February Resolutions

This year I’m setting February resolutions because (A) I’ve been running late since I became a parent, and (B) gyms are ridiculously overcrowded in January.

Having a baby thrust me into survival mode for several months and everything except keeping my family clean, clothed, and fed got pushed to the back burner (which has been broken since we bought our house; getting it repaired is yet another deferred task). 2015 was the year of the baby. 2016 is the year of reestablishing the healthy, conscious, ambitious habits that I strayed from for the baby’s sake. I do not regret the choices I made in 2015—I gave the fleeting phase of new motherhood my everything, which was beautiful, joyful, challenging, purposeful, and all-consuming. 2016 is not about neglecting baby care, it’s about embracing my little one’s growing independence and taking ownership of the space it offers me to do and be more.

Here the habits I am forming over the next year:

  1. Eat as well as the baby eats. It is too regular an occurrence that I am feeding the baby freshly prepared organic yam, kale, chicken, and olive oil with one hand and myself Dijiorno pizza with the other. Now, going head-to-head with the baby, matching her  for fruits, veggies, high-protein foods, and healthy fats. I’m on the hunt for meals we can both eat. Yesterday I made mini veggie patties her her and grown-up sized ones for my husband and myself, and it felt great to have a family meal we could all enjoy. I’m on the hunt for family recipes; please post any leads in the comments! In an infant nutrition class I took, the teacher reported that the most significant predictor of how kids end up eating is not what their parents feed them, what what parents eat themselves, so in the long run my eating habits are healthy for the baby too!
  2. Exercise every single day. I dropped down to my pre-pregnancy weight quickly, so the effects of pregnancy and childbirth on my body aren’t outwardly apparent. However, they persist. Last year, I blogged about my challenge with hypermobile joints during pregnancy. The effects have been lasting and uncomfortable (especially since breastfeeding continues to produce hormones that keep my joints lax). Daily exercise is no longer Monday: Step class, Tuesday: Vinyasa yoga, Wednesday: six mile run (and so on…) as it was five years ago. For now, doing fifteen minutes of simple physical therapy exercises before bed counts. To give me the time, space, and community to develop this goal, the baby and I have joined a gym with childcare. The other day, a friend who joined the same gym texted me: “I’m excited to get this baby weight off” and, embarrassingly, I initially interpreted her statement to mean drop the baby off at the daycare. Fitness has long been a haven for me, so along getting stronger and more stable, I’m excited for some real me time (getting out the house to do errands like getting my hair cut and legs waxed doesn’t seem like it should count).
  3. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Before the baby was born, I set an intention to harness my powerful love for her and extend it to all beings. This is hard to do during the tumultuous newborn stage. The baby took up all my love and energy, and I quickly became dependent on the convenience of overly-packaged takeout meals and Amazon Prime deliveries—environment be damned. I got lazy about recycling anything that needed to be washed and frequently disposed of green waste via the garbage disposal rather than dealing with the overflowing food scraps bin. Other than getting over my apathy, my first action item is to get recycling and green waste bins in every room of the house so that there is no excuse to throw junk mail or a used tissue into the trash. My second step is to reduce use of waste-producing items (paper towels are a big opportunity). Once these changes are in place, I’m committed to continuing to look for ways we can increase our contribution to a healthy environment.
  4. Take ownership of home ownership. When we bought our house, I saw so much potential in it! I was going to plant a vegetable garden, convert the patio into a zen oasis, re-landscape the front lawn into a drought-resistent bee-friendly labyrinth, plan and budget for a kitchen remodel down the line, and set up a garage organization system so that it wouldn’t get stacked to the rafters with empty Amazon packaging (as it is now). Two weeks after we closed on the house, we found out I was pregnant, and between the nausea and difficulty moving most of that went out the window. A year-and-a-half later I’m a long way from achieving that vision, and I keep using the baby as a less and less convincing excuse. It’s time to make an action items list and start checking things off.
  5. Dress like a grown-up. When I recently came across the hilarious image below, and it made me think twice about setting this goal, but I’m sticking with it. The timeframe in which it’s still acceptable to wear maternity jeans and yoga pants all the time expired months ago. The last two years have been transformational: I bought a house, I moved to the suburbs, I went through pregnancy, I became a mother, I got older, I stopped teaching yoga… My lifestyle has drastically changed and many of my old clothes are no longer comfortable, practical, or expressive of who I am now. I hate shopping, so I signed up for Stitch Fix, and am hoping to slowly piece together a more suitable wardrobe, month-by-month.
Top 20 Things No Woman Should Wear After 30

I guess it’s time to retire my shirt made of wasps…

What are your New Years Resolutions, and how are they going? Please share in the comments below!

Live a Hopeful, Zesty, Grateful, Loving, Curious Life

For Thanksgiving, I wrote an article over at Inner Fire about the health benefits of gratitude. While sifting through research on gratitude interventions, I came across quote that felt surprisingly inspiring and uplifting for a matter-of-fact academic article. It didn’t fit into the Inner Fire Article, so I wanted to share it here:

Consistently and robustly associated with life satisfaction were hope, zest, gratitude, love, and curiosity. [1]

A hopeful, zesty, grateful, loving, curious life—yes please! Here are some tips on cultivating some of these qualities:

Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. -Claude T Bissell

Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. -Claude T Bissell

For more on gratitude, please read 8 Health Benefits Of Practicing Gratitude Every Day over at Inner Fire.

[1] Nansook Park, Christopher Peterson, Martin E. P. Seligman (2004). Strengths of Character and Well-Being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 23, No. 5, pp. 603-619.

For every minute your are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness -Ralph Waldo Emerson

How do anger, jealousy, and resentment feel in your body? For most of us, they feel uncomfortable. They demand resolution and action, even if there is no possible solution and no act that makes sense. They can cause us to develop painful tension in the jaw, shoulders, and hips. They are all associated with circulation of stress hormones, such as cortisol, that wreak havoc on the immune system and the body at large. It is okay and important to feel all of these feelings. For example, many of us must experience anger in order to fully process loss. Trying to use your yoga practices to skip over anger, jealousy, and resentment entirely isn’t healthy (it’s called spiritual bypass). However, these particular emotions are addictive, and once we’ve started feeling them we tend to hold onto them for much longer than they serve us. If we indulge them over time and fuel them, they can even start to consume us. We become so attached to feeling angry, jealous, and resentful that there’s no room left for joy, friendship, and love.

For every minute your are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness -Ralph Waldo Emerson

For every minute your are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Meditation & Release:

  1. Come into a comfortable sitting position. Close your eyes and notice your breath. Take at least ten breaths here to center.
  2. Once you feel settled, turn your attention to your emotions. Notice your emotions without judging them as good, bad, right, or wrong—judgement clouds your perception. Notice the effects of each emotional experience on your body. Where is there tension? Where is there ease? How do the emotions affect the breath? How do the emotions affect chatter in the mind? Are there any recurring thoughts around these emotions?
  3. Now, take a deep inhale through the nose. Hold the breath at the top for a few moments and notice the swirling of emotions or thoughts around emotions. As you sigh through the mouth, allow anything physical, mental, or emotional that has already served its purpose leave your body with your breath. Don’t force, don’t push, just let anything that is ready to leave go. Do this three to five times.
  4. Take ten or more breaths to notice the physical, emotional, and mental effects of this practice.
  5. Repeat this practice when you’re experiencing different emotions.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. -Marianne Williamson

I think I found this quote by Marianne Williamson on the internet when I was fifteen, and I never get tired of it no matter how many times I read it.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. -Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. -Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. –Marianne Williamson

If you want to be somebody else, change your mind -Sister Hazel

I’m a sucker inspiration, and I think positive affirmations are incredibly powerful. However, in yoga we have the foundational principles of isvara pranydana, which means surrender of control, and santosa, which means contentment. The statements “You can be whoever you want to be” and “You can accomplish anything you set your mind to” sound great on paper, but they aren’t always true. Sometimes the only way to accomplish them is to change your mind.

If you want to be somebody else, change your mind -Sister Hazel

If you want to be somebody else, change your mind -Sister Hazel

In my early teens I suffered from epilepsy. By suffered, I don’t mean I was having grand mal seizures left, right, and center—my epilepsy turned out to be relatively controllable—I was suffering from the loss of my sense of invincibility, from fear of losing control, and from adding the label “disordered” to my identity. I didn’t want to take ownership of any of that yuckiness, and that developed into a sense of dissociation with my body. I guess I thought I’d just hold out and stay in denial until I successfully willed myself to grow out of it. I never did grow out of it.

When I was fifteen, as a first step toward self-acceptance, contentment, and surrender of control I printed out the lyrics to this “Change Your Mind” by Sister Hazel and glued them into my agenda book. Somehow I realized that the only way to stop being a slave to my epilepsy was to start to accept it.

I still have epilepsy, and it does affect my life, but I’m no longer constantly suffering from it mentally and emotionally like I used to be.

Have you ever danced in the rain
Or thanked the sun
Just for shining- just for shining
Over the sea?
Oh no- take it all in
The world’s a show
And yeah, you look much better,
Look much better when you glow

If you want to be somebody else,
If you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself
If you want to be somebody else
Change your mind…

Hey hey-
what ya say

We both go and seize the day
’cause what’s your hurry
what’s your hurry anyway


-Sister Hazel