I love women’s circles. I’m sure you’ve noticed. I am leading a new Sunday circle once a month as well as a monthly moon circle. These new circles allow me an opportunity to explore ritual in a new way. To connect with women in a new way. To expand and empower the circle of women in this community. To witness their healing and their growth. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the work I am here to do. In this lifetime. At least for this part of my life. I am divinely guided.
I have been leading circles for a while now. I think the first one was in 2017. Like all good things in my life, I started from a place of “that’s stupid and I’m never doing it.” It started like this. After a completely uneventful morning meditation, I opened my journal to write. What came out onto the pages was so bizarre. I wrote that I was going to gather women. I was going to create a community of women. This was bizarre for a number of reasons. The first one being that I didn’t really have women friends. I had an AA sponsor and women I had met here and there in yoga, but these were the days when I really didn’t like or trust women. We certainly didn’t hang out. So WHY would my journal say that I was going to gather women in a group? Why would I do that? And what was I going to do with them? How would that even be possible?
I decided that was stupid and I was never doing it, closed my journal and went on my way. But the seed had been planted. And it took root fast. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Not because I wanted to do it, but because it was just so strange. Never did it occur to me that it was divinely inspired. I wasn’t there in my faith yet. I didn’t know or understand intuition. I began to research (Google) how to gather a group of women. I dropped a bunch of money, signed up for circle facilitator training, and realized pretty quickly that all of this moon circle stuff I was learning were things I already knew and was already doing. I didn’t finish that training. Instead, I rented space at Hearts and Sol Wellness, posted the details of the circle I was going to lead and showed up on the night of the New Moon. And there were 21 women who showed up for that circle. This was the Universe showing me exactly HOW I was going to gather the women. I see the WHY in every circle. To change the world.
Last Sunday I led a women’s circle. The topic was Emerge. We talked about spring approaching and the new life that was emerging within us and all around us. There was a beautiful ritual that represented the emergence of these women from their cocoons and into the world. But I don’t participate in these rituals while I am leading them. And while I was excited for the expansiveness I am feeling and the new life Southport has given me, and this confidence that is absolutely growing within me, I wasn’t sure what was emerging next. And then I drove home.
On the way home I felt the nudge. A women’s retreat. I have led retreats before, for friends. On Bald Head Island. In the mountains. The year I got my yoga teacher certification I led a women’s yoga recovery retreat. But those were all small and didn’t really require much from me. This felt different. And if I am honest (which I always am), I was slightly terrified to drop the money on the property because what if nobody signed up? I told myself if I could find a cool ass woman to come on board and cook plant-based food for us I would do it. Enter The Holistic Hipster.
On Tuesday I booked the property. On Wednesday I threw the idea out to the world. On Thursday I opened the retreat for registration. On Saturday morning it was FULL. (As a side note, I opened the bonus spaces and there are now two available). It happened so fast. And it’s so exciting to know that I am doing what I am here to do. To the person on the outside looking it, this might seem simple and silly and perhaps insignificant. But to me it’s a big deal. It comes back to trust. Never my strong suit. Learning to trust myself, my intuition. To trust that I am being divinely guided. My lesson in this lifetime. I’m sure there are others. Of course, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if nobody signed up. I’d be out some money and I would have a fabulous time in the mountains by myself. But instead, I get to lead an amazing retreat experience for a wonderful group of women. I get to teach them things they haven’t been exposed to yet. I get to share new experiences with them. I get to sit with them in what is essentially an extended circle. To hear their stories. heir vulnerable heart shares. To witness their tears, their laughter, their strength. THAT is the experience I’m in love with. It’s powerful and life changing. We are changing the world every time we gather. Starting with ourselves. And I am here for it. I am honored and grateful for the opportunity. Honored, grateful and excited for what’s next.
Last week I celebrated 8 years of sobriety. It even felt like an actual celebration this year, complete with cupcakes, donuts and coffee after yoga with some of my favorite people. This was followed by an afternoon with my son in Raleigh. A beautiful and perfect day. Especially since my children are the entire reason I got sober. I hear all the time that we have to get sober for ourselves, but that was not my experience. I got sober because my children deserved a Mother who was present and there for them. In no way did I think I deserved that for myself. That part came much later.
Sober anniversaries get me all up in my feels. Transitional times in general get me all up in my feels. And this is a really big transitional time in my life.
I opened Rebel Soul Yoga in November of 2017. Days before my 4th sober anniversary. I was super sober. I had been regularly going to meetings as well as practicing yoga and meditation for those sober years. I had a consistent journal practice and a ton of self awareness. But I was self destructive. And somehow I missed this. But my husband didn’t. And before I had the opportunity to destroy everything I was building, he suggested I go see a therapist and figure out what my problem was. I had been therapized plenty, but not as a sober woman. All of the therapy I had done up to that point was more to stabilize me and get me to the place of a sober life. But I hadn’t yet dug into the root causes of my addictions.
So I went to therapy and I discovered quite quickly what my problem was.
I documented quite a bit of what “my problem” was here on the blog. I’ll throw THIS out for you in case you would like a refresher. Complex trauma was my problem. And this started me on a healing journey that will never end. Because just when we think we’re finished, we aren’t. But if you know me, then you know when I start something I am ALL IN. I began to seek out every healing modality that was available to me. As I started to heal, I brought these modalities and teachers into Rebel Soul Yoga to share with the community.
Someone once said in circle that when you spend time at Rebel Soul yoga, you will learn to cry and say the F word. And she was exactly right. Sounds awful, but it’s awesome.
An entire community of people healed so much here. An entire community of people grew so much. But I don’t think anyone grew as much as I did in these past four years.
It was early on in therapy that I realized I had named my business after my inner 15 year old rebel child. The beauty in that is that the studio gave that child a place to heal. She learned to use her voice. She learned how to hold space for herself and then for others. She learned to be assertive. She learned to say no to the things she didn’t want to do and she learned how to say yes authentically. To the things that fed her soul. She learned how to stand up for herself and in turn, how to stand up for others. She found her power.
I’m not crying. You’re crying,
I’m not sad about moving out of the space. I am celebrating the fact that I grew as much as I possibly could in there. I am celebrating how much we all grew. It’s easy to see when I look at the people around me. People who have also found their power. I know that the Universe is pushing me to grow more. To take it up a notch to the next level. I have more tools in the toolbox this time around. As I start over, I am not starting from scratch. I am starting from experience. And oh my soul, I am a sucker for new beginnings. There is nothing I love more than a fresh start. Because absolutely anything is possible. Forward motion. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
What a difference a week makes. The sun came out. Of course it’s cold AF outside, so I am still in the house and never leaving. My sadness is mostly gone. I think. For now. It will return. I’ll be surprised by it again. Like always. And I will be sure that it’s never going to pass. Because this is how I operate. But I will write about it and be reminded that I am not alone. Thank you all for that. I am sure we are all doing our absolute best these days. Some days my best is better than others. On Friday I stayed in bed and read for 5 hours. The book was excellent. Then I watched a 3 hour documentary on Netflix. I feel great about that. Yesterday was watering day for my plants. I fertilized too. With stinky ass fish fertilizer. I think they loved it. I know I did. I repotted a few plants too. Because you need to know that. These little babies bring me much joy.
I received a random message from a random woman this week. A FB friend that I don’t actually know. A sweet message that made my whole day. She said that I seemed like a woman who is comfortable in my skin and asked if I could write a step by step guide on how to do that. I feel like that whole process is right here, strewn throughout this blog. But also, I never really had a plan when I started blogging so my organization is super scattered and she would have to do a lot of reading to piece the process together. I guess we can call that my lack of organization. I never really have a plan when I do anything. I just decide I want to do something and I do it. The “how” comes later, usually while I am doing the thing.
I am not and will never be the best yoga teacher. But I am really good at teaching people how to be in their bodies. Because I am obsessed with it. Not that it’s always comfortable. Because it’s not. Learning to be in our bodies takes time. And effort. And a bit of a fuck it attitude. And by fuck it, I mean exactly that. All of that nonsense that lives in our heads that gets in our way. What will people think? Fuck it. What if I look stupid? Fuck it. What if it doesn’t work? Fuck it. If that word makes you uncomfortable, fuck it. (I hope you realize how hilarious I am.) I once had a therapist that liked to say “Oh well.” She would follow that with a big sigh. It works exactly the same way. You can try that on if it’s less offensive to you. But, I know my readers, and you should all be fine with fuck it. Except for you Nanny. I love you! That same therapist also said a lot of fuck its.
To get comfortable in my skin I had to first spend a LOT of years being very uncomfortable in it. I spent the first 36 years of my life escaping my body in the normal unhealthy ways. Alcohol, drugs and sex. Until those things almost killed me. None of that was comfortable either. I was just numb. Until it stopped working. Those things always stop working and we can either find another way, or let it kill us. I chose to find another way. And it was uncomfortable to say the least.
Learning to be comfortable in my body was a process that began on a meditation cushion. Sitting still. It was awful. The voices in my head and the feelings in my body were too much. For the first few months I could only sit for a few minutes at a time. I literally wanted to rip my skin off. I felt so raw. Every bit of the things I had been using to numb myself were gone and all at once I could feel ALL of it. All the things I had pushed away. It was all right there in my head, in my chest, in my belly, in my back, in my body. Yoga saved my life. Practicing on my mat was a way for me to release a lifetime of stored up energy. Emotions. Trauma. Every single thing that I had pushed down was alive and well, right there in my body. Not that I knew any of this at the time. My yoga mat was a place for me to cry, grieve and rage, and eventually calm myself. I hated it. I loved it. I threw myself hard into the physical practice learning how to do the “fun” things with my body like inversions and arm balances. The poses that look cool. Not because they looked cool, but because when I challenge my body in this way, there was/is no room for my mind to wander. There is no past and no future. When I am doing a physically challenging posture, I am completely in my body. Present. And it’s glorious, if only for a few breaths. Yoga taught me to love my body and eventually, myself.
It’s been a journey and the list of things that have helped me get here seems to be endless. Amazing therapists. Inner child work. Shamans. Energy Healers. Women’s Circles. Solitude. All weaving together at the exact right time. It’s all here on the blog. Somewhere. Writing. So much writing. And sharing. The sharing piece is an important part of my process. When people connect to my words and I know I am not the only one to ever feel this way, it’s powerful. And here’s the thing. I am NEVER the only one to experience whatever it is I am sharing about. We are all so much alike in so many ways. We are all so damn human. We all struggle. Some people just pretend they don’t. Some things I write just for me and some I share with the world. I have shared some of my hardest truths on this blog. Scary, yes, but oh so worth it. The “what will people think of me” question still pops up for me. But I share anyway. Because fuck it. Oh well and all of that. Which would be the perfect end to this blog, but I have to keep going because DANCING. Learning to be in my sober body through dance has been so very healing. It’s one of those things that I assumed was over because I am sober. So glad I was wrong about that. These days dancing is saving my life. When I am feeling overwhelmed by emotions, I go to the studio and blast the music that heals my soul. I move and process and cry and calm myself. Or, I just dance. Fully present in my body, with whatever I am feeling.
I no longer numb anything. Which is why I was hating on being sad last week. Nobody wants to be sad. My go to these days is to pick up my phone and look at all the plants on the internet. I mean ALL the plants. Which is a fine distraction for a bit, but I have learned that eventually, I am going to have to sit with whatever it is that I am avoiding. I am going to have to process it in some way. Some healthy way. Apparently, It takes a lot to be mentally and emotionally healthy. Also, if you need help with your plants, I am your girl. I have learned so much!
The truth is that I AM comfortable in my body today. Most days anyway. Because I love who I am today. I’m comfortable in my head and in my heart.. I have fought hard to be here. And more than that, I am comfortable with people being uncomfortable with me. That’s where the real freedom is.
I’ve been baking all the cookies, making all the candy and doing all the shopping. I am really feeling the spirit of Christmas this year. Which is different for me. Usually I feel overwhelmed, and not at all excited about the holidays. Usually the Solstice hits, I have a ceremony, and boom. The magic hits me. This year things are different. I feel different. I’ve been taught to get curious about things when I feel different. To ask WHY? The obvious answer is Covid. We aren’t traveling this year and nobody is traveling to us. That could almost be enough. It certainly removes a lot of anxiety from the equation. But there’s a bigger why for me.
We have lived in this house for 15 years and we have spent Christmas here exactly two times. The first was the Christmas I ruined. The second was my first sober Christmas. I don’t really remember that one very well. Which is odd, since I was sober, but then again, it proves to me how jacked up my brain really was. The “Christmas that I ruined” might sound like another exaggeration, but I promise, it’s not.
I had been drinking around the clock for days, weeks, maybe even months. I really don’t know. I just know that I wasn’t able to make any good decisions. My brain wasn’t working properly anymore. I can put it together through Facebook memories and journal entries and it went like this. It was a few days before Christmas and I was on my way to do some Christmas shopping for the kids. Some of my friends were meeting at the bar at the pier for lunch. “Lunch” was liquid and after a few drinks, I wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t go anywhere. A girlfriend gave me a ride home that evening. When I showed up at home, drunk, with no packages because I hadn’t gone shopping, my husband was pissed. Hurt would work here too, but this hurt showed up as anger. He insisted that I get my car home from the bar. I don’t know if I took a cab or if someone came to get me, but I went back to that bar to get my car. Obviously I had no business driving. My husband was always the first one to take my keys and hide them from me, so I can’t really say what he was thinking. Other than he was hurt and angry, at his wits end and over it. The bartender wouldn’t let me order a drink. Believe me when I say it’s hard to get cut off at a bar that makes money selling alcohol. But, I had been there all day and they weren’t thrilled to see me back. So I cried like the raging alcoholic that I was, had a drunken fit and left. I drove to the library and called a friend who came and got me. I think we went to the ABC store, I know we went to a bar, and at some point we went to the home of another friend and really, who the fuck knows. I was blacked out and wide awake from what I’ve heard. It’s not pretty. Eventually I crashed. When I woke up the next morning, still drunk, I had zero desire to go home and face my family. So I went to see another “friend.” I knew I had to get the Christmas shopping done so we set off to the big city of Wilmington. Only I got sidetracked by a bar. And I didn’t go shopping. By this time my family and my real friends from all over were calling and texting, telling me to get my ass home. But I couldn’t. I wanted to. I just couldn’t make myself do it. And then finally, it was night time again. It had been two days since I had gone to retrieve my car. A friend who really loved me called me and talked me into coming to her house. She stayed on the phone with me while I drove to her. She was on the phone with my mom when I arrived. I remember nobody being mad at me. And this surprised me. They were all too scared. She talked me into going home.
When I got home, it was not the same welcoming environment where nobody was mad at me. It was the exact opposite of that. But I also didn’t care. I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember getting in the hot shower, sitting down, crying and throwing up over and over again. A lowest low for sure, but there would be many more even lower lows. I passed out. While I was out my husband went through my phone and saw every awful thing that I was. All of the awful choices I had made. It was Christmas Eve. He called everyone we knew to tell them ALL of it. It felt like he was telling on me. Gossiping about me. And he was. But he was really seeking support in the only way he knew how. I spent the day dry heaving, crying and attempting to be there for my children. I can’t even imagine how this looked. I know how it felt, because I can still feel it now and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I didn’t drink that day.
My husband went out with our friends that evening. It was Christmas Eve and someone was having a party. I stayed home with the children. I played Santa as best I could with the gifts that he had shopped for on his own. We woke up on Christmas day. The children opened their gifts and we tried to be happy. But there was no happiness. Not in the hearts of my husband or myself. And as much as I would like to think the children were happy, how could they have been. My only solace is knowing how this turns out. And then it was Christmas night. While most people were enjoying their holiday meals of Ham and Turkey or whatever they were eating, my family was eating Chinese food and we were grateful that the Chinese restaurants were open on Christmas. Because I just wasn’t able to pull it together and do more than that. This was the real eye opener to everyone who knows and loves me that I had a real problem. And yet, this isn’t when I decided I needed to stop drinking. I stayed sober for a few days I am sure. I found a therapist as well as a couples therapist shortly after Christmas. But it would be another 11 months before I got sober. The longest 11 months of my life. My youngest child has no memory of any of this. My older two remember bits and pieces. I still cringe at the scene of the family in A Christmas Story in the Chinese restaurant. After that awful year, Christmas always felt like a Fixmas to me more than an actual holiday. A time for me to repair the damage I had done in those awful days in 2011. I have written all about that year leading up to my sobriety in this blog, so I am going to skip most of that for today. Except to mention that the year was FULL of ER trips, medical detox, psych wards and treatment centers. As I sit writing this I can’t even recall exactly what led up to the final trip to a treatment center. I don’t think it was a big event and I don’t feel like digging in my memory bank. What I do know is this. My husband dropped me off at the front door and drove off. He didn’t get out of the car. He didn’t come inside and wait with me. He said “I hope you figure it out this time” as I was getting out of the car and then he drove off. I remember that I laid down on the couch in the reception area and when they were ready to admit me they had to wake me up. I spent the Thanksgiving holiday at the treatment center. My family could have came up to spend the day with me, but how awful would that have been? Even I wasn’t selfish enough to ask them to do that. So I spent Thanksgiving with a bunch of alcoholics and addicts eating shitty food. When it was time for me to leave the treatment center, my family wasn’t ready for me to come home. My husband had seen me do the same thing so many times that he was afraid I would immediately start drinking again. We made a plan and I went to a half way house. It was two weeks before Christmas and the women who lived in the house were busy putting up the tree when I arrived. Every day I was planning my escape. The house was less than an hour away from my home, so I was able to visit with my family from time to time. It really sank in with me that this was NOT the life for me. I needed to be with my children. I needed to be present in their lives. These people who lived in this halfway house were not my people. Even if they were exactly what I needed. And they were. My parents came from Kentucky to spend Christmas with my family. They wanted to make it a happy occasion and give some normalcy to a less than normal time. On December 21st my husband picked me up for a quick trip home. He planned to return me that evening, but I wasn’t having it. I knew before he arrived that I wasn’t going back. And I didn’t. I spent that Christmas at home with him, my children and my parents. The only memories I have are the ones I can piece together from journals. I know it was better than the year before because I was sober. My relationship with my husband was severely strained. For obvious reasons. My only thoughts during that time centered on not drinking. What a weird fucking time early sobriety is. Going to meetings, talking to sober people, trying not to drink. Insert a few wholesome activities to fill time and keep oneself from drinking. And repeat. I’ve heard it said that it’s much easier to stay sober than it is to get sober. Damn if that’s not the fucking truth. It blows my mind to look back at my journals and see the me of seven years ago. The me of seven years ago could have never pictured the me that I am today. I honestly only wanted to get well enough to leave my husband. Because I hated him and he was the bad guy, He was the bad guy who told on me when I was doing things I shouldn’t be doing. He was the bad guy who was always mad at me, again, because I was doing things I shouldn’t be doing. He was over my shit. He only real desire was to keep me alive through all of my extreme drinking so my children would have a mother. I never could have imagined that we would be together all these years later. I still aggravate the shit out of him. In different, mostly healthy ways. Recovery changes everything.
And to bring it all back to the here and now…..this year Christmas feels very special to me. For the first time in years. When I am curious about it, I know why. I am excited to be at home with all three of my children. My daughter doesn’t live at home and we haven’t been together on Christmas morning since she moved out, three years ago. Nothing about this year feels like FIXmas to me. I’ve done the work, I have fixed ME. This is the year to sit back and enjoy the blessings in my life. At home. Quietly. With the people I love the most. This is why I am so feeling it this year. In a year where so many can’t spend time with their families, mine is right here. I am grateful and I am blessed. This is my why.
This pandemic living is a quiet life. These days I get excited about my sleep quality. I am ok with quiet. I like solitude. But I also rather enjoy having the option to go places. We all do. I know. These past weeks have been particularly difficult. I got my hopes up that we would enter Phase III of reopening our state and I would be able to open the yoga studio. I don’t even know that people will come or that I want to be in there, but I did get excited about the option. I rearranged my pricing, updated my software, sent out the blast email and waited for the announcement that didn’t happen. I created an expectation that wasn’t in line with reality. It was my own fault that I was disappointed. I know better. “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” I just forgot.
Then there was that hurricane. My home is fine and we came through unscathed, but my island is not fine. My friends weren’t all so lucky. It hurts my heart to see so much loss. Nobody was injured and things can be replaced. We all know this. But when it’s your stuff, it still hurts. Watching people I love struggle hurts. I forget that I am incredibly sensitive. I am an expert at putting up a wall to protect myself. It’s necessary and it works. It has always worked. But some things are just too big and too sad and you have to experience them to move through them. These past two weeks I have been experiencing my emotions in a big way.
Last week a woman I loved very much passed away. A woman I watched struggle. A woman I watched rise. A woman I watched fall. I rooted for her. I root for everyone and hope we all make it. We don’t all make it. And it hurts. This week I ugly cried. I don’t cry often, because when I do, all the grief in my heart comes out and I feel like I will never stop. And it scares me. I cried for everyone I have loved and lost. Crocodile tears, chest heaving, loud sobbing, couldn’t breathe, pain in my heart crying. And then it stopped. And I was ok. But damn.
Then there’s this overwhelming feeling of homesickness that keeps coming back. I shared about it on my FB page and it helped to know others are feeling it too. It helped to identify where it’s coming from. But, it didn’t just go away. It’s not there constantly, but it’s still there. Some days it’s strong. Some days it’s just background noise. But because I know how to live in the solution and not stay in the problem, I use my tools. All the fucking tools. I stick close to the people that feel like sunshine to my soul. I tell the world I am sad and get blasted with love from hundreds of people. Thank you people. I needed that. I’m not homesick for a home that I came from. I have never been more at home than right here on this island. This is where I am rooted. This is home to my children. My community is here. I stopped trying to escape myself here. This is my home. And these feelings are just another layer to all of THIS. I am just missing the way of life that isn’t reality. These are just more feelings that I get to experience. We’re all experiencing loss in one way or another. My heart hurts for my friends who can’t see their children and at the same time, I realize that mine are never leaving this house again. My days of morning baths, and pizza in bed while my children are at school are OVER. First world problems. I know how incredibly lucky I am that my children are old enough to navigate this new school year at home. They are self sufficient and motivated. We have a peaceful home and everything they need to be successful. My heart breaks every day because I know that’s not the case for so many of our children. The tug of war between gratitude and grief. There is so much both/and going on in my world right now. It’s a lot. For all of us. In our own way. It hurts and it’s beautiful at the same time. I never for one second doubt that this is all necessary. The whole “great change is preceded by chaos.” No conspiracies. Just the understanding that this is what evolution looks like. This is what it feels like. Growth is always painful. We are ALL living outside of our comfort zones at the same time. It would sure be helpful if we could all be gentle with one another and with ourselves.
I did my taxes last week. I thought you should all know that. I waited until July 15th on the off chance that they actually would magically get done. They did not. I am never doing my own taxes again. I am good at a lot of things. I enjoy a lot of things. Filing my taxes does not fall into either of those categories. Something else that isn’t magically getting done is that book I am writing. Or, not writing as it turns out. I tried using the share it to social media for accountability approach. That looks like me sitting down at my laptop by 6:30 every morning and posting a selfie to my story so the world knows that I am doing the thing I said I would do. But early morning selfies are tricky. I always forget that I just woke up until I see the pic. Then I have to take 72 more selfies until I get a decent one. Then I write. This is is what I have learned. I write like I do everything in my life. I am either all in or I am all out. There is no in-between. These past two weeks I have been all out. And it feels like I am done. Not just done, but mad about it. As in fuck this fucking book, it’s stupid and I don’t even want to write it. Which is how I know that I’ll keep doing it. I was doing great, sitting down at the same time every day, posting my selfies to my story, getting solid word counts. I felt like I was really doing something. But I don’t actually know what I am doing. I’m just writing. Which is probably fine because I never know what I am doing, and things always work out for me. Usually better than I could imagine. When I look at my life I see that things work out for me. But I also know I have to put the work in. None of it ever happens magically. One might think I would stop hoping for that, and yet, I never do. But I have this friend. I am 100% certain this woman showed up in my world to help me write this book. She’s a writer. And an editor. Among other things. And she believes in me way more than I believe in myself. Some days she talks me into believing in myself and it lasts for weeks. Then I slowly start to get in my own way. Doubt creeps in. I am writing about a past that is painful and dark. As I write from this place it’s hard to remember that I am not that person. It’s hard to be the confident and strong person I know I can be. The old story creeps up and brings those old feelings with it. The doubt struggle is real. It shows up as shame. It shows up as “not enough.” It shows up as “too much.” It shows up as “who am I to think I can write a book?” It shows up as “why would anyone care what I have to say?” The worst part is that I know in my heart that none of it is true. It’s my head that gets in the way. My story is powerful. My voice matters. But that dark past is a hard place to write from. When I write from that place, I am IN that place. It’s painful. It was suggested to me that I write about my right now. Because my right now is pretty damn fabulous. It’s full of love and joy and so many blessings that it sometimes brings tears to my eyes. It’s full of amazing people and beautiful experiences. It’s full of women who lift me and a family who loves me. It’s full of beaches and sunshine and dancing. But it’s still so new to me. I recorded a podcast a few weeks ago, and that’s probably right around the time I started losing steam for this writing project now that I think about it. The podcast was recorded with a woman who thinks I am 100% bad ass. I have only met her in person two times, but she’s followed my journey on social media and knows enough about me to know that she wanted me to share my story. I shared my journey to self love with her for this podcast. Because it really is a journey. We started in my childhood and moved forward. We had an hour for the podcast. When we were finished I was worried that she might not have gotten what she wanted. She got a small piece of the self love she was looking for. She got a LOT of darkness. But that’s the story. That’s where I am in my journey. I lived many, many years in that dark place. I have only been here, in the healthy place, a short time in comparison. It made me sad. I felt like she wouldn’t want to use my story because there’s too much self loathing and not enough self love. There’s no self love in judging myself harshly for my past. I know this. It’s easy to say. But it happens. It happens when I write about my past. And the doubt comes back. It’s a vicious cycle. But I have awareness and awareness is everything. I am going to keep writing. I am going to write with the expectation that it actually will be easy. But it won’t. And then I’ll get mad and I’ll quit. For a while. This is how I do everything worth doing. It’s not really for me unless I say “fuck it, I’m not doing it.” It’s my go to. And I mean it every time. A thing to know about me is that I am persistent. I know this about myself. It might take years, but I’ll do it. I already have the tattoo. I have to do it now. I fully expect the process to suck. But that’s just because I’m still mad about it.
I am a planner girl. I love my Dragontree Apothecary Rituals for Living Dreambook Planner. I love the ridiculously long name of it. I love the color of it. I love the pages. I love that it’s spiral bound. I don’t get paid to share that with you, it’s just the best planner out there. But I should get paid, because half of you are going straight to Google to see what you’ve been missing out on. I know it’s the best because every year I buy multiple planners in search of the BEST one. I get planner envy when I see a friend with a cool new planner and I have to purchase the same one. Just in case it’s better than the one I have. And the good planners aren’t cheap. I have bought them all. The Passion Planner, Erin Condren LifePlanner, Law of Attraction, The Desire Map. The list goes on. I even bought one strictly because one of the reviews claimed it was the best planner for a “grown ass woman.’ Obviously I had to have it. Because I’m a grown ass woman. I also have an old school desk calendar. One of those huge office calendars that lays flat on my desk and covers the entire surface. I also have a small, fits in the purse that Idon’t carry type planner. The Dragontree Planner is by far my favorite. I like to know my schedule. Shit. I like to HAVE a schedule. I have not had a schedule since March 15th. I opened my planner lastFriday and flipped through three months of blank pages and started again. Now I am writing every mundane thing that takes time in my day and space in my planner. All the things Inormally just do and don’t need to be reminded of. Vacuuming. Laundry. Grocery shopping. These are not planner worthy things. But it gives the illusion of a full and productive day. And there really are no pandemic planner rules.
I flipped my desk calendar right past April and May which were never touched. But what’s the point in actually using that one. It’s my work calendar for planning events and workshops in the studio. Sure there have been things that I’ve had to do since March. Places I had to be. But no real schedule. That’s completely my own fault since there are routine things I could be doing to keep some sort of schedule, I just haven’t. I’ve let go of Zoom yoga with my teacher, although I miss him and my shala peeps terribly and think about joining every week. But it’s hard to get into yoga TV and there is usually something that stops me. Driving my oldest son to work. Sleeping. Nothing. Something. My son has his license now, so that’s not an excuse anymore. But there are other things that creep up and take precedence. Mostly, I just can’t get my heart into it. But I will. It will come back.
Last week I went to an AA meeting. The first meeting I have been to in months. It was outside. And it was lovely. I forgot that those coffee drinking old men need me. And the women too, although you never hear me mention them. I forgot that I have a lot of joy and wisdom to share and it’s much needed in that world. I forgot that I love A.A. Something else I completely forgot that might surprise you. It surprised me anyway. I love teaching yoga. When the world shut down, I was completely fine taking a break from teaching. I considered Zoom, but it is 100% not for me. So I didn’t. But when I taught that first beach class last month, it was pure joy. Not that beach yoga is ideal, not for me, but I am grateful to have the beautiful open space. I am grateful to connect with people in that way. It feeds my soul. And I am grateful to once again have things to plan. Things to write in my planner.
Since March, I have felt extremely stuck. Stagnant. My “one word” for 2020 is expansion. How fucking hilarious is that? This year has felt anything but expansive. It has felt constrictive and stuck and stagnant. I have yet to figure out exactly how I am expanding although if you asked me I would give you an answer. I would tell you all the ways my heart has expanded. I’m not really sure though. But I have faith and more will be revealed and all of that. I do believe it’s there though. I just can’t see it yet.
I stopped setting intentions. The new moons. The new weeks. The new months. They have all zipped past me without the feeling that I needed or wanted to plan, plot or intend for any kind of forward motion in my life. I’ve read more fiction in these last few months than I have read in years. I forgot that I love fiction. I’ve started to work my way through the 25 Marvel movies in order. I think my husband tricked me into that one. I let him. The superheroes are smoking hot. I’ve been content chilling at home. I love my home. But magically, with the last new moon/eclipse/summer solstice energy, I seem to have gotten my mojo back. Remember, I love it when things magically happen for me. It’s my favorite. Forward motion friends.
My fire to write has been reignited. Not that Covid extinguished it. I stopped writing nearly as soon as I started back in January. Mostly because I didn’t think I had anything to say. But I do. Maybe nobody wants to read what I have to say, but that’s not the point. I am writing again and it feels great. At least for the past week. Nine days if we are being technical. Now to stick with it for just 83 more days until it becomes a habit. No problem, right? I wish y’all could hear me laughing. Laughing because it actually is a problem to make myself get up at the same time every day and do anything these days. I talk a big game of self discipline is the highest form of self love for someone who is lacking in the self discipline area. But self acceptance is up there at the top too and I accept the fact that my priorities have shifted.
We are all learning to navigate in this new world. It’s not my favorite. I doubt that it’s anyone’s favorite. I miss sitting in circle with my soul sisters in the studio. I miss hugs. I miss having lunch with my friends. I miss practicing in the shala. I miss grocery shopping like a normal person. I miss thrift stores. That’s pretty much it. The list isn’tlong.Idon’trequire a lot. My husband would disagree. I like being at home. I like my family. Something else I miss is the way people used to be nice to one another on social media. Those were fun times. I have such a love hate relationship with social media. Facebook in particular. Social media has been a powerful and positive force in my life. It’s connected me to so many amazing people. It’s helped my recovery, it’s helped me build a business, it lets me see what my family who are all far away are up to. But my God. People suck right now. Or maybe they’ve always sucked and I haven’t noticed. My scroll game is strong and I am usually able to scroll right on past the bullshit, but there’s so much of it these days. I am mindful of my feed and have carefully cultivated it to be a positive and inspiring place for me, but the ugliness has crept in. And the people who only acknowledge my existence when they want to make a snarky ass comment. I can do without all of that. Life is too short to spend it aggravated with people who live behind a screen. Perhaps this is what’s going to finally cure my addiction. But I doubt it. Because as much as I would love to completely disconnect, I cannot. My business needs social media presence. So I unfollow. Constantly. And clearly I need to do more of it. Not today though. Today my schedule is FULL and I have a life to live in the real world. After the nap I have scheduled in my planner.
What an uncomfortable time to be alive. When I open social media, which is way too often these days, I see two types of people. The excessively grateful and the excessively pissy. The pissy ones are the ones arguing with everyone and posting nothing but doom and gloom. Arguing with everyone. I tend to fall on the excessively grateful side. Don’t get me wrong, I can be all kinds of pissy and I am at some point every day lately, I just don’t spread that out into the world. I keep it to myself, take it out on my yoga mat, put it in my journal and my husband gets more than his fair share of it. Sorry Leon. The world is stuck right now. What I see is that those of us who have a practice are getting through a little easier than those who don’t. When we actually practice. Which is proving to be a challenge for me. That’s why it’s called a practice, right? I’m completely off my schedule like the rest of the world I imagine. Staying up late and sleeping in. I miss my morning quiet time, before the world wakes up. Some days I set my alarm, but most days I don’t. Getting up early is one of those things I “should” be doing. My mind swims in the things I “should” be doing. I “should” be reading all those books on my shelf, and I am trying, but I’m just not into it. I have two books that I am currently working my way through, both by authors I know and love. And I hate both books. I’m sure it’s just me and the weird mood and lack of focus I’m experiencing. Maybe I just need some good fiction in my life. I “should” get my ass off social media because it’s a waste of time and since the studio is closed, I don’t have to promote my business. But, my friends live there and it keeps me connected. I unfollow and unfriend people constantly. The negative Nelly’s. Limiting screen time is on my list of things to do. It’s seriously right at the top of my intentions. I “should” be streaming online classes. I paid for a Zoom account and everything. But here’s the thing. I don’t want to. And I have some guilt about it. I feel bad about leaving my people high and dry, but the reality is that while yoga is absolutely essential, I am not. Anyone can lead people through an asana practice. Every teacher I know is streaming on Zoom. It might be the Rebel in me that is refusing, but my heart just isn’t in it. I could change my mind next week. Or even tomorrow. That’s what I’m noticing more than anything is the way my mind and emotions are all over the place. I know that’s not unique to me and we are all experiencing that. I’m just trying to be gentle with myself and the rest of you. All of this is showing me that I am judgmental AF. That’s my lesson this week, this month, this year and maybe this lifetime. I judge myself more than I am judging everyone else, but I catch myself doing that too and I have to stop and remind myself that we are all doing the best we can with what we have. I just wish some of y’all could do better…….lol. I “should” be writing. I “should” be doing my taxes, but now I have that extension, and if you know me, you know I’m not. I “should” be connecting to my community and leading everyone in group meditation because the world needs that right now. The list of things I should be doing goes on and on and here I am doing none of it. That’s where I am. Stuck. And I know it’s ok. I really do. I know I’m not alone in this. Every day is a new opportunity to practice. Practice moving forward through the stuck-ness. This feels a lot like early sobriety to me. The being unsure of what I’m supposed to be doing. The emotional rollercoaster. The uncertainty. The being uncomfortable. All of it. It’s not my favorite. But unlike early sobriety, I have the tools to navigate this. I can be uncomfortable. I can be uncertain. It’s about going back to basics. It’s about sitting with myself. Just sitting. Writing my way through it, which I will admit I haven’t done. I opened my journal yesterday and saw that I hadn’t written in it since March 10th. Which is craziness, but these are crazy times. And I wrote. No guilt over all the days that had gone by. I just poured my heart out onto the pages. Back to basics means that I might be taking two baths a day. Snuggling my boys. Netflix. I don’t even watch TV, but here I am on the Tiger King train(wreck). I even busted out the adult coloring book today. That took me way back. I’m getting by the best I can. I believe we all are. Whatever that looks like for each of us. I’m letting go of “should” and doing what works. Giving myself permission to just be. My heart hurts for the world. Some moments it overwhelms me. I am one of those excessively grateful people. I have to be. Gratitude carries me through. I can be mad, sad and all the things in between, as long as I bring it back to gratitude for all the things that are right in the world. Gratitude is my anchor. I see beauty on the other side of this. I’ll keep looking for the beauty in every day. I have everything I need plus all the extras for my comfort. I have my family and community for support and love and I have all the free time I could ever ask for. When I feel overwhelmed, I bring it back to this. Again and again.
I started a 7 week “Embodied Writing” course on Monday called Too Much, Not Enough & Shame. What I mean by “started Monday,” is that on Monday I received my first email with my instructions, looked at it, and then didn’t do any of the exercises. Yesterday, the second email came with new directives. I have yet to open it. This is who I am as a person. When I lead writing workshops, there are always people who don’t do their assignments. It’s never my favorite, but I understand it. Resistance. In the circles I lead, a common theme for us is “letting go.” Over and over we let go of that which no longer serves our highest good. Outdated beliefs we hold about ourselves. Shame, being “not enough” and being “too much” are always right at the top. Not just for me. For ALL of the women. It’s a common theme. Doubt is another biggie, but isn’t that just us telling ourselves that we aren’t enough? Or too much? I was having lunch with a friend a few weeks ago, and we were discussing this very thing. Later that day, I opened Instagram and saw a post advertising the course. We all know social media spies on us, but in all fairness, this was a page that I actually follow. And this course was everything she and I had just discussed. Obviously, it’s not just prevalent in my circle. This is a real thing. I emailed her the info and before I had a chance to sign up, she texted me to say she was in. Signed up, and paid for IN. I followed her lead. This week, I have been the girl who signed up for, paid for and was excited for a new journey only to avoid the shit out of it when it was time to actually do the work. I think this will sound familiar to some of the women who are in the writing group I am currently leading. I see you. I feel you. I am you. Resistance to doing the work. Because it’s not fun unpacking these narratives that we have been telling ourselves for so long. This morning I finally did the first exercise. We were asked to spend time with our hands holding our heads…..embodiment. Followed by connecting to our breath. I typically like to come out of my head for these practices, but this asked me to do the opposite. We were to make two columns on a page (or 7 pages if you’re me) and list the times we felt we were too much or not enough in one column and in where we heard that story or whose voice is telling it in the second column. I get the method to her madness head holding embodiment practice now. This is what I discovered. I carried a sexual abuse secret with me as a very young child. I went to Kindergarten knowing I was broken and different than the other children. I didn’t need any other voices telling me I was not enough, or too much, because my own little voice was powerful enough. Of course, there was plenty more on that list. That was just the first thing that I wrote down. My first memory of feeling broken. My list was long and full of stories and voices other than my own, but really, my own voice is the loudest. And as I grew, the secrets and the shame grew. That “not enough” story got louder. In the rooms of recovery the phrase “we are only as sick as our secrets” gets thrown around a lot. And it’s true. I don’t hold onto secrets anymore. I have a full conceptual understanding that for me, secrets are incredibly harmful. I have a team of support people in my life that I am comfortable sharing with. Women who won’t judge me and will hold my secrets. Women who will love me unconditionally. That is exactly the thing I aspire to give back in the circles I facilitate. The first exercise of this course has cracked me open and brought up a ton of shit that I have already worked through. And it’s brought up things I haven’t thought about in years, or rather, conveniently misplaced in my brain. Because that’s what our brains do. Rearrange things to help us survive. But I am no longer about that surviving life. I am all about thriving in life. And I absolutely AM enough. I know this in my soul…..my mind questions it occasionally, but my soul knows that’s bullshit. That leads to how knowing I AM enough can feel a lot like being “too much.” Whew. How’s that for some serious bullshit stories I tell myself? Embracing ALL the parts of me and sharing with the world can feel like I am being too much. Too silly, too smart, too spiritual, too sexual, too loud, too public, too much. I’m gonna do it anyway, because that’s who I am. Unpacking the story of too much is going to be interesting. But I’ll be right here. Embracing ALL of my too muchness and showing it to the world.
Last week I celebrated 6 years sober. I considered updating my birthday on FB to my sobriety date so people would post happy birthday on my wall, but that seemed like an asshole move……so I didn’t. Also, I didn’t think of it in time. When I say I “celebrated” 6 years of sobriety, what I really mean is that I had a beautiful sober day just like any other. There was no big party. I posted a sober selfie on social media. I went to an 8 am AA meeting. I don’t even remember what I did after that. It was a non event. I hope I took a nap. I know I went to the middle school that afternoon to pick up my youngest son and then we went to the high school to take pictures of the band for my oldest son. THAT was the celebration. Spending time with my children. And loving every minute. 6 years ago I might have been able to do those things, but it would have been an awful experience. I would have been worried that I smelled like alcohol. It would have been an event to “get through” so I could get back home and have a drink. And I would be ashamed of these things. That’s how life was 6 years ago. And it sucked. But I’m not here to dredge all of that up today. Sober life is way more pleasant. All of my sober years seem to have a theme. You can read a little recap of those themes/years here if you’re feeling it. When I think back on my last year (year 5) to try to come up with a “theme” it could easily be the year of the bathtub altars. I did a lot of that this year. But it’s got to be deeper than that, right? Year 5 was the year of community. I’ve known for a while that building community is one of my super powers. Which is interesting, because I spent a lifetime feeling apart from. Like I didn’t quite belong anywhere, even though on the surface I could fit in anywhere. Now I see how this “weakness” is my strength. It’s fueled my desire to build a strong community where I feel loved and supported. That community has expanded in such a way that I can see it impacting others. I see others finding the same love and support that I was seeking. I see meaningful relationships being made. I see connection. And it’s beautiful. We all want to be seen. We all want to feel like someone gets us. I spent a lifetime trying to fit in to places I didn’t belong. I was missing the piece where I had to learn how to truly belong to myself first. It’s ironic that I started using drugs and drinking to fit in and be a part of all those years ago. To belong. Only through the process of stripping that all away and peeling those layers to find me, could I truly find a place where I belong. I belong to myself. I put so much of me out there for the world to see. This is my process. It’s not for everyone, but it definitely is for me. It empowers me to show my real self to the world. All of it. Not just the pretty parts. This is how I belong to myself. It’s letting go of what other’s will think. Because it doesn’t matter. By belonging to myself, I am owning my power. By belonging to myself, I am living confidently (most of the time) in the skin I am in. Without numbing out to make myself more comfortable. Without dumbing down to make others more comfortable. By belonging to myself I naturally attract others who are walking that same path. Those who aren’t automatically fall away. “To thine own self be true.” Back in my early sobriety I used the term #teamshannon a lot. #teamshannon referred to my family and the 5 friends I had. The team has grown exponentially in 6 years. It has grown because it’s no longer all about me. I have learned how to hold space for others to be seen and heard. I have created a space that allows others to shine. I have created a space that allows others to find their way home to themselves. A community where we all belong. And what an amazing community it is! ♥️