I Fuc$ing HATE Him (and how that does not serve me). The Solution.

I have been seething lately. Like screaming at news radio in my car crazy pissed seething. I keep telling myself not to watch the news. Not to listen to it in my car. Or at least take a break. Gather enough information to be informed, but stop at the point where I’m just doing it to fan the flames of my hatred. But I’m like a moth to a flame with it. It’s like House of Cards playing out in real time but with our actual lives at stake. It’s as if I feel like without my fully committed outrage, I am somehow disengaged. I am afraid of this ever feeling normal.

Have you been feeling this way too? Beyond outraged? Anxious? Depressed? And, somehow, these feeble words barely scratch the surface of the assaultive nature of what feels like an enduring day after day trauma. For many of us, the presidency of he-who-shall-not-be-named has turned our entire belief system upside down and on its head. All the lessons we have been teaching our kids about kindness and how the bully will never win in the end were just given the middle finger. Basic notions of “good will prevail” seem fairy tale at best. I know that I cannot sustain this level of outrage, this deep, searing resentment at this so-called (to use his words) president and his appointments who blatantly mock social justice, compassion and kindness.

I need a tool. I need to process. Otherwise I am doomed. Truly. I cannot afford to mire in this.

Yes, outrage and anger is important. Motivating. Sparks change. But for those of us who are deeply feeling (and isn’t that most of us?) creatures, we cannot linger in the resentment for too long.

And let’s call it what it is. HATE.

 
 

 

I am feeling SO MUCH HATRED. More than I think I have ever felt in my life. I will never, ever give this bigot and his posse of heinousness a chance. I will not give a man who casually feels entitled to assault women and demean people for their differences the benefit of the doubt. I listened to Maya Angelou when she told us, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I am a teacher of yoga, mindfulness, ultimately compassion, but I am consumed with the most non-yogic like thoughts about the assembly of bigots in the White House.

In my former career as a criminal defense attorney, I zealously defended the indefensible at times, feeling deep compassion for them and the reasons and circumstances behind their choices, and, yet, now I have zero compassion for this crew of backasswardness in Washington. I can try feel compassion for the spoiled, entitled little boy who was never properly loved or taught to love himself and others. But he does NOT GET TO BE MY PRESIDENT.

I cannot afford this hate. I am an addict. Clean and sober nearly twenty years. And this hatred feels as dooming as a lethal dose.

I must choose love. LOVE. Even the word feels like a sigh of relief.

But how?

By processing these resentments, writing about them, asking for them to be removed, and finding a spiritual solution. That’s how.

A solution. While miring in what feels like fairly justified pissed-offedness can be comfortable, it’s unsustainable and toxic. I am so uncomfortable carrying this load of hatred.

Sound complicated? It’s not. There’s a formula, and it goes like this.

1.     Write the fears (or hatred, resentments) down. All of them. Don’t make it pretty or publishable or anything. Just do it.

2.     Then write the following: “Dear God (or Universe, Mother Earth, Anyone, or simply ask Please). May these fears be removed, so that I can move with love and faith and be of the greatest service to myself and others.

3.     Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. And say, “Thank you.”

 

It will look something like this.

1.     I f-ing hate DJT so much. I hate his cabinet. I hate his bigotry and entitlement. I hate his orange face. I hate that his ex-wives are muzzled and won’t speak up with what I can only imagine would be the most damning of evidence. I am scared he is going to start a world war and millions of innocent lives will be lost, including my daughters and my friends and family and everyone I have ever cared about. I am so scared and sad at the families who are being torn apart right at this very moment by his selfishness and idiocy. I am scared we are going to have the most heinous Supreme Court that will strip us of the rights that were so long fought. I’m scared he is somehow going to repeal the Constitution. I am scared the hatred I feel is making me the crankiest mom in the world and that I am poisoning my kids with my bitchy moods. I am scared that teaching yoga is not enough and that my calling is greater and that I am not sure anymore exactly what it is but I need to figure it out because I’m not getting any younger and speaking of that, I scared my mom’s health is getting worse… and so on.

See? Go big. Go small. Get it all out.

2.     God, or whoever, I ask that these fears and resentments be removed so that I can be of greatest service to myself and others, so that I can walk with love.

3.     Closed eyes. Deep breath. Thank you.

 

Do it. Every morning perhaps. Or at a pivotal moment. You can write it. You can think it. Just put it to words. Then meet a friend. TURN OFF THE NEWS. Do yoga. Go outside. Join some action efforts. Make political phone calls. Take a hike. Hug your people. And then choose love.

Over and over and over. Choose love.

(and then get out there and kick ass at exactly what you want to do)

 
 

The Unwritten (now written) Rules of Yoga Etiquette

1. Start your practice on the drive (or bike, bus, subway) on the way to class. Have you ever been driving to yoga like an asshole just to get there in time? Heart rate and blood pressure elevated because you’re late? The cars around you not driving the way you think they should? How about when you are looking for somewhere to park? So many classes are so packed that scoring that parking spot can be a bitter battle. But does that serve you? Begin first by noticing if any of the above is happening. And, if it is, laugh at yourself. Find your breath and notice it. Even count it. Let someone cut in front of you without letting it get the best of you. Remind yourself that yoga is more than just asana and that the breath and attitude you bring on your journey to class it part of the practice.

 

2. Be cool to the front desk. Especially if you’re late. Yes, it is their job to facilitate you checking in with kindness. So be cool in return. Learn their names. Take that moment to say hi. For many of us teachers, we strive to create community in our classes and studios.  After all, isn’t yoga ultimately about union and connection? I love when I see my students interacting with the front desk in a kind way. We are watching!

 

3. If you are an early bird. First of all, high five! If you managed to get to class early and create your spot, well done! But keep in mind, someone may not be as organized, or their boss kept them over, or their babysitter was late. As the room fills, you may need to adjust your spot. Make a decision not to get annoyed by that. It’s a choice. As your teacher, we so appreciate it.

 

4. Say hi to your neighbor. Introduce yourself. Nothing makes me happier as a teacher than when I cannot stop you guys from chatting in a friendly way before your class. Let’s work together to create connection and community in our classes. Your best friend may be practicing right next to you and you won’t know unless you say hi!

 

5. If you are late. Please no dramatic entrances. If the class has started, just quietly stand in the back until the opening is over or the teacher gives you an indication to come in. We get it. We have all been late. But do your best to ease in respectfully and definitely kindly say thanks to anyone who is cool enough to make space for you. Asteya, non stealing, is part of yoga, so remain mindful of not stealing the vibe the teacher and students have already started creating.

 

6. Save the singing for the shower. Or car. I LOVE music. Making playlists for my class is like making a mixed tape for a first love back in high school. And I really, really love if you love my music. However, we don’t all need to hear you sing, as beautiful (or not) as your voice may be. It distracts other students. Unless the teacher offers up a sing along (it happens on the fly every now and then), save it for the drive home.

 

7. Silence your damn phone and don’t even think about texting. And guess what? Vibrate is not off!!! If your phone makes a sound, it can take the entire room out of savasana. Even better, just leave the phone outside. That said, we all mess up. My mom once called (I forgot to go on airplane mode) and the phone rang through the speakers during our meditation. So when you mess up, as we all do, make as little deal out of it as possible, apologize and turn the damn thing off.

 

7. Wipe your sweat. PLEASE. Especially if you drip on your neighbor’s mat as you rock a stealth Warrior III or flip your dog over to their mat. It happens, and it’s fine. But it is definitely not fine if you don’t wipe it up. Use the manners your mama taught you.

 

8. Don’t impress us with your ujayii. Yes, your breath should be audible. But not to everyone. Only to you and maybe the people closest to you. Definitely not to the people on the other side of the room. You may not know. So now you do. Also, begin to notice if you favor the exhales or the inhales, and strive for balance between the two. Equanimity, after all.

 

9. Do the offered sequence. As best you can. As teachers, we for sure want you to modify to take care of yourselves, take breaks, rest in child’s pose. But please don’t go totally off grid and do your own thing. It is very confusing to other students, not to mention potentially injurious if your body is going one way and the rest of us are going the other. And check yourself. Do you really need fifty extra chaturangas or a handstand when the rest of us are in Warrior II? It is ego driving you or something else? Believe me, I have had days where my mind will not quiet without a fiery flow. But we teachers (most of us anyway) put love and thought into our sequences, and they are designed to set you up for success, warm your body up intelligently. Listen to the teacher. If she green lights doing your own thing (which I often do during a strong flow), by all means, but otherwise, do the best to, yet again, remember yoga is about balance and that you are part of a community when you show up. And if you absolutely can’t help yourself, go in the back row.

 

10. For god’s sake DO NOT SKIP SAVASANA. No one in that room, including you, believes you are the one person so busy and so important that you cannot lie still for a few minutes. I get it can be super challenging for some of us. Being still and doing what appears to be nothing, may be the most important thing you do that day. And if you have to leave early, tell the teacher before class, practice near the back if possible, and leave yourself at least a couple of minutes to do savasana before you go.

 

11. Please put your props away. Put. Not toss, throw, or leave in the middle of the room. Enough said.

 

12. Be you. Smile. Laugh. Cry. We want to create a space for you to have the most divine experience as possible. We love when you bring your authentic self to the practice.

 

13. Talk to us! Introduce yourself. We want to know you and know your name. If you have a pose you are dying to learn or a question or anything at all, we want to hear about it. And remember, there is so much choice out there. So don’t dismiss yoga because of one class or one teacher. If one teacher or class has turned you off to yoga, try someone else. You will find your teacher.

 

* Total bonus most important one of all… TAKE IT OFF THE MAT!!! Now more than ever, we need more kindness, more breath, more connection, more tolerance. All of these are encompassed by yoga. So we never need to confine our practice to the four corners of a mat. So let’s pick up our gazes, connect more, speak up, love wildly, and bring all of the lessons off the mat and into the world we share!

 

Stay Curious

I often hear “How did you find your passion?” or “When did you know you were meant to be a yoga teacher?”  First of all, I am not sure I was seeking it as much as simply in a state of curiosity and openness.  

Many of you know me as former real estate marketer...turned copier sales gal...turned Habitat for Humanity fundraiser...turned pharmaceutical sales rep. And many of you only know me as Yoga Teacher/Life Coach.  

I ended up signing up for teacher training because I was excited to learn more about yoga; I had NO intentions of teaching, or flipping my lifestyle upside down with a 180 degree career move.

But my world was rocked the very first time I stood in front of the room for a practice teach session. I thought “uh oh.” It felt like a non-negotiable deal had been made with the universe and it was clear as day that teaching yoga was something I HAD to do. I had an uncontrollable bee in my bonnet!

my soul sister Steph and goddess like guru yoga teacher Kia Miller

my soul sister Steph and goddess like guru yoga teacher Kia Miller

6 months after my 200 hour teacher training graduation, I sat at the kitchen table with my husband mapping out our official plan to make “The Transition.” We agreed we would need to save $x over a year's time in order to make the smooth transition from pharma sales to yoga teacher.

Literally one week later I learned that my company would being going through layoffs. I was actually crushed when I found out I wasn’t “chosen.”

One week after that, and to my delight, our president offered a voluntary severance for those that may be leaving within a year so others could keep their role. With both hands raised loud and proud, I took the severance.  

It was exactly the same number we had planned on saving. The Universe followed through on her end of the deal.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says, (school report style! ha!) “Curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming, and more democratic entity. The stakes of curiosity are also far lower than the stakes of passion. Passion makes your get divorced and sell all your possessions and shave your head and move to Nepal. Curiosity doesn’t ask nearly so much of you. In, fact, curiosity only ever asks one question: Is there anything you are interested in?”

Moral of the story is: curiosity lead me to yoga, then to teacher training, and ultimately to my passion. I found that once passion shows up it will continue to guide and lead you if you let it.
 

You are just like a 5 year old

Shinetribe! Hi!

Happiest of Holidays!!!  If you know me well you know I am a sucker for anything holiday, from Mariah, to all the presents, to as many sequins as possible, to Buddy the Elf, and too much sugar!  It brings out the child in me in every way, which I believe is the best way to live throughout the entire year.

One of the best gifts I received this month was from my yoga teacher, Patti, when she said to me at the end of class, “You are just like a 5 year old!”. At first I was taken aback but quickly, I fully received it as the compliment that it was.  She explained that she loved my enthusiasm, curiosity and uninhabited nature.
And so, it has been my intention to continue to live with that child-like spirit throughout the holidays with the hopes that it is contagious!

I fully believe and teach that our process is about an undoing versus a doing.  A return to our Selves by removing whatever it is that holds us back. And in celebration of the winter solstice it is the perfect time to look at our darkside, whether it be fear, shame, doubt, etc., with the intention to understand our ‘dark’, so that we can accept it, move through it and un-do.

I treat the new year as an accountant would in March, it is my busy season and I am open for business so we can collectively un-do, be our true selves, all while laughing all the way.

Practice these to be 7 again:

  1. Be in wonder. The fake snow at The Grove. The foam on your latte. Your bffs quirky smile.
  2. Let your excitement out. An unexpected gift. An miraculous parking spot.
  3. Greet your humans more enthusiastically. Bigger hugs. More eye contact.
  4. Cry when you want to cry. Let it out.
  5. Be silly. Tickle fight anyone?
  6. React with humor when you normally would not have.
  7. Get back up + brush yourself off faster. Figuratively too.
  8. Skip. Triple dare you.
  9. Eat a grilled cheese sandwich. Or three.
  10. Play outside. Throw the football. Ride your bike. Freeze Tag.

P#ssy Grabbing

Years ago, my husband called to say he was going to be late to my I-got-a-new-job-and-we-are-all-going-out-to-celebrate happy hour. He explained had been busy chasing a p*ssy grabber.

Brian was in grad school at USC at the time.  With computer and man bag in hand he walked the same mile to his car to start the routine commute home. He noticed a sketchy character on his bike seemingly stalking a college girl walking about a half a block in front of him.  High alert and heart racing, Brian watched as said sketchball reached up said college girls skirt and grabbed her p*ssy.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Brian threw his precious cargo to the ground and started chasing sketchy mcsketcherson, who let me remind you, is on a bike. We knew over a decade of track meets and endless miles would pay off. Luckily USC is peppered with hunky frat boys and Brian met eyes with one and screamed “Stop him!!!”.  A beefy Sigma Chi loves a do gooder task like this.  So he pummeled sketchboy into a stop sign which was the end of the life of the bike and the beginning of the foot chase.

Running throughout the streets of LA, now beginning to tire, Brian screamed for the neighbors to call 911. He continued to chase stupidsketchyguy and in the end sketchboy, who, yes it is so complicated yet we must remember, probably didn’t have any positive role models or much love growing up, was arrested.  Our prayer is that he never assaulted another woman again.

So, this, my shiny friends, is what I wish for all of us.  I wish that when circumstances out of our control come up we have done the work to have the strong conviction to know what is right and what is wrong, how to stand up for what we believe in and to do so with grace, kindness and compassion.

So what if we all took a beat to feel, think and sense what we believe in, what we know is right and what is wrong deep down. Or maybe we already know what we believe in, what if we stopped to take the time to know what the next best thing to do is how to act mindfully and powerfully to support our beliefs?

I am exploring what I know and believe and how to live that out loud.  I am learning it is my job to hold space and how important that is and how to fully show up for that. To speak up when I hear a cat call. To encourage my friend to vote even if I am scared she will roll her eyes at me. To really listen without judgement (so freaking hard, ps).

THIS is how we can change the world for the better, this is how we can be a positive force and to stand up for what we believe in, by knowing what we believe in in the first place and how to be in action around those beliefs.  

Only then can we act in alignment from a place of power and truly serve. We can do it in our own backyards when something like this happens or through government or non profits or through a smile or the way we raise our children or through our job or our energy.

One thing I know for sure is that we do have all the answers within AND it takes pausing (maybe longer than we like) to create the space to remember the answers.

 

So. Here are some fun (well I think this kind of stuff is fun) questions to get us started:

  1. What are three things you know for sure?
  2. What do you believe is the meaning of your life?
  3. How can you and how do you positively impact our world?
  4. Top 3 core values?
  5. What legacy do you want to leave behind moment to moment?
  6. What breaks your heart?
  7. Who is your greatest role model? Who do you admire?

I also know that if we continue to do the work, to reflect more, love harder, fight the judgements, stay uncomfortably open, all the p#ssy grabbing, racism, sexism, bigotry and so on and so forth would be eliminated.

 

Sh$t Storm Strategies

This yogi’s five strategies to moving through a sh$t storm. Political or otherwise

This past election cycle and the ensuing results have been cause for discord, division and unrest, regardless of political position. Many of us have had our core feelings and belief systems in the world and humanity deeply shaken. While we may want (and need) to pull the covers for a few days, when we ultimately rise, what are our strategies to move through this with as much grace and wisdom as possible?

  1. Feel all the feelings. All of them. For as long as you need to. Don’t let anyone tell you when your time to feel and/or grieve is over. There is no right or wrong way to move through grief and sadness. But we can all agree that the only way out is through. If the feelings are frightening, scary, ugly, whatever – feel them all, without avoidance.
  2. Journal/Process. Pick up a pen and old school style, write it all down. All the feelings, the fears, the sadness, the madness, the frustration. Once it’s all written down, pause. Take a moment and then pick the pen back up and write this: “I ask that all of these fears and resentments be removed so that I can be of greatest service to myself, my family, my community, humankind.” Or something like that that feels authentic to you.
  3. Music. Play a super sad or motivating song REALLY LOUD and dance and scream it at the top of your lungs – in your car, in your living room, on headphones on a run. Anywhere. Never underestimate the power of music to help you move through the feelings.
  4. Stop looking at your device. Turn off the news and get outside. Absolutely stay informed, but don’t obsess. Take a run. Go to your favorite yoga class. Even better, get into nature and take a hike. This beautiful world is continuing to spin, so take some time to breathe in some beauty and take some deep breaths.
  5. Make your own personal action plan. This step is key. We don’t just get upset, process through all of the feelings, only to go back to business as usual. Be mindful and do the self study necessary to create your own personal, authentic action plan. Be of service. Research places you want to volunteer with or support through donation. Collaborate and strategize with others who share your point of view, or even better, those who do not to foster understanding. Bridge gaps. Have the hard conversations. Get out of your status quo comfort zone and actually be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t just post it on Instagram; actually do it. Make yourself a list of five things that YOU can do to make the world a better place. THEN DO THEM.
 
 

On Following Your Bliss

On following your bliss.

I am on my balcony in baja, delicious coffee in hand, book in my lap and ocean in my view. I can hardly concentrate on said book because I am overcome with excitement and having moments of little screamy-bursty-thingys. Our students are over the moon happy and the retreat has got some major FLOW going on. This is it. This is me on my path, blissing out in Baja, living out my dreams.

Cut to one week later, I am on a chaise lounge in South Beach, pina colada in hand, favorite person ever by my side and the ocean in my view (I know, rough life).  I am a little tipsy from the drink I wasn’t even sure I wanted.  I am feeling a little antsy and discontent. I brush it off, because, “earth to Laura you are on an amazing vacation!!!”, without a care in the world, essentially able to do whatever I want when I want. Yes, it was fun and I shared great quality time with my husband -- but all with just a hair of ‘meh’.

It was a wake up call in the name of purpose and bliss. I took two back to back trips. The first, I was working and majorly responsible for 25 lovely beings. The second I was free to do whatever, whenever.  On paper, the second should have been the ‘it’ trip, way better than the first. However, Baja, will go down in the books as one of our best retreats ever and for me personally, a profound time in my life. The second, will be lumped with other ‘just okay’ trips.



So my point is bust your butt for the Bliss!  The bliss requires hard work, hustle and a huge helping of good ol ‘trust the universe’, but the reward is BLISS people!!!  Indescribable, elated, I could cry, bliss!

For me, this dose of bliss manifested in Baja while I was leading a yoga retreat. For you, it might be having your art showcased somewhere special or holding your baby for the first time or saving the elephants in Thailand.  

Maybe you have no clue what your bliss is or is meant to be. I didn’t. I just followed little clue after little clue and a redirect here and being curious about that until BOOM! It was clear. A part of my bliss is leading retreats in spectacular  places with even more spectacular people by my side.

My bliss is not in going to Florida and drinking on the beach. And that’s okay. I am learning to lean more and more into the shiny, lights-me-up stuff and letting go of the oftentimes more acceptable or simply habitual ways of spending time.
Let’s all stop settling for the metaphorical half melted 700 calorie pina colada and get ourselves some screamy-bursty-thingys. One thing. Towards your bliss. Go. Now.

Worst Dream Ever

I had the worst dream ever last night. The kind that you wake up from sobbing and gasping for air. The kind that when you wake up you are beyond grateful that your subconscious just totally fucked you over and that you are lying in your bed, surrounded by family, everyone safe and sound. The kind that forces you to get out of bed, check on everyone, go to the bathroom, drink water, completely waking yourself up to ensure you do not fall back into the grips of the nightmare. Does that ever happen to you? Waking from a dream only to fall right back into it, picking up where it left off? It happens to me all too often, sometimes even picking up dreams from the night before.

Mothers have two very real deep-seated, inconsolable fears. One: that something horrible will happen to their children. And two: that something horrible will happen to them so that they can no longer mother their kids. Usually, we are thinking about something horrible, we are talking about death. If we really go there. To the deepest darkest fear.

I have studied (in a very cursory but interested way) dream analysis since high school. It first made an impact on me when describing a dream to my high school senior philosophy classmates . A dream in which a great white shark violently pushed its head through the floorboards of my room demanding to eat me. Subtle stuff. Dwight, our beloved, semi-cukoo/brilliant teacher, asked me if I might prefer discussing the dream privately, with a strong suggestion that something very sexual in nature was afoot. He did so in a way that I was not at all ashamed, but intrigued by the shifting of the subconscious to create these stories to work things out of which we may not even be even slightly aware.

So last night. I snuggled up with Luna, our ten year old, promising to sleep all night long with her, her last night before entering her first full day of fifth grade. I fully and unapologetically admit that sleeping with her is one of my life’s greatest pleasures. The snuggle factor is high, and we fit like a puzzle in a way that makes me feel like all is right in the world. She was particularly tired, so we actually turned the lights out before nine and both quickly fell asleep.

 

In the dream, Luna, Dylan (my thirteen year old daughter) and I were old driving in a large SUV-like car. Somehow we were all in the way back and the car was working on some kind of navigation system. Then the super shittiness began. I was wasted. Or unable to control the car. I wasn’t actively drinking or using anything in the dream, but I was definitely altered and worried about being able to control the car. From the back seat. My awake reality is that I am almost twenty years clean and sober so this is already a nightmare because I had already somehow fucked all that up. 

Cut to dream analysis 101 as I understand it. The car represents me. And clearly I was out of control and jeopardizing my kids.

Then, as dreams will do, I was no longer wasted. That part was over. But I was still in the back seat and the navigation system failed. The car careened off the road, and from what I perveived, flew through the sky. 

Time. Slowed. Down. To. A. Snail’s. Pace.

As we flew through the air, as all mothers are so ridiculously good at, I began to multi-task. I screamed at the girls to check their seat belts and tighten them. I told them to brace for an impact. I TOLD THEM I LOVED THEM. I screamed it. I interlaced hands with both of them. Luna in my left. My artist. Dylan in my right. My academic. I saw that Dylan’s head was too close to the back window, so in true yoga teacher fashion, I contorted my leg to place my thigh behind her head so that her head wouldn’t smash glass on the impact.

Here’s the thing. I knew I was going to die. I thought they might. I prayed that they wouldn’t and that they would survive. But my final moments in that dream were trying to save them so that could lives their lives. Without me. Like a motherfucking punch to the gut in the deepest, most primal, painful way.

Then I woke up.

Thank god or whoever. I woke up. I’ve been shaking this dream all day. I cannot begin to analyze what it means. Them slipping through my fingers as they grow up. Me releasing control. Careening out of control into a new school year. Everything unmanageable. FEAR DRIVING THE MOTHERF$CKING CAR!!! Elizabeth Gilbert, help me!!!!

But here’s what I know. I woke up. We are alive. I will not sweat the small stuff for at least the next twenty four hours. 

Outside Your Comfort Zone

Greetings Shine Tribe (yes, that’s you)!

On the delight in the discomfort.

Ever since I have known my husband I have vehemently expressed my dislike for all things camping.  He on the other hand longs to camp, fish, backpack, and take part in really any activity you can shop for at REI.  So I made him a deal, you plan it and I will go.  Being the type B to my type A that he is, the trip never got planned.  So for his last birthday, I bit the sleeping in the woods bullet and planned the backpacking, camping, sleep outside vacation, excuse me…. trip, as his gift. And what was meant to be his gift was also mine.

You campy people out there are like, ‘well, duh’. 

Touché.

So my gift. My gift is textbook ‘the magic lies outside of your comfort zone'.  From the sweeping forest views, the smell of the the pine, the sound of the roaring river lulling me to sleep, the smelly sulfur yet mystical hot springs, to watching my husband be in his total element, to the stars brighter than ever, to the crackling and giggling that a campfire inevitably brings, to that unmatched and euphoric feeling of ‘I did it’!  It was like Christmas morning.

I hiked 22, what felt like uphill, miles, slept in a tent, fell neck deep in the freezing cold river, pooped in the woods (yes, I buried it), ate crappy yet delicious food (when else is it really okay to eat mac and cheese from the box!?!), carried 30 pounds of said crappy food all 22 miles and had a total freaking magical ball. 

So for the past 14 years I have been in my, it’s gotta be 5, well at least 4 stars, comfort zone. And I have been majorly missing out on some magic. 

I had a belief that I didn’t like camping, that it was cold and scary and too much work. And yes, it is some of those things (since I am such a seasoned camper now). But aren’t most things worth doing a little scary and some work?  Aren’t the most awe-inspiring things in life a little uncomfy at first?  

It got me wondering, where else am I missing out on the magic because of some bogus belief?  So, the Sparkler’s 2nd edition is dedicated to just that. Getting out of our comfort zones to experience the the metaphorical roaring river and sparkling sky, to the magic that life is just begging us to experience. My guess is that the more uncomfortable we are willing to get the shinier we are. So, read on and shine bright, tribemates!

My tribe. A love story.

I woke up in a mood. Feeling heavy and hopeless. Keenly aware I needed to move through it, at least to a place where I could show up and teach my morning yoga class without being the face of doom and despair. I can put on a happy face, leave my own stuff at the door. I used to be a trial lawyer, after all. My poker face is practiced and unfailing and has served me well. But I no longer want to fake it. I strive to be real, not always portray an inauthentic Instagram image of peace, perfection, and pretty poses. Today I was spent, overextended, feeling pulled in too many directions between work, home, marriage, managing my daughters’ schedules, not enough sleep, and so on. “Problems of abundance,” I scoffed to myself, all too conscious that I was not yet in a place to spin this moment, to get grateful.

This mood flew in the face of my usual cup half full, isn’t life beautiful attitude. But here it was. Undeniably sitting in the passenger seat of my car. My doom and I finished my strong cup of coffee and set out on our day.

Once I dropped my girls, 10 and 13, at their respective schools, I gave the tears that were gathering in a tight wad at the base of my throat permission to make their appearance. A mother’s learned skill, holding them in for a private moment. I considered blasting one of the saddest songs I could find, so that as I rolled down the 405 in morning traffic, I could primally cry and get it out. I have learned the lesson too many times that ignoring the feelings, putting on a happy face, and pulling up the bullshit bootstraps is a set up to make myself miserable or explode in the most inopportune moments, coming out sideways.

But then I remembered.

And then I did what I have learned, a life saving skill. I looked at my list of favorites on my phone and dialed Kendall, one of my lifelong best friends who lives several states away, the person with whom there is always a deep, soul connection whether we speak every day for weeks at a time or if we let long lapses of time go without connecting.  She and I still hold out hope that one day, even as old ladies, we will live together happily ever after. She is one of my people. One of my tribe.

She didn’t pick up. Fuck.

I persevered and called Bonnie. A soul sister about whom I could regale on and on for hundreds of pages. I know with all of my fibers that she is my person more than any man could ever be. My coach. Through births, my first broken heart, and countless escapades. A best friend with whom I traveled around the world, before email, social media, connected by the few mixed tapes we took turns with in our backpacks, hiking up and down the Himalayas and squatting on countless white sandy beaches. We have trudged too many roads to name. Bonnie. A woman who can build and create and fix things in a way at which I marvel. Just the sound of her voice calms me and puts a smile on my face.

She didn’t pick up. Fuck. Fuck.

But I charged on. Contrary action. A lifesaving skill I learned in recovery, knowing that if my mind is telling me to isolate and mire in my solitude then I MUST reach out until I find someone to hear me and reflect back what I need to see. I am acutely aware that by all outward appearances, I seem to have my shit together- fairly successful at what I set my mind to, careers, the marriage, the kids, the home. But today my heart was heavy and hopeless and I had to let it out to someone who would hold that space for me, not try to fix it, but empathize just enough and then remind me what I already knew, to get into action after wiping the tears.

So I called Laura. Equal parts spunk, smarts, soul. A tribemate nearly fifteen years my junior who has nudged, crawled and enveloped her shiny self so deeply into my heart, to the point where I am astounded we have only known each other four years. Side by side we both discovered our path, dharma, as yoga teachers. She has challenged me to learn that our greatest teachers can come in any form, any age, from any life experience. But of course she didn’t pick up her phone. She was teaching. I knew this as I often tried to call her on my jaunts down the 405, always reminding me of our overlapping teaching schedules. Laura. My partner on this path. The little sister I never had. Yet now, I do.

Determined, I called Amy. The one I’ve known the longest. The one with whom I first got drunk (then years later, sober), hatched plans to meet up with boys and then dragged along with me from junior high school in the Bay Area to boarding school in Santa Barbara. A true sister. She had an equal a hand in raising me from little girl, to brazen young woman, to who I am today.

She picked up! Hallelujah!

I cried and I told her all the things I was afraid of, the feelings that make me so human and scared and proud and terrified and beautiful at the same time.

And she listened. She listened and peppered in just enough “I feel yous” so that I felt heard and understood. And she held space for me, from her kitchen three thousand miles away, not fixing it, not even trying to. Amy. A woman with more self-awareness, savvy, and willingness to trudge through the mud than anyone I have ever known. Man, does she live her own skin. I love that.

I am all things- beautiful, wise, despairing, confused, bold, bull headed, insecure, brave, terrified, confident. And my people know this. My tribe.

When I hung up with Amy, I marveled. I marveled at how on my list of favorites alone, I have at least five women who get me. Who love me. Who challenge me. Who call me on my shit and raise my game. The ones who were there for the broken hearts, the huge successes, the birth of children and all of the moments in between.

Especially the moments in between.

My tribe. I have gathered, collected and nurtured these relationships over the course of my forty-five years, like beautiful, flawed, imperfectly perfect gems in a treasure box. I have been their safe place, the loving ear on the other end of the line when they wake up in the space I was in today. They are what make me a wealthy woman. They are what give my soul a deep sigh of relief. And, I know, beyond my children, they are my greatest accomplishment, what will have me drawing my last breath knowing I have loved.

My tribe. I glanced over at my passenger seat. Somewhere along that fifteen minute drive down the 405, doom had vacated her spot next to me, and I was left with a full heart. Puffy red eyes, but a full heart.