Healing and a New Moon

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2014 is charging ahead. It is supposed to be ripe with opportunity and to favour the quick thinkers and decision makers. It is also full of new moons already! In less than three days, we will have a new moon again, the third one this year. This new moon will be in Pisces. I won't attempt to give you an astrological or mystical breakdown of what awaits, but I have come to appreciate new moons as mini new beginnings so I will do the same with this one. Also, the topic of healing came up (my husband compared me to Chiron... I'll write a separate post on that, ha!). As you may know, I suffered from sciatica for three years. It was excruciatingly painful and had absolutely no physical source (at least initially). I talked to a few new mothers this week and some of them told me about their experiences with lower back issues and also sciatica. Sciatica just like many other ailments and pains, usually stems from imbalance, emotional or physical. We can treat the symptoms but until we attack the root cause, the problem will keep returning. It took me another 2 years to get to the root and work on eliminating it and therefore reducing the pain and it took some pretty big changes in attitude and behavioural patterns. I was able to heal with a lot of support from others but mainly because I sought and went after more balance in my life.

Now this new moon on March 1st is in Pisces and asking for a closer look at some of our patterns, it is supposed to set a tone for pause and reflection while we consider where our energy has become totally out of balance.

There it is again: balance. The word pops up a lot. We talk about work-life balance, mind-body balance, balancing acts, balanced meals, the balance of power, standing balances and being well-balanced mentally.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

Balance is such an integrative part of our vocabulary but still, we rarely achieve it in our life. This upcoming new moon wants to remind us how to do it. It asks us to tune inward and listen. To pay attention to our dreams. To flow and be connected. To merge and take a break from mundane activities. My interpretation and what I'm intending to do (especially since it's coming on the weekend) is the following:

  • Seeing people that I don't often see and miss (!). I started today with a lovely lunch and it made me happy.
  • Engaging in activities that I love and that allow me to reflect. I will probably go for a run.
  • Taking some me time.
  • Trying to refrain from being impatient for x amount of hours per day. With others AND myself.
  • Preparing and savouring nourishing food. And ideally sharing it in lovely company.
  • Resting and taking a moment in the morning to reflect on my dreams.
  • Beginning or ending the day reminding myself of what I'm grateful for (and writing it down).
  • Writing down my dreams for the future as a way of manifesting them / announcing them to the Universe.

I can't believe we are almost in March. Three weeks and change until Spring. Could it be true?

Let me know what you will be doing for the new moon or what you have done to heal after a difficult emotional or physical setback.

I would love to hear from you!

xxR

How to overcome Fear

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Fear... we all have it. Some of us are more inclined to discuss fear (publicly) than others but we all want to know how to overcome it. When I say fear, I include phobias and anxiety, that dreaded feeling that makes us lose control and stops us from thinking clearly. I recently saw the photos in this article mentioned by and featuring Kathryn Budig (renowned yoga teacher) that shows people with writings on them that describe their fears and insecurities. Steve Rosenfield’s “What I Be Project” depicts his friends and famous people in a very vulnerable way and there is a beauty to it.

We live in a society where being strong dominates, so does being fast and successful, beautiful and confident. But the real strength, in my opinion, lies in showing people our vulnerabilities and owning them. In most cases, talking about them already relieves a burden and most people will probably offer a helping hand to help us overcome our fear.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to be more confident in front of a lens. Photo or video, particularly when I'm not moving but telling a story. And I do hope to share videos with you on topics around exercise, food, mood, motivation and body image. So look out for them.

In order to get there, I believe 5 things will help me:

  1. Just doing it: it's like that old band aid as a child. The quicker you pull it off the easier and less painful it is. Just doing it means trying it and not judging yourself. There really is nothing bad that will happen.
  2. Support from friends and family: as I mentioned above, talking about fear and anxiety is a first step to releasing some of the tension. Most people probably relate and will be more willing to come forward with theirs. Then, when the situation arises, make sure you have one of them by your side to squeeze your hand and tell you you're doing great!
  3. Practicing: make it a regular thing. When I started teaching classes, my heart was thumping and I was sure everyone could hear my voice trembling. With several classes a week, I am still a bit nervous at the start especially when new people are there but I can focus on other things more now. I talk to people, listen to their stories, laugh with them, because it's a routine now, the anxiety has made space for nicer things to focus on!
  4. Breathing: in most yoga classes you start with deep breathing. I start my class with the same. Breathing and releasing the tension in your abdomen from holding it in is super important. The deep inhales lift your chest up and make you feel powerful, the long exhales release anxiety and help you drop the shoulders which are probably up by your ears. Inhale tranquility - exhale anxiety.
  5. Being kind to myself: I am my biggest critic and I'll second-guess even if friends tell me it was good. So in this New Year's resolution, I also need to stop that. Being kind to ourselves means being accepting. Something we gladly extend to good friends. Being accepting of our own imperfections and the fact that everything is a process, is a major step to being more relaxed about our fears.

There... if I can do it, you can do it! Whether you get nervous about public speaking, fear flying, get anxious in new situations, I hope those five steps help you.

Let me know in the comments if you use some of these techniques and in general how YOU overcome fear! The sky's the limit - I dare you to embrace it!

xxR

PS: I'm afraid of heights, too. Hence the photo!

 

Organize, Enjoy, Repeat

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Today seems to be the first day in a long time that it is overcast and slightly cooler. A perfect day to tend to some business at home. Things that usually pile up because the summer lures us outside. Whenever I tackle the chaos at home, I usually start in my head. I like to make lists, look ahead and determine short term, mid range and long term goals. In my last post I mentioned manifesting and I would put that under long term goals. Manifesting or visualizing for me is a way of becoming clear about what I would like a the best outcome to be in the future. Mid range goals usually include my calendar for the upcoming week, including groceries (to be able to grab healthy snacks and cook well) and taking care of our dog, Zola. I try to get an idea of my husband's calendar, too but it tends to change on a daily basis.

Today is a short term goal kinda day, clean and store my workout equipment, clean the apartment, prepare my next sessions and decide which ice cream to make next in our new ice cream maker.

When I'm organized I tend to eat better, sleep better, create better and generally feel more at ease; but in a hectic city and being plugged in electronically 24/7 it is sometimes difficult to achieve. Some people hire others to help, them but what if that is not an option? My coach was pretty good at giving sound advice on this topic (and could be strict enforcing it) during my very active years. So here they are: tools necessary to organizing yourself despite what is thrown at you on any given day:

  1. Take a step back: don't dive in head first, you will exhaust yourself trying to do everything at once. Instead, take a step back and assess and then create a list of what needs to be addressed first, second, etc. Competing in five events and training for each one, taught me that it was probably less detrimental to miss a shooting practice than losing hours in the pool or on the track.
  2. Don't get distracted: mindfulness is beautifully described in this recent article: "This Simple Mental Trick can slow down Time". Pay attention to what you are doing and maybe you will find some fun in it. I never particularly enjoyed stretching before a swim practice but I tried to focus on each stretch and what its benefits were.
  3. Remember the big picture: if you feel like you failed at any given time, don't dwell on it too much. Things are still moving along. Who says you won't meet your goal? You're likely to cause more damage beating yourself up than remembering where you are headed and marching on. My coach was a master at creating semi-annual goals and remembering them throughout smaller setbacks. If I got sick, there was really nothing we could do than be patient and get back on the horse (literally!).
  4. Reward yourself: once you meet a deadline, achieve a goal or a part of it, celebrate it! Now that can be a very individual thing, whether you enjoy a good massage, a nice meal or quality time with friends it will all help you to be even better in the future. In athletic terms there is something called supercompensation when you take a sudden dip from a plateau before you soar to much better results. Recognizing that point of having reached a new high is important. Only through rest and contentment can we tackle new things.
  5. Do everything with focus and diligence: similar to not getting distracted this is even more important. Treat each task as if it was the most important one. Only then will you finish it satisfactory. If you clean the apartment (find help on Sous Style) but only parts of it instead of focusing on getting it all done, you will keep that nagging feeling that it's not quite right and not be happy with it. In sports, if I didn't give it my best when 100% were demanded in practice, meant that during my next competition I would be missing these important seconds, the speed, the agility or the endurance and precision.
  6. Delegate: ultimately, when you can't do it all yourself. Get help! This is particularly important in an office environment or in any other team environment really. You can't do it all by yourself. As much as I was a professional athlete in an individual sport, I was only as good as the support both practical and emotional that I received from my coach and others that wanted me to succeed.

I dare you to try it. Have a great weekend! Enjoy the calm after the storm.

Big Sur

 

Healing - A lifelong process

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In my first blog post on this site I talked about the benefits of physical activity to overcome grief. But overcoming grief for me hasn't necessarily been the same as healing myself. The more I listen to people and read about this topic, the more I see how grief is an incredibly individual thing whereas there are broader approaches to healing that can benefit more than one person. For example meditation or any of the other four ways that can help lead a balanced lifestyle (exercise, eat everything in moderation, keep good company and switch off your tech!) can be good for healing too. In general calming the senses and tuning back inside is important to realize that something is off. That can be just temporary and our body's cry for rest, or issues that have gone on for a long time where we need to change our habits to turn the ship around.

But what does healing actually mean and what do we need healing from? Healing literally means to make whole, to restore the health of an unbalanced, unhealthy body. I believe that as babies we come into this world whole. Then life chips away at us and usually our immune system (both physical and emotional) can cope pretty well but there are life events or patterns that hurt us on a deeper level and have the ability to derail us and make us sick.

For a long time I didn't really notice that I needed healing. My life was always busy - with my sport at first - then with moving and living in New York. Relationships seemed fine while they lasted and hurt for the appropriate amount of time when they broke up. Until several years ago when a particularly long relationship ended and the change of moving from a home that I had co-created back to a share with strangers, threw me off. It coincided with a difficult workplace situation and all the talking with my friends still left me clueless as to how to turn around my situation and go back to being fearless and carefree. However, once I realized I needed healing all the things that had caused my 'imbalance' became painfully apparent. I had finally unlocked this area.

What followed were many discussion and a lot of reading and a lot of trying to remedy what was going on. But as I quickly discovered most of my approaches were merely band-aids. As I had done it before, I went running. Running for me had always been 'moving meditation', my way of disconnecting from the outside world and connecting to my body and mind. This time running didn't help. It was an escape - I was running away from changing habits and staring my fears and unresolved issues in the eye.

Thus began my journey. I sat down and started writing down things that I wanted to do in my life and how I wanted to be treated. Call it manifesting or becoming clear. I cultivated (more) patience and gave myself permission to not achieve things so quickly. I went easy on myself mentally and most important physically. I went into my most painful experiences and looked at them from my place now rather than as a younger version of myself who was in the midst of things and overwhelmed. I practiced gratitude for where I was in my life at any given day. I let myself cry for each time I had held it back to be strong.

Some of the effects I could see and feel relatively soon. Restoring balance in my body led to less aches and pains and restoring balance in my mind made me happier, overall.

I dare you to try it. Heal yourself and accept that it is an ongoing process. It's a good goal to have to ultimately be free of things that we have accumulated over the years, that weigh us down. Forgive yourself for new issues that arise along the way. Take them in stride and cherish them as life experiences. We were not made to be perfect. We were born to be real.