Lead Your Life

Awake, Aligned, and Grounded In Truth

Soften Beyond The Bone April 24, 2018

bone and water

Think of your body for a moment.  Your structural integrity is in the magnificent geometry of your bones.  Your bones give you stability & strength.  They hold us firm when the wind blows, and allow us to announce ourselves as upright, powerful beings of action in the world.  When compared to the rest of our physical being, however, they are rather stagnant, dense, and rigid in form.

It is the rest of us that creates fluidity, expansion, contraction, bending, rolling, and softness.  It is in the rest of us that we adapt, shift, and flow.

Now consider your energy.   For most of us, we’d love our energy to be less bone and more water (65% of the human body on average is water).  Adaptable yet powerful; intuitive yet purposeful.

Perhaps as a “perk” of living in the modern world, our energy can often feel hectic, depleted, fragmented, and chaotic.  Consider that as quickly as your thoughts change, as does your state of being.

And then we remember.  Re * Member that we are more than our thoughts, and that our thoughts are choice.   And thus, when we “feel” sub-optimal, we can use practices and rituals to smooth our energy & tap into the rivers and channels of our whole Self to restore flow.

Because we are glorious humans who are well trained in academia and poorly trained in self optimization, most of us are victim to our thoughts and thus, feel stressed, fatigued, and overwhelmed more than we might like.

Can you use your stress as a barometer versus a reaction?  When you feel it, pause.  What wisdom do you need to re*member?  Can you feel into the soft tissue of your body, sense your breath, and lean into space versus density?  When we do this, we sense our entire being;  body, spirit, and mind,  rhythmically harmonizing together.

In this state, we walk lightly through the world –  still creating results and enjoying pursuits, competing in sports, going after big opportunities, & taking risks  – but always coming back to a state of fullness and bliss.

Bliss doesn’t have to wait until all the checks are complete on the to-do.  We can learn to bring fluidity and grace to all moments.  With Patience.  With Practice.  With Belief.

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After the final NO comes a YES April 17, 2018

So many of us talk in the language of constraint; feeling confined to the outcomes of decisions made in a more guarded heart, fearful mind, and less awake spirit.  We arrive at 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years old, and we contemplate, “what’s possible given my reality?”  And then we stall because this question is like dragging all of our baggage, story, and past decisions into a field, stacking them upon one another, and then trying to see the meadow of possibility on the other side.

Our reality is a compilation of who we were in our yesterdays.  And yes – bricks and mortar, commitments, pets, and debt are real parts of this moment and cannot be simply dissolved to create space for path forward.  But could we ask this question:  What’s possible given my passion and capability?  If this answer differs from the above, please discontinue beating yourself up for stalling and instead compassionately soften to yourself and say; “I see you and I am with you as we align with what’s coming versus what has been.”

While grateful for the beauty of our lives, we might find ourselves in a chapter where what we’ve created feels like a shoe too small or a sweater too itchy.  Within us is the calling of our spirit; it is our life’s longing, a desire to impact our world.

We cannot change that clarity around or magnetic drawing to happened AFTER we made all these sticky, hard to untangle life choices, and thus, there is no reason to berate.  We are where we are now.

Be still and sit in inquiry:  What is the calling of my spirit?   Whatever it is, clear or not, trust it.  It is a seed in some stage of germination that wants our attention, nurturing hand, and invitation to emerge.

This “calling” is your truth.  Resist the urge to judge it against someone else’ or think it should be grander than it appears.  It may be a world stage or the privacy of your kitchen.  Allow it to emerge:  Listen deeply to it.

What is your impact?  What is your great work?

Build, sew, write, create, lead, cook, calculate, speak, invent, protect, teach, heal, fix, gather. Whatever it is, embrace it fully as this is how we embrace ourselves fully.  The glory isn’t in the outcome of what you do, it is in doing what brings you alive.

“And after the final no comes a lasting yes.”  

 

What is 40% of 70,000? April 11, 2018

70,000 * 40% = The majority of your waking hours

  • 70,000 thoughts a day (average human being)
  • 40%: conscious time spent in habitual behavior / thought.

Math Wizards:  Assuming we spend 1 second / thought, how much time daily do we spend playing the tapes of habitual thoughts?

Kudos!  A gold star for anyone who concluded ALMOST 10 HOURS.

Bonus Question:  If you sleep 8 hours, what % of our waking hours are spent living in the past (which is the birthing center of habit)?  That’s right – 62.5%

What I’ve grappled with, tried to defy, and earnestly studied is STOPPING THE MIND.  And I’m here to report, sadly, that for the typical human being, this is not possible.  Slowing the mind?  Creating space between thoughts?  Tapping into quietness of mind?  With much disciplined practice.  Stopping the mind?  This defies the higher order purpose of our brain.

Now, back to the power of the habit or samsara.  Samasara is the subconscious adhesion to repetition of cycles.  Often we consider habits to be negative; however, we all have habits that serve us well  (ie:  brushing our teeth).

And thank goodness for habits!  Otherwise, every moment would be a decision between a mountain of choices.  Should I brush my teeth with my rotary brush or my manual?  Maybe I should use my finger?  I wonder if I should use wintergreen or cinnamon?  Flouride or no flouride?  Warm water or cool?  Should I rinse before or after I brush?  90 seconds or 2 minutes?  Holy Tax The Brain Moly.

If our mind is going to think and we are naturally bent towards habit, what if we could shift our habit?  Instead of investing time and energy on the impossible, perhaps we could simply redeploy that energy to creating space in our minds, replacing negative internal chatter with positive, & use an intention of love and light as our focus.

What if you replaced the tape “I’m not smart enough” with “I am uniquely capable of living the life I envision for myself,”  or “I’m stressed because there aren’t enough hours in the day” with “I am committed to using my time and thus my life in the most purposeful way.”  What if we replaced numbering our neurosis with counting our blessings and listing our grievances with celebrating both the dark and the light?

Far fetched?  It doesn’t sound as ridiculous as allowing our thoughts to overrun our life and how we see ourselves without intervention.  We are willing to spend time on instagram and ruminations of the past – why not assume it natural to spend time on letting go of stories that limit our joy?

Imagine if you could use those ten hours positively & impactfully.  What would shift in your life?

 

 

International Women’s Day March 21, 2018

Recently on International Women’s Day, I posted this entry on Facebook.  It was more of a musing than cared for writing, but a number of people reached out to me afterwards to share their “spark” and continue the conversation.  Thus, I’m sharing broadly as, while my words, this is a collective state of being ready for manifestation.  Go Forth And Start The Dialog!

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Happy International Women’s Day!

Beautiful female friends… This year has cracked open a long closed door. We may stand in front of that door marveling, celebrating, and talking about the breakthrough. And we should!

And, we must – with the grace, compassion, and strength that is inherent in us – step through the door to participate in lasting change. I sense that the door will remain ajar for some time but not forever. It is a time for forward movement & action; not talk and imagining. May we be teachers of strength through compassion, leadership through courage, and sustainable progress through our voice.

The door has been cracked because of women’s courage. May we engage in a collective pivot because of ours.

#pressforprogress

 

women's day

 

You look like you’re here, but are you? March 13, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 3:09 pm
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Recently, a fabulous yoga instructor at Pure Yoga in Asheville encouraged us to feel what we are feeling & notice the emotion. Sometimes our emotions have been dragged from the past & sometimes lassoed from the future. The question is; Are we experiencing fully & thus feeling deeply the present moment?

That morning as she guided us to witness, I found I had lugged frustration to my mat from the past. Through this inquiry, I was able to realize that there was absolutely nothing frustrating about the present moment which consisted of sitting quietly with my breath listening to the wisdom of a teacher I respect.

In the present moment of that class, all was well. I believe if we truly took stock of our emotions, we might find this to be true more often than not. That, in the present moment, all is well & the discomfort we are experiencing is either dated or foreshadowed. And sometimes, the discomfort is truly related to the present moment. Part of living well is giving ourselves permission to feel our lives deeply and honestly.

And… Can we discern between the NOW and what was or what’s coming so that we stay awake to what is?

 

be all there

 

Our Purpose Path February 20, 2018

**Article originally published by WNC Women February 2018**

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I hesitate to say I’ve learned anything completely as mastery is elusive.  Time shifts understanding and advances possibility.  And thus, what I can say is I am on the path to learn a better way.  A better way to make an impact, live fully, care for myself, and love unabashedly.

In my life, I have overemphasized the importance of work.  I’m quite skilled at this imbalance and have prescribed to the “first in, last out” attendance policy, gone the extra mile(s) always, and sacrificed health and personal relationships as the price of progress.

It sounds horrid, I know.  However, it looks quite lovely.  I am happily married with two beautiful teenagers I adore and who for the most part, adore me.  I own two businesses currently of wildly different missions; a building materials manufacturing company and Pure Yoga in downtown Asheville.  In my career, I have worked in corporate consulting, sold and bought businesses, turned personal passions into entrepreneurial enterprises, and logged a lot of frequent flyer miles and hours.

I say all of this from a place of humility as the way in which I have blazed this path is pocked with scars from using more force than grace.  While I’ve studiously managed my calendar to ensure presence with my family, this lifestyle has cooled friendships, waylaid adventure, and demised wellness.

Is a better way possible?  Must it mean giving up something in order to create a new? How differently might the world look standing on top of the wheel versus running at full sprint on the wheel?  We each have these questions to answer.  For me, I am learning to soften, to lean into experience as a sister companion to achievement.

11 years ago, I had a significant health crisis.  The year was 2006.  I was in the middle of an acquisition, my children were 2 and 4, and I was slowly, blindly running out of fuel.  I was strategically limiting my sleep so as to advance my work and be present for my kids, and eventually, my body began to fail.  It’s sneaky way of calling a time-out, no doubt as my hair began to fall out, my speech shattered, and my muscles atrophied.  I ached from head to toe, and I would drive places not knowing how I got there.

How can this even be?  I’m a long distance runner, avid hiker, golfer, lover of life.  I’m optimistic, genuinely happy, and surrounded by love.  I eat well, moderated everything that should be moderated, and yet, there I was in a slow fade.

My doctor’s comment to me?  “Your lifestyle looks great on paper.  And yet, if you don’t make a change, I’ll meet you in the hospital within 6 weeks.”   For someone who had always been in control of self and result, this was a shocking prognosis.  If I hadn’t been so overwhelmingly exhausted, I might have been petrified.

This type of depletion does not happen overnight.  In fact, there had been signs carefully ignored for 2 years leading up to it; symptoms, test results, subtle nudges from family.  All indicators that I believed mind over matter could eradicate.  For goodness sake, I didn’t have time to be sick.  I had two children, a husband, a dog that kept running away, and a business to lead.

And so, I finally got serious about the true roots of wellness. Here’s a secret I learned: they are deeper than our society wants us to believe.  We are told to eat well and exercise (no doubt because these two factors have immediate impact on appearance).  We are not taught that mindfulness is nourishment for our soul & deep sleep for our bodies.  We are not taught that our breath is a gateway to radiance.

We are taught to balance the plates in the air & by all means, look good doing it. As an achievement junkie, I had mastered that skill set.  I believe this is a skill set many women master.  You, my dear reader friend, can most likely relate. Your story reads differently and yet it is the same with altered characters and settings.

The next several years were an exercise of healing.  My eternal love affair with yoga started with a single mat practice led by an uncertified teacher in a country club dining room.  I eventually made my way to a meditation cushion, and while this practice still requires strong “self-nudges,” I am grateful for the way it rehabilitates every day regardless of what’s happening in my life.  I stopped distance running, slept more, and began eating to nourish and nurture versus control my weight.  And yes, I took 2 weeks off from work.  And while that may not sound like much, for me, it was a feat as that’s as much time as I took following the birth of both of my children.  (Sigh.)

I discovered gratitude as a practice versus emotion, and I expanded my net of connection by opening my heart and investing my time with friends I cherish.

It took 3 years for my markers to return to “low normal;” a daily reminder to me that these sacred vessels we are given to explore our life are to be treated with care and intention.

Today, my life may not look that differently than it did prior to 2006.  I still own and lead my manufacturing company, I have created two yoga studios; selling the first when my family moved to Asheville last year, and investing my heart and passion into the second.  I have paused one of my passions turned entrepreneurial enterprises to support wholehearted living versus whole-minded working, and my children are now teenagers.  They are my wisdom holders; allowing me to see every day what it looks like to play in life, to relish in being, and to come back to the middle path.  They also gently remind me when work absorbs me; while simultaneously accepting me as I am.

I’m wired to work.  Work has always been a strange word to me with its reference to unwanted but mandatory effort.  For me, it has always felt like impact, and for that, I am happy.

In my career, I have talked to hundreds of people; mostly women, about their life’s path and struggle.  I hear universal threads that link us all.  A desire for connection, a deep wanting for joy and fulfillment, and a question around how we are called to live meaningfully.  To live a life that lives beyond our lifetime.

My answer?  Trust yourself.  Slow down and listen.  Move your body in ways that heal your body and spirit.  Receive food as self-care.  Know that you know.  Confide in your sister friends.  Pursue impact.  Meaningful work happens because we clarify our purpose path, we courageously eliminate distractions, and then we get busy bringing it to life.  That’s the better way.

 

maze

 

 

 

 

 

Off the wagon February 9, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 7:06 pm
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Greetings!  I am dusting myself off from the clumsy fall from the wagon as I write.  It is February 9th, and the resolution wagon has hit the unexpected potholes of distraction and boredom.  In hindsight, with 46 years of life experience, perhaps surprise shouldn’t be my response.

What I intended to do at the beginning of extraordinary 2018?

  • Meditate twice daily for 20 minutes
  • Stop eating corn chips (aided by my new found meditative presence)
  • Complete my eating before 8PM (aided by my elimination of my dietary weakness: crunchy salty)
  • Sleep 8 hours a night (aided by a well-oiled digestive system)
  • Practice non-reaction (aided by rest)
  • Dance every day for any amount of time (aided by my total lack of concern of what anyone will think if they witness it).

What is actually happening?

I’m meditating once a day treating it like it’s a drugstore multi-vitamin I have to remember to choke down; performance I’m certain is directly related to #4: Non – reaction.  If this morning’s “discussion” with my husband about who has dog duty is any indication of how that’s going, I’m going to have to give myself a strong D-.  I am sleeping 8 hours a night meaning I’m under the sheets for that amount of time albeit less restfully than I envisioned, and I am doing a jig of sorts daily (mostly by myself as you cannot believe how difficult it is to get others to break out into spontaneous dance).  And the corn chips…  Hmmmm.  I can truthfully say I have not had a corn chip before 7PM a single time (which should give you immediate insight on my no eating after 8PM).

On a scale of 1 – 10 on self-discipline and willpower, I am a solid 9.8.  Decide? Check.  Do the Thing?  Done Yesterday.

So what gives?  As part of the self-audit royal family, my assessment is multi-pronged.  I’m happy to share my audit results using myself as an example of what I believe is likely familiar to all of us.

  1. What’s My Why?  The greatest predictor of future success is clarity around why it matters and the ignition of passion around that WHY. While I have a WHY for all, I can only classify a couple as having a strong why meaning my WHY is greater in meaning and emotion than my WHY NOT.   If you cave on corn chips simply because they are delicious, it’s hard to argue that you lack a strong why.
  2. What’s My Plan?  I am in love with spreadsheets and project management (I know, TMI).  And….  I had no concrete plan for at least two of the above.
  3. What’s My Exit Strategy?  Even the most conditioned mind frays from time to time.  An exit strategy is a game plan premeditated for use when we are staring enticement or challenge in the eye.  Take corn chips.  First error?  Having them in the house.  Second error?  Not having an acceptable backup to handle cravings and/or a “stave off the craving” pep talk cued up on my pantry door, iPhone, palm.  Even I can see through my excuse:  “I’m buying them for my kids even though they would choose ANYTHING else as a snack.”
  4. What’s my joy?  Can I deeply connect with the benefit of my resolution in action and can I dwell in the joy of the process of creating that habit?  Easy to do this when you are dancing, but it takes deep digging to do this when practicing non-reaction.
  5. Is it a SHOULD DO versus a ritual of goodness?  Based on statistics, Webster should change the definition of RESOLUTION to mean:  Destined to fail within 39 days.  Just ask any yoga studio owner.  Can we drop this language and instead see our commitments as rituals that we are grooving into our life to feel cared for by ourselves and to live our dream?
  6. What’s the sweet spot?  The 6 resolutions above are really a subset of my full list (which is 10 but I know you don’t have the patience to read all 10 because you aren’t meditating either).  This is a chronic mistake I make:  Biting off more than I can chew.  The resolution I feel most passionately about is non-reaction.  It is also the one that has the greatest potential to impact the quality of my life, and it is a beast on its own.  Could just one ritual at a time be perfectly enough?

What are your reasons for dusting yourself off?