Find Balance Feel Joy Blog Tour


My friend Alex asked me to participate in this blog tour and my answer was ” HELL YES!” I love having Alex in my life as we share so many interests and are raising are kids in the same neighborhood, co- teaching together and just generally support one another in the work we do to support families through the good and the bad.

And this topic means SO MUCH TO ME.

As someone who formerly struggled with overwhelm and the “crazy-busy” syndrome I am passionate about spreading the self care, mama love message to all who are ready to make the changes. It all starts with us.

Without guilt, without fear, without despair.

We can build lives that matter for ourselves, for our own joy and on our own terms.

You have permission.

The Find Balance Feel Joy Blog Tour was born to provide an honest look at what goes into “having it all” or “getting it right” as a modern mother today.

My journey begins and ends with yoga.  Yoga has led me to interesting cool places in my heart and on the map. Yoga teachers and teachings have given me strength, courage and confidence to FULLY EMBRACE my own me, my own way, my own heart.

Slow, quiet practice filled with breath and movement linked to soul- now THAT can change your life.

This journey of study, contemplation, reflection and movement is a powerful combination. It led me HOME to my true self, to my own way of being that encouraged  me to switch careers, take risks and LOVE my children in ways I did not even know possible.

But, all b/c I began to put myself at the top of the list. Listening to my own heart and soul.

Carving out time for creativity, rest and quiet. saying NO to the schedules and parties and needs and desires of others, in order to put my family TRULY first.

You can do your own thing, find your own way… but it takes a bit of practice.

Self awareness, self knowledge is the path to freedom. A path to joy and living WHOLE in a world that so often wants to break you down.  You see, there is a deeper place within- that lives- that wants to be heard. But we have to slow down enough to hear her.

Welcome to sacred ordinary life. A life in which dishes and laundry still have to be done alongside a deep respect for our home, our families and our lives. It looks like  candles in the kitchen, relaxing music playing while cooking dinner or bringing other rituals and routines into our lives and SHARING them with our children. It looks like having enough space and peace in our own heart to deal with the chaos around.

It looks like getting the help we need at home and at work, in order to truly discover who we are , and where our own joy lies.  This is where

Approaching ALL the moments with a sense of wonder and curiosity – even to the little things. This approach ( to our yoga practice and to our life) can profoundly shift the mindset… the choices we make, the space we hold. And helps us to see the thought patterns that are not serving us.. the ones we need to let go of.

Intentionally place yoga mats, meditation pillows and other reminders in your home so that you can practice together as a family OR so that you have a place to go to when you need it! ( I sometimes go to my mat RIGHT before they get home from school to give myself some nourishment right before the dinner/ bedtime rush) and then I find myself so much more patient and loving and interested when they walk in the door.

Read inspiring books or listen to podcasts about yoga, meditation, mindfulness and creating joy.

I always try to find women who are doing what I want to do and asking- WHAT DO YOU READ? What are your routines? What can I learn from you?  I KNOW there are mentors and supporters out there- so I seek them out- and ask lots of questions so I can learn how to do this whole mama/ life/ work/ balance thing. This also helps me discern for my own life what works and what doesn’t.. and clarify my own values and mission ( which I am constantly refining)

Glance at your life ( ZOOM OUT) and see what parts are causing stress. Is there anything you can DO about it?  if not, what other things need to be released in order to make time for YOU while you continue to have uncontrollable stress? let’s have a healthy relationship with our stress- not trying to FIGHT it or get rid of it- but more realizing it’s apart of our modern life.

Challenge Homework! Spend a day with yourself. Plan it now. Put on the calendar. Carve out the time to take yourself out on a date. Reflect and get quiet. meditate and stretch. journal and create or just be. no tv, no phone, no netflix.

Dear mama, it’s all so real this life thing….so intense, so emotional, so transitional and the only thing we can truly, truly control is our own breath right at this moment. Our own glance, gaze, word, thought or action.

With a grateful heart,


About Alex

Alex launched In Essence Coaching, LLC in 2011 after training with the International Coaching Academy to become a Certified Professional Coach. She is an active member of the International Coaching Federation, committed to upholding a high level of coaching standard.

Prior to this, Alexandra dedicated 18 years of her professional career to social change as an international development researcher and practitioner. She got her BA in Environmental Studies from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada and her MPhil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in the U.K. She’s lived and worked in Africa, Europe, South and North America, and speaks English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

In Essence Coaching, LLC is Alexandra’s private coaching practice dedicated to helping mothers suffering from stress, to find balance, joy and self-empowerment.  She hosts a free Clear Mind | Present Mama Challengefor busy mothers suffering from overwhelm, offers on-line Calm Mom Coaching Circles to mothers everywhere, and works one-on-one with a small group of women through her Mama inJOY Mentorship Program.

Alexandra loves her coaching projects second only to her three mischievous and vivacious children and her loving (ever patient) husband who now (after three international moves!!) live, love and laugh together in Washington D.C.


Don’t miss the Mom’s Up Retreat this fall co-hosted by Alex and myself in Meadowkirk, Virginia (just 1 hour away from DC). Learn more about the retreat, accommodation packages, and more.


Whole Body Breathing

I have a lot of people in my life ( clients , students, friends) processing a number of BIG emotions right now.  Here is a simple practice you can do daily to help move emotions through the body. This also helps calm the system and relax the body and mind.

I find this very helpful when I have big emotions and I’m embracing them.

Breathe in through the souls of the feet- up the legs, pelvis, belly, torso, throat, head- breathing in through the top of the head

AS you exhale draw that breath down the head, throat, chest, belly, pelvis, legs and back out the souls of the feet.

Repeat using nice long deep smooth breaths for 3-5 minutes. Feel your whole body breathe.

I like to use open mouth exhale from time to time- especially if my jaw is super tight.

Here is a video of Saylor doing the relaxation this morning. ENJOY!

the light

as the light went out,

the heart got warm.

when someone reaches out and says,” I love you. thank you.” and you want to jump across the screen and hug them, love them, hold them.

we often speed by in our life, never pausing to say, “You matter.”

But then, something happens and times stops.

Emotions swell and the rain falls. But for now, I see you.

I see it all. I can feel it in my bones, in my shoulders. in all my achy parts.

This life thing. The beauty, the pain, the joys and the heartbreaking sorrows.

Moms losing babies. Babies losing mamas.

Eventually, it will warm up. the insides and the outsides will return..

“to normal?”

what does that mean? I have been forever loved by you.

I have known love b/c of you.

I have felt seen & heard & known and alive in with you.

So what happens when you are gone?

You are with me. And I am with you.

when the night falls, the tears came and the show was over.

“move on. you did good.” the soul whispered.

“it’s time” she held my hand. she squeezed me tight, and when she let go.. I was stronger.

My eyes and heart swell with love and tears and gratitude for what WAS.

But everything comes to an end. EVERY. THING. The embrace of this helps ease the pain.

So much is different now.

And towards the light we gather… braver. clearer. wiser.

Until we meet again, remembering what was. The feeling lives in my breath. in my body. in my heart. in my prayers is there when I slow down to feel it. when I remember to remember it. when I know it’s where I grew up. when she was born and in light she lives.

when we choose love. img_9257

Nataraja- the KING of Dancers, lord Shiva.

creation and dissolution

light and dark

death and birth



And ya know- POTENTIAL in all of us, at any time.



A girl can dream…

One of the principles of Thrive, my online wellness class is journaling. In the class I go into details around many types of journaling that has been effective and helpful in my life.

Today I want to write about scripting or dreaming. So, open your mind here. Try not to resist. This type of journaling is just imagining you are ahead of yourself looking back at where you are now or were. For example, I just wrote an entry set 10 years from now. I wrote about Saylor being 18 (!) and Milo being 15. I wrote about what our life is like and I wrote about the fact that it has been 10 years since the studio closed. I wrote about my strong marriage and I felt all the feelings that came up with adding another 10 years to our current 18 years together and it blows my mind.

I LOVE this type of journaling and have done it many times over the years at different periods in my life. 

Why do this? everytime I do this, I leqrn something about myself- my future and my dreams. I find compassion for myself and It helps me REALLY drop into gratitude for what is real and live now- and to help me get through tough times also…helps keep my perspective healthy. 

How to start 

1. get a journal you will only use for scripting…. planning ahead.. dreaming.

2. in this journal YOU design your life. as you want it. 6 weeks from now, 6 months from now, 6 years from now! You pick.

3. Be specific. This helps the dreams come to life! 

4. Do this 3 times a week to start and then allow yourself flexibility 2-4x depending on how committed you are.

Please note- if you write about something and it actually does not feel good or like something you really want to happen- just let it go. If you write about something and you realize- WHOA! I Want that in my life! then write IN detail about that aspect as specifically and often as possible. It also helps get those dreams coming to life.

You can write about things you want to have, relationships you want to heal, or ways you want to grow your biz or your career. 

questions? email me 

I would LOVE to hear what is coming up for you!

Biz Update

Hi all- here is a quick update on lil omm.

I am SO thrilled to see all the parts coming together.

I love creating the content and connections for the future of lil omm..

stay tuned.

I am holding CLARITY CALLS for anyone who wants to jump on the phone and

talk about what’s coming up for them..what problems or challenges are you facing

and what topics we should make sure to include in our programs…email me to get an application for a call.

MOST of our wonderful and beloved workshops and classes CAME FROM student conversations around what they need and how I can help with practical daily tools for well being ( FIRST for care-giver, THEN for rest of family..)

Like I always say.. when MOM is happy, EVERYONE is happy. images

Watch the video to learn MY commitment for the next few months.


Her Strength, an opening.

I recently asked our community for some words or thoughts about their word of the year for 2016. I wanted to see how people were using their WOTY in daily life.. I want our community voices heard in our newsletters and blogs, the honest truth telling from our lives. the GOOD STUFF and the HARD STUFF- I truly believe through storytelling and sharing ourselves, we heal, we help, we hold each other.

A few years ago, I met Michelle and thought she was funny and smart and thoughtful. I have really had a chance to get to know her over the past few years and I am grateful she is in my life. She is open to learning new things, and while she ( like we all do) experiences hard things.. she is also incredibly open and honest and trying HER best to live a great life NOW… Read on. THANK YOU MICHELLE!

 It’s One or The Other by Michelle Scheumann

 Strength. I want it. At least I hope I do. Strength is my word of the year for 2016. I’m putting it out into the universe to insight internal change for my self. It’s embarrassing to admit but I lack the physical strength to live the amazingly fortunate life I’ve been gifted without paying the high price of exhaustion and or illness that often follow most my adventures, travel and endeavors. This has become much more apparent to me as I age. I do know the best way to pay tribute to the life you’ve been given is to live your best life possible. Make IT count whatever that “IT”might be. If I Sign up & I show up. Put your best foot forward. Trust me, I get it and how important it is to be and more importantly feel strong in my body. I can talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. I don’t do it. It’s not that I can’t do it. I just hate to work out. What I’ve noticed at almost 50 is I’m far less able to play the fake it ‘till I make it game. Life can wipe me out. Mentally and physically. And the cherry on top is I am well aware I already have a sensitive/ frail constitution. It’s how I’m wired.  It’s not a new revelation but I’ve slowly been realizing I’m missing out on so many things. I’m missing out on my own life. I don’t have FOMO {Fear of Missing Out]. I’m actually missing out on opportunities which present themselves that I have to decline or skip because I’m overwrought and just too tired from the last round of something I chose to do. I can always plow through but it often leaves me in a weeping heap on the hardwood floor weak and wiped out. And I’m back in recovery mode which may take days.  I am currently not the best version of myself. It feels as if  I’m watching my life on the big screen and “I’m not the leading lady of my own life” [ as stated by  Kate Winslet in the movie “The Holiday”].  I need an upgraded app. A Michelle 2.0. reboot but I don’t possess the necessary software. It can’t be purchased or negotiated or faked. It must be earned through hard work, consistency and determination. I’m going to need to work for my better version. My STRONG/ CAPABLE self. This makes me say….ICK!

     I’m not in shape. I never really have been.  Why? Because I hate to work out. I always have. Perhaps always will. It’s a conundrum of sorts as it’s like having access to medicine you know will help you but you don’t take it.  I am a pro at avoiding anything I don’t want to do. Thus far, I have been able to muddle through my life activities even though it’s at a cost. So I can listen to Jane Fonda on NPR talk about the importance of fitness in the aging process, read Thomas Jefferson’s letter to Peter Carr, & watch Diane Nyad’s Ted Talk all with the underlying message [one which I already know] of the importance of maintaining a  strong body which leads to a strong mind, resiliency, mental acuity and an overall richer life. Don’t I want a richer/stronger life for my second act at this one life? It comes down to me. I have to do the work and this is the work that must be done. A quote from a recent Liz Gilbert talk is playing over and over in my mind. “What is it you REALLY WANT? I mean REALLY, REALLY WANT? And WHAT are you willing to give up to get it?” It’s one or the other. I can’t have the thing I say I want and remain the same. I have to make the change. It’s scary to acknowledge I want something different. What if I don’t succeed?  It’s way out of my comfort zone even though I know it’s the healthier choice. Change is always hard. I look over on my bedside table and read the cover of my 2016 Desire Map planner from Danielle LaPorte that basically says the same thing as Liz Gilbert . A daily reminder….”WHAT I WILL DO TO FEEL THE WAY I WANT TO FEEL”….The message is ALL AROUND ME.  I pause. What will I do? What will I give up to achieve my goal of strength? Can I do it? More importantly, am I willing to make the change? I don’t know but I’m sure going to try. Then I hear Anais Nin in my head “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” So I imagine the risks and rewards. I’m choosing to start my strength journey because “You can’t be committed to your bullshit and to your growth. It’s one or the other.” I think I’ll try other for a while.”


Mother’s Day 2016

This is the first night in  6 years that I am not teaching on Mother’s Day.

Since 2010, I have hosted an event on this special evening to honor the mamas in the lil omm community. Tonight, I am home. A yummy dinner with the family. A truly lovely day with NOTHING special at all. But knowing in my heart, that this day means the world TO ME. B/c being Saylor and Milo’s mama means the world to me. Being home with them, not working so much or so hard.. in many ways it’s nice. And in many ways, I’m still feeling the loss. I am trying to figure out who I am without the studio, without the constant creating and planning for others, without the 24/7 care of the studio. This year, I have lost one of my babies. So I think it’s why I decided to focus on something different this year, focus on something that has shifted around motherhood- that is deeply personal.. yet SO relevant….sending love to all my mom friends tonight. The ones in pain, the ones who lost their mamas this year or who lost their babies. The single moms, the ones who are married but FEEL single.. the ones who do it all, the ones who want to do nothing. The ones who love their children more than themselves, the ones who want to find their way back home to themselves. The ones making dinner, washing feet and wiping tushies.. and the ones who have quiet homes now, only memories of childhood to hold on to.After so many years of working with moms and babies, I have seen so much. so much joy. so much pain. so much LIFE, live. All of it. I love this day. It brings me so much to think about, so much to cherish, so much to remember. Those tiny toes are now big stinky feet, and those 8 year old tears are so real, so big, so huge in her heart… I know I am here to do this.  This year, I returned hOMe. This year, I can feel all the stages and emotions and the expansive love and the memories of years past.  This year, all the faces and stories of all the mamas in my life come flooding in. To be honest, it’s a lot. I feel overwhelmed with.. wow. I miss these women OR whatever I do next, will not be nearly as impactful as having lil omm studio. I knew we helped care for moms in DC through our classes and community, but only since we closed have I really had a chance to see how deep that love was. So this year, I sit with this all. The past, the future, the now. What has been, what will be… and I turned my attention towards something else that is pretty cool. Actually, amazing.

Here is a piece I wrote for a blog when asked to reflect on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day 2016

In the past year, my own relationship with my mother has transformed. For a number of reasons, we were able to meet each other & see each other. For the first time in my adult life, I have a regular, solid relationship with my own mother.  Both of our meditation practices are what brought us together and I can’t be more fulfilled by knowing that the most challenging and painful relationship in my life is healing and has found peace.  When we live with an awakened heart, everything changes. This year, I am so very proud of my own mother for facing her past. Over the past 6 months, she has been writing me a series of letters about my childhood, about the more difficult times. Now that I am healthy and strong and have my own life, I was ready to hear her side of the story. And because she has done so much work on herself, she was also ready to share. This perspective and insight into my past have been a gift, not because I want to go back and re live them or dig up the past…. but so I can continue my own healing. Reading her version of the past has established a connection between us and the truth is my mother who is the only other person who shares these moments and this history with me.

Yoga is a practice of self awareness and self study. This work, this path hOME to my mother, and to myself is and continues to be a reflection of my practice. I am deeply committed to my own health and well being and sharing the practices with others b/c as I live and breathe them, I feel free. I am no longer trapped by the past and the complicated relationship my mother and I had- I am able to stand proud as a mama with my own children, seeing them WHOLE And beautiful and alive. I am not carrying with me any baggage or fears from my own mother’s mothering or patterns but I am carrying the POWER of transformation, of healing, and of connecting. You see, no matter how badly it is broken, I deeply believe that with devotion we can all heal.

Now that my mother and I have a relationship I am free to express and live and dance in my life wholeheartedly, fully standing in my own power. Integrating the wounds from the past into my compassion practice BUT allowing the present moment to be my guide, I continue to be in awe of this life.

Each year, I think WHAT ON EARTH WILL I DISCOVER NEXT? What will reveal itself to me? What will I learn about my self, my past, my relationships?

This contemplative practice is what allows me to hug and hold my children with the most divine breath, to feel the bodies and warmth light my own heart. It’s all changing, it always is. But I know that I am not taking ANY of this for granted. To be with my children and see them as they are, to provide them a childhood of laughter and love and comfort and ease- is the BEST gift I can get on this day. “

AND I sent it to my mom. And here is what she replied.

“As many of you may know, my daughter, Pleasance, has had a rather extraordinary year so far. She sadly lost her studio space, that meant the world to her and her daughter, Saylor Eloise. She wrote and published a book called Delight, and has also launched a life transforming online project, named Thrive. And it’s only May. Wow.

But perhaps more profound than any of those milestones, to me at least, has been us, finding our way back home to each other again, as mother and daughter.

It has been one very long, and at times, very painful path. One that took so much deep. and not so pretty soul work and at times gut wrenching honesty. The road there has been filled with so much pain from the past, both my own and hers. (which really, as every mother knows, are always and forever intertwined.)

But finally we are here. Together. Completely together. Our love of practice, of meditation, has brought us, where no therapist, or distance or time could ever have brought us. This rejoining was Providence. Or divine intervention. or call it fate. Whatever you label it, the one sure thing I know, was it was always meant to be. But we could never have gotten here, without the work. The really hard work, of looking inward, and staring ourselves down, and shattering the mirror, and tossing aside ego, and blame, shame and fear. We had no other option but to go way past our safety spots, and dig deeper and deeper, to the very core. The one that was there all along, hidden behind all the other, to the place of ACCEPTANCE and love. The place called home.

This Mother’s Day, two open hearts are reunited, redirected, and focused completely on one love. And it’s only May. My heart is overfilled with Grace and Gratitude. I could not have asked God for a kinder, more loving daughter than Pleasance. Every day I thank Him for that gift, and every day I shall. “- Cathy Muir