Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!

Reader question: Is change possible?

“Is it possible to change something you really don’t like about yourself?” What a great question. As someone who struggles with habits, there have been times when this question would have sent me straight to bed to pull the covers over my head. This is not one of those times, thank goodness. ūüôā Let’s explore what it takes to change.

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  1. Yes, change is possible. George Eliot said, “You are never too old to be what you might have been.” As a late bloomer in nearly everything, I love this! We have the volition to choose our course, so take comfort in the fact that the future is not set in stone.
  2. Change is really fucking hard, unless it’s easy. My husband has more willpower than almost anyone I know. When he decides to change something, he’s all in and makes progress seem effortless. I love/hate this about him. He’s spent a lifetime developing his discipline muscle. Me? Not so much. So depending on your history with habits and resolutions and the like, changing something can be kinda tricky.
  3. There is always a payoff for what we do. This idea makes me uneasy because it’s absolutely true. You know how you can look at someone and think, “Why the heck would they do that?” Even behavior we don’t understand, in other or in ourselves, comes with some sort of payoff, whether we know it or not. Notice, I didn’t say benefit. A benefit (root bene = good, like beneficial) is something that helps us. A payoff is usually something that confirms a deeply held belief or keeps us in our comfort zone. “Comfort zone” is a misnomer because comfort seems good and comfort zones can be deeply uncomfortable. What’s seductive about a comfort zone is that it is known and familiar, and the pull to stay there can be oh so strong.
  4. Get crystal clear on the why. I was a pack a day smoker in my early 20s. I was both physically and psychologically addicted. Before I quit, I wrote out a list of all the reasons I wanted to quit, including financial benefits, health benefits, my clothes wouldn’t smell benefits, and the one that stood out more than any other. I smoked when I drove, and I would flick the ashes out the car window. Several times my ash flicking didn’t go as planned, and I ended up with little burn holes in my skirt or pants. For some reason this made me feel deeply ashamed and bad. And this was a good “why” to focus on because the emotional impact was so big. (I quit several months later when I got really sick — so sick that I didn’t smoke for 4 days. And I figured that I should keep going. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was so worth it!)
  5. Tell someone. There are support groups for losing weight and dealing with addictions. There are therapists who can help untangle emotional issues. There are friends who can become accountability buddies, helping you to move towards what you really want. In my experience, a recipe for no change at all is me staying silent and just trying really hard. All that is is exhausting.

For yoga teacher training, we’re reading a wonderful book called “Being of Power: The 9 practices to ignite an empowered life” by Baron Baptiste. One of the practices is titled “let it be.” Here’s part of what Baron has to say:

We all face a paradox. In order to grow, we need to start from total acceptance of where we are and where we’re not, what we have and what’s missing — exactly as it is. Total acceptance doesn’t mean that we’d be okay with something if it were just a little more this or that, or after X or Y happens; it means that we take out the judgement that something is wrong or shouldn’t be and accept it exactly as it is, right here, right now, with no conditions.¬†

If things are really bad or stuck or aren’t necessarily as we want them to be, then that last sentence can be pretty challenging to consider. I mean, why would anyone choose to be broke, alone, sick, out of shape, or anything else that feels depressing, frustrating or painful? We’ll resist these things at all costs, because we’re afraid that if we don’t, we’ll get stuck with whatever is causing them. But the truth is that if you are not at peace with your current reality — exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t — then that’s exactly when you will get stuck with it. As the famous line goes, “what you resist persists.” What you resist you empower. Resistance sucks energy and space, which creates contraction, so when you’re spending so much of your precious energy resisting, there is no flow, no life, and definitely no power in that realm.

Deep stuff, right? But it’s the truth. We did an exercise where we had to choose things in our lives that are not as we want them to be and write down “I embrace (blank) exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t.” Here are some examples from the book:

  • I embrace my mother-in-law exactly as she is and exactly as she isn’t.
  • I embrace my bankruptcy exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t.
  • I embrace my illness exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t.

Here’s one more quote from the book:

When we did an exercise similar to this at a workshop in Toronto, a student named Paulina stood up and said that it was her laziness that was presenting the most problems for her. Then she added, “I’m not going to embrace my laziness — no way. I want to overcome it!”

I know we all want to overcome adversity. But remember we don’t overcome anything. That’s a false sense of control. If Paulina could have worked through her laziness, she would have by now. When we let something be, we’re acknowledging it and stepping toward it as a conscious choice. Once we embrace it, we have the freedom to respond to it differently and take a new pathway if that’s what we then decide. What we fully choose and embrace we can fully release. There’s no power in resisting and being half in or half out. Just be 100 percent for it, as it is and as it isn’t without shame, judgement, or complaints, and see what dissolves or arises out of that.

This acceptance of what is really does produce the freedom to change. I’m experiencing it in my own life.

One final thought: I’m reading a new book “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin. In it she explores the subject of habits. I am a creature of few habits, married to a man of many habits. I see the freedom and ease that his habits afford him, and yet I struggle with putting my own good habits into place. I’m hoping Gretchen’s exploration of habits will help me with this.

And so, dear reader, here is your homework assignment, should you want some homework. Do the ” I embrace” exercise regarding what you want to change. Then get clear on the payoffs you get from the behavior, enlist help, and maybe start reading “Better Than Before.” And know that my heart is with you as you move toward what you want most.

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Ideas for a reduced stress home

I tell my husband that in a prior life he must have served in the military, because his sense of order and discipline are deeply ingrained and can feel almost bootcamp-ish at times. Many of our struggles have been over simple things like how to load the dishwasher or how clean the house needs to be. Over the years, I’ve reined in my free-spirited approach to homemaking, and with more than 25 years of experience in running a home, let’s hope I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

Here are a few things that have worked for me. If you have suggestions about what to do to make your home run more smoothly, please let me know, as there is always room for improvement.

  1. Water carafes in the fridge — When my kids lived at home there was always someone scrambling to get water glasses filled and on the table at dinner. I’ve taken a cue from bistro restaurants, where they placed a carafe of chilled water on your table. Carafes are available many places (my favorite is a Weck juice jar from Crate and Barrel and costs $5.95) and it feels easy breezy good to grab a carafe and a few glasses, and voila — beverages are handled!¬†weck-juice-jars
  2. A white board in the pantry or on the fridge — Everybody in my house knows that if it’s written on the board, it will show up in the house. This way little scraps of paper or mental notes of “oh I should pick some of this up” won’t be set aside and forgotten. And it’s frustrating if you’re cooking and don’t have a crucial ingredient that you meant to pick up at the store. I make myself write things on the list too. Like I said, it’s one central list and it works.

    We must really need flour, because I listed it twice.

    We must really need flour, because I listed it twice.

  3. Label your shelves — Reducing micro decisions is a key to a calmer life. As a stay at home mom, the micro decisions are endless (what should I do now? and now? how about now?) and exhausting. For everyone, big open shelves or drawers can be just a catchall for whatever you happen to have in your hands. I have a cabinet in the upstairs hallway that we use for sheets and towels and blankets. Until I labeled the shelves I would just shove stuff onto any shelf where it would fit. You would think this would work ok, especially since the function of the cabinet is defined, but it meant I could never find things. With labels on the shelves, I take the nano-second of time to put things where they belong.
  4. Micro decisions and laundry — When I did laundry for one husband and two teenage sons, every single item of clothing had to be considered to determine who it belonged to, because they were all very close in size. If I had it to do over again, I would do laundry loads for each person. (Ok, what I really should have done was required everyone to do their own laundry!)
  5. If it takes less than 90 seconds, do it now! — I learned this from Tim. And it’s still hard for me to follow. But if there’s something I can do to restore order, and it takes less than 90 seconds, I should do it. These actions can include rehanging a shirt that I’ve decided not to wear, putting away running shoes, putting away makeup, or anything else that takes virtually no time. My surroundings are a lot nicer when I do this.
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Blogging, a love story

I started my first blog in 2005. It was called Fortysomething Fitness and it gave me a place to share the wild and wonderful experience of training for a fitness competition. The journey from “body by white mochas” to walking across a stage in a micro-bikini and stripper heels was just too interesting to *not* write about. And once the competition was over, I continued to write, mostly about fitness but also about marriage and parenting and the ins and outs of suburban life.

Starbucks white mochas + plantar fasciitis = me at age 44

Starbucks white mochas + plantar fasciitis = me at age 44

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What a difference 6 months and a great trainer can make.

Most than a year later, I alluded in a blog post to getting ready for surgery. (I got boobs. I’m happy I did it, and I would do it again.) This information got back to a family member who I hadn’t told about the surgery. They were oh so hurt. And the only thing I could think to do, the only action I could take to prove my love and loyalty, was to delete what I’d written. It only took a few keystrokes for my blog to vanish.

But I still wanted to write. My next blog was the second half of my very favorite Abraham Lincoln quote: Whatever you are, be a good one. (You can read the first post of this blog here.) Now that fitness was out of the title, I felt free to explore just about anything about life. But then, life got in the way, as life tends to do. My parents were both failing and their situation became mine, and although I tried to keep writing it just didn’t make any sense to me to share a new recipe when my insides were screaming, “OH MY GOD MY PARENTS ARE SICK AND I DON’T KNOW HOW TO HELP THEM!” I posted less and less frequently, and finally stopped altogether.

Which brings us to now. My heart is full of appreciation for anyone who is reading¬†Girlschool for Grownups. Writing is a funny thing. I try to write as though nobody is watching, which helps me to be freer (that doesn’t look right, but you know what I mean) in expressing myself. But I’m not sure if I would have the discipline to continue writing if I didn’t get feedback from readers. So to everyone who has liked a post on Facebook, commented on Facebook, commented on WordPress or subscribed on WordPress, I humbly say thank you.

So I have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) of having 100 WordPress subscribers. If you like what you see, would you consider:

  • sharing a post on Facebook
  • emailing a post to a friend
  • subscribing if you haven’t done so already

It’s scary to put this out there, and also feels slightly ridiculous. Nothing changes if 100 people subscribe. (Well, maybe I will give one reader¬†a nice present when I reach this number.) But just because what I’m doing doesn’t cure cancer or cause world peace, that’s no reason to dismiss the idea of wanting to shoot for something, right?

One final note about comments — at this point I don’t reply directly to WordPress comments because I’m working on writing more consistently. So until I’ve got that down, I will read each and every comment and say a silent prayer of gratitude for the writer.

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The myth of the perfect mother

In my house there was a lot of love, but also a lot of secrets. As I’ve mentioned before, my mom was bipolar and had OCD, but at the time I didn’t know these names. What I knew was that my mom was easily upset and when she was upset, she would lock herself in her bedroom for hours. As a sensitive young girl this terrified me and I did the only thing I knew how to do to make things better: I cleaned the house. Maybe if the house was nice then she would be happy.

As a child of the 70s, I grew up on The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family. I loved these shows with their large talkative messy families. The Waltons was another favorite. And although I didn’t know it, I developed a composite mother figure, part Carol Brady, part Shirley Partridge, part whatever-her-name-was Walton mom, and decided that most people had moms like these ones. This made life very hard, because not only was I dealing with a volatile mom in real life, I was also convinced that everyone else had this perfect mother who taught them how to put on makeup and how to dress properly and who they confided in when they were scared or sad, and I felt undermothered and alone.

When i had kids I was determined to mom them differently than how I’d grown up. So I tried to do the perfect mom thing. I was tired and discouraged much¬†of the time. But I kept trying and reaching for the TV-inspired mom ideal, never considering that what I was reaching for was an illusion.

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Now, with both of my sons in college, I have perspective on parenting that only comes with time. And I know two things for sure: 1) if you have parents who love you with their whole hearts, you are blessed, and 2) nobody escapes childhood unscathed. Here’s the thing: we are parented by imperfect humans who bring their baggage to their parenting. I did it. Your parents did it. And if you have kids, you’ll do it too. Does this mean you won’t be a good parent? No! And of course we should try for understanding and enlightenment in all areas, not just in parenting.

My friend Betsy works at an emergency children’s shelter, where kids go when their parents are taken to jail or the kids are removed from an unsafe home environment. She’s heard horrific stories of parents who are not only bad people but awful parents. Betsy has told me that only good parents ask the question, “Am I a good parent?” I think she’s right.

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There’s a quote that perfectly expresses how parenthood feels to me: To have a child is to forever watch your heart as it walks along outside of your body.

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“What’s my age again?” Blink 182

It’s interesting growing older in a culture that hates old. On my next birthday I will be 55, and this astonishes me, saddens me, and when my head is screwed on straight, delights me all at the same time.

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When I was 14 or so, I bought an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, because of course I needed to know how to tantalize him in bed, and what my orgasm style was. ūüôā This issue was the coveted January issue that came with a little booklet titled “The Cosmo Bedside Astrologer.” The only thing I remember from that oh-so-important booklet is this: Capricorns get better with age. I’ve taken that to heart, and considered myself a late-bloomer in almost every arena of life.

So back to aging. I’m at a time when I about break my neck to examine¬†signs that promise “tighening, firming, lifting” on products in the beauty aisle. And I think “gravity sucks, literally” as I see the skin on my body not hanging on as tightly as it once did. (In my dreams, everyone gets all brand new skin every 30 years. So how your skin looks at 30 is as bad as it gets. I also am working on an invention where you can have sporty boobs or party boobs with the flick of a switch. But I digress.)

What’s interesting is that every age I’ve been still lives inside of me. So in a single afternoon I can have the confidence and the “I am what I am” acceptance of my actual age, the insecurities of my 13-year-old self, and the playfulness of my inner three year old. One thing I’m adamant about is not using my age as an excuse, which is part of why yoga teacher training feels so empowering. I *am* the oldest one in the class (I checked). We did an exercise last weekend that involved holding painful poses for long periods of time, and my mind went to “This probably hurts me more than it hurts everyone else, because I’m the oldest.” In yoga teacher training lingo, this is called a story. I challenged the story with this thought: what if I’m the most capable of staying in this pose, since I’ve had more life experience and developed more tenacity than anyone else in the room?

I love seeing my mother as she takes up new hobbies. She started ballroom dancing in her 60s and has won awards for her dancing. She also started Toastmasters because she wanted to have a place to wear her gorgeous shoes. (She owns numerous pairs of Manolos and what I wouldn’t give for my size 8 feet to fit into her size 6-1/2 shoes!) This attitude gives me hope.

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When I was 40 I got a belly button piercing. My friend Tanya and I went to the head shop with me behind the wheel of my giant mom SUV. I saw no need then to equate my age with what I was doing, but I think it scared some of the neighborhood children that summer when I brazenly showed my body jewelry as I enjoyed our swimming pool. I took it out a few years later because I was done with it.

I think the main thing in staying youthful (besides great sunscreen and laser facials every once in a while) is not getting stuck in a mindset that says, “Well, now that I’m (insert current age here) I can’t…” It takes vigilance. But that vigilance is rewarded when I feel a childlike excitement about what I can learn and do and become. And age means nothing when it comes to stuff like that, right?

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Absolutes

Life was simpler when I was younger. Harder but simpler. I thought I knew what was right for me and what was probably right for you, and though I tried to keep my opinions to myself, they lived inside of me and made life a lot harder than it needed to be. Now that I’m older and wiser (please oh please let me be wiser!), sometimes I know what’s right for me. That usually comes after trial and error and getting quiet via meditation. I rarely, if ever, know what’s right for someone else.

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Having said that, I do have a few “things I know for sure” (thanks Oprah).

  1. Drink more water. As an ardent Diet Pepsi fan, this one can be tough for me. In my 20s, I filled a pitcher with water, labeled it “beauty juice,” ¬†and put it in my fridge. It worked. Water seemed boring, but I want as much beauty juice as I can get!
  2. Water as therapy. My sister Michelle gave me a poster titled “How to really love a child” and it included these words: When they are unhappy, put them in water. When my sons were small this meant baths or playing with the garden hose with the water on low (not something I would do now with California’s drought situation), or setting them up at the kitchen sink with a colander, some Fisher Price little people, a spoon, and the water on low. This advice works for grownups too. A sea salt bath can change my mood, as can a sweaty yoga practice.
  3. If you have kids, sign them up for gymnastics. As soon as our¬†kids were old enough to do classes¬†solo (age 3) we enrolled them in gymnastics.¬†There’s so much to love about gymnastics. It enhances coordination and proprioception (the ability to know where your body is in space), teaches sequencing, and will infuse whatever sport or activity they do in the future with a foundation of body awareness.
  4. Be intentional with your sexuality. I was raised a Presbyterian, and attended a non-denominational church as an adult. At that time I would have said that God wants you to “save it for marriage” and you should try really hard to do this. Now my beliefs are different with “love is my religion” ringing true to my heart. So religious dogma no longer applies. (pretend I start a new paragraph now, ok? i can’t start a new one because it will mess up the numbered list.) I have deep concern as I see our society cheapening sex. Kids are exposed to too much too soon and it seems to be creating an “if it feels good, do it” mentality. But sexual energy is powerful and oh so easy to misuse. And when it’s misused, it’s you that gets hurt the most. So be intentional with¬†your sexuality. Choose your partners with care. If you’re not sure, don’t do it. You will never regret waiting in this arena.
  5. Practice yoga. I meant to do yoga for decades, but I didn’t have the time or patience for it, and yoga had a big problem for me. It didn’t burn as many calories as running. So it was a no brainer to choose running. Now that I have a regular yoga practice, I see the benefits differently. Here are a few: relieves stress, increases flexibility, creates steadiness of mind, eases cravings, enhances positive mood. Also if you practice hot yoga it makes your skin better, but I have yet to find the science to support this statement.
  6. Meditate. Seems like everywhere you look there’s more information on the benefits of meditation. I first started meditating 6 or 7 years ago. I would meditate for 5 minutes maybe once every month or two. (See “Failing at Meditation” for more information on this.) My resistance to meditation had to do with two misperceptions: 1) meditation consisted of sitting in silence, gritting my teeth and getting through it, and 2) the only way it would work was if I liked it. I now know that I don’t have to like meditation for it to work. In fact, I rarely *want* to meditate and even when I do, I don’t enjoy it much. But guess what? I still get the benefits.

If you have any absolutes that work in your life, I’d love to hear them.

Signing off in a new way. The very best in me sees the very best in you, aka namaste.

Leslie

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Teacher training essentials

So we’re 120 hours done with a 200 hour program and I can honestly say that I’m loving yoga teacher training. Do I love every minute of it? Hell no. Sadly, nobody (yogis included) has figured out a way to get past your own shit that doesn’t involve walking through your own shit. But to be in a safe place where growth is encouraged¬†is a wonderful thing, even if it doesn’t always feel wonderful.

Before teacher training

  1. Have a regular yoga practice. You’re going to do a LOT of yoga in teacher training. And even if you do have a regular practice, teacher training will be physically exhausting. But coming into the program after almost two years of not practicing yoga was a huge challenge. I’m happy to say that my body is much stronger than it was when I started, and I’m reminded once again that YOGA WORKS!
  2. Have a regular meditation practice. There are days when we do 45 minutes of silent meditation. Do I love it? Nope. Am I feeling the benefits? Oh yes. I’m not suggesting that you need to be meditating for 45 minutes a day, but having any sort of regular sitting practice can make the longer meditations a little easier.
  3. Buy some yoga clothes. You don’t need expensive clothes, but you need a good amount of clothes. This is because you will practice yoga 3 to 4 times a day, and there’s nothing worse than practicing in already sweated in clothes. (Ok there are many things worse than this, including trying to put on yoga clothes after showering!)
  4. Have access to a washing machine. I’ve done laundry every single night after teacher training.

During teacher training

  1. Ibuprofen. I know it’s not best to take OTC pain relievers all the time, but for this 50-something girl, regular vitamin I has been essential to teacher training.
  2. Good deodorant. You’re going to sweat a lot. No deodorant will make you completely stink-free, but you’ve got to do what you can to make things smell good for yourself and the other people in the room.
  3. Snacks. Breaks are often short and it’s important to have things on hand that are easy to eat and easy on the stomach. It may not be the most yogaish food, but I’m loving baby Brie cheeses and gluten-free crackers. Many of my fellow teacher trainees come each day with a homemade green drink of some sort. They are clearly more evolved than I am.
  4. A willingness to be uncomfortable. Much of the time I’m physically tired and sore and emotionally drained. There’s a method to the madness, though, as it’s impossible to keep the veneer shiny when you’re spent. But getting back to getting past your own shit, there’s no way to get past it if you don’t let it out. And believe me, it comes out when you’re tired and sore and hungry and at the end of your rope.
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Good grief?

The other day I was feeling out of sorts and unsure about what was going on. In yoga I realized this simple truth: I miss my parents. Almost immediately, the mean lady in my head started up: “It’s been over a year since they died!” “What is wrong with you?” “You know they were really sick, right? How can you miss that?”

I wish grief was predictable or worked on a timetable. But my experience is that grief is unpredictable and capricious and quite inconvenient. And resisting the feelings doesn’t make them better.

Months ago I read about the RAIN method by Tara Brach. RAIN is a tool to use with difficult emotions or situations and it stands for

  • R = recognize what’s happening
  • A = allow life to be just as it is
  • I = investigate the inner experience with kindness
  • N = non-identification with the emotions, sensations or stories

Brach writes:

RAIN directly de-conditions the habitual ways in which you resist your moment-to-moment experience. It doesn‚Äôt matter whether you resist ‚Äúwhat is‚ÄĚ by lashing out in anger, by having a cigarette, or by getting immersed in obsessive thinking. Your attempt to control the life within and around you actually cuts you off from your own heart and from this living world. RAIN begins to undo these unconscious patterns as soon as we take the first step.

You can read the full article here.

Maybe it’s a little like swimming in the ocean. If you get stuck in an area where the waves are stronger than you are, the temptation is to frantically resist the waves. But what works is swimming into the waves and literally going with the flow.

The other night I met a woman who was sad. She would have been celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary that day, but her husband died nearly 2 years ago. I have family members and friends who are grieving the loss of spectacular people who no longer walk on this earth. Grief is a natural byproduct of a life lived with connection and love. My prayer is that if you’re grieving, you can feel the feelings and get to the other side.

I still miss my parents. I think I always will.

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Some things I love

In an attempt to focus on what’s good here are some things I’m loving these days:

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  1. Fresh Hesperides perfume — This light grapefruity fragrance has been a staple for years and I finally splurged and got a big bottle of it. To me it smells like springtime.
  2. Rotisserie chicken from Costco — Costco now sells rotisserie chicken meat that’s deboned and packaged in 2 pound packs. Last night it became a chicken/apple/pecan salad. Tonight it will be chicken soup with asparagus. It really doesn’t get easier (or much cheaper) than this for healthy dinners.
  3. Meditation — yep, I’m still on the meditation bandwagon. I don’t always like the process of meditating, but I love what it’s doing for my mind and my mood. Today I was listening to a great book, “Bringing Home the Dharma” by Jack Kornfield. In it he describes beginning at meditation as much like training a puppy. When you take a puppy and place it somewhere and say, “stay” you expect that it’s going to wander away. So with kindness¬†you return the puppy to the spot and repeat, “stay.” We can treat our minds in much the same way. When they wander off in meditation, we can kindly bring them back to focus on the object of meditation.
  4. Kate Spade charm bracelet — I have a Tiffany charm bracelet and I love it, but with charms starting at $100 each, it’s going to remain a beautiful link bracelet. But Kate Spade has a charm bracelet ($38) and charms that start at $18 each. That is much more doable. And I love the whimsical take on life that infuses Kate Spade products. If they make a silver version of the bracelet and charms — well, then I’ll have two new bracelets to love.
  5. Yoga teacher training — this is a love/hate kind of thing. I’m loving the people in the training, and the process of learning. It’s also great having a regular yoga practice again. The hate part is that it’s tough to clearly see where I¬†fall short of what I¬†want to be and it’s uncomfortable going outside of my comfort zone, by definition. But I’m committed to seeing it through and excited about where it could lead.
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Yoga teacher training so far

I’m 40% done with a 200 hour yoga teacher training. Going in I didn’t know¬†what to expect but I was pretty sure I’d be the oldest one in the class (I am) and the least flexible (think I hold that distinction too). But I wasn’t going to let those things stop me.

My friends who’ve¬†done teacher training said it was life changing, so I was expecting it to be more than just learning to teach yoga. Turns out it’s about 40% about teaching yoga and 60% about getting past the shit that stops you in your life. I’m good with getting past what stops me, at least in theory. The practice of uncovering what gets in your way is often messy and uncomfortable and tough.

Last weekend I came right up against one of my biggest issues, that of wanting to be¬†invisible. The particulars of why it’s my issue don’t matter (unless you’re the one trying to bring¬†it into the light). On Sunday afternoon I was face to face with it. We were asked to practice teach, which we’ve been doing all along, but we were told to only use essential language. I know how to shut up. I’ve had years of perfecting that and from a young age until now it’s seemed to keep me safe. Being asked to speak, but only a little? I wanted to run. I fantasized about running, thinking “take a good look, people, because it’s the last time you’re going to see this face!” But I stayed. I prayed and I cried and I hyperventilated and then it was my turn to teach.

When it was over, I was told that I could have let a little more of myself out. No shit. And then we went on a lunch break. I strode to my car, got in, and started it up. “Last Child” by Aerosmith was playing. I drove like a bat out of hell with no destination in mind until I cooled off.

Rather than digging my heels in and making “them” wrong for telling me to teach in a certain way, I’m trying to stay open to what can come from trying something new. Years ago a counselor told me I saw things in black and white. We were in the middle of a heated discussion about something and I was irritated with her for stating the obvious.¬†She asked me if I knew what was in between black and white, and I spat back, “Yes I do. Grey. And I hate grey!” She smiled and gently said, “if you’re talking about light, what lives in between black and white are all the colors in the rainbow.” I’ve pondered that for many years. Maybe now is the time to find something in between saying every single thing that’s inside my head and deathly silence.

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