One of Those Days

You know those days… the ones that go something like this:

You wake up after a shit night’s sleep; there’s no milk for your coffee; you see that your boss has changed your work schedule today for the third time with no phone call; the guy in the truck that just passed you on your bike was about an inch away from clipping your front tire when he turned; then you get to checkout at the store only to realize you don’t have your wallet — all before noon. Maybe this is tacked onto a full week of similar days, or maybe it only took these 6 hours; either way you can feel your blood boiling just below the surface, and then you get frustrated about the fact that your blood is boiling at all.

So then you get home and walk slowly to your room and fall into a heap on the bed and sit on that edge of not feeling at all or feeling all of it at once about to burst into tears.

What to do then?

Do you grit your teeth, hold it together, numb it out? Or do you allow the tears to come out of you uncontrollably pulling you over the edge into feeling what feels like too much?

Well, my advice in that particular moment would most definitely be to lean into feeling. Feelings are fleeting when they are allowed to be expressed. However, over the years I’ve come up with a better question - why does it feel like too much to begin with?

To get to the answer of that for yourself is a whole practice in self awareness and honesty. For me, the short answer to that question usually turns out to be some version of the control freak side of me feeling very out of control and uncomfortable. I spent several years trying out the ‘let it go’ movement, but ‘just surrender’ wasn’t cutting it for me; more often than not it was me just shoving emotions down deeper, or shutting them off entirely. I could feel the emotions cling inside my body as I would try to move; I could taste the words I would swallow lingering in my mouth. I needed something more proactive.

I began to practice, in a phrase, controlling the controllables.

My brain likes lists; no doubt it’s probably the side of my brain that also likes to feel completely in control of everything. So I started listing all the things that are controllable. Turns out, it’s a really short list.

YOU. You are the only thing you have control over.

Ironically, over my years of coaching and teaching, I’ve noticed that a high percentage of the time people tend to focus much of their energy on trying to control other people or situations, all while forgetting that they have any control over themselves at all.

If I am to help you remember anything I hope it is this - you have choices!

And for my kindred-spirit control freaks out there, those choices are where your controllables list gets longer. You have control over:

  • how you spend your time

  • who you spend it with

  • what you eat

  • what you read

  • what you spend your money on

The list starts to get more interesting when you also realize you have control over:

  • all your actions

  • all your reactions; or better yet, responses

  • your attitude

  • your expectations

  • your beliefs

  • your boundaries

  • your assumptions

  • how you treat others

  • how you treat yourself

  • & even how you interpret things

When you really take a look at that list, these are HUGE things. These are the things that make up your perception. Your perception gives context to life. Why is context important?

Let’s say you’ve had a great night sleep; it’s your day off from work; you’ve just finished a fun catch up with your best friend; then you get to checkout at the store only to realize you don’t have your wallet… the context around forgetting your wallet here is very different than the original story; here you may shrug it off no problem, or even laugh at yourself. Context becomes everything; perception becomes everything.

Controlling the controllables becomes the proactive solution to letting things go. If you’ve primed your perception to see things clearly as they are, then it’s harder to get wrapped up in a story about them. If you’ve decided ahead of time that your boundaries are QRS, when someone asks for XYZ you’ll be able to say no, kindly without dramas. If there’s no stories or dramas to deal with then there will be nothing that needs letting go.

Through my own practice of this, I’ve come to have more respect for the things I can’t control. Someone may say or do something that I don’t understand or like, it may even be something that hurts my feelings, but because I am conscious of my own choices and desires I have respect for others choices and desires too.

Simple? Yes. Challenging? Absolutely.

As always, this is a practice. Start focusing on just one of the controllables. The beauty there is that work will ripple into the others, as well as into your environment. You will be shaping your perception of life. You will get to respond to life instead of reacting to it.

Three Things - loving, trying, leaving

So. For the sake of giving credit where credit is due -  I’m totally stealing this idea from someone else. & the horrible part it’s that I can’t remember who I’m stealing it from. Fail. A couple years ago I came across a post of a woman talking about 3 things. Something she was currently loving, trying, and leaving. I loved it! Since then, this is something I do often in my personal writing. If what we focus on expands, then what could be a better writing exercise than this? Focusing on what you are loving, remembering what you’re trying/working on, and giving yourself permission to leave behind what you don’t want to grow! So I’m sharing mine for May & maybe you’ll like the idea and come up with your own 3 things. 

LOVING

My roommates and I are in the final days of Whole30. This is my 3rd Whole30 so its not necessarily a new concept for me; however, living out of a backpack for 13 months straight while visiting 18 new countries worth of food options (YUM!!) - well let’s just say it isn’t the best for one’s nutritional health... My body was craving a reset, and boy has it responded well to it!

Nutrition is something I’ve been interested in for a very long time. It’s also one of those subjects that has conflicting information overload everywhere. It can drive a person mad trying to keep up with what’s healthy and what’s not this week. What I love about Whole30, besides feeling awesome, is the investigative approach to reintroducing the foods you’ve cut out for the 30 days. Personally, I’ve found that proper nutrition is about as straight forward as proper movement. It depends.  There’s many factors involved that vary from person to person, that could completely change what an individuals needs are from day to day.  With Whole30, you have to tune into your own body’s wisdom; you put your nutrition to practice. You actually experience it in real time.  I LOVE that. 

TRYING

This month I’m finally putting together some online classes. It’s been a long time coming, but my dislike of having a camera in my face, and the vulnerability of the interwebs has postponed this online adventure many times.  I’m not promising that they’ll continue forever, but I’m sure going to give it a good crack! & hey - they go live June 1st! You can get the details here.  :) 

LEAVING

 I’m leaving the belief that everything has to be ready and/or perfect before I can start/launch it. Perfectionism is an old learned habit of mine that I’ve worked with releasing before. But here’s the thing about old habits... they run deep. And if you don’t continue practicing the new pathways in your brain then you will eventually revert back to the most used method. 

For me, perfectionism hasn’t been wrapped in my daily life for some time now, which is great but I then got lazy about watching for it in my life. But in the past few months while trying some new things, or getting into bigger picture projects, I’ve now noticed that this old habit of perfectionism has stunted my forward movement. Which inevitably defaults me to another old habit of mine - procrastination. 

Perfectionism forces you to eddy out; the flow of inspiration gets stalled and self doubt lingers in the shadows of those little swirly places... It is a magic and creativity killer.  Besides, nothing is ever really “done”, is it? So could you actually perfect it properly anyway?   It’s time to leave it behind and trust the process to unfold naturally and grow naturally.

Your turn - What 3 things are you loving, trying, and leaving? 

In humaness with you... 💜

Sounds of Silence

Have you ever signed up for something, let’s say a 10 day silent meditation course, and woke up on day 2 to realize that you actually just meant to sign up for the silent bit and that the whole meditation bit was more of an afterthought? Which is unfortunate because in actuality this course is all about the meditation not the whole silent bit....  ?  Yah... me too. So you know what I did? I very rationally told myself all the reasons why it was okay for me to not meditate during all of the scheduled times since that’s clearly not why I came or the part that I needed. I would just rest into the silence and take the parts I needed from this experience and leave the rest. Brilliant. 

Have you ever been completely sure that you knew exactly what you need for yourself in a given time and place, only to be metaphorically slapped in the face on the night of day 2 by your teacher, that can clearly read your mind and understands your soul, who gently and lovingly shows you that you’re actually full of shit? Yah... me too. So you know what I did? I started meditating during all the scheduled times because that’s clearly why I came, to fully experience it. All of it. Exactly as it was not how I wanted it to be. Brilliant. 

Now - in case I’ve completely lost you - I just returned from my first Vipassana course. & whoa. 

Vipassana means “insight” & it’s the meditation technique that was taught by Siddhartha Gautama, aka Buddha, and has been passed down through the years by a line of teachers.

Insightful certainly describes my experience.  It is quite amazing what you hear in silence. Especially in those first few days. As I would walk through the woods, or watch the kangaroos eat, or sit on my meditation cushion, my brain was exploding with inspiration! I had at least 9 brilliant new career paths presented in my thoughts. Different ways to approach my current business. Creative projects I wanted to start. Skills I wanted to learn. Habits I was going to start. I felt awesome and ready to grab life by the horns. If only I could just write down these brilliant ideas... but we weren’t allowed any writing materials. So then my brain just went into memorization mode; I was just visualizing me writing the list so that I could take a screenshot of my brain. Eventually, with no new stimulation my brain got too tired and bored with this task, and I could finally settle into a different kind of silence. The “being” kind, instead of the “doing” kind. 

You know, that’s where the real magic happens. In the being. Where you can feel the woods around you, and feel the rhythm of how the sunlight gives way for the moonlight, and feel the alert calmness of the mama kangaroo with a babe in her pouch. Being. When it becomes not so much sounds of silence but rather vibrations of silence. It’s the simplicity. It’s the law of nature. Humans always seem to complicate things; why? Even more than that we’ve learned to distrust simple things. I find this highly unfortunate. Simplicity opens doors. It invites clarity. Simple does not mean it’s not challenging - in fact, a lot of simple things are extremely challenging. But in my experience, it’s always worth it. It lets the magic flow... 

But don’t take my word for it - go be. & find out for yourself. ❤️

 

End note - if you want to find a Vipassana course near you, click here. I will tell you that this technique has been the only one that has inspired me to maintain a home practic before, which has never happened in the 7 years I’ve been meditating, and trying a number of methods. 

Metaphor for Change

If you know me well you have probably heard me say "yoga could help with that" more than once. You might even be one of the people that has rolled your eyes at me when I've said it because I talk about yoga like its magic. I could hear any random issue that someone is talking about in their life and one of the first 3 things I think of as a solution is yoga; be it physical, emotional, mental - yoga.  Why? Because yoga is a walking metaphor for life. It can be utilized in so many different ways, and it yields profound results when practiced consistently. 

I realize the reasons I get eye rolls is because a lot of people have not experienced yoga in this way before. Even if you've been in one of my classes in the last year or so you may not have had a profound emotional or mental breakthrough because my classes haven't been geared toward that experience in quite some time. However if you come to your mat with those things in mind it is incredible the kinds of breakthroughs and clarity that come come though. Yoga can be a huge catalyze for change. It creates space. Clearing out old, stuck places, aches, pains, ways of thinking, and holding patterns, provides room to let in the new. 

There's a Zen saying - you can't fill a glass that is already full. We often want new things in our life but we are so attached to what we already have or too fearful to let what we have go that we aren't open or available to new opportunities. This is something you can bring to your yoga mat.

"Before you can create a change, you need a true determination of where you are, what feelings it creates, and what choices you're making as a consquence." - Tony Robbins

Something I have been focusing on in my classes over the last year is to become aware of what is unarguably true in your body. Sensations, not the stories that you attach to them. When you can break something down to the truth of the matter, the sensation that arises, you can then look at the feelings that come with them with more discernment, and then you can make a choice of how to move forward from that space. You can dismantle the armor around yourself. It weakens you much like shoes weaken your feet; put in place with the best of intentions, but causing damage that may be hard to see. Breaking that armor is how you create space in your body, mind, practice, and life. You can then fill that space with the new things that you want and you choose.

Naturally this is a challenging process. Creating lasting change takes discipline and deep desire. It takes getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It challenges beliefs and stories that you may have had for years. It takes support. It takes willingness to fall apart so that you can put yourself back together...

So, stay in the pose, breathe, feel, and let the yoga work it's magic. 

in humaness with you,
Nicole

Open the Door to Presence

the door into presence is always open. the goddess breathes her sweet breath from inside this door saying, "come. come closer, come closer." the door she is opening for you is in the experience you are having right now.

pay close attention.

notice the sensations in your chest, in your pelvis, in your hands. feel the flavor of your emotions, the rhythm of your thoughts, the subtle details of your experience. this is your door in. it's up to you to enter it - or not. 


- chameli devi ardagh

When I read the quote I have shared above I think of my yoga practice. It has been a gift in my life - my door into presence..  I also get flashes of different times that students or potential students have tried to explain to me why they can't/won't do yoga. Their words usually form sentences along the lines of, "not flexible enough, not strong enough, no balance, I couldn't do the pose we tried last week."  However, the feeling behind those words is that they are uncomfortable, and don't know how to sit within that space. They are choosing to not enter that door...  We can tend to seek familiarity in life, in our relationships, in our bodies. Even when that familiar feeling is the opposite of our said desire, or even destructive. Pushing outside of that comfort zone and into new territory can be scary. Especially when you think every other person in the room has their shit together, and knows what to do.

All of this is true even outside of yoga, but as a teacher of yoga there is something that I always hope to get across in my teachings. Which is that your experience of yoga is the right experience. The sensations that you feel in your body during a pose is the truth of the matter; its not that a pose should make you feel certain sensations. When you play in poses with curiosity, verses judgement, you get a chance to learn about a piece of yourself. Yes it might be intense, or challenging - physically or mentally - but your response to that is where the experience lies; that your door to presence. Yoga is not about nailing the pose, or which poses you can or can't do. It's about embodiment. It's about embracing each sacred piece of yourself - because all of your pieces are sacred. It's called a practice because you get better at it the more you do it. Not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. 

Personally, I don't practice yoga to become enlightened. I practice yoga to love my humanness. To realize the strength my humanness gives me. To recognize my weaknesses so that I know when to get support. To become resilient. I practice to be present with what it is.

[Life's] about peeling away the prince's armor and loving the human down below. It's about wiping off the princess's make-up and loving her divine humaness. It's about finding romance in the naked fires of daily life. When our masks and disguises fall away, real love can reveal itself. Forget fair tales - the human tale is much more satisfying. We just have to learn how to get turned on by humanness. (Unknown)

The door is always open. I made the choice many years ago to enter it. So, now it's up to you...

in humaness with you,
Nicole

The Hunt for Truth

A couple weeks ago in class I randomly started talking about using my practice for seeking truth. I had no intention whatsoever to theme my class this way, it was just one of those moments where humble brilliance hit me and I ran with it. I went home that night and tried desperately to remember a few of my one liners, but no luck. I have learned that inspiration is fleeting, so this really came to no surprise; however, I couldn't shake the concept. 

I started to explore it more at home. I used to have a teacher that talked about truth seeking in class, and I always found those particular classes profound, yet it was an idea that I hadn't really thought of, at least consciously, in years. I say I haven't thought of it consciously, because I quickly realized during this exploration just how rooted this concept is in my personal practice. I've had at least 3 different teachers drive this home for me in their own ways. It's become automatic for me to work this way now - which was the goal; at least for me it was. The yoga did (and still does) it's work on me. It's lovely. 

Asana provides an endless amount of metaphors for life, which is one reason its so powerful in creating change beyond just the physical aspect. Sure, your asana practice can easily be just a workout, a sweat, or a stretch, but it can also be a mirror, a teacher, a tool. It can show you the stories you make up in your head about yourself. It can guide you through the places where your triggers hide. When used effectively, it offers a playground to learn, understand, and even change the way we respond to ourselves, to others, and to life.

I should mention, you have to be willing. Showing up is half the battle, and sometimes the hardest part, however, truth seeking takes more. Truth seeking requires you to acknowledge what is. To hear the story, yes, but then kindly toss it aside because you recognize that it is just a story. There's no staying power in blaming yourself, or others. No more excuses. Now is the time for forgiveness and personal freedom. Truth seeking asks you to rise up, to let pettiness and fear fall below you. To expand into your vastness, your limitless marrow, your quintessence! 

Perhaps I should also mention, this isn't for the faint of heart. Getting down to the truth of a matter means removing layers, shields, protection. It means there will be times that it gets uncomfortable, and downright scary. It's a pilgrimage; and on going at that. But if you persist; if you stay the course - what a relief it will be. Because in truth you find love, lightness, tenderness, fondness. It feels like coming home. Like a soft exhale. Like watching a sunset. or a sunrise, if your into that whole early morning thing... My point is truth has a special kind of magic and authenticity to it; so make the choice to seek yours.

Be love and be loved; this is truth at its core. The rest is just a story.

lovingly,
Nicole

An Experiment for Lightness and Space

Lightness. Space. Movement. Ease. 

While these concepts sound simple enough, it seems living them can be downright impossible at times. Why is that? I often give an experience of this in class by using my favorite prop - a block. In fact, you can do this with me right now. 

Grab a block; if you don't have a block then just visualize one in your hands. As you hold your block between your hands, close your eyes and breathe deep into your belly. Let your mind bring up challenges you're facing, or avoiding. When one pops up in your mind, place that thought into the block. Watch yourself move it from your mind and into the block; feel it. Allow each challenge to come up, and then place it in the block. Notice how with each thought, the block gets heavier. Keep going until all of your challenges are held inside of your block. How your body feels as you move them from yourself, to your block? Can you feel the weight in the block that you carry everyday? 

The reason the block gets heavier is because our thoughts are energy. Energy likes to move; when it doesn't move out, it moves deeper in. The degrading self criticisms, the hard conversations you are avoiding, the crap food you ate when you were stressed, the over analyzing of what so-n-so must be thinking of you; imagine what your body, and mind, would feel like without them. Lighter.

The actions needed to clean up these heavy places requires focus and discipline. You resist. Its easier to deal with what you already feel currently because its familiar; it feels safer to live in the house you've built, than it does to tear that house down. But aren't you tired of dusting the same cobwebs out of the same corners? and honestly how long did it take before those new curtains stopped feeling new again? 

It's time to knock down some walls. Cleaning your mind, body, and spaces is a must for healthy living. It makes room for your creative spark to ignite! & yes, you do have a creative spark; everyone does. Yours might just be buried under the stack of obligations and expectations you chose to live under. 

"Deep living is dirty, sweaty, gorgeous work. We will accumulate things, but your soul wants to be mobile - unencumbered - in touch with all the parts of your life." - Danielle LaPorte

In other words, your soul wants to be free. flowing. light...  
When you make room to move and stretch, you grow. When you grow, creative energy keeps flowing. This is where ease comes from. Ease allows you to engage with life; it allows embodiment. I don't know about you, but embodiment is exactly what I'm after. Real, raw, full, loving, embodiment of my deepest self.

in humanness with you,
Nicole

Live Brave

Raise your hand if you sometimes get scared or nervous to share your differing opinion.  *raises hand*
Raise your hand if you sometimes say yes to things out of obligation instead of desire.  *raises hand*
If you have ever passed the blame to someone else because you couldn't take making another mistake that week.  *raises hand*
If you sometimes feel like the only person that is going to meet your needs, is you.  *raises hand*

You might do all of these things, or you might do different things. These might be a normal response of yours, or maybe you do them occasionally. More to the point, what do these things have in common? 

They require you to show up in your raw human form
without your superhero cape.
 

I know what you're thinking...

Uh, no cape? but I feel naked without my cape!

Yes, doesn't everyone? There are times that the idea alone of being your big, open, true self to someone is enough to cause sensations inside that are physically revolting. So how do you endure this? How do you discern those sensations, shift out the stories that come with them, and then step forward and show up in your raw human moments?

I think it has a lot to do with trust - not only in others, but in yourself.  I'll be dishing out plenty of Brené Brown wisdom today, she talks about how we do indeed need to pay attention to who we are being vulnerable with; that people need to earn the right to see you in your big, open, raw form. Not everyone will be equipped to support you properly, or even tolerate your story, based on their own stories and experiences.   

I feel like this is why self-trust is so important. It is a journey, just like everything else. To trust yourself, you have to really know yourself - know your goals, and what motivates you; know your past, and what triggers you; your patterns, and if they work for you or against you. When you know these things you can trust in your decisions better; when and who you can be vulnerable, be seen fully, with. 

Brené Brown talks about "rumbling with trust" in her latest book Rising Strong. She shared an acronym that she uses to rumble with trust in relationship to herself and others; she calls it BRAVING. Which I love for so many reasons! Brave has been/is one of my favorite words of all time. You know that song, Brave by Sara Bareilles? You should; yes I know it's a catchy pop song, but the words... the words are fantastic.  

🎶 nothing's going to hurt you
the way the [unspoken] words do
when they settle neath your skin 🎶


If you don't know it, go have yourself a listen, or read the lyrics; it's got some powerful truth in it. Bravery is also necessary if you are going to show up in your life in a real way. BRAVING is a good set of guidelines to rumble with trust - Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-judgment, Generosity. I really like the set of questions Brené shared in her book for assessing BRAVING, so I am going to share them with you.

B - Did I respect my own boundaries? Was I clear about what's okay and what's not okay? 
R - Was I reliable? Did I do what I said I was going to do? 
A - Did I hold myself accountable? Did I apologize, and make amends?
V - Did I respect the vault and share other's stories appropriately? 
I - Did I act from my integrity? 
N - Did I ask for what I need? Was I nonjudgmental about needing help?
G - Was I generous toward myself and toward others? 

When you practice BRAVING, and allow others to practice with you, real connection and trust can be fostered in your relationship with yourself and others. Trust and mistakes can co-exist when you are brave enough to show up without the cape. How would it feel if you showed up, raw and real, to someone and they responded with understanding and love? Imagine it now... pretty incredible right? Maybe even overwhelmingly so. This is what can happen when you dare to be brave together, to trust together, to show up. 

You are loved. You are supported. You are enough. 

Self Compassion is the New Black

Do you ever take notice on the way that you talk to yourself? The words you choose, the tone, inflections, or the attitude in which you deliver the messages you send yourself?  How's that going for you? Do you talk to yourself with the love, compassion, and respect that you deserve, or do you call yourself names, set impossible standards, and talk down at yourself when you don't reach them? 

It's a common occurrence to be your own worst critic in today's world. You have pressure from all sides; standards that society and/or family has set for you whether you like them or not. When those standards are met, it's somehow viewed  as more appropriate to be self-depricating than self-compassionate. 

But here's the thing... when you care more about perception than your own truth, you get stuck, stiff with stagnant energy. There's no flow; when you can't (scratch that) when you choose not to express who you are in any given moment, you are choosing to suppress a piece of yourself.  You are telling yourself that piece of you isn't worthy, or isn't ready, to be seen.  As if that's not enough, you also end up exhausted; your energy gets absorbed by avoidance strategies. Yuk.

So how do you change this pattern? Something that has been so deeply engrained into your pysche. Thoughts that just shoot out toxicity before you really had a chance to register what happened. They just have a mind of their own; you can't control them. Right?  Well, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to believe all of your thoughts. This is the power of choice. You get to change your mind! Paraphrasing Brene Brown here, if you can chose to believe that you are worthy of love and respect right now, then courage, compassion, and connection are going to flood your life. You can choose to embrace your humanness first: your light and your shadow, your shakes, your stumbles, and your steadiness in between. All of your sacred parts (and yes, all of your parts are sacred); choose to believe in their worth right now. That in and of itself is an act of self-compassion. 


"A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life." - Christopher K. Germer

Practicing self-compassion isn't always easy; that's why we practice. Dr. Kristin Neff is a researcher on self-compassion; she talks about 3 elements that are necessary to practice self-compassion:
Self-kindness.You must be gentle, and understanding of yourself when your experience(s) falls short of your ideal.
Common Humanity. Remember you are not the only person dealing with their shadow side; all humans are imperfect and feel vulnerable - don't isolate yourself. (Remember last month's newsletter? It takes a village.) 
Mindfulness. Have a non-judgmental, open state of mind where you witness your thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress and deny them, or exaggerate them. 

Self-compassion is about giving yourself what you need; sometimes what you need is not always what you want... It's not always easy to have the tough conversations, take the next step, or feel into your painful places. But you are worth it. You are worth your self-care, your respect, and your love. Do your best on any given day, and chalk the rest up to your humanness; it's endearing. 

RESOURCES: I've had a couple of people ask about the books I've been reading from in class, so I thought I would share them here. The Gifts of Imprefection by Brene Brown & Maps to Ecstasy by Gabrielle Roth.  Also, if this subject is moving you, visit Dr. Kristin Neff's website for more info on her self-compassion research. self-compassion.org

Healing: Made Possible By...

I've been doing a lot of pondering around the subject of healing over the last few months. In the beginning, things were scribbled all over my journal pages, like: helpful rehab tips, ingredients I need to add to my smoothies, motivational quotes, modifications for yoga poses, how many times a week I should go to the sauna, reminders to give my scar some love, and the things I want to know about the person who used to take care of my new ligament.  Basically I was in "don't worry, I've freaking got this covered, stay strong" mode.

Fast forward a month or so, and my scribbles started to change... there were just endless questions, like: What does healing really mean? How does it transpire? Where does it truly take place inside of us? Does physical healing run parallel or adjacent to emotional/mental healing? Can you really have one without the other? How do we uncover the places inside us that need healing? My started to shift to "am I going about this all wrong?, uncertainty, learning new things is freaking scary" mode.

Let me tell you, one of these modes tends to sit a lot better with the general public. Can you guess which one that is? When someone knows you've had surgery, and they ask how things are going, and you tell them "shit hurts, and it's scary," they start to get squeamish. They do their best of course, but the conversation usually comes to an end quickly. After some testing out of different ways to answer people, and sometimes trying to make them squeamish on purpose (if you are one of the people that saw me on a day I was choosing to be brutally honest, I apologize if I made you want to runaway, but thank you for being my ginnea pig!), I came to find that people really dig on the whole self-empowerment stuff. "I'm kicking this rehab thing's butt!" gets way more follow up banter from folks.

After my week of experimental responding with family/friends and strangers alike, it really started to bring up my biggest healing question so far:

Who is going to hold space for me while I go through this healing process? 

Which brings me to my point of this collection of thoughts. Healing is made possible by connection. We are hardwired social beings; we have an innate drive toward companionship. I read somewhere that willingness to empathize with each other's emotions is what relieves our burdens. In other words, heals. In my experience it actually is a bit deeper than that... Healing occurs in emphatic moments, yes. However its not just because someone is empathizing with you; it is when you allow yourself to be seen, choose to put yourself out there in raw form, and you get that reflected back to you in the eyes of another. That is connection that heals. 

Fun Fact: happiness research shows that the connection with close friends is the single most determinant of peace of mind. 

So, if you are hardwired for companionship and you know how good real connection feels, how is that you get stuck in a pattern of suffering? Any painful experiences, in all sizes, shapes, and forms, of abuse, rejection, abandonment, and/or shaming leaves wounds that can last. These things create an understandable notion that it would be better to numb your emotional pain rather than risk making new connections. If you take an honest look at yourself, does this relate to you? If it does, my next question is this... How's that working out for you?  
Brene Brown said, "when you numb your pain, you also numb your joy."  That, my dear, is a cost that is too high to pay. You are worthy of connection and support. You are worthy and capable of deep healing. Step out from behind the walls you've built and show yourself to your loved ones; from there the world awaits.

I see you.

ps - In case you were curious, I did find my people. The ones that held, and continue to hold, space for my healing process. They provide me a loving space for me to dig, mend, and learn. The days when "shit hurts and it's scary" are fleeting.
Also, I can't begin to share my overwhelming gratitude for you. All of you, for your kind emails, cheering me on in social media with hearts and likes of support, and your sassy neediness to get me back to teaching. I cherish each of you that has crossed my path over the last two years of my teaching journey. Thank you.