Introducing…

All smiles at the Masters of Movement training in LA. 3/2017.

All smiles at a training: 3/2017.

Me. Colleen. Hi. It’s been a while. ūüôā

Confession: creating a new blog has been on my mind for the last year. I wanted to press reset. I wanted to start over. I wanted to reintroduce myself to the world. I ended up starting an Instagram account (@ironsilkjoy) as the motivational seed to start this process, through documenting my journey in the fitness world. I chose this handle because I love the balance and imagery iron and silk offer, and joy is something I strive to find and sustain in anything I pursue. It felt simple, it felt elegant, it felt meaningful. I thought this would be my outlet as the new me emerged from the cocoon that left my writing so very dormant all this time.

However, this idea percolated for so long. Too long. I managed to regularly post videos and photos of my progress with short snippets describing what I was up to. I even steadily gained an audience of positive supporters. It’s been a fun side gig, but every time, and I mean *every* time I sat down to actually start typing out the overflow of fitness-focused thoughts I had, I’d stall. Why? For one thing, because a lot of life happened this year, and the thought of taking on a new project always turned quickly from excitement to exhaustion. It took months of mending, processing, recovering, and being in the world to lead up to the¬†moment that happened the¬†other day: a casual Sunday on the porch with my sweetheart, Greg.

We were having an inspired conversation that turned into the tipping point that finally broke the strong writer’s block that was holding me captive all year. It wasn’t just a matter of ideas that I needed to jot down. It was paragraph upon paragraph of what was in my brain, what was in my heart, that needed to come out and be on paper. I had thoughts to share¬†about¬†being body shamed, the competitive nature that lives in all of us, ego, insecurities, growth, strength, falling in love, and much more. Creativity flowed out faster than I could keep up with.

As I sat fervently writing, my mind kept wandering back to this blog. I decided to revisit thislittlelark.org¬†to see¬†what and when I posted last. Sure enough, my last entry was March 2016, (not coincidentally) when everything in my world started to shift. I mentioned this to Greg and he asked thoughtful questions around why I hadn’t considered continuing this¬†blog, one that was *already* set up and connected to so many wonderful and curious readers (aka: why was I making something harder for myself when the solution was literally staring back at me on my screen.) The “aha!” moment surfaced. My journey into fitness is very much a part of health and wellness. It’s part of me. This blog is where I used to write my thoughts, inspirations, and experiences. This is where I will continue to write my thoughts, inspirations, and experiences. I don’t need to separate different parts of my life into different places anymore. It all comes from the same place: ME. Yes. Yes. Yes!! It felt like coming home.¬†

So, circling back: What exactly happened in March 2016? That’s when I officially started a new approach to¬†moving my body. Through a series of serendipitous events, I was led to personal training sessions and a very quirky and amazing small gym in Durham, North Carolina: Legitimate Movement. Up until that point, I was not a “sit on the couch with no motivation” kind of gal. I was more along the lines of an “I’m going to try this thing for a while, and then move to that thing and then that shiny thing over there looks fun and whoa I want to try that fun thing, too!” kind of gal. In my adult life, I have always implemented some form of activity, and the times when it wasn’t formal and planned,¬†I lived in larger cities where I’d find myself walking 5+ miles a day to get to all my destinations. My body has always been happiest with movement: physical, emotional, and spiritually speaking. Something was different with this time around, though. Everything aligned for me and I kept showing up for myself and actually having fun. I found a place where exercise wasn’t a chore, it was an exciting way of life.

Since March 2016, I have been so inspired by my movement routine and the coaches that have helped guide me along the way, that my curiosity led me to Montreal, Toronto, and LA to take focused trainings and certifications in mobility and movement. I’ve since studied and passed my personal training certification exam, and I’m in the process of creating¬†unique classes and workshops that incorporate all of my favorite things: movement, yoga, dance, Chinese medicine, and positive psychology. I’ve come a long way and I’m really only getting started. This is all in addition to keeping a full time acupuncture practice, and going through some huge changes in my personal life. I’ve been busy!

As I write this, the excitement of sharing all of my thoughts and experiences is literally emanating¬†from every pore… I’ve never done a super real and public, take me as I am account, because honestly, the thought has always been paralyzing. What if I offend someone? What if cyber bullies start to attack? What if my story just blends in with the rest? Hmm… I’ve had these conversations with some dear friends through the year, and the best of them would always say “Who cares? I want to hear what you have to say. You have something to offer, so do yourself and the rest of us a favor and at least try to put your thoughts down on paper. You have¬†nothing to lose, only something to gain.”¬†¬†So maybe all this time I should have been asking something like: “What if <gasp> I actually make some sort of difference?” Maybe that difference will just occur within me. Maybe something will spark in you. I don’t know unless I start somewhere. So here we have it. Introducing: This Little Lark 2.0. Still a journey of health and wellness, but we’ll call it the director’s cut.

I’m¬†choosing to write about my life from a behind-the-scenes place that, I believe, is not unapologetically shared enough. It’s the only true, authentic voice I know and it’s all I have to make the choices each day to keep showing up, keep doing better, and eliminate the bullshit that drags the world down. I’ve shared some posts in the past that reflect this vulnerable and empowered place within me, and they have always made me feel the most alive. Here’s to more of that and less filtering to fit into a world of paralyzing expectations.¬†

 

 

 

 

Behind The Scenes

“Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.” Dennis Prager

I’ve been running a sustainable acupuncture and wellness practice for almost 23 months now! To even type the word “sustainable” is a milestone that I thought would take years to reach. For that, I am grateful for this community¬†that supports me and trusts me with their unique life stories. I am reminded daily that I am doing what I am meant to be doing, connecting with the people that I’m¬†meant to connect with, all the while keeping an open mind to where all of this may lead to in the future.

Keeping all the warm fuzzies in mind, it’s also important for me to take into account that it takes A LOT of time, patience, and energy. It takes behind the scenes work involving research, admin, continuing education, taxes, networking, marketing, supply orders, and patient follow-ups (to name a few). Not to mention the time I commit towards self-care in order to stay balanced while wearing the variety of hats as a business owner. I strive to thrive for many years, so these things are all important to me.

It’s been a graceful learning curve, and I’ve been fortunate to have a number of colleagues to share the bittersweet growing pains of being equal parts small business owner and health care practitioner. Having this limited experience on the other side of the spectrum, I’ve gained a lot of respect for past and present health care professionals who go above and beyond for their patients and practice. I now understand why they were always so grateful when I had to cancel and it was well within their specific cancelation policy. I see how payment is an energetic exchange and is just as important in the healing process as anything else in the patient-practitioner relationship. I experience the joy… yes, JOY!…in hearing my patients advocate for themselves: if something isn’t working in their life they say it unapologetically and I am thrilled to be let in on what’s really beneath the symptoms and pains. I feel the defeat¬†when I hear “I googled it so I’m doing xyz…” and hope the sources were accurate, because somehow there’s a part in all of us, no matter how small, that recognizes if Google comes up with it, there has to be some validity behind it. I feel the overwhelming sense of wanting to keep learning more, more, more, but also knowing I’m not equipped to do it all. I smile when I’m able to help build and grow my colleague’s professions through referrals and word of mouth. Have I mentioned that community is where it’s at? ūüėČ

I’ll leave by sharing what inspired this reflection in the first place. It has nothing to do with Chinese medicine or business, but in my little world of “what does it all mean?”, this *something* got the reflection wheels turning:¬†I was playing the piano the other day– actually, sight reading a waltz in one of my old sonata books. As I played, I felt this rush of heat and giddiness, better expressed as¬†“WHOA this is crazy that I am looking at a piece of paper with dots on lines¬†and simultaneously able to coordinate my right and left hands to play a melody via their respective parts of the paper with dots on lines.” feeling. What?!!! It was the feeling of embodiment, it was the feeling of all of the parts fitting to create the whole. It was the perfect metaphor for how I feel when I think of all the parts (and all of the hats worn) that have contributed to this grand waltz of a practice I’m building. ūüôā

Back to the start.

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This blog has been up for 5 years now… !!! ¬†It started as a personal WordPress site to connect with friends and family about my life’s journey and to my surprise it grew to an audience of over 5,000 readers within months! Wow! I decided to switch over to this .org domain a little over 2 years ago to include more guest posts from health and wellness professionals. This, in turn, would reach an even wider audience. Well, my friends, after some much needed deliberation, I’ve decided it’s time to go back to the start.¬†I feel that I have built up a level of resistance to posting regular updates the past couple of years, not because I didn’t have anything to share, but because I had TOO much to share. I ended up receiving hundreds of¬†emails from interested guest bloggers from around the world. Reading their stories and what they wanted to share was inspiring, impressive and such an honor to read, but I quickly realized it was too much of an endeavor to take on as a “side project” on my own. In the meantime, popular sites like Mind, Body, Green and Elephant Journal grew with a similar mission– with a staff of many. Something that is not in the cards for me right now, especially as I manage a full-time acupuncture and wellness practice.

What does going back to the start mean? It means just me. It means on occasion when I meet someone with a special something, I’ll ask if they’d do me the honor to write their story so I can share it with¬†all of you, who I care about deeply. It means more creative license to be all over the map instead of within a “professional” parameter. If you’ve read my past¬†few blog posts, you’ll know that I’m striving to bridge the gap between my professional life and personal life, practicing vulnerability, and taking more risks. I’m wanting to connect on a deeper level that surpasses preaching about the “How-To’s” in life.¬†

I understand this will lead to some of you unsubscribing to my updates. But before you go, please know I am grateful for your support and for every time you chose to read these posts the past few years. For those that stay with me, I thank you as well. You’ll see some gradual changes around the website, and as always I welcome your feedback. ūüôā Here’s to the next chapter…!!¬†

My vulnerability is showing…

…and it looks good!

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I think a lot. The way my mind works fascinates and entertains me enough that I don’t get bored easily, although I can easily tire from my train of thought at times. I think about my life. I think about where I came from and where I’m going. I think about what I’ve overcome to get to where I am. I think about and make up random scenarios that make me giggle, and I think about and make up random scenarios that bring up fears. I think about all of these things and more.

And then, somewhere down the road of my ever-evolving thought process, I started thinking more about my external world, specifically how I portray my¬†internal world to my external world. I realized how much I’ve taken on for myself to process versus opening up and saying my truth¬†to those around me. I realized I played the role of feeling much safer in pleasing others and not ruffling feathers, while silently suffering internal anxieties and worries. I realized how exhausting this was for my past self. I realized that is was time to unravel and transform this tendency.¬†

Throughout the past year, this has been a major focus of mine. After settling into my life in Chapel Hill and (mostly) recovering from the very real PTSD that lingered from my time as a grad student, I can happily say that all my needs of home, food, friends, and career are feeling rooted and nurtured. This has created space for me to let go of the fight or flight mode a bit more and dive deeper into the parts of my psyche that are fearful of being vulnerable.

I was inspired by conversations among friends and family, articles and blog posts, books like¬†Bren√© Brown’s, Daring Greatly,¬†and personal anecdotes from my amazing and brave patients. All of these encounters helped put the feelings I was trying to acknowledge into tangible thoughts; I’ve built up a wall to “stay strong” when all along practicing vulnerability has made me feel stronger than ever.¬†

How will I continue to nurture this in the new year? With compassion (and oftentimes a shaky voice)¬†I’ll keep communicating¬†how I really feel, I’ll honor my energy and not give it away to those that drain it. I won’t deny my emotion in order to avoid confrontation. I’ll continue to meet the needs of those I love while making sure my needs are being heard and met as well. I will continue to cultivate balance, reciprocity, and deeper connection and understanding in my relationships. I’ll make time to breathe, laugh, sing, and play with abandon. I’ll step out of my sometimes too comfortable shadow and follow my curiosity, away from the path of fear. I’ll tap into my courage. I’ll fall down¬†and get back up. I’ll continue to show up for myself and be seen, because once we’re seen, our greatest attributes, ideas, creativities, and accomplishments are one step closer to seeing the light.¬†

Care to join me? ūüôā

 

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2014: Feel Good, Be Good, and Do Good.

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“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

– Mahatma Gandhi –

The countdown to 2014 has begun! In mere hours, we will be ringing in the new year; spirits hopefully high, and goals set to try to make the upcoming year filled with success, health, love and accomplishments.

We make resolutions because we have a natural tendency towards self-improvement. We want the best for ourselves and the world we live in. However, too often our January 1st enthusiasm quickly falls by the wayside.  Sometimes, as soon as mid-January, our goals are abandoned completely.

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