It’s Valentine’s Day. True, a “Hallmark Holiday” for many, but a good excuse nonetheless to look at Love.
Love is a vast topic, and perhaps the only topic truly worth discussing. Love is, in the end, everything. But love is also incredibly misunderstood.
The concept of love that many of us grow up with is (quite unintentionally, most of the time) conditional: The basic assumption is that “I will love you when/if you do this.” This assumption is not typically stated out loud (although sometimes it is brutally drilled into kids’ bodies-minds), and most parents really would never mean or think such a thing. But whether they are aware of it or not, parents’ actions and seemingly benign statements can sound to a kid like...
I’ve recently started a creative writing group at my house. We eat homemade scones, chat about writing topics, and do some creative exercises to get the words flowing onto the page.
The other day, one member of the group seemed distressed that I would be the only one responsible for organizing our gatherings: “Isn’t it a lot of work for you to plan and host us every time?” I looked at her with what can only be described as shock. And then I realized why she might interpret the planning and hosting of such an event as a relative burden. She has a family, her own service business, and a deeply rooted local community to tend to that she’s built over 20 years. Therefore, she has lots of roles and possible demands on her time and energy. Adding one more ounce to that load might, indeed, feel as though it could break the camel’s back, especially if she weren’t careful to engage in self-care first.
As opposed to my new friend, however, I have no family here. I have been on a long-overdue sabbatical from a draining desk job for 8 months, so I have not had students or clients to tend to since last spring. I have had no local community and no friends at all, outside of my wonderful husband, since we moved overseas 4 years ago. (FOUR years!)
I’ve always been attracted to writers. Whenever I am in a new place, the first place I want to go is to a book store or a library. All those words, all those stories, written by those amazing people who do the difficult work of creating something new out of words on a page: writers.
Recently, I enrolled in a workshop for women writers. It’s the first writing workshop I have ever attended; my writing before had always been private, for my entertainment and enlightenment only. I wasn’t planning to come out of the workshop with anything publishable. In fact, I didn’t really know why I was going to the workshop at all, because I had just discovered (by using my own coaching techniques) that I am not cut out to write fiction and that my beloved Grandma’s assumption that one day I would write the great American novel was probably just pure folly. I am attracted to poetry, memoir, and creative non-fiction, despite my not having felt compelled to dedicate much time to those modes of creative writing.
I wondered, then: Why was I so keen on attending this workshop despite my ambivalence about writing?
For a while now, I have been saying that I’d write about ENFPs because they fascinate me (or I should say, “we” fascinate me). You probably want to know, what is an ENFP?
To understand what it is, you need a little background.
Back in the 90s and early 00s, you might have heard of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory and/or read a book called Please Understand Me II. Both resources include the comprehensive personality test commonly known as the Myers-Briggs. I think a friend introduced me to it in about 1999, and I continue to be blown away by the accuracy of the description of this, my personality type, over the subsequent decades.
So what is an ENFP?
I wanted to create this simple step-by-step post about how to actually see in your timeline the posts you want to see from the Facebook pages you have “liked” and “followed,” because it’s not automatic that they will show up. Facebook seems to limit how many “likers” and “followers” actually see pages’ posts so that page managers are incentivized to pay Facebook to “boost” their posts onto likers' and followers' timelines. But there is something you can do to increase your chances of seeing the content you want...
Four Tips to See Your Liked Pages’ Posts in Your Facebook Timeline
As I revealed in this post, I am new to the whole “actually dealing with trying to stay in recovery from an addiction that covered up some really negative emotions.” And wow, has it been a lesson. I mean, I have known and dated addicts my whole pre-married life, and I have studied and had a deep intellectual understanding of addiction for decades, but never did I actively try to heal my own because I was not aware of the important/necessary emotions I was covering up. Now that the process of uncovering and healing the emotions has begun, so has the process of sticking to my recovery from addiction.
These are my basic strategies, probably subject to change. I am no expert, just a person dealing with healing and wanting to share what I do.
It seems that in the past 2 years, several experiences have put me off track, and somehow I forgot how to have fun. It’s a loss that affects me every day, and needless to say it’s also affecting my marriage. In the course of investigating and working through the painful issues that are contributing to my lack of fun of late, I brainstormed a list of things I used to do for fun. It looks something like this:
I could have called this post so many things:
But the truth of the matter is, I am hopeful that the process I am going through right this minute (and have gone through about 43,200 minutes already) will cease to feel desperate, not remind me of crack addiction, no longer have me mourning, allow me once again to eat meals with my husband, and have me not feeling as though I am being tortured most hours of most days of the week. I’m hopeful that I will, indeed, overcome the sugar addiction that I have been quite happily feeding for over a decade now, which went into overdrive when I met and married another sugar addict (isn’t that how it always goes?) and discovered I needed to drop sugar to heal a damaged gut (more on that later).
Peeling back the layers of an onion. It’s a metaphor for life and growth that might not be perfect but never gets old.
The most poignant part of the metaphor for me is that peeling onions can sting and make you cry. Well, if that’s not a truth about growth and life, I don’t know what is! With every layer we peel back, we can potentially face great pain and lots of tears. But it’s worth it, because onions, like life, are so tasty when they’re peeled and used in a way that is totally different from how they started. Instead of being a thick, protected orb with all sorts of potential (imagine our adult defenses), when the onion has been peeled and chopped, allowing us to cry while we peel and chop it, we make something pretty delicious and wonderful with it.
With life, it seems, it’s only in the unpeeling (discovering), chopping (analyzing), and making us cry (healing) that we learn, grow, and become our true selves.
Is it uncomfortable? Hell yes, just like peeling and chopping an onion.
Is it worth the discomfort?
First, let me say than I loved Eat, Pray, Love. Both the book and the entirely adequate adaptation made me laugh, cry, and feel pain and joy.
Second, let me also say that, as a marriage skeptic who actually got married a year before I found Committed, I relished reading that book more than any other non-fiction book I had until that point read. What a gift to independent, intelligent, not-the-marrying-type women everywhere, like me. It’s a splendid work of research, writing, and storytelling. And I don’t find it meaningful at all that Ms. Gilbert’s marriage has since ended. (Well, it’s meaningful to her and her former husband, but it says nothing about the quality of the book or the quality and validity of her actions.)
Finally, though, today, I want to talk about Big Magic. Because this, of the three* books I have read by the lovely and wonderful Ms. Gilbert, is the book that contains
Because the concept of “coaching” is still so nebulous to the majority of folks, I thought I’d whip up this quick list of comparisons that should help differentiate it from counseling or therapy.
After my last post, several of you wrote to me to tell me that you thought I was a great teacher, and that you appreciated what you learned from me. For that, I am eternally grateful. And as I enter the world of the coach again, I find myself pondering the differences between coaching and teaching and what they mean to me. I don’t think I ever bothered to investigate their differences very closely before, because I had never spent so much time teaching in my life. But now that I have 17+ years of teaching under my belt, I can pick apart the qualities of teaching and coaching quite well. These are my realizations.
I’m absolutely terrified to write this post. My brain has wanted to write it, but my body shuts down when I sit down to type. I’m fighting through, though, because I know it’s important. No, it’s crucial—for me, for my joy, for my life.
This post is about my dreams. It’s about the dreams that I left to die a sad and lonely death while I pursued what I had convinced myself were “smarter” goals. In 2009, I walked away from my dreams (a second time) and into what would be the most difficult period of my life, fighting for things I did not believe in, getting farther and farther away from my dreams and from myself in the process.
The funny thing is, many of you know me (or know of me and my work) only after 2009. Many of you have no idea that when you attended my yoga classes or my back-pain workshops, those things were my efforts at a compromise. They were not my dreams. They were certainly closer than other things I tried (like the job that I have now), but they were not my dreams. I left those in 2009, like I said. I never thought I could achieve them. So I never even tried. I mean, I half-assed tried, but I didn’t commit because I didn’t really believe. In my mind, my dreams would never be attainable, so I could not put aside all of the other noise, distraction, and false needs to pursue my authentic dreams. I didn’t. And I suffered. Wow, have I suffered.
I feel the desire to write through all of the things that led to my avoiding and neglecting the pursuit of my dreams, but perhaps not now. Not in this post. I have so many important things to do now, I don’t want to stay stuck dredging up the “how did I get here.”
As I contemplated the continuation of the list of reasons I started in Why Do I Love Yoga, Part I, my mind went in so many different directions. At first. It always came back to one single idea, though: I love yoga because Yoga is not about my body.
That statement probably doesn't make any sense, so let me explain. First, you have to know some backstory.
When I was about 10 years old, I was told I had scoliosis (curvature of the spine). At about the same time, I was told I was a likely candidate for Marfan Syndrome, a potentially deadly disorder of the aortic valve. I was pulled from daily gym class and spent that hour each day in the library with the "special" kids. I was required to have echocardiograms and EKGs every 6 months for the foreseeable future, if not the rest of my life. I don't remember if it was a few months or a year later, but sometime after that initial diagnostic period, I was fitted for a back brace. I was expected to wear it 23 hours a day until I stopped growing--approximately 6 years. Yeah, right.
Sometimes it's nice to take a minute and remind myself of all the many reasons why I love yoga. Because I'm hyper flexible, I often have to forgo extensive asana practice in favor of targeted strength training for my hips, shoulders, back, and core. But yoga is my rock, the calm eye of the hurricane, the lighthouse pointing the way home when seas are rough and skies are menacing, the thing I return to after allowing myself to get scattered in the ego-driven winds circling us all at any given time. And here are some answers to the question, "Why do I love yoga?":
Now that I am in my 40th year on this planet, women ask me all the time about weight loss, healthy exercise, and being fit when you're over 40.
I am more than happy to coach women through the process of adopting and adhering to an effective fitness plan, even those who have never worked out or experienced the improved mood, energy, and metabolism that accompany an effective fitness routine.
When I was approached by Outreach NC, a broad-ranging lifestyle publication for active adults, to contribute to their May 2014 issue, I jumped at the chance. You can download and read my contributions in this article by Michelle Goetzl entitled "The Gift of Health" by clicking the link at the bottom of the post. In it, I touch on:
If you know someone who is 40 or older, please share this piece and know that, yes, women over 40 can be as fit and healthy as women at any other age!
Ah, self-massage, also known as self myofascial release (SMR), is a method of giving your aching muscles a serious rub down without having to pay much money or even get undressed. I talk about my homemade tool for self-massage in this piece at haubermethod.com [site links no longer live] I called "My Favorite Cheap DIY Massage." And my good friend and Hauber Method™ team member Stacey Mata, MS, explains in detail why we need self-massage in the first place.
As a fitness pro with decades of experience and a really crooked spine that causes all sorts of muscle imbalances on a daily basis, I need self-massage or I'd be 1) in pain all the time, or 2) spending a fortune--more than I already do--on professional massages. The gift of my favorite cheap DIY massage is just that: It's cheap, and I can do it myself, no matter where I go.
If Jillian Michaels hates her butt, then you should too.
That's the underlying message behind this news from Ms. Michaels [this was an Examiner article and it's no longer live so I removed the link]. It's just one more piece of evidence that
I spent years hating my body. It was never going to be good enough because I was comparing it against some unrealistic ideal (the origins of which I still don't know). I finally got smart, though, and realized that my body was here not to look a certain way but to do certain things, such as...
It's the end of the year. Already, I'm hearing people talk about New Year's Resolutions. For many people, resolutions revolve around one thing and one thing only: getting fit. And for many people these days, yoga classes seem a rather non-threatening point of entry on the path to greater fitness. I applaud their interest: yoga is an incredible method for getting in touch with your body, uniting the body and mind, and learning how to breathe fully. So I'd like to give beginning yoga students some tips on how to start off their yoga journey the best way possible.
Every yoga class is different. Well, not so if you go to a Bikram yoga class, or if you're learning the Ashtanga series. But most beginners are not headed straight for the 105-degree oven that is Bikram or the rigid, extremely disciplined practice of Ashtanga. Most would-be yoga students are interested in learning some poses, sweating a little, and feeling like they did something good for themselves. Beginners are more likely to head for a Yoga Flow class or a Hatha Yoga class. And I have to reiterate--every single one of them will be different. So how do you know, when you see a class on the schedule, what you're getting into?
Looking perfect or feeling good. That struggle has been on my mind a lot lately as I welcome a host of new internal and external conditions that have a direct impact on my identity as a "health and fitness professional":
The items in the above list have undermined the major belief that drove me to exercise obsessively for the first 10 years of my professional fitness career: my body was really messed up from scoliosis and other health issues, and I had to work really hard to make it appear "perfect" or I wouldn't be respected, successful, or loved. I think perhaps a majority of women are led to believe something very similar, and that is what countless "love your body" campaigns and groups are designed to help defuse.
But as anyone who has made a major shift in her life knows, old beliefs and thought patterns die hard. Really hard. It takes more than a simple ad campaign or a support group to change our core beliefs. Especially when every bit of advertising and social conditioning in our society says, "Women are their bodies, nothing more, and we demand that those bodies appear PERFECT!" And as a professional in the fitness and wellness industry (and, sadly, also in "Westernized" yoga)? Forget about it: We are ALL supposed to be perfect icons of bodily perfection: no body fat, no cellulite, no structural malformations, no outward appearance of aging, perfect curves in exactly the right places, and energy so abundant we work out hours a day without a care in the world. Hmph. I don't think anyone can adhere to those expectations without being sick and obsessed.
So here I reveal the strategies that work to ensure that I don't fall into the "trying to appear perfect" trap again. If you recognize yourself struggling with anything I've mentioned so far, maybe one or more of these can help you, too.
When faced with the choice to "look perfect" or "feel good," I'm opting for feeling good from here on out. What about you?
** I had so many wonderful, heartfelt comments to this post on its original Wordpress page. It's too bad I could not preserve them when I moved the site. Perhaps new readers would like to add some helpful comments of their own?
"Why do I teach yoga?"
It's a question I often ask myself, because sometimes I get lost and need to find my way back. I get caught up in the very American view of yoga that promotes yoga practice as a way to lose weight and work on one's body shape and size. I feel pressured to teach a fast, flowing, aerobically stimulating class even when I know that the students asking for such a class are not ready for it physically. I let myself fall into the trap that I have fallen into since I was a youngster: trying to be what people want me to be instead of what I am.
In the last week, during my lovely yoga retreat in Puglia, Italy, I found myself falling into the traps that I just described, and I had to pause and ask myself again, "Why do I teach yoga?" Below are my answers.
I learned long ago, probably during one of my many self-help-book-reading jags, that expressing appreciation to others makes them feel really, really good, and it actually has a profoundly positive effect on relationships. As I exponentially increased my expressions of appreciation and gratefulness--by consciously choosing to do so--I started to notice just how rarely I had heard such appreciation sent my direction. Such warm-and-fuzzy, heartfelt feelings of gratitude were apparently more rare than I ever imagined them to be, and I never would have noticed if I hadn’t made the concerted effort to increase my own delivery of these simple, yet meaningful, expressions.
In my inbox last week, I received an e-mail from the leader of a women’s chorus that I belonged to in Chapel Hill, NC. Every week, this amazing woman sends out announcements of uplifting, healing, love-focused events, requests, and news items. Amongst the long list that day was a link to ArtofGratitude.com [sadly, the website is now defunct], described as “a free resource designed to help people create a daily practice of expressing gratitude.”
The law of giving and receiving is one of what Deepak Chopra calls The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. This law tells us that the universe is constantly nourishing us when we are nourishing it. When we give what we would like to receive, we actually get just that. For example, when we put love, gratitude, and joy out into the world by way of positive interactions, a welcoming demeanor, and random acts of kindness, we get all of those good vibes sent right back to us to receive.
I feel particularly connected to this law after having taught a charity yoga class at Namaskar Yoga in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
Ever since I can remember, I have gotten sick when I have been forced to work a solid "8-hour workday." I never drank coffee until I started working in the corporate world, as I tried to force my energy level to adhere to the false notion that a worker at a desk job for 8 hours is a productive one. Nothing could be further from the truth, but only recently have scientists and corporate bigwigs been catching on to that fact.
It's been shown time and again that we humans need rest--and lots of it--to be at our best, cognitively, emotionally, and physically. We start to destroy cells and important muscle tissues as soon as we cross that line from "working optimally" to "being a little fatigued," and it's all down hill from there. The thing is, we humans cross that line after a much shorter time than 8 hours! As Tony Schwartz reveals in his excellent New York Times piece, "Relax! You'll Be More Productive," in as little as 90 minutes after an energetic high, we need a rest.
The bottom line of the article, and what my body seems to have been telling me for years, is: Relaxation improves performance.
And by performance, I'm talking not just about work. I'm talking thinking/reasoning skills, emotional skills, and life skills that are crucial to "performance" in relationships, day-to-day interactions in public, and self-care.
We need vacations and time away from the "grind" sprinkled heavily throughout our days, or we just don't feel and act right.
I realized after trying to work for other people many times that I just couldn't play by someone else's rules (which required someone else's schedule) without getting dead sick. It happened every time! My body told me loud and clear, "Sara, you need regular relaxation built into your days or you'll die." Or at least, that's what it felt like. So I put a plan in motion to get out of the 9-to-5 (or, more often, 7-to-6) rat race and into a life that better suited my values: healthy life, healthy relationships, healthy body (none of which I had when working the corporate gig).
As we emerge from winter to spring, keep your needs for relaxation in mind. Honor your body's rhythms. And if you think you need some good brainstorming to come up with ideas for how to find that relaxation even during a 9-to-5 (or 7-to-6) gig, let me help. I can't give you answers, but I can ask you all the right questions to help you find what'll work for you.
Now, isn't it nap time?
Back pain has been a professional specialty of mine since 1999. I should say, back pain relief has been my specialty since that time. That professional focus arose directly from my personal experience with spine surgery and my expert training in functional movement.
It seems odd to me that hundreds of people each year are trained as personal trainers with certifications in “functional training,” yet I rarely meet someone who can teach what I teach, how I teach it. They don’t really understand the deep core musculature. They don’t really know what stretches or exercises accomplish what gains. They don't really understand the progressions that help clients--who've been in active pain for weeks, months, or decades--get a truly strong core and a pain-free back.
And then it finally dawned on me: It’s my personal experience with back pain that makes my style or method of teaching so effective.
I’ve lived back pain. I’ve survived back surgery. I’ve struggled through recovery, not just from that, but from a traumatic hip surgery as well. I know exactly what it’s like to suffer those few hours when one pain pill is wearing off, and it’s too soon to take another; to roll the wrong way in bed and have pain make me cry; to struggle through just a couple tiny physical therapy movements when I know that I have to complete dozens more in order for my range of motion to return and my muscles not to atrophy further.
I’ve been faced with many physical challenges for the last 25+ years of my life.
But here’s the thing: I’m still here. I’m still active. I’m still pain free.
And that’s what I bring to this field of back-pain management (and functional movement training) that others simply don’t: first-hand experience, first-hand struggle, first-hand success and triumph.
Because of my own experience, I have an undying belief—rather, a knowing—that you, too, can overcome whatever obstacles (physical, emotional, spiritual) you’re facing, and come out the other side a pain-free, thriving, integrated person. I’ve seen it happen time and again with clients and students of mine. And I invite you to join us.
Coach, listener, observer, and sometimes teacher; constantly curious student of life. Former back-pain expert with a back full of metal and a heart overflowing with Love.
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