How to Get Back Up

Something bit me.  A spider.  A tick.  An alien.  I really don't know - I didn't see it.  Something bit me and it made me weak.  It brought me to my knees when I felt healthy and strong.  It gave me two weeks of pain & illness and it left me with a weakened immune system and a misfiring nervous system.  Impressive, hey?

Thankfully, I'm very much on the mend (thanks to a melding of mother nature, eastern and western medicine, and an amazing support system), but this event left me a little shook - and here's why.

For most of my teenage years (re: undiagnosed depression) and the beginning of my transition to motherhood (re: postpartum depression), I used to live in a perpetual victim mindset.  Not so much in the sense that I wanted people to pity me - but more that I didn't want or know how to change my circumstances.  In the recent year or so, since defeating postpartum depression, rebuilding my health, and reviving my sense of self, I have honestly felt like nothing could bring me back to that kind of mindset again.  But hot damn, combine the bug bite symptoms with hospital visits and antibiotics (my body doesn't do well with them - it destroys my gut flora and throws my mental stability on a roller coaster), and those tendencies and thought patterns come back in force!  Cellular memory, people.  Given the right combination of ingredients, your mind will pull out some buried recipes and start cooking.

So, what do you do when you find yourself in a dark hole that you thought you had learned how to sidestep?  Here are a few of my experiential tips.

Recognize Your Pattern

Honestly, one of the kindest things you can do for yourself and those around you is to pay attention to yourself in your most extreme moments.  My husband would laugh and tell you all that what I think is extreme behavior in myself is nothing to even mention - like literally one second of raising my voice or giving into an emotional response before apologizing a second later - but to me, it's big because I've gotten really good at self-awareness.  The only way to learn your habits, your tendencies, your emotional climate, is to catch yourself in those moments and make mental notes about what set you off, what day of the moon cycle it is, how long you gave into that behavior before adjusting it, etc.  If you know yourself, you will notice when you're not being yourself.

Never Go Silent

If you notice you're behaving strange or experiencing thought patterns that don't feel safe or normal for you, no matter how small of a change, talk to people about it.  I have an amazing family that checks in with each other often, so we're all in a chronic state of how are you doing? and it's awesome.  But not everyone has that or feels comfortable sharing.  So build your tribe, find people who can share those moments with you, and talk it out.  Even talking can be enough to get you off the wrong track and back to feeling like yourself.

Be Patient and Reimmerge

Be as kind to yourself as you are to those you love.  Moments like these are designed to test your strength, your discipline, and your resilience.  After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I recognized what I was doing and asked myself simply, "Is this who you've worked your ass off to be?"  And when the answer was no, I gave myself some deadlines and am slowly stepping back into the light.  I imagine the next time I trip, I might not even fall down the hole.

There are lessons in even the most random of events.  I'm grateful for this moment of stillness to reflect upon it, and I'm inviting you to give yourself the time to do the same.

Always, Brittney

Three Steps to Reach Your Students

At the core of every student going to college is the desire for more.  More knowledge, more affluence, more abundance, more recognition.  They're here to learn because they want more from life than the hand they were dealt.  And within that undertone of commonality, we as educators have a very solid way to reach each of these students to get them more engaged and more invested in the everyday experience:

Step 1: Get To Know Their WHY

If you can connect with each of your students, understand the purpose for why they're going to walk into your classroom everyday, even when they don't want to, even when it seems like they could care less about what you're serving up, you can teach to it.  You can honor their goals and cater to their journey.  You can place milestones along the way to help them see tangible ways in which they are working towards their goals.  You can keep them motivated, engaged, and willing to show up.

Step 2: Meet Them Where They Are

It could be easy to blame the lethargic student body for dwindling educator enthusiasm.  You teach to a group of students who just stare blankly at you the whole time and it can be challenging to keep up the energy.  But here's a solution: instead of trying to meet students where you think they should be - you need to meet them where they are.  You need to pause your lecture and say, "Hey.  Two of you are nodding off.  Should we all get up and stretch?"  Shake up your routine with activities, competitions, group discussions - you don't even need to discuss the content so much as what gets them excited to learn.  Dig through the thick walls that your students may have built up to protect themselves and try to connect with the essence of what's driving them to attend class.

Step 3: Consistency Builds Trust

No matter what kind of group you've got in front of you, be consistent with who you are.  Every day when you show up to teach, you be your best self and you bring it every time.  The more your students trust that you're going to be there for them, be understanding and roll with them, they're going to keep trying.  If a student lets you down by asking for an extension and then still doesn't turn in the assignment, but they show up to class the next day, you welcome them in.  If a student drops your class, you reach out to them and let them know that you've got their back and will be ready to help them succeed the next time around.  Never allow time to make you apathetic.  Each new student is a new opportunity to build a better person, and this world needs all of us to be better.

Always, Brittney

Check In With Yourself

Do you temperature check?

In our youth, we are routinely assessed.  Can you apply what you've learned?  How can you outperform your peers?  How can you surpass your own metrics? Can you prove that you are qualified for admission?

Once we leave the days of exams behind, and are relinquished of a forced self-examination, we can often stagnate.  It can feel good to no longer need to define yourself with test scores and performance stats.  But because of the perpetual stress created around proving your worth for 12-18+ years of our lives, we tend to rebel from the entire institution - a pendulum swing from too much of a demand on calibre.  We launch into adulthood with reckless abandon, and amazingly creative things can emerge in this period of timelessness.  Then, we find a rhythm that supports us and we begin embracing the hamster wheel.

The wheel, that cycle of motion, may have nothing to do with a career, specifically.  It may in fact revolve around a pattern of avoidance: what you focus on to avoid the self-examination that exhausted you so long ago now.  The intensity to which you bring to your every day, the escapism habits you crave at the end of the day, the way you always want to focus on the tumult of others or the way you continually put yourself last - these patterns that propel you forward are keeping you from knowing yourself.  From knowing how you're really doing.  And, ultimately, from making any impactful changes in your life.

This is a reminder to pause.  Halt the cycle.  Does that bring you discomfort?  Good.  That means that change is about to follow.  Take time for yourself, away from distraction, and just sit with who you are.  These are the moments that you're running from.  Embrace them and allow yourself the opportunity to grow.  You check in with those around you - ask how they are and how you can help.  If you routinely check in with your partner, you're already in a leveled up mindset towards balance and wellness.  But now it's time to bring that internally.  Ask yourself how you're doing and be honest.  Ask yourself what you've learned about yourself this month.  Find out how you can improve - not for any metrics or validation - but how you can better yourself for yourself.  How can you optimize your presence for the world around you?

Throughout my whole life, I've always had one simple initiative: that anyone who knows me is better for knowing me.  That statement, that devotion, requires routine introspection.  If we all took moments to stop running from ourselves, just imagine what kind of world we would co-create.

Always, Brittney

Why We Fail To Change

Since June 1st 2017, I have lost 66 lbs due to clean eating and self-discipline. I reached my goal weight in 5 1/2 months due to a drastic diet shift and lots of walking. I now weigh 133 lbs and feel more comfortable in my 5’4” frame. I eat a healthy balanced diet, do daily yoga, and practice mindfulness and energetic healing.

Sounds simple, right? 

And yet, any time people talk with me about my lifestyle change, the response is nearly always the same. 

"I could never do that!"

And in that quick self-assessment, the possibility of change has been quashed.

Why do we limit ourselves in this way? Immediate rejection. So fast to make ourselves so small.  Who conditioned you into this pattern? Why did you allow it to become part of your foundation? Take a moment to really dig into the reasons behind it.

You are of infinite power and capability with unlimited potential. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise - especially yourself. I was born and raised in Wisconsin - do you think I thought I would ever give up things like bread and cheese? Of course not. Until one day, I woke up and decided that I could.

We fail to change because we believe that we cannot change. Until that belief is questioned and corrected, we will never escape the small box that we’ve placed ourselves in. Even if someone else forced you into that box of limitation, you have made the choice every moment since to stay there. I’m here to tell you that you have the permission to step out of it. 

Always, Brittney

Crafting The Authentic Self

So many of us walk around without a sense of authenticity.  We mirror what we see in the media without really realizing that we're doing it, let others fill our minds with how we are to think and feel without giving them the permissions to do so, and operate as though we've been cast in a role without ever trying to scratch the surface of who the person truly is who's underneath it all.  We've become powerless and directionless, and we can't even recognize it.

It's so easy to forget that we've chosen to operate this way, and that every choice we made has built us in this way.

But it can be undone.

Step 1: Define Yourself By Who You Want To Be

If you release yourself from a definition built by who you've been up until this moment, you have infinite capability and potential laid out in front of you.  In this pinnacle moment, decide: who do I want to be?  What does that look like?  What values will I honor?  What characteristics will I embody?  Make a list that outlines everything that makes up your core structure - the essence of who you want to be.  Don't focus on the physical, external components (i.e. I want to be successful, work in this field, find the perfect partner, weigh this many pounds, etc.)  Connect with your soul.

Step 2: Focus On Integrity

You may have some overarching goals or themes to the life you desire, but don't focus of them.  Invert your thinking and keep singular focus on each moment you have; because within each moment lies a choice and a decision that needs to be made.  All of these choices will now serve to build that person you want to become.  With each choice you have, reflect upon whether the choice you want to make aligns with the integrity of the person you're becoming.  Make the choice that best suits your new moral compass and move on to the next choice.  This will recondition your instinctual self and eventually render this process unnecessary - because you will just operate with integrity without prompting.

Step 3: Speak Your Truth

This internal transformation can be made in silence and solitude, but we as a species crave acknowledgement, validation, and reaffirmation in order to truly feel accomplished.  So share.  Give testimonial when appropriate, help when requested.  Sharing your truth will further cement it in your psyche as the new reality that you live in, leaving you feeling as though the old version of you never existed at all.

Step 4: You Will Be Tested Often

When you ignite your light and signal to the Universe that you are now owning your authentic self,  your commitment will be tested again and again.  But through great challenge comes even greater success and deepened pride in yourself.  So hold tight to that resolve and move forward, one integrity-filled choice at a time.

Step 5: Trust

You're human.  You will forget your discipline and sometimes focus on why you haven't reached certain goals yet.  In these moments of conditioned self doubt, remind yourself to trust completely in the process and in the intentions you set forth.  The foundation that you're building will be able to withstand any challenge presented, and things that once seemed out of reach will become attainable.  You are reconditioning your own vibratory state and the things you attract into your life will conspire to match that frequency.  Trust.

Always, Brittney

Stagnant Energy in the Home

How many things are you doing each day to limit stagnate energy in your body?  We move around, exercise, stretch, get assistance from professionals (energy healing, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, etc.), eat & drink, have sex, meditate, set intentions, use visualizations, breathe lol.  All of these things (and more) move energy in our bodies, and some are very effective at moving energy from places that it may have sat in too long.  Think about how often these activities take precedence in your life, and how often they call to your attention.  Some people need to exercise daily or they feel sluggish and unbalanced.  This is symptomatic of your energy sitting in one place for too long.

So, if we’re designed to keep our energy in motion and not let it stagnate – why don’t we apply this approach to our homes?  Think about it: our home is much like a body, housing many things that come and go.  Since we can’t, or shouldn’t, pick up our houses and move them around – it might be advantageous to change up the flow of your home from time to time.

I wrote a blog post about home cleansings that outlines when it’s a good idea to do this, with or without the aid of a professional, but here are some additional guidelines to help keep your home feeling healthy and safe:

-Put intention behind what you place in your home (within reason – you don’t need to put intention into your dishes… unless you want to) and be sure to reset your intention when circumstances change.

-Dust and clean, especially items on shelves that go untouched for months and months.  These things begin to collect energy from the members of the home and set the stage for what a given room will feel like.  So, clean them, move them around every so often, and keep your rooms feeling fresh.

-After big changes in energetic climate (i.e. a huge fight, deep sadness, etc.), smudge your home.  Use sage or palo santo smoke, essential oil sprays, crystal grids or placement with intention, fresh air, etc. to clear out the space so that those energies don’t linger.  Whatever tool you use, use it with intention.

Always, Brittney

Circle Back

When you accomplish, endure, and surpass – do you launch forward into the next cycle, or do you circle back?  And when you reflect, are you efficient at it or do you dwell?  Were you aware that you could reflect in a way that’s harmful to yourself?  Here’s a quick crash course.

Your cells hold onto memory.  Every time you revisit a memory, you have the choice to have an emotional & physical response to those mental pictures that you’re reviewing.  If, when thinking about something traumatic, you allow yourself to feel the intense emotions that you once felt during those events, you are actually compounding more hurt, pain, fear, etc. onto those memories – and thusly, giving them more control over you.  You’re not only making those memories more potent, but you’re also conditioning yourself to respond in the same or a more intense way the next time you are brought to face something similar.  And so, if you reflect in this way, you’re not actually learning from or rising above the events to improve your response or recognition.  Furthermore, you might be dooming yourself to repeat the cycle you just exited.

So, my love, the best way to circle back and reflect on something you’ve overcome is to remain anchored in the present – don’t relive it when you visit that place in your mind.  Remain objective, look for patterns, and give yourself the advice you’d give a loved one.  Remind yourself that you can’t be harmed by these events any longer.  Go back, using that powerful mind of yours, and tell yourself that you are loved.  Change the perspective.  You can heal yourself and relinquish those memories from controlling you.

I’ll give you an example that came up two days ago for me.  I was coming home at night and saw something in the sky that brought me back to my childhood self, when I would look out my window at night and long for my father (who lives several states south) to fly in on a plane and visit.  Immediately, because I had conditioned myself for so many many years to do so, I felt sorry for my child self.  But because I no longer allow myself to dwell in a victim mindset, my secondary response was to think loving words to my child self.  “You’re so loved!  Your whole family loves you, and your mother loves you more than enough to compensate for what you believe you’re missing.  Let that longing go and enjoy what you have in front of you.”  My whole body tingled with love and comfort and I no longer felt sad for myself.  See how powerful intention can be when you put it to good use?

I was stretching this morning, and my first iteration was pitiful.  Super tight muscles, little flexibility.  But I persevered with optimism, and on the second iteration, I was already more flexible and feeling more energy moving throughout my body.  And by the third cycle through, my head was resting on my knees when I stretched my legs.  If I had given up after the first circuit, and dwelled on how impossible it seems to push through discomfort, I would likely continue to stay in place and never progress.  But when I give myself the time, space, and the permission to be imperfect, great things become attainable.

Always, Brittney

The Reality of Intent

We’ve all heard or read the phrase, “Perception is reality.”  And it’s true.  What you perceive to be true becomes your own personal draft of reality.

Energy follows intention.  That’s another one of those phrases we’ve all heard and brushed off.  And again, fact.  What you set forth for yourself, the things you plan for and strive towards, or even just the things you focus on most, will soon become your reality.  Energy will go with whatever climate you create for it with your thoughts, and then it will conspire to create that for you.  You’ve read about it in the placebo effect and false diagnosis, where people will become healthy or ill based on what they perceive to be true – even if it’s not.  Completely healthy people will begin to develop symptoms of an illness because they believe it to be true.  That’s power.

The number one reaction that I get when I tell people about my health and weight loss transformation, aside from, “where do you get your protein from?”, is, “Oh, I could never do that!”  And for them, that is the truth.  Because they believe it to be.

Literally the week before I changed my diet and mindset, I was eating sugary cereal for breakfast because it felt nostalgic, bleached wheat breads and pasta dishes for main meals, one to three Mtn Dew sodas per day, vegetarian options at Taco Bell (again, nostalgia).  I mean, seriously – just junk.  I was emotionally attached to the foods I was eating and they were making me sick on every level.  So, did I think that I would ever stay disciplined to something so opposite of how I had existed for thirty plus years?  Of course I didn’t.  But one morning, on June 1st 2017, I decided that I could do it.  Then it was a matter of making smart choices with every decision presented to me and simply following through with them.

We all have immense power within us to accomplish greatness.  But until you believe that you do, you will never find it.

Always, Brittney

Forgive Yourself

When considering forgiveness, we usually treat it as something external to ourselves.  We see forgiveness as something that we give to others who “deserve it”, or withhold it from those who we feel have wronged us.  But rarely do we take the much needed time and reflection to forgive ourselves.  And furthermore, when we forgive another, that act can be more healing for ourselves than for the offender.

Disclaimer: you have been only taught half of the power of forgiveness.

forgive.png

In my experience, there are two additional definitions:

1. : to release yourself from the burden of an emotional attachment to a person, event, or circumstance that had caused you harm or distress

2. : to claim ownership of and recycle energy that is caught in a destructive or ill-fitting pattern

Let me explain:

When you forgive someone, you’re letting go.  You’re making the choice to no longer live in the past, to not harbor regret or resentment, and to step forward – with or without that other person still included in your life (because that’s your choice).  Holding onto pain and anger with the refusal to let someone else get away with making you feel that way is actually harming you further.  It keeps you standing still.  You don’t progress, you don’t evolve, you don’t grow.  And, you don’t learn from your mistakes or experience either.  So, although it may seem as though you’re punishing someone else, you’re really punishing yourself by withholding forgiveness.  If you don’t associate the choice to forgive with the other person, and treat it instead as an act of kindness to yourself – stand back world – because you’re about to grow in so many aspects of your life!!

The second definition that I’ve given builds upon the first, with the added bonus that if you do this for yourself – you will truly be free to actualize your potential to its fullest!  We all go through phases in life where we’re not being the best version of ourself.  Or maybe there are things in life that you regret, based on your own choices or inaction.  When we hold onto feelings like shame, regret, and any form of negative thought patterns against ourselves (“I’m not _______ enough”, “I hate _______ about myself”, etc.), we limit the person that we are and who we share with the world.  Making the choice to forgive yourself will release the energy that has been dedicated to tearing you down (because energy follows thoughts and intention) and free it up to do great things for you instead.

When I journeyed through postpartum depression, I became one of the ugliest forms of myself that I had ever experienced.  I felt imprisoned and it took me a year to break those chains, an additional year to return to who I truly am, and another six months to have my body reflect the soul that it houses.  One of the most important steps in my own healing process was to acknowledge the person I had allowed myself to be and own it – every dark, ugly part of it.  For a long time, I kept thinking of the person I was being almost as something external to myself – because when you have postpartum psychosis, you develop thought patterns that you know you would never consciously think of normally.  So, in taking responsibility for that phase of my life, I was able to forgive myself and release the energy that still felt scared, guilty, and angry with myself.  It wasn’t until I did this (through intention and visualization techniques) that I truly felt that the postpartum depression chapter was finally at a close.

Take some time to meditate on the idea of forgiveness, form your own definitions, and begin to live your life as openly and freely as you were always meant to.

Always, Brittney

How Six Months of Mindfulness Can Change Your Life

When I began this journey to take back my health, I was primarily concerned with taking care of my physical self (lowering my weight, healing my gut, and eliminating chronic inflammation).  Every time I’ve been faced with hunger and what I should do about it, I would consult with my mental list of food that I could eat and then make a smart, integrity-filled decision.  In doing that several times per day, you don’t realize that you’re slowly reconditioning the way that you approach every decision you make.  Upon reflection of the past six months of disciplined living, here are my findings:

Gratitude

When you put weight on decisions, and take time to weigh your choices and decide if they align with your overall vision of who you are and who you’re working to become, you’re creating room for gratitude to fill each of those choices.  It’s the mindless, numb choices that we don’t realize float us through life without ever feeling what they mean or how they’re defining us.  So, one of my biggest observations is how grateful I am every day in nearly every decision I make.  I find that I’m grateful for things like broccoli, clean clothes, moments of flirtation with my husband, finding creative ways to calm my sensitive son, new consultant projects, students assignments to grade, and so forth.  The wholeness associated with a life of gratitude is something I’ve never felt before and it’s incredible.

Waste Less

When I cook for myself or my family, I’ve naturally begun cooking with appropriate portion sizes; so, we rarely, if ever, have leftovers.  And when we do, I prioritize them and eat them within a day.  Something clicked on within me and I get really upset when I waste food by being careless with my cooking.  I get discouraged when restaurants bring me huge portions of food, knowing that I have so much to bring home that won’t keep well.  Mindfulness brings you to a pure and natural place of conservationist, and it’s no wonder that the two are interconnected.

Self Love

This one surprised me.  I’ve always felt like I know who I am at my core and that I love who I am, even if I haven’t always loved who I was being at times.  But in the act of cooking for yourself and healing yourself with food and discipline, is there no clearer, more precise way to show that you love yourself?  I have never been happier, less stressed, or more centered than I am now that I take care of myself and my own best interests.  I’m proud of myself, and it comes without the need for a pat on the head.  It’s just a knowing.

Your Word is Your Bond

By disciplining your decisions, you naturally won’t make commitments that you can’t meet.  You have a strong sense of your core integrity, and you’ll want to keep your word when you give it.  I used to get really stressed by commitments and would flake out a lot on things.  Now that I feel the integrity within me, I don’t experience stress the way I used to.  I flow through the day, making lists of things I need to accomplish, and I check them off when they’re done.  I find creative ways to get things done with the challenges I face as a full-time mom, Reiki practitioner, virtual assistant, adjunct instructor, and consultant and it doesn’t overwhelm me anymore.  I just get it done, and I feel immense gratitude that I can consciously paint a consistent picture of who I am to those around me as someone reliable and professional.

This journey back to wellness has been so transformational.  I reached my goal weight of 140 lbs. in 5 1/2 months (a total of 59 lbs. lost), and promptly put away my scale and re-gifted my Fitbit.  This next stage is about deepening my own definition of health and discipline, and how to share that wealth of knowledge with others.  Thank you for being part of this journey with me.

Always, Brittney