Category Archives: Health & Wellness

What are you afraid of?

What is one thing in your life right now that you are afraid of?

Is it the fear of losing someone you love? What about making a decision that would lead to a major life change? There is also the fear of not completing a task you poured your heart and soul into. We experience fear in pursuing our dreams, because we think we might fail. On top of that we experience (or at least I do) the fear of certain (mostly negative) emotions. We fear falling in love because we might get hurt; and also fear losing that person we love because we know damn well that it’s always going to hurt.

Across the board, fear can be incredibly paralyzing. But I hope this post will give you some insight on how to move beyond fear.

The other night I was out to dinner with some friends when the topic of Ironman came up. Beyond lots of hours of training, we were questioning what does it take to complete an Ironman? We concluded that it requires a great deal of mental agility and toughness and my friend Milly (runner and triathlete extraordinaire!) and I both discovered that we each wrote down lists of our greatest fears before race day. Especially in that final month.

I was instructed to do this by my life coach and found it to be incredibly resourceful in learning to let go of some of the fear I was holding onto so tightly. Fear that then resulted in anxiety and unwanted stress. Once everything was down on paper though I was able to take on more of an “OK, so what?” attitude about my fear of failure. It didn’t seem so bad after all.

I also discovered that my greatest fear pertaining to Ironman was far more than simply not finishing the event, failing, or not getting injured. No, my greatest fear was what will people think if I don’t finish… what will people think if I fail? And, who am I going to disappoint if I don’t finish?

It took several discussions, lots of writing, and a solid amount of introspection to start to believe … So What? If I didn’t finish, I would be upset, but I knew that I would eventually get back on the horse and try again. If I disappointed people then perhaps they aren’t the people I want to hold close in my life. Most of you know that I DID finish Ironman but having written down that list of fears took a huge burden off my shoulders on race day.

I recognized that I am human and I am far from perfect. I acknowledged the fact that if I did not finish Ironman, there was still so much for me to gain and to learn from the experience.

I know that if I ever do sign up for another Ironman, these fears will cross my mind again. But I’m ready to confront them.

So, what are you afraid of? We all have fear – especially when we are confronting something that is meaningful and important to us. Why not write it all down and go through each fear, one at a time – you will discover what is at the root of this fear and that maybe it’s not so terrifying after all. This could lead to new opportunity, a major life change, or experiencing your life’s journey a little bit deeper.

If you’re still feeling stuck, send me an email at maggie.converse@gmail.com and we can set up a free coaching consult.

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Radiant Moments on Retreat

“Ah-ha” Moments from the Radiant Retreat 2008…

When asked about my biggest “a-ha moment” on the Radiant Retreat, I wrote this story:

In 3rd grade, we were prompted to write on a 3×5 card “Who is your hero and why?”

I knew my answer immediately: my cousin Jennifer.

As an eight-year-old the answer to “why” was: because she is an amateur actor. In actuality Jen was a professional actor, I just thought she was too young to be a professional. But what I really meant was: I looked up to her – in the highest way possible.

Jennifer inspired me because she was out there on her own in the world doing what moved her and sparked her soul. It was abundantly clear to my little 3rd grade brain that Jennifer was following her heroic path. Maybe it was the way she talked to me, the smile that beamed from her face, or the way she laughed with my parents about what it’s like to be an actor – but you could just tell.

Twenty years later and I seized the opportunity to practice yoga with Jen and attend the Radiant Retreat. I was sure my yoga asana practice would totally blossom and morph into an outer worldly experience. I was ready to take on all the handstands, inversions, backbends, and arm balances. I was going to work my butt off to “master” them all. But what happened on the Radiant Retreat was so much more rocking than a blossoming asana practice.

Conquering fancy poses became less of a priority. Jen’s yoga classes served to put my body and mind at ease. I opened up in an entirely new way and for the first time, I wrote things true to my soul and SHARED them. The first time I read out loud to the group my voice quivered but I began to soak in all that I was expressing; my vulnerability and exceptional truth.

I read out loud and proud. I laughed and cried and shared the 3rd-grade hero story with the group. And at the center of it all, I shared that I was committing to a strong desire to get to know my extended family a little better. And wasn’t it superb that they, my aunt and cousins, could be there?

The retreat gave me one week to feel safe in a beautiful space, and the truth and writing poured right out. And hasn’t stopped since.

And here is Jennifer’s response:

In 2008, my cousin, Maggie Converse, came on the Radiant Retreat and impossible things started becoming possible.

One blue sky Tulum morning after sunrise and meditation, all 30 of us stood in a Gratitude circle on the beach (an optional opportunity to share inspiration or gratitude), and Maggie spoke,

“I’m grateful for Jennifer. During a meditation, she came to mind as one of my hero’s…”

I missed most of what she said, too busy thinking, Really? Am I your hero? You came all the way to Tulum, age 24, and took a leap of faith. That’s inspiring.

Being “the oldest sister” in my family, I’m used to being the shepherdess, babysitter, take-charge chic and caretaker and I’d never thought of myself as a hero.

Maggie continued, finding the right words,

“I wanted to be closer to people in my family and that’s part of why I came on the retreat. So, it’s great to get closer to Jennifer, Kate (my cousin) and Kitsie (my Aunt) and to know my family…better.”

Maggie was right: our extended family wasn’t close. Divorced, remarried or spread across the map. Over the years, we saw one another at weddings and funerals and a few Thanksgivings. It was no one’s fault. My grandmother had been the hub and once she past the spokes had no center.

“Thank you,” I said, swallowing and digging my feet deeper into the sand. Absorbing the waves and sun: Hero, retreat leader, and family.

It felt magnificent to hear Maggie articulate what I’d wanted, thought and written in my journal years before and yet never knew how to change.

We stood together under the sun and knowing that impossible things can happen before breakfast.

And someone added, “I’m super excited for breakfast and a bowl of granola. This place is paradise. It sure beats Philly in March!”

When the circle broke up, I hugged Maggie and said, “Thank you for being my hero. And saying what I’ve been feeling for years. I love you.”

Jennifer & Maggie at Sandy Neck, Summer 2014

Jennifer & Maggie at Sandy Neck, Summer 2014

Radiant Retreat, Tulum, Mexico, March 21-28, 2015  – Register Now

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Running for Moments of Stillness

3 mile run, 10 minutes of yoga, and 5 minute meditation. What a way to start a Monday! Have you ever tried meditation after your run?

My Monday started at 5AM with the sound of my alarm. Time to start the day with some early-bird yoga students immediately followed by a doctor’s appoint. Was I kidding myself when I planned my day? I sometimes operate in this “go, go, go!” mentality and forget to stop and pause for a minute …

Luckily I blocked out a 2 hour chunk of time to work from home and squeeze in a quick run, just to get the blood pumping. I left for my run as I normally do at the beginning of the week – the mantra is usually “just go easy” or “run as you feel.” It sets the tone for the lowest pressure possible which is helpful at the beginning of the week.

On this particular Monday my stride felt strong and purposeful (could have been those new running shoes I just purchased) and I even found a new route near my home – with minimal hills! (This is a challenge as we live on a very steep hill.)

When I returned home, instead of my usual routine of email check, Facebook check, second email check, stuff something in my face, drink some fluids, OK time to shower!, I sat on the floor and set my phone timer for 10 minutes. I did 10 minutes of yoga which always includes my favorite post-run stretches. And then something pretty cool happened. When I was done with the yoga I just felt like sitting.

I set my alarm again for 5 minutes and sat for a meditation. Sweat was still dripping down my face and I could feel the uncomfortable dampness of my shirt but it felt so sweet to be in stillness after this incredible exertion of energy and effort. Yin and yang. One extreme to the next. But in that meditation I observed: the energy from my run still pulsating through my body, how warm I felt, my stinky sweaty run clothes, and even while sitting in stillness how motivated and energized I felt.

When we can sneak in these little moments of stillness for ourselves and just be witness to all that is going on within us, we start to move forward in life with a little more clarity and steadiness. Maybe when we learn to fit in a short meditation after a run we start to appreciate all that we have accomplished up to that very moment, despite our grander goals. Maybe then we can fit in a short meditation before a work meeting or a challenging conversation with a loved-one.

I don’t normally do this after a run and I would like to make an effort to do it regularly. We are all pressed for time, ALL THE TIME, it seems. But even if you can take 1, 3, or 5 minutes after your run for this meditation I think you will begin to be a little kinder to yourself and appreciate all that your beautiful body is capable of. Even on those “bad run” days.

Interested in adding a little meditation into your running routine? Follow these simple steps or email me for a little extra guidance!

  1. Run … for any amount of time you have planned or just run for fun for as long as you feel!
  2. Yoga … set your timer for 5-10 minutes and go through some basic yoga stretches. Think hips, quads, hamstrings, and back. Or just do legs up the wall.
  3. Meditate … find a comfortable seat, legs up the wall, or lie down. Set your alarm, close your eyes, and focus on your breath and your body. Notice each and every little sensation. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting out there today!

Let me know how your run + yoga + meditation experience goes. What was easy? What was challenging? Post your comments and questions here!

XO Maggie

 

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Announcing: the Radiant Retreat, March 21-28, 2015

Announcing the Radiant Retreat, March 21-28, 2015 to Tulum, Mexico, Founded by Jennifer Schelter, and assisted by yoga teacher and health coach, Maggie Converse.

RR2015The Radiant Retreat is an internationally recognized week-long retreat to the stunning natural paradise of the Mayan Riviera.

The retreat enhances self-care, connection, rejuvenation, fun, and creativity.

The daily schedule includes: mindfulness meditation, yoga (for all levels), creative writing – memoir, poetry or letter writing, one-on-one instruction, healthy meals, free time, and relaxation.

Jennifer and I look forward to sharing elements of the retreat and journey over the next 6 months, as we all begin to prepare all the elements for your adventure to the Radiant Retreat in Tulum.

Take a peek at your calendar for March 2015.

Just planting the seed, and reminding you that come March, you could be packing your bags for Tulum.

Share this adventure and enjoy the ride.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Click here for full details on the Radiant Retreat.

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Home Yoga Challenge

photoIntroducing … The Home Yoga Challenge! #MaggiesYogaChallenge

 

Does a home yoga practice intimidate you? Maybe it’s because of an impression that you MUST be able to do certain poses. Or maybe it’s because you just don’t have the time.

 

Can you lie on your back with your legs up the wall or stand on one leg and focus on your breath? Can you carve out 5-10 minutes any time of day that are just for you?

 

If you answered yes to both those questions then you most certainly can do a home yoga practice. And, starting on Monday July 28, I am starting the Home Yoga Challenge for 10 Days!

 

During the 10 Day Challenge we will:

  • Set aside at least 5 minutes for our home practice (see guidelines for a home practice in my blog post here)
  • Post a photo of your practice space or a photo of you in a pose on FB, Twitter, or Instagram
  • Use hashtag #MaggiesYogaChallenge and tag my FB Page, Twitter (@MaggieConverse), or Instagram (@maggieconverseyoga)

 

At the end I will be giving away a month of free health coaching to one lucky participant!! I hope you will join me on the mat (or carpet or wood floor or grass…) So — Who’s in??? XO

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Going Gluten-Free and a New Recipe

Usually my Saturday post-run ritual includes a scrumptious quinoa cookie from SoNo Baking Company. During that last mile I start to daydream and it’s the thought of that cookie that gets me up that final hill on South Maple Ave. Today however, that changed. It dawned on me that a gluten-free diet does NOT include my most favorite cookie.

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Allow me to back-track just a little: two weeks ago I had another debilitating migraine that lasted over 48 hours and almost kept me from missing a very important family event. I was left feeling defeated and disappointed: I missed time with family visiting town, canceled several yoga sessions, and had to sub out my Saturday morning class.

Here’s where gluten-free enters the picture: by chance I had several conversations at this family gathering with family members and long-time family friends about their experiences with a gluten-free diet. One in particular about how it transformed someone’s experiences with … debilitating migraines. It was then and there that I decided I would give it a try (after of course I indulged in a mini goat cheese tart) for one month.

Today is Day 11. I can’t say there are any noticeable effects on my migraines, it is too soon to tell. But I am willing to give this a shot, I am up for the challenge. And while I cannot indulge in my beloved quinoa cookies, there is plenty that I still CAN eat – like this easy and delicious roasted chicken legs recipe I found on foodandwine.com. Bonus: it also has kale!

Now to find a quinoa cookie gluten-free substitute. Any suggestions?

Roasted Chicken Legs with Potatoes and Kale

  • 1 1/2 pounds tender, young kale, stems and inner ribs removed
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 whole chicken legs (about 10 ounces each)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
    1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a very large roasting pan, toss the kale, potatoes and onion with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer.
    2. Set the chicken on a cutting board, skin side down. Slice halfway through the joint between the drumsticks and thighs. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the paprika and set on top of the vegetables.
    3. Cover the pan with foil. Roast the chicken in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 30 minutes longer, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the chicken to plates and spoon the vegetables alongside. Serve with lemon wedges.
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Because none of us are perfect …

I’m going to share with you EXACTLY how I’m feeling today.

I have been bogged down with the overwhelming feeling of being … overwhelmed. Add to that a healthy dose of anxiety.

I feel like I am spread so thin. I don’t know if it’s because I actually AM spread thin, or if I need to work on getting even MORE organized. But I feel like I have a long list of to-do’s, a long list of people to catch up with and visit, and a relationship that I also want to make sure I devote enough attention to.

The funny thing is … I also want to work more. I want to teach and coach more and have more projects that are a labor of love.

I wrote down a to-do list of only the day’s tasks but what is heavily weighing on me is that I keep missing time with friends and family – whether it’s because of work or a migraine (this happened recently), I just feel like I am not doing enough and not being in enough places at once. I am overwhelmed with guilt. And I find myself in a place where I do not know how to create balance.

This drives me up the wall because I want to help others create balance. But let’s face it, I can’t always walk the talk, hard as I may try. One thing I am doing is taking action and doing something purely for myself to help manage the stress that I create.

Action Step One: I made an appointment for acu-pressure this afternoon because I know that always helps me calm down and see the world through clear eyes and a clearer mind.

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How to Like Your Body … a FREE workshop

Body Image is a hot topic today. It would be wonderful if we could wave a magic wand and love everything about ourselves, but even just starting to LIKE ourselves is a huge challenge. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process.

Yoga was a huge catalyst that allowed me to shift the way I looked at my body. I struggled with bulimia for several years in college and it was diving deep into a yoga practice that finally allowed for that shift to happen:

I remember looking at my thighs in one class. Those thighs I hated for so long — I used to look at my thighs when I would sit in a chair and feel so horrible about myself because of the way they splayed out and almost tripled (or so I thought) in size.  I forever wanted to transform them into tiny sticks and for the first time ever I said “WOW. Those are my amazing thighs! They do so much for me!”

It was at this point where I started to finally accept myself, little by little, and respect myself so much so that I opened doors for even more change to happen.

I want to share some of my story, some of my experience, and help you begin to like your body from the inside out. I hope you will consider joining me for this free workshop on June 30th from 5:00-6:30pm. We will meet at M3Yoga Studio, 44 Main St., Westport, CT.

Please RSVP for your free tickets by clicking here. For those who cannot attend but are interested in learning more about the work that I do, please email me at maggie.converse@gmail.com

With Love,
Maggie

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Apparently I haven’t made myself clear … Yoga Saved Me

I was at dinner a few weeks ago with Brett and some friends. We were having a great time, laughing and joking around about … eating disorders. To be absolutely specific, it was about making yourself throw up and that transitioned to eating disorders.

I guess, thank god, I am finally at a point in my life where sometimes, SOMETIMES, I can step back and poke fun of my former self and the way that I used to operate. The harsh reality is that when you are dealing with an eating disorder, the disorder itself is not so funny, and life becomes less funny because you are constantly criticizing yourself.

treestluciaBut I digress … as the conversation started to get a little more personal, my friend paused and then asked me, “Maggie how did you get over all your stuff?” In this case “stuff” was keyword for “bulimia.”

“Yoga,” I replied.

“What? Brett?” my friend asked, misunderstanding my mumbled answer amidst the chaotic restaurant.

“No, I got over all my stuff because of my yoga practice,” I replied, a little bit louder now.

Thinking to myself, isn’t it obvious? Doesn’t everybody know that? But clearly that is not the case because I have never truly shared my full story, except for with a select few.

I’m still building up the confidence to really let it all out but even saying it at the dinner table that night, where two people who were not privy to my triumph over an eating disorder with yoga, made me flush with pride.

So this is me starting to open myself up and share my story with you. Finally.

 

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Work/Life/Play Balance: The never-ending saga

I love this quote so much and wish we could all (myself included) really take these words to heart and remember to PLAY more.

The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression. Respecting our biologically programmed need for play can transform work. It can bring back excitement and newness to our job. Play helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft, and is an essential part of the creative process. Most important, true play that comes from our own inner needs and desires is the only path to finding lasting joy and satisfaction in our work. In the long run, work does not work without play.
– Dr. Stuart Brown featured in Brené Brown‘s The Gifts of Imperfection

I’m going to make a conscious effort this summer to PLAY more. Who’s with me? How will you play?

Vacation with a dear friend means Play!

Vacation with a dear friend means Play!

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