Motherhood.

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There is an overarching societal belief that when you give birth to a child you instantly become blissed out and deeply connected to your baby.  For me, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

It has been an arduous and lonely road stepping into mommy-hood with this being beginning from conception.

My boy is approaching double digits and I feel as though we have landed in our sweet spot. We have found our way into that bond that we missed when he was a baby.  Our hearts beat together and our systems have settled in unison.  As he reaches towards more independence in the world, he simultaneously is stepping closer to me and I to him. 

We have navigated over 8 years alone together and have a bond like no other.  We have grown together, laughed together, cried together, screamed together in anger and in joy. We have learned the art of relationship and the power of repair. We have held each other in the darkness and celebrated the light.  We are an invincible team.  I am reminded constantly that it is never too late for anything, even that deep connection with your child.  

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Trauma, post-partum depression, and the effects of abusive relationships can have tremendous impact on the ability to bond with ones child. 

Mothers need support, to be held in whatever state they are in after birth. They need compassion and community. They need love and acceptance.  I felt such shame that I couldn’t bond with my son – such failure as a woman and a mother that I couldn’t nurse my baby, comfort my baby, hold my baby with ease. I felt so much angst in myself at the unacceptable feelings that I was having about my new role as Mommy. 

The struggle is real for so many women.  May we look out for our women, for those that are becoming mothers, those that are in the thick of motherhood and reach out without judgment. May we remember the massiveness of this “job” and honor it in all of its flavors.  May we approach the women and mothers around us with reverence and kindness – knowing in our hearts that no matter what one’s outer situation is we have no idea what is going on inside of them. 

May we hold the space for others to step out of the shame and into empowerment of their life situations and circumstances. 

And may we remember that we are never truly alone, even in those times when it feels the most lonely.

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A New Beginning

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"And suddenly you just know...It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings". 

~Meister Eckhart

I am a big fan of everyone being exactly who they are.

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My teaching, coaching, and facilitation are all influenced by my navigation of and healing from trauma, an eating disorder and other addictions, the trials and tribulations of single motherhood, and other life’s challenges.  I truly believe that from pain comes wisdom.

I take pride in my capacity to share with authenticity from a raw and human place -- breaking down the barriers to our humanity. It is always my intention and hope that inspiration can be gleaned from hearing of my healing journey and the transformational impact that this work has had on my life; shedding light on the dark.

My strength and competence in supporting others in their personal healing is a direct result of my personal experiences.

My life’s work is to bring those that I have the privilege of working with, closer to that raw experience of their human existence.  To support them in releasing debilitating addictive patterns and to be real, authentic, vulnerable, and accepting of themselves.  To own who they truly are and to share themselves from that place of embodiment and aliveness.

At the turn of every year there is that opportunity to begin anew.

To step more fully into our uniqueness as humans alive on the planet right now.

We have the fortuity to gain clarity and awareness around that which we would love to change in our lives, what we want to let go of, and the vision for how we want to be living.  It is a powerful time of reset.

The prevalent path at this time of year is to take on many ambitious goals, to jump into making them a reality, and then to tank after a few weeks.  I am certainly not immune to this scenario.

What I am interested in is how to create sustainable change.  How do we actually decipher what it is we want to shift, morph, let go of, call in, and create in a way that is sustainable?

To me, the key to doing so is to embody our intentions.  To take in all that is being asked to shift and breathe it into our bodies, into our hearts, and into our souls.  To palpably feel how we desire to feel in our lives.  To discern what it would feel like if we start exercising more, or limit our social media intake, or change careers, or…

Whatever it is that you have on your plate to shift this fresh New Year, perhaps take a moment and feel into the direction that you are moving in? Can you hone in on what steps need to be taken while remaining connected to a felt sense of where you are going?

Once we are able to feel in our bodies, our hearts, and our souls the direction we want to move in – we create the imprint and have that as a reference point as we continue to navigate life.  We can continuously come back to that felt sensation and check in with ourselves.

Does this particular action feel aligned with my embodied intentions and the direction I desire to move in?

From that place, the potential of sustainable healing, change, and creation are abundant and an exciting new beginning is inevitable.

"Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life".

~John Lennon

The Power of Gratitude

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"When I started counting my blessings my whole world turned around".

~Willie Nelson

The astrology as of late has been swirling, churning, and digging up some skeletons.  I certainly feel it and hear stories of a similar flavor from clients and friends.

In midst of the chaos of the times how can we remain centered and grounded in a space of love towards ourselves and those around us? Always an inquiry and opportunity to drop more deeply into our practices and create small yet potent ways in our day-to-day to access that space.

Can you infuse your body with love?  Can you meet each moment with a feeling of gratitude and trust that all is truly unfolding exactly how it is supposed to? Can you tap into that sense of joy and appreciation in even the most mundane of moments?

Remembering that it is up to us to make that choice to shift into a space of love and gratitude, especially in those moments when it is hardest to access.

Giving permission to slow down, tune into your breath, put your hands on your body and remember your presence and aliveness.  Orient yourself in whatever way possible to the current moment and find something to feel grateful for. Anything.

Gratitude and appreciation are contagious and when we begin to appreciate our lives the gratitude builds and infuses our everyday existence.  We create the opportunity to cultivate the space to live in appreciation of this magical existence we call a human life.  This is where the good stuff lies.

Where the expansion and possibility intertwine and the rightness of who we are is undeniable.

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Fear or Love?

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“She was powerful,

not because she wasn’t scared,

but because she went on so

strongly,

despite the fear”.

~Atticus

Keeping it real!

NO ONE is exempt here.  Fear is a natural and normal part of the human condition.  It is part of the territory of growth and healing.

Growth can be scary.  Sometimes it feels as though you are about to jump off a cliff and do not know if there is a net to catch you.

It’s what we choose to do with the fear that is crucial. We can oblige and pull the covers over our heads OR we can step in and step past the fear into possibility.

When we choose to continue to step forward into the unknown – despite the fear – our strength builds.  It is always an opportunity to build our confidence in who we are as our upright and whole selves.

It is scary to let go of sabotaging patterns. Addictions serve to some degree and we consistently make the choice to step out of them – away from the cycle – what is left is so pure, raw, and often foreign.

I have witnessed in myself on my own path as well as with clients over the years the tendency to collapse into fear during a big growth spurt.  When we are being reorganized and healed from the inside out it is foreign territory and naturally our fear-based survival instincts kick into gear.

What do we do in those moments? 

Continuously meeting that fear and taking steps forward on your own behalf is the work.  There is that moment, that pause, that I call the “sweet spot” in which the opportunity to allow in the space, the breath, the self-soothing to interrupt the cycle. These are the moments that become golden opportunities to sustainably shift patterns and step more fully into who we are. To feel ourselves through the fear and to cultivate that strength and faith and to continue on despite the scary unknown.

The step out on the other side brings another layer of strength and perseverance. 

Holding ourselves closely with love and unwavering support to become bigger, brighter, and more full of the whole of who we are.

The opportunity to stand taller – to speak clearer – to move out of the fear and into the place of love.

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The Gift of Meditation

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"To meditate means to be there.  To be with yourself”.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

I have been an avid early morning meditator for many years. It has been my non-negotiable, daily ritual keeping me balanced and sane while navigating single motherhood and running a business.

Meditation has been the balm for my soul and the blanket for my heart.

It has become a part of me - a limb - and has sustained my capacity to remain connected to my breath, my body, and the present moment as life has unfolded.

My time on my cushion is stabilizing, enlivening, and enlightening.  Not always easy or comfortable, yet I feel held during the quiet and stillness by my own arms and more upright in who I am.

My 9 year-old son, Kai, has had special needs, which have challenged him in his ability to self-regulate, sensory integration, and other behavioral issues. He has witnessed my practices over the years and has been averse to joining in in any context – making endearing comments about my alter, asking me why I am so “spirit-full” (a favorite!), and telling me that I am a “weird” yoga mom.

A few months ago I offered to buy him a deck of Animal Spirit Cards as the cards that I draw noticeably intrigued him.  He enthusiastically obliged and what has unfolded since then has been incredibly beautiful and powerful to witness and be a part of.

Kai has now set up his own alter with meaningful stones, a candle, and draws weekly Spirit Animal cards, which have potent and positive messages on them.  A couple of nights a week we light our candles and sit together for 10 minutes. He rolls out his own yoga mat with pride, wraps a blanket over his shoulders, and sits quietly (with the occasional outburst of laughter or a burp!).

Recently, as the timer indicated the completion of our meditation, my son said “I felt in synch with you”.  I felt it too.  After our many weeks of sitting together we have landed and the result is palpable.

Observations since beginning our practice together:

  • Kai and I are more connected.

  • Kai is more present and engaged when we are talking.

  • He makes eye contact more consistently.

  • He has become more resilient.

  • He is more relaxed in his body and able to receive physical contact.

  • He is able to self-regulate and calm his system more rapidly.

  • He has become more flexible and open with the flow of life.

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It is affirming to me that anyone can meditate and the crucial nature of exposing our children to these life-altering practices early on.

During this time of giving, consider giving yourselves and your children the gift of a meditation practice.

The benefits are infinite.

Are you interested in bringing a meditation practice into your household yet do not know where to begin?  As a gift to you, I am offering FREE 15 minute consultations to get your practice started.  

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear”.

~Baba Ram Dass

What does it mean to "Embody Life"?

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What does it mean to "Embody Life"?

The name of my evolving business, Embody Life, was birthed after what I had experienced as many stressful and compromising years unwinding from an abusive marriage, severe postpartum depression, and navigating single motherhood with a special needs child.  I was brought to my knees so often and really was forced to dig so deep into my well of practice, inner strength, and knowledge to survive.  To remain embodied in midst of life became my focus.

Then early 2016 arrived with a house fire and set into motion an unbelievable sequence of events that truly gave, Embody Life, a whole new meaning. 

I was gifted (and, yes, I do consider them all gifts!) with opportunity after opportunity to put my decades of practices into action and to meet the trauma, the heartache, the fear, the upheaval with a steady and embodied presence.  I most certainly had moments of forgetting and succumbing to the overwhelm, yet, I did not crumble.

I did not collapse.

I did not take on the role of victim or martyr.

The events that unfolded include: coming home to my house on fire, a grueling advocacy on behalf of my son in the schools that led to an excruciating 6-month battle with the school district, an horrendous attack in a court of law by an unconscious and aggressive male attorney representing my sons dad, and a near death experience while traveling alone in Mexico. I met them with equanimity and with presence.  I allowed myself to feel my feelings without numbing or suppressing them. I moved the energy with consciousness, and I connected to those who could hold me and reflect to me with love and compassion in those moments.

To me, that is Embodying Life.

With each experience I deepened in my capacity to heal myself, become more upright in the truth of who I am, and embody my life. 

So often when life unfolds in ways that are less than desirable we resist, numb, check out, push against, and therefore find ourselves in a revolution of addiction that has the potential to grow unless we consciously choose to step out of the cycle.

I very much understand.

When I chose to check myself into a treatment center at 23 years of age, that was my first of many, many more interruptions of a cycle.  I had no idea at that young age, the path that would be laid out for me from that point on.

My business and who I am personally are both reflections of this incredible path I have walked.  They are me at my essence and are laden with the wisdom I have gleaned on the front lines of life.

My business and I are one. We reflect the decades of work done in the realm of healing through embodiment.

So, what does it mean to Embody Life? 

Facing every single day, every single life event with courage, strength, and conviction.

Remaining connected to the truth of who you are in midst of the ups and downs of life.

Meeting life with unwavering belief in the power of humanity and the capacity that each one of us has in healing ourselves from the inside out and truly living an embodied life of brilliance.

“My life is my practice”

~Ram Dass

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We Retreat to Remember

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“There are times when we stop, we sit still. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper”.

~James Carroll

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As I was facilitating my most recent retreat experiences, I kept hearing the phrase “We Retreat to Remember”.  When we retreat, in any capacity, our cells have the space to heal. We create that breathing room in our being to remember who we truly are. We have the opportunity to carve new pathways in our minds, our bodies, our hearts, and in our lives as a whole.

When we give ourselves the space for quiet and stillness, we naturally slow down and tune into that deep, intuitive voice. We transition from doing into being. 

As a working single mom, I have learned that I cannot afford to wait until that opportune moment to exit my life and go on a bigger retreat. I have created what I call “retreat moments”, that give me the opportunity to remain connected to myself in midst of day-to-day life.

During my “retreat moments”, I remember the crucial nature of creating the space in life to listen, to acknowledge, to honor, and to heal.

“Retreat moments” are an opportunity to reset and remember.

Some of my favorite “retreat moments” include:

  • Stepping outside, taking some breaths, and orienting myself to the natural world around me.

  • Pausing for a moment while cooking dinner, putting one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly, closing my eyes and tuning into my breath.

  • Taking 5 minutes and lying on the ground, coming into my breath, and feeling the connection of my body to the earth.

  • 20 – 30 minutes of early morning quiet meditation.

  • A spontaneous yoga session of a pose or two in the middle of the woods while with my son.

  • A mindful walk around the block focusing on my breath and my steps.

  • A candlelit hot bath with Epsom salts and soothing essential oils.

  • A long restorative yoga practice abundantly using props so that my mind can quiet, my body can soften, and my heart can unwind.

When I am consistently creating “retreat moments” in my life, I feel resourced, present, and grounded.  I am a better mom, am more resourced and connected, and am able to meet life with equanimity.

“Retreat moments”alwaysencompass tuning into my breath, bringing awareness to that quiet space inside, feeling my body, and tapping into the stirrings of my heart. From there, an embodied wisdom is invited to emerge.

We must slow down to tune in. 

It is truly a radical act of self-care.

It is a declaration of love to breathe into our bodies, inviting in that space to heal, grow, honor, and celebrate the fullness of living an embodied life.

There is much wisdom and potency accessible in cultivating silence and stillness.  By practicing daily, in small or larger moments we strengthen that muscle which keeps us steady in the face of difficulty.  We have the opportunity to enhance an unwavering belief in the truth of who we are and the rightness of our life’s path.

As we dive deeper into the winter months, may we cultivate these moments of retreat to listen and inform what is to come. May we bring consciousness into this time of darkness and allow ourselves the space to heal.

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear”.

~Baba Ram Dass

The Epidemic of Self-Doubt and Breaking Ingrained Patterns

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The Epidemic of Self-Doubt and Breaking Ingrained Patterns

Our challenges in life have the potential to be our greatest medicine and gifts to the world.  We must be sharing our stories and experiences and having these conversations to heal.  We must feel ourselves in relation to others to lift the shame and break the cycle. We must remember that we are not alone, not even for a moment and although others may not resonate with our version of the story, we all have our stories.  We all hold variations of the stories and carry with us the pieces to the puzzle.  Our stories are powerful and have formed the foundation of who we are.  Sharing our stories is pure liberation and provides the opportunity to shed layers of shame and angst, heal, repair, embrace, and embody who we truly are. 

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I work with women and men who struggle with disordered eating, those unwinding from trauma and those who are searching for peace in themselves.  The overarching theme that I continuously witness is a tremendous feeling of self-doubt.

Somewhere along the road of their lives they internalized the message that they are not worthy, not good enough, and have nothing to offer those that are blessed to cross their paths. These are highly successful professionals whom have had a tremendously positive impact on others, yet the feelings of self-doubt consistently reign and are being played out in their abilities to nourish and nurture themselves.

I get it wholeheartedly.

As I was gearing up to begin my physical descent down to Taos to work with 4 different women intensively over the course of 2 weekends, my old stories, programming, and messages about my abilities – my capacity to do this deep work, and my own personal biography in the realm of disordered eating and unwinding trauma, were screaming.

I was in self-doubt hell and it took every ounce of my connection to my true Self and my decades of practice to continue forward despite the cries otherwise.

What unfolded felt nothing short of miraculous as I pushed through my wall of self-doubt and landed embodied and upright in who I am. My experience affirmed my strong beliefs in the power of consistent, meditative practices which provide the the capacity to sift through what is truth and what is old messaging.

I am also reminded of the crucial nature of authenticity and being exactly who we are both personally and professionally.

I share this with you as a bridge – as an offering of a gateway towards our humanness – and, as validation that not only does everyone go through times of doubting the self, but that each of us truly have our own unique voice and story to share.

Please do not allow the voices of self-doubt to stifle who you are in the world.  Your experiences in this lifetime are of equal value to those who may be making millions public speaking or those who have 10,000 Instagram followers.

You are important.

We are important.

Now, more than ever, the world needs the light from each of us – first honoring that light that lies within, our true Self – and then honoring the light in each other.

"Be kinder to yourself and then let your kindness flood the world".

~Pema Chodron

Tell the Truth.

“The healing and recovery for all addictive behaviors includes learning to cultivate a discipline of telling the truth, first to oneself and then to others”.

~Katherine Woodward Thomas

I love this quote.  It encompasses for so many of us recovering addicts the void that is missing from our lives. Our life situations, life experiences, our feelings, thoughts, emotions, and the actions that we have chosen to take as a result of are rarely based upon truth. Truth is generally not what is presented to us, what is accepted, and we are not given the license to live from that authentically and unwavering place of truth.  We are taught to suppress, stuff, numb, distract, and hide all of the confusion and angst that we experience as young ones.

Rarely do we meet those adults whom were supported and encouraged to be who they are – the whole of them – the messy and unappetizing of them – the ones who were taught to open their hearts and share their unabashed souls.

A disclaimer here:  This is not about blaming the adults whom raised us.  Not about blaming ourselves for the choices we have made in living our lives.  We have all done the best we could given the human experience and situation that we have been gifted with.

I truly feel that.

I do not spend a minute in blaming others for my lifetime of addictions and I will never support anyone in doing so.  We all have wounding – it is the nature of being a human being.  We all also have choice as to how we respond to these wounds.  Personally, I feel the importance of self-responsibility.  Of removing ourselves from the space of what others have done to  us and moving in the clear direction of what choices we have made on behalf of ourselves.  It is a hard pill to swallow when we move in that direction and take ownership for the creation of our lives, yet, in my experience, it is the only way to truly heal and move forward wholly embodied and operating from your heart.

I spent decades trying to decipher what was mine and what others had done to me.  It got me nowhere and set me up for many years of struggle and an inability to land in my body and in my heart.  It kept me distracted and disconnected from the actuality of who I am and the beauty of my life, right now.  As it is. 

Shifting into a state of ownership, acceptance, and yielding into the mode of receptivity has been a game changer.  It is not an overnight process, mind you, yet worthy of the time and efforts it takes to attain and sustain what I consider to be true and embodied self-acceptance.

The unconditional loving of ourselves in every moment, even in the times when our imperfections surface – especially when we fall off the path as that is where the good stuff lies. 

When I can have a moment of angst around a less-than-respectful text message received from my son’s dad and my breath becomes short, I become short-tempered with my son, I dig into the ice cream pint or eat my dinner so fast I haven’t even tasted it – when I have those moments and then a potent moment of acceptance, which usually comes in the form of slowing down, finding my breath, putting my hands on my body, apologizing to my boy for my impatience, and remembering who I am and the truth of the entire scenario……those are the nuggets of gold.

Those are the moments that escalate our growth and capacity as humans.  Those are the times in our lives when we have the choice to pour the love onto our humanness and watch the flowers grow. 

I was walking into Whole Foods the other day with my son when I ran into an old acquaintance that I haven’t seen in awhile.  Mind you I saw him from afar and was trying desperately to diverge our course so that he and I didn’t end up aligned, yet aligned we became.  As we walked side-by-side into the store I noticed my old story surface about how irritating he was and how triggered I was going to become as he touted about his new living situation of residing half the year in Hawaii and half the year in Boulder.  Oh, and then about the girlfriend, and blah blah blah.  You get the picture.   I was bracing myself and was holding my son’s hand tightly as if he could “protect” me from the conversation and provide me with the security that I was longing for in that moment – or perhaps in my life.  The assurance that the past 8 + years have not be for naught.  That I am where I am in my life as being mommy has been my absolute priority and that I didn’t need to make excuses for myself…..

What happened though was dramatically different as I softened into my being, I relaxed my body, I opened my heart and walked tall in the pride of who I am.  I was met with such graciousness from this man. I was given the most incredible compliment of recognition and I left our interaction feeling fabulously empowered and alive.  To me, it was a moment of sheer self-acceptance and the proof or reminder or affirmation, whatever you want to call it, that our intention and the ways in which we carry ourselves, our hearts, and our beingness matter.

When we believe in ourselves and love ourselves and accept ourselves, we magnetize goodness.  We draw out the positive aspects of those that we are blessed to pass on our paths and the divinely timed event in our lives become more apparent.  We are open to the good, so the good will come.

When we are living from our truth, healing is inevitable.

When we make the choice to stop hiding behind our addictive ways of living and being, anything is possible.

This truth may stir up fear and that is completely understandable. This is uncharted territory for many, many adults whom only know how to live from one addiction to another.

I understand.  I have been there.  I lived that way for most of my life.

For me, cultivating the deepest sense of self-acceptance in the totality of who I am – the unconditional loving presence for myself that I have longed for from others – the fierceness to love and accept myself flaws and all – has been powerful beyond words.  It feels like a gift to have so much more of life to continue living even thought I spent so much of it berating and obsessing, punishing and abusing. Sometimes it takes a crisis of sorts to “snap” one out of it.  Sometimes it takes intensive process and therapy.  Sometimes it takes reminders from those whom have walked the path before you.  Sometimes it’s an inspiring resonant book.  Often it is a combination of it all.  We have the opportunity every single moment of every single day to tap into our resources.  The choice is alive.  Living a fully embodied life is always an option.

There is no perfection here.

No end point.

It is a work in progress and every day there lies infinite opportunities to surrender, soften, love, accept, yield, receive, and accept our beautiful bodies, hearts, and souls.

Tuning into the greater flow of love and abundance and keeping our mind chatter out of the equation.

Cultivating daily practices which support this state of being are essential -- meditation, yoga or other embodiment practices, mantras, and a commitment to our inherent wellbeing – must take precedence in the busyness of being a human.

When we put our own truth and healing at the forefront of our existence, anything is possible.

 

 

 

 

Step IN.

“Step out of the history that is holding you back. 

Step into the new story you are willing to create”.

~Oprah Winfrey

 

We all have our stories from the past – the imprints that these stories have had on our bodies, our hearts, and our psyches.  It is so easy to allow those storylines to run rampant and inform how we move in the world.  It takes great courage and commitment to step out of the old stories and into the new.

Getting clear about the new path that you are wanting to walk on and then taking those steps onto it.  Feeling the timidity, the shakiness, the uncertainty, and stepping in anyhow.

Pushing past the bubble of fear, the fog of indecision, and declaring how you want your life to look and feel.

Now.

Right now.

Shedding the old messages, stories, and doubts.  Making the choice to claim who you are in all of your glory, embrace your unique gifts and quirkiness, and truly own your story.

Own it, but don’t give it the reigns of your existence.

It is so important to acknowledge and honor our histories, those experiences and situations in life which have shaped us up until this moment. Share them, celebrate them, grieve them, and then shed them.  With heart and with honor. 

We are not our histories, we are not what has happened to us.

We are whole and powerful.

Every moment is this precious choice to step out of the old and into the new.

With presence, with compassion, with the deepest self-love.

Breath by breath, moment by moment, we have the opportunity to stand taller in who we are – more upright – clearer – more open and soft and powerful.

Each moment that opportunity to acknowledge our past and step more fully into our present with perspective of a bright and enlivened future. 

 

 

Love in Action.

“If one wishes to know love, one must live love, in action”.

~Leo Buscaglia

 

 

This quote landed on my fridge after my near death experience while traveling in Mexico.

 

The wake up call that I experienced was like nothing I could have ever imagined possible.

 

It cracked me open, woke me up, and has impacted my every move in life.

 

I have become hyper aware of when I shut down to those around me and when I am soft and open.  I realized in that moment of thinking I could die, that I hadn’t been really living, not in a way that I wanted to be.  Not from my heart, not from a space of openness to humanity, and integrity and honor of who I am.  I had been dimming myself, apologizing for my existence, and not appreciating the goodness that lives within.

 

We cannot be selective about who we are loving to. 

 

I do not say this lightly as my son’s dad is the most challenging person in my world and being loving to him sometimes feels impossible.  What I can say, with all my heart, is that I truly do strive to live love in action. I work every day to keep my heart open and to meet those I encounter with that space of possibility, of acceptance, of compassion, and of connection.  Choosing to give love without the expectation of it being returned. Everyone has their struggles, their inner and outer battles, the things that they are ashamed of and hide from the world.  Life is not always pretty, I know this one quite well.

 

 

Not knowing if you are going to take another breath in this physical body puts everything into perspective….The magnitude of the preciousness of this human life, the everyday interactions with those in our intimate world and also with strangers, the motivation to be healthy and whole, the inspiration to make a fucking difference in this incredibly broken world…

 

Live love in action.  Share the love.  Be loving and kind.  Make eye contact.  Ask people how they are.  Open your eyes and appreciate all of the beauty around.  Find gratitude even in those painfully hard moments.  Hold your little and big people close. Hug as much as you can.  Cry when you need to.  Open your heart.  Heal yourself.  Live your life.  Live love in action.

Eye-Opening and Soul-Stirring...

 

I pride myself and my recovery process on my choice to eat anything that I want to. 

 

I gave myself permission decades ago to do so and it has greatly served my process. 

 

I also have learned to eat anything I want to in moderation, which is no small feat, especially as a recovering food addict. 

 

Yet, I have done so and really stuck with the program. 

 

As a result, my body has stabilized, my moods have become more regulated, and I rarely have a moment of obsession about a “forbidden” food because there are no forbidden foods in my diet. 

 

This plan does not work for everyone and many that I was in treatment with 20 years ago needed more structure in their recovery process.  Always a reminder that there is absolutely no “one size fits all” in the recovery dance and certainly not in life.

 

I have also learned to breathe into my belly even in those moments when it feels impossible. 

 

I recognized many years ago that I would hold my breath while eating – as if I would not actually be eating the food if I wasn’t breathing.  It was a way for me to falsely control my intake and what I recognized eventually was that it was really messing with my digestion, assimilation, and metabolism. Holding my breath while eating anything, even a salad, was not inviting in the nutrition into my body – rather it was giving my body and my soul the message that I wasn’t worthy of eating.  I wasn’t worthy of nourishment.  The conflicting messages that I was sending to myself were indicative of the conflict I was experiencing internally and the external result was a very unhealthy digestive system, extreme mood swings, hormonal challenges, and constant obsession.

 

I never felt satisfied in life, period. 

 

I was always searching for more – a food, a new exercise, a new home, a new job, a new love interest, a new pair of boots, a new bed!  You name it.

 

I was completely unable to land in myself. 

 

It took years to unravel that pattern and to find the understanding in myself that I needed to freaking BREATHE in order to land in my life.  I needed to take that radical action of deep belly breaths not only while I was eating but also while I was moving throughout my day-to-day life and until I could do that consistently there was always going to be that longing – that searching – that sense of feeling incomplete.

 

And, for the most part, I have landed.

 

Enter, getting sick.  I rarely get sick…I don’t know if it’s because I am a single mom and literally cannot get sick as there is no one to back me up with my son.  Regardless, I have found myself down in the past few days and my system has been begging me to slow down, shift my intake, and rest rest rest.  All are verydifficult for me, again, perhaps because of my wiring around must do do do as a single mama.  As I have had no other choice but to slow down, shift my intake, and rest, I have had the golden opportunity to do some work on myself. Nothing like mixing up the “usual” routine and feeling compromised in my body to help me to look at myself and grow.

 

That is just who I am.

 

This round landed in my digestive system and subsequently has affected every system.  Finally, the issues that I was feeling in my digestion landed my ass in bed. There was no more plowing through. I have had the opportunity to look at myself and my patterns around eating and living and breathing and relating.

 

Who knew that getting sick would be so enlightening?? 

 

I was able to note, bigtime, that my digestive woes were as a direct result of the stress that has been happening with my 9-year old around dinnertime.  His meltdowns in my commitment to structure and responsibility during his school weeks reared their ugly head right as I was beginning the cooking and consuming process around our delicious dinners.  Coupled with my exhaustion from a busy day of clients and work, I have more often than not, been frazzled, angry, and resentful during that dinner hour.  Hard to admit but I spent many nights eating my dinner while standing in the kitchen putting out fires with my boy.  Not good.  The toll that this took on me and my body and my entire being has been eye opening.

 

Equally soul stirring has been my awareness around the attachments that I have in my food intake and consumption.  Again, the pride that I have developed in relation to my recovery process and being able to eat anything I want to, has gone out the window while sick.  When I am in the space of not being able to digest anything, of course, I have to shift my intake.  The level of panic, anxiety, and clinging that this has brought up in me has been fascinating.

 

Now, at the point of turning a corner and beginning to feel much better, I am able to notice, honor, and hold myself in this space.  This space that I was the “norm” for me for years and years. 

 

The space where, now, 20 years into my recovery process, I can name as yet another growing opportunity. 

 

A reset.  A time of deep self-awareness.  And a place of empowerment. 

 

This time of sickness has indeed shaken my soul and opened my eyes to some deeply ingrained patterns, yet it has also been such a reflection of the incredible growth that I have been through – the work that I have consistently done – and the reminder that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. 

 

I am not broken, I am not wounded, I am human and an imperfect one at that. 

 

I am able to glean insight from every single experience that I go through and always, always come through on the other side….more upright in who I am and at peace with this wild road of recovery.

The Embodiment of an Eating Disorder ~ A piece of my personal story

20 years ago, at the ripe age of 23, I hit rock bottom and checked myself

 into a holistic, residential treatment center for eating disorders.

 

While many of my peers were enjoying their 20s, playing, traveling the world, getting married and having babies -- I was slowly killing myself and needed to do something drastic.

 

Through this conscious choice I was introduced to a path of living and healing that involved the whole of me.  I was given the opportunity to dive into every aspect of who I am through various modalities that I have carried with me over the decades both personally and professionally. Although I had entered this center compulsively distraught about my dysfunctional ways of using food and exercise, a pattern that had begun as a  7 year old little girl when I was first made aware of my weight and changing body, what quickly unfolded was the high level of addiction that I had in my system to many things. Human life had become too scary, painful, and uncomfortable to actually feel and my addictions were running rampant. 

 

Food was the symptom...

the informant, the messenger...

and it was time for me to listen. 

 

I had no idea on that fateful day in my young adult life the incredible journey that this time would set into motion.  I had no awareness or perspective of the trajectory my life would take from that incredibly courageous and bold step that I took on that day.

 

The level of awareness that I have of my body, of myself, of my emotions, and of my ways of coping is strong and in a constant state of evolution due to these 2 decades of work.

 

And, it has been work – devoted and consistent work. 

 

For me, I have chosen to not skirt around my dysfunction, my coping mechanisms, my habitual patterns of relating. 

 

I have made the choice every single day to dig in and heal, dig in and heal, dig in and heal.

 

This is just who I am and all of the hard work has been absolutely worth it. 

 

The moments of angst, of flailing, of awakening, of clarity….the entire cycle on repeat to one degree or another….

It is a process. 

 

Recovery takes consistent and compassionate work on the Self. 

Healing happens in layers.

 

Each layer surfacing exactly in the right time that it  is ready to be worked and healed. 

 

20 years into this process, I am highly aware as to the extent of the issue which has arisen for healing by how close I get to those old patterns around food.  I can see clearly when I am being pulled to the chocolate chip cookies as to how deep this particular issue is -- how scary it feels for me to actually feel it.  And, I have cultivated the skills and capacity over the years to be with myself around these pulls that at times feel unstoppable.  I can also tune into what it is that has brought me into this space of longing…what am I really craving….and, with that depth of awareness, I have choice. At this juncture in my recovery, I am well aware that I have the choice to do or not do.  And, sometimes I still choose to do. I eat the cookie because it is feeding my soul or healing my heart to some degree.  I make myself the ultimate comfort food that my spirit is craving and I enjoy every bite of it and even though it may not be the best food for my waistline, it is in that moment, the most nourishing food for my soul. 

 

This is my recovery process. 

 

This is how I have chosen to relate to myself, my heart, my soul, my spirit, and my consumption. 

 

I have embraced my imperfectly perfect humanness and understand that life unfolds as it does. 

 

I have been gifted with this incredible awareness due to my struggles with myself, with my body, and with living in a state of vulnerability.

 

My eating disorder will always be a part of me – it is my gauge as to if I am acting, speaking, and living in alignment or not.  It speaks to me loudly when I am neglecting my own needs and cries out when I am not honoring my body.

 

When we live our lives in a state of fear, shame, of cowering to the world around us, we shrink and diminish ourselves.  The recovery process provides the platform for us to authentically take steps out into the world on behalf of who we really are and speaking our truth with clarity.  Naturally, there will be backlash from our egos and from others. The importance of continuing to do so, no matter what, is so critical to our growth as evolving humans. 

 

It takes an incredible amount of courage and conviction to stay the course…no matter what. 

 

This process has a way of bringing you to your knees while also pulling you up and out. 

 

It is a humbling process, disorienting, and humanizing.

 

At this juncture in my life, I feel that my eating disorder and other addictive patterns are a gift.  They have brought me to a place of wholeness, of deep inquiry, and of true self-love.  They have expanded my capacity for living in an embodied and authentic way, my capabilities in relating to others as humans in this dance of life in a connected and empathic way, they have invited me consistently to unwind and repair within my own system as well as with others. I have uncovered a trustworthy inner compass through my recovery process and know when I am off and have the opportunity to adjust as needed. 

 

I have been given perspective and an opportunity every single day to make choices that enhance my state of being. 

 

Some days are easier than others, still, after 20 years. 

 

Yet, I am consistently reminded when I do make the choice to breathe into myself, embrace my life, take care of my own needs, and open my heart even when it feels scary, that my connection to the whole is enhanced and life truly becomes richer and so much sweeter.

 

 

 

  Are you suffering from compulsive food addictions and obsessive exercise patterns?  

Do you struggle with body image issues?

Are you longing to feel peace, ease and acceptance in your body and in yourself?

I get it and I can help.

I offer a holistic and sustainable approach to working with disordered eating patterns and body image challenges. 

I work with clients  in person as well as via Skype.

Please contact me directly at:  alison@embodymylife.com to set up a free 10 minute consultation. 

 

 

 

 

The Aloneness of Single Motherhood

Every time I travel with my 9 year old my aloneness is magnified.

The reality that I have never had that experience of what it feels like to be a family in the more traditional sense is heightened. 

It has always just been he and I. 

 

Before that, during his first year of life, I was ridden with severe Post Partum Depression and in an incredibly abusive marriage.  My choice to liberate us from that situation was the hardest decision I have had to make, yet by far the best one.

 

So, here I am 8 years later, raising a young man alone….

 

I did not think that I would be single for this long; I did not imagine that I would not yet have the experience of partnership, of love….that person, my person, who effortlessly adores me and my child.  That solid and cohesive family unit.

 

I have been determined to give my son experiences such as what his friends are experiencing – even if I am doing it alone. 

 

As each year has passed, I have become braver in our adventures. Traveling alone with a child is no joke. When you are the only adult and all is reliant on you, your resources, your intuition, your decisions, your skills….there are moments of being brought to your knees.  For me, those moments usually bring me to tears and take me to a space of overwhelm in my aloneness.  They can come from exhaustion but also elation -- that true desire to be sharing these experiences with another.  Not just for the extra hands but also very much for the shared joy and celebration of living, exploring, experiencing, and raising small people in a fun and conscious way. 

 

This past adventure was a week road trip including 4 nights camping off the grid.  No cell service, no other human, no toilets, no running water and refrigeration – no one except he and I.  As I hunkered down and took on the task of doing everything, I felt my strength rise – I felt a newfound capability and power in who I am and where I have come from as a woman and as a mother. 

 

I had many moments of feeling invincible – those mamabear moments where I was in a deep bow to myself and the role I have played in my son’s life. 

 

It is those moments when I was overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion for this journey that he and I have been on together. 

The precious, irreplaceable years of aloneness with this being. 

Those moments of recognition of the team that he and I are and although I don’t have that person, my person, to share the highs and lows with, I most certainly am not alone. 

I have this being that grew in me – this being that heard my heart beating from inside me – this being whom I have the privilege of loving and sharing life with. 

And, in those moments I feel full, happy, and grateful – those moments when the joy trumps the challenge and I surrender deeper into who I am as a woman and a mother. 

 

A deeper surrender to the unfolding of life and a faith in the right timing of everything and the gift of this journey that is single motherhood. Those moments when the joy outweighs the challenge and I am reminded that it is all truly worth it. 

My Encounter Near Death.

 

I had a near death experience while traveling alone in Mexico on November 21, 2017. 

 

This encounter with death has forever altered me.

 

Not knowing whether or not you will remain living and breathing has an impact on one that is nearly indescribable. I feel called to begin to share pieces of this story as well as the effects that it had on my life and my way of being.

 

I was staying in a moderately touristy area of Mexico – Los Cabos – by a  lovely fishing pier with boats large and small making their way into the quiet town regularly. I felt safe and welcomed in this area and was exploring as a tourist by foot checking out various beach areas, walking the pier, eating at taco stands, reading and writing – soaking up the culture through all of my senses.  I was inspired as I always am being in this beautiful country that I love.  The warmth and gratitude that I experienced from the Mexican people always brings me right into my heart and that joyful place of gratitude. 

 

I had made “friends” along the way in the few days I had been there, including a waitress at a taco stand where I spent a couple of hours midday writing and relaxing in the shade.  This woman was tall and lanky, not something you see often in that country.  She was vibrant and enthusiastic and each time I walked into this establishment with my wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sarong wrapped around my shoulders (gringo way of trying to protect myself from the relentless sun!) she greeted me as if I were a celebrity.  She would pull out my chair, take my hat and put it on its own chair, bring me my cold, 140 Peso (about a dollar) Pacifico out as if it were a drink for a queen. We squeezed hands, she touched my shoulder affectionately as she passed me by, we hugged when we said goodbye as I offered her a tip that was triple of what I actually owed.  She was a bright light and a connection for me in this foreign country.  When you travel alone in a country where you do not speak the language, people such as this woman do become your friends.  We did not speak the same verbal language yet our hearts were in dialogue.

 

On this fateful day, I had an intuitive moment that it was time for me to leave the taco stand and move on with my day.  I had not been there for longer than an hour yet I knew that it was time to leave. I said goodbye to my friend with a hug and a big smile and carried on with my day.

 

Two hours later a bullet from an AK would end this woman’s life among 4 others.  The table that I had the intuition to leave from became the target of a hit by the Mexican drug cartel and my friend, the cook, and 3 other men would take their last breaths there.

 

After the first shot blasted through the air, I was whisked into a hotel room by an English-speaking waiter.  It was me and about 8 other employees.   My savior thrust me under a bed and hushed me as I continually questioned what was happening, what was happening, what was happening….this sweet, brave young man remained out and visible as a guardian. He was my contact point and I trusted him although I did not even know his name.  I did not know if the shooter would be making his way the 10 feet over to where we were located and open fire, I did not know anything.  After 5 succinct gun shots, my protector said simply: “He is gone.  He is not coming back.  You are safe”.  And, I believed him. 

 

 

I reflect back to that moment when I heard the first gun shot — the explosion of a life — the exhale and the end of breath.  That moment of impact and disbelief amongst us all. That moment of pure and raw awakening. 

 

That gunshot woke me up from a trance that I had been in…

 

On May 8, 2017  I was derailed, humiliated and degraded in a court of law by my sons dad.  It was a Scorpio Full Moon and exactly 8 years to the day that I had labored and birthed my child and had become a mother.  That day, 8 years later, I was burned at the stake with witnesses in horror and some, sadly, in satisfaction.  That day imprinted me deeply and the months that followed I spun in circles of disbelief, grief, shame, unbelievable sadness, anger, and desperation.  I felt as though I had been shot with an “AK” that day as it penetrated me to my core. 

 

6 months later, during the Scorpio New Moon, I was shot back into my body, back into myself, back into the present moment of reality. 

That first gunshot hit my soul; the moments afterwards cracked my heart open.

 

The moments of not knowing if you are going to die are terrifying but are also incredibly grounding.  You are given perspective and a profound sense of peace.  Although I did not know if my physical body would be ok, I actually knew that everything was ok.  No regrets, no remorse, only prayers of peace.  Nothing fluffy with these peaceful wishes — I was praying for the peace of humanity.  Questioning what in the hell is going on on a fundamental level.

 

Those moments of not knowing if I was going to live or die woke me up to the essence of who I am. 

There was no time to panic, cry, regret, mourn….it was just me with me. 

It was a time of connection that I had never experienced before and one that I have continuously referenced as I have returned. 

I felt more alive in that moment of pending death than I ever have before.  

 

I did emerge from under that bed that day, dusted myself off, opened my heart, and was reborn.  I did find my way back onto a plane heading back home – weeping with gratitude – wiping my mascara with hoards of tissues and appreciating every moment of it. 

 

This ordeal has gifted me with an infinite amount of appreciation for the preciousness of living and breathing, of making eye contact with others, of hearing the laughter of my child, of waking up every single day with a new opportunity to be alive in whatever flavor life has presented. 

 

Although my outer circumstances have not necessarily shifted dramatically, my inner world has opened and is healing. 

 

I have embraced my brush with death as one of life’s greatest learning opportunities. 

 

I am alive and I am grateful. 

 

I have been softened into a state of compassion.

I live with my eyes wide open.

I am attuned to myself – my body, my nervous system, my emotions, my spirit – and, when something is off, I tend to it. 

I no longer take things for granted including those hard mommy moments, or other challenges that life is inevitably going to offer.

I am learning the art of trust, surrender, and faith.  I know that I was divinely protected during that incident and I felt held in my vulnerability.

I am being continuously propelled in the direction of authentic expression of who I truly am. Unapologetic and raw. There is no time for facades - for trying to be someone else.

I strive in every moment to be a good person – to meet others with kindness and empathy.

I am more committed than ever to my health and well-being – genuinely feeling the preciousness of this physical life and the crucial importance of self-care.

My spiritual practices have taken more of a priority so as to continually support me to live as the best version of myself and to constantly feel the potency of the present moment.  It is a true gift.    

To me, there is no time to waste during this precious, unpredictable, and exciting time on the planet. 

This is my life.

 It truly is a choice every single day as to how to greet it. 

Connection in Midst of Life's Curveballs...

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."

 

- Albert Schweitzer

 

 

This quote leapt out at me from a dear friends email signature. In light of the many recent suicides both locally in my community as well as in the larger world community, I am reminded of the potency and influence that human contact can have on our state of being.

 

I suffered from severe depression myself for many years – suicidally depressed for long stretches of time, medicated so that I could emerge from bed everyday….years of darkness in which I barely remember those moments of light – although I know that they were there. Outwardly, no one would have known the despair I was in although my inner conflict was alive.  My existence felt misaligned, conflicted, dysfunctional. I was a yogi, a healer…on the outside beautiful and connected.

 

I related to the world to the best of my ability, when asked to.

 

Yet, although my outer demeanor spoke of connectedness, smiles, laughter, and hope, my inner life was screaming in pain.  I felt alone in my sorrow – confused as to why and how I could possibly be feeling in such despair – remorse for doing so when I lived a life of such privilege. 

 

The shoulds did not help my already overwhelming guilt for feeling so damn miserable despite having seemingly all of my needs met. I felt alone, lonely in my darkness, and only a select few understood the space I was actually in – and loved me fiercely anyhow -- met me in my darkness, listened to me, and reflected back to me the goodness and truth that they saw in me and felt when they connected to my heart. At the times when I was at my lowest – buried in the face of depression and despair – these beings brought their light to meet me and, if only for a moment, I felt it.  I had an embodied sense of the light at the end of that long, dark tunnel.  I knew it was there in those fleeting moments and something during those times kept me going.  The flame was a glimmer of hope and provided me the opportunity to tap into the space of possibility.

 

I will never forget those times. Never.

They have shaped me and inspired me and humbled me in ways that I could not have been if I hadn’t gone through them.

They have offered me the capacity to feel compassion on a cellular level for the struggle of the human condition – for the pain that so many suffer from day-to-day.

They have inspired me to live every day awake and aware – with consciousness and presence – no matter what is occurring.

They have had the influence to keep me in check and when I fall down these days, I get back up – brush myself off – and carry forward.

 

I absolutely still have my moments, my days, my weeks – through my regular meditation practice I have learned to work with my mind to support myself in shifting my state of being…to remind myself of the impermanence of the conditions of living a human life.  That “this too shall pass” – if I open and allow it to.  That I do not have to hold onto these states of suffering, that I actually do have a choice. I have perspective– something that I did not have access to during those dark days and nights.  The heavy times of not knowing how I was going to get through another day – and not wanting to.

 

So, here I am – 43 years old – it has been many years since I have experienced a dip that far down -- many years since I had to pop a pill to keep some semblance of a smile on my face.  And, I still witness myself “go there”.  I still find myself having moments, days, weeks where I feel off – I feel down – depressed – dark….yet they happen few and far between.  I now know that my mind is powerful way of healing myself and I use it.  I don’t allow myself to stay down for long.  I reach out to those select friends who see me, who understand me, who care about me, who love me….those beautiful beings who share their light when I have lost touch with mine.  I am grateful.  I am humbled. I am alive.  And, most days I am smiling.

 

Magic happens when we truly feel seen, loved, and accepted by another. May we continually gravitate towards those who enhance our state of being, inspire us to be who we are, and who mirror back to us our greatness.  And, may we open our hearts to strangers, make eye contact, smile at them – remembering that we have no idea what is going on in their inside world and perhaps our light will remind them of their own.

 

 

SELF CARE.

“Self care is how you take your power back”.  ~Lelah Delia

 

I used to frame self-care as indulgent, selfish, and out of my financial reach.  I believed that taking care of myself meant to have the money to buy the nicest goods, treat myself to expensive meals, get endless massages and spa treatments, and take luxurious vacations.  My capacity for self-care was limited through that lens and, therefore, I felt drained and defeated most days.  I felt as though I could never feel full, complete, held.  My ability to tap into my own inner resources, acknowledge myself and my true needs, and listen to my souls cries for care was non-existent. My focus on the false importance of gaining and obtaining to meet my outer needs clouded my inner awareness and knowing that all I needed was within.  Tending to my Self in a soulful way was right there at the end of my fingertips yet it took a (scary) commitment to slow down and tune in.  To begin to find gratitude for all that I do have accessible to me, and to really listen to my souls cravings and needs rather than the impulsiveness of my minds.

 

As a woman with the imprint of decades of recovery in the realm of eating disorders and other addictive patterns, I have associated self-care with working out until I drop and eating “perfectly” so as to attain a shape that is unattainable.  I was stuck in the compulsive cycle of consumption in the hopes that the next item, event, food, drink, man, friend, would fill that inner void and meet my body, heart, and souls cries for care. It has taken years to re-pattern that way of thinking and to embody sustainable and nourishing ways of taking care of myself, and my body.  My daily meditation practice has gifted me with much, one of those being the presence and capacity to pause, listen, and respond from a place of self-honor, genuine self-care, and soulful nourishment.

 

 

Self-care does not necessarily mean spending a lot of money and obtaining things.  It doesn’t always mean exercising or moving ones body.  It doesn’t necessarily mean eating a particular food or eating in a “perfect” way (whatever that really is!!).  Self-care is not associated with productivity.

 

It is the experience of feeling a depth of peace in your soul – a space within that you can truly rest into – a feeling of being held unconditionally with love. 

 

That fullness that so many seek from the outside world through obtaining and consuming, can be tapped into by true self-care.

 

 

Below are several qualities and action of embodied and soulful self-care, of course there are many which each of us, as individuals, are all guided in unique ways to feel this sense of soulful connection to our bodies and hearts.  It is a process of experimenting, tuning in, and unfolding. There is no magic formula yet, to me, it is the attainment of an inner state of being that feels held, seen, supported, loved, and honored.

 

Quiet – unplug from your devices and leave the music and/or TV off.  Carve out time to simply listen, to allow the space for your inner world to quiet and open to the wisdom that lies within.

Stillness – life for most of us is busy. We are pulled in many directions. The invitation here is to choose to cultivate time in stillness.  It could be making tea and sitting on your porch, doing some restorative yoga, taking a bath…any opportunity to still the body, rest, and invite in the emergence of a deeper well of wholeness to emerge.

Flow – Carve out unscheduled time in your life: an hour, a couple hours, a day, a weekend, to tune into your own rhythms and needs.  As working parents I do understand the impossibility of this, yet I find that even if I can give myself a half hour to an hour in midst of it all to do what I need to do to honor my soul, it shifts the energy for the rest of my responsibilities.

Retreat– for an hour, a few hours, a weekend, a week – whatever you can manage in your life will have significant impact

Prepare and eat whole and organic foods – add in a trip to the local farmers market – meet the farmers who are growing your food and increase your bodies ability to nourish and assimilate all of the goodness.

Sleep! Nap! Make sleeping a minimum of 8 hours a night a priority.  Nap when you are able. It is the deepest form of self-care and rejuvenation we can gift ourselves with.

 

“Be kinder to yourself and then let your kindness flood the world”.

~Pema Chodron

WHY Meditate??

I began practicing yoga while I was an undergrad in 1997. I was introduced to meditation then and for many years afterwards I attempted to cultivate a regular practice. I use the word “attempted” loosely as I was not convinced that sitting in meditation was all that it was touted to be. I had a storyline running through my busy mind along the lines of:

 

Why on earth would I want to sit on a cushion for 20 minutes?

How is it even possible that that could do anything for me?

How can staring at a candle make me happier?

I don’t have time to meditate!

How can repeating a mantra train my mind to be calm?

I would so much rather do about anything else rather than take the time to sit in silence!

etc etc….

 

I was not allured by meditation in the slightest and truly could not find it in me to sit on a cushion with any semblance of regularity.

 

Then the shift happens.

 

Over 3 years ago…I dig deep…very deep….and commit to myself that I am going to get up at the ungodly hour of 5:00am everyday and drag myself downstairs to sit and meditate in front of my alter. It truly happened overnight for me. I made the commitment and then I just did it. Some mornings were harder than others but now I crave that morning quiet time of meditation. I look forward to it and on the rare mornings when I am unable to due to a sick child or travel or other circumstance, I miss it. It has become my home base – an ultimate act of self-care – and a lifeline.

 

Benefits of regular meditation from my personal experience:

 

~ A Focused Mind: This is not easy but much more possible when you are meditating regularly. I notice when I begin to scatter my thoughts and allow the monkey mind to take over almost immediately and can bring myself back to center.

~Deeper Connection To My Breath: This can serve in so many ways and I will share an extreme example from my recent life: I went through what could have been a terrifying experience while travelling alone in Mexico a few short months ago. I was witness to a “hit” by the Mexican drug cartel that involved the murdering of 5 people with an AK. I noticed immediately how deeply connected I was to my breath throughout this experience and it kept me anchored in the present moment and out of the place of panic. I stayed embodied in my breath and in my body and I believe that it was as a result of my years of practice that I was able to put into action. Staying connected to the breath throughout the day keeps one grounded and present, attuned and alive, connected and at peace.  

~Profound Connection To My Body: This includes my true hunger signs, various sensations (both pleasurable and not-so-much), my actual needs for movement and how much (HUGE for me!) and the recognition if and when I am in need of rest rather than forced activity. I find that when I start out my day with a morning sit, I am much more attuned to my bodies needs throughout the day. I am aware on the few days when I do not (I allow myself one morning a week to stay in bed), my level of disconnection is higher and it takes more effort to make embodied choices for my body.

~I Am HAPPIER! What they say is true – you do become happier when you are sitting regularly.

~I Have Greater Perspective: What once seemed monumental in magnitude of stressful importance has been put into perspective.

~My Ability To Respond More Appropriately Has Heightened: Life as a single mom has been stressful -- I will not lie. I will say, however, that sitting regularly has provided me with the opportunity and the pause to respond rather than react. Game changer for this mama!

~My Vision Is Clearer: Truly both physically and metaphorically – I feel like I can see clearer through my eyes and into my etheric body and vision my future full of possibilities.

 

The above are my own personal discoveries in my meditation practice. Of course, these are not absolutes that are in effect every single moment of every day. I am human, which my meditation practice is constantly reminding me, and I still fumble and fall. What I can say is that I am more resilient than ever and I account my devoted practice to this incredible quality of being.

Going on a retreat is a perfect opportunity to jump-start your practice and receive the benefits of meditation!

 

I have two unique and special women’s restorative retreats this year in magical Taos, NM that will be a delicious time of quiet and introspection through various practices mindfulness and embodiment practices – including meditation.

Click here to register.

 

 I am available for private sessions and offer a free 20-minute consultation.

 

Please contact me to sign up: alison@embodymylife.com

 

I always say….

“If I can do it, anyone can!”

The Impossibility and Necessity of Retreating

Many years ago I was in the throes of early single parenting my high need young one, beyond sleep deprived, bone tired, under-resourced, frazzled, unhealthy, depressed, uninspired, and longing for some respite – some relief – an escape from my overwhelming life – an opportunity to take care of myself, my needs, my body, my heart. I was also convinced that I could not do such a thing and had every excuse in the book as to why actually taking care of myself in this way was not an even remotely an option -- no money, no time, fear of reaching out to others as I was so down on myself, my body was out of shape and I was still carrying the weight I had gained during pregnancy -- basically, I was miserable in my own misery and did not see any way out.

I received an email newsletter from a beautiful woman who runs women’s retreats. The title was something along the lines of declaring that everyone needs a retreat. I unsubscribed immediately upon reading this. I was livid and my inner dialogue went something like this: How could she be so bold to state something like that?? Didn’t she know my situation and so many others?? Of course she didn’t understand anything because she was not a mother – she couldn’t possibly understand the angst I was in. The nerve of her to tell us all that we need a retreat when I can barely get myself up and dressed and out the door everyday. And, on and on and on and on.

 

Well, I tell ya, that is EXACTLY what I needed. And, I believe, that I COULD have made it happen and IF I DID my life would have taken a very different trajectory. Instead, I chose to stay in my suffering rather than step out of it and unwind, resource myself, and connect with my body and heart and perhaps heal amongst fellow women. I chose to stay in my bubble of misery and feel pretty damn bad about myself.

 

And, it’s okay. I wasn’t ready in that moment to be healed and opened up and there is absolutely no judgment on that. When you’re ready, you’re ready, and not a moment sooner.

 

I did attend a half-day women’s retreat a few months afterwards and a part of me softened, opened, and healed. Though something larger was stirred, and I received a taste of the critical nature of the unplugging from life and diving into our embodied ways of being. I recognized that I had taken a massive step out of my misery and back towards myself. I understood that it was a process and that what I had connected to was a piece of the puzzle, a small, yet significant moment of unwind and honor. I had the awareness for those few hours and for several days afterwards of the magnitude that my body, heart, and spirit had just gone through in growing my child and birthing him into the world. I was so lost in the fog of my new existence as an overwhelmed mother that I had forgotten about the other part of myself that was so buried beneath layers of body weight and tension. It was a small step, yet one that did actually change my course significantly.

 

I knew, after that day, that it was my path to support others in tapping into this place -- the quiet, deep, introspective, connected, heart-centered place that we all long for, yet deprive ourselves of. I knew it in my bones, yet also knew that it may take me awhile. I was still very much in the throes of new motherhood and I truly had no idea what was on the horizon for me to navigate before I was able to step back in this direction. My path carried me soon after this day into a painful divorce and single parenting. I became my high need sons primary caretaker and that remained my priority for many years….

 

Throughout this journey, I was able to retreat regularly – sometimes this was just a few hours at my home unplugged and surrounded by yoga props and a delicious long yoga practice, sometimes it has involved traveling and retreating.

 

It has been the most important act of self-care as a mother and a woman that I have chosen and one that I do not take for granted.

 

 Beginning in June, I will be offering monthly women’s mini-retreats – a 4-hour long opportunity to unwind, resource, and re-connect.

 

 

I recognize that it is not conducive for many to leave their families and responsibilities for an entire week or even a weekend. Removing oneself from life’s demands, technology, overstimulation, and responsibilities even for a few hours can be the reset that one needs.

 

 

These Wholly Embodied Woman mini-retreats include:

Deep and Embodied Yoga that Honors your Body, Heart, and Soul

Mindful Meditation and Movement

Creative Expression

and

Connection to Like-Minded Women

 

For more information or to register please click here.

or email me: alison@embodymylife.com

Simple and Soulful Self-Care Remedies for the February Blahs….

It’s February….the time of year when winter really begins to drag on and there is a longing for sunshine and warmth for many. Although our Colorado winter has been relatively mellow, this time of year always brings that urge to start shedding layers and stop cleaning off my car!

How can we stay healthy, balanced and happy during this time, embrace and appreciate the remaining time of the cold, dark winter months?

 

I have cultivated some practices that support my body, spirit, and soul during this time of year that I am happy to share:

 

 

  • Candles: I am a candle lover. All over my house, in every room, there are many burning beginning from the time the sun sets until lights are out for sleep. Lighting candles helps me to remember the light – the light within and the light that we are moving back towards. They are also very soothing for the nervous system and brighten the spirit during these dark times.
  • Essential Oils and Natural Incense: Pumping good smelling scents into your home and office is a wonderful way to uplift the spirit and enliven the senses. I always have my essential oil diffuser running at home or some natural incense burning (or sometimes both!). I also carry a spray bottle around with me filled with a good smelling essential oil and a flower essence, which I spray in my car and office often. Adding flower essences to the bottles and the diffuser adds extra benefit by working specifically on an emotional pattern or state of being.
  • Music: Playing music and dancing, singing, praying (or all of the above!) is an embodied way of moving energy and tapping into that inner light. I have created a playlist called “Uplift” in which I play often and have mini dance parties in my living room or kitchen anytime I need a little energy boost. I also listen to a lot of sacred chants to tap into my heart as well as play binaural beats in my home to work the various chakras. Music is such a beautiful avenue towards our wholeness and can truly make the spirit come alive.
  • Embrace the Elements: Tend to oneself in the cold and wind by dressing appropriately inside and outside the home. Welcome the coziness of the inside by wrapping oneself in luscious clothing, sweaters, shawls and soft blankets. When outside, make sure that you cover your head and neck to avoid penetration of the cold and wind into the system (and it just feels good!).
  • Boost the Immune System: I am a big fan of bone broth and constantly am making large batches to drink and immerse in my cooking for both my son and I. It is so easy to include many immune boosting, health enhancing ingredients in your bone broth. Some of my favorites are: chicken or beef bones, apple cider vinegar, seaweed, turmeric, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, any leftover veggies, mushrooms (fresh, dried, or powdered), and lemongrass. The list is endless and anything that strikes your taste buds or senses can be included. I suggest making your broth in a crock-pot and cooking for at least 24 hours. Store in glass ball jars and use in place of water in any recipe (I even use it in pancake mix with my 8 year old!). Get creative!
  • Welcome the Darkness: Go to sleep early and rise before the sun. Honor the dark and quiet of the morning with meditation and journaling. It is nice to begin ones day with gratitude by writing out a gratitude list. Calming the mind and emptying the thoughts before the sun has risen (and your children or partners) is a wonderful way to keep the vision and knowledge of the rebirthing that is on the horizon with the increasing light and warmth.
  • Take care of your feet: A very important ritual to keep grounded in this Ayurvedically-speaking Vata aggravating time of year (if you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda and find out what your primary dosha is, please look on the Banyan Botanicals website for a wealth of information), taking care of the feet through nightly massage with good quality oils is a must. I like to include some grounding essential oils, such as the Balance blend by Doterra, and generally use either Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, or Sesame Oil. After a bath is a perfect time to do so.
  • Cook Savory Comfort Foods and Treat Yourselves to Healthy Sweets: I have a sweet tooth, which seems to be exacerbated in these cold, dark months. Rather than fighting with myself, overanalyzing why I am craving sweets, punishing myself for eating them…I have embraced this part of me and have learned to honor my cravings. Give yourself permission to have treats – bake some delicious and healthy ones and ENJOY them. Get creative in the kitchen and take care of yourself by cooking nourishing comfort foods. Some of my winter favorites are beef stews, baked sweet potato fries, and butternut squash lasagna. Name this as self-care for your soul and acknowledge yourself with gratitude for feeding yourself and your cravings.
  • Get Outside: Bundle up and brave those elements. It is good for your heart, your soul, your body, and your spirit!