Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath oh Fresh Air

Time After Time

Twenty something years ago, when I was struggling to find my place in life after college, I recall being in the car with my mom and talking about options. She asked me what I liked to do most in my current line of work, which at that time, was restaurants. “Training,” I said, without hesitation, “Too bad there isn’t a way I can be a professional trainer.”

Today, not only is training a viable career option, but it is also a major at many colleges, and the certification options are countless. But back then, it wasn’t something people built their base from, at least not that we were aware of. But Mom helped me identify this passion, and she continued to look for ways to help me cultivate it over the years. Of course, she was my mom and I knew everything and she knew nothing, so I didn’t take her (or me) seriously. Even though it took me many years to (get clear enough to) interpret what this would look like for me, I finally made it into mine in the past few years. Training for me translated into my passion for coaching, and a Master’s degree and a personal training certification later, it’s now my day job (career coaching) and my other job (personal trainer). But our conversation was my starting point, and my progress could have started sooner had I just heard Mom.

Lesson started.

Somewhere between then and now, my mom told me she thought I would make a great yoga teacher. Mind you, this was before I had ever even taken a yoga class before (!). Of course, my initial (and several thereafter) reactions (not responses, we all know me that well by now), were negative. I didn’t even think I would enjoy yoga. I don’t like structure (again, no surprise here), and to me, that was what yoga was. (?!?)

Fast forward to my now, and I am one weekend away from completing my 200 hour RYT (registered yoga teacher) training. And I love teaching yoga. I smile without thinking when I do it and it doesn’t feel like work. (That, my friends, is the dream:  when you find what you love to do and someone pays you for it).

Lesson continued.

My point? My mom was right. And in looking back, she usually was. In fact, her track record is barely blemished. Somehow she sees things in me first; her (somewhat scary and supernatural) intuition about me is better than my own. So you would think by now this would be a lesson learned. But… not so much.

So this past weekend we were having brunch, and I was telling my Dad and her about my latest (dare-to-)dream. And the second Mom started to offer a supportive suggestion, I cut her off.

Lesson. Not. Learned.

My mom, being who she is (and I am proud of her to be!), confronted the issue (me!) and then got over it (a separate lesson I can also stand to learn). I got a (well deserved) piece of her mind, and as her hurt sank in, my heart started to scream at me.

Seriously?!? Have I not learned anything these past 40 plus years? I should be following this woman around writing down every word she says, not trying to shut her up. All of her support and advice about my life has helped build my better self. Now, obviously, our relationship isn’t all sunshine and butterflies; we have plenty of agree to disagree moments, because, after all, we are mother and daughter. But regardless of our differing opinions (on say tattoos, for instance…), when I have an idea, my mom has a proven track record for igniting my flame and getting me to go. Yet time after time I shut her down, when instead I should know my now that she is my very own magic genie – whatever I wish for she will work with me to make it come true. Now I can’t stop thinking of what she was about to tell me, because history always repeats itself, and likely it was the spark to my next start.

There is no doubt in my mind that she will share this spark with me sometime soon; she won’t hold it hostage, that’s not her style. It is more likely that she probably just forgot about this by now, because unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident; instead, it is a lesson I need to relearn too often. And that sucks. (ARGH! – I suck!)

But I wonder if even after all this, will I listen to her wisdom? And what about the next time, will I listen then?

In order to really learn this lesson, I have admit I have a problem and own it. And most importantly, I have to stay aware of it. It is clear that after spending more than half my years of challenging and rebelling against her (teenager until thirty something…), that shutting her out and down has unfortunately become a bad habit (aka my first reaction). And the only way to change this habit is to introduce and practice a new, good habit:  to respond instead with the patience and respect she deserves from me. I don’t want to  react anymore for bad reasons. Mindfulness has to become my mantra, not just my muse.

mom2

My lesson here is not simply that she is my secret to success; my lesson is that I need to be more mindful about my mama. ♥

This time. The next time. And time after time.

(I love you Mom!)

 

 

 

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The Doors of Perception

They say you always regret the chances you didn’t take.

But do we, always?

Recently, a new muse of mine told me about a conversation she had with a friend who is an FBI agent. My muse imagined for a “why not me” moment what it would be like to be an FBI agent, and said as much to her friend. Her friend then said this:

“It’s too late for you.”

The way I heard it, once you turn 40, the FBI won’t consider your application. (note, not fact checked, and not the point of the story, so don’t get stuck here. Read on.)

This statement got me spinnnnnning – not into an argument about ageism, but more about if this could compromise my whole better than my day before mission. I have been writing about and living my “why not me” lifestyle since just shy of my 40th birthday. Had I instead let it be too late for me, I wouldn’t have gotten my Master’s degree. Or my personal training certification. Or be 2 weeks away from becoming a registered yoga teacher (my 200 hour RYT credential). Or for my who-knows-what-else-is-next.

As far as I am concerned, it would be the FBI’s loss after all my gains; at 43, I am in the best shape of my life physically and mentally and I make it my intention to stay that way. And as far as being “too late” in general for anything that might be in my next, I trust that my “why not me” soul and my where-there-is-a-will-there-is-a-way skills can find the necessary perspective to enable me to pick the lock of any door that tries to close on me.

But… this is an example of something that meant nothing to me, so it is easy for me to see this positive “their loss” perspective. But what about other things? Are there things I might want to do out there that I will be too late for, that I can’t approach from a different side to still sneak in? Things that blind my perspective instead of challenge it? Things that I will feel are my loss?

Bringing in the elephant in the room. The most obvious “It’s too late for you” moment in a woman’s life is when she can no longer have babies. From what I have experienced, this is a shock to the system even to women who don’t want any more children or never wanted children. It’s a Big Deal to the most of the many.

Now, most of you know I (am an aunt to many but ) have no children of my own. And some of you who I have been lucky enough to have in my life for a long time know that this wasn’t always our plan (but it certainly seemed to be someone else’s). Long story short (or not, click here), Matt and I tried for many years to have kids. We did everything short of IVF, and miscarried twice. We decided that we were fine without having kids of our own, and that (at least for then and maybe forever) adoption / fostering weren’t part of our plans. (I say this because the second you tell someone your “I can’t have kids” story they always remind you that this is an option – for you – in case you didn’t know?!?.)

Recently we revisited this. Having gone way down together to miserable, and now enjoying being in our up, and our older, I wanted to be sure I didn’t miss a mind change. Because the “It’s too late for you” door in this instance will lock and throw away the key (outside of opting for one of the aforementioned alternatives). So I checked in with myself, and with Matt, slightly scared  – what if our subconscious(es) didn’t agree? Because for me, my message – my vision – was loud and clear: when I look at my world, I am content. I do not see any empty seats for a future kid at our table. I see a full house and feel fulfilled. And I am actually grateful and relieved that I don’t have children of my own. (Yes, I said that, not to offend, but because it’s true and my blog doesn’t bullshit.) And thankfully Matt feels the same way.

I believe some of us are meant to be mothers; and those of you who are mothers (among your many other roles), I admire you more than you will ever know for filling our future world with good people. But I also choose to believe that some of us are meant not to be mothers and we are supposed to be something else. And although I am still seeing what exactly my something is, I don’t doubt it is – I am – and we all are – something special that the world needs.

I don’t even really think I met myself until almost 40. Anything I was or am too late for at this point I honestly wouldn’t have been ready for if I was on time. And that includes having kids. (And the FBI.)

SONY DSCI refuse to let “too late” be my mindset; instead, I choose to look for the doors that lead to infinite possibilities. And I don’t (and hopefully you won’t) regret the chances I didn’t take.

I am too busy enjoying the ones I am taking now.

 

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Patience

jerry beachIs time ever on your side?

After all, time itself is something with many sides.

There is either too much or not enough of it; and it either goes by too fast or too slow. Rarely is it just right, regardless of our plan’s plans to make it so.

The only principle that masters the manipulation of time is patience. Patience encourages alternative engagement when there is too much time; and she reminds you to breathe when there isn’t enough of it. Patience helps you get back to playing in your present when time starts to fly too fast; and when time is oh so very freaking slow, she is likely offering you space to silently prepare for something you don’t know about that is in your next. (a space we tend to get angry about instead of taking advantage of).

But none of this makes managing time any easier if your patience isn’t perfect – which no one’s is. We can practice cultivating patience, but while we are waiting for our something wonderfuls, she is too often shoved into our shadows.

In our “what’s next for you” world, we are often seduced into staring ahead instead of right in front of us, and by doing so we miss many nows. And when we are lucky enough to know what we want, seeing all the space (aka time) in the middle of us and making our mark can be maddening.

But we need to stop and consider: what will we miss if we fast forward to our future? Instead of people coming and going from our paths, there would be many we would never even meet. The magic of our many moments would be replaced with only our milestones, so lessons would go unlearned. We would miss all the good parts that get us to the big parts. We would miss the growth. The ride. The journey. The anticipation (which side note is such an undervalued positive part of our path on its own). All that would be left would be our destination, and yes, we would arrive there faster – but emptier.

In a world without waiting, we wash away some of our character’s full potential. We lose opportunities to strengthen our resilience. We sell ourselves short.

So the path to my better than my day before takes me back to cultivating patience. By no means am I an expert (my husband will attest to this), but I am a working on my progress. So whenever I feel myself wanting to fast forward, I look at or think of my dog Jerry. Jerry is 8 (I think, I often lie about his age thinking that will mean he will be around longer). And as much as it hurts my heart to say it or think it – Jerry isn’t likely going to be a part of some of future (really far out I hope) milestones. So Jerry keeps me present. He keeps me patient. He keeps me okay with waiting and wondering. He keeps me wanting to be in my here and he is my now.

Jerry is how I practice my patience. jerry camping2

So next time you find yourself angry with a side of time, ask yourself what you would miss if the situation wasn’t exactly what it was (is). The answer might not be apparent in your now, and the question might actually be aggravating in its own right in a shit situation, but the worth will come to light in some part of your happily ever after.Jerlex

So time may not always or ever seem to be on your side, but you can invite it over by accepting that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Even when we are waiting. Patiently.

Because your best you is worth waiting for.

The Two Most Powerful Warriors are Patience and Time – Tolstoy

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(Wo)man in the Mirror

Life is full of lessons learned. But I realized this morning that some of those lessons are loops that seem to start us over at times.

But before this takes a wrong turn, let’s set up some rules:

  1. This is not about body shaming.
  2. This is not about anyone else’s body but mine.
  3. This is not about actually being fat.
  4. This is actually about self-perception and control.
  5. Last, I am not writing this to ignite or incite reactions – I can’t (and won’t) worry about being polite or politically correct if I plan to be personal and real, so please don’t morph my message and make it about anything other than my experience. If you don’t like what I say and how I say it that’s fine, because this post is about me and meant  to inspire anyone else maybe stuck in this same lopsided loop; so, long intro short, my message may not be for everyone.

Okay, now that we are all on the same page, I will say it without any filters: I have a fear of being fat.

My story starts back in high school. We all know this awkward stage where our bodies and minds are stuck between childhood and adulthood. It’s confusion and chaos and there isn’t much you can control. But… I looked real hard and found that if I threw out my lunches and or threw up my dinners, I could control my body. This is a dangerous tool for anyone, let alone a teenager. And while there are good tools for this, like mindful eating, moderation, and sensible exercise – those weren’t even phrases in my vocabulary let alone in my toolbox.

My parents found out and I started seeing a shrink. And then I started eating everything without a care in the world or taking a step on a treadmill. So I lost control which for me equaled gaining weight. I stayed on what I saw as the heavy side of the spectrum until senior year, when the urge to control something on the verge of even more changes reared its ugly head again, and I started an obsessive relationship with a Stairmaster. Seriously I would be on that machine for 2 hours a day. Of course, it only took living the college life to cure that.

For the next twenty years, in favor of all that was the party life, I stopped fighting with control and my body altogether. While this wasn’t healthy, from my “fat” standpoint (or as we now are starting to understand it a need to control everything), it was better than before, because I stopped seeing and fearing my “fat” self. Unfortunately it was for the wrong reasons, because really I stopped seeing myself at all.

Let’s fast forward from this scene to 2012.

In 2012 as you know by now I gave up drinking. And I went from a size 10/12 to a 2/4 so swiftly that some people thought I was sick. Suddenly I was skinny. And it was empowering. It was magic. And what I can (am trying to…) see now that I couldn’t then was that this meant way too much to me.

Because then I quit smoking and the sugar intake I was getting from the alcohol screamed for supplementation. I developed a sweet tooth and felt that since I was controlling my drinking and smoking the rest of my life needed to be a free for all.

So I spent the next year or so switching back and forth into seats on this seesaw; fighting an imaginary enemy. My heroes finally enter the story in the summer of 2013. They were the owners and trainers at a personal training studio called Rush Performance, and they taught me a healthy approach and perspective to combat my “fear of fat”. I learned about my body. I got strong as shit. And I started to love my body. Better yet, I started to accept my body and found that for me, being strong and sitting at a size six was my happy place (aka a harmony that still has a place for ice cream). Sure, I could exert more self-control and be smaller, but at what cost? Ice cream? Forget that. I was forty something and fit and that was my fine. And I want(ed) to help others find their fine, so I became a Personal Trainer.

So you are probably wondering why this is about a fear of being fat. But as I told you in the beginning, this is not about being fat. This is actually about self-perception and control. So let’s get to my truth.

When I look in the mirror, I still see my former “fat” self. I still am shocked when I see pictures or videos of how I actually look. So that old monster mindset is still alive and well somewhere deep inside. And yesterday she and I spoke again for the first time in a while.

Recently I changed up my workouts to include more interval training and running, and I started seeing new results. But… new results are dangerous to me, because they invite control back into my life in a non-conducive way. So when I went to the chiropractor yesterday who is helping my spine re-align for better long term health, all I could hear was the short term instructions not to run or jump at least for a week.

WHAT?!?!!? My “fine” self screamed. No way. Not now. (not ever!). Long term health over new results now? I started to spin out: if I stopped for a week or more, what would happen? Would the girl I see in my mirror come back? Well, I can’t risk  or let that happen. Fuck it, said one of my Gemini twins.

Thankfully though, I have another side: the twin who responds with reason. Her voice used to be softer than the other twin’s, but now I have the tools to hear her more. So I am sticking with the long term game, but I am still afraid. After all, it doesn’t have to be rational for us to react. Triggers don’t discriminate.

So today I set a goal to sweat without jumping. Or running. And I succeeded. But right now this is a one day at a time battle for me, and a lesson in redirecting my need to control things to instead fuel my path to my better perspective. But I won’t lie. I am afraid as I write this that tomorrow I will put on a pair of pants and they won’t fit. It’s ridiculous, I know. But it is real because I feel it. And all of our feelings are valid – even the vicious ones.

I am not fat. Most people will say I was never fat. And again, what does fat have to do with any of this? The answer (has always been) is nothing. It isn’t about fat. It is about a fear of losing control; a fear of becoming my former self – physically and mentally.

mirror 2And if I am trying to be better than I was yesterday, I have to face this fear and find a way to replace it with facts. So my fact is that today, I faced my fear.

And tomorrow, when I put on my pants, I will face it again. And each day I will practice controlling the anxiety while I learn the new lesson from this loop:  to let go of the fear, and find freedom in my good habits that fulfill the forever me(s) in my mirror.

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I’m A Little Teapot

What do you do when you find out you aren’t perfect?

Yes, I need to explain that, being that I am a “champion in practice” of progress and not perfection. This is about the fact that we are all flawed; and while we know it at the best of times, at our worst of times we tend to tell tales about our troubling behavior instead of our truths.

Like this morning.

So my husband walks into the kitchen after his run and before mine and told me about some plans that had changed. Again, this is pre-workout, when I am far from my best self. Some people you can’t talk to before coffee; for me, it is before working out.

So when he spoke; I didn’t respond, I REACTED. My button had been pushed so I couldn’t (didn’t) stop from sounding off. As I walked away to create some space to simmer down, I reminded him this wasn’t the best time to talk to me, to which he said “It’s never a good time to talk to you.”

OoOoOuch. This took BALLS to say. (Husbands reading this are perhaps silently celebrating, while all the wives are shouting back. [And everyone is wondering if Matt survived to tell his side of the story here, spoiler alert – he did!]).

I left to go on my run. Without any more words. And when the run wasn’t enough, I jumped on my bike. And then I realized what I knew the second he said it but I didn’t want it to be true:  He. Was. Right.

I am aware of this; it isn’t new news that my first reactions are hardly my best responses. But I have been working on it. And writing about it. But back to that progress not perfection thing… unfortunately, this was neither of those things. It was just a tantrum in its finest terrible.

When I went back home, we both apologized. But this was on me, and I told him he was right (rare win for Matt!). We hugged. We forgave. We went on with our days. But as the morning grew gone, I still felt stumped by my own snap. And then my friend Toni’s “Friday Rambling” post on Facebook reminded me that instead of looking at what I lacked, I should be enjoying my room for improvement. She talked about her own blame game and reactions, and offered an inspiring illustration that put her back on her own path of progress:

“If you have a tea cup that has very sweet tea in it- when it is bumped, jostled or otherwise banged around- sweet tea spills out of it. The bumping of it doesn’t change the contents. If there is sweet tea inside, that’s what spills over.”

teapot1

Me doing my best teapot (Disney, 11/15)

 

I was bumped and I spilled; but I don’t have to think of this as a fail – the story serves me and everyone else better if I enjoy this lesson (re)learned as recognizing my room for improvement.

 

A girl’s gotta have goals (to be better than her day before) to even see her path to progress, with or without the perspective of (im)perfection. And this means that sometimes we may be assholes to make room for our amazing.

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Try a Little Tenderness

“Show yourself some compassion.”

How many times in the stretch of a stress out have you heard this?

I know I have certainly said/sent this statement to many – and until lately I thought I knew what it meant. But as it turns out, I had never really thought about what the statement actually means.

What does self-compassion look and sound like? What does the tangible and healthy version of “give yourself a break” look like? And – how can we cultivate this when we need it?

I can tell you for me, self-compassion often equals removing restrictions and or rewarding myself. So it seems from my statement that self-compassion is something I consider as earned instead of being automatically entitled to it. (Not good!) But that’s not the only wrong part of my picture. My street to self-compassion steers into a rebellion of sorts, and it generally manifests as bad-for-me food. So my picture (not so) perfect self-compassion is me in front of the TV (aka mindless, mindful on mute), with a bucket of ice cream and a spoon. And dark chocolate covered almonds. And maybe even a bag of pretzels. I certainly don’t let my self-compassion settle for anything but everything. After all, life can be limiting enough at times!

I know I am not alone in indulging (abusing…?) to self-soothe. Somehow we have learned to associate self-compassion with rewarding ourselves. Now, if you can manage moderation in there, you are probably okay. But rarely is one (or even some…) of anything enough for most of us to forget about life for a while. Which seems to be another aspect of self-compassion – finding a fog and forgetting. We aren’t letting go and letting God like we could(/should). Instead, we are just behaving blindly. But is ignoring the problem really part of the solution? And is this showing self-compassion or merely enabling distraction? These two scenes do not seems equal, but yet somehow, they have become interchangeable.

None of this was even on my radar until I read “The Neuroscience of Building Compassion and Resilience” by Julia Samton.  In this article, Ms. Samton actually lays out how to generate self-compassion. Reading about this struck me, as her way was way different – and better – than my way. She presents self-compassion as an active process instead of a sedentary (sit on the couch!) statement. Here are her steps to practicing self-compassion: 

  • First, start with a few breaths to tune into whatever is going on inside. meditation
  • Notice if you are experiencing anger, fear, sadness or stress, anxiety. Where do you feel the emotion in your body? Start to soften that area, as if you are applying heat to sore muscles.
  • Next, think of a nurturing person in your life. Perhaps it is a best friend, a parent, a mentor, or a figure you admire, or even a spiritual leader you have never met. Choose a person or being who you believe loves and accepts you as you are.
  • Now, think of encouraging words that this figure might say. Let them comfort you and help you to feel understood. Give he, she, or it the heavy responsibilities you are facing, and let them guide you with their words and acceptance.

    mom

    The nurturing voice I hear what I need to hear from is usually my Mom’s!

Her prescription doesn’t promise perfection; instead she encourages us to practice this method and strengthen our resilience, allowing us to relieve anxiety and recover faster from negative emotions and experiences.

That. Sounds. Awesome. Doesn’t it??

So I took to re-examining my conceptualization of self-compassion. It was revolutionary for me to realize that my relationship with self-compassion was on dysfunctional auto-pilot:  that self-compassion doesn’t have to be earned, but it might have to be (re)learned. And that is isn’t a reward; instead it is a skill.

This is now a new part of my journey to be better (in this case to myself!) than my day before. My goal is to radicalize and reconcile my differences with self-compassion. My work in progress action is to practice replacing my self-soothing version of self-compassion with one that revitalizes my resilience; to try to channel tenderness when I need it. This will help make me better than my day before, which is the only way for me to be better to everyone else than my day before.

We can only wow our world if we give it what it deserves, which is our best selves. And strengthening our self-compassion skills by is part of what builds our bests.

 

Resources

Samton, Julia, M.D., (3.12.2017). The Neuroscience of Building Compassion and Resilience. INC. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/julia-samton/the-neuroscience-of-compassion.html on 4.14.2017.

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We Are the Champions

I am not a competitive person.

Meaning, I am not motivated by the chance to win – truly, I just enjoy playing the game. Sure, it is fun to win – but for me, it isn’t reason enough for me to act. Now, this doesn’t mean I am not motivated; or not ambitious; or not driven to succeed. It just means I don’t play to win, I play just to play. Winning isn’t my anything.

But recently a situation surfaced that left me wondering if my win warrior really does sit quietly on the sidelines.

There is a yoga pose that’s really got my goat right now -gomukhasana – aka cow faced pose

Jen cow

Me with my best intention

(the arms part). In a teacher training class a couple weeks ago, I mentioned my disdain for this pose, and someone suggested that I don’t like it because I can’t do it.

 Hmmm.(phff!)

There are plenty of poses I can’t do, and many more I might never be able to do. I can admire a Bendy Wendy (mostly!) without wistfulness. So certainly it couldn’t be that. And more so, I decided I didn’t want it to be that; this inspired me to make it my mission to practice this pose. And I have been. And I still can’t do it, but I am committed to trying, always on my path of progress, not perfection.

Then came last week; I observed a yoga class as part of my teacher training, and the teacher talked the class through and to Dancer pose (Natarajasana). She told and showed the class plain and simple that her own dancer “sucks”. But it was where it was, and she was okay with that. I loved this moment of the class; her authenticity and non-attachment really resonated with me. So after the class, I talked to the teacher about my own sucky-ness with cow face pose. Two peas in a pod, or so I thought. But, turns out, she isn’t making it a point to practice her Dancer. She is at peace with where she is with it in her present, and is okay with getting better in natural time instead of imposing on-purpose practice. For her, it was not about being able to do the pose. It was about the process of getting there, and paying attention to her body’s progress. She practices with her heart, she told me; there is no ego driving her faster to a destination.

Hmmm(phff!) again. (but simultaneously in awe.)

Immediately I jumped on her boat and denied my own ego’s seat in my sidecar. I heard myself tell her that I was pursuing this pose because I have extremely tight shoulders, and this heart opener will help my shoulders find a healthier home. Now, this is all true. But… was it really why I was playing, or was I playing for the win (to do the pose)? And what part was my ego playing in my game?

ICK! I hated this thought. So I sold me on my story, and stuck to it. Until the next morning when I went to practice my handstand, which has become a daily activity. And I realized I don’t want to do a handstand because it’s good for me (even though it is). I want to do it because it’s a badass thing to be able to do. There is no denying that I want to win at handstand. (and consequently, at cow face too).

But is this ego? And if so, is wanting to be good at something – ?to win? – bad?

I let this thought tumble around, and in some time it occurred to me that there wasn’t one answer to this question – there were two:  I realized that Ego, like me, is a Gemini.

One twin is our Evil Ego; he creates false perceptions by casting slinky shadows on truths. Evil Ego causes us to act out of want instead of need; to react instead of respond; to be an ass and assume; and to act out of fear instead of from a foundation. Evil Ego is our ignorance (in Buddhism this is called Avidya).  The other twin is our Empowering Ego. This twin shows off our shine; she is the good kind of pride, the one that pushes us past perceived limits; the one that revels in results when hard work and dedication pay off. Empowering Ego is all of our actions that drive us to be better, to be good, and even to win, in the spirit of self-improvement or self-examination (Svadhyaya). After all, being our best selves is the best contribution we can make to ourselves, and to society.

So all said and some done, it is not negative to want to be better – or even to be a badass. Winning can be your something and not your everything at the same time. We all can, and should, be champions!

Matt Cow

My hubby, showing me how it’s done!

Just be sure the right twin is your champion, and the one that stars your story. (click story to see me somewhat stick a handstand for [my count of] 7 or so seconds!)

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Love Song

1983

They say you can’t really love someone else until you love yourself. Today I want to share my love story:

I started young… in Kindergarten, I volunteered to sit at the all boys’ table.

In grammar school, I kept a (Judy Blume!) diary, and it was all about boys and boys; I had 3 crushes I can clearly recall (but according to my diarydiaryID, in 1983 there were 7…). In 3rd and 4th grade, I had this ongoing daydream that a boy I liked would give me his “ID bracelet” and I would then be his girlfriend. I totally blame the Brady Bunch for this formula flop; I am pretty sure no one I knew in grammar school (or since the 60s) even had an ID bracelet.

In junior high, the crushes continued. At first, there seemed to always be a prettier friend that the boys preferred. But, around age 13, I blossomed a bit, exchanging my sweat pants for sweaters, my braces for boobs, and my fresh but flat feathered hair for Aqua Net and 2 more inches. And then I got noticed! After kissing a couple frogs, I got my first boyfriend. And I was madly. Deeply. In love. Our song was “Never Say Goodbye” by Bon Jovi (although I am pretty sure he never knew this, but my friends and I sure did!) I still remember wearing a new tight red skirt, an olive colored blouse, and a red belt, and getting busted making out on the floor of parents basement! [After which I got a talk from my mom that French kissing leads to oral sex* (?not for me then, and not for me now!)] And for almost 2 months, it was all great, until he two-timed me with an “older” (aka freshman) girl. I was crushed.

I didn’t realize it then but I realize it now, it took me a long time to recover from this. When another girl replaces you, our first instinct (especially at 13), is to look at what is wrong with us. So I did. Hard. For a long time. Then came the low self-esteem, an eating disorder, and many steps in many wrong directions trying to be someone I wasn’t while I figured out who I was. And I experienced a lot of unreturned love. I always found a guy and fell hard, and would watch him fall for someone else while we became friends. I didn’t really have another boyfriend until college. And even after that, my pattern(s) and process(es) continued.

Then, finally (!), I met a nice guy. A great guy.

Someone who wanted to love me like I had loved and wanted to be loved. And I loved him back with all that I had and all that I knew. But it turned out that wasn’t enough. Not that what we had wasn’t true; but I wasn’t true. At the time, I couldn’t capture what was wrong, but I wanted spectacular and stars and this wasn’t that. It wasn’t him – it was ALL me. And the truth was I couldn’t see spectacular and stars. because I wasn’t ever clear enough to see myself, let alone anyone else.

Then, when I least expected it, I found the love of my life.

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Matt and I at my going away party at the Tumble in, 2001, before I moved to Colorado with him.

He was my best friend, which is the perfect foundation for a strong future. It took a while for it all to come together (it’s a great meet-cute for another day), but it finally did and we got married. I didn’t think I could love him more than I did. But I was wrong.

About 5 years in, we hit tough times, and things were either going to break or get beyond better. Lucky for me, these hard times forced me to find myself in a way that I don’t think ever would have happened otherwise (so a blessing in disguise type thing). And the person I found, the me who looks for her better self each day, is my true me. It was so nice to finally meet her, and more so to finally love her. And loving her allowed my love for him to expand into something beyond spectacular and stars and even words. Instead, it is my smile, it the sparkle in my eye, and is it the warmth in my heart. And it is goose bumps and butterflies. (even as I type this :-)).

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Matt n me, 2015, Colorado.

They say you can’t really love someone else until you love yourself.

They. are. right.

 

 

* This moment raised a hot topic with the entire 8th grade class, leading to the discovery that oral sex was not simply talking about sex!

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Seeing Things for the First Time

phoenixMy phoenix story actually started while I worked at a place called Phoenix Rising.

(yep, the irony of that isn’t subtle).

I spent the first (almost) forty years of my life not knowing that I even needed re-inventing. I guess I thought I was good enough just the way I was. And maybe for that moment, I was – meaning, I am a strong believer that your experiences build your better. I know I had to go through all my good and bad to get to even wanting to be better.

So – my first me. She was fun (until she wasn’t); she took risks (and she always got caught!); and she purposefully avoided her “potential” because she liked to do anything but what she was supposed to do (so.. the free spirits side of her stuck around lol). But mostly, she partied; she partied like this was her purpose.

For a long part of my wandering while, I wasn’t lost; I loved what I did for work and for play. I felt present and at peace with my fortune and future, even though my peace was artificially placed. If life looked better that way, then why not choose that look at life? It didn’t seem self-destructive or sabotaging. It was just what I knew – about life and about me.

What I can see now that I couldn’t see then, was that we (she – me –I) never bothered to look any further forward or dig any deeper. We didn’t see a reason to. Even when our living to work life(style) had stopped working; when the work had stopped satisfying us in any way and the satisfaction was replaced by stress. Instead we just ignored the stress and stayed tuned to a dimension of distraction, which only helped us further develop our skills as a professional party girl.

I just didn’t consider any of this a problem, or to be limiting in any way. I wanted to own my own restaurant, and as far as I was concerned, my lifestyle went with that flow and that was limitless in itself. But then this girl got interrupted –some (didn’t wish for but in retrospect blessing in disguise) experiences helped me grow out of my party dress, and suddenly life got to a point where (for the first time) sobriety was my only sanity and savior.

And when I woke up from a many year haze I was ready to be more: to re-invent me, and to meet my better self.

I wasn’t concerned with any statues of limitations on starting over. For me, it wasn’t about starting over because I accepted what I couldn’t (cannot) change. For me, it was about just starting; letting go of the girl I had always been and seeing something next for her for the first time.

And then I wasn’t the party girl anymore; my re-invent was into a go-get-it girl who was going (and has now went to!) many places; living out all my possibilities with all my potential.

Today, I am the girl in my Grateful Dead shoes who listened to Louis Armstrong, Bob Marley, and the Allmans on her morning run.feet

Tomorrow, I will be the girl in yoga pants, training to teach people how to hear their hearts over the heads, and replace their fears with freedoms (aka practice yoga).

And in my every day, I will always speak (fierce and soft) truths, as I practice and purpose re-inventing me, inspired by my constant motive to be better than my day before.

I will be a perpetual phoenix.

(?Will you?)

 

 

 

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