I believe in this simple equation: You + (trusting) your body’s deepest wisdom = self-health

Loving Her Interview: Heather Day of Vital Being Wellness

Heather of Vital Being Wellness

A few months ago, I had the distinct pleasure of getting to know and be interviewed by Heather Day of Vital Being Wellness. She is a self proclaimed anxiety warrior, a kindred spirit and a woman walking her talk in this world.  I am over the moon excited to share with you her words on meeting your body and the art of loving your {im}perfections.

 

*Tell me more about your idea of the art of loving your {im}perfection.

Intellectually I’ve always know that perfection is a myth. When I am fully honest with myself, I recognize the insidiously ridiculous side of the whole concept- by nature, nothing is ever perfect.  Trees grow limbs in patterns all akimbo, but when a leaf or branch no longer serves the whole, the tree slowly adapts to live to its highest potential.  What would a perfect tree look like? Smell like? That question is useless. A tree lives, thrives, grows, reaches toward the sun and deeply into the earth. And that is all it needs. We are not so different.

Still, it took me a long, long time to fully believe and embody what my intellectual brain knew deep within my heart and spirit. Now I can see, and hear and feel::

I am imperfect, flawed, broken and ever-growing. And in that dance, wild and un-choreographed and gorgeous, it is exactly my imperfection that is the perfect beauty.

It is the joy that makes me glow that is my gift to my community. In the messy process of exploration, it is art. It is perfectly me, perfect and exactly what I need to live in truth with my highest self. And now that I know- and believe- that my wild dance is the only way for me…. Well, I have no choice but to love my imperfection!

*How do you suggest meeting your body where it is?

There is this magical place, it seems, this beautiful relationship that a woman can have with her body.  It exists in the space where we stop trying to force her into some sort of odd shaped mold, forget about building muscle where it doesn’t belong or losing fat from the places we need it, and start adorning it in sunlight, and luscious oils, and clothes that flatter its form. We start spending more time nude. We start celebrating its strengths and honoring its struggles.  And in that place, the body finds joy. Balance.

When we listen keenly to what the body is saying, it gives us all we need to know.

For me, I’ll never have a muscular frame.  My body isn’t meant to take that form- I have long, lean arms and legs that are more suited for yoga than organized sports. I used to hate them with a passion, their lack of curves and musculature, but now they stretch so beautifully in a forward bend. I’m not a busty gal either, and I’ll never quite fill out a dress the way my best girlfriends do. I’ve dieted, I’ve overeaten, and my body has been many different shapes as a result. But she has settled into one that is healthy, strong, and balanced now that I’ve stopped forcing.  I honor the fact that my body doesn’t want meat, but really needs fat and grains. I know that yoga is like honey for my body and soul. Weight lifting, not so much.

Listen. Your body houses infinite wisdom and speaks in every moment. We just need to be willing to accept the unique truth that is ours alone, and know that we will serve ourselves best by meeting the body where she is.

*How did you come to love your body? How do you tune into the cues of your body?

This question is juicy. Tender.  I’ve been writing and thinking a lot about this recently, and I’ve come to realize that during the time in my life that I didn’t love my body and ignored her cues, the pain had to crescendo to a fracture point. My heart, my spirit, and my body were so, so tired of the battle.  I was no longer a woman- I was a mind in a body, trying to rend one from the other, to tear my identity from this shell that was the enemy of all I wanted to be.  Or thought I did.

There was a time of breaking- breaking down, breaking open, so many tears and apologies to the body that is my vessel in this journey.  And the greatest wisdom that grew forth was that we are one. Yes, my body and my soul and heart, but all of this- this Universe, we are all one. A gorgeous dance of energy. And once I came to see myself as one piece of it all, my body carrying the light and love of my spirit, I surrendered. That’s the only way to put it- complete surrender.

And by absolving myself of the duty to be independently perfect, a superhero so strong I could carry the weight of it all and maintain six-pack abs… I could slow down and listen.

For me, that’s the point of turning:: finding the slow, the quiet, the deep, long breaths. Only when I am not constantly barraging my senses and my body with stimulation and “shoulds” and overworked-underslept stress can I hear the fullness of the wisdom my body speaks. It’s always there, and it’s always right. When I listen and honor, I am in balance and harmony. I feel strong, inspired, joyful.  When I’m not listening, I slide. I get headaches, don’t sleep well, start to cast sideways glances at the mirror. But with reconnection, a day to myself, a long bath… it’s like calling up your oldest friend. We pick up right where we left off, and it is blissful.

Heather is the Mistress of Magical Living, an Imperfect Illuminatrix, a Right-Hand Righteous Revolutionary and pure inspiration on loving her. You can find her at vitalbeingwellness.com.

Hello Beauty

 

In my last post, I wrote about self-esteem and self-love, asking which do you choose to put your focus on. While I don’t believe that they are mutually exclusive, you have to begin somewhere so begin with examining the relationship with your body because it is the first relationship that you have.

Granted, there are entire billion dollar a year industries devoted to pointing out the perceived flaws of being human and we often unconsciously measure ourselves against the unattainable perfection that is presented in magazines, on TV and in the movies. Yet before that, before you picked up that you were somehow less than beautiful, you were a baby that came into this world with wide eyed amazement. As a baby, you were fascinated as you discovered the parts of your body, you were mesmerized by your toes, you pulled yourself upon your feet, your legs wobbling as you got a sense of what they were and what they could do. You explored the world with your hands, your fingers touching different objects.  You probably even sought to understand your world by putting everything into your mouth, by trying to literally ingest the new things that you came across.

The days past, life crept in and you began to realize that your body wasn’t like other bodies. Maybe the adults around you criticized more than they celebrated their own bodies. Maybe the women that you saw on TV did not look like you. Maybe someone made a thoughtless remark about your body but somewhere along the way, a crack of insecurity became a divide of self loathing creating distance and tension between you and your body and your body became the enemy rather than the ally that it always wanted to be.

Perhaps that is where you find yourself today. Decades away from the connection with the body you were born into, a stranger in a strange land, not knowing the language anymore, not knowing how to bridge the gap. What do you?

As with the beginning of any relationship you begin by saying hello.

What does hello look like?

Hello can take may forms but the goal in this reintroduction is to embody your physical being, to begin to rediscover what it is that your body likes and doesn’t like using your five senses.

A hello can be:

  • the sound of your favorite music playing as you sway from side to side or shake your tailfeathers.
  • through touch, reaching out to hold a hand, to hug a dear one, to kiss someone you adore or maybe taking your daily shower with your full attention feeling the tingle of your skin as you use a body brush.
  • wearing various aromatherapy scents that your body responds to.
  • through sight as you adore yourself in the mirror wearing your favorite clothes and shoes that have you feeling just like “you.”
  • though the taste of a mindfully eaten and enjoyed meal.

Whatever your hello looks like doesn’t really matter and it is completely up to you and your body. What matters is that you back toward yourself, you look into the mirror and with an open heart you look at the beauty that has always been there.

 

 

Self Esteem or Self Love – Which Do You Choose?

 

Recently, I was listening to the audiobook version of  “Self-Compassion” by Kristin Neff. She was talking about some research around self-esteem and how high self-esteem can actually be a false goal. The research she cited did not surprise me because we’ve all met the person whose opinion of themselves far outshines their ability, the person who blames the circumstance or others for their mis-steps, the person who never takes responsibility for any of the mistakes but is more than happy to jump in and grab all of the praise.

She writes “Self-esteem is an evaluation of our worthiness, a judgement that we are good, valuable people. Research shows that self-esteem is more strongly influenced by the perceived judgments of strangers than close friends and family. We tend to give more weight to what nameless, faceless, “other people” think of us. The big hole in this line of reasoning, of course, is that the thread on which we’re hanging our self-esteem is incredibly thin.”

As I listened, I began to think about the intersection between self-esteem and self-love. As I work with coaching clients, my personal goal for each person is to love themselves. I weave in ways to introduce them to their physical being, to help them begin to see how their body is constantly communicating with them and has always wanted to be an ally, a support, a loving and trusting best friend. Ultimately my wish for them is to reach a state of self-love. Yet, I am often asked, how do I do I love myself when I weigh more than I should? When I am not working out everyday? When I ate too many carbs or too much sugar? I think what they are really asking is

“How do I love myself when I am not perfect?”

My answer is always the same.

Right now, in your imperfection, is the very best time to love yourself.

Think about those people in your life that you already love. When they are vulnerable, when they make mistakes, when they do something that you would really prefer that they didn’t do, do you love them less? Do you look them in the eye and tell them that they aren’t quite good enough? Do you withhold your kindness and compassion waiting for the day that they will be perfect? Of course not, you pull them closer to you, you remind them that they are amazing despite their momentary evidence to the contrary. You love them more for their vulnerability and for their realness.

What would it be like if we began to turn just a bit of that love toward ourselves?

What if each time we looked into the mirror we reminded ourselves of our innate worthiness and goodness? What if we reminded ourselves that we are valuable just as we are? What if we just loved ourselves for simply being?

Everyone’s journey back to loving themselves is separate and different but I truly believe that it is necessary and vital. As I continue to walk farther down my path of self-love, I find that what others think doesn’t matter as much. I don’t feel the need to defend my choices or seek praise for my successes because I know that when I get home and look into the mirror, the woman looking back at me will think that I am alright just as I am.

Scenes from a Weekend: World Domination Summit Edition

Last weekend I went to the World Domination Summit in Portland along with 999 other people from around the world. The underlying theme asked the question how do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?

The line up of main stage and breakout session speakers included some consistent inspirations like Brene Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Susan Cain and Kate Courageous as well as some “new to me” online voices the likes of Chris Brogran, Pam Slim, Tara Gentile and Scott Harrison. The topics up for discussion ranged from the power of vulnerability, to introversion to defining your superpower to inspiring your audience to dealing with overwhelm. It even included a way to donate your next birthday.

It was a full weekend.

I have noticed that the attendee posts about the details of the conference are emerging with so much to share. (Did I mention that the conference began with Brene Brown getting 1000 people up on their feet to single Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing and it ended with Chris Guillebeau  – the organizer of WDS – and his band of volunteers giving each attendee an envelope, inside of which was a crisp $100 dollar bill and a brief note of that ended with ” Start a project, surprise someone or do something entirely different – it’s up to you.” Pretty amazing bookends no doubt but for me I sit with the question that the conference began with on Saturday morning.

How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?

Initially, it felt like such a big question but as the week has passed and the longer that I sat with the question upon my heart I saw that the answer is found in the smallest of places, it is resides in the infinite number of choices we make in our day to day life.

It lives in the moment when we can choose to criticize or to find compassion for another. It lives in the moment when we choose to pull someone closer or to push them away. It lives in the moment when we hear our body speak to us and we choose to listen or to ignore the pleas for loving attention. It lives in the choice to say yes or to say no. It lives in the choice to smile at a stranger or avert our eyes.

So how will I strive to live a remarkable life in a convention world?

I will show up in my life, get present in as many moments as I can and then I will choose to.

 

Dirt… It Does A Body Good

Would it surprise you to know that consuming a little dirt is actually good for you?

According to a recent op-ed in the New York Times entitled Dirtying Up Our Diets evidence is mounting against the over use of hand-sanitizers, that they are harming us more than helping us. Throughout human history, man has lived with germs and bacteria. Every time our immune system came into contact with a new bacteria, it would learn how to fight it off or adapt and live with it.

If we don’t allow our systems to come in contact with the new strains of germs and bacteria, how will we adapt?

I am certainly not suggesting that we start to mix dirt into our favorite recipes, as a matter of fact, consuming unwashed fruits and veggies can introduce dangerous rather than helpful bacteria so what can you do to boost immunity if you’re not into eating dirt?

Here are a few tips from the Institute for Intergative Nutrition:

  1. Eat whole. The closer your food is to its natural form, the more vitamins, minerals, and yes, dirt, your body will absorb, process, and benefit from.
  2. Earn extra points for organic foods. While a little soil and a few microbes may do a body good, pesticides do not.
  3. Buy local, and from farmers markets when possible. Not only will your produce be fresher and therefore richer in vitamins and minerals, but it will also be closer to the (immunity-boosting!) soil.
  4. Dump your harsh chemical cleaners for natural alternatives. Bleaches and anti-bacterial cleansers are overkill for most household messes and the chemicals can cover your surfaces and fill your air with toxins. Baking powder or vinegar can handle most cleaning jobs, leave surfaces toxin-free, and won’t over-sanitize.
  5. Wash your fruits and vegetables, and practice good food safety at all times. Listeria, salmonella, and E. Coli are not good places to start building that strong immune system.
  6. Get plenty of sleep. 
  7. Go easy on the hand sanitizer. Washing with hot water and regular old soap will leave your hands plenty clean without the harsh effects on your skin.