Here's the truth: I am a closet people pleaser. Like, the worst.
I think I burst out of the womb with an invisible, full body "PLEASE LOVE ME" tattoo.
"I'll do anything, okay?" I begged. "Dress how you want. Talk how you want. Be who you want. Just please, please love me. Please don't leave me."
And so, like a pavlovian dog, I was trained to be exactly who society expected: rewarded when I fit their "good" girl mold, and banished when I did not.
I learned, one reward and punishment at a time, who to be in order to get the love I longed for, and most importantly, what parts of me would never, ever, ever be acceptable here.
You know, like the loud part. The angry part. The chubby part. The emotional part. The intuitive part. The honest part. The sensitive part. The slow part. The insecure part.
And, you guys, I CRUSHED it: pushing my deplorable parts down and down and down with food, fake friends, and the fantasy world of television.
No wonder I barely remember high school.
No wonder I felt half alive.
And although I had many gifts that still managed to peek out of my weighty costume, math was not one of them. Especially geometry.
But since my older sister was a genius and I wanted nothing more than to be exactly like her, I decided to try pretending I was smart, too. Yep, sign me for alllll the smart kids classes... that one there... Honors Geometry?!? SUUUUURE, I can do that, no problemo.
Well, the truth is that I am the rightiest, right brain there ever was. The truth is I had no business being in that room. But the truth was not safe.
And so I spent every 5th period with a smile plastered on my face, pretending to take notes, pretending to understand. Pretending... pretending... pretending, while slowly dying inside.
But, as karma would have it, my first test came back with nothing but the truth: 52% with Please See Me scribbled on top. I had never scored so low in my entire life. Wrapped in shame, I told my parents. Wrapped in shame, I dragged myself into Mr. Engebretsen's room after school one dismal day.
Something about the warmth of his smile, the kindness in his eyes and his occasional laughter told me that maybe, just maybe he was safe. That maybe, just maybe, I could slowly unzip my costume. That maybe, just maybe, I could tell him the truth.
And after he proved himself worthy of this treasure, I did. My dirty little secret bursting like a bullet when I was ready to release it. "Errr, Mr. Engebretsen, ummmm, you see, the REAL problem is that I totally and completely suck at math."
And do you know what he said?
Not, you disgust me.
Not, get out of here you unworthy heathen.
Not even, get your deplorable self down to regular math.
No, do you know what that angel man said?! "No problem. Let's get to work. I specialize in teaching kids how not to suck at math."
I think right there, in that moment, I instantly lost ten pounds. More breath found its way in. My relieved body relaxed. THIS, my friends, is the power of truth-telling.
And so every day, I came to Mr. Engebretsen's room, probably longing for the feeling of safety he exuded even more than his brilliant, relatable instruction.
Protected by his love and support and belief in me, things started to change. I actually, can you believe it, started LIKING math... you know, GETTING it... and SUCCEEDING at it. Fast forward three months and lo and behold I got my first 99%. We were both so incredibly proud of me.
And while Mr. Engebretsen is no longer in his Earthly body, my Soul will forever remember the lesson that he came to teach me: that the truth will set you free, love.
That truth-telling is the impetus of healing.
That magic nearly explodes into the world right along with it.
But in a white-washed world where the prerequisite to the "cool club" is posturing, pedicures, and people pleasing, NO WONDER we hide and vanish and mask our true selves: having fake conversations with fake people while wearing fake costumes and fake faces, secretly, silently soothing ourselves with screens, shopping and sugar.
But I have a dream, that one day this fake world will end.
That one day, every man and woman can embrace their full humanity, their imperfect bodies, and all of their big, beautiful human feelings.
I have a dream that one day we can weep and laugh and truth tell and rest together, without apology.
That we will see and be seen for who we really are, receiving both ourselves and each other with the same tenderness and compassion that Mr. Engebretsen gave my masked and manipulated self.
I have a dream that somewhere out there, a world exists where the innate worth of every single human is nonnegotiable: untouchable by suffocating, superficial measuring sticks.
And on a quiet day, I see this world being birthed into being. Right now, in fact.
On a good day, when I come up for air, I see Her in my weary neighbors walking my streets with no where to go, no masks to wear, and nothing to hide from each other.
This Sunday, I am honored to teach you about the power of truth-telling (or satya) and the practices that have supported me in getting comfortable and clear with my inconvenient truths.
Together, we will attend to your holy human self just as you are, tending to your tender body, opening your neck and shoulders and gently encouraging the throat to release whatever it may be keeping in in order to keep you safe.
I see and honor your journey, however and where ever you are.
This time away from everyday life has made me soooo acutely aware of myself and my imperfections (... anyone else?).
There are parts of that has been really nice, and also parts that are extremely difficult.
All those shadowy behaviors that I easily ignore when I'm busy -- saying things I don't really mean, zoning out on social media, sneaky snaking sweets, snapping at my kids and then beating myself up for it -- are all here for me to look at.
There's no where to run.
Nothing to distract me from myself.
And in a way, I know that this is part of the healing that's being asked of us collectively: the opportunity to see what's really here so that we can choose differently for the future.
But, daaang, it can be a lot to look at at once.
And every time I bring my frazzled, disoriented self to my mat, and finally sit still, what I hear is: "It's okay, beloved, I'm right here. It's okay beloved, try again."
God an eternally patient Mother, right here with me, never judging or doubting my progress or abilities.
Like babies trying to walk in a brand new world, we are ALL navigating new territory and that can be both overwhelming and, as psychologists know very well, can trigger the old coping strategies that we thought we once mastered to rise to the surface yet again.
Listen, I've tried the breathing techniques.
The magic yoga postures.
I've journaled and walked in nature and called friends.
And while all of those coping skills are extremely helpful in their own ways, nothing has helped me more than the sacred practice of forgiving myself (or rather, resting in the ocean of compassion that lies beyond my thinking mind).
This weekend, I'm excited to share some of the transformative tools I've learned for softening and healing the heart: mindfulness, self-compassion, heart-opening practices, and deep deep stillness.
I share my imperfections with you only to mirror the messy process we are all in as we join together in this journey of becoming new. To let you know that if you, too, are looking your imperfections straight in the eye, you're not alone.
Looking back, I can see now that everything I've been through has been preparing me for this time: gifting me with the tools that have brought me back to the Love that's always here -- even and ESPECIALLY when I am a hot mess. It is an honor to now share them with you, too, as we brave the wilderness together.
With love and deep compassion,
The ancient yogis saw clearly that we are not separate from God.
That within each of us, there lis a Divine Spark where all the answers lie, waiting there like a buried treasure, to guide and support us through each season of our lives.
The technology of yoga is an ancient system DESIGNED to strengthen that connection by detoxifying challenging emotions, quieting racing thoughts and calming body tension so that the deeper answers can be revealed to us.
In a world of disappointing politics, hierarchical religions, and self-serving leaders, I am continually reminded that trying to find the answers from thousands of unstable external sources is complete madness: that the most reliable place to go for guidance is within the soul.
Not to the news.
Not to my husband (although I do appreciate his perspective -- occasionally ;)).
Not to Facebook.
But within the depths of my inner-most being.
What if each of us had a Divine role to play in these times?
And what if we ALREADY have everything we need inside of us to fulfill it?
And what if this collective challenge is the perfect opportunity to lean more deeply into our inner-most wisdom, together?
I hope you can feel my love and support wherever and however you are. We will get through this, one breath at a time, and will no doubt come out of stronger and wiser and closer than before.
Last night, I cried myself to sleep. I'm grieving, I realized.
Grieving the trips that have been cancelled.
The support that embraced me at school drop-off, Sunday church service, our weekly yoga class.
I'm just not sure when they will come back.
And that makes me really really sad.
Yes, we are collectively grieving. The loss of our financial security, the loss of community connection, and the possible losses that might be on their way.
When grief used to appear at my door, I'd do anything to numb the sound of her knocking: stuffing myself with food, wine, shopping, screens, sex -- anything to numb the pain I didn't know how to feel.
Through my healing process, I've learned that it's TOTALLY normal to be a feeling creature. That, in fact, that's part of the design of this Divine / human experience: to fully feel the pain, joy, sadness, and the incredible love and beauty scattered among all of it.
To me, this is what Jesus came to show us: that being human, in its fullest sense, is quite possibly the most sacred path of all.
This week, I plan to share the techniques that have helped me give space for my feelings to move through me, allowing them all to be here without taking me under (although they still do some times).
Come with your journal, your jammies, your coffee, and anything that comforts you.
What I know for sure is that, when it comes to emotions, the only way out is through and through and through and that now, more than ever, we need safe spaces (and smart practices) to support us in our experience of being whole humans.
I love you and give you so much permission to feel what you're feeling. This too shall pass, and we will get through it together.
Hello, my loves.
I know this is hard. I know this is scary. I know it's ... weird.
But I also deeply know that it's sacred and somehow has a place in the story of humanity. That there's something we are learning here amidst this dark, womby place, that could not be learned otherwise.
And that's why I'm going to keep showing up, every Sunday morning, to walk with you through your process, exactly as it is unfolding for you.
When I was grieving a few years back, I found my way into a Yoga for Grief class with my incredible mentor, Jemma Skye Champeau. At that time I was in deep misery, feeling sorry for myself and overwhelmed by so much loss and change coming at me all at once.
That's when Jemma shared her unbelievable story of grief which involved the sudden, tragic loss of her young husband at a young age.
I watched her in awe as she shared how the experience, although seemingly unbearable, broke her open, calling her into leadership, deep service, and activating a Soul strength she never knew she had.
From the other side of the tomb, she was alive, standing, clear, calm, confident, and -- to my utter shock -- grateful for her experience.
That day, and through our year of work together, she invited me, too, to trust my grief. To allow all of my feelings to flow through me. To let go into what was happening to me, and to find the deeper place that would come out of it more alive, calm and courageous than it was before.
And through her permission, I was made new.
Lost and then found.
Nearly dead, and then somehow more alive than ever before.
In this very masculine culture in which we live, we are told that surrender makes us weak. That it means we are somehow giving up the fight. However, I know nothing that takes more courage than to continue to say *yes* to what Life is asking of us amidst the moments when we want to run.
From my experience, it's through turning toward the challenge and processing it fully that we find out who we really are: not our finances. Not our hair color. Not our social status. Not even our bodies. But something much deeper and more powerful than we could ever have imagined.
If you need a safe place to come and be loved, seen, heard and honored as you are, I will be here for you, sharing the tools that gave me the permission to relax, let go, and surrender into my own process of transformation.
Sending my love and support wherever and however you are.
Yoga Therapist, Teacher, Speaker, Writer, Mother