Making Changes

Watch carefully, the magic that occurs, when you give a person just enough comfort, to be themselves – Atticus

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Hey friends,

I have been missing the blog world for a while now and I have been holding back for a couple of reasons… My life has been going through a number of changes over the past six months and I am not one to share my personal details with the world. At the same time, I believe in true authenticity and being real with my readers. In order to avoid sacrificing my values, I chose silence instead of over-sharing or acting like life was splendid, when it was not. I am also coming to the conclusion that my vision for starting this blog no longer feel true to who I am. Even the title of the blog feels completely disconnected and it does not feel like the proper place for my voice.

Here’s the thing: I started this blog with the intentions of sharing about my life, about yoga and health and DIY projects and marriage. This would be the forum for me to share fun stories about building chicken coops with my father-in-law, having weekend shooting adventures with my hubs, and explain how I can still maintain my healthy lifestyle and love for yoga amongst the beer and goofiness of being married to cowboy-hat-wearing husband. But, that’s not my life right now.

In April, I decided the best decision for me was to move out of my husband’s house. I have refused to speak about this publically for fear that people would not understand. I feared that people would say things like “I told you not to get married so young” or “you should’ve tried harder,” etc. And I get it! I have judged people in the past for making decisions like mine and only now do I fully acknowledge that there is always a story behind people’s decisions that no one, other than the person living it, can comprehend. I also have hopes that I will still work things out with my husband and I figured that going “public” with any information about a separation would only make it harder for me to explain things down the road. I’m a people pleaser and have lost my voice for fear of judgment.

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And I would like to tell you that I am “rising above” and am posting this today with triumphant courage about how I am going to use my voice genuinely without fear of critique, but that wouldn’t be true. In fact, I have sweat leaking from my pits and have already erased and restarted this post many times. And I will probably make a few (hundred) more edits after I am finished ranting.

However, I still want to share my story with you. Not the messy details of my shitty situation, but the victory of getting up in the morning when I feel like it has all gone to hell. About how I am so grateful for yoga and being a teacher because it has forced me to get to class when I most needed it, but was most reluctant to get onto the mat. About how many times I have eaten chips and salsa and a six pack of beer for dinner, only to find new appreciation for my health food enthusiasm the next day.

You see, I did not want to get on here and write posts about how I have all of the answers and how I know everything about battling depression through yoga or eating healthy when you don’t feel like it. Because fuck it; that’s completely unrealistic. But I do want to tell you all about how much I try, some days harder than others… but I try to gear my life towards positive, towards healthy, towards something better than it is in this current moment. And I want to continue sharing with you.

Therefore, I may be slowly transitioning to a new blog. I don’t have a clue what that blog will be called or what it will look like or whether I will stick to it. Who knows?! What I do know is that change is inevitable and I do not owe it to anyone to be the same person tomorrow as I am today.

Besides, change can be beautiful, right?

XOXO Taryn

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My “Emergency 911” Yoga Plan for Depression

“The yoga mat is a good place to start when talk therapy and antidepressants aren’t enough.” – Amy Weintraub

Hello again lovelies! I’m making another quick post today to share another project I did for my yoga class. We were instructed to do some kind of “anatomy project”as follows: Consider a condition (illness, injury, or physical/emotional/energetic imbalance) that you find especially interesting (possibly because it affects you or someone close to you). Look at Light on Yoga (pp. 487-506) and other sources to do some research on this condition. Come up with three to five yogic techniques relevant to the condition, and try out those techniques. Describe your results in one (or more, if you wish) typed page, which should be turned in as part of your final graduation packet.

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Here is my Anatomy Project:

1.) Describe the condition and state your intention/objective for the project.

Ah… depression. It’s strange, because most people would expect me to flat out hate the fact that I was born with an imbalance of the brain, passed down generation to generation, that can make me completely miserable for no reason at all. But honestly, I’ve learned to have sort of a love-hate relationship with depression. First of all, my entire family has it, along with millions of people worldwide. While a number of friends don’t get it and think I’m simply dramatic, being open and honest with my depression has helped me to connect with so many people that I would never have imagined inspiring without it. Secondly, it is what led me to yoga! Medication to combat the disease really works for some, but I hated it. It made me very sick when I would forget to take it (a common mistake of mine) and I really wanted to find a way to fight the disease naturally. I longed for control of my mind. I heard from a number of sources that yoga would help, and they were right! I was hooked! However, that doesn’t mean depression still doesn’t plague me from time to time. Even with a regular yoga practice, it still creeps in sometimes, unexpectedly, sometimes so strong and unexpected it can literally knock me to the floor. I wanted to come up with a series of yogic techniques I can save as my “911 emergency” sequence, so I have something established to help me feel less helpless the next couple of times I hit rock bottom.

 

2.) Describe in detail what you will do, and visualize yourself doing it while you write. Include practices/asanas, setting and location, materials used (if any).

I am really lucky enough to have a multi-purpose room in my house that I get to call my own, for crafting, yoga, office work, etc. It has all of my favorite things: handmade art covers the walls from dear loved ones, books line the shelves, art supplies are piled in the closet, and I always have some nice candles going: eucalyptus, lavender, etc. Happy smells. In this room, I get to lock myself away and be myself, even when I’m feeling overly miserable. There’s no judgement. It’s the perfect location for this “911 Emergency” practice.

As research has shown, pranayama is a great tool to use against depression. Makes complete sense to me! I feel so out of control with the sickness creeps in. The breath is something I can control and is the perfect way to start the practice. Usually I feel like concentration is difficult, so doing a pranayama such as Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing, would force me to focus on the pattern of the breath.

According to Amy Weintraub, founder of LifeForce Yoga, when we are depressed, we tend to sit with the shoulder slumped forward and the belly unengaged, cutting off the 2nd and 3rd chakra from energy flow. She suggests starting the practice with a posture, like sphinx or cobra, that engages these areas: stretching out the belly and opening the chest. While in the posture, reciting the 2nd chakra’s seed chant of “vom” will also encourage a little light into this part of the body. Followed by this posture, she suggests the practice of Breath of Joy, a warm-up sequence following the breath. This awakens the body while also expelling the negative energy on the forced exhale.

I think I would want to follow those two postures with Sun Salutation A. I have always felt better after this traditional sequence, as it is used as an offering to invite the sunshine into the dark spaces within me. Typically, I don’t feel like moving around much, so doing something more active like this will wake the body up and help me find some energy.

Lastly, to conclude my quick “911 Emergency” sequence, I would want to follow up with some form of meditation. I know this part of the practice will have to be unique to each experience, as I am already pretty confident sitting and trying to clear my mind will be the last thing I want to do when feeling that crummy. Perhaps instead, I can practice some form of active meditation by singing some of the favorite chants we did in class, doodling some zentangles or a mandala, going for a walk, etc.

Oh! And ALWAYS end with a self-hug!

 

3.) State your hypothesis: What do you expect (hope) will be the result? What would your conclusion be if you did not get the expected result?

I hope this practice kicks my depression to the curb as quickly as it comes in. However, I know it is quick possible it may linger for a few days; the important thing is that I find a way to stay committed to coming back to the mat for the battle each day. I think the first day will be the hardest because usually by the time it needs to be addressed, I has sunken into such a deep pit that I do not feel like doing anything. Perhaps through a personal “check-in” every few days to evaluate my need for the practice, I can catch it before it gets terrible. The biggest enemy of depression is hope. If this practice can inspire hope, that is all I desire, and I think it will!

If it doesn’t seem to help me out of the bad times, I know it will honestly be painful. However, I want to come back to this paper and remember that there is hope no matter what! Perhaps, the practice needs to be changed. Perhaps, I should ask some of my yogic friends who struggle with similar scars. Something will work, I just need to find it!

 

4.) Results: Describe how your practice (#2) affected you and the condition, perhaps keeping a journal or log.

  1. Alternate nostril breathing: This really helped me slow down and focus most of the time. However, I think it would be good to have an alternative breath assigned for the times I am feeling stuffy. I had a stuffy nose a couple of the times I did the practice and would get rather annoyed and agitated trying to do the breath rather than calm. I think I will add Breath of Fire to my “911 Emergency” series as an alternative, so I don’t feel stuck with one choice.(Click these links for demonstrations of the breath techniques mentions: Alternate Nostril Breathing and Breath of Fire)
  2. Cobra or sphinx while chanting “vom”: I liked the posture because it opens up the chest, which always helps give me a small boost of confidence. The chant wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really seem to do much for me either. I am thinking of replacing the “vom” chant with my own words, depending on the need for the day, such as: hope, peace, joy, etc. When I am not feeling very connected with myself, I am definitely not feeling connected to “random chants”, or at least that’s how I was feeling.
  3. Breath of Joy: This was the best! If I only have time to do one thing, it would be this one! I instantly felt lighter and like I really had opened the door for my depression gremlins to hit the road. A  few sometimes remained, but I was still impressed with the result. It really woke up the body too, which was a great way to warm up for the Sun Salutations. (Click here for a demonstration of Breath of Joy)
  4. Sun Salutations A: This is always a good one. There is a lot of chest opening, which really does increase my confidence and made me feel ready for what might still be ahead of me. I don’t know if Sun Salutations alone would make me feel as light and ready-to-go without the delicious Breath of Joy beforehand, but they are a great combination together. (Click here to learn Sun Salutations A)
  5. Active meditation: I was honestly shocked by this one, there were times I felt completely comfortable just sitting still at the end of the practice! That is huge for me and I am honestly amazed with the result. Sometimes, I didn’t feel like I could connect with the chanting (which is odd, because I normally love it), but I always felt meditative through doodling. There is something calming about zentangles and mandalas because it takes focus, yet the mind becomes empty. It is difficult to describe, but definitely awesome.

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5.) Summary and Conclusion: Summarize your results and conclude your study. Do you accept or reject your hypothesis and why? Can you apply your conclusion beyond this project? In your teaching?

I am really impressed with the results. As I suggested in my hypothesis, I stayed aware of myself and when depression was starting to say “hello”. Due to the added awareness of Yoga Teacher Training and the holidays, it never got to the miserable levels I described before, so I am curious to see how well it works if I ever get to that point in the future. I wanted to inspire hope within my heart and soul through this practice and I truly did! I am a little shocked though at how powerful the Breath of Joy practice was. I didn’t think one technique alone might help in a quick “911 Emergency” situation, but I may have found one. I am really grateful for this project or I might not have done the research that led me to the practice. Everything happens for a reason!

I am eager to continue using this sequence. I think the best part is knowing I have this “bag of tricks” to combat the depression so I don’t feel so overwhelmed, scared, and worried about what to do the next time it may enter my life. I am hoping to share my experience with my mom and sisters, who also struggle with the same afflictions, and am really encouraged that it may be a great assistance to their own battles. Furthermore, it gives me a series of techniques I can give to anyone else who might share the same needs. I hope I can help someone else feel like there’s hope, like they can say, “Hey there depression! I am ready for you this time, TAKE THAT!”

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Again, thanks for letting me share! I hope you all have a great weekend and get out and do something that makes you happy. Much love, Taryn xoxo

Update: From Burnt Out to On Fire!

“Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire” – St. Catherine of Sienna

I am so excited to give you all an update on how I have been doing since my posted titled: Confession, I am burnt outI had such an out pour of support from family, good friends, and acquaintances and I felt so loved and understood. Getting everything off my stress and admitting how I felt really gave me the courage and motivation to lay it all out and let it all go. I did not beat myself up or let shame dwell inside me; I simply walked away. I thank you all for letting me use this as a platform for my transformation.

It’s been a few weeks, so obviously, life isn’t perfectly transformed. However, I feel so different. I feel excited for the future and eager to grab a hold of every opportunity that crosses my path. Let me tell ya, that’s huge improvement!

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I read this great article today: 10 Simple Act of Radical Self-Care by Mind Body Green. I just read this a few hours ago, but it perfectly sums up some of the commitments I have made to myself and it is a good read for anyone needing some motivation. (It is funny; just last week I had a co-worker tell me that the concept of “self-love” was for hippies, so I have been sharing these articles with her. This one is perfect)

#6 on the list has been HUGE for me! It isn’t just about forgiving myself, it’s about letting go of my high expectations. Can I tell you something crazy? As soon as I let go of my desire to complete my yoga teacher training by the end of this year, it suddenly became possible. Letting go of the expectation removed the negative energy I had directed at my yoga homework and practice. Now, I am eager to get homework done and learn more things. I have stopped finding excuses for why I can’t get things done or try something new and I am finding many reasons for why I can and should! I feel like I am on fire about yoga again, especially after taking the time to expand my horizons and try something new: acro yoga! I am in love!

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Another major practice I have implemented into my life is meditation (#1 on the Mind Body Green list). Not that I never meditated before, but I never made it a priority. I meditated maybe once a week, and felt terribly guilty about how terrible I was for not being yogi enough. Again, as soon as I let go of that expectation and reminded myself that it is just as important as brushing my  teeth in the morning, it became easier. I’m not gonna say I have sat down every morning, but almost!

Changing my perspective about everything has been such a game changer for me. I am working hard to remove negative words from my vocabulary and find the good in my life. I am practicing gratitude and acceptance. I am putting my health first, because I can’t take care of anyone else if I am not taking care of myself.

However, I swear the best change I have made is #10 on the list: Do what you LOVE. It is such a simple concept, but it is making such a difference in my life. Let me give you some examples of the silly, fun, and positive activities I have been adding to my life:

Audio books: I feel sad about the lack of time in my life to sit down and read a book, but audio books are perfect for my long drives. I am absolutely in love with Amazon’s Audible membership. I suggest reading Brene Brown. Her audio book The Power of Vulnerability is just amazing!

Singing and dancing: If I am not listening to an audiobook in the car, I am singing. AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS! I am jamming to Glee, passionately bellowing love songs (to myself!), and my animation goes through the roof when I start playing my Disney tunes. I am not embarrassed by passer-byers, I am thriving in my courage to do whatever the f*** I want! (safely of course!) I also dance in the kitchen and sing to my dogs, which I think really annoys them…

Doodling and journaling: About nothing, about everything, zentangles, alphabets, you name its.

Smiling. For. No. Reason.

Calling friends: This is one of my all time favorite activities, as most of my friends are really far away.

Baking. New Recipes. Documentaries. The list goes on and one. Actually, I have made myself a fun list of things I can do when I need a pick-me-up:

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I wish I could explain to everyone how different I feel. I hope you can hear a change of tone in my writing, as those around me are seeing. I even had a fellow classmate tell me I was “glowing love and happiness” the other day. Who? ME? YES!!! I am dreaming. I am making goals. I am optimistic. I feel connected with my husband more than I have in months. I feel confident. I hope you are all feeling confident too. Radical self-care is soooo important!

I love you all. Keep dreaming and keep doing the silly things you love.

xoxo Taryn

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Confession: I am burnt out

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Good morning y’all. (WARNING: Today’s post is full of pinterest quotes…. lovin’ it)

So I’m finally making a blog post. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been pretty busy, but I have had time to write. It honestly just came down to a lack of desire to write about anything, or do anything at all. Mostly, because what has been weighing heavily on my mind is not something I really want to speak about publicly. But here I am, and I have a confession to make: I’m burnt out. And on top of being burnt out, I’m slipping back into depression, eating terribly, and complaining constantly. I’ve developed a bad attitude.

I’m been afraid to write about thing because I started this blog months ago when I started my yoga teacher training, with high hopes of encouraging others to lead a lifestyle that is healthy and promotes their well being, which is how I was living my life at the time. So, writing about how tired I am and how unmotivated I am to do anything did not sound like a wise choice. After deeper thought, I realized that it is unfair to hold myself to such high standards and it is good for me to let go of what I consider “failures” so I can move on and let go.

I’ve been busy, and pretty overwhelmed between work life, yoga homework, married life, weddings, birthdays, yoga homework, the heartache of loved ones moving away, the stress of buying a new vehicle, yoga homework, etc. Did you get the hint that I have felt a little overwhelmed about yoga homework?! For those of you who make a 45 minute trek regularly to attend your favorite yoga class, I applaud you! I thought 3-4 classes a week was doable, but I was forgetting about cooking dinners, getting chores done, dogs cared for, chickens tended to, and a social/family life to attend. So, I backed off on the amount of yoga I was able to accomplish to complete my course on time (and have hated on myself ever since!).

However, the two things that scare me to most are personal failure and disappointing others. I am very behind in yoga. I am finding myself unable of accomplish my normal level of homework. I am forced to tell people “no”… and it’s killing me! It is killing me because I am beating myself up about it.

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I read this article about burn out. It explains there are ten signs that you are burning out (pretty much my current situation in a nut shell) and they are as follows:

  1. Exhaustion – yes, yes, yes
  2. Lack of Motivation – yup. Even a blog post sounds like too much work
  3. Frustration, cynicism, and other negative emotions – what I just described ^^^
  4. Cognitive problems – it’s like ADD, but I don’t have that problem generally. I’ll explain this problem below.
  5. Slipping Job Performance – and blaming it on #4
  6. Interpersonal Problems at Home and at work – my relationships are sucking
  7. Not taking care of yourself – not eating well and drinking more wine…
  8. Being preoccupied with work… when you’re not at work –I actually don’t have this problem, thank goodness!
  9. Generally decreased satisfaction – I know, I’m only unsatisfied because “I’m a terrible person”
  10. Health problems – probably due to #1 and #7… and stress

Here’s my basic, daily scenario (sorry, it’s long!): Force myself out of bed (#1) to shower. Drag myself onto my yoga mat to lazily (#2) do some sun salutations and I lot of floor work. Savasana. Start to meditate… decide meditation was accomplished somewhat in savasana and I have to get ready anyway (#2). Get to work ten minutes late. (#4) Work day consists of getting some things done, rolling my eyes at my co-wokers (#6) who want me to do extra work, reading an article on how to like my job better (#9), watching six buzzfeed videos, looking at my un-ending to-do list (#4), filling my coffee cup “one last time” (#1), running home for lunch to pack food for Tanner and do the dishes from last night, forget to eat (#7), complaining about all the work I have to get done, eat a couple crackers, answer some emails… Finally it’s 5:00! I’ll just stop on the way home for detergent really fast…. Spend an hour wondering the store (#4)… Get home to do yoga homework…hmm… let’s see. What does trikonasana mean? Okay, let’s look it up on the internet. Oh wait, but there is this funny buzzfeed video. (#4) HAHA love it. Gotta share this with my sister…. Then I’ll google trikonasana. Googling…. Oh shoot. I need to feed the dogs… Cool, dogs fed. Oh crap, gotta call my mom back. I can do that while I keep googling trikonasana. 20 minute conversation… don’t have a clue what she said the entire conversation (#6)… but I do have one sentence done of my homework. Perfect. It’s really quiet in the house; I will just turn on the tv for back ground noise. Okay, trikonasana description is done. Ten more words to go, not bad. It’s getting late though. I should prolly eat something, but I haven’t had time for grocery shopping lately… I’ll just eat some more crackers and wash it down with some wine to make me tired for bed (#7). I gotta be in bed soon so I get my eight hours of sleep so I can be healthy! Focus on homework… it’s due tonight. CRAP! Blah, blah, blah. Another glass of wine… Finish my terms and I finally head to bed (hopefully washing my face and teeth). Remind myself of all the reasons for why I was a failure today and how disappointed everyone must be (#3) It’s nearly midnight and the dog hasn’t been played with so he is running around the room while I’m trying to sleep.

Boom! Alarm goes off and I feel like crap (#10) but if I don’t get out of bed right now, I won’t do any yoga… but I can do yoga tonight instead…. I’ll sleep in. I don’t need a shower… It is long pants and hair-in-a-bun day and I will complain all day to myself about how horrible I look (#7). And of course, I won’t have time for yoga tonight.

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Okay, so that was pretty long and annoying, but it is how my mind works lately. I tell everyone about how great yoga is and how it has cured my depression. Which it has, but that doesn’t mean it can go unchecked. I have talked myself into such a negative spiral. I am terrified I am a failure because I may not finish yoga in time and now my yoga practice is a stressor and not my release. I have made up the idea that my husband is going to be super disappointed in me for my failures or not keeping up with things, so I blame him for making me so stressed and the lists go on and on.

Taking a step back, I have realized a few things:

  1. I have time. I will admit, there is not a lot of extra time. But it is there and I can cultivate it by staying focused
  2. I am not a failure. So what if I don’t finish my yoga training “on time”. Life happens. I will get there. Hating on myself is not going to help
  3. I have got to let go of distraction. Turn off the social media and TV. I have got to compartmentalize my day to get things done instead of trying to kill three birds with one stone by doing yoga homework, relaxing in front of the tv, and eating dinner. Focus on one thing at a time, preferably in order of priorities.
  4. Remember my health is my #1 priority. If I am not taking care of myself, failure and burn out are inevitable. If I put myself first, the things I want to do will become easier.
  5. Lean on others. I am terrible at asking for help and admitting when I am unable to do something. Allow myself to lean on others for support instead of having an attitude that I can stand on my own two feet while complaining about a lack of support.

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I am not perfect. My typical lifestyle IS healthy and happy and thriving. But we all fall sometimes, we just need to get back up and love ourselves anyway. A better attitude can help turn any situation around.

I’ll get off my soapbox now… Just needed to be publically REAL for a moment.

Love y’all, Taryn xoxo

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