Cheers to Another Good-Bye and a New Hello.

Holy shit it’s the last day of December and 2016! Seriously – people weren’t joking when they said time flies as you get older. Anyways, it’s once again the time of year when everyone reflects on the past year and possibly at what they’ve learned. 2016 , for an overwhelming amount, seems to have basically been the shit stain of the decade. Let’s be honest it’s been a pretty rough year in a lot of different areas. You know the ones…politics, the disaster called the presidential election, basic human rights,drinking water, Bowie, AND Carrie Fisher…I mean seriously 2016?! 2017 if you even think about taking Betty White or Angela Lansbury we’re gonna have some issues.

To be honest ,for me, 2016 hasn’t been horrible. It’s been challenging and interesting and  definitely a year of struggles and lessons learned. For the last two years, maybe 3, I’ve done a combination post for my birthday and what I’ve learned in this 27th year of life as it begins to come to a close. So, here it is, unfiltered and a bit scatter brained.
No thanks, I don’t want to. Is a perfectly valid reason not to do something. 
I’ve always been the “yeah sure” person- whether it’s helping out by subbing or taking an extra shift, or going to all the things my friends ask me to go to, or even doing something I maybe didn’t want to do. This year I’ve gotten a lot better with the word “No”. I’ve learned to enjoy my alone time and to allow myself those downtimes. And on top of that I’ve finally figured out that I don’t need to have some extravagant excuse or reason to validate it. “No.” is a complete sentence.

Burning bridges is stupid and a really crappy way to conduct yourself professionally. 

I had a very interesting situation occur earlier in the year regarding this. In the heat of the moment I really wanted to just burn the bridge and say everything that I truly thought. But at the same time I knew I was coming from a place of anger and distrust and that burning a bridge may light up the way and cause a stir or reality check but it also burns the bridge. So, I kept my mouth shut, let myself cool down, and took it all with a neutral demeanor. I mean once a bridge is burnt it’s pretty hard to build it back up again; so why not use the bridge for its actual intended purpose? Leave places with your head held high. It’ll be better for you in the long run.

But it’s 100% okay to leave a situation if it’s not right.

I made the mistake of staying in the aforementioned situation longer than I should have because I felt obligated to. I didn’t want to hurt anyone or inconvenience them, but by doing this I hurt myself. I turned down some offers that could have really opened doors for me and started me on my path even sooner. Don’t stay just to keep from rocking the boat. If something isn’t right, change it or leave. Just leave with dignity.

 It’s totally possible to do a 180 and change everything about your life if you really want to. 

If you don’t want to be something, somewhere, or doing whatever you’re doing, you absolutely have the power to change your life. Make your life one that you’re proud of. It won’t be easy and the challenges will test you and you may even change the end goal several times. But it’s totally worth it to find and become the best version of you.

Trusting your gut will almost never steer you in the wrong direction.

 99.9% of the time, your gut knows what’s up. So trust it. And if your heart, head, and gut actually agree on something you bet for damn sure you better listen because it’s probably going to be life changing.

Nobody’s life is as good as their Instagram.

Everyone retakes their selfie, uses that one “perfect” filter, and posts pictures only when their brunch looks flawless. Essentially this is just the modern day “grass is always greener”. But let’s be real their life isn’t as amazingly pristine as you think it is while you’re mindlessly swiping on your phone. We have this crazy desire and need to constantly show ourselves off as flawless and it’s just not true. There is only one definition of the word perfect that I like and it’s the adjective. It defines perfect as “complete”. As a person we are whole and complete, we have these little quirks that are unique to us and amazing imperfections that help to mold us and give us character to make us complete. But we get to this version of perfect by having not just good days, but bad days too.

Nothing is permanent. Even the hardest, scariest things pass.

I was at my physical a few weeks ago and for the first time in ages in the depression column I was able to mark down a 0 for the symptoms. As someone who has suffered from both suicidal and severe recurring depression it’s rare that I don’t have at least a few symptoms or feelings that fall under the depression category. But for the first time since I can remember I honestly feel ok with life and I’m pretty sure it’s because I’ve learned to understand that nothing is permanent (not even my tattoos are totally permanent as ink fades). I’ve made it through some dark storms and found the pretty field of sunflowers and just as quickly as I find the field another storm can start and end. It’s all a cycle. And when we can learn to appreciate it and not be fully petrified or attached to one part of it we can sail through a little easier.

Laugh and live in the moment more often than not.

Life is not meant to be taking so incredibly serious. Yes- there are serious issues and bad things happen and we should be concerned. But we have to remember to enjoy life too. Live in the moment and stop dreading the future or regretting the past. And we have to remember to laugh because sometimes shit’s so ridiculous that that’s all we can do. At the end we all end up in the same way- so take time to enjoy the ride. Be silly, be sweet, be sassy. Be you.

Where there’s a will there’s a way.

I’ve heard the statement a million and one times and I thought I knew what it meant. Turns out I so didn’t. Changing careers and focuses on my life created a stack of new obstacles and barriers to get through. One of them was how to continue to grow as a new yoga teacher. Trainings, workshops, and the like aren’t exactly free and most are insanely pricey. Sometimes you luck out and find someone who gets the reality of how expensive it all is and offers a discount and any help possible to get you where you want to be. But you have to do the work to get there. Occasionally that means living off of Cheerios and water for almost a month so you can put all the grocery money aside to pay for a mentorship program. Sometimes it means taking a third job, working 7 days a week, and going from one job to the next, and taking any last minute paying gig to make that extra cash to afford private sessions, workshops, and the next program that screams out to you. It means foregoing that urge to splurge on a new pair of boots or that chic new dress at Express or deciding not to go to the city for a pop up concert or going out for drinks. You start to prioritize and find what is really important to you and you make it happen…somehow.

Life was never meant to be fair- it was meant to teach you, challenge you, and shape you.

Shitty things happen to people who don’t deserve shitty things happening to them. But these people are some of the most courageous and open minded individuals you will probably ever meet. For instance, I have an amazing friend who recently had her first baby. He’s basically the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. My jellybean wasn’t born with all of his genes though and can’t breathe on his own. For the past 3 months this beautiful little family has lived in the hospital. Nothing they did caused this to happen. My friends and my jellybean are some of the strongest fighters I know. They prove to me every day that no situation is too dark or impossible and even though they may not feel like it this entire situation has made them stronger and so tight knit as a family. The coin here goes both ways though- sometimes not so good people get exactly what they want. They just know how to play their cards right (like the president-elect). It’s a lesson in life- a super sucktastic one but one none the less. However- you can’t let one or the other overwhelm you or fully define a person. Take it all with a grain of salt because each person has their own story you can learn from.

Love comes in many different varieties.

Some love comes through playing pranks, having snowball fights, and bickering like an old married couple. Other times it’s getting a rental car, driving two hours in the opposite direction than you’re supposed to be going, letting your friend cry into your hair and accidentally eating some of it while you meet your nephew for the first and possibly last time all while picking up conversation like it’s been 2 days since the last time you saw each other instead of 4 years. And sometimes it’s through a handhold or hug that goes a little longer than the norm. But it’s all love.

When the universe wants to get a message to you it will find a way…

and when the first 5 times don’t sink in it will literally slap you in the face with a “do it ya dummy” scenario like running into a certain person in a super random airport when you’ve been spending the past few weeks weighing a certain decision you have to make.

 

Be selfish.
 Yup- I said it. The big S word. Do it. You’ll thank me later. You have to put you first because if you’re not ok how the hell do you think you’re gonna help anyone else? Being selfish in certain parts of your life is ultimately the most selfless thing you can do.
Travel doesn’t always mean an exotic location. 
Yes- it’s awesome when you get to travel to a foreign country but you can also learn and grow and gain experience just from traveling in the country you live in. This was the first year since 2012 that I wasn’t able to travel outside of the country. However, I got to travel to several states I had never been to like Massachusetts and see Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. I was also able to travel to Illinois- a place I haven’t been since I was 9 months old! I met people who have had a huge impact on my life during those trips and if I hadn’t taken them who knows what direction I would be going in.
Being comfortable is safe; but it can get you stuck.
When you get too comfortable you stop trying, stop pushing, stop evolving. We have to have a level of “discomfort” in life in order to want to continue to learn and grow and succeed.
Birthdays are important!
Ya hear me Liz?! It’s important! I’ve always loved having a birthday and celebrating it and this past year has just made me appreciate them more. Not everyone you know will celebrate their 28th birthday or 39th birthday or 70th or even 1st birthday. It’s heart breaking and at the same time it’s a comfort to know we don’t live forever. But appreciate every birthday you have even if you don’t think it’s a big deal because somewhere in the world there is someone praying to get to that age you’re turning and someone else who will never see it. Even if it’s not one of the “big” ones acknowledge that you lived for another year and appreciate it.
I really have the best friends a girl could ask for.
I mean I already knew this but this year just continued to solidify this for me. 2016 was filled with transitions and my best friends have stuck by my side the whole way. They’ve lifted me up and encouraged me; they’ve punched me in the gut with hard facts and told me to shake it off, take a shot of whiskey and put my big girl pants on. They never let me take the easy way out and are always there to help pick up the pieces if I fall and break a little.
Learn to be ok with who you are, who you were, and who you are aiming to be.
Pretty sure this one’s a lifer. But we have to learn to like ourselves and be ok with us. No one was given the best hand in this card game. But when you can start to appreciate yourself and where you currently are you can learn how to expand on your positive attributes and not to let something you feel isn’t great about you become an obstacle you can’t pass. I was an extremely extroverted, creative, nerdy, and hyper kid. And somewhere along the line life happened, I went through things, I grew up, and I stopped liking that about myself. I built this shell around me to protect what was on the inside and it worked for a little while- until I stopped growing and just felt numb all of the time. It wasn’t really until these past couple of years that I started to bull doze the walls down again and let these parts of me see the light of day. I’m still fairly quiet and shy at first as I’ve learned to observe and understand my surroundings. But it’s nice to finally start to feel ok with myself.
Cruise Control is your best friend.
You think I’m joking- but seriously you try driving close to 9 hours in one weekend without it. My foot and my ass both agree that it’s probably the best invention ever. Plus the looks I get when people see how I sit using cruise control keep me entertained on the drive.
Your soul mate may not exactly be the person you marry.
Fact: In many cultures mate means friend. Our soul can refer to different parts of us; mind, emotion, and intellect. So; with all of that it could be said that our soul mate is someone who connects strongly in one or more of those areas. For me, I’m pretty sure my souls mate is my bestest best friend. Don’t get me wrong- I love her but totally not marrying her. Our minds just happen to be on the same wave length, we both connect strongly to emotion in different ways which benefit and strengthen the other, and we keep each other on our toes creatively and mentally. She “gets” me in ways that others don’t. It’s like one of those “you wouldn’t have to say anything but they’d know exactly what you were thinking things.”
 
Listening to our heart, even if it looks ridiculous from a logical perspective, will never fail us.

I’m still really discovering who I am and learning to listen for myself. As we grow up we have a million voices of influence jiggling around. But, sooner or later we have to find our own voice and start to make decisions. Some people will listen to just their hearts, others just their heads, some their guts, and some all of the above. But we have to remember to always take into account what our heart tells us. That’s where our true passions are. And occasionally what our heart says may seem a little crazy. So far, all my best decisions in life haven’t made sense. From the outside perspective, I’ve probably looked like a mad person with my choices. But there was this inner voice saying, “Even if you don’t know how exactly it’s going to turn out, all is going to be okay.”

We all have this inner voice; we just need to remove the distractions that hinder us from hearing it, and most importantly, find the courage to listen to it and act on it.

Be like a dog

Be loyal and faithful. Forgive and Forget. Live life to the fullest. Take naps. And always be excited for what’s coming next.

Enjoy your final day in 2016 and I’ll see ya’ll in 2017!

~A

One year can seem like a millenial ago

Today is a rather special day for me. Today I celebrate being single for an entire year. This probably seems like a silly thing to celebrate. But- here’s the catch. I have not been single for this long since I was about 14. I was what some people would call a serial monogamist. I was always in a relationship of some sort throughout high school and college. I’ve had 3 serious relationships in that time-2 of which were long term and 1 semi engagement. It’s funny when I use the term serial monogamist though because usually I’m the exact opposite of what people think of. I’m probably overly independent, not clingy, hate cuddling, dislike dating, and seriously enjoy my alone time.

My last relationship was pretty rough and ended brutally. Afterwards I really had to take a look in the mirror. And to be honest- I had no clue who was looking back at me. I have always been an advocate of not changing who you are for a person. Growing as a person- yes; but not drastically changing to a version of a person your significant other wants. But somehow in the midst of 5 years- that’s exactly what had happened. I lost myself and had become this totally different being. After a two week trip to Israel to clear my head, get back to my roots, and re-introduce myself to…well…myself. I knew I needed to spend some time on ME. I promised myself that I would spend a year doing all the “RE’s”. Rediscovering, relearning, renewing, reviewing, removing, reaffirm, reviving, rejuvenating, realize, rekindling, reawaken, rethink, and so many more.

It’s led to some pretty drastic changes in my life. I left a “safe” job that made me nothing but anxious and depressed. I stopped focusing on impressing and pleasing everyone else and started meditating more. I started listening to the raw and emotional side of me as well as that lovely stubborn headed practical Capricorn side. I began to go inward and spent much more time on me and what I needed and wanted. Many people questioned me, a few were angry, but most were encouraging and supportive.

Exactly 365 days from when this journey started I can look in the mirror and don’t cringe at what I see or at how I feel. I’m still rediscovering myself but I’m realizing that this is a lifelong process. Now that I’ve spent time on me I think I’m finally to a point where I understand that I am worthwhile and now I can truly start to open up to others and re-open my heart to new possibilities.

~A

 

Inside all of us is a Wild Thing

Over the past month or so several people have contacted me regarding my yoga journey since I’ve started documenting it. Many people have said that they’re in awe of the progress I’ve made, some have said I’ve inspired them to start up a practice of their own, and others have had questions regarding what led me to yoga, how it’s benefitted me, where they should start, and if I was scared when I first started to document everything.

I’m going to answer that last question right now with a flat out- FUCK YES. I was terrified the first time I video-taped myself during a practice…and the 2nd time, and the 3rd, and the 30th. Honestly I’m always a little nervous because I’ve spent a long time battling body image issues and was afraid that what people would see wasn’t the progress or the practice; but the fat rolls, thick thighs, and giant breasts. It took me almost 3 years to be able to document my practice and I still have anxiety when I hit that record button. What I’ve learned through recording myself though has really helped me grow in my practice both physically and mentally.

However; I have also grown because I have some amazing teachers (that I constantly go to for advice). One of the first things I always tell someone who is interested in beginning yoga is to make sure they go to a studio and/or find a teacher to work with as well as beginning a home practice. There are several reasons for this. Probably the most important is that taking a class with a certified teacher will help you catch any alignment or safety issues. You also have the chance to really learn different ways of practicing outside of what you see on whichever DVD you’ve been using. It’s also SO much different when you have the chance to be physically adjusted in a pose. You get to feel what you were doing versus what you are now doing and how it effects every other part of the practice.

Several people have told me they’re scared to try a studio out. Some have been afraid because they are scared of being judged and others are nervous of doing asana in front of other people. When I first started practicing I did privates and semi privates because I wasn’t comfortable being in front of others- so I’m very familiar with this feeling. If you are scared of starting out at a studio just know that it can take time but I guarantee you that almost no one else in that room is going to be watching for you to mess up or look funny because the secret is…probably everyone in that room is thinking the same thing as  you. And  if they aren’t it’s because they’re focusing on their practice or on the teacher or both. I promise you that if you truly start practicing yoga at some point going to classes does get easier;especially if you have an open mind and are willing to give it a shot.  Now- we can’t be with our teachers 24/7 because privates and classes cost money and unless you’re a millionaire or can find a really good deal it’s really difficult to practice every day at a studio or afford numerous amounts of privates. I get that…trust me I get that! The only reason I’m able to go to studios for practice is because I work at one and do photography work for another in exchange for classes. I’m very familiar with that “let’s see how far we can stretch $5 out for” boat.

I have to be my own teacher a lot of the time and having that handy video feature on my phone really helps me catch myself. I’m also able to double check any adjustments, alignment issues, etc. from classes I’ve taken during the week that I’ve been working on and I’m able to talk to my teachers about some things that I may have noticed in a video of my practice that I’m unsure of.

Outside of developing my practice and progressing through it I’ve been able to slowly work on the body image issues as well. When I’m looking at a video afterwards I’m no longer paying attention to the body in a negative way. I’m more so looking for alignment, lines, what my hands and feet are doing versus what they maybe should be doing, etc. I still notice some things I don’t like-but let’s be honest- sadly, it’s a hard wired feature in most us. And sometimes my body type is brought up in public conversations. (I debated discussing this part but one of my teachers encouraged me to write about it so here it goes.)

One of the first studios I auditioned at told me flat out that I was “pretty enough” to work there, but they were concerned at the type of person I would be bringing in due to my body type. They even went as far as to say “we just haven’t hired someone as big as you before.” Mind you- I’m not stick thin and I’m not all muscle. I have curves and stretch marks. I’m heavy chested and am short waisted. And these are things I’ve had to learn to work with and stop fighting against. Things like what that one studio said definitely hurt to hear and it still gets to me. I’m only human and acceptance is a long road. But because of where I am in my practice mentally it is unquestionably possible to push past those comments and to not dwell on it for too long. Now I don’t always feel the urge to desperately need to fix whatever is wrong to someone else’s eyes.(Also- I know from experience that most studios aren’t like the studio mentioned above.)

In fact, I think the most inspiring thing about this whole process, to me, has been how many people have said that seeing someone of a different body type doing what I do has given them the courage to finally be okay with themselves, to try yoga and/or meditation, to let go of the past, or has inspired them to start making healthier choices. I’m truly honored by all of your presences and so proud to know each person that has contacted me regarding this. I honestly never could have imagined the amount of support I’ve received with this life transition or the volume of people that something as simple as a video and honest statement could reach and encourage.

“Inside all of us is hope,fear, and adventure. Inside all of us is a Wild Thing.” Where the Wild Things Are.

 

Namaste

Andie

 

 

 

Hello Starshine; the Earth says Hello

Throughout our lives we are constantly redefining, rediscovering, and relearning who we are. We are in a constant state of change. Ebbing and flowing like the tides- having our highs and our lows. But each time we take small pieces of our old selves with us-like little grains of sand. We may not know what these grains are until something occurs to make us stir the sea again and these little pieces of us re-appear.

My life has fallen apart around me at least 20 times in the 27 years that I’ve been on this Earth and will probably fall apart at least another 30 times. I’ve been in the rip tide of the latest falling for probably about a year now- using all the strength I have to swim with the undertones of the tide. It’s been daunting and exhausting, and simply painful sometimes. But, the beauty of life falling apart is the fact that you do get to build yourself up again. We get to reinvent ourselves using small pieces from each “life” we’ve taken part in. Right now I’m picking up the pieces of the identity that I lost in the whirlwind of relationship compromises, job obligations, and money-based motivations; and despite an aching loneliness for my former life, my heart is overflowing with more love and gratitude than I thought possible.

Only through these heart-wrenching challenges can we grow and develop and become more fully who we were meant to be. As I find myself slowly reaching closure in all forgotten aspects of my soul I have been forced to unlock the closed doors of my core; full of dusty memories and misplaced dreams.

My yoga practice really showed up to heal wounds inflicted through years of betrayal as it’s become sweeter, playful, and more soulful. I often think of yoga as a practice which moves beyond the boundaries of the spoken word. A place where lessons become threads in the strong weave of our own practice. Even within the held space of an asana, we find the dance of the breath, the constant subtleties of tuning that align the body more harmoniously. When we focus our gaze inwards, we begin to invite light into the shadows. We learn to take all our sorrows and our hurt and wrap them in the blanket of our own self-love. And then we learn to be compassionate and to trust the process. Through the darkest nights of your soul, a light shines forth and that light allows us-for a moment- to lay that weight to rest so we can finally begin that new cycle of breath; of life. We may still look the same; just as the ocean. But we are forever changed- forever ebbing and flowing.

 

Mirror Mirror

I had an interesting experience the other day. A friend invited me to her yoga class at the YMCA so I could get a feel for the environment that I’d potentially be working in. As with most Y’s it was noisy, smelled like chlorine (one of my favorite smells), and was muggy. I walked into the multipurpose room and immediately started searching for a spot to place my shoes and bag. It was like a flashback to taking classes at the wellness center at USD. After finding a little corner to store everything I scanned the room looking for a place to set my mat down. The room was rectangle shaped with ballet barres lining the walls on 3 sides and equipment stacked high on the fourth wall. There was room for about 2-3 lines of staggered yoga practitioners. I decided on a spot close to Kelly, the teacher, as the class was starting to fill up and it just seemed natural to go towards the front. I set my mat down and started to take a seat. Then I saw it. How I missed it when I first walked in I still don’t know; but now there it was staring obnoxiously straight back at me- my reflection. I could feel my heart sink into my gut; this is REALLY a lot like the wellness center.

The last time I practiced in a public space surrounded by mirrors was my last semester of college. Ever since then I have subconsciously purposefully avoided them. What I mean here is that I never made the decision to NEVER practice in a space with mirrors. I have just always, without too much though, opted for a choice without them. I don’t mind seeing others moving in the mirror or seeing multiple images through multiple mirrors throughout a room. These things don’t tend to bother me and it’s easy for me to blur them out. But seeing myself- that’s a whole different ballgame. When I practice on my own it’s a very internal practice. I just move and go and flow with whatever my body needs, decides to do, or wants. When I practice in a public space I’ve learned to focus more on the alignment and the dance between breath, muscle, bone, and joint. The one thing I have been fairly good at avoiding in both practices is seeing myself on that superficial level.

However; when you’re literally faced with yourself it becomes rather difficult to not focus on how you look and I don’t mean in an alignment or posture way. I’m talking shallow. You start to ask yourself all of these judgmental questions. How many zits have decided to grace my face today? How long have those circles been under my eyes? Is that really what my hair looks like right now? Why did I decide to wear this shirt- you can see every roll I have. Are my arms really that gross looking in Warrior 2?

It becomes tough to concentrate on you when you’re too fixated on the superficial you. It adds a whole new level to the practice- one that I didn’t think I was truly ready to focus on. The true level of fullness and wholeness. I’m about to get pretty raw here-so bear with me.

Since high school I’ve had a lot of insecurities when it came to the way I looked. It led to some not so great and not so smart choices and life decisions. Slowly over the past couple of years I’ve tried my best not to focus on those insecurities. I’ve learned to thank people for compliments even if I don’t believe them and to ignore the inner monologue going on whenever I’m getting ready for something. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough anymore. This mirror class was more than likely a much needed wake up call to this false reflection I was trying to portray but couldn’t fully buy into.

I made it through the class- even nailed a pose I hadn’t been able to do before. My focus shifted a lot during the class as I desperately wanted to look anywhere but at myself. But as I began to let go of what I was seeing on such a surface level I was able to start breaking apart another wall that was built so long ago. I’m not sure if I’ll be practicing in front of a mirror again any time soon without having a set intention or focus- but this lesson has definitely been heard and acknowledged and will be one I start to focus more and more on. It’s time to truly work on this particular thought process and this little yoga lesson has proved to me that I am ready to.

Not a 9-5er

I’m not a 9-5er. I’ll never enjoy having a social hour around a water cooler, relaying the latest office gossip. I don’t enjoy the office setting; but I find a comfort in structure and routine. I don’t do well with spontaneity; yet some of my best decisions have come from “fuck it” moments. I hate waking up to an alarm clock. I love waking up to my internal clock. Sometimes this makes me a dawn to dusker- or a dawn to dawn person. Some nights I don’t sleep at all. I enjoy heels; but not nearly as much as I enjoy walking around barefoot. On occasion I love to dress up, do my hair, my make-up. I am, what some people would call, a girly girl. I also love getting dirty, off-roading, and every other word I think is usually inappropriate or sarcastic. To some, that makes me a tomboy. I’m artsy, stubborn, tattooed, and love puppies.  I’m the last thing most people think of when you say the word sorority girl. But, for 4.5 years I proudly wore my letters as an active member, and served in several positions. I live for the sounds of the city, the hustle and busyness, and the excitement of exploring new areas. But I crave salt water air blanketed by the gentle warmth of the sand. I enjoy a good glass of wine or a cosmo. I also love a good shot of whiskey. I hate cooking; but when I really concentrate at it I’m actually a pretty fucking awesome cook. I have an anxiety disorder; it makes life incredibly difficult, trying, amazing, and interesting.

There are so many boxes that we try to place ourselves in. But we never truly fit into just one box and I am very tired of trying. At what point do we set aside this cookie cutter illusion we’ve built up and just wing it? At what point is just winging it not enough? It seems as though for some people this method works and for some it doesn’t. Is there something that makes this happen or is it just a roll of the dice? Either way it’s pretty ironic. The main question at the end is…do you take the risk?

Through the Looking Glass: Lessons and Growth

It is officially that time of year where everyone looks back on 2015 and tells you what they did, what went wrong, what went right, what they’re looking forward to, what they’re going to do differently, what new resolutions they are going to try out for about 2 weeks, and so on. After sitting here and really looking back on my year I realized that this particular method doesn’t really serve me. I could sit here and tell you about all of the shitty things that made up the first 8 months of the year and about the amazing things that made up the last 4 months but I’ve already done that (see every blog post from this year!) So instead of a month to month recap why not say fuck it and change it up a bit?!

My birthday is right around the corner and I’ve got a fair amount of earth-time under my belt at this point- along with some battle scars and stories in the shape of eight tattoos. A while back I did a 25 things learned at 25 post. This post is going to be kind of a mix of that and of a recap. I’m not limiting myself to 27 lessons from the last 26 (going on 27) years. I am literally just going for it- but the lessons I chose to write about are ones that have all hit me like a semi in the past 12 months. So, here it goes!

Writing clearly about the chaos brings clarity.

I over-think. I feel too deeply. Sometimes I’m too passionate about something. And sometimes I feel like I have no emotion at all. It’s a recipe for a full head and a confused heart most of the time. But then I start to write. No filter. I obtain lucidity and find healing when I just let myself go for it. So, write the letter you wish you could send to that one person you never got the chance to say good bye or hello or I’m sorry to. Start the sentence you don’t know how to finish. Write what you’re thinking-even if the sentences don’t make sense and the page is blurry from tears, write.

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them” -Einstein

Adulting is hard sometimes.

There will be days you have no idea how to adult. Like- why is health insurance so confusing? What does half of the wording even mean? It’s like they took the English language and decided to combine it with Greek, Mandarin, Italian, and cave drawings. WHAT ARE ALL THESE ACRONYMS? I’m super glad I went through almost 2 decades of schooling to learn absolutely nothing about how to adult. But hey-at least I know that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell because that’s going to be SUPER helpful when I’m filing my taxes as self-employed for the first time.

Seriously though, when you’re a kid, and you do something “wrong”, your parents punish you by putting you in the “naughty corner”. When you’re an adult, there is no naughty corner and the definition of wrong becomes a bit more grey mattered. You get to make decisions for yourself. You get to decide what’s wrong and you have to bear the consequences for yourself. Sometimes we just have to make mistakes and get messy.

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” -Karen Kaiser Clark

 Living with your significant other will either make you stronger or tear you apart.

This was a hard one for me. Living with my ex definitely changed the game. You learn things about that other person you never wished to learn and you learn things about yourself .Some of those are things you wish you could unlearn too. For some, like myself, the relationship may end. Do me a favor-don’t solely blame yourself. If it ends know that you tried and that it was worth the experience.

Breakups are NEVER easy

I had an EXTREMELY messy break up earlier this year and it shattered me. By the end of it I was so torn to pieces, my heart had been shattered, run over, taped slightly back together, and then crumpled into a ball. It hurt to breathe, think, move, plan, dream, and hope. And after all that immense pain settled I became numb, almost catatonic. Then the emotions would hit again and the process would repeat. It was a cruel process. The first few weeks I held myself together and focused on whatever was going on at the time. First it was a trip to Israel, then a presentation for work, then finding roommates. I pushed my attention on to anything that wasn’t going to hurt so much.

Everyone kept asking me how I was handling it so well and if I had cried yet. Truth is-it took me 4 months before I finally broke down and cried. And I mean CRIED. I was moving a dresser from the old guest room so my new roommate could start moving stuff in and as I was trying to move this massive piece of furniture I just kept thinking about how alone I was now and how the last 5 years was for nothing. And the next thing I know- I’m curled up on the guest bed bawling my eyes out, cradling myself in the fetal position. I bawled for a good 20 minutes and then sat there in a state of numbness for another 2 hours. Finally I told myself to just breathe as I got up and texted my neighbor to see if she could help me move the damn dresser.

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” ~ Lao Tzu

Time heals.

It may not heal as fast as you would like, but it heals. Someone you let your guard down for and gave your heart to will treat you like shit and hurt you. It’s not right, but it does happen and heartbreak; well it breaks and it hurts and it sucks royally. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but you won’t always feel THIS broken. Stay strong. Don’t let this destroy your self-confidence. As I mentioned above- I just went through this about 8 months ago now. It still hurts when I look back on everything and I still can’t call him by his name. Right now he is called douche-face (original, I know). But, I’m getting there. Whenever, someone brings him up or it up I don’t cringe as much now and my heart (or what is starting to be pieced back together of my heart) no longer drops into my stomach. Just remember that as time passes you start to heal and these people who break your heart and make you feel worthless- they aren’t worth your time. It really is their loss, and karma really is a huge bitch. You’ll laugh about it later-even if later is 5 years away.

Take the selfie. Ignore the haters. 

I don’t get why people are so against selfies. What’s wrong with thinking you are undeniably worth being looked at and unquestionably worth being seen? Let’s inspire a culture where we’re encouraged to be happy with ourselves. If a girl feels pretty, fucking let her feel pretty!

Everyone is born with a clean, beautiful soul but as we grow it becomes tainted, warped, and we no longer see ourselves in this pure, beautiful way. We’ve all been through some shit and fought our own battles and we should be proud of who we are. Be proud of every freckle, wrinkle, and scar. They’re a part of your story. Don’t let other people’s ideas and views of the “normal” and “beautiful” define you because you’re so much better than that.

“We are all Warriors. Embrace your badassness”- Jennilee Toner

At no age will you ever have your shit together.

I kept wondering when people figure out life and how the heck they did it because I sure as hell can’t figure this thing out. But when we step outside of our comfort zone things seem to always be put into perspective. For me this moment happened when I was sitting on the bus on my way to my yoga teacher training. Someone was talking about how they had to quit their job to come and then we took a poll to see how many people quit their jobs, made an extreme career change, and/or had no idea where they were going/what they were doing after the training. Almost every single person in a group aged from 21 to 40/50 something had their hand raised at some point or another during the poll.

Yes- at my age- everyone seems to be moving on to that next stage in life i.e. getting married or popping out a tiny human. But, there are plenty of others still figuring out who they are, who they want to be, or what color underwear to wear today. So, stop worrying on if you are “doing it right”. You are.

Work hard, stay humble.

Keep working hard. Keep failing. Every failure has made me stronger, smarter, and more focused. So fail, fall, and falter. Then get back up and try until you’ve reached your goals. Once you get there don’t rub it into others’ faces. Instead help others achieve their goals.

 The power of positivity is a real thing.

If you truly believe that something good will happen, it will. Because your good vibes are like gold, and they attract other good things.

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations”- Colleen Saidman Yee

Some friendships aren’t forever.

And even accepting that won’t stop it from stinging when their name comes up. The reality is that forever friends are rare. So, cherish time with friends while you have them as some people are only meant to be part of a few chapters of your story. If you’re lucky enough to find those forever friends- make sure they know how much you love them. And always remember that sometimes those friends that leave come back- even if just for a short while again.

 You don’t need a “Yes Man” friend

It’s great when we have friends who tell us how beautiful and talented we are, but that can’t be the only thing they bring to the table. True friends will call you on your shit, challenge you, inspire you, and won’t allow you to coast personally, professionally, or anything in between. If they just give you a thumbs up all the time, they honestly aren’t real friends.

Say NO to shitty wine.

Life is too short for that shit.

Sometimes things are as bad as they seem.

I’ve noticed that when I’m going through something rough, one of the least helpful things I commonly hear is “nothing is as bad as it seems.” Well, sometimes it is. Sometimes things are the honest to goodness pits. But that’s okay. It’s okay to be incredibly sad or frustrated or overwhelmed. Denying those feelings will accomplish nothing.

 It’s OK not to be OK.

We are all human; we all have emotions, we all have our ups and downs and sometimes, life just gets to us. It’s okay to need a time out. It’s absolutely, 100% okay to surrender to your feelings and have a good old ugly face, snot dripping cry. No one will think any less of you and if they do you don’t need them in your life anyways.

“The hardness of a diamond is part of its usefulness, but its true value is in the light that shines through it. “- BKS Iyengar.

 Meditation helps.

Seriously.

 Travel.

Go anywhere, go everywhere. It’s good for the soul and for the heart. Do it before life gets in the way, or do it precisely because life got in the way… not having a reason is reason enough to travel. Travelling is one thing you can literally spend money on and become richer in life experiences.

 Someday, you’ll be glad you were poor.

We all wish we had more money so we could buy more stuff. Or that we had enough money to pay our obnoxiously overpriced rent bills or car payments. But someday you’ll look back at these 20-somethings days where you lived week by week off of the money you made babysitting and realize that these moments were some of your happiest ones. These were the moments where you truly developed your goals and finally found a path that suits you and your interests. It may seem unconventional and many people will look at you like you’re crazy. Truth is- you probably are- but it’s ok, because all the best people are! (I can say this because I’m one of em) But none of that will matter because in that time you were doing you, living in the moment, and building a sense of gratitude. I can’t wait for it to be someday…

Songs describe exactly where we are throughout the stages of life.

Learn yours, embrace it, shout the lyrics- even if you mess them up or sound like a bad night at karaoke, and have a dance party. Everything is better when you have a dance party. For me, right now, it’s “Live young, die free” by Fletcher.

 Embrace the situation you’re in.

Embrace the good and the bad. It’s okay to feel scared and understandable to feel sorry for yourself sometimes. In the midst of tribulation, negativity and depression can be alluring. Gratitude is a potent tool for snapping yourself out of fear and self-pity. In the moment, it’s empowering to realize that you can handle a challenge. This is a chance to morph, evolve, and adapt. It can be difficult and painful at first, but it means you’re on the path of growth.

“Resist the urge to fidget. Be with yourself as you are without having to change anything.” – Julie Mellk 

Life is fragile, sudden, and shorter than it often seems.

There may not be a tomorrow – not for everyone. Right now, someone on Earth is planning something for tomorrow without realizing they’re going to die today. This is sad but true. So spend your time wisely today and pause long enough to appreciate it. Every moment you get is a gift. Don’t waste time by dwelling on unhappy things. Spend it on things that move you in the direction you want to go.

Your future is spotless.

Regardless of how filthy your past has been, your future is still spotless. Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. One of the very best ways to get beyond past troubles is to concentrate all of your attention and effort on doing something that your future self will thank you for.

“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. “-Rumi

 The right people come into your life at the right times; the wrong people come into your life at the right times.

I know, I know- this doesn’t make any sense at first glance. But it’s so true! The wrong people will always come into your life when you need to learn or grow. We may not like it- but they came in for a reason. The right people will always find a way to you when you truly need them- and half the time we don’t know who those people are until it becomes blatantly obvious to us why they were there in the first place.

“Be patient. Everything comes to you in the right moment.” – Buddha

Be grateful for every moment

Be grateful for every smile, every tear, every fight, every kiss. Be grateful for every dance party, every late night and early morning, and especially for every puppy cuddle and kiss. Be grateful for everything because each moment- no matter how hard or trying; no matter how simple or silly; each moment made you the incredibly beautiful, crazy, complex person that you are. If you need help remembering this- start a gratitude journal. I challenge you to write 5 things you are grateful for every day for a month. I promise you’ll start to see a change in your attitude and in your life.

Imitate the traits of those you admire and respect.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery- but it’s also a way for you to develop the skills and traits you may feel or think need to be worked on. It goes along the lines of the whole fake it til you make it ideology. I’ve had three teachers in the span of 2 months tell me this. If you want to be more confident- think of someone who exudes confidence and delve into why you feel they portray this so well. Then turn around and put it to action! Every time I go on an interview I imitate my best friend because she is the most confident person I have ever known- and most of the time I get a 2nd interview or an offer! Every time I teach a yoga class I imitate 2 women that I respect and admire because they portray the confidence, gracefulness, intellect, calmness, and positivity I want to be able to embody and provide to my students.

Get a dog.

Tell them every secret, every fear, every wish, and every goal. They will be the only being in your life that will never judge you and the only one to undeniably love you (and the cheese you have in the fridge).

Don’t ever settle.

At some point we all reason with our instincts and rationalize desires. Stop it! Stop fighting against the chaos inside your bloodstream that tells you to always seek more. Use this to be more than was ever expected of you for you. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. I stayed in a job that made me miserable for almost 4 years because I started to settle. I knew exactly what I wanted and what type of person I was-but I pushed it all aside because the job I had was safe. When I finally realized how miserable I was making myself I had to take a good long look in the mirror and tell myself to snap the fuck out of it. I had to dig down fairly deep to find myself again and I realized that I was in a place where I could turn life around and stop settling. So- I did.

“Her messy hair is a visible attribute of her stubborn spirit. As she shakes it free, she smiles knowing wild is her favorite color”- J. Iron Word. 

Love is not a one dimensional glass slipper.

As children we’re hypnotized into thinking of love and how to love in such a specific way. But for some of us we love in wild, untamed ways. We do not want the dependency that comes with traditional love or the fairy-tale story that everyone else seems to want. This does not mean you’re incapable of love. You do not have to tone yourself down to a smaller, frailer, more helpless version of yourself in order to love or be loved. Love wild. Love freely. Love untamed.

BREATHE

As humans this should be such a natural thing- but for some reason we constantly forget this. We’re always on the go and never take a moment to catch our breath. I work 2 jobs, teach yoga (for free right now), and am in the process of looking for a 3rd job. My days are crazy and sometimes I think I’m losing my mind. The only thing that keeps me grounded is my yoga practice. I start every morning off with meditation, pranayama, and an asana practice. Sometimes I want an intense, nonstop flow for 15 minutes and other times I want a slow juicy flow to the music practice and sometimes I just do the first two and then go to a class because I just don’t want to have to think that day. Either way the one thing all of these methods have in common is the fact that I take the time to breathe. If you can’t do, don’t do, or don’t want to do any of these then just remember to take 5 minutes to yourself in your day and take several deep breaths.

“You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens”- Mandy Hale

You Are Enough.

Fun story here. When I was at my yoga teacher training we did a Yoga Nidra meditation. During this meditation we were lead to a chest that held a piece of paper with a message on it for us. I kept my message a secret- only telling one person what I got. Two days after I returned home I received an anonymous gift in the mail. It was a bracelet with the saying- You Are Enough. It took me several days to find out who sent me this bracelet. It was a friend in South Dakota. She said that the same day I did the Yoga Nidra meditation she had a strong urge to buy me this particular bracelet. Until today-only one other person knew what was in my chest. Today- I tell whoever is reading this. My message was: You Are Enough.

I have not taken the bracelet off since I got it as a reminder to myself. The day I take it off will be the day I, 100%, without question or wavering thought, can say that I know I am enough. Even if you can’t fully believe it-start telling yourself that you are enough…because you are.

Life has a funny way of slamming us with lessons and providing the right teachers when we need them. We just have to learn to trust and let go.

“Trust the process”- Jennifer Yarro

 With genuine love and gratitude,

A