Radical Self-Care and its role in Activism

Radical Self-Care and its role in Activism

I write to you today to prove to you definitively that:

  1. your burnout serves no one and
  2. to suggest methods of self care which are specifically useful in building resilience.

I am hoping to make this case so strongly that you begin these nuriousing practices immediately and maintain them consistently ongoing. I start by sharing my story. Please bear with me.

When I arrived in Rwanda I could tell the team was already burnt out. Sarcasm, bitterness and tension were always felt. The thin smiles that covered them did nothing for me. It was a shock. Not Africa, not Rwanda, not the Rwandan people, the people there to help.

I’m asked often about my experience in Rwanda and it pains me that this is the first and most visceral memory which comes to mind. I know it’s not what people want to hear. It’s not the story that I want to tell, but it’s the one that lingers and it nags at me for a reason.

Since those three months in Rwanda over a decade ago I’ve thought hard and spoken at length about just how dangerous it is to have people in service who are burnt out. Attitudes of cynicism and resentment hang like clouds around this particular flavor of exhaustion and so adversely impact the recipients of our service, it is advisable to do nothing rather than work while harboring these feelings. It’s something I talk about for a long time in my Trauma Informed Yoga Teacher Trainings where I advise yoga teachers on how to teach marginalized communities and those who have been through trauma.

I hammer in the point both because we don’t want to harm the very people we are here to serve and because when we commit to ridding the world of harm that means harm to self as well. It’s documented and common knowledge in the nonprofit sector that some of the best in service and activism abandon their causes because of experiencing these feelings. We don’t want to lose them. We want them healthy spiritually, mentally, and physically, and filled with joy when they serve. This can only happen if they take proper measures to take care of themselves.

Self care that works is of a specific flavor.
It’s not really a bath or a glass of wine (although those are great). It’s filling oneself with self-love, self-compassion, inner joy, and equanimity. These four attitudes, the Brahmaviharas, or highest dwellings are the answer to a long life in service and activism and you can practice them in a variety of ways, the most common being Metta or Loving Kindness Meditation. I recently gave a talk on this at virtual yoga retreat and you can purchase the whole retreat (9 sessions) or that single talk here. It will guide you through how to think about and practice each of the four attitudes.

Being in nature is another way to “fill the cup”. 
We are nature, and getting in touch with that and grounding in it is imperative for our health. Specific practices such as walking meditation, standing barefoot on the earth, sitting in a particular corner of nature and observing the life there, sun gazing, following the moon cycles, and others can all reconnect us to our true nature and give us the rich wholeness we need to pursue activism ongoing. As many of you know, my husband and I are currently residing in the Catskills and where we are practicing these methods and preparing programming to help you do the same.

Enriching yoga and movement practices can also fortify us mind, body and spirit. 
Here we must make sure to choose those somatic experiences which are low or no impact, quiet, and meaningful and be sure to do them with an intention of soothing. The Yin/Restorative class at Land Yoga is a perfect example of this and one we want to deeply encourage at this time. Make it extra juicy with props from Manduka who gives a percentage of sales to Land Yoga when you write “landyoga” in their promotion box at check out.

These three practices are for everyone. 
You may not identify as being actively engaged in activism or service but most of us actually are in positions of giving for many parts of our day. Whether it’s as a parent, teacher, friend, or colleague, it is of benefit to all of us to find ways to be in this world with an abundance of generosity and whole-heartedness that never gives out. It’s possible and it’s closer than you think.

Remember:

  1. Hurt people hurt people and therefore your wellness is of benefit to yourself and others.
  2. You are no good to anyone if you burn out and could unintentionally harm those you wish to help.
  3. There’s a special kind of “self-care” which is rooted in self-love and self-compassion. This type of self-care results in a boundless flow of care for others.
  4. You and the world are worth it.
  5. This way of being is closer than you think. Make the first steps and you will feel that.
Fortitude, Friction, and Authenticity or Signs you might be just a bit Jersey

Fortitude, Friction, and Authenticity or Signs you might be just a bit Jersey

This musing was written in April 2018

Is it possible the best things really come from New Jersey? As I wrapped up a week of incredible connections, I couldn’t help asking myself if Fair Lawn, New Jersey the hometown I ran from is really where it’s at.

Last week consisted of four really major New Jersey connections: Marie Forleo, Bruce Springsteen, Seane Corn, and well, ME!

Fortitude

To be fair, I’ve been hanging with Marie (on line that is) for the last six weeks. She’s a proud Jersey girl with meaningful stories about her roots, most notably the one about her mother and the Tropicana radio. It’s so good I’m going to let her tell it. The lesson there: “everything is figure-out-able”. Chew on that one for awhile when you are stuck in a jam and imagine it being at the core of your understanding… Brilliant!

My dad is kind of the same. He fixed our dryer everytime it broke for years, until they finally stopped making replacement parts for that model. He had just finished re-building the wall which creates the narrow stairway down to the basement when the dryer broke for the last time. It never fit up that hallway which was one of the motivations for fixing again and again. What did he do? He broke down the wall, replaced the dryer, and built the wall up again. I was tired hearing him tell it, but it never escaped me for a minute, his fortitude.

Fire

I took dad with me to the second Jersey connection last week, Bruce Springsteen, or as we fans lovingly call him, The Boss. In Springsteen on Broadway, Bruce weaves childhood memories with solo renditions of some of his greatest songs. His stories bring you right inside the Jersey town he grew up in, so much so you can see the church bell, hear the heels of his mother clicking, and smell the Nestle factory coffee wafting through the air. (We had the same thing on windy days in my Jersey hometown with the smell of baking cookies from the Nabisco Factory covering the town.)

Bruce tells of the friction he had growing up different in a small town. His dad was against his desired profession, there was barely money to rent a guitar, and when his first break finally seemed to come in way of a record label, the producer slept with his girlfriend. What were the lessons? He learned that rubbing up against resistance is fuel for an artist and developed a fire inside of him. He learned he had more to lose from being comfortable than ever from taking a risk. He got good at going to challenging places in life and within himself. Boy did that pay off. 

These are the same lessons we aim to learn as aspiring yogis and seekers. All of us in life experience our greatest leaps when we dare ourselves to step into the uncomfortable and stay to see what is beyond it. Yoga practitioners must take the time to see what is underneath, how we react to stress, and what we can learn from turning friction into fire.

Authenticity

Jersey girl Seane Corn talked about this and more in her Yoga Journal LIVE Fundamentals of Vinyasa Yoga workshop last Friday. Laughing about her since then highly diminished Jersey accent, she recalled the embarrassment of the Jersey “Downward Dawg” off her tongue when she moved out west to California and how she shied away from Sanskrit words like Om and Namaste for fear of sounding even more ridiculous. Eventually that hiding didn’t work for her anymore. It was inauthentic. She had to release the real prayer Goddess she was and is. Today Seane’s yoga class prayers go way beyond a simple Namaste. They have become central to the classes her worldwide followers flock to hear her teach and she’s even teaching others how they can add prayer to their teachings. To imagine a Seane Corn without prayer is nearly impossible. 

It was by embracing her unique voice that Seane was able to shine to her fullest. She continues to do just that and that is why we are so excited to welcome her to the SOULFest Global line-up.

Coming Home

We all have to run away, escape, joy ride, and experience our freedom. That’s what Bruce Springsteen talks about in so much of his music. We flee, sometimes to absolutely nowhere, leaving everything we know so we can be new. So we can be free. 

For a while this is magic. Eventually the novelty wears off and new becomes regular once again. Then we return home often with a new found respect for everything we ran from. Nostalgia, yes, but maybe even deeper than that. Having left we can see the gems we once rejected are the core values that took us so far. 

We return to those strengths, and to the warm embrace of our culture and community.

Loyalty

That brings us to me. As I put the last work into My Bliss Book, my daily planner + online coaching system releasing this May, it became obvious I had to launch it at home in Fair Lawn. What has Jersey meant to me? My hometown gave me so much, but most of all it taught me loyalty, commitment, and the protection of a community. Through all the years, no matter where I ran, the devotion of that community was always there, just waiting for me to return home again. 

Signs You Might Be Just a Bit Jersey

Truth is if you have the fortitude of Marie Forleo, the ability to make fire out of friction like Bruce Springsteen, the authenticity of Seane Corn, or the coming home loyalty of little old me, you might be just a little bit Jersey too! 

Planning in the time of Corona

Planning in the time of Corona

Is this real life? Is this how things will now be? What is coming in 3, 5, 12 months and if I don’t know, how can I plan?

These are the questions plaguing so many people today.

Should I move forward reaching for, developing my goals when the future is so uncertain?

The short answer is yes. 

We need dreams, goals, and plans. They keep us motivated and excited about living. Without them we drift aimlessly unsure what to do with no reason for anything we are doing.

Humans crave direction.

So yes. You should, now maybe more than ever, have goals and dreams. 

 

However, these can’t be the same as your pre-Corona ambitions.

Life has changed and being able to adapt and modify is crucial for moving forward.

What kind of pursuits and activities will be relevant in the near future?

Here are some ideas:

Things which save, protect, or do no harm to the environmental
DYI ventures
That which helps with the problem of loneliness
Connecting people in need to resources that help them
Anything anxiety reducing
Those which attempt at new ways of collaboration 
Feel good activities that make ppl laugh
Bartering

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Only YOU know the idea or ideas that will work for you as you plan ahead. The winning ones are all inside of you right now. They may need some nudging to come out or some nurturing. Do the things which help ideas grow. Meditation, walking, writing, talking to friends. Brainstorming with us at Goal Setting and Reimagining in Our New World this Saturday 12:30p-2:30p.

Find your new path and commit to the steps along the way because you deserve to move forward and the world deserves your best ideas. 

25 Reasons Why You Need a Life Coach Today

25 Reasons Why You Need a Life Coach Today

It’s an anxious time and so many people I know are seeking the help of therapists which is truly wonderful. Therapy provides a certain outlet and support unique to any other and I often refer people to the very qualified caring therapists I know.

Coaching, which is what I do, is not therapy. It provides a very different and specific kind of support and often goes hand and hand with therapy or works independently.

During my two decades working with people intimately on their issues: mind, body and spirit I have seen certain common problems and patterns which are efficiently worked through during the coaching process. That is why I believe most anyone can benefit from employing a coach even for a little while.

Here are 25 reasons you should find a trusted life coach today:

 

  1. You are stuck in a rut. Life coaching is excellent for shaking people out of their ruts and getting them going again.
  2. You tend to repeat harmful patterns. As your coach I help you figure out not just what your patterns are but why you cycle through them.
  3. You understand your faults and tendencies but you can’t make the leap to lasting change. Together we will devise an unstoppable plan for breaking old cycles and stepping into something greater.
  4. You are ready for a new you. Looking to reinvent yourself as a confident, more exploratory person or with any new personality traits coming forward? This is a process that can be cultivated with coaching.
  5. You are stuck in a bad relationship. Whether it’s with a friend, family member, lover or boss, a life coach can help you to rid yourself of negative relationships.
  6. You are looking for love. Consistently desiring love and commitment but always falling short? Together we can figure out why and magnetize you for romantic love moving forward.
  7. You are feeling stressed. Life coaching can definitely help you to reduce your stress by identifying what it is that’s causing it and how to eliminate that factor while increasing the things that bring you calm.
  8. You are horrible at time management. Need someone to help you block out time for the things you love? A life coach can do just that.
  9. You want to leave corporate life and start your own business. Not every life coach can help you with this, but for me it is a specialty and a real joy to take people from dream to reality with their entrepreneurial desires.
  10. You want to lose weight or improve your health. Not every coach excels at this, but I can certainly help you with nutrition and work out goals.
  11. You feel unorganized and frazzled. The right coach can give you fantastic organizational tools which will have you floating through life.
  12. You are working on a new project. Need support with breaking down the necessary steps to get something done? Yup! That’s a life coach job.
  13. You need general accountability. Some people know what to do but have a hard time getting there without someone they need to be accountable to. A life coach can be that person that holds you to your word.
  14. You are struggling financially. The right life coach can help you identify the steps to bring more money into your life. This is a specialty of mine.
  15. You don’t know what you want. Facing a crisis of desire? I think we’ve all been there at some point. A great coach will help you figure out what you want next.
  16. You are feeling disconnected spiritually. Again, this is a specialty of only certain coaches and one I can help you with.
  17. You are conflicted. If you are feeling torn between two versions of yourself. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Many people feel that way. A great coach can help you integrate the best of both parts of yourself.
  18. You need stronger boundaries. Some people give so much they forget to take care of themselves. A coach can help you set healthy boundaries so you can be a good employee/friend/family member without losing yourself.
  19. You are looking for a more balanced life. We are all seeking harmony. A life coach will help you find where you can shift weight for better balance in your life.
  20. You have to have a difficult conversation and you’re not sure how. Sometimes you employ a coach for a single specific situation. That can work and sometimes it can open up more you want to work on.
  21. You need help identifying the possibilities out there for you. It’s so hard to see ourselves clearly. Sometimes we need an outside view on what options exist for us.
  22. You want to get past a fear. A coach can really help you take that first step into territory you find scary but need to step into for growth.
  23. You want to up your game. Doing well but feeling that there’s a next level and want to go there. A coach can help you make that leap.
  24. You’re tired a lot of the time. A coach can help you boost your energy. With that done there’s no limit to what you can do.
  25. You are not sure if your dreams are your own. Most of us are so influenced by our families, countries, and cultures, we think we want a life that really is the life we think we should want to have. If we are lucky enough, a voice inside grows loud enough for us to hear the truth of our desires and non desires and we can recognize what is really right for us. If you even suspect this may be you (its most of us) make sure to talk to someone about it so you can weed through what is your truth and what is somebody else’s. This is key to building a life you love!
How to show up for your friends this season

How to show up for your friends this season

Sometimes though we have our best intentions we end up pushing friends away when they need us the most. When a friend is struggling or even just debating a next step, it is important to know how to be there for them. Being conscious and careful about how we respond is a kindness to a friend that will be appreciated and reciprocated when our time comes. It can be the determining factor between being pushed away or let in and make a real difference in how our friend procedes. 

So how should we respond to a friend in need?

Listen.

It sounds simple but real active listening is a skill that requires practice. At the core, it means being present to hear without a planned response and without thinking about what to say next while listening. It means being fully with your friend and engaging all of your senses to understand them as completely and accurately as possible. 

Ask Questions.

Especially when we know someone for awhile, it can be easy to assume we know all about them. This really gets in the way of an authentic relationship in which we allow the other to grow and change and to contradict. As you are with your friend listening, imagine you are with them for the first time. Get background information. Ask them to clarify. Look for what’s missing. Paraphrase back to them and check if you’re understanding correctly. 

Trust & Believe.

Sometimes all we need is for another to trust and believe in us. Even if your friend has fallen short a thousand times on promise to themselves, let them know you trust and believe they can succeed. See it for them before they can. Tell them they can have their dream if they want it. Build their esteem. 

Check In.

Follow up with your friend like you would with a lead or job referral. Don’t let it go too long. Let them know you are thinking of them and interested in updates. Ask a poignant question when checking in that lets them know you are really with them. Be specific and caring about what you ask. Let them know they can come to you and how best to reach out.

Love Unconditionally.

We all make mistakes. We all fall short. We all repeat patterns again and again before one day breaking them for real. You are not a boss or a teacher. You are a friend. Love your friend regardless and let them feel that love through their failures and successes equally strong. 

Have you been showing up for your friends? In which of these ways or what other way? Comment here and share your experience.

Understand the ins and outs of Partnership Now

Understand the ins and outs of Partnership Now

One of the biggest obstacles to growth is the inability or unwillingness to partner. It’s a hindrance I really get. Finding the right business partner is like finding the right life partner, a rare thing that takes us on an extensive search both internally and outwardly. More often than not a heap of mistakes are made along the way resulting in heartbreak, loss of confidence, confusion and mistrust. So why keep trying? There is only one reason, and that is that the reward is so great it is worth all the trouble and failed attempts to get there.

So let’s chat about why partnership is great, who makes the perfect partner and how to find them.

 

Why Partnership is Great:

Partnership is great because we all have different strengths and weaknesses.

In order to reach our full potential we must at some point stop trying to be everything to everybody and acknowledge who we are and more importantly who we aren’t. By its nature, having a strength means we are lacking in its opposite. For instance, if you are a great listener, that is a skill that many wish they had, but it may mean you don’t speak up, assert yourself, tell your story. Another example is this. You may work fast (a fantastic ability) but it may mean you sometimes miss things or slip up. The right partner fills in those gaps.

Another reason for trudging through the hard times to find a good partner is the wealth of resources they bring to the table.

Each human is like a mini world. Connecting well with just one will open the door to their circles of many. Think of all the people you know and the people they know. It goes on and on. In finding one right partner, you inherit 100+ people and all their skill sets, knowledge and connections. Think of these folks as in-laws who want to come to the table and support the newest member of their family… you!

The third and perhaps the greatest reason for choosing partnership is the way it opens your vision. I’ll share my own story as an example. I founded a non-profit called Three and a Half Acres about five years ago. Before that my experience in business was running my yoga studio Land Yoga which I am the sole owner of. At Land Yoga I always made all the decisions on my own. Nonprofits don’t work that way. There is a board of directors who are involved in all the decision making. I had to learn to work a different way. It still happens that just about every time we meet there is a board member who makes a suggestion that I have the instinct to say no to just because it’s not what was in my vision. I’ve worked alone for so many years that it’s my habit to make quick decisions and give a definitive no when a suggestion comes my way that doesn’t match my very clear and singular vision. Now I’ve learned to hold that “no” back in my mouth. Instead I think about why I chose that board member, their expertise and experience. I try to see the vision they have in their head and when I do their suggestion makes total sense. Sometimes I realize that their vision is much more inline with where the organization should be going. Then I open up my view to align with theirs. A partner can see things which are hidden to us because of our programming and limitations. When we form in partnership we get to work through that and double our vision. Sometimes we even get triple vision: ours, theirs, and the one we create together.

 

Who Makes the Perfect Partner:

The first thing to remember is that there is no perfect partner, only the perfect partner for YOU. Find someone who can compliment your strengths with their opposite strengths, who sees a different perspective but one you respect, who can open circles, bring resources and most importantly who you can lean on trust and communicate well with. You are going to need excellent communication skills when things get tough and they will get tough. If you’ve chosen well, you’ve chosen someone different from you. That means disagreements will happen maybe a lot of them, major ones. You’ll need a deep respect for your partner and a clear process for decision making. Sound familiar? Partnering in business is very much like partnering in love.

To identify the qualities you are seeking in a partner, do a self assessment first. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Write your answers down so you can see them on paper and gain greater clarity.

  • What is my biggest strength?
  • What are some of my blind spots?
  • What kind of energy would balance mine best?
  • What skills am I lacking that I could use in a partner?
  • What cultural awareness could I use strengthening in?

Journal extensively on this question:

  • Where do I see myself going and who is the person I need in my life that will help me get there?

 

How I Can Find My Perfect Partner:

Finding the right person or persons to partner with for a project or to grow your business doesn’t have to be stressful.

Start by answering the questions above and putting out there that you are “in the market”.

Talk to people about your perfect match. Wherever you are, keep an open ear for the right find. Don’t go exclusive right away. Date around. Try out different partnerships gently in low risk, low commitment projects before jumping in to a long term, legally binding situation.

We’ve all had that love at first sight situation which turned out to be more lust than love and ended up blowing up in our face. That can happen with business partnerships as well. Go slowly and build trust and communication grounding your relationship for a healthy fruitful future.

Resist the urge to pick a partner because others think they are important or of a certain status.

I speak from experience when it comes to going down this road. Choosing a partner because you think they have clout or because other people seem to like them on Instagram will not end you in a happy situation. Remember that no one is as they appear online and that there is no perfect partner, only the perfect partner for you.

Finally, remember that however careful you are with your picker, mistakes in partnership happen. Be ready to exit if and when the time calls for it and always get into any partnership with a plan for how to get out of it.

Are you working on partnership in your life? Share your experience and if any of these tips helped you in the comments below or send the blog to someone else who is!

Crushing goals is better together. Invite a friend to join in this journey with you.