I Promise to Myself

There is so much going on in the world around us. Things that we judge to be good and things that we judge to be bad. We have no control over it. This is very stressful. Feels like we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I choose not to focus on all that is going on “out there”. I am choosing to put my focus on what I can control, me. I can control that I get out of bed and meditate, everyday. I can control that I get out there and go for a run, at least 3 days a week. I can control that I get out into to nature multiple times a week, which lifts my spirit and improves my health. These are the promises I make to myself.

My friend and Adventure sister, Emy, introduced me, a couple years ago, to a song. The song is I Am the Fire by Halestorm. It is very motivational. I have it in my running playlist, because it reminds me that my commitment to run is a promise that I made to myself. It is not for anyone else. It is just for me. If I don’t go run in the morning, it does not hurt anyone else. I would be letting myself down. It is with that in mind that I slip into my running shoes and head out the door at least 3 days every week.

In the past when I made promises to myself it was easy to step away from them, because I wasn’t letting anyone else down. When in reality I was letting the most important person down, myself. The promises we make to ourself deserve the same importance as the promises we make to others. We deserve the same commitment and devotion we show others. So how do we break through the barriers that may try to hold us back?

For me is a no negotiation policy. I just know that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are running days. Meditation happens every morning. There is no option for later. In the past I always embraced flexibility in my self care practices, but I found that for me, that led to excuse making and procrastination. Once you procrastinate late enough into the day, it is easy to move it to the next day, until it doesn’t happen.

I don’t have all the answers. I can’t tell you what may work for you. All I know is what has helped me. This blog is really just me sharing my rambling thoughts, with the hope that someone will find some inspiration or a little bit of helpful information that I have learned along my journey.

I love you! Thank you for reading my blog today. May you make and keep promises to yourself. You are worth it! May you also remember, it is okay to be a work in progress.

Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox is the time in the year when we can start to walk away from winter and enter a time of new life, rebirth, and growth. At Equinox there is a perfect balance between the hours of night and day. It is a wonderful time to do some self-reflection and find balance within our lives. This is because balance is important when working to achieve overall wellness. Winter is a harsh time, filled with darkness, cold, and hibernation. As we say goodbye to winter, it is a good time to reflect on the defeat of the season. Defeat or failure is a part of life. We all face it in different ways throughout our lives. We tend to see it as a negative, but what if it is really freedom?

Reflect on:

What happens when we reframe the experience of failure to see it as freedom?

What happens when we start to see it as a shedding, like when a snake sheds it skin?

What if we see it like a chipping away. Imagine chipping away at stone to find the crystal hidden within.

This is a time to shed ways of thinking that no longer serve us and create self-imposed blockages. We can now tear down the walls of self-imposed limitations. What self-imposed limitations or blockages would you like to be free from?

Spring is a time of many things; fresh growth, new life, and a clean start. It is also a time of storms. When we step into the chaos of the spring storms, we can embrace the power of change that is waiting there for us. When we do not suppress what is in us, yearning to get out, we have the opportunity to grow. I want to be ready for the changes that are coming to the surface within me. It is now, in the spring, that those things that have been incubating come to life. This is a profound transformation, if you think about it. We can all enjoy this same profound transformation. Through upheaval, renewal is found.

On the equinox there is a balance between day and night. Let us call on this balance within ourselves and bring forth the beauty that is within us yearning to come forth. This can be a balance of many things.

  • Work and play
  • Feminie and masculine
  • Positive and negative
  • Progress and rest
  • Light and dark
  • Those things we judge to be assets and those we judge to be detrimental
  • And many more…

As we move forward into spring, it is a great time to take your personal wellness to the next level. Reflect upon what is waiting to be born from you. Look at the judgements you have placed on what is good and what is bad and see if you can find the light in the darkness and vise versa. Allow the transformation of Spring to transform you too.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find growth awakening within you as new life brings forth in nature. Many blessings to you.

It was a Struggle

This morning’s run was a struggle. When the alarm went off, signaling it was time to get up and get started on my mornings healthy habits, I did not want to get out of bed. The alarm was snoozed and snoozed again. Eventually my commitment pulled me out of bed and downstairs to my meditation space. My mind was restless and I had to continually pull myself back to focusing on my breathing. I found myself peaking at the timer before I hit the 20 minute mark. Still I persisted and continued to sit quietly for the whole 20 minutes.

Next it was time for my run. It was 31 degrees out. The ice has melted off the driveway, so an outdoor run was called for. I began my warm up walk on the frozen gravel road. The air was crisp and calm. I could feel the resistance in my muscles even on the warm up walk. I pushed on, being my usual Stacy Sunshine, believing it was going to get better. Once the running began, it was still difficult. My muscles felt tight. I was short of breath. The hill seemed way more steeper than most mornings. I walked more than I ran.

I continued to push on. Convinced I could “positive think” myself out of the struggle. The full moon was setting over the hill in the distance. It was beautiful to behold. There was a pink tint to it in the early morning lavender sky. It felt inspiring to see it so large in the sky. It did not make the run any easier though. I completed my run, although I did not stick to the C25K algorithm completely. Although my time was the same as my run 2 days before, my distance was slightly shorter. Even though I got out there and did it, it still felt like a failure.

Why are some days like this? My day yesterday was stressful and full of intense emotions. I am recovering from a mild case of COVID, so perhaps that played in. The food choices I made yesterday were not as exemplary as I would have liked. When I weighed this morning, my weight was up slightly, causing me some disappointment. Was it any one of these things? Was it the combo deal of all of them? Should I blame it on the full moon?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why today was a tough day to take care of me. What does matter is that I got out there and took care of me. I continued my commitment to myself. I may repeat this run tomorrow, in order to be true to the walk/run ratios called for in the C25K program. If I don’t, know one would know or care, but I would be letting myself down. Commitment to ones self is of the highest importance.

Not everyday is going to be perfect. Not everyday is going to feel like a huge flaming ball of success. In fact, I believe, it is these days that are struggles, that we gain the most from. It is on these days that we remind ourself, we can push through. We can do what once seemed impossible. It is on these days that we grow! Keep those commitments to yourself. It is worth it. Push beyond the story in you head that says, “go back to bed”. In the end, you will be glad you did. I am very glad that I still meditated and ran today. Even though my experience was one of difficulty, I checked the boxes and got it done. Tomorrow is another day.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find the gumption within yourself to push through even when it feels difficult.

Self-Sabotage?

Over and over again in life, I will be plugging away at some goal or some dream, when it suddenly falls all apart. It feels like a failure. It is frustrating to see all that hard work end up being for nothing, or so it seems. How anytime in our lives can we look back and see this same pattern? We have almost touched the finish line, after striving for so long and so hard, then we trip and never get across it. In reflection on my own history I can’t help but wonder if some of these instances were self-sabotage. Were there feelings of not being “good enough” or “worthy” that cause excuses to come up and block progress. Let’s look at some examples and dig a little deeper into this idea.

Weight loss: How many times have I been making great progress losing weight. I am working out, eating right, and the pounds are coming off. Then all of a sudden I completely binge on something and all bets are off. The diet is out the window and I am putting the weight back on. If I was successful for so long, why am I all of a sudden no longer capable? I have heard the idea that people may keep extra weight on as a type of protection. Could I be using weight as a way to feel safe? Could I be using it to hide from whom I am meant to be?

Running: I have thought, over the years, of running a half marathon in each of the 50 states. I have had goals of running a full marathon. I successfully trained and finished 3 half marathons. My time was not fast, but I was only in it, to do it. The joy of running and participating in a road race is amazing. It is fun and invigorating. I have done multiple 5Ks and a few 10Ks and even a 10 miler, over the years. I love doing them. The last half marathon and 5K I did were in 2015. I had been running for several years at that point but I hurt my knee and that was it. I believed that I couldn’t do it any more. I would feel the urge, year after year. Usually the autumn would call me to the running trails (as that was the start of the running season when I lived in Florida). It didn’t work so well for me to get back to running in the North country. I would use the Snow, the cold, my knee pain, my busy schedule, and every other excuse not to run anymore. Even at one point saying I was too old and that part of my life was over. Now, 7 years later, I am signed up to do a 5K the end of April. My training is going well. There is nothing in my body that “can’t” do it. The only thing that has been holding me back is my head.

These examples are both related to the physical body and fitness, but this could hold true to all kinds of goals. Career, gardening, education, meditation, spiritual or religious aspirations, home renovations could all be affected by our own self-sabotage. Any goal we set for ourselves, could be subconsciously derailed by our “protective” mechanisms. Somewhere deep inside we believe that we should not achieve that goal because we are not worthy, not capable, not enough, don’t have the right skills or attributes. I remember once when I was a child I over heard my grandmother and my mother talking. We were all in the garden picking weeds and my mother said to my grandmother, “Stacy is a strong starter, but she doesn’t finish things”. On some level my child brain took that in as a “truth” and held on to it. For the next 3 decades (or so), I held on to the belief that I started things but never finished them. I was reading the book Worthy by Nancy Levin and there is an exercise she has you do in the book that helped me became aware that I had this belief about myself. My own self-sabotage was helping to keep this belief true while sacrificing my goals. I did not realized this on a conscious level, at the time it was happening.

If you reflect on the goals you have fallen short of, do you see any hints that what stood in your way was actually you? It is much easier and more comfortable to blame it on exterior factors. I didn’t have time to do the training. My stress was too high to focus on committing to that goal. I am not the kind of person that achieves those results. The truth is we are capable. We can do it. We are the type of people who achieve those results. I watched a documentary the other night about an overweight young adult who grew up on a hog farm, who became vegan and ran an ultra marathon. That is 100 miles in 30 hours. Human beings are capable of amazing things! The documentary is Once is Enough. It is on Prime Video, if you are interested in checking it out. He didn’t fit in the box of what an Ultra Marathoner looked like but He didn’t let that stop him.

When road blocks pop up to prevent me from taking care of myself, I plan to reflect on what is really going on. Am I blocking my progress? Is this self-sabotage? Do I have a belief about myself that is not in alignment with what I am about to accomplish? Being aware is the first step to overcoming.

We can do this! We are the people who will cross the finish line! We are the type of people who do amazing things! We will push on despite being busy, stressed, overloaded, insecure, and/or being completely in over our heads in unmapped territory. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do the thing or be the person, because you can. Don’t let anyone else set your course for you. It is not too late. You are amazing! You are capable. I am proud of you. Believe in yourself. And in those quiet moments when you hear the whispers of the subconscious, holding you back, tell it that you can and will cross the finish line!

Thank you for reading my blog. May you accomplish what you set out after, because you are the type of person who lives the life of their dreams. Believe!

Flexibility and Habits

I have been learning a lot about habit formation lately. It seems like it may be the key for me in putting my self-care and healthy habits front and center. Although, it may not seem to make sense, I am learning that some flexibility is required when creating habits. Let me explain what I mean.

A couple of the habits I am working on are daily meditation and daily physical activity. When it comes to my meditation practice, it has come along pretty easily, this time. Past attempts have not been as successful. I believe this to what I have learned about habit formation.

From my understanding there are 3 main parts to a habit. The trigger, the habit, and the reward. The trigger is the thing that lets your subconscious know it is time to do the habit. The reward is what you get for preforming the habit. When it comes to my meditation habit, my trigger is when I wake up in the morning. I go to my designated meditation space, light my meditation candle (a reward) and mediate for 20 minutes. At the end of my mediation, I track my mediation in my Adidas running app. (Side note: I love this app, it will track all kinds of activities and allows for live tracking as well as manual entries.) Tracking my meditation in the app is my reward. From what I have learned instant rewards are best. If we have to wait too long for a reward our brains won’t associate them with the habit.

So where does flexibility fit in? In order to create a habit you must do it consistently. I can’t say, “I don’t feel well” or “conditions are not perfect”, I have to find a way to get it done. For example: when I travel for work, I do not have my designated space or my candle with me. I have to allow for flexibility in my practice. I meditate with out theses things.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs I am working towards running a 5k. I am using the C25K app from Zenlabs. I love this app! It works great. I prefer to run outside. The fresh air and beautiful scenery are a part of my reward for running. This past week it has been cold and icy. I have severe osteoporosis and can’t afford to slip and fall on the ice. This past week I had to do my running on a treadmill. Running on a treadmill and running outside are not even close to the same experience. I am dedicated to creating a habit of daily activity and training towards the more far off reward of running a 5k again. I have to allow for the flexibility of running inside on a treadmill some days.

Another thing I have learned about habits, is that they are easier when stacked, habit on top on habit. For example: trigger – I wake up, habit – mediation, habit – run or yoga, habit – shower, habit – brush teeth, and then it is time to go to work. By stacking habits I am gaining momentum from things that I am doing anyway. When I choose a hike as my daily activity, I can’t get that done in the morning before work. It has to wait till the workday is done. I can not benefit from my morning habit stack. In this way, I must also allow for flexibility that on the days I am going to hike, it will not happen at the same time as my running or yoga will.

What healthy or self-care activities would you like to add to your life? What existing habits could you stack them onto? Where can you see the need for flexibility and grace in you habit formation? What will you choose as rewards?

Thank you for reading my blog today! May you develop many helpful habits that support you taking care of yourself.

Books to learn more about habit formation:

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Healthy as F*ck by Oonagh Duncan

Hello Habits by Fumio Sasaki

Meditation “Practice”

For years I have been attempting to perfect my meditation practice. I have tried several different types of mediation: Buddhist, Kundalini, walking, guided, yoga Nidra, etc. After all of these I have still felt like an amateur when I sit on my cushion. This morning I realized, it is “practice”. I don’t have to be perfect at it. There are days when I sit on my cushion and the 20 minutes passes easily with myself in the zone. There are other days when I check my timer, twice, sure I must have forgotten to start it. Some days I sit and spend the whole 20 minute thinking. Other days I am listening to the sounds in the house. It does not have to be perfect to be beneficial. I just have to keep practicing.

Some of the helpful things I have learned about mediation are:

  • We only get upset at noises we think we should be able to control. We don’t get upset at birds or wind, but family members or our pets, we think should stay quiet for us. Meditation is about being able to still quiet our mind despite someone doing the dishes, watching TV, or barking at the delivery driver.
  • The mind will think, that is what it does. It is not my job to stop it from thinking but rather to notice that it is thinking. Meditation helps us be aware of how our mind works and to notice what it is doing. By practicing with it, in a calm environment, we better understand it and can notice what it is doing in stressful situations.
  • Giving the mind something to do can help you meditate. Kundalini meditations, involve chanting mantras and sometimes performing certain movements. This can be very helpful because the mind is busy focusing on the mantra and/or the movement. It allows you to get to the mediative space.
  • No one is good at mediation when they first start doing it. It takes practice and commitment. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
  • For all the imperfect meditations I have, the ones that work are worth all the ones that don’t.
  • You have to find the mediation that is right for you. I have had amazing experiences with many different types of mediation but my favorite is sitting silent mediation. It is not necessarily the easiest but it is the one that I have the riches experiences with.
  • There are many layers to your mind. I have identified a thinker, a narrater (who thinks they have to tell me what I am doing and what I am thinking like I am not there experiencing it), there is a watcher, a judge (who scold when it thinks I am not doing it right), and back behind all these other layers, somewhere deep within, is me.
  • Making a nonnegotiable habit makes it much easier. I get up in the morning and I mediate for 20 minutes every day. There is no option to do it later. When I get up, it is time. I go and sit.
  • I feel more ground, connected, and at peace now that I have established a meditative practice.
  • Meditating daily helps with other commitments. I know that a temptation will pass and am better able to stick to my other self-care initiatives.

If you have ever considered doing mediation, do it! It is worth it. Be gentle with yourself. Practice is practice. Anything else you were practicing you would not expect yourself to be perfect. Let meditation have the same grace. Notice that the mind is thinking and come back to your breath, your mantra, or focusing on the flicker of a candle flame. Be willing to experiment with different types of mediation till you find the one that works for you. Wether you have a deep experience during mediation, you find it easier to pass on the candy bowl, or you notice how you are reacting in a stressful situation, you will know that the effort of your practice has been worth it.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find the perfect way to make meditation a beautiful part of your self-care practices. You are worth it.

Other blogs on Meditation:

9 Ways to Improve Mediation

Mediations: A Beautiful Experience

7 Mediation Myths

11 Types of Meditation

There is an App for That: A review of Mediation Apps

Permission to Be Yourself

This morning as I started my run, the song This Is Me from the Greatest Showman soundtrack played. As I ran along the rural Wisconsin roads, in the cool 17 degree weather, I realized how scary it is to be blogging very publicly and running. How childhood trauma of other children making fun of me, as children will do to one another, still effects me as adult. In the deep recesses of my mind,where I put what i don’t want to acknowledge, it is still there. I turn 50 this month. My healthcare professional would label me as obese. Do I have any right to be out here running into the sunrise? I came to the realization that I still fear being judged for the choices I make. As my legs carried me along the rolling Wisconsin hills, I realized that a lot of people feel this same way.

Do you filter who you are to fit in with society at large? Do you express yourself as less than authentic in order to not stand out from the crowd? You do not need permission to be your truest self. But… if you would like permission, I give it to you. Your special form of “you” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does not need to be. If people read my blog and judge my words or even my right to be putting myself out there, it matters not. What does matter is that I show up for myself. I keep putting one foot in front of the other on my runs, despite my age or my weight. My actions in this life are for me alone. When I show up for myself I show myself that I matter and that I am worthy of living the life of my dreams.

This morning was only my second morning running, after years of believing I couldn’t run anymore. The C25K program includes a walk/run algorithm to help you slowly increase your endurance. I am very early in the program; about 22-26 runs remain to bring me to successful completion of a 5K. It is the journey that is important. This running journey has me feeling amazing! I smile more. I feel completely unstoppable. I feel radiant. Where I am running there is a good size hill that hits early on in the run. It is intimidating and I freaking love it. By the time I am cresting the top of the hill I know I will complete todays run, because the hardest part is behind me.

When I slip into my sneakers and secure my knee brace, I am doing it for me. I am doing it because I want to show up for me. I saw running as something I was doing for my physical health. As I dip my toe back into the running waters, I realize that for me, running is for my emotional health. Once the run is done I am glowing.

That glow has an amazing side effect. It is contagious! I see how my elevated mood effects those around me. My exuberance for life rubs off on my friends and family. Even my co-workers get caught up in it, even if they don’t know what they are caught up in. The affects goes beyond that. My work days have been more productive, passing with ease, flow, and contentment. All of this because I won’t let the naysayers in the dark corners of my mind talk me out of my self-care goals.

How easy it would have been to tell myself I was too old, or my knees too bad and talk myself out of this. I could have put it off until I lost some weight or the weather was better. I could have made up excuses about being to busy or needing better shoes. No one would have faulted me for any of these things. They would have agreed with me and nodded, feeling supportive. All of those things, for me, would have been giving in to the childhood taunts and fears. Isn’t it interesting that we have fears we don’t even know about or acknowledge? If asked, I would have said I don’t have fears related to being judged by others. I believed I had proceed and move beyond any childhood teasing. When you consider things you have wanted to do, but talked yourself out of, can you trace it back to a fear?

It is worth exploring what might be holding you back from setting off towards your dreams. When those fears are brought out of the mists, in which they hid, into the bright light of day, you can see them for what they are. They don’t necessarily slip away. It still takes a concerted effort to push beyond them, but at least I know what I am pushing beyond. It does not matters what anyone thinks of me, past or present. The mean kids in life reflect on themselves, not me, with any judgement they may pass. Why would I make myself small in fear of their judgement? If I had, I would have missed out on this feeling of invincibility. I would not have felt this glow that started in my solar plexus and spread golden light all throughout me, until it was spilling out into the world around me.

I get that running is not for everyone. This same truth holds true for whatever is calling to you. Painting, yoga, writing poetry, cooking, body building, collecting stamps, rebuilding motors, growing vegetables, raising fainting goats, it doesn’t matter what it is or if it makes sense to someone else. What matters is that it lights you up. You feel like “you” when you are doing it. Your glow will rub off on those around you. My grandmother was the type of woman who walked into a room and it lit up. I have always aspired to be like her in that. When I run, I am.

After my run this morning I texted a friend letting her know how ama-za-zing I was feeling. She told me she was so glad to experience me feeling great again after having been down for so long. Talk about a serious blind spot. I had no idea I had been “down”. Apparently those around me knew.

I enjoy being a bright and shiny, positive, being. I delight in the emotional zeal for life that courses through me. After a run, I look forward to writing a blog to share my morning’s insights. My vibration is higher, raising the vibration of those around me. For all of these reason I will run on. I am having the time of my life learning to take care of me. Who knew it could be so fun? Life looks rosy and I can’t wait to see how amazing my 50s will be!

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find that thing that lights you up and do it, no matter what anyone else thinks! I love you.

Finding Space

Do you feel trapped; like it’s hard to breathe? Hard to find space?

That is because you are looking in the wrong places. Perhaps what you crave is distractions. If you could go do whatever you want to do, would you go looking for bigger distractions?

All you need is within you. Look inward and you will find limitless space. You will find peace. You will find that you breath easier.

Stop seeking a constant “something” outside of yourself. Slow down, breathe, still your body, and quiet your mind. You can notice the constant stream of thoughts that the mind, the ego, throws up; but do not engage with it.

Go deeper; go beyond that chatter. It does not matter if you have tried in the past and failed. Things are changing. Why should your ability to do this not change too? You will find peace there. You will find comfort there. No one does it perfect the 1st time they try. Just allow the quiet. The differences it makes in your life will begin to unfold immediately.

Shhhh – do not protect. Go quietly inward. We are there waiting for you. We are all one in this beautiful interior space. It is here that our souls, our being, will play together. It is here that we will find peace together. It is here that we will all be one together.

Come join us and find the magic that is waiting here for you.

We love you.

Channeled from one Divine soul to another.

This Moment

Time ticks away but it is all relative. Moment to moment energies shift and change. Are you aware of them? Does the passage of time really matter? Of course it does not. Because all that there truly is; is the NOW. Tuesday or Thursday matter not on a Spiritual level. This moment is what really matters. Dreaming of the future and reminiscing of the past can be very pleasant and are worthwhile if they serve to raise you vibration. If they cause you stress or anxiety then they only serve to lower your vibration. When that is the case, it is even more important to stay present. Be in this time and place. Take a moment to notice, how when you are fully rooted in the present moment, you are safe.

When will this thing be over, you want to know? I am here to tell you it does not matter. Today matters. This moment matters. What are you doing to take care of you in THIS moment?  Stay fully anchored, do not let the slippage of time unground you.

Take some deep breaths and notice all that is “right” around you.

Take some deep breaths and see the beauty that is here for you.

Take some deep breaths and give thanks for all that you have and all that you are.

 

Channeled from one Divine soul to another.

 

I love you

Back Yard Spring Meditation

It is 55 degrees, calm and cloudy. It was raining earlier but had stopped now. The day is cool but warm enough to sit outside with a spring jacket. The deck I am sitting on is comfortable beneath my jeans. The air has a cool freshness. Birds are singing different songs and in the distance children are playing. I see the bright green of the day lilies’ leaves popping up amongst the brown and tans of dry leaves, stones, and twigs. The grass is slowly turning green. It is a deeper green than the day lilies. The black dirt smells  of preparation. It is readying itself for new life. The trees stand as silent sentinels over looking it all. They are not yet ready to open their leaves, giving the rest of life a chance to get started before they soak up the sun.

Spring is a slow evolution. It does not hurry. It trusts in Divine Timing. Some years one aspect maybe more successful than another, but that too is Divine. Not everything can flourish always. Everything has its own time and place.

The Day Lilies look as if bunnies have nibbled on them. We can’t make the bunnies wrong for doing what bunnies do. Nor should we make ourselves wrong for the choices of our past. They are what they are; just as nature is what nature is.

What is your nature?

What is my Nature?

How do the seasons change this?