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Self Empowerment

Finding My Feminine

I was gladly traveling in London and Paris while the debacle of the Kavanaugh hearings were unfolding. I did not hear or see much of anything until one day I opened Facebook to a slew of posts referencing Kavanaugh’s impulsive and juvenile responses to the accusations from Dr. Ford. And in contrast, her cool, collected posture in the face of what was likely a pressure cooker. Watching just a half hour of the shit show was enough to bring me back to the reality of what’s happening in our society – at home and abroad.

Over the past year or so, I have chosen to, for the most part, stay silent concerning the #MeToo movement. With exception, when the movement began, I posted one blog about my own sexual assault while in college – a memory I had blocked until May of 2017. I have been marinating in the up and down emotions of that trauma ever since, attempting to shield myself from the outside influences from the hashtag movement. I wanted to go through my own healing process and come to my own understandings of how my story shaped my life and how I could learn and grow from the incident.

At first, I thought resurrecting and coming to terms with the events of the night of my assault was my solution – my key to freedom from a heaviness that weighed on my heart for over twenty years. And while I did feel a not insignificant load lift, the truth of what happened so many years ago simply nudged the door open, allowing a sliver of light in. It turned out to be just the beginning of what has been a consistent and growing understanding of the contrasting Masculine and the Feminine energies – in myself and the world.

Let me come clean – I am not a feminist. I have struggled with the #MeToo movement since it began. Something just hasn’t sat well with me. It seems to put women in the role of victim, taking men to task and retaliating at them for all the wrong they have done. Frankly, it feels like a lynching of the Masculine. The I am woman hear me roar voice stronger than ever, castrating anyone with a penis. “Time’s up” seems to be a masculine response to a masculine issue. In my opinion, women have far more to gain from an I am woman, watch me love and forgive battle cry.

I am by no means suggesting that women stay silent. We need to keep exposing all the dirty, ugly reality of the massive disrespect for the Feminine. But maybe we can focus less on the stories of what happened to us as women and more on what those stories are teaching us and how to heal and move forward.

I don’t believe we can simply stand on our Goddess podiums and point fingers. We need to turn some of this scrutiny on ourselves. When I realized how much I myself contributed to a society that values, above all, the shadow masculine qualities of power, achievement, prestige and social status, I cried for days.

I am the queen of take control of the situation and kick ass. Get it done because you can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you. But for the past 18 months or so, more and more, I’ve been forced to surrender. To find my strength not in fighting but in faith. To turn it over to something bigger than me. To find fluidity and dance with grace. To embrace my mercurial moods and shifts. To sit with myself – my Feminine self – over and over again and watch my own resistance to it. In a world that doesn’t seem to honor this way of operating, I continue to learn to embrace everything fluid and divinely Feminine about me. For She is a part of my essence, more than I could have ever imagined.

Yet everything I learned growing up became a shield to protect the sensitive, feminine, highly intuitive woman that’s always been inside me. I learned to play in the sandbox with the men – I was the ‘guy’s girl’. I drank beer. I watched football. I thought it was the only way to succeed. I wanted men’s attention, their praise. Simultaneously, I shunned women that were too ‘girly’. I dismissed many women as petty and jealous. I always ‘just got along better with the guys.’ This worked for a long time. Except in romantic relationships. Because I was a wounded female, I attracted wounded males, with a couple of exceptions. I tried to play the games these men would play but wasn’t very good at it. Mostly I got my heart broke.

As I began to dismantle the masks of masculinity that I wore, I uncovered more of who I truly was. Returning to my most authentic Feminine form has been and continues to be a lot of work. A lot of reprogramming. But I’m finding the more I honor and respect my Feminine the more I meet men willing to do the same. I’m learning not to hate men and expect the worse from them. I’ve begun to cut them some slack and allow them the space to heal, as I have needed to do the same for myself. At the same time I’m raising the bar a little higher than what previously has been acceptable in all of my relationships.

We need men and their ‘dude’ ways. The strength, stability, confidence and purpose a self realized man brings to the table is attractive. It’s valuable and it’s necessary. We need more of these ‘real men’ in the world and we need to help them get there by encouraging them to heal themselves and embracing them as they go through their own grieving process. The more we shame and degrade them, the more they will feel the need to ‘man up’ and defend themselves with the shadow side of the Masculine. The side that puts the accumulation of power, prestige and wealth on a pedestal.

Yes, men need to take responsibility for assaults and abuse they’ve perpetrated. Especially those that have taken advantage of their rank and position. However, women, so do we. How have we diminished the most beautiful and sacred Feminine qualities of ourselves to fit into this society? How have we stepped aside, stepped down and allowed it? How have we given away our power? And most importantly, where have we failed at honoring ourselves?

We don’t need to change the rules, ladies. We need to change the game. We can start with changing ourselves.

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Warrior Spirit

Moksh” the woman said to me, looking at my left forearm, just above my wrist. I didn’t even have to follow her gaze to know she was referring to my tattoo, the Sanskrit symbol for moksha – loosely translated as spiritual liberation or freedom. Many Hindi speaking people have commented on my inner arm marking. It’s led to some lovely conversations and connections I may not have had otherwise. This was no exception.

Yes. I knew she knew so I said nothing further.

She nodded.

Do you pray? She asked.

Every day. I replied.

Good.

There was what seemed like a long pause as I considered the black and white tile outdoor table next to me. It may have only been a couple of seconds.

You’re a warrior.

A little caught off guard, I looked at her with a look of surprise gauging by her response.

You have a warrior spirit.

So I’ve been told.

I thought she was going to drop a full on Vedic reading right there in Cost Plus on a random Thursday afternoon. Instead she stayed silent. I simply said Have a nice day and walked out.

I didn’t know what else to say. There was nothing else to say. I knew what I was.

Once outside, I paused a few feet out the door and felt a swell of emotion, a few tears rolling down my face. Ah, yes – the familiar tears of a warrior who doesn’t know how to drop the shield. The tears that came from being seen, by a total stranger no less.

This interaction has been sitting with me for the past few days and a theme that has been resurrecting itself for months.

As the Bhagavad Gita lays out so beautifully, life is not about floating around, jumping from one ecstatic spiritual experience to the next. Life takes place on a battlefield as we do our best to slay our karmic debts so that we may evolve towards liberation when we move into our next life. There is no doubt the battlefield is where I’m most comfortable. Running around, overcoming challenges, fighting for the next victory – both in the material and spiritual worlds. I’ve become quite adept at walking through the fire and in many cases, I even court and cajole it. But what to do when the fight is over or I’m just too tired to wield a weapon? Well, therein lie my most recent lessons.

I feel like there’s no time to rest. We as a species seem to be in such dire straits that it’s going to take every one of us who are called to do this work to do it 24-7. Humanity is at a tipping point and it’s all hands on deck if we don’t want this ship to sink. Yet, there are days, like today, when I’m just too tired. Sure, I want to go to kirtan. Sure I want to get out in nature and convene with Her. But on the first day of my moon cycle after teaching one class, running a few errands and some light household chores, all I can manage is a yoga nidra practice, and laying in my space with my eyes closed. Waves of cramps keep me fixed on the floor. Chanting even feels taxing. As I’ve become more attuned to my body and my cycles, I know I should rest and rest seduces me like a forlorn lover, and yet – yet. It’s so darn uncomfortable to lay down my sword and my shield and allow myself to be held.

I rub my swollen aching belly, wondering where my leaner, warrior like shape disappeared to. I feel soft. Squishy. I don’t necessarily like it.

So, like a child, I rest my head in my Mother’s lap. I let her stroke my hair and I hear her whisper It’s okay. I cry. Not working is, indeed, my work.

(WO) Man

After a morning meditation the other day I was inspired by the idea of a woman’s circle. As I often do around new ideas, I created a mind map (see photo) to get a sense of what its purpose would be and what it might look like. Instinctually I wrote down the word ‘woman’ as (WO) Man. This said a lot to me about the very nature of what it means to be a woman.

Essentially, as a human race, we are all man. The Shiva energy or the supreme consciousness resides in all of us. But check out the difference between woman and man. Two letters. WO. Immediately I thought WOMB. The thing that makes women unique is literally our reproductive organs. I know some of you are reading this and saying ‘duh.’ But think about it. Your vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries – all of the pieces and parts and energies that involve a female reproductive system – are just that. An intricate miraculous system that reproduces. A container that houses all the forces of creation. Holy shit.

This is our Shakti energy and women, this is the true source of our power. Our ability to create. Our ability to nurture. Our ability to give birth. Whether to another human being (I’m always blown away by that quite frankly), an idea or a movement. Our power does not come from shaming others – male or female. Our power does not come from executing a witch hunt or crucifying perpetrators. Our power comes from our ability to heal – ourselves and others – in the kindest most loving way possible. Which, by the way, may include a bitch slap every now and then if the nice approach doesn’t work. In fighting for our right to feel safe and free, let’s not lose what makes us so powerful. Our softness. Our nectar – the very source of our divinity.

My next question was Can men be included in this process? Yes. Should men be included in this process? Absofuckinglutely. They NEED to be included. But unfortunately, we’ve created a culture such that when either a man or a woman wants to explore, heal, and/or share their sacred feminine, they feel unsafe. Because that which has made women absolutely beautiful and unique and sexy and oh so powerful has been objectified. The very essence of our divinity has been scrutinized, disregarded and disrespected. We have all contributed. Men and women. We have allowed it. We have participated in its growth and dominance. We all must take responsibility for our part and we all must do our own work to heal it. Women cannot simply point our well-manicured fingers at men and vilify them.

Until we re-create a culture where it is safe for all of us to fully express and celebrate Her, it is necessary in some instances to hold separate containers for the work that all of us need to do. Thus, for now, my offerings will be limited to females so that they feel safe to be naked, vulnerable, and soft. I wish we could all dance with Her in the same room. To proudly express to the world all incarnations of Her and join and unite with Him in unabashed joy and pride. We are not there yet. But it is my prayer and hope that one day, sooner than later, we will be.

Sowing the Seeds Of Self Empowerment

I was having a soulful conversation with a friend the other day about all the ‘self-work’ we do. It got me thinking about how much I’ve invested – both time and money – on personal growth. Learning, evolving, healing and changing. And on the flip side, sharing and teaching what I’ve learned. It’s been countless hours, thousands of dollars, a shit ton of books, quite a bit of counseling and a whole lot of tears. Like, a LOT of tears. It literally has been my life’s work. At least since the age of 24 or so.

I’m not sure why this has been my path. It surely has not been an easy one. It helps to believe that there is divine purpose in my life and to trust that no one else could walk this particular path other than me. That I am here for a reason although I may not know what that reason is.

Despite its difficulties and some lengthy battles with darkness, I don’t regret any of it. Lucky for me, I’ve been blessed to have the guidance of some of the most gifted teachers in the world. As far as I know, all of them have stood in the utmost of integrity with their work. Their goal has always been to foster my independence. To give me tools, tips, and techniques to restore my personal power. There are a great many teachers who do the very opposite. They steal personal power, albeit likely subconsciously. Their success is predicated on your need to keep returning to them time and time and time again.

It seems my teachers over the past 20 years or so have done their job well. I feel I am very well armed. So much so that I am going to cease any more advice seeking, healing sessions, wisdom offerings, trainings and deep dives into the cosmic realm for the next 30 days starting this weekend. I have an appointment with a Vedic Astrologer as well as a new moon ceremony to attend on Friday so my moratorium on all things seeking will have to begin after those. That’s over $300 in one day in the name of spiritual growth. See what I mean?

I know I will always be a seeker. I will never be content with the way things are. I will always strive to make myself a better person in service of making the world a better place. However, if I’m honest, a lot of my journey has been propelled by the thought that there was something wrong with me. That I somehow, some way, need to heal every broken and torn and tattered part of my body, mind and soul. Essentially the premise has been that I am broken.

What if I begin with another assumption? What if I assume there is absolutely nothing wrong with me? That I don’t need to ‘fix’ anything. That I don’t need to be healed. That everything simply is. What if I could rest in trust and acceptance?

I’ve sowed so many seeds in the past 20 years. Maybe it’s time to rest a bit and allow them to blossom. Let the knowledge and wisdom I’ve been blessed to receive stew in a soup of self empowerment. Trust that I have everything I need to move forward and thrive. I think my body and my bank account will thank me. Plus, it’s only 30 days or so.

On Being Bulletproof

There’s a first for everything. The first kiss. The first time you had sex. The first job. Your first (and hopefully last) wedding.

This week, I was fired for the first time. Likely, the last. I’m simply not cut out for the day-in-day-out of a nine to five. Wear this. Show up now. Go home then. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t speak up. Don’t share your thoughts. Swallow it down down down like a bitter pill. I felt like a slave to someone else’s dream. Slowly, surely stifling every bit of my individuality and expression. It was a blessing. Not even in disguise. A flat out blessing.

For over two months, I’ve been working in a lab – a place that offers cutting edge technological advancements to improve your life. Whether you want to increase your physical prowess or it’s your brain you desire to upgrade, all of the equipment in Bulletproof Labs is designed to ‘biohack’ your biology. This petri dish of human improvement is the newest development in biohacking guru Dave Asprey’s cult like brand Bulletproof. I’m in awe of the genius behind the latest and greatest in performance advancements and have great respect for the mad scientists raising the bar on what it means to be healthy. But during the Bulletproof Conference a few weeks ago – a full on weekend dedicated to upgrading the human experience – it dawned on me – I don’t want to be Bulletproof.

I’ve worked my whole life building defenses, securing my fortress. I don’t need more armor. I don’t need more ways to be perfected. I don’t need more measurements – more tools to tell me how much body fat I do or don’t have or the phase angle of my cells.

What I need is more joy. I need more heart. I need more forgiveness. I need more ways to express myself. More yin for the yang in my life.

Bulletproof touts that it can make you “Superhuman”. Does the world need more superhumans? Or more human humans? Feeling humans. Caring humans. Kind humans. Forgiving humans.

The more we try to protect ourselves from the pitfalls of life, the harder the lessons will fall. It’s a futile battle. The challenges will still come. The hurt and the struggles – there is no way to become invincible against life’s pains. The danger is thinking you’re impervious to them. Your kryptonite will always find you.

Originally, I joined the team at Bulletproof in hopes of helping people connect to a deeper part of themselves. To remove the armor, shed the layers and get a glimpse of what was beneath all the muscle, tendons and bones of their human space suit. Ultimately, my purpose seemed to get lost in the attempt to gain control of my biology. In today’s Photoshopped, Instagramed, carefully curated social media culture, we attempt to shield ourselves against what it means to be imperfect, flawed humans.

I get it. In this day and age, it’s hard to feel. To be touched and moved. To be sensitive can be heartbreaking. But the more sensitive we become to each others’ pain, sorrow, disappointments, joy, and triumphs, the more we understand we are not alone in our own. I still believe the best biohack is a hug.

I enjoyed playing in the Lab, experimenting with my own body and psyche. There were some benefits that came with utilizing the technological hacks, notably the ones that have the ability to access the energy and causal bodies. (I’m now a big fan of cryotherapy, one perk of the job I will miss.)

But measuring and perfecting is my Achilles heel – it can send me into a spiral of criticism and negativity. I love the idea of Bulletproof and believe we should always be striving to evolve. (Full disclosure – I use a lot of the Bulletproof products myself! I trust they are of the highest quality.) But it’s the manner in which we do it – the message that shrouds the methodology. I know there is a place where science and spirit meet. I saw that at Bulletproof and I’m grateful to have seen the hard data that supports the path of science. Ultimately however, I find the softness of spirit feels more like home.

#metoo

I awoke in the middle of the night last night. My groggy body and weary eyes told me it was not yet time to be up. I opened my iPad to confirm that fact. 2 A.M. I was pissed. I had collapsed into bed a mere four hours prior, exhausted from a long day at work and an even longer two months of life. I hadn’t even been able to muster enough energy to wash the day off myself and shower. I barely could collect enough strength to bring my toothbrush to my mouth. So, given the opportunity to take deep rest, why the fuck was I up at 2 A.M.?

My mind immediately began examining what I ate earlier that night. Was there too much salt in the soup? What about that one bite of chocolate chip cookie? Or had I simply snacked too late? It seems I’ve been super sensitive to what I’m ingesting lately and I was determined to blame the culinary culprit.

As intrusive as the light from my iPad felt to my eyes, I attempted to distract my ruminating mind and lull myself back to sleep with a glance at the sludge of social media. About 5 minutes in it hit me. I am super sensitive to what I take in. And not just food. As I scrolled through story after story, post after post of ‘#metoo’ the pain began to well up in my heart until it could no longer contain itself. What awoke me in the middle of the night was not the cookie or the salt or any other crap food. What awoke me in the middle of the night was the poison we’ve been ingesting collectively for years. Decades. Possibly centuries.

I began to weep. Not only from my own pain and shame of the sexual assault I experienced – something I repressed for 22 years – but also for the generations of women and men devastated by a culture that continues to shove aside the Divine feminine in the name of advancement, progress and growth. In the name of money, power and status.

All actions bear fruit. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. It is the law of the Universe. It is called karma. What is being played out in our society is a result of all our behaviors. Not just of a few. Generations of it. Years and years of disregard for Her and the world which She created. The Goddess will be repressed no more. She is awakening. She is rising and she will do whatever is necessary to wake all of us up in order to restore the beautiful balance of Divine order. The masculine and feminine must dance in love once again.

This is painful for so many of us. Too many to ignore. But never forget we suffer at the hand of Her love. The tears must be shed, the blood must be borne. The past must be so painful we have no choice but to choose a different present. Sadly, it’s the only way we monkeys known as humans seem to learn. The sickness of society must become so prevalent that it touches and affects a majority of us. We must turn the tide as a united force. Only then will the collective consciousness gaze towards peace. Towards compassion. Towards respect. Towards reverence. Towards kindness. And towards love. And if it takes a million hashtags of ‘metoo’ and ‘imsorry’ and tears in the middle of the night – if it takes a mass devastation so that each and every individual feels the pain of our ways – so be it. Her will will be done. In some way. In some fashion. But never, ever doubt her love for us all.

I know what I’m about to say will seem more than challenging – it may seem I’m asking the impossible – but thank the Weinsteins and the Trumps and the Stephan Paddocks of the world. Their actions shine a light on the prevalence of suffering we are all enduring. Without which, we could easily continue to bury, shame and push down travesties and transgressions.

I am clear. When I weep, I heal. I change. When you weep, you heal. You change. When more of us weep, more of us heal. More of us change. As awful as it seems, it is an amazing time to be alive right now. Witness the magnitude of world events in awe and gratitude. Feel the ground shaking. We are in the middle of a revolution. Like many before us have fought for our freedoms from slavery and tyranny with guns and cannons, we too are fighting for our freedom. With tears and anger and hashtags.

We fight for our freedom to feel safe.

We fight for our freedom to smile.

We fight for our freedom to play.

We fight for our freedom to laugh and be joyful.

We fight for our freedom to love.

We fight for our freedom to embrace all in a new world order.

One that honors and celebrates the feminine in us all. She is the creator of all. And She will restore all. And so shall it be.

 

 

Dying To Live

Sitting on the cold, hard, sterile floor, back against the wall of the psychiatric emergency room of Brackenridge Hospital in downtown Austin, I had only one question. How did I get here? I mean, I know how I physically arrived despite being half comatose from a few too many sleeping pills. From what I can remember, paramedics bust into my apartment completely uninvited, entered my bedroom, shook me awake and demanded I answer a few questions. Apparently they didn’t like my answers. From what I can recall, I was lifted from my bed, placed in a wheelchair, awkwardly carried down the stairs of my apartment and transported into a medical vehicle. The next thing I remember, I was in a hospital bed. I should’ve known better to be more specific when I asked the Universe for a man to carry me out of bed in my camisole. Note to self – I would like to be fully conscious when a man sweeps me in his arms and leads me out of, or into, my bed.

They had no right to barge in. No right to dictate I live. It was my life. I should be allowed to decide whether or not it continued. I was pissed. I was hurt. I was sad. And I was still slightly drugged. How had it gotten this far?

Before I could answer that question, I realized I had a more pressing concern. How the hell was I going to get out of this antiseptic, dispassionate, sterile room with fluorescent lights and cold air blowing above me? In my version of hell there are no burning flames and hot searing pitchforks. In my version of hell, I am sitting on a block of ice, naked, forced to drink ice water. I hate the cold. And I most definitely am not a fan of bad lighting. I felt like screaming. I felt like I was, indeed, crazy. At the same time I knew I didn’t belong there.

Truth was, all I wanted was a hug, a warm safe space and someone to tell me I was okay. In one of my most vulnerable moments, I wanted to be assured that my brokenness only meant I was human.

Unfortunately, the psych ward of a hospital is not the place you go for warm and fuzzy or compassion. To those nurses and psychiatric evaluators I was a box to be checked – something to be figured out, a monkey in a cage to be ogled and studied.

So I did what I’ve been doing my whole life – I lied. Have you thought about harming yourself before? No. Do you feel like you want to harm yourself now? No. They danced around the word suicide like a stripper around a pole. There is nothing I despise worse than bullshit and they were full of it.

With the help of a friend who assured them I would spend the night at his home, I convinced those doctors I was not an immediate danger to myself or others and they sent me on my way with an inappropriate dosage of Prozac, unguided as a rudderless ship. I wasn’t so convinced myself, but there was no way I was spending another moment in that joint. It took me about a week to regain any enthusiasm for life or desire to understand what had happened. Once I did, there was no doubt in my mind that this was my proverbial wake up call. I could no longer lie to myself. Despite my best efforts I could no longer ignore depression or continue to ride its turbulent wave. It was difficult to acknowledge that I suffered from depression, especially when many times I couldn’t quite pinpoint why it appeared. I never wanted to use ‘depressed’ as an identifying characteristic like female, or blonde or green eyes. These are obvious traits. Depression is often anything but obvious and not something I was keen to add to my CV. Admitting I was ‘depressed’ made me feel like a victim. I seemed to be able to find solutions to every challenge in my life. Why not this? Yet if I couldn’t call it out or name it, how in the hell would I understand it, much less heal it?

Besides, who was I to bitch and moan? By all outward appearances and societal standards, I lived a successful, happy life. And to a large extent, this was true. My adult years have been full of adventure, traveling when I pleased, seeing places that most only dream of. I’ve toured temples and shrines in India, hiked the highest peaks in Colorado and swam in the seas hugging Africa and Bali. I built a name for myself in the fitness and yoga industries and have appeared on DVDs covers  and in some of the most popular health and wellness magazines. I seemed to have my shit together. I smiled in all my pictures. By all accounts, my life resembled a greatest hits album on Facebook. Thus, I dismissed years of underlying malaise, rationalizing that I simply tolerated and fought through more sadness than the average person. Or that I was sensitive – more susceptible to emotion – mine and other’s.  It seemed even in my happiest moments, depression was always there, lurking just beneath the surface, ready to rear its ugly head and make a mockery of my picture perfect life.

In my earlier years, my demons arose from the conflict between my outer and inner worlds. Despite my successes, I longed to know a world beyond what I could see and measure with my eyes; and one in which my happiness was not predicated on the size of my bank account or my waist. I wrestled between the life I thought I should have and the one I so desperately wanted for the longest time, and there was no resolution. I simply vacillated between the two, doing my best to navigate the murky waters of both, praying for a map to guide me in the right direction.

My prayers were answered when I found my teacher in the Fall of 2011. It seemed I would find exactly what I was seeking under his direction studying yoga, Tantra and meditation. I was a diligent student for the next five years. I attended every training and workshop. I learned techniques that helped me fulfill my deepest spiritual longings while simultaneously teaching me how to navigate the everyday challenges of the material world. I committed myself to yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry practices. I wrote in my journals non-stop. I actually became a seeker of darkness, looking for it in the hidden nooks and crannies of my consciousness so that I could understand it and extricate it from my life. Despite the ebbs and flows of life, I began to feel more stable, more confident. I began to recognize how my habitual thoughts of fear and negativity created a life of discontent and I was committed to changing them. I also began to develop and nurture deep meaningful friendships that would support me in my times of sorrow. All of these things helped me take ownership of my life. I no longer felt like a slave to my emotions and sensed I was moving in a positive direction.

Yet toward the end of 2015, I began to feel a large swell of discontent. My job as the Wellness Director of a resort and spa in Austin, TX was unfulfilling and I was living in a city where I never did quite find my groove. In February of 2016, I quit my job and boarded a one-way flight to India for a sadhana immersion with my teachers, unsure where exactly I would go after that or when I would return. I had no idea what was next and, like anyone with a pulse, I felt fear over leaping into the unknown. But I did know without a shadow of a doubt that I was making the right decision. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I was running away from something, but running towards something.

During my travels throughout Asia, I learned more about myself with every stamp of my passport. I began to get clearer on what I wanted, the woman I wanted to be, and the life I envisioned for myself. I knew I had to write the book that had been brewing inside of me for years. After I returned to the States, I retreated to the mountains of Colorado to do just that. My summer was filled with meaningful work, time in nature, fresh food and visits with family. I was finding balance. I was content and at peace. And I almost convinced myself I had seen the last of sadness sans reason. I felt joy – a deep internal joy that was present regardless of what I did for a living, what I looked like, or whether or not I would ever press into handstand in the middle of the room.

Despite all of my strides forward, depression had been patiently waiting in the wings, ready to make its grand entry and take down the house. One evening I was exhausted from one too many hikes and quite possibly, a lack of adequate oxygen. I had gone for a particularly long stretch staring into a computer screen, isolated from much contact with the outside world. My defenses were down and feelings of anxiety and restlessness began to overshadow the peace I had found in the mountains. I was blowing through much of my savings and worries about what I would do for work and how I would support myself became overwhelming. I feared the risk of switching careers and expressing my truth. All the courage and confidence I seemed to have cultivated during my solo travels disappeared in an instant. It felt safer to crawl back into the shadows then make any attempt to forge ahead into the light….

To read the rest of the essay, please visit YogaPoetica.

Thoughts On Love.

What is love? Love is an action not a thing to be had, owned or possessed. It certainly can be given but must also be received. (One of my greatest challenges.) You can’t need love because you are it. As Rumi says “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Love never says Yes, but . . . only And, also. It is all inclusive and yes, blind in that it is indiscriminate. It is available to everyone who would like to participate. Anyone can be a participant in love. Love is timeless, ageless.

More and more I am learning it requires my active engagement and not just idle daydreaming. It requires a choice to act in a way that express it in every moment regardless of circumstance.

Thank you to my teachers who continue to usher me along this path of love. I know I can be stubborn and very often forget the truths which you so graciously share. But I do understand and I am learning to play in a new sandbox. I don’t know all the rules (are there any in love?) or playmates, but I hope and trust, as I continue my practice of deep unconditional love, I’ll find more playmates to build castles with me in the same sandbox. And my sandbox will be open to anyone who wants to join.

Is The Shit Show Necessary?

I’ve been here in Ridgway, CO about two weeks now. I’ve spent most of that time adjusting – to the altitude, a slower pace of life, not having every convenience at my fingertip (except for Amazon Prime – thank you Amazon Prime), and a different way of life in general. I would say I’m acclimating quite nicely.

Now that I can somewhat breath again, I’ve been spending time hiking, writing, resting, exploring, and meeting new people. One random afternoon took me past a Pilates studio in town. I stared in the window salivating at barres, mirrors, wood floors, and Reformers. Somehow, I had to get in there. I could feel my hamstrings and core getting weaker by the day and knew I needed to get myself back into some sort of routine. While I certainly feel better when I look better, it’s also important for me to keep what tend to be my weaker muscles strong so I can do all the other activities I love without low back and knee pain. Such as hiking. In case you didn’t know, there’s a lot of hiking here in Colorado.

I looked up the studio on line and not five days later I was meeting with the studio’s owner. Somehow we completely skirted over any talk of Pilates and dove right in the deep end. We shared stories of body insecurities, negative self-talk, and guilt over feeling the way we did knowing we are blessed to have the bodies we do. I immediately felt connected to this woman. At one point in the conversation she questioned whether or not everything needed to fall apart for us to evolve and create anew. My answer? Yes. Absolutely.

It’s one of the first pieces of wisdom I learned from my teacher. We only change when it becomes too painful not to. Let’s face it. Change sucks. The human condition prefers to be comfortable. To live in the stable and the known as opposed to the nebulous and unfamiliar. With a handful of exceptions, humans are, by nature, risk averse. We don’t like to take chances unless we are confident our gamble will produce a successful outcome whether it’s in business, relationship, or life choices.

There are no shortage of quotes on the challenge of living outside your comfort zone and the great reward that can result. Life begins outside your comfort zone. Your life does not get better by chance – it gets better by change. If there is no struggle there is no progress. We know this. Our intellect understands that the only way to evolve is to change. Yet, most often, we prefer to stay the same even if it produces an undesirable outcome.

Most times, if we remain stagnant despite all signs pointing to a need to shake things up, something will come along to deliver a swift ass kicking. It can be anything from an emotionally painful break-up to a life threatening accident. Or it may simply be the persistent pain of living day in and day out under the same conditions of disappointment, abuse, or general malaise. One day we wake up and just can’t tolerate it anymore. We are done.

It’s a phrase I hear more and more. I’m done. What follows it varies – I’m done feeling badly about myself. I’m done with this relationship. I’m done playing small. And in its emphatic form such as I’m SOOOOO done with this job. The pain of staying the same MUST BE greater than the pain of change. Saying we’re DONE is our proclamation to the Universe that “what is” is no longer acceptable. Things must change.

It would be great if our lives didn’t need to fall to shit in order for us to shift. Usually, however, we need to be forced to alter our way of doing things or adjusting the lens through which we view the world. The good news is, like any other skill, navigating change can be developed. And the more adept we become at managing the discomfort of change, the more likely we are to take risks and, as one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown writes, dare greatly. Make no doubt about it – risk is a learned aptitude. The more you rehearse, the better you get.

Try to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for all the events in your life that seem devastating. I am a firm believer that God, Spirit, Allah, Universe – whatever you want to call it or believe in – does not hand out anything beyond our capacity to endure. You know, the whole what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger philosophy. Someone, somewhere, is trying to wake you up. Pay attention and use adversity as a path to growth, wisdom, and change. The more you accept change as inevitable and the more you work your capacity to handle adversity, turmoil, and discomfort, the easier and more fruitful your life will become. Shit show and all.

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