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

 

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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.

 

Be Proud of How Far You’ve Come

I’ve had a rough year with a lot of downs and not a whole lot of ups. Last night-during one of my insomniatic episodes and anxiety attacks I decided to go through the past 8 years of my life (for me that is 18-26) and really reflect on them.

Today on FaceBook I posted the following status:

In the past 8 years I have moved 7 times, lived in 3 different states,started and finished college, became part of the best sorority, started yoga, got my job, got my license, bought my own car with my own money, photographed 5 weddings and jump started my photography business, was part of two film projects, adopted 2 adorable pups, met my idol-twice, left the states for the first time, travelled to 4 different countries, opened up about my Anxiety disorder and really started to understand it and not let it define me, and honestly so much more. This is what makes me a success- even through all the rough times,health issues,and heartbreak I’ve managed to push ahead. Your turn- what have you done in the last 8 years that you’re proud of?

I kept my post as positive as I could and tried not to list too many of the tough times I had. I wanted to focus on the positive outcomes over the last 8 years. I asked my friends to let me know what they are proud of. All of the responses I received were beautiful in their own way. My friends talked about the struggles they overcame and the positive changes that have happened to them due to some of this chaotic mess we call life.They discussed life events, life changes, and so much more.

I chose to omit the rough patches in my status- not because I didn’t learn or grow from them, not because they didnt change me, or cause me to become strong- but because I wanted people to see that at some point you’ll only remember the outcome and the effect all these crazy events and days provided and that more often than not- the outcome makes you into the most amazing and beautiful version of yourself.

Be proud of how far you’ve come because shit happens, but what you learn and take from it is all that truly matters.

So, what about you? What have you done in the last 8 years that you’re proud of?

Turning off the tape recorder

Ok, I lied. This post is not going to be about what I saw in the photo from my previous post. But don’t worry; I will get to that at some point. However, I just got back from one of my yoga classes and the focus of the class was one that really struck a chord for me.

Every week we focus on a certain chakra and what those chakras control and maintain. This week was about the chakra that controls stubbornness, your will, and your intellect- the Manipura Chakra.

Now, if you know me at all you know that I am very much a Capricorn and this makes me extremely stubborn. Yeah, I admit it. I can be very pigheaded and pretty much always want to believe I’m right. But, sometimes my stubbornness works in my favor- so it’s a good balance. But, what a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am also insanely hard on myself. I have a constant tape recorder going through my head that pretty much tells me I fail at life. Obviously this isn’t true- in fact based on facts alone I’m pretty damn successful. However, this tape recorder jades my view of this. During everyone’s favorite part of yoga (the part where you take a 10 minute cat nap) our instructor guided us through a mantra or meditation type thing. She stated that the only thing holding us back from being the new us and being successful is that stupid little tape recorder. Granted she stated it a bit more eloquently, but you get the point.

This really resonated with me and was kind of a wake up kick to my head. I know that I’ve been told a million times to not listen to the negative thoughts that go through my head on an hourly basis- but I’ve never really felt the push to really work on this idea. I mentioned in a previous post that I saw a therapist (yup- going back to this now). Well, she is one of the biggest advocates for turning off the tape recorder. Until I started seeing her I always half-heartedly followed the advice. But, with her I’ve actually tried (yeah she’s that awesome). Well, I felt and thought that I had tried anyways.

Now that I’m sitting here mulling over the words my yoga instructor stated tonight I realized that this isn’t necessarily true. I did try and truly thought I was making an effort- but, I was still letting my tape recorder control just how much effort I put in and what seemed like enough. This stuff isn’t easy ya know? I realize now that it’s never going to be easy to just brush off the thoughts and negative feelings, but I can’t put half the effort in and expect extraordinary results. I think I have also finally realized that it’s not going to be “all in a day’s work” and that it’s going to take time and a lot of practice.

I’ll probably mess up a few times and I’ll probably grow quite a bit more too. But, I guess that’s kind of the point of everything in life right? My challenge to you this week is to turn (or try to turn) off the tape recorder- even if only for a minute. Take those 60 seconds and realize just how epically amazing and awesome and unique and powerful you are.

Coulda Shoulda Woulda…and Can’t

Ok, so, I’m going to talk about a word I LOVE to use and really need to stop using (according to some people). This word is “can’t”. Out of every word I use on a daily basis this is more than likely one of the over used ones. It’s very difficult and almost near impossible for me to not use the word “can’t” at least 5 times a day.

Most of the time it’s not even true though. I just tend to psych myself out to the point where I am so scared to even try to look at the possible outcomes of whatever situation I’ve gotten myself into and that’s where the coulda shoulda woulda’s come in. I almost always end up kicking myself for second guessing any decision, idea, thought, or for not even trying in general.

So- today- at 10:15 pm EDT I’m going to make a list of what I CAN do. (why do I feel like someone just gasped for air or had to do a double take?) Let me repeat so you know you didn’t read that wrong- I am going to make a list of what I CAN do. Now, this isn’t an easy step for me, so the things on the list may be rather simple or seem silly or pointless. But, for me, it’s a step into not using the word “can’t” as often and it’s a chance to make those coulda,woulda,shoulda’s- can’s, did’s, and shall’s.

I CAN…

walk on two legs

balance on one foot

act…and act well

cook pasta

sing

take awesome photographs

use a computer

provide advice

drive (finally)

do yoga

write…and write well (I hope)

legally drink

smile

do hair

travel

sleep in a home with a bed (and soon with a door and window!)

move with little assistance

make friends

keep friends

be honest

draw

play with my dog

swim and dive

laugh

get a tattoo

and I CAN learn to not think I Can’t.

 

What can you do?

Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy

I don’t know how many people are familiar with the saying, but it’s from the children’s show Magic School Bus. This was one of my favorite shows as a child. The other day I was watching an episode on Netflix with the children I nanny. This saying is in every episode,before every adventure. Ms. Frizzle constantly encourages the children to take chances,make mistakes, and get messy.

I think out of all of life’s lessons this is probably one of the most important and useful lessons one can  try to learn. I also believe that this lesson is never fully learned as it is something you have to practice constantly and will more than likely never master.

As a child we want to explore our surroundings, dig in the dirt, and jump in the puddles. As a teenager we want to explore relationships, test our boundaries, and sometimes we experience heart breaks and the end of friendships. As a young adult we continue the tradition with figuring out what we want to do, going to college or straight into the “real” world, we have deeper relationships and make some bigger mistakes. We turn 21…which is almost always messy!

This cycle is one that constantly repeats and will never fully be learned. It’s just one of those great lessons that is constantly relearned.

Today, at 24, I find myself stating this phrase many times a day for different reasons. I am currently moving and taking a chance on a new living situation. At the same time I am debating going back to school. This decision has been one I have teetered and tottered on for quite some time. I like to play it safe and know my options most of the time. But, sometimes- you have to jump with the blindfold on. No matter how prepared I may think I am I cannot fully know what the next 5 years will hold for me. I just know that when something tugs at your heart for several years…well, it may just be worth taking that chance.

So, once again Ms. Frizzle has been one of the best teachers of life and hopefully she inspires you to take that leap of faith or to at least not second guess a decision you need to make today. It’s ok to get a little messy. 😉