Monday, February 24, 2014


what did you have for breakfast this morning?

how we start the day is important for so many reasons. but most importantly, it sets the tone, and can color how we see the entire day. this morning i started my day with an old episode of This American Life.

in the first act of this episode, the question "what did you have for breakfast this morning?" is asked several times. the story is of a young woman who had at one point been hospitalized with anorexia. throughout the piece, she explores both her own and her family's experience of her struggle. when she asks her former hospital roommate the breakfast question the first time, the answer is alarming:
Oh my god, you don't really want to know. Eight ounces of nonfat, plain Stonyfield yogurt, mixed with one whole 35-calorie, non-sodium rice cake, mixed with a five-ounce cup of Kashi cereal, mixed with a half an ounce, one of those little boxes, of raisins, mixed with a tablespoon of flaxseed powder... A cup of black coffee, and guilt.
the level of detail that someone who is pre-occupied with food offers is familiar to me. familiar, and uncomfortable.

when she asks her former hospital roommate the breakfast question the second time, later in the story, the answer is equally upsetting.
I had anxiety laden with a very thin coating of agitation. And it was coupled with a cup of very lukewarm pseudo-comfort, in the form of an anti-depressant.
the amount of attachment she has placed on food is heartbreaking, especially to someone who understands how crippling this can be at times. moreover, starting her morning like that sets up a difficult journey for the day ahead.

starting our day off right, without anxieties and self-depreciating thoughts, is something many people struggle with, whether or not it is related to food. i'm currently working through gabby's 40 days, and this week we are focusing on relationships. today's mantra was about kindness: offering kindness to all those in our day.

"everyone" includes ourselves as well: we need to first offer kindness to ourselves. we are all connected, and being kind to ourselves allows us to be kind to others. modeling kindness to ourselves also teaches others to be kind to us. throughout my day, i practiced kindness toward myself and others--much more consciously than i regularly do. toward myself, i tried to choose needs over habits. in interactions, i allowed myself more time and space with people. in my world, i offered kind words, thoughts, and actions back out.

now, let me be completely honest. some of that was achingly difficult. i didn't like choosing some recovery over a long run. but i did it. i panicked about sacrificing some productivity by staying longer in a meeting with a student who needed a little more time with me. but i did it. i didn't really feel up to smiling and discussing my weekend with a colleague. but i did it. i kept practicing kindness.

so how did it all turn out? some of the kindness went unnoticed. some of it may have been noticed, but i wasn't aware that it was. some of it was brushed off. and some of it was greatly appreciated.

i don't think that's what really matters though. i think it all goes back to the intention: intentions are so important. consciously stating what we want or expect can have radical impacts on our experiences.

so what am i having for breakfast tomorrow morning? more kindness. because we are all continuously creating our lives.

what are you having for breakfast?

Thursday, February 20, 2014


i've treated myself terribly.
i've believed things other people have said.
i've criticized and judged myself 24/7.
i've believed that i wasn't good enough, fast enough, thin enough, or sexy enough.
i've exercised excessively.
i've binged and purged.
i've severely restricted caloric intake.
i've abused alcohol ridiculously.
i've escaped through sex.

i've used every distraction.
i've ignored all of my internal signals.
i've relied on anything but my inner guide.

i'm forgiving my fears.
i'm accepting the intuitive guidance.
i'm squashing the anxieties with love: love for the entire journey.

miracles keep happening.

Monday, February 17, 2014

inner light bright

the world constantly amazes me. like things happen. and fall into place. and connect to each other. and then everything makes sense. and i wonder: how? how is it possible that all of this is interrelated?

the meditation of the day (in gabby's may cause miracles book) today was: "i am not my body; i am free." there was also some additional text suggesting to think of the inner-self, the spirit, the energy that resides inside, as light. so all day today, i thought of myself as light. instead of an academic going to work, i was light. instead of a commuter on the train, i was light. instead of a girl running with her friend, i was light. instead of a teacher offering yoga musings, i was light. instead of a body with a spirit inside, i was light.

the crazy part is that this worked. some of the near-constant body talk cycles in my head began to shift. i began to feel less anxious about my body; i stopped being overly critical; i even stopped judging other people's bodies.

and then this afternoon, an unsavory character made a rather lewd statement that i'm sure he interpreted as a compliment. not only was the comment rude, but it had the multiplied effect of crashing me back into my body, of disrupting the bright light i was channeling. i don't think i have ever been so angry at a complete stranger.

but, it was also another chance to practice my mantra for the day. so i went back to it. and i redoubled my efforts to believe it.

then, when teaching yoga class tonight, i offered this lesson back to my students. i instructed them to visualize their inner lights as the only form in the class for the evening. i languaged the class with inner cues: about softening, lengthening, finding space... but mostly about brightening that inner light. i gave up on form a little so that we could find true function.

the meditation i led at the end instructed them to go back to the beginning image, to inhale it brighter, and to exhale it expanding. the class really responded to the theme and teaching tonight, and i felt pretty damn bright as i left the yoga room.

so, i get home, have dinner, take a bath, and finally have a chance to do my own evening reflection. i open up may cause miracles (well, i wake up my kindle to may cause miracles) and look for this evening's instruction. guess what it was?

the exact imagery and instructions that i had led my yoga class in only a couple of hours before.

ummm. that's weird. i mean it's not out of the realm of possibilities entirely, but it kind of seems like a little miracle. as if i brightened my light enough to be more connected to the world, to be just a little more conscious, and to be able to anticipate and expect things that are possible from the world around me. look, i'm not saying i have a crystal ball here. but... still.

a course in miracles says "inside each of us is a spark of light. as we become aware of the light, it grows bigger and stronger." and i'm thinking that the bigger and stronger it gets, the more it connects to all the light around us. and that is enough of a miracle for me. because that is pretty fucking beautiful.

shine on.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

i will trust in myself

yoga teacher confession: i can't do a handstand in the middle of the room.

i know how to teach it. i know how to help others in it. i can even hold a two minute handstand at the wall. but i can't handstand in the middle of the room. this has been a mystery to me for the past two years. but, yesterday, i figured it out.

it isn't about information. it isn't about strength. it's about not trusting myself: my intuition, my inner self.

and you know what? that sucks. because if it was just alignment, or strength, i would immediately know what to do to work on it. but trusting myself? hold up. that's hard work.

what's weird is that i thought i trusted myself. but maybe i lost a little bit of that somewhere. just last week someone said to me: "oh, that's great; you're learning to trust yourself!" i paused when i heard that, and thought, "am i? is that something i need to learn?" so when, in a yoga teachers' workshop yesterday, christina sell talked about the different things students may need to complete a yoga pose, and she mentioned "trust in self," it all clicked. that freaking handstand!! the missing ingredient is trust in myself.

yesterday a friend and his daughter were playing with me. they were showing off a trick they've been practicing: daddy on his knees, hands palm up. she stands on his hands, and he lifts her a few inches off the floor. in order to keep steady, the 3 year old needs to engage her core, use her balance, and... trust herself. sure, she wobbled a little, but she smiled the whole time... because she completely trusted herself.

i'm sure i trusted myself when i was young. my 3-year-old self would never stand for the negative self-talk and self-doubt that pervades my mind at times. she wouldn't understand where those thoughts came from. she would say, "STOP IT, SILLY!" because she would know that i'm whole. that i'm good enough. that i'm amazing. and that i shine.

i'm not sure where my self-trust went exactly; i can't really figure that out. and i don't know that that is even the important thing here. but i know i want to change it. i want to believe what the 3-year-old spring believed. so i will use my intuition: i am committing to trusting in it, to begin to follow it instinctively.

and then i will handstand in the middle of the room. maybe not tonight. maybe not tomorrow.

but maybe by the day after tomorrow. i just need a little practice.

**addendum. three days after writing this post, i came across elena's yogaglo class on trusting in yourself. it blew my mind, and is the perfect practice to share with you here. thank you, elena!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

i don't need to suck my thumb anymore

i'll be honest. i don't know what this post is about yet.

my last blog entry was quite confronting. to me i mean. it was scary to post, and the reactions i received from friends were a bit anxiety-producing, even though they were gorgeous replies. but other scary things happened--like a colleague hugging me at an event and saying that i was brave (love you JMS!). oh--i forgot: my blog might overlap with my real life?

my sister called me saying a mutual friend of ours had read my blog and immediately called her saying, "oh, so spring told your mom about her ED?" oh. no. i hadn't. i've never told my parents. because despite them being compassionate, amazing people, i hate admitting any shortcomings to them. and, yeah, i see this ED as one of my biggest failures.

but, that whole blog-in-life idea was now becoming a bit more dangerous. if my mom read my blog, she might feel hurt that i had never shared something with her that i was now sharing with the world. solution? grow the fuck up, i suppose. so, i called my mom.

ok. maybe that doesn't sound like a big deal to you. but, umm, i've been hiding this from my parents for over eight years. it was a big. fucking. deal.

and guess what? it wasn't that bad. my mom was as sensitive and caring as ever. and she sensed that i was in a good head-space right now. she told me she wasn't worried about me, because i had always done whatever i set my mind to. and then she reminded me of what happened on my fifth birthday:

at four and a half years of age, i had a doctor's check-up. as i was wont to do, i sucked my thumb while there. i mean, i was always sucking my thumb, so that isn't interesting. but, what is interesting, is that the doctor told me that children who suck their thumb after five years of age often develop buck teeth. now, even at four, i must've been a bit vain, because that was the scariest threat i had heard in my four years. so i told my parents i wasn't going to suck my thumb anymore once i turned five.

they played along. they let me think they believed me. on my fifth birthday, i didn't suck my thumb all day. by that evening, my parents were a little surprised, but still not convinced. they were sure i wouldn't make it through my bedtime rituals without a thumb for support. but, despite their doubt, i went to bed, tucked my little thumb inside my little fist, and put my lips against the base of my thumb knuckle.

and i never sucked my thumb again.

did you read that? i broke a well-ingrained habit by deciding it wasn't serving me. at five.

my mom's right. i can do whatever i put my mind to. and you know what? any of us can.

and i guess that's what this post is really about. believing in ourselves. without doubt. without self-criticism. without judgement. let's all throw away our security blankets.

with a little determination and lovingkindness toward ourselves, we can break those cycles in our life that aren't serving us. even those thought patterns that drive us crazy sometimes (KR!). so put your mind to it. and do it. i'm doing it right along with you: i've got your back.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

illusions of control

control. even the word sounds a bit harsh.

do we ever really have control over anything in our lives? i'm going to argue no. sure, i think i have control over what time i'm going to wake up when i set my alarm the evening before. and, more than likely, i will wake up when it goes off. but, i might not hear it if i had a restless night. i might turn it off in my sleep and not realize it. my phone battery could die if the phone wasn't properly plugged in. or, my phone may just decide that it's mad at me for overuse and not play the alarm in the morning. (ok, well, that last one probably wouldn't happen, but i wouldn't blame my phone for that response!)

i'm someone who likes to have control. when i don't have it, i look for other areas of my life where i can exert some control. and, when i think i have control over something, i get really upset if something goes against what was planned.

one of the (highly destructive) forms of control i exert in my life is over food and exercise. i count calories every day. every pretzel i eat. i keep track of all forms of activity. including all of my walking each day (i walk a lot, and i measure every minute). i balance out these two things with as much detail as possible. and, when i feel like something gets a bit off-balance, i binge and purge. as in, i eat 5 meals worth of food and then throw it all up. some of you know this. some of you don't... don't freak out or worry about me if this is new information to you; i am in "control" of the situation. ;)

i don't often resort to this extreme response. but, when i do, it has a bit of a wrecking ball effect: i feel ashamed and beat myself up about it for at least the following 24 hours.

in my married life, i became accustomed to binging and purging whenever i was alone. usually both of us were home in the evenings. which meant i never had an opportunity to binge and purge. some days i would crave that release so much, but i wouldn't be able to do it. so, eventually i began to do it every time i was alone because "who knows when i will have another opportunity?"

i've just realized that this "alone = binge/purge time" equation got conditioned into my psyche. eventually, i was afraid to be alone, because i felt like i was going to engage in this behavior by conditioned response, whether or not i "wanted" to. if my partner left town for a week, i got really nervous about how i would manage so many nights of either 1) consistently fighting the urge to binge and purge or 2) feeling the negative impacts of engaging in it every night. when my partner moved out permanently, i had this intense fear that i would drown in bulimia, that it would take over my life again, that i wouldn't be able to live my life because of its hold on me.

that happened a little, but not as much as i expected. the reason? i found substitute distractions. (note i did not say that i found good substitutions.) instead of managing the emotions i was feeling, i went about it from the other end: i decided i would just make sure that i wasn't often alone. i decided to control the circumstances. that means that any night that i didn't have plans with friends, or a yoga class that got me home after 9pm, i'd make a date. i didn't care who with; i just needed to be out of my house for another hour or two.

i don't think i even did this consciously. it's something that i've just realized over the past three weeks of NOT going on any dates. (my friends say: "i don't even know who you are!" clearly i've had a lot of dates over the past year.) so. umm, now i have to be alone at home, and that scares me. and i'm realizing it scares me because it is an opportunity to binge and purge. well. it seems i don't have my shit together. who knew?

so now i'm noticing that the 9-date-a-week plan didn't serve me so well. i thought i was having fun; i thought i was managing; i even kind of thought i was thriving. but, upon lots of recent reflection, i realized that i've just been in limbo.

----------enter the next big emotional hit----------

guess i better try something different this time. so now i'm doing what i didn't do the first time: reflecting, changing, growing. being by myself. and i've been trying to let go of my need for control. when i notice the anxiety about food, exercise, or being in my house alone, i look for the opportunity for growth in the response. it's only been a short time, but i'm doing it. instead of approaching time alone with fear, i've begun to look for the opportunities there. i've opened up to seeing love there. and i'm forgiving myself for the time i spent not doing that. #thanksgabby

and i think it's working. i met a friend for lunch today, one that i haven't had a chance to really catch up with in a few months. after lunch she sent me an email saying:
It was soooooo good to see you. I am very happy to be friends with such a vibrant, gorgeous woman who lives life a little differently... I am very grateful there are people like you in the world.
then, later this afternoon, a co-worker who hadn't seen me in a few weeks told me: "you seem different... more connected maybe?"

with evidence like that, who needs control? i'll take comfort in the love and support i have all around me. and thanks KR for all the 40-day motivation. xo

Monday, February 3, 2014

i choose, umm, the easier option, please?

imagine you're at a restaurant, and you're really hungry. you're provided with two equally-priced options: 1) you go pick all the ingredients up from the garden and store, bring them back to the restaurant, help prep them, help cook them, help set the table, and then you can eat the dinner. or, 2) you eat the exact same meal, but three hours sooner, since the restaurant has already done the prep-work for you.

well, i don't know about you, but if i'm really hungry, i'm going to choose option two. because it's easier. and just because i don't mind working for things, and i actually like cooking, that doesn't mean that i wouldn't choose the easier option in this situation. it seems to offer the same results with noticeably less time and effort.

while this analogy isn't perfectly aligned with life's choices, we can still find similarities. just because option two allows us to get to the result more quickly, there are potential trade-offs: by choosing option two, we've missed out on an experience, an opportunity. maybe we lost a chance to learn some new techniques or lessons. we probably wouldn't appreciate the final product as much either. so maybe option one seemed easier at the time, but maybe option two would have made many other situations easier in the future.

recently i had a really close friend tell me that she had liposuction about a year ago. she hadn't told anyone about it, but she was starting to shift some of her thinking around her experience, and she shared her experience with me. before i continue, let me set the scene: this is a young, beautiful, athletic woman. my sister once commented on a photo of this young woman saying something like "wow, she's beautiful! is she your friend??" additionally, she's in a loving relationship.

but, she suffers from some insecurities. before her surgery, her thinking patterns were telling her "you don't look good enough; the easiest way to change this is through a surgery." after the surgery however, she has come to realize that she took what she thought was the easiest option to make herself feel happier. it didn't work. because the option she chose wasn't the easy option. it wasn't the better option. it just seemed that way at the time.

in gabby bernstein's 40-day guidebook "may cause miracles", she says:
our fear-based minds believe that change is tough and self-reflective work is difficult. but let's face it: being consumed by fear is far more difficult than showing up for love--we're just tricked into thinking fear is "easier" because it's more familiar. when people at my lectures complain that change takes too much time and energy, my response is, "it takes a lot of time and energy to feel like crap, right?"
this excerpt reminded me of something one of my favorite yoga teachers, christina sell, said at a workshop once. she was talking about a relationship of hers. she said that she was thinking of ditching the relationship because she thought it would be easier than working through all of the hard stuff in the relationship. she received some advice from one of her teachers that said something to the effect of "think of how hard and painful it will be to end this relationship."

no option is ever really and truly easy. but for some reason we trick ourselves into thinking that the fearful responses are easier. personally, i love to avoid things. my go-to move when something sounds difficult or time-consuming is to simply distract myself with something else. i don't know what i expect to happen: that the situation will just sort itself out? that someone else will take care of it? that a magician will appear with a wand to make it disappear? secretly, yeah, i guess i'm constantly keeping my fingers crossed for my fairy godmother to appear.

but, since, let's face it, that isn't an entirely realistic option, i've started to do some work to address this fearful thinking. as i've started doing this work, i've discovered it's much easier than i expected it to be. i've been addressing things that i haven't addressed in over a year: contacting people to sort things out; being honest and open with people that i thought wouldn't accept me if i had those conversations with them.

and yeah, gabby, it DOES take a lot of energy to keep fighting myself, to put myself down, to feel judged. so why in the heck would i want to continue to do it? (umm, i don't.) those habitual responses seem easier, since i'm so accustomed to them. but they aren't necessarily easier. and they most certainly aren't better.

in the yoga class i taught tonight, we practiced identifying these options on our yoga mat. yeah, it seems easier to let the floating leg just hang out and relax. because we think "relaxing is easier than working." but really, as experienced yogis know, "a tight leg is a light leg." and then we meditated about being open to seeing different options, the non-habitual responses, in our everyday lives. if you're a yogaglo subscriber (or wanna try a free sample membership), here's a good centering meditation by elena brower to try to start to bring you in to this frame of mind.

i'm re-wiring. i don't want the anxious avoidance to be ever-present in my life. i want to choose love. i want to be there, happy and calm, to see what happens when i consistently choose love. will it be harder? will it be easier?

who cares? it will be better.