Recovery Reflections

 

It’s been a month since I had to have surgery to have a 13cm cyst removed. What should have just been a cystectomy ended with a unilateral oophorectomy as the giant cyst managed to kill my left ovary making the recovery process a bit more intense than it originally should have been. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the recovery process- like way too much time. I’m honestly kind of horrible at being a couch potato so I tried to keep myself sane while I (not so)patiently waited for my post op date. Trust me…that was not easy.

Everything I do on the daily amplifies just how go go go I am and to all of a sudden have to come to a sudden halt- yeah, that didn’t go over so well. It took my mom and several friends constantly reminding me that I could not push things or force myself to heal faster to really listen and slow it down. The first week after surgery was definitely the hardest physically; I could barely walk and couldn’t even stand up straight. Just trying to hold myself up was obnoxiously painful and honestly in some ways a little defeating. It took me 20 minutes to walk what would have normally taken me 5 and the idea of not having something to lean on was completely terrifying for those first few days after surgery. Trying to get myself up after resting would take all of my energy and half the time I needed help or would end up in tears from the pain.

I’m so beyond grateful that the physical hurdles I faced during that first week were temporary because I know there are people out there that have trouble walking or standing or getting up without assistance on a daily basis. Those people take a little longer to do things; they need some extra time and patience. I’ve tried to be a lot more aware of situations like this now whether it be being behind someone grabbing a cart at the grocery store or holding the door a few extra moments for another. After living in those shoes for just a week it’s engrained in me how even strangers can make you feel so small and annoying in one brief encounter. For that first week anytime I was around other people I could feel them staring at me as I inched my way through a store or down a sidewalk. I constantly felt the judgments and annoyed groans I received when someone got “stuck” behind me. It didn’t feel good. It made me feel weak and small and like a burden and no one- surgery or not- should ever feel like that. So, I encourage everyone to really be aware of their mindset when they’re walking past or behind someone that’s clearly struggling. Be patient. Be kind.

These past several weeks following that first one have been hard in a whole different way. As my body has started to feel better and more mobile I’ve had to deal with the urge to want to do more. I’m a very on the go person and being on pause from my day to day busyness has been exceptionally difficult. Every part of me has wanted to jump right back in to exactly where I left off. But it’s taken me this time to realize that where I left off was with a completely different body than the one I have now. My old body was hurting immensely but it was strong. So strong in fact that I would have never realized how big that cyst inside of me was and how much internal damage it had done and was doing without the MRI and the ultrasounds. My body told me in different ways that something was wrong but it also fought strongly for months.

This new body is one that’s not necessarily wiped clean- but it’s different. It doesn’t feel like me yet and quite frankly I’m not sure it ever will. There are empty spaces inside of me where tissues once lived and died. There’s a mass hole where a 13cm cyst lived for God knows how long. My insides are trying to rewire and adapt to their new environment. My physical therapist said it best- this is a completely restructured body that now has to learn to work and be cohesive with organs being shifted and muscles being changed and redeveloped. Things are constantly shifting and healing and with every shift I  feel different. I find myself freaking out several times a day as something new occurs and I continuously have to remind myself that I know my body- even though it’s different; even though it’s changing and doesn’t feel like I feel…it’s still me.

I lost almost 3 decades worth of core work due to this surgery. So, for the first time in a very long time my abdominal muscles are taking a (more than deserved) break, healing; glueing themselves back together little by little. And as much as I want to jump right back in to everything I know I have to take those baby steps again. I have to retrain my core, redevelop the muscle as it heals slowly and mindfully; being respectful of my body’s capacity to move on past something so physically traumatic.

I’m not saying it’s easy just because I know it has to be done or that this hasn’t come without push back because trust me…I’ll be the first to admit that I have fought this part the hardest. Being patient, especially with myself, doesn’t come easily and I find myself constantly reminding myself that it’s still early in the recovery and that my body is older and this trauma is different. I won’t heal the same way because the parts of me I relied on to heal from previous traumas are the parts that need to heal this time. Some days I hit great physical milestones like standing for more than 2 hours without pain or driving an hour and other days my victories are smaller or more internal like having one less negative thought about how the  healing process is going. But every day has a victory.

The final thing that I’ve really delved into during this process was the one thing I didn’t think I would need to really acknowledge or hold space for (until I found myself having a complete emotional breakdown…in a parking garage…on a random bench…). Losing an ovary has shed some deep light onto my personal beliefs. I always figured I wouldn’t have kids. I adore working with my kiddos but I absolutely love the fact that I get to give them back at the end of the day and that I only spend 20 hours a week with them. In my head that meant that I just wasn’t going to do the mom thing- just the teacher thing. But knowing that my chances for a viable pregnancy were already close to less than 50% with two ovaries due to my autoimmune disease played much more of a key role in that thought process than I originally thought.

They say you can live easily with one ovary and that it picks up the slack of the other but having one less ovary in a body already low on baby making juice…well the outlook there looks rather grim. I’m not saying that all of a sudden because I more than likely can’t that I now have this crazy desire to have a baby. That answer is still a strong and hard NO THANKS. I’m still sticking to my I’d rather be the teacher than the parent deal. As a woman though losing an ovary almost felt like I was losing my ability to be considered a woman. Yes, i know that sounds silly but here’s the deal. Women’s bodies are the only human body that can create a human life and sustain a growing human being inside of it. And losing something so critical to that process- it made me feel like I failed the whole being a woman thing. Somehow because I now don’t have two fully functional ovaries I’m unworthy in some way.

Maybe that’s societal norms and peer pressure doing its dirty work but i spent a bit of time feeling less than. Because I felt less than in this part i started to feel like I was less than in other parts of my life. It all become one huge mental mind fuck and it wasn’t until I sat on that bench tears flooding out like a damn tsunami, too hysterical to even make it to my car that I realized these feelings were there and bubbling over. Honestly thank the heavens or the Gods or the universe for my dance family because they helped me pull through that storm of emotions and reminded me yet again of how strong I really am and how much healing still has to be done. But knowing that I have them supporting me- it made moving forward a little easier.

I feel like I can finally fully mourn what I’ve lost and appreciate what I still can gain from this. This whole process has given me the pathway to truly be ok with what’s happened, my decisions regarding it all, and guided me to a stronger and better understanding of why I’ve felt this way for so long. Maybe someday,if some part of me truly desires a child, I’ll look into my alternative options, but for now my family will just have to be ok with 4 legged grandchildren. And for now, I’ll continue to enjoy my big and little victories as I continue to move through this recovery.

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Yellow Nice to Meet You

2017 has been a hard year full of a lot of lessons, pain, and heartbreak. I lost 3 dogs and my Godson, was in a major car accident, injured my back, and had a setback with my autoimmune disease. But this year was also filled with a lot of travel and new opportunities. I was able to take more trainings, learn new ways to teach, roadtrip multiple times, explore Europe, get a new tattoo, and travel with one of my best friends.  I’ve learned a lot about myself this year and even though I’m very happy to see it coming to an end I appreciate what the year has shown me. Here are just some of the lessons from 2017.

You are not required to like everyone.

 You don’t even have to have a reason for not liking them. Not liking someone or not wanting them in your life does not make you a bad person.

You’re going to lose a lot of friends in your 20’s, but you’ll find the ones that will stick with you for life.

As you start to really come into your own you’ll find you have a lower tolerance for bullshit and fake friends and “when it works for them” friends. Some of the people you’ll lose you may really be sad to lose-but overall you’ll be better off-even in the moments where you miss their craziness.

Love isn’t everything.

It’s great, sure- but it’s not the end all be all. You can be a whole person even without being in love. In fact you SHOULD be a whole person whether or not you’re in love.

 If you want to eat it, just fucking eat it.

What you put into your body is your business. If you want to eat a mozzarella ball like a damn apple, have at it. But like, also eat green things now and then. You can even put mozzarella on it! Practicing moderation is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.

You’re probably not as weird as you think.

Literally everyone is fucking bizarre. You’re probably just as normal as them…maybe a little weirder, maybe a little less weird. Just embrace the weird.

Read the fine print

 Read your terms and conditions, your contracts, your rental agreements, read the tiny little lines under the fine print, etc. BEFORE you sign or agree to anything. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble and potential embarrassment should something happen and you could potentially save yourself some money if you have to relay back to that information.

 Allow yourself to have a European adventure (or some other place) and maybe a side of romance too.

Oh! And bring the friend that’s going to push you outside of your comfort zone along. Trust me- it will lead to some pretty epic stories.

Don’t look for people to fix you, look for people who will stand beside you as you fix yourself.

You don’t need people to tell you that you need to be fixed or to try and do it for you. You need people who will be there to hand you the pieces or the hammer or a screwdriver (cocktail variation accepted). You need the people that give you space when needed, but know when you need a good shove in the ass and a night out. You don’t need someone to hold your hand unless you’re on a metaphorical tightrope (or a real one I suppose) and are losing your balance. Make sure the people you surround yourself with are the ones that don’t try to control you or manipulate you-but allow you to make decisions (even the dumb ones). That’s how you learn.

Forgiving someone is not weakness; hating them is.

It’s okay to sleep in sometimes!

Caffeine doesn’t always cut it. In a world that never shuts off, it’s okay to take some extra time to catch up on sleep. Your body and brain will thank you for it.

Take all the pictures you possibly can

You never know when the last moment will be. Allow yourself to document anything and everything that made you smile or laugh, feel good.

Loss is ridiculously painful

It hurts beyond words and it never makes sense and it feels like the world is ending. And in a way the world has ended-it’s not the same world that you knew. Don’t try to ball up the pain. Let it come out in a healthy form that helps you.

Being a Godmother is nothing like in Cinderella.

 It’s surreal and slightly scary knowing that you may potentially inherit a tiny human. But it’s also the greatest feeling in the world to know that someone has that much faith in you that they would trust you to raise and care for the most precious human in their life.

Even bad years have a reason

The harder years show you who you really are and how far you’ve come and how far you have yet to go. They fucking suck ass, but they teach you so much about yourself.

 Having an incurable autoimmune disease is not a death sentence it’s a wake-up call.

When I first got my diagnosis I was only able to look at the nail in the coffin. Two years and 3 intense treatments later I’ve come to realize that being sick doesn’t mean I have to be sick. It means I need to appreciate the life I have and am creating. I’ve taken this time to do things I never thought I’d do again like go back into ballet.

Your body is going to change.

My almost 29 year old body is nothing like the 22, 24, or even 27 year old body I had. This body aches a little more and is in pain a bit more often than it used to be. It doesn’t bend as much now and I don’t contort like I used to. But this current body has a lot of new battle scars and even when it’s achy or tired I know it’s strong.

Cherish your challenges.

This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. When my life looked far from happy, I thought that it wasn’t fair that I had to experience so many difficulties. I wished that I would wake up one day and problems would just disappear. But the more I hoped for having a magic wand, the tenser my challenges have felt. Now I understand that sometimes the shortest way is to walk through the fire and stay open. Don’t close your eyes. Look around and see what the challenges are meant to teach you.

 Very few people truly know what they’re doing in life.

It’s an illusion that most people have life figured out. If you sat down and really talked to people at any age, you’ll discover they’re just as insecure or unsure of themselves as you feel.

 Fake it till you make it.

If you don’t know how to do it – learn it. We’re all capable of learning as we go. Be confident in your mistakes and in your growths.

Do things alone.

Go to that movie alone, eat at that restaurant by yourself – doing things alone helps make you feel more comfortable with yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company.

 Be with yourself as you are without having to change anything.

The first time I heard this was a couple of years ago in a yoga class. It’s one of only a handful of phrases to stick with me from a class. We spend so much time trying to force ourselves to be different or better or skinnier or faster or smarter. We never just take the time to pause and be with ourselves the way we are right now. I’m not saying don’t continue to work toward your goals. But take a moment to make sure they haven’t changed or to verify that you aren’t there yet. Take a moment to appreciate you for you and to just be.

 Talk to people when you’re unsure or feel alone.

There were so many time this year where I felt like I just didn’t know if I was making good choices. I knew they were the right choices for me- but it seemed like everyone else was going the other way. I questioned everything- especially my teaching style. I was having auditions that seemed to go great- amazing feedback from students and teachers and potential employers. But then I wouldn’t hear back or the place would go with a teacher who taught fancy party tricks. It made me question whether people wanted yoga or if they wanted cirque de soleil. And usually right around the time I would feel like giving up I would talk to someone or someone would talk to me and I realized I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only teacher out there who found these fancy poses dangerous or unrealistic. I wasn’t the only one teaching in a different way or feeling out of place.

Trust yourself enough to fall.

You won’t break. You are more resilient than you think.

Believe in the beauty of your own words.

 A blank Word document, an empty journal, or that notebook you bought for your own poetry. Type. Write. Scribble. Press backspace or crumple up drafts if you need to. Just don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard

 Society isn’t in charge of your happiness

I’m about to be 29 and I’m not married and I don’t have babies. I don’t have a steady 9-5 and I freelance to make a living. Society looks at this sometimes and raises an eyebrow. What they fail to consider is that they’re not in charge of my happiness and well being. I am.  I’m not married because it isn’t something that I need to do to feel whole. But do I let it define the progress and realness of my relationships? Absolutely not. The same applies for kids.

When I decided to quit corporate, society’s fears were projected on to me time and time again: How would I afford my rent? What about health insurance? How would I get steady work?

The fact of the matter is that if you want it bad enough, you’ll figure it out. It’s as simple as that.

 

Our lives are a series of events.

Events that change us, challenge us,break us, heal us. Events that cause chain reactions and explosions. Some of us face abuse, divorce, death. Some of us face fame, success, popularity. Some of us face everything in between. Each with their own lesson, their own darkness, their own beauty. Every event creates a part of us and destroys another. Constantly building ourselves to the person we are in this exact moment. As humans we try to protect ourselves. We look too far forward or stay stuck in the past- guarded and shielded. What I’ve come to learn is that we have to experience the now. We have to shed the layers, allow old wounds to heal, embrace who we are, and allow change to happen when it needs to. It’s never easy. Life is never easy. That’s what makes it exciting. ..

XO,

Andie

 

2017

Veni Vidi Amavi                 

Veni Vidi Amavi 

    We came. We Saw. We Loved. 

 

I’ve been back in the states for a couple of days now and as always after travel I find myself reevaluating where I am and where I want to be. This trip was so much different and wonderful than I could have ever hoped for. I found out so much more about myself than I ever could have imagined. 

 

I haven’t been out of the country since my autoimmune disease diagnosis. I needed time to understand it and get to a place where my body and my mind were strong enough to handle lengthy trips again. I was beyond nervous as I had been having a horrible flare up for several weeks before leaving and didn’t know if the doctors would clear me. I barely scraped by with clearance just a day before I was supposed to leave. There were times during the trip where I could feel my body aching and tiring too quickly but overall I felt more like myself than ever. I won’t say my old self though because that self was broken, confused, and very lost. I’ve never been ashamed of where I’ve been or who I’ve been…it’s all a part of me and a part of my story and I appreciate those parts the most as they helped me claw my way out of the little shell I had glued and stapled myself into. This trip managed to rip off the small remnants that were still bandaged on. 

 

Brussels forced me out of comfort zone like no other trip ever had. It provided a feeling of liberation as I learned to fly by the seat of my pants again and to not be afraid of what comes next. There was no plan- a very not me move. Every day brought on a new adventure with different twists and turns that I could have never anticipated. I had the most resistance with Brussels as it was so far out of my comfort zone and with that I found more freedom and the ability to resolve my emotions. 

 

Dublin captivated me. I was in awe at the beauty of the cliffs of Moher and the ruins of the Rock Cashel. The stunning grounds of Blarney found the magical spark I thought had gone out long ago as the history flooded through every tree and rock. The streets of Dublin and the swans captured my heart in a way I don’t think I will ever be able to fully describe as I lived out the perfect movie scene day after day.

London reminded me just how connected we all are. We were all so different, but together we blended into the most imperfect mesh of culture, society, and humanity. I got to be Alice, meet the more sophisticated London version of me, conquer fears, get tattooed, and eat foods from all over. London, most of all, felt like home. Some city, some art, and the ease of walking around a place that seemed so familiar yet very new. 

 

And I got to do it all with my best friend by my side as she kept me wild and I kept her safe. 

 

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

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.