Monthly Archives: December 2011

hibernation…not just for bears?

Thought I’d share another image from gratitude journal this evening. I have always had a love-hate relationship with winter. Really not a fan of the cold weather, but I do love the way that winter forces me to slow down. Because I dislike the cold, the cooler temperatures tend to keep me indoors (unless of course DC gets hit with a snowstorm, then all bets are off). Although life has been a bit hectic due to the ‘holly-days’, I can feel winter beginning to settle in. And if I’m honest, this year I am savoring every moment of it. And technically, it’s not even here yet!

With the major milestones I’ve reached this year, my body, mind, and spirit are in desperate need of a break. My body is definitely in the process of aligning itself to winter. This week, I have been enjoying slower and shorter days, more time for creativity, and spending time curling up with le husband. My little igloo represents this hibernation that allows me more time for me and the gratitude I feel for this. Here’s to a season of slowing down, sipping onhot chocolate, ice skating, mittens, and maybe even a little snow…

yuletide yoga making special this holiday season

Just arrived home from teaching a ‘holly-day’ themed power yoga class. Power yoga classes tend to emphasize fast-paced movement connected to the breath. This style of class seems like an appropriate metaphor to strive for the season – moving quickly with ease and mindfulness. How often do we become so consumed with our to-do’s and wish lists that we forget to take the time to stop and enjoy the festive music, admire the decor as we stroll through the city, or approach gift shopping with a joyful attitude rather than another task we need to knock off our list.

This is a special time of year and it’s important to take the time to make life special. For my yoga classes, I like to do this by using themes like today’s class which focused on finding peace in chaos. In the final yoga class I had with my undergraduate students, I gave my students handmade paper ornaments with snowflakes on them as a takeaway. On the back was a quote by Francis Bacon,

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We only have this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake”

This gift was to serve as a reminder to live their yoga practice. How do you ‘make special’ the holidays for your friends, family, employees, clients, students, and important people in your like..?

make it happen! or ‘ask and you shall receive’

Forgive me from my brief absence from writing. I have been dying to write this post for a few days now, however I have also been fighting a pesky cold that just won’t seem to go away! Hoping to kick it by the end of this week…

The expression ‘ask and you shall receive’ has a lot of truth to it.  In honor of my first sale in my etsy shop (once I figure out how I’ll have button linking my blog to my shop, another goal!) last week I thought I’d share some thoughts on how we can make things happen by being open to the experience. Starting a shop on etsy filled with handmade goodies was one of my big goals for this year. This goal is another baby step toward my big vision. It was also one I thought I might not get to with thesis writing, wedding planning, and job hunting. However, on November 4, 2011 I launched my shop into cyber space. Everyday I checked my stats, added new items, watched as people added my products to their favorites list, but sadly no one purchased anything. This was a little disheartening… I know that it often takes time to get this sort of thing off the ground, however I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed.

Last Wednesday, I began to wonder if perhaps I was clinging too tightly to my dreams. Maybe I needed to let go a little and just let whatever was meant to happen, happen. That night as I lay in bed, slowly drifting off to sleep I took myself through a short meditation. I pictured my store as a brick and mortar space filled with customers, all who enjoyed being in the space and loved my stuff. With each inhalation, I imagined more customers coming in, each making a purchase. I was drawing customers toward me with each breath! As I exhaled, I allowed my body to soften and for myself to be content with where I was. I don’t know when exactly I fell asleep, but when I woke up the next morning I felt completely refreshed  and had forgotten about my meditation. I didn’t remember it until later that afternoon when my first shop sale – the necklace above – popped up on my iphone. While it was only one sale, this sale covers both my listing and advertising fees for the month. More importantly though, it gives me the courage to continue on this journey.

I think there something to be said for having goals and being able to let them go. So much of the time, we cling desperately to our wants and desires that we become frustrated and unhappy which draws negativity toward us. When we ask the universe for what we desire, step back, and allow it to happen it usually does. It is the act of remaining open and positive that draws what we want to us. Yet, be forewarned it doesn’t always happen the way that we might expect it to. The point is to ask and be open.

This isn’t the first time I have experienced this phenomenon. I have noticed it with my love life, friendships, job opportunities, and more! The challenge is to remember to move yourself into an open and positive state, even if your not feeling it. If this is a topic your experience this topic more in-depth there’s a lot of literature out there. The Secret by Rhonda Brynes is one of the most well known sources. Brooke Baker did a really great blog post on this topic last week in relation to her love life. Reflecting on your own experience can also be a great teacher. How do you move through frustration to achieve your dreams?

Stepping Outside of My Comfort Zone

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been flirting with the idea of starting a visual gratitude journal. Tonight I finally took the plunge. This morning I attended a meeting with the other stress management instructors in GWU’s Exercise Science Department to establish greater consistency between the different sections of the course. I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to interact with these like-minded individuals, in addition to having a supportive supervisor (she organized the meeting) who constantly encourages us to try new things, make mistakes, and grow. A great environment for working on my need for perfection!

I created the above image in my visual gratitude journal. I could talk about my process of creating, but would rather talk about what came out of my process. When I sat down to create, I noticed that I felt a lot of warmth around my heart – that feeling of gratitude for my growing professional network. As the image emerged, I was surprised by the amount of empty space there was around the people. While I am grateful for the people already in my life, I realize that this is also an area where I want to grow. Sometimes I struggle with reaching out, connecting, and sharing ideas on a professional level. I get nervous that they may seem silly. That if by somehow sharing them, I am going to taint my professional name. So much of the time I try things on my own and if they don’t work out than no one is any the wiser. I haven’t failed (or at least no knows).

But this is so restricting! Without sharing my ideas with others, they can’t be further developed, critiqued, and launched out into the world. Keeping them to myself stifles them. And, in order to create really great things we NEED the support of others to reach our goals. This means stepping out of our comfort zones. To build the business I one day intend to, having a strong professional network would be essential. Creating this blog is definitely a start since blogging reaches a wide audience, but I think a great next step would be to brainstorm how else I might be able to reach outside and connect with local yoga instructors, studio owners, art therapists, and wellness practitioners. It sounds like I have my work cut out for me! All this from one image…

Self-care Sunday: Relaxing Bath Recipe

In the spirit of self-compassion and taking better care of myself, I thought I’d share one of my favorite recipes for a relaxing bath.

Ingredients

4 Cups of Epsom Salts

1 Lush Bubble Bar

1 Lush Bath Melt (Optional)

Directions

Run a tub of warm water. Crumble a chuck off a lush bubble under running water. My absolute favorite  is the comforter bubble bar. It smells like blackcurrant and turns the bath water pink!! Bubble bars are meant to be cut up into 6-8 pieces depending on the size of the bar and your tub. When you’re ready to hop in, mix in 4 cups of epsom salts (you can get these in the first aid section of your local drugstore).  For a little extra tranquility, add a lush bath melt. These can be cut up as well. Happy Sunday!

Relearning Self-Compassion through Gratitude

Admittedly, I have felt a bit of resistance to write my second post because their hasn’t been a lot of movement in my life over the past few days (both figuratively and literally). I’ve been feeling tired, worn out, and just generally exhausted this week. Jumping from a very demanding graduate school program to planning a large wedding has certainly taken its toll on my body. Now with nothing but the holiday season on the horizon (and this seems tame compared to the year I’ve had) my body is informing me that it’s taking a break, whether I like it or not.

Being an on-the-go girl, it is hard to not feel frustrated with my body. Right now, I am probably doing 50% (or less) of what I used to get done in a day. It seems that the universe is pushing me toward relearning the art of self-compassion. I am never going to be able to apply for every therapy job posted. My house doesn’t always need to be spotless. And, sometimes my self-imposed deadlines are unrealistic. In her comment on my previous post, my wise Auntie imparted some very profound words of wisdom on me. “We are not always given what we want, but always receive what we need.” Perhaps this time of transition is also about focusing on myself, instead of solely on my career.

To move past my frustrations, I have been trying to acknowledge what I am grateful for and have even been flirting with the idea of keeping a visual gratitude journal. The above image (and it’s not perfect!) was created today at a Positive Psychology and Art Therapy Workshop for professionals. We were asked to think of one thing we were grateful for and create an image to represent it. The image reflects my gratitude for the part-time faculty position I hold teaching Stress Management at George Washington University. A position I would not have without my Masters degree. While my students challenge me, they also teach me and I am so grateful to be able to share my skills and knowledge with them. Feeling a little down or frustrated? Consider what gifts you might have to be grateful for? I’d be honored if you shared your feelings of gratitude in the comment section below.

hello world!

I am sure most people have heard the expression ‘begin with the end in mind,’ when it comes to setting goals. The basic premise behind this is that you don’t need to know exactly HOW you’re going to get where you’re going, you just need to know WHERE you’re going. I struggle with this due my extreme need for perfection. I like details, having a plan, and following that plan which puts me at a disadvantage. Because I crave order, I can’t get anything done until I feel organized (and I’m never organized enough). My greatest measure of success tends to be the finished product, not the path it took to get there.

This is a big period of transition for me. In addition to being in newlywed bliss, I also just completed my MA in Art Therapy. Sadly, the job search has been relatively uneventful, but I can’t help wondering if this might be a push from the universe to explore greater possibilities. I have known my big vision (featured above) even prior to beginning grad school. I want to own a brick and mortar space that offers yoga and art therapy catering to women’s personal health and wellness. The space would also have a small boutique filled with local, handmade goodies.

My biggest obstacle right now is that I have absolutely no idea how to get there. I feel a bit like the girl on the left side of the page – a young girl playing dress-up in clothes that are way too big for her! In my personal effort to ‘begin with the end in mind,’ I am embarking upon my baby step journey from student to professional. Inspired by Lisa Sonora Beam, I too have decided to create my own blank slate – this blog. I have no name, no theme, no color scheme, or layout (yet!). This is the first step and I am excited to see what happens. It could be about my journey to landing my first job or perhaps (and I am secretly hoping) the roadmap to launching my big vision. Regardless, it will document my baby step process. Keep checking back to see what happens….