. ☺️

One of my favorite sites is a site called "Elephant Journal," filled with various stories and blogs. Yesterday I came across this one....http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/10/i-am-not-who-i-once-was-who-we-become-after-trauma/ (sorry I'm not tech savvy enough to do a hyperlink on my phone! 😬). If you don't feel like reading the entire post, it's basically about how someone redefines them self after a trauma. And remember, the definition of a trauma is just something that happens to us where we don't have the ability or capacity to cope with it. 

What this brought up for me was how I am in the process of redefining myself after a trauma that happened to me a year ago. More insight from me later. 

My client was talking about another "mass exodus" of friends that happened recently and asked once again "is it me? Am I the crazy one?" This time, I answered her question (and mine) differently. "Yes," I said "it is you." She looked like she was ready to kill me but I took my time and said "you are different now." You are making positive changes now. You aren't making decisions from your addictive mindset. These 'friends' don't know how to interact with the healthy you." She paused, taking it in, and then added "the last time I lost a bunch of friends was a few months ago." I pointed out some of the behaviors she was engaging in back then, gently pointing out that she was spiraling out of control back then. Dina Strada, the author of the blog mentioned above, wrote that people either rise to their full potential or spiral out of control when facing a life crisis. My client is now choosing to rise to the full potential that she has kept hidden in the past as opposed to acting in shame and spiraling out of control. 

What it brought up for me on my way home were the times that I have also felt this way... Times when I wondered why friends stopped talking to me or whatever. Upon further reflection, I realized they were times I was in crisis or dealing with a trauma. So it was me. It is me now!! 

Being able to accept responsibility for myself though and realize that not everyone I know or were "friends" with is able to know how to handle my new life, the different choices and decisions I'm making. I'm ok with that. I'm only striving to have genuine and authentic relationships with people anyways. True friends stick around. They drive through the night across two states when you need them to simply hold your hand.  They talk to you at ridciously late hours when you are afraid to be alone. They offer to put together office furniture for you. They don't get offended when you say "no" and they support you and your crazy ideas, such as running a half marathon or doing a mud run. They continue to reach out and ask how you are doing and just say "I'm thinking about you." 

As a society we get very caught up in what we don't have (and thanks social media for perpetuating that) and we forget to be thankful for what we do have. We put our energy into people and things that will continue to enable us and ultimately reject us. 

What would it look like if you put your energy into authentic relationships? Took responsibility for your decisions and began to embrace who you are becoming? 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Life is short... Or is it

I have always said "life is short." Lately, I've been doing things with fear, taking risks, going on adventures and trying to be more authentic and genuine. I definitely know that many of us take things for granted (myself included) and have also lived by the motto "life is short."

Until I heard something the other day that made me really stop and think. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, "Anna Farris is Unqualified." Total guilty pleasure and she's hilarious. I want to be friends with her... I digress. 

Anyways, on her podcast, she has fellow celebrities on and they talk and then they call listeners and give them their "unqualified" advice. Chris Evans (Captain America πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ) was on last week and they somehow stumbled onto a discussion regarding how "short" life is. 

I was surprised when he said he didn't think life was short. His thoughts behind this was that we spend soooo much of our time regretting and thinking about the past and worrying about the future that we trick ourselves into thinking life is short. 

Made. Perfect. Sense. 

If you are one of my clients, I know I discuss mindfulness all the time and rave about the benefits of it. This is what Chris Evans was talking about. When we are present and aware of what's going on right now, time doesn't "fly by!"

Think about it.... Ever been on a vacation where you've relaxed and just been grateful and enjoyed what you've been doing. You aren't stuck in the past or the future but just enjoying the moment. Time doesn't fly by then does it? 

I know we can't be mindful all the time and I know we all have our pasts to work through and goals for the future, but don't get stuck on one (or both) of those ends of the spectrum. 

Be present. And then maybe time won't go by so quickly. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Time to be a kid again?

Something really hit me today. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I stopped... Sleep away camp for adults??? Not going to lie... My first thought was "sign me up!" How fun does this sound?! And it does sound fun... Everything we did at summer camps when we were kids, plus some added things since its for adults only! 

But after a few moments, I really started thinking about this. I laugh all the time and "jokingly" tell my friends that I "can't adult today." I chuckle inside sometimes when my teenage clients talk about how desperate they are to be adults! Oh if only they really knew, is what I want to say! 

Think about it though on a bigger level. What is going on with our society and culture where adults don't want to be adults anymore. Where we feel there are too many expectations and too much pressure to be a typical, functioning adult. 

Yes, coloring has the same effects on our brain as meditation does, but people are much more likely to pick up coloring pencils or markers and color as opposed to meditate. 

I feel there is CLEARLY too much going on in our lives and we are overwhelming ourselves (by not setting boundaries for example) if we are truly reverting back to childhood behaviors. 

Now before you jump all over me, I love coloring! I love drawing and using the right side of my brain to help me feel grounded and balanced. There is a great possibility that I will go to this adult camp and have a blast! 

But I also need to remember to slow down, to set boundaries, to say "no" and not overextend myself. To NOT do "all the things." To be mindful and focused on what I'm doing now, while still setting goals for the future of course! 

I just think it's time to stop and ask yourself some serious questions if you are feeling overwhelmed by being an adult. Is it because of people pleasing? Let's be honest, the busier we are, the more successful and important we are right? It is possible to numb out by being busy. If we stay busy enough and do "all the things" then our lives can't catch up to us right? Wrong. It will catch up. We can't outrun ourselves. 

So what's the middle ground in this? Have fun! Color! Play outside! Go to work! Socialize! Vacation! Pay your bills! Just set boundaries and start saying "no"
to some things. Burn out is a real thing and I think many of us are burned out on life! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!