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It is my choice to be happy or sadExternality should make no difference Over time discontent poisons the soul And the gut Until what? Happiness does not come via circumstance There is no catalyst No happy ending There is Now Or never Awaken immediately Or else suffer There is no list to check off No wrongs to right The choice is in front of us A moment's decision Forgive, let go Before anyone else The first and last say is You Permission granted All views slanted In this direction All arrows aimed with vigor Right at your center Asking if now is a good time Knowing there is no other Decide Make a statement I Am Okay I Am Blissed Ecstatic Right Fucking Now The past is over No more memories a blur I am awake Aware So are you Look Listen Absorb But don't label Let go of descriptions Prescriptions Analysis Interpretation One station Or another Let go Just be Clean slate Brand new You're You I am me Whoever we want to be Let's just Be Choose


What's In A Pose?

First off, thanks for reading. I’ve had this little site going on two years now. I have no clue how to advertise, except sharing with my friends on Facebook (thanks for indulging and embracing). The only part of this that feels natural is writing. I genuinely enjoy expressing parts of my life and ultimately the hard truths I’m learning as a very fallible, but earnest human being. Perusing my archive articles shows me how much I’ve evolved, how much more honest I’ve become, for better or worse. I can release this content into the digital universe and feel good knowing I was truthful and I aimed to provoke thought, laughter, hunger, insight, joy, enthusiasm or encouragement. My intention was and still is positive. I certainly hope that comes across.

So the photo I included (and will ultimately use to trick people into reading my writing) is from this past weekend when I was visiting my family in North Florida. I always love going home, but every time I go back it’s different. I feel so much more removed, no less close to my family, quite the opposite in-fact, but I feel more at home where I am, in Chicago, with my little apartment, my delicious man and my cooky dogs. I feel so much happier, monumentally happier, calmer, kinder and more at peace than I’ve ever felt in my life.

I was able to see one of my oldest, dearest friends in the world. We’ve known each other since the age of 4. My first and longest friend. Growing up, we were polar opposites, in appearance and personality. We grew apart and back together over and over, but who we are now has merged so beautifully together, like I have more of her and she has more of me. We’re very yin and yang. She’s always had such an amazingly open, compassionate heart. And I’m enjoying feeling more like her, more open in heart, less trapped in my head. Maybe I’ve just softened, she’s probably just as awesome as she always was. But we’d both agree in being smarter, more confident and more happy than we were in our younger years.

So now that I’ve given myself permission to be who I want to be; vulnerable, expressive, open, kind and trusting, funny but not acerbic, honest but with tact, my experience of life has transformed. Before, I saw my flaws, my negative traits, my guilt, my doubt. I saw the exact same thing in others. Now, I’m still aware of the negatives, but I’ve recognized and devoted more attention to the positives, including following a career path that may not be financially lucrative, but is beyond rewarding for my mind, body and heart. That choice has made my relationships better, brought truly awesome people to me, and provided a mirror into relating to myself.

Sounding schizophrenic? Stick with me. I realize now that as a young adult, early to mid-twenties, I felt very defined and glued to my labels, to my past personality and interests. I think moving, changing your life and your surroundings majorly helps thrust this change into high gear, but it is totally within the confines of us all to choose a new path for our future. If we want to be happier, we must be willing to change and to accept change. The only thing that never changes is change! It’s true. No bullshit.

I’m observing how annoyed and often bitter I used to be toward people I felt didn’t deserve their lot in life, for whatever reason. All that did was served to poison me twice. There will always be some who are better, smarter, hotter, richer, slimmer, worse, dumber, uglier, poorer and fatter than we are. No, we will not always like these people, but that doesn’t mean they should get a stake in our happiness. Fuck that. Then we’re stuck in this angry, irritable, negative state all the time, closing ourselves off to our potential and to perfectly good people who are out there, not complaining, who choose to be the reason they are unstuck, happy and grateful to have a life to live.

It’s helpful to remember no matter how great or grim our current circumstances, this, too, shall pass. When we accept and embrace change, we learn to roll with it, instead of swimming against it. Again, the only constant in life is change. Embrace the ebs and flows, the highs and lows, the monumentally ecstatic and the gravel below. Something in you must give comfort in hard times, bad days, tough experiences. There is a strength, an intelligence in you that is an unwavering calm amongst any storm. Simply recognize it.

So, what’s in a pose? To me this pose and photograph represents overcoming fear of the unknown. My hand and foot was sinking. I’ve been practicing for 10 years and only recently have become comfortable in this very challenging balance. It was a posture I resorted may not be in my future, for any number of reasons and excuses. Even just a couple of years ago I’d be so critical of myself that even if my mom suggested I do a yoga pose in my bathing suit in front of the water, because the setting is beautiful and it inspires expression, like a big open smile of a posture, I’d avoid it.

Now, I don’t give a shit. I feel strong and more balanced inside, and if I can express my inner joy and my appreciation for being alive outwardly, then why not? There will be people who don’t like it, think it's indulgent (which I can understand but I still don’t care), egoic, or ugly. Who knows? It’s not my business what others think of me. I concern myself with me and the better I am to myself, the better I am to others. It’s just worked that way. I’m surrounded by breath-taking people, they fuel me to keep growing.

Apologies for the cleavage, that pose isn’t entirely gravity resistant. Once I surrendered needing to achieve this specific pose, I nailed it when I was relaxed, inspired and just enjoying the moment. Valuing who we are inside will always project out, it is a force that cannot be stopped. Enjoy it.

The further we sink into the sands of our soul, the freer we are to expand in all directions. Be whoever the fuck you wanna be and give those around you the same permission. Life will be exuberant, the tough times will rattle you less, and the exciting times will encourage you more. Go with the flow, try something challenging and be willing to fail, embrace all that you are and you’ll take yourself far, enjoying the journey much more along the way.

Please feel enthusiastically invited to check out my articles on MindBodyGreen, to connect with me via Twitter and Facebook, and to join me for classes in Chicago or on retreats around the globe in 2013.

Saying Goodbye to Who You Were

Every year since I became an adult has been exponentially better than the last, in particular from about 25 on. The last year carried many significant events that thrusted me forward psychologically, spiritually, whatever you wish to call it, through good times and bad. I’ve never felt more grateful, more genuinely happy from the inside out, more excited by each day’s possibilities. I like myself more, this having little to do with my external circumstances, my looks, my income or my possessions. I feel a light emanating brighter and brighter each day. Not only do I feel this so potently within myself, but I see it so much more in the eyes of others. I love me more and that has led to my tolerance and love of everyone else. Boy does life change you if you let it. It’s been 10 years since I graduated high school. I have no use for the past anymore as I feel I’ve learned, I’ve appreciated what was, and now I’d prefer to surrender to what is. What is interesting when observing how much I’ve changed is how much more I feel like myself, my old self seems eons away. And what’s even more interesting is the dynamic with friends from the past. Everyone changes, but not necessarily in the same direction, nor should they. I love my old friends, and a few have grown right with me and are still major bright spots in my life, but I can tell some of them think I’ve drank some sort of KoolAid, my happiness makes their eyes roll, because they’re clearly confused what happened to their cynical bitch of a friend they knew and loved before.

I didn’t hate high school. I certainly didn’t love it. It’s such a concentrated group of insecure, immature, unhappy, selfish people. I include myself in this group. No judgment. We were in our teens, hormones raging, independence booming, self-confidence questioned around every corner. I had a great group of friends in both high schools I attended. They were funny and smart, less concerned with being popular, more concerned with fulfilling their academic and extra-curricular activities, having fun and surviving each week. Very few of us were having sex, drinking and no one I knew did any sort of drugs. I never thought of myself as innocent or naive, but clearly I was. I was filthy in my mind, had a dirty fucking mouth, and was skeptical of most new people who came my way.

From about 16-22 I connected with people who most resonated with my sarcastic views. I was and am a very loyal, loving friend. That I can honestly look back and feel okay about, but how I engaged with those I deemed unworthy of oxygen was less impressive. I had such little patience for the ignorant, unintelligent, unfunny, superficial or any other quality I felt too negative for my presence to tolerate. This was my skewed view. I didn’t give these poor souls a chance to prove me wrong. Sure, I felt perceptive and smart enough to decipher between the “good” and “bad” pretty easily, why waste time? But how I engage with people now is so much kinder, so much more open for them to surprise me. But then, I lived in the bitter barn, quasi happily, proudly, fuck off or I’ll bite you with my words. Tons of fun I was.

What my judgmental eye tells me now is how my lack of self-worth manifested into this staunch defense mechanism, defending the truth, defending the funny, defending the righteous, but at what cost? Burning a bridge, making someone feel small, negatively permeating my bad juju into the room. I was always first to stick up for what I thought was right. If someone was making fun of a fat person, a person of a difference race, religion, or background, here came the facetious feline to save the day. I had no concern for tact, for the very simple law that violence of any kind breeds more violence, so to fight fire with fire was just as stupid as the bigots I was aiming to defeat. Oh the irony.

Me and one of my closest friends used to have this joke, this rule: 3% of the male population are dateable. 1% are gay. 1% are taken. So that leaves 1% for us to find, approve, wrangle and dominate. So many men/boys who weren’t my friends irritated me. I felt every word that fell out of their mouths was scripted. I was in no mood to play a role. Love me for the harsh bitch that I am. Truthfully, my insides were a damn marshmallow. I could cry at the drop of a hat. Animals, people who were suffering in some way, made me bawl. I felt so guilty and helpless. Why them? So I had compassion in my heart but it was encased, locked and shrank in size until real love came into my life and slowly chiseled that guard away.

I had little tolerance and understanding for differences then. Not basic differences. I grew up being taught to accept people as they are. I didn’t care what color someone’s skin was or who they loved, but if they seemed inadequate mentally, any semblance of patience I had flew out the window along with any potential connection with this person. In college, I felt nauseous by sororities and fraternities. It’s still not my thing, but who fucking cares? Plenty of normal, nice people join and it’s not my business what they do with their money and time. Just because I’m a lame ass who doesn’t party doesn’t mean everyone who does is a douche.

Entering the world with this very sharpened lens, assuming most people will disappoint me, waiting for them to just say the wrong words, created an outside experience that reflected my inner reality. People suck. People are stupid. People are assholes. Mediocrity thrives. The weak survive. Being alive is just meh. That was precisely my experience. It didn’t occur to me then to change my internal rhetoric, work on improving myself and then maybe give others that same permission. It took some amazing friends, close family members and my very open and loving man to show me the tiny flickering light I had inside me.

It is terrifying to be loving all the time, especially to a cynic. My ego does not want to be proven wrong. My ego doesn’t want to let go of my previously touted “strengths.” It doesn’t want to move on from those friendships and it certainly doesn’t feel comfortable unless I’m critiquing the world around me, especially judging myself. Nothing I did ever satisfied me. No accomplishments in school, no acquisitions that I earned, no opportunities I seized. I still carried myopic vision and until I saw the world with truly open eyes, the cycle would repeat and I’d stay forever the same.

The only thing constant is change. I finally recognized this, saw that the periphery of my life was in ceaseless, transient motion. Things, people, situations flew in and right back out. Something in me resisted this by staying rigidly the same within. I am cynical. I am sarcastic. I am left brained. Athletic. Organized. Timely. Efficient. Everything else is sub par, nothing to be learned from them. Except everything. I voluntarily imprisoned myself in my own labels! I did this to myself and it trickled out to others and then sprayed right back in my face. I’ve had great friends throughout my life, again, I wasn’t a total C, but just comparing how I feel inside now when engaging with the outside world, I can feel how foreign my old self used to be. Instead of feeling empathy, seeing how alike I was with my fellow man, I saw only differences. Forget learning from these unique characteristics, I had all the information safely stored in my head, recycling the same garbage opinions over and over, shackling myself tighter to my skeptical beast of an ego. I had to break free.

I’ve written about this subject before, but seeing myself with new, fresh eyes fills me with enthusiasm to share, to maybe connect with others on this issue. You do not have to be who you were forever. Changing for the better, meaning opening yourself to new people and experiences, and daring to love yourself can and will only affect you positively, regardless of any questions, confusion or even resistance you may feel from people in your past. This is who I am now. I love being alive. I am so grateful to breathe, walk, eat, laugh and love each day. I have met some amazingly fascinating people in the past few years, in particular since deciding to open my mind and heart and never close it again. People have burned me and bummed me out but those are just individual cases of assholes. Yes, negativity is everywhere, particularly if you look for it. If you choose to see the goodness in yourself and in those you hold dear, then that will give hope and space for more to enter your life. And more have.

I still find myself carrying strong convictions about certain things. Disingenuous people still irk me, but I seriously give very little energy toward it. I accept it now, just as I accept myself as flawed but doing my best. There’s already too much light in the world for darkness to survive. You have to work really hard to remain in the shadows. I feel life is so much easier now that I’ve dropped my bad attitude. The responsibilities of adulthood don’t elude me, I still feel challenged throughout my days. I merely extracted some good trust in myself. I can handle the good and bad, on my own, and I have a damn good group of people to carry me should I be too weak.

I am working to give time, energy and even money to people, situations, goods and services that sit right with me, that feel good to contribute, but fully accepting the rest that simply do not. Who cares? It feels shitty to allow negativity to fester within me, regardless if I’m making jokes about it or even if I’m right. It’s so repetitive, boring. Been there, done that. Yep, stupid people suck. What a wise, original thought. “Thanks for sharing, Danielle. We all needed to hear that little gem come out of your brilliant mind.” I am no longer defined or confined by who I was. That poor girl. I’m having much more fun now and I think those surrounded by me are as well. I have given myself space to be me and that has opened a portal for others to do the same. I certainly hope people feel encouraged by me now, rather than how I used to be.

My new friends wouldn’t recognize the old me. The competitive, sports loving, time obsessed, funny but sometimes at the detriment of others, loving but only specifically, accepting of very little, open to even less chick. I am certainly not perfect or 100% positive all the time. But I’m pretty damn happy. I know this because I can see the discomfort in others who haven’t felt their own light yet. My hope is they will but I’m alright either way. I’m stupefied to be alive!

I can’t express emphatically enough how much better your life will be and feel once you surrender the past to the past and give way for a new, smarter, healthier you to emerge from that rubble. The only person that can trap you is you. It is not the world that is fucked up. It is each of us. As we wait for the world to give us what our egos think we deserve, we’re stuck simmering in our own pessimism, our own fear, our own doubt, our own frustration. Unglue yourself, trust yourself and just say fuck it! Smile, feel the life that you are. You are breathing! You are perceiving, receiving, and conceiving at almost every moment. Get out of your head and enjoy it. YOU DESERVE IT. Stop waiting for the outside world to change so you can finally be happy. Change your internal compass, clock and mood, and let the world try to reject your contentment, your openness, your positivity. It won’t happen. It can’t. The laws of physics won’t allow it. Yes, this is scientific. Think, feel, speak, do good. It’ll reflect back accordingly. The world is a mirror, shine bright during the short time you can.

Related articles: Psychic Psychosis Are You A Stage-5 Clinger Or A Day-Dreamer? Who I Am Becoming...

Danielle Robinson Yoga teacher/ Writer You, Me and Yoga Makes 3 on Facebook Follow: @mastic8onthis on Twitter

Are You a Stage-5 Clinger or a Day Dreamer?

The past is valuable because you learn. The stove is hot. Next time, I will not touch it as I will burn myself, as I just did. See, what a beautiful lesson the past has now taught us, and guess what? I haven’t burnt myself on the stove for a while; so yeah, feeling good. Learning to surrender the emotional scars, learning from your own mistakes while not dwelling in guilt and self-punishment, now that’s another story. All I can say is when we are trapped in the past, we repeat the past, over and over again ad nauseam. It’s not cute. Nor is it helpful or enlightening. It’s repetitive and banal until it becomes predictable and damaging. I look back on the men I used to be drawn to, or the one I let myself fall effortlessly into the void too many times, and I smirk and roll my eyes. What a dumbass. But you see? It’s just that kind of internal rhetoric that does not serve me NOW, the only fucking reality there ever is. At one point, I became fed up with my own patterns and I (with the support and encouragement of my mom and friends of course, an important tool) yanked myself out of it and truly moved on. That was just men. One sliver of what’s turning out to be a delicious savory sweet pie. Now I struggle with self-doubt, less now that I’ve pursued teaching and writing truthfully with commitment, but I’ve been absorbing courage from some pretty incredible friends and colleagues, who live wildly open, naked, raw, and while I find it important to be that friend for others, who cheers them on, supports their expression and is proud of their ballsiness, I need to turn that good friend in me and direct it inward, because no one will get me to do anything but me, the good me that says I’m worthy just as others are, that just because there are streams of talent and beauty being showcased there is no necessity for comparison. Expression is expression and regardless if I blow people away, the release of letting something out nourishes me beyond what any purchase, drug or fear could placate. The bad me says it’s self-indulgent, attention seeking and nothing life-changing so why bother? Because I wouldn’t let some asshole tell me I’m worthless and shitty so why would I tell that to myself? It’s astonishing how much we can get in our own way, basically because we’re choosing fear over love. Think about the decisions you’ve made, big and small, day-to-day in how you engage with others to getting up on that dance floor or making that big speech, falling in love, reaching out when in need, whatever those triggers are for you. How often have you stopped yourself from speaking, acting, crying, believing, loving? We can change this. Patience, practice and presence.

So I’d say my fears and my sense of time, derived by my complex mind, have allowed me to slowly evolve and learn, but I’ve managed to keep some childhood patterns, the one where I won’t try something unless I know I’ll be good at it (WTF is that?! What arrogant asshole assumes they’ll be good at everything? Clearly everything worth doing is challenging. I’m learning.), meaning I must show potential in this or why am I here? The answer is growth. That’s why I’m here and while I feel it’s helpful and important to follow your strengths so you can give whatever gift is inside outwardly, we mustn't shy away from attempting things that scare us because of some hypothetical bullshit, scaredy cat attitude, where we project potential scenarios into the future, predicting embarrassment and ridicule, instead of reality where human beings are kind and supportive and appreciate vulnerability and someone’s willingness to fall down and get back up.

So the past is repeated and the future is rehearsed. Boy was I a dreamer as a child. I’m pretty sure I had insomnia. I was fine, healthy, functioned adequately, but I did spend many nights awake just pondering, wondering, dreaming, and while that’s fun and imagination should certainly be fostered, I fell into a pattern (conditioned by my past) to focus my attention and enthusiasm at achievements or events arriving at a later day. So, I predicated my happiness on something happening down the line. I’d make myself sick from excitement or stress (one might call this anxiety) and I look back at periods of my life as if they’re a blur, because I spent so much of that time trapped in my mind, reliving the past, anticipating the future. I’m starting to sound like a broken record to my yoga students because I mention this often, but everything I’ve learned and gathered in my life thus far, has led me to this truth. This may be the only thing I know for sure. Happiness exists, joy animates, enthusiasm projects, and acceptance takes residence in this very moment, this fraction of a second, Now, and nowhere else. It’s not over there, it’s not marked on your calendar, it’s not within another human being or animal, not at your apartment, or your workspace, not when you can practice your hobby, or have that drink or puff. It’s not when you graduate, when you get the promotion or raise, that new car, new bag, new stuff, new look, new friend, new romance, or the next new magical gift that will then turn the light inside you ON. It’s right fucking here, right fucking now. Surrender to that, and your outward expression and experience in this measly little lifetime we’re given will become so vast and spacious, you’ll be overwhelmed. You may enjoy the aforementioned things, derive pleasure, but these are merely bonuses, facets to a rich existence, but not the path to long-term contentment or internal success.

I still find myself questioning decisions I’ve made or will make. I find myself disheartened and perplexed by human beings constantly, those I have to deal with on a consistent basis, and while I have days where I just feel like shit, I feel low, I feel like no one gives a fuck, I’m able to pull myself out of that mind-induced slump quicker, knowing that I give a fuck and there is a short list of quality human beings and a few animals who care too. This world is consuming, moving rapidly but progressing slowly, and it’s imperative that your personal sense of time and your stage in this evolutionary process is completely removed from the world’s time, clock time, psychological time. Use the past as a tool to remind yourself you’ve repeated a pattern, get to know your inner monologue and adjust it to uplift yourself. Use the future as fuel to fire up the present, because the better you are in THIS moment, imagine the result in the next. Use time as a tool, not a crutch. Surrender the unknown, what you cannot control and what you cannot change and bring more vibrancy to learning, using what you do know, regulate what you can from within and let it bleed out.

Surrendering attachment, truly letting go is a gradual, inside out process. Giving up caffeine or cigarettes will only eliminate a fraction of the problem, until our lingering resentment and soured expectations conjure up a new vice to diminish the negative web our minds are spinning. Sure we need to let go of the past, forgive ourselves and others, recognize what’s done is done, the bell can never be un-rung, but the real strength is in surrendering each moment, accepting yourself and your extenuating circumstances AS THEY ARE, not as they could have been or how they should be or how you hope they’ll be, but accepting responsibility to control your reactions, your perceptions and ultimately your attachment to whatever IS. Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Campbell and many brilliant Yogis and philosophers explain and personify this beautifully. It’s beyond even the most beautifully written words. It is a truth you must infuse into your way of living and being. It’s not to be labeled. It’s not a noun, verb or adverb. It just Is. You just Are.

Can you continue to blossom as the external dares you to shrink? Can you give yourself warmth and light from the very essence you are when the thunderous darkness of your ego and it’s stubborn attachment to the unimportant aim to envelop you, leaving you cold and confused, even more steeped in fear, feeling even more alone. You can start very easily by accepting your mind and body as it is right now, there’s nothing you can do in this moment to change it or manipulate it so you somehow perceive it positively. Let go of comparison, of judgment, of expectation and just embrace yourself and the Now. Notice even within a challenging task how surrender feels. The more you fidget, grimace, or clench (physically and mentally), the more difficult and frustrating it will be. What you resist persists. It is difficult because our minds are cunning, clever little bastards and they seek to retell the same boring sob story over and over again. Just begin by bringing awareness to whatever your patterns are, wherever your tendency toward control manifests and through that awareness, a space will open up for wisdom, kindness, acceptance and release. Let go.

You deserve the most vibrant life a human can live. Believe it and Be it. Turn ON the light the only way possible, yourself, without worry for other’s brightness, your genuine example of acceptance and enthusiasm for this moment is bound to rub off positively on someone. And if not, you’ve got You and that’s one hell of an accomplishment. Those of us working to find more presence and light within can serve others by bouncing off ideas, giving support, and when in doubt, thinking and acting out of compassion. I am merely a work in progress, but I’m sincerely jazzed and buzzing from the challenge that is living a remarkable life, aiming to brighten my and someone else’s day and find that more darkness has faded away.

No matter the weather, no matter your upbringing, your socio-economic status, your religious or political affiliations, your sexual preferences, your grade point average, your color, your size, your current job or your dream job, your perceived status or reputation, the details of your past or projections for the future, You can choose to turn on that light, operate from your best essence and surrender to what is, to embrace here and now, proactively choose Love instead of reactively choosing fear. Surrender is under-valued and connotes images of a white flag and of loss. Bullshit. It takes strength to let go. You're a bright shiny winner.

You ARE Life. Stop wasting your energy and Live.

We Don't Need No Resolution

Humans love to romanticize endings. And beginnings. And the draggy parts in the middle I guess, but they dig a goodbye, the drama of dissolution. And so as 2011 comes to a close, I’m forced via the emotional climate and energy to reflect upon this year, make assertions and judgments, constructively criticize myself and then pinpoint a new goal for next year. But what if this year was so beautifully perfect, glorious and pristine, rich and dense, at once hazy and yet crystal clear, that you don’t want it to dissolve? I want to reside in this current state of being into 2012 and keep experiencing life with this mindset and principles. Not that I’m whole, fully realized, successful or 100% fulfilled, but this year set off a flame inside me that is already burning bright, it’s impervious, cannot be dimmed. This is not a spotlight. I am not performing. I am Alive. Excessively so. And I aim to remain. We often want to lose weight, lose/gain a job, lose/gain a relationship, start something we’ve been wanting or end something our friends have been pleading us to; none of this works. These are external solutions for internal issues. We must be patient and kind to ourselves, begin to recognize old thought and behavior patterns, bring some awareness in and see the subtle shift we make toward progress. We shift the internal and the external blossoms. Having goals to change or improve aren’t bad, clearly, but our society perpetuates superficial or cliché objectives every new year, as if that specific fragment in time means anything.

Winter is often difficult and sometimes depressing, 3 months of dissolution, we see it in nature. A more appropriate date to explore varying routes to positive change is the end of March, Spring, a time of worldwide growth, amongst humans, animals, plants, a time of beginnings, renewals, a time to blossom. However, putting an actual date on your impending change in behavior or lifestyle only keeps this goal living in the future, some distant place you’ll reach somehow but obviously progress can only really occur in the now, and keep occurring during this very moment, from the inside out.

Just speaking from the western culture I’ve developed in and observed, we begin a steady decline once fall hits, the weather cools and we roll into the “dress up like someone scary/slutty/funny/weird/obscure” time while ingesting copious amounts of sweets and probably alcohol or some fun but harmful substance, and then for some deranged reason we hop on a gluttony train, eating stale candy until we can fill ourselves with pie, starch, turkey and other November deliciousness that inevitably makes us tired so we coast on lethargy and bloat until December when the cavalcade of holiday parties take up our weekends. By then we’re exhausted from our consumerist activities, shopping, eating, decorating, napping, drinking and any combination/order of those until we park ourselves permanently onto a cushioned surface to eat some tasty meat doubled over with butter, served with sides of gravy, accompanied by items covered in cheese or mysterious crunchy goodness, which is then sandwiched in moments of time eating holiday themed savory and sweet treats, washed down by equally intoxicating special occasion beverages while you watch Home Alone for the 8th time that month because you have the case for Christmas Vacation but no actual disk and although the charm and nostalgia of a VHS tape is fun, no one in their right mind still owns and uses a VCR, nor do we want to watch that shitty version made for a 19 inch 80’s television, then stretched to fit a modern high-definition flat screen.

After Home Alone 1 and 2, you may switch back to the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story, marking the 12th year you’ve watched it out-of-order, finding somehow to see the same scenes but never the full story, rarely remembering character names or a plot but merely specific famous lines and scenarios that have embedded their way into our culture like Star Wars references. I’ve only seen the first film (the one with a handsome Harrison Ford, not episode one or whatever, nerds) and yet I know that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, just like I know in a Christmas Story the boy shoots his eyeglass out, gets into a fight, gets pushed down a slide by Santa’s boot and gets soap shoved in his mouth for cursing. It’s my parent’s generational holiday story and for some reason ours is Christmas Vacation and Home Alone. Can’t get enough of either. Back on track...

Then you have pie. And then, even though you all promised to cut back or perhaps not buy any gifts this year, the tree is up to its angel in gifts and you dole it out eagerly, most going to babies who don’t know and children who will soon forget, or simply prefer to play with the box over its contents. You add up your gift cards, inevitably lose something in the piles of wrapping paper and then you nap, waking up to another shot from A Christmas Story you saw earlier in the day. And then you eat cookies. At some point someone starts gathering trash, hoards and hoards of ugly patterned paper, tissue, tape, ripped bags, cards someone pretends to keep but actually tosses, rolled up food stained napkins, plates, half full cups, and candy wrappers, saying goodbye to numerous trees yet again, asking yourself if you’ve even had water once today, opting for whatever’s left in your plastic santa cup before you throw it away.

So you’ve had an 8-10 week sugar rush interspersed with moments of pure sloth, to then emerge at the end of December with nothing to show for it but some sugar related acne, broken zippers, burst buttons, probably some fun albeit foggy memories, and fading bitter ones of board games lost, and then a low-grade -no more singing joyfully, no more candy (until Valentine’s Day), no more forced, organized opportunities to gorge and get drunk with family and friends, no more too good to pass up sales, back to work- depression sets in.

For some reason, during this time I just described with 100% accuracy, we’re forced to evaluate our lives during a couple of months of indulgent, surfacey fun behavior and amidst all the chaos and stupor we’re then encouraged to land safely back in reality to then scout out our faults and bad habits and scold ourselves into changing after one last night of emotional and physical bingeing, to then miraculously make huge steps in an entirely newer and better direction for an infinite amount of time. No thank you. What a bunch of bullshit designed to keep us in our cyclone of crap, to repeat the same nonsense from January to December yet again.

There should be zero guilt associated with those few months of celebration, sugar absorption, gift giving and relaxing. It’s biological. Winter is coming, we need an extra layer to keep warm. That ebb and flow is natural, we’re leaner when it’s hot and fuller when it’s cold. When it comes to the more long-term, major adjustments, the resolution is much deeper and cannot begin after a night of alcohol abuse and slurred words. Perhaps we should begin on an arbitrary date, or our birthdays, or some date significant to us but no one else. The date does not matter. It is the intention and the energetic focus of that intention that determines our success in this evolutionary endeavor. Our goal as individuals and as a society is to keep getting better, internally, opening our mind and our heart a little more each day, so what we have to give only grows and a blissful presence remains despite external stress, relationship woes, excess pounds, or the absence of money.

We don’t need no resolution and we certainly don’t need it on January 1st. This is recuperation time. Time to reflect on the positives of the year, take the lessons from the mistakes and let any lingering negativity go. Time to let the massive quantities of carbohydrates digest, give the ole liver and kidneys some much needed H2O, resolve to either make changes necessary in the areas we are not happy and/or recognize the power in our own perception and reactivity. We choose to see people and situations in our own light and if that light is consistently dark and pervasively negative, then we know the change must first come within. As within, so without. If someone or something is so overtly caustic to us and others, then we must choose to remove ourselves from their presence. When it’s a necessary to suck it up and deal, then I’ve found it helpful to find the good and let it drown out the bad, whether in a human being or circumstance. We then change the way we operate toward the person or environment and the results are proof, we get what we give.

This year I resolve to feel nothing but gratitude for what’s led me here. Love.

I will allow my heart to speak up over my head and my chattering left brain to be silenced by the wisdom and acceptance of my right.

I will continue to strip my life down to simple truths and joys, food, laughter, love. Everything else is bonus.

I will do my best to choose collaboration over competition and relish the act of playing a game instead of predicating my happiness on the result. The means is far more important than the end.

I will not be discouraged when whatever external forms of success seem to be at a stand-still and when the financial well continues to be dry.

I will try to treat myself like I do my best friends and encourage them to do the same. Instead of labeling myself and others for their faults, I’ll lead and be grateful for the strengths and hope they diminish the weaknesses.

I will strive for a stream of consciousness that imbues a sense of connection with others, an unshakable calm disposition with an uninhibited self-expression, while in a perpetual state of internal and external motion.

Even those with whom I’d prefer to be apart, I wish you peace and goodness. For those I love, I wish you a balanced, loving life so full you’re overwhelmed by your happiness, fulfilled by your endeavors and satisfied in every imaginable way. I wish for us all to enjoy a full life together. Happy New Year.

May you always Eat (like a fatty), Laugh (like a schizo) and Love (like a lunatic). Remember: You’re awesome, give whatever you feel you’re lacking, let’s not take each other so seriously and have some fun in this whacktastic world.

Resolve conflicts. Relinquish control. Realize your innate goodness. Release. Repeat.


For the love of Yoga

I used to feel that life was very black and white, and to be strong in your convictions was important; therefore, you must choose one or the other. Through life experiences, exposure and absorption of provocative art, cerebral and esoteric conversations and the down and dirty practice of Yoga, I’ve not only become more comfortable with gray, but I’m now embracing contradiction, the existence of hypocrisy and the potential for relating and understanding many angles to arguments and the endless spectrum in which people live their lives. There are some key issues that haven’t changed, they’ve probably deepened, but for the most part I’m becoming more comfortable in the unknown, in the ambiguity of life. And I’m grateful. It is deeply mystifying to explore the duality of life. Being a student and teacher of Yoga, a practice meant to be inclusive, gathering, welcoming, awareness driven but never preachy, enlightenment as intention with emphasis on lessons to be gleaned from darkness and suffering, has nailed down what is really important, and diminished the weight of what is not. It resonates and elevates beyond the confines of the mat. It has taught me to radiate Yoga out and in turn, harness it deeper within. This is all very granola, somewhat cliché hippy dippy talk. I’m fine with that. My delving into the practice led me toward explorations and relationships that now make me better and my form of expression is words. Words are meaningless, but they’re all I have. I cannot paint (my art teacher made fun of me, seriously). I do not sing (to others, you’re welcome for that). I love to dance but do not have the lifelong acquired skill to express my feelings and interpret for others to enjoy, except in the creation of my vinyasa sequences. I cannot operate a camera with more than 5 settings (I leave that to the very talented and skilled men in my life). For me, I feel strong when I share, in teaching and in scribing, speaking and corresponding. I’ve been crippled by excessive self-awareness, questioning my skills, whether anyone would want to listen or read, and similar to excessive confidence and the lack of self-awareness, each are driven by the ego, by fear. Yoga shines a light on the ego’s dark existence, bringing in an awareness that slowly dissolves fear and a presence in which the ego simply cannot survive. I’ve slowly gotten over myself, not thinking of myself as great, but also not thinking of myself as inadequate. I am perfectly adequate, and so are you. I care, deeply, for people and for my life to have meaning, to feel effectual and align the external with the internal. Again, duality.

Below started as a game of wordplay, of antonyms, of complexity, and of analyzing the meaning of Yoga, both literally and figuratively. Yoga’s root word is yolk, meaning union, the roots being the union of unconscious and conscious, horizontal and vertical, mortality and divinity. What arrived after a long, run-on sentence, was somewhat of an interesting poem, and keeping in line with everything Yoga has extracted and taught, I thought instead of hoarding it, fearing its unworthiness and doubting its purpose, why not share in something many of us already love, a truth you already know, and share with some who may not have felt the magic of Yoga yet, but perhaps you can relate in your own way. We all can be yogic, being able to touch your toes or twist into a pretzel has very little to do with the intended results. Some of the most beautiful yogis in my life either cannot or do not practice what we’d all assume to be this ancient practice. It has proven benefits for your mind, body and soul, brings a deeper appreciation of this very second, eliminates psychological time, and fosters a very supportive and fun community.

I can only hope I’ve had a fraction of the impact on my students as they’ve had on me. My persistent goal is to keep learning. We’re never finished, treating the means as the end makes the end unpredictably sweeter and the journey exponentially more potent and alive. I’m no longer anxious for what tomorrow will bring or incessantly focused on having a plan. I’m embracing presence as a priority and allowing the path to unfold before my eyes. I’ve recognized I do not have all the answers and I do not need them, I’m open and willing to learn them as I’m exposed, being kinder to myself and reverberating that to my world, hoping it’s boundless. I wish for not only the people I love, but also the people so wrecked with pain, those I still do not understand, and those I’ll never meet, to find their own yogic truth. Who you are is beautiful, give fear and your ego a big middle finger. Give yourself the gift of yoga.

Shanti (peace) and Namaste (I see you, the light in me acknowledges, respects, the light in you.).

Union Symbiosis Mind and body Human and mat Ego and essence Time versus presence Self doubt and confidence Fear and passion Art and skill Strength and flexibility Inhaling and exhaling Rooting down and rising up Succeeding and failing Contentment and insatiability Stamina and Stillness Energy high and energy low Sun and snow Hatha and flow Knowing and unknown Yin and Yang Human and Being We’re all the same