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.¬†

 

 

 

 

Hey, it’s OK.

5959856872_brain20vs20heart_xlarge

 

Oh, Sundays. They can feel so blissful and sometimes they can feel so conflicting. It’s an interesting battle of the brain vs. heart. The brain shouting¬†“you have to keep going!” while the heart whispers, “Hey, it’s OK. Why not just rest and see what comes from that?”

When¬†I don’t have “a plan” for the day, I often have the feeling that I’m missing something, that I’m not doing enough, or I’m allowing precious time to pass as I sip my tea, surf the internet, or stare into space. It’s the feeling that should be saying “hey, it’s ok to unwind and recharge” but instead I notice it trying to feed me with guilt, telling me what I should¬†be doing with my time off, highlighting the fact that I don’t have the energy or motivation, and in turn, feeling vacant and scattered.

I know I’m not alone in this and I also know I’m not the first person to reflect on it. But I do know it’s important to show these vulnerable times, to share these moments so we can connect on a level that surpasses the highlight reel of roses, sunshine, and accomplishments. Sometimes we have those moments, other times life is about laying in bed far too long, staring at the potential of the day, yet not having an ounce of motivation to even brush your hair. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong, it just means we’re human, and going against the grain of our go! go! go! (brain) culture is what contributes to this¬†inner conflict when the¬†heart is really asking the body to slow down.

I very much need the day to unfold organically, be gentle with my lack of direction, and allow myself to¬†recharge and renew (guilt-free) for the busy week ahead. Other people will be climbing mountains, writing their memoirs, and attending that fancy art class today. I will be honoring my body’s needs and hopefully diffusing those feelings that are urging me to do more, because really, I do enough.

Moral of the story? Feel what you’re feeling, you do you. We¬†are¬†always enough, and when we continue to come back to this self-empowering phrase, “I am enough”, it really begins to settle in. Our heart’s whisper grows¬†loud and clear, and we actually start to¬†believe it when we hear¬†“Hey, it’s OK…”

Keep Calm & Travel On.

il_570xN.329537410

 

The holidays are in full effect¬†and many of us will be traveling near and far to be with the ones we love. As a frequent traveler, I’ve had many opportunities to reflect and notice¬†what’s required to make my time away from home meaningful and as healthy as possible. ¬†Whether you are taking a vacation or visiting family and friends, here are some ideas to stay healthy and balanced while¬†making the best of that well deserved time off!

Hydrate: I cannot emphasize it enough: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Going somewhere warm? Hydrate! Going somewhere cold? Hydrate! Dehydration can happen in any climate and cause a number of symptoms that can make your trip less than enjoyable (such as fatigue and constipation). While traveling, we are usually off our normal routines and running from one place to the next, making it easy to forget to get our water in. Additionally, if alcohol will be a part of your holiday celebrations, you should be drinking even more water than usual to account for the dehydrating effects of alcohol on your body and skin.  Get a head start by drinking 16 oz of water immediately upon waking, before you get distracted or busy.  Pack a reusable, BPA-free water bottle to carry around on your trip and continue to fill it up throughout the day.  Make note of how many times you need to refill it to reach your daily water quota (the standard 8 x 8 oz glasses is a good start, but you may feel better drinking even more), and designate times throughout the day as a reminder to refill, in order to meet your quota.

Sleep: Sometimes while traveling it’s easier said than done, but getting in enough zzz’s will help keep you balanced and energized to take on the day.  Just as much as exercise and nutrition are important to our health, so is sleep. Optimal working, learning, creating, moving, and socializing rely heavily on a good night’s sleep. Taking some time to meditate and clear your mind before falling asleep can help deepen the quality of sleep you are getting throughout the night.

Maintain Your Skin Care Routine: Air travel requires some planning with items such as skin care products. Knowing the rules ahead of time can save you a lot of time and headaches, or worse, from having to toss your beloved products at security. Once you’ve learned what you can and cannot pack, determine your most vital skin care products, remembering you are packing for a destination that may have a very different climate than what you are used to. Try bringing your favorite travel sized cleanser, toner, moisturizer with sunscreen, eye treatment, lip hydrator, and hand and body lotion if possible. Paring down when packing is important, but try not to eliminate the products that will help keep your skin healthy while up against the elements of travel.

Eat Regularly: Packing healthy snacks to have on hand throughout the day can save you from those catastrophic blood sugar crashes, mood swings, and mid-afternoon dips of fatigue. Take the time to find local restaurants, supermarkets, and health food stores that can accommodate your dietary needs. It is worth the extra effort to make sure that your body is getting the foods it needs. Also remember that vacations and holidays tend to be full of foods that we’re not used to eating on a daily basis and this can mean trouble for our digestive system. Incorporating foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole food snacks can help to minimize any digestive distress.

Exercise: Feel like you are way too busy to exercise while traveling? When there is not 30-60 minutes to spare at once, try breaking it up throughout the day. For example, a 10 minute power walk in the morning, afternoon, and evening with 5 minutes of toning exercises like yoga stretches, sit-ups, lunges, and push-ups (which can be done anywhere with no equipment necessary) can help keep our blood flowing and metabolism going.

And last but not least…

Let Go of Expectations: We usually have in mind an idealistic picture of how we would love a vacation to turn out, but realistically there are many bumps along the way that can pop up and derail our plans. Flights get delayed or canceled, inclement weather happens, people get sick, food gets burned, hotel accommodations can let us down.  The best thing to do in this situation?  Make a conscious effort to go with the flow. Of course we naturally want to react and feel angry, disappointed, sad, or frustrated, but what will really help us get from plan A to plan B is staying calm and making appropriate decisions about what the next best step is.  The hormonal cascade set off by stress wreaks havoc on our health.  Figure out your options, choose a direction, outline the steps you need to take, and ask for help if possible.  Your focus should simply be to get things back on track so that you can carry on with your trip.  You can wait until you return home to follow up with the appropriate people and businesses should you need to further process your feelings, contact management, etc. For now, just breathe, try to relax, and focus on how to get back to those meaningful moments that you get to share with others this time of year.

Safe travels and wishing you a joyous and healthy holiday season!

Happy “Stress-Free” Holidays!

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 9.07.22 AM

‚ÄúYou are the sky. Everything else ‚Äď it‚Äôs just the weather.‚ÄĚ

— Pema Ch√∂dr√∂n

* * *

Winter is a time of year where our bodies and nature are in their most restorative states. With the lack of daylight and colder weather (in most places), we naturally want to retreat and be still. This is also the time of year where the holiday season kicks off at the end of November and carries through to the start of the new year. How will our bodies relax and restore while also showing up for the celebrations and gatherings that accompany the holiday season? 

Continue reading