Embracing The Holidays

With Thanksgiving a week away and the holidays in full swing, this is also prime time for diet talk, juice cleanses, low carb diets, and fasting to dominate social media feeds, television and radio commercials, and our general discussion amongst friends and family.

This time of year and it’s diet-obsessed energy always kicks my messaging into high gear, because I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to be terrified of the food that will be before me that day, and the day before, and the day after. I know what it’s like to feel weak, like a failure because my willpower failed me once again. If you are feeling anxious about being around family and friends this holiday season, if you’re feeling anxious about this body you inhabit, and the food you may or may not be consuming- I see you and I hear you.

I also know that you deserve so much more than the experiences described above. You deserve to feel empowered in your body and around food. You deserve to be able to be around food- any type of food- and be relaxed. And you deserve to set healthy boundaries.

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I’ve listed a few simple tips below that may be helpful to keep in mind over the next couple of months.

1. Identify & Acknowledge Triggers

If we don’t identify and acknowledge what is triggering our feelings of depression, anxiety, or perhaps body shaming during this time of year (or any time of year!), we won’t be able to heal it.

This is a difficult journey because we have to come face to face with the deeper reasoning behind these feelings. However, once we get to this place, the healing can begin. You may know right away what may trigger emotions this time of year. If you do- excellent! If you aren’t aware of underlying emotions or triggers, journaling is a great way to identify and acknowledge. Simply put pen to paper and write about feelings or thoughts that have been arising for you lately. Don’t stop to analyze what you’re writing, just keep writing for 3-5 minutes. You could also ask trusted friends or family and they may be able to provide you with some insight.

Identifying and acknowledging is an amazing first step. Once we identify and acknowledge, we can start to pay attention to our feelings and emotions as they arise. At first we may only recognize them after the fact. This is fine- still acknowledge and sit with that feeling. Identify it- give it a name. Then perhaps you will be able to identify these feelings in the midst of the trigger, and maybe you’ll then be able to notice when they may occur before the trigger happens. Also keep in mind, you may never reach this point and that is ok! The power lies in identifying and acknowledging, not preventing the feeling from occurring.

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2. Set Boundaries

As the incredible Brene Brown says “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” Wow, how powerful is that?!

If you find yourself at a place where you’ve had or attempted to have healthy discussions about your feelings and the environment remains toxic, it may be time to set some boundaries.

Setting boundaries is choice we make to no longer expose ourselves to an environment that is harmful or toxic. They exist to give us permission to establish or maintain our mental health.

The concept of boundaries often comes up around the holidays because much of the anxiety that is felt this time of year is related to being around family members that we may only be exposed to during this season.  Further, many of us are taught to suck it up, to tolerate it in the moment, only to walk away feeling shame, pain, resentment for the remainder of the year until it happens all over again. Yes, there may be some anger or pain in response to boundaries being set, but this time the energy of this response will be different- because you will be different. When healthy boundaries are set, you will be treated differently because you have established your value.

Even if this means no longer participating in the family’s traditional holiday celebrations, you have freed yourself of a toxic environment and can move forward in your new boundary-setting journey!

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

3. Eat Food

Yes, most of us are surrounded by and consume more food than we normally do on holidays like Thanksgiving. Sometimes we also have parties to attend with friends, events at work in which food is catered or provided by your fellow co-workers. Simply being around food and consuming food does not mean anything about you as a person. Not eating some food does not inherently make you better than others, and eating large quantities of food does not inherently make you less than anyone else.

Diet culture kicks into high gear around the holidays. I’m always amazed with the advertising of the average number of calories that are consumed on Thanksgiving. Just think about that- what is the purpose of this discussion? Does it change what you chose to consume that day, or does it only serve to make you feel worthless while doing so? On a day that is meant to stir feelings of gratitude for all that we have in this life, many of us expend that precious time and energy berating ourselves for what we’re putting in our bodies on one day. I also discuss how dangerous it is to label foods as “good” and “bad” here, and this is very apparent around the holidays.

Maybe this year instead of focusing on the food, take some deep breaths and look around. Look at the faces of your loved ones around the space. Feel your body and send gratitude towards it for keeping you here one more year. List some things you are grateful for, in that moment. And then eat.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

Nourishment

The concept of nourishment has been on my mind and heart lately.  Perhaps it’s related to the changing seasons, and looking towards the holiday season in which food is such a centerpiece.

As you may be able to relate, the holidays can be times of so much joy and love, while also being times of stress and anxiety. The holiday season and large gatherings involving food still increases my anxiety and brings back memories of the eating disorder and all that those years of my life entailed. During those years, the concept of nourishment was foreign to me. However, as my relationship with food and my body has healed, I am seeking more nourishment in my food, my relationships, my life in general.

The concept of nourishment is a complex one, but one worth exploring. I love the word itself- it’s so complex and there are so many layers to it. Nourishment includes not only food and water, but also the quality of our relationships with friends, family, nature, and more. To be nourished means being fully present. If we’re rushing through meals, conversations, and life in general, can we say our life has a nourishing quality?

Utilizing the following prompts may also help in examining the amount of nourishment in your life:

  • What makes you feel good? How often do you engage in this?
  • When do you feel nourished by food? What circumstances would make your meal a more nourishing experience overall?
  • Perform a nourishment inventory.Examine the following parts of your life and how nourishing they are. These can include the following:
    • people
    • places
    • thoughts
    • feelings
    • substances

 

The concept of nourishment has challenged me to take a look at areas of my life that lack nourishment, and what actions I can take to improve the quality of these experiences. For me this often includes slowing down and being present during meals, and being more mindful of actively listening when I’m with friends.

What do you think of when you think of nourishment? I’d love to hear how this concept resonates with you!

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

Love Letter To My Body

Now that we’re deep into the months of summer, I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with my body over my lifetime, particularly in relation to the seasons. The summer season was traditionally a season of manic ups and downs, depending upon the reflection I saw in the mirror, the number on the scale, or the food I had consumed. The past few summers, however, have been seasons that I simply allow to come and go. I honor my body as it is in that season of my life and continue to treat it with love.

I suppose as I develop to nurture my relationship with food and my body, this is a natural result, and can also be easily overlooked. I am taking a moment to pause and celebrate how far I have come because there were times when I truly never thought I could have the relationship I have with my body. For that I am eternally thankful and grateful!
In honor of these reflections, I have written a love letter to my body.

 

To My Uniquely Perfect Body,

Wow, what a journey it’s been so far!

First, I come to you to humbly ask for your forgiveness. Although I don’t have clear memories of loving and appreciating you prior to when I started hating you and then harming you, I do remember days of childhood where I felt completely comfortable within you. Memories of wearing colorful swimsuits as an 8 year-old without feeling the need to cover up; of coordinating daily outfits that included shorts and tank tops throughout the summer without picking apart each piece of flesh that was exposed.

Remember when I sunburned you so badly at cheer camp in eighth grade…? Me too. Sorry about that. I was only trying to toast you slightly. Unfortunately for you, it would take me years to realize we are both much happier sitting under the umbrella, with a big floppy hat and sunglasses.

Throughout the years we’ve definitely been through our ups and downs. There are too many years when I told you how disgusting you are, while abusing you day in and day out. But all the while, you were there. You’ve always been there for me, talking to me, supporting me, healing yourself to show me how strong and amazing you truly are. I only needed to listen.

Years went by and then slowly, very slowly, I started to see you differently. I began to eat  foods based upon what you needed. I started to drink more water and less alcohol. And I felt you responding to me with love and comfort, which only made me want to continue to provide you with more abundant goodness.

When we finished our first 10k… how amazing was that?! I could feel my heart pumping with enthusiastic euphoria- asking when we could do that again! And in the dim lights of a yoga studio, when I started to feel you again. When tears of gratitude, shame, and support overflowed down my face. And I could hear you whisper to me “Stay here with me, and we can find each other again. I want our healthy relationship back. I’m here.”

I can’t wait to continue to discover more of you, and all of the amazing things that we can do together.  May I continue to come as I am to my mat, and to live each day to fully embrace this body I’ve been blessed to inhabit.

With gratitude,
Jessica

 

The light in me honors to the light in you. 

Earning Food: Mindful/Intuitive Eating

How often do we feel guilt even before we’ve started to eat certain foods? For some of us these foods are carbs, or chocolate, ice cream, even fruit- the list is never ending.

I am reflecting on the concept of “earned food” as I savor a piece of dark chocolate with blueberries. Years ago, before I learned mindful eating/intuitive eating practices, I would have devoured this chocolate, perhaps reached for more without pause, and then berated myself mere moments later- demeaning myself for my lack of willpower and loss of control.

This is what we’re taught to believe: that eating “forbidden” foods is a sign of weakness. The diet and fitness industry has made millions of dollars on the concept of good carbs and bad carbs, good starch and bad starch, good fruit and bad fruit. I call bullshit.

When we are out of tune with out body, we are reactive in nature. Have an uncomfortable feeling? Reach for the brownies. Got rejected? Unload a bag of potato chips. It doesn’t have to be this way. By introducing practices such as meditation into our lives, we begin to gain the ability to become an observer of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, as opposed to being a slave to them. When we gain the ability to view our thoughts as simply additional information, we can then view them in a more holistic way. Sometimes they may still mean you reach for the brownie, and that’s great! The difference is this time you’re fully aware of why you’re craving that particular food, and you can eat it more mindfully, with gratitude for what it’s providing to your body in that moment. Then when you are satiated, you can be done eating and move on. It truly can be that simple.

Food is not something to be earned, it is an energy source to be consumed and utilized to allow us to live our lives to our fullest potential. How incredible is that?! The next time you have an overwhelming craving, perhaps take a moment to breathe into it. Ask yourself where the craving is originating and if that’s truly what you need. Perhaps you need a nap, a bath, or a hug instead. Listen. And then proceed as your body is directing. Continue to practice this as you can and see how your relationship with your mind, body, and food evolves.

 

I would love to hear your experiences with mindful/intuitive eating!

Words To Share

The following poem by Marianne Williamson has spoken to me currently. Just last night I printed this poem and framed it to place in my office. I need to be surrounded by these words right now.

It also reminds me of this post about the fear of success. I hope you find what you need in these words as well:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

Mundane Mondays

In an effort to listen to my body’s cues to let go of some control and look inward, I’ve been making an effort to be more intentional.
We all know that social media shows the highlight reels of life. The best of times. Moments in which we are living our most fabulous lives.
And we also know that depression, as well as feelings of loneliness and isolation are at an all-time high.

In reflection of living more intentionally I’ve noticed it is within the seemingly mundane moments that I find the most joy. Those moments that can be easily overlooked. The moments that rarely get posted because, well, they seem boring. So I’m starting #MundaneMonday. Each Monday I will post my favorite mundane memories from the week prior.

I’m doing this to remind myself that in truth these moments aren’t mundane at all. These moments are where life happens. This life is extraordinary and difficult and stressful and pure and gritty. So instead of spending life waiting for “big” moments, I want to make sure I celebrate each small, seemingly mundane moment as well.

My #MundaneMonday moments from last week: waking up to the sounds of my pup dreaming, cuddle puddle with my boyfriend, & going to church with a friend on Sunday.

Share your mundane moments with me!

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

I Love Myself, Therefore….

“I love myself, therefore…” how would you complete this sentence?

How does that sentence make you feel? Do you instantly start to feel anxious or uncomfortable? Great! Lean into that. Why does the thought of loving yourself bring up these feelings? Often we live our lives from the perspective of limiting beliefs that, over time, we have accepted as truth. The real truth is these beliefs are lies- messages we have been told growing up, maybe from scorned lovers, or messages fed to us from the media.

Some of these lies may include “You’re not good enough”, “You’ll never have enough money”, “Thin is beautiful”, “Conflict is bad”, etc.

It is so easy to continue these limiting belief loops, well, because that has been our norm. They’re so ingrained in us we don’t consciously think of them, unaware of how powerfully they affect how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. And by choosing to change these beliefs, we are choosing to fight our brain patterns (I’ll do another post on how the brain is affected by our thoughts), which takes time and consistency.

By choosing to change these beliefs, we are choosing to make a difficult decision. But if our normal pattern includes berating ourselves day in and day out, should we simply allow this to continue? Think about it this way: If you said the messages that you replay in your head out loud to a loved one, hopefully they wouldn’t continue exposing themselves to that type of abuse. So why do we consider it acceptable for us to continue to constantly belittle ourselves internally?!  Making the difficult decision to change this thinking is so worth it. This is your life we’re talking about.

So let’s take a look at how we can start to change these belief patterns….

Mantras are a great way to start to challenge limiting beliefs. Mantras can be created for a year, a month, a moment- there’s a mantra for any season or situation! At the beginning of this year I wrote out the mantras from which I wanted to live out each day. I focused on one in particular and made it a point to repeat the following mantra hundreds of times per day: “I love and accept myself exactly as I am.” 

The prospect of saying a mantra hundreds of times per day seemed excessive at first, but I quickly realized it paled in comparison to the number of times per day I was telling myself numerous limiting beliefs.  And those limiting beliefs became even more apparent to me when I started to challenge them.  For a while, and perhaps even now, my limiting beliefs- those lies that I have been told and have told myself- have been screaming at me. Attempting to derail my relationships and keep me from fulfilling my true potential.

Some days I don’t feel like this mantra is truthful in any way. But I continue to speak  it anyway.  Some days I am exhausted from fighting to simply love myself, and other days I realize that my worldview has been starting to shift to a perspective of love.  I realize I am looking at people around me from a place of peace and humanity as opposed to a place of judgement. I realize I am listening to truly listen, not simply waiting to drown another in my opinions. And I know this all stems from me choosing to love myself first.

I am still primarily focusing on this one main mantra, and have also included the following mantras throughout the day, even if only first thing in the morning and before I go to bed.

“I am willing to change”

“The thoughts I am thinking and the words I am declaring at this moment are creating my future”

“I release all resistance”

“Everything I need to know is revealed to me”

“Everything I need comes to me”

“I am young, youthful, and full of vitality”

“Money flows to me in abundance”

“Everything I touch is a success”

When we change our perspective from one of untruths and limiting beliefs to one of love and acceptance, we start to see our entire world change. Because our perception of the world is changing. A world we did not allow ourselves to see starts to reveal itself to us. Beauty and good and love are here, but it’s not until we love ourselves that we are able to truly see it surrounding us.

How would you complete this sentence “I love myself, therefore….”? Simply put pen to paper and write without thinking- without letting those limiting beliefs creep in. Write all of the ways in which you choose to treat yourself and others, from the perspective of love. Then write a mantra and don’t give up on it or yourself. Speak it to yourself 300-400 times per day (yes, seriously). It’s not too late to save yourself from your beliefs. Your truth is fighting to be discovered again.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

Manifesting Part 2: Setting Intentions

In Part 1 of the manifesting series, we examined the power of thought. Now we’ll be looking at how to channel the power of thought to manifest the life we desire.

As we discussed in the previous post, the Universe directly reflects the energy that is put into it. In Part 2 we’ll examine how channeling the power of our thoughts can manifest our intentions.

Our thoughts and our entire existence are made up of vibrations of energy. Everything we see, hear, touch, taste- they’re all made of vibrations. Our thoughts are also included in this vibrational energy, and as such we are constantly putting out vibrations into the Universe.   When negative vibrations/energy are sent into the Universe, these energies are directly reflected back to us and are perceived as our reality. Likewise, when we vibrate positive energies, that will become our reality as well.

Perhaps you’ve used a phrase referencing a person’s “good vibes”, or you’ve walked into a room and instantly gotten a negative “gut feeling” towards someone… those are based on the literal vibrations of yourself and the other party. When we sense these things we are sensing another person’s energies. Cool, right?!

It’s important to understand the power of our thoughts, intentions, and vibrations because this will greatly impact our ability to manifest an intention. It is common to be sending out negative vibrations without realizing it, and then become frustrated when intentions do not manifest. In fact, our brain naturally focuses on negative experiences and thoughts as a protective mechanism. Because of this, changing our thought patterns requires practicing and changing the way in which our brain naturally focuses. A great way to implement a change in vibration is to incorporate a gratitude practice into a daily routine. This is an excellent way to set the tone for the day,  by beginning each day reminding yourself or one thing in which you are grateful, then continuing to build on this practice. Soon you will be able to recognize when you have found yourself in a negative thought pattern and will be able to change that internal dialogue.

Since it’s in our nature to focus on the negative as opposed to the positive, when we’re setting intentions it’s easy for us to focus on what we want to discontinue or remove from our lives, instead of focusing on what we want to bring into our lives. These differences, however, are massive and can make all of the difference in having a manifestation come to fruition.

When choosing an intention to manifest, begin by acknowledging what the manifestation goal is- for example “complete self-acceptance”. If this is the manifestation we’re striving for, instead of vibrating an intention of “I don’t want to judge myself anymore”, or “I want to stop self-loathing behaviors”, an intention to manifest would sound something like “I love myself completely. I am worthy of love and I attract unconditional love. I know that I am enough.”

Can you see the difference between these two intentions? One is vibrating negatively, and that intention will manifest as continuing to receive the same self-defeating vibrations, whereas sending out positive vibrations provides space for this intention to manifest!

Intentions can be set daily, hourly, yearly, etc. There are no limitations to our ability to manifest once we learn how to set them in accordance with the Universe!

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manifesting Part 1: The Power of Thought

There’s so much to say when it comes to manifestation that I’m making this a 3 part series about the power of manifestation. To begin discussing manifestation, we must begin with the power of thought. Our thoughts directly impact the world around us and what we experience each day.

I like to think of manifestation in this way: the Universe is neutral in nature and as such, it responds directly to the energy that is put into it. If the energy being put into the Universe is one of defeat, anger and jealousy,  those thoughts (energy) will shape what the Universe returns to us. However if the energy being put into the Universe is gratitude, love and generosity, those thoughts (energy) will be returned to us.

All day, every day we are sending energy into the Universe. For most of us, these are limiting beliefs we have playing on a continuous loop in our head, and these limiting beliefs have probably been playing for most of our lives. We call these “truths” but my friend, they are rotten lies.

The work of the late Dr. Marasu Emoto illustrates the immense power we hold within ourselves. Dr. Emoto’s experiments showed the power of thought energy by studying the way in which water crystals would form based upon words spoken to water, music that was played to water, and even how the crystals formed based upon images that the water was placed over. For example, when the phrase “You make me sick, I will kill you” was spoken to the water, the crystals formed were incomplete, with no structure to them whatsoever. Conversely, when the phrase “Thank you” was spoken to the water, the beauty of the crystals that were created upon the water becoming frozen brings tears to my eyes. You can view photos of some of these crystals on Dr. Emoto’s website here.

I also conducted my own at-home experiment to further illustrate the power of thought. Over the course of one week I conducted an experiment with an apple, my words, and my energy. Each day for one minute at a time I held half of an apple. To the half on the left side of the plate, I spoke into it positive affirmations and sent into it positive energy, speaking into it phrases such as “I am so thankful that we share this moment together”, “you are so beautiful”, and “thank you for existing to nourish my body”.  To the right half of the apple, for one minute a day, I berated the apple and spoke into it words of hate such as, “You disgust me”, “I can’t even look at you, you’re so rotten”, and “I want you to die”.

Below are photos of the apple. The results are pretty astounding.

 

Both halves of the same apple, sharing the same plate, receiving the same amount of sunlight. The only difference between the halves is the energy that was spoken into each one.

You see, with each negative word we tell ourselves, with each comment about how we need to lose weight, with each comparison to another person, we slowly rot ourselves from the inside out, just like the apple half on the right. Whereas when we spread love, light, and gratitude to our incredible bodies for simply existing, and share our light with those around us, we literally have the power to change the world.

 

What are some “truths” that you play on repeat in your mind? Some of these “truths” may have been placed upon you as a child, such as “She’s a feisty one”, or “He’s a troublemaker”. It’s not a coincidence that once we take ownership of these false beliefs that were pushed upon us as children, they manifest as our reality.

Some limiting beliefs that play in my head throughout any given day may include “I wish I had what she has”, “Why can’t I just look like her?”, “My life is such a mess”, “I failed again”, “I can’t do that”…. the list is endless.

Take a moment to examine some of the limiting beliefs that play in your mind. This is a very uncomfortable exercise, I acknowledge. However, we cannot begin to change these beliefs until we acknowledge that they exist and also acknowledge that they are cruel, vicious lies. That is where we find our power. That is where our strength resides.

For this opening post about manifestation, I challenge you to reflect upon the limiting beliefs you tell yourself daily. Sit with this and notice how it makes you feel. Find comfort in the uncomfortable parts of yourself. This journey is not always pretty but it is so worth it. You are so worth it.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.