Category Archives: Walk the Path

I’m Asking You to Show Up for Yourself

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Dear beautiful, fabulous, wonderfully–talented goddess,

I have a question for you:

I know that you're busy. I know that life sometimes feels a bit overwhelming. I know that you have so many roles, responsibilities, and obligations. I know that sometimes you just wish you could run away from your life. I know that sometimes you doubt whether you're good enough to handle it all or good (insert appropriate inner mean girl rant) enough period.

I know the days/weeks/sometimes months go by before you even start to consider your own needs. I know that sometimes you skip meals and forget to eat because you're just that busy, or maybe sometimes at the end of a really long day, you dive headfirst into the Ben & Jerry's ice cream just because it seems like a good idea and it seems like a comfort. I know that sometimes you wish you could just have more control over your life, or just fewer things on your to do list. 

I know that sometimes you just wish you didn’t have to be the one who has to take care of everything and everyone. I know that you dream of vacationing to exotic destinations and, maybe sometimes, dream of what it might be like to just run away and stay there and have someone take care of your every need for a change.

Here's what I want you to know: you are beautiful and wonderful and absolutely perfectly imperfect just the way you are. I wish that you could see yourself as I see you, rather than judging the woman in the mirror yet again. But I know that you don't always see things that way. Sometimes you see yourself as flawed, broken, or needing fixing. Sometimes you just wish it was your turn to catch a break, a good night’s sleep, or whatever it is that your heart desires. And I know that sometimes you feel like that's never going to happen.

I'm here today because I have a favor to ask of you. It's a favor for me and, really, for you. Here's what I know: you are absolutely worthy of your own time, your own care, your own nurturing, and that your dreams do matter. So for today, and preferably all of your days, 

I'm asking you to take care of yourself and fill your own cup before you fill everybody else's. I'm asking for you to just once put yourself first. Because here's the deal: if you don't take care of yourself and put you first, you won't be able to show up for all those that you serve. Your kids need you, your parents need you, your siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, family, friends, clients, and colleagues need you. We all need you. But we need you to be you – not the drained, depleted, overspent version of you. We need you to be the best version of you. No  – I'm not judging you for not showing up for yourself. I'm writing this to myself as much as anyone else.

But I want to you consider this question: What would life be like if you started living that way – serving from your overflow and not from your reserves? How would you be better able to show up for yourself and for others?

Here's the deal: you have permission to be who you are. And here’s my wish for you: one of these days, maybe not today, I hope that you're in a place where you are finally ready. You're ready to claim you – all parts of you – no matter what you actually think about those parts – good, bad, indifferent. Because when you can do this, when you can learn to claim, accept, love you for who you are just as you are right now in this moment, then you have conquered the last frontier. Nothing can hold you back. Because you see, once you realize you're the one that's been holding you back all this time, you're free.

So I'm asking you to show up for yourself. Five, 10, 15 minutes a day. (Check out today’s video for some ideas on how to do this.) Try it and you’ll realize the feeling of showing up for you is addicting. And may I repeat: you’re worth it.

If you are ready to show up for you, I invite you to join us for The Well-Nourished Goddess: The Art of Sacred Self-Care. 21 experts all talking about how they show up for themselves on a daily basis despite their responsibilities. We would love to see you there. You can join us here:  TheWellNourishedGoddess.com.

Practicing the Power of the Pause

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“In the silence within, you will find relief, truth, and the instructions you’ve been seeking. Go there. And listen.” ~ Brendon Burchard

Ever sense I can remember, I've had a love- hate relationship with Summer. On the one hand, it is my favorite season because it's the only time of year that I can take a couple of months off from school. I use this time to recharge, get creative about what I want to do next, and focus on projects – like my business – that I may have neglected a little bit during the school year. On the other hand, I dread the summer. It's too hot to go outside and do all of the things I was looking forward to doing because of the heat.

But more importantly, I've recently realized that with summer comes a little bit of a feeling of depression and being lost. I frequently get the blues in the winter time – seasonal affective disorder gets me almost every year. But this is different. This has nothing to do with lack of sunshine and everything to do with my abundance of free time.

I found myself feeling this combination of mild depression and “lostness” both last summer and this summer and it struck me by surprise. Last summer, I chalked it up to having thrown my back out and missing a planned trip to Yellowstone Park. This summer, I thought it was just grief at first – I lost my beloved 10-year-old German Shepherd Kolby at the beginning of the summer – combined with having a bad reaction to the vaccines I took before leaving the country.

The feeling when away when I was in Ecuador and Peru, but seemed to return the minute the plane landed back home. That's when I realized – this isn't just grief. This has nothing to do with being injured or sick from vaccines. This is something else entirely; and it took me about a week to figure out what it was.

It's discomfort with the pause; it's discomfort with the idea that I'm not working full-time. During the school year, I'm so busy that sometimes I forget to eat. That's why I look forward to summer so much. I get my “me” time back. And yet, at some level, it's as though I don't know what to do with myself. Without the structure of classes and meetings and deadlines, I forget what it's like to be me. To just be.

I started to explore this idea further. When I look back over my many summers off – after all, between being a student and being a professor, I have been doing this summer thing for over 40 years now – I realized something. I never really have gotten the knack of taking the summer “off.” I always manage to fill my time with something. Last summer I taught an extra class, then did a series of paintings, and presented my work at a research conference. This summer I also taught an extra class in May, and since then, I have been working on a telesummit I will be launching in September (which I am so excited about!!!!). Every single summer – at least since I've been an adult – I've always managed to fill my time off with just another form of do-ing.

I found this realization very interesting. Why, when I supposedly look forward to summers, do I fill my time with other things? That's where the discomfort comes in. It's a discomfort with just be-ing; it's a discomfort with the pause. When I dove deeper, I realized that this discomfort comes from an old pattern that used to define my self-worth: you must be productive to be a value. Like many of us, I learned growing up that my value came from do-ing for others. The older I've gotten, the more I've come to understand that I must take care of me or I can't be of service to others. And the more I've taken care of me, the more I've been able to shift out of this old doing=worthiness mindset. Yet, at a subconscious level, it's still there. If you're taking time to pause (if it’s not a productive pause – more on that in today’s video), then you're not do-ing. And if you're not do-ing, then you're not of value. That's the discomfort. That's the old mindset that I thought I had gotten rid of. Turns out that mindsets can be sneaky though…

So I'm developing an experiment for myself – a non-doing experience, a chance to practice, and maybe even, enjoy the Pause. If this is something that interests you, I'm planning to do this experiment for the next 30 days and see what happens. I talk more about this experiment in today's video, although with other types of pauses that I am more comfortable with and integrate into my self-care on a regular basis.

I hope you'll join me.

Stop and Smell the Flowers: Lessons Learned in Ecuador and Peru

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I just spent a wonderful 11 days visiting Ecuador and Peru. Like many of life's lessons, I feel that although my journey is over, in some ways, it has only begun. The constant rushing around of the on-the-go trip left me little time to process all I was learning about myself and about the two countries I visited. Yet, I feel that these lessons will reveal themselves over time. 

When I reflect on my trip, what immediately comes to mind is this:

1) We take so much for granted – our tour guide reminded us when we first arrived that these 2 countries were not “first world” countries and that things might be different from home. From differing levels of poverty to different cuisine options to the lack of simple things like toilet paper (or even running water sometimes), I was reminded of everything I have to be grateful for. While I've had a daily gratitude practice for over a decade, I feel it may be time to deepen this.

2) We are all different, yet we all want the same things – there was one woman in our tour group who consistently challenged “social norms,” especially when it came to men (kissing them on the lips, swatting them on the butt, giving out neck massages and back – all unwanted and unsolicited by these men). It made for a few awkward encounters, to say the least, with both the male recipients and their wives. Yet, we all realized that this woman had good intentions. These affectionate behaviors were her way of finding comradery and friendship within our group and with those she met along the way. And who doesn't want to feel loved and accepted? 

3) Take time to stop and smell the roses (or whatever flower it may be) and taste the chocolate (literally, as roses and chocolate are two of the major crops exported by Ecuador!) – time seemed to move more slowly in Peru and Ecuador. While the bigger cities like Quito and Lima were similar to the United States in terms of traffic and people rushing around, in the outlying areas and smaller towns like Cusco and Aguas Calientes, life seemed to move at a much slower and calmer pace. I saw families making time to play together in the park on a Sunday afternoon, friends sitting around drinking chicha (corn beer) and sharing their lives with each other, and children laughing and playing with llamas and alpacas while their parents worked the fields or sold goods in small local shops. I remembered that life can move at a slower pace. While it sometimes seems that we have no choice but to give into the busyness of life, we can actually choose to slow down, choose to put unimportant things off until tomorrow, choose not to respond to that email or return that phone call or text right this instant, or choose to take things off our plates (for now or for good).

4) All we have is this moment – usually when I travel, I find myself thinking of what I need to do when I get back home. Yet, there was something about these magical places that encouraged me to simply be, take it all in, and enjoy each moment, each experience, as I lived it. This is a lesson that I am struggling with now that I am back in the States. But, when I find myself thinking about my to-do list, all I have to do is close my eyes and be present in this moment and I find myself more calm instantaneously.

5) Keep moving forward – I had a dream a few nights after we returned. In it, I saw myself at a crossroads. One sign pointed to Peru, back from where I came. The other pointed in the opposite direction and said, “Next.” In my dream, I found myself torn. Do I want to go back to Peru and spend more time exploring the Incan ruins? Absolutely. Do I want to go back to Ecuador and spend more time in the Amazon? Yes. However, I know that I must keep taking one step forward to achieve my dreams and that going back would put those dreams to a halt. So, I consciously chose the path of the “Next” arrow. Do I know what’s next? Not always, but I choose to trust and keep moving forward. In today’s video, I talk more about moving forward in times of uncertainty and how to maintain a balance of forward movement and reflection/presence.

 

 

I Give You Permission to Just Be…

By | Goddess Wisdom, Walk the Path, Wisdom Blog | 2 Comments

Summer is here and I am in mini retreat mode. Yet, I’m finding it challenging to settle in to the pause. Rushing to get things “done” so I can go on vacation, my mini retreat has felt more like my regular work weeks than I’d like.

I was talking with my Sisters in the Sacred Circle about how we were going to handle my limited internet access during my vacation time (we typically converse daily in our Facebook group). I was concerned that I would be letting them down if I went for a few days without connecting with them. But one by one they started to chime in that I needed a break and it was okay to actually take a vacation, even from the Sacred Circle. They assured me that they would be fine during my absence.

Suddenly I felt like I could breathe again. I hadn’t realized how much pressure I had been putting on myself to preemptively handle everything that might crop up in the two weeks I’ll be gone. But of course, you can’t predict the future, so it’s nearly impossible to account for “everything” that could happen.

The more I’ve been thinking about my struggle to cut down on “work” mode and move into mini retreat mode, the more I’ve realized that this too is a life lesson. I think one of my Sisters said it best when she said, “Maybe you are supposed to learn the lesson of disconnecting from “work” and focus on fun and adventure!!” She knows me well!

I’ve found this concept of giving ourselves permission coming up a lot lately – with my private clients, in my group coaching programs, with friends, and, yes, for me personally. This reminds me of an experience I had with a client a few years ago. I had asked her what she did for fun and she said, “You don’t understand, when I let myself sit down on the couch for even 5 minutes, the voice inside my head [the inner critic] tells me I’m being lazy and I should get up and do something.” How many of us can relate to that? We wear our busyness as a badge of honor. We pride ourselves in never taking sick days or vacations. But is that really the way you want to live your life?

When my partner and I first met, he told me that he had over 6 weeks of vacation saved up. At two weeks of vacation a year, that meant he hadn’t allowed himself to take a day off in over three years. He was also working two jobs at the time, so he worked most evenings and weekends as well. I would’ve been more stunned if I hadn’t had been guilty of the same thing…  As we talked about this, we realized that work was an escape for both of us, but now that we were happy and had someone in our lives we actually wanted to travel with, we should do something about it. We decided to hold each other accountable for taking time off and exploring the world and having a little fun. So we made a pact to take at least 2 week-long vacations per year. We made a bucket list of places we want to go and are continually adding (and now crossing off!) places we want to go. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to our vacations!

Yet, you don’t have to take weeks off or go to exotic locales to give yourself permission to just … be. In the busyness of our everyday lives, sometimes the idea of a vacation seems like a far off pipe dream. And yet, it doesn’t have to be. What would happen if you gave yourself permission to take 5 minutes to yourself every day to simply unplug and be? How would that change your life? If 5 minutes seems too easy, then go for 10 or 20 or even 30 minutes! You don’t have to sit in meditation or have a plan for your 5 minutes. In fact, I think it would be better if you didn’t. Rather, just allow yourself to simply be. Like an empty bowl, simply be there – open and ready to receive.

I’d love to hear what you find in your daily practice. Give it time and I bet the insights that simply be-ing give you will be profound.

A Lesson in Presence

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How often do you multitask, or divide your attention between more than one task at the same time? I do it often, usually without noticing I'm doing so. Even though I have meditated for years, I still struggle with being present.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day. We spend so much of our lives thinking or doing, while we're doing something else, that we often let life pass us by, not noticing the miracles unfold before us. Because I too often fall into this trap, I've recently begun a daily practice of noticing – noticing the flowers as their buds form and then open, noticing the first signs of Spring, noticing the hummingbirds at my feeder. But it's effortful for me at this point. It doesn't feel natural to simply just be present and allow whatever is going to happen to happen. I'm still so easily distracted by my monkey mind.

So I began to explore why I do this. Why I can't simply be still and allow the unfolding. I came up with several ahas from my reflection process:

  1. I still have too many things on my to do list each day – although I limit myself to a to do list of my three most important tasks, these tasks often have many subtasks that need to get done for the entire task to be completed. But that's cheating. It's not my three most important tasks if it's really 20 tasks that comprise those three. 
  2. I still struggle with not tying my sense of self-worth to my productivity. I think many of us were raised in environments where our worth – our value – was determined by how much we accomplished each day and/or how well we did it. Breaking decades of conditioning is difficult to do. Thus, although I am aware that I still do it, it doesn't always mean I can stop myself in my tracks. 
  3. As much as I enjoy my meditation time, too much silence is still a bit uncomfortable for me. I find myself wanting to fill that silence with something. So I need to learn to get more comfortable with silence and stillness. That will be a challenge for me, but one I am eager to accept.

How do I plan to accomplish all of this? To get more present, more comfortable with be-ing, more comfortable with silence and stillness? I'm going to have to get outside my comfort zone.

  1. Instead of organizing my day around the tasks that I need to get done before I quit working, I'm going to try exploring organizing my day around time. So if I decide I'm going to stop working at 2 PM, I stop working at 2 PM, regardless of what I have or have not gotten done that day. While this will be uncomfortable if I have not accomplished everything on my to do list, I think it will help me re-organize and prioritize what's most important for me. It should also have the side benefit of holding me more accountable to actually focusing during the hours I do allot for work (I am notorious for getting derailed by email…)
  2. I'm going to schedule in “noticing breaks.” I want to be able to go outside and just be. Listen to the birds chirping, notice the wind as it crosses my skin, stop and smell the roses. That being said, I think it will actually be more challenging for me if I take some of these breaks inside – where I'm more likely to get derailed or sidetracked by things that are crying out for my attention – like dirty laundry it needs to be washed or things I need to pick up in the kitchen. Just noticing those things, being a silent and still observer, and not acting on them, will definitely challenge my sense of orderliness. It should be a good exercise for me.
  3. I'm going to practice my active listening skills. So often when we're engaged with someone else – either in person or on the phone – in the back of our minds, we're thinking about something else. But that's truly not fair to us or to them. And it certainly is not being present. Most people can sense when we're not present with them. I'm sure you've had that feeling before – that someone wasn't really listening to you when you were talking to them. Half the time, I'm guessing the other person doesn't even realize consciously that they're doing it. I know I don't. The challenge for me will be stopping when I notice my mind going down a rabbit hole and actually being mindfully present.

 

Are You Getting the Support You Need?

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I was talking with a friend the other day about Superwoman Syndrome – the idea that as women today, it's not enough to know that we can do whatever we set our minds to. It's almost like we feel like we have to do it all, or we're less than. 

So many of my clients, and I have certainly been guilty of this myself, define their self-worth by the length of their to-do list and the number of items they're able to check off each day. It's as though, at a fundamental level, we feel our worth is somehow tied to our productivity. The problem is, our productivity is usually defined by somebody else's to-do list (that is, items others wish us to do for them). At the end of the day, we may find ourselves feeling “productive,” yet unfulfilled and exhausted.

I found myself reflecting on this conversation for several days. A quotation – I have no idea who originally said it – kept running through my head: “if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself.”

I think somewhere along the way, this got translated into something entirely different in our brains: instead of “if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself,” it became more of “you should be able to do everything by yourself. If you can't and you have to ask for help, it means you're weak.”

So we stopped asking for help and we started placing more and more burdens on our own shoulders, somehow expecting that we would be able to do it all and do it all perfectly, with no thought to our own health or sanity.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I agree, and I would take it one step further. It takes a village to run a business. It takes a village to raise a family. It takes a village to be human. We need each other to survive and thrive. 

There is no shame in asking for help, or in allowing yourself to receive it. I give you permission to ask for help. I give you permission to accept it with open arms. You don't have to do this alone. In fact, you weren't meant to.

In today's video, I guide you through a process you can use to decide when and where you might need a little support. You've got this. There are others waiting to help you.

 

It’s Time to Take Back Your Power

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It was 6 o'clock in the morning on a random Friday in November of 2013. A woman I'd met one time and barely knew messaged me on Facebook. She asked me: why aren't you walking in your power?

After the initial shock wore off that a woman I barely knew was messaging me about some really weird thing on Facebook, it dawned on me: she was right. I hadn't been walking in my power because I'd been too busy giving it away.

The problem was that I wasn't really sure what taking back my power or walking in my power even meant. I always learned growing up that power was a bad thing – if you have power, then you have power over somebody else. I didn't want that. That didn’t feel good to me. So I had to figure out – what is this elusive thing called power and why did I need to walk in it?

It’s been quite the 4-year journey since that random message I received on Facebook. But since then I've come to define my power as this:

  • it's my ability to share my truth from my heart,
  • it's my ability to stay true to me and what's best for me regardless of what anybody else thinks,
  • it's listening to the voice of my inner wisdom – my connection to Divine – and honoring it.

So how did I do it? How did I take back my power and learn to walk in it?

  1. I stopped trying to please everybody else, because I realized that was exercise in futility. – This was not easy to do, mind you. I had been the “yes” woman for so long that I had people trained to assume that if they asked me to do something, I would graciously comply. More on how I did that in today’s video.
  2. Rather than turning to everyone else for advice, I started listening to that still small voice inside of me because I realized that I actually do know what’s best for me. – This again was challenging. I had become so disconnected from myself that I could barely hear that still, small voice and I certainly didn’t trust it. But over time, and with practice, I learned to reconnect with my intuition.
  3. Most importantly, I stopped hiding who I am and started sharing from a place of my authentic truth – the real me. Purple-streaked hair and all.

I want to leave you with this thought:

But you don’t need someone else to tell you what to do. You have everything you need inside of you.

Express Your Inner Wild Woman [Guided Meditation Inside!]

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The classroom I am teaching in this Summer is very chilly. Toward the end of class one day, I let my bun loose so my hair would cover my neck and warm it up. “It’s a little bit early to be letting your hair down, isn’t it?” one of my students teased.  I thought to myself, “No, no it’s not. In fact, this is the perfect time to let your hair down and let your Inner Wild Woman out to play.”

Spring in Idaho can be deceptive – 80s and sunny one day, 40s and rainy the next. It often looks warmer than it truly is. And yet… there is a part of me calling to get outside, to shake my hips and move, to fully express my creative self.

Earlier in the year, I started a series I am calling, “Chrysalis.” The first painting, which I finished in February was just that – the cocoon of a monarch butterfly waiting patiently to spread her wings and fly. The second in the series, which I finished in March, I call “Emergence.” It truly represents the energy of Spring for me – half in and half out of the chrysalis. With the chilly and ever-fluctuating Spring we’ve had here this year, it has felt like I have one foot testing the waters so to speak and the other, planted firmly inside where its warm. The final painting, which I started in March, has no name, nor have I finished it. It will be the last in the series – the painting where the butterfly spreads her wings and flies. I look at that half-finished painting nearly every day and think, “No. It’s not quite time yet.” Part of me is ready to spread my wings and soar, and part is quite comfortable in the safety of my cocoon. And yet, I cannot stay here forever.

2016 was a year of closure for many of us – a necessary part of the circle of life. We must close and release what no longer serves so that we may open the doors of possibility. But there is a waiting time. A time when we’ve emerged from that cocoon, but still aren’t quite sure where we’re going or how to get there. May feels like that to me. Sometimes this “hurry up and wait” energy is quite frustrating; other times I am grateful for this time of slowness before the fire of Summer heats everything up and motivates us to move. May is a time of harmonizing, clarifying – we need to make sure the goals we set for ourselves earlier in the year still serve us and that we’re not holding onto pipe dreams.  It’s a time to both open to receive guidance and focus our intentions to move in the direction of what we want to manifest this year.

So how do you handle this energy? It’s time to get in touch with your Wild Woman self and ask her how she wants to be expressed right now. It’s time to make sure you are getting your own needs met. It’s time to root firmly into the earth’s energy, harmonize with your Soul’s purpose, and take aligned action one baby step at a time. It may not quite be time to soar, but it is certainly time to explore and test your wings a little bit!

In today’s video, I lead you through a brief guided meditation to meet your Inner Wild Woman and ask her what she most wants for you right now. I hope it serves you!

Tend to the Garden of Your Soul

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I've been getting a lot of emails lately from women who are experiencing what I like to call “bright shiny object syndrome.” May is here, and they're ready to finally blossom. Yet, they're not quite sure in which way they want to grow. In other words, it's like being at a buffet and there are too many items to choose from.

I, too, have been experiencing this as of late. But I've been around enough to know that this is a combination of multiple factors, and not something I need to act on right now.

I like to think of May as the time when we tend to our garden. It's an invitation to look at your life in its current situation. Where are there weeds growing? What do you want to harvest this year? What seeds do you need to plant now to make that happen? What's coming up that's left over or reseeded itself from last year? Do you even still want these things in your garden?

I invite you to think of your life as a garden. Examine each and every area. What's working well for you? What is working okay, but could stand a little improvement? What is not working at all? What do you just need to scrap all together and start over with? There's no judgment here. You don't even have to have all of the answers right now.  In fact, it's probably better if you don't. You need to leave yourself open space, an opportunity for things to be a little different than you expected. In fact, rather than going into this exercise with the attitude that you have to figure it all out, I invite you to go into it with an attitude of exploration. Try something new. See if you like it. If you do, keep it. If you don't, toss it. Give yourself permission to explore and see how life can be even better than you imagined.

But that's okay. Everything happens for a reason – even the things that we don't like. How can you use each one of these “life lessons” as opportunities for learning and growth?

I know that sometimes when you're feeling down, when things just aren't going your way, it's difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. May is a time of learning to trust yourself – of learning to have faith that, no matter what, it's all going to be okay. Even if you don't know how it's going to work out, even if you don't see a resolution, it will all be okay. In today's video, I help a viewer who is struggling with learning to live in the moment and be grateful for what she has when she feels like nothing is working out her way. I hope it serves you.

How can you tend to the garden of your Soul today?

 

What Do You Most Want Right Now?: Listening to that Still Small Voice

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It was Friday of dead week (the not-so affectionate, yet somehow appropriate term for the last week of classes) and I was exhausted. After working 12+ hour days for an entire week and more of the same planned for the weekend, I had a heart-to-heart moment with myself.

I asked myself.

Chocolate was the first answer that came to mind, but then I dove a little deeper: I need a break. That's what I most want right now. I haven't been practicing what I preach. I've been pushing too hard, letting others overstep boundaries. I need time for myself – Time to unwind, time to be me, time in nature alone. After a week filled with meetings and grading, I need to give myself the gift of my own time.

So I did.

I took off at 4:30 Friday afternoon, sat outside and soaked up the sunshine for a while, and then went climbing with my man. A little physical activity to release the tension of the week. Just what my body needed. But I still had to care for my mind and my spirit. So I took off Saturday. I journaled, meditated, spent some time in nature alone.

I believe that every year we have a life theme, intentionally chosen or not. Last year my theme was discernment – learning to decide what was good for me and what was not good for me. This year my theme has been balance. Universe has tested me again and again, sending me continual reminders when I've gotten out of balance. 

Balance is an often talked about term, yet it remains elusive. What does being in balance actually mean? For me, it's a balance of masculine and feminine qualities. It's a balance of doing and being, giving and receiving. It's a balance of work and play. It's a balance of self-care and being of service. 

With our endless to do lists, it's so easy to forget that we should be on them. That we too are deserving of our own time and energy. It's so easy to fall out of balance. 

I have mastered the art of pushing, striving, doing. That's what I did for the first 40 years of my life. But in the last few years I've realized that it doesn't have to be that way. And I've been much happier for it. Yet, that balance I keep seeking still sometimes feels elusive.

I think I've finally realized why. I kept trying to “get there” – to that place of balance, desperately hoping that once I arrived there, I would somehow stay there. But that's an impossible task because balance is more of a flow or a feeling of rhythm than a consistent state you achieve. This flow of balance, like a river, is ever changing. Thus, being in flow, in balance, is a process of constantly checking in with yourself to make sure you still feel in the flow rather than in a state of doing or efforting. 

I understand that this goal may seem lofty. After all, we all have things we must “do” each day – make breakfast, go to work, shuttle the kids to soccer practice, etc. Sometimes our to-do lists require some amount of efforting, or doing things we don't necessarily enjoy. Yet, that in and of itself is an opportunity to play with this idea of balance. My colleagues and I like to make games out of grading so the task doesn't seem so onerous. I take frequent grading breaks to reward myself every X number of papers or minutes I’ve spent grading. Another of my colleagues treats herself to a good piece of chocolate or glass of wine after an evening of grading. It's about finding and returning to that space of flow even in the midst of chaos or efforting.

How do you know when you've gotten out of balance? For me, there are clear warning signs when I'm getting out of balance: feeling “out of sorts,” sleep deprivation, clenching my jaw during the day or while I sleep, forgetting to eat because I'm too busy, and finding myself short-tempered. Knowing your red flags is the first step to stop getting out of balance in the first place.

The question then remains: what do you do if you're already out of balance? First, don't beat yourself up. Even if you think you should've known better, or should've done something differently, there's no sense in beating yourself up. Life happens. Second, breathe, check in with yourself wherever you are. Third, ask yourself: what do I need right now in this moment? Allow the answer to bubble up from that heart space – not that ego mind with all of your to-do lists, but from your heart itself. What did you need to come back into balance? Fourth, go to that thing right now if possible, or if not, as soon as you can get to it. Make yourself a priority – and you'll find you fall out of balance a lot less often.

So I ask you: