Inversions & Saying No

I’ve finally come to see that being the yes girl is exhausting. In retrospect, it was a nice idea but no human being on this planet can 100% commit to everything all the time. This sounds like a life lesson I should have learned awhile ago right? Turns out my people pleasing and perfectionist tendencies can get the best of me now and again. (Cue 10+ years of work in the hospitality/service industry.) Learning to say no and being OK with that had not ever existed in my thoughts.

Post-breakup and the loss of my mom, I thought that reaching out might be good for me. So when I started down this path of volunteering a  couple of years ago, I started small.  Mentoring once a week, helping out at my church, etc. I was still so damaged but as I began to heal over time, I found myself wanting to become immersed deeper within my community. I was yearning to step outside of that which was familiar to me and in turn, my experiences began to change. I took on larger roles and extended time commitments. I found that a life of service and the people that come with that was right were I belonged.

As far as I was concerned, I had the perfect balance for awhile. Eventually I fell into another relationship, was working part-time as a server and all felt right. Good things don’t always last sometimes and each one of those previous components eventually ended. Break-up, job change(s) and instead of feeling harmonious, I felt overwhelmed. One week after my break-up, I ended up moving for my second job. Every small piece of the aftermath that landed on me felt heavy. I felt myself being pulled in 1,000 different directions as I piled on more and more commitments. My patience and kindness towards people I love was wearing thin. This was not the woman I knew myself to be. When you aren’t sure which way is up, it can help to flip the situation upside down. And where do I find that space? Yoga of course.

Way back in the day:

 

When I need to feel grounded (and just feel the ground!) and steady, yoga is my jam. In this time of reflection and serious personal growth, I suddenly realized that when we say no to one situation, we end up eventually saying yes to another. I didn’t have to be the yes girl. I didn’t need to check all the boxes and be a super volunteer. I had commitments to fantastic organizations but when they asked more of me, I was not required to say yes. And the real kicker? I didn’t have to feel bad. Occasionally in our shortcomings, we fail to see that that which we are already giving has incredible value. It can feel it is not enough and society has us programmed to lead a life of more, more, more. No thanks. If we are stretched too thin, it doesn’t matter how much you commit or what good you are doing because the burnout will damage not only yourself but potentially seep into those you are trying to help.

In yoga, when you do an inversion such as a headstand, you need a solid base. Your core should be strong in order to lift your legs by solely relying on that power within. When I first attempted headstands before learning the right way, I basically thought you just kicked your legs up while simultaneously sending up some prayers, in the hopes it would work. Turns out that wasn’t correct. The more I taught myself about yoga and the more I committed to studio time, I learned that headstands done incorrectly over time have the potential to cause injury. Our bodies know when we are trying to over-commit and do more than we are prepared for. The lasting effects can be damaging.

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And now!

You can be super girl (or boy!) and find balance through the process. Don’t commit unless your base is strong and your core is firing on all cylinders. You are worth more to fewer people at 100% than you are to many while you’re burned out. Focus on that which is most important and put your energy there. Everything else will fall into place over time. Sometimes it helps if you look at it upside down.

Coffee & Community

My allergies have set in this week, depleting my energy levels and all-around making me feel like garbage. This was not the post I originally intended to write but now and then we have to adjust to that which we’re capable of in that moment. Hoping the fogginess of this congestion will lift soon because I am missing feeling healthy.

I lead a community group through my church. When I saw the lack of the very niche I was seeking (post-college, no kids), I felt compelled to start one. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have never seen myself as much of the leading type. But, when we stretch and spread our wings a bit during our growth process, doors that were once locked now become open. The experiences and situations within my own life were shaping me to step into roles that I had initially never envisioned fulfilling. How beautiful that we are given precisely what we need.

What does this group look like? Our skills, talents and backgrounds are varying but our desire for community is the same. From students, to those in science, hospitality and non-profit work. Twice a month, we gather for coffee and discussion. Though I’ll admit, we didn’t always look this way and have only found our footing in the past month. Our little group was challenged with scheduling conflicts and a brand new leader (Me!) who was still learning the best way to navigate this course. But, I’m thrilled to have found a formula that works for us.

This week, I am feeling grateful for these women and the opportunities that we have to10334253_10152224498548763_6726641651941934601_n learn from one another. That we can challenge each other in our faith, continuing to stretch more and more. It isn’t about the coffee (though delicious!), the equally amazing baked goods or making sure we answer all the questions. It’s the stories we share, the way we become vulnerable in those 90 minutes together, catching each other when necessary. It is the simple fact of devoting our Saturday mornings to this when we could be sleeping. Once upon a time, when I first started this group a couple months back, I thought of giving up. I was incredibly discouraged, leading me to feel stuck and unworthy of leading. I am so glad I listened to those around me and didn’t quit. (Back to that whole reaching out thing again yeah? ——>Yoga Practice & Lessons in Grace)

If there is one thing I have learned in this life at all, it is this: We are led to that which our life story has prepared us for. It might not look how you thought it would and the characters could be completely different than when you first began. I know the uncertainty is frightening and the fear of failure feels heavy. But man oh man when you launch and fly! That makes it all worth it to me. I am blessed by that which I have already received from these incredible women in the short time I’ve known them. I couldn’t help but think that we are roasting our beans of faith and character, preparing to make them into delicious cups to pour into others down the road.

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Cafe Bombon in Spain. Oh how I miss you!

 

Flowers & Filling Up

“You are spending so much time pouring into others. Make sure you take the time to fill yourself up too.”

That’s what my mentor said to me when we got together this week. She really is the10273912_10152199094073763_5981953878757103830_n sweetest soul. Always watching out for me, checking in on me and asking if there is anything she can do. A month after my break-up, I reached out to my church community. I needed a guide. Somebody who would look at me with zero judgement, remind me of my worth and speak positivity when all I saw in the mirror was the complete opposite. If you think that is unnecessary then I’m sorry but you are wrong. You can’t do it alone. Not your struggles, not this life. We weren’t meant to. Say it with me: You NEED those people for this specific purpose. We need to be lifted, not to feed our ego but rather, to nourish our soul. In the past couple of years, I have realized the difficulty and pain that comes with living far away from family. I love my life and the roots I have placed in Washington but I knew my habits and old self were trying to kick down the door of the woman who now stood in her place. And maybe, a stranger who becomes a friend can be that person. Unlike family, they don’t know your garbage and baggage. You know nothing of them and what the burdens they carried. Both are entering this relationship with zero biases. They are simply saying, “Place your hand in mine. Take a walk with me. Let’s take a look at the bigger picture and work out the smaller details as we go.”

13086824_10153661362928763_3805220378019328500_oThat’s how I found my mentor. While I have been a mentor myself for two years and the idea of having somebody to take on that role in my own life sounded just peachy, I had no idea of the imprint she’d place on my heart. The love and care she would speak into my life. This was exactly what I needed. In all the moments that I had been there, to listen, to just be and to have a hand when they needed someone to hold theirs, I was now reaching my own hand out, grasping for a brand new connection.

Her words stuck with me that day. I’ve often heard and have been hearing this reoccurring theme lately. If I don’t take the time to re-energize and recharge then how is what I pour into others of any value? It isn’t. Just like the flowers that soak up the springtime rains, we need our own nourishment to grow. We need rain in the form of rest. In the beauty of nature. In the laughter with our friends. In the quiet moments of reading a good book. In dancing with a stranger in Mallorca. (Check!) In enjoying this very life that we are so blessed to live out each day. Did I really need to pencil those things in? Schedule time just to ensure that I’m actually….living?

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What an eye-opener friends. If we truly listen to what the world is telling us, we are often met with the people and situations we need in those moments. My mom was one of the hardest working women I know. She sacrificed each day so my sister and I were provided for. Only when her body was breaking down, when she knew there wasn’t much time left and there was one place she wanted to be more than anything, did she get to go. My parents picked up and moved to Alabama. Where she could sip coffee on her porch and take everything in during those Southern mornings. I walk with that reminder and I will never stop feeling enveloped in that love she gave me. I will always wish she could have enjoyed Alabama for longer than she was able but the fact she was able to go at all is still a miracle.

Pushing the accelerator to the floor might feel like I’ll get there faster but I am going to be so wore out by the time I arrive. Let’s not even talk about my flowers, which will have zero chance of thriving in such a stressful state. The giving, serving, goal-achieving and box-checking look nice and feel even better when that dopamine is released, telling our brain how great this is! And, that is awesome. Our brains and bodies are super smart that way. I want you to reach your goals. I implore you to live a life in service to others. But, don’t forget to water your flowers ok?

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Even flower dresses. Happy spring y’all!

Dreampods & Cultivating Gifts

Friends, I’m working on having a consistent weekly day/time for when new posts are released! Every Sunday at 8 am! (Pacific time) Perfect for you to read over your morning coffee (or brunch for you Midwesterners/Easterners). 🙂

This week I partook in something quite like anything else. An experience I will try to describe and one in which I would encourage anyone to look in to if they have even the slightest interest. I went “floating” and would gladly do it again. What exactly is “floating” you may ask…..

Float Spokane lists the opening line on their website as:

IMAGINE A WAY TO MELT AWAY THE STRESSES WE ALL FACE IN OUR DAILY LIVES. SOMEWHERE THAT ALLOWS YOU PEACE AND TRANQUILITY IN AN ULTRA SAFE ENVIRONMENT. A PLACE WHERE IT’S JUST YOU AND YOUR HEARTBEAT, THE SOUND OF YOUR OWN BREATH, AND THE QUIETNESS YOUR SOUL YEARNS FOR…

Super descriptive right?! While it does sound rather meditative (or perhaps like an intro for a retirement community) in the singing bowls, chakra-what sort of way, I can assure you that it lives up to its promise. (Disclaimer: We are all at varying places in our life journey. We all respond to our environments differently. While I soak up the thought of being in stillness whether through yoga/meditation/etc., I realize that is not the case for everyone. This is simply based on what I took away from my float.)

A further description on the website lists “floating” as:

During a float session, you are suspended in a high density solution of magnesium sulfates (epsom salts) and 225 gallons of 93 degree skin temperature water. The idea behind floating is to deprive the user of all external stimuli and allow the body and mind to go about finding areas that it needs to naturally heal. All of this takes place in our top of the line Dreampod floatation tanks, one of the most luxurious pods on the market. Entering the Dreampod transports the user into a new world of calm and tranquility where stresses and pains seem to just disappear. Backed by 30 years of research, floatation therapy is a natural tune up for the mind and body.

If you had previously asked me to do this in my lifetime, I would not have been sure how to answer that. However, I had received a gift certificate for my birthday and didn’t want to let it go to waste. I had heard some stories from friends and what I read online but also knew I wouldn’t truly understand if I didn’t at least try it out. So, I booked my appointment, prepared myself best I could and was on my way to float!

I arrived at the location and it had a very spa-like feeling upon entering. They had me watch a brief video about what the experience would be like and then I was on my way. Initially, upon entering the pod, it felt considerably akin to a large bath. I settled in and did my best to enjoy this. I chose to completely shut my pod door and turn off the inside light for the full effect. As I became accustomed to what was happening around me, my brain slowly began to turn off its chatter and I was enveloped in stillness, along with extreme peacefulness. How I felt throughout my float would morph during what I could describe as different phases. I was able to sink in to more of a meditative state after about 20 minutes in and found myself finding answers to questions I’d tucked away.

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My Dreampod

 

One such question was whether I was truly cultivating that which has been given to me in this life. Call it God, the Universe, that little voice inside, or your subconscious. I am not certified to answer what exactly. All that I had been wondering and questioning within myself had suddenly been brought to light and while I didn’t always like what was being addressed, it was much needed. When asked if I was doing everything in my power to bring my gifts to the world I was met with a resounding, “No.” So simple, so concise, so quiet and yet it spoke so loudly. I thought I would be angrier with this revelation but I wasn’t.

In my acceptance, I simply reflected during this one peaceful hour of time I had allotted to myself. We enter this “Dreampod” of life and it is already filled for us. With our talents, gifts, unique perspective and all the magic of our souls we will sprinkle on to the world during our stay here. Our goal though, is to uncover it. How can we find, strengthen and grow that which we are given? You want to learn a new hobby. You’d like to implement change in your community. Maybe you’re thinking about going back to school. Or perhaps, feeding that creative, inspiring soul of yours.

Your pod has a little light and the temperature starts out just right. We are filled to the brim with uncertainty when we step in. What if I DON’T actually float? What if I sink? What if I’m uncomfortable? All of those add up, making this floating idea seem pretty dang frightening. I have been semi-comfortable lately. Complacent in my current situation but knowing I need more depth. I recently made a decision to bring life goals to the forefront but I will 100% admit that my blog goals and writing took a backseat to all else. And while I believe in giving ourselves grace, I can also admit when Procrasto Girl (my alter ego) is making more appearances than usual.

 

13064489_10153649131893763_8137156684240159683_oI found that which fuels me….writing. To let that fizzle out with the constant….”I’ll do it tomorrows” would be doing myself a great disservice. I didn’t arrive here with answers but I am prepared to keep pushing and digging deep, to uncover those talents and keep polishing them. Perfecting them for an imperfect world. It isn’t easy and it isn’t meant to be. The very first time I published a blog post out in to the internet world for all to see was extremely terrifying. But, I received so much love from friends, family, and others I didn’t even know. An open heart and a love of written words. Those were two pieces that made me Heather. I was only just beginning to see how far they would take me at the time. Looking ahead, I see that there is only infinite room for me to hone those skills. May you all have the chance to do the same while we’re here.

Shine on friends.

 

 

 

Yoga Practice & Lessons in Grace

If you have glanced through my blog at all, you’ve probably noticed yoga plays a large part in my life. If not, well now ya know. I started attending a hot yoga studio (And also can I get an amen for those of us who can’t dish out $1,200 a year to be able to attend unlimited monthly sessions? Props if you can but this girl is on a budget. One day perhaps but until then I’ll buy my class pass when I can afford it and attend twice a week.) here in Spokane back in December and I’ve found that when paired with my home practice, it all starts to click. In a home practice, we can only go so far when we don’t have somebody to guide us in our form when going through the poses. And the same with a home practice. If we are not disciplining ourselves and bringing those concepts we’ve learned to our mat at home, then we fail to grow.

Lately, I’ve seen the parallels between my yoga practice and personal life. As you may have read previously, my relationship of over a year ended about two months ago. In the past, I would move towards unhealthy habits and decisions in order to deal with the pain. But now, I am finally able to see how far this rollercoaster of life has brought me. Every past heartbreak and pain. Every iota of hurt and self-doubt has pushed me to question, seek and discover that which has been inside me all along. I am worth more than I ever dreamed. I am stronger now than I’ve ever been.

But, the truth is, I did falter. I briefly yearned for and sought those whom have hurt me in the past. And then, a little voice inside of me said….”No.” The woman who triumphed in that period of darkness. Who lit the match on the house and almost walked away to watch it all burn, she was roaring. Because, she didn’t walk away when she wanted to the most. She fought and she thrashed and she gave it more than her all. Though the house had some damage, she was ready to rebuild. That is precisely what she did. Two years ago last month I lost my mom to cancer. At that very same time, I was badly burned by my first and most turbulent love. So yes, that woman inside me does not back down without a fight. Not without the struggle of reminding me of the goodness I deserve and how I am incredibly loved.

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My financial guru but even more so, friend

Similar to my yoga practice, I knew I was close to where I wanted to be but my form was not quite correct. I needed a push. I needed to ask for help. You know when you mess up and you really don’t want to tell anybody because the fear of disappointment feels so heavy? That was how I felt when I reached out to my friends. To my church. To the only people I knew could truly guide me in this time. But, I did it anyways. I walked in, head bowed, ready to battle for my heart, soul and self-worth. And the greatest gifts they gave me? When I was fully prepared to apologize and to bow my head in shame, the only feelings they offered up…..were those of love and grace. Two of the most powerful, life-changing words in human existence, if you ask me.

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It wasn’t necessary for me to carry all of this alone, not when so many others were willing to jump in. Who were ready to take some of the burden, to help me cut out the negativity and growth-hindering parts, and who were willing to love on me. Right now, I can see I have a rock solid foundation. I can look back and realize that stumbling doesn’t mean I have not grown, but rather that we sometimes need re-directing on our path. A little light or a friend to walk with us for awhile. Strength can lie in recognizing we are lost, asking for help, and taking corrective action to do better next time. Life is made up of small steps and occasionally, big leaps. It can happen all at once or day by day. Our growth is not measured by whether or not we falter but how we react after the fall. Will you stand back up, armor in hand, roaring and willing to battle for YOU?

I don’t know where you’re walking or how that looks. Where life has brought you or the obstacles that have been placed during your walk. What I can tell though is without a doubt the truth. It is true as of yesterday, today and tomorrow. You are worthy of two, beautiful gifts…..grace and love.

Happy Sunday friends. Make it a beautiful one.