Nourish and Forge Wellness

taking wellness beyond the physical

Month: October 2019

Why I have to move

I remember the first time I was really aware of my body. I was in 6th grade and joined the track team. Having participated more in music lessons up to that point in my life, I remember being completely out of my comfort zone as the coach demanded more and more laps of us. I felt so uncoordinated and defeated, my legs burning and my breath wheezing.

After a few weeks, my body adapted, and I was able to begin learning how to work with breathing, pacing, turn over rates, and other tools that were helpful on the track. I began to feel empowered by the connection between my body and brain.

As I near 40, I’m struck by the evolution of movement in my life. How different types of movement came during different chapters. How each fed my growth in such perfect ways.

In middle school and high school, I learned the ropes of my body and social life through sports—swimming, soccer, track and field.

In my mid-twenties, I skied obsessively — counting the hours until I could get my boots in snow again.

After that, came 8 years of deep devotion to CrossFit.

Finally, yoga came stealthily into the picture.

Each chapter gave me exactly what I needed to evolve. I always fought the transition, believing I would never find something as fun as skiing. That I wouldn’t be able to do life without CrossFit. That my body wouldn’t be healthy if I didn’t practice yoga.

Each transition was due to a block that seemed outside of my control. An injury or shift in physical capacity. I saw it as an error. Something that shouldn’t be. Something that was wrong. Looking back now, I see how beautifully these transitions served me.

Skiing was my bliss. When I was surviving my first years of teaching and completing my masters degree, it was the part of my week when I could shed all the heaviness and responsibility — empty my mind and focus on speed, dodging trees and flying off jumps. I laughed and pushed my edges and drank beer. It was the ultimate release during a time of intensity and stress.

When I tore my MCL and was out for a season, I was devastated. What could I possibly find that would make life as worth living as skiing? The answer was CrossFit. By fate (or destiny), I met others who pulled me into the community just as it was forming. I found my people and my adult playground. I learned from incredible teachers how to push my body. How to build strength and control. How to endure discomfort in the moment because it’s the only way we learn what we are capable of.

I learned how to be a competitor. I revisited how to control my breath and work with it instead of letting it control me. I learned my system; I knew when to hold back and when to push the gas. I learned again and again and again how to be in discomfort.

Again, this was the place I went for release. For escape from the grind of teaching and the stress of heartbreak or crisis. I walked through the doors of the gym and felt all the heaviness slide off my shoulders. I could go to bed and sleep soundly, having sweat out my anxiety and stress onto the floor of the gym.

CrossFit helped me know my power. It’s where I proved to myself (again and again) that I could do the impossible. I learned the truth about what the journey of progress and achievement really looks like through my physical practice and mentorship from my coaches.

Then, my dad died. CrossFit was no longer something my grieving body allowed me to do. It was too intense. My body and being needed gentleness and presence to move me through the oceans of emotion. That’s when yoga became my main way of moving.

Yoga taught me how to “be with” what is. There was no where to go — just be on my mat. With my breath. And my thoughts. And my broken heart. And my tears. It taught me how to be strong in stillness and soft in movement.

I learned a new kind of power in my body — the power of being fully present to it and deeply accepting of it. I deepened my breath practice. I learned how to be an observer of myself. To be more neutral and loving. I discovered new ways to heal by not resisting, but instead leaning in.

Yoga taught me how to be still with myself. To leave all the noise and distraction behind on purpose. To learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable in a new way.

Yoga taught me how to fiercely have my own back. To love myself in each and every moment, even when especially when I’m a mess. To see the gift of the mess, when I can love myself to the other side of it.

Movement is essential for humans.
It’s how we increase mind-body connection.
It’s how we tune in to our intuition.
It’s how we create space for what’s coming next.

For me, movement is when my best ideas come…
It opens channels for creativity to flow — allowing insights to bubble up and universal intelligence to download.
So when I don’t feel like moving (cuz it always happens) this is what I tell myself…

Move, dear one…
This is what your body’s made for
It’s when your wisdom gets to be loud.
Honor your health, your mission, your soul
And move in the way that feels delightful today.

Share

Why I’ve been 99% Alcohol Free for the last 11 months

I vividly remember tears dropping down my cheeks as I had a conversation with my coach in the summer of 2018. I was feeling something so profoundly painful, and it had taken months to put words to it. Finally, the clarity had come.

“I feel so disconnected,” I said. “I feel like I’m living in this thick fog. I have a hard time connecting to myself. I have a hard time connecting to my intuition or highest self. I know the things that create the fog is also what disconnect me from my loved ones, from nature, and from (for lack of a better word) God.”

“What things create the fog?” she softly prompted. “Do you know?”

I knew.

In fact, on some level, I’d known for years. There were a few things on the list, but the big one was alcohol.

In my late twenties in Denver, I was doing improv acting during my free time. After the shows, I’d hit up a bar with the other actors. One of my friends, an older gentleman who literally lit up any room he was in, would always order a Diet Coke while the rest of us imbibed. One night, he told me that he had hit a certain year in his life (I believe it was in his early 40s, where he just knew that his life would be better without alcohol. It was no longer something that brought more good than bad into his life. So, he stopped. He had spent decades sober.

At the time, I marveled at his will power. I wondered how he could be around it all the time and not be tempted. I probably even felt a little sad that he wasn’t part of the “party”. But, more than anything, I looked up to him. He knew his truth, and he was living it. In an environment that was oozing booze, he abstained…and he radiated. He was deeply comfortable with himself, and so genuinely interested in each person he came into contact with. He was a person I wanted to become.

That night, a seed was planted. That seed whispered to me for the next decade. There will come a time when your best life will be a sober one.

I knew that time was coming, but that didn’t stop me from including beer or wine or tequila multiple times a week for years to come.

By the summer I was in tears with my coach, despairing the fog that enveloped me, my relationship with alcohol had gotten more complicated. It held such a strong allure. It was seamlessly interwoven with all celebratory events. And all bad/sad/mad events. And all tedious events. It always signaled “time to connect and enjoy” at social events and “time to unwind” at the end of many days. Reaching for a drink had gone into autopilot.

That summer, I named the primary culprit for my pain. And, yet, I didn’t do anything about it. I wasn’t sure how to go about giving up this part of my life. How to suddenly let go of a substance that had been at almost every hard and beautiful moment of my adult life.

So, I sat with the knowledge. I observed myself and my behaviors. I tried to be kind to myself. And I trusted that even if I didn’t see change externally, I was in process.

In early November, 2018, I was in Austin, Texas for a coaching conference. I was sharing a room with Savanna, a woman I’d come to know and love through our many video chats and phone calls. She was radiant. Brilliant. Deeply empathic. Incredibly health conscious. I was intimidated. And completely affirmed in why I had grown to care so much for her.

She was my right person/right time.

You see, I’d been journaling, contemplating, observing, and meditating/inquiring around my alcohol conundrum. I was still in the pain of disconnection. I had been asking for help. For direction. For a path forward.

Savanna told me her story, explaining why she chose to be alcohol-free (AF). She was so passionate that I couldn’t not listen. Then, she gave me a book that changed my life. [This Naked Mind by Annie Grace] I read it all the way back to Colorado.

And the switch flipped. Effortlessly. I went from desiring a drink almost every day, to truly wanting no drink at all. It was the right resource from the right person at the right time.

Since then, I’ve researched, read, and listened to everything I can get my hands on about alcohol, especially content that addresses the relationship and journey in the “grey zone”, meaning not black or white (alcoholic or not). There’s more content than ever for people who don’t identify as alcoholics, who’ve never hit a rock bottom, but are questioning their relationship with alcohol on some level. This is the content that interests me — ways for me to continue engaging with and learning about the complexities of humans and alcohol.

In the last year, I can count the number of times I’ve had an urge to drink on two hands. I’ve had 3 separate drinks on 3 separate days, very consciously. Each time, I’ve had an inquiry in mind, and investigated if it was “worth it” to me—measuring the temporary high against the next day’s lowered mood/energy/etc. Once it was. It was a strong IPA with a dear friend, on a rooftop patio in the mountains, on her birthday, after a half-day snow shoe. It was sublime. (However, I’m not convinced the experience wouldn’t have been equally sublime without the beer.)

So, where am I now? After 11 AF months, I can’t say my body composition has improved all that much or that it cured my other vices (gummy stuff, potato chips, and reality tv). I can say this is the most aligned, connected, confident, and content I’ve felt in years. I am so grateful for the internal and external forces that came together to make this decision an easy one for me. (I am certain it would’ve become a harder one down the line.)

I am intentionally and happily living a 99% AF life. I still have little sips of things from time to time — curious if it will taste like the magic I remember (it never does). I am not 100% sober at this point. I am conscious and intentional about when, where, with whom, and why I might have a drink. I don’t say I’ll never drink again. I do say that I drink as much and as often as I want.

And it’s absolutely true.

Share