Dear Mary Beth,
you clean-lovin’ organizational-freak Virgo, you,
Someday you are going to die, and you will likely have email in your inbox.
There might be dishes in the sink, dirty clothes piled up in the laundry and dust underneath the couch. In fact, I hope there is. That’s a life that is messy and full and well-lived.
I hope that you’ve often let emails go unanswered for days. Phone calls unreturned. Mail unopened. Instead you’ve spent years playing outside in the fresh air, belly laughing with friends over bottles of red wine and simply opening a notebook and letting your mind run wild.
You say yes to road trips when the invitations spontaneously arrive, to jumping in the ocean at any chance (sometimes in a wetsuit) and to anything that makes your heart beat a bit more wildly and fervently.
That you’ve slept underneath the stars with your family eating S’mores and drinking hot toddies. That you’ve been to more tropical places than you can count on your fingers and toes. That you keep a beautiful love that grows and grows and grows.
I hope you’ve lived so vibrantly and so hard that you’ve lived yourself young. That you paint your world with bright colors. That you let things crack and honor the light coming in.
Shut your computer and take your coffee cup outside.
It’s been one year since the best day of my life. There’s been a whole lotta good ones before and after, but not a single one has anything on our wedding day.
I went through hundreds of photographs and put together these from our wedding day at Santa Margarita Ranch that truly make my heart sing. I realized I’d hardly shared a thing and it was such a special day for the two of us.
I am so full of gratitude for what we’ve built in this last year – a home and marriage full of love, passionate careers and the best friend family we could ever ask for. There’s certainly been some challenges, and some losses, but the smiles, by far, outweigh the tears.
Now we’re cheersing from Maui and looking forward to the years ahead! Bring it on world!
It has been a strange week.
A couple of weird dreams.
A sad client.
Some tears, some words, some reactions.
And today felt hard but it wasn’t even my “hardness” to deal with.
A year it would have no doubt sent me into a tailspin.
But instead i just listened in
and decided to move gently.
Life is teaching me.
Teaching me to be more gentle.
Gentle with things as they arrive and as they go.
Less grasping, more open palms and soft fingers.
Sharp words, even inside my head, no longer have the space the reside there.
Just like waves, clouds, bluebirds and our breath -
nothing is here to stay.
Not our thoughts,
not our emotions,
not even our loved ones.
So why not move a little more gently?
A little more slowly?
A bit more at ease?
So I poured a tea, drew a bath and melted in,
even though it was only 5 pm.
Gentleness is the way today,
and hopefully a little more often than it is not.
I was about 29 and one quarter when I truly realized what a boundary was. For most of my life, I have walked around like a highly-sensitive sponge.
I remember walking into a yoga studio when I first moved to California and this one very outspoken teacher said, “Jeez girl. You walk around all heart. Pull your shoulders in a bit, stand up straighter. Protect yourself.” At the time I just felt like I was going to cry but looking back, I see she had a point.
Oh, the post office lady isn’t feeling very kind today? Let me take that on. A student has some kind of squinty-eyed scowly look happening? That most certainly is because of me. And my husband? Don’t even get my started.
I’d convince myself that I was absolutely dead on. Like completely and utterly right about whatever my head had created. Then I’d suffer over it. My mind was working like a hamster in a wheel and I couldn’t quite find my way out.
We all do it. We cause our own suffering. Over and over again. And often they are the same stories which once you can step away from it a bit, are pretty damn hilarious.
My biggest issue seemed to be this sponge effect – taking on other’s energy and then projecting what it was that was “wrong” in the first place. I desperately wanted out of this cycle, but despite all my self-helping and yoga-ing, I was stuck.
I am ____. You are ____.
It seems simple enough but boy, is it a game changer.
It allows you to create a boundary so you can fully be you and really listen from your truest self without reacting.
I am the queen of reaction.. or the former queen now that I’ve reined in my inner brat quite a bit. An example: Misery loves company. And when I was in reactive listening I was that company. But when I reconnect to me and say “Who am I?” and listen to from a place that is truly connected and I can be a better listener and move from a space of creation rather than reaction.
And the best part about this is that no matter what I’m pretty damn positive you are thinking or scheming, I’m likely wrong. And even if I’m not wrong, it’s not my business anyway.
What IS my business, however, is what I’m creating, how I feel and how I’m showing up for myself, for the world and for others.
Oh, and some people can suck pretty regularly. Keep them on the “you are ____” and keep that boundary. No need to keep getting burned over and over again. When people show you who they are, believe them.
And stay spongy. It’s a beautiful thing to be compassionate and empathic, but even more than staying spongy, stay true.
“To love ourselves is to act respectfully toward ourselves, to enjoy our own company when in solitude, to honor our limits and speak our truths.”
— Anodea Judith
Until three years ago, I hadn’t stepped on a scale.
Sure, I’d been on one in a doctor’s appointment or two every year, but every single time I stepped on the scale, I asked the doctor to stay mum. “Just write it down but please don’t tell me.”
This fear isn’t even really based on the number. I was completely terrified of returning to the dark and lonely space of disliking, even hating at times, myself based upon some stupid number.
When I was about 15 or 16 I started doing some modeling in Omaha, just twenty minutes outside my small Iowa town. The agency was called Nancy Bounds, and honestly the memory of what took place there is pretty foggy. But I distinctly remember the day that I was told I wasn’t enough.
We had a fashion show of some sort coming up and the head of the agency asked me to come in for a fitting. I brought along some sweaters, jeans, whatever I had on hand, but when I got there she asked me to put on a swimsuit.
So I go into the changing room and put on this purple Mossimo swimsuit that pretty much pushed my teeny tiny boobs up to my chin (?!!) and stepped outside.
This absolutely awful, older woman who reminded me of a more fashionable version of the Trunchbull eyed me up and down and said, “If you lost 10 to 15 pounds and we could do something about your chin you’d be perfect for modeling. Maybe even runway.”
Her words just hung in the air as I choked back some tears and tried to smile.
Mind you I was fifteen years old. Little with knobby knees and almost always wore that creepy bra with water in it. And yeah, my chin sticks out a bit, like Drew Barrymore’s.
Why didn’t I run for the hills just then? I was young, I was impressionable and I was pretty dead set on filling the God-shaped hole in my heart up with just about anything that seemed like the right answer.
Well, that day I decided I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t skinny enough. I wasn’t naturally talented at anything it seemed. And my only goal was to survive small town high school (the bullying, the terrible relationships, the keg parties that almost always made me feel bad) and get the fuck out.
Unfortunately I carried with me this idea that I wasn’t enough and oh boy, did it play out in every area of my life. I ate as little as I possibly could. I ran and worked out until I was completely worn and drained. I made myself throw up. And I beat myself up over every possible thing.
Even after I graduated I carried this with me to college, where it became even worse, because there wasn’t anyone watching over me. It was so easy to measure out a small cup of black beans, a small cup of rice, and maybe, just maybe, a few cubes of chicken if I was lucky. I seriously started to vanish. I stopped writing. I stopped caring. I stopped connecting with anyone around me in a way that was genuine and true.
It didn’t stop until a 36-hour train ride to New York City when I devoured the book “Wasted,” by Marya Hornbacher, and made a choice: it was time to let myself free.
It was as though I’d spent six years sitting in a jail cell with the door wide open. And I just sat inside wasting away. It was rooted in choice. It wasn’t Nancy Bounds’ fault. It wasn’t anyone in Glenwood’s fault. It was mine. I needed compassion and instead tortured and abused myself.
I got off that train and I marched myself down 8th Avenue until I found something that looked delicious and that day it was an oozing grilled cheese and a piping hot mocha. And I vowed that I’d feed myself – not just food – but feed my heart, my soul, my beautiful creative mind.
It was a summer of enjoyment, sometimes decadence. I immersed myself into all of the sights, smells and tastes of New York. Falling in love with life again, or perhaps maybe for the first time.
And fast forward to now. I’m thirty. I still love my body. I know what makes me feel alive. I know what nourishes me and what doesn’t. I know what used to plague me was simply flesh and thoughts and what now propels me forward is all heart.
Then the other day there was a comment on my blog about my weight. She thought it had fluctuated and she asked. She had the kindest of intentions but as I read it and my breath caught in my throat. For just a split second I thought, “What if I’m not enough?”
And something deep down inside of me, where that God-shaped hole used to be, said softly and quietly like a Mama to her young, “But you most certainly are.”
And I knew it to be true.
Woo hoo! I was nominated for the Sunshine Award by my girl Jacki Carr.
You see, a Sunshine Award is for bloggers, by bloggers, and is “a way to recognize people who have charmed, supported, enlightened, and inspired the awarder in recent months.” When one receives said award, the recipient must then answer some questions, tag the next recipients of their choosing, and ask them a handful of questions to answer as well.
Here are the questions Jacki sent me to answer:
1) How do you celebrate yourself and rock that self love?
Honestly I think one of the best things I can do is design my week. At the start of the week I map out my sweatfests, my “Me” time and a lot of my meals. I don’t always stick with it 100 percent but I know I feel my best when I’m living from my values and this weekly road map helps me stick with what I love and feel proud as I accomplish it.
2) Share a 1 year goal that makes your heart beat faster.
Design and fill three Rock Your Bliss worldwide retreats, one that is covered by a well-known media outlet.
3) If you were to describe your personality in an animal, what would you be and why?
A lion. I can be quiet but I’m grounded, powerful and strong as shittttt.
4) What makes you come ALIVE?
Honest, vulnerable conversation. Traveling all over the world (I prefer a backpack to a Four Seasons). A delicious meal with my husband. Being outside in the fresh air and blue skies. Writing. And absolutely teaching and coaching.
5) What is your power outfit? (i.e. You wear this top to bottom and you are unstoppable)
Dark skinny jeans. A plain tee. My amazing wedge Marc Jacobs boots that I found on consignment. And a lot of my favorite jewelry. Always gold and the danglier the better.
6) What is your favorite book you have read in your life thus far?
Hands down “Carry on Warrior,” by Glennon Doyle Melton. Please read it.
7) What is your mantra/declaration/intention today?
You are authentic, vulnerable and strong, and deserve to be seen and heard.
8) Alright, tell it to us, what is your guilty-est pleasure?
An evening of solo decadence which includes a bubble bath, a couple glasses of delish red wine, a Chocolove bar (the milk chocolate one with the toffee in a yellow wrapper), yummy smelling candles and a totally brainless fashion magazine.
Alright, now you sunshiney souls are up. I’m honored to count you as my friends as well as inspirations:
Bonkosi Alyssa Cress: Masterful Mama to Silas, style genius, best laugh award and one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever known.
Lyndsey Fyer: This girl writes like you won’t believe and for me, her words always hit straight home. Super duper soul.
Sarah Pohl: Midwestern yogini sister, beautiful balance of yin and yang (green juice and pina coladas), instant connection.
Here’s my questions for you:
1. What lights you up?
2. What can you not live without?
3. What are you listening to?
4. What’s your morning routine?
5. Who do you look up to?
6. What is sacred to you?
7. Where is your dream place to travel to?
8. What’s your biggest, juiciest holy shit goal?
Get it girls!
Well, the truth is I never really, truly left. Physically I was here, nestled into my little home in Venice Beach with my husband and our furry daughter. But my heart left for a little bit.
When I first moved to California, I felt like I’d found a piece of me that was missing. Like a soul mate. I fell madly in love with the year round farmers markets, the barefoot wetsuit-wearing fathers in the coffee shop early in the morn, the sunsets that looked like melted Crayolas.
I got kinda grouchy spouting off things like “there’s too much traffic” and “it’s too expensive.” Yeah, those things do kinda suck but I was speaking from a lack rather than an abundance. I had my blinders on to living one mile from the ocean. Blinders to the unbelievable family we have here. Blinders to the fact that we have our windows and doors open all year long.
Then I took a super early yoga class with a few of my closest friends. And we walked on the beach. For several miles in fact. The light was gleaming off of the waves. I had my feet in the sand and in the frigid water. There were seagulls and surfers everywhere. And I remembered:
California, you’re my soul mate.
And sometimes things change. And we might move eventually. But right now, we’re here and rather than bitching and moaning and pretending I’m not hopelessly in love with you, I’m going to soak it on up.
Three years ago today I had my first real date with Matt. I say “real date” because there were a couple of false starts, but I’ll reserve that for another blog post.
We sat at a community table at the Tasting Kitchen, the perfect little corner spot so we could sit with our knees touching, and ordered up oysters, an arugula salad, a cheese plate, a 32 oz. bone-in rib eye steak, an array of desserts and of course, two bottles of red wine. (Matt claims that the moment I ordered that steak, like any good Iowa girl should, he knew we’d spend our lives together. I just had to agree first.) He definitely knew the way to my heart was through my belly, and there was a kindness in his eyes and a sureness in his demeanor that instantly put me at ease.
I had another date later that week but went to the bathroom and cancelled it halfway through dinner.
“Out of all the guys, you’re my favorite,” my girlfriend Nicole drunkenly slurred to Matt on a particularly fun Jameson-fueled night at Chez Jay a couple of weeks later. Matt laughed, thank God. Later that night, I’m pretty sure I told Nicole I was going to marry him and she said “Jesus, I know… But not yet, okay?”
There was the moving in and learning that odd dance of living together.
The fumbling and missteps of one sink, no washer/dryer, “Why’d you get half and half and not heavy cream?”
And the moments where he was Patrick Swayze and I was motherfuckin’ Baby and things felt exciting and scary and nesting was fun.
There was the meeting the families coupled with a bit of culture shock, a whole lotta wine and often laughter.
There was an English bulldog named Rosy that softened us like warm butter.
And a almost a year ago, a wedding under an oak tree where began with Van Morrison and ended our vows with “Foreva Eva.”
So Mr. Aporta, what I’m trying to say is, Thank you.
Thank you for loving me so unselfishly. The beautiful parts, the dark ones, the in between.
Thank you for believing in me beyond what I could even see for myself.
Thank you for bending, not breaking, and always being down to do the dirty work a strong relationship needs.
My wish for us:
Let’s always stop to enjoy the view. Choose blue skies, fresh air and good people. And let’s keep laughing. Even if it’s at my expense.
“We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because the remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck. But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.”
- Elena Brower
“Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it.”
- Chinese Proverb
This week taught me to believe in magic.
The magic of twenty-two strangers showing up in Mexico to learn, sweat and create.
To get uncomfortably vulnerable.
To celebrate being silly and alive while flowing to Motown, Tupac and Jose Gonzalez.
The magic of creating something that did not exist prior to us dreaming it up and making it happen.
Of collaborating with another woman.
A woman that inspires the shiznit outta me and helps me be better.
The magic of yoga and goals.
On a mat, on a paddle board, on a beach.
The magic of leaning back on one another.
Feeling someone else’s sweat, skin and breath in a way that simply feels humanizing and beautiful.
The magic of karaoke, shedding layers, Mexican beer and laughter.
The magic of being truly seen.
And truly celebrated.
A week ago, just before I left, my friend Tyler texted me:
Mary Beth five years ago would be so happy if she knew what she was doing now.
She would and she is.
I lost my right wedge sandal on my first night of college after three too many Solo cups full of cheap beer.
I lost the phone number of my dreadlocked, heart-full-of-gold roommate almost immediately after our summer in London and have never found him again.
I lost my contacts in the Caribbean Sea.
I lost my grandmother, her hats, her books of rocks and birds and the smell of Carmex.
I lost my wedding ring but then I found it.
I let go of hundreds of coulda, woulda, shouldas.
I let go of the idea that there are things I must do. No need to stand awkwardly at a party when you’d rather go home and read.
I let go of relationships & friendships that always feel like swimming upstream. Exhausting.
I let go of the idea that my body is anything but perfect. After years and years of fighting it’s shape and curves, I shed some tears, ate a grilled cheese and never ever looked back.
I let go, and continue to, of the people who vex my spirit and make me feel tired.
I let go of doubt. I embrace trusting, laughing and drinking wine with people who feel right.
I let go of “I’ll be happy when ____”.
I let go of the idea that I’m going to be a runner. Or a surfer. It’s simply not happening, as much as I try.
I let go of feeling bad because I’m just not letting go enough.
I once tried to build a two-story lemonade stand on wheels and another time I attempted to knit a circus net that would catch me after I flew around the house several times impressing the neighbor kids. I was seven and convinced that I held as much magic as the world around me, skinned knees and all. I knew I could fly. I ended up on crutches most of that summer, unable to participate in games of tag and hide and seek. I sat on the porch swing, the very swing I launched myself from convinced I’d be lifted right into the bright blue sky, and called the neighbor kids names. That was the summer I first became aware that I could lose, and that there was a lot of “letting go” in life, that didn’t include leaping from the swing.
We lose and it hurts and we want it to stop. We learn to let go a little slower, with more grace. We stop building two-story lemonade stands, but if we’re lucky, a couple decades later we might pick it up again. We hold hands tightly, we sometimes hear last breaths, we sometimes dance til midnight.
We let go.
We become lighter.
We learn to unfurl our wings, at first a bit matted and clumsy.
We keep moving toward the light til’ we do what we are born to.
“Anything I cannot transform into something marvelous, I let go.”
- Anais Nin
“But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.”
- Billy Collins, from the poem “On Turning Ten”
This post is part of the Let it Go Project: a collection of stories leading up to a beautiful releasing ritual, hosted by Sas Petherick on the 30th of January. All the details for this free event are over here — join us!
As I’ve reflected on what I truly want in 2014, it all centers around getting intentional.
Last year’s word: Leap.
Leap into my every opportunity that comes up. Leap holding my husband’s hand. Leap with my eyes wide open.
Three years before: Learn.
The lessons really just would.. not.. stop.. By the end of that year I was begging for a reprieve but I emerged with a heart that was broken wide open, a strength that had been dormant and a lot more humility.
The year before that, and the couple prior, the word may have been Margarita but I’m not sure. It definitely wasn’t the Year of Intention.
And I never picked a word at the beginning of the year. Instead I set the same resolutions I do pretty much every single year – something along the lines of sweat more and drink less red wine – and only in reflection saw there was a bit of a theme going on. Lightbulbs and ah-ha moments but only in retrospect.
So why intentional?
My favorite moment in yoga class, whether I’m practicing or teaching, is the moment we get clear on an intention and what we are creating for this sacred time on our mats. I began taking it off my mat, setting intentions all day long. In traffic, in my relationship, with my writing, as I walked down the aisle nervous with excitement. Little paper airplanes sent right up to heaven with a wish written inside.
Intention brings color to all we experience.
By creating our intention, we create our universe.
And now I’ve been doing this living thing for thirty years now – sometimes fumbling, sometimes dancing, sometimes making big moves – and the word is no longer Margarita.
Instead it’s a time to get intentional in my work, intentional in my writing, intentional in my relationships, intentional at healing my body. Intentional in what I want and what I really don’t. There are no hard and fast rules. There’s simply noticing where you feel supported and where you feel joy and where you don’t.
Keep your gaze toward the light and keep moving toward joy.
What we strive for
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
and then nourishes
— David Whyte
Whenever you start guiding yourself by caring about how you feel, you
start guiding yourself back into your Stream of Source Energy, and that’s
where your clarity is; that’s where your joy is; that’s where your flexibility
is; that’s where your balance is; that’s where your good ideas come from.
That’s where all the good stuff is accessed from.
What would you tell your twenty-year-old self?
To eat more kale? To never ever skip Pilates? To make sure “thank you” cards go out exactly on time?
Highly unlikely, unless you are a young Martha Stewart or some sort of alien.
When I was twenty-two I took a job that I knew I’d be miserable in. But it was at a “prestigious” magazine and according to the talking heads of the world I really needed a 401K and health insurance. About a month into the job I started a two year countdown in my notebook and I quit right around the day. When I told people I was quitting my job to be a yoga teacher and a freelance writer I got a lot of bewildered looks and a whole lot of “But are you sure?”
Well, not feeling too sure when you are looking at me like I told you I wanted be a Unicorn.
And I made a lot of mistakes in the seven years since – like getting into to debt then getting out then getting back in again, sleeping through a couple of 7 am classes I was supposed to teach, telling my students to pull their shoulder blades in toward their farts (yes, seriously) – but man, I am inspired by what I do. Like every damn day. What a gift. Now when I make a mistake or do something seriously strange (I opened my mouth to exhale while teaching 50 students and a strange Teradactyl-sounding noise came out of my mouth) I just laugh. Like truly, truly laugh until my belly hurts and theirs do too.
As I reflected on the past year there were so many things to celebrate – leaps in my career and personal growth, getting married to a very rad man, traveling all over the world – and those things didn’t happen because of a diligently planned schedule. And all of those things weren’t easy either. Matt and I’ve had some epic blow outs. I’ve had moments when I felt like an imposter while teaching or coaching. And I was slightly hungover the morning of my wedding. And I wouldn’t change a damn thing.
Matt and I fight because we’re still learning how to create a partnership and a home. I was nervous while teaching and coaching because I wanted to deliver something perfect, and that’s a joke. And I was hungover because I had 175 of my favorite people ever in the same room and we were serving the best wine ever. Obviously.
My twenty-year old self would likely high-five my thirty-year-old self. Because I’m comfortable in my own skin, doing what I love and still a whole lotta fucking fun.
No need for the word “mistake.” How about experience? Learning? Moment in time? A truly funny sounding noise?
I want to move forward with grace, playfulness and a great sense of humor.
I want to laugh til I cry when I do something weird. Which is likely to be often.
And when I make mistakes, I want to bear hug anyone I’ve hurt, and if it’s just me, I’m gonna wrap my arms tight right around myself.
Looking cool is boring.
Go out and make some mistakes.
Then own them.
And above all, be sure to laugh (a whole lot).
I’ve decided 2014 is the year I start writing like J-School taught me. No more of this lil’ kid lowercase schtuff. Time to write like a lady.
My resolutions aren’t very normal this year but for me, they are inspiring because I really mean business. So besides this uppercase nonsense others include:
- Absolutely no gluten. Like zippo, zero nada. I was recently inspired by little brother who hasn’t touched it in a year and it has done wonders for his stomach and well-being. So no matter how good that double chocolate stout looks, I’m gonna say no.
- I’m off Facebook. I still have my yoga page up but as for personal use, I’m outta there. There’s nothing like Facebook for wasting tons of time and energy. I already can’t believe how much time I have saved and how very little I miss it. I will however be Instagramming and tweeting so meet me over there.
Besides that I’ve got some radical goals in the works and plan to do a lot more writing. I’m spreading myself a lot less thin this year and focusing on the activities (writing! biking! yoga!), the people (husband! Rosy! best friends!) and thoughts (joy!) that feed my soul and inspire me.
2014: Much Less Bullshit because I Don’t Have Time For It.
This might be my favorite year of resolutions yet.
this year, for both thanksgiving and christmas, we’ve opted to stay put. i’ve just finished addressing our christmas cards. the turkey and the ham are ordered for thanksgiving day. and monogrammed stockings have been ordered for the mantle, with our bulldog rosy included. you’d thinking i’m a regular martha stewart here, which is laughable if we’ve ever met, but with this being our first christmas together as a true family, i want so much warmth.
i remember thinking what a pain in the ass it must be for my parents to lug ten boxes of christmas decorations down from the attic every year and then have to put it all away three weeks later. you take it for granted when you are little. “this must just be how it is.” but no, that’s not the case. it’s about what you want to create.
so here’s what i want to create – i want a hodge podge of friends and family filling our living room, a fire rumbling all afternoon, glasses full of red wine and hot toddies. i want those ridiculous claymation christmas movies and to eat stuffing topped with cranberry sauce for days after. i want a full belly walk to the ocean and an afternoon nap. i want to start creating all the magic my parents did for us.
but we will start with just one box.