All Things Considered...

So here’s a few words of personal checkin and transparency coming at you. These last few weeks have been a doozy. As an individual, professional, mom, wife, friend - you name a role Nicole plays, and the universe has tossed me something unexpected. So you could say that things have been a bit stressful. You could say that I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed. You could point out that I hit my 90% mark of mostly getting there, only to drop the ball on the last 10% more than a few times. But you could also say that in many ways I am doing ok. Heck, more than ok. And for the sake of anyone else going through life with a lot on their plate right now, I will share some of the things that have helped me navigate this bumpy part of my journey.

Gratitude: I know it’s so cliche and we hear it over and over again, especially this time of year as we get closer to November. But for real y’all a few weeks ago when things started piling up and my daily schedule in my planner looked more like a puzzle game than someone’s actual life, I promised myself that I would focus on being grateful for the opportunities being provided to me. So while imperfectly, I have tried really hard to find appreciation in where I am. Yes my calendar is busy - but I’m thankful for what is being provided to me and offered to me in so many ways. Yes, I’ve really had to practice prioritizing and saying no to a few things - but I’m thankful for friends and a support system that understands that and loves me even when I cancel plans or show up but am kinda a hot mess. Gratitude doesn’t make the hard stuff go away, but it does allow me to see it with a different perspective.

The Best Version of Myself, Today: When I’m not running at my ideal pace and I know I’m not really able to show up as I would ideally like to, then I try to practice self-compassion. I truly believe in the idea that no matter what is going on today, that if I focus exactly what is before me in this moment and do the best I can with what I’ve got in this moment, then I can be content with myself regardless of the outcome. For me this present moment focus, allows me to shed some of the future anxieties and worries so that I can be fully present and less distracted. This usually allows me to tap into more of what I need to be the best version of myself in the current moment. It’s never perfect, I usually cuss along the way and sometimes I just have to be honest with myself and other’s that I’m not at my A-game but I’m still going to give it all I got. I find that when I do this things actually turn out better than I expected them to in all honesty. And most importantly to me, I don’t walk away feeling disappointed or ashamed of my infallibility.

Self-Care: I have said to countless people that when the heat gets turned up in our lives, that is when we really need good self-care the most but also the time we are mostly likely to let it go. Whatever regular self-care practices you have, if you’re like me, then when your schedule gets busy or you start feeling stressed, then those things get pushed down to the bottom on the to-do list. Well I’ve learned that lesson the hard way and in an effort to not consciously repeat mistakes I’ve already learned from, I’ve tried hard to maintain taking care of myself and meeting my needs. In some ways these are small actions - go to bed, get rest, eat an actual meal, breathe. But in other ways they have had to be bigger choices like to get on my yoga mat more days than not, to take an entire day for a quick trip out of town and break from the day-to-day, to take a day off to be with my family. It’s a bit counterintuitive to take time off when my schedule is slammed and I have more things to do than I can reasonably get done, but I’ve learned that if I take the time and give myself the much needed break, I can come back to do and be the person that I actually want to be when I show up somewhere. I’ve learned that laundry, clean floors and having a completed to-do list can get in the way of me feeling calm, centered, connected, content and energized. My strategy for sticking to this and committing to a bit of self-care when I’m really busy and stressed is that I plan for it and schedule it. I literally block out down time in my calendar, schedule a night to be home early or to grab dinner with friends. It goes in the calendar and I honor myself by not allowing something else to randomly become more important than what I need.

Looking Ahead: Change is inevitable and I remind myself of that when I’m in the midst of a busy, stressful time. The saying “this too shall pass” is a great reminder that wherever I am or whatever I’m going through in this moment, won’t last forever. I sometimes literally look ahead in my calendar and see those weeks or weekends ahead with nothing already planned. I look forward to some awesome things coming up over the next few weeks that will naturally give me some time to unplug and relax. I look for the balance to my current situation and if it’s not obvious, well then I walk my own talk and start to create the balance I’m needing.

So as I continue into the next few weeks and can already see some challenges ahead, I do so with a sense of internal capacity. Some days I’m tired and overwhelmed by it all, but honestly I know deep down that I’m loved, cared for and have the capacity to handle the life I currently have in front of me. I am committed to continue to find gratitude, to stay present focused while also looking ahead and to take good care of myself. Oh and to do it all imperfectly.

With a brave heart,

N

Update on My Early Mornings!

So it’s been a few weeks since I made the decision to get back on track with an early morning rise. Here’s how it’s going and what I’ve been doing in case you’re wondering (which you’re probably not) or in case you’re working on it yourself and find something I’m doing to be helpful (which is more likely)!

So my alarm has been pretty consistently set at 5:30am during the week for about the last 3 weeks now. I’ve not bumped it back earlier because for right now, I’m having good results with a 5:30 alarm.

Most days I’m actually out of bed by 5:45-5:50. At first I was downing myself for hitting snooze or taking my time in bed, but I’ve realized that allowing myself to wake up slowly is really nice. I’m not slamming my alarm off and jumping out of bed. I lay there, stretch, snuggle up for a few more minutes if it’s feeling chilly, I let my mind start become awake before I force my physical body. I’ve come to really enjoy those few minutes and have found waking up to be it’s own process. It’s nice.

Once I’m up I’ve had a few things I’ve gotten into a pattern of doing. I actually made a list of all the things I wanted more time to do when I started this process. Stretch, meditate, start my to-do list, organize my thoughts and day ahead, journal ideas, etc. I can’t say that I hit all of those every morning. But I am pretty consistent with some combination of those. But coffee comes first.

So here’s the thing about me and coffee. I really, really like it. I mean, I could drink it all day if I didn’t end up with a horrible caffeine rage in my body. But I do really like it, so I’ve been enjoying it more. Once I get up and actually out of bed and into the kitchen, I make the coffee and drink it first for enjoyment. I know the caffeine is going to start to perk me up, but in those first few minutes it just tastes good and is warm and comforting. During that time I try to check my calendar and schedule for the day so I can begin the process of aligning with my day mentally. This has been helpful because sometimes I gone from the house for a full 12 hours an every rarely are any two days alike, which means I have to be pretty intentional about what I’m going to eat that day, what I need to take with me, what my kid might need from me, etc. So taking some time to get my mind wrapped around the day ahead has been helpful.

While I have my calendar, I’ve started writing out an intention statement for my day. I’ve not jumped into journaling full force. To be honest, that’s not something that has ever come easy or consistently for me; but, I have found success most mornings with writing out an intention statement. As I think about my day ahead and what I’m feeling mentally, emotionally and physically I create a statement that says what I intend to do or be throughout my day. They are usually pretty short and pretty simple, but I think of it as setting my tone for the day.

I’ve also found that in that extra time in the morning I’m able to get a few extra household things in - you know all the boring and dreadful stuff that takes to run a household. I remember to take something out for dinner, I sweep the floor, I water my plants. While none of those things are life changing, they help me feel less frazzled and less like I’m neglecting some of the things that I do actually find important to be done. It also makes the to-do list more manageable on days that I do have a bit more time since I’ve done a few extra things throughout the week.

Added perks, some mornings I’m getting in a morning run or walk or easy yoga practice. I’m finding myself challenged here a bit because I don’t like running alone when it’s so dark out and with the changing season it’s still pretty dark out even getting close to 7:00 so I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do about that, because I have really enjoyed that time when I’ve done it. This may look different with daytime savings in a few months, so I’m willing to be flexible with it. I think that’s kind of been key for me to be honest.

But all in all I’m liking the early morning and I’m pretty content at the moment with a 5:30am alarm. I might go earlier in the future if there’s a need, but I have no current plan to change that for the next week or two at least. It is definitely meeting the overall goal of making my mornings less busy and rushed, which results in just a better morning and start to my day.

If anyone else has been working their early morning or has tips/tricks or helpful ways that they spend their time in the morning, I’d love to hear about it!

With peace, grace and an early morning brave heart,

N

With Choice Comes Responsibility

Practice Choosing! While often there are more than just 2 choices in a situation, I challenge you to practice making intentional choice and not shying away from the responsibility of owning your choices in life!

Practice Choosing! While often there are more than just 2 choices in a situation, I challenge you to practice making intentional choice and not shying away from the responsibility of owning your choices in life!

In a previous post, I talked about conscious choice, specifically in the example of choosing to respond to a situation rather than react to it. One of the things that I think sometimes creates a barrier to making a conscious choice in those situations is the responsibility that comes with it. You see, when you react to a situation you can say things like “I’m sorry I didn’t mean that, I just over reacted.” There’s no real sense of responsibility for what took place in the moment. But if I start to practice being more aware and making a choice as to how I want to respond, then suddenly I’m responsible for that. The good, the bad and the ugly.

If I make a choice to honor my values, boundaries and desires for myself and my relationships and I respond in a way that aligns me with those things, what happens when someone doesn’t like it? What kind of discomfort am I willing to stand in? And can I also take responsibility for when I make a mistake and I react to a situation, but then want to come back and try again in a different way?

All of these questions and many more seem to plague us and get in the way of us responding in a way that we would really like to be able to. But here’s the thing to remember, there’s no single, solid right way to do this. You get to respond to situations in any way that feels right for you. You typically don’t have to justify it. You get to do it right, then at times mess it up and try again. And then you get to stand in the uncomfortable place of taking responsibility for yourself when you know it’s the right thing to do, but it isn’t well received by everyone. But you also get to take responsibility for trying again and not having to make an excuse for bad behavior because you’ve already been accountable to yourself, which honestly usually feels amazing.

My favorite part of valuing my own choices and being intentional about “owning" my choices, is that then I also get to own the results too. I get to celebrate my own accomplishments. I get to reap the benefits of feeling aligned, centered, self-affirmed and self-valued. I don’t have to get any of that from someone else. I mean it’s nice when the people in my life support those things and affirm and value what I’m doing, but we can't really rely on others for those things to start with.

So maybe there are some specific situations in your life that you have a hard time responding in a way that you would like to. Maybe you are being reactive in an effort to defend or protect yourself from something. I get it. But what would happen if you took the breath, and took that moment to choose…like really make a choice? And then you got to take responsibility for yourself, for your choice and your results. Maybe it doesn’t always end in rainbows and chocolate cupcakes, but I bet it will feel better. You should try it.

With a brave heart,

N

I'm Still Breathing...

You know the moment - the one that goes by all too quickly and leaves you regretting something you did or said. It happens so fast. This is what I refer to as a reaction. What if instead of reacting to situations, we responded. What’s the difference? Responding involves a conscious choice.

One of the ways that I have increased my own and supported others in increasing their capacity to respond instead of react is by using one of my very favorite personal resources - your breath. A long, slow, deep and intentional breath.

When we find ourselves in a situation and we are reacting, usually we are doing that because something has triggered our need to defend or protect ourselves from something. Sometimes that’s helpful - like if a ball is suddenly flying at your face, it’s good that we can react without thinking. You can avoid a broken nose. Fun fact...that actually happened to me a long time ago but my reaction sucked and my nose was broken in 8 places! But in general, that kind of reaction when it happens is a good thing. That same type of reaction though doesn’t usually work out so well when we are having a discussion with our partner, kids, boss, co-workers, family, friends…etc. If we react, even if it’s really an attempt to defend or protect ourselves, it usually damages the discussion and potentially the relationship if it keeps happening over time.

So back to the breathing thing…

What would be different if you could practice and train yourself to recognize those moments of potential reaction and before doing anything else, you took one of those long, slow, deep and intentional breaths? The kind that allows you to hit the pause button on what’s currently happening. And what if in that moment of pause, you were able to make a conscious choice about how you actually wanted to respond? What if nothing else, it kept you from acting like a jerk and saying something that you really didn’t mean or already knew wasn’t going to be helpful to you. Maybe you linger in that pause, and maybe you are able to see a better option of how to respond and you actually do that. Maybe you realize you have no idea how to respond but reacting isn’t it so you say something like, “I’m not sure how to respond to this and I’m going to have to think about it and come back to this discussion later.”

You see the breath, it’s a moment, and in that moment, it creates an opportunity. An opportunity for you to consider, to check in, to align yourself with your values and desires, to follow through with what you said you are trying to do. I mean you may still decide to respond like a jerk and while that’s not always going to be ideal, I’d rather you make that a conscious choice than feel reactive to what someone else is throwing at you. Unless it’s a ball - always react to that and do it quick!

With a brave heart (and a deep breath),

N

Self-Compassion and Grace

Why it’s important and how to give it. Or at least how to start.

I don’t know who first said this and I’m sure you might have heard this before but if you haven’t, then let me be the one to introduce you to the idea that we say things to ourselves that we would never think of saying to another person.

In other words, we tend to be the most critical, judgmental, harsh and unforgiving towards ourselves then we would ever consider being towards another. Ew!

This truth makes me sad. However, I’ve seen time and time again how an individual holds themselves up to totally unrealistic standards or expectations, while they openly forgive, allow for mistakes and make space for other people. Typically this comes from a pattern of thoughts and behaviors that have reinforced the idea that we aren’t good enough or that we don’t deserve it (whatever it may be). Whenever I see this, I start to introduce the idea of kindness. Not necessarily to others, although that’s nice too, but kindness to ourselves. Whenever I find myself being overly critical or harsh towards something I’ve done, I try to extend a bit of grace towards myself for the truth of imperfection in my own life and self-compassion for wherever I am on a given day. So what exactly is self-compassion and grace?

Self-Compassion can be defined as extending compassion towards one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure or general suffering.

Grace can be defined as courteous goodwill and can be traced back to the Latin term gratia meaning “pleasing, thankful.” There is also a spiritual component of grace in the idea that love is freely given to another without having to be earned.

I like that the definition of self-compassion includes the language perceived inadequacy or failure. That reminds me that the bar I’m setting and the belief that I’m not hitting the mark, is based on my own perception. A perception that likely isn’t matching anyone else’s either. Maybe that’s true for you too. You think you don’t dress, talk, act, clean your house, parent your kids or eat enough green vegetables to be getting it right, but if you asked anyone else they would probably give you two different answers that sound something like either “I don’t know.” or “I don’t care.”

I think it’s important to realize that most people aren’t actually paying that much attention to you to even have an opinion about what you wear, how you talk, how much dust is on your end table or what you ate for lunch. The people who do have an opinion of those things also fall into 2 main categories as well: either their opinion doesn’t actually matter all that much or it’s an opinion of a person that you love, value and respect enough to apply meaning to it. Sometimes we get stuck in the trap of thinking that everyone’s opinion matters when in reality it just doesn’t. The way I explain this is that if we can’t identify how someone else’s opinion actually impacts me, then it probably doesn’t matter. For instance, if I get a strange look from someone else in the grocery store and I perceive that look to be a judgement on my choice to run into the store in my pajamas to buy milk for the next morning, then I have to ask myself that if (and most of the time it is an if, because we are not mind readers!) this stranger does in fact think I’m a hot mess to be out in public in my pj’s, then how exactly does that impact me? I just haven't identified a meaningful reason to allow what you think might be someone else’s opinion of you to matter in these types of situations.

Sometimes though there are people in our lives that we do care about and respect, and their opinion of us does matter. Here I think it’s a bit more tricky because sometimes we care and respect people that don’t do the same for us. For example, maybe my boss has a different style of dress than I do. Does my boss’ option of me matter? Usually it does. Maybe my sibling has a different way of parenting than I do. Do I care what my sibling thinks of me as a parent? Probably. But here’s where we get caught up. We assume that if my boss dresses different then me or my sibling parents their children differently than I do, that they will value me less as a human being because of that choice. Is it not possible that we can have differing opinions and still value one another? Is it not possible that my choice to dress, parent, eat green vegetables can be different than their’s but still have merit and worth? Is it not possible that the value I hold to the other people in my life that are actually important to me can be defined outside of these things ? What if I’m a loving, supportive, safe parent who just so happens to let me kid eat dirt, while my sibling who is also a loving, supportive and safe parent uses more hand sanitizer than a general surgeon? What if our opinion of one another and thus of ourselves can be defined by who we are and not all of the choices we make?

But sometimes people argue that the choices we make define who we are. I agree with that in some ways. I agree that my intention to act loving towards others and also be self-loving matters and defines a part of who I am. I agree that my choice to be compassionate towards others and also myself defines a part of who I am. I agree that the decisions I make to give grace to others in all of their mess, while I also am willing to extend grace to myself for all of my mess does in fact define a part of who I am. I disagree that how many vegetables I ate last night, what time I let my kid go to bed, the last time I dusted by bookshelf or my repulsion over wearing high heels to work says a damn thing about who I am as a person. None of those things have any impact on my value or my worth. Just like we have to decide whose opinion matters to us, we have to identify what choices and behaviors matter to us. Which one’s define who we are and which one’s define our worth and value. Which ones are just behaviors that if I mess up and don’t like, that I don’t have to repeat. Those are just things. Those are just high heels sitting in my closet that I will almost never wear.

So before we start practicing self-compassion and grace, I think it’s important to be clear with what we are judging ourselves against. What bar are we actually measuring ourselves with? And whose bar is it anyway? Who are we allowing to set the bar? And are we allowing ourselves to have any say so in this bar? Can anyone tell me where this actual “bar” is so I can find it and replace it with my own?

If any of this has resonated with you, I’d love to hear. Drop me a message or shoot me an email. Stay tuned for more ideas, thoughts and suggestions about practicing self-compassion and grace in real life situations too!

With peace, lots of grace and brave hearts,

N

Recovery in Connection

Why do people recover better when in connection with others?

There is a lot of evidence that people heal faster and more fully when they have adequate support; this is true in all aspects, whether it be recovery from a medical or physical challenge, a traumatic experience, substance use, or a mental health struggle, people tend to have better short and long-term outcomes when they are connected to others. When people have a network to rely on when they are going through a period of recovery, there is a shared experience and a sense of not being alone.

Biologically we are built to be social creatures; from the human experience, we thrive when we are connected with others. Our brains, bodies and minds are primarily centered around us finding other people in which we can feel safe, supported and connected, so it’s no accident that if we are attempting to overcome a challenge or hardship of any kind that we would be better suited to not go at it alone. Yet, connecting with other people is also inherently risky. It requires us to be vulnerable and to put ourselves out there, which means we could be rejected. So from that perspective, it also makes sense that when people aren’t at their best, that they might tend to isolate.

In my experience working in substance use treatment, I have seen time and time again how people have found themselves feeling and physically being very alone. The results of addiction and chronic substance use is really hard on relationships and often individuals who are struggling with substance use, have found their relationships more negatively impacted the longer the use continues. At the point of early recovery however, there is this really difficult transition period of needing and wanting support, but having a hard time accessing it. But reaching the full potential of a life in recovery, can’t be done all by oneself. The need for compassion, grace, support, empathy and resources is significant. The act of receiving compassion, grace, support, empathy and resources can be terrifying though. Part of my job and potentially anyone else’s that is in contact with an individual during treatment or in early recovery, is to help bridge that gap. To safely reach out, offer compassion, a desire to understand and be non-judgmental can make a huge difference.

So if you have found yourself at some point not being in your A-game and really struggling to overcome the challenges presented before you and as a result of that, started to isolate yourself from others, I get why you would do that. However, the power of connecting with other people especially during those times, could be a powerful catalyst to change.

If you or someone you know is struggling with feeling isolated or working through recovery, I encourage you to reach out for help and support. If you are struggling with issues of receiving help and support, know that you are worth it, no matter what has happened in your life. If you are supporting someone in recovery, know that you don’t have to solve any of their problems, but the support you can offer may allow them to tap into their own internal resources and begin to solve their own problems. If you aren’t sure the best way to support someone, for fear of enabling unsafe behaviors, know that there is a way.

Life is hard. It’s hard because we’re human. Don’t do it alone.

With a brave heart,

N

Never Perfect, but Always Present.

I came upon that statement a while back and immediately was drawn to it. No shocker there probably. I revel in the imperfections, so anything that honors a sense of not having to be perfect catches my attention. I honestly don’t know where I saw it or heard it, but I found it the other day in a list that I keep on my phone of amazing things I come across. I love that list.

Those blessed human moments of imperfection can be both freeing and terrifying to be fair. My tendency is to be perfect. Or at least to present myself to others that way. You see, if others were to really see all my imperfections then they might not like me - or that’s what I used to believe. Now, I find that those imperfections are just a part of me. And honestly more authentically me than any part that I was working really hard to be perfect at. I also was really confused by what it meant to be good at something and the ability to still make mistakes. I didn’t realize that those two things could co-exist. I didn’t realize that I could kick ass at something and still mess it up from time to time. These days, man I rock out and simultaneously mess it up all of the time…really, I do it a lot!! I defy perfection at this point. Now that doesn’t mean I like to go around a hot mess, stringing my mess behind me like a parade of sorts. But it does mean that I let myself off the hook when I get something wrong, forget something or don’t have the energy to do something as I would like to. It means I extend grace to myself and I have learned to invite in more of what I need during those times, which is usually some sort of support, some down time and some self-compassion.

But the always present part, well that’s also really hard. And for the record it says “always present” which to mean says I can never not be present, so if it were my quote or statement I would say mostly present. Being present is hard because there are so many damn distractions in our lives. One of the big ones can be the drive towards perfection because nothing takes us outside of our true selves, like the acts of perfection do. Being present means I have to slow down and connect with myself, even in the moments I don’t really like myself. I means that I have to see what my needs are but also value them enough to have them met. Sometimes I’ve seen people (including myself) get stuck because they know what they need, but they value other people’s needs over there own. That there my friends is a discussion on boundaries and personal worth, and we will have to save that for another time though. Being present also means slowing down enough to see the people in front of me. To stop going through the motions or the to-do list long enough to sit, hear, see and respond to what someone else is presenting in front of me. Which let’s be honest, I don’t always like the person in front of me either. Or maybe I do like them but I don’t like where they are in this moment so would rather not be present for that part. Being present for me takes intentional choice and it comes with responsibility. If I intentionally choose to be present with myself and someone else, then I have to respond to what’s in front of me. I can’t ignore it or pretend I wasn’t aware that it was there. It takes times and it takes me prioritizing humanity over the to-do list.

So I absolutely am never perfect. I am fallible and sometimes messy. Always present? Well I strive to be mostly present. I know sometimes I miss the boat or end up on the wrong boat going in the wrong direction. And when I find myself in that position, I grab one of those ugly orange life preservers and I jump in the water. I change course, dry off and re-engage to the best of my ability.

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know what voices of perfection are speaking to you. I don’t know if you are present in your own life and in the lives of those you love. But I guarantee there is a life preserver just waiting for you to grab it. I hope you do it.

Early Riser...Work in Progress

As the summer winds down and the regular back-to-school schedule solidifies, I realized I was needing some additional time for myself in the mornings. So the task of becoming an early riser starts again.

It’s not the first time I’ve practiced the art of regularly waking up early. I’ve done it for periods of time, with pretty consistent success, but the summer schedule allowed me to sleep in a bit so I’ve gotten later in my natural wake up time. What I find is that I need more time in the morning to be able to start my day off as I would really like to - calm, centered, focused, energized and ready (emotionally and physically) for the day ahead. Here’s how that process started…

  1. I came to the realization that my mornings where not really going the way I prefer. I was finding myself rushed, feeling a lot of to-do items were on my plate, but not really being sure what they were or what I needed to tackle first. I was prepping for the day ahead, but not in an intentional way. I was running out the door and into my day, without a sense of where I was headed.

  2. I recognized one of my most cherished beliefs wasn’t being carried out in my own life. Create what you want more of in your own life. I was wanting more down time, a way to start my day calm, organized in my thoughts and focused on some intentional goals. I recognized my need and then my ability to create that by choice.

  3. I journaled what I was seeking more of. I got specific with what an ideal morning would look like for myself. In reality I already know that most days won’t look ideal, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t get closer to it than where I currently am. So I thought specific and ideal…it set the stage for what I was wanting to create.

  4. I identified small, but meaningful, actions steps that I could immediately start taking that would get me a little closer to that ideal morning. I prioritized a few things that would help me make shifts incrementally rather than all at once. I committed to the overall process of creating more of what I wanted. This is key! I didn’t commit to having an ideal morning the very next day or attach my success to a specific outcome right away. I committed to the process. The many choices I could make over a period of time that would all eventually lead to creating what I was seeking. As humans a lot of time we commit to an outcome or to an overarching goal and we forget about the process it will take to get there.

So where am I now? I’m waking up earlier and I’ve started a consistent ritual of how I start my day off. Will the time I wake up change. Yep, it sure will. I’ve set the goal of moving my alarm clock back early by ten minutes until I reach my general target time. Will I then wake up at that time every single day? Nope. I will allow myself to be flexible according to my needs. Will my ritual change? Yep, it already has. As my morning routine changes, I am finding that the order or amount of time I need to do things is shifting. So while I am working to be consistent in aiming for that ideal, I recognize the value of adjusting and tweaking along the way. Will I follow my ritual every morning even when I get it worked out? Nope. I will practice listening to my needs on any given day and make the adjustments I need to honor or support myself in the way needed. So where is the consistency then? It’s in my commitment to myself to listen, value and respond to my own needs the will increase the amount of calm, focused, centered energy that I invite into my life.

Here’s to all the other early risers out there! I hope you catch tomorrow’s sunrise.

What are you committing to yourself today? I’d love to know!

Nicole's Favorite (Mostly Free) Things!

Here is a list of some of my favorite, and mostly free resources that I love to share with people. If you utilize any of them, I’d love to hear if you found them helpful! And as I come across new things that I want to share, I will update this post so resources are easy to find.

  • Yoga with Adriene: You can find her online or my favorite way to connect with her is through her YouTube page. I initially found Adriene after several months of kinda intense training and she was offering a 30-day yoga challenge. I figured it would be a great way to come down from my training and tend to my physical needs in a different way. Adriene is funny, competent, human and shares yoga in a way that is understandable and relatable. To me she is a perfect combination of integrity and humanity in practicing yoga. https://yogawithadriene.com

  • Brene Brown: ok, this is one of those mostly free resources. There are many ways to get to know the work of Brene Brown. She has written several books, she has several different videos and TedTalks available online and a pretty freaking fabulous Netflix special called The Call to Courage. Brene touches on the human experiences of shame, vulnerability, risk taking, and being a better partner, parent, leader and human. She asks us to show up and to have the audacity of showing up as ourselves - flaws and all! So I say mostly free because you can find her books in libraries and she has an amazing website as well as many videos out there of her talking about her work. Obviously if you want the books for yourself (which you will!) or don’t already have Netflix you would have to pay for that, but for the content you get out of those things, I believe it’s well worth the money. https://brenebrown.com

  • Breath Work: here’s the deal and the primary reason I teach folks the power of their own breath. It is hands down the only resource that you can guarantee to have access to at all times no matter where you are. You can literally choose to become more aware and to link up with your breath for a specific purpose at any time. Walking into a serious meeting - take a breath. About to have that hard conversation - take a breath. Is your kid throwing a tantrum and you feel like you’re about to as well - take a breath. Nervous about walking into a new experience for the first time - take a breath. You get the point. Now there are a lot of ways to practice breathing and some cool biology behind why it works, but for now what I would encourage you to do is to practice deep breaths that fill you all the way up to the point that your belly expands. Those suckers are called belly breaths and just a few of them can help start shifting things in a subtle but powerful way.

  • Podcasts: I think podcasts in general can be a great resource, because it’s kinda like an intents library of options. Depending on your mood and what you’re looking for, you can search and locate inspiration, motivation, ideas, skills and information. Here’s a list of one’s I loved the most and listened to more than once.

    • Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations: Marianne Williamson: The Spiritual Purpose of Relationships.

    • Yoga Talk Podcast #63: The Yoga of Moderation with Bryan Kest

    • Conversations from the Heart with Yoga Girl: How to Balance Struggle and Ease

  • YouTube: YouTube is another way that you can gain access to a whole lot of information and inspiration. Truth be told there are also a lot of cat videos which just provide silly joy; in my book that’s never a bad thing. Here are some of my favorite videos found on YouTube that I believe share powerful and meaningful messages.

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwRzjFQa_Og - The Magic of Not Giving a F*** by Sarah Knight: This is a great 12 minute video that focuses on your capacity to set boundaries and limits with what you give your time, energy, money and resources to. Be mindful of who you play this around due to language. ;)

    • https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw - Brene Brown on Empathy: This is a short cartoon based clip that talks about the qualities of empathy and how to communicate it to others. This can offer huge insight into how you express empathy in your relationships in a way that can be helpful.

    • https://youtu.be/khkJkR-ipfw - We don’t “move on” from grief. We move forward with it. Nora McInerny: This is a powerful discussion of how grief and loss becomes a part of us that we don’t ever move on from but impacts us as we move forward. Nora McInerny provides a humorous and compassionate way of accepting loss of significant people in your life.

Finding vs Creating - A Balancing Act

Have you ever said this or some version of this? “I just want to find a better balance in my life.” Maybe you’re looking for a balance between your work and home life? Maybe you’re looking for a balance in your diet or exercise habits? Maybe you’re searching for that ideal balance of being a part of your family, while also honoring your own individual needs? I think this is common. In fact, I think most people are searching for some sort of better balance in their lives overall.

Here’s one of the issues I have with this “finding a better balance” thing though - where in the hell are you expecting to come across this thing called balance? Do you expect you might just bump into it one day and know it when you see it? Do you think it’s hiding under your bed and will just become glaringly obvious to you when you finally dig it out from under there? Do you think it’s just lying on some street corner waiting for you to walk by and pick it up?

Why do we feel that we have to be passive in finding a balance? I believe that we don’t - in fact if a balance is what we believe we need more of in our life, then what would happen if we created it? What if we looked at those parts of our life that seem out of wack and did something about it? What if you took control and made a change? I know it’s a simple concept but like so many other things in life, simple does not equal easy. But it doesn’t make it impossible either.

For example, at one time in my life I was spending a lot of time on the road going between different locations that I was working out of. I was often rushing out of one place and to the next, always feeling late and in a hurry and all the while trying to screen emails or last minute reminders via my phone on the way. It felt like a rollercoaster, which I hate by the way. At that time I couldn’t just completely change that I was working in several locations, but I could do something about this frantic, overwhelming drive from one place to the other. So I started leaving my cell phone in the back seat. I stopped trying to multitask as red lights. I drove in silence; sometimes to music. I paid attention to the day, the weather, the clouds in the sky during my drive. And you know what, it made a huge difference. It didn’t change everything about my day, but it did allow me to arrive at the next place without feeling dizzy, confused and overwhelmed as to what I was walking into. Most importantly, it was something in my control and it helped.

I’m wondering in your own life right now if there’s a place that you are feeling overwhelmed or that things are slightly out of balance for you. If so, I’m wondering what you can do about it. What small but meaningful action can you take, that is completely within your control, that can help you feel more like you want to be feeling? Where can you feel empowered enough to make some tiny adjustment to how you go about your day?

Here’s my challenge to you. What small action can you commit to today, that moves you closer in the direction of the life you want to be living? I’d love to hear about it!