The Importance of Getting To Know (and Love) Your Inner Dork!

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I was born an extremely strange child.  That’s me up above in the background, pulling on my eyelids with martian bobbles on my head.  That’s my sister up front, looking marginally annoyed and confused by whatever I am doing and my existence in general. I have evoked this response from her, and many others, since my first breaths on this Earth, and I have a funny feeling I may continue to do so until my last.

When I was little, being weird and silly worked for me.  It was a great way to ease tension, get myself out of trouble (my mother ALWAYS broke),  distract myself from boredom and use my imagination in creative ways.  We had a giant dress-up box in my basement and whenever it was raining and I couldn’t play outside and peel acorns for -the squirrels, down to the basement I would go.  I would spend some time finding the perfect outfit, march back up the stairs (sometimes at my own risk depending on my threads), head into whatever room my family member, house guests, friends or door-to-door salesman were in and just stand there…until somebody noticed and burst out laughing.

I continued this behavior throughout high school, not assumed “most likely to succeed” or “best dressed”, but certainly nailing “funniest girl” when it came time for my peers to vote for our senior yearbook.  I could handle that.  Funny was my thang.  I never felt weird or judged for being a goon.  It just came naturally and, even when others scoffed at it or thought me obnoxious, I did my thing and tried not to worry about it.

2    In short, I was a big dork.  However, life hasn’t always been a series of silly moments for me.  I went through a very dark time, much like most people I know.  As I got a little older, life threw a rather quick succession of shitty events my way, and somewhere in the midst of it all, I lost my spark.  Being silly and goofy became that thing that other people who weren’t going through drama did.  It seemed like a waste of time and an act of immaturity.  I began relying on substances and things outside of myself to help me hold on to that feeling of joy and freedom that being myself had previously allowed me to have.  I gave half-ass smiles when I knew it was appropriate and made self-deprecating cracks once in a while just to keep up my shtick, but inside I felt very broken and unhappy.  Slowly, the zany, dorky person who I naturally am, got lost in a spiral of self-judgement, self-pity and the feeling that this is how I was “supposed to be” after the things I had been through.  To put it bluntly, I was pissed off, bored out of my mind, depressed and TOTALLY out of alignment with who I was.

Fast forward a few years (like 10).  I gave birth to my son and spent the first year or so of his life looking at him much like my sister is looking at me in the debut picture of this post.  How is he smiling and happy and goofy all the time?  Where does his energy come from?  Can I have some of it?????  I couldn’t help but smile myself.  Two years later, my daughter was born.  By this time, I was starting to get the hang of this whole motherhood thing (if anybody can truly “get the hang” of parenting, that is).  I began to watch their interaction with one another, and from the very first day I brought her home, I watched them find joy in each other.  They laughed incessantly together from the day she could laugh.  They began to imagine and create together as soon as she could do that.  They played dress-up and restaurant and superheroes and would come to me almost daily to see who’s creative outfit was the best (they still do, and they always tie). Watching them, I started to learn how to play and be silly again.  I remembered how much fun impromptu dance parties in the living room are, how much fun it is to make others laugh and how amazingly freeing it is to let yourself be the dorkiest, craziest version of yourself, no matter what.

I am proud to say that now, at 35 years old, I am once again an unapologetic dork, like it or lump it.  It took me a while, but I finally realized the importance of owning my inner dork, without exception.  I’ve also realized that we ALL have an inner dork.  Mine shows up through goofy costumes, bad dance moves and singing off key, but maybe yours is something else.  Maybe you like telling really bad jokes.  Maybe you’re really into stamp collecting or enjoy looking in the mirror and making up your own commercials.  Maybe you like to secretly escape to Star Trek conventions or enjoy watching Anime action/adventure flicks on the weekends.  Whatever your inner dork digs, let it shine! You enjoy these things for a reason, and denying them because of social norms or how others might perceive you, isn’t doing you any favors.  There is endless joy in embracing the things that allow you to be a total goofball.  When we take ourselves too seriously, we slowly extinguish this beautiful part of ourselves.  When we learn to love it, we inspire others to do the same.

Yes, I am a dork, through and through.  I am a dork and I own it proudly.  I am also married to an incredibly awesome dork and the mother to two of the most amazing dorks I know.  Find your passion, embrace it and share it with the world, no matter what it looks like.  This is what makes you uniquely you.  If you’re really ready to let your dork flag fly, share a picture of your dorkiest moment in the comment section below!  I’d love to see it! 3

If you are ready to release your limiting beliefs and learn to love your inner dork again, visit my website HERE or call me for a free consultation at 561-951-7045.  You can also like me on FACEBOOK to keep up with my latest classes & events.

The Three Words That Changed My Life

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We were a few weeks into my Yoga Teacher Training, the whole lot of us shimmying around periodically on mats and blankets and bolsters in an effort to bring feeling back into our asses. It felt like the 10-hour long Saturdays, most of them spent sitting on the studio floor, were starting to wear my sit bones down to bloody stumps, but there was literally NOWHERE I would have rather been. I loved reading, listening and writing about this amazing, potentially 10,000 year old tradition. I loved deciphering the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras. I loved bending my body into shapes I didn’t know existed and challenging it in ways I never would have thought to do so. Most of all, I loved experimenting with all of the exercises that forced me to experience the mind, body, breath connection ingrained within us all. Learning about the ways that our bodies hold our past experiences and how this energy gets trapped within us…I was hooked. It was this night, sitting in this cozy studio among my fellow seekers, fully engrossed in listening to my teacher, Scott Feinberg, that he said the three words that I have revisited time and time again since, that truly changed my life. “Own Your Bigness!”

I had spent the past 15 years or so struggling to find my place, dealing with divorced parents, a tragic accident at a young age, a move to Florida, several abusive relationships, a bumpy ride with recreational drugs, and then the transitions into adulthood as I got married, bought a home and had two children. I struggled with motherhood, constantly questioning my right to these two amazing souls who had come to me.  I found myself quieter, more withdrawn and really fighting to maintain my self esteem.  I battled with depression on and off, and only began to remedy it when I found yoga. For whatever reason, as I sat here this Saturday, these three words struck a nerve in me like nothing else ever had. My bigness? Shit, did I have any of that left? I know I used to have bigness. I used to own the crap out of it! Where did it go and was it really, as he was suggesting, possible to get it back just by owning it? How does one go about owning their bigness and if there’s a course on it…where the hell do I sign up?

I began to use these words as my mantra, repeating them to myself over and over and over again every single time I was faced with a challenge. “Own it, Jillian. Own your bigness. Nobody else is going to own it for you.” At first it felt a little fake and forced, but the more I said it, the more it grew inside of me. It continued to blossom through the rest of my training until it was REALLY put to the test the day I taught my first real yoga class. I must have said that phrase in my head 400 million times as I stood outside the studio door trying to catch my breath and not faint in front of my students. I thought for certain I would throw up or lose my words or die of embarrassment as I crossed the threshold and took my place at the front of the class. Go figure, I actually survived that day and have gone on to enjoy teaching. Can you believe it? I couldn’t even fathom it at the time.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, these three words started a new pattern in my head…a new way of thinking, which has led to a whole new way of life for me. These three words have allowed me to continue on my path and have moved me in the direction I’m pointed now, life coaching with others to teach them how to break down their own thought patterns and create something new and fresh and beautiful, beyond their past experiences. These three words have taught me that being our own biggest cheerleader is the most important and heartfelt gift we can give, not only to ourselves, but to those around us. When we can learn to allow ourselves to own our own bigness…no, not just allow…INSIST that we do it, we are offering our best self to those around us as well. Suddenly our limitations start to fall away as we connect to this powerhouse of energy, love, possibility and bravery within us. The coolest part is that we ALL have it. It’s not limited to the super rich or mega popular or the extremely good looking. It’s only limited to us if we allow it to be.

The best part about all of this for me? Well, I’ve gotten to pair up my love of inspiring this excitement and truth in others with my love for the mind, body, breath connection. Working with the Chakra system (the main energy centers in the body where we store emotions and experiences), I have been able to use a 12-week program written by my teacher, Amy Lombardo, to help my clients navigate the areas in their own lives where they may not be owning their bigness.  I have watched transformation after beautiful transformation. I have witnessed intense releases of past hurts and that moment where something becomes fully clear within you. I have seen my clients grow beyond their own limitations and far exceed their own assumptions of what they were capable of. It has been beautiful, liberating, humbling and eye opening for me, and keeps me a student even as I progress on my path as a teacher. It seems that just at that moment where I’m starting to doubt my own bigness again, I watch something amazing happen and I am reminded of all that is possible when we believe in ourselves.  If you had asked me once what I thought I would be doing for a living, I never could have foreseen this, and I couldn’t ask for more.

So teach the class, stand up and tell that idea you think is too stupid to share, apply for the job you want, take a leap of faith, ask him/her out on a date…and BELIEVE in yourself. Own your bigness, because nobody else can do it for you.

 

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“Compassion is a verb.”

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Thich Nhat Hanh once said that “Compassion is a verb”.  A verb is a word used to describe an action. Compassion is defined on Dictionary.com as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune”; a feeling…a noun.  Although there is a clear paradox in these two definitions, Hanh’s statement is truly powerful. He is implying that compassion is not a passive state of being…it’s not just a feeling.  The state of compassion points us to a need for action.

The world is currently in a sad shape, so surrounded are we by hatred, fear, war, and adversity.  Countries are bombing one another over the very things we should be coming together over.  God, no matter what name you call Him/Her/It by, should be a unifying force between us, and yet our need to be right continuously throws up senseless barriers.  Natural disasters are wiping out countries that are living in absolute squalor, yet we have building materials stocking shelves in every Home Depot across the country, sitting unused.  Children across the world are starving, and here we are with a Publix on every single corner.  I could go on and on and on.    We have all experienced that moment, watching the news, sick to our stomach at the turmoil we are seeing on the screen, wondering how people can do these things to one another, to the planet, etc.  We watch helplessly on, feeling sympathy for others in their suffering and wishing there was something we could do about it.  However, can you imagine what kind of a world we could create if, together, we put some action behind these feelings?

This post is not meant to be depressing, nor is it meant to be a rant about all of the things we are doing wrong as a society.  It is simply meant to raise awareness.  How are YOU showing up each day?  Are you putting action behind your compassion?  It’s so easy to get caught up in the feeling of being one, small voice, but we are each so much bigger than that if we simply TRY to be heard.  One small voice becomes two small voices, and then three and four, and eventually hundreds of voices getting louder and louder and louder, until perhaps the day comes where our voices boom louder even than the poverty, louder than the hunger, louder than the bombs ravaging countries.  However, if we allow ourselves to fall back into this helplessness we may feel, we are relinquishing any power that we could potentially have to positively impact our future and the lives of those around us.

Each of us will leave our impact differently.  Maybe we become the voice for those without the resources to speak out, maybe we raise money for a cause we are passionate about, or maybe we fly abroad to volunteer in impoverished countries.  Maybe our role in the process is as simple as lending an ear to someone who needs to be listened to, or offering a smile and a hug to someone who is going through a tough time.  All of these acts, no matter how big or small, matter.  YOU matter!  Your voice matters.  Your decision to take action rather than submit to the world as it is, matters.  SO. VERY. MUCH.

As we approach a new week, I urge each and every one of you to use each day within it to take some form of action.  Where does your compassion draw you?  What cause, circumstance, person, or charity needs your one, small voice, so that theirs can grow loud enough to be heard?  Start simple.  Write a blog, send a love letter, share a smile, buy the guy in line behind you a cup of coffee without telling him.  Every act of compassion ignites a spark in its recipient and any others lucky enough to watch it happen.  Be that spark.  We are all one family, all wanting the same things from this life.  Safety, security, happiness, triumph, peace, and love.  You, no matter who you are, have the opportunity to help provide these things to people all across the board, whether you know it or not.  Your one, simple smile could be just the thing that ignites the spark in another, who then goes off to change the world.  You never know how powerful you are, but know that you are far more powerful than you think.

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