Yoga Retreat in Aruba with Yoga Girl Rachel Brathen

Susanne’s World has been under construction for the past nine months or so. My life turned upside down within the past year as I’ve been turning upside down, literally, advancing my yoga practice by doing handstands. The more work I did on myself, the more I realized I wasn’t truly happy. Today I am grateful I had the courage and the strength to recognize that and make the changes that needed to be made. I got divorced, sold and moved out of my house, and started crossing things off my bucket list. I spent last week in Aruba doing a yoga retreat with Yoga Girl Rachel Brathen, connecting with a beautiful new place on the earth, deepening my yoga practice and truly spending every day exactly how I wanted to. I have a new love in my life (an old friend since seventh grade) and couldn’t be happier. He joined me on the yoga retreat, and we had an amazing time together!

IMG_4367.JPG

arrival day

I was starstruck when I first saw Rachel and Dennis. She is an internet celebrity, someone who inspires me daily with her pictures, videos, and words. Seeing her in person at the welcome dinner was amazing. I was giddy, hugging her saying, “I love you!” She was so cool and down to earth with a friendly smile. She shares highlights and lowlights from her life on social media, so it was like meeting someone I already knew a little about. We talked a little about her wedding and honeymoon as well as the recent passing of one of her dogs. Out on the beach, there were baby sea turtles in protected areas hatching and making their way to the sea. I wasn’t lucky enough to see one of them, but some other people in our group did and posted videos and pictures. We had a lovely dinner and met new friends, enjoyed the sunset and starry night sky.

IMG_4460.JPG

with Rachel and Dennis

This is a typical view from the beach chairs in front of Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, where we stayed. We did our daily handstand in front of our spot that day.  Instead of beach umbrellas, there were beach tiki huts, and the kind staff at the resort set up the chairs and brought drinks.   Eagle Beach is the widest beach on the island of Aruba, and our resort didn’t have any kids activities, so it was peaceful and serene.   There was a relatively long walk on the white sands until you hit the turquoise waters due to the wideness of the beach.  The sand was white and didn’t get too hot.  The color of the water was something I’ve never seen before.  Bright turquoise is the best description I can muster.  There were gentle waves and plenty of room to swim and float around.  A line of buoys contained the swimming area.  I swam out there and back a few times. The water got too deep to stand right away so it was fun to take a little swim.

IMG_4443.JPG

handstands on the beach

IMG_4466.JPG

typical view from my beach chair

We had two Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) yoga lessons on Palm Beach near the high rise hotels. It was the more touristy and more crowded part of the island, but the water was still amazing! It was waist deep and calm. We used special boards made for doing yoga (Boga boards). They were wide and rounded on the ends and had a sticky yoga mat on the top. Doing yoga on the water is especially challenging because the stability of the floor is no longer there. You must release control to your surroundings and adjust accordingly. It works all the small muscles of your core and other places in your body in ways you normally don’t use them. The warrior series was the hardest of all the poses we did. Once one person fell, it was like a domino effect because the boards were so close together. Everybody fell in the water at some point or another, and I loved the metaphor with real life. When you have difficulty and fall down, laugh, smile, fall, and get back on the board.  The other life skill it helps develop is focusing on the moment.  If you let your mind wander and lose your focus, it’s pretty easy to fall off the board, so it really required being in the present moment.

IMG_4368.JPG

Rachel teaching SUP yoga class #1

IMG_4369.JPG

beautiful ocean

IMG_4442.JPG

excited to try SUP yoga for the first time

IMG_4495.JPG

SUP yoga class #1 in Palm Beach, Aruba

IMG_4429.JPG

headstands on the Boga boards

IMG_4433.JPG

Our group to an exciting hike on the north shore of Aruba to a natural pool.  It was located in the Arikok National Park, a large undeveloped area with a desert landscape, rocky trails to hike, bike, ride horses and four wheel drive vehicles.   There were beautiful ocotillo and other kinds of cactii, wild goats, and a varied terrain much different than the beachy areas.   Along the hike, we stopped to play at a beach where the waves are forced between rocky outcroppings.  Rachel said we had about ten minutes to play, so I jumped right in!   Unlike the waters in Eagle and Palm Beaches, these waters were rough. The waves were big, and I enjoyed body surfing in the crashing water.  The water took my hair tie and one of my earrings; I threw the other earring into the ocean as an offering.  I was exhilerated and felt that I could have stayed there longer to play!

IMG_4485.JPG

IMG_4388.JPG

IMG_4478.JPG

IMG_4469.JPG

The natural pool had rocky outcroppings, and the water from the waves crashed over and formed the pool.  It was so cool.  There was another smaller pool up a little higher than this one. It felt like a hot tub.  Saw lots of little crabs camoflauged on some vegetation growing on the rocks.  I brought my goggles and dived under the water to see many tropical fish teeming in the waters. You can see a wind farm in the distance.    I climbed up and sat to watch the ocean for a bit, contemplating its vastness and its incredible power.  The sun was shining, and the wind was blowing.  What an amazing place and an amazing moment!

IMG_4481.JPG

IMG_4392.JPG

IMG_4472.JPG

IMG_4490.JPG

My man taking it all in..

IMG_4483.JPG

IMG_4480.JPGIMG_4474.JPG

IMG_4417.JPG

sunset in Aruba

That night, we had a restorative yin yoga session.  This was the magical view as I walked into class.  Everybody was tired from an active day.  Yin yoga is calming and relaxing.  We hold poses for longer (up to five or six minutes) deepening the stretch to the connective tissues.  In contrast to vinyasa flow where movements are tied to each breath and we generate heat in the body, a yin practice is cooling and still.  The hardest pose we did (for me) was frog pose, and we held it for a while.  Rachel talked about how we hold of lot of tension in our hips and frog pose helps to release it.  We did heart openers after that to release whatever emotional tension arised.  It’s a soft practice that feels like a whole other place when it’s over.  Holding hands with my man during savasana made the experience even more magical.

IMG_4441.JPG

Yin Yoga class

IMG_4493.JPG

handstand technique help from Rachel

Rachel taught us a lot about yoga including workshops on handstands, headstands, forearm stands, arm balances, and paid special attention to teaching us proper technique and alignment for chatarunga to upward facing dog to downward facing dog.  There were two yin yoga sessions, and the rest of them were intense and challenging. Dennis taught a class too, and it was the hardest class I’ve done in a long time!  We worked hard on our core strength as it’s a fundamental for many advanced skills.  I was thrilled to get some personal attention from her and am working on the pointers she gave me.  For example, when we have hands down on the ground they should be firmly planted with the most pressure on the thumb knuckle and first two finger knuckles.  When we get tired, we tend to shift weight to the outsides of our hands causing the thumbs to curl instead of remain intact on the mat.  I never  noticed I did that before. She said it’s a common mistake. It’s something I really pay attention to now.  I also learned alot about how to do chatarunga and upward facing dog properly.  I didn’t know to shift forwards a bit from plank so when you drop into chatarunga your elbows can stay above the wrists and make a ninety degree angle.  Then, shifting backwards before going into upward facing dog allows the shoulders to stay above the wrists.  I think I’ve been doing those two poses slightly wrong all along.   I tried a forearm stand for the first time ever.  It was not solid at all, so I think I will follow Rachel’s advice to continue strengthening and preparing for the pose by practicing dolphin (downward facing dog on the forearms)  more often.  The arm balance workshop was my favorite because I’ve been wondering how to get into those poses for a while now, and Rachel gave us clear instructions and demonstrations.  Now they make sense to me, and I can work them into my practice more often.  I got a footprint sized bruise on my upper arm from working so hard in class!  I was able to try all the arm balances she taught us but still have a lot of work to do.

IMG_4385.JPG

bruise from arm balance workshop

IMG_4422.JPG

handstand workshop with partner work

Below are three links to videos from the handstand workshop.



 

IMG_4446.JPG

Rachel and Ringo teaching class

 

IMG_4459.JPG

Rachel and Ringo

IMG_4381.JPG

handstands at the go kart track

We met a lovely couple from Norway and enjoyed many good times eating, drinking, and laughing during our retreat.  They had an awesome idea to go to the go kart track for racing.  It’s something I probably wouldn’t have thought of doing, but I am so glad we went!  My man won the race, lapping me three times, as he is a seasoned motorcycle racer.  I didn’t mind coming in last place as I know racing is not my forte, but it sure was fun to do.  Despite the hot sun and the sweaty helmet, I was smiling and laughing my way around the track.  After we were done we thought it was a good spot for a handstand picture.

IMG_4461.JPG

go karting with our new friends from Norway

IMG_4488.JPG

al fresco dining at Machebo Beach Resort & Spa, Aruba

We took advantage of the all-inclusive meal option at the resort and enjoyed al fresco dining every day. Breakfast and dinner were at this restaurant by the pool, and lunches were at the cafe in the forefront of the picture. The views and the service were outstanding. Birds and iguanas joined us for breakfast every day, and the moon and stars twinkled over head during poolside dinners at night. The staff at the resort were incredibly warm and friendly. It’s a smaller, two story, hotel and I really enjoyed the personal attention we got during our stay. I have lots of food allergies, and I was impressed by their ability to accomodate my needs. In addition there were healthy fruit and vegetable based smoothies available every morning. Yum! We went out to dinner with the group once, visiting Rachel and Dennis’s favorite restaurant in town called Yemanja. It was a wood fired grill featuring delicious seafood, steaks, and vegetarian/vegan food. I got a superfood salad packed with greens, veggies, berries, and seeds and a ribeye steak with scallops on top.

IMG_4458.JPG

iguanas by the pool

IMG_4387.JPG

Rachel and Dennis

Our group took a sailing and snorkeling trip on a party catamaran from Palm Beach. What a fun activity! I don’t drink liquor except for (good) tequila, so it wasn’t a drinking day for me but for everybody else it was. We sailed up the shore and then stopped to snorkle first at a place right off the beach, not too deep. I snorkeled to the thore then right then left and back to the boat. It was amazing! I think I saw a baraccuda. I swam back toward the shore and then noticed the boat was raising the ladder. I guess I didn’t hear them blow the horn, so I swam back to the boat knowing they wouldn’t leave without me and rejoined the group. Others stayed on the boat to play on the water slide and jump off the side.

IMG_4434.JPG

sailing and snorkeling trip

IMG_4423.JPG

loving the view

IMG_4455.JPG

loving the view

IMG_4389.JPG

all smiles swith Dennis on the catamaran

IMG_4428.JPG

happy people

IMG_4463.JPG

the view off the back of the boat

IMG_4464.JPG

IMG_4451.JPG

Rachel and some of the ladies in our group

We sailed some more and then stopped to snorkle in sixty foot deep waters. There were different kinds of fish in that deeper water, and I thought it was interesting there were layers of different schools of fish in the waters. Some of them stayed low while others were higher up. I dived down a few times as far as I could (holding my ears so the pressure didn’t hurt) and then floated for a few seconds in awe as I was surrounded by schools of bright and beautiful fish. How cool to be in their world just for a few seconds. I ventured out a litte farther and then lost sight of any fish, so I came back toward the boat more this time.

IMG_4500.JPG

our group after sailing/snorkeling trip

Here we all are, happy and high on life after the fun outing.

IMG_4501.JPG

our group after the sail/snorkel trip

IMG_4403.JPG

On the second day of SUP yoga, I wasn’t feeling too well. I was a little seasick after not having enough sleep and having a little too much fun the night before. To make things more challenging, I also got the orange board…the board that whoever is last and needs a board uses. The orange board is narrower and pointier than the other blue Boga boards. I took a “I’m a rock star. I can do this.” attitude and did my best. It sure was harder than the blue board I used during the first class!

IMG_4404.JPG

planking on the Boga board

IMG_4418.JPG

downward facing dog with hip opener

IMG_4406.JPG

IMG_4499.JPGSUP yoga class #2 in Palm Beach, Aruba

IMG_4410.JPG

heart/chest opener

IMG_4426.JPG

IMG_4400.JPG

side plank

IMG_4432.JPG

finding balance

IMG_4415.JPG

chair pose

IMG_4373.JPG

had so many laughs with our Norweigan friends

We made new friends with people from all over the world. In addition to meeting other americans (Texas, Virginia, California, Washington, Arkansas, North Carolina, Colorado, New Jersey), we met people from Norway, Sweden, Canada, Brazil,and Aruba. Our new friends from Sweden even brought their teenage daughter along.

IMG_4430.JPG

new friend from Sweden

IMG_4440.JPG

IMG_4479.JPG

until next time

IMG_4470.JPG

thank you Rachel!

Since I wasn’t feeling well after SUP yoga class #2, I had to say goodbye to Rachel there on the beach. The whole group was walking down to a beach bar to continue the fun, and my flight was early the next morning. I thanked her for everything she taught me that week and for inspiring me. I couldn’t stop hugging her, just one more! My heart was full of love and gratitude. Just for fun, I asked if we could take the moment to get a handstand picture together. It was my last chance until who knows when. She happily obliged and went upside down waiting patiently for me to try and try again to join her long enough for a picture. She was so patient, hanging out in a beautiful handstand encouraging me saying, “you got it Susanne.” She right, I got it. Thank you Rachel!

IMG_4377.JPG

in the presence of greatness

 

IMG_4453.JPG

 

IMG_4391.JPG

sunrise at the airport – departure day

This is a pictue of the sunrise at the airport when I was leaving. No filter, no hi definition enhancement. Just pure Aruba bliss. I am so grateful for my time there and can’t wait until the next time I can visit. Will have to stay for two weeks next time!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

 

IMG_4553.JPG

IMG_4379.JPG

Advertisements

Self Care Sunday: Things happy people do differently.

20130310-202404.jpg

I found this list and think it offers many ideas on how to take care of ourselves. A few points resonate with me as things I am working on these days.

1. Express gratitude: We can always find reasons to complain, but it’s more of a challenge to be thankful for everything we do have instead of always wanting more.

Looking back over the years since I became a stay home mom, this idea helps me to appreciate the opportunity to stay home instead of going to work and being stressed out all the time. When I have laundry and dishes to do, I feel happier when I look at the chores with gratitude. I am thankful to have a family to take care of and the time to do it. Many women wish they could have children but can’t. Many women wish they could stay home and not work. Although I feel pain most days, I’m thankful I can walk, talk, see, hear, swim and do yoga. Other people have physical problems way worse than mine.

3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparisons: Man, that’s a tough one for me. I’m definitely an over-thinker. And I’m definitely aware of social comparisons. Even when I try not to think that way, someone else will remind me how I am different from most people. And the over-thinking? Well that’s one reason I have a blog. It helps to get my thoughts out so they aren’t just bouncing around in my brain. I’m also a deep thinker, so on a daily basis I have to remind myself not to worry about the unexplainable mysteries of life and to try not to worry about all the horrible things that could happen to me, my husband, or my kids. I infer things when I probably shouldn’t. I get my feelings hurt easily. And once you’ve crossed me, things are never the same. (See #7.)

5. Nurture social relationships: I am a social being. I knew that a long time ago. Since I moved to Texas though, I’ve been suffering from square peg in a round hole syndrome, so to speak. Although it’s easy to isolate myself, I’ve been making a point recently to nurture more relationships with my girlfriends. Spending quality time with the few friends I do have is important to me and gives me things to look forward to.

7. Learn to forgive: It sounds easy in theory and always makes sense. Taking the high road is always the answer no matter what the problem. But there are certain relationships where I have difficulty walking the walk. I know I should forgive, but I have to work past my pride and hurt to do it. I have to learn to forgive although it doesn’t mean the other person was necessarily right. But I do see that holding on to grudges can be toxic, so I am trying one day at a time.

8. Increase flow experiences: I love this one. It’s so important. And I’m happy to report that I do find myself caught up in the flow with certain experiences. It doesn’t happen as much as I’d like it to, but hey one little step at a time, right? When do I experience going with the flow and get so immersed in the activity that I don’t think about anything else? When I’m playing guitar, riding my bike, doing yoga, meditating, and tutoring math. There is nothing like getting caught up in an activity that brings happiness.

11. Practice spirituality: I don’t really practice religion because it pushes buttons from my upbringing when I had Christianity shoved down my throat. But, over the years I’ve learned to appreciate other ways of thinking (like Eastern religions) and have developed a universal view to our existence. I do understand that we are tiny specks of life in a planet in a universe surrounded by space. I’m humbled by my place in the universe, and I do realize that while my life seems so important to me, that I am just a miniscule part of life in the bigger picture. Instead of professing that I know the answers to life and death, I’m learning to accept not knowing. I am learning to trust that life is a process that will continue long after I’m gone, and it brings me some peace to know it’s all part of a bigger picture that I have no control over. All I can do is focus on living my life one day at a time and hope to make some kind of difference in the world while I am here.

What items on this list resonate with you? How are you taking care of yourself today?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

20130310-205848.jpg

Self Care Sunday: girl time, massage, boundaries, and yoga

It’s Self Care Sunday. How are you taking care if yourself today?

I’m breaking from my usual weekend routine at the gym to spend the day with my daughter (12) at her studio’s first dance competition of the season.

Girl time:
Whether it’s spending time with my daughters or with my girlfriends, I think it’s important to take time to celebrate femininity and to have fun together. Guy time is also important for guys, but I’m a girl so that’s what I’m focusing on in this post. Last weekend I spent one-on-one time with my daughter at college (19) and today I am devoting my day to my younger daughter (12). We are watching and cheering on her friends at her dance studio who are competing. I like to support her interests, and I get the chills watching the dances! Yesterday, I took her to her first Chinese foot reflexology massage. We also enjoy going to the nail salon and movies. I like going out with my friends too. My girlfriends and I get together for coffee, happy hour, lunches, and outings like Top Golf, Painting with a Twist, and Boudoir Therapy.

Massage:
Massage is awesome it helps increase circulation, relax muscles and ease tension. There are many styles of massage. Swedish is light pressure mainly for relaxation. I prefer deep-tissue massage since I have knots in my muscles that never go away. In deep-tissue massage, they use their forearms and elbows for added pressure. About a year ago, I discovered Chinese massage. I’d heard of Chinese foot reflexology but never tried it. In Chinese medicine, they believe that different parts of the feet correspond to different body parts. Massaging those points on the feet helps those body parts function better. They also offer full body massages like I’ve never experienced before. It’s medium to firm pressure and they hit specific acupressure points to help energy (chi) flow better through the body.

Boundaries:
I’m talking about interpersonal boundaries. And unfortunately I’m learning the hard way how to keep toxic people and toxic relationships away from my life. There is an expression that we can’t control other people; we can only control ourselves. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions to those things. My relationship with my mom is very difficult, and it really stresses me out to have too much communication with her. I’m doing everything I can to put up a healthy boundary and to make decisions based on what is best for my health regardless of how she behaves toward me or likes what decisions I make. I quit my job almost a year ago because of a toxic work environment. A year later I can look back and be happy about that decision even though it was incredibly upsetting at the time. Sometimes we have to listen to ourselves and make tough decisions. I’ve been learning about the effects of stress on our bodies and overall health, and I think it’s important to do what we can to lower stress in our lives. If that means keeping negative, toxic people at an arm’s length, so be it.

Yoga:
I missed my class at the gym today, but I plan to do some yoga when I get home with a DVD. I have one called “back care yoga” with Rodnee Yee. It’s only about a half hour long, but it feels so good on my back. The video was taken next to the ocean, and I love the sounds of the waves in the background. Yoga is a great low-impact exercise. The stretching is good for flexibility, and holding poses builds strength and stamina. It increases balance and coordination. Yoga also develops the mind, body, spirit connection, helping us to slow down and be mindful our our breath. My favorite part is savasana, the part at the end when we relax, meditate, and close the practice.

20130303-160154.jpg

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Self-Care Sunday: sleep, exercise, and self-talk

I’m declaring it Self-Care Sunday. How do you take care of yourself? Do you take care of yourself? As a busy wife and mom, I find that I have to remind myself to take care of myself too. It’s too easy to let life get in the way. But it’s like with the oxygen masks on airplanes, if we adults don’t put on our masks first, we are not going to be able to adequately take care of our children.

I’ve been trying to lower my overall stress level to help with chronic pain. I’ve been trying to focus on one day at a time instead of being stuck in the past or anxious worrying about the future. Meditation and yoga help me relax and open up to the moment at hand. Mental stress causes physical stress.

20130217-145950.jpg

20130217-150050.jpg

It’s hard to find a balance with time, but my husband and I like going to the gym on the weekends so we can take care of ourselves physically. The kids complain, although it is a resort like facility. We go anyway. It’s something we do as a family, and generally we all leave feeling better than we did when we arrived. Exercise allows chemicals that improve moods to flow freely in our bodies. We spend all week working and taking kids around to all their activities (son takes Taekwondo, baseball, and cub scouts; daughter dances sixteen hours a week). They both had friends over for sleepovers this weekend too. It only seems fair that mommy and daddy get to pick the gym for an activity. Today, I did light weights, core work, rode the bike, swam some laps and sat in the hot tub. It helps me to both strengthen and relax my body. I also hope that modeling healthy behavior has a positive influence in our kids so when they are older exercise will part of their lives.

Sleep is also so important to me. I seriously can’t function right without enough sleep. I used to have sleep apnea pretty badly and got the uppp surgery in 2006 to carve out the back of my throat so I could breathe better at night. I got retested and found out I still have mild sleep apnea, but it is much better than it used to be. We get up early with the kids Monday through Friday, and I always sleep in on Saturdays an Sundays. If nobody wakes me up I usually sleep until ten or eleven in the morning. Luckily my kids sleep late too.

I’m also working on being nice to myself. I learned to listen to myself and I was hearing a whole lot of negative self talk. For some reason I was programmed like that and found out I was constantly criticizing myself and putting undue pressure on myself. I’m learning to be grateful for all my positive qualities and to accept those that are negative. I’m learning to fill my self-esteem bucket on my own and to be happy just the way I am (instead of always trying to be better and do more).

20130217-151252.jpg

Life of Pi

I saw Life of Pi again today. My oldest daughter hadn’t seen it yet, and my two younger kids and I wanted to see it again. After reading the book and seeing it twice, I wanted to write a response to the story and what it said to me.

I loved how it mixed non-fiction with fiction and all the spiritual metaphors. It’s an incredible, unbelievable story told by the main character who survived against the odds. The story is framed as one that will make people believe in god. He is narrating the story to a friend of a friend, an author looking to write an incredible story.

Pi said we don’t know god until someone introduces him to us. Pi is born Hindu, but is also inspired by Christianity and Islam. His dad tells him to start with rational thinking and what science has proven. Believing in everything is like believing in nothing.

A common theme was appreciation of the diversity of life. Pi’s family owned a zoo with a plethora of creatures. When he survived the shipwreck during his family’s move from India to Canada, he found himself alone at sea with a tiger, hyena, zebra, and an orangutan.

Pi had compassion for animals and saw their souls in their eyes. His father told him he was only seeing his own emotions reflected in the animals’ eyes. He saved the tiger from drowning and said sorry to a fish he killed to feed it.

The tiger, Richard Parker, ate the other animals. He and Pi learned to coexist during their twenty seven days at sea. They faced life threatening hunger and thirst and were overwhelmed by the power of the stormy seas.

Pi surrendered to god, having lost everything. He didn’t give up hope.

Once he surrendered, the storm passed and the boat washed up on a carnivorous island. Beautiful and teeming with life during the day, it became acidic and brought death to the animals at night. After some rest, hydration, and nutrition, he decided to get back on the life boat. He didn’t leave Richard Parker behind because it would have meant killing him.

They finally washed up on a Mexican shore. Pi was so weak he could barely hold his head up. Richard Parker jumped off the boat, walked to the forest, and paused for a few moments and gazed into the forest. Pi hoped the tiger would turn around and look at him and was disappointed when he didn’t. After everything they endured together, he wanted some closure, an end, before he disappeared so unceremoniously into the forest.

20130102-234133.jpg

<;;a

20130102-234318.jpg</

Life as a Married Mom

Two movies in two days, both with the same lead actress and plots about being married parents. In This is 40, a couple faces middle age, parenthood, and marriage. In the Change Up, a single slacker and a married lawyer switch lives by accident after wishing for each other’s lives. In both movies, the characters learn to appreciate what they have and how to fix problems common in every family.

Let’s face it. Life is hard. Being single is hard. Being married is hard. Having children is hard. Being childless is hard. It’s hard to be a kid. It’s hard to be a student. It’s hard to have a job. It’s hard to be the parent of adult children.

It’s tough having quality time together as a couple and/or family, and its tough finding time to be alone. Meeting our own needs as individuals is difficult, much less meeting the needs of spouses, children, and parents.

Our jobs as parents require us to have all our shit together enough to provide for, care, guide, and nurture the little people we created. We shape and mold them emotionally, spiritually, physically, financially, and psychologically. If we are too busy or unhappy with own own lives, they pick up on it. It affects their sense of self. It affects family dynamics.

As with everything in life, it seems that the answer is always balance. As adults, we need to take care of ourselves first or we are no good to our children. Do we sacrifice for them? Of course we do. But if we don’t take the time to meet our needs first, we won’t be able to give to our children in a quality way. And we won’t be able to be happily married while we raise them.

Both moms and dads work hard to provide financially for families. We have different needs, but it’s important we allow ourselves some down time when we are not working to pursue our interests, socialize, and exercise. It’s important we care about what we eat and how much we sleep so we can feel our best day to day. We need quiet time to reflect and develop ourselves spiritually. We need friends and fun. We also need alone time, both as individuals and alone time as parents.

Holidays together exaggerate family dynamics and intensify expectations and tempers. A college aged kid wants to come home for the comforts but doesn’t want to be treated like a kid. Little kids misbehave when they eat too much sugar, stay up too late, and are bored because adults are talking. We try to give them what they want, yet we try to teach them that Christmas is for giving, not getting. We try to make things special for them, but we also need to be consistent with expectations and consequences.

We have to remember we made these little people and act accordingly. We need to remember that life is precious and we create our realities. A yoga teacher once told me,a “where the feet go, so do the hips.” It’s the same with the mind. The way we think is reflected in the world around all of us. It’s up to us to be strong, balanced, and loving. It’s up to us to communicate. It’s up to us whether our kids have happy memories from childhood. Nobody is perfect, but finding the fine line of balance can make life feel perfect.

20121229-160141.jpg

30 Days of Truth: Day 26-Have You Ever Thought About Giving Up on Life? If so, when and why?

This one is easy because NO I have never thought about giving up on life. I love my life, and no matter how hard it gets, there is always a reason to live. Especially now that I have children, I can’t imagine being selfish enough to give up on my own life.

I’ve known friends who have committed suicide, and while they may have found peace, it’s so hard for the people they leave behind.

Life is a precious gift, and I intend to use mine to the fullest!