Think about it for a moment and see the possibility that this may be truth. I know for me I made a a series of conscious choices many years ago that I DO believe led me on the path of creating this beautiful life.
Certainly, the double edge sword comes when things show up that we cannot change, like chronic pain and disease, HOWEVER, we can chooose how we approach and deal with those obstacles. That we can choose.
My first lesson of choice was when realizing that my daughter born with a rare genetic disease was going to be a lifelong challenge that I would have to face. Being a caregiver for life felt daunting. My husband made his choice to leave me with three little kids to raise and no true sense of income. What do I choose? Bitterness? Giving up? Or grit?
I chose grit.
Spending my twenties and half of my thirties overweight, toxic and angry was a choice. At age thirty-five I chose different. I chose intentional eating, gratitude, movement and life.
I chose life.
I once had a job that was somewhat fulfilling. I was an advocate for adults with disabilities. I helped them navigate the adult world and find opportunities for them to grow. It was good, but not everything that I wanted. I took a giant leap and left security to teach adaptive and traditional yoga full time. I deliberately stepped into being self employed and trusting that I would succeed. I chose to listen o my calling.
I chose purpose.
Since I was thirty years old I have dealt with ongoing chronic pain, multiple autoimmune diseases, surgery after surgery to repair joints and tissue. I could choose to identify as that. Or I could choose to master the art of pull-ups, walk everyday no matter what, lift weights, practice yoga, be in nature, move my body, eat well and live a life beyond identifying as a disease. I could choose illness or I could choose health.
Tell me what do you love or admire about yourself?
I asked this question in all of my adaptive and traditional Yoga classes last week as we delved into the idea of Self-Love. The answers often are so sad when it comes to my students with brain injuries. You see these people have lost what most of us value and are having to rediscover the aspects of themself that they actually like. Most have lost their livelihood, their purpose, their families, their independence, their freedom to come and go, and oso much more. When they look in the mirror they often see the challenges and the impact of the injury so finding the qualities within can usually be really challenging. I also have enjoyed asking my group of students that are all over the age of 85 and living in assisted living. I am startled that so few of them can proclaim something that they love about themselves. Perhaps it is a generational thing where they didn’t spend as much time as younger people these days who seem consumed with the Self.
The answer seem to be so hard for them to find.
I ask the question anyway and the answer is usually that they are blank on what they love about themselves.
I keep asking, though.
On one particular day in a class that included a range of ages and abilities, I asked a woman living with a brain injury who is close to my age and is often very down on herself the question. When I asked her what she liked about herself her eyes dropped down to the ground and she quietly said, “nothing”. She was hunched over with her arms on her legs looking so hopeless and sad. This woman is so kind, so willing, so sweet and is so beautiful.
I knelt down so that I was in her eye gaze and asked again. And again, I got the same response.
I knew that I was about to open a beautiful can of worms and an opportunity to teach exactly what Rumi was saying.
I turned the question around. I asked this woman what she liked about me. She looked at me and easily said, “You are brave, and strong and so beautiful”.
We smiled at each other and I looked into her eyes.
My response wasthis—I am simply a reflection of you. What exists in me is also in you otherwise you would not recognize it. We are indeed a mirror reflection of each other.
She sat tall and said, “really?” Yes my sweet friend, really.
I learned this concept many years ago and try to always remember it, especially when I am with someone who feels that they are not enough or someone who struggles with identifying what makes them special. I ask them to think about someone they admire and what qualities do they see in them that they like? It is those qualities that also exist in ourselves.
Consider that. What you see in others exists in you. Kindness, integrity, compassion, love, bravery, beauty, honesty, humor, etc. If it was not part of you and familiar, you would not recognize it.
The tricky and often sticky part about this is that when we also see a quality within others that we find less appealing, it is because that too is familiar in us. When this happens to me I say, “ahhhhhh yes, there you are to remind me what I am here to work on”.
When we stumble through those ordinary days of self doubt and wondering what is really good about ourselves this can be an amazing concept to return to. When we feel burdened by life’s hardness and separate from the ideals in which the world has attempted to create, and we feel so less than, simply look into the eyes of someone you admire and know that the only way you can see those qualities is because they also exist in you.
It is familiar. It is a mirror reflection of yourself.
This time of year can seem like we are stuck in endless amounts of cold, dark winter days that go on and on. Also for some of us the holiday hype leads to a low-energy winter drag that sometimes can last months.
Many of us also dread the month of February because the influx of romantic love seems to be everywhere. I’m all for love but I have learned over the years that without self-love, there will be no room for love-love. It’s just doesn’t happen.
For many years I was a seeker of love outside of myself. In some ways we all are—we want validation and to be seen—that is normal human behavior. My trouble came when in the truth and quiet moments with myself, I really didn’t like who I was, and actually loving myself was not even in the ball park.
Then I woke up.
I realized that my kids needed a healthy mom. They needed someone who demonstrated self love. They required a mom who was no longer angry but instead developed an acceptance for life’s hard things and took them as lessons to grow.
I also became radically aware of self care. For decades I thought self care was selfish and totally for the elite. Wow, right? I came to realize that the only way I was to find pure unconditional love was to begin by loving myself unconditionally. You attract what you are.
Today I actually coach women (and men) on the power of a deliberate self care routine to help become the very best version of yourself. It’s not all about bubble baths, although those those do help tremendously.
I crafted this essential oil blend with the intention that it dives into the areas of our brain and heart that focus on positive self love and self image. There was a lot of thought and trial and error that went into finding the perfect combination to embody self love that is purely unconditional.
Rose: Opens the heart chakra and allows you to feel unconditional love. Creates a sense of well-being and calmness while awakening your ability for self-compassion, nurturing, and love.
Lemon: Opens the heart chakra to self-love and self-nurturing. lightens while uplifting your spirit and bringing clarity into your life.
Neroli: A natural tranquilizer and regulator of the nervous system that opens the heart chakra, uplifts your spirit, and encourages confidence, joy, and peace.
Marjoram: Restores warmth, self-compassion, and self-nurturing when feeling lonely or isolated.
Lavender: Helps you to relax, let go of the stress, and release fear, which fosters connect with the heart center and opens you up to more love.
Jasmine: Uplifting and joyous oil that balances the emotional system, soothes anxiety, and helps with depression and apathy.
Geranium: This emotional healing oil restores confidence and trust in others. It can help to heal a broken heart and open one up to love.
Ylang Ylang: This is a powerful remedy for the heart and releasing trauma from the past. This oil helps to release bottled up emotions that weigh heavy on the heart which allows for a more playful, carefree, emotionally connected and loving experience of life.
Tranquility Blend: Includes Lavender Flower, Cedarwood, Ho Wood Leaf, Ylang Ylang Flower, Marjoram Leaf, Roman Chamomile Flower, Vetiver Root, Vanilla Bean Absolute, Hawaiian Sandalwood. Encourages individuals to first reconnect with themselves and discover peace that lies within, and then to reconnect with the humanity in others. This brings a calm, tranquil, peaceful, relaxed, compassionate and connection person.
Rose quartz: Rose Quartz is the stone of universal love. It restores trust and harmony in relationships, encouraging unconditional love. Rose Quartz purifies and opens the heart at all levels to promote love, self-love, friendship, deep inner healing and feelings of peace. Calming and reassuring, it helps to comfort in times of grief. Rose Quartz dispels negativity
Plus a sprinkling of rose petals makes this blend gorgeous to look at, too.
You can purchase this gorgeous blend here or invest in my self care package and it is included along with bath bombs, soothing foot salve, yoga and meditation.
Impermanence is the truth of life. Embracing it in our most basic daily activities can be the key to everyday ease.
I am a big believer in speaking truth and since I have opted to being more emotionally exposed this year and vulnerable I am jumping in.
Since having three hip surgeries and an ankle surgery I have been avoiding the physical aspect of yoga for over six years. Occasionally I might unroll a mat and move around in positions that feel good, but a full on yoga practice guided by someone else?
Never. I have told myself for years that my practice was not focused on the physical and that I was simply working the other aspects of Yoga.
Was I? Or was I avoiding the sensations that bring up uncomfortable? Had I slipped into the practice of resistance or even worse, avoidance?
Maybe the continual orthopedic challenges over the last six years are valid or maybe it is my reasoning or excuse, or simply the story I tell myself. Unpeeling the layers of truth and excuse began to unravel quickly this past weekend on the Yoga mat.
With great intention to have at least one guided solid practice a week, I opted for Sunday to be the day. Sundays are typically a little slower around my house and seems to have a little tinge of sacredness on this day. I wanted to have someone else guide me through a practice because I tend to flow into poses that I like and are rarely challenged by. I stay within my comfort zone and was being gently nudged to open myself up to receive a practice guided by someone else and for me to not have any idea of what would be offered.
As I went out to my studio my eyes longed for the dumbbells that sat there eyeing me and my newly defined muscles. I wanted to grab them and do my thirty minutes of weight training that gives me a sense of strength and empowerment. I yearned for the fast 45 second on/15 second rest pace where I watch the time pass with eagerness to move onto the next exercise, or finish and get back on the whirling of the treadmill. I craved the fast and powerful movements where time flies.
Weight lifting has become my jam.
My Yoga practice used to be that. It was also where I laid out my emotions, my grief, my struggles, my celebrations and every other emotional season of my life. It is truly where I loved being and lifting weights was my aversion. As I continued to struggle with pain I needed a new relationship with my body and weights found a home in my heart. I even wrote about it here.
I knew I needed to work through my resistance to Yoga. I began the practice and literally within five minutes I was fighting myself to not quit. Every pose offered I had the internal dialogue as to why I hated it and why I can’t do it. I argued with myself. I made up a million reasons as to why this sucked. I wondered about half way through the practice why anyone would choose to do this and even more PAY for it. I heard myself say utter the words, “I hate Yoga and anyone who does this nonsense for 60 minutes must be crazy”. I fought the feelings of tightness and the humility of forward folds hurting and some of the postures being completely beyond my what I thought was available to my seeminlgy strong body. I glanced at my weights with love and endearment and thought to myself–they don’t hurt me like this.. they love me. I wrestled with the endless about of space and time in a single pose. I fought back quitting and then the realization that I was feeling this way was as shocking as the language my body was speaking. When the final moment came and the teacher thanked me for sharing my practice with her I wanted to scream “never again biiiiiiatcccch”.
I rolled up my mat completely stunned at my reaction to a simple 30 minute practice. Prior to my hip surgeries I was practicing hour long classes four to five times a week for a nearly two decades. What happened? How could I — a full time yoga teacher — feel such angst to time on the mat? I felt so much like I was an illegitimate English teacher who never opened a book.
I was shocked at what was coming up for me. These were deep feelings fueled with emotion that I can buried beneath surgical recoveries, a new found love affair with strength training and my seemingly inability to be still, and more be still with myself.
I am still one week later still stunned. And humbled. And determined to look deeper at this.
Judith Lasater says, “Impermanence is the truth of life. Embracing it in our most basic daily activities can be the key to everyday ease.” I suppose this master of Yoga would include time on the mat with this statement.
Oftentimes, we can no longer practice certain poses because of age or injury, yet we feel agitated because we assume that the poses of our youth should be the poses of our middle and old age. We are surprised when familiar asanas become difficult and formerly difficult ones become impossible. This surprise emotion rattled me and when I spoke to a fellow Yoga teacher I was relieved to learn that she too experiences much of the same resistance to time on the mat, for many of the same reasons. The inherent acknowledgement of the impermanence of each stage of life is key to acceptance both on and off the mat. There is here in this awareness—not just because our lives do obviously and unavoidably change but, more important, because when we accept this fact as truth, we suffer so much less. Without having an awareness of impermanence, we typically fall into one of two patterns: denial or depression.
So what do I do with this? Deny it or become depressed.
Neither are an option for me, especially since I am a master at discipline and overcoming hard things. I choose to not deny the ever changing qualities to my body and my constantly evolving practice, and I also choose to not be depressed about it.
Instead I am going to roll out my Yoga mat and try again. And again. And again until I fall into that sweet spot of surrender that once lovingly welcomed me into her arms.
It is not like I didn’t know this. I mean, I took a semester long course with Brené Brown and stepped into the world of Daring Greatly and succeeded on many levels. And it’s not like I have not practiced being vulnerable—I left a toxic relationship, quit my job to pursue my passion, bought a house knowing it is all on me and more. I nailed it and became super empowered in the process.
Vulnerability seemed to be a thing I thrive at. Give me a life altering challenge and I will without a doubt do well. But is that really all vulnerability is?
According to Brené vulnerability is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.
For the last couple months I have been listening to these little soul taps to look under vulnerability. To take a closer look that isn’t about becoming a badass and destroying a challenge. There was a whispering of something softer and different.
And also incredibly scary. I denied those little whispers and wanted desperately to choose a word that was easier and likely something I am already good at.
Seems to me I am able to easily handle uncertainty and risk on some levels but emotional exposure—never.
Maybe it’s my tendency to lean towards Capricorn strength and tenacity while also being a fiery redhead that gives me an unstoppable approach to life’s challenges. I don’t think raising three kids successfully alone could have been achieved any other way, but this is deeper than action. This is way deeper.
Control has always been something that brings me safety. Controlling my environment and the people I let in. Controlling my business and finances with a sharp eye. Controlling my physical health despite lots of pain by working my body to its best health. Controlling my emotions by not putting myself into situations where I might cry (or laugh). Controlling what I need by never asking for help. Exhausting maybe?
That all sounds like emotional exposure. Doing something anyway not knowing what the response or outcome might be. Sticking my neck out and hoping for the best.
This is about not just being seen for what I have overcome or what I do. It will require me to being willing to reveal parts of myself that are tucked safely deep down and to do what is uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone.
I did a little exercise in my journal over the last week and here is how I see it:
Vulnerability is —failing, making a mistake, exposing myself publicly, crying, screwing up, feeling scolded, asking for help, not perfecting something, feeling needy or dependent on others, asking for what I need or want and feeling out of control.
Vulnerability feels like—crushing sensation in chest, upset stomach, short breath, panic to flee, racing heart, avoidance.
Vulnerability lookslike— finishing and publishing the book that has been written, asking for help, receiving help, communicating openly with others, asking to be on more podcasts, letting go of some of my high self standards (not failing), finding resolution and peace with pain, being okay with my emotions and letting my emotions be seen.
For 2023 I give myself permission to fail or to succeed. I give myself permission to not do it all alone. I give myself permission to reveal and unfold in a way that stays in alignment with my soul but also welcomes risk. I give myself permission to be seen.
Grant me the courage To change what I am capable of changing And the grace To accept what is beyond my control And choose my battles wisely.
Please help me to fix what has fallen apart and is broken in my life That would benefit from being mended And accept what would not And move on accordingly.
Grant me the strength To fully seize each day And make the most of each moment Savouring the ones that provide me with joy, meaning and fulfilment
And remind me to treasure time spent with those I love And pursue my passions and what uplifts and energises me And focus on all that lies ahead of me Rather than all that lies behind me.
Please help me to embody love And radiate it to all whom I encounter Regardless of whether they remain in my life Or are no longer with me.
Please help me to remain calm and at peace During the chaos and shifting seasons of life And flow with it Understanding that everything is fleeting and temporary But that the true nature of who I am is eternal And more than this limited body And transitory physical experience
Please show me how to let go of fear, pain and resentment So I can feel light, unburdened and free And prioritise what is important While disregarding what is not.
Please comfort me in my grief And reassure me with the knowledge That I will one day be reunited with those I love who have left this reality But remain in spirit with me
And in the times when I am hurt May you show me how to heal and move forward
In the times when I feel small and fragile May you remind me of my inner strength
In the times when I feel weak May you remind me of my inner power
In the times when I feel lost May you help me rediscover purpose and meaning
In the times when I feel lonely and isolated May you remind me that everything is interconnected
And in the times when I have lost confidence and trust in myself May you help me remember who I am.
Words by Tahlia Hunter
(Inspired by the Serenity Prayer by Dr Reinhold Niebuhr)
I recently shared my strengths according to Gallup Strengths Finder and am still digging into that theme a bit. I loved learning my too strengths, but I was also fascinated to learn my bottom ones also. Competition is the second to the bottom strength! This means competition is pretty irrelevant to me and my life.
Competition is very low in my skill set personally and professionally. That is not a good thing or a bad thing, it just reinforces my top strengths. I highly recommend taking the strengths finder test if your curious how it impacts your personal and business life.
I did some digging on competition and found some fascinating thing. Harvard business review says this about competition-
While it can sometimes be productive, too often it is actually destructive to your overall goals. That’s why people who don’t have as much of a heart to compete have advantages in life and the opportunity to be more successful.
Non competing individuals are more motivated than most of the people around them.
Here is why:
•They aren’t as ego-driven. People who compete often do so in large part to satisfy their egos. If you don’t have the heart to compete, then most likely you don’t have a big ego.
•They’re less stressed. Competition in life adds a lot of unneeded frustration. If you’re not obsessed with competing, you’re largely free of that stress. That frustration is an almost overwhelmingly negative influence on your sense of self.
•They’re calmer. A sense of calm comes over those who don’t endlessly think about how they’re going to get ahead in races of all kinds.
•They wish success on others. The person who doesn’t obsess about competition often wants others to find success as well as themselves. What’s so great about that is how success begets success.
•They believe success can be shared. Competitions are almost always win-lose situations. People who don’t want competition in their lives tend to believe in win-win scenarios. Instead of looking for ways they can outsmart their opponent, they search for methods to team up with them and overcome whatever obstacle that they face together instead of apart. By doing that, they double the chance for success.
•They have inner peace. Obsession is unhealthy, whereas peace is just around the corner once you remove competition from the equation. By focusing on improving yourself instead of beating others, you are well on your way to the inner peace everyone craves, even if some of them don’t know it.
I’m telling you, learning about your strengths can lead to so much understanding in your relationships and professional life. I am so grateful I know these things about myself because I am able to see that I am unique and while others around me may be fed by competition I don’t have to try to fit in. I can be me and I can support them as they are then. Cool, huh?
I am a super private person and unless you know me really well or catch the occasional revealing posts about my private life, you may not know the whole story.
I am not one to carry on about the past much because I believe what happened is what happened and by perhaps looking through a different lens, I have learned to see the gifts and lessons learned.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to have a very honest and real conversation with a girl I met a few years ago that is entering into a season of her life that includes being a single mom, wondering how she will work, feed her kids and fulfill her deep calling to do what her heart and soul is calling her to do.
I was there.
Eating cheap food to survive, scrambling for a job, yearning for something more and doing the best I knew how with my kids.
I failed a bunch but I also succeeded way more. I evolved into this. I overcame the you obstacles of single parenting and finding myself through the process.
My hope is that I gave this young girl a sense that she WILL be okay and that she WILL find her way and that she WILL succeed in her wildest dreams. She is certainly deserving of it and skilled in many ways.
It felt kinda strange to share my story and see the other side of what overcoming struggles can possibly do for someone just entering that sisterhood.
You just never know how your challenges can help someone else in a time of need.
I was sipping my coffee this morning while reading Atlas of the Heart written by Brene Brown and was captured by this quote.
When I ventured out into the yoga world as a teacher I spent a few years trying to “fit in” to the culture of what I thought a yoga teacher was. I played the role and yet it never felt authentic.
As I gained confidence in myself and began to return home to my heart and found the deepest values that I hold dear to myself as a human, I stepped into my authentic self and realized belonging begins with me. I no longer strive to “fit in” or become someone I am not.
Instead, I am me. And I am outspoken and an advocate for others and I teach yoga from my heart, not from a book or a culture that promotes “perfection”.
I sat with a student yesterday who desperately wants to return home to her daughter but has no direction or plan to get there. She struggles with daily independent living and needs support to do the little things most of us overlook. The desperation in her eyes to find her purpose, to work and feel valued, and ultimately return to being a mom shook me. As I listened and reminded her that she has human rights to become her dreams and ambitions I realized that there I was living in my values. I was showing her what belonging means and in no way was I worried about what yoga is “supposed” to be.
Our yoga was pure union. Her and I were in union. I was in union with myself. And she was demonstrating grit in wanting to find her wholeness again and to find that belonging within herself.
Inside my Little Black Book of Essentials, I keep a variety of blends spanning from blends from littles, to the classic blends you will use every day, and these next few days we’ll be talking about The Athlete (aka blends and products to support your muscles, tendons, and bones).
Whether you have an affliction for a backyard game of football or you roll your ankle at the slightest uneven sidewalk, when your tendons s t r e t c h just a bit too far, this blend offers the most relief.
I apply this one to my shoulders, neck, hips and low back as soon as I feel the tension coming.
Mix together in a 10 mL roller and top with your favorite carrier oil. Roll this on as needed.
If you have someone who loves playing sports (or is just accident prone), make sure they have this blend and a Deep Blue Stick for the support!
Oh, and not only are these oils amazing for muscle strain they have tons of they benefits and uses like supporting the skin, enhancing your mood, add lemongrass or marjoram to your favorite dishes and much more! This ebook explains all the ways to use pure essential oils. When you take that step towards wellness I will personally reach out and offer you a free wellness consult and plug you into my ongoing education and community!