When “I” is replaced with “We” even “illness” becomes “wellness.”
(a source from the internet; accredited to a million different people)
“Check on your strong friends.” This meme has been circulating on social media. It struck a nerve with me because I have seen the strong ones suffer, and dare I say even been the strong friend hoping to be checked on. The strong ones who appear to always have it figured out tend to be overlooked. Their true selves are not seen behind the facade of togetherness. But then a famous designer and a witty travel journalist cut their lives short and we take note. Success and/or fame does not equate to mental wellness. Neither does a glowing online presence.
I would like to have a large scale conversation about mental illness. As a college writing instructor and health/wellness coach, I feel that we are really missing the boat on this one. There is writing on the wall. It’s time we read it.
I was struck this week by an article explaining mental illness as the ult...
Good vibes only. Attitude of gratitude. Is it really possible that by focusing on what we have we can completely block out the negative side of life? Is it realistic? Aren’t people who are always smiling a little creepy and not to be trusted?
I was coaching a class recently, and the workout was miserable. It was over 90 degrees without A/C, and there were burpees involved. As a coach, I didn’t have anything encouraging to say. It was going to be a grueling day.
“I will be right here with you the whole time.” I offered my love and support before starting the clock.
About halfway through the workout, I looked at one of our female athletes. Both of her sons are away at college. She has lost a significant amount of weight and developed an intense passion for heavy deadlifts since joining our community. She has taken charge of her health and is making the second 50 years of her life the best yet.
I went over to check in with her in the midst of the sweaty show of fitness.
Shelter in Place: To seek protection from an environmental hazard by sealing oneself in a safe and secure location instead of fleeing or evacuating. One must stay indoors and rely on stored supplies or, if materials must be imported from a contaminated environment, rely on filtration systems that remove toxins, viruses, bacteria, and other potentially dangerous materials until the hazard passes.
"Shelter in Place" is the command issued when we need to be protected from a contaminated environment. Basically, it’s bad out there so we need to stay in a safe location inside while toxins are removed.
For the past few weeks, I have been practicing this drill. Social media was introducing hazardous materials to my mind, so I did the only thing I knew to do.
I decided to hide and seek peace of mind.
I have been studying the idea of starting right where you are and learning to be present in the moment. We all like to talk the talk and want to be present, but it is actually really hard to do in this...
“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”
– Pema Chodron
My mother and I used to share the same devotional reading. We each had our own copy of “Streams in the Desert” by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. Mom and I would exchange phone calls sharing our excitement each day. “Isn’t it amazing! Today’s passage was exactly what I needed.” We both found comfort and guidance in words. We found connection. There was always a stream of hope buried deep beneath the desert. Little did I know, Mom was instilling in me the desire to pay attention and the ability to heal my own wounds. She taught me to find what I needed.
In times of uncertainty or fear, it is those same wells I draw from to find peace. My text of choice has changed, but my process remains the same. Glennon Doyle Melton writes that reading is her inhale and writing is her exhale; I would argue the same is true for me. I find that “breathing in” words of wisdom in the morning sets the tone for a more relaxed and enjoyable day insi...
I have no desire to age gracefully. I plan to age wildly.
I wrote the "On Aging" post about year ago. The message is still the same today. I have one more year to dance on the tail end of my thirties, but I plan to take my forties by storm! Seane Corn, celebrated yoga teacher and social activist, described her process of "Aging Wildly" when she turned fifty.
I look at aging as a privilege, and as I get older I truly appreciate how short our time is in these bodies, and I don’t want to take a second of this journey for granted. I am very grateful. I’m grateful for my health, my resilience, my commitment to growth and change. Grateful for my family, my yoga practice, my community, my amazing body that can do so many interesting things, and all the love I’ve been given and have been able to give in return.
Yes, I am loving every second of getting older. I feel privileged to be stronger and more resilient than I have ever been. I need my physical strength to properly house...
Do you remember when Oprah used to do her free car giveaway? For one of her shows, every single unsuspecting audience member received a free car. Oprah would point to the audience shouting, “YOU get a car, and YOU get a car, and YOU get a car.”
I would like to do the same thing for people in my life, except I would give away therapists.
Finding a therapist is one of the greatest gifts I have given myself in the past few years. It was a huge step in practicing self care. Several of my friends share my enthusiasm for dates with a therapist. We literally skip into our bi-weekly appointments.
“I’m going to see my therapist today.”
“YES! Have fun and let me know what you learn.”
We cannot wait to chat about our breakthroughs and epiphanies. It probably sounds like a liberal cliche for women to sit around talking about their therapy sessions, like some cheesy scene from “Sex in the City,” but we are working on the most important project of our lives— ourselves.
“At some point you have to start becoming something. You can’t just unbecome into nothing.”
One of my coworkers and friends is a sociology professor. He is a good listener and deep thinker, which is why I tend to bounce ideas off of him. But me being me, I don’t always welcome his thoughts with an open mind.
“Stop deconstructing my unbecoming!”
For months I rolled my eyes at his comment, but lately it is beginning to make sense. Maybe I AM actually starting to become something.
We lost Jane (my husband’s mother) almost eight years ago. It was a deadly car crash; she was here one minute and gone the next. The official cause of death was listed as “a bruised heart.” In a whirlwind of shock and grief, our family packed up and left Colorado to move back east.
I spent the next several years working on my physical self. I built strength, stamina, conditioning, flexibility, endurance and improved my overall health and well-being. I revamped our family diet to treat food as medicine and heal our bo...
They say that the relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship we have in our lives. Gulp. My inner critic is an as$%&@#. I don’t need friends like that in my life!
Yet, it does make sense. As I adjust my goals and become more honest with myself, I have noticed that some genuine friendships have blossomed that speak to the newly emerging parts of me.
I made one such friend just this week. Well, I sort of already knew her because I read her book, but it was the first time we met in person. We were only a few minutes into our conversation before we were discussing family history, body image within gymnastics, and Brene Brown. There was no need for small talk. I felt like I had known her all my life. She listened and inspired me with her own story and advice to “trust the whisper.” Her theory is that you always know when you meet someone else with “the spark.” She was right.
When you know, you know.
My daughter recently asked, “Why are you always going to cof...
“...you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning
I had a precious two hour block of free time in my day. Almost every second of my life for the past few weeks had been designated to major work projects, grading, CrossFit event planning or carpooling my kids through a very busy gymnastics season. I was determined to make the most of this rare downtime.
I ran upstairs, threw on comfy pajamas, set my alarm and climbed in bed under my giant down comforter. There was absolute silence. It was perfect. So, I cried.
This scenario might sound strange, or you might feel compelled to feel sorry for me. Don’t worry. I did it on purpose.
Crying is one of the ways I have learned to practice self-care in my life. Much like the release valve on the top of my Instant Pot (if you don’t have one, you need to get one), crying has become a way to let go and reset.
“I’m going to practice saying yes more this year.”
“Oy! That’s a TERRIBLE idea.”
These were the heartfelt responses from my tribe of loving and supportive colleagues.
In their defense, they know that I tend to be tired and overextended. I am a full-time faculty member teaching six composition classes, my family owns a CrossFit affiliate, and I am pursuing my calling as a writer. Oh yeah, and there are the two little humans I am raising. I have clearly said some very big yeses in my life, but my default for the past few years is to say no to everything else. I don’t have to do lunch duty or take on extra projects or accept social engagements because, well, I’m “too busy.”
My friends and coworkers were responding to this side of me. “How can you do more?” They worried I would be creating more stress and spreading myself too thin. I tried to clarify.
“I’m going to work on not saying no to things that feed my soul. I want to be more intentional and less guilt-ridden about saying yes t...