lifting with love

I started a new exercise program this week. At least once a week, for an indefinite period of time I am doing personal training. It was under my own volition to change things up from the routine of hiking, walking, yoga. It was also an act of self-care.

 

Because of my recent lyme diagnosis, I’m not supposed to be doing long endurance training like running, cycling, or even super long hikes. (So I hike with breaks.) But movement is paramount to my joy.

 

Movement, in nearly all forms, is my soul’s dance. I learn to be patient and understanding with my body, so that I can be patient and understanding with all parts of myself.

 

So when I started training this week with Luc at Sherpa we kept it short to 30 minutes. Perfect so as not to overexert myself.

 

I felt so good carving out this time just for me. It felt good being under the guidance of someone else. It felt good moving my body in different ways. I noticed where I’m weak and I noticed where I’m really strong.

 

I noticed that nearly every single time in my life that I’ve picked up a weight or walked into a gym it was to change or fix the way that I looked. And I noticed that this time, that just wasn’t the case.

 

It wasn’t about fixing my body. It was about expanding my movement horizons and stepping outside my safe movement boundaries. It was about laughing and learning and loving. It was about ultimate self-care; staying strong while I’m also making ample time to rest and recover from the lyme.

 

My arms, I noticed in the mirror, have so little tone to them right now. This used to send me into a tailspin of negative self-talk and self-hate. But this time, as we were doing some kind of weight lifting thingy, I looked at my untoned arms with love. Like, dammit, they’ve been through some shit and they’re still here! Lifting heavy things!

 

It felt really good to exercise and move this way. It felt freeing. It felt joyful. I saw my shapes in the mirror and embraced them. I felt strong in my soft body suit.

 

I know that not every day will feel like this. But it’s exhilarating to know that this is possible.

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It’s Valentine’s Day, I’m single, and loved.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

A Course in Miracles

This is the first time I’ve been single on Valentine’s Day in a very long time. It’s something I always dreaded. I am pleased to report: I feel better on this v-day than any other in recent history. 

We are all navigating love in all our relationships: friends, family, our beloved(s) and most importantly self-love. We are all doing our best. 

I’ve always been really hard on myself when it came to romantic love. Since age 18 it’s been easy for me to meet someone, dive heart-first into a relationship, and fall in love. I’m what you’d call a “serial monogamist.” I’ve said I love you to 7 people in a timespan of 15 years. I don’t know what that means. For a while I thought something was seriously wrong with me. Am I ‘Addicted to love’ like the hit 80s tune?

I’m letting go of shame over my ability to fall into relationships and into love. I’ve carried a butt load of shame about my collection of relationships. I spent more of my 20s in relationships than single. The more ex-boyfriends i accrued, the more reluctant I became to tell each new partner there were so many before him. 

Not to mention the immense shame I felt each time one of those relationships ended. It was like there goes another failed attempt at love. 

I felt like I had a screw loose. That something was fundamentally wrong with me. How was it that I could find these men and fall in love and then out of love so easily? I had gotten really adept at the process. 

Turns out all these partners were exactly what I needed at that moment. I needed them to reflect back to me what I needed to work through. Some people can do this solo- I guess my growth thrived from the influence of relationships, especially the ones that seemed exceedingly unhealthy. 

It’s been 7 months since my last serious relationship ended. Full transparency: I’ve been dating since then and I’ve met some pretty remarkable men. But I haven’t fallen in love with any of them. 

This is a record  for me. And I know it’s because there’s someone else. It’s me.

I’m learning what it means to love myself. Not in an ego way. But in a deep, soulful way. I finally understand now that the more I am able to accept and love myself exactly as I am, the more space I create for a fitting partner who accepts and loves themselves in the same way. 

So this is my love path right now. There’s no rule book for love. Sure there are plenty of books out there about love but honestly there is no one right way to navigate love and relationships. As one of my friends once told me: The heart’s truth is never convenient.

Sometimes we meet people at what seems like the most inopportune time- but our heart soars just from the simplest exchange with them. And sometimes we meet people who seem perfect in theory! On paper they are exactly what we thought we wanted. But when we try to put the pieces together it just doesn’t fit. 

We all have to ride the infinite feelings and adventures of love. We all have a unique path and hopefully we can offer some help to each other along the way. And whether we have a partner or not, may we all remember to keep filling up our self-love tank. 

Here’s to love. 

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The perfect time is never. AND it is now.

Recently I discovered I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment for years. I was waiting for the perfect moment to book my dream road-trip out west. I was waiting for the perfect moment to come out as a body image coach. I was waiting for the perfect moment to visit my sister. I waited 8 years to get my dog, Daisy! It’s cool though. I know, to some extent, I needed to wait. I also know, that I tend to overthink and overanalyze to the point of excruciating self-induced anxiety that leads to feeling stagnant and putting things off and avoidance.

There actually is no perfect moment. Except that there is – the moment is NOW. And it’s now, and it’s now.

Is this making sense? Allow me to backtrack a little…

I’ve been wanting to travel more. It was one of my intentions for this year. I want to spend more time out west, visiting national parks, being in nature, visiting my sister, friends, going where my heart desires. But I kept putting this off for many reasons: work, family, pets, bank account balance, migraines. I overanalyzed my reasons for inaction to death.

I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to live certain aspects of my life the way I want to live them. I’ve been waiting to be more virtual as a coach/teacher, to be at a certain income level, to be free of migraines, and to have a full time pet-sitter.

And then recently something happened and it PUSHED ME. I was diagnosed with lyme disease. It’s not the diagnosis I hoped for and it’s pulling me through an emotional roller coaster, but it also explains a lot of my recent health struggles.

There is something about a debilitating illness (migraines) combined with another debilitating illness (lyme) that can get a person to take stock of their life and move their boundaries[link to Sherpa].

So a few weeks ago I booked a flight to Los Angeles. I left my beloved puppy for the first time (not easy). I spent time with my sister, ate delicious food, went to yoga, walked to the beach, did some work, and returned home with a new perspective. I then booked another flight to LA two weeks later to do a little more work, spend time with my sister, and fit in some adventures. This is all happening while I’m still not at my desired income level and my migraines are definitely not totally cured.

And then it dawned on me, sometimes you have to do things in the order that might seem backwards. At what might seem like the most imperfect time. And guess what: This is absolutely 100% allowed!

My career is not set up the way I envisioned it need be in order to take trips like this. But the funny thing is: these trips are motivating me to move my business along in such a way that supports my health (ease up on teaching / increase coaching) and lifestyle (more time visiting national parks and in nature).

All this time I convinced myself my circumstances had to be JUST SO and so I waited, and waited, and kept finding excuses not to do what my heart and soul wanted.

I’m tired of listening to the broken record of me. I’m making changes. I’m traveling. I’m doing more of the work of my heart’s truth. And wouldn’t you know June is looking like the perfect time for a road trip out west with a dog named Daisy. (US National Parks here we come!)

The external circumstances of our lives may never look the way we expect them to in order to make the big (and small) decisions. The perfect time is never because we can always find reasons not to do the things our heart desires. The perfect time is NOW because sometimes we have to soften to those reasons or boundaries that are telling us “No, you’re not ready.” Especially if they are fear-based boundaries. Sometimes we ARE ready; we’re just scared.

Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be guided by our hearts and intuition. Maybe it’s a medical diagnosis, the loss of a job, a death, or a birth that propels us forward toward the big dreams. And aspects of our life might seem so terribly messy we couldn’t possibly fathom planning a trip, starting a business, getting married, having a baby, or diving heart-first into a relationship. But be open, my friend. You will know when you’re ready. Your heart and your gut will be screaming it from the mountain tops. They will be telling you you’re ready! Not your bank account, not your mom, not a self-help book, not your partner, and not even your dog can tell you when you’re ready.

You will know when the perfect time is. You will know what to do. The perfect time can be never. And it can also be now. It is never, and it is now. It just depends how you look at it. Are you ready to remain open to surprise, adventure, and delight in this life?

Can you lighten your grip on the boundaries of how things SHOULD be? See what happens when you lighten the grip and permit yourself to be a little more guided instead of trying to figure it all out. Feel your way through it.

And if you need it, I am giving you permission right here: You have the permission to soften, to listen, and be guided. The perfect time is now.

What about you? What are you waiting for? What are the big dreams you’ve been sitting on? Maybe they need more time to marinade and they are just waiting for that little push.

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Noticing my negative thoughts

One of my recovery students asked me recently what do I do with my negative thoughts?

I define these negative thoughts as any thoughts based in fear, doubt, or judgment.

Thoughts like:

“I’m bad for eating too much dessert” 

“I better burn this off”

“I’ll never look the way I should”

“I’m not worthy/deserving of love or respect.”

Even this one… “I’ve gotta lose weight.”

It’s fine to have a healthy awareness of the benefits of certain food and exercise, but ask yourself this: what is my intention? Are you choosing to eliminate dessert from a place of self-love or is it more punitive like you’re keeping yourself in line?

Shifting our negative thoughts is not an overnight process. It’s a multi-layer, multi-step, non-linear process that beings with one simple step: NOTICE.

Here’s what i told my student:

I first have to notice and acknowledge I’m having negative thoughts.

And then I kind of stop myself in my tracks. I pause long enough to not only notice the thoughts but to feel them – how are they feeling in my body and where? Well, usually tense. And how are they feeling emotionally? Usually they are accompanied by immense anxiety, nervousness, frustration, and sometimes depression.

I pause, I get quiet, I notice.

I’ve trained myself NOT to rush and immediately “fix” the thoughts. I must allow the thoughts and the subsequent feelings they trigger to move through my body. Or else they’ll build up in the basement and years later I’ll uncover them in dusty boxes and guess what… by that time they’ve grown tenfold! By that time the negative thoughts have become the most nasty, diminishing stories about myself I could possibly come up with. So believe me, if you try to quickly stuff the negative thoughts away, they are only going to grow bigger.

The next time you find yourself in the cycle of self-loathing thoughts, all I want you to do is really make space to notice. Notice what you are feeling. Acknowledge the feelings, physical and emotional, and then make space for these feelings to flow through you.

Loosen your grip on the thoughts, soften a little, and notice what happens.

Stay tuned for next steps in the process in Part 2!

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embracing my softness

i am embracing my softness.
my body goes through changes. I keep growing. When I’m running regularly my body looks different / maybe more toned? In my head I feel like a ripped badass. I felt this way during my 5 consecutive years of triathlons…
those days are long gone now.

but why not feel like a badass in my softness too? it’s usually the colder months when my body goes into softening mode. i notice it in my arms since i’m still wearing tanks when i’m teaching. i’ll catch a glimpse of myself in the studio mirror and notice it around my belly since my pants don’t fit quite the same and i have a little belly puff over the elastic waistband.

every year i’m getting more and more used to the softness. and feeling equally badass, if not more so, as a soft maggie, than a more firm/toned maggie.

i’m getting more accustomed to it, embracing it even, because of this: i am not defined by what my body looks like. i am not better for being toned. i am not bad for being softer. i also am not better for being soft! and i am not worse for being toned! ha! See how that works there? I know – I’m still wrapping my brain around it.

It’s all good though. All of it. All the shapes and sizes and stages our bodies go through. because the real maggie, the real you, is within. it’s untouchable and it’s felt through connection, through exchange, and through energy. Amen.

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Body Image Coaching

Hi there,

One of the commitments I made this year was to be a model or a guide for women to learn how to accept {and one day love} their bodies and their beings. I’ve spent a lot of time hiding out behind the ambiguous title of health coach or wellness coach.

It felt safe to not get too specific. Not to tell people the work I really dream to do. Or to not pigeonhole myself to one niche. But do you know what happened? I kept coming back to Body Image. I kept coming back to how shifting my perspective on my own body image enabled me to see through my body shell and see all parts of myself. Value all parts of myself. NOT just how I look. It helped me to get over fear-based exercise. To ditch dieting. To better understand and accept who I am.

And at long last I’ve created my Body Image Coaching page. Woohoo!

No more hiding behind ambiguities. I have to follow the work that simultaneously breaks my heart and builds it back up – time and time again.

And, after a very sweet, supportive conversation with my sister this weekend in LA, I’ve decided to offer payment on a sliding scale. I want to make this available to as many women as possible who need it.

I encourage you to reach out to me if this resonates with you. I encourage you to share this with any woman you think would benefit from the work.

This work is not just about loving our bodies. It’s about shifting the collective consciousness of women to fully embody and ROCK the bodies we were born with. To treat them with the utmost respect and love.

With Love,

MC

PS. Not on my email newsletter list? Sign up here to receive the latest offerings and events! XO

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Bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise

I’m bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise. I’ve spent far too long afraid that if I don’t exercise enough, consistently, or at least 3 times a week I’ll put on a few pounds.

It just doesn’t matter anymore. I noticed this last week when I was getting over a cold and migraine. It had been over a week since I’d taken a yoga class or gone for a hike or a vigorous walk. And I noticed something exquisite: there was not an ounce of guilt or anxiety in my body.

I used to feel intense anxiety and stress over fitting a run or a rigorous yoga practice into my schedule. I felt like a lazy bum if I missed two days in a row, or god forbid, more than that.

This is not me hating on exercise. This is me noticing how my relationship to exercise has changed. Exponentially.

There was a year when my hip (torn labrum and then some) was constantly in pain and I developed IT Band syndrome on top of that. Even though I was wincing in pain during a slow jog, I convinced myself I needed to push through it. I knew what was best for me — rest, take it easy, be gentle — but I willfully ignored my intuition. Not just once, but for months.

Too often I would sacrifice the health and well-being of my body and end up icing my knee, rolling out my hip, in the hopes that I’d undo the longer term damage and be up and running again in just a couple days. This somehow settled my nerves.

Exercise was not only punitive, but a vehicle to avoid feeling deep, dark, difficult emotions. I was afraid of the potential changes in my body if I didn’t exercise but I was more afraid of the feelings I’d have to confront if I sat still for too long.

That’s not to say I never had a run that brought me to tears (I did) or a yoga practice that left me weeping (I still do). But along my road to recovery from my eating disorder and severely negative body image, my relationship with exercise was deeply in need of transformation.  

Today, I feel thankful that I’m no longer exercising in excess and that I’m saying goodbye to the days of fear-driven exercise.

Today when I exercise, when I move, it’s a body prayer. It’s a connection and a call to the divine. Staying aligned and checked in to the energy flowing through me. Saying hello, how are you?, I cherish you. Saying thank you, I see you, I hear you and … I love you.

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My ME-ness is Unstoppable. Unbreakable.

I had a call this morning with a woman who is opening a fitness studio in Fairfield County. We were connected by a mutual friend in the fitness industry. She asked me about the style of yoga I teach – this Bowspring – because she had never heard of it. She gave me space to describe the practice and all that it has done for me: how it has furthered my recovery and growth beyond the confining walls of my eating disorder and poor body image.

I explained how my dance background influences my teaching style and that I encourage my students to explore or how I’ll often not so eloquently put it: “make shit up” — meaning if their body is feeling moved, answer that call. To not be afraid to wobble, or mess something up, or look like a dumb-dumb. (Because you never look like a dumb-dumb. When making shit up, you look like a brave soul connecting with your deepest truth.)

For a moment I regretted my words. Why did I have to be such an idiot and admit I tell my students to make shit up to a potential employer/partner?!

It was at this moment when the women stopped me and said she didn’t need to hear any more. She didn’t need a demo class. She was ready to put me on her schedule because she connected with my philosophy and my approach to movement. I could hardly contain my gratitude as I explained to her my vision has been to collaborate with other studios. And here she was, a messenger from the universe, manifesting my vision.

So the lesson? To keep speaking my truth. To keep stepping into my shoes. To keep fully inhabiting this body with my being. My ME-ness feels unstoppable. Unbreakable.

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Go With What You Know

It’s good to go with the flow. But it’s better to go with what you know – what you know to be true for you. Trusting yourself is the ultimate lesson. It’s where all the guidance leads.

-Melody Beattie

A few days before New Years Eve I was on my way to meet someone. As I was getting dressed to leave my house for dinner I had a funny feeling in my stomach. I questioned whether or not I should cancel but then didn’t want to be so abrupt last minute. But even as I got into my car and drove the 2 miles to South Norwalk the funny mudded feeling started morphing into a very clear “No, no, no, no, no.”

As in “No, don’t go.”

I hushed my intuitive voice but it roared loudly as I spent 10 minutes searching for parking. (This never happens to me!)

Shit, I thought. My intuition is really trying to tell me something.

But I wanted to be the cool, laid back girl who just goes with the flow.

I’m like, whatever! Easy breezy!

An hour into dinner I learned some unsettling (but not at all life threatening) news. Unsettling enough however that I could no longer remain in this person’s presence. My time had been wasted and I felt like a fool. I communicated this, calmly.

I requested the waiter give me my food to go and left this someone on their own. I still feel slightly guilty for not paying my share of the bill but … karma can be a bitch.

Suffice it to say I knew all along SOMETHING was up. And if I’m being really honest with myself, I could feel my intuition trying to tell me something the day before.

Only I talked myself out of it and blew it off as overreacting to something silly.

Perhaps this unsettling event needed to happen. It needed to remind me just how powerful my intuition is and that I could use a little brush-up on my listening skills. It reminded me to go with what I know.

If going with the flow is sometimes like following the shoulds or following the crowd, going with what you know is blazing your trail and honoring your truth. Even if it can get a little uncomfortable at times.

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Why I’m Grateful 2017 Started With a Migraine

After 2 days in bed with a migraine I had a really long meditation this morning. And something occurred to me: I avoid planning the big stuff that my heart desires and I avoid taking steps toward being more successful because I sometimes have a “what’s the point?” mindset. I am afraid I’ll to live like this for the rest of my life. Getting migraines, checking out of life for a few days. And so I commit to just enough… because why would anybody trust me? Why would I commit to workshops? To helping others heal? When I am so screwed.

It’s difficult to explain a migraine. I believe Joan Didion describes it best in her essay “In Bed:”

Once an attack is under way, however, no drug touches it. Migraine gives some people mild hallucinations, temporarily blinds others, shows up not only as a headache but as a gastrointestinal disturbance, a painful sensitivity to all sensory stimuli, an abrupt overpowering fatigue, a stroke-like aphasia, and a crippling inability to make even the most routine connections. When I am in a migraine aura (for some people the aura lasts fifteen minutes, for others several hours), I will drive through red lights, lose the house keys, spill whatever I am holding, lose the ability to focus my eyes or frame coherent sentences, and generally give the appearance of being on drugs, or drunk. The actual headache, when it comes, brings with it chills, sweating, nausea, a debility that seems to stretch the very limits of endurance. That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.

Suffice it to say I feel depressed while in the throes of a migraine. I am completely disconnected from the rest of the world. I am in survival mode. It is a huge undertaking sometimes just to get comfortable. And there is that period of 1-3 hours at the apex of the migraine where I am at a total loss. I question going to the ER. I question how the heck am I going to make it. I cry because I don’t understand the returning question: Why me?

Something shifted in the first migraine of 2017. It wasn’t any less intense. I was debilitated. Barely capable of answering texts and had to ask my neighbor to walk my dog Daisy. What shifted is I was able to allow myself to go through it. I still had the panic of the apex but I allowed it to happen instead of fighting, resisting, or willing it to just end.

And when I sat in meditation this morning I felt it: I’ve been allowing migraines to run my life. Not just when I have them, but when I don’t have them: I am afraid of making plans and having to break them. I am afraid of being judged by others when I cancel on them for the 6th time in 2 months. In my professional life I am afraid of hosting a retreat by myself because what if, god forbid, I get a migraine and cannot fulfill my commitment to a few dozen people?

I’ve been teaching yoga for 10 years now, health coaching for nearly 5, and now I’m practicing Reiki. And what I realize is I’ve been afraid of becoming more successful for fear I’ll be found out by more people that I suffer from migraines and am a canceler. Or that I am untrustworthy and I’ll lose students and clients.

I relaxed into this last migraine as much as possible. Turning off email, NOT checking social media, and texting or calling people only when absolutely necessary. It took a lot of the pressure off and I treated this migraine like an extended meditation. I kept telling myself “You don’t have to be anything other than YOU. In whatever way that shows up. Right now. It’s OK.”

I reminded myself what these migraines teach me: to have the utmost empathy for other people’s pain. In all the various ways pain can show up.

I’m not feeling disheartened or down by my realization. Instead it’s something to work through. 

It’s actually a relief to be able to see and articulate. I see it as momentum forward in understanding myself better. And I see that I have a choice: I can stick with the “what’s the point” mindset OR I can create a new mindset through new thoughts and new beliefs.

I’m choosing the latter.

 

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