I did my taxes last week. I thought you should all know that. I waited until July 15th on the off chance that they actually would magically get done. They did not. I am never doing my own taxes again. I am good at a lot of things. I enjoy a lot of things. Filing my taxes does not fall into either of those categories. Something else that isn’t magically getting done is that book I am writing. Or, not writing as it turns out. I tried using the share it to social media for accountability approach. That looks like me sitting down at my laptop by 6:30 every morning and posting a selfie to my story so the world knows that I am doing the thing I said I would do. But early morning selfies are tricky. I always forget that I just woke up until I see the pic. Then I have to take 72 more selfies until I get a decent one. Then I write. This is is what I have learned. I write like I do everything in my life. I am either all in or I am all out. There is no in-between. These past two weeks I have been all out. And it feels like I am done. Not just done, but mad about it. As in fuck this fucking book, it’s stupid and I don’t even want to write it. Which is how I know that I’ll keep doing it. I was doing great, sitting down at the same time every day, posting my selfies to my story, getting solid word counts. I felt like I was really doing something. But I don’t actually know what I am doing. I’m just writing. Which is probably fine because I never know what I am doing, and things always work out for me. Usually better than I could imagine. When I look at my life I see that things work out for me. But I also know I have to put the work in. None of it ever happens magically. One might think I would stop hoping for that, and yet, I never do. But I have this friend. I am 100% certain this woman showed up in my world to help me write this book. She’s a writer. And an editor. Among other things. And she believes in me way more than I believe in myself. Some days she talks me into believing in myself and it lasts for weeks. Then I slowly start to get in my own way. Doubt creeps in. I am writing about a past that is painful and dark. As I write from this place it’s hard to remember that I am not that person. It’s hard to be the confident and strong person I know I can be. The old story creeps up and brings those old feelings with it. The doubt struggle is real. It shows up as shame. It shows up as “not enough.” It shows up as “too much.” It shows up as “who am I to think I can write a book?” It shows up as “why would anyone care what I have to say?” The worst part is that I know in my heart that none of it is true. It’s my head that gets in the way. My story is powerful. My voice matters. But that dark past is a hard place to write from. When I write from that place, I am IN that place. It’s painful. It was suggested to me that I write about my right now. Because my right now is pretty damn fabulous. It’s full of love and joy and so many blessings that it sometimes brings tears to my eyes. It’s full of amazing people and beautiful experiences. It’s full of women who lift me and a family who loves me. It’s full of beaches and sunshine and dancing. But it’s still so new to me. I recorded a podcast a few weeks ago, and that’s probably right around the time I started losing steam for this writing project now that I think about it. The podcast was recorded with a woman who thinks I am 100% bad ass. I have only met her in person two times, but she’s followed my journey on social media and knows enough about me to know that she wanted me to share my story. I shared my journey to self love with her for this podcast. Because it really is a journey. We started in my childhood and moved forward. We had an hour for the podcast. When we were finished I was worried that she might not have gotten what she wanted. She got a small piece of the self love she was looking for. She got a LOT of darkness. But that’s the story. That’s where I am in my journey. I lived many, many years in that dark place. I have only been here, in the healthy place, a short time in comparison. It made me sad. I felt like she wouldn’t want to use my story because there’s too much self loathing and not enough self love. There’s no self love in judging myself harshly for my past. I know this. It’s easy to say. But it happens. It happens when I write about my past. And the doubt comes back. It’s a vicious cycle. But I have awareness and awareness is everything. I am going to keep writing. I am going to write with the expectation that it actually will be easy. But it won’t. And then I’ll get mad and I’ll quit. For a while. This is how I do everything worth doing. It’s not really for me unless I say “fuck it, I’m not doing it.” It’s my go to. And I mean it every time. A thing to know about me is that I am persistent. I know this about myself. It might take years, but I’ll do it. I already have the tattoo. I have to do it now. I fully expect the process to suck. But that’s just because I’m still mad about it.
My fire to write has been reignited. Not that Covid extinguished it. I stopped writing nearly as soon as I started back in January. Mostly because I didn’t think I had anything to say. But I do. Maybe nobody wants to read what I have to say, but that’s not the point. I am writing again and it feels great. At least for the past week. Nine days if we are being technical. Now to stick with it for just 83 more days until it becomes a habit. No problem, right? I wish y’all could hear me laughing. Laughing because it actually is a problem to make myself get up at the same time every day and do anything these days. I talk a big game of self discipline is the highest form of self love for someone who is lacking in the self discipline area. But self acceptance is up there at the top too and I accept the fact that my priorities have shifted.
We are all learning to navigate in this new world. It’s not my favorite. I doubt that it’s anyone’s favorite. I miss sitting in circle with my soul sisters in the studio. I miss hugs. I miss having lunch with my friends. I miss practicing in the shala. I miss grocery shopping like a normal person. I miss thrift stores. That’s pretty much it. The list isn’t long. I don’t require a lot. My husband would disagree. I like being at home. I like my family. Something else I miss is the way people used to be nice to one another on social media. Those were fun times. I have such a love hate relationship with social media. Facebook in particular. Social media has been a powerful and positive force in my life. It’s connected me to so many amazing people. It’s helped my recovery, it’s helped me build a business, it lets me see what my family who are all far away are up to. But my God. People suck right now. Or maybe they’ve always sucked and I haven’t noticed. My scroll game is strong and I am usually able to scroll right on past the bullshit, but there’s so much of it these days. I am mindful of my feed and have carefully cultivated it to be a positive and inspiring place for me, but the ugliness has crept in. And the people who only acknowledge my existence when they want to make a snarky ass comment. I can do without all of that. Life is too short to spend it aggravated with people who live behind a screen. Perhaps this is what’s going to finally cure my addiction. But I doubt it. Because as much as I would love to completely disconnect, I cannot. My business needs social media presence. So I unfollow. Constantly. And clearly I need to do more of it. Not today though. Today my schedule is FULL and I have a life to live in the real world. After the nap I have scheduled in my planner.
When I started this blog years ago I had a hard time deciding what to call it. Sober Yogi represented who I was at the time. Since that time, I have grown in every possible way. When I started writing here I figured I would write about yoga and being sober, since those were the things I knew. I fully expected more of a how to format. Nothing like what I actually write about. I have used this space to document my entire healing journey which has been so much deeper and bigger than not drinking. Who knew? I’ve shared so much of that process right here with all of you and received so much support. What a beautiful healing space this is for me. I’ve played with the description of the blog, but have never changed the name. I’ve thought about it because I’m not so sure “Sober Yogi” represents what the blog actually is, and I am soooooo much more than a sober yogi. Those things are just pieces of who I am and being sober doesn’t really seem like it’s a big of deal anymore. It’s just my life. But today I was 100% THAT girl. I fully experienced myself as a sober yogi and it was so very special.
This morning I taught a yoga class on the beach. As I was teaching, I noticed a guy hanging back and observing us. No big deal, because yoga on the beach is cool. Who wouldn’t want to check that out? At the end of practice, I led everyone into Savasana. The final pose of practice. Corpse pose. Here’s a little truth about Savasana on the beach. Every time all of my students are lying on their backs, eyes closed, exactly like corpses, I feel a little (lot) like Jim Jones. It makes me laugh and feel weird to be the only one standing or even sitting around all the bodies laid out on the sand. So today, I walked down to the water while my students rested peacefully. And they were beautiful. As I was standing on the water’s edge, I sensed the man that had been observing us approaching me. In my mind I had an entire conversation about how happy I was that he was definitely not coming to talk to me because of social distancing. But he was. And he did. He kept his distance. Don’t freak out. He asked if I was Shannon. Then he introduced himself and asked if I remembered him. I didn’t. He shared with me how he had been to one of my 12 step recovery yoga classes years ago. Those are classes that I taught for a very limited time, because I just never felt like I could connect. The energy was always off. But, at that moment I remembered exactly who he was. And clearly, I had connected. He told me he was two days sober and didn’t know what to do or where to go, but he knew I was teaching on the beach this morning and I would be a good place to start. So he came to the beach. I still had students in Savasana, and went back to them. We finished our practice while he hung back. When everyone left I was able to give my attention to this man. I directed him to the local meetings and shared recovery resources with him. He had a ton of questions and seemed so willing to try a different way. One of the women from my class had stayed behind to enjoy the beach. A licensed mental health counselor. I invited her into our conversation and she was able to speak to him on the ways alcohol affects the brain. All the cool science of the addicted brain. She was incredibly helpful and informative. It was such a Divinely orchestrated plan to have her there in that moment with her understanding of addiction. A God moment. You can call it a coincidence if you feel better about that, but I’ll silently disagree with you. I have no idea if this guy will get sober or not. Sometimes people take that first little step into sobriety and then jump right back out. Sometimes it takes years. It did for me. People reach out to me all the time, and then I never hear from them again. It’s not my job to get people sober, but it is my responsibility to be there when someone reaches out. I saw honesty, openness and willingness from the man on the beach this morning. Those are the three things a person needs to get sober and stay that way. I’m hopeful. I’m rooting for him.
Being sober is such a natural piece of my life today. It’s no longer some foreign experience I am trying to navigate. I don’t write about it as often as I used to. It’s not the most interesting thing about me. But it’s never about me is it? As much as I want it to be. This morning, on the beach, I was a sober yogi. Yes, I am so much more than that, and as uninteresting and routine as the sober piece is, without it every good thing in my world would go away. I was reminded this morning, in a very big way, that being sober is incredibly special. Sharing about sobriety and connecting to so many people through my words is a privilege and an honor. I am extremely grateful that I am able to recover out loud.
I am rolling into week 7 of quarantine with a solid sense of well being. Finally! It’s taken this entire time to arrive here. Because I have been resisting. Not actively fighting against being at home or fighting against anything in particular, but I have been anxiously awaiting the time when this would be behind us. This week I finally arrived at the understanding that this is going to be with us well beyond the time spent in quarantine. This is going to be with us for a long time. I finally arrived at being ok with not knowing. I feel hopeful. This feels like a new beginning. Not like a fucking conspiracy theory Out of the Shadows new beginning because that shit is crazy, but a REAL awakening on a global level. The kind where people remember what’s truly important. THAT gives me hope. “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” That’s a little Hunger Game’s quote that I just pulled out of my journal from 2012. Right as I was preparing to embark on a new journey. A new way of being in the world. A new life. A sober life. And I was terrified. This feels a LOT like that time to me. Only this time, I have experience beginning a new life. I have the skills to manage my emotions in the process. I started that journey alone. This time I have an entire community of support. Several communities. Amazing. And I’m not afraid. Not at this moment, anyway. I was not on a roller coaster this week. I read my books. Cleaned my house. Did my yoga. Spent time with my family. Spent time writing. Cooked lots of food. Lived my life. In my home. I got so comfortable that I wondered if I would have a hard time going back to the real world. And I might. I’m planning for a gentle reentry into the world. Eventually.
This morning, I joined 8 am Yoga Church with my Catherine on Zoom. Quarantine living has allowed me to practice Ashtanga with my teacher and then jump on for the dharma talk and meditation part of her class. It’s a beautiful combination. But today it didn’t happen like that. Today, I rolled out of bed, made a cup of coffee, and made a dash to Zoom just in time for class. The Dharma talk was about Virya or the concept of Heroes and what that means. I have a lot of heroes in my life. Many of you reading this fall into that category. I surround myself with people who inspire me. Catherine is one of my heroes. She has taught me so much over the years. A friend of hers joined the class today. She introduced me to her “as a long time student with a heroic Buddhist practice.” I liked it, but I’m not sure that’s what I would call it. Especially since I’ve been slacking so hard lately. She could have said “Shannon used to be my patient and she was fucking CRAZY.” But she would never say that. I doubt it even crosses her mind. She sees who I am now. I have been her student for a long time. She went on to tell her friend how I had already practiced two hours of Ashtanga Yoga this morning. I wanted to roll with it. I wanted that gold star. That’s who I am. But instead I had to say, no, no I didn’t. I told her I literally just woke up, grabbed coffee and jumped on. So she invited me to participate in the yoga portion of the class, which I would have loved to do……but I was in my underwear. I wasn’t ready for all that. I guess I could have turned off my camera, grabbed my pants and then rejoined, but I didn’t think of that in the moment. For the record, they were ladies boxer briefs and I could have just practiced in them and nobody would have thought anything of it. But I didn’t. There’s always next week. Then we meditated. And I laughed and laughed in my mind because here I was, at yoga church in my underwear. Clearly, the 12 year old inside of me is alive and well. The memory of the time I sat on her couch in therapy and asked her if she thought the monks wore anything under their robes popped into my head. She told me not to find out. But not in those exact words. Her words were better. Hilarious. I could hear birds chirping through someone’s mic. They were the loudest damn birds ever and I wondered why the person didn’t mute their mic. I wondered why Catherine didn’t just mute everyone. At some point I noticed silence. As if it had been there all along. I didn’t know how long it had been silent or how my mind had become so still, but of course, the second I noticed it, I lost it. And my mind was full of thoughts again. Meditation is like that. My mind is like that. All of that was to say that I knew this morning that Catherine is proud of me. That she loves me. I already knew it, but this morning I really felt it. Even if I’ve been slacking. Even if I didn’t practice today. I was welcome in that space. I belonged in that space, as I was. Community. As soon as yoga church was over, my Ashtanga teacher texted to check on me. As I knew he would. I bailed on practice two days in a row. When I stayed up until midnight the past two nights and slept in for two days, I did it with the awareness that I would be receiving the “missed you at practice” text. The good news is, that my first reaction wasn’t to lie. Because it sometimes is. Not that I tell the lie, but it’s the first thing that I think to do. My first reaction today was to say as little as possible. It’s better that way. Only when it became necessary did I say that I’ve been sleeping in. I hate claiming that one. But it’s ok. It just means I’m a slacker and I’ll try harder next week. I’m human. It’s pretty damn funny, actually. To know how it’s all going to play out. To know know that text is coming. And I love it because, again, community. It’s nice having people that hold me accountable. It’s necessary. My sober community works the same way. My friends. My family, obviously. I am so surrounded by constant love and support. I am held. Always in ALL WAYS. I have all the faith in the world and all the hope in my heart. Faith is something that didn’t exist in that old journal I was reading from 2012. It didn’t exist in my world. My hope game was strong, and that hope has grown into something so much bigger than I can express. I probably need a new tattoo. When the shop opens up and I’m wearing my mask and living in a new way. And it will be ok.
And then it happened! I made a Covid 19 memory bigger than toilet paper! And there was dancing! And my heart was full! Yesterday I hosted a social distanced parking lot dance party. Most of you saw the pics on my FB page. I am sure there are people who didn’t approve, and that’s ok. I wasn’t looking for approval. I was looking for connection. Friday was a hard day. Some days are. I’ve had plenty of down days lately. I know we all have. Friday was my worst. I woke up that morning and went downstairs to my fortress of solitude. I sat on my cushion to meditate, but instead I cried. I cried a lot. A thing to know about me is that I am not a crier. But I couldn’t help it and I couldn’t stop it. I’m sure it was necessary and I get that crying is good. I love when my students cry in yoga, and I love when the women in my circles cry. I’m just not the one to do it. I was THIS close to jumping on the blog and writing through it, but that seemed like a stupid option. So instead, I stayed stuck in it. And I cried. I haven’t cried like that since September 9th 2018. I can’t remember why I cried, but I remember that it started at home and continued during the yoga class I went to that morning. I was hosting a teacher from Florida in the studio and I was in her class, bawling my eyes out the entire time. Pretty impressive that I have a timeline, right?
This is where I stop to tell on myself. Because I live my life on social media and share so much from my heart, I was guessing there must be something posted that day to give me a clue as to what that was all about. I had to make the connection back to the date that teacher was here. A quick search pointed out the date and down the rabbit hole of my activities log for September 2018 and BOOM. Here it is. Of course I was crying. Also, I was probably due for another good cry on Friday. 2018 was a LONG time ago. I should cry more. You know, if I was down to play that “should” game. I did have a big crying episode on January 1st during sunrise meditation on the beach. I bawled my eyes out and even pointed it out to my friend who also doesn’t cry. I was proud of it and wanted to share it with her. But, that was all gratitude and full heart stuff. Quite different. But sooooooo good. For the record, I am down to cry gratitude tears any time.
The unhappy cry is the crying I have an aversion to. Back to Friday where I cried for the first time in a L O N G time. I think every emotion I have experienced over the past 6 weeks caught up to me. It was a tough day. After the tears came the anger. I’m not exactly sure why I was angry, but I suspect it’s easier for me to be angry than it is for me to be sad or fearful or fully feel all the grief that we are collectively feeling. And by I suspect, I mean that’s definitely it. This afternoon I talked with a friend on the phone who spun her woo woo therapist magic on that situation. She pointed out that my inner “kid” likes to get angry and rebel against…….well, she rebels against all kinds of things, but she definitely doesn’t like to cry. So she gets angry. I knew that being angry around my family for no “real” reason wasn’t going to be helpful, so I stayed in my fortress of solitude. My husband came down to check on me. He NEVER comes into my fortress. Ever. He asked if I wanted to walk to the beach with him. We live 15 streets away from the beach and while it’s totally doable, I didn’t want to do it. I’m not much of a beach walker anyway. I’m more of a sitter. My husband isn’t a beach walker either nor is he the kind of guy that wants to walk 15 streets because it’s good for his health. Bless him. He wanted to fix me because all of my emotions made him uncomfortable. He just wanted me to be ok. Because he loves me. I eventually got past the anger and settled into a nice, comfortable funk. I stayed there the rest of the day. Ice cream and music in the bathtub that evening helped, but more than that, sleeping and waking up to a new day was the real trick. Saturday was the first time I have seen real people outside of my home, not counting the grocery store, in six weeks. I know I’m not alone in this and that we are ALL right there. I know that for me and the women who either showed up to dance in their own (appropriately spaced out) circle, or just sit in their car and watch, it was so uplifting. Dancing for me is ALL about connecting to that inner child. That girl needed to let loose and have fun. Saturday was the soulgasm I needed to carry me through another 14 day week. Who knew quarantine days were gonna be 48 hours long? I’m really looking forward to the day that quarantine and Covid 19 doesn’t come up in my thoughts, in my blog and in every fucking conversation I have. Today is not that day. Tomorrow is not going to be that day. This is where we are. Doing the best we can. Adapting and overcoming. I had an amazing 10 am writing group Zoom meeting with fabulous women today. I’m happy to be writing again. For now. Even if it’s just a bunch of rambling. It feels good for me to connect in this way. Last week quite a few new readers found my blog. The toilet paper blog. People who have never read my blog somehow stumbled onto that one. I need you to read that again, slowly, in my southern accent. People who have never read my blog somehow stumbled onto that one. What the hell? I was almost embarrassed. Almost, but not quite. I was dealing with too many other emotions to be bothered with embarrassment. This week is gonna be smooth sailing. I can feel it. Until it’s not. LOL
Quarantine Things. Unexpected and weird pandemic growth edition.
Here’s something most people don’t know about me. In fact, I would say only my innermost inner circle of people know it. The people who live with me. Ready for it? I hate buying toilet paper. I fucking hate it. I can do it if I have a cart FULL of other groceries, but I don’t like it. I don’t like being in the aisle. I don’t want people assuming that I need toilet paper. Never would I ever go to the store to buy only toilet paper. When I’m out in the world and receive the dreaded “we need toilet paper” text from my husband, he immediately gets a “fuck you” text back. Imagine my horror when the entire world became focused on toilet paper and in particular, purchasing toilet paper. When the world ran out of toilet paper, I sent my husband to the hardware store because I heard they had plenty. Plenty of off brand, one ply, porta-potty approved toilet paper is what they had. And he bought as much as he was allowed to purchase. 3 packs of 9 rolls I think it was. And it was fine. I expected it to last forever, and it would have if I lived alone. But I live with 3 boys who clearly require a lot of toilet paper. I have been doing my grocery shopping online and picking it up curbside. Every week I add toilet paper to the list and every week they have none. My super awesome neighbor friend was out in the world and ran across toilet paper and was kind enough to snatch up extra for us. He delivered it to our carport. Y’all. It’s lavender scented. I think just the roll is lavender scented, but it makes all the toilet paper smell like lavender. Every time I walk into the bathroom where the lavender toilet paper is, it transports me to another time and place. Not a lavender field like you might expect. No. It takes me to a public bathroom. A public bathroom where sketchy things take place and the smell of chemical flowers attempts to cover it up. And I laugh every time. I read on social media that a local friend has toilet paper that smells good, so I imagine half of this island is rocking the Dollar General lavender toilet paper. Also hilarious. And the fact that people are just openly discussing toilet paper EVERY DAMN DAY. What is this world? On Monday morning, I took a trip to the grocery store because I needed to pick out my own groceries. I got there at 6:30 am. Last night a friend said that grocery shopping during this time feels like it’s straight out of The Hunger Games. She’s right. It does. Mask on. Focus. Go. Don’t stop. Get out. But, at the last minute, I remembered that I should look for toilet paper. So I back tracked. And “blessed be the toilet paper.” (If you read The Handmaid’s Tale, you know.) There wasn’t a lot, but it was definitely there. Brand name, two ply, non lavender toilet paper. A freaking miracle. I was allowed to purchase two, but there was absolutely no way I was going to be THAT asshole. There was another woman in the aisle who was very excited about the toilet paper. And then it happened. This woman and I had a conversation about toilet paper right there, behind our masks, 6 feet away from one another, in the toilet paper aisle. I kid you not. This was my big moment of growth. Buying toilet paper while having a discussion about toilet paper with a stranger as I stood in front of a shelf of toilet paper. This cannot be what I take from my time in quarantine. This cannot be how I remember this time. But, it’s etched into my mind and it will absolutely be a moment that I don’t forget. We will ALL remember the toilet paper crisis we experienced during this time. There is no way around it. How fucking crazy is that? BUT…….I am also going to remember how good it feels to hear someone’s voice on the phone. I am going to remember how much I love the sound of quiet. I’m going to remember how much I enjoy watching my 17 year old bake. How much I love all the extra snuggles from my 11 year old. How my husband and I have learned to be more patient and kind to one another. To not seek outside of myself to nourish my soul. That I actually need very little to be content. That I am hilarious and make myself laugh out loud several times a day at the things that go on in my head. There’s so much good stuff in all of this. This time is truly a gift in strange wrapping. It’s incredibly inspiring to witness everyone adapt and adjust and keep moving forward.
Something a little different for the blog. A question for you. What will you remember most about this time. Good, bad or indifferent. There’s no wrong answer. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just honest.
What a difference a week makes. The dreams about using meth went away after I wrote about them. I love when that happens. They have been replaced with really weird dreams that probably should make me uncomfortable, but I can roll with most things. I won’t write about them here because you would probably judge me, but at least they are changing up the scenery a bit. And they give me something new to say “what the actual fuck” about. I’ll take anything new and exciting at this point. I hate to fill you in all things quarantine, but that’s the life we’re all living. I miss the beach. I miss seeing the sunrise. Technically the only thing stopping me from seeing the sunrise is my new tendency to sleep in. I should be really well rested when we get to the other side of this. I spent the entire winter hibernating. In my bed. In my bath. In my home. I worked, but I didn’t create new content, workshops or anything outside of my standard schedule. I felt good about it to. I said no to so many event invites. I rested and nourished my soul with zero guilt. Then one day, I was ready to reemerge into the world. I was ready to plan, create and live outside of my home. But the world said sit the fuck back down. And here we are. Sitting. I have a LOT of practice sitting. I have a lot of practice with being uncomfortable. I’m still not good at it, but I know how to do it. My heart goes out to those of you who don’t. But what a perfect time to learn. My week was much better because I felt useful. I found that “purpose” outside of my house and outside of myself that I was looking for. I created my first online writing course. It was so special to connect with a group in that way. To read their thoughts and feelings every day. To share tools that are so helpful to me. To see into their hearts and souls through their words. I see more of this in my future. Last night as I was lying in bed, the last thought (and maybe only thought) that went through my head was turning that embodied writing course into a real live studio class. The thought excited me. It’s been a minute since I have been really excited about anything other than eating. Yesterday, a question came up on social media that caught my attention. The question was “Did you pick one word to focus on this year and how do you feel about that word now?” My one word is expansion. It made me laugh. Then it made me think. It would certainly seem that this year has been the exact opposite of expansion. I’ve barely left my house. I haven’t expanded the studio to incorporate online classes. My circle has gotten even smaller as I have found that there are actually only a few people I wish to connect with regularly. But, here’s the beautiful thing. I have a real and true ‘knowing’ of who is important to me. I have a real and true ‘knowing’ of who I am important to. I actually feel closer to a few people in my life because of this distance. I suspect I am expanding in ways that I am not aware of yet, but will be so obvious to me by the end of the year. That’s an exciting thought. I feel closer to myself today. When I am in a funk, feeling depressed, feeling lonely, feeling all the unpleasant things, I am in need of connection. To myself. To my soul. To God, Spirit, Source, whatever you want to call it. I know this. I know this. I know this. And I always forget it. I got away from my meditation practice. I got away from my writing practice. Let me just throw it out there that I did not get away from my yoga practice, you know, in case my teacher reads this. Without taking time to be still every day, my soul doesn’t have an opportunity to tell me what it needs. Well, technically it does, but I can’t hear unless I am still. Everything is a practice right? I know you’ve heard me say that a bazillion times. “Discipline is the highest form of self love” runs through my mind a lot these days when I’m doing literally none of the practices that sustain me. But it’s not discipline is it? It’s devotion. Devotion to my higher self. Back to my cushion. Back to my journal. Back to nature. So simple. The funny part is that these are all things I taught in the writing course I created. I always teach the lessons I need. And then I’m surprised later when I realize that it was all about me. Every. Damn. Time. I’ll be eager to see which direction the roller coaster moves me this week. A nice, flat kiddie coaster would be cool, but I’ll roll with whatever comes.
This morning the family and I sheltered in the bathroom in preparation for a possible tornado. For 10 minutes. THAT was the most exciting thing that’s happened here in 4 weeks. And now it’s passed and we are fine. Back to trying to figure out how to fill our time. I miss teaching yoga. Not enough to teach online, but I do miss my people. I miss having purpose outside of this house. I am over it, over it, over it. But I’m doing it. We all are. I no longer feel like I “should be” doing anything other than living my life in any way that suits me. I am a bit less scattered these days. I have this cycle that I am incredibly aware of. Every other day is a “good” day. On a good day, I wake up and do all of the things that keep me connected, grounded and centered. Meditation. Writing. Yoga. Dance. And then, the very next day I do none of the things that I know will make me feel better. And I spend my day in my head and feeling like shit. It’s almost as if the good days take all of my energy and I need a day to do nothing and recover. Then I wake up determined to not feel like shit and I do ALL the things that I know work for me. I use my tools. Every. Other. Day. That’s my current cycle. I am one of the most mentally and emotionally healthy people I know. This still surprises me and probably always will, by the way, but it’s true. And I wonder, if I feel like this, how is everyone else REALLY doing? Because this shit is hard. Social media keeps us connected, but I’m over it. Zoom is great, and I could spend all of my time doing ALL of the Zoom things, but I don’t want to live there. In a virtual world. Sometimes I wonder if that’s going to be our new normal and if the world is going to pass me by because I won’t get on board. Two or three online commitments is my limit per week. If I go beyond that, it’s only because the “I should” has crept into my mind. Which is weird, because we all know I’m way cooler on the internet. And the dreams…..nightmares really. Something about this situation has triggered me into the days of my methamphetamine addiction. I am having using dreams. I haven’t used meth since I was 23 years old. And chances are, if you are someone I love, you are there with me. And it sucks. My heart breaks every night in my sleep. My guess is that the feelings and emotions this is bringing up is triggering a place in my body or mind that FEELS the same. Feelings of being stuck. That this will never end. That there’s no way out. When I am awake, my mind knows none of these things are true. I am safe. Not stuck. This really will pass. Right now, it’s just really intense and the dreams suck. And the weather sucks and HERE I am being the exact negative Nelly that I bitch about. Oh the irony. There is nothing to take the edge off. I don’t get to pop a pill, because I would pop 10. I don’t get to have a drink because I wouldn’t stop. No bong hits or whatever the weed smokers do these days. And I don’t want to. “Don’t get to” just means I choose not to. I learned a long time ago that nobody can stop me. I enjoy being fully present and alive. It’s just hard sometimes. That’s why I take so many baths. Baths are my go to for taking the edge off. And naps. I can usually sleep it off and what a blessing that is. It’s my super power. Yesterday was a good day, and if I get off my ass today really doesn’t have to suck. But I probably won’t. I did that yesterday. Today I get to wallow in my shit. The cycle makes me laugh because I KNOW how to remedy it. And really, maybe I am being a bit dramatic because even my bad days aren’t that bad. Maybe that’s what my dreams are here to remind me. My favorite quote ever is by Jon-Kabat Zinn. It’s the quote that has carried me through so much darkness. I share it constantly and today seems like a good time to share it again. “As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter what is wrong.” Today there is nothing “wrong.” This is just life. For all of us. We don’t have to like it. We just have to live it.
What an uncomfortable time to be alive. When I open social media, which is way too often these days, I see two types of people. The excessively grateful and the excessively pissy. The pissy ones are the ones arguing with everyone and posting nothing but doom and gloom. Arguing with everyone. I tend to fall on the excessively grateful side. Don’t get me wrong, I can be all kinds of pissy and I am at some point every day lately, I just don’t spread that out into the world. I keep it to myself, take it out on my yoga mat, put it in my journal and my husband gets more than his fair share of it. Sorry Leon. The world is stuck right now. What I see is that those of us who have a practice are getting through a little easier than those who don’t. When we actually practice. Which is proving to be a challenge for me. That’s why it’s called a practice, right? I’m completely off my schedule like the rest of the world I imagine. Staying up late and sleeping in. I miss my morning quiet time, before the world wakes up. Some days I set my alarm, but most days I don’t. Getting up early is one of those things I “should” be doing. My mind swims in the things I “should” be doing. I “should” be reading all those books on my shelf, and I am trying, but I’m just not into it. I have two books that I am currently working my way through, both by authors I know and love. And I hate both books. I’m sure it’s just me and the weird mood and lack of focus I’m experiencing. Maybe I just need some good fiction in my life. I “should” get my ass off social media because it’s a waste of time and since the studio is closed, I don’t have to promote my business. But, my friends live there and it keeps me connected. I unfollow and unfriend people constantly. The negative Nelly’s. Limiting screen time is on my list of things to do. It’s seriously right at the top of my intentions. I “should” be streaming online classes. I paid for a Zoom account and everything. But here’s the thing. I don’t want to. And I have some guilt about it. I feel bad about leaving my people high and dry, but the reality is that while yoga is absolutely essential, I am not. Anyone can lead people through an asana practice. Every teacher I know is streaming on Zoom. It might be the Rebel in me that is refusing, but my heart just isn’t in it. I could change my mind next week. Or even tomorrow. That’s what I’m noticing more than anything is the way my mind and emotions are all over the place. I know that’s not unique to me and we are all experiencing that. I’m just trying to be gentle with myself and the rest of you. All of this is showing me that I am judgmental AF. That’s my lesson this week, this month, this year and maybe this lifetime. I judge myself more than I am judging everyone else, but I catch myself doing that too and I have to stop and remind myself that we are all doing the best we can with what we have. I just wish some of y’all could do better…….lol. I “should” be writing. I “should” be doing my taxes, but now I have that extension, and if you know me, you know I’m not. I “should” be connecting to my community and leading everyone in group meditation because the world needs that right now. The list of things I should be doing goes on and on and here I am doing none of it. That’s where I am. Stuck. And I know it’s ok. I really do. I know I’m not alone in this. Every day is a new opportunity to practice. Practice moving forward through the stuck-ness. This feels a lot like early sobriety to me. The being unsure of what I’m supposed to be doing. The emotional rollercoaster. The uncertainty. The being uncomfortable. All of it. It’s not my favorite. But unlike early sobriety, I have the tools to navigate this. I can be uncomfortable. I can be uncertain. It’s about going back to basics. It’s about sitting with myself. Just sitting. Writing my way through it, which I will admit I haven’t done. I opened my journal yesterday and saw that I hadn’t written in it since March 10th. Which is craziness, but these are crazy times. And I wrote. No guilt over all the days that had gone by. I just poured my heart out onto the pages. Back to basics means that I might be taking two baths a day. Snuggling my boys. Netflix. I don’t even watch TV, but here I am on the Tiger King train(wreck). I even busted out the adult coloring book today. That took me way back. I’m getting by the best I can. I believe we all are. Whatever that looks like for each of us. I’m letting go of “should” and doing what works. Giving myself permission to just be. My heart hurts for the world. Some moments it overwhelms me. I am one of those excessively grateful people. I have to be. Gratitude carries me through. I can be mad, sad and all the things in between, as long as I bring it back to gratitude for all the things that are right in the world. Gratitude is my anchor. I see beauty on the other side of this. I’ll keep looking for the beauty in every day. I have everything I need plus all the extras for my comfort. I have my family and community for support and love and I have all the free time I could ever ask for. When I feel overwhelmed, I bring it back to this. Again and again.
Here’s a thing to know about me. I like it when things magically happens for me. When I don’t have to do any work and shit just gets done. Rarely does this happen, but that doesn’t stop me from hoping. I am currently waiting for this to happen with my taxes. When a warning light comes on in my car, I prefer for it to magically go off all on it’s own. I not only prefer it, I expect it. Sometimes it works out that way and sometimes it doesn’t. When I announced to my readers that I am writing a book, I fully expected that I would magically have the discipline to sit down at the same time everyday and write. Without distractions. This has not magically happened for me. YET. I’m still hopeful. I’m still writing. Just not with the magic discipline I had imagined. Certainly not with no distractions. You best believe that when I declared to the world I was going to get sober I had no doubt that it would just happen for me. Magically. Because that is my preferred way. I assure you it did not happen that way. I pick up a lot of new followers and friends on social media because of my sober status. Every time I post about sobriety, someone new reaches out to me to inquire about how it’s done. I know how it worked for ME so that is always where I start. I also know that there are many ways to the top of the mountain, so I share resources that might be helpful. I always give my time to the people who reach out for help. If the person is local it almost always ends with them asking me to go with them to a meeting so they don’t have to go alone. I always agree even though I rarely go to meetings anymore, because meetings are a great place to start. I know that first meeting is super scary. Here’s an interesting fact. I have gone to exactly zero meetings with the people who reach out and ask for help. Because, inevitably, something else comes up and they can’t make it. And I get it. I so get it. They know they have a problem, they kinda/sorta want to do something about it, but ultimately, they want it to happen for them. Magically. And I hope it does. I also know that as much as I want it to happen for me, my taxes aren’t going to get done unless I do them. My book isn’t going to get written unless I sit down and write it. The warning light on my car is a toss up. There’s a chance it actually could go off all on its own. Doubtful, but possible. For my readers out there waiting to magically get sober, I promise you it doesn’t happen. Ever. When I first arrived in the rooms of AA it wasn’t even because I had a problem with alcohol. It was strictly because the people around me had a problem with my alcohol use. I didn’t even try to get sober in the beginning. I drank on my way to meetings. I was in a meeting once and the person sharing made a reference to the bottles they used to hide in their active drinking days. I learned in that meeting that lots of “those people” hid their drinking. They hid bottles around the house so nobody would know they were drinking, or maybe just how much they were drinking. That knowledge changed my life. It was the most brilliant thing I had ever heard. Why hadn’t I thought of it? That knowledge changed my life because on that day I started to hide my drinking. That decision (if you can call it that) changed my life in awful ways. Seriously. Once I started to hide my drinking it made perfect sense to have a drink at 6 am. Why not? Nobody would know. It would be as if it didn’t happen. On those mornings I would hold my hand under the ice dispenser and catch the ice as it fell so it wouldn’t make noise hitting the glass. I would make breakfast and pack lunches while drinking bourbon. Those days all run together and none of them make sense. I do know that some of those mornings I would wake up and know that I had things to do and if I started drinking, I wouldn’t be able to do them. I started to understand the severity of the situation when I would promise myself I wouldn’t drink until 5 pm (or let’s call it 2 pm) but my hands would shake so badly that by 8 am, I was having a drink to make them stop. That’s when the fear set in for me. That’s when I really began to understand that no matter how much I wanted to wish myself sober it wasn’t going to happen. I was depressed and the alcohol was making that, along with everything else, worse. I felt like the biggest loser in the world. Really, who drinks so much that their body becomes addicted to alcohol and they have to drink in the morning to function?. How does this happen to a woman in her 30’s who has everything in the world that should make her life perfect? In my mind that kind of alcoholism was reserved for the people who lived under bridges and drank from brown paper bags. But in my heart, I knew what this was. And it terrified me. I had been addicted to “worse” things. So I thought. And I had beaten those addictions. But once I crossed that line with alcohol, and my body was physically addicted, it was the same horrible addiction as any other addiction I ever had to fight. And it took me down lower and lower for the next year and a half. There was no magical cure for me. I had to decide that I wanted to be sober more than I wanted to drink. That meant that I had to choose sobriety above all else. When things sucked, and everything does in early sobriety, I had to choose not to drink. I had to stop making excuses and show up every day ready to do the work. I had to stop expecting that I could latch onto someone who would make it easier for me. It’s lonely getting sober. (Latching on is a whole different set of issues.) We are all familiar with the term one day at a time, but it’s often more about one hour, one minute or one breath at a time. It’s a fucking battle some days. In the beginning, I would say it’s a battle most days. Being in contact with people who are in the midst of it and looking for a way out keeps it fresh for me. It is so much easier to be sober than it is to get sober. Getting sober is for the warriors who have the strength to say I want to live. I never expect the people who reach out to me to “get it” right away. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m not hopeful each and every time. Because I am. I just hope they get it before it’s too late. I’m here for anyone who reaches out.