Opening Up About My Experience in Relationships

This morning I woke up feeling shitty.
Migraine and broken hearted.
Not just over my most recent split, but all of them.
There is a voice in me saying – come clean.
You’ve hidden all of this for far too long to keep it up and put on a brave face.
My heart is full of scars that have not fully healed and it’s coming to a head.

All of it.
The men. The relationships.
The stories I’ve clung to that have built up resentment.
The roles I not only played but also identified with.

Whenever a relationship took a turn for the worse, I’d turn to food or controlling my appearance somehow [running, over-exercising, or dieting].
I focused on: how do I control?
Instead of: How do I leave room to heal?
It was always brush it under the rug.
Drop them. Drop him.
Let him go.

Well, I did let him go. Every time.
Maybe a little too much.
I moved right on to the next one. Without a second thought.

But the residual pain clung tightly – wrapped around my heart.
Tighter and tighter as time passed.

And it brings me to right now.
Piles of relationships and breakups never fully processed.
All of the pain is coming to the surface.

I bounce from one memory to the next in my dreams and in meditation.
Uncovering decisions I make now that are based on past experiences.
Not always proud of the way I treated people.
Often wishing I’d let myself be single and process.
And witnessing the shame I feel about not processing these break-ups the “right way.”

Now I’m processing them in my way.
On my terms.
In my own time.
I’m giving these experiences the attention they deserved.
Maybe they should have received this attention years ago.
But I’m here now and doing the best I can.

I’m grateful that something in my last relationship called this to my attention.
Maybe because of the mild depression I felt in the springtime.
A clear indication that there was pain that had not been dealt with.
Maybe because I started finding my voice and stepping into my power.
For the first time clearly articulating my deepest desires.

This is not easy stuff to share.
The easy way would be to brush it under the rug and keep the notes in my journal and tell the world “I’m fine.”
The more difficult path is doing this: share.
Share and tell my truth.
Stop withholding from the world and from myself.

Because … Why on earth would we ever cover up any parts of ourselves?

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Caring for the cracks in my heart

Sometimes I feel like I just keep banging my head against the wall.

I make the same mistake over and over again and wonder how many times until I get it?

Until I stop?

Until something changes?

Maybe the change has to first be my mindset.

Where I understand the mistakes to take on a new meaning.

These mistakes are actually lessons.

The lessons test, and often break, my heart.

And in the end they make me more resilient.

My recovery time gets shorter.

Maybe they are lessons to grieve past trauma I’ve buried deep.

Because we can’t truly heal unless we go through a grieving process…

Unless we feel all the feels.

Process all the things.

And digest.

Assimilate.

The heart gets cracked open each time I am vulnerable.

And the way to mend the cracks [and make them stronger] is through love and taking care of myself.

It is in this way that I can be of service to those closest to me and to this world.

If I don’t tend to and care for the cracks, I cannot serve from a place of deep love and compassion.

I know I’m here to serve, so I’m going to continue caring for the cracks.

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This is hard to share… [But allows me to step into my power]

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I hate what I see.

Like when I’m naked after a shower. I’ll wonder why I wasn’t born with perfectly toned arms. And why did god give me such soft cushioning around my hips?

Thankfully this is the exception now rather than the rule.

I consider it residue from my eating disorder.

I consider it residue from years of hating and bashing my own body.

For as long as I can remember {we are talking 5 years old here} I’ve been aware of my little belly – this little pooch – and was obsessed with “how do I get rid of it?”

Before I understood how a woman got pregnant, there was a time when I’d worry my belly contained a baby in it. {Maybe only 9 years old at this point.} I felt relieved for a while, knowing it would probably just go away.

When I learned what crunches were and that they’d give me washboard abs like the women on MTV’s Spring Break, I counted crunches. And then always wondered why nothing was changing…

I snuck cookies from the cookie jar and then felt overwhelmed by immense guilt and tried to eat more carrot and celery sticks to make up for it. Especially since I learned you burned more calories chewing celery than you could consume from them … something like that…
One of the only full length mirrors in our house growing up was in my parent’s bathroom and I vividly remember tracking my progress. Standing sideways as I looked in the mirror, flattening my tummy until I achieved the look I was going for. Flat as a pancake.

I was determined to one day get there.

So determined that my negative body image and horrible relationship to food spiraled into a full on eating disorder in college. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be sticking my finger down my throat, making myself puke into a dorm room toilet. I did this for years and one day someone told me “take it one day at a time” – after this I was on the path to recovery.

It took a while and many ups and downs and exploration of self. And more pain. But once I jumped on the path I have never looked back. I only see glimpses of the residue my eating disorder left behind. The moments when I look in the mirror and for a second step out of my power.

And now when I sit down with other women who tell me they too had an eating disorder and that THEY TOO hid it from most people closest to them my heart simultaneously aches AND feels joy.

I ache for the fact that they went through the pain alone. They blamed themselves for everything. They sought control through food and exercise.

The joy comes from knowing the relief that accompanies sharing. When we share our stories of struggle, grief, and pain we unburden ourselves of shame.

It’s because I let go of shame about my body that I can stand in front of myself in the mirror and say “hell yeah!” to my body. I can embrace my little belly and the cushion around my hips.

So what’s your body image story? What are you carrying with you that is creating blocks from seeing your own light? From saying “HELL YEAH!”?

If you feel like sharing, I have time this week and would love to listen and guide you toward releasing body shame. Click below to set up your free discovery call.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

Here’s to stepping into your power,

Maggie

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It’s OK To Want These Things… {Just Please Be Kind}

It’s OK if you want to lose weight…

So long as you do it from a place of loving yourself. Where you are losing weight primarily for your health and to look great because you know you deserve it. You’ve gotta accept yourself as you are first for the real change and growing to occur. Otherwise you’ll always feel like you’re not enough.

It’s OK if you want to get in great shape…

Because you want to show your body how much you honor it instead of punish it. And because of you – no one else: no man, woman, or group in society can tell you how you are supposed to look. Get in great shape for YOU and you alone.

It’s OK if you want to lay off carbs, alcohol, or sugar for a while…

But be sure you are not depriving yourself of enjoying the things you love. Be sure this is not a way to torture yourself because you feel you’ve done something “bad.”

It’s OK if you want to exercise daily…

Just know that when you move mindfully, this can have a powerful impact on your body and your energetic vibration. And when we exercise out of obligation, we end up feeling worse – physically and spiritually. Please make exercise a practice about loving your body not hating it.

It’s OK if you feel crappy about how you look sometimes…

We all have our moments. But remember to source your inner power. Remember a time you were strong and made it through something. Re-live it. Feel it all over again. You’ll be amazed at how powerful and beautiful it makes you feel.

I share these thoughts with you because, I know we all need a little nudge sometimes. We all need reminders to lift ourselves up. And sometimes, often times, we do need accountability and support from one another. If you’d like to chat this week, click the link below to set up your free discovery call.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

 

 

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When things don’t go the way you want…

On the way to meditation this morning, I got a flat tire. And a wake-up call.

I left my house expecting “create more calm” and ended up having a scattered, stressful morning.

Just as I turned into the parking lot I heard a loud pop and felt the tire go out.

I had enough time to pull into a parking spot and dig in my bag for my Triple A card. I started to dial.

I needed to get this fixed. I believed:

-I was being punished.
-I had done something wrong (like eat flatbread the night before) to deserve this.
-This horrible, frustrating thing was happening TO me.

It took a moment but I put my phone down. Left my car with the flat tire in the parking lot, and walked into meditation.

The meditation was all about how powerful it is to STAY. Especially when we are in an uncomfortable situation.

The flat tire was a perfect example. I stayed.

My first reaction to the flat tire related back to my belief of: “I am always in trouble.” Here I was doing penance for my bad actions:

-Eating a “bad” food
-Getting softer around my midsection
-Not being as diligent with my exercise schedule lately or…
-Not being as kind as I could have when breaking up with an ex-boyfriend

I noticed this belief of always being in trouble { I’m in the process of shifting} reared it’s ugly head when I got a flat tire.

It hit me: the flat tire was NOT the universe’s way of punishing me.

Instead it was the universe’s way of teaching me how to stay, stop, and slow down. And see things for what they really are:

-Just a flat tire.
-Just a decadent meal.
-Just doing my best in a break-up.

These things are neither good nor bad. They simply are.

The fact that I’ve gained a bit more softness to my figure lately has nothing to do with how good or bad I am. It has nothing to do with my self-worth!

So … I stepped into this morning expecting calm, cool, and serenity.

And what I got was a jolt.

I got another wake-up call to keep building the muscle of body love and body awareness.

This morning did not go the way I wanted. It was uncomfortable, frustrating, and scattered. But as I waded through the messy morning muck, I stumbled upon a clearing, and a deeper connection with my deeper self.

My higher self, being, soul … ached because I was judging my evolving body. My soul needed love and compassion. So I gave it just that, went home, and entered back into my meditation.

So you see, when you go through a hard time – whether it be a flat tire or a life changing event – there is always, ALWAYS, a breakthrough on the other side.

And it’s in these instances where we must remember:

You are not being punished.

These instances give us opportunity to dig up what no longer serves us and make space for new:

-love
-growth
-awareness
-dreams

You must get out there and STAY when things get uncomfortable or messy or scattered. There is so much power in our ability to stay.

It can be hard to stay and often we need support when life feels messy. I’d love to chat with you to show you how.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

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Finding Daisy

Yesterday my dog Daisy tried to run away. She ran away. She ran so fast out of my friends driveway. I watched her dart into the busy street. Barely escaping a truck. And up the hill and then – she was completely out of sight. And there I was – sprinting in Birkenstocks up the giant hill. As if running would help. But my mind was racing. Going to all the worst possible outcomes. I didn’t even need to go to the worst possible outcomes – I was living it. I was waiting to wake up from this nightmare. I lost my beloved dog that I JUST rescued. All the plans I had for us raced through my mind. My heart crushed at the thought of never finding her again. 

My friend swept me up in her minivan and we drove circles around the neighborhood – asking every pedestrian “have you seen a little dog?!?!” Desperation and fear held tight around my heart. After some time and now feeling more defeated I thought to look around one of her favorite spots – the little dog park near my apartment. I ran up there and into the woods surrounding it. Didn’t think twice about the poison ivy I was traipsing through. I called her name as sweat dribbled down my face and into my mouth. No sign of her. I was beside myself – again that feeling of when does this nightmare end – and I started to walk back. 

A woman saw me and said if I was looking for a dog she saw it run up toward the park. Immediately I turned around and went back to the same spot. I called Daisy’s name. I waited. I got quiet. I was going to find her. I could feel her presence near me. I knew this wasn’t the end of our journey together. I called her name again and thought I heard the jingling of her collar. To be sure, I called again, got quiet, and listened… 

Yes – it was her collar. I crouched down and stayed in one spot until I saw her coming up over a rock. About 40 feet away from me. This was it – I knew I had this one chance to get a second chance with Daisy. Stay stay stay – I told myself. I talked the sweet sing song talk to Daisy and she slowly stumbled toward me. She was limping but here she was just an arms length from me. All of the fear of losing her started to melt away as I slowly wrapped my fingers around her collar, took a deep breath, and swooped her up in my arms. 

We walked down the hill where there was a shaded clearing and I put her down and sat as I collected myself and told her how much I loved her and more sing song tones. I was given a second chance and I couldn’t fucking believe it. She ran all the way home. My dog ran home – to our spot! My heart swelled with joy and still is and probably will continue to do so for as long as Daisy is in my life. 

And so when I pulled this card this morning – it took me back to that big deep breath in the woods when I found Daisy. When I wrapped my fingers around her collar. A feeling of – Peace Peace Peace. There is no need to worry right now. Everything worked out beautifully.

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Why I’m Glad I Stayed…

Yesterday I had one of those days…
I went to my friend’s magical island.
I didn’t have my phone because it crashed that morning.
What I did have was a swimsuit, a dog, and a willingness to receive the day.
I felt groggy and had a headache from too much wine the night before.
My heart knew though, I needed the island and the friends there.
I needed to say fuck it to getting my cell phone set up in time.
Of course the normal panic of “what if so-and-so tries to contact me?”
I even went through all the texts I would miss out on that day.
The missed opportunities to post on Instagram and Facebook.
Missed opportunities to check in on what my friends were doing.
I made an intention to surrender.
I surrendered to feeling naked without my phone.
I surrendered to cherishing time with my dog and the people around me.
I am an introvert so after paddling and hanging poolside with the group, a little panic started setting in…
I immediately wanted to jump off the island and swim to shore, to my car, and go home.
But I couldn’t. For one I had a dog. And two … all my stuff?
My body felt tired and creaky and in need of rest and space and alone.
Alone, alone, alone.
I just wanted some time alone. I felt it deeply.
I meandered up the path to the tea house on the hill.
Perfect: yoga mats were draped over the porch banister of the tea house.
I took one and set it down on the floor.
Daisy the dog circled around the porch, watching birds and passersby on sailboats.
I liked to think she was also keeping watch, for me.
Bikini-clad, I felt the breeze against my skin.
I began to move in a way that felt natural to my body in that moment.
I moved, I sat, I breathed, I moved, I sat some more.
Daisy came and went, licked my feet when I sat.
Finally, after who knows how much time had passed, I laid down.
I draped my sarong over my shoulders and torso, unfurled my arms and hands by my sides, and gently closed my eyes.
I slipped into sweet slumber while the sounds of Daisy’s pitter patter on the porch and the chirping of birds lulled me in and out of this state.
I heard the motor of a boat every so often.
It didn’t bother me.
I welcomed it.
Here I was – so free.
No one knew where I was. No one could reach me. No one could find me.
No one, except the two little girls on the island that day.
They were 3 and 5.
I started feeling the thump thump of their running feet coming up the stairs of the tea house.
One of them squealed with delight: “Oh it’s Daisyyyyy!”
And I was tickled with delight to be brought out of my slumber by such dreamy innocence.
So I stayed.
I stayed on the island when my introvert-self screamed to get out and hide and be alone.
It’s like what we learn in meditation: when we stay, the real work occurs.
When we stay, we allow the softening to happen.
When we stay, we are more able to receive each moment as a gift.
AND when I stayed I got to go for a sunset sail with friends and Daisy.
I’m so glad I stayed.

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Thank you yoga, Thank you teachers.

It’s International Day of Yoga. My friend reminded me last week with a little nudge, nudge and soft encouragement that maybe I should do something for it.

 

I don’t have any special class or event planned and I’m hoping I’ll make it to class tonight or even to my mat to move a little and meditate. But what I will do, what I will honor is what this practice has done for me. And what I have been able to do for myself by way of my yoga practice.

 

I used to squeeze my thighs so hard to try to get them to look more stick-like. I’d pinch my belly fat and imagine how much better my life would be if I could just cut it off. I calculated every calorie going into my body and how each calorie (and then some) would go out. My mind was consumed and I was completely obsessed. My obsession with food and how I could control my body took over my life.

 

Yoga sandwiched my eating disorder. My practice began when I was 16 and my eating disorder was full throttle around 19 – so I was practicing yoga all through my disorder. But what I know now is that during a lot of that time, I wasn’t really practicing. I was going through the motions of yoga. Showing up, rolling out my mat, bowing my head and saying namaste at the end of class. I nailed poses ease because I’m fairly strong and fairly flexible and have always had great proprioception. What I wasn’t doing though was connecting. I was completely disassociating from my body and for a while there, I was using yoga as just another form of exercise to burn off those calories.

 

This all shifted when I found a small studio in Bloomington, Indiana and a teacher by the name of Wendy. I didn’t even know what style of yoga we were practicing (turns out it was astanga) add to be honest I can’t tell you a whole lot of the asana that I learned – but what stays with me to this day is the feeling of entering into a safe space. It was always quiet when I walked into the building, up the stairs and turned the corner. Everyone spoke with a hushed tone as we set up our mats and gathered our props. The space and the time was sacred.

 

Wendy didn’t tell me how or what to feel. She instead created opportunity for me to feel. I kept returning to her classes, as often as I could fit them into my schedule and budget. It was in this space that I remember looking at thighs and bursting into tears because for the first time I saw them as something other than “too big.” My thighs, for the first time ever, were strong and beautiful and amazing.

 

I came home to my body for what felt like the first time. That was inner peace. That was my invitation to heal and no longer allow myself to stray and disassociate from my body and being.

This was the tip of the iceberg and there have been many more teachers since then who helped facilitate my healing – and still do to this day. So, I can’t stress this enough but  … Thank you teachers.

 

IMG_9114On this international day of yoga I also want to acknowledge the practice for what it has brought me – healing and inner peace. Eating disorder recovery is not a one and done deal. It takes time and it too is a part of my practice: staying the course, staying connected, noticing when I get triggered, and repatterning my responses.

 

Thank you yoga.

 

I would love to hear from you: How has yoga impacted your life? Whether you just recently got your feet wet or are a long-time practitioner – what have you noticed?

 

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Finding Freedom in Forgiveness

It was not until recently that I noticed I have been holding onto a lot of pain, anger, guilt, and resentment from past relationships. Going back as far as high school, I’ve been storing all of these emotions in their respective boxes on shelves in my brain and tucked away in my heart.

 

Relationships, I am FINALLY beginning to understand, have a much bigger impact on our hearts and psyches than I ever gave them credit for. When we enter into relationships, we open our hearts, make ourselves vulnerable, and hope for the best. And it is impossible to avoid uncomfortable feelings if we want to have honest and authentic relationships.

 

I see old patterns play out in my current relationship, in dynamics with friends, and even in work. It’s the quintessential definition of “living in the past.” I hold onto limiting beliefs about myself and the way others perceive me based on stories from my past.

 

I never gave (most of) these relationships – their start, middle, and end – the attention they deserved. Especially the end. I have always had a lot of pride in my ability to recover quickly from a breakup – as if moving on to the next person (a new boyfriend) or thing (a triathlon) were the ultimate example of resilience.

 

What I’m coming to terms with is this: My pattern of brushing unexpressed emotions under the rug is not resilient and it certainly is not forgiveness.

 

It is a relief to finally understand the importance of forgiveness – to not only forgive the men I have been in relationship with (or friends I have let drift out of my life) but to also forgive myself for behaviors I am not proud of because I now KNOW these behaviors do not define me.

 

Forgiveness, it turns out, has almost nothing to do with the person you are forgiving and almost everything to do with you. When I forgive someone, I allow myself to acknowledge how I feel AND release myself from that feeling. And often the forgiveness, I’m noticing, is not about something someone did maliciously. Often I need to forgive someone for making a simple choice that had nothing to do with me.

 

This practice of forgiveness is not limited to romantic relationships – I recognize it’s going to be a lifelong practice and commitment. For now though, the light shines on the relationships that have shaped so much of the last 15 years of my life – since I was 17 I have been in and out of relationships. And I don’t regret it for a second but I have been on cruise-control. I let things slip through the cracks and did not do the full work of building my emotional resilience and allowing myself to really go deep. To be uncomfortable and really feel the pain, anger, and sorrow and to release myself from the grasp of guilt, or worse, of shame.

 

The thing is, if I don’t go through this process and forgive and forgive and let go and release, then I am not being true to myself and I am not making space for any current or new relationship in my life – romantic or otherwise – to really take flight and reach new heights. Sweeping old pain under the rug is limiting and emotionally paralyzing. It is living in a fear state.

 

My boyfriend drew the connection between what I’m going through and the movie High Fidelity. It’s the one where John Cusack plays an adorable curmudgeon of a record store owner who revisits his top 5 breakups. I can’t even tell you how many times I have seen this movie and it’s not until we watched it a few weeks ago that I finally understood why on earth someone would do this!

 

It’s to find freedom.

 

I’ve never been in prison, but I’ve been behind emotional bars and it’s time to start knocking them down one at a time.

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An Education: Thoughts on Closing CT Bowspring.

As I write this I am in the midst of a transition. Although it could be argued: aren’t we always in transition at any moment of our lives?

 

I moved to CT in November 2013 and was eager to find my new yoga home and community in Fairfield County – a place that felt so familiar to my childhood and adolescent self but as an adult felt like new territory.

 

Through mutual friends I was introduced to the owner of a new studio in Westport. We clicked and I was hired on the spot.

 

And so began my teaching career in CT. I soon took on up to 6 weekly classes at the studio and found my way into my first yoga home here. As some of my students there liked to say, I found my church.

 

Eight months later, August 2014, I learned that the studio had less than a month left before it would shut its doors. My heart sank. I lost a job and would miss the students, the ritual and routine that helped me make the transition to my life in CT.

 

I felt stranded until I found myself at a beautiful barn-like studio in Wilton. October 2014 I took my first Bowspring class and haven’t looked back since. It resonated so deeply with all the shit I was working through with body image and healing the residue from my eating disorder. I dove deep into the practice, immersed myself in a new community, and adopted this practice in my teaching. I even had the fortunate opportunity to teach at this special space.

 

It was a short ride before I learned in May 2015 that they too would be shutting their doors. Bummed didn’t even begin to describe the way I felt about this loss. It felt sudden and I was afraid because not only were we losing the space but my two teachers announced they would be moving.

 

In September 2015 CT Bowspring made a brave attempt to resuscitate the community and provide a space to practice. We prayed we would retain students and somehow – it sometimes felt as if we’d need a bit of magic – attract new ones. We, perhaps naively, had the vision that we could show the world how innovative and effective Bowspring was. At least I did.

 

And now here we are just 2 days short of officially shutting our doors.

 

I feel sad, frustrated, angry, hopeless, and defeated. Admittedly I also feel relief because the path to this difficult decision was so murky and exhausting. I feel responsible for not being able to hold it together and for not being able to provide a house of belonging for our students.

 

Our student base is modest in number but deep in connection with each other and I wish I had a magic want to house that connection for them. (Someday though…)

 

My ego is also a bit bruised by the fact that in the three years I have lived here I have been involved with three studios that have shut their doors. And with each one I feel more and more vested – especially this last one. AND I trust that there is no better education than experience. I have learned so much working with the partners and teachers of CT Bowspring. Sometimes we all got along and sometimes we were at each other’s throats – often brought on by the frustrations of 8 people with 8 different visions, trying to run a business together. Live and Learn.

 

Ultimately we all shared the same passion to explore and SHARE how the body moves through space with each other and our dear students; even if it meant we looked like weirdos to the outside world. It is not uncommon to twerk in slow motion in a Bowspring class.

 

In keeping with the spirit of my love for all things cheesy, I want to share this with the teachers and students of CT Bowspring:

 

You held space for me to grow. You held space for me to stand up for myself. You held space for me to be angry and frustrated. You held space for me to experiment (and dance) in class. You held space for me to be more open to the way I was so hard on myself for years. You held space for me to soften when I saw YOUR hearts softening. You held space for me to see how strong I am when I saw YOUR strength. You held space for me to slow down and be gentle. You held space for me to feel like I belong.

 

I feel like we (where we = anyone who has taken a deep dive into Bowspring) are all in on this crazy secret. Bowspring. And it’s not just the alignment that we’ve been privy to, but the encouragement to be our own badass authentic selves – the dark AND the light – and to embrace who we are and what we’ve got rather than trying to fit a mold of what we should be.

 

You teachers and students of Bowspring WORLDWIDE remind me to do that every day. And even though we may not have a dedicated space (for the moment) here in CT we still hold each other accountable to keep up the good work.

 

Let’s keep up the good work, ok? 

With deepest love and admiration. MC

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