bossypants on a bra, beauty and more

i’m trying to keep my summertime reading light.
light, meaning semi-un-educational-or-spiritual.
i walked right on by this section
and went straight for the celebrity/artist/autobiographies.
probably not the lightest i could’ve gone, but they’re what i’m craving, so there you go.

Composed, by Roseanne Cash made me cry. many times. not the lightness i was after, but message after message that will stay with me forever. she beautifully captures a difficult love for her father, along with a desperate quest to find her own voice and container for creativity despite not wanting to follow in his celebrity footsteps. all kinds of a-ha’s in this one. a spiritual keeper, despite my best efforts.

Now, I wouldn’t call Bossypants, by Tina Fey necessarily “spiritual,” although she does deliver her share of a-ha’s. more crudely delivered than typical texts of choice…but, if you’re looking for reality with levity, she nails it.

in the spirit of summertime lightness, fingers crossed even the fellah’s will find the funny in these…

on her battle with guilt over not breast-feeding…
“when people say you really, really must do something…it means you really don’t have to. no one ever says, ‘you really, really must deliver the baby during labor.’ when it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.”

on what a wise friend told her about fashion…
“don’t wear what fashion designers tell you to wear. wear what they wear. most designers, no matter what they throw on the runway, favor simple, flattering pieces for themselves.”

her most important rule of beauty…
“who cares?”

on career advice for young women…
“people will try to trick you that you are in competition with other women. don’t be fooled. you’re in competition with everyone. and… wear a bra. even if you think you don’t need it, because, you know what? you’re never going to regret it.”

in the chapter titled, what turning 40 means to me?
“i need to take my pants off when i get home from work. i didn’t used to have to do that. but now i do.”
(that’s the whole chapter. those two sentences.)

i hope at least one of these brought even the slightest grin.

if you happen to be craving something deeper, i am loving Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day meditation on Grace and Gratitude. Even though it’s Day 11, they keep the last five days up. you can still jump in and get plenty of goodness.

i challenged myself to capture what each day’s message means to me, then share it on facebook/instagram. i was nervous to do it, but as we know… those nerves (aka: resistance) are simply a sign that this is something that means a lot to me.

i’ve been giving it a go…here, here, here and here.

if you’re craving more energy, lightness, kindness for yourself and those around you, i encourage you to give it a go too. because that’s how i’m feeling these days. apparently, this grace and gratitude thing works.

checkout counter wisdom

amyattraderjoes

 

“how’s your day going?” asked Amy, as she was ringing up my groceries at Trader Joe’s.

i said, “great, how’s yours?”

she said, “really, really good, like over-the-top good because i got so much done before coming to work today.”

i asked her if she makes a to-do list before she goes to bed, so she wakes up raring to go (because this tactic has been on my mind) and she said, no… her to-do process is this:

she tears the cover off greeting cards people have given her, writes her to do list on the back, then every time she crosses off an item, she sends light to the person who gave it to her.

today, she had used a card from her dad.
her list was extra long.
so she had sent him extra love.
this is why she felt so good today.

jaw dropped.

give gratitude.
grace responds.
life lessons are all around you.
just ask.
love her.

my morning prayer

morning on the mat in montana

one of the things i love about Ashtanga yoga is that every practice begins with a prayer.
actually, a chant, in sanskrit.
one that, if you walked in without knowing what was going on, might make you wonder what this is all about…
it’s about gratitude. that’s it.

while it sounds kinda crazy, the meaning of the chant is to acknowledge all of the teachers, (people, gifts, lessons) who have shared practices, perspectives, and ways to help us navigate our way around the obstacles that prevent us from living our truest, best, healthiest, most radiant self.

not a bad way to start every. single. day.

when i practice yoga, i say this chant to myself…

when i start my day, i say a prayer, inspired by that chant, in my own words, with a little help from The Four Agreements and Marianne Williamson 😉

thank you for all of the gifts, lessons and love in my life.

help me stay grounded in gratitude and open to grace.

help me not take things personally or make assumptions.
help me be impeccable with my word and always do my best.

help me know what to do, what to say and how to be
to deliver the gifts you’ve given me…
and just one more thing,
may all beings (especially my friends, family and Bisbee – and whomever/whatever else happens to be on my mind – sometimes this part takes awhile :) be free and happy.

 

 

 

 

it’s the pretty blonde woman’s turn

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 4.27.05 PM

i took a rodney yee workshop at a Yoga Journal conference about 10 years ago. a pretty blonde woman sat next to him on stage. his wife. she was so pretty. i wanted to know more about her. i don’t think she said a word. understandably, i guess, this was his world. she let him shine.

now it’s her turn.

this interview with her placed a lump in my throat, a time or two. her stories are real, intentional, humble…

including the one about what she told her yoga teacher in the middle of yoga teacher training about “just doing this to deepen her practice… she had no intention of actually teaching yoga.”

(sounds very, very, very familiar….)
ya gotta watch the video for that one.

but she shares one thought in particular that’s really got me thinking…

“if one woman would stand up and tell her story,
the whole universe would break open…
tear the armor, show the world who you are,
and give others the confidence to do the same.”

even though i’ve heard this before in many different ways, seeing her actually do it, feeling how moved i was by her story, has me pondering how i can share more of my own. i hope it inspires you to do the same.

no matter what, i’m looking forward to reading more of Colleen Saidman Yee’s story in her book, Yoga for Life.

i had a wave of panic…

me & dad almost to rob

i had a wave of panic a few years ago, when i was in a yoga workshop and the question was asked, “where in your life is there potential disaster?” the first thing that came to mind was not making an effort to get to know my dad as the cool dude that he is.

don’t get me wrong, i know him. for my biggest life decisions… like divorce, surgery, direction, babies… the person’s opinion i hold closest in my heart, is my dad’s. in no way is this dissing mom. it’s just that she’s probably been part of the whole talking-it-to-death process along the way.

i go to dad when i’m serious. surprisingly, he’s never phased. (hhhmmm. maybe mom has prepped him…?) he’s always supportive. in the most sincere way. this is not someone who would tell me what i want to hear. he gently presents all sides of the situation, and ends with something along the lines of, “i believe in you. you’ve got this.”

so… this year, to prevent any potential disaster, i got the courage to ask dad if he’d like to go out on dates with me. he seemed happy about this. he calls me with plans. (plans that have included chick movies and starbucks… stuff i might like 😉

he picks me up at my door. he pays. he is thoughtful. a gentleman.

dad is a really cool dude.

happy birthday, dad.
may we have many, many, many more dates.

surrender. and suck it up. words of wisdom from my music teacher and 5-yr old niece

After a particularly poor performance on an Aural Perception test – where we listen to the teacher play melodies and rhythms on the piano, then dictate what she plays … crazy hard, for me  – the teacher asked us to raise our hand if we did not like Aural Perception. My hand crept upward. I was not alone.

She looked around the room and said,

“Okay, we’ve acknowledged it.
Now surrender.
And do it anyway.”

This is the same woman who said the first week of class,

“Listen, if I can put pantyhose on at 5 am to be here, you can throw on some sweats and be here by 8.”

I just love her.

She continued…

“In high school, you may have been able to show up occasionally, not take notes, cram and pull off decent grades.”

(I’m in community college, surrounded by 18 year olds and 20-somethings.)

“You are smart people. I get it. But, at some point in your education, classes start requiring serious effort. As you go deeper into your specialty, you’ll discover areas that do not “come natural.” You’ll have to study or practice. A lot. There’s no getting around it.

“To become a pro, ya gotta know this stuff. At this point, just to move forward in your education… ya gotta get past me…with a C. So, figure out what mastering Aural Perception looks like in your world…AND DO IT.”

I don’t know about everyone else in the room, but I had a lump in my throat, the one I get when I’m “scolded” for not doing my best, especially from someone I respect and has my best interest at heart.

What I heard was a mixture of :

“quit whining and be a grown-up,”

with a dash of Dr. Denis Waitley’s ,  “winners do what losers don’t want to do,”

and my 5-year old super-discplined-trained-not-to-cry-gymnast-niece telling me to “suck it up,” after she found me crying while packing her bag when it  was time for her to go home after staying with me.

So, as Gretchen Rubin suggests in “The Happiness Project,”

I decided to Identify the Problem.

In a nutshell:

While I am blocking out big parts of my day to study, (that rules out not having time) after about an hour in, I get frustrated and feel an incredible pull to do anything but study. I take a few breaths and make myself sit there…until I get up and go to the pantry for some chocolate chips. Okay, sometimes I’m lucky to make it 30 minutes before making that 30-second trek.

Back at my desk, I might eek out another 30 minutes of study…

Before I’m pantry bound again. and again. and again.

Coming off the sugar crash, I grab Bisbee and a bean bag for a nap.

Now it’s time to make dinner.

And, I’m not even hungry.

I eat it anyway.

Now, I’m really tired.

And way too brain dead to study.

I go to bed feeling guilty.

And go to class unprepared.

This could be the problem.

Maybe it’s the big 5-0 pending…I’m finding myself less patient with my excuses and general laziness for not doing the things I know make me feel good.

Maybe it’s time to grow up or, “suck it up” as my niece says, and just do them.

(Note: This isn’t me being hard on myself. This is me being honest with myself.)

I do not want to spend the second half of my life bloated, haggard and disappointed that I don’t have the energy to do the things I want to do.

One of which, is play the piano.

The beauty of 50-ish is that I have a pretty good idea of  the daily formula that works for me:

Eat three meals: some protein + healthy fat (i.e. a lot of avocado) + A LOT of veggies = focus, energy, a flatter belly, ease around sugar. BONUS: if I’m eating this way, Robert is eating this way, so he feels better too.

Move my body: at least 20 minutes of cardio + 20 minutes of yoga + the occasional hike and swim = feeling grounded and light in my body.

Meditate: Morning Pages, a bath, legs up the wall or sitting for 20 minutes. The form it takes doesn’t really matter. All of it = magic.

Sleep: a bath and not eating right before bed (especially sugar) works wonders, and totally removes haggardness from the equation. This is important.

Play the piano: 20 minutes of practice a day keeps discouragement and overwhelm away. And somehow that 20 minutes always turns into 40.

Connect. Writing, encouraging, cooking, sharing, listening, capturing moments, posting them on Instagram…the output of these is directly related to all of the above.

If they’re not getting done,
no one is getting any love.
And, that does not feel good.

I remember an article from a Glamour-type magazine, something like “Your Body at 20, 30, 40, 50 and Beyond” saying, in your 20’s and 30’s you pretty much have the body God created. In your 40’s and 50-‘s, you’ve got the body you’ve created.  

The good news is that if it’s not what you want, there’s time to turn it around.

While I don’t think it’s ALL about food, I know that the life I want definitely STARTS with food. It affects everything. No matter how old I am.

I took another tidbit from “The Happiness Project,” and decided to:

Do what ought to be done.

I re-read “It Starts with Food,”  one of my favorite books on how food affects hormones, thyroid, immunity, energy, digestion, belly issues, allergies, sleep…

The more I understand how the body works, the more I’m able to make peace with changes I need to make.

I’m 8 days into their Whole30 Challenge of 3 meals a day, consisting of simple, whole foods, without grains, dairy, and sugar and I am already sleeping better, my belly isn’t bloated, my appetite is healthy, I have all-day energy and best of all – there have been no pantry trips for chocolate chips!

I don’t do a lot of food challenges or cleanses, but sometimes the structure they provide can be comforting. Following a plan when you are unsure or don’t have the energy to figure it out on your own can be just what you need to get back on track and experience how good food can make you can feel.

This book also offers one of the easiest menu / meal planning guides I’ve seen. Basic dishes such as one-skillet-meals, curries, soups and more are offered with a variety of ways to make each one, so what is essentially an elimination diet doesn’t feel so limiting.

If you are looking to get your groove back in the kitchen, or are searching for easy grain-sugar-dairy free meals that taste really good, give this one a go.

Healthy eating is a process. It will never be “perfect” because our bodies, tastes, environments change, but a guide such as this can bring us a little bit closer to knowing what feels best in our bodies.

And, maybe the next time we get off track (because there will be a next time), instead of giving up, we simply grab the book, or whatever works, and get re-inspired to get our groove back.

That’s the key.
Coming back.
However you get there.
This is essential.
The world needs your best self.

What is your heart telling you to come back to?  What could you accomplish if you simply did it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the little thing i learned in the big city

kalyn notebookI just spent a few days in New York City visiting my 17-year-old-as-of-this-week, niece who recently moved there to pursue dance and finish high school at the Children’s Professional School. I was excited to spend precious time with this very busy girl and to hopefully experience the list of healthy hot spots I’ve gathered from all my favorite NY-based health gurus – Tara StilesJenny SancouciRobyn YoukilisLaura Hames FranklinGabby BernsteinIIN… and if there’s time, a swing through DVF’s world.

(If I would have known she was looking for a Brand Ambassador, I would have sent her this post… and yes, I’m choosing to ignore that she’s looking for a fresh-faced 20-something. An almost 50-something can dream, can’t she?)

Turns out, the universe had a different type of list in mind. And, as usual, it was way better than anything I had on mine. Seems it was time for a lesson in “how to gracefully focus on the daily stuff that needs to get done so you can accomplish the big stuff you have on that other list.” All that was needed for this much needed reminder was to sit back and watch the poetry in motion of simply Being Kalyn.

This not-so-little-girl-anymore has always been immersed in some type of activity that called for mind-boggling discipline and energy level. Some might think, ah… it’s easier when you’re that age, blessed with tons of energy and no stress or responsibility. I mean, all she has to do is roll out of bed and show up at class, right? Not so much.

She’s human, just like the rest of us older, “wiser” ones. There are times when she’d kinda like to do something else. She wakes up kinda sore. She forgoes food she kinda wants, in favor of food that makes her feel good. She has homework… A LOT of it. And, let’s not forget the competitive world she lives in… one that requires the physical strength of an athlete AND the confidence and courage to put your own artistic spin on everything you do….. Holy Mariah.

To watch her go through her day, you’d never know she has all of this on her plate. In fact, I don’t think she even thinks about it… fingers crossed she did NOT inherit the over-thinking gene from her Aunt Denese 😉

A peak inside her daily notebook reveals a sweet little list that touched my heart:

Be Happy

Stay Calm

Dance

Do Homework

Stretch

Sleep

 

And that’s exactly what she does… along with making her food for the week and putting things like kale salad in baggies she can grab on the go. (I mean, I even have a hard time doing this…As she says, “preparation is key.” #gottaloveit)

We didn’t make it through my list of NY to-do’s – although we did sneak in a couple Strala yoga sessions with Tara (precious) and I did experience Hu Kitchen’s Almond Butter Quinoa Chocolate Bar (perfection).

I left the city with an even better list – a list of the little things I can do each day that make me feel good, the things that when I do them, the rest of my world magically falls into place:

Write Morning Pages

Meditate

Get on my mat

Drink water

 

There are other things I’m tempted to list, like play piano, do homework, plan a workshop, plan menus, plan the rest of my life… All of those are important, but when these “little things” aren’t being done, I don’t have the energy to get the other stuff done. My mind is cluttered, I feel overwhelmed, physically tight, stuck and I get kinda wacky with food.

I left that crazy, whirlwind of energy, big city, feeling more grounded than I have in awhile. Apparently, I needed the reminder delivered in the form of a very special 17-year old.

Thank you Kalyn, for helping Aunt Denese get it together.

And, Happy Happy Birthday, sweet one. May the year deliver all you’re hoping for and may you stay grounded in that magical list of yours.

What does your little list look like? (Instagram me a pic)

 

p.s. Living your best life is about practice and progress, not perfection. We all need reminders and encouragement to listen within and do what feels best in our world. Check out my e-note for a few things inspiring me at the moment. Hope they connect with you.  Also hope to see you in yoga, Thursday  mornings, 8 am at Session Yoga.

how to know you’re on “a” right path? let your boots do the rockin’

red boots

Apparently, school starts tomorrow. But, I’m standing in front of my piano classroom today. All dressed up with nowhere to go. Even a ruffly Free People dress, red Frye boots and Robyn’s oatmeal chocolate chip power balls packed in my bag can’t hide a tinge of heartache.

Apparently, I was really, really looking forward to it.

I don’t question why I enrolled in piano and voice classes two years ago. I’m still curious and interested and even kinda think one day I might be able to rock a few songs… in my living room.

What I struggle with is motivation to practice. Sometimes I ask myself, why are you spending so much time on something that is never going to become something?

I can’t answer that. And at this moment, I’m okay with it. Because I now know that I am committed.

I’ve studied professional musicians, dancers, athletes, entrepreneurs…individuals living lives based on a commitment to their craft, their gift. Every one of them says the same thing.

Motivation wanes. It’s a heartfelt yearning and a deep commitment to honoring that yearning that keeps them consistently practicing and courageously sharing. Most can’t imagine doing anything else. They don’t think about outcome, they just do it. Even when they don’t want to.

That’s what I realized today. I want to do this. No one is making me. And if it is taken away, even for a day, I miss it.

So, here’s to recognizing when you’re on “a” right path. It doesn’t have to be the only path and you definitely don’t have to “do” anything with it. All you have to do is honor it and make some time to cultivate it.

Who knows, one day, these boots just might rock all over you… if you happen to be in my living room :)

molly, the cup song and my singing debut

 

I had no idea an online course called “Start a Foolish Project” would have me doing something so scary – or that it could possibly be the best thing I did all year.

 

start a foolish project

 

Who knew that foolishness could cultivate courage, creativity, clarity and in my case, all kinds of a-ha’s ala an 11-year old named Molly?

 

The idea of this 4-week course, led by Andrea Scher of SuperHero Life, was to do something out of your ordinary, something whimsical, joyful, maybe even a little scary… then share it with the group (about 50 people, from all around the world.)

 

The hardest part was coming up with the project. You know the saying, “how you are anywhere is how you are everywhere?  Well, I showed up in all my over-complicated-ness with a long list of “let’s make this a big, make the world a better place type”  project. exhausting!

Fortunately, one of Andrea’s super-powers is how she gets to the heart of the project that’s perfect for you, right now. She gently suggested that my project have nothing to do with making the world a better place. It needed to be something for me, for the sheer delight of doing it.

Then Molly, a friend”s daughter came over. She had taught herself The Cup Song (from the audition scene of the movie Pitch Perfect).  Would I like to hear it?

 

Molly is an accomplished singer, with lots of big performances under her little belt. Her passion is music … and superfoods… this is a special soul.

molly singing

(To see just how special, watch this video on Tucson Girls Chorus – scroll down to the bottom of the page, it”s the video from Arizona Public Media – watch the entire 7 minutes, it”s inspiring on many levels. The end features an interview with Molly and her impromptu a cappella version of “What the World Needs Now” that will make your heart melt.)

 

Of course, Molly performed The Cup Song perfectly.

 

A couple of nights later, I woke up with my project clear as a bell – I’ll have Molly teach me The Cup Song! It was summer. She was bored. It will give her something to do and it will be a big, butterfly in my belly step toward getting over my fear of singing in front of people. I would be sheerly delighted and full of joy if I could pull this off.

 

I could hardly wait to call her…. but me being me, I did wait. I wanted to figure out exactly how we”d practice casino online together before I called. I had a schedule in mind, maybe 3-4 days a week, I”d pick her up, she’d give me my lesson, I’d make her a smoothie, we”d swim a little, bond a lot.

 

Molly had other plans. She was leaving for camp tomorrow. She’d be gone for 10 days.

 

me: hhhmm…(nonchalant panic) ok, well, we”ll only have a day or two to practice before the course is over, but we”ll make it work.

 

molly: while I’m gone, learn the cup part so well you can do it even while talking, then start humming along with it.

 

a-ha ala Molly #1: don”t over-think it. take it step by step. 

 

I did as she said. I practiced the cup part over and over. I sang the song on walks with Bisbee everyday. Then it dawned on me…

What was I thinking?

 

I’m going to have to sing this thing. Molly can’t help me with the practice part. I’m going to do have to that on my own.

 

I didn’t want to let Molly down, so I kept going.

 

When she came home from camp, I took her to my singing lesson where we got some coaching on harmonizing from my lovely teacher Laura, then we went home to practice.

 

After a couple of hours, I wanted another day (or 30 or so) to practice. Molly wanted to go for a swim. As she floated and flipped around the pool, she talked me through our process.

 

She reminded me, that we had accomplished what we were going for… we were able to do The Cup Song… not perfectly, but for the sake of the project, mission was accomplished. Yes, with practice, it could be a lot better, but it was good enough, and we had fun doing it, so let’s just film where we are with it today.

 

a-ha ala molly #2: perfection isn’t necessary here. 

 

a-ha ala molly #3: a float and a few flips in the pool can work wonders when you’re tired of practicing.

 

such wisdom. (she probably didn’t want to spend her last days of summer practicing with that Denese lady!)

 

with that, we went inside and filmed it – with my boyfriend and her mom behind the camera.


molly and me cup song

 

Molly was right.  mission was definitely accomplished. and then some. I sang… in front of them… for the entire Foolish Project group and now for you.

 

Click here for my singing debut :)

 

Is there something you”d love to do, but think it”s too foolish? I dare you to do it, then share it… start by telling me what you would like to do in the comments and check out Andrea”s Start a Foolish Project course, it starts Monday!

 

 

 

it’s back to school for the babies… what about you?

Whether you’re craving community, connection, creativity… or simply need a reason to buy a cool notebook, why not go back to school … for a bit?

pima id

The beauty of not having to be in school, is that you can choose something that truly interests or inspires you.

Whatever your intention, opening yourself up to learning – especially things you’ve always wanted to do, the things that delighted you as a child – has the power to cultivate courage, confidence, even clarity, “yes, I want to continue that…” or, “no, it’s definitely time to let go of that…”

Lately I’m loving courses designed to spark creativity, to find your groove, to try that thing you’ve always wanted to try, to serve others in some sweet way.

And I’m amazed at the power of the classroom…

It’s funny how a group of complete strangers, in a matter of a few days can know more about your heart that anyone in your world. It’s good to talk about your dreams. It’s even better to be inspired to go for them. It’s crazy how brave we can be when we think no one we know is watching.

And, it doesn’t seem to matter which class it is… courage and epiphanies come amidst yogis, business owners, knitters, writers, bakers and piano players… online or down the street.

It’s the spirit behind the student that inspires us to try and to encourage others to try…

Think of your babies, would you ever want to squash their willingness to learn? their open-hearted spirit? Why in the world are we not encouraging each other to do the things that would make our heart sing?

What is sparking your curiosity? What would you like to learn?
If you’re not sure, check out my newsletter for a list of courses I’m loving... ones that might get the creative juices flowing.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out your community college… that affordable course mecca that’s probably right down the street!

I just enrolled in piano and voice lessons. Talk about back-to-school-jitters. I am definitely stepping outside my comfort zone with this one.

Here’s to back to school and rocking your best self!

Denese

p.s. I totally forgot about the student ID thing. I would’ve worn a more photo-appropriate top :) Oh well, it’s not about the clothes anyway, right? It’s about the music 😉

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