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.

Self Discipline is the Highest Form of Self Love

Last night I shared a quote in moon circle that I am completely in love with.  “Discipline is the highest form of self love.”  I shared it because there was a woman in the circle who needed to hear it.  There were probably others who needed to hear it as well. I need to be reminded of it constantly.  Someone recently commented on one of my FB posts that I am so disciplined.  And I loved that she saw me that way. It’s more true than not.  I am all about self love.  I am all about naps, and eating to nourish my body, writing in journals and big fat bubble baths.  With snacks.  Self love can look like that.  Self love can also look very different.  I once had a therapist tell me I had to learn to love myself enough to tell myself no.  I have no doubt that I was filling her ears with all sorts of nonsense that was going on in my personal life.  I got away with ridiculous things because nobody ever told me no.  Nobody ever told me I couldn’t/shouldn’t do a thing that was obviously harmful.  In fact, I talked most people into doing those things with me.  I had some pretty unhealthy habits going on at the time.  Loving myself enough to tell myself no wasn’t one of them.  This was just one of many things she told me that I paid no attention to.  Because it was all bullshit.  I really could not fathom living a different way. Until I did. I stopped drinking before I wanted to.  It was a have to.  Looking back, I realize that giving up alcohol was a radical act of self love even though it felt like the exact opposite.  Self love is also saying yes to the things that are good for us.  I had to say yes to AA because that’s where I was going to meet sober people.  Sober people didn’t exist in my world.  I had to go to the weird meetings with “those people.”  I wasn’t like those people.  I was different.  Special.  That therapist assured me that I was not special.  Just like that.  “You’re not special.”  Asshole.  I was pretty sure she was wrong about that one.  I was pretty sure she was wrong about most things.  But, here’s the truth.  I’m not special.  None of us are.  And we all are.  We are all humans doing the best we can with what we have to work with.  Back then, I didn’t have a lot to work with.  But I have had some amazing teachers on this path and I am a completely different person than I was 6 years ago.  Because I pay attention.  This morning I sat down to write about Discipline, but I hadn’t yet been on my mat and I just couldn’t bring myself to write about something I wasn’t practicing.  So I got up, went down on the dock and practiced yoga.  Because I love myself enough to do the things I know are good for me.  I love myself enough to pursue the things that are going to lead to my ultimate happiness even when they aren’t necessarily the things I feel like doing.  My alarm is set for 4:30 am.  On weekdays, I wake my children around 5 am.  This gives me 30 minutes to myself.  I use this time to meditate and write.  My preference would be to drink coffee and scroll on my phone.  I’m not perfect and sometimes that is exactly how I spend my quiet time.  That is NOT what nourishes my soul.  I don’t wake up at 4:30 excited to write and sit in silence, but I do it because I know it keeps me sane.  It keeps me connected. I’m not telling you to wake up at 4:30 am. In fact, every evening before I fall asleep my mind begins to tell me all of the reasons I can’t wake up in the morning and do what I want/need to do. If I listened to this voice, I would never practice in the shala because Wilmington is too far to drive. I would never get on my mediation cushion because I have chores to do.  I would never sit down to write because someone, somewhere, needs me to do something for them.  There are always reasons that I shouldn’t wake up early for my morning practices. They are all very believable reasons.  The little voice in my head throws them all at me when I set my alarm and get in bed. That’s my self sabotage voice.  This voice will have me wasting my time, sitting on my ass, drinking coffee and scrolling on my phone.  Really.  That voice will have me wasting entire days if I let it. I don’t have that kind of time because there are so many things I want to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I really do need days that are quiet and restful.  Recovery time after big “extrovert events.”  I need solitude.  We all know I need my naps.   But, I also need to do the things I know are good for me. Especially when I don’t want to. I only dread these things until I get started.    And then……then comes the sense of accomplishment.  The good feelings.  The joy. I have been practicing this lifestyle for quite a while now, and I know the practices that keep me centered.  I am not a runner, but I am willing to bet that runners don’t jump out of bed eager to go running every day.  I also imagine the people who hit the gym every day don’t always feel like it. Artists probably don’t want to create every day. I could go on and on, but you get it. Everything we do is a practice and being disciplined is no different.  Discipline is loving ourselves enough to say no to the things that aren’t good for us and loving ourselves enough to say yes to the things that are.  It’s dropping the distractions to focus on what truly needs our attention. It’s picking up our tools when we are having a shitty day and using them when we want to wallow in misery.  It’s keeping the promises we make to ourselves.  Discipline really is the highest form of self love.  

Comfortable in My Own Skin.

The best gift sobriety has given me is the ability to be ME. Whatever that is at the moment. And it is ALWAYS changing as I live, learn and grow. A daily process. A few weeks ago, I was looking at my “professional” bio online and it made me laugh so hard. I’ll spare you the complete bio, but the sentence “Shannon started her yoga journey in 2013 and instantly fell in love with the way it nurtured her body, mind and spirit” really jumped out at me. Anyone who knows anything about me KNOWS that I did NOT instantly fall in love with yoga. I hated it so much. Every time I got on my mat I cried. I had no idea why and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. In the beginning, there were often times when I stayed in child’s pose for the entire class. Because yoga sucked so bad. I was sure everyone thought I was a freak as much as I thought that about myself. I hated yoga for a long time. The only reason I kept going back was because it was a wholesome way to spend an hour that kept me from drinking and because I had that therapist who was sure it would be good for me. Slowly I began to come around and hate yoga less and less. “Instantly fell in love with yoga” is just not true. I am sure I thought that’s what the world wanted to hear and who I thought I was supposed to be. I’ll eventually get around to changing that part. I doubt I’ll edit the bio to say that I fucking hated yoga, but you never know.

I am getting quite comfortable in my skin as of late and it’s something that is still new to me. I’m not always there, but it feels amazing when I am. Opening Rebel Soul Yoga and creating a space that is exactly what I need for my own healing has been a HUGE part of that process. I am constantly amazed by the amount of people who show up on their own journeys with their hearts open every day. People who are getting exactly what they need and pouring their love into the place. That space is FULL of love and healing energy for sure. I am comfortable being myself in that space. I don’t worry if people like me. It’s OK if they don’t. I am not for everyone. I get to show up, every day and be exactly who I am. Awkward. Hilarious. Overly excited about things. Unfiltered. Weird. Whatever.  It’s all good because it’s all ME.

This little blog right here has quite possibly been the BIGGEST catalyst in making me comfortable in my skin. I started writing here as a way to share my recovery journey. That recovery journey has turned into a journey of healing and to wholeness. I had no idea how much my words would touch people and how many people would relate to me. I live in a small town and it seems that everyone knows me. It always blows my mind when someone stops and introduces themselves to me and tells me they read everything I write. I probably shouldn’t be surprised since I do share everything on social media, but I still am. And every time it happens, it feels as if I am standing in front of said stranger completely naked and completely vulnerable. Because this person knows so much about me. WOW. It’s very humbling and overwhelming. I struggle for a moment and then I find my breath. I say thank you because I appreciate every single person who takes the time to read my words. I appreciate every single person who goes out of their way to tell me how they can relate to my words or how my words have helped them in some way. Being vulnerable is a beautiful thing.  I am learning to embrace vulnerability and allow it to strengthen me. Blogging has helped me to find my voice in so many ways.

Recently I have found something else that is helping me find my voice. Kirtan! I was first introduced to this during my yoga teacher training and just like everything that is new to me, I resisted it and thought it was weird. Today I am in love with this beautiful form of Bhakti Yoga. Chanting. Singing. Praying. It’s absolutely beautiful and I have turned into the girl who rides around in her car singing all the sacred songs. Loudly.  It fills my soul.  (I doubt the days of gangster rap are completely behind me.)  Sunday morning I went to the beach for my morning meditation practice. I sat in silence for 30 minutes. I had my blue tooth speaker with me and thought it would be nice to sing a little while I was there. So I did. People walked by while I sat on the beach singing in Sanskrit swaying and moving to the music. I might have looked (and sounded) weird to the people on the beach, but I honestly did not care. Nobody stopped to talk to me, which I absolutely loved. I might have discovered the best way ever to keep the creepers away AND I enjoyed every minute of my time. Completely comfortable in my skin and also completely aware that it’s still a very new way for me to feel. It felt like joy. It felt like freedom. One day, maybe I’ll be there all the time. For now, I’ll take the moments as they come with a heart full of gratitude. Little by little, all of the pieces are falling into place. And by “falling into place” I really mean coming together for me because I’ve been working my ass off, on myself, for myself.

Mornings with the Universe

IMG_3090Someone recently asked me about my morning routine. I have a practice rather than a routine. I practice every day. My morning practice is one of the ways I show up for myself. I call it Mornings with the Universe. Sobriety has taught me to love and care for myself on all levels. My mind, my body and my spirit. I start each day the same way. I wake up, take a few deep, conscious breaths and say thank you to the Universe. Then I get on my meditation cushion and sit silently for 20 minutes. Always. It’s the way of easing into my day and into the world that works best for me. My mind isn’t yet racing with all of the things I need to do and I am able to connect with something higher than my ego self. I love mornings. That is my standard “routine.” Some days, that’s all I have time for before I have to get started with life. On days like today, I can take my time. Some mornings I need movement and I step onto my yoga mat. Some mornings I need stillness and I spend time journaling. It’s all about tuning in to myself and honoring my needs. People often tell me they feel stuck when they try to journal. My response to that is to just do it. Don’t worry about what you write or how it looks. Write. From your heart. I love daily meditation books and try to read from one every day. Most days I do. I just picked up The Soul’s Companion by Tian Dayton and I am in love. Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates is one of my favorites. I feel connected to his words. He writes in a 12 step yogi way and it’s the same language I speak. It’s my life. This morning I spent my time in my books and journals. Sorting out my thoughts. I guess I needed stillness this morning. I’ve had a bit of chaos in my life this week. As we all do from occasionally. In the midst of the chaos I discovered that a 6 am bath feels pretty damn amazing. I’ll be incorporating that in from time to time when my schedule allows. Unfortunately, it won’t be a daily thing. Unless I get up at 4 am every morning. Which I won’t. Because that’s crazy. My morning practice sets the tone for my whole day. Occasionally my day falls apart, but as long as I have taken the time to connect and center myself, I can handle whatever comes my way. Some days I pull oracle cards and burn incense and play with my crystals. Some days I sit on my deck with a smoothie. It doesn’t matter what I do as long as I do it. I’ve had people tell me that my practice sounds like work to them. It might be, but I love working on myself because I am worth it.