Wellness Coach, Michelle Houston, San Luis Obispo, CA USA

“It’s opened up lines of communication between myself and my community in a new way that has shifted my perspective on what really matters…It’s a chance to re-evaluate the way you speak to yourself, the way you interact with the world and the amount of creativity you’re able to display when there is a shift in the way we lead our lives.”

Michelle Houston

Michelle Houston was originally born in San Diego and grew up in Hawaii–so, she loves the sand and sunshine. She has bounced around between beach cities her whole life, currently enjoying the warm air and relaxed atmosphere of San Luis Obispo, on California’s Central Coast.

Michelle’s diverse career has spanned from event management, to after school care for elementary-aged kids, managing a martial arts gym, working a wine harvest, as well as spending plenty of time as a barista in various cafes along the coast of California…

For the past five years Michelle has dedicated her life to health and wellness, which lead her to begin coaching women to build healthy habits for themselves, in order to create a more balanced, thriving lifestyle. Michelle now owns and runs her own business, “Her Healthy Habits,” which provides services and programs that empower women to lead wellness-oriented lifestyles, and create more productive, impactful, and generous futures.

Throughout quarantine, she’s been forced to postpone her wedding, and taken time to reevaluate her life’s priorities, especially the number of “unnecessaries” that had previously taken precedent, such as unfulfilling social engagements or unsatisfying and time consuming tasks.

Read more about how Michelle has been managing her own business and facing the COVID pandemic from the Central Coast of CA, below:

What’s the biggest challenge you think you’ve faced during this quarantine situation?

“The biggest challenge I’ve faced during the stay-at-home order has been not being able to throw our wedding or travel. Considering the circumstances, I find myself very blessed. My family is well taken care of through this time and I am able to thrive in my business working from home. My fiancé Jeremy and I chose to postpone our mid-May wedding for a year until 2021, which was a positive choice overall but a tad disappointing. All in all, I don’t feel that our challenges are matched to those fighting the pandemic daily or experiencing loss of loved ones or being stuck up in a city apartment. We consider ourselves very lucky.”

Is there anything you feel that this experience has taught you that you’d like to share as inspiration for everyone going through this together?

“Truly I believe we are all able to take this experience and re-evaluate our lives. It’s important to take restorative care of yourself through this whole process. It’s a time for each of us to take a good, hard look at the way we were leading our lives and better determine what’s really important. With the critical nature of health as we navigate fighting off this disease and recovering from illness, a balanced lifestyle is more important now than ever. The simple health choices of nutritional foods, appropriate exercise, solid sleep, minimized stress levels and personal self-care are more important now than ever before. Although we’re all experiencing grief, frustration, anxiety and different levels of upset – we can each choose how we respond to our circumstances in the world.”

Eating healthy!

Has this experience in any way changed the way that you order your priorities?

“I like to think that pre-COVID I was pretty set on healthy priorities, but this time has made me realize how many “unnecessaries” there were in my life. How much unnecessary time spent running around, how many social engagements we had that weren’t fulfilling, or how certain aspects of my work weren’t satisfying. The shift in priorities has become more about creating a thriving business that impacts others in a more intimate way than ever before. This experience does bring us closer together and I feel that it’s lowered the barriers between strangers. It’s opened up lines of communication between myself and my community in a new way that has shifted my perspective on what really matters.”

What have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?

“The first month of lockdown wasn’t exactly this coordinated, but I’ve found a grounding routine in my days that supports my mental wellness better than ever before. Each day I have a series of habits or activities that continue to keep my spirits high. My mornings include guided meditation on various topics such as abundance, gratitude, anxiety management and stress reduction. These times enable me to breathe, ground back down into reality and allow myself to find the positives in the world. Following meditation I move my body–light yoga or stretching exercises, maybe a little dance – even just for ten minutes pulls me back into the moment and allows me to stretch into new shapes waking my senses up.

Each morning includes tea and some positive intention-setting for the day. I usually choose one word that resonates with how I’m feeling or how I want to approach my day. Then on the schedule in the afternoon is a walk through the neighborhood or over to our local dog park. We have two 70 lb pups and taking breaks to sit with them or pet them is always helpful in lifting my mood. If it’s a particularly distressing day and my mindset is just a little cloudy then I grant myself permission to indulge. Indulge in scrolling through IG or watching some romantic comedies or staring off into nothingness. Each day is different and new, but it’s with my best intent to appreciate all of the aspects of my life that I am gifted with and grateful for.” 

Small indulgences

Where exactly are you living right now? Is this where you permanently reside or is it a temporary living situation due to the pandemic?

“Thankfully I was caught in everything at our home in San Luis Obispo. We live in the Laguna Lake area in a single level house, so we have access to hikes and parks nearby that keep us moving. Our neighborhood is friendly and reasonably quiet, so it’s easy to get outside. In our 3-bedroom home we have myself, my fiancé Jeremy, a red-tailed 6 foot boa Nagini and our two dogs – Lyra (an emotional german shepherd Pitbull mix) and Lani (a goofy white golden retriever).

Dogs make everything better

At the beginning of February we moved in my little sister and her husband down from Santa Cruz with their newborn baby girl Suki Rose. She’s one of the best parts of being required to stay-at-home. Like I mentioned, we’ve been very fortunate through this whole process. My mother, who lives in town, goes from her place to ours to spend time with us and her granddaughter. My father lives in Cambria, whom we get to see once a week as well.

Suki Rose

I’m teaching live online classes for Spark Yoga about three times a week, I still make it into the studio to teach, or take classes, getting to see other instructors. I’m very fortunate to have thoughtful, loving people surround me through this whole process. My heart goes out to all those who are at home alone or in an unsafe environment while they’re sheltering in place!” 

What has your community been doing to fight the rate of transmission?

“The SLO community responded pretty rapidly to the development of COVID-19. Shutting down all non-essential businesses and requiring property rentals to cancel any stays in the area that were vacation-related. Implementing the wearing of masks to prevent transmission, creating social distancing standards in super markets, limiting group gatherings, and putting glass in place where it’s possible.

The shutting down of storefronts and restaurants has been tough on our small businesses, so I fear for the closure of some of our favorite spots. We’re doing our best to order takeout every other week or buy gift certificates to use at a later date. Fingers crossed everyone comes through this the best way we can.

[Local university] Cal Poly partnered with Dignity Healthy to put in a makeshift hospital in the gymnasium on campus as well. I think the proactive measures are the most important from the get-go to get ahead of the curve and hopefully save as many lives as we can. We’re sheltering in place and doing the best we can to sanitize, wear masks and encourage others to be cognizant.” 

Home is where the heart is

What has been your daily routine so far during the pandemic?

“I have spent time on the computer working and enjoying time with family. We have been catching up on some movies that I’d missed out on over the years, as well as playing games. We’ve done a few puzzles and spent time playing music…I think the important thing about setting a routine for yourself is also being flexible and allowing room for what comes up spontaneously.”

Has this travel ban/quarantine situation impacted any important plans you had laid out for the near future?

“Sadly, a bit. Postponing the wedding was a big one, as the ban prevented our loved ones from being able to travel to us. We weren’t planning a honeymoon till later this year, but had a mini trip planned for following the wedding to Sun Valley Idaho that is having to be postponed as well. All personal and not deathly important, so it hasn’t been too traumatizing, but unfortunate to be so limited in our access to travel–which is an adjustment!” 

Anything else at all, you’d like to share?

“This experience has brought me closer to my family, enhanced the relationship I have with my fiancé, and furthered my connection to myself. I think each of us is handed obstacles and opportunities with any situation like this.

It’s a chance to re-evaluate the way you speak to yourself, the way you interact with the world and the amount of creativity you’re able to display when there is a shift in the way we lead our lives.

Hopefully we can individually grow to be more understanding, accepting, determined, and grateful in order to lift our global community up as a whole. Coming out of this time with motivation, sincere kindness and a well-adjusted mindset to appreciate everything we’re given in this world.”

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