Transform and Upgrade Your Life Part 3:

Last year at the Global Leadership Conference Bill Hybels introduced me the concept of “seasons” in our life in his latest book Simplified. I have to say I was really relieved to hear that “seasons” come and go. My 40’s have been a difficult season thus far. I’ve been doing a lot of closet cleaning and developing inner-self. I’ve been working on embracing my “whole-imperfect-self” and allowing myself to be vulnerable. I’ve been learning to accept support from others and to truly embrace my life’s purpose; exhausting work, really. It’s scary-as-shit and rewarding all the same. This month I bring you an opportunity to look at your relationships with others and yourself.

With four close family members ill, I’ve been dealing with a lot of my own fears about life. The circle of my life is half over and I find myself asking “Am I living life that fulfills my dreams? Is my day filled full of ingredients that bring me joy and meaning to fulfill those dreams? Or am I living a life based on someone else’s ideas of how I should perform, perfect and please?” I’m scared. Can I stand on my own two feet without my parents? I feel abandoned just thinking about it. I knew that they wouldn’t be in my life forever and that I’ve had them in my life longer than most already, however I still really appreciate them in my life and look to them for support in trying times. Have I made peace with my parents over past hurts, do they know how much I love and appreciate the life that they sacrificed to give me? My kindred spirit of my sibling… how he gets me without even saying anything. Even though I’m the oldest and there is 6.5 years between us we have this deep connection. When I’m in my full-on shame sequence (mean and nasty rather than feeling hurt, acknowledging I’m hurt and choosing to not hurt back) he lets me know that I don’t have to be the perfect, older, uptight sister. I can be the imperfect me. He reminds me that I have “worth” even with my imperfections (which he happily reminds me of my weirdness). He always ends the conversation no matter how heated it gets with “I love you. PMA (positive mental attitude) kid”. What will I do without this support in my life? During this time I’m asking myself how I balance being a business owner, mentor, wife, daughter, care giver, friend, sister, aunt, daughter in-law, granddaughter, etc.
This entire circle of life stuff makes me want to hold onto my husband more, to cherish the times we have together and to live our life now. He has been working out of town more than ever during the last four years and all I long for is to go back to the life that we had when we lived together every day. When I think of how things were when they were going really well… it had all the ingredients: sleeping next to each other, working out together, family walks, healthy food, cooking together, time off together, weekends away, going to church together, being present with each other, a sense of control over our money, supporting our family together, working but working at a pace that didn’t consume us, time to putter, time for entertaining friends, time to hang out reading and chatting with each other, daily hugs, intimacy, working on home improvement projects together, dreaming, being there for each other, etc. To me, this is joy! Somehow, there became an accomplishment list that had nothing to do with making our life fuller. We get along better when we spend more time together. We both have a tendency to go into “protections” of over-busying ourselves, going silent and building up walls when we are apart. When we are together we talk a lot, we love a lot, and we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, which creates more connection between the two of us. Every day I have a practice of gratitude to remind myself of three things that I’m grateful for. Brene Brown has opened me up to an idea to take this further. She calls it the T.G.I.F.

• Something I’m trusting in-“T,”
• What I’m grateful for -“G,”
• What inspires me -“I” and
• How am I practicing my Faith -“F.”
I think I’d add an “H” to this. What did I do for my health today?-“H.”
TGIF+H

After 18 wonderful years of connection and togetherness my husband very coldly, in an unkind and non-healing way told me on January 27, 2015 that he wanted a divorce. That he felt after working away for these past few years that he felt disconnected from me, animosity toward me, pushed out and undervalued. He so coldly said “I’m Done! I have a couple of things to take care of here in MI and see to completion. Once these things are done, I’m out.” In doing this, it gives him back his sense of control. He realizes this is a selfish decision and that leaving allows him to not try his hardest. Even though we talked on the phone three times a day, spent weekends together etc. it still wasn’t “doing life” together. I couldn’t see what he was struggling with. That he was trapped in his head in this dark, cold place… not letting the light shine in. Brene Brown “the dark does not destroy the light; it define it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” He hadn’t recovered from losing his business, the loss of our home, the loss of the life that we had dreamt of and created. We had worked hard together to build a life. One with a six-month emergency fund, complete insurance coverage, 2.5 cars, the big house with a 2 car garage, a rental property, savings… you know, all those things that your parents dream of for you. Now, for the first time, we were living paycheck to paycheck, worried about what was coming next. He seems stuck there.

I am devastated by this declaration that he has made. I literally went into physical shock that lasted days. I cried. I felt lost, shocked and scared. I didn’t see this coming; neither did our friends and family. His decision affects not only my life but those of our families too. After 18 years we are part of each other’s families’ fabric; maybe even more-so because Nick and I have always prioritized each other’s families’ right from the start. Family, Us, Faith and then everything else came after that.

With the work that I do I thought, “Wow. Kim, how did you mess this up? How did you not see this coming? How did you not recognize that his procrastination is his itty-bitty-shitty-committee of “I am unworthy?” Procrastination is one way to keep us from getting where we say we want to go. He has been away berating himself, making himself out to be a bad person. He was surprised that I wasn’t happy about his request for divorce. That instead, I was devastated. He thought I would actually thank him. I had moved past this traumatic storm in our life but he had not. I thought we had grown stronger and moved on together but he was still stuck right there as if the day had just happened. Happiness is tied to circumstance and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude. Joy and happiness come and go in our life. It isn’t a constant. In other words, no one ever feels joy and happiness all of the time. To me marriage is two imperfect people that never give up on each other. To me our marriage is a joyful marriage; one filled full of moments gracefully strung together by moments that we created… moments of trust, moments of gratitude, moments of inspiration, moments of faith, moments of ordinary life and moments of darkness. But with the other’s support we allowed light to bring joy again. Yes, sometimes we missed opportunities of joy because we were too busy chasing an extraordinary moment but it is in the simple moments that I find our love.

So, by now you’re thinking, “Wow. This is a bit heavy (and a bit of a vent session) because I don’t see how it affects my health and movement practice.” Well, I believe that courage has a ripple effect. That when we are vulnerable and choose courage it is a language that others can understand, it makes the world a little braver and kinder. How would you describe your relationships with yourself, your loved ones or the friendships in your life? Take a moment and describe the people you are closest with and don’t use the default: “Things are great!”
We have all experienced seasons in our life where we feel alone or separated from others. A quick search on Facebook or YouTube and all you see are everyone’s highlight reel and not the muck that they walked through to get that highlight reel. It sets us up for expectations that aren’t reality. If we aren’t careful, our subtle beliefs overtime will allow us to drift away from the people that matter most to us. This same subtle belief system happens with our health too. You don’t enter into relationships with others with a plan to hurt them. Your parents didn’t raise you with a plan that you would require talk-therapy for the rest of your life to overcome your childhood traumas. You didn’t become an adult and think “I’m going to start treating my body poorly so that I will live an unhealthy life later.” but we do, don’t we?

Relational pain doesn’t come from our enemies, it comes from those that we are closest to, including ourselves. So I started asking myself this question. “How does a love that starts so good between Nick and I end so distant and far away?” How does our love for our body start out so full of life and end so detached and ungrateful for its wonders?

I love Brene Brown (I also met her at the Global Leadership Summit when she spoke on her book Dare Greatly – great book you should read it. Mine is dog eared with wine stains on it. lol). She states that “we are hardwired biologically, cognitively, physically and spiritually to love, to be loved and to belong.” We have a deep sense to belong to and be loved and without it we are a mess. To take this one step further through self-acceptance… the heart of compassion is acceptance. Hopefully I’m not alone here when I say it is easier for me to accept and forgive others than it is for me to accept and forgive myself. Several years back in my yoga journey it was required reading for me to study Deb Adele’s book Yama and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practices. I carried this book around in my handbag for over a year. It was eye opening. I wasn’t as loving, compassionate, forgiving and kind as I thought I was because I can only give to others what I first can give to myself. Darn! I had more work to do than I thought I did. As uncomfortable as it is to work on myself because of the sense of vulnerability that it brings; to me it is worth the journey because when I lean into my fear and relax into my fear, I come out lighter and free!

One of the lessons that I’ve learned in being a business owner is that I had to set up boundaries around my personal practice time. For example, my evening shift of clients know that the door may be locked when they arrive because I’m doing my meditation and that if they quietly wait in the hallway I will greet them five minutes before their scheduled time. My morning shift of clients know that they may hear voices in the studio but the door will be locked because I’m taking a skype lesson from my mentor or it could be quiet while I give myself a lesson. I had to teach those around me that I needed my movement practice to be respected as much as theirs. I had boundaries in my relationships prior to the relationship that I had with my husband and I even had boundaries for my husband when we were dating but somewhere after we got married I let those boundaries go. Without boundaries for others and holding those around us accountable for their behavior we can’t be compassionate. Instead we fall into blame and anger. For me at least, I think the reason I don’t set boundaries and accountability standards in my marriage and in my family is that I’m lazy, I’m tired, I’m busy, I don’t want to have to follow through because it seems like one more task in my over-scheduled life. Now, I’m thinking it would have been easier to set boundaries and accountability because it would have been more compassionate and respectful. This is one of my imperfections that I’ve learned to honor in my delay. I have a delay in learning things, in seeing the “Ah-Ha” most of the time because I want to see what I want to see. When I fail to set boundaries and hold those around me accountable I feel used and mistreated. If I’m really living a mindful life that encompasses being accepting and compassionate then I need to set boundaries and accountability standards in all areas of my life.

Another book that was required reading in my yoga journey was by Daniel Goleman Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships he talks about how we are hardwired for connection and that our relationships shape our biology as well as our experiences. My husband and I are natural introverts and learned extroverts. We have default settings to want to do things alone. When we do things together we laugh, we have more joy in life and we feel connection, belonging and love. Brene Brown’s research indicates that we need to let go of the myth of self-sufficiency because it is the greatest barrier to connection. As a society we almost boast about not needing anyone’s help, going it alone is more success, we are reluctant to reach out and accept a helping hand and we are scared to offer a helping hand to others. I like this quote from Brene Brown in her book The Gifts of Imperfections: “Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.” We need to make conscious choices on how we do life, how we practice courage, compassion and connection because it is affecting our health, our cells, and our body does speak our mind. We cannot experience the fullness of life in isolation from others or our higher power. Don’t wait to be the “perfect you” before you start to work on your health. It is okay to ask for a helping hand from an integrative fitness professional.

You don’t have to be perfect. It is okay to say, “This isn’t a strong area of my life. Can you help me?” Here are some of my favorite MBB secrets…
• We work with the “de-conditioned” primarily. We work side by side with them to encourage them to “conditioned” in a way that suits their personality and pace with a few gentle nudges and maybe one or two introspective questions to help them find their way.
• We see fewer “conditioned” people than you’d expect looking for more accountability and direction in their personal workout. MBB loves being challenged by this type of athlete hoping to find the “next level” through mind, body, and inner spiritual training.
• Being “thin” does not make you “conditioned;” it makes you thin. Many (most?) thin people have limited strength and need exercise to build the necessary muscle to move their tiny frames around and hold their bones correctly in place. Bones are held in place by muscle. The entire torso is held in place by the body’s core. The spinal column is mainly just bony protection for the spinal cord; it’s muscles that keep your back “in.”
• Having an elevated BMI does not necessarily mean you’re “deconditioned,” it means you have an elevated BMI.

Many people of larger mass have great strength and general physical health but need exercise to maintain their level of fitness or increase their level of flexibility. Healthy and generally fit people also use MBB for our other services such as “Intuitive Eating” or “You Can Fix You” personal energy/ lifestyle modification.
Love (whether you feel this or not) is a direct link to your belief in your worthiness of you. When my husband said he was not worthy of my love my heart sank and a deep sadness went through my entire being. When I hear clients say that they are not worthy of self-nurturing through sustainable movement practices I feel deep empathy. I like the definitions for love and belonging that Brene Brown has developed so I will share them here now:

Love: We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, and connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them—we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and repaired.

Belonging: Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Loving and accepting others for their imperfections is much easier on us than turning the light of loving-kindness on ourselves. I believe love is a choice. It takes work and it is a choice that we make for ourselves. The phrase “Falling in Love” seems superficial to me. It is a choice for me to love all of me… my authentic, imperfect self. It is a choice for me to love others. When our self-talk doesn’t honor us it takes a toll on our self-love on our self-compassion, it shows up in our relationships with others, and it shows up in our health. Our body shows us what is happening in our emotional body. To feel shame is human, it is a painful feeling and it says that we are flawed and unworthy of love and belonging. We need to start getting to the root causes of unworthiness, shame, blame and our fears because they aren’t serving our best self. I feel that if we have the courage to be vulnerable, to slow down, to be able to sit in the “uncomfortable of ourselves” and to bravely reach out to others with a helping hand our world will become a world of love and peace rather than a world of hate and anger. We need to stop pretending that everything is okay and that we need to change to be accepted. We need to love ourselves as we are so that others can love us. We are a society living on scarcity, hungry for joy and starving from a lack of gratitude. We need to decide what is enough for us; choose gratitude and sufficiency.

My husband asked me to read his Chakras and he is blocked in his 2nd, 3rd and 5th chakra’s with is 4th out of shape. Basically, the reading was saying that he is living in shame, guilt, believing and telling lies. His 2nd chakra is lacking perspective and closed to the bigger picture of divine. His 3rd chakra is attempting to create health or balance by processing or clearing negative energy. His 4th chakra is oriented toward unconscious programming, emotions and right brain creativity but lacking action and follow-through. His 5th chakra is damaged from previous overuse, exhaustion, fatigue, blocks, strongholds unhealthy attachments between beliefs and feelings and probably repressed memories or feelings. The rest of his chakras are healthy and balanced.

Faith is a mystery, were we find courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty. My chakras are struggling in 3rd and 6th with my 2nd being mis-shaped. I struggle with shame and intuition/ illusions. My 2nd chakra is attempting to create health or balance by processing/ clearing negative energy. My 3rd chakra is closed. Function is shut down and I am working on looking for a block that is causing the present issue. My 6th chakra is under-functioning and must be cleared and open. The rest of my chakras are healthy and balanced. I have to learn to say “I’m feeling vulnerable right now. I’m scared, hurt and that’s okay. I’m grateful for this opportunity to …..” Intuition is not a way of knowing it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge, insight, instinct, experience, faith and reason.

Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.” Shame is about who we are. Guilt is about our behaviors. Guilt is just as powerful as shame but guilt usually has positive effects while shame is destructive. Shame corrodes our belief system that we can change and do better. When we are full of shame (or the fear of shame) we are more likely to engage in disruptive behaviors and to attack or shame others. When we parent by shaming children we teach children that they are inherently unworthy of love. Fear plays a powerful role in our lives and underlines every relational conflict we have. Fear is our undercurrent that drives our Cortisol levels up. It pre-loads our body with adrenaline and sends us into flight/flight mode. Cortisol levels that are unbalanced lead to weight gain, fatigue, sex drive is down; crave unhealthy foods, hard time sleeping, etc. Cortisol also shuts down a hormone called oxytocin which is known as our bonding chemical or relational hormone or the cuddle hormone. When fear is present in our life and cortisol is in charge because we are over stressed we lose our ability to connect with others because oxytocin isn’t being made. If we aren’t connecting with others we aren’t feeling a sense of belonging and love and so our life goes into the crapper because our needs aren’t being met. We break, we fall apart, we numb, we hurt others, we get sick, we overeat, etc.

According to Rick Warren fear causes three things to happen:

1. Distance! When fear is present in our life it causes us to create distance. We distance ourselves from people because we are afraid of being vulnerable so we keep everybody away. We hold those that love us at arm’s length. It is hard for you to belong or get involved because you feel shame and unworthiness should others realize your life isn’t perfect. Where perfectionism exists shame is always lurking. Perfectionism is not self-improvement so a belief system of “I am what I accomplish and how I accomplish it.” is dangerous. A healthy system is “How I can improve?”

2. Defensive! Fear of failure or people disapproving of who we are sets us into a defensive mode. “What will others think?” So we start pointing at everyone else’s problems and faults in some twisted way to validate our own life. We fall into judgment, blame and shaming which creates more distance and not the connection that we are craving. Perfectionism is an unattainable goal and is a self-destructive and addictive believe system.

3. Demanding! We get demanding when we are afraid. Our shoulders come up, our heart sinks back because we are trying to gain control. When we are demanding we lose control and don’t get what we want. We place demands, controls and expectations on the people around us in an effort to feel in control. Perfectionism hampers success.

When we get Distant, Defensive and Demanding we ruin our relationships. The paradox of fear is that we are afraid of something but we can’t let go of our fear because we are convinced that if we do we are going to lose something that is valuable to us. The reality is fear will destroy our relationships. Nick admits that he is making his decision for divorce based on fear, afraid and unworthiness. I admit that I’m addicted to him, to us and that I need to work on shame myself. We base our lack of choosing health and self-care on those same things fear, shame, blame and unworthiness. The only fear we are born with is the fear of falling. Fear will destroy our relationships with others and ourselves. Fear under the surface has destroyed relationships with the people closest to you. I’ve recently discovered Dr. Kristin Neff research on self-compassion she says that self-compassion has three elements self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. She even has a quiz you can take to see how your are doing with self-compassion on her website www.self-compassion.org
Ben Snyder says love is a choice:

• L = Leaning into the relationship, initiate and engage. DO NOT DISTANCE – REAL LOVE LEANS IN! Lean into your support of loved ones. Do not run away. Don’t let time, work, busy, internet, take you away – Let’s connect – Let’s lean in! When we serve/ volunteer we organically get to connect with others. When we lean in we transform our relationships and we are given an opportunity to create new friendships and self-compassion.

• O = Offer to help. Meet a real need for someone today. Give of yourself to help someone else without anything in return. Offer Deep Value by living a life filled full of love. Be uncomfortable with sacrifice to help others. Give others your undivided attention, listen, be truthful, joyful, offer financial support if you can. Give first and offer a helping hand to transform your relationships. Remember you must be able to receive in order to give.

• V= Value! YOU ARE WORTHY! YOU ARE LOVEABLE! YOU ARE VALUABLE! Demonstrate with words, deeds and actions. When was the last time you told the people in your life how valuable they are to you? Busted! Busy? Assumed? I can tell you this: I knew that I took my wonderful life and relationship with my husband for granted I assumed it would always be there and that he knew how I felt. I was working on a book titled “What I love About You Is” when he made his announcement of wanting a divorce. I plan to finish it and still gift it to him. The hardest part of finishing this book is that there is so much to say. Find something specific to say in how they have impacted your life. There are no excuses because in this digital age you have a lot of options to make this happen: facebook, texting, twitter, email, letters, drive, skype so many options. Lean in and value your relationships!

• E= Endure! Mistakes are made. We are imperfect. Forgive, stay connected, be patient. We all sin, we can be rebellious, apathetic, we make foolish choices, we push people away when we really want them to hug us. Continue to endure. LOVE WINS! YOU ARE ENOUGH! Love never gives up, love never loses faith and it is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. We don’t fall in love, we choose love! Do you choose to love yourself? Do you choose to love your body? Do you choose to love those closest to you? When things get hard people quit because they don’t love themselves anymore… because it doesn’t feel the same in their relationships. Sometimes we need a breakdown to have a huge breakthrough and on the other side is a deeper level of relationship. Some of you are thinking of giving up, distancing yourself again. Please hear the message in this blog. It is okay to endure. Have the courage to be brave, to be vulnerable and to accept a helping hand. Get clear, lean in and create something deeper in your relationship with others and yourself.

It is scary but lean in. See what the response is. Lean in. Have the courage to lean in – in the back of your mind behind the silent walls and distance – reconnecting is what we are looking for – family – even if at the time it isn’t the choice that has been made – make a choice to try something different so you feel something different – choose to go, to listen, no expectations, participate in counseling, in a support group. Choose to Lean in, Engage, Date again. Your out can be your opportunity to re-engage, reform your marriage, your life, your spirituality, your health. Fill in the broken pieces. Allow this breakdown to be a foundation to rebuild stronger. You will be grateful for it. We only live once. Lean in, Offer Value, Endure the season! Don’t let the moment pass – Stay Connected.

When we have spirituality, we have connection when we lack spirituality the entire “how to’s” and best laid plans won’t fulfill us. Spirituality is listening to the quietest voice within us. Brene Brown defines spirituality as “recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.” Love when we are connected with ourselves and our higher power/ spirituality we stop laying the expectations of our life and our relationships on others because our heart has satisfaction and love from something greater than ourselves. When we are disconnected here with our spirituality we set everybody up in our life to fail us – because we can’t receive the love we need.

The reason you have a hard time in relationships is because:
• You have forgotten that you are worthy
• You are having a hard time believing
• You’ve distanced yourself

It is time to expel fear, to connect, to feel your value. Lean in and receive! If you are done living by yourself, if you’ve been alone for far too long, if you want love in your life then ask for courage to lean in, extended a helping hand so that you may receive a helping hand, find strength in courage, connection and compassion.
Hope is not an emotion, it is a way of thinking. Hope is a thought process. Hope happens in our life when we set realistic obtainable goals, we figure out how to achieve those goals, are flexible in developing alternative routes when needed and we believe in ourselves. Martin Luther King Jr. gives a good definition of power “Power is the ability to effect change.” Being hopeful is tough, “This is uncomfortable but I can do it if I have hope and that means setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them and believing in my abilities.” Hope is learned. Love is a choice. Health is a choice.

You have a choice to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. Mind Body Balance is an emotionally and physically safe place to explore living mindfully. Stop and check in with yourself right now. What are you thinking? Is it true? If it is a thought of unworthiness, anger, hurt or fear how do you think it will come back to you? I believe love heals all hurts! I hope for you, my husband and myself that we can recognize our patterns, our default messages, to change our attitudes toward the past, to stop punishing ourselves and others with our words, deeds and actions, to forgive others for not being the way we wanted them to be because forgiveness sets us free. Be brave enough to tell those that you love and care about around you that you are going to work on the health of your mind, body and spirit, that you will do your work of improving your self-acceptance and self-compassion and invite them to theirs so that your relationships will transform because in upgrading you… it ripples out to those you love and beyond. Love Wins!

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