Mental Health and Parenting: What No One is Talking About

Mental Health and Parenting: What No One is Talking About

Did you know that May is #MentalHealthMonth?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. #MentalHealthMonth was created to increase public awareness of mental health conditions and to break down the stigma associated with mental illnesses. 

Mental health conditions are far more common than you think, mainly because people don’t like to, or are afraid to, talk about them. However, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Everyone experiences the ups and downs of mental health and there is nothing wrong with seeking help to manage it. 

My Fears

As a mom of three and someone who has battled mental health challenges most of her life, my greatest concern upon having children was that my children would struggle with their mental health in the same ways that I did. However, I believe that my own struggles actually made me a better parent. I was more aware and attuned to the needs of my children and never once did I hesitate to seek help when I thought they needed it. 

So, what can we do, as parents, to help improve the overall mental well-being of our children?

1. COMMUNICATE

Communication is the key. Good communication with children involves listening well and talking in ways that encourage your child to listen to you. Communicate the super uncomfortable and challenging things, too. Being open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear, and anxiety will help you and your child to navigate potentially tricky situations in the future. 

2. RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR HELP

This may seem silly or even stupid to some reading this. As a parent who has struggled with this most of her life, I just don’t get why seeking aid in this way for your child or children is still a “last resort”, or for some, not even an option.

My oldest is very emotional. Last year, he was caught teasing and talking under his breath during class to a few of his classmates about how they looked. When I confronted my son and talked to him about why he was doing what he was doing, in all honesty, he told me that he wasn’t that sorry for some of it. I knew right then and there  was something bigger going on. Not in regards to the relationship with these other children, but within himself.  My son needed someone else to talk to and it was my job to find someone else who could give him perspective and insight beyond that of my husband and myself. 

3. SEEK HELP

That summer, I arranged for my son to see a counselor. We called his sessions “his class with Michael”. During that time, a few parents and family members questioned my decision to seek outside help for my son. They often said, “Why are you doing that? He’s fine”. But, I knew he wasn’t. I saw a young boy struggling to process how he felt. I saw myself in him.

Seeking help was the best thing I could have ever done for my son as his mom. It gave us a place to communicate with our son and it gave my son a place to communicate openly without judgment. Michael played a HUGE role in my son’s confidence, understanding, and processing of emotions. Most importantly, Michael was a huge game-changer for my son and his future.  He now has insight and coping strategies that will serve him his entire life. An insight I wish I would have had at his age. If I would have, then, maybe, my story would have been a bit different.

4. DON’T JUDGE

For many parents, at the first sign that their child appears to be sick, there is no concern or questioning on getting them medicine to help them feel better. So why aren’t we looking at our children’s mental health, their mental well-being, in the same light as their physical well-being?

I urge you all, parent or not, to put all your personal issues aside and see your kids as they are. To attend to them in the best possible way that has nothing to do with you. Seeking help is not a bad thing. Would you ever look down on someone for seeking treatment for a medical ailment? More than likely, no. So, I urge you to do the same for you and your child’s well-being, especially when it comes to their mental health and wellness.

So, I ask you, during #MentalHealthMonth–what does your child need? As someone who has struggled most of her life with mental health and wellness concerns, I can tell you that having a therapist has been one of the best things I have done for myself and it made all the difference for my son, too.

If you are interested in learning more, check out these great resources on Amazon.

Safe and Healthy Communication: It’s Never Too Late To Build These Skills

Safe and Healthy Communication: It’s Never Too Late To Build These Skills

If you had asked me what a safe relationship was as a kid or even a young adult, I would have responded that the other isn’t physically harming you. But there is more to a healthy relationship than what goes on physically. Open, honest, and safe communication is a fundamental part of any healthy relationship

It has become apparent that there were many emotional processing and communication skills I was lacking and, unfortunately, never learned as a growing kid and teen.

Years ago, I had an addiction and survived because that deep dark struggle brought forth the need for these necessary skills. 

Now in my thirties, I am so grateful to have learned:

  • Boundaries, what they are, why they are necessary, and how to set them
  • Effective communication
  • How anger is a surface emotion for sadness and hurt
  • Sharing how I feel is to help, not hurt.
  • It is not my responsibility as to how others receive my feelings.
  • There are healthy ways to communicate even scary, uncomfortable things.

 

Years ago, I would not have known how to communicate safely and healthily. I would not have known how to validate another’s experience because I would have been too overwhelmed with my own. I would not have known that I could feel one thing and someone else feel another and still be OK.

We all have the opportunity to grow. To learn. To expand. To be stretched.

That the way we respond to situations and things is often more about us than it is about the other person. When I finally understood that my relationship with life, others, and I made a massive shift. 

Vienna Pharaon Quote - Hope Zvara Blog Post

We all can make a shift. That shift can be an uphill battle, or it can be a process where we can all learn from the way we have done things in the past, how others respond and grow from them. Learning effective communication has been a game-changer for me to transform my relationships with my husband, my kids, clients, and my parents. I am no longer tied to the back of their car as they ride the rolling hills of their life and emotions. 

If you want to create safe and healthy relationships, you must effectively communicate (PERIOD). Going through the process of recovery has taught me that the first relationship I need to improve is the one with myself. I had to relearn how to process my emotions because the two strategies I was taught were exploding, and holding it in, wasn’t working. That process was long and, at times, overwhelming. But moment by moment, month by month, year by year, things began to change. And for me, yoga had a lot to do with that process. I used my yoga mat to learn to feel, learn to process and learn to take action. Yoga became a place where I rekindled my relationship with my Higher Power and slowly with those that I love. My yoga mat helped me understand that what I was feeling didn’t have to dictate how I lived. And teaching yoga taught me how others felt didn’t have to run my life.  

My hope for you today is to step back and breathe.🍃 This coming from the girl who had explosive reactions and took everything personal-step back and takes a breath.

Doing so requires you to do two simple things: 

  1. STOP and step back (literally, step back).
  2. Inhale and exhale.

Being stuck in our heads makes taking any action twice as tricky. That is why the yoga I know was pivotal in my recovery and learning these vital skills to better communicate with myself and others. 

And do not be afraid that even after taking a breath (or many breaths), what needs to be said may not be warm and fuzzy, but it needs to be said…⏩Press on.

Other people try to complicate this process and make you buy into a profound complexity of how it is to learn better, more effective communication. And sure there are additional ways to dig deeper, but what I’m telling you is, until you can stop, step back and take a breath in those moments, all those other fancy steps won’t work. They won’t work because you haven’t called time out. Just like my 11-year-old need a time out to take a moment, breath, and emotionally calm down so he can feel and better communicate. We as adults often need that too.

A business coach once told me some conversations are more effective when there is space (time) put in-between them.

Now some people are against time out because it seems harsh or cold. But a time out gives you time to feel, breathe, and process so you can come back and respect the conversation and relationship. It helps you decide what is truly important to communicate when approaching a time out from a whole place. There have been hundreds of things I wanted to say to the person on the other end. But when I gave it time, I discovered that it was something else, something more profound, or it was more about me and how I was feeling from another situation than the one that was currently in front of me. 

My yoga mat was often my time out. I would go there to feel, process, and step away so I could figure out what was going on. See the pattern, see the conversation in a new light, see what I want to say, and sit with the feeling I was having around that conversation, that person and the relationship.

👉I have a mantra that I tell myself daily: “I cannot control how others perceive and receive me and what I have to say, as long as I say it with kindness…say it”.

One of the BIGGEST skils I have cultivated when it comes to healthy and safe communication is the ability to “sit” with feelings, and even more sit with the possibility that someone else may not have liked what I had to say, and may project unhappiness towards me. But knowing I have control over how I respond. And within receiving that, an opportunity to learn from it has now become a blessing. So keep breathing my friend, keep feeling, and remember that validating another in no way invalidates you.

May those that need to hear this find it ♥️.

6 Tips To Organize and Declutter Your Life

declutter

No matter how neat and tidy of a person you are, it’s pretty easy for “stuff” or clutter to pile up around your house.

Clutter is a constant battle at our house. From mail, bills, and school papers to toys for the kids and dog and clothes–there are so many things that just never seem to get put away or find their place. When my house starts to get overrun by clutter, I begin to feel stressed, which then begins to affect the other areas of my life.

So, it’s not surprising that having clutter around means less stress in your life. However, decluttering is sometimes easier said than done. Fortunately, there are simple tricks to stop clutter from taking over your life.

6 Tips To Organize and Declutter Your Life

1. Plan Ahead.

Did you know that planning ahead is proven to reduce stress? Well, it’s true. Planning is one of the most effective stress management techniques you can do without spending a penny. Plus, planning gives you more time to do the things that you enjoy in your life!

2. Have a Home for All of Your Stuff.

I can’t tell you the number of times l look at the stuff lying around and do nothing, Or, I take something out of a drawer, use it, and lay it on the counter instead of putting it back where I got it in the first place. Everything should have a “home.” If it doesn’t, you don’t need it. For example, always put your car keys in a basket and hang up your coat in the same place when you come home. When you put things in the same place instead of somewhere random, you will know where they are and save time and stress looking for them. This simple change has helped me keep my house, office, and car much cleaner, and my family and I much happier.

3. Stop Multitasking.

The glorification of being an excellent multitasker is overrated. In reality, humans are not the best at multitasking. Focusing on multiple tasks all at once seems like an efficient way to get the most out of your day; however, you end up getting very little done and done well. Instead, make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish and then list them in order of importance. To me, there is something so gratifying about making a list and then crossing your accomplishments off as the day goes on.

4. Say Goodbye.

If you have not used that really-thoughtful kitchen gadget that your dear aunt gave you three birthday’s ago, it is time to say goodbye. Everything from old papers and clothes to cooking utensils and the food in your pantry–it is all fair game. My rule of thumb is that if I haven’t used it or worn it in the last year, it’s moving on to its next home. You can give gently loved items to a charity or to someone else that can make use of what you do not need any longer.

5. Stay Committed.

If you want your space to be less cluttered, you have to commit to making it and keeping it that way. Set aside just 15 minutes at the end of each day to declutter and organize your space. Yep, those 15 minutes can and will make all of the difference. Discipline yourself to do this before you sit down to watch your favorite show or read a good book. I love to set the timer on my phone and go gun-ho until it beeps. And, if you are like me and have a family that helps contribute to all of the clutter, I’d suggest getting them involved in the 15-minute cleanup,, too! It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just 15 minutes.

6. Clear Your Mental Clutter.

Clearing your mental clutter is just as important as physically decluttering your space. Taking time each day to reflect on your blessings and to meditate will help you to manage your stress levels effectively. A gratitude journal is an easy way to keep track of the positive things in your life. You would be surprised how simple reflection can improve your overall mental health. Also, meditation has been proven to temporarily alleviate stress, strengthen the mind to cultivate inner peace, and improve your overall mental well-being.  Clear your mental clutter, relax, and refocus your mind with this 30-minute guided meditation audio. If 30-minutes seems a bit too long, check out of my shorter meditations. 

Breath Awareness Meditation Hope Zvara

Breath Awareness Meditation Hope Zvara

Clutter may be a constant lurking threat, but when you choose to tackle the problem head-on, your efforts will pay off. I don’t know about you, but when my house is happy, I’m happy, and when I’m happy, I am more willing to take on any task life throws at me with a grateful heart and ready arms.

So, are you ready to join me in decluttering your life? 

Why Crying On Your Yoga Mat is Okay

Why Crying On Your Yoga Mat is Okay

When I was in teacher training and a woman burst into tears during bridge pose and couldn’t stop flowing. I watched from the back of the room as the instructor calmly came over to soothe her. The instructor let her know that this happens and some poses that open the heart can do that. At that moment, I felt relief. Crying was okay in yoga.

Yoga works on a multitude of levels: physical, emotional, energetic.

One of yoga’s secrets, documented in research from the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation near Bangalore, is that more active practices followed by relaxing ones lead to deeper relaxation than relaxing practices alone. – Yoga Journal

For many of us, stress has become as common as drinking coffee. I know I have been in a position where I didn’t know what it was like to live in an environment that wasn’t anything but stress. We think we are “relaxing”  with things like constant screen time, loud music, and high-intensity exercise. It all needs to be balanced with restorative or relaxing practices or we leave ourselves out of balance.

If coming to your yoga mat, you find yourself dripping a few tears, please know it’s OK.

If you are ever in my yoga room, it’s encouraged! Even when I’m teaching, I will get a wave of emotion and find myself dripping a few tears.

Yoga is about seeking an internal state of homeostasis, and that may mean that you are asked to breathe for five minutes on your mat. It may even require you to stay in a pose that makes your skin crawl.

Yoga really, truly is about balance. If you continue to seek it, it will help you create the balance you have been searching for. A few tears along the way doesn’t hurt.

References:

The Benefits of Yoga on the Parasympathetic Nervous System

The Scientific Basis of Yoga Therapy 

3 Ways to Improve Your Work Environment Instantly

3 Ways to Improve Your Work Environment Instantly

In today’s technology-centered world, there seems to be an app for almost every situation. If something is wrong or needs improvement, we can pull out our smartphones and search for the right app. However, when it comes to improving our physical well-being, that tends to be a little more challenging. 

Taking Care of Your Body

I think anyone reading this can agree that a big part of the quality of one’s overall health comes from movement–or lack thereof. Various illnesses can be linked back to how we live in our physical bodies. Much like house maintenance, the longer you neglect your body, the more damaged the structure becomes. Then, those once small issues become much larger and harder to fix. 

It’s a pretty straightforward concept: the more active you are, the healthier you will be. However, most people spend most of their day at work or in a work environment. So, yes, while incorporating exercise into your daily routine is important, it isn’t going to magically fix your “house.” 

What Can You Do?

Think about the environment that you put yourself in day after day. Should you consider a change in that environment to prevent your “house” from becoming damaged? The best way to increase our well-being is to evaluate the environment around us– especially our work environment. But, is merely making the change to standing all day instead of sitting enough? The simple answer is no.

The Pixar movie Wall-E is more than another cute, animated film. It tells us that if we don’t change the way we live, we will turn into unhealthy humans who, by continuing to treat the environment as disposable, will also destroy the world. In her book Don’t Just Sit There, Katy Bowman talks about how to avoid the Wall-E syndrome so that you can be a much healthier, happier, functional version of yourself.

Try to make these simple changes to the environment around you to ensure your “house” continues to serve the purpose for which it was created. 

1. Promote Fluid Movement, Natural Living and Reduce Stress

1. Increase Natural Light

Consider how much natural light you are receiving into your work environment or home. Increasing natural lighting can boost serotonin, which can increase our alertness and better our mood in our work environment and at home. 

2. Decrease Clutter

Work to decrease clutter in your work environment and home. Physical clutter is easily transferable to both the feeling and experience of mental clutter. Having more fluidness in your work environment will easily affect work output.

2. Promote Natural Fluidity & Movement

Evaluate if your work environment or overall environment promotes a lifestyle that encourages movement, or if it entices a sedentary lifestyle.

I have dramatically reduced eye strain and the feeling of tiredness by not having the lights on in my office and by keeping the shades open during office hours.

By taking the time to let go of possessions that no longer serve me, I have physically and energetically made room for the newness I am working toward in my life.

3. Make Change at Home, Too

Finally, I have begun re-evaluating my work environment and home life and investing in my family’s health on the front end. This has included creating standing workspaces, using functional chairs (like the Move), breaking stereotypes at the dinner table by enlisting our family in picnic-style dinners on the floor, and by adding walking lunches. All these creative and healthy choices have helped me to promote movement and a more fluid lifestyle for each of my family members.

Some of these changes cost my family and me very little, and others a bit more, but what I have essentially done is flipped where I spend my money. I am no longer dumping my hard-earned cash into constant visits to the chiropractor or massage therapists. My overall total daily movement has dramatically increased, which has also reduced my stiffness and back and neck pain. As a bonus, I mentally feel better.

Upgrade Your Seating Options

If you are considering making a real investment in your work environment, work experience, and home environment, check out the Move by Varier® and get ready to transform your work environment into one that truly gets you moving!

Are you interested in upgrading your home or office seating? Join me in the “Move” ment with the Move by Varier. CLICK HERE to learn more!

Little changes can make a huge impact. I challenge you to evaluate your environment–home and work–and make changes where you can!

Your Yoga Practice is a Lot Like Compost

Your Yoga Practice is a Lot Like Compost

Yoga is an opportunity for self-reflection. Self-reflection means purposefully paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, decisions, and behaviors. It enables us to make meaning of all of the great and not so great experiences we’ve had in our lives. 

Just like a yoga pose, self-reflection is challenging and requires us to be open and honest with ourselves.

When we, as yogis, are unwilling to self-reflect, we project. We project those things that we are reluctant to turn inward, sit with, and change. 

Change Is Hard

Change is hard but change is a necessary and pivotal part of life. When I think about all the different ways to discuss or even label change, several ideas come to mind: growth, transformation, letting go, and acceptance. All of these things require us to go within ourselves and do some sort of work–some kind of self-reflection. You can’t grow from your experiences if you don’t understand them. Once you understand the why behind your decision-making, you can make changes based on what you’ve learned.

I spent a big part of my life projecting so that I wouldn’t have to deal with my core issues. Everything was everyone else’s fault. Everything that was happening to me, around me, and within me, was always the result of someone else–at least in my mind. It was a defense mechanism to protect and preserve the only thing I knew and the only thought process and outlook that I was comfortable with accepting.

How Yoga Forced Me to Dig Deep

When yoga came into my life, it was both liberating and frustrating. Yoga gave me the freedom to feel but it also forced me to see myself for who I was. I had to look at what I was doing instead of pushing the blame onto others. I had to take a real look at myself and the real reasons behind my actions. 

I say to my students each day that yoga is a mirror reflection for our everyday life and that reflection is available for us to see when we finally decide to see it. I will be the first to attest that the reflection will not always be quaint and pretty. It will most likely be uncomfortable and even sad at times. However, that is how growth happens.

Growth happens when we let go of our expectations on people, situations, and life. Letting go of our expectations does not mean that we no longer hope or desire anything from life anymore. Rather, it means that we come at our life (our mat) in a way that opens the doors rather than lingering in the doorway, just waiting for it to close or prove others are wrong.

Compost It

Merriam-Webster defines compost as “a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter.” Compost is used for fertilizing and conditioning land. Your compost is a mixture of your stuff, your baggage, your mindsets, your hang-ups, your habits, and your ego. When you practice self-reflection, you take your compost and use it to fertilize your life and the conditions of others. You take the mixture of your life, your actions, and your situation, and you compost it. 

My yoga practice has taught me a lot about my compost and digging dip into my own “mixture.” It has allowed me to get real with myself. Moreover, once you are genuinely able to see the mess you are in, only then can you begin to transform.

When things don’t go my way or are not to my liking, I first ask–Why? I then take a step back to reflect so that I can see how much of my compost is altering my experience. Coming from a place where I took everything personal in my life, once I realized how my compost was affecting what I was doing, I was better equipped to let others off the hook for my shortcomings. Seldom is it ever really about others but rather how we received those experiences and how they reflect upon us.

Don’t Give Up

I urge you to keep coming to your mat, keep getting uncomfortable, and keep taking classes and stepping into poses that ruffle your feathers. Resist the urge to roll up your mat those five minutes early in the hopes of avoiding discomfort. Instead, sit in those poses as your mind stews–allowing your mind to sift through your thoughts, emotions, and reactions to truly get to the bottom of why you feel the way you do.

From my heart to yours, from my soul to yours, from my compost to yours, and from my mat to yours, Namaste.

20 Tips to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

20 Tips to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Respecting our planet and protecting the environment is something everyone can get behind. Regardless of when Earth Day is, each day we need to make the decision to respect our planet. Here are twenty ways you can reduce your carbon footprint, starting today!

1. Shop in the bulk section with your own produce bags.

If your grocery store offers a bulk section, this is a great way to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics. Try bringing your own bulk bags so you can skip the plastic variety that the grocery offers. Plastic bags are typically not recyclable and are incinerated to their final end. When you shop, start in the bulk section first with your own bags. See how much of your grocery list you can knock out without purchasing any packaging! Then move to the produce section, and see what you can find without plastic. Bringing your own bags goes a long way!

2. Bring your reusable grocery bags to the store, store them in your car.

Leave your grocery bags in your car! Make a habit of putting your grocery list in the bags when you get in the car, or move them to the front seat so that you don’t forget to take them with you. However you ritualize this, I promise you CAN make it a habit. Plastic bags only serve a purpose for a matter of minutes, before they are thrown out. Due to their aerodynamic features, they often get caught in the wind and blow out of waste bins and landfills, sending them straight to the oceans or the sides of our roads. Help eliminate them from your habits!

3. Carry your water bottle & mug with you everywhere.

Water is so good for you – you should be sipping on it all day.

4. Compost your food scraps.

There are so many different types of composting – whether you are in an apartment or live on several acres of land, there is a composting solution for you. When food is thrown out in plastic bags, it produces methane gas, which is really toxic. By allowing it to decompose with proper aeration, that food can be turned into something productive for your garden!

5. Shop Secondhand.

Regularly check your local thrift stores. You can find some great deals on gently loved products that are ready for a new life. Fashion causes a lot of waste throughout its supply chain – rock the vintage look instead, or choose to support small businesses.

6. Repair items you have that are broken.

Don’t let your first instinct be to throw it away. Just because money might not be an issue or it only costs $ to replace, you may be able to get more life out of the same product by repairing it. You’ll find that you can find uses for old things you never used to use or find ways to get something repaired instead of buying a replacement.

7. Reduce your meat consumption.

Plants, fruits, and vegetables have a lower carbon footprint when it comes to their agricultural production. You may find several benefits to your health from adding more plants and plant-based foods to your rotation. Try doing Meatless Mondays for a month with your family. Then maybe try some new vegan recipes.

8. Walk, bike, or carpool.

Get some exercise and some fresh air! If you live local and the weather is nice, take a walk outside. Don’t be in a hurry all the time. You can find enjoyment in the daily tasks of life if you carve out self-reflection time within them. Going for a walk is a great way to get in meditation time.

9. Hang dry your clothes.

Driers on high heat settings can be energy-intensive. If you have a clothesline, hang your clothes outside, or look for a drying rack. You might be able to find one at your local thrift store.

10. Avoid purchasing products wrapped in plastic.

If possible, look for products without plastic packaging. Find the veggies in store that aren’t pre-cut, but instead you can put in your own cloth bag that you brought. If your store has a bulk food section, take your bags there and fill them with many of your pantry staples.

11. Learn how to sew.

If you can repair minor damage to your clothing items, you can prevent those from becoming major damage! Learning how to sew can give you a multitude of DIY projects that you can do with scrap clothing or fabrics.

12. Volunteer (do a trash pick-up!).

Pick one weekend a month to do a trash pick-up with your family in your neighborhood. Invite your neighbors and their children, and their friends. Get everyone involved in keeping the community clean.

13. Ask for “no straw” when you order a drink.

Make it a habit to ask for your drink, with “no straw.”

14. Bring your own utensils to avoid using plastic ones.

You can purchase travel kits with utensil sets to keep in your bag. That way when you are on the go, you can avoid using plastic utensils for takeout food.

15. Use plastic-free cleaners (like Dropps or Blueland).

There are companies that make cleaning products in refillable, or plastic-free containers! Search for plastic-free options on the internet!

16. Donate unwanted newspaper & old towels to your local animal shelter.

Animal shelters use newspaper and old towels to line kennels and are in constant need. Consider donating old blankets, animal food, newspapers, or towels to your local shelter.

17. Purchase Carbon Offsets

If you have to travel a lot via airplane for work, you may feel some guilt at the carbon emissions from a plane flight. There are companies that allow you to easily calculate and purchase carbon offsets, which protect natural land in exact offsets to the pollution caused by your travel.

18. Stop buying things! Love what you have.

19. Plant a Tree or Garden with Flowers

Bees love flowers. giving them more options for pollinations helps out the bee and honey farmers. Support your local bee population by planting floral gardens with high nectar flow plants.

20. Teach a friend what you learned.

We are all in this together. If we want to see our planet improved, we all have to be in it together!

Do You Want to Thrive or Survive?

Do You Want to Thrive or Survive?

Take a minute to think about what your answer is to this simple question: Do you want to thrive or survive?

Early in life, we quickly learned how to survive. When I say survive, I mean that we were all shown the skills we need to get by and make it in the world. However, is living each day simply surviving enough? Or do you want more from your life?

I wasn’t happy with just surviving. There was more to life for me. I wanted to live a healthy, happy, vibrant life where I could soak in all of the energy from our amazing Earth and grow from it. Simply put. I choose to thrive.

Survive or Thrive?

The difference between surviving or thriving mindsets is pretty simple. Surviving is doing what is necessary to live. Thriving is not being satisfied with surviving. To thrive is a choice. It’s an attitude. 

However, more often than not, I find that most people are barely getting by–physically, mentally, and emotionally. Each day, most people are just surviving and going through the motions. They are just getting by.

What Would You Do?

But let me ask you this–If a building was burning and you were locked inside, what would you do? Would you sit back and say, “Well I have no other option other than to die in here” OR would you say, “I’m not going to die today; the only way I’m going to die is trying to get out of this burning building?”

While it was a dramatic example, my point is that when faced with a crisis, we can do anything. Living in survival mode prohibits us from living a life of meaning and contribution. Merely choosing to survive in life is a crisis. 

If you feel you have been surviving and just going through the motions, let today be the turning point in your life where you turn it all around.

Here are three ways to help you thrive instead of just surviving.

1. Find Your Purpose

II know how easy it can be at times to let life take over every move you make. If you aren’t intentional about staying purpose-driven, it’s an easy habit to let slip away. Staying purpose-driven can mean many things. Maybe you already know your purpose which is great.

However, maybe you don’t know what your purpose in life is yet and that’s fine, too. Everyone discovers what their purpose is at different stages in life. I firmly believe that we all created to do great and beautiful things in the world.

2. Clear Your Mind

Most of the time, people who settle for a life of survival let the tough times of life tear them down. I know firsthand that life can be hard. However, to thrive in life, you need to take time to reset and refocus your life. When your mind is in overdrive, sometimes you need to hit the reset button. My 3-Week Clearing Mental Clutter Mini-Course shows you how to banish your mental roadblocks by recognizing what they are and how to do something about them. Weekly affirmations help to keep you on track, short mindful movement sequences to help you step into your body fully, and a private accountability group helps to support you in clearing the mental clutter and creating great clarity. 

3. Surround Yourself with Likeminded People

You have probably heard a million times—“Birds of a feather flock together.” Well, it’s true. If you surround yourself with people who are not motivated and searching for ways to better themselves, that’s the type of mindset and life you will adopt. When you hang around with people who focus on growing, getting better, and maximizing their potential, you will also embrace this mindset. If you want to make sure that you don’t fall into survival mode, hang around like-minded people.

My FREE online Facebook community, Daily Dose of Hope, is dedicated to helping others purposefully excel through the messiness of real-life, both on and off the mat. This group is about reclaiming the health and well-being of all its members, inspiring each member to see they are worth it, and assisting in the cultivation of each person becoming the best version of themselves!

The Choice is Yours

It’s easy to let everyday demands in life take over and dictate how your day goes, but each one of us has a choice on how to respond. Just remember: You have a purpose. You were put on this earth to thrive, not just survive.

4 Ways to Connect with Mother Nature

4 Ways to Connect with Mother Nature

It shouldn’t be just once a year that we consider our planet and how we can serve Mother Nature in her quest to support life. I am always amazed when people throw trash onto the ground or out of their car window. It is just plain disrespect toward the very planet that is allowing us to have an existence here.

From day one I have taught my kids about the importance of respecting Mother Nature and this planet we live on. When we go for walks, we pick up cans and collect an extra bag of trash. It’s become a regular affair for our family.

Taking care of our planet is more than just picking up trash. It’s about creating consciousness around how we live here on this planet we call Earth.

There are dozens of ways we all could do more, but if you are anything like me, when someone gives you dozens of ideas it becomes overwhelming. Then I end up not even doing one.

So in an effort to give a little bit more love to Mother Nature and to show our amazing planet bit more respect, here are four ways to connect with Mother Nature:

 

1. Get your shoes off and get the ground of the Earth between your toes.

Connecting to Mother Nature with no barriers is essential to our own energetic balance and unifying harmony. So much of the world today tells us to never leave the house without shoes on. When we get outside and connect with nature and become nature, all that is unnecessary falls away. Take those shoes off and don’t be afraid to get the bottoms of your feet dirty. Massage those sore feet with uneven surfaces, even rocks. Enjoy feeling the soft grass between your toes. Your entire being will thank you.

2. Strike a Pose: Tree Pose!

I love yoga in nature, and there is nothing like striking a Tree Pose out among the very trees that balance our abilities to breathe. Whenever I get a chance to teach an outdoor yoga class, I love to get my students hugging a tree and striking Tree Pose right alongside that tree. Remember, trees are just as much alive as you are.

3. Plant a tree, a flower, a vegetable, or two…

Everything is an exchange of energy. For some of us, we may have lived much of our lives out of balance. Taking more than giving, and then wondering why we are lacking when there is nothing left. And although I am just talking about Mother Nature and all her glory, this concept does extend beyond the plants and trees that blanket our Earth. This month I want to encourage you to plant a flower or two. Maybe even plant a tree and nurture this fragile life like you would a newborn baby. If you nurture that plant just right, it will more than likely outlive you.

4. Pick up garbage and let others know it’s not okay to trash the Earth.

My kids and I regularly pick up trash, and it saddens me when I see whole trash bags tossed to the side of the road. I regularly see McDonald’s bags filled with wrappers and wasted food littering the roadsides and the environment our animals are supposed to live and prosper in.

How is it that we as a species have come think we have the right to disrespect other species that roam the same planet as we do?

To be honest, they were here before we were, and if they can respect Mother Nature and this very planet for thousands of years, then we can too. When you see trash on the ground, why don’t you pick it up? When you see another throwing trash on the ground, ask them to consider waiting the few minutes until they get home or see a trash can to dispose of it. I have traveled to many places, most less fortunate than the United States. If they can control their trash and waste with less access to public disposal, then we can too.

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