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.  

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? 

Human AF

Writing helps me figure things out. Myself. The world around me. My place in the world around me. All of it. I typically have everything sorted out before I bring it to a blog, but I am still in the process right now and thought I would try it this way. I might be all over the place, but that’s where I am.
I am a thinker. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and other times, not so much. I try so hard to feel my way through situations, but that just isn’t who I am. I have a hard time talking about my feelings because I have a hard time knowing how I feel about things. I prefer to figure everything out in my head and make sense of it. I suspect that can make it a bit of a challenge for the one who gets to therapize me. Don’t question that word. I love it. Yesterday I spent my therapy time on the couch NOT talking about the things I should have been talking about. Those things don’t feel good. I don’t necessarily know how they make me feel, but “not good” works. I tend to keep it light unless I absolutely know that I have to throw the uncomfortable thing out there. I like to share my joy. At the end of our session I felt like my therapist was ready to “kick me out of the nest.” I let her know that she would have to die to get rid of me. Which, for the record, isn’t true and I MIGHT not say again if given the opportunity. But she is fabulous and assured me that I didn’t need to go anywhere. On the drive home I was being less than compassionate toward myself for being so clingy and for not discussing the things that I should be sharing. Whatever SHOULD means. And yes, I know the quote about “shoulding on myself” because I am a walking, spiritual self help book. I felt like shit when I got home because I spent the entire drive in my head focused on all the things that are “wrong” with me and how I got that way. If Jon Kabat-Zinn had been there, he would have reminded me that as long as I am breathing there is more right with me than there is wrong with me. But he wasn’t riding with me. He’s a busy man. When I got home an amazing thing happened. I received a message from a Facebook friend. I don’t know this woman. I have met her one time. She seems to know me and really knew what I needed at that exact moment. She sent me a poem (I think it was a poem) called “Hiding.” It was absolutely beautiful and absolutely ME. It was about how I had spent that hour on the couch hiding. It was about how the horrible memories that keep coming up for me have been hiding because I wasn’t ready to know my truth. It was about how I hide from the world when I get overwhelmed. It was about all the ways I hide and how it’s all so necessary and completely OK. I let out that breath I didn’t even realize I had been holding. I began to relax. I let this woman know how timely her message was and how much I appreciate her. I even opened up to her and shared from my heart. Just wow. A beautiful God moment. A beautiful connection. And I am grateful.
Now I’ll take it back to the REAL issue I was upset with myself about. My need to cling. It’s a known fact that when I love a thing, I really love it. It’s been the joke of the week with my cacao consumption, but it’s true. I love it and love it and love it some more. I tend to feel like I can never have enough. It could be green smoothies, Buddha bowls, or kombucha. Driving home from Wilmington yesterday it occurred to me that my feeling of needing more might be (IS) a deep rooted feeling that I am not enough. Some days I know that I am broken. There is a piece missing that I have tried to fill in so many ways. With drugs. With sex. With alcohol. I have become more skillful in the ways I fill that hole. I have yoga, meditation, community and God. I have an amazing family and a ton of friends. Yesterday afternoon the feeling of not being enough was strong. That hole felt very large. Something is missing. What the fuck is it and what do I do about it? Sit with it? Keep doing the work until my heart and my head catch up with each other? Because I KNOW I am strong, powerful and capable. I know I am loved and that I AM LOVE. I also know feelings aren’t facts and not to believe everything I think, but I am human and some days are harder than others. I know a lot of things intellectually. Feeling them in my soul is another story. Maybe life is designed that way to keep things interesting. Maybe I need more. Maybe I need to stay out of my head so much. Writing helps.
I mentioned in session yesterday that as much as I love my work, something is missing. It was the first time I allowed myself to say those words out loud. It didn’t occur to me until I got in the bed last night that the Universe heard that statement and responded. I received a phone call just an hour after I got home yesterday from a woman who is having a very difficult time recovering from surgery. She is depressed and she is struggling. She wants to work with me one on one. I am going to meet with her today. I have more than enough to keep me busy and out of my head. I’m not sure I even need another thing on my calendar, but my heart said yes and I couldn’t argue with the fact that this was the exact thing I had just said I wanted. The Universe always responds.
Today is a new day. The sun is shining and right now at THIS moment I am content and I am grateful. Perhaps the trick is just to stay with the bad feelings until they pass. That sounds so simple. Maybe too simple. OR, perhaps the trick is writing about it, reading 5 books, therapy, energy healing, sound healing, yoga, meditation and a healing circle or three with an AA meeting thrown in there just because. Clearly, more is better. Today I am going to live my life, love the Hell out of the things I love, obsess a little less and remind myself that I am so enough I might even be too much. I’ll overthink that one another day. Being a human is hard.

4 Years ❤️

I couldn’t let this day pass without telling the world that today I have been sober for FOUR YEARS. That’s 1,462 days of feeling all the feels without numbing myself out. Four years of healing. Four years of growing emotionally and spiritually. Four years of making (mostly) good choices. Four years that have been beautiful because I have been awake and completely present. I love this day more than my actual birthday because this day four years ago is the day I chose to live. I didn’t just wake up on this day four years ago and stop drinking. That would have been great. Getting sober was a process for me. A long process. I know some people who actually do wake up one day, make that decision and get sober. That’s not my story. I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol. Everyone I knew drank A LOT. It really didn’t seem to me like I should be the only one getting sober. I knew I would never have fun again. I was sure of that. I had been bouncing in and out of treatment centers, ER’s, medical detox facilities and even the ha ha hospitals. It was a long, miserable road for me and my family. On this day four years ago I woke up in a treatment center and I knew it was the day they were going to stop giving me pills to help me detox. It was the day I was going to have to be in my skin. I did the only thing I knew how to do. I sat. I sat for what was the most uncomfortable two minute meditation. And I didn’t die! The next day I sat a little longer. And every day after that. It was my go to when my emotions were too strong for me to manage. That, a ton of meetings, all the yoga and an awesome AA sponsor who I texted every 3 minutes so she could reassure me that I was ok. Those first 8 months were the hardest for me. I thought about drinking daily. Something shifted during that eighth month and the desire to drink practically left me. Sobriety, AA, meditation and yoga have given me a strong foundation. I have learned to love myself. Believe me that was a process too. I still work at it. Some days it’s easier than others. My life is so beautiful today. My relationships are healthy. I have so many loving and supportive friends in my life. Today I woke up at a yoga retreat in the mountains that I was invited to lead. I drove home to my beautiful family and then I taught a yoga class in MY yoga studio. All of these things are gifts of living sober one day at a time. That is never lost on me. My heart is FULL of gratitude tonight. ❤️IMG_5290.jpg

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.