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

Life is a beautiful practice

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

Be Still and Know

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

Tattoos and Freedom

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

*photo by Ed Speas*

Beautiful, Brave, Badass

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

Letting go

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

Dream World

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

All the Feels

I am in that weird space of having a million things to write about and yet nothing comes up for me.  My thoughts are scattered here there and everywhere.  The “problem” is that more and more people are reading my blog and I get in my head about it. Am I oversharing?  Will my readers like this?  The truth that I need to remember is that this blog is for me.  It’s a great tool to look back and see how things are unfolding for me.  So here I go.
Yesterday was such a weird day for me emotionally.  I joked about everyone crying in yoga, and maybe they needed that, but it was me who I was really talking about.  I was on the verge of tears all day.  But they didn’t come.  I have written about repressed memories coming up for me in the past.  And I processed those the best way I could.  I really figured that was it and I was done with that.  Life is great.  Things are flowing my way effortlessly and easily. I AM connected and divinely guided.  So when more shit from my past pops up, it knocks the wind out of me.  Last week I sat on my therapist’s couch with my journal of “all the amazing things” that are going on in my life.  The amazing things are always the things I want to talk about.  When our time was almost up, I blurted out “want to do the therapy now?”  And of course she did, because that’s her job.  I told her that I have had more memories of childhood sexual abuse surfacing.  When she asked me if I could talk about it, I just looked at her and said nothing.  We both chuckled a little and she told me that “was an invitation.”  My response to her was that I obviously couldn’t talk about it.  Because nothing was coming out.  So weird because I do trust this woman so much.  I have spent some time on this and perhaps it’s the office and the couch that get me.  Like “white coat syndrome.”  Maybe I should ask her to sit on the floor with me.  I bet she would.  She’s cool like that.  Since I wouldn’t or couldn’t talk about the memories with her, she offered up some suggestions as to what I could do to move through it.  Dance it out, write it out, yoga it out.  The things she knows I am comfortable with.  The first time, back in the spring, when she suggested “dance it out” I thought she was nuts.  And now, well, we all know how that ended.  What I was looking for was a definitive answer about why this is happening again and when will it end.  The why is simple. She’s explained it before, but she explained it again.   Because I am strong and healthy and have all the support in the world.  And because I have everything I need to look at these things when they come up and then let them go.  The when will it end isn’t as simple.  I read everything I could find about this subject, but there are no concrete answers.  Unfortunately we live in a world where this is fairly common.  I reached out to a friend who I am able to be completely open with and talked to her about it.  She has her own experience with this exact thing.  Which is what I needed more than anything.  Someone who has been where I am.  Someone with personal experience.  This is what I gathered from our conversation.  Something in my present moment experience triggered these memories.  They are there to teach me something.  And I guess as the healthy adult that I am, it’s not really a big deal.  But, it feels like a big deal to me when it happens.  Talking to my friend helped more than anything. She told me there really is no specific end date.  No magic time. Healing is a lifetime process.  More than anything, just knowing that I am not alone in this experience was helpful.  The specifics aren’t important and I don’t need to share with everyone or maybe even anyone.  My plan is simply to honor the path that got me to where I am today.  I keep telling myself to write it down and burn it.  A ritual.  I love ritual.  Not that I have done it yet, but it’s coming.  The gift in this is that it never crosses my mind to hide from it.  It never crosses my mind to numb myself.  What I have done is take 1,000 baths.  Maybe I am subconsciously trying to crawl back into the womb.  Whatever.  It feels good and it soothes me.  The bathtub is where I spent all of my free time when I first got sober.  It’s still a go to when I am emotionally triggered.  And honestly, I have been super sensitive lately.  OR, maybe I AM super sensitive and I have been allowing myself to experience that. I don’t know.   What I do know is that I am human.  A human with ALL THE FEELS who doesn’t have everything figured out and probably never will.  The good news is that I am surrounded by healers and sensitive souls who will hold my hand when I need that.  The reality is that I really do have everything I need already available to me and I can handle whatever comes my way.  So I lean in to the uncomfortable until it passes because I know for sure and certain that joy is waiting for me on the other side.  I AM a warrior.
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5 Sober Years

I love when people reach out to me after reading my blog or a particular social media post that I have written.  I love when people connect to my words.  Last week I wrote THIS post full of “classic one liners” from my old therapist.  A few days later I received this text that’s too good not to share. CB067C8D-AEDE-4A4A-8A18-37C1DCD5BE24.jpeg  I saved this screenshot because it’s THAT awesome and I laugh so hard every time I read it.  It’s become a mantra for me this week.  I often tell my children when they are leaving, “make good choices.”  Well, “don’t fuck the monks” has played on repeat in my mind since I received that text.  It’s the same.  But different.  It’s “Make good choices” for grown ups.   I laugh so hard at the shit that goes through my head.  I even told my therapist “don’t fuck the monks” last week as I walked out of her office.  She loved that so much.  I mean, how could she NOT?

All that silliness aside.

I didn’t write yesterday because I was too exhausted from all of the exciting things happening in the studio and in my life.  There is always something new and exciting coming my way and some days it’s just too much and I crash.  Which is what I needed yesterday.  And I allowed myself to do that.  At the beach.

Last week was an amazing week in the life of me.  I turned 5 years sober 6 days ago.  There was no parade, but you probably saw the sparkly medallion on social media.  What a ride that’s been.  Each year I look back and each year gets better. Year one was all about not drinking.  Anything extra I learned was a bonus.  Each and every day I practiced not picking up a drink and that was enough.  Yes, I meditated and practiced yoga, but the NOT DRINKING was where all of my focus was.  Those other things were simply ways to pass the time and carry me through the day sober.  I’m sure there was plenty of growth involved, but I wasn’t feeling it.  During my second sober year, I began the journey of becoming comfortable in my skin.  I learned how to properly love and care for myself.  I had no idea how good I could feel.  During that year I learned how to fuel my body with nutritious foods.  I kicked up my yoga a notch and began to move my body in new ways.  I always assumed that since I wasn’t overweight, the whole exercise thing didn’t apply to me.  Who knew that Dr’s weren’t just being assholes by suggesting exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.  This girl LOVES some endorphins! Early in my third year of sobriety, I completed my yoga teacher training.  Sobriety introduced me to something I was more passionate about than drinking.  I decided I needed to share that.  I found my light and my purpose.  Not that my purpose is to be the greatest yoga teacher the world has ever seen, because that is definitely NOT it.  But my purpose is absolutely to help others heal.  Teaching yoga has been a launchpad out into the world of helping others find their own light.   Year 4 was my Rebel Soul year!  The best year yet.  I opened the studio on November 6th 2017.  I spent my 4th sober year growing community and growing ME.  I entered therapy (again) last year in November.  Just a few days before I opened the studio.  This time I entered therapy as a strong, sober and healthy woman who wanted support through my journey.  And damn.  There was a lot more to work through than I ever imagined.  From what I can tell, “working through shit,” is a never ending part of life.  That weekly session has been a great resource for me. I have grown more this past year than any previous year. On EVERY level.   This is the year I learned to sing and dance and pray with my words.  That little yoga studio of mine is such a safe space for me to try ALL THE THINGS that bring about a deeper level of healing for me and my community.  So freaking amazing.   To say that I am grateful for my sober life is an understatement.  I talked to my AA sponsor on Saturday and shared with her how magical my life is and how I am in love with every minute of it.  She reminded me of a time, that first year, when she and others were just trying to convince me that things would get better if I stayed sober.  All I wanted in those days was for my life to not suck.  That was it.  I wasn’t asking for joy or magic or anything great.  I just wanted my life to not suck so bad.  Never could I ever have imagined that not only would my life not suck but that I would be happy and that I would wake up excited about life every day.  And really, it happened in such a big way and it happened so quickly.  One skillful choice after another.  In AA they call it “doing the next right thing” however, in my mind it will forever be  “not fucking the monks” one day at a time.  You’re welcome. 😂  If I can do it, anyone can.  I promise.

She’s Getting Closer

This week I went to see a healer.  There’s a shocker.  I went to see our island witch.  I was expecting some time on her table while she worked her woo woo energy magic on me.  What I got was a guided visualization/meditation, a lot of talking and working through my shit.  Not what I wanted, but exactly what I needed.  Isn’t that how it always works?   In that “getting what I need” what I got was a visit from my inner 3 year old.  At least I think she was three.  I didn’t even mention it during the session because it didn’t seem relevant.    During the guided visualization I was asked to find a pedestal to sit on.  A pedestal of my choice and my design. I tend to go with a giant mushroom because it has an Alice in Wonderland feel to it and Alice is a bad ass.   I was completely safe and comfortable on this pedestal.  Then she brought in a storm.  A tornado began to swirl around me.  A storm of chaos if you will.  I was safe in the center of this tornado and nothing could reach me.  I was asked to just notice what was swirling around me.  I don’t remember exactly what I saw, but when it was over, this sweet little girl came to me.  “To me” might not be exactly right, but she was THERE.  I could see her.  I remember exactly what she was wearing and exactly what she looked like.  She was happy.  She was beautiful.  She was probably the MOST relevant thing that happened during that session, so my choice not to mention it during session means something.  I’m just not sure what.  Perhaps I felt the need to protect her by not talking about her.  As much as I share with the world, some things are just for ME.  And some things are just for me until I am ready to share.  It was suggested to me that I go home and write.  Writing is my process.  All of my healers know this about me.  Guess what I wrote after that session?  Not a fucking thing.   The next day I saw my therapist and shared this information about that little 3 year old with her.  She smiled and said “She’s getting closer.”  I’ve been doing this inner child work for a while now without a lot of success.  And as I type that, I’m not entirely sure that’s true because what would success look like?  My therapist said that little 3 year old is the part of me that is joyful and playful and impulsive.  I prefer the word spontaneous because I think impulsive gets me in trouble.  At least it used to.  But, that’s neither here nor there.  “She’s getting closer.”  I am still trying to figure out exactly what that means.  Is she going to talk to me?  Does she have things to tell me?  What does she want?   My therapist kind of, sort of pointed out (by having me figure out on my own) that this little girl was me at the age I was right before my sexual abuse started. And dear God that session rolled all over the place from that to my drug addiction to the guilt and shame I still carry and back around.   When our time was up she suggested that I go home and write and write and write some more and guess what I wrote?  Not a fucking thing. After that session, with the full moon vibes in effect, I went straight to my studio to DANCE.  Because that is what I needed.  I needed to be in my body.   I needed to connect and I needed to move.  I am not sure what my aversion to writing has been this week, but it’s been strong.  I’m inclined to think that strictly because someone (2 someones) suggested I write, I automatically didn’t.  THAT would be the inner 15 year old that I know all too well.  Even without writing, I have had amazing insights this week.  I have been in 4 different women’s circles in the last 7 days.  Always a great place for me to be.  In one of these circles there was a woman who was surprised to learn that my “dancing career” is just three months old.  In her mind, I had been dancing for a lifetime, since it’s THE thing she sees me share about most.  During our conversation it occurred to me that dancing IS the joyful, playful and spontaneous part of me coming out.  And just maybe this is what’s bringing that little 3 year old closer to me.  In fact, I’m sure it must be.  Dancing has brought about a shift in me that allows me to let my guard down in a way nothing else does. I fully intend to keep at it and bring that little girl home.

There was one circle this week that I had absolutely no intention of going to. It was the same day as my therapy session and I was just done. But there I was. Exactly where I needed to be. The discussion took a turn toward the Patriachal society that we live in and there was (or more likely I felt) an attack towards the women who “allow” this type of behavior by “being whores.” I felt the need to jump in and defend these women. Which I did. My immediate thoughts and my response was that those women were once children who weren’t allowed to say no. Who weren’t allowed to be in control of their own bodies. I know those women. Those women were me. And then it happened. Another woman felt the need to defend “those women.” She opened her mouth and my story fell out. A story of being sexually abused from a young age and learning that’s what love feels like. A woman who was taught from a young age that this kind of attention is good attention. A woman who didn’t know that she didn’t have to give her power away or that she even had the option to live another way. A woman who thought her worth was based on her body. She had never been allowed to say no. It was so powerful, and as I sat there listening to her share exactly what I have never said out loud, all I could do was cry silently on the inside and touch my heart as I nodded my head at her, so she could see and know that I felt her pain. It was so incredible to see her own the ALL of her “story” and give a voice to her own inner child who was never allowed that voice. Equally incredible was the love and support she received from the circle. Nobody shamed her. Everyone witnessed and held her with compassion. Our stories, when shared, have the power to heal. I never doubt that. She reminded me of just how much truth there is in that. I told her that night that I wanted to write about her, without using her name. I asked her permission and made sure she felt ok about it. She responded by saying that I always write about her, I just didn’t know it. Again, blown away by the power of our stories and the connections we all share. I write to heal my own self and in doing so sometimes I help others along the way. The best.

In September I was in a circle with this same woman. That night we ended the circle with a little bit of dancing. She stood in that circle and said she would absolutely NOT be doing that. She even told us she might sway her hips a bit, but that would be the extent of it. A week later she showed up at the studio for ecstatic dance. She pushed past that fear and she has been dancing ever since. Four separate events in just over a month. I am pretty sure it’s her new favorite thing too! What I know is that she has connected to her inner child through dancing. That’s exactly why she loves it so much. Another shared connection with this woman. What a gift she has been to me this week. She has helped me sort out and make sense of some of my own shit. She’s a mirror. A teacher. I am grateful for her strength, her courage and her presence in my life.