Hallmark Calling.

Insecurities are bred in the card isle at Walgreens. There, on the shelves, sit rows and rows of love, adequacy, and self-worth- all for $3.99. There are simple cards, singing cards, cards with glitter, cards with poems, cards laden with sexual innuendos, and cards with pop ups designed to give you a mother f***ing heart attack…all ripe for the picking.

 

As humans we seem to be wired to put so much stock in holidays and the “stuff” that comes with it. We tend to project misguided expectations upon our significant others to create a Disney inspired magical date night that most assuredly will not measure up. We put our self-worth into a ubiquitous card that anyone can purchase. We squeeze an entire relationship into a thin white envelope and hope it accurately conveys all the complexities of our existence. We use these holidays as a benchmark to determine if we are ok enough, loved enough, or worthy enough. But why? Why have we diminished ourselves to thinking that the cards or gifts we receive on holidays, like Valentine’s Day, are all we are worthy of?

 

We spend so much energy focusing on external things to bring us feelings of adequacy and joy instead of looking inward to find all the reasons to love ourselves. It is like staring at your kitchen waiting for it to produce a 5 course meal (or if you are like me, staring at the door hoping Favor shows up with Whataburger). Without doing the prep work- the measuring, the stirring, and the kneading you can’t possibly expect anything to come of your kitchen. You are putting all the pressure on an external factor to satisfy you, when true satisfaction comes from knowing the ingredients intimately and making them work for you. The sweet, the bitter, the raw and the overcooked all work together to create a unique flavor profile that only YOU can produce. The same goes for external proclamations of love- if we don’t do the self-love work we will never be satisfied, we will always be hungry for more. More ubiquitous cards, more empty gifts, more over-the-top proclamations of love.

 

When you find worth and value within yourself regardless of external messages, you will find internal boundless love- a love that is there when you are at your best and your worst. A love that is there on holidays and regular old Tuesdays. You will find peace in knowing your value isn’t tied to anything tangible or fleeting- it is within YOU. You will find that the self-assurance you have within  is bigger and better than any over-sized, glittery singing card you will find on aisle 4 of Walgreens.

 

I will warn you though…with a wealth of self-love you might find Hallmark knocking on your door asking for notes on love and minions…

 

"You're one in a minion" - I'm totally turning this into a Valentine's Day card

Happy Valentine’s Day! You really are one in a minion.

Xo, Elaine

Move Ahead With Grace.

Well, it’s January 9th.

Are you a changed person yet? Have you overhauled your life and completely changed the direction of your sails? I haven’t. In fact, I’m still floating in the ocean trying to decide which course to take.  I’m studying the paths that lay ahead, charting where I want to end up, and the storms that may lay inbetween.

The New Year is an odd time for me. I feel motivated but also discouraged. I feel laden with expectation to reinvent myself and become anew. But, January 1st for all intents and purposes is a manmade day on the calendar. It’s not magical and, to be honest, neither are you. You can’t wake up a new person, you can’t wake up 10 pounds thinner, or more organized. But, you can wake up more present, and more intentional in how you treat yourself. So, this year instead of racing to a January 1st laundry list of resolutions I’m giving myself the gift of time. Time to plot my course, make amends with myself for unresolved resolutions, and to be ok with the journey into self-love and discovery.

This past weekend I set off on a mission to indulge myself with a little time to reflect. My husband gave me a trip to Lake Austin Spa for Christmas which felt more like a cosmic gift than a Christmas gift. It seemed to be written in the stars for me to step away from everything and invest in myself. It was time for me to be alone and reset.

IMG_9561It is safe to say I receive my loudest messages from the universe when I internalize and unplug. As I let myself become entranced with the calm, uninterrupted flow of the water in the lake I kept hearing the word GRACE. Water is the most graceful element to me-the way it rolls in and out, flows with ease and moves in tandem with the elements around it. Sure it surges and breaks along the shore because nothing is perfect, but the energy of water is calm and understanding.

This inspired me to reset my way of thinking about resolutions. Instead of setting bullet point resolutions, I chose to use the word GRACE as an acronym for a softer approach to traditional resolutions.

 

GRACE

Be patient and kind with yourself. Ultimately, making effective behavioral changes results from a change in how we think about ourselves. Everything begins with the self, so be kind. Don’t let resolutions be an excuse for negative self-talk.

There are plenty of times where I have witnessed my negative self-talk taking over my daily life. I had to bring awareness to this bad habit and squash it. You become what you think, and telling yourself you aren’t good enough leads to a downward spiral of insecurity and coping behaviors that don’t behoove us.  No matter what space you are in, in life, you are enough. You are powerful and full of purpose.

 

REFLECTION

I know there is so much talk out there about not living in the past, and as much as I believe this to be true, I do, however, find it helpful to reflect on the past year as I start a new one. I like to look back on my year and think about what I want to bring with me and what I want to release.

A healthy amount of reflection leads to more awareness and understanding of oneself and where we want to go. It’s also a good time to take stock and get curious about bad behaviors or habits that have formed, or unhealthy dynamics that have crept into our relationships. Don’t live in reflection- just visit, take notes and leave. Be accountable for yourself- you can only grow by doing the self work. Making peace with it all, including making peace with not being at peace, will bring out the best in you.

 

ACCEPTANCE

This is a hard one. Accepting WHAT IS- not what should be or what could be is a lifelong journey.  As humans we are wired to want more -to want new -to want what the other has, but honestly, that’s all an illusion. For example, I found myself on Pinterest the other day skimming images of Joanna Gaines’ latest renovation project saying to myself.. ‘I think I want her life. She has the perfect hair, perfect family and perfect kitchen’. But then I reminded myself that I have no idea what’s she’s up against, or what the true realities of her life are. I’m only seeing the curated Joanna.

After I came out of my Joanna haze, I slowly got out of bed and walked into my living room to find that my adorable dog had taken a value sized dump under our Christmas tree (that I have yet to take down). As I was picking up the mess, my daughter runs downstairs without a shirt on- she is in a “I want to be naked all the time” phase which is posing to be an issue that I am currently refusing to deal with. In an attempt to remain calm and rational, I nicely ask her to put a shirt on. She walked right past me and very bluntly said, “NO!” I then walked into our TV room to find half a dozen Whataburger wrappers strewn across my floor. You see, my son has a very common teenage disorder- it’s called ‘I cannot pick up after myself,’ which inhibits the use of all limbs and common sense. It’s very a serious condition but not life threatening…yet.

I very quickly went from a fantasy vision to being slapped in the face with my own reality- but I reminded myself that this is only a moment in time, not a forever. And, I’m going to guess that with 4 kids (going on 5) Joanna has a few of these days herself.  Being okay and loving exactly where you are IS what ultimately gets you closer to your resolution goals or something better.

 

CAREFUL EDITING

As I mentioned, I think it is just as important to assign what needs to go as it is what needs to stay. It’s healthy to shed old ways of thinking or doing that no longer serve you. Letting go of unrealistic expectations can propel you forward.

I did a little editing in 2017 when I pulled back on my yoga practice. I love yoga and it has helped me find that peace and equanimity that I so desire. However, I started to notice that I was putting pressure on myself to do more and be more in my yoga sessions, which started to take the joy out of it for me. I came to the awareness that the pressure I was putting on myself to be better at yoga was in exact contradiction to why I started doing yoga in the first place. I also had the realization that I was falling into this type of thinking and behavior in other areas of my life-  primarily my career. I am only one human being, and only capable of so much so I had to force myself to release unrealistic expectations and only commit to what is reasonable so that I can give it my whole heart. I am not an advanced yogini or a pantsuit business tycoon- I am a peaceful warrior in all aspects of my life.  Release the pressure to perform- we are our best selves when we are free. 

 

EMBRACE WHAT’S WORKING

I like to think of the final step as a way to simply embrace what’s already working and begin building on those things moving forward. So after you given yourself GraceReflected on where you were and where you want to be, Accepted your present reality, and Carefully edited what no longer serves you, you can now fully Embrace what’s working and build on it.  Acknowledging the good that you have already done this past year and exploring where that can take you- rather than pressuring yourself to become a completely new person- feels more doable, harmonious and hopeful.  Embrace the ‘you’ that you have worked so hard to become. Life is a series of rebirths and every ‘you’ is worth celebrating. 

 

I truly believe this year will be full of triumph and magic for all of us. If we give ourselves grace, boundaries, and time we will learn to gently go with the flow. We may crash along the shore, but we will make waves of peace and harmony as we journey through a new year with self-love and respect.

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Wishing you a year of grace,

Elaine

International Yoga Day: Spreading the Awesomesauce with Athea Davis

I started doing yoga about four years ago, I guess you could say yoga found me. I was in a bit of a transition with my daughter’s care and needs at the time; I believe I intuitively knew I needed something to ground me. Four years later, I use yoga as a go-to tool for my physical and emotional well-being. It’s been a healing practice that has saved me in times of what seems like unmanageable stress.

I’ve now been through several phases with my yoga practice and, I can proudly say, I finally feel good about where I am. I did go through the oh-so-common phase of trying to be REALLY good at yoga. I would tell myself, “I’m going to perfect my yoga practice, I will achieve wheel pose if it kills me.” Hmmm… guess what, no I won’t. Wheel pose is not meant for a body like mine. Backbends aren’t my thing. I humbly discovered I had it all wrong.

Yoga isn’t about being good at it; it’s about being present.

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Yoga & My Family

About a year ago, I started to wonder if yoga could not only benefit me but also my family. As I began my research, I serendipitously became connected to Athea Davis with Solsense Yoga. She is truly a special soul. She is full of joy, light and her motto is “have an awesome sauce day!” Yet even with all that energy and happiness, Athea exudes an almost Buddha-like calmness.

She has been the perfect fit for my family. Most Saturday mornings when Athea arrives, there are two barking dogs, a 12-year-old daughter screaming “I’m too tired to do yoga!”, and two or three teenage boys barreling down our stairs. Yet, Athea always graciously walks in and simply says, “Who wants to do some yoga with me?” And, in her Zen-like way, says, “Whoever shows up is who’s supposed to be there.”

athea blog phooottoo

Athea Davis

Every Saturday looks a little different with our family. Whether it’s just me or my entire family, I have found one consistency throughout this past year working with Athea; her total and complete love and acceptance of my family. For that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you Athea.

Enjoy reading about Athea. She has changed my life and many others through the work she does bringing mindfulness tools to so many in need.

  1. What led you to choose yoga as a profession?

Athea: I often question if I chose yoga as a profession or if it chose me. My journey into teaching yoga felt like a very fluid and organic process. Before I started teaching yoga, I was at the top of my career in the corporate legal world. I was married for over ten years. I was enjoying motherhood. Yet, I felt very stuck and heavy in the life I was living. Something felt inauthentic about it all. I kept listening to this internal messenger and finally took a stand to live life as authentically as possible.

That meant leaving my marriage and embracing whole-heartedly the unpredictability of that dissolution. No marriage dissolution is easy. However, I would be remiss to not say, in addition to dissolving my marriage, I also came face-to-face with the reality that my former spouse was an alcoholic and suffered from depression. This entire process set me into a tailspin of unfathomable pain. So, I took my first yoga class. I felt an authenticity that I had never experienced. I had a teacher ask me if I ever thought about teaching because she felt I would be a natural. Now, with Sol Sense Yoga, I teach in schools, work with youth and families, create and lead professional development offerings for educators, create and lead workshops, lead trainings for burgeoning teachers and camp counselors, write, speak, and mentor youth in the juvenile justice system. I call it spreading the awesomesauce!

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  1. What led you to start Sol Sense Yoga?

I desired authorship and creative license. I had a vision of what yoga can offer for those that wanted a deeper experience and intuited a need and hunger from those around me for something more personal and intimate than what was being offered in a typical gym or studio type class. There’s nothing wrong with those types of offerings, they serve an important purpose, but for me personally, I had a desire to dig deeper into this thing called yoga with others, especially as it relates to taking yoga off the mat. I had a vision of offering a safe space where relationships hold the possibility to be built from a place of authenticity, love, and worth. Sol Sense Yoga isn’t just a health and wellness consulting business; it’s an embodiment of healing and connection. I infuse that vision into everything I do and every person I have the honor to connect with.

  1. In your opinion, what are the biggest health benefits of yoga?

Focus. Sustained concentration. Awareness. Emotional Self-Regulation. Connectedness. Wholeness. Love. Those words pretty much sum it up, and in no order. Those are the things that not only help us manage our elevated levels of stress, intense emotion, trauma, grief, and the pain and suffering we all experience in this beautiful journey of life, but they also hold the key to authentic living. Yoga has the power to heal from the inside out.

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  1. What is your favorite part of teaching yoga to Elaine’s family?

I love the laughter, the intimacy, and the realness with everyone (including the sweet “Buddha” dogs!). And, I value our Dharma Talks, or, in non-yogi speak, our philosophical conversations about how to live the most authentic and elevated life possible, both personally and professionally. Also, we are not in a studio or a school with a set of rules and etiquette to follow, which are necessary and wonderful things to have in that environment.

  1. What is your advice for people who have never tried yoga?

Get out there and do it. There’s a lot of information out there and keep in mind that there is a time and place for research. It doesn’t matter what variety you try, keep it simple and easy. Simple and easy varies from person to person. Maybe for you simple and easy means going to a community yoga class at your local gym, your neighborhood yoga studio, perhaps there’s a free class at a community event, or you download or live stream a class and try it in your own home. The access and opportunities are there, which is great, but they can be a bit overwhelming. Make it simple and easy. Commit to having the experience. Don’t worry about shopping around for the right kind of experience. Your experiences on the mat will lead you to the next steps and the next right place at the right time.

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To learn more about Athea Davis and Sol Sense Yoga, visit her website.

XOXO,

Elaine