Lead Your Life

Awake, Aligned, and Grounded In Truth

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

 

 

 

 

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The journey home September 8, 2017

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meditate

It is part of our human experience to lose our center; sometimes just a small step out of line & other times long, slow fades away from our truth.

From a place of curiosity, scan just today.  Can you see moments of light, dark, loss of presence, grasping, illusion?

Now breathe.  Breathe out your judgement of it, breathe out calling it good or bad, and breathe out your mind’s desire to want this to reinforce your story.

Now connect.  Follow your breath up and down the center of your body.  Follow your breath to the nucleus of your heart.  Give yourself permission to feel exactly as you feel and forgive yourself for the habit of self-judgement.  Be strong enough to treat yourself gently & with kindness.

Now decide.  In this moment, who am I?  For me?  For others?  For the world?

And be that, be you fully, just be.  It is from this space that we create positive change and live a life in love and light.

The beautiful thing about being human is we can gently take hold of opportunity even if we squandered it in the last moment.  We can teach ourselves to reside in a place of joy and participate fully in a world that is sometimes dark, sometimes overwhelming, and sometimes not what we visioned.

Each of us possess passions, places we are called to make a difference, take a stand, and set an example.  Imagine if we all took a breath, honored our truth, believed in ourselves, and then got busy manifesting our passion.   Choose Well!

Namaste.

 

What is the sweet spot? June 26, 2017

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middle path

One of the basic tenets of Buddhism is the idea of walking the middle path in our life. Life is not entirely this or that, all action and no rest, total elation without sadness.  Wholehearted living calls us to find the sweet spot of harmony; the ebb and flow of the middle path.

The same is true as we think about allowing our life to unfold and take shape.  A life without   intention dilutes our impact; our days a whim or hope.  A life without dreaming and space is an over-engineered structure too heavy and complex for freedom and flexibility to survive.

Can we find the sweet spot; both allowing and willing, creating and surrendering, leading and following, architecting & dreaming?

When you find your mind planning, strategizing, and structuring the future, remind yourself to embrace flow and grace & to be totally present in this moment.  That’s where the magic lives, yes?  It is right now that we create, cultivate, and celebrate.   In this moment, take a deep breath and let that breath go.  As we slow our breath, we slow our experience of time.

Take a moment and consider where you are living at the outer edge of your continuum; creating an imbalance.  Shift towards the middle path, & sink into the sweet spot of both creating and being created.

 

6.93 Billion People World Wide & Not One Single Duplicate June 22, 2011

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Does this absolutely blow you away?  You are the only person on the globe with your exact gifts, skills, & chemistry.  No duplicates.  Which, to me, brings big responsibility to give, work, and live in a way that shares your gifts.  Preferably in a way that brings value and goodness to the world.  Because if you don’t, no one else can.  At least not in the way you can.  Because there is no duplicate of you.

I love this poem by Leza Lowitz called “Waiting.”  I hope you enjoy it.  It’s an amazing open door for anyone embraces its wisdom.  Here it goes….

“You keep waiting for something to happen, the thing that lifts you out of yourself, catapults you into doing all the things you’ve put off – the great things you’re meant to do in your life, but somehow never quite get to. 

You keep waiting for the planets to shift – the new moon to bring news, the universe to align, something to give. Meanwhile, the piles of papers, the laundry, the dishes, the job— it all stacks up while you keep hoping for some miracle to blast down upon you, scattering the piles to the winds.

Sometimes you lie in bed, terrified of your life. Sometimes you laugh at the privilege of waking. But all the while, life goes on it its messy way. And then you turn forty. Or fifty. Or sixty… and some part of you realizes you are not alone and you find signs of this in the animal kingdom –

when a snake sheds its skin its eyes glaze over, it slinks under a rock, not wanting to be touched, and when caterpillar turns to butterfly if the pupa is brushed, it will die— and when the bird taps its beak hungrily against the egg It’s because the thing is too small, too small, and it needs to break out.

And midlife walks you into that wisdom that this is what transformation looks like— the mess of it, the tapping at the walls of your life, the yearning and writhing and pushing, until one day, one day you emerge from the wreck embracing both the immense dawn and the dusk of the body, glistening, beautiful just as you are.”

 

Possibility – Do you Dwell In Yours? May 18, 2011

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Emily Dickenson said, “Dwell in Possibility.”  Just reading it creates expansion & oxygen.  Space for birth, growth, & newness.  The word possibility is powerful.  Within it, lives hope, courage, action, change, intention, mystery, excitement, creation, and dreaming. 

Each of us are, at our core, a possibility.  In other words, our souls are pure possibility by design.  We are called to bring something unique to the world.  And this unique offering is something that only we can bring because we are our very own blueprint.  No two the same.  Different by design. 

And yet, we have a choice each day to live life in alignment or out of alignment with our possibility.  It is as simple as that, and there isn’t a single external condition that makes it more complex.  That is simply how we choose to think about it.  In fact, external conditions become the great excuse as to why we are out of alignment & living smaller than our true possibility.  They are justifications & rationalizations that allow us to gently sleep through life.  

We have the opportunity to drench every moment – starting with this exact moment – in the possibility of ourselves, which is the  cornerstone of the possibility of our life.  They are one  in the   same.  Our gifts are only valuable to the  extent that we  share them.   

It isn’t necessarily about the grandeur of our achievements in this life as it is about the impact we made.  Did we make a difference or did we simply collect accolades & “stuff?”   

Throughout our lives, we often find ourselves at a cross-road; bumping against blocks we create & self impose. In the short-term, these blocks are fantastic motivators of change because they involve discomfort.  But over time, we grow numb to them & they literally extinguish possibility.  They create impossibility, & we unwittingly opt out of greatness.  Not making a decision is making a decision.  We make a choice every moment:  opting INTO something and OUT of something else.   Vow to choose possibility.