Daily Intentions, Simplified.

Want to have more intentionality in your life every day?

Okay, this will help . . . Grab your journal and give yourself 10-20 minutes.

  1. How do you want to feel in your life EVERY DAY?  Radiant? Energetic? Healthy? Beautiful? Thoughtful? Free? Creative? Productive? Connected? Loving? Helpful? Contributing? Wealthy? Mindful? Aware? Truthful?
  2. Make a list of what you value and what feelings are associated with that value.  For example, I value reading and writing. I want to feel FREE and spacious enough to make the time to read and write, every day! So, my values and my feelings are aligned. *And I know it may not happen EVERY, EVERY day- but it’s happening MOST days.
  3. Think about how your days and your life are currently planned out to support these feelings and values. . . or maybe how they are not, yet!
  4. Make a list of a few things you can add to your life now to help you cultivate the feelings you WANT to have each day or to validate what you are already doing. For example, I make time to prepare healthy food for my family a few times a week. This is high on my feeling connected, healthy and loving list. So, when I do it, I remind myself that my actions are aligned with my values. This REALLY helps prevent the whole thought loop of-” I never get anything done. I’m so far behind. I should…”
  5. Now, look at everything you just mapped out- and start to play with some ideas for your Word of the Year. This does not have to be too complicated. Look at all the areas you just mapped out and ask yourself- what is calling to me? What patterns do I notice? You get to choose something that feels awesome with the direction, motivation and place that you are in right now. It’s not for anyone else or to prove anything. It’s just a way to guide you through this year. Just a theme that you get to weave into your life and SEE WHAT HAPPENS!
  6. Choose your word of the year and it email over to me! (pleasance@lilomm.com) jot down in a few places (index card, bathroom, car, notes on your phone) your word to remind you throughout the year. CHECK in with yourself every few weeks or months with these same practices above and see where your word is showing up and let me know how it goes. I’m ALWAYS shocked at the end of the year how my word showed up, guided me, helped me, whispered to me. It’s a fun and meaningful way to engage more deeply with your daily life.

Freedom From Frenzy

In 2001, I was a first year, first grade DC public school teacher. I had 16 students in my class. No textbooks, no pencils, no makers, no paper. 5 days into my first year, 9/11 happened. Our school was down the street from The US Capital. Our school building shook all day from the planes overhead. The sirens, the energy, the noise in and around NE DC. I stayed in my classroom with the 6 year olds, until the last one was picked up after 4pm that day. I drove home on empty streets, quite happy to be alive. Shocked, mostly. Crying.

Later that school year, I developed a horrible pain in my hip/glute that was relentless. This pain left me confused about my body. And my body was something I almost NEVER thought about. I lived in my head, my very capable, highly educated, well traveled mind which had led me ( or so I thought) out of every bad situation I managed to get myself into and had given me EVERYTHING I had ever wanted. Ivy League Grad School, a great boyfriend, a full and impressive resume…My brain had encouraged me to push and force and do more and join everything. My brain loved being so busy. I felt very comfortable with busy. My mind chattered and chattered repeating thoughts, pulling my attention there there and everywhere. My favorite word was YES! I became ANGRY with my body for slowing me down. I had NO time for this pain.

I made a phone call to the local studio.

“I heard yoga is good for people with injuries. I have excruciating pain in my hip and my leg. I am 22. I have to exercise. I don’t stretch. I don’t want ANYTHING spiritual. I just want a workout. Do you have that?”

“Yes.” she responded.

“Come to Devon on Monday night. Beginning Ashtanga. Let me know what you think.”

And from that moment.. when I stepped into the yoga center. The SLOW, STEADY process of paying attention to my thoughts, my life, my mind, my choices.. started to unfold.

My life, a series of accomplishments and successes & wins were all part of this “illusion’ of enough-ness. An illusion that I am FINE and that I was strong enough to power through it all- that I could achieve “just as much as anyone else” even though I thought MY story was so sad.

But, it’s just not true. You see, before yoga- I thought it was JUST ME who was in pain. I thought it was JUST ME who had a traumatic childhood- and I was so wrapped up in proving myself to the world- that I lost ANY connection I had to my body, looking back I think b/c there was so much pain there. SO much right under the surface.  So much my body was holding on and since I would not sit down and feel it- I became more tightly wound. I took on more jobs, roles, responsibility as we do..

16 years later…

Somewhere along the way, I made the commitment to live a joyful life.  Ironically,  I feel the most joy in daily life when I accept and embrace of all the human emotions ( even anger and shame and fear and sadness)

Somewhere along the way, I took my seeking heart and began to share with others the teachings, as I learned them. You guys, read this! Oh man, you have to listen to this!  And it’s sort of all I have ever wanted to do…

I found teachers and books and leaders and retreats that took me by the hand and whispered, “YOU TOO! You can have this. You can feel good- No, wait BETTER THAN GOOD! You can feel ALIVE AND AWAKE not only in your mind, but in your body too.”

I began to feel the WHOLENESS that that has always, always been here.  By integrating the emotions and experiences in my life with energy and mind body practices, I was slowly able to sleep better, improve ALL my relationships, leave jobs or careers or projects when the time was right.  Was I really able to tap into my “intuition” this esoteric thing I had always read about but never knew could be real?

In order for me to radically change my mental and physical health it was going to take more than just yoga. And over the years when the time was right, one thing led to another, led to another….

Eventually, I began to experiment with food and become a Health Coach and a few years later learn more about Ayurveda..

And then I noticed, yep, this too helps.

Eventually, I met a teacher who taught me to meditate.

Yep, this too helps. New things began to happen in my body, in my heart, in my mind. Is that forgiveness? Is that pure love? Did someone say compassion?  Until meditation, I’m not really sure I had ever felt these for myself ( let alone others!)

And then  intentional journaling, morning pages, writing and painting and taking SUPER DUPER good care of my body with baths and gentle yoga and oils and foot rubs.

And now, this. A deep, profound trust for my life and about my life- no matter what the road ahead brings.

We are all perfectly imperfect. I accept myself for who I am. I know that when I take REALLY good care of myself, my life feels MUCH better. It feels more joyful and I feel at ease with whatever pops up. I’m not as controlling about my time, or my life or my expectations.

I stick the basics and I keep it simple- When I limit TV and get plenty of sleep, I’m more creative, playful, energized and I make better choices. When I eat simple, healthy food I am able to move my body and be strong and my back does not ache when I meditate. When I spend more time in nature than on the couch, I feel connected. When I show up for myself & keep my commitments, I learn to trust and befriend myself.

I’m not “somewhere” that you can attain or not attain.  I just am very curious about what works well for me, at this stage, in this season and there is NO WAY I could have done it alone. Meaning, we do this together. This exploration- this deep dive. We say- NOW is the time to wake up to my life. What choices ARE working for me, what choices ARE draining me? Am I living ONLY in my head? DO I need to take it down a notch? Do I have chronic pain or fatigue or need a ton of pills to sleep or wake? We were never meant to do this alone- remember when the aunties and the sisters and the mamas all lived near one another and cooked together and folded laundry together and raised the babies together? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

I created Thrive as the playground for these wellness habits. A place to explore and try things on and see how they feel and keep asking, how does this feel?

What would your life look, feel, be like in 16 years? in 10 years? in 6 months if you experimented  with more of what (truly)  feels good and less of what drains you?

In Thrive we explore…..

Planning/Mapping-  The how & why it’s SO important for all the other self care practices. And how to love doing it.

Night- What are our evening rituals and routines to help us sleep better. Why are so many of us so exhausted?

Morning- Set the tone for your day ( your life?) Be inspired to FINALLY make getting up early part of who you are.

Move– Variety, enJOYment and consistency!

Stillness- Why practice stillness/ meditation and what are the ways to formally and informally develop this habit.

Nourish- There are so many ways to FEED our souls and ourselves. What are you putting in your sacred vessel?

Journal- This goes beyond the “dear diary” We learn about money love journals, scripting  ( law of attraction) and morning pages.

Service– Why service and giving to others is of UTMOST importance to our well being.

Mindset– What are the stories we tell? How do we get in our own way?

Creativity- Our lives are creative. How we dress, eat, play, move, sing, dance- how can we embrace our inner creatives and give them a little love?

Wealth- Alright, yep- $$ is totally part of Thriving. How we make it, what we do with it, how we hide it or throw it away and WHY? Reveal your $$ habits- the good, the bad and the ugly!

Does this feel like a lot to you? Don’t worry- you get lifetime access to explore these topics AND once you start to dive in to 1 area the others TRULY do fall into place. They happen more naturally once we start to pay attention to how they are related.

If you are scared, I think that’s great. It means something is calling you. You are ready.

Let your self love be your self care.

Ready to Thrive? 

When I sit

And then I stopped.

And there it is.

Right under the surface- the throbbing, achy- pain of life.

With the busy of playdates, lunches, phone calls and appointments, and even with the space of a long relaxing weekend… 

 when I finally stopped, 

I felt it all.

I am alone now, comtemporary adult rock in the background. Hot tea cooling down, people around coming in from the cold. The hum of city life all around and yet- 

just a regular old afternoon for me, waiting for the kids. 

But its the extraORDINARY moment slowed down. 

I am terrified. Today, MLK Day I have been thinking of legacy and justice, peace and hope for our country and at the same time I am trembling in fear of this week. 

What is about to happen to our country, what will we say to our children? History is happening right now. Our coming together, our being torn apart. All our deepest beliefs about human kindness and heartFULLness are to be tested. Will you show up to stand up? 

Sensitive folks like me, I know you feel it too. 

As our rights and our compassion are being put to the test left and right. The day to day feels the same and yet, everything is different.

But- Trump or no Trump, it is still the life stuff. When I sit like this and feel the vibration of it all around me circling -alive-I can let go. 

Have you ever just stopped and felt it all enough to know this life is changing now. and now. and now.  With no gurantees and no expectations. but just this moment as it is. We are so “advanced”, why is this truth, so simple yet so hard for us to live by?

And it’s in this moment, when I sit- that I pray for us all in here, in this world together. I have no idea if it wil help or heal- I know it won’t hurt. That the small acts with great love can be sitting here noticing these humans walk in the door-it is not much, I shame and blame myself for not being or doing more today. And then- I remember—-

“may you be happy, healthy, safe and live with ease. ” over and over. to you. and you. and you. 

I have read the science and felt the magic. this works. 

Peace in our hearts, doing what we can to be full of our strong voices and to breathe this precious moment.


When you can speak up, speak.

When you can stand up, stand.

When you need to cry, cry.

When you are tired, rest.

When you need love, reach out.

When your heartbreaks, feel.

When your mind races, sit.

When you have a song, sing.

When you have words, write.

When you feel it, share.

And in the simple acts, great shifts happen. Profound clarity and thoughtful activism from our own strength and courage, a life well lived.. 

may it be.

But, Why Do I Need To Practice Yoga?

Recently, I was asked this question in the context of someone who is actively trying to pay attention to her habits and patterns that are not serving her. So, I jotted these down as a reminder for all of us. The How Yoga Transforms Your Body Image is great but here is what I love…

Here are 7 reasons why yoga rocks:

  1. Hatha Yoga. Ha= sun and tha= moon. Multiple times a week, I talk in classes and to students about masculine & feminine energy. We investigate our do-do-do mentality and we encourage one another to be-be-be. From the VERY root of the word, Hatha, we have an understanding that there is a of balancing out that must occur for wellness, health and peace to thrive. I also sometimes call these the sun/moon energies and I LOVE how they appear in our body, mind, spirit, food, activity and intensity of relationships to others and self. They are present in so many ways in all areas of our life! We learn the “ease and effort” in every pose, in every breath and we then take that with us into our lives ( hopefully!). I wrote a whole chapter on this in my book, Delight: Eight Principles for Living With Joy and Ease called, ACTIVATE.
  2. Mindfulness. Our practice shows us the ways in which our minds race and run and chatter at us all day long. We start to pay attention to the mind by breathing into the body, slowly, mindfully awakening that we are not our thoughts.
  3. Insight. Our practice gives us insight into the habits in our body, mind and spirit, which affect ALL areas of our life. This goes from how we experience ( or avoid) physical pain of a more intense posture or shape, to how we beat ourselves up if we fall or lose or focus, to how we praise ourselves for being “perfect” in a pose, to how we compare ourselves to others. All the questions that we ask in yoga about self compassion and care can be applied to life off the mat. AND if we bring back the concept of sun/moon into each pose- let’s investigate the ways we bring this to our practice (and our life!). Are we SO focused on “doing it ” all, on being the “best”, on pushing our bodies and striving OR are we so lethargic with our practice and commitment that we have a hard time building strength because of a lack of drive. We need both. One is not better than the other. These energies  compliment one another and when we practice yoga consistently over time- we begin to pay attention to how this all works in our own unique expression. ** PLEASE NOTE. I do believe that in our current yogic climate that people can “practice yoga” for many, many years and stay totally comfortable with either too much sun or too much moon energy. The importance of a teacher who KNOWS you , your body, your life, your history is of utmost importance to be able to notice and reflect this in your practice. If you don’t have a teacher like this- you can reflect on the questions above. Have a conversation with your local teachers or fellow yogis and get super curious about your habits, history and intentions with practice.
  4. Balance. Our yoga practice invites us to play with balance on and off the mat. We get to PHYSICALLY balance and breathe, breathe, breathe and try to let go of the fact that balance is HARD and that some days we fall over! Some days the kids are sick! Some days we stand up straight ( get a lot done at the office) and some days we just can’t possibly hold one more posture. Balance ( alignment and breath) are and have always been part of our life, that’s why they are built into the classical sequences. Yogis get to practice making GOOD choices for their body, mind and spirit and we get to practice discernment in our lives through physical experiences! What a gift! This is also why we use our practice as an offering to our lives, as a guide to the bigger mission and vision of our experience here.  The great news is that as humans, we have ALWAYS been “working ” on this balance thing. And did you ever notice when you flow with your breath in a standing pose, drop ego, drop perfection, that suddenly you are ONE with your being? You feel the sway, gentle, you breath from head to toe and feel the ALIVENESS of the pose. I imagine you have had this in other areas of your life. Writing, painting, swimming, running, rowing, drawing- whatever your creative thing is that gets you IN THE FLOW- we replicate on the yoga mat, in our balancing postures. My dear, if you DO NOT have something in your life that brings you into a state of mental and physical flow – can you please email me so we can talk? I’d love to help you find that- truly- it’s the magical glittery wholeness of life and I want you to have it.
  5. Reflection. Our practice requires reflection ( forward folds) as a way to check out the inner landscape of  our current state of emotions and presence. Yogis can’t hide. All the feelings, all the doubts, all the joys and all the sorrows of being human are right here for us to feast on. Our physical practice mirrors our life. This regular check in is a way to move into and through the realities of our experience. We learn to become comfy with discomfort. WHAT A LIFE SKILL! Our inversions bring us a totally new perspective, a shift in view, a new way to think about something. My inversion practice brings elements of joy and play and lightness and strength and courage! Over the years I have watched myself be fearful and timid and I’ve had times in my life where I felt heavy, stuck, or unsure. An upside- down practice ( even just legs up the wall!) bring a sense of peace, of creativity and of “I’m okay”, that helps not only with our physical body but also with our ability to go with the flows of life. Inversions help our minds be less rigid, fixed or controlling.
  6. Strength. Our backbends OPEN OUR HEART, strengthen our authentic vulnerable selves  and whisper” truth, love, courage, strength”. They strengthen our spine which strengths our hearts, our being, our sense of self. Oh man, I remember early on – I drew my shoulder blades together lifted my heart and was so afraid of exposing myself, my heart breaking wide open to pain and suffering of my past- and yet AT THE SAME time, all of a sudden realizing that I could do it! I could support myself! I could lift up and out and expand the collar bones and feel empowered in my body. That was something I NEVER felt until I met yoga.
  7. Rest. Our practice tells us to rest. To lay down like it’s the end  and then curl up, just like you started in the womb, and to realize that in this moment, in this breath, you start again. This wisdom and symbolism for WHY we should show up to practice, this reminder of birth and death is right here on the tips of our fingers, on each breath. This is all passing us by. This is all a moment in time. This is just the cycle. And every time, just like magic, I remember why I practice, why I come back each day and do it again.

P.S. I love getting these types of questions because then I get to go on and on about how important and beautiful the practices are. I get to map out how everything overlaps and integrates and how brilliant the ancient wisdom is. It blows my mind that so many of the teachings are STILL RELEVANT to modern life. I get to clarify and remind myself why I love to live a yogic lifestyle and how profoundly it is changed my life, stress level, career path and deepened my relationships. Have a yoga question? Send it on over!

Mindful Media

I know many of you are focused on things like losing weight and creating more space in your life for 2017 BUT I’m going to challenge you to step back and focus on your relationship to social media and screens.

Ironic, right? You are reading this on a screen, you are subscribed to something that is sharing this with you- but I’m here to ask you to take a break. Not all the time, but sometimes. Not every day but at a designated part of the day, week, month. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE connecting with people on social media. I love pictures and stories and chatting with people…

HOWEVER, I am also committed to a life of freedom, creativity, joy and ease and that means that my social media time is one tiny, tiny part of my life- I draw, paint and create in my home office. I write daily. I exercise daily. I find time to cook for my family and to connect in person with people I love. I sleep 7-9 hours a night. I read 1-2 books a week. I listen to 4-5 podcasts a week. I’m not listing this off to boast or make you feel bad- I’m just sharing with you what I have gained from being more mindful about my media intake. I have found significant shifts in my relationship to time from developing some boundaries and implementing practices around social media and TV.

As a society, We KNOW we are addicted but have you ever STOPPED and looked around in line, at the park, in waiting rooms. There are so many screens. So much looking down…MY new practice in these spaces is to look around. TO try to make eye contact with someone, to smile. Sometimes I just stand and breathe, sending lovingkindness to everyone in the room. Not from judgement or wanting things to be different, but just to stop and see it all. To take it in. To see my REAL life. And sometimes, I answer the text that came in, answer a work email ( SO I CAN HIDE THE PHONE WHEN I GET HOME WITH THE KIDS), or I actually call someone I love to hear their voice. I know, so old school- right?

Some define  yoga as the ART of paying attention. Yoga is my art, part of my creative life. We talk about yoga practice as a way of refining our focus, our clarity and helping us to really develop  one pointed attention and awareness… Usually on our mat, it shows up as staying in a pose with a breathing technique, for some time. Yoga challenges us to hold and breath not to jump in and out of the moment or the breath or the pose. This is one way our yoga connects to our real life. It helps us build inner strength of focus and presence and to stay with it for a bit longer than we did before.

Regular consistent breath-full yoga & mediation practice can…

*help build our focus muscles.

*give us a little more attention endurance for our real life experiences.

*invite us to be a little less distracted.

*strengthen our awareness of when we have gone back into zombie/ autopilot mode.

Here is something else I have noticed ESPECIALLY over the past 5 years..I have observed that people who abuse social media and do not have their own contemplative practices live with a LOT of FOMO ( fear of missing out) and that people who have a contemplative practice ( which naturally strengthens self awareness and inner courage ) and have some boundaries around social media experience more JOMO ( joy of missing out).

What does this mean? I think it means that peeps who deeply commit to their inner lives, and do the work to know who they are and stand in that power have WAY less time, energy, resources or interest in looking around to others lives for comparison. I believe folks who have a strong sense of self, clarity around choices, actions and values spend more time living their own life. More time engaged with other humans they love or cultivating their own unique passions and talents.  And I think that’s pretty awesome.

Here’s what I invite you to try…

  1. Schedule time in silence away from screens. This can look like writing pen to paper, walking in nature with no music or podcasts, sitting in meditation… anything counts as long as there is no music/ noise  and no screen with you. You could call this downtime..
  2. Jump on the mat. Grab your yoga mat for some advanced practice. This means, just chill on your mat, with your self. Add some movement. Connect to your OWN body. Stay in a pose longer than normal and breathe. Move to the next pose. Stay in that pose longer than normal. What comes up? This might be very hard the first few times. That’s okay. Remember, we can do hard things.
  3. Take a break – just for a little! Jump of Facebook for a week or so. Take it off your phone or log out of all the social media so that if you try to get on , you have to login which will remind you that you don’t want to be on! Some people take a whole day off a week – or a week off a month. Once you break that habit, it’s easier and easier to take regular breaks and to engage more proactively and meaningfully when you get back on. They also say your time spent on social media drops significantly lower when you do take breaks-I notice this in my own life- after a media detox, I’m always using it less when I turn it all back on.
  4. Engage with people who bring you joy- unsubscribe from peeps who make you feel bad, unworthy or less than. I have done this ( and keep doing it!) over the years- it’s GREAT- now my feed is people I love, doing things I am interested in- where I want to share, support and cheerlead for them.
  5.  Leave your phone at home or in the car. As much as possible.

BONUS!

If you see something on social media that is quite personal, on your mind, or upsetting instead of responding to the person on the screen- maybe contact them offline. Most of the time, just adding a comment does not really help that person in crisis ( although, I know in some cases it can!) But, if you can actually do something to help or you are very close to this person and they have posted something – it can be a really nice practice to call them and reach out about the topic .. rather than just responding to the whole public.

My affirmation/Reminder

At the end of my life, I want to be known as someone who loved and lived really well, wholeheartedly. I want to be known as someone who created and cared and led an inspired life. * Scrolling on a device is not something that I want people to remember me for*

I would LOVE to hear what you do to protect your valuable time and to put boundaries on your social media..