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Is Enough Enough?

Last night I got sucked into the social media abyss of Instagram. For a half hour, maybe more (but who’s counting?) I poured over other abnormally beautiful girls’ photos who seemed to glow with fairy dust and poop golden gumdrops. Every photo seemed carefully crafted to display how amazing their life is while simultaneously assuring us that arriving to this place of effortless effervescence required diligent effort and struggle. This life of rainbows and butterflies and God damn grace. And there I sat – greasy hair pulled up in an anything but beautiful bun bouncing on the top of my head. I resembled something more of a paleolithic cartoon character than a modern have-it-all woman of Instagram. I was pissed that I couldn’t get paid for simply striking a pretty yoga pose. Annoyed that I always seemed to work my ass off for peanuts relatively speaking. I astonished over one golden girl in particular. Videos of her seamlessly transitioning from a forward fold to a pose with one one foot extended BEHIND HER FUCKING HEAD and the other extending straight out in front of her. Like one of the shapes I used to create with silly putty when I was little. It’s taken me eight years to get my head anywhere near my shins and THIS is the new standard for yoga? Fuck. I’ll never win. I realized that’s always been my mantra. I will not deny my successes or that I’ve had some incredible experiences in life. But it’s not enough. I’m not enough. I’ve always come really darn close to enough. And Lord knows, I’ve fought and worked my ass off for close to enough. But I could never quite get to enough. I always seemed to land just short of enough. Just shy of top of my class. Just short of a 4.0. A few spots below #1. A few pounds short of thin enough. A couple highlights less than blonde enough. A zero or two away from wealthy enough. I’ve hovered more in the ‘above average’ range. Better than many – not quite the best. I notice, as much work as I’ve done to be above comparison, it’s not much different. I’m still trying to prove I’m smart enough. Pretty enough. Flexible enough. Enlightened enough.
I can’t do this anymore. Who am I trying to prove myself to? My boss? My colleagues? My family? Myself? God? Sometimes, I wish I were just a total fuck up. Then the bar would be set kind of low. But it seems like someone’s always inching my bar a little higher. Just when I think I’m almost there, there she is – Ms. Golden Yogini striking a handstand on the beach in a bikini drinking green juice and smiling – nudging the bar a little higher. And me struggling and straining to fulfill my potential. To get a bit ahead. One step forward. Three steps back. I’m exhausted chasing enough, trying to keep up with her. When will enough be enough?

Days In Pondicherry

For the past few days, I’ve had thoughts I couldn’t wait to document in my journal. Now, here I sit at breakfast pen in hand with little desire to write. I rather sit and enjoy my cappuccino, eggs and toast. Soak it all in. Record the memories in my heart rather than on paper. As if talking about them or writing about them would somehow rob the moments of their magic. While I can offer details of what I did and the things I saw, undoubtedly my explanations would never equate to what yogis call bhav – feeling or sentiment. Words would undoubtedly fail to describe what I smelled when I walked past fragrant jasmine and garbage simultaneously. Or what I tasted when I took that first bite of homemade local bread from Auroville with fresh melted butter. Or the colors and emotions that exuded from an artist’s music and dance performance in the intimate setting of his own salon. No. Words would not suffice.

I don’t want to describe in detail what transpired during my time inside the Matrimandir or all the divine circumstances that led me there without the compensatory orientation. I protect those moments and sensations in my heart, like a momma clutches her baby to her breast.

In a world of incessant sharing of every detail of our lives on social media and Did it really happen if it wasn’t posted on Instagram? it’s tempting to share all the events of my time here in Pondicherry. Normally, I enjoy doing it. Offering a glimpse into the wonders of parts of the world you may otherwise not see or experience. But something inside me restrains me. Prevents me from over-share. Besides, as any of my friends who have journeyed alongside or before me will attest, words would be a miserable substitute for true knowingness.

All I know is somehow, a force greater than my own will has guided my time here. The people I’ve met, conversations we’ve shared over coffee and meals, the serendipitous moments – cataloguing them all is unnecessary. Memories of the heart will remain there and, like flowers nurtured by the sun and water, continue to bloom as I bring them to the forefront of my mind. Whether or not I tweet them.

 

 

DONE (With Diets And A Few Other Things)

I have been in the fitness business for over 15 years. From being in front of the camera to being behind it, teaching weekly classes from New York to Los Angeles and places in between. I’ve seen the rise of Zumba, the Shake Weight (I even lead some of their ancillary DVD workouts – feel free, laugh. I do.) Jillian Michaels, Hip Hop Abs and Insanity, Crossfit, P90X, Soul Cycle, TaeBo, CoreFusion, CorePower, Bikram, and heaven help me, the plexiglass parade of yoga on a bed in NYC.

I’ve been around for, and participated in, the no-carb, lo-carb, sugar free, no fat, some fat, lots of fat, raw, Paleo, Hunter-Gatherer, Gluten free, and everyone’s favorite, the Grapefruit Diet.

I’ve watched how every single fad, trend and celebrity quick fix have single handedly whipped not only women, but more increasingly, men, into a food and fitness frenzy. The health and fitness space is so filled with opinions, guidelines and Instagram butt photos, I don’t know whether to down dog or tap back.

And I’m done.

While this industry has been very good to me, I struggle with what us ‘experts’ are doing to others. Can we please take a touch step and box jump back and objectively look at the culture we are creating? We have become an obsessed society. Obsessed with working out. Obsessed with gluten free. Obsessed with the front row. Obsessed with Instagram yoga.

Maybe I’m slightly hypersensitive as body dysmorphia and eating disorders have plagued me since high school. Or maybe, at the ripe old age of 41, I’m beginning to grow into my own and realize it’s time to be done with temporary weight loss, fads and fanatical approaches to health. Finally, my desire to be happy is greater than my desire to be thin.

So here is a short list (trust me, there is a long list) of my done’s. (Yes, it is a list but ya’ll read those!)

  1. I’m done with food rules. Do you mean to tell me if found yourself in an episode of LOST and happened to cross paths with a turkey and cheddar on whole wheat with mayo you would turn your nose up because you’re a gluten free, vegan Paleo? It’s whole wheat for crying out loud.
  2. I’m done with ‘hacking’ – bio, mind, internet or any other shortcut to ‘figure things out’. I understand we all want to feel our best and perform at optimal levels, but life is messy and in case you haven’t noticed, you have no control. So give it up, embrace the slop, and enjoy the ride a bit.
  3. I’m done with yoga. You heard me. I may get on my mat every day for some down dogs and forward folds, but I’m done with yoga as exercise. You want some cardio? Go for a damn run.
  4. Speaking of, I’m done with running. From my fears, my insecurities and my own dysfunction. No amount of hours I spend on the treadmill make these disappear. In fact, it probably heightens them.
  5. I’m done with looking in the mirror and criticizing every inch, millimeter and line. I’m actually shocked that, with as much disgust and judgment I’ve placed on this amazing machine known as my body, it continues to show up day after day without some sort of temper tantrum.
  6. I’m done comparing myself to my 29 year old cover girl self. Or any 29 year old for that matter. Or 40 year. Or 50 year old. This one is so much easier said than done.
  7. I’m done with hearing excuses. And I’ve heard a lot in my twenty odd years of teaching. My favorite? “I can’t meditate.” Yes. You can. Just like I did. By sitting my ass down with slumped shoulders day after day, year after year, enduring discomfort, distractions, numb legs, and a bat shit crazy mind until eventually I found stability and ease.
  8. I’m done with reading about solutions, no matter how valid, to my problems, whether perceived or real. This is not to say I will stop learning – or teaching – but when will enough be enough?

When will we stop looking to the latest YouTube or Instagram celebrity and start following the best expert of all? YOU.

You created your source of discontent, whether it be obesity, anxiety, unhappiness, or dis-ease on any level. Only you have the solution. Take responsibility and stop seeking answers outside yourself. Know that the answer isn’t in a photo of a pretty yogi in a beautifully contorted position or a top ten list, but your own inner wisdom and light. Figure out how to get there more (which may mean getting to the gym less) for all the answers you truly need are inside.

At the end of the day, the enemy is not sugar, juice cleanses, Turbo Jam, or Tara Stiles. It’s not Facebook or People magazine. The enemy is our minds. If we can figure out how to tame that unruly, defiant and petulant son of a gun, we’ll have made more peace with all of this faster than you can say front row.

I’d love to hear what you’re DONE with! Send out a Tweet with #DONE!

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