Life Lessons: Learning How to Let Go.

It’s not easy letting go. It’s even more challenging when it hurts your ego. The act of letting go is more that just the act itself, it’s a process.

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It’s not easy to let go. It’s even more challenging when it hurts your ego.  The act of letting go  is more that just the act itself, it’s a process.

I recently re-assesed a pattern in my life and decided that it was time to stop the cycle of seeking approval. For those who know me understand that I am not necessarily looking for approval from people, but I seek approval through education. I am addicted to education. I am addicted to getting degrees. My addiction has become my hiding place. I don’t mean learning new things on a day to day basis, I mean going back to school for certificates, degrees, etc. I love learning and that is not the problem. The problem is that I find my value there.  Some of you might not see this as a problem and that is okay because it’s not your problem. However, this is something that hinders me from living a full  life with those I love. Instead of seeking time with friends and family I am behind a computer screen or behind a book. My husband comes home and I am in my corner doing homework. My marriage takes a back seat. My spiritual life takes a back seat. My friendships take a back seat and my family does as well.  I can’t live my life like that anymore.   I want more out of life than just another degree and walk across the stage for a diploma. I choose my family. I choose my marriage. I choose to live my life content just as it is and live life outside of my computer and my books. What is life if it is not lived fully anyway?

After about a year of mulling over this idea of “letting go” I will share with you the steps I took to get to where I am now. My journey is far from being complete, but here is how I  took the first step towards releasing my clutch from that which I hold close and that which inhibits my ability to connect with people.

1. Acknowledgement: Acknowledgement takes courage. Acknowledgement doesn’t necessarily mean we are ready to move on, but it means we can look the problem in the eye instead of hiding from it and ignoring that it exists.

2. Naming: Once you acknowledge the issue give it a name. Living with a nameless issue is like living with blinders on. We can’t fully see our potential and life outside of this problem because we don’t realize that we have blinders on. Often we pretend it’s not a problem because it has no real face and no real name.

3. Say it out loud: Tell someone!  Even if you’re just thinking about it and not ready to take the step to change it quite yet. By sharing it you make it real to the rest of the world. Saying it out loud means that there is someone else who knows it exists.

4.  Acceptance: Acceptance gives us the ability to take the next step in setting a goal. Once you have accepted it you get specific about your goal. How will you follow through? What are the things you need to do to make sure the necessary changes happen? What is your time line? Where do you see yourself in 3, 6, 9 months?

5. Accountability:  Ask for support. Find someone who will check in with you about this. Ask that person to make sure you are taking steps in the right direction. This accountability helps you set your goal in letting go. When you set a goal(s) and you share it you are more likely to follow through than if you don’t share it with anyone.

6. Releasing: Everyday we make the choice to keep moving forward. Choose to take 1 step forward everyday by looking at your goals list and checking in with your accountability partner. There is progress even in just one step.

7. Checking in: There is something magically humbling about accountability. It’s as if we get back to our need for communal support that it opens people up for more conversation. When we are able to be vulnerable people around us can sense that and might open up just by the nature of your honesty. Asking your accountability partner to check in with you every so often is helpful. This will keep you honest and also help you continue with your progress.

Tips For The Spin Class Newbie

So you have decided it’s time to finally take a Spin class. You have probably wondered why anyone would sit on a stationary bike in a dark room with a bunch of strangers and become a sweaty mess. Nonetheless, you are willing to try it.

As a long time Spinner and a certified Spin instructor I can tell you first hand that it takes a lot of physical and emotional gumption to get through a class. You will probably want to quit 30 minutes in, watch the clock constantly and feel like you have been riding a horse for hours after your first class. This is completely normal, and even those of us who have been Spinning for years can attest that sometimes we still have a hard time getting into the right mind-set and leave feeling like it was our first time. Other times, you will have such an amazing ride that you will leave on a high and want to stay longer.

If you have tried Spin once and hated it, give it another try or try a different instructor. If that isnt an option go back anyway! Try changing bikes, locate a fan and sit close to it. If you need help with your bike settings ask your instructor. It might be that you just need a slight adjustment to make your ride smoother.

Some tips for your first ride:

Bring a towel: You will get sweaty and drip everywhere. Wipe yourself off! No one wants to feel your sweat as it splashes them in the face.

Hydrate: Bring a large water bottle. You will be exerting a lot of energy and you will need to replenish yourself.

Reserve a seat: There are a lot of regulars in Spin classes. If you are able to reserve a bike do so. Some regulars can be what I call, “bike snobs” meaning they will only Spin on the same bike every time. Don’t just come in and take a bike, reserve it if you can. No bike reservations? Then first come, first serve.

Attire: If you have moisture-wick work out clothing wear it. If not, cropped pants, shorts and a t-shirt are fine. Some veterans wear padded shorts, if you plan on making this a regular work out you might want to think about padded bike shorts. If not, some shops sell padded seat covers which work great too.

Shoes: The majority of gyms do not rent cycling shoes; that is okay. If you have tennis shoes you can wear those. However, before going to a class check out the website in case they require you wear specific cycling shoes.

Heart rate monitors: These are great for those who are training of those of us who just want to keep a close eye on the calories burned. They are not a requirement for your class, but if you find that you want to track your progress it might be a good investment.

Food: It is okay to have a light snack before class. When I first started Spinning I made the mistake of having a yummy burrito for dinner….let’s just say that was a bad idea. Don’t have dinner and go to class afterwards, you might make a big impression and so will your dinner.

Before class:

Come early to get help setting up your bike. This is so important in order to avoid injury!

During class:

Go at your own pace. Just because everyone in class is doing everything the instructor says that doesn’t mean you need to. Pace yourself, take water breaks, and most importantly, listen to your body.

The resistance knob is your friend! Use the knob to “up” your resistance or to bring it down. It might take you a few times to get the hang of how much resistance is right for you. Just don’t pretend to turn the knob. It is there for a reason and also to help you avoid hurting your knees.

After class:

Stretch! Don’t skip out on stretching after class.

Post work out food: Drink plenty of water! It is recommended that you eat a small, balanced snack of carbohydrates and protein to help your muscles recover quickly immediately after a workout.

So gear up and enjoy your ride!

9 Tips on How to Survive Summer Travel Season

By Allison Knox

We are in the heart of vacation and travel season when so many of us are hurriedly wrapping up life and heading to the airport and, with that in mind, I wanted to share some of my ‘must-have’s’ when I fly. I seriously love to travel, and over the course of numerous flights, both domestic and international, I’ve really honed my carry-on game and wanted to share it with ya’ll:

  1. Water bottle– nothing zaps your energy and mood like being dehydrated. On my way to the gate, my first stop is to fill my water bottle. Plus wherever I’m traveling it’s always nice to have h20 close at hand.
  2. Chapstick – there is nothing like recycled air and mass travel to dry your skin and mouth out and one of my best friends on planes is my Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment.
  3. Snack – it can be very difficult to make good decisions around food when traveling and I’ve found that my best motto is ‘be prepared!’ Especially when it comes to food. I always keep some trail mix, fresh or dried fruit or snack bar handy when hunger strikes.
  4. Tote bag – one of my favorite travel purchases has been my Madewell tote. It’s comfortable and easy to carry, the perfect size to hold everything and, not to mention, the perfect accessory to any outfit!
  5. Earbuds – I find music can set the mood in a really great way (and help to drown out crying babies, overly chatty strangers or flight attendant announcements). It can be so comforting to slip these in your ears and retreat into your own world. (it should be noted…I’m an introvert)
  6. Gum – Again, I cannot stress the need for moisture and freshness when traveling. It’s amazing the little zip this little nugget of chewiness can provide. Don’t forget to offer one to your neighbor!
  7. Tea bag – I enjoy sipping tea when I travel but airlines only carry the tar-black tea variety so I bring my own favorite flavors and just ask for hot water!
  8. Wrap-me-up Scarf – the air temperature fluctuates so much on planes and this is an easy accessory to keep in your bag and throw around your shoulders or your lap as needed.
  9. All-in-one skin care – This is my favorite skin-care product I’ve found…and it’s organic! It serves as a facial cleanser, moisturizer and even make-up remover. I dip in as needed for a little face love after a flight. It is appropriately called Skin Savior from One Love Organics.

That should be a solid start for you and at least get your mind rolling around what your favorite things might be as well.

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Alison lives in Oakland, CA and experiences sheer joy in exploring every corner of the Bay Area, sampling every food, coffee and dessert trend this place has to offer.  She travels regularly to far off places which further fuels her love of adventuring.  She is passionate about connecting with people around the table and sharing in real life.

Trash vs. Treasures. Tips To Help Organize Your Space

Whenever I talk to someone who struggles with organization there are 3 things I hear them say.

1. I have too much stuff and I am overwhelmed with where to start.

2. I don’t want to spend more to organize my space.

3. I am afraid to let go of my possessions.

I definitely understand these concerns. Many times we become attached to possessions because they have a memory attached to them.  Luckily there are simple steps you can take to overcome these challenges and still keep some of the keepsakes you own.

Some questions you should ask yourself before starting are:

1. Do you already have a system in place that creates a sense of organization? 

2. What is the end goal of this project? 

3. Are you willing to part with some possessions?

Ready to get organized?

Start small: Organization can happen over time. It does not have to happen overnight. Many times there are emotions tied to why we keep certain things we own. If you have a mental list of things you will not get rid of think about the why. Remember, that just because you think you should get rid of it does not mean you have to. This is a process. You may feel very strongly about not throwing out that lamp now, but you may change your mind later. Give yourself the flexibility to change your mind. If you have doubts you can always set it aside and come back to it later.

Create 4 piles: The first pile will be your “trash pile.” The second pile will be your “donate pile,” your third pile will be your “keep pile” and your fourth pile will be your “shred pile.” Do this for each room you want to organize. When you find something that belongs in a different room take it to that room until you are done in the room you are working in. This step can cause you to get distracted. Stay focused by remembering that you cannot move on to the other room until you are done with the room you are presently working on. Once you are done you can condense your piles to one per category instead of one per room.

By now, your house probably looks like a complete disaster. It means you are making progress. Don’t get discouraged. Take a break! Order a pizza, sit down to eat and open some windows. If you need a break go outside. Come back and put some upbeat music on.

Re-purposing old containers for storage: Set these aside. You will most likely need these for closet storage or random trinkets you don’t want to toss or don’t want to display.

If you have no organizational system for items in your closet, think about limiting each item to only one drawer. For example: socks and undergarments. Go through your socks and make sure each have their pair. Are they still usable or are they worn out? Only keep what you will wear or what is wearable and only use one drawer. You will be surprised at how much more room you have after just going through your undergarments.

Moving furniture: don’t be afraid to move that armoire in your bedroom into the living room! Sometimes just moving furniture can give your space a fresh face lift and the best part is that you already own it!

Finally, go back to your “keep pile” and “donate pile.” Look through these piles. Is there anything that you can re-purpose now that you have cleared out your space? Does that lamp still fit in the space you have created?

Whatever you cannot find a purpose for place in your “toss pile” or in the “donate pile.”

Final steps: Clean up after yourself! Take out those trash bags, take your donations to a donation center and spruce up your space by dusting and vacuuming. You will have lifted a lot of dust by now so cleaning will give you a sense of pride in what you have accomplished!

Maintenance: This is one of the most challenging aspects of this process. Now that you’ve come down from this organization high you will be faced with small every day challenges like leaving your stuff everywhere and letting your old habits settle back in. So how do you maintain your space without becoming obsessive?

Start with making your bed every day.  Don’t go to bed without accomplishing one task like washing your dishes. Even if you don’t get to picking up your clothes off of the floor at least you did your dishes. Also, don’t just shove things in your closet. Shutting the door will not make your mess go away, it will just get bigger and messier. Need a motivator or distraction to help you clean up after yourself? Turn on your favorite T.V show and for every commercial break get up and pick up around your house. By the time your hour long show ends you will have spent approximately 15 minutes picking up, and that pile of clothes on the floor will be gone.

The Confidence Gap

 

I tend to surround myself with incredible, out going, intelligent women.

As of late I have been a part of conversations that always end up with the same conclusion: I am afraid.

Why are we afraid? What are we afraid of? How is this fear stopping us from living a complete and happy life?

Daily I hear women talk about wanting to start their own business, start a blog, etc. Along with these dreams I also hear the doubt in their voices.

“I want to start teaching yoga, but…”

“I want to apply for this job, but..”

“I want to ask him out for drinks, but…”

“I want to lose weight, but…”

This confidence gap that stands between us and our dreams reminds of the infamous glass ceiling. Always trying to reach it, but never really getting there.

Why?

Is it our rational minds that brings us back and reminds us that we can’t follow our dreams because we need to pay the bills? Is it because we are afraid of the sound of our own voice? Are we afraid that someone with more education, certifications, etc. is going to call us out in front of colleagues? Is it biological?

How do we close the “confidence gap” and realize that our dreams and fears are valid and still cross this threshold that keeps holding us back?

What are you afraid of?

 

Take the quiz below and asses your confidence level

http://theconfidencecode.com/confidence-quiz/

 

Challenging Our Views On Self-Love

I have been thinking a lot about my food choices. Actually, I love food and when I am not eating I am probably thinking about what I will eat next.

I was always the chubby one in my family and to this day food is one of my struggles. For about 5 years after college I decided I wanted to be a vegetarian. I lost weight and I felt and looked lean and healthy. I was an “average” size 10-11 and yet I was still not satisfied with how I looked. I had lost 50lbs, I was exercising every day, and I was disciplined. Looking back, despite the fact that I was much leaner than I am now, I was still comparing myself. The same judgmental eyes that had picked on me as a kid were now staring back at me in the mirror.

It is now 2014, I have gained back some of that weight I had lost, my clothes don’t fit quite right and I still struggle with my own body image. Every day I look in the mirror and still find something to complain about. It doesn’t matter that I have a loving husband that tells me how beautiful he thinks I am or that I have a degree in women’s health.

Self love begins with me. It does not begin with getting a degree in women’s health or having a partner who tells you how gorgeous you look naked.

My body image has taken quite a beating through out the years by friends, family and strangers who think it’s okay to comment on my size or the extra weight I carry in my hips or thighs.

I, for one am tired of following suit and believing that my body deserves all of the hate I throw at it.

I dare you to strip down in front of a mirror and compliment yourself. It just takes one compliment. Try it once a day every day for the next week.

Changing our habits does not require just a physical action. It requires focus, discipline and most importantly, self love.

30: A Year of Loathing

My husband is turning 30 tomorrow.

April 29th has been on my radar for the past year. It seems that every month up until this point my husband has been counting down. Even as we spent the day together celebrating he would comment on how “OLD” he was or how he seemed to think he was going bald. He is not going bald. No matter how many times I tell him he doesnt believe me.

Needless to say that this got me thinking about these “age milestones” we fear so much. Why are we so paranoid? When did 30 become such a loathed age?

What are we afraid of? Is is that we have not reached the goals we thought we would have accomplished by now?

Is it that we begin to notice our inability to lose weight as well as we did when we were 21? Or maybe its that we “feel” old. Our knees are weaker, our hair is thinning or graying. Perhaps it’s that we start looking more like our parents whom we vowed never to be like.

How do we get past these social and cultural expectations to have it all together before the age of 30?

How many times are we feeding into this idea that our life begins to dwindle after 30?

Think about it.

Some common themes I have heard:

1. Your chances of getting pregnant drop.

2. If you are not married by 30 you probably wont get married

3. You now at the age your parents were when they had 3 kids. What are you doing with your life?

4. You are still renting an apartment. Why havent you purchased real estate?

5. You have a beer belly and your hair is thinning…

6. You have a ton of debt, little to no savings, no retirement plan. You are screwed.

No wonder we are afraid to age! With age comes expectations.

So you have a little extra weight on you. Instead of blaming it on age and finding excuses do something about it!

You want to travel more? Put some money away and take a weekend road trip.

Think about how much you have learned in your glorious 30 years, how much life you still have to live, and how many adventures you still have to go on!

Stop living someone else’s expectations of you.