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.

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

Half a century

What does it take for a marriage to last 50 years?

I have asked a few people that, and what I usually hear is this:

Patience. Lots and lots of patience. Also, the ability to let go of the need to be right about everything.

I think it was Frida Kahlo’s father who told her that the secret to a good marriage is a short memory.

50 year cakes and flowers

Ten years ago (in 2010) I met the man who would become my husband in 2017. He proposed in 2015. It took me many years of therapy, personal coaching, spiritual growth and a leap of faith for me to enter back into such a contract for a second time.

I read books like “All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation” by Rebecca Traister and “Committed: A Love Story” by Elizabeth Gilbert. The first time around, I had known I could get out of it. That marriage was borne of familial rebellion and personal stubbornness.

The second time around, I waited to be sure I could outlast my tendency to get bored and move on every 4-8 years. I already knew living with other people (anyone really) can be difficult for me. Solitude is precious. Personal space is one of my highest values. It’s why the era of COVID-19 has held blessings in disguise for me. I realized this reflects a lot of privilege. It also reflects the personal choice I made not to become a parent.

My parents love my sister and me fiercely and protectively. Their division of labor is not what I would choose, but it seems to work for them. They taught my sister and me that all people are worthy of respect. They contributed to their community in so many ways, especially to their students and neighbors. They focused their attention on us, our educations and our futures. We have never doubted their commitment to us. I am forever grateful for those gifts.

Half a century. I am in awe. Grateful.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Physical distancing plus presence

Social distancing is a misnomer. What we really need is physical distancing with social presence. Community is important for mental health. Yeah, you could watch You-Tube videos, but you’d miss out on the experience of practicing with actual people. There is power in presence, even when it is virtual.

Physical distancing and presence

Yep, more shameless self-promotion. Hard to believe I live in Minnesota, no? 😉

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

P.S. If you want to participate but are low on funds, email me and I will send you a Zoom link for a class of your choice. Your presence is important and we would love for you to join us! 

 

Saturday Share – 10 Eye-Opening Writing Rituals from Great Writers — Victoria Ray

The author should die once he has finished writing. So as not to trouble the path of the text. Umberto Eco The truth is (social distancing or not), I am still a very disorganised author. How could I publish so many books? 🤨 I don’t know. That’s why I’m diving in into some rituals of the greatest,…

via 10 Eye-Opening Writing Rituals from Great Writers — Victoria Ray

For those of you who would like to establish a writing routine during quarantine, my friend and writer Victoria Ray has pulled together a few ideas for you.

Cheers & happy weekend,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Renewal in times of uncertainty

Content here first appeared on Linked in on April 14, 2020. It has been edited for WordPress and re-formatted.

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Are you feeling like your head is busy and your body is unsettled?

Maybe you are trying to work from home, and it now seems like all you do is work…

Or maybe you are managing children’s “school at home” schedules and you are also expected to get work done.

boss Gallup article
Photo credit link (Gallup)

With the uncertainty and virus concerns, many of us exist in a new reality. Even if we might worked at home before now and then, now we are possibly sharing space with more people.

We don’t necessarily have the “commute bumper” of our day to delineate starting and stopping anymore. For some of us, maybe the dining room is now our makeshift office. Pets or children may interrupt us many times a day, not understanding that it’s a Tuesday, not a weekend!

It does not help that the news can be grim, and that we worry about the state of our health, our loved ones, and of just how the world will “recover” from such a disruption. While we may be able to focus on certain aspects of our work during the day, we cannot totally keep from wondering… what is next?

During this period of collective upheaval and change it is important to schedule self-care into our day. I’m writing this while snow swirls outside in Minnesota as we speak. So while a walk would be lovely and I highly encourage that as a routine for before or after your workday, or after lunch, it does not always appeal.

Yogi tea IG photo

Other things you can do include taking a break and making a cup of tea, and allowing yourself to step away from your desk. Grab a journal and write out your thoughts, or draft a  screenplay scene with yourself as the protagonist.

If you’re like me, you will add yoga or other movement as part of your day. There are online NIA classes you might take. Perhaps some quiet meditation or listening to some soothing music will help you calm and center.  Or engaging your creativity by getting out the paints or even some play-doh (remember kindergarten?) will give your mind a rest.

Whatever you decide to do, realize that these self-care activities are not optional. They are not frivolous, because they provide a respite from our left hemispheric thinking, which can be unrelenting. While thinking and problem-solving are wonderful aspects of our human capacity, over-emphasis can lead to anxiety, a focus on doing rather than being, and sometimes even insomnia.

I wish you well. I hope you experiment with and discover the activities that nourish your whole self, and nurture calm, clarity and resilience. I would love to hear about your favorite ways to relax in the comments below!

Take much care,

Cristy

P.S. If you have not already found online yoga options and want to join a live community of people via Zoom to practice restorative or slow flow yoga online, please join my email list (cristy@meximinnesotana.com) to get a free class offer. Or you can sign up for a sliding fee yoga class here. No prior experience necessary. Thank you for your interest!  

Healing Within Tree
Click here to explore Yoga with Cristy