Monday, November 24, 2014

healing ourselves

i taught one of the most fulfilling classes ever tonight. the class focus was on breathing through those hard times, those uncomfortable situations, those everyday frustrations: intentions of responding to these challenges with love.

after class a few people applauded... which happens occasionally, but still, it feels kinda weird. and then a student came up to me and asked to tell me something. something in her eyes made me divert all of my attention to her.

she told me about a heavy pain that's been her body, about her struggles with doctors to treat it, about the medications she's tried, and about her resulting depressed state at nothing succeeding in easing it. i cried as she talked, feeling her sadness and frustration through her words. she talked to me for half an hour.

and then came the kicker: she said that my class healed her; that the pain in her body had lifted, and that she felt happy.

it was a beautiful heartfelt sentiment. and it really touched me.

i'm still feeling the reverberations of her conversation, actually. partly because of her amazing sincerity. and partly because i know exactly how she feels.

if you know me even a little bit, you know that i love yoga and that i think everyone can benefit from it. it's almost like you're not a real friend of mine until you've been dragged to a yoga class or been forced to be a participant in a one-on-one with me. but there's good reason for that: i love you and want you to know what i love. and why.

i truly believe we can heal ourselves: the past hurts we carry with us, the emotions that are sometimes too hard to feel, the deep-seeded fears. we can learn to let go of these things and create brighter futures.

i'm sure there are other ways of doing these things, but, to me, it's yoga. it's breathing through all that shit that we try not to acknowledge that gives us courage to breathe through the next thing.

even my graffiti choices are yoga!
and that's why i teach. a couple of days ago a friend asked me about how i got into yoga and why i teach it. i went through the chronology of it. but for sure i would've quit it by now if it wasn't for the healing: both what i get and what i see in the lives of others. i've had a few friends tell me that they are thankful for the yoga i've brought into their lives.

i'm deeply humbled when i hear that. but really, like i told the woman in class tonight: you're doing the work. that work can be really hard. and the choice to continue to do it can be just as hard.

but the benefits?
way more worth it.
go heal yourself.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

retreating to my mermaid cave

i do a lot. and then i do a lot more. i spend most evenings outside of my home; meeting friends, going to yoga classes, working out, having drinks, going to museums... anything that pops up and looks interesting. but it can also be super taxing emotionally and physically--and then i need time and space to recover.

and i think all of my best friends are a bit like that as well: i tend to be drawn to people who aren't afraid to try new things, and to do it at the drop of a pin... but i'm also attracted to sensitive people who actually need their own self-care time.

butttttt... i ignore that i need the down time. if someone says at 7pm, "hey; what're you doing? wanna have a quick drink?" i think, "umm, actually, no. i'm super tired; i need to get up at 6am." but what i say is, "yeah, sure! see you in... 20?"

wednesday night bal and i went to see the coffee ground reader. while he was reading my grounds, he said to me, "you're a mermaid. you need more mermaid time; you need to spend more time in your cave."

and bal started cracking. the fuck. UP. it's true. and most of my friends know it's true. i push myself a little too much sometimes. like last night. i had a friend last minute ask for a catch-up.

i thought, "i'm exhausted!"

i said "i'd love to!"

and then i got home, started to run a bath, and thought, "what. am. i. doing. right. now. this. is. in. sane." and texted a semi-cancellation: i asked to change plans slightly to something more low-key. ok, so i didn't fully get mermaid time, but it's a step in the right direction!

this morning in yoga SJ taught a theme of knowing when to step back. oh, synchronicity, how i love you.

there are so many areas of our lives where we need to know when to step back. but there are equally as many when we need to know when to jump off the cliff. i've been doing a lot of jumping lately. i feel nervous about most of the things happening in my life in the last month and the next two months. going to uluru with some girls i don't know? wearing my heart on my sleeve all the time instead of only very rarely? going to NZ with a lovely girl i met once? leading big team meetings with important researchers? risking comfort and security to move across the world (again)?

yeah. jumping.
and, luckily, mostly flying.

it's so hard to know when to keep leaping and when to pull back. but we all need that balance; we all need to continually search for that space where we are making decisions from our heart, and feeling at peace with ourselves and our choices.

so, in other words, if i text you a cancellation, beg for a re-schedule, or just don't make a plan with you right away, please forgive me; right now i'm needing my mermaid time.

but that doesn't mean i don't love you. just spending a little time loving myself up. {insert dirty joke here}

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

pride without prejudice

last week i received funding for research that we had applied for. it was one of the most amazing things i've experienced: it was the first time i successfully planned and coordinated a project to be put up for such a competitive grant scheme.

all day i freaked out. i jumped around like crazy for a while; i called all the people involved; i tried to pick up my coffee a little later, but my hands were still shaking. the excitement just wouldn't die down. and kitty and hayden planned a little celebration party for that evening.

it wasn't until later that afternoon, after i yoga-ed it up (and calmed myself down), that i realized what felt so different: i was proud of myself.

i was proud of myself, and it felt weird; i was not used to that feeling.

when kitty arrived to escort me to drinks, i mentioned to her that we should be having the party simply for the fact that i felt proud of myself. it was that big of a deal.

i reflected on that over the past weekend while at uluru (formerly ayers rock for the americans in the audience--that big red rock in the middle of australia).

it isn't that i haven't accomplished great things; it isn't even that i can't recognize it per se. i think it's more that i feel embarrassed to feel pride, like it's an ego thing.

jane austen, in pride and prejudice, says: "Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."

being at uluru, dwarfed in its size and spirituality, humbled me enough to let me figure that out. and then it made me sad: why can't we feel prideful of everything we do?

there's something hard for us to deal with every week; every day is hard for some of us. and you know what? we keep going. we make it through. sure, it doesn't always feel amazeaballs... but that's ok.

i'm proud of kitty for trying a new way of eating. i'm proud of hayden for making it through this next grant submission with me today. i'm proud of NK for each urge she gets past. i'm proud of SM for feeling both the highs and the lows. i'm proud of sister for braving her way through sleepless nights.

i'm proud of all the steps, all the choices, all the work each of us do every single day.

and i'm proud of myself.

strange that that's so hard to say. but i'm also proud of myself for doing the work to get to a space that i can say that.

yesterday i listened to the most current episode of this american life; in part 2, they discuss the possibility of time travel, and what people would do if they could time travel. so many people wanted to go back and fix things--either in their personal lives or in history. but, interestingly enough, the people with the most life experience (the elderly), didn't want to time travel.

i agree. i don't want to go back and teach myself things. i don't want to go back and fix mistakes. i agree with the conclusion: "i'm traveling into the future. at 60 minutes/hour. and maybe that's how we fix things."

each step. each choice. each little bit of work. it all counts. it all builds. it makes us what we are. and that's something we should be proud of.

Monday, November 3, 2014

accepting anger. and the rest.

growing up, my home was a super comforting place to be. if my sister or i ever got in trouble, we never heard screaming. maybe we were sent to a bedroom for a little while; maybe our already limited-television watching was further limited; or maybe we were told the way we had acted was "disappointing." i would know when my parents were angry with me, but i never saw the anger: i never witnessed what true anger looked like.

i saw this model and chose to take this into adulthood. if i'm mad at you, you probably won't know it. eventually, when i can't handle it eating me up inside anymore, i'll have a discussion with you. ...and that's progress, folks! i used to hold it in for, well, forever.

i was in a bathroom this weekend where the entire insides of the room were covered in tags, including the mirror. it looked gorgeous, and i snapped a photo of myself in there. but when i looked back at it later, i felt a little sad, a little uncomfortable. seeing myself in that mirror that was covered in other people's tags felt like a metaphor for all of this. avoiding seeing where i am or what i need; allowing other people's needs to come first; minimizing the self; feelings EVERYWHERE.... you can go on and on with interpretations.

i'm practicing getting to those uncomfortable conversations sooner. i'm practicing avoiding the avoidance. but those big feelings are super scary for me to feel.

after announcing to my work that i'm leaving my current position, my supervisors here haven't been overly supportive. the emails i now receive daily are not fun to read. i have strategies: avoid opening, forward to a friend, call friend and see how bad it is, forward to a student, get student to draft reply, review reply, send reply. --yeah, that happened last night/this morning; i still haven't read that last email i replied to. it's that scary for me.

that's pretty hard core avoidance of feeling anger. i'm much better at dealing with it in personal relationships than in work relationships. but i still tend to go to avoidance first.

so when i see people get angry, i'm actually pretty impressed. well, let me rephrase that. when i see people get angry for a good reason, i'm impressed.

to my friend getting pissed off at her ED: you're fucking working through it. that's hard work.

to my friend getting pissed off at his depression: you're fucking working through it. that's hard work.

to my friend constantly pissed off at her anxiety: you're fucking working through it. that's hard work.

anger can be a useful tool. it's like that inner voice telling you "something isn't balanced here; let's do something about it. let's process. let's talk. let's get it out."

so anyway, this was mainly for NK today--don't judge that anger, that sadness. keep feeling. take each feeling and wrap it up in a blanket of acceptance. accept that feeling for what it is. and then allow it to pass. i'm super proud of you.