On Repeat.

Pay attention to the words that are on repeat in your head. This has been part of my observation practice this year. The things that are on repeat matter. They guide us. They influence us. They become us.

Saturday morning I set out to run. Even with the best intentions I keep finding reason to miss a run here or there. Saturday morning was one of those mornings. Excuse after excuse piled up. I had juggle and rearranged my running schedule all week by Saturday I felt behind. I had one hour and 15 mins planned for the day, and not enough time to accomplish the task. I did have enough time to run my 30 minute speed work that I missed on Thursday.

A mile in a new set of words was on repeat in my head.

Look for opportunity instead of excuses.

These words that found me in running have followed me into all the daily pieces of my life.

In my attempt to find my calm in the midst of the summer panic I always feel, I’m returning to my words. No matter how clumsy or rusty my own personal writing feels, it’s the practice that lets me feel free. Using my words to define my life is what allows me to stay awake.

Writing is my vibration in life. And running is the place the settles my mind so I can hear the words that are on repeat. The more I run, the more I gravitate towards writing. The more I write the more awake I feel.

Tonight on my run, I struggled. My breath never settled. Nothing felt easy about my easy run. I had a million excuses for why it felt all wrong, but instead I found the opportunity to silence my head.

I ran my normal route by the river. I allowed myself to stop for a moment to take in the views. This time I stopped a little further back on the island near an abandoned boathouse. There isn’t much to be said for the abandoned shelter but I love it more than it’s million dollar neighbors. I tend to gravitate to the broken, weathered souls that are living a full life. This boathouse is no exception. There’s a story to be told about that boathouse if you can see beyond its broken structure. It’s the difference between being broken and breaking open.

Thirty minutes later my run was done. All my hard was left behind in my neighborhood streets.

Look for opportunity instead of excuses. I can’t wait to follow these words for a while.

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How do you stay awake?

Last week I called my therapist in the midst of a low point. Panic had creeped in, and my next appointment felt too far away. Maybe she had an cancellation. Maybe she had an appointment for someone who really needed to sit on the couch in her office. She must have heard the panic in my voice, because she called me back immediately. There was no secret appointment to claim. No one had cancelled. But she told me if she could write me a prescription for anything, it would be to take some time for myself. It would be to find my quiet. She reassured me that I have all the tools I need to calm myself, but I need to use them. I don’t need her to do that. I don’t need to sit in her office to feel safe. I can calm myself. I can heal myself.

I took a few inhales and exhales. I took a few more. I carried on.

Tonight I found a moment of quiet, and I sat down to watch Elizabeth Lesser on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday.

How do you stay awake? Oprah asked Elizabeth this question, and I felt myself exhale. I rid my body of my panic as I waited to inhale her response. How do you stay awake?

Elizabeth’s answer didn’t come quickly.

I stay awake by paying attention to the amazing feedback loop that is always there. There is an amazing system in the world. It’s called karma, but its happening at every moment. Who you are, what you just did, what you said, its reactions are happening all around us to other people. Stay aware of your effect on other people, of your effect on the earth. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes. That’s how I stay awake. I stay aware of my effect on the world.

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Summer has never been my season. It is rare for me to pass through this season without wanting to stay asleep. This summer I’ve craved more sun than I’ve ever craved, but I’ve also craved more sleep. I’ve needed to feel settled. I’ve needed quiet.

Last week, at the same time of my panic, a full moon lit up the night sky. This moon cycle encourages us to reflect on the energetic space we carried with us at the beginning of the year. What ever we needed to learn from that space is clearing and shifting to make room for something new – something that will require us to be ground, stable, and hard working.

I welcomed 2018 with a full energy. I was awake. I felt engage, alive, aware, and in tune.

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The moment I read the first page of Elizabeth Lesser’s book, Broken Open, I knew I was receiving a gift. As I listened to her speak with Oprah, I was reminded of what she taught me. We can be broken, or we can be broken open.

Over and over, we are broken on the shore of life. Our stubborn egos are knocked around, and our frightened hearts are broken open—not once, and not in predictable patterns, but in surprising ways and for as long as we live.

In my moments of panic, I feel broken. When panic creeps in and I loose my breath, I feel like I’m breaking apart. But breaking doesn’t equal broken. This will always be my lesson to learn. Breaking is an opportunity to open. It’s a place for breath. It’s a place for growth. When things break, they create a vibration. That vibration effects the world. That is how I stay awake.

You can watch Elizabeth Lesser on SuperSoul Sunday HERE.

Contrast.

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~Brené Brown

For weeks now my thoughts keep coming back to one thought. Joy and sadness belong together. These versions of extremes are actually the same. They can’t exist without each other. It’s been on repeat in my thoughts and my observations.

So I’ve observed. I’ve looked for these opposing forces in every corner of my world. Where is there sadness? Look beyond it. Joy is hiding. Where is there joy? Look further. Sadness exists too. These two existences are dancing around me.

It’s a simple thought, a thought I would have always said was true, but the practice of existing in both space can feel like chaos inside my head. Findings breath between the highs and lows will always be my calm.

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On Thursday I sat across from my therapist.

You need to get curious about your discomfort. Just observe. Pay attention to everything. How do you feel? How are you breathing? What emotions are you experiencing?

Her words echoed the intention I set for myself this year.

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On Tuesday I tackled my first speed workout in ages. 6×400 before 6am with one intention to fuel me – don’t give up on my intervals.

After my 4th interval, I let out an audible fuck. In my moment of recovery, I wondered why I do this. Running has been so enjoyable lately. It’s been comfortable and easy. Am I crazy to give that up?

Before my thoughts could even finish, I knew my answer. I’ve never been one for comfortable and easy. Being stagnant doesn’t work for me. I don’t thrive off day to day. I need to be lost in something. Running is always the strength I need for living, so its time to find more strength.

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Right now I need to be lost in my discomfort. It’s the only way to see my light. It’s going to messy. It’s going to ugly. It’s going to get real.

Existing beside my own discomfort is also my greatest joy. They belong together.

“Some of your most powerful intentions are born in your moments of greatest contrast.” ~Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

It is time to be powerful. In my sadness and in my joy! Life comes from within. Strength exists within.

Yamacraw 20K | You have to be brave somewhere

Heading into this weekend, I was stepping into and out of my comfort zone all at once. Trees and the mountains have always been my true love. Running is a close second. Heading towards the mountains for a trail race felt as natural as raising my children.

As we made our way west, it dawned on me I had no idea what I was driving towards. I had done little research. I didn’t scrutinize the details of race day. Dropping from the 50K to the 20K after a small tear in my quad sidelined me a few weeks ago, I had a false sense of confidence heading into race weekend.

I was “only” run 12ish miles. I could handle whatever came my way.

My false sense of confidence worked in my favor this weekend. I followed the race instructions, boarded a bus, got dropped off at a trailhead with a cone and a timing may start line, and I ran when the race director shot off his gun. I had zero race day nerves until I hit the trails.

“You have to be brave somewhere.” ~Brené Brown

Christian and I started together. We would decide as we went if we should stay together or run separately. Out of respect for other trail runners (because I assumed everyone else at the race was experienced and more trained than me), we started at the back of the pack. One by one we ran single track trail into the woods. We descended stairs. We crossed streams. We slushed through mud puddles. We played.

I started this race timid. Slipping and sliding through mud, I wondered how long it would be before I took a tumble. Slipping on rocks at river crossings, I wondered how long it would be before I fell into the river.

“You have to be brave somewhere.” ~Brené Brown

I read these words on my way out of town, and they echoed in my head for the first few miles of the race. When nerves and doubts bubbled, I repeated them. Pick brave. You have to brave somewhere.

A few miles into the race I found my footing. I became comfortable. I quit second guessing my ability to run hills. I didn’t over analyze where I should take my next step. I just ran what was in front of me. This crazy trail run become an extension of me. By mile 6 when we approached a river crossing too deep to cross by foot, I felt alive. We crossed the river by raft and ran on.

From here everything went up: the elevation, my attitude, and my confidence. Christian and I were still stride for stride quietly taking turns leading and following. He pushed me passed my timid ways in the beginning, and now it was my turn to push him to finish stronger than he started.

During one of the final descents down the mountain, another runner yelled out to me: fake your confidence. I glanced back, laughed and replied: “it’s like you’ve known me my whole life.”

That gentle nudge to own my run allowed me to open up my stride, to embrace the downhill and to trust that I could run this trail. When the finish line bridge became visible, I felt a strange mixture of pride and sadness. Proud because I finally embraced myself on a run. Sad because I wasn’t anywhere close to being ready for it to be over.

Christian and I crossed the finish line together, and I know we are both eager to get back out there. The trails have so much to teach us, and this weekend we just scratched the surface.

As we make our way back east towards the beach, my heart aches a little. There is something about the mountains that can’t be replaced. I need them in my life. My heart exists within them.

For now, I’m going to carry their lessons with me. This year my goal is to observe, and yesterday I saw a new spark in me. I saw a girl who chose brave and who gave herself space to work through timid in a way that works for her.

“You have to be brave somewhere.” ~Brené Brown

Finding myself in comfort and discomfort is invigorating. I’m coming home awake.

Safety in Freedom

As I ran towards the park on the Cape Henry Trail, my goal was simple. With every stride I took, I wanted to feel my foot hit the ground. I wanted to feel the connection between me and the earth. Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push forward. I was there to feel my run. Every other thought was left behind me.

I have found myself sitting across from my therapist on a frequent basis these days. In this space I bring my thoughts with me. My goal is simple. I want to feel myself existing in my world. I want to feel my connection between me and my world. As I sit quietly in her peaceful room, the goal is the same as it is when I put on my running shoes. Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push Forward. In this space my thoughts comfort me. My body is left behind.

The year of waking up delivered me to a place of observation. With my eyes wide open, I am seeing everything. I’m seeing my light, my wounds, my joy, my hurt, my strengths, and my weaknesses. I’m seeing myself.

I’ve discovered a pattern in my life. I crave safety, yet safety is the one thing that feels suffocating. My need to feel safe and protected has driven me to tuck myself away. It’s a basic human need. We all need to feel safe.

The more I’ve observed, the quieter I’ve become. My own words have failed me lately. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a full story to tell that I’m looking to find comfort in the words of others. My moments are filled with devouring books of women who like me are trying to fly free. I feel clumsy in my own being knowing that I’m outgrown the cage I’ve created for myself.

I crave freedom.

“The psyched and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

So many people have asked me what comes after the year of waking up? Maybe I finally know the answer. Maybe the next chapter is knowing I’m safe when I fly free. I don’t have to remain small or rooted to be safe. There is safety is soaring. There is safety in taking flight.

Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push Forward.

This is how I make sure I’m safe. It’s through reaching and connecting that I’m able to absorb all I am. It’s how I push forward. It’s how I fly.

Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push Forward.

This is what comes next.

Be Your Answer.

We belong awake!

For an entire year, I set out on a quest with one intention. I wanted to wake up. I wanted to live life with an exclamation point instead of a question mark.

But what exactly does that mean? What does it mean to wake up? I don’t have an answer to that question for you, but I found it for me. I found it by not asking. I found it by existing. I gave up questioning and doubting. I charged forward. I pretended to know what I was doing until i believed my own actions.

2017 ended. 2018 began. I feel myself existing and living.

We belong awake.

New Year’s Eve

I’m at the start line of a new adventure. In April I’ll attempted to run a 50K through Kentucky. I have so many questions. How do I train? What’s it like on the trails in Kentucky? Can I do this? I’ve asked them to myself and out loud. As I received answers, I realized something.

I am my own answer.

I’m not asking questions to learn or to grow. I’m asking questions to validate that I can do this. I’m asking to reassure myself that I already know the answer.

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the questions when you are the answer.” ~Joseph Campbell

I think this is how I become stagnant in my own life. When life becomes comfortable, when I feel confident in my answer, I settle in. The more I settle, the less vibrant life becomes.

We belong awake!

And this means we have to be our own answer. We have to live our own answer. An answer can’t exist without a question. We have to ask questions? Maybe out loud, but definitely to ourselves. We have to do things that makes us wonder what is possible. We need question marks just as much as we need exclamation points.

There is a fine line between questioning and asking questions. One includes doubts. One includes curiosity. One includes questioning yourself and the other includes believing you are the answer.

In my quest to wake up, to find the exclamation, I found my answer.

Ask questions but do not question. What do you need to live life awake? Be your answer. And Repeat. Over and over and over again.

On the AT. 

We Belong Awake

“That’s the one thing

There’s no safety in desire

Preserving life is as good as dying”

🎵Andrew MacMahon

As 2017 comes to an end, one thing has become crystal clear. If you want magic in your life, you have to create it. Magic doesn’t find you. You have to bring it to your life.

Living life awake doesn’t just happen. Every day you have to deliberately make the choice to wake up.

It’s risky. Sometimes it hurts. It leaves you exposed. And it’s magical.

Maybe that’s what makes New Year’ Eve and the New Year so appealing. It’s an ending and a beginning all within one second of each other. The ball drops, and you get a brand new year.

That’s the magic. That’s being awake.

Within one second of everything in life is being alive. You never know when your one breath away from your best or your worst. When the ball drops or things fall apart, you get to start again. If we never let the ball drop, we never get a new beginning.

As 2018 approaches, I have one goal. It’s to observe life without judgement. It’s to allow myself (and others) to exist as I am.

I belong awake.

We belong awake.

The only way to live is to allow ourselves to be one second and one breath away from our best or maybe our worst.

Cheers to a life of magic. Cheers to being awake.

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Cheers to 2018, a year to let go of judgement, to observe, and to participate relentlessly in living life awake!

Just Observe. Don’t Judge.

Just observe. Do not judge. These words have become the echo to all my thoughts and actions. I didn’t know it when I went to that yoga class a month ago that the practice would become the welcome mat to this next chapter in my life. I didn’t even realize on that night I was turning the page to a new chapter.

When life is challenging, how do you feel? How do you react? Our instructor asked us these questions? I answered them. During my practice, when it got hard I judged myself. I’ve done the same in life. I’ve felt weak and not strong enough. I’ve questioned my mind and my heart. I’ve forgotten to welcome it all. I’ve forgotten that there is no right or wrong. There is just being.

You can’t exist in the present if your not observing what your feeling.

You can’t exist in the present if you’re judging your reactions.

This practice doesn’t just apply to the times when life is challenging. It also applies to the times when life is good, when you feel alive, and when you feel awake. Just Observe. Don’t judge. My year of waking up started as a goal for my spring race season. It twisted and turned and become less about running and more about living.

Just Observe.

Don’t Judge.

It’s a simple practice, yet it is nearly impossible to implement. Since that yoga practice, I have craved more. I’ve felt myself being drawn back to my roots and all the thing that ground me. I feel myself being pulled towards my yoga mat, the trails, and movement. I feel myself existing in my body and through my body.

When asked what is next, I’ve answered over and over again that I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. But I do know. This new chapter is less about what and more about existing.

Existence comes from observation. Existence lacks judgment. Existence happens when we embrace who we are.

This week I placed my rooted mala around my neck. It’s been a long time since I’ve reached for this set of beads. I was feeling unsteady and unsure. When I bought this set of beads, I wanted a reminder to stay rooted in my life, in my family, and in my community. I was creating a foundation. This time it feels different. This time the roots are not things, this time the roots are me.

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Life can be so complicated and noisy. Marriage gets hard. Parenting is never easy. It’s easy to fall away from who you are.

But then something happens, and your invited back to who you are. It can be something as simple as unrolling your yoga mat and a simple movement of your body. Just Observe. Don’t Judge. If you don’t, you’ll miss the invitation to exist in your entirety. You’ll miss the welcome mat to your life.

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Remaining Small

In a yoga class a few weeks ago lead by Jessica Johnson, co-founder of the Bhav Brigade, my body felt unsettled. I was unsure before I even arrived in class. I convinced myself to show up, to walk inside and to unroll my mat. Unsure of my place in the class, feeling unsettled in my body, pushed beyond my physical comfort zone, I wanted to flee. And then Jess guided us. Sharing the words of Glennon Doyle, she created a welcome mat for my practice.

we’ve got it all backward down here. We want to be on the mountaintops, but we’re not called to be victorious. We’re called to be wise, strong and kind. We are admired on the mountaintops, but we are beloved in the valleys. All the magic is in the space between mountains, where we have to unbecome everything we thought we were and start from scratch. This is hard to do, because when pain comes in the form of uncertainty, our instinct is to scramble out of it, to grab blindly for the familiar. But when we rush out of the valley, we miss gathering all the wisdom, strength and kindness we need for the next climb. We have to learn how to sit by the river and be still enough to claim its gifts. ~Glennon Doyle Melton

So here I am again. I’m in the middle again, the middle of the mountain. This is where the magic happens. But this is also such a hard place to exist. It’s a daily battle to not give up or give in.

The yoga practice that night challenged me. With sweat rolling down my back, I wanted to retreat to child’s pose. It’s always available, but did I need it. I knew I didn’t need it. I just wanted easy. I stuck with hard.

I was still unsure when I left class that night. I still didn’t feel settled, but that practice has remained a constant in my daily thoughts. Jess asked us in the moments when our legs want to give up, when our hearts are straining, to observe. What we are feeling doesn’t matter, but making note of how we are feeling does. When we are challenged, how do we respond? There is no right answer. There is only our answer.

What is my answer? I scramble. I flee. I feel panic. I become unsettled.

I sat with my feelings of being unsettled that night. I used my breath to calm me. I used the flow of my body to feel alive. The more I felt graceful and powerful in my movement, the more my anxiety disappeared.

Yoga is more than a class. It’s called a practice because it’s something we do every day. It’s something we practice in every aspect of our lives.

This Saturday before sunrise I drove to the trails. As I drove passed the Chesapeake Bay, I found my mind wandering. How can I feel so alive and so unsettled at the same time? This is the best I’ve felt mentally, physically and emotionally in a very long time yet part of me is still so unsettled. My thoughts wandered some more. I was drawn back to my yoga practice. If the movement of my physical body is what settles me, I need to move more. I was headed to the perfect place to move my body. The trails are my yoga practice.

That morning the trails were flooded with light and frost. They were flooded with fog and mist. They were alive, and my body carried me to a place of feeling settled. My running feels fluid again. It moves with ease.

As I ran with the trees I was reminded of all the shared stories and dreams I’ve whispered to these trees. I’ve spent so many years and miles wandering through these woods they are part of who I am. The trees with the greatest reach also have to strongest roots. To reach high, you have to be deeply rooted.

I feel myself reaching higher and higher every single day. I can’t help but wonder if my roots are a little shaky? For the rest of December, I’m returning to my yoga mat and the trails. I’m returning to the relationships that nurture me. Instead of glancing up to the top of the mountain, I think I’ll take a few steps back to the valley. Dig in, get dirty, and allow the movement of my body to settle me.

In my roots, at the base of the mountain, I am reminded that I am small. When I am small, I am reminded that I’m part of a much bigger journey. I am much bigger than myself. I am small, but I matter. This is the space that feels like home to me. This is were I become settled.

To read Glennon’s full article, click here.