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.
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).
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.
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!”
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.
yes to the afternoons of reading and napping in the sun.
yes to the hummingbird flitting about the lemon tree.
yes to the spontaneous afternoons of laughter, beer gardens and sunburns.
yes to my sweaty, everchanging yoga practice.
yes to sleeping in on a monday.
yes to it all right now. a big ol’ yes.
i was on a call with martha beck last night and she said this:
“it’s as simple as this: play until you feel like resting. rest until you feel like playing.”
monday, when i wrote my last post, i was in a bad place. life and death bad? of course not, but it was just one of those days where i couldn’t quite get out of my head and just felt like a big ol’ BLAH! (exclamation mark included.) after i spilled the words and got my truth out, i felt immensely better. the ironic part? after writing about not wanting to go to yoga, i really wanted to. i went, i sweated, laughed with a girlfriend and felt a whole helluva lot better. i walked home slowly, taking some back streets and just took it in. i had been stuck on repeat for the past few days, and needed to shake it up.
that’s why i absolutely loved what martha said last night. play. rest. rest. play some more. move at your own rhythm. a rhythm that varies every single day.
just ask yourself in this moment:
is it time to rest? or time to play?
then get out of your own way!
“there is no secret to balance. you just have to feel the waves.”
— frank herbert
in my mind my return from my honeymoon went something like this:
arrive back from thailand tan, peaceful and super duper disciplined. hit the ground running. eat kale for, like, every single meal. go to yoga every day; maybe twice. perhaps even take up running.. on the beach.. in shorty shorts. get rid of cable and read. be done with wedding thank yous just by looking at them. drink less wine. volunteer.
in reality, it’s gone a bit more like this:
arrive home jet lagged as a mofo. eat pizza in airport after swearing i was done with gluten forever after my last pad thai. catch up on all the “game of thrones” episodes. finish shantaram (success!). eat every single thing i was craving before my wedding but would not let myself eat due to wedding photos. be really, really enamored with my husband and my bulldog (yay! a good thing!).
even today while eating a bagel with lox (another thing i was dying for) i googled:
oprah gave me some advice. so did about.com’s fitness guru. a random blogger or two. then i called my mom, and said, “what the hell is wrong with me?!!”
“of course you are tired,” she said. “your dad and i have been tired for a month and it wasn’t even our wedding.”
how could i be tired? i’ve been on vacay for three weeks. but you know what? i am. i believe i’ve got a case of wedding hangover.
so instead of beating myself up because i’m not doing all the kale-eating and downward dogging i thought i should be right now, i’m going to give myself a little leeway. in the past year i’ve gotten engaged, moved into a new house, outfitted said house, planned a wedding, made a bunch of career shifts&leaps and then got hitched. and life will keep coming in easy waves and tidal waves, and i’ll come back around. i always do.
the beauty of the ebb and flow.
pass me a bagel please.
my apologies while i’m a bit absent for the next month or so! soaking up these last couple of weeks before our wedding at the historic santa margarita ranch, then heading to thailand with my husband(!) for the rest of april.
will be back in full-force in may, and cannot wait to share so much! i will be blogging a lot (for reals) and launching my blissed living online workshops this summer.