Tag Archives: truth

The Truth

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I pride myself on being an honest person.  I will tell you the truth and I can’t stand anyone who doesn’t do the same.  Dishonesty is just absolutely unforgivable.  That said, there have been some things that I have kept to myself. It begs the question, “is omission dishonesty?”  I used to think not.  There are many things I have kept to myself, things I haven’t written about here or anywhere, because I felt I was protecting Brian or his friends or our family or … or myself.  I always felt this was the right thing to do and never questioned it until last night.  Last night, someone who is very dear to me mentioned that I have portrayed Brian and the situation one way here on this blog and in public and yet I present an entirely different picture to him in our private conversations.  I admit that I bristled at this at first.  I’m very sensitive about anyone saying anything negative about Brian or his life or his death, so I kind of freaked out.  Being the thinker that I am, however, what he said spun around in my head, twisting and turning, trying to find the right place to click in.  When it did click in, my stomach bottomed out and I realized that I’ve been helping no one by omitting the truth.  I’m not protecting anyone, but might in fact be hurting someone by keeping it under wraps.   There’s another part, too.  Everyone who knew Brian already knows what I’m going to say.  This isn’t a surprise to them.  It’s not a surprise to our children.  It’s  not a surprise to our friends.  It’s not a surprise to our family.  It’s certainly not a surprise to me.

Everything that I have written about Brian here and everywhere else is absolutely true.  He was hilarious, loving, gentle, kind, sweet, generous, talented, and supportive.  He was a hard worker, an idea man, an incredible father, husband, and friend.  Brian was something else, too.  Brian was an alcoholic.

I don’t talk about it too much because I have always thought it wasn’t my story to tell.  Brian’s addiction was his story, his issue, his bourdon to carry (interesting how close bourdon is to bourbon, eh?) While he was alive, I always thought it was his place to either tell people or, as the case most often was, show them.  Now that he’s dead, however, I can tell that part of the story because, as anyone who has ever been in love with an addict knows, the addiction doesn’t just affect the addict.  It affections EVERYONE involved with the addict, from family members to employers to friends to other people out on the road.

The big truth, the ugly truth, is that I had been reaching the end of my rope being married to an alcoholic for some time and the reason Brian was out camping alone the night he died was because I had had enough and asked him to leave.  My full intention – and the intention that he knew I had – was for him to leave, sober up, and come home again.  It had happened before and there were years of sobriety sprinkled in here and there.  I had hoped and expected the same would happen again.  No one could have predicted what happened.  The healing process and the recovery since his death has taken me down some seriously fucked up roads, but I have realized a few things:

I would have stayed with Brian until the end.  Whether that meant actually staying married to him or leaving and staying close by, hoping and waiting for his recovery.

While we had a very strong and enviable love, there were a lot of problems with the life together.  While we did a lot of fun things together, it was mostly all within a small scope of area and a small scope of activity.  I have realized that I have done more living since Brian died than I did while he was alive.  I became quite content to stay here in the same mindset and the same lifestyle and I stopped dreaming and living and growing and exploring.  Well, not totally stopped – I still did some pretty groovy things, but I know now how limited I felt.  No more.  As a dear friend of ours said to me, “He freed you so beautifully.”

There is a sensation of being continually slapped in the face when the person you have chosen to spend your life with and raise your children with chooses a bottle over you over and over and over again.   His addiction had him by the balls so tight, I’m surprised he could walk.  He didn’t want to hurt me, but he did, and he hated himself for that.  Vicious circle.  Brian only raised his voice to me 3 times in 14 years and never once raised a hand to me.  He wasn’t a mean drunk, he wasn’t an angry drunk, he wasn’t abusive, but he was emotionally unavailable, distant, selfish, self-absorbed, and felt he was immortal and invincible.  You can’t convince a brick wall that they are a field of grass.

I write all of this not to make Brian look bad or to badmouth him or to make anyone think differently about him.  He truly was incredible.  I am writing about it because, my omitting it, it discredits the truth.  My kids will read this blog someday and, while I want them to have primarily positive memories of their dad, they were here every day and are very much aware of the truth.  To omit it discredits their experience.  I write it because, as the wife of an alcoholic, I hid the truth for 14 years and, damn it, I’m fucking tired of hiding and covering and explaining and carrying the weight.  I write it because I am moving forward and doing new and exciting things and opening my heart to new people and new experiences and I cannot do that honestly while hiding or omitting one of the biggest truths of my life.  Everyone who saw him knew, but we all didn’t want to see. Everyone deserves the truth to come out, including Brian.  The weight has been burying us alive and now, hopefully, we can all breathe a little easier and live.   We are only as sick as our secrets. It’s time to heal.

 

 

Before any of you start telling me about al-anon, I already know.  I’ll thank you to not bring it up.

 

 

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Satya, Scumbags, and Chef Boyardee: To Thine Own Self Be True

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Besties back when we were younger and cuter. Sort of.

I was talking with on of my oldest dearest friends today. He and I have been closer than close for nearly 18 years now, having met over a cloud of cigarette smoke and cheap beer in our college dorm in January 1995. In close to two decades of friendship, we have talked about just about everything you can imagine.  We have shared nearly every experience people can share.  We talk in code that I’m sure drives everyone around us insane.  We have yet to find a single life experience that cannot be explained by quoting Steel Magnolias, he gives me shit for being older than him, I give him shit because I’m aging better, and I am responsible for introducing him to the Beergarita and thus the subsequent demise of his liver (sorry.)  We shared an apartment together for a while and we made 3am calls to our mothers to tell them that we loved them and tequila, we once shared custody of a psychotic cat, and we have enough dirt on each other to bury several generations of shame, but there is one thing on which we will never ever ever see eye to eye.  Each and every day we have nearly come to blows over this very important topic and, frankly, it doesn’t seem like either of us will ever budge. It’s vicious and vile, petitions have written, flow charts created, and campaigns waged on both sides to prove definitively who is in the right (duh, ME!,) but still, the war wages on.  Today, that old tired battlefield saw action yet again and I am going to state my position right here and right now for the entire world to see:

Chef Boyardee is disgusting.

There.  It’s out there and I’m pretty sure, since my readers are brilliant beautiful people, that you’ll agree with me.  After all, it is the only way to see things.  It is the only truth there is.

Or is it?

The older I get, the more I’m becoming aware that there is more than one way to skin a cat.  (Side note: who the hell thought of that disturbing idiom?  I mean … wow. Okay, moving on… )  There are multiple ways of seeing things and they can all be right (except that biohazard in a can.) The thing that matters is if it’s right and true to you!  (except for Jason and his beyond unforgivable food choices.)   It doesn’t so much matter what you believe as long as you truly believe it.  It doesn’t so much matter if someone judges what you like as long as you are okay with what you like.  It doesn’t so much matter who you are as long as you are truly who you are.

I grew up calling the lowest of the low “Scumbags.”  If they were disgusting and undesirable and causing trouble, they were Scumbags and I would avoid the holy hell out of them (until I was in my late teens and early 20s and then I’d date them. Oh hell, who am I kidding?  If I was single, I’d still be dating them.)  Anyway, Scumbag was always icky. You didn’t want to be called a scumbag.  However, just like a fungus, certain truths start to grow on you.  Suddenly, the term “Scumbag” doesn’t seem so bad to me at all.  I might even call myself one – but it’s like that whole deal with mama.  I can talk about my mama, but don’t you dare talk about my mama.Don’t you dare call me a Scumbag or I’ll make you eat a can of Chef Boyardee (a fate worse that standing in hellfire.)   There’s even a song that espouses the glories of being a scumbag! The thing is this: if it’s your truth and you’re okay with it, it’s not so bad!

One of the 8 limbs of yoga is Satya: being truthful.  Being truthful doesn’t just mean not lying.  It means being exactly who you are, not hiding your true self from anyone, most especially not yourself.  We MUST be honest about who we are. Lying about who we are, hiding who we are, portraying ourselves as anything other than what we are is not only dishonest, it’s un-yogic and it’s wildly unfair to yourself and to those around you.  First of all, no one is that good of a liar.  People will know you’re not being true.  It’s in the way you carry yourself, the way you defend yourself when no one is attacking you, it’s in your eyes.  And while folks hate being lied to, the biggest truth is that no one will respect someone who lies to herself. Just be who you are.  Just be who you are.  Just be who you are.  Be a queen, a king, a sad sack, a sick soul, a scumbag, a sentient being, a lover, a healer, a hell-bound whiskey drinker, but be it honestly.  TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE!  I’ve tried with all my might to make this blog about my truth, my scroll of Satya, if you will.  I have laid it all out here honestly and, while it hasn’t always been easy nor been openly accepted, I am better off for having done it and continuing to do it.  I spent years hiding who I was.  As a child, I hid my opinions.  As a youth, I hid my disbelief in my family’s teachings. As a young adult, I hid my own self worth.  As an adult, I started to hide the fact that I am not either a  “Scumbag”  OR a “Sadhana Mama,” I am BOTH / AND. It is my Satya and I am so much better for living it openly.  It is my truth.  It is who I am and I am more than okay with that.

Jason will continue to eat that swill in a can and I will continue to see it as dog food in a dish, but that’s okay because we’re both speaking our truth.  The fact that my truth is the correct truth is of little consequence.  What matters is that we have our truths, we believe them, and we’re living them.  That’s what is important.  That’s the Satya.  That’s the yoga of it all.

Whatever your truth is, STAND IN THE LIGHT OF YOUR TRUTH.  Don’t hide.  Don’t cheat yourself or the world of who and what you are.  So Hum.  I am That.  I am That.  I am That.  I am That I am That I am That I am That I am.

Namaste

 

 

 

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, You Are a Dirty F*ing Liar …

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…and other truths yoga taught me about my body dysmorphic disorder.

I was talking with a very good friend of mine today.  I haven’t known this person very long – maybe 18 months or so, but we got very close very quickly and I adore her.  Several months ago, she moved out of the country and we speak mostly via Facebook Chat now, but we’re in contact nearly every day.  While we were very close when I saw her in person several times a week, the distance between us has somehow opened the door for us to be really truthful with each other about all kinds of things.  Today we talked about the big one that we share: we both have Body Dysmorphic Disorder.  Now, okay, she might not classify her self with that, so I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but I *do* have this disorder and have been diagnosed with it and have lived with it forever, so yeah, I can talk about myself. And her words and experiences sound an awful lot like mine, so you do the math.  Anyway, the interesting thing is that our stories are almost identical.  The tapes that play repeatedly in our heads are vile, evil, cruel, and vicious.  They say the same things : you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re a failure, you’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough, etc. Word for word, same exact tape.  We could be the same person… except, check this out:

I’m short and curvy (meaning, I have hips and big breasts and curves,) and she is very tall and very thin.  Our stories and our tapes are the same, our experiences are the same, but our bodies could not be more different. How does that happen, you ask?  It’s easy: our tapes and our experiences and our mirrors are dirty fucking liars.

Before Yoga Sol opened in our permanent location, we sublet space in a belly dance studio.  The walls were covered with mirrors.  This makes sense for a dance studio, but was crippling for a yoga studio.  As a student, I was always distracted by what i looked like in certain poses.  Did my belly stick out in Vira II?  Did I look fat in Navasana?  Was I skinnier than at least one other person in the room?  Please note, this had NOTHING to do with alignment.  Occasionally mirror can be helpful for alignment (if you’re practicing by yourself or if your teacher is an idiot,) but that’s not what this was about. This was about vanity and competition and finding a thousand different ways to love and / or hate myself.  As a teacher, I noticed that I wasn’t alone in this.  I would teach a class and watch people catch sight of themselves only to then suck in their stomachs or to arch their backs seductively (and dangerously,) or to catch a glimpse of a person behind them doing a more advanced variation of an asana and then push themselves beyond where their body was ready to go leading to injury.

Clearly, I was thrilled to see no mirrors in the design plans for Yoga Sol’s forever home.

Now before those of you who know me go getting all up in arms about how I’m the perfect size or shape or how strong I am or any of that stuff, let me be very clear: I know this already.  I know intellectually that I am not fat nor am I unhealthy nor am I unattractive.  I know I’m stronger than your average person, I know I am healthier than I have ever been, I know, I know I know. This isn’t about that.  Not at all.  And this also isn’t a blog post about loving yourself as you are, regardless of weight or shape or size or health (although, I do think that those are very valid and important lessons to be learned.)  This post is about the lies we tell ourselves.  Well, okay, it’s about the lies I told (tell) myself and how yoga helped (helps) me see them for the dirty futher muckers that they are (contemplate that maybe they aren’t exactly true.)

The mirror lies.  Want proof?  Go to a store.  Try on a piece of clothing.  Not socks or a scarf, people.  Try on jeans. Ohhhhh yes, jeans.  Try them on in the fitting room and really study your reflection. Buy them.  Then come home and put them on and look at them in your mirror at home. Look the same?  I’ll bet not.  If they do, congratulate yourself for having the exact same mirror and exact same lighting conditions as the store. More than likely, however, it will look different. YOU will look different.  And, if I were a betting gal, I’d bet diamonds to dollars that these wretched lying mirrors will change the way you feel about yourself because suddenly, you don’t look the same.

I ask you, what kind of creepy destructive bullshit is that?

Yoga can be like trying on jeans if you’re not careful.  You can have a great practice and feel exceptional and light and free and expressive and wonderful and powerful and glorious and radiant and like a rock star …. and then you look at the person next to you and realize that you look as though you ate the other half of that person for lunch and your hand is no where near the floor and what exactly do you mean that not everyone chokes to death on their mammaries in Salamba Sarvangasana?  Goddamn it! Suddenly now that radiant glorious exceptional light and expressive person is replaced with a troll who really doesn’t belong on the freaking mat and can’t we please just go out and hide under the covers already?  Guess what?  It might not look like a piece of shiny glass, but looking at other people in class is exactly the same as looking at mirrors and what have we learned about mirrors?  They are dirty fucking liars.

We ARE beautiful and light and expressive and exceptional and wonderful and powerful and glorious and radiant and rock stars and we DO belong on the mat (and in jeans and, apparently, in string bikinis,) but the mirrors are broken.  They are liars.  They are untrustworthy and misleading.  All of them — all of them, that is, except one.  Only one mirror tells the truth.  Only one mirror shows us the way things really and truly are and, here’s the kicker: this mirror is not one you see with your eyes.  Nope.  You can’t hang it on a wall or put it in your purse.  You won’t have 7 years of bad luck if you break it nor will tell you if someone is a vampire or not.  No, this mirror cannot be broken, cannot be sold or damaged, cannot be dirtied or stained or cracked.  The only  bad thing that can be done to it is that it can be ignored because this mirror, the one and only truthful honest dependable mirror there is is the one that lives inside of you.  It is the one that always shows your goodness, your worth, your loveliness, your inherent beauty and grace.  It is the one you see when you close your eyes and just move.  It is the one that tells you to stay in pigeon just a little longer, the one that says it’s okay to take a few more breaths in Savasana, the one that shines like a diamond when you breathe deeply and bend gently.  It is the one that says, “Right there, that feels perfect,” the one that says, “You are strong,” the one that says, “look at all the progress you have made!”  That mirror is the ONLY mirror that isn’t a dirty fucking liar.  That mirror doesn’t show shapes or sizes.  That mirror shows light and love and grace and worth.  That mirror shows the truth – and it is the only mirror you need.

I still hear the nasty tapes.  I probably always will.  It’s a disorder and not one that will likely ever go away, but I can learn to ignore them. I can learn to recognize that they, like mirrors, are not telling nor showing me the truth.  I can choose to look inside instead of at other mirrors and other people.  I can learn to let all the other mirrors break (at least in my mind,) and focus on the one inside.  I can breathe.  I can bend.  I can practice – and all things, even acceptance, is coming.

Namaste

“I’m SO much better than you” and other BS you’ll (almost) never hear me say.

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Yesterday was my day off.  I usually stay pretty low on my days off because, well, because I can.  However, yesterday I decided to take the kids out for lunch at the pub my husband manages.  My kids have been going there since the day they were born and they know the place like the backs of their hands, but more importantly, all the staff know them like their own kids or little brothers.  Plus, the place makes a damn fine burger (point number one.)  It was well after the typical lunch hour (we know better than to go during the rush,) and since I had nothing of major importance to do (remember, it was my day off,) I had a beer with my burger (point number two.)  Nothing about either of these points is anything new for me.  I love red meat (I’ve been known to say I could bite a cow right on the ass, not that I ever have actually done it) and I love a good beer.  Most everyone who knows me knows this, but there are a lot of folks who *think* they know me because they know what I do for a living, as was the case yesterday. Someone saw me eating a burger (gasp!) and drinking a beer (GASP!) and approached me with a “I just caught you with your hand in the cookie jar” sort of look and said to me, “I didn’t know you were so cool!” as they showed me that they, too, were eating a burger and drinking a grown up juice box.  I, of course, smiled and said something along the lines of, “Well, I’m more than just what you see on the mat!,” and moved on. And then I came home and started a whole feed on Twitter with the hashtag #yogateachertruth.  You can read most of them over there. ———>

It just got me thinking about how many misconceptions people have about yoga teachers and WHY they have these misconceptions.  I have never made bones about who I am.  I think I’m pretty much a “what you see is what you get” kind of a person.  I’ve never tried to hide things about myself, even when they are really really ugly things.   It never occurred to me to do anything else.  I have moments and times when I am feeling on top of the world, totally yoga stoned, and especially enlightened, but I’ve never once pretended that I’m like that all the time.  So, why in the world would folks be surprised to see me being human?  I think it’s because so many well known yogins (famous and not so famous,) are always acting like life is one big fluffy cloud of awesomeness and they are SO much more enlightened than anyone else.  How well did that work out for you, John Friend?  Or how about the whole Rodney Yee scandal that folks have forgotten about?  Dear Maude, it’s starting to look like all of yoga is just a bunch of folks who study more Jimmy Swaggart than Jivamukti.  No wonder folks get the wrong impression of yoga teachers – many yoga teachers feed the wrong impressions!

Really, let me state something straight up: Even the most zen, yogic, blissed out person gets pissed off now and then.  Even the most enlightened person needs to step out from under the Bodhi tree to get down with their bodacious self.  It might not look like burgers and beer.  It might look more like shameless shoe shopping, riotous speeding down the highway, or saying the word “Fuck” frequently (not that I would know anything at all about any of those things,) but I promise you, NO yoga teacher is *that* perfect, *that* serene, *that* superior.  It doesn’t happen, it doesn’t exist. Know why? (Oh this is going to blow your minds, so sit down and wait for it.)

BECAUSE WE ARE HUMANS, TOO.

(Of course, there are many YTs that would debate and deny that. See above.)

So, before the whole title of this post loses it’s purpose, let’s get on to the list of a few of things I’ll not tell you.

In NO specific order:

“Oh I hang out in Scorpion for 108 minutes every morning before breakfast!”   Please.  Give me a break.  Honestly, I can do Scorpion, but there are days when I cannot even freaking do Tree without falling.  I’m okay with that and you should be, too.

“Some child spilled their cup of cow milk on my shoe at the playground and I nearly vomited! MILK!! MILK!!  Can you imagine?!?!  Gross.”  Someone said that to me once.  If I’m lying, I’m dying.  I swear to Elvis and all that is holy, some crazy obsessive vegan said that to me.  WHAT THE WHAT?  Here’s the deal: eat or drink what you want.  Don’t eat or drink what you don’t want.  YAY for Vegans – I love many! But don’t for one second pretend to be so sanctimonious and sensitive that you cannot even tolerate a toddler – a TODDLER (they spill EVERYTHING) – spilling 3 drops of milk onto your shoe. Get over yourself, please, or I may be forced to vomit my bacon sundae upon you.

“I’m so much better / holier / yogier / more enlightened than you!”  Really?  REALLY? Yeah.  That sounds terribly enlightened.  Thanks for living the “we are all one” yoga model.  You rock. :rolls eyes:

“I LOVE everyone!”  Bullshit.  I find that utter bullshit.  I don’t love everyone.  I don’t even like everyone!  Now, do I respect the rights of everyone?  Yes.  Do I see everyone as my fellow human and thus a member of my human family?  Yes.  But let me just say: I don’t even like all the members of my birth family, much less every member of my human family!  I’ll fight for your rights until the day I die, but that doesn’t mean I won’t also fight you.

“I just LOVE Kirtan!  You can’t have a yoga life without it!!!”  Okay, I admit, I do like some Kirtan. But I also do like some WHAM! , Kid Rock, and Ganesha knows I think the sun rises and sets in Shooter Jennings’ cowboy boots.  I’m more likely to be found back stage, center stage, or sneaking onto the stage at some honkey tonk with a strong drink in hand and rowdiness in my heart than sitting on a cushion chanting “Hare Rama!”  Again, I LOVE KIRTAN and I have, and will again, pull out that cushion, but only once for every 40 concerts I attend.

“Nice tights!!”  They’re tights.  They’re not yoga pants.  I can see your underwear and everything under them. I’m okay with that if you are, but you should know that if I can see through them, so can the dude on the mat behind you.

“My kids never anger me.  They are our future, they are our everything.  If we show them anger or limits, they might know that they have anger and that they have limits!”  Oh please.  Children need to be able to explore allllllll their emotions and feelings.  They need to be able to get angry. And DEAR SWEET ELVIS ON VELVET, kids need limits.  If you think you’re doing the right thing by not limiting your children, why don’t you go on ahead and read We Need to Talk About Kevin.

“I can’t hang out with you because you’re my student, I’m your teacher, and I’m SO much better than you!”  Oh please.  PLEASE!  This is such shit.  When I hear teachers saying that they never would have lunch or dinner or a drink (tea is a drink, yo) with their students unless it’s a “teaching moment,” all I can think is, “Sweet sassafrass, you don’t have many friends, do you?” I’ll be honest – if I can’t hang with someone without them “teaching” me, well then, I won’t hang out with that person at all.  And neither should you!  Listen up: every teacher is a student, every student is a teacher.  First round is on me, second is on you.

I’m not better than you (well, most of you — ugh, still struggling with that) and you’re not better than me.  Yoga is meant to meet us where we are and take us where we’re *all* headed.  You’ll not reach enlightenment any faster by avoiding bacon nor will I reach it any slower by running to roadhouses.  We’re all on the same journey and we will all reach the same samadhi eventually, it’s just that our paths might take different routes to get there.  So if it makes you feel better to take what you assume is the high road, you go right ahead. More power to you.  I’ll take the dirt road and, I promise, we’ll cross the finish line together at exactly the same time.

Under the influence of Shiner Bock and Shooter Jennings. Can I get an “AMEN!?”

Beards and Bikinis: The Redneck Path to Enlightenment

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Behold the beautiful beards!

Okay, I admit it.  I’m a redneck.  Well, sort of.  It’s actually more truthful to say that I’ma redneck by proxy.  I am married to a truck driving, beat up hat wearing, off roading, angling, flannel shirt loving, technology hating, backwoods pyromaniac redneck.  I had no idea that this was what I was getting into when I fell in love with this guy, but sure enough, I landed waist deep in a puddle of mud (and then proceeded to help push the truck out.)  After 13 years, it has started to rub off on me a bit.  I like ending a night out by putting the LandCruiser into 4WD and taking it off road, through the fields and trees, into a clearing to look at the stars from the roof rack.  I went from turning my nose up at any beer that didn’t come from a microbrewery to proudly tipping up a can (a CAN!!!) of PBR now and then.  I made a fire pit from an old laundry dryer drum.  I know how to use a winch and a come-along and can catch and clean a fish for dinner.  I have a deep abiding love for good iced tea, Waylon Jennings, trolling motors, and lighting things on fire.  All of this somewhat surprises me, but the biggest shock of all is my newest love affair: BEARDS.

It’s been a slowly growing obsession, but I think I have about reached full on beard mania.  I have wanted my husband to grow a beard for years, but no dice. He’s got some facial hair, for sure, but I want the full on burly lumberjack mountain man beard instead of the highly manicured and maintained shadow. He has resisted strongly. He recently told me that he started growing one while I was in Mexico in February as a surprise, but abandoned that plan before I returned because he didn’t think it looked right, and shaved it off.  This was news to me!  Once I knew the door was open (or had been open) I started a mission to blast it off it’s hinges. So, one day last week, we were floating in the pool and talking about beards and how much I want him to grow one and how I seem to have always wanted him to grow one and he looks me dead in the eye and said, “Well. I have always wanted you to wear a string bikini!”

Well, shit. That is hitting below the belt!

I am not a tiny 17 year old.  I am also not a tiny 36 year old.  Wearing a string bikini is not anything that I ever considered a good idea. Hell, even when I was a tiny 17 year old, I never wore a string bikini!  They are held together with strings, man!  Is he insane? Maybe he is, because he kept talking about this bikini.  For days. And I kept talking about the beard. For days. Eventually, it became pretty clear what the only solution to this could possibly be and the deal was made: bikini for a beard.  While it’s hotter than hellfire out there right now, it’s not very compassionate of me to ask him to grow a sweater on his face during the summer, nor is it very compassionate of him to ask me to wear a string anything when it starts getting cold, so I wear the dental floss and bandaids now and he starts letting his hair down in September.  I even wrote it on the calendar.  And then I did the unthinkable: I bought and wore the much feared string bikini.

Hey, a deal is a deal, Jack!

I cringed as I put it on.  I nearly passed out when I felt those itty bitty strings trying valiantly to hold it all together in the midst of my freak out.  I looked in the mirror and … well, what do you know, I didn’t hate it.  I didn’t love it or maybe even like it, mind you, but I didn’t hate it.  I took a deep breath, grabbed my bathrobe, and went out to the pool to prove to my husband that I owned up to my end of the deal and now he was on the hook for this beard, by gum! I had intended to just put it on and then change back into my regular two piece, but he said, “Get in the pool. See what it feels like! I think it will be good for your confidence.” So I did.  And it was … pretty fantastic, actually.  I felt so free!  Sun and water were hitting some places that had been hidden by my other suits and the smaller straps (strings) felt lighter on my skin and, well crap, he might just have had a point!  While I was completely unnerved by wearing so little, I was somewhat freed by wearing so little!  When you have nowhere to hide, it’s pointless to even try.  You just have to be yourself because there is nowhere to put anyone else.

I think having a yoga practice is very much like putting on a string bikini.  It is awkward at first and is often still awkward after a long time.  You are forced to really look at yourself the way you are.  You might see or discover or remember things about yourself that are joyous and other things that are scary. You cannot hide from your true self in your yoga practice – it’s all right there in your face. It’s hard and challenging to look at ourselves so openly and to learn to trust that there’s something to all of it.  It’s hard to take the bathrobe off and jump into the water, so to speak, but when you do, you find that there is inescapable joy, freedom, delight, acceptance, and even love for yourself to be found. Eventually, you find that it’s glorious to be free from the compulsion to hide and also to stand proudly in your own skin surrounded by your own truth.  It feels so good!

I never thought that beards and bikinis would be what led me to finally release the chains that bound me.  I also never thought I would be figuring out ways to make a glow in the dark poker table or a floating tiki torch, but that’s just all sort of the point: you never know where your path will lead you or where you will find your inspiration.  It comes in crazy forms and in unexpected places.  All you have to do is suit up, show up, and be ready to make the deal.

 

BONUS #365yoga Day 323: Kindness Meditation

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On this day, I will strive to see the peace that is everywhere and access the abundance of beauty and joy that lie in every moment. It is the Eternal Now that I am after. I will strive to set aside everything I have learned and presume to know in order to allow new knowledge and new experiences to flood my being.

I will strive to be a magnet for powerful, positive, and miraculous truths, images, words, and music. I will do everything in my power to clear my mind of the negative energies that have obfuscated my view and distorted my words and actions. I will create a new paradigm that helps me

to recognize only the good qualities in every person, place, and thing that composes my environment. I will raise my energy and my light to the highest frequencies of love, generosity, charity, compassion, forgiveness, and truth. I will fill my head with constructive thoughts and images that will help me to further my individual growth so that I can illuminate and inspire the lives of others. I will learn something new on this day and discover a place I have never before encountered.

I will push myself to do or at least attempt something that I never imagined I would be able to do. I will be courteous to people who cross my path

and I will help those in need wherever and whenever I find myself in circumstances that allow me to do so.

I will surround myself with beautiful nature and touch the earth to show her my love and gratitude for holding mine and everyone else’s weight. I will extend my love to the entire world and cosmos along with my respect and humbled admiration of the divine sparks of the Creative Force Energy that composes us all.

I will love because I can, give because I can, be gracious because I can, be humble because I have every reason to be, and speak my truth because that is my duty and my joy. I will practice random acts of kindness and go out of my way to establish order within the chaos of our world.

I will write a letter to someone I haven’t spoken with for a while. I will send a message to someone I love dearly. I will write a poem. I will make art. I will play my guitar and sing. I will volunteer myself to help loved ones and friends. I will eat and drink healthy to show my bodymy deep gratitude for its existence and the role it plays in protecting my soul and spirit.

I will recite my mantras any time I feel overwhelmed by thoughts that cause anxiety. I will listen to someone who rarely has the opportunity to be heard. I will be aware of my breath and the rhythm of my heartbeat.

I will laugh and forgive myself when I forget that I made these promises at the beginning of my day, and at the end of my day I will celebrate and congratulate myself for what I was able to accomplish.

kindness meditation – julie henderson – 2009

#365yoga Day 314: Tell the Truth (or Yama Yo Mama!)

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I have an injured wrist.  I am not exactly sure what exactly caused it, but I believe it’s from over use and was compounded by tripping and catching myself on my wrist.  I have been saying it’s a stress fracture, because I honestly believe that’s what it is – a weakness in the bone and joint.  When someone asked me if the doctor wrapped it and gave me good meds … I paused.  I was tempted to say, “Yeah, but you know I don’t like taking pills and the wrap drove me insane.”  I mean, that is most likely what would have happened had I actually gone to the doctor, but I didn’t.  I self diagnosed a stress fracture and am self treating it with rest and modifications and Ibuprofen.  In the blink of an eye, however, I nearly told a lie.  I didn’t, I did tell the truth that I hadn’t seen a doctor, but I almost did lie about it.  And I have absolutely no idea why.

When I was a kid, I lied all the time.  I lied to get out of school, out of trouble, out of homework, out of housework.  As I grew, I lied about other things.  When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I lied about getting contacts.  My best friend had recently gotten them and I was so jealous I couldn’t see straight, so I spent a couple of days trying to make it through school without my glasses and looking like a fool until I was outed and I had to put them back on in shame.  Then when I was 13, I lied about sneaking out of my house in the middle of the night to hang out with some kids.  I never did that, but I said I did because I was living in a brand new town and wanted to make people think I was making friends and fitting in and having the time of my life, when really, I was sad and lonely and missed my former town and school and friends.  I lied about other things, too: where I got my clothes, what music I listened to, etc.  In high school, I once earned my entire Latin class extra credit on a test because I correctly guessed which song Don Henley played to open his most recent concert (the magister was a HUGE Eagles nut.)  I guessed correctly (“Dirty Money”, by the way) and said I had been there.  Total lie.  I hadn’t been there  – I just was lucky, I guess.  I lied all the time about little things like that – sometimes (although not often) about big things.  I never really thought about it— until someone I loved lied about a really big thing that changed my life forever.  I was never the same.  I felt betrayed, hurt … I felt lied to!  And that pissed me off like nothing ever had before or, frankly, ever has since.  I have been conscious of my words and actions every moment of every day since then and, while it would be a lie to say I never lie, I do it so rarely now it’s hard for me to remember the last time I actually told an untruth knowingly.

An odd thing happens when you decide to consciously live in, and tell, the truth: you start to be able to sniff a lie out a million miles away.  At least I can and, I have to say, I’m amazed at how many people lie and what people choose to lie about.  Just like I used to do, most people lie about piddly stupid things that don’t matter anyway!  “I don’t color my hair!” “Oh yeah, I read that book, too.” etc.  It makes me angry.  It’s one thing to lie like that when you’re a child, but as adults, it’s just stupid.  No one cares if you color your hair, if your shoes cost $20 or $200, if you’re reading a book for the first or the 40th time, if you can touch your toes or your nose, if you weigh 120 or 150 pounds.  No one cares! You aren’t impressing us.  In fact, by lying about those things, you’re cheating us out of knowing the real you.

But maybe we tell lies about ourselves because we don’t really know ourselves?  Or like ourselves? Because we don’t think we are good enough, smart enough, thin enough, social enough, pretty enough, strong enough, brave enough, enough enough?  Maybe all of the above.  And lying isn’t just about what you say, it’s also about what you do!  I caught myself holding my stomach in today in the shower!  I mean, COME ON!  It was like I was trying to hide from / lie to myself! Not good – and certainly not the life I want to be living.

Patanjali writes about the 8 limbs of yoga in his famous Sutras.  Satya, or truthfulness, is right up there at the top – it’s one of the Yamas and it comes in second only to Ahimsa – do no harm.

2.36 As truthfulness (satya) is achieved, the fruits of actions naturally result according to the will of the Yogi.
(satya pratisthayam kriya phala ashrayatvam)

Satya encompasses not only our words, but our thoughts and our actions.  If we think we are better than someone else, we are judging.  That judgement separates us from other people, but also from our true self which is the same as the true self of everyone else in the world.  If we do things that we are not yet ready or capable of doing, for instance a complicated yoga posture, we are harming ourselves not only physically, but also by pulling ourselves off our own rightful path. When we tell someone a lie about ourselves (what we do, what we think, what we feel, what we know,) we are depriving them of the joy of truly knowing us and we are denying ourselves the gift of true intimacy with another person.  And… if you hold in your stomach while you’re alone in the shower, ahem, you’re cheating yourself out of loving and accepting yourself exactly as you are.

The truth will set you free, so they say.  I believe it.

And just so we’re clear: Yes, I color my hair.  Yes, I do wear contacts.  No, I do not have a flat stomach. Yes, I can touch my toes and my nose and my nose to my toes. No, I didn’t go to the doctor.  Yes, I play one on tv.  No, I don’t.

Whew! I feel better already!