A Year Later

It’s been a full years since the completion of the Get Your Glow yoga challenge. 365 days, and 2 weeks.

Honestly – it feels like it’s been both longer and shorter than that. My life changed irrevocably, that goes without saying. It hasn’t always been easy – somedays, it’s been a pain in my nerdy ass to maintain some of the lessons that I learned over that 8 week period. So, it feels like a good time to check in.

A year later

Food –I still maintain a mostly-vegan diet. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and have maintained using other forms of protein (chickpeas, looking at you here). I’m not super strict about the lifestyle, but I do try to maintain it. Reason being – my body feels way better without a lot of meat in it. My guts works better without having to digest meat, my skin feels better, my whole body feels good. That said, still can’t give up the cheese. My sugar addiction is back in full force, which I loathe. I find myself craving it after almost every single meal, minus breakfast (my theory about that – I have fruit in every breakfast, whether I’m having a green smoothie or fruit and yoghurt, so I get a natural sugar fix there), but most days I can ignore the cravings. Coffee – also back in my life daily. Can I blame my 530AM wakeups to be out the door for 630? Oh, and my overall attitude towards getting a good night’s sleep. Which, lemme tell you, is slightly piss poor.

Maintain a yoga practice – mostly, sometimes. Given that I’m still a karma yoga, I am guaranteed one practice a week. I’ve been good over the last month, and generally practice twice a week at Noorish, and once at home to stretch out my back. That said, I no longer practice 5 days a week. Why? Busy, plain and simple. Which, in my mind, is a crappy excuse for how amazing a multi-practice week made me feel. I’ve talked to my “manager” and friend at the yoga studio about it – I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who has a free pass, who doesn’t come all the time. Still. I want to get better at this whole multiple classes in a week thing again. I miss my practice so much.

Meditation – I meditate for at least 20 minutes daily. Every single day, I get mindful and still and focus on my breath or a mantra and I love this. Love love love this.

Permission – in my ensuite bathroom, I have a sticky on my mirror that reads “Give yourself permission”. Every morning after my shower, as I do my hair and my makeup, I read this note to myself. I am still learning to give myself permission. I have written about my mean girl, and how hard I need to fight not to bash myself – and I have found that I need a daily reminder to be gentle. I need to remind myself that it’s okay to take time for myself – to have a night off, to demand that I have time to meal plan and grocery shop, to go to yoga rather for a beer with a friend. I have even learned to be gentle if I slip – if I have homemade pizza rather than salad, if I’m having a bad day and would like something sweet – I’m not mean to myself any longer. Which, by the way, feels absolutely and utterly astounding. I always thought I loved myself – this challenge showed me the way to really, really loving myself. One big by-product of this permission (and something I wrote about last) is the ability to be authentic and vulnerable, even though it scares me. The challenge gave me permission to be me – something that I needed more than anything.

I am so hyper aware that my journey so far in my life has shaped me into this perfectly lovely yet wounded creature. Now more than ever, I identify with this:

Kintsukuroi

There have been a lot of changes since my GYGC – both good and bad. New Job became Hell Job, Dream Job fell into my lap, Karma Yoga takes up my Thursdays, JM came back into my life and left again, I purchased a home and moved my life there, joined a Board, left a Board, started getting into better shape, joined the Shakespeare Board, spent a summer volunteering, gave up on dating, created some amazing friendships, lost some friendships, started dating again (with amazing and exciting results). All up, my life is pretty darn astounding. I have a great job that challenges me, I have amazing friends and family, I have a home I’m proud of. A lot of this, and I truly believe this – is because I found a new shiny path. A path forged in the yoga studio, and in my kitchen.

Einstein (man I love that guy!) may have said it best:

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

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The aftermath, the green grass & the bravery that follows.

Af-ter-math (noun). The consequences or aftereffects of a significant unpleasant event, or new grass growing after mowing or harvest.

Interestingly enough, both definitions feel true at this moment in my life. I have noticed that the last two years of my life (this ended in January 2015) have been one unpleasant event after another- when I broke my heart, my body broke at the same time (perhaps my lesson for trying to literally outrun a broken heart). So I’m dealing with stress fractures in my feet (goodbye, high heels), painful physio sessions (who knew that a knee injury could blow up your ankles, hips, and pelvis?), visits to specialists… ugh. I have one more appointment this year, and physio sessions until who knows when (although, I’ll admit the exercises from the physio are rather… progressive). But, since my heart is all healed up, I have nothing but hope (and sheer determination) for the body to follow.

The good part of the defintion – the new grass. The new growth, the new beginning.

It’s been a little more than a month since the Get Your Glow On Challenge has ended. I won a free month of yoga to Noorish for my efforts, and have been attending as often as I can. I also signed up to be a karma yogi – I’ll be volunteering one night a week and getting free unlimited yoga in return. Which is SO EXCITING!!!! I can’t say enough good things about that studio, and how happy my heart is as soon as I walk in the door. Also, free yoga! At my happy place!!

I have to admit, though – I miss the Challenge. I miss the weekly calls, I miss the comradery of the people pushing to hold poses, fighting to make all of the classes. I’ve found that the little voices that I gained during the challenge have been silenced slightly, that it’s easier to succumb to the cravings (especially for a cold beer on hot days. Mmmmmm cold patio beer). That said – the sweet little voice who reminds me that I’m choosing convenience over health is still loud, and is there every single day.

One of the hardest parts of being done the Challenge, though, is the dating. Because I set a deadline to start dating as soon as the challenge was over – I am spending time with people who don’t understand this new space I’m in. While they think it’s awesome that I am so invested to my practice, they also seem to think that it’s secondary. That I will pick them over my practice. When I tell someone that I can’t see him because I have yoga, I’m often met with stunned silence. So there is that. However, there is also this:

yes

I have learned how to stand up for my practice, and by extension, myself. And last night, after a particularly delicious dinner with some of my favourite humans, I went to yoga. And it was glorious. As I was standing there balancing, I’m sure I could hear my heart singing – I was overwhelmed by love and respect for this little vessel, and so happy that I have learned how to put myself first. I still can’t say enough good things about Noorish, and the GYGC. I can’t believe how happy I am. And how much I really love myself – my body is getting stronger and glowing more, my mind is able to deal with the things that used to make me panic. Mission Self Love is solidly under way.

This whole journey is something that I wish I would have taken when I was at the last job – when I was dealing with almost daily panic attacks, when I was not sleeping, when my relationships with my loved ones and myself were crumbling around me. I wonder what would be different if I had changed my life years ago. I fought my fate for so long – fought myself, fought the love in my life.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting someone who made me think about fate a little differently. I don’t really remember a lot of what was discussed over the two days I was around him (I’ll add here that I have never met someone who made me so nervous I literally COULDN’T meet his eyes, even though I wanted to. Whoa. That has never happened to me, ever. There was also blushing. Lots of blushing. FFS.), but I recall our quick discussion about fate. He is a fatalist – everything happens because that’s the way it was destined to, and where you are in your life is because IT WAS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN.

There have been moments since I finished the Challenge that it would have been easy to slide back into old habits, into what I once saw as my fate. Moments were it would have been easier to stay in bed over getting up to go to yoga. Days that lunch would be easier purchased than made at night. I had a panic attack at the new job one memorable day – I can’t tell you how easy it would have been to surrender that day. How simple it would be to succumb to my addictions – back to coffee every day, back to processed sugar. It would be infinitely easier than fighting for myself.

I so disagree that fate happens to us. I do not believe in destiny. I am here. In this room. In this body. Living this journey. And I’m here because I paved this road, brick by brick, all by myself (and with help from the people I love, and trust, the most). I believe that we are given infinite choices – we have every single possibility available to us. And we get to choose our own adventures. I am sitting in this room because I chose to move to Perth, chose to go back to university for a diploma, chose the law firm, chose the man I loved more than life, chose to break my heart, chose to fight for my happiness, chose to run injured, chose to leave the international corporate route for local not-for-profit, chose to learn to love myself. I choose. I will always choose. I truly believe that you get to pick your fate, if you’re brave enough to fight for it and strong enough to never give up. After meeting this man, I can say that I looked at the idea of fate as it relates to my life in this very moment. I meditated on it, lots.

As Merida said: “Some say our destiny is tied to the land, as much a part of us as we are of it. Others say fate is woven together like a cloth, so that one’s destiny intertwines with many others. It’s the one thing we search for, or fight to change. Some never find it. But there are some who are led…There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.”

And yes. I just quoted a Disney Princess.

Happy Wednesday. Remember to love and honour yourself today.

The sweetness in catharsis

I got lucky a few years ago. Really, really lucky.

I lived in Western Australia briefly, and when I decided to move on, I flew to Broome for a weekend with a friend, and said goodbye to him in the sunset. From Broome, I took a tour through the Kimberley to Darwin. It was the last tour before the wet season, and it was an astounding, hot, beautiful tour. I got to go places that few humans go, I went skinny dipping in pools in the middle of the desert, slept under an indescribable sky. I even got to see Purnululu National Park, a place that we have all seen in photos, but few ever get to see in person (mainly because it’s a pain in the ass to get to, super sacred and protected, not to mention again a huge pain in the ass to get to). At the end, I ended up in Darwin, in the Northern Territory. I never meant to go there, at least, I never planned on it before I left Canada. It’s funny where life takes you, sometimes.

The Bungle Bungles, Purnululu National Park, Western Australia

The Bungle Bungles, Purnululu National Park, Western Australia

IMG_1659

Sunset before the storm, Darwin NT

Anyways. Darwin is beautiful in its own way. It’s advised that you don’t go in the water (think deadly jellyfish and sharks, plus saltwater crocodiles), it’s wildly hot and humid, but it’s beautiful. Really unique and diverse. One night, I decided to take myself on a date – I went on a sunset cruise on a pearl lugger. We had bubbles, tried some raw clam meat, watched the city slowly change as night fell. When we arrived back to the harbour, however, a storm started to brew.

This storm – it was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. I could feel it surrounding me. My hair, naturally wavy, was already a mass of curls from the sea and the wind – but the electric power of this storm was almost lifting my hair away from my head, like I was standing in a giant plasma globe. I was about two kilometers away from my hostel (and the street of bars and restaurants that the hostel was located on), and I was wearing an antique silk skirt – something I didn’t want to get wet. So I started walking quickly, and then running, to escape the storm. Night had fallen, and I couldn’t see the stars. The storm had surrounded Darwin, and I literally managed to get to the street, a few doors away from the hostel, and I ducked into a bar just as the sky opened. The rain fell heavily, like Zeus had just kicked over all of the buckets of heaven in a drunken rage. There wasn’t a slow start – there was electricity, and then the sky literally opened. I just made it! I congratulated myself, and turned to go to the bar for a drink. Only every single person who was working there, was headed out the door. They pushed past me, eager to get into the storm, fighting to stand in the pouring rain.

So what do the people of Darwin do when the rain comes? They race into it, falling over their feet to get into the torrential downpour. They scream at the sky, exalting in the cool relief of the water. They dance, they laugh, they worship the feeling of the rain on their hands, and fall to their knees with faces upturned. They haven’t seen rain in months, you bet your ass that whatever they were doing – remember, I was in the entrance of a bar! – can wait. Tourists gaped at first, looking out windows that had been left open, or doors where we had hidden from the rain. We didn’t wait very long to join in the celebration, though. Antique skirt be damned – I danced too. (Sidenote- I still have the skirt. It lasted the night, although it didn’t dry out for a few days)

That night was one of the most elemental of my life, and something that I remember all of the details of. I’d never witnessed a celebration so ancient, so cathartic. It’s definitely one of the moments in my life that I believe, with my whole self, that God (or Buddha or Allah or Shihva – take your deity, because they are all one and the same in my book) was present as we danced in the rain.

There have been a few moments like that – where I’m certain that I’m supposed to be in that particular moment. Reflecting right now – a lot of those moments have included dancing. But, one of the most freeing and cathartic experiences of my life has just finished. I am so certain that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

8 weeks. 56 days of eating clean, with minimal gluten, sugar, dairy, caffeine, and meat. 5 days a week in the kiva, turning into 40 yoga classes, spanning from really traditional to Western, from nidra to dance temple. I have spent over 56 hours meditating, sitting in silence with just myself. I have opened myself to the universe, and wrestled with all manner of demons. JM, and how much I miss him, and how much I hate missing him. My inner mean girl. My irrational worry about being judged, and how people view me. My fears and struggles, my joys and highs – all have been faced. I have written more than I have in years, both by hand and on this computer. But most of all – I feel joyous. I feel light, and blissed right out, and energetic. I’m still surprised that my need to weep is from sheer happiness. I don’t remember being this happy. Strangers are commenting on how I glow, my friends are proud of this accomplishment. This challenge has been one of the greatest experiences of my life – I cannot express how happy I am that I have been forced to look at my demons, head on. I am thrilled to have sat in silence and fought with myself, forced to love all of the parts of myself – parts I am not proud of, parts that I am ashamed of, and scared of.

I spent the last 2 years of my life running. Running from my broken heart, running from my anxiety, running from feeling alone and lonely. I was running from a storm I felt all of the time, one that threatened to drown me. This challenge…. man.

I am no longer running from the storm. I am dancing in the rain.

I want to be happy. I want to be healthy.

I want to be happy. I want to be healthy.

My mantra, every day, for the last 8 weeks. Week 8 officially started today, and every day, at least once a day, I remind myself that I want to be happy. I want to be healthy. Isn’t it strange – something that I know that I want, more than anything, I need to remind myself of.

More often than not, there is someone else keeping me from my goals of happiness and health. I call her the inner mean girl. She is me, or least part of me. She’s always present, hissing the things that I fear most into my ears. When I found out that a friend betrayed me recently, the mean girl leaned in and hissed that it was true, the things that my friend was saying. That I was obnoxious and no one really liked me, and I was merely tolerable. The mean girl curls into bed with me, some nights, wraps her arms around me, and reminds me that the other pillow is empty – that, because of me, the other pillow will always be empty. Her whispers keep me up all night, forcing me to remember the shape that used to lay there. She doesn’t care that it makes me cry. The mean girl reminds me that I’m ugly, even though I know that I’m not. She tells that I’m a failure, even though the proof is in the pudding that I’m absolutely not. She reminds me that I’m a shitty daughter, a horrible sister, even though I know in the deepest part of me that I’m neither. She laughs as she tells me that I’ll likely be alone forever. She is my Gollum, my Dark Phoenix, my anxiety, my depression.

I fucking hate my inner mean girl.

The last 8 weeks have been, in a word, illuminating. I have never felt so healthy, or so happy. The best part is that the bitchy, terrible monster of a mean girl has been all but vanquished. She sometimes tries to crawl into bed with me. She still reminds me that I’m worthless, that sugar or ordering take out will make me feel better after the end of a long hard day. The most invaluable part of this challenge has been silencing her.

For example. Last week was a long one. A big event, lots of meetings, a lunch with the CEO, and all I wanted to do Friday night was order take out and watch a movie. I knew I wanted to sleep early, because my parents were coming in. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I really didn’t. I could feel her stir and wake – urging me to change into pajamas and get comfortable. Telling me that I would get up early and hit a early yoga session. She reminded me that my knee, my old arthritic knee was already aching – why go to dance temple and make it more sore?

I knew that if I agreed, if I slipped into old habits, I would immediately regret it. So, I literally marched up the stairs, got my yoga clothes, and walked back into the living room. I literally chased my roommate out the door (he made the mistake of telling me that he really wanted to hit the gym) as I pulled my things together. I chased him out of the house, locked the door behind us, and took myself out for a salad. After reading a delicious novel over salad and mint tea, I went to dance temple. The mean girl didn’t say anything. Although once I came home, I iced my knee (and yes, really. I’m 30 something and have arthritis in my left knee. How stupid is that?) and watched a movie in bed. While having tea, of course.

And you know what? That stupid jerk didn’t say a peep. She shut up as soon as I locked the door behind me, and didn’t come out all night. I danced all night at dance temple, and I laughed and sang and danced and felt the universe start shifting in me. Do you know that moment? It happens sometimes when I’m dancing – usually, when I’m dancing with no other reason to dance. I feel rooted to the earth, and as infinite as the universe. I love that feeling – I get it almost every time I go to dance temple. In those moments, I feel like I’m invincible.

After 8 weeks of daily meditation, and almost daily yoga, I have a theory about this mean girl. The days that you are truly open, the days that you break your heart open and let everything in, are the days that you are going to have a hard time. Those are the days that you are inviting the good and the bad in, the days that you’re remembering your love and your loss, your mistakes and your glories. When you decide to let the universe have your way with you, the universe is going to make you face everything – not just the bright shiny parts. She’s always been there – but the times that she’s been strongest is when I’m struggling to get past her. This bitch holds me down as I fight to breathe, fight to shine, fight to be happy and healthy. As Liz Gilbert put it – I’m wrestling alligators. I’m fighting against my past, against my ego, against this mean girl – because all I want is to be happy, and to be healthy.

And I am. And I’m only going to get better, baby. And since I’m pulling a lot of this journey from Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” (oh hush. Reading that book was like finding a piece of my soul. I adore her.), I’m going to close this down with a few quotes about happiness and the search for it. I have the bit about my treasure on my mirror. Because I have to remember that I already have all of the keys – I just need to do the work to find the door.

“We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t you will eat away your innate contentment. It’s easy enough to pray when you’re in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments.”

I’m doing a handstand!

Have you ever heard of Jason Segel?

No? Freaks and Geeks? Most of Jude Apatow’s films? I Love You, Man? The Muppets? How I Met Your Mother?

I adore Jason – in everything he does. He seems genuine, and kind. I love the freckles and moles on him, and  the general non-Hollywood look to him. And how he makes himself look a little silly (like how he got more naked in every Jude Apatow film he did, until it culminated in a full frontal scene), but always sweet. My favourite film of his is Forgetting Sarah Marshall – not for the full frontal, but his bumbling breakup and his puppet show. The premise is simple – Jason loved a girl, she dumped him, he goes on vacation to Hawaii, runs into said love and her new man, chaos ensues. If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly recommend it.

Lately, there is one scene from that movie that has been sticking in my head.

Yep. Doing yoga next to his ex girl, clearly not fitting in (and being ridiculed the whole time), trying something new, succeeding, and declaring (loudly) – “I’m doing a handstand, mother fucka!”

That’s kind of what my life feels like these days – a series of celebratory “GUESS WHAT” moments. I’m fairly certain, actually, that I’ve accosted my roommate with a statement just like Jason’s this past week – “Guess what, mother fucka!” I couldn’t have guessed that I’d be this happy, ever. I have gone from taking panto to try to stop a panic attack, to taking panto to stop crying from sheer joy. So I wanted to share some of the latest “Guess what!” moments, simply because it’s Friday.

I can do a sideplank in yoga!
I started looking at condos!
I got invited to a women in leadership event by my CEO!
I can see my collarbones!
I ran for the bus the other day, and I’ve lost enough weight and inches that I had to hold my pants up as I ran, because I am fairly certain I managed to flash a bunch of kids waiting for the school bus my Wonder Woman underoos before I caught my pants!
I had a muffin versus coffee battle at work, and ended up laughing so hard that my mascara ran!
I’ve been (mostly) gluten, sugar, alcohol, and dairy free for 6 weeks on Sunday!
I’m joining Noorish as a member at the end of this challenge, because I love it so much that I can’t imagine my life without yoga “every damn day!”
I’m President of a Board of Directors for a not-for-profit arts society, and we hurdled something so big that I thought it would tear me apart – and I got a pile of new friends instead!
I’ve been dancing in silence in a room full of strangers on Friday nights, and the first time it happened I felt so free that I burst into tears when I got home.
I really like green smoothies for breakfast!

 

So, no handstands. No being strong enough to do yoga next to my ex love. But. I have found a better love.

I’m in love with my life, mother fucka. And happier than I could ever imagine.

Raise your vibration

So.

I’ve been quiet. I don’t mean to be. I tend to be one of those humans who works without stopping, being busy without any thought or meaning to it, and then looks up and two months has flown by. I also tend to be quiet when I’m not entirely certain what to say, alternatively I don’t say anything because I’m afraid of losing control of what comes from me. A great example – when I’m really upset, I don’t make a sound, for fear of angry tears following. This latest stint of silence, though, has been because of something wonderful. Something earth shaking, something elemental and beautiful and shiny.

It started with the New Job – which has had a domino effect on my life. I haven’t had a panic attack since November. I started eating better, and sleeping better. I found I wanted to drink endless water, and dance while getting ready in the morning. I am happy – happier than I remember being in a very, very long time. I’m surrounded by amazing, educated, creative people who inspire me. I found myself smiling more, and being told how much happier I seem. My friend REC pointed out that my forehead, once the centre of my tension, was completely smooth. Without seeing me for months, my friend was able to point out the difference in moments. I’m reading more than I have in years – so far the book a week plan has been a huge success. As the new job gets busier and busier, I get happier and happier. So with this effect, I decided to get my own planets in order. My favourite yoga studio advertised an 8 week “Get Your Glow On” challenge. Unlimited yoga, weekly meetings with a nutritionist. Basically a rewind button. I feel like I’ve done a lot of damage to my body, and this challenge, mixed with all of the happy goodness from the rest of my life – can really help me reset some of it.

So, for the last 4 weeks, and the next 4 weeks, I’ll be in the kiva at least 5 days a week. Getting back down to my bones, feeling my muscles stretch and grow again. Taking everything out on the mat. I’ve been spending at least 30 minutes a day meditating, and at least an hour a week creating something – writing for myself, or for this space, or for another free lance project that I’ve been working on for about 5 years. Maybe I’ll finally dig into writing a novel. I’ll be checking in with my nutritionist for sure once a week, and eating cleaner than I have in a very long time. And by clean, I mean gluten and sugar free, with a little bit of “how dairy free can I go” (which, I have to admit, has been easier than I expected). There will be lots of tea, lots of chanting, hopefully lots of laughs and new friends.

So far, this Get Your Glow On Challenge has been intense. The sugar withdrawal was so hard – I get migraines when I do it. Since I also started a class at the beginning of my challenge, I was literally away from my house 7 days a week, so I’ve been able to experience all sorts of yoga that I’ve never done before. Said experiences have ranged from my becoming a regular, to “This is the strangest thing that I’ve ever done”. And believe me, I have managed some really strange experiences in my life. But I can safely state that the strangest thing I have ever done happened at my yoga studio, in the last month. I’ve been learning more about my body – what works for me, what doesn’t. I’ve learned that I can eat spinach for days, in all sorts of forms. I’ve learned about my limits, and how much I really need time to be with myself.

Mostly, though, I’ve been doing a lot of what my nutritionist calls “raising your vibration”. I’ve given myself permission to take care of me – something that started out as a very strange feeling. I’ve never really just looked out for myself before. And the past month – I’ve been feeding my soul, my body, my mind, my creativity. I am a firm believer of the Laws of Attraction – you get what you give. You attract what you want, simply by wanting it and working for it. This challenge, and the people participating in it, are proof of that. For a long time, I was attracting anger, and sadness to me, because I was in a place where those two things ruled. And now that I’m moving into happier times, happy is what I’m attracting (and hope to continue to attract!).

I don’t have much else – I just wanted to write it down, since it’s half way point. Lots of energy work, lots of washing away the remains of a life that was ruled by anxiety.

This is the quote driving me right now – marrying the intellectual to the spiritual side.

everything-is-energy-einstein