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!

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“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

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(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!

Namaste,

Melanie

“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. 

Namaste,

Melanie

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
(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!

Namaste,

Melanie

Sorry for the lateness in this post, but this month’s post is the speech I gave in my Toastmasters International Speech Contest, and I wanted to wait until after the contest to post it in written form.

The contest was tonight, and I came in 3rd place. I am happy with that, because I delivered the speech pretty much the way I wanted to, and several people came up to me afterwards and thanked me for sharing my story.

I know this is typically a yoga blog, but this speech is one I think resonates perfectly with the philosophy of yoga. When we make the choice to step on our mats, we’re putting ourselves out there…sometimes, it means facing our fear of practicing in a room full of others when we feel “less than” because we get stuck in the art of comparing ourselves to everyone else. Sometimes it means facing personal demons, because yoga can bring up some pretty deep stuff…sometimes, things surface for me that bring me to tears and wondering, “Where the heck did THAT come from???”

However, every time we make the choice to step on our mats, we are making the choice to DO SOMETHING for ourselves. And in turn, that translates into giving us a better chance at being able to do something for others who may need us.

So, without further ado, here is the speech I gave…I hope it resonates with you.

hands(Photo courtesy of Simply Accessible)

I started off by singing the first verse from “With My Own Two Hands”, which is a wonderful song by Ben Harper…here’s the verse:

“I can change the world, with my own two hands
Make a better place, with my own two hands
Make a kinder place, oh with my, oh with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands”

Let me ask you something. What does it take before you will do something for someone else? If you knew it didn’t have to be something big, like money, or even a huge amount of your time, would it change your answer in any way? How many of you are thinking, “Well…it depends.”?

A couple of months ago, I was listening to a storytelling podcast called “The Moth” and heard the story “Luminaria” by Denise Scheurmann. This story centers around the time when she was 15 years old. Her dad was terminally ill and in the hospital during the holiday season. As you can probably imagine, she, her mother, and her brother were consumed with everything they were having to deal with. They felt alone, and the holidays were not on their minds AT ALL. As they were coming home from the hospital on Christmas Eve, they noticed as they entered their neighborhood that the luminarias were lit. It was a tradition in their neighborhood to light them each year and place them along their driveways and sidewalks to welcome in Christmas. They thought, “Our house will be the only one not lit up”, and that just got them even more down. But as they drove up to their house, they saw that their luminarias were lit. An anonymous neighbor (or neighbors…they never did find out) had decided to do something for this family to make sure they felt included in the neighborhood tradition.

That may seem like a small thing, but to this family, it meant the world. Denise said it made them realize they were not alone, and that people cared. In fact, she said that years later, when she was going through a divorce, remembering what her neighbors had done all those years ago helped her get through many dark moments.

Denise’s story resonated with me, because it made me think of my own story a bit. For those of you who may not know, I was diagnosed with Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease in late 2012. That diagnosis came after more than a year of knowing that SOMETHING was wrong with me, but not knowing exactly what. I spent thousands of dollars on tests that showed nothing definitive. I thought I was crazy because many doctors told me it was all in my head or was just due to “stress”. I lost many important people in my life because they couldn’t deal with me talking about it so much and thought I was just looking for attention. During that time, and many times since, I’ve often felt alone. Lyme Disease has taken over my life.

However, God has amazing timing. He has placed several people in my path who have done for me what Denise’s neighbors did on that long ago Christmas Eve. They’ve made my world a better place, and they probably don’t even realize they’ve done anything at all.

I’m what you call a “functioning” sick person. You might be asking, “What does that mean?” Well, I go to my job, and I take care of myself and my family most days. I even exercise pretty regularly. Most people don’t even realize I’m sick. I don’t LOOK sick. Many people think, “If she’s REALLY sick, then shouldn’t she be in a wheelchair or something?” People don’t have a clue how to deal with someone like me. They don’t understand how many things I love that I’ve had to give up in order to “function” and make it through each day without being a burden. It can be pretty lonely.

In hopes of finding anything that could help me make sense of what I was dealing with both physically and emotionally, I stumbled across a blog called My Color is Lyme, written by a woman named Jennifer. Her post, Confessions of a “Functioning Lymie”, brought me to tears. It was like I wrote that post! The whole time I was reading, I was nodding my head in agreement, exclaiming, “Yes…YES! That’s it, exactly!” Like me, Jennifer struggled with various health issues for a long time before finally getting a diagnosis. Like me, she “functions” by being able to continue going to work each day and taking care of herself and her pets. And, like me, many people in her life walked away because they assume she is fine and should stop complaining.

People suffering, but “functioning”, like Jennifer and I, don’t usually feel comfortable putting their story out there for the world to see, because they’re afraid of backlash and more abandonment. But Jennifer decided to do something, and by sharing her story, she has given me (and I’m sure many others) a bit of hope. She had the courage to put into words what I was unable (or, if I’m being honest, unwilling) to.

You never know who might be going through a tough time. There have been others who, like Jennifer, have made me feel less alone. Sometimes simply asking, “Is there anything I can do?” is enough.

Think back to Denise’s story. It probably took all of 5 minutes to light those luminarias. No big deal. But what WAS a big deal was those neighbors decided to do something. A something that meant the world to this family, giving them a bit of happiness not just for that evening, but for a lifetime. To this day, that small gift is still giving Denise some comfort.

At the end of her story, Denise challenged her audience to write their names and numbers down and give it to someone right then and there, as a reminder that they are never alone. How powerful is THAT? Another example of something that seems like a small thing to do. But imagine how it would feel to someone who is going through a tough time, someone who feels like they’re all alone in the world…imagine how seeing that little note from you might be what is needed to lift them up and remind them that someone cared enough to do something.

Author Samuel Johnson said, “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” I ask you, in closing, to think about that for a minute. What is the something that YOU can do to make the world a better, kinder place…with your own two hands?

That last line, “with your own two hands”, I sang as a way to tie back to the song I opened with. 

Namaste,

Melanie

 

“To be hopeful in bad times is based on the fact that human history is not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” ~~ Howard Zinn

Happy February, everyone! I sure hope the start to your 2017 has been filled with positivity and happiness. Unfortunately, if you’re one of my readers here in the United States, I fear that many of you may be having a bit of trouble with positivity and happiness right now. I’m not going to go into politics…Goodness knows we’re getting bombarded by that everywhere right now. But what I will be talking about here in this post…well, I just hope that it does at least a little bit to lift your spirits if you’re feeling a bit out of sorts.

Throughout the month of January, I found myself getting all out of sorts with a variety of things. I had a lot of different things going on with my full-time job, with Toastmasters, with my family, with my yoga classes. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about when I say that it was one of those phases where I’d committed to WAY too many things. I think we’ve all found ourselves in this situation at some point in our lives, am I right?

Well, there I was, completely stressed out over trying to do too many things, and feeling like I was being pulled in all sorts of directions at once. I noticed that I was more short-tempered. My sleep was impacted. I was cursing over every little thing. My Lyme symptoms started to flare up. I felt like a HUGE failure! Try as I might, I just wasn’t able to provide the self-care I needed to keep things in check.

If this had only gone on for a day or two, things would have been just fine. But here I am, five weeks in, and things are still feeling out of control. I do see an end in sight, but some damage has been done, emotional and physical, that needs to be addressed.

Thankfully, this last weekend, I had the opportunity to get away for a weekend workshop on Restorative Yoga. It was held at a beautiful yoga studio in Mount Airy, NC called Sacred Space. It was just what I needed!

I was fortunate that my friend, Lidia, was able to join me. She lives in my area, so we drove there together and rented a nice room at a super cute B&B called Heart & Soul. When we checked in, we were in awe of how gorgeous this place was! We were within walking distance to the yoga studio, so we decided to enjoy the beautiful weather and walk over.

For those of you who don’t know, Mount Airy is the town that Andy Griffith’s town of Mayberry was modeled after. We enjoyed looking at all the stores, and we were even treated to an old-timey police car driving by us. Already, I was smiling, which I sorely needed at that moment.

The workshop was small, with only seven of us in attendance. When I took my first Restorative Training, there were over 30 people. Don’t get me wrong…that was a great training. But I’ve always preferred the smaller trainings, where you can really get to know each other and walk away feeling you’ve made at least one true friend for life.

me_lidia_sacredspace
(Me and Lidia, after training on Sunday)

By spending so much time on the mat in a gentle and restorative practice, I was able to sit with my thoughts, really dig in to what’s going on with me, and show myself a little compassion. By spending some quality time making an effort to begin and grow friendships, I feel I was able to walk away being able to show compassion for others a little more effectively. It’s amazing how, when you really stop to think about it, we are all part of a web of people who love US, and who WE love. This web is growing all the time, as long as you take that time to allow compassion in.

So to my friends who read this blog, and to my readers who I may never have met in person: If all the things going on in the world right now seem to be too much to bear, show yourself some compassion. Find the time to make time for YOU, incorporating any self-care rituals that rejuvenate and empower you. Find a way to reconnect with old friends, do something that will allow you to make some new friends, tell your best friends and family how life wouldn’t be the same without them. Be there for them, showing them compassion as they may be working through tough times, too.

Tap in to this compassion, rooting yourself to the present. You might find it’s just what you need to reset and recharge.

Namaste,

Melanie

Many times over the years, I’ve been asked for a variety of recommendations. Things like:

  • What yoga mat should I buy?
  • What are the best yoga pants?
  • What are your favorite books?

You get the idea. Well, here is a start to things I’ve recommended over and over again to my friends and students, and I always get great feedback that I was spot on. So here is the first of hopefully many posts for things I recommend that can help you immensely in your journey to better health and wellness. This particular post is centered around yoga recommendations, so here we go.

a-few-of-my-favorite-things
(Photo courtesy of Guide to Secret and the Law of Attraction)

Yoga Mats

My favorite yoga mat — and I have had MANY of them since I began practicing in 1999 — is the Manduka PRO Yoga and Pilates Mat, Black Magic,71″. This mat is thicker than average, which is great for people like me who have joint issues. Plus, I don’t care how hot of a yoga class I’ve attended, I never slip when I take this mat with me. I sweat — a LOT! And prior to having this mat, I could never go to hot classes because I always felt like I would hurt myself…I would slip as soon as I started to sweat. But once I got this mat, it was smooth sailing! I’ve had my mat since 2009, and it still looks brand-new…and I use it a LOT! It’s expensive but worth the money.

If you travel and can’t take a mat this thick, the Manduka PROLite Yoga and Pilates Mat, Midnight, 71″ travels better and is also a bit cheaper.

Yoga Shoes

Next up…my favorite yoga shoes! These Merrell Women’s Tango Posh Zip Sneakers Shoes [Black] [7.5] shoes are awesome because they are super light and bendy, so I can wear them when I am teaching (my feet get cold when I am not actually doing the practice with my students, and I also don’t like my feet getting dirty by walking around on a floor that might not have been cleaned). Even when I’ve practiced yoga, I’ve worn these shoes because they really do feel like I am wearing nothing. Yet when I need to leave and move on to the next event, these shoes are super comfy so I don’t even have to change into a different pair.

Yoga Pants

Now for yoga pants…there are so many options! But I love the leggings Reebok has, as they are not super expensive, and they last a long time. Plus, when you’re doing yoga poses that require you to “stick”, you don’t want slippery pants, and you want pants that let you breathe so you don’t get too hot. I love these Reebok Women’s Elite Tights from Reebok, because I love the pattern…it’s quirky and funky, like me!

But if you would rather pants with a bit more of a feminine look, then the Reebok Womens Tree Tight might work better. Same material, so you should experience the same benefits as mentioned above.

Yoga Tops

In terms of yoga tops, that is SO hit or miss for me. I tend to get really hot and sweaty if I am practicing a vinyasa style, so I like something that breathes and moves with me…something very light and stretchy, but that doesn’t look skin tight. That is not easy to find! I tend to love tanks by Next Level, and I love this Next Level Women’s Stylish Soft Tri Blend Racerback Tank Top because it’s not too tight and typically runs true to size.

However, when I am in a more gentle or restorative class, I want to be warmer and tend to prefer long sleeves. Again, I love Next Level, as they make a super comfy Ladies’ Burnout Hoody that is the perfect amount of thickness, AND I can wear it to more than just yoga.

 So there you are. A few of my favorite things that always help me have a more amazing yoga practice. Stay tuned for more of these, which will cover books I recommend, as well as various things I use to help me in my journey to health and wellness.

Namaste,

Melanie

“Start wherever you are and start small.” ~~ Rita Baily

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” ~~ Steve Jobs

“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.” ~~ Alan Cohen

Here we are at the beginning of a new year. 2017…wow! Where did 2016 go? It seems like just yesterday was the beginning of 2016, and it feels like this entire past year went by in such a blur for me in so many ways.

So many big things happened for me this past year. I completed several of my Toastmasters goals, I completed my RYT-500 (finally!!!), I started a new job, I became certified as an integrative health and wellness coach. I lost my dog Ripley to cancer and a week later, we rescued a 1-year old lab/pointer mix who we named Panda…Panda has been a constant companion to our other dog, Lexie, and because he is so social, we are now members of an amazing dog park in our town…this has been great for ME, because I’ve made some new friends there, and I am able to get a lot of trail hiking in at this place, which is a form of not only exercise, but meditation for me. I bit the bullet and hired a personal trainer, and with the help of his team and my medical team, I am finally starting to see some changes after so long feeling like a failure.

So what does all this mean for me in this new year? How do I want to approach 2017 and make it a great year for me? Making New Year’s resolutions have not typically gone well for me in the past. When I look back over the years, I haven’t done a very good job about making and sticking to my resolutions. And let’s face it, this happens to most of us, and then what happens? We feel like failures, right?

Luckily, I’ve learned about SMART goal setting recently. Well, to be fair, I learned about SMART goal setting a long time ago, but I just didn’t pay attention…I guess I just wasn’t quite ready to get serious before, if I’m being completely honest. But now…well, let’s just say I am ready. I feel like I’ve finally found my groove, and I’ve got some amazing people who are willing to help hold me accountable, so I am much more confident about finding success this time around.

2017 provides me with the invitation for fresh thinking. It’s my time to ignite, and I want to invite you to join me. Let’s consider this a time of new beginnings.

Yoga can offer a compassionate approach to making changes. If you’re a yogi like me, one thing you can do to help you along the way is to use your body in tandem with your breath so that you can mindfully mark the transitions you’re making.

Once you’ve set your goals, actively work toward each one without judging yourself when the process takes longer or is less flawless than you’d like. If you do slip into an old habit, don’t beat yourself up…simply decide to start again. As a matter of fact, with SMART goal setting, it’s imperative that you check in with your goals regularly and reevaluate them, making adjustments as needed. It takes strength and trust in oneself to be willing to begin again; starting new is no easy task, especially if you feel like you’ve failed over and over again. If you have any self-awareness at all, then you probably know which behaviors are no longer serving you, and you sincerely want to overcome them. Be brave and let those old stories melt away. Use the breath to move into a conscious state of presence. Each exhale is a letting go. Each inhale is an opening. Breathe with intent when approaching your goals.

One of my overarching goals in yoga is to improve my shoulder mobility. Just four years ago, I could interlace my fingers behind my back with my arms straight, I could do Gomukhasana arms with no props, I could take a bind in Extended Side Angle, and I could do several advanced poses like Handstand and Bird of Paradise. But treatment for Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease has increased the inflammation in my body to a point that my entire body has paid the price, and my shoulders and legs seem to have it the worst. I would love to be able to get my body back to a point where I can do the arm binds I once used to, but I don’t want to frustrate myself, so I am setting a SMART goal of the following:

I will perform shoulder mobility exercises daily for at least 5 minutes and will reevaluate after three weeks. I’m starting small, because I think that starting big might overwhelm me; some of the exercises I will be using during this time are:

  • Gomukhasana arms with a strap…I’ll monitor my ability to get closer to not needing that strap.
  • Use a strap to interlace my fingers behind my back with straight arms and then folding into a Wide Legged Forward Fold. My goal will be to get my fingers closer together while keeping my arms straight.
  • Shoulder warm-up movements that take my shoulders through all the ranges of motion.
  • Neck warm-ups that help relieve neck tension, as that is contributing to my shoulder tightness.

After the three weeks are up, I’ll see where I’m at. If I am seeing improvements, I will add on some more challenging movements so that I can keep improving. If I’m not seeing improvements, I will work on finding the movements that will help me reach my goal. But the one thing I will NOT do is give up. Achieving this goal is important to me, not because I want to be able to do the crazy binds like I used to, but because this inflammation in my shoulders is negatively affecting my life in so many ways. Everyday functional movements, like putting things away in the top shelf of my closet, are no longer easy for me and they SHOULD be. So I am not looking for the vanity aspect…I just want to be able to do the things I need to do with ease and comfort. If I should eventually get back the ability to bind, then that is something I’ll consider an added bonus, but it’s not my goal.

And to make this easier for me to achieve, my wonderful husband has built me a yoga room of my very own! My 45th birthday is this week (on January 5th), and my husband knows how difficult it is for me to find yoga classes at studios to attend. The ones offered at times I can make it are not the style I’m looking for…my body just can’t do hot yoga or power yoga right now, and that seems to be the majority of what my area offers during times I could go. So for my birthday, my husband turned our youngest daughter’s old room into my very own space where I can practice whatever style I want, whenever I want.

me_yogaroom(Here I am, setting up for my first meditation time)

It’s also serving as my office, so that I have a more comfortable place than my dining room to work when I work from home. And a more comfortable place to compose my blogs!

me_yogaoffice(My husband captured me as I was setting up to write this post!)

So what are your goals? Are they actionable? Have you broken them down into achievable chunks? If you need some guidance, reach out to me and I’m glad to offer any advice I can. More than anything, hold yourself accountable and enlist others to help hold you accountable. If your goals truly mean that much to you, then plan out the RIGHT way to achieve them. Set those SMART goals for yourself. And let yoga help you with achieving the mindset to make them happen.

Namaste,

Melanie

“When you let go, you create space for better things to come into your life.” ~~ Unknown

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had chronically tight hips. When I work on hip openers, it’s like some form of mild torture. Poses like Pigeon Pose, Cow Face Pose, Eagle Pose and Frog Pose simply frustrate me to no end. Even as a child, I just couldn’t seem to move my hips in the same way that my friends could, and I always felt like I was missing out on something. And in yoga, whenever I see someone in Lotus Pose (which, in my opinion, is the crème de la crème of hip opening poses), I stare longingly, knowing my body will never be able to achieve that pose.

It wasn’t until I was in the advanced portion of my yoga teacher training that I realized that there were a variety of things responsible for my hip issues. In Yoga Therapy training, I discovered that my bony hip structure is simply flawed. A physical therapist ran that training, and when she conducted a physical assessment of me, she discovered that my bony structure impediments were keeping me from achieving a full range of motion in my hips. For my body, if I move too deeply in certain directions with my hips, it becomes bone on bone action…and THAT is not good at all! Perhaps it was because I was a breech baby…it stands to reason that, while your body is forming in the womb, if it’s not optimally positioned, the way your body grows could be compromised.

Of course, I also have tight hip muscles. I think the majority of us probably do. In our western society, we spend a lot of time sitting at our desks, on the couch watching TV, and in our cars. This takes its toll on our poor hips, causing physical pain the tighter they get.

Tight muscles I can work on. But changing my bony structure…umm, I don’t think so!

It’s important to note, though, that hip issues are not always because of physical reasons. Our emotional health can affect our hips in a big way, believe it or not.

If you’re a yogi, then I’m willing to bet you’ve been to a yoga class where the teacher has mentioned that the hips is where our emotions are stored. One of my teachers referred to the hips as the body’s junk drawer, because it’s where we store the emotions we don’t know what to do with. That description has always resonated with me, because I can totally visualize the whole process…something happens that angers me (say, a co-worker has gotten on my last nerve) and I avoid dealing with the anger by “tucking it away” until a later time. Except that I usually don’t end up dealing with it. So my hips get tighter and more painful. Then one day, I’m in a yoga class that’s heavy on the hip openers, and I suddenly find myself sobbing without knowing why.

Anyone else ever experience that? I bet if you have cried in a yoga class before and you think back on it, you were probably in a lot of hip opening poses prior to the emotional release. It’s analogous to “emptying out” the junk drawer…sometimes, you have to purge that junk out so you can have some space!

For the month of December, we’ll be focusing on hip openers in my yoga classes. Let’s look at some things that may help you understand the connection your hips have with so many different things.

The Physical Side

Often, people initially come to yoga because of physical pain. When that physical pain is manifesting itself in your hips, it’s important to understand why. The hip is a ball and socket joint, making its range of motion more varied than some other joints (like the knee). The hip can be abducted, adducted, and rotated externally and internally.

Because of its varied range of motion, hip tightness can stem from a host of issues including tightness in the quadriceps, inner thighs, hamstrings, lateral rotators, and psoas. In fact, lower back pain often stems from tight hips and buttocks muscles.

It could also be due to an abnormality with your bony structure, like what I have. If you think this may be an issue for you, then working with a physical therapist or yoga therapist could be beneficial.

The Emotional Side

As I mentioned above, the hips are considered to be the emotional storehouse of our bodies, the place where we store our deepest vulnerabilities. I’ve been told that WHERE you feel tightness or pain in the hips determines WHAT emotional issue(s) you have.

For example, if you feel pain or tightness in the front of your hips (i.e., your psoas and hip flexors), it could mean you have some fear of what’s in store for your future. Though I can’t prove that connection (I just haven’t gotten that far along in my studies yet), I can tell you that I have chronically tight hip flexors. Back when I was running regularly, I could chalk it up to that and deny I had any emotional issues. However, though I do still bike regularly (which also would contribute to tight front hips), it’s not the only reason I’ve got tight front hips. I must admit that I definitely fear for my future. When you have a chronic illness like I do, it’s hard not to worry about that stuff. I constantly worry about getting too sick to work, getting fired from my job because my brain fog has finally irritated enough of my co-workers that they clamor for me to be shown the door, and not being around long enough to see my daughters grow up into the strong women I know they will be. There are other things I worry about in terms of my future, but these are the ones that keep me up at night…and apparently the ones that keep my hips tight!

Similarly, if you experience tightness or pain in the back of the hips, which may include lower back and glutes, then maybe you’re having trouble letting go of the past. My back side is not as tight as my front side, though I do have tightness there, too. And I must confess that I sometimes find myself thinking of those “what if” scenarios. What if I’d focused more when I was a Russian major at UCONN and actually graduated when the rest of my friends did? What if I wasn’t so naive? I could go on, but you get the idea and hey…a girl’s gotta keep SOME secrets, right?

The point is this. If you are chronically tight somewhere in your hips, then it’s worth exploring why. If you can’t trace it back to a physical reason, then what might you be holding on to emotionally that is not serving you?

How to Open Your Hips

The hips are a tricky area of the body to open up. From a physical perspective, the hip muscles are surrounded by thick connective tissue. This means you have to spend some time in these poses to actually loosen up in this area. If you’re only spending 30-45 seconds in these poses, you probably won’t notice much benefit. Ideally, you should be spending 2-5 minutes in each pose if you want the full benefit. This may mean you need to learn to sit with discomfort, both physical and emotional. It can be uncomfortable to face your past and your future, but face them you must in order to truly let go and open up (How’d you like my Yoda reference? I’m super excited about the new Star Wars moving coming out this month!).

Once you’re in a hip opening pose, use your breath to help you. Focus on bringing your inhales directly into the spot you’re focusing on, and use your exhales to “let it go”. This can do wonders in helping to create the space you need in your hips.

There are three hip opening poses that I think should be done daily by everyone if at all possible, as they are wonderful in targeting the most troublesome areas of the hips. They are:

  1. Modified Runner’s Lunge. I strongly suggest doing this one with the back knee on the ground, and work on squaring your hips to the front as you sink into it (check out what that looks like here). This will really help to open up the psoas and hip flexors.
  2. Pigeon Pose. There are so many variations of this pose, so there truly is a version for you, even if you have bad knees. This one is great for tackling the outer hips…especially those glutes! Below is a pic of my friend in one of the variations.
  3. Reclining Twist. This is another pose that has so many variations. I love the version where you come into the twist with Eagle legs or Figure 4 legs, as it gets into the outer hips more, and especially targets the IT band.

There are so many other great poses that help with the hips. Some of my other favorite hip openers are:

I asked a couple of my yogi friends what their favorite hip openers were, and they graciously agreed to send me a picture of them in their fave pose, along with why they like it so much. Here’s what my friend, Pam Johnson, had to say:

“I’ve always carried a lot of stress and trauma in my hips, going all the way back to my teenage years. When I was first introduced to Pigeon, I would almost invariably cry each time after practicing it. Now I seek it out as a pose of comfort and healing; a place to allow the stress to seep out before my body holds onto it.”

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(This is Pam in a modified Pigeon Pose…doesn’t she look serene?)

My friend, Rita Hines, said this:

“I love Malasana because it is a great hip opener and a release for the low back as well.”

malasana
(This is Rita in Malasana…I think she looks rather meditative here, don’t you?)

When you begin to release stored tension, you can open up wounds — the wounds from the trauma or stress that is being stored in your hips and caused the tension. So if you feel a rush of emotions in these poses, it’s a good thing.

Emotions are healthy. Historically, people have been taught to remain poised and collected at all times. Doing that makes it’s easy to suffocate those emotions so they don’t come out. However, I think that today, it’s becoming more and more acceptable to show your emotions.

Give yourself permission to explore these wonderful poses. Permission to be OK with letting your emotions out on your mat. If you come to one of my classes, you’ll see me smile when I notice a student finally let go of something huge.

It can be hard. It can make you cry, and it can even make you angry. But working through whatever emotions arise allows you to move forward. Which allows you to open up space in your life for love, compassion and positivity. It allows you to just be … happy.

Namaste,

Melanie

“I have worn my heart on my sleeve because it is too painful to carry it inside my chest. When I carry it on my sleeve, it has the freedom to exist, to beat in rhythm with the Universe. I feel like I’m more alive and yes, there are those who out of curiosity will say or do things that can cause its delicate existence to feel pain and sorrow. I would rather deal with that, than to put it back in its little cage where it knows nothing else but the rhythm of my body and my Ego. My heart was never meant to be part of my Ego. My heart was meant to experience the Soul.” ~~ C. C. Campbell

It’s been over two months since I last posted. Believe me when I say that it wasn’t my intention at all to take a hiatus. It’s weird, since I’ve been posting monthly, and sometimes even more than that, for years now. But as I mentioned in my last post, I enrolled in an Integrative Wellness & Life Coach program with the Integrative Wellness Academy, and I’ve been working really hard to make my way through. I decided that to focus on all the material the way I needed to, I needed to cut back in some areas. Unfortunately, my blogging was where I decided to cut, temporarily. But now….I’m BAAACK!!!

At this point, I’ve completed my program, and literally just found out that I passed…with a 100% on both the final exam and the practicum! Let me just say that I truly feel I chose a stellar organization for my certification. They are totally in line with everything I believe, and I love that the focus is on addressing all four areas of a person…Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual. If you aren’t addressing all four when coaching a client, then science shows that the ability to make lasting changes is not as likely. I am so excited to start working with people. I’ve got a few already, who I’ve been working with for free, so that I can get more practice and build my confidence. I hope they know how grateful I am for their willingness to put their trust in me to help them through the things they are trying to work on.

Throughout this entire process, I’ve been going through the process of being coached myself. After all, how can I expect to help others and feel confident that the tools and techniques work if I haven’t been through the process myself, right?

As I made my way through my own “stuff”, I realized I had a lot of deficiencies in the emotional realm. I don’t typically do a good job managing my stress, I don’t express my feelings very well when I am especially worked up about something, and I’m not one to relax and practice self-care by nature. So I spent a LOT of time working on these things over the past few months. And I must say, I really feel like I improved in this area tremendously. And the most important thing I did to get myself to the next level was to be more open.

Those of you who know me probably think I am already pretty open. But as I really dug deep within, I realized how much I bottle up my true feelings. I am always holding back, for fear of upsetting someone if I tell them what I REALLY think. And there are so many things that I’ve been through in my life that I have never shared with anyone. Not a SOUL!

But as I made my way through the process, I realized that all the things I’ve been through have made me who I am. And you know what? I actually, FINALLY, like who I am. No…scratch that…I LOVE who I am. Yes, that’s right…I actually LOVE myself. After all, how can I expect anyone else to love me if I don’t love myself?

Keeping everything inside for as long as I did…well, that’s what made me depressed. I felt like I had no one I could confide in. Or that people would judge me. And there were some things that I just needed to get off my chest, but I couldn’t. So I kept them inside and it festered. But going through this process made me realize that keeping things to myself — important things — is not healthy. And it’s selfish. Because there might be someone else out there, going through the same things I’ve been through, and maybe me sharing my story could help them. Help them realize they’re not alone, you know?

I’ve realized it’s necessary for me to speak my mind. I’ve been baby-stepping my way to that point, but I’ve definitely been able to be more open and honest lately. And while scary, it feels good.  To be able to be ME is kind of refreshing! And I feel like I’ve got WAY less ego than before. When I take on something, I am definitely thinking more about whether or not it is in line with who I am, rather than if it will get me “noticed”. So definitely less ego involved.

And as I go, I find more and more happiness. That’s what it’s all about. We should be doing things in our lives that make us happy. For many of us, it’s doing things for others. Whatever it is for you, make sure you’re doing it from your heart and not from your Ego. Once you get to that point, you will be amazed at how much lighter you feel…how much happier you will be.

Go ahead…give it a try. I dare you!

Namaste,

Melanie

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