Tiny Habit Finder!!

My name is Annie, and I'm a perfectionist.

I'm not the kind of perfectionist who wins gold medals (I took 3rd place in the regional spelling bee several times) and has multiple graduate degrees (I have a Bachelor's in PR from a state school in Arizona)...

I'm the kind that suffers from crippling procrastination because "What if what I do isn't good enough?! I'll just stay here where it's safe and people seem to be ok with what I'm doing now..."

Between the Tiny Ninja Change idea that I tripped over a long time ago and recently realized was actually "a thing" and my darling therapist, I've come to realize the power of a very small step. 

and even more so...the power of the POWERFUL small step. Just that one, seemingly insignificant thing you can do every day for a little while that starts a cascade of good shit in your life.

Want more good shit in your life? 

I've created this really fun way for you to find YOUR powerful first step:

The Tiny Habit Finder

It's a quick, fun download for you to play with...just click the button, run through a quick eight-question self-assessment at the other end of the rainbow and get a bunch of clarity on the best place for you to start moving toward your larger goals of self-care, wellness and health!

(I'm making the assumption you have goals in that direction which goes against all my yoga/communication training of not making assumptions. Oops.)

 

 

Integration

Fragmentation is a tough place to live.

But how do we integrate?

I've taught yoga from a deep space of energetic intuition and mindfulness. I coach strength from a wide base of science and mechanics. Metabolics have always been a weird subset of the two... so it's been a challenge to incorporate them for many of my clients because it requires both mindfulness AND science.

The lack of integration between these three components

meditation

movement

metabolism

have - until recently - created a sense of being out of alignment in my career. But these little moments started arising where I felt completely in tune with my calling and my capacity... these moments where a client senses their Being a little more deeply and is able to connect that to their movement patterns or behaviors.

Last month, I held a workshop for exploring the connection between strength mechanics and meditation and - in May - I am launching a coaching experience and writing series that embodies the incredibly connection between our hearts and the amazing vessels that carry them around.

This won't be a workout or a diet plan. It won't be a yoga class or meditation series. It will be a circle of humanity coming together to learn how to INTEGRATE. Members of this very small circle will learn a unique style of meditation. Experience strength mechanics at a deep level. Find ways to nurture their nervous systems to optimize metabolism. 

And - most excitingly - make huge changes in their levels of energy and presence WITHOUT THE INTENSE EFFORT AND PAIN caused by so many programs available today.

I have a super amazing tool coming to you at NO cost later this week, so stay tuned!!

If you're interested in learning more ... sign up for my email list HERE.

If you're in the Madison, WI area and want to hop in on in-person launch of this program, schedule a free 15 minute call with me HERE and we'll chat about your goals and hopes.

If you want to just keep coming back to this blog and learn more about how to integrate your practices, learn new techniques, or just STOP TRYING SO DAMN HARD, I'll be posting a series of blogs in the coming weeks.

Keep shining. Your light in the world matters.

The Equinox

I don't really mind Winter all that much. I have a very nice heating blanket, a giant stash of tea and California wine, and I'm quite happy to watch a lot of Netflix and work my way through a stack of books with a warm dog body. My apartment is really lovely - a collection of cast off furniture painted quirky colors, candles, salt lamps and Buddha heads, well-worn books, slightly wild house plants and photos of people I love. It has been a healing haven for me this past year, and a place of comfort. 

But something is shifting. There's a stirring as we walk through the Equinox. A distinct feeling that it's time to get out of the nest and go out into the world. 

Awesome right? Nope. I've never liked early spring. I liken it to a bad boyfriend: unpredictable. messy. fickle. hot and cold. The mud, the fluctuating temperatures, the edge of scent in the unfrozen air. It just feels ... unsettling. The un-sureness of whether I should keep the windows closed or open them and put on a sweatshirt? Of whether I should take a nap under a blanket or go for a walk and let an almost chilly wind blow my hair back? 

Spring is an inconvenient and unavoidable reminder that - at a certain point - hunkering down in the nest is stagnation, not healing work.

I'm in the process of doing projects for my coaching practice and healing work that feel like flopping failures as I try to make my way out of the nest. I'm tripping over my own feet as I work to change how I relate and speak truth in relationships. But (dammit spring) keeping the metaphorical windows closed and the blankets on recently stopped feeling comforting and started feeling like arrested development.

Spring is wobbly baby deer legs and tender green shoots peeking up out of the ground to see if it's safe. It's rising energy and transition into new, open life living. It's picking a tiny little change that pushes the edge of your certainty just a little. JUST enough to help you step forward into greater truth.

That shit annoys me. And invigorates me. To steal Wisconsin's motto: FORWARD.

You?? 

 

Tiny Changes: Update

what's a dimmer switch?

what's a dimmer switch?

I don’t really have an operable dimmer switch -- it's currently being installed.

I’m pretty much all in or all out. Sleeping kitten purring or She-Hulk on a rampage. Whenever I try to make small changes in my life, this comes back to bite me in the ass.

I make the classic mistake of throwing myself into a program, a diet, a lifestyle, a habit…whatever... so fully that I can’t effectively adapt to the shift, and my limbic brain goes all “guardian of the realm” and sabotages my efforts until I’m homeostatic again.

So last month, when I noticed that I really wanted to be more present with my clients, I started this tiny thing where I take three breaths each day before my first client. Just to feel my feet on the ground and check in with myself before I start holding space for another human to be a human. It was enough to help me reengage, but it wasn’t a full on “meditate or die!” situation that would immediately reduce me to having the decision-making capacity of a surly teenager.

This has trickled down in ways I didn’t expect. I’ve suddenly given myself permission to do “just a little” in so many more areas of my life. 

If you could see inside my head for the past year, it was pretty much a "Rocky preps for the big fight" montage for everything including doing dishes. But that “WORK HARDER!! GO FASTER!!” voice is getting a little quieter and is being replaced by the “huh. that little thing over there is manageable. let’s do that.” This is HUGE. HUGE, you guys!

Seemingly miraculously, the constant, drain of overwhelm that has been my constant companion is slowing down. A sense of “I can manage that!” is replacing the suck of dread when I look at a task ahead of me.  

The really amazing shift is this: I’m moving through more day-to-day than before! I was terrified that if I took the small pieces and did the bare minimum that I would turn into a huge slacker. I mean… I sit on the couch a LOT and I LOVE TV… and I had this fear that somehow my carefully created Type A SuperWoman would be manhandled into a strangle hold by the evil power of slackerdom. But I’m actually able to feel MORE satisfied and hopeful by doing LESS.

The takeaway is this: give yourself permission in one area of your life (just one to start) to try the bare minimum.

Commit to a small thing... the SMALLEST thing...let it settle in and do its tiny ninja work...

then give yourself permission to take credit for the awesome changes you're making. Give yourself a pat on the back and verbalize the awesome that is happening! You're a mother f@#/ing rockstar.

 

10 Things I'm Loving Right Now

You know that dance-party, dumb-grin, twirl circles, hug-a-stranger kind of happy?

We seek it out, like addicts tracking the sensation of elation and, when we're not looking, we get it in these light-filled bursts of color and sensation and hope!

Then we overshadow it

(often immediately) with dread.

Brene Brown, in Daring Greatly, calls this Foreboding Joy: that "waiting for the other shoe to drop" response when we experience the deep vulnerability of joy.

The thought-reaction process is usually:

1. HOLYSHIT I am so happy/so in love/so at peace/<fill in good feeling>

2. What if something comes and takes this away?! 

3. Anxiety/fear/panic ensues and absorbs all the light and oxygen gifted by that moment.

You want a scary daily practice?

Let yourself be happy. Because it will - inevitably - scare the living crap out of you.

Cultivate things that make you ebullient (I love that word) then watch for / soften around the fear. Embrace it. Tend to it gently. Then go back to the happy.

Here are 10 Things that make me just fucking happy. 

(Shameless Social Media Plug Because I Love Interacting With You Guys:) Follow me on Instagram to watch me enjoy this and other stuff for 10 days straight!!!

1. This Song. (I almost injured myself trying to dance in the shower when it came on.)

2. The Feral Intercourse Podcast. (BAMF women who are completely altering the way I see the world.)

3. Cabin Fever Blend from Just Coffee Co-Op. 

"...smoky, bittersweet chocolate and cedar notes..." and pretty much the only reason I drag myself out of my squashy nest/bed every morning.

4. This Dog.

She saves my life every day.

jai ganesha.

jai ganesha.

5. My new tattoo.

<------ @inklissa is pretty much the most talented human ever.

6. Reading one poem each day from this Mary Oliver poetry collection.

7. Moon Deck Oracle Cards.

these cards are SO beautiful and i love having a chance to practice simple/zero-stress intuition and a mantra or practice to carry with me.

8. Aromance essential oil blend from Eden's Garden.

This blend of Sweet Orange, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood and Jasmine is sexy and subtle and I ABSOLUTELY love diffusing it, spraying it on my sheets or just wearing it as perfume. And it's only $5.95!!!!!! I'm on a "stop buying things because you just spent $1K on plane tickets for 2017, girl!!" hiatus, but this totally doesn't count, right? 

9. Knitting.

I really like finding things that I'm not good at / are zero risk to practice being at peace with being shitty at something new! Knitting is my "huh. this is interesting. is it supposed to have giant knots and giant holes?? probably not, but it's kinda fun." life practice.

10. Kirkland brand Gin. 

$18 for a heckuvalot of really decent gin. I love gin and I have no shame.

Magical Chicken Tortilla Soup

There's something magical about the bare minimum.

coffee cat meme.jpeg

I have an ingrained habit of overcommitting ... even on a minute-by-minute basis. (This has actually made me chronically late for things, because I have an inflated sense of how much I can accomplish in a 10 minute period. My sincere apologies to everyone who's dealt my policy of "3 min late is still on time " because I got hung up building a rack for my wine collection.)

If I'm going to work out, I'm going to FUCKINGWORKOUT. Clean the apartment? DEEPCLEANALLTHECORNERSANDREARRANGEMYCLOSET. And this leaves me with a bit of a paralysis, because that level of performance for close to 33 years has - quite literally - worn me thin. I really don't want to deepcleanmycloset. I don't feel like sweatingmyassoff. ...and if I only have an hour to clean or nap? NAP. every time.

But what if I just did a little cleaning AND took a little nap? This idea seemed in line with my recent commitment to itty bitty lifestyle changes, so I jokingly told my strength coach that 2017 is the year of the BARE MINIMUM. Quite literally an experiment in: how little can I do and still move forward?

I immediately proved my own point about needing to back off by committing to do the "bare minimum" in about 5 different areas of my life every minute of the day.... and ended up completely flattened because I was so overwhelmed by all the shit I needed to do.  SO. I'm back to square one, but trying on things like:

  • I'll just unload a part of the dishwasher while I'm waiting for coffee to brew.
  • I'm just going to go to the gym for 20 min and do whatever I feel like doing.
  • I'll make a super simple/bulk meal for the week.

and VOILA.

There is a magical element in the bare minimum...it transforms into JUST ENOUGH.

  • instead of avoiding the dishwasher for a week because I can't wrap my head around cleaning the whole kitchen, the damn thing is magically unloaded and I probably found 3 min to load it too.
  • Instead of agonizing over the awful squat workout I "should" do and just staying home because OHGODSQUATS ... I'm magically in the gym 3-5x week.  
  • And instead of living on cottage cheese with pineapple because the idea of cooking for > 15 min makes me stabby, I magically have a huge pot of soup split between my fridge/freezer.

So here's the point (because I know you've been wondering "Why is she talking about cottage cheese and closets today?")

Remember the tiny ninja changes thing? What is the SMALLEST thing I can do right now that would effect larger-scale change? Apply that to the little things!

Is there a teensy action you could take that might help you feel successful? And what's the tiniest piece of the larger whole (your kitchen/course work/business/life/relationship) you could do right now?

Feeling run down and constantly short of your goal will add up to a whole lot of feeling shitty about yourself and your goals. But constantly feeling like you made a small success?? That adds up! You didn't fall short on a huge leap ... you took a bunch of tiny steps forward! Good Job, You!!

And if you only came by for the soup recipe ... it's delicious and took me 10 minutes. (15 min if you count roasting and pulling a CSA chicken that's been languishing in my freezer, part of which you can avoid by buying a rotisserie chicken.)

Chicken Tortilla Soup

chicken tortilla soup
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Large Bell Peppers (diced)
  • 1 Large Poblano Pepper (diced)
  • 1 Small Onion (minced)
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 3 Tbs taco seasoning
  • 1/2 c Salsa
  • 2 Cans Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 Quarts Chicken Stock (like thick soup. feel free to adjust.)
  • Optional: 1 can black beans (I don't eat legumes, but you do you)
  • Medium Chicken (home-roasted or rotisserie) shredded
  • 1 small bag frozen corn

Toppings: shredded cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, avocado, cilantro

Magically Easy Directions:

  • Chop your peppers, onions and garlic. (and if you're like me and HATE your hands smelling like onions and garlic, try this fancy trick.)
  • Sautee onion, peppers and garlic in butter/oil until onions are translucent.
  • Add taco seasoning and cook for 2 min more.
  • Add tomatoes and salsa, and cook on medium-low for 3-5 min. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add chicken, (beans) and corn, and simmer for 8-12 minutes or until you're good and ready to eat it!
  • Top with shredded cheese, and add chips and other toppings as you'd like!

What Can We Do?

This is as close as I'll get to a political post, probably ever.

A couple facts (not the alternative kind)...

I'm heartbroken and enraged by the things happening in my country and frightening the people I love. 

I'm terrified by the Orwellian cast to the first month of 2017. 

I feel REALLYFUCKINGMOTIVATED to do something. My deep beliefs about how people should be treated, spoken to and helped is being slapped in the face by the powerful elite and I'm grappling with a lot of anger around it.

but

I feel helpless. I feel completely at a loss for how to help the struggling humans that matter the most to me. I am so SO privileged and shielded from so much of what is happening, so I spent some time this weekend thinking about what I *can* do.

If you want some ideas of what YOU can do to make a difference...feel free to steal a few of these:

1. Donate. Give money, time or whatever resources you can to people who have larger-scale influence. (The following is my short list...but regardless of your views, I encourage you to choose to support loving organizations rather than buying into hateful speech.)

International Rescue Committee : Providing aid to and speaking out for refugees from Aleppo, Syria and more. Babies and moms and dads are SUFFERING and need basic survival needs met... and this is about the only way I can think to help.

Planned Parenthood: This is an amazing network of providers offering healthcare options to women who wouldn't otherwise have access to birth control or preventative care. I am so grateful for the care I received there when I was unable to afford health insurance.

NPR: Good old-fashioned journalism (and, quite frankly, delightful podcasts.) I've been a sustaining member for a while now.

ACLU: Fighting for equal/constitutional rights for ALL humans

2. Don't be a wimp. Speak out in defense of the defenseless. Speak up when you see others being hurt... and not just on Facebook. This applies to the current political environment, your gym, your office and your family. (caveat: I said "don't be a wimp," not "be an asshole." Be kind in a way that challenges cruelty and makes your world better.)

3. Reach out to the scared, affected populations in your circle of influence. Call, text or email the person you know that must be really scared and just tell them you're available and you love them. I can't imagine what it feels like to have my language, my gender or my skin tone devalued in the mass media...but I know what it feels like to feel scared. Connect with your humans at that level.

4. Be compassionate with everyone (including the ___ supporter)...and don't forget to start with yourself. Hate has its roots deeply in the belief that we are isolated and separated from each other. Don't give in to that.

5. Pray for/Meditate on/Envision a world where all life is respected... and act accordingly.

### 

Have more ideas on how to effect change or simply show up in a world that's pretty scary? Leave them in the comments below. (note: asshole comments will be deleted and assholes will receive compassion... right after I get over my annoyance.)

My Big Sur Tattoo

So I got this tattoo between June and August of last year…

and I haven’t really shown it off, because I was a little bit afraid of the response to the fact that I’d covered most of the right side of my rib cage in ink.

and because my previous body image sharknado - which is resolved - keeps me from wanting to to be a walking trigger warning.

but I freaking love tattoos, and I freaking love the conversations they start in line at the coffee shop, over cocktails or with the cashier at Target. There’s something deeply intimate about a stranger sharing the part of themselves they’ve chosen to externalize, and something vulnerable about asking something that intimate of a stranger. (I walk a weird line with Target cashiers.)


Before we get to the tree story, I love this one just as much. I've wanted this, smaller, tattoo on my forearm for an awfully long time. It is a deeply resonant prayer and cry for purpose, and I have it where I can always see it. 

LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU

May all beings be happy and free, and may my words, thoughts and actions contribute to that in some way.


So. The tree on my ribs.

The roots of the tree are 21-year-old Annie’s whim / declaration of independence in 2005. (It was a hilariously resounding battle cry of *fuckfuckfuckfuck* while staring at the ceiling and clutching my friend’s hand as the guy re-outlined the damn thing.) I have always loved that tattoo because it marked a lot of shifts for me as a human on this planet and because it was nondescript, leaving me room for growth.

And something did grow out of it. The tree is a lone cypress perched on the cliffs of Big Sur California, the place my heart goes to hide when I feel lost or sad or peaceful or happy or just like the ocean is a good idea.

  • It’s a symbol of mourning and growth and surviving with wild beauty in a place that seems  inhospitable.
  • It reminds me that people love me … like my tattoo artist and my friend (same friend from my first tattoo) who held my hand while we finished three sittings / 6+ hours on this thing. There’s something about people sitting with me while I cry that has a much deeper implication for my beautifully cracked psyche.
  • It's a little bit of a "fuck you" to the belief that there is a certain state of being that is required of me to be valued and acceptable in my own life.

If you hate tattoos and think this was a terrible idea…

leave a comment below and I’ll nod and say “thanks for the input!” (while I get ready for the half sleeve I’m starting at the end of the month.) 

If you love tattoos and want to share yours …

share in a comment on my Facebook page and I’ll nod and say “bad ass!” 

However you decorate your life : I salute you.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION OF MY FRIEND AND ARTIST ALISSA BELOW!!

If you’re in the Madison area and want some gorgeous art work on your skin (or if you have scarring, breast reconstruction or vitilago! this girl’s multitalented!) definitely go see Alissa at Shade Medical and Creative Tattoo. She’s amazing.

Comfort in Challenging Days

I LOVE Half Price Books.

When I'm having a really bad day, I visit my friend Saht* at Steep and Brew for a latte, then sit cross-legged on the floor in the budget books section, drinking coffee and carefully selecting a stack of $2 novels based only on the title and cover art.

halfpricebooks.jpg

A few months into my divorce process, to the soundtrack of massive thunderstorms and JJO Nothing But 90's, I marched into the book store to (sit on the floor and browse the bargain section, THEN) buy some books on backpacking, travel and mindfulness meditation because goddammit I was going to kick this "single" thing's ass.

I proudly took them home, Instagrammed the fuck out of my literary triumph, promptly read WILD and Into the Wild for the third time and stacked the rest of the books on my VERY cozy bookshelf because I just couldn't fucking deal with anyone telling me anything more important than the plot line of YA fiction.

I read a lot of YA Dystopian fiction for the next six months. I also read THIS series which is absurdly amazing and am in the middle of THIS series because who doesn't love a spin off?

Then, today, I picked up When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron because things fell apart like a year ago and now seemed like a good time to start reading it? #sarcasm #procrastination #wheresmynovel

... I only got to the 2nd page because I found this:

I mean....SERIOUSLY, Universe?

Thank you. But kindly fuck off and quit giving me exactly the reminders I need when I need them because I was doing perfectly fine wallowing around in my own self-pity and complete panic about the upcoming inauguration, a topic I can't even blog about because my keyboard would actually light ON FIRE with verbal rage and I can't afford a new laptop right now. #runonsentence #idon'tcare

SO. On the off chance that no one has told you today: 

May an encompassing grace comfort you during these challenging days.

xo - Annie (and the lovely woman who gave this card to the previous owner.)

*(side note: blessings to Saht, who knows me by name, asks how I'm doing and remembers that my dad really needs a three pound bag of Toasted Nut coffee every couple of months. He owns the coffee shop where my mom took me as a little girl for steamed milk, and he makes my life a brighter place.)

Dumpster Fire. At least it's warm.

I asked my mom about sending out a snarky Christmas card last year that was exactly three sentences long, encapsulating the vortex of doom that was my 2016.

She just sent back a photo saying it might just be an easier explanation.

 

Celebrity deaths and horrific political events aside, in 2016:

1. I admitted defeat and closed down a huge portion of my business ... Instead of running a thriving yoga studio, I found myself buried in 14 hour days of administration and business numbers that just didn't make sense.  So I quit. I quit a job I thought I wanted as a larger-scale business owner, and went back to coaching clients full time.

2. I initiated and finalized a divorce from my partner of a decade -- something I haven't talked about publicly because it's been too raw and painful and I still can't say more than "I'm divorced and living in an apartment with my superhero sidekick, Gracie" for right now.

3. A whole HOST of personal demons I thought I'd vanquished came raging up from underneath 1 & 2, once they'd been removed from my list of "these must be the problem." Anxiety and depression seeped up through re-opened wounds, and left me questioning my sanity and all the years of healing I'd done. I spent a few mornings in the fetal position on my kitchen floor with a literal puddle of tears accumulating on the laminate. I was REALLY drunk more than a few times and REALLY hungover a few more. I watched a LOT of TV and battled nearly debilitating insomnia. I showed up to work and trained clients with every ounce of compassion I had left ... and more often than not felt like  a hypocrite because I wasn't training consistently myself.

BUT (silver lining. you ready?) when the smoke from the goddamn dumpster fire wasn't blowing in my eyes, I had this deep sense of peace. I felt a literal warmth as the years of perfectionism and hiding and desperation burned. Light pooled in places I hadn't noticed before and gently edged out the shadows that were creeping in to overtake me. 

I am writing - both silly, unpublishable fantasy/fiction and the bits and pieces of my story that I am starting to make sense of. 

I am traveling - taking un-vacations and camping trips to continue to refill my heart and get my feet more firmly planted on this beautiful earth.

I am SLEEPING. HOLY mother, I'm sleeping. Not all the time. But most of the time. and it's GLORIOUS.

I'm ANNIE. Story for another time... I gave up my childhood nickname in 2006 when I moved to Washington, D.C. to wear black skirt suits and pointy-toed pumps because Anne sounded more grown up. But I'm not nylons and Anne Taylor...I only thought I was supposed to be. These days it's Chuck Taylors. Nose Ring. Tattoos. Dyed Hair. The works. I'm back, bitches.

and while I'm legitimately scared of this year. Like... creepy clown scared... I keep looking for the little flickers of light that push the edges open a little bit. Because they're always there. No matter how hot the fire or how bad the smoke, you can always find light and warmth when you back up far enough. My three breaths #tinyninjachange seems to help me take those steps back and things like this blog, this book and this Spotify playlist flicker when I forget to find my own (full playlist below.)

Happy 2017 everyone. May you find teensy flickers to guide your way when you get lost and raging fires where you need to burn some motherfucking dumpsters.

##

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LISTEN TO THIS (vol 2016)

Don't Go Get Your Shit Together: A New Years Fitness Resolution

I don't make New Years resolutions. I gave up on them years ago when I realized that - like everyone else - I was bailing out by January 9th at 2 pm and was tired of feeling like a failure.

I do, however, make little, insignificant changes my brain won't even notice...like "take a Vitamin D when you drink your coffee." Because if I throw out a 30 Day Challenge for REGULARLY TAKING MY SUPPLEMENTS! I immediately go punk rock bitch face and flip off the Vitamin D bottle while staring it down over said coffee.

Brain science FACT:

Your brain kinda hates big changes. Your subconscious brain is really (REALLY) interested in keeping you exactly where you are right now because it's predictable, and predictable feels pretty safe, even when it's not healthy or ideal.

So that "I'm going to gym every day for the next month! Bikini season here I come because I'm making 2017 awesome!!" plan?

Your poor back brain (unbeknownst to your thinking mind) is going "OHDEARGOD. Where are we going to find the time and fuel and resources for 30 hours in the gym? We hate the gym. and FUCK. Bikinis? We feel like shit in a bikini. Why on earth would we wear that?" and will start the subtle ninja process of talking you out of that plan at every option. You'll override the ninja for like 3-7 days...then suddenly you're sleeping past your alarm, finding reasons to stay at work a few minutes longer and strain your lower back while walking to water fountain before walking to the treadmill.

So here's the ninja response:

TINY changes. IIIIITY bitty ones that you might not even think will help. Download music that makes you happy and motivated. Leave your supplements next to the coffee maker. Put a water bottle on your desk at work. Then just leave it alone and watch what happens.

My larger hope for the near future is to have a more developed spiritual and meditation practice.

SO. Starting today (not Monday. Not January 1st.) I'm going to do one, three-breath pranyama practice/breathing drill before my first client of the day. And I'm going to journal it on Instagram and Facebook and let you know what happens... I'd love to have an awesome community join me, so follow if you're on the social medias and....

Here's YOUR homework:

1. Think about a larger hope you have. 

2. Break it down into the tiniest, most seemingly useless bite-sized piece you can.

3. Work that piece into a part of your life that's already a habit. Coffee. Netflix. Commuting. Whatever. (Don't "make time for it" outside of your existing habits because that can karate chop the sabotage ninja into gear.)

4. Post a photo of that habit or something else awesome (like a kitten) to Instagram with the hashtag #tinychangeninja or tag me (here I am) in a post on Facebook. Or just email me and be all "HOLY SHIT I DID THAT THING TODAY" and I'll give you a high-five.

5. Sign up for my email list if you're not already there, because I'm putting together a free video series and an email course on the incredible power of small and you seriously don't want to miss it.

You have the power to make incredible shifts in your energy and in your life without the crippling stress of finding time or feeling like a failure when you don't quite make it to 30 days without coffee (WHY ON EARTH would you do that to yourself, btw?) These little changes are a tiny form of self-love that adds to exponentially to compassion and hope for a future that holds you in the palm of love and kindness. Don't miss out.

(Did you forget to sign up to get awesome emails from me? click here. right now. sign up. a unicorn will come and throw glitter at you upon your submission.)

Winter

We all have these deep dark secrets that contradict everything we show to those around us. 

Mine: I don't hate winter.

I have bitched and moaned and complained about winter VERY loudly on social media and to anyone that will listen to me bitch and moan... I moved from California screaming and kicking and holding on to the door frames by my fingernails because I was pretty darn content to lay by the pool reading a book in January. 

but I don't really hate it that much. (Now that I've remembered that replacing my crop tights with full length yoga pants and a hoodie don't constitute winter clothing.)

It's quieter this time of year, a welcome break in a place where every waking hour of good weather carries an almost frantic need to be outside before it's gone. I'm an extroverted introvert and, despite my addiction to sunbathing... I actually enjoy shorter days that give me a really good reason to go to bed at 8:30 pm. I used to spend whole days curled up on my bean bag chair in front of the gas fireplace on our farm, binge reading my dad's collection of Calvin and Hobbes and avoiding any and all outdoor options that didn't involve the horses. Which pretty much constitutes my current feelings now, just substitute "happy hour" for "horses."

I mean...ask me about this in February and I'll probably give December Annie a very disdaining side eye and the middle finger, but - for now - I'm pretty content to curl up under my heating blanket with a very snuggly little dog and watch Gilmore Girls "A Year in the Life" with my Christmas lights on.

Here's to going to bed at the same time as 8 and 80 year olds!!!

Take a G#/@!mn Vacation, Already!

BART Selfie : Tourist Necessity

BART Selfie : Tourist Necessity

I’ve always been a really fucking responsible human being.

A few ill-advised frat party appearances in college aside, I make pretty damn adult decisions. I got straight A’s until college and have just one B and one C* (please read that footnote) on my undergrad transcript. Before I hit 24, I had worked on Capitol Hill and run the marketing department for an Economic Development organization in Fairfax County. By 30, I had my own brick-and-mortar yoga/coaching studio with almost no debt and was, at the same time, emotionally supporting another adult as he worked his way through the awful that is law school.

Loathe to take breaks, I made sure my vacations were carefully planned to incorporate appropriate amounts of business line-item events, a pre-researched yoga class or programmed workout, and accommodations for whatever version of my eating disorder had raised its ugly head at that time. Vacation basically just that meant I worked, educated myself, sweated or made geographically-appropriate tourist stops to exhaustion and collapsed into a lounge chair for 24 hours at the end for vacation. (Seriously. Just typing all that made me tired.)

But this year has been an absolutely beautiful train wreck … and I’ve been making pretty conscious decisions to be delightfully and responsibly irresponsible with my time and energy. 

A week before my recent trip to Northern California, I un-enrolled myself from a class I’d committed to retake, decided not to book networking meetings or a full load of clients, called a friend (how do you say “person who reminds me I’m a functional human being and not a garbage heap" in one word?) in San Francisco, and made plans to go to Big Sur with my best friend/muse. Instead of a working vacation, I blew off a lot of responsibility and:

Big Sur, CA

Big Sur, CA

  • Wandered around the SFMOMA in awe of raw power the human soul. 
  • Ate a burrito made of sushi (A BURRITO MADE OF SUSHI.)
  • Waded across a river, hiked a mile barefoot, and let the wind whip my hair as I walked on the beach
  • Stared at the California coast line for hours. 
  • Wrote complete fiction and some very inadequate poetry.

I inconvenienced and probably upset a few people I really care about because I didn’t bother to plan much further than 3 hours ahead and flew by the seat of my pants for 5 days. I ate. and ate. and ate. I slept through the SUPER super moon. I spent too much money on coffee and meals and cocktails, on a pair of sneakers at Nordstrom Rack in Union Square simply because I’d forgotten mine, on a lantern at the shop at Nepenthe just because it made me happy and on bottles of wine at my favorite tasting room.

In short: I was ME … full of wonder and childish imagination ... from the bottom of my heart for five days in a row. 

 

So here’s the obligatory self-inquiry question:

When was the last time you were responsibly irresponsible? Made the tough call to put away your to-do list for a few hours to play or lounge? Mindfully set aside a goal or two for the purpose of pure pleasure?

I hesitate to tell you this in the event that you’re an overachiever like me and will turn doing nothing into another bit of homework or a reason to beat yourself up … but being irresponsible can actually be pretty productive.

(*I feel obligated to explain that the C was actually an “incomplete" the math department at NAU refused to grant me. I took all zeroes on half-a-semester’s worth of statistics after my hospitalization because FUCK if i was going to retake an entire semester of statistics.)

i see you. can you see me?

fear and vulnerability

what if we all wore signs around our necks?

“the thought of asking for what i need completely cripples me."

we told those around us what we fear the most.

“i worry that I don't matter."

we were transparent about the things that make up our darkness.

“i’m afraid you’ll shove me away if you see me hurt, so i’ll pretend i’m fine."

what if we blatantly admitted the things that we’re most trying to hide?


we walk around desperately trying to hide ourselves from people that are desperately trying to hide themselves.

but what would happen if we were able to see the pain that carves our responses to each other into an intricate and lethal safety fence.


would we be more compassionate? 

“i see your fear. maybe i’ll ask what it is you need as you can’t voice it..."

would we let our fear reach out and touch theirs?

“i’m terrified that i’m irrelevant. but i know YOU’RE valuable. so maybe I am too?"

would we acknowledge the darkness?

“i’m scared too."


we’re all so fucking desperate for connection. for relevance.

so fucking desperate that we claw our way through life blindly ignoring pain that is so obvious if you stop and look. 

stop and look at your own sign. look at the flashing red letters around the neck of the person you’re talking to.

this shit wouldn't happen. or this shit. or this. and at the very least, we'd be kinder to the people we are in relationship with, instead of getting so wrapped up in our secret darkness that we can't see their pain and connect with it.

Being a Vulnerable Coach

I posted this on my professional Facebook page last night and after a little bit of contemplation, decided to share it on my personal page. The response was pretty overwhelming.

being a vulnerable coach

I thought clients needed to hear it. I thought that the people who come to us for help needed to know that health professionals struggle too, hit low points in life and don't always work out at the level we'd like to. We don't often share with clients our current shit because it's a HARD balance to strike while maintaining professionalism and a certain level of authority. More on that later.

What hit me so hard last night, watching my Facebook notifications blow up (while simultaneously binge watching Blacklist Season 3) was that COACHES needed to hear it! My amazing, loving, luminous colleagues needed to see my struggle. To have permission to show up in their own broken human selves even as they contribute to the lives of others. So this is for you , friends:

Here's the truth:

In your struggles. In your failures. In the times when your training is completely off the rails, your nutrition is a shameful secret, you have too many drinks on the weekends and your personal life is a complete shit show... YOU are an incredible asset to the humans who trust you. You get to share a piece of their experience, show up for them in a new way and develop your skill as a compassionate caregiver.

You have the opportunity to connect with your fellow strength and health professionals in a way that steps outside of the 15 sec Instagram victory video of that time you did a really cool thing.  I tell myself this as much as I say it to you because FUCK do I need to hear it right now.

But here's the catch:

it has to be vulnerable. It has to be real. It has to be you truly showing up to your emotional experience and using it to connect. Going in and bitching about being hungover to that client who's also your friend (#guilty) is not the same. Seeking validation via sob story is not the same. Those are ways of externalizing your experience and asking others to put a stamp of approval on your pain...which is the same as begging for attention via your athletic or professional achievements.

---

The past few months, I've had a slow, steady call to start writing my heart. To start offering my experiences of anorexia, bulimia, cigarettes and alcohol and self-abuse via relationships and work and sharp objects as a deeply honest look at the wellness industry and at women and humans who walk this earth hiding their pain. I'm afraid I have nothing new to say. Nothing to offer that hasn't already been said. And I can't ignore the little nudge anymore.

So if you're interested in staying in touch, hop over to my Facebook page Anne Jelinek, Coach, join my personal email list below to get updates when I blog or publish, or just keep this blog on your feed (what the hell do people use for that anymore anyway? ugh. RSS feeds are totally obsolete now, right? #techidiot) I'll have online and print content, courses and webinars and coaching available over the next year or two or five.

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Couch or Crockpot Pork and Potato Salad?

Hook: there are a couple recipes at the end of this blog.

I've been subsisting on a rather dubious diet of coffee, cottage cheese and baby carrots lately and today at around 9 am, I found myself wallowing in a sticky vat of self-pity and ick when I really needed to get the lead out and make myself dinner options. 

The question was: couch or crockpot?

For many of us (entrepreneurs, coaches, women, men...pretty much everyone except my dog) there's a tough choice between the self care of taking rest ... and the self care of getting the fuck off the couch. In a world where BUSY is exalted and usually allows you to outrun your personal bears (mine are named loneliness and imposter syndrome) and concurrently vilified by the self-help community, I struggle with that choice frequently.

There are days when 100% it is time to take a break. Lay down. Skip dinner. Rest your body and your heart and allow them the gentle process of healing. Then there are days when you need to light a fire under your ass, put dinner in the crock pot, empty the dishwasher and make sure you sneak in a workout. But how do you tell the difference? How do you decide which day to stay busy because if you don't the bears might catch up with you? Or to lay still and play dead so the bears think you're not worth their time.

(a quick side note: I have nothing against bears...they just seemed like a likely predator because I saw The Revenent on Friday. #notrecommended)

My answer these days has been "which of these is actually healing for me?" What do I actually need to be a better contributor to my own life? and in 1 minute or one hour, will what I'm currently doing help me feel more alive? Laying on the couch and staring at the ceiling/floor/Instagram photo of Chris Pratt river fishing can absolutely do that. So can some kettlebell swings. And you - in your deepest heart - know the answer.

I give you full permission to lay on the couch and watch this video. I also offer up these recipes:

CrockPot Pork Shoulder Roast:

  • 1/4 C Honey
  • 1/4 C Stone Ground Mustard
  • 5# Pork Shoulder Roast (ethically raised, well-sourced, please.)

Smear honey and mustard on pork. Stick in crockpot on low for 8 hours until it falls off the bone. Shred. Eat.

Red Potato Salad

  • 1-2# Large Red potatoes
  • 1 Bunch Parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 3 TBS-1/4 C Stone Ground Mustard

Cut potatoes into small cubes. Boil until you can insert a knife with no resistance. Drain. Mix with salt, mustard, parsley while still warm. Eat that shit because it's delicious. 

I Love You.

I took a yoga class on Tuesday with one of my dearest, sweetest friends and teachers, Katie Hill.

There was the usual invitation to set an intention, something I usually brush off with a bullshit thing like "I'll be present each moment." (which is not intrinsically bullshit, it's just a cop out, rookie answer for me. I've learned to be present. I've also learned how to manipulate the present so that it's tolerable.)

I'll tell you what my intention ended up being, but first, a quick digression ... Many of you know that I haven't practiced yoga asana regularly in a long time for several reasons --

First is a neurological/pain issue. To keep it short: symmetrical, bilateral movement has the effect of leaving my right shoulder/neck relatively crippled. (Check out this blog by Doc Cobb over at Z Health) I've just recently learned how to modify yoga postures to adjust for this, and I'm not always comfortable stepping outside a teacher's sequence to the extent that I need to in order to stay pain-free. God bless Katie Hill and Alex Pfieffer for giving me that space.

Second is an irritation issue.  The way that Yoga has been adapted to fit Western ideas of exercise and movement is not a good fit for my current state. My soul has been crying out for a connection to the Infinite in a real way and Western Vinyasa flow "yoga" has felt like a slap in the face. There's just no space for the depth of human pain or the experience of That Which Is ... something so much bigger than "the burn in your thigh... hold warrior II just a little longer!" fuck that noise, quite frankly. 

(I'm fully aware of the fact that I probably just offended a large yoga constituency. sorry not sorry.)

And the last - and most real reason - is that I'm afraid of myself. I am in a lifelong relationship with someone that I've never bothered to actually get to know, and we're locked in a very real struggle right now. I want to connect (see above) and that means learning the Infinite and Divine that is my own heart. And my own heart is protected by fear and really fucked up beliefs.

aaaaaand we're back.

My "intention" at the beginning of this class, lit by the kind of golden sunset that only happens in the midwest, was simply "I love you." A quiet dedication to the part of me that I'm wanting to know. And instead of the cliche "coming back to your breath" i came back to I. LOVE. YOU. i love YOU. ILOVEYOU! over and over and over.

You know that feeling when your partner says "I love you" for the first time or the 5,000,000th time and something in you settles? Because you know you're OK and all is right with the world? I got that fucking feeling. That bone-deep sense of care and soul-rightness. I can't explain it, and I won't tell you that it was something I expected or can repeat on command.

But I was laying in savasana and Fear showed up with her bloodshot eyes and snarled hair, Anxiety stomped through in her stiletto boots and stabby words, Sadness poured in through the cracks in my heart. My knee-jerk response?

"Hello, Fear. Thank you for being a part of Me. I love you."

"Anxiety. Wow. Um. Thank you? Shit. I actually do love you."

"Sadness. You are so loved."

This is the kind of thing that I read from other people and think "yeah. good for you. also, I'm calling psychobabble bullshit." But I simply had the most unexpected compassion for these parts of me that have given (and taken) so much over the years. So the questions are, I suppose:

What parts of your deepest self do you think you hate? reject? run from?

What would happen if you spent 5 seconds or 5 minutes or a whole yoga class meditating on the mantra "I love you." (I can tell you there are points in my life where it would NOT have gone well, so there's some honesty.)

 

Crisis of Faith

literally. cobwebs.

literally. cobwebs.

I don't believe in "God" in the traditional sense. I believe that each human is divine in a way. That we're meeting god each time we interact with ourselves and each other. That prayer is in showing up to the energy that we create and converse with, often through emotions and physical experiences and human intimacy.

So my crisis has simply been this: who am i?

My faith in my own experience... My own existence... My own ability to show up and contribute to a greater universal good. I've had this massive sinkhole in the center of my chest where those used to live.

So today, I got back on my mat. (It - quite literally - had cobwebs on it.) And for the first 3 minutes, I just fucking stood there. I stood there with the silent plea "I am ..." and a complete blank following the first two words. I sprinted to memories of relationships and interactions. But I wasn't there. I considered a few dozen yoga postures, but I wasn't in any of those either. Quitting and going for coffee while pondering the meaninglessness of existence seemed like a good option for a short while.

Then, in a very quiet corner of my heart, something quickened. A showing up-ness that started to pour into my entire body. And then. Suddenly. I was here. I could feel the bottoms of my feet and the insides of my ribs as clearly as I could see the tiny succulent garden at the top of my mat.

I did about eight forward folds, a child's pose, a little movement here and there. But mostly I just took a deep sigh of relief in the fact that I am not the racing of my thoughts or the dark, creeping fears that line the path I'm walking.

I am a healer.

I am sensitive. (something i had to try on three times before it didn't sound like an insult)

I am part of a bigger whole.

I am completely broken and entirely whole.

I'm back to yoga in the sense that I'm showing up again: Being real for a few minutes without looking for myself in other people or situations or accomplishments. Doubts about faith are an invitation to expand and evolve your core beliefs. Or they can be an invitation to quit, go get coffee, and go on blaming life on other people. Today, anyway, I'm choosing the former.