May 2015 archive

Happy Birthday

Today is my dad’s birthday.
This date, 5-27, has come up in my life over and over again. It always tickles me when I see it or hear it. Such a weird, uncommon series of numbers to hear so regularly.
He died suddenly in 1988 when I was 7. I still talk to him all the time, though.
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And this is my favorite picture of him because I remember seeing my hand on the back of that chair. At least, that’s why I saved that picture and framed it when I was in high school. Truth is, I only remember remembering that now.
I do remember other things like his great big laugh and his incredibly aggravated utterance of, “Soooon ooooof uuuuuuuuh bitch,” under his breath. He was a man of extremes.

Anyway, happy birthday, Dad. Love you miss you.

Oh $hit. I’ve Missed It.

The first three days of my kundalini yoga retreat were PRETTY incredible. And…exhausting. So Thursday morning I decided to skip sunrise yoga and sleep ALLLLLL the way until 7:30!!!! I got up to get dressed for breakfast and realized, OH! I could go eat in my jammies! 
And I did.

Each day of the retreat followed a different theme. The themes weren’t there to accomplish something or set goals; just to get us thinking. Thursday’s theme was “Going with the Flow of Life.” We talked about going with the flow requires being in the present moment of life: no past or present mind-wandering allowed. Sat Siri, our teacher, told us of a story of a study done over tens of years recording the last words of people who knew they were about to die. There were many variations of the “last words”, but they all sounded something like this:

Oh shit. I’ve missed it. 

How often have you spent your early morning shower in your 10:00am morning meeting? Or making dinner while thinking about how much money is in your bank account? That is to say…how often are you doing one thing but your brain is ENTIRELY occupied by something else? That right there…That’s “Oh shit. I’ve missed it.”

Someone else mentioned that compassion is actually a practice of the present moment. We cannot be compassionate in the future or the past, only right in this moment. So compassion for others, self-compassion, it’s the nicest way to stay right here in this very moment.

Immediately after that practice, we jumped into a van to drive to the Coba Ruins, an ancient Mayan city with pyramids and other structures still in tact after thousands of years. And I was immediately hit with my first “Go with Life’s Flow” challenge. As we stood outside the van waiting to load in, someone asked, “So this ride is about 45 minutes, right?”
“No,” the driver responded. “About two hours.”
Now, I live my life on a strict schedule. I also get INCREDIBLY car sick. So when I learned this trip was more than twice what I thought it was, I immediately began to LEAVE THE PRESENT MOMENT.
Compassion. How can I have self-compassion right now?
“So, guys?” I began to ask a question and I automatically felt uncomfortable, GUILTY even for asking for something for myself. “I often get car sick. Could I sit in the front seat?” Immediately I felt shitty. Like I’m not good enough at being present, at breathing, at meditating to overcome something as silly and simple as car-sickness.
“Oh sure!” everyone responded. There. I did it. I loved myself enough to ask for a seat that would likely lead to less vomiting during this two-hour trip. Step one.
Once I sat down in the front seat, I exhaled. Let’s just try and go with the flow here, huh? Forty-five minutes? Two hours? Whatevs. I’m with people I love. Be here.
The ride was long, and I did maintain focus on the horizon so as to not vomit. But it contained lovely conversation, a few belly laughs, and some tense moments as we passed by policia holding VERY large automatic weapons because…you know…Mexico.
We arrived at the ruins and immediately began applying coat after coat of sunscreen because the ancient Mayans lived ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUN. Our guide, who was himself Mayan, was incredibly knowledgable. You could feel the energy of the people who once bustled through this city. You could sit on the steps where they sat to watch games being played or animal sacrifices being made. It was, as my dear friend said, “History class in real life.”
Near the end of the ruins was a pyramid the visitors could climb. I believe it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 steep steps to the top. When we arrived at the bottom of the pyramid, I felt incredibly present in that moment…almost blissful and unaware of how little past/future thinking I was doing. And I began climbing.
It wasn’t until I was about halfway up that I thought to myself…my leg.
I broke my leg.
How am I doing this? Can I do this?
I landed so plainly and squarely in the present moment that I completely forgot to think about whether or not I could do this. And it was too late.
I was already doing it.
IMG_1758It was almost EASY climbing 100 stairs and landing at the top. And I wanted to tell everyone up there, “Hey! I broke my leg a year ago and now I’m climbing an ancient pyramid in MEXICO! I didn’t know I could do that!” None of my typical stories or fears about what happened or what MIGHT happen were around and I was fine. My leg was fine. I climbed a FREAKING pyramid.
We drove into Playa Del Carmen that evening to have dinner. We ate outside under a HUGE

Apple-dropping beast.

Apple-dropping beast.

crab apple tree that kept dropping apples into our food. It was simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. (Those things HURT when they land on you!) I didn’t feel over-the-moon like I did after the after jumping off a cenote or being tickled by a Mayan healer. I just felt…there. Right there.
Everything was fine. Nothing was wrong. I was just…going with the flow of life.

Since my trip, I’ve started noticing how often I’m not right here. I’m thinking about where I have to be next instead of just going there. I’m thinking about my entire to-do list instead of just the first “to-do.” I’m thinking about the last time I went to XYZ place and how I didn’t like it. I’m thinking about next week, next month, next YEAR!! And while there is nothing wrong with planning, planning doesn’t equal living in the “possible future”. Remembering the past doesn’t equal expecting things to be as they were. Being right here is HARD, but noticing how often you’re not right here is a huge first step.

I finished off that evening dancing with Sat Siri’s little daughter and wandering around the streets of Playa Del Carmen holding her hand. Ordinarily an evening like that would be paired with my brain moving forward to how far a ride home it is and how tired I might be…but I didn’t. I was just there. Because…well…shit. I didn’t want to miss it.

 

Thank You Thank You Ezactly Ezactly

Morning practice on Wednesday was on the deck at the ocean. I watched the sunrise out of the corner of my eye, but I was in a total haze. I felt exhausted. More than exhausted. My body felt like it was smooshing through a Florida mud bog, my lungs inhaling half air/half clouds, my brain totally gone. I was beyond blissed out. I was nearly unconscious. And it wasn’t fun.
After breakfast my body felt like it weighed so much that I just went back to sleep. I thought maybe a good nap would clear me right up.
I woke up a few moments before afternoon yoga and I was not only still hazey, I was more tired than I was before. And, of COURSE, our practice that afternoon included some torturous activity that included my arms being parallel to the ground for more than 20 minutes. I also had to lie flat on my back, which it incredibly painful since I broke my leg because of an issue with my hip kicking my SI Joint out of whack all the time. Luckily I was so out of it that I didn’t really notice what I was doing, nor do I remember it.

Knowing it was Mayan Healer day, I decided to take a good, long, hot shower to try and wake up (not to mention clean my stinky yoga body before this guy healed it). I’d been informed that the healer came right to our hotel rooms, so once I was dressed I sat down and waited.
Do I go look for him? Does he knock? Is he psychic?? This is Mexico so there’s a good chance 1pm meant, “Whatever.”

Finally, I walked up to the small hotel office to inquire about how this whole healing thing worked. Instead of getting answers, I got Avalino, The Mayan Healer. He was having lunch.
“Oh, hi! I’m Erin.”
He began speaking in Spanish.
“Oh, I don’t speak that much Spanish…that quickly…”
He looked at the hotel receptionist and she began to translate. She asked me about any pain I had, any major surgeries, etc. I told her about my broken leg, about feeling very fuzzy that day, and before I could really finish he interrupted me in Spanish. Apparently he spoke enough English to understand what I’d just said. “What did he say?” I asked the receptionist.
“He say he already know what he will do to help you,” she replied in a thick accent.
“Oh! Oh. Ok. Great…”
I walked to my room, continuing to do this weird and VERY awkward turn-around-to-see-if-he’s-behind-me move. Once I got to my room, I sat on the bed. Then on the chair. Then I stood up. I pretended to start “doing” my hair until he walked in.
“What is you name?” he asked.
“Erin.”
“Ok,” he said. He lit a candle that appeared to be from the dollar store, but not before he asked me if I “had fire” to light it, which I did. He looked around my small room, his white pants and shirt matched the white linens and mosquito nets. “Lie down,” he said, pointing at my bed.
Now, at this point I’m kinda freaked out. I mean, we’re alone. In my hotel room. The hotel itself is small, so I was actually thinking about how loudly I might need to scream for someone to hear me if it turned out his “healing” didn’t jive with me. I sat down on the bed and pretended like I was totally cool with everything when he interrupted my thoughts: “You a master?”
“What?” Because what?
“Master. Yoga master. You a master?”
“No. No I’m a student.”
“Oh. Master soon, though,” he said, like I was supposed to know that already.
I laid down with my head near the foot of the bed, and Avalino pulled up a chair and put his hands on my head. He began to breathe, deeply, eerily. I was completely freaking out.
“Thinking, thinking, thinking,” he said. “You need stop thinking all the time. Thinking in the shower, even…”

I couldn’t really argue with that, so I just breathed. And I relaxed.

“What is you name?” he asked. Again.
I immediately began freaking out. Why does he not remember my name? Why does he not remember asking me my name not 4 minutes ago?
“Erin.”
“Erin, Erin, Erin…” he whispered.
He started moving his hands to my neck. He was rough. He pulled my head around, dug his thumbs into my neck. It wasn’t fun. His hands went down to my shoulders, my sides, my stomach, as if he was looking for something with his hands. When he landed on my stomach, his hands moved quickly and it TICKLED. I mean, it tickled like a mean big brother. Violent tickling. I had no idea what to do because I was literally trying to wriggle away from him and keep myself from laughing.
“Yes, yes,” he said and I was like YES YES WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
He continued poking my stomach until I couldn’t hold it in any longer and I started laughing. I laughed and I moved and I was completely uncomfortable and also so incredibly WTF. But I didn’t run. I almost just wanted to see what the hell would happen next.
He continued tickling my stomach and then SUDDENLY he stopped and went back to my neck. He pushed. He pulled on my arms. He wound my arms around and around in a tornado. He moved so fast that I didn’t have time to think before he put his hands back on my stomach and…
I wasn’t ticklish.
What?
Yeah.
I wasn’t ticklish anymore.
When he began trying to tickle my stomach, he started repeating, “Thank you, thank you, ezactly, ezactly…” I wasn’t sure if he was thanking me or he was proud of me for not being ticklish?
He moved on to my legs and feet. He grabbed my left leg near the break. “Oooo…ooooo,” he said quietly as he continued to violently jerk and poke other parts of my body. “Turn over,” he commanded.
I turned over onto my stomach and he immediately began digging his fingers into my back. It was SO painful and SO tickley that I just wanted to stand up and thank him for his time and ask him to leave. It was HORRIBLE. I couldn’t stay still, I couldn’t enjoy what was probably supposed to be massage-like motions. I just continued to jump and wince.
He stopped altogether for a moment and began pushing into a spot on the back of my shoulder. I felt him tracing lines from places in my back to places in my arms, even down to my feet. He began pushing “buttons” and, when he returned to my back, I wasn’t ticklish there anymore either. His fingers felt good.
“Thank you, thank you, ezactly, ezactly…”
I was so confused.
He moved his hands to my lower back and literally jumped back off me and started shaking his hands. “WOOOOOAH,” he shouted. “Dats energy, oh it’s no moving. Oh, it’s too much.”
Ooook. What do I do here…
He slowly moved his hands back to my lower back, like he was afraid of it, and he again violently jammed his fingers around the area of my SI Joint and sacrum. It hurt. It hurt a lot. He traced a line from my lower back to the back of my left knee. He pressed. It tickled again. He pressed and pressed and pressed and finally said, “Thank you, thank you. Ezactly, ezactly. Feeling? Feeling?”
“Yes,” I responded. “Definitely feeling.”
Just then, a little bone there in the bottom of my back popped into place. It’s like it just sat down. And the intense nerve pain I’ve felt for 6 months suddenly went away.
I mean…what?!
As I’m trying to digest what just happened, he touched my right knee.
“BOOM!” he shouted. He looked at me. I looked at him. “You boom right here,” he pointed to my right knee.
“Yeah. Yeah, I did.” He was not pointing to my broken leg. He was pointing to the place where my right leg hit the boat when I got thrown back in from the tree. It doesn’t hurt. It’s not even a spot I point out to people. But I do have permanent soft tissue damage there. He worked very hard on that spot…for a good long while. Of course, he eventually whispered, “Thank you, thank you…ezactly, ezactly.”
At this point I felt like weeping. I didn’t really know why, but as he dug into that spot on my leg, tears filled my eyes. Not from pain. Not from anywhere I could source. Just…tears. He began to hum a little song. It turned into words and singing. I’m not sure what he was singing because it was in Spanish, but it felt absolutely perfect.
For the rest of the…experience…I laid still and comfortably. He tinkered with my wrists and ankles, messed around with my neck again, a little more around my knees…and he was done.
“Done,” he said.
I stood up to thank him and I couldn’t believe how I felt. I had no pain. I felt…clear. My body was clear, my mind was clear. I was lighter. And for the first time in a very long time, I felt no pain.
Avalino sat down in the chair.
“How do you know what to do?” I asked.
“Eeeem,” he began, “My granmother, she do dis. My granfather, he do dis. An they teach me I can do dis. An my fingers, they see into your body like eyes. I see where you blocked. An I fix it.”
I sat, quietly, wondering if he maybe had some kind of message for me. But he didn’t. He just got up, blew out his candle, and then…he asked to take a picture with me.
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetOn his iPad.

That night I learned that every person’s experience with Avalino was completely different from mine. Some were calm and quiet. Some included more singing, some had none. There was no pattern whatsoever. I can’t say what he did, how he healed me, what he did to my back, how he saw my right knee hitting the boat… I know that later in the evening I laid flat on my back on my yoga mat without pain. I know that I felt so light that I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if I opened my eyes and I was floating. I was clear. I was home in my body.

I felt absolutely crazy and so incredible all at the same time. I couldn’t really imagine much else topping that experience.

 

Has Anyone Ever Died Doing This?

Read yesterday’s blog first if you haven’t already!

IMG_1684Shelly crouched near the edge of the platform looking down over the water for about 10 minutes. I stood off to the side of her, quietly. I hoped she didn’t jump. If she jumped, I had to jump. Aaaaaand I did not want to jump.

Eventually, though, she stepped away from the edge.
“I don’t think I can do it,” she looked at me and said.
THANK JESUS.
“That’s okay,” I told her because I’m a good and encouraging friend.
She stepped down off the back of the platform and JUST when I was supposed to breathe a huge sigh of relief, a NASTY little voice inside my head spoke up.
“You’re a warrior. You proclaimed yourself a warrior today. What kind of warrior leaves her girl behind, uninspired?”
Me. This kind of warrior. Because it’s really fucking high up here.
“You’re a warrior,” the voice repeated. “Don’t stop now.”
Damnit.
And so, I walked up near the edge of the platform.
“She jump!” our guide shouted.
This did not help.
“Oh, go Erin!” one of the girls said.
“Has anyone ever died doing this?” I yelled down to the guide.
“NnnnOPE,” he responded.
“What will happen if I fall forward or backward while I’m jumping?” I asked.
“Belly-Flop no bueno,” he responded. “Pencil straight.”
Pencil straight. Right.
I stood near the edge of the platform, peeking over the side. My blood pressure slowly rose within my neck and I could feel my face flush. Jumping from a zip line was far easier. Not only was it closer to the water, I had no CHOICE but to jump. If I didn’t, my handle would have hit the stopper in the middle of the zip line and I would have catapulted off. Here, I was forced to make the DECISION to step off a platform into nothing and fall until I hit water.
Hard.
I continued breathing. I pictured myself stepping off the edge. I counted to three over and over and over again. I thought about what Shelly might do if I jump. I thought about what she might do if I don’t. I even wondered if maybe I was considering this jump for the wrong reasons. Do I really need to PROVE I’m a warrior? Am I just doing this to influence someone else to do it?!
This went on for another 15 minutes.
And then, there came a moment where I just got plain old tired of being scared. I didn’t want to be scared anymore. I decided to stare straight forward, count to three, and walk until I couldn’t walk anymore. In a brief moment between thoughts and fear…I did just that.

Also, I screamed as though I was being murdered in mid-air and my butt smack the water so hard that it felt like it was permanently vibrating. My central nervous system was on HIGH ALERT and my hand shook violently; it looked like I was faking it. I was not a good friend to Shelly when I announced, “THAT WAS HORRIFYING.”
“That doesn’t help,” she said from above.
Eventually I sat down on a rock and looked up at Shelly. It was clear that she was not convinced.
“I don’t think I can do it,” she said again.
“That’s okay,” I told her from below. I smiled at her. Others encouraged her. I wanted her to jump now, but I also felt completely at peace with her not jumping. I’d done my part and if she didn’t want to do hers, I forgave her. It was scary up there.
“I don’t think I can do it,” she repeated.
We sat quietly for several minutes, watching her.
“Shelly?” I asked as quickly as I could from so many feet below. “Remember what you asked me up there?”
She nodded. Nothing more really needed to be said.

It took a while, but eventually Shelly took off. It literally looked like there was a MOMENT’S pause in her brain and she just RAN. Her face said, “I GOTTA GO NOW WHILE I’M NOT THINKING!!!” Her jump was pencil straight, her sounds fair more muted and guttural than mine. And when she popped up, she swam straight to me and I gave her the biggest hug I could, unsteady on the rock.

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Warriors. We were girl warriors. The only ones who jumped.

As soon as we valiantly made our way back to the path, I realized I’d left my bracelets on a rock near the last cenote, about 10 minutes-walk behind us. “One of the guides can run you back,” someone in the group said. I looked over at them and one guide stepped forward.
“Si,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. It was clear he didn’t mind running me back to the other cenote. He especially didn’t mind that I was in a bathing suit. And now I suddenly very-much minded. I was seconds away from leaving my bracelets behind when he took off running.
Oooook, I thought. I guess I’ll follow him?
And as soon as I took a step, I heard something rev.
A dirt bike.
He came around the corner with a shit-eating grin on his face. Apparently he thought I would be impressed by his dirt bike.
P.S. I am TERRIFIED of two-wheeled transportation. ESPECIALLY ones with engines.
I’d been a warrior all day. I’d relied on gravity to pull me down off the zip line. I’d relied on myself to jump off the platform. But I had to rely on this guy…on a dirt bike…to get my bracelets back that I now didn’t even care about.
“Ooooooooh. Ooookaaaay,” I said as I approached the dirt bike.
“Seet here,” he pointed to the back.
“Yep. Ok. Right. Sure,” I climbed onto the back. Ensuring there was plenty of room for Jesus, I scooted as close to the back of the seat as I could. I gingerly took the shoulders of his shirt between my pointer finger and thumb.
“Hold here,” and he placed my hands on his chest. I literally cupped my hands so that only fingertips were actually TOUCHING him because ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew.
He took off and I held in the biggest scream yet because, as he accelerated, he immediately cut off the ONLY VEHICLE I’D SEEN ON THE TRAILS ALL DAY. We were nearly hit by a car within 5 seconds of taking off. The ground, not a paved path but a jagged layer of limestone and sand, caused the dirt bike to jerk and bounce around in different directions. I closed my eyes and repeated, “I love Abe, I love Bear, I love my mom,” over and over again during the short, 5 minute hell-ride back to my bracelets.
Once we turned around and began the trek back, bracelets on my wrist, I breathed. I considered how mindless I was being by telling the story that I’m scared of bikes and motorcycles. I thought about what I might be missing if I chose not to enjoy this now because it was never something I’d enjoyed before. Then I thought If I die, I wouldn’t know how scared or happy or angry I was right before I died. I wouldn’t even know I died. I’d just be dead.
So, I decided to try enjoying the ride.
With every fast inhale that was meant to be a terrified gasp, I slowed down and just breathed. Instead of screaming in my head, I replaced it with, “Woooooow.” I pretended for a few seconds at a time (that’s all I could do) that I really loved riding dirt bikes.
When I finally removed my still-rattling body from the bike and thanked my less-than-desirable prince for the ride, I walked. And while I walked, I wondered…

How often do I hold on to an old story about myself that totally ruins my present moment?
Like, I have these things i don’t like or I don’t want or I can’t stand…and what if I just didn’t hate them anymore?! It’s not to say that I enjoyed 100% of the bike ride back. But I enjoyed about 60% of it, which is 60% more than the first ride. If I was investing, that’s a pretty freaking good return…an excellent improvement if nothing else.
So I took my biggest fear into consideration. The one I talked about most with the girls on the trip, and with most people in my life.
MONEY.
What if I just decided I wasn’t going to worry about it anymore?
That wouldn’t mean I won’t address and handle my debt. It wouldn’t mean I’d suddenly spend frivolously. But what if I detached and obliterated THE STORIES I attach to money?
What if there’s not enough…
How will I pay this bill…
I never make enough money…
So I’m trying it this week. The bills are still obscene. But the stress is starting to…leave. I would say 60% gone, just like the bike. I’m focused, but I’m not panicked. It ain’t perfect but it’s also just not as big of a deal.

So my first two days in Cancun were pretty MAJOR to say the least. Day three, though…well, I’ll only tell you I met Avalino the Mayan Healer on day three.
Things got…weird…

If I Do It, Will You Do It?

11219077_384394601762051_9081098498259325771_nI woke up 5am Tuesday morning with a better attitude, ready to start the early class. We did a gentle series of movements and then our teacher guided us out to the beach for a walking meditation. Did you know you could do that? Sometimes a sitting meditation is literally the most boring, awful thing on the planet. But a walking meditation involved repeating a mantra in my head while walking with my eyes on the horizon. THIS was a meditation I could do.
And I rocked it.

Mid-afternoon yoga began with an ADORABLE and gentle little breathing session. However, it quickly progressed into a flat-on-our-backs leg-lifting MARATHON. This type of yoga, kundalini, doesn’t always give you a heads up about what’s coming, so when we began lifting our legs I assumed we’d be here for a few minutes and then we’d move on.
We were there for almost 25 minutes.
Non. Stop.
At 5 minutes, it seemed like we’d been lifting our legs a little too long.
About 10 minutes in, my hip flexors were killing me. My quads were burning. My lower abs were cramping.
Around 15 minutes in, I gave up the will to live.
But maybe a few minutes after that, I realized I was still doing it. I was still going. And while we were supposed to be repeating “Sat Nam” with each repetition, I started to say, “I’m a warrior.” It came out of no where and I got stronger and stronger with each rep. Probably near the 20 minute mark I felt like I was dancing. The movement was easy and graceful and I felt incredibly strong.
When we were FINALLY given the cue to stop, I was on top of the world. I felt like I showed up for MYSELF for the first time in a long time. I felt proud. Elated. SO strong. And I was completely blissed out.
We entered a resting place for deep relaxation. We dipped waaaaay down into such an incredibly peaceful place that I actually chuckled when a construction crew began dumping enormous chunks of concrete into a truck directly outside the window of our yoga room.
BOOM!
I felt incredible.

Later that day, we visited a few cenotes (sen-oh-tays). These are little (and big) springs of water that rise up through the limestone Earth and create pond-sized bodies of water, lake-sized, and beyond. Some are 10 feet deep, some are 40 feet deep, some are 200 feet deep! The first one we visited had an incredible zip line that dropped right into the middle of the cenote and AS IF I didn’t feel like warrior-enough a few hours earlier…now I felt like a warrior that could fly.
On. Top. Of. The. World.
IMG_1686The last cenote we visited had this funny platform thing above it. “What’s that?” we asked the guide.
“That’s the jump.”
Yeah. The jump. I looked over the side of this platform down into the cenote, turned around, and said, “Nope.”
“I thought you were a warrior?” someone quipped.
“Not that kind of warrior,” I said.
I joined the rest of my girls down in the water…except one. Shelly stayed on the platform. The newest member of our group, she looked down over the edge at us. She wanted to jump. She planned to jump. But she was stuck. She was the ONLY girl brave enough to even stand up there.
That stupid voice in my head came back. I’m a warrior. I’m a warrior. I’m a warrior.
I climbed back up to the platform and stood next to her. She was terrified. I was terrified. Maybe more terrified. And everyone else sat quietly in the water 40 or 50 feet below us (I can’t remember how high it was)…waiting.
She turned to me.
“If I do it, will you do it?” she asked me.
“Ok,” I said. At least I think I said that. I thought ok but I am not sure; I might have said, “HELL NO,” or possibly, “Maybe, I don’t know, stop pressuring me.”
Whatever I said, it made her step near the edge of the platform. And I held my breath.
Please don’t let her jump. If she jumps…I have to jump. Because I’m pretty sure I just said, “OK.”

 

How I Accidentally Ended up in Cancun

About 2 months ago, I read that my favorite kundalini yoga teacher was hosting a week-long yoga retreat in Cancun. The price tag was hefty, but I was considering taking out a loan from a lovely company called Visa in order to go. I said a quick little prayer about it and the message I got back was to check my caleIMG_1661ndar: if it was a week I was supposed to have my son, I shouldn’t sign up.
I looked.
Week with son.
End of discussion. Not going to Cancun.

One month later, a dear friend and client reached out offering me a ticket to that very retreat because, as it turns out, she couldn’t make it. I accepted, used airline miles to purchase a ticket, made an agreement with my ex-husband to swap weeks with my son, and last Sunday I flew to Cancun, Mexico.
What. Is. My. Life?
Yeah. I am kind of beyond blessed. (And possibly a master manifestor.)

I landed in the Cancun airport and was immediately bombarded with men in cheap suits insisting I purchase a “travel voucher” in order to get to my hotel. Luckily the driver from my hotel was standing a mere 10 feet beyond the voucher-pushers. I pointed at her and the men immediately moved on to another unsuspecting victim.
Around 3:00pm, me and 7 other women who I knew from prior kundalini yoga retreats all gathered to hug, catch up, cry a little (because women), and spend 2 hours in a kundalini yoga class with our very favorite teacher. After an INCREDIBLE meal cooked at the hotel, I snuggled into my crisp, white hotel sheets within a gorgeous bed surrounded by a flowing mosquito net that was only for show but still made me feel like a queen. The perfect first day.

My alarm went off at 5am on Monday morning.
That’s right. Yoga starts at 5:30am.
I spent the entire 5:30-7:30am class SERIOUSLY angry while simultaneously falling asleep. The amount of times I caught myself from falling over during meditation is embarrassing. Breakfast was delicious but the rest of my morning before 10:30am yoga was basically spent deliriously wandering around trying to figure out what the hell to do with my free time. And eventually after mid-day yoga and lunch, I was so far from being in a “spiritual” place I could have just as easily been at home battling insurance company issues or driving like a bat out of hell to the post office to get the rent check sent on time.
I decided to go for a walk on the beach. You know…because it’s a more elevated choice than eating an abundance of Mexican chocolate.
Plodding one foot in front of the other through the powdered sugar sand, I forgot to look out over the crystal blue waters. I walked without having any idea how to chill out or calm down or even how to be alone without a purpose. But I was determined to “arrive” at this yoga retreat and feel ENLIGHTENED, DAMNIT.
Then I stepped on a pointy shell. Really. Fucking. Hard.

By the time evening practice and meditation rolled around, I was feeling really stupid for having accepted this gift. Everyone was so happy, so joyful, so GRATEFUL to be there. And it was time to do an evening “check-in” so I was just dreading my turn. My teacher asked each of us to give a brief little explanation of how we were feeling and how the day went. When she got to me, I basically responded, “I’m pissed off. And none of this is going right.”
“Oooh. Ok,” she responded.
“So, yeah,” I said, even though saying it didn’t accomplish anything at all.
“I completely understand,” she said.
“Yeah,” I said, now kind of waiting for her to say something about how I need to meditate more or drink some tea or whatever.
But she didn’t.
She just moved on to the next person.

And that was the moment of the trip that I realized I was in the middle of a microcosm of life itself. There will be good days, there will be shitty days even when I try to elevate above them, there will be stress and frustration and sadness and everything else. Then, when the day is over, I can look at it and announce, “Ooooh. Ok. I completely understand.” I can breathe and, just like in any painful yoga pose, begin again as often as I need to. I climbed into that same beautiful bed and decided that I could begin again whenever I wanted to. I could begin the day again right there in bed before I fell asleep.

Still, though, I really hoped that Tuesday didn’t suck quite as much as Monday.

 

 

A Few Pictures

I’m too tired to write out a long, adorable, witty blog about my doctor visit today. I’ll just tell you that today was either the end of one long debacle or the beginning of a new one.

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Can you see what that is?

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That’s a fused bone.

Donezo.

And what’s more…I got to look at that picture one day after I got to look at this one.

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It took a year, but the medical bills are paid. off.

Now on to the rest of the debt. 😉

G’night everybody.

 

The Marathon Vomit

When you’re standing in the grocery store amid many people and you almost pick up a rotten tomato…
You are immediately transported back to the day that your big brother smashed a rotten tomato in your face when you were a kid and you puked everywhere from the smell and texture of it.
You stare at the rotten tomato there in the produce section and try not to heave. You MUST have a tomato for your dinner but you can’t imagine actually reaching over and grabbing one. The contents of your stomach begin to rise and your face flushes, terrified that you may actually have no control over whether or not you empty out right there in the grocery store. Terrified.

OR

When you’re rounding mile 16 out of 26.2. You have been pushing your body beyond its limits for the last 3 months and now is the DAY when it all happens; it all pays off. You’re running past hundreds of people and you realize you’re starting to get nauseous. Maybe you’re dehydrated, maybe you’re low on sodium. You know a good hard ralph is coming, but you keep running. And eventually, it happens. You’re running and vomiting at the same time. Marathon vomit. In front of hundreds of people. But you’re too motivated to care.

A simpler version of my point is when you’re pinching pennies trying to pay off your debt with every extra cent and then you’re transmission goes out and you’re another $3k in the hole so you figure you might has well go out for a big fracking steak dinner.
Or even simpler: you check the mirror 200 times before you leave the house but then you go camping without a mirror, shampoo, or push-up bra for 3 days and don’t care.

443800317_640We get ourselves into a certain awareness, a certain state of consciousness that focuses on the consequences of things as they are RIGHT NOW. Vomiting in the grocery store would make you want to die. Going out to a steak dinner would RUIN all your progress. But tweak the circumstances ever so slightly and suddenly you no longer have time, effort, or energy to be embarrassed or annoyed or anxious.

I’ve always wanted to create a permanent feeling of “Aw fuck it”, that way that I feel when I just let go of all the worry because who cares anymore? That level of freedom is what I long for most days. But what it takes to get there…I hate it. It usually means the other shoe has dropped clear off, hit the floor, splattered into a million pieces like a porcelain sculpture, and then each individual piece self-combusts into dust all over the floor. When I broke my leg…who cares if I remembered to turn the air down during the day or if I flash my underwear because my flowy shorts flipped up when I was trying to get out of the car? I gave up all concern and worry because BROKEN LEG. I hated that it happened, but I love the freedom it gave me to not care about what were now really insignificant things in the grand scheme of life.

Today, a dear friend who is facing a MASSIVE challenge, said she wasn’t even that worried anymore. She wasn’t freaking out or staying up and worrying or living with a massive pile of anxiety in her stomach. She said, “I’m not irritated or frustrated with where I’m at anymore. I’m just holding on long enough to turn the corner.” The emotion, the reactions had all fallen away and now she’s just waiting to see what happens after all her hard work.
“You’ve reached marathon vomit.”
Obviously I then had to explain when I meant…

I want to live my life like a marathoner vomiting. I don’t care. I’m not worried about it. I’m not going to stop running and trying. Now, I’m not a runner unless a serial killer is chasing me (and even then…) so this is a HORRIBLE metaphor to use about myself.. But I DO worry about money constantly. I panic if we go $50 outside of our budget and then all of a sudden if the shit hits the fan and I go shopping. AND I’M OK WITH GOING SHOPPING AFTER THE SHIT HITS THE FAN! And the money always ends up being there anyway. So what was the point of all the worrying and concern?

When’s the last time you had a marathon vomit? The time something flat out side-swiping, embarrassing, humiliating happened to you and you just didn’t even care because whatever. You just went and got the steak dinner, you didn’t care about the bugs in your hair at the campfire…And do you think you could live even small parts of your life that way everyday?

The What and the How

Anxiety-GirlI remember the first time I had anxiety. It was about a month before my wedding. I was working a job I wasn’t sure I cared for and rushing to make lunch with friends and I started panicking. What-if monsters filled my head with completely unreasonable expectations. The groomsmen’s planes might all be late, or their tuxes might not show up. The bridesmaids might forget their dresses. It might rain. IT WILL PROBABLY RAIN. The flowers are going to wilt. I wasn’t even PLANNING my own wedding (my family did most of it for me) and I had imaginary check-lists of What-Ifs in my head doing the macarena with pencil arms.

Now, years later, I have anxiety pretty regularly. I don’t remember what it was like to not have it. I get anxiety when I open the mailbox, when I check my bank account, when I hand someone my health insurance card…One of the few times I never have anxiety, though, is when I go to church. I sing like I’m at a concert and I am reminded that God can answer all my prayers. In FACT! Earlier this year I wrote a list of things I needed God to figure out for me because they seemed insurmountable. And low and behold, every single thing on that list, every goal, was dealt with and met in a way that I never could have done on my own. Problems were solved in ways I didn’t even THINK about!
And so I continued writing down my goals because I had proof that it was all possible. I wrote down the things I wanted, the things I knew would make me happy and feel good. So today while listening to Pastor Furtick’s sermon from Sunday morning I heard him make a suggestion that damn near knocked me over: what if your goals suck?

I’ve got all these goals and ideas about what would make me happy and my life better, but how do I know if they actually will improve anything? That they’re the right goals? I mean, I’ve been wrong before. OH I’ve been wrong before. I thought I knew what I wanted and I worked really freaking hard for it and when it turned out I was wrong, it was a double whammy: surprised and confused. Yes, God answers prayer and gives you what you want, but He can ALSO clue you in as to what goals would make sense. You’ve heard the ideas of following your path and your calling and all that. But did you ever stop to think that even though you THINK you know what you should be working and praying for, you might actually be working for something that isn’t even right for you. Pastor Furtick said, “You can make great time going in the wrong direction…”

So I stopped and revisited some of the latest goals. I’m not totally sold on the idea that my goals aren’t the best possible goals there are for me, probably because I’m human. But instead of asking God to fix my problems, solve my issues, meet my goals, I might-could ask Him to highlight the goals I ought to be setting for myself. (We say might-could in the south.)

I know, for me, when I release my need to know HOW something is going to get done and let God figure that part out, not only does He always do it but it relieves a little bit of that anxiety that has followed me around for nearly 10 years. I’m not in charge of the HOW. I can relax and trust it will all get worked out. But now I’m starting to think I don’t even have to be in charge of the WHAT. God’s WHAT is probably better than mine, too.

Of course, just thinking about that gives me anxiety. So, it’s all still a work in progress. 🙂