Permission to Rest

I’m tired.

Sooooo very tired. 

I know. You are, too.

So let’s talk about that for a minute!

First, a little preview of why I’m tired… 

Not many people know what kind of schedule I keep. Most have absolutely no clue how busy a person can really be, and I hope they never have to know first-hand!

If you see me out, and I’m on my phone, I’m probably not just scrolling through FB. More often than not, I’m checking my schedule to make sure I’m not missing an appointment with a client. Or I’m texting or emailing a yoga client about something physically or emotionally that has come up for them or about a safer way to get into a pose during their home practice. I might be planning a class or developing a new herbal blend recipe or studying. Or maybe I’m checking in with my parents to be sure a child is not forgotten at church or school or basketball. Perhaps I’m adding one of my kiddos practices or events on my calendar.

I am a new small business owner, student, overnight caregiver, and most importantly Mom. 

I have enough so much to do, with no exaggeration, I can easily fill every minute of 24 hours a day 7 days a week with responsibility.

And I do. Often.

There isn’t anything I mentioned above that I’m willing or able to give up right now, so I’m on a mission to eliminate any other thing that doesn’t serve me well and help me find rest. 

Not only do I want to heed God’s calling to help others bring healing into their lives through the use of yoga, I want to do so fully as possible, so I continue to study. He called me onto this path years ago, and I put Him off until He would no longer allow me to ignore Him. He opened up ways to make it possible and offered ways to help me overcome my fears.

However, I have no choice financially. I must work as many hours as possible, through a paying employer. Currently the studio doesn’t bring in enough to cover bills. As a single mom who has since 2010, four hours per week co-parenting assistance and extremely minimal financial assistance even with judgments in place, it’s on me to be present and to pay medical bills (past and present). It’s up to me to make sure extracurricular activities such as basketball and church youth trips are made possible. I also personally cover costs of studio scholarship students, so nobody is ever turned away from yoga because of their own financial difficulties. 

My studio and caregiver schedules are set up so I’m as available to my kids as possible. 

When my daughter has needed me for various reasons, I have been able to move private yoga clients into another time slot with ease. If my grandson needs to be picked up from daycare, I can make myself available without much worry. I take a few hours off every afternoon to pick up my son from school to spend quality time with him, and I have the ability to cancel or change studio classes to accommodate his schedule should he have a basketball game or other event. 

Caregiving is a bit more challenging to fully create my own schedule. I work overnights only, and with enough notice, I can request days off. The decision to accept this job came having briefly discussed, at his level of comprehension, financial needs with young teen son and allowing him to offer insights. He was given permission to tell me when he most needed me home. Since he is asleep, he said, he needs me less during the night and wants me home more during the day.  We’ve created an emergency list of trusted neighbors, friends, and family that he keeps close during my nightly absences. And we have German Shepherds on site that will alert our whole neighborhood should anyone even try to enter our yard without permission.

We also have learned to rely on friends to help with ballgame transportation if I have a shift that calls me away. While it breaks my heart to sometimes miss his games, I take comfort in knowing he’s not missing out on his passion! For his practices and on church nights, my dad helps with transportation as needed. 

I cringe bringing up household responsibility. Since we moved into the house 15 years ago or so, all responsibility has fallen solely on me. I admit I’m years behind, and only now learning to request help. I’m trying to be gentle on myself, remembering one person alone can only do so much. I get to my laundry and toilets and de-cluttering as I’m able. We always have clean clothes, but often they’re living on the couch instead of in their drawers and closets. If my son wants something in particular washed and ready to wear for the next day, it is done. We don’t live in filth as I despise a dirty bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. My carpet, however, has recently been ruined and officially needs to be replaced. I’ll find a way to make that happen as soon as possible. There is also too much stuff collected over the years. Material items that need to be gotten rid of and boxes of memorabilia I need to either organize or toss. Again, I admit, this is a most difficult task for reasons I won’t go into now. Because the house doesn’t get the attention I wish it did, I only allow in a very trusted few who have proven they’ll never judge our mess. 

My schedule also makes it nearly impossible to meet new people and to form real connections. I find myself lacking intimate personal relationships as most peoplecannot comprehend I’m not exaggerating when I say I don’t have time or I need to stay home with my son. I’m too exhausted to explain anyone into understanding, and quite frankly too exhausted to care when they don’t. I’m not one for games, hook ups or any other nonsense, so those types of folks get weeded out of my small social circle quite quickly. I don’t have time for that and feel no need to waste anyone else’s. Female friends have always been few …  for various reasons, but not due to lack of effort on my part to be kind and supportive. I have, however, just last night realized my efforts to offer compassion and love to other women are too often in vain, and I should stop expending energy trying to be female friendly, offering unsolicited socialization. This makes me feel sad. 

Needless to say, there is very little true emotional support to be had, no matter how much I try to offer others, so I carry loads of burdens alone, more than anyone cares to know. I rely on God to know my heart and to carry me through. I trust from previous experience that no matter how badly I want to give up, He’s got me, but in exhaustion I tend to forget, feeling totally alone and isolated. 

For too long I believed the only way to get everything done is to sacrifice sleep. It took me too long to realize it is O.K. to ask for help, and even longer to allow myself to receive it. Fortunately, I have wonderful parents who continuously offer help financially and in raising my kids. I have a God who is already making sure all is well when I see no possible way. I am continuously discovering which friends are true and who’s not strong enough to be in my life. People walk in and out so much my head spins. When those who leave return, I wonder why. I suppose they’re hoping things are different. They would be right – things ARE different! Once someone walks out of my life, I rarely allow them back in fully. I remain on guard, knowing I’ve lost trust and respect for them. I don’t take relationships of any kind lightly, and I’m wondering now if perhaps it’s time to exchange the rotating door to one that shuts tight and locks. 

I’m all about forgiveness, but my attitude has come to this – If I’ve offered you my time, time I have especially created for you, know it’s because I have faith in you, that I appreciate you, and that I somehow need and want to be in your presence because it is good for my soul and I want mine to be good for yours, too. Because my schedule is so hectic and I’m so worn out, I need people around who offer stability and consistency. This, to me, is most beneficial as I search for true rest.

So let’s get to that …

REST!!

I find that when I’m lacking sleep, I cannot comprehend or stay focused to study or plan yoga sessions. I can’t think of everyday words like dishwasher or refrigerator. I cannot remember to pay bills, and I’m afraid I will miss appointments. I become irritable and frustrated, especially with myself, and I beat myself up for all my life’s failures. I become jealous of those who have partners to help them with everyday living, and I get angry listening as healthy people living moderate to high class lifestyles complain about how miserable their lives are. I become more sensitive than I am naturally, and my hurt feelings can feel more like devastation. I don’t care about eating and fall prey to eating disordered behaviors the more exhausted I become. I fall easily into recurrent episodes of Mono.

Unfortunately, the more weary I become, the more easily I find myself in a vicious cycle of even more unrest, anxiety and depression me as I struggle with guilt and frustration of not being able to handle everything on my own. 

It is not unusual for me to be awake for 36 hours or more with no sleep at all, but I’m seriously trying to change this. For most people this natural, basic right to human life is something that out of necessity – out of pure desperation – I have begun implementing into mine as a practice. A practice just like yoga, meditation, or playing the flute when I was younger – as that might be an example that makes more sense to most. 

First, I’ve had to give myself permission to rest. Sounds crazy, huh? Permission to rest? Oh yes. Without permission, I believe there is no time for rest. My most precious people will tell you how often I have said “I’ll rest when I die.”

Well, I’ve finally come to the realization that lack of rest will kill me. If not physically, certainly mentally. 

In addition to permission, I’ve begun implementing new Ayurveda practices into my daily routine as recommended by doctors and practitioners with whom I study. Some I already knew of and tried here and there, but never really imagined would make much of an impact. Now I humbly admit I’ve been wrong! Some Ayurveda practices are brand new and fascinating, giving me renewed excitement to explore more deeply! Of course, I continue with my yoga and meditation practices, too, as they have shifted into a new direction. There is a new layer of depth and understanding that these tools are my lifeline, directly related to my spiritual life and my well being. I have always known that, but there is something very different now. Something I can’t explain.

As this all becomes more fully integrated on a cellular level, my taste for and urge to drink pot of coffee after pot of coffee is becoming an impossible task. After years of coffee caffeine dependence, my body will now only allow me to drink a few cups a day. I know I’m done when my coffee tastes disgusting and I feel nauseated. At that point, I am unable to force it down, and unable to have any more during that day. At first this scared me, even though I know the present damage to my adrenals this addiction has caused. Now, though, I’m looking forward to actually enjoying a cup of coffee, instead of needing it for basic survival! I was just re-introduced to an an acquaintance from a lifetime ago who is now a local coffee hobbyist. I’m excited to connect with him, try his coffee and perhaps share some with my non-tea-sipping friends with a helping of meaningful conversation. Who knows, if I love it, you may see it on the studio’s shelves along with my herbal tea blends! I do love supporting people in their passion! 

Whether I’m preparing to lie down to rest in the morning after an overnight shift or after a long day, I keep my “it’s time to sleep now” routine the same. This may seem redundant and unnecessary, especially on nights I’m home, but for me it has become imperative. My brain is adjusting and beginning to respond well to a routine that says it’s time to start settling down. I look forward to my nightly herbal blend. It contains an adaptogen which can carries me through the night if I’m working or provides the power to beat insomnia on my nights off. This blend also sustains me by easing and calming my mind and contributing beneficially to my female hormonal health. 

I’ve also been finding ways to reduce stress and overwhelm and to open up more time for productivity since my working hours have been reduced and replaced by rest. One of the most effective ways I’ve found is to greatly reduce social media time. I would consider giving it up altogether, except I need it for business purposes. I do love to brag about my kids and my grandson, to rejoice in my friends’ happy moments and to pray for those in need. Social media is also an effective way for me to use my naturally very shy voice my, using personal experiences as a way to raise awareness for causes that are deeply meaningful for me. So long as I know people are finding those types of posts helpful, I will probably continue on, and trust those who don’t like them will scroll on by or delete me from their account.  

I’ve not been on Instagram in forever, and since the purchase of a new phone, I have been without FB Messenger. Whoa. Who knew that just the elimination of FB Messenger would make my life feel more at ease?! While the FB app was pre-installed on said new phone, I’m not so sure I’ll keep it, as I find it all too easy to want to escape my life for a while by scrolling through my feed. Hours can go by before I realize it and I’ve failed to get an assignment or lesson plan prepared or I should have been in bed long ago. Then guilt arises – and self-loathing – especially if my inner Critic has gone into major overdrive and I begin comparing myself to others “more successful” than I! I forget sometimes during severe exhaustion that most people’s lives are not really so Picture Perfect Instagram Worthy. 

Another thing I’ve found to be useful to reduce stress and for sound sleep is to shut off my phone Wi-Fi before lying down. Not only does this reduce temptation to social media scroll, but I’m not tempted to check email or the studio scheduler. I set an alarm to wake one hour prior to some class times, as that is when registration for classes ends. An hour gives me an appropriate amount of time to gather myself and my things needed for class, provided I have no trouble getting up from my slumber. I admit, hitting snooze is a lifelong favorite thing to do. I have always had sleep troubles. I have never felt fully rested when it’s time to wake. It’s the most difficult part of the day, and I’ve never comprehended the mindset of these wonderful morning people types!! Since making changes this past month or so, though, I’ve had a few days recently of feeling ready to rise and excited to get going with daily tasks instead of greeting the outside of my bed with dread! OK…I may be too excited about this new experience, but I do not apologize! 

As I’m Mom above all else, I do not like to be far from my phone in case one of my babies needs me! But anytime I hear a notification ding, for any reason, I am unable to keep from checking to see what it is. Since I’ve been carrying a cell phone, I’ve only ever had a handful of true emergencies that needed my absolute immediate attention. So, now I keep all notifications turned off no matter the time of day – except for my kids, my eight grader’s school, my grandson’s daycare, my parents, and one precious friend whose schedule is as complicated as mine and this is the only way I currently have offer a best effort to stay connected.  

My newest experiment to make better use of time is establishing one or two set times a day for checking email, FB messages, voicemail, etc – and tending to them then instead of checking periodically to be sure nothing is super important (it never is), hoping I’ll remember to come back to respond later, forgetting, remembering, and then having to spend even more time explaining what I had done and apologizing for my delayed response. 

These all seem like simple things, don’t they?

For some reason, they are tough for me. As I practice eliminating what creates chaos in my life, I feel my natural tendency toward anxiety is alleviated. With these changes, I am still “in the know”, but only when I choose to be. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I’m not constantly saddened by bad news or worrying about things I cannot control. I still know who needs prayer. I know who wants my attention and help. My feelings aren’t hurt from reaching out to another only to be dismissed. It’s becoming more clearly obvious who really wants to be in my life, and I am beginning to question less who I need in mine. 

By giving myself permission to rest, I’m learning to set boundaries that should have been set long ago. I’m learning how to be O.K. with being disliked and even disowned by loved ones. I’m learning that it’s OK to expect others to be responsible for themselves and their own actions and that not everyone’s problems are my fault or mine to solve. I’m becoming excited to spend time with people I care about again, feeling as though I have something to offer – or at least will have soon. When my energy reserves are totally depleted, not only am I terrible company, but I dread just simply being around others, no matter how much I love them. I’m tired of that feeling. 

By giving myself permission to rest, I don’t feel so overwhelmed with studies, and I realize the worst that can happen is I’ll take longer to reach my goal. If I fail a subject or don’t complete it this semester, I can try again and again – as many times as it takes. When I give myself permission to rest, especially when I’m ill from Mono or I have had extra caregiving shifts to cover than originally scheduled, my super awesome, understanding studio clients get to see and understand it’s OK for them to do the same. I’m truly blessed within the studio. My clients are more than just clients. They become friends that are imperative to my personal healing and growth. They teach me as much as I teach them, making us all teachers and students alike, egos released, so we can re-establish connections with our true natures together. Some, in the yoga community want a guru, but that’s not me. I bring (to steal motto from one of my teachers) “real yoga to real people” by teaching according to the real me. 

By giving myself permission to rest, I am beginning to see I’m more open to love, laughter, and living life more fully. I would love to hear how you bring more time and rest into your life? How do create a life of ease and simplicity? Please share with me! 

 

2020’s New Year Plan: Pratyahara

As we enter into a new year … a new decade, that is … it seems appropriate to start off with a topic that is missing in many yoga classes. To keep it simple for newcomers I don’t always use the Sanskrit word “pratyahara” to describe what we are doing here at Prakrti Yoga, but whether in asana (physical postures), meditation, yoga nidra, or if we are gathered in Sacred Circle, the first thing I ask is that we all tune into our breath. Then I, in some way, ask them to begin to feel into their body. 

Eventually I see their breath stabilize, coming to slow, steady, full inhalations and exhalations. Next I watch as their body and breath merge into one. I see their facial expressions soften as the mind begins to rest inside the breath and the body relaxes. 

Upon each meeting, as I gently guide them into this state of being fully present in the moment, I trust in each client’s inner wisdom. I trust they will take away any teachings or insights offered throughout our time together. I trust they will learn to connect with their hearts, with their Divine Nature, and learn to live fully in their own truths. I trust they will grow to understand their Dharma, their life purposes. 

I may plan and plan, but as I lead classes and work with clients privately, I tend to turn away from my own agenda and allow Spirit to guide, tuning into my intuition and “hearing” the needs of those sharing my space. However, it is rare that I ever fail to begin anything here without having clients settle into the present moment and turn inward, except with my Young Yogis during which I might put this part of class toward the end after they’ve gotten all the wiggles out!

This is sacred space, and most find it easy to temporarily forget the rest of the world while on the yoga mat or bolster. Yet, I want to be sure that all who enter here, eventually realize that they can withdraw into themselves and away from the chaos of busy lives. I want them to understand that no matter what trauma they have suffered or are currently suffering, they do indeed have the ability to heal. I want them to know that they can shift their mood, reduce anxiety, and get rid of chronic body pain wherever they are.

What my clients are learning by their consistent practice is one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga set forth by the great Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra. The Sutra describes a series of practices along the eight-fold path we bring to action at Prakrti Yoga. Yoga Sutra could be considered life guidelines or codes of morals and ethics in which to bring us into healthier physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, and vibrational health.

Pratyahara is the fifth limb of the Yoga Sutra. It comes from two Sanskrit words, prati meaning “against” or “away” and ahara, which means “food.” In this case, we can refer to ahara as any stimuli we take in and ingest. The essence of pratyahara is “withdrawal of the senses”. Some might describe pratyahara as mindfully filtering what we experience in our outer world.

During pratyahara we make a conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. We learn to detach from our senses, and direct our attention internally. The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back and take a look at ourselves. This withdrawal allows us to objectively observe our cravings or habits or anything detrimental to our health which likely interferes with our inner growth.

We all have this curiosity to learn more and this drive to do or have more. Many of us are afraid we are going to miss something important or we believe we are too busy to just sit alone for a while in silence and stillness. Perhaps we feel pressure from others or from ourselves to constantly be in motion, working, acquiring material possessions, learning, doing. Yet, we are faced with constant noise – constant stimulation from media, from other people, from multitasking trying to complete a never-ending to-do list. 

After a recent short social media hiatus, I reluctantly showed myself again, in part because I had a studio schedule to post for the week. I felt relieved having had all this extra time to fold laundry and clean the kitchen. I felt happier not comparing my life or my business to others who appear to be more “successful” than me. I felt less jealous and angry this Christmas since I didn’t have to see all those “happy” family photos that were to be thrown in this grieving momma’s face! I was less stressed, and it was so noticeable I seriously thought about deleting my accounts. Except experts seem to believe I need social media for the success of my business. 

I logged on but it wasn’t long before I shifted from my work on the studio’s Facebook page to bragging about my kid on my personal page. Next thing I knew, I was scrolling through my feed to see what I had been missing over the past few days while I was away. Fortunately, I caught myself and stopped before I got too drawn in. I was proud for not spending too much time away from my studies, as I was on a deadline. Soon enough, though, I caught myself with too many Google tabs open to count. While I was studying my Ayurveda assignment, I was reminded that I need to purchase some herbs, which led me to check my suppliers for the best prices, which led me to the sale on essential oils which I also need to restock, which made me remember I need storage containers for my bulk herbs and herbal and EO blends I make for clients. 

Oh … while I’m at it, I don’t like the labels I used last time, so let me just take another minute to see if I can find something more suitable … and oh yeah … which shoes was my son looking at – how much are they? What about those he already ordered – are they still scheduled for delivery on Tuesday?

Wait! I forgot to take my Ashwagandha with warm milk. Since I’m in the kitchen I’ll get my Triphala ready for later, too … Better pee before I get back to studying, but first these dishes need to be loaded and the dishwasher started. 

I wouldn’t say I’m ADHD by nature, but it sounds like it, doesn’t it?! According to Ayurveda, I am of Vata Pitta constitution. Being Vata, I’m highly involved in any and all types of thought processes, I feel a constant need to be busy, and everything seems very important to me. Vata when out of balance makes me feel confused, causes anxiety and fear and causes me to forget to eat, among other things. My Pitta part makes me highly ambitious and extremely driven to get things done … and done properly. No half-@%%ING allowed. That Pitta causes me to get frustrated with myself for not being able to stay on task. If I’m not careful, I find I’m mad at the world because I’ve exhausted myself with my own distractions and imperfections, and I had to stay up later than I intended to get my assignments turned in on time. Pitta becomes imbalanced and I suffer from chronic migraines, body pain, and fever because my fiery nature needs to somehow release. 

Eventually, I did find my way back to my studies. I giggled as I remembered a question a precious friend once asked me. “Do you ever actually get anything done. From where I sit, you look like a cat chasing its tail, always busy but not accomplishing anything.” I hate to admit he was absolutely spot on, but he was. And it prompted me to be more mindfully present in each and every task. 

O.K. so obviously it’s an ongoing practice which most likely I will never master, but it’s one which produces positive outcomes and a less stressed me, so I’ll keep it up.

Recently, there are times when the Kapha in me shows up. Usually it’s during episodes of grief. I feel lazy and unmotivated and just want to sleep and hide from my family and friends. This isn’t a healthy form of withdrawal! That is not pratyahara! It is isolation that leads to depression. 

There are different ways to practice pratyahara, based on whichever of my constitutional attributes comes out of alignment. I have found techniques that help restore my senses, calm my mind, reduce anxiety, and ease depression – even while I sit in the bleachers watching my son play basketball. I’ve learned that I can withdraw from the noise of the crowd and frustration of bad ref calls to settle into my own breath and body. I have learned how to just be there in the “Now Moment”, fully enjoying my son play his sport, not worrying about what we’re going to eat later or if homework will get finished, or if I’ve forgotten anything that day. 

In our studio gatherings, I give all my clients one simple way of withdrawing from over stimulation and overwhelm that they can take out of the studio and into their world. If they come to me for private sessions, however, I offer other ways to withdraw from busyness and chaos – or maybe even their unmotivation if they happen to be Kapha in nature. I offer personalized methods for what they need to help bring them closer to their True Nature.  

Some pratyahara practices I might recommend could include moving the body – focused attention while practicing yoga asana, dancing, running, or lifting weights is a great way to withdraw from sensory overload or things that can cause harm. Taking a break from or performing a full media detox brings your focus back to the things that truly matter, helping to see priorities as they should be. Leaving behind or distancing yourself from other people who bring constant negativity into your life helps clear the mind and emotions of toxicity. Journaling helps you to move inward, or perhaps try gardening. Prayer, meditation and yogic breath control practices are all techniques to move us inward and away from sensory overload and toxic behaviors. 

Going forth into 2020, remember this … Input = Output. 

If you eat only junk food, it’s going to eventually show on your body or in your skin or in your overall health.* The same is true for what you watch on television, see on social media or in the news, words you read in print, music you listen to, with whom you spend time, places you frequent, etc, etc. You are what you eat. You become what your brain is fed. 

Give yourself a break this year. Practice pratyahara.

*(Please Note: No food or body shaming is allowed at Prakrti Yoga! Cheetos have been this eating disorder survivor’s comforting best friend for almost two years now, since the loss of a child.)

Feel free to drop a line to let me know how you practice withdrawing the senses!

Namaste,

Nikki

 

 

January 2017 Liberate ThySelf Challenge Day 5: Self-Reflection in a Forward Fold

Hello!

Liberate Thyself with Paschimottanasana

The intention for Liberate Thyself Day 5: I have hidden talents and gifts that I’m ready to unleash.

I look at this, and immediately I cringe.

I don’t have any hidden talents!!

Thank goodness Yoga can change a girl’s mindset!! I have begun to break unhealthy patterns that kept me stuck thinking that I have nothing to offer others. Of course my mind bully kept me from following my heart’s desire…Sharing yoga! So I stayed hidden, practicing all alone in my living room for years!

Truth is, if I feel passionate about something, I give it my full attention. My faith in a Something Bigger Than me helps me find strength from bad experiences, create change, and use it for good, more specifically, to help others who share similar experiences. I genuinely feel empathetic joy for other people’s successes, even if I am left behind! I don’t give false compliments, and I find something about everyone, even those who trouble me, to love. I don’t communicate well verbally, but give me a pen and paper, and I can write all day long. This enables me to deeply explore Self, pass on my insights, offer support and encouragement, and to show others they are loved in Yoga with Dr. Melissa West‘s membership community.

Today I needed to calm the brain with a gentle forward fold! I feel a bit stressed and emotional! My adrenal glands are in overdrive, and I’m fighting off a migraine. Enter Paschimottanasana to pull my awareness inward, helping me forget the rest of the world for just a little while! No doubt this asana will help me sleep well tonight!!

Namaste, Nikki

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Come Yoga with me and discover YOUR hidden talents! We can also relieve stress! Now is the time to take time for you! I’ll create a yoga practice, individualized to your unique needs. Private lessons are available in person and online.

Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Twenty-One

Only a few Dressember Days to go!!

It’s been a good day overall. I am feeling tired, though, and a wee bit sad, but I haven’t had time to let myself go there yet. Days like this are the days I most need to remember all I have to be grateful for.

It also helps to have reminders that I have a Higher Purpose than I realize. Maybe, just maybe that is part of my mission here. Along with my @Dressember Sunflowers and Snow Teammates, I am finishing out a month of wearing dresses to help raise awareness for slavery. Think it doesn’t exist? Think again, and know that it is happening in our area!!

According to a 2011 report released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, out of the runaways actually reported each year in Tennessee, about 1000 are trafficked. Virtually all trafficked youth have been abused and /or traumatized prior to their trafficking.

This 2011 study determined that minors who are trafficking victims are sold 10 to 15 times a day, six days a week.

THAT MEANS THAT EACH VICTIM IS “USED” 9,360 to 14,040 TIMES A YEAR!! I cannot  imagine the level of  trauma that would produce in a child?

End Slavery Tennessee, best sums up that 2011 study…

85 Tennessee counties: Reported at least one case of human trafficking

4 counties:  Reported 100+ cases (a  case usually involves multiple victims)

94: Number of children trafficked in Tennessee every MONTH.

**Sixty-eight counties in the state reported at least one case of minor human sex trafficking. The following four counties reported more than 100 cases a) Shelby, b) Davidson, c) Coffee, and d) Knox.

Have I mentioned that Knoxville ranks 4th…did you hear me? FOURTH!! in the heaviest sex trafficking market? I am not ok with that!!

Thank you @A21 and and @IJM for this eye-opening opportunity for me to learn more about modern day slavery!!

It’s not too late! If you haven’t yet, would like to be part of this team effort, Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hildek, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you join Sunflowers and Snow.

Donate here to help raise funds that go toward rescuing human trafficking victims and  their aftercare.

Or simply keep on with your “Likes” and Shares!

Namaste,

Nikki

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Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Twenty

Today’s Dressember Day…

A day of yoga devoted to ME!

With kids, work, Christmas, Dressember, planning yoga classes, etc, etc, I was desperately in need! I am exhausted. I know you all know what I mean!!

Not only am I tired physically, I’m tired on emotional and spiritual levels as well. It has not been easy to remain  committed to human trafficking awareness. To walk away, would have saved time, energy, and heartbreak. To post a picture of myself every day has put me in a place of discomfort. I have had to overcome some major fear and trust that something bigger than me is truly at work.

From my morning morning coffee to sweet goodbye kisses from my babies to Yoga with Melissa West’s December At-Home Retreat to our community’s meditation meetup this evening…this day has been just what I needed.

My practices today have focused on restoring balance in the bladder and kidney meridians, grounding and balancing through the lower chakras, recognizing fears, and restoring energy and health. How sweet it is to connect with the Divine, when I come to my mat with no expectations and not attachment to the outcome of my practice.

Posting today’s pictures just might be the toughest yet, but I feel led to let them come from True Source. So, with my hair pulled back, in the shortest dress I own (which also isn’t very comfortable), and in my living room with all it’s imperfections I spent the day in prayer, meditation, and asana. The pictures aren’t pretty, but they are real.

Just like slavery. It is still very alive.

Currently in the State of Tennessee we have 3 missing children reported at The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

  1. Gregory Knowles from Nashville, 17 years old. Missing Since Nov 24, 2016
  2. Enfinity Brook from Cordova, 17 years old. Missing since Nov 26, 2016
  3. Alysa Bishop from Franklin, 17 years old. Missing since Nov 29, 2016

These kids were not with their families on Christmas. Obviously, they are greatly missed! I am certain Merry Times were non-existent at their houses! All three of these kids are still minors. That makes them prime targets for human traffickers, who prey on youngsters’ vulnerabilities to lure them into traps where they will then be used to raise big money. Crimes involving Sex Sells and Labor of Goods are just a tad bit behind drug crimes all over the world. If the ones that are enslaved do not cooperate, the are not only abused, they are tortured until they either do or die.

My daughter is the same age as all three kids mentioned above. That’s why I’m taking a stand to help end slavery. Will you help?

Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hildek, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you join Sunflowers and Snow! Also, feel free to Donate to help raise funds that go toward rescuing human trafficking victims and their aftercare. A21 and IJM are doing a wonderful job!! Or simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!

Namaste!!15747854_10211163515584806_4950622285889913699_n

Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Nineteen

A Dressember Christmas Day THANK YOU!!

I’m fortunate enough to have most of my immediate family close by, and we are a close-knit bunch. I try not to take it for granted, but I know I’m guilty. Over the past two days, while spending time with my family, I have been carrying all those who are hurting or broken in my heart. No matter what the reason, there is a special place for them all there.

Every year around the holiday season, my heart hurts for all people who spend what should be a joyous time of year lonely, sad or depressed. There are so many reasons it happens, from a loved one’s death, to estranged relationships, to military sacrifices. There are addictions and arguments and resentments. There are illnesses and distances and financial obstacles. There are elderly folks whose families are too busy to visit them. Sometimes, it’s merely work that keeps people away from loved ones.

Right now I especially can’t imagine how families feel who have lost a child, or any family member to the evils of human trafficking.

THANK YOU to everyone who has helped our team Sunflowers and Snow raise awareness of how real, and how close to home human trafficking is! You have helped us raise over $2,000!!

All funds go toward the efforts of IJM and A21 to rescue human trafficking victims and to make sure they are provided the best possible resources to deal with their trauma afterward.

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Thank you for your donations. Your support. Your encouragement. Your “Likes”, Shares, and Comments!!

It’s not too late! If you haven’t yet, but would like to be part of this team effort, Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hildek, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you join team Sunflowers and SnowDonate to help raise funds that go toward rescuing human trafficking victims and  their aftercare. Or simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!

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Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Eighteen

 

Merry Christmas Eve Dressember Style!

I’m trying to be Merry, but It’s been a rough day.

Tears and migraine and now more tears.

Sometimes, I guess, they just have to flow.

Parenthood isn’t an easy thing. Tough decisions go along with the title.

It’s tough being the only parent to make and enforce those decisions.

I try to hold it all together. Really, I do.

There is just so much to do.

All the time.

I love my kids more than ANYTHING.

Sometimes, though, I want to run away!!

I cannot imagine what a child must feel that makes him/her want to run away from home.

What are they experiencing that makes them need to get away so badly?

I’ve had a tough day here today, but I pray with everything inside me that no matter how mad I get, my kids never doubt that they are my world.

Dressember Daily Fact:

In 2014, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims.

“NCMEC knows that child sex trafficking most often begins with a missing child, particularly the nation’s most vulnerable children. In 2014, one in six endangered runaways reported to NCMEC was likely a child sex trafficking victim. So far in 2015, more than 1,800 missing child cases that involve suspected or confirmed child sex trafficking have been reported to NCMEC.”

Want to help raise awareness?

Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hildek, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you join Sunflowers and Snow!

Feel free to Donate to help raise funds that go toward rescuing human trafficking victims and  their aftercare!

Or simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!

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Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Fifteen

Today’s Dressember Experience.

Well. I had a plan. I knew what I wanted to say tonight.

But I sit here, now, not knowing…

So whatever is coming, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

No gripes. No complaints.

Some confusion. Some fear.

Some happiness. Some excitement.

A more open heart than I’m use to.

New friends. New connections with old friends.

A newfound willingness to reach out.

Thankful heart. Grateful mind.

Strong determination.

Uncertainty.

Concern.

A hurting heart.

Tragedy struck today.

In my own way I hope I made a slight difference to somebody, somehow.

I tried, the only way I knew how. Not according to my plan.

But when is it ever, really?

Human Trafficking.

Juveniles being bought, sold, and traded for financial gains. I am most certain that is not part of any child’s plan.

Help me Help them?

Here is more about Davidson County, with the largest human trafficking stats in TN, according to TBI NEWSROOM  – 

NASHVILLE  – Special Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained indictments for three individuals in connection to an ongoing juvenile human trafficking investigation. Eight counts each of Trafficking for Commercial Sex Acts and two counts each of Money Laundering, and another indictment with one count of Trafficking for Commercial Sex Acts. Today, authorities notified all three individuals of their new charges at two local jails, where they remain incarcerated on unrelated charges. All will subsequently be booked at the Montgomery County Jail at a later date.

NASHVILLE – Special Agents in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Human Trafficking Unit, assisted by Drug Investigation Division Agents and the Clarksville Police Department, have arrested and charged a Clarksville man accused of trafficking a juvenile for the purpose of sex.

NASHVILLE   – Special Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained ADDITIONAL indictments for two individuals ALREADY facing charges in connection to an ongoing TBI juvenile human sex trafficking investigation.

Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hildek, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you join Sunflowers and SnowDonateOr simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!

Namaste,

Nikki

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Dressember 2016: Welcome to My Day Fourteen

Keep scrolling if you can’t handle it. I’m gettin’ real here.

Can you imagine your daughter or son, or your next door neighbor’s child being the victim of sexual abuse?

What if it happened over and over and over and over again?

What if it happened over and over and over again and you did nothing about it?

What if nobody ever did anything about it?!

I’m wearing a dress the rest of the month to help raise awareness of human trafficking. Kids are sex slaves. Are you aware?

It is Dressember!

With my heart breaking, I’ll share straight from the TBI Newsroom  —

Davidson County has the largest numbers of human trafficking in Tennessee. Here, a couple of reports involving children.

NASHVILLE  – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has obtained indictments for two Georgia men, accused of statutory rape in an ongoing TBI human trafficking investigation.

NASHVILLE   – The Rutherford County Grand Jury returned indictments, charging with one count of Trafficking for Sexual Servitude, one count of Conspiracy to Commit Trafficking for Sexual Servitude, one count of Rape, and one count of Aggravated Statutory Rape. TBI’s casework into this specific operation has led to charges for an additional six individuals.

Care to help raise my team raise awareness of Human Trafficking?

Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hilde Sicinski, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you join Sunflowers and SnowDonateOr simply “Like” and “Share” any Dressember posts you see!

Namaste,

Nikki

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Dressember 2016: Welcome To My Day Thirteen

MONDAY!! Whoa?! Who said that?! Surely it wasn’t me?! I don’t like Mondays!!

Today has been ok though. Hugs and kisses from my Grandson who is spending some time with his daddy. Unfortunately, we had to meet at the doctor because he isn’t feeling well, so prayers and healing energy very much appreciated!!

Work was pretty smooth sailing today, with most people I interacted with in happy moods. I got an unexpected text that made me smile. I had a realization that I am starting to reach out to people, not out of desperation or obligation, but because I want to! Anybody who knows me well, knows I am terribly afraid of inconveniencing people, so I am pleased to know that I don’t always! 🙂

I hate going grocery shopping. Absolutely dread it. Any kind of shopping, really, but bare cupboards and hungry kids aren’t a good match. So off I go. Right after work. I pulled into the busy, crowded parking lot and thought not so nice thoughts. I forced my anxiety away so I could go inside, and found myself chit chatting with a stranger and her little girl in the produce. On my way to the health food section, I was stopped by a lovely momma friend for a quick “gripe” about how fast all the kids are growing. I found almost everything on my list in one store. The rest could be substituted or could wait. I was headed to check out so I could go pick up my son from his friend’s where he’d already been for 24 hours, when I was approached by a grandad/dad of whom I have great admiration. I loved catching up with him about our girls.

Speaking of kids…My heart is hurting…terribly…these numbers keep growing…

Take a look at these Dressember Facts from End Slavery Tennessee : 

Worldwide:

  • Commercial sex trafficking of minors: Fastest growing sex crime
  • 50% of victims of 27 million: Slaves in the world are children
  • 2 children are trafficked every minute

In the U.S:

  • 8,000 to 20,000: People trafficked across US borders annually
  • 12-14 years: Average age of entry into sex trafficking for girls; for boys, 11-13
  • 33%: Percent of all runaways who will be sexually exploited within 48 hours
  • 90%: Percent of runaways who ultimately end up in the commercial sex trade

In Tennessee:

  • 94: Number of children trafficked in Tennessee every MONTH.

My apologies. I cannot bring myself to look at the numbers closer to home yet.

Care to help me and my team as we wear dresses for the rest of the month for Dressember? We are raising awareness of modern-day slavery, rescuing victims from all over the world, and helping to provide after care.

We are Sunflowers and Snow. Melissa West, Jenn Ashton, Madeline Hilde Sicinski, Nicci Rea, Harmony Darling, Aynne Johnston, Laura Moyer and I would love to have you our team: Sunflowers and Snow!

Would you consider making a donation?

Simply taking the time to read this is a huge help in helping raise awareness of human trafficking!

Namaste,

Nikki

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