Hiking

Give Love for a REAL Holiday Treat

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The holidays can be joyous, but they can also be the cause of tremendous stress. This holiday season, put a little soul into your step. Too much time is spent shopping, fighting the crowds and suddenly our stress levels go up. There is a lot of pressure behind gift giving. Your kids want things that are often more than you can afford and yet you hate to disappoint them. In some instances we overextend our budgets, which creates unnecessary stress and resentment all for the latest toy or gaming system that will be quickly forgotten and replaced with a new version within months. We start buying things for people without putting much thought into it just for the sake of crossing it off our to do lists. It almost feels obligatory to give "Aunt Suzy" a gift, so we send a coffee cake. But maybe Suzy is on a diet or does not even want to eat the cake. Now she feels stressed because you sent a cake that she feels that she needs to eat out of guilt. Why do we do this? What is it all about? 

The real meaning behind this holiday is the miracle that a baby was born. It is indeed a birthday celebration, but the materialism and commercialism have gotten blown so far out of proportion that rather than it bringing us joy, they often cause us stress. Did we get the right thing? Will "Aunt Suzy" like it?  

We also blow through the opening of Christmas presents and then often face a period of feeling let down, after which leads to self pity…. Wondering why your loved one did not get you the gift that really would have meant a lot to you, or that one thing that you really wanted... Please, take a moment to pause and reflect this holiday season. Really think about the difference between giving from obligation and giving from your heart. When we give from a place of pure love and give only with purpose, the gift will always be well received.  It will be a gift of love and joy! 

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Consider surrendering from the attachment to things. The idea that less is more is very fulfilling.  When I find the perfect gift for someone that I know is just sooo exciting, it does not matter to me if it is just a three dollar pair of socks or a major gift. It is all about the true JOY of giving without a single thought of what I may or may not get in return.

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The older I get, the less I want and need.  I realize that things do not bring lasting happiness. What really brings me joy are the people I am surrounded with and the wonderful memories that we make together. It truly is more about who is around the tree than what is under the tree. Our worth is not based on THINGS, it is based on memories, love and gratitude.

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So, pause and slow down. Breathe deeply and think of the people who have absolutely nothing this Christmas. Perhaps the best gift of all is giving your time to help out at a shelter, or donating a warm coat to someone in need? Teach your children to appreciate the lights, the meals and the special times that we spend together. Appreciate the little things rather than always wanting more. This is not only a Christmas sentiment, but something that matters all year round. Practice gratitude for what you do have and for your love. It is also ok to change your holiday traditions. We often get stuck in our ways of celebrating, but as our children grow up, consider allowing your traditions to evolve. The truth is that the holiday atmosphere changes as our children grow into young adults and presents naturally become less of a focus. So take the pressure off of yourself and go back to enjoying life.

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Accept what is in each moment, be aware of your surroundings, as well as your words and actions.  Practice kindness and spread holiday cheer. After all, as long as you are on the “NICE” list… you have nothing to fret about.  

Do not get your tinsel in a tangle.  Enjoy the holiday season!  Winter is a time of restoration for our bodies and our souls before emerging stronger in the spring. Rest, enjoy a good book or good music, pull out some board games and enjoy what you have rather than wanting more. 

Peace & Joy,

Libby

P.S. - Also remember and hold space for the people whose hearts ache more than normal during the holidays. It can be an emotionally painful and sometimes lonely time. Consider reaching out and including friends and neighbors in your family celebrations throughout the season. Remember the saying, "it takes a village," well it truly does and tis the season to give, but the gift of love, not things. 

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Would You Save a Life if You Could?

Most of you know me as a yoga instructor, but that is simply one aspect of my life. I invite you to  come along on my journey and get to know me better. And I would like to get to know you, as well.  I am a mother of two children and a daughter. Ten years ago, my dad, Bob Shively, was diagnosed with Myeloma, which is a cancer of the blood and bones. The "C" word is super scary, especially when in relation to yourself or a loved one. My father's diagnoses came as a shock. They gave him only a coulple years to live at best. The doctors said to expect his bones to deteriorate and that the only available treatment was pain management.  

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Well, let me tell you a little more about me. I am extremely close with my whole family. We have always been very supportive and loving. I am super sensative and also empathetic. When my dad was diagnosed, it felt like my world shattered as I am sure many of you can relate. I felt so helpless. All I could do was to pray and pray for a way to help him. Low and behold the very next day in the mail there was a flyer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society who offer a variety of fundraising events in honor of or in memory of anyone you know who has suffered from a blood or bone cancer of any type. I knew at that very moment I was up for the biggest challenge of my life! I quickly conspired and got my best friend, Katherine Shrout, to agree to "walk" a full 26.2 mile marathon with me in Honolulu, Hawaii!  We had a fundraising minimum to reach in exchange for our airfare and room for four nights, which was bonus motivation. So.... we thought who can't walk 26 miles? We've got this! Hahaha.... many laughs and many long training hours later we quickly started running more and more realizing how time consuming it was. Needless to say we BOTH finished the marathon. I love you Kat for pushing the limits with me, for standing by my side through tough challenges (including three broken bones in my foot) and for helping to save lives!

This year my daughter, Morgan, asked me to join the Team in Training Hike Yosemite Event on June 10th. Morgan is quickly becoming my new best friend as she grows up and becomes her own unique person. I am so proud of who she is and I love the way she makes me laugh. Her positive spirit will grace the world for years to come. But anyway, I realized that it being the ten year anniversary of my marathon that this is just perfect timining to celebrate my dad's life and the fact that he has truly beat all the odds. Ten years ago there was no treatment for his cancer besides pain management. Today, there are finally options that are available thanks to the research that was made possible by people like you who donate money to fight these diseases.

When Morgan and I decided to do the walk, the universe sent me another sign. My high school friend, Susan reached out to me. Her nephew, Paul Wilson, was in the hospital fighting for his life with leukemia. Susan asked if I would be willing to go to Children's Hospital to do some yoga with him just to change up his routine and relieve his boredom. I was honored. I realized this year I will hike and participate in this event not only in honor of my dad, but also to help find a cure for Paul's leukemia.  My goal is to use my able healthy body to give hope to these courageous people of all ages who are suffering and holding on with every ounce of dignity just to smile for their families. Cancer knows no age and no boundaries. It robs us of precious time, life and memories.  

If we have our health, we are truly blessed. Let this remind us to be grateful each and everyday. To hug the ones we love. To prioritize what is TRULY important. AND.... I invite you here and now to become a part of this quest to end cancer! I invite you to be a part of my team to help save the lives of those who are suffering! The money I raise goes to research, family support and patient care. I have seen results from the money that I raised ten years ago at the Honolulu Marathon. I am forever grateful and I will continue to pay it forward by doing all I possibly can when I can to advance cancer research for all of us.  

Sometimes it takes a villiage...but together we can move mountains!

All is possible!

In full gratitude,

Libby

P.S. - If you would like to support our team, you can learn more and donate at: http://pages.teamintraining.org/vtnt/Yosemit17/LMcAvoy

Morgan and my team name for this event is, "Not so Main Stream."

Or you too can register to participate in the Team in Training Hike Yosemite event at: http://www.teamintraining.org/events/hike-yosemite

Travel to Seek Answers Rather than Escape Reality

People travel for many reasons. I travel because it expands my mind and soothes my soul. It excites me to learn of new foods, cultures, history, topography and to see the amazing beauty the world has to offer!  

View before the tram ride down San Jacinto

View before the tram ride down San Jacinto

I recently visited my parents, who are wintering in Palm Springs, and while I was there I had a moment of awakening. I often spend time hiking or walking when I vacation. This trip I spent A LOT of time hiking. On my hikes I was exceptionally taken by the beauty around me. It dawned on my how fortunate I am to get to see so many places. I wondered, for a brief moment, how many people never leave the state in which they were born? And then I wondered if they are lucky enough to travel outside of their state, have they ever seen another country???? Our country, the United States of America is so vast and so beautiful. I have driven across it and seen the wide open wheat farms, the snow capped Rocky Mountains, many corn and soy farms, long straight highways and then the switchbacks - the Million Dollar Highway takes the cake for switchbacks! 

Family time in Palm Springs

I find inspiration in the beauty  and in how quickly the landscape can change! On this particular trip to Palm Springs, my daughter and I decided to take the tram up to Mt San Jacinto to hike! I should preface this by telling you that Los Angeles was having MAJOR floods and the mountains in Palm Springs had recieved significant snow. We dressed appropriately and were ready for extreme conditions, but when we saw people in line with sleds and snowboards we started to question ourselves with laughter and the anticipation of young children on Christmas Eve....

Sledding fun

Sledding fun

As we waited in line we read the brochure and decided we MIGHT need to rent snowshoes at the top! Well, in order to hike to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto (5 miles each direction), you need a permit from the ranger. So we proudly walked through the beautiful winter wonderland and past the merry sledders to the Rangers Station. I was properly dressed in hiking boots, however, Morgan was donning her cowgirl boots, which just makes this story all the better! The ranger says, "What can I do for ya ladies?" I replied, "I just need a permit for hiking." To which he had the gull to say, "And where do you think you girls are going in those cowgirl boots? No way are you getting a permit!" Well, if you know a couple things about me.... I am a Taurus, which means I am a little bull headed and when I decide I am going to do something look out Baby.... So I sweetly said, "Oh yes we are going to rent snowshoes. We just stopped to get our permit and a map first so if you could just tell me the way that would be great!" I couldn't believe it but it actually worked! He said, "Ok... if you rent the snowshoes, I will grant you the permit, BUT NO WAY are you going to the top! Turn around at the Mountain Lion sign. After that the trail gets very hard to follow being covered in snow and you girls could get lost." I asked how much snow there actually was and was blown away! There was four feet of fresh snow and ten FEET of snow in total. Morgan and I headed out on our adventure and it was one of the most amazing hikes I have ever completed. For full disclosure, and I apologize to you Mr Ranger, we went slightly past the Mountain Lion sign!!! However, once we could no longer safely follow a trail we turned around! We were only about 1.5 miles from the peak, but safety is paramount. Especially in those conditions! 

The sun was so bright and beautiful we even peeled layers of clothing, but check out the snow shoes!!!!! And... Morgan's cowgirl boots 😂

The sun was so bright and beautiful we even peeled layers of clothing, but check out the snow shoes!!!!! And... Morgan's cowgirl boots 😂

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A few days later we were in Joshua Tree surrounded by beautiful mysterious magical trees, interesting rock formations and a huge variety of cacti. Stunning in its own way!

Joshua Tree Cacti Garden

Joshua Tree Cacti Garden

Blooming cacti... beauty everywhere

Blooming cacti... beauty everywhere

It wouldn't be a yoga blog without ONE yoga pose! 

It wouldn't be a yoga blog without ONE yoga pose! 

This is a Joshua Tree

This is a Joshua Tree

From Joshua Tree we drove Phoenix Arizona, stayed with good friends and hiked Camel Back Mountain. A completely different experience once again. Humbled by the boulders and steep elevation, we were still determined to reach the top. Though exhausted, we pushed through our fatigue and were rewarded with spectacular views the city below and the surrounding mountains! Although it was considered an "expert" hike, it was so wonderful to see people of ALL ages enjoying it!  

Echo Trail Head at Camelback. The hardest climbs bring the greatest rewards! 

Echo Trail Head at Camelback. The hardest climbs bring the greatest rewards! 

One amazing thing I observed everywhere we visited on this trip was how friendly and generally upbeat people were. Maybe it was the sunshine or the beautiful surroundings... but I was reminded of what a beautiful country I live in and what beautiful people are all around. It is up to us to see the beauty.  

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If you do not get the chance to travel, simply look at photos online and educate yourself with what exists outside of your box. Open your mind. Dream really big. Expand your reality! That is what travel does for me! These days it is possible to see these beautiful places online right from your own home with an open mind and your imagination!

Happy travels,

Libby 

 

P.S. - Please comment on your personal travel experiences; places you recommend, places you dream of someday seeing..... the more we share together, the more we learn and the more we raise the energy! The Universe WILL RESPOND!