It takes work to foster connection with people, and that often means taking care of myself so I’m better enabled to relate to those around me. I often share the intentions of my heart for the people around me, including the wonderful community I’ve found online.

The Significance of the Insignificant

One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned on my yoga mat is that there is great significance in the insignificant. Amazing changes can happen in my body with the smallest, subtlest changes. Simple acts like keeping a golf ball under my desk to roll my foot over, brushing my teeth with my left hand, or just doing one yoga pose, all add up to significant changes in my body.

We see the same thing with our diet. Something as “simple” as drinking one soda a day can have a profound impact on the body. But, so can eliminating one soda a day. These insignificant choices can literally improve or destroy our lives.

We pay a lot of attention to major life decisions – changing jobs, buying a house, starting a family. But, we mindlessly make choices everyday that shape our bodies, lives and even our relationships.

It may seem insignificant to look at my phone while I’m eating dinner with my friends, but it sends a telling message. When I simply stop the household task I’m doing to look into the eyes of the family member talking to me, our communication improves tenfold.

It really is the little things that matter. So, I’m choosing to be intentional about the insignificant.

What little changes have you made that have profoundly impacted your life and your relationships? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Tough Grace

 

I like to think I’m pretty good at extending grace. I didn’t get mad when I found a 15-month-old AE playing with toilet paper; I laughed. I rarely get frustrated or angered when others are late to an appointment. It’s pretty easy for me to forgive and forget when someone “puts their foot in their mouth” and says something offensive. And, I completely understand when friends don’t respond to emails, phone calls or text messages.

I was feeling pretty good about all the things I so easily forgive when I settled in for Viparita Karani (legs-up-the-wall pose) a few months ago. As I was practicing the inversion, my opinion of my grace-extension abilities turned upside down right along with my body.

I became aware of the fact that these are all pretty minor mistakes (most of which I regularly commit myself). They aren’t significant wrongs, they are minor infractions, and easily of forgiven.

When I really feel wronged, when it really hurts, when someone infringes on my sense of entitlement; it is so much harder to let go and extend grace. But, the list of big mistakes I have made is long. I am entitled to nothing and yet abundantly blessed. And, I swim in an ocean of grace.

So, I am working to extend grace, especially when it’s tough, out of the abundance of grace that I have received.

Have you ever realized you aren’t as forgiving as you thought you were? What do you do to extend tough grace?

A Choice of Thought

One day last year, after a rough week, I was ready for some pampering. So, I dropped into a neighborhood nail salon for a simple manicure.

After scouring through the endless nail polish options, I picked OPI Salmon Sand (you can see it here). It is a light neutral shade.

After her unsuccessful attempts to sell me a pedicure or spa treatment, the nail technician took one look at the color I chose and said “Not good for you, this is a color for younger ladies – better for someone in her twenties or early thirties.”

OUCH! “I AM in my early thirties;” I wanted to shout! But, I am a people pleaser so I just followed her to the nail polish and watched as she picked out a color more suitable for a woman of my, ahem, maturity.

Upon leaving, I shared the story with my mom and husband, pledging to never return to that salon. I should have also pledged to never return to that conversation. Instead, I allowed her harsh words to echo over and over in my mind for days.

Before long, my thoughts were on a runaway train headed for disaster. “Do I really look much older than I am?” “Wonder what kind of wrinkle cream I should buy?” “Maybe I should research yoga poses for better skin.”

Thankfully, one thought hit me like a ton of bricks as it pulled that train to a screeching halt. “Why am I choosing to let this one person’s rather harsh words linger so long in my brain? I have a choice here – I can choose to think about something else!” So that I did!

So often I act like a victim to my thoughts. But that is a lie. The truth is – I have a choice of thought. If a thought isn’t helpful or productive, I can choose another one.

When my mind becomes a runaway train, I’m going to stop and choose my thoughts wisely!

Do you every feel like you’re stuck on a runaway train with your thoughts? How do you apply the brakes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

People-Pleaser Syndrome

 “Becoming obsessed about what others think about you is the fastest way to forget what God thinks about you.”

 ~ Craig Groeschel

“You bet.”

“I’d be happy to.”

“No problem!”

If you had a transcript of my day, these phrases would appear frequently. I am a people-pleaser.

For example, I was recently at a large store (I won’t name names but everyone who works there wears a red shirt). As the cashier was scanning my purchases, she couldn’t locate the barcode on one of my items.

So, the kind lady turns to me and asks, “Can you please run and get another one? The tag I need is missing from this one.”

Everything in me wanted to firmly reply, “Please call for the price, or take my word that it’s $2.99.” Instead, I trudged back through the store (toddler in tow) to get a new one.

This is a small, albeit annoying, example. But, my people pleasing syndrome really gets me into trouble when I perceive a friend or loved one is upset with me. I am far from a perfect person, and I know I let people down. I’m not afraid to apologize and seek forgiveness.

Sometimes it’s not that simple. Maybe they’re upset about something that I’m not sorry for (how I parent, a belief I have, a stand I’ve taken, etc.). Or, maybe I am sorry, but they are not ready or able to extend grace and forgive my mistakes.

Sadly, my people-pleasing nature often causes me to compromise my values or stew over my inability to change another person’s heart or mind. And, when I’m people-pleasing, I am trying to control what someone else thinks of me. I can’t think of a bigger waste of time and energy.

So, when I face a flare-up of this unfortunate syndrome, I’m going to meditate on truth – the truth that God loves me for me, that He has covered me in grace and blessed me with family and friends who do the same.

Do you suffer from the people-pleaser syndrome? How do you treat it? I’d love to hear!

Thought Weeding

There’s a big announcement coming next month here at Every Breath I Take. I’m embarking on a new venture – one I hope will enrich your yoga practice and your life. I’ve been quietly working on this project for months, and I can hardly wait to tell you all about it!

But, a funny thing has happened now that I’m on the precipice of making my big announcement. As I have been working hard on this project, part of me has been quietly planting seeds of doubt. Now, the seeds have sprouted and weeds are growing everywhere in my mind!

“What if it’s a flop?”

“What if nobody cares?”

“What if I can’t do it?”

“What if they hate it?”

“What if they hate me?”

If not tended to, these weeds of doubt can overtake the garden of our minds. And, when our minds are overgrown with weeds, it’s really hard for things like love, kindness, courage and relationship to grow.

So, as I countdown to the big launch, I’m weeding. I’m yanking those thoughts right out. And I’m watering, feeding and nurturing the beautiful plants of excitement, anticipation, joy and trust.

What weeds are growing in your mind today? How are they inhibiting you? What can you do today to nurture the plants that grow the flowers of relationship?

Lessons from a Hot Pan

Last year, I wanted my beloved husband to feel just that on Valentine’s Day. So, I took to the kitchen. I made cupcakes, whipped sweet potatoes, green beans and steakhouse steaks.

I was doing well, channeling my inner Barefoot Contessa. Then I carelessly grabbed the handle of a pan that had been in the oven with my bare hand. I knew immediately that it was a pretty bad burn. I ran my hand under cold water and put ice and burn gel on it right away.

But, as I lay in bed that night, I couldn’t relax for sleep at all. The burn was just throbbing. I tossed and turned, trying various positions for my hand and arm to relieve the pain, but nothing worked.

So, I allowed myself to really feel the pain. I used words to describe it. I gave it my full, undivided attention. I wasn’t thinking about what it would feel like tomorrow or the next day. I wasn’t thinking about how it happened or what the burn may look like in a day, week or year. I was just fully and completely aware of the pain I was experiencing in that moment.

Suddenly, I noticed that another sensation overtaking my body – exhaustion. Shortly thereafter, I was sound asleep.

So often, I find myself doing everything I can to avoid feeling the pain of life and relationship. Maybe I overanalyze the source of the pain. Sometimes, I hopelessly try to hurry the pain along by attempting to time travel with a slew of “what if” thoughts. Sometimes, I just try to numb out all together. Very rarely do I simply soak in the pain.

But, I’m beginning to learn that allowing myself to really feel the pain is the first step towards healing and moving on.

Do you relate? I’d love to hear!

Sweet Surrender

I’ve already established that I love and still routinely watch reruns of the television show Friends. But, I have thus far neglected to mention that I share Monica Geller’s competitive streak. (If you need a refresher, here it is at its finest. By the way, AE’s hair responds to humidity the same way as Monica’s!)

My “winners and losers” mindset builds a lot more fences than it does bridges. I spend a great deal of physical and emotional energy resisting. When I devote all of my resources to defending my ideas, wishes and beliefs, I often find myself isolated and alone.

The only way to change this habit is to practice the art of surrender, to learn the power in yielding. I expected it to be painful, to feel like losing. But, I’ve found quite the opposite to be true.

When I soften, when I let go, relationships deepen and thrive. When I relinquish my need to be right, I discover new truth. The act of surrendering has built bridges to people and places that have greatly enhanced my life.

I haven’t mastered the art of surrender, but I have tasted the sweetness of it. So, I’m committed to quieting my inner Monica and embracing the power of surrender.

Have you tasted the sweetness of surrender? What have you gained from yielding and letting go? I’d love to hear!

* Image found here.

What Are You Committed To?

It’s mid-January! How are you doing with your resolutions and goals for 2012? I’m trying hard to remember that every breath is an opportunity to change. Yet somehow, that awareness does not always translate into action.

And, I’ve come up with a good excuse for my inaction – there are only 24 hours in the day. I can’t possibly do everything I want and need to do.

But, every time I say “I do not have enough time,” I am really saying, “I am not making time.” It’s sobering to realize we all have the same 24 hours in each day. I’m don’t have any less time than you.

How I fill my 24 hours is a reflection of what I’m committed to. As I reflect upon the early days of January, I see some faith, family, health and professional commitments. But, I also see that I’m pretty committed to my favorite television shows and websites.

When I’m tempted to say I don’t have enough time, I’m going to stop and ask myself, “What am I committed to?” I’m hoping that will help me wisely use my 24 hours.

Do you ever feel got shortchanged in the hours in the day paycheck? I’d love to hear how you keep focused on your priorities!

A Decade of Love

This is a little late. (There has been sickness. There is has been exhaustion – AE is still not sleeping!) But, I’m so excited about this milestone.

Last week, Derek and I celebrated TEN years of marriage! Happy Anniversary, Honey!

As I reflect back, I’m so grateful for all the Kodak moments. When I see the funny-face and thumbs-up bonanza that is ten years of pictures, I just crack up. We have had oh so many wonderful belly laughs.

I’m also thankful for something about the moments where no pictures were taken. We have endured the depths of sadness. We have let go of dreams. But, we have never let pain drive a wedge between us. Instead, we have faced it, arm in arm, together.

Sure, we have had disagreements. But, at least once a week Derek asks me a question that demonstrates his respect and love. (You’re going to be blown away by how romantic it is!)

“Do you have a few minutes to brainstorm something with me?” (I don’t know why it hasn’t been used in a hit romantic comedy yet?!)

Seriously though, he doesn’t just ask the question. He listens to my thoughts. He incorporates my ideas. He thanks me for my input. That one question shows me that he values me. I can’t think of anything more romantic!

Here’s to many more decades together!

The Slippery Slope of New Year’s Resolutions

While I don’t believe that January 1st is the only day of the year we can embrace life change, there is something so hopeful about the start of a new year. So, last year I joined many other people and set some New Year’s Resolutions. One of which, was to try and keep my cool, even when the world around me is hot.

Well, we weren’t even a few hours into the new year when a terrible head cold descended upon every member of my house (i.e., the world around me was warming up). I did a pretty good job of keeping my cool for the first 12 or so hours of the illness.

When my daughter, probably due to head congestion, was fighting every attempt at bedtime I initiated, conditions in my house went from warm to hot – and sadly, so did I. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just there was a temper tantrum, and not on the part of my daughter.

So, did I give up on my New Year’s Resolution to keep my cool? Nope! I kept working on it all year! And, I’m still planning to work on it again this year!

Every breath I take provides a fresh opportunity to make change in my life. There will be failures and setbacks, but I won’t be defeated!

Are you going to join me in seizing every moment as an opportunity to improve? What resolutions are you committed to – no matter how many setbacks you face?