How to Start Again… Again.

I just finished reading Elizabeth Vargas’s memoir, Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction. It was truly heart wrenching. She had to start again many times. Reading about it was excruciating. I am sure that living it was far worse. Her starting again and again seemed so brave to me… and I was reflecting how little grace I give myself when in a position of starting again.

You might be in a place of having to start again: a job, a relationship, a project, interactions with your children, food, booze, shopping, your in-laws, exercise. If you think about it, each day is an opportunity to start again. To do better, to give our best effort, to show up, to mess up and start again.

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

So, how do you do it? How do you not give up, give in, throw in the towel, and quit? Perhaps one of these seven ways will help:

1. Just Start

Seems simple enough, right? It is. So what that you ate the pint of ice cream last night (in the middle of your 30-day cleanse). Start again. Make the meal that is going to give you the feeling that you wanted to have when you started the cleanse.

2. Look Forward, Not Back

No need to look back, as you aren’t going that way anyway. Being present is important but face forward while doing it. Take the next step forward, regardless of how small it is.

3. Discover How You Want to Feel

It’s important. Setting goals without feelings is a sure sign you are just making a list, another thing to do. When you know how you want to feel when chasing the goal then it is easier to make decisions and be clear as to what is moving toward the end result and what is moving you away.

4. Make Decisions Based on How You Want to Feel

I want to feel free and at ease. Does spending the $400 on clothes make me feel that way? Do I feel free and at ease spending that money or does it not? Let’s say I spend the money and feel awful the next day. Return the clothes. Start again.

5. Own It

There are challenges when we are trying to achieve things, reach goals, be better, feel better. You will find that it is easier to start again if you own the truth. Yep, I drank too much. Yep, I shouldn’t have said that. Yep, I missed that deadline.

Own it.

6. Surround Yourself with a Tribe That Supports Your Goals

If you want to read a book a month because that feels good to you, join a book club. If you want to lose 10 pounds because you want to stop taking that particular medicine, find an accountability partner or group. If you want to cook more healthily for your family because that feels like being of service, put together a Sunday food prep group or include your family in the process. Find. Your. Tribe.

7. Kick the Shame to the Curb

It serves ZERO purpose. And there is no shame in starting again. See thoughts one through six for ideas.

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.” – Unknown

You can start again at any time. It doesn’t have to be a Monday or January. It can be 2:14 p.m. on a Thursday. Remember, there may be many opportunities to start agains. For me, I would rather start again than quit.

If you have a chance, read Elizabeth Vargas’s book. You don’t have to be an addict or recovering alcoholic to get something from it. Don’t give up before the miracle happens. Change course, try again, dust yourself off, keep moving forward.

You got this.

7 Ways to Fill Your Bucket of Happiness

My son is five. He goes to a wonderful Montessori school with amazing teachers and a rich program. I love how they get the children excited about different subjects. Recently, they read a book called Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. We got the book and are reading it at home. In a nutshell, it’s about being kind, being mindful of others, and filling other’s buckets throughout the day and watching yours fill, too. And how to not be a dipper!

We go about our lives doing. At the end of our day, we check off the things we got done: the errands we ran, the meals we cooked, the exercise classes that we took, the kid’s activities, walking the dogs, planning for tomorrow. But where does that leave us? For me, the answer is often unfulfilled. I say “yes” to things that fill others’ buckets but not my own. I spend time with people that are, sometimes, bucket dippers. They take and take and take.

How do I want to feel at the end of the day? How do you want to feel at the end of the day? I want to feel connected and free and inspired. I want my bucket full and I want to fill other’s buckets. What about you?

When I started paying attention to the simple ideas of bucket filling and how I wanted to feel, I came up with these seven questions:

  • Who am I aligning myself with? Who are my friends? Do they fill my bucket? Do I want to fill theirs?
  • What things am I saying “yes” to that are not filling my bucket, but are actually draining it?
  • What things am I putting on the back burner that really would be bucket fillers for my bucket and someone else’s?
  • Whose bucket did I fill today?
  • When I went to bed last night, how full or empty was my bucket?
  • When I make decisions about food, people, and activities, do I feel inspired, connected, and free?
  • Sometimes, life requires me to do *adulting.* How can I feel connected, free, and inspired while doing those things?

Take some time to answer these questions for yourself. I have found that the best way to do this type of inquiry is by also doing yoga. You could take a run or brisk walk, but you are going to need your journal and that might be cumbersome. It is important to get out of your head. Physical movement and focused breathing help this.

Here are seven yoga poses that you can hold for three to five minutes each while you do this inquiry. Pair each question with the shape below. Breathe. Journal in between shapes. Take your time. Perhaps you only get to do three postures today—three questions. That’s OK. It’s not a race—it’s an inquiry.

  • Child’s Pose
  • Caterpillar
  • Reclined Bound Angle
  • Reclined Twist
  • Supported Bridge
  • Heart Opener with bolster or pillow
  • Legs up the wall
  • Savasana

This inquiry isn’t to be done once. It’s ongoing. It’s about being flexible, evolving, growing, and forever being a kindergartner. Now, go fill some buckets and don’t forget yours!

This article was originally published on Yoganonymous.

8 Pieces of Wisdom for Difficult Moments

Finding wisdom in the difficult moments can be challenging—especially when we are staring those moments square in the face.

Sending your child off to kindergarten, being betrayed by a “friend,” and making a painful decision about a pet—they all can hurt. There is no escaping it: My heart is bruised, my trust shaken, but my resolve is strong. Lessons are learned, examples are made, and the world continues to revolve—irritating but true.

The last two months have provided a clear space for me to inspect my core values and moral foundation. I certainly didn’t want this particular inspection but apparently, the universe felt it was necessary. Being sober, taking and teaching yoga classes, and embracing the eight limbs didn’t shield me from these difficult moments, but they have proven to be a solid foundation to surviving them.

“Surrender is the journey from the outer turmoil to the inner peace.” – Sri Chinmoy

Here are eight takeaways that may help you the next time the universe invites you to inspect your own foundation. (Hint: it will at some point, so you may want to save this.)

1. Listen to the voice that doesn’t speak.

If something seems fishy, don’t ignore that sense. This is your intuition, your inner guide. Notice if your inclination is to ignore it. If it is, check your motivation. I can assure you that whatever “payoff” you think you may get is far less than the disappointment and consequence that will eventually result.

2. Speak your truth.

It may not be popular, but do it anyway. You may lose friends but, if so, were they really your friends to begin with? It will be difficult. It will be sad. It will be disappointing. But you will survive and you will gain stronger bonds.

3. Stand your sacred ground.

Don’t be bullied. Yes: even adults bully. And by the time they are adults, they may be really good at it. See them for who they are. They got to be that bully because they never resolved their own pain. That fact may not make the sting of what is being said less hurtful but, rest assured, they are in far worse pain, and one they cannot escape.

4. Focus on “you doing you.”

You have a purpose. Use your energy “doing you” rather than continuing to focus on the hurt. This isn’t possible all the time, and this isn’t about checking out from the pain of the loss or hurt or betrayal. But in order to get healing, the focus needs to shift. Do it slowly and incrementally. It’s not possible to just flip a switch.

5. Be of service.

I love this action: Do something for someone else without them knowing. Call a friend to ask how they are. If the conversation shifts to you, shift it back to them. This is not only healing for them but for you, too. Buy a coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru. Clean out your closet and donate the clothing. Go to Goodwill and buy five dog beds to take to the shelter. Get out of self.

6. Practice yoga.

Be gentle with yourself. Breathe. Do five or 10 of your favorite postures, go to a style of class that you have never experienced. Take a free, online class. Many teachers have online 10 minute de-stress classes. You have 10 minutes.

7. Practice meditation.

Do it in your car. Do it at your cubicle. Do it on a walk. It doesn’t have to be two hours in a monastery. Take two minutes to just be aware that you are breathing: Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

8. Embrace self-care.

Life is busy. Hurt, betrayal, and loss don’t wait until you have nothing else happening. Take moments for yourself. Sometimes just acknowledging that you are going to take 10 minutes for yourself—to grab a seltzer water and pretzels and hide in the back of the closet—is enough.

Life is in session! Pay attention to your inner guide. Make as many mindful decisions as possible. Recognize that you are fallible and that “failures” are great teachers and open doors that you had no idea even existed. View surrender through a different lens: It isn’t giving up. It isn’t giving in. It is the simple recognition that you are no longer going to resist the truth.

This article was originally posted on Yoganonymous.

Not THIS!

A couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a post that stopped me in my tracks.

Here it is in it’s entirety:

“Most of us, at some point in our lives (unless we have done everything perfectly…which is: nobody) will have to face a terrible moment in which we realize that we have somehow ended up in the wrong place — or at least, in a very bad place.
Maybe we will have to admit that we are in the wrong job. Or the wrong relationship. With the wrong people around us. Living in the wrong neighborhood. Acting out on the wrong behaviors. Using the wrong substances. Pretending to believe things that we no longer believe. Pretending to be something we were never meant to be.
This moment of realization is seldom fun. In fact, it’s usually terrifying.
I call this moment of realization: NOT THIS.
Because sometimes that’s all you know, at such a moment.
All you know is: NOT THIS.
Sometimes that’s all you CAN know.
All you know is that some deep life force within you is saying, NOT THIS, and it won’t be silenced.
Your body is saying: NOT THIS.
Your heart is saying: NOT THIS.
Your soul is saying: NOT THIS.
But your brain can’t bring itself to say “NOT THIS”, because that would cause a serious problem. The problem is: You don’t have a Plan B in place. This is the only life you have. This is the only job you have. This is the only spouse you have. This is the only house you have. Your brain says, “It may not be great, but we have to put up with it, because there are no other options.” You’re not sure how you got here — to this place of THIS — but you sure as hell don’t know how to get out…
So your brain says: “WE NEED TO KEEP PUTTING UP WITH THIS, BECAUSE THIS IS ALL WE HAVE.”
But still, beating like a quiet drum, your body and your heart and your soul keep saying: NOT THIS…NOT THIS…NOT THIS.
I think some of the bravest people I have ever met were people who had the courage to say the words, “NOT THIS” outloud — even before they had an alternative plan.
People who walked out of bad situations without knowing if there was a better situation on the horizon.
People who looked at the life they were in, and they said, “I don’t know what my life is supposed to be…but it’s NOT THIS.” And then they just…left.
I think my friend who walked out of a marriage after less than a year, and had to move back in with her mother (back into her childhood bedroom), and face the condemnation of the entire community while she slowly created a new life for herself. Everyone said, “If he’s not good enough for you, who will be?” She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about what her life would look like now. But it started with her saying: NOT THIS.
I think of my friend who took her three young children away from a toxic marriage, despite that fact that her husband supported her and the kids financially…and the four of them (this woman and her three children) all slept in one bed together in a tiny studio apartment for a few years, while she struggled to build a new life. She was poor, she was scared, she was alone. But she had to listen to the voices within her that said, NOT THIS.
I think of friends who walked out of jobs — with no job waiting for them. Because they said NOT THIS.
I think of friends who quit school, rather than keep pretending that they cared about this field of study anymore. And yes, they lost the scholarship. And yes, they ended up working at a fast food restaurant, while everyone else was getting degrees. And yes, it took them a while to figure out where to go next. But there was a relief at last in just surrendering to the holy, non-negotiable truth of NOT THIS.
I think of friends who bravely walked into AA meetings and just fell apart in front of a room full of total strangers, and said, NOT THIS.
I think of a friend who pulled her children out of Sunday School in the middle of church one Sunday because she’d had it with the judgment and self-righteousness of this particular church. Yes, it was her community. Yes, it was her tribe. But she physically couldn’t be in that building anymore without feeling that she would explode. She didn’t know where she was going, spiritually or within her community, but she said, NOT THIS. And walked out.
Rationally, it’s crazy to abandon a perfectly good life (or at least a familiar life) in order to jump into a mystery. No sane person would advise you to make such a leap, with no Plan B in place. We are supposed to be careful. We are supposed to be prudent.
And yet….
And yet.
If you keep ignoring the voices within you that say NOT THIS, just because you don’t know what to do, instead…you may end up stuck in NOT THIS forever.
You don’t need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing right now is wrong.
The bravest thing to say can be these two words.
What comes next?
I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. It might be worse. It might be better. But whatever it is…? It’s NOT THIS.

— Elizabeth Gilbert, 2016

 

For the next TWO DAYS, I walked around my house, the grocery store, looked at my email, my schedule, my closet, my refrigerator…. all the while mumbling NOT THIS.

Not this blouse.

Not this class.

Not that food.

Not that relationship.

Not that story.

NOT THIS!

I am guessing you are going to be doing the same.  THIS is GOOD!  WHY is this good?  Because the LAST thing that you want to have happen is that 10 years goes by and you have built a life around NOT THIS.

As Elizabeth Gilbert says ” You don’t need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing RIGHT NOW is wrong.”

Just consider the following:

1.  What ONE thing that is happening right now that your gut is saying NOT THIS?  It could be something as simple as that Quadruple Mochachocolattayaya you are about to order.

2.  That ONE thing?  Why are you still doing it?

3.  That ONE thing?  How long have you been doing it?  Weeks, months, years?

4.  That ONE thing? What if you didn’t do it?  What if you NEVER did it?  What if you woke up tomorrow and couldn’t even THINK it?  Who would you be and what would you be doing?

5.  That ONE thing? Will you say it out loud today?  Will you write it down?  Will you whisper in the car?

6.  Read THIS by David Whyte: http://www.davidwhyte.com/english_santiago.html

That’s all for now.  Just sit with this.  Just being aware that you are doing a whole lot of NOT THIS is enough.  When you are ready, just stop doing NOT THIS and START making choices that scream DEFINITELY THIS.

LOVE

LOVE.  It’s a big topic.  Once I started digging and researching and reading… it just got BIGGER!

LOVE.  What it is.  What it isn’t. Love across cultures and religions and opinions.  It’s BIG.

But for this post,  we are talking about SELF LOVE.  And what is consistent across cultures, religions and opinions is if you cannot love your self, you are going to have one helluva time loving anyone else… AND getting the love that you need.

“Love brings with it the gift of freedom. Love teaches us to allow the person we love to do as he or she chooses. It teaches us to encourage the people we love freely make their own choices, to seek their own path, to learn their lessons their way in their own time.

Love means each person is free to
follow his or her own heart, seek
his or her own path. If we truly love,
our choices will naturally and freely serve that love well. When we give
freedom to another, we really give freedom to ourselves.

— Melody Beattie

 

John Lennon said something so beautiful and important about Self Love:

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.

— John Lennon

For many of us {read: ME}, it is much easier to look at other people; heap love and adoration and praise on others.  How many of us have actually stood in front of the mirror, LOOKED in to our own eyes and said “I LOVE YOU”?  “I love you, I cherish all of your hard work.  I see your tears and your laughter, your frustrations and your “wins”.  I see you.  I see it all and I love you.”

I can ASSURE you, not many of us have done this.  But I want to do it.  And even writing this is getting me pumped up to run to the bathroom and do it.  {You go do it and then run back and report back what you found out.}

Imagine a place where you can be completely yourself.  Imagine having the freedom to choose what is best for you in this moment and then that decision being met with acceptance.

“Go and love someone exactly how they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.1

— Wes Angelozzi

The quote above, by Wes?  That includes YOU.  Love yourself EXACTLY how you are; with the quirky grin, with the jacked up Thomas the Train hair {another story}, with the wrinkles and the fluffy tummy and the breast milk stained shirt… whatever it is… LOVE IT.

Imagine being totally accepted.  Imagine making a mistake and being told that it’s ok, that you are learning and that you should be patient with yourself.  Imagine having someone look at you in a way that tells you that they BELIEVE. IN. YOU.

The GOOD news?  ALL of these things are available to you right now.  They are because YOU get to say all of them to yourself.  And guess what?  When you say it, when you start to believe it, when you LOVE yourself…  you won’t be bothered with who doesn’t and you will gravitate toward those who do and who have all along.  You will see them so very clearly… and they will gravitate toward you.

Asking For Help & Support {Gasp!}

Why is asking for help such a difficult thing to do?  Is it difficult for you?  It is for me.

This past week I was summoned for jury duty.  My husband was out of town, I had called in 4 times and had been put on “standby” so I thought I was going to be dismissed.  And then I wasn’t.  At 6pm, I found out I had to appear at 7:30am the next day.  I had a yoga class to teach at 8am and Lucas had to be at school by 8:30.  My parents and In-laws don’t live in town and I was pretty sure that I was not going to be able to clone myself.  So, I sat. And I stewed. And I got a bit teary out of frustration. And then I asked for help.  And, OF COURSE, Miguel and Anjelica were MORE than happy to help.  Their son and mine are besties and “wouldn’t this be great to hang out before going to school”.  Disaster averted.

Although I know better, my initial reaction to having to ask for help is “I SHOULD be able to do this on my own.” That UGLY “Should” word.  Ugh.  The next one?  ” I don’t want to be a “BURDEN.”  Double UGH.  And after I got off the phone, I thought “that was SO easy. Why do I TORTURE myself before picking up that phone???”  I mean, if the tables were turned, I would most certainly help out… NO QUESTION.

Are there areas that you need help or support but you aren’t asking for it?  

Here are a series of questions for you to ponder.  {You really should get a journal if you are going to read my blog… you are going to want it and it’s SUPER helpful when you want to come back to re-visit questions and answers.}

1.  Is there an area of your life that you are in need of support or help? {This could be folding laundry or picking up dog poop OR leaving a marriage or quitting an addiction.}

2.  Why are you unable to ask for that help or support? {Is it because you think you should be able to do it all? Because asking would make you weak or vulnerable? Are you fearful that when you ask, you might be told “no” or rejected?}

3.  Close your eyes {just do it}.  Imagine asking for help in the particular situation that you are thinking of.  How does it feel in your gut, in your heart, when you ask for that help.  {Keep your mind voice out of this.}

4.  Think of the times that you were asked to help…asked for support.  What did that feel like in your heart and your soul?

5.  WHO do you need to ask for help or support?

When we ask for help, we open ourselves up to RECEIVE.  We allow others to be of service and open their hearts up to GIVING.  We cannot know everything {I know, it’s true!}  There is an abundance of help all around us.  When we allow ourselves to ASK, to be vulnerable, to be openhearted, you will be more aware of that abundance.

Ask for help.  Reach out. Pick up the phone. You will never know the deepened friendships, relationships or community if you never ask. Most importantly, you will never know the personal growth and freedom that comes with just asking.

5 Steps to Clarity

Life is like an ocean.  It ebbs and flows.  The only certainty is that there isn’t any. {except for death & taxes}.

Things change.  Our children move from grade school to high school.  They graduate. They leave the home.  We change jobs or retire or leave careers to start families.  We get sober, we recover, we move on.

I don’t know about you but when I don’t know what to do, I get uncomfortable.  And sometimes, that feeling of being uncomfortable lasts awhile.  I have come to learn that being uncomfortable, like grief, is something that I cannot push through.

I was recently putting a class together.  Each week, I painstakingly research topics that I can present to my class each Sunday.  This week?  Nothing.  Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.  The BIG DONUT.  Nothing was “landing” for me.  All of a sudden, I felt as if I knew nothing.  My brain completely emptied.  I have NOTHING to offer, NOTHING to share. Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!  This went on for FIVE days.  The night before the class, still nothing.  THEN at 2:35 in the morning, it landed.  I am not alone in this and this has happened before; this not knowing.  So, my class topic?  Not knowing and what you need to know when you don’t.  Brilliant.

Here are the five things you can do the next time you don’t know. I have done ALL the research so you don’t have to.  {You are welcome.}

1.  BE STILL.  Pay attention to what is happening at that particular moment.  Notice what your mind has to say about it (probably a lot).  Notice what your body has to say about it {neck pain, jaw pain, shoulder pain?}  When we are still, EVERYTHING has a a chance to slow down; your breathing, your thoughts, the panic that comes with not knowing.

2.  GET COMFORTABLE with being uncomfortable. So, how do you get comfortable being uncomfortable?  Acknowledgement.  This can be something that you do on your yoga mat in a particular pose (ahem, suffering pose).  “I am uncomfortable.  This is uncomfortable.”  You get asked to present at a conference, the PTA.  You are overwhelmed as you sit with divorce or child custody papers.  You want to leave your job.  You want a brand new career.  Some of these are exciting and some are uncomfortable.  Acknowledge it.

3.  DO NOT make any decisions.  Making a conscious decision to not make a decision is actually MAKING a decision. {Yes!}

4.  Check IN rather than Check OUT.  Meditate, take a walk, practice yoga, pray.  The time you take to do one of these may be all the time you need to settle down and begin to know things again.  Netflix, boozing it, mindless eating, shopping, social media?  No.  When you “awake” from one of these stupors, you will still have the issue of not knowing…being uncomfortable and no solution or relief.

5.  OPEN yourself up to new ideas and ALL possibilities.  You don’t have to act on any of them.  When we are able to get centered and still we allow our mind, heart, body and Soul to get in alignment.  One doesn’t override the other as you allow each to have their say.  Be open to new ideas and possibilities.  Be vulnerable.  Let go of control.  Be honest with yourself.

There are no mistakes.  There really aren’t.  Just opportunities for new doors to open and new roads to travel.  Sometimes what you perceive as a mistake is a signal or indication that what you are supposed to be doing is not that.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

— Lao Tsu

 

It’s ok to not know.  You will, eventually, know.  Be Still.  Sit with being uncomfortable.  Check IN. Open yourself to all possibilities.

Stop Asking for Permission in ONE Step

I was recently sprawled out on a bamboo floor in a yoga studio COMPLETELY beside myself. My friend, mentor and yoga teacher watching in complete amusement.

I kept shouting “Who am I and What the F$%K am I doing?”

Potentially, this (not EXACTLY this) but this situation has never happened to you. You have floated through life taking inventory of who you are;  High School graduation, College graduation, Marriage, Children, Divorce, Death, Sobriety, Turning 40. You have stopped, evaluated, adjusted and moved on.  If so, this article is not for you… but please pass it along to a friend in need.

For the rest of us…

The culmination was the meltdown on the bamboo floor but there were a few signs before the meltdown; questions and angst and sickness.   THEN the meltdown and subsequent realization. The realization was that I was seeking permission and approval in many aspects of my life, not just a few.  And this was bothersome as I am not one to ask for permission or seek approval, from anyone.

This was SNEAKY; a simple, benign question like “do you like my hair?” wasn’t simple at all.  I was seeking approval of how it currently looked and then maybe ask “what do you think about this style?” again, not for an opinion but permission to cut it a different way, the way I wanted but was seeking approval to do it. UGH!  This was also happening in my parenting style, my marriage, where I work out, my clothing choices and my career.  I had lost my way and was looking externally for all the answers, never considering myself.

After some thought, time and talking, I realized that the angst, the being uncomfortable was ultimately coming from change; change in career, change in parenting, change in friends, change in lifestyle.  I hadn’t given much thought to my roll / my authentic voice in any of these things; change was just happening and I was just along for the ride.

There has be a TON of change in the last 8 years of my life.  I got sober, I got married, I bought a house, I had a child, I started and stopped and started again new careers and I just completed 6 months of intense teacher training.  Who I was 8 years ago, is not who I am today. Who I was 8 months ago isn’t who I am today.  And somehow, along the way, I forgot to completely check in with myself, to make a few inquiries and potentially some adjustments.

When I first got sober, I made changes and adjustments.  There were some obvious things that had to change in order for me to live a sober life.  So, my community had to change and I had to find things that I liked to do that did not include wine glasses and bars.  I became passionate about other things than happy hour and wine tastings. But since then, close to nothing. Limited personal inventory. No checking in. Very few adjustments. And A LOT has happened!  {see above} Additionally, until recently, I didn’t realize that I needed to check in with something other than my thoughts. i.e. Body, Heart, Soul.

So, I have come to one (kinda) step to freedom from this craziness. You just need to answer ONE question.

1.  WHO are you?

The title of this article is a bit deceiving.  Although there is only one question, it has a few “sub questions.”  {Sorry.  That would have been too long of a title.}

So…

1.  Who are you?

1a. What are you passionate about? What do you like to do? What are you devoted to?

1b. Are you living in accordance with WHO you are today or are you limiting yourself by NOT living in accordance with who you are and what you are passionate about?

1c.  Do you have a tribe that is in line with who you are?  Who do you connect to?  Do you make time to connect?  Are you including yourself when connecting?

1d. What permission do you need to grant YOURSELF?

1e.  What discovering and uncovering needs to be done so that you can THRIVE?

When I took the time to be rigorously honest about the above questions and write down the answers (thinking them in your head doesn’t work, I assure you.) things got clear REALLY fast.

Clarity looks like this for me:

I live in a hot climate.  I am athletic and busy chasing a 4 year old and balancing a career.  I am 46.  I want short hair.  I like short hair.  I want blonde hair.  I also like iced coffee and wandering around Hobby Lobby.  I like sharing my path to sobriety in order to help others live their best selves. I like my dogs and binging on Netflix.  I like the ocean and getting lost in books.  I like good food that nourishes my body and I dislike that it takes effort to cook but chicken nuggets from Jack in the Box is not my jam. I have heartfelt beliefs that everyone should have the choice to love whoever they want.  I despise hate.  I love the zoo. I love animals and would rescue all of them if someone would gift me some land… a lot of it.  I love my tribe.  I love the connection and the vulnerability and the authenticity and the rawness of it all.  I love love love my son.  I love his little dimply hands and the way he winks at me with both eyes.  I love watching the world through his lens. I love living my “brutiful” life. I need and want to continue to evolve and grow and be the best version of myself and also give myself permission to have bad days.

“I was asking for permission and approval because I was trying to find who I am in others rather than look within. It’s not as if the answers had evaporated, that they disappeared and I was just a body walking around (or lying on a yoga studio floor). I had them. I just wasn’t listening. I stopped asking.

My body had to go in to absolute revolt before I actually paid attention;  anxiety, being uncomfortable in my own skin, laryngitis and strep throat (x’s 2),  pressure in my chest and heart. And there was always this soft voice saying “you aren’t doing what you are supposed to be doing”.  And then ultimately, the bamboo yoga floor.

You don’t need permission or approval from anyone other than yourself. You don’t need to get laryngitis and strep throat in order to find and speak your voice.  Find out who you really are. Surround yourself with a tribe that will support you being you. You don’t need to stay stuck and search via other people to find your own voice and answers.  You have them already.

Life is in session.  Things are ever changing whether you like it or not.  Continue to ask yourself the hard questions. Never stop asking them. Allow the answers to change as you do.

3 Ways to Find Your Tribe

Spirituality is nurtured in a COMMUNITY. The oneness with others that springs from shared vision and shared goal, shared memory and shared hope.

— The Spirituality of Imperfection, p. 82

 I have been seeking a “tribe” all my life.  Some of the tribes that I have found were awesome and fulfilling and beautiful and some were disastrous; sports teams, a sorority, AA, business groups, the bar,  online forums, family, marriages, yoga teacher training.

The times that I most thrived in a particular tribe was when I was connected to the authentic me rather than trying to hide or change or “shape shift” who I was in order to “fit in”.

Part of being in a tribe is being your whole self.  Sometimes that whole self is broken; broken by fate, by people, by time.  Ultimately, however, people want to know your whole self, all the parts; even the broken ones.  That authenticity, that “realness” provides connection and oneness and a mirror for others.  It gives permission to others to also bear their broken selves.

Another part of being in a tribe is be able to hold space and bear witness.  Rob Bell once said (and I am paraphrasing) that sometimes bad things happen and we need to rally the troops and build that “thing” and fund raise for that “thing” and to get the whole community together to support and hold up whatever atrocity or tragedy has occurred.  And sometimes, what we are called to do and what is truly needed is to just to witness; not fix, not offer suggestion, not give a power point presentation on the 5 best things to do in the current situation but to just walk with, sit with and “be” with what is happening.  This is not easy but a necessary function of tribe.

Mutuality is a key ingredient to tribe and truly what makes it “work”.  It really isn’t about the give/get or get/give but more what we give by getting and get by giving.  This is why living authentically and openhearted allows you to fully connect to yourself and the tribe.  I call this feeling “home”.  It’s cozy and safe.  But we have to remember that in order to feel cozy and safe, we have to be willing to be vulnerable and uncomfortable and unsure.

Three ways we can find a tribe, find connection, find where we truly belong:

1. Find your truest self.  This will require some digging, introspection and truth. Know that your truest self will change.  Sometimes that will mean finding a new tribe and sometimes that means finding a new role within the tribe you are in.

2. “Try On” different tribes.  Tribes are like a good pair of jeans.  You have to try on MANY before you find the perfect fit.  This is part of the process and shouldn’t be avoided. It’s like a treasure hunt for adults.

3.  “Show Up”.  Show up as YOU.  Show up as authentically as possible.  This way you will truly know that you belong with a particular tribe.  If you are a chameleon, the connection you are trying to find will be elusive.  That connection only comes when two or more souls truly “see” each other.

The tribe is not only there for you.  YOU are there for the tribe.  Showing up and being authentically you is what that tribe needs.  There will come a day where you are on the other side of pain or loss or suffering.  The tribe will need you.  They will need your experience, strength and hope.  And if you never had shared, never took the chance on finding you, never showed up and bared your soul, that exchange would never happen.  That beautiful reciprocity of getting from giving and giving from getting.

Lastly, the size of your tribe is inconsequential. The more you show up as yourself and the more others do the same the tribe will either grow in number or in depth and value. Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.

So, go forth!  Find your tribe and in the process, find you.

7 Ways to Create Post Vacation Bliss

What I have discovered is that it *is* possible to live in the “zen bubble” of Wanderlust in our every day lives but it takes work and self-awareness and presence and purpose.  It won’t just happen on its own.  We are in charge of our own peace, our own zen, our own Wanderlust.

I have been back from Wanderlust Squaw Valley for a week and was listening to MC Yogi, looking through pictures and notes and feeling excited and envious of those attending the rest of the summer’s festivals.  Wanderlust is a *must* if you are in to music, good food, yoga, friends, beautiful venues, a body of people hell bent on making our world a better place and a little shopping.  ((wink wink))

Prior to getting sober, I would never had attended this type of festival.  I was fearful, self-conscious, uncomfortable and downright judgmental.  I would have had my unfounded opinions, my contempt prior to investigation and feelings of “less than”.  And I am not sure that I would have attended Wanderlust the first year of my sobriety, either.  But the longer I am sober, the longer I am connected to myself and my life and others, the more I am willing to be *daring*! And going to Wanderlust, for me, was D-A-R-I-N-G!

And like most things that I am totally freaked out about and do anyway, I find out there was nothing to freak out about and that Wanderlust ROCKS and I kick myself in the arse for not experiencing this sooner… and then I get over myself and marvel in the glory of it all.  Same thing happened to me (over time) when I got sober.  Nothing to freak out about; self-awareness is a good thing, presence is beneficial, dancing is actually fun and not having a hangover is a total bonus.

7 things we can do every day to create our own Wanderlust: 

1.  Embrace change.
I have operated for the majority of my life under the assumption that change is bad and that I must try to control as much as possible to not allow that to happen.  Yes, I know, silly.  I see change as evolving and fluid and happening all the time.  Change of scenery, change your mind, change your location, change your job, change what you eat, change your marriage, change your general way of living.  And guess what?  You can always change back.  Change is constant and fluid and always happening; embrace it, get on the change train or spend your life pushing against it.

2.  Try New Things.
I had never been to a Kundalini class.  I had no idea what I was getting in to but we jumped in with both feet; got in to the front row and then proceeded to dance around a tent, with our eyes close, shaking every body part imaginable with 400 other people for 24 minutes. Want to smash your ego?  Kundalini is the class for you.  I enjoyed the festival *that* much more after I took two Kundalini classes from Gurmukh.  ((Staring in to your friends eyes and chanting while holding hands for 35 minutes will do that)).

Go to the front of a class with 600 people.  You won’t regret it.  Dance like no one is watching.  Participate in classes that challenge you emotionally and physically.  There are 200 to 600 people getting their groove on in your class…  they don’t care if your alignment is right or if your earrings match your spandex.  They are drinking in the moment… not paying attention to you. Go to a meeting, sit in the front row.  This is your sobriety, your recovery, your life.  No one is watching you, they are taking care of themselves, they are holding on to their recovery.

3.  Dance.
At Wanderlust, there is music everywhere.  You have an opportunity to dance all day.  Take advantage.  And when you get home from your trip, load up your Spotify account with all the artist you saw and dance.  Dance in your car, dance in your kitchen, dance in the shower, just dance.  Close your eyes, take yourself back to the front row of your MC Yogi and DJ Drez class with your besties on either side of you and dance.  Your Soul will thank you.

4.  Eat well.
You will be hard pressed to find anything processed at Wanderlust.  Smoothies, and bowls and vegan deliciousness abound.  Curry and coffee and Kombucha.  Try it all.  Check out the local favorites.  Savor each mouthful, each conversation, the buzz all around you.  Do the same as you walk the recovery path.  Cigarettes and caffeine and your smartphone are just other distractions, other addictions other things that take you away from *you*.  Eat a good meal.  Drink water.  Slow down.

5.  Write it Down.
Keep a journal.  Things are said. Nuggets that you think that you will remember but you won’t unless you write it down.  They will change you.  They will change others when they hear it.  Doodle.  Write down how you felt after a class.  Write down how you feel as you leave to go home. Write down the sights and the smells and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Write down the themes and the stories and the connected-ness of 10000 people.  Write it down.

I never wanted to do this.  Not while using and not in early sobriety.  I was *afraid* of someone actually seeing my thoughts.  I, apparently, got over this. ((wink wink)).  It’s cathartic.  Write it down and burn it if it makes you feel better but write it down, write it *all* down.

6.  Rest.
Nap in the afternoon sun.  Close your eyes and really rest in savasana.  Stay in bed another 45 minutes. Get an iced coffee in the Wanderlust tent and sit on the comfy cushions and rest.  Be still, even for just a few minutes.

Stay a minute or two longer in the meetings you attend or come a bit early and chat with the person pouring the coffee.  Baby steps.  Look them in the eyes.  Keep it simple.  Smile.

7.  Take what you need and leave the rest.

At Wanderlust and in recovery, you will come across some things that really stick with you and some things that really just don’t.  That’s ok.  But take it all in.  Then take what you need home.  The other stuff you may want later… or not.  Notice what you are in judgement of, notice what makes your heart and soul sing.  Take it all in.

Wanderlust and life and recovery within both of those things is a journey.  Seasons change, we change, circumstances change. I really did my best to be present for those 5 days.  To embrace all of my emotions, to rest and to take note.  I embraced my friends and the meals that we had together and the absolute belly laughter and all that we experienced.  I didn’t need my smart phone to capture everything.  Although much has been erased from mind after years of drinking, my week at Wanderlust is not one of them.; the freedom and the joy and the smells of a cool, alpine summer evening.  I can’t wait to get back.

What is your next adventure?  Where are you going to sit in the front row? Where are you going to be more present?  I can’t wait to hear.