GUILTY

Guilt. Today I want to talk about guilt.

Now, before you start packing your bags just sit down and chill; we’re not going on that kind of trip. . . at least not this time.

Today I’m talking about the kind of guilt that is self induced.

The real kind. The ugly kind. The yucky shit.

Bluck.

Ya feeling me?

Stop for just a second, before you read any further. What’s in your head, right now, at this moment, just with the mention of the word? What do you instinctively call to mind?

When I say “guilt,” you say _____?

Got it?

Good.

Now let me ask you these three questions:

  1. Is your guilt helping you?
  2. Is your guilt helping someone else?
  3. Is your guilt generating positive change?

If the answer to any of these is no, and I’ll bet my bottom dollar it is, then well, you know what I’m gonna say here, right?

Let that shit go.

For real.

Because. . . if it’s not serving a positive purpose in your life then why keep it? Guilt is a choice. It’s self imposed. We choose to accept it. So guess what? We can choose not to accept it too.

Yup. True story. We can.

How?

Forgiveness. Acceptance. Change. Release. Integrity.

We can let guilt go right down the chute with our dirty laundry.

Really.

Guilt is the product of expectations, yours, mine and theirs. It can be our bodies natural propriety radar but also, it can eat us up inside. Guilt is is what manifests when we live either in the past or the future; it is stealing from your present. Yes. Stealing. You’re doing it.

Bet you’re already feeling guilty for feeling guilty, aren’t you?

Knock it off.

Check it out- if you already did it, then make amends and peace with it. It’s done. You can’t change it. You can’t make it better. You can only not repeat and not redo, acknowledge, learn from, and move forward.

If haven’t yet done it, but you feel badly about it, then honey, it’s time to make a decision— is it the way you want to live your life or isn’t it? Does it match your values or doesn’t it? Is it worth it or isn’t it? Are you being impeccable with your word or aren’t you?

Pick one, own it, and say farewell to the finger shaking smocked mama hanging out in your head. Turn that negative self talk channel off, right now.

Yes. Yes you can.

Here’s an example:

Earlier today I  felt guilty for going on a work trip on the other side of the continent right before I leave the country. I am missing my last few days with my kids before I go to Africa. I missed my son’s first Little League Practice. I could have taught two more classes at the college. I didn’t teach my 6am yoga class. I didn’t make it to my Wednesday night assist. I missed three networking events.

No, I won’t get this time back. No, my kids will only be this age once. No, I won’t make as much money. No, I don’t get to network with those people.

Boo-fucking-hoo.

You know what I do get to do? I get to bond with my team. I get to experience elite level training that will serve as a catalyst for growth in my life as a mother, an entreprenuer, a team member, and a human being.

After this training, I’ll be a better me.  My kids get a better mom. My work will have improved, my purpose intesified and made clearer. I’ll have cracked open a little more, and I’ll be ready to let in a little more light.

After this training, I’ll be even more full, even more ready, even more excited to be a citizen of this world.

Yeah. I’m gonna call that a win.

So I can choose. I can keep feeling guilty for missing out on stuff back home and let that guilt take away from the opportunity happening right now, or I can own my decision and enjoy every second of the next 48 hours.

I’m picking the latter. I’m gonna roll with option two. Gangster style maybe. Big pimpin’.

Kidding. But not.

Guilt gets me nowhere. Letting go of guilt, well, it gets me everywhere. Literally. Even North Carolina.

I choose to live with integrity. It’s either right or it’s not. It’s either good or it isn’t. I’m either doing it, or I’m fucking not.

The decision is mine. The guilt? There’s no room in my carry-on for that shit, as it turns out.

This is my reality, right here and right now. Mine. I accept it, and all it may bring.

Amen. The end.

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BLOODSTREAM

In case you haven’t heard. . . in about a week I’ll be standing on another continent.

Squeal.

I’ll be on the other side of the world, surrounded by things and people I do not know, have never met, and that will forever change my perception of the world. I will be so far out of my comfort zone that I’ll be smack dab in the middle of it, actually.

I can’t.fucking. wait. to get there.

My journey to Cape Town South Africa March is a seva (selfless service) safari. There I will be a part of a team that will partner up with the Earthchild Project to work with the community and offer training to local youth leaders, empowering them with skill building experiences and employment opportunities.

I am honored to be a part of such a tremendously impactful program. This trip offers us an opportunity to provide service to an area of great need as we use the transformative power of yoga to change lives. I am beyond humbled to be able to participate in such an undertaking.

But not everybody gets that.

I don’t pay for other people’s travel” I have been told, by a family member no less, when I asked about making a contribution to my fundraising campaign (each member of the trip has a commitment to raise $4,000 for the Africa Yoga Project, a number which I am getting ever closer to reaching).

Like people in Africa need yoga” scoffed another.

Ouch.

Clearly there are some misconceptions about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, and also, quite clearly, what exactly yoga is and why people do or don’t “need” it.

I’m not upset with my family or others who share their sentiments. Yoga is not a part of their lives, nor do they wish it to be. However, they voice a concern that I believe held by many:

“what’s the deal with a service trip, anyway? Isn’t that just a way to travel and do a little bit of work while you’re there to make it look good?”

Um. Nope. Not in this case, anyway. Not with this organization.

If you’re a yogi, a traveler, a lover of movements and foundations that generate big, powerful and positive change, it might seem strange to you that someone wouldn’t understand what kind of endeavor this is.

You might, for instance, understand how yoga really does work. You might get how it generates an inner strength and knowing unlike what anything else can. You might know what it means to give someone the gift of the practice, to share and bear witness to the shifting of a soul and that will in turn impact the lives of others a hundredfold.

If you’ve traveled to third world countries you might know what real poverty looks like, and how having job skills and training gives people the tools to get out of it. You might know that when a team of dedicated people come in and put forth an effort to break down barriers by offering their love, support and labor so that they may help to elevate the lives of a community, the world changes, for real and for good.

You might understand why the trip is called “be the light.”

You might have seen the documentaries in which students and teachers involved with the Africa Yoga Project articulate how their lives, and in turn the lives of their family members, radically changed as a result of the work that AYP does. You might even have heard one woman talk about how it literally saved her life.

You might have read how AYP serves over 6,000 people a week at more than 80 locations. You might know that members of a seva safari do things like build schools and playgrounds and help make communities safer, healthier and more peaceful.

So yes, I get to travel. Yes, I get to do yoga. Yes, I think that’s pretty amazing and I’m not here to argue that it doesn’t provide a benefit to me. It most obviously does.

But you know what else I get to do? You know why I’m really going? Because I get to make a difference. A real one. I get to help make the world a better place doing something I love with amazing people, and I get to show my children what it looks like to care about something bigger than me enough to do something.

The mission of the Africa Yoga Project is to educate, empower, elevate, and employ youth from Africa using the transformational practice of yoga. This is not a foundation designed to benefit its founders;  the funds we raise go directly to AYP, where about 30% is used to fund the safari so we can train teachers, free of cost to them, and the remaining 70% goes directly towards AYP programs, projects and manpower.

It’s travel. It’s yoga, but more importantly, it’s work; good work.

This trip— this journey of selfless service— it means something, and not just to me.

Thank you for your support and your contributions, be they financial, physical, emotional or just positive energy and thoughts— they too mean something, and also not just to me.

Together, we are creating something big. Something good. Something beautiful. A yield from which the dividends will never expire.

It seems almost inadequate, and yet at the same perfect then, to say, again,

Namaste.

 

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(You’re) Amazing

You did it. You made it. It’s over.

Oh, I’m talking about Valentine’s Day, just in case you were confused. That silly day we mock celebrate every year, just a short six weeks after Christmas. Another day of over-indulgence, over spending, over committing even, perhaps.

Not for me though. I’ll spare you the cliched “love yourself first” spiel and references to “galentines/palentines day” themed parties.  It’s true, and those are fun, but that’s not my point, at least not this time.

Nor is it to point out that I’m like, hopelessly in love and had a perfect day. Ditto to still being stuck in this place.

Nope, this year, I’m just chill. I’m good. Content with my reality, with my kids, with the people in my life, the places I’m going, the things I’m doing and the pace at which it’s all happening.

For real. I’m super chill. Me. Calm. Centered. Grounded. Happy. Like, really.

My life isn’t perfect, but it’s perfectly unpredictable, perfectly full, perfectly dynamic, perfectly messy, perfectly. . . mine.

I own it, and I like it.

It took me a bit to get here, as I admit, I was up on a super emotional high about three weeks ago then hit a full out crash and burn the succeeding two weeks (can you say adrenal fatigue three times fast?).  That’s always been my cycle, actually. But that’s how it goes, the rhythm of life. You aren’t always up, you aren’t always down, and you rarely stay completely level.

You bounce. You rock. You roll. You ride. You ebb. You flow. You stop. You start. You change.

You— when life gets bumpy—you are changing. High five you.

We don’t change by doing the same thing over and over again, we grow by changing shit up, and you know that.

Fortunately but unfortunately, sometimes this makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes we get excited. Sometimes we get a little. . . uncomforcited even.

Change can be hard. Change can be icky.

Change can be a battlefield as we struggle to generate an outcome which we’re not even certain we want.

What gets us through to the other side though, whether it be a crappy Valentine’s day or the trip of a lifetime, is our response.

We can’t control much else besides our reactions, that much I know to be (painfully) true. Really. For me, besides practicing yoga, when given the opportunity to choose my response (so like, you know, all day every day), I keep coming back to these agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with my word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do my best.

Returning to those, especially when my check ego light comes on,  is like hitting reset. And to make it even simpler, cleaner, more user-friendly, in sum, I come back to our family motto- “Be Amazing.”

That’s it. One phrase. Two words. To the best of my abilities, I want to:

Be. Amazing.

In everything I do. In everything I say. In every memory I create. In everything I am, stand for, represent and support. In every response.  Life is too short to be anything less.

Go. Do. See. Learn. Be, Amazing.

*Sidenote- I had these family necklaces made by my friend Jen Dobson of Alternate Route for the kids and I.  Are they not the most, uh, amazing things ever? 

FullSizeRender (3)

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AS THE RUSH COMES

TO DO:

Get vaccinations done. Call Doctor’s office. Check on passport. Review flight path. Look into international phone plans. Catch up on the news (such as, uh, possibly at least the highlights of the Superbowl. . .). Finish moving into flat, which is upstairs. . . 

Pretend to like stairs. 

Clean old house. Clean new place, again. Find shoes, preferably ones that match.  Remove boxes from mattress so it can be used for its intended purpose.  Go to the chiropractor for an adjustment due to a) sleeping on anything except said cozy rectangular resting platform for the last five days, and b) moving super heavy shit in possibly not such smart ways.   

Pack lunches. Make breakfast. Stop burning dinner. Get kids to school on time(ish). Start teaching new class at new college. Rely exclusively on experience and wit to teach the three already in session. Cover three additional classes this week at the college for a sick colleague. Forget about plans to meet with friend for coffee. Also forget about plans to meet with friends for wine. Start teaching yin yoga at new office.

Paint walls. Hang pictures. Make holes in walls. Fill holes in walls. Use a stuffed turtle as a level while hanging shelves. . . What? It totally worked. That shelf is perfect. . . ly acceptably temporarily installed.

That’s not even half my list for this week. Yes, this week. Not this month, this WEEK.

Oh, and I also get to find ways to generate another $2,500 for the Africa Yoga Project before say. . . March 2nd, because while the fundraiser was AMAZING, we still have a lot of roofs, I mean, uh, funds, to raise before we go.

Yep. Here I go again, life at warp speed. Overdoing it as usual. Nothing like the final quarter to really light a fire under my metaphorical (literal?) ass.

We leave for Africa in less than a month. A month. 26ish days and I’ll be en route on the journey of a lifetime.

And, as I continue to fly by the seat of my pants hour by hour, minute by minute, day by day, I’m also busy reviewing a whole lot of other things— where and with whom I spend my time, what I want to keep and what I’m ready to remove from my plate, what to say in my will, the meaning of life. . .

No really. I’m serious.

A trip like this gives a person a little pause, a reason to reflect, a moment of retrospect.

What is really important to me? What is really meaningful to me? How did I get to be where I am now, who is there with me, and why?

This, if nothing else, is an opportunity to show gratitude to be alive, well, and sharing joy with others.

As it turns out, that just like America’s favorite band, I too get by with a little (okay a lot) of help from my friends.

You help me, help me. You also help me help you. To re-state —in a less Jerry Maguire-esque way— ours is a relationship of reciprocity, mutual empowerment and team effort; it’s a Karmic circle of life.

I’m standing where I am because I’ve done what I’ve done, I knew who I knew, I met who I met, I learned what I learned, I failed what I failed, I made what I made, I chose what I chose, I loved what I loved, and, most importantly,

I reached up, grabbed the hands of those standing there to help me, and I climbed right up and out of the box I had built myself.

I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and I know it. So are you, whether you know it or not.

And (but?) change takes courage; it takes pain, it takes learning, heart and the willingness to see what’s right in front of you, waiting just outside the door.

Want some help getting out of your own walled in space? Guess what? I have two hands, I like heavy lifting and I really love people. Raise your hand, I’ll grab it. Promise.