If You’re Happy and Love Yourself, Clap Your Hands!?

I’m not counting days anymore, sorry, I can’t. I am not even back at school yet and life is running away with me and I am having a hard time keeping up with this blog. In part I have been so silent because Greg and I are eagerly planning, or attempting to plan our upcoming wedding, which is so much fun and quite the rabbit hole, if you know what I mean. The wedding planning is part of it, but the real reason is it seems that ugly beast that resides within me telling me I am not good enough has seemed to creep to the surface again.

As I neared and completed my 30-Day Cleanse late last week and earlier this week that inspired this blog in the first place, reality set in, and then the anger. Oh, the anger. I will write exclusively about the cleanse, what it was, and my thoughts on it later this week. But in the meantime, I wanted to share my personal struggles with self-acceptance. I am just going to come out and say it:

  • I hate my body.
  • I hate my stomach.
  • I hate my thighs.
  • I hate my arms.
  • I hate my boobs.
  • I just hate it all.

I have spent the last 6 days pretty much sidelined with a recurring knee injury that just so happens to be my millionth ACL tear [yes, I need surgery AGAIN and no, I do not know when]. Despite my knee and its shortcomings, I have tried hard over the last 9-10 months to not let it effect what I do, how I do it, and my workouts. I have run 3 Spartan Races braced. I limped, hobbled, crawled—did whatever I needed to finish because I wasn’t going to miss out on something I love so dearly. I also ran in the SoCal Ragnar Relay. And I continued to teach yoga and cycling, AND even went back to Crossfit after taking a hiatus. My resolve reminded me that I am a fighter and my knee wasn’t going to hold me back. Unlike a fitness class when I remind people that the mind quits before the body, in my case, my body is in full-fledged rebellion mode—yet again.

I have spent the last couple of days in such agony, they even while resting with the leg propped up, I am gritting my teeth and wincing in pain. The warm, dull, radiating pain washes outward from behind my patella (knee cap) is consuming my thoughts and commandeering my emotions, and all I can muster right now is irritable or more irritable.

As I thought it prudent to scale back on Crossfit for the last week, I still cycled and taught all of classes. My decreased physical fitness level left me with plenty of time to berate myself for my body quitting on me [again] and for the self-hatred to build a not just a home but an offensive mansion in my mind.

I’m not a wallower. Well, I was for a long time in my adult life, but in recent years I have consciously worked to remain positive and active in creating the life I wanted for myself rather than succumbing to circumstance. But over the course of the last few days in looking in the mirror at my cellulite riddled thighs and ass and my soft tummy, I became angry and bitter. The “I work so hard” and “I eat right” and “I hate myself” commentary ran on repeat in my head. I have cried and spent hours trying to figure out how I can possibly avoid wearing a bathing suit on the trip Greg and I are taking next week to Lake George.

“Maybe if I were tanner, it’ll conceal my cellulite.”

“Maybe I can just wear my lululemon shorts with a bathing suit top…? Yeah, that may work.”

So, why do I hate myself? Why can’t I accept who I am? Why can’t I love my body for all that it does for me?

Better yet, how does one learn to love his/her body?

Over the past week, in the last two WOD’s at Crossfit (including today’s), I did well. I would be so bold to even say I did very well. Despite my unrelenting standards and ferocious competitiveness, I ran well, worked hard, and posted great times. Why am I so unable to pat myself on my back and celebrate my own victories? You know why? Because nothing is ever good enough and the same even applies to yoga. My knee has made balancing postures really difficult for me. Actually, it’s very painful so I even avoid demonstrating on my right leg (well now you all know, so the jig is up) and my yoga has taken a major hit due to the instability of the joint. Most days, Vinyasa Yoga, my favorite type of yoga tends to put stress on my joint, triggering pain and discomfort. Much of my personal practice has stagnated and all of those amazing grand ideals of being able to tackle more complex poses have left me feeling deflated and worthless. I mean, how can I be expected to participate in the yoga selfie game and flaunt my asana if my body is shutting down as I am marred by injury after injury? I am being slightly sarcastic here, because I hate the vanity aspect of yoga and the fitness world, but if you want to play in the sandbox sometimes you’ve gotta play by someone else’s rules—it’s just the way it is. Sigh.

I think what is so hard for me to digest about this all is that I feel robbed. I do. I feel like the things I love to do have been prematurely plucked from my grasp and dare I say it—undeservingly so. So the anger sets in. I am frustrated with my body not only for it giving up on me, but despite my workouts, and commitment to nutrition—my body never changes. There I said it, and I feel better for being honest and just putting it all out there.

I try to practice kindness to myself and I try to be patient, but beyond that I do not know how to accept myself. Admittedly, I also don’t know how to love myself. I certainly can help others embrace their bodies and celebrate themselves, but why can’t I do the same for myself? Recently, my dear friend Kat shared something with me while I was venting about my frustrations, “Would I let someone say all those things about my best friend?” The obvious answer is best friend or not—I would never allow someone to say the things I say andthink about myself in my presence about another person I know. So, why am I giving myself permission to hate myself?

Hipster Finds Lifestyle Too Expensive, Reverts Back to Mainstream

Arielle:

The lesson to be taken away from all of this: Be yourself and no one else. Own who you are and love who YOU are. The best gift you can give yourself and the world around you is your most essential self. And if the world doesn’t like you–tough. You are you and that is wonderful. Be you. Do you. Own you.

Originally posted on Lettuce Fold:

HipsterASHEVILLE, NC — Derek Loy has been living the hipster lifestyle for the past two years, but after his bank account began to dwindle, he reverted back to mainstream customs.

“I tried my best,” said Loy, “I really did. I was juicing regularly, eating local and organic, and was doing my best to only drink craft beer. Unfortunately, my bank account just couldn’t handle hipster living.”

Loy said the added stress on his bank account caused him to revert back to a more conventional lifestyle, that he enjoyed in his pre-hipster years.

“All the stuff I was doing was great. Kale salads and IPA’s are delicious, but you know what’s also fantastic: cheap stuff. Bud light, frozen chicken and pizza, Coke. Was I saving a lot of money on clothes? Absolutely. I mean, I was buying stuff from thrift stores that homeless people probably wouldn’t wear. And, because I rarely showered…

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Kindness Echoes in Eternity

Days 22 & 23: Monday, June 30, 2014 and Tuesday, July 1, 2014

They say “you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.” For years, I retreated to my left coast 3,000 miles away from my immediate and extended family and maintained little to no contact with many of my relatives. I can’t really say what happened or what changed that prompted such silence on both ends but I believe it had to do with the distance, miscommunication, and purely a lack of effort on both party’s ends.

With that, despite being raised closely with a handful of my first cousins and having quality relationships with my uncles and aunts, as I entered adulthood I retreated from my family.

I went to college then immediately after I moved to LA. As far as I was concerned, my life on the east coast was so foreign to me I didn’t even know how to be a New Yorker if my existence depended on it.

Let’s rewind a little and let me give you some family background and back-story to bring us all up to speed.

My father has three siblings: His oldest bother Ira, younger sister Stacey, then the youngest of all, Seth. My father is the second born in case you were wondering.

My uncles are both very wealthy and successful businessmen in the accounting and finance worlds. My aunt lives in Florida and has led a life filled with pain and struggle with not much to show for years of working her ass off. That’s not necessarily a bad thing per say, but my Aunt Stacey has a rough go of it and let’s leave it at that. And then there is my family, my father Eric or as my sister and I call him Abba, Abbz, or THE ABBZ (Hebrew for father and no, we are not religious in any capacity–don’t ask). We are as blue collar as it gets. My mother works in New York City for Con Edison at the same employer since she was in her late teens doing the same work every single day of every single year.

My father on the other hand has had a myriad of jobs, businesses, partners, stores, and grand plans. I guess you could say, that he’s had to find his way of sorts. In many ways I resemble my father with respects to our desires to have many different interests and the need to cultivate them all simultaneously. However, despite my father’s initially abrasive nature, he is a passionate and heart governed man. He is a voracious reader, watches documentaries (and the Lifetime Channel, he LOVES rom-coms), gardens, takes care of all the pets with patience, and is the essence of a life-long learner.

My father was the best teacher while my sister Kassi and I were growing up. We were what I would classify as ‘pretend middle class’. Meaning we had a nice enough house, cars, and zip code but we were barely getting by and bought our shoes at Payless. I didn’t get my first pair of Nike sneakers until I was almost 13 years old and they weren’t even the Nike Air model because we couldn’t afford them. But not having quite as much as my peers didn’t really phase my sister and I much, as my parents worked tirelessly to make sure our family unit thrived and that my sister and I never knew of their financial woes. We took winter walks on the beach, had family picnics, went to the nature preserve, watched movies, went to museums, and my favorite memory of all from my childhood: bedtime, when my father would read aloud to my sister and I. Now, this seemingly idyllic childhood definitely didn’t come without a price.

In my youth, I experienced something that I shouldn’t have.

At the risk of sharing too much with the world, I am only going to talk about how events in my childhood affected me and those in my life. Specifically my family. So if I appear vague, it’s not that I do not want to share: I am ready to share my story with the world. I am holding back out of respect for the people I love. Wow. I think they call that maturity and growing up. It sure feels good to be an adult!

For as long as I could remember, I was angry. I was filled with a rage and fire that when unleashed transformed me into a demon. I was violent and biting with my words. I said terrible things to the people closest to me and never apologized. As a teenager with all those hormones coursing through my veins alongside my anger, I was impossible to wrangle. I retreated into art and writing for solace. During my adolescence, I was in and out of therapy–on and off various medications for depression and I also developed an eating disorder. I was an internal mess but to the outside world with my boyfriend, sports, decent grades, positive relationships with my teachers, and great wardrobe, I had it all. In hindsight, I was not asking for help, I was screaming in a room full of people and no one could hear my cries.

I went off to college and got into some trouble with a credit card. Knowing my parents would murder me for being so irresponsible, I called my Uncle Seth to ask him for help. Sure enough, not only did he bail me out but he wouldn’t tell my father either. PHEW!

As the years unfolded and social media exploded, so did my desire to express myself publicly (I guess something’s will never change, huh?). My Uncle Seth, much more conservative than I, home-schooled my cousins, and then sent them to private schools. We didn’t really have much in common as I grew into adulthood other than I was a public school teacher and felt strongly about not home-schooling children AND the private sector. Anyway, one day I posted something on Facebook about lesbians. I mean it was a stupid post but my reaction was even more ridiculous. I deleted and blocked my Uncle Seth and then basically refused to speak to him. Yes, the same man who GAVE me money when I needed it—I just turned my back on him, my cousins, and most of my family. I mean c’mon? They were soooooo difficult and didn’t understand me anyway. I’m an Angeleno and you’re New Yorkers. What do you all know about living life anyway?!

Ugh. Writing this disgusts me. I am ashamed and embarrassed for how I have behaved. So why am I sharing all of this?

I am now 32. It has probably been a little over 10 years since my Uncle Seth and I have really sat down to reconnect—I mean really connect as people. Two years ago we saw each other at my cousin Michael’s wedding, and even though we buried the hatchet and I re-friended him on FB there wasn’t any real resolution.

Prior to my yoga practice and some serious self-discovery, for the greater portion of my life I allowed my rage and anger to define me. I permitted this pollutant to seep into my pores, into my being and unleash a monster. I lacked compassion and the ability to be introspective. The world was out to get me and that was that. Frankly, I let my anger shield my emotions and heart like a mask and I hid behind it–afraid of ever really feeling anything or at the risk of getting hurt.

I never did thank my Uncle Seth for helping me all those years ago. I imagine I said it or maybe called, but he deserves so much more than that. Because right now, my Uncle Seth is trying to re-unifiy us, reconnect us, and mend the holes in all of our hearts. My Uncle Seth is trying to pick up the shattered pieces of our family and put them back together. It just goes to show you that you don’t have to be the oldest or patriarch to fix something —we all have the power to promote healing.

My Uncle and I have spoken on the phone twice in the last week. The first time was to FaceTime so he could show Greg and I his home in Florida as a possible place to have our wedding. My Aunt Amy eagerly and excitedly showed us the features of their beautiful home and made suggestions of how we could set up the reception. Finally, we got down to the nitty gritty family business. As I opened up to my Aunt and Uncle they shared how saddened and hurt they were to learn about some of the things I have endured over years and told me I would never have to suffer like that again. They told me they loved me and that were so proud of all the professional, personal, and emotional successes I have had in my life. My Aunt and Uncle cleared way in their hearts to let me back in and I am so very grateful. I am glad to have them back in my life to learn from, to grow from, and to just be my family.

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.

Bernard Meltzer

Ladies and Gentleman, I am sharing my story with you all to encourage you to reach out to that person in your life. You know that person you’ve been holding hostage for something they did to you. It is time to let them go. Free yourself. Moreover, give them the permission to forgive themselves. For all you know, people sometimes act out of pain, survival mode, or anger. Perhaps that person whom you view as having hurt you or slighted you was really crying for help? More importantly, make space in your heart for love to reside again. Look, I am not going to say that’s going to be easy. What I am saying though, is it will be worth it.

Over the years, as I started to relinquish the iron grip that my anger had over me, great things started to come into my life. I acted better and I felt better too.

The power in healing is when a wound heals, scar tissue is fibrous and dense. It’s tough and hard to break. I am stronger now than I ever was because I let love and light into my heart and I am starting to get my family back.

Thank you Uncle Seth for your unwavering love and kindness.

And oh, thank you for your help all those years back—I never forgot about that and never will.

 

Happy Heart, Happy Life

me kissing greg at ODD Days 20 & 21: Saturday, June 28, 2014 AND Sunday, June 29, 2014:

I am just going to be as cliché and cheesy as possible here:

I am engaged to the man of my dreams!

Yes, that’s right! I am now betrothed to live the rest of my life to one of the best people I know, my Greg.

Greg and I at Jay's BarWords cannot even begin to capture how elated the two of us are to embark upon this adventure together. We are eager to plan (yes, we have already started) and share our special day with friends, family, and the rest of the world.

At the risk of unloading all things saccharine, all of those silly sayings about “The One” are absolutely true. I mean every single darn one of them are dead on.

Greg’s arrival into my life not only marked me finding my beshert which is Yiddish (some say Hebrew—the etymology of the word was a bit unclear, but at least I tried) for destiny or soul mate, but it also marked a major ass-kicking get-my-life-together-for-real. Sigh. You have no idea how taking care of things that I have been avoiding and/or denying has lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. I feel like a new person-hell, I am. I have a diamond on my finger, oh yeah!

me and greg at ODDOn a serious note, things seem to really fall into place when you have the right partner, the right job, and the right friends. While hiking today with a friend, we talked about friendship and its evolution with time and age. Age does a wonderful thing to friendship. Getting older teaches you how to pick better people to surround yourself with but also teaches you how to realize when you’ve outgrown people. As my yoga practice continues to evolve, so does my ability to become deeply introspective (among other things). With this introspection I have examined my relationships with people and have found that well, I have just out-grown some of the people I care about and there is nothing wrong with that, there isn’t. But like many things in life, friendships sometimes just run their course.

At the proposal on Sunday, June 29, 2014 at One Down Dog I was flooded with hugs, tears, and congratulatory sentiments from the owner of our studio to students, non-yoga friends like my best friend Rachel, but then there were my yoga friends aka instructors.

My yoga friends, my colleagues.

ODD gang after proposal

A few of my friends: Joseph my former student 8 years ago ( was his English teacher), Jessica the owner of One Down Dog, Greg and I, Rachel my BFF, and my dear friend Cara

People who 2 years ago didn’t exist in my life whom are now fixtures, inspiration, confidants, and so much more. At my birthday celebration two weeks ago, I stepped back and looked around. The people who came out to celebrate with me were not the usual people whom I would have pegged for coming (and most likely didn’t even show up). But mostly the people who came to my birthday class and get-together were students from my classes. I paused and took it all in and gave thanks to the universe for sending me such incredible people and community. So, when Greg proposed at my yoga studio and my yoga family; friends, students, and teachers were in attendance. It was just perfect. Heart-meltingly perfect.

Earlier I referred to the stars basically aligning (insert eye roll if you want) when you have the right partner, the right job, and the right friends. This trifecta of sorts is what has catapulted my life into a positive flurry of happiness and boundless successes.

There is no better accessory or form of adornment like Happy. Happy looks good on everybody.

In looking back at my adult life and what has led to me to its current point, it has been a series of bad decisions with a few really good ones. More importantly, it was while I made those bad decisions that I kept an open heart that allowed the love of a great man and friends to find me.

Open your heart and open your mind then let the universe do its work. Trust the process and enjoy the journey.

In the video below (which is Greg proposing to me), I am sharing the ending of many journeys and the beginning of the most important journey of all. I am proud to embark upon the rest of my life with someone worthy of infinite love, respect, and admiration. I love you Greg. Thank you for picking me.

Kindness, the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Day 19: Friday, June 27, 2014:

By now, you may have already heard about the deliberate and selfless act of kindness by actress Amy Adams (If not, you can read a short article here). In summary, upon seeing a man dressed in his military uniform on her flight, she quietly asked to switch seats with the man. Adams was ticketed for first class, and the man she switched seats with was in coach. For so many reasons this story brought such a joy to my heart.

First, I was moved by Adams’ incredible humility in it all. She didn’t ask for thanks or make a spectacle. Adams displayed true grace and character while reaching out to selflessly to show thanks and admiration for another human soul.

Character is defined by what you do when no one is looking

It’s not about doing things to be heralded by the masses and adored by throngs of people. No matter what people say, it’s not. I think for some, they need public affirmations from an endless pool to make them feel worthy. And to a degree I understand why people feel that way. I know and understand that the desire to be loved so publicly stems from insecurities and feeling inadequate. However, the desire or need to be thanked for our acts of kindness diminishes them. You see, life isn’t about doing what’s right or easy when everyone is looking. For those of you whom have taken my fitness classes or been in my class, I speak often about our character.

From what I have observed, people are seeking some sort of validation, or desire to be patted on their backs for ‘doing the right thing’. WHY? Who started this terrible trend of if-you-do-this-then-you-get-something?! This thought process is a pervasive pollutant in our society. Random and in Adams’ case, deliberate, acts of kindness are so few and far between that when they are bestowed upon us, people are hesitant to accept them. We must stop asking, “What do I get out of this?” but rather act in the faith of true service to assist someone else because you want to and because it’s the right thing to do.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Day 18: Thursday, June 26, 2014:

It’s easy to lose sight of our progress while in the thick of life. Life is like climbing a mountain: It’s challenging. Duh? Give me a second, I’m going somewhere with this.

Obviously, while climbing a mountain there are times when it’s steep. Rocks give way and you need to adjust your journey. There are sudden changes in the weather. You get lost. And inevitably, you’re just plain tired. But while climbing this mountain aside from what seems to be an insurmountable task of getting to the top there are many successes: Easier, flatter, more approachable parts of the mountain. You find a good place to rest and catch your breath. The incredible views. And perhaps, the most invaluable victory–working hard for something and it eventually paying off. There is never, ever any substitution for ol’ fashioned grit, determination, and hard work.

BUT there is one thing I didn’t mention in this mountain comparison. While climbing this mountain often people lift their heads, see the challenges ahead and lament, “Ugh, I have so far yet to go.” And while that very well may be true, it all depends on how you look at things. Perspective can be a funny thing. Rather than looking ahead to the future with worry for the long journey ahead; what about taking a peak over your shoulder and gazing behind you…? Yes, look back and applaud yourself for how far you have already ventured. Now, turn your ahead around with renewed strength and keep climbing!

You can. You will. And You are. After all, it’s not about how much further you have to go but about how far you have already come.

Craft Your Community

Day 17: Wednesday, June 25, 2014:

At the end of the day, we all just want to feel like we belong. Whether we want to be accepted by our lover, colleagues, friends, family, or even strangers we pass on the street—we all just want to feel like we are part of a collective whole.

At our very core, most essential self, human beings are seekers. We are looking for something to fuel our souls, to connect us, empower us, to make us just feel a little less alone.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful young lady with great hair [this I HAD to tell her], an even better energy, and awesome attitude who has started taking my yoga classes. From our initial meeting, I liked her instantly. Isn’t it funny how certain people walk into your life and there is this connection that speaks to your heart? Well, I am not sure what it was but whatever it was, I felt drawn to her.

We chat.

I learn she’s new to Los Angeles.

She comes to my birthday yoga class (which did not go unnoticed!) then again to class a week later.

This time we get to speak for a more extended period of time and I learn that she Crossfits. Ahhhhh, there’s the connectionwe are one of the same. With that, I was getting ready to take the next class and we part ways. I didn’t really think much of her attendance in my classes or our chat until the following message I received later that evening:

Great to get to chat after class today…I just moved to the area about 2 weeks ago and I am sort of in transition feeling out LA. I just thought you should know that the first class I took In LA was your class…having you be my first yoga instructor on my second day in LA, filled me with a lot of positive energy that I REALLY needed that day! Being a colleague in the field of helping others reach their full potential, I understand how nice it is to sometimes be reminded of the impact you are making in other peoples lives by simply showing up and being you…so thank you for that. So you seem like a really awesome person, which are always nice to come across when moving to a new city…

I have said this before, and I will say this again: You never know whose life you are touching just by being you. This made me smile and filled me so fully. Being able to make someone feel welcome and a little less alone is what I think community is really all about. As a race, we crave and long for connection. We thirst for community. For me, being able to facilitate that means the world to me. I take my work as a teacher, blogger, friend, athlete—whatever label you want to assign me, very seriously. I do everything with 100% of my heart and I hold nothing back. I am real, vulnerable, and here for you and everyone else who comes into my life.

We MUST reach out to people with whom we come in contact. We must continue to foster community, build one another up, and support each other. After all, when it’s all said and done we are left with the relationships we build with people in our lives.

Reach out to someone, anyone. Let someone know how much their presence in their life means to you. Give credit. Share in someone’s success. Go to a friend’s birthday party. Meet that friend you keep putting off for coffee.

Don’t wait. Build your community today. After all, this is your world and you are living in it—make it the place you want it to be. Reach out. 

Gratitude Attitude

Day 16: Tuesday, June 24, 2014:

I decided I would share what I call a Personal Inventory, or more commonly known as a Gratitude List. In recent years and definitely more customary with the appearance of such happiness in my life, I have taken the time to remember how I got to the here and now. I like to take my Personal Inventory as a way to hold myself accountable to my own happiness—as a reminder that even while it’s darkest before dawn, there is always light. But more importantly, I find it’s useful in thwarting some of the negative self-talk with respects to my body or other issues. Notice I said some. Hey, it’s a start.

Now, as many of you know I surely have had my fair share of walking in darkness. We all have [or maybe you are in the thick of it at this very moment]. But once we emerge from this darkness, inevitably we will have to face this formidable foe again. It’s just the way it is. So for me, in an effort to remain a proactive participant in my life, I take a Personal Inventory of my life [and until now] I posted it on my Facebook—shouting out how great my BF Greg is, or how awesome my students were, or the killer class I took. My tendency is to use my social media as a trumpet heralding people, places, experiences, break-throughs—whatever, as a place to celebrate happiness and express gratitude publicly. To me, that is what it means to have a Gratitude Attitude: share thanks and love for those around you for the world to see.

Rather than continue to clog your newsfeed with more of the internal dialogue I have with myself, the world, and my place it in it, I am going to share with you my most recent Personal Inventory list from today:

1. FAMILY: Today, it’s especially focused on my little sister Kassondra.

2. BOYFRIEND: Greg

3. MY PERSONAL JOURNEY IN FITNESS: Hiking and Yoga

4. MY BODY: Yes, you read that correctly. My body. It houses power, grace, and my heart. It contains my physical, emotional, and mental-self. I am blessed to be able to have a body that allowed me to hike with my BFF Rachel and her dog, take a yoga class (after teaching one), THEN carry a large bag of groceries about ¼ mile back to my house—thank you Crossfit.

5. MY NEW YOGA MAT: I got to practice tonight on lululemon’s The Mat which was gifted to me and 59 others on Saturday while at an event at One Down Dog. The gorgeous pink mat with its new-mat smell tickled my heart and senses in delight. I was ecstatic to be able to use it and was exploding with excitement while even carrying it to the studio!

Look, it’s not the big things that define our lives or us. Yes, events like trauma, birth, death, weddings, natural disasters and so on can alter the course of our lives. But it’s the little daily smiles and small victories that accrue over a lifetime that ultimately contribute to our overall happiness. So trite as it may seem that on my Personal Inventory list was my free new yoga mat,  but it made me smile and brought me happiness. And despite what anyone thinks, I shouldn’t have to downplay that happiness, period. I practiced on my mat today and I was grateful for lululemon’s generosity and my community. I was happy. My new mat made my practice seem extra special today and I liked that feeling. And that feeling continued to make me happy and full of gratitude. Again, YES. It absolutely is the little things.

Life is comprised of lots and lots of little things that add up to big things.

Now, it’s your turn.

Take YOUR Personal Inventory for today…AND if you’re feeling brave, post it below in the comments section :-)

Love, Laughter, and Wine. Lots of Wine.

Day 15: Monday, June 23, 2014: 

For my 32nd birthday, my incredible boyfriend surprised me with a weekend getaway to Solvang, California. Greg booked a room at the gorgeous boutique Hotel Corque in the heart of Solvang, the old Danish town/settlement. He made dinner reservations, arranged tastings, tours and made me feel showered in love and adoration. It was such a beautiful weekend of bliss that we were both sad when it ended. Though we both found the sleepiness of Los Olivios and Solvang quaint we reveled and constantly asked one another:

“What do people do up here for fun?”

“Do they have spin classes?” to which Greg retorted, “Well, they definitely don’t have Schwinn bikes, that’s for sure!”

“Where do these people workout?”

Yeah, only fitness instructors—can’t take us anywhere.

The weekend was filled with gorgeous sun flitting around Los Olivios. I felt so free with nowhere to be, no playlists to be made, no classes to teach, and the best thing of all—not setting an alarm! It was just pure unadulterated time with my love. It was so liberating wandering around town in and out of shops, then sipping wine while nuzzling into Greg in gratitude for this man that picked me. Actually, I still cannot believe it. Each and every morning (I kid you not) I wake up and look at this incredible soul next to me and thank the universe for sending him to me. I know that over the years, I have written about and discussed how yoga saved my life. But when it comes to Greg he didn’t just save my life—he IS my life. He checks me, elevates me, and grounds me all at the same time.

Here is our romantic birthday getaway in photos for your enjoyment. And friends, if it already hasn’t happened for you, my hope is that one day you will find someone who will give a renewed purpose to your life like Greg has given mine. But don’t go looking for it—let love find you, as it will sneak into your life from the most unlikely of sources when you least expect it when you are finally ready for love, a real, true, pure and honest love. I share my love story with you because I am a cheerleader of love. May your love be great and filled with adventure!

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Eye of the Tiger

Day 14: Sunday, June 22, 2014:

Often times people ask me how do get through the tough times or rather, how have I gotten through the tough times. My answer is usually something along the lines of “The same way anyone gets through them—through.” It’s that simple. I don’t believe in surrendering when life hits me hard. I never have and I never will.

My best friend Rachel put it best during a time in my life when it seemed like all hope was lost and I hit an all-time low. She said to me:

“You are a survivor.”

And she was right; I am a survivor.

No matter what life tossed at me I never gave up. I’m not going to claim that I didn’t give up because I’m not the quitting kind. No. I didn’t give up because I didn’t have a choice. However as life would have it and I evolved, I stopped defaulting to survivor mode. I surrounded myself with like-minded, passionate people. By bringing such positive forces into my life, it made space for the right people to surface with the right opportunities. Gone were the days of damage control and fight or flight. Now I was in control of my life.

I wasn’t a victim of my life any longer. Actually, no one is a victim of his/her life. I believe that victimization is a choice. Sure, terrible things happen to good people everyday and trust me, I am not stranger to such things but I made a choice. I chose not to be defined by my circumstances and I rose above it. Rather than being a victim of my life, I became a victor.

Today I stand before you a confident and powerful woman with a past that has made me strong. By taking the steps to remove the pollution in my life, it allowed for a healthy and thriving ecosystem.

Stop surviving.

Stop being a victim and a bystander to your own life.

CHOOSE TO BE VICTORIOUS.

You will be glad you did.