Getting to the Roots

If you keep planting the same seeds you’ve always planted you will keep getting the same crops. If you don’t like the crops you’re eating then you must uproot them and plant new seeds. 
— Kelly Gonzalez

Last month I went into the dentist for a cleaning. Not just any cleaning- a scaling. They numb your gums and scrape under the gum line to remove bacteria. Even being numb, it was still painful at points throughout the procedure, but the greatest pain was not physical- it was emotional and deeply rooted. 

As the hygienist scaled under the gum line and touched the roots of my teeth a flood of memories rushed in. All the negative things I have said to myself in my mind or under my breath over the years came knocking on the door of my subconscious. Tears filled my eyes. 

"Are you doing okay?" the hygienist asked.

With teary red eyes and my mouth wide open I nodded head yes, because even though the memories of berating myself for not being good enough, pretty enough, strong enough, successful enough, rich enough, or happy enough walked across the stage of my mind one by one I knew I was going through the process of transformation and soon enough I would walk into the light on the other side of the pain. 

Life is meant to be enjoyed not scrutinized.

I realized that I spent so many years disliking parts of myself and being so hard on myself that it left no space for me to see the great things about myself or acknowledge my own hard work and successes. So badly, the girl I cried for, the girl who was verbally abused by her own mind wanted to go back and actually enjoy those experiences, but the moment was gone like a bubble that burst. I realized that I would never get those moments back, but I knew I could start LIVING and ENJOYING my life NOW.

Awareness is the first step.

You can't change unless you are aware that there needs to be a change. Sometimes it takes a fine metal blade prodding against your gums to become aware, but you get the message. What needs to come through will always come through, whether you receive it graciously and use it to heal and move forward is another matter. 

Your Participation is Necessary. 

Once you know better you must do better. To be aware but not do anything about it is ignorance. Ignorance will keep you stuck in the same self-defeating patterns that you are trying to escape from. You must take radical action. 

In the dentist chair I made a commitment to be hyper aware of my self talk and toss out any language that has gone sour. Going deeper into the matter I realized that all of my troubles were the result of not feeling good enough. I could not move forward in fitness, business, or relationships until I started to love myself more fully and that required me to speak nicely to myself. 

It takes PRACTICE

I find that the enthusiasm for positive change comes and goes. I will sometimes look in the mirror and get down on myself, but when I notice myself slipping I have to hold onto what is good. I imagine it like falling down a steep hill, but there are strong roots in the hillside saying "look! I'm here to help. Just hold on and climb back up!"

 I immediately replace the negative thought with a positive one and then act on the positive. I have learned that any action that comes from fear, hate, or inadequacy will eventually lead to unhappiness. So I am constantly looking for the good and vow to move forward from there. 

Free Writing Practice in Your Daily Tracker

How do you speak to yourself? Is your mental voice a cheerleader or a drill sergeant? How can you speak to yourself in a way that will help move you in the direction of your most heart felt goals?  If you only spoke with the utmost authenticity what would you really say to yourself, someone else, or the world? 

Set a timer for 10 minutes and keep pen to paper- no thinking, just let it flow. 

 

 

 

 

Winning the Creative Battle

I awoke at 1:08AM this morning.

I have my first newsletter, my first newsletter in a really long time scheduled to enter people's email boxes at 7AM. It's 3:30AM as I write this. I edited the email campaign a dozen times. I want to say no, it's not good enough- wait to send it out, but that would be giving into the fear and the paralysis. 

Expression is not always easy for me. As a kid I had a terrible speech impediment. No one could understand me because I would get so excited and have so much to share I would talk incredibly fast. I would get frustrated when I wasn't understood so I would go off and work with the energy that was flowing through me on my own and figure out some way to release it. 

A book that helped me move towards more authentic expression and unleashing my creativity was "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. It made me realize that the anxiety I felt around creating something new whether it's putting out a newsletter, writing an article, or even gifting myself the time to journal is not uncommon, and more so...it may even be a great thing.  

Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles

The key to winning the creative battle is simply to keep practicing. Pressfield discusses his process of invoking the muse before beginning each day. This is a ritual I have adopted as I often pray before writing and ask that my message ring true for whomever needs it. I also pray to show myself compassion and not be such a relentless critic or doubter. 

I believe we are all conduits of energy. Creative ideas flow through us. I am careful not to attach myself to them; knowing they are all fleeting, and nothing- no idea, no thing, no ability is ME for I AM the I AM I pray to. The creative force of the universe resides in me- within all of us and everything. 

I have always considered myself to be a writer. I began writing at an early age mainly because I love to learn and writing helps me bring my thoughts together. It's like playing with ideas on paper. I would simply write about what I love and what was fascinating to me.  

I started sharing my wellness writings in college. When I was torn between continuing being pre-med at Johns Hopkins University and following my heart in health promotion (I wanted to prevent people from getting sick rather than trying to help them once it happened) my advisor encouraged me to start a health and fitness column in the school paper. 

My peers would approach me on campus and tell me that because of my writing they were now drinking less on weekends and making better choices in the dining hall. My heart grew so full of joy to know that what I loved learning and sharing was actually of benefit to others. 

I continued to write for newspapers after graduating. Geez, I was so bold! I would call up or walk into the office and pitch my fitness column without any hesitation. It was so in the flow. I would have my parents take the exercise photos of me for the articles. I didn't care about things being so perfect. I didn't fear competition. I only knew and trusted the creative impulse that was flowing through me. 

I guess I lost some of that when I went on my own and moved to Los Angeles. I didn't have the support of my family and community and I have never been one to take rejection well. I have faced a lot of rejection out here. Rejection burns. Those burns can keep you from moving forward. But, we must keep moving. There is an infinite amount of support available to you at all times. You just step into the field. The universe really does have your back. But, you have to believe in the power and want to work with the power as much as the power wants to work with you. 

On a recent quest (my long solo road trips seeking guidance from the universe) I listened to BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert on Audible. This really stuck out to me. 

Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
— Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

I have decided to call my new email newsletter The Heart of Practice as I am practicing living from my heart and sharing it with others. I am learning that creativity and I do not have to go to war. I don't have to light projects on fire in the construction phase and run away to escape the smoke. We can work together. Free flow of energy- I'm open to you. 

 

A Quest for Stability

I value all of the seasons, but Summer holds a special place in my heart. Perhaps it is the memory of the years I spent as an ocean lifeguard in Fenwick Island, Delaware where my days consisted of morning workouts on the beach with my friends, being completely present for hours guarding the water, and happy hour get togethers with my squad after work. Summer is warm, welcoming, vibrant, and full of social interaction.  

This past Summer I spent the majority of my time in Encinitas, California, a quintessential surf town in northern San Diego county. For years Encinitas has been my happy place. I discovered it when I was driving home from visiting an online client who lived in La Jolla. We met once per month in person since it wasn't a far drive. Instead of sitting in traffic on my way back to LA I pulled over and decided to go for a beach run. I felt charged with so much joy seeing the bluffs, the fiery sun, and rising moon.

For me, Encinitas feels like eternal summer. The weather is always pleasant, the people are very nice, there's always surf, and most importantly, I feel the most free there. Free to create and free to be myself. It's like I remember who I am when I'm there.

I don't want to hate on LA, but it's been nearly 7 years here and it's been tough. I mean really tough. So tough that I've spent who knows how many thousands of dollars on herbal remedies, doctor bills, self-help workshops and counseling. Looking back I don't know if there was ever anything really wrong besides feeling not good enough, watching hopeful projects come and go and feeling like a failure, and feeling lonely- so terribly lonely. 

It's amazing how a city with 4 million people living in it can feel so isolated. An acquaintance once referred to Los Angeles as the city of Lost Angels. It's like we all came here searching for something. That something is disguised as fame, success, riches, a partner, but that something is really just our true Self. 

There are many places to seek out spirituality in Los Angeles, but in my opinion it all feels commercialized. I have met great clients here. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have received for work. It supports my soul searching and helps me try to dig myself out a hole of loneliness by learning. 

At 25 I came out here so bright eyed and optimistic. My first job was being a fitness expert for a virtual training website. I was an IFBB Bikini Pro, and knew my shit. I wrote the content, built the programs, and supplied the mathematical formulas to the tech team for the online calculators. I walked the talk as they say. 

I took great pride in that job. I thought I knew myself by seeing myself through the lens of a fitness expert and pro physique competitor; perhaps that's why it was stripped away. 

Like a hermit crab looks for a new shell I found a new identity as a fitness writer. I took on a job as a fitness editor, but within less than 6 months the company lost funding and that was the end of that. On to the next one...

I received a call from a major fitness production company within 2 weeks of being laid off. I got the job after the first meeting when I was able to put some scientific rationale to a heart training program and come up with a creative name for a burpee variation. I signed a contract as a independent contractor for a good amount of money. It was thrilling at the time; mostly because I had a title again. 

I spit myself out of that job though. My body started breaking down and giving me signals to get out. My back hurt from driving in LA traffic, childhood trauma was triggered from the stress I felt and the perfectionism I chased. A deep feeling of inadequacy haunted me daily. 

Instead of being honest and quitting, I told the director I was going to Bali and needed to travel. The problem was I didn't have the funds to do it. I knew I needed to make my own program, run my own business without counting on other jobs to always support me, because I was too scared to put the work in myself and make it happen. Too afraid of failing. 

Just as I was starting to put together my escape plan I was approached by an executive producer to create my own travel fitness show. This was my dream come true. My own show! My own creation! 

I put my heart into creating 12 episodes. I signed a BIG contract for a lot of money. I felt ALIVE again. I felt resurrected. 

But, then it didn't happen. Just as quickly as I had become inflated and high on life I deflated, spun downwards, and hit the ground hard. So hard, I shattered into a million pieces. 

I cried on my bedroom floor for weeks. I was financially broken and most definitely spiritually broken. I felt betrayed by God, the Universe, and myself. 

It's taken years to try to put myself back together again. 

Nature has been my greatest healer. She has helped me remember my childlike wonder, how to play, and time and time again she has showed me my strength and grace.  

It has taken me a long time be able to stand on my own two feet and offer something from my heart. That's exactly what this program I am building out- Elemental Conditioning is. It's the story of self reliance. It's my revival. It's the way I discovered to love myself more deeply no matter how badly my ego wants to berate me. It is all the things I have learned from the moment I shattered and how I am still, everyday, putting myself back together again.

It's an honor and a privilege to share it with the world even if it's not perfect, even if some may not like it, even if I struggle with the creative process I choose not to run away.

I have tried to stay in LA to prove to myself I am not running away, but the real stability is not about my physical location- why keep walking around a bloody battleground just to be able to prove I can carry myself upright?

The stability I seek is within- it's not running from the pain. It's taking the pain and being an alchemist; turning lead to gold. 

For the past month I have walked many miles to be able to see this clearly. I have walked to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite just to FEEL a stable surface beneath my feet, and when I reached the top I flipped my perspective to be able to see it was never about the physical in the first place.

I can run from place to place. I can create stability in my spine, routines, and practices, but if I never face myself and the past hurt I will never have a strong and stable foundation within. 

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My Wish

My wish is that I had all the answers. 

My wish is that I could magically do any feat I dreamt of with ease. 

My wish is I felt steady, grounded, stable, yet creative, free, and spontaneous all at the same time. 

My wish is that I knew where this path is leading me.

But, if these wishes came true I wonder what I would work towards? 

I wonder how I would spend my time?

I wonder if I would miss the curiosity and the surprises?

I wonder if I would miss the journey because the journey is all I know. 

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Vulnerability

For the past two months I have been standing in front of my peers with a slideshow behind me, clicker in hand, and a mouthful to say about mobility & movement and healthy eating. 

Last week we changed gears and started a 4-week journey into mindfulness and mind training. Leading up to the first seminar I was panged with anxiety.

How could I most authentically convey the importance of meditation and mindfulness? 

Reflecting back on my own journey, I remembered that I didn't start meditating one day because I thought, "oh yes, this is a good for me, let me do this everyday." 

No, it was more like, "I don't have a choice but to do this." 

Doubt filled my mind. 

"Who am I to talk about meditation? I'm no renowned spiritual teacher."

"Who am I to layout steps towards happiness and contentment?"

"Am I even happy?" 

I've walked for miles up and down mountains, driven for hours solo along the coast, camped in nature for days to reconnect with the force of Source, traveled to India to learn meditation, spent countless hours in the yoga studio and gym, spent thousands of dollars on coaching and workshops, have a well-established library of self-help books, have filled journals cover to cover, sat in silence at a meditation retreat for hours on end for 10 days just watching my crazy monkey mind, all in the quest for happiness. 

And after all of that, I've learned that happiness does not come easily. 

Happiness is a practice; it takes work. 

To tell others, "just watch your thoughts and let them go," would be a gigantic disservice. Mind training may be simple in theory, "be present, equanimous, release attachment to thoughts" but let's face it, actually practicing that stuff is tough. 

Sometimes it's really hard to let go and we get stuck. You can be stuck for minutes, days, or years. You can't plan on when it's coming and you can't run from it when it comes; it consumes you. 

It sucks. 

But, without those dark moments life would be terribly boring.

It's very important to know that there's nothing wrong with you when you feel low. I'm pretty sure everybody does sometimes; it's just that no one talks about it. It's as if we put on a mask to the outside world and get really good at replying, "I'm great" when others ask how you are. So you suffer alone. 

But this is not true....suffering is part of the human condition. There will be love and loss, there will be disappointments, pain, and failures for everyone. 

Look at the bright side- there will be love, there will be miracles, joy, and there will be authentic success! 

When I feel stuck I discover my greatest strengths. I learn ways to get out of the dark hole: 

 a) courage to face the darkness

b) faith that the moment will pass and faith in Source and universal intelligence

c) self-discovery, healing, and life lessons that I am then able to share with others. 

Standing in front a room full of people with all eyes on me sharing one of my darkest moments was terrifying. I let go of being the expert. I let go of self-consciousness, and  I let go of the barrier that stood between my peers and myself. 

It was terrifying, but simultaneously immensely liberating. It was as if it came through me without my control, thought, or effort. 

In that moment, I learned what it truly means to be vulnerable.  I felt seen, heard, and most importantly loved.

Sometimes we think we are only loved or liked if we achieve more, acquire more accolades, more money and success; live the life we think we ought to rather than face who we are. I'm learning that loving all of myself no matter what the circumstance is the greatest achievement. 

When I teach meditation and mindfulness, I am sharing my journey. I teach because I am a student of myself and this life experience. We are all in this together and the best thing we can do is support each other through the good and bad until we see it all as one in the same.