Friday, December 6, 2013

On just being f*cking nice.

“They’re doing the best they can….” I said.

“Are they? Are the really doing the best that they can?.....” She said.

A question that clearly had answered itself in her mind, as she silently criticized atop her invisible pedestal. The response struck me. The way that a sudden side ache does, sharp, deep and unexpected. We watched as the line of people ahead of us sort of lethargically crossed off less than desirable items on their to-do list, mid-workday. Clearly crunched for time, while certain obligations trumped lunch breaks. One juggled a baby on her hip, feeding him convenience store snacks, begging the clerk to just “work with her” on a payment plan….while another languishly paced, looking down at the ground as if his presence was an apology, his jeans hanging one size too heavy, just like his heart.

I couldn’t see it any other way, they were doing the best they could. I reached back through my index of “this is the best I’ve fucking got,” moments and the mere memory of some made me cringe, considering outsiders were likely scrutinizing when all I needed was a little, nudge and a wink to remind me that this isn’t all of it. This is just a blink. When someone says, “You’re going to get through it,” or at the very least, “we’re going to make the best of it,” you start considering that maybe they’re telling you the truth. Just as when someone fears for you, you think, “well maybe they know something I don’t.” Because, truly, even at the pit of despair, something in us and outside of us wants to believe that it gets better. That finding joy and levity is accessible, not mutually exclusive.

They were doing the best they could. There's a sort of meanness sweeping beneath the surface of our interactions, that we forget from being do disconnected with a screen in front of us how to treat human beings when we’re face to face. When we compare our BEST with the best of others, we’ve already missed the assignment.

Doing the best you can sometimes means getting from point A to point B in one piece. Or remembering to brush your damn hair. Sometimes the best you've got is simply showing up. When you're thriving and firing on all cylinders, flawlessly juggling and feeling like you've finally figured something the time to be even more humble, even more gracious and empathetic. We can all do better, be better, work harder, or do the internal work to get there...but in doing all of that and thinking we are better than anyone else negates all of the above.

People respond to kindness. We’re craving it. We want to share and like and comment when we see something that makes our hearts swell. We just don’t always know how to take our craving for tenderness into the 3D realm. It’s too vulnerable, it’s too, for lack of a better term fragile. To express your desire for basic humanity and sympathy requires a certain level of exposure and sincerity….in a digital time when everything can be manipulated before sharing, exposure and sincerity without a fourth wall feels entirely too powerless for most. So, the cycle perpetuates itself.

Disclaimer: Now, don't think that by being kind means being a doormat either, my friends. Respond with fierceness where necessary. Being kind is not to be confused with being naive, or powerless. ( Unkind people, take note.)

We’ve all done it, more unconsciously than not, when you go out into public and place judgement as a defense mechanism, or as a way to connect on the lowest frequency. Jokes at the expense of others. Misery looking for company to drag down and snuggle up to. Posture for the sake of making people believe we actually have our shit together, more than they do of course. Separation is the simple most unaccountable stance we can take to avoid action, responsibility and empathy.

It's so easy to unknowingly react with judgment on a daily basis and it's these individual interactions, on a singular level that either make people feel good or keep people down.

Be gentle, look people in the eye. Consider that perhaps they’re just going through something and they’ve been somewhere, just like we have. Acknowledge; I feel you, I get it, I SEE YOU, I hear what you’re saying….I understand, you’ll be okay. You don’t have to throw yourself into a tornado of drama, or try to individually mend everyones problems- you don’t have to get involved, period. We figure out our shit when we we’re ready to. Just be supportive, just be kind. Reserve your judgement and consider it a signal that there may be some part of you that could use some softening or healing, too.

I think we could all handle just a little more love this holiday season. Kiss, kiss.

What kindness have you witnessed lately?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

YOGA: Centering, Sobbing and Balancing on Your Eyelashes. Or something like it.

Photo: Noelle Beaugureau 

“There’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. Decide on one place and dig deep. Even if you encounter a rock, use dynamite and keep going down. If you leave that to dig another well, all the first effort is wasted and there is no proof you won’t hit rock again. ” 

As a sort of unconscious rule to myself, I've refrained from professing my absolute enchantment and love affair with yoga on this blog. Bear with me. I've sprinkled it in here and there, then I consider readers and think, "if I didn't practice yoga, why would I give a fuck?" I mean, right? I don't read running blogs, because I don't run. I don't read food blogs, because I don't cook. You get what I'm saying. The reason that I decided to share what I would generally save as a draft, a morning page, or personal declaration is because, after actually READING a bevy of running blogs and perusing a handful of food blogs, I realize that it isn't about the actual act of running or cooking. It isn't about the ACT of the physical postures or activity, it's about the transformations that occur to the individual experiencing them. It isn't the stride, it's the determination, it isn't the ingredient, it's the creation, the patience.... the growth and nourishment of a thing. As the Sutra above says, it's in the digging, the staying in once place and going deeper, and deeper and deeper, the acceptance of endless growth. Whichever way you may come to it. 

For me, yoga is the soil, from which all creative and emotional vegetation can flourish in abundance. Without the soil the representation of who I am as an individual would be stunted. The branches of my life; my music, writing, acting, adventures...wouldn't grow out as fully with buds to abundant and flowering so vibrant. There's no separation between my practice and the contents of my life, the two are wildly synchronized.

I say wild because, reason number two I've kept my cosmic little love affair hushed is there's a sort of stigma, if you will, attached to one claiming to be a yogi; Do yogis get angry? Do they think they're 'better than'? Do yogis ever get DOWN? Do yogis have a true grasp on reality or are they just climbing a tree somewhere talking to butterflies and bathing their crystals in sunlight? Well. Yes. I do talk to butterflies. And crystals are fucking awesome....however, I recognize that yoga is very much a balancing act, a reminder of the interconnectedness of all emotional shades.

I comfortably embrace the human experience and emotions of anger or ego, confusion and missteps. It's just that with yoga I can come back to something that reminds me of the truth when I've temporarily forgotten. Or rage out.

Ephemeral and everlasting. Totally messy, sobbing in Pigeon or fiercely dancing in Natarajasana atop a Demon, (demon: illusion, ignorance, ego) conquering it with an open heart and balance. The entirety of yoga embraces the paradoxes of life and as yogis, I can accept that we are all parts dark and light.

When I practice I remember, the way we store stories in our hips, is the way we store history in our hips. Our love song to our matriarchs. The same curves the women who birthed us did....Our hips are a tribute to our tribe, to our lineage and the place where we came from, a year ago and a century ago. Whether narrow, or wide, open or closed, they store our present emotional landscape and our ancestral chronicles. Hips are made for dancing, swinging, resting, beguiling...they're the most neglected and the most primary aspect of our practice and our hearts.

When I practice I remember, that there are centers in our bodies with all the answers. The gut. The heart. The third eye. That anything we've needed to know, or are calling upon for guidance is never external....the answers are in our very tissue, bones, blood. The fibers and layers that move us through this experience, beyond the physical. With practice I find that the answer is just below the surface of this shell.

When I practice I remember, there is no better indicator to the strength of your mind than to ask it to do something physically challenging. The stronger your practice becomes, the stronger your mind. The more I doubt my ability to do something, the more necessary I know it is to overcome that doubt.... the physical practice is a microcosm of what is possible in the other areas of my life. Manifesting my fortitude through discomfort physically, allows me to endure with grace whatever happens beyond my control outside of the studio.

When I practice I remember, that everything can be basic, or we can make it complex. That one posture has a million layers. And sometimes, the fundamentals of a posture are enough for the day. The vanilla is good. The raw form, superb. The simplicity, ideal. Not every day calls for the extra push, the inversion or twist....some days need to be simplified. Some "life moments" need only to be organic and pure. The layers never go away.... MORE is always an option, however, it's a better option if you already have a healthy relationship with "simple."

When I practice I remember, that to be in Tree Pose, we all root down the same way, with the same four corners; the expression in which our branches take is individual to us.

When I practice I remember that breath is the antidote to resistance.

You are the Goddess of your flow, the High Priestess of your intention, the Warrior in your story, the only. single. thing there is. Your gaze, or "Drishti," keeps your eyes on your own mat, no different than in life. The instant you're concerned with someone else's "dancer" is the instant you sabotage your own. You only falter, only waiver, only lose your center when you go outside of yourself to find it. 

When I practice I remember that we churn, twist and bend. That there is an innate animalistic sensuality and fierceness in all of us that sometimes just needs a little opening. That BREATHING feels good, that staying when you want to flee is gratifying after the fact, and that our body is built to experience pleasure. 

To every action there is a reaction, to every open there is a close. To every inward turn there is an outward motion. That everything we do is circular, entirely interconnected and ONE.

When I'm uncomfortable I remember, that certain struggles exist for a's not the struggle itself, or the resistance, because the physicality of discomfort dissipates and changes. It's in our perception of the discomfort that we're able to find the growth and ease. By looking at the struggle that is innate when putting your body, or our spirit, through a series of foreign movements through the lens of acceptance, resolve and courage we're able to see the tension as a powerful gift and transcend it.

Most importantly, I remember that everything should begin and end with a prayer and that that prayer is right in the very center of your being. Your heart. Nowhere else. Wherever you go it's right there with you.

Whether it's yoga, running....painting, dancing.... however you find your CENTER is perfect, as long as you're intent on finding and nurturing it. Centered and spicy as always, nama-fucking-ste.


Monday, October 7, 2013

The Anatomy of F*cking Up and What Happens Thereafter.....

“I tell you this

to break your heart,

by which I mean only

that it break open and never close again

to the rest of the world.”

Mary Oliver

Oh hey, Humans….never underestimate your ability to fuck up. September was my self titled Month of Purging. Peeling back layers, cleaning “emotional house,” and throwing out spiritual junk that had built up, as a result of my actions and the reactions following them. In other words, thank God it’s October. Fall is always rich grounds for letting things die so newness can flourish in its place.

See, I’ve always been the person that would say, “I would never do that.” I would never do. that. As if my actions, or opinions were never going to be influenced by circumstance. Or timing and lessons beyond “my” plan. Unfortunately, it isn’t always up to US how we grow, or what form a lesson comes in. For myself, I always took pride in my ability to say that things are either BLACK or WHITE and that any shade of “gray” was for the weak hearted. For me, having this sort of loyal-to-a-fault, immovable, hardheaded (if you will)...what-I-think-to-be-true-is-even-if-it-isn’t mentality worked. It worked for me for about 25 years, mostly. Until I looked a little bit closer and realized that the same mentality, while coming from the place of a desire to protect myself, or my family, my friends….also led me to pushing away people, emotions and experiences that could have potentially softened my heart and aided in my own personal growth and the growth in my relationships. Or my life.

For each time that I was incapable of putting myself in another persons shoes and for every time I threw stones at another person’s morality, life choices, way of being or doing, for every time that I said, “I could never….” or “What kind of person does that…” I pointed fingers while never considering that we are imperfect for REASONS…. and that perhaps, part of my journey somewhere down the line would lead me to doing, or being the exact things that I have judged in others. And that if we could all find a little forgiveness and truly scan the inner landscape of where and why we’re so intent on our convictions, that maybe, we would be able to realize that we are capable of (for lack of a better term, or a more honest one) fucking. UP. YES, YOU TOO.

When I chose not to like your boyfriend, at the expense of our friendship….pushing you away until you realized you deserved better….that wasn’t actually about YOU at all. What I should’ve been able to realize is, your journey is yours to have….my only job is to be your unconditional, supportive and emotionally present friend. It’s not my job to create detours, roadblocks, modifications or directions to your map. While I may be a part of that journey, I’m not traveling the full road with you.

Maybe you’re the best girlfriend, best friend, Mother, Father, Student….you name it, that there is. And guess what? You’re going to slip, you’re going to fall; you’ll forget someone’s birthday, turn an important document in late, find that you aren’t very present when your loved one is speaking, take someone for granted, realize you have feelings for someone a friend of yours dated, neglected your responsibilities…. yikes, right? Right. Fucking. Yikes. It happens.

When we’re learning the tools that make up a “good person,” we don’t consider that within that bag of tools is our ability to also learn resilience, atonement, THE ANATOMY OF APOLOGIZING; admitting, grieving and moving forward and most importantly granting yourself grace for your missteps. This part you have to do alone.

I promise you, when you hurt someone it will hurt you, even if it doesn’t immediately and eventually, you will lay at their feet paying penance. Upon which may or may not be received…..and that, the kneeling, the remorse and the accepting responsibility is just as important a lesson as the steps you take after. Whether you can repair what’s been broken or not, you know now how you broke it, how difficult it is to put back together and how precious the thing actually was. So that next time, you’ll handle it with just a little more caution and care.

Doing something “bad,” doesn’t make you bad. So when you find yourself brutalizing yourself for your past decisions; the times you talked too fucking much, couldn’t let it go, crossed a line, made a selfish or impulsive decision… made a mistake. What matters is how you go forward.  How you proceed, how you RELEASE and how you DO from here on…..

The one thing I’ve learned for certain is this; lying to protect someone essentially causes the exact wound you’re trying to shield them from. I’ve learned that forgiveness is the only thing that makes a heart light and that the hardest person to forgive will most always be yourself. I’ve learned that the things we most love about ourselves are also the things we most loathe and that there’s a fine line, you control, between where you focus and feed your energy to live in the goodness.

I’ve learned that looking behind us simply stops us from seeing what’s ahead. That moving forward has to be a conscious and active choice. That “I’m sorry,” is best received when looking into someones eyes, that true friendships always prevails….as does love and that in the end, everything works out just perfectly. So take a breath…. and carry on.


Monday, August 12, 2013

For all my sisters......

I live in a house full of women. Four of us total. I know, you’re probably considering a multitude of things that transpire in these tight quarters; hormones, gossip, sex, a shit load of bath products and half-eaten ice cream tubs. Some of which would be accurate....

...but over the last six months, after living mostly alone, i've always been surrounded by wonderful hoards of brilliant women as friends, but I’ve never lived with this many and what I’ve come to know is what women want the most; to share, the give, and to find peace with our hearts.

The thing about it is, that intent isn’t the shallow kind even though it can look like this upon first sight or cliche; women sitting around a brunch table spilling details of why he did or didn’t text back, how he kissed "like he's kissed a lot of people without feeling anything,” or what costume you want to be in the next time you run into him so you can Peacock to your utmost. This is what it looks like on the outside. Simple, fleeting, exterior concerns. The thing about listening and about being surrounded by women that are dynamic, vibrant, volatile, forthright.... spirited....and radical in their lifestyles is that you find those things are just the skeleton of what they’re speaking of in terms of their desires. Of their intent. Of their truth.

What you come to know is the flesh, the meat, the skin, and texture behind why we want, chase, yearn-for the things that seem like casual over-the-mimosa talks. There’s always more than meets the eye and it’s our responsibility to our respective girl gangs to dig, to ask, to prod and incite the core of what we’re looking for.

Where women gather together safely, will by nature become the beacon for nurturing, respite, celebration and congregation. Since moving here, the four of us collectively share 20+ fantastic, beautiful, kind women.... all of whom come, accessible, tender, truthfully to regroup. For a glass of wine. A vent session. A porch hang. To borrow something that makes them feel a little different than their usual self for a day..... to sleep next to someone who will let them cry, or bring them bad breakfast sandwiches and tell them they “didn’t say anything stupid last night,” even if they did. Who will remind them that they are adored, revered and honored here.

We’re adult women. We want husbands and babies, some of have them, some of us don’t.... we have lofty dreams and even loftier expectations of our personal character. The universal TRUTH is that we have a calling to share our hearts. Whether by male, by female, by touch or by simply being there to listen. We have an understanding that as a whole, we have to fulfill this role to feel complete.

For the amount of time I’ve spent writing on this blog about men, I certainly haven’t spent a corresponding equivalent to that of the women who have had the bravery to love them.

For the times that you have asked me if you are foolish, the answer is no- you are not foolish, what you are is full of heart, abounding with love that you willing want to share with someone else and what I’ve forgotten to tell you is that doesn’t make you foolish, that makes you brave, my sweet thing.

For the times that you asked me to just lay on the floor next to you while you held your hand over your heart to make sure it was still beating.... you were regal and perfectly lovable in that moment, when you felt like the only person you wanted love from betrayed you. That does not make you weak, that makes you resilient.

For the time that you wondered what you did wrong after that romantic weekend, where you held hands as you ran across the street and felt seventeen again, cinematically swept off your feet and then forgotten, you were not forgotten you were bright and you were accessible. That does not make you disposable, that makes you supreme....and not everyone is ready to handle something, or someone that can channel such DIVINITY.

When you doubted yourself, when you let him steal all of your light, when you second guessed, over-analyzed, replayed, reconfigured the reality to take the blame for things going wrong...I beg of you, my most remarkable and celestial, fierce ladies... you did nothing. wrong. There is not a single thing about you that needs mending, fixing, refurbishing, or overhauling.

When you blamed yourself for letting someone so charming, so persuasive yank you away from your instinct....or your values, I will remind you that you reacted to what your heart knew to be true- what he did with that trust is for him to carry, not for you to abate yourself.

When you've cried privately in the bathroom to salvage your dignity because of his arrogance, when you've stayed an hour, a month, or a year too long, when you've blamed other women for being the problem, when you've been jealous, catty or insecure. When you've overextended your generosity, your time and your energy for someone who couldn't do the same...I want to remind you when you feel the slow burn of guilt, or regret that you were doing your best. And that you can and will do better from now on.

The next time you spend a minute too long wondering, "who will ever marry this girl?" I want you to think of when you were twelve and your Dad saw you cry over a boy for the first time. He said, "None them are worthy of you." For the next fifteen years he was mostly right. 
But I want you to remember, when you start feeling bitter, or doubtful...when you make sweeping statements about "how men are," I want you to remember when that same man knew you were ready to find love, he said, "There will be one amazing man for you, you my dear will marry up from me." 

...Remember that he has never lied or let you down, that there are men who want to be wonderful, honorable and adoring and that you my lovely friends, will be the women who end up with those men. The lovely kind.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July 2012: 13 Things I Didn’t Believe My Mother Was Right About When I 13....BUT SHE TOTALLY WAS.

  Me Age 13: Lanky, awkward, braces wearing Posh Spice.

13 Things I Didn’t Believe My Mother Was Right About When I 13....BUT SHE TOTALLY WAS.

1. Don’t pick at it.
Initially, she meant my skin. “Stop picking,” she'd say sternly. Now, I realize that this applies to multiple things, the obvious ones: chipping nails, threads on your pillows, threads in general. The whole thing will eventually unravel if you keep at it. Not so obvious: when someone says “enough,” stop trying to pick your way in... people peel back emotional layers when they’re ready to, don’t pick at them. When he keeps forgetting that singular sock by the door, you’ve already told him it irritates you one time.... choose your battles, he DID do the laundry...don’t pick at him just because you can. That thing your BFF does that makes you cringe? Little details are more apparent the more you know/love someone, so let it go. Consider your irritation a privilege of being that close to their hearts. Don’t pick.

2. Nothing Good Happens Past Midnight
Sure, you know what happens past midnight? More shenanigans. More chances to say something, do something and potentially, be something that you may regret in the morning. Text messages past midnight? No bueno. Another cocktail past midnight? You can do it, but 9am won’t like it. That party you keep chasing? Stay put, it’s never as awesome as people are making it sound.

3. Don’t Date Him If He Hangs Out In His Basement All Day
Okay. So, when it’s put like that it sounds obvious. But, we all know what it’s like to crawl into someone’s cave with them. It’s dark and damp and perfect for cuddling. It’s also; stale, lacking light, skewed reality, isolated away from other human beings and sequestered from the outside world, where LIFE is. Where things grow and flourish. It’s okay to hide out every now and then....but not as a lifestyle choice.

4. Put it Away.
IT: your laundry, your shoes, your dishes, your books. Put. It. Away. Not so obvious: all the junk in your car, your “bad day” that you carry into a room thus making everyone else have a bad day with you. Unnecessary details, expressing dislike of another human being. Gossip. Your bad attitude. Useless criticism, towards yourself and others. Whining...and so on...

5. Only Reveal One Asset At A Time
If you show some leg, keep your chest to yourself. Skin is good, but not all of it at once. Same goes for makeup, if you do a strong lip, do a light eye. Dark eyes, light lips. Also see: Leave Something to the Imagination and Less is More

6. If He Doesn’t Love His Mother, Run the Other Direction
When you’re thirteen boys don’t always understand the VALUE of their Mother. So, you let it roll off your back. The older they get and the more women they date, meet and consider as a potential life-partner, they BETTER be considering their mother. A man that loves his Mother understands, respects and values women. He knows their role is imperative to keep the wheel turning, thus valuing women on a deeper level entirely. A man that speaks ill of his Mother, while he may have his reasons, likely has some resentment built up....that’s a heavy load to deal with....and at the end of the day, it isn’t YOUR job to undo all of her wrong doings. It’s a harder job than you think..... (speaking from personal experience.)

7. Don’t Wear White Eyeliner.
Self explanatory. Unless, you’re a makeup artist you probably don’t know how to do it right. So just, ya know, don’t.

8. Stop Saying You’re Fat, You Aren’t Fat.
Okay, so maybe you’re soft. Maybe you and your best friend occasionally polish off a smorgasbord of Ben & Jerry’s flavors because you’re “taste testing” at midnight, but you’re also having the best time ever. Listen, soft is beautiful. Soft is forgiving. Soft is feminine. We can ALWAYS be “better.” There’s always room for improvement. 2lbs, 5lbs, 9 ½ lbs...whatever.... the most important thing is that you’re being kind to yourself. Find people that don’t make you feel inferior OR superior based on your weight, either way. We’re always fluctuating, our bodies are never stagnant and neither are the choices we make about them. Just be kind. You’re beautiful.

9. Don’t Be “That Drunk Girl” At The Party
I love wine, I can enjoy myself and have a good time. But we all have to know our limits and occasionally to figure out what those limits are you figure them out by extending past them and then checking your phone records in the morning like, “Why the &!$* did I call my ex from 2007 at 1am....why was this a 14 minute conversation?” ::shudders:: There’s nothing worse than thinking in the moment that you’re “connecting” with someone and then you wake up the next day, have no idea how many details you told them about your life or why/how you’ve become “best friends,” but then you have to relearn it all “sober.” Which is more embarrassing if they weren’t equally as toasted as you. Trust. Word to the wise: keep it to a miniumum, two is enough. Drink at home, in your cozies, with your best friends who will love you regardless of your vino-fueled absurdity and dance moves.

10. Don’t Be “The Lowest Hanging Fruit.”
...this one coincides with #9, often. Low Tree Fruit is the “fruit” i.e. girl, that’s easiest to grab. One that doesn’t require much effort, let alone a first date. You know what I’m talking about. You know WHO I’m talking about. At the end of the day, you’ll want the man who is willing to “climb the tree.” Not the guy who looks for the disclaimer titled: “little assembly and effort required.” Anything worth having is worth working for. You included.

11. Don’t Be Late
I grew up figuring out how to waste time effectively in ten minute increments. This was the story of my life. Because no matter how busy my Mother was, she made sure I was ten minutes early, EVERYWHERE. I used to find this incredibly annoying, then the older I got I realized the people that were usually late in my life, were the ones that didn’t have much respect for my time. She would say, “Remember, people that are constantly late believe their time is more valuable than yours.” Plus, being ten minutes early gives you time to freshen up, find the bathroom, find a good parking spot. Also, call your mom back...perfect ten minute window.

12. Have at least ONE signature meal that you can make.
Listen, my Mother worked at night, she taught dance until 10pm, so “dinner,” to me was usually a combination of whatever I could find at Conoco, or 3 spoonfuls of peanut butter and a bowl of Lucky Charms. BUT, when she was home.... she made the most amazing meals...while I didn’t acquire the “Italian Girl Who Can Cook,” gene...I do know how to make one thing; Lasagna and Grandma’s secret sauce.

13.  Be you. 100%, no imitations. Authentically, YOU.
When you’re 13, you probably want to be like so and so, because “everyone loves her....” or, “because her hair is so thick and shiny, she has the perfect ponytail...and her parents have a cool boat.” Or fill in the blanks. Now, I realize the ones that are closest to me, know all the parts of me...the good, the bad, and everything between. But ultimately, they love me for being 100% authentically, Chelsea. Those are the relationships that, you’re so cool.

What did your Mom tell you??