Cluttered Mind

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The whole idea of cleansing is a mental one. Amassing stuff, weight, debt – all stemming from the same root cause by the way – happens first in the  mind. We feel a sense of lack on some level so we eat, purchase, expend undue stress and energy.

Your mind created it. It can fix it.

If clarity is what you’re seeking a dedicated meditation practice is all you need. Really.

But if your mind is so occupied with thoughts about work, the kids, aging parents, cleaning, cooking, laundry, car trouble, illness, I forgot to exercise again, etc. how are you expected to quiet your mind enough to meditate?

If losing weight and getting healthier is your focus, simply changing how you eat, what you eat and moving more should take care of that.

But if you are stressed and your body is constantly “on” in flight or flight – and believe me it probably is – the weight will be stubborn. It’s quite comfortable right where it is. Giving up often seems like the only clear option.

If creating more physical space by decluttering and purging your stuff is your goal, that’s simple enough. Go through your things and get rid of whatever you no longer need or want.

But what if you uncover some attachments to weird things. An old handkerchief becomes a memory of a long passed grandmother, the broken chair was the one your dad always sat in. How are you going to release anything at that rate? And what if your partner, kids or other housemates just keep bringing more stuff home?

The reason behind the purge has to be solid; it has to be enough to keep you going. You know you will feel lighter and more open to possibility if you have less stuff, more time, and get healthy. That clear picture of the results – the space – has to become crystal clear to keep you moving forward.

Start slow but steady and determined. Habits will try to remind you how everything was just fine the way it was.

This is ultimately a mental cleanse; the clearing out of old habits and they will fight back.

I highly recommend meditation, yoga, walking, juicing. They’re all powerful tools for clarity.

We have 12 full months to turn this ship around. Just take one step today. Just agree with yourself that you are going to create space for clarity and magic then let the ‘hows’ unfold.

Still chomping to get started or whining a little?

If you did a little internal groan at meditation might I recommend Yoga Nidra? It is a meditation practice that is guided. You are laying down and simply listening. Doing this practice everyday or even twice a day for a month, or less, will change everything. Well, it will change your perspective of everything.

If yoga or walking prompted an eyeroll, just do some research on your local studios first, find a truly gentle class and start there. The big secret: Yoga is less about physical flexibility and strength (although that naturally comes) and more about mental flexibility and clarity. Or go for a walk. In regular old street clothes and some comfortable shoes. Take your phone – not to talk, try to be completely present to everything around you – to take photos of magic. You’re bound to see a beautiful flower, a bird, a sunrise. Capture it, it’ll get you back out there tomorrow.

fullsizerender-20If juicing sounds like yesterday’s hot thing or pure quackery, give it another chance. It takes a little more work. First you need a juicer and lots and lots of raw veggies and a few not too-sweet fruits. Or do you? There are some high quality cold pressed juices out there. I’m a big fan of Suja. I’m a bigger fan of juicing myself. Smoothies are great too, but with juicing you get a shot of nutrients right to the blood stream without the time it takes to digest the fiber of eating a whole bunch of kale or a carrot. If you don’t have a juicer, start with the store bought variety or make yourself a healthy smoothie in your blender. Just get some more high-quality raw veggies in that amazing body of yours.

“What about all my stuff?” you may be thinking. Take that one step at a time as well. We’ll be talking in great detail about physical objects and clutter. For now take a look around your home and determine where to start. For most it will be inside something. My own home neatly hides tons of mysterious secret stuff: drawers, closets, desks. Maybe start somewhere simple and mostly neglected. Or maybe you’ll choose to start with a category of things like clothes. There are as many techniques out there as there is stuff, we’ll go over a few that seem to be gaining some traction in the coming weeks. For now, just observe. Notice how things make you feel.

None of this has to be started today. Or ever. Remember your goal? Your reason? It’s yours, it’s personal. If any of these things can help you get on your way to more clarity give them a shot.

There will not be just one answer, one solution. It takes a village of ideas and practices working together – along with a support system – to feel safe enough to drill down and begin to create a shift.

With clarity comes enchantment, freedom and purpose.

Wait, purpose, what?

 

 

Speaking of the Dead

soaring vultures

I was sitting in the back of the room with the other yoga nidra facilitators listening with half an ear to the teacher in the front. I can’t even tell you who it was. I don’t remember. In my distracted state, I cut my eyes toward the giant picture windows to my right – I do this often – and between the lush, old stately trees I could see the lake sparkling. A small hole between branches provided the perfect view of a cerulean blue sky and in that tiny hole a vulture soared.

Another one.

They are everywhere in Florida. They are everywhere, period. But they are in my awareness more than almost any other creature.

During this 10 day training I have entertained hoards. At one point, I was peacefully rocking myself back and forth on a swing, enjoying the breeze coming off the lake, lost in the lapping of the water against the shore; I leaned forward for some reason and when I looked up dozens of vultures were making their way across the sky above me. They were low enough for me to see the holes in their beaks and hear their wings flap as they gained purchase against the wind.

They kept coming. I was awestruck. I have never seen so many aloft at once.

I stood, as much as a salute to their humility and grace as to close the gap between us by another foot or two. I longed – long – for one to swoop down and sit beside me. They are clearly my animal totem and I simply adore them.

No matter when I looked up, during this ten-day training, they were there.

As I sat in the back of the room watching my friend soar effortlessly, I thought, “What are they trying to tell me?”

“Clean up your dead.” It was as if that single vulture had stopped, looked me in the eye with hands on hips and said, “Clean up your dead.”

The meaning simultaneously accompanied the words, yet I tried to analyze it, figure it out. It was an opportunity, in that moment, to simply say, “ok” and let it all go. But I needed to know more. I needed to figure out what my dead was. Which relationships, beliefs, habits was I supposed to let go of? How should I clean them out, how will I know if I have?

This gift that was handed to me became a light that revealed a pattern that doesn’t always serve me. Planting a thought in my brain then attaching a million other thoughts to it. Trying to figure things out.

Sometimes I just have to say ok. And so I did. Sort of.

I am using this command, ‘clean up your dead’ each time I find myself hooking into a thought pattern that isn’t serving me. I won’t catch them all and it will be a process of recognition and repetition until finally it’s not. But I’m committed.

And if I hold on a little too long to the dead weight, I have plenty of airborne friends around to remind me.

21 Day Challenge – Day 7 – Skulduggery Afoot

Diary Book

One week in and here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. I am still really good at tricking myself into and out of what is good for me. Like professional grade status.
  2. I’m getting smarter and quicker at catching the skullduggery and doing the right thing more often than not.
  3. I have not lost one ounce but I have gained a ton of energy. Before committing to the “work-out” I was fuzzy, forgetful, tired, whiney, angry and frustrated. Now I’m just occasionally and strategically forgetful.
  4. I don’t like being pushed. And apparently I “bargain” with my trainer. Whatever.
  5. And, I actually like raising my heart rate and sweating.

While all of this seems like good news – and it is – what I am lacking is routine or ritual. I need structure. I fight structure. Do you see the problem? I exhaust myself.

A year or so ago I went through some of my old journals, and there are millions. I was expecting to find witty remarks, deep thoughts and profound insights. You know, the stuff that would comprise the movie they make about me in 100 years after they unearth these tomes of brilliance. What I found between profundities were pages and pages, years and years of planning my day. Get up at 5, 6, 5:45, work out, eat breakfast and on and on.

How depressing. Not so much that I was planning, but that I never really worked the plan.

In almost every case, everything I wanted to accomplish during the day had to be finished by 11 AM, my high point of creativity and energy during the day, so I was progressively getting up earlier and earlier. What did I expect to do with myself after 11? Have lunch with friends, skulk around independent bookstores, chat up shop owners and do gooders, come home cook a gourmet meal and share my day with my husband?

Sounds pretty amazing, actually, perhaps I should revisit those journals.

But I digress.

So now what? Plan again? Start over? Wing it? It’s the act of planning that feels solid to me. I have always been this way. I am the idea person, I’m going to lay it all out and then YOU go implement it.

There appears to be a learning opportunity for me. Can I be the implementer? I know I will fight it. For the past 8 years I have had my own businesses and my time is my own. Schedules just happen organically.

I think if I have a short list of things I plan to accomplish during the day – whenever – I will get them done.

No. That feels like a cop-out. I feel like there is a huge opportunity for me to break through this resistance to what is good for me.

I need the structure. I need to create non-negotiables. I just do these things because they are what I do. I brush my teeth every day, shower, make my bed. Why not pranayama, meditation and an hour of movement? Why not indeed.

There. Now onto the schedule.

You should know that in my head I’m already coming up with reasons why this won’t work.

 

All or Nothing

manatee IMG_3784Go big or go home. In or out. Without realizing it most of my life has been guided by these phrases. If I decide that I am going to do something it has to be every day at the same time. Gym every morning. Juicing for lunch. Walk after dinner. If I miss one day, I’ve failed. So I stop.

This is a tough one for me. Consistency equals success.

I remember hearing Wayne Dyer talk about running. For years he ran every single morning. Rain, shine, snow, illness, injury. Everyday. Then one day he couldn’t. He was too sick or injured. He completely struggled with not doing it. Until he didn’t.

I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s so obsessive.” Hello mirror.

I still do it. It shows up a little differently each time, cleverly disguised as  resolve or gumption, but it’s still a 50/50 split.

The problem is with the nothing, go home, out part. That’s the easy part. It seems to take such a long period of cheer leading and hand holding to talk me into the healthy habit and a mere whiff of fresh-baked cookies or a frigid morning or a sore foot or whine, whine, wine (oops, how did that get in there?!) to pull me out.

Then a brief stint in the corner of self-doubt and shame helps me turn things around. This process is exhausting!

After all this craziness I believe a switch has been thrown. Finally I feel ready to tackle this or that. This is the time. I just need to do it every single day for a certain number of days and then…what? Keep doing it every day for the rest of my life? Integrate it into my life as a healthy habit? We saw how well that worked last time.

But, hold on. Maybe it did work last time. Maybe the time between the last 21 day challenge and this one was necessary for me to find those mirrors and hit those bumps and head smack myself a little into returning. Maybe it created enough of a recognition that it’s possible. That I don’t have to create an unrealistic schedule to succeed just to set myself up for failure.

Life happens. All of these things I’ve added in consciously, the writing, yoga nidra, gym or yoga – which by the way I’ve been to the gym 3 times this week and done yoga twice, thank you very much – are supposed to be about supporting my best self. They are supposed to be about loving myself. If I fall back, shouldn’t I just love myself back into action, rather than abuse myself? Yep.

The new challenge program has my deepest desire to show up as my biggest, bestest, most authentic self. That’s all. Now that’s something I can get behind.

That’s the switch. Make the choices that clear the path for ME to show up. When I show up clear and open, I allow others that same opportunity. It’s a win-win. And I like those odds.

[Photo: While playing hooky from blogging yesterday I scampered off to Blue Springs Park to be lulled into a state of waking meditation by the slow, gentle ballet of the beautiful manatees. Best reason to play hooky!]

Look What I Can Do

me on ringsIt appears the treadmill is a good teacher and the second best place for aha moments – the first being “the chamber of insight” or as you may know it, the shower.

Walking has always been a head-clearer for me. If I’m walking in my neighborhood I don’t wear headphones, I like the sounds of birds, children, cars and the wind. When I’m at the gym, I’m definitely plugged in. And the music is loud. It propels me forward, because lets face it, the History channel, reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fox News just don’t really inspire me to break a sweat.

As my heart rate is rising and The Black Eyed Peas are encouraging me to pump it pump it, my mind is free to wander. Have you ever thought about how amazing that is? How we are able to do one thing, think another, look at something that has nothing to do with the first two and be aware that we are witnessing all of it? Pretty special, we are.

The most recent treadmill insight came as a nice energetic head slap. Don’t you just love it when you think you are a certain way, you are sure of it, you know yourself, then the tiniest thing flips everything upside down? You begin to question everything you believe to be true about yourself. Or at least I do.

I honestly believed that I no longer cared what others thought of me. Right? We all have that inner diva who still wants attention on some level. I noticed that as I was pumping away on the treadmill I couldn’t help but let my eyes wander to the heavy sweater next to me. At what speed was his treadmill set? Was I faster? Did he notice? Look, I’m faster. And I’ve been on here longer.

Out of left field. I wanted him – a random, middle-aged, slightly chubby man – to be impressed by my speed. Ignoring the fact that there were at least 10 people actually running that were way more impressive. I have no idea what this guy even looks like. I don’t know his story. I didn’t care. Did he notice and was he impressed?

Wow.

Of course I let that realization ping all over my frenetic mind coming up with all sorts of conclusions and ridiculous speculation. Who was I now, if not the strong, confident woman who didn’t care what others thought? But the fact remained that, of course I care what people think of me. It’s the human condition. If we don’t care what they think we look like, we want them to think we are smart or funny or have some other unique skill or trait that makes us completely unique.

The way we dress, talk, spend our money and our time all tell others something about us. This does not necessarily make us narcissistic, but human. How we look, what we say and how we say it is how we find each other. It’s how we relate.

The less we get caught up in the story we’re trying to convey to the world, the more likely we are to find those whose energy is a match for our own. Trying hard to convince others we are a certain way covers our authenticity and creates false impressions. The more we relax with who we are, the more peace we have. The more our true selves and authentic uniqueness can shine.

Dropping the masks and facades takes time. Lots of time and lots of practice.

For me, the realization was helpful. In truth, they all are, some are just harder to swallow. It showed me there is much work to be done. Continuing to let go through practices like yoga nidra, yoga and meditation. Continuing to be aware of these realizations and allowing space for them.

And apparently continuing to use the treadmill. At any speed.

Liberation

SHC IMG_7067It was recently suggested to a group of yoga teachers I was with that it is our calling to help liberate others. Many are called. They become yoga teachers and scholars, yoga nidra facilitators, Reiki masters, counselors, ministers and leaders of all sorts. But when you are told this and it hits your gut with such a fierceness that it brings tears to your eyes, you know you are on the right track. 

Let me clarify. The liberation spoken of is from our preconceived notions about ourselves, our negative self talk, our victimhood. And while I believe no one can really free another, I know it is possible to help lift the veil of illusion just enough for someone to see their own perfection. I have seen it over and over again.

The rub for me has been a disconnect. I get it. Intellectually. My mind loves this stuff, it nods vigorously in agreement. Then it sets about to disprove it or pick it apart to  try to really understand it. To get it. There must be more. It creates problems out of this one principle just so it can solve them. And when it can’t solve them it takes me to the couch with a bag of potato chips and the remote. There must be a hole in the theory. We’ll figure it out from here.

I get it. And then I forget it.

I love to teach. Almost anything. But I especially love to teach yoga and yoga nidra. I love the way people look after a class. They have accessed something so deep that most of them aren’t able to articulate it. But they know where they got it so they come back. It’s not me.  I didn’t do this for them, I just held the space for them to explore. They allowed themselves to drop into that place where the veil got a little more transparent.

This is all beautiful. But I have been moving away from teaching lately preferring instead to work on my art. A fine choice. I love creating art; painting, photographing, cut paper designs, jewelry, coloring, it doesn’t matter, I love it all. The problem lies in the reason behind the shift from teaching to art.

I wasn’t even really aware why or what that was until this past weekend. Several very skilled teachers were able to help me with that veil thing. The disconnect for me is this: How can I teach yoga and yoga nidra if I’m not practicing it? Up to now I always thought that meant physically getting on my mat striking a couple of poses then lying in savasana for yoga nidra. Part of it. Maybe.

What I got while I was salsa walking on the treadmill to Gypsy Kings yesterday was this: How can I teach liberation, how can I help free others when I am still in a cage imprisoned by my own negative self talk? By my own lack of respect for the vehicle, the physical form that I was given? By the act of self-flagellation on an energetic level?

I have gotten this concept before. It’s an old, worn idiom: Practice what you preach. But now? I. Get. It.

I do not have to be a size 2 to teach yoga. I do not have to be pious to help others find peace. I do not have to juice and starve myself to help others get healthy. BUT, for me, when I am physically practicing yoga and yoga nidra; when I am at the gym early in the morning revving my metabolism and shining my sparkle; when I am eating clean; I FEEL free. I am an expression of that which I am teaching. I am a clear channel. And people get it faster. They don’t have to work as hard.

So in the first day of this new challenge, this ginormous truth has been revealed to me. My goal, yes goal, is to dissolve the cage by being what I am teaching. It is a prison of my own construction so there is no need to look outside of myself. The journey is inward.

Rising Again

forest IMG_3750

I just completed an intensive training the trainer training (got that?) for Yoga Nidra. It was amazing, intense, awesome, beautiful, grueling, revealing and a tremendous gift. Out of this training an unspoken challenge was issued: “Do yoga nidra everyday; it will change your life, you already know this.” And so I am prepared to accept this challenge because it has in fact changed my life. The effects are undeniable. I’m relaxed and I come from a space of peace rather than reaction perched white knuckled on my edge. I am able to be highly productive without stress. It’s magic. And I’ve let it go.

Let’s recap. Back in October I issued myself a 21 day challenge to live a more enchanted life and I identified 5 activities needed to clear the way for this to happen: yoga, yoga nidra, writing, photographing all once daily and the gym a couple times a week. I nailed the challenge then let it all go the next day. Yep. Moment of truth. I could speculate on all the reasons why, but the fact is I just stopped. As much as I wanted it to be a lifestyle change and not a “goal,” it turned into the latter. I achieved it. Done. Slowly one by one I’ve added them all back in. First the writing, then the yoga, etc. And that feels good.

In addition to Yoga Nidra, I have been asked to assist in another yoga teacher training and another 21 consecutive days of yoga has been requested of me.

Then there is a little memoir contest I have decided to enter so it seems writing daily would be a good idea.

On top of all this, I will be heading to India in, ready for this, 21 days and the Swami guiding the tour has asked all of us to commit to a daily yoga and meditation practice so we are prepared for the same once we’re on the other side of the globe.

Here’s the thing; when I did this challenge the first time I basically let go of EVERYTHING else. I went to work, I taught, I did what was asked of me, but 99% of my focus and energy was on the challenge. I was on a little vacation from my life and it was awesome! When I completed the challenge I had to play catch up, putting me in the same situation I was in before: not enough time for all of it. Or, more honestly, maybe a misguided assessment of my priorities.

So this time, and yes I will be doing this again, it feels different. I will add these things in, on top of the work that I currently do, rather than replacing it. I will create priorities out of some aspects of the challenge and allow space for others. I know it’s possible.

Here’s the challenge: yoga nidra  and writing daily. Yoga and Gym as often as I can. Which is to say I will do some sort of physical exercise daily, I’m just not going to be militant as to what. As I write this I don’t feel the same sense of urgency or excitement I did before, and I think maybe that’s good. Instead, there’s a quiet determination and a sense of calm confidence. I’ve got this.

A few days after the last challenge when it was clear to me that I had slipped into the to-do list abyss, I was feeling a sense of failure and berating myself for undoing it all. But I didn’t undo anything. I simply stopped doing all of it at once and brought each component back in as I felt the need. All the work I had done was valid. It helped. It was time well spent.

My life is still enchanted, magic happens everyday. I didn’t need to do all those things daily to create an environment for enchantment to arise. I did need to do the challenge to reveal to me that I already had an enchanted life. I only had to recognize it.

I also believe anytime I am moving a little farther down the continuum of  self care and self love; honoring the vehicle I have been gifted, it is always a win.

So I will rise to the challenge again with curiosity and an appreciation of the experiences. I’ll post daily as before for those who want to follow along or create their own challenges. Please share your challenges and ideas with me, and we can grow together.

[Photo: Salt Springs, Florida. Deep in the Ocala National Park where pine trees sing like running water.]

21 Day Challenge – Day 21 – Enchantment

Wish web IMG_2159The 21 Day Challenge I laid at my feet three weeks ago has been met. I have been able to check each item off my list without a lot of trouble.

I have learned that when there is an intention to align with instead of a goal to be met, the force behind it creates openings for just the right circumstances to manifest keep me on my path.

Goals are often set out of exasperation, especially personal goals. They are bringing to light a shortcoming and putting it on a pedestal for all to see, so when we fail to meet that goal again the village can have a good laugh at our expense or just shake their heads collectively with, ‘here we go again.’

When goals are used as stepping stones to achieve something great they often work for a while, especially if that something great is aligned with our soul’s purpose. If we are failing to meet the same goal over and over again, it is not aligned, therefore it is a distraction from the real work of the spirit. It’s time to let it go and look beyond that particular goal.

I have goals. I have a pretty big one right now that I’m working on. It feels completely congruent with my intention; they support each other.

As I move forward from these 21 days I plan to continue the habits I have set.

1. Yoga Daily. This was more difficult than I thought, especially if I planned to do it at home. If you recall I had mentioned it is much easier for me to meet the expectations of others than to rise to my own tasks. Going to class helped a lot. It was actually easier to get myself out of my house, drive to the studio and take a class than wander to my back porch unroll my mat and do sun salutations. I’ll continue to work on a home practice, but for now I know what will work.

2. Yoga Nidra twice a day. This proved to be excessive. Once a day fit perfectly. I established doing yoga nidra at the mid-afternoon dip, to be the most beneficial and I’ll continue with that.

3. Gym twice a week. This is one that surprised me. I had no trouble going twice a week – one week I went only once, but took a very long walk outside. I am planning on attempting 5 days a week with this one. I feel energized and bright when I leave the gym.

4. Write 2 hours a day every day – even Saturday and Sunday. Overall this goal was easily met. Many days I wrote much more than 2 hours. There were times when I bored myself with my own voice and struggled with subject matter, but working through the process helped and I was able to check that task off feeling accomplished.

5. Fresh photos daily. Harder than I expected as much as I love to take pictures. It became a necessity. I would find myself locked into my computer or overcome with my sense of busyness and remember I hadn’t taken pictures. Just walking away from whatever task I was engaged in and going outside with my camera created a beautiful sense of presence. This I will continue.

6. No alcohol. Surprisingly easy. There were only two social occasions in which I would have normally partaken but didn’t. Bowling and a swanky little party. Both times I had water and no one scoffed or even noticed. And I didn’t miss it. I will drink wine again, but it will be much more deliberate – a single glass at a special dinner or party. It just isn’t worth the sluggish, cobwebby feeling in the morning.

So overall I’d call my little experiment a success. But the biggest gift in all of this was the Facebook Group that grew from that very first blog. A tremendous group of women who didn’t necessarily know one  another – I was the common denominator – came together in total unconditional support of each other. In three weeks that group has grown to include friends and relatives of my friends who I do not know and the power of the group has only expanded.

What started out as a seemingly selfish task has turned into a movement of upliftment and love. It is about no one and everyone at the same time. Women are able to share their darkest feelings and proudest accomplishments without fear of judgment. It all happened organically.

The only word I can come up with to describe this group is Enchanted.

My challenge was to change habit patterns that I felt were holding me back from the true expression of my soul’s purpose so that I could live a more enchanted life. What was created was a whole community of Enchantment.

I don’t know how it happened. I don’t care. The Universe has a way of rising up to meet us when we’re ready and many of us were ready. I didn’t do this. You didn’t do this. This could have only happened because we were all aligned on some level and knew we were to work together.

I learned that living an enchanted life had nothing to do with being the perfect size, in the perfect house or relationship or at the perfect job. It has to do with giving to others, being grateful, taking time to notice a bee on a flower. It has to do with presence. Showing up authentic and present for my own life.

It’s the last day of the challenge, but the beginning of a lifetime and lifestyle of enchantment as I, along with those in the group and elsewhere, continue to remind each other of our own magic and bigness.

The blogs will not end, it seems to be in my nature. I will continue to look for the magic in everything every day and share it. I encourage you to do the same.

[Photo: A little wish caught in a web.]

 

21 Day Challenge – Day 11 – Midway Tricks and Treats

Halloween IMG_1876As I reach the halfway point of my challenge I am assessing my progress and looking forward to what I may want to add in.

Thus far my performance has been stellar. I have met all of my daily challenges except for one. Doing yoga ndira twice a day, every day, was perhaps a bit ambitious. I have forgiven myself. What I have learned is there is a best time of the day for me to do yoga nidra and so I am committing to that time each day. The yoga, gym, writing and photography have been a cinch and alcohol hasn’t even registered as a miss.

Once I complete this first 21 days I’m considering adding some new tools to my enchanted life toolbox. The yoga, yoga nidra and gym are keepers. Writing and photography are a passion and part of a much bigger plan so I don’t think I’ll give that up. The wine? We’ll see where that goes. I still have 10 days on my current plan so I won’t be adding anything quite yet, but I am considering what could enhance my magic making even more.

I have decided to look at food. I know, looking at my relationship to food on Halloween is like being at a romance film festival on Valentine’s Day alone. But all this sugar has me thinking – and hyper.

I have a love hate relationship with sugar. I love it. It hates me. Oh, it says it loves me, sweet talking me into believing it will treat me right but I can see right through its foil wrapper. Those are empty calories mister.

But every now and then it’s hard to resist. Sugar doesn’t act alone, he’s just the front man for a much bigger gang of carbohydrates.

I’ve been on this ride before. I got so serious about food that I became a Holistic Health Coach. I know a lot about food, dietary theories, exercise, physiology and the disease process. I studied the Blood Type Diet, Ayurveda, Veganism, Vegetarianism and Raw food. I know food.

I became obsessed and rigid with food, denying myself so much that I naturally swung the opposite direction in reaction – why can’t I have what I want when I want it? The answer to that question, unfortunately, is all over my hips.

So now I seek the middle ground. What will support my ultimate intention and goals?

As food has not been a direct part of this challenge I have not created any restrictions but I have paid attention. I’ve made good choices. But I can do more. And sometimes less.

If I am eating loads of veggies and fruits, very little grain, very little animal product, no dairy and next to no sugar aside from what lives naturally in fruit, I feel fantastic. If on the other hand I shovel candy, coffee with heavy cream, lunch meat and starchy foods in my face on a regular basis – not so fantastic. I believe this is probably true for most people. Why do we go back to the foods that do not serve our magical selves?

It doesn’t happen all at once, things just creep back in. The mind begins to convince us that we deserve a treat. That’s a trick. (See what I did there?) We don’t deserve sugar, potato chips, soda and deep dish pizza, we deserve to feel amazing.

Eating too much of anything, but especially too much sugar, is like putting a wet blanket over the inner fire. It dulls the brightness, causing that perky flame inside to sit on the couch and put its feet up for a while with one hand tucked in its waistband and the remote control in the other.

Food is a huge part of the healthy, enchanted lifestyle I seek. I’ll begin the investigation and self-inquiry into the foods that are the most supportive for my energy level and shininess. Again, not to be a size zero. Who really wants to be a zero anyway? But to stay clear, focused and feel alive and vibrant. To keep the creative juices flowing and the energy level high.

The bottom line, I want to treat my body like the gift it is, like a temple. Not a haunted house.

[Photo: Playing around with some indoor photography. A touch of Halloween.]

21 Day Challenge – Day 9 – Non-negotiable

tan horsey IMG_1790

It’s amazing what happens when you point yourself in a direction with intention and conviction. It’s not that things become easier or that you muscle through them, they just happen. Without having to “think” about options, the healthiest one is just naturally chosen.

I remember talking to a friend recently who was lamenting about his lack of time to do the things he really loved. Among those things were going to the gym, mountain biking, surfing and playing the guitar. He wants to start eating healthier and juicing. He’s been inside, working several jobs to provide for his family and get some financial traction.

He let go of all the things that support his true Self, that make him come alive.

He commented on some of the podcast heroes he listens to. “They’re working out at 4:30 AM. Everyday. Seven days a week. They have all this energy.” One does beget the other. Commitment + exercise + eating healthfully = Energy. And generally the equation stacks up exactly like that. Commitment must come first.

The commitment is not to the exercise and eating healthfully, it is to the result of doing that. Exercise and a good diet is just the stuff you do, not the goal itself. If the goal is to lose weight and get healthy that will only take you so far. It’s not a sustainable plan. There must be a bigger return on your investment. That would be the energy and attitude to accomplish, what? That’s up to each individual.

We all know these 4:30 AM people. We’re in awe of them and wish we could figure how they do it.  It’s not that they don’t have children or a crazy schedule or a ton of responsibility. It’s likely the contrary.   So what sets them apart from us? Their health and energy are non-negotiable. They won’t sleep in because they stayed up too late, The rarely have that extra round of drinks, if they imbibe at all. They’d rather their own stomach lining eat itself before going to a fast food restaurant, of any kind.

They’ve figured it out. It’s not a secret. It’s not even a mystery. It’s well-known and well documented. It’s a choice. They’ve made a conscious, cognizant choice to live their best life. Their enchanted life. Why would anyone settle for anything less? Why indeed.

I have been in optimal health before. I am pretty healthy now. But I let go of the early morning workouts if I don’t sleep well, putting them off until later, which usually translates to never – or at least not that day. Same goes for food. I’ll eat this little bit of chocolate but then I’ll stay on the treadmill an extra 15 minutes tomorrow. I’ve been working really hard, a glass of wine won’t hurt – or two. I’ll put off the project, the planning, the fill in the blank until I have a little more energy to focus.

I negotiate. I justify.

I am negotiating away my power. My valuable time. When I put things off I cannot enjoy the present moment. My energy is now divided between what I am doing – which is an important task like filing paperwork or vacuuming my car – and finishing the energetically heavy task that would allow me the freedom and time to do something creative.

When I do yoga everyday, go to the gym or for a nice long walk, and do yoga nidra, as I have been for 9 days now, I feel energized and alive. And this energy empowers me to make additional positive decisions for myself.  Do the hard thing first, watch less TV, spend more time on creativity, drink more water. It’s as if the flame has been turned up just enough to illuminate the other menu. The one I can’t see or comprehend when deep in sloth and debauchery.

Who is it I am negotiating with anyway? My ego? My evil twin? (I am a Gemini.) My inner sloth? If I am negotiating with a sloth and it wins that’s not saying a whole lot about my personal power. I mean, come on, have you seen a sloth move?

Like attracts like. If I am feeling good and energized and moving in a direction physically, spiritually, emotionally and professionally that looks at least interesting if not down right magical why would I do anything to jeopardize that? Right now I wouldn’t. And every day I say, right now I wouldn’t I reclaim a little bit more power.

I believe it takes a  while to get the non-negotiable rooted cellularly, but until it is I will do my best to place the sloth on the couch with some tasty leaves, put Madagascar on and go to my mat.

[Photo: While leaving a private yoga client’s home this morning I passed two horses in a nearby yard. One was asking me to come pet him while this guy was very involved in getting some sort of snack out of the tree. Side note: Horse represents power in the Native American culture.]