Monday, April 14, 2014

wait, not everyone schedules flights around their exercise routine?

i won't book a 6am flight because i won't have time to run and do yoga before i catch the flight. and you never know what will happen once you get to the airport and then the destination--flights and transfers could be delayed; who knows if i'd have a chance to workout and get some yoga in once i got to my end point? what if the people i was meeting there weren't understanding of me needing to have workout time?

when talking to some friends at a conference about two years ago, they mentioned that they were getting a taxi together to fly out of berlin the next morning. i wanted in on this deal, but they were all flying a few hours earlier than i was. they asked why my flight was so late in the morning, and i answered simply: umm, because i want to have time to run and do yoga in the morning. they looked at me with a little shock on their faces; one woman said, "it has never occurred to me to book my flights around exercise."

what's funny is that it doesn't sound at all crazy to me. i'm booking flights today to go away this weekend, and my routine is OF COURSE part of the planning. (don't tell my friends that i'm going to visit--sometimes i lie and say that there aren't morning flights available. ahem.) part of this attitude was learned through modelling: my father would never let us leave on our semi-annual car trips to florida until he had run and finished all the things he wanted to do that morning. forget the traffic; we left when dad was ready.

in our overweight society, we've been taught that exercise is good. it's positive. it's something great to do for your body. so most people say "awesome!" when they hear that i'm going for a long run. or "you're so dedicated!" when i do a long yoga practice. they tend to make little allowances for this type of behavior.

but my (not-so-secret) secret is that this is not a positive behavior in my life. when a therapist suggests that i "go for a run" when i feel like binging and purging, i look at her like she's freaking crazy: she's fucking feeding into my disorder, not helping it. obsessive exercise is a real problem. i recently read a great article that is trying to shed a little more light on the disorder. here's an excerpt:
Kristina Saffran, co-founder of Project HEAL, a nonprofit that helps provide treatment for teen girls suffering from eating disorders, says, "They will find time to exercise at any cost, often skipping out on social events or extracurricular activities to get in their daily run. They feel anxious or guilty if they are unable to exercise or if a routine is unexpectedly cut short." The key here, though, is the motivation behind it: As Saffran says, "They exercise primarily to control their weight or 'make up' for calories they have already eaten or are about to eat.”
ummm, yeah. that's me. just yesterday i bailed on going to birthday drinks with a good friend (who's only in australia for a few more days) because i thought i hadn't worked out enough yet. i ended up meeting him later, but i actually was carrying this intense guilt for allowing myself to choose an additional workout over the social situation.

when i hear other people joke about needing to "burn off" something they ate, or when trainers say that people need to "earn" their dessert while working out at the gym, it hurts me. we really don't need to "deserve" to eat our food. we have to eat to live. this attitude that food is something to be balanced out through exercise is harmful; everything balances everything if we approach everything in moderation. i know this. but i have to tell myself that over. and over. and over.

the meditation i read this morning in gabby's new #miraclesnow book was "peace begins with me." i love this because i know that if i practice this peacefulness inside, it can radiate out. gabby says that all relationships in our lives offer that opportunity, and i think that is so beautiful. the relationship i have with myself is where i need the most practice, but this challenging relationship also offers me the most opportunity for growth, change, and healing.

so i keep going back to these challenges, and am honestly sharing my difficulties with them. i apologized to my friend this morning for bailing yesterday afternoon. i am sending this blog post to my friend i'm visiting this weekend (she'll know about the flight lies now!), and i continue to look for opportunities to find the inner peace first.

[my amazing cousin that i love oh-so-much shared this pic on fb this morning. i'm stealing it as a reminder here. i'm so happy that he's been inspired and that he's looking to inspire others. you rock, travis. xo]

Monday, April 7, 2014

surrendering to transformation

we all need some transformation. there's always room for change, for finding something more full, more truthful, and more closely aligned with our best self.

i'm constantly looking for things to ignite further transformation: images, advice, mantras, meditations, reflections, yoga practices, coaches, mentors... i want to push it, ignite it, stoke the flame, and feel the transformation blaze and burn through to better, to my best.

but half of transformation is surrendering. it's those times when i'm soft, open, and at peace that embers of transformation really start to catch. that little starter flame inside just needs oxygen to get it going: that space where i pause and breathe gives my inner fire room to grow.

this morning i did a yogaglo class about transformation. i made some assumptions about how the class would play out: about what asanas we would practice, about how the teachers would approach the class, and about how i would feel as i went through it. i was about 95% wrong. the class was amazing, and it certainly ignited something... but mostly in the spaces between asanas. when i paused, stopped, and really felt, i could feel it happening. i could notice my mind shift, and i started to feel more inner space being forged through the controlled burn.

how much time do we spend approaching problems in the opposite way, though? how much do we try to force things? to push through? to search for the answer as quickly as possible? as if knowing something sooner is what we need. i do this with relationships, and i've seen at least one of my besties do it too. i want to know whether something is going to make or break a friendship or romantic relationship. i want to know if the relationship is worth continuing. i want to know how the other person is going to respond to something. i want everyone else's opinion on how this whole thing is going to play out. analyze, analyze, analyze, do, do, do.

(pause) (breathe)

when i stop the activity, i usually already know the answers. when i surrender, when i allow space, i know where to go. i know which path to follow. i can hear my heart forging a new path, and i can begin to follow it.

it's particularly hard to allow that space in the midst of a challenging situation, whether it is part of relating to others or to ourselves. one of my closest experienced a rejection from a scholastic program earlier this year, and then, last week, from a job he had spent a lot of time working toward and interviewing for. i could see him looking for the shreds of "why," analyzing what could have been done differently, and making the attack plan for next time. i felt a little helpless and heartbroken watching this. i wanted to offer comfort, assistance, inspiration, distraction... whatever would feel most helpful to him.

another close friend has been feeling panicky about her mothering skills: anxieties and fears that she isn't good enough or strong enough as a mother have been haunting her recently. listening to her shaky voice, and hearing of the time she has spent in tears, is equally distressing to my heart.

i think both of my friends are ready for some transformation. and i'm pretty sure they know it too. i'm not suggesting that the first friend should completely lay back and let his career just "happen," and i'm not suggesting the mother should ignore the struggles her daughter is helping her find. but i think that these challenges are exactly what they needed.

because each challenge in our life is always EXACTLY what we need. whether or not we choose to see it or acknowledge it at the time.

so i'm looking at a challenge in my life right now, and i'm saying thank you to that challenge. for the transformation it may inspire. for the new self that will come out on the other side. ...but i'm not going to force it. i will breathe a little in that space and start to fan the flame. i'm pretty sure the transformation will happen. it's clearly just what i need.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


"that exact same thing happened to me!"

...well, maybe not the exact-exact same thing. but pretty freaking close.

there is little more thrilling than finding out you had a similar life experience as someone else. it provides that feeling of connection, of intimacy, and of understanding.

but what i really love about these commonalities with others in our lives is that there are millions that we don't even know exist. and millions of similar situations with all the other millions of people in the world that we don't even know.

last night i met someone who had a strikingly similar marriage/divorce/love/loss progression as i have had over the past year and a half. you know all those times when i felt terribly alone over the past 18 months? guess what--someone else did too.

i guess the real struggle is in remembering that someone else has been through what i've been through when i'm IN IT. when i'm really in it, and i can't see a way out. when i can't understand why i feel that way. when i can't believe anyone else in the world could have possibly had to deal with what i've had to deal with. when i can't believe anyone else could have ever felt as miserable as i am feeling at that time. that's when i need to remember: yeah--same same. someone else has done this. and that someone else is now shining on the other side.

yesterday afternoon i used some inspiration from yoga in teaching my cycling class. over the nine self-directed intervals sprinkled through the class, i used some imagery about 1) visualizing a dream; 2) seeing that dream as already achieved; 3) seeing through the eyes of someone who has already accomplished that dream as inspiration; and 4) internalizing those feelings of success and happiness that come with the realization of that dream.

for some reason it is easy for me to say "yeah, see through that person's eyes!" when i'm thinking of a dream. but to remember to think of that when i'm stuck is really difficult. and when i'm stuck, i can get really stuck.

but over the past couple of months, i’ve also been re-learning to depend on my friends; to ask for help when i need it. last week was an emotional tilt-a-whirl with my grandmother’s passing and her funeral being held on the other side of the world. but when i was feeling super vulnerable, my yoga teacher shared with me his similar pains. he used the yoga class community to support me in my grieving as well. i also spent hours on the phone with my bestie KR last week, allowing her to be there for me when i felt broken.

i know people have experienced things i’ve experienced. i know they have had these feelings. i know they have felt stuck. i know i’m not alone.

earlier today i started to feel some stuck feelings. nothing major, just a few thoughts trying to needle their way into my psyche. but then i sat down to work on this blog a little. to arrest them. to look through the eyes of someone who has beaten an eating disorder; who eats lunch whether or not they’ve gone for a run that morning; who doesn’t eat only at a certain time on the clock face, but when they’re hungry; who is at peace in their temple of a body. that person is part of my future.

i’m super grateful to my ever-present and ever-supportive friends and family. and to all of the people that have been through the shit i’m going through: i’m stealing your present as my continual inspiration.

we’re all the same person anyway.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

i am full

there's a quote by george bernard shaw that inspired the biennale of sydney this year: "imagination is the beginning of creation. you imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will." i took a photo of the lights proclaiming this sentiment last night, and i'm experiencing them today. i've spent a lot of time dreaming lately; manifesting what i want in my life. and today i started to really see it.

today i went on a mini yoga retreat. just a one day thing. but it was pretty freaking amazing.

we were lying in savasana after the first practice of the day and kelli came around and gave us adjustments. on me, she did a motion with her hand on my forehead as if she was opening my third eye. moments later, i had this weird image come into my mind: a belly button. i was viewing it, thinking, why is there a belly button in my mind's eye? then, i kind of popped through it. it was suddenly very bright in my mind's eye, and these black and white images of women's faces floated by. all of the images looked similar to family members i knew, but they weren't my family's faces. the age of the women ranged from babies to old women.

i started crying, and my whole body was trembling a little.

we came out of savasana, and the thoughts in my head swirled: "i am full. i am here. i am ready." i didn't consciously think these things, and i still don't really know exactly what they mean. but i agree with them.

i told the story to OCS, who i was on the retreat with, and he suggested that it was my family sending me love. i told kelli the story, and she suggested that it was my grandmother and passed relatives telling me that they were there for me, supporting me.

i don't know what it was. but all day the sense of trembling has stayed with me. and i'm sitting here, home on a saturday night blogging, thinking that i feel different. i can't really explain how i feel different. and i can't really analyze how i feel about the new feeling. but i'm sitting with it, and remembering that sense of fullness that overwhelmingly came over me this afternoon.

another thing that kelli said to me today was that i was 180 degrees from where i had been at this time last year when i had been on retreat with her in bali. (love you so much kelli!)

i kind of brushed it off, but when i thought about it, i realized she was right. i didn't freak out when i didn't do cardio today. i didn't freak out when she served us a lunch with cheese. i totally committed to the retreat today and didn't even pick up my phone or look at a clock for the whole 8 hours. most of these things wouldn't have been possible even two months ago. and then i came home on a saturday night and blogged about it.

i am different. i've been really busy filling myself up recently, and i think it's working. i have come so far. and i am ready and excited for what's next. #miracles

Sunday, March 23, 2014

teaching love

this weekend i was away at an annual event for a social running club i'm in. we were in a beautiful location; and i had some beautiful souls there with me. the campground/resort we stayed at had limited mobile phone reception (i.e. i had none; some people had a bar or two). the resort provided wifi, but the coverage wasn't great, and i wasn't able to receive or send the crazy amount of messages, texts, snaps, and comments (etc!) that i normally do.

saturday morning, in a moment of connectivity, several messages came through from my mother. not "hi, darling!" messages, but "call me now; i have something to tell you" messages. the wifi wouldn't handle me facetiming or skyping her, and i began to get really upset. i felt like i knew what she was going to tell me, but i needed to talk to her. the anxiety of trying to get a way to talk to her was visible. one of my lovely friends there with me this weekend walked by and saw; she allowed me to borrow her mobile and straight up call my mom's US mobile phone.

my mom told me that her mother (my grandmother) had died. it wasn't necessarily expected, but she was 96 1/2 years old (yeah, we start counting half years again in old age!), so it wasn't necessarily unexpected either. as soon as she told me, i was in tears.

the rest of the morning was spent in an adventure to get to reception-land (which included taking a ferry), messaging and calling my mother and sister, and then borrowing another friend's mobile when my battery died while far from my charger (in reception-land) so that i could finish the skyping. we decided i wouldn't go back to the US, but that i'd write something for my mother to read at the funeral in a few days.

back at the ranch that afternoon, most of the runners i'm closest to already had been told. i had so many caring people around me asking me about my grandmother, hugging and holding me, even crying a little with me. even though it was hard being away from my home hearing the news, i'm grateful that i was surrounded by such supports.

as people began asking me about my grandmother, memories swelled inside. i spent today sitting with these memories, and thinking about what my grandmother taught us. one of my friends recently said that he wanted to leave a legacy in this world. i suggested that he was doing that through his children. which really got me thinking: what is my grandmother's legacy in my life?

what i've come to is this: she taught me to love. (she was a teacher, so it makes sense that she would've taught me something important!)

my grandmother taught me to love directly: she loved us without judgement, without criticism, and with her whole self.

my grandmother taught me to love indirectly: last week my mom sent me a newspaper clipping of an article that she had written about teaching good eating habits. the story featured an anecdote about me as a two-year-old copying everything my mother was doing in the grocery store. i was toddling along behind my mother, copying her face, her stance, even her squinting at the vegetables. i have copied behavior modelled by my mother in many facets of my life, including the loving and caring actions that she learned from her mother.

my grandmother taught me to love through the way she lived her life: my grandmother had three life loves. her first husband died of a heart attack when my mother was only 18. my grandmother loved again: her second husband died when i was three. and then my grandmother had an international love affair that lasted the rest of her life (neither wanted to move permanently across the ocean). she wasn't fearful when she lost love, she didn't get stuck; she just loved more.

and my grandmother taught me how to love with love: when i was about 8, and my sister 5, my grandmother visited. she was upset with how aggravated shayna and i got with each other. she told us we should never call each other mean names; we needed to love each other. but then, because she also taught her lessons with humor and love, she gave us alternative names that we could call each other. (she suggested that i call shayna an "idiotic imbecile." the phrase was phrase unknown to me, but i ran with it!)

i'm grateful to my grandmother for her legacy. and i promise her memory that i will keep practicing and sharing lessons in love.

and to all the others who have also taught me about love: i love you.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

instincts don't lie

i don't normally talk about my dating life. (ahem, i don't usually talk about it on my blog.) but i've gotta get this story out.

i've been on this 40 day journey (thanks to my BFF kitty), and i didn't want to date during it. i had deleted dating apps. i was spending time with myself, and with my friends. i was totally loving that: i was the one helping others with terrible dating situations and saving them from bad dates. i was the one fixing others' dating profiles and deciding whether they should accept a date.

but, while chuck was visiting for the past two weeks, i re-downloaded tinder (a dating app that tells you if you have common facebook friends). i wanted to play on it with him. this one guy that popped up had something like 35 common friends with me, and he was into some of the same things i was. so, i swiped right (tinder speak for "liked" him). i chatted with him a little, though i felt he was a little aggressive in his texting and pushing toward an immediate date.

so, against my instincts, when he asked me for a date last night, i considered it. turns out last night was night 40 of the 40 day journey. of the two friends staying with me for the past two weeks, chuck had left yesterday morning and matt had plans last night. so it kinda seemed like the date was supposed to happen. i decided it was fated.

from the beginning there were disasters: he wanted to meet at my apartment, but of course i suggested the local cute bar instead. he texted me 15 minutes after he was supposed to arrive saying he was leaving his apartment and would be there soon. he then proceeded to ask me to sext him while he was on his way to speed the time along. i told him i was cool; i was texting a student about something. i also assumed he would jump in a cab and be there in five minutes since he was so late. i was wrong again. he showed up at 9:39 (ok, yeah, i was like five minutes late, but still, he was 35 minutes later than me!).

once he was there, he said, "oh, you were texting a student? what do you teach again?" me: sexual health. him: "oh, so you're like into... ummm... condoms?" me: yeah, they're my fav. him: "i don't believe in them. and i've never had an STI. i believe in natural immune functioning."

ok. yeah. cool. believe in what you want. but that cavalier approach to dating isn't gonna cut it with me. especially when you lead with that. especially when that's what i study. especially when you seem like a high quantity dater (remember the "sext me while i'm on my way"?!).

and yet, i decided to give him a chance. i thought, "maybe he is just coming across poorly through texts," "maybe he is just trying to impress me with his yoga-ish philosophies," "we couldn't have so many friends in common if he is actually such a douche." so. i committed to another hour.

the hour was rough:
he touched my leg, i asked him to step it back.
he pulled his shirt up, i said that isn't what i meant.
he kissed me, i said i wasn't comfortable with this.
he kissed me again, i said you aren't listening to me.
i told him i was tired and wanted to go to bed, he asked if that was an invite.

now, some people have trouble reading social cues. but come on. this is not what was happening here. i was being clear. i wasn't drinking. i knew what was happening, and it wasn't cool. by the time i convince him that i'm going to be sleeping alone and that he is going back to his apartment, he still seems to think things are going well, telling me that i have great energy and that we fit so well together. UMMM, WHAT?!

so he gets his stuff together and we walk to the door. this is when i realize that he has a backpack and laptop with him.

now, we had both finished our respective yoga classes, gone home and showered, and then met. which means he brought a backpack and laptop to meet me for a drink. which means he clearly expected to be staying over.

(yeah, ok, so chuck and i joked all week about taking backpacks on dates because my house was so full of people. but it was a joke. because who takes a backpack to meet someone they don't even know?!)

at this realization, i felt sick to my stomach. i felt like i had been punched. i felt like i had been tricked. i felt like i had been taken advantage of. i just felt plain shitty. like super shitty.

when he got home he texted me: "good night. sweet dreams! xxx"

no. it wasn't a good night. and there were certainly no immediate dreams in my future. i spent the rest of the evening trying to make myself feel ok with what had happened. it wasn't until i talked it through with anthony and matt this morning that i figured out what i was feeling the worst about.

i had felt uncomfortable about him from the beginning. but i went through with the date anyway. that was ignoring my inner guide. that was pushing back uncomfortable feelings and ignoring them. that was typical old-spring behavior. and i think the reason it felt so freaking terrible was because i'm not used to doing that anymore. i've been re-training to trust myself. to trust my instincts. to believe that they are there for a reason.

so, even though that story now supersedes all the others as my worst date story, i did learn something valuable. 1) i trust myself now. so much that it feels uncomfortable not to. 2) i know that trusting my instincts is what i need to do. i won't doubt myself again.

and you know what? that's kind of a miracle right there. i freaking did a handstand in the middle of the room in yoga last night! i am trusting myself. so, yeah. 40 days to miracles. and here i am. living miracles.

thanks to all my super amazing supports.

you all are miracle workers. xo

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

my letter to y'all

i'm grateful for my friends. (like really really really really really grateful.) i'm pretty sure i have the most amazing friends in all the world. you all support me through everything and make my life worth living. you each have taught me so many things. (i want to do shout outs to every single one of you!!)

i'm grateful for my family. i hear other people talk about their families; i realize how lucky i am to come from a loving family.

i'm grateful for my parents. my parents gave us everything. they are the best parents two girls could have. they continue to parent me from across the world.

i'm grateful for my sister. my sister is an amazing woman and an amazing partner in crime. sister perverts forever.

i'm grateful for all of my experiences. even the sucky ones. they got me here.

i'm grateful for my education. i'm so thankful to be as fortunate as i am and to have all the education and training i've received.

i'm grateful for getting to live all over the world. and for travelling. and for seeing.

i'm grateful for sunshine. i love the sun.

i'm grateful for being well nourished. in every way.

i'm grateful for my body. i will not forget this. i'm grateful for what my body can do.

i'm grateful for yoga. i freaking love yoga. and what it does for me. and what it offers me.

i'm grateful for a job i love. umm. i get to talk about sex at work.

i'm grateful for my home. i live in a beautiful space that i feel so comfortable in.

i'm grateful for living in sydney. (the best city in the world.)

i'm grateful for pumpkin. and grateful that sydney will put pumpkin on or in every type of food.

i'm grateful for coffee. every morning i'm grateful for coffee. i'm even more grateful when one of my besties brings it to me in my bed. (thanks matt!)

i'm grateful for sparkling water. who knew i could love water?

i'm grateful for my mannequin. roxie: you go, girl.

i'm grateful for blackmilk. (come on, you knew this would be on the list!)

i'm grateful for workaholics. for entertainment. for being able to laugh. for enjoying laughter. for laughing hysterically and making people think there's something alarmingly wrong.

i'm grateful for shamika (my phone). she keeps me connected to friends near and far.

i'm grateful for love. all the love around me. big big big love. xo