courage to change.

If you're anything like me, you have a love/hate relationship with change. I LOVE the idea of change because new and shiny things draw my attention. I'm a woman. Also, just a human.

New car, yes please. New yoga mat, of course. New apartment = new decor. New love, butterflies. You get the picture. AND I also hate it. Absolutely down to my core fear it. Because what hides behind the shininess of change? Discomfort. Unease. The great unknown. 

Change means stepping out of my comfort zone. Altering my schedule and routine. Compromising. Change often presents fresh challenges that make me question myself, my abilities and my needs. It's because of these scary things, I often avoid it at all costs. I play it safe and stay put, often longer than necessary because it's comfortable to me and I know it. I know I can do something so I stay in it longer than it continues to serve me, whether it be a relationship, a job, a friendship or a place I live. Anyone relate here?

See, what I've learned in my experiences, is staying in something simply out of comfort, can be a big problem. When something no longer serves me, I stop growing. My light tends to dim down inside and my sparkle fades. Once this happens, my mood and my belief in myself slowly start to diminish and I begin to question my self worth. Maybe I'm still in this because I'm not good enough for anything else. I can't leave because no one else will want me. I don't look like that person, so I wouldn't possibly get hired there. I know I'm really good at Power 1 Yoga, so I'll stay that way I don't look stupid and out of place at Power 2. This becomes viscous negative self talk and I feel defeated even before a decision is made. It's exhausting really. 

To play devil's advocate, I've also learned in my experience to pause before I make a change. Check my motives. I know right now my best friend is reading and smiling because just yesterday she said to me, "Kate, what are your motives?" I hate when she says that, but it's true. Pausing before leaping into change to make sure we aren't avoiding something, acting out of fear, putting our selfish needs before other's, is important to look at. Asking the question, does this serve the best version of myself? Not just making a change because it's easier to do or because it serves our own selfish needs. Asking these questions is hard because it reveals our true self behind the thick outer shell. It shows us our inner most selves, our "atman" in yogic philosophy, which isn't always pretty if we are being honest. A lot of my motives have shown self-serving and self-seeking behaviors, which I hate. It's also just human. AND by becoming aware of these behaviors, I am able to courageously look at myself and make a decision to make a change, or not make a change. The most I study myself, the more that it revealed, the purer my atman becomes, the lighter I become.

Rewined to 3.15 years ago. One thousand one hundred and fifty four days ago, 27,677 hours. This was the day I made the biggest decision of change I have even made, and possibly ever will have to make in my life. I avoided it for years probably after the initial thoughts arose in my mind that it needed to occur. (Side note: DO NOT let fear of change build this long. Letting things build for this long, makes it that much harder to change. Like, really fucking hard. Lesson learned.) OK back to the story, 37.83 months ago, I made a phone call of desperation. After 28 years of living, 13 of which I was actively drinking and using drugs, I picked up the phone, called my Dad and admitted defeat. Once I hung up the phone and told him I needed help to stop the cycle, I knew I had a long road ahead. Changing my entire life, my entire way of being from dawn to dusk, was going to need an entire brain rewire. To change my way of thinking about myself and the world around me was going to take a Gosh darn miracle. Changing my body back to a normal functioning human being's body, free from drugs and alcohol that ran it for so long, seemed nearly impossible. But, it happened. Change happened. And it took courage. It took dropping ego and asking for help. It took stepping WAY out of my comfort zone. It took tears and unease and a lot of compromise and willingness. Thank God for change. 

Today, when I am faced with a decision of change, I can look back at this time, at the hardest and best damn decision I ever made, and draw from it. Draw strength and courage and reminders for just how I did it. 

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So, what are some steps we can take to encourage healthy change? To take the leap and make it happen? Here are 6 easy steps I've thrown together to put your mind at ease about creating space for change to occur in your life: 

  1. Make a list of pro's and con's. List out the ways your situation is serving you in a healthy way, and ways it is no longer serving you as the best version of yourself. Weigh the pro's and con's.
  2. Talk with others. We are not alone! If I've learned anything in life it is that my situations that arise are NOT unique. Someone has walked the path before me. So I pick up the phone and dial a gal pal or family member and bounce ideas of them. Get different perspectives that could help you take the leap or shed some light on the situation. 
  3. Make a plan. You don't have to just throw your hands up in the air and say, "I'm done, I'm moving on!". That would just be a terrible idea (don't you just love those sometimes though...terrible ideas...<3). Make a strategy toward your next moves so you can make the change with ease in your heart.
  4. Trust the process. Connect with your higher power and turn it over. Believe that everything is going to work out just fine. 
  5. PAUSE. BREATHE. DO SOME YOGA. MEDITATE. 
  6. Take the leap. One of my favorite quotes: "What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?"

What is holding you back? List it. Acknowledge it. Consider it. And change it if it no longer serves you. Who knows where the road could take you...

my love affair with me.

If you have been following me for the last 3 years, or even the last 3 blog posts, you might have picked up on my dedication to me. I am dedicated to becoming a woman comfortable in her own skin, thoughts, actions and decisions. To become the best version of myself. Dedicated to self? Some of you might be thinking, "isn't that conceded or self-centered?" Maybe self-involved or just plain selfish?
My answer is yes and no. AND so very necessary. 
I have found that in order to live my life vibrantly and with purpose, I have to know me. I have to understand what inspires me, saddens me, what really ticks me off, and what brings me joy. I have to understand my actions, intentions, and reactions to people, places and things. I have to attempt to experience, create, mess up, re-create and possibly succeed. To do all of this, it means a lot of me time. 
So, for the last few years I have feverishly worked on these things. I have filled journal after journal about it, talked to other like-minded people, some not so like-minded people, analyzed it all and made proclamations of SELF; then thrown all of it away and started over again. The best thing about all this me time, is that it has actually made me a better person. I am living as a more authentic self. That right there is service to others, so not so selfish anymore... :)
Truthfully, I lived far too much of my life caring what other's thought of me that it drove me crazy with self doubt, insecurity and resentments. It made me sick. I've given up on all that now and I've just decided to do me - to be me, whatever that looks like on any given day. I've dropped the need to look good in other's eyes and focus on what makes me feel good inside. Ironically, I'm a much cooler person now that I'm not trying to dang hard to fit in. I'm just trying on a daily basis to live in my true North and most authentic self. People really dig it. 
So, what does this love affair look like exactly? Well, currently I am sitting on a balcony, overlooking the waters of the US Virgin Islands.  It is unreal. Like a dream, or out of the movies. This can't be MY life. But, it is. A couple days ago a friend saw a picture I posted and sent me a message asking, "what are you doing in St. Thomas?!" My quick response was, "visiting a friend and channeling my inner Goddess, duh..." Truth. I am here and I am getting in touch with who I am down to my core and standing in my own power as a woman. Years ago, I would have never done something like this for myself. Invested in what set my soul on fire. Here I am, creating magic for myself. It's a beautiful thing. Can't afford it? Neither could I. But, I made it happen. I picked up some extra side gigs and saved where I could and called a friend and asked to stay with her while I was here. Where there is a will there is a way. So go. Make it happen for yourself. 
While I've been here, I have spoiled myself with white sandy beaches and thong bikinis (because I can!). I have taken myself out to eat on the water and gone snorkeling with the sea life. I have taken moments to pause and reflect on it. My friend and I have been active in Crossfit and yoga and running....and ice cream. And I am so incredibly insatiably happy, I could die right now and feel no sorrow. OK, too far. But, really, I am in my true self and so deserving of the love I am giving me right now. 
It's OK to invest in ourselves I have learned. Yoga teacher training was a huge investment, marathon training - big investment, weekend getaways -big investments. What is on your list of investments for YOU? Not for anyone else, but for you. Think about it.
While all parts of my love affair can't look like St. Thomas getaways, what does my love affair look like on a daily basis? It's the small things that make it big really.
Usually my day starts with some sort of prayer, or diddy as I refer to them. A reflective thought. Usually it is a few extra moments with my eyes closed to heart my breath, maybe a quick 5 minute guided meditation, and then, "allow me to hear what you need me to hear, say what you need me to say, and be who you need me to be today". Simple. That's what works for me. You are welcome to borrow it. Often times, I take a Child's Pose for this diddy because getting on my knees to pray I've found isn't comfortable for me.
After my upon awakening routine, I have to find movement. I am my best self when my body feels strong and healthy. Whether I go for a run, do yoga at home or in a studio setting, or hit the gym, I've got to move! It sets the tone for my day to be alive and energized and productive! Maybe you live on the water and can cruise on your SUP, or go for a swim, but try some movement. Get active! Put your physical health as a priority!
If it's a work day, awesome! My day has already been successful and I can carry that through the next 8 hours or so with my co-workers. If it's not a work day, well then game on! You can usually find me scoping out a coffee shop, playing at the beach with my dog, River, connecting with others in recovery, working on making my back yard a sanctuary, treating myself to a pedi, taking a yoga workshop, reading a book in a park, enjoying a cold cup of froyo...I mean you name it, I'm doing it! I spent way too much of my life already wasting time just waiting for life to find me, that I try to dabble in everything to make the most of my time here on Earth. I do what makes me happy and what brings me joy! If I'm doing it and I don't feel joyful, well then on to the next!
I used to sit at home, curtains drawn, sipping wine and growing angry with the world and all the people in it. Your lives were all so beautiful and free and I was living in a self created prison of resentment and self-pity. It was a really ugly time for me. When I finally got help to get out of the mess I created, my thinking began shifting as I began to find value in myself as a human being again and fall back in love with me day by day. At first, I had to remind myself of the steps to take to find happy on a daily basis. After awhile, it became routine, second nature. It became my normal because how could I forget to go for a run? I found that I love running!
It takes work to create the life you've always wanted. It takes guts, and messes and mess ups and do-overs. It takes looking at your inner self in it's most raw form, head on, and taking all the good, the bad and the ugly, putting it on display and changing what you can and accepting the rest. It takes trying on all sorts of crazy ideas like training for your first full marathon in two months and proving to yourself you can do it, and trying again later. It takes humbling yourself asking for help when you need it. It takes goal setting and commitment and doubt and love and a lot of unsure moments.
Why would you want all that? Sounds scary. But, that is life. We are human. Get to know yourself while you are here. Be the best you and pass it on. We will all love it. Once you get there, to that love affair with yourself, it truly is worth the fight.