Wellness Wednesday – your body is the authority

Hello Friends,

I was honored to teach 9 lovely women last Friday for my first of three sessions of my “Desk Chair Yoga” series. Wow, 30 minutes can really fly by fast. But it was delightful and I got lots of great feedback after the class.

There is a waiting list for the next time around (I will likely repeat this series in March) and a colleague asked me more about yoga today. She said she had been intimidated to try it.  She had been overweight for years, and downward dog just didn’t feel good to her wrists or knees. I get it. One reason I became a teacher is that I wanted to be able to modify for those who (like me) may have injuries or challenges where the “average” yoga class is not suitable.

So I began with what I love about yoga: it means union. It is about union of the body and mind, and perhaps the spirit if you are inclined that way. When I introduced my class last Friday I told everyone: your body is the authority on what you do in this class.

Nothing in yoga should cause pain. There may be some discomfort when you are releasing chronically held tension, or a bit of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) as when you do anything new/different with your muscles. However, respecting the principle of “ahimsa” or non-violence is central to yoga. We must have compassion for our bodies, the wisdom encoded within them, and the ways they communicate our needs.

All of this connected with my colleague. Several other colleagues joined the discussion on what they did and did not enjoy about past yoga classes. I am so grateful to share these wonderful practices for calming the nervous system. Remember this:

Your body is the authority. Treat her kindly and as the wise teacher that she is. The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. Let your body lead instead. 😉

Love,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Desk Chair Yoga brand snip

 

 

 

 

Give yourself some love

February is coming soon, friends. You’ve already started to see the stores fill with Valentine chocolate, not so long after many of us made pledges toward some type of new healthy habit for the year.

Actually, I’m not so fond of resolutions in the new year. January in Minnesota is hard. The weather is ugly, and though we are gaining a minute or two of light a day, it’s still dark. We’re all pretty over-spent and broke after the holidays if we weren’t so good at budgeting the year before. And most of us gained 2-3 (or 7-10) pounds since Halloween. Ugh. Those slim jeans don’t feel so great right now.

Well, bears hibernate! Why can’t we?!? Why were my ancestors so good at storing fat? Oh right, so I wouldn’t starve to death. Give gratitude to the ance(stores) who’s superior fat storage (and hunting skills) are the reason I’m here today.

Speaking for myself, and our human species. 😉

heart shaped chocolates
Chocolate does not equal love. No matter how much I love it. Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

February, month of romance rolls around and we feel annoyed because everyone seems to have someone. If we don’t have someone, what are we supposed to do with all this Valentine chocolate except eat it ourselves?!? I’m outing myself as a person who has struggled with eating and body image issues. SO many women struggle with this, the majority of us, as it turns out.

I keep reading about epidemic levels of loneliness in our society. I believe it. We may be the most “connected” in terms of our possible virtual networks, but this can crowd our ability to maintain our close relationships. Being a true friend (or family member) takes time and energy.

Having a handful of really close and healthy relationships (and/or a pet perhaps) outweighs dozens (or hundreds) of online-only friends. But in professional networks where loose ties are also meaningful in terms of opportunities, it is important to maintain a bit of both.

Food is one way some of us fill our spiritual loneliness, as I learned from Geneen Roth. The comfort it provides is  only temporary and gives nothing “back.” Friendships are for mutual benefit.

human hands illustrations
Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

And what do we do when we (introverts) feel overwhelmed and burned out by too much social interaction

We must learn to down-regulate our nervous systems. We must learn how to let go of what does not serve us. We sometimes must turn down social interactions, even with people we (usually) enjoy in order to take care of ourselves.

Our species simply has not evolved emotionally for the level of inter-connectedness we now experience on the planet. We once saw ourselves as isolated tribes. Now, we know that we are in this together. Kill our environment, kill our planet, we all perish. Not pretty.

What yoga offers to me (and others) are tools to balance our nervous systems. We can cope with our feelings of stress, our difficult emotions and even our physical pain. Most of us desperately need daily and weekly doses of quiet internal reflection to center and ground ourselves.  Even if it is for 3-5 minutes a couple of times a day, give yourself that opportunity.

Your loved ones will thank you. You will thank yourself. And the world will be better served if you are generous in caring well for your whole being. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

This February treat yourself to (1)
I’m piloting this short class at work next month! So excited I can offer this in my department.

 

 

Force no pain away

This is an edited post I wrote in July of 2018. As I have decided to take an August sabbatical from writing new content while finishing my YTT certification, I am reading and editing some pieces from my 2018 archive. Hope you enjoy! 

One of my favorite guided meditations is spoken by Sarah Blondin on Insight Timer called “I would like to give you permission.” It is about the ways in which we tend to hide our true selves from the world, and I think it was originally recorded for the Live Awake podcast.

Sometimes we have a good reason we hide our true selves (Martha Beck would call this the essential self vs the social self). Most of the time it is because we have been taught to act “appropriately” or to hide our feelings. These are often well-intentioned pieces of advice, but they may not serve our highest good.

live awake
Link to the live awake podcast

There is a line in this particular meditation that moves me: “Force no pain away, for it is all conspiring to bring you home.” What I like about this is the fact that we must embrace our feelings, admit them to ourselves, in order to be fully human. To push them away, or not to acknowledge our sadness, pain or discomfort, is to run away from our experience. We often do this in an attempt to be more positive, or because we think we should not experience negative emotions.

But emotions are just vibrations in the body, and we are likely to experience about half and half, positive and negative. It is the contrast between these emotions that makes joy so sweet. There is nothing wrong with us when we experience sadness or grief. These are normal and appropriate parts of being human. Getting angry at injustice can help us realize when we need to take action, for example.

When I consider how my emotions bring me home to myself, and I understand what thoughts drive these emotions, I fully claim my experience. There is no need for denial or resistance of these feelings. Indeed they provide the compass for a live well lived.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Force no pain away

One of my favorite guided meditations is spoken by Sarah Blondin on Insight Timer called “I would like to give you permission.” It is about the ways in which we tend to hide our true selves from the world, and I think it was originally recorded for the Live Awake podcast.

Sometimes we have a good reason we hide our true selves (Martha Beck would call this the essential self vs the social self). Most of the time it is because we have been taught to act “appropriately” or to hide our feelings. These are often well-intentioned pieces of advice, but they may not serve our highest good.

live awake
Link to the live awake podcast

There is a line in this particular meditation that moves me: “Force no pain away, for it is all conspiring to bring you home.” What I like about this is the fact that we must embrace our feelings, admit them to ourselves, in order to be fully human. To push them away, or not to acknowledge our sadness, pain or discomfort, is to run away from our experience. We often do this in an attempt to be more positive, or because we think we should not experience negative emotions.

But emotions are just vibrations in the body, and we are likely to experience about half and half, positive and negative. It is the contrast between these emotions that makes joy so sweet. There is nothing wrong with us when we experience sadness or grief. These are normal and appropriate parts of being human. Getting angry at injustice can help us realize when we need to take action, for example.

When I consider how my emotions bring me home to myself, and I understand what thoughts drive these emotions, I fully claim my experience. There is no need for denial or resistance of these feelings. Indeed they provide the compass for a live well lived.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Wellness Wednesday – your priority

What are your priorities? 

I asked myself this during the late afternoon when I noticed *hours* had slipped by this afternoon while I was working, and it was nearly past the time I usually leave. I suddenly realized it was a gorgeous Minnesota day, about 80F without humidity.

Immediately I realized I should not be lingering at work, and that my husband and I had the opportunity to spend time out on a lovely patio somewhere in the neighborhood. But this realization and choice came about when I considered my priorities, or rather my priority for that moment.

While I know work is important, my more important priority is my relationship with my husband. Other relationships are important too, and I reminded myself the other day to schedule some time with friends I have not yet seen this summer. We plan to see a play and spend time together next week.

Willy, my cat, just gave me a LOUD MEOW to indicate that HE is a priority too, and he did not appreciate my husband and I lingering over live music on the patio tonight. Okay buddy, point taken.

Relationships are an important priority in our lives. Several recent studies have touted the benefits of social relationships on one’s overall health status. This does not mean we are all good at prioritizing our relationships, however. I have struggled in the past with making time to nurture my friendships, sometimes getting wrapped up in personal projects or professional goals, and neglecting to reach out as often as I would like.

Lions Tavern
Hot air balloons outside on Tuesday night while hubby and I listened to live music on the patio of Lion’s Tavern.

I start feeling “out of balance” when I do not get enough hubby time, or kitty time or time with good friends that make me laugh. There is something about spending time with people who love you, people you care about, and those who bring meaning to your life.

And if you feel lonely? Maybe you live far from friends, or do not have family in your area. Please reach out to someone to connect. Make an effort to form relationships that sustain you. If making new friends is difficult for you, realize that it can be difficult for all of us as adults. You are not alone in feeling like this.

But attempts to connect with others is almost always worth it. We may fear rejection, or believe others do not have much in common with us. But I believe it is a bigger risk NOT to connect, and not to allow ourselves to be a little vulnerable to build connection. Sure, they may reject us. But that is only a problem if we make it mean something about us. I like to think when people reject me, they don’t know what they are missing. 😉

It can be as easy as asking someone about themselves, and listening well. Or greeting someone with a smile and a friendly word can bring about a moment of connection, making us (and them) feel less alone, to feel seen and appreciated.

Human beings evolved as a social species. But we can feel lonely in our relationships sometimes, or we can feel lonely on our own. As an introvert, I enjoy being alone and seldom feel lonely. But even I have my limits in terms of “me time.” There is no substitute for being around people who accept me as I am. What a great gift. Let us not forget to be grateful for those kindred spirits when we find them, and to nurture and prioritize our relationships. 

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Outgrowing your boss

When you have a boss who has been very supportive of your career growth and has helped you take the next steps in terms of your leadership, it can be hard to move on. But when you come to a point at which your boss is no longer helping you grow, and seems to have “checked out” a bit from the work, it is time to consider what is next.

They say people do not leave organizations, they leave managers. Even if you work in a highly dysfunctional company, having a good boss can be a beacon. Even one of my favorite books on Wellbeing by Tom Rath and Jim Harter begin with Career Wellbeing as a foundation to our overall wellbeing. Having a boss who cares personally about you and engages with your efforts in a meaningful way can have a very positive influence on your life. This is one reason I take my work as a manager very seriously and I am very intentional about how I work with each member of my team.

However, at some point you may realize that you and your boss may have different goals for the organization or a different outlook on the future. By necessity they have a view of the organization that may not be the same as yours. They have access to different networks and information. They may empathize with your position but not be able to connect their decisions with the operational reality of your work.

It is important to have open dialogues about your perspective and to be as direct as possible about your position. Your boss may not agree and this is not fatal to the relationship in itself. But your boss may make decisions that compromise the execution or the quality of your team’s ability to deliver, or the credibility of your organization. It is probably not intentional. It may reflect their relationships in industry, or fears that saying no will limit future possibilities.

bird rising watercolor
This watercolor reminds me of the song “I’ll Fly Away.”

I have so much gratitude for the opportunities that my director has given me over the past 4 years while I have reported directly to him. At the same time, he is making decisions that compromise the ability of our team to deliver. There is political pressure for these decisions, and I realize that higher up, the forces are different. But I can no longer support a department that puts what I view as undue stress on its employees.

I enjoy being creative and finding ways to be efficient in our work. It is an area where we have grown into a team that is known for going the extra mile. But now we have a situation where we are below “critical mass” in terms of our ability to execute. Dumping more responsibilities on top of an already over-committed team will not work. 

And yet, he continues to add, despite the promise that we would only do this with more resources. I realize he may define resources in terms of dollars, while I define resources in terms of people. But I find myself unwilling to swamp my team yet again when we have barely recovered from the last restructure.

So in a way, I have outgrown my boss. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had for personal and professional growth in the past few years. And I am ready to move on. This is something I have had to grieve at some level. I believe my boss cares personally about people on the team. It has what has kept me here so far. But it is not what will help me grow to the next level in my career.

Goodbyes are hard. And it will be especially difficult to say goodbye to my team. They are wonderful people. But they may have outgrown me as well, who knows? My soul is leading me toward a big leap of some kind. I am ready to listen, look and leap when the next step becomes clear. It is almost less important to me WHAT that move is, than the fact that I will go. That’s how I know I have outgrown my boss.