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!
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!”
i honestly cannot believe three months has passed. in some ways it seems like light years ago that we were standing under an oak tree surrounded by loved ones.
though we’d lived together for almost two years when we got married, these past three months have felt different. sure, there are rough days with bickering and unmet expectations and beautiful days when i’m looking goggly-eyed at my husband and cherishing every single moment. there’s a lot of work for me to do on myself, and i cannot imagine a better mirror to be looking into. i have never felt more myself, more loved, more challenged.
when we picked out our readings for our wedding, we wanted pieces that felt real. we knew what we were committing to would take hard work, and honestly that’s the most beautiful part. love doesn’t just descend on you like a cloud of pixie dust (though it may feel like that in the very beginning). it’s something you build brick by brick working toward a stronger foundation.
we had two, but this was my favorite reading. and i included the song i walked down the aisle to, sang by our beloved friend kevin martin.
so blessed for these three months. may god give us sixty years.
love you baby.
“but ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take… it is indeed a fearful gamble… because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.
to marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take… if we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation… it takes a lifetime to learn another person… when love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.”
- from “the irrational season” by madeleine l’engle
it’s been awhile since i’ve been the new kid.
i remember first arriving in los angeles meeting people at my job, at my 500-hour teacher training, at parties, at book clubs. that was four years ago.
i’ve since taught hundreds and hundreds of yoga classes, know my students so well and feel like venice is almost my hometown. now i’m taking a bit of a leap out of my comfort zone – teaching a couple of new studios and embarking on my life coaching training.
i don’t know about you, but being “new” is a delicious combination of exhilarating, ultra awkward and energizing. it’s a really, really good thing.
on wednesday i taught for the first time at a studio i love in manhattan beach. i’ve been teaching for about 7 years but i noticed as the class approached i started to get a little shaky.. heart beatin’ a bit harder.. my mind all over the place.
i think it’s middle school syndrome.
as confident and as sure of our path as we may be, there are those moments when we feel reduced back to our middle school selves.
we all have the thought: i sure hope they like me. it’s human. it’s just what you do with it.
so after the first class.. after the first life coaching call.. after the first date.. whatever it might be for you, you walk away a little lighter, a little brighter, full of joy. it’s all about leaping over and over and over again until it feels like the most natural thing in the world. and practicing a lot of compassion when it doesn’t. fumbling. falling. getting up.
can you step out of your comfort zone today?
this past week my mom flew in from iowa to hang with me while matt was out of town on business. and hang is just what we did. we hung in the living room, we hung at the yoga studio, went hung while shopping, we hung while cleaning our house. there was white wine, pizza, movies, laughing til we cried and of course, some yoga. i am really lucky to have a super cool mom – she gives great advice, can drink wine like a champ and has a killer sense of humor. some people think it’s really strange that she was at my bachelorette party and that we talk on the phone a couple times a day but it’s just the way it is. there’s no other way for us. we’ve simply become best friends.
there was a couple of times this weekend when she referred to my “husband,” and we just looked at each other like, “wow, holy shit.” in some ways i feel like i’m eight when i’m with her, and in other ways, like we are peers. she passes me words of wisdom, and i help her in many ways too. it’s pretty cool to watch that evolve throughout the years.
at one point, when i was leading yoga teacher training, she sat in the living room and at one point offered her beautiful insight. afterward, she apologized.
“i’m sorry i said something.”
“i shouldn’t have said anything.”
years and years ago my life was based around avoiding my mother saying anything and avoiding many of the adventures i soaked up this weekend (especially the adventure of washing our bathroom towels..). today, it’s about cherishing it. wishing i’d paid more attention along the way. listening to her stories and listening especially carefully now while i can. seeing myself in her constantly. what we have is rare. it’s not permanent. and i am cherishing every last second.
i only hope that i am someday drinking vino and watching movies with my daughter and that we can have even a bit of the beautiful, totally-at-home relationship i’ve been so lucky to have with mine.
thank you mom.
if there’s anyway to describe life right now it’s full. and it’s most certainly not just mine.
just this morning we got together for a little diner breakfast send-off for ashley who is heading to uganda for the next couple of months.
and the rad part is that all of us are in that space of doing really cool things and the even better part is that we are radically supporting the hell out of one another.
friday night after much vino and sunshine, a few of us sat in my living room talking about just that. i grew up pretty terrified of other girls, and my friends agreed that they felt the same way. being “supportive” was just about as foreign to me as the ocean in small town iowa, and when i look back at that, it makes me sad. when i got to college, i was surprised at how nice girls could be, but definitely still scared and very unwilling to make myself vulnerable to anyone that could hurt me. you can imagine just how much fun that was..! it took up so much precious energy too.
turning thirty in just a few months has made me look back at these different stages of my life, of myself, and i feel almost jumpupanddown grateful to be where i am. yes, of course, i still feel weird tinges of jealously or bitchiness for no apparent reason, but now i check myself. “what the hell is this about?” on some days and other days i ask myself more compassionately. and then i work to take a big leap in the direction of vulnerability. that’s where all the juiciness lives. that’s where my friendships are flourishing.
at one point a few months ago a friend of mine and i had a big ol’ ah-ha moment where we both realized that we had completely different stories about one another playing in our heads. those stories were creating this almost hilariously huge wall between us – i couldn’t see her; she couldn’t see me. hell, we couldn’t even shout over it. once we figured that out, and uncovered it, the darkness of it all just sort of vanished. it almost became funny and is especially funny now, that we have become extremely close and collaborative.
if something or someone scares you, good! dig in. get juicy. have a cry. uncover the story. and then have a hell of a good laugh over it, and perhaps a glass of wine. all we can hope for is to become more and more ourselves in this lifetime and be surrounded by those who support it.
(thanks to all of my inspiring friends who love my light and dark, laugh and cry with me, and share many good bottles of wine. i love you.)
almost all of april was devoted to our wedding then traveling for our honeymoon. to put it mildly, i feel like i’ve been living in a very, very good dream, one that i didn’t much want to wake from. but our re-entry back to our lives in venice has been lovely. coming home to our pup, who didn’t punish us too much for being away so long; to our amazing friends, who we shared many bottles of red wine with; and to our home, which we really came to miss as we traveled and lived out of suitcases for a few weeks.
every hour and dollar spent planning and paying for the wedding was beyond worth it. every worry i had seemed really silly in retrospect because it all unfolded exactly as it should. and the immense love we were surrounded with that day was nothing short of transformative.
so with a couple of backpacks and some major fatigue, we boarded our flight to thailand with some trashy magazines and junk food (yay!) and continued living in our little bubble as we traveled all over the south. all we had were our flights there and back, and not a single plan. we had so many adventures, like riding an elephant in the jungle, celebrating thai new year with water guns and singhas, and living in a jungle treehouse, all of which matt referred to as some “bucket list type shit.”
we are home, carrying worlds of gratitude and love (i seriously still have butterflies from it all), and every day working to co-create a beautiful, conscious life.