Breathing is one of those things we all do, yet we rarely think about it; when a system like the respiratory works without us having to think about it or make it happen, it’s called “involuntary.” The respiratory system has the unique ability to work all on its own without our help, unlike the muscular system, which works voluntarily.
This month is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s a perfect time to tune in and tap into how powerful our breath actually is.
When we breathe, we get this precious gift called life. We can survive 21 days without food, seven days without water but can only go one to three minutes without oxygen. And at the 60-second mark, brain cells are already dying. Yet after 20 years of teaching yoga to others, there is one thing I have come to find, many do not like to breathe. I would often notice few would appreciate the art of breathing practices (pranayama) in yoga. You could see people start to fidget, become distracted, and even get annoyed at the idea that they weren’t “doing anything” during their yoga class. Yet without the ability to breathe, nothing on the yoga mat would even be possible.
Breathing is a tool. Those that learn to harness the device and tap into its vast abilities to improve, help and even heal the body get to reap the benefits of increased vitality, health, and happiness. But time and time again, I have observed others choose pills, alcohol, and even violence to manage what we all call stress or our emotions rather than tap into this tool we are all born with and have access to us at any given time.
Stress can alter just about any system in the body if we allow it to.
Raise our blood pressure
Increase our heart rate
Increase our body temperature
Leave us in physical pain
Can decrease our immune system
Give us stomach discomfort
Make it difficult to sleep
Can affect your libido
Tense your muscles
Cause weight gain
Burden your nervous system
Leave shallow breathing
When is the last time you felt the effects of any of the above and thought you should practice deep breathing?
When my oldest son was small, and he’d get stressed out, the first thing I would have him do is deep breathing. Three deep breaths, I’d say, and we’d do them together. He’s now nearly a teenager, and I have observed him repeatedly defaulting to deep breathing when he is stressed, angry, frustrated, or can’t sleep. He automatically uses this incredible tool we all walk around with every day but rarely tap use voluntarily.
The average American breathes with less than 18% of their lung capacity. That’s what I like to call clavicle breathing. It’s no wonder we are a stressed-out, upset, unhealthy out of touch society. I say these are the very things I have felt before yoga and learning how to tap into my breathing. And the same things I think when I’m not in my body, using my breathing, and feeling grounded in my skin.
How do we breathe?
The average person takes about ten breaths per minute; that’s an average of 22,000-24,000 breaths per day. That’s a lot of breathing. And when we breathe, we inhale necessary oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide and toxins that our body wants to remove. When we breathe, our lungs expand and take in air, and our diaphragm lowers and expands as well, taking in oxygen to then be distributed out to the millions of cells throughout our body that need that fresh oxygen to live.
Dr. James Hoyt, a pulmonologist, says, “Our respiratory muscles don’t have the luxury of being out of shape.” Yet how many people can say with certainty that they use them, work them, build them like their bicep regularly? There is a saying, “use it or lose it,” and it fits here with our breathing.
A recent study in the Journal of Neurophysiology may support this, revealing that several brain regions linked to emotion, attention, and body awareness are activated when we pay attention to our breath.
And, also nearly every system in the body is connected to our respiratory system or breathing.
Our metabolism increases when we practice deep breathing.
Our autonomic nervous system regulates when we deep breathe.
Our digestion can settle and improve when deep breathing.
Our muscles relax and get total oxygen, helping them not to cramp.
Our lymphatic systems become stimulated, hand and hand, with our immune system, both stimulated when we breathe.
Our body is fully oxygenated when we deep breathe.
And one of our deep breathing’s most impressive features is that it stimulates our vegas nerve.
What is the vagus nerve?
The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves, extending from the brainstem to the abdomen through multiple organs, including the heart, esophagus, and lungs. It controls the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which contains your relaxation response. Most people never breathe deep enough to stimulate this impressive nerve. We need the vagus nerve to be alive and working because the vagus nerve controls your mood, heart rate, digestion, and immune response. Stimulating your vagus nerve can help to regulate many functions in your body.
Vagus nerve stimulation has been linked to treating epilepsy, improving digestive conditions, reducing inflammation, and managing anxiety disorders. The journal Frontiers in Neuroscience reported in 2018 that the poor function of the vagus nerve could lead to mood and anxiety disorders. But most importantly, when you stimulate the vagus nerve, you can reduce anxiety, stress, and mood disorders. All of this can happen when you learn to breathe more deeply and more often.
WAKE UP, PEOPLE! BREATHING IS FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Where does your breathing fall?
Clavicle Breathers: Those that breathe only into the upper chest, throat, and shoulders. These breathers often have lifted shoulders and a tense neck.
Chest Breathers: Those that breathe into the center of the chest.
Abdominal Breathers:Those that breathe deep into the belly and feel their lungs and abdomen expand freely.
We have forgotten our unique ability to help and heal ourselves. When you were a baby, no one had to tell you how to breathe, yet there you were, breathing so deeply that your entire torso was expanding and contracting every breath you took. I have listened and watched my children as infants, and now adolescents get upset and even cry only to default to their breathing to calm them down. It’s in you; you have done it; you have just forgotten how to do it.
Deep Abdominal Breathing Technique:
Sitting tall or lying down comfortably, place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart/chest.
Exhale completely through your mouth and hear your breath move out of your body.
Inhale through your nose and move your breath deeply into your lower hand (belly) and feel it expand. Continue to move your breath up to notice your upper hand (chest) rise.
Exhale slowly move the air out, feeling your belly collapse and your chest lower (in any order).
Soften your jaw and relax your body, focus on fully emptying your belly when you exhale and fully expanding when you inhale.
Work yourself up towards a count of four counts on the inhale and eight on the exhale.
Repeat this for two to five minutes.
Anytime your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing.
Allow yourself to hear your breath each time you inhale and exhale.
Continue this practice daily in the morning to wake up, when you are feeling stressed, waiting in traffic (minus the hands-on your body), or before you go to sleep to help you relax.
You have tools to help you breathe, relax, fall asleep. The real question is, are you using them?
Deep Abdominal Breathing Benefits:
Various deep abdominal breathing forms have been linked to cardiovascular benefits, including increased blood flow and improved blood pressure. Deep breathing is also a helpful tool for relaxation and sleep. Taking deep breaths can also help you manage stress and improve cognitive function like brain fog and lack of focus and concentration.
If every tool you are reaching for is outside of yourself, let me ask you, have you tried the tools you were born with? The tools you were given and are the very tools that make this life possible? The tool I am talking about is your breathing.
For one week, practice deep abdominal breathing at least one time a day. Work to practice it at the same time each day. Set the alarm on your phone or in your calendar and make it a priority. All too often, we say something doesn’t work or help, and we have never really tried it, let alone given it the attention required to see results.
After seven days, come back and let us know how you did. What changed, what you noticed or found.
In an age of social pressures to be better, go bigger, and taking a little time off or practicing self-care can be looked at as weak, wasting time, or not doing enough. All of those practices listed will give you more time, more ideas, more income, more passion, and more purpose.
For years I fell victim to the assumption that I had to keep going, that not going fast and hard was a sign of weakness, and even though I taught self-care, it was hard for me to practice it myself. I was burning the midnight oil 24/7, and it came at a cost. I was burnt out and disconnected from the very people that mean the most to me- my kids.
As an addict in recovery, I know first hand the need to practice self-care and put your health first. But owning your own business is not easy. It’s in my DNA to never settle, and since I was young, I knew that I am meant for more than what was served to me in school. It feels a bit uncomfortable to say, but I knew where I was going; I just had no idea how I would get there. And in the last several years, it has become apparent that no dream will be achieved without you.
It’s an exchange; when you give yourself time, you get more time.
When you practice self-care, you can better care for your business and the people in it.
When you take a time out, the time you step back in will be fresh, full of energy, and ready to achieve greatness.
I believe that it is about the little things, the small moments throughout the day that add up to your sanity by day’s end. Big empty promises will drive you nuts. And (at least for me) the idea of a 2 hour Morning Routine is crazy talk when I sleep, my kids getting off to school, and coffee are among my morning must-haves. I may not have 2 hours, wait, let me rephrase that, I‘m not willing to give up 2 hours of sleep to spend two hours doing something that takes me 5 minutes to do each morning. I”m practical, real, and motivated to do what it takes. I’m not as willing to spend more time on things than is necessary to get the same results.
Self-care is essential, but it shouldn’t take you hours a day, and it can be as simple as 1 minute here, three minutes there, five minutes over here throughout the day, every day. Because when your self-care routine starts stressing you out, it needs to go out.
Here are ten things I do every day to practice self-care, keep my body and mind healthy and my business blossom.
Drink a full glass of water each morning. Before you even think about it, chug it down. Each morning I wake up and reach over for a big 10-20 ounce glass of water and down it before I can even think about what my day will be like. I wake up, sit up and put my feet on the ground and drink it all down. Starting your day hydrated will only lead you to more hydration. Did you know that dehydration is a symptom of depression? Doing this every morning helps me in that no matter what happens, I at least drank 20 ounces of water. And that’s a good thing.
Hug a real human every day. This global situation has got us all social-distancing like the plague, and the trade-off is real human connection. Did you know that just 10 seconds of hugging someone can boost serotonin in the brain? When is the last time you hugged someone? Like full squeeze mode? I make it a point to hug each of my kids every day and hug my husband. That connection has been vital to our health on all levels. Who can you hug today?
Massage your feet.Every day I use my acupressure ball and roll out the bottoms of my feet. It May sound a bit odd, but our feet our connection to the earth. And we all wear shoes way too much, disconnecting us from what grounds us, and well, when your feet hurt, it can just about ruin your day. I keep my mini acupressure ball underarm my desk, and I travel with it wherever I go. A quick rub on my feet, and it’s incredible how much better I feel. And then after don’t forget to use some natural pain relief to leave you feeling great!
Take a deep breath. I’ve had a panic attack more than once and know how scary that can be. Many people in todays world are walking around stressed out, in a panic, and having an out of body experience, but not in the way you think. Breathing can help bring us back into our bodies and help us get out of our head and into the moment. Deep breathing is simple. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest and take a deep breath in and feel your belly expand, and your chest rise. Briefly pause after your inhale and then exhale and feel your stomach deflate and chest collapse down. Work to get all the air out and repeat this at least two more times. Breathing not only brings more oxygen to your body and brain but also shifts your mind off whatever is stressing you out and gives you space to regroup and refocus.
Get outside every day. It’s winter and currently -1 outside. But I make it a point to step out for a few minutes to feel the fresh air and sun (or clouds, rain, or snow). There is a feeling of being alive that happens when I do this and has become a real game-changer when I begin to feel the heaviness of the midwest winters weighing on me. That timeout outside also helps me shift my focus when I’m having a stressful day back to nature and back to feeling alive.
Get up and get moving. I’m not going to tell you to exercise, but you do need to carry every day. Can you find one, two, or three pockets of time to get up and stretch, walk up and down your stairs a few extra times, squat in the bathroom, twist in your driver’s seat or chair? This all adds up. Instead of empty exercise promises, how about you focus on adding more moving into your everyday life. Then if you happen to make it to the treadmill, gym, or yoga mat (join our online mindfulness and yoga studio for just $9.99 a month!)- it’s a bonus!
Tell yourself something positive about your efforts. Every day I self-talk (Read 12 Nuggets of Advice That Have Changed My Life Blog). For years a negative internal dialogue took me down a path I wish on no one. And I discovered that your biggest enemy and critic is often sitting right between your two ears. Talk positively to yourself; what are you doing well? What has gone right? Look how far you have come. For some, this dialogue may not come naturally, but it’s one conversation you might want to have anyways. I recognized a few years back that I’d get so far, and then I was the one sabotaging my efforts because I didn’t believe I deserved success. Kicking that habit was the best thing I ever did.
Visualize your success before you go to bed. Your subconscious replays the last things you think about, read about, and watch while you sleep. Every night before I go to bed, I visualize my success. If I can’t get thoughts out of my head that is negative or stressful or tells me that I”m not successful, I pop on my headphones and listen to meditation to shift my thoughts and mind and drift off to sleep. This has been a game-changer for me and one that has borne much fruit. Plus, it requires little to no effort on your part but can be the cherry on top.
Eat good food. You’re foggy, and you’re tired, you’re irritable. Did you ever consider how you feel might be because you aren’t feeding your body good food? Food is fuel, and if you’d ever even considered putting questionable, cheap fuel into your car because you know the consequences would be expensive and could leave you carless, why do that to your body. If you are still reaching for quick fixes to change your body, may I suggest an apple? A salad. A something that didn’t come out of a box. I”m not trying to be rude, but somewhat real. You are a living being, so you need to eat living food. Start small, how about that apple? Your body craves junk food because it is searching for real nutrition, and you aren’t feeding it any. An apple a day really can do more than just keep the doctor away.
Offer gratitude.Every day I find ways to show appreciation. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your stuff, and I believe you get what you give. You don’t have to give money if money is tight. You can give your time, your love, your compassion, your support. I try to remember that everyone is fighting their own battle and has their stuff going on and if I can spread a little hope, a little cheer. Then I’ll do it. Because one day I may need that too.
I use to tell myself that it needed to be the perfect time to do X. And it was a way for me to stay where I was. Safe, but stuck. Happy in my unhappiness. All the empty promises I gave myself only left me more defeated. All the programs that promised me better health, more happiness, and a profitable business were a bust because it was too much. I wasn’t ready. And what I discovered is I needed to start even smaller, and that so-called self-care was not mean to be this big hill or crazy routine I was to add to my day (which, mind you, only gave me more anxiety when I thought about it). It was about the little things that kept nudging me forward towards the next right decision.
The results… It’s working. My suggestion for you today, start small, pick one of the ten I listed above, and do it until it’s like brushing your teeth ( and if you don’t brush your teeth, maybe start there). You will be amazed at what comes from a simple small action like this!
Check out My Meditations Custom Crafted just for YOU with music by Dennis Hawk >> HERE Click on MEDITATIONS to grab yours!
Creating, developing, and producing your own fitness channel is an exciting and fun journey. For starters, it’s a good way to motivate yourself to workout much more consistently. It can also be a great excuse to start your own ‘40 Days of Positive Posting’, inspiring others to pick up healthier habits. Whatever your reasons or motivations, starting your own fitness channel is actually not that hard to do.
Pick your niche or concept
If you’re already looking up ways to start your own channel or vlog, you’re probably already throwing around some ideas in your head about what you want to do. It can be easier to narrow down those ideas and pick out the best ones when you check out what some of the most successful and prominent fitness channels are up to. For instance, if you’re interested in Pilates, what can you do to differentiate yourself from Blogilates and the many other Pilates
-focused channels out there? Would it help to set your workouts to music like what The Fitness Marshall does? The reality is that there are already tons of other fitness channels and vlogs out there. And studying their moves can help you to stand out.
Invest in the right tools
Nowadays, even somewhat outdated iPhones are good enough for shooting and even editing videos for your planned fitness channel. But if you have the budget for better equipment, you can significantly increase the quality of your output and attract much more viewers. The good news is that there’s definitely no shortage of videography equipment out there. Adorama’s selection of video equipment showcases the wide range of professional video cameras, compact camcorders, lenses, lights, and filming accessories available to the modern videographer. Whatever your budget, there’s a video setup that’s right for your channel. Meanwhile, CBS 19’s list of mic and other audio equipment shows the different affordable pro-level microphones aimed at the gaming and streaming market. Any of the listed mics can also be highly useful for ensuring crisp audio on your fitness channel. Ensuring that your raw video and audio are crisp and clear will make editing easier, and can make your videos all the more watchable and shareable.
Don’t be afraid to get creative
Experiment with different shooting angles that can reinforce what you want to teach or show to your target audience. Try out different kinds of lighting to see which angles, brightness, and colors work best for your poses and movements. You can also use this opportunity to model different workout outfits. Take your channel to different locations for a varied look and feel throughout episodes. When you’re competing with hundreds of already successful and fledgling fitness channels, a little creativity can go a long way in finding your audience and establishing your niche.
Do your best to be a positive online presence
In the age of edited influencer photos, video filters, and like-based vindication, posting or streaming anything online can be a highly effective way of touching people’s lives. How do you want people to react to or interact with your fitness channel? Whether you want to become a TikTok sensation, bag a fitness media or advertising deal, or simply put out great content, it’s your responsibility as a content creator to be aware of how you can affect others. This is why it’s important to develop your content with the perspective of being a positive online presence. Audiences are very good at reading authenticity, and being genuinely positive can significantly help in attracting the right followers to your channel.
We all have had those moments that were life-changing, those words of wisdom that just stuck and truly impacted us, and over the last several years or so I have had many, and I just want to share them with you. These words of advice, thoughts, and ideas have come in all forms and from all kinds, some from others, some from my own insights, but each of these have had a significant impact on me, not because of the power of the words but because of what I was able to do afterward. These are 12 nuggets of advice that have changed my life.
This is just one moment among many moments in your life right now.
I would get so caught up in the mistakes, things I did or didn’t do or the feelings I was having. Time never stops and all things pass, no matter where you are right now it will soon be over.
When something stinks, step back and make sure it’s not you who smells.
We all want to blame others for what we did or didn’t do ourselves; it takes a far bigger person to admit when they are wrong than it does to point the finger.
Kill em’ with kindness.
When in doubt, you can’t argue with kindness.
You have everything you need right now.
I used to hate this saying, but wherever you are right now you are fully equipped to tackle it, just check to make sure you are using all that is available to you.
You can’t change everyone else you can only change yourself.
If you want others to change, be the example first.
Always be willing to have the hard conversations.
Any time I have ever had to have a difficult conversation, and actually had the courage to have it without getting in the way, the outcome has always been for the better.
Never be afraid to be honest, you can’t control how others receive your truth.
We typically fear the truth because we worry about what will happen after, but cleaning up a lie is way more work, because you don’t have to clean up the truth.
One thing at a time.
We want it and want it now, except we first need to enjoy what we have right now.
Life gives you exactly what you need.
Because where you are is exactly where you need to be in order to get where you are going.
Never be afraid to be who you are, as long as you do it in an honest way.
It’s one thing to be you and do it with a thorn in your side, it’s another to do it in a way that encourages others.
Don’t take shit from anyone.
Those that give you shit probably don’t want to deal with their own, press on my friend.
You can change anything at any time, just be ready to deal with the consequences.
We can change anything and not all consequences are bad, many can and are good, but you won’t know any of that until you get up and do something.
As each year passes, I think to myself, how can I be better than I was before? Trying to live in my truth and live the life I want to rather than the life I think others need me to live.
The older I get and the more I experience life and speak my truth, the more I realize that I don’t have any time to waste living in a way that no longer serves me, and sometimes that means radical change, sometimes that means I can finally speak up in a way I never did before, sometimes that simply means that I live and act without fear.
I have watched far too many people, some very dear to my heart, live their lives in fear, and because of that they never went after what they desired or what they felt that life was asking them to. I have watched many make excuses as to why they made and are currently making the choices they are; but in the end, sadly, I dismay that they will not get where they are going because they simply won’t allow themselves the right to live boldly, in their own truth, because they fear what will happen to those around them and to themselves as they step into their own light.
I refuse to live that way and although I don’t know exactly where life will take me, I know where I am right now and have cultivated enough wisdom and honesty to step back and fully take advantage of the situations in front of me because although I do believe that life gives you exactly what you need, it’s your choice what you decide to do with it.
With that, I welcome the new year and hope that 2021 provides us with new hope and that we live our best lives and stay true to our true selves.
Today marks 13 years that you’ve been gone. So much has changed and yet so much hasn’t. Yesterday I found myself thinking about the day before I knew you in person and the horrible feeling I had knowing that you were not going to stay. That sick feeling, I had that this little miracle everyone talks about, that “little blessing” that was supposed to be greeted with open arms and smiles was not going to be happening.
Each year that goes by and you are gone just a little bit longer creates a slightly larger space that worries me. I worry that I will somehow forget that feeling and it will be like it never happened which means it would be like you never happened. But as your one day on earth approaches each year I am reminded how that is just not the case. That sick feeling is easily remembered how your life was not meant to be. The sick joke that was played on your Papa and me just months into our marriage-the happiest time in our lives together was robbed along with the happy experience of our first newborn baby being brought into our lives.
You forever changed me, Faith. You forever made my life even more different than everyone else’s. And what I wouldn’t give to get you back for just five more minutes. I hope you knew it was us who were holding you that day, I hope you knew we didn’t choose this for you, and although we were in shock when we first found out you were coming, that shock was not warranting an outcome like the one that happened.
You changed me Faith, that hollowed out feeling the night I went home from the hospital, empty and alone. And those weeks after you were gone I cried so much I eventually became numb, I thought I’d never feel again. You changed me Faith, you changed me.
Since you’ve been gone we’ve brought in three amazing children into this world, and because of you I can’t imagine my life without them, but that still doesn’t take the place of missing you. Just writing those words I am choking down my tears and my vision is blurred by welling tear ducts. You changed me, Faith.
I thought surviving a life-sucking eating disorder was the worst I’d ever endure. And I have to be honest, I was wrong. Your short life was a rip-off, a cruel joke on two young soulmates who would have loved you and given you nothing short of a backyard campfire, dirty feet, self-exploration, be your own personal childhood experience. You would have loved us as parents. It was a rip-off.
Still, to this day I watch others race to have babies, act like pregnancy is crappy, and moan about getting rid of their pregnancy body to “get back to normal”, and to those people I say, “you are missing the point.” Don’t chance fate and take for granted a healthy baby, the amazing miracle of bringing a baby into this world, and the privilege you get to become a parent to then raise those children. Your Papa and I will never know the joys of having a first born baby, and to be honest, it took until having your sister Meredith to get rid of the numbness and until Ivan to actually not relive in my mind the experience of having you.
But you changed me, Faith, because of you I am now stronger than before. I was able to prove to myself and others that I could forge into recovery fully and you gave me a reason to take even better care of my body and cherish my life and every life I bring into this world.
You changed me Faith, I now connect with yet another group of people, I get them, I know what they are feeling and I can help yet another group of people.
You changed me Faith, because of you I see life differently, I see sunrises, rainbows, and butterflies differently. Harper, Meredith, and Ivan look forward to your presence when they see a butterfly circling us-they jump for joy and yell to the trees that Faith is here. You changed me Faith, you changed your entire family that we see life and creation in a way only those that have held their baby in their arms and watched that little life leave earth can know.
You changed me Faith, each year on your “life day” I am reminded that I am a strong ass woman, that you gave up your life so I could have one, a debt that I will forever on this earth be repaying. A debt that I will die trying to repay. I don’t know if I can or will ever be able to be as selfless as you, as giving as you, as humble as you.
Many days I feel like life just isn’t’ getting me, that God just isn’t hearing my prayers, my dreams, my goals. There are so many days that I feel like people still just don’t get me, that they just don’t understand. And today as I write this letter to you I have come to realize that many never will. And I will waste much of my precious time trying to get them to. I know you get me, I know that you know my heart, my dreams, that you hear my prayers.
Today I am crying for you, not because you are gone, but because you gave me life.
I know that you’re here, and just last week we saw you for the first time in the back yard. Meredith squealed with joy as you danced with her in the grass.
You changed me Faith, I’m not a mother of three, but a mother of four. And although I never got to see you take your first steps, say your first words, ride a bike or one day, drive a car, graduate, get married and maybe even have a baby one day. All those things aren’t necessary to have made you real, to prove you existed. I grew you in my belly, I was your only life line, I felt your little heart beat to its last beat.
To everyone reading this today, please know I need no sympathy. To those reading this today that have lost a child, that have watched an innocent child leave this earth-it does get better. Some wounds never heal and I think some just aren’t meant to, but you can choose to use your child’s life to bring more life to others. I choose to believe that my daughter chose this life, she chose this path and me too. Today if this message touches even just one person then that is one less person that has to be stuck in grieving longer than necessary. One less person that feels like they can’t move on.
I still remember the first time I told a family member that I am trying to “move on”. They didn’t get me or what had happened from my perspective and told me “well you don’t’ just forget about her”. I still remember yelling at her in my head, like “are you kidding me!?!!?!… How could I?” So to all those out there trying to be a support to someone experiencing loss, just be a shoulder, let them know you are there, they most likely don’t want to hear about your passing Grandma or your lost dog. They don’t want to be told it will get better, or how sorry you are. They just want to have support, they want to have a shoulder without a mouth, and when they are ready they will talk, they will reach out, and when they do you’ll be there.
We received dozens of cards those first few weeks, and of the dozens, I kept only a few, and of those were two unexpected cards from two people who briefly shared their loss of their child. I re-read those cards several times, reading those helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, reading those cards helped me feel that someone out there did understand exactly what I was going through. So to those reading this, I get it, I’ve felt the heartache, I’ve felt the unbearable emptiness, I’ve experienced the fits of rage, anger, and hostility, and I’ve felt every tear you have cried as my own. I get it and I’m here. You’re not alone. Please know this. You will survive and you will find happiness again. Just know it will be a different happiness than what you have felt before-and that is O.K.
Happy 13th life day Faith…
That’s all I have to say… Until next year… I’ll be seeing you in the sky.
Some say nothing is forever anymore, and maybe that is true, but then again, maybe someone said that who would have rather given up then figured out a solution.
Fourteen years is a long time…I guess.
Fourteen years seems short when you see others married 30, 40, even 60 years. I love the dance at weddings where couples get up and dance and as their year of marriage gets called they have to sit down. I always try to guess how long the last couple will be married. And at the last few weddings (well the last few pre-COVID-19 weddings), I have been blown away at the years together: one was 56 years, another 63, another 60! How amazing, and the best is when they dance, they look so happy! But truth be told, I’m absolutely sure not every day of their married lives were a walk in the park, was as blissful as that one moment I got to see.
This year marks FOURTEEN years of marriage for my husband and me. I guess considering we are only 36 that is a long time, but then again I’m still 45+ years away from those happy dancing couples I saw dancing last year.
Marring Brian was easy, I knew I was going to marry him when I was twelve years old. How? I’m not really sure, just a part of me knew that. And just when I thought I’d lost my chance, I went all in, and yep, as the story goes, at 17 we became high school sweethearts.
We’ve only been married for 5,110+ days, but I assure you, we know commitment. Life is not easy and when you combine your life with another, well let’s just say it gets more complicated. Day after day, after day, you have to continually consider the other person’s needs, wants, dreams, hopes, even shortcomings, and character defects (because hey, we all have them) and that is in addition to still trying to live your life and do your thing and follow your path.
That commitment pushes your buttons, that commitment warms you up, and in a moment’s notice pours cold water on you. That commitment is confusing, frustrating, and unfair (at times), I bet no one wrote that into their vows.
But commitment is also reassuring, loving, comforting, and supportive, and for me, it feels secure, it feels safe, it’s the biggest promise I will ever make.
I’ve grown a lot in the past fourteen years and I’m sure Brian will say the same, but that growth is kinda part of the ride, like a road trip so to speak, you can plan all you want but the trip usually doesn’t go as planned, and if you get too attached to the plan you will probably always end up disappointed.
So in 14+ years both Brian and I have moved through recovery from an eating disorder, lost our first child, grieved the loss of our first child, opened up a business, took on several other business endeavors, had four kids, bought a house, and are still busy working towards a future together hopefully for many more years to come.
Here’s the thing, I struggled to discover who I was early on in our marriage, I hadn’t really known me for a long time and as I became more myself each day it slowly changed my perception of marriage. I used to think that when you married someone you both then were to be walking one path together. But I would think about that concept often and it just wouldn’t make sense to me and I would be left with confusion as to how this would all work. But then I had a wave of relief one day and for the last thirteen years, I have worked to live my life this way in our marriage.
Married or not, you walk your path, each day you discover more of who you are and what you believe in, how you will help the world. But when you marry, your path aligns with another’s, you don’t walk each other’s path, you don’t block, hurt, or hinder the path of the other. You walk parallel, and when your partner happens to fall behind, you lead, you reach out your hand and help. And then when you find yourself to have fallen, your chosen partner will be there to reach out a hand, to stand strong while you are weak, and lead. Neither person is better than the other because your paths aren’t the same. The roles you share are just that shared. It may be years you carry certain responsibilities and at a moment’s notice that role shifts and the other takes hold.
Marriage is a balance of give and take, there is no room to be selfish, and no matter what there will always be temptation to try to steer you off your path, but one thing Brian and I have talked about is “choice”, everything in life is a choice, and fourteen years ago we made a choice to walk side by side one another through thick and thin, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health, and yes till death do us part. In marriage you learn to ride the wave, if you fight it you’ll end up unhappy, but if you learn to ride it, it becomes just that – a ride!
I don’t know what the next 40 years will bring, heck what the next year will bring, but that is kind of the point. You will never know it all, but as we grow side by side it’s like a new relationship each day, and each of those days is an opportunity to be the best version of ourselves both for our own sake and each other. And that “newness” is a push to learn new things about ourselves, an encouragement to move forward rather than be left behind. Marriage is a balance of all of that and more…
Each day I realize my kids are only getting older and soon they will have their own opinions and ideas they already have their own opinions and ideas!
What was once scheduling naps and changing diapers has now become everything school-aged children.
So now that I have 3 grade schoolers, days are longer (even if some are still doing virtual school), sitting still is a requirement, and the joys of studying for tests and homework loom our household. I have found that being a parent is a combination of doing the things my parents did that I loved, doing the things I wish they would have done, and doing the things that are necessary for each of my kids individually, depending on what they need.
Just last night I was helping Harper study for a religion test and what is he doing: trying to sit still at first, then making silly faces, rocking on the stool, standing on the stool sideways, running and leaping over the stool to see how far his long jump can stretch, pretty much just not paying attention. As I attempt to wrangle him back in and realize this is getting nowhere, he proceeds to tell me he just can’t seem to remember the names of the people and the answers to some of the other questions. I can see he’s distracted and somewhat uninterested. Because heck, are you wanting to talk about work after a full day at work?
I was initially frustrated with him like it was his fault he didn’t know the answers, but as his parent it is my job to help him, guide him and find his strengths and show him how to use them. A big parenting lesson for me continues to be don’t take my frustrations out on my kids-they are just kids.
So I took a breath and stepped back.
Because if Harper was me when I was young, I probably would have been told to knock it off, sit down and focus. But how can a very active boy focus by sitting still at 6 O’Clock at night when his sit-still-juice has already been used up at school?
It occurred to me a while ago that as a parent I can either do what has always been done and what most others are doing: make a flip chart, or a red, yellow, green light reward sheet for my kids so that they “behave” when I want them to, so that they can learn to suppress their inner energy and need for movement to appease me. Or I can show them how to use their strengths, understand their emotions, and learn right from wrong with always explaining why.
At our house it’s not just studying for a test, homework, daily reading is approached with a get it done attitude but one that asks my kids to be themselves and move. Doing sight words Harper struggled for a while and so while doing them every time he got one right he’d jump up, and soon he was jumping up the entire deck of 50+ cards. When doing a worksheet, I break it up and give him a 30 second to one-minute break to go be silly. The emphasis on doing that gets him jazzed up and so when he comes back he wants to focus so he can do it again.
So where am I going with all of this?
OK back to Harper’s homework and studying for a religion test. Harper is a highly active boy, he loves movement, he’d climb onto the roof if we’d let him; that being said, when I stopped trying to do what my parents did, and stopped asking something of him that he is not capable of (Well, he is short term, but all day? Come on) and started making the times that he needs to focus be active, the homework and study time at the Krebs household changed.
I allow Harper to sit down and focus when he needs to think, and when he needs to walk around he does that too when he gets an answer wrong last night I had him doing jumping jacks as he repeated the question and answer three times. Then when I asked it again and if he got it wrong- back to the jumping jacks. Once we got through the entire sheet without jumping jacks he was done. There was no yelling, no arguing, no complaining, he got his needs met, he thought it was fun and when he moves, especially in a repetitious way he focuses way better.
I could have very well flipped the card on his chart at home (that doesn’t exist) and tell him he’s not making a good choice and ask him to sit down and listen (which I’ve done before with limited success). But flipping a card doesn’t teach him how to manage his energy, channel his emotions and create new skills to one day manage his own life.
Now I know when he is an adult I’m pretty sure he’s not going to do jumping jacks when his boss asks him to remember something. But what I hope will happen is he will remember the actual skills he was taught to deal with stress, deadlines, and time management. That it’s OK to move, to be yourself, and do what you need to do for you because it’s right and it gets the job done.
So this morning at breakfast I asked him randomly the questions he struggled with last night and without hesitation, he got them right. I praised him for an amazing job! And then asked him how he remembered them, he said the jumping jacks.
Remember it’s OK to parent outside the box. Heck parent nowhere near the box!
The joys of having a baby is more than anyone can ever describe, and as a mom of three, myself, I have found that unless you consciously choose to incorporate your little yogis into your practice, we often then choose not to practice at all. And for others, the choice is to practice (exercise) without that little ball of joy nearby or incorporated into that very important part of your life.
Yoga is a huge part of my life and my family’s life. From day one my kids became my little yogi buddies and walking buddies, they did (and still do) everything I do. Because to me, my mindset was my kids were going to be a part of my life, a part of my practice, and a part of my studio, I wanted them to know no different. Some parents want their kids to learn a certain prayer or family tradition, I wanted my kids to learn to live a holistic-yogic lifestyle from early on.
Like many, exercise to me is important, but a mindful practice where it is a part of your lifestyle is even more important.
Here are some examples: We all go for a walk (dogs, kids, and husband) and we talk about why fresh air is important and how Mother Earth loves that we enjoy her and that we don’t litter (we usually are on a quest to pick it all up) and why that isn’t a good choice. I have taught my kids how to breathe and how they can use their breath to help them in stressful situations. I have a yoga room and my children adore spending time there, we take turns using my reformer, weights, and yoga mat, we teach each other poses, bounce on the bosu and I explain how bouncing is healthy for the lymphatic system and stretching is good for your muscles and mind, and building strength will help you get big and strong like your Momma and Papa.
For some in today’s society, the parents may be healthy but they keep that to themselves, for many, eating salad and lean chicken at dinner, but then feeding the rest of the family greasy foods. Or going out for a hike or tending the garden but leaving the kids inside watching T.V. At my house if I want to practice yoga (while my kids are awake) or go for a walk it’s either with them or nothing. And more important than me staying physically fit, is for them to see me take care of myself in all I do and incorporate them into it; so as they get older it’s no different than brushing their teeth, reading books, and taking a bath. To them, it is simply how things have always been, and these skills are skills that can and should be taught by the parents.
Now sure my little yogis crawl all over me in plank and slide down my back in Downward Dog, and that at times gets to be a little much, but that won’t be forever and yoga to me is more than exercise it’s tapping into the inner self and connecting, isn’t it for you?
From even before I had kids I knew several key points that would become the cornerstones of my parental approach. I feel very passionate about my kids seeing themselves as unique (like most parents) but in that uniqueness I wanted them to understand what it was like to develop individual skills and interests before engaging in the big wide world of pee-wee sports. We chose to skip the pee-wee games and guide our kids towards self-confidence using self-discovery and independent activity development. That meant family fitness activities. I know this is not for everyone, but for us-our kids getting down and dirty means playing in the mud, dancing in the rain, and walking in our woods searching for deer tracks and turkey feathers. I believe whole heartily that this is the foundation of childhood and developing into an independent-thinking adult. Yes, that’s right, family fitness is a foundation for our kids.
And within those independent activities, I wanted to be able to spend as much time with them as possible because there will come a day that they don’t think I’m top dog and will want to join the other team. But from the start, the team we wanted them to know they are on first is team “Krebs”.
Fitness is essential to me, and family fitness is even more important. The idea of keeping my kids active might not be what you are thinking because my suggestions won’t reference tee-ball, soccer, or dance. My suggestions are practical. They are beneficial, hopefully, to celebrate the little things because the little things are the foundation for your child’s future and who they will become as an adult and maybe one day as a parent.
Every movement matters.
In our house movement is super important. Now that my kids are school-aged, I recognize the extended periods of sitting and studying mean we need to prioritize movement once school activities are complete! I try to have them soak up every hour of daylight outside possible: jumping on the trampoline, climbing on the playset, chasing chickens, riding bikes, and making up games. And as easy as it is to send the kids outside, when you make an effort to go out with them they are not only more likely to explore, but it will make an impression that parents play too. I want to encourage you that if you tend to be a “go play outside parent” to set a timer for 20 minutes and go play with them, and then see what happens. I bet you that 20 minutes will quickly turn into an hour, because in the grand scheme of things- dinner can wait.
Family fitness walks.
Those in town who know me will vouch to say that they have seen me with my red stroller, two dogs, and two kids on bikes all over town. I need my movement, and because I work from home means I’m with my kids almost 24/7, so where I go, they go. And this has its perks. I used to fight for my personal time (I still get it but in other ways), but then I realized that the message I would be sending to my kids was exercise and fitness for adults is always separate. And after ten years of following this philosophy, I can honestly say it has paid off. I have gotten so much out of our walks together and I know I am planting the seed for years to come; plus, my kids love coming, they love my presence and I theirs. I use this time to talk to them about health, staying active as well as singing and playing eye spy. This is one of my most cherished non-winter experiences.
Family chores can be fun.
We have a very large backyard and woods and with all the tree cover a light breeze will drop tree limbs and black walnuts in an instant. My husband and I are not able to pick up this all ourselves and if we did we’d have no time for anything else. Staying active is super important to me and my family, but learning life skills is too. I know that when my kids become adults the impressions I set on them as kids will heavily impact the choices and decisions they make in their adult years. Picking up sticks is always a family affair, and I have to be honest they don’t always love it, but the older they get they realize: it’s not going to change anytime soon. Being outside in the warm sun and fresh air we race to fill our buckets first, who can pull the most roots, who gets the most walnuts and we often celebrate with lemonade and lunch outside afterward! We can easily spend two to three hours together (and don’t get me wrong there can be a fair share of complaining, but that is also part of the process) and after my husband always thanks them and asks them to look out and see what a great job they did. Seeing my kids notice their hard work and efforts and see them as they receive positive praise for helping in the household is a huge bonus too.
Encourage your kids to get dirty.
As parents we often let the end result cloud our willingness to let our kids run free. Stains on their pants, the time needed to then bathe, the worry of if they will get hurt, and the age-old excuse of not enough time. But I have to be honest, there is nothing more liberating than getting dirty with your kids. Sliding down the dirt mound outback with them. running barefoot in the rain, building sandcastles and mud pies at their side. When my husband and I get down and dirty with them, I get to see their eyes light up, not because of the dirt (although that is a big factor) but because we are dirty with them. I can feel the connection between us and our kids grow stronger and for me, it’s liberating as an adult to give myself permission to be a kid again and not try to be perfect all the time. When we get dirty we are reminded that life is messy. The mess is part of the experience.
Now these might not be wild and crazy ways to have fun, but they are free, fun and family orientated. When we instill in our kids that fitness, health, and fun cost money and require fancy equipment or continuous social engagements, we are limiting them in their own self-discovery process and creative development. Plus the time we get with our kids when they are young and we are the greatest thing since sliced bread is limited and I refuse to limit that even more.
>>This past year has been one of a kind. >>This past year has been one for the books. >>This past year has been a good one…for me.
Last year I decided that no matter what I did, what I stepped into, what came my way, I was going to approach it with a good attitude and a never give up mentality.
It’s November and I don’t think we say it enough… I’m proud of myself.
*Proud of myself for doing new things. *Proud of myself for stepping into unknown territories. *Proud of myself for doing things even when I didn’t want to do them.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
Thinking about doing something new is only step one… Well, it’s more like a Pre-Step, like Pre-Kindergarten.
And then it’s deciding to pull the trigger. But I’ve discovered that there cannot be ANY doubt in your mind that what you are about to do is wrong, not going to work, a bad idea.
I’ve been working really hard this past year on catching myself immediately when I see ANY doubt creep And when it does I noticed one thing…
If your decision you are about to pull the trigger on is DIFFERENT IN ANY WAY get ready for doubts, a struggle, or an internal debate that it’s not going to work.
This realization was KEY in my pressing on.
And I want to share that with all of you today.
If you want things to change, get better, be different (call it what you want) you NEED it to be uncomfortable or at least have that feeling for a moment that’s your signal that you are stepping into uncharted territory.
AND THAT IS A GOOD THING.
I was nervous the night before I got married. I knew I wanted to marry my husband and had known I was going to marry him since the 8th grade. That night looking at myself in my bathroom mirror, I had a wave of doubt run through me if this was the right decision.
But I knew that the doubt I was feeling was nerves from something new, the unknown. And because I pressed on, we’ve been married for 14 years, have 3 amazing kids, and built a life we love.
>>>>>When you get to the edge of what is familiar you have a choice. Go back into your typical patterns and stay exactly where you are…. Or press on.
*Press on even when it’s hard. *Press on even when you don’t want to. *Press on even when your decisions don’t fit into the status quo.
You guys I created my own pain relief cream. Not a cream I’m filling in my garage.
Like my own REAL product. (Find out about STIFF Mother Trucker Pain Relief Cream) How did this happen? I made a decision I wanted to do this and every step after that decision was made I did not like my old thinking or learned feelings and responses derail me from the goal.
To step into something new:
I took risk. A lot of risk. I invested my own money. And now have to pick up the phone and call people. Ask others for support and help and put me out there every single day with the chance others may not like me.
But I know and choose to never let doubt and negativity loom in my mind for longer than it takes to think that thought even for a second.
It’s exhausting to be on yourself like a bloodhound hunting in the woods. Constantly calling yourself out on thoughts, beliefs, and actions most don’t even see happening.
But now almost a year later of this diligent practice. I’m bearing fruit (I had a lot of internal negative self-talk to work through).
I see those periods of discomfort as markers I’m moving in the right direction and mentally stop and breathe, think, and feel the positive outcome. Where before things not working out always loomed in my mind.
THAT WAS MY ISSUE.
I was doing all the right things but when I got to the edges of my familiarity I was canceling out all my efforts with my internal dialogue, thoughts, and intentions.
I share this not to brag, but to hopefully inspire you. I did this.
To step into something new:
*I allowed myself the right to think bigger than what I was. *I allowed myself to dream bigger than I thought I was allowed to. *I allowed myself to be bold despite the negativity would come up against.
You can do this. You can step out. You can get there.
Stop saying 2020 is horrible. It’s not.
It’s different and that’s that.
Figure out a way.
Stop using 2020 as a reason to stay where you are.
I know this might not be what you want to hear. But it’s the truth.
I saw 2020 as the best time to step up my game and reach for more. Even when most of the signs around me said it was a bad idea.
DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this website is to provide community support and knowledge of various lifestyle topics. This website is for informational purposes and should not be seen as any kind of professional advice unless stated otherwise. We are not physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, or therapists. All our advice is based on our own experiences. This website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new diet or exercise program.