How do you develop insight and your own voice?

How do you develop insight and your own voice?

When was the last time you truly felt like you could see clearly and speak up in your own unique truth?

When was the last time you spoke up without questioning who you would offend?

For years now, I have felt like I have so much to share, as a teacher and as a person. I have been given a plethora of life experiences at an early age and I know in my gut that this was no mistake. Yet for much of my life I was very scared, scared mainly because I was afraid of what others would think or say; scared that I might offend someone, that they might not agree and then as a result not like me.

Those thoughts for years kept me from sharing my insight, thoughts, opinions and ideas. Even in casual conversation with friends and family, I would often do more of the listening and hardly any sharing because I didn’t want to be different, I didn’t want to make anyone mad. And when I knew I had a different opinion I struggled in holding onto my own truth.

I would go home from those conversations mad at myself for either not speaking up or leaving my opinion beaten into something that I didn’t stand for. I didn’t have the backbone to be okay with my belief and being different than the rest.

This people-pleasing mindset left me even more unhappy, even more angry, and irritated at the world. In reality, I did not know that this anger and irritation was really more about me… because I didn’t have the skills to speak up confidently without taking others actions and reactions so personally. I was mad at myself and projecting it onto others as their fault.

Yoga has helped me a great deal with developing insight, and with insight you are able to see things differently, you are able to step back, practice compassion and at the same time, practice standing in your truth.

Insight can be a tool to help you make changes in your life, but having insight doesn’t mean you are perfect and it surely doesn’t mean you never make mistakes.

Before I was a bystander in my life, and now I get to be fully integrated into it. I’m constantly learning. I would often tell my husband how much I admired his abilities to tell it like it is, and not care. He would often reply back, “I do care, just not about everyone’s BS, I have my own issues. I don’t need to hear about everyone else’s.” He is always saying that when you are upfront right away about things, there is no guessing and less issues later (if you are wondering he does a lot of wheeling and dealing and is a business owner too).

So how do you develop insight and your own voice?

Here is what I’ve learned:

How to Develop Insight and Speak Your Truth

1. Breathe more, talk less.

Learn to focus on your breathing. Breathing keeps you in the present moment and helps you slow down. If you are not breathing then internally you are putting yourself in a position of anxiety and stress where it can be difficult to think straight and truly feel. So in those moments of truth and honesty, in those moments of both giving and receiving information slow down to breath more and talk less, this will help you feel and evaluate what you are going to say before you say it.

2. Think before you talk (or write).

Get quiet and ask yourself, why am I going to say/write this? Who will it help, is it truthful and honest? I can’t count the number of times I write a comment on social media, type a reply to a video, email or go to post something myself only to delete it because when I reread and reflect I feel in my gut it’s not worth it and I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons. There are times to speak up and times to shut up.

3. Be Honest.

Privately practice getting honest with yourself, talk out loud to yourself, and practice speaking your truth (or writing your truth). In the beginning it may not be pretty, but as you gain better insight skills you will be able to tame and mold it. I have written countless blog posts, only to never publish them in fear someone might not agree, or might get angry or take it personally, this is no way to live.

4. The people you surround yourself with, are a reflection of who you are.

Surround yourself with people that inspire you to be better, people that you want to aspire to be like, remember you become your company. Be in good company of people who have mastered the art of insight and speaking up, learn from them, even ask them questions, doing this has offered me some of the greatest insights and self reflection.

5. Speak up with safe people.

Speaking up with people who you trust and people you can maybe even share what you are working on with. The only way to get better at riding your bike is to watch a YouTube video do it over and over again.

6. Practice NOT having the last say.

This is a hard one for many, sometimes speaking up means you say nothing and let things go, this has been a great practice of developing personal strength and insight as to why I feel the need to fix or have the last say. What matters truly is what you think of yourself. And what I have discovered is that my need to have the last say was a direct response to feeling like I was never heard. (Try practicing #1 to help you practice #6)

7. Remember, negative feelings pass.

Start to sit with the uncomfortable feelings after you speak your truth and let yourself feel those feelings. Those feelings don’t last forever, but they do stick around if you continually avoid them. Being uncomfortable is a huge part of growth and a huge part of change. I see this often, people deflecting change by blaming others, or giving excuses for what they are not willing to address and take action on themselves. I have both been the target, and have targeted others due to a lack of skills and insight; the only reason I see this now is because I was the queen of this for many years.

If you are a yogi, I would encourage you to consider a slower practice to help you learn to sit with the feelings more, feel them and let them pass.

8. Observe your body language, and tone of voice.

Parenting is a great example. If you parent from across the room you can pretty much expect your child to never listen or take you seriously. Just as important, if you ask your child to do something or listen to you and you are requesting them to do so while scrolling on your smartphone, do you think they will take you seriously? If you don’t give them complete attention, why should others do the same to you? There are a million angles to take on this. Feeling inferior? Try sitting up tall, or uncrossing your arms and legs to help you receive better. Make eye contact when you talk and use inflections in your voice to stress importance in the conversation. These are all things I use in my personal life and when I teach to help students stay tuned in.

9. There’s always room for growth!

No matter where you are in your life there is always room for growth and insight. I see now what I could not see before, that those who develop a sense of self, a voice and a truth are the ones who receive what life has to offer more fully, because the goodness that is waiting for them knows where to go and is then well received.

When was the last time you spoke up for yourself?  Be well, my friends. Namaste.

Stepping Off The Struggle Bus: 3 Steps to Getting Off

Stepping Off The Struggle Bus: 3 Steps to Getting Off

Stepping off the struggle bus: 3 steps to getting off.

Struggle has become a household word. And for some…a badge of honor. 
It seems in today’s world we are all striving to “get somewhere”. And there is nothing wrong with that!

Having goals, hopes and dreams keeps one motivated, focused and driven. 
But what happens when you find yourself stuck on the struggle bus? 

What do you do when you just don’t know what to do next? 
Everything is blurry, overwhelming, and just too big to handle?

I use to spin my wheels and struggle (and still do on several occasions), hide in the comforts of what was familiar, easy, and “going good”. 
But within those gates I would complain, cry and do I dare say pout about how I felt like I constantly had one foot on the struggle bus, and that I “couldn’t” get it off. 

I’ve been an entrepreneur all my adult life! 
I was taught to grind (in a sense that struggle was the way and method), to put your head down and keep going. 
And for most of my life that has served me well in the notion that I don’t give up easy. 

But now almost 35, I have realized that it’s perfectly OK to hop off the struggle bus and see what else is out there. Who else is out there, and what other buses are driving around to… HELP? And even if I fall stepping off, I’m at least off.

See it’s funny, I was never really taught collaboration and that there are truly others out there who WANT to help you.
See, I was taught survival. 
And clawing my way out of an eating disorder, survival was essential. 
But there comes a time when you evolve past that and need, and you begin to step out of survival mode. 
Or at least you begin to see you that you want to do that. 

That process for me. Stepping out and off the struggle bus was HARD
I’d get one foot off and freak out and grip the struggle bus tighter. Even though I hated it, it was comfortable and familiar, and I did not want to have to go out there and “figure it all out” all over again… Talk about overwhelm.

So when I started taking my teaching to a larger audience both off and online I wanted to remove all the barriers of entry. 
I want to collaborate with you, help you off the struggle bus, and I’ve been, there so let me remove all the “I can’t do this” objections. 

Do you want to know what I found… 
What I discovered when I started to reach out to help others?
The same thing I did to countless people when they tried to reach out to me. People didn’t do it. They still didn’t come to class, invest in themselves, in what I had essentially created just for them. 
I had paved the way (just like others did for me).

Did they not want it? 
Was their grip too tight, just like mine to the struggle bus?
Did they too have one foot off just enough to feel free, but comfortable at the same time?

In the last 20 years of my life I have discovered one vital thing…You can’t make someone grow, step off the bus, or even look up at the horizon if they are not ready. 

I remember a time when I was that very person. Nothing my parents, my school teachers, my counselor could say was going to change my mind and my ways. I liked the struggle bus. I did. It was comfortable, predictable, familiar, and as horrible as it was for my well-being, it made me just happy enough to limp by in life. 

I don’t want that for you. 
When I see someone struggling, I see myself flash before my own eyes, reminding me of my own struggle and how essential it SITLL is to keep pressing forward and surrounding myself with others, ideas and tools that help me to press on and stay off the struggle bus.

Here are my 3 best tips for stepping off the struggle bus:

1. Invest in yourself. Misery loves company and when you are caught in that cycle of struggle, your inner state will often refuse help, ideas, and making any kind of positive investment in yourself. You’ll find reasons also known as excuses to not do things like take a yoga class, invest in a workshop or online course, or even something as simple as take a nap or vent to a close friend. Step one to stepping off the struggle bus is to believe you are worth the time and investment. And if you don’t, do it anyway.

2. Pick your friends wisely. They (not sure who “they” is) say you are the accumulation of the 5 people you most frequently surround yourself with. So, make a list and see with your own eyes who those people are. Stepping off the struggle bus is all about coming to reality with where your life is right now. And then beginning to make those decisions as to how to move forward.

3. Call yourself out on your excuses. I started to notice that whenever someone would suggest something to me, offer me an opportunity or the most perfect program or offering came my way I would always tell myself some excuse I would disguise as a “reason” as to why I couldn’t do that or have that.

I challenge you to call yourself out on those moments then trace it back. So, I began to ask myself on those occasions “Why Hope, why can’t you”. And what I discovered is all those moments (yes, I said all) traced back to unworthiness and fear. Nothing real and legitimate. If it was about money, it was really about a fear I had around money not thinking I deserved it. Or I would hype my life up that I am “so busy” that I just don’t have the time to do such a thing, which in all reality I wasn’t willing to make the time and put myself out there that I was of value and worthy. I challenge you to try this and free yourself by stepping off the struggle bus right now.

This message may have hit a chord with you, and if it has, I want to welcome you to the first steps of stepping off the struggle bus and beginning to open your eyes to the idea that you are a rock star!

And as you begin to step off, if by chance you are ready to look up, I’ll be waiting here.

Having removed all the barriers as to why you can’t step off with my personally crafted programs made just for you (well, in all honesty, just for me, because most people create great things based on their own struggles, breakthroughs, and divine moments).

Want to take a look? Just hop on over HERE and take a look. Whose ready to step off the struggle bus and make a change?

Where has all the gratitude gone?…

Where has all the gratitude gone?

I grew up with my father making certain that my sisters and I understood the necessity of respecting your elders. And now I can only speak for myself now as an adult, but this (of many) things he spoke to us about has deeply been ingrained into my head and will forever be a teaching moment that I now use for my kids as well.

What does gratitude mean to you in today’s world? Well for starters when typing in “what does gratitude mean” into Google: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness comes us as the definition.

And when I read that short but powerful and on point definition, the “show appreciation for and return kindness is like a firework in my mind. When we get all stuck on trying to make a living, get somewhere, be someone it can be very easy to forget about gratitude.

With gratitude comes an ease of living. With gratitude, you are constantly (forced) to keep life in perspective.

In order to have gratitude you have to be a bad ass, you have to train your brain to think that way. Because as the old saying goes “if you cannot be grateful for what you have, how will you be grateful for what is to come”?…

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that here in the U.S. (and maybe other countries as well) that many have slowly slipped away from seeing wisdom from our elders as important. Who needs an old person when you have Google? Who needs a story repeated ten times over when you can download an E-Book about it and read it in peace?

But peace comes from patience and patience is developed through being more mindful…

Are you looking to create monumental clarity in just five minutes a day?

Does your attitude need a clearing? Click here to access the fastest and easiest meditation to a grateful heart and a clear mind!>

Several years ago I took a class (and I wish I could remember with who) and I came across a few notes on gratitude, they were as follows:
  • You must be resilient in life to be happy and healthy.
  • You must have humor
  • Live life and not take it so seriously
  • You must take a moment each day to really live!…
  • We were encouraged to find a beautiful moment, a silly moment and a delicious moment in each day.

In re-reading all of this, the decision that perception is a moral test asking us if we take time each day to see beauty.

Gratitude keeps us connected to the real rhythms of life. The ones that make us thankful for living, for breathing, for being exactly who we are.

Are you grateful? Are you thankful for what you have? Where are you going? Where are you right now?

To cultivate gratitude one must shift their focus and create clarity in that process. What have you done to create that?

Are you looking to create monumental clarity in just five minutes a day?

Does your attitude need a clearing? Click here to access the fastest and easiest meditation to a grateful heart and a clear mind!>

Light it up! Your gifts are a flame…

Light it Up!

For many, they don’t see their gifts at all. They don’t see their natural God-given talents as anything more than something to do.

But here’s the thing there is a reason you were born with them. And truth be told, when you look at yourself, and then look at another and feel yours aren’t as good or are not what “everyone else” seems to have; news flash, they aren’t supposed to be like everyone else.

Wouldn’t life be boring if we all had the same gifts?

So in that thinking, what are you naturally good at, what are your talents, what comes easy, what makes your heart sing?

Humor me for a bit as you read this post and forget school, forget what you learned, forget what you were told to focus on, take interest in be it at a desk, on a field, or in a book.

What do you love, what are you good at, what makes you want to grab a torch and light ‘er up?

Because your gifts are a flame and guess what? You-yes you, get to hold the torch. Don’t be afraid, don’t judge, analyze, or wonder if it’s right, good enough or will fit in. Because truth be told, it won’t! And that’s the whole point!

It saddens me when I look out and see so many that just aren’t willing to even hold the torch out of fear they will get burned. Out of worry, their flame won’t burn as bright as others.

I was that person, I have spent most of my life in fear I wasn’t good enough, it had been ingrained into my DNA that this what the mentality one takes in life. And for years it crippled me, for years it kept me only holding the torch, but so afraid to light it.

And then even when I got to light it, I was constantly analyzing if my flame was up to snuff.

Well, mine is and so is yours.

But you have to believe it, and sadly many won’t. Many will only think about it, only choose to watch on the sidelines, only talk about others flames be it positive or negatively.

It takes an extraordinary person to carry fire, to light a path for themselves and others.

So I say…Burn it up!!!!!

What lights your path? What are you burning up about? I want to know.

Leave a comment, I can’t wait to hear about what kind of fire you are running with!

 

xx

Hope

Marriage is a Journey

Some say nothing is forever anymore, and maybe that is true, but then again, maybe someone said that who would have rather given up then figured out a solution.

Ten years is a long time…I guess.

Ten years seems short when you see others married 30, 40, even 60 years. I love the dance at weddings where couples get up and dance and as their year of marriage gets called they have to sit down. I always try to guess how long the last couple will be married. And at the last few weddings, I have been blown away at the years together: one was 56 years, another 63, another 60! How amazing, and the best is when they dance, they look so happy! But truth be told, I’m absolutely sure not every day of their married lives were a walk in the park, was as blissful as that one moment I got to see.

Today marks the day that my husband and I have been married for TEN years. I guess considering we are only 32 that is a long time, but then again I’m only 1/6 of the way to those happy dancing couples I saw dancing a few months back.

Marring Brian was easy, I knew I was going to marry him when I was twelve years old. How, not really sure, just a part of me knew that. And just when I thought I’d lost my chance, I went all in, and yep, as the story goes, at 17 we became high school sweethearts.

We’ve only been married for 3652.5 days, but I assure you, we know commitment. Life is not easy and when you combine your life with another, well let’s just say it gets more complicated. Day after day, after day, you have to continually consider the other person’s needs, wants, dreams, hopes, even shortcomings, and character defects (because hey, we all have them) and that is in addition to still trying to live your life and do your thing and follow your path.

That commitment pushes your buttons, that commitment warms you up and in a moment’s notice pours cold water on you, that commitment is confusing, frustrating and unfair (at times), I bet no one wrote that into their vows.

But commitment is also reassuring, loving, comforting, and supportive, and for me, it feels secure, it feels safe, it’s the biggest promise I will ever make.

I’ve grown a lot in the past ten years and I’m sure Brian will say the same, but that growth is kinda part of the ride, like a road trip so to speak, you can plan all you want but the trip usually doesn’t go as planned, and if you get too attached to the plan you will probably always end up disappointed.

So in ten years both Brian and I have moved through recovery from an eating disorder, lost our first child, grieved the loss of our first child, opened up a business, took on several other business endeavors, had four kids, bought a house, and are still busy working towards a future together hopefully for many more years to come.

Here’s the thing, I struggled to discover who I was early on in our marriage, I hadn’t really known me for a long time and as I became more myself each day it slowly changed my perception on marriage. I use to think that when you married someone you both then were to be walking one path together. But I would think about that concept often and it just wouldn’t make sense to me and I would be left with confusion as to how this would all work. But then I had a wave of relief one day and for the last nine years, I have worked to live my life this way in our marriage.

Married or not, you walk your path, each day you discover more of who you are and what you believe in, how you will help the world. But when you marry, your path aligns with another’s, you don’t walk each other’s path, you don’t block, hurt, or hinder the path of the other. You walk parallel, and when your partner happens to fall behind, you lead, you reach out your hand and help. And then when you find yourself to have fallen, your chosen partner will be there to reach out a hand, to stand strong while you are weak, and lead. Neither person is better than the other because your paths aren’t the same. The roles you share with you are just that shared. It may be years you carry certain responsibilities and at a moment’s notice that role shifts and the other takes hold.

Marriage is a balance of give and take, there is no room to be selfish and no matter what there will always be temptation to try to steer you off your path, but one thing Brian and I have talked about is “choice”, everything in life is a choice, and ten years ago we made a choice to walk side by side one another through thick and thin, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health, and yes till death do us part. In marriage you learn to ride the wave, if you fight it you’ll end up unhappy, but if you learn to ride it, it becomes just that-a ride!

I don’t know what the next ten years will bring, heck what the next year will bring, but that is kind of the point. You will never know it all, but as we grow side by side it’s like a new relationship each day, and each of those days is an opportunity to be the best version of ourselves both for our own sake and each other. And that “newness” is a push to learn new things about ourselves, an encouragement to move forward rather than be left behind. Marriage is a balance of all of that and more…

To many more years.. xx

Brian and Hope 10 years of marriage | Marriage Blog HopeZvara.com

 

6 Tips To Becoming More Productive

6 Tips To Becoming More Productive

I think it’s safe to say that if you are reading this, you might be feeling the deep need for some help in the productivity department. I get it, I have lots of ideas, but often would lack a clear outlook for how to get them all to play out. We all want to be more productive! So then, as a result, I’d end up frozen in place with tons of great ideas but nothing to show for it.

 

Here are 6 viable tips to becoming more productive:

 

1. Get your ideas out.

Be expansive in your thinking. It’s time to make a HUGE LIST! Yes, I said HUGE LIST of everything you are thinking. If you question it, don’t. It gets put on there, too. This is the first step: here, you brainstorm, collaborate, reflect, dream and yes, make a list of it all. You may be surprised at what comes out. This list is unfiltered and not to be put in categories, just free-flow writing.

2. Focus in.

O.K. so now it’s time to be more selective with what you came up with. You go to eat at a buffet and there is a ton of food there, but you are selective about what you put on your plate. Focus in on what will pay off. Know that there will be stuff on your list that doesn’t’ make the cut.

3. Identify your priorities.

When you identify your priorities, it’s helpful to use the 80/20 rule. Give 80% of your efforts to the top 20% (these are the most important) activities. This was a struggle for me for a long time. I wanted to do it all, be it all, and say yes to everyone. Now I see that in many people that are just starting out – I call it the “I’m everything bio.” I will often read a biography and see the long list of “styles” of yoga they teach or all the many modalities they do all listed out in their tagline, or in their short bio. That is the red flag of trying to do it all (I was there for a long time). Give attention to the areas that bear fruit!

4. Set more immediate goals.

Sometimes, don’t think so far ahead – set more immediate goals. When I was early in recovery, thinking weeks or months out gave me major anxiety and that would spin me back into the cycle of my eating disorder. When I started out just focusing on the next ten minutes, the next hour, the next day, and so on, I built up an ability to handle the big picture.

5. Where do you shine?

Ask friends and family where you shine most. Don’t be shy – ask for honesty. You might get answers you didn’t expect or answers that aren’t the direction you are pressing so hard to go in. Don’t be the person who tries so hard to go against their gift. Just because another’s gift looks so great, remember, that is their gift, not yours. This might also be a good place to try taking a personality test (DISC or Myers-Briggs are two options.)

6. Look behind you.

See where your past successes are. You can do that by looking back at what you have accomplished in the past, and by what maybe didn’t work.

As you work to become more productive, consistency is key. If you feel overwhelmed, focus in on one tip at a time and then go from there. Slow and steady, and soon enough you’ll be picking up speed.

You can also check out my tips on How to Stay Focused: Tips for the Unfocused Mind. These ideas are sure to help on your journey toward becoming more productive!

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