Category Archives: Zero Stress

Without a man I feel naked

 

I wrote that sentence not too long ago: without a man I feel naked.

And I immediately wanted to erase it. Or at least rearrange it, or reinterpret the words, somehow reorganize this truth to make it less … pathetic. But instead I just cried, and sank into the disappointment (in myself), the shame, and the insecurity that surfaced as a result of facing it. And then I waited for more. NAKED. What did I really mean by that? I asked myself. More words came. Stripped. Bare. Exposed to the world.

This is a vulnerable share, and I share it, as always, with the hope it will ignite something in you. How would you finish the following statement: “Without _______ , I would feel naked and exposed.” Is it relationships for you too? (Love? Hookups? Or just superficial but constant conversation on social media?) Is it your nightly drinks? Or nightly binge? Your job? Your phone? Whatever feels most scary, or even terrifying to admit, write THAT down.

For roughly 15 years of my life, the men I’ve loved gave me shelter from lots of everyday pain (which I’ve written about before) but there’s more. They also gave me a default sense of PURPOSE (to love him, care for him, connect with him) AND a default IDENTITY (“I’m so and so’s girlfriend”).

Now, check this out…

As long as at least a good portion of my purpose and identity was intimately tied up with someone else, I alone, could never TRULY fail, I alone, could never REALLY be FULLY responsible for anything. Because “I, alone” did not exist!

You catching this? It’s a game changer. Love and relationships was my armor. Without me knowing it, my unconscious was doing a damn good job of keeping me removed from the big bad world of expectations. In other words, keeping me (emotionally) safe, from failure, rejection, disapproval, etc. (Something to consider: what might your thickest armor or greatest attachment be doing FOR you?)

Thing is, eventually, not only did seeking this “safety” outside myself backfire (i.e. tons of pain caused by being in the wrong relationships for too long), but it also stopped being enough. I ached to know myself more completely. To know myself without this armor. To believe myself emotionally capable and strong, especially in my most distressing moments.

For almost a year now, I’ve been single. And I don’t mean “texting a few guys, Facebook messaging a few others, meeting up with an ex every once in while” kind of single. I mean I’ve intentionally taken any form of romantic, intimate relationships off the table. Why? To see what was left. To see what lie beneath the armor. To meet myself, bare and exposed. And doing this for real, learning to claim my life as my own, I’ll admit, has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

When people ask me whether or not they should give up coffee, or bread, or dairy, know what I say? I say, “Well, how badly do you feel you need it? The more you need it, the more I’d recommend you give it up.” And not as a punishment but as a catalyst for self growth. When you can completely give up the thing you’re attached to (even if only temporarily), it throws your psyche into a disoriented state (“how do I soothe myself NOW? how do I get through this moment? this day? this life?”). In that desperate state you become forced to “dig deep” as my dear friend and I say, into the well of your inner resources (emotional, psychological, and spiritual), of nourishment and soothing.

For many of us it takes years, decades, or even a lifetime, to become comfortable reaching inward instead of outward when times are tough. I like to think of it as a process of coming home to ourselves, the only process I’ve come to believe can bring us true freedom.

I never ask my clients to go anywhere I haven’t gone myself. So, yes, I want you to know I am still in it. I am today, and always, growing into owning this journey that is only mine to take. It’s true, without a man I may feel naked. I may feel exposed. But it’s also true that I finally feel free. 

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The truth is…

You ever get in bad mood and not know why?

(I know this sounds like a pharmaceutical ad, but bear with me… )

Like maybe you wake up and feel pissed off before you even get outta bed (“Did I have a bad dream or what??“) Or you’re hangin with a group of friends and feel totally numb and disengaged (“Where the hell did this come from?” “Why can’t I just enjoy myself?“)

This used to happen to me a lot, actually, especially in my early-mid 20s. Like on a Saturday, for instance, I’d be getting ready for a “fun” night out with friends. While I could always manage to put a smile on my face, inside I felt some degree of emptiness. Or felt nothing. Or didn’t know what I was feeling. I just knew it wasn’t what I “should” have been feeling in those moments.

It was frustrating and disorienting. If you’ve had experiences like this, you know what I mean.

But it was also an opportunity (as most uncomfortable/painful situation are!) to understand myself more fully. Through years of personal reading and reflection, and work with coaches and therapists, I came to a couple important realizations I wanna share tonight:

1) We rarely feel “off” for no reason. And if we’re feeling “off” and don’t know why, it’s likely because, to some degree, we’ve cut ourselves off from our feelings/our truth (which may or may not be related to the present situation).

2) Why would we do that? Well first of all, it’s not always something we do consciously. And second of all, because there’s about a million seemingly good reasons to cut ourselves off from our true feelings.

i.e.

If I feel the pain of losing him,
maybe i’ll never stop crying,
or never get out of bed,
or never believe in love again.
so I’m not going to feel that right now.

If I feel hurt by what she said,
people might think I’m too dramatic,
or too emotional.
so I’m not going to feel that right now.

If I feel anger at my mom,
or resentment towards my baby,
maybe I’m defective. Or a bad person.
so I’m not going to feel any of that right now.

If I admit to feeling smothered and exhausted by my 9-5,
then I might have to quit,
and I might lose all sense of stability,
so I’m not going to feel that right now.

If I admit to feeling unfulfilled going to bars with friends,
then I’ll have nothing in common with those friends,
and I might have to spend Saturday night alone.
so I’m not going to feel that right now.

Seeing the theme here?

3) Avoiding or denying our true feelings (aka repression), is the way we (often automatically and unconsciously) manage stuff that seems too overwhelming at the time. Thank God for it, right? Sometimes it’s necessary to get through the day (especially if you’ve had some serious trauma).

4) However, it’s not a habit we want to get comfy with… cuz’ if we do, we quickly begin to lose ourselves. Literally we separate from ourselves, our truth, and start experiencing those kinds of displaced and disorienting feelings I mentioned earlier (why am I feeling this way? what am I even feeling? where is this coming from?)

5) Unacknowledged feelings also lead to a lack of energy and enthusiasm. Know why? Cuz’ feelings are a source of energy. When we’re in touch with them, we feel alive. When we’re out of touch, we feel exhausted and depressed.

Feeling our feelings might sound like a pretty basic concept. But the reality is, it’s not, for many people. We don’t learn emotional literacy in school. Lots of us don’t learn it from our families either. Oh, and our culture certainly doesn’t promote it.

So, for many of us, it’s not til after many years of unease with ourselves and/or lots of stumbling in relationships, that we realize its importance and begin to teach it to ourselves, or to seek out guidance from a coach or therapist.

If this is resonating with you, I’ve got a simple exercise for you (below). And as a heads up, I’ll also soon be opening up applications for my upcoming group program, when we’ll dive into this stuff much more deeply.

The TRUTH IS… [a written exercise]

Shakespeare knew it (“This above all; to thine own self be true“), my grandma knew it (“Lying to yourself will make you sick“) and now you know it.

Use this exercise when you’re feeling “off” but don’t know why.
Use this exercise to find your truth.

This exercise will help you back track through the maze of your emotions to find the starting point. It’ll help you find the root of your discomfort, so you can acknowledge it, face it, and perhaps do something about it. (Note: even if you don’t get to the point of doing anything about it, simply receiving your truth can cause an immediate shift and a significant level of healing).

Completing the exercise is straight forward. In a moment you’re feeling “off” (numb, disengaged, tense, pissed, etc.) take out a sheet of paper and write “the truth is… ” and then free write for as long as you’d like. If you find yourself getting stuck or drawing a blank, it can be helpful to write “the truth is…” again and again, to cut through superficial thoughts and feelings and elicit an honest message from your heart.

Pretty simple, right? I swear by this exercise and would absolutely love to know how it goes for you.

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Why I get off Instagram + back on my own mat

What kinda Instagram posts do you get lost in?

Workout videos of beautifully toned and beautifully tanned women?
Health bloggers with perfect recipes photographed in perfect bowls?
Or maybe the private lives of your favorite celebs,
or just the everyday lives of your friends?

You ever observe what’s goin through your mind when you’re scrolling through this stuff?
Are you inspired? Envious?

Like, does it make you wanna get in the kitchen and whip up your own buddha bowl? Or drop everything and get to a boxing class so you too can take sweaty photos in a sports bra?

OR does it make you slump even further into your chair and feel like nothing you do will even come close to the perfection you see in that post so why try…

Maybe it’s a bit of both?

Recently I’ve found myself watching lots of yoga videos. You know, the ones featuring a super fit woman in her gorgeous studio space, or an adorable couple yoga-ing together with their golden retriever pup just casually rollin’ around in the background? (Seriously, it’s pretty addicting, check it here).

In case I haven’t mentioned, by 22 years old, I was already a certified yoga teacher, teaching full-time in Boston and practicing 6-ish days a week. My body was the strongest it’s ever been. I felt confident, “had shit figured out,” all that good stuff…

By my mid twenties, though, my body had started to break down. I’d torn both hamstrings and had a partial tear in one hip. My body was totally outta whack, and I woke up every day feeling tension all over and weaker than ever.

These injuries changed the course of my yoga practice/career, so much so that I quit teaching and began practicing only gentle and restorative postures (which some days literally looks like a 20 minute savasana. Period.)

Now, you can imagine, it can be real tempting for me to spend hours scrolling through Instagram (and don’t get me wrong, sometimes I still indulge!), watching those yoga videos and getting lost in the glitz and glam of other people’s impressive postures and their equally impressive yoga-wear, feeling discouraged and nostalgic for the days when I too felt unstoppable.

But in a recent hiatus from social media, I realized somethin’…

There’s a line between admiring someone else’s work and letting it get in the way of doing your own. Social media offers up a lot of “ideal” scenarios (which is what makes it enticing) but it’s our job to stay grounded in our own reality and not miss a chance at our own growth (Insta-worthy or not).

For instance, for me, yoga videos are still fun to watch but the only way for me to be deeply inspired is to get back on my own mat. Today, my yoga practice isn’t about conquering fancy postures or pushing my body to the limit. It’s just simply a road home. It looks different than it once did, but the heart of the practice is the same. In it, through it, I find stillness, clarity and a place to fully rest. And the more I do it, the more I find.

So, let’s see what you can find …
Once again, consider the posts you get lost in.

First, ask yourself: What specifically draws you to this post? Is it something you wish for yourself? Maybe something you once had but feel you’ve lost or buried? (i.e. strength, creativity, confidence).

Next, can you catch yourself when you move from admiring and inspired territory to envious and defeated territory? 

And if you can, that’s the moment to put the phone down. And to go in search of what you’re seeking. A real life source.

Go to the farmers market.
Grab your guitar.
Pick up a paintbrush.
Write.
Dance.
Sing.

And if nothing specific calls you, just sit in silence.
And listen.
For as long as it takes.
Until you find something truly worth getting lost in.

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It is here, it is here, it is here

Every day I write to-do lists. I’ve written thousands in my thirty years. 

And beyond those physical to-do lists, I’ve also got mental and emotional “to do” lists I edit all day long. These lists are a combo of simple errands, big life goals, and anything in between.

On any given day, a compilation of tasks from my to-do lists might look something like this:

– read for school
– write a blog
– get an internship
– email my client
– grocery shop
– pay bills
– make chocolate
– meditate
– get to yoga
– get inspired
– travel
– find love

All of these items, on one level or another, are of course, meant to either maintain, fix, or better certain aspects of my life.

Funny thing is, no matter how many to-do lists I write, no matter how many items I cross off, life stays generally the same. I still have good days and bad days. I still laugh and I still cry. I still seek and find, and I still lose and have to let go. I still feel loved and I still feel desperately alone. I might get an overdose of good, or an overdose of the not-so-good here or there, but in the big picture, life stays generally the same.

This started to make me wonder: 

> what exactly are we striving for with all our to-do lists?

Are we getting so caught up in “getting somewhere” or “achieving something” that we fail to realize that this, the routine, the mundane details, this nowhere near perfect-ness, this mess, is in fact, life… ?

Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, and a man whose work truly inspires me, taught that we can choose to live in rapture, in joy, in ecstasy, that it is not “out there” in some other place or person, that we don’t have to go somewhere or have something, or someone.

Rather, he would say:

“It is here. It is here. It is here.”

Lately, whenever I have a wish or desire, I ask myself:

When I get it or achieve it… then what?

In other words,

Will I be happy forever?
Will everything fall into place?
Will life be perfect then?

And the answer is always no, no, and no.

So, should I stop growing, stop stretching myself, stop evolving? Of course not. But what I could do is become more aware that life is happening here, now, before and after the to-do list. And with that, learn to lean into and appreciate life as. it. is., which will prevent me from putting life “on hold until…”

> What are you putting life on hold for? Is it a clean house? Or maybe money? Love? The perfect body or perfect job?

Think for a sec about what minor and major goals fill your to-do lists, and consider what you’re actually striving for… Is it just a clean house? Or is it the feeling of peace and calm that might bring? Is it just the money? Or is it the sense of freedom and accomplishment you think it would offer you? Is it just the perfect body? Or is it the self-confidence, the love and attention you think would come with it?

As you start to ask these questions, you might be surprised to notice that what you truly want comes only from within you. And that you have access to it today, in this moment, and always.

Tonight I invite you put away the goal setting, the to-do lists, and to simply turn inward. Use the short 10-minute meditation below to bring awareness to all that’s inside of you and to your beautiful life, the one that is happening here and now.

Instructions:

Light a few candles
Play this song

Sit or lay comfortably
Close your eyes

Notice your breath
And mentally repeat: “It is here. It is here. It is here.”

XO,
Jody

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A look into the dark

Think of one or two of your flaws, your weak spots.

And no, not the flaws or weak spots you’d offer up in an interview (i.e. “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m not very good with numbers). Not what I’m talking about here. Not flaws or weak spots that are endearing, cute or insignificant.

Think of the dark ones, the ugly, the truly unappealing. The ones that, after they’re exposed, make you want to curl up in the corner of the room.

Got em’?

These are what psychologist, Carl Jung, said make up the “shadow side” of our personality. It’s the side of us made up predominately of primitive, negative emotions and impulses like lust, greed, selfishness, envy, anger…

Or, as I hear it (and tell it), on phone calls with friends and clients, it’s:

being needy,
desperate

lazy,
anxious,
spiraling out of control

smothering my partner
or withdrawing completely

acting “crazy”
irrational
or “bitchy”

Like I said, not the stuff you’d offer up in an interview.

But it’s a part of you, no? It’s part of me, too.

Now, as a coach, it’s my job to encourage and facilitate change. To help you be the best version of you. But, there’s this truth that’s been following me around lately:

>> Being “better,” doing “better” isn’t all there is and isn’t always the pathway to the “best version of you” <<

What if overcoming our ugliness (aka “changing”) isn’t as important as accepting ourselves as we are, ugly parts and all?

What if it’s within our acceptance that transformation actually happens.

Although Jung referred to this shadow side as the “reservoir for human darkness” he also called it the “seat of creativity” or the “true spirit of life.” So perhaps it’s in getting to know our ugliness (vs. pushing it away), that we could discover something quite beautiful.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting we give up on growth, on change… no, no, no. We don’t get up in people’s faces screaming, “Well, this is me! Deal with it!” Nor do we focus so much on the shadow side that we sink into a negativity that feels out of control.

Really, my suggestion is just to press the “Pause” button for a moment. Pause the resolutions and goal-oriented thinking, and spend time this winter weekend getting to know a bit about your shadow side.

>> What parts of yourself do you so desperately try to hide and/or change?

>> What might be at the root of those emotions/impulses?

>> What behaviors do you use to cover up these feelings?

>> What do you fear might happen if you allow this to be a part of who you are?

>> What could this part of yourself be telling you? What could it be looking for?

>> How could you show yourself some compassion?

This week, my professor defined intimacy as:

“Receiving someone for who they are, with their virtues and imperfections. Allowing someone to be real with you.”

If we hope to receive others in this way (which I know I do) we have to first receive ourselves in this way.

So, for now, I’m going to toss out the idea of a “better” you and a “better” me and instead propose we get on the path to a more real you, a more real me; the beautiful, the ugly, and everything in between.

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from “chained” to “free”

What, if anything, do you feel chained to?
Another way to think about it is: what’s weighing you down?

Could be:

coffee
alcohol
sugar

Or, how about:

depression or fatigue
ocd or overeating
chronic pain or a chronic bad mood

Or even:

social media, and the obligatory feeling to be in touch with everyone, all. the. time.
a job you hate
a relationship with someone you don’t feel yourself with

Note: you could also feel chained to something that is, in essence, positive (i.e. “i have to go to yoga 5x/wk or else… ” or “i have to eat organic or else…”)

On a daily basis, anything you feel chained to (like you have to have it or do it) … is going to weigh you down, distract you, pull you away from recognizing your true, vibrant, free, nature.

Got your “chains” in mind?

Now, close your eyes and think “freedom.”

Close your eyes, breathe in, and think “freedom.” (go ahead, take a sec to do it)

What came to mind?

I hope, even for just a sec, you were able to tap into your personal power and sense that being free, feeling free is a choice you make.

And to get there? You’ve got to get to work (yes, it’ll take some work!) breaking whatever chains hold you down.

Start by following the four steps below. Each will immediately make you feel lighter and more empowered.

4 Steps to Freedom:
(to be repeated over and over, as necessary)

>> Freedom is, essentially, about becoming more and more of who you truly are, in your physical, emotional, and spiritual self, and being unafraid to live out that truth every day <<

1. Know what you want
For the next seven days, first thing in the morning, ask yourself, “What do I want?” Do this before you do anything else. Experts say that morning, the bit of time right after you wake up, is when you have the best access to your unconscious. It’s when you can most trust your “gut.” I’ve found that to be true. It’s when you’ll likely feel “off” if something in your life is off. Or when you’ll feel full and nourished if your life is full and nourishing. Asking this question consistently will help you to better know yourself.

2. Know your chains
Take fifteen minutes to write about what’s holding you down. Another way of thinking about it is “If I let go of _____ , I would feel so much better.” Or, “If I could stop doing _____, I’d feel so much more free.” Could be anything from binge eating to dating the “wrong man,” over and over again.

3. Decide on one chain you’d like to break this season
(i.e. “I’m going to stop over-booking myself and feeling like I need to stay in touch with so many people”)

4. Write your [specific] action plan
(i.e “To do this I’ll take 30 days off social media to redirect my energy on only my most significant, nourishing relationships”)

If at any step of the way you need to talk it through, take advantage of one of my private coaching packages this fall. Simply email me ([email protected]) and we’ll set up the details for your {free} 30 minute info session via phone or Skype.

Have a great weekend … wild + free!

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Cacao Butter Salve + Something We’ve Lost

What do you do when you get a headache? 
A toothache?

Where do you turn when you’ve got digestive issues? 
Or PMS?

What do you do if you feel tension in your neck?
Or if you’ve got a skin rash?

Tylenol? Advil? Google? Or do you just suck it up?

Nothing wrong with painkillers or toughing it out, but since those have become the most common defaults, I’ve started to wonder if we’ve lost something.

Clarissa Estes, in her bestselling book Women Who Run with the Wolves, says that a healthy woman “carries the bundles for healing; she carries everything a woman needs to be and know. She carries the medicine for all things.”

>> In other words, she’s suggesting that you and I were both born with the ability to heal ourselves of everything from a skinned knee to the flu and beyond. <<

So, if that’s the case, then what’s happened to this ability?

Well, it could be that we’ve simply set other priorities. We keep our schedules too full and our stress levels too high. We don’t have time or energy leftover to hone our instinctual skills. We’re bombarded by many external (and very influential) voices (advertisements, big business, pharmaceutical companies) which block out the internal voice that matters most.

Very recently I spent time with a group of women in Mexico. 

Their everyday conversation wasn’t about “things to do” or “places to be” but rather on embracing femininity, on the art of being female, and thus, in part, on cultivating this innate gift of healing.

What a beautiful thought, no?

Inspired by these conversations, I came home not with an overly idealized view of life in Mexico, not with a pompous attitude that I’d never need pills or doctors, and not with the intention of pointing fingers or feeding into the divide between women who are considered “health conscious” and those who are not… (there’s already plenty of that!)

But what I did come home with was more faith in myself and the strong desire to rediscover the ways our grandmothers and great grandmothers cared for, soothed, remedied – because no matter which way you look at, that is something it seems we’ve lost.

If that idea sounds empowering to you too, read on. Below is an invitation to start simple and a look at one of my first projects, a cacao butter salve.

Salves of all kinds have been used for generations as healing ointments for the skin – depending on the ingredients, your homemade salve can help rid you of dry skin, itchy skin, acne, rashes, burns, and muscle aches.

Try the basic salve below and then start to experiment with other herbs and oils.

Cacao Butter Salve

1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C coco oil
2-3 TBSP beeswax (I use a grater)
2-3 TBSP cacao butter (again, a grater is helpful)
15-20 drops lavender oil (I get mine here)
15-20 drops tea tree oil

Use a double boiler (or a pan over a boiling pot of water) to melt the first four ingredients together.

To test the consistency, dip the end of a spoon in the mixture. You should noticed that it hardens quickly – if not, add more beeswax and test again.

When you’ve got it to a consistency you like, pour into a small mason jar or other glass container. Allow it to cool a bit before adding 10-15 drops of each essential oil. Cover and allow it to sit out while it hardens, or refrigerate to speed up the process.

Soon enough you’ll find yourself using this cacao butter salve for anything and everything from cracked lips to full body moisturizer (p.s. it obviously makes a great gift too!)

Have fun with it and give me your feedback in the comments below!

Also let me know – do you think as women we have an innate ability to heal? If so, do you think modern day stressors have severed this ability? Is it something you feel inspired to rediscover?

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  • Praise

    Nancy A.

    "Jody has been an inspirational force in my life. Not only do I eat better, but I'm able to handle difficult areas of my life with honesty and understanding"
    2013-09-15T00:45:15+00:00
    "Jody has been an inspirational force in my life. Not only do I eat better, but I'm able to handle difficult areas of my life with honesty and understanding"

    Heather B.

    "Jody has shown me eating healthy is not a chore."
    2013-09-15T00:45:36+00:00
    "Jody has shown me eating healthy is not a chore."

    Audrey H.

    "Working with Jody not only improved my eating habits, but also created more awareness around the nourishment of my mind, body, and spirit!"
    2013-09-15T00:45:56+00:00
    "Working with Jody not only improved my eating habits, but also created more awareness around the nourishment of my mind, body, and spirit!"

    Angela S.

    "Jody has a natural glow and positive energy about her. Working with Jody has inspired me to find the things in my life that will make me glow and thrive!"
    2013-09-15T00:46:14+00:00
    "Jody has a natural glow and positive energy about her. Working with Jody has inspired me to find the things in my life that will make me glow and thrive!"

    Emily S.

    "Working with Jody has helped me take control of my health which has opened doors that used to seem impossible."
    2013-09-15T00:46:31+00:00
    "Working with Jody has helped me take control of my health which has opened doors that used to seem impossible."
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