Photo courtesy of The Red Fairy Project

For quite some time, it’s been clear to me that I needed to take a break. Per my last post, I’ve been trying to let go of things that don’t completely fill me up so that I can make time for the things that do.

I’ve been doing OK with that initiative, but I was painfully aware that the process is not going as quickly as I expected. Now, I also know that I’m an “instant gratification” sort of person, so I’m not exactly a patient person. And even though I KNOW that lasting change takes time, it still is not easy. I mean, let’s hurry up and get to the end result, you know what I mean?!

Enter…VACATION! It’s not often that I take an entire week off, but my family and I scheduled some time off for Spring Break, and we decided to go to Hilton Head, SC. None of us has ever been there before, and we’ve been told how relaxed it is there. And I’ve been told by more than a few people that I need to spend more time outside, particularly around water and in the sunshine.

We should ALL be spending as much time outside as we can. How many of us ACTUALLY go outside on a regular basis (and I’m not talking about going outside to get into your car to drive to work or the store)? And when you DO go outside, how much attention are you giving to your surroundings? Are you able to let the fresh air, the smells and the sounds get inside of you and help you let go?

If you’re anything like me, then you get way too distracted by “stuff” most of the time. Things like:

  • Your phone
  • Your iPad
  • Your laptop
  • Your TV
  • Work

You get the idea. I was explicitly told I needed to spend some time in nature, WITHOUT distractions, so that I could MAYBE make more progress with this journey I’m on to improve my life. So I decided that I would use this trip to Hilton Head to do just that. I quickly learned that Hilton Head is the perfect place for being outdoors…you can bike anywhere on the island, as there are miles and miles of trails. I booked bikes for each of us for the week, and we made great use of them while we were there.


Casey, enjoying time biking on one of the many trails available in Hilton Head

In fact, I even found a yoga studio that I could easily bike to from where we were staying, so I signed up for a few classes. Not only did I get some “me time” while biking there on my own, but I had the opportunity to experience yoga in a lovely studio. Jiva Yoga Center welcomed me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Restorative class I took as my first class. I even took my mom back the next evening for a Yoga Therapeutics class. The local folks I met there were so friendly! If I lived in Hilton Head, this would be my home yoga studio for sure!


This is the outside of Jiva Yoga Center…super cute, huh?

And then there were the lovely beaches, lagoons and rivers to spend time at. Oh, how I love the sound of the ocean waves…so peaceful! You know, whenever I meditate with my Calm app, I always choose the sound of ocean waves as my background sound. That’s great and all, but there’s nothing like actually BEING at the ocean, in person, hearing the waves and feeling the breeze and smelling the salt in the air. It’s one of the most relaxing things for me. Especially at sunset…what a way to end a great day!


This is me at the end of a lovely day, with the waves as my background




View from the boat on our Sunset Cruise

By the end of our time in Hilton Head, I truly felt like a weight had been lifted to some degree. I felt like I could think a little more clearly, and I didn’t feel like I was being pulled in a million directions at once. I came away from that trip with some action items:

  • Spend as much time outside as possible. So far, I’ve been able to keep that up. Since coming home, I’ve been taking my reading outside on the deck, and I’ve enjoyed having the sound of the birds in the background. Plus, I’ve been on the dog park trails after WAY too much time away…I definitely need more time at the dog park.
  • Spend less time connected to technology. While I was away, I won’t lie…I did check Facebook and my email each day. But I did not spend nearly as much time online as I typically do. At first, that stressed me out. (What if I missed an important post from someone?!) But seriously, after a couple of days, I enjoyed not worrying about every little thing, and I didn’t really think about it too much from then on. Since coming home, I’d say I’ve been online more than when I was on vacation…but definitely not as much as before. Baby steps, right?
  • Move my body. Every. Single. Day. It doesn’t have to be crazy, all-out workouts. But every day on vacation, I did something active. Whether it was walking, riding bikes or yoga, I was moving my body. And it felt amazing. And I felt happy. And I felt accomplished. And I suddenly didn’t feel the need to beat myself up over the way my body looks. Soooo…since coming home, I have kept that up. I’ve moved my body every single day (yoga, cycle classes, OrangeTheory, walking), and I am noticing that I am still feeling amazing, happy, accomplished, and proud of myself.

My goal at this point is to keep it up. I truly feel like if I can continue to do these three things, which are wonderful at making me feel recharged, many other things I’ve been struggling with will fall into place. I think that I’ll gain even more clarity on the things I need to let go of and which things I need to bring on board in order to live my best life. And to help me with achieving this, I’ll be focusing my meditations on these very things…reminding myself of how I’m happier when these things are part of my life.

You’ll be hearing from me in my next post on how this is going. My hope is that my next post will be all about how this is SO EASY for me. But…Well, we all know how life can be sometimes. I expect I won’t be perfect. And that is totally OK (and I hope I remember that it is totally OK when I mess up). I’m really going to try and enjoy the process, learn from any mistakes I make, and keep trying to improve as I go.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on all of this. Are you dealing with anything similar? What works to help you feel recharged?



(Source: Lifehack.org)

Since November 2017, I’ve been teaching class for the patients at the holistic practice I’ve been going to for Lyme treatment since 2013. I relished being able to share yoga with others who were dealing with medical issues, as I was so excited to show them how yoga could benefit them…in so many ways!

I’ve been able to do just that over these past 17 months, and it has been amazing. But a few months ago, I realized that it was time for me to move on. A wise teacher of mine once told me that when something feels like a chore, or when it feels like it’s draining my cup instead of filling it…well, it may be time to move on.

Fast forward to this week. Monday evening was my last class, and it was HARD to say goodbye. Even though I know I am doing what is right for me, it’s still hard. These regular attendees have been such a huge part of my life for all this time, and I’ve definitely become attached. I care about them, and I can tell the sentiment is mutual.

One student in particular became a friend to me. She and I have a lot of the same views on things, and I know she and I will continue to grow our friendship. She gave me a gift after class, and I don’t know if she truly understands how much it meant to me.

I never told her, but I love rocks…holding a solid, cool rock in my hands has always settled me and calmed me down when I am anxious. So when I opened the gift bag and saw these gorgeous lava rocks inside…oh man! I was so totally moved!

After giving her a huge hug and getting in my car, I won’t lie…I was pretty weepy all the way home. Weepy because I was touched. Weepy because I was questioning whether I was making the right decision. I’m sure you all know what I mean, right?

Here’s the REALLY interesting thing, though. The next morning, I was checking my email, and I saw an email from a fellow yoga teacher about an opportunity to lead a corporate yoga class at a company that just happens to be RIGHT DOWN THE STREET from my house.

For those of you who have known me since I started teaching back in 2002, you may remember that I got my start teaching yoga in a corporate setting (it was at the company where I worked full-time). I taught corporate yoga at my workplaces until 2013, when the company I work for now had to change the way they offer fitness classes to employees. I always loved teaching corporate classes, because all the students are just like me…STRESSED, stressed…and more stressed! To see even just one or two students walk out of class looking relaxed or smiling let me know I was following my calling.

So, I decided to follow up on this opportunity my friend told me about. I wasn’t expecting much, but I decided it couldn’t hurt to at least check it out. I’m glad I did! I immediately heard back from the manager hiring for the position, and she and I had a great conversation. Long story short…I have my audition with her this coming week, and I am hoping this works out. It will give me a chance to get back to teaching yoga in the corporate setting again, and this company couldn’t be more convenient for me, with it being right down the street.

At my Friday morning therapy session (yes, I have a therapist…it’s the best decision I’ve made for myself in a long time, but I’ll save that story for another blog post), I mentioned all of this. My therapist pointed out that maybe all this was part of the master plan for me. Maybe my intuition was telling me I needed to say goodbye to one thing so I could say hello to something else. And maybe that something else is the thing that is the THING for me. You get me?

It definitely makes sense. All I am really trying to do is find my joy. All the time, I want to be doing the things that bring me joy. And when I look back at the past few months, I can see that I’ve been slowly but surely letting go of things that are not giving me 100% joy in favor of things that I think will.

It can be a little scary, but I am actually excited to see what will be coming my way. So…goodbye scaredy-cat Melanie and HELLO to a more confident and daring Melanie. Nice to meet me…finally!



Yesterday, I tried something new. After hearing about it for a couple of years now, I finally tried…wait for it…GOAT YOGA! A friend of mine who teaches called me a few weeks ago, to ask if I’d be interested in subbing for her in May. I must admit that I almost said I wasn’t interested, but then she said to me, “You know, I got into teaching yoga because I want to make people feel good. Goat yoga does that…it’s so laid back and everyone is just so happy after.” How could I say no to that?

She suggested I come try it myself, since it’s really different from how I am used to teaching. So my daughter and I decided to check it out together yesterday. Oh my Goodness! I can’t remember the last time I smiled and giggled so much!

This little baby girl was taken with me for the first 15 minutes or so of class. They call her Little Mac, and she just kept pawing me every time I stopped petting her. Then she climbed up on me for a little bit, tried to eat my shirt, and then went on her way to the next person.

Later, Casey and I got more interactive with the goats, and that just made us giggle even more.

I left that class feeling so happy. So full of joy. Not only did the goats bring me many smiles and laughs, but I got to spend time with my daughter (which can be very rare these days). Also, I ran into people I knew, and met some new people…I felt like we had a little community established by the end of our time together.

It inspired me to write my own meditation, which I closed my yoga class with tonight. I call it the Meditation for Joy. Here it is…try it yourself, giving yourself at least 5 minutes (we did this for almost 15 minutes in class tonight):

Come to a comfortable position, perhaps a seated position, or even lying down. Someplace where you can spend the entire time you plan to devote to this meditation.

Close your eyes, and take a deep breath. As you inhale, shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, tensing the muscles. As you exhale, let the shoulders relax and drop away from the ears. Do this for a few rounds, and notice how your neck and shoulders relax a little more after each round.

Now, focus on evening out your inhales and exhales. Perhaps you inhale for a count of 3 and exhale for a count of 3 (pick a count that works best for you). After 3-5 rounds of this, settle in to a normal breathing pattern.

On your next inhale, think about something that is causing you stress or anxiety in your life at this time. Maybe it’s an illness. Maybe it’s a relationship. Whatever it is, greet it as you would an old friend. Be respectful to it, acknowledge it, but politely ask it to leave. Simply say, “I don’t have time for you in my life at the moment, so I need you to respect me and go.” And as you begin your next exhale, visualize that thing leaving you, and feel a little lighter as you begin your next round of breath. Sit with this feeling for a few rounds of breath, noticing how you feel, how your breathing might have been affected, any thoughts that have arisen. There is no right or wrong. Simply notice.

On your next inhale, think about something that brings a smile to your face. A smile to your heart. Maybe it’s a person. Maybe it’s a place. Whatever it is, greet it as you would an old friend. Ask this friend to join you for a bit. Simply say, “It is so nice to see you! Let’s spend some time together and catch up. There is so much for us to share!” And as you begin your next round of breath, visualize what you would want to do with this old friend. Would you share a cup of coffee over a cozy dining table and catch up? Would you take a walk along a breezy ocean beach? As you visualize this time you’ll spend together, notice if you feel lighter and happier with every round of breath you take. Notice what thoughts arise. There is no right or wrong. Simply notice. Spend as much time here as you wish.

When you’re ready, begin to deepen your breath. On your next inhale, take a big stretch. Release on your exhale. Take any movements you need to, and coming to seated, take your hands to heart center, thumbs at your heart, chin to chest. Take a big inhale, and exhale through the mouth, as a big heavy sigh, releasing anything that does not serve you.

Try this meditation for yourself. If you do, I’d love to know what you think! Please share in the comments!



Happy March, everyone! It’s been awhile since my last post, as it’s been a very busy few months for me, but I am back…at least, I THINK I am. 🙂 In this post, I wanted to talk about a craze that’s been around for awhile, but it’s taken me a bit of time to jump on the bandwagon. I live in Fort Mill, SC, which is right on the border of Charlotte, NC…a big city here in the southeast. For a few years now, yoga classes being offered at breweries has been a thing, but I’ve avoided it like the plague. I guess I just always thought of yoga being so sacred that it could not POSSIBLY be good to practice in a brewery setting.

(Photo courtesy of Jamie Carney)

However, a couple of months ago, we had a brewery open here in Fort Mill. My friend, Nicole (a fellow yoga teacher), let me know that she’d be teaching a regular class on Saturday mornings at this new place. So I decided to check it out, because I wanted to support my friend. I thoroughly enjoyed it, much to my surprise. So much so, that when Nicole asked me to sub for her, I willingly agreed and had the BEST time teaching to a wonderful group of yogis. If you’re on the fence about yoga and beer going together, let me try and ease your mind a bit. In my experience, I found that combining beer and yoga made the whole experience more approachable. At the brewery here in Fort Mill, it’s a more Vinyasa style of yoga, but is definitely beginner-friendly. This form of yoga allowed me to relax and destress by unplugging from activities of daily living. It goes to show that craft beer can pair with anything! If you love craft beer and socializing, try beer yoga. Here are some things to keep in mind:

What to Expect With Beer Yoga

  1. Beer comes second in beer yoga…yoga comes first!
  2. Laid-back atmosphere
  3. Participants of all levels of experience
  4. A fun and helpful teacher
  5. Beer and socializing

What to Bring

  • Water bottle
  • Comfortable and stretchy clothing
  • Yoga mat
  • Extra money…usually you get one beer included, but you may want to stick around for more!

Namaste and cheers!


Have you ever stopped to consider how wonderful it is to have limitations? Think about it…would life be fun if everything you do comes easily to you the very first time? Some people would probably say yes, but I think that answer would be given without REALLY thinking about it. I think limitations are something everyone should experience along the journey of their lives. I think limitations help us grow in ways we never would if everything just came naturally and was 100% perfect.

A couple of weeks ago, the center where I go for my Lyme treatment reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in leading a yoga class there on Monday evenings. The owner explained that I could have a variety of students, as many have physical limitations due to whatever they might be coming to the center to be treated for, and asked if I would be OK with a pretty varied population. I was told they had blocks, chairs, blankets, straps, bolsters…you name it and they were prepared. I didn’t even have to think about it. I instantly said “YES! Of course! I would be honored!”

Some yoga teachers might not be quite so excited to teach a class of this sort. It’s a challenge to prepare a class that ANY type of student can participate in. And if you’re a vinyasa junkie, then a class of this sort might be very awkward, because it probably won’t have much of a “flow” to it.

But I am a person with physical limitations. Ever since I got sick, my body just can’t do what it used to do…I’ve got many posts throughout my blog about my frustration and struggle with finding my new practice. For a long time, I hesitated to teach because I felt like no one would want to take class with a teacher who couldn’t even do the poses herself. But through trial and error, I have figured out what I can do, what I can’t do, how to modify out the wazoo…I think I am a much better teacher because of my limitations.

You may be wondering how limitations in a yoga practice can make a better teacher. The perception out there in the world is that a yoga teacher should be an expert at practicing yoga postures. And yes…I agree with that thought to an extent. But I suggest rephrasing that to “a yoga teacher should be an expert at teaching yoga postures.” Allow me to explain.

Most of the general population has limitations while practicing yoga. Maybe it’s as simple as tight hips or hamstrings, or you have difficulty sitting still. Or maybe your limitations come from an injury or illness.

Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Well, aren’t these BAD things? Isn’t it bad to be so tight, or to be ill? Don’t we want yoga to fix these things???”

OK…it’s true that yoga may help you get more flexible or recover from an injury more quickly. But it certainly won’t happen overnight. Which means…

You’ve got to learn to accept yourself as you are, in the moment. Limitations encourage you to stick with that learning; otherwise, you’ll never find the understanding you need to move past it. 


As a teacher, my limitations have helped me empathize with my students, allowing me to modify a practice to fit their needs. Because I have restrictions, I understand why certain poses are challenging or risky for certain populations. And because I understand, I have compassion for those who are struggling…I’ve been there, and I am STILL there on many occasions. I have completely changed the way I teach because of my limitations…and I feel it’s for the better. I admit that maybe I don’t teach a kick-ass Power Yoga class anymore and pack the room like I used to. But that’s OK. As a person with limitations, when I was trying to find classes that my body could actually do without causing more issues, there weren’t many out there. I found a couple, but they were not offered regularly (like, maybe once a month), or they were offered at odd times of the day because these types of classes don’t usually pack ’em in and generate lots of revenue.

I get it. I truly do. I’m just glad I’m being given this opportunity because I’m so excited to share what I’ve learned and encourage anyone struggling to never give up. Work with what you’ve got and use it as an opportunity to learn what you’re truly capable of.

If you can approach your practice in this way, no matter how big or small your limitations might be, it connects you to the concept in yoga known as santosha, which translates to “contentment”. It’s not easy being content with where we are right now, when we’re constantly bombarded with social media posts and images that make everyone else seem so perfect.

Discovering what you’re capable of may help you find happiness and acceptance for wherever you’re at, regardless of what might limit you.

Do you embrace your limitations? I’d love it if you could share your thoughts in the comments as to how you do it. We can all learn from each other!



In my July post, I talked about my struggle with anxiety/panic attacks, and what I had done to address the problem. At the time of that post, I was feeling much better and have been since then…until about three weeks ago.

I was coming home from TN with my mom, and we got caught in a HUGE amount of fog and some rain on a curvy mountain road. All of a sudden, WHAM! I couldn’t breathe, I felt like I was being choked, I got dizzy. Between then and now, I’ve had them quite a bit, though most are not horrible…but I have had a couple more doozies during that time.

Panic(This is what I think I must look like when I’m having an attack…it’s certainly how I feel on the inside.)

The difference between before and now is that THIS time, I know I am not having a heart attack. I’m not dying. And even though I feel like I’m going to pass out, it’s physically impossible to pass out when having a panic/anxiety attack (the EMT who helped me back in May told me that amazing factoid).

As you can imagine, I’ve been frustrated during these past few weeks. Why the sudden backslide? I was doing so good, so what gives?

Well, like I always do, I had to analyze the situation and try to find some answers. And I realized something. Something very important. Something I’ve always known, but apparently needed to be reminded of. And that is, if you want to stay healthy and happy, YOU GOTTA WORK at it!

At first, I told myself that I had been working at it, so what the heck? But when I really dug into my analysis, I knew I had been slacking off. I haven’t been doing the practices I’d established on a regular basis (meditating, gentle yoga, dog park, reading for fun). Though my work stress is fine, I realized I’ve been overcommitting to other things.

You know, when someone asks you to do something, and it’s something you really enjoy, it’s so easy to say “YES! Of course I’ll do it!” But saying yes to too many things – even things you love – can be detrimental to some people. Especially people like me, who are dealing with a chronic illness.

Thankfully, I’ve got some people out there who really care about my well-being, and they’ve offered me some wonderful advice over this past week. I want them to know that I am listening, and I’ve been working this week on getting back to my regular practices, as well as incorporating some new ones that I think will help me with my stress.

One of those things is yoga nidra. If you’ve never tried a yoga nidra, I highly recommend it! Sometimes referred to as “yogic sleep”, it is a conscious relaxation practice that is intended to induce total physical, mental, and emotional relaxation….you literally just lay there and let the voice guide you through the total body relaxation…it’s amazing! I really love these versions, by James Jewell. Since yoga nidra involves you simply laying there and really listening to the guided relaxation, it’s critical for me to like the voice I’m listening to. James Jewell has a wonderful British accent, and a tone to his voice that just simply relaxes me through and through. You can choose the short one (which is about 20 minutes), or a longer one.

If you’ve never tried a yoga nidra before, I encourage you to do so. There are a variety of them out there for free…you can search on iTunes or Spotify, or any other place where podcasts and music can be found. A variety of yoga studios also offer yoga nidra, though I find that I can’t find them being offered on a regular basis here in my area of the world (local peeps, if you know of a place in the greater Charlotte, NC area that offers this regularly, let me know…I wanna go!).

Along with my other go-to tools and techniques, I’ll get this anxiety/panic back under control. I just have to remember that even when I’m feeling good, I’ve gotta keep working at it. I need to ensure that I do whatever I have to in order for yoga and meditation to become something I never push to the side and ignore.

How do you deal with stress in YOUR life? I’d love to hear the things that work for you. If you already have a regular yoga practice, what style do you practice? Do you practice for stress management or for the workout?

If you are local to me (I am in Fort Mill, SC), come practice with me. My classes focus more on relaxation and flexibility and are practiced at a soothing pace…perfect for stress management. Come join me! I’ll be teaching two sample classes this Sunday (10/29) at Body By Brady, located at 2132 Carolina Place Drive. One will be from 2:00 – 2:30 p.m. (this will be focused on strength and flexibility) and the other will be from 4:00 – 4:30 p.m. (this will be focused on stretching and breathing). Each are $10, and the proceeds go to the Fort Mill Fitness Initiative, a local charity.

I hope to see you Sunday. But above all else, I hope you are doing the things you need to do in order to stay happy and healthy. If you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up. Remember…you gotta WORK to have the life you deserve! Let’s do this together!



Yoga has been a part of my life since 1999…that’s 18 years! I’ve been teaching for 15 of those years, since 2002. That’s a long time, right? People frequently ask me about my yoga practice, and that’s cool. It’s great to know people want to know what I do and how I do it. But you want to know a secret? I totally freak out when people ask me these questions! Seriously, I’m not kidding!

You are probably wondering why in the world I would freak out when people ask me about my yoga practice. Allow me to explain.

The way I practice has changed a good bit over the years. At this point in my life, my practice is about where I can make time for myself and being mindful of how I feel. I have to get a bit creative with how and when I practice due to many reasons…I’m a wife, a mother, a dog owner…I work a full-time job, while teaching yoga and indoor cycling part-time. Oh, and there is that pesky chronic illness that I have, which constantly saps my energy and causes me muscle and joint pain. So when it comes to my yoga practice, I do what I can. Sometimes it’s a solid 75 minutes of movement, but sometimes I literally sit on my mat and focus on meditation for 5 or 10 minutes. It’s all yoga to me, as long as I am being mindful of what I’m doing.

When I first started pursuing my yoga certification, I was told by every teacher that if you’re going to be a good teacher, you need to practice yoga every single day. Back then, I was practicing a more vigorous vinyasa style of yoga. I wasn’t sick yet, so I had the energy to do those vigorous and powerful practices. Did I practice every single day? Ummm…well, this IS a confessional post, so I will tell you that I did NOT.

At least, I didn’t think I was. Because back then, I thought that if I wasn’t getting on my mat and sweating it out to a vigorous and powerful practice, then I wasn’t practicing yoga. Now I know different. As my life has evolved, my yoga knowledge has evolved. Which means my practice has evolved.

However, if you follow yoga blogs like I do, or if you search out yoga things on social media, you might run into the same thing I do, which is second-guessing yourself. This is because everywhere you turn, there is some yoga challenge out there, or some weird and crazy new style to try. You’ve probably seen it…30 days of handstands, 108 days of Sun Salutations, Naked Yoga, Beer Yoga, Goat Yoga, take a picture of yourself in a new pose each day…you get the idea. And if you let yourself, you can start to beat yourself up when you see all this stuff out there and it seems unattainable to you.

Here’s where my confession comes in. Are you ready for it? I’m proud of my practice, so here is my open and honest account of what the practice of a busy person, who happens to have a chronic illness, looks like.

I never finish 30 day challenges in 30 days.

I love to sign up for all kinds of challenges that are time-boxed because I always think that if I commit to one, it will hold me accountable and suddenly I’ll be amazing at whatever it is the challenge is targeting. I’ve signed for so many yoga challenges over the years, and I look forward to getting an email each day that breaks down what I’m supposed to do that day and usually has some wonderful words of wisdom and inspiration. In all honesty though, I make it through the first several days and then life steps in. Something will come up with one of my daughters, or there’s an emergency at work, or I simply have a bad day in terms of my illness. When that happens, I must adjust my expectations. I have made peace with this and rather than feeling like a failure, I give myself permission to do the type of yoga that suits my mood and needs on that day. Whatever challenge I am doing will still be there when I am ready to step back in, and that’s comforting.

I have been known to practice yoga in my pajamas.

Like many people with a chronic illness, there are days when it takes every ounce of my energy to get out of bed and force myself to walk among the land of the living. A girl’s gotta make a living after all, and I rarely get the opportunity to skip work or doing day-to-day things just because I don’t feel good. On weekends, sometimes I allow myself to spend a whole day in my pajamas if it’s been a rough week. And when that happens, I go into my yoga room, roll out my mat, and incorporate a gentle or restorative practice…in my pajamas. On other days, I really want to squeeze in a quick yoga session before I head out to work, so I pick a quick practice from YouTube before hopping into the shower. I figure it like this: it is more important to show up on my mat and practice in a way that suits me and my lifestyle.

My practice is often interrupted.

When I practice at home, interruptions are standard. I have a dedicated yoga room, and I always shut the door when I go in to practice. But inevitably, one of my dogs will decide it is a good idea to sit outside the door and sniff really loud, or cry for me to open the door. If I open the door, they join in with me, licking me and falling all over me in the process. When I go into my room to meditate, I announce to my family that I just need 10 minutes to meditate and to please not interrupt me. Do they listen? Nope! Every single time I try to take that measly little bit of time for myself, I get, “Mom! Blah blah blah!” Or “Honey, can you blah blah blah?” Seriously! I’m just asking for TEN minutes, people!

I don’t feel guilty that my practice is not perfect.

I used to beat myself up when I couldn’t get that vigorous practice in, or if I skimped out on a challenge I’d signed up for. But you know what that did? It made me miserable, and that’s not what yoga is all about. More recently, I’ve come across more articles that encourage people to do something each day, even if it’s only a short breathing practice. All of a sudden, I started to feel like maybe I’m not so bad after all, because I definitely AM doing something mindful each day, and that counts. I show up on my mat (or my bed, or a chair) when I can and how I can. My yoga practice is truly part of my life, so it evolves as I evolve. I am not going to spend my time stressing about doing yoga differently. I practice yoga to make me feel good and keep me healthy inside and out. Yoga is not about beating yourself up and about feeling guilty about not doing things the way everyone else does. It is about going with the flow and what you learn during that process.

Fellow readers, what are your secrets and confessions? Tell me in the comments!

“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” ~~ Zig Ziglar

(Photo courtesy of Huffington Post)

Let me begin this post with the acknowledgement that I did not post anything during the month of June. Some of you who have followed me for some time know that I am pretty regular, and it is unlike me to go this long without something to say.

Believe me, I tried. Every time I thought about what I wanted to post for June, I came up blank. I had nothing. I was totally and utterly devoid of anything meaningful to say. And so…I decided to take some time off. It was desperately needed, and this post will explain what’s been going on with me. Get ready, because this one might get a bit deep, but my heart is telling me it’s important to share this. So here goes.

For years now, I’ve been moving up the ladder in the world of Healthcare IT. I began as a programmer, moved into being a Systems/Business Analyst, then into my current role of Technical Product Manager. And on the side, I have been teaching yoga and indoor cycling classes, which you all know how much I love. Being in the IT industry is what enables me to pay the bills and help support my family. Being on the Healthcare side of IT is a super bonus, because healthcare is so much a part of my life. Between my illness, illness with family members, and embracing alternative healthcare to achieve overall wellness, I want to do my part to make everything a little bit better for people out there whose health is suffering in any way. What I do in my full-time job is helping to improve the lives of patients. What I do on the side helps prevent people from BECOMING patients. This means I should be happy and fulfilled, right?

I didn’t realize it, but for over two years now, I’ve been on a downward spiral. I was going through the motions, getting through the day, convincing myself everything was perfectly fine. During this time, I’ve gotten sick quite a bit, and have had several spans of times where my Lyme symptoms have flared back up. I’ve had to call in sick more than I ever have before. I chalked it up to the nature of this chronic illness because…well…I am chronically ill, after all!

Then, on May 11th, it happened. I was at work and by mid-morning, I was NOT feeling well. I had some pain on the left side of my chest, and my left arm was kind of tingly. Then I started to feel really dizzy, so I called my husband and told him that once the dizziness passed, I was going to leave and head over to Urgent Care. On my way to Urgent Care, the dizziness returned. While waiting at a stop light, in the rush hour traffic, all of a sudden I felt like I was passing out. I couldn’t catch my breath, I broke out in a sweat, my fingers went completely numb. I thought, “Oh my God! I am having a heart attack!” But I couldn’t get my fingers to dial 911. So I got out of the car and knocked on the window of the car in front of me, and the driver was an angel from above…she called 911 for me, and she sat with me and held my hand until the ambulance came, and she didn’t leave me until she felt like I was in good hands.

So what happened? Long story short…I had suffered a massive panic attack. And I have been suffering from them most every single day since then, up until about 8 days ago.

They’ve been debilitating, as they always happened in my car, any time my car stopped moving. My doctor talked with me at length about this, and she pointed out that though I have some great tools available that help control stress and anxiety (i.e., yoga, meditation), I was not using those tools. Teaching isn’t the same as doing, after all, is it? She stressed to me that if I didn’t get this under control, then I probably WOULD end up having a heart attack at some point. Hearing her say that so bluntly definitely got my attention.

I said to myself, “So now what?” Well, I relented to doing two things I didn’t think I would do:

  1. I started seeing a professional who specializes in panic and anxiety
  2. I agreed that, at least for now, taking a prescription to manage these attacks was necessary

At first, I felt like the most complete and utter failure, because I thought doing these two things meant that I was a fraud. I mean, I help other people manage their stress and anxiety as a yoga teacher and a wellness coach. If I am having to get help from someone and take prescription meds, then I must be a fraud, right? Wrong!

During this time, I have learned that it’s ok to ask for help. I’ve rediscovered my meditation practice, and have FINALLY pared back on anything non-essential so that I can focus on ME. It hasn’t been easy, as I’ve given up teaching any regular classes. I am strictly subbing or offering special classes as I feel up to it. It’s been hard, because…well, it’s hard giving up something you enjoy. But it was necessary…I can see that now.

The help I’ve received during this time has allowed me to dig in to what was truly causing all this stress for me. Which brings me back to how I started this post.

This time of reflection helped me to realize that the role I’ve been in for the past two years (at two separate companies) was simply not the right role for me. The main responsibilities of my role don’t jive with my innate personality. I can DO the job, sure…but it caused me stress because it just wasn’t who I am. When I really thought about it, I realized that I missed being a business analyst, and an opportunity came my way shortly after that.

Pursuing this role caused a whole new slew of emotions. It is a pretty significant pay cut from where I’m at now, and it’s a “step down” in terms of the career ladder. Does this make me a failure?

My husband and I talked at length…would we be OK with me making so much less money? Would I be considered “less than” because I couldn’t hack it in my current role? My husband told me, “Mel, don’t worry about the money. Is this what you enjoy doing?” I told him, “Yes…I love helping customers solve their problems and then working with a team to make it happen.” And he said, “Then you should go for it. Who cares what anyone else thinks? If it makes you happy, then you probably won’t be sick as much.”

My husband’s a pretty smart guy, and having his support gave me the courage to go for it.

As I was preparing to turn in my resignation at my current job, I was initially scared. I’ve enjoyed working there, and I especially have loved working with my boss. She has taught me SO much, and I also love what this company does for the world of healthcare. More than anything, I didn’t want to seem like a quitter, or come across as a failure.

Integrity is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” I decided in the end that no matter what, I was going to be honest about my reasons for leaving. And I felt at peace with it as soon as I decided that. I wouldn’t feel right if I gave a reason that was a lie.

When we talked, I simply told her what was in my heart. That I appreciated the opportunity to have been here, but that the role just wasn’t the right fit for me. Every word I said was completely and 100% honest. And you know what? She totally understood and wished me well.

You see, I approached the situation with integrity. First, with myself…I got really honest with myself about what was making me unhappy and causing me stress to the point where I started having debilitating anxiety/panic attacks. Once I did, an opportunity came my way…an opportunity I think is a true blessing for a variety of reasons. Finally, I resigned from my current job with integrity…this is a company I do truly believe in, but the role I was in simply wasn’t my calling. And that’s OK. There is no guilt that I feel, because I followed my heart and spoke my truth.

Friends, I know many of you struggle with something. Don’t ignore it like I did for so long. Sit with it for a bit. It may be uncomfortable at first, but I promise you…if you meditate on it and really dig in to WHY whatever it is bothers you so much, then you will find the answer. And once you understand what you’re meant to do, go for it and don’t look back! Embrace it, and watch the blessings pour in!



“Nothing in nature blooms all year. Be patient with yourself.” — Karen Salmansohn

View from the suspension bridge at Anne Springs Close Greenway

I have never considered myself to be a patient person. Neither do any of the people who know me well. I have thrown my share of fits when someone cuts me off in traffic or doesn’t acknowledge when I’ve done something to help them out in some small way. I’m not the only one, right? I mean, I’m only human. That being said, I would like to think I’ve got the ability to practice patience in some of the most trying of situations (i.e., when one of my daughters has experienced one of the ever so wonderful teenage emotional meltdowns).

In my own life, though, I have struggled to find patience with myself. I would say that I enjoy most aspects of my life. I’ve got a wonderful family, awesome dogs, a very nice career, good friends (not many, but those I do have I consider to be true friends, and they are all I truly need).

So why am I constantly questioning my decisions that have led me to where I am? I always wonder if I’m in the right job, if I’ve made the right decisions when it comes to my kids, etc. I think we all do this, to some extent. Times when our inner voice says, “This was good, but not good enough.” Or, “Why didn’t you do this?” Things like that. It’s an abusive relationship like any other, but we ignore it because it’s us abusing OUR OWN SELVES. Crazy, right?

I think if we took the time to slow down once in awhile and really pay attention to what is going on around us, it would go a long way towards helping us find that patience we so desperately need.

Several times this week, I journaled about my constant questioning of my own abilities. I was getting frustrated because I am not sure why I’m doing this to myself all the time as of late, moreso than ever before. And then I had a lightbulb moment.

I thought back to when I first began practicing yoga, to DVDs, way back in 1999. It took me a solid year before I went to a live yoga class because my body was so stiff that I was embarrassed to be in a room with others. But I finally did attend a live class, and I STILL could not do many things the other students could do. But I kept at it. 

Chaturanga was my nemesis. I just couldn’t seem to make my way down without dropping my knees as a modification. And then suddenly, I could do it without modifying. It probably took me about 3 or 4 months. Honestly, I’m not sure how long it took. I just know that I worked, and worked…and worked…until one day I could do it. Hmmm…maybe I actually have some patience after all. For the things I really want, anyway.

Thinking on that this week — how I had the patience to work at learning Chaturanga — made me realize how so much of my life outside of yoga is stifled by my pattern of rushing to the finish. I tell myself that certain things are out of reach for me, and so they are. I simply give up, rather than following the foundational steps of getting there. But I am strong enough and capable enough to do lots of things. With my yoga practice, I’ve done the work needed to move to the next level in poses. In yoga, I’ve fallen many times — too many to count. But I always get back up and try again, taking my time. I collect myself after landing on my mat, I think about what I could have done differently, and then I try again. Over and over.

So this week, it suddenly hit me that I don’t need to be perfect as a mom, or in my career, or anything else. I simply have to be patient with myself. Easier said than done, I know. However, if I can remember the lessons I’ve learned on my mat, the patience I’ve cultivated as I am tackling something new in my practice…well, maybe I can eventually approach the situations in my life off the mat in the same way.

What about you? When you fall, do you let yourself tumble down into a state of disappointment or depression? Do you become a victim? Or do you accept it, learn from it, and then try again?

I think that if you can accept where you land…if you can accept the good, the bad and the ugly, and sit with it in contemplation…then that is when the magic happens. 



If you’ve never done yoga before, you might be wondering, “What’s the big deal? Why do I need yoga, anyway?” Yoga has been big in the news for quite a few years now, so you have probably heard that it provides many physical, mental and spiritual benefits. It’s been proven to improve happiness and health, but so do a lot of things. So why yoga?

Conversely, if you’re already a yogi, you already know what yoga can do for you. But sometimes, no matter how beneficial you know yoga is for you, you get stuck in a rut. For whatever reason, you’re just not getting what you need anymore, and you need to get back in the groove.

If you need to be convinced to give yoga a try, or you just need a boost to get you back in the groove, here are 10 signs that you really need yoga in your life…like RIGHT NOW! I’m a huge fan of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck…” routines, so I’m presenting this list to you in that style…enjoy!

(Jeff Foxworthy photo, courtesy of Little Things)

  1. If you’re restless…you might need yoga! Seriously, if you are exhausted but can’t seem to sit still, or you find yourself wired up and unable to chill out, yoga can help. It incorporates relaxation techniques that help you get better at understanding when you’re stressed, as well as techniques on how to let those stresses go. And once you figure that out, the empowerment you feel can’t be beat!
  2. If you can’t sleep…you might need yoga! With yoga, you can learn to incorporate meditation, which can help you better deal with what I refer to as the “monkey mind”. What is the “monkey mind”? It’s the mind that is constantly racing with uncontrollable thoughts, which can keep you from being able to get the quality sleep you need. Meditation helps you learn how to release those thoughts that are not serving you in any beneficial way.
  3. If you can’t make a decision to save your life…you might need yoga! Noticing you have trouble making up your mind, even over the smallest of things? The focus that yoga provides can help you better open your mind to clearer thinking. And when you can think clearly, you can better understand your own desires and goals….which lead to better decision-making.
  4. If you can’t properly focus…you might need yoga! If you have trouble keeping your attention on one thing, then completing tasks feels impossible. I’ve noticed lately that, for me, I can’t seem to keep my focus on the book I am trying to complete. I keep having to read chapters over and over again, because I can’t remember what I’ve just read…it’s super frustrating! Maybe you notice that a project you’re working on takes you WAY more time to complete than it should. Yoga incorporates concentration techniques, like helping you learn to balance on one leg, or matching breath with movement, which are great at helping you learn to tame a wandering mind.
  5. If you can’t control your emotions…you might need yoga! Let’s face it, we all overreact over things sometimes. But if you find that you’re freaking out most of the time, or are having reactions to situations that you know deep down are out of proportion, then yoga may be just the thing you need. Yoga calms your nerves and helps to release stress and tension, which helps bring inner peace. When you have that, you’re able to see the situation for what it is and respond appropriately. And when you can do THAT, you may find you’re more comfortable sharing your feelings and thoughts with others.
  6. If you no longer enjoy social situations…you might need yoga! Today, social media is EVERYWHERE. And I don’t know about you, but most of what I see has shattered my self-esteem on more than one occasion. All those beautiful pictures of people looking so put together and happy all the time…well sometimes, when I am having a “less than perfect” day, it makes me feel inadequate when I see posts like that. Enter yoga. Yoga is great in helping you learn to leave your ego at the door and becoming comfortable with who you are. I won’t lie to you…it’s not always easy to do this. Sometimes, it involves tears and frustration to get yourself to the point where you learn to love yourself unabashedly. But when that finally happens, like FOR REAL, you won’t believe how confident you’ll feel! And when you’re confident, you’ll feel more comfortable around others in a group setting.
  7. If you can’t cope in healthy ways…you might need yoga! When things get tough, do you turn to alcohol? Drugs? Food? If the habits you have are not good for you in the long run, then maybe it’s time to ditch those habits for some that ARE. Yoga is a practice that sees health and happiness as a lifelong journey, so establishing a regular yoga practice for yourself might just be the best habit you ever adopt. I mean, who doesn’t want to be happy and healthy?
  8. If you can’t breathe…you might need yoga! Now to be fair, I’m not talking about not being able to breathe AT ALL. If that’s happening, you need to call 911, baby! But, if your typical breathing is shallow, or if you sometimes feel like you aren’t remembering to breathe easily, then yoga can help. Yoga puts a HUGE emphasis on proper breathing, reminding us to pay close attention to our inhales and exhales and to deepen the breath. Usually, when we breathe shallowly or forget to breathe, it’s because of stress we’re not able to properly deal with. This deep breathing we learn in yoga helps to calm the mind, which releases that stress we’re holding onto. And when we can do that, breathing properly simply becomes second nature.
  9. If you have poor posture…you might need yoga! Do you sit for long periods at a computer screen? Do you constantly complain of a sore back or neck? If you can’t keep your spine in proper alignment due to long periods of sitting or standing in a non-ergonomic way, yoga might just become your new best friend. A physical yoga practice helps you build strength and flexibility, which can lead to better alignment in the things your body does. Yoga also helps us become more aware of what our bodies are doing, so it becomes easier to recognize when we’re doing something incorrectly.
  10. If your body is stiff…you might need yoga! When you get out of bed each morning, your muscles and joints might experience a stiffness you can’t seem to shake. It might even be downright painful. This only gets more challenging as we get older, as it becomes more difficult with age to stay limber. Yoga postures can help not only to stretch the muscles, but they also help to lubricate the joints. You’ll feel like a spring chicken in no time!

Do any of these signs resonate with you? I’m willing to bet the answer is yes for a good number of you reading this. If so, then you’ve already accomplished the big step of becoming aware of what you need. Now all you need to do is take the necessary steps to start incorporating yoga as a regular part of your life…either for the very first time, or to re-establish what you know can make you feel oh so good!



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