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.¬†

 

 

 

 

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…!!¬†

32 Lessons I’ve Learned (and Mostly Relearned) as a 32 Year Old.

32-Facts-That-Show-How-Men-Are-Being-Systematically-Emasculated-In-America-Today-300x205‚ÄúYou don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.‚ÄĚ ‚Äē George Bernard Shaw

Although in my mind I still tend to feel like (and laugh at the same things as) a kid, I’ll be turning 33 tomorrow, May 26th! Wow. It’s really true: age is just a number, and you’re only as old as you feel. Every year around this time, I enjoy taking a moment¬†to myself¬†to reflect on the year that just passed, oftentimes like a blink of an eye. Days, weeks, and months can go by so quickly! Knowing the way that I’ve chosen to participate in the world, it’s important to take these pauses and check in where I’m at, and where I might be going. This year, while highlighting the growth and transformation I’ve experienced, I’ve compiled a list of 32 lessons I’ve learned and relearned this past year as a 32 year old. ¬†If nothing else, I’ll always be able to look back on this to remember the thoughts, big and small, that have brought me to be the person I am today.

 

1. Upgrading to a Kindle has made life so sweet and¬†easy. I love books and I’ll always have an affinity for them, but when I’m traveling, it’s so much more convenient to have a handful of books uploaded on a tiny, light-weight device. My shoulders are much happier for not having to lug around excess weight in books anymore.¬†

2. Having a daily yoga practice is¬†possible. It’s not always an hour or longer, but putting in at least 15 minutes a day can move some profound mind-body mountains.¬†

3. Owning and running a small business has been an emotional roller coaster and has been full of some of the most valuable lessons towards self cultivation. I’m absolutely floored that I’m actually living my dream, and while living it, I continue to dream even bigger.¬†

4. It’s never too late¬†to start learning a new language. Hablo espa√Īol? Si, hablo un poco de espa√Īol!¬†

5. Mercury retrograde is real. Enough said. When you hear that it’s currently happening, be gentle with all things communication, technology, transportation, and contractual. Actually, even when Mercury is¬†not retrograde, be gentle.¬†

6. Give me a bowl of air-popped popcorn with coconut oil, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and dill, and I will become giddy with glee.

7. Dancing will always be one of my most favorite things to do. Being able to go out and enjoy the dances around here? Working on staying awake past 9pm…

8. There’s nothing wrong with a 9pm bedtime.

9. It is possible to lower cholesterol! Diet, exercise, and de-stressing for the win! I do realize this is not the case for all people, but paying closer attention to your diet, exercise and de-stressing routines will definitely create a positive ripple effect on your health.

10. Acupuncture works. More times than not I find myself shaking my head in disbelief how this medicine is so unbelievably wise.

11. Friends certainly come and go through the seasons of our lives.

12. Moving to a new place can be scary, especially after spending years making friends and building community elsewhere. In the past year, I’ve made a great effort to get to know my surroundings, and it came back to me tenfold: Becoming involved with a yoga teacher training and reaching out to any and all interesting people I meet along the way has built the sweetest community here in Chapel Hill.

FullSizeRender13. Get the hammock. Don’t spend months or years talking about getting the hammock. Get it. Add the bowl of popcorn from above. Die happy.

14. Free does not necessarily mean better. 

15. Working as a team is invigorating. I’ve been blessed to meet some incredible health practitioners around here, and am in the midst of collaborating big ideas with one… stay tuned! ¬†

16. Animals need our lovingkindness more than ever. Save the elephants, save the turtles, please save them all.

17. Slow down, it’ll get done.

18. I can run more than 3 miles at a time. In fact, I ran 7 the other day! Mind over matter.

19. It is SO worth the time and money to get away for a few days and shake things up from the routine, especially when it’s a visit to loved ones that are just too darn far away. I’m grateful to be at that point in life where I truly value experiences and memories far more than the “things” that can easily be replaced. (If you are ready to de-clutter your life, read this.)

20. My body¬†will continue to change¬†through the years, and that’s just part of the graceful aging process. The only thing I can do is to keep coming back to embracing what I have¬†now and continue to strive to feel¬†the healthiest and most energized that I possibly can.¬†

21. Laughter is the best medicine. 

22. Being engaged to my sweetheart has changed nothing and everything all at the same time. It’s a sweet time for us to figure out how we want to make this completely our own, no deadlines, no pressure, just a love-filled celebration. If I could do anything differently, I’d trust the process more than I did leading up to it.¬†

23. Deciding to have¬†children will never come naturally to me as a “yes, it’s happening!” or a “no, it’s not for me.” However, choosing to be with the person who¬†could someday create those children with me has been the most natural “yes!” I could think of.¬†

24. Maintaining a healthy relationship takes work each and every day. A lot of the time it’s so much fun! I mean, what’s better than living with your best friend, having countless inside jokes, and trying to figure out how to be “adults” together? Yay for that! However, it’s not always that easy, and we are sometimes challenged to look in the mirror and face the things we try so hard not to see within ourselves. I think that could be the most beautiful part of a relationship’s metamorphosis: once the guards are down, the transformation begins, and you’re both better people for having worked on it.¬†

25. Public libraries are the bees knees. So many resources, so much information. How lucky are we?

26. Social media will continue to be a blessing and an annoyance. Always proceed with caution, and treat everyone kindly.

27. Quitting a ridiculous coffee habit is very possible, and on¬†the days I decide to ¬†make or treat myself to a coffee, I get as giddy as I am with a bowl of homemade popcorn. It’s a win-win. I drink Tulsi India Breakfast tea now. It has a little caffeine mixed with the calming effects of tulsi (holy basil). It’s really an excellent way to start my mornings.¬†

28. Connecting with all things yin/feminine softens the hardness that I tend to create when I’m thrown into the “go, go, go” or yang/masculine aspect of our culture. If we are over-consuming our yin (whether due to over-activity, or because it was deficient to begin with), we begin to lose our endurance and reserves. We become over-reactive and hypersensitive.¬†Whatever your gender, it’s essential for all of us to connect with our yin/feminine side. Balance is key and we can only ignore this part of ourselves for so long before symptoms of imbalance¬†start to physically and emotionally manifest.

29. Taking chances, when aligned with that gut instinct and intuition, will always be worth it. I’d rather fail trying than not doing at all.

30. I’m grateful for Mama Nature. She guides me in understanding how the universe works which in turn guides me in understanding how we, as humans, work.¬†

31. I have a lot to offer! I never thought I’d be teaching yoga classes and workshops, but I am, and I love it. I believe EVERYONE has something to offer, and finding your voice is part of that unnerving yet exciting journey that will lead you to where you belong. I dare you to step outside your comfort zone and try it.¬†

32. It’s impossible to condense a year’s worth of learning into a list of 32, but to keep it practical and fun, I chose the number 32 since all of this was experienced, manifested, and cultivated while I was 32. Clever, huh? ūüėČ Here’s to my 33rd year, another revolution around the sun, and hopefully countless more lessons that will continue to expand my horizons and challenge me to do the things my heart is trying to lead me to do. ūüôā

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Happy, little 2-year old me in the Cayman Islands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

some thoughts on meditation.

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If you’ve been following my blog posts over the years, you’ll notice that I bring up meditation as a form of healing…a lot. I’ve provided snippets of information here and there; little gems to remember when creating a meditation practice. I’ve talked about breathing as an essential tool to ground and be still. I’ve even given auxiliary information on how to enhance your practice with tools such as essential oils or flower essences. So, now, the big questions to address include: what exactly IS meditation? Is the mind supposed to be completely still? What if I don’t have an hour each day to spare for this practice…?

I’m here to guide you, calm your concerns, and let you know that if you are setting aside any time to practice stillness, you are doing it correctly. A meditation practice is not about a destination, it’s about what we do with the sensations that arise. It’s about connecting with a part of ourselves that tends to get ignored in our active life. It’s about seeking glimpses of clarity by allowing our thoughts and emotions (both positive and negative) to surface and see the light so we can work through and transform them, rather than ignore, repress, and repeat the cycle of emotions.

Meditation is a personal journey and there are so many different ways to practice. Key word:practice. Meditation is a practice in focusing our attention and being aware when it drifts. When practiced regularly, this will help our focus even when we are not in a meditative state. Five to ten minutes per day is all you need. If you have more time? That’s wonderful, too.

Meditation is not about being right or wrong. It’s about being. We know that the only thing constant is change, so you will notice that thoughts, moods, and attitudes will change as you implement a consistent practice of stillness. Some days it will be easier to quiet the mind, other days you might notice a plethora of thoughts arising- one after another. It is all part of the process of looking inward.

My experience will never be the same as your experience. Your experience will never be the same as any one else’s experience. The point I’m trying to make is, it’s worth a try. It’s worth connecting deeper with the inner workings of your mind and body for all the benefits that lead to a more balanced life. You do not need an hour per day and you do not need a special outfit, spirituality, or teacher. These tools help guide people in their daily practice, if they work for you, amazing! Keeping an open mind to discover what works for you is part of the journey.

So a suggestion on where to start? If you love apps, a great one to check out is Headspace. This is meditation geared towards busy people like you and me. Former Buddhist monk, Andy Piddicombe, guides you through 10 minutes of simple meditation every day. You don‚Äôt have to do anything other than sit down, turn on the app, and let Andy‚Äôs soothing voice explain how to approach meditation. Another suggestion: Deepak Chopra has 21-day meditation series which I’ve also found supportive with a busy schedule. As always, feel free to connect with me for more recommendations. Above all else, I hope you can now relax and know you are exactly where you need to be, and when you consciously choose to be, you’re deciding to continue on your journey to cultivate the best version of yourself.

patience, patient.

‚ÄúHave patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them ‚Äď every day begin the task anew.‚ÄĚ ~Saint Francis de Sales

 

Being present with each of my patients is essential in order to honor who they are and what they are presenting on any given day. My mission is to personalize each session according to everyone’s unique needs. I also make a point to never take anyone for granted, especially when it comes to my thinking about what their expectations or thoughts might be surrounding each treatment.

I wrote a similar post to this one about 2 years ago, and I thought it might be fruitful to re-post and share these thoughts on realistic expectations of a treatment plan. I share this in order to encourage you to make your experience as a current or future Chinese medicine patient as wonderful and enjoyable as possible.  Please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences!

  • Be patient. Rome was not built in a day and your body did not develop those aches and pains over night. Deep transformation and healing requires a realistic expectation that may take weeks or months to target. Unfortunately we are in a ‚Äúquick fix‚ÄĚ society, so it is often hard to change this mindset. With the right practitioner, each treatment will provide a space of relaxation and forward movement. With time and patience, your body will ¬†readjust, cleanse, heal and feel more and more balanced. The key word is time. Perhaps this is why we are called patients; because we should be practicing patience. ūüôā

 

  • If one practitioner doesn‚Äôt resonate with you, it does not mean the entire medicine doesn‚Äôt resonate with you. ¬†We all have specific needs in life and this is what makes diversity so beautiful. Keep in mind that Chinese medicine practitioners are not one and all the same. We have many different styles and specialties of practicing. Doing your research and asking the appropriate people in your community for a good referral is a great first step (I am always available to help!). If you are unsatisfied for whatever reason after your treatment, see if you can find someone else. ¬†As in any relationship, we have to try things in order to know what is really best for us.
  • ¬†Speak up!¬†If you are uncomfortable in any way, ¬†have any questions or concerns, or have positive feedback, say something! Do you think the treatment room is too cold or too warm? Do you like the music and ambiance? Or, does the needle in your leg feel funny? Whatever might be on your mind, I encourage you to speak up and let your practitioner know. This will only improve the quality of your experiences and help facilitate your body‚Äôs relaxation response for deeper healing. It is empowering to speak up for yourself. This time is all for you, make every moment worthwhile.
  • You are in charge.¬†What this means is that it‚Äôs up to you to take care of yourself in between treatments. The road to health involves medical supervision, but most important, involves a lifestyle change. With a good practitioner, you will be sent home with dietary modifications, exercises, and/or suggestions on mental-emotional support. You are paying for this advice, and it is solely for your benefit.¬†If you have questions, ask. If you need clarification or more recommendations, say so. If something comes up, you can get in touch with your practitioner in between visits. ¬†However, your practitioner is not going to be there by your side each day to see what you are doing, so you need to make a commitment to do your work and show up for yourself each day. Some things come easier than others, and the most important thing in this process is to stay completely open and honest with yourself and your practitioner in order to continue receiving the support you need. You have a¬†safe, judgement-free, healing space provided to serve and work with YOU. Make the best of it, and over time you might just see some incredible transformations. ūüôā

Want to learn more about what I do? Check out my practice website: The Balance Point Acupuncture & Wellness

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Hello friends,

After a 6 month hiatus, my writer’s cap is back on and I’m excited to start posting here more regularly.

So, why 6 long months without an update, you ask? Well, life has been full of changes, transitions, and new beginnings that have required most of my attention and energy. I’ve relocated to Chapel Hill, NC and have since opened a practice, The Balance Point Acupuncture & Wellness, which has been an incredible experience on so many levels. I feel humbled, honored, excited, and full of so much gratitude to finally be at this point in my career to be able to put the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired to action through treatments, workshops, volunteering, and, once again, writing.

I’ve been building a great community here and keeping really busy embracing the Carolina life. In March, I started a year-long yoga teacher training which has done nothing but reaffirm (over and over again) all of the efforts I’ve put into building this journey for myself. So, overall, with its ups and downs, life has been good.

What to expect from here on out:¬†A little less on the “How-To’s” and a little more vulnerability and depth around the health and wellness issues that are prevalent in our day to day lives. Most of my writing inspiration comes from personal experience, and I feel that’s the best place to stay in order to really connect with all of you.

Thank you for all of your support, from near and far. I am forever grateful to have this space to share the inner workings of my mind.

Always,
Colleen ūüôā

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