My Top 8 Self-Love Books

Over the past year I’ve been working hard on helping myself through many different outlets. One thing that I’ve spent a lot of time doing is reading different “self-help” books to learn different tips and perspectives. (Yes, there is a lot of controversy over self-help books, and I know they are not a cure to anything, but I have found little treasures in each book that I have used as mantras for my better life.

I’m going to share my top 8 that have helped me and that have been quite entertaining. Yes, most of these you’ve probably seen or heard of before. I know you’ve probably read 1 if not more of these books but I just thought I’d share with links to Amazon or Target where you can easily find and purchase them .

My Top 8:

  1. Freedom from Toxic Relationships by Avril Carruthers

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One day last summer I had an interesting therapy session where we talked about toxic relationships. I realized that I’ve surrounded my self in toxic relationships everywhere in my life and had been doing that for years. This book explains any and all relationships that exist in your life. It helps acknowledge if you are in a toxic relationship and then gives the steps on how to move forward. It helped me quit a coaching job that had me working with toxic people, something that I wanted to do for awhile but never had the guts to do.

2. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

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Because I’m prone to being in toxic relationships, I tend to have a problem with setting boundaries. I don’t like saying no. This book is for the “I can’t say no” person. It has some good tips and reminders on how to say no and how that will make you a happier person in the end. It isn’t an entirely religious book but different bible verses are immersed throughout if you like those little reminders.

3. Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani

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This book is written by the founder and CEO of the program “Girls Who Code.” Being a teacher, I’ve totally heard of her program but never knew how it was founded. This book is split into 3 parts talking about why girls are so hard on themselves, why being brave is important, and how to not worry about perfection and start being brave. I’ve been a perfectionist FOREVER so this book really spoke to me!

4. YOU are a BADASS by Jen Sincero

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To be honest, I’m only half way done with this one but, so far, I’m a fan. This one is split into 5 parts on different ways to love yourself no matter what. The main focus of this book is to remember how awesome you are. It’s the best reminder for everyone!

5. Grace not Perfection by Emily Ley

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This is another book split into different parts. The fun part about this one is that it’s interactive. Emily Ley designs clean cut planners and life journals and this book is set in that format. After each chapter there is a different journal or writing prompt that relates back to the chapter topic she talked about. (By the way, for all of you who love clean cut art and designs you’ll LOVE just looking at this book just as much as I do.)

6. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

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Yes this is probably the one you know/have heard of/have read. I love this book. Rachel is so real it’s ridiculous. I love how open and honest she is about EVERYTHING. I think that’s what makes her books so popular. She’s being real about life talking about lies we believe about our lives and ourselves and how to get over them. (BTW she also has a legitimate chapter about sex…it doesn’t get more real than that!)

7. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

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Rachel’s second book is all about achieving your goals and believing you can do them. She uses her own life as an example about building her own company and the obstacles she fought through to get where she is today. The first part of the book lists all of the excuses we use to not do something and how to let them go. Part two is all about behaviors to adopt in order to live a healthier life to achieve your goals. The final part is all about the skills you will acquire while you are working towards your goal. Her final message is about “believing in your dang self!” I love Rachel Hollis. She is my new role model in life.

**Fun fact: Rachel has a podcast called Rise and one of her episodes features Reshma Saujani talking about her book Brave, Not Perfect. It’s amazing!**

8. Staying Strong 365 Days a Year by Demi Lovato 

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This is a daily devotional book that includes a different quote (these could be bible verses, famous quotes from classic literature, song lyrics, or a quote from Demi herself), a paragraph explaining the quote, and a daily objective to embrace for the day. I’ve gone through this book for the past 3 years now and I love the messages she gives. Demi has had a hard life and she is very honest about her experiences and makes herself easy to relate to. I usually read my daily devotion before bed and try to implement the daily objective for the next day. That way I end each day with a positive message and a goal for the next day. I highly recommend this one!

This is me.

I’ve officially been on summer break for 5 days now and I’m finally getting caught up on my sleep! That has been the one thing I have been looking forward to the most that is for sure!! I figured since I haven’t had anything school related going on, I should write a little about myself to fully and finally share with all of you who I am. Whether it’s 100 people who read this or 0, I thought it would be good to share with you my story.

My name is Lisa, I’m 24 years old, and I am from Minnesota, born and raised. (I know I have made many references and posts about that before but just in case it wasn’t that obvious…) I grew up the next town over from where I am currently teaching. I had the opportunity to attend elementary school at the same place my mom worked at. At the time, she was a 3rd grade teacher as well. When I was in 3rd grade, I got to have my mom as my math and spelling teacher. I loved it! As I’ve said before, my mom is the main reason I wanted to become a teacher. Growing up she was also my track and field coach and my cross country coach. She was, and still is, my idol. Because of spending so much time together, we became super close.

With my mom, I grew up with my dad and my sister Lea all in the same house. We were a close small family of 4. I had the best childhood growing up. Family was always number 1 for my parents so we spent a lot of time together. My dad was an activities coordinator at the local jail for the next county over. Growing up all I knew was that he worked in a jail, it took years for me to actually understand what he did. When I was 13 he had an accident that shook our whole world. From the accident we discovered that he had a disease called Myasthenia Gravis (MG) which shuts down his immune system and deteriorates his muscles. Because of his diagnosis, he was put on disability leave from his job. This summer will be 11 years he has been out of work and “retired.” That was hard for us to handle but in the long run it made us stronger.

My little sister Lea is 20 years old. She has had her own struggles as well. I’ve posted about this before in my National Eating Disorder Awareness post, but when she was 15 she was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. She has struggled with this for almost 6 years now. As a family we had our own ups and downs understanding her struggle and adjusting to get her the help she needed. She is a HUGE part of my life, I love her more than anything else in the world. She is my best friend and in a weird way, I’ve always considered her to be my own child.

Between my dad and my sister, my life has been shaken up many times. I’ve had to understand that even in the most stable and loving households, terrible things can still happen. I’ve struggled understanding this, however. I have gone through my own rounds of depression. I struggled for most of my college years understanding my family while also trying to find myself. It was the hardest 4 years of my life.

I am not ashamed to admit that I have had issues with mental health and ideas of self harm. Through everything that has happened, I have also dealt with the loss of family members, friendships, and relationships. All of those had an impact on my struggle. When I was a junior in college the second boy who had ever shown an interest in me, ended things and I was not okay. I got very upset and tried to do things to myself that I wish I wouldn’t have tried. But I realized my struggle and sought the help I needed. After many MANY discussions with friends and family I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have been on antidepressants ever since.

I did okay for a few years and then my world became a mess and I went through the same cycle again. I had many highs around the time I turned 22. I graduated from college and gotten my dream job. I also found someone who I thought I had a big connection with and lost my virginity to him. It was a big deal. A few short weeks later though, I found out that boy didn’t feel the same way about me and I was not strong enough to handle that. I made the choice to be intimate with a person I adored and then I found out it wasn’t a mutual feeling. I struggled that summer with dealing with that event on top of getting ready for my first year of teaching. I was so thrown off by a boy that I couldn’t even enjoy my first few months of teaching ever. It got to the point that I threatened to end it all. I’m not proud of myself for those dark days and moments but they did happen and got me to the point I am at now. I did and said things I never should have said and almost lost the best friend I ever had by doing it. The boy was my best friend and I almost ruined that relationship by trying to manipulate him into wanting to be with me. It took many months but we worked through it and he helped me get the help I needed.

Besides that, my first year teaching was amazing but stressful (as all of you teachers know.) This also took a tole on my body. Summer 2018 came and I knew I needed to make a change in myself because I was tired of feeling so stressed, anxious, depressed, and tired all the time. This was when I discovered therapy. My doctor originally had advised going to talk to someone when I was first diagnosed but I was too afraid and ashamed. I finally took the step 3 years later and it has been a life saver.

I have been going to therapy for one whole year now to work on my anxiety and depressive tendencies. It has helped me accept who I am and has taught me how to cope when things get to be too much for me. It has also gotten me to start writing on here and to find joy in my life. I still struggle from time to time when things at home or at school are over the top but now I have ways to work through it.

I never wanted to share my personal life on here before because I don’t like talking about myself and I wanted to keep my page light but I thought it was about time for me to open up to anyone who decides to read what I write. I also wanted to share my story so anyone who has struggled with the same things can see that there is hope and ways to work through it. I would love to hear any other stories from those of you who have found peace and joy and who have advice for someone like me who still needs reminders every now and then. Struggling with mental health is not something to be ashamed of. It is something that needs to be shared and talked about to help others.

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So that’s me. I know this is not a normal post but I think it is fair to anyone who reads my blog to know the true me. Thank you for keeping up with me these past 6 months. I hope to continue to share about my life inside and outside of the classroom. I have some new blog ideas that I want to share this summer. They may or may not be school related but I think it’s time to add a bit more flavor to my topics.

NEDA Awareness Week 2019

For those of you who are used to my posts, this one will be a bit more serious than my normal ones. I’m not one to promote major things but this post will be about something near and dear to my heart.

Today, February 25th, is the start of the 2019 national eating disorder awareness week. About 6 1/2 years ago, when my little sister was 14 and just starting her freshman year of high school she was diagnosed with anorexia-nervosa. This was a huge moment in my family’s lives. Our small family of 4 has suffered over the years helping her and watching her go through this incredible trying time. I want to share our story with you so you can maybe see the signs that we missed and to give you a look at how someone so confident can fall into the belief that you need to be a size 0 to be pretty and to fit in.

It all began a little over 7 years ago. My sister and I come from a very fit and active family. Our mom is the cross country and track coach in our town and runs all the time (seriously, ALL the time) and our dad wakes up at 4 in the morning to go lift for a few hours at the local gym. This is something my sister and I thought was the norm. We would spend a few hours everyday after school going to practices with our mom and knew that our dad would be in bed by 7:00 every night so he could get up and work out early. When my sister was going into 1st grade and I was going into 5th grade we started competing in gymnastics. We never knew anything different. So, when we were old enough to officially join high school sports, it was a no brainer.

My sister, Lea, and I are 4 years apart in age but were 5 years apart in school because of our birthdays. When I was a senior in high school, Lea was on the varsity cross country team as an 8th grader. Because of our mom being the coach and an avid runner, we would train with her in the summers before season would start. My sister ran so much that summer that when the season started, she was talented enough to be on the varsity team. I, being the annoying older sister, was jealous that she was that talented (better than me) and did NOT understand her liking for running so much. The season ended and we had a few weeks to rest before gymnastics season began. The only problem was, my sister didn’t rest.

A normal high school athlete who goes season to season is supposed to spend the little time they have between sports, saving their body. They are given those weeks to do nothing because they physically need the rest and a break. When the season ended that year we had about 3 weeks before gymnastics started and my sister continued to run large amounts of mileage a day. By the end of the cross country season, varsity runners on our team could run up to 7 miles a day because they had built up their endurance so much. No matter what time it was or what the weather was like, Lea would go out for 3-7 mile runs every single day. I thought this would end when gymnastics started because she LOVED gymnastics but running slowly began to take over the one thing she truly loved.

Our practices would go from 3:00-5:30 everyday. If the clock said 5:31 and we were still practicing, she would begin to stress because she needed to go for a run (she also had a touch of OCD.) This happened all season long. Slowly but surely her favorite thing in the world (gymnastics) turned into a burden keeping her from running. By the end of that gymnastics season all she cared about was going for a run.

Her running became so obsessive towards the end of her 8th grade year that she was running a minimum of 10 miles per day, EVERYDAY! This was red flag number 1.

The next red flag came when she started watching the food channel and got interested in healthy cooking. She would meal prep with my mom on Sundays and taught my mom how to exchange normal ingredients to a healthier substitute for every meal we ate. (Needless to say, I HATED eating the food at my house because the “healthy version” of these meals were disgusting!)

This obsession continued as the school year turned into the summer. She would eat as little as possible while also only eating “healthy” foods for her body. It got to the point that she wouldn’t eat anything unless she prepared it herself.

**Side note: I don’t find anything wrong with eating healthy but I also believe that it should be done in a positive way and not as a way to lose weight. My mom always taught me that anything is good in moderation and I’ve always believed that.**

Between the running and the diet, during that summer she dropped significant weight. Being her big sister, I was extremely concerned but I could only say so much without being accused of being “dramatic” or “jealous” of her healthy lifestyle. Towards the end of that summer, right before her freshman year started, her hands began to turn purple. Now when I say purple, I mean PURPLE! Not the purple your hands get when they’re cold but a dark violet that never went away. Obviously, this was pretty concerning. She went to the doctor multiple times to figure out what was wrong. (The part of this story that gets me every time is how did those doctors not see how underweight and malnourished she was!?) Finally, after 2 months of visits, her pediatrician made the concern verbal about her weight. After that first comment, it was only a matter of weeks before she had her first stint at the Minnesota Children’s Hospital.

Throughout the years, my sister has been in 4 different treatment programs. Some effective and some that hurt her more than it helped her. She would have good months and then fall 10 steps behind and would end up in another inpatient facility. We’ve had some scary episodes with her heart and her breathing. She had to wear a telemetry pack around the hospital whenever she was admitted because her heart rate was dangerously low and the abnormalities with her heart were alarming. Her teenage years were lost because of this disease.

As the years have gone by things have dramatically changed because of this. My family is completely different. Our traditions and dynamics have changed because of having to make room for treatments and meal plans. Our sister relationship is also different. We have had so many highs and so many lows. We still go day by day sometimes because, I’ll be honest, I can’t handle the change that has happened. Lea’s personality was lost during those years of treatments. The sister that I knew, is gone. In her place is a new person that I’m still learning to be around and get to know. I love my sister more than anything else in the world but that doesn’t mean it’s easy and that I love every change that has happened.

After 6 1/2 long years of watching her go through this rollercoaster, I have a very hard time with anyone making comments about other people and their weight. I also have a very hard time when people make comments about their own weight and negative body perception. When someone makes a comment about going on a diet it makes me wonder what they may be thinking when they say that. We live in a world where we think that we HAVE to be a size 0 to be pretty. That is the most ridiculous thing in the world to me! Every person and every body is different. We all come from different places and are a combination of many different ethnicities. We’re not meant to be the same!

I shared this story because I hope that you can see how the signs were there. I hope that you can use what Lea went through, to help yourself if you need it. I shared with you the signs of anorexia in case a young student in your class needs someone to talk to and be there for them. I also share this with you because as the years have gone by, I have become much more aware of unhealthy relationships with food and working out. I hear little comments and see little actions that could possibly result in something much more serious. I want to prevent this from happening to anyone else. Look out for yourself and look out for those around you. Stop the stigma of the size 0 model who only eats kale for breakfast and spends 4 hours a day in the gym. That’s not normal or healthy. Be a shoulder for the ones who need you and stop the negative talk you may hear about anyone else. Be happy, love yourself, be proud of who you are and what you look like!

Gymnastics, Family, Yoga, and New Girl

Today is was a nice and relaxing day. It was the perfect Saturday after a full week back.

I started the day with a nice cup of coffee while lying on the couch. There’s nothing better than waking up and not having to do anything for awhile so you can just relax on the couch in your pajamas.

I then went to judge a gymnastics tournament. I LOVE gymnastics. I did gymnastics, I coach gymnastics, and I also judge. Some tournaments can be super long (and I was not really excited to spend my Saturday working) but the meet was only 2 hours long! I was in and out of the gym and it was still the afternoon. It was also a fun meet to work and watch.

The rest of the day was pretty great as well. I went to hang out with my family for a couple hours. I feel like I haven’t seen my family since Christmas since things have been so busy lately and I only live 15 minutes away from them! I love catching up with them and just spending time all together.

My yoga with Adrienne for the day was all about ease and serenity. It was a 30 minute meditation practice. It was all centered on the floor and was about mindfulness and taking things easy. After a long week of teaching, it’s just what I needed. I love finding my center and creating those positive vibes throughout my body.

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I then got some chores done around my apartment and now I’m ending the day watching some New Girl and drinking a glass of wine. Does anyone else love New Girl? Seriously, she is me to a tee. (I’ve always secretly wished I lived in an apartment with 3 guy roommates.)

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I forget how much I love Saturdays when there’s nothing to worry about and no school work to get caught up on. Sorry this post was kind of random but it was such a nice day I needed to write about it.

The Best of 2018

Every year I like to go back and reflect on the events that shaped this year into what it was (like most people out there). One year ago, I marked 2018 as the year of me. I wanted to push into the new year with my focus being on myself and taking care of myself. I’ve been able to fulfill that resolution through many different new things I have experienced and have done that I’ve never done before.

January 2018:

I started the year by creating a mantra for myself, “you are strong, you are beautiful, you are enough.” I got this idea from a daily devotional I received a few years ago. The book is called, “Staying Strong 365 days a Year,” written by Demi Lovato. Each day she gives a quote, her own background to the quote, and a goal written at the bottom of the page to keep in mind for that day. January 1st had the goal to create a mantra that is just yours. Hence, the mantra I created for myself. I tried hard to stick to this every day and to repeat it to myself when times were hard.

I also started the year by creating a bullet journal to keep track of 6 goals a month I had for myself and my feelings each day. Every day I recorded if I attained the goal for the day and my mood/feelings for that day. My goal was to do this every day for a whole year and I was successful in that goal!

February 2018:

Looking back, February was filled with gymnastics and nothing more. Every weekend was spent at a different tournament for the different teams I coached. It was a blast and an incredibly fun month, but needless to say that was the month I missed school the most for getting sick. Coincidence?

March 2018:

In March, I started a new coaching position coaching pole vault for my high school’s track team. This was a very new experience for me. I never did pole vault myself but the head coach (also being my mom) was desperate to find a pole vaulting coach and asked me because of my gymnastics background. It was definitely a job of firsts. I love to know what I’m doing and I like to know that I am good at my job. This was a job I had no idea what I was doing 90% of the time. I had to learn to be okay with that and learn along side the vaulters.

This was also the month that I was cut from my 4th grade teaching position in my hometown. This was very hard for me to work through. Our district was in incredible debt and myself, along with all of the other non tenure teachers in the district, knew we would not have our jobs the next school year. I knew this was coming but it was difficult to deal with nonetheless. Little did I know, this would end up being one of the best things to ever happen to me!

April 2018:

April was a month I spent a lot of time with my family. A major reason behind this was being able to coach alongside my mom each day. In April, my mom and I went to the NCAA Regional Gymnastics Tournament in Minneapolis, MN. We are both HUGE NCAA gymnastics fans so this was a treat for us. We got to watch the then ranked no. 1 team in the nation, Oklahoma and their star gymnast, Minnesota native and NCAA no. 1 ranked gymnast, Maggie Nichols.

May 2018:

May was CRAZY. My birthday is in May and this was a great day in itself. The day before my birthday I interviewed for a 3rd grade position in a neighboring town. The day I turned 23 my phone rang and I was offered the job. I was hesitant at first but I LOVE my school and my kids more than anything. On Mother’s Day, my younger sister and I decided to get matching sister tattoos. We both have a few and had always wanted to get ones that matched.

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I also made the decision to move out on my own. Halfway through the month I began looking for apartments and signed papers 2 days after I started looking. Our last day of school was May 31st and I moved into my new apartment June 1st.

June:

June was spent mostly furnishing and decorating my apartment. I spent many hours and tons of money creating the perfect space for myself. I live on my own which meant I was able to design it exactly how I wanted to. I also made the biggest decision of my life and decided it was time for me to sign up to see a therapist for my daily struggles. This was a HUGE step for me and it was one of the best decisions I had ever made.

July 2018:

July started off with my first ever therapy session. I’ve had a lot in the past 6 months and they have made a huge difference. It’s crazy for me to think back and see a turn in my mood and thoughts. I spent the month making the most of being with friends and family. I also competed in my first triathlon of the summer, which was also the hottest day of the entire summer! Finally, I ended the month by booking a trip for myself over spring break this year to London and Paris!! In one of my sessions, I was asked what was something I’d always wanted to do. Paris has always been a dream of mine. In a crazy turn of events I was told about a traveling company that takes groups of 18-29 year olds all over the world. I took the plunge and booked a trip for myself. Something I NEVER would have done!

August 2018:

I spent most of this month getting ready for school to start again in my new school. I had 2 weeks of workshop along with putting together my room. I had my 2nd triathlon of the summer and signed up to start doing Crossfit at my local gym. (Again, signing up was something I never had the guts to do but I did it anyways and love it!)

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September 2018:

September 1st I got to go to see the one and only Taylor Swift on her Reputation tour. I’m a die hard fan and have now officially seen her 4 different times. (Her music is my guilty pleasure!) September was also the month I officially started my new job!

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October 2018:

October was a month I centered around keeping myself healthy. I had a pretty tight routine of school, seeing my family, and working out. I worked on staying mindful and tried to implement that into my classroom with my kiddos.

November 2018:

High school gymnastics started!! I hadn’t been in the gym since the summer (which is new for me, I’m usually in there every day) so it was so great to be back! I had to adjust to this new crazy routine but it was worth it. I got to be back and work with girls I hadn’t seen since they were 10. I’m also a nerd when it comes to Harry Potter so I was in heaven when Crimes of Grindelwald came out. I definitely went to see that twice in the same week.

December 2018:

I started December with my shiny new blog. Even if no one reads my posts, there’s something very therapeutic about writing your thoughts down to share. I have loved being able to start this journey. Like December for most people, mine was centered around my friends and family (and gymnastics) with Christmas. As stressful as school had gotten during this month, I was able to spend my off time with people I love and who make me happy.

This year has been a year of many many firsts. Looking back, I accomplished my resolution of celebrating the year of myself. I was able to do new things for no one else but myself. I did my best to keep myself healthy and to try new things to keep me happy and healthy. Here’s to 2019, the year of adventure and happiness! I will start 2019 with the same mantra I started this past year with, I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough.

Honoring Yourself

My yoga practice today was pretty inspirational for me. As I have said in previous posts, I love to do Yoga with Adrienne videos on Youtube. I had planned to get way back into this during break, but with Christmas and seeing family it didn’t work out to be every day like I had planned. Today, however was a slow day so it was nice to be able to make the time to lay out my mat.

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I love to do her series videos. Each of these videos has an overall theme. I am currently starting her 2017 30 day challenge series focusing on revolution. The video I did today was Day 3 – Honor. This video had a very special meaning to me because it was centered on being mindful to honoring yourself.

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This is something I struggle with. I have struggled, and still struggle, with anxiety and depression. I tend to lose sight of loving and honoring myself. There are days that are very hard and others that are the best days ever. Either way, no matter if I’m super high or super low, I don’t honor myself.

The practice started in a comfortable seated position taking some mindful breaths. During this time, she encouraged the yogi to think about how they can honor themselves and honor their practice. During this time, I found my center of peace (my favorite part of yoga). In my mind, I thought about centering my practice around myself. As hard as some of the poses and positions may have been, I always went back to my thought that I was there to honor myself and it didn’t matter if I struggled or excelled.

It was a harder practice (partly because I’m not in daily yoga shape) than normal but I felt so rejuvenated and at peace afterwards. It was just what I needed. I have found that being mindful is just as calming for me as the yoga poses are. It’s the perfect mix. I highly recommend trying her out. Even if yoga isn’t your thing or you think you wouldn’t be good at it, try. Especially for a teacher, it is the stress reliever every educator needs after a long day.