Friday, November 23, 2012

unconditional love for life, even when it smells like farts

You know what sucks sometimes? Life. You know why? Because we let it.

Okay, peace out. That's all I had to share.

Jaykay, dudes. I wouldn't leave you hanging after not updating in an embarrassingly long time. (Sorrrryyyy).

I've written about this before, because I've dealt with this before. I determined life can be a jerk and that we have a choice in how we react. I then figured, just by way of knowing this, that I'd magically be super great at reacting; like some sort of peace warrior. Or a happy ninja. Like the Pink Power Ranger.


Turns out, life is going to be good and bad and hard and fun and easy and lame. Forever. Life is like a relationship. I'm not married and I don't have a boyfriend, but from what I've seen and experienced, there is no magic tipping point in any couple's timeline in which everything becomes perfect. If unconditional love is the foundation of a relationship, as it should be, the yucky moments will be fused together by a really rad, glorious level of understanding. These two people will disagree with each other, one will experience pain while the other won't, one might unintentionally say the wrong thing or make a really dumb choice, and so on and so forth. But again, if this relationship is built on unconditional love, these speed bumps will be met with an understanding that it will change and that everything will be okay.

What if we had unconditional love for the events of our own lives? All of them. Especially the yucky ones.

All of the following things happened within about two weeks: 
  • One of my good friends passed away. I spent several days in the hospital before he died. 
  • Another friend was hospitalized and had surgery before I could visit her.
  • The day after she was released, my best friend was hospitalized for another condition. 
  • Another friend moved away suddenly and for a good cause, but watching him leave was hard.
  • A family member fell ill and may need surgery.
Throughout all of this, my body has taken a beating. I feel like a puffy marshmallow who can only eat more puffy marshmallows. I don't even like marshmallows. My spine is pretty upset with me and my chiropractor called me a jigsaw puzzle. There's more, but for the sake of time, I'll leave it at that.

If I'm taking my own advice here, I should be able to have unconditional love for all that really crappy stuff I just listed. But, last time I checked, I'm human. So there's pretty much no way that I could have rocked through all of that with butterflies flying out of my butt and cartoon hearts shooting out of my ears. Looking back (assuming Bad News Train has left Toots Station), I do feel like I could have handled things better. I got real low for a solid week. And not the cool "get low, girl, get low" kinda low. I was crying a lot, guys. I mean, I was a sloppy mess. 

But, if I'm honest with myself, I wasn't a weepy pile of unproductive poo because of the events themselves. I was a hot mess because I thought I could handle all of it. I thought I could visit the hospital daily and I could still be that strong, hilarious, quirky lady who all my friends saw me as. Turns out, I can't. And that's okay. Furthermore, for the rest of my life, I will probably struggle with listening to the voice that says, "This is where we get off, T. You've had enough and you need to sit back and listen to your heart now." 

I have a pretty sweet opportunity. Instead of judging how I dealt with all of that and making a set of rules for next time, I can compassionately and loving look at the experience and love myself for how I handled it. I did what I could with the energy, resources and time I had. Yeah, sure, I would have done things differently. Oh, well. Better luck next time. And next time a big chunk of life goes south, I might not be able to handle that well, either. But that's okay. 

I'm accepting that crappy things are going to happen to me and that, yes, I can choose how I react. But, when you're in it, like really in it, you may not feel like you have much control. All I'm asking of myself and of anyone else is: find space to love yourself in those moments. It would look something like this:

You're sitting on the edge of your bed with your head in your hands and you're crying snotty tears all over the place. You don't even know why you're crying this hard, but you just found out that some terrible shit is happening to you/to people close to you. You feel like there's nothing you can do. It's in this precise moment that I want you to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, "I love you." Love yourself for being able to feel this much, for caring this much and for wanting things to be okay. Take a really big breath and go eat some chocolate. This won't fix the problem you're facing, but it will soften the blow with love.

You know what? Life is probably going to get a lot harder than the last two weeks. I mean, there's a possibility for it, at least. That stuff was totally crummy, but I can list a lot of much nastier things that could happen right now. I'm not saying this to lessen the severity or belittle my problems or the problems of others. I'm mentioning this to remind myself (and you) that no matter how intense the issue, we'll have to face it. We just will. Because that's life. 

By having an unconditional amount of love for simply living, I know that I'll get through whatever it is and things will be okay. No judgement, no regrets. Just love.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

if you don't listen, your body will shout

I sustained my first yoga injury early last week. I came out of what felt like an amazing headstand and was greeted by not-very-amazing neck pain. Within 20 minutes, my range of mobility was limited. By the next morning, I couldn't look left to right, up or down, any direction really. Convinced I just slept on it wrong after a rigorous class, I drove to my desk job and started crying as I tried to check my blind spots.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the week working from home, getting chiropractic and acupuncture care and not doing yoga. Or getting on my bike. Or running. Or driving.

It was torturous, forced stillness.

Throughout the week I experienced a lot of anger and frustration. Some of it was a product of the pain, but most of it was directed at myself. I've been flitting around like a kindergartener the day after Halloween for a few months now. I've experienced several gentle reminders physically and mentally that have told me to slow down. But I've all but heeded these kind little warnings. In fact, I think I greeted them with the same courtesy as a horse fly.

So, my body turned up the volume.

"Yeah? You think you can ignore me, babe? Not an option. If you're gonna make me yell, Imma yell. Nice and loud."

Oh, and she did. And listening sucked.

It's been almost a week since the message over the loudspeaker told me, "Be more mindful of how you spend your time. Be honest with yourself about your energy levels. You need to stop planning every minute of every day because you're scared to sit still. Being random and free-spirited is fine, but cut the impulsiveness down a little. Don't be afraid to keep saying no and say it more often. Create a healthier routine not just for your body, but for your heart."

Here's the rub, I'm really great at making it seem like I've got a lot things under control and that I'm living with a hyper-sensitive level of awareness. I used to be an actress. I'm a fantastic storyteller. I can spin just about anything, including the reality I want people to perceive about me.

Boo, lemme tell you sumfin. I been screwin' up all over the place. But I ain't mad. I'm just funna git better.

Slowly. Mindfully. And with heaping doses of forgiveness.

I have full range of mobility back in my neck now. You know what I wanna do more than anything? Get on my bike and ride until I vom. Then run. Then swim. Then go to yoga. Then make plans with everyone I know.

But I'm not gonna do that. I'm not even going to think about planning out time to do that. I'm just going to go to sleep and be so thankful that tomorrow morning, I probably won't cry when I try to lift my head off my pillow like I did a few days ago.

And that, is an amazing thing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

one year

One year ago today, I started on a journey that has led me to corners of my being that I never knew existed. On this day last year, a significant, tumultuous relationship came to a crashing halt. Both of us knew it was coming. For quite some time, the relationship mirrored the path of a rock skipping over water. Bouncing quickly on the top of a frighteningly calm lake. Each time the rock hit the water it was closer to plummeting to its scary, unknown depths.
Unbeknownst to me, I found the depths to be unexpectedly cool and soothing. Icy and dizzying at first, the journey to the bottom was imperative to my growth and development. As the rock hit the bottom, it transformed into a lotus flower seed. These seeds grow from the gooey, muddy bottom, digging their roots into the mucky muck. As the flower’s stem grows, it arcs toward the surface of the water, only to bloom into a many-petaled beauty, feeding its firmly grounded roots with the sun’s inviting and blissful warmth.
Both of us knew that despite previous claims, what we shared was not meant to last a lifetime. The lessons therein, however, will last that long, if not longer. At times, it seems like my lotus flower has cracked the surface and started blooming, and other times it feels like I’m still working toward that barrier. Even if it has bloomed, there are still stormy days that test the petals’ resolve.
I’m in awe of how much has changed over the last year. I never expected to be where I am today. I remember vividly how I felt a year ago. I felt like the rug of my life had been ripped out from underneath me. I was 27 years old, working few hours a week, unable to buy my own groceries or pay rent. I looked at myself in the mirror with disgust. It was nearly impossible for me to see the blessings in my life. Fathoming happiness and love was a mighty feat.
I remember what my former beau said to me before I moved out, “You can do anything. You will be fine.”
The man was right. Further, I am fine even when I think I’m not. Because no matter how terrible I think I’ve had it, there are many millions of people in this world who struggle to simply survive. I am so thankful that even though I couldn’t see it, he could and he was bold enough to say that.
Slowly but surely, with the help of extraordinarily amazing friends and family, I picked myself up, piece by piece. I found that the puzzle no longer fit together as it once had and I realized that I had to start anew. I had an opportunity not to start over, but to absorb this experience and learn from it.
Throughout the course of the last year, so much has changed:

  • I went through and completed yoga teacher training.
  • I started teaching yoga, something I wasn’t sure I’d ever actually want to do. Turns out, from what I’ve been told, I am a natural.
  • I landed my first, full time, benefits included, well-paying job as a writer. While I’m not always comfortable with the content I write, I am writing. Something I never thought I would make money doing.
  • I’ve been on countless dates and had a few run-ins with a few dreamy fellows. They haven’t either come to fruition, or they were short-lived.
  • I’ve visited New York City twice and I have the green light from my job to move there next spring, keeping my job as I work remotely.
  • As of next month, I will have moved three times. Each place I’ve lived has carried incredibly valuable lessons regarding cohabitating.
  • I’ve become an avid cyclist.
  • I quit smoking.
  • I changed the way I view food.
  • I gave up alcohol for extended periods of time.
  • Virtually every friendship I have has experienced a significant shift and I have made many new friends, all of whom I am very grateful for.
  • I’ve found, that despite previous claims, that I love Minneapolis. A lot.

I think, a year ago, I said to myself, “A year from now, I better be moved the [expletive] out of this place, never to return. I will be over this [expletive] and peaced the [expletive] out.”
What a funny thought. What I now know is that the work is hardly over and guess what? It never will be. There is no, “If I do this, and this, get this and then that, I’ll be set. Then things will be better.” I will always be working on myself.  My list of things to work on is as long, if not longer than the changes I’ve been through:

  • I will not allow my life to become stagnant or filled with complacency. I want to look, feel, behave and interact differently every day. Not in an erratic way, but in a compassionate, growing, lively way.
  • I want to become a better runner.
  • I want to grow my knowledge about yoga and how to teach it.
  • I want to be more okay with being single. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy gal. But damn, I sure could use a good cuddle every now and then.
  • I want to be more okay with being alone and present. And I mean, really being alone. Not on the phone. Not texting. Not watching a movie. Not on Facebook. Alone. For realsies alone. Just me and my thoughts and the world around me.
  • I want to care less about what people think of me.
  • I want to stop assigning other people’s problems as my own. I cannot fix anyone. I am in charge of myself and only myself.
  • I want to get even better at being okay with being wrong.

The list goes on. These are things that I will be working on for-ev-er. I gladly accept the challenge.
On my walk to where I am currently sitting and writing this, a woman with a video camera stopped me. She was in a film class and was walking around filming individuals who had stories to tell. She asked if I would like to share something. I was happy to.
“What do you want to talk about?” she asked.
“Well, hmm,” I thought. “I’m a yoga teacher. I like riding my bike. I’m a writer.”
Then I smiled.
“Actually,” I said. “The reason I’m here right now is to write. A year ago I went through a very difficult break-up and I’m here to blog about how much is changed and how happy I am.”
She gasped.
“Can—can we talk about that? Can I film you talking about that?”
“Absolutely,” I said. “I wouldn’t have brought it up if I wasn’t okay sharing it.”
So she started her camera and I talked for a few minutes about how much I’ve grown and changed and how blessed I am. As I spoke, she beamed. When she was done filming, she thanked me for sharing my story and told me, “I’m so happy for you. It’s so nice to hear people talking about their happiness.”
I hope you feel the same way. But if you don’t, I know that has nothing to do with me and I earnestly wish you all of the peace and blessings you seek.

Friday, April 27, 2012

love, music, and experiencing pain

After my last break-up, I was advised to not listen to music for awhile. Nothing. While this seemed wise, seeing as the ex-fellow is a musician, I was taken aback. What about the songs that didn’t remind me of this guy? Those songs are safe, right? Nope. Those will then become associated with your hurt. Okay. Well then I’ll listen to happy music. Nuh-uh. Those will make you sick. So I did my best to follow these instructions. This was really hard. Music serves as a soundtrack to our memories and our moods. To just have silence seemed sad. I felt deprived.

I ended up giving up on this tactic and decided to just listen to music. To whatever I wanted. I tried to find new stuff but I found myself craving the old stuff. Friends made me mixes. Sometimes I would listen to the stuff that reminded me of the now-over relationship and it would make my stomach churn. I would shudder and have to turn it off. Other songs would make me mad and resentful. Some jams would make me weep -- like the music we recorded together. (That stuff, along with his records, aren’t in my library anymore -- you gotta let some stuff go.)

My friends would ask me why I tortured myself like that. I didn’t know. I wanted to work through it, I guess. Something felt really good about feeling so terrible (sick, right?). I was never able to explain this tendency toward experiencing pain. Until today, when I found this quote on Elena Brower’s Facebook page:
The only way to ease our pain is to experience it fully. Learn to stay in the uneasiness, learn to stay with the tightening, so that the habitual chain reaction doesn’t continue to rule your life. – Pema Chodron
When I read that, it hit me like a ton of bricks. There is a very big difference between allowing yourself to experience pain and wallowing in self-pity for so long that you get stuck. Hurt is a part of growth. If you don’t live in that place for a little bit and lick your wounds (versus staring at the wound and watching it gush blood or totally ignoring it), you’ll keep returning to that space. There’s a reason I was hurting. This wasn’t an unfamiliar ache (I'd had my heart broken a few times before), but it was one of the most significant I’ve ever experienced. I wanted to explore the shattered pieces, the panicky place, the sadness, the fear. I thought, “If I just feel everything that comes up, knowing that it will pass and change, it will do just that: pass and change.” And it did.

Almost a year later, I find that I can listen to music that used to make me gag. Instead of feeling sick or sad or hurt, I either feel nothing, or, every now and then, a memory pops up. The memory of that really great time we had when we were in the car together, singing harmonies and laughing. The wind whipping into the vehicle, the dog perching her head on our shoulders, and licking our ears and necks. Up until recently, I used to resent that moment or memory. I would find myself smiling and I would grow upset. "No, I thought. Screw that guy. He's a jerk."

Two weeks ago, I was in New York City at the Yoga Journal Conference. During two different classes, one with Sarah Powers -- focused on compassion -- and the other with Elena Brower -- focused on inviting grace -- we were asked to hold our hands over hearts and focus on love. While I was feeling all warm and nurturing and safe, both teachers asked us (unbeknownst to each other, I'm sure), to think of someone that is really hard to think about positively. Just let that person pop in. It could have been anyone. We all know who popped into my head. Then, both teachers asked us to invite this person into that loving, warm space and hold them there, and send them love.


I think they both heard my mental anguish and disgust because they both said, "If you want compassion and grace, you have to be able to give it to others and see others for who they are right now, without judgement."  

Oh, I thought. Damnit. Well in that case, fine. Come on in, bro.

I have no sufficient words to describe what it felt like to follow those instructions. Twice. In one day. I just don't. There were colors and smells and memories and it was like I made peace with something that had been riding around inside me for a very long time. But the peace was scary, because it was quiet. And I like my noise. It's like my music.

Now,when that song shuffles through my iPhone and the memory pops up of us impulsively getting out of his car and dancing in the middle of a country road on a hot summer night, I smile and I let myself hold that space. I tip my hat to it, thankful that, even though my heart was broken for a bit, that I did, at one point, experience love and happiness with another person. And that’s what’s great about us as humans – we have the ability to perceive life in that way. It’s not easy, but it’s available to you if you care to tap into it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

five days

I graduate from my yoga teacher training program in five days.

In five days, I will have a diploma that states that I have completed over 320 hours in courses, workshops, technical sessions, teaching and other trainings.

For some reason, this is a bit depressing.

This feel s like my therapist is saying, “Goodonya, Toots. I think we’re done here. No need to visit anymore. You can take it from here.”


There’s no doubt that I’ve come a long way since I started this program. But, for me, this program is one of the main drivers in this race to creating a better me. While all of the goodness and love and peace I’ve unveiled in recent months were all within all along, it’s been the training program that’s taught me how to tap into it.

I’m scared. There’s a little voice that says, “What if, when I got back to just taking yoga classes like a regular Joe and occasionally teaching, I forget all this?”

This all sounds very silly. I’ve done a big portion of the work. This happier, more aware, brighter version of me has been like soft, warm soil under a sheet of slick, rock-hard ice. Using heat, an ice pick and a whole lot of muscle, I’ve managed to uncover it. I can touch the warm soil now. It smells like spring. You know, after all the slushy-poo smell has faded and things start to smell like germination. I just have to keep this soft, lovely ground unearthed and water it. Soon, new green shoots of life will grow from this little plot of land. And then, by the time I’m old and gray (assuming I live that long), there will be a big, healthy oak tree there. Right where the ice used to be.  

The worry comes from a place of dependence. When life, as I knew it, came crashing down around my ankles eight months ago, I froze in my tracks and looked around. The things I had counted on, depended on, were all running away from me. The closest, healthiest thing I could find to hold on to was yoga (thank gawd). I have a level of dependence associated to yoga, now, as well. While some would argue that all dependence is bad dependence, I find solace because this particular thing encourages me to be independent. To look within. To just be. Dependence on independence? Huzzah! (I realize this may mean I will become an old maid.)

Now, the schedule of yoga that I’m used to is changing. It’s shifting. My training wheels are being removed. My pa isn’t going to hold onto the seat anymore.

How exciting, though.

The timing seems perfect.

I’m eager for the next chapter.

Join me?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

on love

Love is a funny thing.


When you're happy in love -- whether it's with a person, yourself, your life or all of the above -- you feel lighter.

Hold up. I'm going to switch narrative voices. I'm going to quit assuming I know what you feel like when you're in love with anything. From here on out, this is how I feel.

Lighter. That's how I feel. I feel like I could float. When I have someone to care for whom I love, a friend, a significant other, even a pet, I am determined to do anything for them. I want to give that person the world. Often times, in the process, I forget about giving to myself.

I don't lack confidence. I know my strengths and I'm very well aware of my weaknesses. So, when I find someone who may be lacking this confidence for whatever reason, I want nothing more than to show them that everything is okay. I will lay myself down in the middle of traffic just to show those I love that even that isn't so bad.

In the past, this has eventually led to a very miserable version of myself. I pull out all the bits of myself that I love, I lay them out on the table, and like clay, I form them into what I think this other person might want or need. Then I just hand it over with a big grin hoping that they'll love it and it will make everything better.

I think, ultimately, I do this so this person I love can be happy. I figure that I can regrow what I gave away and give it to the next person I meet who will be in need. This is an exhausting way to live. I am continuously depleting and regrowing myself. It's quite a lot to take on.

The rush I can get when I'm caring for someone in this way is better than any high. It's better than any great meal or any beachy vacation. But the low, after I've given all of myself away, is the worst thing ever. It is a dark feeling of panic and, worse yet, failure. It's like acing every test in college and then, on graduation day, the dean tells you, "You did great here. But it just wasn't good enough. I'm sorry, but we can't give you a diploma."

This is where I have to recognize the importance of setting energetic boundaries and being honest with myself about the intentions I set.

Am I doing this loving thing for my friend because I want something back? Am I doing it because I want to fix him/her? Am I compromising who I am to try to make someone happy (when, at the end of the day, that is not, was not, and never will be an area I can actually impact in any long-lasting way)? We are all in charge of our own happiness. Read that sentence again. Really. Go back. Re-read it. Okay? Does that resonate? The minute you start walking down the dark road of, "If I can have this, and this, and him and her and that, then I'll be happy," you've already signed yourself up for first class tickets to Hell Town. You are, even if you consider yourself an independent, strong-willed individual, limiting yourself in one of the greatest ways.

But if you're doing something for someone because it makes you feel happy to be loving, sweet and giving, then get into it. If there's that little voice that says, "If I do enough of this, then I get some of that back eventually. They'll get happy and they'll be better and then everything will be okay," just stop. Stop right there.

The risk in giving in this basic and very conditional way is a recipe for disaster for two reasons. One, the work you do may not have an impact and may not be wholly appreciated, and that will leave you feeling weak and depleted. Two, if you do make an impact, there is a good chance that this person will think that this is your role in their life. This person, when you're hurting and low (because that happens to everyone), will retreat. They will think you're done giving and go back into their little hole and they may even resent you for it. Additionally, because they are so unhappy, they won't know how to handle your sadness.

Vicious cycle, no?

Love, pure love, is the act of simply letting them be. Sending them good energy and helping where you can, but don't exhaust your mental and physical resources. Be sure you're keeping a healthy reservoir of love for yourself. Create a safe space for that person to be who they are, no matter who that may be, and love them, no matter what. When you feel that pull to go too far and give too much away, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Friday, March 2, 2012

i'm a yoga teacher.

You heard me. When people ask me what I do, I can now tell them, “I work for a large corporation by day as a marketing copywriter. When I’m not there, I teach yoga and work the desk at a yoga center.”

What? Is that real? No. Yes? Yes!

I went out after a class last night with one of my favorite yoga teachers and we sat and talked shop, sharing experiences while she gave me tips and suggestions. It wasn’t until she dropped me off at my house that I realized that, instead of that being an evening shared between a yoga teacher and a yoga practitioner, it was a hang between two yoga teachers. One, albeit with far more experience than the other, but still, I'm a teacher. She's a teacher. I’m going to type it one more time because it’s so fun: I’m a yoga teacher. 

On the last Friday of 2011, I taught my first class. It was a donation-based, yin-vinyasa class at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis. As a yoga study student, I may sign up for these classes to practice teaching. Clients are well-aware what they are getting into if they take this class. This removes a lot of the pressure to be the best yoga teacher evAR. Seven people came to this class: friends, peers and strangers. When class ended, I walked to my car thinking, “This is it. I found it. This is what I am meant to do. I have never felt more connected to something in my entire life.”

On the first Friday of 2012, I taught another class. This time, 18 people showed up. That’s seven away from the max capacity of the room in which I was teaching. It was the most overwhelming out pour of support and love from my students combined with my earnest desire to create a safe and loving space for each individual. 

Then, last week, on an impulse, as it were, I reached out to a handful of teachers and asked to be on the substitute teacher list at the yoga center. Later that day, I was scheduled to cover a hatha class. I did this four more times – subbing vinyasa and hatha classes populated by 2-5 students possessing a vast range of experience. 

Each 60 to 75 minutes of teaching is a time suck. When I leave the studio, I feel like only five minutes has transpired, while, at the same time, it seems like days have passed. I have two basic sequences I’ve written that I place next to my mat. As I guide my students through their practice, I check in from time to time with the sheets of paper. More often than not, however, I end up just letting things happen. (Nine months ago, if you would have told me this was something I was going to do before I turned 28 years old, I would have fallen to the floor laughing).

For those of you who know me, I’m a planner. I often wonder how I lived before I owned my iPhone. Each minute of every day is planned out. When I have an hour or two to myself, it’s rare, welcomed and also a bit jarring (I’m working on it, I promise). When I’m teaching yoga, however, I don’t plan. I might pick a quote or a focus for the class, physically or spiritually, but for the most part, it’s a unique, organic experience. It’s neither scary nor daunting. It just is. 

At the end of each class, when I say thank you and Namaste to my students, a small lump forms in my throat. I want to tell them everything about myself. I want to tell them how far I’ve come. I want to hug all of them as they leave, thanking them for being in my life for this short time. They have no idea what they’ve done for me just by moving their bodies and taking time for themselves. When I can watch someone moving and breathing just for the sake of doing it – just for themselves – it is the most beautiful form of self love I have ever seen. Witnessing this is like watching a humming bird drinking from a brightly-colored flower. Mystifying and beautiful.  

Tonight, I am teaching another donation-based class. It will be the last of its kind for me as I graduate from yoga study in 10 days. I’m sure I will teach more donation based classes, but it won’t be as a teacher in training, it will be as a certified yoga instructor. 

I love that I have no idea what any of this means, or what the future holds. For the first time in my life, I am okay with not having a plan, while being mindful in my day-to-day life, watching for opportunities and making choices with clear intentions. This is so much better than thinking I have it all figured out, only to find out I have no idea. Just having no idea and being okay with it is the bee’s knees. 

What an exhilarating life I live. I wouldn’t trade this lifetime for a thing.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

circles and waves

Four months.

Four months. So much has changed since my last post. There’s something we should know about each other before I start updating you. When I’m working through things, I write a ton. When things are going so well I could puke, I write, too. When I’m content, I write little. I’ve been teetering between pleased as can be and content for the last four months. I’ve also been so busy that I haven’t had time to write. I want each of these posts to be a rather meaningful portrayal of my experience growing through yoga. And I sure as heck don’t want this to turn into another Dear Diary Blog. Those are just the worst.

That being said, I’ve been day-dreaming a lot about shapes lately. I’ve found, throughout this process of growing my yoga practice, that life is a circle within a wave. (I’m not on drugs. Bear with me.) Here, let me show you:

As you can see, we’re born on the left there. We start at the bottom of our potential. In yogic texts, it is believed that we are our purest form when we are babies. We are totally present, not affected by the world’s distractions. I might seem like I’m going a different, more contradicting route, but it all connects at the end. Promise.

So, we’re born. Bottom of our potential. Nowhere to go but up, but we’re pure. Clean slate. Focused on the present. Not distracted. Great place to be. As we grow, we ride the waves, which come in a series of ups and downs. These are different for everyone. An up for me might be when I finally got a job; an up for you might be when you quit your job. Some ups might be higher than others too. It’s all quite relative and perspective-based, as you can imagine. The lower portions of the waves are our low points in life, or big struggles: the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, depression, break-ups and divorce.  When we’re low, we also much closer to a pure state because all we can see is what’s happening RIGHT now. Grief is consuming.

Everything on the wave from the top to the bottom is the journey to and from these points. This is the part we ignore, typically. Many of us see life as a series of high points and low points without taking note of how we got to each location in our journey. We should try to get better at that.

Then there’s the circle.

My favorite part.

If you’ll notice, the dotted line in my [beautifully crafted] diagram not only creates the top half of a circle that the bottom portion of the wave completes, but it bears the word, “Potential.” Even when we are at our highest points, we can think of higher places we’d rather be. “Okay, so I got the job. Now I just have to save a bunch of money and then I can do A, B, and C.” When we’re low, we don’t look back at the last high point or even toward the next one, we stand in the bottom of that wave and look straight up at what “perfect” might be, and we say, “THAT. I want that.” And we reach. The longer we stand there and reach up, the longer we stay in that low point. Sometimes we’re in our low point and we don’t even know it. Change does not occur until we shift our gaze and look at where we are, gather the facts and start walking, in any direction. Just walk.

Eventually, as we continue to stay present, things get “better.” We start walking the incline. When we get to the next high point, we turn around and we look at the low out of which we crawled and the high from before that. Usually the feeling associated is pride. Also fear. When you’re on top there’s nowhere to go but down. So we try to ride this wave as long as we can. Inevitably, there will be another decline. If we’re smart, we’ll use the tools we learned from the last lull to lift us out of the next.

Now, I’m going to assume that you aren’t a terrible selfish person who doesn’t care about the happiness of the others around you. This is where the circle comes into play. Where ever you happen to be standing on your wave, you can see the circle – you can imagine it. You know there’s a reason this is happening, you have no idea what it is, right now, but you know it’s there. People tell you there’s a reason. It’s up to you to watch patiently and allow the reason to reveal itself. When it does, don’t ignore it, no matter how frustrating that lesson might be. Put it in your tool belt and keep marching forward.

Once that reason is revealed to you, you are able to see why all of those things happened to you, and life, as they say, comes full circle. It’s up to you to widen that circle and share that experience with others. You never know who may benefit from your stories, your ideas and your lessons. We are all connected, as I’ve said before, and we should be kind to one another by helping each other along.

The scary part about all of this is realizing that we are going to experience a lot of ups and downs in our lives. For some reason, we think there is a recipe to happiness and that someday we’ll just be okay if only A, B and C occurred. Some of us are so fond of this concept that we can trick ourselves into being happy if we have these things. I don’t envy those people. I need my downs, they make my ups that much higher.

Resigning to the fact that life is a journey of ups and downs removes the ups and downs altogether.



Slower this time.

If you are somehow able to be present throughout the ups and downs, they won’t be seen as up or down. They will just be. And that’s it. If you’re okay with being whatever you are right now, then there are no highs or lows. No happiness or sadness, just presence, peace and contentment.

That, however, is ridiculously hard to do. I barely understand it myself. So just go with the wave thing. Watch your life as you live it. It’ll pass you by so quickly and seem so sad and empty if you don't.