Mountains of self love start with a step - or a scribble. 

|| A NOTE from my weekend in the countryside of the Blue Ridge Mountains||

In 2013 I was working as a women's fitness specialist in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I was known for my "ToughMiss™" workouts and sharing Soulful work-ins; a combination of mind-body movement that mixed up coaching, yoga and strength training with a few appropriately placed F-bombs.

It was all born out of my journey to fitness (via the Fashion Institute of Technology) being an emotional, to quote Brene: brutiful, path to personal liberation and some pretty intense training routines.

My personal and professional approach to weight loss was to shift the surface level results to something that - ultimately - created Soul-level strength and light.

One day my Brazilian flient (friend-client) shared with me that she began writing messages to remind her of the meaning behind her work... simple statements like "love yourself" "keep going".

As a trainer it was the equivalent of watching her win 'Biggest Loser' — it was a brain pump, a beautifully simple exercise, and it was - still is - brilliant. 

For centuries indigenous people, tribes and shamans have been using tattoos and markings to remind them of the stories of their Soul. Soldiers go into battle with decorated armor, Royal families carry on crests and warriors proudly boast their battle scars. It's a declaration on skin of something far deeper than pores and for a greater longitude than outstretched arms could reach. 

They are messages, memories, and manifestations.

For the last 5+ years, I've adopted this simple, yet spirited statement ritual. Sometimes I intentionally scribble a barely legible love note on my arm or stash a word somewhere hidden. Other days I boldly claim a piece of my body with the intention of inviting that belief into my heart and bones. 

Today my ego was racing with distorted resemblance of who I am and where I think I should be. Like that of a mirror, the thinking mind often shows us what we aren't, rather than revealing all of what we already are.

So, to still the narrative in my mind, I walked among the trees along the outskirts of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A moment of silence brought to me the message of "willpower + grace." These two words reflected in the way the river flows through the red clay Virginia rock. Slowly and steadily the water makes its way around and over obstacle, never ceasing, never forcing it's existence. 



Copyright Lauren Pacione - Mountains of Self Love

An instant calmness washed over me as I was reminded by how I fit into nature and had connection to the trees, the soil, the sound of the birds and the brook, and - to you.

I am not alone. 

You are not alone.

Immediately I felt that this [writing of words] was something that had to be shared with you, as it was with me (and her) and whomever you impart it along to.

The beauty of this exercise is that no landscape is required... nor retreat... nor credit card.

In a year where self-love is buzzy, I appreciate the pure, simple acts of self-inquiry... maybe acceptance... hell, maybe even adoration. 

See, "self love" doesn't have to be this big mountain to climb - and in my humble opinion, it doesn't work like that. The act of learning to be yourself starts and sustains like the river: not in pace or in persistence, but in substance. Billions of tiny droplets that become something bigger. There for you when you want to recognize it (and when you don't).

So, maybe today you don't have time to meditate or make protein-kale-quinoa balls or draw a bath... but you might just stop for a moment, whip out a marker, and make a note.