Blog Posts

Habit Change, Mindset

I’m lazy, and you should be lazy too

When you want to make a change in your life, do you have a tendency to go balls-out? For example, going from not lifting weights at all to going to “I’m going to start lifting weights 4 days a week for an hour each day.”  Or “Starting this week I am going to plan, prep, and cook ALL of my meals at home!” (when you typically eat out 3-4 times per week).
 
I am one of the aforementioned humans.  I have a tendency to overestimate my motivation and drive, and as a result, I go like gang busters for a few days, or even maybe a few months, and then I peter out and return to my original set point.
 
My friend and teacher Dinneen Viggiano had a great newsletter about “MVA”  Minimum Viable Amount.  She verbalized something I have noticed but ignored when it comes to my own life – even though I know “X” is super good for me and will help me become the person I want to be, if “X” is hard, boring and/or time-consuming, I will do it for a bit and then give up.  And then I will feel bad about giving up. And that will make me even LESS motivated to do ANYTHING – even something small – to improve my wellbeing.  And thus begins a pity party that ends with me wondering who do I think I am and why do I think I am qualified to help ANYONE improve their life.  Things get dark pretty quickly in Heather-Head-Land.
 
Dineen offers a solution to this nip this negativity spiral in the bud:

  1. Start out doing something that you seriously think you would honestly really do.
  2. Do it regularly for a while and see how you feel (see how your pain responds).
  3. Start to pare it back a bit and see if you still feel benefits while doing the smaller amount.
  4. If you get to a tipping point where the pain starts to return, titrate back to the slightly higher dose.

Here is how I am implementing this advice in my own life:

  • I am working on getting my low back feeling better, and I know that working on my breathing would help.
  • I worked with an Athletic Trainer awhile back who gave me several breathing exercises to do.  I was supposed to do them 2-3 times a day, and they take about 15 minutes each time.  I kinda did them for a while, and then, well, you know.  I humaned and stopped.
  • SO, I am starting with doing 2 minutes of Constructive Rest whilst breathing from my diaphragm every night before I go to bed.  Two minutes is so easy that I have a hard time convincing myself that it’s a burden.
  • I’m finding that at the end of the 2 minutes, I often have started to relax and breathe more deeply and I want to go longer, but I’m not!  I’m just doing 2 minutes until I feel as if the habit is ingrained.

Now that I type it all out, I’m kind of following Dineen’s advice backwards.  I am using a “tiny little action step” to build the habit, and then assessing the effects, so I can potentially do more, but the overall gist is the same:


FIND THE DOSAGE THAT YOU WILL ACTUALLY DO AND THAT ACTUALLY EFFECTS SOME CHANGE IN YOUR SYSTEM, AND DO IT CONSISTENTLY.


If you are overwhelmed, bored, or frustrated with your exercise plan, maybe you could experiment with doing a little less and see if a smaller dose will get you the same results.  I think it’s a universal truth that doing less and doing it mindfully and consistently is better for our mindbodies.

Lastly, I want to put in a little plug for a fundraiser for the QC Yoga Foundation.  This is a local non-profit organization that is trying to bring yoga to as many people in our community as possible.  They (or maybe I should say “we” because I’m on the Board) are hosting a super fun event on 7/9/22 called Fireflies and Flowers.  Music, tasty food, flowers, mid-summer vibes, picnic, and connection to your community – what more could you ask for??

If you are interested, you can “Buy a Blanket” of 8 tickets here or individual tickets here.  I would love to see you there!  I am trying to put together a group of 8, so we can get a blanket.  Let me know if you’re interested.

Space to be Human Lab

  • If you have a family member, friend, or coworker who has been sidelined by pain or tension, I would be so grateful if you refer them to me, so we can see how massage, meditation, and movement can get them back to doing what they love.  For every Referral who books with me, you get a coupon for $10 off your next session!  Your friend can find more information about Space to be Human here.

I hope you are having a delightful Sunday and can find some space to do nothing and be okay with it.  🙂
 
<3

Hlo
 
Newsletter signup
If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here

Uncategorized

A Break from routine

Good morning!  Perhaps you noticed that I didn’t send out a newsletter last week.  The Sunday got away from me, honestly, as Sundays have a tendency to do.  This Sunday, at 7:50AM, is already wriggling, slippery, and cunningly trying to bolt, so I’m going to try to catch it while I can.

I wanted to share with you a theme that’s been surfacing in the ether – that of the necessity of breaking from routine (um, maybe that’s why I skipped a week of newslettering last week…).

Having good routines and habits can be SO useful and beneficial.  When we can just follow the same path every day, we don’t have to expend precious energy on redeciding every moment.  We don’t have to decide to brush our teeth, we don’t have to decide which roads to take to work, we don’t have to stop and think, “what’s my password” when we unlock our phone.  We just run the program and effortlessly  and unconsciously do most of these things.

But, have you noticed how a whole day can go by, and you weren’t really there for it?  Your teeth are brushed, but did you notice how fresh and clean your mouth felt?  You arrived at work, but did you notice the magnolia tree on the corner that looks as if it popped right out of a Japanese woodblock print?  You’ve unlocked your phone a bazillion times, but did you ever once notice the ridiculous cuteness of your puppy pic on the lock screen?

Habits and routines, while saving us energy, do so by putting us in a well-worn rut.  And often times the secret to changing our pain experience lies in breaking out of that rut and TRYING SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

When we do something new, our brain wakes up and takes notice.  It comes online and starts to recalculate the massive amounts of input constantly streaming it.  Different inputs mean different outputs.  And guess what – PAIN is a an output from your brain.

I listened to a really interesting podcast Mindful Strength: Why Strength Training Helps this week.  Kathryn Bruni-Young and Nikki Naab-Levy are two cutting-edge fitness professionals who incorporate current biopsychosocial pain research into their fitness programming.  In this podcast they talk about how important strength training is, especially for people who are super mobile and stretchy.  They also talk about how important it is to break up the routine of strength training – the body is SUPER adaptable, so you need to constantly be throwing new stuff at it.  From a strength-training perspective this can look like:

  • Changing the tempo of your lifts.
  • Pausing at the top or bottom of your lifts.
  • Changing the number of reps and sets.
  • Taking rest days when your body is like, “NOPE.”
  • Changing the position in which you lift (e.g. instead of always doing pushups with your hands directly under shoulders, experiment with setting your hands super wide, or with one hand close to your shoulder and one hand really far away, or with your fingers pointing in different directions, etc.).

When you play and explore like this, not only are you sending some new and attention-grabbing stimulus to your ol’ brain pan, but you are building strength in a variety of positions – meaning that when you need to crouch down on all fours and reach waaaaay far under the dresser to grab your baby’s wubba, your shoulders and wrists will be like, “Hey. I gotchyou.  We’ve trained for this.”

A side benefit of breaking the routine is that you start to notice your days, you start to have more fun, life gets more interesting.  What could you do to nudge your way out of ruts that are no longer taking you where you want to go?  An easy thing to play with is to try to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.  Give it a go and watch your body be utterly confused about how to accomplish this simple task.  And notice how HARD it is to resist the urge to go back to using your dominant hand.  That urge to return to comfort is insanely strong and persuasive.

If you need help in figuring out how to add some novelty to your workouts, I really recommend the Mindful Strength Membership.  It’s $35/month (CAD), and you get a really interesting and fun assortment of classes – yoga, restorative yoga, strength training, crawling, etc.  The crawling classes are super fun and super challenging. The weird stuff is always more fun. J 

Space to be Human Lab

  • If you are in pain and are interested in exploring how some new inputs (organ massage, cranial mobilizations, movement, breath, cupping, etc.) could affect your output of pain come see me!
  • Hours:  Monday and Friday 2PM-5PM; Tuesday and Thursday 2PM-7PM.  Occasional Saturdays from 8AM-12PM.

I hope you are having a bonkers good Sunday and can do just ONE small thing that could shift your experience today.

<3


Hlo

Newsletter signup

If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here

Uncategorized

And your foot bone is connected to your…belly bone?

Mobilizing the liver

I took Friday off work.  I had a few errands I wanted to run, a corporate yoga class I wanted to draft up, and a day off just sounded super nice.

I looked forward to it all week.  I was super excited on Thursday.

And then Friday came.  And Oh Boy.

All this free space, all these To Dos.  Where should I start? What should I do?  Should I be productive?  Should I relax?  Should I clean the house?  Should I chuck the whole list to the wind and just hang out with Huehue?  Doesn’t a living being deserve more attention  than updating my check register?? SO OVERWHELMING.

What did I do?  I know you’re on the edge of your seat.

I did the One Thing I really had to do for the day – I wrote a super spiffy yoga class for my corporate client (I am calling the class “Undo The Cube(icle)” which just truly tickles me.  And then I kinda just floated with the day. 

I got my nails done and had a great conversation.

I took a bath and tested out whether meditating in the bath tub gives me super powers like when Eleven used her powers in  the sensory deprivation tank in Stranger Things.  (I don’t think it did, but it was just Try No. 1).

I took a walk and listened to a podcast.  And in the podcast I heard a Chinese saying from Martha Beck that struck me:

“When nothing is done, nothing remains undone.”

Ahhh.  So I don’t have to push and get it all done.  I can just do what I choose to do, and that is OK. It is possible to have peace – again by changing how I look at things instead of changing my circumstances.

And with that, I’m choosing to just rest a bit more on my deck, read a fiction book (Mists of Avalon), and quit f@cking trying so hard.

Space to be Human Lab

  • The Feet Belly Connection – As part of my LTAP class, I’ve learned assessments that provide clues as to which organs could use some massage, movement, or focused attention. Why is this so cool??

This is super cool because your muscles main job is to protect your organs.  Yeah – they also move your body around, but job numero uno is organ protection.  Organs are vital to this.  This means, that when you have a pain in your what feels like your muscles, it could actually be stemming from your organ!  Isn’t this list of referrals interesting??

  • Liver- right shoulder, neck, sciatica
    • Stomach- left shoulder, mid-back
    • Small intestine- mid-back, low back, feet
    • Colon- hips, sciatic
    • Kidney- knee, hip, feet
    • Bladder, Prostate, Bladder, Uterus- Sacrum, hips
  • Come see me if you’re interested in exploring how your organs could be factoring in to your pain experience!

I hope your weekend was full of the sun kissing your cheeks and the wind playing with your hair.

<3


Hlo

Newsletter signup

If you would like to sign up to get these hilarious and helpful posts sent to you directly, please click here

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

Mind Over Tension (aka Jedi Mind Tricks)

Hiya.  Care to get a little curious?

Where are you breathing right now?  Is the air coming in through your nose or your mouth?  What is the temperature of the air?  Where do you feel your body move with the inhale and the exhale – your shoulders, your ribcage, your shoulders, all of the above?  What happens if you just notice?  Just notice the breath coming in and going out, like ocean waves sliding up a sandy beach and slowly retreating back to the deep.  Perhaps you would like to start to slow down the breath, taking looooong sloooow sips of air.  What do you notice next?

I’m curious about your eyes. What happens if you take a pause from reading this, look up, and let your eyes gaze on something in the far distance – the furthest thing you can see without straining.  How does that feel?  If you invite your eyes to take in more of your surroundings – start to notice what arrives at your eyes from the periphery, how does that change your experience of your eyes?

And what about that belly?  I invite you to take a moment and just notice if you are holding your breath, holding your belly, bracing.  What shifts within you, if you allow yourself to soften in this area, maybe even inviting the breath to sink down low and expand the low belly?  How does that feel?

And the hands, and the fingers – are they clenched tightly around your phone as you read this, are they resting in little tight fists on your lap?  What if you tried to hold your phone with just the SKIN of your fingertips?  What would it be like to slowly uncurl each little bone of each long elegant finger and allow the fingers and palms to rest with ease on your thighs?  What is it like if you imagine bringing more space into the INSIDE of your hand, like inside the fingers and inside the palms?

How do you feel after a few minutes of exploring your inner world?  Did you notice a shift in your overall tension?  Your mood?  The pace of the hamster wheel of thought-generation?

We’ve been taught, since the time of Rene Descartes, that “I think, therefore I am,” insinuating that there is some sort of separateness between the mind and the rest of us.  We now know due to reams of research that the mind and body are not separate.  As human beings, we are a mindbody.  Our thoughts effect changes in our body, and our body effects changes in our thoughts.  Perhaps you noticed how your thoughts helped your body feel more calm, ease, and expansiveness?

Our minds have a documented “negativity bias” which means we are always scanning for the bad, what could go wrong, how things could fail.  This has kept humans alive so far, so it’s a vital predisposition, but it can make for a shitty lived experience!  We can consciously work with this negativity bias, by inviting in the opposite thought – give equal airtime (or maybe even MORE –  research recommends a 3:1 ratio) to scanning for the good, thinking about what could go right, how things could succeed.

How are your thoughts contributing to your tension?  How could they contribute to more ease, flow, and space instead?  Just some food for thought on this day of Rebirth.  Maybe we could give birth to a mindset that helps us find more Space to be Human.

Space to be Human Lab (where we invite in an attitude of exploration, experimentation, and curiosity)

  • NEW FACE CRADLE: The reviews are in “It’s so soft!”  “It’s so comfortable!” “My face isn’t smushed.”  Yay for the new cradle!
  • NEW LTAP ASSESSMENTS:     I am taking a 6 week online class on Locator Test Assessment Protocols (LTAP) to learn how to listen to the body and use its wisdom to guide treatment.  If this piques your interest, let me know.  During April I’ll add 10 minutes to your session at no charge, and we’ll see what the Assessments tell us about what your body needs.

And with that we are heading off to Armored Gardens for some lunchy poo.  Also, if you don’t currently get the Tap On It texts, I highly recommend it.  This week we got a coupon for BOGO draft beers at Armored Gardens.  I mean, I don’t drink beer (Hellllooo bloated belly), but that’s a really good coupon. J

Newsletter signup

If you would like to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

Confessions of a Wounded Healer

Pain is weird.  In a nutshell, that is about all that Science and Experience (and my personal N=1 experiment) knows for sure.  This becomes especially true when you get into chronic pain territory, meaning if you have persistent pain that lasts longer than 3-6 months.

And guess what.

I have chronic pain.

I’ve had persistent low back pain for ages.  I remember going to physical therapy for it when I was working at HNI in Muscatine.  Let’s see, that was…15 years ago.  So, yup, I am in chronic pain territory.

It’s embarrassing to admit that, as a massage therapist, yoga teacher, and studier of the human mindbody and condition, I have been unable to resolve my own main complaint.  I’ve seen PTs, chiropractors, the founder of neurosomatic therapy, myofascial release specialists, acupuncturists, functional medicine docs, yoga therapists, breath specialists.  You name it; I’ve likely tried it. 

Does it help?  Sometimes and for a little bit, yet the pain returns.  And I’m starting to get a sense of why.

  1. I don’t do my homework.  I don’t do my breath exercises, stretches, etc. consistently.
  2. While I KNOW that humans are multidimensional beings, made of physical bodies, but also energy bodies, mental bodies, and spiritual bodies, I still revert to a default belief in a biomechanical model and reliance on Someone Else needs to fix this.  This is amusing to my Higher Self, as my main driver/motivator in doing the work I do is because I want to help others realize their potential to heal themselves via a wholistic mindbody approach.  Oh – THE IRONY!!

And so, as I slowly start to examine my Shadow Self (the side of myself that I don’t REALLY want to look at too closely), I am beginning to realize the strong connection between the low grade low back pain that’s been my constant companion these 15 years, and my habit of living life at Speed.  This speedy living manifests in clenching – tightening up my shoulders, holding my breath while executing tasks, clenching my butt, and not processing feelings/emotions as they arise (I don’t have time to deal with this now; I’ll do it “later” when I “have more time”  and when it’s “more convenient” (meaning never)). 

It’s become evident to me that the reason none of these external therapies have worked is because my habits of daily life (daily clenching), immediately facilitate tension in my back.

I know the work I need to do to feel better.  I need to FEEL BETTER.  Meaning, I need to take the time to notice what is arising within my inner domain, turn toward it with openness, notice exactly WHERE I am feeling it and WHAT it feels like.  It looks something like this:

I feel a sensation like a ball in my throat.  As I watch it, it starts to shift up into the back of mouth and out toward my ears. I say “hi” to it and let it do what it wants to do.  I take a moment to breathe long, slow breaths and the feeling and I just hang out together for a bit.  Sometimes it stays, sometimes it moves on.

I think the secret to unwinding the tension in my back is in unwinding the tension in my emotional and mental layers.  I realize that can sound a bit woo-woo, but there is actual proof that this is true.  The biopsychosocial model of pain indicates that ALL of the following can contribute to our pain experience:

Injuries.  Hormones.  Metabolism.  Neurochemistry.  Nutrition.  Sleep.  Circulation.  Breathing.  Immune functioning.  Personality.  Behaviors.  Age.  Gender.  Race/ethnicity.  Socioeconomic status.  Social network/Relationships.  Life stress.  Treatment satisfaction.  Readiness to return to activities of daily life. Spiritual practices.  Meaning and purpose.  Autonomy/Self-management. Beliefs.  Thoughts.  Our ability to feel our inner state (interoception).

HOW does one go about doing the work of examining and processing their emotional and mental layers?   I work with a life coach, and I’ve also worked with mental health therapists in the past.  I also journal daily and get the stories out of my head and on to paper where they are more obvious and manageable. I meditate to build my “attention muscle,” so that I can get less triggered by my own thoughts.

If you would like to learn more about the different factors that could be contributing to YOUR pain, we can chat about that in your next session. Here are also a couple of interesting and helpful resources.

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW FACE CRADLE: OMG.  I AM SO EXCITED!! Today my new cradle from Oakworks arrived.  It is a specially designed face cradle to reduce pressure on the eyes and sinuses and reduce congestion when you are face down.
  • NEW LTAP ASSESSMENTS:     I am taking a 6 week online class on Locator Test Assessment Protocols (LTAP) to learn how to listen to the body and use its wisdom to guide treatment.  If this piques your interest, let me know.  During April I’ll add 10 minutes to your session at no charge, and we’ll see what the Assessments tell us about what your body needs.

And with that, I’m signing off.  IT IS FINALLY SUNNY!!!!!!!  I hope you can spend some time in the sun and warmth today.

See ya next week, My Peeps!

Newsletter signup

If you have been would like to receive these posts in your inbox, please click here

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

The Golden Shadow; The Good We Hide from Ourselves

Last week we talked about getting to know your shadow.  The term “shadow” just inherently has a negative connotation to it.  Interesting aside – Huehue got spooked by my shadow this morning when I took him out at 4:15AM.  He kept looking intently under our neighbor’s deck, which was starting to really unnerve me, when I realized he was staring at the shadow of me, cast from our other neighbor’s floodlight.  My shadow IS pretty threatening in the wee hours of the morning.

ANYWAY – back to what I was saying, we default to thinking that our shadow is negative or bad. BUT, the shadow is composed of all the parts of ourselves that we didn’t feel safe to display.  And that means that the shadow also contains parts of us that are good and interesting and unique and special. Our “golden shadow” is made up of our gifts and talents and abilities that we suppressed because we were given the impression that they were NOT ok.  Maybe it was our exuberance and liveliness (“Can’t you just be quiet?/Why can’t you NOT set the shed on fire?/Why can’t you be behave?”).  Maybe it was our imagination (“Stop daydreaming.  You’re old enough to get your head down out of the clouds.  Start keeping both feet on the ground.”  Never Ending Story).  Maybe it was our unique perspective on life and God and why we are here (“We look to the Elders/Authorities to tell us what is right and good.  Who do you think you are to question that?  Thinking like that is dangerous”).  Many “positive” qualities can be dismissed, minimized, and rejected, depending on the circumstance we are in and the influential people in our lives.

Sure, our shadow self contains the negative traits we want to hide and ignore, but it also contains the positive traits that we find equally difficult to acknowledge and own.  This “golden shadow” needs to be met and integrated in order for us to return to wholeness.

“We see in others those positive traits which are our very own, but which, for whatever reason, we refuse to allow entry into our consciousness and are indiscernible to us.”  Meeting our Shadow.

Personally, I find it a lot easier to acknowledge and own up to my negative shadow traits than to boldly embrace my golden shadow.  Thinking negatively of oneself is oh so comfortable but oh so ruinous!!

Meeting our Shadow suggests listing the qualities we deeply admire in others and noticing what we think and feel when we use those qualities to describe ourselves.

I deeply admire:

  • People who stay very calm no matter what is blowing up around them.
  • People who try new things and are adventurous.
  • People who are experts in the field of mindbody flourishing.
  • People who don’t gossip about others.
  • People who are authentically generous and not self-centered.
  • People who write beautiful stuff.
  • People who put their energy into making a difference in the world.

And, yep, I feel so much resistance when I think about me emanating those qualities.  As my friend Angela says, “How fascinating!!”

How about you?  Is it easier to acknowledge and accept your dark shadow or your golden shadow?

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW LOCATION: I am now at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232. The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool. 
  • NEW LTAP ASSESSMENTS:     I have started a 6 week online class on Locator Test Assessment Protocols (LTAP).  This class is based on osteopathic and the Barral Institute techniques that teach the therapist how to listen to the body and use its wisdom to guide the therapist on where to start treatment. 

I am excited about this class as it will help me tune in to what your body really needs and use all the fun, interesting, “weird” stuff like visceral massage, cranial mobilizations, and neural resets to address pain in all areas of the body.  It sounds crazy, but sometimes just doing a breath technique can be the key to getting rid of that pain in your big toe!  According to my teacher, starting treatment in the right place is crucial to an effective treatment.

If this piques your interest, and you would like to embrace curiosity with me, let me know.  During April I’ll add 10 minutes to your session at no charge, and we’ll see what the Assessments tell us about what your body needs.

Happy Sunny Sunday!  I hope you can rest and recover.  Here is some inspiration from the Huehue-Monster.

With love,

Hlo

Newsletter signup

If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

Meeting Your Shadow

It’s sunny and warm and summery out today, so in true yogic spirit, I’m bringing in a bit of the opposite – The Shadow.

I first was introduced to The Shadow when I took Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s Yoga for the Mind course last year. Betsy is a psychologist and a yoga teacher, so she brings a really interesting, enlightening integrated perspective that combines yoga philosophy, scientific research, and psychology.  According to her notes, the “Human Self” is made up of the Ego, the Shadow Self, the Inner Child, and the Pain Body.  The Shadow Self is made up of parts we’ve repressed – unconscious parts of ourselves that we see as undesirable.  This is the Mr. Hyde to our Dr. Jekyll.

The Shadow Self seems like something we would want to avoid and push away, but turning the light of our attention to it is actually the key to elevating consciousness.  When we don’t look at what is contained in our shadow, we are not wise to its influence.  We unconsciously project what is hidden in the Shadow onto the people and circumstances around us – blaming others, blaming circumstances, blaming The Other for everything that is wrong in our lives, when in actuality, our perception is inaccurate due to the veil of the shadow through which we are unknowingly peering.

Creating a right relationship with our shadow self not only helps us gain more insight into “Who Am I, really?” but it also can “lead us back to our buried potentials.”  Through “shadow-work” we can develop more self-acceptance, as we are accepting who we really are, not just who we want to be or who we want others to think we are.  “…Only by making friends with the shadow do we gain the friends of the self.”  (Quotes are taken from Meeting the Shadow:  The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature)

Meeting the Shadow suggests an interesting exercise to help you start to get to know your shadow: describe a personality type that you find unbearable and impossible to get along with.    This produces a list of your own repressed qualities.  I did this exercise this morning, and it was quite uncomfortable.  Here is a snippet of my list of qualities I find really annoying:

  • She is confrontational.
  • She is unpredictable, unreliable.  You never know where you stand.
  • She willfully misunderstands.
  • She lacks confidence and needs constant validation.
  • She is sneaky.
  • She talks too much and should listen more.
  • She is a know-it-all.
  • She wants to be care of.

I then took this list and, and pulling a page from Byron Katie’s The Work, substitute “I” for “She.”

  • I need constant validation.
  • I willfully misunderstand
  • I am sneaky.
  • I lack confidence and need constant reassurance
  • I talk too much and should listen more.
  • I am unreliable.
  • I want to be taken care of.

Ugh.  Some of that hit very close to home.  I can see why I find these qualities so annoying, as these are things I least like about myself; the things I have tried to hide and ignore and pretend are not there.  But by bringing these qualities to light and examining them with compassionate acceptance, I can start to integrate my Shadow Self.  “Whatever has been repressed holds a tremendous amount of energy, with great positive potential.” (Meeting the Shadow).  Also, realizing that other people annoy me because of qualities I myself hold helps me be a little bit more patient and kind with them.

What personality type really annoys and frustrates you?  Is there some gold in there for you?

The need to examine The Shadow is a theme that keeps reappearing in a variety of different areas lately (books, Archetype cards, Instagram, podcasts), which usually means it’s a current that’s flowing through others’ minds as well, so I figured I would share this exercise, since I found it uncomfortably insightful.

Also, Huehue, with the advent of the full moon this week and his 9th week of life on this planet, has become the doggo version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  He is all sweetness and puppy kisses one moment, and then BAM – all shark teeth and barking zoomies the next.  It’s super bonkers.

To offset this slightly darker-than-usual post, I am going to share an amazing gluten-free cookie recipe with you:  Coconut Flour CookiesThese cookies are BETTER than the gluttony ones, IMHO, and they are super easy to make. I was going to take a picture of them so that you can see how tasty they look, but they look (and ARE) so tasty, that I ate them before I took the picture.  They are SO GOOD.

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW LOCATION: I am now at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232. The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool.   

Thanks for reading my friends!  If you discover any interesting insights as you do your own shadow work, and you care to share, I care to listen (I DO need to listen more!).

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

On Letting Things be Easy

Do you have anything in your life that you make harder than it has to be?

  • Do you hold your breath while responding to emails?
  • Do you walk super fast from your computer to the bathroom, pee really fast while thinking about the meeting you have coming up, and then speed walk back to your computer to check on the IMs and the emails you missed while you rushed to the bathroom?
  • When it’s cold outside, and you have a jacket and gloves and hat on, do you still hunch your shoulders and clench in an effort to ward of the briskness?
  • When you watch TV, do you also look at your phone, while you are also eating?
  • Do you often lament about how busy life is, and then make more plans, sign up for more classes, buy more books to read some day?

Hopefully this description of my neuroticism doesn’t scare you away.  I share this because I think it may resonate.  I’m not the only Rusher who likes to add some layers of unnecessary tension, must-get-it-done-as-quickly-as-possible-ness, and fabricated urgency to my day.

You know, when you hear the same message from multiple different sources, all within a short time frame, it’s usually a pretty good idea to listen.  The Universe REALLY wants you to take note.

A message that keeps bubbling up from the ether loud and clear is:

Let

It

Be

Easy

This first came up during my Somatic Experiencing training in early February, when our instructor said, “Trauma physiology means people are working really hard.  How do we take off some of that demand?  Consider the possibility of doing less.  Instead of working hard, trust that the information you need will find its way to you.  Let the sights, sounds, smells COME to you.  Allow yourself to receive.  You don’t have to work so hard to learn.”

What??  It doesn’t HAVE to be hard??

And then my coach, week after week, points out how, while I complain about things being hard, I actually set up situations to BE hard.  Being tense, working hard, and striving is my comfort discomfort zone.  She invites me to consider, “How can this be easy?”

  • Can I remember to sit back in my chair and breathe while I respond to emails?
  • Can I take 10 minutes out of my day to just sit and eat, without doing anything else?
  • Can I enjoy the walk from the office to the bathroom, enjoy the sensations of moving my body, enjoy the comfort of being in my home?
  • Can I do LESS instead of more and enjoy the LESS more?

This recommendation to find Ease was also mentioned by the Keynote speaker at the QC YogaCon on Friday night.  During the panel discussion he was asked if had a recommendation for the students for the weekend.  He summed it up in one word, “Ease.”  How can you invite ease into your learning, your practice, your presence with others?

How could you Make It Easier?  How would your life change if you invited in more ease, allowed yourself to receive, and unclenched just a little bit?

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW LOCATION: I am still at Davenport Acupuncture for now, but starting 3/21/22 (HAPPY SPRING!!), I will be located at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232!  The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool. 

Now it’s time for some ease (I’m reading Pride & Prejudice for about the 80th time) and sleep.  Hope you have a beautiful day!

Newsletter signup

If you would like to sign up to get this posts sent to you directly, please click here

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

On Bliss and Ecstasy

Have you ever seen the TV show Firefly?  I may have mentioned this in other posts, but it’s my most favoritist TV show.  The writing is gorgeous, the characters are nuanced, faulty, and real.  The setting (a space western J) lends itself well to investigating lots of salient topics.   It’s a story about a rag tag bunch of humans who, via a beautiful concerto of the Universe, end up together on Serenity, a smuggling ship, flying around the galaxy, doing odd jobs in order to survive and live how they want to live – free.  I say all this to introduce you to the episode “Our Mrs. Reynolds” from which this snippet of dialogue was taken:

Saffron: Do you know the myth of Earth-That-Was?
Wash
: Not so much.
Saffron
: That when she was born, she had no sky, and was open, inviting. And the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her…
Wash
: Huh.
Saffron
: …making the oceans boil with sensation. And when she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky.
Wash
: Whoa. Good myth.

Can you imagine “boiling” with sensation?  What is your relationship with sensation?  When I first watched this episode, this interchange made me feel the sensation of uncomfortable.  Experiencing sensation – hmm – who has time or capacity for that??  Who KNOWS how to do that?  And SHOULD we do that?  Or should we just rely on our juicy brains, plugged into computers and the internet and our phones to live our digital, non-sensual lives?

Well, it turns out that feeling sensation, feeling feelings, is actually a pretty crucial part of being human.  Feelings/emotions are what motivate us to take action, and our actions are what lead to the results we have in life.  I think I was first introduced to this concept with clarity when I started listening to The Life Coach School podcast.  The creator of that podcast, Brooke Castillo, teaches “The Self Coaching Model” which basically states that everything in life can be broken down into 5 categories:

Circumstances – the neutral fact

Thoughts – what we think about that fact (what we make it mean)

Feelings – how those thoughts make us feel

Actions – what we do when we feel that way

Results – what happens due to the actions we take

Well, come to find out, Brooke did not invent this (not that she claims that she invented it).  In fact, the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu text written between 5th – 2nd century BCE, talks about how thoughts, when fed and repeated and nurtured, become desires, then habits, then ways of living.  In order to reach enlightenment, humans need to train their minds to be alike in pleasure and pain, which to me means we need to be able to process emotion – not resist it, not get consumed by it, just experience it all.

When we resist feeling something because it’s uncomfortable to feel it, it constrains our behavior.  We avoid taking action in order to avoid feeling some sort of way.  And while we may think we are just resisting feeling the ugly negative stuff, what seems to happen is that when we can’t feel the tough emotions – the shame and grief, we lose capacity to experience emotions on the other end of the spectrum – the bliss and ecstasy.  It leaves us feeling a bit dull and monochromatic.

I’ve heard from a few different teachers that emotions only last 90 seconds if we ALLOW them to be there.  If we take a moment, pause, and sit down and watch our inner state with an intention of curiosity, acceptance, allowance, then instead of being tamped down and ignored, the emotion and the energy associated with it can pass on through. 

This is a practice I have been working with, because avoiding feeling things is preventing me from doing what I want to do with this life – which is to live it fully and not be so fearful and overly worried all the time!

I offer to a you a few ideas for processing your emotions, in case you too struggle with this.

  1. When I reach for my phone instinctively, I try to pause and notice what I am feeling, or more pointedly, what I am trying NOT to feel by looking at my phone?  For you this could be: reaching for a cookie, or checking email, or even going for a run – there are lots of ways we choose to numb out and not feel.
  2. If I am in a time and place where I can do it, I will set the timer on my phone and take a breather, and just sit and watch what is going on inside.  Where do I feel the sensation?  Does it move anywhere as I look at it?  Does it have a shape?  Does it want to be touched?
  3. I work on this stuff with professionals.  Sometimes I just find it too hard to slow MYSELF down and notice what I’m feeling.  But if I have another human being with me, reminding me to slow down, to take the time to notice, to be there for me if I need help, then I’m more apt to wander into that territory.  I’ve done this work with my business coach (because – oh man – being scared of feeling failure, embarrassment, and rejection is a GREAT way to never get your business off the ground), my therapist, and a few Somatic Experiencing Practitioners.

If you want to explore what it’s like to have someone hold space for you while you notice what is going on in your nervous system, I am offering embodiment coaching sessions.  I offer 30 minute Zoom sessions which consist mostly of guided meditation and conversation where I help you stay present with your sensations.  We start by exploring what feels pleasant in your body, and then we can (depending on your comfort level), start to explore something that feels a bit more challenging just a LITTLE bit.  Then we go back to the pleasant sensation.  I also offer 60-minute in-person sessions which would be customized to you. They could include meditation, self-massage, movement – all practices designed to help you learn the language of sensation in your body and to help you slow down and notice what’s going on in there.  I’ve found that being able to tune in to the subtle messages from my body helps me take better care of myself – I can tell when I need a break, when I need some water, when I need to pee!  I can tell when a decision FEELS right or wrong.  I can tell when I’m starting to get amped up.  It’s a practice, and it takes time and patience, but being able to tune in to the wisdom of the body is critically important to living a life aligned with who you really are!  Here is a link to book with me if this idea floats your boat.

If you are interested in diving in to this topic a bit more, here are some resources for you:

  • The Life Coach School Podcast – Success and Your Feelings – I’ve listened to this one 3 times because it reminds me that while this is hard work, it’s worth it. 
  • I find it SUPER hard to cry, which is a way our body processes emotions.  I watched “The Notebook” but to no avail.  I listened to this guided meditation, and it brought up so many memories of our pooch, Lucent, who passed away several years ago.  It helped me let go of some stuff I’m been holding in for 6-7 years.
  • Expanding your sensation vocabulary can be difficult – you are literally learning a new language!!  Here are some words that might open up new awareness for you:  moving up, constricted, buzzing, opening, warmth, tension, lightness, relaxing, tingling, itching, burning, tightness, achy, frozen, rolling, airy, full, furry, sharp, shimmering, blocked, gurgling, hard, heavy, silky, icy, spacious, clammy, sticky, congested, loose, cool, tender, throbbing, energized, expanding, radiating, light.  Did you know your body could feel al that?

I know I’ve talked about Feeling Feelings before, but I think it’s super important and super difficult to do, so I wanted to share a bit more about it.

Space to be Human Updates

  • LOCATION: I am still at Davenport Acupuncture for now, but keep your eyes peeled for a NEW LOCATION announcement coming soon. 
  • Did you know you can find me on Instagram @space2bhuman?  I’m going to be posting some “tiny little action steps” in March – little things you can do to improve your wellbeing.

Well, I better sign off.  We need to go spend a small fortune at Theisens in order to get ready for Huehue’s imminent arrival!  Hope you have a sensational Sunday!

Newsletter signup

If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here

Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Paleo, Yoga

So, How Did You End Up in This Line of Work, Anyway?

This is a question I get a lot.  How did a woman who spent 25 years in banking, doing a series of analyst and management roles (cash management analyst, treasury analyst, business analyst, Dev Team manager, project manager), end up as a neurosomatic therapist/yoga teacher/meditation teacher?

Well.  Pull up a chair, get comfy, and let me tell you a tale.

It all started on 11/19/2011. Well, technically it started a couple of weeks before that.  I read an article on Lifehacker about “The Primal Diet.”  It immediately caught my interest for a couple of reasons:

  1. I had just come off spending the weekend with my brothers (who lived in NYC at the time), and when they would visit, our intake of booze and fried food would skyrocket.  As a result, I was feeling very bloaty and gross (to put it scientifically :P).  I was pushing 150, which was not a weight that accommodated my clothes comfortably.  I was scouting the internet looking for something to help me.
  2. I loved what I read in that article.  The primal “diet” was really more of a lifestyle versus a diet.  The article advocated eating whole foods (meat and veggies), avoiding processed food (including gluten, sugar, flour, dyes, rancid seed oils, etc.), getting outside as much as possible, prioritizing sleep quality, incorporating “primal movements” (push-ups, planks, pull-ups, squats, etc.), spending time with loved ones, PLAYING, etc.  It all made so much intuitive sense to me.

So I bought The 21-Day Total Body Transformation on 11/19/11.  I read it, followed the instructions to purge the spaghetti, Pepperidge Farm frozen garlic bread (which I used to eat because I assumed that bread was “healthy”), and the beer from my kitchen and stocked up on meat, veggies, nuts, healthy fats (olive oil and avocado oil), dark chocolate, etc..

In January of 2012, I started the 21-day challenge.  Within a week, my nose was no longer shooting fountains of mucus in the middle of the night.  My anxiety levels had calmed WAY down (at the time the anxiety was so bad that I felt as if I would pass out at stop lights, in line at the grocery store, and in any warm area with bad air flow), I was losing weight, and my energy stayed steady all day.

I ended up following the 21-day plan for a few months, and by the 2nd or 3rd month, my health had totally changed.  I had lost about 18 lbs. I went from a size 12 to a size 4.  I participated in a sprint triathlon. I started running regularly in my barefoot running shoes.  I felt so energized. 

My mind was BLOWN by how big of an effect food and movement had on my physical and mental health.  And I wanted EVERYONE to realize how much capacity we have to influence our health.  I started researching classes, degrees, certifications, etc. to see what would help qualify me to be able to help people feel better in their bodies.

Eventually I settled on doing a 200-hour yoga teacher training.  It was a 6-month program, I enjoyed yoga, and the price was accessible.  While in that program, I was introduced to biomechanist and author Katy Bowman, via a collaboration project she did with Mark Sisson (the author of the Primal Blueprint).  From following her, I found out about Yoga Tune Up® and the power of self-massage to change our state (both physically and mentally).  I took the YTU Certification class and was introduced to OH MY GOD SO MUCH NEW INFORMATION!!  That was the hardest cert I have ever done, but it sparked an interest in whole-being health, anatomy, and the nervous system. 

I wanted to dive deeper, but I was loathe to go back to school. I actually LOVE school, but I finished my bachelors and masters while working full-time, and I was TIRED of spending every evening in class and/or doing homework.  I felt really driven to DO something in the wellness sphere, but I was overwhelmed by options and indecision.

I enlisted professional help. I started working with Dr. Betsy Rippentrop out of Iowa City.  She is a psychologist with a heavy yoga background, and I really resonated with her style of therapy.  Via sessions that included talk therapy, embodiment work, and analysis of one super-detailed, vivid dream, my path forward started to become more clear.  In one session I very clearly stated my goal of finding the next best step for me.

That weekend, on the YTU Teachers Facebook page, someone mentioned how she had taken her autistic son to a neurosomatic therapist, and she was blown away by the treatment.  I instantly googled “neurosomatic therapy,” and found the Center for Neurosomatic Studies in Clearwater, Florida.    I devoured the website, excitement building in me as I read about how students learn anatomy and physiology, movement, visceral massage, cranial mobilizations, etc. 

The next day I called the school to get more information.  The son of the founder of neurosomatic therapy answered the school’s phone.  He was in his late 30s/early 40s and was making a career switch to become a therapist.  We talked for 90 minutes. 

I loved almost everything I heard about the school.  But.  Oh man.  It was in Florida.  The program was held during the day (when I would be at work).  My Dad had just had some severe health issues.  So many reasons to just stay put.

But, ugh.  Gross.  That didn’t feel good either.

So I agonized about the decisions for MONTHS.  I want to do it, but…. It’s so hard, and so inconvenient, and what if, and the money, and, blah blah blah.

Finally I got tired of listening to myself waffle.  The internal discord with how I was spending my days was outweighing my fear of change.  I decided to go for it.  I told my boss that I was quitting to move to Florida to go to school.  But, I offered, if the bank was willing to keep me on part-time and let me work remotely, I would be down for that.  To my shock, they said Yes!  And with that “yes,” many of my fears about money and stability proved out to be unfounded.

We moved to Florida (3 days before Clearwater/Tampa got hit by Hurricane Irma).  FUN TIMES!  I went to school for 18 months, worked for the St. John-Clark Pain Treatment Clinic for a year, and then moved back to Iowa in April 2020, in the beginnings of the COVID pandemic.  FUN TIMES AGAIN!

I opened my practice in June of 2020, and it has been steadily growing ever since.  My interest in diet and movement has subtly shifted to a fascination with whole person flourishing, as I see in myself what a powerful influence my thoughts, energy, and spiritual practices have over my physical body.  I love learning about the layers that make up a human (the physical body, energetic body, mental body, wisdom body, and bliss body (from the Yogic Kosha model)) and what we can do to promote health in each of those layers.

That’s my Origin Story in a nutshell.  Well, actually in a tortoise shell because that is a pretty long story.  And technically it’s just my THERAPIST origin story.  The full origin story is a story for another time.

And with that, thanks for reading and for being part of this adventure of figuring out what makes a good life and how I can help contribute to helping others make a good life!!!

Happy Sunday!

Newsletter signup

If you would like to sign up to get these letters sent to you directly, please click here