Dear Driven Woman: Keep Going

Dear Driven Woman: Keep Going

Dear Driven Woman,

Keep going. I get you–I see you–I am you. Even though you may feel alone at times, you are not. To get where you want to go isn’t easy. It will take every ounce of you but I know you can do this. I believe in you.

I AM DIFFERENT

It is said that adversity reveals one’s true character. For me, this couldn’t have been truer. 

I never really put much thought into the “type” of person I was. Growing up, I realized at an early age that others didn’t think like me.  They just weren’t motivated like I was. However, as I struggled with an eating disorder and an endless list of additional “problems”, it wasn’t until then that I truly saw the depths of my own character. I WAS different. 

CHOOSING TO THRIVE

As I was working through my recovery, not one but THREE doctors all told me the same thing–“Best case scenario, Hope, is that you need to learn how to ‘function’ in this world, on medication.” I KNEW that wasn’t my destiny and I wasn’t going to be satisfied with simply surviving in life. My destiny was to thrive and I was going to do it my way–because I was different. 

Driven Woman Hope Zvara Mother Trucker Yoga Blog Post

Hope Zvara of Mother Trucker Yoga

We are all different and have different values. There are certain things that drive us, motivate us, and push us over the edge. For me–I love working and enjoy contributing. Idle downtime is the devil for me. My idea of “downtime” is yoga, going for a walk, working out at the gym, or playing with my kids. Working and contributing allows me to thrive in life rather than simply surviving. To be honest, working and contributing helped me recover and continues to help me stay the path. That’s me. For you–you might be the complete opposite and that’s okay. It’s what makes the world go round. 

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR BEING YOU

Continually over the last 15 years, countless onlookers have said to me:

  • “You are so busy.”
  • “Hope, you do way too much.”
  • “How do you have time to do ______?”
  • “You should slow down and take a breath.”
  • “Hope–you just never stop, do you?”
  • “Listen, you should slow down and take a breath.”

Well, guess what–this is just HOW I AM! I never see working or contributing in life as “doing so much” or “being busy.” I have goals, dreams, and the determination to get there. I am driven and recognize that no one will build the life I want except for me. My purpose surrounds my family and my job. Both enable me to stay healthy. I built a successful business and my family continues to thrive. I will not apologize for this–ever. I’ll never apologize for being me. 

So, what you may view as “busy,” is me being me. When you say, “Hope, your plate is too full”, well that is me filling my cup with great things. When you suggest that I “need to slow down”, it’s me actually being driven and focused. Furthermore, you should never judge a book by its cover. 

never apologize for being a powerful woman blog post

BUSY VS. PRODUCTIVE

I learned a long time ago–there is a difference between busy work and doing things that build something great. No matter who you are that may be worth reflecting on.

Being busy just for the sake of being active is a waste of time, energy and will eventually break you. But entering into tasks, ideas, and projects that build what you want and where you want to go, is a smart and effective use of your time and talents.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I’ll leave you with this: To all those out there who are highly motivated, go-getters, and dream seekers–keep doing you I see you, I get you, I’m cheering for you.

For those people that have time to judge the actions of others, I urge you to consider that maybe you could be a bit more motivated, driven, or purposeful. And, please, consider what comes out of your mouth and how it may affect the person you are saying it to. Words hurt.

Blessings,

Hope

Hope Zvara Square image

 

#dailydoseofhope

PS. I am confident that someone will read this post and take offense. To those people, I urge you to dig a bit deeper and ask yourself why. You may be surprised as to what you find.

4 Steps to Getting Out of Your Own Way

4 Steps to Getting Out of Your Own Way

My life has been filled with some super deep, dark lows, fantastic highs, and everything in between. I’ve projected my own shortcomings onto other people. My self-sabotaging behavior has occurred more times than I’d care to admit. Worst of all, I rarely even realized I was doing it.

The truth is, I had become a master at standing in my own way. 

Changing My Ways

Our personality and life experiences determine the ways we think and react. I grew up observing people in my life, blame, judge, and criticize those around them. So, naturally, that was the pattern I fell in to. It was easier to blame others than take ownership and responsibility for my own actions. However, at some point, I decided that I was in charge of my own journey. 

Creating New Habits

Without realizing it, I had been living a life of self-sabotage. My negative ways of thinking and feeling were controlling my everyday life. Instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t control, I decided that I had to focus on the most significant barrier in my life. It was the one that I had the most control over–myself. 

Learning to get out of my own way and pivot was a process. It wasn’t easy. I had to dismantle the sole self-defense mechanism that I had been using my entire life and develop new ways of thinking. I decided that I was going to get something out of everything. I was going to learn from everything and always ask myself before I speak, type, or share: “How will this help me or others?”

This simple mindset shift helped me get out of my own way. It made me:

♥️ Swallow my pride.

♥️ Move forward and let things go–even when I didn’t want to.

♥️ Press on and keep on so I could move on.

If you worried you’re getting in your own way, too, here are my tips to help you overcome your old ways.

4 Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way and Pivot

Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing? Who benefits from what you are about to do or say? What value does it put back on life after such an engagement? Getting clear here will help you speak and begin to live more confidently. 

1. Focus on What is Essential

It is easy to get distracted by things that don’t matter in life. Before you know it, that “thing” is consuming everything you are thinking about and everything you do. Every day, take a timeout minute and think about all the things, people, and experiences that make you grateful. Bonus- write them down. Doing so helps get your mind in the right frame of mind because nothing good comes from anger and hate.

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People

I know this can be challenging because we faced with unrealistic perfection in today’s world. Filters, edited life moments, what some call the “highlights reel” of someone’s life, makes the stress of not being enough can be overwhelming. A few years ago, I stopped looking at the tabloids and magazines in the checkout aisles. Why? Well, I realized that looking at celebrities’ perfect lives and bodies was giving me anxiety and pushing my mood and mind in a negative direction. So, I stopped looking at them. I limited social media scrolling and took time to notice trigger people, feeds, and posts. And I stay away. 

3. Change the Script

There was a time in my life that I would look back on my life and only see struggles and unfair circumstances. When I recognized that I wanted to get well and didn’t want to be a spiraling out addict anymore, I started to change my internal script. Instead of seeing all the bad, that happened to me as a punishment. I began to look at it as learning things I needed to learn and preparing me for something bigger than me. I began to see the challenges as opportunities to help me. They helped me later connect with my audience, students, and friends and give perspective I would not have had without my unfair struggle.

4. Give Yourself a Timeout

I know there are mixed feelings about giving a time out. But timeouts can offer us a moment to breathe, feel, and process. Yes, I am that parent that uses timeouts with my kids. It’s not so much a punishment as it is a time to breathe, feel, and think. I approach those timeouts as moments where they can figure out what they are feeling, breathe, and calm down so we can have a conversation and communicate. Timeouts, when done correctly, can be helpful tools for all parties and can both teach and foster personal growth and self-control. As an adult, I have learned first hand the full value of stepping away and then using the timeout not to think negative thoughts. But to process the situation and how I feel. 

The Choice Is Yours

Today, as you read this, I believe you have two choices. You can either continue to be wrapped up in your own story, your struggle, your fears, worry, jealously, and sadness OR you can GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY AND PIVOT.

No one but you can get you to move out of your own way. You are in charge of your own destiny. So, the choice is yours: Do You Want to Thrive or Survive?

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 ♥️.

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!

3 Easy Poses to Instantly Banish Stress

3 Easy Poses to Instantly Banish Stress

Stress can be overwhelming and even debilitating. It can cause headaches, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. Obviously, we all know that stress isn’t good for us physically or mentally. So, how do we banish stress in our every day lives?

As a yoga teacher, I encourage others to live a life where they can stay grounded, focused, balanced, and content. Yoga has helped me a great deal with handling stress and the side effects of stress. It helps to relieve tension by keeping me focused on my breath rather than all the thoughts racing through my heads.

Whether you are at home, work, or somewhere in between, yoga is a great way to find stress relief. So, to help you on your journey of finding ways to banish stress, here are three of my favorite yoga poses.

3 Poses to Banish Stress Instantly

Devotional Pose 

Devotional Pose

Devotional Pose

This pose is such a surrender for me. When I go here, I instantly let go. As I work to widen my knees slowly, I feel relief to feel such space (even if it doesn’t look like it). The freedom of my body letting go into the safety of the floor for a few minutes is all I need to feel a bit more like myself.

Legs Up With Support Pose

Legs Up With Support Pose

Legs Up With Support Pose

This pose is a go-to to help relieve the physical, emotional, and mental symptoms of stress. The feeling of my sacrum flat to the hard floor and my spine realigning without the burden of gravity is genuinely liberating. This pose allows me to let go. I totally give in to the fact that, at that moment, I am only human and not superwoman. What often starts as just a minute on my mat quickly ends up as ten, and trust me, you won’t be complaining.

Seated Forward Bend Pose

Seated Forward Bend Pose

Seated Forward Bend Pose

This pose is often used in yoga therapy to help manage depression. It is also known to soothe headache and anxiety and reduce fatigue. The feeling of bending forward eases the mind. My warm breath against my thighs brings me full circle to the simplicity that I am okay the way I am.

Be gentle to yourself so that life can be gentle back to you. Never force yourself into a forward bend, especially when sitting on the floor. With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly, with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. If you are new to this pose, it helps to hold a strap around the feel. If you are incredibly tight, place a rolled-up blanket under your knees for added support. The more you relax in this pose, the more naturally your body will open up. 

You Are Worth It

Making things drawn out and complicated only stresses us out more. Don’t overthink it. Sometimes you don’t have the time or the mental discipline to hop onto your mat, and that is okay. I get it. However, what I have discovered is that if you do make the time for yourself, you will see how yoga can help you physically, mentally, and emotionally. You are worth it and you owe it to yourself to make time for you.

And if you want to get professional, inspiring, functionally-safe classes all in the comfort and privacy of your own home. You must check out my online studio. No travel, no hassle, no sitters, and no fuss. This is not your typical yoga or fitness studio–it’s a fresh approach that I know you will enjoy. 

Hope Zvara Mindful Movement Online Studio

 

If you are experiencing stress right now, here are some other helpful resources:

Meditations for Stress Relief

Mindful Ways to Reduce Stress

Navigating Stress In Life

 

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