Tuesday, November 25, 2014

healing ourselves

i taught one of the most fulfilling classes ever tonight. the class focus was on breathing through those hard times, those uncomfortable situations, those everyday frustrations: intentions of responding to these challenges with love.

after class a few people applauded... which happens occasionally, but still, it feels kinda weird. and then a student came up to me and asked to tell me something. something in her eyes made me divert all of my attention to her.

she told me about a heavy pain that's been her body, about her struggles with doctors to treat it, about the medications she's tried, and about her resulting depressed state at nothing succeeding in easing it. i cried as she talked, feeling her sadness and frustration through her words. she talked to me for half an hour.

and then came the kicker: she said that my class healed her; that the pain in her body had lifted, and that she felt happy.

it was a beautiful heartfelt sentiment. and it really touched me.

i'm still feeling the reverberations of her conversation, actually. partly because of her amazing sincerity. and partly because i know exactly how she feels.

if you know me even a little bit, you know that i love yoga and that i think everyone can benefit from it. it's almost like you're not a real friend of mine until you've been dragged to a yoga class or been forced to be a participant in a one-on-one with me. but there's good reason for that: i love you and want you to know what i love. and why.

i truly believe we can heal ourselves: the past hurts we carry with us, the emotions that are sometimes too hard to feel, the deep-seeded fears. we can learn to let go of these things and create brighter futures.

i'm sure there are other ways of doing these things, but, to me, it's yoga. it's breathing through all that shit that we try not to acknowledge that gives us courage to breathe through the next thing.

even my graffiti choices are yoga!
and that's why i teach. a couple of days ago a friend asked me about how i got into yoga and why i teach it. i went through the chronology of it. but for sure i would've quit it by now if it wasn't for the healing: both what i get and what i see in the lives of others. i've had a few friends tell me that they are thankful for the yoga i've brought into their lives.

i'm deeply humbled when i hear that. but really, like i told the woman in class tonight: you're doing the work. that work can be really hard. and the choice to continue to do it can be just as hard.

but the benefits?
way more worth it.
go heal yourself.

Friday, November 21, 2014

retreating to my mermaid cave

i do a lot. and then i do a lot more. i spend most evenings outside of my home; meeting friends, going to yoga classes, working out, having drinks, going to museums... anything that pops up and looks interesting. but it can also be super taxing emotionally and physically--and then i need time and space to recover.

and i think all of my best friends are a bit like that as well: i tend to be drawn to people who aren't afraid to try new things, and to do it at the drop of a pin... but i'm also attracted to sensitive people who actually need their own self-care time.

butttttt... i ignore that i need the down time. if someone says at 7pm, "hey; what're you doing? wanna have a quick drink?" i think, "umm, actually, no. i'm super tired; i need to get up at 6am." but what i say is, "yeah, sure! see you in... 20?"

wednesday night bal and i went to see the coffee ground reader. while he was reading my grounds, he said to me, "you're a mermaid. you need more mermaid time; you need to spend more time in your cave."

and bal started cracking. the fuck. UP. it's true. and most of my friends know it's true. i push myself a little too much sometimes. like last night. i had a friend last minute ask for a catch-up.

i thought, "i'm exhausted!"

i said "i'd love to!"

and then i got home, started to run a bath, and thought, "what. am. i. doing. right. now. this. is. in. sane." and texted a semi-cancellation: i asked to change plans slightly to something more low-key. ok, so i didn't fully get mermaid time, but it's a step in the right direction!

this morning in yoga SJ taught a theme of knowing when to step back. oh, synchronicity, how i love you.

there are so many areas of our lives where we need to know when to step back. but there are equally as many when we need to know when to jump off the cliff. i've been doing a lot of jumping lately. i feel nervous about most of the things happening in my life in the last month and the next two months. going to uluru with some girls i don't know? wearing my heart on my sleeve all the time instead of only very rarely? going to NZ with a lovely girl i met once? leading big team meetings with important researchers? risking comfort and security to move across the world (again)?

yeah. jumping.
and, luckily, mostly flying.

it's so hard to know when to keep leaping and when to pull back. but we all need that balance; we all need to continually search for that space where we are making decisions from our heart, and feeling at peace with ourselves and our choices.

so, in other words, if i text you a cancellation, beg for a re-schedule, or just don't make a plan with you right away, please forgive me; right now i'm needing my mermaid time.

but that doesn't mean i don't love you. just spending a little time loving myself up. {insert dirty joke here}

Thursday, November 13, 2014

pride without prejudice

last week i received funding for research that we had applied for. it was one of the most amazing things i've experienced: it was the first time i successfully planned and coordinated a project to be put up for such a competitive grant scheme.

all day i freaked out. i jumped around like crazy for a while; i called all the people involved; i tried to pick up my coffee a little later, but my hands were still shaking. the excitement just wouldn't die down. and kitty and hayden planned a little celebration party for that evening.

it wasn't until later that afternoon, after i yoga-ed it up (and calmed myself down), that i realized what felt so different: i was proud of myself.

i was proud of myself, and it felt weird; i was not used to that feeling.

when kitty arrived to escort me to drinks, i mentioned to her that we should be having the party simply for the fact that i felt proud of myself. it was that big of a deal.

i reflected on that over the past weekend while at uluru (formerly ayers rock for the americans in the audience--that big red rock in the middle of australia).

it isn't that i haven't accomplished great things; it isn't even that i can't recognize it per se. i think it's more that i feel embarrassed to feel pride, like it's an ego thing.

jane austen, in pride and prejudice, says: "Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."

being at uluru, dwarfed in its size and spirituality, humbled me enough to let me figure that out. and then it made me sad: why can't we feel prideful of everything we do?

there's something hard for us to deal with every week; every day is hard for some of us. and you know what? we keep going. we make it through. sure, it doesn't always feel amazeaballs... but that's ok.

i'm proud of kitty for trying a new way of eating. i'm proud of hayden for making it through this next grant submission with me today. i'm proud of NK for each urge she gets past. i'm proud of SM for feeling both the highs and the lows. i'm proud of sister for braving her way through sleepless nights.

i'm proud of all the steps, all the choices, all the work each of us do every single day.

and i'm proud of myself.

strange that that's so hard to say. but i'm also proud of myself for doing the work to get to a space that i can say that.

yesterday i listened to the most current episode of this american life; in part 2, they discuss the possibility of time travel, and what people would do if they could time travel. so many people wanted to go back and fix things--either in their personal lives or in history. but, interestingly enough, the people with the most life experience (the elderly), didn't want to time travel.

i agree. i don't want to go back and teach myself things. i don't want to go back and fix mistakes. i agree with the conclusion: "i'm traveling into the future. at 60 minutes/hour. and maybe that's how we fix things."

each step. each choice. each little bit of work. it all counts. it all builds. it makes us what we are. and that's something we should be proud of.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

accepting anger. and the rest.

growing up, my home was a super comforting place to be. if my sister or i ever got in trouble, we never heard screaming. maybe we were sent to a bedroom for a little while; maybe our already limited-television watching was further limited; or maybe we were told the way we had acted was "disappointing." i would know when my parents were angry with me, but i never saw the anger: i never witnessed what true anger looked like.

i saw this model and chose to take this into adulthood. if i'm mad at you, you probably won't know it. eventually, when i can't handle it eating me up inside anymore, i'll have a discussion with you. ...and that's progress, folks! i used to hold it in for, well, forever.

i was in a bathroom this weekend where the entire insides of the room were covered in tags, including the mirror. it looked gorgeous, and i snapped a photo of myself in there. but when i looked back at it later, i felt a little sad, a little uncomfortable. seeing myself in that mirror that was covered in other people's tags felt like a metaphor for all of this. avoiding seeing where i am or what i need; allowing other people's needs to come first; minimizing the self; feelings EVERYWHERE.... you can go on and on with interpretations.

i'm practicing getting to those uncomfortable conversations sooner. i'm practicing avoiding the avoidance. but those big feelings are super scary for me to feel.

after announcing to my work that i'm leaving my current position, my supervisors here haven't been overly supportive. the emails i now receive daily are not fun to read. i have strategies: avoid opening, forward to a friend, call friend and see how bad it is, forward to a student, get student to draft reply, review reply, send reply. --yeah, that happened last night/this morning; i still haven't read that last email i replied to. it's that scary for me.

that's pretty hard core avoidance of feeling anger. i'm much better at dealing with it in personal relationships than in work relationships. but i still tend to go to avoidance first.

so when i see people get angry, i'm actually pretty impressed. well, let me rephrase that. when i see people get angry for a good reason, i'm impressed.

to my friend getting pissed off at her ED: you're fucking working through it. that's hard work.

to my friend getting pissed off at his depression: you're fucking working through it. that's hard work.

to my friend constantly pissed off at her anxiety: you're fucking working through it. that's hard work.

anger can be a useful tool. it's like that inner voice telling you "something isn't balanced here; let's do something about it. let's process. let's talk. let's get it out."

so anyway, this was mainly for NK today--don't judge that anger, that sadness. keep feeling. take each feeling and wrap it up in a blanket of acceptance. accept that feeling for what it is. and then allow it to pass. i'm super proud of you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

emotional fly traps

when I was little, maybe 8 years old, I was sitting in the car with my mom. it was biloxi, mississippi. it was summer. it was HOT. so we had on shorts. I looked over at my mom and noticed aloud to her "my thighs are like less than half the size of your thighs!"

I don't remember what she said back. I don't think she was upset at all. she probably said something like "that's because I'm an adult." but I know that on some level I must have felt some hurt from her. because I still feel bad about that comment.

I am a sensitive girl; I hold things close to my heart; I feel bad for unintentionally hurting others. and i get hurt easily: by others and by my own doing.

there is someone in my recent life who has continually hurt me. I kept resisting cutting him out of my life, despite the pleading of many other friends. "all my friends don't have to like each other," I thought; "I'll be friends with him even though he isn't treating me well; at least he acknowledges he wants to do better."

yes: I now hear it. that sounds like someone in a domestic abuse situation. and emotionally, it kind of was. you know how it's always easier to comment on someone else's situation; how it's always easier to find the flaws that are a little more distal? seeing (or hearing) the harshness of this situation took me a long time, but finally figuring it out is good for me in more than one way.

what's he do that's so hurtful? he jokes about my attempts at romantic relationships. it got worse over the past few weeks as I started to stop joking back with him when he called me a slut. I began to notice how bad I felt after each snapchat that insinuated I'd have sex with anyone; after each uncomfortable call where he joked that I must be out on a date.

so I decided to put myself first: I'm removing myself from this "friendship." I feel sad about this. but also proud.

why have I constantly defended someone who treats me badly? why did I immediately respond to the negative way he spoke to me? I didn't grow up with critical messages from family or teachers. I've never been in an abusive relationship.

well. except the one with myself. and that's the emotionally abusive relationship that is hardest for me to see and/or admit to.

the way he spoke to me is how I often talk to myself. I'm quite judgemental and critical when it comes to, well, anything I do. so I guess it felt pretty natural and almost comfortable for me to receive those types of messages from him.

the reason I need to limit contact with him is because I internalize what he says to me. even though i don't agree with his judgemental view of my life, I find myself starting to believe him. it's almost impossible not to believe something you hear over and over.

the same thing happens in my own head: when I say something negative in my head often enough, my subconscious starts to really buy into it. and sometimes I'm shocked when my subconscious says something like "I am not doing enough." I think "who said that? why would you think that? where did that idea come from?" and then I realise I put that idea there. I'm the one who silently judges myself hundreds of times a day.

so hearing the messages from my friend didn't dissuade me from being friends with him. but when I found myself internalizing the judgements of my friend, I was finally able to recognise that i needed to limit contact. he wasn't changing; he wasn't apologising. but I could take control.

and loving myself enough to change that is the first step in limiting contact with my judgemental self.

i listened to a podcast interviewing ellen burstyn today about survival. and it ended with this: "I’ve learned a lot from my plants. I learn that if a plant’s not growing, it’s dying, and that growth is a state of health."

I choose to keep growing. and, to my mommy: sorry for what I said when I was 8. xo

Friday, October 17, 2014

guess i'm going to be a new yorker

writing this makes it public. official. i'm actually going. i am moving to NYC. the big apple. the city that doesn't sleep. the melting pot. the center of the universe.

shocked? me too. i have never really thought of myself as a NYC girl. and i LOVE sydney with a passion... like it is my favorite city in the world; i've never felt at home somewhere like i do in sydney.

so wtf am i doing? well. i got an amazing job offer from the CUNY school of public health that i could not turn down. which is so so so fantastic.

and scary as anything.

making this decision has been one of the hardest things i've ever had to do. i had at least four iterations of my pro/con list. i talked it over with everyone. i talked to my life coach. i went to see a coffee ground reader. i made a decision and then changed my mind. i went to see an energy healer. the thing i was most fearful of was that i would make the wrong decision and end up regretting it.

but how did i actually make the decision? i didn't. the decision made itself.

i had thought about it over and over. i went running and went through all the future scenarios. i talked about it until i couldn't talk about it anymore. i felt like i just couldn't make this decision, that i was incapable. so, instead, i did yoga. a lot of yoga. and then one morning, lying there in savasana after class, the decision came. it just kinda appeared in my belly really. this feeling of "yeah, i have to go." then i laid there and cried my little heart out. and then i facetimed my sister: i knew she would be overjoyed that australia hadn't stolen me for good.

when i talked to lydia about some hard decisions she was making, she told me that sometimes you can't force a decision; you can't make it until it is ready to be made. and then? it will manifest itself. she told me that, and i went, woah, YES; that is exactly what happened with the new york decision. it manifested itself once the decision was ready to be made. that's not to say i didn't think about it (TONS). but it couldn't be forced. no matter how many times my friends kept asking "did you make the decision yet?"

so. things that helped?
--every single little conversation with every friend and family member. (too many to list; thank you all so much!)
--this TED talk. (thanks nyree!)
--mish reminding me over and over that i had to make the decision for ME.
--matt saying "moving to NYC doesn't mean you can't ever live in sydney again."
--anthony promising to look out for me in NYC.
--my sister's pregnant belly.

things that made it the hardest to choose NYC?
--having to tell kitty i was leaving: i have never felt so nervous to tell someone something. i didn't want to see the look on her face. i didn't want to have to hear her cry.
--losing regular contact with adi, my co-founder of big sisters' club.
--thinking about leaving my PhD students that i love: don't worry hayden and mandy; we will figure this out.
--leaving a yoga community i love (yes, this means you, kel).
--realizing i would be doing it alone. <--this might have been the scariest
--and dreading leaving a place i call home; a place i love; a place and culture i've come to embrace.

recently someone asked me where i grew up. my stock answer is: i don't have a home; i grew up all over the US. but when i was asked a week ago, i said: well i did most of my growing up right here.

and that's the truth. i came to sydney newly married, a fresh PhD, and still pretty naive about a lot of things. i'm leaving quite a different girl. or rather, woman, i suppose. the amount of things i've learned about myself, my relationships, and the world in general, while in sydney ensures that a piece of my heart will always be here.

and so. if you're a friend in the states: i'll be back in january; come to NYC!! if you're a friend in sydney: start to try to see me A LOT. if you're a friend who has always wanted to visit me in sydney: HURRY THE FUCK UP.

but wherever you are, you know i'll keep in touch. i'm good at this "my life is online" thing.

“and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." --Ana├»s Nin xo

Monday, October 13, 2014

i don't believe you

warning. not an actual blog post. just a rant really.

i haven't really talked to one of my best friends in a week. i tried to call a few times, but i never got through. tonight we finally talked. i wanted to know what was going on and i explained how i felt ignored. i was told that the reason we hadn't been talking was because of a photo i sent that was unappreciated. or rather, the interpreted context was unappreciated. but the interpretation was not correct. classic he said/she said really.

after chatting for 45 minutes, i was left feeling worse than before our delayed talk. mainly i felt betrayed that one of the people closest to me didn't believe me. one of the people who knows all the things about me. someone i tell my deep-seated fears and share all my anxieties with.

i'm not sure why i believe everything everyone says, regardless of the level of my relationship with that person. it could be me being gullible, or it could be my eternal optimism about humanity. but whatever the case, if you tell me something, i will straight up believe it. especially if you're a good friend.

and so of course i'm hurt: i don't feel nurtured or cared about by this friend. of course i feel like i'm being judged. of course i feel pretty fucking shitty. because i don't feel like i'm getting the same respect that i offer out.

-->another reminder of how every relationship in our life takes effort, i guess.

i then rehashed this conversation with two other besties (umm, duh). advice back: blog it out. and: i don't need that in my life; let go of the friendship.

1) so i'm blogging. i don't feel like i have something to say; i'm just trying to cleanse.

2) i can't just let go of someone i care about. i had a friend do that to me when she felt like i didn't fit exactly how she wanted me to respond to a situation. eventually we got to be friends again, but i know how badly that felt. just because i don't like the response i'm receiving right now, i'm not willing to cut a friend out of my life.

but what am i supposed to do?

this morning matt arrived from the US for a week's vacation. i'm super psyched he's here. he reminded me of my mantras from my energy healer. (in an affectionate making fun of me way.) i re-read them today after he mentioned them. and the part that is ringing loudly right now is: I feel safe expressing my truth now that I'm detached from the outcome.


speaking my truth as i feel it right now. detaching from the outcome; just putting it out there. because that has to feel better than this.