Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bae's great, but give me Jesus

I just had the most refreshing time at my church’s women’s conference this weekend. Normally, I’m a little iffy about faith-based women’s events because so often they promote traditional roles that don’t really suit me. They can also unintentionally make singles feel like second class citizens. This weekend wasn’t about that though. It was just women of all backgrounds coming together to recharge and renew.

What I loved most was the subtle message I kept hearing from the married women. It didn’t just come from the platform speakers either. It came from the women I chatted with casually during the breaks. The message was yeah, they loved their husbands and families, but nothing replaced quality time with God.

I found this to be a pleasant surprise. So often we’re conditioned to think that marriage is the finish line. It’s a huge build up with a lot of expectations and if it delays or doesn’t happen, women are left feeling deficient. And if you do cross the finish, often you're thinking to yourself, this is it? That's why I’m so grateful for the married women who have the courage to burst that bubble for singles every chance they get. Yes, it’s a blessing, blah, blah, blah. But, married women still feel lonely, still feel discouraged, still daydream about what might be, and still hunger for a love that goes beyond the physical. We all do.

As I reflect today and get ready to post my love-themed blogs for the month of February, I can’t help but meditate on the beauty and depth of the human heart…how the layers of our soul are vast and unsearchable…how our longings surpass what any other being can provide. It's okay because no other human was designed to completely satisfy us. Therefore, keep dreaming, hoping, and evolving, no matter your state in life. My guess is if you asked your partnered friends if it’s really as amazing as it seems, they’d share their secret too: I mean, yeah, bae’s great and all, but give me Jesus.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Every day non-attachment

Crap. This again. I’ve felt this before, many, many times. It’s an uncomfortable sensation with which I’m all too familiar. It feels like a bowl of hurt mixed with a swirl of anxiety topped off with disappointment- a sad sundae indeed. I feel it every time things don’t go my way. To be more specific, I feel it when I’m looking for one outcome and get another. When the feelings arise, I sigh to myself, a little frustrated for having let it happen again. Then, I remind myself to resume my practice, the practice of non-attachment.

Non-attachment is an Eastern term. I don't practice Buddhism, but the basic idea of it rings true for me. The concept of non-attachment comes from the idea that we create suffering for ourselves when we attach to people, things, results, or anything that’s temporal. Life is transient and we don’t have control over many things. When we think we do or we fixate on things going a certain way, then inevitably we feel frustrated, at best, crushed, at worst. That type of pain is needless and we can minimize it by understanding some things about attachment.

Ways we attach

Attachment is common and insidious. We attach when we make plans with friends. We attach when we have certain aspirations for our lives or even the lives of others. We attach when we keep texts, voicemails, and pictures from people. We attach when we double, triple, and quadruple check our phones to see if certain people liked our posts yet or if they appeared to get our messages. We attach when we aren’t just looking for a reply, but we want them to reply a certain way. Is this sounding familiar to anyone or am I alone in being Team Neurotic at times? If this is you, then you’ve undoubtedly experienced the sad sundae as well. Exhausting right, not to mention just really unpleasant. The only remedy for alleviating the pain is to detach.

Ways we detach

Detachment isn’t about becoming aloof or uncaring. You still might care deeply. You just forfeit your expectations. Detachment, then, might look like deleting messages rather than holding onto them. Whether they are positive or negative, you are ruminating on what’s already passed and can no longer be. Letting go allows you to be free. Another example is if you send a warm message to someone and they don’t reply or not the way you want. Let that be okay. Did you reach out for the response or simply to show love? Detachment might also be granting people room to be who they are. It can be hard to see people make certain choices. But love grants others that freedom; it doesn’t control or force. Control only creates suffering for you.

Think about this the next time you start to feel hurt or mad about something. Ask yourself if it’s possible you attached to a certain outcome and in doing so, created your own pain. It’s uncomfortable to admit, but when these feelings arise, they offer a gentle reminder that there’s more practice to be done. That’s a good thing.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why I love vision board parties

Last year I started a lot of new traditions, one of them being hosting a vision board party. Over the weekend, I had another one and it was just as awesome as the first. If you are new to vision boards, they are basically just collages of what you hope to see in the new year. I mean, I suppose you don’t have to do them in the new year, but I do since folks are already in a goal setting mindset. There’s lots to love about this kind of gathering but I’ll share some of the highlights.

You get to see progress

Like I said, if this becomes an annual ritual for you too then you get to see what materialized in your
life. Last year, my focus was all about motivating others to better health, being an entrepreneur and gaining clients. Amazingly, each one of those things happened. Even if the vision board wasn’t in the forefront of my mind every day, simply setting certain intentions helped me focus my energy in those areas. Pretty cool.

You get to be creative

Another great thing about vision board parties is that you get to be creative- like scissors and glue creative. How many of us do that as adults? But anyone who witnessed the year of the adult coloring book phenomenon knows the therapeutic nature of crafts. It’s not only a fun throwback to childhood; it’s also a powerful way to construct the life you want to live.

You get to eat

Vision board parties are also a great excuse to eat. In fact, have you noticed how anytime you include snacks in something it becomes a party? Even the simple ritual of breaking bread, helps us feel strongly connected to one another.

You get to connect

Which leads me to the best part of all…vision board parties are about connection. For one, how often do people really hang out in each other’s homes anymore? We barely see our immediate families, more less host friends in our homes. Not only that, but vision board parties also invite you to share deeply about your dreams for the new year. Conversations like that are rare in casual, how-are-you texts with people.

Are you sold yet? I’m telling you; it’s really amazing. You can definitely do a vision board on your own, but parties are so much better. Grab some friends. Who cares if it’s not right at the beginning of the new year? Host a party just for the fun of it and see how pleasantly surprised you are when your visions actually start to manifest.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

4 Reasons I Quit the Gym this New Year

As we kick of a new year and people rush to gyms by the droves, I’m happy to say I’m avoiding the crowds because I cancelled my membership last month. That might seem surprising. After all, I’m a fitness professional. But there are several reasons it was the best decision for me and I thought I’d share in case you’re on the fence.

Let’s face it. Health clubs and studios cost money- anywhere from $10-$100 per month for individuals. If you go a few times a week, maybe it’s worth it. But if you don’t, you might find a better way to spend your coins. Before you commit to a gym, ask yourself if you have access to free options- fitness centers through your employer or perhaps your living community, for instance. You can get it in and save money.

A second deciding factor for me was how disconnected I felt at my gym. I didn’t realize how much I valued community. When I started my fitness journey several years ago, I didn’t mind going alone. But once I became a regular at the campus recreation center I joined, it kind of became like Cheers. You know…where everybody knows your name. I found that I missed that when I didn’t have it anymore at my large commercial gym. Anonymity is fine for some. But for me, I want to feel like I’m part of something.

Another unexpected evolution I noticed that I didn’t really care for was getting into the culture of comparison. Thanks to social media it’s common place to post hardcore workouts of yourself all in the name of inspiring others. What ends up happening though is I started to feel inadequate. If I can’t do pullups, squat or bench press my body weight, do handstands, etc. then I must not be an athlete. That’s not true, of course. But it started to feel true. I had lost a healthy perspective and the best way to get it back was to unplug from the culture of comparison.

A final factor for me quitting the gym was the lack of motivation I started to feel. Exercise was a chore. It was lonely because I didn’t have a workout partner. It was boring because I kept doing the same things over and over. Trainer or not, I’m not ashamed to say, I can’t think of anything duller than doing bicep curls. Therefore, I needed to get creative again and recapture the joy of movement. I found that I was way more motivated when I went to the park or hit the trail. I was even more consistent when just moving around my living room and finding new ways to grow in strength with or without equipment. For me, it was a no brainer. Quit the gym and do my own thing.

Am I done with gyms forever? No, probably not. But for now, I feel good about being able to just relax and enjoy movement again. I don’t have to feel guilty or obligated to go when I don’t want to, or feel like I’m wasting money. I can refocus on the reasons I move in the first place. It’s pretty freeing. I’m not knocking gyms. Some are really great. If you’re looking for one, you can still consider these areas as you decide. What do you value most? What will help you reach your goals? For me though, I decided this new year I needed to break away from the gym and just move.