Finding Balance Even When You Feel Broken

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

by RunJodi

I love going to the movies but I’m really a very hard sell on a movie. It has to be BRILLIANT for me to say it’s good. I’m just tough like that. I want to be moved and inspired. I want to FEEL emotion. Now, granted, not every movie will do that for you but the ‘greats’ will and it’s such a treat when you get to experience that.

I’ve found quotes, stories, videos, photographs and special prayers that have the same ability… they’re powerful. I put them together in a small collection that I’ve labeled ‘LIFE’. I refer to it all the time. I use it when I need a reminder. I go back to it sometimes just to feel whole again and other times just because I enjoy the collection so much.

Collect what you love. In people, in places and in possessions…even if those possessions are scraps of paper with prayers scribbled on them or a note that can link you to a video that can recharge you.

My contribution to this blog today is to give you one of my most favorite motivational videos.  A POWERFUL reminder to trust your heart, follow who you are, find what you love and NEVER GIVE UP!

On a very chilly April morning in Myrtle Beach, SC, my husband and I watched this video on my cell phone. It wasn’t the first time we saw it. It was viewed intentionally as a reminder of the power of the human spirit.  Later that morning, I ran my fastest marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon.

Be inspired💕


Find Your “WHY?”

One’s reality is a result of your Intention and Attention. ~ Jim Palmer

by Jodi

It’s one month to my next birthday – the time of year when I usually do my goal setting work. In the past, my process has looked a bit like this:

1) Take some time to review previous goals I have set
2) Replace any goals I achieved with new goals
3) Revise the plan for any goals that I have not achieved
4) Look at short term, long term and WAY long term goals and make any plan changes or adjustments based on changes in my life

It’s important to have a plan. A plan for what steps you need to take so that you can reach your goals. So you also need to know where you want to end up. That will help you formulate your plan. What is also important is to be flexible with your plan and know that circumstances in life can change. A new job or relationship, illness, injury, or a situational change in your family can force you to alter your plan. After all, the only thing that is truly certain is CHANGE. Have you ever noticed, though, that some goals stay on your radar but never get accomplished? Even if you don’t formally set goals every year and write them down, there always seem to be a few things we always say we want to do but we never quite get around to it. Why is that?

I have a theory. Recently, I have been doing a lot of reading for upcoming continuous education trainings and had a revelation. What I have come to realize is that goals, plans and the way that we deal with the inevitable changes resulting in detours along the way are all subject to something bigger – our Core Values. What is most important to us, deep down in our heart, drives our intentions, actions, decisions and ultimately, our results. So if we are continuing to write down or work towards things that never seem to materialize, perhaps there is a conflict with our deeper rooted life plan. Perhaps getting that promotion we think we want will put us in a position where we have to do things or work with someone that does not fall in line with our sense of integrity. Maybe we think we want to make enough money to buy a big house and expensive car when deep down, we value freedom, spontaneity and simplicity. It could be that the opinions of others, clever marketing or peer pressure have us working towards achievements that have nothing to do with the activities and ideas that make us feel most alive, excited and inspired.

This year, I will be reviewing my values instead of my goals. Instead of working on charting a map to accomplish specific goals, I will determine whether my intentions and actions align with my beliefs. The late Wayne Dyer said, “Our intention creates our reality.”  When we know what we value most in life and allow our decisions to parallel those values, we find a sense of balance and harmony. Our inner compass needs no additional adjustment when its course is set in accordance with our heartfelt desires. Manifesting our dreams becomes inevitable when we live with intention. It becomes infinitely less stressful when life interrupts with events causing our plans to change when we know what we truly value. 

So, my new process will look a little more like this:

1) Determine my core values (check out the list below for some suggestions) 

2) Create a plan guided by my values (CLICK HERE to download your copy

3) Modify goals that do not align with my values 

4) Live intentionally

So if, like me, you have a few things that seem to have taken up permanent residence on your list of goals for the past few years, it might be time to re-evaluate your “Why” to ensure that it is easier to live the answer to “How” and “When”. 



Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon. ~ Charles M. Schulz, Charlie Brown’s Little Book of Wisdom

by Jenn

When we were kids we were expected to take naps every day.  Our parents would set aside time for us to sleep because it was healthy.  Although we fought the control, our bodies needed to rest, to recharge and use that time to reset.  Why, as we become adults, do we feel like we’ve outgrown them?  As a society we almost shun the practice as if it implies we are lazy.  We may even dismiss it as a luxury we feel guilty indulging in, like it is something we could never afford to do because time won’t allow it.  So, why do naps get such a bad rap for adults?

Our country is full of sleep deprived adults burning the candle at both ends.  Keeping ourselves over scheduled and busy and not getting the adequate sleep that we all need.  We are consuming coffee, sugar and energy drinks to push our bodies beyond their natural abilities but at what cost.  Eventually something suffers.  Is it time with our family, is it our work or maybe our bodies?  When I was diagnosed with MS my sleep patterns completely changed.  My overly fatigued body screamed for rest daily and naps became scheduled in conjunction with my child’s naps.  As he got older and outgrew his naps I found that I still required them every day to keep my mind and body functioning.  I felt embarrassed that I needed this rest and felt like no one really understood.  As I researched the topic more I realized that I was in good company.  Many successful people were nappers.   Leonardo da Vinci took multiple naps a day and slept less at night.  Physicist Albert Einstein napped each day—on top of getting ten hours of sleep each night.  Though Thomas Edison was embarrassed about his napping habit, he also practiced his ritual daily.  Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, used to boost her energy by napping before speaking engagements.  President John F. Kennedy ate his lunch in bed and then settled in for a nap—every day! Oil industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller napped every afternoon in his office. President Lyndon B. Johnson took a nap every afternoon at 3:30 p.m. to break his day up into “two shifts.” So if naps are good enough for these fine folks then I can most definitely accept that I need a nap too.

Napping may seem elusive to most but for me it is imperative.  I usually try to squeeze in at least 20 min sometime between 2 and 3 but I shoot for longer if I can get it.  I like to sleep on the couch because I feel more alert when I wake versus my comfy bed.  I also like to have a blanket for comfort and to tell my body it is nap time.  I always set an alarm, just in case, so I feel like I can let go even for just a few moments.

Now I am sure that many of you are reading this saying, “but I have to work; how could I ever nap?”  I can empathize with you but there are definitely ways you can fit in some shut eye too.  Since 2000 or so, researchers at Harvard and elsewhere have conducted dozens of experiments that have shown that sleep improves learning, memory, and creative thinking.  Robert Stickgold, a Harvard sleep researcher, says napping makes people more effective problem solvers. Even catnaps of six minutes (not counting the five minutes it takes to fall asleep on average) have been shown to make a difference in how well people retain information.  So how do you find time at work (and why don’t our bosses provide cots?)?  Use your lunch break.  If you have your own office then bonus but if you don’t work in that kind of environment, try taking a short nap in your car.  Just getting out of the work environment must have benefits of its own but taking 10 or 15 minutes rest in your car gives your body permission to reset and relax.  Set an alarm on your phone and close your eyes.

So why nap?  Well, studies show that naps can not only improve our cognitive functions such as memory, creativity and problem solving but they also help lower rates of cardiovascular disease and inflammation.  It can lower stress and for some people naps can be as restorative as 8 hours of sleep.

Even if you are not a napper then let’s change our opinions about napping.  Let’s embrace napping like the Spanish and the Italians and give it some true thought.  Understanding that the people who are taking naps are not lazy, but they may be the smartest people you know.

Do What You Love, Love What You Do

Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness. ~ Unknown

by Danah

Over the past year I have made a lot of goals, promises and quiet commitments to myself that I haven’t necessarily followed through on. Mostly having to do with forming healthy habits and doing things that make me happy. A lot of the time it’s work or obligations to others that get in the way. When my schedule is full even the fun things that get planned can feel like obligations, and the whole point is missed. It sometimes feels like there is not enough time for the things I want to do because of the things I have to do. I’m sure some of you can relate.
Responsibility is a beautiful thing and being responsible is considered admirable. But in order to stay balanced you have to do the things you love. Make time for yourself.

In practice, I tell my students on the mat to take up time and space. Practicing yoga is a time for each person to fully focus on themselves. Time to develop a healthy mind, body, and spirit, and for those three things to work together in harmony. To relinquish the mental chatter and just be. To enjoy life as it is but also to make time for spontaneity and creativity. 

This is not to say to avoid or abandon responsibility, but rather to put the same effort forth on the things that are required as the things you do for fun. Approaching washing dishes in the same manner we would approach heading to the beach. Adding in the love for life anywhere we can. But most importantly, sneaking guilt-free, time away to the beach. :0)

Finding Balance on the Playground

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.” ~ Friedrich Froebel

by RunJodi

Think back to your childhood. Try to stir up a half dozen happy memories. Chances are, at least one of them involves the playground.
I was lucky enough to live just a few houses down the street from my elementary school and was able to safely walk to the playground to play with my other neighborhood friends. We don’t think twice about ‘not’ being able to just walk up, or RUN up to a playground and PLAY!
Unless you have a special need/disability. We know that the number of youth ages 3-21 receiving special education services was 6.5 million in the year 2014. That’s about 13% of all public school students. Of that population, more than half are challenged when faced with a playground, yet most playgrounds are not wheelchair or special needs accommodating.

Children learn about feelings of belonging, acceptance, and rejection at an early age at the playground, although it might just seem like a place for ‘play’… a lot more, developmentally, goes on there.
In 2010,The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for accessible design requires that all playgrounds be designed and constructed in such a manner that the equipment is readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities. A great step in the right direction! But what we do with existing playgrounds? ….The ‘I Run 4’ family has found a solution…..
‘I Run for Michael’ began on facebook. A page that brings people together. Runners sign up to be matched with a ‘buddy’ and exceptional needs individuals sign up to be matched with a ‘runner’ … The runner dedicates their miles to their ‘buddy’ and raises awareness for the special needs community. With more than 40,000 family members on this page, we knew a movement was on the horizon.

Playgrounds that allow children to feel like they belong, despite their differences.
Playgrounds that open more possibilities for exceptional need parents and grandparents enabling them to play with their children or grandchildren at the park.
Playgrounds that everyone can walk up to with no fear of inability.
The project has begun. The committee chosen and plans are being made. Of course this is the first step in what will prove to be a marathon. Our first stop…. Pensacola, FL. One town at a time, covering the map. Our goal is for no child to be left out. Every adult deserves playground memories.

Do you have a talent or trade you would like to share in this endeavor?
Would you like to share the message or donate?
Would you like to follow our journey?
Would you like to see an example of a playground where everyone is included?
Owen’s playground:

The I Run 4 Playground Project, Play 4 All.
Run Jodi
I run 4 River

Why Should I Do Yoga?

Yoga is not about self-improvement. It’s about self-acceptance. ~ Gurmukh

by Jodi

Before yoga, I really did not understand what it felt like to belong, to be wholly and completely accepted. Now, I can hear you thinking, “Do I have to twist myself up into a pretzel to feel acceptance?” The answer is an overwhelming, “NO – absolutely not!” But not for the reason you might think. You see, here in the western world, we know of yoga as a class where it’s WAY too hot and bendy people often contort themselves into positions that defy basic anatomical principles and photograph said positions to elevate themselves to Instagram royalty.

Full Disclosure: I love Instagram and I love looking at some of the amazing yoga pics but I know that this type posing is just one small slice of the big, beautiful, life-affirming yoga pie.

The fact is that Asana, the Sanskrit word for the physical postures of yoga, is only one of eight limbs of the yogic path and in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (which serves as the definitive text of the origin of yoga) asana is only mentioned briefly less than a handful of times. So if yoga is not those crazy, flexibility-on-steroids photos, what exactly IS yoga and why has it become so mainstream in our modern world?

To explain yoga, it is common to use the symbolism of a tree with eight separate branches depicting the eight limbs of yoga. 

As the above photo illustrates, there are a vast array of mental, emotional and spiritual aspects to traveling the path of a yogi. The first & second limbs of Yamas & Niyamas are likened to the leaves of the tree. Comprising of ways of respectfully treating others: Ahimsa (non-harming), Satya (truthful), Asteya (non-stealing), Bramhacharya (abstinence from energy depleting behaviors), Aparigraha (releasing greed and letting go of excess) and ways of respectfully treating ourselves: Saucha (practicing cleanliness in words, deeds and behaviors), Santosha (finding contentment by remaining in the present moment), Tapas (engaging in self disciplinary practices), Svadyaya (studying the self to encourage continuous growth), Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to the idea of a power greater than the individual) these ethical and behavioral guidelines provide a framework for establishing the foundation of a grounded existence connecting us with one another and a divine presence of our own definition. In this way, yoga aligns itself with every religious tradition as well as providing a foundation for those espousing traditional religion and instead favoring the idea of a Universal consciousness. 

After the examination of our relationship with ourselves and others, the yogic path takes us on a healing journey by providing methods to balance our autonomic nervous system. Pranayama is the Sanskrit term which means both breath and life energy and the breathing practices taught in the tradition of yoga use the breath as a way to soothe the nervous system resulting in a release of the stress response and retreat into the relaxation response. There are a wide variety of breath practices designed to balance, release or stimulate the body depending upon what we most need to return to optimal health. Different systems of yoga utilize Pranayama either by itself or in conjunction with Asana, the physical postures of yoga and the fourth limb on the path of yoga.

Meditation is the invaluable gift that the East has given to the West represented as Dhyana in our eight-limbed yoga tree. From the 19th century when Swami Vivekananda attended the Parliament of the World’s religions in 1893 to the 1920’s when Paramahansa Yogananda introduced the idea of meditation and yogic philosophy to the International Congress of Relgious Liberals to the 1967 when the Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and then brought Transcendental Meditation into public consciousness, meditation has been slowly but steadily growing as a means of health, wellness and connectedness for the general public. Our modern day society has seen a rise in medical practitioners like Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. David Frawley, Dr. Timothy McCall and many other doctors exploring the healing benefits that meditation can provide for patients suffering from a wide array of maladies from high blood pressure to cancer to infertility to back pain and everything in between. In addition, scientists have begun studying and documenting the effectiveness of eastern medical concepts such as meditation and pranayama.

Another invaluable tool in our modern society of complete, constant electronic connectivity is Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to have time for stillness, to disconnect from the frenzied pace that our lives have become. Without gifting ourselves with some downtime, we can easily find ourselves living to work instead of working to live. This withdrawal can be undertaken daily, through a few moments set aside for breathing practices or during Savasana which is that quiet end to our yoga practice where we lie down and simply breathe. We don’t actually need to wait until vacation to stop, unplug and unwind – we can, and we should, do this for at least a few minutes for ourselves every day.

Once we have begun to incorporate the first six limbs of yoga, the last two limbs occur effortlessly. Dharana is the sharpened awareness that naturally occurs when we are enjoying regular practices that reduce our stress levels, relax our minds, remove tension from our bodies and let the energetic life force flow uninhibited through our bodies. We begin to focus on each and every moment and live fully and completely with each breath we take.

Over time, this harmonious balance between body, mind and soul manifests in returning to our natural inborn state of bliss or Samadhi. We use the seven preceding limbs to remove obstacles and illuminate our path. And it is here, that the idea of belonging and acceptance come into play. We are all seeking the same thing – the most peaceful, enlightened, connected version of ourselves. To find that higher self, however, there are many different routes we can choose. We can choose a limb and begin to learn more about who we are and how we interact with the world around us. What we eventually learn is that we are perfectly imperfect and on the journey to be our best self, we find the jewel of self-acceptance. Take the trip yourself by choosing a limb and beginning to go a little deeper inside. You will learn so very much to surprise, delight and empower you. 

Do It While You Can

If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of. ~ Bruce Lee

Last August, my grandmother died. I knew at age 42 I was incredibly blessed to have four grandparents still around but it didn’t make her death any easier for me. She was my one of my favorites and she taught me so much about life. I still think of her often and my husband and I throw around her quotes all the time, keeping her memory alive. Something she used to tell us all the time was, “do it while you can.” This came from a sassy woman who traveled the world with the love of her life, drinking beer and having fun. Into her late 80’s things got harder for them and it was a constant reminder to her that she could no longer live that life. She also knew that she had lived a very full life and encouraged us to do the same.

As she spoke those words over and over I used to think it was cute. We would joke about it later and even spoke of making funny shirts with her quotes on them. It wasn’t until recently that I really thought about what those words mean to me. As I am getting older I have been thinking about my life and how fast everything seems to be going. I had so many dreams and goals that have gone by the wayside and forgotten about. I always thought there would be time later, after my child got a little older, when I wasn’t so busy or when I had more money. That’s the problem, you always think you have more time and time is fleeting. If we are all waiting until we have more time or money it seems we will wish we hadn’t waited so long.

This has been on my mind of late because my son is literally growing up before my eyes. I swear he was shorter than me yesterday and clearly he is taller than me today. How has this happened? Where has my little boy disappeared to and how do I slow this current young man down? Do it while you can, do it while you can, do it while you can – the words are ringing in my mind. Did I do it while I could? Have I spent the last 12 years with him giving him what he needed? Have I done for myself what I needed??? I thought about it for a moment and then I decided it doesn’t matter now because I can’t go back. I can’t undo the past I may have wasted and worrying about it now is nonsense. I can’t undo that show I had to watch instead of playing Legos or the phone call I had to make instead of helping him with his homework but I CAN do things now. I can listen, laugh and play with him while I still can. I want to focus my attention back on what is important. I’ve heard people say, “where your attention goes, energy flows” and I want to make sure I enjoy every minute with him before he leaves for college (wow, only 6 more years!). It also makes me want to share my goals and passions with him and maybe share with him a little piece of me.

It’s funny to think about the things in my life that once were goals and hobbies and see how they have morphed and evolved, changing as I have aged and some even disappearing. I am not sure how time wasting started but somewhere along the way all of this technology became my outlet instead of my old hobbies. I think many Moms, or any caregivers for that matter, feel guilty doing things they love when they are supposed to be caring for someone else. Moms feel responsible for taking care of everyone and doing so much for others that they forget to take care of themselves. That’s where the computer or phone come into the picture. It is always there and it seems harmless to “kill some time” when you aren’t busy. The problem is when you go to check email and 3 hours later you realize you have been sucked into world wide web oblivion. It didn’t seem like there was enough time for the things you loved doing but then you waste your time on things that don’t matter or even make you feel good. I don’t know where it became so skewed for me but I know it has been a big time suck in my life. So what have I missed out on? Enjoying the little things that were once my passion. My love for travel has always been there and I have been lucky to have shared much of that with my husband and son. I have a love for painting that has become one of those if I had more time hobbies that I would love to renew. I have noticed my son’s new interest in photography and it reminds me of a time when that was so important to me. I see all of these things as time I could be sharing with my family and also return to a passion I once had. I am sick of wasting time on Facebook, on Pinterest, binge watching TV and anything else that doesn’t serve a true purpose in my life. I need to shut down the technology and go back to the basics.

In my grandmother’s words, “do it while you can” and don’t let your life slip away from you while you aren’t looking. You can wait for more money or more time but you may wait your whole life for it. I want to turn 90 years old like Kaye and say that I too lived a very full life and that I did everything I could. Carpe Diem my friends, seize the day, it is never too late to start living your dreams. Live, love and laugh more. Start living a life of purpose instead of floating through life without paying attention because one day you’ll wonder where all the time went. I will do more than just smell the roses from now on. I will plant the roses, nurture the roses, smell the roses and then I will bring the roses to a friend. I will live like Kaye.

Kathryn (Kaye) Cassidy

October 29, 1925 – August 10, 2016

Finding Balance On and Off the Slopes

Big achievements come one small advantage at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time. ~ Jim Rohn

by Danah 

I recently went skiing with my husbands family. I have only been on the slopes twice before this trip. Now, my husband and I are active and the first two trips we picked up a fairly good technique and got to the point that we can make it through the day with only one or two face plants in the snow.

This last trip was a long one and we got plenty of practice. But the first two days I found myself getting on the trail and trying to slow way down, being overly cautious and trying my best not to lose control. I was worried and the aftermath of a fall is fairly unpleasant, not to mention the fall itself and having to begin again, sometimes from an uncomfortable point on the trail. I found that the more I exerted control the more tired my legs became. The slower I tried to make things the more I would panic when I picked up speed. I literally began having heart racing, body trembling panic attacks right on the slopes. I lost faith in my ability to ski and by the end of the second day, sat in tears in my room wondering how I would go for another 4 days of being left by myself, or worse, holding everyone else back.

The thought process was a downward spiral. But on day 3, while skiing with my husband’s aunt, she said, “just remember, take it one turn at a time. Your turns slow you down naturally.” With a few other pointers I began to focus on my turns and once I got into a rhythm, my confidence grew and I was able to keep up (for the most part) for the remainder of the trip, sometimes wanting to stay out longer than the others. It was a very positive experience and a process that brought me back to a few things to remember.

When I got back from the trip, work was not easy. I found myself again trying to do everything slowly and methodically. Deadlines were piling up, and I started losing confidence. The panic attacks set in, and it all came back to me. “One turn at a time.” I started to look at my overwhelming workload in manageable pieces. The confidence returned and I found it was easier to breathe and focus on the hat I had to accomplish. Remember this, first, fear does us no good and worry is fear that hasn’t grown up yet.

Take it one turn at a time, or step, or accomplishment. We can’t expect to be perfect all of the time. Especially when learning new skills. Whether it’s physical, academic, or work related. Use the skills you have, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. When we fall, we get back up and sometimes we’ll find that falling teaches us a lesson. Instead of getting up with fear of falling again, we can get up with a new perspective and a little pep talk.

Staying in each moment with our whole self, and facing what is before us truthfully, rather than with the stories we tell ourselves that limit our potential. We have resources in all we do, we just need to seek them out and use the knowledge or advice they have to provide, especially when we have a whole mountain ahead of us.

Finding Balance in Mid Air

You can’t always wait for the perfect time, sometimes you must dare to jump! ~ Unknown

by Jumpin’ Jodi AKA RunJodi

Several years ago I was traveling to Queens, New York from Florida to run a 13.1 race event. The trip there turned out to be very complicated with a flight change, a flight delay, lost and then found luggage and a pretty scary bus ride. When I finally made it to my destination hotel and opened my room door, I was so happy that I put down all of my belongings and jumped up and down on the hotel bed. Gene grabbed the camera and got a shot of me in the air! Jumping erased all of my frustrations from the trip and I found myself instantly VERY happy.

Since that day, I’ve spent more time airborne than on the ground.  I’ve jumped across race finish lines. I’ve jumped with family and friends. I’ve jumped solo and in groups. I’ve jumped at parties and I’ve even jumped on my wedding day in my beautiful white dress.

I recently decided to do a little research and come to find out, jumping is very good for you!  Global studies show people are sitting at least 7.7 hours each dayaverage… One way to offset the effects of prolonged sitting is… Jumping!   The American Journal of health promotion claims jumping 10 times a day twice a day provides greater bone building benefits than running or jogging. No, I’m not suggesting you throw away your running shoes but…

The study monitored 60 women ages 25 to 50 who increased their hip bone mineral density after four months by .5%. They jumped 10 times, twice a day and taking short breaks (30 seconds, between each jump). Doesn’t sound like a lot of gain? Consider this: the control group LOST about 1.3% of their bone density over the same period of time!

Jumping doesn’t require a special box or shoes or pads… And you don’t have to do it on a bed!  Another recent study published in the American Journal of Health documented that jumping 20 times a day will have a significant impact on your risk of osteoporosis. After just eight weeks, researchers found a demonstrable change in bone mineral density in their subjects.

Reasons to jump:
Decrease risk of osteoporosis
Cardiovascular benefits
Increased strength in your legs and core
Improvement in mental health
Improved mental outlook from increased blood flow to the brain
Increased resistance to fatigue
Positive impact on your immune system

Ways to Jump:
Twist jumps, straight jumps, jumping jacks, lateral skiing (side to side)
Rebounding on a mini trampoline

I’m sure you all remember jumping up-and-down on the bed when you were younger… Now is the time to channel that inner child, have fun and improve your health at the same time!
And don’t forget to take a picture!

Choosing Your Tribe

Do not bring people into your life who weigh you down.  And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good.  They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourself with. ~ Michelle Obama

This year I decided to devote some energy to developing self-love. And I began to look around and see all the directions from which love is coming to me. What I have learned is that there are so many different kinds of love. And the fact is we need them all. We need all different kinds of love in our lives and it takes more than one person to give us all the kinds that we need. Of course we start with ourselves, giving ourselves love and respect and showing others how we want to be treated. We also need unconditional love. The kind our parents (hopefully)gave to us. Because when we have someone who believes in us 100%, it helps us to believe too. Having unconditional support and love is essential to accomplishing all of our goals and helping make our dreams come true.

But there’s another kind of love it’s also important to have in our life. That’s the kind that pushes us beyond where we are comfortable, doesn’t take no for an answer and gets in our face when we start to feel sorry for ourselves. Life isn’t always easy and things won’t always go our way so we need to develop the skills to deal with sadness, failure and disappointment. Although it doesn’t feel as warm and cozy, this tougher version of love is also essential to our growth.

When we are young, our parents usually wear both hats providing us with unconditional love and giving us the necessary push to try new things, fail, succeed, learn and grow. Once we leave home, though, we need to take the time and make the effort to seek out those who provide us both kinds of love. Usually, our social circle provides the unconditional support of good friends and the person we choose to share our life with is another wonderful cheerleader to help us maintain faith in ourselves.

Where do we look, though, for the tough love as an adult? And what exactly are we looking for? A great place to start is by taking an honest inventory of ourselves – deciding if there are things about us we would like to change or skills that we want to acquire. Perhaps we want to be in a different place career-wise, in terms of our relationship or with respect to our health. Once we decide what area of our life we would like to focus on, it’s much easier to locate the appropriate person to help us plan, execute and successfully achieve our goal.

When seeking a career advancement or complete job change, the best place to find a mentor is by looking at someone who has achieved what we aspire to and asking them to guide us or to refer us to someone who helped them on their path. If our relationships are the area of our focus, finding someone to help us understand how others see us and helping us to narrow down the kinds of people we want in our life can be done with the assistance of a therapist, a life coach, a spiritual counselor (like a clergyman), a behavioralist or through self study. Turning to self-help books, religious texts or philosophical writing can be a source of both comfort and wisdom.

If we are looking to make ourselves healthier, it can help to join a group for weight loss support, participate in a group fitness class or even hire a nutritionist or personal trainer. Even choosing an accountability buddy to meet at classes or do meal prep with can help us to stay on track. The level of change you are seeking can help you determine the intensity of the person who will be challenging you and helping you to step up your game. If your diet is a disaster, you may need a complete overhaul of your eating habits with the help of a nutritionist or even a doctor or homeopathic practitioner. If you cannot seem to get yourself to the gym or to an exercise class, hiring a personal trainer or paying for a month long boot camp might be the best way to find some much needed motivation.

Look around at the people in your life – do they help you to live with more enjoyment? Does their presence add value to your life? And while you are asking tough questions, are you offering support and enriching the lives of those around you? If there is not a healthy exchange of consideration, support and respect in all of our relationships then perhaps it is time to make some changes for all parties concerned. Take the time to really look at the people in your life and make the changes that will help you transform into the person you want to be.