i am the master of my own body

Today is a day I miss The OM Place for giving me the best yoga classes I have ever taken. For helping me discover my voice and teaching style. For showing me how to care for others’ hearts and bodies, and for training me how to teach others to care for themselves. The OM Place gave me poetry.

Today is also a day I miss Exhale Studios and all of my incredible, fearless students who allowed me to hone my skills with them. Who let me speak into their souls in restorative, and who braved my crazy kriyas in power class. Who gave me surprise t-shirts and followed me to froyo after hot yoga each Wednesday night and laughed away the sweat and pain with me.

My body was my own back then. I was the master of my own body and my own breath and my own heart, and I worked hard and consistently and gratefully to get there.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve had a regular yoga practice of my own. Call it mixed priorities, a lack of teachers who speak to me, or simply laziness. But there you have it. And not only have I been missing my practice, I am now growing a human in my personal space.

I am no longer the master of my own body. Continue reading “i am the master of my own body”

two weeks for type O

Hello friends. It’s been awhile. Over a month. Pretty atypical for me, but there you have it.

In the time I’ve spent away from blogging, I bought a ukelele and have learned a ton of chords and, like, five songs. I’m basically a prodigy. I’ve gotten one manicure but it chipped after four days. It was gel. I’ve finished reading three books. I had a birthday- my 31st! I rearranged my house. I enjoyed my first married Valentines Day- at a fancy winery for brunch. My husband and I finished paying off all of our (my) student loans and are debt-free. My job title changed, but my responsibilities and work load stayed the same (maybe increased a little). I discovered an allergy to hand soap, but only while wearing my wedding ring. I made the switch from steamed lattes to iced lattes. I visited Kentucky for my friend’s long-awaited and much-prayed-for wedding. Another friend got a puppy. I went ice skating. I went hiking. I became a certified Beauty For Ashes women’s ministry facilitator. I bought and wore two different (and completely ridiculous) outfits from the Goodwill. My mom came to visit and my brother had emergency gall-bladder removal surgery. I went kayaking. I graduated from seeing my chiropractor three times a week to just once a week. I started meeting with my friend Abigail every Wednesday morning at 7 am to talk about what we’re learning while reading the book Boundaries. I upgraded my phone. The bean boots I ordered in December finally arrived, but because of our awesome sunny weather I’ve only been able to wear them twice. My husband successfully held his first Calling Workshop and it was a huge success. I sold my old phone AND my old mac computer.  I fell in love with How I Met Your Mother AND The Newsroom. I got a membership to the local YMCA, and I go nearly every morning at 6 am. I found my fitbit and have re-instituted its use, logging in between 7 and 12 miles daily.

So you can see, it’s been quite the busy month.

woman-checking-email-on-phone-cooking_gdysia
basically me

Continue reading “two weeks for type O”

good grief

At the Center for Global Action, I teach a course on emotional health called Restoring Your Identity.

This week, I taught about grief. We all gathered ’round to discuss the requisites for healthy mourning, and the importance of external and internal permissions. We talked about loss and limits, and shared from our own stories. We discussed Job, and the awesome example he sets for us to grieve in a healthy way. I was blown away by the responses to the journal prompts I give my class outside of our time together. I regularly am blown away by their responses. My students are getting very, very real with some very, very hard things. I felt honored to hear their thoughts and to share in their feelings. I feel great and overwhelmed about the fact that I have the incredible privilege to teach on a subject we just don’t talk about much in America.

“Emotion” tends to get a bad rap.

Continue reading “good grief”

healthy=happy, but does it?

A long time ago, someone told me that the only way to truly make any legitimate physical changes was to look down at myself and be so disgusted that I can’t go on anymore. And that has been the main motivation for most of the exercise and diets I’ve chased for the last several years.

I’ll get on some kick and only eat leafy greens for two weeks, or hop on the latest Insanity kick (and ruin my knees), or do nothing BUT work out on as little food as possible until my body or my motivation gives out and I fall face-first into a steaming hot pile of pizza and chocolate chip cookies.

ugh. it doesn’t even look that appetizing from this point of view

But the thing is….I genuinely like living a healthy life. It’s important to me to know where my food is coming from, and what exactly is in it. I enjoy giving my body the foods it needs to use as fuel throughout the day. I feel SO GREAT about my body, my life, and the world, when I am regularly exercising. When I’m consuming enough water and getting enough sleep (which is infinitely easier, deeper, and shorter when I’m taking care of myself), I walk around every day feeling like the world is on my side and I can conquer anything.

So why do I keep falling into the same old pit of despair and fast food?

What is it in me that thinks convenience is a better alternative than health?

I’ve been batting this question around internally for the last few months. Having come home from the Race with a parasite, I had to be even more cautious about food and, while it required more effort and concentration than I was used to, the way I physically responded was remarkable. No more digestive issues, no more stomach cramps, headaches were gone, and both insomnia and hypersomnnia became non-issues. Further bonuses- I was losing weight and my skin was clearing up!

I felt incredible!


this girl does, too

Which led me to say things like, “I guess I could have a piece of that cake that everyone’s enjoying” or “I haven’t had fast food in ages, and I’m actually running really behind so I guess it couldn’t hurt to pop in somewhere for a burger and fries” or really any alternate version of any of these things. It was a sloooooow process of falling back into poor eating habits, but here I find myself. And along with that, I noticed that the more terrible foods I ate, the less I exercised. And the less I exercised, the less energy I had, the worse I felt in general, and the more I wanted to sleep. Just, all the time.

It’s a freakin’ snowball effect.

Seriously. Once that ball starts rollin’ it’s a fast downhill slide.

And so here I am, once again, stuck at the bottom of the Hill of Health, looking up, and being pretty intimidated by the climb. I’m at a place where I look at myself with just enough revulsion that I roll my eyes, mutter something rude about my body under my breath, and start clambering up once more. And immediately start to sweat.

But the thing is, I’m going to fail.

Yep. Again and again and again.

Why? Because I’m approaching the idea of a healthy lifestyle from a place of self-hatred. Who succeeds when that’s the motivation?!

I have to start approaching my lifestyle from a place of LOVE and RESPECT.

We just get the one life, y’all. The one body. That’s it. And whatever comes with it- acne, thin hair, bad genes, a predisposition to this or to that. Guess what? That’s never going to change. We can take acne medication and use rogaine, but we will never, ever, ever be able to change our genetics. What we have is what we have. So it’s not going to help anything by spending time and energy hating on ourselves.

I loooooove the way I feel when I choose healthy foods and when I spend time every day listening to my body and asking it to work a little harder. Maybe that’s a yoga class, maybe it’s a barre workout, maybe I’ll go on a nice run and enjoy a different view. I love it. I love all those things. Seriously life just feels better when my body feels better.

I’m sure it’s that way for you, too.

But we need to approach those hard choices (like should I eat this delicious salad with all these life-giving vegetables and that mouth-watering homemade Italian vinaigrette dressing or should I stop by McDonald’s and stuff a Big Mac down my face?) with the forethought of how our bodies will feel later. When we approach choices such as these from a place of love and affirmation, I really think we’ll be able to hit a home run. Because, honestly, those french fries NEVER taste as good as we remember they did. It’s all a mental game. I told myself just this weekend that YES, I neeeeed Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets and a chocolate chip cookie. First and last, they really really were not as good as I remember them being, and I also spend the entire night nauseated. Bleh. Not a fun way to spend a Saturday night.

But this morning, when I chose cheerios and fruit with a side of tons and tons of water, not only did I feel great about the choice I made, but I felt great physically, too. No gross chemicals or oil or grease, no hydrogenated this or treated that. And while cheerios still aren’t the best option, it was the better option when I compared it to my preference of a bagel with butter or cream cheese. So that’s like….a quintuple bonus! Feeling great about and because of small choices throughout the day. That one small choice led to a decision to head out for a run before work which I also felt totally jazzed about! (Even if it was a million degrees outside).

My problem (and I’ll wager yours, too) is that I have to stop approaching food and exercise as a punishment for poor lifestyle choices. I have to stop approaching them as a way of penance after I get to the place where I can’t stand my own body anymore. I’m never going to succeed that way. Believe me, I’ve tried! I’m sure you have, too.

So let’s all just take a deep breath and realize that our bodies are lovely. They were created to be exactly as they are, whatever shape they are. A mother’s stretched belly, a teen’s knobby knees, a little girl’s wispy hair, a grandfather’s wrinkled face. All so, so beautiful. Short, tall, fat, skinny, average, toned…. these are beautiful places to be. And once we start appreciating our bodies for what they are and what they allow us to do every day, we can start giving them the things they need to continue doing so. Bodies are amazing, you know. They will give and give and give even past the point of exhaustion, no matter what you ask, because that’s what they were designed to do. It’s time to start giving them the fuel to do the things we ask, rather than demanding things on empty.

I’m really just preaching to myself here.


this is our bossy face

My body has allowed me to travel to places, to endure pain, to grow tall, to lift heavy loads, to perform miraculous feats. I need to start treating it like the miracle it is, and embracing it for the wonder it was always meant to be. And from that place, I will be able to make wiser and healthier and better decisions, for a longer, healthier, happier life. Because as well all know, Healthy does, indeed, equal Happy. Happy bodies, happy minds, happy hearts.

I’ll share a favorite end-of-class mantra I teach in some of my yoga classes:

I’ll ask you to sit in easy, cross-legged position, with your eyes closed and your palms pressed together in a prayer position at the center of your heart. Sitting nice and tall to give your lungs room to breath, all your muscles are relaxed after a long class of hard work. I’ll ask you to sit in silence and be fully present, listening to your body tell you all the wonderful things it feels: that tension in the left side of your neck from typing at a computer all day is gone; your shoulders feel a little lower and heavier, slipping a little further from your ears, much more relaxed than at the beginning of class; even the spaces between your toes are sighing in relief, having soaked up all that intentional movement from today’s class. I ask you to take a moment and silently express gratitude- gratitude for your breath which comes and goes providing life without thought, and gratitude for your body, for allowing you to do all the things you do each and every day without question, without hesitation. Feel that gratitude deep down in your gut, in a place that can’t be torn from you. Embrace your body in all its flaws, its imperfections, all its less-than-beautiful areas. Appreciate your body for the things it does for you, whether you acknowledge it or not. Love your body from a place that wants to see it grow and live a long, healthy life. Remember what this day, what this moment feels like- what it means to truly have a love for yourself.

Freedom.

Namaste.

spider butt. or, what infections teach me about community

Last week I was bitten by a spider. Suuuper high up on my hamstring. It wasn’t a poisonous spider, it turns out, but it has caused some serious problems.

I noticed that my left leg was hurting on Thursday of last week and (because I’m a yoga teacher- hollllllaaaa) when I twisted, arched, and folded to see what the issue was, there was a swollen, raised circle about the size of a half dollar.

Hmmm.

Whatevs. It’s probably nothing. Remember last year in Albania? When one of my squad mates was bitten on her leg by something and had a huge red welt? They said it was no big deal and to just leave it alone, and in fact it did go away all by itself.

So ME TOO. I figured I would just leave it alone and it would go away. PLEASE GOD, LET IT GO AWAY.

Friday morning arrived and brought with it a serious amount of swelling, pain, and tripling in size of the redness. It was starting to look really yucky and it hurt quite a bit, so of course I reached out to the wide world of social media to see if we could all, collectively, figure out what was happening to me. At this point I didn’t know it was a spider bite, and there was a teensy weensy part of me that thought I legitimately could be housing an alien baby. I didn’t know. Social Media, help!!

The amount of people that reached out to me, that asked about my symptoms, that put me in touch with other people who were nurses or doctors or pretty much anyone in the medical profession, was astounding. Everyone was immediately concerned for me and a few people went waaaayyy out of their way to make sure I got taken care of. It was so overwhelming and so encouraging and I felt so loved and supported.

[I ended up having an infected spider bite and was on the receiving end of not-super-expensive antibiotics. Oh, and also MRSA. Which is kind of a big deal.]

By Sunday morning, though, even with the meds and ointment, it was so deeply infected and so very swollen that I couldn’t sleep, sit, stand, or walk without excruciating pain. It was unreal. That afternoon I lay on the couch trying not to cry, experiencing for the first time pain so intense I was nauseated. Within two hours I was visited by a highly-qualified medical professional who was also a member of my church who checked it out, diagnosed it, and launched into minor surgery on it. Without numbing medication.

It was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through.

And yet I didn’t care, because the pain from the bite alone (and it’s infection) was enough to make me beg for my leg to be amputated.  …I didn’t really want that, but in my hysteria I sure thought I did.

A little over an hour later and 95% of the infection had been pricked, sliced, squeezed, pressed, and otherwise tortured out of me. SHEW. I would never wish that on anyone. A.N.Y.O.N.E.

And now, two days later, the wound is still draining, the meds are working like a dream, and I’m finally starting to feel better. Still quite painful (because it’s black and blue from the procedure…still totally worth it), but I am well on my way to healing.

I tell you all of this for two reasons: (a) So you can all know what a Champion I am for enduring such torture, and (b) so I can share with you the biggest thing I learned this weekend.

Community.

It is vital.

It’s honestly what keeps us going.

Receiving messages from people who were genuinely concerned for me and my health was so boosting for me. I didn’t really think I would receive any feedback when I reached out to the wide world of social media, but I was seriously reminded of the gift that it can be when used properly. The whole body of Christ, from all over the country, reached out to me in order to help me find some healing through all kinds of giftings, whether by connecting me with nurses or doctors, or sympathizing with me, or sharing words of encouragement and prayer.

That is what we are meant to bring to this world, and to each other.

I wonder how much better life would be if we as Christians really stepped up into our role as friend. If we are truly called to love our neighbors as ourselves, why is this not how we react to all things? A friend recently shared with me about an online group whose sole purpose was to bless others by giving their things away. You could get online and offer something, or ask for something and if someone had it, it would be sent to you, no questions asked (except for “what’s your address?”). It wasn’t a Christian group. Just a group of people who wanted to bless someone else. People came and went from the group, tons of stuff changed hands, people got rid of stuff, and people received stuff. And much more deeply, I think some lives were changed in the balance.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really see this kind of stuff happening too often, even in the Christian circle. It makes me frustrated, and a little more than sad, that this isn’t simply the natural way we all live our lives, that it isn’t the way I live my life.

I realize that the changes I want to see in the world begin with myself making a change. But I’m also left wondering, if we all lived with such a Community- and Kingdom-minded perspective, how many lives could change for the better? How many people could be affected in a positive way if I simply started reaching out to people when they ask for something?

I asked for a little help and received a HUGE response of love. It filled me up. And in the end it helped me avoid an ungodly amount of medical expenses and an even more serious infection. The Body surrounded me just as I reached a breaking point and saved me from what I felt sure I was headed for- an inevitable pit of physical pain and financial/emotional despair.

So I’m going to make myself a challenge. You can join me, or encourage me along the journey, or maybe even scoff at my (perhaps a little-too-big) intentions. When someone asks for something, when someone reaches out for a hand in the darkness, instead of skimming over or pretending like I don’t see it or reminding myself I’m too busy/tired/whatever, I’m going to reach out and grab hold. I don’t know what it is I can offer, but I do know I can offer something. Maybe I don’t have all the knowledge in the world, but I can network, and encourage, and listen, and pray. And sometimes those are the most powerful catalysts for hope.

So here goes, and here’s hoping you join me in a world-wide campaign to spread hope, love, and a few less spider bite infections.

i just wanted clean skin!

My name is Andi… and I have adult onset acne.

That’s right.

I never struggled with acne when I was growing up. But the second I graduated from college? POW! Take that, Successful Adult Woman! How does it feel to be back in middle school- the RIGHT WAY?!

I like to think it has something to do with genetics… Isn’t that better? To be able to blame our families for stuff like this? “It’s not my fault, it’s just what I was given at birth.”

I like that solution.

But I guess if I really think about it, maybe it only has part to do with that, and part of it was all the chemicals I rubbed on my face all through college. It started when I was a freshman and was chosen by a talent agency to go to this huge convention in Florida where I would meet producers, directors, casting agents, modeling agencies, etc… and would have the opportunity to perform for them in categories like Sitcom and Spokesmodeling. For months before the convention, we all met routinely with the managers of our agency and went through all kinds of crazy workshops: how to walk on a runway, how to pose for different kinds of photography, how to cold read, etc… One of the workshops we attended was on creating a Clean Skin regimen. It was, as you can guess, all about creating a routine that kept pimples at bay- if you could stop them before they started, you won the war.

ok, if my face could look like her face, the war is definitely worth winning…

That was when I bought my first facial cleansing ointment. I think it was an apricot exfoliating face scrub or something that sounds like that. I went from having a naturally smooth, lovely face, to having 4 pimples overnight. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

I kept up with it for another 2 weeks, and rather than have these facial monstrosities disappear, they all seemed to get together, throw an inappropriate party (wink wink) and breed new ones.

Yuck.

So I threw out that nasty bottle of facial cleansing CRAP and went back to old faithful: a dumb old bar of unscented soap. Instant clearing of the acne.

I should have known then.

Fastforward a year or so and I, along with most of America, become enraptured by the Proactiv commercials. You mean Jessica Simpson had acne and Proactiv gave her the skin we see on tv and in magazines?? Sign me up, baby!

I order a membership. The stuff shows up on my doorstep. I dump the stuff all over my then-radiant skin.

Instant overnight acne. Only this time I legitimately look like someone who has had an serious allergic reaction to something fatal, and instead of dying, her face exploded. But I’m not one to quit and I thought to myself This is just my face cleansing itself of all the germs and bacteria under the top layer of skin. This is normal, this is what is supposed to be happening. I’ll stick with it and we’ll see.

Three months later the acne has grown nothing but worse, and I finally call up the customer service helpline and ask to have my account deleted (or whatever it is you say to make the pain go away). I spent a solid 20 minutes on the phone with a guy who was absolutely trying to convince me to stick with it and it’ll for sure go away.

Listen, buddy. My face looks like a pizza. Get off my back and get rid of my dang account. I don’t want to wear a paper bag over my head for all of eternity.

apparently the GC also struggled with this affliction

Finally convinced of my seriousness (and maybe some pms, too), he agrees that I can get rid of my account and won’t be sent any more crap (he had the audacity to call it “supplies”) and I wouldn’t be charged anymore.

Thanks.

It took another 3 months of using- yep- a bar of soap to clear up all the teenager-y from my face. And I moved on.

Or so I thought.

Over the next several years I would be completely taken in by pretty labels, fun commercials, and friends who thought they had the answer to acne issues so they use XYZ products and they TOTALLY WORK.

I am SUCH a consumer

I did come across the Mary Kay TimeWise stuff once a few years back. And surprisingly it made my skin feel like silk. I loved it. And the best part? It WORKED.

But then I left for the World Race. A full eleven months without products or clean water. Or sometimes even any water at all! When I came back home, I thought, you know what? I need to get me some of that Mary Kay glory! It made my skin feel like it was made of liquid glass…but in a good way.

So I got some more stuff…. and I used the stuff…. and on came the acne. This time acne that lasted. This stuff clung to my chin and my cheeks and my forehead like it was MRSA on a power trip. It was NOT about to hit the road.

After using every ounce of my travel-sized facial cleanser, I came to a decision: I am allergic to clean skin.

Just kidding!

I have decided that, just like my mom and grandmother have always, always told me: the only thing that will clean and protect my skin is an ordinary dang bar of unscented dial soap. I started using one about a week ago and my skin is GLOWING. And not in a radioactive serves-you-right-for-using-other-stuff kind of way; but an actual, honest-to-goodness, I’m-an-adult-let’s-start-having-nice-skin kind of way. I’m proclaiming it to you all now: it’s just soap for me!

And to all those of you who struggle with the unmentionably embarrassing acne-after-adulthood, I just want to encourage you: there is hope. Maybe just try a bar of soap for awhile? We’ve tried just about everything else under the sun. Maybe all those pioneers in the 1800’s were right: all you need are the basics. Everything else is just a chemical.

Let’s hear three cheers for clean skin!

DOWN WITH ACNE

primal rhythm

I’ve been experiencing some really crazy sleep patterns for about the last week or so. I keep attributing all my body’s weird issues to lingering effects of a year spent overseas. But maybe it’s not. Or, at least, maybe that’s only part of it.

I’ve been going Dairy/Gluten/Yeast free since New Years (with the rare-but-occasional girly meltdowns into chocolate). I’ve also been supplementing my diet with multivitamins, oregano extract (blech), olive leaf extract, and a yeast cleanse in order to get my body back under control. I really prefer homeopathic and natural path remedies to illnesses or physical issues, so I’ve found that diet control and body cleansing really work for me. My hippie roomie Mary Alice also made me a vial of different essential oils that, when combined altogether, make for a grounding, calming scent that you rub on the soles of your feet, on your heart and cervical spine, and the insides of your wrists before bedtime. It’s called “Peaceful Child” and was a recipe created by a woman whose son had Tourette’s and Oppositional Defiant Disorder and nothing else would ease his stress. It’s also helpful for people who suffer from PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, Autism, and a variety of other restless neurological issues. It’s a totally organic, non-chemical-laden, homeopathic way to deal with what I believe I’m dealing with: a strange form of insomnia.

Here’s what’s been happening: I usually get into bed around 10 pm, maybe a little earlier, maybe a little later. I read a book until I get sleepy, which usually takes about 20 minutes, and then I fall into a blissful coma, certain that I won’t be waking until morning. Around 2 am, every morning, my body wakes up with joy and enthusiasm. Good morning, world! I am here!

It’s not a pleasant experience, let me tell you. I struggle to stay in bed with my eyes closed, and to quiet my mind in order to force myself back to sleep. Anytime between 4 and 5 is usually when I fall back asleep, and then I oversleep. Before these episodes started I was usually up-and-at-em without an alarm between 5 and 7 am, and I liked that very much. Now with these nasty wake-up sessions, I’m usually finding myself awake between 8 and 8:30. Which is dumb, and my day begins by feeling already wasted. This has been going on for a little more than a week now.

even though i live in one of these at night... thanks, world race
even though i live in one of these at night…       thanks, world race

So what’s wrong with me? What’s up with my body being all “Let’s wake up at a weird time and then never go back to bed??”

Mary Alice thinks she has come up with the answer. She read an article awhile ago about “first sleep” and “second sleep”. I actually found it this afternoon: What “first sleep” and “second sleep” can do for your mood. I also Wikipedia’d it.

The former article talks about the primal circadian rhythms that the human body is naturally supposed to abide by and what happens when we don’t. Both articles state that humans should fall asleep with the sun, wake up nearish to midnight, stay awake for an hour or two doing quiet, relaxing activities such as journaling, meditating, or praying, and then fall back asleep until the sun rises. They say that this particular way of sleeping “probably played a large role in helping people to regulate stress naturally.” Which sounds fabulous to me!

So maybe there isn’t something really wrong with my body. Maybe there is something really right. After spending the last 5 months of the World Race with little and definitely unreliable electricity, a nutrient-poor diet, and tons of sunlight, coming home to a lack of sunlight but tons of artificial lighting, noisy and distracting television, internet, and heavy food choices makes for a restless Central Nervous System. Also while being on the Race I never had to worry about what was next. I may have wanted to know all the time, but I wasn’t searching for a job or wondering how we would pay the bills. Now those things are a legitimate reality. So on top of crossing multiple time zones, moving into permanent winter with a record-making amount of snow fall and little sunlight, attempting to find a job, pay bills, and buy food, perhaps my body is simply trying to do what my mind has been struggling to do: find a natural way to deal with stress. For my mind it’s homeopathic remedies. For my body it’s finding a way back to a primal sleeping/wakefulness rhythm. So maybe I’ll embrace this new sleep pattern and use the waking time to draw a little closer to Jesus, maybe do a little yoga, maybe journal out some feelings. Maybe I don’t mind this new-found extra time.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

doesn't bedtime look appetizing?
doesn’t bedtime look appetizing, though? i stole this from the internets…

an article i read today

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

This article has been copied verbatim from http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/06/i-certainly-dont-want-to-teach-you-yoga/. Please check it out and give your love and support. This is one of the most breathtaking and loveliest articles about yoga I’ve ever read, so I invite you to join me in sharing a spirit of love and goodwill. Enjoy:

I like people—I love people—but on certain days, I don’t want to see people, and today I don’t want to teach yoga.

I wouldn’t say I’m a complete introvert. But on certain days,
I want to be under something soft.
I want to observe and I want only to listen.
I love you, I do,
But on certain days
I don’t want to touch you,
I don’t want to talk to you,
I don’t even really want to see you and
I certainly don’t want to teach you yoga.

When I started teaching, this freedom to hide, to crawl under, slide behind, to take the back door, side door, in and out—anything but the front door—all changed.
On days I want to hide, I have to show up. I have to squeeze into something relatively small and tight. I have to step into a room with an entire wall of mirrors and turn the temperature up high so that what is small and tight becomes smaller and tighter.
I have to arrive not fashionably late but 30 minutes early—the first to arrive at the party I don’t even want to be at. I have to arrive early, not as an anonymous guest or a friend of a friend, but a generous host.
See, my job is to make sure everything is ready. The room is ready, the lights are ready, the temperature is ready, the props are ready and then I have to stand by the entrance way and find a way to smile and greet all those people I might not want to see today because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is about connecting.
And when I see the brunette with the high pony who walked out on me in the middle of savasana last Sunday, I will greet her just the same as the rest. I will greet her and I will stand tall and breathe when I do it because, if I’m going to lead a group of students through a series of backbends, I better learn to stand tall and offer you a hair elastic band even though you made me cry because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is about connecting even in the unpleasant moments. 
And when I walk into a room with an entire wall of mirrors I will look into my own eyes when I talk about drishti. I will look into my own eyes even when I ate chocolate cake for breakfast and skipped meditation to look up all my ex-boyfriends and all my ex-boyfriends girlfriends on Facebook because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is an honest practice.
And when you lift your foot higher than it needs to be in tree, I will find my vrksanana. I will keep my left toes on the earth and my hip-bones square to the mirror and I will connect to what is beneath me even though everything feels like water because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is finding the courage to lead, even when you want to follow.
And when I see your hips lifted in child’s pose, I will offer you an adjustment. I will place my palms on your low back on an inhale and I will press down on an exhale. I will sync my breath with yours, your breath with mine, and I will be taken out of my own silly cycle of too many thoughts for a minute because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is about something bigger than the physical body.
And after we finish Kapalabhati I will invite you to seal your practice. And when you seal your practice, I will seal mine by thanking the earth for every one of you. And I will send you love and I will send a little more to you, brunette with the high pony because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is about letting go.
And when I walk out the door and leave you in savasana, I will resist the urge to check my phone within the first 30 seconds. And when I’m cold and I wrap myself in a blue towel, I will resist the urge to put the towel over my my whole head. I will resist the urge to run after sharing something vulnerable. I will instead drape the towel over my shoulders and I will wear it more like a blue cape and I will invite you to sit and have tea with me because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is a courageous practice.
And when you sit with me and tell me that class was special I will resist the urge to deflect the comment by complimenting you on your very exciting pink tank-top. I will meet your gaze and because my pores are wide open. I will allow the gratitude to enter every cell of my body because, as much as yoga is about giving… yoga is about learning to receive.
And after I hear you, I will stand there in a blue-towel cape, a little bit proud. Because after 60 minutes of teaching I will see each student and notice the difference in them from when they first came in.
I will see them and I will become less aware of what is small and tight and stuck to me and more of aware of what is big and round and bigger than me and I will be reminded that… this practice isn’t about me.

As as soon as I’m reminded of this, I want to disappear
A little less.

resolution may: physical health

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

I’m going to say this quickly, before my courage, motivation, and will-power abandon me.  My resolution for the month of May will be to work out 5 days a week, and if I work out a 6th day, I’ll reward myself with something (other than food). And that will be the only reward I get, because working out every day should be part of my lifestyle, not an occasional activity meriting a reward.

I’ve been really neglecting my physical health lately. Bearing the image of God, and being the abiding place of His Holy Spirit, I need to be more mindful of my body, and the things I’m allowing to “nourish” it. I’m starting with exercise, because for me- good habits beget good habits. It’s much easier for me to choose healthy meals and snacks when I know my body needs enough of the right kind of fuel to not just get through a day, but get through a workout.  Perhaps next month I will re-visit only making healthy food choices, or perhaps that will trickle in during this month of intentional exercise.  I know I attempted this in February, only to end the month with a severe sinus infection. Surprisingly enough, today is the first day of May AND the first day of a NEW sinus infection. But we press on anyway!

Now that this statement is public, I must hold myself to it, so…

Here’s to a month of being reminded of the importance of attention to my body and physical health!

my first 5K!

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

This morning I ran my first official 5K.  It was for EKU’s Homecoming, and it was incredible.  The day didn’t start out well, however.

I woke up super early, which was unfortunate since I didn’t get to sleep until late the night before.  When I woke up, however, the sun was streaming through my window…all signs pointing toward greatness.  I was encouraged to walk to the registration area, since the road might be closed due to the upcoming parade (following directly after the start of the 5K). So I walked.  And walked.  And walked and walked and walked.  Speedily.  We aren’t talking leisurely stroll.  I had somewhere to be!  Nearly a mile and a half later, I finally get there.  “Is this where we pick up our numbers for the 5K?”  The reply: “No, sorry.  It’s at the other gym.”  AWESOME.  I am not happy.  I’m really, really frustrated, and really, really concerned that I’m going to be too tired to finish the run.

But after another quarter mile walk, I arrive at the actual registration site, get my number and my sweet shirt, and run downstairs to the locker rooms to change. Well…the shirt was a medium. In most cases this is no problem, because shirts run small usually.  However, this particular shirt was HUGE.  Absolutely enormous.  It actually looked like a dress.  So, I’m already tired AND I’m running in a dress.  This stinks.  Luckily, my running buddy Casey is THE most selfless, caring, considerate person on the planet and graciously offered her small shirt in exchange for my medium.  Realizing how selfish this is of me to accept, I do so anyway, under her encouragement that she wouldn’t wear the shirt after today anyway (yeah right, Casey…but you’re too incredible to let me feel bad, so you lie anyway. Lovely girl).

So finally we both arrive at the starting line (another quarter mile away), to be greeted by tons of friends, smiles, and well-wishers. We get a few minutes of quick stretching in, and the race is on!  I didn’t realize we would be running on the roads, and in front of a parade, so the entire town had filed out to watch the whole thing.  We ran past hundreds and hundreds of people, all clapping and cheering.  It was really encouraging, and somewhat distracting, and I got a little more winded in the first mile and a half than I would have liked.  But it was really cool to run in front of a crowd, and to hear people cheering us on.  Unexpected, and really official-feeling.

We ran up SO MANY HILLS. And they were STEEP.  It was rough.  I really hoped to finish the run without walking at all, but around the mile and 3/4 mark, when we were literally running up the side of Mount Everest, I needed a break.  I made it to the top, and then Casey and I walked (quickly) for a few seconds so I could catch my breath.  I felt a little disappointed, but then I thought of the 2 miles I speed-walked directly before the race and I let that comfort me a little.

Casey and I walked twice more, for a very short amount of time, and finished the run in 37:07.  Not too bad considering.  We were greeted with water and oranges, and high fives all around from friends who finished before us.  It was an incredible experience.  I’m so grateful I had the opportunity and courage to participate.  It was a big step for me, and I’m so thankful to have friends who can encourage and push me past where I think I can go.  What a day.

sick.

originally posted on September 9, 2011 at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

I’ve been sick for only 3 days…and they’ve been the longest 3 days of this year.  It started with a really sore throat, dizziness, and lymph nodes so swollen I was acutely aware of how they hated me.  It then became a full-on attack from my sinus cavities, attempting to see which side could get more gloomy and agitated.  I’ve slept 23 hours in the last 2 days, thanks to my SWEET medicine that only cost $4, but every day I wake up feeling foggy and sluggish.  Not the best way to wake up, but at least I have been able to sleep through most of the fevers.  I’ve also been SUPER faithful to my neti pot, a kriya I swear by. My dear friend Megan brought me Wellness Tea with echinacea last night, and it both warmed my throat and my soul.

I’m hoping to nip this sickness in the bud in the next day or two.  In the past when I have been sick, it’s lasted months.  I don’t often get sick, but when I do it’s terrible.  I haven’t practiced many healthy lifestyle behaviors in my past, so I’m hoping that with all my new-found wellness techniques I can take care of this sickness much quicker than in the past.  Not only because sickness, in general, sucks, but because my Ayurvedic fall detox begins next Monday and I’d like to be healthy while I practice this.  Further, I’ve been teaching my best friend how to ballroom dance so she can go out with me on weekends.  I know how very much she’s been looking forward to going dancing, and I know how much I enjoy it myself, so I really need to be feeling great soon so we can go.

Here’s to health and happiness!

Currently listening to: The Civil Wars, Pandora Radio Station