About Lynn Curry

McNair Director at Central Michigan University

Letting ourselves emerge

One of the things I love about attending a yoga class is being prompted to think in new ways. In addition to queuing the different poses, a teacher will usually weave in a particular “theme” or “language” meant to elucidate a certain concept or idea typically related to the philosophy of yoga. In essence, the goal of yoga is becoming more in tune with your true self.

Today, we were invited to consider how much of our “true selves” we actually show to the world on a regular basis. True, there are probably parts of ourselves that are easy to share, certain qualities, beliefs, manners of being. Perhaps even truer are other parts of ourselves more easily kept hidden. Perhaps they fall beyond what is considered “the norm” or maybe we are afraid that if we show who we really are or what we really believe in, we won’t be accepted by others. We are afraid to stand in our own truth for fear of being judged and rejected.

When we are mindful, we can usually start to notice how we only allow certain parts of ourselves to show, depending upon the situation we find ourselves in.

What’s interesting about a yoga practice is that we explore such topics through breath and movement. We take a look at these “more subtle notions” through tangible things like breathing and moving our bodies.

Today, we were encouraged to embrace the totality of ourselves, flaws and weaknesses, in all. Strengths too. By observing our mind as we move from pose to pose, we learn to lean into the discomfort of simply being ourselves, just as we are. We have lots of “stories” we tell about ourselves. We aren’t good at this, we aren’t good at that. This happened and so I’m this way because of that.

Today in our yoga practice, we were encouraged to let go of these stories (that “ticker tape” constantly running in our heads), and instead, embrace the present moment of who we are. Right now. At this moment.

Can I stand in my own truth of who I am as an individual?

Maybe.

The real opportunity comes from challenging those stories, or in many cases, “limiting beliefs,” we hold so dear. Today our practice culminated with a pretty challenging pose. Immediately, my internal “ticker tape” began saying, it would be easier to just stick with the simpler version of this, you probably can’t get your leg up like that anyway, it might be too strenuous.

Instead of listening to that ticker tape, I tried it. It didn’t look pretty, especially in relation to the two beautiful teachers surrounding me and going into the fully realized version of it, but I tried it. Then I refined how I tried it, on the second side, with feedback from my teacher.

It was probably a “smidge” better on that second side, but the deal is, it was *my version* of that pose for today. Sure, my teachers’ versions still appeared “more better” (vocab from my 8-year-old, smile) in my mind’s eye; but I dropped that story, if just for the moment, and recognized myself for having tried and having accomplished “my version” of that more advanced yoga pose, for today.

heather

Heather doing “the pose” quite beautifully. This is “her version” of the pose.

I’m doing this in CrossFit too. Just yesterday I back-squatted 120 pounds. Five more pounds than I did last week. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I tried it. I focused and leaned into the discomfort involved in trying something I hadn’t done before; something I, in the back of my head, was already second guessing I could do. Darn ticker tape running and doing its job, like it always does.

And so I did that too. And maybe it wasn’t perfect, but I did it. And as a result, I inserted this notion of being able to do it, into my brain. Cool thing is, next time around, my “ticker tape” might just resurrect this belief instead!

My teacher then read an excerpt from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo:

“Like many of us, I seem to be continually challenged not to hide who I am. Over and over, I keep finding myself in situations that require me to be all of who I am in order to make my way through. Whether breaking a pattern of imbalance with a lifelong friend, or admitting my impatience to listen to my lover, or owning my envy of a colleague, or even confronting the self-centeredness of strangers stealing parking spaces, I find I must be present – even if I say nothing. I find I must not suppress my full nature, or my life doesn’t emerge.

Aside from the feeling of integrity or satisfaction that comes over me when I can fully be myself, I am finding that being who I am – not hiding any of myself – is a necessary threshold that I must meet or my life will not evolve. It is a doorway I must make my way to or nothing happens. My life just stalls.”

What it comes down to is leaning into the discomfort of new territory and discovering who you really are, even if it’s scary and even if it’s easier to stay right where we are. When we do this (especially on a regular basis), we expose, more and more, our true selves and who we really are as individuals.

It’s how we grow.

It’s how we shed our stories and allow ourselves to evolve.

<3

CrossFit Worthy-ers do self-care.

I’m presenting as part of CrossFit Worthy’s special class on Adulting 101 and I’m super excited to be sharing what I love most – helping people to develop self-care habits that will allow them to flourish on a daily basis. Super excited!

Here are my take away points in developing a self-care mindset:

  • notice how you feel
  • listen to your body
  • make it non-negotiable
  • do it a “smidge” more
  • begin again
  • trust your instincts
  • cut out the crud

Here is a LINK to my presentation too, in case you want to take a look see.

Bonus! Check out a little something I’ve been working on for our McNair scholars, that I “transformed” into something for all of our CrossFit Worthy-ers. I’m pretty excited about sharing this.

Click on the title below!
Taking Care of You: Making Self-Care a Daily Reality

Last, use this LINK to tell us you are committing to three primary self-care habits this fall season. We want to know what they are so that we can share experiences and offer support!

I talk a little more about self-care + the challenge HERE.

Here’s to celebrating our SUCCESSFUL *self-care initiatives* come this December.

clarity

One of the keys to taking care of you – being clear on your priorities + noticing how the things you choose to do MAKE YOU FEEL on a daily basis.

 

 

Bright Spots Friday

My CrossFit gym has a great community that is really active on Facebook. Besides getting to know folks while in the gym, I’ve found our Facebook group to be a really great way of feeling connected even though I might not know everyone on a personal level. We’ve recently started to share Bright Spots Friday with one another and this had added an even lovelier dimension to our exchange.

I thought I would write a short post for today’s Bright Spots Friday cause I wanted to talk a little more in-depth about how my participation in this community is impacting my life. After feeling like crap for a few weeks, I finally found some energy this week! For me, this meant pushing myself again, if even in small increments.

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I’ve enjoyed working out in a number of different gyms over the years, but CrossFit is different. I’m still working on figuring out exactly why that is so, but I’ll give it a whirl right now.

  • you monitor + measure your progress in a highly detailed way which lends to great insight to your growth in the long-term
  • these “gains” as they are called are celebrated as they are actually happening during a workout and once the results are posted in Wodify (a convenient app for signing up for classes + seeing everyone’s stats)
  • for me, I take great inspiration from those around me and even if I’m not even close to the kind of weight my fellow CrossFit-Worthiers are moving, I still feel inspired by their achievements + milestones

It proves it’s possible, which to my sometimes self-limiting brain, might not show up that way.

  • the encouragement of others is palpable, much more so than I’ve experienced in other places (I think it’s related to the nature of the work we’re doing and how it’s tracked)
  • and the coaching … gosh the coaching … is sincere, is safe, is supportive, is encouraging, is phenomenal really
  • Jeremy + Susie have created something special … not only am I grateful to be a part of it, but I’m grateful that I am able to offer this experience to our McNair scholars as they strengthen themselves + grow their confidence in themselves before continuing on in their graduate journeys

I deeply believe the work our McNair students get to do here @ CrossFit Worthy will have rippling effects in their journeys for years to come.

This week I worked on my clean + jerks. I sent this text to Jeremy after a workout which said: Feeling like I want to do more of those 65# cleans so that 65# starts to feel like 35# – thanks for being most awesome. He replied: Keep kicking butt!

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For me, cleans, especially when you receive at the bottom (look at me being all … like I know all the technical terms … not! lol!makes me feel really tough. I’m serious. I can do 35# like nobody’s business. And 65# is *starting* to feel a little more manageable. Which leads to sheer amazement when viewing others (women, yes younger, but still) doing upwards of 150#!

Bottomline? This work is exciting and it feeds all other parts of my life. It helps me be focused with my work. It helps me be a better mom. It helps me be more confident in the things that I want to do + express. It makes me feel frickin’ amazing and that just feeds everything else.

I take those accomplishments at the gym and I translate them in my daily life.

It’s a foundation. A non-negotiable. Because of the way this work feeds my life, it’s got to happen and I choose to make it happen. I really think this is the key when it comes to moving +  strengthening our physical bodies. Once we experience this foundation, we begin to see how critical it is for all other parts of our lives. It clears our head and gets rid of the detritus. And allows us to really soar.

The Gift of Yoga

What’s the gutsiest move I’ve ever made and how does it inspire my life and work today? That would have to be deciding to extend the gift of yoga to my students what is now over five years ago. This decision is significant because it signifies my stepping into what I’m truly passionate about. I’m passionate about helping people take care of themselves and I deeply believe that yoga is probably one of the best tools out there to do just that.

I work with low income, first generation, underrepresented students and help prepare them for graduate school, so when I had this idea, I immediately thought people would think … what does yoga have to do with getting into graduate school? I judge myself enough as it is, but I forecasted people judging this decision even more. I envisioned people thinking I’m taking away from the focus of the program. I envisioned people thinking that I’m wasting resources. I envisioned people thinking this kind of activity to be entirely too woo woo. And for that matter, I risked people thinking that I was a little off my rocker! Crazy girl!

I did it anyways and never looked back.

I had scholars talk about never feeling *as alive* as they did after that first session (think: senses on fire!) and I had scholars think they were being coerced into giving up their religion. I’ve had scholars puke (just once). I’ve had scholars get profound relief from back pain and mental anguish (all the same). I’ve had scholars joke around during classes and I’ve had scholars take the opportunity uber-seriously.

Perhaps I should note that we never *force* our scholars to do yoga. That would certainly be un-yoga-like now wouldn’t it? We *might* strongly encourage, role model, even incentivize them during the summer, but never force. Thank goodness, huh?

This is the thing. Yoga opened the door to having a conversation about how to take care of ourselves so that we can do awesome things in our lives on a daily basis. We’ve all got some goals and plans for our lives. We want to feel good while we are striving to achieve them (I’m assuming here). That pretty much means we need to figure out a way to keep ourselves in tip-top-shape (body, mind, spirit anyone?) so that we are in full-operational mode as much as we can.

So there’s the trick.

It’s not so easy to do that on a regular basis, is it? We might start off in a nice groove, say at the beginning of a new semester (great time to set our intentions), packing a healthy lunch when we’re on the go, getting that workout in before class, making sure to get to sleep at a decent hour. Then the semester *really starts to happen* and those plans sail right out the window.

It sucks! And I understand why.

It’s the daily pressures of all of our responsibilities that we’ve chosen to take on (key word being *chosen* as in *we choose* what is on our plates). It’s the pressure of making enough money to live while we go after our dreams (really thinking about my students here). It’s the pressures of wanting and having to do well in order to achieve our goals. It’s the pressures of all those other “little nuggets of life” that can surface in the most in opportune times and make our heads spin.

So getting back to yoga. I think yoga is one of the best tools for self-care because it gives us an opportunity to slow down, completely pause even, in our busy lives. It allows us to go inward and focus on our bodies and on ourselves in a way that we don’t really do that often. The physical postures in yoga make us feel good. We stretch and we strengthen.

But I would argue that yoga is so much more than that.

It’s the work that we do with our breath and our minds. It’s focusing on our breath and just listening, instead of having our minds constantly be in “doing-mode” and stressing about all of the things we still need to get done. It’s taking some time for ourselves (doesn’t have to be a ton of time either) and slowing down enough to get a read on how we’re really doing. Of course, there’s much much more to it, but I think this encapsulates why yoga can be so good for our students and good for everyone.

scholaryoga

McNair scholars unwinding with some summer yoga.

I think back to that first yoga session quite often and I smile. I think about how far we’ve come since then. We’ve definitely “upped” things by incorporating other wellness-oriented workshops + activities through the years, but in my mind, it still comes down to yoga. I love to give the gift of yoga, and by that, I mean inviting others to explore how yoga might create small, even huge, shifts in their lives for the better. It’s about having an open mind, creating the time + space to doing something special for yourself, it’s about experimenting with all different kinds of tools to see what really works for you.

 

 

Riding the waves

I composed this blog post as I ran four miles last night. I love when inspiration hits and so I’m going with it. My run started out pretty normal; I’m generally a slow runner (and that’s okay), but the late afternoon sun hitting remnants of color in the trees would carry me through, I was certain. I started out with my usual play list, jamming along, repeating several of my faves, especially as I climbed the long hill by one of the huge Amish farms near our house.

I love this part of my run, as the landscape appears almost hilly, undulating between forest and farm. The Amish have these beautiful horses pasturing in the field, the sky took on hazy blue tones and started to mix with the light purples and pinks. I imagined a full moon rising, which recently it did, and savored every moment as I trotted on by.

moon over farm

Here’s a pic of my view. I took this during the last full moon, which is why I could so clearly envision it on my Sunday evening run!

On the down hill, I began to hit a rhythm (arguably easier with gravity on my side). I noticed my legs feeling stronger (courtesy of those CrossFit Worthy squats, I’m sure!) and I easily kept focused ahead. At one point, as I was jamming and keeping time with Melissa Etheridge, I looked to my right and caught the ah-mazing colors of the sunset streaking across the fields. You know when you have those moments that just seem surreal?

Clearly, I was having one of them, hitting a groove that felt awesome!

Then Donny Osmond + Susan Boyle came on my iPod with their heartfelt rendition of All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera (yes, I have Donny on my iPod). I had this song in my playlist because I only recently saw the production for the first time last spring with our McNair scholars. I couldn’t stop singing this song! One of the main reasons we take our students to see these awesome performances is so that they can experience and feel the exuberance and passion of the performance. That song just goes right through you and last night was no exception.

wide-eyed fear

This is what I felt like as I sang along with Donny and Susan.

Despite my usual timidness, I allowed myself to sing aloud (if just a bit, here and there, and really only the horses and cows might hear) and pretty soon I was trying to hit the high notes + hand gesturing as all get out. I just searched for an image of a person running with their arms extended forward (you know, as if they were singing for JOY) and this is what I came up with (see left). I admit, this might be over the top, but I’m willing to bring in the cheese factor ten-fold so that I can really nail down my point here. Besides, it’s all about the passion really. That’s what I’m really talking about here.

I started thinking about how I felt sitting in the audience and watching the Phantom performers belt out this song. I could *feel* the energy coming from Donny and Susan. It prompted me to let out a little bit of my own energy + excitement + passion. Right now I’m passionate about my students and creating a new grad student support program for them. I’m nervous about this idea but I’m taking small steps to keep moving forward regardless. Each time I do, I feel amazing. I’m letting my passion inspire action and it’s starting to build. I can feel it.

I’m letting my passion inspire action and it’s starting to build.

So here’s the thing. We all have something different that we’re a little bit (or a lot!) excited about. I think the real key is allowing ourselves to feel and really experience that passion. Even if it feels a little “new” or “different” or “scary” at first. Or you might only get a glimpse of it at first. Take these small ideas or nuggets and run with them.

We need to allow ourselves to get all wrapped up in the nuances of our own discoveries about this passion, this interest, this intrigue. And I think the more we do that, the more we can grab hold of our true talents + abilities. Our abilities begin to surface when we begin to trust ourselves enough and embrace what’s really inspiring our fancy at this particular moment in time.

I’m often perplexed talking with students, our current students and prospective ones. I think one of my primary jobs is to help students brainstorm options for their future. It’s often the case, however, that they haven’t got a clue! And they feel stressed and worried about this. I can definitely understand why too.

I don’t think it’s something you can force or rush, but rather, just keep investigating … by taking different classes, talking to professors, doing Google searches on career paths, reading up on topics that grab your attention. You’ve got to be open + proactive when it comes to the exploration process. But then once something “tickles your fancy” you’ve got to run with it.

You’ve got to trust yourself in the process.

By “run with it” I mean start expressing yourself in relation to your passion. Talk about it with friends, asks questions if you are taking a class in the subject, write about it (formally + informally), look for opportunities to get further ingrained in what it is you’re interested in (think internships, shadowing, volunteering, whatever it takes).

I also think that it’s okay (and very common) to have multiple passions. Having an array of things that really “float your boat” can help feed the different areas of your life. That’s how I feel about my yoga practice, running and CrossFit. I’m really “into” those things and I’m finding the energy + growth that emerges as a result fuels my work, me being a good mom and more.

running shoes

Nothing better than a fall run to clear your head + get yourself jazzed up!

I encourage you to dive deep with your interests. Let your passion go where it needs to go. Try letting your passions fuel each other. Allow yourself to be surprised. You never know where you’ll end up. And that’s the true beauty of it.

lmc xo

What my students teach me

I get to spend a bunch of time with my students, especially during the summer. And I love it. We get a first-hand view of them learning how to do research, busting a move for the GRE and searching for the *most amazing* graduate opportunity out there among the gazillion options available (read: can be kinda challenging). We get to eat with them – quite often actually – and workout with them – sounds weird, but really cool – and just hang out on occasion – think sitting campfire-side + maybe crashing weddings, but I digress.

The point is: we are teaching our scholars a lot about the process of becoming successful graduate students, but we get to learn a lot along the way too. Win win you say! That’s what I say. In a sense, we’re all experimenting with this idea of what it means to live your best life. We all want to do work that matters. We all want to reach our potential, challenge ourselves. We want to feel good while we’re at it, which means taking care of ourselves too. It’s an ongoing dialogue, it’s trial and error, it’s sharing breakthroughs and challenging each other to step up to the plate. Which could mean applying for that reach school or doing that strict pull-up by December first.

Either or … or both! lol

One thing in particular that happened this summer is: singing in the car. That’s right, singing in the car. Like a boss, I might add. (okay, maybe I stole that line from my students) McNair road trips have translated into having the McNair playlist ready to go, and I have to say, it’s been pretty interesting for me. You see, I’ve always been shy about singing. I remember being at church and feeling the pressure to sing, and just not wanting to. I guess I was just really self-conscious about the whole idea. Not that we sang a ton in the family vehicle (two-tone blue station wagon), but in those scenarios I wouldn’t sing either. I’m not sure if it’s more awkward to sit mute when others are singing or to make myself sing, but probably not “do it full-out” since I’m shy about singing in the first place. I would say it’s a bit of a catch-22.

funcarridetwo

along for the ride!

I admire people who can sing. We’ve had several scholars come through who consider themselves “singers” and it fascinates me. I think it takes a lot of courage to sing. So when I found myself in a vehicle on the way down to Kentucky with a group of scholars who like to sing along to the radio, I found it pretty entertaining! Let’s just say that not only did I find myself loosening up and smiling a lot, I learned the words to some new songs as well (that’s as much as I can say about that). So it happened that this same “sing along group” would congregate in my vehicle throughout the summer. I’m now the proud owner of an aux cord and I have a monthly subscription to Spotify. So I can access our McNair playlist, of course!

funcarride

enjoying some tunes!

The reason I bring this whole thing up is that I think it’s good thing to loosen up sometimes. Let yourself go and just ease on into the moment. Let yourself be yourself. That’s what my scholars were doing as they all sang the Journey classic, Don’t Stop Believin’ at the top of their lungs. I’m still not singing full-out, but I’m loosening up if just a bit. And I’m definitely looking forward to that next car ride. Turns out my students have a ton to teach me + I love it.

Making me smile!

Mrs. Lundsted is light. She’s a classroom dream (my perception based on more than one kid coming through her doors). She brings light + love wherever she goes. And she also brings the substance, when it comes to getting down to business, engaging with her students and teaching them a thing or two.

I confess that I look forward to pick-up because I get to see Mrs. Lundsted dancing on the sidewalk. Now that might sound strange if you aren’t already “in the know” when it comes to our pick-up/drop-off area, but the teachers have taken to role of traffic control and crossing guard to help our good parents safely deliver and retrieve their chillies (good souls they are). No one embraces this role more wholly than Mrs. Lundsted.

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Mrs. Lundsted dancing up a storm.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t also give a BIG SHOUT OUT to Mr. Ruble and his ability to shuffle both cars + bodies along quite readily, all the while keeping a pretty even keel – something I know I would certainly have trouble doing!

But, back to Mrs. Lundsted. I’m writing this post because I think Mrs. Lundsted’s approach to life is worth highlighting. It’s worth passing along, letting it “rub off” on others around, letting folks know that it’s okay to dance in the car line. And that’s exactly what she does! And she’s got the moves, let me tell you. Fancy feet, freely sporting the hand sign for love to all that pass by, she helps the kiddos into the cars and touches them with her light.

Mrs. Rudert posted this lovely image the other day and Mrs. Lundsted “liked it.” Of course she did and I did too cause I want to have what she’s having. I want to radiate love + light and send out those positive vibes to whoever might be open to capturing them in return.

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Life’s too short to be any other way. <3