1000 Little Thoughts

IMG_4837I’m going to start this out with a trigger warning…what I’m about to talk about isn’t easy for some people to hear or read. And if you’re family…I’m sorry I kept this from you, but this was  mine to keep and mine to share when I was finally ready.

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about suicide, suicide prevention,  and suicide awareness since the release of the Netflix series “13 reasons why”. I’ve heard some say it glorifies suicide and there is concern as to how “angsty” or “emo” kids and young adults would react. I’ve also heard others say it depicts the true nature of what those who have attempted and who have succeeded possibly feel and would want the world to know. I will tell you right off the bat I have not watched the series and I most likely will not. I am choosing not to watch the series for one reason and that reason is my mental health. I’ve struggled for a really long time to keep myself above water per say and I’m not about to fuck it up over a Netflix series. Am I happy that this type of conversation is beginning to happen? Hell yes…and here’s why:

What I can tell you is that suicide is not meant to be selfish or attention seeking . In fact most people who end up attempting do it usually as an act of desperation. Desperation to finally be free of the haunting words,feelings, and images they constantly see and feel.  Desperation to not feel numb anymore or to finally be able to rest. The desperation to allow the ones you feel you’re hindering to move on and live a better life. It’s blinding and manipulative to the person committing. It’s also the only way out of it all that they can see. People don’t do it to cause suffering. They usually do it to try to end suffering- both theirs and the ones around them that they feel they’ve become a burden to. I’m sure anyone else who has been in the type of situation could tell you multiple other reasons as well. I can only tell you what I know, what I felt.

I think for me it started in 8th grade. I just remember waking up feeling worthless and like I didn’t deserve to be around. I felt like I was a pain in the ass for people to deal with and that I had nothing to give to the world. I was a failure who couldn’t make anyone happy and disappointed everyone. Those feelings just got worse and worse through high school. I knew it wasn’t true. I had hard evidence saying the opposite. But even with all of the evidence I had I could never make myself believe it.

Once I hit college I spiraled. I became closed off and quiet. I didn’t really feel anything. I had given up. The below is part of a passage from an entry I wrote in November 2011- 3 months before my last suicide attempt.

“It’s hard to find a quiet place here. Not even the deepest corners of my mind fall silent anymore. It’s cold out. And in. I feel frigid. The negative seems to have consumed me. I hate it. I hate me. I hate what I am here. I hate who I am here. I feel fragile,dull,tainted- like there’s no purpose for me. I find it odd how fragile my mind is. It seems to shatter like a bottle thrown against a wall. I did that earlier…threw a bottle. I easily break and then tape myself together. I wonder how the trees stay warm. They’ve shed their coats and stand before me naked. If they’re truly alive how do they not freeze to death? If I touch one it feels cold- maybe they hide their pain too. Maybe that’s where the connection is. We both hide ourselves under what we think are layers, but in reality we’ve shed our skins to the point of being naked. Everyone suspects something. I wish I knew what they saw. But honestly my mind is full to the point of knowing nothing. Tomorrow’s just another day of soulless confusion. I can feel my body tingle, begging me to go inside. But I refuse. Just one more moment of silence- away from the nothingness. It’s so loud it drives me crazy. I wish I knew what else to say. There’s always more- but I’m tired of digging. I feel out of place, a thorn is someone’s side or maybe a needle in a haystack. But who really wants to find a needle? Who wants to find me?”

Once you hit that grey area it becomes scary and your options seem limited. 3 months later I attempted twice in one night. But I was lucky because that night someone did want to find me. I was lucky because someone forced me to spit out the pills. That same person fought to hold me down to take the knife away from me as I cried in desperation to just let me die. I was lucky because someone saw me. They saw I needed help but didn’t know how to ask.

Not everyone is lucky. Whether you choose to watch the show or not is up to you. But suicide, awareness, and suicide prevention need to be discussed. They need to be conversations. Those of us in the dark need to be heard- even if we can’t speak. Make sure to take the time to really talk to the people in your life.

I was lucky and because of that I’ve now gone 7 years with no attempts. Everyday I still wake up with the thoughts- those don’t really ever go away. But when I ask myself if I’m worthy, even if I don’t believe it that day, my answer is always yes.

We are all worthy.
You are worthy

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?