Libby McAvoy

Late Again?

Are you on time all of the time, most of the time or never? Hmmmm…. Be honest. If you struggle with time management what, is it that prevents you from being places on time? Do you try to fit too much in? We are all busy people living in a busy world. But, some of us make a point of showing up early or at least on time and others are perpetually late. Awareness is critical is resolving the problem. 

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Why Are You Late?

First: Be aware of why you are late. Once we are aware we can change our process and progress towards better habits.

Next: realize that being on time is a form of respect. Once you embrace this it is difficult to be late.

Finally: Prioritize what you need to do and when so that you make time for the people who are most important in your life. Be where you say you are going to be on time or early and realize that it is a direct reflection of your character.

Being on time is simply a common courtesy. Everyone is busy and being late quite honestly is selfish. Now, occasionally there are circumstances that cannot be helped such, as a traffic accident or an emergency, we are not talking about normal traffic that you should have allowed time for. If you must be late do not panic, forgive yourself and stay calm, call or notify the person or people you are meeting as soon as you realize that you will not be on time. This way they can use the time to the best of their ability, as well. 

Read full article on  lifehack.org

Read full article on lifehack.org

Mindfulness will help you stay on time

Being mindful of your tasks, as well as what time it is will help you stay focussed and on time. Occasionally, but rarely, things may come up that will derail you. For the most part though, you are in control. Show people the person who you are. Show up. Practice awareness, acceptance and forgiveness. This means being aware of when and where you need to be. Leave in plenty of time to allow for traffic and parking. Accept stressful situations for what they are, listen to calming music and use car rides to make hands free phone calls or enjoy good music. Finally, if you are occasionally late, apologize to the person you were late for and forgive yourself.

When you are mindful of being on time, people will respect you and consider you a considerate and respectful person. Being on time is sadly a rare quality today and time is money. So, show up and respect time of other people, after all they are busy, too. Only speak when you have something positive to add to their life and listen with full reverence. 

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Slow down the pace. It sounds counter intuitive when trying to be on time, but when we slow down and become mindful, rather than living in robot go mode, we are better able to be productive, on time, think clear, and achieve our goals concisely.

Peace & Light,

Libby

P.S. - Meditation helps create concentration, clarity and calmness, which will help you stay on task and on time so head on over to my other blog at A TotalSoulfulJourney. com and read my latest blog on The Powerful Benefits of Meditation and How to Get Started.

 

How to Overcome Your Greatest Fear

What do you fear? Do you fear dying? Many people do. Fear is not real. It is dreamed up by the ego and our overly active minds. Some people even say that FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. When you look at it this way, you may realize that the only thing that we have to fear is fear itself. When you have the courage to push past your fears, to face them head on and live with a heart of love and good intentions you will feel wonderful and find the abundance that you deserve. 

I know because I lived most of my life trapped by fear. There is nothing worse than feeling trapped. I was SUCH a fraidy cat starting at a young age even though nothing truly bad ever even happened to me with the exception the one time that my sister played a trick on me. She once hid under my bed when I was roughly seven making scratching sounds as she talked in a scary voice. My doberman growled and I remember being so frozen in fear that I could not even yell for my parents. When I finally gather the courage to run to my parents for help, "sweet little" Mandy (my big sister) quickly snuck back to her bed where she pretended to be sleeping. That is my earliest memory of fear. All a hoax, you see. There was nothing to fear at all. Our minds will play terrible tricks on us if we allow them to do so.

The mind is powerful. It must be trained just like any muscle in the body. We must think positively and tell ourselves what we are truly capable of overcoming. We must also practice awareness to determine what is real and what is and an illusion. 

When your are quaking in your boots, be aware of what is really behind your fear. Awareness helps us to stand strong.

When your are quaking in your boots, be aware of what is really behind your fear. Awareness helps us to stand strong.

Later in life I wanted to attend yoga classes. I had done yoga before and knew how much I enjoyed it, however, having the courage to start taking yoga classes again was not as easy as I thought it would be. I would drive into the parking lot and if it appeared to be full I would literally drive away paralyzed in fear that the class was indeed full. I somehow felt that I did not belong and that I did not know what I was doing. My self esteem was so low and I was not even aware that this was the reason for the fear that was holding me back.

You see, that is where it all begins. Improvement begins with awareness. Once I was aware of what was holding me back I grabbed a friend and eventually pushed through my fear. I not only went to classes on my own, but I also completed yoga teacher training and opened my own studio. I have since led over 3000 classes and two teacher training sessions to train other instructors. I travel and lead corporate yoga, workshops and retreats, as well. Recently while working with the Avon Corporation, I had to push through yet another set of fears; the fear of being hooked up to a wireless microphone and telling my story in front of hundreds of people and then teaching to a diverse group people (some in chairs and some on mats). After the first few seconds on stage and seeing all of the smiling faces looking back at me, I knew that I was not only Ok, I was actually living my dream. 

Endurance events teach us how to push on and gain mental strength. I learned this running the Honolulu Marathon. 

Endurance events teach us how to push on and gain mental strength. I learned this running the Honolulu Marathon. 

Life is a journey not a marathon. It is about taking baby steps to know and love ourselves, and to grow into the best versions of ourselves. We may hit many bumps in the road, but those obstacles are there to teach us and to help us grow. We learn through our mistakes and challenges. What is important is to first be aware so that we can change what we do not like. Change, after all,  is what helps us to grow. Next, we have to practice acceptance free from judgement. Finally we have to forgive, first ourselves and then all of those who have wronged us in life so that we can move forward toward our greatest destiny.

Sometimes it is the biggest obstacles that propel us forward and unlock us from the fear that holds us back. Last week I was given the opportunity to audition for TEDx Cincinnati. Giving a TED talk is a life dream of mine. I applied last year and did not get in. This year I was ready. I was still shaking in my boots with fear, but I knew I had to stand up and use my voice to awaken, inspire and empower others who have not found their voices yet. When you believe so deeply in your mission, nothing can hold you back. So I am super proud of myself for pushing through my fear.

Auditioning to speak at TEDx Cincinnati.

Auditioning to speak at TEDx Cincinnati.

One hundred and fifty people auditioned and only twenty of us were given the chance to give a 2.5 minute audition. I prayed that I would go first so that I could listen to other presenters and enjoy what they were offering, but of course I was number 16. I tried so hard to listen to the other presenters as their speeches were gripping and inspiring, but I my mind was focused on trying to remember my own speech and I was so incredibly nervous. I was simply trying not to cry. We lined up in front of the stage after the intermission. I listened intently to a speech or two and then everything was blurry as I reread my written speech to myself. I carried my papers nervously to the stage. As soon as I stood under the lights and said my first sentence I felt an odd calm. A divine presence came over me and it was as if the universe was naturally speaking through me. What I had originally dreaded I was truly enjoying. I was offering my heart and my soul to the world. In telling my story I was freeing myself from fear. More importantly I felt that if my words touched and inspired just one other person in the audience, the whole process that brought me to that stage and all of the terrible anxiety that I faced that evening would all be worthwhile. 

Soaring over the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Soaring over the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Each time that we climb to the peak of a mountain it feels exhilarating. The balance, however, is that every high is followed by a low. The valleys in life are there to help us to appreciate the highs. This appreciation gives us more momentum and courage to move forward toward the higher mountains that we may face in the future. I now know, that the TEDx audition was just a start for me. I know that my purpose is to help spread conscious awareness through my yoga philosophy of awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness so that others can overcome the intimidating obstacles in their lives. All things are possible when we believe and let go of the fears that hold us back from achieving our true greatness. 

Gratefully & Courageously Yours,

Libby Shively McAvoy

P.S. - If you enjoyed this article, then please check out my latest post on my other blog about the importance of "acceptance" at TotalSoulfulJourney.com

 

 

A Dog Gone Good Life

Do you ever come home at the end of the day and your house just feels lonely? Do you miss having a special someone around? A dog makes the perfect best friend. They are always excited to see you, they never talk back, and they are as loyal as it gets. Some dogs are easier to house train and train in general, depending on the breed and how old the dog is when you adopt it, but the process itself can be a fun bonding time as well! 

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Do your research when considering a dog. Choose the one that fits your lifestyle and activity level.  Some dogs shed more than others, some require less maintenance and some are even hypoallergenic. Each dog, much like humans, has a unique personality. Visit the dog before deciding and be sure it is a good fit. Please commit to trying to keep this beautiful new companion and give it its FUR-ever home. Do not choose a dog based on the cuteness in a movie, for example there was a demand for Dalmatians after 101 Dalmatians, but that is not the dog for everyone. Do your research and avoid the hassle and sadness of returning a newly adopted dog when you suddenly realize that it does not have the right temperament for you. Also be sure that the dog is suitable for your kids and the other animals in your household if that is in your plan…

This is Luna, another one of my wonderful rescues. She is always happy to be with me on a hike, a drive, boating, or just laying around. Luna is an absolute great companion!

This is Luna, another one of my wonderful rescues. She is always happy to be with me on a hike, a drive, boating, or just laying around. Luna is an absolute great companion!

In addition, make sure that you stop at the pet store and get a few chew toys to avoid the loss of your favorite shoes and treasured belongings. Dogs love to chew on things and they are very content when they know what is theirs. Also try to give them a special space, perhaps a dog bed or a crate, in the room you most often hang out in where they feel a part of your family's life, but can comfortably retreat to while you are eating, watching tv and when the doorbell rings. In our house we named the dog bed “spot” and at first tethered our new dog to a leash in his “spot" with lots of treats and toys so he associated it as being a good place for him. Now he willingly goes there… at least sometimes, but he is still a puppy and training takes time. Just remember that YOU are the alpha.  

This is Tucker's "SPOT" as the trainer recommended and it has worked very well for us. He is happy there and we now have peace while we eat and when we answer the door.   

This is Tucker's "SPOT" as the trainer recommended and it has worked very well for us. He is happy there and we now have peace while we eat and when we answer the door.  

Your dog will provide you with great companionship. He or she will even hold you accountable for going on regular walks or runs, give you lots of snuggle time and will always be willing to protect you, yes even the little guys will do their best.

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Consider adopting a dog from the shelter. Mixed breed dogs need homes and are some of the very most grateful dogs that you can imagine. I have rescued many dogs and I can tell you they have all been very well trained, easy going, loyal and loving.

This is Bubba, the best Pitt we have ever owned. Morgan rescued Bubba a year ago and they bonded immediately. Bubba was incredibly gentle and responsive. He was smart and craved love. Unfortunately, he did bite a neighbor and we HAD to do the responsible thing and put Bubba down. It was one of the hardest things we have gone through as a family and Bubba will forever be missed and fondly remembered. WE had him cremated, just as you would a family member, so that we could keep him with us forever. We will never understand what happened that day, but we forgive him and love him anyway. 

This is Bubba, the best Pitt we have ever owned. Morgan rescued Bubba a year ago and they bonded immediately. Bubba was incredibly gentle and responsive. He was smart and craved love. Unfortunately, he did bite a neighbor and we HAD to do the responsible thing and put Bubba down. It was one of the hardest things we have gone through as a family and Bubba will forever be missed and fondly remembered. WE had him cremated, just as you would a family member, so that we could keep him with us forever. We will never understand what happened that day, but we forgive him and love him anyway. 

I now own my first full bred Bernese Mountain Dog and he is truly special in his own right. But, all dogs earn a special place in our hearts. They try so hard to earn our love when really maybe it should be the other way around? Maybe if humans were more like dogs the world would be a more loving, accepting and better place! 

Playfully Your Pet Lover,

Libby

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Thank you Bubba for a year of joy that will last a lifetime....

 

P.S. - Dogs are usually discounted for adoption for the holidays, so now is a great time to adopt a pet. It will be the gift that will continue to give love for many years to come! If you have any questions about adopting a dog, please feel free to reach out and message me! I would be happy to help!

Are you Stuffed? No worries, No guilt, No Shame!

My family enjoying leftovers the day after Thanksgiving.

Are you amongst the majority of us who ate far to much and indulged in rich foods, desserts and probably a beverage too many over the last couple days? And to think… the holiday parties are only getting started! Do not worry. Seriously, it is ok to indulge and feast every now and then. There is no shame in enjoying a delicious meal. No need to starve yourself for the next week. In fact, that will never work. Balance and moderation are key. Forgive yourself and move on just like anything else in life. Practice awareness of how you are feeling. Then, as you eat leftovers and attend parties moving into the season, practice awareness with portion control and choices of what you are eating.  

For now, the damage is done, so to speak. Accept it and enjoy it. Get outside this weekend and get moving. Once you take control of your body you will feel better. Maybe you put up holiday lights, go for a hike, rake leaves and if you are lucky enough to be somewhere with snow maybe you go skiing… the possibilities are endless. As long as you are having fun, then exercise becomes easy and the guilt melts away. 

Hold yourself accountable. Start a journal this holiday season. Write down what you eat at each event. Record how you feel that night. Then, write how you feel the next day. Be sure to include any movement you are getting and how you feel with that. This will help track your progress both positive and negative. Know that it is OK to sometimes admit that we are not perfect. We strive for progress NOT perfection. Perfection is no fun anyway, lol.  

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Enjoy yourself! Life is too short not to. But, set yourself up for success. The holidays do not need to weigh you down, quite literally, but instead should inspire you to become the very best version of yourself. With each sparkling light you see this season, let that be a reminder of the light within you.  Put religion aside and see the beauty of your spiritual commonality. We are really all the same. We strive to be accepted, to be loved, to be needed and appreciated, to be happy, to be free, to be joyful and abundant. So, all differences aside, be you, eat what you want, exercise, and shine bright for all to see. 

Peace, Love and Light to you all,

Libby

 

Demystifying Sun Salutations

Yes sun worshiping is real and it is actually very logical, as well as being an ancient practice. In yoga you hear about Sun Salutations, or the Sankrit term, Surya Namaskar. Surya is sun. Nama means to bow to or adore. We stand at the front of our mat with our hands together at our hearts center in the same position as we typically start and end our practice with namaste mudra, which translates into the divine light in me honors and sees the divine light within you. So, as we move through the Sun Salutations we take our arms up toward the heavens and then we bow forward turning our awareness inward and committing to our health and to our higher awareness. With each movement we aspire to gain wisdom and knowledge and to become the best versions of ourselves. It really is a prayer in motion.

Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

There are 12 postures within a Sun Salutation, which is also symbolic because there are 12 Sanskrit terms for the word sun. Moving through these 12 postures in consecutive sequence in repetition warms & energizes the  body. Sun Salutations engage the core, stretch the hamstrings and loosen the shoulders. They improve circulation, massage internal organs and promote overall health. So you can use sun salutations as an excellent warm up, or start to your yoga or workout session. Or when you are short on time and energy, it can be used as your minimum daily go to for giving you a total body workout. 

Sun Salutations can be beautifully adapted for your personal needs and can even be done from a chair.  When practiced at a slower pace they provide a calming grounding effect, and when practiced at a faster pace they provide a good cardiovascular workout and can provide weight loss. 

Why start the day day with Sun Salutations? Yoga was developed over 5000 years ago by ancient Sages in India who believed each part of the body was linked to some part of the natural world. The solar plexus (located behind the belly button) is said to be connected to the sun and associated with our emotional well being and intuition. We practice Sun Salutations first thing in the morning to clear our minds, gain calmness for the day ahead and to heighten our intuition. 

Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Lets face it, we all love a little sunshine. It feels good and makes us happy. The sun grows our fruits, vegetables and flowers. It also creates light, and as we know that light helps us conquer our fears, so salute the sun. Practice Sun Salutations each day and feel yourself growing stronger, your light illuminating brighter and the warmth glowing within you. Make time for this important practice every single day. It only takes 15-20 minutes to do a proper 3-5 Sun Salutations A and Sun Salutations B sequence and you will greatly appreciate the many benefits that you will discover through this practice. 

Sun Salutation A:

Inhale taking your arms up

Exhale bowing forward

inhale halfway up straight spine

exhale hands to earth, step back to plank and lower yoga push up

inhale upward dog

exhale downward dog (hold 3-5 breaths)

       ~work to get your heals toward the earth 

       ~relax your ears between your arms

        ~let all the busy thoughts of the day and week go as you breathe in through your nose & out through your nose

Inhale look to your thumbs

Exhale to the front of the mat 

Repeat 3 to 5 times

Sun Salutation B:

Inhale sweep arms down and up as you come into chair pose 

Exhale forward fold straightening legs

Inhale halfway up, look to horizon

Exhale hands to earth and hop back to Chaturanga (yoga push up)

Inhale heart to the sky

Exhale hips up and back to down dog 

Inhale right foot to right thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog

Inhale Left Foot to Left Thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog stay here and re connect with your breath

Relax your neck & shoulders

Consider scissoring your heels, pressing one heel at a time to the earth and lifting the opposite heel

Inhale look to your thumbs

exhale hop to the front of your mat

Repeat 3-5 times

Wishing you all an inspiring start to your week!

Shine On,

Libby

P.S. If you have questions about how to get started in your practice, how to modify postures or if you would like personal, private or corporate lessons, please contact me via email: libby@yogafitboutique.com. I would be happy to travel and I always love to connect. Namaste!  

5 Tips to Reduce Stress When Waves of Stress Knock You Down

Many times life throws us unexpected curve balls. And sometimes it can feel unbearable and overwhelming. I would love to say that yoga and meditation should be your go to fix for stress relief, but the reality is that when a crisis strikes there are times when the situation is so cumbersome that we barely have time to eat and sleep, let alone practice. So, what can you do?

Well, in my personal life I have experienced one of these waves of grief this week where I felt like I was going to go down at times. Fortunately I am still here so I would like to share with you not only how I am surviving, but also how I am thriving.

My dad has survived three kinds of cancers for years and was doing well until a little over a month ago when he was diagnosed with a rare debilitating lung disease, which is causing his one lung to scar gradually and his breathing to become more difficult. As hard as it is to watch a man who I love so dearly struggle, I can handle this knowing that he is 87 years old and has lived a full life. But then in the last month a waterfall of other problems have ensued. The father of my children was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that less than .06% of people suffer from and is still not getting relief. And now my mom, who has always been healthy as an Ox and the caregiver of the family, suddenly started having trouble recalling what she wanted to say and began losing some muscle control on the right side of her body. This led to multiple trips to doctors and hospitals for many tests. The days have slipped by as I helped my parents deal with this crisis where I have not had time to step onto my mat. My house was a disaster and I was exhausted, but I realized I was doing what really matters. I was spending time with my parents, delivering home cooked meals that I knew appealed to them, attending doctors visits and being present. Family will always come first to me. This is really my living yoga and sometimes we have to step away from the mat to realize this.

My brother, my sister and I are working lovingly together to help find answers to get to the bottom of my mom's health issues. Our coming together has brought us closer as a family and that is the gift that is coming out of this difficult time. My mom will see a neurologist next week. Meanwhile I am taking a day to PAUSE and catch up on life.

So, here are my Top Five Tips for Relieving Overwhelming Stress:

    1. Make lists! Separate your to do lists into priority categories so that you absolutely know what must get done each day, what is not so urgent, and what can be eliminated.

    2. Ask for help! Especially in a time of need never hesitate to let friends and family help. It makes them feel good and it lifts a weight from your shoulders, too!

    3. Seek counsel. Please do not hesitate to go to counseling or therapy, especially in heavy times. If time is short, often therapists will do a phone session.

    4. DO NOT ISOLATE. Surround yourself with those who love you when you go through difficult times. They will help carry your burdens, help you laugh and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    5. Take it one day at a time. Stay present, stay positive and always hope for the best. There is tremendous power in positivity!

I hope that these tips will bring you comfort in your times of high stress. Also, remember that we can slow our stress response by regulating our breathing. So, practice nice deep slow inhalations and nice deep slow exhalations. Breathe in love, breathe out love. 

Peace, Light and Love,

Libby

P.S. - Stress is a huge cause of health problems. Please try to manage your stress before it takes a toll on your health. We cannot avoid stress, but how we respond to it is really the key to living a Total Soulful Journey of Health & Wellness! <3

 

 

Nothing is What You Think it Is....

Is life really a grand illusion? Perhaps that is why we are fascinated with magic tricks? Nothing is really what we think it is. Nothing is what you expect. Expectations are really the root of so much heartache. Why is it that we put so much emphasis on external factors? We wear masks to protect others from who we really are. We post photos that make us look as if we live a grand or fun filled life all the time when in reality most of us struggle to keep our heads above water with busy schedules, hectic lifestyles and tight budgets. 

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What is it that is really important to you? What would bring you peace of mind? Just contemplate those two things for a moment. And then ask yourself, What really IS peace of mind?

I would like you to consider peace of mind really being ultimate enlightenment. Isn't that what we all strive for? Isn't it a place of happiness where worries, struggles and fears fade away? Perhaps it is different for each of us? I do not pretend to hold all the answers, but I do believe that it makes sense to think that when we arrive at a place where we accept and are happy with ourselves, we can then accept everyone as equals around us. Through acceptance we then discover ultimate happiness.

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So start loving yourself.  Work through anything you are holding onto from your past. Forgive and  honor yourself, and work toward this ultimate goal. Believe me when I tell you it IS attainable and YOU are worth it. Life is a journey of awareness and mindfulness. Be kind and gentle with yourself and with others. If you need help, it is ok to seek counsel and read self help books, for knowledge is power when put into action.

As you begin this work week be mindful to practice acceptance and observe how much happier you start to feel as a result.

Wishing you a wonderful week,

Libby 

Oh Powerful Wizard of Oz

Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road... Those words may sound very familiar to you. Well, Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore. The Wizard of Oz is a beautul story about connections and about finding your purpose and true path in life. As Dorothy discovered along her journey, the answers we seek are in us all along, but having supportive friends makes our lives a little easier and gives us the courage to perservere.  

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It feels good to plug into collective energy. Remember, we ARE energetic beings, so, when we share our energy with other people, it gains momentum and spirals upward. There is power in numbers so to speak. This is why being a member on a sports team is so exhilarating. It creates a feeling of acceptance and a sense of appreciation. Team spirit is powerful. This applies not only to sports, but to any group that cooperates for a common cause such as family, a work community, or a group of friends.  When you realize you are a part of something much bigger than yourself, that is when the magic happens.  

When you feel connected, you feel a sense of purpose. You then wake up with a great drive and determination. This gives your life meaning and you are less likely to focus on unimportant things that once caused stress. With a strong support network you also have people who share your burdens so that in difficult times you are no longer isolated and alone. People who consider themselves part of a network or a community tend to be healthier overall and are able to better cope with stress and difficult situations. 

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There are five Blue Zones in the world where people are proven to live well over the ripe old age of 100 free from disease. Scientists are saying that air quality, nutrition, and social connections have a strong correlation with this remarkable life span and may in fact, in combination with a positive attitude, be able to alter our own DNA. Yes, waking up with purpose and feeling connected is THAT important!

People come and go like waves in our lives. Some stay only short amounts of time and teach us what we need to know and others stay longer, but each one adds an important lesson. The most valuable people bring out the very best in us. They allow our spirits to shine and that synergy (shared energy) is irreplacable.  

The last two years I have experienced the power of community first hand by having the privilege of volunteering my time to lead the Sycamore Community School Lady Aviator Water Polo Team in a once a week Yoga cross training session. Not only is it amazing for them to build core strength, open their shoulders and work flexibility and agility, but it gives me the distinct honor of getting to know these amazing young ladies.  If I can teach them to pause and breathe, it might mean the difference between making a goal or a penalty shot under pressure in a game. If I can teach them to lean on each other and support one another and practice compassion, then I feel like I have added greatly not only to their skills as a team, but to their life assets. I hope the awareness and acceptance that I instill on that mat carries off the mat and into daily life for each of these Ladies. That is what the journey is about for all of us; it is the journey of the self. 

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These ladies are absolute sharks in the water with determination and teamwork that is off the charts impressive, but out of the water I watch as they support other teams with unbelieveable sportsmanship and class. They are kind, respectful and compassionate. I am so incredibly honored and proud to be even a tiny tiny part of their experience. It is thrilling to me! I cannot even imagine how it must feel to be them! They are having a great season and every game has been incredibly intense. If you have never been to a water polo game, I highly recommend it. It is super fun to watch, albeit absolutely exhausting and not for the faint of heart. 

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So, follow the golden road to your own destiny knowing that it is within you all along (there is no almighty Wizard behind the curtain). You will also gain strength by surrounding yourself with a supportive community and by adding to that collective yourself. Get involved. Go find your true purpose and passion. Don't make it complicated. It is just something you enjoy. Add your passion and talents to a greater collective energy and watch that momentum build. You will have victories that you never imagined possible. You are capable of so much more than you even know. Just take the challenges that life offers. You have the power to weather the storms in your life, just as Dorothy survived the tornado that launched her on her journey to self discovery. 

In Victory of Light,

Libby  

As I watched the girls rest, giggling in the hammocks,&nbsp;I knew I was a part of something big. I felt my purpose and my heart welled with gratitude.&nbsp;I have never been so happy to be able to give my time to something. To be a part of something so powerful.&nbsp;It may seem small to some of you reading this, but in that moment, that energy that filled me, well.... it is still within me.... I encourage you to get involved. Find your tribe. Find your purpose!&nbsp;All that means is find a group of people that want you around and that involves doing something you absolutely love, even if only for one hour a week.&nbsp;Believe me when I tell you it is worth it!&nbsp;

As I watched the girls rest, giggling in the hammocks, I knew I was a part of something big. I felt my purpose and my heart welled with gratitude. I have never been so happy to be able to give my time to something. To be a part of something so powerful. It may seem small to some of you reading this, but in that moment, that energy that filled me, well.... it is still within me.... I encourage you to get involved. Find your tribe. Find your purpose! All that means is find a group of people that want you around and that involves doing something you absolutely love, even if only for one hour a week. Believe me when I tell you it is worth it! 

Reflection

We talk so much about being present and staying in the moment, and yes it is important, but it is also meaningful to reflect from time to time on your past... what worked and did not work. The truth is we learn a great deal from our mistakes as long as we do not repeat them.  

The Bean in Chicago

The Bean in Chicago

Sometimes we just need a break from our daily routine. We tend to be creatures of habit who get  "stuck." When we are able to take time off, or if we are fortunate enough to get away for a few days, it allows us time to reset. Experiencing new things, new places and gaining new insights provides us with the inspiration that we need to move forward. We then become more present, more productive and more happy when we return.

&nbsp;  My Dad, with whom I am extremely close, has recently suffered a health set back. He is nearly 87 years old and the thought of not having him here with me on earth is a big hard rock to swallow and yet I know eventually it will come and he will go on to a more beautiful place. My sweet momma gave me the best gift in the world by encouraging me to get away for a long weekend and go unite with friends in Chicago, indulge in great food and enjoy myself. &nbsp;"He is not going anywhere this week," she said with confidence as she sent me off for a much needed trip of rest and relaxation! Moms always know best! So off I went. The hard part, as a mom myself, was to pull away from life, from my children, from my parents and from my responsibilities and to enjoy this time free from guilt! It did not take me long, however, a few bites into a delicious pecan pie, a glass of Cabernet, a few great meals and a ton of walking around that delightful city of Chicago and I truly began to feel refreshed and inspired! Thanks to taking time out from my daily routines,&nbsp;I am sooo ready to move forward into bigger and better things. Vacation is great, but the best part is the renewed energy upon returing home!&nbsp;     When we take a break break from life, even if it is a "staycation," we are able to tap into power of the mind and redirect into a positive mindset that will catipult us in the direction of our goals and dreams rather than keeping us stuck and weighed down.

My Dad, with whom I am extremely close, has recently suffered a health setback. He is nearly 87 years old and the thought of not having him here with me on earth is a big hard rock to swallow, and yet I know eventually it will come and he will go on to a more beautiful place. Yet, worrying about him has been stressful to say the least.

My sweet momma last week gave me the best gift in the world by encouraging me to get away for a long weekend and to go unite with friends in Chicago, to indulge in great food and to enjoy myself.  "He is not going anywhere this week," she said with confidence as she sent me off for a much needed trip of rest and relaxation. Moms always know best! So off I went. The hard part as a mom myself was to pull away from life, from my children, from my parents and from my responsibilities, and to enjoy this time free from guilt!

It did not take me long, however... a few bites into a delicious pecan pie, a glass of Cabernet, a few great meals and a ton of walking around the delightful city of Chicago and I truly began to feel refreshed and inspired!

Thanks to taking time out from my daily routines, I am sooo ready to move forward into bigger and better things. Vacation is great, but the best part is the renewed energy upon returing home! 

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When we take a break from life, even if it is a "staycation," we are able to tap into the power of the mind and redirect it into a positive mindset that will catapult us in the direction of our goals and dreams rather than keeping us stuck and weighed down. So consider taking a day or two to reflect, to connect and to rejuvenate. Love and accept yourself exactly where you are in life. Set goals for where you want to go, and then each day take baby steps toward those goals until you arrive. 

Remember, life is a great journey. Just like every road trip you take, you will encounter construction zones. You are the engineer of your life both in body and in mind, always improving, always  "under construction." Just remind yourself to keep it joyful and to chill out! Everything you feel is OK! You are a beautiful being.  

Happy Travels Peaceful Friends, 

Libby

 

What do Your Dreams Mean?

Dreams have always intrigued me in a mystical magical way. Sometimes they are an escape from reality to a beautiful place with people you do not recognize. Other times they are aweful nightmares and you do not wish to close your eyes again. Why do we dream such things?  

Well, we sleep about 1/3 of our life and we dream roughly two hours out of each night. Some people recall their dreams vividly, some people recall only portions of their dreams and some people do not recall dreaming at all. It's ok if you do not remember your dreams. I often don't myself. Nothing is wrong with that. Sometimes we simply sleep so well that we do not remember. And sometimes our sleep is too interrupted.  

For those of you who recall your dreams and are curious what they mean, keep reading! If you have recurring dreams, start to journal them. Try to remember how you felt in your dream, and what was going on in your day prior to that sleep...

5 Common Dreams and What they may really Mean 

1. Dreaming that you are partially naked in public: 

This is a very common dream which is often a sign of vulnerability or shame. It can also reveal a fear of being exposed.  

2. Dreaming that your falling: 

This may be a call from your subconscious to make some changes in your life. Perhaps you are concerned about the direction that something is going and often this is associated with depression. 

3. Teeth falling out: 

This has nothing to do with whether you brush enough and floss properly. This is a signal that perhaps you spoke too harshly, gossiped, and need to speak less and listen more. 

4.  Being chased:

Examine if you are trying to avoid something or someone in life. Perhaps something requires your attention? 

5. Sex: 

This can be a literal sexual outlet, or it can also symbolize intimate connection with yourself or others.  

Dreams are a way for our conscious minds to connect with the subconscious. They usually have a message for us. So just deepen your awareness without putting too much thought and any judgement into it, and see if you get to know yourself a little better through your dreams! 

I recently had a very unique dream that I would like to share with you. It was unlike any dream I have ever had. I dreamt that I was kneeling on a dock on a dark night with the sky lit by the moon. I put my hand down into the dark, but calm water. I had no fear. I wished that a dolphin would come to me. Sure enough I saw a fin coming. Again, zero fear of it being anything but a dolphin. The dolphin came straight to my hand and then out of the water enough to hold itself cheek to cheek with me. We turned our eyes toward each other and both were smiling. The connection was extraordinary. Then the dolphin swam a minute before returning to look at me face to face. We smiled and laughed together as tears streamed down my face. Then the dolphin slowly went back into the water and I woke up.

When I woke I felt as if everything had changed. It was like the weight of the world had been lifted, as if that dolphin was my spirit guide releasing all my past troubles and worries and giving me the love and encouragement that I needed. The dream was a sign like an omen. It was my soul, as well as the Universe, speaking to me and telling me that now is the time for me to put my life dream into action. 

During the past year I have been researching and preparing notes to write a book. This has been a dream of mine for sometime and now the Universe is ready to make it happen. My dolphin dream represented the clarity and certainty I needed to forge forward in full motion with a new found confidence. Since this dream I have felt so inspired and full of life! I am happy to share with you that I am currently working on writing my first book that will address how to live a Total Soulful Journey and Reduce the Stress in your Life!  

The biggest message I want to convey goes back to awareness. Be aware of what your dreams are trying to tell you. They might be a sign to slow down and change something, OR perhaps a sign to forge forward with your day dreams that are now speaking to you through your soul at night. Ideas and dreams are wonderful, but without putting them into motion it is the biggest wasted commodity we have, unused creative energy. So dream big! Put your intentions into action and watch how fast they come to life. There are signs and miracles all around us and dreams are just one area of  insight. When we are aware we are able to see more clearly. 

You know the saying, "Dreams Really do Come True".... I believe in this power now in more ways than one.  

Sweet Dreams,

Libby 

P.S. - Please feel free to share (in the comment section) your recent dreams, or what your BIG DREAM is in life to begin the action of making it happen. And check out the video below to learn how to interpret and remember dreams from an inspirational speaker who I truly enjoy. 

 

 

All Of The Answers You Seek Are Within YOU....

Have you spent your life wishing you could ask someone a question, needing closure, feeling abandonment, fearing something...... or just wondering what your true purpose in life might be? We face many different questions every single day! Our minds are very complex tools. But truth be told,  all the answers you seek actually lie within yourself. Yes, YOU and you alone have the power to unlock all of the answers you could ever need to know.  

It all begins with awareness. For me it began with a growing awareness on my yoga mat that then carried off the mat and into my daily life. That awareness evolved into a deeper consciousness. After you develop awareness, the next step is acceptance. Accepting yourself as you are and practicing full self love. Until you fully love and forgive yourself of any flaws you cannot truly accept love from others nor are you available to fully receive love.

Developing the following practices leads one to higher levels of consciousness and clarity:

• Self awareness 

• Acceptance of yourself

• Self love

• Acceptance of others

• Letting go of judgement

• Releasing ego

• Daily gratitude

These can be a difficult steps because the ego jumps in and gets in the way. The ego has a place and is there to protect us, but we need to be aware of how it tries to influence us to keep it in check. Finally, there is the step of practicing being grateful for all that we have in daily life and living a life of grace. When we reach this spot suddenly all of the drama fades away and clarity arises.  

Listening to your voice within, your intuition, is your best guide. Your intuitive voice is there to protect you, to lead you in the right direction, to keep you on the upward spiral. When something feels wrong, most likely IT IS. Listen to your gut. Know your worth. You were born with a purpose. You may not know the purpose yet, but if you listen to your intuition it will lead you in the right direction and the answers you seek will come. The universe will show you your path. Trust the journey. Have faith and patience. Keep your heart open and live with love, passion and a firm belief that all of your dreams will come true. YOU ARE WORTHY, YOU ARE SPECIAL, YOU ARE LOVED, YOU ARE JOY, YOU ARE LIGHT! Say positive affirmations to yourself if you feel a little low or lost. And write down your goals each day. Never give up. All is coming!

Namaste,

Libby

P.S. - If you want to learn more about awareness, acceptance, gratitude and empowerment, join me on my yoga retreat in beautiful Costa Rica this coming October.  Click here to learn more.

Would You Save a Life if You Could?

Most of you know me as a yoga instructor, but that is simply one aspect of my life. I invite you to  come along on my journey and get to know me better. And I would like to get to know you, as well.  I am a mother of two children and a daughter. Ten years ago, my dad, Bob Shively, was diagnosed with Myeloma, which is a cancer of the blood and bones. The "C" word is super scary, especially when in relation to yourself or a loved one. My father's diagnoses came as a shock. They gave him only a coulple years to live at best. The doctors said to expect his bones to deteriorate and that the only available treatment was pain management.  

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Well, let me tell you a little more about me. I am extremely close with my whole family. We have always been very supportive and loving. I am super sensative and also empathetic. When my dad was diagnosed, it felt like my world shattered as I am sure many of you can relate. I felt so helpless. All I could do was to pray and pray for a way to help him. Low and behold the very next day in the mail there was a flyer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society who offer a variety of fundraising events in honor of or in memory of anyone you know who has suffered from a blood or bone cancer of any type. I knew at that very moment I was up for the biggest challenge of my life! I quickly conspired and got my best friend, Katherine Shrout, to agree to "walk" a full 26.2 mile marathon with me in Honolulu, Hawaii!  We had a fundraising minimum to reach in exchange for our airfare and room for four nights, which was bonus motivation. So.... we thought who can't walk 26 miles? We've got this! Hahaha.... many laughs and many long training hours later we quickly started running more and more realizing how time consuming it was. Needless to say we BOTH finished the marathon. I love you Kat for pushing the limits with me, for standing by my side through tough challenges (including three broken bones in my foot) and for helping to save lives!

This year my daughter, Morgan, asked me to join the Team in Training Hike Yosemite Event on June 10th. Morgan is quickly becoming my new best friend as she grows up and becomes her own unique person. I am so proud of who she is and I love the way she makes me laugh. Her positive spirit will grace the world for years to come. But anyway, I realized that it being the ten year anniversary of my marathon that this is just perfect timining to celebrate my dad's life and the fact that he has truly beat all the odds. Ten years ago there was no treatment for his cancer besides pain management. Today, there are finally options that are available thanks to the research that was made possible by people like you who donate money to fight these diseases.

When Morgan and I decided to do the walk, the universe sent me another sign. My high school friend, Susan reached out to me. Her nephew, Paul Wilson, was in the hospital fighting for his life with leukemia. Susan asked if I would be willing to go to Children's Hospital to do some yoga with him just to change up his routine and relieve his boredom. I was honored. I realized this year I will hike and participate in this event not only in honor of my dad, but also to help find a cure for Paul's leukemia.  My goal is to use my able healthy body to give hope to these courageous people of all ages who are suffering and holding on with every ounce of dignity just to smile for their families. Cancer knows no age and no boundaries. It robs us of precious time, life and memories.  

If we have our health, we are truly blessed. Let this remind us to be grateful each and everyday. To hug the ones we love. To prioritize what is TRULY important. AND.... I invite you here and now to become a part of this quest to end cancer! I invite you to be a part of my team to help save the lives of those who are suffering! The money I raise goes to research, family support and patient care. I have seen results from the money that I raised ten years ago at the Honolulu Marathon. I am forever grateful and I will continue to pay it forward by doing all I possibly can when I can to advance cancer research for all of us.  

Sometimes it takes a villiage...but together we can move mountains!

All is possible!

In full gratitude,

Libby

P.S. - If you would like to support our team, you can learn more and donate at: http://pages.teamintraining.org/vtnt/Yosemit17/LMcAvoy

Morgan and my team name for this event is, "Not so Main Stream."

Or you too can register to participate in the Team in Training Hike Yosemite event at: http://www.teamintraining.org/events/hike-yosemite

Do you Find Yourself Comfortably Numb in Daily Life?

Often times we wake up and go through the same motions each day like robots. We are so programmed and conditioned that we forget to fully wake up to the sensations of our bodies, to take conscious control over our thoughts and to truly LIVE our lives. Repeating the same things each day is not the same as living. To truly live means to take chances, to feel the ups and downs, to laugh and to cry. Because to live means to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable means to open your heart, and to do that we have to risk being hurt. But the alternative is to shrivel up and emotionally die and that is no way to live. Without growing, changing and continuing forward, stagnancy takes over and a numbness consumes us.

We are born to love. We are born to seek joy. So make time time for the ones you love. Everything else is just an excuse. Dig deep... what is it that you are really hiding from? Are you using work, alcohol, drugs, extreme workouts, seclusion, social media or sex to numb yourself? There are many ways that we mask our pain, but it's important to really live. Not to live comfortably numb. We only get so many days. Grab the ones you love. Find the passion in your heart. Take some time and do the things that set your soul aflame! THAT is what life is really about!  

It's not about the money that you make or the things that you possess when you die. All of that is actually a burden in the end. So, cherish today. Live fully in this moment and make sure that you build the blocks and lay the proper foundation for where it is that you want to go. The key is to strike a healthy balance between being HERE NOW and taking steps in the direction of your biggest dreams and aspirations. Please, I am begging you to wake up and stop feeling comfortably numb. Life is a fantastic song so let's sing it and let the music wake us up and keep us moving along in life!  

I hope this leaves you inspired to do something that you love, or say the things you have wanted to say to someone you love. It takes a lot of strength and courage to live authentically, but I promise you that it is the only TRUE way to live and feel your BEST. Not everyday will be great, but there is something wonderful in every day if you are open to the miracles that are happening around you. Go for your dreams! Feel your fire or tapas (from the Yoga Sutra) within! You are a burning beautiful person with a mission to live life to the fullest. What are you waiting for? 

Wishing you an inspiring week,

Libby

Tips for Combatting the Growing Obesity Epidemic and How the PHIT Act Can Help

Obesity is a gowing epidemic in the United States. According to the CDC, "Obesity related illness including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancers are the leading causes of preventable death." It is truly "sad" that this is happening in our country. Ironically S.A.D. is also the acronym for the Standard American Diet

Our government considers this to be such an enormous problem, with health care costs going through the roof, that Congress is working on a bill called the PHIT Act. The PHIT Act will provide tax incentives to encourage physical fitness by allowing you to take a tax credit of up to $1000 as an individual, or $2000 per household for fitness expenses such yoga classes and gym memberships.

Inactivity is now the 4th leading cause of death in the USA and it contributes to the number one leading cause, which is heart disease.  Exercise and meditation, combined with breathwork can significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Type 2 diabetes can also be reversed with a combination of a diet rich in plant based foods and physical movement. 

Inactivity is a HUGE problem and electronic devices and video games are adding to it. Physically fit kids on the other hand have been proven to get better grades in school. Add yoga to their physical activity and you will also see an increase in focus, memory and concentration.  I would eventually love to see all schools incorporate yoga and meditation into the school day and I believe we are headed in that direction, but we are not there yet. So parents, bring your kids and teens to yoga in the evenings or on the weekends. Even consider practicing yoga together. It is a great activity for the whole family! 

Your health is one of your greatest assets! Your body is your temple. WE can be in control of our lives for the most part. It is not easy to lose large amounts of weight, but it is not as hard as you may think if you break the weight loss process down it into small attainable steps. In other words, set simple goals that you can realistically achieve, be kind and accepting to yourself along the journey and know that there is always help. I have worked with clients who struggle with their weight and they have told me how intimidating it is to join yoga classes because their bodies literally cannot fully do many of the postures. I know that is a major point of frustration and discouragement. If that sounds like you, I am here to help you lose weight and feel better about yourself. I will modify everything in your yoga practice to make it work for you. 

I would strongly suggest if you are looking to lose more than 30 pounds that we schedule a private consultation, take body measurements (the scale is not always the best indicator for weight loss) and make a plan that will work specifically for you. I can teach you modifications that you can then use in group classes. I will also help by holding you accountable (accountability is a big motivator). Commit to yourself to creating a happy, healthy and active lifestyle. You will be amazed when many of your aches and pains disappear and by the energy and the enthusiasm that will flow back into your life.  You were designed to feel good!

Health & happiness,

Libby

PS -  My monthly membership cost is $130. If the PHIT Act passes, you will be able to write off $1000 from your yoga class fees annually on your taxes as an individual, or up to $2000 for a household.  You can even use this tax credit for Teacher Training and turn it into a money making venture for yourself! Please, I urge you, reach out to your Member of Congress and say YES to the PHIT Act! If you or a loved one (children included) are overweight, see me or someone who can help you.  

 

Healing Yoga for PTSD with Libby

Many people suffer from extreme and chronic stress. Stress causes a lot of harm to our physical bodies, as well as to our mental well being. In some cases it can become post-tramatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is far more severe. People who have been through traumatic events such as combat, assault, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, an accident or a natural disaster may suffer from PTSD. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, stomach aches, headaches, and many other chronic manifestations that can last for years if left untreated. PTSD also effects the people who love and care for their loved one who is suffering. 

Supported Bada Konasana opens the hips and the heart. We hold a lot of emotion in the hips.  

*Photos by Morgan McAvoy

According to the Veterans Administration, more than 8 million men, women, and children suffer from PTSD in the US in a given year. I myself suffered and did not recognize the symptoms at first. I went through a physically and emotionally traumatic event many years ago when I was violently abused by a loved one. I had undergone therapy, forgiven, found yoga and thought I had dealt with my grief. In reality I had compartmentalized and stuffed the feelings of betrayal, hurt and fear deep down within to the point where it took many years for those emotions to surface again. Through years of my personal yoga practice and helping others I was able to heal myself. I no longer feel like a victim and I am not at all ashamed to share my story. I want to help others find peace, restoration, and comfort in their own selves, as well.  

In addition to clinical treatments for PTSD via medical (i.e. prescription drugs) and psychological avenues (i.e. Cognitive Processing Therapy, EMDR), yoga is a wonderful way to calm the body and the mind through the physical practice and also to gain control through breathwork. Our breath is one thing we are always in control of, which is quite empowering and an important part of the healing process. In yoga, the parasympathetic nervous system literally slows down and by slowing the breath and the parasympathetic nervous system we literally lower heart rate, blood pressure and calm the mind.  

Seated tree pose is a great stretch for the hamstrings. All forward bends direct your awareness and attention within the self.  

The acceptance and awareness on the mat will eventually carry off the mat and into your daily life. The US Military is now using yoga to treat Veterans recovering from PTSD, and the USMC is referring local vets to Yoga Fit Boutique following a three week intensive program that they have in Chicago. Rehab programs are also using yoga to aid in recovery from drug addiction and alcohol abuse, and prisons are using it for reform.  

Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self. It is a way to dive deep inside yourself to the heart of your soul where true healing, love and forgiveness can occur. You were created to be pure joy. I have now created a class called "Healing Yoga for PTSD," which is specifically designed to restore and relax you, to tune out the chaos of the busy world and nurture yourself in a safe and accepting environment. All hands on assists and adjustments will be optional and you will have the freedom to get up and leave, or rest in child's pose if you feel overwhelmed at any point. This class will help you understand triggers and reconnect you to your mind, body and spirit.  

Supported, or restorative child's pose. Here you are supported by as many props as necessary to fully relax. You can feel free to close your eyes, or if you are more comfortable by all means feel free to leave your eyes open. This is your time to rest and release.

If you or a loved one feel that you suffer from PTSD, this is a serious condition and there are finally helpful resources available to assist you in your healing. The VA, for example, has excellent resources to get you started:  http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp

Much love & healing support,

Libby

PS - Please visit my Class Descriptions page to learn more about Healing Yoga for PTSD. I offer 20% off my rates for veterans, current military service people and first responders for any of my yoga classes. Because managing and healing from PTSD is so important, I am extending this offer to anyone suffering from PTSD who signs up for my Healing Yoga for PTSD class.

 

Relationships 101

Are you searching for the love of your life or struggling to hold onto your marriage? The bottom line is that we all have basic needs. The bigger issue is how to interact in a supportive respectful way. After being in a few relationships myself and experiencing one particular tramatic experience, I think I have a good grasp on what works and what does not.  

First, find someone with whom you share common interests. Be sure you can be great friends before moving into a romantic relationship because the passion unfortunately usually does not last.  

Next, learn your partners love language. We all have certain innate needs that we desire our partner to fill. The five most common are quality time & conversation, sexual touch, gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation. Learn what your partner needs and communicate in a way that honors their love language. 

Keep your passion and sex life active! Many people overlook this, especially years into the relationship and with the hectic schedules that come with raising kids. Sex is more than pleasuring your partner. It is a way to connect and become one. Talk to each other, try new things and enjoy one another. No matter how long you have been together, always date your partner. Try to remember those first months and how much effort you made and then continue that at least occasionally! 

 Stay fit! Ladies and gentlemen take care of your bodies. It is important for health reasons and your partner wants you around for a long time. But let's face it... Many of us gain significant weight and let our bodies go when we know someone has committed to us. Don't do that!!! Yes, they may still love you, but the truth is that they will absolutely appreciate you taking care of your body and staying fit and active!  

Do things together. It is ok to have independence and occasionally do things on your own. Please do not get me wrong, but for the most part when you go to events together, or garden together, or whatever, you will form a tighter bond. So do things with each other and enjoy life together.  

No bickering! No one likes to be around the couple who argues all the time. Compliment each other. Support each other's stories! Listen to one another. Laugh together. Life is short so enjoy it! 

Practice honesty and forgiveness simultaneously. No one is perfect. We all have an innate need to feel trusted and to trust. Loyalty is very important in a relationship. Always be honest with your partner, even if you know you have done something that may hurt that person. It is important to be honest and forthcoming. If your relationship is strong and your partner is forgiving and practices unconditional love, you will survive (within reason). Of course, you must also practice respect for your partner and never do anything in the relationship that could cause you to lose this special person. As long as you practice this, then honesty, trust and forgiveness are relatively easy.  

That sums it up. You do not need to spend a lot of money to enjoy quality time together. Go on a hike, have a picnic, lay under the stars, light some candles or just hold hands.  Let your partner know everyday in some way how much they mean to you. We are never guarenteed tomorrow so treasure today. Tell your partner how much you love him or her and then follow that with action! Life may be hard at times, but it's a little easier with a loving partner. Let's face it... All we really need is LOVE! 

Loving vibes, 

Libby

How to do a Headstand: 6 Steps to a Safe Headstand Using a Solid Foundation to Achieve Your Goals

It's a brand new week so it is the perfect time to set new goals. Make a list of easy ones that you would like to accomplish today. Next, make another list of slightly bigger goals you would like to accomplish this week. Finally, write down several really, really big dreams! If you believe they will happen and work toward them, you will likely achieve your goals!

The first step is getting started, and honestly that is usually the hardest part. Building a firm foundation is key. In relationships that foundation might include honesty, respect, communication and many other joint things of importance. For financial goals and manifesting abundance, it may involve a solid education, connections in your field of interest, and many hours of dedication and perseverance. In yoga, a firm foundation requires a regular disciplined practice. Through this regular practice you build the strength and flexibility allowing you to advance. You create awareness on the mat that then carries off the mat and into your daily life. And all of these experiences affect your practice! After all, the body and mind are deeply connected. 

Today I will show you the basic foundations for learning how to do a safe and sturdy headstand. This method will allow you to graduate into the full inversion as you feel ready; letting go of your fears and building your core strength. It is very important to use your core and to listen to your body! If you feel too much pressure on your neck, come immediately out of the posuture!  

Here are the 6 steps for safely doing a headstand:

1. Start in downward dog position. Drop to your forearms and interlace your fingers around your head. Bring your big toes together, then walk your toes in toward your elbows. Stay here and breathe to build strength and get used to having your head below your heart, OR move to step 2. 

2. Lift one leg at a time using your core strength. Keep your knees bent and legs close to your body coming into egg position. Feel free to do this with your back close to a wall and your mat doubled under your head and arms.  

3. Once both knees are up you are in control. You can slowly lift one leg at a time all the way up, or if this is enough for you at this moment, simply come back down.  

4. Keeping your knees bent as you raise your legs allows your center of gravity to stay low. So, if you feel wobbly, simply lower your legs and come safely back down.

5. Go slowly. Take your time. Press into your forearms to relieve pressure on the neck. Eventually, you will have the strength to press all the way up so that your head leaves the ground.

Photography by Morgan McAvoy

6. Finally, you can lift all the way up and achieve a full headstand. To come down safely and in control you want to practice coming back into that egg position. Remember, listen to your body. This is not the place for the ego to be involved. Safety is a priority.  

Practicing headstands has many benefits including: stress relief, increased focus, improved digestion, increased shoulder and arm strength, decreased fluid build up and retention in the legs, ankles, and feet, and increased core strength. Headstands also stimulate the lymphatic system. Not to mention they are fun and bring out your inner child!

It is so important to remember to have fun in life and continue to grow and accomplish new things! We are NEVER too old. Age is simply a number. What is important is how we feel. So get to it! Set your personal goals and make them happen. Feel the energy rise as your dreams start to come true! 

My personal short term goals this week are to: 

1. Finish organizing my studio space at home.

2. Make and deliver treats to families I know who are struggling.  

3. Clean and put away all of my laundry (dirty secret revealed! I tend to throw clothes on top of my dresser instead of actually opening the drawers).  

My longterm goals are to: 

1. Make an instructional video and DVD.

2. Plan and implement yoga retreats.  

3. Grow the audience for this blog and website by offering high quality content.

Feel free to comment and share your goals! I would love to hear from you. Remember, these are the starting points. If you do not accomplish them today or this week, forgive yourself and add it to your goals for the following day or week. Practice full acceptance of yourself and know that all is coming!

Simply believe!  

Libby

PS - Make sure to sign up for my NEWSLETTER.  If you do it through the pop-up window on my website, you will automatically be given access to my new and highly informative article called, "Top 10 Reasons to Practice Yoga." This inspiring guide also has links to additional articles that go deeper into each subject. Email me if you are already signed up for my newsletter and I will send you the password and instructions to access these tips.  You will also receive the password in my next newsletter that I am currently writing.  Thanks so much for your support and interest!

 

The Kids Might be Back in School, But There are Still Some Great Days Left to Relish Summer

Gearing up for school brings mixed emotions, but there's still time to make more great memories with your kids before summer truly slips away. For example, have you seen the new Hippopotamus Exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens?  It is really fantastic and a great place to take your kids!  

Hippo-Cove-Logo

The Zoo's new Hippo exhibit, called Hippo Cove, was one of our favorite outings this summer! Both of my kids and I loved it and we highly recommend that you experience it for yourselves! The zoo has two brand new hippos: Henry and Bimi. They are truly amazing and fun to watch. It has been many many years since the Cincinnati zoo has had a hippo exhibit due to the very extensive and expensive filtration it takes to maintain a hippo environment (if you have ever visited a hippo pool in Africa, you know how dirty they get). The newly opened hippo exhibit earned a big fat WOW from us!!!! Cinci... Congrats! You knocked it out of the park! The underwater viewing area is especially amazing! 

Underwater portion of the new hippo exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo

Underwater portion of the new hippo exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo

Henry and Bimi are most active and playful first thing in the morning and from 2-6 pm.  Just next door, in the African exhibit you can also see the adorable baby giraffe. I know many people are anti zoo because they feel animals are better off in nature. I really respect that, and when I returned from my African Safari in 1990 it was very difficult for me to visit the zoo for many years. I now realize what a great educational vessel the zoo really is. Without it most would never get to see a real hippo or a giraffe.

Wild hippos in East Africa

Funny story... In 1990 I went on a youth trip to Kenya in East Africa. At that time I was between 8th and 9th grade and not so savvy about the dangers that lurk in the wilds of Africa. So one day my group was picnicking near a river. While the adults were setting up, some friends and I ventured down an embankment to the river. We thought perhaps we would cross the "big rocks" that were partially exposed out of the water and go to the other side of the river. Within seconds our tour guide was quite excited. Frantic some might say as he practically tumbled down the hill screaming for us to get away from the HIPPOS!!!! It was then I learned how dangerous these beautiful creatures really are. Thankfully we were all ok. 

Hippos have strong jaws and they will fiercely defend their territories.

The name hippopotamus comes from an ancient Greek word, which means "water horse." Hippos love to spend most of their time in the water, which keeps them cool during the heat of the day. But they also venture onto land at night to graze on grass. The average hippo weighs 3,300 pounds and can run over 30 mph. Although they appear "cute," they can be quite dangerous. In fact, hippos kill more people in Africa each year than any other animal. Fortunately for you, they can now be viewed up close at the Cincinnati Zoo in a safe and pleasant environment.  

Henry &amp; Bimi at the Cincinnati Zoo

Henry & Bimi at the Cincinnati Zoo

This weekend (August 20-21st) the Cincinnati Zoo is celebrating Visitor Appreciation Days and tickets are 1/2 off the normal price, so take advantage of this special and go see these spectacular creatures.

Venture out and let me know what YOU THINK of the new hippo display. To my readers and friends not in the Cincinnati area, please tell me in the comments below how you will enjoy these last few bits of the glory days of summer where you live. You never know, there's still time to take a short road trip and make great family memories!  

Go catch fireflies and toast marshmallows... Summer is not over yet!  

Libby

PS- Don't miss the cutest baby giraffe at the Cincinnati Zoo!

Fresh, Simple, Delish.... Summer Harvest at Its Best!

Summer is the perfect time to visit your local farmers markets because the produce is super fresh, ready to eat, local and oh so yummy.  You even get to meet the farmers who grew it, so you know where your food comes from and you are supporting your local economy. Better yet, you can support local organic farmers, which assures that your family will not be eating GMO's and produce that is potentially contaminated with the residues of hazardous herbicides and insecticides. After all the health of your family is of utmost importance!

Findlay Market, the oldest farmers market in Ohio. Located in Downtown Cincinnati, it was established in 1852.

Findlay Market, the oldest farmers market in Ohio. Located in Downtown Cincinnati, it was established in 1852.

Cooking at home is not only theraputic, it also gives you the ability to control what goes into your food, which in many cases can make it healthier by using less added fats, sugar and salt. If you have children, by all means get them involved too!!! The more they participate in cooking with you, the more likely they are to try new things and consume a broad spectrum of healthy fruits and vegetables. The younger ones can pour and stir. The older ones, with supervision, can start to chop, slice, measure and use the stove.

Farmers markets have so much more than just fruits and vegetables! Local honey is incredibly healthy and can help prevent local allergies. You can find handmade candles, baskets and other goods as well!  

When I grew my first garden in 2010, I planted eggplant and that was the first year my kids tried eggplant Parmesan and loved it! They ate it because they thought it was so beautiful! It is easy and fun to eat colorfully in the summer and it is proven that the more colorfully we eat, the more likely that we and our children will receive the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that we need to grow and live a healthy lives.

Take your time, talk with the farmers, enjoy the experience!&nbsp;

Take your time, talk with the farmers, enjoy the experience! 

For or those who do not like to cook, or live alone and feel overwhelmed by too much food when you cook, I get it! But, summer is a great time for simple, healthy dishes where portions are easy to control. By shopping at local farmers markets you can buy single amounts of tomatoes, zucchini, corn, cucumbers, small eggplants... The possibilities are endless!  

Totally yummy and easy to make tomato & zucchini casserole.

Here are some incredibly simple and healthy meal ideas that take less than 15 minutes to prepare and are best prepared with fresh and local veggies in the summer:  

TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD

1. Slice fresh tomato, top with mozzarella cheese, drizzle with good balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Also feel free to add fresh basil leaves. Mmmm, it tastes so incredibly delicious this time of year! *Tip: no need for oil here- save it for your bread to go with this and you have a complete light meal. 

Nothing beats a fresh summer tomato. &nbsp;There are many types of tomatoes so again, talk to the farmers and they can direct you if you do not know which kind you want.

Nothing beats a fresh summer tomato.  There are many types of tomatoes so again, talk to the farmers and they can direct you if you do not know which kind you want.

GRILLED SEASONED CORN ON THE COB

2. Peel the husks from an ear of corn, lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, feel free to add the seasoning you like such as cumin, chili powder, garlic, tumeric... Grill 5-10 min. Cut off the corn off of the cob and toss it with black beans, cucumber and tomato. Finish it with 1T of red wine vinegar and salt to taste.  Top it with feta or blue cheese if you like and enjoy! 

Fresh basil

FRESH HOMEMADE PESTO

3.  Place a cup of basil in a food processor, add a clove of garlic, a sprinkle of salt, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and the juice of half a lemon. Start to blend, slowly add good quality extra virgin olive oil just until blended (maybe 1/4 c). Use this pesto on roasted grilled veggies, eggs, pasta, steak or chicken if you eat meat, potato salad w green beans... It will keep 1-3 days in your fridge. It is also great drizzled over the tomato mozzarella salad or on a sandwich!

Visiting farmers markets can also be fun on vacations. &nbsp;This is a market in Palm Springs, Ca.

Visiting farmers markets can also be fun on vacations.  This is a market in Palm Springs, Ca.

Make plans to visit your local farmers market this weekend and try one of these delicious and easy to make recipes. You'll be so happy that you did!

Happy Healthy Eating,

Libby

PS - If you are concerned about the the food that you are feeding your family and its impact on the environment, I highly recommend the documentary film, "Food Inc." Check it out on Netflix or YouTube and tell me what you think.

Learning the Art of Surrender when Faced with Life's Challenges

We all face challenges at different points in our lives. It is how we manage the stress of these challenges that matters. The truth is what doesn't challenge us won't change us. And we ultimately grow stronger with each challenge that we conquer. But... As a whole, we are resistant to change. We resist change for two main reasons, in my humble opinion, and please feel free to comment below on how you feel! I feel we resist change because of fear and attachment to the outcome.  The truth is without change there is no growth and without growth we remain stagnant. 

We are taught as a society that quitting is giving up and that is a sign of failure. But many times it takes the most successful person to recognize that it is time to move on. I would rather call it surrender. Surrendering is far different from quitting. It means acceptance of what is without battling against what you thought it should be. It is the full release of the ego centered mind. It is a full letting go...  

Anytime you feel stress, be it from a relationship, work, school, traffic, financial pressure, just surrender to what is and let it be. Breathe, release, let go. Sometimes this requires big life changes and breaking through major barriers of fear, but please believe me when I tell you it is so worth it! I have lived through this so many times in the past six months.   

Most recently I closed my yoga studio. This was heartbreaking! At first I saw it as failure. Then I took some deep breaths and practiced everything that I truly believe from my years of yoga practice, spiritual studies and business lessons. I realized it was not at all a failure, but the beginning of the best journey of my life. My friends and family stepped up so beautifully, moving me out of the studio, showing up with meals and pies, hugs, notes... And this week a HUGE limb mysteriously crashed down in my backyard. It was not raining. There was no wind. Miraculously my dogs, who were playing in my yard, were not seriously injured or worse.  It was a really close call for Luna, but she fortunately escaped unharmed. Anyway, my daughter's friend showed up without being asked, cut up the wood and hauled it away. He even cut my grass. These acts of kindness are the light at the end of the tunnel. Accept the kind acts of others, surrender pride and practice gratitude.

So you see, I never needed the studio. That was just the physical space that allowed me to bloom for a short period into who I am today. I can do my work anywhere, which is a liberating feeling. I am unbound and so aware of the miracles around me. I have let go of almost all fear (I am still human so...). I practice complete and full acceptance of myself and others and I welcome change. Surrendering to what is and what will be is my new motto because the truth is we are in control of very little. We can control our breath, our thoughts, our behavior toward others and our reactions and that's about it my friends!  

Truly, I have been touched by the outpouring of support. Once I surrendered, I realized the difference between surrendering and quitting. I felt tremendous relief. Quitting implies failure. There was no failure in closing my studio. There is no failure in divorce. There is no failure in changing careers... Sometimes making a decision for change is the most courageous thing you can do to propell yourself toward upward growth. Surround yourself with like minded, positive, supportive people and everything will be ok. Listen to your intuition. Trust, trust, trust...  

Faith & Hope, 

Libby

PS, I hope you will watch the video below for many reasons.  Music touches our souls and affects our emotions in many ways.  The message is to simplify, which is so beautiful and is one part of the 8 limbs of yoga, which is non needing and non hoarding, which goes in line with the Yama of Aparigraha, and also in line with the Niyama of Santosa, which means contentment or being happy with what you have.  Ultimately, once you realize you have all that you need, you will be a much happier person.  Yoga is far more than a practice on the mat ;)