My life hasn’t been thrilling but I do get a few claims to fame. When I worked at the Four Seasons, I gave a massage to a real life English Lady. Her life was so astounding. She always insisted that I not call her “Lady.” (We were required to call all guests by their formal titles. Everyone feared getting the actual prince of a certain foreign country. His formal title included no less than 10 words, ending in “his royal highness”. I digress.)
The thing about doing massage full time was that I got to work on a lot of people, most on vacation or at the hotel for a wedding or party. I was astonished that I rarely saw people from the many conferences and business events that were happening.
Ironically, when people were the most stressed they didn’t have time to get a massage. I feel the same about yoga. It’s when your schedule is frighteningly packed that you can’t make it in.
Monday is MLK day and with it will come the monsoon of MLK quotes. I’ll start:
“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Great, right? We quote him every year on this sacred day but do we live by his words? Who among us has kept quiet in order to “keep the peace,” to not “ruffle feathers,” to “keep the calm” in the midst of a political storm. Many people I’ve heard from in the yoga community are saying that the tenets of yoga compel us to remain the strong steady force of peace and harmony. That our role is to remain neutral in a down pouring of opinions.
Happy New Year Casa Family!!! We made it to 2021! This past year was like no other. We experienced it all...this year long dumpster fire burning with suffering, healing, uncertainty, love, fear, and joy. We were forced to get still, to see what was working for us and to let go of what was definitely not.
Inevitably, this time of year brings with it the dreaded New Year’s Resolutions. These resolutions incite a panic in us or (maybe a funk?) Whatever the mood it seems equal parts antipathy and aversion. Uggggh.
My sister lives up north and she hates it. She is so far from our childhood of big sunny Texas skies and sunburnt summers. For her now, the winter sun rises around 10:00am and sets around 3:00pm. The first few years my sister felt real fear as the dark nights approached often saying with a hint of panic in her voice, “winter is coming.” Every year, she has come to look forward to the Winter Solstice and the glimmer of hope it brings.
Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year and therefore the shortest day. This year, in the northern hemisphere, we celebrate this dark night on December 21st. Yoga communities honor this time as the blazing rebirth of the sun (as well as a yearly rebirth within ourselves). We take this time to set glowing intentions and to call in what we most desire. We also illuminate what is not serving us and attempt to let it go.
The very first time I meditated I was five years old. I remember laying on the grass. I watched the cotton candy clouds floating by slowly, peacefully. I closed my eyes and could feel the vibrations of the ground beneath me. I remember feeling connected to my body and the Earth. I felt my heart beating and I sensed my entire being from my head to my toes. My mind rested.
Of course I did not know I was meditating or even what meditation was, but looking back that is totally what I was doing. I was listening and observing my body; my internal world. I was simply being.
I recently learned of a new -ism. You know, like racism, sexism, classism. But have you heard of healthism? Once I researched more I realized that I actually know this -ism all too well. Like a pair of cute jeans that don’t fit but I won’t get rid of, I see it every day. I see it on social media all the time and I myself have unknowingly participated in this mindset. So what is it?
Healthism is another form of shaming people (just like those cute jeans). It is when you believe that your way of being healthy is THE way and everyone else needs to pull up their big girl panties and get in line. There is an awesome scene from the Netflix series “Shrill” that exemplifies this. The main character (who is in a bigger body) is approached while getting coffee by a very well meaning, adorable and ENTHUSIASTIC fitness buff. The fitness buff insists that the main character has a skinny girl inside her just waiting to come out. In the book the series is based on, the writer jokes that the fitness buff makes it sound as if she has accidentally eaten the pretty little skinny girl. It’s funny but also great example of healthism at its best.
My friend is at home with her two sons. She wakes up to find them eating ice cream from the freezer. She takes the ice cream away and makes them a nutritious breakfast. The next morning she hears them getting into the freezer again and repeats the same steps. The third morning she’s in the shower enjoying the hot water, the silence, the time for herself, the steam and the delicious feeling of getting clean and ready for the day. She hears the freezer crack open. She sighs. The kids have ice cream for breakfast that day.
I have this beautiful little nature trail in my neighborhood where I love to do my walking meditation. No earbuds. No distractions. Just me, my thoughts and the fresh smell of Earth. If I keep my gaze straight I can pretend that the houses to my right do not exist. I imagine myself to be in a sweet forest with no buildings or people for miles. I listen to the crackle of leaves beneath my feet and the squirrels chirping overhead in the trees. I take it all in.
When I was a kid Halloween was so scary!! But also exciting? Isn’t that funny? Being scared can actually be a little fun? Like a roller coaster (a real one, not the proverbial one we are suffering through right now).
As an adult, I take fear very seriously. There is a lot of fear driving us right now and for good reason. Fear has the important job of trying to keep us safe.
When I was training to be a yoga teacher, my yoga instructor did a whole session on teaching from a place of love versus a place of fear. I get it. This lesson was supposed to parallel our lives. We should respond with love over fear so that we respond compassionately with others. As I propelled along my yoga journey though, I began to question the simplicity of it.
I used to kill everything. Certainly I was not born with a green thumb. I once killed a rosemary plant which is notoriously hardy. I was miraculous in my ineptitude yet longed to germinate, to cultivate, to grow something! It was beyond frustrating.
I’ve come a long way! Today, I have a couple of mint plants, some Lantana, an oregano plant, aloe, a peace lily and even (shockingly) was able to grow one extraordinarily supple cucumber (before the whole plant got too out of control, LOL). It’s been an amazing turn around. I thought of this the other day as I chatted with a friend who has the same shady history of planticide. I got curious. What changed?
Read my thoughts on yoga, teaching, parenting and everything in between. Shout out to Tiffany Stewart for help with the writing.