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

 

Advertisements

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

 

 

 

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.

The C Word

Change- that one word that everyone secretly (or not so secretly) fears is the hot topic for me right now. At this point in life I have a lot more Vitamin “C” than I’d like. My friendships are vastly changing, work is changing, and in about a 6 weeks my location is changing. These are the 3 major C’s going on right now and let me tell you- it has me wrecked! I am not a big fan of change, but I keep finding myself in situations where it’s either needed or occurring.

I no longer really know where I stand friendship wise with over half of my friends. It’s funny when you graduate high school and college you all say you’re going to stay in touch and always see each other when you can. But I’ve noticed over the years that the “when you can part” is usually when *I* can. After some deep thinking work I decided that I was done being the friend that rearranged everything to fit everyone else’s schedule and that I was finally going to start doing things for me. Needless to say by doing this I’ve pretty much isolated myself. I never really knew how many seflish and self centered people I had in my life until this moment and it’s been pretty tough. Granted- there are the select few friends who have made it through this new change- but I find myself with a significantly lower number of people in my corner than I could have ever imagined. Now- I’m not saying I’m perfect. I definitely have my moments where I don’t meet someone because it isn’t convenient at the time- but I’d say about 8 out of 10 times I make sure to see that person. I don’t expect people to drop everything when I want to go have a drink or grab brunch or a night out, but I expect a response back or a rain check that actually happens. So- dealing with the dramatic friendship shift and trying not to fall back into the old ways of being the door mat has become difficult. At times I find myself starting to fall into these old habits and it takes a lot for me to snap myself back. I’m constantly reminding myself that I don’t need selfish people who claim to be friends when it’s convenient for them. This change has me tearing my hair out and banging my head against the wall in boredome on occassion.

With work I’m just trying to stay on the hamster wheel while all these new changes ramp up the speed.

The biggest change right now is most definitely my upcoming move. To keep with the theme of finally doing what I want to do and not letting everyone else dictate my life I’ve decided to move. Everyone who knows me knows that I love New York City- they also know there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that I could actually afford to live there. So- I picked the next best place- New Jersey. Please refrain all of your “New Jersey?! Why?!” comments. I’m so burned out on those questions and the looks I’ve gotten. All I’m going to say is do your research and don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

However- this move is the first big move I’m making as an adult. New townhouse, new people, new area…and moving in with my boyfriend. Now each one of these is pretty much terrifying on their own- combine them together and you have a very anxious girl who hasn’t slept in about a week. I know this move is good for me and I know all of the positives- but all the What If’s just keep dangling in front of my face making this pill very difficult to swallow. I have to say good-bye to a lot of people- including ones I don’t really want to say bye to. And yes- for some it’s just temporary, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

So, with all this change I honestly don’t really know how I’m functioning right now. I have a lot of pent up anxiety at the moment and I’m trying to remember to not let it explode. At this point I pretty much just try not to think about it- which is probably not good because at some point I’m going to have to. ( I think I just heard someone agree with this…) So, with that being said I have to remember to take it day by day and try to remember that I’m doing this all for me and to finally start living the life I want instead of the life everyone else dictated to me. This doesnt mean that I’m not scared or terrified or beyond anxious to the point where I’ve hyperventilated into a bag. It just means that I’m finally starting to understand this whole being an adult thing.

Dear Me

Earlier today one of my best friends and I went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The movie was absolutely amazing- however if you’re like me it hits home and tugs on your adventure strings. After the movies  my friend and I went out for dinner and discussion. As we were discussing how bored I’ve felt with life lately she asked me some pretty tough questions.

These questions are just one of the reasons on why I value my friendship with this particular person. She always pushes me to look outside of my tiny little box and forces me to look at questions I don’t even realize exsist. She asked me why I wasn’t doing what I love to do and I wasn’t pushing and working towards those goals. Then she asked me what my 12 year old self and my 8 year old self would think about who I am today.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure both of them would be fairly disappointed in what they become. I’m not saying I’m this horrible person or that I haven’t accomplished some things. However, my expectations were quite high at those ages and I definitely thought I was pretty invincible. But, somewhere along the way I forgot these things.

My 8 year old self wanted to be a dancer on broadway part time, an actress part time, and then an Egyptologist as well (as I stated…I had high expectations). She was the version of me that was fearless (most of the time). My 8 year old self was the one who jumped onto the rope swing from the highest points and jumped off mid air. She ran through woods and biked without a helmet. And she never listened when someone said “You can’t do it”. She was still creative and loved to play with clay and act…in fact she was a bit of a drama queen.

My 12 year old self ,however, had been through quite a bit of life and had to grow up and act much older due to previous events. She looked before she leaped and she kept quiet most of the time. However, she was still creative. She liked to sing, act, and write. At this stage of the game I knew I was made for bigger cities and people with open minds. I wasn’t quite as fearless, although I had my daring moments.  I still wanted to be an actress, but I was also toying with the idea of writing. I was dying to work for National Geographic and was ridiculously interested in Science and Nature.

If both of these girls were here today it might be hard to see some of these qualities as a few have faded so you can barely see them  while others have disappeared completely. I’m obviously not an actress or working for a magazine. But, most of all, I think they’d be disappointed in how much I second guess myself. I’ve learned to not do it so frequently and am getting a lot better at getting back to my fearless self. Unfortunately- life happens and it teaches us to be concerned and afraid. It teaches us to look both ways before crossing and to watch where we step. But, it also teaches us that life goes on. Every moment connects to a new one and our thread line keeps spinning and spinning. Sometimes it’s ok to take a leap of faith- we just have to know how to judge the moment. But, most of all- Life teaches us that it’s a journey and the clearest path may not always be so easy and the right path may not always be clear. 

I think these past two selves would be disappointed as I did not become what they thought and wanted. However, as they are past selves they haven’t learned the lessons I’ve learned,  taken the paths I’ve taken, built and burned certain bridges, or seen what I’ve seen. Given this knowledge I’d say I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

It may not be perfect and it may not be Broadway, but for now it’s real and solid. Just because right now is now doesn’t mean it’s forever and that’s what I’ll keep telling myself. Because the more I push myself and the harder I work at getting back the positive traits I’ve lost the more I’m learning about who I truly am and what I really enjoy. I’ve taken many risks over the last year and had many adventures. Sure, life right now seems a bit slow and boring- but if we didn’t have those days nothing would ever be exciting.

If I was to write a letter to myself at these ages it would simply state:

Dear Me,

I’m sorry I’m not what you wanted. But that’s ok, because I’m who I need to be right now.

Love,

You

What would your letter say? 

Image