Yoga Lessons from Minneapolis

Yoga is tricky to pinpoint in one word because it is so all-encompassing. It is a teacher. A storyteller. A mirror. A tool for strengthening your body as well as what’s within. A catalyst for change. A source of laughter but also of tears. A provider of balance but also frustration.

If you had told me over two years ago when I started yoga that it would change my life, I would have looked at you rather ridiculously. I mean, yes there are physical benefits and maybe that’s why I started it, or perhaps because I was living in a new city and needed something to make sense of it all. I can’t remember precisely why, but I do know it has been a game-changer in the uncertainty of life. Because even when I fall away from it for longer than I wish, I always come back to it, and sometimes, in unexpected ways.

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When I was in Minneapolis this past weekend, I had the chance to visit not one, but two, of my friends from college. One was for a bachelorette party and the other was a chance to catch up. Both experiences were fantastic in their own way and I’m thankful for what both of these women bring to my life. Needless to say, one of my favorite things I did this past weekend was attend my first ever CorePower Yoga class. My friend, Katy, invited me to the candlelight class and I agreed that it sounded fun. She said it would be heated and I assured her I could handle it. Well, that was an understatement. I’m quite certain I was setting records with how much sweat was dripping off my body. Yeah, it sounds gross, but it also felt great. I left feeling incredibly grateful and with a renewed sense of direction.

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There is a time at the end of class where you are in Shavasana, also called Corpse Pose, in order to relax the body and mind. When I first began practicing, I would fall asleep more than I wanted to say. As I practiced more, it became a time for stillness. In that stillness is often where I find what I am looking for. My body has just gone through not only a physical but mental exercise and it is there, after setting the intention at the beginning for my practice, that I come to terms with what my body and soul already knew. It is not uncommon to be so overcome with a variety of feelings so strong that you start crying. It’s happened to me more than once. The following is a list of changes I’m going to be making moving forward.

What I Need Right Now:

More confidence. Less doubt.

More compassion. Less judgment.

More of what makes me feel good. Less of what doesn’t.

More belief in my dreams. Less second-guessing what I want.

More spending money on experiences that help me grow. Less money on what I don’t need or enjoy.

More being present. Less anxiety over the future.

More chasing what I feel called to do, even with the risk of failure. Less living in my comfort zone.

More writing. Less Facebooking.

More love. For self and for others. Always.

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Wishing you all a beautiful weekend and may you find what you need, wherever you’re at in this journey of life.

Owning Your Debt (Financially Free Friday)

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While I was treading water in the ocean that is student loan debt, I preferred the path of indifference. The debt soon became a part of my daily life and I had just assumed it would be with me somewhere between a very long time and forever. I had never felt that there was any other way and at times, the thought of tackling my debt would make me anxious or upset, on both an emotional and physical level.

img_20160617_160416377.jpgSo, when my friend Saraa and I discussed making a plan to get out of debt, I was a little more than hesitant at first. Sure, it was a nice idea but did I really want to sit down and take a look at those insanely high numbers that just seemed to be taunting me? That sounded like one of the more unpleasant ways to spend my evenings. However, I knew what my ultimate goal was and that’s what drove me to do this more than anything. I wanted to be debt free and take control of what I was doing with my money. So, I gathered all my necessary information and she came prepared with construction paper, markers, and even an adult coloring book for those stressful moments. I must admit, she was a thousand times more excited than I was. (She really digs the finance stuff.) But, I’m glad she was because even though it was sucky at some points, it was also fun. She really inspired and pushed me to tackle this sleeping monster in my life. (Thanks by the way. ♥)

After 2 – 3 grueling nights,  we had finally formed a concrete plan and it felt great. Well, to be honest, it didn’t feel so great initially. It felt more along the lines of the climb of one of those really high roller coasters, glancing at the view from the top, and then wondering what you were getting yourself into as you plummeted down the descent. Yeah, that sounds about right.

A few days after we had made my budget and plan to get out of debt, I had to make a call to one of my lenders for my student loan. They are my least favorite people to call….ever. It makes me sick and my stomach gets that sinking feeling whenever I even think about it. Anyway, I made the call, had a conversation about what I was trying to accomplish, and was basically told no. In that moment, it seemed as if this one conversation was setting the tone for how I felt about getting out of debt. I was scared and overwhelmed by what could only be deemed an impossible goal. Feeling defeated and weak, I started crying and texted my friend. Being the sweetheart she is, she immediately called me to talk me down. Yes, it wasn’t easy. Yes, it might be scary. But also, YES…YOU CAN DO THIS. Having somebody on my side cheering me on made all the difference that day.

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So, where is all of this going? Well, I needed to lay the groundwork for this story to unfold properly. If others are experiencing something similar, you need a starting point. That is the acceptance part. It isn’t placing blame or guilt on everything you’ve done. Naturally, you know what you did to get into the financial situation you are in. Maybe it was credit card debt, student loans like me, a gambling problem, or just bad luck. The point is, now you are no longer running from it. You aren’t keeping it hidden and feeling ashamed. You are stepping into the sun and saying, “This is me. This is where I’ve been. I am creating a better version of me but I might need some help getting there.” Just like with any sort of baggage, you gotta own it before you can grow. The people who love and care for you will stick around to help you unpack it. The rest of them? Well, sometimes you travel with fewer friends for parts of your journey but you’ll get there all the same.

Good luck friends! Wishing you all the best in your financial journeys as well. Looking forward to sharing more of my story and budgeting tips down the road.

 

Have a beautiful weekend!

 

How I Found Peace in Being Alone…While Dating

I have been dating for the past 3 years. I mean, actual dating, not that college/Ross & Rachel from Friends on-again and off-again thing. Since the summer of 2012, I have usually had a serious boyfriend, with the occasional downtime in between break-ups. This was usually a 4 or 5 month period of time where I would put myself together and then somehow end up dating again. Granted, counting my current relationship, I have had 3 relationships all lasting a year or more. I generally (thought I) knew when I was ready to get back into the dating game again, or in the last instance, move half-way across the country for somebody. (No it didn’t work out and no I don’t regret moving to Washington. More about that here—> When I Made Room for Love (Again)) Life always redirects us in some way or another.

So, when I started dating my wonderful boyfriend last September, I struggled with being alone. I am so thankful for this man that came into my life because he has been an incredible guiding soul throughout this journey. I was alone quite often because my roommate at the time left and moved in with her boyfriend. Much of it stemmed from the fact that I had lived with guys I had previously dated, as well as the fact that I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable being alone so much. I knew I would eventually have to come to terms with the fact that solitude wasn’t a punishment, despite the fact that in those moments of loneliness, my thoughts could get me into trouble. They would consume me to the point that I sometimes didn’t know what I had gotten so upset about in the first place.

I found, in time, that solitude could be filled with moments I enjoyed. I dedicated more time to yoga and eventually, to running too. I was reading more than I had before. I found time to spend with my friends. I started making plans for my career and my future, with goals of becoming more serious about my writing. Sure, I’m not precisely where I want to be in all categories but the point is, I made myself a priority. Because, who is going to want to make you a priority if you can’t even do that for yourself? Probably not anybody you want to date.

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So, I survived the loneliness I had so severely dreaded. In fact, I began finding comfort in it over time and made sure to let my friends know how important it was to have that time to myself. It was not easy to come to terms with how I used to appoach even the thought of being alone. None of us likes admitting our weaknesses or finding fault within ourselves. It’s a daunting task but also one that is required for growth and independence.

 

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
M. Scott Peck

Despite the fact that nothing turned out how I planned upon my move here, I am glad life took the twists and turns it did. For the heartbreak that caused me to seek my inner strength that was there all along. For my decision to step up and say that I deserve more. For every broken piece of me that pushed me down, only for me to find humility in rising again. I found that others can push us to take responsibility for our own happiness but it ultimately comes down to whether we choose to make forward progress or to remain stuck. Solitude doesn’t need to be correlated with being lonely, but rather, as an opportunity for renewal. It is in our lonelinest and darkest hours where we can ask ourselves the toughest questions, begin to make changes, and set ourselves on the path towards becoming our truest self.


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