LOST STARS

It’s Saturday night. I’ve been running around doing all the things all day and now I’m sitting in the backseat of a Lyft driver’s car with my ten year old son. We’re on our way to his first big concert, tickets in hand for Lower Level seats for the Maroon 5 show at the Golden One Center. My son has told the driver he’s heading to his first big concert and the driver is now recounting his own first experience. He’s grinning and laughing and telling the story with joy and detail, his voice inflecting, hands gesturing, body relaxed.

And then it hits me.

Someday, this is the story that my son will tell about his first concert. This moment, right now, the story of the two of us in the backseat on the way to this concert. This is part of a core memory moment.


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SPEAK

FIFTH CHAKRA: Vishuddha, the Throat Chakra. The right to speak.

Controls: Thyroid gland.

Archetypes: Positive- The Communicator, Negative- The Silent Child.

Color: Turquoise, as a combination of the fourth chakra (heart, green) and the sixth chakra, (brow, blue).

Qualities: will, communication, creativity, truthfulness, integrity.

Life issues: to harness your will, express your highest truth, to live creatively.

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STORIES

The holidays come with a lot of stories each year.

No, not Santa stories. Not Hanukkah stories. Not even family blooper stories, although all of those do get shared as well.

Instead, it’s the stories I tell myself — I’m not giving my kids enough. I’m giving the kids too much. I don’t give the kids enough consequences. I give them too many consequences. If my kids love their stepmother, it means they love me less, and that I am insufficient and inadequate. If they miss their dad, it means I’m not doing my job well enough. I can’t fully forgive him for the hurt he caused me because he doesn’t forgive me either. He doesn’t deserve to be happy, but I do.

I’m not doing enough, there is more for me to do here, and there, and there, and also there. I am only of value if I am doing something. Nothing I do is ever enough to be excellent.  

I’m too different for the rest of my family to like me. They just don’t get me, and they don’t want to. I’ll never be the kind of normal required to be loved fully by my parents.

Yes. Those stories. Those scripts. Those tapes. Those records.

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THE SOUND OF SILENCE

I want to talk to you about this time I felt stuck. Really stuck. Really down. Really not myself.

Depressed. I would actually classify this thing that happened, that I’m coming out of, as depressed. And that is scary as fuck.

I have lots of reasons why it might have happened. Significant health issues, insomnia, injuries and work limiting access my practice, financial hell, not teaching anymore, not sharing yoga the way I love to share it. The things that I identify myself with, the things that help make me, be me, were not secure.

And even though I am wrapped in love. And even though I have so many things to be grateful for, and even though I am never, ever, ever standing anywhere, at anytime, alone, I felt removed. Not having all my things in place all ultimately resulted in me not showing up powerfully for myself, or for anyone else.

Outside of the things that I do — who am I?

I spent three years in inquiry, three years exploring, three years doing the work and building heat by throwing every available stick in the fire, and then suddenly, I just sat down and stared at the flames. What did I build? Why did I build it? Who is it for? How do I keep it going?

What the fuck do I do now?

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CORE

So last Monday, a week ago, I had surgery to repair an umbilical hernia I’ve been ignoring for the last eight years. Per usual, I thought it would be no big deal. 60 minute surgery, home before noon, likely working again by 1pm.

Only, to no one’s surprise but mine, that’s not exactly how it went down. I was in pain and disoriented for a the better part of last week, and an emotional jack-in-the-box through… well, even today.

It was so much more than I’d bargained for, losing the ability to move from my core.

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sit up without support. I couldn’t reach for things. I couldn’t hug my kids close to me. I couldn’t eat normally and I couldn’t exercise, not even to take  a simple child’s pose. I couldn’t even wear my regular clothes because of the swelling.

Nothing was normal. Nothing worked like I was accustomed to it working.  Nothing felt . . . certain.  

Old stories crept in. Stories of being not enough, not doing enough, being too much of something, or too little of another, or just simply — wrong. I felt completely powerless. Continue reading

FEEL AGAIN

For my whole life, as long as I can remember, in the entire history of “Michelle Does Exercise,” I’ve been drawn to heat.

Fire. Intensity. Sweat.

If I ran, I ran as fast and as far and as often as I could. I’d run a 5k, fly somewhere and run four legs of a 200 mile relay then come home and knock out an obstacle race the next weekend.

If I lifted, I lifted as much as I possibly could, as quickly as I was able to, and with very little aptitude at form. Just do it. Get the weight up. Finish the task. Wipe the sweat. Cover the blisters. Repeat.

If I practiced, I practiced expansively. For every pose offered, I’d go as deep and far as I knew how, and if I didn’t know how, I’d try anyway until I could. I’d suggest others take rest when they practiced, and refuse to offer my own body that same reprieve.

I’d warm up for practice with a workout and chase it with a run. Because… I could? Because it was a storyline I felt safe in repeating.

“I’m tough. I’m strong. I am not a quitter. I got this. Pain is just weakness leaving the body. . .”

Only, actually, pain was my body, telling me when it was weak.

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MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS: THE SECOND EPISODE

It’s that time of year again, uh, again.  You know that one. Where your life’s choices are mocked at the dinner table, your little brother wins the best child award for the 27th year in a row, and you spend a lot of quality time with reinforced lycra.

Or maybe that’s just me. . .

Last year, I wrote the first edition of Merry Fucking Christmas and managed to piss off my own family to the point of social media disownment, and this year, having learned my lesson, I’m going to um, well, to be quite frank,

Give zero fucks and do it again.

Because this is real life people, and telling any other story would be a half-truth. So, in the name of authenticity and good humor, I offer you:  

(STILL) NOT ANOTHER FUCKING CHRISTMAS LETTER

Dear Friends, Family, and People That Don’t Fit In Either Category.

Happy whatever-you’re-celebrating-this-month. Vodka, Gin, Red wine. Whatever floats your. . . spirits. Oh, and Happy all those other real things too. Really. Cheers to celebrating family, blessings, triumphs, heroes, saviors, endurance, and love. Continue reading

Make a Mess

Burned turkey, raw turkey, turkey jerky, turkey in the snow, turkey on the beach, turkey from the store, turkey in Nebraska, and Hawaii.Turkey on a hilltop, turkey in a valley, turkey with my family, and turkey with my fRamily. Turkey for five, turkey for thirty-five, turkey in silence, turkey in jest, turkey served by me, and turkey served to me. Turkey with my ex-husband as he avoided my family, and, tomorrow, turkey with my new husband as he meets them.

So, yeah, I’ve done Thanksgiving a few different ways, in a few different places, with a few different people. It’s very. . . Michelle of me.

However, these three things still hold true— pie, messes, and uh, turkey gratitude. These, I can count on being at the table each year.

And so, in tribute to said symbols of my past, present, and future Novembers, this year, I’d like to focus on the last two, particularly, Continue reading

SOMEONE THAT I USED TO KNOW

Charter schools, ten year old cars, overdue bills, a bustling life in the middle of the city, a network of personal and professional contacts that extends across nearly every state and a few continents, a daily yoga practice, a partner that both humbles and ignites me, writing as a profession and not just therapy, allowing my body to have curvy parts, and a commitment to the constant redefinition of self — these are all things I never believed would be mine.

Miracles. My life has been nothing short of a series of miracles since birth, and it’s only these last three years or so that I understood that.

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LIKE REAL PEOPLE DO

As I write this, it’s now after 10pm. I’m up, working on work projects, sitting on the couch next to my boyfriend while he works on his work projects. In between, in the pause, we’re sipping wine and working on OUR project.

It’s late.

We’re tired.

And happy.

This is becoming a regular thing, the up late and working together bit. We’re building some great things, here, together, in this new space we’ve created. Some really great things, actually.

We’re taking our mutual interests and skillsets to good use, and growing something bigger than each of us. We’re making our own baby. Continue reading