Life is a beautiful practice

I took a solid 6 weeks off from writing on the blog.  On purpose.  Because I haven’t had time to be here. Or, I guess I should say that it hasn’t been a priority. But don’t you worry, I’ve been busy writing in my journals.  All 23 of them.  LOL  That “might” be a stretch, but those of you who journal will totally get that.  I have a journal for everything.  My mind is a busy place.  For the past 6 weeks I have been practicing Ashtanga Yoga in Wilmington.  If you know me you KNOW because I will take any opportunity I can to talk about it.  I wrote about my plan to check it out in my last post.  Right here.  I really wasn’t sure I would love it.  But, because I am me, there was a 50/50 chance.  Love or hate.  No in between.  As it turns out, I can add it to the list of things I LOVE.  Isn’t it great how the things we need come to us at the perfect time.  If we are open and paying attention.  How could I not love a tradition that honors the natural cycles of the moon as well as the natural cycles women’s bodies?  In Ashtanga there is no practice on full moon and new moon days.  And then there’s “Lady’s Holiday.”  Not what I would have called it, but definitely a time that I don’t want to be on my mat twisting deeply and locking my mula bandha. I had an aversion to taking this holiday for about two minutes.  Because it seemed like taking the easy out. Which is weird because I constantly tell my students to honor their bodies. I have a yoga period story that I won’t share here, but it helped me in making the decision to take the days off. That and a 5 am text to my new teacher asking what he recommended in that situation. That wasn’t awkward at all. 😂 For the record, he recommended that I honor my body and take the time off. I am learning to do just that.  Slowly.  I thought I had the honoring my body and being gentle with myself part down, but the things that go on in my head at times, make it clear to me that I’m not there yet. It’s also obvious to me that I have come so far.  I’m not my own worst enemy anymore.  Not on a daily basis anyway.  I’m learning to step onto my mat and let go of expectations.  Some days my body pleasantly surprises me and other days it’s like WTF? I’m not the strongest person in the shala where I practice.  I’m not the “best” if there is such a thing.  (*hint* There’s not such a thing) Some days I fall out of headstand. Headstand. Really.  I haven’t yet completely learned the sequence in such a way that I don’t have to stop and think about it.  I still forget poses in the sequence.  I don’t have the opening and closing chants memorized yet. I haven’t yet learned all of the Sanskrit names of the poses. My brain is still busy for at least the first half of my practice. I can’t fully do some of the poses.  But none of that matters.  I have found a practice for ME.  I get to be a beginner.  I get to learn and grow. I get to show up for me.  I come home to myself every time I step on my mat. I am learning the importance of slow and steady and I am reminded of progress not perfection every single time I enter the shala door.   And I am grateful.  My teacher is one of only two authorized Ashtanga teachers in all of North Carolina. His shala is only 45 minutes away.  How awesome is that?  Today I woke up at 4:30 so I could practice in the shala at 6:30.  It was 1000 degrees and so humid that the concrete floor was slick with condensation.  I loved every minute of “trying not to die.”  I can do hard things.  I can do the hard things until they become easier.  On the mat and off of the mat.  Yoga Sutra 2.46 Sthira sukham asanam –  Asana is steady and comfortable.  Learning to find steadiness and ease in the challenging poses on my mat is where it all starts.  I can take that out into the world and into my life finding steadiness and ease in the most challenging times.  Life is FULL of challenging situations. Life is a beautiful practice. Yoga teaches me so much. 

Be Still and Know

I tend to live my life in a perpetual state of what’s next.  I had an Akashic reading recently.  If you are unfamiliar, you can read about Akashic Records here.  During the reading I asked my guides what lesson my soul is here to learn. I promise, I was expecting an earth shattering discovery.  My answer was anything but. The answer pissed me off.  And made me laugh.  Patience.  My soul is on this Earth to learn patience. I mean, who the fuck doesn’t want to learn patience?!    It got a bit better when my guides told me that I should also know that my intuition is one of my greatest gifts and I shouldn’t let my head get in the way of what my heart knows.   The reading was 90 minutes.  I can sum it up here in four words.  “Be still and Know.”  Not sure I needed the reading for that, but it’s always a good reminder.  I have a tendency to want to move on to the next thing.  I will love a thing and love it and love it some more.  Until I don’t.  Then I’m done.  My husband is thrilled that I have stuck with “The yoga thing.”  The “yoga thing” is what centers me.  It’s not going anywhere. In fact, it could be that I’ve outgrown being either all in or all out. I’ll have to take a deeper look at that.  Yoga has definitely opened me up to a world of things to fall in love with.  Things I hated in the beginning.  Dancing and Kirtan being at the top of the list.  But, you may remember, I also hated yoga in the beginning.  For a LONG time.  We all know how that story goes.  So what’s next? Retreats. I have plans for several women’s retreats. A Recovery retreat and a Rebel Soul Sister Retreat. What’s next might also be school. Real school. I have been sitting with that for quite a while now and I still haven’t committed. Maybe putting it here on the blog will give me a push.  Sometimes things take me a few years.  Sometimes they happen overnight.  What’s next could be writing a book.  That one has been on my mind far longer than school.  At one point I was sure this would be the year. Both of those things terrify the shit out of me for very different reasons.  I know I’m capable of doing either of those things. Fear doesn’t stop me from doing things. Just waiting for the nudge. The big one that I can’t ignore. For right now, my what’s next is as simple as a new practice.  Ashtanga Yoga.  Ashtanga is a beautiful and challenging practice that I have been interested in for years.  I have never practiced due to a lack local teachers.  At yoga church last week, my teacher mentioned that she was taking an Ashtanga workshop. That opened up a conversation about the practice. That same evening, a friend commented on one of my FB posts and mentioned a Shala in Wilmington. Shala implies Ashtanga. So I went to Google and sure enough there’s a Shala in Wilmington. Apparently, it’s been there for years but completely off my radar. I immediately emailed the place and talked to the teacher. I made a plan to start this week. Then, as if I needed confirmation that I’m supposed to go, an Ashtanga yogi came to my class yesterday. She’s the only person I know who practices Ashtanga. She rarely comes to my classes and when she does, it’s clear that I’m not really teaching her anything. I love to watch her practice. So strong and beautiful! Having her there yesterday was an extra nudge from the Universe. I am excited to learn more about this practice and as weird as it sounds, I am excited about the discipline involved with it.  Those who know me, KNOW how excited I get. This is something I am super excited about. As of late I feel a bit off center and ungrounded.  Ashtanga is a daily commitment to come to my mat in a new way.  It will take my “morning practice” to a whole new level.  Chances are I will hate it.  😂  Yoga is moving meditation for me.  An opportunity to still my mind and tune into my body.  An opportunity to “be still and know.”  Whatever is next is definitely coming.  I will know what it is when the time is right and I will embrace it.   I will embrace the shit out of it, like I do. For now, I am getting a lesson in patience by resting in the “in between” and simply enjoying where I am.  Maybe that’s what the Akashic reading was about.  And really, what’s not to enjoy? 

Tattoos and Freedom

EE8BD19E-0227-4798-A822-E9462D48AF13Tattoos tell a story.  Ask anyone about their tattoos and you will likely hear the story of their life, or at the very least a very personal piece of their “story.”  I got my first tattoo when I was 21.  The tattoo that will forever be known as the tramp stamp.  Which is total bullshit, but whatever.  The low back tattoo that every girl my age got in the 90’s.  I wanted to get tattooed as soon as I turned 18, but I spent a few years getting pierced instead and waited for the desire to pass.  It didn’t pass.  I had that one tattoo for years and years without ever needing or wanting another one.  But then I fell in a hole.  A hole I couldn’t climb out of.  I have lots of mantras tattooed on my skin.  Those mantras helped me climb out of the hole and truly represent what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now.  It goes like this.  Once upon a time, I was a raging, hot mess.  I was hopeless.  Hopeless is the worst feeling in the world and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  I had been exposed to the words hope and faith quite a bit in AA meetings.  I wasn’t sober and I had neither hope nor faith in my life.  I was also attending group therapy.  Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  To treat my Borderline Personality Disorder that I don’t actually have.  Being Borderline was better to me than claiming alcoholism and having to give up drinking.  I rocked that Borderline Personality Disorder too.  I owned the shirts and I wore the awareness bracelet.  I gave a face to Borderline, “normalizing” it, much like I do today with addiction and recovery.  And, I got to keep drinking.  The best part of the whole deal.  But, I was dying inside.  Failing at life in every possible way.  Even my liver was struggling.  Every day I would tell myself that today I won’t drink and then every day, usually before 8 am, I would be drinking.  I HAD to.  It was the only way to keep my body from shaking.  Every day was the same and every day was awful.   I was reading a self help article about Borderline Personality Disorder when I came across the acronym for Hope. Hold On Pain Ends.  I fell in love with that idea and knew I needed to carry that with me.  My first mantra tattoo.  I really don’t remember getting it.  Most of those first tattoos blend together in a gray kind of memory.  But there it was.  On my hand where I couldn’t miss it and was reminded constantly that I could get through this.  I was able to get clean from methamphetamine addiction.  Nothing could possibly be harder than that.  That’s what I told myself.  I have since learned that addiction is addiction and it’s ALL hard.  I was going to AA meetings regularly, although I still wasn’t sober.  I was starting to like the idea of being sober.  I kept thinking one day I would be ready and I would just stop drinking.  At this stage of the game I was having little spurts of “sobriety.” Or, rather, I was managing a few days in between being drunk.  Or, maybe I was just waiting until 5:00.  Again, it’s such a blur.  AA people use the term One Day at a Time.  I always hated that term because I knew it was bullshit.  I knew if I committed to a sober life it meant every day for the rest of my life.  I was seeing a therapist who was teaching me about mindfulness.  She kind of, sort of convinced me that it simply meant living in the moment.  I could live with that.  My second mantra tattoo is on my foot.  One Step at a TIme.  That’s how I was going to dig myself out of the hole.  I am fairly certain I wasn’t drinking the day I got that tattoo and I probably thought I was done with alcohol.  I assure you, I wasn’t done.  On another day I was in my therapists office freaking out about something. That was a common occurrence.  I had been drinking before therapy.  Another common occurence.  She always knew when I had been drinking.  Most people didn’t notice strictly because it was my norm.    I am sure she yelled at me a bit because that’s who she is.  Then she taught me about a practice called “calm abiding.” Calm abiding is a Buddhist practice of stilling the mind of any thought that might arise.  I promise you I wasn’t able to reach the place of calm abiding, but I fell in love with the concept and knew that’s what I needed in my life.  I left her office and went straight to the tattoo shop and got the word Calm tattooed on the topside of my wrist.  Not sure why I didn’t throw in abiding, but there must have been a reason.  It’s on my right wrist near my hope tattoo to remind me to be calm and have hope.   Not long after that tattoo healed, I was leaving my house to go somewhere, who knows where, and my husband told me to try not to come home with any tattoos.  I am sure it wasn’t my intention to get tattooed that day, but those words lit me up.  It sounded a lot like he was telling me not to do a thing.  In my mind, on that day, it meant I had to get two tattoos.  What I recall about that incident is that it started at a local gas station.  The gas station was right beside the tattoo shop.  I went inside and bought a cup of ice and a can of ginger ale.  I came out to my car, where my 1/2 gallon bottle of bourbon was, and mixed myself a drink.  As I was mixing the drink there was a knock on my window.  I looked up to see a woman I knew from AA.  In my mind she was a sober woman.  In reality, she was anything but.  She was struggling like I was struggling.  I had no idea.  She got in the car with me and offered up Valium and Xanax.  I hadn’t taken pills or any other drugs in years, but I didn’t hesitate for a second.  I don’t know what you know about mixing pills and alcohol, but I can assure you, it’s not good.  There is not one memory after that, but the two tattoos I got that day are the words “Forgive” and “Love.”  Forgive faces away from me, in such a way that I can hold my wrist out and ask forgiveness.  I found it easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission in those days.  “Love” must have been for me. I am sure I wanted to feel love or feel loved or just feel lovable.   I was quite unlovable that day.  I was quite unlovable for a long time.  That was the longest day that I don’t remember.   It’s weird the few things we do remember in those black outs or brown outs.  I remember calling my therapist and yelling at her.  I was in the parking lot of the hospital wearing one of my shirts that identified me as borderline and realizing that this made me look crazy.  I was yelling at her for giving me that label and more than anything for not calling me out on wearing the shirt.  Then I woke up in the hospital room.  There was a security guard outside of my room and the nurses told me they didn’t know what I had done, but I must have done something bad.  They monitored me and they let me go because it’s frustrating trying to treat a drunk person who doesn’t want help.  I remember leaving the hospital and walking through the parking lot.  I remember the security guards but I can’t remember exactly what they said to me.  I do remember that it enraged me and I screamed obscenities  at them until they tasered me.  I woke up in the hospital room again.  This time I didn’t have a security guard.  This time I had “a watcher.”  The person they place outside of your room to watch and make sure you don’t kill yourself.  I must have told them I was going to kill myself or someone else while I was blacked out. I was “a danger to myself and others.”   I stayed there for three days, refusing food and anything else they offered me.  I was eventually moved to a psychiatric hospital.  Every morning in this hospital it was my job to wake up and talk to the Dr on staff and try to convince him that I wasn’t actually mentally unstable.  Unfortunately, my actions proved that I was mentally unstable.  Also, every other person in the hospital was trying to convince the Dr of the same thing.  Some of them had serious mental health issues.  A scary situation that lasted way longer than I wanted it to.  Eventually I was released into a treatment center and almost got sober.  But I didn’t.  I was back with my therapist and back in my DBT group.  My therapist was pushing yoga on me and teaching me weird things, like how to breathe.  I couldn’t breathe.  I hated the breathing part of yoga because I felt like the more I was instructed to focus on my breath, the more I couldn’t breathe.  It was awful and I clearly needed a Breathe tattoo to help me.  I could no longer go to the same place where I had previously been tattooed because my husband made it clear to the tattoo artist that it would NOT be ok to tattoo a drunk me again.  I want to say I was sober when I went for the breathe tattoo, but I was not.  Had I been sober, I might have thought to put it in a place where I could see it.  Instead, it went on the back of my arm, just above my elbow.  It happens to be great for people who are standing behind me.   I am happy to report that the Breathe tattoo is the last drunk tattoo I have.  A few more psychiatric hospitals and a couple more treatment centers where I finally decided I had had enough Hell and it was time to do something different.  I’ve been living sober for 5 years now and when I get a tattoo, the whole process has more meaning.  My first sober tattoo was “Let it be.”   Obviously I would let it go if I could right?   When I let it be, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother me or still exist, it just means that I don’t have to let it control me.  Whatever ‘it’ is.   My next sober tattoo was ‘Learn.”  The intention there is to remind me to look for the lesson.  The short form or “what the fuck am I supposed to learn from this?”  So interesting that after I got that tattoo, I started learning more than I ever imagined about my past.  Repressed memories came back and I learned how to deal with that.  I am still learning every day in every way.  and I know that won’t ever stop.  The memories have stopped.  At least for now.  Maybe I am done with that.  Time will tell.   My last two tattoos are my favorites.  At least they are my current favorites.  I have a little Tt “element” tattoo on my forearm that identifies me as a Tee-totalar.  This one is not at all original. It’s a movement.  A community of people choosing to not be anonymous and recover “out loud.”  I love being a part of a community that identifies in this way. I find it’s much better than wearing a Borderline Personality Shirt and identifying in that way.  On New Year’s Eve I got my most recent tattoo.  It’s a representation of where I am at this moment in my life.  “Free.” Along with the word, are little birds flying free.  I love it so much.   I have found freedom that I never knew was possible.  Freedom to be me, whatever that is in each moment.  Comfortable in my skin more often than not, and able to deal with being uncomfortable when that happens.  There’s a special kind of freedom that comes from living through Hell and coming out the other side.  That freedom shows up as gratitude and joy for my life.  It shows up when I catch myself dancing to the music at the grocery store.  

*photo by Ed Speas*

Beautiful, Brave, Badass

I’ve been avoiding this space for almost an entire month.  I have been busy filling my time with things other than being still.   I’ve missed blogging and thought about it almost daily.   I just haven’t quite been able to sit down with my laptop.   Last night I went to the big city of Wilmington for Ecstatic Dance.  So.  Much.  Fun.  While I was there, I met a woman who said she knew me.  Our mutual friend told her she knew me because I am FaceBook famous.  FaceBook famous is our joke.  This woman said no, she knew me from reading my blog.  Her therapist had sent it to her and told her she should read it.  She told me how she knows EVERTHING about me now, which was weird and awesome all at the same time. She said she loves my blog.   That was the final push I needed to get my ass back here.  I love it here.  The last time I was here I shared that I was finished with therapy.  I’m sure I called it being kicked out of the nest, because that’s how it felt.    It took me a day or two to get over that, but I’m ok. I have all the tools I need.  My therapist was right about that.   That push may have been exactly what I needed to do the work I had been avoiding with her.  I work best alone, but I also want someone to check in with.  I still have that support system in a million different ways.  The first thing I did was sit on my dock and journal all the feels of “being alone.”  Which I’m definitely not.   Then I decided the time had come for me to be an artist.  I went to Pinterest to compile a list of all the things I would need to start an art journal.  The next morning I went shopping.  And just like that, I AM an artist.  Most of you saw the photos on FB, because you can’t be FB famous if you aren’t posting there.  I spent that entire weekend with my head down and ALL IN some art journaling.  I’m so grateful that I worked through The Artist’s Way last year, because it really made it ok for me to just do my thing and not judge my work.  Honestly, I art like a 5 year old, but I am totally OK with it.  I spent that weekend doing the thing that I wouldn’t do in therapy.  Writing my trauma story.  It was awful and I hated it, but it’s just what happened on those pages.  I didn’t buy the journal and art supplies with that intention at all.   Once that came up, it wouldn’t stop.  The beauty of the art journal was that I immediately painted over those awful words.  I covered up those horrible things that I never want to see again.  Not that I covered it up to make it look pretty, because that’s not where I was in that process.  The act of writing it was huge and something I have avoided since I started dealing with repressed memories resurfacing.  It was huge because once I started, it just flowed so fast and wouldn’t stop.  I could have left the words in the journal, uncovered, but what would be the point in owning all those art supplies?  I can’t quite express how it made me feel to be all up in the art process, but I think that’s why art exists.  To express what we can’t put into words. Those pages of paint are exactly that. It was so powerful and so cathartic. Brave. I felt brave sitting through all those emotions as I worked in my art journal.  I felt like a beautiful, brave, bad ass.   I knew I was going to be crafty, but who knew I was going to be an artist?  😉  That’s a new tool for me and I am loving it.  After a weekend of intense writing in that journal, I ended the process with a Monday morning dance party in the studio.  Such a wonderful  way to move through the emotions of the weekend.  When I left the studio that morning I felt so much lighter. I’ve been back in the art journal a few times since then and have every intention of sticking with it.  The thing about writing a “trauma story” is that it triggers new memories that I get to process.  But it’s not all gloom and doom. Some of those pages are pure joy.  I just show up to the pages exactly as I am and then it somehow all sorts itself out.  Some days I don’t know until it’s on the page.  It’s so different than anything I’ve done before. I definitely see the value in it.  But it’s messy and not as quick to access or clean up as a journal. I can write anywhere, anytime. And I do.  I haven’t had a healing session of any kind for almost three weeks, which is unheard of for me, but guess what?  I feel great and I don’t need a thing. Well, I probably DO need a massage and since March is here, I know I have some energy work and “woo woo” appointmens on my schedule.  Oh.  And there was that Shamanic Journey I went on with Roger the Shaman today.  🙂   I have my meditation practice, I practice yoga, I write, I dance, I take ALL the baths.  I go to meetings. I have moon circles and women’s circles of every kind.   I was asked to be the speaker at an AA meeting this month and that’s the ONLY thing affecting my mental health. I have anxiety about it already. Oh the irony. My mental health game is strong and if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have left therapy.  I know it was time. And now my Wednesdays are open for giant Goddess lunches and cacao ceremonies with circle dancing on the beach.  I know how to fill a void. Believe that. I know how to fill it with beautiful and loving things today. ♥️

So Grown

I keep sitting down to write and then deciding that I don’t want to share my feelings with the world.  I have been in protection mode lately.  Protecting my heart.  I am ready today.  These past couple of weeks have been so full of growth for me.  I spent a weekend at a women’s retreat.   I had been looking forward to this retreat for months.   I was the first person to register when tickets went on sale.  I was so excited about the whole experience.  It began on Friday evening with a cacao ceremony and Qoya.  How could that not be fabulous?  And it was.  One of my favorite friends was there with me for the weekend and she experienced these two things for the first time.  I loved being there to share that with her.  A Qoya class has 13 pillars.  One of them is dancing with your shadow aspect.  Embracing rather than repressing our humanness.  I found myself triggered in this piece and had a difficult time integrating my light back in.  We left the studio at 9:15 that night and went to the Airbnb we rented for the weekend.  I was up until almost 11.  One would think that’s no big deal, but one would be wrong.  I woke up Saturday morning already tired before we started our day with a 7:30 am yoga class.  I don’t function well when I’m tired.  I’m like a 5 year when it comes to sleep (and food).  I was irritated and I began to close off and shut down. My intention for the weekend had been to remain open and be a part of.  I was so looking forward to being a part of rather than leading.  I was there, I was in it, but I was resisting every thing about the weekend. Partly because I wasn’t in control.  Maybe fully because I wasn’t in control. I found myself being judgemental toward myself and toward the whole experience.  The things I normally love, I had an aversion to.  So. Fucking. Weird.  But at the same time, the experience was beautiful and just what I needed.  How much sense does that make?  The entire weekend I was acutely aware of my shadow aspect.  The fear, the judgement, the insecurity, the anger the need to control and my lack of trust.  All of it showed up and stayed with me.   I showed up and stayed with all of it.  I lived and I learned and I met a bunch of amazing women.  I processed the experience for a week.  It’s a sacred act to sit in circle with women you don’t know and be open and real and vulnerable.  I see women do this in my circles all the time and they are my heroes.  I thought I was ready and I would be WIDE open, but that’s not how my weekend went.  I was disappointed in myself.  It’s still difficult for me allow myself to be seen and heard.  I was in my comfort zone of a circle of women, but out of my comfort zone by not being in charge.  It’s a control and trust thing that I obviously need to work on.  And I will.  Possibly forever.  That was two weeks ago.  This week the growth is still coming.  I went to therapy (for the last time?) on Wednesday.  My therapist let me know that if I was going to keep coming into her office, she needed to feel as though she was being of service to me.  And she no longer does.  What this means is that I am making good choices, I’m processing my own shit, I have no super secret life on the side and I am SO FUCKING GROWN.  I got kicked out of the nest.  It happened so fast.  I think we both knew it was time, but she is better at assertive and saying what needs to be said than I am.  So she said it.  And I rolled with it because I trust her.  But, I was super sad when I left her office and scared that now something horrible is going to pop up that I can’t handle and there I’ll be, alone in the world.  We ALL know this isn’t true, and I’m not alone, but it’s how I felt.  Now that I have had a few days to sit with that, I’m OK. I’m learning more about my need to cling and how it doesn’t serve me.  More space has been created in my life and the good things will flow in and fill that gap.  I do not doubt that at all.  Now I wait.  Patiently.  Without clinging.   Remember that time I choose the word ALLOW for my “One Word?”  I’m putting that into practice on so many levels.

Letting go

Ahhhhhhhh! I am out of the weird ass moon energy and back on top. Where I like to be. One  might think that after two years of living in sync with the moon cycles, tuning into them and paying attention, I wouldn’t be so surprised or knocked on my ass by a big super moon eclipse. One would be wrong about that. Because whoa.  I know I wasn’t alone in that. I heard it at my moon circle from other women. I saw people freaking out on social media.  I felt it in my soul.  Lost. Lonely. Off.  How fortunate that I have so many practices to keep me “sane,” and so many friends to keep me grounded.  When I remember to lean on those supports. I’m out of my bathtub now and living in the big world again.  It feels great. When I wrote my Sunday blog, I said that my week had been uneventful. That wasn’t entirely true. Last week a 7 year relationship with a very dear friend switched gears. I would say we are finished being friends, but that is a bit extreme. Our roles in each other’s lives have changed dramatically and I’ll be way less involved with this person and vice versa. It sucked and made me sad during an already (overly) emotional time.  After years of knowing this needed to happen, my heart and my head were finally in alignment at the same time. The moon???  After a long conversation with my friend, the letting go happened.  Just like that. It needed to happen so my soul can grow in other directions.  This doesn’t make it hurt less.  I know that “when we let go of the things that no longer serve us, we create space in our lives for that which inspires us.”  We create space for growth and joy and life. I know this. I teach this.  Somehow, I’ve been forgetting to live this.  For years…..That letting go left me feeling more lonely and more lost….but I sat with it. I sat with not feeling centered and not feeling OK.   I sat with lonely and lost. I set an intention for the feelings of Calm Abiding to wash over me and hold me.   Taking it back to basics and knowing that this is the soil I need to be rooted in so I can grow.  I’m growing. On Monday afternoon I connected with a friend in Wilmington.   We hadn’t seen each other in a year or more. She and I did yoga teacher training together. Anyone who knows that life knows it’s a true bonding experience. We had lunch and talked about our teacher training experience, among other things. Life things. I mentioned that I might want to write my own Yoga Alliance program and become “a school” to lead teacher trainings. As it happens, my friend has done that and IS able to lead teacher trainings.  She said she wasn’t feeling quite ready to do it on her own.  We briefly discussed the possibility of doing it together but made no plan. We finished lunch and headed out.  On my hour long drive home, I let the thought roll around in my head. I pictured what it would look like and how it would feel to lead a teacher training with her. By the time I got home I KNEW. I knew it would be intense. I knew it would be a learning experience. I knew it would be fun.  Guess who loves intense?  Guess who loves to learn? Guess who loves fun?  This girl does!  All the details will be available soon as we are just starting to put our heads together.  I can tell you that it’s coming in April. A 3 1/2 week immersion.  Yoga for Inner Peace. It is in complete alignment with who I am and what I teach.  Our special focus will be “Nurturing the Inner Self.” A beautiful co-creation.  I am so excited!   Once again, I am amazed at how quickly the Universe responds when I get out of my own way.   I AM connected and divinely guided.

Dream World

 I published a post on Wednesday that touched a lot of people in a lot of ways.  It became clear that I am not alone in feeling lonely.  It became clear that perhaps I was throwing a little shade.  It became clear that I was blaming others for my hurt feelings.  It became clear that people have a desire to “fix” me when I am feeling less than joyful.  All of these things are fine. I’m down to do the work I need to do around my hurt feelings and shade throwing.  We all have a shadow side.  It’s not a problem unless we deny it.  I know some shit. I show up and write what’s in my heart and on my mind.  Not what I think people need to know.   I love that people read my words and FEEL.  What they do with those feelings is completely out of my control.  There is FREEDOM in that.  I am not here to hurt feelings.  Ever.  I am not here to be fixed.  This is my space.  I appreciate everyone who takes time to read my words.  What you do with that is NOT my business.  I am thrilled some of you have therapists.  I am NOT a therapist.  My therapist has reminded me of that a time or two. Or three. 🤣   I wrote my last blog right before a therapy session. The one about loneliness.  Something magical happened in that.  I named it, claimed it and tamed it. I am sure we talked about those feelings.  I don’t even remember now.   And life went the fuck on.  As it has a tendency to do.  My week was uneventful, but here I am sharing my uneventful week anyway.  Because it’s Sunday and it seems like the thing to do. I  journaled more than a 13 year old girl this week.  Most weeks really, if I’m honest. I’ve just switched up my journaling routine from morning to night. Holy Shit! It’s like another world.  Night time journaling  has opened up some portal into my dream world where a lot of serious action is taking place.   This week (in my waking hours) I spent some time trying to decide if AA is still my path.  I sit in those meetings some days and laugh at how weird it all is. Not that I am opposed to doing weird shit.  I do plenty of it.   The topic of quality vs quantity comes up from time to time in meetings.  I live in an area where most of the population is retired.  In the sober community, that means I am in meetings with people much older than me with a lot more sober time than me.  And yet some of them are still so miserable. Miserable could be a stretch, but there are a lot of them who still haven’t figured out how to be happy, joyous and FREE.  They have quantity, but are clearly lacking quality.  I am not lacking in quality.  After 5 years I am still not comfortable sitting in a meeting and sharing openly. It’s something I rarely do. Maybe if I got past that I would feel a shift in my attitude.  I don’t know.   There are lots of people I love in AA, but the meetings, not so much.  And I wonder……..  AA was a great place for me to get sober.  The 12 steps were a beautiful launch pad out into a much bigger spiritual world.  But does it still belong in my life?  My AA friends will say it absolutely does belong in my life, and perhaps I just need to switch my meetings up.  This week as I was rolling that around in my head, NOT going to meetings and night time journaling about it my dreams came at me.  Alcoholics have “drinking dreams.”  I am not sure if people who don’t have a problem with alcohol have those or not, but I am guessing not.  I dreamed that I sent my husband to the store to buy me a bottle of bourbon.  He asked if a pint would do and of course, it would not.  I would need at least a fifth.  In real life a half gallon would have been called for, but anything can happen in the dream world. He then asked why I was still going to those meetings if I am still drinking.  I wasn’t exactly sure why.  I just knew it was what I do.  He asked me if I planned to pick up a white chip.  A white chip means surrendering and choosing to live a sober life.  The start of the journey.  Basically, a white chip would mean I had to start over at day one.  I don’t do white chips. I was always one to bedazzle mine. Another story for another time. Dream me said a big Fuck NO to him about picking up a white chip because although I was drinking, I wasn’t getting drunk.  In my mind, there was no reason to pick up a white chip.  I can rationalize anything,  Even in my dreams.  Drinking dreams suck. I know this one came from all of my recent questioning. These questions aren’t really new to me.  I have spent the better part of a year wondering if I I want to continue going to meetings. I don’t have to figure it out today and chances are, I’ll be drinking coffee with old men at least one day this week.  Maybe that is the solution.  The real movement and processing that’s happened in my dream world this week has been in the form of my little sister.  Who doesn’t exist.  But she exists in my dreams and I KNOW that she is me.  Little me.  All thanks to going back and taking another stab at inner child healing.  And night time journaling.  I tend to go hard at Inner child healing (like I go hard at everything I do) but when I touch on something painful, I stop.  After seeing the group that’s working through this process in my studio, I decided to take another crack at it.  I love watching the women in the group connect and grow.  I can SEE how much this group is helping them heal. I also know  that the group in the studio wasn’t the time or place for me. But, I definitely see the value in it and KNOW it’s something I want to keep at.  I bought the book they are using and I enlisted a far away friend to work through the book with me.  We connect weekly and discuss.  I have my therapist to help me process what comes up and she has hers. (Although hers sucks and she needs  a new one)   I know it’s going to take us a little longer to get through the book, but it seems safe and comfortable to me and my inner child.   She needs that.  I won’t be blogging about those dreams, but they are powerful.  Powerful and private.  THAT is what it’s like to pay attention to my inner child. I’m learning to listen to her more and more.  When I use that term inner child, I know there are tons of them, pieces of me that I haven’t connected to yet.  But I’m getting closer every day.  Yesterday I taught my 8 am class how to chant “fuuuuuuck.”  It might have been my greatest teaching moment ever. Pretty sure that was my inner 15 year old Rebel girl. I know her well. 😂

Hiding from the world.

We are well into Janauary and this is my first blog.  I think I’m hiding from the world.  In my bathtub.  I have been avoiding the process of sitting down to write out of fear of sounding like a whiny baby.  But whatever.  I have been in a weird space since 2019 started.  I know I won’t stay stuck in it, but I have also learned to honor my now and allow myself to be where I am.  I’ll tell you where I am.  Lonely.  I am in a perpetual state of loneliness. Not sad. Not depressed. Just lonely.   I’m surrounded by a tribe of amazing people in all of my communities from home and outward into the real world as well as the virtual world.  It would seem lonely isn’t something I “should” ever feel.  See those quotations around “should?”  That’s because I do know should is a bullshit word and my feelings are valid.  So there’s that.  It seems the more connected I am, the more alone I feel.  My brain knows that I am NOT alone.  My heart is learning that not all of my relationships are real.  I am a sensitive soul and lately my feelings are getting hurt left and right.  I’m not exactly sure what that’s about, but I suspect it has a lot to do with actually paying attention to my feelings.  That’s therapy working.  As of late it’s becoming clear to me that some people want to be around me because they think I can do something for them.  Add to their status or popularity.  And it hurts my feelings.  That seems childish as I read it, but I’m also someone who is learning to tune in and pay attention to my inner child. Again, valid.  It’s not such a big deal when it comes from someone I don’t know that well, but when it comes from someone I love, it sucks.   What hurts worse is when someone who IS my friend and I know loves me blindsides me with a passive aggressive comment about my happy life.  I imagine that happens to everyone?  Jealousy?  Envy?  Those words are hard to say and sound harsh, but I can’t find any other words that seem right.  Yesterday I saw my favorite Woo Woo Witch Healer and she informed me that it hurts because it’s opening an old wound that hasn’t fully healed.  The wound of being used? Or jealous people?   I’ll have to dive into my journal on that one, but I have no doubt she’s right.  I learned from trauma informed yoga training that “if it’s hysterical, it’s historical.”  If something is triggering us today, it is coming from our past.  It seems I will never run out of “work” to do on myself.  Soul Detective work. I have put a lot of energy into building a loving and supportive community for myself.  In the early days I called this Team Shannon.  I still have my team. I have come full circle in that area and now I get to be on other people’s teams.  Cheering them on and supporting them.  I find that to be meaningful “work.”  I love to see others succeed.  Seems everyone doesn’t feel that same way.  Lately the word “discernment” has been appearing in my life on repeat.  This is the lesson I am getting hit with hard this January.  Learning how to discern my circle.  I have never been that person who needs everyone to like me.  In fact, I have been the opposite.  Quite content to push people away.  That’s the exact reason I don’t have many friends from my childhood or even my life pre-sobriety. I never learned how to build healthy relationships.  Sobriety has given me that gift.  Sobriety and a spiritual path.  I don’t need everyone’s love and friendship.  I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me.  I’m just trying to figure out who gets to sit at my table.  I also know that when I am feeling lonely, it’s the time I most need to be alone.  The Divine is present within me and I am NEVER alone. And there it is.  There’s my aha moment right there.  THAT is the connection I am seeking.  Funny how putting my thoughts down in a blog can bring me clarity that a journal can’t always bring me to. Beautiful. And now I’ll just be over here, practicing discernment, connecting with a power greater than myself and finding my way.

Allow

In 2018 I chose the word “learn” as my one word mantra.  This has been my year to learn on so many levels.  With all of that learning came a lot of leveling up.  This was my year of cacao, kirtan and dancing.  Opening my heart more, connecting to something greater than myself and being FREE.   This was my year of the inner child.  Listening to her and helping her feel safe.   This was my writing year. So.  Much. Writing.  A year of finding my voice. A work in progress, but I have made giant leaps.  This has been a year of healing old wounds. An ongoing process I am sure.  This is the year I learned that I am an artist simply because I allow the creator to create through me.  I am always creating.  This was my year of connection and community.  I have a full understanding of how important community really is.  This is the year I learned to truly get out of my own way and stop doubting myself all the time.  My year of listening to my intuition which doesn’t seem to steer me wrong.  This is the year I allowed myself to show up and be seen in my ALL of it.  This has been a powerful year full of learning and lessons simply because I was paying attention.   A year of soul growth.  The year my faith grew by leaps and bounds.  A beautiful year.  A difficult year. This is the year of learning to love some people from afar.  Boundaries.  Something I am still learning about.  Most of my big learning moments are right here on this blog and I can see the growth this year brought.  Writing has connected me to some amazing people this year who have reached out to me as they began their own “journey to wholeness.”   A testament to how powerful our stories are.  People are seeking connection and community.  I love to watch people grow.  I suspect a lot of you love to witness my growth.  People are mostly good I think.  Sometimes I think my world isn’t actually reality because it’s so magical and full of so many loving and supportive people.  Healers of all kinds and spiritual seekers.  People who always strive to be the best version of themselves.  But it IS my reality and I have worked hard to build that reality for myself.  Also, I am deserving of all the blessings that flow my way.  I’m not sure I believed that on this day last year, and it is still kind of hard to say out loud, but I believe it.   What’s even more special is that I get to share so much with so many.  That’s the true gift.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude this morning.  I will be carrying all the lessons, all the growth and all the gratitude with me into the new year.  And I will build on that.  New Years is my favorite!  I thought long and hard about what my one word would be for 2019.  Last week as I was making vision boards with a friend, it became crystal clear to me that my word is “Allow.”  Not in a passive or weak way, but as a spiritual practice.  There’s not a thing wrong with having a vision, but what I know is that when I ALLOW the creator to create through me, anything I want to manifest, create or experience will show up in my life as it is meant to.  I allow things to happen without having to control and manipulate people and situations.  When I can do this, the Universe always delivers something more amazing than I could have planned.  2019 is going to rock. 💥

Pure Joy!

I am not here to write about trauma today.  Yay! I am not here to talk about being sober even though that’s always an amazing topic.    I am here today to share what feels like some serious healing.  Three nights ago I dreamed I was getting ready to teach a writing workshop.  I was in a giant building that was obviously NOT my studio.  There were tons of people there.  There was a little kitchen where I went and made myself a cup of coffee.  In the kitchen there was a small child.  A tiny toddler who was probably 18 months old.  She was dancing and she was beautiful.  I walked over to her and put my hands out to her.  She took my hands in her tiny hands and let me dance with her.  She was looking up at me with the biggest smile on her face.   After a few minutes of dancing, I reached down and scooped her up in my arms.  She snuggled into me.  She loved me.   She was beautiful.  She had blonde curls and blue eyes.  I loved this child even though I had no idea who she was.  I carried her around for a while because I just didn’t want to put her down.  She fell asleep in my arms.  I couldn’t stop looking at her and I wasn’t about to put her down.  By this point in the dream, half the people who were there for the workshop I was teaching had left and the other half were restless because I was so late getting to it.  But I didn’t care.  The only thing that was important to me was this child.  I went into the room and taught the workshop as best I could without putting the toddler down.  She slept in my arms the entire time. I’m sure the quality of the workshop suffered, but I didn’t care.  I’ve learned that dreams have messages for me and while this one is super obvious, it took me a few hours after I woke up to understand that she was ME.  It wasn’t until I told a friend about the dream that I understood.  Saying it out loud helped me make the connection.  It felt a lot like some serious healing and it brought tears to my eyes, which doesn’t happen for me often. She was me and I loved her so much.  I could feel that love in my dream and when I woke up I still felt it.  Powerful.   My therapist refers to “the inner child” as that part of us that is untouched and unharmed by outside influences.  The part of us that is pure joy.  That’s exactly who this child was and exactly what I felt while I was holding her.  Pure love.  The exact same love that I feel when I am with my own children.  I am certain it’s the dancing that’s bringing her out.  We danced together in the dream.  I *think* I am getting ready to go a bit deeper into that journey of healing my inner child, but I know that it’s all the play time that connects me to her.  Get ready world because I am about to take a trip to Michael’s and get crafty!  My child wants to create for some reason and I am going to let her!  Should be interesting since I am the least “artistic” person I know.  But, if you know me, you already know that I will put everything I have into it. I will be the craftiest person EVER!  LOL  Get ready to see some shitty art on the internet and tell me it’s beautiful anyway! 😊