Chair pose has always been the most mentally challenging one for me. I’ve read that the poses that challenge you most are often the ones you need the most. I feel that.
The Sanskrit word is Utkatasana and it means powerful pose. It builds endurance and stamina. It balances the body and brings determination to the mind. It opens energetic channels in the body, especially around the heart. Yep, I definitely need that.
As I begin to sink my hips back for chair, I instantly fight it. I tell myself I cannot do it. It is too hard. My instinct is to stand right back up and skip it.
When I first returned to my mat in my early grief, I could only practice slow flows. After some time, I started to take Leba’s power class. When it was time for chair or another difficult pose, and I only wanted to bail, I created an affirmation for myself.
I can do hard things.
I can do hard things.
I can do hard things.
I linked this phrase to my breath and I learned how to stay in the discomfort to gain the benefits.
First I practiced it on my mat, then I carried it with me off my mat. When a pummeling wave of grief would rise and swell, I would repeat to myself:
I can do hard things.
I can do hard things.
I can do hard things.
Then I linked my affirmation to my breath and I learned how to stay in the discomfort of the wave.
I bawled and continued to focus on my breath and my phrase as the wave knocked me down. I let it wash over me . . . and then I got back up again. Over and over and over. I still do.
This is one of the many beautiful lessons from my yoga practice. What you practice on your mat strengthens you, stays with you and stretches into the rest of your life.
I just sat down to finalize & glue my 2021 vision board when a powerful memory rushed over me. I had to pause to follow where it led me and get it into words before I could continue.
January 2016 was the first time I set an intention for my year. It came to me in a voice & a vision on my mat at the Yoga Lounge. Be Love. They had the shirt with these words hanging in the lobby. It was even purple. I purchased it and brought it home as my wearable symbol of my focus for the new year. I would make my choices from a place of love. I felt as if I was overflowing with love in the improved health that I had created and I wanted to share it. I knew it was going to be the best year of my life and I wanted to be open and fully present in it.
My husband died less than two months later.
I stood for hours at his calling hours as the line of people poured in to mourn Kenny and pay their respects to me and our family. My loved ones encouraged me a few times to take a break, but I couldn’t. I desperately needed to hear the words that each person came to share with me. While much of the memories from those early days are wrapped in a cloudy fog, I will always carry the overall theme with me. Kenny was LOVE. He was out in the world “being love” in his own unique ways. I heard story after story about the times Kenny helped someone out, both legally and as a genuine friend. For so many people, he was their one phone call. They knew when he answered, they would reach a nonjudgmental, wise friend who would listen and, if needed, share his counsel. I still wonder about those people and hope they have found someone else they can trust to call. I was also told, over and over, about how much Kenny loved us, the way he would light up when he talked about me, Josh and Jane, how proud he was to be my husband and their father. Kenny was not a publicly mushy guy, and though I knew he loved us, it was still somewhat surprising to hear that he gushed about us. I tried to look each person in the eyes and let their stories soak into my mind and soul.
The next morning, I dragged myself out of bed in a haze of utter shock and despair realizing I needed to get dressed to attend my husband’s funeral. Inspired by all of the Kenny stories, I reached into my closet and pulled my Be Love shirt off the hanger. I knew the only way I could survive, if that was even possible, was to keep believing in love.
The church was packed when we arrived. (I’ll try to put this into words, but I am certain they will fall short). The sanctuary was filled with both limitless love and unbearable pain. I had never felt so loved, and at the same time I felt like my suffering would crush the life out of me. I bawled, and I actually laughed, as people shared their eulogies. All of these paradoxical, overpowering feelings existed all together.
Near the end, I was compelled to turn around and look at everyone in the aisles. With our three-year-old daughter perched on my hip, I slowly turned in a circle to take in all of the faces, to show her all of the people who came because Kenny is important to them. I immersed myself in the compassion and love coming through their eyes. I am so grateful I followed that instinct to have that moment to keep with me forever.
At the end of his service, someone walked up front to take a picture of the crowd. At first the idea made me cringe. Who would want to document this horrible moment? But then I realized I might cherish the photo someday and it would serve as a visual reminder of all of the indescribable feelings I experienced that day, the big, expansive love that Kenny shared while he was here, and all of the lives that will continue to be influenced by his love. Most of us actually smiled for the photo as we shone in the light of Kenny’s love.
I’m holding these brutiful memories close and keeping Kenny’s love with me as I set my intention and vision for another year without him here.
Skin-On Garlic Smashed Potatoes with Crispy Prosciutto, Onions, and Pine Nuts
I’m super excited to get to share a sneak peek of this delicious recipe from the newly revised cookbook, Cooking Whole30!
My family tried this recipe last night & it is a super keeper! We went the bacon route & the flavor combination was SO delicious. I often top burgers with sautéed onions & bacon, but I hadn’t yet tried them on smashed potatoes.
Give this tasty Whole30 recipe a try & let me know what you think!
Garlicky potatoes are made creamy with ghee and coconut milk and topped with caramelized onion, crisped prosciutto and toasted pine nuts. They’re fancy enough for a dinner party or a holiday, but simple enough for a weeknight dinner.
Prep: 20 Minutes
Cook: 20 Minutes
Total: 40 Minutes
2 large russet potatoes (1⁄2 pound)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon Clarified Butter (page 289) or ghee, melted
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk
4 thin slices prosciutto, or 3 slices Whole30-compatible bacon, chopped
1 sweet onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, Chicken Bone Broth (page 284), or Whole30-compatible chicken broth
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted (see Tip, page 19)
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and garlic and cook until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain. Mash with a potato masher or hand mixer. Stir in the butter and salt. With a wooden spoon or hand mixer, beat in the coconut milk. Cover and keep warm.Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the prosciutto over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the prosciutto is crispy and the onion is tender and brown on some of the edges, about 8 minutes more. Add the vinegar to the pan and stir to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom.Spoon the onion mixture over the mashed potatoes and sprinkle with the pine nuts.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is yet another helpful personality framework.
Your type is determined through an assessment based on four questions. Each of the four questions have two possible determinations, and therefore add up to 16 personality different types:
Are you outwardly or inwardly focused? Extroversion or Introversion (E or I)
How do you prefer to take in information? Sensing or iNtuition (S or N)
How do you prefer to make decisions? Thinking or Feeling (T or F)
How do you prefer to live your outer life? Judging or Perceiving (J or P)
I am considered an INFP known as the Mediator. (Well . . . no surprise there, right?!)
My results state that my role is diplomat and my strategy is constant improvement. (Yes and also yes).
INFPs are capable of great empathy and enjoy communicating emotions, stories and dreams. We are imaginative and crave creative self-expression.
This knowledge helped me to understand why I totally dread small talk and get all lit up during deep conversations. Instead of seeing this as a flaw, I can appreciate where I struggle and where I shine. I can use my strengths AND step out of my comfort zone.
We do best when we focus on one cause at a time because we can easily get overwhelmed by all the issues in the world. Without this focus, we can easily give up on everything.
I absolutely have this tendency, and understand that paralyzed feeling when all I want to do is curl up in bed. I will retreat if I need to (ain’t no shame in a nap!) but it has been quite awhile since I have shut down in that way. Now when I start to feel overwhelmed, I know to take a deep breath and focus on one thing at a time.
I use personality frameworks to better understand and support myself, my loved ones and clients. My research has allowed me to realize that everyone thinks, perceives and shows up differently in the world. There isn’t one correct way. This knowledge also helps me to take things less personally, and creates space to show more patience and kindness to others. It helps me to understand what works for me may not work for others and vice versa. It has opened up my eyes to appreciate all the various ways we experience the world. It encourages me to be curious instead of rigid and stubborn. I mean . . . I’m working on it, but I certainly haven’t perfected any of this!
Do you know your type? If not and you’re interested, there is a free test you can take through 16 personalities or a paid assessment through Myers-Briggs. You will answer several questions that will lead to the determination of your type.
My most fave of all the personality frameworks is the Enneagram. It is deep and layered and fascinating. I have studied up on my number quite a bit, and I have only begun to scratch the surface.
I’m a 9 – The Peaceful Mediator
I’m SO a nine.
When I first read about my number, I felt like someone had picked my brain and published my deepest inner thoughts without my permission.
In health, 9s are calm, easygoing, accepting and kind. They see all sides, feel empathy & mediate to find equitable solutions. (I mean, I earned my degrees in Applied Conflict Management!)
When unhealthy, 9s go along to get along, detach and choose false peace over truth. Our instinct is to meld instead of meeting issues head-on. Ooof. (Stop looking at me, SWAN).
Imagine the calm surface of a lake. No wind, no movement, no ripples, smooth and reflective as a mirror. This is where 9s find comfort, in undisturbed peace.
We don’t want to rock the boat. Above all else, we maintain the serenity. It is my instinct to choose the peace of the moment, to keep the surface tranquil, over making the waves that are necessary to effectively resolve conflict.
Knowing this about myself, I can do the work to consciously choose better options. The Enneagram supports me to better understand my wiring and accept my design while using it as a tool to empower myself to grow and make healthier choices.
The Enneagram shines a light on my tendencies, how I was made, and frees me to be how I was created AND work to find health, support my strengths and face my weaknesses with love.
This is only a very basic description of my number and the Enneagram. There are wings, triads, blind spot paths, growth paths, core motivations and more. If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend starting with Suzanne Stabile and Your Enneagram Coach.