Thursday, September 3, 2015

SPONSOR LOVE!!! Setting Gratitude Free

Dear Friend,

As an activist and a yoga teacher, I have a bit of a push-pull relationship with gratitude. On one hand, I believe that gratitude is a foundation for joy, simplicity and non-grasping. On the other hand, I feel that it’s sometimes used as a vehicle for one-upping others or glossing over life’s challenges.

I much prefer it as a companion through those challenges.

Shortly after my mother was diagnosed with cancer, my friends and I began hosting Sunday night dinners. Before we ate, I would insist that everyone hold hands and say something about their gratitude. At first, people were shy, but eventually they shared deeply personal things. About the struggles, yes, but also about the light they could see through that.

Gratitude became a daily practice that I cultivated throughout my mom’s treatment, and I began writing the book on gratitude that I wished had existed. I tried and failed at writing down the three things every day for which I was grateful. I felt the friction of being grateful through a loved one’s cancer, and the lists didn’t fill me up.

When I opened my healing arts practice, I knew that gratitude would be a core theme to explore. You see, for people who are change-makers and caregivers — the people I love to work with most — gratitude can be both potent and prickly. (And for the record, I believe that everyone embodies the role of change-maker, caregiver or both at some point in their lives.)

I say in the workbook that Gratitude is a force.

It is a force for claiming our lives, for embracing wholeness and for pursuing liberation.

My book, Setting Gratitude Free, helps you tap into that force. There’s a workbook and action guide to explore and deepen your gratitude, but there are also practice to help you take gratitude off the page. Because gratitude works best when it’s spoken out loud.

There are also the audio version of the book, bonus thank you cards and a gratitude circle practice. These forms of expressing gratitude lend themselves to cultivating intimacy and beauty in the everyday. (Would your best friend love getting a thank you card? I’m sure she would.)

This beautiful e-book arrives via my own personal experience. This isn’t just road-tested — it lives in my body and practice. Now, I can’t be more delighted to share it with you.

If you’re interested in more heartfelt self-care inspiration, hop over to my email list. You’ll get a free copy of the Liberatory Self-Care Manifesto, and I have quite a few free gifts headed your way in September.

With care,

Christy Tennery-Spalding is a yoga teacher, activist, reiki & Thai massage practitioner, and author of Setting Gratitude Free. She works with caregivers and change-makers to develop self-care practices that are custom, intuitive & feasible. 
Christy lives in Oakland, California, where she enjoys frolicking in redwoods and soaking in hot springs. She believes in people power and real self-care. 
Online | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Time, Control and Perfectionism

Post by Nikki Starcat Shields for the Kind Kindred series.

image courtesy of

In the course of my work I talk to many people, women especially, who wish they could focus more on their spirituality, their creativity, their soul’s greatest desires. But they truly feel like they can’t do that.

Why not?

The most-cited reason is that they just don’t have the time. Does this sound like something you would say?

The paradox of that rationale is that you often have more time and freedom in your life when you do your spiritual practice - but we’ll get back to that later.

First it’s important to know that you always have a choice about what you do with your time. It might not feel like it, but in the big picture you are doing exactly what you have chosen to do. The fabric of your life is made up of thousands of threads of big and small choices. Some of them are decisions you made without even fully understanding the consequences.

So why do we do this to ourselves? How do we get to the point where we feel that we have no options, no time to take care of ourselves, not even a moment to devote to our own inner world? It’s because we buy into the illusion that we have to do certain things in order to be a good person. We feel like we have to be in complete control of our lives; that everything should be (or at least look from outside) perfect. We believe that we need to give our energy to everyone and everything else in our lives. Then we get what is left over, if there is anything left at all.

By believing these things we are sabotaging ourselves.

Sure our intentions are pure. We want to take care of our family, be the best we can at our job, do right by our community. We want to be a good, responsible person. The problem is we often mistake control for responsibility.

Let’s break it down a bit. When you try to control every last little thing in your life you’re constantly at the whim of events, of other people and their needs, and of your own emotional storms. You’re reacting rather than being proactive. It’s frustrating because you’re never really where you want to be. There is always more to do.

When you instead release the need for control, you tune in more to your intuition and to the vast energies of the Divine. You begin with harmony, there at your own center, in your mind and heart. As Wayne Dyer says, “You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” By creating a hamster-wheel of stress, running around trying to put out fires and juggle plates, you’re not letting things flow naturally.

You’re not letting your life be what it is. You’re clouding it with expectations, often ones that don’t have anything to do with your deepest dreams and callings. You’re trying to have the perfect life instead of living your life.

Perfectionism is over-emphasized in modern culture. We all want to have houses like the people on TV though we certainly don’t want the emotional drama that often gets played out in those beautiful homes. We want appreciation, validation, and kudos from those around us. We want to “have it all” - the home, the spouse, the kids, the job, the toys. We want to look like we have it all together even though we don’t - and we shouldn’t, really, because we’re here on Earth to learn new things not to demonstrate that we already have it all figured out.

What goes along with perfectionism? Good old-fashioned guilt. If we do have problems, we often feel guilty about it. If we were good enough, did the right things, gave selflessly every hour of every day, then those bad things wouldn’t happen. Right?

No, not really.

If we’re here to learn, which is a truth found in many of Earth’s spiritual traditions throughout the ages; wouldn’t it make sense to be a fully committed student of life? How can we do that? There are many ways, but pausing and listening within is certainly a good start.

Now we’re back to the beginning of the circle. I would love to meditate regularly, you might be thinking, but I just don’t have the time.

Spiritual practice, done for just a few minutes each day, can change that.

Let’s use meditation for example as it’s a pretty universal and very effective practice. By choosing to deliberately set aside fifteen minutes at the start of each day you’ll learn to become more present in your life, to see things more clearly. You’ll begin to see how your fears and doubts push you to try and control external events. You’ll tap into a place within where perfection feels more like being centered and calm and less like running around mindlessly trying to get things checked off some list. You’ll drop the guilt as you notice how much more you can give to your family, friends, and co-workers when your own cup is filled up.

Not having time, it turns out, causes you to miss out on a whole lot of joy, purpose and love. The way to have more of it isn’t to work harder and make more money, or to be more deserving, or to wait for the kids to grow up.

The way to have more quality time and a better life is tied directly to your discovering and following your own soul’s wisdom. Are you willing to listen?

Nikki Starcat Shields is a published author, Mom, Reiki healer, and licensed priestess. She blogs at Starcat's Corner and shares her callings at Feline Dreamers. Looking for ways to expand your creativity and bring more joy into your life? Here's a gift just for you: download Starcat's brand new free e-book, Open Your Creative Portals.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Make good thought habits

photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

Ever find yourself obsessing over something small? The other night I was laying in bed completely obsessing over whether my husband turned off the gas grill. Now, my husband is very responsible when it comes to things like that, but I got the thought in my head and it just kept going and going and going... How would I get the cat out if the house caught on fire? What could I grab? All kinds of anxiety-driven thoughts, but never once did I wake him or walk outside to check. I let myself spin.

What we focus on, whether it's spinning at night over a gas grill, or gratitude during the day, trains our habit of thought. 

Speaking of gratitude, it's no coincidence that when we're grateful, we are happier, calmer and even healthier. The more we focus on gratitude, the more we find to be grateful for. We are training ourselves to think a certain way. We are creating thought habits.

Just like physical habits, we can be intentional about our thought habits. I don't believe in mantras that feel untrue or inauthentic, but I do love a list. Want to create some good thought habits? Start a list of things you're proud of, grateful for and/or love about yourself. Write 3 things every day, and watch as your focus shifts and your thoughts evolve.

Most importantly, cultivate awareness of your thoughts. Even when my thoughts were spinning about a gas grill, I was aware that they were anxiety-driven. When I'm intentional about gratitude or proud of myself for something, I am very aware of how I feel. I feel happy and content and I stand a little taller. Those are the thought habits that I want to create.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.


CLICK TO TWEET: Make good thought habits.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

First Parturition

Turns out pain switches
Off and on. The breaks are great
Final bliss, extreme

Kimberly G. Jackson studied literature at Yale and New York University, but now reads and writes poetry just for the love of it. 

She lives in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Kick Ass Self Kindness

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Andrea Owen of We get real about kindness, courage and most importantly, self-kindness and ways to start treating yourself differently. 

What started as an interview, ended up being a good ole girlfriend chat, so sit back and join us for 30 minutes that will feel great and give you actionable ways to be more kind to yourself!


Life coach. Mom. Author. Roller Derby Rebel. Hellraiser. 
Andrea Owen is passionate about empowering women to value themselves and fiercely love who they are.
She helps women get what they want by letting go of perfectionism, control, and isolation and choosing to practice courage instead. 

You can learn more at
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Choose your happy

photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

Kate Courageous, who happens to be joining me on Tuesday September 15th to co-host a free workshop on overwhelm for KOM's Love Notes recipients, defines courage as feeling afraid, diving in anyway, and transforming. Did you see that 2nd part - the one about diving in anyway? Yeah. That's the action.

Like courage, happiness is something we choose with our actions. When I think about the times in my life when I was most unhappy, they are also the times when I wasn't taking action. Well, that's not necessarily true. I was doing a lot of complaining and talking about the problem, but I was taking no action toward happiness. Not surprisingly, once I dove in, transformation happened.

It's so tempting to get stuck in the place of negativity - that place where we curl up with our sadness or feel like we deserve better - and never take action. When I look back on a particularly challenging period in my marriage, I clearly remember many weepy conversations with girlfriends, lots of brooding and anger. I curled up with those things for months, and you know what? Nothing good happened. No transformation and certainly no happiness.

What shifted things was action. Talking to my husband. Expressing my feelings. Owning my shit. Viola, transformation, and yes, after some work that we both wanted to do, happiness. Is it easy? No way. Is it worth it? Most definitely. The relationship that we have now (the one that's a great source of happiness) is a direct result of the action I took.

This week, I invite you to look at places in your life that aren't the happiest. What actions could you take to increase your happiness? We get this one life, and we have so much more power than we realize. Choose your happy.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.


CLICK TO TWEET: Choose actions that make you happy.

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