Sustainable Change

January.  What comes to mind for so many of us when the new year rolls around is:  this is the perfect time to begin again.  To make a fresh start.  To change the bad habits.  To create new ones.  And, this is true.  There is something about the turning over of the calendar to not only a new month, but a new year, that inspires us to do things differently.

You may or may not buy into the New Year’s Resolution idea.  Perhaps you have changed the word “resolution” to “intention”.  Maybe you don’t call it anything in hopes that if you don’t name it, the changes will not only happen, but stick.  You start out with the best of intentions, full speed ahead to make change, and for a while you do great.  But then, life starts to happen.  The job becomes more demanding, the kids’ needs come first, your spouse gets called away for work and everything falls on you … and then you find yourself moving back into the same patterns you were in before, the “new” falls away and the “familiar” returns.  It becomes too difficult to sustain the changes you had promised to make, and you let them fade away, believing that “soon” you will implement them.  When you have more time.

Lao Tzu said, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”.

We know this is true.  It is why so many of us strive to change.  We understand this truth:  if you are living life “A” and you want to live life “B”, you cannot continue to do the things that create life “A” and expect to have life “B”.  You must change the habits and patterns you are currently engaged in so that you can move toward creating the life that you really want.

Whether the life you want consists of better sleep, comfortable digestion, your ideal weight, an increase of energy, a letting go of anxiety or depression … or so much more.

It reminds us of Charlie Brown and his pal Lucy.  Charlie Brown just wants to kick that football.  And Lucy promises him that she will hold it so that he can.  He knows what will happen if he tries.  She will move it and he will fall.  He swears he will never do it again.  But the pull of the familiar is too strong, he goes against his instincts, he gives her another chance, and the same thing happens again.  Charlie Brown finds himself once more on his back, the football out of reach and Lucy smiling smugly with the ball in her hands. charlie-brown-the-football-clip1

So what do you do?  How do you make change happen and then sustain it?

1:  The first step is awareness.  Knowing what you want and need to change so that you can lead a more comfortable and happy life is key.

2:  Next, you must have the desire and motivation to make the change.  This step may take a while to reach.  Until you have the desire to do what it takes to shift your patterns and behaviors, it cannot happen.  Be gentle with yourself in this process.  When you are ready to do things differently, really ready, it will happen with so much more ease and grace.

3:  Change must be made slowly and incrementally for it to last.  The whole “tortoise wins the race” analogy really fits here.  If you rush head first into change without giving it time to ease itself into your life, it is less likely to stick.  Again, be gentle.  Embrace one step at a time.  Let each step integrate before pushing forward.

4:  Find Support.  Someone who can encourage, listen, offer guidance and understanding while you are making the change.

5:  Acknowledge what you have accomplished along the way.  Look to the final goal, but don’t beat yourself up for not yet being there.  Notice every shift you have made and celebrate where you are at right now.

Habits and patterns are there because they are familiar and they work for us … until they don’t.  When you realize that what you are currently experiencing is keeping you from living the life you want, and you are ready to do what you need to do to shift, then you can find support, move slowly and be at ease with yourself.  You have the ability to create lasting, sustainable change that moves you forward into a life that is full of sleep, energy, amazing digestion and so much more.

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Letting Go of Mistakes

About two weeks ago I made a big mistake.

I was driving to the ranch to meet the farrier.  As always, when I arrived at the gate at the end of the driveway, I stopped the truck in order to get out, open the gate and drive through.  As I got out of the truck and closed the door and began to walk up to the gate, the truck started moving.  Straight towards me.

I jumped out of the way and watched in what seemed to be slow motion as the truck went through the gate, took a left turn and ploughed its way over the fence and into the pasture.  I thought it would stop, but it kept going and I ended up running in the pasture after my truck so I could open the door, pull myself in and put the truck in park.

I realized that I had gotten out to open the gate without putting the truck in park.10959619_846862265360117_5747970397287991832_n

I know why it happened.  I have had a lot going on, I was incredibly busy, I was trying to do everything, and apparently, trying to do it all at once.  I wasn’t grounded or present in the moment and in my moving on auto pilot, I forgot the important step of putting the truck in park.

When we make mistakes it is so incredibly easy to judge ourselves.  The “shoulds” the “what ifs” and the negative self-talk can end up defining us.  We can replay the mistake over and over in our minds, we can wish we made a different choice, and we can beat ourselves up and hold on to guilt or shame.

When we do that, we keep ourselves stuck.  We make it so we are unable to move forward.  We resist learning from that mistake so that we can move into a new way of being with greater awareness about what does and does not work for us.

I try to keep the following saying in mind at times when I make a mistake:  Your past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you.

Buddha said it another way:  Each morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most.

So, how do we let go of the mistake so we can move on?  Perhaps starting with just a few simple steps:

1:  Acknowledge that it was a mistake, something that you would not have chosen to do if you had the knowledge you have now;

2:  Recognize that it is the imperfect choices that we make that help to lead us in a more clear direction of what choices we would like to make in the future;

3:  Be gentle with yourself.  Ask yourself how you would react, or what would you say to a dear friend who had made that choice.  Treat yourself with the kindness and forgiveness that you would offer to that friend.

As a mentor of mine, Mark Silver, has said:  Perfection belongs to the Divine.  The rest of us carry erasers, compassion and a dust pan.

 

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How do you take care of yourself amidst the drama and chaos of your overwhelming, everyday life?

Life is going smoothly.  Everything at work is fine, you enjoy what you do and you are doing it well.  Your family and home life is full, but everyone is healthy, the kids are managing school and extra activities, your spouse is also busy with work and the other things he/she loves to do, but you are able to make space to connect as a family and as a couple.  Amongst the busyness, you are also able to find time to do some self- care practices that you love, whether it is walking in the woods, yoga, eating right, spending time with a good friend, gardening, etc.  Whatever it is, you are able to make the time you need to fill yourself up.

And then, something happens.  Your spouse loses his/her job.  A dear family member becomes ill and requires special care.  One of the kids begins to have trouble in school.  All of a sudden, the smoothly flowing routine that had felt like you were in a boat being carried down a pleasant stream begins to feel like you are in a too small boat on a very rocky sea. Overwhelmed-Concept-Final1440x900-620x388

You begin to feel overwhelmed, like you can’t do everything that is on your plate, and you put everyone’s needs ahead of your own.

The one thing that you do for yourself each day, your self-care routine – the one thing that fills you up, is the thing that drops off the list.

You say you don’t have time for self-care.  But the truth is, you don’t have time NOT to practice self-care.

Most all of us have been an on airplane at some point in our lives.  If we pay attention to the flight attendants speech before take-off, most of us could recite what they tell us:  In the case of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop.  Put your mask on first, and then help the person next to you who may need assistance with their mask.

Put your mask on first.  Why?  Because if you can’t breathe, what good are you going to be for the person next to you?  How can you help them put on their mask if you are fighting for air?  And, taking the extra few moments to give yourself the gift of being first, will save not only your life, but the lives of those around you who need your help.

It makes sense in a life or death scenario such as a plane crash.  Why does it seem to be so hard to carry that through to our everyday lives when things get a little out of control?  And how can we remember, and feel good about putting ourselves first?

How do you take care of yourself amidst the drama and chaos of your overwhelming, everyday life?self-care_map

First and foremost, remember that you don’t need 2 hours to practice self-care.  It does not have to be a long drawn out routine, but can be simple and easy, as long as it is done with the intention of taking care of you.

Second, take 5 minutes to yourself.

Put yourself into a room or location where no one else will bother you.  It could be the bathroom if that is the place where you know you will be left alone.  Turn off your phone (don’t even bring it in there if you can help it) and shut the door.

Third, get comfortable, you can sit, or you can stand.  Then close your eyes and take three very long, very deep breaths.

Fourth, feel your feet (or your seat) on the floor.  Really feel it.  And then remember, you are supported.

Fifth, ask yourself one simple question:  What can I do in this moment to take care of myself?

Listen to what comes up.  Your answer will vary.  One day, just these five minutes alone in the bathroom breathing will be all you need to find the strength and energy to move back into the world.  Another day, you may need a bath.  Or a friend to listen to you.  Or a run.  Or a walk.  Or time with your spouse.  Or the opportunity to draw or paint.

Six, do it.  Whatever “it” is.  Give this to yourself.  Make it non-negotiable.

You already know that self-care is not only important, but necessary.  Remembering that when things get overwhelming is the difficult part.  Know that when you are able to put your life saving mask on first, you will be more present and more available for those around you who need you.

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The “right” foods versus the “right foods for you”

Here is an all too common and painful scenario: You have been on a particular diet for 2 months now. You are eating all the “right” foods. You are watching how much you eat, and you are taking out the things that you have been told can cause digestive issues. You are dairy free, gluten free and eating organic, but you still don’t feel well, you don’t have energy and you are feeling discouraged.

What to eat and how to eat can be two of the most confusing things that you can encounter when trying to figure out what is best for you. There is so much information out there: gluten free, paleo, raw, vegan, vegetarian, small meals lots, big meals less often … it goes on and on. How do you know if the way you are eating is supporting you? How do you know if what you are putting in your body and your digestive system is the best thing for you to eat?

What is important to realize, but is not talked about very often is, every body is different and varies greatly in what your nutritional needs may be based upon your body type, your environment and the stage of life that you are in.

Just because you are eating healthy food, does not mean it is the right food for YOU and your digestion.

Whoa. That is big, so I will say it again: Just because you are eating healthy food, does not mean it is the right food for you and your digestion.

I have a client, “Anna”, who had terrible digestive disorders. She decided to eat “clean” and took allergens out of her diet and moved into a completely raw diet. On the raw diet of whole fresh organic foods, her symptoms did not alleviate. In fact, she became even more constipated and gassy, she couldn’t sleep through the night, awaking with crazy dreams, her skin became dry and flaky and she lost too much weight for her frame.

She came to me, completely frustrated because she thought she was doing everything “right” but her symptoms were getting worse.

After an evaluation of Anna, I was able to explain to her that what she personally needed was cooked, heavy, moist foods, rather than the cold, dry light foods that comprise a raw diet. A raw diet is a healthy way to eat, for some body types, but not for Anna’s.

Once she understood herself and what she needed, she was able to shift the diet to match her type, and she was successful in controlling her symptoms of discomfort.

In fact, she was able to eat with ease.

How do you know whether the way you are currently eating is the best way for you in this moment?

First, step away from all the materials and people around you that are telling you about “the right way to eat”.

It is so easy to get caught up in all the diet fads and trends that are being spoken of these days. You see someone’s before and after pictures and hear their story, and you think, if it worked for them, it should work for me. However, what they need may be vastly different than what you and your body require.

Second, take a deep breath, come to center and intend to listen to the signs your body is giving to you. How do you do this? By becoming clear on how you feel.

Third, become clear on how you feel by asking yourself the following questions: What is my energy level? How is my sleep? Am I eliminating regularly and easily? How do I feel after I eat?

If you are tired, not sleeping well, your elimination is not happening every morning on its own and you have gas, bloating, indigestion or heaviness after you eat, then your body is very clearly speaking (dare I say, screaming?) at you that something needs to change. Right now.

Regardless of how this particular way of eating has worked for others, there is something about it that is not supporting your particular needs.

Your body speaks to you. If you can take a moment to step back and listen, it will give you all the information you need. If you aren’t feeling well, sleeping well and full of energy, the food you are consuming and the way you are getting this food, most likely are the cause. Understanding this is the first step in discovering what you can change so that you can start eating in the way that feeds YOUR particular body and needs.

 

Posted in How and What to Eat

Coming Soon…

Info and regular posts coming soon!

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New Workshops

Yoga Nidra with Cynthia and Carin will be held at LifeLoveYoga in Sisters this month! You can sign up at www.lifeloveyoga.com for Monday, January 25th at 4:30 pm.

What People are saying about Carin:

“I came to Carin because my stomach hurt and instead my life has been transformed. This program has been beyond all my expectations”. Molly, Bend, OR

“I came to Carin hoping to improve my digestion and gain clarity on my intentions in life. What I left with was a better understanding of myself and an amazing toolbox of ways to improve my life.” K.V. Bend, OR