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strength

Jumping into Your Fire

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Jumping into Your Fire

 

I don't know about you- but I spend a lot of time wondering if I am 'too much' for people.

It's not like I walk around broadcasting my story, but if you have met me and spent a little bit of time with me, you probably do know a bit of my personal history- and it's not easy to digest. In fact, there are only a tiny handful of people that actually know everything cover to cover- even though I stand confident in who I am and what I'm about, I do hold back on sharing because I don't want to overwhelm people with what has happened to me- And it is also quite vulnerable for me to share as well.

Here's the thing that I have come to accept. I will be too much for some people. My story will be too much for some people. And that is not about me- that is about them. People who cannot handle their own emotional vulnerability and pain are not going to be able to tolerate anyone else's. Period. 

Realizing this has freed me in so many ways. I have held back on digging deep in my own life because of this fear of being too much. But I have come to realize over and over again that it is not my job to manage other peoples emotions. It is my job to manage my own. That's it.

Recognizing this, in turn led me to a choice that I make on a daily basis, over and over again: 
Do I want to avoid the fire or do I want to jump in and face It? And by fire I mean Pain. Heartache. Challenge. Hurt. Loss. Grief. Obstacles. The Like.

I avoided for many years. But the thing about avoidance is that it breeds stagnancy. It's so comfy being stagnate, in a way. But that's the question you need to begin to ask yourself:

Do I want to live a stagnate life? Do I want to be comfortable?

I finally got to this place where I realized that I don't. I want to live in uncomfortability. I want to be pushed. I want to feel my hurt and feel it deep and learn how to claw my way through it because this is what builds strength. This is what builds character. This is how we grow. This is where we find our feet. Because the only way out is through. And let me tell you. It hurts like HELL. I was telling someone a few months ago that I live in as much hurt as I do joy. This is true. My life is fucking painful. But through facing my intense pain I have also found joy so deep- a joy I have never quite known before.

Because I continually face my deepest fears and challenges I have also grown quite fond of myself. I have learned how to become my biggest cheerleader. I have learned to lean in to self-love. I have also learned how to continually shift my perspective- the hurt is there but can I focus on the joy instead? How?

So I want to turn the tables around to you today:

Where are you holding back in your life?

What feelings or situations are you avoiding to stay comfortable?

Try taking a leap. Try jumping in. You are supported- Trust in who you are- if something painful happened to you, you have already survived the worst because You are still standing. You are still here. You got this- Keep Moving Forward. 

Jump into your fire today. Keep fighting your fight.

 

xx.

 

 

 

 

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On Grief

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On Grief

I've been sitting staring at this computer screen for a good hour now. I have so many words floating around in my head but I'm not sure how to get them out-what to start with, or where to go from here.

I tell people that I started the Move to Heal Project because I wanted to write about real things. The stuff that no one wants to talk about, but that everyone is feeling. This is true. But there is a reason as to why no one talks about certain things- because its really hard. Today in fact, it is extra hard. Part of me doesn't want to share; another part of me feels compelled to. I feel compelled because if we don't start talking about the hard things, who will? It's important for me to say that if you are reading this, you never walk alone. 

So on that note, I want to tell you about my friend Katharine. I want to talk to you about Grief.

Katharine died 12 years ago today. Twelve years. It seems surreal to actually write that out. The way she died and the story around it is tragic, and contains details I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around. The aftermath of her death; the same. I swung into a deep atheism after she passed away, not understanding how something so tragic could happen to someone so young, and so beautiful. And by beautiful I mean pure. Amidst all the struggles that one naturally moves through when they are 19 and 20 years old, she was actually still a radiating beam of light. I don't think she had a mean bone in her body.

After she died, the only way I knew how to process it all was through writing. I was too shut off emotionally in my life in general to actually feel anything outwardly. In the piece I wrote one month after she died, I talked about how I didn't have any desire to wash my clothes, to brush my hair, or to buy new things. But I did write about how I began to feel an intense compulsion to strengthen my relationships; to find meaning in my every day activities.

Every year now I use April 3rd as a time to reflect on my life- and when I actually sit still to think about it so far I want to say that I still feel that way. When someone you love dies, everything you think matters, doesn't matter anymore. It all begins to shift. At least- that's the way it felt for me.

I think that in some cases, death can completely harden people or break them open. I would say with 100% certainty that part of the reason I am not hardened over is because of Katharine's Mom. Over the past 12 years I have seen that light that Katharine possessed shine so brightly through the actions of her Mother, which doesn't even really make sense. She lost her daughter. Yet she has taken her grief and her sadness and continually pours kindness and compassion into the lives of everyone around her. It's actually remarkable. I also think that this takes a tremendous amount of strength- in order to cultivate joy from pain I think you have to stare your pain deep in the eyes; you have to learn to sit with it. 

I think, with many things in life- but especially in the aftermath of grief- you are always left with a choice: Is this going to harden me or open me? Not to be confused with feeling your feelings. Like- death SUCKS. It's excruciating. I spent a good few years just being angry AF, throwing stuff, binge drinking, sabotaging friendships, acting out in relationships (for fear if I got too close I would lose them), you name it. Feel your feelings. Get it out. But this is why I say aftermath.

One of the most important things I have learned over the past two years is that, while we can't control what happens to us, we always have a choice as to how we are going to react to it.

 So every year on April 3rd, I think about this. I loved Katharine's kindness, her spirit, her heart. And what a gift she has given me because I now choose to fill my life with people who are light-hearted, and caring, and compassionate. 

I am inspired by the strength of her Mother- who, over the past 12 years has, many times completely out of the blue sent me something in the mail, or dropped a present off on my doorstep, or sent me the sweetest message. She has reminded me that this is how I want to live my life. I want my life to be meaningful. I want to cultivate meaningful relationships. I want to sit with the hollowness of my pain and use that space to cultivate joy- and I want to pour that joy into the lives of everyone around me. I want to create community. I want to be a voice for change.

A few years ago, Katharine's Mom sent me a blown glass ornament. In order to make a blown glass ornament you have to take a bunch of glass and smash it all into tiny pieces. Then you take all the pieces and hold them in the fire. She told me that this is how our lives can feel sometimes- something excruciating happens- and we are left in a million pieces. And then you think the worse is over, but it's not- because things heat up and you're thrown in the fire. But the thing is- when the glass is in the fire- this is where the magic happens. This is where all the random pieces that didn't make sense before begin to meld together- this is where the shift happens. A beautiful blown glass ornament is proof that all those tiny shards of glass- all those painful situations and experiences in our lives- can actually bind together to make something extraordinary.

By no means am I one of those people that say things happen for a reason. I actually don't believe that. But I do think that it is natural for humanity to search for meaning in the things that break us open. And I think that if you can find that meaning, and hold on to it, and learn to find beauty in it, it can catapult you into a new way of seeing your world; a new way of living your life.

So today, while I am sitting with my own pain, I want to turn the table around and ask you all the things I am asking myself. 

What are you allowing to harden you? What are you allowing to open you?

Who are you surrounding yourself with? How do they add value to your life?

What about your pain? Are you learning how to sit with it? The pain will hollow you, but it will not end you. The deeper your pain, the greater your capacity to love bigger, harder, stronger. This sound so cliché but it's not- I'm telling you with every fibre of my being THIS IS TRUE.

Where is your focus? Do you want to live meaningfully? If so- How?

 

I want to thank you so much for reading what has been on my heart, for allowing me to share my story freely. If you too are moving through grief, or remembering the anniversary of something that is painful I want you to know that you are supported and loved and strong.

 

xo C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet Gillian. This is her Story

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Meet Gillian. This is her Story

As the Move to Heal Project begins to unfold, I've found myself reaching out to a lot of people that I have met at different points in my life.

Someone once told me that the energy you put out will attract similar energy, and as time goes on I am beginning to believe in that whole-heartedly.

I met Gillian and her friend Marisa filming the Food Network a few years ago, and both of them still continue to inspire me to be the best version of myself.

Below, Gillian shares how she began 2018- committing to do yoga every day for 365 days- and how it is helping her find clarity + surrender amidst the heaviness.

 

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I recently surrendered to the mat.

 

December got heavy for me. Life forced me to re-evaluate myself, my decisions, my past and my goals.

 

As one does, I kept myself busy and dismissed self questioning in exchange for Christmas parties and heavy pours of wine.

 

By the end of it all, I was ready to get clear. Yoga had been sneaking into my life subtly but the voice inside of me was getting louder:

“Make it a practice.”

 

And when a bourbon infused version of myself declared boldly on New Year’s Eve “I’m going to do 365 days of yoga!” I took my hungover limbs to yoga the next day, and decided that since I am a woman of my word, I would do exactly that.

 

When you get clear about what you want, you get it. So when I reached out to my favorite yoga studio and owner, and asked if I could work in exchange for classes, she welcomed the idea.

 

I realized that first day that yoga with a hangover really sucks.

 

I also remembered from previous times practicing that it always took away from the depth of my practice. When I was treating my body right on all accounts, I was able to get into the postures and my meditation on a whole new level.

 

So like any all or nothing gal (I live to self-experiment), I decided I would also cut out alcohol and coffee. At least for the first 30 days of my #365daysofyoga.

 

I can only describe the first two weeks as ugly but beautiful.

 

Whenever I do any kind of “detox” I always feel like crap at first. Normally, during this time, I hide from the world. But I was committed. So there I was on days when I was severely depressed, bloated, gassy, stinky from sweating it all out...you name it. I was there. Awkwardly unwinding my body and surrendering to the mat. I held back tears in child’s pose. I laughed. I felt embarrassed and I felt proud.

 

But no matter what I was going through physically or emotionally, I always left feeling calm and centered. I also found warmth in the community of the studio, appropriately called “Union”, and a sense of belonging I hadn’t felt since I moved to California.

 

One night after class my favorite yoga teacher looked at me before leaving and said, “You inspire me. You show up every day.” And I felt so humbled that even this wounded version of myself could somehow inspire.

 

I’m on day 17 now. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, so I’m almost there.

 

Every day is different. Every class is different. I’m always humbled and fascinated by where my body and mind will take me. Some days it is (almost) effortless. Most days I struggle with my ego and remind myself not to compare my practice to others. But every day I leave feeling better. I am more and more mentally free. I am more and more me.

 

One of my teachers describes yoga as returning to your most natural state of being, and I couldn’t describe it any better way.

 

I am so grateful for this surrender. To the mat. To myself. To finding some inner peace during challenging times in such a sweet way. 

 

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Gillian Young Barkalow is my beautiful, wonderful friend and also a Health & Fitness Coach that is doing some pretty amazing stuff.

Find her on Instagram: @gybstrength

AND check out her 4 week online workshop that she'll be doing this February (details in the poster below!)

 

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