Inaugural moment of celebration

I told my husband this morning: Kamala Harris will be inaugurated today!

And also: Joe Biden. Yeah. I’m not gonna lie. I am more excited about her, and what she represents than I am about Joe himself. Joe made a choice that many saw as a risk. He saw her as the future, not a risk. I wholeheartedly agree.

And I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes that Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina on the Supreme Court, did the swearing in ceremony. Firsts, but not lasts.

I had to capture this moment, as I took a personal holiday for myself (in my p.j.’s).

Lots of work to do for this administration. But I’m grateful that we can finally rest from the daily ravings of a disturbed man who believes everything is about him. While there are divisions in this country, Biden’s speech indicated a need for coming together.

We face challenges in the months and the years ahead. But I am grateful that this feels like a breath of fresh air, leadership with dignity and decency after the ego-driven, self-centered and self-interested approach of “Sideshow Donald.” I’m not sure what made him that way, but he mirrors the part of our country that is determined to hang onto white body supremacy.

Now it is time to acknowledge that history and the hurt these policies have caused, to comprehend the depths of the disparities that are showing up in health care, education, employment, and the criminal justice system. Can we be in a place of “yes, AND” rather than “either/or” instead of polarizing? I sure hope so.

No matter the challenges ahead, I’m taking time today to celebrate!

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

We Defy Definition

Hello Friends,

I hope you are well and are enjoying some New Year’s Eve peace and joy. As we bring this year to a close I know many of us are hoping that 2021 brings a little more lightness and brightness than 2020.

As someone who treasures time alone or in small groups, this was a year of relative freedom for me. While being released from a job can be stressful for many, I was grateful to have solid savings and unemployment funds to tide me over during the transition to my next venture.

I began a team coaching certification program in September at The Medici Group, which I will complete in February 2021. I enjoyed teaching yoga online through Healing Within Acupuncture & Wellness Studios. I provided personal coaching services to a few 1:1 clients, and I had lots of time for my favorite things: reading books, writing and snuggling on the couch with my hubby, with no pressure to be social.

I co-taught yoga sessions like “De-Stress for the Holidays” (available free on YouTube) with yoga sisters Amy Klous and Krista Steinbach, and connected with other wellbeing professionals at Ikigai Lab. I worked with my lovely coach, Stephanie, founder of Our Natural Wisdom. And I re-discovered my sense of purpose and mastery that led to me leaving a corporate position in 2018 to pursue my own endeavors.

One day, upon being asked (once again) for a bio prior to a presentation I was about to give, I threw up my hands in despair. Why do people keep wanting me to define myself based on my past? Seriously, it is an existential and also a practical question. I prefer to define myself based on my vision for the future. So I wondered if I might create community and offerings around embracing everyone’s gifts, not defining people based on roles, job titles or diagnoses. 

As someone with variable attention (which I do not consider a deficit, as a diagnosis might suggest) I struggle to BE just one thing. I enjoy so many things, and my creativity is enhanced by my ability to see the connections between things. And while I am “mexi-minnesotana,” it is only ONE aspect of my personality, not the totality of me.

And I know this is true of YOU also! You are not just a mother, a sister, a teacher, a writer, a caregiver, an employee. You are a multi-dimensional, beautiful human being! Can we all take a moment to celebrate that? Okay, now carry on with your day. 🙂

While I know my business will evolve over time, for now I plan to write, speak and advocate for those of us that refuse to be tamed and tethered by the terms others use to define us. We will together Unleash, Unlearn & Enliven. The world needs us, and it is time to step out of the shadows and be our full selves.

Grateful for the supportive community here that has actively championed my contributions here for 3+ years. Much love to you all!

cristy@wedefydefinition.com

P.S. To learn more, or to participate in a weekly free yoga series I will offer in 2021 called Body Love Yoga (Tuesdays 7:30-8:15am Central time), email me for a Zoom link. We will practice radical self-love, breath work, gentle soma yoga and meditation.

The Way We Live Now

Hi Friends,

Apparently I cannot quite let go of this blog, despite my intention to do so. It has provided a valuable outlet for me that apparently satisfies something in me that a “professional blog” may never do. So I will occasional post when I feel I must, because I find it so therapeutic. It’s also faster than my handwritten journal, which has taken a slight backseat to a practice daily voice memos to myself.

Daily voice memos are like a personal “podcast” that I can go back to hear in my own voices how my thoughts, beliefs and feelings evolve over time. And I’ve also felt almost obsessively drawn to re-listen to a podcast series called “The Way We Live Now.” Hosted by Dani Shapiro, it ran from April 14th to July 3rd this year. I listened to all 59 episodes (short form mostly 10-20 minutes) when they were first released, but I felt compelled to go there again.

Cover photo from the Podcast page

As I re-listened, I found the listener stories, a feature posted on Fridays to be particularly compelling and beautiful. They feature glimpses into the worlds of people working through grief, coping with previously unimagined scenarios, and finding joy during the pandemic.

I keep asking myself: why does this draw me in so deeply? And I think I now know: because so many stories illustrate the deep resilience of humans coming together during a crisis to support each other. And the voices we hear in this podcast that are not often heard feel so relevant to me. We tell each other our stories to connect, and reassure each other that we are not alone. The shared humanity feels profound.

It helps to be aware of my “input channels” and not to take in too much every day. I also recognize a need to counterbalance measured doses of news coverage with healthy doses of stories that fill me up spiritually. I am grateful to Dani Shapiro for this, and for her memoirs and other podcast, Family Secrets, now in its 4th season and also produced with such tenderness and care.

Is there any doubt that “The Way We Live Now” requires revision and radical re-imagining as we keep moving forward?

Now that I have seen new possibilities and have had time to imagine and test a few new possibilities, I am less willing to go back to past situations and behaviors which did not work well. Self-criticism gives way to self-compassion. My “old self” felt confined and contained, and it now yields to a new self being re-born.

While that feels tender and scary at times, it is not possible to “unsee” what we have seen. What undiscovered new joys and surprises will appear as we craft together our New Normals?

Much love,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Quiet places (and my noisy mind)

I transport myself to a quiet place in nature, not necessarily truly quiet, but a place that calms my mind. Listening to the sound of flowing water, my nervous system feels immediately soothed.

I have often had a “noisy” mind, a busy mind, an exuberant and thoughtful (also thought-full) mind. I have been rewarded for this in many ways. And this over-active mind is also a source of suffering all too often.

Learning to calm myself through yoga, running or dance and through journaling, has helped to slow the racing thoughts. I sometimes forget these practices, like anyone, when my mind becomes triggered by a painful thought. At those times, I feel myself bracing and going into “defense” mode, constricting and pushing back.

A video of my favorite quiet place in nature (in Schroeder, MN).

When I can take a breath or two and recognize that I’m not actually under attack by anything physical, and I’m responding to a painful thought or belief, I can allow my emotional response without reacting.

I keep training myself to do this, and re-training myself. It’s a lifelong journey, it seems. And maybe that’s what it means to be human, this acknowledgement of unhealed wounds that need tending and self-compassion. We may realize intellectually that they are no longer threats, and yet they still activate a primal place within our nervous system.

When they trigger fear or sadness or another painful emotion, there is a cascade of “stories” that usually follows (for me). And then that feedback loop can lead to even more painful thoughts. I bring myself back again to my physical sensations, my senses both internal and external, and re-ground myself.

The noisy mind is still there. And now I access a place where the “watcher” can lovingly and compassionately see the pattern, and offer comfort. Nothing has gone wrong. This is what minds do, generate thoughts like bubbles in a stream. They are not necessarily true, particularly the painful ones.

Stepping back, I access that bubbling stream knowing all is well. A bit of distance, a bit of perspective, and the noisy mind calms itself.

Be well, dear readers.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Bullies on the playground

On the playground of life, there are always bullies. Sadly, though adults might be expected outgrow this insecure need to dominate others around them to feel safe, some never do.

Watching this play out at a national level has been something to witness. I am one of the many people who breathed a sigh of relief last Saturday as it became clear that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won the electoral vote. This was an indication, both from the popular vote and the electoral vote, that Americans are ready for the adults to resume control of our democracy.

Though clearly the bully-in-chief is not ready to vacate. No, indeed as stated prior to the election, the current occupier of the office had told us he would accept no outcome but victory.

Taken on a walk back in June 2020.

While some are shocked that he refuses to use any modicum of decency and responsible leadership, most of us expected this to happen. Not that we hoped for it, but it is not the shock that some journalists seem to express for this behavior.

Bullies do not concede because they cannot accept any reality that brushes them aside as irrelevant. The ego of a bully is fragile, driven by fear and narcissism. And yet: it has cowed many other Republicans into remaining quiet, or to deferring to being “within his rights” to investigate non-substantiated allegations of fraud.

They are scared. They know what can happen to non-loyalists. And they know that a peaceful transfer of power is likely given our constitution. Our institutions of democracy are not so fragile that we need to spend our energy worrying, tempting though it might be.

These days I need to carefully manage my news consumption, and limit it to daily doses such as “Consider This” from NPR. Otherwise, I can “go down the rabbit hole” of media. I realize that is unhealthy, and it does not serve me.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the nation, and rural hospitals are especially challenged during this time, I am sad that the obstruction of this transition only hurts Americans. While I am relieved that the adults will resume control of the office in 2 months, I also grieve the losses we will face in the meantime.

Stay safe and sane, friends.

Democracy has not (yet) failed us.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Stand down, Mr. President

As I write this, I balk at using the title “president.” Technically you hold this title, Donald, though you are anything BUT presidential.

I heard on NPR and in the local papers that you are coming to Rochester, Minnesota for a rally on Friday.

Why?

We do not support you. Please stand down, and stay away from our state.

The irony is not lost on us that you are visiting Rochester, the home of the Mayo Clinic, where outstanding medical professionals and scientists provide outstanding care to patients, while contributing to the advancement of science.

Scientists…you scoffed at a recent rally. Joe Biden will listen to the scientists, whom you have mocked repeatedly.

You are a disgraceful person, and you are not a leader. Your casual disdain for the health of Americans disqualifies you for this role. Science has saved your life, and yet you discredit it.

When you fail to protect the citizens to whom you have sworn an oath, you fail our nation. When your presence in our communities becomes a threat to public health, you must stand down.

Mayor Kim Norton of Rochester has expressed her concern about your visit, noting that the communities and states around the area are currently a hotbed for COVID and that your campaign will be bussing people in. This is irresponsible and reflects a disdain for health and for life.

The bulk of the COVID cases in the community of Bemidji in October were directly traced to your campaign rally in September. Your failure to take this illness seriously endangers all health care workers serving our communities.

We are so eager to send you home, Donald. You exhaust us. You anger us. You sow destruction and anxiety in the places you visit.

Minnesotans will speak loudly and clearly at the polls. I certainly hope you will keep your pledge not to visit the states where you have lost. If you never visit us again, it will be too soon.

Sincerely,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com