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
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!
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.