The Path and The Obstacles + Human Connection

One of the things that nurtures us, as humans, is storytelling, sharing, listening, responding, and caring about each others experience brings us close and nurtures connection when we are able to relate to an experience shared by another.  Today, I want to do just that, share with you a little bit about how we are here together, we would love to hear your slice of the story too so once you’ve had a chance to read through, please scroll down and let me know how you found me here. 

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A year ago I was in a dark place feeling overwhelmed, unheard, living in financial and physical chaos.  From the outside it might have looked different but in my head, my life felt completely out of my control. 

Today things are really different.

I’ve found a path that helps me clarify my mission, understand what brings me joy, identify my life’s work and communicate all of this clearly. I’ve realized amazing potential in all of my awesome online relationships with like-minded change-makers, coaches, mentors, students, and YOU.  My mindset has changed to one of clarity, compassion, self-love, empowerment and action.  My focus is to connect, collaborate and share with you all the amazing resources gathered along the way .  I am looking forward to learning your struggles, challenges and triumphs so together we can use this platform to inspire each other, keep each other accountable, allow each other to be vulnerable, and show support as we collectively work toward our best most dreamy futures. 

A year ago, I sat crying in the grocery store parking lot after my first, online business coach interview in my quest for the perfect professional to help me out of the darkness and into a new season.  During the interview I spent most of the 30 minute conversation finger pointing, frustrated, and angrily blaming others for the place I found myself.  My life was in financial and physical chaos, my health was suffering, the despair I felt had control of my thoughts most of the time and the conversation I had with this interview made me see clearly how I had limited my own ability to be successful.  When I hung up I felt overcome with embarrassment.  What was I even thinking?  How could all the sadness and chaos in my life be someone else’s fault? I had been spiraling downward and that first conversation, that interview with the coach I wound up hiring, slapped me in the face.  That slap made me realize that my future held potential.  I could change my path.

In addition to that parking lot awakening, and the work that followed with Agnes Kowalski, you know what saved me?  

Books and Podcasts.

The first book that opened my eyes to owning the power to change my situation was You Are A Badass At Making Money, by Jen Sincero.  I had stumbled across her by accident in December 2017 – my morning travel groove had changed from riding my ebike to and from work to commuting with my daughter to her new school.  While I really missed my morning ride the school situation far outweighed that loss – and the drive allowed me to get caught up on all the latest top-40 hits with my daughter as DJ AND to listen to books – as I was dashing out the door from work one afternoon I opened Overdrive (a free audio book app) to download something new to listen to and one of the ‘suggestions’ was her book.  Without really looking at it – and just finding the humor in her title – I hit the download button, gathered my things, and hopping in the car to listen while I drove to pick up.  By the time Violet landed shot-gun, I was transfixed!  It is true to say that this book changed my life.  Suddenly there was a flicker of hope in the thoughts whirling around my head!  Violet had to take a break from her DJ-ing as I actively listened – straight through. 

Have you had such an epiphany, when you just know that the change of course is right for you?

In addition to being super funny, Jen Sincero, stands out to me.  She’s not a millennial like other online mentors I have found.  She is my age, very entertaining, a great writer, and we share similarities in our upbringing and history.  Jen allowed me to believe that if she could make great shift happen in her life that I could do the same.  She inspired my self-care ritual in journaling, meditation, mantras, and my yoga practice.  Once I was able to see beyond my suffering, beyond the chaos, ill health, self-doubt, and despair, things began to shift.  That shift has continued and grown.  Here I am one year later, in a place of exciting growth, wonderful new connections, contentedness and heartfelt gratitude.  I mean – holy shit!  Thinking back as I write this - the distance I have traveled is huge. 

In the last 15 months I have manifested the sale of the ‘albatross’ building where my studio was housed that we had on the market for 5 years.  The building we literally couldn’t GIVE away.

I changed the way I see my future, the way I see money and how to communicate with heartfelt authenticity here online. The resulting growing online community of like-minded, creative thinking, craft artists is blowing me away!  (high-fives all around!)  

My amazing professional team, of creative-thinking doers, helps me run my company and build my cohesive brand that encompasses each aspect of my life’s work – (making, teaching, recycling, empowering)

Each day presents opportunities to help me be more woke and create a super fun, exciting, fulfilling, nourishing, finically viable life.  Scroll down and leave a comment – tell me something that has helped you out of the dark, or ask me a question that might prompt a future post here.

Now, back to cleaning, organizing, and setting up our new studio.  More on that another day. 

Take a look at my entire reading list HERE.

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Reusing Old Yoga Mats - And Eco-Friendly Brands

There are so many ways to upcyle random items, items that you use frequently that wear down over time, and just things you probably shouldn’t have purchased in the first place. Yoga mats contribute to your overall wellbeing by acting as the foundation of your meditative yoga practice. BUT - they are made of plastic, making them hard on the environment when they wear down and are thrown away. They are not biodegradable in the least. Keeping that in mind, here is a curated list of things you can do with old, worn out yoga mats!

  1. Use as Cat and Dog Food Bowl Holders - You can cut your yoga mats to size and place them underneath your dog and cat food and water bowls. It keeps them from slipping around, and is the perfect thing to catch any stray food from your little furry messy eaters.

  2. Use as Cabinet Liners - As long as you clean them well enough, you can use your old yoga mat as a cabinet liner. If you have one of the thicker mats that may be tricky, but the less expensive thin mats that tend to get worn down are perfect for your spice cabinet or the cabinet that holds your dinnerware because it’ll keep things from slipping around!

  3. Rug Gripper - You can cut your yoga mat into squares and use it underneath a large rug. If it’s a smaller rug, you may not have to cut it at all!

  4. Use It as a Protector For Your Car - Whether you’re taking your dogs, or your kids, on a hike, your car can become an absolute mess. Place old yoga mats on the floor and hose off after! If your dog is hopping in, you can drape an old mat across the seats. Hose off later, air dry, and you’re good to go for next time.

  5. Use as a Crafting Mat - If you tend to get a little messy while painting, crafting, using glue, etc… you can place this underneath your work surface so you don’t stain up your nice wood table. If you have kids, you can place this beneath them on any days of paint or play dough to keep your carpet and tables clean!

There are 5 super simple ways to upcycle old yoga mats. Reuse, and they don’t end up in the landfill like everything else! Here are some awesome eco-friendly yoga mats for consideration once your old one wears out.

  1. Yoloha Mats - ($119) - Yoloha Mats use recycled cork as a healthier, eco-friendly alternative to a traditional plastic mat.

  2. Jade Yoga Mats - ($39 - $179) - Jade Yoga mats are made in a sustainable manner with natural rubber tapped from rubber trees - which is a renewable resource. Also - Jade plants a tree for every yoga mat sold!

  3. Manduka Mats - ($64) - Manduka mats are made from tree rubber, and no toxic chemicals have gone into them. They also use natural cotton fibers for reinforcement.

  4. Barefoot Yoga - ($90) - The Original eco-mat is made from all natural rubber and jute fiber. Their website says it might actually feel like you are walking barefoot on the Earth.

  5. Dragonfly TPE Lite Yoga Mat - ($43) - This mat is made from TPE and is biodegradable, non-toxic, and recyclable!

Team Member SPOTLIGHT | Brooke Bridges

My team is an amazing carefully selected handful of magic-makers!  I love to acknowledge their skill, encourage their passion and share with you what they bring to Team Crispinaffrench.  It is always so nice to have a name and a face that match up with the interactions we share here.  My goal to share behind the scenes, real-life business acumen begins with team introductions – there is just no way I could be where I am today without the amazing talents of these special people!  Today we kick off a new feature, introducing each team member here.  So, my friends, fans, followers and family, this is Brooke Bridges!  She started with me as my Visual Communications Manager and has morphed into much more than that.  While you delve into learning all about what Brooke brings to the table, let me ponder an appropriate title for this gorgeous powerhouse!

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Hi All! My name is Brooke Bridges. I do quite a lot over here at CRISPINA, and I think one of the reasons I resonate so greatly with Crispina and her work is due to what I accomplish and the dreams I have in my own life.

I am originally from Los Angeles California and I moved to the Berkshires in October of 2017. I moved here because I needed a change. Los Angeles just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. From the traffic, to the fast-paced lifestyle… I felt like I needed to slow down to truly get in touch with myself. The Berkshires is the perfect place for that. My mother grew up in Lee, and had moved back a couple years prior and had been trying to get me out this way ever since. Being in the entertainment industry I didn’t want to leave it behind; but finally I obliged.

The year that I got here was incredibly difficult for me. The major shift in environment, in people, and in career was shocking to my system. I started off at Canyon Ranch because I have years of hospitality industry experience, and after a year of being there I knew it was time to leave.

That’s when I met Crispina! I was doing a photoshoot for Braiseworthy - a meal prep food company based in Pittsfield, as I am also a photographer, and Crispina walked in to try some of the food. That’s when she asked me

“Hey photographer girl, can you shoot anything other than food?”

And I could, so I applied for the open position, and here I am.

Now, my main focus in my life is mental health. Like I previously mentioned about getting here, and the shock to my system, it was also quite the downward spiral for me. I went into a deep depression in the middle of winter, and didn’t think I’d make it out. I realized at a certain point that it was do or die - I had to decide whether or not I could survive. I know that sounds dramatic, but when you’re in the depths of depression, anxiety, hopelessness…nothing makes sense anymore.

I decided that day that I’d take the 2.5 hour trip to Belmont and check myself in to a 2-week residential treatment facility. I had been given a diagnosis, and I took that and ran with it - finding a way to heal myself so that I can live the life I’ve always wanted to. That’s also when I started knitting. Knitting was the mindfulness practice I decided to use during our quiet mindfulness practice times at the residential center. That’s also when I realized that crafting and making with your hands is about much more than just making. It’s about mindfulness and connection to your center. It’s a meditative practice.

From there, I built up a toolbox of clinical skills, spiritual practices, health + wellness skills, and I paid a lot of attention to my diet and my nutritional needs. I am also a personal chef at Your In-Home Chef, where I focus more on the whole person, rather than simply the food in order to lose a couple of pounds. Our mental health is truly the only thing we need to focus on. When that is taken care of, everything else seems to fall into place.

Now, I am also a mental health speaker. I speak primarily to children aged 11-17, or middle school and high school, and their parents, teachers, athletic directors, school nurses, etc. through an organization called Minding Your Mind.

Crispina and I share many of the same practices such as meditation, yoga and fitness, healthy eating, intentional living, and crafting. Those are things I resonate with deeply that have helped me survive the battle that mental illness presents in one’s life. With those skills I share my story in hopes that what I’ve learned and the darkness I have gone through will help others avoid that same darkness, and utilize skills that will truly benefit them in the long run!

If you know of any schools or organizations either in New England, or in California (I will be living bicoastal) that could benefit from these presentations, please let me know! I am always seeking to speak more, to share my knowledge, and to help others improve their quality of life by gaining access to valuable resources.

Take a look at my speaking website here:

www.brookemariebridges.com

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Coming Full Circle

Hey!  Welcome aboard, if you are new to my page! 

If you have been around for a while, you rock!  Thank you!  Either way, I wanted to share a little story with you today.

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I have loved teaching creative textile recycling for more than 12 years. During that time, many, like the majority of my students have been transformed by their experience in my classroom.  As I am sifting through boxes as we prepare to move (it’s a local move but purging is involved none-the-less) I came across a swollen folder FULL of student evaluations that stretch back years.  As I flipped through reading all the heartfelt introspective and metamorphic comments, I was bowled over with gratitude. Remembering my witness to the blossoming of so many. 

Before I had students I had employees, 40 of them to be exact.  They too often burst into bloom during their time of employment. Like the flowers in my garden, some of them seemed to pop into full flower overnight while others transitioned slowly from a barren place to fertile flowering amazement. 

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The combination of witnessing the human spirit being opened, empowered and lifted - through creative recycling and seeing all your thoughtful questions that have been flowing into my inbox led me to put together a subscription (oooh, is subscription the right word? Maybe dues?) for Circle.  Circle is part uplifting fun, part accountability group, part empowerment and inspiration – a little package of creative motivation to nudge you to run headlong down the path to the life of your dreams. 

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On Febraury 15 we will send out our first snail mailing of this brand new endeavor called Circle.  I am super excited to offer life-changing inspiration at an affordable price! 

For $25/month (less than $1/day) you will get a beautiful hand decorated envelope delivered by your letter carrier full of the magic we are all starving for with support and connection just for you, online.  This first mailing includes:

·      a beautiful signed and numbered uplifting screenprint suitable for framing,

·      a quick little tutorial on making wash cloths using a recycled cotton t-shirt,

·      a book recommendation,

·      a link and personal invitation to my online forum,

·      an intention for the month,

·      a coupon for 25% off anything in my online atelier for the last two weeks of February

AND

·      an opportunity to share your experience via guest posting on Rag. 

Honestly, the coupon code alone is worth a whole lot more than $25! 

Are you at a place in your life, like I was a year ago, where a little creative direction might just give you the kick in the ass you need to find the life of your dreams?  Maybe you just want to have a library of fun recycling projects to pull out when the snow is piling up and you are home for a few days.  I am learning that there are certainly as many reasons for being here as there are lovely people on my mailing list so while I am off figuring out our move, sign on to join my Circle.  You can cancel at anytime, send gift subscriptions, and be amazed at the changes you will see.  This offer ends at Midnight on Friday February 8. Don’t miss out!

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