Monday, November 28, 2016

What I've Learned From 455 Days of Yoga



I began doing daily yoga on September 1, 2015. 

I have not stopped. 

I used to have a daily yoga practice at various times in my life, dating back to the late 1990s. Yes, I have VHS yoga tapes. (I still have to donate those! Haha!).

Besides my current streak of 455 days (as of this writing), I also had a daily practice before I began writing my first book in 2011. During my book publication journey, I had stopped all my positive, daily habits. It’s taken me close to four years to get them back to autopilot. It’s been quite the long road. 

I’ll share a list of things that I’ve learned having over one year of a daily yoga practice. The thing is, there’s so much more I have learned than these things. These simply are a summary and well, I’m a work in progress. Please don’t read folks’ lists online about their growth journeys and think you totally get what is going on with them, okay?:

  1. I learned that it takes more than 21 or 28 days to build a daily habit. I don’t believe the studies that say you can create a habit in a month or less. For some of us, it takes way longer and that’s okay. 
  2. I need accountability and support when creating a habit. I have a best buddy of mine who began this journey with me. We text each other daily with our “I did yoga today’.” Yep. This is how I roll. I’m so grateful to have this pal of mine! I love her! 
  3. I learned that some days, all I can do is 5-10 minutes of yoga, due to illness, fatigue, or just life being life. Those 5-10 minutes DO count as yoga. Having a dedication to a practice or a self-care ritual isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. 
  4. I’m more peaceful, calm, and happy, but I still have my stressed out moments. Yoga always makes me feel way better!
  5. I’m not enlightened. I have a LONG way to go with this, but I do feel that I am more patient with others. I also feel more accepting, kind, compassionate, and loving towards myself and others.
  6. I prefer to do yoga in my pajama pants at home with a DVD or recording or my own flow. I don’t like studios as of yet, but hmm, maybe I will find one I enjoy one day in the near future? 
  7. Yoga does me now. I don’t do yoga, to be honest. I feel that sense of flow or being in my body, which is hard to explain. 
  8. I take my yoga off the mat. I’m that kind person who lets folks cut into traffic, holds doors for others, and smiles at most people. Yep, I’m “that” person! Haha! 
  9. I do yoga in public places in line at the grocery store, for example. I don’t notice if others’ give me strange looks. I work on my balance or breathing. Yoga has become a way of life! 
  10. I feel more flexible. I still can’t touch my nose to my knees in forward bends. That is not point of yoga. I have tight hamstrings from years of being a competitive runner and cyclist. These days, I prefer to walk and do yoga. I have let go of all of my competitive nature as an athlete. I’m a yoga athlete, but I don’t really compete with others. Nope. 
  11. I still have days when I don’t feel like doing yoga, such as when I have bad menstrual cramps, fatigue or autoimmune symptoms or when I am feeling run down from anemia. I still do a bit of yoga. I sometimes challenge myself to do a full practice and it’s interesting…99% of the time, it helps me feel 200% better! Yep!
  12. Resistance to doing a daily habit or practice is normal. I work with it and talk to it, not to sound too crazy. I will just tell my ego or resistance, “Hey, we are going to do this, okay?”
  13. I have become more and more sensitive to energies. I feel others’ pain, heartache, and sadness. I feel everything. I just let it wash through me or around me and don’t take it on or into my being. I breathe it out and breathe in love. 
  14. I feel I’m more part of the oneness of the universe. I don’t see things as yes or no or black or white or this or that. It’s much more complicated, but not really. We are all one. Everything is one. We are even one with Donald Trump. Yep, I went there! I didn’t vote for him, but really, I don’t think you need to know any more about my political views here.
  15. I’ve learned that love is needed. We are love. You can’t love too much. 
  16. I’ve learned that I’m badass. I mean, about four months after my mom passed, I began my daily yoga practice up again. I knew that I had to work with grief. I chose to become friends with grief. In 2015, I went to six funerals. I’ve wrote about this here quite a bit, but I have learned that it’s totally possible to be happy and healthy, no matter what is going on outside of you. Actually, there is no “outside.” Everything within and outside of you are the same. It’s all one thing…at least, to me!
  17. I don’t study Buddhism much any more on a serious level. It was making my head hurt. I prefer to be open-hearted, not up in my head! I do enjoy yoga as a philosophy for life, but I’m not religious. Yoga is not a religion. I am a yoga geek and I do read books on it, however. But, I don’t think you want to know about my spiritual beliefs, haha! Long story short, I don’t follow anything or anyone too much any more and I’ve even discarded 99% of the New Age teachings I once adhered to as a student. 
  18. Life isn’t about acquiring things, people, or status, etc. For me, I’ve discovered that the more I’ve let go, the happier and healthier I’ve become. Learning how to relax my body has helped me relax my mind. I’ve also taken this off the mat on a journey of mine to become a minimalist. I’m a work in progress, but slowly and ever so surely, I’m reducing possessions, time sucks, and yes, even people who drain me.
  19. Yoga is a tool. It’s a great tool. You might find a tool that works better for you. Although I LOVE yoga, I wouldn’t want to push it on you or others. However, since 1997, I’ve been contemplating doing my yoga teacher training and teaching. I still might become a yoga teacher. I’m working on finding my yoga tribe and where I feel I will thrive and fit in the best.
  20. The world needs peaceful folks. It’s so tempting to caught up in a few media sources’ take on the world and its events. The thing is, one more peaceful person does help the planet. If all you did was meditate and/or do yoga daily, you’d be working towards world peace. I’m no longer feeling like marching or protesting or being physically political active. I do most of my activism on my yoga mat, sending peace and love to the planet. I mean, I do some work with animals and the environment, but I’m not wanting to write about it here. It would seem like humble bragging and that is not who I am at all. 

Yoga rocks! I’ve known this though for many years. I have been enjoying the path. I chose not to share which yoga DVDs I do or which teachers I follow because then, it would seem like I’m endorsing a certain style or set of teachers. I will just say that I’m a bit eclectic. I do what I feel is needed for the day in my body, mind, spirit, and heart. That is quite a way to do yoga. I feel it’s a great way to live…follow what feels right for you in the moment. I might eventually change up things or find some teachers I want to focus with, but for now, I’m enjoying the flow. I’ll be continuing forward with my daily yoga practice, intending to do so for the rest of my life. Yep! 

Thanks for reading,

Lisa Selow




(copyrighted 2016) 
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

When Others Don't Like Who You Have Become

Over the past four years, I've sure changed! 

I'll bet you also have changed quite a bit, given that the only constant in the universe is change. 

My changes have been for the better. I'm feeling 200% or more happier and healthier. I worked rather hard for a long time to get here. 

The thing is, I'm still becoming (borrowing this from my gurus, The Brave Girls' Club). 

I do plan on changing a whole lot more!

There are habits I'm creating still. I'm working on learning tons of new things. There's art and music I wish to create. I have some more books in me. I hope my hair loss continues to heal, so I can have ombré hair! Ha! There are places I want to visit. I have a few old, creative dreams I'm resurrecting. I'm continuing to add healing foods to my diet. There's more yoga I want to learn. 

I’m sad though because I’ve recently began noticing the backlash from some who are close to me. There were passive aggressive comments. There were snarky comments. Some asked me to help them in ways I no longer can. It seemed like when I set boundaries, this challenged them. 

Ugh. It’s not easy being human. 

What I wish I could've said in those backlash type of moments is that I worked so hard to be healthy and happy again. There were days I could hardly function, due to autoimmune flare. I would say how much it would mean to me if they could at least be 10% happy for my at least one areas of my transformation.

I've been doing some deep, gut check thinking about others' reactions to the so-called new me. Here is a list of some of my insights:

  • The core of who I am is still there. I try to reassure others to remember this. However, it’s not my job to make them feel safe. 
  • My changes seem to trigger folks. I never share my life or create new habits to make others feel badly or to "brag." 
  • Relationships that are able to weather the other's transitions and changes are meant to last. If not, they must be released or kept at a healthy distance. 
  • If others are being unkind, I must look at where I'm being unkind to myself. Also, am I really on board with my changes? The outer always reflects the inner. 
  • I'm always happy to support others in making changes, but I never tell them how or what they need to change. 
  • I'm allowed to be happy and healthy, even glowing and vibrant. It’s so exciting when the things you have been doing begin to work! I like having color in my skin, small stuff like that. It’s not like I became a millionaire and you need to be jealous of me, hahaha! 
  • If others only can be around me when my life sucks, they aren't true friends. I’m borrowing from Melody Beattie and others here: “Company hates misery.” 
  • True friends celebrate with you.

It all seems simple, but when others don’t like who you have become, it’s an emotionally huge thing to process. I love people, but doing so can't be at the expense of my hard-earned happiness and health. I also used to downplay my light in the past. I can't any more. 

So, when others don’t like who you are becoming, just remember these things:
  • There are some folks usually in your life who will love you, even if you are making big changes
  • If you don’t have anyone in your life to support and love you, find a tribe who gets you, even if it’s online 
  • Use others’ snarky or passive aggressive comments or hurtful words or behavior to become even happier. Set boundaries and lovingly speak your truth, but do something for you. Each time something negative happens, I like to sip on a cup or herbal tea. I also will walk an extra lap outside (Thanks so much, haters, for making me skinnier and skinnier, hahaha!)
  • Immerse yourself in positivity. Curate your newsfeeds online and in social media, as well as your emails and blogs you subscribe to, to be uplifting and inspiring. 
  • If someone says something negative to you about a change you’ve made, take that change to another level. I mean, don’t retaliate and be mean, but have some fun. I had a loved one say they didn’t like my floppy hats, so I bought some more of them. They spark joy for me! 
  • If someone annoys you, you can use it as raw material for your creative projects. Doodle, draw, or make art to release stress. Write a song about them or a short story or something. Don’t name names, of course. (Careful, you’ll end up in my song!). 
  • You have ancestors who love you. I tap into these energies when I feel like the living folks don’t love me enough or approve of me. 
  • Life is too short not to follow your passions or to not be as healthy and happy as you can be in your life. 
  • Find a way to vent about it. You can write in a journal or talk to a trusted friend.
  • Get a coach or a therapist. Use others’ negativity to help heal the places that still feel unhealed. They know which buttons to push. Get rid of the buttons. 
  • Don’t take it personally. Try not to, even though it’s hard. 
  • If someone isn’t kind to you, it could be their issues, such as jealousy. You might be illuminating their areas of weakness, unhappiness, or disease. It’s not your job to fix them or try to covert them to your ways of living, being, and thinking.
  • Be happy anyway. No one really can destroy your happiness or health. Nope. You need to speak up, set boundaries, and take care of your precious self.

With the holidays coming, I plan on standing in my truth with love and gentleness. I do find that I like to get curious by asking others questions about the hurtful things they say to me. I will say, “What do you mean by that?” Usually, folks will rephrase things in a kinder way or realize that maybe they were off base. Don’t engage them in arguments. Don’t name call or yell. Don’t start a conflict. Just be a kind soul, a fellow traveler who wants to know their truth too. Of course, walk away any abusive situations and please take care of you!

Blessings and love,
Lisa Selow 


(copyrighted 2016) 
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What I Learned Being Off Facebook For Seven and a Half Months



As I type this here, I’m getting ready to log back into Facebook, after a seven-and-a-half-month hiatus. 
Wish me luck, hahaha! 

In the spring of 2016, I decided I didn’t want to be on Facebook during the American election. I was already tiring of some folks who posted their “opinions” and various dividing, dramatic, media links. 

So, I decided to be off Facebook from 4/01/16 to 11/15/16. (I must mention that I still used the Messenger portion of Facebook during this time. There were a couple of times I had to get onto Facebook quickly to log into other apps that I use. Oh well, I didn’t scroll in my newsfeed or go into my groups. On some occasions, some chose to send me links from Facebook to check out certain things and I didn’t look at those. I guess some don’t understand “I’m off Facebook,” which tells you how distracted our modern culture has become!)

I wanted to be under my own influence for a while, not just with the election, but in other areas of my life. I wanted to put a big dent in my decluttering project (which I did). 

I also wanted to get my focus back. I have found during other social media type of detoxes or abstaining from technology that I have always brought about a new sense of clarity, focus, and renewal in various parts of my life. 

This time around, I have to say that I’m emerging as the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. 

My return to Facebook will not be what it was before regarding how I use the site and especially not with how often I used it in the past. I took the Facebook app off my iPhone this past weekend and during my hiatus, I didn’t refer to it once. 

I know that I’m stronger than my habitual ways of being. 

I’m putting some boundaries on my Facebook use and time. I’m going to be on Facebook for a total of one hour per week on one or two days total each week. I also plan on only checking my other social media such as Twitter and Instagram, as well as my emails, texts, and voice messages once per day. 

I’m tired, actually exhausted from constantly being plugged in and feeling others’ expectations that I reply almost instantly to them. Some of it is our digital world creating the feeling we must respond to everything and everyone instantly. I don’t actually blame others, but I do need better boundaries. I no longer want to be others’ free coach or business consultant or online marketer. I’m done with those fields. 

I also can’t be in constant conversation with others. It drains me. I was taking stock and there’s a few folks I enjoy chatting with online, but even my best friend and I don’t talk every day or even every week and our interactions are mostly by email or seeing each other in person from time to time. 

One thing I began to observe about Facebook Messenger on my hiatus from the rest of the app was how much friends of mine write me when they are at work. I’d write back right away because I’m a caring person, but then, I had a revealing truth bomb-y type of thought. I realized some in my life see me as their work break or good time friend. I mean, I don’t have a traditional 9 to 5, but I still do my work during those hours. 

Yes, ugh, I need better boundaries. This is something I will be working on the next few months. I want more of my days back to create art and music on a higher level that will make me happier. 

Yep. I’m reclaiming my schedule and getting my focus back from digital distractions. The distractions not only keep me from doing my important work, but also, when I engage in them, I get quite exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

In the past, I’ve done other social media detoxes. This current one that is ending today is my longest ever and it was related specifically to Facebook. I don’t really care for those top 10 list type of blog posts, but I’m making an exception today and I’m sure my list will be longer than 10 items. In no special order, here are the things I learned being off Facebook for seven-and-a-half months:

  1. Some people care. Some people care deeply. Some people don’t care at all. 
  2. Without your hundreds of “friends,” you will still mostly talk to or see your 5-20 people you love the most. Yep.
  3. Some will say they “miss you on Facebook” when you are standing in the flesh in front of them and your head will spin. You might even feel hurt. Don’t let it. Just accept that some people find social media to be fun or a way to connect. For some of us, we find it alienating and isolating, along with frustrating, to put it mildly. 
  4. Some will say that Facebook is a great way to keep in touch. Yet, they are the same ones who only connect with you once or twice per year. Hmm. Interesting, isn’t it?
  5. I found ways to follow my favorite bands, artists, bloggers, and events that didn’t involve Facebook.
  6. If you are off Facebook, if you are important enough to people, they will find a non-Facebook way to invite you to events. 
  7. Not everyone needs an instant reply. In fact, you don’t even have to reply at all. If you aren’t family or a real friend, I don’t have to reply to you. Nope. Not everyone needs a reply. 
  8. Find your favorite place and spend time there. For me, it’s Instagram. I prefer it to Facebook and it soothes my introvert, hermit, sensitive, and creative soul. I still put limits on how much time I spend on there. 
  9. Life is way better than the media or social media newsfeeds would have you believe. There’s a whole world outside. Actually, the world and you are one in the same. I sort of laugh when folks refer to “the world outside of Facebook” or “the world out there.” It’s all one, right? I thought it was. Did I miss something? 
  10. Political discussions can be quite dividing. I saw some of that play out on Twitter and Instagram. So, I learned don’t ever read the comments. I tended to get my news from other sources such as the BBC and NPR. I felt that some on Facebook love to proliferate negativity by posting rants. I decided that I’m no longer interested in drama, even observing it. No thanks. I will send good vibes to places and people needing it from my yoga mat and do my best to embody love daily in my actions or dealings with others.
  11. Everyone is offended by everything. I’m a highly sensitive person who is liberal and yet, I’m in utter shock or amazement daily at how much folks say they’re offended online on a daily basis. What ever happened to taking responsibility for your emotions? What ever happened to taking action on causes versus just complaining rampantly online about it all? Being offended is easy, cheap, and expected. Why not actually do something to make the world a better place? I do feel small actions help the most. I myself all on my own can’t eradicate the world’s problems, but I can be peaceful, which is me being a part of the solution. 
  12. Some are lemmings. I’m sorry to be unkind by name calling, but if you really think about it, social media is a way to zone out. It’s hypnotizing. It pulls you away from what and who is important to you. It can be insular too, causing people to be comfortable and not seek out other sources of news, information, and such. I don’t care to allow others on a so-called social app to curate my experience, my reality, or my life. I’m not easily hypnotized by what’s popular. If a majority of people are doing something, such as using Facebook, it doesn’t mean that I should do it too. 
  13. I don’t need your approval. Facebook has some cool features like groups. I used to go in them to get support and approval. With my decluttering project, I wanted to see what it was like to pull on my own, inner resources. I learned that I don’t need quite as much support or approval as I thought. I’m very wise, more than I give myself credit for, yep! Regarding approval, you don’t really need it. It’s human to need some, but you don’t need as much as you think you do. 
  14. I can get healthy dopamine hits by doing other things such as learning new songs on guitar, making art, coloring, gardening. walking, cooking, and writing. Scrolling messes up my brain. I prefer to have a calmer mind. I don’t need to self-medicate by scrolling on Facebook. I can scroll on Instagram for five minutes per day and it makes me smile and laugh. Then, I’m done. I get inspiration, but it’s not an addiction. When I post on Instagram, there’s a way to turn off comments too. So, I don’t need the dopamine hit of comments approving of me or giving me compliments either.
  15. Friendship is a precious thing. I feel that at times, Facebook makes it seem trite or impersonal. Nope, that is not how I roll as a friend. I don’t care to have shallow interactions or friendships. If you want to get to know me, you are going to have to spend time with me in person. I’ve noticed how rude it is when you are with someone in person and they pick up their so-called smartphone to look at something on Facebook and part of you wants to scream, “I’m right here! I’m right here!” So, yeah, I’ve had to re-evaluate my friendships and how I spend my time. As I carve out new boundaries, please me kind, patient, understanding and compassionate with me. As I carve out new boundaries, please me kind, patient, understanding and compassionate with me. Thanks.

With love and respect,

Lisa


(copyrighted by Lisa Selow 2016)