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Friday, September 25, 2015

This wagon has squeaky wheels. That's all. No big deal.

It's been almost 3 months since I cracked open an overpriced Dale's Ale on my plane trip home from Portland, Oregon.
I haven't gone this long without alcohol since 2007.
I thought it would be the hardest thing I've done since giving birth but it turns out giving up alcohol hasn't been the real struggle.
The struggle has been having to realize that the same overwhelming waves of frustration, sadness, anger and exhaustion are still there.
Sobriety hasn't made me happier.
My life is the same dynamic mess of laughter, tears and waiting for the sky to fall as it always has been.
Every time, I reinvent myself I tell myself that it's not motivated by a need to 'fix' myself.
I tell myself that I don't believe my own bullshit but when I wake up with the same amount of mopey self pity that I had months ago, I'm surprised and somewhat pissed about it.
Being sober was supposed to break that habit, too.
Once I got sober, I'd finally be the uncomplicated/ low maintenance woman my boyfriend wanted.
When I quit drinking, I would sleep better and have more patience for my son.
When I quit drinking, I wouldn't waste my money on beer everyday and finally build up my savings.
When I quit drinking, I would learn to deal with my shit without taking a drink first.

I've woken up but it turns out that I'm still a complicated, impatient and restless woman just like always.

I still hold back tears everyday as I scan the daily news, I still wince and want to scream at intolerance (I believe there's some irony in that, no? ) and can't believe that in the midst of getting sober...I would have to watch Donald Trump become a possible contender for President of The United States, see 'Christians' shame The Pope for wanting to help the poor and watch millions risk their lives fleeing horrible living conditions and be told there is no room for them!
What the fuck? 
Doesn't The Universe know I need all my ducks in a row while I learn to not chug a beer every time something in my life starts to lose its sheen?
Damn it..the answer is?
The Universe doesn't give a rat's ass about my little white girl problems.

If ever there was a time to become knee deep drunk in whiskey, it feels like it's now.
I'd like to be.
Oh man...I'd like to get drunk, go dancing and get sloppy with a stranger but I'm not going to.

Nope, I'm just going to sit with the crappy whiny voice in my head that incessantly lists everything that annoys me.
I hear it.
I hear it but it's not the boss of me.
I'm finding that whether I'm sober or not, I'm probably always going to feel lonely.
I might never have a good close girlfriend that I can just call up to hang out and eat chocolate with.
I might always wonder if I am lovable and I may still roll my eyes every time I hear someone tell me that if I was just more positive the universe would provide me with wealth, joy and ease.
Actually, I will ALWAYS roll my eyes at that privileged belief but I just won't slam a shot of tequila  quickly so I can feign a smile and nod in agreement.

My life is rich, though...its rich with stinky stupid drama, it's rich with kid tv shows, board games and burritos.
It's rich with overwhelming thoughts, inconvenient desires and unattained dreams.
It's rich with randomn 'I love yous' from my son.
It's rich with hands that touch my shoulders to acknowledge that I am living with a man who loves me even though we seem barely able to make time to open the door for one another as we race off to work, appointments and events.
It's rich with an awareness that I can keep trying to fix things but I'd be better served by noticing what's working.

I don't know if I'm going to do this sobriety thing forever.
I keep thinking that come Winter...I may have to get a fancy Spanish Coffee to warm me up as I step deeper into my 40s.
I don't know.
I never do.
I do know that I won't ever pay $8 for a can of beer on an airplane, again.

Well, ...if Trump wins the election, maybe?
But, it's a maybe.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sometimes, people are great.

I have a wonderful job.
I get to teach Yoga and Mindfulness for a living.
It's a privilege and I am fortunate to have been patiently trained by very accepting people over the years.

At Miraval,
I am allowed to be myself (amazingly) and given a lot of room to decide how I will teach and respond to students.
Of course, there is some structure to it, as well.
Each day, I'm likely to teach a combination of classes that include asana, pranayama, meditation and lectures on mindfulness.
It still blows my mind at times, that this is my life.
Considering what a hot mess of a teacher I was at the beginning, I am pretty sure that there are a few who knew me then that are equally shocked that I'm still at it.
When it comes to major newbie mistakes to be made...I made them all!
I didn't injury anyone but I said a lot of stupid stuff and wasn't always professional.
After almost a decade of teaching yoga full time, it is nice to know that with maturity and humility, I have been able to improve as I continue along this path.
I've gained a fair amount of wisdom and become more compassionate towards myself and others.
Hooray, for that!

But today?
Well, today was special.
Today was one of those days where I got to witness just how much I've learned as a teacher and how important it is to value the trust that must happen between a student and their instructor.

In the middle of my day (between a 2 hour lecture on stress management & 2 asana classes) I got the pleasure to work with an amazing woman and her seeing eye dog, Buster.
She's in her early 60's, almost completely blind and recently started practicing yoga because "I need to take an interest in myself, for once".
She was nervous (I was, too) but also aware that she needed to move her body more,
She has only 10% of her sight left.
It started when she was only 10 years old but it did not prevent her from becoming a gymnast, having a career and raising 2 sons with the help of her husband.
Soon she will be in complete darkness. 
She knows that now is the time to learn how to be in her world fully because sooner than later she won't be able to see it.
So, we took the time to practice.
Buster sat next to her. 
Relaxed and half awake.

We did a little Yin, a little Joint Freeing Series and then she said she needed to work on her balance and get stronger.
I took a moment to think about it and asked her if she had used a wall before.
She rolled her eyes as if to say "I'm blind, what do you think?" So, I asked her to walk over to the wall and demonstrated Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon).
She very quickly said "Oh no, I can't do that".
I said "Let's just try...if nothing else you can pretend you are holding the wall up".
She was reluctant but gave it a go.

She did it.
Before her eyes could tear up...mine did, instead.
It was one of those experiences when the sweetness of triumph is freely celebrated.
I cried.
It was simple, you know?
A person puts there backside against a wall and drops their hand to the floor and lifts a leg up.
Nothing Earth shattering except it was something.
It was special.

We ended our private session shortly after.
We didn't 'do' much. 
No handstands. 
Nothing that required a hot room or a commitment to practice every single day.
What we did do was to be open to the possibilities that would allow her to feel strong, balanced and courageous.
We were willing to experience a moment of vulnerability, to be honest about it and be aware that this might reduce future hesitation.
It was just a moment but I still feel shaken by it and really can't do it justice.

Lately, I've been questioning what I am doing. Yoga is such a 'thing' these days but it is a practice and it can rip you wide open sometimes and that's fucking beautiful. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tight pants won't fix you because you're not broke, damn it.

A few weeks ago, I was at a family gathering to say goodbye and celebrate my niece's accomplishments before she moves away to begin college and ultimately save the world.

After a 5am start to my day, I arrived late after work, found the buffet of food and begin to devour a heaping pile of wilted garlic salad.
Half way into it, two women I adore sat down next to me to catch up.
Within moments they surveyed my work outfit: yoga pants and top and said "We need you to come over and teach us yoga".
"Of course, I'd be happy to" and then their real reason was said without hesitation:
"We've got jiggle. Dimples.Yuck".
They grabbed their thighs and shook them to accentuate their point.
My shoulders slumped and I felt sad.
They reminded me that most of us whether it's yoga, cross fit or whatever...are wanting to do these practices because we are hoping to fix what's wrong with us...on the outside.
Our dimples, stretch marks, grey hairs and laugh lines...those parts of us that reveal a life history are not celebrated but instead hidden or condemned.
I mean, let's be honest...if a woman doesn't talk about what's wrong with her we label her as arrogant and full of herself and if you spend any time in a grocery store line you can't escape the messages on magazines that reinforce that being gorgeous is the key to happiness.
In addition, pretty much any current women's magazine is going to have a caption that praises yoga as a fun and interesting way to get it all:
If you do just a few simple moves, you too will get sexy-yoga arms like Tara Stiles and can look svelte in super cute yoga pants like Kate Hudson.
It's what the beautiful people do and who doesn't want to be beautiful like them?
I mean...uh...I do!
I want to be beautiful, lean, strong, calm, thoughtful and liked and quite often believe that I am anything but so I am just as neurotic as my friends who are wanting to do yoga for the sole purpose of getting rid of cellulite which it doesn't, by the way.
That conversation we had several weeks ago ended after I told them that even though I practice yoga every day...I've had cellulite since I was in my 20's and it hasn't disappeared but instead recruited more friends.
They were NOT happy to hear this and quickly dismissed the notion of even trying yoga if it wasn't going to give them the elusive yoga body that seem to be overwhelmingly promoted.
"I mean what's the point, then"?

Well? It a very common question and one that I've been asking myself a lot but not because yoga hasn't given me Tina Turner legs but because yoga has become a mask for covering up the continuation of women devaluing themselves as mere physical objects.

I am a yoga teacher, therefore, I am obligated to acknowledge that I have been an active participant in abusing yoga as a tool to be prettier on the outside, as well.
I am one of thousands of American women making a living off of an appropriated practice that many of us chase after with an expectation of eternal youth.
When I began to practice yoga 20 years ago, I was recovering from a serious eating disorder.
It began as a means to appreciate my body after years of bulimia and anorexia but once I got into it I too began to abuse it as another opportunity to overdo, under consume and hide behind its exoticness so that no one could see that I was still obsessed with being perfect.

These days, I still find myself falling into that trap from time to time (specifically, right around my period) but I own it, I know it's futile and I know I can choose to spend my time objectifying myself or tell that voice to speak up about issues that actually matter.
I've grown up and my practice has been along for the ride and given me a foundation of support.
I have a responsibility to be clear with myself and my students as to why after all these years, after the obnoxious amounts of yoga scandals, commercialization and tacky reinventions (Happy Hour Yoga or worse yet, Ghetto Fabulous Yoga, anyone?) as to why I am still participating in a 10 Billion dollar industry that lately seems more focused on selling insecurity, better sex, vacant new-ageism and expensive pants than encouraging health, wellness, awareness and social responsibility. I do it because it feels good, It calms me down and I'm nicer to myself and others when I practice so that is why I practice yoga.

Yoga is old.
It is a living practice that continues to evolve and the fact that women practice yoga more then men is a sign of progress. 
50 years ago, that fact would have been taboo to the men teaching yoga so I say "Yes, more yoga" but stop using it as another means to oppress ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually just like I did.
Please, Stop. Doing. That.

Yoga is not lost. 
It's just covered in a lot of party make up and like myself...I hope it will start to realize that it can be fun to glam it up now and then but you can't pull that shit off all the time otherwise you just wind up looking in the mirror and seeing something resembling Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" and thinking 'Damn yoga, you lied to me. I'm getting older. These Sun Salutations and Handstands were for nothing'.
Some of us are going to get cellulite, some of us are going to get those sexy yoga arms, some of us are going to bind in a twist or not but regardless we are all going to die. 
Don't let those stories of Gurus living forever trick you...that's just good marketing of the ultimate lie.

We are all going to die.
What's important is what are we going to do before that?

If it's yoga then practice yoga.
Show up, feel your breath, your bones, your jiggly thighs and if your mind wanders off (it will) than maybe consider how you're going to make the world better today.
In the interim, support yourself and all the other women who have yet to discover the depths of their yoga practice: it's to prevent future suffering so that they may live a life worth their time.

I'm still jiggliy after all these yoga years. I'm still weird, awkward and obnoxious after all these years but those things don't need to be fixed. All I want is to be awake for my life AND yours so that I can keep on eating garlic salad and keep on laughing and loving.