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,

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.


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.


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. ;)


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. ;)