Imperfectly Perfect

Arm balances happen to be my nemesis at this point in my life for a variety of reasons.  One because they require that you hug like holy heck into your midline and fire up your core.  And this Southern girl doesn't have the rock hard six pack abs of a mountain girl (yet).  Mine are more like a loaf of bread.  Granted they've changed from fluffy white bread to day old baguette, but still I'm not crushing cans with them anytime soon.

So the idea of lifting my rather large bum off the ground and coming into Eka Hasta Bhujasana then to Astavakrasana seemed laughable this morning in class.  It's this for those of you who don't speak Yogi...

As Bridget walked us through the pose, I winced and struggled and managed to hover about a centimeter off the ground before collapsing into a heap.  Then she did something even more laughable than me getting into the pose, she called on me to demo.

I took a deep breath.  Said a little prayer.  Drank in the love coming from the 20 odd people in the room.  And just like that my hips lifted.  My legs crossed in front of me.  And while I couldn't quite maintain the pose long enough to fully rotate.  I rose higher than I ever had.

Was it perfect?  No.  Was it even the full version of the pose?  No.  It was messy, and silly, and all over the place.  But it was deeper than I had ever gone.  And it was only that way because I was demoing.  Because she picked on me.  Because she challenged me.  Because people were watching.  Were counting on me.  Were supporting me.

It's like what your family does.  What significant others.  Brothers.  Sisters.  Aunts.  Uncles.  Grandparents.  Parents.  Best friends.  Do.  They see where you are weak and they challenge you.  They press into your tender spots.  They may even cause half of them.  They may annoy you.  They may hurt you.  They may be mean, and horrible, and ugly.  But that's all part of being human.  Cracks are where the light comes in.

And how great is that?  How great is it that we all have our own built in Bridgets?  Our own crack makers?  People that will call you out in front of the class.  That will force you to woman up and get your butt off the ground already.  And maybe the way they do it isn't as gentle as you'd like.  Maybe you have to spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars in therapy to rise above the damage they can sometimes cause.

But without them you'd be huffing, and puffing, and struggling.  Your butt firmly planted on the ground.

And as much as I can complain about my own family, without them I'm wouldn't be here.  Wouldn't be making the changes I am.  Wouldn't have had the courage to pack up and move across the country.  To excel in school.  To work hard.  To be bright and shiny and brave.  I learned all those things from my family.  And yes, I learned some neurotic things too.

But it all comes out in the wash.  Because ultimately I know it's all of that.  The good.  The bad.  The ugly.  That's gotten my butt off the ground so I can soar.

It's what's let the light in.  And there's so much light.

I love you and miss you even if I do whine about you.


With Our Powers Combined

Gulp.  Err, hi everyone.  Sorry about the silence.  It's just taken me a few days to find my feet since being completely knocked outta my socks by the out pouring of love I received on that last post.

Seriously, I am blown away by everyone's kind emails, messages, FaceBook posts, and comments.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  It really does take a village to raise a child, and only because I have one of the most amazing villages surrounding me was I able to radically transform myself.

I'm also saddened a little because it shows just how much the, "love and take care of your body," message is missing in our culture.  How we beat ourselves up.  Struggle against who we are.  Are disconnected.  Discouraged.  Disheartened.  Dull.

I never would have thought that all the events of my life would converge and I, big/fat/unathletic/ me, would be becoming an "expert" and inspiration for healthy, well living.  But it seems to be where my life is heading.

Sara McKeown, Licensed Professional Counselor and Wellness Coach.

I know this because of you.  Because you had the courage to tell me that what I wrote resonated with you.  Because you shined my light back to me.  And frankly that's a little intimidating because you guys have such big, amazing hearts.  And seeing that reflected back to me blinded me.  Makes me question whether I really do know what I'm talking about, if I can be a Wellness Coach, if I have anything to offer.  Because really me?  Are you sure, God?

It calls into mind that Marianne Williamson quote everyone knows, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"

And that Internet is currently where I'm stuck.  I am terrified of stepping out of my comfort zone, hanging up a shingle, and taking the risk of sharing my knowledge.  Of being brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous.  Because what if no one listens?  What if people point and laugh and make fun of me?  What if I fall on my face?  What if I hurt someone?  What if I hurt myself?

But the quote goes on, "Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

So, I keep trying to shine.  I call the Idaho Board and get the ball rolling on my license.  I buy a domain name.  Write programs.  Drink my green smoothies.  Commit to what it is that I'm called to do.  Even when it's scary.  Even when it's hard.

Because ultimately I want all you guys to shine, to be liberated.  And I can't do that if I'm not practicing what I preach.  We're all in this together after all.  And when we shine I imagine it's like the Care Bear stare, darkness doesn't stand a chance in the face of our radiant hearts.

So stop playing small.  Take a risk.  Shine your light.  Because you never know when your light will light someone else up.

It sure has given me the courage I needed.

I love you and am so incredibly grateful for your beautiful hearts.

PS-I would like to send a huge shout out to my lovely friend Dara who just took a giant, bright, shiny step by quitting her day job to teach yoga full time.  If you live in Columbia, SC please check her out!

Skinny Jeans and All

When I was 20 and getting ready to ship off for Paris my mom took me shopping.  Among the things she bought me was a ridiculously expensive pair of jeans.  Jeans that made my butt look amazing.  Jeans that hugged me in all the right places.  Jeans that perfectly skimmed the pointy toe flats that were all the rage then.

I loved those jeans.  I wore them all around Paris.  Drawing in the Louvre.  On dates with a very handsome French man.  Out to Giverny.  I was beautiful and young and I had the wardrobe to prove it.

Then my mom got sick, then she died, then I dated some truly awful men, then had some fallings out with friends, then got a soul sucking job, then etc, etc, etc.  Life wasn't so beautiful and I was no longer so young.

Instead I was this... and only because I love you and want to help you am I willing to share this most god awful photo.

It was an incredibly painful time in my life.  And instead of womaning up and dealing with it, I crammed my face.  I put on a protective layer.  I insulated myself against the hurt.

It was easier that way.  To numb myself with refined sugar and carbs.  To create five minutes of bliss as a whole carton of Ben and Jerry's passed between my lips.

Everything else was so outta control.  So awful.  So tragic.  And I didn't have the voice to express my true feelings.

So I didn't.  I ate them.  And ate them.  And ate them.  And with each bite I started hating myself.  Because look at me.  That spunky, beautiful, creative girl.  That girl who ran away to Paris, who pierced her nose, who modeled nude for figure drawing classes, who was bubbly and charming, well she was no where to be found.

I squashed her and most anything I sat on.

All the while those jeans.  Those pretty, skinny, amazingly perfect life girl jeans sat at the back of my closet.  For awhile they mocked me, "You'll never wear us again.  Look at you."

But I kept them.  Mainly because they reminded me of a time when life was good.  When I was happy. When I was myself.

They fell outta the top of my closet when I was packing my stuff to move here.  And while I had shed some of my dead mommy weight, I still couldn't button them.  But I tossed them into my bag anyway because I was moving West.  And you never know.  And I'm sentimental.

As most of you know, not only did I get them on AND buttoned the other day, I discovered they're slightly too big.

I wish I could answer all your, "how did you do it," requests with a simple diet and exercise plan.  But I can't.  Because my transformation has been much deeper than that.

Yes, I started drinking green smoothies.  And doing a heck of a lot of yoga.  And cutting out carbs and sugar.  But none of that would have worked had I not done the hardest thing of all.

Loved myself.

Loved every extra part of me.  Every roll, protrusion, and wrinkle.  Every feeling.  Every thought.  Even the bad ones.  Even the ones I had tried to eat away.

If I hadn't loved all that.  Hadn't completely unbuttoned myself.  None of that other stuff would have worked.  It would have just been a crash diet.  A fad.  Something to try.  Another way to regulate my feelings.  And ultimately another cycle of success and failure and self loathing.  Like all those cookies.

Because it wouldn't have been genuine.  Wouldn't have treated the underlying problem just the very large symptom.

But when you reach down and deal with the yuck.  When you give yourself permission to be you no matter what the scale says (no matter what other people say for that matter).  When you really love you.  Taking care of your  body is easy.  You don't need plans and diets and regimens.  You just naturally want to honor, and love, and nourish it.  Because that's what you do when you love something.

Is it harder this way?  Yes.  Does it take longer?  Yes.  But my gosh it's so much more rewarding.  Because this way of being lasts a lifetime.  And is independent of what the scale says.  Of which jeans fit.  Of who died.  Or broke up with you.

Although I gotta admit, sliding back into my skinny jeans feels amazing.  Mainly because I know I'm sliding back into my true self.

I love you no matter what size you are but I want you to love and care for the body you're in.


PS-If you truly are interested in weight loss, spirituality, yoga, green smoothies, and the "plan" I used I'm in the process of creating The Embodiment Project: Six Weeks to a More Vibrant Mind, Body, and Soul.  It will be jammed packed with tips, tools, and support to began loving yourself and the body you're in.  I'll keep you guys posted as I move forward with the project in case any of you want to sign up.

Don't Fence Him In

I often use fairly odd metaphors to describe my dating life (hula hoops for healthy boundaries, trains for my future husband).  So it's not really surprising that I found striking similarities between love and a story about raising wild geese for foie gras.

The traditional method of procuring this delicacy involves strapping the goose down and forcibly shoving copious amounts of corn down its gullet.  Which of course, is like surgically attaching yourself to your mate and forcing him to love you.  The image of Elmyra Duff exclaiming, "I'm gonna hug you and kiss you and love you forever," while squeezing Furrball to death comes to mind.  There's a reason why gluttony is a seven deadly sin and why all the animals were terrified of Elmyra.  No one likes to have copious amount of anything shoved down their throat.  Not even love.

So a man in Spain decided there had to be a better way to skin a cat fatten a goose.  One that wasn't so inhumane and torturous to the animal.  His method required removing the tubes, setting the geese free, and ignoring them.  This was so remarkable most people in the culinary world didn't believe it to be true.  No way could you get foie gras like this.  Because how, without forcing the geese to eat, could the livers possibly grow into the Nerf football size necessary for true foie gras?

The answer?  Because it's in their nature.  In their very DNA.  In order to prepare for winter, geese will naturally stuff themselves.  The only catch?  They have to believe they are wild.  They have to believe they are free.  If they do not believe this.  If they are fed.  Or fenced in.  Or in anyway domesticated their nature will not kick in and they will not gorge themselves.  Their livers will not triple in size.

So the farmer in Spain doesn't do any of the things a traditional farmer would.  There are no fences.  No feeding.  No protecting.  The geese are free to go wherever they want.  Eat whatever they want.  Be whatever they want.  They are truly free.  And because of this, they eat and lounge and don't fly south for the winter.  That's right.  These geese do not fly south for the winter.  Let me say that again.  THEY DO NOT FLY SOUTH FOR THE WINTER.  Because and I quote, "Their DNA is to find the conditions that are conducive to life.  To happiness.  They find it here."

By allowing the geese to be fully what they are without interfering, this man produces the most highly prized foie gras.  The best tasting.  Most humane.  Award wining.  Delicacy.  He keeps them by letting them be free.

Now I think you can all guess where this is going.  In the past I've been that traditional farmer.  I've built fences, had expectations,  clung to my dear goose boyfriend, begged for love.  For attention.  For affection.  For his liver him to do exactly what I wanted.

And well that's worked out exactly how traditional foie gras has.  I've created a lot of fat unhappy geese.  Myself included.

Now imagine.  Imagine if you loved without forcing.  Without clutching.  Without needing.  If you just let your partner be.  If you gave him a wonderful space where he could truly be himself.  Well then he might never leave.  Might never fly South.

Imagine then if you did this for yourself.  If you just let yourself be.  If you gave yourself a wonderful space where you could truly be you.  Well then you might just be able to start your own gaggle.  Because birds of a feather flock together.  And when they find happiness right where they are they create the best tasting relationships.

Just ask the farmer in Spain.