It's 55 degrees out today! Woohoo! I'm turning 55 today! Wait. What?
A year ago from this glorious, blue, trying to shift to spring day, I was zipping around Times Square, The Upper West Side, back to Times Square, out to Brooklyn to teach and then back to the East Village for a fabulous dinner at Momofuku with dear friends only to repeat this the next day starting at the early bird hour of 5:30am, sans Momofuku.
No matter what you were doing a year ago from today, it's probably safe to say it is quite different today. Yes?
I have always been interested in our transformation and what gets in our way. Recently someone shared the brilliance of Martha Beck with me and I was struck by something she said about butterflies and their metamorphosis. She wrote:
"If you were to look inside the cocoon early on, you’d find nothing but a puddle of glop. But in that glop are certain cells, called imago cells, that contain the DNA-coded instructions for turning bug soup into a delicate, winged creature—the angel of the dead caterpillar."
How about us humans? What really resonated with some of the things M.B talks about, is that there are many times in our lives that we go through transformation. Death of a loved one, loss of a job, moving, kids, kids leaving the nest, and, and. It's basically anything that rocks our world or tilts it sideways.
We push our way through, use positive thinking and ride the hell out of the 'blip' thinking we will go back to 'normal,' that we are still the same person.
Er, in a word, no. This is when the releasing, dissolving part is necessary for us to have a growth spurt. Whether a whooper spurt one or tiny one, the challenges are how we are going to expand. To gain wisdom.
If someone would have told us last year that 2020 we might would lose your jobs, lose our house or worse, or that we luckily kept our job, but now we can work 24/7 from home, never leave home and our kids are home- ALL. THE. TIME.
How would that process? I am pretty sure that cute little fuzzy caterpillar was not aware he/she needed to dissolve to glop to grow it's gorgeous wings and fly.
Yes, I know. I have talked often of this process. I guess it's because I am in one. Are you? Oh, and yes, denial works wonders for transformation. Smile emoji.
What I am starting to truly understand- is that there are messy fazes in 'the process.'
Absolutely, hands and feet down, getting on my mat. You knew that already. And you know that kindness, compassion and dear ole patience are required for the ride.
Another biggie? Connecting with my something larger, meaning. The book Burnout shed's a lot of insight on this. That something larger is not a pressure, or an external thing- it's whatever gives ud a sense of inner alignment and has a positive impact. It already exists within us.
Try their suggestion of writing about:
"What am I doing when I feel that I am most powerfully doing what I am meant to do? There is no right or wrong here.
My something larger is to teach the art of yoga and learning to live life fluidly. To share the power when we dig, we can uncover internal clarity. Joy. Joy- different than happiness. It is unaffected by external circumstances. Happiness is based on 'happenings.' It's when life is good.
What happens when it's not? Uh-huh, we often grasp for the tangible, temporary feel goods like chocolate anything, a Netflix marathon of The Queen's Gambit, ohhhhh and shopping at No. 6. Add wine.
Hey, nothing wrong with any of those things, but after the happiness burns off, we strained our bank account and we didn't show up for ourselves to deal with the glop, well, there's still glop.
The other biggie is connection. In times when our connection has been significantly limited or cut off at the knees, it's tough. It's essential to our well being to have a flow of giving and receiving.
Imagine only breathing in, no exhale. Or vice versa. Not gonna work out so well. We need connection like we need food and water.
Suggest: from Burnout: write down everyone in your life who has loved you, brought out the best in you, wants the best for you, believes in you and then reach out to at least one and tell them so.
Exhale. It's a glorious day to practice. My deepest, most humongous thanks to all of you who helped support me doing what I love.
"Brene Brown quotes failure as: “Failure is an imperfect word” because, if you take the time and have the patience to learn from your failures, then they aren’t failures any longer—they’re lessons. Often in yoga classes that I teach, I will hear students comment: “I know I’m doing it wrong,” “Why can’t I get my upward-facing dog right,” “I am too afraid to try a handstand.” “There’s no way I will ever be able to balance on one arm let alone two like that.” Published by Sivana. Read more here.
"So, I was in the dukkha. I thank my lucky stars that yoga had discovered me and I will remain forever a student first and teacher second, but I had run from one lifestyle to another thinking this was the answer. What I missed along the way were the lessons in resistance."
Published by Retreat Kula. Read more here.
"Everyone did it. All the time. Everywhere.
People heard things that it might be bad for you, but nothing much changed. Just like many others, my own mother, who was in the field of health care, was not moved enough by the weight of scientific reports and continued to smoke even throughout her pregnancies. " Read more here.
"Four doormat size pieces of plain cheese pizza with extra marinara sauce. Two fudge brownies. And a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. This was my daily go to for comfort only to be vomited up asap. Heaven forbid an ounce might be gained." Read more here.
"We all know these moments. For me, mine came a few years back when it was an all of the above equation. Things did not go as p
It was a slow, painful process. While this wrecked havoc on our finances and our marriage, the worst part was the emotional side. It felt like we were going through a nasty divorce and would never see our kids again. Yes. Dramatic. The soap opera kind that takes us on the emotional roller coaster of life." Read More here.
"Back in the heat of the jungle in Thailand, my first day of teaching in training did not go well. It didn't go at all since I couldn't get a word out past my blubbering. As my peers and teachers observed me have an absolute meltdown, my internal voice was whispering “Who was going to listen to what I had to say? Why would they want to?” I was completely unnerved and unraveled." Read more here.
"I wonder what happens to us when we set out on a creative endeavor and any idea we might have had, seems to have packed and left the planet. What is that exact moment that cuts us off at the neck in trusting ourselves to write, paint, sing, dance, teach or do any other thing that asks us to go beyond what we know? " Read more here.
Is this my life?
Am I breathing underwater?
Lyrics by Metric.
Breathing underwater. That's what I feel like sometimes.
I think I have a little understanding now of how people can become paralyzed and not know what to do when life is transitioning, shifting and throwing fast, hard curve balls. Not being at the studio that I founded almost 5 years ago since last July has kept my mind in contemplation about what to do next. It has been challenging to get a grip on how to move forward and instead feel stuck in place. I see glimmers of ah ha! I see clear moments of things I needed to learn and am thankful for, yet have been slow moving in applying it. If the tortoise is the hero in the race with the hare, then I am winning!
In the process of re-discovering my inner voice, my true voice, I feel like I have had to dump the truck of stuff I thought I knew, and start over. Completely over. Yup, and right on cue comes that inner voice that shouts what's your problem? Get on with it already! I remind myself of treasure, diamonds, gold, pearls and that they are not found at the surface- they are found by digging deep and searching.
Oh this power of yoga, the power of life. I will always love it, although it often asks us to look where you don't want to. To take a good look at what happens inside the asana- because it is the same as what happens outside at work and in our relationships. What habits and reactions do we practice with? The work is to catch yourself before you get stuck in that thought that does not serve and make you feel like you are breathing underwater. I believe to uncover the treasure deep inside, one has to be a spiritual ninja about what thoughts you are allowing in that bury your luminous light. The true light which is you. Which is me.
Sutra 2.52 Tatah kshiyate prakasha- avaranam
As its result, the veil over the inner Light is destroyed
Usually, I love going to practice with one of main mentors, Nikki C. Last Wednesday, I had to use every ounce of willpower to convince myself to go. As I approach the ripe age 51 this week, it seems every inch of my body is confused and thinks it's more like 95. Everything is yelping and is so thankful for savasana when it arrives. Yup, been to the doctor and aside from a strangely low blood pressure of 80/50, I am fine. Inside of last years financial and emotional upheaval, blend in a shifting of the hormones and you have a perfect storm. I am woman hear me roar!
After only minutes into class, I knew that I was meant to be there. Just returning from India- Nikki was so profoundly human in a raw and vulnerable way- this is part of what makes her such a powerful teacher – this ability to help you feel connected, that you are not alone in your quest for the true Self. The discussion circled around why would we want to be empty? There are no right or wrong answers to this- but my idea is when the mind is like a jam packed car with so much stuff inside of it, you can't see out the windows. How can you possibly get any where if you only have a small view? How the crap we pick up in our daily travels build up and we end up being locked in a traffic jam inside of ourselves with stuff, our stories of the past and the idea that we are what we do, should do, have to do, and the dreaded what ifs and if onlys. How limited our perceptions are when we can only see what we have crowded ourselves with.
Her next couple of thoughts stripped the essence of yoga down to the core and have stayed with me since. What is the thought that you carry around that does not serve you? The one that is engraved in you, embossed in your skin, that rears it's head in all areas of your life? That would be the inner foe that is running around and wrecking havoc on your dreams. She next asked to consider an opposite statement that is clear, succinct and supportive of yourself. It is a simple sentence that is not easy to say to yourself. I know I hit the nail on the head when my statement made me twitch. This is the work to be done.
Makes sense. Now let's turn some lights on.
p.s. as for the body aches... they are slowly subsiding now that I am listening to the voice that serves me and is teaching me to be okay slowing down, to hear that my body needs gentleness right now, to treat myself as my best friend and not fit any square pegs in round holes.
Big breath in. H-A haaaaaaa. Home from Morocco. What a gift to have taught there for a month. A fabulous trip for so many reasons.
One of which I suppose was because I was in a nice little bubble safe from reality. Safe from having to face the aftermath of losing my business. Of a financial crisis. Of the void left from the studio that was my dream.
Although I know moving forward is the only way, it has not been easy. I hear the words in my ears “You have to let go” and in fact it has turned into a constant, very loud ringing. I hear loved ones around me “You have to let it go”. I KNOW. How much do I talk about this when teaching class? The art of surrender and the jewel of Ishvara Pranidhana. Yes folks, I have as much to learn and practice as you my fellow students do.
The philosophy is very clear to me. Practicing it is quite another and man, have I fallen off the horse again and again. When I witness friends around me going through their own catastrophes and troubles, I feel very small being stuck in my little mud puddle. Everyone has troubles, some mammoth, some minuscule, all valid. For some reason, I have trouble giving myself permission to be sad, upset, turned upside down.
Turns out, my little stint in the emergency room that I wrote about in the first post was.......drum roll please.....a nervous breakdown. Whaaaaat?? Yup, it's official, I am a member of one flew over the cuckoo's nest. I saw my doctor upon returning home (mandatory after ER visits) with my novel size stack of paper work and tests. He said that after all the strain from the last few years that my body gave up when I finally decided to relax, let go, that my trip to Morocco was such a relief of carrying the weight that my body said “Enough”. Wow.
Part of me feels better to know that it really was a lot to handle and the other part feels extremely vulnerable admitting this. Like my dirty little secret is out of the closet. This was a dream that my husband I put all our money and soul's into. A state of the art yoga studio that cost roughly $9-$10,000 per month to operate and it did well from day one. It was a mission to offer a beautiful space that was financially and physically accessible to all.
The cherry on top was that it was built to make difference in people's lives. 10% of all proceeds always went to my dear friend Molly's orphanage in Africa- Springs of Hope Kenya. Since the time we were open, almost $15,000 was sent directly to this life saving place as well as to local charities like Family of New Paltz. The reasons behind the studios struggles has it's own story that involves others. I have always chosen to remain quiet on this as I would not want to hurt someone the way we have been. Instead, I am more interested in how I co-created what has happened and how to move forward. The studio always paid for itself which is no small feat for a small town. The thing it did not pay for was me working around the clock to keep it a float. After 4 years of this and as much as I loved the studio and it's community like a child, I realized this was not a sustainable way to live.
So how are we going to deal with ourselves? The situation of losing the yoga studio hit us hard in the pocket but it's the emotions that are harder to deal with. The love and care we put into creating this place from the ground up- from the blue-stone floor my husband cut by hand, to the paint color right down to the kind door knobs installed were part of the vision, but it's the relationships with students and community that has left the biggest hole.
There's the teacher's voice in my head again yelling so maybe I can finally hear- “This is attachment! You have to let go! We are not our situations, or job or debt, or material things! The obstacle is here to teach us. Surrender!” Blah, blah, blah. Oooooh I get it- yet it's been a rough ride and I keep falling off the horse.
The crush of finances left from the studio and me wondering if I somehow were a better teacher or worked harder, I could have saved the business has kept me in the murky mud puddle. Ding! There it is! The voice of the inner enemy.... a killer for many of us. How long I have battled that inner foe thinking that If I were better..... And never mind that thinking this way probably did in the end shadow me in classes.
I felt so transparent trying to keep this face of strength on for the past couple of years. It did not matter how many emails or testimonials that said the opposite of my internal thoughts. I could only hear my own tiny voice. It drove me to be almost fanatical in my own training, study and growth. This part I am thankful for, as I am better all the way around for it, but funny when my therapist (Oh God, I really am a walking soap opera!) said “No more yoga!!!!!' No more reading about yoga!” He said something key- that I also heard from my mentor Nikki- To trust myself. To know I had the light inside me and that I already know. It's just me that's in the way.
It is not acceptance that I needed for the issue- it was and is acceptance for myself. This is the truth of surrender. It is not giving up and turning into a marshmallow on the couch watching 18 episodes of Game of Thrones in a row (although, I admit enjoy especially on a rainy day). The surrender is to stop the internal fight. To recognize the situation so that a fresh perspective can enter our tiny pea brains. It means putting a halt to the inner enemy, the questioning self and get back up on the damned horse to embrace new possibilities.
I love Hafiz's quote -”We have all the ingredients to make our lives joyful and all the ingredients to make it a nightmare.” I have been making mud soup at times through this process-Sorry to my friends and family who had to endured me! - but I think part of the problem is not giving ourselves time to grieve, time to not be perfect. The guilt I had from feeling this way only fed the beast to make it worse. Tearing ourselves apart for how we feel does not help with the healing.
Ah. Can I finally learn? Can I finally understand that it took something this massive to reach my true inner voice- the one that is a divine light that each and every one of us has?
Time to pull up the boot straps and ride.