Skillful Speech

On Friday, I made a post on Facebook that went all around the world. That might be a stretch, but it did travel far and wide in the social media world. Chances are, you saw it there. I don’t want to stay stuck in it, but I do want to process the situation. Really, there’s a LOT to unpack. The post was about two women having a conversation in a coffee shop that involved hating on me. A conversation that was heard by another woman who walked over and stopped them. I received so much love and support in the comments on that post. Never was the intention to call attention to their actions. The intention was to highlight the woman who used her voice to stand up for me. I’ve been sitting with this situation for a while now, and there are just so many beautiful lessons in it.

I have been the women in the coffee shop, connecting in that superficial way of gossiping about another. I am willing to bet we have ALL done that. I’ll just go ahead and tell on myself here. About three years ago I was at yoga church with a friend. We were having a conversation about another yoga teacher we knew, poking fun at some of the things she does. For about two seconds, my teacher got sucked in. And then, she stopped us. She told us our speech was unskillful and she wouldn’t be a part of it and she wouldn’t allow it in her space. She called us the fuck out. It was quite embarrassing but also necessary. She was completely right in her actions and we couldn’t deny that. This is exactly what spiritual community is about. We need teachers on the path who will guide us and steer us when we stray. We need friends who will be honest with us and tell us when we are fucking up. Once we have awareness, it’s much easier to catch ourselves, stop ourselves and eventually not even go there. It’s a practice. Like everything we do.

Perhaps my speech wasn’t skillful when I posted about them. I didn’t name them, but the post was shared so many times it was sure to find it’s way to them. And they probably won’t be back to the studio, which I was initially happy about, but at the same time, a loving and supportive environment is exactly what they need. And here’s the truth. It all stemmed from jealousy. Such an ugly word and an ugly emotion. I have been on all sides of this one too. It doesn’t feel good when a pang of jealousy hits and it feels worse to know someone is jealous of me. It feels dirty. But it’s also a very human emotion. This learning to be a human is the most difficult spiritual lesson.

We can learn a LOT about being human and about ourselves by sitting in meditation. Before we are able to hear that still, small voice, we hear our own voice. The loud voice in our head. It’s really important to pay attention to this voice. To notice the way we speak to ourselves. When we are harsh with ourselves, through judgement, or criticizing, it’s a good indication that this is the way we interact with others in the world. By learning to be kind, loving and compassionate toward ourselves, it becomes quite natural to extend that to others around us. Guess what? It’s a practice. One of the books that helped me with this in the beginning of my own journey is LovingKindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzburg. I recommend this one to people ALL the time.

One of the most common ways we speak harshly to ourselves is by lying to ourselves. When we listen to the scared, insecure voice in our head that tells us we are anything less than perfect as we are, we are not being truthful. I understand that these two women in the coffee shop somehow felt that they were lacking something. Rather than build that up in themselves, they chose to tear me down. It’s a very human thing to do and I don’t fault them for it. Remember, I’m human and I’ve been guilty of it too. But, I have a daily practice of filling myself with love. I make a point to surround myself with people who are kind and loving and full of wisdom. People I can learn from. People who have the qualities I want in myself.

These women don’t know me. It was never about me. This situation gave me an opportunity to practice forgiveness. It was a good reminder to choose my own words and conversations carefully. It was an opportunity to stop and see it from all sides. The biggest lesson that I learned in this is that moving forward I want to be the third woman in this story. The one who stood up for me. The one who used her voice to say, “No. That’s not ok.” I haven’t learned how to be this person yet, but I fully intend to start practicing. The world needs more people who are willing to be strong and stand up for others. Even if it’s hard. Glennon Doyle always reminds us that “We can do hard things.”

It’s a Lot.

This pandemic living is a quiet life. These days I get excited about my sleep quality.   I am ok with quiet.  I like solitude.  But I also rather enjoy having the option to go places.  We all do.  I know.  These past weeks have been particularly difficult.  I got my hopes up that we would enter Phase III of reopening our state and I would be able to open the yoga studio.  I don’t even know that people will come or that I want to be in there, but I did get excited about the option. I rearranged my pricing, updated my software, sent out the blast email and waited for the announcement that didn’t happen.   I created an expectation that wasn’t in line with reality.  It was my own fault that I was disappointed.  I know better.  “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”   I just forgot.

Then there was that hurricane.   My home is fine and we came through unscathed, but my island is not fine.  My friends weren’t all so lucky.  It hurts my heart to see so much loss.  Nobody was injured and things can be replaced.  We all know this.  But when it’s your stuff, it still hurts.  Watching people I love struggle hurts.  I forget that I am incredibly sensitive.  I am an expert at putting up a wall to protect myself.  It’s necessary and it works.  It has always worked.  But some things are just too big and too sad and you have to experience them to move through them.  These past two weeks I have been experiencing my emotions in a big way.

Last week a woman I loved very much passed away.  A woman I watched struggle.  A woman I watched rise.  A woman I watched fall.  I rooted for her.  I root for everyone and hope we all make it.  We don’t all make it.  And it hurts.  This week I ugly cried.  I don’t cry often, because when I do, all the grief in my heart comes out and I feel like I will never stop.  And it scares me.  I cried for everyone I have loved and lost.  Crocodile tears, chest heaving, loud sobbing, couldn’t breathe, pain in my heart crying. And then it stopped.  And I was ok.  But damn.

Then there’s this overwhelming feeling of homesickness that keeps coming back.  I shared about it on my FB page and it helped to know others are feeling it too.  It helped to identify where it’s coming from.  But, it didn’t just go away.  It’s not there constantly, but it’s still there.  Some days it’s strong.  Some days it’s just background noise.  But because I know how to live in the solution and not stay in the problem, I use my tools.  All the fucking tools.  I stick close to the people that feel like sunshine to my soul.  I tell the world I am sad and get blasted with love from hundreds of people.  Thank you people.  I needed that.   I’m not homesick for a home that I came from.  I have never been more at home than right here on this island.  This is where I am rooted.  This is home to my children. My community is here.  I stopped trying to escape myself here.  This is my home.  And these feelings are just another layer to all of THIS.  I am just missing the way of life that isn’t reality.   These are just more feelings that I get to experience. We’re all experiencing loss in one way or another.  My heart hurts for my friends who can’t see their children and at the same time, I realize that mine are never leaving this house again.  My days of morning baths, and pizza in bed while my children are at school are OVER.  First world problems. I know how incredibly lucky I am that my children are old enough to navigate this new school year at home.  They are self sufficient and motivated.  We have a peaceful home and everything they need to be successful.  My heart breaks  every day because I know that’s not the case for so many of our children.   The tug of war between gratitude and grief.   There is so much both/and going on in my world right now.  It’s a lot.   For all of us.  In our own way.   It hurts and it’s beautiful at the same time.  I never for one second doubt that this is all necessary.  The whole “great change is preceded by chaos.”  No conspiracies.  Just the understanding that this is what evolution looks like.  This is what it feels like.   Growth is always painful.   We are ALL living outside of our comfort zones at the same time.  It would sure be helpful if we could all be gentle with one another and with ourselves.

Writing About Writing

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.

Making Plans. And social media. And other random things.

I am a planner girl.  I love my Dragontree Apothecary Rituals for Living Dreambook Planner. I love the ridiculously long name of it.  I love the color of it.  I love the pages. I love that it’s spiral bound.   I don’t get paid to share that with you, it’s just the best planner out there.  But I should get paid, because half of you are going straight to Google to see what you’ve been missing out on. I know it’s the best because every year I buy multiple planners in search of the BEST one.  I get planner envy when I see a friend with a cool new planner and I have to purchase the same one.  Just in case it’s better than the one I have.  And the good planners aren’t cheap.  I have bought them all.  The Passion Planner, Erin Condren LifePlanner, Law of Attraction, The Desire Map.  The list goes on.  I even bought one strictly because one of the reviews claimed it was the best planner for a “grown ass woman.’  Obviously I had to have it. Because I’m a grown ass woman.  I also have an old school desk calendar.  One of those huge office calendars that lays flat on my desk and covers the entire surface. I also have a small, fits in the purse that I don’t carry type planner. The Dragontree Planner is by far my favorite.  I like to know my schedule.  Shit.  I like to HAVE a schedule.   I have not had a schedule since March 15th. I opened my planner last Friday and flipped through three months of blank pages and started again. Now I am writing every mundane thing that takes time in my day and space in my planner.  All the things I normally just do and don’t need to be reminded of. Vacuuming. Laundry. Grocery shopping. These are not planner worthy things. But it gives the illusion of a full and productive day.   And there really are no pandemic planner rules.
I flipped my desk calendar right past April and May which were never touched. But what’s the point in actually using that one.  It’s my work calendar for planning events and workshops in the studio.  Sure there have been things that I’ve had to do since March.  Places I had to be.  But no real schedule.   That’s completely my own fault since there are routine things I could be doing to keep some sort of schedule, I just haven’t. I’ve let go of Zoom yoga with my teacher, although I miss him and my shala peeps terribly and think about joining every week.  But it’s hard to get into yoga TV and there is usually something that stops me.  Driving my oldest son to work.  Sleeping.  Nothing. Something.  My son has his license now, so that’s not an excuse anymore.  But there are other things that creep up and take precedence. Mostly, I just can’t get my heart into it.  But I will.  It will come back. 
Last week I went to an AA meeting.  The first meeting I have been to in months.  It was outside. And it was lovely.  I forgot that those coffee drinking old men need me.  And the women too, although you never hear me mention them.  I forgot that I have a lot of joy and wisdom to share and it’s much needed in that world.  I forgot that I love A.A. Something else I completely forgot that might surprise you. It surprised me anyway.  I love teaching yoga. When the world shut down, I was completely fine taking a break from teaching.  I considered Zoom, but it is 100% not for me.  So I didn’t. But when I taught that first beach class last month, it was pure joy.  Not that beach yoga is ideal, not for me, but I am grateful to have the beautiful open space.  I am grateful to connect with people in that way.  It feeds my soul. And I am grateful to once again have things to plan.  Things to write in my planner.
Since March, I have felt extremely stuck.  Stagnant.  My “one word” for 2020 is expansion.  How fucking hilarious is that?  This year has felt anything but expansive.  It has felt constrictive and stuck and stagnant.  I have yet to figure out exactly how I am expanding although if you asked me I would give you an answer.  I would tell you all the ways my heart has expanded.  I’m not really sure though. But I have faith and more will be revealed and all of that. I do believe it’s there though.  I just can’t see it yet.
I stopped setting intentions.  The new moons.  The new weeks.  The new months.  They have all zipped past me without the feeling that I needed or wanted to plan, plot or intend for any kind of forward motion in my life.  I’ve read more fiction in these last few months than I have read in years.  I forgot that I love fiction.  I’ve started to work my way through the 25 Marvel movies in order.  I think my husband tricked me into that one. I let him. The superheroes are smoking hot. I’ve been content chilling at home.  I love my home.   But magically, with the last new moon/eclipse/summer solstice energy, I seem to have gotten my mojo back.  Remember, I love it when things magically happen for me.  It’s my favorite.   Forward motion friends.

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.

Sober Yogi

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.

 

Hope is the Only Thing Stronger than Fear.

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.

Smooth Sailing. Until it’s not.

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

A Gift in Strange Wrapping

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.

Connected to Myself

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.

We don’t have to like it.

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.