Trim Your Waistline – Outrageous Obliques

Trim Your Waistline – Outrageous Obliques

As a fitness professional for over a decade, I have pretty much seen it all. Especially when it comes to core-based exercise. When you consider trying to bring some more attention to your midsection (and your obliques), a few things are important to consider:

Core work flat on your back is out!

Think about it, how do you spend your day? Upright! So doesn’t it make more sense to work with gravity in that manner?

Focus on feeling rather than doing.

Find guides that really help you tune into not only what you should be doing, but what you should and shouldn’t be feeling. If you need somewhere to start, consider my Mindful Movement Online Studio (just $9.99/month)

Work from the inside out.

No matter what you do, everything is core work. That being said, it all starts with a conscious pelvic-core (pelvic floor muscles plus deep core muscles) contraction.

We have a deep oblique — called the internal oblique — and an external oblique. These muscles overlap each other.

We need our obliques for many things: They offer support and stability for the back and hips. When developed properly, they improve spinal support, movement and function, as well as the relationship between the rib cage and pelvis. Strength to twist, bend sideways and rotate comes a great deal from our amazing obliques.

Here is one of my favorite tributes to our famous obliques:

  1. Start in a kneeling position (be sure to pad your knees if necessary), and grab your weight (if using one).
  2. Find neutral pelvis (your pubis bone and hip bones should run parallel with the wall you are facing).
  3. Contract your pelvic-core muscles (think bathroom muscles and torso muscles, much like when you cough).
  4. Steadily extend your right leg out to the side, turning your right foot parallel to your knee. Be sure to anchor your foot into the floor.
  5. Holding your weight in front of your chest, draw your elbows wide and relax your shoulders.
  6. Inhale, tip to the left as far as you can control, without folding in your left hip.
  7. Exhale, feel your waist (obliques) carry you back up with control. You should not feel any downward pressure into your pelvic floor when you lift (remember to keep those muscles strong).
  8. Repeat this process 10 times on each side. After you have repeated this on both sides, go back to your weaker side and complete the process again for a 2-to-1 ratio (weaker to stronger). If the weight creates too much tension work, do this exercise without added weight in front and instead hold opposite elbows with your forearms at chest height.

 

Here are some more resources on firing up your obliques!

Fire Up The Obliques With The Ring Of Fire

Get your Arms and Obliques Beach Body Ready — Oblique Lift & Lower

Better Obliques with Stretch and Strengthen

Oblique Jump Start, a Journey into the Real Core!

Arms & Obliques Oh’ My with Side Plank Lift & Lower

 

Have fun and keep at it!

 

 

This post was originally published on Nature’s Pathways, and updated on 10/4/19.

5 Ways to Live a More Authentic Life NOW!

5 Ways to Live a More Authentic Life NOW!

When you live a more authentic life, the benefits are many! By putting time and effort into this endeavor, and learning to be yourself, you are rewarded with an opportunity for real happiness and an ability to achieve your true potential. To get started on this worthwhile journey, give these five practices a try:

5 Ways to Live a More Authentic Life NOW:

1. Be Honest with Yourself and Others.

We often think that the little white lies we tell ourselves and others will make things easier. We think we are doing a favor to others by saving them the time or emotion of the truth. But the reality is, it makes things much more complicated and incredibly dishonest. These lies snowball until you can’t remember who you’ve told the truth to. Find your authentic truth.

2. Stop Saying “I Can’t.”

We look out at life and say that we can’t do this or that, and what we say becomes our truth. What we tell the Universe is what we get back from the Universe.

Erase “I can’t” from your vocabulary and replace it with “I can, I have, I know, or I am.” Take life and start living in the moment.

3. Take Risks.

I’m not saying jump off a cliff, but rather, live boldly. I would rather fall a million times than never fall once and have never tried. We learn through hardships and risks, and the only bad risk is the one not taken. Sometimes you need a little clarity to feel more confident to take that risk…

So are you willing to take that risk if you know it will bring you clarity? What if there was something you could do to aid that clarity creation and feel more confident in that next step?

4. Speak up.

I often speak what is on my mind and what I desire. And yoga has taught me how to channel that in a positive, more helpful, loving way (better than I could years ago). I often hear people say: if only, or I didn’t know, or I wish someone would have told me, but the truth is, unless you speak up, why should anyone come running to your aide? Don’t blame others for your unspoken wish list. Don’t say, “I should have” when you know you could have. We all have a voice and the right to speak up. So when you don’t, it’s no one’s fault but your own.

5. Be a Leader.

We need not be trendsetters or inventors, but rather leaders in our own lives. You may not be famous, but when you live 100 percent each day with no regrets — truthfully and positively — and speak up in a kind manner, you become the authentic leader for others to follow in living their lives that way too.

Each and every day we must work to be more mindful and work to be the best version of ourselves in all that we do. When we step outside our comfort zones and work just a bit harder than the day before, things get easier and we start to enjoy life more. Seek to live an authentic life and reap the rewards.

Are you ready to experience monumental clarity?

Click here for 5 minutes to Monumental Clarity – FREE

10 Tips for a Functional Body

10 Tips for a Functional Body

Most people come to fitness training and movement, such as yoga, in order to benefit their bodies and their lives. Yet, many are unknowingly practicing movements that are inefficient or even detrimental to their goals and health. There are certain tips that can help you achieve the functional body that will serve you in your everyday life.

Here are 10 Key Tips to Stop Treating Pain and to Start Treating Dysfunction for a Functional Body:

1. Get off the Floor.

Unless you are a mechanic, training yourself, especially your core, solely on the floor will not get you the results you are hoping to achieve. Think about what you are trying to do on the floor. Lying flat on your back to do core work only triggers about 10% of your transversus abdominus, your core-most muscle (which is also a back muscle). So how about standing “Pilates” or what about the standing “Saw”?  Look at what the movement is trying to achieve, not necessarily what it looks like, so you can morph it into a more body-friendly version.

If you are serious about strengthening your core, check out the Core Functional Fitness program to take your core to another level.

2. Shed the Shoes.

Shoes can isolate a person’s feet and keep them from noticing signs of misalignment, such as pronation, supination or bunions. Treadwear on the soles of the shoes can reveal dysfunction, as well. Overly supportive shoes compensate for and cover up dysfunction, but do not heal it. Training in such shoes might work around the issues, instead of bringing them to light. If you suffer from foot pain, know that pain relief is not far.

3. Learn Neutral.

It’s important to understand that a neutral position is not natural for many people. Proper body placement often must be re-learned with the guidance of someone trained in alignment. Proper neutral alignment involves attention to the relationship between the feet, pelvis, rib cage, shoulders and head.

4. Do Exercises and Asanas that Expose Imbalances.

Finding what is imbalanced is necessary for enabling proper alignment and movement. Identify where movement becomes stuck and focus on un-sticking that area.

5. Use a 2:1 Ratio.

By working both sides equally, the weaker side will never catch up. Instead, double up on the weaker side, so it receives the extra strengthening it needs.

6. Work in all Three Planes of Movement.

Movement in every direction is the only way to address the different needs of the body. Practice poses that move along the sagittal plane (left and right), the frontal plane (front and back) and the transverse plane (above and below).

7. Look at What a Movement is Trying to Accomplish.

Ask, “What is the purpose of this asana or exercise, and is it right for my body?” If not, determine how the concept could be adjusted for your individual body type. If you need help analyzing the movements, I have an Asana Video Library that will walk you through every specific element of each pose.

8. Identify the Source of the Pain.

Pain may not originate where it is felt. Sciatica, knee, neck or other pain may be referred — that is, their source is located somewhere other than where it hurts. Notice what is limited and what might be overused.

9. Learn Motor Control.

Between postures, be patient and aware. Is there a smooth, graceful transition from one posture to the next? Control begins by shifting awareness to the present and noticing the fine details that happen during the transition.

10. Think About the Reason for Practicing.

This is not to create doubt, but to check in and see if body, mind, spirit, and life are benefiting. Whatever you do should help you to increase wholeness and wellness.

Keep these tips in mind as you practice yoga, or any exercise to keep a functional body. If you are looking for a starting point, my Mindful Movement Online Studio costs only $9.99/month for unlimited access to my entire video library.

Mindful Movement Online Yoga Studio

 

This post was originally published in the 2012 Edition of Natural Awakenings Milwaukee.
What Are Mantras?

What Are Mantras?

Being stressed appears to be the new norm. Tasks just keep piling up and finding time to de-stress seems to never fit into the day’s schedule. And when it comes to work, it may not be realistic to drop everything and hit up a yoga class or take a day at the beach. We can use mantras and affirmations to keep our mind calm and focused without detracting from our productivity.

As a yoga and mindfulness expert of more than seventeen years, I firmly believe in making small little changes to our lives. And at the end of the day, those small little changes all add up to big results.

And that is why incorporating the use of mantras into your life and workday can be a very effective way to curb stress, help you become more productive, and keep a “zen” state even in the most stressful of times.

The use of mantras can benefit anyone who incorporates them into their lives.

Benefits include:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Soothes stresses from technology hangover
  • Assists in shedding neurotic habits
  • Boosts immunity
  • They are FREE

What is a Mantra?

A mantra is a word or syllable repeated to help curb the mind and keep focus. It acts as a form of meditation. One would often use a mantra in yoga and meditation to help keep “the mind on the mat.” They are often also used in everyday life and given from teacher to student to help overcome obstacles, challenges, and transitions.

Incorporating mantras into ones’ workday can be a wonderful way to combat stress, keep better focus, improve confidence, and keep negative, self-sabotaging thoughts at bay.

How Do I use a Mantra?

If you are a yogi working with a teacher, one would often recommend you recite your given mantra for 108 times, X amount of times per day for so many days. (108 is a special number in the yogic world.)

Anyone can begin to use mantras and instantly benefit. And that means you can start today.

You may already have used a mantra and don’t even know it.

Affirmations are forms of mantras in the English form. Mantras can be more powerful as the vibrational tone. The sound of a mantra when spoken correctly aids the brain and our inner state more deeply than its English sister.

No matter where you start, a refocusing on the mind will surely follow, with commitment and regular repetition.

Where do I Start?

One of my favorite mantras that I was given during my stay at an ashram during one of my yoga teacher trainings is a mantra to Ganesha.

Ganesha is seen as the remover of obstacles. When chanted to, it can help you overcome, move through, or see more clearly that which is in front of you and needs to be dealt with.

Mantra for the Workplace

“Om Vakratundaaya Hum” (Ohm Vah-krah-TOON-die-yah Hoom)

When chanting this, you would either chant using a mala or even just chant this frequently during the day to help keep the mind focused and aid in working through difficulties.

If you would rather not use a Sanskrit mantra, then using affirmations (which many of us do already) is a great place to start.

I think of mantras as a way to change the internal voice we have. For many, that internal voice is negative and downgrading.

Affirmation for the Workplace

“Peace is within my reach” or “I am calm and focused”, or “Obstacles are opportunities”.

No matter what mantra or affirmation you choose, they don’t work and cannot help you if you don’t use them. Check out this blog post to learn how to craft your own personal, positive affirmations.

Please comment and share with me what mantras you have chosen for yourself!

 

Namaste.

 

 

This post was originally published in the March 2018 edition of Inspiyr.

The HOPE Process: Breath, Body, Belief for Addiction & Grief

The HOPE Process: Breath, Body, Belief for Addiction & Grief

No words can describe how I felt that day. It’s interesting because it’s over a decade later, but I still have that feeling of what it was like. I don’t think that ever goes away. For those of you who have lost a loved one—that numbness, that void, you don’t even know what to feel, or how to explain what you’re feeling. I remember walking out of the hospital thinking, “Every mom walks out with a baby. I’m a fraud. I’m not a mom.” And that process of grief, and learning how to live with loss, really settled in that moment.”

– Hope Zvara

In an episode of the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, I was interviewed by Heather Stang. Through my own experience, I have learned firsthand how yoga and mindfulness can help calm the mind and help us take a step or two away from self-defeating behaviors, such as addiction and eating disorders. I have also learned how to cope with the reality of loss by living my life in honor of my daughter, Faith, and helping other people live their best lives.

But all that didn’t come right away.

What my daughter Faith has shown me is the HOPE Process: Helping Others Purposefully Excel. This actually came to me at a point where I always say when we see a butterfly, it’s Faith saying hello. One afternoon I was thinking about her, and thinking about what a butterfly means. I Googled it and to my surprise, it means hope.

Moving Through Grief and Addiction

For those of you who lost someone, it’s not a textbook experience. It’s not, “you’re gonna go through this, and then you’re gonna go through this, and then you’re gonna go through this.” It is such raw emotion. What yoga has taught me through working through addiction and being in recovery now for 15 years, and losing my daughter, and finding life after the loss of my daughter is that you have two choices… You either choose to live, because they don’t get to anymore, or you choose to die with them.

No words can describe what I felt that day. For those of you who have lost a loved one, that numbness, that void. You don’t even know what to feel or how to explain what you are feeling.

If you are going through grief, loss, or addiction, I have a special meditation of Hope for Grief & Loss. I also have a course in my online studio that I offer to you for free, so that you may find a way to transform… to see your butterfly. Here is a Practice in Mindfulness that will help you move beyond grief.

Yoga Found Me and Saved Me

First came yoga. For me, yoga has transformed my life. I remember walking out of my first yoga class… and thinking “Oh my gosh. I have no thoughts.” Once I befriended my breath and was able to get back into my body, I began the journey of rediscovering my life’s meaning. I had to choose life because my daughter didn’t get to. Every single day after she had passed away, I had to wake up and tell myself that. I had to look in the mirror and say,

I have to live because she didn’t get to. Please give me my purpose.”

I always say that my Wednesday night yoga class became my weekly ritual of second chances. Those second changes eventually lead me to a yoga teacher training. That training became a platform for me to really heal and feel. Not only that, it put me in a position to teach others what I had learned through the HOPE process.

When I first found yoga, I did not realize I was holding my breath all the time. I don’t think anyone ever told me that I was breathing. Until that point in that first yoga class, and then in my training, I didn’t realize that this whole breathing thing was really important.

Helping Others Purposefully Excel – The HOPE Process

My marriage not only survived the death of her child, but it thrives because of mindfulness and mutual respect. We can grieve differently, but we don’t have to grieve alone. Losing a child can strain a relationship, but in our case, it brought us together.

Through all of these struggles, through all of this challenge, through middle school and high school and through my early twenties, something always kept telling me to keep pushing forward and keep going. At the suggestion of a caring soul, I found yoga.

Breath, Body, and Belief

Breath, Body and Belief are the pillars of the HOPE process. These three things are the cornerstone of everything that I teach. Everything to do with yoga, with healing, and with finding your path and life beyond grief.

Get in tune with your breath every day. Practice meditation. Practice just noticing your breath for a minute a few times a day.

Use your body with purpose. Move it every day. If you need a place to start, my Mindful Movement Online Studio is only $9.99/month and has a variety of classes, tailored to your needs.

Finally, it comes down to your belief. Pray, meditate, and give thanks to the universe for the life that you have. Live your live in honor.

 

Watch the Full Podcast Here:

Ditch Your To Do’s. Start Thinking Results

Ditch Your To Do’s. Start Thinking Results

How to Ditch Your To Do’s and Start Thinking in Results!💥💥

I have struggled for years feeling like I would always get so close to what I wanted, and then, I don’t know how else to explain it, but I just couldn’t get there.

What the heck was going on?

I could start the engine, but boy oh boy, why was it not taking me across the finish line?

Maybe you can relate. You see the vision, you know what needs to happen (at least most of it), you get it started, then WAMO! Something happens and all this other stuff starts to get in the way.

I mean, sure, it’s kind of important stuff. But none of it ever seems to help you reach your goal. There is just always MORE stuff piling up.

Yesterday morning I was gently reminded this morning that it’s not about a to-do list it’s about a results list.

For most of my life, including most of my adult life so far, I’ve only looked at the tasks in front of me.

AKA the overwhelming mountain that is just about impossible to climb up.

I pondered for a quite some time about the idea of looking at what you want versus what needs to be done.

And was reminded again just yesterday morning, through a morning motivation, that looking at the tasks in front of you as to-do items- already frustrated, complicates things, and build an even bigger mountain.

It’s like: “Someone help me, I’m drowning!”

But here’s the kicker and it’s not fancy. Things don’t change because of external circumstances. Things change because of internal circumstances. 

Roots to Rise Results Based Blog Post Hope Zvara

Where instead, if you think about the results that you want to happen in your life. And then ask yourself, what do I need to do to get there?

Work backwards.
One small thing at a time.

And stay away from unsupportive people. It’s an energy suck and YES! You will lose momentum.

Your focus is no longer all on the items that you have not yet done.
But on the positive result of that what you want to achieve.

Not to mention how many of us always pick the easiest to do list items and avoid the big ones that are going to push us towards our Dream results anyways?

I know I do this.

Why work on a big project proposal when I can clean the kitchen?

Sound familiar

Total transparency… My brain often wants to choose the easier tasks, because then if by chance I fail, I’ve already protected myself from it.

I’ve had to train my brain to just start looking at life this way. To stop sympathizing with the side of me that likes the overwhelm, that validates my frustration with a mounting to do list. And a poor me mentality.

👉What do I want?
👉What are the results I’m trying to achieve?
👉If I keep my eyes focused there, I’m going to stay more positive, and probably make better choices.

Remember this, change is hard. But it’s not impossible. It’s only impossible if you’ve already told yourself it’s going to be…

So today make it a point to physically write out your “Results List”... What do you want!? Keep that list handy and in easy sight. And when you start to engage in tasks, ask yourself “are these tasks, activities moving me towards my end game? Towards what I want most?”

After you write out your Results List reflect on why you want these things in the first place.

I wanted to land a big partner for my Mother Trucker Yoga company. I had one in mind. I thought about that partner all the time. And knew that would be a home run for me. Everything I was doing I was working to gain the notice and respect of that company. Then I landed an opportunity to work with them on a trial basis. I could have felt defeated in that I had to do a lot more than I had thought initially. And it was frustrating at times. It could have been easier to just do the minimum required. And when I got frustrated, I a few times found myself doing things that had nothing to do with landing this partnership.

HOPE WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING! I got so overwhelmed in those moments with other things, that in the end didn’t really matter. And would actually go away, and get handled later if I could land this partnership. But I let myself get distracted by those small tasks. Because achieving those small tasks gave me temporary happiness. Where climbing that mountain towards my BIG WIN, required a bit more grit.

So remember:

Think results not tasks.

Think results no to do lists.

Think results no instant gratification.

Think results…

#Last90Days

4 Lessons in Dealing With Unsupportive People

4 Lessons in Dealing With Unsupportive People

Nothing in this world is constant. Everything in this world is an opportunity to change, leap forward and grow. There may be people who don’t understand your journey, but there’s no reason to let them stop you. This story will teach you four lessons in dealing with unsupportive people.

Meet the Grasshopper

Once, I was driving with my mom and kids in the car with my moon roof open. Out of nowhere, a grasshopper leaped into the car and sat on my thigh as I was driving. All of us squealed in excitement for different reasons. My kids thought a grasshopper in our car was silly. My mom and I instantly thought about leaps forward in my life.

The grasshopper hung around for a while, then I cracked open my window and it sat on the edge for a few minutes. My mom commented,

Hope, you teach us in yoga to meet our edge, honor it and see what we can learn from that view.”

With the thought of sending it home, I gave it a small tap. Out of the window it flew, and back in it came. We all laughed, and my mom and I said at that moment,

Remember to trust. Big leaps forward in my life are necessary and present for me right now.”

I believe that life is constantly giving us signs and constantly telling us things helpful to our life. If we choose to listen. My little grasshopper friend was a confirmation to me that everything I am currently practicing and living is all part of my leap forward. Like a grasshopper, sometimes when you are about to leap forward, unexpected things come into play to try to throw you off.

How many times in your own life have you been confused for something you are not? Or have you been confronted with someone who won’t let go of your past persona and see you for as you are? How many times have you said one thing and because someone is unhappy with their own life, they turn it around to try to stop you from leaping forward?

Together, We Are Leaping Forward

Maybe you are a little like me: you go to the beat of your own drum, not like the norm, see purpose and learning opportunities in everything, and want to continue to change. You want to grow, and you notice when the growth is very prominent, on the cusp of leaping from well-cut grass to a tall, grassy hillside. There are unsupportive people and things in your life that come out of nowhere to try to steal that away from you.

You are the kind of person who tries to be honest. Sometimes, unsupportive people confuse that honesty with judgment. And usually, because those people don’t want to hear the truth. They try to stop your leap in mid-air because they don’t want anyone else around them leaping if they aren’t going to. Like a grasshopper, what works for others will not necessarily work for you. Even more so, what works for you will probably not work for anyone else.

So how do you be like that grasshopper and not get squashed in the process?

1. Like the grasshopper, it is important to understand that at times you may need to stay still.

Take it in. Don’t say a word and just let others do the talking. At other times or at a moment’s notice, you may need to take a huge leap into the air and land somewhat blindly. You must trust that it’s right.

2. Trust your inner voice.

Like a grasshopper’s inner ability to sense sound with their legs, sense the sound of your inner voice and trust that your navigation is on par.

3. A grasshopper has an inner sense of knowing when to make its leap.

Your progress is made in the form of mostly leaps, rather than steps. Likewise, your progress will most likely not be slow and steady, but a playful combination of leaps, hops, bounces, and strides. Like a grasshopper, those can sometimes be misunderstood. Know that your hop will only make sense to you, and it is not necessary for you to try to get others to understand.

4. Finally, a grasshopper can leap up to twenty times its height.

Our grassy friend can only leap up or forward, never back. So sure, glance back and see how far you have come. But for you my friend, the only way is up and forward by leaps and bounds. Not everyone will understand it, but other grasshoppers will. When you need it most, you will know to leap to a sunny mound and meet your fellow grasshoppers there. Then you can glance back again and see what you were able to overcome.

 

 

This post was originally published September 2012 on MindBodyGreen.
Wrist Relief 101

Wrist Relief 101

Repetitive wrist strain is one of the most common injuries the average American suffers. There is an astounding amount of people leading sedentary jobs. On top of that, we are living a life full of texting, Facebook and computers. There is little time of wrist relief for those poor little wrists of ours.

Fitness does not have to be formal. To be called yoga, it doesn’t even have to be practiced on a yoga mat. Three simple yet effective moves can help with writer’s cramp, carpal tunnel (which is simply inflammation in the carpal tunnel) and forearm strain. Let’s work to take a minibreak whenever we can to best help an area in which many have discomfort yet few do something about.

1. Wrist Extension

In a comfortable seated or standing position, extend your left arm directly out in front of the shoulder. Flex the hand to turn the fingers to the sky, palm facing out. Using the other hand, draw back on the extended arm’s fingers, thumb and top of the palm. Give a gentle pull as you reach out through the heel of the hand. You should feel this in your forearm. Imagine a rod extending out from the heel of the hand as you flex the palm back. Be mindful to keep the arm straight (no hyperextension in the elbow) and the shoulder relaxed.

Wrist Extension Hope Zvara Wrist Relief

Hold this simple yet intense stretch for five to ten slow mindful breaths, noticing the stretch in the palm as well as the forearm.

2. Wrist Flexion

Next, turn the fingers to face downward from the same extended position. Now using the opposite hand, draw back on the top of the palm (not just the fingers) and extend out through the top of the wrist. Check to keep the length through the arm. Allow the fold of the elbow to rotate upward as you relax the shoulder.

Wrist Flexion Hope Zvara Wrist Relief

Hold this stretch for five to ten breaths, noticing the stretch in the top of the wrist into the forearm.

3. Wrist Twist

Finally, take the same hand and place the palm to the center of the chest, fingers toward the sky. Using the opposite hand, clasp hold of the thumb side of the hand. Wrap your fingers into the center of the planted palm. Breathing calmly, start to guide the hand into a twisted position at the wrist line. As you twist the wrist, try to resist the twist, working to draw back against the twist feeling. You should feel a deep opening along the wrist and forearm. Be mindful to keep the wrist and hand upright to keep the twist balanced and deep.

Wrist Twist Hope Zvara Wrist Relief

Remain holding the twist for five to ten breaths. As you release, allow the hand to rest, then work it into an opening and closing movement until you feel balance once again.

These stretches are incredibly helpful for those of us who use computers on a regular basis. Many of our communities are now seeing repetitive wrist strain much earlier in life than ever before. Try to incorporate these three simple stretches into your day at any moment. Not only will they give wrist relief to the tech geek, they will also aid in some much-needed wrist rehab for those of you who suffer from Plank Pose complaints or tender wrists in any pose that puts pressure on the palms.

As you step back into your everyday lives, remember one important thing: Nothing works unless you actually do it. I hope you get some wrist relief – Good luck!


This article was featured in the April 2013 edition of Nature’s Pathway’s Magazine Southeast Wisconsin Edition. 
Remembering: Infant Loss Awareness Month

Remembering: Infant Loss Awareness Month

Ever October we Remember because it’s Infant Loss Awareness Month…

Every October we Remember. 

You don’t often realize how quickly time goes by until it’s…by.🍃

Hopes Family Supporting October Infant Loss Awareness Month

You think it will be next to impossible to make it through, over, or past something when you’re in the thick of it. But then one day it becomes apparent that you in fact have (for the most part) made it through.

12 years. 12 walks. 12 days. 12 times I’ve been faced to look out at other parents and see myself in various stages of grief.

🍃I told Brian 2 years ago driving home that I could tell which mom’s recently lost their baby. I could tell in their faces. The way they clung to their husbands. The look in their eyes.

 

That empty feeling. Looking at them was like a flashback to that same empty feeling. That same look. That same moment in time where it all seems too much. 12 years. This year I found myself yet again at a point of saddened happiness. Because there IS joy in my life.

Quilt Square Infant Loss Awareness Hope Zvara Blog

❤️I have the most amazing husband. Three beautiful, healthy children, and growing life’s work that I love and has REAL purpose to me. ❤️

But there are still moments when I am reminded that she’s not here. It’s bitter sweet. Because she gifted me my own life which is both simple and complicated to explain. And without her short life, we wouldn’t have Harper, Meredith and Ivan.

Every Year We All Gather…

 

Infant Loss Awareness Walk 2019

Year 12 and there were well over 120 people at the walk this year. Where 12 years ago there were maybe 50. And after we say a prayer and a song is sung. We speak out loud the names of our baby.

And every year my throat swells, and I feel hesitant to speak her name. With tears dripping into the corners of my mouth I waited for Brian to maybe say her name. But I know he knows to wait for me.

💜“Faith Lynn”. 💜

And in that quiet moment I’m reconnected to the first moment 12 years ago, like it was the first. I can’t explain it. But it was a relief. I feel relieved when I speak her name each year. I speak her name out loud to others.

You would think sharing my story countless times over the years would make it less emotional. But I am reminded of it doesn’t work that way. But this year. Year 12, I am also reminded of how I’ve grown. How my family has grown because of her.

The Never Ending Gifts from Faith…

My kids are now old enough to truly understand service to others. And they carried the quilt squares for others babies that weren’t there to be carried.

I know it might not seem like much. But to an 11,9 and 4 year old. Who wants to carry a blanket for a mile? But it opened up a conversation with them about support, respect, loss and being there for others. Another blessing yet again my tiny 2 pound daughter gave me and my family.

Whispering in my daughter’s ear to look out at all the families. And that one one thing we all have in common is a baby like Faith. That on any given day you wouldn’t know the loss and wounded heart we all carry and slowly are learning and have somewhat learned how to mend. But we are all connected.

Meredith Carrying Quilt Squares for A Walk to Remember

I looked at her face as she looked out. And for the first time I could see it. Compassion. ❤️A true and real understanding of compassion. All thanks to her sister Faith.❤️

It’s one day. One day out of the entire year that my family remembers together. That we honor her life and the thousands of real blessings that she has given us.

 

And selfishly my greatest blessing is my own life. 

Truthfully I don’t know where I would be today without her life as it was.

Words cannot and will never express the deep sadness I feel for her loss. But the deep undying gratitude and love I feel for what she gave me.

An opportunity to have a life worth living. 

Milwaukee Walk to Remember Hope Zvara Blog Post

I keep sharing, every single day…I keep sharing.

Most of the stuff I write is usually for me. Maybe a form of therapy or expression I guess. And in hopes to help or inspire another…

 

If you have lost a baby. If you understand that deep sense of emptiness I’m talking about. If you wonder what good could ever come of something like this.

🙏Please know.

🙏I pray.

🙏I’m proof.

Quilt Squares for Lost Infants Hope Zvara Blog Post

There can and will be blessings, good and healing.

❤️But do not be afraid to be in pain.

❤️Do not be afraid to cry your tears dry. 

❤️And do not be afraid to feel that hole in your heart.

💜Because that pain will lessen.

💜The tears will soften.

💜And the hole will one day sprout a new flower all because of what had once grown there.

Never replacing. But rather adding to the space that was once empty.

October Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

 

October is Infant Loss Awareness Month and I urge you to take even just a moment to connect with the notion that an innocent child’s life no matter how small is a life. I am grateful for the time I had with my daughter and now, 12 years later, am grateful for her sacrifice. 

🙏 #dailydoseofhope #infantlossawarenessmonth

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