When I grow up, I want to be a 20-something tan, blonde chick living in Aruba teaching yoga & rescuing animals, okay?? Seriously, doesn’t that sound fantastic? The author of this book meets all of that criteria!!
I discovered this bad ass Yogi through her Instagram posts. Her name is Rachel Brathen, aka – Instagram’s @yogagirl. What I love most about her is that she is full of honesty. Her Instagram posts can be quite emotional; therefore, they aren’t always pretty. She has bared her soul more than a few times to her followers. That’s what made me buy her book. That’s what this world needs more of. Raw, honest, emotion. So before I climb farther on top of my soap box, let’s talk about it…
(This cover makes me want to head on over to delta.com and book a flight to Aruba ASAP!)
While reading Yoga Girl, Rachel gives readers a deeper glimpse into her life. Openly sharing childhood tragedy, troubled teenage years, and her struggle with labels. She talks intimately about her triumphs and her failures. She shares beautiful pictures, yoga routines and even some delicious recipes!
As I stated earlier, I am a WANNABE. This chick is the real deal! No worries though, her book is written to ANYONE who gets, or wants to get, on a mat (in fact, she says so in her book dedication).
PHOTOS: Just like the book cover, the photos included within these pages are breathtaking! There are candid shots, yoga poses, and the most beautiful natural scenery! They are truly a feast for the eyes and add even more impact to the message of the book.
YOGA ROUTINES: The yoga sequences are written so that anyone can master them. They are beautifully depicted and underneath each movement is a description that when read aloud sounds just like your typical day in yoga class. “Inhale to lengthen the spine…” “Exhale to step back one foot at a time…” “Come to a standing position…” Seriously, you can just have someone read these to you while you do them and save your $15 drop-in yoga class fee for the day!
RECIPES: Rachel includes step by step instructions on how to make some of her favorites dishes! I have already tried a couple! The carrot ginger soup is YUMMO!!!! Her holistic approach to food gives you permission to enjoy eating while at the same time fueling your body with healthy nutrients!
KEEPIN’ IT REAL: I love that Rachel talks about real issues that everyone faces. Body image. Expectation. Disappointment. She is open to the fact that we are all human. We will never be perfect. We may never live up to someone else’s expectations, but she also lets the reader know, that is okay. We are all here for a purpose. We are here to live our lives in a way that produces health and happiness. We don’t have to settle for anything less.
Rachel encourages readers to shed the weights that have been holding you back. She encourages living! True living! This book is truly inspiring!!! I have read it at least three times, and each time I discover another truth to carry with me as I journey through life.
If you need a boost, a pick me up, a smile. If you are looking for direction in life. If you are searching for peace, but aren’t quite sure how to find it. This book is for you!!!!
If I don’t have a notebook beside my bed, I may as well just forget about sleep…
I suffer from multiple ailments…
Dreaming up characters, scenarios, story lines, poems.
Do I have another piece of furniture to work on? Where did I put that giant canvas? Do I still have enough paint?
Let me list 5 gazillion things that I need to get done. Do we have enough $$? How much is it going to cost to fix that car? Are the kids really ok?
Poor pitiful me. Why me? Nothing ever works out like it should. My heart aches.
…and this is just my brain at NIGHT!
Heard of “monkey mind”?
“Monkey mind” is a Buddhist term for a mind that is restless; confused; uncertain; irrepressible (a term I use to describe those times I am in desperate need an OFF switch in my brain, which happens to be quite OFTEN).
My monkey mind rarely takes a break, like everything, it’s worse during the night. I try to write down my thoughts and get them out of my head. No matter the effort, my Monkey mind brings hours of unrest. Incessant thoughts and sleep deprivation lead me right into the waiting arms of Depression and Anxiety.
When my Monkey mind is in control, chaos ensues. So…
I have to FLIP THE SWITCH myself. I have to CHOOSE the calm. Be present in my NOW. FEEL my body. Take heed of my breathing. In short, I have to leash the Monkey.
Let me be transparent, I have NOT been able to TAME the Monkey (striving for progress here folks, far from perfection). For now, my successes are when I am able to, if even for a short time, slip a leash on the Monkey. In order to sneak up on the Monkey Mind, slip that leash on and get a little peace, I meditate.
Meditation is the only time that the Monkey is silent. I started practicing meditation LONG, LONG ago (ok maybe not THAT long ago…I was 22 before I ever gave a second thought to meditation). My problem then was that I only used meditation as a last resort! When my brain felt like it was about to explode, when I thought I may need to sit in a padded room for the sake of me and everyone around me, only then would I sit with myself in silence.
Recently I discovered the power that comes with a regular meditation practice. It is still a struggle for me. I am working on it…. but that’s all we can do right? Work on it…
When I am able to keep my mind still, I am able to quiet the Depression that snarls at my soul. When my mind is quiet I am able to see that Anxiety is simply manifestation of my fears. Fears that I have allowed to take root deep in my thoughts.
“The mind is a powerful thing” …I don’t know who said it first, but I know we’ve all heard it a million times. Why is it so hard to believe that our thoughts can manifest our reality?
I do believe. I believe that the energy we release into the universe returns to us. If that is the case, it only makes sense to me that our thoughts (energies) are directly related to our reality. Wake up thinking you are going to have a crappy day…chances are you will. Wake up worrying you won’t have the money to cover the bills…. you probably won’t.
Could this be the mumbling of a crazy girl? Maybe. All I know for certain is that there are times when the Monkey runs wild and as a result I am barely able to function. I am held captive to the swirling thoughts. I am swept away in a hurricane of confusion and raw emotion. I am unable to live in the now.
When the Monkey is in control:
I worry about the future. Regret the past. Feel hopeless about the present.
When the Monkey is in control:
My mind is clouded. Sluggish.
Perhaps it is the incessant thoughts of my Monkey Mind that first introduced my ol’ friend Depression & I. I’m quite sure that they also opened the door and invited Anxiety to take up residence.
These two have been companions of mine since the age of 18. There have been times when these two and I were inseparable. There are also times that they seem to hibernate for months and I won’t hear a peep from them. So far it’s been a no go on finding ways to shake them completely. Threes company?!?
Depression and Anxiety are really shitty company to keep! They are selfish and draining, sneaky and cunning, not to mention physically painful! So many people deal with these issues, yet so many misconceptions remain.
Here are a few words for you well-meaning folk that think anxiety/depression is just an excuse to throw a pity party: Yes, I know I have SO MUCH to be thankful for! Yes, I know that the majority of things I worry about will NEVER HAPPEN. NONE of those things matter when the Monkey is in control…
So I sneak up on the Monkey. Through meditation, setting my intentions, and maintaining awareness of my thought patterns I am able to slip a leash on my Monkey mind. I choose to run my life instead of letting the Monkey run me.
I sit in silence, breathing in, breathing out. Letting my thoughts flow over me like the tide. Good thoughts come in, I let them go. Bad thoughts come in, I let them go. There is freedom in the letting go. I am learning to let go of the things that no longer serve me (much easier said than done). I am growing stronger in my confidence of who I am. I am learning that I can create the peace I need.
Need a little help getting started with your meditation practice?
I’ve been a personal trainer for 10 years now…whoa…. it’s been a minute!
Thanks to personal training I’ve had the pleasure of working with some pretty cool folks! I landed my very first personal training job working for two professional bodybuilders John DeFendis and the late Mat DuVall (…talk about an intimidating interview! These guys are HUGE!). I owe my start in the business, and a lot of knowledge about training/nutrition, to them. They gave me a foundation that to this day remains timeless. In a world of fitness fads, they taught me that new isn’t always better.
Many trainers and individuals have served as inspiration for my fitness journey. Each and every one of them pushed me to break past intimidation and reach for what I wanted out of life. There is one trainer that does happen to stand out from the rest…
I met my handsome husband, Brent, at the gym. He was a fellow trainer, just some crazy guy that tended to loiter in my office a little too long. He and I began working out together and to be honest I stole a LOT of training ideas from him (shhhh it will be our secret).
Fact is, no one has been more inspiring/encouraging to me than my hubs, Brent (note: no one has ever driven me more crazy either!). He has taught me tons in our crazy life together. He helped, still helps me, face my fears. My fears of not being good enough. My fears of being left behind. My fears of other’s opinions. He taught me it was ok to fail (in & out of the gym). He held my hand and led me to accept myself for who I was.
Enough of the sappiness…he also taught me proper form, weight-lifting technique, how to use hand wraps, the importance of having a decent spotter and a TON about eating to be lean. Brent is an old-schooler when it comes to fitness. If you wanna know how to get the best physique quickly and efficiently he’s your man! He is responsible for the fact that I am, and forever will be, a lifter at heart. I mean for real, I like the movie Pumping Iron. I blame him completely.
I have lazy days (ok, weeks). I am a real person (with real shit to deal with). I work a full time job. I am no longer able to spend hours and hours at the gym. But…
I still love all things fitness! While Brent is an old-school iron pumper. I am random. Especially in fitness! I get bored with the same ol’ routines, same ol’ classes, same ol’ results. I am constantly switching things up. I am a lover of Crossfit, Yoga, Zumba, Kickboxing, Boot Camp, Bodybuilding, Tabata, Cycling, Hiking, etc.
I have recently been slacking off in my eating and exercise routine! What a difference in how I feel. I am dragging!! I am logging off now, I have a hot date with my stairs…Look for a full body stair workout post soon!!!
I hope that by sharing my story I can inspire someone else to push past the fear! Take charge of your life! If I can do it, YOU CAN DO IT!!!!
Give me a shout out! Tell me about your fitness routines!
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (ok maybe just one state over from where I am right now) lived a chick who NEVER had ANY weight issues. She had never given THOUGHT to working out at a gym. Then the UNTHINKABLE HAPPENED!!!! The girl had kids! Her body turned into a stranger! She was overweight, unhappy, unhealthy and was clueless as to how to deal!!!
Yep, you guessed it…I’m the chick. After the birth of my third kid (I have 5 total! They all ROCK!) I got tired of being tired. You feel me?? I hated to look in the mirror. I felt worn down all the time. I had to do something, but what?!? I tried a million workout videos and just as many quick weight loss schemes. I would lose a few pounds but then put it back on. Depression, a presence I have dealt with since the age of 18, began to tighten its grip.
I was either going to fight back or give in to the darkness. I chose to fight.
I was going to DO THIS! I was going to lose the weight and be a hot mama! I headed to the local YMCA. I joined, did a short cardio session. Then I went home and didn’t return for another month! I had three young children at home to deal with. I had more important things to think of. I had places to be. I had a plethora of excuses and let me tell you, I used them!
The truth is, I was terrified of the gym. Saying I was intimidated would be an understatement! I had never even SEEN most of those machines so of course I had NO IDEA how to use them!!! There were days I put on my gym clothes, got in the car, drove to the gym. Only to sit in the parking lot for 10 minutes before deciding to turn around and go home. It took multiple times to actually step my foot in the door, but I DID IT.
I found a comfortable elliptical in the corner out of the way. That became my go-to spot at the gym. It was there that I became a cardio queen!! I was killing it on that thing!! I starting losing a little weight & I was digging the weight loss but it was not a quick process. I was growing increasingly bored in my corner spot. Lucky for me, I caught the eye of a couple trainers. These two took me under their wing & let me join in on their personal workouts. They poured knowledge out and I soaked up as much as I could!
Those two changed my life. That small act of kindness, allowing me to join their workouts, was pivotal in my life. Kindness has a tendency to produce some pretty awesome shit!
I began to LOVE the gym. It became my refuge. I could take my frustrations and fears there & leave them!! I felt great, like I could conquer anything. For the first time in my life I felt comfortable going to the gym!! GO ME!
I lost the weight I wanted to lose and then some. I went from being overweight, unhappy, defeated to being healthy weight, energetic and happy! From a size 14-16 to a size 4-6. I didn’t have to dread getting dressed!!! Wooo hoooo!!!! I wanted to pass along that kindness I had been shown, so I became a trainer myself.
Hope sharing this helps someone else! If I can do it YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!
I am an animal lover. That is putting it mildly. If I had the money, time, or space (currently I’m 0-3 in those areas) I would have a farm FULL of pets (I’m talking ANY kind of pet)!!
Let’s just be real here, my opinion is…. people are overrated and animals are where it’s at!
Fur Kid #1: JASPER
Rescued in 2011. Jasper is SUPA lazy! Most days he can be found snoozing in a basket full of blankets or sprawled in the sun. His hobbies include pushing stuff off counters, trying to eat plastic, and hunting bugs. While he does enjoy those things, you can count on him to show up as soon as there are people around. He is unstoppable in his pursuits of finding ANY hand that is willing to pet him. He also has a tendency to force himself on people, we are working on that. And, yes, he is named after a sparkly vampire, don’t judge me (I loved vampires before it was cool to love vampires…).
Fur Kid #2: DIESEL
Rescued a few months later in 2011. Diesel is the equivalent of a sloth on Ambien….a local radio host here in Atlanta made the comment that he felt his English bulldog’s blood was half Prozac…must be Diesel’s twin. The only thing he gets excited about is food, marking his territory and making sure that NO other fur kid gets more attention than him! (*Note: Diesel left us in 2018. Never thought I would say it but, boy do I miss those snores…)
Fur Kid #3: VOLTAIRE
This is my main squeeze. My baby boy. The most beautiful black cat that you will ever see. Superstitions be damned! I rock this dude like a little baby on a daily basis. Seriously, he is so rotten, and I LOVE IT. He will also let the kids carry him all over the house. The funny thing is, he is typically anti-social. He is NOT a fan of the dogs, he thinks they are unintelligent and they stink (I’m just repeating what he told me…). 90% of the time he can be found on top of the boys bunk bed where he is safe to sleep the days away without risking being annoyed by a canine.
Fur Kid #4: CIRCE KANAGAN SOLSTICE MCEWEN
So Circe is the only AKC registered dog I’ve ever owned. We typically rescue all our animals. Thanks to my love of Scooby Doo, I had hoped to own a Great Dane since I was a kid. I love BIG dogs…(and little dogs, and medium sized dogs….ok, ok, I love ALL dogs). She was my birthday present years ago. Born on Dec.14th 2014, and 8 weeks later she was inducted into the fam. She is ALL puppy STILLLLLLL!!! We are patiently waiting for this stage to be over. So far she’s eaten: an entire door frame, a window sill, bed posts, 1002 toys, multiple pairs of shoes, half of a 2×4, at least 2 lawn chairs….ok so you get the idea. In spite of her current chewing obsession, she is an awesome girl. She LOVES attention, HATES to be alone, and is SCARED of EVERYTHING! Thus far we have be unable to convince her that she is not a Chihuahua, but we love it!
These faces keep me going. Without them I am positive I wouldn’t be around today. They have saved me in more ways than one. I am eternally grateful for each of them.
The eldest of the 5, this chick right here is AMAZING! She’s a brilliant student who also happens to rock at b-ball, dancing (one of my goals in life used to be to beat her at Just Dance, ha! I’ve long given up that dream), singing, drawing, and being random. She is fun and hilarious. Kaylyn’s smile lights up a room! I can’t wait to see where life will take her next. She is unstoppable.
The odd man out. A red-head with four blonde siblings. My only lefty. He is super athletic and super opinionated! Wyatt’s always had MORE than enough personality. He is the one you gotta keep an eye on! He’s the spunky one of the bunch. Always has something to say!! Just call him Mr. Personality oh, and Mr. Football at the moment…
Owen is one of the most caring, sensitive kids ever. Always concerned if someone is left out and also serves as “protector” for the younger two. He’s always willing to help out. He is an early riser, a thinker, an old soul. Owen wants to be a MLB player…go ahead man!! We are still working on goals that are non-professional athlete related…
Trinity is still convinced that the Princess Sophia cartoon on Disney is about her (pretty sure I told her that when she was smaller…). It may as well be. She is a princess through and through. We are trying to convince her that we are mere town folk and unable to support her royal ways, as we are fresh out of butlers and chauffeurs!! Trinity loves to dance and play Minecraft.
An aspiring ballerina (she’s a ballet school drop out), gymnast, artist, professional gamer…honestly her interests change daily.
The baby of the bunch. Tarzan himself. Trinity couldn’t pronouce Phoenix for a long time so until about a year or two ago, he was still forced to answer to “Meesix” on the reg. This dude could be mistaken for a kid raised by wolves. He is in a constant state of undress. He is candid and full of crazy (mostly made-up) stories. He is the actor of the group. I need to sign him up for acting classes and profit from some of this craziness! Ha! Phoenix is a mini-Brent. He looks and acts WAY too much like his dad most of the time! From his freckled face to his picky eating habits he is Brent made over! He keeps us hopping! Never a dull moment with him!
These are the people I share my home with…but that’s not all!!! We have fur kids too! Check them out!