Salt Lake City: Here’s What Went Dōwn

I’ll try to do it in less than two thousand words, but I don’t think I can.

I attended some amazing conferences when I worked in property management. But what dōTERRA just pulled off was magical. Something magical happens anytime you put 30,000 like-minded people together I suppose. I’m still on a high from all the good vibes and energy. The people-hangover was real, and much like a normal hangover for me these days, it seems to get worse each day this week. I feel a little more drained each day, but my heart remains full from inspiration and my mind his racing with ideas for the direction I want my business to grow in. The kind of inspiration that comes up out of the nowhere and makes you cry. The kind that sets your soul on fire.

My aunt Leslie and I made the journey to Salt Lake together, as we are both only 6 months young to the business-building side of dōTERRA. We connected with others on our team and others on different teams. We were gifted with tokens of appreciation from our uplines and had the chance to talk and connect in deeper ways than ever before. We needed this time together, and though the sacrifices made to get there were real, we made it.

We were schooled with science talk. I absorbed information over a three-day period from a wealth of super-intelligent people, from all over the world. Oncologists and dermatologists and nurse practitioners and ER surgeons and botanists and yoga instructions/wounded warriors and family physicians and RNs. I heard from other leaders within the company, founding executives and customers/builders alike. I met Billy Blanks! Turns out his wife is a dōTERRA builder, too. And he was there to share in the same incredible experience I had the honor of having. I showed him my muscles and told him how much I loved my Tae Bo VHS tapes! He agreed to this selfie, and even took it for me. 

I was filled with joy for 5 days. And I’ve been dying a little inside to sit and write out this blog to tell you just a bit about what I learned.

For starters, the growth happening within dōTERRA right now is  insane. In the month of July alone, there were one million orders fulfilled. I placed one. You might have placed one. But combined there were one million. So, people are clearly using oils. We could assume they are being used in the home, or in the business, but what about in the healthcare industry???

Currently, our medical system functions on two different models:

  1. The 3rd party payer (aka the insurance company)
    1. Natural incentives could be integrated, but they are misaligned
  2. Fee for Service (aka Medicaid/Medicaire)
    1. Incentives provider to increase QUANTITY of care over QUALITY of care
    2. No incentive offered for holistic care

So, what would it look like if we could change that?

  • What if we could introduce elements of the free market system into healthcare?
  • What if we could include holistic and integrative medicine with allopathic medicine?
  • What if medical costs were transparent?
  • What if we could eliminate the middle-man (aka insurance), along with the ridiculous markups?
  • What if our medical care included an integrative approach, with ESSENTIAL OILS being one of the potential modalities?
  • What if doctors could determine the “Standard of Care” for their patients, rather than the 3rd party bureaucrats?
  • What if doctors could devote more time to their patients, rather than to the endless reports and coding required for insurance billing, and the required overhead to support it?
  • What if you could significantly lower your healthcare costs, and include more preventative medicine, all while making medical care more accessible?
  • What if there were a way for consumers to have easier and faster access to doctors they trust?

Well, there is, my friends. A change is coming. It’s already here.

dōTERRA has a vision to lower healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes, by integrating essential oils into the healthcare system. It’s already happening, ya’ll. The first clinic will open in Salt Lake City, Utah!

You can vote for a clinic in your city by going to healthcare.doterra.com. The website is already live.  Several partner clinic locations are underway and thousands of affiliate clinics will be made possible, by YOU asking. I’ve asked, and I can’t wait for this clinic to come to Greensboro.

What a breakthrough revolution this will be! I literally shed a tear as the information was being presented to me. To be a part of a movement so powerful at a time when there are literally millions of other people also fired up to share the message. I’ve personally watched people make small shifts in their lives, just in the last couple of months since being exposed to these beautiful oils (and products). I imagine a global revolution and it feels so damn good to be a part of it.

Our current healthcare system is broken, and it needs to be revisited. Think about it…

When do you go to the doctor?

When do you take medicine?

When do you go to the emergency room?

When something is WRONG? Right?!

So, what if we said that healthcare should start when there is something RIGHT with us? In our WHOLE BODY and MIND..?

I know what you may be thinking. A doctor’s office where they sell essential oils???

Nope. You’ll just get the doctor. And he/she may prescribe you to use the oils, but he will refer you to a Wellness Advocate, or to your own stash if you’ve already seen the light and made the jump to natural wellness. Maybe you just need him to tell you what oils to use because Pinterest isn’t cutting it. But the most liberating part of all,you will have an option other than a Z-Pack. And you won’t need to pay a co-pay, because there won’t be any insurance to file.

The life expectancy rate for people born in the United States has declined for the first time since the 1990s. That means, all of the sudden, the age at which we are predicted to die, is less than it used to be. Isn’t there something terribly wrong with this?…

70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.

Of all babies born in 2015, 1 in 3 have a high probability of being diabetic later in life.

Of all the countries in the world, we are ranked 37th in overall healthcare system “performance”.

People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. People are waking up to their options. 

This collaboration between doctor and patients helps provide a better understanding of essential oils and how they work, integrates with modern medicine when needed (however its not unusual for the medicine to be phased out completely once the essential oil is introduced), and partners healthcare with other Wellness Advocates, just like me. Just like YOU.

Our voices have been heard. And to think it all likely started at Vanderbilt University when a nurse asked a restless patient if she could apply a drop of lavender to the bottom of his foot before surgery to calm him. He said yes, and so she did. That was the start of it for Vanderbilt, and they began studies that focused on stress in the workplace. Diffusing citrus oils significantly reduced the stress and anxiety of the nurses and led to less-stressed patients.

Patient blood pressure rates started to decrease. Linalool, found in high quantities in citrus oils, has been proven effective for reducing stress, likely due to lowering cortisol levels in the body.

Chief Nursing Officer at Vanderbilt University, Robin Steaban: “I think we have enough evidence. I think it’s time to take the steps toward changing our practice.” Now, the nurses at Vanderbilt are committed to diffusing at every nurses station. It made that significant of an impact on them, and their patients.

SO MUCH research has been done. And continues to be done.  So much collaboration is taking place. In fact, for the first time in history, just a couple of weeks ago, medical professionals from around the world teamed up with essential oil researchers, botanists and scientists alike for the first annual Essential Oil Medical Symposium.

And, not to mention, the newly-formed Aromatic Plant Research Center, located in none other than Winston-Salem (our back yard!). This will be yet another way for scientists and doctors from around the globe to get together, intentionally, to dig deeper into research. Adulterated essential oils are a big problem, unfortunately. Since not all essential oils are created equally, we need organizations like this one to be a light for accountability and purity.

I learned SO MUCH about how our Frankincense is sourced in Somaliland. It now makes sense to me why it’s a more expensive oil. For one, the resin is found in a tree that can only grow within an ecosystem and can’t grow alone. It needs other trees and vegetation to thrive. If it’s overharvested, it causes damage to the tree, compromising the future reproduction of the tree within the ecosystem.

I learned how farmers in decades past worked with oil “middle men” who offered substandard wages for their product. They felt so much pressure to produce mass quantities of resin and worried little about the quality of the tree they left behind for future harvests. It was the only way they’d ever known. Until dōTERRA swooped in and cut out the middle man. Upped the wages for the farmers significantly. Started to notice holes in their communities and began to rebuild their lives in unimaginable ways.

Clan elders became unified, for the first time in history. Sustainability improved, as did prosperity. Which is why dōTERRA  continues to source the most coveted, unadulterated and pure Frankincense oil the world of essential oils has ever seen.

dōTERRA is a heart-centric company.  That became evident this week. And you won’t find an oil more pure. (Try me. I will send a sample of your choice out tomorrow if you don’t believe me.)

Which leads me to…THESE NEW PRODUCTS!

Can I just say, that in effort to fit everything into my suitcase, I made the (seemingly smart) decision to unpack all of my beautiful convention kit items from my beautiful convention kit box. Had I kept said box, I would have taken a picture of everything for you. But instead, I tucked each of the items away in my suitcase.

Since we’re boxless, here is a quick snapshot of all my new goodies: As you can see, they haven’t gotten very far out of arms reach since I unpacked them…I am in love with these oils!

Even my sweet hubby this morning, who has never asked for oils first thing in the morning, asked for the Rose oil this morning. He woke up yesterday with what appears to be a spider/insect bite of some sort. It was my first thought to grab Rose when he told me about it. Incredible immune support, natural way to reduce inflammation and since it supports healthy, rejuvenated nerves, it can boost them up to an inch per month inside the body! He reported minimal itching and discomfort throughout the day, so it helped him for sure. Not to mention, this powerhouse mother of oils gives the kiddos a great boost in learning ability if applied first thing in the morning before school! Sadler especially enjoyed having Rose oil applied to the back of her neck in her Beauty and the Beast shirt today. And I have definitely found the winner of MY FAVORITE SMELLING OIL. Y’all. Goodness gracious, this Rose oik smells so beautiful. The whole family has legit fallen in love with it!

dōTERRA has sourced Rose oil for a while now, but normally only offered it as a special product. To know that it’s permanent as a 10 mL Touch roller is just too much to handle.

By the way, it takes about 8,000 roses to make a single 5 mL bottle of Rose oil. Because there is so much plant material required to distill a pure, therapeutic grade essential oil from these delicate petals, its naturally a pricier oil. Now I see why it’s dubbed “The Queen of Oils”. It even smells regal.

In the floral family, we also added Jasmine and Neroli. (These three touch rollers will become the Queen Bs for sure). The precious Neroli petal has been used as headpiece adornments on wedding days for centuries around the world, particularly in Egypt. Neroli oil stimulates GABA, and decreases excitatory brain signals. It reduces cortisol, which in turn reduces stress. And anxiety. I was happy to learn that this particular oil can be (and is recommended) during late stages of pregnancy to improve hormones, and even help with feelings of intimacy. Cell death is encouraged with the use of this essential oil, and did I mention it smells much different than rose? Pleasant smell, yes. But not rose, at all.

Jasmine, on the other hand. I can’t seem to get enough of this one. Emotionally, it associates with feeling liberated and FREE. Euphoria. Splendor. Joy. It’s been known to promote healthy blood pressure levels, likely due to presence of Limonene. And, like Neroli, it’s safe and recommended during labor. Soft massages promote relaxation during times of PMS and labor pains.  I cannot wait to try out both on some new mamas in the future! I start doula certification with The Labor Ladies in October and couldn’t be happier about it!

Oh, and in case you don’t know (I didn’t know)…1 drop of an essential oil affects 6.1 million molecules within your cells. Your entire body can be effected within a matter of  minutes if you use just a single drop of oil.

Diluting them is actual better than just applying more drops. Less is more with these oils. And a little definitely goes a long way. Diluting the essential oil with a medium sized carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil (either blended or layered) helps trap the volatile compounds, which minimize evaporation and enhance the penetration into the skin’s surface. Using your oils this way will give you a slower absorption rate overall, but the end result will be more effective.

Sorry, I digress…back to new oils.

Copaiba. Pronounced co-pie-EE-ba. And a unique oil it is. In the family of cannibinoids, this oil is effective because of it’s high level of beta-caryophyllene (BCP). It packs about 60% BCP, compared to just 21% in Black Pepper oil. So, what does that mean exactly?

Our Endocannabinoid System in our body is home to CB1 receptors (concentrated in the brain and central nervous system) and CB2 receptors (concentrated in the immune and endocrine systems).

Plants provide us with 3 different types of cannibinoids:

CannaBidiol, or CBD oil as you may have heard it called. It doesn’t directly impact either receptor.

TetraHydroCannabinol, or THC. Obviously poses a legal challenge as cannabis is currently illegal in many states. It does directly impact both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, thus giving a “high” sensation to both the mind and body. THC offers incredible therapeutic benefits to the whole body and has been used as medicine for centuries.

BetaCaryoPhyllene, or BCP, however…it directly impacts CB2 receptors, but does not interact with the CB1 receptors. Therefore, the body gains full therapeutic benefit but the mind remains unaffected. So, all of the same benefits from other cannibinoids, minus the hallucinogenic effect.

It will offer incredible support to the liver, as its a great antioxidant for the body. Cardiovascular health will be supported, as will the digestive system, respiratory system and immune system. Heavy, heavy hitter for sure.

This oil will become popular very quickly I think. I’ve already used it by adding a few drops to my water, and even to my coffee. Very calming to the body and has helped me relax and stay calm. The last few days have been recovery days for sure. Back in the saddle of life, adjusting to the new normal of life with a Kindergartener. I actually added a drop to her water bottle today…shhh! If I tell her, she won’t drink it!

Next up is Blue Tansy. And yes, it stains your hand when you use it. So I recommend diluting. It will eventually evaporate off if you don’t dilute (I’ve  used it at least 3 times already and been fine). But, it offers a very nice warming sensation similar to White Fir. I can see it pairing up well with Lemongrass in a roller for pain after exercise.

Aromatically, this one will be great to diffuse to uplift the mood. For the skin, combine it with Cedarwood or Frankincense to get a little more vitality in your face and neck.

The On Guard sanitizer spray is nice, and I’ve already used it on the kids and on my yoga mat. I’ve been making a version of this myself for a year or so now, it’s nice to see one available for less than $7.

And last, but most certainly not least in the world of all things certain…THE YOGA COLLECTION.

“The body achieves what the mind believes.”

Three NEW blends, each designed with the yogi in mind.

Anchor, The Grounding Blend: Lavender, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Cinnamon, Sandalwood, Black Pepper, Patchouli, FCO. I applied to the bottom of my skull at the back of my neck, and behind my ears in the soft spot under the lobe.

Align, The Centering Blend: Bergamot, Coriander, Margoram, Peppermint, Geranium, BAsil, Rose, Jasmine, FCO. I applied this one directly over my heart.

Arise, The Uplifting Blend. MY FAVORITE. Lemon, Grapefruit, Siberian Fir, Osmanthus, Melissa, FCO. I’ve been diffusing this one on my necklace, and before yoga I applied it to the center of my forehead.

These three blends are each powerful and speak to me in their own way. I cannot wait to use them daily for meditation and my yoga practice. And to share them with others!

One of my favorite takeaways from convention comes from dōTERRA founding executive Emily Wright:

Man cannot improve upon what nature creates so beautifully.

If you didn’t know, dōTERRA means “gift of the Earth”. Let me show you how precious these gifts really are. It would be my honor to help you start your journey. There is much to be gained from starting a journey with dōTERRA: health and wellness improvements in a natural and holistic way, much gentler than what we’ve been accustomed to in the past; financial freedom, simply by sharing these gifts with those you love; empowerment through education and resources.

Your mind, body and spirit will thank you for taking a first step.

 

Balance.

Day four of Kindergarten is in the books. Sadler couldn’t be happier right now in these moments of her life.

 I’ve had all the feels this week about this whole starting school thing.

Filling out the form, using only 5 words to describe my only 5-year-old…my baby. I had never truly thought of words to describe her before. Just last week as we rode in the car, Reid and I gave our input on who we saw our daughter to be; I was filling in her name, and her strengths and weaknesses, and her “hot buttons”. It was heartwarming to come up with the best five words that we thought described our girl, together: STRONG-WILLED, KIND, TENDERHEARTED, LEADER, INTELLIGENT.

As I wrote the words in the paper, I began to cry. Who were we talking about here? Sadler, or me?

It’s so hard as a parent (at least for me at this place in my journey) when you see things in your children, qualities about them, similarities in their behavior, predictability in how they’ll answer questions…and you feel like you’re looking in the mirror.

I’ve coming to learn and accept that I am my own best teacher, but this little girl runs a real tight second. She teaches me things about myself, and I try to teach her things about herself because I just know how she sees life. Sometimes it’s as if we share the same eyes.

She speaks my language. She gets me and I get her. I feel so incredibly lucky that she is mine. 

But I want her to find her way in her way. I don’t ever want to be a tug of influence, but rather a beam of guidance that just leads her there, on her own.

She’s a 1. I’m a 1, too. 

So I know for her, it can seem like we are the only ones with the only way. Our hearts are protected yet open, and our ideas are bigger than us it seems. Yet we know we can always push harder. 

It’s been a struggle this week. Finding balance between being a good stay-at-home-mom and a servant leader/CEO to my newly-blossoming essential oil business. Can’t I do both?

Time-blocking. When I have (let’s be real, when I make) the time to actually block the time. It happens sometimes. We’ll call it 50 percent.

Meditating (actually just discovered Light Sourcing by Rebecca Campbell in her INCREDIBLE BOOK, “Light is the New Black”). My mornings have become my favorite time of the day for more reasons than this one. 

Hot yoga when I have someone to watch the girls (aka – when Reid gets home from work or really early on Saturday mornings). I’d go every single day if it were possible. It’s my sanctuary. 

  Lots of oils. I love and find comfort in knowing than whenever things get heavy, I can count on my oils for safety and solace. They usually change the game for me so profoundly that I’m moved to tell someone or make a Facebook live video about my experience. 

Affirmations. Written on a whiteboard, to be repeated each morning. Out loud. Because I know the power of the spoken word. 

Lots of deep personal development through books. Mindset transformations about money and budgeting.  Journaling.

I’m doing so many of the things. I’ve created so many positive habits. Yet, I still find myself feeling out of balance. 

Unsteady. Ungrounded. 

Flailing. 

I’m learning to soften into who I am. We all need to. 

I’m so worried about getting it all done that I can’t lose sight of what I’m doing it all for. 

I’ve prayed for answers for quite some time now. Shortly after (and sometimes during), I look up to see a squirrel balancing along the power line right in front of me. It’s like he comes out of thin air. I see that as God telling me to keep my footing, just one in front of the other. Slow and steady. 

Because as the old Chinese proverb goes, “Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still.”

Why Yoga is Life

Today was hard. This week has been hard. This month has been hard.

Life has seemed hard.

I will be the first to admit, unabashedly so, that being a stay-at-home mom is HARD.

It is everything more than I ever imagined it could be, and nothing like I imagined it would be.

I’m waking up earlier today than I ever have before — intentionally. And it feels like Christmas  morning, every day. I cherish my time, my space, my quiet, my stillness. I need that time.

I’ve been going to Revolution Hot Yoga since the last day of my maternity leave with Everly. I’ve never stayed so consistently loyal to a place like this, and have felt comfortable in my own skin inside those walls since my very first visit.

Anytime life gets really hard, I want to practice hot yoga. I crave it.

I’ve become addicted to the heat and the sweat and the release. It’s an hour of space amidst the chaos of life where I truly let go, something I don’t do in real life much at all it seems.

My body has become supple. It has become strong. I feel beautiful.

Tonight’s class was the best, most intimate and sacred class I have ever had. Hands down, in all of the yoga practice I’ve had in all of my years, tonight was bigger.

Rebecca felt us. Not just me, she felt us.

She felt all the junk we were carrying, and the loads we beared, as we all walked through the doors with smiles on our faces and all pretended to be okay.

She brought an awareness to the room of all the color, and talked us through releasing energy and letting go. She talked real talk, but in the most beautifully woven song of words that forced us not to force, but to really let go.

For the first time ever in my practice, sweat came out of my eyeballs. It felt peaceful, and literally washed away some of the weight I brought in with me.

“Find your tribe, lightly. Follow your heart, lightly. Let your voice be heard, lightly.”

Eyes closed. Music soft. The room was still as she guided us.

Deep breaths in…deep breaths out.

Yoga is breathing.

Breathing is life.

Yoga is life.

photo credit: scullyfit.com
I’m so thankful that yoga has led me to meditation. (I read somewhere recently that meditation may truly be more effective than medication. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least.)

I truly believe, that our mind and body and spirit, they are all ONE. They are all connected, and they are affected by each other, and they move through one other.

We impose limitations on ourselves in life based on our past experiences, fears, self-doubt and judgments of others. These limitations keep us from being our best. They keep us in boxes, under the bed. They dim our lights, and feed our ego.

Yoga is my way of releasing those limitations, even if for just sixty minutes; but for those sixty minutes, I feel myself being gentle with myself. And I trust my body. And I don’t care what anyone thinks about how I look in my pose or how deep my stretch is.

I go inward. 

As the within, so the without, right? What lies inside is what lives outside. The answers aren’t out in the material world; for the best teacher we have is our self. Look in the mirror, you’ll see.

I’m no master, but self-discovery is tasty. Life’s color is brighter when you take a little time to be still. I know I have so many more layers to peel.

I turn 36 in January and have decided that I want to go on a yoga retreat for my birthday. A long weekend of peace, tranquility, stillness and lots of yoga is just what I want most as I enter a new year of life.

I am open to suggestions of places to visit, do you have a favorite?

 

And So It Is

I’ve debated deleting my Facebook account. It’s too painful.

You think that sounds silly. Roll eyes. Think to yourself, get over it Candice. 

But that’s just the thing, I can’t help it. I feel EVERYTHING.

I feel it when people talk nasty to one another. I feel it when people bash the President (any of them). I feel it when people take jabs at each other over differing views about racism or politics or what color a dress is.

When I am in the presence of others, I feel things, too.

I feel when people are sad. I feel when people are embarrassed. I feel when people are angry.

I recently saw a lady belly dancing at the park in front of hundreds of people, many who were making fun of her. I could feel her joy and passion as she danced, and it made me cry (looking back, it was a bizarre experience because my tears came out of nowhere).

I feel when people are lying to me, and that’s one of the toughest to withstand. Having someone you genuinely care for tell a flat out lie to your face, and you just know that they are lying, because you just know…well, it sucks.

This shift has brought some people on my path closer to my heart, and into my life with deeper meaning. It has also repelled several people in my life away from me. They don’t think I can tell, but I can feel it, too.

Being able to feel  everything isn’t anything new to me. I just didn’t know what it was before. I chalked it up as tingly legs, or a lump in my throat, or a migraine. I’d reach for medicine or take a warm bath or go home from work, because I felt physically ill.

My throat has a lump right this very second, and I’m sure it’s because my ego is trying to tell my brain to tell my hands to stop typing. Stop telling these things about myself, so as to not risk the ridicule from those who lack the ability to understand. Don’t risk putting yourself out there on the internet for the world to see and talk about you behind your back.c288cb1769375e3fa6264d51f15a902b

You see, I don’t write things like this for recognition or for likes. It’s truly none of my business what anyone thinks about my writing. Don’t mishear me, I am eternally grateful for the unexpected following I’ve gained, and for the overwhelming gratitude I’ve received from so many of you who read my story. It’s a deep honor to be a part of the space in your day.

Writing is my calling. I have enjoyed writing since I was a small child, and it has been a part of me all throughout my life.

Even down to the name of this website, every part of this blog has been driven by my inner voice, or intuition, or the Holy Spirit. Each time I’ve sat down to type, it’s been in response to something that’s moved inside of me. Something I’ve prayed about and waited to hear an answer to. Lots of times, something bubbles up and the urge to write is powerful! Urges that I don’t question, because they feel 100% energetically aligned with where I am that day. I have to usually stop whatever I’m doing to get my words out.

I truly believe that there is a worldwide shift taking place right this very minute, and people around the world are learning about themselves what I’ve learned about myself. This month marks a year since I “woke up”. And since then, the rest has happened rapidly. I’m still peeling back layers of self-discovery.

And I have been called to tell my story.

To make sure that if there is even one lonely soul out there who feels that something in life is maybe just a touch off kilter, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. There are so many of us out there, and I believe we are called to shine our light bright into the world so that we may light up the path for others. For those who cannot yet see.

In all of my life, I have never felt so sure of who I am as an individual. My body has never been so supple and so strong. I am whole, in mind and body and spirit. Because it’s all ONE. And we are all ONE.

Here is an interesting thought to ponder. Look at these two words:

Is it ALONE?

Or ALLONE?

What if we’ve become so programmed and brainwashed and fear-mongered that we’ve lost our sense of ONENESS along the way?

We are all one. We are all energy, and all flow through the universe.

I used to hear “energy” and think only about physical movement. If someone was “high energy” they were just hyper. Couldn’t sit still.

In reality, high energy means high vibrations – GOOD VIBES. Low energy, or low vibrations are typically not good vibes (not for me, at least). Every person and thing on this planet is made of energy and we “vibe” with frequencies that are similar to our own. Hence, the icky feeling you get when certain people come around, and the amazing sense of still waters you get when you certain others come around. Your vibration won’t lie to you.

There are days in which I question the process, but I’m learning that questioning things is part of the process. Gone are they days where we can walk blindly through life with our heads in the sand. We should be questioning everything.

Thinking for ourselves. Loving FIERCELY. Forgiving quickly.

It’s what’s lies inside each of us that we are looking for. We are the teacher, and the best one at that.

I am thankful for my yoga practice, as it keeps me reminded of the importance of just breathing. I notice my breathing throughout the day in a satisfying way that fills my soul with joy. To know that my practice is seeping into my daily life reminds me that I’m on the right path. I will forever be grateful for the art of yoga and for the amazing instructors I am guided by. Yoga is life for me, because it’s taught me how to meditate and how to be still.

Being still lets me listen. Not only to those around me, but to my body. And my mind. And to the Holy Spirit when it speaks to me.

Let us hear the callings of our soul.

Let us LOVE.

Let us be ALL ONE.

And let us fly high, lifting one another up with grace and courage.

This is my story. May yours be written, too. Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amen. Namaste.

img_1134-1I grew up in church. It was a Southern Baptist church; the pews were wooden with fabric cushion. The hymnals were blue, and they were sporadically placed along the backs of each pew in attached wooden shelves. There were little pencils in little holes next to bigger little holes that were there to hold your communion cup. There were cards for first-time guests to fill out, and there were envelopes for tithing.

Church was a place we just automatically went. My great-grandparents and/or grandparents generally took me along with them on Wednesday nights. First we would go eat at either K&W or the O’Henry Grill, and then I would go to the Youth service while they went in “big church”. I remember being shy in youth group because I was so little in comparison to the “big” kids.

I remember years before that attending Vacation Bible School and making crafts out of popsicle sticks and coloring pictures with Bible verses written on them. I remember being in a play as a 7-year-old and thinking I was the coolest kid on the planet because I was acting. I remember around this same time, singing a solo on Sunday morning and being terrified when the time came in the music for me to start, and instead of singing I ran straight off the stage and into my cousin Sissy’s lap as tears rolled down my cheeks. I remember lots of softball games on Friday nights watching my dad play. I remember covered dish lunches in the Fellowship Hall and that I always had to find what Mama Dot or Granny brought because I knew it was likely one of my favorites. I remember laying across Mama Dot’s lap during the church sermon and getting some of the best back scratches the world’s ever known. I remember being baptized by Pastor Bud and even remember what I wore that day.

I have lots of memories of church growing up, but none of them really include much about God. As I grew into an adult, I drifted away from the familiar place church offered me and my family. I found myself choosing sleep over sermons on Sunday mornings, often to nurse a hangover or just catch up from being exhausted. People in the church “family” started to ask questions. Gossip set in. My parents (finally) divorced. My life fell apart… and church didn’t make the cut for what was important to me at that time.

As I went off to college, not much changed. I made good grades, held sometimes two jobs at a time while taking a full-load of courses at NC State. I made some great friends – some of whom are my very dearest friends today – but church and God wasn’t something that was talked about much in my circle of friends. If it was, I don’t remember. Which only tells me it wasn’t impactful if it did indeed happen.

Almost a year to the day after I graduated from college in December 2006, I went on the first date with my husband. We had known each other since 1994 but never dated throughout high school. Our first date turned into moving in together, which turned into engagement and marriage and 2 beautiful daughters. But at first, church wasn’t something we did together. It wasn’t something we did apart. It wasn’t anything that we even talked about — at first.

We would go to church with my grandparents for the Easter service once in a while, and I recall attending his niece’s christening about 7 years ago. But we didn’t have a church that we attended regularly and we didn’t spend a great deal of time talking about our plans to change that. We were content in our lives with what we had and what we were doing and who we spent our time with. We didn’t pray. We didn’t talk about God. We just lived our lives.

It wasn’t until this past Fall that I made the connection. I decided to read a book called The Power of Now that was a turning-point in my life. This book talked about being present in each moment that we are living and breathing, and to actually pay attention to each breath that we take; it was a reminder to “stop and smell the roses” sometimes. This book was so much more for me than I can even begin to describe here… I remember not being able to put it down, and I had not read a book from start to finish in almost a decade. I remember wanting to tell everyone about it, and I tried. But I quickly learned that it was not something everyone wanted to hear. Not everyone wants to hear about a riveting self-help book that I read. Have you lost your mind, Candice? was the translation of the look on their faces when I shared it with some friends and loved ones. But that’s just the thing, I felt just the opposite: almost as if I had found my mind. Or at least myself.

I have been visiting an incredible hot yoga studio for about a year now and was able to relate to the points the author made about paying attention to your breath. Each time I would go to yoga after reading this book, I found myself channeling deeper into my awareness of my breath, and it became easier each time. I started noticing my breathing while at home sitting on the couch or cooking dinner. I started to notice when I had found my innermost feelings of peace and stillness. I noticed and embraced the quiet in my mind and in my body. I was thankful for the yoga teachers I have been led by in my practice as of late who have reminded me to just breathe.

I realized that the feeling I felt of warmth and white: that was God. And it was then that I began to connect the dots between my version of universe God and church God.  I realized that they were one in the same. I realized that the inner stillness I had found and recently tapped into was God within me. I started to literally see things differently, with more color, and with more appreciation of the beauty within everything around me. Once a lens that only reflected black and white images, I now see so much color.

Toward the end of last year, we visited a new church and my heart was open to accept everything that it had to offer. I found my inner stillness and peace and tears streamed down my face as my sweet friend poured her heart out through song on the stage. The walls were black, the lights were dark and the spirit of God was in that room. I was so moved. I was inspired to keep digging within to find God within me, and I am happy to say we’ve been back several Sunday mornings since this fist visit and not much has changed. Same tears. Same stillness and peace. Same good music that makes me cry every.single.time.

This week marks the one-year-anniversary of my return to work after maternity leave when Everly was born. Only one year ago I was in such a different place spiritually and emotionally. I couldn’t (wouldn’t) even engage in conversation with you about God. I didn’t want to. I was going through the motions to earn a paycheck and daydreamed about what life would be like in another version of it. I looked happy, but I wasn’t. I knew there was so much more to be gained but couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

Today I am happy to tell you that I fully accept that I am nothing without God. He is at work within me and I rest my case in arguing that I have a better way to do this. I am at full mercy of  letting go of fear and worry and anxiety in order to live fulfilled and am in awe of what God has planned for me. I start each day with personal time devoted to my relationship with God and appreciate the difference it has made in my life.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”      

Proverbs 3:5-6

I hope and pray that I may always be able to stay mindful of something as simple as breathing. I pray that I can teach my girls to slow down and enjoy life each day rather than being busy in the process. May you find the color in your world and see it brightly. Namaste. And, Amen.