I Love You to the Moon & Back

I love you, I love you.
That is all that has ever mattered.
Live your full life and I will always be with you.
--- Cell phone call, September 11, 2001
Dear Internet,

Let's all pretend that I haven't ignored this blog for the past month, and we're all up to speed on what's going on in my life, ok? Because telling you exactly what has been going on, did go on, is currently going on is a epistle I don't have the time or energy to write, nor you to read. Trust me. It's been crazy. Is crazy. And I'm not sure I even believe all of it—yet.

But please know I'm safe, happy, loved and still looking at the Tetons through my windows (and will be for awhile).

This year has been one of the most transformative of my life. It's also been the hardest, saddest, best, happiest and every other emotion you get to experience when you pack up everything you own and move across the country to completely change your life.

I've had moments of sobbing on the studio floor. Moments of spreading my arms to the sky and screaming I love my life. And regular everyday nothing special moments too.

But through all those moments—those hot mess moments, those jump up and down moments—the one thing I've consistently had is you. That's right—you. Whether I know you or not. Whether we speak, or smile, or laugh, or cry, or just exist here together on this planet. I've had you.

You, who comes here and reads my words. Who may scoff, or laugh, or roll your eyes. Who may send me love notes, or what heck are you thinking notes, or hold my hair, or dance with me. Or never even talk to me at all.

You've been there.

Are there.

And knowing that has been what's pulled me through this year. Has helped me pick myself up off the floor, smile a little brighter, try a little harder. And for that I'll always be grateful.

You are beautiful and amazing and so precocious to me. I can't tell you enough—show you enough how much I appreciate you. How much of a difference you've made.

And I know I often suck at telling you. Can drop off the face of the earth for weeks on end. Can get so wrapped up in my daily drama that I temporarily forget you. I'm sorry for that.

But please know I love you. I love all of you. Even if we drive each other crazy sometimes, or don't understand each other, or don't talk for weeks (or at all).

I love you and I'm so grateful for you. I couldn't have done any of this without you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

You are so important and matter so much and I wish I could hug each of you.

More stories are forthcoming (scout's honor), but I have a lot of people that I can and need to hug, and kiss, and tell I love.  And so do you.  So scoot.

The world is too beautiful & life's too short for you to be sitting around reading my blog.

I love you dearly and miss you terribly.

XO,
Sara

Why saying I love you is so important.

Circles and Squares

It was well after midnight and I had just come of off two twelve hour shifts slinging beer to Teton Valley's unwashed masses when I found Eustace Conway in my mailbox. Eustace is the main character in Elizabeth Gilbert's The Last American Man, a biographical novel a friend gifted me because he thought I was ripe for it and that Eustace had something to tell me.

Despite the fact that my feet hurt like hell and I could barely keep my eyes from fluttering closed, I cracked open the spine. Because what can I say? I'm a junkie for the written word and couldn't resist a fresh score (especially one from this particular friend).

By page two I was hooked. This is your brain on drugs, egg in the frying pan, hooked. I couldn't put the man down even though I tried. I found him to be all at once charming, and alluring, and down right maddening. Because he's a man so committed, so hard headed, so selfish that at times he cuts his own nose off despite his face. Yet, at others he's the most connected, sensitive, charming pied piper of a guy you can't help be be drawn to him. Can't help but to want to sell all your stuff and walk right out into the woods and live with him in his teepee.

That's right. This girl. This city girl who owns 50+ pairs of shoes found herself wanting to walk right out into the woods and live in a teepee and eat squirrel and never come back again. That's the power of this man. This book.

Then the more I read the more I realized he sounded like every guy I'd ever dated (especially the last one). So maybe selling all my stuff and moving to Turtle Island to sit at his feet wasn't such a good idea. I mean if my dating history is any indication of how well I do with stubborn men who enjoy immense amounts of personal freedom well then I should probably steer well clear of Eustace Conway and his 1,000 acre nature preserve no matter how alluring. And boy is it. Is he. Alluring.

Because who doesn't want to be free of the stress of the modern world? To not have to worry about bills, and health care, and running here and doing this. Thoughts that have been pervasive since I packed up my car, sold most of my belongings, moved West, and got a not real job. Thoughts that have only gotten louder and stronger as I've started working one day a week on a farm, teaching more yoga classes, and picking up odd jobs here and there to make ends meet.

Which is a way of life I knew nothing about until moving here. Because bless their hearts, my family prides themselves on being well educated, upstanding, contributing members of society. Which is fantastic the world needs such people. And I'm very fortunate to have a whole host of incredibly talented doctors, and lawyers, and engineers I can call to bail me out when need be.

But this also means I was never granted permission to have those pointless but fun jobs, as college was a time for studying. Not for waiting tables or tending bar or being a ranch hand. And after college was a time for getting a real job that had benefits, and insurance, and a 401(k). Not for taking off across America or hiking Patagonia. So, now, at almost thirty, I find myself drawn to these things. This way of life. This kind of living. Which is an entirely different verbiage from working and is exactly what Eustace preaches.

That most Americans live and work in a box. Eat from a box. Drive a box. Do box like things. Never once considering breaking out of that box. Which is detrimental to the earth and everyone's health. So he offers a different way. A circular way. A way that is connected and integrated and whole. That honors the rhythm of nature. The cycle of earth, and life, and death. And isn't about filling a box with more boxes. Or in my case a closet with more shoes. But is about being mindful and respectful and breaking out of the box. About doing crazy things like riding across the country on horseback or hiking the AT mostly nude or living completely off the grid because you can. And why not?

And while I realize that I like my iPhone, and painting my nails, and electricity a little too much to go completely native the box metaphor does resonate with me. Especially since I was just offered a job that comes with so many boxes I could build a mansion sized fort with them. A job that by most people's standards is a good job with all the right boxes-health insurance including dental and vision, a 401(k), paid vacation, a hefty salary, a relocation bonus, paid CEUs and supervision and expenses, automatic increases in pay, etc, etc, etc. It also comes with some boxes that should be sent straight to the recycling bin as far as I'm concerned. Boxes like 24 hour call Monday through Friday and one weekend a month, a 40-60 hour work week, mandated clients, Medicaid paperwork, rigid counseling protocols, and a staff I haven't exactly connected with.

Boxes so large that I wouldn't even have time to consider other boxes. Much less buy them or enjoy them. And the only circles I'd get to experience would be the ones I was constantly running around in trying to keep up. Which is not what Mr. Conway had in mind with his metaphor I don't think. 

So, now that I know Eustace. Now that I've experienced a different way. Now that I've taught yoga, slung beer, housesat, catered, done graphic design and PR work, pulled weeds on a farm... Now that I've pieced together boxes of work that allow me to have a more circular lifestyle. That allow me to live instead of work. To do what fills me up instead of what fills a box. I'm not sure I can take a job that is all boxes and no circles.

Because if I've learned nothing else from this book, from my year here, it's that ultimately once you break free of the box it's hard to go back in again.

XO,
Sara

PS-Don't worry your pretty little heads my darlings no final decisions have been made yet. And even if I don't take this particular box I'm still fairly certain all my boxes will end up back east. So everyone take a deep breath (especially you Dad).



Times are a Changing (and Quick)

"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." —Ana├»s Nin


Oh Internet,
There are so many things I want to tell you. The words rattle around in my brain and I struggle to catch to them. To pin them down on this page because there are so many. So many stories to tell. Stories about boys. New boys, old boys. Stories about jobs. New jobs, old jobs. Stories about yoga, and meditation retreats, and finding God. Stories about stories.

Because this past month or so has been one story after another. One story dissolving. Another being created. Two more springing up. Three leaving.

A rush of new words and old words and unexpected endings and beginnings. So that when I start to tell you one thing it's quickly become another and I'm not sure what to say. Except that cliche is true, the only constant is change. 

And boy have things been changing. Have I been changing. Rapidly. So fast that I often go to sleep one girl and wake up another. That one minute I have a plan and the next I don't. That right is left and left is right and my world is upside down and right side up again. And again. And again.

And how wonderful is that? To be so tapped in that things are moving. Rushing around. Shifting. Changing. And fast.

Too often we resist this. We cling to the past or reach out to the future. We attach ourselves to what we should have done, or said, or been. Or to what we have to or must do next.

Bypassing the moments that actually create the done or going to. But this middle part. This force that through the green fuse drives the flower is so sweet. It's what makes the bud blossom. And the blossom decay. It clears out and makes room. It creates and destroys. And without it you can't have seeds or flowers. Can't till, and plant, and reap.

So I try to sit with it. To marvel at the growth it causes. And the destruction it brings. Knowing that they are both the same. That I can't have one without the other. That if I want the blossom I have to be open to the decay. To the shifting and changing.

As radical and forceful and unpredictable as it may be.

So while I wish I could tell you all my stories. Pick the blooms and present them to you in a neat bunch. That doesn't seem to be how this is working.

Because just as soon as I gather them up they've already wilted and they're are others that need to be plucked.

And I know this will settle down. That the process will slow and there will be time to present you with a final bouquet. A longer absolute. But right now those are things I cannot say. Can't tell you what, or who, or where is next. And I'm ok with that. Because the blossoms I've been given are beautiful even if they don't last.

Hope you are well. Miss you terribly.
XO,
Sara

THE FORCE THAT THROUGH THE GREEN FUSE DRIVES THE FLOWER
Dylan Thomas

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.


THE ACT
William Carlos Williams

There were the roses, in the rain.
Don’t cut them, I pleaded. They won’t last, she said.
But they’re so beautiful where they are.
Agh, we were all beautiful once, she said,
and cut them and gave them to me in my hand.


What's Love Got to Do with It?

Love.

I wish it weren't such a weighty word.  Because I find myself wanting to say it.  To tell him I love him.  And not in a let's be together forever and have lots of sex and babies kind of way (which family is a quote from a movie-chill out).

No.  The love I have for him has nothing to do with our could be or maybe not future.  It's like the love I have for the sun when it tickles my skin while pulling weeds at the farm.  Or the delight I experience when a fresh strawberry bursts open on my tongue.  Or the wonderful cracking open I feel each time I come to my yoga mat.

It is a love that just is.  Because he is a good.  And pure.  And wonderful man.  And I appreciate the time he devotes to me.  The things he says.  How he lives his life.  What he does.  Who he is.  And just as I want the sun to know I love its rays, the food I eat that I appreciate its nourishment, the practice I have that I honor its transformative power.  I want him to know those things too.

To know that I recognize him.  That I see him.  And that he is delightful.

But it's only been several weeks.  And he is there and I am here.  And love is a weighty word.  One that wields much power.  Can cause fear and constriction.  Turning away.

And I don't want the sun he's brought into my life to stop shinning.  I don't want the delight and brilliance and transformation to fade.  And I'm afraid that if I let those words loose they will shift things.

Create expectations.  Rules.  Boundaries.  Where none are now.  Where at this point I'm not even sure any should be or ever will be.

Because saying I love you is not like picking which movie you want to watch.

It is real.  And important.  And if you take it back it hurts.

So I keep the words in my mouth when we speak.

Then I remember that video about the horse.  And I realize that really, because we are mirrors for each other, the love I have.  The love that wants to rush out and spill onto him.  It's about me.  It's mine.

All he's done is reflected the deep delight and joy and love I have for myself.  The recognition and sight I at last have found for me.

Not for my life.  Or my place.  Or for what I do and think and feel.  But for who I am.

For the good and pure and wonderful woman I finally see myself to be.

And that.  That kind of mirroring.  That brillance.  And delight.  And knowing is so much bigger than he is.  Than I am.  Than our could be or maybe not future is.

Which makes the words suddenly seem small and unimportant.  Because the gift he's given me is one I'll always carry with me.  One that will color all I do.

So I don't have to say it.  He'll see it.  You all will.  Because now I do.

XO,
Sara

Warning the first 40 seconds of this video are terrible but the cover is worth it so just tough out the beginning.

Another Life on Another Shore

Shortly after Brian broke up with me the studio officially went up for sale.  An opportunity I would have unhaltingly and without reservation said, "Yes!" to before April.  As it was something Brian and I often talked about.  Me buying the studio.  Us moving in together.

But it wasn't before April.  It was now (or rather then-two months ago).  And while at first it seemed like a golden opportunity delivered on a golden tray sprinkled with golden dust that I'd be a fool to turn down.  I mean hadn't I always wanted to own my own business?  And doesn't it even have space for a counseling office?  Something about it clammed my lips.  And it wasn't just the change in my relationship status.  There was something deeper that prevented me from emphatically saying, "Yes!"

But I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  Nor could I figure out whether or not the feeling was legitimate or just silly I'm not good enough fear.  So I decided to put off the decision (hence my cryptic post).  To sit with it awhile.  Try on what owning the studio would feel like.  Consult trusted friends, advisors, and mentors.  Run off to study meditation.  Remain open.  Instead of just jumping right in like I've previously done.

Which has been hard.

I like plans and rules and checklists.  I like knowing what's next.  And I thought I did.  Stay here.  Keep doing what I'm doing.  Move in with Brian.  Make it work.

But all that got pulled out from under me and (at times) I felt like I had capsized and was drowning.  Relationship-done. Place where I live and work-done and done.  I no longer had a direction to row.

Then slowly I started to tread water.  Rafts, life preserves, and hands were lent to me.  Prayers, cups of coffee, midnight conversations, and great acts of kindness were shown.  This strengthened me so I was able to grab ahold of the boat.  So I could eventually haul myself back aboard and start paddling.

The only problem is I haven't known where to.  So instead of forward progress I've mostly just aimlessly smacked my oars on the water.

Sure I could buy the studio.  I could be good at it.  I could make it work.  Smack.  Smack. Smack.

But as my beloved teacher said, "It's not about making it work it's about being in the flow."

And I realized today, as I was driving back from a meditation workshop, here is not where I flow.  It's too hard to paddle.  My oars just won't catch.  Sure this place has been good to me (for me) but it's also been a struggle.  Continues to be in some ways and feels like it always will be in others.  And I can't just keep sitting here rowing around in circles.  I gotta get on with things.  Go somewhere.  Find some calmer waters.

So as much as it pains me to admit this (because I know I'm going to be letting a whole host of people down) I'm not landing here.  I'm not buying the studio.  And I'm not staying.

I'm still not exactly sure where I'll drop anchor (Or is it land this plane?  I forget which metaphor I'm using).  Regardless, it's time I put up my sails and look for some wind because I'm tired of beating my knuckles together.  Here is just too hard.  And staying I'm afraid means constantly being knocked out of my boat and having to scramble back in again because there's nothing left for me here.  I've learned what I needed.  There's no where else for me to go here.

I'm so sorry to everyone who wanted me to stay.  Who wanted me to buy the studio and put down roots.  Part of me really wishes I could and I'm so sad I can't.

But it's not what I'm meant to do.

Driggs is not my port of call.  My final destination.

I still have miles to go (and I'm fairly certain they're in the easterly direction).

So much love and thanks to everyone here and there.  To the people who've helped me back in the boat and paddled it when I couldn't.  And mostly to those who really believed in me.  Who thought I could buy, and own, and run, and manage, and teach here.  Your encouragement buoyed me in ways you'll never know.

I'm forever grateful to you all.

XO,
Sara

What It Means to be a Real Woman

"The quickest way to emasculate a man is to tell him what to do."

I felt like calling all my ex-boyfriends and apologizing.  Because as the former Valedictorian of Everything I've told most all the men I've dated they're doing it wrong, offered very pointed do it this way suggestions, taken over, and not respected their thoughts.  Whether that be from what we were having for dinner tonight to stop it I'll just fix the stove because I can do it better.

Which now, after three days of Mastin Kipp's Love Uni-versity: Love and Relationship Bootcamp, I realize is horribly unattractive and totally disrespectful and not at all going to land me my Prince (a word that sort of makes me throw up in my mouth a little but one Mastin uses to describe the sort of man one should pursue-as a opposed to a knight who's off having adventures and slaying dragons and shacking up with fair maidens and not at all interested in building a kingdom with you).

So to all the men I've told to drive a different direction, or take me to another restaurant, or no stop-do it this way, or most recently for the love of god get over yourself and just talk to me already Brian White, I am humbly and most apologetically sorry.  I've been terrible.  I've not presented you with the opportunity to show up in your own way.  I've demanded you do it on my terms.  I've been hard and focused and driven.  In other words-I've been a total dick (and yes I just wrote the word dick on a blog my family reads.  It will be fine just breathe. Also sorry family!).  And while that may be my job in my professional life, it's not in my personal and I'm sorry I've done that to you.

What I should have done is be a vagina (something a dear teacher once recommended to a good friend which totally made me giggle).  Because be more like a vagina?  WTF?

But I get it now.  As a woman I'm made to be soft, open, receptive, watery, flowing in my relationships.  I'm called to, "respect my chosen man and his thoughts, suggestions, ideas, and plans EVEN WHEN I know I'm smarter and can do it better."

Yeah read that again.  EVEN WHEN I know I'm smarter and can do it better.  Talk about punching my inner Valedictorian right in the gut.  Are you crazy?  Even when I know I can do it better?

But I've come to realize that's what it takes to make relationships work.  Both parties can't be hard and driven.  Someone's gotta bite their tongue every once in awhile.

And when you can do that.  When you can present the problem but not the solution.  When you can remain open and let a man show up in his own way and time without telling him exactly how, when, where, and why he should fix the sink that particular way you'll get a partner who can, "cherish his chosen women's feelings even when she's being irrational, irritating, and totally illogical."

Which let's face it happens a lot, at least around here.

So I think the trade off's worth it.  And I'm adding it to my list.  Practicing being open not directive.  Because does it really matter which road we take to get there in the end?

No.  It just matters that I accept whatever shows up, whenever it does, in its own way.  Because that's my job as a real, powerful woman.

And it's also what I want done for me.  To be loved just the way I am.

XO,
Sara

Of course the day after that course started this was on Elephant Journal because you know God likes to beat me over the head with the lessons I'm supposed to learn...

A Call to the Divine Feminine: Ten Bold Invitations from the Sacred Masculine


All At Once After Awhile

The one thing that Ms. Elizabeth Gilbert fails to mention in her book is that after your wonderful ceremony atop the sliding board where you make peace with your ghosts and find God you eventually have to climb down and get on with living your life.  And while it was all peace, and bliss, and contentment atop the sliding board real life is a bit messier.

Real life finds you sitting across from one of his dear friends having coffee, driving past his house twice a day for the next while because of course the house you're staying in is in his neighborhood (where else in the whole freaking county could it be?), exchanging emails about him, passing him on the road.  And a whole host of other things that bring him right up instead of leaving him off in the distance where you threw him.

And even though you know.  Mentally understand that it's over and he's seeing someone else.  And that your own life is turning out quite amazing really.  Sometimes it takes awhile for your heart to catch up with that.  For your body to release the pattern.

So you find yourself speed dialing one of your best girlfriends demanding she tell you to "Stop! Turn the car around right now.  Don't you show up on his doorstep."  Or crying after yoga because my god this sucks so much how could he possibly already be in a relationship with someone else?  Or furious because he refuses to acknowledge your very vulnerable email.

Then other times you find yourself smiling so much it hurts, dancing wildly around your house, so full of love and joy your head might just rocket right off because you've reconnected with a really great man.  A man who pursues you.  And says and does the most wonderful things.  And you're running a 5k, and going to study with Paul, and have some pretty rockin' plans with some amazing women.  And your life is so full and rich.

And then it's not.  And then it is.  All at once.

Because things aren't simple.  Because you can't really throw anyone off into the distance.  You carry your experiences with you.  Your memories and love and tears.  All of it is part of you.  And being authentic and real and vulnerable is not easy.  It's a constant dance between those things.  Around them.  

And you do the best you can to be present for all of it.  To say in one breath I do miss him.  Followed with but there's also so much good.  Because that's your truth right now.  And that's ok.

Because you know that if you throw time.  And goodness.  And compassion at it.  At yourself.  One day your stomach won't drop at the sound of his name or the sight of his house.

But that can only happen if you let all the feelings come.  If you acknowledge them, feel them, and let them pass (without doing crazy reactionary things like showing up on his doorstep and making him a part of it).  If you savor the good things.  If you continue to put one foot in front of the other.  One smile on top of the next.  Remaining curious about what's next and where you're going to live and who you're going to love.

Because that's the only way the light you let in can grow.  If you feed it openness.  Truth.  Authenticity.  Vulnerability.

So here I am saying I miss him and I don't.  That my life is fantastic AND hard.  That, "I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."  And that there's room for all of it.  Which is actually pretty wonderful when you think about it.

XO,
Sara

How Sara Got Her Groove Back

"You know for the next cycle of creation to happen you have to completely finish the one you're in. What do you need to finish?"

Two names punched me right in the gut and without thinking I blurted them out.

"Just remember that they may not be available to help you complete the cycle.  You might have to do it yourself.  But it's important you find that closure somehow so the next thing can bubble up."

Five minutes later I found myself sending Brian a message.

By Sunday night I hadn't heard a word from the boy.  And as annoyed and hurt as I was that he couldn't show up for me for just fives minutes.  For one cup of coffee.  Or a walk around the block.  I wasn't surprised.

But it was time I be done with it whether he could man up and help me or not.  So I put on my iPod and started running.  And I ran and ran.  And when my timer went off.  I kept running because I needed to get it all out.  I ran while my iPod played the most perfect songs.  I ran while the sun beat down on me.  I ran while I wheezed and about fell over dead.  And with each step I was determined to let go of all that remained of him.  Of us.

Then I circled around to the playground where I sit atop the sliding board and do my daily meditation.  Red faced and winded I started talking to him from my perch.  Out loud.  I told him I was sorry for making him everything to me all the time.  For repeatedly falling apart and making him help pick up the pieces.  For not leaving months ago when I knew I should have.  For making him feel not good enough.  For making him witness and be a part of my complete soul makeover this year.  That I knew it was too much for one person to bear.  I asked him to forgive me.  Then I thanked him for leaving me.  For doing what I wasn't strong enough to do.  For making me laugh.  And teaching me how to survive the winter.  And for being such a nice guy.  For sharing his time with me.  Then I sent him on his way in a very Elizabeth Gilbert kind of way.

Then I sat.  Silent.  Quiet.  Open.  I sat there until something else came in.  Something else entirely.  Something wonderful and unexpected.

Something I can only describe as Love.  Love so complete and whole and God given I started to cry.  Then laugh.  Because this.  This amazing.  Top of the world feeling is what I've been so afraid of?  What I've been running from.  Been eating banana nut muffins to avoid.  My god I've been silly.  Because that feeling.  That feeling of total completeness.  Of perfectness.  Of not having to do or be.  But being held and supported and loved even if you aren't the Valedictorian of Everything.

That's better than any Brian.  Any boy.  Any banana nut muffin.  And all I had to do was create the space and ask it in.

I sat there until the sun went down.  My skin glimmering.  The biggest stupidest smile on my face.

And for the first time in a long time.  Since that time in October when Brian and I broke up actually.  I felt like myself.  Like my hopeful, encouraged, joyful, squealy, bubbly, full of love, jump up and downy self that I'm so famous for back South.  I spent the rest of the night dancing and smiling and laughing.  Marveling at how great, how light, how connected I finally felt.

Monday morning she said, "You look so much better.  I mean I've just watched you lose your joy over the course of this year.  But you look radically different now.  Back to how you were when you first moved here."

Then someone else said, "You know he's got another girlfriend."

And I said I know.  And I smiled.  Because I knew I had finished it.  That the cycle was done.  And because of it.  Because of that divine love I let in greater things were about to happen.  And boy have they...I've gotten a job interview, dates with beautiful friends, items crossed off my life list, and a reconnection with a wonderful man.  All sorts of things have danced right in.

But most importantly I have.  I've come back.  Bright, bubbly ME.   And that's something far greater.  Far more valuable than any relationship.

And something I'm determined to never lose again.  Regardless of what man or banana nut muffin happens to wander in.

XO,
Sara

This was the song my iPod decided to randomly play on my walk home.  Thought it fitting since I had gotten my light back.

Synchronicity

As I sat down to read my book this evening my eyes caught the spine of another book sitting on my shelf.  Succulent Wild Woman by SARK, I picked it up at the thrift store and haven't gotten around to reading it yet.  I'm always doing that-collecting stories for later like a squirrel preparing for winter.  Upon seeing it I was reminded of her inspiration line-a hotline you can call that has a recorded message on it.  I found it after my mom died and use to call in frequently when I was feeling lost.  But it's been years since I dialed the number.

I found myself being pulled to dig it out and listen in.

Of course it was exactly what I needed to hear.  Especially this poem she read...

Kindness
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the
Indian in a white poncho lies dead
by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night
with plans and the simple breath
that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness
as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow
as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness
that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Maybe it will be what you need to hear too.

XO,
Sara

Only the Lonely

The day after Brian and I broke up I did what I always do-called the first available man in my phone and arranged a date.  Then I called all my girlfriends and arranged dates with them too.  And when neither man or girlfriend was available I arranged other dates.  Dates with going out of town.  Or running.  Or reading.  Or working.  Or doing.

Except all my dates kept saying things like:
"You know ever since you were about 13 you've never had any trouble finding a boyfriend.  How about you start working on quality instead of quantity and take your time."
"Maybe it's time to figure out what you really want without a boyfriend."
"Have you thought about being alone for awhile?"
"I know you don't want to hear this but maybe you should be alone for awhile."
"I don't think you need to rush into something else.  Take some time to figure out what you want."
"What does Sara want?  Not what does Sara's boyfriend want.  What does Sara want?  You can only figure that out if you are alone."

Alone.  Alone.  Alone.  I felt like punching each of them.  Because how much more alone do you want me to get?  I live in Driggs.  I work in a studio that has no other employees.  I could easily go days without interacting with another human being if I tried.  My friends and family are 3,000 miles away.  And my one rock solid person in town just dumped me.  I am alone ok!

Except I wasn't.  I was doing a dang good job of filling my days.  Because I don't do alone.  It makes me nervous and twitchy.  Gives me the extreme desire to jump right out of my skin and bolt.  Causes a pit to develop deep in my stomach.  One that calls for banana nut muffins and chocolate.  Or anything that will fill the giant gaping hole really.

Because to sit and feel your feelings and be alone.  Truly alone.  Well that's hard.  That's when the real work begins.

And who really wants to do that?  Who wants to wade into their dark places?  Feel all their feelings and be alone?

No one that's who.  So we don't.  We numb ourselves with other people.  With calendars full of busy.  With dinners and dates and banana nut muffins.

But when we do that.  When we fill the giant gaping hole with things and stuff and talking it blocks the Divine from coming in.  It's pretty hard for God to get through the front door when you're always running out of it.

So I've tried to, "Get comfortable with the emptiness (the aloneness) to make space for the Divine."

I've left holes in my calendar.  Cancelled dates.  Sworn off men.  Sat on top of swing sets and cars and mountains listening.  Feeling.  Being alone.  Really alone.

I even plunked down a hefty chunk of change to be taught how exactly to sit in silence, alone, feeling all my feelings without reacting.

Because I'm so bad at it.  Because every inch of my body screams run when I sit to meditate.  Tells me to talk or do or fix.  To eat a banana nut muffin and call a boy.

And well that's not how true Love gets in.

True Love doesn't need talking and doing and fixing.  It doesn't eat banana nut muffins and it sure as heck doesn't call random boys.  It just is.  It's perfect and whole and wonderful.  And it's there waiting-wanting-each of us to let it in.

And all we have to do is drop our fears.  Our insecurities.  Our busyness.  Our banana nut muffins.  And let it.

We just have to clear out the space and throw open the door.

We have sit still and be alone so we can see that true Love is always with us.  It is us.

So when she said to me, "You must feel so alone."  I started to cry.  Because I do.  And I know that's the first step to letting real Love in.

XO,
Sara

Proceeding to the Highlighted Route

"There's this screen in the plane that has all these little blips on it.  Each representing another airplane and where it is in space.  There are numbers and arrows that tell you each plane's altitude and whether it's ascending or descending.  When I first started flying I was so concerned with getting the plane safely on the ground I rarely paid attention to those blips and arrows.  It was too much to try to manage on top of everything else I had to do.  Now that I have more experience though I easily read the screen and see everything that's around me."

His words made me think of my own blips and everything I have on my screen.

I've been so focused on my yogic journey this past (almost) year I've ignored other things.  For instance it's been a year since I've sat with a client.  Or made art.  Or talked to some of my friends.  Or really looked at my life list.  And that's not ok.

It makes me think about Eat, Pray, Love.  And how there's a reason why Bali is the last chapter in Elizabeth Gilbert's famous book.  Because you can't just hide out in an ashram forever.  You have to come back to your real life.  You have to mind the blips, land the plane, disembark, and get on with the process of enjoying your life.  Otherwise, why did you waste all that time and energy getting yourself where you are?

And while some people are called to shave their heads and spend their days tying themselves in knots, it's not authentic for me to keep flying around in my yoga machine shutting out the rest of my life.  The path of a renunciate's is not mine.  While I was learning.  While I was gaining strength and testing the controls I needed that focus.  That one pointed pursuit.  That seven days a week public practice and kicking into handstand as if my life depended on it.  And I'll still need that at times.

But I also need to widen my gaze. To tend to other blips.  Because those other things are just as much a part of me as full lotus is.  They're what give me my Sara-ness.  And what I'm called to do in this life-what we are all called to do-is to use all the gifts God has given us not just the ones that allow us to balance on our heads.

Not to mention if you ignore parts of yourself for long enough they have a way of jumping right out in front of you and smacking you in the face.  Saying, "Here remember me?"  And since I'm tired of beating myself black and blue, I think I'll start paying attention to the whole screen instead of just this one tiny blip.  Least I find myself in a pile on the bathroom floor again, for the millionth time (which yes I know will continue to happen-I'd just like it to happen a little less frequently thank you very much).

What that means at this point I'm not sure.  There's still a giant question mark looming on that part of the screen.  But things have started to come on line in a very big way.  To blink.  To demand my attention.

And they're things I can no longer ignore.  I have to proceed to the highlighted route.  Decisions have to be made.  Ground control is demanding I start my descent (even though I'm not exactly sure where it is I'm going to land).

So this next little while is going to be bumpy.  And I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able or willing to share.  It's hard enough to fly the plane without having to talk about how I'm doing it much less while giving detailed accounts.

So I apologize in advance if it gets quiet over here but it's about to get real up in here.  The pilot has turned on the fasten seat belt sign.  The tray tables are locked, the seats in their upright position, and the jets kicked into full gear.

I'll keep you posted as much as I can.

Please know that I'm eternally grateful for the connection and love I've found through this site.  You guys have been amazing support for me as I've embarked on this epic flight.  I apologize if I haven't always responded as well as I could have.  I hope that changes in the future as I learn how to manage all my blips.

For now I'm gripping the controls, trusting the process, and getting this plane on the ground as safely as I can.

Keep your fingers crossed that I don't crash land. ;)

So much love and thanks,
Sara

Ok so this is about take off but whatever you get the idea...

I'll Be Your Mirror or The Best Metaphor Yet

I'm refraining from writing a string of expletives because oh my gosh I've watched this Ted Talk about a million times in the past 12 hours and my mouth is still agape.  Because this-this is seriously the best metaphor for what happened between Brian and me I've ever heard.  Between all my exboyfriends and me really.  Between handstand, and Ben & Jerry's, and the job I'm afraid to create.  Between everything I've ever had some sort of relationship with including myself.

Turns out all these years I wasn't beating a dead horse I was just unwilling/unable/afraid to dissolve my own fears and insecurities.



Which of course goes along perfectly with this article I recently stumbled upon.

How to Love Happily Ever After

Guess I know what I'll be working on for the next while.  You know after I get over the shock of how perfect that video was for me.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Love,
Sara

How to Bounce Back

Oh Internet there are so many things I want to tell you.  These past two weeks have been full of the best and worst things about life (as it usually happens).

I've been so encouraged and inspired and held by all your thoughts, and well wishes, and prayers.  I really couldn't have made it out the other side without all of you.  So, thank you, thank you, thank you.  I wish I could hug you all.

I've also learned a great deal and accomplished a lot.  Some it I'd rather not share as I want to respect and honor Brian's and my privacy.  Not to mention we each have our own sides of the story.  I'm sure if you asked him he might tell a different version-which is ok.  And I really do wish him nothing but the best.  He's a good guy.  Just not the one for me, sadly.

There are, however, generalities I think worth putting out here.  As what I've learned and struggled with are universal-you have an expectation and when it doesn't get met you feel awful about it.  Regardless of if that's getting a job, losing a loved one, not finishing a race.  We all feel grief and sometimes need reminders on how to ride out its storm.

So without further ado and in no particular order here's what's helped me.  I hope it helps you too.

1.  Somethings happen that you aren't meant to understand.
Will I ever truly, fully, completely comprehend why my mother died?  Or what was going through Brian's head when he so casually dumped me?  No.  No I will not.  You can guess and speculate and make assumptions about why things didn't turn out the way you hoped.  You can replay every second of the situation looking for the reason why.  You can grasp at the answers so violently that before you know it you're accosting him at the bar demanding that he answer.  Except he can't (*and you'd never really do that, would you?).  And even if he could, would it really satisfy you?  Probably not.  Who knows why you didn't get that job?  Why your best friend is moving away.  You just didn't.  She just is.  And would the answer change anything?  No.  So the quicker you can stop asking yourself, "Why?" the quicker you can get on with things.  Which will make everyone in the bar much happier.

2.  Self flagellation is not attractive.
I mean really.  That constant loop playing over and over and over in your head.  The one that tells you all the things you did wrong.  The coulda, woulda, shoulda.  Yeah you gotta kill that one and quick.  Sure you probably screwed up in some way.  We all do.  But you can't change that now.  What's happened has happened.  Make a note of the valid points, apologize to yourself and anyone else you might need to, then silence the rest.  Playing that soundtrack on repeat is the quickest way to find yourself up to your elbows in ice cream and desperation.  Neither of which is flattering or necessary.

3.  Now is not the time to self destruct.
Yes I know you want to drink wine, eat ice cream, and wallow.  But now's not the time to over do it with junk.  Seriously.  You feel crappy enough as it is without the hangover and sugar rush.  And as hard as it is to pry yourself away from whatever your poison of choice is, I promise you you're going to feel a lot worse when at the end of all this you discover not only were you dumped but you gained 10 pounds.

4.  Nourish yourself.
Take baths.  Connect with friends.  Read a book.  Do yoga.  Get a massage.  Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel loved because you're going to need a lot of that to get over this.

5.  Feel your feelings.
Give yourself permission to feel all your feelings.  And I mean all of them.  What you're going through sucks and you have every right to be hurt and sad and angry even if everyone tells you you're better off.  Feelings are real and the more you ignore them the stronger they become.  So let them out.  You need to be sad for a day and cry on the floor about it-do it.  You need to scream obscenities at the top of your lungs for an hour-do it.  Do it and let it go.  Because, "No feeling is final."  Another will come-a better one-but you gotta get the icky ones out first.

6.  Get out of your head and into your car.
There are going to be times when those feelings you're feeling are intense and you just need them to stop because wallowing in bed for a week is unacceptable (and self flagellation unattractive, remember?).  When that happens get up.  Get up and shake your body around.  Go for a run.  Go for a drive.  Plant something.  Do yoga.  Dance in your underwear.  Do whatever it takes to stop the flood.  To distract yourself.  To change the chatter.  To give your mind something else to wrestle with.  Sure it might be a Band-aid on a severed leg but you gotta start somewhere.  Up and moving is as good a place as any.  Not to mention it's rather hard to run and sob at the same time-trust me I've tried.

7.  Remember-it really is for the best.
And yes you might want to punch a person in the face when they tell you this.  Try not to.  But do try to hang onto that message.  Because chances are bad things have happened to you before and with time you've turned out just fine.  Better even.  Reminding yourself of that from time to time will help you make it across the Swamp of Sadness to a more beautiful shore.

8.  Wash, rinse, repeat.
Do this.  All of this.  Over and over and over again.  Until you don't need to.  Then keep doing it because they're all good tips for living whole hearted and authentically.  And if you can do that then the next bad thing that happens won't knock you down so hard.

Thank you to everyone who's helped me do these things recently.  I'm so blessed and I love you all.

XO,
Sara

I Feel It All

"She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short."

"You got this, girl.  Read a good book, take a bath, celebrate you."

A felt a small lump rise up in my throat as I read her words.  Read a good book-Ok, I can do that.  Take a bath-Got that one covered too.  But celebrate you?

What's there to celebrate?

I'm an almost 30 year old very single, very broke girl who does not use her degree on a regular basis and who lives in the back of a yoga studio.  Not really much to pop champagne and tap dance about there.

I had a similar feeling last week when the facilitator of a meeting I was at asked the group to give ourselves a round of applause for all the things the organization had accomplished that year.  Restrained claps went out around the room as we all stared at our shoes.

My resistance in each case made me realize just how awful we are at celebrating ourselves.  

How we're taught not to see how well we did.  But how poorly we failed.  We get tests back marked with how many we got wrong (not how many we answered right).  Our bosses pull us in to chat about a botched task (not to thank us for all the things we do well).  Commercials tell us we're not pretty enough, smart enough, good enough until...(not that we're perfect just they way we are).

There are no gift registries for not marrying that jerk.  No parties for deciding to be childless.  Or landing an awesome job.  No way we mark accomplishments like getting out of bed when it's hard, or making tough decisions, or staying true to who we are.

And if you dare give yourself a pat on the back people whisper about your ego.  How full of yourself you are.

But I'm tired of that.  Because everyday we all do extraordinary things.  Things we should be congratulated for.

Because life is hard and sticking with it.  Embracing it.  Opening our arms wide to it over and over and over again when it kicks us in the teeth is the bravest thing any of us could do.

So she's right.  I'm celebrating myself.  Because I'm a 29 year old free from constraints, the world is my oyster girl who's not afraid to haul off and do something seemingly crazy because she got a "go for it" feeling in her gut.

Who thankfully hasn't married the wrong guy.  Who's smart, and charming, and funny.  Who has a whole gaggle of people who love her and believe in her and support her.  Who laughs most every time she falls down (especially when skiing left).  Who tries and tries and tries some more and doesn't give up.  Who's interesting and passionate and at times a little wild.  Who's done fun things and made people smile.  Who can see the thread of good in all things.  Who gets up in the mornings even when it's hard.  Who isn't afraid to cry and be honest and tell people how she feels.  Who isn't always perfect but who's willing to learn from her mistakes.  Who's open and loving and alive and willing to experience it all.

And that my friends is definitely worth celebrating.  Because it is rich.  And wonderful.  And crappy.  And fantastic.  And sad.  And a million other things.

And if we can't have champagne and tap dance about that than what can we?

Because the world really is beautiful (even when it's not) and life really is short (even when it feels long).  And we are all alive.  And here.

How cool is that?

So pop the champagne.  Put on your dancing shoes.  And celebrate.

I am.

I hope you will too.

XO,
Sara

I would like to point out that I have the exact same outfit she's wearing in this video.  Even down to the boots.

When All Else Fails Trust the Process

I watched in fascination as he plunged the shovel into the earth revealing a hand full of wriggling worms.  It was my first day on the farm and I was mesmerized not by the beauty of the sky, or the cute calfs, or the smell of basil but by sh*t.  Literally.  By muck.  And mud.  And manure.

Things we are typically taught to despise.  To throw away.  Toss out.  Get rid of.  Vilify as dirty, and disgusting, and unclean.

Yet here this man was, shoveling that stuff into a pile.  Saving it.  Culling it.  Creating a space for it.  Nurturing it.  Not pushing it away and carting it off.  But giving it prime real estate right in the middle of his farm.

I couldn't help but draw parallels to my own life as he explained the life cycle of compost and why it was separated into three different piles.  Because apparently I've run out of other metaphors and have started just telling the honest to god truth.

Which is-my life is a giant pile of manure right now Internet.

The past few weeks have been hard.  Not only because Brian dumped me (see the similarities just keep coming) but because that's just how it is right now.  I'm nine months into my leap and it's time to birth something new.  And if you didn't know the birthing process ain't easy.

I've been laboring and pushing and trying to make decisions.  And I haven't handled it well.  I've been sh*tty at times.  And now I'm up to my neck in poop.

It's easy to see only that.  That giant steaming pile of hurt and anger and confusion that's right in front of you stinking everything up.

But that's not all there is.  On the farm there are three piles.  Three piles of muck in various states of decay and stink.  One new and fresh and rotten.  One older but still not completely broken down.  And one that's been left to sit.  To age.  To decompose so completely it's turned from muck and yuck and stink into black gold.  Fertilizer so rich.  So valuable.  So potent.  It turns a plot of land and some seeds into something beautiful.  Something plantable.  Something life giving.

Which made me think back to my own pile of crap.  And how if given time and a little help.  It too will transform.  Turning from stinky and messy and awful to rich and useable.  Allowing me to grow.  To bloom and become beautiful.

But the process of changing the pile isn't easy.  You have to wait it out.  Turning the soil every now and again but ultimately letting nature do its job.

Which is hard for me.  I want to be finished NOW.  I want to be rich and ready and ripe THIS INSTANT.  I don't want to have to turn the crap over.  Wait it out.  Sit in it.  Take my time. And stew.

But I know that's not how this process works.  I have to be patient.  Give it time and space.

Because if I can do that.  If I can just be where I am and trust the process.  Something beautiful will grow from this.

Just like at the farm.

Thanks for sticking it out with me even when it stinks.  I've been blown away by all the love and support and encouragement I've received.  I'm so blessed to have you all.  You have no idea how much your words, and calls, and notes have meant to me.

So much love and thanks,
Sara

This has nothing to do with poop but I dare you to feel crappy while listening to it...

He Huffed and Puffed and Blew the House Down

I'm fairly certain that what the person who said, "When one door closes another opens," really meant was that, "When one door closes a giant tornado will come from out of nowhere and rip down your whole house you arrogant prick-that will teach you to look for windows and doors."

Or at least that's what the past day has felt like.  Doors opening.  Doors slamming shut so hard I'm left standing here going, "What the F#*K just happened?!?" (pardon my french) while I rub my head in confusion.  Hurt.  Desperation.  Anger.  Complete sadness.

Because the thing about doors is that you often don't see their shutting coming.  You don't have time to brace for their impact.  Or steel yourself against their blow.

No, they blindside you.  One minute you're peeking in a vacant house's windows talking about moving in together and the next he's standing in the parking lot saying he doesn't care about you anymore and it's over.

The whalop catching you so off guard you find yourself stumbling to the ground.  And no matter how hard you try to right yourself.  To make sense of the world.  To figure out why.

You can't.  Because ultimately doors open.  And doors close.  And there's really not all that much you can do about it but stay out of their way.

Sure you can show up and do your best.  You can read articles.  Memorize tips.  Make up the bed.  Laugh.  Joke.  Support.  Love.  Cry.  Be interesting and funny and flip your hair.

But sometimes that's not enough.  Sometimes things just fail.

And wham.  You find yourself in a pile on the floor wondering about love and why you do it and if he ever really meant it at all.  And what the hell do you do now.  Because you've built your life.  Your decisions around him.

And he just locked the door and threw away the key.  And you have no exit plan.

Except, you remember that thing about doors and windows and you realize that person may have been right.  Because that tornado.  Those words he hurled at you that tore everything to the ground.  They made an opening.  A giant one.  One that's left you without shelter in the freezing rain.  But they made an opening nonetheless.

And the walls may be torn down.  And house you were building razed.  But the foundation is still there.  And while you might not have the strength to pick yourself up and start laying bricks you know one day you will.  That from the wreckage.  From the bits and pieces that were blown to hell you can make something better.  Something stronger.  Something that will hold next time the doors get slammed.

Because that's what you do.  What you've always done.

Picked yourself up and started again.

But not right now.  Right now you call friends, watch movies, drink wine.  Curse and wallow and cry.

Because laying that first brick is the hardest.  And you're going to need all the help you can get.

Thanks for helping me.

So much love,
Sara

Climb On

The irony of the climbing routes was not lost on me, "Loosen Up" and "Find Your Way."  Two things I seem to be struggling with these days.

When I graduated college I just needed a job.  Any job.  Preferably one that would allow me time off to be with my dying mother while also paying the bills and providing me with adult necessities like healthcare and a 401K.  So it wasn't all that surprising when I found myself donning a suit and working for the SC House of Representatives.  Time off-check.  Paying the bills-check.  Adult necessities-check and check.

By most people's account I had scored big.  I had a coveted state job,  health insurance, and a retirement plan.  I was virtually unfirable and got to rub elbows with important people on a daily basis.  What was there to complain about?

Yet, for me, there was a lot.  I spent most days trying not to bite my tongue off or beat my head against the wall too many times.  Because I quickly discovered I'm not cut out for government work.  Can't sit and push papers around a desk or smile pretty and tell people what they want to hear (and politicians in particular want to hear a lot of things).  However, circumstances required I keep my butt in that job so I did.  For five years.  Five years!

Until one day I just couldn't.  So I quit to go to grad school.  To become what it was I was meant to become-a counselor.

During those two years of therapy and papers and focus, I realized I was also meant to use my yoga practice with my clients in some way.  So after graduation I packed up and moved to Driggs to do just that.  To loosen the intense theory heavy focus of working with clients that had been beaten into me and to find my way as a counselor/yogi/teacher.

However, last night as I was climbing I realized I've gotten so caught up in helping manage the studio, being Cate's personal assistant, and teaching and practicing yoga that I've gotten pulled off my true path.  I've gripped what's right in front of me-my daily tasks, paying the bills, doing my job-so hard that I've forgotten the summit.  The bigger picture.  Why I made this leap and started this climb to begin with.

And I'm feeling like I did when I was working for the state.  Frustrated.  Confused.  Angry.  Used up.  Hollow.  Because I'm not meant for administrative work. For sitting alone in front of a computer everyday.  For carrying out other people's projects.

The summit I'm meant to reach is different.  I'm meant to help people.  To connect.  To use the skills I learned and paid for and believe in to make a difference.

And the route I'm currently climbing no longer allows for that.  Doesn't take me to the summit I want to reach.   And if I'm going to make that destination, it's quickly approaching time for me to switch positions.  Because I can't hold myself up here forever-this route's just too hard.  I have to change holds.  Move forward.  Try something else.

And while I do trust that I can get myself where I need to go, right now I'm not exactly sure where it is I need to go.  Where I need to stretch.  What I need to grab for.  I can't see my next hold.

So I'm stuck here out on this ledge for now.  Clinging.  Uncomfortable.  Confused.  Until I can loosen up and find another way.

Much thanks to everyone who's on belay for me right now as I contemplate my next move.  And for the harness of practices I have that helps hold me up.

I'd be much more tired if it weren't for you.

XO,
Sara

Why I Would Resign If I Could

Most of my life I've been bright and shiny and radiant.  I've answered, "Good!" with a smile when asked, "How are you?"  I've melted my heart and opened to grace ever since my first yoga class 11 years ago.  I've done what makes my heart happy and focused on the good.

And in spite of all that bright, shiny, fight for joie, radiance I've spewed out I've still suffered.  People I love have suffered.  People I don't even know have suffered.  Have struggled.  Have gotten sick.  Injured.  Died.  Done really foolish things and sounded like complete jerks in NY Magazine articles.  

And yet I've answered, "Good!" with a smile when asked, "How are you?"  Because people expect you to be bright and shiny and radiant.  I mean I'm a counselor and a yoga teacher for goodness sake and the sun is shining and don't I have so much to be thankful and joyous about.

Quite frankly I'm tired of that and I don't want to melt my heart about it anymore.  Or open to grace.  Or be bright and shiny and radiant.  I want to be pissed off.  And angry.  And confused.  (Or heck just even keel and normal).  Because sometimes life is terrible.  And you don't know what to do.  Because sometimes you lose everything.  And you don't know where you're going.  Because sometimes you're living in the back of a yoga studio teaching a style of yoga you aren't sure you even believe in anymore struggling to pay your bills even though you're almost 30.  And it sucks.  Or it's just ok.  Or nothing all that special.

And melting your heart and being bright and shiny and radiant when life is like that is akin to someone handing you a casserole when your mom dies.  The sentiment is nice but the hurt is not something a few cans of Campbell's soup and some cheese can fix.

But that runs contrary to what I've built my life around.  What the style of yoga I practice and teach emphasizes.  According to Anusara (if there's even still an Anusara) and common Southern courtesy for that matter, I'm supposed to see the good first.  To open to grace.  To see what a wonderful dance this all is and how much I'm blessed.  I'm supposed to be so bright, and shiny, and radiant you need sunglasses just to look at me.  And while Anusara does acknowledge that the poop hits the fan every once in awhile (and Southerners that you don't always agree with God's plan), you won't see devotees lingering long on that fact.  Or teachers planning very many classes around brokenness, or anger, or hurt.  No most people much prefer the lighter, brighter, shinier, happier merry band of artists (the Lord works in mysterious ways so just count your blessings) approach.

But that seems so cliche.  So shallow.  So hollow.  So narrow even.  Especially since our founder has clearly not only lost his way but his mind.  As if melting your heart and being bright and shiny and radiant will some how fill your bank account.  Cure your cancer.  Solve your mid life crisis.  Make all your problem magically go away.  (If that were the case you'd think John would have been able to keep it together-being the very inventor of all this bright, shiny, radiance stuff).

But that's not the case.  Those catch phrases aren't magical.  Not cure-alls or fix-its.  And not always what you need to do.  Sometimes you need to wallow.  You need to be dark and brooding and have as many feelings as a 13 year old girl.  Had John been given the freedom to express those things more publicly all these years (and had we been strong enough to let him) I wonder if he would have fallen so hard.

That's why I can't do it anymore.  Can't support a system I feel doesn't truly embrace the full spectrum of life (like it claims) but lilts heavily to one side.  I can't participate in this all bright and shiny and radiant all the time thing.  Can't stand in front of my students and utter melt your heart or open to grace.  Can't pretend to be ok about what's happening around me.

Because it's not.  And right now I'm hurt and angry and confused.  I'm mourning the loss of my old life.  Afraid and unsure of what's next.  Angry that what's happened to Anusara has happened.  Annoyed that people I know, good people who I love, are hurting.

And I'd much rather be authentic than bright and shiny (and polite) about it.  Because that's what yoga, what life, should be about.  Being so open and vulnerable you can answer honestly when someone asks, "How are you?"  And being so strong you can hold whatever answer you get when you ask someone else.

So enough with the niceties and pretending.  Let's start getting real.  And telling each other the truth.

I will if you will.

XO,
Sara

PS-I know some of you who are deeply entrenched in Anusara may have some feelings about this.  And I do love the method and the teachings and have gotten so much out of them.  And I'll probably always be teaching some form of Anusara.  And I know it does allow for falling apart and feeling crappy and I'm not at all advocating that we go around teaching people or encouraging people to feel bad.  I've just been annoyed by its over emphasis on the good.  The intense pressure I feel as a teacher to always be bright and shiny and radiant and put together because I feel like that's not authentic. A therapist once said, "When someone is having a pity party you bring pity."  I feel like Anusara would bring a big box of joy wrapped up with a bow then tell the person, "Oh but just open and melt and feel the joy."  When really all the person wanted was some pity.  And that annoys me.  And it's where I am with the teachings right now.  What I'm seeing.  And just like all things I'm sure I'll pulse back and think melting your heart and opening to grace is greatest thing since sliced bread.  But not right now.  Not for awhile maybe.  And that has to be ok.

PPS-For those of you reading this who are saying, "Huh?  What is she talking about?" just google John Friend.  The results should explain why I'm horrified, super angry, and saddened.  I don't recommend the "Sex Coven" article unless throwing up in your mouth a little bit is something you enjoy.

Fake Grass and All My Feelings About Love

"Was it the puppies that did it?"  The waitress asked as my mom shoved her half eaten plate away from her.  It was our annual family beach trip which always includes a rope all 20+ something of us together and go reek havoc on a unsuspecting restaurant affair.  The puppies in question were hush puppies, glorious fried bits of Southern heaven (no longer on my Yogi approved diet), which tend to fill you up making the giant pile of friend shrimp and potatoes (also no longer on my Yogi approved diet) they plop down in front of you for your main meal useless.

My mother, being the fantastic sport that she was, looked up at the waitress with sad eyes, a heavy brow, and replied, "I think it was.  It was the puppies that did it."  Then we all burst into giggles.

That's how I remember her most.  Laughing.  Loud.  Joyous.  Doubled over in the Belk's department store cackling.

After she died I read somewhere that you never really get over the death of a mother just learn how to live with it.  I think that's true.

The waves of grief come and go.  The more time that passes between her death and where I currently am the more time between the roils of sadness.  But they still come.  Especially during holidays.  Or when I do something amazing.  Or when I'm trying to make a decision.  Or when I'm wandering around Tar-jay wishing she were here to buy me a, "Yay you for losing weight wardrobe."

My practices-yoga, diet, exercise, years of therapy, and the support network I have in place-never allow me to get swallowed up like I used to.  But it's a tide I know I'll have to weather for the rest of my life.

When I get married.  Or pregnant.  She won't be there.  When we celebrate Christmas.  Or Thanksgiving.  She won't be there.  When I change jobs.  Or start my own practice.  She won't be there.

She won't be there for any of it.  And I didn't realize just how profoundly her absence was affecting my ability to let unconditional love into my life.  To make decisions.  To settle.  Until I started this April Yogidetox and re-watched the movie Away We Go.

And suddenly it all made sense.  When you've lost one of the people who loves you the most in the world.  Who loves you without conditions or expectations.  Who even in their sometimes flawed and awful way only wants the best for you.  Only wants you to, "Do what makes your heart happy."  Exposing yourself to that kinda love.  Opening yourself up to that again.  Is terrifying.  Because you know exactly how much it hurts when you lose it.  You know exactly how many cartons of Ben & Jerry's it takes to keep the tears at bay.  How many years of slumped shoulders and feeling completely and utterly confused and overwhelmed by life you have to zombie through.  How awful it is to lose everything.  And how much effort it takes to dig yourself out and start again.

So when someone asks you to do that.  Asks you to settle with them.  Says you should start seeing clients.  Promoting your yoga.  Building roots, and a life, and stability.  You run the other way because, "Are you crazy?  It's taken seven years, 50 pounds, and a move across the country to heal from my mom's death I'm not about to build something else I could lose."

Then your boyfriend buys you an Easter basket and signs the post-it note, "Love the EB," like your mom used to do and you realize she's not absent.  Just a little quieter.  That she lives on through the very love I'm so terrified of receiving.  Through the roots, and stability, and family, and laughter I'm afraid to create.

And she'd be so pissed to know that I was timid about having those things.  That I was even pausing to consider their risk.  Because she never did.

She laughed often and loudly.  She ran and swam and worked and volunteered and built a full, rich life.  She settled.  And had a family and friends.  She made memories and loved the people in her life so much it sometimes hurt.

And even though she sometimes questioned those things and had moments of doubt, and fear, and anxiety.  She did them anyway.

And now I know that's what I have to do.

I have to drop-in and ski the line.  Ride the wave.  Walk the line.  See clients.  Promote my yoga.  Build my life.

Happy Easter everyone.  I hope the EB was good to you. ;)

XO,
Sara

Letting Myself Fall Apart (for the next two weeks)

There are some things I'm having a hard time believing...
  1. Someone actually likes me.  And I don't mean in a oh she's cute kinda way.  I mean in a real, deep, let's build our lives together, unconditional kinda way.
  2. I'm capable of eating Kitchari for two weeks.
  3. 6am asana, pranayama, and meditation can happen everyday.  The same goes for 8pm asana, pranayama, and mediation.
  4. An impressive bank account balance is possible.
All irrational I know.  But things that have been swimming through my mind lately nonetheless.  

I started what will be my third cleanse with Cate a few days ago and I'm right smack in the middle of that everything is pouring out of me period and I have a sense it's only going to get worse.

In past detoxes my intentions have always been very bodily orientated.  Lose the weight.  Get rid of the ama.  Heal my skin.  Change my eating habits.

Which was all important and needed to happen least I become surgically attached to my carton of Ben & Jerry's.  But all that overweight, outta whack body stuff was due to much deeper things.  Imagine that.

And while I've kicked a lot of those thoughts out there's one that seems to be deeply engrained.  One that links all four of those above points together.  And that's a deep seated feeling of unworthiness.  Not worthy of true love (1), not worthy of self care (2), not worthy of a relationship with God (3), not worthy of success (4).

I could speculate, and blame, and whine about where it came from.  I could over analyze every relationship and experience I've ever had.  Which I've done during the three years I was in therapy and the two I was in graduate school and had to draw my family genogram so many times I can now do it blindfolded with my arms tied behind my back.

But none of that matters.  What matters is that I let that faulty thinking go.  That I finally pick up the record needle and move it to a new groove for the love of God and all that is holy.  Something that's proving harder than I imagined.  

Cognitively I know those things to be untrue.  I understand that I have value and worth.  That love just is.  That somehow people and God and stuff just loves me.  I don't have to be the Valedictorian.  

But really feeling that.  Letting it happen.  Living in a way that honors that.  Yeah no so much.

Which is why I'm drinking ghee and eating rice and taking herbs for the next two weeks.  So I can practice at it.  So I can remember my true fearfully and wonderfully made nature.  So I can tap the needle to a new groove.  

But writing a new story hurts.  Stuff comes up and out and before you know it you're crying because you had to sit at a dinner table and converse with perfectly lovely people-the horror.  Or you're pissed because you can only find whole mung beans instead of split the jerks!  Or, or, or.

And as annoying and silly and usually inopportune as those feelings are I know they're what need to come out.  

I know I need to let myself really lie broken in a pile on my yogi dorm room floor.  So that's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to let whatever happen, happen.  I'm going to feel it so I can heal once and for all.

Heaven help Brian and everyone else who lives in Driggs. ;)

XO,
Sara

My Never Not Brokenness and All the Things I've Been Feeling Shameful For

Dear Internet,
I've sat down to write a new post at least three dozen times but my hands always go still over the keys.  Numb from the shame of what it is I want to tell you.

This has been a hard month for me and I just need it be over.  My meditation practice has become nonexistent, I fell off the cleansing wagon pretty hard, I'm uninspired in my yoga teaching, I STILL haven't gotten a couch for my office, or worked on my pilot project, or kicked into handstand, or, or, or.

Call it the ides of March.  Mercury in retrograde.  Depression.  Exhaustion.  A dosha imbalance.  Spanda.  Whatever it is I need it to go away because it's making feel pretty helpless.  Restless.  Like a failure.  A fraud.

I sat here and talked about how I'd never go back to my old patterns again because my new way of being just feels too good.  Yet, what I ate yesterday in honor of Brian's birthday begs to differ (pancakes, bacon, carrot cake, pizza).

I claim to be a yoga teacher yet half the time I keep my fingers crossed hoping no one will show up to my class.  And I avoid my own practices.  I show up to class five times a week and call my work done.  Not sitting, not engaging my home practice, not breathing on my own.

I say I want to put my counseling degree to use yet do I have a couch, or a chair?  Have I made flyers or bought advertising?  No, no, and no.

I call myself upbeat.  Joyful.  So loud and positive and happy it makes people's teeth hurt.  But it's been weeks since I actually felt light.  Connected.  So ecstatic I could cry.

And I'm not sure what to do.  Or why I'm back here.

I thought I'd slayed this beast.  Dumped the weight.  Overcome the depression.  Changed my thought patterns.  Gotten new habits.  And yet here I am.  Again.  And probably again.  And again.

Because that seems to be how things work.  In cycles.  In roller coaster ways instead of straight lines.  Because what goes up must come down.

And I've been up for awhile.

So I'm down.  And while I know that this place isn't forever.  That I'll pulse back into my practices.  Get paid so I can buy green vegetables.  Reconnect to my teaching.

I don't like this place.  It scares me because I've been stuck here before.  I've pulled the covers over my head, eaten a banana nut muffin, and called it day.  And a day.  And a day.  Until the days added up to a fat, depressed Sara.

And I don't want that to happen again.

So I'm telling you.  I'm trusting that you're big enough to hold my brokenness.  My vulnerability.  That you can love me.  All of me.  Even if I'm not drinking green smoothies three times a day, meditating until my butt hurts from sitting, and twisting myself into a pretzel everyday.

Because the truth of life is that sometimes it sucks and you don't know why.  Sometimes you do eat a banana nut muffin.  Sometimes you cry and don't practice yoga.  Sometimes you are just human and imperfect and that's ok.

Because when you open yourself up to life.  When you crack your heart open.  You let everything in.  Even the suck.  And if you resist that.  If you run from it.  And don't let yourself feel it then you can't heal it.

So here I am.  Feeling it.  Lying broken in a pile in front of my computer screen.  Because I know that's the only way I can pick myself up back up.

XO,
Sara

A fantastic article on my favorite never not broken Hindu goddess...Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea

And a wonderful talk about connection, vulnerability, and banana nut muffins...

My Next Great Leap

"I'm scared."
"Me too.  But it's a good scared.  Like when you hike up to the top of the mountain and you're about to drop in.  You look down, take a deep breath, see your route, and then just go for it.  It's why you climbed up there."
"Yeah but it's scary."
"I know but I usually don't make it that far unless I'm committed to making the run."
"Usually, I'm so tired and annoyed from dragging the other person to the edge of the cliff that when I get there I don't have anything left and I say forget it and walk back down alone cursing."
"I operate a chairlift."

I let his words sit with me.  And I realized he was right.  Getting to this place has been easy.  Like riding a chairlift.  Sure at the beginning we had a few stops and starts and things were icy.  But once we got going it's been fairly effortless.

Something I'm not at all used to.  I'm used to forcibly tying the person to my back and dragging them along for the ride whether they wanted me to or not.  To marching us forward even when we were about to kill each other or collapse from the exhaustion it takes to keep a bad thing alive.  Because we will be the Valedictorian of love dangit, get up, let's go!  Struggle and strife and not fitting is my comfort zone.

This set it and forget it.  This natural rhythm.  This ease.  Not so much.  I don't know what to do with it.  Especially now that I'm faced with jumping.  With having to decide what next and where do WE go from here.  WE.  Not Sara.  Not me.  WE.

Instead of hammering out a plan I come up with all the reasons he's not right for WE.  Why I should just leave him standing there and walk down alone.  Not yogic enough.  Not smart enough.  Not rich enough.  Not old enough.  Not settled enough.  Not driven enough.  Not enough enough.

Then I pick fights and act crappy and yell about blue hair so he'll tell me, "Forget about it I don't wanna jump with you after all."

Except that's never what he says.  He says perfect things like, "I operate a chairlift."  Things that make me realize that what's really going on is about me.  My enoughness.  My strong enough.  Interesting enough.  Pretty enough.  Smart enough.  Rich enough.  My broken not enough chatterbox self up to her old lies.

Because all this time I've been dragging people to the cliff she's been in charge.  Been telling me no one would really jump because it'd be with me.  Little broken not enough enough me.

Except I'm not broken anymore and neither is he.

We didn't drag each other to this place.  No one was kicking or screaming or dying to run away.  It just happened.  The chairlift did its job.  Got us to the top.  And now we have to drop in or ride back down.

And while I'm not ready to say which one it will be,  either way I hope we do it together.

Because this is a ride I'm not ready to get off (even if it does terrify me).

XO,
Sara

Here We Go!



"I didn't hear all of that but from what I did you need to be teaching a real class that people come to."  Had I been a deer I would have head butted her and headed for the hills.  Sorry Bridget, but my flight or flight was screaming, "Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly already!  What are you doing just sitting there letting this woman talk you into teaching a real class that real people to come to practice real yoga?  Punch her and be done with it already!!!"

But I didn't.  I told my broken not good enough self to shut it the woman had a point.  Hadn't my birthday wish been for piles and piles of money to swim around in like the opening of Duck Tales?  And what better way to start attracting the green stuff than to, oh I don't know, teach a class that people actually come to?  To use the skills I sweated, and bled, and cursed, and cried (mostly cried), and paid a handsome sum for.  Teacher training-not so casual guys just in case you were wondering.

Don't I know stuff?  Aren't I loud enough and bubbly enough to drag people through an hour and fifteen minute class?  I mean what's the worse thing that could happen?

If I let the broken not good enough chatterbox of myself answer those questions she says, "No.  No you are not good enough at all.  You suck and people will probably throw things at you and not have a good time and they'll never come back because you are a terrible terrible teacher.  And they'll tell other people how awful you are and write about it on Facebook and then all of Driggs will point and laugh at you.  So you just keep teaching your tiny not real hardly anyone ever shows up for class because that's all you're good for."

And that's when I realized she was who I really needed to punch because seriously?  We're here again?  I thought I squashed her when I dumped all that extra weight, moved into a yoga studio, and fell in love with my life.

But some how she still gets out every once in awhile and tries to spread her vile lies.  Sure I'm not the best yoga teacher in the world.  I stumble over my words, constantly mix up my left and right, and am not always as clear as I could be.  But so what?

So what broken not good enough chatter box self?  If I've learned anything from my journey so far it's that I don't have to be perfect.  Yes, I, the Valedictorian of Everything, just typed that.  Pick your jaws up off the floor.  It's not nice to stare.

The only thing we are called to do in this life is be.  That's right.  Be.  Be good enough just as you are. Be love.  Be loved.  Be wild and creative and open.  Be broken and vulnerable and courageous.  Be steady and dedicated and passionate.  Be ourselves.  All of ourselves.  Whatever that is.

But it's easy to forget that.  To say I can't or I won't.  To hide or run or cloak.  Because it's safer.  Easier.  Less pit of stomach, head for the hills, broken not enough chatterbox talk when you stay in your comfort zone.  

But that's not where the magic happens (you saw that image).  Not where the radiant, shiny, jump up and down, fall in love with life, share your gifts, help others happens.

That happens when you gag your broken not good enough chatterbox self, sit her in the corner, and tell her not to move or else.  When you just do it already.  Do what scares you.  What moves you.  What exhilarates you.

Because at the end of the day it really isn't how well you've done it but how you feel about it.  And when you can quite all the reasons you shouldn't or can't and jump.  You feel amazing.  You let so much joy and love and light in.

And that broken not good enough chatterbox self usually shuts up and enjoys the show.

So get over yourself already and do whatever it is that scares the bejesus out of you.  Let the magic in.

I will be Wednesday morning from 7:15-8:30am.

Let's do this!

I'll pray for you.

XO,
Sara