Onward!

happy Birthday to Me!

Image found via Pinterest.

I don’t know what this coming years holds and I am learning to get comfortable with that.

I don’t know if I will drink alcohol or not. I don’t know if I will make peace with drinking or not drinking or not.

I don’t know if I will finally say “Fuck it” to all the diets and food rules and truly mean it or if I will still be stuck on this crazy rollercoaster of restricting and judging and trying to find peace instead of actually finding it.

I don’t know if I will find an agent or be published or land that writing residency.

What I do know is that I will keep showing up to all of those areas and all the nooks and crannies of my life.

I do know that I will let myself down, feel ashamed and guilty when I do and then I will find the compassion to pick myself back up and continue onward.

I do know that writing every day has become so intricately woven into who I am that I will continue to write under all circumstances—a lesson from Natalie Goldberg that I have finally absorbed deep into my bones.

I do know that showing up is non-negotiable.

Showing up to my relationships.

Showing up to my writing.

Showing up to my creativity.

Showing up to my body.

Showing up to my yoga practice, and teaching practice and students.

Showing up up my meditation practice.

Showing up to my Self.

I do know that not knowing and continuing on is part of this human experience.

So, I may not know what this 55th cycle around the sun has in store but I do know that I plan to dive deep into the juicy, messy, perfectly imperfect, beautifully rich and complicated heart of this life I am so grateful to be living.

Onward!

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Birthday Reflection #5: Energy Over Age.

Birthday reflection #5

I love this quote from this amazing woman!

Age not energy dictates the quality of my life.

After our 16-day trip through Europe, my daughter pointed out that I probably couldn’t have done this five or six years ago, which coincides perfectly with when I committed to a yoga practice.

Since then, my practice has helped me to heal from and come back stronger than ever after hurting my low back. It has given me strength in my body but also in my mind and spirit.

Before yoga, when I would be away from home, I’d often find myself having anxiety attacks in the middle of the night. I was worried about that on our trip. I had one, but barely. I think it was mostly due to sheer exhaustion by that point but I slept a solid 10 hours , took it easy the next day, kept up with my writing, meditation and yoga and was fine.

My energy comes from within.

It comes from living my yoga off the mat, practicing all eight limbs.

It comes from taking care of my body and listening to it.

It comes from stoking the light within me and using it to help others find their own light.

It comes from being true to myself.

It comes from, as Liz Gilbert says, embracing the glorious mess that I am.

glorious mess

Birthday Reflection #3: Caring for this Body of Mine.

Birthday 3

I am learning to take care of my body.

Not to make it look a certain way but to feel good in it.

I care for my body by moving it daily.

I care for my body by showing up to my yoga mat daily.

I care for my body by eating vegan, eating whole foods as much as possible, drinking a ton of water and currently by not consuming any alcohol.

I care for my body because who else will?

I care for my body so that it will carry me exuberantly into the second half of my life.

 

Learning to Lean into Joy.

content me

I posted this photo today on-line describing how content I am feeling.

Almost immediately this little voice popped up: Who do you think you are? Stop bragging. Enjoy it now cuz it’s all gonna come crashing down. How dare you be this happy when there are children locked in cages in our country.

And on and on and on.

The first time I heard Brené Brown talk about foreboding joy, every cell in my body vibrated with recognition. Foreboding Joy

It’s that space of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Or think you don’t deserve this happiness so it will soon be taken away.

2019 has been a good year for my family. Both of our daughters have graduated with their Bachelor Degrees. One is headed back for her Master’s on a full scholarship plus stipend as a Graduate Assistant. The other is getting ready to apply to an accelerated nursing program.

My daughters and I enjoyed an amazing 16-day adventure traveling to 4 different countries across Europe in May.

I came home to find my husband had bought me the perfect car.

We adopted a sweet puppy from Good Karma puppy rescue and her transition into our lives has been pretty seamless considering her background and how we were expecting it to go.

My BFF has almost completely recovered amazingly well from heart surgery.

I have stepped back into my role as yoga teacher after a month-long sabbatical in May and I feel even more at home in that role, connected to my purpose to create and hold space for my students to meet themselves where they are on any given day. A lovely student recently shared with me how much she has enjoyed watching me blossom into this amazing teacher and how much she loves my classes.

My heart is full with joy and gratitude.

And yet.

There’s this fear lurking beneath the surface. This fear that it will all change. All be taken away. That some catastrophe has to happen in order to even things out. No one person deserves this much joy, especially me.

That especially me is what Jen Pastiloff calls “my inner asshole.”

I am quite familiar with her. Luckily, I am also able to recognize her when she shows up. She showed up recently when my youngest (who is 22) chose to drive across the state on 4th of July to go to a party. My IA came out in full force. I felt this enormous anxiety about her safety. Drunk drivers on the road. Driving all that way then needing to drive back home. What if something happened to her while swimming? All these worst-case scenarios took up residence in my mind in technicolor details.

Then I recognized it for what it was. My IA and foreboding joy.

Brené Brown suggests using gratitude as an antidote when this happens so that is what I did. I called up everything single thing and person I am grateful for (it’s a long list). The sense of anxiety didn’t completely go away. But what did happen is that it created just enough space between me and that story. Between reality and fantasy.

I know this will never go away. It’s part of being human. But I know that I have the tools to see beneath the surface of the IA, beneath the anxiety and fears.

I have the tools to continue to lean into joy, day by day, moment by moment.

And I am not going to stop sharing my joy.

Or the vulnerability I feel at experiencing it.

Ditching my Usual MO.

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I’ve been having a hard time settling back into my life after 16 days in Europe, my month-long sabbatical from teaching yoga and just being out of my routine.

The daily barrage of horrifying news hasn’t helped..

The gloomy weather hasn’t helped.

What did help?

Writing. Writing always helps. It doesn’t solve every problem immediately but it definitely shifts my energy.

Yoga. Yoga grounds me in my body, in the moment where everything is okay no matter what my head is thinking. In this moment right here I am okay. Yoga reminds me of that over and over.

Meditating. I resist it but it always ends of being of benefit. Just finding that stillness. Or just observing  my mind being yanked around in twelve different directions. It always helps. Always. In all ways.

Feeling crappy. Yep. You read that right. If I am feeling crappy for whatever reason, I need to feel crappy. I can’t immediately go to the thing that will erase that crappy feeling. It’s there for a reason.

Friday night I had zero intention of going to the Summer Solstice ceremony at my studio. I was home alone most of the day. I cleaned the house which felt good. But I kept having this wanting to crawl out of my skin feeling. When I was finally able to pin down what I was feeling it was this: in flux, stuck and like I was unraveling.

Now, a lot of the time I would avoid those feelings. I would drink some wine, eat some chocolate, binge watch Netflix, mindlessly scroll through social media. None of those things help. In fact, they all make it worse.

Somehow, some part of me convinced me to go the ceremony. So, I dragged myself there. I actually felt like I was hauling a hundred pound duffel bag behind me, but I got in the car and I drove there.

There is something magical about being in community. Being in a sacred circle. My whole body just sighed with relief. This was where I was supposed to be.

Now, I’ve attended several of these ceremonies that include journal prompts which I love. I thought I had discovered all I had to discover about this resistance I feel in my writing. No, not the writing itself, but the getting the writing out into the world. How I sabotage myself just when I get in the groove of submitting my work.

I’m not going to go into the specific details but let’s just say I had not discovered everything I needed to know. I discovered something new. Something that had been there this whole time, just staring me in the face but I hadn’t seen it. I thought my resistance was about one thing and it turns out there was this whole other piece I hadn’t even considered. When I saw it I was stunned. But, of course, it made perfect sense.

And that piece I discovered? I also discovered that it was not mine to carry.

So, I let it  go.

I burned it in the ceremony.

I released it.

And I left that ceremony feeling a hundred pounds lighter.

If I had gone into my usual MO for dealing  with feeling crappy I would have missed this.

If I had ignored that voice inside me, nudging me to go to the ceremony when it was the last thing I wanted to do, I would have missed this.

We never know what small movement forward will make a huge impact.

Listen.

Make that move, no matter how small.

Be stunned at what you may discover.

Gazing vs. Scrutinizing.

your body loves you

Image found via Pinterest.

The other morning I found myself standing in front of the bathroom mirror and I realized I was scrutinizing my body with laser focus, with the intention of finding things to judge.

I mean, I know I do this. Like all the time. But to catch myself in the middle of it was interesting.

Then I remembered a quote from Maya Angelou that really resonated with me . I’m paraphrasing here:

All children want is for you to light up when they walk into a room.

If I could make an effort to do that for my daughters, then why couldn’t I do that for myself? For my body?

Instead of looking for what is “wrong” I can celebrate all that is right. I am almost 54 and on zero medications. I can walk, run, dance do yoga and move with ease throughout my life. I can teach yoga and sit at a desk to write. I can feel the sun on my skin, smell fresh cut grass, taste a juicy fresh peach, see a beautiful sunset, listen to the sound of my daughters laughing.

My life is rich and full.

From now on that is where I will practice training my gaze.

 

Coming Back.

meditate

I just meditated for 10 minutes.

It’s not very long but I’ve been showing up for only 1-5 minutes recently so that is double. And any meditation is better than no meditation.

I sat. And sat. And sat. And finally checked my phone thinking that I had turned the ringer off because it had to be 10 minutes by now.

Wrong.

It had been less than 6.

I almost quit.

I felt like I was crawling out of my skin. My wind was being whipped all over the place.

Then I heard the phrase “Come back.”

Come back.

Comeback.

It was gentle, yet firm.

Compassionate, not judging.

So, I came back. I came back to my breath. To the sounds of traffic and birds. To the feeling of the sun on my neck. To the feeling of the mat against my feet. To the thoughts that continued to spin inside my head.

I spend so much time berating and judging myself for wandering off the path of a goal I set for myself whether it is to eat more vegetable or drink less wine or consume less social media. That Inner Judge doesn’t lead me back but tosses me into a spiral of shame.

What if I use “come back” as a gentle reminder instead of shaming myself?

As a way to guide myself back to the present.

Back to myself.

And what if I remember that this straying and guiding myself back is part of the journey? The process? The dance? And not proof of my failure?

How would that change not only my meditation practice but my life?

 

Doing What I Love.

Do what you love

Image found via Pinterest.

I remember sitting on the front porch with a stack of new books on graphic design that had just arrived in the mail and I was so excited. My best friend remarked that she couldn’t imagine being excited over a pile of books from her profession (lab tech at the time.)

I realize how lucky I am to spend my work time and free time doing what I love. Graphic design has slowly dropped out of the picture but has been replaced with writing and yoga. My shelves are lined with books on both and it doesn’t feel like work or homework to read them. I am excited to dive deeper into both practices

“Practice” is the key word. Even though I teach yoga and even though I am trying to be published and generate income from my writing, the fact is that both are practices that sustain and nourish me day to day, year to year. So, anything that takes me deeper into them, leads me deeper into myself, into the heart of who I am.

Now, I am well aware that I have a luxury that many do not. I do not have to support myself with my incomes. It helps for sure, but it helps provide the wants of our life, not the needs. Not only am I aware of that fact, I am incredibly grateful.

Both writing and yoga have become such seamless facets of my daily life that it is no longer a choice of whether I will practice or not.  After writing every day for the last 3 1/2 years, I simply show up to the page. And over time, my whole life has become my yoga practice.

It is what I do.

It is who I am.

Still Squaring Off with my Not-Enougness.

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Image found via Pinterest.

I am extraordinarily hard on myself.

I don’t always see it, but when I finally do I am stunned at how I talk to myself and what I expect from myself. Sometimes it’s just a frustration with myself but other times it spirals into something a little darker and I wonder why I am alway trying to fix myself instead of just living my life and is this what I am meant to be doing and I start questioning everything and if I am struggling this much then how can I possibly teach? And it just spirals out from there.

Here is what I wrote a few minutes ago:

Just spent an hour trying to figure out a structure for my days. As Annie Dillard says a routine is a net for catching days and I need to catch my days. They seem to slip through my fingers without any effort on my part. And that is the problem. Zero effort on my part. I need to step up, step in, lean in to my life, into my days. I can’t keep sitting on the sidelines pretending to be doing the work and then be upset when nothing happens. For so many years…like SOOOOO many years, I have felt like I’ve been dipping my toe into the shallow end of my life. Just hanging out there, waiting for the water to feel good instead of just taking the plunge. Diving in, diving deep, no matter what the water feels like, no matter how deep the water is, no matter if I can no longer see the shore. I seriously cannot believe I am still struggling with this bullshit. 

Luckily, a wise, compassionate part of me stepped up and stepped in:

Okay. Stop. Breathe. It’s time for some perspective. Let’s see what you have accomplished. You are a 200 RYT who teaches 7-8 classes a week and you have built a strong, supportive community within your classes. You made and saved enough money to take an amazing 16-day trip to Europe with your daughters. You have managed to write something every single day for over three years. That’s not nothing. You have submitted your work more in the last four month than you have in the last 4 years. Sure, you’ve lost some momentum in the last few months but let’s take stock of what has been going on. Your best friend had open heart surgery and you helped her through it. You’ve been preparing for this trip. You took a month-long sabbatical. You took the trip and now you are back and experiencing some reentry pains. Let that happen. Take a breath. Don’t jump on the what a lazy-ass, terrible-human-you are bandwagon. That’s a bunch of bullshit. This path you’ve been on, it’s not easy but you have stayed on it. You are creating this life for yourself. Maybe these lessons are the lessons you are meant to share, not because you have conquered them but because you keep persisting through them. You don’t let them stop you. You do not have to be perfect. You have to be real. That’s it. That’s all anybody wants from you: your family, friends, students, readers. They just want you to be real. And this struggle you are dealing with, that’s part of being real. So share it. Don’t wait until you have it all figured out. That may never happen. Just jump in from where you are now. That is all that is necessary. Breathe and take it all one step at a time. What are you doing in this moment. Are you showing up? Yes. You are. Here you are, typing, writing when nobody cares or is expecting you to. Doing it for yourself and not for an agent or an editor takes grit. And you have that. I just with you could see it.

img_9558.jpgOkay, so here I am taking a breath and sharing the not pretty parts of myself. The parts that struggle with my not-enoughness. Not doing enough, not being enough. I am not sharing this to get praise or validation. I did that for myself. I am doing it to be real. To share all the parts not just the shiny, photoshopped, pretty-filtered pieces of my life. 

May it be of benefit.

Seeking vs. Being.

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Image found via Pinterest.

I am a seeker.

Sometimes that’s a good thing as I seek to heal and grow, to write and publish, to connect and teach.

Sometimes it’s not so good as I forget to live my life in the moment instead of always seeking to improve it.

As I get ready to embark on this 16-day European adventure with my daughters, I have been wondering what my intention is in taking this trip. It’s a way to spend time with my daughters before they venture out in to their own lives with their own families. It’s a way to push my homebody-self out of my comfort zone. It’s a way to connect with a broader world.

But I know myself. I have always had this habit of waiting for the next thing. The next season, the next year, the next milestone waiting for me. I remember being at Greenfield Village as a kid and I just wanted to get to the next exhibit, then I just wanted to get home, rarely allowing myself to be in the moment.

My yoga practice has taught me how to be in the moment, and how to notice when I have yanked myself out of it. I learn to be present with my breath, with the depth of a pose, with my thoughts or with the emotions that rise up while I am on my mat. My practice on the mat has become the same off the mat: learning to meet myself where I am and life where it is now.

So, part of my intention with this trip is to balance the seeking with the being. I want to be in the moment whether the moment is a delayed flight or a stunning sunset, getting lost in a foreign city or sipping a delicious glass of wine, traveling from country to country or sitting on the beach.

I want to embrace it all instead of wishing and waiting for the next thing.

I want to be in each moment rather than seeking the next one.