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It’s that time of year. Out with the sugar coma, let the New Year’s resolution’s ring.

Maybe you’re feeling a bit under the weather. Your new pants are too tight. You’re energy’s been compromised and you’re yawning yet again.

A better, smarter part of you (than the part that ate your way through the holiday) “knows” you can turn over a new leaf. Maybe this is the year to get into a size 6. Time to start the diet.

Or maybe not.

I don’t doubt you can stay away from the treat that is your Achilles heel, be it a brownie or the extra helping of chips. The question is do you want to?

 Wait, weight…

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t loose weight. There’s plenty of evidence to show that overweight is not in the best interest of your heart or your immune system. Your joints are not big fans of extra weight. Your skin, with too much weight, will stretch beyond a point of return. Your digestion can’t work at peak performance. Your liver and gall bladder will start to give you negative reports (read pain.) Your pancreas will offer wacky read-outs of blood sugar.

What I’m questioning is the life of deprivation that is part of the package we call “dieting.” We, (I mean you and me,) don’t do well with deprivation. A part of us can “woman up,” but is that the part you want to encourage? Is that the part you want to grow?

And if you’ve tried the deprivation thing before you know how it goes. Deprive, deprive, deprive, binge, guilt….

I’m fond of talking about wholeness. When you approach a decision from a part, say you’re butt that’s showing evidence of hours of sitting and too much holiday cheer, you leave out the majority of your wisdom.

Smart Ass?

I’m not saying that your butt’s not smart. It’s just you’re so much more. You’re not your belly. You’re not your thighs.

You’re a soul, a light.

A bright, bright star.

A beautiful body, a bag of emotions, and a brilliant mind.

A huge heart.

While your belly might respond to a deprivation diet by becoming a little flatter, your soul’s probably craving something more along the lines of connection, nature, enough, abundance, kindness… While your flat belly and skinny thighs rejoice from the diet du jour, your soul weeps. Your big heart’s not too thrilled either.

 The Austere Lifestyle

It’s true that some spiritual traditions will tell you that deprivation is good for you. Yes, we live in a world of excess. Less can be more. But simple is different that deprivation. Abundance is not the same as excess.

I’m not saying that deprivation is always bad. But stay the course too long and the pendulum will swing. It’s why many a dieter ends up with an unexplained empty bag of Cheetos at their feet feeling like a failure.

 The Tricky Part

We hear a call and we answer it. It’s in the hearing that we misinterpret. We think we hear a call for an abundance of jelly filled doughnuts. When we refine our ability to listen, when we learn to hear from the sum of the parts, rather than the loudest part we hear a different need.

Despite what sounds a lot like sweet potato fries what you’re craving may actually be something entirely different.

  • A creative outlet
  • Blissful moments of quiet
  • A conversation with a friend
  • Making a courageous move toward the life of your dreams.
  • A nurturing touch…

What you crave will be different than what I crave. What you crave in this moment will likely be different that what you crave tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Listening is step one. Acting on your cravings, your real cravings, is step two. Most of what passes for cravings is a way to distract or numb. If you can intercept the deeper message, now you have magic. And it’s that magic that saves people’s lives.

 Here’s the part no ones talking about.

If you’re using food to distract and/or numb your knees will start complaining from too much weight. The truth is that your mind, your emotions, and your spirit aren’t exactly having a picnic. They’re suffering too. If you try to live a life of deprivation your will power will only last so long. Your body might rejoice in a few less pounds of pressure. But the whole of you won’t be any happier.

When you listen carefully you will understand what you’re actually craving. Then you can feed appropriately. Don’t feel bad if this doesn’t come naturally. I help many of my clients with learning how to listen. When they get it they understand and start to nurture the part that is malnourished.  You might need to feed your creative muse, your inner child, your tender warrior. It may be your inner entrepreneur is suffering from major burn out. And no quantity of peanut butter will fill that well. I’ve tried.

Nurture the part that’s hungry. Even if it feels over the top scary.

Even if you’re not sure.

And then watch what happens to the whole of your life, not just your waistline. It can be pretty incredible. And you might just find your pants fitting a bit looser too.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

The Problem with Retreats

September 26, 2013

I love retreats of all shapes and sizes. But I noticed for both others and myself a common problem that takes away some of the impact of a retreat.

See if this sounds familiar.

You work hard to be ready to leave. You spend the first part of your time off recovering, resetting your pace.

By the time the retreat is over you do feel better—more relaxed, more rested… You’ve practiced some new habits—regular exercise, healthier eating, not checking your phone every 10 minutes… You feel the benefits from just a few changes and you vow to continue these changes, this slower rhythm.

You return home. Now you have to work hard to catch up from being gone. A couple of weeks pass and someone asks you about your vacation. You have to pause and think about it to remember that you’ve even had time away.

Dang. You’ve lost that retreat/vacation vibe again.

The makings of a great retreat

The word retreat is defined this way: “move back or withdraw to a quiet secluded place.” When you do that you get a chance to slow down, to view your life and how you’re living it with fresh eyes.  You feel renewed, rested, maybe even invigorated.

Before and after

The problem with most retreats is that they occur in a vacuum. You go, you enjoy, and then you return to the same environment from whence you came.

I’ve found that people often have issues with transition. They return to their loved ones, their co-workers, the “regular world.” While the retreat participant may have shifted their ideas and habits the rest of the world is the same. While you were off relaxing by the pool, taking naps, or reading a good book someone was still at home scooping the cat boxes. Yeah, all that cat shit did not mysteriously disappear by itself.

Addressing the fact that you have a life pre- and post retreat can make a world of difference in how that transition goes. (We’ll be doing that as part of the  Purposeful Yoga Retreat.) It can help you reap the benefits of your time off at a deeper fuller level.

A couple of pointers:

  1. Have a plan. Think about how you will transition both before and after your retreat.
  2. Talk with those around you about this transition time. Listen to how it affects them when you’re gone (or how they think it might affect them.) What are their fears? How can you support each other?

Has the transition back to work and life ever been challenging for you? Share your challenges and solutions here.

Little Break, Big Reward

August 19, 2013

Last week my best friend from college visited. Even though I was in charge of showing her the beauties of Oregon for a few days I still felt like I was on vacation. Amazing what a couple of unschedu

led, unhurried days did for my rhythm, my psyche.

If you’re like me you sometimes crave LARGE chunks of time to unwind and restore. Yet I’m always surprised by the huge impact that can come from small moments.

I just finished a coaching session with a woman who’s been working long, long hours. On top of a grueling schedule she’s been dealing with some stressful personal issues that demand her attention. Stuff that can be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Stuff that means she feels emotional pain over loss. Stuff to which she must attend.

Today was a brief respite from the intensity. While she was looking forward to a less scheduled day, she also felt the pressure (her own assigned pressure) to take some action, actually make that to push, forward on some of her awaiting projects.

“Down Days”

Actually she’d taken the last two days as “down days.” But as day three threw back the curtains she realized she really needed a couple of weeks of  “down days.”

She felt tired. A bit depressed. Weary really.

And yet her mind said, “If I take the day off from work, my pile will grow higher. My work flow will continue to suffer.”

Her belief was that to get relief, to renew deeply, she needed a significant chunk of time. And right now she doesn’t feel like she can take that time. She felt doomed to push forward, deeper into a place called “weary.”

Brief Respite

I invited her to do an exercise. She was sitting outside her home on a lawn chair in her rural yard.  Her trusty dog at her feet, she was enjoying the summer weather as we chatted via phone. The exercise took maybe two minutes. She was surprised that she felt a little better. Afterwards she said, “Oh, I guess I could allow small times of renewal rather than wait for the more expansive times off.”

I’m all for extended retreats. A weekend in the mountains, a week at a destination spa, a month in an isolated area…

But there are times where those types of getaways feel impossible.  You might have things that require your attention…family, work, home, animals, community.

Yet most of us can carve out small chunks.

Don’t underestimate the power of renewal that can come from these small chunks of time. Not only can they work to fill you back up when you’re depleted, I encourage my clients to integrate these types of renewal into their regular scheduling. That way they’re way less likely to get “ugly burned out.”

If the idea of a wee chunk of time focused on resting, filling up, or getting some significant traction on a project is appealing, then check out the upcoming virtual retreat.

Participants at the last event used the time for what they needed: rest, nurture time, play, and focused productivity. How would you use four hours of unscheduled time?

See Your Beauty

April 29, 2013

During my final semester of my senior year in college I took a group psychology class. The first night of class we had to introduce ourselves to the person sitting next to us. We were supposed to describe ourselves.


I really didn’t know who I was. How was I supposed to describe myself? So I used the words I’d heard from my recent ex-boyfriend. “My eyes are cat shit gray. My teeth look like horses teeth.”

The man across from me looked surprised and informed me that my eyes were actually a beautiful blue. Hmmm… Really?

Over the years I’ve learned two things: My eyes are blue and I’m not the only woman who doesn’t always see her beauty. I once had a call from a potential massage client. Her main concern was that “she was fat and therefore embarrassed to have someone touch her.” I was shocked when she arrived, as she was a very normal weight.

How Do You See Yourself?

Dove, as part of their “real beauty campaign,” recently hired a criminal sketch artist. He drew woman based on their self-description and then a second time based on a description from a stranger.

The results were stunning. Women definitely see themselves differently than strangers do. If you haven’t watched the video I highly recommend it. Kudos to Dove and the brilliance of the Ogilvy ad agency for graphically showing how distorted our view of ourselves is.

 

The Cost of Self-loathing

All this self-loathing (or even mild self dislike) comes with a price. I think it’s one of the main reasons women don’t always honor their need for self-care. Seeing your own beauty IS self-love. And self-love = self-care. When you love yourself you’re more likely to nurture yourself regularly.

The “I’m flawed” thing also effects women’s willingness to live their purpose. After all if you’re “butt ugly” shouldn’t you just stay inside and not afflict the world. Maybe you’re pretty sure that if you were to show up in a big way people would spend more time talking about your saggy breasts or too big tummy or slightly crooked nose than listening to your message.

If you’re not that beautiful (read valuable) then doesn’t it make sense that you’re less likely to believe in your purpose, your ability, and worthiness? That’s how it worked for me anyway.

I’ve done a lot of self-healing since that college class. While I’d still probably end up with a less attractive self-portrait than one by a stranger I see my beauty and that allows me to show up in the world to do my work.

How about you? Have you struggled with the same issues?

And now for a laugh… watch this parody. Funny stuff.

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