The Truest Reflection of Me…

Today, I did not kick my morning in the ass. Today it kicked mine.

The minutiae of it doesn’t matter but let’s just say my two-year old whom I love and adore was being just that…a 2 year-old. Everything led to a tantrum.

“No honey you can’t have my phone”

“No you can’t throw the iPad”

“No you can’t smack your 6 month-old sister on the head really hard”

“No you can’t have a cookie for breakfast”

Each tantrum came quicker, louder and with some really hyper-ventilated breathing. I was hurting for her while trying not to lose my mind. With most tantrums I just walk away. Today was different. She was so upset. Her little face so red and the heavy breathing was just too much. I didn’t give in to her requests. I didn’t pick her up. I didn’t coddle her. Instead, I just got down on the floor and sat with her. Silent. I calmly breathed. Silent. I whispered it would be okay and I just breathed.

I’m lucky in that my mom lives with us so she is able to care for my children. I know they are in good hands when I go. This morning I was talking with mom about what happened and all she really said was, “she’s high-strung like her mom”. It wasn’t said meanly. It was just matter of fact. I think she was telling me in an effort to say, “hey…it’s ok”.

What she said though, kind of stung.

Shortly after I left for my yoga practice with John.

I thought about that comment for the 20 minute drive in to the city.

I entered the studio, rolled out my mat and began my practice as usual. John and I talk a lot through practice. Some days more than others. Today, I talked about my morning. In the course of that, we got to the source of what was stinging me. My little sponge, my beautiful little girl…she is the truest reflection of me. Not her skin or her mouth or the way she walks …but the way she is. She sees me. She learns from me.  Half way through practice I broke down and cried. That has never happened in practice before. There I was, bent over on my mat, tears falling where sweat usually does.

Now — I don’t kid myself. A 2 year-old is a 2 year-old. I don’t think the morning was a manifestation of my daughter absorbing my anxieties. I think it was a small, formative being experiencing new and powerful emotions that she can’t control. That won’t always be the case though. Someday it will be manifestations of me…if I don’t learn to let go.

I am not in control.

I am not in control. This has to be my mantra through each breath.

John talks a lot about this. We talk a lot about it. He believes death is a big motivator for people to be, to change, to live, to feel, to move, to reset. He and I are very alike in ways. So as I move through practice, he talks about how he works on letting go. How he has his moments too, like me. How he falls down and gets back up and does it all again. We fail. He tells me we all fail and that’s ok.

I know he’s right. The intellectual in me knows he’s right.

It’s hard to be ok with failure when I look at the truest reflection of me…my daughter.

But I know I have to. I know I have to tell myself that it’s okay that there were tears instead of sweat on my mat today. Sometimes all we can do is sit on the mat and let it go. Sometimes all we can do is sit on the floor and breathe softly and deeply next to those who can’t.

It is through my breath that I will continue to find, hold and survive the best part of me.

Matching Pajamas make everything cool.

Matching Pajamas make everything cool.

Power to the She…& Me

I’ve been on quite a journey the last two years:  A scary, amazing, life-altering journey. I became a mom. Twice.

To understand my journey, you would have to know I was an athlete all my life. My right arm paid for my degree. I could throw a pretty fast curve ball back in the day! I grew up in a competitive, fitness-oriented family. My older brother went to Ohio State on a football scholarship, my younger brother was a collegiate baseball player, my sister played tennis and ran track and my father made a business of training NFL, NBA and MLB players.

I’ve been pretty lucky. I’m one of those people who has enjoyed success…on the field, in the classroom, in the newsroom and at home. Don’t get me wrong. I worked my butt off for it! It wasn’t handed to me but with that success comes an expectation that you are always going to be at the top of your game.

So what does this have to do with this week’s assignment? Everything.

Like many moms, I gained weight. 60 pounds to be exact. I also quit my job in week 8 of my maternity leave. I could not fathom leaving my child and felt broadcast journalism was changing. It all seemed irrelevant. So I threw myself into motherhood…and then 9 months later was pregnant again.

This time was different. About 4 months after my first child Gracen was born, I was suffering a bit of an identity crisis. I had always been an accomplished television producer, making my own money, doing my own thing and now I wasn’t. I felt small. I felt worthless. I was a little lost. I needed a reset.

A friend and cancer survivor who had found peace in yoga introduced me to her teacher.  On a cold December day, I signed up for a private lesson and life was never the same.

When you are feeling like I was and looking like I thought I looked, it takes everything you have to feel comfortable in your own skin. Enter Athleta.

Athleta came to be in 1998 as a catalog company specializing in yoga clothing. Gap Inc. acquired them in 2008 and they evolved into athletic wear, every day clothes, swimwear and accessories adding online sales and brick and mortar stores to their successful catalog business. (GapInc.com & Bloomberg.com)

Athleta is more than a business though. They are a modern brand as defined in What is BRANDING? published by the Norwich Business School.  As you see in that clip, brands of today are finding information, sharing films, selling stuff, making friends and adding to knowledge.  Athleta accomplishes all of this utilizing the channels below and integrating a consistent, solid and straightforward brand message: Power to the She

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ You Tube

Google+ ~ Athleta Chi (Blog) ~ Athleta Website ~ Catalog ~ Email

With Power to the She, Athleta celebrates the busy lives women lead and how they make fitness a priority. They promise to put performance first and comfort a close second. (Maddy Lucier) I would add that “Power to the She” extends beyond making fitness a priority – it makes well being and empowerment a priority as reinforced by this video on the company’s You Tube channel:

Guarantee

At its basic core, Athleta is a business with a product that it guarantees.

I know this to be 100% true. I had a short sleeve sweatshirt I just loved but after about 5 times wearing it, there were very discernible  arm  pit stains. Yuck! This was not typical of Athleta’s clothing so I returned it. No questions asked. Brands guarantee quality.

According to the Norwich Business School, Brands also instill values that lead to action. If you go to the parent company website at  Gap Inc. you will read the following about Athleta:

At Athleta, we design the ultimate performance apparel and gear for every active woman, from the weekend warrior to the committed yogini to the fiercely driven competitive athlete. And as women athletes, we road-test, court-test and water-test everything ourselves to be sure each item we offer features the perfect balance: performance and style

Another key aspect of a successful brand is Ownership.  Athleta lives this in the people who design and create the product. The corporate leadership of Athleta seeks to understand their customer by looking within. They take this introspection and make it a call to action:

Athleta exemplifies communications planning as we read about in Brand Media Strategy this week because their message is clear and uniform across all their platforms.

They engage and reward:

They engage and educate:

And what you see on Twitter…is what you see on Facebook…is what you see on Pinterest…is what you see on Instagram…is what you see on You Tube…is what you see on Google+ …is what you see on the company’s website. Each campaign and message lives on each platform:

Our journey this week also told us that Brand is Confidence. Brand is Passion. Brand is Belonging. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman once said, “when people use your brand as a verb, that is remarkable”. (brainyquote.com). I would add that when people forget your Brand is trying to sell them something, that is remarkable as well. Athleta does just this by creating a forum for confidence, passion and a sense of belonging. They call it Athleta Chi. It’s a blog devoted to “connecting women to the energy of inspiration.” You can opt to receive inspirational emails as well. The blog features recipes, how-tos, travel information, training videos, health guidance and a forum for people like you and me to chat, engage and belong.

So what about that post-partum, overweight, insecure, somewhat lost new mom? 

I’m getting to that.

The most important thing I consider in a “brand” is me. After all as our class this week reinforced “You” make a brand. “You” unmake a brand.  Yoga is intimidating as hell. I always avoided it because it seemed clique-ish. It was for skinny girls that could put their heads in places I never wanted to go.  Heck, I couldn’t even touch the ground when I started without hearing something shred inside me.  As silly as it sounds, Athleta made it easier to start. I found a comfortable skin.

After I tried Athleta clothes for my yoga practice, I stayed with it because I found the “experience” of Athleta resonated. The women weren’t stick figures with untouchable goals and unrealistic representations. They were real. They were like me:  Normal, Unique, Curvy, Curvy-er in some areas more than others.  In the social community on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, I found women of all design…including me:

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I now own Athleta clothes of all kinds including the bathing suit below. (I really should own stock in the company!)  The catalog arrives and it’s like Christmas. I get an email for a sale and I can’t resist. Yes, I am their target customer…and I am a brand loyalist.

It’s more though. I turn the pages and I see where I have been, where I am and where I want to be. I’ve lost 57 pounds. I can bend over and touch the floor with flat palms.  I stand a little taller.  I smile more. I breathe deeper. It’s not about the clothes…it’s about the community.  It’s Power to the She…and Me.

Yogaonabeach

Sources:

http://www.gapinc.com/content/gapinc/html/aboutus/ourbrands/Athleta.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-17/gap-s-athleta-stalks-lululemon-one-yoga-store-at-a-time.html

http://www.stack.com/2012/01/12/athleta-power-to-the-she-campaign/

Maddy Lucier. (January 12, 2012) Athleta’s Power to the She Campaign Celebrates Female Athletes. Retrieved June 1, 2014, http://www.stack.com/2012/01/12/athleta-power-to-the-she-campaign/

Antony Young. (2010). A Shift From Media Planning to Communications Planning. Brand Media Strategy: Integrated Communications Planning in the Digital Era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/meg_whitman.html

 

Remember to Breathe

It’s a journey. Not a competition. Not a race. Not a destination. All those clichés.

I have to tell myself that every day.

I am not sure when anxiety became a problem for me. I don’t have a defining moment when I thought…”wow…I’m having an anxiety attack”.  It just happens.  Now though, I am just more aware of it. I am aware of it because I have two little, gorgeous, impressionable, sponge-like human beings who watch my every move. Even when I don’t think they do. I don’t want them to be like me. I don’t want them to feel overwhelmed just by taking on the day. Which I do sometimes. I can’t explain it.

So when that little nagging in the pit of my stomach starts to grow and take over my insides like a balloon filling up, I have to breathe. I have to try to stop, recognize what is happening and breathe through it. I’m having a morning like that right now. There is nothing unusual about today. It’s Sunday. Kids are up. Spouse is busy with her load of things to do. I have school work due, deadlines to meet, Legos to play with, meals to make, baths to give. Just the everyday things.

A friend introduced me to John Meredith in December 2012. It was a meeting that in many ways has changed my life. I spend a lot of time with John each week practicing yoga. Inevitably my competitive spirit always creeps into our hours and I end up being my own worst enemy. John brings me back with the simple…”Remember to breathe”.

It’s good advice. I tell myself it will get done. All of it. I just have to breathe.