We Forgot that it’s All Temporary.

(Inspired from prompt by Amber Rae.)

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Image found via Pinterest.

From my inner wisdom:

This time is painful yet temporary. Just like all moments. Moments of joy are joyful yet temporary. Moments of loss are sad yet temporary.

It feels like the rug has been pulled out from under you. From under the world. All the systems you have relied on are being tested from government to healthcare to eduction to capitalism. It’s all a mess, I know.  But a temporary mess.

This is the powerful part of transformation. The uncertainty. The chaos. The not knowing. Your yoga, meditation and writing practices have all been helping to prepare you for this. Use them. Use them daily. Deepen them and allow them to deepen you.

Even on days when you don’t feel like it (especially on those days) show up anyway. Just briefly. One child’s pose. One minute of meditation. One sentence in your journal. It makes all the difference.

Use this time to reflect on what’s been working and what has not. Leave behind what has not. Why continue to carry what you don’t need?

Ask yourself: What truly matters? Then use the answer as a guiding light. Move toward that.

Stay vigilant, yet soft.

Be cautious, but not obsessed.

Have a structure for your days but allow for some freedom within it.

Take time to connect with others and give yourself time alone.

Feel gratitude and grief.

You can hold both at once.

It’s easy to slide into the blame and anger game. Use that anger for action. Don’t let it simmer inside of you. Allow it to motivate you.

The world is changing.

You are changing. Life as you knew has changed.

It’s an amazing opportunity.

It would be so easy to cling to old ways, old values. To cling to what is familiar.

Be bold. Let go of the familiar and allow yourself to float into the unknown. Create new ways of being in the world, new ways of showing up in the world.

Be bold in your desires. In claiming them.

Because seriously: If not now, then when?

Do it now.

Feel it now.

Say it now.

Take action now.

Write now.

Breathe now.

Dream now.

Act now.

Speak now.

The biggest lesson is that now is all we have. It’s all we’ve ever had.

We just allowed ourselves to forget that essential truth. Now, we are all being called to remember.

Things I Want to Tell You.

(This is from a prompt on the 27 Wildest Days writing challenge by Laurie Wagner)

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Image found via Pinterest.

I want to tell you about the time the world paused. How many of us stayed inside, tethered to our homes, to our neighborhoods while others who were essential to our survival ventured out to care for us, to heal us, to feed us, to protect us.

I want to tell you about the last yoga class I taught in person. It was a Sunday night. Only two students. Yoga Bliss. A space for deep rest, relaxation and nourishment through yin, yoga nidra and reiki. How we kept our distance which felt odd. How I offered reiki without touching them. How we still felt so connected. How I didn’t know it would be the last class I taught there for who knows how long but how I also wasn’t surprised when it was.

I want to tell you about time. How time became everything and nothing. Days blurred into weeks into months.

I want to tell you about the grief for the unfathomable loss of lives but I have no words for that grief.

I want to tell you about the grief for all the mundane losses within our daily lives: buying groceries without fear, grocery stores stocked with food, hugging friends, going to the movies, going to see “Wicked” with tickets I bought at Christmas for my BFF and me,

I want to tell you how it all matters. All the losses. And we are allowed to feel sad for all of them.

I want to tell you how everything we had planned for and based our future on was suddenly gone. Jobs. Paychecks. Security. Things we thought we could count on.

I want to tell you how we had to change so much, so fast. We had to learn to be home. Learn to be alone. To create a routine. To cook with what we have. To shop from emptied grocery shelves. To live on less. With less. And how that all will eventually be good for us.

I want to tell you how I was numb at first. How it didn’t feel real. How I cleaned everyday because it gave me a purpose and a sense of control. How I couldn’t focus enough to write more than a little in my journal. How my brain couldn’t focus enough to read. How empty I felt to not be able to turn to books for solace, for nourishment.

I want to tell you how I am learning to hold empty. To not fill myself up with words and TV and social media. How I sit in meditation even when it is excruciating and I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin but I sit there anyway, finding some small measure of stillness within the chaos.

I want to tell you about the fear that lies just beneath my skin, always. Fear of getting sick. Of my family getting sick. Friends. Of death. Of losing our jobs permanently. Of needing to buy our own health insurance.

I want to tell you about the planes that fall from the sky in my dreams. How I see the metal underbellies above me. How they crash to the ground. It’s a recurring dream I have whenever I feel stress. How I wake up and my jaw aches from clenching it all night long.

I want to tell you about beginning to find some small comfort in this new normal. Learning to be here instead of there all the time. Turning to my writing to process and explore and reflect and unearth all that I am thinking and feeling about this time we are living in.

I want to tell you to be patient. With others. With yourself. To be tender. We are all still learning how to be, how to live, how to exist, how to persist, how to eventually thrive in these new times.

I want to tell you I see you.

I want to tell you I am here.

I Say I Don’t Diet, but…

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Image found via Pinterest.

I say I don’t diet anymore. But deep down, I still do.

I may say I am just trying to eat healthy. Have more energy. Balance my body. But deep down what I m really hoping for is to lose weight.

I may say I am making peace with my body just as it is but a part of me is still hoping the weight will melt off and I will just land at this “perfect” number and all will be well.

I may say that I am just listening to my body and eating intuitively but, really I want my intuitive eating to result in weight loss.

I recently learned a lot about Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga. I went into it thinking I am interested in this thousand year-old practice that aligns with my yoga practice and I just want to feel good in my body.

But, really, I want to lose weight.

How much? I don’t know. I’ve stopped stepping on a scale because I hate feeling like a stupid number is dictating my mood for the rest of the day.

This week has really triggered me. I hate following rules around food, even if they are ultimately good for me.

I really hated tracking food which I did with Spark People and even though it worked it made me so irritable and annoyed and obsessed with every morsel that went in my mouth. So I stopped.

But.

Part of me still kind of, sort of gauges what amount of calories I am putting in my mouth at any given time.

Part of me still tries to do this intermittent fasting thing that is so popular right now. And it becomes a game to see how long I can go without eating which seems like a slippery slope to an eating disorder to me.

I mean, just eat when I am fucking hungry.

So, with Ayurveda, I am finding myself obsessed once again with food rules. Eat this but not with that. Don’t eat this. Eat at this time of day but not at this time of day. Don’t drink water with meals, Sip hot water. No fruit with other foods.

I am just so entangled in the societal conditioning of what a woman’s body should look like and I can’t seem to untangle myself from it. It’s been with me since I can remember. Since a guy yelled out the car window when I was in sixth grade and I felt good about myself cuz some random perv thought a 12-year-old deserved to be cat-called. Since some high school asshat called me Thunder Thighs in my cheerleading uniform and I felt ashamed of my body.

I mean, commenting on a person’s body in any way is just so intrusive. I have stopped commenting on people’s weight loss. (If you’ve lost weight and I haven’t said anything, this is why.) I mean, it is none of my business what you do to your body. I wouldn’t comment if you gained weight, why should I assert my opinion if you lost some?

So, I am just putting this out there, (feeling incredibly vulnerable doing so) in case others are dealing with the same thing. Which I am pretty sure is a majority of women if you go by the size of the diet industry and the section of diet books at the bookstore.

I am putting it out there without any real solutions. It’s still an on-going process for me. I remember thinking that by the time I hit 50 I wanted to be done with this body image/food thing. Done, done done.

Ha!

I am 54 and still dealing with it.

But I think being aware of it is half the battle. Just like in meditation, the goal isn’t to not think, it’s not to be controlled by thoughts.

With this, I just don’t want my every waking thought to be about food and my body. So, I am using affirmations (which I normally stay away from) to help begin to rewire my brain. Create some new neural pathways.

Thanks to Amie McNee I am learning to soothe and mother myself on the page when these feelings take over. It is helping.

Writing this is helping.

Being honest is helping.

I hope this helps you in some way if you need it.

 

 

Acknowledging Ms. Rule-Maker.

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Today I felt like a slug.

I took one nighttime sinus pill last night to help with a lingering headache and the effects seem to weigh me down. I laid on the couch until it felt like I was melting into it.

Finally, I hauled myself off of it and into the shower. Got myself dressed. Came to the bookstore. Ordered a chai (hoping the caffeine would help jumpstart me out of this energetic stupor) then began to write my morning pages (even though it was two o’clock in the afternoon.)

One of the first things to come out was this so-called rule that if I had to go to the bookstore to write rather than sit in the perfectly lovely writing space I created at home, then I wasn’t a real writer.

Wait, what?

I recently unearthed a bunch of rules I have absorbed over the years about food. It was a long list.

So, I decided to do the same with this. What other rules were lurking around?

I should have a degree to be a real writer.

I should have a book published to be a real writer.

I should write a certain amount of words or for a certain length of time on my current WIP to be a real writer. (The amounts are always totally unrealistic.)

I should work on my WIP and not the ten other kinds of writing I may do on any given day.

I picture this rule-maker as an older woman, dressed in black, with a tight severe bun, pacing around, slapping a ruler against her palm.Once I have a visual it is easier to remember that her job is create rules. She thinks she is helping me. Just like it is my mind’s job to churn out thoughts. My job isn’t to stop either one. My job is to observe and then move on.

Meditating doesn’t mean not thinking. That happen when we die. Meditation is about observing the thoughts, becoming intimate with the mind while not getting swept away by the current.

Same with Ms. Rule-Maker. Once I acknowledge her, I can give her a brief nod that says, “Thank you for your input, I’ll keep that in mind” then go on my way.

That is exactly what I did today. And I managed to get everything on my writing agenda done:

Morning Pages 

Writing Practice

Read and do exercises from “You Are a Badass at Making Money”

Work on WIP

New rule: Writing anywhere, on anything for any length of time makes me a writer.

 

 

Onward!

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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!

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.

Coming Back.

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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?

 

How I Spend my Days.

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Image found via Pinterest.

I have written something every day for the last 1,222 days.

I have meditated every day for the last 311 days.

Why to I keep track of these activities? It started as  a way to motivate myself to do the things I ket saying I wanted to do but somehow kept putting off doing. Taking a cue from Jerry Seinfeld, I created a yearly chart on a dry erase board and marked an “X” in each box every day I wrote. Seeing that chain of x’s created enough momentum that I didn’t want to break the chain.

Same with meditation. I use an app that keeps track of my sessions. It’s so encouraging and empowering to see the days add up.

As the days add up, I notice a shift. A shift in how I relate to myself, to the world, to my writing, to my thoughts.

As the days add up, I realize I am no longer longing to live the life I want to live, I am actually living it. As Annie Dillard says:

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Image found via Pinterest.

Showing my Writer-Self Some Love.

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I am learning how to show my writer-self some love every day, not just on Valentine’s Day.

My Writer-Self works hard. She struggles with rejection, with doubts, anxiety. She is constantly honing her craft through intense reading and writing. Even when she isn’t writing, she is thinking about writing. Every experience that crosses her consciousness becomes fodder for her work.

She battles with my inner mean girl and harsh critic constantly so she definitely deserves some love.

Here is what I do:

I’ve created a writing sanctuary. It is a room of my own that when I enter my writer-self sighs with relief. Ah, I am home she says.

I get enough sleep because a tired writer-self is not creative or productive.

I move my body because a cranky body makes for a cranky writer.

I treat her to hot chocolate or chai tea at the local bookstore at her favorite table.

I read books that nourish her heart, mind and soul.

I slow down because life is lived, experienced and written about in the details.

I meditate because a calm mind has room to wander and explore.

I buy colorful pens because she loves to spill colored ink onto page and after page. It makes her heart happy.

I buy beautiful journals because her words are worth it.

I commit time to daily writing because she requires daily attention. It tells her I am serious. It shows her how devoted I am to her.

How do you how your writer-self some love?

 

The Mindful Practice of Morning Pages.

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Image found here.

There are many reasons to write Morning Pages.

Lately, I find that they are a great tool for practicing mindfulness. My focus is not as laser sharp as I want it to be these days, to say the least. Pretty sure I’ve rewired my brain to look for the next shiny thing on Twitter or Facebook which is not the best result for a writer.

In meditation, my mind wanders over and over again. The practice is noticing when that happens and coming back to my breath or body or mantra or sounds. Writing morning pages I feel the impulse to lift my pen over and over again before I get to the end of my three, handwritten pages. When I lift my pen, my mind drifts. When my mind drifts it is oh so easy and tempting to reach for my phone or click on a tab on my laptop.

When I feel that impulse I just keep the pen moving In fact, I actually write, “just keep writing.” I feel the ink flowing across the surface. I hear the sound of the pen scratching against the paper. I see the trail of pink left behind. At this point, the words don’t even matter.

What matters is staying present.

What matters is not letting my hand lift, not letting my mind wander. Not checking my phone.

What matters is rewiring my brain to stay on the page, to stay in the moment.

As with meditation, keeping my hand moving, connecting to all the senses as I write leads me gently into that “serene encounter with reality.”