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 2018 the most magical year yet!
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,