Day 31 + Beyond: Body Love Yoga Challenge {Surrender}

I’ve found myself lately in a place of immense gratitude.  Gratitude for this life I live.  Gratitude for this body I am able to explore it in.  Gratitude for the amazing family, friends and healers that continue to come into my life when I least expect it. I know.  It’s been nearly three {THREE!?!} months since I last wrote.  Nearly three months since my self-induced Body Love Yoga Challenged concluded.

Where does the time go, we always ask?

When I committed to the yoga challenge I had no idea what I was really signing up for.

But then again, do we ever??

Practicing yoga daily truly broke me open and, one of the gifts it shared with me was in the amazing art of surrendering.

Surrendering to what I thought was; surrendering to how I thought it – life, my body, me – should be.

The yoga challenge reminded me that Life doesn’t always go as planned.  Yes, the Challenge ended on my 31st birthday {as planned}, yet what I hadn't planned for was, well, Life.  I had visions of hosting a fun group yoga session on my big day with beautiful friends in Seattle, all of us glistening from 31 days of straight yoga, perfectly toned and totally grounded in our beautiful bodies.

Life sure is funny sometimes.

You know, for so long I have had people telling me, "Just let go Jamie.  Allow life to happen.  Surrender."

Have you ever heard these words?  I wonder if they sound as elusive to you as it did to me.  I remember listening to Wayne Dyer a few years ago and he said something that has forever remained in my head.  To paraphrase, in my words, "So many people believe life is about doing.  Doing this, doing that.  But life is in fact about being done.  Letting go and allowing life to take the reins."

Wait, what?  How could this be?

I mean if we just allow life to happen, isn't that nearly impossible?  Doesn't some sort of action on our end need to be involved?

This one idea gave me so much resistance {and anxiety!}!  The me who was always on the go, always making plans, scheduling dates, doing, going, living, creating, accepting, starting, postponing, completing, quitting.  

That girl?  Well she didn't like this idea of surrendering so much or giving anyone or anything else the steering wheel to her life.

And yet, slowly over the past few months I started to get it.

I realized letting go and allowing life to do me {put so eloquently} wasn't about sitting on my couch and being lazy {although I am learning that sometimes in fact that is just what life is}.  No.  In fact it is about recognizing and realizing that we have a path and the universe wants to support us on this path, of least resistance.

Think about it.

Have you ever tried so hard for something to only just keep coming up against roadblocks, with it just seeming so difficult?  I have come to believe that yes, there are difficult times and lessons to be had in life.  Yet also I know that life isn't meant to be hard.  That relationship you're in, that job you're in, that life you are living?  It's not meant to be painful, it's not meant to feel like you're living on pins + needles.  I have come to believe that, when in fact life feels like you are meandering thru molasses, well then life is trying to tell you something.

It's time to let go.

And yes letting go may in fact mean making a change and taking action - like leaving a relationship or changing a job, but first it's about letting go and listening.

So, no, my 31st birthday was the furthest thing from smiles, svelte bodies and the yogi glow I had expected.

As some of you may know from my last post, in January of 2013 I embarked on a journey that – at the time - I was completely unaware of.  It was a journey to reclaiming the light I had once ago, lost sight of.    What followed for me was 14 months of breaking down, giving in, letting go and recognizing the difference between doing and being.

The truth is – this journey has been trip, a real eye-opening trip.  It’s been challenging and at times, heartbreaking and yet, an amazing ride-going inward, looking in the mirror, getting honest with myself and beginning to find faith in the realization that we are not alone on our path. I prayed.  A lot.  And I began to give in.  I gave up.  I let go. And I surrendered.  Before I even knew it, something {someone} was shifting and I’ve started to come out the other side a drastically different person and yet, the person I’ve always been.  That may not make much sense to most, but to a select few it may need no explanation.

See, we all come into this world with a gift - a light, a fire that burns deep within – not just some of us, BUT ALL OF US.

To me, depression, addiction and unhappiness are the symptoms of trying to extinguish this fire within – or perhaps an ignorance or unwillingness to look at our gift{s} at face value, without judgment or ambivalence.

I know for me, this was precisely the case.

After two years of not having a period, whatsoever, and producing practically no estrogen, my body gave me a gift.  The most precious, magical and soul-shaking gift imaginable – my period.  I GOT MY PERIOD.  I love this.  I love that I am announcing to the world that me, a 31-year-old woman, got my period.  But if you read my last blog you'll know why I want to shout this from the rooftops.  Two years and 63 days later and I got my period.  What an AMAZING gift this was to me.   This thing that us women so often take for granted and more likely consider a pain in our little behinds was such a blessing to me.  I was {am} ecstatic.  My body wanted to heal.  It reminded me that I am whole.  All of our bodies want to heal.  We are meant to be whole and healthy and complete just the way we are.  For the first time in the longest time ever I began to fall in love with my body.

It's not always easy.  But more of my days have been freed up from incessant thoughts surrounding my body and what food and exercise I need/should/can't have to control it.  I'm sharing all of this because as I begin to build my business, The Blissful Kitchen, I realize how integral the piece surrounding body love + acceptance is to the puzzle. And so as I begin to explore and unravel this it’s taken me nearly 3 months to write this post because I wasn’t quite sure what or how much to share.  For so long I wanted to speak much more about my journey the past year and yet, I never seemed to be able to put into words the truth and pure perfection of it.

And then I received an E-mail from this amazing gal sharing her latest blog.  Yes, her name is also Jamie and yes, she also dealt with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea {the short of what is: when a the hypothalamus stops telling your body to produce the necessary reproductive hormones to get a period.  Your period can stop for several months, or in my case, several years.  Often thought to be stress-induced from over-exercise, undereating, mental or emotional stressors, etc.}.

Sometimes we are blessed to meet people with similar stories and similar paths that provide us a sense of truth and comfort in knowing we’re not alone in our journey.

I first met Jamie about a year ago at an amazing healing place in Seattle, The Tummy Temple.  I had no idea at the time that we shared the same heartache, confusion and sense of loss over not getting our period.  I didn’t know the string that strung us together until I went into Tummy Temple a few months later and she was running around glowing about the fact that she had just gotten her period.  Of course my ears instantly perked up – this clearly was not your usual case of getting our menses.  I mean this girl was glowing.  So of course I asked and soon learned that she, too, had been working to recover from disordered eating and regain a period that had seemed to elude her.

I felt a sense renewed hope and also instant longing for what she had and I did not.  Little did I know then that my time was coming, I just had a few more lessons along the way.

I wanted to share Jamie’s blog because it says so much that I could never have vocalized. In it, she shares not only her journey with HA, but also gives incredible insight into her thoughts, feelings and experience with losing her period, disordered eating and how self-love {or the lack thereof it} pl body and the divine feminine.

Nearly every word speaks resounding truth for me and for this, I am so grateful to her and so wanted to share her journey.

For any woman who has ever struggled with infertility or hypothalamic amenorrhea or early menopause – this is for you. And actually this is for any woman, period, who has struggled at times with body love and self-acceptance too.

RESOURCES:

Direct link to Jamie Lashbrook, with Wellbelly: 
http://www.wellbellyhealing.com/blog/2014/04/the-dark-side-of-the-moon-beating-hypothalmic-amenorrhea

For more on my journey with HA, read this and for more information on what exactly HA is, check out this

And since HA is considered stress-induced {what isn’t!?} , I wanted to share with you what has worked best for me.

My Top 3 Essentials for Learning to Let Go + Surrender:

  1. Daily meditation or prayer routine.  This can start at simply 5 minutes, but give yourself  space to just be. Listen to a meditation podcast, inspirational talk or your favorite tune.  Find a quiet place in your home where you can be in stillness and go explore the faith + peace that abounds within you!
  2. Journal and reflect on what it is you are holding on to.  Writing for me has been a true healer.  When we sit long enough and really allow ourselves the space, the truth will come forward and give us the answers.  You know, I know, we all know, what troubles us and what will make us happy.  We just need to sit still long enough to allow our inner wisdom to come thru.
  3. Become a witness rather than a persecutor.  How often are you judging yourself? Judging others?  What if you could change that critiquing little voice in your head to one that supported you and inspired you?  Amazing right?!  Start by picking a positive affirmation that resonates with you and one that you can easily remember.  A few easy options:

I am enough.

I am loved.

Or simply, I am.

Then next time the negative chatter begins to creep in, simply just start repeating your mantra over and over, in your head – out loud if it feels right {and you’re not in a crowded space or your office J}.  For an even faster response you can write your mantra down 7 times.

Love + light to each and everyone of you!!!!