YOU GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM

Last week I got into a debate with a teammate of mine from kickball, over a beer, while watching the Giants in the last inning of the first game of the World Series.

Yes. I’m an adult who plays kickball. No, I’m actually not very good at it. And also, no, I don’t care.

Oh, and (one more) no, we weren’t debating about baseball. Because, hellllooooooo, the Giants were on. And winning. Pretty much nothing to argue about there.

Nope, we were discussing whether or not Mercury was still in retrograde. . .

Yep. At a bar. During the World Series. My kickball teammate and I were discussing astrology. Becuase I’m cool like that. And also because:

  1. My life is ridiculous, but in a good way.
  2. Everything is impermanent.
  3. I sure do say “yes” to a lot of things.
  4. The last twelve months have gone by at lightspeed. No. Wait. Ludicrous speed.
  5. The fact that I thought Mercury was again out of retrograde (yes, I’m admitting I was wrong, add it to the list) shows how very very clear I’ve been getting lately. Finally.

Confused? So was I.

Was. Not am. Was.

Whether you believe it was astrology, coincidence, a fluke, divine intervention, whatever, here’s what I know — February to October was quite a time of change for me, again.

I spent rather large quantities of  time in self reflection. I explored some different career options. I tried a few new schedules (no really, I changed it at least seven times in three months). Hell, I even tried reallllllllllly hard to fall in love with someone else (sidenote- that shit doesn’t work. You can’t force it. It just is what it is. Sidenote #2- duh. Note from the universe- “stop trying to control things Michelle, that’s not your job . . .”).

A bunch of awesome happened. I experienced a lot of growth, a shitload of ambiguity, bucketloads of “I dunno” and put forward a whole lot of effort to manage my reactions to all of that.

No wonder I’m so tired.

However.

How.Ever.

I’m feeling a little bit settled, for once. There is still a lot of unknown, but as a whole, I’ve reached the culmination in my own retrograde, for now at least.

The end result(s)?

  1. I know what I want.
  2. I know (mostly) how to get it.
  3. My break is over. I’m jumping off the rock and swimming again.

Later, rock. Thanks for helping me catch my breath.

How I know it’s time? Because my gut says so, and I’m ready to cease negotiations with it.

Everytime I lean in the direction of my intuition, the universe gives me an assist, a boost, or a fist bump.

Everytime I pull back, resist or oppose, the universe, well, gives me a solid shove in the other direction, usually knocking me on my ass.

So there I was, on the ground, resting on said ass from seven straight weeks of working 12-15 hour days trying to make it all work, doing, well, work, that isn’t aligned with my path.

Well, you know me, I get knocked down, but. . . .

I get up again (insert eye roll here. Or, better, sing it with me).

Well. Ahem. I just got up.

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THE NEXT EPISODE

Yay, it’s Friday. The beginning of my liver’s work week and the end of mine.

Oh wait. No. Nope. Not true.

I work every day.

I also, however, make room to play, somehow. Lately, not enough, actually, but I’m fixing that again, stat.

And, while the balance might not be what it was three months ago, it’s still pretty fucking awesome to be in this place at this time in the story of me.

Sometimes I look at my life now, as compared to my old life, and I just can’t stop shaking my head. I can’t hardly believe what a small domestic and reserved life I lived. I am so surprised to recognize that I spent all that time trying to be something I’m just not.

I can barely even recognize that version of myself.

So much smaller. So many boxes. So many walls. So much ego.

So much fear.

But now, I humbly, gratefully, and fully acknowledge how very little I actually know and how very very much I have left yet ahead of me.

My life is just so.much.better now. All of it.

How? Why? I get asked that question often, actually. And the answer is, partially, becuase I got out of my comfort zone.  I said yes to possiblility and no to limitations.  I refused to settle for less than extraordinary.

Extraordinary doesn’t look like million dollar contracts and the front covers of magazines. Extraordinary doesn’t mean watching the show from the company box. And it doesn’t mean a full bank account, a retirement fund, and a 504 plan.

It looks like having an attitude of gratitude. It looks like some injury. It looks like living as the best version of yourself.

Extraordinary, to me, is finding greatness in every day.

Little moments, seemingly commonplace to many, still light me up inside. Walking my kids two blocks to school in the morning. Mimosas in Midtown for Sunday brunch with my girlfriends. Last minute trips to San Francisco. Meeting a client in the middle of the day in a little cafe tucked between a bike shop and a creperie.

Wine bars.

Using uber. Resale clothing boutiques that sell Anthropolgie. Family style seating at a Farm-to-Table restaurant in Tahoe. Working, beachside, on a Tuesday afternoon. Hamburgers at neighborhood diners. Locally roasted beans at the coffee co-op. Block parties.

Concerts in the park.

Food truck events. Music festivals. Second Saturday art shows. Farmer’s Markets. Themed pub crawls. Yoga studios. Juice bars. Museums. Evening bike rides through the Fabulous Forties. Rain walks and midnight moonlit strolls. Baseball games. Haircuts for my kids at Jimmy’s Barber Garage. 150 year old churches next to glass high rises.

Two degrees of separation.

For most urban dwellers my age, this is normal. For me, this is still fairly novel. And the fact that I can share this all with my children and my friends just blows my mind.

Most days.

I catch myself though, starting to take it for granted. It’s becoming commonplace for me, which is, in an of itself, almost unreal.

My new normal is what I used to watch others do, and I truly believed I couldn’t have it.

But I can. I did. I do. 

Consider, for example, this comparison.

Five years ago a fall Saturday would have consisted of some version or combination of the following: a run pushing a double stroller with two whining kids, a breakfast that took an hour to make, three minutes to eat, and thirty to clean, four loads of laundry, two hours of housecleaning (just for the bottom story), lunch from Costco while we shopped, an hour or so working in my classroom (unpaid), some pumpkin something-or-other outing, craft, or double-feature, a failed attempt at naptime, three time-outs while I tried to cook dinner, an hour getting the kids ready for bed, and then ending my night on the couch with a cup of tea and four hours of DVR’d shows while my husband, who had been gone since 6am and come home after the kids were asleep, played video games in the dark in another room.

Ew. Bluck. Shake that off.

Now consider my Saturday two weeks ago:

Breakfast was fast, healthy and good. I took the kids with me while I taught yoga on a farm about 15 miles away, then came home and we walked seven blocks to the public library to make some pirate hats and eye patches. Argh. Next up, a free 2+ mile scavenger hunt wearing said urban pirate attire around the city looking for clues left by the librarian. This was followed by coffee and lunch at a hipster cafe while I planned an African Yoga Project fundraising event with my friend and project partner. From there, we went straight to a costume exchange party at a neighbors house. And then, just to make the day even more awesome, the kids went to a sleepover with their besties and I zipped off to a black tie cocktail party to celebrate a friends 40th Birthday.

That was all in one day. And, with the exclusion of the rural(ish) yoga, it all occured within 20 blocks of my house.

Ummmmmm.

I cannot possibly feel any more lucky to live here and now than I do right at this moment. For real.

I have found a way to enjoy every bit of getting to know myself, this world, and the people in it that I can. And I’m still not done. There is so much more to discover. So many more opportunities left. The momentum just keeps growing.

My life keeps expanding because I continue to allow it to do so.

It is unlikely this will be my home forever. Things change. My work and events in my life are likely to take me to new places, and probably soon.

It’s going to be amazing, every single bit.

Along the way, I hope I never stop being in awe of, and in love with, this life, this gift from the universe.

Everything you want is already yours. You can have it. You can do it. It can be your life. If you want it to be.

Stop waiting for Friday. Go. Live. Explore. Be. Grow.

IMG_7899

CTFD Christmas, anyone?

Okay, I’m gonna make this short and sweet, but here’s the Down Low:

THE FACTS

1- I’m ready to lead a CTFD retreat that will include:

  • Two yoga practices a day (1 power vinyasa, 1 yin)
  • One meditation session a day
  • One daily excursion
  • One daily group workshop with yours truly on purpose, vision, goal setting and maximizing your potential
  • One, one hour individual session with me (again) to work through your shit and empower you to be the best version of yourself.
  • Amazing food
  • Amazing people
  • Amazing beaches

2- I would like to make the first one happen during Christmas this year- December 23- 30, to be exact. Yes, I am totally avoiding being home planning something epic for this year when I don’t have my kids for the holidays for the first time ever, why do you ask?

3- I anticipate this costing about $2,500 a person, plus airfare.

4- I’m a bit behind the eight ball in organizing this, but. . .  I’m trusting the universe that I will find the perfect location and enough people to make the trip happen. Costa Rica is the first choice.

5- I want you to come with me!!!!

So, if you are interested, let me know. Send me an e-mail, message me on facebook or comment below, and let’s make this shit happen.

 

 

HURTS SO GOOD

Yesterday one of my most favorite yoga teachers looked at me, saw the large raw burns on my shoulder (from a homemade spaghetti sauce explosion this weekend), and jokingly said:

you are always getting injured. . . I’m sorry to laugh, but it’s kind of funny.”

She’s right. I am.

She’s also right that it’s kind of funny, in a satirical sort of way.

I actually cannot recall a single time period in my life when I didn’t have a blister, a bruise, a scratch, callouses on my hands, a pulled muscle, a bulging disc, etc… My body is basically never ever fully healed. No really. Never.

Funny thing, neither is my ego. Or my life.

When I complete a self examination, physical injury aside, I’m also fairly regularly “injuring” myself on the inside too.

Ouch.

While to a certain extent I have my tough girl act pretty dialed in, I’m at the same time quite willing to be vulnerable. I am genuine in how I show up, articulate about my shortcomings, my feelings, my wants, and my needs. Thereby, the exposition of the internal components that collectively create my being often results in the laceration of my psyche, the wounding of my heart, the scarring of my soul.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is living authentically, and I like it.

Another yoga teacher, from the same studio, and for which I have mass quantities of starstruck fear respect said to me this summer, “Michelle, you are harder on yourself than anyone I know.”

Well, clearly she hasn’t met the rest of my family, but also, she’s right about the being hard on myself part; I am, no question.

If I’m not operating at lightspeed, if I’m not pushing myself to my edge, if I’m not jumping up and down to rise to the bar I set ever so high for myself (or at least re-evaluating its position), I’m not being me.

Testing my boundaries, is, and always has been, my thing. Even if that means I touch the fence and get zapped. Even if that means I get stuck halfway through the tunnel. Even if I get my foot (or my fingers) caught in the closing door.

But especially though, if it means I get to drive those boundaries way, way, way out and expand my life.

I love that shit.

I push my limits. I get out of my comfort zone. I play with fire, and um, I get burned. Knowingly.

Because I find gain from the pain, to be cliché. I grow, and open, from the breaking. I find strength from hurt. I learn in response to failure. And it’s fabulous.

Think about this for a minute — how often do you see an athlete without tape, ice, heat packs, or some other kind of restorative treatment happening somewhere on their bodies?

Not often. Maybe never.

Athletes don’t get stronger by lifting pebbles. They don’t get faster by sitting on the bench. They don’t become more agile and adept by watching the rest of the team play.

They become better by working. By trying. By testing. By engaging. And by intentionally placing themselves directly in the seat of discomfort over, and over, and over again.

Well, I can certainly relate to an athletic metaphor, on all accounts, and while there may be safety in staying on the sidelines, being a spectator in the sport of my life isn’t in my game plan.

I’m the star player in my life, on my field, during my time on stage. And you know what? Players get hurt, often.

So to clear things up, because several of you have asked if “I’m okay,” to which my answer is “No, I’m not okay, I’m AWESOME,” and your reply is somewhat of an eye roll (yes, I saw that, even over the phone and through e-mail. I’ve got mad skillzzz like that), let me assure you that yes, as usual, I’m injured, but I got this.

I’m FINE.

I’m, as yet another yoga teacher shared, Fucked up, Irrational, Neurotic and Emotional.

Yippee!

No really. I like it.

I’m still working too much. I still feel regularly inadequate as a mother. I still feel occasional bouts of sadness, frustration or anger about some things with which I haven’t quite gotten my shit together. I am still dealing with the realization of the lack of control I have over what goes on in the other household in which my children now have part-time residence and how that impacts them, and me. I’m still in love with a man who doesn’t want to love me back. I still haven’t fully transitioned my work and play life back to where I want it to be (but I’m SO close).

I’m still learning to CTFD. I will be for my whole life.

Perfection doesn’t exist. While I find moments of equanimity in my life, there are lots more where it’s imbalanced. For every load I remove, there will be another waiting to take its place. It’s like laundry, it’s never done.

But it’s worth it. All of it.

In between the strain lies the beauty. The miracles. The pleasure. To every negative there are at least double the positives. Good always trumps evil.

Happy wins every time.

The joy is in the learning, in the process, in the struggle. Magic is happening, all the time, in every nook and cranny, every play in the book.

I’m appreciating it. I’m tired. I’m sore. But I’m grateful and I’m growing.

I will always be injured, and I’m good with that.  

SOMETIMES I LISTEN

So, I’ve been going along here, full speed ahead. 13-15 hour work days almost seven days a week. Getting my shit done. Saying “yes” to everything. Saying “no” to very, very, very little.

It’s been awesome. Amazing. Fan.Fucking.Tastic.

Things like this have happened:

  1. My yoga classes are growing, some even doubling in size.
  2. My writing is growing, I have more assignments and clients.
  3. My business plan is progressing and my website is getting updated to reflect it.
  4. I have two evenings a week to myself now, every week, to handle my shit sans kids and I make sure to use every.single.minute of that time. No seriously, if I’m not working up until midnight those nights it’s a fucking miracle.
  5. I almost fell asleep on top of the table at a training on Tuesday

Did you see number five there?

Yeah, about that. . .

There is a yoga axiom “exercise and rest are essential for human health.” Guess which part I choose to follow?

Here’s a hint. It starts and ends with the same letter. . .

So. . . rest. It’s just not my thing.

Even when it maybe, um, should be.

You know that whole Reticular Activation System deal I’ve talked about before, where basically, once you become aware of something the more often you see it, when you never did before? The more often you notice it, everywhere, all the time?

Guess what keeps showing up in my life this week?

Articles about resting. Astrology reports about the new moon and Mercury being in retrograde or some shit and how savasana is actually the best pose to take right now, and not, in fact, balancing half-moon.

And then there’s all those research reports showing the importance of quality sleep. Friends who whisper shout things at me during yoga like “MICHELLE! YOUR RIBS. REMEMBER YOUR RIBS AND JUST LIE DOWN ALREADY!”

Ummmmmm. Thanks but no thanks?

But today I listened.

Today I reconsidered what I was saying “yes” to as I drove (way over the speed limit) to work, running late (again) to a job site thirty miles away. My mind, though, was going even faster than the wheels of my mamamobile, if you can believe that. I wasn’t present. My shoulders were hunching. I was kind of sort of, well, here, actually.

And then I spilled an entire cup of hot coffee all over me, and the car. Then I remembered that the person who picks up the kids on Fridays while I’m teaching is out of town. Then my friend texted me, asking where the keys were that I was supposed to have dropped off that morning. Then two e-mails popped up asking when the Press Releases I’d promised to get out asap would be ready. Oh, and just to throw salt in the wound, my calendar alert setting let me know that I was late for the TB test reading for the TB test I was supposed to have done Wednesday (but didn’t).

I looked down at my wet, coffee covered skirt, wiped the creamy brown streaks off my calves, pulled off the freeway and turned my ass around.

Fuck it.

I hear you universe.

That work+Me+Today=Not happening.

Namaste? Nope. Namago (nah-mah-go), actually.

There’s a reason I have personal days available.

Today, I need a day to check in with my person, apparently, because otherwise she’s going to show up to teach, a literal hot mess and smelling like eau’de café for the next four hours while she pretends that she is fully aware and present in lesson delivery and that the ujjayi breathing she’s doing to keep her shit together isn’t actually freaking out the children.

Yes, universe. Yes. I will go home. I will rest. No really. I will.

Actually, I’m going to take a nap now. Yep. A nap. Me. In the middle of the day. Such a rule breaker.

I’m taking twenty. And then I’ll get (the rest of) that work done. After I care for me. Not before. After.

I’m saying “yes” to rest today. Real rest. No exercise. Rest.

Peace out friends. May you find a place to take pause today as well, even if just for a minute.