We have all heard time and time again the importance of taking a break from technology. But as a dear friend used to say, "If it were easy, everyone would do it!"
In my former life, unplugging wasn't an option. When I first became a spokesperson for a Member of Congress, I carried my trusty flip phone everywhere I went and slept with it beside my bed. I was ready to respond to a breaking story at any time - day or night - and was energized by the ever-present possibility of being called into action. When Blackberries came onto the scene, I took this vigilance one step further: checking my email anytime I awoke over the course of the night and again before getting out of bed. I took pride in being the first to respond to an email chain or share relevant updates with my boss and colleagues. This may have served me well professionally, but it severely compromised my ability to be present.
When I began my new venture, I vowed to be less connected to a screen and better connected to people. I try not to check email or read the news before greeting the day on my own terms. I am gaining increasing comfort with leaving the phone at home when I go for an afternoon stroll with the babe or enjoy family time on the weekend. I cannot claim a flawless record, but I am reaping the rewards of being more present and intentional from moment to moment.
And tonight, when I board a plane with my husband for our first trip without the babe since becoming parents, I am doing so without my phone - or laptop. For the next week, the blog will pause as I unplug, hopefully returning refreshed and with renewed energy to invest in who and what matters most.
I encourage you to find even a few hours this week or weekend to do the same. Can you identify an opportunity - however brief - to unplug this week? What might you gain?
I love to write. I always have. I vividly recall sitting at my grandparent’s dining room table after a Christmas meal when I couldn’t have been more than eight or nine. I had asked for a typewriter for Christmas, and there it was! I was dizzy with glee as I pounded out a poem and then summoned everyone to the living room for an impromptu poetry reading.
My fondness for performance has long since vanished, and my relationship with writing has taken different forms at various points in my personal and professional life, but I have always found it thrilling to reach into the vortex of thoughts swirling around in my head, capture something onto paper, and see it through to completion. When I stumbled upon this quote, I immediately placed it in the context of writing, but it applies so much more broadly.
Whatever our vocation or calling, we all share this one astonishing life, but we see it through our own unique prism. If we are willing to pay attention and communicate what we witness, we can provide a more full experience for others, and ourselves.
Can you allow yourself to be astonished by life? Can you share what you see?
Join us for an invigorating flow class that focuses on strengthening, opening, and moving the body in ways that support our critical role as mamas. Kiddos of all ages are welcome to practice, play, or nap alongside their caregiver in a safe and nurturing environment during this 60 minute practice.
Details: The summer session will run from July 7-August 25 (8 weeks). Purchase a six class pass for $90 or drop in for $20. Caregivers are encouraged to bring a toy or book for their child to play with and share.
My baby girl is a chatterbox. She talks ALL. THE. TIME. And I love it! She chatters constantly whether she is "reading" books, building block towers, rifling through cupboards and drawers, or eating. She is excited to share words she is learning and happily invents others to fill in the gaps. Her nonsensical babbles bring such joy to my heart.
As a child, I was also a talker. I was the first to raise my hand to answer a question in a classroom or blurt out a trivia response. I could - and did - hold court for hours with family and friends - and the occasional complete stranger. I was consistently admonished by teachers, "Annie, you need to let someone else answer a question for a change..."
But somewhere along the line, this changed. A growing appreciation of appropriate social behavior likely played a role, but so too did insecurity. Run of the mill teenage angst transformed a Chatty Cathy into someone who wanted to be sure of how something would be received before sending it out into the world. I began to allow fear of saying the "wrong" thing to prevent me from saying anything at all.
Being reserved has its merits. When I entered the professional world, I quickly learned the value of listening before speaking. Pausing long enough to gather and process information before speaking enabled me to provide reasoned guidance and a measured response in high pressure situations. And more often than not, I gained valuable insight by listening to the more seasoned souls around me.
Regrettably, reticence also has downsides. I have lost opportunities to comfort a friend in need by over-thinking the perfect consolation. I have failed to voice my opinion at critical times while internally debating the most diplomatic way to deliver a conflicting point of view. I have missed chances to transform an acquaintance into a friend by hesitating to move beyond exchanging pleasantries.
As I look ahead to the next month in my year of imperfection, I am setting a goal of saying the wrong thing. Offering an imperfect, but sincere, consolation to a friend who recently experienced a significant loss. Delivering a valid, but unnuanced, opinion in a board meeting. Starting a conversation with an incompletely formed suggestion and inviting someone to help me shape and improve it.
What might you gain by letting yourself say the wrong thing?
Recently I had the space to take class from a teaching mentor I practice with too infrequently. During and after the class I was struck by the power of simple observation.
While encouraging us to circle our arms widely to explore our range of motion, the teacher made a brief but notable caution to listen for any “clicking” sensation in the shoulder and honor it by pausing rather than just pushing through. It was such a simple instruction, but so on point. As a former marathon runner, I have conditioned myself to push through discomfort: Yes my knee hurts, but we only have four more miles to go...Just because it is 90 degrees and 85 percent humidity doesn’t mean I need to slow down... And I know I am not alone in falling into this mindset in daily life.
When I practice at home, I love to move through poses and experiment with transitioning from one to the next. I don’t rush, but I often focus so much on where I want to go next that I don’t observe my body in the moment. In doing so, I am guilty of ignoring the subtle signals my body is sending me: Yes my wrist is sore, but I really want to work on my handstand... Sure a block would be helpful here, but it is all the way upstairs and I don’t have time to stop...
But under the attentive guidance of a seasoned teacher, I found myself really listening to my body. I surrendered to her gentle, yet firm command of the class and alternately held back and pushed forward when and where it was needed. And in doing so, everything about even the most basic poses felt somehow new and different. I left the classes feeling grounded and more aware of myself and my surroundings.
Can you slow down enough to observe yourself as you go through your day? What might you see or experience differently?
Meet Christine Saladino: yogini, accounting manager, photographer, wife, and fashionista. Hailing from the Midwest but embracing her inner Southern Belle in Louisville Kentucky, Christine is a woman who defies easy categorization and is fueled by a wide variety of passions.
I met Christine during her brief stint in Washington DC and was drawn to her enthusiasm and sincerity. The winding road she traveled to leave - and return to - a career she loves reminds us that it is the journey, not the destination, that matters most.
To learn more about this lovely lady and how she learned to redefine success and find balance, read on...
I know I have mentioned it before, but I really don't like rain. It is inconvenient. It is messy. And it severely cramps the style of someone who spends days either shuttling from one client or class to the next or entertaining a toddler who is less and less content to spend an entire day inside the confines of our cozy (read: small) home.
Somewhere along the line, I convinced myself that I had negotiated a pact with Old Man Rain: he minimizes his appearances in the early morning hours, and I try not to begrudge whatever he may have in store for the rest of the day. More often than not, he holds up his end of the bargain, so when I woke up to dry streets yesterday, I laced up my shoes and headed out the door.
There is, of course, an exception that proves every rule. And yesterday was it. A little more than a mile into my run, I felt the first sprinkle, and headed toward home, willing to concede defeat. But as I approached our street, I had a change of heart. It wasn’t raining too hard yet, so I decided to take one more spin around the block. Having survived relatively unscathed, I took another, slightly larger loop, then another even larger. As I ran, I found myself appreciating the cooler temperatures brought by the rain. I took in the surroundings of an unfamiliar, improvised route. Before I knew it, I had run long enough to awaken my body and mind and prepare for the day ahead, and the next time I passed our street, I turned for home, feeling refreshed.
What would it look like for you to accept circumstances rather than trying to fight them? Could you find joy in an unexpected place?
I like things neat and tidy. And while my family assures me this was not true of my adolescent self, I can't remember a time when I didn't prioritize a tidy space, a clean desk, and an orderly inbox. When I left my job earlier this year, I found it incredibly therapeutic to organize more than a decade's worth of files, mementos, and knickknacks, sorting out what to keep and what I needed to let go. I winnowed the items down to a single box of pictures and objects I couldn't bear to part with, and it has been taking up residence in my closet for the past five months.
This weekend, in a bout of belated spring cleaning and organizing, I tackled the box of keepsakes. I smiled as I sorted through the contents, among them a nearly 10 year old wedding day photo of my husband, a nearly 15 year old encouragement card sent by my mother when I was questioning my decision to move to a far-away city where I knew no one, a "sunshine file" of affirmations from colleagues and bosses through the years, and greeting cards I had picked up along the way in the hopes of always being prepared for the forgotten birthday or unexpected loss. With the benefit of distance, I was able to further refine the collection, giving some things away and throwing away others, but a few resisted such easy disposal.
My inner organizer was irked: Our house has limited storage space, and in the yogini-mama world, there is no office or a desk in which to house such things. If you haven't bothered to look at them in five months, you certainly don't need them. And finding yet another place to put them will only create the need to revisit this process at some future date.
And just like that - my decision was made: I ignored my practical side in favor of sentimentality. I want to unearth this box when I least expect it and relive fond memories. I may have generated more work for myself, but I have also created an opportunity to be reminded of a time of my life that brought me great joy - perhaps sharing the memories with my daughter as she grows.
What little treasures can you file away for a rainy day? What small tokens might bring joy to your future self?
This week marked the beginning of another fertility workshop series, and as always, I was amazed by the women who gathered in our sunny studio to share their hearts and the story of the journey that brought them together.
These women, strangers who had met only moments earlier, opened up about their loss, frustration, and waning hope of starting the family they so dearly desired. But rather than be brought down by the collective disappointment and doubt, the women shared nods of recognition, resources, and even smiles. Each woman in turn mentioned that in addition to the yoga, she had come to the class with the intention of connecting to others who were sharing a similar journey.
Something amazing happens when we step outside of our own sorrow and recognize there are other travelers on our path. Even the most solitary among us can take comfort in knowing someone is ahead of, behind, and beside us as we navigate uncertain terrain. Community doesn't change our circumstances, but the support and encouragement we find there can provide the strength to endure.
No matter what challenge you are facing today, you are not alone. If you allow yourself to be open to connection, you can reap the rewards of sharing your pain - and joy - with a fellow traveler.
My childhood was full of gardens. I have vivid memories of long days spent outside while my parents worked to plant, prune, and care for the sprawling land around our home, connecting to the earth and the rhythms of nature. I recall sitting with my grandmother in her flower shop while she created beautiful arrangements to brighten homes and add a special touch to celebrations for neighbors and friends. I remember "helping" my papa in his vegetable gardens, sprinkling my very own fairy dust to help the peppers grow.
After nearly 14 years in DC, those days seem far behind. I haven't found city living to be conducive to gardening, and despite family history, my thumb has never been remotely green. While I frequent the farmers markets for all matter of produce, my efficiency-driven self has been in the habit of walking right past the beautiful, fresh-cut flowers, seeing only the inconvenience of constantly watering, dusting the pollen , scooping up fallen leaves and petals before the cat discovered them, and scrubbing the vase of the eerie green film that inevitably crept in when I let the flowers linger a little too long.
But lately, I have been seeing things differently. Whenever my mother travels, one of her first tasks is to stop somewhere to purchase flowers. She may carry them with her through the day or put them in a water glass at the hotel - and when she visits, she always brings some for the table. In this new season of life, my mother has been visiting more often, and I have found myself picking up flowers in advance of her visit and keeping them for days after she leaves. They brighten the room, bring back special memories, and delight my daughter, who finds such pride in exclaiming, "fower! fower!"
Sometimes a small shift in perspective is all you need to reap large rewards from a small investment of time, energy, or effort. What can you see differently today?
Thank you for visiting the Starting Over blog. Stop by anytime for a dose of inspiration, tools to help you achieve your goals, and a community of fellow travelers. I hope to see you often!