Every Monday I will send out a little dose of Magic!
You'll receive an email with videos, articles, quotes, links, photos or something similar! The intention is to inspire, uplift, shake up societal norms, and HAVE FUN.
Let's make 2019 the most magical year yet!
Monday, April 29th 2019
The Biggest Secret No One Tells You About Intimacy, Shame And Mind-Blowingly Magical Relationships:
And How The New Moon Can Support Your Conscious Love Revolution
Before we begin, I'd like to stress that I am not just talking about romantic relationships...I am talking about relationship with Self, with friends, with family, etc.... all the relationships. Romantic relationship is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Have you ever found yourself in a new relationship, totally swept away with the bliss of it all? When those swooshing waves of love hit you, it feels a little like being on hallucinogens (I'm just guessing here), isn't it? The trees seems greener, flowers seem to bloom just for you, the sky is bluer and clearer than before, lemon water tastes like Hi-C lemonade and you can’t help but wonder why everyone else is in such a bad mood when life is just So amazing! When you are in love, the world is your playground. You forget your worries and get plunked into la la land to be a fairy dancing with the fireflies for just a blip in time.
And then it hits you. Reality. Your subconscious inner world that simply cannot be escaped no matter how good the kissing is. Sometimes it creeps up on you like that summons to jury duty service you forgot you had or that parking ticket you never paid leaving you with anxiety and annoyance up the wazoo.
As I enter into new relationships in my life, I remember what new love feels like and how we can get so swept up in the romance of it all, that when the painful pimple of reality pops up, it paralyzes us, frustrates us and makes us feel like this whole thing called love just isn't worth it. If you are anything like me, sometimes you just want to hide and run away never to have to deal with any of it ever again.
This shows up differently for everyone of course. Yes, we are all living very different lives, but we all experience the wounds of life as they are simply inescapable (and I wouldn't want to escape them because they are all opportunities to feel, live fully and grow.)
My personal hell in life is secrecy and shame. These emotions and thoughts are only experienced in my inner world. No one would know the weight of it unless I told them and no one could possibly understand or truly feel the pain of my (and your?) internal suffering even if they tried.
This is unique to you and I, but SO universal at the same time. When shame shows up, my whole body shuts down, it's hard to breathe and I feel like i'm trapped under an avalanche of boulders.
I'm going to get really honest here. My shame is layered. I have my own theatrically woven tapestry of it. It shows up out of nowhere like a scary centipede out of the sink when you are just trying to wash your dishes (yes, this did happen to me this morning!)
Stay with me because it's about to get real.
When I was about 8 years old, I started keeping secrets. I didn't know this at the time, but my Moon sign is Cancer (check out this link if you want to learn about what the heck that even means) and Cancers and other water signs have a really hard time expressing their feelings. They feel very deeply and tend to move towards addiction (food, pot, television, drinking, you name it) and away from sharing when they feel threatened. They want to numb out and escape the intensity of it all.
I had a pretty challenging time in grade school. I was not only bullied, but also taunted, harassed and violated to the point of me wanting to escape my life and leave this planet. These experiences were all based around my looks and my body. I was what you would call 'a tomboy' at the time and I was very heavy for my stature. Not only was I usually the biggest girl in the room, I was also the roughest around the edges and the only Jewish girl in my town. The name calling was endless.
I never spoke about any of this to anyone growing up. Total secrecy. Total shame. I took everything I experienced and pushed it deep inside, where I could forget it even existed. I needed some way to soothe my secret shame, so everyday when I got home from school, I would binge eat. I filled my void with bagels or pasta or sugar. You don't want the details, trust me, but just know that I ate to the point of vomiting (unintentionally) often and ate in one day what most people eat in three. All of this was done in complete secrecy and in private when no one was home to see me. As I grew up, my disordered eating transformed into dieting, diet pill popping, restricting and eventually Anorexic behaviors.
I truly do not wish anything was different in my life. Having those experiences has brought me down the yellow brick road of self-care, nurturing and self-love in my adulthood and it's led me to have so much compassion. I finally get to feel and I get to do what I love and be fully and unapologetically who I am every single day.
However, I do feel that had I been able to share my experiences and feelings with someone else or had the knowledge to journal my feelings and get the held trauma and tension out of my body, things would have been different.
Back to falling in love. Don't worry, I am going somewhere with this.
When I find myself in an intimate relationship with someone, I start to blossom open like a precious pink rose. I feel so much elation in every cell of my body that it is like I have become spring. I am the flower. I am the earth. I am the sparkling mist!
Everything is rosy until...I get triggered.
When I get triggered by what seems to be the silliest thing (and this happens all the time as other people are often reflections of what needs healing in our subconscious), I feel myself back at age 8, silent, shut down and paralyzed. I can't share. I am not able to express and I want to get the heck out of dodge. "This isn't love!," my fear body screams to my already anxious mind.
With all the healing I (We) have done, we have to respect and be honest about the ways in which shame and secrecy still show up in our lives if we want to be in authentic relationship to ourselves and others.
It's time to step up our Self-Love game.
Deborah Silverman (my all time favorite psychotherapist astrologer), says that we have to make the unconscious (our connection to our astrological moon sign), conscious in order to heal.
Healing happens when you decide to connect to yourself (inner world and all) deeply and choose to soften the shame that comes with being human.
Bringing love and acceptance and a heaping dose of compassion works magic on bringing light to the shadow within us all.
If it seems too simple and silly and too easy to say to yourself, "I forgive you and I love you," most likely you are resisting the release. You are human and the human brain is addicted to what could go wrong. Let's not focus on that here, okay? I don't want to waste anyone's time.
Personally (this is just my experience), I needed to verbally express and free my 'shameful' thoughts. A thought like, "I am jealous of so and so because she is pretty," are so humiliating to express that it feels like I am going to die when I let them out of my mouth, but I am still here, so I guess that fear is not real!
The things I have been most embarrassed to say have been the same exact things that have given me the most emotional freedom and have cultivated the strongest connections in my partnerships.
Secrecy and shame will keep you in a victimhood state. Shame keeps you prisoner and the worst part about it is that it is an illusion. There is nothing wrong with any of us! We have no reason to feel shame. Most of us were tricked to believe that we were too weird, or gross, or loud, or big or small, or ugly or pretty, or hungry or quiet or insert-not-good-enough-or-too-much-of-thing-here by someone else who was tricked to believe the same.
It is time to reclaim your power and OWN your shame.
I need to speak my fears in order to free them, maybe you need something different. However you get there, know that releasing the shame will unshackle you from the illusion of fear and not being 'good enough.'
Releasing shame (putting words to your feelings and setting them free) expands your capacity to love yourself and others and plugs you into Source (the energy of life - the energy that grows trees and blows the breeze!)
We are all supposed to be exactly as we are. Nothing needs to change about the core of our being. We are meant to be here on this earth, shining our own special light and becoming more of ourselves everyday. That is the kind of freedom I pray for myself, my loved ones, my partners, people I don't like, villains....everyone!
The thing is that real love (self-love and all other love) is completely and utterly and gorgeously and juicily UNCONDITIONAL and freaking HARD and so WORTH IT.
There is no thought that you can have, thing you can do or have done or mistake that can be made that will make you any less worthy and lovable. This is the secret that no one tells you. The way to have incredible, mind blowing and magical relationships is to not be afraid of expressing your whole truth (shame and all). Take the power away from victimhood and plug into your worth. We are connected to the divine and this energy runs through every cell in our body in perfect symphony. You are worthy, beautiful, intelligent and magical and the world needs the gifts you are here to bring.
I feel this New Moon in Taurus has a unique spin on it's usual quiet earthy request. This is a bolder kind of Taurus moon. This moon asks us to steadily and lusciously love ourselves and the prism of who we are in mind, body and spirit. Radical Self-Loves requires that we adore the embarrassing, messy, icky, surprising, unfolding, delightfully beautiful parts of ourselves in all their awakened glory.
It takes effort to take that first baby step, to do or say the thing you least want to express, but the reward is CONNECTION and INTIMACY, fruitful and fabulous connection and intimacy beyond our wildest dreams.
MONDAY, APRIL 15 2019
Libra Full Moon // Friday, April 19th //
BORN THIS WAY: How Control Kills The Soul & Why You Need To Love Yourself Now
Lady Gaga, I bow to you.
About 7 years ago, I woke up one Sunday around 2PM. I was exhausted, wheezing, I couldn't breathe very well and my entire body ached like I had been run over by an eight-wheeler at a Monster Truck Rally. I honestly thought I was dying (and the truth is, I was.)
I couldn't wrap my head around what was going on with my body because I was 'sooo healthy and fit!'
I drank a green smoothie every morning, I worked out 6 days a week, I had infinite energy to give and give and give the world around me! How could I possibly be so sick!?
I had no choice but to begrudgingly make a trip to the doctor's office; my least favorite place, right behind dentist's office, on the face of this earth.
Fast forward to the diagnosis.
It was pneumonia. I also had a sprained SI joint (basically my hips and spinal column were inflamed beyond health) and lots of spurring in my spine. The doctor more or less demanded I stop teaching group exercise classes and I was devastated.
I am not here trying to get any sort of consolation or pity party or a tiny violin playing just for me, I mean, it was seven years ago! I am here to stress what's it like to be out of balance for so long, running on empty for so long, burning the candle at both ends, and for some of us, obsessing about our health to the point of physical, mental and emotional breakdown.
I was exercising too much. I was not eating enough of the right foods for my specific body. I was controlling my calorie intake and omitting almost all fats and carbohydrates. I was completely ignoring all requests from my body to slow the F down and rest. I badly needed a break from physical activity and all the doing. I had Orthorexia (look it up) which led me to Anorexia, which led to a cascading of physical and emotional break downs for years to come.
Even after I spent months bedridden, healing from illness, I still didn't get it.
It took about 3 years for me to even acknowledge that I was controlling my body and my life by restricting and resisting surrender. I was so eager to please the world around me, that I would do ANYTHING to mold myself into the version I believed society wanted. I slowly chipped away at my foundation, the core of my being, my authenticity and integrity, to please other people.
Here's the kicker. No. One. Even. Noticed.
What I mean by that is that where I had believed everyone was paying so much attention to me, where I'd believed I had to be a certain body type to be loved and where I had given up on ME never actually shifted whether or not other people loved me once I got well.
In fact, once I admitted I had been controlling my body to the point of hitting rock bottom, I was seen, loved and celebrated in a way I'd never experienced before. Or rather, I had never allowed myself to be so seen and so celebrated.
Being vulnerable, being MYSELF ( in every fucking way ) gave me the gift of FREEDOM.
When you give parts of yourself away to others ( and I am not talking about the energy of love - I am talking about the core of your being ), your soul dies a slow and painful death.
This Libra Full Moon reminds me of not only how far I've come in my Self-Love journey, but why I do what I do and share the way I do.
Because there is freedom, aliveness and joy on the other side of shame and resistance.
The Libra Moon calls for beauty and balance. Let's not get confused about that word 'beauty.'
Beauty is in every little 'imperfection' we think we have. Beauty is in the honesty of your word. Beauty is found in every tear, skin fold, pimple and scar. It is in how we interact with love, care for ourselves and empower and embrace others by the smallest gesture. Beauty is inherent in all of us. It is the perfection of our being that gives us so much magic. This kind of authentic beauty I speak of cannot be contorted, bent or controlled by our will. Instead, it's the blossoming that happens when we let go of the death grip we have on 'being' how we 'think' we should be (and sometimes this is more subtle and sneaky than we realize.) It's the same kind of beauty that exists in the divine, in nature, in the dew drop on a flower. It is a birthright and it is infinite.
We are all so much more incredible than we realize. There is potential and magnificence in our every breath and on this Full Moon in Libra, I won't let you forget it.
If there was every a time to surrender from the ways in which we are controlled the unfolding brilliance of our soul's journey, it would be right in this moment.
Join me for an exploration on Unconditional Love, Tarot & Yoga for the Full Moon in Libra. This is going to be a good one. Register here through PayPal or learn more below.
To love. To perfection in divinity (that's you, honey bunny.)
Baby, Your Were Born This Way.
There Is So Much Magic In The Unknown
MY JAMAICA SOUL REVIVAL LESSON ON TRUST
Jamaica Soul Revival was absolutely everything I'd hoped for and so much more. It was an adventure, a surrendering to something completely new, a cosmic alignment, a challenge in dedication to our higher selves and what felt like a portal opening to the potentiality that lives within us all.
There is something about being on a yoga retreat in a place mostly untouched by the hands of big business and capitalism that almost allows you to feel your Central Nervous System finally take a deep breath and reset. There is something about being in a place that completely bathes you in its nature and its inherent purity that you can't help but be healed.
There is something about being in a place that isn't quite understood by the world around it, a place with such deeply touching generosity and kindness, that it allows one to let go of resistance and peel back the protective curtains of the heart in ways that can only be felt to be understood.
That was Jamaica for this Soul Revival Tribe.
Going to Jamaica was like stepping into a world I never really knew existed. I went in thinking I was going to teach yoga, play in the waves, eat fresh fruit, connect with a beautiful group of humans and get in touch with nature, but I left with something I could have never prepared myself for; a new level of trust and the ability to love the world around me even more deeply.
It sounds too good to be true and a little too obvious, but I truly had a Soul Revival.
That is the magic of stepping into the unknown and having the trust and the faith to peek outside of your comfort zone.
We underwent deep personal growth, spiritual shifts, shedding of hurts and old patterns we had arrived with. I know that we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable with one another. We allowed ourselves to be seen and because of that, we cultivated incredibly authentic and meaningful connections.
We became a family. We were purified with the power of the ocean and the oh so cleansing quality of the Full Moon that we danced and sang under. I know we became even more of who were already are, without the layers of toxicity we all carry just from being humans on earth. This trip was meaningful for me on so many levels.
Our journey to Jamaica and the magical souls that gathered helped me remember why I do what I do. It helped me remember the ways in which Mother Nature changes you. You don't have to 'do' anything to receive this medicine. You don't have to force or take what you need from the water, the earth and the sky, it just arrives and does its thing.
The earth is our home and a reflection of ourselves. How you treat yourself and the people around you, how you treat the earth and how you respect your environment and community is all intrinsically intertwined and connected.
I believe that on this trip we all fell in love. We fell in love with each other, we fell in love with ourselves, we fell in love with the hearts of the Jamaican people, the planet and life itself.
Upon coming home, I am reminded to lead my life with purpose. I am reminded to continue fanning the flames of my love for the Moon, the Sun, the stars, this earth, everything on it, under it and in between. I am reminded that in order to find the magic in the unknown, I must trust.
It's easier said than done, but a true commitment to taking those baby steps into trusting what is on the other side of fear is the path to freedom.
HOW TO TRUST YOUR GUT AND BE YOUR OWN PSYCHIC
today I'd like to talk to you about intuition. That little voice or feeling or sense or sight inside you that course corrects you on your path, protects you from harm and wants the absolute highest and best for your Soul's evolution.
Yesterday, I was driving to take a workshop with the phenomenal, Jaqui Bonwell,when I got this sense.
I was driving down route 93 at 60 mph behind a truck with an open bed, full of furniture that was wrapped in ropes and bungee cords. I'd been driving behind this truck for about 5 minutes, when all of a sudden, without any obvious need, I decided I had to get in the left hand lane. There wasn't actually any thinking involved, I just veered as though I was being guided by someone or something.Just as I shifted to my left, the bungees on the truck broke and a storm of wooden furniture flew out of the back of the truck all over the highway.There was no accident, no one got hurt (that I saw) and I just barely beat what could have been a horrendous experience.
There was no reason for me to pull into the left lane seconds before the explosion of furniture smashed across the highway. No big signs or calls or evidence alerted me to change direction. I just had a sense of something and without hesitation, chose to follow.
Intuition is not fear based. We cannot walk around the world with all our barriers, protection and walls up. We won't get very far doing that. We cannot flee harm by playing it safe and small and choosing to control every aspect of our lives.
Living through fear of what is on the other side of the unknown is a great way to stay stuck and continue to circle around the same lessons over and over and over.I have learned to recognize that playing it safe is more exhausting and detrimental to the human condition than most things in the world. Keeping ourselves locked in our own cages of mistrust, mental torment and unworthiness won't get us anywhere. We are after all, creating the world around us with our thoughts. Thoughts become actions, thoughts and emotions become ingrained behaviors that we can't seem to break free from; we become trapped.
Intuition arrives when we choose to trust ourselves over and over again.Intuition is a gift and a power we all have, but sometimes it is so buried deep under layers of stress, frustration, day to day nonsense, that we don't feel we have any inner power, light and compass at all. Your intuition is your guidance system. You might see the same animals over and over again ( I see hawks like woah ) you might see a series of numbers like, 777 or 1111 in patterns, you might just have a full-on-body-knowing of something you don't quite understand yet. There is no right or wrong way to experience intuition. There is no exact map to follow. No one else can do it for you. Your own intuition will be completely unique to you and your path. Understanding it takes patience, practice and trust.
It is the GPS for your Soul. It directs and redirects. It course corrects.
It comes in many forms. Sometimes you feel a gut sensation that something or someone is not right for you. You may have zero evidence to back this up. You just have this 'feeling' and can't really pin it down. It can be confusing and annoying. Often, we hear that voice or feel that feeling and we totallyshut it down, falling prey to our inability to trust ourselves.We look to others for advice about our lives. We seek external validation on the things that only we should have the answers to. We later discover (hindsight is 20/20 right?) that the voice was right all along. We can finally see the truth when we are on the other side. All too often we realize how much time and energy we wasted by ignoring what we had known all along.
Intuition is Self Trust.
It's slowly and lovingly beginning to and then continuing to trust ourselves again and again. It is a continuous, never ending, unfolding of our inner truth. It is allowing the knowing that we feel to guide us.It seems simple because it is. The human mind wants to complicate what the spirit already understands and has always known.
The wisdom you have in this moment is everything you need and more in pursuit of your purpose, service and authentic voice in this lifetime.
This is a labor of love.
When you choose to trust that inner knowing, things start to shift. Doors close and doors open and you finally realize all of the magnificent ways you are being supported in every moment.We are ever evolving, but it takes commitment, sacrifice and daily tending to live the lives that are truly meant for us. We all deserve to feel lit up with magic and joy. What is limiting you from being in your truth? Are you speaking poorly about yourself? Are you taking away your power by giving it to others? Are you settling because you are afraid of what is on the other side of fear?
You already have all the answers.
You know exactly what you want, need and deserve. Take it. Claim it. Anything less than that is doing a disservice to the world around you. It is time to step up and stop playing small with our power. You are a freaking magnificent human being. Your uniqueness is needed on this earth in this time. Step UP and let yourself shine.
Monday, November 5th 2018
SUN IN SCORPIO,
NEW MOON IN SCORPIO
New Moon in Scorpio at 11:01 AM, Wednesday 11/7/2018
I don’t know about you, but I feel as though these last few weeks with the Sun in Scorpio, sign of the underworld, death, depth, discomfort, renewal, and regeneration have been so intense.
It has been SO intense that there have been days I just wanted to throw in the towel.
Sometimes, when we are going through our murkiest, darkest and most challenging times, we feel like it would be so much easier to quit it all, to crawl under the covers and just give up. It is true that there are times in our lives when we must release the old to create space for new growth. That is not giving up. That is not quitting.
Choosing to end an outdated pattern, a way of thinking and being that no longer serves to enlighten and lift your spirits is hugely transformational and I highly recommend it. This is the surrendering to the flow of life and death that I often plug into when something in my life feels a little off, a little stale and my heart whispers for a change of direction. I do my best to listen and then make changes where necessary (as best as I can of course, I am a human having a human experience after all.) However, there are others times in our lives when we want to ‘throw it all away’ just because it has become harder than we want it to be. If you think about challenges you have overcome, successes that you are deeply proud of, creations that have evolved over years and years of painstaking, passion-filled desire to see your project to the end, you may be able to feel the sense of accomplishment, contentment, and pride that fuels every challenging process.
These past few weeks of Scorpio energy have tested me on so many levels. They have put into question every part of my existence, they've had me question the choices I’ve made and the path I’ve cleared for myself.
They have nudged me, asking the cruel but loving question, ‘Is this reallywhat you want?’
I have had to get quiet, take a good look in the mirror and be fully honest with myself, including all the ways I use my anger for dark or light, unhelpful emotional projecting and the addictive habit of falling into the blame game. Scorpio energy has asked me if I've fallen prey to unnecessary drama instead of being clear, honest and real with myself and my needs.
These past few weeks have been a Soul’s Call - asking us all to reconnect with the simplicity of nature, meditation and honoring our needs and boundaries.
I have been putting the needs of others first and it has done some damage to my ability to be a light, to have a full cup and do the work I am here to do. Can you relate?
The Scorpio New Moon ( DOUBLE SCORPIO) will give us all an opportunity to begin again and refocus our priorities, behaviors, thoughts and actions. I am ready to take on this ongoing challenge of living in alignment with my truth and my inner light.
I am so ready to take on the responsibility of honoring my lineage, while also reprogramming the ancestral patterning in myself that needs to be healed. I am so ready to reconnect with my heart as my guidance system and shed away the layers of fear I’ve been functioning in.
We are being given another opportunity to choose to love ourselves more deeply by simply beginning again without the guilt, shame and outdated wiring of our past selves.
For me, living life in connection with the Moon is like having a New Year's Eve celebration every 29.5 days. I am moving into this Scorpio New Moon with the intention of loving myself a little more each day by choosing actions and thoughts that will support my highest good.
I will move forward with deep forgiveness, compassion and a sense of calm after the storm. I will step into translucent love. Scorpio season can feel overwhelming, but the other side offers us an awareness of beauty on earth that cannot be experienced without the discomfort that parallels our rising into our higher selves.
New Moon Blessings. May you unfold into your truest and freest Self.
Monday, October 29th 2018
HOW TO BE BOTH ANGRY & RADICALLY LOVING AT THE SAME TIME
I've been having more conversations than ever before about BEING ANGRY. It turns out that so many of us are experiencing a sweeping wildfire of volcanic frustrations, annoyances, and overall I-have-had-enough-of-this-crap-political-done-ness (raise your hand if you know what I am talking about. Oh, it's everyone!? Okay. Great!)
Feeling like you 'have-had-it-up-to-here' isn't the most enjoyable of human emotions, but all feelings need to be felt to be freed and there is nothing - I repeat, n o t h i n g wrong with anger.
As children, the majority of us (especially those who identify as female) were taught that being a good person meant we needed to be 'polite' and 'nice' and 'kind' and 'sweet'. It was just not acceptable to be an angry kid. A kid with an opinion. A trouble maker. Many of us have carried our childhood conditioning into our everyday actions without even realizing it and it's time to consider the fact that this squashed self expression and behavioral control has done our society ( and ourselves) a great disservice.
Did I lose you yet? Bear with me here!
I was that angry kid. I hated the reality around me and I felt as though it wasn't safe for me to share my opinions. I felt trapped by not having a platform to express myself so I stuffed my feelings down and turned on the TV while eating as many salty potato chips as I could. I know I am not alone here!
Keeping anger trapped like a lion in a cage eventually leads to someone getting their hand bitten off, but it simply does not need to be that way. Luckily, it's nearing the end of 2018 and most of us have hopped on the prism of human experience and emotional understanding bandwagon. Most of us know that it is safe, good and right to feel and express our emotions.
How To Use Your Anger for GOOD
If you are reading this, I am going to assume you are a grown human doing the best you can to make your life as good as it can be. I am also going to assume you sometimes get angry and sit on it. If you are a human being, you may have even bottled it up, packaged it neatly and put it away never to be seen again!
PLEASE USE YOUR POWER.
What most of us don't realize is that anger comes with a secret superpower.
ANGER is ENERGY and it gives us just enough p o w e r and p a s s i o n
to take action. It is necessary for change. It can be burned, shifted and re-purposed for GOOD.
We all have a choice whether or not to transmute our emotions into action by bettering our world or to let emotion take total control over our inner light and inevitably become part of society's descent into fear and negativity. I know just how transformational anger can be because I sat with it like a coat of armor for the majority of my life.
For me, there was a disconnect between what I felt and what I did with it.
It took so many years and so many fights and so much hurting myself and others to recognize and learn the skills of using ANGER as an energetic wand of change.
Anger can be channeled as a gateway to changing what we don't like about the world, instead of just brooding about it.
Last night, I spoke to a friend about the last time I was furiously angry (I am talking way over the line - black out angry).
I had waited too long to stand up for myself and had been continuously bottling and swallowing my angst like daggers to my heart.
It was in High school. I was 14 and it was the first month of my Freshman year in a new city and in a new school. There was a boy a few grades above me who had been teasing (harassing really), bullying and making fun of me for my weight and body. He was sexualizing me and using hurtful words to cut me down and slice up my sense of self-worth. Unfortunately, this was not a new experience for me. I had been receiving this kind of hateful and violating behavior since Elementary school. Why I was picked on so aggressively isn't as important as what came out of these experiences.
What came out of it, you ask?
ANGER with a spoonful of activism
The day of my grand angering was a normal one like any other. I was loathing my school uniform, taking Geometry and feeling slightly self-conscious about ummm...everything ( hello, High school), when I decided to walk down the back hallway to get to the bathroom.
Once I started down the hall, I realized I'd made a huge mistake. There he was, at the end of the hallway, taking up far too much space and leaking his misogynistic energy all over the damn place.
As I walked nearer, I knew this wouldn't be a simple passing by. He stopped me right at the exit to my next destination. He put his arm across the entryway like some kind of traffic director gone mad.
"You can't go through", he proclaimed.
In that moment I decided I'd had ENOUGH. I couldn't take it anymore!
I demanded, "LET ME THROUGH!."
"If we were in MY country right now, I would SLAP you!"
"This is MY country!"
*please know that I accept and embrace all countries*
I then proceeded to lose complete control of myself. My whole body boiled like a furnace and I began to shake vigorously. I kid you not, I was no longer the Shira you know (especially not the current Yogi one), I had transformed into some kind of frightening human activist demon of the deepest and darkest depths
I began hitting him across the face and kicking him repeatedly. I couldn't stop myself. I kept going until I was literally pulled off of him by a teacher.
It was not a pretty sight and I am not proud of what happened that day.
I got suspended and felt so much shame..and if you are wondering, so did he.
This point of this story is not:
a. to scare you or b. to make you think I am not to be messed with or c. to inspire you to start beating up your bullies.
The point is to express the imperative nature of human existence.
We Must Feel Our Emotions & Take Action To Free Them.
We must use our anger as a tool of change. Anger is a gift, showing us what we care about and how we wish to better the world we live in.
By making simple changes, we have the magic like ability to shift the energy from negative to positive.
WE HAVE THE POWER
We can speak our truth, we can vote, we can vote with our dollar, using our money to support businesses and causes we believe in. We can donate to an important organization. We can make less trash. We can volunteer, give back to our communities and go above and beyond as a considerate human being. We can be impeccable with our word. We can stand up for our rights and the rights of others. We can be courageous with our lives. We can pray and send loving messages to those who need to receive them. It doesn't have to be an enormous act, it just has to be big enough to shift how we feel.
Be a source of radiant love. Be RADICALLY LOVING.
This kind of change is what we need now.
I encourage all of us (myself first and foremost) to check our attitude. To consider the ways in which we are leaking energy out every moment we fall prey to the takeover of emotions, rather than channeling them for the creation of a better world.
I don't regret that I stood up for myself that day, but I do regret that I hadn't taken action sooner. I regret that I never learned how to create safe boundaries and stand up for myself without losing control. It was a hard lesson to learn and one that continued, eh hem, I mean continues to this day, silently whispering in my ear, asking me to speak my truth and release my resentments, asking me if I'm complaining and choosing to dive into the downward spiral of negativity, or if I am lifting myself up and choosing to better the energetic environment around me.
We can be in flow, surrender and forgive, while standing up for ourselves, each other and what we believe in.
Our anger is nothing to be afraid of, to fear, or to feel guilty about. Instead, it is a call for change. Anger fuels the fire of our passions. Let's keep our fire burning.
This Monday night (TONIGHT) yoga will be a central nervous system reset, so that we can shift our tension in the direction of peace and positive change. There will be lots of hip opening. Muscle and Spirit strengthening. HEART opening and detoxifying and I cannot wait to shift energy with you.
What does it mean to be BRAVE?
I believe being brave means speaking your truth. It means stepping into your innate power and naming and claiming what it is that you need to say. Taurus season is all about this energy. It is a steady, consistent, and gentle guidance toward honoring your needs fully and honestly. You will need to trust yourself. You will need to get real and come out of hiding. Show yourself. Your brilliant self. Aries season shed light on where we needed to make changes in our lives. You may have experienced rapid and intense life transitions. Breathe deeply and trust.
Taurus season will be the dependable support guiding us into the next stages. Slow and steady.
Taurus is dedicated, loyal, and willing to do the work...This isn't about what your headwants, it is about what your heart deeply needs.
Taurus rules the throat. The voice. Speech.
It is a good time to ask yourself what it is that you need to say. Do you need to remind yourself of your resilience, beauty and strength? Do you need to tell someone you love something important? Now is the perfect time to check in with the ways that you have and have not been listening to yourself and respecting your inherent wisdom.Being brave is stepping into your courage and living your from truth. It is not easy. Nothing worth it ever is. This is not the time to feel sorry for yourself. Put your excuses aside and and be your own biggest fan. You are magic. Speak your truth. Be you.
Want to try some guided journaling to help bring out your deeper truth? It's so easy. Don't think too hard. Just write and write and write. It doesn't matter what you are writing. What needs to reveal itself will.
Q. What do I need to say?
Maybe you write list-style or in full sentences. It doesn't matter how you do it, just start writing. Give yourself a full 5-10 minutes and see what arises. You might be surprised by what comes to the surface. Making writing a ritualistic morning practice will transform your life.
So much love,
Happy Magic Monday!!!
Today's inspiration comes from one of my all time favorite artists, India.Arie. It's a reminder to feel and BE empowered in your skin. Remember, you are perfect exactly as you are (I know that's hard to believe sometimes, but it's true and you aren't doing anyone any favors by not stepping into your badassery.)
Send yourself unconditional love today.
Stay committed to knowing just how much magic you hold. You don't need to do anything, win anything, succeed more, or look any certain way to be the amazing specimen that you are. Stay unique and keep going.
"I'm not the average girl from your video
And I ain't built like a supermodel
But I learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen
I'm not the average girl from your video
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes
No matter what I'm wearing I will always be
Buti Yoga and The Secret To Getting A Bikini Body
Have you ever been pushing your hardest in a Spin, Zumba, Power Yoga, Barre, Boxing, or Strength Class and heard the instructor scream fervidly from the top of their lungs, “SUMMER IS COMING EVERYONE! NOW LET’S GET THAT BIKINI BODY!”
- or -
Maybe you’ve been lured by the oh so enticing promise of a TOTAL BODY TRANSFORMATION FITNESS EXPERIENCE that will also squash your deep-seated body issues into mush, get you the job you have always wanted, pay all your bills, and help you meet the partner of your dreams!?
- or -
Your body shame experiences may have instead been of the subtle and sneaky sort and you, no big deal, just judged the human with the ‘hot’ body that innocently and unknowingly walked by you, and while they were minding their own business, you were beaming hate rays out of your eye balls at them, hoping that maybe, just maybe, with your fierce glare you could somehow take their undeserved hotness down a couple of pegs. Take that, gym rat!
Maybe you have done a double take at that advertisement for the perfect diet pill in the latest issue of US weekly. There is even the possibility that just now, before opening this email, you were in the bathroom mirror putting yourself down and feeling remorse for eating too much lasagna last night. I feel you, girl (and guy) and I want you to know that not accepting your body is not the way to make any sort of positive change.
The ways that we put ourselves down and experience body shame are endless in quantity and void of true connection, meaning and quality in our lives. These behaviors are the opposite self-love, oneness and worthiness that we all infinitely have as our birthright (whether we can feel it now or not).
At this point in my life, the idea of working-out solely for the purpose of weight loss, thigh gaps, arm toning, tight abdominal hotness, society conforming body obsession, sort of...no, definitely makes me sick. It makes me really sick. I am not naysaying the benefits of fitness or weight loss. For some, that can be extremely healing and even necessary for their specific needs. What I really want to get across is that I believe there are deeply greater values to moving and sweating than to fit into a size-whatever-dress. As someone who has gone through Eating Disorder recovery, refeeding (yes, it is as horrible as it sounds), and is now walking the lifelong path of rewiring old patterns, I am here to shine light on the dark and shady side of ‘fitness’.
I learned the fitness-obsessed-to-the-point-of-organ-failure lesson the hard way and because of my personal experience (which of course is different than yours) I simply can’t ‘stomach’ (no pun intended) our culture’s pressure to make the female body into an object of perfection.
I love to sweat, I love to dance, and I fucking love most forms of cardio, but the body and mind punishment that inherently seem to tag along with fitness is something I will no longer tolerate. (Fingers crossed, I can convert you over to my side too.)
This might be why I have taken my own series of fitness tours over there years. A little spin there, a little kickboxing here, way too much Zumba, a dash of HIIT and so on and so forth. But so far, nothing has gotten into my bones like Buti has. Buti Yoga is not *just* about getting that sought after body (though it is sometimes marketed that way, which a. Drives me absolutely bonkers, and b. Makes it challenging for me to stand behind it in die hard fan fashion). Instead, my Buti yoga experience is about having an asana practice that magically blends Updogs, Downdogs, cardio intensity, hip swivels, sensuality, primal unleashing, belly dance isolations AND tribal dance, not to mention Chakra alignment and body empowerment all-in-one!
My love for this art form is a tribute to the way I feel during and after every single class. It’s about what happens to my spirit after an hour of deep pelvic swirls, dips and tucks, rib cage spiraling, squatting with a pulse to the beat, and so many other movements that only happen in this class and behind closed yoga studio doors.
For me, Buti feels like total freedom. Buti yoga peels away the layers of judgement and comparison that I’ve often been plagued with in the gym and yoga studio setting. Buti yoga feels like the right way for me to love my body. It is within the transitions, the pushups, and the shakti release that something shifts inside me. It’s a full body, mind, and spirit, engine revving practice of the divine feminine; and I leave feeling awakened every. single. time. Hello, yes please. I would like some awakened Shakti with my cardio.
What many people don’t know about me and my once upon a time in a land far far away lack of exercise, is that I had a childhood filled with take-out Wendy’s french fries, hours of stagnant television watching, and a whole lot of binge eating. I was active during the summer because I was away at Summer Camp, where I was also celebrated for who I was and treated like a cool kid (because where I went to camp, everyone was a cool kid. Hooray for inclusivity!)
The truth is, I was uncomfortably and miserably overweight for most of my life and treated like a pariah because of it. Frankly, it was only during the summer that I could feel free to be myself and enjoy the simplicity, creativity, and body freedom that came with being a kid. I would play tennis and soccer, go kayaking, and I even became a total synchronized swimming professional performance artist. But the fact of the matter was that you wouldn’t dare catch me in a bikini anywhere outside of the Camp Nokomis, where my round belly was just one of the gorgeous parts of my shiningly enthusiastic twelve-year-old-self that I didn’t feel the need to humiliatingly hide away from the general public.
In my early 20’s, (having had to return home due to a health scare with my mom, who is now healthy as ever and dancing her 21-year-old self into Salsa oblivion with the other retirees in Florida) I had what seemed to be an out-of-nowhere intuitive strike of inspiration. As I was walking up the stairs at Park Street T to interview for a teaching position downtown, I saw a flyer for Onstage Dance Company. With seemingly no previous agenda, no prior thought and not even an inkling of desire to get back in my childhood neon green Jazz bodysuit and Go-Go boots that made me look like a toxic apple on two sticks, I somehow decided right then, that I would give anything to audition to be a dancer. I am not exaggerating here.I casually sighted the Onstage Dance Company flyer and decided that in that moment, no matter what, I was going to be in that dance company and it was going to change my life.
Back to the part about me being an inactive child with a diet of bacon egg and cheese Dunkin Donut croissants and television for breakfast.
My childhood dance background was extremely minimal. I took a couple of Jazz classes, but was deemed “the smelly girl” and was harrassed for not only my smell, but also for my larger body. Or maybe it was...body first, then smell...Not the most sticky sweet of memories one craves returning to if you ask me.
Though I had no “real” former training, I did have Camp Nokomis dance class nostalgia. Camp Nokomis Dance Classes weren’t the kind of training where you would ‘learn’ any specific style or steps per se. There was no ballet first position, pirouettes, or Jazz hands (see! that is the extent of my dance vocabulary). There were no strict rules to follow and no leotards in sight. Camp Nokomis dance class girls sported shorts and CN logo tank tops, chose our own dance groups, decided upon a song, and then choreographed a number to be performed at the camp dance show! If you ask me, that is way more fun than having to pleat and jete (more fancy words!) one hundred times. This type of class called to my love of music, movement, creativity, and leadership skills. It was EVERYTHING.
I had to audition!
I woke up on audition day as sick as a dog. With snot dripping down my nose and my head in a Dayquil haze, I sneezed and sweated my way to Brookline, gave it my absolute best, and decided that simply showing up was a freaking miraculous win. I walked out of that audition like I had just won an Emmy because to me, I had. The icing on the cake was my lucky break. A few long days later I discovered that had I made it. I got in. I GOT IN!
I danced my little heart out with this company for about 4 years and got so much fulfillment from learning, self-expression, being in an inclusive community again, from moving my body to the music, and from feeling like I was more myself than I had ever been before. This experience changed my life and for that I am forever grateful.
My time with Onstage Dance Company was also when I discovered Yoga and Zumba. So, in one year, I got the teaching position I had applied to, I became a performer in a dance company, I become a licensed Zumba teacher, and a certified yoga teacher. Everything had changed and I did it all with barely any prior knowledge or training at all. Life is magic like that if you have a crazy dream and refuse to take no for an answer.
Within the midst of the joy sauce that had become my life, I began to lose a lot of weight. I felt the pressure (that I had created) to be thin and ‘look’ like I played the part. I spent the next few years getting smaller and smaller, making food restrictions my absolute priority, fasting and only drinking green juices before performances and doing whatever I needed to do to be the smallest I could come show day ( I hadn’t yet discovered that this was just another form of my lifelong relationship with eating disorders).
I didn’t do this because someone told me to. I did this for myself. I did it all so that I would feel accepted and celebrated. I wanted so badly to look like a walking billboard for beautiful, that I became malnourished and eventually amenorrheic (without a period) for two years. I was constantly sick, getting injured, and seemed to be in a perpetual state of recovery. I eventually and without explanation to my fellow dancers, had to drop out of Onstage Dance Company because I wasn’t well enough to attend weekly rehearsals.
The same passion that drove me to live out my dreams also drove me to ruin them with false ideals of success. The drive I had to win had taken me down, shaken me to bits, and left me crying and weak on my kitchen floor.
I had what some would call a breakdown, but what I will now refer to as a ‘breakthrough’. It was a realization that I couldn’t keep up with the starvation any longer. It was a wake up call from the universe. It was the beginning of discovering my truth. It was the path to understand more about myself, my feelings, and my past. Having my breakthrough taught me how to unconditionally love myself and how to return to love every time my heart breaks. How to have compassion for myself and the people around me.
I stopped getting sick. I started eating again. I began using my brain to do things like organize yoga retreats and write and draw and spend time with friends and re-discover the imaginative girl who had become lost in false successes and illusion. I searched deeply into my purpose and I found peace and balance.
When I began to nourish myself, I was finally able to tap into a deeper creative source that I hadn’t been able to access while I was using all of my energy to count calories, obsess about how my stomach looked, and track every morsel of food I ate into my fitness app.
I became free from my own mental prison (one that had developed when I was too young to even know it) and was able to proudly and openly delve into an entirely new way of seeing the world. I broke free from being a living advocate of body image obsession that so many worthy people are caught up in, wasting their lives feeling too fat or too frail or too 'insert-body-part-here’.
We are all worthy and the idea that our bodies need to look any certain way is frankly total capitalistic patriarchal bullshit.
I chose ( I really had no choice) to see the illusion that had become an ideal of beauty in so many societies around the world. After about a year of being real with myself about my lack of self-love, I discovered that beauty is not longing to look differently than we are in this moment. Beauty is not starvation. Beauty is not cruelty. Beauty has no comparison or negative counterpart. Beauty is especially not exercising to negate the calories you have consumed.
Now, I refuse to do anything but accept and love myself as I am in each moment because anything else is a waste of the worthiness that is my birthright. I will not ruin my own brain with that nonsense and I will do what I can to help those that do not see their perfection in imperfection open their eyes to the truth.
You will never hear, “Let’s get our six-pack on” from my mouth because that is not why I am on this earth. I am here as a reminder to love yourself ( and your body!) exactly as it is. I am here to share my experience, so that the community of ED recovery warriors can continue to build and grow and so that maybe just one less person doesn’t have to suffer inside their own mind and waste away from what could have been.
Buti yoga has been the balance in action, sweat, self-love, sassiness, and freedom that I have been seeking for so long. I am sure there are many of you that are looking to tone your bum bum and I celebrate you too! There is nothing wrong with fitness. Hell, I can’t deny the intensity of which I have love for my ass right now, but it’s just not e v e r y t h i n g to me.
For me, Buti Yoga is about reconnecting to what it’s like to be in my body in an authentic way. To be in my body that jiggles. My body that has belly rolls, strong as hell arms and legs and heart, MY body that can do hip isolations to an eight count, vibrate, and celebrate through sound and movement. My body that has been through so much. My body that has periods and is in flow with the moon cycles again. My body that is mine and mine only. My beautiful body that deserves to be cared for and loved and admired for it’s everything.
Let’s continue to move our bodies for the sake of nurturing our well being. Let’s commit to a total retaliation of body image obsession that kills beauty and creativity and uniqueness in so many ways. Let’s remember that in order to have a bikini body, all you have to do is put on that damn bikini ( I am way more into one-pieces) and strut your hot stuff, unicorn. You are a reflection of the divine. You are perfect just as you are.
“You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don't. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.” -Rumi
Trust, TrAVEL AND TRANSFORMATION
I am safe and sound and happy as a clam (or maybe an enchilada) in Morelia, Mexico, eagerly awaiting the rest of the yoga family to arrive and begin our journey of Mexican food and culture, self-discovery, and the grand finale: deep immersion in nature and the migration of the Monarch Butterfly.
Though the schedule is organized, the yoga is prepared, and the sleeping arrangements are all set, there is so much that is unknown. There is so much that will be revealed along the way. The most incredible times cannot be planned. The memories that stay with us for years to come happen through moments of magic that no one can predict now.
I believe it is these times that make life so damn wonderful. These are times of transformation and the possibilities are endless.
When I was 24, I moved to the state of Michoacan, Mexico to teach English as a Second Language. Well, not really just to teach English. I moved to escape my job at the Copley Plaza Truffle Shop, to escape living with my parents (oh how I wish I could go back in time!) and especially, to escape the dull day-to-day monotony of being alive. How silly of me! Oh to be 24 again (no thank you).
At the time, I believed that if I could just find the right place, I could finally have an amazing life, the best friends, and live happily ever after forever and always with rainbows and fairies and free healthcare. In my naivety, I chose to take quite a few risks. I moved to a country by myself that I had never visited and knew almost nothing about, I began a career (as an ESL Teacher) that was extremely foreign to me ( I graduated with a degree in Feminist Theory) and without much thought behind it, I changed the course of my entire life.
Life's funny like that. One day you are sitting in your kitchen drinking coffee and then next day you are eating tacos on the side of a road in Mexico living a completely different life.
Both lives are good. But choosing to enter the unknown most certainly expands the capacity of wonderment and possibility that makes the fruit of our lives that much juicier.
Sitting here under the full moon’s glow in the Casona Rosa foyer, I can’t help but remember these times in my past and see how much things have changed. I am an entirely new person, yet exactly the same. I am more grounded and aware of how I need to support myself on this journey, how I need to nurture my body as life changes, but I am the same. I am still seeking and questioning and wondering and looking for more. So much is bubbling to the surface as I begin to step into the unknown of my future. I am entering into the mystery of so many retreats, so much travelling, into the unknown of leaving friends and classes behind, and into the uncharted territory of what could happen to the relationship I am in as I choose to commit to living a not so secure life.
Playing like a broken record is the scratching of fear. It is the over-protective cognitive patterning that does not want me to grow or experience all that life has to offer. This feeling that thrives in consistency and structure and sameness, sometimes stops me from moving forward because it becomes so all encompassing. You see, I have (and I bet you do, too) all of these incredibly magical experiences that lie ahead, yet (in my humanity) here I am, as scared as a child with monsters under her bed.
In the past, this resistance has been paralyzing. “What if the trips don’t fill?” “What if the trips are horrible!?” “What if you fail?!!!”
The fear of failure is real as the moon is bright. We all get scared and nervous before we take that next big step, start a new job, a new relationship, or move to a new place. My revolutionary artistic dreamer of a mom always says that fear means you are going in the right direction.
Fear is the friend that visits before you grow. It’s the precursor to our spirit's evolution.
When we don’t step into the unknown, when we don’t take the scary as all hell chances, and when we live lives that feel “meh”, we are hindering any and all opportunities we have to make our lives meaningful and fulfilling. We are slowly suffocating ourselves when we deny what excites us. We owe it to ourselves and each other to at least try to take a leap of faith.
When I arrived to Casana Rosa B & B, I was met by an incredibly authentic artist and a savvy business owner. We spoke deep into the night about life, death, and everything in between. We sipped wine and I read tarot. We exchanged ideas about the ‘unknown’ and creativity and taking these leaps of faith. We lamented on political issues in Mexico and in the United States. We connected and bonded within minutes and it was then that I suddenly realized that I had come to the right place. I realized that this step into the undiscovered is continuously being supported in every moment and I am giddy like a schoolgirl to see what is in store for the upcoming week. The only thing that I know for sure is that I don’t really know what is coming and that excites the hell out of me. It reminds me I am on the right path. We have taken this chance to walk into the void, choosing to crush any future regrets, and we will most certainly majestically blossom on the other side. The only way out is through and the only place to go now is up. Like the Monarch butterfly, we are edging out of our cocoons, being transformed, and emerging again, newly enriched with the power of the unknown.
Courage, Dear Heart.
Two summers ago, I began holding Full Moon and New Moon workshops in my backyard. At the time, I only knew that bringing awareness to the moon itself had some sort of magical healing power for me and so I naturally assumed it might do the same for others. As crazy as some people might have thought that sounded, I firmly knew I was doing the right thing. I knew I was being called to appreciate and align with nature and the cycles, rhythms, and patterns of energy in the natural world.
What I didn't realize, however, was just how grand an influence it had on soothing my emotional landscape. Over time, little by little, I began to heal all the places inside my heart that I had never been able to access before. Over time, I began to live with more ease and fluidity. The moon had given me a map for soothing my soul and now, as time continues to move forward, and as life continues to shift and change, the moon continues to gently guide me to deeper places of love, awareness, and flow. I have so much gratitude for the immeasurable ease that practicing ritual has brought me, I can only continue to share the magic with those who also feel the pull.
On January 31st, as I fly into Morelia, Mexico, for The Sacred Migration Yoga Retreat, the moon will not only be a total lunar eclipse, but also a blue moon (the second full moon in a calendar month) and a SuperMoon (the closest to earth it gets and therefore the brightest!)
If that is not a sign of alignment with nature, I don't know what is.
This SuperMoon will be in the sign of Leo. The lion sign is all about courage, creativity, self-expression, and play. It is a great time to dance, sing, draw, design, share your thoughts, and get in touch with your artistic side (especially if you think you don't have one!)
If you want to discover your birth chart ( this is where you find out your moon sign) and the secrets it holds, check this out and then sign up here
Though I won't be holding a full moon workshop in Boston this month, I will, as always do a full moon ritual of gratitude and forgiveness on January 31st. Join me for the New Moon in February.
I will be back in Boston holding New Moon Manifesting Workshops Saturday February 18th and Sunday February 19th.
Have a magical week and I will see you soon.
Failure: The One Thing Everyone Knows But Always Forgets
How to Fix Your Crown, Get Back On Your Unicorn, and Begin Again
Failure, rejection, the sense of seeming ‘not good enough,’ of being used or misunderstood, unworthy, compared to, and judged are all experiences that I (and all humans around the globe) know well. There are times when we are riding the waves of life, with all its challenges and surprises like pro surfers, and there are other times when we feel like we can’t even put our pants on straight, days when we break everything we touch, say all the wrong things, and are on the verge of tears for weeks at a time.
Life is tough and being honest about the struggle is a great way to tap into the authenticity of your human experience. Pretending like everything is hunky dory and slapping a smile on your face when you are going through something tough, something that requires your internal attention and affection, only bottles up the pain to be exposed (and trust me this won’t be pretty) at a later date. Honoring the fact that you are wading through the muck of emotion and steeping that hurt in compassion and love like you would your favorite Yogi tea bag in your most darling mug on a chilly winter morning, will allow the emotions to pass through you, rather than get stuck and bound inside you. If you’ve ever kept a secret so long that you began to experience physical pain in the throat or gut, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. We all face challenges. We all mess up sometimes. We all have days so ‘off’ that it feels like the ‘on’ switch might just be broken forever. We are humans having a human experience and the yuck will not last forever! We must sit with it, feel it, and not indulge the demon of shame for being a sentient soul.
Today is one of those days for me. I’m simply feeling kind of off. Kind of shitty. Kind of sad. I’m feeling like I’m not quite living up to my own standards. Intellectually I know that I am working my little bum bum off, but emotionally my cup ain’t feeling so full. As I try to sort through this mental mess, I am reminded of a time in the past when I thought my world was over, only to discover something so much better was just waiting on the other side.
I remembered the time I tried to run a week-long retreat and no one wanted to come.
2 years ago, I got pretty gutsy and made it my greatest life’s goal to run a yoga retreat abroad. At this time in my life, I couldn’t envision a more epic, more fulfilling, and life changing resolution than to do something like teach yoga and travel! It was the ultimate dream and I was going to make it happen.
The trip was dated to run in November, but September was fast approaching and there were only three (lovely) people signed up. Three people is not enough to make a retreat happen and still be able to pay the bills. So, as you have probably guessed (you are so smart), the trip had to be canceled and my career as a traveling yogi was doomed for all time, I was completely devastated in so many ways. I cried until my whole face turned red and I looked like I’d been dipped in mascara and snot. I stayed in bed. I had multiple loud and annoying (private) temper tantrums. I screamed at the universe in disapproval, “How dare you!”
Let’s be honest, creating a dream plan and having it fizzle and die before your eyes is, well, pretty crushing.
I had planned this destined-to-be-squashed trip through a yoga retreat company and I was under the impression that they would be doing all kinds of marketing and advertising. I assumed all I needed to do was sit back and watch the magic happen. I thought I just had it in the bag. Rookie mistake…Total fail. No one even knew about this retreat, not to mention that the structure of the retreat didn’t speak to who I was, as it was a “Raw Food Detox Retreat.” smh. If you have read about my history with food, you know why the cancellation was a true blessing in disguise.
The truth is that at that point in my life, I wasn’t feeling confident enough to talk about my retreat because I could hardly imagine that anyone would even join me. Now, I realize (as hindsight is 20/20) that I was actually manifesting (unknowingly) a canceled retreat because I was secretly too terrified to do something as crazy as teach yoga in another country with people who had invested such a massive amount for the experience. Oh, the PRESSURE. I was so scared that I would fail, that I brought failure in as an escape route. If no one came on the trip, I couldn’t mess it up. I was completely frozen, both overwhelmingly excited, and in total fear mode at the same time.
The day I found out the trip was canceled, I was humiliated. To follow was a flooding of emotion that bombarded me with guilt, shame, and resentment towards myself. Because my fears had been validated, my thoughts turned to total negativity.
“Why would anyone come on a yoga retreat with you?"
“Who do you think you are, Kathryn Budig?!”(whom I am positive had similar feelings at one time in her life.)
“You are not good enough!”
“You just aren’t good enough.”
“GIVE UP NOW.”
Buckle your life vest and hop on into the dark and dreary pool of woe-is-me! It is bottomless and full of rapids, gators, and piranhas! Enjoy the ride!
Our woe-is-me mind has this tricky way of kicking us (HARD) when we are down. The mind says, look...You got hurt, you were in danger, and I won't let that happen ever again. Stop trying because you will fail. Stay safe, stay small, I’ve got everything under control. Go back to how things were before you stepped out of your comfort zone. It will be great. Safe and secure. And I’ll never let anyone or anything hurt you ever again. But, here’s the thing. I have played it small before in the relationship sector of life. I knew what it felt like to stay safe, to hold onto your identity and refuse to be vulnerable, and to put all your eggs into the basket of being comfortable. It gets pretty damn boring after awhile. You become resentful and feel stuck. You lose your power. I already knew what daily disappointment, boredom, and regret looked like and I was NOT about to let that happen again….and neither should you.
The Ah-Ha! Moment
So what did I do? I brushed off my shame, prayed and prayed and prayed, and looked meticulously at my primary errors.
What went wrong? Why did it go wrong? How can I improve? The second time around I decided to be my own travel agent. I became obsessed with every single detail of the upcoming trip. I was so obsessed that I couldn’t stop talking about it. I had to share it everywhere and with everyone because I was SO EXCITED. (I do believe that feeling this feeling will manifest success, but that’s a story for another time.) I researched every single hostel, hotel, inn, B&B, campground, and castle! I read every single review. I watched as many YouTube videos on where I was going as I possibly could. I got *help* from other people who were skilled in areas that I wasn’t. I got artistic people to make flyers and beautiful advertisements that I could never have done on my own, I developed a friendship with the owner of the Eco-guest house I would be bringing my lovely retreat unicorns to, I put on my imaginary snorkeling gear and dove deep into the unknown, and did my best not to repeat the mistakes that I had made before.
If you are as hard on yourself as I am, it can feel like the end of the world when you mess up, make mistakes, go through a breakup, get a bad grade on a test, or feel like you have back peddled, but the truth is that the knowledge gained from our mistakes is like an arrow being pulled back on a bow; the next action you take is going to propel you forward in ways that you cannot even imagine. Failure is not what we see it to be. We perceive a loss when we are really getting a massive gain in wisdom, clarity, and perspective. Looking back, I don’t regret what happened, and in fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When my retreat got canceled, I chose to go to, Coco Loco Surf Camp with two of the marvelous ladies who were previously signed up to attend my 'failed' trip. It was incredible (and if you want to be a better surfer, I highly recommend it...although, it is obviously not the epic travel experience you will get with me (wink wink nudge nudge)... Retreat with me.
Surfing for the first time, getting humbled by the monstrosity of the ocean, conquering my fears, being really seen by others, and remembering the magic that happens when a group of amazing people come together, massively inspired me to get back on my unicorn and ride into the unknown with my hair whipping behind me. I remembered my days as an angstful and deeply depressed ten-year-old going to sleep-away camp and realizing how lucky I was to be alive. I remembered what it was like to create bonds and feel energized and supported by others. This trip changed my life because it helped me remember who I was and who I came here to be. I knew I could try again and I knew I could do better.
When you get back up after you have fallen, you simultaneously cultivate your confidence muscle and fill your wisdom tank for future endeavors.
You become more courageous and capable of reaching your next big goal. Maybe the truth is, that when you aren’t ‘mistake making’, something is missing...something just isn’t right. Because if there aren’t lessons being added to your life’s curriculum, you might ask yourself if you are taking chances, taking risks, and ultimately really living to your greatest potential? Risk taking isn’t just about your career. Risk taking could mean telling your family members how much they mean to you, it could be telling your partner you love them, or it could be signing up for an improvisational comedy class when you are afraid to speak in public. It is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and being open to receive whatever it is that is on the other side. It requires fierce faith, courage, and a ton of determination, but more than anything, it simply asks you to begin again.
Anything is possible, but we need some of that magical risk taking elbow grease to make our lives really spectacular. So you out there, the one who feels like you have fucked up and ruined your life forever, the only way to go is UP. We need to fail in order to intelligently begin again. You got this, keep going, you are doing GREAT. Fix your crown and get back on that unicorn, Magic Maker.
When The Path To Happiness Doesn’t Allow Gluten:
How To Ignore The Hype and Love Your Freaking Self
I recently attended a workshop called, The Happiness Method, where I listened to a well-intentioned spiritual man tell a group of 50 women how to be happy.
Before writing this piece, I wanted to do a little research and see what I could scoop up from his teachings, as well as get an idea of what he was putting out to the world wide web. His website made my heart melt and the stone cold frustration I’d been carrying over the past few days simply slipped away. It glowed with beautiful photos that seemed to capture the depth of his potential and authentic love for all, but in his workshop, something big happened inside of me that I couldn't ignore, push down, or repress. I became triggered and I needed to speak my truth.
Here’s the deal, I fucking LOVE spiritual work, I love breath-work, I love yoga, I love thinking positively, I love going deeply into the most vulnerable and painful parts of who we are and pouring compassion sauce over them like syrup on dry pancakes, but there is a culture of “health” and “spirituality” that frustratingly hits me as phony, shallow, and preachy. It misses the big picture of what it means to live a life of self-love because it gives a "one size fits all" solution to righteousness. You know what I’m talking about if you follow yoga culture because it has been poked fun at for this. This JP Sears video, “If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans,” does a really excellent job of expressing the “only one way to eat," “one way to act,” “one way to live,” kind of tunnel vision, superiority, judgey, and high horse thinking that serves no one (including the one who is on the horse.)
Back to this heart melting, spiritual, blonde-balayage-haired, dark, tall, and handsome, professional, Transformational Coach man. He was giving a seminar on how to be happy. Who isn’t intrigued by quick fix for happiness!? The class was actually fantastic and clearly laid out the neurology behind feeling happy, as well as the facts and statistics on genetics, behaviors, and circumstance when it comes to our level of joy in life. He taught us about the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, and the enteric division. He taught us Gandhi's breathing exercise and that our fundamental nature is to be compassionate, generous, honest, and peaceful. This all sounds so amazing, right?
As he clicked quickly through each slide, making sure to pack as much happiness as possible into his two hour slot, we finally got to the climax of the presentation, the GUT.
Before we go any further down this gut related rabbit hole, let me tell you a little story. Among other eating disorders, I used to be what is called, Orthorexic. What the heck is that?! Well, the fact that you may not know what it is, is perfect evidence that this type of eating disorder is not given enough, or ANY (media, literature, medical, etc…) attention.
Here’s a short description taken from nationaleatingdisorders.org
"Those who have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.” Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity. They become consumed with what and how much to eat, and how to deal with “slip-ups.” An ironclad will is needed to maintain this rigid eating style. Every day is a chance to eat right, be “good,” rise above others in dietary prowess, and self-punish if temptation wins (usually through stricter eating, fasts and exercise). Self-esteem becomes wrapped up in the purity of orthorexics’ diet and they sometimes feel superior to others, especially in regard to food intake."
My personal experience with Orthorexia is that I truthfully did not think I was harming my body. In fact, I was convinced that I was healthier than everyone else in my life! I was exercising 2-3 hours a day, I was energized, I was able to fit into size 0 dresses, I was full of nutrients and greens and smoothies and I had something to live for! Health! My best and dearest friend! No, I could not attend any gatherings with friends because I feared I'd be forced to eat the unhealthy food they served, and I couldn’t go to restaurants because there would be the possibility that they would try to kill me with a pad of butter, yeah, I was anxious every minute of the day, obsessed with food, and unable to think clearly, and sure, I was drinking a gallon of water every night to stave off the hunger, and taking sleeping pills so I could fall asleep before I tried to eat anything, but hey, I was super healthy!
I privately judged EVERYONE for eating bread, pastries, meat, fats, dairy, sugar, processed foods, pasta….the list goes on and on. It may seem like a harmless obsession with healthy eating, but this harmless obsession actually completely took over my life and my self-worth. It became my daily and hourly commitment to myself to ensure that I was eating only the “purest” food and in the exact right quantity for the weight I felt was best for me (and this is when I slipped into Anorexia). The most detrimental problem with this way of being is that it consumes you. It becomes your mark of success in the world. It defines you and eventually brings out more darkness than it does light. I don’t know about you, but being defined by refusing to eat a slice of cake for 7 years and exercising to the point of full body break down into pneumonia, followed by organ failure and inability to reproduce, is not quite the picture of perfect health one would normally envision.
So, as I was sitting in this seminar on how to be happy and a list of foods NOT to eat is projected on the screen in front of me, you can imagine the volcanic like eruption of emotion that boiled up inside of me.
FOODS THAT INFLAME THE GUT…(and make you depressed?….BS)
Envision my face in this moment, jaw dropped, one eyebrow raising up to my hairline, foaming at the mouth (over exaggerating much?) The anxiety that flooded my nervous system and got the adrenaline pumping through my veins was overwhelming. My hands started to shake, my breathing became rapid, and I could feel my heart pounding like it was going to explode out of my chest into a gruesomely bloody scene from Night Of The Living Dead, all over everyone’s faces. (That didn’t happen, don’t worry.)
What did happen is that I had to take some slow and focused breaths to get my heart-rate to normalize before I opened my mouth into a fury of “oh, no he didn’ts.” He continued to lecture on the dangers of eggs, dairy, gluten, sugar, and corn, and I continued to shake like a banshee as I looked around in amazement to discover that I was the only one who seemed to have any inkling at all that this “happiness lecture” had somehow turned into a What-Not-To-Eat Cosmo article. I was not pleased.
he finally asked.
I sheepishly raised my hand, recognizing that this beautiful man in front of me most likely put his heart and soul into this project and I was about to word vomit all over it.
“I appreciate you and I think this presentation is just beautiful and so helpful for so many people, but…” I paused and smiled as I felt fear-sweat drip down my sides,
“But, I know that someone in here needs to hear what I have to say. I don't know who, but I know it is someone. To that girl, I would like to express that restricting food IS NOT how you become happy. I know, because I am the poster girl of the ultimate joy and freedom that happens after you STOP restricting food and letting food control your life. For many of us, who have had issues with eating, dieting, restricting, or popping loads of diet pills secretly in the bathroom as an 8 year old, the best thing we can do in this moment is to completely ignore this man in front of us and know that this is all bullshit.”
I sat down still shaking, but knowing that even if what I said didn’t quite leave my lips in the most diplomatic, graceful, and Oprah like fashion, I had done exactly what I was being called to do. I needed to speak my truth and share my story (one more wink wink to Oprah). The presenter thanked me and moved on with the following points. The subject was never brought up again that week by anyone running the retreat.
What really stuck with me was the number of women that came to me after class. The number of women that thanked me and shared their story with me. The bonds that arose with the numerous women who have struggled with food in similar ways and wanted me to know they were in this too.
We often get caught up in the teachings of others. We sometimes feel lost or out of control and have to seek outside help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that...But, not every Spiritual-Health-Guru-Teacher-Know-it-all-Whoever is going to be right for you.
You, my friend, are as complex as they come. Only you know the struggles you have been through, the challenges you’ve faced, the obstacles you have overcome. If you are not happy, it is not necessarily because you love corn on the cob (is it just me or is that kind of hilarious?), or because you love cheese! Hello! Have you been to France or heard ANYTHING about French culture? All those people eat is bread and cheese and mounds of butter! Croissants with salty butter and sugar packed jam and full fat milk lattes are what's for breakfast! Come on, people. Why are we still teaching women to restrict what they eat, to over exercise, and to punish themselves for eating, “bad food.” I have a shocker for you..there is no food that is “bad.” Want to know more about that? My dear friend and RDN rockstar, Jessi Haggerty squashes those claims like it’s her job, because well, it is! You can listen to any one of her Body Love Podcasts to discover that there is no, “bad” food and that dieting culture is extremely damaging to our bodies, our minds, and the entire society that we live in. More on that here. >> and a podcast episode we did on restrictive eating here. >>
For the love of all things happy, joyful, and free, check your food restricting habits and thought patterns. They could be trying to tell you something about how you perceive your body, your worth, and your life. We all deserve to be happy. We all deserve to love the skin we are in. I know the struggle and the pain of feeling like you are in a body that isn’t culturally appreciated as beautiful, I know what it feels like to feel too big, I know the sadness that comes with not feeling seen, and with feeling unattractive, but in a culture where plastic surgery is the norm, our president is a walking sexual harassment billboard, and Transformation Speakers are telling us that we can’t eat eggs if we want to be spiritual, happy, and healthy, I think it is about time we ignore the hype and start honoring our own opinions and beliefs.
It’s about time we start appreciating ourselves for the incredible, complex, and valuable human souls we are. We are not here to be lifeless bodies walking around, looking pretty, following the rules, going to work, and going through the motions, emotionless and dead to our connection with the magnitude of what lies within us. We are here to experience life. We are here to enjoy the world around us in as many forms as we possibly can.
I will never forget the first time I ate a French Macaroon (thank you Elisa Tavilla). It was the most sensual, luscious, magical, glorious experience. It was also the first time I had allowed myself to consume sugar in years, and the first time I didn’t punish, abuse, and reject myself like a bad dog after. This moment was honestly a turning point in my life. It was a wake up call to how I had been battering my psyche rather than nurturing and adding to it's freedom. It is time to free ourselves from the oppressive shackles of restriction and move into a new way of eating. I am calling for a food freedom revolution, because no one should ever have to feel like their worth is based on whether or not they had a god damned cookie that day. UHG. Please remember that your body shape does not define who you are. Please remember that you are so much more than the shape of your butt. Please remember that there is not one way to be beautiful.
And to the Transformational Speaker, (in regards to what foods not to eat) I love you, I see you, I respect and admire the positive change you have created for so many people,