An Intentional 2017

I love New Year’s. Really, I love any time that symbolizes a fresh start and new hope: births, new moons, the first day of school, weddings, and stepping onto the mat for a new yoga practice. The power of a New Year is that it is a time for collective reflection and intention setting. We’re all in this together.

Many people found 2016 to be cursed, the start of the end of the world even. For me on a personal level, though, it was a whirlwind and truly one of the best years of my life. I traveled internationally four times to teach yoga retreats, renovated and opened a new home for Karma Tribe Yoga, taught the biggest yoga class of my life thus far, welcomed a new baby nephew into the family, traveled multiple times to see family and friends, and made decisions and commitments that are already filling 2017 with potential and excitement.

To be honest, that big bang level of expansion comes at a cost. I’m an introvert, naturally a little disorganized, need time for quiet and digestion, and quietly manage long-term anxiety and depression. In 2016 I dealt with the stress not only with my pals yoga and meditation, but with more unhealthy coping mechanisms of eating and drinking. I gained about 10 pounds and started feeling unhealthy and awkward in my body and unsteady in my mind. I realize to some people, 10 pounds doesn’t seem like that much, but this isn’t about a number, but a feeling.

Being a little disorganized, I let the priority of eating healthy meals at regular times slip. I started eating whatever I could whenever there was time. Traveling made this difficult as well, having to shift from my right-for-me plant-based diet to vegetarian and then carrying that habit home. This made it pretty difficult to regulate my energy. I’d have days where I’m on top of the world, kicking ass, and days where I didn’t want to get out of bed.

I also fell into a habit that I now recognize as unhealthy with drinking alcohol. It became normal to come home several nights a week, watch tv, and have 1-3 drinks while eating something like greasy pizza to relax and prepare for bed or would overdo the drinking with friends socially at times. I realize I shared this habit with many people and that it doesn’t make me a lush or alcoholic. But I started to question why I felt the need to do this. One day, as I was meditating, I asked my higher-self why I drink. The answer was clear: I drink to numb my sensitivity. I didn’t like that answer, but it felt right.

A few years ago, in distress, I found a savior of a book, The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron. Through reading it, I learned I am an empath and an HSP (highly sensitive person). I feel other people’s emotions very strongly and at times, mixed with my own emotions, it is quite overwhelming. Through reading this and with self-reflection, I came to realize that being HSP isn’t a curse, but a gift, and that I could harness it into my life’s work. Now it’s time to be brave enough to fully embrace my sensitivity and to truly FEEL.

Like I said before, 2017 is another BIG YEAR full of excitement and potential. I’ll be continuing to grow Karma Tribe Yoga, planning and teaching Pop-Up Yoga KC events, teaching corporate classes and privates, will be traveling around the world to complete my advanced teacher training with Frog Lotus Yoga, leading a yoga retreat in Greece, planning my own teacher training for Karma Tribe Yoga in 2018, and more big, exciting projects I’m not even allowed to talk about yet! On top of that, my wonderful, supportive, amazing husband is soon to open his very own restaurant in KC’s River Market, KC Taco Company! Did I mention it was going to be a BIG YEAR?

A big year, needs solid, clear intentions. My main word is DISCIPLINE and this is how I’ll express it:

1. Get organized!

I began this portion of my intention last year starting with Abbi Miller’s Productivity 101 workshop. That gem of a lady provided strategies on how to manage time (especially for the self-employed) in order to reach clear goals. I implemented her strategies and it’s helped lower stress and anxiety tremendously. I’m also all about planning healthy meals in advance so I don’t have to worry about food and can keep my energy levels stable. Furthermore, I started clearing away clutter in the house and plan on continuing that this year. I just watched the documentary Minimalism on Netflix, and feel re-energized to purge.

2. Tee-Totaling! (Or Tea-Totaling 🙂 )

I’ve decided to give up alcohol for 1 year. I’ll be replacing it with mass quantities of tea. I realized my tendency to want to numb out when feeling overwhelmed with my busy life, and know in my heart that if I let myself truly FEEL, I can be more powerful, more heart-centered, and more rooted than I’ve ever been before. I feel confident that I can still be social and still find loads of FUN without a numbing substance. In one year, I’ll re-examine.

3. Svadhyaya (Self-Study)

This year, I will be reading mass quantities of books! I intend to deepen my practice and teaching and already have a pile of about 10 books to tackle on subjects of mindfulness, yoga history, philosophy, and business. I also intend to take MORE time for my yoga and meditation practice. Have recommendations? Send them over!

4. Steady Pacing

I started running last year and found that when I stopped caring about how fast I was going, and slowed my pace, I was able to run much longer without stopping. Through organization, clarity, and svadhyaya, I intend to approach my life from this same slower and steadier paced idea. Last year, I was the hare. This year, a tortoise. I intend to be a little gentler with myself in an effort to be more disciplined on a daily basis. It seems like an oxymoron, but before, I’d hit it so hard that I’d reach a point of exhaustion. This year, I intend to be in more of a flow with my true energy and I believe sobriety will help with that.

Don’t forget, we’re all in this together! What are your intentions for 2017? And how will you achieve them? Comment below!

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How to be GUTSY!

I remember a late February night. It was one of those moments fraught with restlessness and anxiety. Sleep wouldn’t come and every awful imaginary future scenario played through my head. After trying and failing to catch even a little rest, I got out of bed and booted up my computer.

At the time, I was working at a job I absolutely loathed. Money was scarce and I couldn’t figure a way out. I had much to be grateful for in my life: love from my family and partner, a roof over my head, and potential to make a change. But the feeling of being directionless was shifting from an existential crisis to full blown depression. One saving grace at this time was my daily yoga practice. It was the glue holding my life together.

Two things I always wanted to do but didn’t, were travel and become a yoga teacher. In my mind, both seemed so out of reach. In my misspent youth, I worked low paying jobs and mismanaged the money I did have. I also suffered from anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. I failed and flailed over and over. The life of traveling and service through self-realization not only seemed out of reach, but suited for someone more worthy. I had a mindset of fear, scarcity, and lack.

So this restless February night, I booted up my computer and without even thinking about it, started searching for yoga teacher trainings. I happened upon an intensive training retreat in Costa Rica and something inside me lit up. It was seven months away, I’d never heard of the company or teacher, I had no savings, didn’t have a passport, and had never been out of the country. But in my heart and gut was a clear “YES”.  I took a deep breath, got out my wallet, registered, and put down a deposit that very night. Sleep still didn’t come, but I had shifted from anxiety to excitement. I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off, but in that moment, I felt more proud than scared. I moved from powerless to EMPOWERED.

That was one of the first moments of my adult life that I leaned into being GUTSY. I untethered myself from the fear of failing and truly listened to my heart, intuition, and deepest yearnings of my soul. It wasn’t easy, but from what I’ve found, most things worth doing sure as hell aren’t easy.

Since then, my life has been a series of gutsy moves and hard work. I am forever transformed. That initial traveling experience split me right open and I yearned for more. In my heart, I knew that being a world traveler and helping many, many people realize their own worth and potential through yoga was written upon my soul. And I’m doing it. I’m really doing it. AND YOU CAN TOO.

Whether it’s traveling, starting a new business, leaving a relationship, kicking an addiction, or having a baby, you can lean into being gutsy!

5 steps to becoming GUTSY:

1. Make Space.

It is so easy to get caught up in chitta vriti or the constant thoughts, memories, and images that can plague and overtake our minds. Mindfulness practices such as yoga, meditation, spending time in nature, and even turning off the damn smart phone for a little while, help to clear mental space. Without the mental turbulence, you are better able to decipher your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

2. Listen and Feel.

Now that your mind is clearer, you can ask yourself, “What is truly right for me?” Listen and feel for the butterflies in your stomach and the flutter of your heart. The clear “yes” that isn’t clouded by limiting thoughts and beliefs. That is your soul, your higher-self revealing to you your dharma, your purpose.

3. Go for it!

It’s easy to put yourself in a box. “I could never do that.” YES YOU CAN. It’s like jumping off the high dive for the first time. You may have that initial moment of “oh shit” but then you freaking JUMP LIKE A BOSS! It’s scary, and thrilling, and that act alone kicks off the momentum you need to succeed.

4. Make a plan.

So this thing you’ve decided to do isn’t going to manifest itself! Take action and make a plan. Design your life from a place of mindfulness, of that clear yes, and with the belief that you have what it takes to pull it off. When you feel that familiar fear or limiting belief intruding, acknowledge it and then reject it. That no longer serves you and your mission.

5. Get Support.

You know what keeps you gutsy? Accountability. Share your plan with your most supportive loved ones and they will help lift you up every time the fear creeps back in. Everyone needs and deserves cheerleaders in their life and they will help lift you up to the next level. This “you” free of fear and limiting beliefs? That’s the “you” they’ve always known and loved.

It’s time. If not now, when? Seize the opportunity because you deserve it and you can. Being gutsy not only changes your life, but it changes the world! The world needs your passion, purpose, and potential. The world needs game changers and people willing to go outside their comfort zones. The world needs your limitless light that becomes more and more visible the closer you get to your purpose. What are you waiting for?

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