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.
on a call the other day with my coach, she asked how my relationship was.
answering truthfully i said, “this week it feels really hard.”
i felt ashamed saying that and she could hear it in my voice.
she responded: “why is hard a bad thing?”
such a simple question with a profound impact.
she followed up with, “how do you feel after a really hard yoga class?”
i pondered it: sweaty, free, content, inspired.
“and getting there takes some work right?”
i always have the comfort of knowing that a big, juicy shifts occurs after some sacred time on mat.
do i always wanna go? absolutely not.
do i make it there? yeah, the majority of the time.
am i 100 percent present the whole class? oh, hell no but i am certainly a lot more present then how i walked in.
why then do i have this notion that for something to be “right” it must be easy? as i get older i truly look forward to “the work” in all areas of my life. every conversation, every argument, every adventure, every dilemma presents me with endless opportunity to get to know myself better, to become more fully me in the best of ways.
my generation is pretty spoiled. we don’t like to be uncomfortable so we squirm and move and we don’t stay still to learn. sticking it out is when the work gets done. hate our job this week? quit. our partner annoys the shit out of us? leave. this town is boring? let’s move to bali. sure, there’s times when we should do just that but when a “grass is greener” mentality shows up everywhere maybe it’s not everybody else that’s the problem.
my new chosen thought: hard work equals freedom.
ah, that feels good.
i’m sitting at my makeshift desk with a candle burning and a hot mug of decaf. it’s sunday. by far, my favorite day out of the week. i slept in, hit up a sweaty yoga class with two of my good friends and have bought myself the afternoon just for me.
it was a tough week. i made the decision a few weeks ago to leave a yoga studio i have been teaching at for four years, a studio where i have truly grown into myself and have been lucky to have unbelievable students. i made the choice because i wanted my evenings. after a full day of teaching, coaching and running around, it was taking quite a bit of caffeine and sometimes a personal bribery of coconut ice cream to get me rallied to get there.
leaving the studio is scary to me. i rarely spend any time in my comfort zone as of late. what i’m up to demands me to live outside of it, as desired otherwise i would’ve always stayed put, but it can be pretty damn exhausting. what i know though, is that to give a lot to others, you’ve gotta take the time to fill back up.
at the end of my very last class at the studio last wednesday night, i took a moment to look around at so many of the students who have been there every week for years. our relationship has deepened beyond the time on the mat. i feel committed to their growth and happiness, and i think they feel committed to mine. i was determined not to cry until i heard a hiccup of a cry out of one of my students irena. immediate waterfall of tears from me. it’s almost funny – it’s not like i’m moving to alaska, i just won’t be at this studio anymore – but it’s also total proof of our powerful and vulnerable our time is on our mats. in fact, these relationships that i’ve built is precisely why i do what i do. it’s the truly yoga – a deep connection with others where we see ourselves in them and they in us.
as we said our goodbyes, irena handed me a package. i unwrapped it to find a tank she made me that said, “blisscrafter” on the front and “practice joy” on the back, as well as a card inscribed with a quote i read in her very first class:
“all is well, and you will never get it done. life is supposed to be fun. no one is taking score of any kind, and if you will stop taking score so much, you will feel a whole lot better – and as you feel a whole lot better, more of the things that you want right now will flow to you. you will never be in a place where all of the things that you are wanting will be satisfied right now, or then you could be complete – and you never can be. this incomplete place that you stand is the best place that you could be. you are right on track, right on schedule. everything is unfolding perfectly. all is really well. have fun. have fun. have fun!”
when she handed me that card i remembered the night i read it, i remember the extremely painful time i was going through, i remember trying not to cry.
but now i’m gonna cry, i’m gonna be vulnerable, i’m gonna be right outside my comfort zone if you are trying to find me.
because all is really well. have fun. have fun. have fun!
lately it feels like there’s not enough notebooks to hold my ideas.
enough time to tuck away in a coffee shop with my laptop, headphones and an americano.
to road trip.
but the beautiful thing is that there’s plenty.
i find i’m most inspired when i am actively creating my day, my week and, in turn, my life.
waking up early + taking rosy on a walk to the coffee shop + clients i love + time to write = a beautiful day.
a few hikes + a coffee shop date with a best friend + sweaty yoga classes + acupuncture + time to read at the beach + teaching classes = a fulfilling week.
and these equations of “what works,” or more aptly, what inspires me, shift as i do. ebb and flow all the time to accommodate my constant changing.
if you notice your equations aren’t adding up to equal bliss, ya gotta ask yourself – why aren’t you doing what you love?
fill up your day with people who uplift you, not drag you down.
eat foods that fuel you, not make you wanna nap all day long.
do pilates because it makes you feel radiant and strong, not because you think you have to. (if you feel that way, find something else! there’s so much to choose from.)
create, create, create.
create your day. create your life.
finding a pause can be revolutionary.
when you hit the fifth red light in a row, in the middle of a hot-and-heavy argument with your beloved, in the middle of teaching.
our true lives happen in the moment of the pause. the deep breath. the smell of the sea, fresh cut grass or fall leaves.
in fact, it’s sacred.
how many times have you charged ahead through an hour, a day.. hell, a whole month? then you have a moment where you truly pause and it’s like meeting yourself all over again.
oh, hi you. welcome home.
you want to hold onto that moment for dear life and never let go. the deep knowing, the feel of being fully present, of being home.
i recently came across a book from tara brach where she speaks about the sacred pause and a few days later, while browsing through my first yoga teacher training notebook, i found notes i’d scribbled about it.
a few words of wisdom from tara herself:
“we fill our days with continual movement: mental planning and worrying, habitual talking, fixing, scratching, adjusting, phoning, snacking, discarding, buying, looking in the mirror.
what would it be like if, right in the midst of this busyness, we were to consciously take our hands off the controls? what if we were to intentionally stop our mental computations and our rushing around and, for a minute or two, simply pause and notice our inner experience?
a pause is a suspension of activity, a time of temporary disengagement when we are no longer moving towards any goal. the pause can occur in the midst of almost any activity and can last for an instant, for hours or for seasons of our life.
we may pause in a conversation, letting go of what we’re about to say, in order to genuinely listen and be with the other person. we may pause when we feel suddenly moved or delighted or saddened, allowing the feelings to play through our heart. in a pause we simply discontinue whatever we are doing—thinking, talking, walking, writing, planning, worrying, eating—and become wholeheartedly present, attentive and, often, physically still.
through the sacred art of pausing, we develop the capacity to stop hiding, to stop running away from our experience. we begin to trust in our natural intelligence, in our naturally wise heart, in our capacity to open to whatever arises. like awakening from a dream, in the moment of pausing our trance recedes and radical acceptance becomes possible.”
i was in a yoga class several years ago, not long after i started practicing, when the teacher said: don’t believe everything you think.
it had honestly never even occurred to me, and better yet, how could it be possible? and by god, sign me up. my mind often resembles a ping pong match.
here’s a recent and rather tame inner monologue:
“yoga on the patio or at the studio?”
“you should go to the studio. you haven’t been there in awhile.”
“the studio will be too hot.”
“and wouldn’t it be nice to practice under the blue sky?”
“i should definitely go to the studio.”
“maybe i should practice three times a week at the studio and three times at home.”
“you’re not disciplined enough for that.”
“look how disciplined joe schmo is. you’ll never be like that.”
ugh, gross. and not very inspiring right?
i know i’m certainly not the only one who has the maddening roundabouts with themselves. it’s part of being human, and it’s also what has driven so many of us to end up on yoga mats, meditation cushions, self-help aisles and bar stools. the present moment is perfect and beautiful and whole, but our minds seem dead set on sabotaging that.
in yoga we refer to this sabotage as avidya. it’s a bit like walking around on the sunniest day with these terribly dark sunglasses that skew the color and are completely smudged. those glasses are avidya, which means delusion, and they wanna mess shit up. thoughts are just thoughts. they come and they go like clouds or waves or anything else that’s just passing through. we are the ones that seem dead set on keeping them sticking around.
through my life coaching training, i’m getting pretty good at kicking my thoughts’ asses. karate chopping right and left. truly no thought of mine is safe right now.
thought occurs: i am overwhelmed.
flip it: i am busy and fulfilled.
find evidence that supports that i am busy and fulfilled: my email inbox is full of opportunities, my schedule is full of dates with friends/events/classes, my house looks lived in.
once you’ve caught the thought and flipped that shiz, you have take away a lot of the thought’s power. now “i am overwhelmed” is no longer true. being busy and fulfilled feels good. and when it stops feeling good or feeling true, i’ll flip it again. flip flip flip.
it certainly takes time and work but the truth is : you get to create your reality, and if your reality is currently experiencing some major suckage, it’s highly likely your mind is the culprit.
do some spring cleaning in the mind and pick a beautiful reality. spend some time in silence. listen. then listen.
then flip it.
after my original birthday plans fell thru, being fancy schmancy at a hotel in hollywood, i said to my husband, “korean bbq and/or camping.”
“but it’s your thirtieth! no way!”
honestly, i’ve felt pretty damn spoiled this year. the first part of the year was like the wedding circus (bachelorette, shopping, wedding, honeymoon) and only a few months have passed since. but of course, i’ve gotta be that girl who does it all in one year – getting hitched and entering a new decade.
i left the plans completely up to matt. he settled on palm springs and said he had some points at the westin that we could use. i knew some of my friends were coming and, once again, after my wedding circus, was totally cool with those that couldn’t make it though i would have loved to have them there. so i packed a bag for this so-called westin and matt, ashley and i hit the road friday afternoon after a yoga class.
a couple of naps later we pulled into palm springs and headed toward the “westin.” if you don’t know me very well, i will clue you in that i can be very, very gullible. we enter the gate and pull up to this little condo.
my response: i didn’t know the westin had condos!
needless to say, matt had schemed like crazy and created this beautiful weekend starting with a rad little house with a pool, a crew of amazing friends who said they couldn’t make it and lots of junk food, dancing, karaoke, swimming and, of course, booze. pretty unbelievable if you ask me.
one of my favorite moments was sunday afternoon, at the very end of the weekend, when i was sitting poolside with three of my best friends and ashley suggests that we should shed our swimsuits. the guys were entranced with football in the air-conditioned living room. us girls were keeping ourselves entertained with cannonballs, mimosas and super trashy gossip mags.
we all looked at one another and came the conclusion:
why the hell not?!
there was so much laughter, so much honesty and lordy, did it feel good to be naked in a pool in palm springs. and the afternoon just turned into naked cannonballs, naked mimosas and naked magazine reading.
we committed to doing this every decade. baring our so-called flaws, embracing our raw inner and outer beauty and saying a big “why the hell not?”
it all goes back to who you want to be. maybe for you the idea makes you cringe, as it did my friend alyssa. but i’m starting to realize that i want reminders of my aliveness all around me. i want to love my sometimes squishy body. i want to celebrate it. i want live so vibrantly and radiantly that on my 80th birthday i strip down to my skivvies and love all of it. i want my babies to rub their little buddha bellies and be proud.
oh, and the tattoo. ishvara pranidhana on my inner left forearm which means “surrender to god.”
or surrender to being naked, vulnerable and alive, which i’m pretty sure is exactly what god intended.
hi thirty, it’s very nice to meet ya.
before i go running into this year with arms wide open, i’d like to take a moment to reflect on my twenties.
twenties, i truly owe you. we had a few rough and tumbles but lord were they necessary and i’d like to think i’ve escaped mostly unscathed.
you’ve taken me so many places – the canals of amsterdam, the mountains of switzerland, the coast of my beloved california, and mostly certainly mining deeply into the depths of my own heart. there’s been heartbreak so terrible it took two ambien to sleep (i do not condone this) and love so deep that i ended up in a white dress and cowboy boots. i’ve lost loved ones so special that i sometimes feel them years later in the strangest of moments (martha, you follow me everywhere and remind me to use at least some “discernment” which i’m sure my own mother greatly appreciates.) i now have a tribe of girlfriends so fierce and strong that i have absolutely no doubt nothing could break us. i have a little family with a husband who supports me in all ways and a bulldog daughter that melts my heart.
but i think the most beautiful and what i’m most grateful for is the ability to trust myself and the moment. it sure as hell took a long time to get there.
thank for you for mine and my family’s health. thank you for allowing me to do what i love as “work.” thank you for bringing the most special people into my life. thank for my everchanging practice of sweat, breath and imperfection. thank you for teaching me to not always believe what i think. thank for surprising me. thank for forgiving me. thank you for being messy.
(to those i hurt by being “messy” i’ve spent a lot of time being really sorry and feeling ugly. i have to leave that hurt and that sorry here, very much behind me, and hope that we’ve both grown from it and that we are where we are meant to be. darkness accompanies the light, and it has taken me quite a long time to get acquainted with it.)
in preparation for this coming decade, i sat down with one of my best friends to look at where i am right now and where i want to go. there were painful parts to move through, places where i am still causing myself pain, and beautiful parts that i’m creating every day.
we decided that the words i wanted to focus on for this decade were REAL and RADIANT. real as in authentic conversations, authentic relationships, authentic dreams. real as in not bullshitting anyone about where i am or who i am, in order to be “liked.” radiant as in radiant health, radiant energy, radiant daily goals and intentions.
but after pondering these for awhile i think another word i’d like to add is GRACE. thirty is beautiful but definitely a time of change. my body is changing a bit. my mind. my relationships. and are we start a family at some point during this decade, everything will shift. i don’t want to fight it. i want to embrace it all gracefully. pushing and fighting has always looked so damn ugly to me. just grace.
a few humble requests for this year -
inspiring communication with my husband. a three-day weekend somewhere with just my little brother. a strong body and an open heart. continuing radiant health for my family. a abundant yoga and coaching profession, as well as super fun collaboration. a little less thinking, a bit more breath.
oh, and hey thirty-year-old me,
you are beautiful. you are imperfectly perfect. and i really love you.
go take this decade by the balls.
“the place where you are right now
god circled on a map for you.
wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move
against the earth and sky,
the Beloved has bowed there.
our Beloved has bowed knowing
you were coming.
i could tell you a priceless secret about
your real worth dear pilgrim.
but any unkindness to yourself,
any confusion about others,
will keep one
from accepting the grace, the love!”
“what’s difficult in life is to stay centered when somebody says or does something that tempts us to close our hearts because their was closed. that is hard. but that is also how we grow. we go through those circumstances in order to evolve into people who can hold our loving center no matter what the world throws us.”
- marianne williamson
centered would not be a word i’d use to describe the last couple of months. more fitting? maybe whirlwind. change. growth. and throughout all of this, i’ve been looking toward my center but haven’t felt extremely grounded.
to be centered means something different to all of us. i know i feel my absolute best when i’m well-rested, eating healthily, practicing sweaty yoga and quiet meditation and always making it to my weekly acupuncture appointments. that’s my picture-perfect, control way to feel centered, but life happens. sometimes there isn’t time for it all.
what we do always have is our breath. inhale and exhale; ebb and flow. taking care of our inner selves and making sure our souls are well-fed, in order to move from our heart space. the curve balls will keep coming, no doubt about that, but tapping into our quiet, compassionate center will keep you grounded and open.
in true virgo fashion, i can be a big ol’ critical pain in the ass.
i can be hard on those closest to me. i jump to conclusions. my mind is a very busy illusory machine.
that being said, because i know this about myself, i keep the reins on my mind quite tight. i probably ask myself, “is that true?” twenty times a day, but when the acupuncture, the green juice and the sweaty yoga practice has been pushed onto the back burner, my inner demons rear their ugly heads.
after a challenging trip home, i had a weird week. i was feeling really critical of everybody but me, and that downward spiral was putting me in an epically shitty mood. so friday i picked up the phone and called my mom who entertained my bullshit for about ten minutes then promptly sent me an email:
“actually you were part of the reason the weekend was rough. so get over yourself. embrace the greatness about your life.”
a few years ago that email would’ve sent me into a tailspin but as soon as i got it i thought, yesyesyes you are so right.
i was missing the beautiful moments with my husband, with my family; the time spent in my childhood home; the afternoons in nature.. and it was all because i was caught up on a few shitty interactions.
sometimes our mirror becomes dirty and we cannot see ourselves or others clearly. in yoga we call this avidya. it’s important to question our view constantly because it’s distorted. the exact same thing could happen to you and i, and we’d likely have wildly different stories and experiences.
donna farhi likens deconstructing these barriers to cleaning the windshield on one’s car so that one can see the beauty and avoid the potholes while driving.
where does this critical inner nature come from? how can i feeling so loving and compassionate then the critic rears its ugly head? i think the only way to lessen it is to love it. to understand that it’s from a place of fear. to understand that it’s another reason to look even deeper within.
everything that’s happening is just simply happening. we are the ones that choose to attach a story to absolutely everything. when our story isn’t inspiring, it’s time to look in the mirror. it’s time to make a shift.