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! 

Message Sent (go back)

 

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

 

 

Dealing…

Have you ever been told to Suck It Up Buttercup? Or to get over it because someone else has it much worse than you?

How’d that make you feel, as an adult going through something that may have created great despair or pain?

I think phrases such as that are fine to tell our children when they are acting like spoiled brats upon not getting their way. As a matter of fact, I should probably say something like that more!

Appropriate for everyone, though? I’m not so sure.

Two months ago my son committed suicide. I’m having to learn to live without the one who gave me a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging. I’m learning to live without one of my life’s greatest inspirations and teachers.

This passage is for me, to remind myself of my own strength, will, and determination.

Yes, I’m putting myself out there to be judged and criticized, but somewhere I know that there is someone out there, dealing with what they seem they cannot endure, and I pray this reaches them. 

“There’s someone else who has it worse than you.” Yes, that’s true, but please use that phrase with caution unless you really know that to be true. 

A short synopsis of what life has thrown at me…

Anxiety and misdiagnosed dietary/health issues starting very young. Depression and eating disorders by grade 8. Sexually violated and suicidal by 12th. Survived, after feeling unwelcome and unloved by even God during my near death encounter with the Keeper of the Golden Gates. “Not yet. Someday. You still have work to do down there.” Don’t believe in near death experiences? You should.

Unexpected pregnancy by age 19. Keep or abort this baby? Rocky Relationship, but I love him and I already love this little creation with my whole heart. Keep. I might get disowned. But definitely keep. All I’ve ever known for sure is that I want to be a mommy. Easy pregnancy, relationship turned violent. Addiction returned. Had to walk away. Tried unsuccessfully to get back together but then the toughest of love lessons came our way. I had met another who promised the world so please don’t call anymore. Probably not what I really wanted. Probably wanted him to put up a fight, but he listened. If that was my plan it backfired.

Single mom married to someone who hid his true colors well. Marriage was emotionally/financially/spiritually abusive starting day 1. Within a year, became seriously ill in eating disorders and checked into recovery facilities out of state at 84 pounds, after accidentally overdosing on prescribed medications just to try to get some rest and migraine relief. Left my now 4 year old behind. Heart broken.

Worked my butt off to stay healthy and to try to salvage anything left of my so-called marriage. Unsuccessful, but too afraid to leave. Too many threats, another pregnancy with a daughter this time. Yay!! I had been told no more kids, too much damage to my reproductive system.

Where are we going to live, though, now that she’s a toddler?! Don’t have a clue where all the money has gone, but house payment hasn’t been paid. Foreclosure. How did I find out? My aunt saw it in newspaper, and my mom asked me about it. Seriously? This is happening and I’m the LAST to know? What kind of person am I living with?? Found housing, and took over bills to try to dig us out and figure out finances. Hmmm…lots of things don’t make sense and don’t add up. But don’t question it. I’ll regret it if I even consider it. 

The news that Christopher’s father had died turned my inner world upside down. So much I could have done differently. I let it end without even saying I love you. I had lost him, really lost him forever. Could I have helped save him?

Not sure if it was too much stress or all the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds I was on, but I miscarried twins. A boy and a girl. Guess who didn’t care? No support from my husband, so I’ll just keep this one to myself. Most likely no one else will care either. Heavy burden to carry alone. So much sadness and grief and no one knew for years.

New house. New beginnings? Nope. More of the same. Baby boy on his way now. Cannot wait! My kids are truly my world. My whole reason for living.

Wait. Lies. Lies. More lies. Just admit the truth. I can forgive it all. Nope. Denial and more narcissistic behaviors make me think I’m totally nuts. I can’t do this anymore. It’s killing me. I’m living life as a prisoner in my own home. Please go out of town soon, or work overtime. The kids and I need to come out of our rooms and feel welcome in our own house. My kids cannot grow up thinking this normal or ok.

Get out of my house. Divorce. But it’ll be rough. The only promise he ever kept was to make my life miserable and difficult if I ever left him. Two years for the divorce to be finalized, all the while having to watch my back for his vehicle or a co-workers, or vehicle from another agency hiding around the corner watching me and the kids through binoculars. Just within enough distance to let me know their presence to intimidate me, but far enough away that I can’t call in for restraining orders. Well played, but please understand that people at my workplace are noticing, too.

Anxiety. Here, Baby Boy. This helps me. Some Yoga and Pranayama (Breathwork). And carry this special rock with you in your pocket. It has Mommy’s Kiss and anytime you miss me or feel anxious, get it out, rub it or kiss it, and remember that I’m not far away. I promise I wouldn’t leave you here if I didn’t trust your teachers. Thanks, Mrs. Principal for lovingly restraining my boy while I run off to get to work through my tears. Not only did Father choose to leave, but Mommy left her 16 year old position as stay home mom to go to work. I promise I’m not abandoning you, Sweetie. I’m doing the FOR you. We’ll repeat this process all year and have more of this experience for another 2 or three years. Whew! Eventually it does get better.

Ok…hang on tight. Here’s a ride. Thank God I know the signs of depression. Helping a daughter who had discovered self-harm and had her own suicidal thoughts wasn’t fun. How many nights did I cry through this?! Such a difficult thing to go through alone. Poor Peyton. How neglected you must feel while I try to help Sissy. What?! She’s pregnant? OK. Another baby is always welcome, plus he saved her life. Thank you, Angel Child.

Dating? Are you kidding me? How many guys do you think want to date a woman who is in Mommy Mode 24/7. Oh wait…I AM only on standby for four hours a week but I really need that time to nourish myself. Please leave me alone since I’ve finally learned that he isn’t really just going to take off with the kids and not return them! I’ve learned that it is ok to take care of me! Anyway, if you aren’t going to be good for and to me, and be willing to accept me AND my kids for who we are, then we don’t need you. Go ahead. Walk away and use whatever story you need to tell yourself to make you feel less guilty. We’ll be ok. We are perfectly imperfect and we are a chaotic mess. But we are each other’s everything.

Too much stress and overwhelm has created chronic illnesses that make it difficult to function in my everyday life. Guilt arises at all I’m not accomplishing and time I can’t spend in wholeness with my kids. Yoga and meditation help greatly but I need more support. That’s hard to admit…SIGH…

I watch from a distance as my (step)daughter goes through stuff that I’m not in a position to be able to offer help or even much emotional support, and her babies and my (step)son’s are all growing way too fast. I hate that I’m missing it. But I have never been allowed to develop relationships with the rest of the family, so this really shouldn’t bother me so much. Yet, it does. Always has.

Now Christopher.

What did I miss? I think nothing, but there must have been something? He was the one who spent the most time in counseling. His faith in God is the strongest fo anyone I know. He has so much to look forward. Graduating with highest honors, faithfully attending mass and chapel, loyal to his friends and family. What did I miss? There were no obvious signs. He worked hard, he was proud of himself for his efforts. Perhaps it was uncertainty of what’s next after College Graduation. Perhaps he was afraid of not getting into grad school. Perhaps he was afraid of being alone, starting his new chapter in life. Perhaps it was lack of sleep as he tried to excel in his classes, but he didn’t speak about his “maladies” openly to us. Or to anyone, it seems. I have, however, seen notes of encouragement left in his school mailbox. I cannot express how thankful I am for those short, sweet notes.

Because I had allowed myself to become stressed to the point of illness, I did my best to remind him to slow down. Rest. Play. Enjoy Life. He was much like me, in many ways. I could never ever deny him, nor would I want to!

He did Enjoy Life. He travelled. He spent quality time with friends. He knew what he wanted to do, and he did it, with no apologies or regrets, except that he did care whether or not his family supported his decisions. Of course, we usually did! He enjoyed life. Or so it seemed.

Robin Williams. I see now that my child had a soul in resonance with the great comedian.

Someone recently expressed concern over my being alone at my Yoga Studio at night. I assured him I take safety precautions when I’m alone, but that I’ve already experienced so much, that not much else could phase me. Sure, I could be killed, but I’m all good. Death happens, and it’s going to come to me anyway. The worst thing that could happen to me at this point is that something would take away one of my kids.

Damn. I was right about that. So please excuse me while I grieve.

Nothing. And I mean NOTHING is worse than losing a child.

So I write this reminder to myself. Not for sympathy, but to remind myself that I’m strong, determined, and now capable of showing compassion and unconditional love to others. I now know how to share and help others who have struggles, too. I take joy in sharing with and serving others and helping them find their Light again.

I write this as a reminder that I’ve changed tremendously for the better. I’m happy to say I’m not the same person I use to be.

I’ve been through Hell and Back. And I’ve survived. In large part to my parents who always have my back, and in large part because of my Faith in One Higher Than I, for all those times I didn’t feel adequate, capable or able. And of course, Yoga. It makes everything better. 

NOTHING is worse than losing a child. But I’m doing pretty damn good, considering.

And so are you, The Bright Shining Star who is reading this. Go, Do You. Nobody else can do it so well!

Struggling so much you’re not sure you can hold on much longer? Trying to help someone you love?

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline today! 1-800-273-8255

Namaste,

Nikki

Eating Disorder Awareness 2018: Day 7

I realized I needed help when my firstborn was almost 4 years old. I was a full time student and a primary caregiver to my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. I was in an unhealthy marriage. I was stressed to the max and overwhelmed. I was scared. I weighed in at 83 pounds, couldn’t sleep for days at a time, suffered horrible migraines, and literally hated everything about myself.
I used alcohol, opiates, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety meds to try to survive. I was in therapy, yet I was in large part self-medicating. One night, I overdid it, and was lucky to have woken up the next morning. I called my therapist and she got a team together to start putting my treatment plan in place. She saw my desperation to stay alive so that I could be Mommy to my baby. I am thankful she believed in me and fought her own battles to see that I got appropriate help. If I had nothing else to live for, I had my baby.
I was sent to Florida for treatment, where I resided in two facilities, and started attended different 12 step meetings. I despised being away from my kiddo, and angry that I missed his 4th birthday. However, that’s where Yoga found me, and I realized my story was to be used for a Higher cause someday.
My healing began 20 years ago. It is a process, not a perfect. Recovery has been a rough ride, and I have good days and bad. When I can’t remember on my own the tools I’ve learned, I have friends and family who jump in to help. Even on my darkest nights, though, I remember the who and why that finally brought me face to face to my most dangerous demon.
This kid, from the moment I first found I was pregnant, gave me a sense of purpose and belonging. My Mommy Status requires that I stay healthy, set a good example, and live my life in accordance to Divine Will.
I didn’t choose to suffer with eating disorders, but I can choose to give up or continue on the fight. I choose to allow God to work through me, because I know somewhere out there someone else needs to know he/she isn’t alone. The struggle is real, but help is out there. 
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Call NEDA now 1-800-931-2237, and if you want, use the form below to contact me, too. You are not alone.

 

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018: Day 6

5 Steps to Positive Body Image:
1. Appreciate all that your body can do.
2. Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like.
3.Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin-deep.
4. Look at yourself as a whole person. 
5. Surround yourself with positive people.

Challenge: Show us who supports you/recovery. Community-We all have some sort of tribe, support group or community that we do things and surround ourselves with. Maybe your tribe is your local yoga studio, your church group, your running buddies or your family. Who is your community that you love to be with, can’t live with without, and what do you all do together

MY TRIBE:
My sons, daughter, and grandson. They are undoubtedly the loves of my life. Nothing in the world means as much to me as my babies. Every decision I have ever made…the good along with the not so good…have been for these kiddos. My intentions have always been to do whatever it takes to make theirs lives the best possible. They are the reason I keep waking up every morning, and keeping fighting the battle even on my darkest nights.

I also have some of the best friends a girl could ask for. I haven’t always gotten along with other females. However through the years, these Lovely Ladies have helped me understand the importance of having feminine energy surround me and support me. I need it to help me stay healthy and break negative lifestyle and mental patterns. When most everyone else come and go at their own convenience, these Gals show up, invited or not, just to be sure I’m ok. They aren’t afraid to tell me like it is, hold me accountable, and perhaps most importantly, remind me that I’m loved. My Soul Sisters.  

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Do you or someone you know need help? Call NEDA now.
Toll-free Information and Referral Helpline: 1-800-931-2237

Also, feel free to use the contact form below to reach out to me. You are not alone.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018: Day 5

10 (MORE) general Physical Symptoms of Eating Disorders, as per NEDA:

Dental problems, such as enamel erosion, cavities, and tooth sensitivity; Dry skin and hair, and brittle nails; Swelling around area of salivary glands; Fine hair on body (lanugo); Cavities, or discoloration of teeth, from vomiting; Muscle weakness; Yellow skin (in context of eating large amounts of carrots); Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet; Poor wound healing; Impaired immune functioning

Today’s Challenge: Uneasiness/Vulnerability- Putting yourself out there and trying something new can sometimes make us pretty uneasy. Have you ever done a yoga posture or fitness class that just made you feel unsure, maybe a bit vulnerable? Did you have to back out or were you able to complete the task! Tell us and post a picture of what it was.

Although I can easily answer yes to certain yoga poses and fitness classes causing me to feel uneasy, tonight’s challenge was literally just to get me out of the house to start stepping into my “normal” life. I have not been out of my house much at all since Feb 9. I’ve only left a few absolute necessary times, for short amounts of times.

Tonight, though, I even got out of yoga pants and into jeans, and I put on makeup. GASP! I know, right?! In truth, there were probably other reasons for the makeup…but it still got put on…that’s a true rarity.

One little step into acceptance that my life really does have to go on without one of my children. I’ll probably forever hate Fridays, but spending time tonight watching My Little Man play basketball was worth taken on the anxiety and the vulnerability that I am still feeling.

How could I even think about missing his first AAU game of the season? Could I have forgiven myself if I hadn’t been able to get over my own $#!t?!

I’m thankful for some people who have made me feel just a little bit more safe during this dark night.

And I’m thankful for this kid. Just look at his smile.

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Do you or someone you know need help? Call NEDA’s Toll-free Information and Referral Helpline: 1-800-931-2237. You can also use the form below to contact me. Remember, you are not alone.

 

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018: Day 4

Let’s start talking about some general PHYSICAL Symptoms of Eating Disorders  

The first 10, as per NEDA: Noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down; Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid reflux, etc.); Menstrual irregularities — missing periods or only having a period while on hormonal contraceptives (this is not considered a “true” period); Difficulties concentrating; Abnormal laboratory findings (anemia, low thyroid and hormone levels, low potassium, low white and red blood cell counts); Dizziness, especially upon standing; Fainting/syncope; Feeling cold all the time; Sleep problems; Cuts and calluses across the top of finger joints (a result of inducing vomiting)

Challenge- show us Strength! What activity have you done in the past that made you feel strong? Tell us and post a picture of what it was so that we can celebrate YOUR strength! 

My yoga studio. Designed for small, intimate classes. I had a vision many years ago to use my life experiences to help/serve others through Yoga. I was being called to help others heal. Yet, there were many, many obstacles to overcome to first. I had to first understand what Yoga had done for me.

Yoga helped me through eating disorders, an unhealthy marriage, divorce, severe depression and anxiety, dealing with a child suffering from her own and then dealing with her teenage pregnancy. Now Yoga is helping me find acceptance in the worst ever kind of Momma Nightmare imaginable. Through Yoga, I connect closely with God…that’s where any strength I have has ultimately come from.

I vowed to someday teach using my own experiences. I understand that not all yoga is right for everyone. I get to watch people thrive who once didn’t feel comfortable in other class settings or who have been too self-conscious to try Yoga. I was one of those people, too, so I get it! I LOVE to watch people change and grow confident in themselves.

My strength…My Little Studio…because I know where I once was and I’m thankful for how much I’ve changed.

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Do you or someone you know need help? It is time to call NEDA’s Toll-free Information and Referral Helpline: 1-800-931-2237.

Feel free to contact me, too, using the form below. You are not alone.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018: Day 3

6 (MORE) COMMON EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL SYMPTOMS OF AN EATING DISORDER, as described by NEDA:

  • Any new practices with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities
  • Frequent dieting
  • Extreme concern with body size and shape
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
  • Extreme mood swings

Today’s Challenge: Resourcefulness! What is the most resourceful thing you have ever come up with to get your workout in?

Well, Darn it. I’m actually going to have to do more today than just snap a shot of a pose or two. Am I ready to practice? My first actual asana practice since 2.8.18. Twenty days. I don’t know if I’m ready. May it’s time. I should clean up first. I’m a mess. My pants don’t fit well, my hair is a mess, and this shirt though! Just do it.

Ok. Done. Did I really forget a few Ardha Uttanasana? My alignment is off, I couldn’t hover in Chaturanga, I had trouble with headstand. Look at my heavy breathing. Do I dare post this?! I know I have to…for me…and perhaps someone else.

Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations…if I do nothing else to move my body, I practice a few rounds of these. Often, like today, once I start, I’m led to a few poses that I need. Sun Salutations create the perfect balance between strength and flexibility. Sun Salutations offer a meditative experience as each breath links to each movement. Sun Salutations raise the heart rate and help with detoxification and purification.

Most importantly, though…Sun Salutations can be done almost anywhere. No special equipment needed. Not even a yoga mat is really needed, but carpet is gross…my nose isn’t going there!! But what’s better? Fifteen minutes. My whole practice today timed right at 15 minutes. My body feels better tonight and my mind feels more focused. And I’m thankful for the challenge.

Do you or someone you know need help? Call Toll-free Information and Referral Helpline: 1-800-931-2237, and remember you are not alone. Feel free to use the form below to contact me. 

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018: Day 2

6 COMMON EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL SYMPTOMS OF AN EATING DISORDER, as described by NEDA:

  • In general, behaviors and attitudes that indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
  • Appears uncomfortable eating around others
  • Food rituals (e.g. eats only a particular food or food group [e.g. condiments], excessive chewing, doesn’t allow foods to touch)
  • Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals

“Today’s challenge: Humanity/Humbleness: What is one activity that you have tried that you failed at miserably that first time you tried it?  Did you go back and try it again?”

This was tough for me because impulsively I answered LIFE! Too many miserable attempts and failures to count! UUUGH! Ok, I do admit though…I’m not in my happiest of places right now, and every day, every thing I do is taking every ounce of effort.

So I chose my favorite yoga pose that helps me break free from ego’s pride. This asana helps me surrender to the truth of what’s happening in my body, mind, and spirit when strong and often uncomfortable sensations arise telling me all those long held “issues in my tissues” are ready to be dealt with and released. When I learn to stay present during difficult moments on my mat, I’m also learning to stay present during life’s perfectly imperfect moments.

Humble Warrior reminds me to stand strong in my truth and in my faith, and to do so in sweet surrender. I am reminded to turn my focus inward so that I can Listen to Divine Calling. During particularly difficult times, I couple this asana with the Kali mudra to connect with My Inner Fierce Goddess. On my darkest days this mudra helps to let go of the pain and allow the light to enter again.

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Do you or someone you know need help? Please call NEDA’s Toll-free Information and Referral Helpline: 1-800-931-2237.

You can also use the form below to contact me. You are not alone.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018: Day 1

According to The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental illnesses that can affect people of every age, sex, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic group. National surveys estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

Types & Symptoms of Eating Disorders:

Anorexia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa  

Binge eating disorder

Orthorexia  

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED)

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Pica

Rumination disorder  

Unspecified feeding or eating disorder (UFED)  

Laxative abuse  

Compulsive exercise

It’s a picture from September 2017 but I love my expression! Obviously, I was shocked to have  lifted. After YEARS of studying and practicing yoga, I finally decided to stop letting fear get in the way of attempting handstands. How many times has fear stopped me in my tracks off the mat, too? Adho Mukha Vrksasana is my new favorite practice to help me remember that I can stay stuck or I can keep practicing living a my life fully. This is the asana that currently helps me embody confidence. Today’s challenge was to share a pose that helps me find confidence. I still have a long way to go, but no doubt I have more strength now than I did when I first came to yoga while in was in a recovery center for eating disorders. Not only that, I have developed a more playful attitude, too. With confidence, comes the ability to laugh at myself each time I come tumbling down!

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Do you or someone you know need help?
Toll-free Information and Referral Helpline: 1-800-931-2237

You can also use the form below to contact me. You are not alone.