Take Care of YOU

Growing-into-your-futureSometimes people tell me they really want to do yoga on a regular basis, but just don’t have the time. I understand what it’s like to wish there were more hours in the day. For example, as I write this, it’s after midnight, but my two kids are asleep, and I’ve answered all the emails and private messages for the day. Things are quiet now, and I can think. Do I wish it was 9pm, so I could get more sleep? Yep. Earlier today, I taught two classes, one in the morning and one this evening, and in between, I played “The Game of Life” with my kids, chased them around outside, took our dog for a walk, squeezed in two business calls, and threw my mat down in the middle of the living room for 30 minutes, in the midst of a mad dress-up game that involved ninjas, scientists, and a hunt for poltergeists. Sometimes that’s how it is. Of course I prefer a nice, quiet ninety minutes on my mat, and a solid thirty for seated meditation, but I’ll take thirty minutes total over nothing, even if my kids are running back and forth through the room. It’s summertime. They’ll be back in school before I know it, and I’ll have a little more time to take care of myself. It’s a different kind of yoga, but just as powerful. And there’s something sweet about it; sometimes they join me. I’ll take ten or fifteen minutes for some sun salutes and a chance to connect to my breath, align myself, and open things up, if that’s all I can work in. Maybe some pigeon pose while my kids sit on my back. When we say we’re “too busy” to take care of ourselves, something has really gone awry.

It might surprise you to know that ten minutes is better than nothing. And please don’t misunderstand me, here, I think you deserve more time than that to nurture yourself, but if you’re someone who isn’t doing anything at all because you feel overwhelmed and frustrated at the thought of trying to squeeze in two hours to drive somewhere, park, throw your mat down in a class and head home, I get it. It’s one of the many reasons we wanted to offer online options for people. I have a whole bunch of classes called “Yoga for Busy Moms.” (Dads can take it, too, and so can busy people with dogs, cats or fish). We have another section called, “Fully Cooked in 45 or Less.” A lot of studios, including ours, are offering 60-minute and 75-minute classes in addition to the traditional 90, because not everyone can carve out that kind of time in their days. Doing something to nurture and strengthen yourself is always better than doing nothing. Always. Saying you don’t have the time to commit to yourself is really really sad. Your relationship with yourself is the foundation for all the relationships in your life. If you don’t fill your tank, where do you expect to find the fuel to care for anyone else well? How can you pursue your passions if you don’t allow yourself some time, every single day, to tune in and get quiet, so you can hear the voice of your intuition, and allow yourself to be pulled by it?

Everything feels better after I’ve practiced, for any amount of time. If this is a new concept for you, just commit to 15 minutes a day for 2 weeks, and see how you feel. I guarantee you’ll find you have more energy, and you feel calmer and steadier. I mentioned I played the game of Life with my kids today. I’d never played it before, so we read the directions together before we started. If you’ve never played it, you spin a wheel and take your car a certain number of spaces, and you land on an “Action”. The action might be to start a rock band, and pay the bank 50k. Or you might land on a house and have to pay the bank 300k. Sometimes you get paid, because your cake was the tastiest, or you had the best disco moves. But right there, in the directions, before we’d even started, it said, “At the end of the game, the person with the most money wins.” And I looked up at my kids and I said, “This might be how you win this game called, ‘Life’”, but in real life, at the end, the person with the most money does not win.” They already know this, because we talk about this stuff, and you already know this, too, I realize that, but sometimes we need reminding. You can’t take it with you. Your house isn’t going with you, and neither is your car, your wardrobe, your shoes, your promotion, your corner office, or your degrees. My son was funny. Every time he had to pay the bank for something, he said, “That’s okay, because now I get to have a cool farmhouse with a sheep on top, and sheep are cool.” Or, “That’s okay, because I got to go on a trip and see the world.” The most valuable assets you can accrue are experiences. Experiences that include cultivating the relationships in your life so they grow and blossom and take your breath away. Spending time with your children because they grow so fast, and soon they’ll be taller than you, and soon you’ll be teaching them to drive, and one day they’ll drive away from you. If you nurture them and listen to them and laugh with them and talk to them, my guess is, they’ll also come back because they’ll want to be near you. Especially if they feel safe and heard and understood. And this goes for all the people in your life. Maybe you don’t have kids, but you have parents and friends and family members, and you have the relationship you’re having with yourself. You need to cultivate that, too. Please don’t say you don’t have time for that. Because that really is losing the game of Life. If you sign up for our site here, you get a free 15-day trial. Let me meet you in your living room for 2 weeks. It’s time for you to start winning this game.

Sending you love, and a giant hug,

Ally Hamilton

Say Yes to Yourself

coelhoIt’s really important to be conscious of where you direct your energy. It’s easy to get caught up in all kinds of mental gymnastics that will do nothing but exhaust and deplete you. For example, you really don’t need to spend your energy on anyone else’s drama. You may have friends who always have some urgent thing happening—a fight with their neighbor, a disagreement with a friend or colleague, an ongoing frustration with their partner—that they want to discuss endlessly with you. You might also realize you’re drained when you walk away from these interactions. Or, maybe you’re allowing yourself to obsess about things over which you have no control (that would include most things). Perhaps you’re spending an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and fantasizing about a person who would be with you, “if only they could.” You only have so much energy, and you only have so much time.

Sometimes we overextend ourselves and say yes to everyone else, sacrificing our own needs and wants in the process. If you’re miserable, you’re not going to have a lot to offer anyone. Self-care is not selfish; it’s necessary. If you’re someone who’s a natural giver and helper, you really have to watch your tendency to leave nothing in the tank for yourself. You might be able to show up for other people, but you’d have so much more to give if you took care of yourself, too. If you’ve ever ridden on a plane, you’re familiar with the directive in case of a “water landing”—you’re supposed to secure your own oxygen mask first, before you try to help anyone else, including your children. If you pass out, after all, then they’re really in trouble.

Sometimes we spend a lot of our energy thinking about how we look, and that usually includes our dissatisfaction with where we’re at right now. And in the time it takes to berate yourself, you could have gone for a quick walk around the block, elevating your heart rate, and taking in the trees, or the sun, or the breeze on your cheek. You could have done ten minutes of yoga, which might have served as a reset button for your day, or might have brought you into alignment with what’s in your heart. Ten minutes to connect to your breath and open yourself up is more powerful than you might imagine. It sure beats ten minutes of staring at a “beauty” magazine, which is not about beauty at all.

Everything you eat, read, watch and think about is food for your mind, your heart, and your body. They work together, and the more you feed yourself well, the better you’ll feel in all these areas. If you gossip about someone, you’re going to walk away from that exchange feeling crappy about yourself, because you’ll know you fed a weak part of who you are. You really want to choose the thoughts and activities that will strengthen you and fill you up with yes. Then you can take that yes, and spread it all over the place.

Carve out some time in your days that’s just for you. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but let it be enough that you can hear that inner voice. Without that, you’ll really be lost at sea, and may find yourself saying yes, when you really mean no. You may find you’re running on empty at a time when you need to be able to fire things up (which is most of the time). You’re precious, and you have gifts to share that only you can. In order to do that, you need to direct your energy. Don’t waste it on the meaningless stuff.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Check out my books here, and please send me love as I work on book number three 🙂

Get Comfortable!

Its-surprising-how-manyI think there are many people out there who feel alone and afraid and quietly desperate, worrying that they are really just unlovable at their core. That they’re not pretty enough or strong enough or smart or funny or tall or skinny or rich or sexy or charismatic, or whatever enough, to matter much to anyone. If that speaks to you, I want you to get a little closer to your screen. Because I really think you need to get clear on something: those are all lies.

When you were born, someone marveled at your 10 perfect little fingers, and 10 chubby little toes. Maybe it wasn’t your parents; sometimes, through no fault of our own, we are born to people who don’t know how to receive the gift of a miracle. But someone looked at your little digits, and thought they were amazing. You could look at them right now, just to make sure they’re still there, and also to remind yourself, you are still a miracle. The 37 trillion or so cells that compose you have never come together for anyone else in exactly the same way before, and they never will again. Of all the moments you could have shown up, you arrived when you did, on your birthday. Happy Birthday, by the way!!! I’m so glad you were born.

No one else has your smile, your laugh, or that twinkle in your eye. That’s yours. No one says things exactly the way you do, or has those little quirks you have. No one else has your exact memories, heartbreaks, joys and particular gifts. I’m sorry, but I just reject the idea that this is all a coincidence. You’re here for a reason. We’re all made of the same stuff, but we each have our own special way to shine our light. The trick is to unlock it, to bust the lid off of it and fully amaze yourself.

When you are comfortable with yourself, when you realize what you know, and acknowledge what you are, love will naturally spring up from deep within you. It’s been waiting to do that your entire adult life if it hasn’t happened already. You probably understood you were made of love when you were little, unless you had that idea stamped out of you. You probably went around shining and loving and giving it away freely, with abandon. You need to do that again. You know how, it’s literally like riding a bike. The feeling of loving yourself is like coming home. And when you do that for yourself, it feels so good you want to do it for everyone you meet. You want to extend yourself–your hand, your ear, your heart, your shoulder, anything you’ve got. When people feel love coming from you, they want to get closer. And closer is nice. Let the love in. Sending some to you right now, Ally Hamilton