Saturday, October 14, 2017

Love Anyway


This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Mostly, due to the fact that I am feeling my own struggle and resistance with it right now. 

This morning when I woke up I got on the scales. Even as I type that I worry about the judgement which probably calls for an entirely different post at a later date

Am I seeing that correctly? I thought as I stared at the numbers. 

Aside from the stress disappearing from the wedding planning, I haven't really changed any habits, but what was once welcomed weight, felt no longer welcomed.

All of the sudden, I could feel myself beginning to spiral. I could feel my thoughts tangling themselves up. If something is wrong with me, I need to go the doctor. If something isn't wrong with me, then what is happening? What am I doing differently? I want to go for a run. I need to run. Maybe I won't eat today. Maybe I will just have water. I didn't eat very much for dinner last night, how could this be happening? What can I do to fix this? Change this? I could feel myself spinning out. Grasping for control, I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I wanted to leave my body. As I put on my running shoes and headed out the door, my husband stopped me. I told him how I was feeling. He hugged me. He told me he loved me. He tried to talk me out of the hole I was digging myself into, but I continued to head out the door on a mission. I wanted to figure out how to fix this and hide all at the same time. 

As I slowed down and began to walk I started thinking about what my yoga teacher says,"if we look for stability in our ever-changing world we will suffer. We have to connect to that place within us that is not defined by our outside circumstances."
As I thought about this, I closed my eyes. I could feel the wind on my face. I felt the sun on my skin and as silly as it may sound, I thought about how I felt in this moment. If I hadn't gotten on the scale this morning what kind of day would I be having? How would I feel? 

I could feel myself shift as I stepped back. In this moment, I felt happy, healthy, strong and vital. In this moment, I felt grateful for my body. I felt grateful to be able to walk, run and be outside. 

Slowly, my thoughts stopped spinning and as I collected my breath, I could feel myself calming down. This work was actually familiar. It's something I share with others in yoga repeatedly. What I wish for all girls, women, people, in general, is to be free of this feeling because I know it as one that can take a perfectly beautiful day and turn into something bad. 

When we wrap ourselves up into our thoughts this way, it takes us away from our inherent worth. Before we know it, we've just given our sense of self/power over to something that doesn't define us. 

I know all of this because it's really easy to do. I know this feeling. I know the allure of perfection. I've sat in it for years at a time. I've even tried to swim in it, but it doesn't work. It only makes us feel too exhausted for the things that really do matter in life. 

And while it's easy to attach our worth to something outside of ourselves, what's actually hard is to wake up every day and love ourselves anyway. 

But, what happens when we are brave enough to love ourselves anyway?
What happens when we are brave enough to love ourselves no matter how much we weigh?
Or what we look like?
Or how much we've accomplished?
How much money we've made?
How powerful we are?
How many people like us?
What our kids do or don't do?

What happens when we can just be and breathe?
What happens when we choose how we eat, live, love based on how we truly feel rather than how we want to look or want something else to look? Whether it be our bodies, relationships or choices in general...

Can we be brave enough to love ourselves anyway?

Today, I had to work at it. Tomorrow, I'll have to work at it... maybe it will get easier, maybe it won't. This I know for sure though, bravery lies in our ability to be human. It really does because nothing is perfect. 

So we have a choice every day and the choice is can we love ourselves anyway?

This is the work I want to do and would rather do.

I would rather eat my breakfast tacos and enjoy them than let a fucking scale determine if I'm going to eat today. 

What would you rather do? 

Think about it and love yourself anyway.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Brace for Impact

It's been a long time since I've written anything in the evening, but this screen with buttons keeps nagging at me, so here I am. I can't seem to write enough lately. It's almost like I have so much to say, that I can't seem to say anything at all or at least that's how I felt as I was tripping over my words teaching yoga this afternoon. As I mentioned in my previous post, over the weekend, I went to Dallas for a weekend yoga workshop. I had a four-hour drive so to pass the time I played different podcasts, two being from Oprah's Super Soul Sunday with Brene Brown. Yes, I am both a HUGE Oprah and Brene Brown fan. As I passed through the great state of Oklahoma into Texas, Brene was talking about courage, what it means to dare greatly, and vulnerability. One of the things she said keeps playing in my mind and I can't seem to get it out of my head because my yoga teacher also alluded to something similar. She said that one of the things we're most afraid of in life is joy. Oprah had a tone of surprise when Brene mentioned this, but I sat there in my car nodding. I knew exactly what Brene was talking about, much to my own dismay. She went on to say that we worry when things are bad, but we often worry just as much when things are going well. I again found myself nodding my head, thinking, this is my whole life. Why do we do this? We want to try to prepare as much as possible for the other shoe to drop. Brene said that the truth of it is that we are actually terrified of vulnerability. We try to protect ourselves so much from feeling anything. We think if we prepare for the worst that it will somehow cut down on the pain when and if it comes, but all it really does is keep us from our joy. Wow. I could cry that hits me so hard even as I type it. My whole life I feel I've been bracing for impact. I walk a tightrope of holding on while pretending to let go. It keeps me just safe enough. Once I arrived at the workshop, still replaying Brene's words, my yoga teacher made the statement that we are always changing and because of this change we often live in fear because of the unknown. He too said that we fear when things are going really well, and we also fear when things aren't going so well. In this case, what do we do? In yoga we use our breath to stabilize us, not only in postures but in our own heads. Like an anchor, we use our inhales and exhales to keep us present, but why? As Rod Stryker pointed out this weekend, the practice helps us to connect us to that part of ourselves which is constant, unwavering, indestructible, and really even undefinable. This is something I've known. It's a place that's even hard to write or talk about because it's something we feel not something we find. It's this place that we come back to, that we rest in and find solace in so that we can find stability even when our outside world is shifting. It helps us to stay steady so that our outside circumstance doesn't have so much power over us. We often give our job, relationship, successes, failures too much power and because of it, we wrap our identities around things that are constantly changing, so how could we ever find consistent joy? Maybe it's unattainable, but in the practice of yoga some would say that it is attainable. Me, even being a doomsday skeptic would say that it is, but it's challenging. When we can rest in this place, we can step back and not only witness but gain clarity in our lives. When we rest in this place, we are able to find something constant within us which makes the outside world much less powerful.

To relax more, and worry less.

I think joy is worth it.

“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace.” 
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Monday, September 11, 2017

Past, Present, Future

After a full weekend of yoga in Dallas, it's so nice to be home with nothing but house chores and school on my to-do list for today. I feel like I am moving slowly this morning while the practices we did through the workshop settle into my muscles, bones, and thoughts. A yoga weekend with my teacher means a lot of heart work. Not the muscle heart, but the heart we refer to when talking about how we feel/our emotions. He's not the type of yoga teacher to spew off "yogic phrases." You probably wouldn't ever catch him saying something like, "breathe into your heart," because he doesn't have to. He really allows the practices we do to speak for themselves, and wow, they do. With just a little time to reflect here, I can't help but feel nostalgic and at the same time amazed at the way life unfolds. I started writing this blog after moving out of New York, going backpacking through the Himalayan mountains in India all before ever stepping foot on a yoga mat. I even talk about my first class on this blog. When I moved to Houston from Dallas, I really had no idea where it would lead. I can't help but think everyone must have these connections in their lives. These weird coincidences that nug and remind us that maybe nothing in life is random. We all have our experiences, our memories of the things that have made us happy, broken our hearts, and made us in some way who we are today. Hoping to learn from it all, we look back only so we know how to move forward, more wisely, more consciously, and hopefully more lovingly.

My attention can't help but turn to the date. The remembering done this day is edged in our minds and hearts as we recall where we were, emotions, and feelings. We do this so we learn how to move forward.

My teacher did say over the weekend, "your future is the past, modified by the present."

I'm grateful for this space to reach out, connect, dig into my thoughts a little and let them land here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Personal Side of Change

My first day back in grad school was yesterday and I will say, you know you're in the right place when you bought one of your required books years ago to read on your own. As much as I feel like I know absolutely nothing when it comes to counseling, I do feel like I'm exactly where I am supposed to be as I hang on every word spoken in class. What is interesting/different about counseling is the perspective it brings to everything else in life. Last night, in my Brief Therapy class we talked about change. Do people really change? Is change possible? What does change look like? Why is change challenging? As we approached all of these questions, I thought about my own relationship with change, especially when looking to change a habit, perception, or incongruent belief. From my experience, change takes time and compassion. My yoga teacher talks about how we are always changing. We are either moving towards ourselves in a positive way or away from ourselves. I said this to the professor last night, along with sharing the fact that my dad is a recovering addict. When it came to changing his addict behavior, I feel like it really came down to acceptance, love, forgiveness, and compassion. It had nothing to do with saying, "okay, tonight I won't drink." In class last night I shared that I feel we have the core of who we are which can be referred to as our spirit, our soul, our essence, and then we have our behavior. In watching my dad journey through and into recovery when he was 57, it felt like instead of removing a behavior, he was simply in the process of remembering who he truly is. He was learning how to come back to himself. I realize and understand that depending on circumstance, the situation is different for everyone. As a family, we had a lot of resources at our fingertips that allowed not only my dad the ability to do some deep work in rehab/in therapy, it allowed all of us as a family too, which I am truly grateful for. By the end of class last night, we were talking about change being truly personal. No matter if it is a change for the better or not, we are often resistant to change based on our own fear. We have strong attachments as humans. We are taught to self-identify in order to be somebody and it doesn't matter what that looks like as long as we do it to belong somewhere. The only way I know to change is to love myself right where I am, to forgive, and to have compassion for the learning that is always taking place. Last night my professor said, "Do the next right thing."

I like that. Do the next right thing.

 Move within, But don't move the way fear makes you move.”-Rumi 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

To the page I go...

Last night, before falling asleep, I turned to my husband and told him that when I was younger, I remember reading The Little Engine That Could, but it was never one of my favorite books growing up because it seemed like a boy book. I asked him his thoughts about creating a girl version, and as I rambled on about the male and female brain, I went to sleep thinking about writing a children's book because The Little Engine That Could is something that everyone needs to read.

This was sparked after coming home last night from a full yoga class at Maitri, or what we now affectionately call, The Yoga Collective at Maitri. When I first started dreaming up the yoga studio I remember the months leading up to it. I didn't research anything about the business of yoga, or yoga studios in general at all. Even though I would be moving to a new city, new state, I don't remember thinking very much about what it would take to open the studio itself. I just remember practicing yoga during that time and lingering after class waiting to talk to my teacher. One day I was gathering up my belongings from the space where we kept our bags and she came in with some cards. I had never pulled cards before and had no idea what it was or what it meant, but she told me to just pick one of the cards and see what it says. I pulled one and it said "trust." There wasn't any other guidance, but I remember the yellow on the card, and maybe there was a staircase or someone peeking around a corner holding a light. I actually have no idea if any of those images are correct or accurate, but that's what I remember. She asked me if it resonated with me and I nodded.

I knew. I knew exactly what I needed to do even though I had no idea how I would go about doing it. I had no idea what it would take to open the yoga studio. I didn't know how much money I would need or any logistics. I didn't even know if I would find a space or a place to live. All I knew was that I had an idea and even more than an idea, I had a desire to share. There was a tug. I didn't have any fears or concerns, mainly looking back now because I had no idea what to expect. There was nothing to be afraid of because I just didn't know. I didn't have an outcome. I didn't have a measuring stick, all I knew was that I wanted to share. Now, looking back, I thank God for these blinders because as I've sunk my teeth in, I realize that if I would have known, I would have been overwhelmed. There probably would have been way too many "what ifs."

As I have moved through navigating the studio, I have been amazed by the way it continues to grow. I am not even sure at this point if it is anything I have done. My job, my sole job has been staying out of the way. In some ways literally and in some ways figuratively. I am not even sure where all this blind faith has come from/came from, but I always have trusted and continue to trust that everything would be provided one step, one breath at a time.

In the past year, I have gone back to school to get my Master's in Counseling. I moved an hour away from the studio, and have gotten married. It's been a lot of change, and all the while, the studio space has been taken care of and I am in awe of it. The ladies that work alongside me are incredible, but that is an entirely different post altogether.

When we get out of the way, I truly believe the powers of God can be seen. As I type that, I question whether I am blowing this out of proportion, but I'm not. The studio is like the little engine that could. Along the way, it's gotten all the help it needs, and it continues to "chugga, chugga" it's way. It amazes me.

The only part I've played is not giving up.
So, today, don't give up.
If your heart is in it, it's worth it. I promise. That is a promise I can make, so trust, breathe and get out of the way.

Everyone needs The Little Engine That Could in their lives. Stay tuned... 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I wish I had blogged throughout my engagement, but you can't go back; and now here I am, married. Wow. People that didn't attend the wedding keep asking me how it was, how it went, and how it feels to be married. One sweet lady at a birthday party last weekend looked at us, newlyweds, and said, "now the real work begins." I smiled, looked at her, and nodded knowingly. People say that getting married should be the easiest decision of your life. While I appreciate the sentiment, I do feel that when you are going into marriage at the age of 31 and 33, most likely you have dated, a lot or perhaps that's just me; but, for the the most part you have probably had experiences that have shaped you, changed you, and maybe even given you a sense of self that isn't based on anyone else. These are all great, and wonderful things, right?! Yes! There have probably also been moments where you start to get used to all of this freedom, and really can't imagine life any differently. Living by yourself, heck yes! Dating, yes! Endless possibilities, best thing ever! But, then you meet someone and suddenly, you find yourself wanting to be around them more than you like being alone, inevitably, you spend more time with them. Then, you realize you don't ever want to be without them, but it's different. There isn't a fear of rejection because you know you could live without them, heck you have for so many years... but, you still might not like the idea of not having them around, so you keep dating. Perhaps years and months go by and before you know it, you find yourself in the middle of a proposal. You might not even realize he's proposing. It just sneaks up and then all of the sudden, you're engaged! Happiness, happiness, happiness, REALITY. Life is about to change.

Growing up, as a little girl I dreamed about a wedding one day and accompanying the wedding day an image of someone. He might be tall, dark, handsome, and I might have imagined him sweeping me off my feet, only to ride off into the sunset together. While that is a wonderful image, the reality of getting married feels much different. From the moment we got engaged, life was happening. We moved into a house together, and with that came talk of a mortgage and how we were going to do payments, and how much we were going to spend for renovations, etc. We both moved out of our own places, all while he transitioned into a different job and I started school to get my Master's degree. Life carried on, and we began planning the wedding while talking about our backgrounds, how we grew up, our differences, our similarities, and how we inevitably knew it would all impact our life moving forward as a couple. We had some tense moments. There were times when our living room fire would be blazing until the early hours of the morning. The 2am question would be, are we doing the right thing by getting married? This was not an easy decision for either one of us because we both knew it was the biggest decision we had both ever made, individually and collectively. It felt weird not to be basking in the warm glow of love, bliss, and all things wedding. It's what I had read about it. It's what I had believed was supposed to happen. You meet the one, and everything just magically falls into place. Were we doing this right? Was something wrong with us? Where is the engagement bliss?

I am actually not even sure I can give you an answer to those questions, but what I can tell you is that through our fear, differences, and difficulties during our engagement came a better understanding of what it meant and would mean to be with the person I now call my husband. Standing up with him at the altar, it didn't matter if he could ride away with me into the sunset; I knew he could stand with me in the fire. That became more important to me than anything. For the first time in my life, I experienced someone truly standing beside me.

Now, in this moment, today, all the fear that I felt over this perceived loss of freedom, loss of identity that I had built up for 31 years fell away, as I realized I still had it all and so much more. I've dated enough to know that this is rare.

So, while I wish I would have chronicled all of this during our year-long engagement, I am grateful to have the ability to land here and wrap my arms around all of my thoughts, feelings, fears, and perspectives.

For those of you walking down the aisle soon, just know whatever you're feeling is normal, and valid, just don't let fear get in the way.

This was read at our wedding and I love it.

"The Irrational Season"Madeleine L'Engle
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
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
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. 

Thanks for listening, friends. 

P.S. (The photo is from our wedding day captured by the amazing Rachel Havel)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Take Your Seat

"Take your seat."

I have been trying to remind myself of this since I said it in yoga last week. As the students were settling into class and beginning to set intentions for their practice, I was thinking about the word asana and how it translates to the word seat. So often, I think we go through life without ever really and truly claiming our seat. Sometimes we even give up our seats, and whether for good or not so good reasons, the eventual reality is that if we don't ever claim our seat in this world, in this life, we will miss the moment. While I do believe that what is meant to be, will be; I do not believe the sentiment means that we sit back passively. After class was over, and I had said all of this and more, a student asked me if I had read what I had said in a book. When I said no, she told me I should write. "Write these things down." It was an innocent thing to say, and something I've heard before, but now sitting here, I realize I've never wanted to claim this seat. I've pushed aside carving out time to write for other things that keep me busy, distracted and negate the risk of claiming this seat. However, the fact is this is the very thing in my life I want the most. I want to write.

So, coming back to this medium as something that I am comfortable with, I am going to work to claim this seat, this seat as a writer.

Today and every day, we have to decide to claim our seat. Whether it is sitting in joy, courage, compassion, or something/somewhere else, I believe we have to decide where we want to sit every day.

Take your seat.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Current Happiness

It's summer. Summer is here!

Let the fun commence...
I love these gender-neutral bedrooms from My Domaine 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Before doing anything else this morning...

I wanted to sit down and write. Yesterday, when I got home from work I found myself here looking through old blog posts trying to put pieces together. The pieces of my life that brought me here. I haven't blogged in a long time. I think I was told no less than four times yesterday that I am a writer. I've been neglecting this part of myself; maybe due to school work, teaching, and all the other stresses of life that swirl around what it means to grow up. Right now the news is muted. My coffee is waiting is for me, but there was one thing I needed to do this morning more than anything: write. I could feel my fingers ache last night, and that little whisper pulling me back here. Maybe, I even talked myself into being something else. Something other than a writer, because in the grand scheme of things, all I've ever really written about is on this blog... but, somehow it's enough. It's enough to remind me that deep within myself, without putting things down into words that form sentences, there is a part of my voice that gets lost. It's as if this is my way of anchoring; just like using my breath in a yoga class, it's an anchor providing me some sort of support to lean on. I wish I really knew where to begin, so I guess aside from searching for something to catch you up on I will just say that when looking through this blog, it makes sense. It all makes sense. The last blog post I read before going to bed last night was one I wrote before moving back to Arkansas.

I'll leave a part of it here:

But this issue of growing up, it's not all that easy because it requires a lot of courage. Particularly it takes a lot of courage to relate directly with your experience. By this I mean whatever is occurring in you, you use it. You seize the moment? moment after moment? you seize those moments and instead of letting life shut you down and make you more afraid, you use those very same moments of time to soften and to open and to become more kind. More kind to yourself for starters as the basis for becoming more kind to others.

One time when I was a child, I was feeling very upset and angry at one point. I think I was around seven or eight. And there was this old woman, who I later become very close to. But the first time I ever met her, I was walking down the street kicking stones with my head down, and I was feeling very lonely. I was basically feeling that nobody loved me very much and that people weren't taking care of me. So I was walking along angry at the world, kicking stones. And this woman said, "Child, don't let the world harden your heart."

And I always remember that. It was the first real teaching I received, I think. It's still a teaching I remember. And in terms of this teaching on maitri, this is really the key. People's lives, through all of time, have had a lot of difficulty in them The Buddha's first teaching was that there is suffering in life, If you're born as a human being, there's suffering. At the very least, there's the suffering of illness, of growing old and of death at the end. Not to mention that the more you love are able to open, there's the suffering of not getting what you want and of losing what you do want. Just some inevitable sufferings.

Nowadays, this is an especially difficult time in the history of this planet, Earth. it's a difficult time. And in times of difficulty, people get very frightened. Often when I'm teaching a lot of the questions are that people ask about just the subject. People inevitably say, "Yes, but it's dangerous, it's getting more and more dangerous just to walk down the street. We need to protect ourselves."

I think the point is when our lives are difficult, in small ways or large ways, when we're going through a lot emotionally, or when difficult things are happening in our environment, do those things cause us to become more uptight and afraid. Or do those very same things, when the teachings are applied, soften us and can open us?

To me, this is how I practice and this is the most important thing. You never know what's going to happen to us. In any day of our lives you never know what's coming. That's part of the adventure of it actually, but that's what makes us scared, is that we never know. And we spend a lot of time trying to control it so that we could know, but the truth is that we don't really know.

Really, I think a lot of people, like children, you're wanting some kind of practice that's not going to take you into anything uncomfortable but at the same time you want the practice to heal you. And it just doesn't work like that.

The question is how do you relate when things are uncomfortable? That's really the question.

As far as I'm concerned, in terms of spiritual path, that's the main question: how do you relate with the difficulties? How do you relate with the feelings you have and the situations you find yourself in?

This particular teaching on the Four Limitless Ones, on maitri, compassion, joy and equanimity is really a teaching on how to take the situations of your life and train- actually train- in catching yourself closing down, catching yourself getting hard, and training in opening at that very point, or softening. In some sense reversing a very, very old pattern of the whole species, which is a pattern of armoring ourselves. It's sort of like the essence of the whole Path is in that place of discomfort and what do you do with it? 

Pema Chodron tells this story so well, and I really love the message of this. In my life, I have experienced things that I blamed myself for, that I realize now, after a lot of therapy, were not my fault. I didn't practice loving kindness to myself at all for a long time, because I believed I didn't deserve it. The truth is, we all deserve it. When things are uncomfortable, it's a reminder that we are human, perfection isn't needed, but compassion is. 

With love,